Saturday, April 30, 2011

Why Isn't Mrs. Heffington Bald?

It is a wonder Mrs. Heffington didn’t go bald.

She tried EVERYTHING to get me to do my first grade class work on time. She sat fast-working students beside me. She had Robin (the prettiest girl in the entire first grade) to beg me to work faster. She did not allow me to play at recess. But I continued daydreaming of Robin and did my work leisurely. I am certain she pulled out hair daily.


Then she took me to Mr. Tumlison, the principal. He was HUGE, with a balding head, and BIG deep voice. I shook! He made sure I knew Mrs. Heffington was an authority to be obeyed. With little effort, he convinced me to work rapidly. I continued trembling! I think he felt me quaking over his knee before he delivered his three licks.

The next three days NO ONE got their work to Mrs. Heffington’s desk before me. I had learned about her authority.

In a previous post ("No, I Wont’ Wash My Hands"), I asked about authority in religion. Would you answer these questions? (Links are provided for your convenience.)
  • In Matt 7: 28-29, whom were the people comparing? Who did they think was an authority?
  • Who has power (authority) over nature? (Matt 8:23-27)
  • Who has power over death (John 11:38-44)?
  • What will happen if I do not accept Jesus as THE authority (John 12:48)?
  • What does Jesus claim (Matt 28:18)?
  • Where does Jesus have authority (Matt 28:18)?
  • How much authority does He claim (Matt 28:18)?
  • Compare a group obeying the dictates or by-laws of a convention with Jesus’ teachings. To whom should I listen?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Before Man, God's Plan

Before there was man, God finished the plan.  

"His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Ephesians 3:10-11)

God knew, before He made mankind, all men would sin.

Because all men sin, God's wrath is aimed at every man, including you. "
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." (Rom 1:18-20)
So the loving, merciful God created a plan. The plan sanctions Him to be both holy and just plus gracious and merciful.  

All things work according to His timetable. It was so precise man could recognize it. "But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. " Galatians. 4:4-5 

The Plan stipulates a sinless human sacrificial 'lamb', similar to the Old Testament Jewish sacrificial lamb of atonement.  Jesus, God's only son, was the only sinless man.   For God's divine and only son to die would require him GIVING his life. If Jesus chose NOT to GIVE his life, men would NOT be able to take it from him In Matt. 20:28 and Mark 10:45, Jesus said he would "give his life as a ransom (the 'buy-back' price) for many." The greatest love is when He would "lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13.  Jesus' most powerful statement is in John 10:18. "No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.

I wish to Intensely Highlight Jesus GAVE His life. HIS ACTIONS OBLIGATED Powerful People to Consider Him AS GUILTY when THEY KNEW He was INNOCENT.

Jewish confrontation is not resolved like ours. Confrontations were like mini-debates. It required an un-answerable accusation or a disabling reasoning. If an response was considered, it required being more profound, more UN-answerable, more disabling, or out-witting. The rebuttal must out-do any previous comment by either party. Generally the last one to speak, if he is better, is considered the winner. 

Every challenge results in a strengthening (or decline) in political power, or an improved (or diminished) ranking in the public's opinion. If challenged and won, you moved up and the challenger goes down. The reverse is also true.

Below are three of the ten times Jesus was challenged. Find the pattern. I followed Matthews account.
  1. Matt 9:1-8 (Mark 2:3-12; Luke 5:18-26) Jesus healed a paralyzed man to prove He could forgive sins. The religious 'establishment' challenged him (in their thoughts, which Jesus read.) Jesus spoke last -- he won. He increased and they decreased.
  2. Matt 9:9-13 (Mark 2:3-12; Luke 5:27-32) Jesus was challenged for eating with tax collectors and sinners. He gave his usual brilliant answer. They did not offer a rebuttal. Jesus won and increased more.
  3. Matt 12:1-8 (Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5).  The Pharisees charged Jesus with allowing his disciples to do work on the Sabbath (they rubbed wheat kernels together in their hands before eating the kernel). Jesus answered with the story of David and the shewbread. They could not refute. Their popularity and power diminished as Jesus' increased. Get the idea?
His score: 10-0 (10 wins and no loses.)

How did the people view him? He was the greatest authority of His time. 

How did the people view the religious leaders? The people could have used descriptions like pathetic, substandard, valueless, or flawed.

Now, let's add the parts. First, Jesus said He would GIVE his life. Jesus said no one would TAKE HIS LIFE from him. Second, all His victories made Him the most powerful religious leader in Israel. GIVING His life will be complex. He must reverse the power-hungry people's opinion of Him, so they will crucify him on Friday.  How can He do this?

He follows God's eternal plan. He uses silence and humility.

Note His changed behavior following the Garden of Gethsemane.

  • Matt 26:62. The High Priest asks "Aren't you going to answer?" In verse 63 "Jesus remained silent" -- He 'lost' purposefully.
  • Matt 26:63. They asked, "Are you the Christ?"  His answer of being the Christ was self-condemning. He 'lost' intentionally.
  • Matt 26:67. They mocked Him with ""Prophesy. Who hit you?" He made no answer. He suffered a 'loss'.
  • Matt 27:11. Pilate asked, "Are you the Jews King?" Again a self-condemning "yes." Again, a defeat.
  • Matt 27:12.  He was accused by the Chief priests and elders. Still He gave no answer -- only silence. Another intentional failure.
  • Matt 27:13-14 Pilate: "Don't you hear the testimony against you?" Jesus response: No answer. He is suffering a rout.
  • Matt 27:40 "Save yourself!", was the challenged to a Jesus on the cross. What did he do? Nothing. He had so many losses, so quickly.
  • "Come down from the cross." they taunted. He gave no response, and successfully lost a final time.
Can you hear Isaiah 53:7?  "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth." (Emphasis mine.)
Do you hear Phil. 2:8? "
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Emphasis mine.)
God's plan was for Jesus to GIVE his life, so you would not need to suffer God's eternal wrath. Why suffer God's wrath?

Your sins made His death necessary. Your sins put Him in the grave.
But it was God's eternal plan that raised Him from the grave, never to die again.

Because He suffered God's wrath, you have an opportunity to live forever with him.
How do you claim this opportunity?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Reporting, or Answering

Those 12 men saw so many miracles. They saw the lame leap, demons cast aside, blind men seeing, a man walking on water, thousands feed with tiny supplies, and the dead living. They heard powerful principles presented in persuasive ways, political pundits pummeled, and compelled the commands.

Yet this day, Jesus conducted an straw poll with information from the disciples. He asked, "Who does everyone think I am?"

The answers varied as wildly as the disciples themselves. Could it have been Simon the Zealot who reported rumors of him being John the baptizer. Was it Judas Iscariot saying Jesus was perceived as Elijah? Did the accountant Matthew say he heard He was Haggai? Could it have been quiet Andrew reporting "the sad prophet Jeremiah"? What ever they answered, all were in some manner similar to a prominent prophet.
Borrowed from

In one of my earlier 'lives', I was a newspaper reporter. It was easy and exciting to report what others said, and quote their opinions. I was glad I was not the editor -- I was not forced to write my beliefs.

Then Jesus plopped a powerful, poignant problem in their lap -- "Who do YOU say I am?"

How long was it before Peter responded? I believe it took everyone a moment to stop reporting and start reflecting. Most took a moment to evaluate all the miracles and teachings the last three years had supplied. They searched for the right words. I visualize them looking at each other wondering who would give an 'official' answer for the group.

Peter's answer was extraordinary. Exact. Precise. Simple. Short.

And answer was so profound, but not protective. His example of confessing faith did not protect him from danger.
  • One night he denied knowing Jesus three times.
  • One night he was the subject of countless prayers as he faced being beheaded the next morning.
  • He was the center of controversy after he baptized a Gentle to remove his sins.
Peter's confession did not protect Jesus either. Peter's words did not slacken the slaps, strip away the spit, limit the lashes, throw away the thorns, negate the nails, or restrain the ridicule.

Do problems and difficulties accompany confession?

I will switch from reporting to asking.

Who do YOU think Jesus is?
Put your answer in the comments, please. But be prepared for what WILL COME!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

He Wept Twice

Borrowed from
Twice Jesus was mournful.

Twice his emotions were visible.

Jesus was close to Mary, Martha and Lazarus, two sisters and a brother. In the early part of John 11, Lazarus dies. Jesus goes to the sisters to comfort them. He tells Martha He will raise Lazarus.

And then it hits Him. He already is experiencing Martha's sorrow. He saw Mary crying out. He saw others mourning and lamenting. "He was deeply moved". All this sorry agitated him and make him restless.

He wept.

Silently, He stood with tears flowing down His cheeks.

He hurts when His disciples hurt. He understood their pain. He, too, had possibly lost his father and felt their pain, even when He knew He would make things better very soon.

Jesus sees your pain. He knows those emotions. And today, as your heart and soul may be aching, He sobs. He will help you soon, but now He weeps with you.

A few days later, on the other side of the Mount of Olives, Jesus was riding a donkey. He was entering Jerusalem as a victorious king. People began cutting palm branches and waved them (palm branches to a Jew is like the 'Stars and Stripes' to an American). They placed these political symbols in front of His donkey to walk on. They started chanting an anti-Roman political statement, "Hosanna". The word means "God save us," from Psalms 118:25. These people with their 'flags waving' and demands for him to 'save them' was an appeal to Jesus to remove the Romans. Their statements were near treasonous. Luke's account recalls the Pharisees urging Jesus to make the crowd hush.

He rode a little further. He saw Jerusalem, the city.

He wept, again.

But this time He did not sob streams of tears. This time he cried out load. He mourned. He lamented.


The people had missed their chance. They were chasing a political idea that would lead to their destruction in 37 years. They were not chasing "what makes for peace," Luke 19:42. They chased politics instead of a spiritual leader.

Jesus hurts for people who miss His point. He cried when people try to gain  peace through sexual immorality, education, money, power, prestige, bragging, or envy. The Devil's ways do not bring peace. Sin in your life makes Him cry for you.


Jesus' way gives peace.
  • "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace." John 16:33
  • "Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 5:1
  • "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." Romans 8:6
  • "Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace..." Romans 14:19
  • "For God is not the author of confusion but of peace,..." 1 Corinthians 14:33 
  • "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace..." Galatians 5:22
  • "...endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:3
  • "...and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7
  • "... having made peace through the blood of His cross." Colossians 1:20
  • "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts,..." Colossians 3:15
  • "Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way." 2 Thessalonians3:16
  • "Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." James 3:18
If you are not at peace, your must be following the wrong leader. STOP MAKING JESUS CRY!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Don't Go Back

He was blind.

He had some friends in Bethsaida, a small fishing village. The town would one day have a "Woe" pronouncement by Jesus. But these were real friends among a village of unbelievers.

These real friends begged. Jesus is continually asked to help him. Jesus gently resists. Is Jesus testing them to show their faith? We are not told. Could God delay His answer to 'push' our faith into an action? Do we need to ask again and again? (Luke 18:1; Col 1:9; Acts 12:5; Phil 1:9)

Jesus lead him out of town, away from a potential crowd.

Jesus works with the blind man to give him precise eyesight. Another miracle in a town not inclined to believing. Another opportunity to believe, be disbelieving, or unbelieving. It is one thing to be shocked and temporarily not believe (DIS-believe), and it is another to decide not to believe or actively reject evidence (UN-belief). Many people in Bethsaida chose not to believe. This man's friends were believers. They were the minority.

Once healed, he was told NOT to enter the village. Again, we ask why? Again, there was no reason stated by Mark. Anything any man writes is purely conjecture or a guess. I might conjecture:
  • Jesus did wanted this new believer to experience more than the negative attitudes of his unbelieving community. Jesus frequently experienced negative attitudes and may have decided this was not best for him.
  • Jesus may have abandoned efforts to create faith in this area (Bethsaida and Korazin -- the neighboring town). He may have concluded it was not worth the headache at this time.
  • Jesus may have known the time was not right for the village to believe. But after a strong wake-up call, and the start of the disciples mission to teach all the world, it would be time.
Remember, this is conjecture. All these could be right. All these could be wrong.

He (the formerly blind) had specific orders to follow. What he would do would demonstrate his love for his healer. If he ( we/I ) loves Jesus, he ( we/I ) will do exactly what he ( we/I ) is told (John 14:15). If he ( we/I ) do anything else, it becomes evidence of his (our/my) lack of love for Jesus. Right?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Questions, Trials, Frustrations

Image from
Who can identify with Jesus?
  • Experienced pharmacists understand having their judgments questioned.
  • Trial lawyers perceive client skepticism after losing a case.
  • Teachers pick up on the animosity of a hostile parent.
  • Successful mechanics absorb the ache from his years of experienced being contested.
  • Every passionate preacher feels the pang of mistrust.

Each competent professional can identify with Jesus.

By the time you reach Mark 8:11-12, Jesus has a long history of healing, curing, casting out demons and feeding thousands. His fame precedes him. Yet, those meeting him were either ignorant, operating as an ostrich (head in the sand), or were politically blind. I believe the later.
He arrives at Dalmanutha after crossing the Sea of Galilee. He is met by argumentative Pharisees. They demanded evidence in order to set Jesus apart from all others like him. (Does this make sense to you? Was he not already set apart?). They wanted an “official” authentication of His being sent by God. They were rejecting all the well-documented evidence accepted by others. The sign they demanded must come direct from heaven, thus appealing for God’s certification.

They were putting Jesus on trial to determine:
  1. His quality of work
  2. His thoughts
  3. How he would react or behave.
Their attempt at craftiness was lame.

Did you sense Jesus’ deep sigh? You could if you are been there. You would if your work has been questioned. You would if you have been tried. I identify with Jesus’ frustration at the stubborn partisanship of these men.

Result: JESUS DID NOT BEND. He believed you should not put God to the test. He not only did not give them a sign, he left the area. The good he would have done would not happen because of these men.

He was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

I know!

Thanks Jesus!