Tuesday, April 28, 2015

MINORITY LIFE

Matthew 26:
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”


The majority of people that Jesus personally knew would live a full lifespan, raise a family and die common deaths. Jesus was not in the majority. He submitted to God’s plan in a way that made him unique from most other people.

The majority of Rome’s citizens were not arrested and put to death by crucifixion. Most people kept the law. This punishment was reserved for a minority who exhibited criminal behaviour and attitudes toward the state. Somehow, Jesus was executed in a way that was used against the true enemies of Rome. He was numbered with the transgressors. He surrendered to the will of God as an act of love.

In what ways are you a minority? How do you differ from the people who surround you? Here are some examples of how you may feel that you are unique from others.

·      Ethnic minority
·      A single person surrounded by couples
·      A religious faith that is not understood by others
·      Some form of disability
·      Physical characteristic of height, weight or physical condition
·      Lack of peers in your age group
·      A history you want to hide from
·      The poorest, the least educated, the least athletic

This is a biblical theme. There are so many stories of people who were orphaned, isolated or part of a small group facing constant opposition. The Bible is filled with stories of people behaving badly and inconsistently and their struggle to respond rightly to God. This is one of the reasons I believe the Bible is true. It does not candy coat or ignore the human condition. The Bible illustrates the quest to know God in the midst of struggle, failure and loneliness.


We see it in individuals and we see it in small groups.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP


Just before Good Friday, five-year-old Carter made an appointment to come see me. He and his brothers will pay particular attention to me when I’m playing guitar and singing for our worship services.



Grandma Betty brought him to my office for the express purpose of writing a song with me. He wanted to do this, so he brought a plastic bag with his microphone and a harmonica.

I asked him what we could write about and he wanted a song about when God goes to sleep. I told him that the Father never sleeps, but Jesus the Son had naps and went to sleep at night.

So, I asked what he could tell me about Jesus when he goes to sleep. Apparently, Jesus said his prayers and had good dreams. We wrote the song and recorded it on my phone with him accompanying on his harmonica. That was the best part of my week.

Carter and I discussed some important theological considerations. Jesus lived fully human so that five year olds could understand Jesus as their friend.

Perhaps the most profound act of submission is found in Jesus surrender to death on a cross. His Cross-life completed in His Cross-death.

The seven sayings from the Cross were recorded in the gospel accounts. One of these sayings speaks to His final resolve and submission to God.


Luke 23:
44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.


Into your hands, I commit my spirit. This was a quote from Psalm 31.

This psalm was often used in Jewish evening prayer as one commended oneself into God's care during the night's sleep. As Jesus enters the sleep of death, he takes a similar step of faith. His last words are a commentary not only on his death but also on his life: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." From first to last, Jesus has lived to serve God. His life's creed on his lips, he dies. The psalm comments on the trust that Jesus places in God as he passes away. [1]

How about you? What will be the last words on your lips?

Circus mogul P.T. Barnum said, ‘How were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden?’[2]

Actress Joan Crawford to her housekeeper that had begun to pray aloud, ‘Damn it . . . Don't you dare ask God to help me.’

In the final words of Jesus, we find an evening prayer committing himself to God’s care until the new day comes. And with those words, he went to sleep.

What a beautiful way to live and die!






[1] The IVP New Testament Commentary Series

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

SUBMISSION TO SUFFERING

In contrast to distorted teachings on submission Richard Foster said, “The biblical teaching on submission focuses primarily on the spirit with which we view other people. Scripture does not attempt to set forth a series of hierarchical relationships but to communicate to us an inner attitude of mutual subordination.” [1]



Misread scriptures are sometimes used to try and corner people into relationships that empower domination or abuse. You should submit to me because the Bible says so! In response, people try to give examples of when not to submit.

Sometimes the limits of submission are easy to determine. A wife is asked to punish her child unreasonably. A child is asked to aid an adult in an unlawful practice. A citizen is asked to violate the dictates of Scripture and conscience for the sake of the State. In each case the disciple refuses, not arrogantly, but in a spirit of meekness and submission. [2]

However, we need to realize that submission is never a guarantee that you will not suffer or be mistreated. The Christian looks to Jesus as the supreme example of allowing personal suffering to take place. As we consider Jesus and the witness of others that have suffered for doing the right thing, we find a deep motivation to live a surrendered life.


Hebrews 12:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.


What a remarkable truth that Jesus is the pioneer of a life surrendered to God. This founder is developing the same attitude in you!

He submitted to suffering to the Cross-life and Cross-death because of futuristic joy. He did not enjoy suffering, but allowed for endurance. It is this kind of patient endurance that precedes joy in our lives.

Submission is our secret weapon against the damaging effects of opposition, persecution and earthly sorrow. We start our journey by submitting this life to God. We continue and we end our earthly life in the same attitude of surrender.






[1] Richard Foster, Celebration Of Discipline, Harper Collins Publishers, p.112
[2] Richard Foster, Celebration Of Discipline, Harper Collins Publishers, p.121

Sunday, April 19, 2015

SUBMISSION TO HUMAN LIMITATION

The principle of submission is often misunderstood and vilified as a sign of being weak. Often, people that are excessive show intolerance and contempt for those who are obedient. What is it about submission that stirs up antagonism from those who break the law? And why do we often lack patience for those who are more limited than ourselves?


You will not understand submission until you understand that Jesus’ life was a total act of surrender. He gave all for the sake of love. You cannot fathom the goodness of Good Friday until you see it as an example of revolutionary love.

Richard Foster said,

Leadership is found in becoming the servant of all. Power is discovered in submission. The foremost symbol of this radical servant-hood is the cross… Christ not only died a “cross-death,” he lived a “cross-life.” [1]

Paul wrote the penultimate description of Christ’s surrendered cross-life to the church at Philippi.


Philippians 2:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.


Embedded in these verses we find the doctrine of Kenosis. By definition this Greek word is:  “the doctrine that Christ relinquished His divine attributes so as to experience human suffering.”[2]

As English translations have opened our understanding of Jesus’ nature, we find nuances of what this means in verse 7.

NIV – made himself nothing
KJV – made himself of no reputation
MSG - set aside the privileges of deity 
ASV – emptied himself

Jesus Christ chose to experience human limitation. While still possessing his Divine nature, he entered into a fully human experience. He gives us an example of how we ought to behave toward one another.

In submission we let go of our superiority. This is not an act of thinking poorly of self, but of loving others more fully. Martin Luther wrote on the balance between our authority and our submission.

“A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.”[3]

What an amazing paradox! Jesus demonstrated and taught that we are made great when we submit ourselves to the limitations and needs of another.






[1] Richard Foster, Celebration Of Discipline, Harper Collins Publishers, p.115
[3] Martin Luther, Readings In The History Of Christian Theology, Westminster John Knox Press, p.13

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