Archive for the ‘Gospel of John’ Category

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Do You Know Him? – John 17:3

March 28, 2020

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

I wonder do you know him?

I have heard criticism that people like me make too much of Jesus.  That people like me focus too much on the person of Jesus Christ rather than the teachings of Jesus Christ.

I wonder do you know him?

I have heard arguments that the obsession of people like me, on the person of Jesus, is too exclusive of the beliefs of others.  That people like me should accept Jesus’s teachings on the intellectual bookshelf, amongst the other great moral philosophers of the ages.

I wonder do you know him?

I have heard reasoning that people like me have made too much of the great historical figure that Jesus was.  That people like me have been duped by history’s charlatans into believing that Jesus was something more than a mere mortal.

They don’t know him!

Jesus did not reveal himself to be studied. He revealed himself to be known.  I can study historical figures and learn about their actions, motivations, and philosophy but I will never say that I knew them. Jesus continues to be a topic in many lectures.  His teachings are analyzed in countless books. I can learn everything about Jesus but I will never know him until I actually follow his teaching and believe what he said about himself.

I wonder do you know him?

Faith is the prerequisite to knowing God and Jesus Christ, whom he sent.  God did not reveal himself for intellectual praise.  God revealed himself through his son, Jesus Christ, to demonstrate his mercy and grace by saving a people who believe in him, as he revealed himself.

I wonder do you know him?

God doesn’t save people who are intellectually aware of his historical teachings.  God doesn’t award merit to the strict adherence to rules given in the wilderness.  God saves those who believe in him, love him, know him.  People like me.  

I know him because he saved me. I cannot help making too much of Jesus. The person of Jesus Christ is worthy of too much focus because that is what love does.  God is exclusive.  He always has been exclusive.  He is a jealous God.  He is exclusive to those who receive his free gift.  He is exclusive to people who know him.

I wonder will you know him?

“For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” John 16:27

https://ref.ly/Jn17.3 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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What’s Your Job Description – John 11:47–48

March 22, 2020

“So the chief priests and the Pharisees called together the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs! If we allow him to go on in this way, everyone will believe him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 

Have you ever considered that the religious leaders of Israel were right?  

  • They lived upon a powder-keg of insurrection and rebellion.  
  • They lived in a conquered nation, ruled by the super-power of the age.  
  • They lived with the task of controlling a population, in order to preserve it.

Consider what happened when they failed.  The religious leaders of Israel failed to suppress the rebellions leading into 70 AD.  Their fears, expressed concerning Jesus, came true when the Roman General and future Emperor, Titus, destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, effectively taking away their place and nation.

Israel was never the same. The concerns of the Pharisees and Sadducees were valid.

They could not have been more right while being more wrong.  Their job was never the practical machinations of political power.  Their job was to shepherd God’s chosen people in truth and love; the 1st and 2nd greatest commandments.  

They utterly failed at their true job description with the gravest of consequences.

Let’s not make the same mistake.  It is easy to get led astray by valid realities and misplaced responsibilities.  Those realities never overcome the truth of scripture and the power of God.

https://ref.ly/Jn11.47-48 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Who’s Your Daddy – John 8:47

March 19, 2020

“The one who is from God listens to the words of God. Because of this you do not listen—because you are not of God.””

  • Where do those who deny the words of God come from?
  • Who’s inspiration inspires the creative, deaf to the Spirit’s whispers?
  • What source motivates the over-achiever’s pursuit of praise?

Jesus never asked these questions.  If someone doesn’t listen to the words of God, then they are not of God.  

  • What are you of, if you are not of God?
  • What is your heritage, if not an heir of God?
  • Who is your father, if he is not God?

John 8:42–44 (LEB): Jesus said to them, “If God were your father, you would love me, for I have come forth from God and have come. For I have not come from myself, but that one sent me. Why do you not understand my way of speaking? Because you are not able to listen to my message. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father!

There are only two options for spiritual father; God or Satan.  Our default is Satan and our desires demonstrate the reality of our spiritual patriarch.

I am reminded that there are no innocent pursuits.  Everything has a source, a motivation, an inspiration.  We live in a world of light and darkness.  Jesus told us that He is the light of the world.

Why would we think that works sourced from darkness are benign?  We don’t need to be afraid of the world but we also don’t need to be ignorant of it either.

It is reasonable to question, of all that we allow to influence us, “who’s your daddy?” .  We are called to live in the Light…Let’s not play around with the world of darkness.

https://ref.ly/Jn8.47 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Balance & Rhythm in Swimming and Life – July 1

July 1, 2014

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26

I had a great swim the other day. It was a swim that finally felt right after a week of unsatisfying attempts. I have been getting back to regular swimming. A week was lost to business travel and my post – Boise Ironman 70.3 training break had stretched out longer than originally intended, resulting in irregular pool attendance.

Swimming technique goes quickly with inactivity. The delicate balance and timing of a smooth swimming stroke can easily be lost to a few weeks without a reminder. However, it is a wonderfully meditative sensation when one finds that intricate rhythm of a smooth free-style stroke.

I found my lost free-style stroke the other day and it was wonderful.

reachThere are three basic aspects of a free-style stoke. (Just a disclaimer, I have never been coached in swimming. Everything I know about swimming, I learned on Youtube and blogs.)

The Reach: The forward arm enters the water at a point inside the shoulder line and only fully extended under the water. I like to feel the full stretch of my forward arm timed with the rotation of my torso and exit of my other arm from the water in the recovery. The reach is important because it helps keep you from sinking. Also, a long reach increases the length of your arm which gives more power to the catch and pull phase.

catch 2The Catch & Pull: The forward arm should stay fully extended for a brief moment before “catching” the water – this enhances gliding through the water. The forward arm then catches the water with the hand and the forearm. It is important not to churn the water but to “feel it”.  This is where the power in the stroke comes from. The arm accelerates throughout the stroke as you rotate your torso using the power of your core, right up to the point of exit, when the hand passes the hip.

recovery 2The Recovery: Once the arm is pushing back (when the hand has passed the elbow) the elbow begins to straighten. When the arm exits the water, the elbow immediately begins to flex again, staying high with the hand close to the body. The exit of the arm is important because it causes the rotation of the torso, which reduces drag through the water and sets up a long, stretching reach of the forward arm.  It also let’s you breath – which is important.

All the aspects of the free style stroke need to be synchronized and balanced for an efficient swimming stroke. I have read that a swimmer with deficient technique can expend 50% more energy than one using a stroke that is balanced through the various stages. Swimming is unforgiving of poor technique.

All the stages of the free-style stroke need to be in balance and in rhythm. When it happens, swimming becomes easy.

reach 2I was thinking about the Christian life as I enjoyed re-discovering the rhythm of my swimming technique. The Christian life needs to be a balance between the future, the present, and the past – all blended into a seamless rhythm of continued forward progress; otherwise known as sanctification.

The Reach (Future): We are told to set our hope fully on the grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13). We have to stretch for this hope. When we are reaching for the hope of the Gospel, it lengthens us; we can glide through troubles and not sink into the cares of this world. In addition, a hope that is set on the full assurance of our faith corrects selfish motivations and gives power to our service and obedience in the present.

catchThe Catch & Pull (Present): The power of the Holy Spirit is manifested in the present of the Christian life. The present is where we do the work of service and obedience. We reach forward to our hope, check our motivations and then catch the opportunities of our life. The power of our daily lives comes by faithfully using our God-given strengths, being sensitive to the Spirit (feeling His presence), and then pressing into our firm foundation. The key to a powerful present is consistently pressing into the Spirit throughout our day. We need to be consciously setting our mind on the things of the Spirit from the time we wake to the moment we close our eyes to sleep. That is how we make the most of the present.

recoveryThe Recovery (Past): The Christian has to learn how to handle the past. Lingering in the past will only drag us down. Therefore, we need to exit the past cleanly – forgiving who we need to forgive; confessing what we need to confess; correcting what needs to be corrected – and then immediately get back to the Hope that lays before us. It is this quick transition from past experiences to future hope that will lengthen our time for good works in the present, which give the Spirit more opportunities to manifest His glorious power in our daily lives.

The Christian life is a wonderful blend of future, present, and past. I know how easy it is to lose that precious rhythm:

I have neglected meditating on the Hope that I have been called to.
I have churned away trying to please God with my good works in proof of my salvation.
I lingered over thoughts of the past that have drug me to a stop.

20131001-235329Throughout those periods of life, I could feel that my spiritual life was not quite right. Consistency has always brought me back to the wonderful rhythm of a life synchronized with the Spirit. Whenever I am not feeling it, I still jump into the deep water of my Lord and Savior. Taking a break from God never is to your advantage.

Our helper, the Spirit, is the one who always corrects our deficient and inefficient living. Let’s get back to living in the Spirit, for His glory, in all the aspects of our lives – past, present, and future.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for allowing my life not to feel right. Thank you for giving me your Spirit to be my helper – to teach me and correct me.  Lord, continue to work in my life.  Show me where I am out of balance.  Help me to come into rhythm with your Spirit in all aspects of my life.  Give me a heart that Hopes in you.  Teach me how to exit cleanly from my past and immediately reach out to you.  Grant me the power of your Spirit to live every moment of my life for your glory. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Photographs: Swim Channel Facebook

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HOME – June 24

June 24, 2014

“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:15-17

Adirondack Hotel room

The familiar chime from the cell phone slowly lures a reluctant mind back to awareness. A pale orange light sneaks between the voids of drawn shades to cast a dim tint to a small simple room. I squint to see the blurry view as I roll onto my back and crane my head from pillows that had failed to provide a restful sleep.

A flat screen television sits atop a cabinet across from the foot of the bed. An open suitcase with clothes strewn within sets upon a stand along the adjoining wall. I swing my gaze to the night stand at the edge of my bed. Amongst the jumble of receipts, gum package, wallet, cell phone, and pocket change, I reach for my eyeglasses.

The action of restoring my vision brings me to full awareness of my surrounding. The annoying buzz of an air conditioner; the strange fragrance of cleaning agents masking previous inhabitants, a generic interior design, a comfortable but comfortless bed, all confirm that I am in yet another unfamiliar hotel room. However, I am very excited that this is my last night, at least for this trip.

Today, I am going home.

Throughout this week-long business trip, I have met pleasant people, experienced new areas, completed successful meetings,secured future work, eaten good food, yet, I have longed for home. I have missed my wife and kids. I have missed the place where I belong. I have missed the familiar of belonging.

Airport Wait TransferThe desire for home is a powerful emotion. Many a weary traveler has made the lament at the end of a long trip of  “I just want to get home”. I wonder if our intense desire for home was given to us to draw us to something more than a place and those who love us.

Our desire for home draws us back.
Home causes us to not to be satisfied with the amenities of a journey.
Home encourages us to complete the journey to its final destination – the place we belong.

I have the propensity to seek the comfortable. I long to be satisfied and contented in my place. I am easily enticed by the amenities lining the pathways of life. All these conflicting desires could easily loosen the draw to my eternal home. Therefore, I know that I need encouragement to not be satisfied with the “cheap hotels” of this journey.

I wonder how many of the struggles of life are given to us as encouragements to continue in that journey; to roust us from false contentment or nudge us from debilitating disappointment.

Any traveler who loses sight of home will be lost.

When I travel, I am thinking of my home. I talk with my wife and kids at night. I desire to stay connected to all that is transpiring while I am gone. I plan my route of return. I long for the ease of my household, the comfort of my bed, the view from my porch, and the belonging of family.

Likewise, the journeying Christian should be equally preoccupied by their thoughts of home.

We are not of this world. We are traveling through it to our eternal home. When we set our mind on the things of the Spirit, we are setting our mind on Home. We are relishing the intense desire for home that was given to us in order to draw us to the place of our inheritance and the One who loves us.

The draw of the Spirit is the source of the lament of many a weary traveler explaining “I just want to get home”. May we be grateful for that lament because it keeps us moving to the Hope that will never disappoint.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for calling me Home.  Thank you for reminding me that this world has nothing for me in comparison to you. Keep me from settling on the amenities of this journey.  Keep me moving toward you.  Draw me Home.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen (This is Home – Switchfoot)

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MALADY OF THE EXPERT – May 16

May 16, 2014

“Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me.” John 8:49

Hello my name is Expert
We live in a land of experts.

If we have a disease, we go to the hospital’s experts.
If we want knowledge, we go to the University’s experts.
If our car maintenance light glows, we go to the car dealership’s experts.

Tax issues – specialist in accounting.
Court issues – specialist in law.
Building issues – specialist in engineering.

We expect our specialists to have answers. We pay them for answers. Often, specialists are cast aside until we find the one who agrees with what we want to do. Even if we can get the answer we want, a bad response is often better than the uncertainty of  “I don’t know.”

We want to know.

This expectation of answers has probably always been at the bedrock of religion. We want answers for our questions of the physical world and we want answers to our questions of the spiritual world.  I recognize the expert’s attitude exerted against Jesus by the Pharisees in chapters 7 and 8 of the Gospel of John. That similar attitude seems to echo through the theological debates of our time. They provided reason and rationale as to why Jesus was not the Christ.

The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” (John 7:20)

But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from. (John 7: 27)

…But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” (John 7:41)

They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” (John 7:52)

So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” (John 8:13)

The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” (John 8:48)

The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be? (John 8:52-53)

Yet, these proclamations of experts proved to be false and misguided. Their expertise in the Law failed them because it was not based on complete understanding. They were applying flawed, sinful understanding to a manifestation that was without precedent. They rejected the Christ because He did not fit the model in which they were so convinced He would appear. Jesus did not come as they expected, therefore, he could not have been the Christ. Their expertise did not adequately provide the understanding to inform them of the events that were transpiring around them.

Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. (John 8:43)

I read the Pharisees’ objections to Christ and can uncomfortably relate to their self-assured theological knowledge. They were the experts of theology for their day and based on their knowledge they had answers. It just happened to be horribly wrong answers based on a lack of understanding.

Calvinism vs. Arminianism
Infant Baptism vs. Adult Baptism
Charismatic Gifting vs Cessationism
Sunday Worship vs. Saturday Worship
King James Only vs. ESV Only vs. NASB Only
Traditional Service vs. Contemporary Service vs. SOMA Service
Premillennialism vs Postmillennialism vs Amillennialism

How much of the rhetoric from these debates is honoring to our Father?

I have studied these issues and I have my opinions. However, I also know that those who do not share my opinions can advocate their position from scripture. I don’t know of a better illustration of this fact than the debate moderated by John Piper between Jim Hamilton, Doug Wilson, and Sam Storms. (An Evening of Eschatology – Piper, Hamilton, Wilson, Storms)

Three capable theologians, who love and follow Jesus, came to three different conclusions based on their understanding of scripture. The fact is that two or maybe all three are wrong. Someone has made a wrong decision based on flawed understanding. Yet, churches have split over these issues in ways that I view as dishonoring our Father. It is the malady of the experts.

Since we are all subjected to the same malady, the only cure is grace.

crossChrist was perfectly clear in His teaching to the Pharisees about who He is.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you before Abraham was, “I am”. (John 8:58)

The further away we get from that central teaching – Jesus Christ and him crucified – the more grace we need to show our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. As we mature in our faith, we should delve into the “secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.” (1 Cor. 2:6) However, we must resist the arrogance of the experts.

We must show grace in our theological assertions for our more immature brothers and sisters so that their faith “might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Cor. 2:5)

We must show humility in our debates, understanding our inherently flawed understanding of the mysteries of God.

Imagine how glorifying God’s church would be, if our debates were dominated by experts of humble grace rather than experts of flawed understanding.

PRAYER: Father, you know that I am inclined toward the attitude of the expert.  Forgive me for caring more about winning a theological argument than showing grace to a fellow heir in Christ.  Forgive me of the dishonor that has been wrought when love was not my foremost objective.  Lord, make me into an expert of humble grace.  Give me wisdom in delving into your wonderful mysteries.  Remind me of my continuing lack of understanding to keep me humble.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

A man should never be ashamed to admit he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.
~ Alexander Pope

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ASCENDING THE IMPOSSIBLE – May 1

May 1, 2014

“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.’” John 3:3

I just returned from another business trip to Mount Rainer National Park. Unlike my last trip (Knowing Greatness without Sight), the skies were clear and I was able to behold clearly the mountain. I gazed upon the heights of the mountains with a yearning eye.

IMG_20140429_185759_417 (3)The clarity of the skies promised an unimpeded view to anyone at the pinnacle of such a mountain. I so wanted to see that view. Yet, I knew that neither I nor anyone else would behold the view on that day. The snow is still too deep and the trails too treacherous to ascend Mount Rainer. Therefore, the prize of the glorious view from its pinnacle was not beheld by any mortal man on that clear day.

IMG_20140429_191018_723 (2)There is another site that is even more unattainable than the wintry panorama of Mount Rainer’s peak. No man can ascend to God’s presence and behold the Kingdom of God. For this site, Jesus told us that we must be born again.

How does one ascend to a peak that has no trail?
How does one scale a summit whose base cannot be found?
How does the flesh accomplish that which is born of the Spirit?

It is impossible. It is impossible for man to find access or even to see the Kingdom of God from the pinnacle of any human accomplishment. No one can ascend to heaven.

No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. (John 4:13-15)

crossThis is the glorious good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The ascent to heaven, access to the Kingdom of God, is now possible – not by any work of the flesh but by the work of the Spirit.

We can stand at the pinnacle of the mountain of God and see His Kingdom. We can enter into His rest and eternal life. It is an ascent that we cannot make but was accomplished for us. The prize of this summit is a gift given to all how believe in the Son of Man, Jesus Christ.

Praise be to God who has made the impossible possible. May we marvel at the miraculous heavenly things of God Almighty!

PRAYER: Father, thank you for making a way to your holy presence. Thank you for making the ascent to your Kingdom for us.  Thank you for the work the Spirit that I might be born of the Spirit.  Forgive me for my lack of marvel at the gift of eternal life that you have given me.  You are great and greatly to be praised.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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