Saturday, April 30, 2016

Apr 30/May 1 - 43 - 2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,

the new creation has come:

The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17

Bible Rank: 43

The Apostle Paul knew old vs. new. 


The old was legalistic (a Pharisee). The old legalistically tried to win his way to God (which provided structure, but was ultimately insecure and futile). The old to uphold these strict laws - ironically and tragically - became murderous (the old Paul was leading the stoning of the first Christian martyr, Stephen). The old was a mess ... who proudly called himself and his ways good. 

Then Jesus literally knocked him down. On the road to Damascus, the glory of the risen, reigning Jesus knocked Paul flat on his face ... then lifted him up. The old hatred and legalism had to die. As Jesus said in Mark 2:22, "no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins."

Old wineskins become brittle. New wine starts as juice, then it expands as it ferments. The expanding liquid will destroy the old, fixed, rigid, and brittle. And that's what Paul understood about the changing of the human heart. Without even comprehending how rigid he'd become, Paul discovered - in Christ - the freedom of becoming new ... 


·         of replacing a fermenting hatred with a self-giving love ... 

·         of replacing having to earn your way to God to being a thankful recipient of God's amazing grace

·         of replacing a dead legalism with the living faith. 

It's no accident that the Apostle who told us about the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, is the one who never fully experienced love, joy, and peace until the old became new. 


In Christ's Love,

the new guy

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Apr 29 - 42 - Acts 2:1

When the day of Pentecost came,

they were all together in one place

Acts 2:1

Bible Rank: 42


Jesus lived. He died. He was raised. He appeared to his disciples several times; then he ascended into heaven. 


And the question is this: What do you do now if you're a disciple? 

All we know is that they hung out together (because that's how today's verse began -- "all together in one place"). And while they were together ...

·         Did they pray? (Probably. They had just encountered the living God, they were surely eager to maintain that spiritual connection.)

·         Did they grieve? (Their necks had to be sore from whiplash. There was Palm Sunday joy, Good Friday horror, Easter Sunday exultation, Ascension Day amazement, and now two weeks of empty silence. Jesus was gone and probably all of the stages of grief were cycling -- including denial and depression.)

·         Did they argue and worry and fret? (Most of us would have! "He's been gone ten days. Now what?" "It's been ten days. I'm out of here. I'm going back to Galilee. I wonder if my brothers will let me back into the fishing business.)

·         Did they keep reminding one another of the promises? (Somehow these voices trumped the doubts and worries and need to split up and go back to Galilee and regular life. "Jesus wanted us to wait. Let's just trust that the promise of the Holy Spirit is indeed coming.)


Like many of our TopVerses, Acts 2:1 is really an introduction to a great story -- all of chapter 2, and really the rest of the book of Acts and the rest of the life of the church. 


Nevertheless, today most of us in one way or another sit in the midst of the uncertainty ... because that's what life in this broken world really is all about. 


·         Will you grieve? (In this world of whiplash and pain, grief is normal and real.)

·         Will you worry and fret? (Normal. Real.)

·         Will you pray? (Hopefully ... trusting in this living link to light and life.)

·         Will you keep reminding one another of the promises? (As the disciples discovered, the promises are true ... AND THEN THE HOLY SPIRIT COMES!!!!!!!)

In Christ's Love, 

a guy whose done all four,

creating my own whiplash unless and until I settle on three and four




Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Apr 28 - 41 - 1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins,

God who is faithful and just

will forgive us our sins and

purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

Bible Rank: 41


These words are woven into my heart. (That's part of what liturgy does.)


For thirty years Sunday mornings started with 1 John 1 (including verse 8). It was indeed a morning wake up call: if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. 

I had a choice. I could start the day with a lie, excusing my sins. Or I could own up to my failures ... and discover freedom -- but if we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 

It was a Sunday morning wake up call. 

It ought to be a daily reminder. 

A new day ought to be a clean slate. But it's not eight ours between the sheets that makes it new. It's not the earth rotating a third of the way on its axis, the sun rising, the birds chirping, or the dew on the grass. It's God who gives us another day and allows us start again ... purified, forgiven, ready, clean. 

And he's faithful. And just. And he will do this ... when we confess. When we (re)turn to him and live. 

In Christ's Love,

a guy who is writing this

in the morning, birds chirping,

dogs at my feet, coffee in hand,

confessing, forgiven, and new


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Apr 27 - 40b - Romans 1:16 again

I am not ashamed of the gospel,

because it is the power of God

that brings salvation

to everyone who believes:

first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

Romans 1:16

Bible Rank: 40

There is a second critical piece that I must mention in Romans 1:16. And it comes with a story. 

In the first congregation that I served, a man showed up one Sunday. He'd just moved to town and was eager to serve. Articulate and engaging, he said he'd regularly filled in doing sermons and visitations for the pastor at his last church whenever his pastor was out of town. 

My first thought was, "Great! Every church needs strong, capable, willing servants."

My second thought obviously was, let’s get to know this eager individual. 

That Sunday, he came to Sunday School. I was teaching on Revelation, in a series of passages that took place in Jerusalem, the climactic end-place in the end times drama. And the man made intelligent comments in class ... about the judgment that much of Scripture, including Revelation, says will come. 

The second week in class, he was more vocal. Most Jews didn't fair well in this passage of Revelation, and he was quick to point this out. 

By the third week he was very vocal in his opposition to the Jews. One comment I remember was "the Jews heard they are God's chosen people and forever act like it." 

I quickly steered that class discussion in a totally different direction and avoided all his attempts to draw it back to what was obviously a heated anti-semitism. 

Then the next week, I did my research. I read books. Called our denomination's department that stood against anti-Semitic rhetoric. I met with our local Rabbi to help me understand Jewish thought so that I could clearly articulate a Biblical defense of love, charity, and proper Jewish-Christian relations. 

One of the phrases I remember most from my conversation with the Rabbi was after I fed him the man's line about the entitlement that many Jews supposedly feel about being named God's chosen people. The Rabbi quickly clarified a proper Jewish understanding of this term. He said, "Jews don't view this as a blessing! We've been chosen for hard and thankless job. We were chosen to represent Yahweh to the world, and the world hates us for it. God loves us, but He's more demanding of us than any other people. It's a blessing and a curse. Look at our history ... it's not an easy responsibility!"

Armed with this information, what did
I do?

I would have called the man so that we could have had this discussion privately rather than as a potential showdown in a Sunday School class ... but I didn't have his number. 

So I showed up to class nervous. But the man wasn't there. He wasn't there the next week either. I soon found out that he'd been fired from his job and moved out of town. (Whew!)

Today's verse reveals the pattern of the spreading of the Gospel. Jesus was a Jew. He came as the Jewish Messiah. God loves the Jews and the covenants God made with Abraham and his descendants will never be broken. And that's step one. 

Step two is that Jesus was a Jew, and he came not just as the Jewish Messiah, but as the Savior of the World. God loves, therefore, Jews and Gentiles! He has a plan for the whole world. 

There's a pernicious philosophy -- alive in even some quarters of the church -- that says that the Church is the new Israel. It's called replacement theology, saying, because the Jews rejected Jesus, calling for his crucifixion, those who didn't crucify him and came to believe in name inherited all the promises once made to Israel.

Oddly, you can make a Biblical case for replacement theology ... if you're careful to leave ought the whole counsel of the New Testament. Romans 9 and 10 and the whole of Revelation clearly reveal that God has not forsaken Israel. They've rebelled (like we all do daily) but the drama of redemption clearly unfolds with a reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles.

In Christ’s Love,

a guy who stands with Israel

Monday, April 25, 2016

Apr 26 - 40 - Romans 1:16

I am not ashamed of the gospel,

because it is the power of God

that brings salvation

to everyone who believes:

first to the Jew, then to the Gentile

Romans 1:16

Bible Rank: 40


This is arguably the most important Bible verse in the last 500 years. 




Because this is the verse that launched the Reformation. 


Martin Luther grew up in an age when people were taught to be afraid of God. God was painted as angry and unforgiving. And the only hope for salvation was living a perfect life -- no sins, no transgressions, no failures. 


And it was hopeless, because "we all sin and fall short of God's glorious standard." Martin Luther found that last line in chapter 3 of Romans, along with the crystal clear assurance that we are justified by grace through faith rather than a hopelessly slavish dependence on works. 


Those verses confirmed what Luther found in Romans 1 -- today's freeing verse -- that the Good News (the Gospel) comes to all who ... do what?


It's not act perfectly, live perfectly, achieve sinlessness (an impossibility, though it should be our goal); rather, the Good News comes to all who accept the love, sacrifice, and reality of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We call this belief. It is simply, wonderfully, victoriously, trusting in him. 


In Christ's Love,

a guy who wants to relaunch

the freedom of the Reformation

and the clarity of the Gospel

in a world that lacks clarity

and therefore freedom

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Apr 25 - 39 - Genesis 1:27

So God created human beings

in his own image, in the

image of God he created them;

male and female he created them

Genesis 1:27

Bible Rank: 39

What is the purpose of sex?

Even in Christian circles I used to occasionally hear that the purpose of sex was pleasure. Scholars would point to semi-erotic passages in the Song of Solomon, for example, and say, "See. Pleasure."

Now let’s be clear: Sex is pleasurable. Obviously! Absolutely! It's a joyful gift that God wired us for delight. 

But pleasure is a bonus ... not the purpose. 

The purpose of sex is defined on page one of scripture: Just after telling us that God made us male and female, scripture tells us why: It's so that we can "be fruitful and multiply."

In creation, the Creator commanded procreation. Commanded -- not recommended. And that's the real purpose of sex!

That's why Christianity has always joyfully and helpfully restrained sexuality to marriage. If this act is for the procreation of children, then the most truly safe context for raising children is within the family. And with this as context, the pleasure of sex, then, is to bind husband and wife together into a deeper, more committed union. 

With the advent of birth-control, the rumor is that we can have pleasure without consequences (including children). But since when was selfish-pleasure-seeking ever a wise way of living? Self-oriented purposes always and inevitably turn ugly. And just look at the living conditions of children in America since supposedly free sex has trumped commitment. More and more children are living without one or both parents. More and more are living in poverty. More and more who have been procreated are killed (aborted) before they live. And it's all in the name of the pursuit-of-selfish-personal-pleasure. 

That's not God's design!

Sex is for procreation. And when we eliminate the proper context for the possibility of raising children, we are mocking God. 

In Christ's Love, 

a guy who likes pleasure

but who benefits joyfully more

when he relies on God's plan first

Saturday, April 23, 2016

TODAY: Help Clean Narthex before Sunday - 4pm

Can anyone help us clean the narthex this Saturday at 4?

We’ll be moving a few things.

And getting rid of this week’s dust before worship!


Call or text me if you can – 704-635-0028






Apr 23-24 - 38 - Romans 5:1

Therefore, since we have

been justified through faith,

we have peace with God

through our Lord Jesus Christ

Romans 5:1

Bible Rank: 38

When the Billy Graham association teaches people to do evangelism, they use a phrase in this verse. The encourage faith mentors to offer to longing souls "peace with God."

And it comes through what? 

·       Peace come only and ever through Jesus Christ. 

·       Peace with God comes only through God's generous grace -- for only his pardon can declare sinners just (can allow us to be justified).

·       And peace with God comes through our accepting God's link to this free gift. We call this acceptance "faith."

Rather than me describing more about the path to peace with God, I urge you today to follow this link to find Billy Graham's fully interactive explanation ... that may allow you to make an eternal difference in the life of a person who doesn't have peace. (Click here, please:

In Christ's Love, 

a guy who wants 

to share God's peace

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Apr 22 - 37 - Matthew 11:28

"Come to me, all you

who are weary and burdened,

and I will give you rest."

Matthew 11:28

Bible Rank: 37


We live in a rest-less society. 


Too many people are carrying heavy, heavy burdens. 


Our generation longs for peace ... for comfort ... for encouragement ... for rest. 


This passage is an answer then to what ails our modern world. And this and the following verses give us a positive solution for our burdened longing too? 


1.    "Come to me" - The secret to peace in this weary world is coming to God the Son. The secret to "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness" is coming to God the Spirit. The secret to what ail us is coming to God, yielding our hearts to him, trusting him to carry our burdens -- and here's the key -- "with" us. 


Now my first temptation was to suggest that God might carry our burdens "for" us. But that led me back to Jesus' next two verses, our next step is solving the restlessness of this generation. ...

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”


To teach a young ox to pull a plow, farmers would pair him with an old ox. The veteran ox would set the pace, shoulder the brunt of the initial loads, and model a successful career on the farm. 


2.    The second step is to take Jesus' yoke upon us. We are invited to live like Jesus lived, to pray like the Master prayed, and to forgive like the Savior forgave. He is the veteran ox who shows us how to be fully human. 


3.    When Jesus says, "Learn from me," we need to adopt a humbleness in Spirit. We must yield our human ways and our pride, and adopt the road of a suffering servant. 

4.    And we need to not balk and bark about it -- or misgive and moo, if we're using cattle language. We need to trust that while being a suffering servant doesn't sound easy, this Jesus-way-of-life is a burden that is light. It is, indeed, the only true and authentic way of real life. 

In Christ's Love,

a guy who doesn’t want to be yoked …

oh, wait, that’s “yolked” …

please don’t throw rotten eggs at me

(But yoke me with Jesus anytime)


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Apr 21 - 36 - Romans 5:12,18

… sin came into the world through

one man, and death came through sin,

and so death spread to all

because all have sinned …

Therefore just as one man’s trespass

led to condemnation for all,

so one man’s act of righteousness

leads to justification and life for all.

Romans 5:12,18

Bible Rank: 36


The mess and the solution. That’s how I’d describe today’s verse(s).


Wait … Let’s describe it like this: Because the world’s a mess, aren’t you ready for a solution?!


Now, for weeks I’ve had the one TopVerse of the day. But to today’s verse, I added a second verse. Why? Because Romans 5:18 clarifies and completes 5:12. Let’s look at this phrase by phrase because we absolutely cannot understand the mess of the world until we understand both parts of this story – the mess and the solution.


First: The Mess


… sin came into the world through one man. Who? Adam. God created good. Wonderful. Indeed! But the first human(s) rebelled against God. They severed the simple, holy intimacy that God intended. Seeking their own glory and their own priorities, they destroyed the life-giving relationship with the Father.


… and death came through sin. God told them about the consequence of sin beforehand. He said, “for in the day that you eat of [the fruit] you shall die.” Was this cruel? Judgmental? No! It’s important to understand that this is not punishment! God does not desire death. Rather, it is a natural consequence to our rebellion against the author of life.


Think about this: Why do we live? It’s because of God! Our Master Creator took dust, breathed the breath of life, and weaved inert atoms into something majestic and living. Wow!


Now, how long do we live? As long as the Author of Life animates us. We are totally dependent on God for life. Without him, we inevitably return to dust. And that’s what he was saying. He said, depend on me, and you’ll live. He said, sever this relationship and you’ll cut your own life-line.


And Adam did. He sinned. He rebelled. He cut his own life line. And death came through sin.


… and … death spread to all because all have sinned. I sin. You sin. We all sin. All. ALL. We all rebel. We all cut our own life line. And by severing ourselves from the Author of Life, our inevitable trajectory is death. It’s natural. It’s our own inevitable consequence.




Yet … just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so [another] man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. The first man – the one who trespassed – was Adam. The other man – the one who generously performed an act of righteousness – was Jesus. Jesus was (and is) the New Adam. The Old Adam led us all into death. The New Adam – Jesus – invites us all do discover life. He declares us sinners just. (Justification is indeed a legal term.) But our justness comes not from our sinful selves; rather, Jesus applies his righteousness to our lives, and the Savior’s “act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.”


In Christ’s Love,

a dust ball


… that gets to live

because of Jesus






















Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Apr 20 - 33 - John 14:1

"Do not let your hearts be troubled.

Trust in God; trust also in me."

John 14:1

Bible Rank: 33

I am a pastor. In part that means that I am a counselor. And that means, I deal with a lot of trouble hearts.

At the heart of much guilt, doubt, worry, and despair is the fact that many good Christians don’t really trust God. Wait. Let me clarify that. Many good Christians, I should say, trust God with their head … but not with their hearts. Intellectually they know the promises, but when life gets hard and disappointments mount, their hearts are painfully troubled.

Have you ever been there?

The antidote is trust. If we really believe God is powerful and personal, that he loves us and wants the best for us, trust is easier. But in a world that contaminated so profoundly with sin and death (sin’s consequence), we sometimes struggle to see God’s goodness when so much pain surrounds us. Thus, we believe with our brains, but we guard our hearts because we don’t want to be disappointed again … and again … and again.

God knows this. And he doesn’t judge us for it. Rather, like the Son of God did in this passage, our Triune God yearns to encourage us. Lighten us. Bless us. And set us free.

Thus, heaven screams, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God.” Why? Keep reading. Jesus, while prophesying his death, talks about heaven, saying, “I am going away to prepare a place for you … And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”

And here’s the question? Do you believe this? Do you trust that no matter what this world can throw at you, something better is coming?

When we truly believe that God is in control and he has a plan to conquer even death, when we believe (as the next verses suggest) that Jesus is truly “the way, and the truth, and the life,” then the troubles of this earth get remarkably smaller.

I know, I know. This life is hard. And from time to time (and sometimes for weeks and months and years and even decades) your heart is troubled. The antidote is trust.

And I know … that’s hard … especially when you’ve been knocked down. But the alternative is worse, isn’t it? Bondage. Darkness. Despair. Please God, help my troubled heart trust in you.

In Christ’s Love,

a guy who knows trouble

(and has caused some too)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Apr 19 - 35 - Ephesians 4:11

The gifts he gave were

that some would be apostles,

some prophets, some evangelists,

some pastors and teachers

Ephesians 4:11

Bible Rank: 35

Spiritual gifts. Spiritual roles. Spiritual callings. We're each given them. Why? As the next verse says: "to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ."

So, what is your calling? (And I would urge you, indeed, to not pick just one calling, but to pick a percentage of each of these roles as you serve in the kingdom! -- for example, "I'm 15% apostle, 22% prophet, etc.")

So how much of you is an apostle? Did you ever notice that while Jesus was on earth, Jesus closest followers were called "disciples," but after the resurrection his twelve closest followers were called "apostles"? "Disciple" means "student, learner, apprentice." "Apostle" means "sent." Therefore, in what ways are you called to take all that you have learned, and go out -- be sent -- and proclaim the good news to others?

And how much of you is a prophet? This is not asking, "how much of you it's like Elijah for Isaiah?" This is asking how bold are you willing to be in speaking the truth to a society that doesn't want to hear truth. You don't have to have a booming voice from the sky giving you messages to say to be a prophet. Rather, we are all called to proclaim God's truth from God's word. God's word, indeed, is a booming voice from above!

And how much of you is an evangelist? Being an evangelist doesn't have to mean standing a street corners and bellowing Good News that doesn't sound so good when it's blatant and loud. Rather, it can be gentle whispers of good news to hurting friends. Nevertheless, we are all called to be evangelists. 

And how much of you is a pastor? Pastor is a shepherding term. We are called to care for the sheep in our nearby fields. We are called to care for the sick, the grieving, the lonely, depressed.

And how much of you is a teacher? The common excuse is that, "I don't know enough." Yes, good teachers should be prepared. But most teachers will tell you that often they learn as they go! Don't make excuses and don't be afraid to learn as you go. 

So what percentages are you as you respond to God's call "to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ."

In Christ's Love,

a guy whose measurements

are 20-16-12-20-32

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Apr 18 - 34 - John 4:1

Now Jesus learned that

the Pharisees had heard that

he was gaining and baptizing

more disciples than John

John 4:1

                                                                             Bible Rank: 34


Again, this is not a TopVerse in and of itself. Rather, it stands at the introduction of an important chapter and important story - the woman at the well. 

But in this political season where every campaigner's motive is scrutinized, look at the motive and character of John the Baptist. This verse marks a shift in what was going on at the fringes of religious practice in Israel. 


At the center of first century religion in Israel stood the deadly legalism of the Pharisees. 

But suddenly a fresh wind was blowing through the desert. Crowds were leaving the cities to hear "a voice crying out in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way of the Lord.'"

To use the modern vernacular, John-the-Baptist was a star. He was an insurgent candidate with a huge following. The establishment - the Pharisees - sought to undermine his popularity. Any would be handlers would have surely encouraged John to go on an advertising campaign to increase his exposure and his brand. 

But it is in these moments that John reveals his servant's heart. In the sentences just before today's verse -- John 3:26-30 -- we hear that "crowds came to John and said to him, 'Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.' John answered, 'No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.' ... He must increase, but I must decrease.”


John was a servant, and servants are humble. How many of you wish, like me, that we had more candidates with the character of John the Baptist. 


In Christ's Love,

a guy who is starting

a write-in campaign:


for President!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Apr 16-17 - 32 - Romans 12:2

Do not conform

to the pattern of this world,

but be transformed by

the renewing of your mind.

Then you will be able

to test and approve

what God's will is – his

good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

Bible Rank: 32

Let me share with you an analogy …


We’re Jell-O.


And if sit anywhere long enough we (Jell-O) harden. And we take the shape – intentional or not – of whatever we happen to sit in.


If we sit long enough in a cup, we’re shaped like a cup. If we sit in a bowl, we’re take on the form of a bowl. I’ve never done this with a shoe, but if pour Jell-O in a pair of sneakers, it will stink … and it will be shaped like a shoe.


So why am I talking about Jell-O? Because the root word "form" is at the heart of this verse, and it speaks a powerful truth about our lives. It reminds us that we are all largely shaped and formed by the world around us.


We may wish we weren’t. We may argue that we’re all unique and have our own quirks. And while that’s true, we’re all also shaped by the world around us.


Sometimes we’re shaped for the better by the world in which we live. But that isn’t what Scripture is warning us about, is it? These words from Romans warn us about conforming (like Jell-O) to a world that is in fundamental rebellion against God.


Ever since the fall – see Genesis 2 or read this whole book of Romans – this world is in a state of utter brokenness. And if we just sit there (think Jell-O) we’re conformed to the pattern of this world.


So what’s the alternative? It’s another “form” word – “transformed.” Instead of sitting and settling like Jell-O (“conformed”), transformation lifts of us from the mold and the muck and makes something better of us!


It’s an uplifting gift that ultimately God produces – not us. It’s as miraculous as a creepy, crawling caterpillar turning into a majestic butterfly. Yes, we have to yield our “mind.” That’s our part. But transformation is something that occurs outside of us. Above us. Beyond us. God makes all things new.  


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who’d rather be

pudding than Jell-O

(I don’t know what that says

about me – or transformation –

but for what it’s worth, I’d rather

be chocolate than raspberry.)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Apr 15 - 31 - Titus 3:5

He saved us, not because

of righteous things we had done,

but because of his mercy.

He saved us through the

washing of rebirth and

renewal by the Holy Spirit

Titus 3:5

Bible Rank: 31


Again we see the formula of salvation. We are "saved" by God's grace and "mercy" ... and not be works (the "righteous things we had done" or have left undone). (See Romans 3:22ff for comparison and further expression of this formula of salvation.)

Since we've seen that before -- even already in our top 30 verses -- let's focus on the two new words: "rebirth" and "renewal."


Rebirth -- indeed, being born again -- reminds us that something about our first birth was inadequate. And it was. It is. We are all sinful. It is our nature. From the sin of Adam onward, all humanity sins and falls short of God's glorious standard. That's our first birth. That's our identity. That's the world-wide-web of original sin that we're all born into and stuck in -- like a fly in a spider's inescapable trap. 


Rebirth is heaven's solution. When Jesus tells Nicodemus about being "born again" -- see John 3 -- some translations render it being "born from above." Notice, Jesus doesn't say that we must be "born from within" -- because what's within is precisely the problem. Rather God must lift us up from above. He must cleanse us -- hence the image of the "washing of rebirth." He alone must "renew" us -- hence the role of the Holy Spirit. 


The Spirit, indeed, calls us, challenges us, breaks us open, comforts us, restores us, heals us, mends us, and creates us anew. Then the Spirit calls and challenges us again ... but this time as He is filling us with deeper faith, stronger convictions, gifts to bless the kingdom, and comforts (fruits) like love, joy, and peace. 


On our own, we're week and vulnerable. We're flies afraid of spiders. We're helpless sinners, vulnerable to the judgment of God. But God in his mercy -- and apart from our works -- lifts us, renews us, restores us, revives us. 

And our proper response is to first place our lives in His hands, allowing ourselves to be malleable to the Potter's restoration. And then living in thanksgiving and obedience for all he's done for us. 

In Christ's Love,

a fly



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Apr 14 - 30 - John 2:1

On the third day a wedding

took place at Cana in Galilee.

Jesus' mother was there

John 2:1

Bible Rank: 30


I'm beginning to guess how (our source for this ranking) works. I think it's most searched for verses on the web. Why? Because for a second time in a week, the verse was a transitional passage, leading into a valuable story. 


John 2 tells the story of Jesus' first miracle. 


·         He celebrates the historical pattern of marriage by showing up at a wedding. 

·         He is a shown as waiting patiently for the proper time -- in God's calendar -- to arrive before revealing his true identity and giving glimpses of his divine power. 

·         Nevertheless, he heeds his mother's command to bless a wedding party.

·         And Jesus does compassionately save a young couple from the shameful embarrassment of not having enough provisions for their guests. 

·         What God (Jesus) creates -- new wine -- is better than what humans served. 

·         The disciples begin to believe in him as a result of this miracle. 


Thus, while the verse doesn't say much, the story has some very good points -- God's power, God's timetable, God's compassion, the importance of human institutions (marriage and children obeying their parents), and the first reasons for faith. 


In Christ's Love,

a guy who is being

reminded that every verse

is always about context