As Christians we have a tendency to fall into our old ways, doing what once was so natural for us. Sometimes, very rarely, I’ll have what I’ll call a flare up. My temper might come out in a stressful situation. For example, about 10 years ago I was working on my car trying to put a belt back on with a screw driver, in retrospect using this tool for this application may not have been the wisest decision… When I’m working on things I am pretty low key and focused on accomplishing the task at hand. I try my best not to lose my cool because it doesn’t help the situation or anyone I’m working with. As I stretched the belt toward the pulley my screw driver slipped smashing my knuckle into the edge of the razor sharp pulley. I recoiled my hand from the engine as if it just bit me. Refusing to look at the damage I continued working on the belt set on fixing my car before tending to my wound. Eventually I got the belt on, started the vehicle and headed inside to clean and dress my busted knuckle. Since my hands were covered in grease I couldn’t see how bad the cut was so I knew I had to clean it. I grabbed the bristle brush and went to town with soap and warm water powering through the excruciating pain and raised goose bumps on my neck… In life I have found that there are 4 reasons for goose bumps; when your wife gives you a back rub, when you’ve been sunburned, when you feel the Holy Spirit, and when you’ve done something stupid that hurts really bad. These goose bumps were the latter. After I had gotten all of the grease out of my cut I turned around to talk to my step Mom, Penny. From that point on I don’t know what happened because I blacked out. I woke up sometime later with a splitting headache and gasping for air on the kitchen floor. I didn’t know where I was and was asking Penny what had happened. She looked down at me with a scold and asked if I was joking. To her credit I must confess that I had cried wolf in this department for many years. You see any time someone from our family would get home, walk into a room, or ask me a question I didn’t really want to answer I would pretend to go to sleep. My wife just recently taught Jon-Jon, my oldest son, how to pretend to go to sleep in my honor…it’s the cutest thing. Penny thought I was just pretending like I had so many times before. After trying to convince my step mom that I did in fact faint and that I was not ‘joking’ I got frustrated and anger got the best of me. Lying on the floor with my head against the cupboards I yelled the R rated version of “I’m not kidding”. Now Penny knew that I never swore, so when she heard me cuss she knew I wasn’t kidding but that does not justify my angry response.
To become a Christian is to see with greater and greater clarity… “In the Beginning” the scripture begins. And the great drama of creation unfolds in just a few lines. “In the beginning” hearkens back to Genesis 1:1: “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” You are right to be reminded of the beginning of time. The beginning of creation. There is freshness, newness – and as the revelation of creation unfolds, the possibility of a personal relationship with God is revealed. We are right to see ourselves as part of God’s purpose.
The Need for Optimism…
There is a great need for optimism. Children are naturally optimistic. Little Paisley running around at SOH on Thursday, doesn’t know a stranger, I picked her up and let her look at people and smile and people were more pleased than if I’d handed them a chocolate bar. Children are naturally optimistic. Carefree days, no worries. One of my first jobs was picking blueberries for Jan Jorgenson Hatch… I don’t even remember picking blueberries… I do remember lunchtime and the watering hole and the rope swing tied to the tree… children are naturally optimistic…. This scripture is dripping with optimism, optimism of John the Baptist like the natural optimism of children…
Children are commended by Jesus as examples for us in Matt. 19:14 (NLT). Or close to the same thought, yesterday after the Clothesline closed Connie, Linda and I were brainstorming, and Connie pulled out a children’s shirt that made her laugh: “You Big People Just Don’t Get It.” ….ain’t that the truth…I know that the T-shirt is referring to life in general, but it makes most sense when the “it” is faith. When you look at children as the example, faith isn’t that complex…
100’s of years before Jesus Christ was born, the Isaiah 9:6 prophecy was given as a gift from God. We look back in amazement at the specifics.Isaiah 9:6.
The child is Jesus Christ, born of the virgin Mary, born in a stable, a feeding trough for a bed. Is. 9:6: four descriptions of who Jesus is, or better, his gifts to us: wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace.
What did one sheep say to the other sheep? "after ewe"
What would you get if you crossed a goat & a sheep? An animal that eats tin cans & gives back steel wool
Why did the lamb call the police? he had been fleeced
Have you ever tried to put a tent together in the wind, or heavy rain? I remember a few times on the slopes of Mt. Baker in a fierce wind, the tent was blowing side. The poles, the rain fly, the tent, look like a jumble.
For those of you who might need help, I found instructions on a website (Wikihow). These instructions do not seem helpful to me, but they are amusing:
(After the scripture was read, the message began with this reading followed by the YouTube video posted below.)
A son asked his father, Dad, will you take part in a marathon with me?. The father who despite having a heart condition, says Yes. They went on to complete the marathon together. Father and son went on to join other marathons, the father always saying Yes to his sons request of going through the race together. One day, the son asked his father, Dad, lets join the Ironman together. To which, his father said Yes too.
The Ironman is the toughest triathlon ever. The race encompasses three endurance events of a 2.4 mile (3.86 kilometer) ocean swim, followed by a 112 mile (180.2 kilometer) bike ride, and ending with a 26.2 mile (42.195 kilometer) marathon along the coast of the Big Island . Father and son went on to complete the the race together.
I had a professor that told the story of a trip he took to the Caribbean Islands. In a little church during a worship service he noticed a woman that glowed with an angelic face. Later he asked her why she was so happy. She led the man down a path through the woods. As they came to a small graveyard she stopped in front of 4 graves: her husband and three sons. She explained a few years earlier, an illness had swept through the area, first taking her husband, and then one by one all three children. For months she was in pain and agony, wanting the Lord to take her also. One day, as she was mourning once again at the grave, she felt the presence of the Lord; the Lord said she had to make a choice: she could continue mourning as she had done for many months stretching into years, or she could live for Christ and be his testimony. She told the Lord she wanted to live for him. Soon the most incredible peace and joy flooded her life. She still missed her family, yet now she had a greater purpose, to tell others about the Lord. As the woman finished telling her story, she turned to the professor and said, “That’s my story, what’s your story?” The professor didn't know what to say. Compared to this woman's story he could not think of anything to say, so he said, “I don’t really have a story.” And the woman said to him, “Sir, everyone has a story.”
I remember thinking the same thing as a boy. Back in the late 60’s/70’s there was a time when the fad was to have dramatic stories of conversions. One group in my area was the Jesus people. Many Sunday evenings a few Jesus people would come to church and I’d hear testimonies of a life of drugs and stories of dramatic conversions. Even as a boy, I would think I don’t know the date I became a Christian, I was not a drug user or an alcoholic, I just quietly accepted Christ sometime when I was young. My story was not that exciting.
Everyone has a story. John chapter 9 is a story of a blind man who was blind from birth, miraculously healed by Jesus. The blind man is never named. Change the details and it could be anyone. Although there are many lessons in this chapter, I want to focus on how often the blind man tells his story. All that he seems to know is that “I was blind but now I see.” (He must have borrowed that line from Amazing Grace.)
You have a powerful story. Maybe others have read the Bible more times, been to the ends of the earth and back again, and have a dramatic conversion experience, but your story is second to none. Somebody will be enriched by your story told to the level of your understanding. Jesus Christ trusts you to tell your story to the level of your understanding and experience. Don’t apologize for your story.
A woman has a son who will sit in jail for the rest of his life because he murdered his wife. The mother loves him anyway. .
The only reason some parents appreciate pets is because the children love them so much. Like my cat nicknamed PIB (Pain in the ________).
The examples represent a certain kind of love in which value is created by being loved. I have a bottle cap collection that would look worthless to most people, yet to me the bottlecaps represent an era from my childhood. Our first inclination is that we want to be naturally lovable, yet it is a step of maturity and humility when we come to realize that we are sinners by nature, not worthy of God’s love or anybody else for that matter, and accept God loves us anyway in spite of our sinful nature. God creates value in us by his love.