WWJB?

Read: Leviticus 26-27, Mark 2

Some years ago, the big question was what would Jesus do? The acronym WWDJ appeared everywhere. Christians proudly wore the letters wrapped around their wrists and proclaimed that, before taking any action, they would ask themselves what Jesus would have done in the very same situation.

Today, I want to ask a different question. Who would Jesus be? For centuries, artists have tried to depict Christ. In film, no one can seem to agree on how he would have appeared. Was he a model with perfectly coiffed hair? Was he lean with olive skin? Was he comely or was he ugly? There are very few traits, if any, that can be agreed upon.

Here’s what I think:

I don’t think his hair was perfectly styled. Blow driers didn’t exist during his walk on earth. That’s one problem solved. I don’t think he was a model—also didn’t exist. But I do think he was well-muscled. As the (step-) son of a carpenter, he likely would have learned his father’s trade which, at the time, involved a lot of hard physical labour. Jesus would have been in great shape in the prime of his life. Based on where he was born, we can assume that he wasn’t white. Nor was he black, but somewhere in between.

But far more important than his physical features was his composure.

Mark 2-14.jpg

Levi, also called Matthew, was the fifth man in two chapters who immediately left what he was doing when Jesus called to him. When was the last time you dropped everything when someone told you to follow?

Our culture has placed great value on followers. We count them up and search for more. We refine how and what we present to attract more followers for no other reason than we want more than the next person. We strive to attract humanity to us without much care as to how we accomplish it.

And there goes Jesus. “Follow me,” he says. And people followed.

We’re supposed to be like Jesus. We shouldn’t have to go out looking for followers. They should see something in us that appeals to them far more than what they have. When Jesus called to Peter and Andrew, James and John, and Matthew, none of those men were thrilled with their lives. Archaeology suggests that the area was over-fished in Jesus’ time. Those first four that he called had little hope with nets in hand. And Matthew was a tax collector—the worst of the worst of society. But as bad as their lives were, there had to have been something spectacular about Jesus for them to be drawn to him so immediately.

When was the last time any of us were able to draw a crowd like Jesus? He often told people to leave him alone and not talk about him. He was prone to walks of solitude. Yet the multitudes fawned over him. They were drawn to him.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

John 6:44 (NIV)

Are we allowing God to draw people through us? I think that, in order for Jesus to have been so magnetic, he completely pushed his flesh aside. There was so little of his humanity showing that God was able to shine through. Imagine what we believers could accomplish if we would only set ourselves aside to make room for God. Let us not only ask who would Jesus be, but let us ask who could we become?

The same

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 13:8 (NLT)

No matter what translation you read, this verse is pretty much exactly the same in every one. The Amplified adds Jesus Christ is [eternally changeless, always] the same. The word same means just that. The same. Never changing. Unaltered. Never different. That is our Savior.

Think about that for a moment. The message that Jesus taught while he walked the earth is still valid today. Just because the world has changed and humanity has changed, doesn’t mean the Gospel changes.

So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your spiritual strength comes from God’s special favor…

Hebrews 13:9b (NLT)

Too often, we try to complicate the message of Jesus. It can get watered down or it can be altered to seem more appealing. But the true message of Jesus can get lost in all the things we try to do to it. If Jesus never, ever changes,why do we try to change his word? If Jesus appealed to the masses two thousand years ago what makes us think that he won’t appeal the crowds now?

We have not been called to make the message of the Gospel appealing. We’ve been called simply to share it.

And now, may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, all that is pleasing to him.

Hebrews 13:20 (NLT)

God is most please with us when we do His will His way, and He has already given us all we need to accomplish it. We don’t need to try to make up new stories or rules or ways of doing things. Jesus already set the standard and, since he never changes, why would we try to change his message?

Jesus ministered to anyone and everyone with grace and love. We should do the same.

Daily Bible reading: Ezekiel 17-19, Hebrews 13

Game day

I can’t remember how long it’s been since I last used a football analogy, but in my mind, one can never use them too often.

This weekend, I made a trip out to go see two of my nephews play football. As a part of their fundraising (and to clear out room in storage), the team is selling off old jerseys. Since I didn’t yet have any team apparel, I snagged one of these game-worn shirts. Immediately after putting it on, I noticed some pretty major differences between it and the other jerseys I own. While my fan jerseys are all pretty awesome, they’d be useless if I ever actually wanted to play the game of football. Unlike a game jersey, they have little stretch and absolutely no room for protective padding. It got me thinking about how we, as Christians, wear different shirts and expect results that we are unprepared for.

Now, I can go to Saskatchewan, wear my green and white jersey with a name and number on the back and tell everyone that I play for the Roughriders. But no one is going to believe me. I’m just a fan. It’s obvious. Or I can step out onto the field in my new gold and black jersey and claim I’m a Bear, but it’s quite plain that I’m not. This is how a lot of Christians are. They get saved and become fans of the faith. It’s alright. They follow the rest of the team and wear the team shirt when it suits them, but they’re not team players. They aren’t equipped.

Then we have the armchair quarterbacks. You know, those people who wear the game jersey ballooning out across their shoulders. There’s room for equipment, but it’s not there. They know the playbook and the rulebook and are more than willing to tell everyone else how to play the game, but are again, ill equipped to actually get in there and do it themselves.

We also have those like my nephew, with both the playbook and rulebook memorized, game jersey on—filled out with a full set of pads, early to every practice, in every play, learning every position. This is how we are all supposed to be—eager to get on the field at every opportunity. And, if we’re not playing, we should be coaching—showing those with less experienced how to get things done.

Paul was Timothy’s coach. Paul had been in the game for a while and was raising up the next team to take his place on the so-called field of faith.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and make us realize what is wrong in our in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)

The Word of God contains everything we need to get out there and do what He’s called us to do. And let’s set the record straight—God has not called any of us simply to be fans or armchair quarterbacks. We’ve all be drafted to the team and are expected to do everything we can to help the team grow, become stronger, and win.

Church, get ready. It’s game day.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 25-26. 2 Timothy 3

From called to chosen

For a long time, the Church portrayed itself as an exclusive club. That only certain people were worthy of even an invitation to join. How this ever became a doctrine is beyond me because it is completely contrary to what Jesus taught.

If anything, the church should the be the most inclusive* gathering on the planet. There should be no one left without an invitation.

So what happens when everyone is invited? Jesus shared a story of a king who was putting on a wedding feast. He’d prepared and sent out invitations and all those invited declined. (Who passes up the opportunity for a free feast?) In fact (and this sounds a little too familiar), some of those who were invited responded in anger and violence. Finally, the king sent his servants out to invite anyone they could find since he deemed the original invitees unworthy.

The servants brought in anyone and everyone they could find who would accept the invitation. Good people. Bad people. All people.

But there was one man who accepted the late invitation, yet failed to properly prepare. The king had him bound and thrown out.

This may seem extreme, but the man was invited into the presence of the king! If you suddenly received an invitation to Buckingham Palace, I’m reasonably certain that you wouldn’t show up in sweatpants and a tank top. You’d more than likely immediately head out and find something appropriate to wear in the presence of royalty.

I’ve heard many in and outside of the church whine and complain about the church being an exclusive place where they don’t have a place. Here’s the thing: we’re all invited. God has done His part by sending out the invitation. It is up to us to RSVP. It is up to us to show up. And it is entirely up to us whether or not we show up prepared.

If you’re invited to try out for your favourite CFL team and show up without any of the proper equipment, you’ll be immediately struck off the list of candidates. You can’t very well then complain about not making the team because the team did their part in sending the invitation. The preparation is on you.

For may are called, but few are chosen.

Matthew 22:14 (NLT)

You are called. Whether or not you are chosen depends entirely on your level of preparation.

*I feel that, by using the word inclusive, I need to  offer further explanation. Today’s  culture would have the word mean that we must not only invite all, but accept all choices and preferences regardless of what the Bible teaches. I do not condone this use of the word. Jesus was welcoming of all as humans, but urged all those invited to leave their sin behind. The inclusive part is in the invitation, not the lifestyle.

Daily Bible reading: Exodus 29-30, Matthew 22:1-22

Familiar

I’ve always said that, if I were ever to hear the voice of God audibly, He’d sound like James Earl Jones – more Mufasa than Darth Vadar. I don’t know why, but in my mind, God is an old black man. I have no scripture to back this up.

If I really were to hear the voice of God, I wonder what He’d sound like. Would He be the rumbling, echoing voice in the clouds or would He be the softly carried whisper in the wind that causes fields of grain to ripple in ripe, golden waves?

In 1 Samuel 3, the boy Samuel hears a voice in the night. Is it a deep, raspy voice or a light, airy sound? Whatever the timbre, it wasn’t a stranger’s voice he heard.

How often do you see Christians heeding the voice of a stranger? A voice on the radio? A passer-by? A travelling preacher?

And how often do those very same people ignore the voice of the trusted and familiar? Close friends. Family. Pastor.

Then the Lord called Samuel, and Samuel answered, “I am here!” He ran to Eli and said, “I am here. You called me.”

1 Samuel 3:4-5 (NCV)

Thrice over, young Samuel heard a voice and ran immediately to Eli. Why? The voice he heard wasn’t strange, but familiar. God called to him in a voice that wouldn’t frighten him, but rather give comfort and trust.

God will often use the voices of those closest to us to convey His words.

Whose voice are you listening to?

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 1-3; Luke 12:1-34

It’s not over

When Joshua was very old, the Lord said to him, “Joshua, you have grown old, but there is still much land for you to take.”

Joshua 13:1 (NCV)

One of my Bible school teachers once said that, if you’re still alive, God’s not done with you yet. If He were done with you, you’d be dead.

I’m not old. I’m not even middle-aged, so I’m not speaking from experience here, but I speak from what I’ve read in God’s word. All through the Old Testament thus far, not a single man of God has retired. The only way any of these guys god out of the ministry was to die.

I’ve seen so many people just packing it all in to live our their golden years in peace. It’s like life ends when the career ends and then there’s nothing more to do.

My grandfather was a ministry man. He didn’t actually even start in the five-fold ministry (pastors, teachers, evangelists, apostles, prophets) until later in life. He worked hard at his career and he worked hard in the ministry. When his career ended, he just transferred he use of his time to the church. He pastored until the day he died. He knew that God had called him to be more than a retired business man. He knew that there was more to life than spending winters in Arizona. He knew that the call on his life didn’t end until his life did.

No matter how young or old you are,  God’s not done with you. It’s not over. It’s not over until you’re six feet under or Jesus comes.

Daily Bible reading: Joshua 11+13, Luke 4:1-32

Much.

With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine. To him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NCV)

I’m not good enough.

I’m not talented enough.

I don’t feel called to anything.

There are all common excuses in the church. And all of them are saying that God doesn’t measure up.

WHAT?!?!?

If God, in His infinite wisdom and knowledge, failed to make me good enough, failed to give me enough talent, failed to call me to a greater work, that would mean that He has fallen short of who He says He is.

But He has made me good enough. He has given me enough talent. He has called me to a greater work. And, in that realization, is where God can do the much, much more that Paul talked about in his letter to the church at Ephesus.

If everything I do brings God glory in one way or another, what kind of glory is He really getting from everything I do? Is He proud of what I’ve accomplished in His name with what He has given me? or am I one of those people He would rather not be associated with?

I need to recognize all that God has given me and make me to be and then act like I know it so that He receives the glory He deserves.