Tag Archives: Evangelism

Chapter-a-Day Luke 18

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Then [Jesus] said, “Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help?” Luke 18:6 (MSG)

‘I am going to make for the Bucklebury Ferry as quickly as possible. I am not going out of the way, back to the road we left last night: I am going to cut straight across country from here.’

‘Then you are going to fly,’ said Pippin. ‘You won’t cut straight on foot anywhere in this country.’

‘We can cut straighter than the road anyway,’ answered Frodo. ‘We could save a quarter of the distance if we made a line for the Ferry from where we stand.’

Short cuts make long delays,’ argued Pippin.

Today’s chapter reminds me that there is a holy timing within the journey. I must confess that I get tired of the long road. I tire of asking “are we there yet, God?” Crying out makes me weary.

Patience is really hard for me, so like Frodo I’ve often attempted shortcuts in life to quickly get to where (or what) I want. Yet, when I look back at shortcuts and snap decisions intended to get what I wanted in the moment I wanted it, I inevitably learned Pippin’s wisdom the hard way.

Today, I’m once again reminded to trust God’s timing. I feel the frustrating encouragement to keep asking, seeking, and knocking. I am called to keep crying out.

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Chapter-a-Day Luke 14

Table setting at a wedding diner
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He went on to tell a story to the guests around the table. Noticing how each had tried to elbow into the place of honor, he said, “When someone invites you to dinner, don’t take the place of honor. Somebody more important than you might have been invited by the host. Then he’ll come and call out in front of everybody, ‘You’re in the wrong place. The place of honor belongs to this man.’ Red-faced, you’ll have to make your way to the very last table, the only place left. Luke 14:7-9 (MSG)

I consider stories, books, and films that seem timeless. There is a reason Shakespeare’s works are still staged for packed crowds around the world. There is something in them that resounds with our own core human experience and longing. Jesus was a great teacher because he spoke in stories, parables and spiritual lessons rooted in universal human experiences. He pointed us to eternal significance in everday occurrences.

Life lessons are all around us. They lurk in our daily conversations, in our every day relationships, and in the most mundane moments of our daily journey. God’s Spirit whispers to our spirit in a crowded shopping mall, in the quiet car ride home, and in the midst of our daily work.

For me, the crucial question is the one Jesus asked at the end of the chapter: “Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

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Chapter-a-Day Luke 13

mojo ingredients
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Then [Jesus] said, “How can I picture God’s kingdom for you? What kind of story can I use? It’s like a pine nut that a man plants in his front yard. It grows into a huge pine tree with thick branches, and eagles build nests in it.” Luke 13:18-19 (MSG)

When I read these words of Jesus, it reminded me of the message we heard in worship yesterday. In a world in which “instant” this and “convenient” that is marketed to us incessantly, I find it easy to want my spiritual maturity to be a simple recipe:

Instant Christian
1 part Jesus
1/2 part prayer
Pinch of knowledge of God’s Message
Dash of church

Directions: Add ingredients into a soul and stir.

I’m reminded this morning that God’s kingdom is not about a moment, but an eternity. It is not a destination but a journey. I look back and see how far I’ve come, but then I look to the horizon and see how far I have to go.

So I begin another hour of another day within another week in another year of the journey. God, have your way in me as I press on.

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Chapter-a-Day Luke 3

Compass with inclinometer
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When crowds of people came out for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, John exploded: “Brood of snakes! What do you think you’re doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to deflect God’s judgment? It’s your life that must change, not your skin. Luke 3:7-8a (MSG)

Have I changed? Am I different?

Along the journey I’ve experienced distinctly different types of life change. There is the radical change of direction that happens in a moment’s decision when you turn and walk in a different direction. Some change is hard earned and requires effort and perseverance. It’s like the steep hill that you attempt to climb over and over, only to slide back down to where you started. But you keep trying until that one day when you reach the top and can move on to the next ridge. Still other changes are more subtle. A minor course correction doesn’t feel like much in the moment, but as the miles go by you find that one degree of course change leads to a completely different destination. You hardly notice the change until you’ve arrived at the destination.

Life change. That’s the whole idea: new direction, the struggle to ascend, course correction, life transformation. The theme of John the Baptist’s message was no different than that of Jesus:

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

and Paul:

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. Romans 7:6

And James:

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:17

And Peter:

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation…. I Peter 2:1-2

And the Apostle John:

Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. I John 2:4-6

Have I changed? Because, if I haven’t, then what’s the point?

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Chapter-a-Day Amos 7

hang plumb
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God said to me, “What do you see, Amos?”
I said, “A plumb line.”
Amos 7:8 (MSG)

Having been through a sizeable construction project in the last twelve months, I’m very familiar with levels, plumb lines, and chalk marks. When you’re raising walls, dropping a ceiling or hanging a door, you better make sure things are good and level. If you’re just a half-bubble off plumb in one spot, you’re going to have a whole mess of problems down the line. And when things get out of plumb, it takes a great work to get things back on the level. Either that, or you tear everything down, throw it out, and start from scratch.

A plumb line tells you how you measure up, and whenever God pulled out His plumb line in the days of Amos, it was not a good thing for those being measured. It generally meant that things were getting ready to be torn out and scrapped.

God’s Message is clear. In and of ourselves, there is no one who measures up to God’s exacting standards. We all start life a half-bubble off plumb, and if we’re not careful our lives end up entirely out of balance from God’s master blueprint.

When life gets crooked, unbalanced, and out of whack, just remember that Jesus was a carpenter by trade. Through His great work, the work of Life’s master carpenter, our out-of-balance lives can be brought back even with God’s plumb line.

You just have to turn the entire project over and let Him be the foreman.

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Chapter-a-Day Romans 10

The Resurrection from Grünewald's Isenheim Alt...
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Say the welcoming word to God—”Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. Romans 10:9-10 (MSG)

I’m often intimidated by do-it-yourself projects. Convinced that it’s got to be infinitely complex, and further convinced I’m in no way good enough or qualified to do it, I shy away from starting the project in the first place. When I finally take the step of faith to launch into the project, I usually find that it was a lot simpler than I believed.

I find others response to God is a similar thing. Convinced that getting their lives right with God is a terribly complex process frought with all sorts of personal hardship, self-sacrifice and a religious to-do list for which they are not good enough – they simply avoid the issue altogether.

But, God’s Message makes it clear. Salvation is as simple as taking the step of faith to say “Jesus is my Lord & Master,” and believing in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead.

 Painting by Mattias Grunwald (part of the Isenheim Altarpiece)
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