Pondering From Luke 8: 4-15

Posted by on Monday, Oct 27, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Pondering From Luke 8:4-15 This parable is a familiar one. I didn’t even want to write about it. But Jesus spoke, and so I write. In this parable there’s seed, which is God’s Word. And there are four kinds of soil (or ways people respond to Jesus and his message). We have seeds on a path, on the rock, among thorns, and in good soil. Jesus explains … 11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. 12 The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. 13 The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. 14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. 15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest. Obstacles to our walk with God clearly exist. They not only exist but pull hard, trying to loosen our grip. While we cling to God’s hope and promises, they pull … trying to loosen our grip. Satan. Worry. Riches. Pleasure. And trials. It wasn’t but a few  years ago that I almost lost my grip. A tsunami hit. I wasn’t even aware it was coming, and my faith was rocked. For the first time, I wondered if living for Jesus was worth it. I considered leaving the ministry. I struggled believing his Word. I felt abandoned, betrayed, and lost. Pain can cause the heart to harden. I tried to move towards him even in my pain. I couldn’t read his Word, so I listened to it online: http://www.pray-as-you-go.org/. And slowly, ever so slowly, Jesus started warming my heart again. He does that. Makes our hearts soft. I’m so grateful that when I was about to let go, he didn’t. This passage reminded me that there are obstacles, and they are pulling – hard. If we are going to cling to God’s hope and promises, we must go to Jesus. And listen. Jesus said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” (Luke...

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Pondering From Luke 7:36-50

Posted by on Monday, Oct 20, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

Pondering from Luke 7:36-50 Today’s story is a familiar one. It’s about the sinful woman who wipes, kisses, and anoints Jesus’ feet during Simon the Pharisees’ dinner party. Simon has invited all of his Pharisee friends over to eat with The Teacher. It’s supposed to be a nice night, but a sinful woman who disgusts him comes in, and Jesus does not ask her to leave. When Simon reacts negatively to this, Jesus responds with a parable whose moral is that “those who are forgiven much love much.” Furthermore, Jesus restores this woman to community when he says, “Your sins are forgiven… go into peace.” One theologian remarks, “The forgiveness is not a result of [her] acts; rather, [her] acts testify to love’s presence in gratitude for the previous granting of forgiveness.” (Bock, 703) I love this picture of her: she’s weeping like a rainstorm, then wiping her tears with her long hair (hair down is a major no-no in these days), then kissing – feet, Jesus’ feet – over and over again. Finally, she breaks out the expensive bottle of perfume and anoints his feet. The others must have felt awkward. Wild love for Jesus makes us nervous. I relate with this sinful woman. In many ways, her story is mine. I grew up a pagan in an abusive home. I made bad choices and was a train wreck waiting to happen. Unbelievably, in the middle of my pagan life – in the middle of sex, drugs, and rock n roll, God reached down out of heaven into the sewer and pulled me out. God did not wait for me to straighten out before he saved me; God saved me while I was in the middle of my sin. And after he saved me, slowly, over years of hanging with Jesus in his Word, I became healed and whole. For the first ten years of my new life with God, I would frequently sit and sob over my salvation. I just couldn’t believe that God would save me. Sometime after I became whole, I lost my memory. With memory loss comes love loss. Our being wildly in love with Jesus is directly tied to our exact understanding of our desperate need for him. Every once in a while I need to be reminded just how far Jesus was willing to go to save me. What about you? How’s your love life? How long has it been since you’ve stood before our Holy God and remembered who you are in light of who he is? How long has it been since you’ve cried over your salvation? Irwin McManus, in his book, The Barbarian Way, makes this comment, “I’m happy...

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Pondering From Luke 7:17-23

Posted by on Monday, Oct 13, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Pondering from Luke 7:17-23  Mary, the mother of Jesus, went to visit her cousin Elizabeth when she was pregnant with Jesus. When Mary entered the room, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leapt. Elizabeth’s child was John the Baptist, and even in the womb this child knew. Later, in the wilderness, by the Jordan River, John the Baptist also knew. More than once, he proclaimed what he knew: “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) John the Baptist’s assurance about who Jesus was did not exclude him from struggle. On the contrary, for he later finds himself in prison, waiting to be beheaded. He had rebuked Herod for marrying his brother’s wife. Herod put him in prison for this rebuke, and Herod’s new wife demanded the head of John the Baptist. When John the Baptist heard of his impending death, we must wonder whether or not he questioned himself, and the Lord. Maybe he asked himself if he had given his life to the right things. Maybe he wondered if he loved his parents well. Had he honored God? It would not have been the first time John the Baptist questioned Jesus. In Luke 7:19, he asks Christ (through his disciples): “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” Jesus responds to John’s disciples: “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard – the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf here, the dead are raised to live, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” And tell him, “God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.” (Luke 7:22-23) So we learn that Jesus miraculously heals and saves the needy. And if that’s not enough, we get to hear more stories about how he saves; Jesus heals a centurion’s slave and raises a widow’s son from the dead. So how are we understand why Jesus does not step in to save John the Baptist’s life? Seriously, how’s that for fair? Have you ever said to Jesus, “Really, you can heal but you won’t heal me, my brother, mother, child?” Jesus spoke to me as I read this passage; he said, “Jackie, what I’m doing is bigger than you. And yes, I can heal, but whether or not I do is not for you to decide. Be faithful. Trust me. I AM.” Following Christ isn’t always safe. As Irwin McManus in the Barbarian Way states so beautifully, “This is the sticky part of the barbarian call. It’s not fair or equitable. When you hear the call, when you follow the call, you...

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Pondering From Luke 6:20

Posted by on Monday, Oct 6, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Pondering from Luke 6:20 Jesus said, “God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours.” In the original Greek the word “blessed” connotes something that is “of honor” or “honorable.” This connotation would have meant something to Jesus’ audience (here, his disciples), for their society placed great value on honor and its opposite shame. When Jesus said to his first century audience, “Greatly honored are the poor,” they would not have understood what he meant, for poverty meant shame to them, not honor. To us, it’s also difficult to understand: Is Jesus literally saying that the poor are honored, or does he mean the poor in spirit? I have always heard it said that Jesus spoke exclusively of the “poor in spirit.” The Beatitudes have been taught to me as a spiritual poverty, not really tied to the physical realities of the day. But that’s not correct. Jesus actually speaks at different times in the gospels to both spiritual poverty and physical poverty. In Matthew, Jesus speaks of those whose spirits are destitute; in Luke, he speaks of those who are poor physically, as in they don’t have much money. Furthermore, in the New Testament, the word for “poor” can refer to two different types of poor: the working poor and the destitute. The working poor were those who struggled to survive day to day, as seen in Luke 15:8-9, with the woman who’s sweeping the floor in search of a single coin. While the working poor could work and did work, they did not make very much money. The destitute, on the other hand, were those who were not able to work for their daily bread, like the beggars of Jesus’ day or the widow with no son to provide for her needs. Being destitute was the lowest of low, for Jesus’ audience believed that their destitution was a result of sin committed by them, and God’s displeasure at their sin. They were, therefore, the most despised in society. To survive, these men and women relied solely upon the mercy of the community to live each day. Later, in Luke 6:24, Jesus gives a reproach to the same group: “Woe to (or shame on) you who are affluent, for you are receiving your comfort.” What does Jesus mean by this? Is he (in this instance) saying that the wealthy are in trouble just for being wealthy? No. Here, he is saying, “Woe to those who get rich off the backs of the poor.” He is warning the wealthy, “Be careful. Do not take advantage of the poor.” During the first century, the Roman Empire ruled, and they taxed people both on their land and...

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Pondering Luke 5:4-6

Posted by on Monday, Sep 29, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Ponderings (Luke 5:4-6) 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish. 5 “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” 6 And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! The nets Simon Peter used, one theologian suggests, were “trammel nets.” These nets were “made of linen, visible to the fish during the day.” So they were used only at night, and required two to four men to handle, and were washed every morning. This theologian makes the point that the details of this story are therefore precisely realistic. Beyond that, he makes the point that what Jesus was asking Peter to do was more unusual that we have understood. The fish would be able to see the nets during the day and would avoid the net. So “this identification underscores the miraculous nature of the catch.” (Green 232) If I had been Peter, and Jesus had asked me to put my linen nets into the water during the day, I wouldn’t have done so. My logical brain would have kicked in and said it was foolishness. And why is this? Somewhere along the way, I have ceased to believe that Jesus does the impossible. In all of my “logical” education about God, my faith itself had become “logical,” or mature. Yet how have I forgotten that faith itself actually defies logic? Faith itself is belief in the supernatural, in that which cannot be known or proven. How did I begin many years ago with this defying-logic type of faith only to end up here – where I would not putd my nets down into the water with Peter? When I was younger, I (perhaps naively) expected Jesus to do miracles. I remember taking with a friend, and she shared with me that she wanted to take her family to Ireland so that they could see their extended family. She told me that they could not afford the trip. Without a thought, I responded, “Have you asked Jesus about it?” She had not, for she did not know that she could ask the Father for these types of things. “Why not?” I wondered. “I’m a parent and I love to give my kids things beyond their needs.” Not that God owes us that, but he can choose to say no, and he is our Father, and if I, as a parent, feel this way, how much more must God? And Jesus says this very thing quite explicitly, does he not? In Matthew 7:11, Jesus says,...

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