Thursday, May 31, 2007

Not all is as it seems...

This process is harder than I thought; I don't mean the reading -- that is so much a part of my life, that it became a habit long ago... But it's really difficult to know where to stop, and decide what to comment on. I've made it through Luke 12 myself, in spite of Luke's long detailed chapters. And now, in addtion to my own highlighting, I have far too many places marked, "BLOG!"

In spite of the difficulty, I'll give it a try. I've noticed a pattern in the last few chapters. See if you agree...

In Luke 10:21 (meaning chapter 10 and verse 21) I found this ... "Thank you For hiding the truth from those who think themselves so wise and clever, and for revealing it to the childlike. Yes Father, it pleased you to do it this way." Jesus spoke these words to the team of disciples he sent ahead to the towns and villages he planned to visit. These guys found many villages who couldn't accept their message, and they were instructed not to worry about them, but to move on.

And then, in chapter 11, verse 35 Jesus says this. "Make sure that the light you think you have is not really darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight is shining on you."

Jesus' words seem to impart warning to his listeners. What is the danger he refers to?

That things are not as they seem.

He warns those who THINK they are wise and clever, that they may be missing the life's biggest truth. In fact, he suggests that those who think they have "light" may in fact be full of darkness.

Isn't it interesting that Jesus himself says there is A TRUTH. THE TRUTH. Something that is irrefutably true. Pretty amazing thing to hear in this "relevant" day and age. You can't sit in a coffee shop without hearing someone proclaim that his "truth" is true for him. (Wouldn't truth be true, period? For everyone?) Not these days.

And it seems equally important to mention that we can be deceived about the condition of our own heart. Jesus wasn't talking about incandescent lights, or candle power, or watts. He was taking about soul-light. Or, perhaps you'd like to call it "soul-truth." He was saying that we humans can think we are pure and clean, even while we are dark and evil.

So, how does anyone know where they stand? I think Jesus gives us a hint. It seems that our first step might be to STOP believing that we are so wise and clever. Maybe we should, like a trusting child, ASSUME that there is more to life than we can see and feel and touch. Maybe, we should be so childlike that we are willing to ASK for help, admit our confusion, and seek some good advice about our spiritual condition. A healthy child doesn't feel foolish or incompetent when he asks for help. He just admits his need and waits for his loving parent to help. You can ask a fellow traveler for advice... Or, you can ask your Heavenly Father. He'd love to guide you to the truth.

Maybe it's time for all of us to return to our youth!

Tell, me, what have you seen in Luke's account?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What Kind of Man?

I've just managed to get through Luke 6, 7 and 8. And as I read, I've been thinking about what Luke chose to include in his accounts of Jesus. I know from the book of Colossians that Luke was a physician. He's a detailed guy. An observer. A scientist. And that's the kind of narrative he makes in this book. Details. Observations. He's a "just the facts, ma'am," kind of writer.

So what does he include? A surprising fish catch, the healing of leprosy, Jesus making friends with a tax collector, a long discussion of values, Jesus healing a slave, Jesus raising a boy from the dead, and the story of a "madman" who is made completely well again. Quite a list isn't it?

Whoever this Jesus was, if we trust this account, he had some pretty amazing power. Raising the dead is big stuff in my book. Even in modern fiction that kind of power is out of our reach. But with this simple guy, it seems to be "business as usual."

I think it's interesting to look at the responses of the people who observe these events. Some are overcome by fear and reverence and the book says that they "praised God." Some listened to Jesus and said, "Who does this man think he is?" Some, who had seen the most unusual things begged Jesus to go and leave them alone.

It occurs to me that things haven't changed much have they? People are still responding to Jesus. Some instantly respond to him, and understand who he was and what he meant to accomplish. They turn immediately to God -- buying the whole story, hook line and sinker. Others mock him. 'Ah, come on. He had to be nuts!" And still others, just want to avoid him.

But one man, one very simple man had a different respnonse.

He'd been considered crazy. He'd been chained and naked, alone and ostracized all his life. Then Jesus walks in. With a single command, this crazy man finds his life made completely right. At the story's end, he is dressed and in his right mind. And what is his response?

"Please, let me go with you?"

Why not? Why would you want to stay behind? After you've been hated by your neighbors, forgotten, ridiculed, abandoned, why would you want to stay? But Jesus says this. "Stay here, and tell others what has happened to you."

A surprise to the healed man, I'm sure. But not so surprising, if you stop to think about it.

For cenuries, we're still doing it. We're still talking about the things Jesus has done for us. I've been delivered from a hatred and anger that held me in chains as real as those who held the crazy man. Jesus delivered me. He blew away my anger -- like dust. And he set me free from the kind of hate that would destroy me (from the inside out). I'm still telling people about what happened. You see, like these gospel reporters, I've seen Jesus in action. And, I want to tell others about it.

So, tell me. What has Jesus done for you lately? And how have you responded?


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Luke tells all

If Luke had lived today, he surely would have blogged out Jesus' story. He might have been a tabloid writer for some Hollywood rag -- except that he wrote what he knew to be the truth. In fact, he tells his audience (someone named Theophilus) that he had "carefully investigated" the story. Something most rag writers fail to accomplish.

So, imagine that you are a single guy working in a downtown high rise. And you spot this woman -- this god-dess, to use the venacular -- and you decide she's the one for you. How do you begin? If you're like most guys, you start by careful investigation. You observe. How does she get to work? Which floor does she work on? What company does she work for? And if you're really taken, you start asking questions. "Say, who is that tall redhead? Is she single?"

We can take the same approach to Jesus. In fact, I try to do it whenever I'm reading in the Bible. "Who is that guy Jesus?" "Why does he do that?" "What makes him tick?" As I read, I'm always asking questions and looking for answers. It really makes the words more interesting.

As I was cruising through Luke chapters 4-6, I was thinking about these same issues, asking myself questions, and I stumbled on this sentence... Jesus is answering a question, "Why do you eat with such scum?"

And he says, "Healthy people don't need a doctor -- sick people do. I have come to call sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend my time with those who think they are already good enough."

Whoever Jesus was, he WASN'T a goody two shoes. He wasn't interested in hypocrites -- folks who thought they were pretty perfect just the way they were. In fact, he's looking for people who KNOW that they don't have it all together. Folks who understand that something deep down isn't working.

You know, that comforts me. We live in a world where we're all supposed to love and value ourselves -- to have great self esteem. But the truth is, most of us are pretty screwed up. We don't really manage our lives all that well. We struggle with bits of greed, and anger, and selfishness. We ditch our families when the going gets tough. We honk when someone cuts in front of us. We use words that would make our mothers blush.

Isn't it a breath of fresh air to say, "Yeah, I'm not so perfect, either." And isn't it a comfort to know that whoever Jesus is, he's looking for you -- imperfect as you are?

What did you see in the first six chapters of Lukes letter?


Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Very Beginning

I'm new at this whole thing. But as i've looked around on the web, I've discovered a lot of talk "about" the Bible -- but mostly by folks who don't actually READ it. They have lots of opinions, comments, philosophies, but no actual knowledge of what is written on the pages there. So, let's go for it. I'm using a New LIving Translation (I change every few years to keep things fresh). Tell me about your favorite translation. Go ahead, begin in the book of Luke. Tell me what you see. I'll be doing about three chapters per day, and commenting a couple of times a week. Care to join me? Blessings, Bette