NOTE: This article is a follow up to the article Deacons? What were the apostles thinking?
The Strange Fishing Dream occurred 10-15 years ago and with the help of friends, the understanding seemed clear. Not long after, I had another fishing dream, forgotten until the Lord brought it to mind today and helped me to see the meaning.
From the window of a vacant industrial building on a pier over the Puget Sound, I was fishing and hooked a big fish, the size of a cow. Somehow I managed to reel it in on a pole much too small for the job, lifted it out of the water, pulled it through the window and placed it on what looked like a boat cradle. I don’t remember that the fish weighed anything.
It was a funny looking fish, with a rounded boxy shape and unlike anything I’d ever seen come out of the Puget Sound. It was bloated looking, smooth skinned and had a pleasant but dumb looking expression on its face. Continue reading
And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:23-25 ESV)
Jesus often described the Father’s work in creation through the metaphor of planting seed, growing grain and fruit, and harvest. In John 12:24, Jesus uses the seed metaphor to describe His own death and resurrection and in it, reveals a process repeated throughout all of creation.
The seed is initially a living thing, something pure, undefiled and made in the image of the plant it came from, though obviously not yet revealed while still in seed form. The seed separates from its host and falls to the earth and dies, Continue reading
While waiting for my wife, I watched a man hobble out of the post office to his car, laboring over each step while leaning on a cane for support. With so many elderly in this community, it is fairly common to see people who are struggling with failing health. My heart goes out to them and often I find myself quietly praying for their healing and comfort.
As I prayed for the man at the post office, the Holy Spirit impressed me that I was relying on human sight to pray for people suffering from obvious physical conditions. With that in mind, the Holy Spirit prompted me to consider how my praying might change if I could see a person’s spiritual needs and respond with prayer for them.
Washing the disciples feet has often left me wondering whether Jesus intended a greater lesson for us than to simply marvel at His servant-hood as is common in the annual celebration of the last supper. In fact, when Jesus had finished washing their feet, He asked:
Do you understand what I have done to you? (John 13:11)
In trying to grasp the significance of what He did, it is well to remember that Jesus remained with the disciples for 40 days following His resurrection. Surely Jesus could have found the time to wash their feet then, rather than on the night of His betrayal. Mere hours before His arrest, trial, flogging and crucifixion, Jesus must have been in emotional agony. Yet, Jesus concern was for the disciples who would be wounded by His death and scattered by the persecution that followed. Jesus knew they would be overcome with guilt and shame for denying Him and therefore potentially reluctant to return to Him. By washing their feet before they deserted Him, Jesus laid the groundwork of grace and prepared the way for the disciples to be reconciled to Himself. In so doing, Jesus reassured them of His love and the forgiveness that awaited them when eventually they did sin against Him. Continue reading
My mother went to be with Jesus on May 22, 2003. Following her stroke the fall of 1999, dad devoted his life to mom’s full time care. As happens far too often, most of their friends left them. Since her care routine did not permit for morning outings, they could not attend church services and were quickly forgotten. Rather than accept isolation, dad began taking mom out to an early supper several times a week, which was no small effort on his part. Dad washed, clothed and fed mom and lifted her several dozen times each day and night, from bedroom to bathroom, wheelchair to recliner, in and out of the car.
Restaurants provided mom with loving human contact, which was a healing balm for her spirit and helped to prolong her life. No matter how many times the wait staff came to the table, she greeted them with a cheerful “oh, Hi!” and one-armed hug. They remained with mom as long as it took her to order, which was in itself an act of love and grace since the stroke left mom unable to speak except for a few nonsensical words. The kitchen staff even helped to take care of mom, by cutting up her meat, customizing meals and coming out to greet her, where many more hugs were given and received.
Among the many cards and letters my dad received following mom’s death, were several from the restaurants they enjoyed. All were deeply touching and conveyed love and admiration, but one in particular set me to pondering with the observation: Continue reading
Many years ago during a small gathering where Karen and I had been asked to lead singing for a group of about 20 people, the Holy Spirit began to move through Karen and another woman in a beautiful spontaneous spiritual song (Ephesians 5:19). While they were yet singing, a man stood up and began to shout out a prayer of thanks for a Christian politician who recently had been elected. Oblivious to the Spirit’s moving, the man continued to pray over the top of the singers who began to heave as the Spirit song being birthed through them, was quenched. What beautiful message might the Holy Spirit have had for our gathering, had the man not run off the Holy Spirit by his selfish and long-winded prayer?
Many are the times we have experienced such an interruption of the Holy Spirit when believers gather together and the Holy Spirit is grieved (Ephesians 4:30) and quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19) by someone with an agenda. In fact, I can’t say for certain that I have ever been part of a larger assembly where that did NOT happen. Neither can I say for certain that I haven’t been the one who derailed the flow of the Holy Spirit with my agenda.
So why is it so difficult to flow freely with the Holy Spirit during a gathering of believers? Continue reading
One day Jacob was cooking a stew. Esau came in from the field and said to Jacob, “Give me some of that red stew–I’m starved!” Jacob said, “Make me a trade: my stew for your rights as the firstborn.” On oath Esau traded away his rights. Jacob gave him bread and the stew of lentils. Esau ate and drank, got up and left. (Genesis 25:29-34, The Message Bible)
We have a wonderful birthright from God in Christ. We are God’s children and heirs, temples in which His Spirit dwells, priests and kings who reign with Christ. Sadly, we are more like Esau than many of us care to admit because we have traded our birthright for even less than a bowl of stew.
Evidence that we have traded away our birthright can be heard in what we say. For example, how often do Christians refer to church buildings as the “house of God” even though the Bible teaches us that we are His temples and “God does not live in houses made by men” (Acts 7:48 and Acts 17:24)? Continue reading