Just Like You and Me

As Christians, we believe in the Trinity — a triune God — The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.  I may have written about this in previous posts.  We see the trinity in the very first 3 verses of the Bible:

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth— Now the earth was formless and empty, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light!” And there was light.

The Lexham English Bible (Ge 1:1–3). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Verse 1 — “In the beginning, God…” God the Father

Verse 2 — “And the Spirit of God…”  God the Holy Spirit

Verse 3 — “And God Said,…”  God the Son (Word)

Perhaps one of the most difficult concepts to grasp for many Christians is that of the Trinity — that the Trinity is present in eternity, that the three persons of the trinity are each part of a single, sovereign God.   But this blog is not meant to focus on the theology or nature of the Trinity, but the humanity of the person of Jesus Christ.

The other day, while studying for a short meditation for a Christian event at which I was honored to speak, I came across an interview with Dr. Gerry Breshears on the Faithlife Today website where Dr Breshears talks about how the Holy Spirit is displayed in the life of Christ.

I know I have written about the fullness of Christ’s humanity in at least one other post, but this interview with Dr. Bershears really hit me head on with a couple ideas.  The first one is that when Christ stepped out of eternity to become human, He gave up his deity characteristics (e.g., omniscience, omnipresence, etc.).  In order to be fully human, He had to live life as a human with all of the limitations bound to human nature — just like you and me.  If He was to be an example of how to live life, and live it perfectly, He had to have the same limitations you and I have.

And that brings up the second point that Dr. Bershears discusses.  While He gave up His deity characteristics, He did not live life apart from God, He allowed the Holy Spirit to lead every step of His life.  He may have stepped out of eternity and into humanity, but He didn’t leave behind His relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  It is clear from the gospels that Jesus’ relationship with the other two persons of the Trinity was critical to His sinless, perfect life.  That relationship empowered the human person of Jesus Christ to walk without sin, to resist temptation, and to endure scourging and the cross for each one of us, and rise for our justification and new life.

If you are like me, you’ve said something like “Well, of course Jesus could live a perfect life, He is the Son of God… He is God.”  The fact is, while those statements are true, He was also fully human.  Otherwise, what kind of example would that be to teach us and show us how to live?  If He had resources available to Him that are not also available to us, what good would that be?  The fact is, we have the same resources available to us today, that Jesus had available to Him.  He made a specific point to tell us that He was going away, but that He would send the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth.  He also said that if He returned to the Father, we would do greater things than He did.

Those are very powerful words… “greater things”, but only by the power of the Holy Spirit.  We do have the same resources available to us.  God calls us to be in relationship with Him.  He calls us to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow His lead.  The excuse of “He is the Son of God…” is not a valid excuse.  We are children of God.  In fact, we have an additional resource in Jesus our High Priest:

14 Therefore, because we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is not able to sympathize with our weaknesses, but who has been tempted in all things in the same way, without sin. 16 Therefore let us approach with confidence to the throne of grace, in order that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The Lexham English Bible (Heb 4:14–16). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

As children of God with a High Priest who has lived our human experience interceding on our behalf, we can no longer play the “but He is God” card.  We are His children, called to live a life in relationship with the Trinity, listening for His lead, and trusting His plan.  His plan from creation was to have us walk in relationship with Him.

I want that kind of life!  How about you?

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Memorial Day Thoughts

I love that we (USA) have this holiday!  A day set aside to remember, memorialize, the service and sacrifice of people who have given everything to protect our freedom.  This is a day of honor, respect, and remembrance.  For many Americans, Memorial Day has become just another day to get together with friends and family to have cook-outs, go out on the boat, party, etc…  Don’t get me wrong, I think getting together and celebrating our defenders is absolutely the right thing to do.  I just want to encourage you to take a moment and remember the reason for the day off, the reason for the gathering.  Take a moment to acknowledge, corporately (together), those who have given their life defending our country so you can have a Monday off in May to gather, eat, and celebrate!


You also might want to consider celebrating another “memorial” as part of your gathering.  There is One who gave His life so you could have the ultimate freedom — eternal life with the Father.  The early church practiced communion every time they met, not just on special occasions or once a quarter.  They participated in the Lord’s Supper every time they met to remember — remember the sacrifice that Jesus paid and the new covenant that He established between God and man through His sacrifice.

As part of your gathering, take a moment to remember the fallen, but also take a moment to remember the Risen.  You might even want to celebrate the Lord’s Supper as part of your gathering.  It doesn’t require a priest to administer (there certainly weren’t enough ordained priests to go around in the early church for every gathering).  Just celebrate the Lord’s Supper with reverence, respect, and remembering the Lord and His sacrifice.  In the celebration, you proclaim His death until He comes again.  If you need some context, read the details in these scriptures:

Matthew 26:26-30
Mark 14:22-26
Luke 22:14-21
1 Corinthians 11

The last reference includes specific instruction by Paul on how you should “come to the table” so I encourage you to read the whole chapter.  The “words of institution” can be found in verses 23-26.


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Take It In Thirds

Did you ever have one of those days where you just want to say, “I give up!   I surrender!”  Silly question.   Of course you have.  We all have.  I’m not talking about the good “surrender.”  Sometime we just feel like the whole world is against us and there is nothing we can do about it.   And sometime, we even think… “Even God isn’t listening or watching.  If He were, this wouldn’t be going on.”  Then we start to think we shouldn’t be thinking like that and we start to feel a bit of guilt creep (yeah that’s a good word for the way guilt moves) in because we think God isn’t paying attention.  We feel guilt because we know:  Of course He is paying attention and knows our woes.  Then that guilt just piles on top of the bad day we are having.

We aren’t alone.  David had plenty of days like that and he wasn’t afraid to express himself and his frustrations.  Look at Psalm 13 (shameless plug for my daughter — yes Hannah, Psalm 13):

13 For the music director. A psalm of David.
1 How long, O Yahweh? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul,
and sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Yahweh my God.
Give light to my eyes
lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 and lest my enemy should say, “I have overcome him,”
lest my enemies rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But as for me, I have trusted in your steadfast love.
My heart will rejoice in your deliverance.
6 I will sing to Yahweh
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

The Lexham English Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

I love that first line:  How Long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  Not one question, but two.  Sometimes I’ve read that Psalm and forget that there are two question marks there and read it as one question “How long, O Lord, will you forget me forever?”  But that misses the point.  David is frustrated!  How much longer do I have to suffer with this condition?  Really God, are you going to let this last an eternity?!!!!

Then verse two comes along and I think David must have had a mother from New York city — with all respect, I can just hear his Jewish mother coming through, trying to lay that guilt trip — How long do I have to do this alone.   I’ll just carry this sorrow in my heart all day, don’t worry about me…”

Then David goes back to moaning… I am beaten down by my enemies!  It seems like they are always winning, always on top while I am down here in the pits!  How long is this going to go on?

Then a glimmer of hope.  A plea.  “Give light to my eyes!”  Or, in our terms, don’t let them (my enemies) see my discouragement.  I don’t want them to think I’m defeated.

Then finally, a turn in perspective!  Wait, God, you do know my plight.  I trust You.  You will get me through this.  I trust in Your love for me.  I will leap for joy.  I will sing a new song for You!

Indeed, we are in good company when we have a bad day, or bad days, or many bad days.  Don’t be afraid to express yourself to your Father.  He can take it.  When you do express yourself, I like the proportions of this Psalms.  Here’s the recipe:

  • 1/3 Moaning
  • 1/3 Pleading
  • 1/3 Declaring faith and victory

It’s OK to moan and plead, get it out of your system.  Before you can get to declaring faith and victory, you have to get before a Father who is willing to listen.  He wants to hear you moan and plead!  That just means you have to get closer to Him so He can give you faith and victory!

Take it in thirds!

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Who Can Describe You, God?

Who can describe you, God? Like the Psalmist, this morning I awoke pondering that question.  All the familiar scriptures and modern worship songs came rushing into my mind:  “I will not show you My face, for man cannot see My face and live…”, “Your ways are higher… Your thoughts are higher…”, “Who is like you, the lion and the lamb…”,  “on the throne was a likeness with a human appearance… upwards from what had the appearance of His waist  I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around.  And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain…”, “…the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald…”, “the trains of His robe, filled the temple…”, “…hairs of His head were white… eyes like flame… feet like bronze… legs like pillars of fire.. voice like many waters… and His face was like the sun shining in full strength.”

Then I thought, but those are just physical descriptions, what about His character?  Again an overwhelming flood of characteristics and attributes from scripture:

Of His Greatness:

  • Almighty
  • Most High
  • Eternal
  • Ancient of Days
  • Mighty One
  • Living God
  • Holy One of Israel
  • The Lord God
  • The Lord Most High
  • Sovereign Lord


  • My Lamp
  • Light of my salvation
  • Sun and a Shield
  • The light of Israel, His holy one, a flame
  • Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light
  • Father of lights

Strength and Security:

  • My God, a fortress
  • My strength, and a song
  • My strength and shield
  • My Rock, in whom I take refuge
  • A strong tower
  • A stronghold in times of trouble
  • My refuge and portion
  • The Lord is good, a stronghold in days of trouble
  • Executes justice for the widow and fatherless
  • Father to the fatherless


  • “The Lord will provide” (Abraham & Isaac)
  • The Lord is my portion says my soul
  • God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever
  • My portion in the land of the living
  • The portion of Jacob Who formed all things


  • Hope of Israel, its savior in times of trouble
  • Hope of fathers


  • God of peace be with you
  • Gideon built an altar and called it the Lord is Peace
  • The God of love and peace be with you
  • May the God of peace himself sanctify you
  • May the God of peace himself give you peace at all times


  • A God merciful and gracious, slow to anger
  • You are a gracious and merciful God
  • But You, O God, are a God merciful and gracious
  • Slow to anger and full of steadfast love
  • The God of all grace, who has called you to eternal glory
  • Will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you

I could go on and on without scratching the surface.  “Scratching the surface” brings up the vision that I was given in my waking hour this morning while I was pondering “Who can describe you?”  I saw a beautiful diamond, with a cut so complex that each time I looked at it, I saw a different beauty, a different dance of light, a different brilliance, different colors reflected, different facets.  Was the diamond changing?  No.  But, my perspective was.  Trying to describe the characteristics, attributes and beauty of that diamond completely would be impossible because each time I changed my perspective, its brilliance and beauty would change as its facets interacted with each other and the light it reflected.

God’s character and attributes are similar.  But even that description falls terribly short.  He doesn’t reflect the light.  He is the source of the light.   And that single point, is the message He gave me this morning to share.  That vision wasn’t given to try to enhance the description of Who God is — the Bible with its 66 books, 40 authors, and 1500 year composition period just began to scratch the surface.  The vision of a beautiful diamond with a complex cut, wasn’t a vision of God’s characteristics, but each of ours.

He creates each of us to be uniquely beautiful so we can reflect His light with beauty and brilliance.  Yes, we all pick up some carbon and coal along the way that He needs to chisel and cut away, but that process only serves to create a new facet for reflecting Him.  He is a master jeweler and prepared to make the necessary cuts, but He doesn’t bring His jeweler’s saw to bare until we remain still and say, “cut away.”  That isn’t always easy.  In fact, I am certain each of us can say that it is rarely easy.  But, if we meditate (ponder) on His characteristics, on descriptions of Who He is, begin to get a small picture of Who He is, then begin to experience those characteristics first hand, we can learn to trust His design and purpose for our life.  We can begin to be still, know that He is God and allow Him to “cut away.”

As infinite and complex as His characteristics are, He wants each of us to be a unique reflection of His image and shine His reflection with the unique facets He creates.  As He cuts our facets, others will be uniquely receptive to the beauty you reflect from His light.

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Dirt On, Dirt Off

Another early morning wake up call.  Today, I awoke and had this weekend running through my mind.  I have two different places to be on Saturday and the thoughts of how I would balance them was weighing on me a little bit.  Thank the Lord, He stepped in to sit with me a while to let me know He’s got everything under control.

One of the meetings I have this Saturday is to prepare for an adult weekend retreat and at the same time, I have the first core team meeting for a youg adult weekend retreat.  God reminded me that the theme for the upcoming adult weekend has to do with surrender.  Then He gave me two references to His surrender.  “WHAT?!”, you may say.  God surrender?  Let me explain.

Our modern day concept of surrender is giving up or giving in to opposing forces.  In fact, if you google the definition of the word “surrender” (because who uses paper dictionaries anymore?), you will find this definition at http://www.merriam-webster.com:

: to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc., because you know that you will not win or succeed
: to give the control or use of (something) to someone else
: to allow something (such as a habit or desire) to influence or control you

I don’t argue with these definitions, after all, they do come from the internet (joking) and Merriam-Webster at that, but they each connotate a sense of defeat.  OK, maybe not the second definition so much, but there is no “victory” in these definitions.  You are probably scratching your head at this point wondering “Victory? Surrender?  Where is this going?”

God’s first surrender for humankind:  When God spoke, “Let there be light,”  He knew.  When God knelt down and got His hands dirty, He knew.  When God leaned down to that lump of dirt and expelled His life-giving breath into Adam, He knew.  When God invested time alone with Adam in the garden naming all the animals, He knew.  When God took a rib from Adam and formed Eve, He knew.

He knew that all of His creation would be affected, even contaminated by a fallen angel’s tempting and man’s disobedience.  He knew the perfect state He intended His creation to exist in would be soiled by giving free-will (control) to human-kind.  Dirt on!

But, He did it anyway.  Surrender.

Thank Him!  The story does not end with two angels standing with flaming swords guarding the gates to Eden.

The next reference God gave me this morning was a surrender victory in an upper room before Jesus went to enter the garden of restoration (Gethsemane).

In that upper room, as the passover dinner was taking place, Jesus knelt down to wash His disciples feet.  John 13: 3-5 reads:

3 because he knew that the Father had given him all things into his hands, and that he had come forth from God and was going away to God, 4 he got up from the dinner and took off his outer clothing, and taking a towel, tied it around himself. 5 Then he poured water into the washbasin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, and to wipe them dry with the towel which he had tied around himself.

Harris, W. H., III, Ritzema, E., Brannan, R., Mangum, D., Dunham, J., Reimer, J. A., & Wierenga, M. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English Bible (Jn 13:3–5). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

It is clear from Peter’s reaction to this act of servanthood (surrender), that he could not imagine his Lord on this level.  In fact, Peter proclaims that he would never, for all eternity, allow Jesus to wash his feet ( John 13:8) “You will never wash my feet forever!”

Peter’s reaction is understandable.  In our day, where it is a sacred moment for spiritual retreats and passover services in some churches, or dismissed altogether by others, foot washing was a common practice in Jesus’ time.  However, it didn’t hold sacred meaning.  Instead, it was a practical service to those who entered your house.  It cleaned the dirt that gathered on your feet as you walked the world’s streets and fields in open sandals.  The washer was not a prominent member of your household.  It wasn’t even a prominent servant who performed the foot washing.   Washing guest’s feet was reserved for the lowest servant in the household.  Peter’s reaction, in his time, was understandable.  Jesus’ action, on the other hand, was not.

Jesus responded by telling Peter (John 13:8) “Unless I wash you, you do not have a share with me.”

I want you to pause here.  Meditate on that for a few minutes…

Welcome back!

With Jesus’ surrender to accept the will of God requiring His sacrifice, He brought victory.  The surrender to take the lowest servant’s place and wash His disciples feet demonstrated a power that did not need pomp and circumstance.  He did not need to be vindicated with a display of “See how great I am.”  Rather, in this act of surrender, He was saying “See how low I am willing to reach to redeem you, cleanse you, and give you victory!”

Dirt off!


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Take Up Your Mat!

This morning I was all set to write a post about the contrasts between Psalms 10 and 11, but that is going to have to wait.  I am compelled to share a short post on a great experience Mindy and Brenna and I shared this weekend at the chapel in Tarpon Spring, FL.

During this time of preparation to plant a new church, I am afforded the opportunity to visit area churches and get fed.  This past Sunday we had a little feast on the story of the paralytic and the faith of his friends.  A great message by @MarkQuattrochi that you can listen to here (if the link changes, its the 2nd message in the “Fuzzy” series).

I won’t rehash what Pastor Q gave us in his message.  I encourage you to listen to the Spirit speaking through him.

As I was sitting listening to this message on a passage I’ve read hundreds of time, the Holy Spirit started imparting a new (at least for me) insight into this scripture.  The whole story takes place in Mark 2:1-12, but I am only including the verses here that are relevant to this post.  As always, I encourage you to read on you own and let the Holy Spirit give you fresh insights too!

Mark 2:10-12:
10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,”—he said to the paralytic—11 “I say to you, get up, pick up your stretcher, and go to your home.” 12 And he got up and immediately picked up his stretcher and went out in front of them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Harris, W. H., III, Ritzema, E., Brannan, R., Mangum, D., Dunham, J., Reimer, J. A., & Wierenga, M. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English Bible (Mk 2:10–12). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

I said this would be a short post, so I will get straight to the point.

The insight I was given was this:

Jesus told the man to pick up his mat (stretcher, bed, palette…) and go home.  Here was a man that for, at least, a portion of his life had been paralyzed and had no means of mobility on his own.  He didn’t have an electric wheelchair or  scooter that he could control with his mouth.  He had a stretcher that he had no control over.  He was completely reliant on other people, friends, to give him mobility.  He was completely dependent on that stretcher.  In many ways, that stretcher was in control.

Enter four friends digging their way through a roof to get to a Man who could heal their friend (again, go listen to Pastor Q’s message).  When he was lowered down he was told his sins are forgiven (again, Pastor Q).  But then, this Man who tells him his sins are forgiven pauses and starts talking to those in the crown.  When He  is finished talking to them, He turns back to the paralytic and tells him to pick up his stretcher and go home.   The Word says that “immediately” he picked up the stretcher and walked out in front of everyone.

That thing that had control over his life, that determined where he went and what he did, was no longer in control.  He was!  He picked up and carried that thing that had control over his life.  He carried it out in front of everyone.  He now had control over the thing that for so long controlled him – credit where credit is due – by Jesus’ healing power through His response to the faith or four friends.

Your sins are forgiven!  Take up your stretcher and show everyone what Jesus can do for them too!

What has control in your life today from which you need immediate  relief?  Jesus has the power to tell you “control it!”  And, if you don’t have the faith, find a couple friends who will have the faith for you.  Jesus will honor whatever faith you and/or your fiends have!

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Look What God Does In Our Praise!

It’s been one of those nights.  I awoke a little after 3:00 a.m. and was filled with thoughts of grace running through my head.  (I am preparing for a sermon, or talk, for Tres Dias and did a word study on grace — so I am full of thoughts on grace.)  What do I do when I can’t sleep and these thoughts run through my mind without end?  I think, “It must be time to get up and work on that talk.  As I sat down to get started, that still, small voice whispered to go back to Psalms before you get started.  Uh, Ok.

I was directed to Psalm 9, specifically, the first 3 verses.  I’ll present them here for your reference, but as always, I encourage you to read on your own as well.   All of Psalm 9 is good stuff!

1 I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
When my enemies turn back,
they stumble and perish before your presence.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ps 9:1–3). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

As I read this passage, I had this visual image in my head of a warrior running into battle against an overwhelming foe.  The sight of the warrior was not set on the foe in front of him, but on a good God.  The sight of the warrior was not on something he could not overcome, but on a loving, heavenly Father that would overcome for him.  Setting his sights on Him, the warrior charges against the foe!  He doesn’t need to charge far or long.

The next thing that happens is unexplainable.  The foe that seemed so overwhelming a moment ago, sees something different about the warrior.  They see an even more overwhelming light and are no longer a united army, but individuals divided by distraction.  In response to this distraction of overwhelming light, the enemy army turns to run.  (The Message actually uses the words “turned tail and ran”.)   When they turned to run from the warrior, they were confronted with something even more overwhelming.  They no longer saw the light that reflected off the warrior’s armor, but the actual source of the light that the warrior saw all along.  Blinded, they stumble and lash out in every direction, eyes closed.  In that blind lashing, they destroy each other.

In the end, all the warrior had to do was thank and praise a good, good Father and know the source of his strength.

That vision happened in a matter of seconds in my head.   I was immediately drawn to a scripture that gives this vision/image a backing in history.  In 2 Chronicles, chapter 20, King Jehoshaphat (I love that name, it’s fun to say out loud!) is informed that there is a multi-nation army gathering against Judah and they weren’t far away!  Jehoshaphat’s immediate reaction was to be afraid.  However, he didn’t turn and run, he declared a nationwide fast to seek help from the Lord.  He gathered the people together and prayed, declaring the greatness of God, remembering and listing God’s past victories for Judah.  And finally asking for help against the gathering armies.  (Stop! Go back and read those three verses again and notice the parallels in Jehoshaphat’s reaction and the psalmist’s words.)

While Jehoshaphat was praying, the Holy Spirit began to speak through someone in the crowd (Jahaziel) telling everyone not to be afraid, the battle is not yours, but God’s.  Then, they fell to the ground and worshipped as a nation.

The next morning, Jehoshaphat, with renewed strength, stood and encouraged the nation “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established…”  So he has gathered the nation together and his only battle cry was “gather the singers together, get dressed in garments of praise and sing”:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his steadfast love endures forever.”

As they began to sing and praise, the Bible says the Lord set an ambush against the armies, and they destroyed each other.  Bam! Battle won! And all Judah had to do was sing and praise a good, good Father!

Final thought:  What overwhelming armies gather in our lives today?  What is so threatening in our life that our initial reaction is fear?  Our good God is more than powerful enough to overcome them.  We can’t be the ones to turn and run.  We need to stand, dressed in our armour (check out Ephesians 6), and first know Whose battle it is, then sing, praise, and worship the One who will be victorious over the overwhelming enemies in our lives!  Our triune God is more overwhelming than anything enemies can bring to the battle!!!  Bam!  Battle won!

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