Saturday, May 30, 2009


Jesus created quite a controversy when he opened a blind man’s eyes on the one day of the week when work (even “good” work) was forbidden. Jesus repeatedly broke the rules: he worked up some mud, worked to plaster it on the blind man’s eyelids, and then instigated the blind man to work washing the mud off. Oh, and one minor detail: after all that work, THE MAN COULD SEE!

The man who was healed took a lot of heat from “church establishment” for what Jesus did in his life. The Pharisees objected because of the broken rules. Instead of celebrating the miracle of the man’s newfound sight – hallelujah! – their reaction was to throw the guy out of the synagogue in disgrace. Afterward, Jesus found him and explained:

“For judgment I came into this world,
that those who do not see may see,
and those who see
may become blind.”
John 9:39

Yikes! Lord, please let me be one who sees! I don’t want to insist that I see and then find I’m the one who is truly blind in every sense that matters. Please help me to resist the temptation of thinking I have all the answers. Help me to humble myself before you today, that I may receive your healing touch and the sight you bestow when I’m wise enough to admit I am blind and helpless before you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Offerings to Nehushtan

God commanded the making of the bronze serpent which Hezekiah later, quite rightly, destroyed. At the time of its making, Nehushtan effectively brought God's people back to him, yet later generations came to revere the monument instead of honoring God:

And [Hezekiah] broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it(it was called Nehushtan). He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel . . . from 2 Kings 18:4-5
Do we make mountains of a molehills when when we cling to tradition? Do we create monuments which have nothing to do with serving the living God? What are we really after when we go to church?

We hear Jesus say, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” (John 6:26) Jesus proclaimed himself the bread of life and yet:

. . . the Jews grumbled about Jesus, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” - from John 6:41-42

Let's avoid placing more importance in the trappings of "proper" worship then on the One we worship. Let's not run the risk of grumbling that "it's only Jesus," when . . . well, it REALLY IS only Jesus! He is it: the only glue that can bind us together, the only source of true change, the only One who can heal our brokenness, the only giver of the bread of life.

I pray the Lord will give you power today to look past the Nehushtan to see and honor Him. I pray you and I will look beyond our needs, and honor the Jesus -- whether our tummies are filled or not. Let us break in pieces anything of beauty and honor that sets itself up between us and true reverence to Jesus Christ.

Friday, May 8, 2009


As children we are taught that obedience is a good thing, and for little ones that is almost always the case. Obedience to "authority" can be a cop-out, however, if it is in contradiction to God's specific instructions. I Kings 13:1-24 tells the sad account of a prophet and his reward. A young man was sent by God to deliver a specific message to the king of Israel, but his job did not end there. God warned him to go away hungry, along an unfamiliar path . . . and he did everything God instructed him to do, almost!

This young prophet had no trouble following his instructions until he was challenged by a peer, a man of God like himself (re-read verses 11-18). That's when he lost his way! The man who challenged the young prophet's direction was an older (and surely wiser) prophet, who spoke with the voice of experience. The young man must have felt it was safe to defer to him, but he paid dearly for substituting obedience to "authority" for true obedience to God. It was a cop-out, and a fatal misstep.

It is hard to imagine why this happened, or what could have motivated the older prophet to lead the younger man astray, but Wednesday's reading is speaking to my heart today: there is no substitute for direct obedience to God's word! No matter how convenient it may seem for me to "fall in line" and unquestioningly follow God's order of authority, whether in the church or in my home, I am first and always accountable to honor the principles laid out in the Bible. I must measure all human authority against the specific instructions and guiding principles of God's word.

This is my prayer for you:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left,
your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,
"This is the way; walk in it." - Isaiah 30:21

Monday, May 4, 2009


We Christians are involved in public relations, whether we know it or not. Last Saturday's reading shows the difference between good and bad PR for God's kingdom. We see that Hiram, the king of Sidon, though he was not "a believer," still he blessed God because of the conduct and bearing of his neighbor, King Solomon of Israel:

As soon as Hiram heard the words
of Solomon, he rejoiced greatly and said,
“Blessed be the Lord this day, who has given to David
a wise son to be over this great people.”
- 1 Kings 5:7

King Solomon's conduct in business and acumen toward his peer showed not only that he was a formidable force in his world, but that he honored God in word and in deed. How do we inspire the non-believers around us? Do we cause them to bless the Lord by our conduct in our day-to-day affairs?

What a contrast we see in the New Testament reading! What must Gov. Pilate have thought of the people of God as they stirred up an ugly commotion over an innocent man?

. . . they began to accuse him, saying,
“We found this man misleading our nation
and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying
that he himself is Christ, a king.” 3 And Pilate asked him,
“Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him,
“You have said so.” 4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests
and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.”
- from Luke 23: 3-4

How did these false accusations make the Jews look to their neighbors in the community? We modern followers of Christ need to be aware that the testimony of God's people hinges on the attitudes and actions of individual Christians in the community at large. Do we inspire people to bless the Lord, or do they shake their heads and wonder how we could be so unreasonable, unprofessional, or downright ugly?

I pray that today (and always) the Lord will make us conscious of our influence for his kingdom -- whether for bad or for good. I pray we'll be blessed with the vision and the power to influence our neighbors for GOOD in our day-to-day public relations. May we honor Jesus in all we say and do today. AMEN.