Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Wow, in the aftermath of a miracle, people begged Jesus to GO AWAY! His presence cost 'em too much. It's incredible that the community described here would prefer to write off a human being rather than break their "piggy bank." Sad but true:

. . . they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. - from Mark 5:15-17

I'm sure glad Jesus counts me as hands-down more valuable than a pile of pigs. Yes, I realize there was a sizable investment lost on that cliff, money down the drain, but in the exchange a person was rescued from a fate worse than death. What does it cost us Christians, our churches, the community, to see Jesus at work? Are we willing to tolerate His presence, even if we have to break the bank to see things happen?

Monday, February 22, 2010


A question came up at Bible study last night about why Jesus was so annoyed with a fig tree that he cursed it (Mark 11:13-23). Doesn't this strike you as rather extreme? It appears the Lord lost his cool, but obviously (considering the source) it was the right thing to do! A parable from yesterday's Bible reading sheds light on the question:

The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown. - Mark 4:14-20
Our goal as Christians is to be fruitful; what's more, fruitfulness is a perfectly (indeed the ONLY) reasonable expecation. The idea that a good seed could be planted in fertile soil, that the resulting plant could be properly tended by an expert gardner, allowed to develop a deep root system, with few weeds to compete for sun and nutrients -- for that particular plant not to bear fruit is unthinkable!

You and I are like well-tended plants, in a position to be fruitful and productive in garden tended by God's own hand. We do NOT want to be like the fig tree mentioned in Mark 11, which looked from a distance like a fruitful specimen (turns out the leaves and the fruit come out simultaneously on a fig tree, so the presence of leaves should have indicated fruit, as well). Back to the question of Jesus' annoyance with that tree, yes, it was justified. Each cluster of lush leaves should have contained a delectable fig.

Lord forbid that we should be found worthless and barren of fruit in our privileged lives where we're tended by excellent teaching, and our root networks have access to all kinds of resources to utilize and share. I pray the Lord will give us vision, motivaiton, and power to do all that comes naturally to fruitful plants without agonizing or overthinking our productivity in the "food chain." God bless you per Isaiah 55:10-11 -- with sun and rain (or snow) today, and with fruit in abundance, just as God promises. God bless you in the reading of his Word!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

SNAPSHOTS - Before and After

It's easy to skim over the details of proper sanctuary worship until I get to today's reading. When Abihu and Nadab disregarded the details, and offered incense to God in their own way, it cost them their lives! This is a case in point for reading the whole Bible to get a clear picture of our faith. Jesus changed everything for you and me, but can we possibly appreciate the difference without taking a good look at the time before?

I worship in spirit and in truth, just like Jesus described in John 4:23-24. You can worship in the way you choose, and your way is probably different from mine. Our freedom to worship is the "after" picture, and it's worth even more in comparison to the snapshot from Leviticus 10:1-2, of a time when the details were a matter of life and death. I'm thankful for the balance of perspective, which helps me appreciate the freedom Jesus proclaimed!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


As a graphic designer, I can relate to the artisans commissioned to work on God's tabernacle. The very first verse of today's reading describes the principle artist: "I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs . . ." WOW, what a guy!

The detailed descriptions of weavings, mouldings, ornaments, overlays, etc., are extremely interesting to me from a professional perspective. Woo-hoo, God cares about design! God cared so much about aesthetics that he stepped in and laid out the plans for his tabernacle, its furnishings, the priests' garments, everything -- right down to the mixture of incense to burn!

My profession fits under the larger umbrella of advertising, whose mission in this modern age is "to inform and persuade." I apply my training and expertise to the sharing of the gospel, and though you may not consider yourself particularly "artsy," you do too! Whether you know it or not, you employ the very same principle every day in the way you live your life.

You put up posters and pass out pamphlets all over the place. As a matter of fact, you’re a walking media campaign. YOU & I are the temple (see 1 Corinthians 3:16), designed to draw people to God through elegance and exquisite craftsmanship. I do not doubt that a seeker is watching you today as if you were a movie trailer, deciding whether to buy a ticket or walk away.

What does the watcher see? One who notices your kindness to the undeserving, your joy in the face of distress, your love of the unlovely, your patience when interrupted, your unyielding honesty when it would be easy to cheat, or your persistence in prayer, is responding to the message of your life. As Christians, we ALL live under the advertising mantra, to "inform and persuade."

To put it another way, we're SMELLY! See this awesome passage in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16: ". . . God . . . through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing." To some people I stink, but to others -- mysteriously -- I smell pretty good! That is God at work calling people to himself, as the odor of my life informs (and hopefully persuades).

My prayer for you is that the Lord will protect and strengthen the testimony of your life that is shown to strangers and kinfolk alike in little snippets all through the day. May he bless your involvements and interactions, both professionally and personally, to fulfill the overarching pursuit of your life's work. Today's message for me is "Hurrah for art!" For you it's, "Hurrah for all you do!" God bless it.