The Wondrous One
Some things even GOD can’t explain in terms human minds can understand which is why He says we can’t even see Him as He is while we’re in flesh. That is how it is with the idea of the Trinity: GOD being Three distinct Persons Who are One.
But that is how GOD revealed Himself at the baptism of JESUS. John the Baptist was washing those who wanted to be cleansed from sin waiting for the Leader who would clean them Spiritually by doing it symbolically until He came. JESUS comes, too, and is baptized Himself only to show that their desire to be cleansed and John’s ministry encouraging them to be cleansed by Christ is good.
JESUS allows Himself to be lowered into the water symbolizing His death and rises out as a demonstration of what He will physically do from the grave. He symbolizes how Believers in Him will bury their old life and rise up to new Life in Him. It will be a Spiritual new life when they give themselves to Him, symbolized in Baptism. And it will be physical new Life at the resurrection of their bodies to be with Him when He returns. But those watching don’t realize all of that yet.
GOD the Father spoke acknowledging the Sonship of the physical JESUS Who had always been GOD the Son. GOD the Holy Spirit descended upon the physical JESUS acknowledging unity with JESUS, GOD the Son, and GOD the Father, as they had always been united.
The Trinity is like an opal. It is all one. The blue is distinguishable from the green yet as much an opal as the green and the blue and green are distinct from the white yet as much opal as the white. They are distinct yet of one essence. Experiencing one you experience the full opalness of the others. But though each being of one Essence with the others each is recognizable from the others as well. The blue is always blue not white or green and the green and white are not blue. Still, If you have seen one you have seen the opal though there are still qualities our humanity does not let us see.
Though an imperfect picture, that is what was revealed at the Baptism of JESUS. Heaven opened to show GOD the Son was among humanity as a human, revealing as much of GOD the Father as humanity could handle through the power of GOD the Spirit Who would work in and through the Son, JESUS.
We each are called to appraise that jewel, as it were. Will we value it and let its beauty affect our lives? Will we give all we valued before for it? We must each decide whether to let the reflection of the Trinity shine in us, through a new life symbolized by Baptism.
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Matthew 3:13-17 ESV
Follow the Leader
Go to any group of children and they will know some form of Follow the Leader, a game where you try to imitate what another person does. Go into any home with children and you will see some tiny version for a child of what their mother or father uses. A tiny set of tools. Youth-sized utensils. All designed to show children how to be like Mom and Dad and practice for being grown up. GOD in His wisdom did the same for us in demonstrating the process of how to come to Him.
A man named John was out in the wild country where he could work freely without interruption from the authorities. And the authorities were glad to have him out of the way since he was something of a nut to them, dressing in and eating from the wild. But between GOD leading people to John the Baptist or word of mouth from those who came to him returning home and telling others, crowds came. Including religious authorities. They all heard John say a Leader was coming and they should be ready. He struggled with even telling the authorities because he didn’t know if they really wanted to change their ways to follow the Leader.
Then JESUS the Leader came to John the Baptist. And everything changed. Because JESUS the Perfect wanted John to perform the same ceremony John did for others to symbolize their desire to change from their ways to whatever was necessary to follow the Leader. How could the Leader say He wanted to repent/change? How could the Perfect say He wanted to improve? John asks JESUS these questions, perhaps because John was a little worried that for the first time things beyond what he knew about GOD were being revealed.
JESUS explains it is GOD showing His children how to use their tools. He is sitting down with His sons and showing with the toy tools they have how to build a relationship with Him. He is showing His daughters with their tiny sewing sets how to be dressed in righteousness. He is demonstrating the first step to GOD is to recognize we need to change.
JESUS the Perfect had no need to change Himself but did what He wants others to do to come to Him. Although the baptism John gave was for the intent to change, and Baptism today symbolizes a relationship with GOD has already started, JESUS still invites us to follow Him through the water to new life on the other side. He leads by example. Not only to show us the way but, until they understood He had authority over John, to give John and Himself credibility to those who followed John.
Baptism then and now doesn’t mean we are any better off Spiritually by the ceremony. But we follow our Leader, JESUS, though He already knew the Way. That first step to GOD is to know we can’t make it through Life our way but need to die to ourselves, be washed in Baptism as a public sign of our desire, and follow JESUS our Leader.
“13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.
14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.” Matthew 3:13-15 (ESV)
My father was, shall we say, a very crass man. So, apologies in advance, but whenever you said “I thought” (which I apparently said a lot), his answer was “You know what happened to thought, don’t you? A guy thought he farted but shit his pants.” Only being from the Bronx and having no teeth, “thought” came out as “tawt.” “He tawt he farted…”
That soon taught (not “tawt”) me to stop saying “I thought.” But his point was still valid. Thinking is not understanding and most importantly, true understanding results in believing. You can remember this by the acronym “TUB.”
I watched President-Elect Donald Trump’s news conference carried live yesterday on Facebook. I heard him say how he was divesting himself of his billions of dollars for the length of his presidency, that he had several ethics groups “watch dogging” to make sure he couldn’t do anything wrong and that yes, Russia does hack us, as does China, but it didn’t have an effect on the election other than revealing true information that discredited Democrats. Immediately afterwards I checked the “mainstream media” such as the New York Times to read that he was keeping his businesses and admitted Russia hacked the election. The opposite of what he said. Fake news. Lies.
People who trust the New York Times now believe the opposite of what was said. They believe lies. And when they hear President Trump they will accuse him of changing what he said. Because they thought wrongly their understanding was impaired and they believe a lie which becomes their truth. But it is not true at all. Just what my father said. Their wrong thinking has crap results.
Fake news is nothing new though. Many people refused to believe JESUS was the Messiah because they “knew” He was from Nazareth and that “no good could come from Nazareth.” They knew the real Messiah could only come from Bethlehem. Even Herod who tried to kill JESUS as a child was told this. And JESUS was born in Bethlehem as I’m sure He would have told people if asked. But they already “knew” that He wasn’t so they never went to the Source.
Thought…Understanding…Belief. They have consequences not only for politics and the future of the country, but for eternal Life.
Do not believe what you have heard. Go to the Source. For politics that is the actual person speaking. For eternal Life that is the Spirit of GOD speaking to you. Ask JESUS to show you the Truth about Himself. Read the Bible (I recommend the English Standard Version) and read what JESUS actually said and taught. Wash your thinking, understanding and beliefs in the TUB of the Words of JESUS, surrendered to His Spirit. Then what you think, understand, and believe is JESUS, the Truth. Otherwise you will believe in a fake Jesus and the results of your life will be flushed away.
“Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.”
Matthew 2:13-23 ESV
Reminder of Responsibility (2 Timothy 1)
The Apostle Paul’s reminder to timid Timothy in his second letter to his young friend is a good reminder for us all in 2017. It is a reminder of our responsibility for the life we’ve been given.
That responsibility is to use well what GOD has given us: a purpose and grace. And to realize that these were given to us before the foundation of the world. Our purpose? To be freed from sin and death by JESUS and to free others by introducing them to JESUS for themselves. And Grace is the key JESUS uses to open our chains and theirs.
I have a personal mission statement that says: “‘Meet the Master!’ is the message and the message is my mission!” Who is the Master? JESUS Christ. What is the Message? The Gospel, that GOD the Son became a Man while remaining fully GOD to die in our place and earn eternal Life for us, fully by Grace with no action of our own required. All we need do is accept it. That sets into action a series of events (new Spiritual Life, and the desire to live to love Him through loving others). But the power is in knowing we can never do anything to earn that or repay it, which only spurs us on to want to do more.
Purpose and Grace all chosen for you before the earth you walk on and will be buried beneath were formed. Accepting them will change everything because they remind you of your responsibility in Life. Not to change politics of others. Not to produce more or try harder or fit in. But to know JESUS, to tell others what you know about Him, and to do it with Grace, free from having to prove yourself to anyone and graciously letting them know JESUS and freedom for themselves.
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Passing Power (Matthew 2:1-12)
As I write this, Presidential power in the United States is passing from Barack Obama to President-elect Donald Trump. These transitions when there is a passing of power are sometimes smooth, sometimes awkward, and sometimes full of treachery. Our example today is one of treachery.
When JESUS was born, He was born into the earthly kingdom of Herod the Great. None other than the famous Mark Antony had first given Herod the kingdom and he held onto it by lies, murdering competition, and being so persuasive a speaker that when Mark Antony lost power Herod convinced those who had taken power from him to keep Herod in power because he had been so faithful to the losing side!
This King Herod is the one wise men (who knew secret knowledge others didn’t know) from another country came to in order to find the king their studies said would be born King of the Jews. Herod was no Jew but he was in control of the Jewish population. He offended that population regularly but for all their wisdom these wise men didn’t know that. (But GOD did and was sending a message through these men.)
So what did Herod do when confronted with the knowledge that he must pass his power to another? He fought it with all that power he had. That is why Scripture said everyone in Jerusalem was upset if Herod was upset because they knew it meant trouble and suffering for them.
Like most others in power, he used others to do his dirty work. He lied to these seekers of Christ and told them he just wanted what they wanted. But when they were warned by GOD not to trust Herod, Herod murdered innocents in a vain effort to stop the One born to be not only King of the Jews but King of Kings and LORD of LORDS for all people, all time, and all Creation.
You have this same choice. Every human being has the daily decision to pass the power of control of their hearts and minds and souls. The idea that we have any power over ourselves is a lie. Satan, who ruled Herod, uses his powers over us as well. The only power we have is to decide whether we will serve Satan or JESUS. Satan is just a misbehaving spirit. But JESUS is GOD the Son.
JESUS was born to free us from sin gained under the rule of Satan and the sentence of eternal damnation it brings. Satan, like Herod, rules us with death and treachery. That is the kingdom JESUS came to free us from.
JESUS says that all power in Heaven and Earth is His. All other power has passed away. The only power you have is to acknowledge that reality.
Who has control of your life? Will you follow the ways of the world and try to deceive yourself and others that you have power you don’t have in a desperate bid to leave a legacy? Will you allow Satan to continue to cause anarchy through lies, violence and blame?
Or will you recognize that a new ruler, the True Ruler, has come and like those wise men fall and worship JESUS as your King, giving him all power over your life and eternity? He was born for that very reason through the throne of His Cross where He bought with His Life the life He gave you and took possession through His Resurrection of it if you will allow His Holy Spirit to transform your heart into the Kingdom of GOD.
OUCH! I just had one of “those” moments. You know, when the LORD spanks you and you hadn’t even realized you were doing anything wrong?
So there I was. I just got done watching the #DoctorWho Christmas special which I planned to post a #praise report for being able to see “only” 12 hours after broadcast in England. (Highly recommended!)
But I had to feed the dogs. Same ole same ole. Aslan is “top dog” so I feed him first and let Chloe watch then she eats. But this time something was different. Chloe cried while watching him. Now Chloe cries CONSTANTLY. If a toy is one inch from her nose. If you stop scratching her. But never while waiting to eat and watching Aslan.
While Aslan was still eating and she was crying I said, “Oh, Chloe! You KNOW I always feed you on time! You know I wouldn’t let you go hungry!” Aslan finished and as I opened the door and let Chloe in for her shift I heard myself say, “You’ve got to trust me more than that!”
That’s when the LORD made me realize after all my crying yesterday that I can’t take being alone anymore, we weren’t talking about an old Italian feeding a fussy dog anymore. We were talking about me and Him, my Master.
“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.” John 12:24 #Christmas
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A clean tongue can’t create what you claim but it can uncover who you are at heart and invite others to grow there. #quote
1 Timothy 2:1-4 (ESV) “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
Paul wrote this when Caesar enslaved hundreds of thousands, murdered Christians and insisted on worshipping idols, including himself, or be tortured to death. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, commanded prayer for the Romans in authority. Not if you like them but because it is GOOD and pleases JESUS.
Donald Trump is the President-Elect and is probably more vulnerable to assassination and other works of the devil against him than anyone since Lincoln, and for the same reason.
I am no fan of Obama but pray for his salvation and leadership because the LORD commands it and because the future of the United States depends on peace. And peace improves the sharing of the Gospel. When the Israelites were taken into captivity every prophet including Daniel was told to work for the leaders and the welfare of Babylon.
You are commanded as a Christian to pray for President-Elect Trump and Vice-President Elect Pence and the peace of the United States. Period.
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Come to Christmas
One of my favorite Christmas carols is “O Come All Ye Faithful” and it turns out that is exactly what Christmas is all about. From the moment of His birth through His Life on earth to His death and Resurrection the message of JESUS has always been “Come and see.” Not to Santa Claus. Not to a sale or a party. But to a feeding trough. To a star-lightened path. To play “Follow the Leader” as a disciple of JESUS on earth. To a Cross. And Home to Glory. It has always been “Come.”
I noticed this when reading about how JESUS called the apostles. He literally said “Come, follow Me!” It’s shouted the way we say “C’mon!!” today! JESUS literally shouts “C’mon! Follow Me!” and the meaning is to follow behind like children playing Follow the Leader and not wanting anyone left behind.
The angels called the shepherds in the fields to come meet their true and eternal LORD. He is JESUS, GOD the Son, wrapped up as a baby in flesh and blankets. A star called “C’mon! Follow me to your only true King!” to members of another culture, across borders and into eternity. JESUS calls His disciples into the great Follow the Leader adventure, trusting Him to lead them to His cross and through it. And Christ calls “C’mon!” for us to fall into line and follow Him as our Leader today, taking up our own crosses on the way.
Christ is calling: “Come to Christmas! Follow Me through the story of My birth through My perfect life given up for you. And come through death into the eternal Life I bought for you with mine!”
We have botched up our lives like ripped up wrapping paper trying to wrap life up our way. Following JESUS with our lives, leaving behind our attempts at living our way, giving Him the gift of our hearts for all He has given us, is everything.
If you are already a Christian come and enjoy it. Even if you feel like you fell out of line, get back in!
If you are new to following JESUS, come along quick!
Come to Christmas! C’mon!!
“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”
Matthew 4:18-22 ESV