Thursday, September 30, 2010

mercy, not sacrifice

Jesus Heals on the Sabbath

1 Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand.2 Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus' enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man's hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.
3 Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, "Come and stand in front of everyone."4 Then he turned to his critics and asked, "Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?" But they wouldn't answer him.
5 He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man,"Hold out your hand." So the man held out his hand, and it was restored!6 At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus.

mark 3

i was originally going to write this myself but i found this and thought it said what needed to be said. =]

"I have read this section of Scripture nearly 100 times, and I think I finally got it today. A man with a shriveled hand comes to Jesus in the synagogue and everyone is wondering what Jesus is going to do. Is He going to break the Sabbath law by healing the man on the Sabbath? He asks the question and becomes angry with all of the religious leaders because of their silence and hard heartedness. Why were they silent? And why was Jesus angry? Look at the two options in Jesus' question again. What are the only two options Jesus leaves on the table? He only leaves good and evil. The religious leaders are looking for another option. They are looking for the "nothing" option. Their argument would be, “Isn't that what the Sabbath is about? We do nothing on the Sabbath. We aren't allowed to work.” They spent centuries defining what working and not working on the Sabbath was. Now Jesus is telling them that not doing a good work on the Sabbath might be paramount to doing evil. Jesus is addressing the sins of omission in our lives. These are the things we ought to do but don't. Jesus told them, and is telling us, how wrong it is to use our religion to justify a good work not done. Throughout all of Scripture God says, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." If we are going to error, we are better off erring on the doing side and not the side of doing "nothing". If you want to raise God's fury, get in front (in the way) of His mercy and grace. Brothers and Sisters in Christ, God wants our obedience to His Word, but He always wants that obedience rooted in grace and mercy. Today, may we see the clarity of our choices, and may we always choose to do good! Peace!"

- Tom

Sunday, September 12, 2010


"It is the Christians, O Emperor, who have sought and found the truth, for they acknowledge God. They do not keep for themselves the goods entrusted to them. They do not covet what belongs to others. They show love to their neighbors. They do not do to another what they would not wish to have done to themselves. They speak gently to those who oppress them, and in this way they make them their friends. It has become their passion to do good to their enemies. They live in the awareness of their smallness. Every one of them who has anything gives ungrudgingly to the one who has nothing. If they see a traveling stranger, they bring him under their roof. They rejoice over him as over a real brother, for they do not call one another brothers after the flesh, but they know they are brothers in the Spirit and in God. If they hear that one of them is imprisoned or oppressed for the sake of Christ, they take care of all his needs. If possible they set him free. If anyone among them is poor or comes into want while they themselves have nothing to spare, they fast two or three days for him. In this way they can supply any poor man with the food he needs. This, O Emperor, is the rule of life of the Christians, and this is their manner of life."

- Aristides 137 AD

"Every culture has particular ways of eating. Some folks eat with chopsticks; others sit on the floor. In India we ate with our right hands. How do Christians eat? Christians eat with poor folks, with the outcast, the marginalized, and the excluded--all who were never invited to anyone else's party. Ours is a different kind of party. It's more like a divine banquet than another political program. Society's misfits are our people, our 'constituency.'

"There's an old story of a bishop whose cathedral was about to be robbed. The bandits demanded the 'treasures of the church.' So the bishop went into the shelter and gathered up the poor, saying, 'These are the treasures of the church.' The bandits left empty-handed that night."

- Jesus for President

i look at that first quote and i think to myself, man, i want the world to look at the church and see that. i want the world to see sacrificial people who go out of their way to love on others. i want the world to see people who starve to be able to feed someone in need. i want the world to see God's love. if i didn't have a relationship with Christ, i would look at this description and think, "wow, these christians are really something. why do they live this way? who are they living for? who is this Jesus that they worship? can i get to know Him?"

i also think, "man, how do we get there? how do we live that radically?" and the real answer is, we don't. at least, not by ourselves. we need each other and we need the Holy Spirit. through living by the Spirit, listening, waiting, praying, being sensitive to Him, by feeling and recognizing His love, we start to just LIVE it. it doesn't become "spiritual fruit" that we tape on ourselves, it doesn't become just an act, but it becomes a way of living that reflects what's on the inside.

i'm excited to see God raise a generation that is passionate for truth and action. for God and living in response to His love. let the world see the way we live and give praise to God. let the world see us and fall in love with Him.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Jesus for President

Just some excerpts from a book I've been reading that I wanted to share. =]

"The church is a people called out of the world to embody a social alternative that the world cannot know on its own terms. We are not simply asking the government to be what God has commissioned the church to be. After all, even the best government can't legislate love. We can build hundreds of units of affordable housing (a good thing by the way) and people still might not have 'homes.' We can provide universal health care and keep folks breathing longer (another nice move), but people can be breathing and still not truly be 'alive.' We can create laws to enforce good behavior, but no law has ever changed a human heart or reconciled a broken relationship. The church is not simply suggesting political alternatives. The church is embodying one."

"Remember when ole John the Baptizer sent his disciples to ask Jesus whether he was the one they were expecting and he didn't answer with a simple yes? Jesus instead told them to go tell John what they saw him doing. He knew that John could read the trail of crumbs. John knew that when lepers were healed, the blind saw, the dead rose, and the good news was preached to the poor, the one they were awaiting was indeed here.

What does our trail of crumbs look like? If someone asks if we are Christ-followers, can we say, 'tell me what you see?' Is there enough evidence to prove that we are taking after the slaughtered Lamb? What if they ask the poor around us? What if they ask our enemies? Would they say that we love them? Christians haven't always looked like Jesus. Perhaps the greatest barrier to Christ has been Christians who pronounce Jesus so loudly with their lips and deny him so loudly with their lives."

"A recent survey of young adults who are 'familiar outsiders' to Christianity showed that the three most common perceptions of Christians by onlookers are that we are anti-homosexual (an image held by 91 percent of the folks surveyed), judgmental (87 percent), and hypocritical (85 percent). How sad that the very things that Jesus scolded the religious elites around him for are the very things for which Christians are now known. We have a major image problem. To hear more about this study by the Barna research team, check out the book Unchristian (Baker, 2007) by our friends David Kinnaman and Gabe lyons."

Some tough things for me to hear. I know I can't change the way people look at Christians. I can't change people's hearts. But I know that the Holy Spirit can, God can, Jesus can. When we put on Jesus, when we live out LOVE, not condemnation, people see who we live for. They see Christ by the way we live. Not just by the things we say.

Trying to love a little more each day. Trying to be like Jesus a little more each day.