hysterical

Agrippa said to Paul, “You may speak for yourself.” So Paul gestured with his hand and began his defense. “King Agrippa, I consider myself especially fortunate that I stand before you today as I offer my defense concerning all the accusations the Jews have brought against me. This is because you understand well all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I ask you to listen to me patiently. Every Jew knows the way of life I have followed since my youth because, from the beginning, I was among my people and in Jerusalem. They have known me for a long time. If they wanted to, they could testify that I followed the way of life set out by the most exacting group of our religion. I am a Pharisee. Today I am standing trial because of the hope in the promise God gave our ancestors. This is the promise our twelve tribes hope to receive as they earnestly worship night and day. The Jews are accusing me, King Agrippa, because of this hope! Why is it inconceivable to you that God raises the dead? “I really thought that I ought to oppose the name of Jesus the Nazarene in every way possible. 10 And that’s exactly what I did in Jerusalem. I locked up many of God’s holy people in prison under the authority of the chief priests. When they were condemned to death, I voted against them. 11 In one synagogue after another—indeed, in all the synagogues—I would often torture them, compelling them to slander God. My rage bordered on the hysterical as I pursued them, even to foreign cities. 12 “On one such journey, I was going to Damascus with the full authority of the chief priests. 13 While on the road at midday, King Agrippa, I saw a light from heaven shining around me and my traveling companions. That light was brighter than the sun. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice that said to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you harassing me? It’s hard for you to kick against a spear.’ 15 Then I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are harassing. 16 Get up! Stand on your feet! I have appeared to you for this purpose: to appoint you as my servant and witness of what you have seen and what I will show you. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you 18 to open their eyes. Then they can turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, and receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are made holy by faith in me.’ (Acts 26:1-18, CEB)

Paul said his rage bordered on hysterical. His rage of pursuing followers of the Way. He voted against people so they would die for what they believed.

When we are stuck in a tunnel vision we can be full of hysterical rage against those who we see as wrong. But one light from God can set us on the right path and correct our tunnel vision.

Help others see love, not hate.

Let them see the love you are for, not experience the rage of what you are against.

Loving People. Loving God.

show us

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father; that will be enough for us.” Jesus replied, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been with you all this time? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I have spoken to you I don’t speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Trust me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or at least believe on account of the works themselves. 12 I assure you that whoever believes in me will do the works that I do. They will do even greater works than these because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask for in my name, so that the Father can be glorified in the Son. 14 When you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it. (John 14:8-14, CEB)

What do you need to see to believe?

Or what have you seen that you haven’t seen?

Jesus tells Philip that whoever has seen Jesus has seen the Father. Well, have they really?

Jesus is the Father, and the Father is Jesus, meaning they are both God, but seeing one, have you seen them both?

Yes. We have. Even when we can’t explain it.

We have seen Jesus and the Father and the Spirit. So what else do you need to believe the promises are true?

Trust and love as you are loved.

Loving People. Loving God.

Love…

Later, Jesus himself appeared again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. This is how it happened: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter told them, “I’m going fishing.” They said, “We’ll go with you.” They set out in a boat, but throughout the night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples didn’t realize it was Jesus. Jesus called to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” He said, “Cast your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” So they did, and there were so many fish that they couldn’t haul in the net. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard it was the Lord, he wrapped his coat around himself (for he was naked) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they weren’t far from shore, only about one hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire there, with fish on it, and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you’ve just caught.” 11 Simon Peter got up and pulled the net to shore. It was full of large fish, one hundred fifty-three of them. Yet the net hadn’t torn, even with so many fish. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples could bring themselves to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15 When they finished eating, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 He asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was sad that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” He replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 I assure you that when you were younger you tied your own belt and walked around wherever you wanted. When you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and another will tie your belt and lead you where you don’t want to go.” 19 He said this to show the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. After saying this, Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me.” (John 21:1-19, CEB)

This is a text if we have been in worship for while we have probably heard, the restoration of Peter. Peter denied Jesus three times, so Jesus asked Peter three times if Peter loved Jesus.

Jesus said Peter do you ἀγαπάω me?

Peter said Yes Jesus I φιλέω you.

Again Jesus said Peter do you ἀγαπάω me?

Peter said Yes Jesus I φιλέω you.

Then Jesus said Peter do you φιλέω me.

Peter was sad but said Jesus you know I φιλέω you.

φιλέω is Philo. Brotherly Love. ἀγαπάω is agape, unconditional love.

Jesus asked Peter if he unconditionally loved him, and Peter said I love you like a brother. Well, look at what Joseph’s brothers did to him. What did Cain do to Abel? Brotherly love sometimes doesn’t look like love. And did Peter have conditions to how he loved Jesus?

Do you have conditions to how you love Jesus?

Do we only love to the point of us being comfortable?

Jesus says to you, Do you ἀγαπάω me?

What will you say?

Loving (ἀγαπάω) People. Loving (ἀγαπάω) God.

quid por quo

12 Then Jesus said to the person who had invited him, “When you host a lunch or dinner, don’t invite your friends, your brothers and sisters, your relatives, or rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return and that will be your reward. 13 Instead, when you give a banquet, invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind. 14 And you will be blessed because they can’t repay you. Instead, you will be repaid when the just are resurrected.” (Luke 14:12-14, CEB)

Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase meaning what for what is used in English to mean an exchange of goods or services, in which one transfer is contingent upon the other; “a favor for a favor”. We have also said “give and take”, “tit for tat”, “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours”, and “one hand washes the other”. Actually, almost every language has a phrase for this. It is the understanding of business and gift-giving, as one can see in the below clip from The Big Bang Theory.

But here Jesus tells people to forget about that. We are to invite those who could not ever possibly do something for us in return. We need to shower those who the world sees as outcasts with love. Because we have been loved.

So love as you have been loved and do things to show others love, not so you get something in return.

Loving People. Loving God.

Peaceful or scary???

After this I looked and there was a door that had been opened in heaven. The first voice that I had heard, which sounded like a trumpet, said to me, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in a Spirit-inspired trance and I saw a throne in heaven, and someone was seated on the throne. The one seated there looked like jasper and carnelian, and surrounding the throne was a rainbow that looked like an emerald. Twenty-four thrones, with twenty-four elders seated upon them, surrounded the throne. The elders were dressed in white clothing and had gold crowns on their heads. From the throne came lightning, voices, and thunder. In front of the throne were seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God. Something like a glass sea, like crystal, was in front of the throne. In the center, by the throne, were four living creatures encircling the throne. These creatures were covered with eyes on the front and on the back. The first living creature was like a lion. The second living creature was like an ox. The third living creature had a face like a human being. And the fourth living creature was like an eagle in flight. Each of the four living creatures had six wings, and each was covered all around and on the inside with eyes. They never rest day or night, but keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is coming.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the one seated on the throne, who lives forever and always, 10 the twenty-four elders fall before the one seated on the throne. They worship the one who lives forever and always. They throw down their crowns before the throne and say, 11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, because you created all things. It is by your will that they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:1-11, CEB)

The author here was put into a Spirit-inspired trance and was lifted up to see the throne room, we know it was a trance/vision because later in Revelation it says that the earth and heavens are done away with and a new heaven and a new earth are created and God descends to be with God’s people. But in this vision, the author sees four creatures that are covered with eyes, all over their bodies.

Seems a little creepy and scary to me. Even with them crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is coming.”

Is this vision supposed to make us feel good about what is coming?

Sometimes the good news seems a bit odd to me, I do not know if you feel the same.

This vision was one that was to inspire hope as all the book of Revelation was meant to do. To be a beacon of hope in a world that seems like the enemy was winning.

Never lose hope in God even when the vision seems scary or makes no sense. God will see us through.

So go into the world spreading love.

Loving People. Loving God.

lukewarm

14 “Write this to the angel of the church in Laodicea: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your works. You are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I’m about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 After all, you say, ‘I’m rich, and I’ve grown wealthy, and I don’t need a thing.’ You don’t realize that you are miserable, pathetic, poor, blind, and naked. 18 My advice is that you buy gold from me that has been purified by fire so that you may be rich, and white clothing to wear so that your nakedness won’t be shamefully exposed, and ointment to put on your eyes so that you may see. 19 I correct and discipline those whom I love. So be earnest and change your hearts and lives. 20 Look! I’m standing at the door and knocking. If any hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to be with them, and will have dinner with them, and they will have dinner with me. 21 As for those who emerge victorious, I will allow them to sit with me on my throne, just as I emerged victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 If you can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” (Revelation 3:14-22, CEB)

You are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot, but you are lukewarm…

You think that you have all you need and because of that, you do not see how you are not following after Christ. So I am going to spit you out because you think you are where you need to be but you are so far from it.

Are we complacent with our discipleship? Are we thinking we are where we need to be when really we should be seeking or moving?

How can we make sure we are not lukewarm and going through the motions?

Listen for God to lead you and follow. Go into the world loving as you go.

Loving People. Loving God.

Hairs on your head

“I tell you, my friends, don’t be terrified by those who can kill the body but after that can do nothing more. I’ll show you whom you should fear: fear the one who, after you have been killed, has the authority to throw you into hell. Indeed, I tell you, that’s the one you should fear. Aren’t five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them is overlooked by God. Even the hairs on your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows. “I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before humans, the Human One will acknowledge before God’s angels. But the one who rejects me before others will be rejected before God’s angels. 10 Anyone who speaks a word against the Human One will be forgiven, but whoever insults the Holy Spirit won’t be forgiven. 11 When they bring you before the synagogues, rulers, and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what you should say. 12 The Holy Spirit will tell you at that very moment what you must say.” (Luke 12:4-12, CEB)

Even the hairs on your head are counted…

I find so much peace in this verse. God knows all the hairs on my head. God knows us each so well God knows the number of hairs on our heads. That is super comforting, even for this bald man! Well actually I’m not bald, I shave every day, so it still brings me peace.

We are worth more than the sparrows and creation, God created us to be caretakers of creation.

Know that you are loved. Go loving!

Loving People. Loving God.

Satan’s Synagogue

“Write this to the angel of the church in Smyrna: These are the words of the one who is the first and the last, who died and came back to life: I know your hardship and poverty (though you are actually rich). I also know the hurtful things that have been spoken about you by those who say they are Jews (though they are not, but are really Satan’s synagogue). 10 Don’t be afraid of what you are going to suffer. Look! The devil is going to throw some of you into prison in order to test you. You will suffer hardship for ten days. Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 If you can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Those who emerge victorious won’t be hurt by the second death. (Revelation 2:8-11, CEB)

I know the things that are spoken about you by those who say they are Jews but are really a part of Satan’s Synagogue! WOW!

This right here shows we should not care what others say about us. God knows the truth and always will. We need to be focused on what we are called to do and be and do that.

Do not worry about what others think or say about you. God knows.

Love as you are loved.

Loving People. Loving God

Readers Digest

The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah: Look, I am sending my messenger before you. He will prepare your way, a voice shouting in the wilderness:Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight.” John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. 11 And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.” 12 At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him. 14 After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, 15 saying, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!” (Mark 1:1-15, CEB)

The author of the Gospel of Mark is not one to mince words.

The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, and then we are into the story. Nothing but straight business and everything happens now, or immediately in Mark. The author is known to use the phrase Καὶ εὐθὺς which is and immediately over and over again. There is a matter of urgency to the gospel.

It starts out the beginning of the good news and ends with the woman leaving the tomb and saying nothing to anyone… Not a great ending of a book of good news.

Except when you realize that it isn’t an ending, the story continues with you.

Let your life speak the good news of the story of Jesus Christ, the son of God, so that all may come to know the love God has for them.

Loving People. Loving God.

Doubt or unfaithful?

19 It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.” 24 Thomas, the one called Didymus, one of the Twelve, wasn’t with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples told him, “We’ve seen the Lord!” But he replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my finger in the wounds left by the nails, and put my hand into his side, I won’t believe.” 26 After eight days his disciples were again in a house and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus entered and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand into my side. No more disbelief. Believe!” 28 Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus replied, “Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.” 30 Then Jesus did many other miraculous signs in his disciples’ presence, signs that aren’t recorded in this scroll. 31 But these things are written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and that believing, you will have life in his name. (John 20:19-31, CEB)

This is always the passage for the Sunday after Easter. Where Thomas gets a bad rap for some faulty translation.

The text actually reads καὶ μὴ γίνου ἄπιστος ἀλλὰ πιστός. Which we get translated in the NRSV as do not doubt but believe. And above it is better with “No more disbelief. Believe!” the words in question here are ἄπιστος and πιστός. Even if you can’t read the Greek you can see that these words are the same except for the ἄ. The ἄ is put on a word to negate the word. So whatever the word is the first word is dis the word. So to say do not doubt but believe is not really what is meant because doubt is not the opposite of belief. Doubt leads us to discover and question and that is not the opposite of belief. Thomas wasn’t with the other 10 locked away, where was he? He didn’t see Jesus and he wants nothing more than the rest already got. To see Jesus.

SO do not think you can’t question or wonder about faith. God is big enough to take it. And do not think that doubt is the opposite of faith. Doubt pushes us to a deeper faith. And God is big enough to take our doubts.

Loving People. Loving God.