Seems like we all juggle lots of things: kids schedules with sports, practices, dr appointments, work responsibilities, relationship stuff, . . . the hustle, bustle & rustle of everyday living.
In all of these things, let’s be mindful to nurture in our hearts our relationship with Jesus. Lots of things want your attention so we must daily chose to fellowship with Jesus beyond the quickie “help!!!” requests. While these are important & good, our hearts are designed for deep fellowship with Jesus so lets yield to our design & align our values, focus & time to nurture the deeps with Jesus!
Lately, I’ve been doing some reading & spending some time in John 3, where Jesus is talking with Nicodemus. Their conversation has really sparked my curiosity on a few levels. To begin, this conversation was where Jesus made the famous statement, “You must be born again” Growing up in a pastor’s home, I heard this phrase “born again” multiple times & it’s been heavily used throughout Christianity with very weighty and significant importance. Consequently, I’ve always been a little more sensitive to this interchange between Jesus & Nicodemus.
With that in mind, please consider some important things about Nicodemus:
he was a man in a male dominated culture – his natural environment, POV, thinking, paradigm & frame of reference was all things male
he was a Jewish leader: not Roman, not Greek, not Persian, but Jewish with the rich heritage, culture and background of the OT, Moses, the Law, Torah, prophets, Psalms, etc; he was a religious expert in his culture
he was a Pharisee, which means that he held the same points of interpretation of the Law as the Pharisees as distinct from the Sadducees
he came to Jesus by night, possibly for a more private & offline conversation as opposed to a daytime, public discussion
Nicodemus’ first words with Jesus affirmed that they knew that Jesus was from God because of the validation of miracles to His ministry. Everything that Nicodemus does & says up to this point seems pretty normal stuff for who he is, a Jewish male Pharisee. He is talking about theology & miracles with Jesus which seems to be what Jesus is about.
But Jesus goes rogue
Jesus’ reply to Nicodemus has seemingly nothing to do with theology or miracles, but rather everything to do with birthing babies – you must be born again. It’s obvious by Nicodemus’ reply that he’s confused because he asks Jesus about the physical mechanics of a 2nd birth when a person is fully grown. It seems to me that obstetrics is a completely different topic than theology & miracles, or maybe not?????
I’m very much musing on this conversation between Nicodemus & Jesus and I expect that my musings will continue for quite awhile. In the meantime, here’s something you might be able to use in your daily living from my musings so far:
Sometimes I start conversations with God that wind up on a completely different & altogether better, deeper & richer experience. Let’s be careful not to limit our conversations with God to the topics of our choosing 🙂
Yea baby!!!! The US won their match against Ghana – congrats to the US team 🙂
One of the things that I love about soccer / football / futbol is how it is accessible to everyone. Wherever I go around the world, I see evidence of this sport in some fashion or shape (wobbly goals from tree branches, balls made from tape and cut up tires, lines in the sand for field markers, etc). I also love that almost anyone can play it, regardless of age, experience, gender, financial status, educational experience, etc. – I even recently put my name on a list to possibly play in some recreational league (no call yet).
In my thinking, Jesus is a little bit like soccer / football / futbol:
He plays well with others,
He is universally appealing,
He has the power to unify people to noble living &
He is relevant to all of us, regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, educational background, financial status, experience, etc.
Happy World Cup & don’t forget the international coffee ,)
During this Christmas season, I’ve been really thinking about Jesus being a newborn & it’s totally rocking my world. I’ve been thinking about Mary having labor in a room where the sheep, goats, cattle, etc were kept. I’ve been thinking about what it was like for her to go through labor for her first time, not at home and maybe not in a very comfortable place. I’ve been thinking about Jesus being a newborn – what a TOTALLY CRAZY thought. The Son of God, present at the creation of the world, prophesied to Adam & Eve, the Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Everlasting Father (Is 9:6) and eagerly anticipated for thousands of years being a newborn baby.
Having had three newborn babies (I have three kids) and getting to work first hand with babies with Saving Moses, I’m blown away to think about the second person of the Trinity being a newborn baby – it takes my breath away to think of Jesus as a newborn 🙂
Christmas brings out the best & the worst in us. We tend to be more generous & compassionate but at the same time more impatient and cranky. Christmas motivates us to see the needs of people around us, like Saving Moses, but because of the increased pressure & work that can come with this season, we can also be more self-centered and less flexible. In the next few weeks, I’m planning to do some really practical & honest blogs about dealing with Christmas. Below are a few ideas about handling cranky people in the Christmas season:
remember that Christmas isn’t an easy season for many people to navigate (deaths in family, difficult memories, loneliness, financial pressures, etc)
if someone is cranky, don’t let their behavior & attitude infect your words or attitude
plan ahead to be extra patient, gracious & kind (pre-planning our attitudes is a great tool to have available when the need arises)
gain satisfaction from being generous & kind, not from the person’s reaction (internal versus external fulfillment)
Remember in school when you wanted to be popular? Did you ever do anything stupid to try & fit in? Personally, I’d prefer to forget some of the dumb things I’ve done, in the attempt to be popular & accepted – those are some sketchy memories to say the least!!!
With that being said, here’s a really comforting thought: you are always popular with God & you’ll never lose your popularity with God. You are always on God’s “hit parade” and God is always eager to be with you – moreso, God loves it when you spend time with God. You are continually acceptable to God through what Jesus has accomplished. You’re POPULAR!!! 🙂
We have entered the Easter season when we celebrate Jesus’ death & resurrection. But if we aren’t careful, we can get stuck in the mindset that Jesus lived 2,000 years ago so Easter can easily turn into a tribute to the past. Because Jesus rose from the dead, that means that He is alive today & since He lives today, lets watch & listen for Him in each moment of this day. He moves in so many different ways, speaks through so many different channels & occupies all time & space waiting for us to delightfully discover Him. Open eyes, listening ears & sensitive hearts for a fellowship permeated with infinite & genuine love 🙂
I’ve been thinking a little bit about Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego, the 3 Hebrew men who refused to worship anyone but their God and were thrown into a fiery furnace to punish them for their disobedience. When these men were given a chance to back down & obey the king, they dug their heels in and said that their God could deliver them from the fire & even if He didn’t they wouldn’t worship any other god. This was a really bold and even wreckless stance. Nevertheless, they held their ground and as a result they were thrown into the fiery furnace. When the king checked on their burning progress, he was totally SHOCKED to see the 3 Hebrew men walking around the fiery furnace along with someone who the king described as a man who looked like the son of God. Sometimes our work with Saving Moses can be a little bit like a furnace with some pretty sketchy hotspots, but thankfully, Jesus is with us!
So for me, if Jesus is in the fire, then I want to be there with Him – better to be in a furnace with Jesus than without Jesus and no furnace. And at the end of the day, the Hebrew men weren’t delivered from the fire but rather through the fire. There’s tremendous fellowship potential in the furnace with Jesus 🙂
I find myself in a season of life where I have lots & lots of questions & not just about the weather. For me, it feels like many of my questions seem to either have no answers or they have very difficult answers and this can be really challenging. But as simple as it sounds, I’m finding that Jesus is the answer. Jesus is the answer for my need for wisdom, direction, strength, assurance, security & so much more. Jesus is my answer of peace for a troubled heart. Jesus is the answer: full stop 🙂
Sometimes in my life I feel like there’s too much journey and not enough Jesus. I know that life is a journey and that we are encouraged to not grow weary in well doing. I know that hardships and difficulties create strength, endurance and persistence. I know that we’re supposed to encourage and strengthen ourselves in the Lord (like David did at Ziklag in 1 Sam). But if I’m super honest, I also can feel like Elijah in 1 Kings 19, when the angel said that the journey was too much for him – too much journey and not enough Jesus.
But in this phrase, “too much journey and not enough Jesus”, there’s also the answer: more of Jesus. It seems to me that our journey in life doesn’t stop – it’s continual. The quantity of Jesus in my life, however, can fluctuate (understanding that He never leaves us but that my engagement with Him can increase / decrease on any given day). So let’s be sure that we never take a break from Jesus regardless of what’s happening on our journey in life 🙂