All the Colors

Leaves 1

More than anything else, this image reminds us that things change.  Time marches on. The grains of sand in an hour glass fall painfully slow at times.  Then, when you least expect it, you observe there’s very little sand in the upper globe indicating a “season” of time is almost at an end.  When Fall begins, the same thing is true.  What was green turns to a rainbow array of colors in the trees.  The leaves fall over time, sometimes slowly, other times in a day. Things change.

Depending on whether  you are a “glass-half-full” or “glass-half-empty” sort of person significantly affects your view of this tree, and its many colors.  On a recent trip to Arkansas I had high hopes of catching a view of the fall foliage from Mount Magazine, north of Hot Springs.  I’m sure it would have been a lovely drive, and the view would have been spectacular, were it not for the dense fog encompassing the mountain.  When we arrived at the peak, we could see less than 40 feet in any direction we looked.  Since we were only there for a day, we hoped it would burn off quickly.  The reality is it didn’t, so we left, with a tiny bit of sadness and sense of loss.

I took the photo image above, looking North from my backdoor, on Sunday morning.  It reminded me of the singular truth found in the first 11 verses of Ecclesiastes 3.  “There is an appointed time for everything” (vs.1)… and … “He has made everything appropriate in its time” (vs.11).  In between these two statements are couplets of contrasting thoughts describing almost every aspect of human life on earth.  The dichotomy of living a human existence here on earth is captured in the joy and sorrow juxtaposed in the words, “a time to…”

Give birth vs. die, plant vs. uproot, kill vs. heal, tear down vs. build up.
Weep vs. laugh, mourn vs. dance, thrown stones vs. gather stones.
Embrace vs. shun embracing, search vs. give up as lost, keep vs. throw away.
Tear apart vs. sew together, be silent vs. speak, love vs. hate, war vs. peace.

I really like Eugene Petersen’s “The Message” translation of the Bible for passages like Ecclesiastes.  It is just easier to relate to I guess.  In each of these verses Petersen’s translation begins, “A right time …”  These words help us see that God designed all of these events into the human existence and we really don’t have any control over them. Today, see if you can hear God speak to you through Solomon, in verses 14-15 of The Message.

I’ve also concluded that whatever God does, that’s the way it’s going to be, always. No addition, no subtraction. God’s done it and that’s it. That’s so we’ll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear.

Whatever was, is.
Whatever will be, is.
That’s how it always is with God.

Trusting in Jesus as LORD, in its essence, is knowing these words Solomon wrote are true absolutely.  Proclaiming Jesus as LORD is declaring He is in Control of all things, all the events of my life.  Serving Jesus as LORD requires an understanding and commitment that He is the sole Authority in my life today.  Knowing in fact, that I am alive and serve at His pleasure, whatever may come my way.  The third, and maybe the most awesome truth of declaring Jesus as LORD, is knowing and believing, the Living LORD Jesus is present right now with me.  When one of the “a time to…”-events happens in my life, I am not alone to face them.  Jesus is with me continually.

It’s fall, and the LORD is demonstrating His Creative power in all the colors.  As the blustery North wind blows creating a sea of leaves ripping through the air, do you see Him?  Do you know Him?  Is He LORD of your life today?

It’s all Greek to me

via Daily Post: Translate

Imagine living for three years with someone where you slept just feet apart; ate every meal together, walked everywhere you went, as your group of 13 traveled from Galilee to Judea and back again.  Imagine seeing the leader of your group doing miracles, hearing Him calling your name personally to follow Him, and knowing the miracles He performed clearly authenticated the claim He made of Himself to be the Promised One, the Anointed, the Messiah.  Imagine living this way among a people who’s culture was being ripped apart by Roman occupation and law.  Listening daily to the words of your leader, it would have been an easy leap of faith to want this powerful man to be the new King of Israel, and remove the pagan laws from your land.  So they did.  To a man, each of the disciples Jesus hand-picked, believed not in the pie-in-the-sky kingdom far into the future, but in an imminent establishing of a new nation of Israel in Jerusalem.  Jerusalem after all was the city of God.

Now imagine each of these men watching their leader being dragged off in chains.  Imagine their confusion for Judas kissing Jesus on the cheek in the Garden of Gethsemane, being taken by the Temple Guard, and hauled off for a mock trial in the middle of the night.  Having spent all those long hours with their Rabboni (Great Master), the huge storm clouds of doubt and despair descend on the group of 11.  Judas has gone and hung himself for his misguided attempts at forcing Jesus to act immediately.  Jesus is being taken to Caiaphas, Peter’s stands by a fire trying to get warm, John finds Mary and tries to offer comfort, and everyone else scatters, thinking they could be next.

We have no context for this life, or for even beginning to think we understand the nature of their confusion demonstrated by their actions.  You and I are not challenged today in these ways, and it was a road to be traveled by only 12 hand-picked men anyway.

So, what’s the point?  The narrative I’m trying to paint for you is one that has a few key elements.

First, when they chose to follow Him, the faith in Jesus these men exhibited is one of complete abandonment of any previous life-choices.  This would be the very definition of the Greek word κύριος (koo’-ree-os) translation: Lord or Master.  Today our closest English variation might be “Sir.”  These men forsook everything to follow Jesus; family, friends, businesses, life stability, just to sit at Jesus feet and listen to Him teach.

Second, Jesus continually was surrounded by thousands of people in crowds, all gathered as word spread of His teaching, and miracle-working ministry.  At one point, looking at the masses of people, Jesus said, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” [Luke 6:46]  If the 12 men who were hand-picked didn’t understand half of what Jesus said and did, after all the time they spent with Him privately, what’s to cause us to believe those on the fringes, hearing Him only one or two times, could even partly comprehend His message, purpose or intentions?

Third, we can only have context for the meaning of the word “LORD” if we step back and stop laying our 21st century interpretations on a 1st century document (the Bible).  Here’s a verse we like to quote:

Philippians 2:9-11
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

What’s the reason?  See, that’s the real question.  What is the actual reason every knee bows, or every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord?  We do such an injustice when we translate these scriptures in 21st century contexts.

The REASON that Jesus is LORD is because:

Philippians 2:5-8
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Obedience is the best and clearest example of why Jesus is Lord.  Even to the point of death, even death on a cross.

The LAST point of my narrative is, until we see Lordship as something more than occasional church attendance, sporadic giving to ministry or charity, or passing out water at the 4th of July parade… we have completely lost the message in translation.  Jesus is Lord not because I “make” Him Lord of my life.   Jesus IS Lord.  My only choice is to serve Him or not.  My choice is to completely vacate my preconceptions of what it means to serve Him, and follow His Spirit leading me into uncharted waters.  Jesus is Lord whether I see Him walking on water or not.  My obedience, to His command of my life, will be the only determining factor for the world to see … He is my Lord.

Let me try to translate for you one more time… you can hear it if you will…

Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?