How does one distinguish between the two distinct people and personalities that result from identical twins?  In college I found it hard to know which was which.  They laughed the same, walked, talked, ate, and looked the same.  If one showed up without the other, few knew them well enough to know who was standing before them.  The degree of likeness, one to the other, could not be described any better, or more appropriately than, identical.

When Jesus arrived in Judea, traveling from one tiny village to the next, proclaiming “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel…” [Mark 1:15] the crowds that followed were “…amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” [Mark 1:22]

Maybe the explanation is as simple as this.  The scribes, rabbis, and other teachers, while knowing the law of God, continually used other men’s interpretations and ideas when they taught what God was saying through the Law and the Prophets.  Since Jesus was, and is God, along with the Holy Spirit and the Father, He was able to speak from original intent, since He was there when the words of the Law and the Prophets were inspired then written.  As such, Jesus would quote the original text without the aid of scrolls kept in the synagogues or the Temple.  The words He spoke were identical to those written in ancient days.

So when Jesus would begin, “You have heard that the ancients were told…  But I say to you…” [Matthew 5:21-22], He was speaking about how the teaching of men erred from the original intended meaning behind each passage He quoted.  This alone gave Him the authority to also say, “I and the Father are one.” [John 10:30]

Having spoken these words, it’s easy to see why the Jewish leaders took offense, since there isn’t another way to interpret this statement except Jesus claiming He and the Father are IDENTICAL.  Now don’t go so fast here… linger a minute.

Jesus isn’t saying He is “another- like” the Father.  Jesus isn’t saying God and the Son are identical twins.  The one-ness Jesus is claiming is further captured in His statement to Philip, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” [John 14:9]

One of the spiritual games we like to play seems to be finding an explanation of the Trinity:  God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – three in ONE.  This idea is captured in an ancient image, that most of us have no construct from which to assimilate it’s truth.  We recognize the second part, but mostly skip completely over the first part.  It goes like this…

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. [Deuteronomy 6:4-5]

Even the most simple explanation is mind boggling, because LORD (Yahweh – the proper name used for God) and God (Elohenu – the divine being) are the same. Since both God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are invisible to human eyes, it makes it virtually impossible to wrap our minds around the idea of One-ness. So…

Let’s not make this harder than God intended it.  In fact, while it may be fun to come up with human images that help us deal with the Trinity of ONE, our focus should be on the most complete revelation of who God is, and what He wanted us to know about Him.  And in this case, all we have to do is look to Jesus and see the ONE.  He is identical in every way, yet was visible for awhile on the earth, and will one day soon (I hope) reappear on this planet to demonstrate His One-ness.  What did this man Jesus say to John the Apostle that He wanted us to know?

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” [Revelation 1:8]

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.”
Come, Lord Jesus.
[Revelation 22:20]


Does Change Make You Cringe?

Daily Post:  Cringe

spice of life

Well, first of all, what does this picture have to do with anything, especially the title of this blog?  The image above is perhaps aptly titled, “The Spice of Life.”  As in the phrase, “Variety is the spice of life.”  Change is about adding variety into your life.  Did you know this phrase dates back to 1785, first seen in William Cowper’s poem The Task: “Variety is the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavor.”  Did you also know that just the word “change” can make some people shrink away, cower in fear, or cringe in pain?  What is it about change that some people hate so much?

I like to think of myself as a balanced person.  I’m open to change and it doesn’t scare the livin’ dailylights out of me.  However, I’m also good with routines, and order, instead of the chaos that can occur from a constant barrage of serendipitous spontaneity.  I know people, and have known people, who’s lives are so structured, so ordered, that when something changes in their routine, it can be intensely devastating such that they become almost paralyzed with confusion, fear, rage, or depression.

This idea might help you understand the dynamic of what was going on in the first century when Jesus of Nazareth suddenly appeared in Judea and Galilee teaching and preaching in a way that was inconsistent with the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes.  His message was much more personal.  His content was intentionally focused on intent, rather than letter of the law.  And being lawyers, they hated Him for it.  For example…

Matthew 5:21-22
“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER ‘ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”

These descriptions coming from the Creator of the Universe, Himself, are telling insights into how God examines our heart’s intentions, rather than our inability (for few of us are perfect enough) to keep the letter of the law.  The elders in Jerusalem were no different than many people today who believe by keeping the “rules,” God is therein obligated to look on them with favor, or salvation.  Jesus made it clear in many ways, it is not about what we “do” but the “why we do it” matters just as much to God.  Clearly murder as an action is wrong, God’s word says so.  But such loathing and contempt as people express toward each other today, according to these words of Jesus, are just as wrong.  Additionally, Jesus says if these attitudes (intentional heart motives) go unchecked, they will condemn that person to a fiery hell.

I cringe at the thought of how God must see some of the leaders in our nation today.  “Variety” as a spice of life to them must mean, another of the variety of their party is ok, but if the other party wins, or tries to change something, then murdering people’s reputations is not just ok, but their only course of action.  Real change in our nation’s government will require both parties to be more willing to approach this problem with a balanced mindset.  Because if the contempt on display in the nation’s capital today does not cease, what we see in the future will not just make us cringe… it will frighten us to our core.

Am I saying that change is easy?  No, but it is possible.  Am I saying only Washington needs to change?  No, but it would make it just a little bit easier for the West Coast LA LA LAND folks to accept, if the change began in our capital.  Do I believe the Comey’s, Mueller’s, or Lynch’s and the like on the hill will moderate their tone and alter their narrative?  Not likely.  Yet, if they don’t, when I think about it the chill that runs down my spine is something that the word “cringe” doesn’t even begin to cover.

What’s the answer?  The answer is the same as it has been for thousands of years now.  Psalm 37 in my bible is titled:  “Security of those who trust in the LORD, and insecurity of the wicked.”  You should read the whole thing, it won’t take but a few minutes.  Allow me to give you one highlight:

Psalm 37:12-13
The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes at him with his teeth.
The LORD laughs at him, for He sees his day coming.

On a more positive note… just for a change…

Psalm 118:24
This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!

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