It’s Not a Ball of Confusion . . .

My wife and I were enjoying a day trip to Chicago and there on Michigan Avenue, certainly the Midwest’s biggest shopping location, were several brothers who were from what I heard, Fruit of Islam (although I am not sure of this and wouldn’t want to offend).  They were there on the sidewalk with a loud sound-system decrying the Christians who among several allegations were allowing homosexuals to sashay about in their churches without constraint.  They continued in the time it took us to walk past talking about how Christianity remains Eurocentric. 

I walked past, and asked my wife, “Who is getting the glory from this diatribe?”.  I was willing to confront these brothers although I am well aware that having an argument with someone who has a microphone is an absolute losing proposition.  I was quickly past anger toward sadness that is based upon the continuing issue that plagues the entire world.
No one got any glory from their words.  There were so many various ethnicities in the crowd, (as one would regularly observe in Chicago) and from the looks on their faces, they seemed lost in the presentation.  I wonder why these men decided to make this great declaration on Michigan Avenue rather than on Stony Island where the crowd would have at least been able to recognize the premises of their argument.  (Not that it would have been appreciated more)
Certainly there were no interested looking converts on the street and with so many disparaging words I wondered if this was the reaction they expected.  One doesn’t always expect mass enthusiasm from preaching but when light is shined in darkness. There is rejoicing.  I was reminded of the Temptation’s song “Ball of Confusion”.
Religion does that, it gives strength to the darkness.  People end up deciding that they would rather not follow anyone or anything than deal with confusion. 
The Bible says clearly that God is not the author of  confusion (I Cor 14:33) and we argue that Christianity is not religion.  Religious people do things in order to get close to God.  Christianity says that God sent His son to suffer the penalty of our separation from God – we can therefore come to God through the Son (Christ Jesus) and adapt a lifestyle of submission to the Kingdom and servant-hood for this great act.
We live in a world where people are discouraged from having discussions either because they one are intimidated or two are avoiding the conversation altogether. What do we do about this?  Pray for courage and boldness (Acts 4:13,29,31) and give a “soft answer” (Proverbs 15:1)  to those seeking answers about life.

Conflict Coming?

Do you have an important meeting, interview, conflict coming soon?  
The most important preparation you can do is through prayer.  I mentioned this to a friend who replied “I can’t even get myself in the frame of mind to pray for that person right now.  
It’s not always easy, but these are the steps of discipline that we have to adapt if we are going to be successful in the Kingdom.  It is a paradox for sure: I am angry, anxious, overwhelmed to deal with a job interview.  I have to go in an get my work evaluation.  I received a traffic ticket and need to explain the circumstances to a judge.  These are the moments when it is so easy to forget that we were told that we would have have difficulties (you will have tribulation  –  Jn. 16:33) and then the flesh rises up.  Don’t let your feelings oppose the good that you need to do. 
Jesus said “bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Mt. 5:44b)  Bless them and pray for those who have rule over you. These are guide posts that are needed to fully become engaged in the battle before you.  Rather than giving in, ask for favor for your supervisor.  Ask that the judge be in the right frame of mind while you are in front of her.  Ask that there be peace in your workplace for the day of your big presentation.  
This is how you receive favor. You are the child of the King.  Embrace Him and His reign over your situation.  Let Him know that you trust him with the big and small details of your life.  We walk with His presence into every foot of this creation – that’s how He planned it.  I enter every room with His favor and by doing His will, His will is done in Earth as it is in Heaven. 


Emmaus Encounter

The 24th chapter of Luke’s gospel tells the story of the resurrection. After the crucifixion and the discovery that Jesus’ body was missing, the disciples and followers of Jesus were at a loss.  They witnessed with horror and amazement the cruel torture of capital punishment.  They must have wondered why their friend and brother was singled out to receive 39 lashes along with ridicule and a crown of thorns. Why were his hands and feet nailed to the cross unlike others condemned to death?
His body was missing and everyone from the territorial governor to the disciples wanted to know what had happened. Luke’s narrative cuts to two of Jesus followers traveling on the road to Emmaus, about an 8 mile journey from Jerusalem. 
The first follower named Matthias said “Jesus came to my village in Bethany and touched me and broke my fever. Now he’s dead. Now, I can’t stop crying” 
Cleopas then said  “I heard him upon the mount, there were so many people who were moved by what he said. We all knew that he was a prophet sent from God.  When you consider all he did, the miraculous power and the grace of loving all those people.   But he could not have been messiah if they killed him just like that!”
Matthias then said “You say that but you clearly claimed that John the Baptist was a prophet and he was beheaded like a common thief!”
Cleopas replied  “I know that John was a prophet, I sat with hundreds listening to him, but this Jesus . . .”
Then Jesus began walking with them – but they were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked “What are you spending your walk arguing about?”
Cleopas asked exasperated  “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard what has been happening?”
“What has been happening?”  Jesus asked
Cleopas began “Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet mighty in word and deed was condemned to death by the chief priests and rulers and crucified.  We  had hoped that he would free Israel from being held by Rome.  Now that 3 days have gone by some women in our group went to the sepulcher and say that his body is missing.  They said they saw a vision of angels who told them He is alive.”
Jesus then said “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?”
Then He began with Moses and continued, prophet by prophet, explaining the meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures, showing how they were talking about the very things that had happened to Jesus  . . . . 

As they neared their destination, Jesus would have continued walking but they asked him to stay at their place.  As they prepared to eat, Jesus broke the bread and immediately they recognized him and he then vanished right before them!

They then said to themselves, “didn’t our hearts burn as he explained the scriptures to us . . . “

Predictions Concerning Christ 

Christ will be seed of woman Gen 3:15
Priest after the order of Melchizadek Gen 3:15
Christ as Lamb of God Gen 3:15
Brazen serpent [Christ lifted up] Num 21:9
Cursed is he that hangs on a tree Deut 21:23
Nathan as in I Samuel
David’s seed with everlasting kingdom 2:Sam 12, 13
Christ will not see corruption Psa 16:10
Forsaken because of the sins of others Psa 22
darkness at Calvary Psa 22
Pierced his hands and feet Psa 22
No bone broken Psa 34:21
Hated without a cause Psa 35:19
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God Isa 9:6
The Light [salvation] of the gentiles Isa 42:6
Thought to be cursed by God Isa 53:4
Oppressed and afflicted Isa 53:7
Silent before accusers Isa 53:7
Killed for the sins of the world Isa 53:8
Born in Bethlehem Mic   5:2

Proverbs Parenting 2 – The Spanking Issue

The need for discipline is universal.  Children at about the age of two begin to challenge their parents as they learn the word “No!” and begin to act as if they don’t have to do what Mommy and Daddy say.  This is the early form of rebellion.  This is the age when the discipline must begin in earnest.  Children begin to look for the boundaries. The literal endpoints of what is permissible.  It is WITHIN these boundaries that they feel safe.  They are upset by the spanking but in love, we explain at an opportune time why we do it.  We do it because love creates boundaries.  Love sometimes says no. 
So much recent controversy over spanking [corporal discipline] so that the experts are telling us that we must find a different way to discipline.  The Bible says that we shouldn’t withhold correction from children in fear that we will damage them [if you strike and punish him with the [reedlike] rod, he will not die. You will [however] save his soul from sheol  (soul is the mind, will and emotions saved from sheol, the place of torment). Your discipline MUST be provided in love.  I have seen parents in rage, or frustration strike and/or spank their children.  The effectiveness of the discipline is compromised then also.  For when children see you acting out of pure emotion, rashly,  without restraint, then they will behave in the same manner.  Your discipline must match your love in intentionality, and intensity.
You are indeed their role model. If you think you are fooling them, you are  fooling yourself.  They are watching you and they understand intent and trickery.  They will match the integrity they see in you.  If you expect them to humbly admit their mistakes, do you admit yours?  

We all need to avoid becoming the proud and haughty person who is such a know-it-all that she cannot be told anything. The person who will not listen to counsel.   And before you say, “Not my child. . . “, yes your child, is capable and acts out and if you didn’t discipline her or discourage her little spoiled tactics, your child will disgrace you – at school, or worse in the criminal justice system.  So many young people taking their cues from ignorant older people, disparagingly upset at the smallest inconvenience or slight.  Quick to anger, slow to listen, ready for a violent opportunity. 

As a father I have seen a certain sneakiness in my kids.  I know that I can be sneaky. I know my own rebelliousness and have seen it manifest in my children.  These are the best places I can provide discipline to help my child through battles and barriers that I have already faced.