Not on Probation

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I had always assumed that the disciples were all called at the same time. I am not sure why I did this, I suppose it is because we think of them as a group. By not paying attention to the surrounding episodes I missed some import things that occur when each is called. Matthew/Levi specifically jumps out at me. I knew Matthew was a tax collector and no one liked tax collectors because of that I let the story go that far. However by reading the surrounding episodes I see a bigger picture. Matthew’s calling is recorded in-between two episodes of Jesus. The first is Jesus forgiving and healing the paralytic man, and then Jesus dining with sinners and saying that He has come for the sick and not the righteous. These three episodes together show that when Jesus calls you into service He does not call and place you on probation, but you get full rights. I have always thought of myself as accepted but being watched closely, however, that is not what Jesus did here. He spoke about forgiving and showed what it means when you are forgiven. Matthew was given full rights as a disciple, so am I, and so are you!

 

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The Sticky Situation

Today we have a guest writer, and she happens to be my daughter.

The wind howled through the window. The girl sat huddling her knees waiting for the storm to be over. “Knock Knock” “Come in dad” Emma said. “ How’d you know it was me” “Just a wild guess” “You seem scared sweetie is everything alright” Emma knew she’d have to tell her dad at some point “I’M SORRY!!!!!!” “For what” “Well, Last Tuesday I was at school in fashion design class when I over heard Ella and Maddy talking about Mrs. Koala asking them to design a KIosk for the Fashion Studio award winner grand finale.” “Um…. Who are Ella and Maddy?” “Ella and Maddy are the schools biggest fashion lovers.” Oh…. ok continue.” “ The next day as I walking home from school I saw a flyer stapled to are pink blossom tree in the front yard.

It was for the Fashion Studio Award Winner Grand Finale I was just like Oh great. Then I had an Idea I decided I would steal their KIosk and pretend it was mine” “ Well did you?” “Sadly the jealousy got to me and well yes I did! And I’m really sorry I know I shouldn’t have and I promise I won’t do it ever again” “Did you return it” “Yes, I returned because I felt guilty about it” “It’s ok is there anything else you need to get off your chest?” “ Dad, do you think God will ever forgive me?? I’m scared he won’t” “ Emma, does God love you very much” “Yes” “Then he will forgive you. But it’s your choice to accept it do you?” “I do and I’m sorry dad” It ok honey” “I love you” “And I love you Emma”

The End
This story is all about forgivenessand the love betwen God a father and daughter!!

Come Unto Me

The lone figure stands hovering overhead some twenty-five or thirty feet. He is easily recognizable as you know who He should be. Of the nine panes only four appear to have meaning. The first and largest is Jesus while the second contains three words that rests in a separate pane under Him and read “Come Unto Me.” On either side of Him sits a panel with figures, but it is not easy to determine the scene. The three panes that sit below these appear to be simple squares that serve only to elongate the large window while two others on top fill in the shape. The window itself is impressive in size filling just over half of the area above the three large double doors that lead into the sanctuary.

Inside the window takes on new life. Christ stands barefoot on a rock gently raising His arms. He has the typical European features you come to expect in a painting or stained glass window. His light brown hair is parted neatly in the middle falling just below His shoulders. His beard is well-groomed, matching in color, and style to His hair. A white tunic rests underneath a vibrant red robe. Gold colored trim breaks up enough of the robe as to not allow it to dominate the eyes. He stands upon a rock with small flowers behind on His right, and a plant of sorts behind Him to the left. Blue skies with white clouds hover behind Him in the distance. Sand and a hill further back in the image stop the sky scene from overtaking the background.

Below Him sits the three words visible from the outside. Inside they are clearer although backwards as they are designed to be read from out there and not in here. The lettering is simple, and the font bold. They are not meant to draw any more attention than required to read them. A white background serves as a highlighter pointing to the importance of the words. The border that showcases the words goes from brown on the outermost part to a multicolored mash-up, and then finally mostly blue. The purpose is to draw your eyes to the center of the box. Come Unto Me they read.

To His right three figures are seen. A man with a purple tunic and blue robe lowers his head in worship; he bows slightly with a bent knee in reverence for the king. A female figure next to him rests on both knees cupping her hands under her chin. She looks upon the Christ with love and wonder. The white dress she wears would have her blend into the part of rock she kneels on if it were not for her brown hair, and a brown head covering that rest on her shoulders. Another woman stands just behind her with a hand at the side of her own face looking down. The bright orange head covering that wraps her head and shoulders make her stand out. It would seem that this is Lazarus, Mary, and Martha.

To the left of Christ, four more figures are seen three of which appear to be men. The first man stands in a yellow outfit holding a staff in one hand while raising the other. His posture seems to be one of calling on Christ to say more. Perhaps he desires more than a simple command to come. Behind him dressed all in purple is a man standing in submission. His hands are folded over together, his are eyes closed, and his head is bowed in an act of worship. He is young and accepting of the Teachers words. The thought of John the disciple comes to mind when he is seen because of this.

In the middle stands another man. With a position higher than the others, and eyes fixed on Christ he stands apart from everyone else in the window. His large white beard with matching white robe, and forward leaning posture show him to be older, and possibly wiser than the others. By the way he holds his staff and his body he is no doubt an old shepherd who knows when to pay close attention. Could this be Moses?

In the background another figure is seen – the only woman on this panel. She wears a light green almost white outfit with a red robe similar to that of Jesus minus the gold inlay. Holding a hand on her heart, and the other slightly raised towards Jesus. If this is to be Mary, the mother of Christ then this would make sense because she treasured these moments pondering them in her heart. Does she adorn the red robe to show a connection with her Son?

The three panes below these are all the same minus some slight color variations that seem to be random. White stained boxes fill the majority of space. In the middle a blue box with red diamond shape gives the eye something to focus on. The green border around this continues to feed the idea of design not function. The top of the window also shows two separate triangular windows on either side that serve to only complete the style of the larger picture. It all sits nicely in a traditional arch.

Traditional arches, dark wood accents, and an appearance of lath and plaster gives the  impression that the building as well as the large window and the ones that line the walls of the sanctuary are at least a hundred years old. The truth, however, is that the building and windows are just over eleven years old. The original Baptist church that sat here burned down in late 2002, and what sits on the site now is all new. While it is new in material, the idea seems to be a remembrance of a simpler time. The bright colored windows, classic details, and simple styling seem to call two purposes to mind.

The first is to call back to what once was. To look back to a time when the old church is where the lost went for refuge, and the saved went to rejoice. Whatever your search, the large window and simple words let you know the journey had come to an end. If you were looking for hope the three words would tell you it could be found here. If you were looking to rejoice, the words reminded that this was the place to celebrate.

Crowds would gather on a Sunday morning after the service to stand under Christ with His open arms. They would mingle with each other talking about nothing and everything. Exchanging pleasantries in a relaxed manner. Overall the mood would be one of enjoyment and peace. No doubt some could not help but wonder as they stood under Christ. Wonder about how God could become a man. Wonder about why this man would give His life for them. Wonder if they had indeed come to Him, or if they just went to the church because that was what you did.

Others, who dared not enter these hallowed grounds on a Sunday would wait until no one else was near. They would wait until the Pastor was alone so they could seek counsel, knowing that the words that adorned the window were a call to them. They were a call to the drunkard who knew he had gone too far yet again. Words that called to the wayward seeker who needed grace. Simple words that seem to need almost no context to be understood as they speak to the soul, and not the mind. Even though they stood alone, they seem to flow from Jesus Himself.

Which points out the second purpose of the window, and that is of its placement. Not the placement of the window that is obvious enough. The window sits in the front of the new, yet old church facing the street. Facing all those who enter its doors. The question of placement is for the viewer, and their placement in the scene it shows. Where do they fit into the picture? With seven figures to choose from everyone can find their place, or more likely a few places where they fit.

While it may be that the people pictured are to represent Mary, Martha, Lazarus, John, Mary the mother of Christ, or any other biblical character they represent something more too. They represent us. Each of us is up on that window being called to Christ, and each of has a place there.

Maybe we are Martha who has spent time with Him and seen His marvelous works. Heard His teachings, and yet have been too busy to sit and worship. Could we be her sister Mary who sits in awe of the Teacher? Clinging to every word, just happy to be present? Perhaps we are Lazarus and have been brought back from the dead. We were once dead, and now we live, so we have nothing else to do, but bow before the one who gave us life. Could it be we are a combination of Mary and Martha where we once sat in awe, and now find ourselves so busy with His work we forget to just be with Him? With three people on this single pane there are a few options to choose from.

To go to the other pane, there are even more options and combinations. You could find yourself as the figure all in white who has been waiting for others to see the Christ. Years have been spent waiting for others to see Him, and know Him the same way you do. You have done all you can failing at times, but all the while wanting others to see Him as grace and truth. The man in yellow-what is he saying? Does he call on Christ to tell him more? Is he at a place where he is not ready to come to Christ, but at the same time knows he should not leave? Does he stand wanting to come, but he feels it is just too simple? Then, there is the man dressed in purple. His hands are woven gently together, and his eyes are closed because what he seeks cannot be seen. He has nothing to say, and nowhere else to go. He is in a place of surrender and enjoys receiving the words of his Master.

When we combine the people on the left and those on the right we are given even more options and combinations to choose from, and that is the point. Whoever you are, and wherever you find yourself, Jesus calls and says “Come Unto Me.” The people represent more than characters from the Bible-they are you and me. In some way you can find yourself in the window, but first you must look. Jesus stands on the rock calling out to all who might look to Him. His call is for all who would hear with no requirement or prerequisite. You must simply come.

Behind….

I have been so busy writing papers this semester I have not been able to write almost anything else. So the best I can do is share my school papers right now. I have a 12-page exegesis coming soon…

 

Trust the Promise

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Of the many promises made in the Bible, the best in my opinion has to be Jesus in John 14:18 where He says “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to.” To settle that Jesus promised we will not be alone should change the way we view things. This promise is really also an echo of Deut 31:6 where it says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

We are not alone, we are not orphans, and we have not been abandoned. Jesus left the earth but at the same time He never really left. He sent the Comforter to be in us, to guide us, and to show us. We as Christians have that this is not a question. The question is will we use it?

Just a thought,

Mike