Reflection for Palm Sunday 2017

The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

images“Hosanna! ”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the king of Israel!”

Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:

“Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;

see, your king is coming,

seated on a donkey’s colt.”

At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. –John 12:12-16 NIV

No, Jesus doesn’t ride into Jerusalem on a warhorse, ready to crush his enemies.  Rather, John says he rides in on a young donkey.  Get this: a donkey was an unclean animal, which had to be redeemed (Exodus 13:13). Yet it’s the King-soon-to-die transportation of choice.

We have so much to learn about the heart of Jesus.  Matthew says Jesus is gentle and humble in heart (11:29).

For Jesus, it sure wasn’t about pomp and glory–the things fallen mankind value so much and would do just about anything to achieve.

No, for Jesus, it was conquering the world through love–an unadulterated kind.

May Palm Sunday and the rest of Holy Week remind us all of the power of the gentle and humble love of Jesus, to change lives.

And may we seek to imitate the words and deeds of our Savior King.

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What do I think about the new Christian Standard Bible?

CSB_logo-300x143Since the online release of the 2017 updated version of the Christian Standard Bible (formerly Holman Christian Standard Bible), I’ve been spending significant time with it.  I’ve even gone to Google Play Store and downloaded the free app.

Here’s my conclusion thus far:

  • It reads like the New International Version (NIV) for the most part.
  • It’s the NIV for the more conservative American Evangelicals who have taken issue with the NIV.
  • If you have the NIV and like it, there’s really no good reason to switch to the Christian Standard Bible (CSB).
  • If you have the ESV but want something more readable and conservative, then explore the CSB.

I’ve also taken issue with the Why the CSB? page.  One English Bible Translation in 2017 is simply bearing too much burden!

It’s really not up to this or that Bible translation to address the issue of spiritual growth and why people are not reading as much.  Someone please inform the marketers of the CSB of this FACT!!!

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We Make America Great Again by being Stronger Together

ra,unisex_tshirt,x3104,101010_01c5ca27c6,front-c,650,630,900,975-bg,f8f8f8Let’s not forget where we came from.

This rhetoric of making America great again by instilling fear and hatred of the other is not what made America a great nation in the first place.  This kind of rhetoric only serves to undermine the greatness that has been achieved.

Furthermore, this kind of rhetoric does nothing to advance humanity.

And if the past is to instruct us in this matter, what made America a great nation is the contribution of those who came to its shores ever since its founding.

So shame on anyone who adopts and spreads this kind of rhetoric of fear and hatred.  And why do we think that the only way forward is to bring others down, especially those who look different than us?

Why not advance together no matter our differences?

Posted in Miscellanies | Tagged | 9 Comments

How does God give the Holy Spirit to those who Ask?

I’ve been spending time with Luke’s Gospel for a while now.  This morning I read the following and wanted to move on, but a question kept challenging me.  How does God give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” –Luke 11:11-13 NIV

For the life of me, I could only think of one plausible answer, an answer that makes the most sense.

First, Jesus defines time.  With his coming, we’re talking the in-breaking of the Kingdom, what theologians and biblical scholars the already-not-yet.  So whether we’re considering the immediate listeners while Jesus was on earth, if you will, or post-ascension listeners and readers, this mention of the Holy Spirit is eschatological.

Second, this giving of the Holy Spirit to those who ask only make sense if we’re talking Christ followers.  But why would Christ followers need to ask for the Holy Spirit who already indwells them (Romans 8:9-17)?

Third, and therefore, to me, the only plausible answer is the asking of the Holy Spirit for kingdom ministry–here and there.

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Worship: Like an Oasis in the Desert

Do you attend gathered worship each week as a performer or a receiver? What’s your approach to worship–whether private or gathered public worship?  I believe the answer to this question determines what you and I get out of worship each week.  At the end of the day, it really comes down to our perspective to the whole matter–our theology of worship, if you will.

Performance-Oriented

With this approach, focus is on what we do.  In this approach, we judge whether worship was worthwhile based on how great the worship team/praise team performed; how well the pastor preached, and so on.

This is where we find the church-hoppers, always in search of the “right” performance and new thing in town.

Open Hand-Oriented

83407-004-0A7E1974The place of worship is not at the top of your list-whether it’s the newest building in town or not.  The charisma of the pastor hasn’t entered your mind.  You’re not into the so-called worship wars–whether praise team/worship team or choir; traditional music versus contemporary music.  And this is not to say that biblical preaching and music do not matter to you. They do matter.

However, you attend worship with open hands to receive from God.  You understand (your theology) worship as a means of grace.  You attend worship to have the Lord minister to you.  Or if you’re in to metaphors, it’s like a weary traveler in a hot, miserable desert coming to an oasis–for relief and refreshment.

What’s your approach to worship?

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