Friday, January 26, 2007


What a year so far. Two stories of God’s great protection.

Yesterday Juli and Brittany were in a bang-up. She was coming down an icy hill to a stop sign at a major crossroad. There was not a chance of stopping though she did slow down quite a bit. Just barely nosing out into traffic she sent another car into a spin and off into the ditch about 40 yards down the road while she and Brit spun around into the ditch.

No one hurt. Need a new bumper, but that’s replaceable. My darlings are not.

Around the first of the year my father, down in Alabama, had a similar experience. The end result was a totaled car as a vehicle tore off the entire front end. To add insult to injury, when the mechanics went to restart the car, it exploded and burnt it to a crisp. Now he's driving my sister’s little white pick-up, (affectionately known as “Tighty-Whitie”) until he gets a new vehicle.

But God is good and has shown His Grace again.

Psalm 91:9-11 GNB You have made the LORD your defender, the Most High your protector, and so no disaster will strike you, no violence will come near your home. God will put his angels in charge of you to protect you wherever you go.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Hail Caesar

In my short 33 years of experience living this life I have come to see Christian Spirituality as very paradoxical. So many truths about God seem to work contrary to the intellect of natural life. For example, I was pondering thoughts the other day of the Early Church and the Apostles. Their whole message to the 1st Century World was one of Hope, Peace and Love.


Yet how did the world respond to such an outlandish message? They were all persecuted, imprisoned and martyred for their faith in Jesus the Christ. I have a hard time getting my mind around this. Christianity in its purest form was not a threat to the Roman Government. Jesus and the Apostles taught to submit to authorities because God has placed them there, pray for the king, pay your taxes, and live at peace with one another. The church was marked by caring for the poor and needy, i.e. free welfare for Roman Citizens. How could they not get it? Why such a severe response?

Check out Acts 23-26 where we see Paul on trial before many different characters of varying authority, both religious and civil. First he’s brought before Ananias the High Priest who orders someone to strike Paul in the mouth. Paul outwits him by retorting with a strong comment about God doing the same to him for not following the Torah’s legal procedure. Then someone points out that Ananias is the High Priest.

What is Paul’s response?

Respect. He backpedals for not realizing the position of Ananias and quotes the Torah, “don’t speak abusively to a ruler of the people.”

About two years later, having been imprisoned the whole time, he is brought before King Agrippa. Look at the amazing respect he shows and the gentle way he talks to him. I have to believe Paul didn’t see an evil Son of Satan sitting before him but rather a person who needs to experience the Love of God and the life-change only Jesus can bring. Because of Paul’s love and respect, Agrippa actually says he was close to converting!

Paul dies by beheading around 65ad during Nero’s Persecution of Christians.

What a paradox. The message of Love leading to Death? Jesus’ own life exemplifies the same, as do the lives of thousands of Christ followers over the last 2000 years.

I’ve come to learn the problem with Christianity in the Roman Empire was that it threatened the Caesars’ pride. Here is an excerpt from Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell:

The world was ruled by the Roman Empire, and the Roman Empire was ruled by a succession of emperors called Caesars. The Caesars claimed they were sent by the gods to renew creation. Caesar Augustus believed that as the son of god, he was god incarnate on earth, the prince of peace who had come to restore all creation. He inaugurated a twelve-day celebration called Advent to celebrate his birth. Sound familiar? His priests offered sacrifices and incense to rid the people of their guilt. One of his popular slogans was “There is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved than that of Caesar.” Another phrase they used often was “Caesar is Lord.” Throughout the Roman Empire, the Caesars called on people to worship them as the divine saviors of humankind, and a city that acknowledged Caesar as Lord was called an Ekklesia.
We translate this word ekklesia as Church in the New Testament! So often in this life men’s pride works directly against the will of God, His love and plan for humanity. Even the church herself at times has gotten in the way of the Truth as pride is allowed to rise up in us.

Was it just the Caesars who had this problem? Was it only the corrupted church leaders of the Dark Ages? Perhaps a bad experience with church leadership in your lifetime? Or can we all be found guilty of letting pride take shape in our lives?

Has pride stopped you from growing closer to God?

What will people think of me? How will this affect my friendships? My family? If I sell out for Christ people may label me a freak or an extremist, a close minded person. What about my past? What if people find out what kind of person I have been? Maybe it’s better just to stay low key with my faith. Who am I to make others feel uncomfortable because I let my faith leak out in front of them? By loving the rejected person at work everyone else might lump me in with them as a loser. On my job, integrity makes everyone else feel threatened. Just go with flow. That’s how it’s done around here…

It takes courage to walk by faith. It takes courage to be fully submitted to Jesus. It takes courage to love like He did.

Love takes courage and humility.

Hail Jesus!