Tag Archives: relationships

If it is of God… Acts 5:29, John 20:19

[for the audio version click on the above icon]

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who join Thomas saying to Jesus “My Lord and My God!” said … Amen!

We now have this pretty interesting conflation, two different perspectives have started to see Jesus as something much more than what was imagined. The leaders of Israel seem to be rethinking what they did to Jesus. Thomas straight out asserts Who Jesus is “My Lord and My God!” Gamaliel was a very important man at the time. Luke, the writer of Acts, singles Gamaliel out by calling him “a teacher of the Law held in honor by all the people. The Jewish Encyclopedia says: Gamaliel was the son of Hillel who is still one of the leading authorities on Jewish law and is quoted by many people today. He was the head of the school Hillel in his time succeeding his father. “Gamaliel, as it appears, did most toward establishing the honor in which the house of Hillel was held, and which secured to it a preeminent position within Palestinian Judaism soon after the destruction of the- Temple. The title “Rabban,” which, in the learned hierarchy until post-Hadrianic times, was borne only by presidents of the highest religious council, was first prefixed to the name of Gamaliel.”[1] Much later on in Acts, Paul seems to take special pride in being a student of Gamaliel’s. (Acts 22:3) He gets a lot of notice in Acts, during the early church. If he is proceeding with caution against the embryonic Christian church, then he must have some idea that Jesus is who He says He is.

The amazing things that have happened, certainly culminated in the Resurrection of Jesus, leaves little doubt as to Jesus’ claim to be God. Gamaliel had to have been part of the court that condemned Jesus. I would guess that Gamaliel fell right in line with the majority consensus. Caiaphas proclaims to the leadership that this man, Jesus, must die to save the nation. No thought is given that there might be something a lot more compelling with Jesus, that He might be who He said He was. The concern was with the preservation of the status quo; Israel, it’s leadership and maintaining their way of life. As highly regarded as Gamaliel was, he certainly followed the party line. While we know that there were members of the Sanhedrin who objected to the illegality of the proceedings to try Jesus, Gamaliel wouldn’t have been one of those objectors. If he had objected the Sanhedrin might have at least backed off from condemning Jesus to die and might have even decided to do something else regarding Jesus.

The paradigm has clearly changed for the leadership in Israel. They thought that they were dealing with a nuisance that would burn itself out. They tried, and for the first time in history, killing a man didn’t make Him go away. It seems Gamaliel is hedging his bets a little, but it’s pretty clear that he sees Jesus as a lot more than being an ordinary man. Gamaliel compares Jesus to Theudas and Judas the Galilean. It seems though that Gamaliel is taking Jesus a lot more seriously than Theudas or Judas, neither one of them rose from the dead. It seems that the leadership is trying to prevent a panic. They’re trying not to acknowledge it, but clearly there is a new archetype and they know that they can’t just make the problem, Jesus, go away. They hope that they can, but now they have something much bigger than they expected while trying to avoid setting the rest of Israel off, that Jesus is who He says that He is.

The difference is that while Gamaliel is trying to hedge, not set off a rush to Jesus and still not taking Him seriously. He seems to know the truth, but as so many people do for so many bad reasons, Gamaliel is trying to save his position in Israel. The disciples, as Luke writes, know the truth, they know that there is no other option, they are beaten and we know how brutally Jesus was beaten. Maybe the disciples weren’t beaten as badly, but you know that they suffered more than enough that they shouldn’t be back out on the street rejoicing and teaching and preaching about Jesus. They knew the truth and saw there was no alternative to Jesus, the Sanhedrin was still trying to play its political game with its own people, the Romans and irrational as it sounds God, even though Gamaliel certainly had some perception that Jesus and his disciples were more than the garden variety revolutionaries of previous years.

Clearly John is continuing to emphasize that Jesus is much more than what most people seem to want to believe. Thomas declares it: “My Lord and my God!” Jamieson writes: “He is overpowered, and the glory of Christ now breaks upon him in a flood. His exclamation surpasses all that had been yet uttered, nor can it be surpassed by anything that ever will be uttered in earth or heaven.”[2] This is not some gratuitous acknowledgement, Thomas was completely overwhelmed and was utterly sure who Jesus was. Meyer writes : “ It is a confessionary invocation of Christ in the highest joyful surprise, in which Thomas gives the fullest expression of profound emotion to his faith, which had been mightily elevated by the conviction of the reality of the resurrection, in the divine nature of his Lord. The ὁ κύριός μκὁ θεός μου was the complete and highest confession of Messianic faith,” This is the first time when someone really addresses Jesus as God. For those who like to question who Jesus was and whether He claimed to be God, here is where someone is declaring who Jesus is. It may not be bragging if it’s true, but it’s more credible when someone else is declaring the fact. And again, there are plenty of places where Jesus is readily understood by those He is talking to as to who He is. If it wasn’t true, wouldn’t Jesus lift Thomas off his knees and set him straight? If it wasn’t true Jesus wouldn’t have just let Thomas’ comment ride.

We are His disciples. We see Jesus is making it very clear that Jesus has the authority to and intends for us to take what the disciples then and we who are His disciples now, that we aren’t to just go back home as if it’s all ending. He makes it clear to His disciples then it’s only beginning. He tells them, and us, that the Father sent Him. He has been sent to us to take His word, His life, what He has done for us dying for our sins and then resurrected to give us eternal life, that it isn’t for us to keep to ourselves. Matthew 28:18, John 20:21, Acts 1:8, Mark 16:15, Matthew, John, Luke and Mark all report that Jesus came to send us to tell the entire world about the salvation that Jesus gives us. In John He reinforces this message by giving them a preview of Pentecost. “He breathed on them.” The Greek word the hagios pneuma, the Holy Spirit, pneuma meaning the movement of air, the breath of His Body. He is giving them the Holy Spirit to strengthen them and for them to understand that they constitute His church. As He does by giving them the keys of the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 16:9, He is empowering His church to not just bring the Good News to the world, but that Jesus is empowering His church to save people to the Kingdom, but to also make it clear to those who aren’t saved and that His work is done through His disciples in His church.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom

[1] http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/6494-gamaliel-i

[2] Jamieson-Fausett-Brown Bible Commentary on website  http://biblehub.com/commentaries/jfb/john/20.htm

The world does want to undermine your morals.

This nonsense that the secular world doesn’t care what you believe, “you do what is right for you”, but don’t tell us if we’re doing somthing obviously wrong , particularly in terms of messing up their lives. Let me put it this way P.T. Barnum was right the world is talking total nonsense, the world is very much determined to undermine everyone and really wants everyone to be a rutting animal. Hey, I have my own issues, I don’t need some of the real characters that have somehow made it almost obligatory that people should be having sex and despite their rhetoric, seems as people should be as young as possible, to have sex. Yea, look it up, there are attempts right now to lower the age of consent in some states to as low as twelve years old.
We have Tim Tebow and Olivia Culpo. Ms Culpo decided that Mr Tebow wasn’t getting her into bed and broke up with him. Apparently this isn’t the first time that she’s broken up with a man who would not have pre-marital sex on the basis of moral and religious scruples. Good for both of those very manly men. I wouldn’t mind in the least if my son were Tim Tebow, someone want to give me grief because my football star is still a virgin? Well let’s just say I don’t think it would be a wise move on their part, I will happily let them know what I think of their morals, “men” who are just out to use women. Of course the idea also occurs to me why more women’s rights types would be like that, but frankly I really don’t think they’re that concerned with the welfare of women in general. “You do what you want”, they say, “but, if you get in trouble, don’t come running to me.” Single parent women led households are almost all under the poverty level. God set it up for a man and woman to committ to each other, over and above their children to marry and support each other. When they do, poverty is far less likely, children are raised in an environment where they are supported, protected and cared for and they do have a chance to live a Tim Tebow life. Doing it the worlds way, usually just creates hate, bitterness, “my baby’s mommy, my baby’s daddy”. Money, time, blah, blah, all this hate and bitterness because two people couldn’t wake up to the fact that they were not capable of taking care of themselves no less a child. They love the drama but “eh”, to the responsibility. and believe me I’ve been dragged into enough to know.
Then there’s Sheldon Cooper. I sure don’t agree with the character a lot, but I gave him credit, again based on principles, (although I’m not sure where they were based), but nonetheless, despite intense pressure, also finally gave in. (I think that’s after ten seasons of the Big Bang Theory?) Yea, the main-stream media had to make sure that their character was dragged down into the moral abyss.
My other example is even more obvious. These middle-aged frat boys on WEEI radio in Boston, the morning drive time pontificaters, were absolutely excoriating a woman Olympic athlete who was a virgin at thirty years old. It is apparently the only problem they had with this woman, who they otherwise commended for being a tremendous athlete, obviously an Olympian, but were highly indignant that an unmarried, attractive, 30 year old woman should have the colossal temerity to not have sex before she was married.
So any delusion that you had that the schools, the government, media, video games aren’t trying to undermine you, your spouse, your children, grandchildren, I strongly suggest you get over your delusion or your so open-minded high-mindedness. The world is positively indignant when someone says that sex is only in terms of marrying a man and a woman. Sure, people won’t like it, because they will feel the sin on them. That’s not your problem, that’s their’s. Luther once said to preachers: “Preach until they hate their sin or they hate you.” Yea, that’s really the way it is. If they hate you, they hate you, it’s not your problem it’s theirs. But we can’t continue to go along with this naive idea that the world is not trying to undermine us. It is turning too many people into just callous, indifferent, stumps, they just don’t care. They want you you in the same moral sewer and to endorse their sin and if you don’t it’s because you’re mean and bigoted. And frankly the resulting social problem is supposed to be handled by the church. This goofy idea that’s evolved that it’s all about the relationship? I’m not saying break relationships, but I am saying the most important relationship any of us has is with Jesus. If someone asks you to compromise your relationship with Jesus in order to condone their unacceptable sexual relationship, it’s time to let that person know in no uncertain terms where you stand. If they cannot accept it they will dump you and you should let them go.

Relationship with Jesus is relationship with His church

Anyone who is to find Christ must first find the church. How could anyone know where Christ is and what faith is in him unless he knew where his believers are?

Martin Luther

One of my big pet peeves, I don’t need church, I just go worship God my own way, if it all. This idea that God owes me for all I’ve done, hey great I’ve been. When they list it out, have to tell you not very impressive, and God is never going to be impressed. He gave us His Son, and folks Jesus is the only way and to be in Jesus you have to be in His Body, which is His church. “…for most of Christian history, a relationship with God was inseparable from a relationship with the church.” (Tish Harrison Warren “The Church is Your Mom” via Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics in Leadership Journal Summer 2015 p 16) I can just not get over this attitude that each person seems to expect personal treatment according to their whims. They expect the church to be there for them, but they have no responsibility to anyone else it’s all about them.
This is Jesus’ church He told us that He would build His church on this rock. But no that’s not good enough, it’s our way or no way. Guess what, it’s Jesus way, His church and don’t let your attitude fool you into believing it’s about you, it’s about Jesus and His church.
“Most believers over the last two millennia – Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox alike – would deem spiritual life without the church as incomprehensible and impossible as biological life without a mother.” There can be no communion with Jesus unless you are in communion with His Body, the church. Those who think they can make it up on their own are sadly deluded and despite what they think, they are not in communion with Jesus. Jesus establishes His own church and then decides to make millions of exceptions and still have His church serve those exceptions??? I’d like to see how you work that deal with your oncologist. Sure I have cancer but you have to come to me, or better yet I will do it on my own at home and fix it. Folks you have cancer, sin! As we’ve said the church is a hospital for sinners. You can chose your own way and die for eternity, or you can trust in Jesus’ church to life everlasting.

Vocations ultimate purpose.

Just finished Patrick Morley’s book A Man’s Guide to Work I got a different perspective that I wanted to share that emphasizes how God is at work in all the parts of our lives. Yes, that includes work.

“What is the ‘main thing’ that God is always doing in the world? It’s bringing people into right relationship with Him and right relationship with each other. To achieve this God has established four universal purposes for us – two for relationship and two for tasks.

  • The Great Commandment: To love God (Matthew 22:37)
  • The New Commandment: To love one another (John 13: 34)
  • The Great Commission: To build the kingdom (Matthew 28: 18-20
  • The Cultural Mandate: To tend the culture (Genesis 1:28)

The Genesis reference is God telling Adam and Eve: “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

While I’ve never really thought about Genesis 1:28 in terms of our work, but reading it I can certainly understand.

Morley goes on to write: “The marketplace is the great arena of human events – innovating, manufacturing building, buying, selling, serving customers, making markets. And the main thing happening in your work is that God is sovereignly orchestrating all the seemingly unrelated occurrences of your day to bring you – and the people you touch – into right relationship with people.

This is the ultimate purpose of work: to bring people into right relationship with God and with each other.”

Morley built one of Florida’s 100 largest privately held companies. I have no doubt that he’s been there, done that and for him to recognize what the marketplace is, that it is certainly included in God’s sovereignty helps me to live and confirm that to those I reach out to.

As much as I see people try and compartmentalize their vocation and their Christian faith, the fact is God is in control of all. He uses your life in your vocation to work on you, and to work through you to reach others. Based on my own experience the faster your adjust accordingly, the more your life will change. It might be better, it might be more difficult. But if we are talking relationships, the one you have with the Father trumps everything. You will find that joy and assurance of being in His will. If you’re priorities are in order, God first and then His will for the rest, life might not be “fun”, might be tough, but it will be an adventure. At the end we hear from Him: ““His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” What is most  important? And as Morley points out: “He doesn’t leave it to human will or effort. Instead, He sovereignly oversees His plan purpose.” (Romans 9:16)

We get together for a mid-week break, the coffee shop at the corner of Beaver and W King Sts, you’re welcome to park behind the church at 140 W King and walk about fifty yards. Wednesday mornings 10 am, I will even buy your first cup of coffee. If you have any ideas for a group of Christians to share their lives in the workplace, please let me know.

Action oriented, not afraid of risk, being what you need to be in Jesus.

I will be frank here, I’m not really sure where I’m going with this and I’m not sure there is a definitive destination. I wouldn’t be surprised to get feedback that “wow”, that was five or so minutes out of my life I’ll never get back.

Back hey, lets rush in, where angels might fear to trod.

“Gallup identified three basic leadership styles and determined the dominant style of each CEO from the Inc 500 and national sample.” (Inc Magzine Sept 2014 p 31)

The chart compares “Activation, Strategic and Relational”. By far, Inc 500 CEO’s are more on “activation”, then the other styles. Activation is described as “Action oriented, focused on results, unafraid of risk, forceful, pushes people to improve, high expectations.” If I was to pick anyone in the Bible that I’d describe as an entrepreneurial, risk taking, CEO type. It would be St Paul. Yes, he was relational, but I really think that it was in terms of results. He had no compunction about confronting, he repeatedly said we should rebuke, exhort. He wasn’t bashful about pushing on people and people at all levels of society.

“ESV 1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.”
We might think that Paul was being a little crass. I really read this passage as saying: “I will do whatever it takes to get the results (within the law). But what is the real point of getting those results? Now I’m not going to say that Paul “led” someone to Christ, that he converted people, however you want to state it in Reformed theology. But let’s just say in terms of being used by the Holy Spirit to witness to others to Jesus. Sure Paul could, although I’m sure he wouldn’t, claim to have all these converts. But clearly, he was used powerfully by the Spirit in order to bring thousands to Christ in his relatively short ministry. In an era where there was no mass communication, transportation, lacking a large organization, Paul showed up in a city and within what we can guess was a short period of time, established meetings, designated leaders and, essentially built churches.

Did Paul build relationships? Absolutely. I don’t see how you can be a leader and not build relationships as a part of the efforts to establish an organization. Feel free to tell me I’m wrong, but I think that when people start to associate with you in a common cause, they are more motivated to help to establish that organization, then they’re concerned with building a relationship. In fact I would submit that, especially for guys, that relationships are built as a result of the efforts put forth for the enterprise to grow.

Paul said that he would do whatever it takes in order for someone to come to Jesus and to be saved in Him. Sure there’s a relationship involved, but I don’t think Paul was particularly concerned whether he had a “relationship” with each person. The goal was for them to know Christ as Savior, if a relationship grew out of that, and they certainly did, so much the better. But the goal for him and should be for all of us is to do what we can do in order for someone to come to know Jesus.

If Paul was in the corporate world and made promises such as “I am made all things to all men,” it might even seem somehow unauthentic. “Do whatever it takes to make the sale???” I suppose, but… What is the goal? The emphasis seems to be in building relationships and I understand that and that would be highly desirable. I’d love to have an active, deep relationship with everyone in my church. I’m not sure that everyone would want that in my church, but that would be the ideal. But would that be achieving the ultimate goal? No.

Let’s face it, there’s no guarantee that I will wake up in the morning. I’ve lost two brothers, both younger then me. I have no assurance that I will be able to build a relationship with someone else. Even worse what happens if they die without any evidence that they are in Jesus? Hey if I don’t wake up in the morning I know that I will be in the presence of the Lord. Can I say that about everyone I know? No, I can’t.

Yea, relationships are great. I think that they are really the result of people who share goals and dreams, instead of people who are unequally yoked? Yes, there’s certainly something to be said that you don’t want to make someone a “project” and you certainly don’t want them to feel that way. There has to be a sense of urgency, is it really ever too soon to know Jesus as Savior? Life can be too fragile and when we lack of sense of urgency, we can fail to faithfully follow how the Holy Spirit leads us.

It’s not a hard sell and I know that. I think it is frankness, candor, putting it on the line and knowing that what you say will be rejected. Remember, they’re rejecting the Holy Spirit, not you. It’s the Holy Spirit who puts us in the presence of those He wants us to witness to.

Inc CEO’s put aside fear of risk, they to push people to improve (can you improve in salvation? Salvation is a vast improvement over damnation!) and they have expectations. Let’s have high expectations of the Holy Spirit, if He leads us, as He led Paul, to “be” what was necessary to “be” in order to show Christ to others, then let’s have a sense of urgency and follow the Spirit’s leading.

We need to always keep in mind, that we cannot drag anyone into the Kingdom, it certainly will always be the work of the Holy Spirit. But if we are being urged by the Holy Spirit and we do not put into action what He is leading us to do, we take the risk that we have failed. We can sin as much by omission as we can by commission. We aren’t on commission, for those who are baptized in the Name of Father, Son and Spirit, when we hear the preached Word and study the Word, when we take the Body and Blood, we are saved in Jesus. But we aren’t being faithful to Him who died for us when we put off pointing others to Jesus.

I’d like to talk about it more. We meet Wednesdays at 10am at the coffee shop corner of W King and Beaver St’s in downtown York, Pa. Feel free to park behind the church, I’ll even buy your first cup of coffee. Just look for me.

We are always looking for outward sources not to to Holy Spirit within us

We spend way too much time looking for things outside ourselves for inspiration. Sure God puts things around us to inspire us, but it is a mistake to only rely on that inspiration and ignore what the Holy Spirit is trying to impact you with. He is indwelt in you and He is trying to inspire you directly, in a way that uniquely impacts you.

It helps me to wait on His inspiration, I try to put it into prayer that I want Him to move on me and guide me. it seems as though He gives me the inspiration/emotion/drive and then helps me with the words, but never seems to tell me how I should write or what I should write. He’s guiding the writing, but not micro-managing. He’s leaving it to me to fill in the substance, but always with His leading, His Spirit.

Im not trying to get all mystical on people. I think it makes perfect sense that if we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit that He will find many ways to express Himself through us. Not compelling, but in a way that helps us to maintain our relationship, which is a way among many ways.

Tough love, ya even Christians need to show tough love, but with the love of Jesus

I really think this article in Inc Magazine is very pertinent for everyone, but should be readily understandable by managers who are Christians. We’ve all heard the phrase “tough love”, but Issie Lapowsky points out that maybe we should be aware that there should be a balance between tough and love: “…research shows that tough love can be an effective form of leadership provided one strikes the proper balance between “tough” and “love”.  (Feb 2014 pp 46-47)

Lapowsky points out what we as Christians should be striving for: “The challenge is to set high demands while still being supportive. ‘When you build a relationship on trust, then the majority of people are OK with tough love,’ says Christine Porath, a professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. ‘They’ll rise to the occasion; some thrive on it.’

Frank Poore the founder of CommerceHub,… talks about how he will push his employees, but wants them to push back, he challenges them and wants them to defend their positions. But he also points out that he never makes it about them personally.

I agree, I want people to take a position, I want to find where people are. Ya, I guess it’s not playing into the kissy-kissy type of mindset that we have in society, but I think relationships grow with candor. I’m not trying to challenge, so much as I’m trying to engage, show how much I’m interested, because I’m pretty much always interested. In addition to challenging, anyone in leadership should be curious about pretty much everything. I don’t want to pry, but I do want people to feel comfortable confiding, I do want people to think that I’m someone who is interested and a good listener.

Too often I’ve seen managers/supervisors belittling a subordinate. OK, if necessary, you go back into a private space and candidly, but again not personally discuss what the problems are. If someone takes that personally, well, can’t do much with that. Frankly there are too many people who think that anything short of unqualified praise is a personal attack. Those people are going to have bigger problems than anything I’m going to be able to deal with, other than in a pastoral context. Even then too many people think of pastors as feel-good generators, sometimes you should even when they are wrong, but tough-love is as valid for pastors then anyone.

We all, ya pastors included, don’t like rudeness, respond to it poorly and are much less productive. That should be pretty obvious, but to too many people it’s not. Are we being critical because we are truly concerned, because we want to help? Or are we being critical just to benefit our ego? Jesus pushed on those around Him to strive to be best and often He had to show tough love, let’s learn from Him and try to emulate Him in the workplace and in every part of our life.

We still take some time during the workweek at the Green Bean Coffee shop corner of Beaver St and W King St Wednesday 10am, park right behind the church 140 W King. Look forward to meeting you or hearing from you. God bless.