too much

Seriously? This much for one day? I don't think it is possible for me to do justice to the great material in this chapter. So, I'll not comment on everything that is on my mind. (If you want to dig into some thoughts I'm having about verses 38-42, google Walter Wink - the third way. You'll find a lot of great material there...and you will find yourself frustrated and encouraged and ...)

One of my favorite parts of Jesus' teachings is found here in chapter 5, verses 13-16. This is good stuff, and a great challenge to us as followers of Christ. We are salt and we are light. If we don't 'taste' good, if we've lost our saltiness, we have missed something. We should 'taste' good in the way that we live and talk in the world. We should shine because of Who lives in and through us. These things should be externally evident. But it isn't just because of the external. Salt tastes a certain way because of the chemical makeup. Light has visible qualities because of the source. In the same way, we are salty and shiny (shiny, happy people everywhere...) only because of an internal change. We can act like salt and light for a time, but if we aren't composed of a substance that creates the saltiness and light, it will not last. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is that internal source - He is the One that changes us. If we aren't salty and shiny, maybe we need to look internally rather than simply working on the externals.

I hope you 'taste' good to those around you and that you bring some light to someone's day today. If you follow Christ, if you have the Holy Spirit within you, you are salt and light. May we be salty and shiny people.


Two things...

Two things jumped out at me this morning. There is a lot packed into this chapter, many things that could be pulled out. For me, there are two things Jesus says that are invitations to you and me.
1. Follow me. This was the call Jesus gave to the disciples. And this is the call that we have before us. Notice that Jesus doesn't say "Get your life cleaned up, straightened out, then come interview as my followers." He doesn't say "Jump through these hoops, say these things and you can be in." He simply says "Follow me." It is as if Jesus is saying to people in that day, people today, and everyone in between, "Just hang out with me for awhile and see what happens. I think you'll be convinced that I am who I say I am and that this is the best possible kind of life." I love that invitation.
2. Repent. This one has all kinds of religious baggage wrapped around it, so it is difficult for us to grasp what Jesus was saying. Jesus wasn't calling everyone to suddenly enter into a confessional booth and confess all their sins. He was inviting people to consider the direction of their life and return to the kind of life God had created at the very beginning of time. Repent...or maybe return would be a good translation. If you can, try to forget all the things that enter your mind when you read the word 'repent.' Then, think about what the Garden of Eden might have been like. Jesus invites us to return to that kind of life.

So glad you are taking this journey with us. My prayer is that we aren't just reading, but that we're chewing on these Scriptures, in an attempt to digest them into our lives. May you and I be changed as the Spirit brings life to these words.

And, may you enjoy discovering these words as life, whether you are reading them for the first time or the 5,000th time.


Looking Back Looking Forward

The Scriptures have some depth that I often overlook. I've read chapter 3 of Matthew many, many times. And I've even taken a cemetery course on it (or did I mean seminary? I can't remember). There are things I just miss. However, I love when I do wake up to something that has been there all along. Today was one of those times.

Matthew was written to a Jewish audience. In other words, Matthew was writing to a group of people who knew Genesis - Deuteronomy very well (and the other books of the Hebrew Scriptures...but we know they knew the Torah VERY well). One of the foundational stories for the Jewish people was the Exodus. The story of the Israelites, their ancestors, in captivity, led by Moses out of slavery, through the Red Sea. Yet, they were stubborn and ended up in the desert for 40 years. So salvation (in one sense) came to the Jews through Moses, but the people didn't fully step into a life with God. In Matthew 3, we read of Jesus going down to the river (I wonder if John the Baptist lived in a van down by that river?) to be baptized by the John the Baptist. Matthew definitely ties these stories back to some of the foundational Jewish stories. Do you think Matthew could be tying this story back to the Exodus so that the Jewish readers would come to know Jesus as the true salvation? Jesus in the Jordan River to the Israelites in the Red Sea? If so, it would seem that the next story in the story would be Jesus heading to the desert like the Israelites did. The Israelites spent 40 years in the desert. I wonder what chapter 4 will hold tomorrow. I wonder if we'll see the number 40 there.

Like I mentioned above, the depth of God's Word is amazing. And even though we read it over and over, it seems to me that God's Spirit can continue to teach us and guide us and shape us. May that happen to you and to me as we read.



I am trying not to post something every single day. I'm just extremely stoked that so many are up for this New Testament challenge ... I can't help myself! I'll soon slow down a bit.

Something very simple hit me this morning as I read Matthew 2 with the family. In some way that I can't explain or completely understand, Joseph heard this message from God: leave Bethlehem for awhile and come back later. I don't know if it is my personality or my desire for control, but it would be very hard for me to pack up my new wife and brand new baby to take off for some foreign place. But Joseph did. We don't know much about Joseph, but he teaches us a very simple lesson. Obey. Don't talk yourself out of it, don't reason God's voice away...just obey. Simple.

I know there are those of us who are saying, "Well if God showed up in the form of an angel and spoke to me, I'd do whatever He said. God just doesn't speak to me." Here's the deal - God speaks to us more than we realize. We just don't do a great job of listening. I'm as guilty on this as anyone. I believe God speaks to you and me through 1. His Word and 2. each other. The take away for me on this busy morning (my day is full of meetings) is to slow down.....listen.....and then obey.

May you and I hear God's quiet voice speaking to us in the chaos of this world...and may we, like Joseph, say with profound wisdom in our voice, "OK."


Matthew 1

This morning, as our family read chapter 1, I was struck again by who was listed in the genealogy. In this culture, women were nothing. They held no status whatsoever. Yet here, as Matthew begins his account of Jesus' life, he includes 5 women - Rahab, Tamar, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary. We know that Rahab and Ruth weren't even Jewish. As we read from our perspective, it is so easy to miss this subtle truth: God invites every one of us - no matter who we are, where we've been, what we've done - into his story. God doesn't look at us like we often look at ourselves (I'm not good enough, I'm such a failure, I hope people like me, I need to prove myself) and He doesn't look at us like others look at us. God looks at us as a treasured possession, His very children, chosen, adopted into His family. You and I are invited into the story God is writing in our world. Rahab, Tamar, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary all stepped into what God was doing in the world. Will we?