Saturday, January 30, 2010
I picked this rendering of Jesus because He is laughing. (I don't know who drew it and apologize for using it without permission.) Most historic religious imagery of the Lord shows Him serene, serious, ethereal, other worldly, in agony, or sad. I know that He was the suffering Savior but he was also 'anointed with the oil of joy above his companions' (Hebrews 1:8-9). People need to see a laughing, joyful, happy Jesus to round out their understanding of God!
Jesus is the source of our joy and as King of the universe, is seated on a throne having been anointed with joy. "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions" (Psalms 45:6-7).
In Acts 2:15-21 Peter defends the behavior of the 120 gathered in the upper room at Pentecost when Holy Spirit came. "For these are not drunk as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day, but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:...'I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh'". Peter also identified the source; "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear" (Acts 2:32-33). Therefore, in Acts 2, what was seen and heard and callled drunkenness, was poured out in a form that we could call the oil of joy. Jesus Himself poured it out and it came directly from His throne. Go figure!
Do you have room in your theology for a laughing Jesus? Laughing because "He that sits in the heavens shall laugh' (Psalm 2:4)...laughing because "He endured the cross, despising the shame, for the joy set before Him" (Heb. 12:2)...laughing because the One who knows the end from the beginning, who has infinite wisdom and power, who proclaimed 'It is finished' while dying on the cross, who overcame death and was raised from the dead, can laugh in the face of any problem, because He is Lord of all, and He is the answer...to everything.
Once again let me ask you, "Do you have room in your theology for a laughing Jesus?" I hope so. Knowing Him this way will change your life.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
I remember back in my College days in the late 60's early 70's that being Southern was not popular. Racism had marked our history and Southerners were often depicted as ignorant backwoods red necks. In my generation during the 60's and 70's it became popular to express what was considered to be a new kind of freedom. Those who did became known as hippies, grew their hair long, and did drugs and tried to talk differently. I did some of that myself. It was considered hip. Many of my college friends even began speaking with a Northern affectation, as though that made them more intelligent, more sophisticated. Being Southern was not cool.
Many of my college friends were from New Jersey, were great guys, and took me home with them one time. One of their fathers delighted in calling me 'Little Abner', the stereotypical Southern bumpkin. He congratulated himself for making such an astute and humorous observation. I was not amused. Over the years I noticed something about my northern friends. Almost none of them moved back home after graduation. They liked it too much down here. Makes you wonder...don't it!
A number of years ago my mom and dad moved from Charlotte, NC into a retirement golf community situated on Lake Wylie across the border in South Carolina. When some of the residents transplanted from places like New York, Chicago, and other parts up north, questioned her very Southern drawl she reminded them where they were now living, that she was born and raised in the great state of South Carolina, and spoke that way all her life. She informed her imported friends, "I'm not the one with the accent. Y'all are!" That went over well.
Peter and most of the original 12 apostles were Galileans and spoke with an accent that the metropolitan Pharisee elitists despised. Interestingly enough, to the Jerusalem crowd the Galileans were Northern redneck fishermen. Even a servant girl could identify Peter as one of Jesus' followers because of his accent: ..."And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, "Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it (Mark 14:70)." Every generation faces the same issues. How will you estimate the worth of a person and will you live a genuine life.
I am not a racist, not backwoods, not a supporter of restoring the Confederate flag, not a Christian because I was born in the Bible belt, never been a member of the KKK, do like grits and biscuits, like to go the beach in the summer, wear buttoned down collared shirts, khaki pants, and shoes without socks, but speak with a distinctly Southern accent, and have no thought of trying to change it. As for me and my house we are Southern and being Southern is cool, ...if you are Southern.
This brings me to the real point I want to make. It is essential for each of us to discover who we are and to live authentic lives. Now, no one should defend poor behavior or boorish activity and claim that it is part of living authentically. Bad manners should be identified for what it is, disrespect and poor breeding. But, affectations adapted for fear of being criticized and changing who we are to please people is a fruitless endeavor. It is living to men at its core, -seeking their honor. Jesus said He did not receive honor from men and that those who do would not have functional faith (J0hn 5:41-44). He sought honor from His Father and His Father honored Him, with the ability to help, heal, deliver, and transform people's lives. We need to do the same.
Enjoy who you are, where you come from, and who God has uniquely made you. It is one of the fundamental keys to power.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Jesus used the idea of drinking from a cup as a type of having an experience as He did when responding to the request to have the chief seats in the eternal kingdom made by the mother of the sons of Zebedee. Mark 10:38 records, "But Jesus said to them, 'You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink'...?"
There are cups to drink -life changing experiences to have. Psalm 116:23 says, " I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord". Taking up the cup of salvation speaks of one practical way to experience salvation. You drink it! Jesus Himself used the idea of drinking as a way to experience the life of God. He said; "If any man is thirsty let him come unto Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive..." (John 7:37-39).
Living water is like a spiritual wine, and something any thirsty person can obtain from Jesus. Outside witnesses concluded that the recipients of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost were drunk. They weren't but had partaken of what Jesus had promised. Peter determined that those who were acting drunk were under the influence of the Holy Spirit...'these are not drunk as you suppose...but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel...I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh..." (Acts 2:15-17).
Where does this leave you. It is time for you to drink. Psalm 23:5 tells us that our cup runs over. Drink from the cup the Lord has provided. He will fill you, intoxicate you, and change you.