30 September 2013

Encountering Jesus ~ Incognito

Do you ever read a passage of Scripture you know you've read many, many times before - but all of a sudden, you notice things you'd never noticed, read things you've never really read, asked questions you'd never thought to ask, and seen connections you'd never seen before?

That was what happened when I read... and studied... these first 14 verses of John 7 over the course of this past week. 

After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him. 
Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” 
After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee. 
However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?” 
Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” 
Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders. (John 7:1-14)
At the end of the last chapter, Jesus must have been a bit discouraged - humanly speaking. People were murmuring about Him, Jewish leaders were complaining, people just didn't seem to be getting what He was teaching, many of His disciples had walked off, Peter couldn't didn't reassure Him that the twelve who remained weren't also tempted to leave ... and Jesus also clearly knew that one of those twelve would become His betrayer. 

Then this chapter opens with Jesus traversing around in Galilee. He chose to remain there rather than return to Judea (at that time) and face certain confrontation with leaders among the Jews... the same ones who were making plans to kill this man claiming to be the Bread of Life. The ATS Bible Dictionary[1] says the following about Galilee and Galileans: 
[They] were accounted brave and industrious; though other Jews affected to consider them as not only stupid and unpolished, but also seditious, and therefore proper objects of contempt (Luke 13:1, 23:6, John 1:47, 7:52). They appear to have used a peculiar dialect, by which they were easily distinguished from the Jews of Jerusalem  (Mark 14:70). Many of the apostles and first converts to Christianity were men of Galilee (Acts 1:11, 2:7), as well as Christ himself; and the name Galilean was often given as an insult, both to him and his followers.
For the Jews who thought they were someone or were going places, Galilee was not the place to be. Yet at this time, it was Jesus' choice. That's a good reminder to me that sometimes the best place according to my human wise-ness (or lack thereof - especially if my reasoning has to do with ladder climbing or other similar behavior) will not necessarily match up with the place God thinks I should be. One of my blogging friends - her husband frequents brothels as an investigator, hoping to identify and to help trafficked children... not generally the kind of place to hang out when you are wanting to win friends, influence people - after all, what if the wrong person saw him. Yet that can also be exactly the place to be if your desire is finding people desperately needing and hoping for rescue. Jesus made a habit of hanging out with people who only damaged His worldly reputation - maybe I need to be spending more time with people who are uncomfortable for me, who come from different worlds, who challenge my perceptions of quality friendships... We all must feel like that to Jesus.

As I wrote above - if I'd been standing in Jesus' shoes, I think I would have been battling discouragement at this moment in time. Then, adding insult to injury, his own family turns on Him. I wonder if He was talking with His siblings, sharing pieces of the journey on which He was embarking and they just got tired of hearing about it. I wonder if they were fed up with being the brother of that dude everyone else wanted to meet because he was always doing the miracles... and they were sick of it... and jealous... and thought He was genuinely too good to be true and the uppity older brother... and each time they heard another story, wanted nothing more than to grind their teeth or spit.

I mean - what's to say I wouldn't have said the same... done the same... It is a lot easier for me to look back and sit in judgement on Jesus' family from my vantage point. What will people see in my life some day as they look back. Will I be known for all the times I didn't believe? Didn't respect? Tried to convince Him of a better, different plan? Tried to manipulate Him? ...that list could probably go on and on

So His family leaves for the feast. Jesus stays. His reasoning? His time had not fully come.

Then sometime in that seven days, either His time did come or something changed because He left incognito for the feast. And I wonder about His family then - did they end up thinking He's was just a bit flighty and inconsistent? Were they mad? Did they feel like He told them one thing and then turned around and did something totally different? And I think back to all the times I've wondered and asked myself those same sorts of questions of the Lord. 

As He wanders about, He hears the Jews searching for Him - secretly trying to gather information. He hears others whispering that they believed the best about Him - some who chose to see beyond what made sense to the things that only the Holy Spirit could open their eyes to see. He also heard others who despised Him.

And no one would say more than a secretive whisper because everyone feared what the Jewish leaders might do - to gather information from someone suspected of knowing His locale... to stop the growing interest and growing movement away from the powerful, controlling legalism of the Jewish leaders.

So many questions - and perhaps the biggest ones of all:

With whom do I most identify in this story...??? And why?

[1] American Tract Society Bible Dictionary

this week's gratitude list
(#'s 4227 - 4252)

good news from a friend

learning a new song with my girlies

hearing that family from out west will be here for Thanksgiving

hearing the dr say that the swollen gland in her neck that has been there swollen since 2009 does not appear to be a cause for concern

4-birthday girl birthday party at the park on a too beautiful to believe September afternoon

that no one was stung by all the yellow jackets hanging around to enjoy the party as well ('specially since Rebekah Joy forgot her epi-pen)

bright red leaves

bright orange leaves

golden orange-y yellow leaves

brilliant green evergreens interspersed among those other colors

falling leaves


many birthday wishes

unexpected gifts

a dozen red roses

a Winnie-the-Pooh card that makes me smile each time I look at it

a "sniffy" card that makes me laugh when I see it

almost an entire night of uninterrupted sleep

3 day week coming up

finding out about an upcoming special event at a Detroit church

"Torrents d'amour et de grâce, amour du Sauver en croix..."

sleeping in while the rain patters and pitters on a Sunday morning

successfully making doughnuts here in the States - using the despised by me electric range

the season premier to THE MENTALIST - and we didn't have a church meeting so I was able to be home to watch it... yay!!!

birthday convo with my boy

...who will be home in 1.5 weeks now... yay!!! double yay!!!

Ten most recent posts in this series: 

29 September 2013

~ Before ~

The whole difference 
between construction and creation is exactly this: 
that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; 
but a thing created is loved before it exists.
~Charles Dickens~

28 September 2013

They were begging to stop and wander the banks of the river... so we did!

As we piled out of the van, we saw a sign that said trout could be seen jumping and fighting their way upstream to spawn...

...of course we dreamed that we might actually see a grizzly catching those trout...

but in reality, we knew we'd be happy just seeing some fish.

I think, though, that we all expected to see the same thing we saw in Scotland when we stopped where the Atlantic salmon were supposed to be making their way upstream (and peak season was supposed to be June)...

Nothing except cold water tumbling over rocks and winding through mountains!

We were surprised... look below...

While we didn't see the fish actually jumping their way upstream, we did find them resting in the eddy - about 6-8 large (yeah... like much longer than the length of my forearm large) trout. Can you see them?

In case you are wondering, I did crawl off the path and underneath the "deck" we were standing on to get the two close up pictures.

We hung around for awhile, hoping to see them start moving, but nope.

But we did see them... and some pretty amazing bugs as well.

That's another post!

27 September 2013

Five Minute Friday ~ True


So this is what it looks like after nearly 5 weeks straight of camping...

10 in a tent
long days in the van
some truly getting ready to be home
wherever we are going to end up defining it.

not pretty
actually, some were pretty grumpy this morning
because we had to break camp quickly and hit the road because we had 
many, many, many miles to cover
and we were already looking forward to a hotel the next night

Jon-man absconded with the camera - and took most of these photos
not sure why on a lot of them,
but these are what I found on the camera

 and so there are shoes and flip flops and leaves on the ground and the electric cord
plugging in my struggling to charge computer...

it was also our least favorite campground - the tent was next to the pet run
our site was about the only one the wifi signal didn't reach which made scheduling that
earlier mentioned hotel a bit of a challenge

so there you have it... a pretty true set of photos of our family camping...
the really early morning after sleeping on the hard ground in a tent grumpy!

26 September 2013

You SHOULD be ashamed of yourself ~

Have you ever been told that?

I have.

Apparently a lot of other people have, as well.

And it doesn't seem to be anything that anyone anywhere ever likes to hear.


doesn't seem to be anything that anyone anywhere ever likes to feel.


I agree. I hate being shamed. I hate feeling shame.

(On the other hand, I can't claim I'm completely above shaming - or trying to shame -someone else... More on that, later...)

And lately, it would seem the church (at large) has determined, almost militantly to remove any and all concept of shame...

That is wrong. That is sad.

It is, in fact, something to be ashamed of... We've become ashamed of the fact that without Christ, His sacrifice and His gifting of His covering to all who will simply ask, we ARE infinitely shameful. That sounds a lot like the Gospel. It's a fine twisting of what God gifted as a powerful tool to drive us to Him.

Afternoons this year, I have Mary Michelle, who only goes to school half days... and also the privilege of her cousin - who comes to play while her mama works.

Earlier this week, they were watching Tom and Jerry while I was trying to get some work accomplished around our house. The TV is back in our bedroom, so I poked my head in and told them I had to run downstairs, pull the dry stuff out of the dryer and put the wet stuff in, and then start another load of laundry. When I ran down, I discovered that I'd forgotten to start the dryer the last time, so I pushed the button and came back up to discover that my sweet girlies had closed the bedroom door. I've already learned that a closed door often means kids up to no good... 

When I opened the door, those sweet little girls were clearly up to no good. I knew it, but more importantly, they knew it and instantly, completely, their shame clothed them like a garment... before I ever said a word... before they even turned heads to see the look in my eyes. All it took was the mere sound of mama opening the door and walking in the room, and immediately, shame swaddled them in their knowledge that the one to whom they were accountable had witnessed a depth of their depravity.

Shame is a bad word in American culture at large... but also in the evangelical church. A well-known, very popular blogger whom I read from time to time (I often appreciate what is said, but struggle with the way it is written) recently wrote: 
Jesus stands on the side of the broken, the outcast, the scandalous. He sees us at the very core of creation, naked and unashamed, meant to walk in a garden now locked to humanity. He sees us, hungry for knowledge and starved for love, eating from the first tree in front of our faces, plucking the fruits of deceit and selfish ambition, snacking on lust, stuffing ourselves with greed, sucking away at vanity. And still He comes to us without condemnation - without shame.
Shame is a byproduct of a dying world. It's a shackle that binds us to our brokenness. It is Shame who first points a finger and cries out, “Look at you! You're NAKED!”, and tells you to run and hide. Shame warns you to cover up, hide your junk, don't get caught. Shame clothed us in fig leaves and nestled us in the bushes; shame led the way right out of Eden, and still it barricades the door. 
If you believe shame is the pathway to obedience, I'm sorry, but your gospel is twisted. Shame is no friend of Jesus. 
I agree that much of what is written above is truth. 

Shame is not the pathway to obedience. Jesus does stand by the broken. He can and does see each one of us as we could be without our sinfulness and shame. Shame is a byproduct of a dying world... 

...but we cannot forget that this world is dying because man choose sin and disobedience and man continues to make that very same choice time and time and time again. Shame socked Adam and Eve right in the gut and in that doubled over place, they recognized their nakedness and shame. More importantly, shame showed them they were naked and that covering was desperately and absolutely needed to stand in the Presence of the High and Holy One. 

People can't really shame us, though they may try... But they don't need to... All they can do is lovingly or hatefully remind us of what we already know. I found it interesting that the very first mention of shame in the Bible - Genesis 2: "And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed."  - refers specifically to the presence of shame as we stand in the presence of other men and women... not shame as we stand before a holy God.

Apart from Jesus, we ALL blatantly wear our shame, all of the time. We try to cover it up with gorgeous words, good deeds, great sacrifice, grand giving... but like the fig leaves Adam and Eve "coutured," our deeds, done at our own initiative to keep others from seeing the realities of our heart are nothing more than attempts to preserve an image, gain favor or convince others to believe a lie... and they are woefully inadequate to earn any favor with God. 

Frankly? That is why we need Jesus - Only He can cover shame... I cannot deny the powerful benefit of recognizing my shame, because it is often what motivates me to run to Him...

Christ alone replaces our shameful sin sullied robes with His very own...

His robes for mine: O wonderful exchange!
Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered 'neath God's rage.
Draped in His righteousness I'm justified.
In Christ I live, for in my place He died.

His robes for mine: what cause have I for dread?
God's daunting Law, Christ mastered in my stead.
Faultless I stand, with righteous works not mine.
Saved by my Lord's vicarious death and life.

His robes for mine: God's justice is appeased.
Jesus is crushed, and thus the Father's pleased.
Christ drank God's wrath on sin, then cried, "Tis done!"
Sin's wage is paid, propitiation won.

His robes for mine: such anguish none can know.
Christ, God's beloved, condemned as though His foe.
He, as though I, accursed and left alone.
I, as though He, embraced and welcomed home!

I cling to Christ and marvel at the cost.
Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God.
Bought by such love, my life is not my own.
My praise, my all, shall be for Christ alone.

--Chris Anderson/words 
--Greg Habegger/music


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