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Posts Tagged ‘Disciples’

The other day in my post, The Gateway to the Soul , I wrote about our eyes being the lamp of the body. Today I am focusing again on eyes.

In our household we have a variety of eyes. There is our ‘faux son’ (an International student who we parent while he is here) from China whose eyes are a deepest brown, almost to the point of black. My oldest daughter, son and hubby all have blueberry eyes, simply the bluest blue I have ever seen. My younger daughter and I have eyes that, although are blue, can change color, depending on our moods and what colors we are wearing.

There is not much sweeter thing in life, for me, than to look into the eyes of those I love, and see them staring back at me … of course if we are in the midst of battling each other we are still eye to eye, but it is not so pleasant.

Looking into another person’s eyes is truly an intimate act.

In the Bible’s story of Peter walking on the water to Jesus, we get to see the power of eye contact.

So, the disciples are out in a boat, after attending to more enormous crowds who had come to see Jesus … and they didn’t pack a lunch! But Jesus had compassion on them, and worked His magic, and voila … from two loaves and five fishes, a meal for five thousand!

Back to the boat …images

Jesus sent His twelve out in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, and he climbed back up to hill to pray, and be alone with His father (aka. Father-Son time), saying He would meet up with them later. I have to say, I really wonder how the twelve thought that He was going to meet up with them? Surely they did not expect Him to come prancing on top of the water? What were they thinking?

Later that night, they see a really bright light out on the Sea. Remember this is before lighthouses, so this was not a normal sighting! They thought it was a ghost, a spirit … something not good.

Jesus identified himself. Then Peter, oh Peter, said something like, “if it’s really you, tell me to come to you,” so Jesus invited him to catch some waves.

Peter stepped out of the boat, and was actually doing it, he had heard Jesus words, looked to where He was, and stepped out of the boat, “but when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30). Peter could not have “seen” the wind if he had not taken his eyes away from those of his Savior. His little faith was not in his fear, it was that he moved his eyes off the one who could calm the storm inside of him.

How often do I take my eyes off the one who can keep me afloat? In my relationships? My finances? My future? When I keep my eyes fixed on my only hope, I stay afloat. Bad things still happen, but I have the constant reminder that if my eyes are on Jesus, I will not drown.

When we can look into the eyes of another, we are trusting our view to the other person, we are in a sense making ourselves vulnerable, giving our time and attention to the other person. Looking into another person’s eyes is truly an intimate act.

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When I hear the word truth, that classic movie scene above is what comes to mind.

There is much to be said about truth.

Nations have risen and fallen over truth, and lies. Businesses have thrived and died with it’s presence and it’s lack. Homes have been fortified and divided over the same.

Truth is invisible, yet it’s absence stares a person in the face and sticks out it’s tongue.

For some telling the truth comes easy, and for others it is a most unnatural thing.

According to Dictionary.com, truth is “conformity with fact or reality.”
Maybe it is the conformity part that is such a struggle for some? If we have to conform to have truth, that sounds like we are giving in, rolling over, acquiescing. It sounds like truth is not something that comes naturally, but, instead comes from making a choice.

In John 8:31-32, Jesus said to a group who had claimed to believe in him, “if you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.”

Stick with this …
Living out what I tell you …

That sounds like he is telling them that they need to make a decision, that they need to make a choice to either conform … or not, and if they do choose to conform, they they would experience the truth that sets them free. Another way to put it might be the way theologian John Wycliffe did, in the 1300’s, when he said, “I believe that in the end the truth will conquer.”

Conforming is not an easy thing, because it means abdicating our will, and lets face it, we like to be in control of our will (and almost everything else). But, to conform to truth … and yes, I am talking absolute truth, that is not conforming, that is having a gold paper wrapped gift, with a beautiful silver bow on top, handed to you by one who only ever wants the best for you.

And the best, is truth.

Can you handle the truth?

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I recently got to go to a great concert, by the group Switchfoot. It was something I was so excited about, and they did not fail to impress me.

It was extra special because my oldest daughter came along with me. I could not have gone with her a year ago, because the venue they were performing at was a nineteen and over ballroom, and she would have been too young then.

On the day of the concert I was speaking with a good friend (one who I respect greatly) about the concert that we were to attend later in the evening. I had expressed my excitement over my concert plans, and appreciation that a group of Christians would take their music to the ‘secular’ public, and be enjoyed by them too.

Then she shared her perspective. Her perspective was that the Christian group was “selling out”. That they were watering down their message to the point that it was no longer distinctive as a message from or about God. That they had no place in the mainstream music market.

According to Wikipedia “selling out refers to the perception that someone is compromising their integrity, morality, or principles in exchange for money or “success” (however defined). It is commonly associated with attempts to tailor material to a mainstream audience.”

As one who is drawn to those who are believers in Christ, who integrate their personal faith, and Biblical principles for life without staying within the sanctuary of  ‘church’, I had to chew on my friends opinions. After all, one of my favorite movie quotes of all time, by Laverne, a gargoyle in the Disney movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, “you can’t stay cooped up in here forever.” I might even say that this quote by a stone cold, fictitious character is a (loose) paraphrase of Mark 16:15a, “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

Jesus said those words to his disciples when they were huddled all together having an early church potluck. They had gotten word from Mary that she had seen the risen Jesus … and they did not believe it. Then they had heard from another pair who had also seen Jesus … and they did not believe that story either.

These men, who had received their seminary training from the Son of God himself, were not able to muster the faith to believe that God could do the humanly impossible with the one they knew (or did they?) to be the long awaited Messiah. Was it because Jesus had not revealed himself to them personally first? Was it because they felt that they had the only right platform for Jesus to show up to?

Finally, after Jesus showed up at their potluck (notice they did not go out looking for Him), they believed in the risen Jesus. Mark 16:19-20 says, “after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them … the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”

Even they, who had been taught by the Savior himself, had to have their own eyes and ears opened to Jesus presence. Maybe, even today, Jesus and His message of hope, need to be taken OUT OF the church (go into the world) to be shared with those who are blind and deaf?

I am planning on chewing on the words of my friend a bit more. I respect her, and her views, and I know that I do not know the answers to every question.

When the lead singer, Jon Foreman, thanked people for coming and allowing them to share their songs of hope, I smiled … because I knew, what the group’s musicians knew, that God was in the house, and you would have to be deaf and blind to not see and hear His message of hope.

(song lyrics from pictures: “Your Love is a Song”, “Only Hope”, “Meant to Live”, “Red Eyes”)

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I re-encountered a teaching the other day that gave me a fresh perspective on the way Jesus thinks and teaches.

The teaching was on the story of Jesus feeding the crowd of five thousand (John 6:1-15) with five barley loaves and two small fish. The crowd had gathered after seeing and/or hearing about his miracles of healing. He had healed the blind, the mute, the lame, the leper and the dead … definitely the stuff of attention getting!

As this crowd was forming near Jesus and his disciples, he says to Philip, “where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” (John 6:5) Now, I was not there, and have never been to the Sea of Galilee, but I am pretty sure there was no 7 Eleven near by, or even a bread vendor. Jesus really is asking a redundant question, because what he is doing is testing Philip, not asking for a suggested shopping place.

The following verse confirms this, “he asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do” (John 6:5).  This was the unit test, and Jesus was looking to see if his followers had been paying attention.

The first response came from Philip, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” (vs.7). Philip was being practical, I like that. Sadly, it did not reflect the unit teaching on the power that Jesus had, through his father, to do all of the miracles he had performed. So, sadly, Philip pulls off a fail.

The second response came from Andrew (Simon Peter’s brother), “here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Now he is offering a solution that is practical, but he is not sure how so little could meet the needs of so many. Hum, maybe pass him, but just barely a pass (or, if I was punny, I might say, ‘barley’ a pass … but, I digress).

Then Jesus gave instructions to his disciples about how to go about sharing the small offering, after he gave thanks for it. He gave thanks because he knew who the small answer to prayer was from. He also knew that any offering, no matter the size, that was in the hands of the redeemer, could be multiplied exponentially.

When the masses were satisfied, Jesus gave further directions, “gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted” (v. 12-13). The disciples did as they were directed (maybe with their heads hanging, for not paying attention to the miracles performed in recent days), and when they were finished they had filled twelve baskets with the left overs! They were given more than they ever hoped for or dreamed. And that is the abundance that God lavishes on us.

It is easy to read this story and, like when I was a kid, focus on the bread and fishes. I think though that the lesson had less to do with the sustenance that food provides, and more to do with reliance on our heavenly father that sustains us in daily life.

Too often we hear of a need, and our response is towards the practical. We listen to the person, we give them money, we invite them to church, we help them find professional counseling, we bake them a cake, or take them a casserole. Maybe what we should do, first, is take their need to our heavenly father, and ask Him to provide the sustenance that satisfies.

“Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that.
Work for the food that sticks with you,
food that nourishes your lasting life,
food the Son of Man provides.
He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.”
John 6:27

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