Thursday, April 29, 2010


“Jesus taught in parables to make his teachings easier to understand.”

No, Jesus specifically said that he taught in parables so that the people would NOT understand (Matthew 13:10,11) in fulfillment of a specific prophecy (Matthew 13:13). Even his disciples had to ask him what he meant by the parables. Later one exclaimed, "Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech”.(John 16:29) Jesus’ meanings were hidden to the Jewish people with the exception of the few(relatively) who followed him. (Matthew 13:10,11)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Use Words If Necessary

“Preach the gospel always; if necessary use words.” St. Francis undoubtedly meant that you have to live the gospel, which is very true though his radical lifestyle would have really stood out. However, Francis was no Trappist (of course) and had plenty to say or we wouldn’t have so many of his quotes!

Today (amazingly) words are always necessary in proclaiming the gospel. I’ve met very nice and helpful Hindus and Buddhists. I’ve known Muslims who believe in being very moral and hospitable. So unless you tell people why you do what you do(and don’t do) they won’t necessarily know that you serve Jesus and that they can serve him too. However, words alone aren’t enough and can quickly lead to hypocrisy.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

“Forgiveness, An Act of the Will”

“Forgiveness is an act of the will, just make up your mind and do it whether you feel like it or not.”

Yes and no.

Yes, we disciples of Jesus are commanded to forgive (those who repent-Luke 17:3b,4) but to settle for a determination of the will is to stop dangerously short of Jesus’ command.

Jesus summed up his parable of the wicked servant who, though he had been forgiven refused to forgive his fellow servant with this stern warning, “In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive from your heart.” (Matthew 18:34; emphasis added) The apostle Paul added that everything we do must be done in love or it’s nothing—worthless. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

“The Wonderful Cross”

Imagine, if you will, that you had an older brother with whom you were really close. One day you began crossing a street without seeing a speeding truck that was headed straight for you. But your brother saw it and threw himself at you to knock you out of the truck’s path. You thankfully were saved but sadly, your brother was killed by the speeding truck.

In the realization that you were saved by your brother’s sacrifice you’re at the same time thankful yet devastated by the loss. The pain is dulled slightly by the discovery that your brother had named you as the beneficiary of a great inheritance.

In your desire to always remember what your brother did for you, do you wear a gold truck around your neck and proclaim, “O wonderful truck”? Of course not, you would tell everyone about your wonderful brother!

So why focus on a cross? The early church understood that our focus is to be on Jesus and not the cross as they did not use the cross for symbolism or art; some sources say that such use was forbidden. They saw the cross as what it was, a cruel instrument of tortuous execution by an oppressive empire.

While Jesus said that he laid his life down—no one took it from him, (John 10:17, 18) he didn’t like the idea of dying on a cross and asked his Father for another way (Matthew 26:36-44). If anyone were to have a spiritual ecstasy over the cross, you’d think it would be Jesus but no, he was miserable at Gethsemane, miserable when he was beaten and miserable on the cross. It was “for the joy set before him [that he] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”(Hebrews 12:2) The cross was neither the object nor the end; Jesus endured the cross for what was on the other side! Yes, Jesus did say that we are to “take up [our] cross” (Matthew 10:38) as parts of the popular song that has the line “O the wonderful cross” say--to deny our sin nature and to rejoice when we’re persecuted for his name. But chances are that if you’re thinking the cross is wonderful--you’re not really carrying it.