Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 14 November 2017

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Hebrews 13, verse 8.

You know it’s true:  you might as well just say “amen” now (which actually means “this is most certainly true”).   Verse 8 is one of the foundation verses of the entire Bible.   It’s the explanation, motivation, and reason for everything.   There’s a Maren Morris song that mentions old time country music as “my church.”  It’s explains life; it’s always great; it’s always the same; it’s always there to uplift a sad soul.  I agree with some of that; “can I get an amen?”

Here’s something that merits an amen whether Maren sings about it or not:  Jesus our Savior is the same person He was yesterday as He is today as He will be tomorrow.  Can I get a hallelujah?

Wrap your noodle around this truth.  When everything around you is changing (and the only constant in this crazy world is change), Jesus is.  The great I AM is.  As you feel like your feeling careen around like a pinball, Jesus is the same.   The same Jesus who talked one on one with John, Peter, and even Judas Iscariot is the same Jesus who speaks to your heart today.  In science, gravity and time are constants.   Everything else changes, and you can even vary the effects of both time and gravity even though they are standards.  Yet Jesus is the same.  He is the same no matter the temperature, the time of year, or the phase of the moon.  Yet Christ is more than science; indeed, He invented it, inspired it.   Christ is beyond our science, and beyond our puny religion.  Jesus is the same whether you’re a Baptist, a Hindu, a Shiite (or Sunni or Wahabi) Muslim, or a card carrying atheist vegan who loves Crossfit.   He’s the same Savior we think about when we sing “Jesus Loves Me” as little children or “The Old Rugged Cross” as old people.

Consider, too, that this statement comes at the end of the exhortations where the writer has given us concluding thoughts.   He wants us to remember that, no matter what advice we give, the founder of all advice is Christ.   The source of all wisdom is Christ.   The reason for all we know is Jesus.   And when the world gets sideways as it always does, Jesus is still there just as He always was/is/will be.  Maybe the Doobie Brothers summed it up:   “I don’t care what they may say.   I don’t care what they may do.   Jesus is just alright (oh yeah).”

He’s just alright.  He’s just in time.   You can count on Him.  We should sing about that.   Can I get an amen?

I have a friend who is going through a particularly rough time right now.   He just left one job, and his family situation is all in turmoil.   My friend has always been plagued by darkness and has become one of the more hopeless people I know.   No faith, no grounding, he’s lost his way and is miserable.   Some of it is circumstances beyond his control; some environment; some the past; and some of it is his chickens coming home to roost.  Just last night we were talking about his having no identity, and I asked him to call me when he’s ready to seek it.  To call me because there’s really only one place to find your lasting identity.   It’s at the cross.   It’s there and only there that we can lay down our weapons, our guilt, our fears, and our pride and be renewed in both spirit and mind.

It’s because the Jesus we find on the cross is the same Jesus who walked on water is the same Jesus in the Word is the same Jesus listening to our prayers today is the same Jesus who loves children is the same Jesus who will judge the world.  He’s the same God no matter what.   When my friend sees his world collapsing around him and he feels bereft of all that’s good, by going to the cross and meeting the same Jesus there, he can begin again and move in a different direction.

I’m not a pastor.  I sometimes wish I had some of the knowledge my pastor friends have gained.   If not the knowledge, then maybe a little of the wisdom.  When people come to me and ask about why I believe what I do, all I can do is paraphrase C.S. Lewis who said that he prayed because he couldn’t help himself.   I believe in Christ because I can’t help myself.  Everything else I’ve sought in this world has left me wanting and hollow.  Yet I go to Jesus and see that He’s the same as He always is.   That helps me to realize that He’s the God I crave, the God I want to follow, the leader I want to emulate, the unchanging Savior I desperately need, and the friend I want to always cherish.  Jesus is just alright because He is ALL RIGHT and is always Himself.   Can I get an amen to that?

For further reading:  Psalm 102:27, Hebrews 1:12.

My Lord, this is most certainly true:   You are God.   You are the only constant in the universe.   You are good, worthy of praise, and all life.

Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 17 June 2015

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Mark 9, verses 2-4.

Jesus gives us just the right amount of time.   Or, as the Doobie Brothers (or the Byrds) might have said it, “Jesus is just alright with me.”   He’s alright because He made it alright at just the right time with just the right amount of time.

Riddle me this, Batman reader: was six days enough time for Jesus to prepare His close friends for what they would see?   Truth be told, we don’t know if He prepared them in any way.   We don’t know if He said or did anything that said to them “get ready for something you’ve never seen before that will challenge everything you believe about Me.” In fact, other than as a frame of reference, we don’t know why verse 2 even says “after six days.”   Perhaps it’s a moot point.

Or perhaps not.

You see, it’s just the right amount of time for them to begin to reset their minds from the verbal bombs Jesus had dropped on them about taking up their crosses and losing their lives for Him.   We’re human; we need to unpack and process.   What had happened before was an emotional, physical stress, so Jesus gave His friends enough time to process it, and then (like Emeril Lagasse), He kicked it up a notch.

So Jesus takes them up on this mountain and rocks their world; the Doobie Brothers would have played along in good rock and roll harmony; David Crosby would have just smoked pot. Jesus did it for them (and us), you know.   The whole transfiguration wasn’t for Himself, and it wasn’t for Moses or Elijah.   They had already seen Jesus in His heavenly splendor.   No, it was for the disciples to see and draw faith…then for each of us to do so as well.

And that continues to happen at just the right time. Every now and then I need a little gift of encouragement; every now and then I would love to see a little hint of Jesus’ splendor. But you know my feelings about miracles:   they happen every day.   Yes, I really would love to see Jesus face to face and just fall to my knees in reverence, but I honestly believe Jesus also shows us sides of His personality every single day through everything around us.   Rainbows in the sky (themselves reminders of God’s covenant), newborn babies, the smile on the face of a friend, a few minutes of quiet solace in a hectic day, blades of grass and the beauty of mountains:   the list could go on and on of all the ways Jesus pulls back the curtain right in front of us to give us a glimpse at just the right time of who and what He really is.   More and more, I’ve come to believe that appreciating beauty is the lens through which we view the personality and splendor of God.   That happens at just the right time and usually just when we need to see it the most.

Amazing.   Just alright with me, in fact, no matter who sings the song.

Jesus, thank You for encouraging me with Your beauty at just the right time every day.

Read Mark 9, verses 1-13.