Practical Proverbial, from 1 Timothy, 2 October 2018

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 1 Timothy 1:12 (NIV).

Imagine if God called an atheist to preach the Gospel.  Or if He called Louis Farrakhan (or an Iranian mullah) to preach reconciliation with the Jews. Imagine if a Alec Baldwin went on the Tonight Show to preach for reconciliation in the name of Jesus.

That’s Paul.   Think of the worst possible persecutor, the very harshest, the meanest guy you could meet and it was Paul.   He relished what he did for a living:   killing followers of “the Way.”   He was a zealous follower of the one true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and lived in His temple in Jerusalem.   That is, until a roadside meeting with that one true God shut, then opened, Paul’s eyes.   The persecutor became the persecuted, and every time that happened, he doubled down on it.   He gave thanks to Jesus for picking him, the most unworthy of servants, to become zealous for His message and carry it to places unknown.

Today’s verse changes direction from the last few.  Keep in mind that this change of direction happens right after Paul warns Timothy to avoid false teachers and properly invoke God’s law.  Paul has used the first part of his letter to remind Timothy that not everyone is for him…or Him.   Now he begins a section of different instruction, outlining God’s grace and how it is a unique gift from the King to preach the faith to people who need to hear it.

Not everyone is called to that calling.   I’ve never really felt it, other than the daily urge to write these word.  I can’t do much but I can do this.  Some pastors tell me that they innately knew they should become pastors.   One told me it was like God slamming shut every other door in his life until he walked through the ministry one.   Another seemed to relish being a pastor instead of “just a pig farmer’s son” (as if that’s something to be ashamed of…it isn’t).

No matter, to minister to others in the name of Jesus is a calling that I think each of us gets in our own ways.   Some get it to be a full time job.   Jesus molds our lives in unique ways.   Have you ever thought that there are 7.2 billion ministers for Jesus alive right now?   It’s true.   Yet not all know it, or Him.   So it’s up to us to use the gifts He gives us and the good fruits of His Spirit that are kindness, understanding, and love to help others along their way to Him.  Imagine if God called an atheist to preach.   Better yet, imagine how He’s calling you.

For further reading:  Philippians 4:13, Acts 9:15, 1 Timothy 1:13

Lord Jesus, all my praise to You for putting Your love on my heart to follow and preach You in my own way.

Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 21 August 2015

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10, verses 13-16.

We can all grasp the obvious hint from these verses:   have the innocence of children to receive the kingdom of God.   To receive Christ’s peace, be as humble, inquisitive, innocent, trusting, and believing as children.

Tell me:   do you think Josh Duggar can ever be innocent again?   Or Hillary Clinton?   Do you think that CEOs, union bosses, land-rich but cash-poor farmers, and insurance industry workers terrified about losing their jobs can ever receive the kingdom of God again like children?   What about the doctors in those Planned Parenthood videos, the doctors who scissor open baby skulls to extract human brains:   can they ever again receive the kingdom of God like children?   ISIS head-slicers, Jared Fogle, meth addicts in Indiana, angry looters in Ferguson, political consultants, and your neighbor who doesn’t take out his trash:   can any of these people ever receive the kingdom of God like children?

I’ll admit:   we believers don’t make it easy for the fallen to let this Jesus pick them up.   Pastors sometimes talk like oblique jerks playing “I’ve got a secret.” People like me are hypocrites; people like you may not follow through with the walk to match the talk.   Folks who hold themselves up as living to a higher standard fall hard, and other folks are watching: folks who may not know this Jesus and aren’t sure they want to if the best the faithful can do is us. No wonder it seems so tough for people to come back to the faith after they’ve fallen away.

Read up on those verses again and maybe key in on a few key words: “Jesus was indignant.”   He got downright ticked off that His disciples were preventing innocent, curious children from coming up to see Him. There was a larger lesson to teach and He wanted to teach it to the children so He could teach it to all of us.

If someone can’t get to Jesus, Jesus gets indignant about that.

You’ve heard the platitude:   you’re enough for Jesus to die for.   Yet it’s true.   It’s what He did; it’s what really happened. It’s not just something said to buck you up: it’s the God’s-honest truth. What’s more, when the world or the world’s inhabitants (like us) create barriers that prevent repentent, curious, humble sinners from coming to Him for forgiveness and healing, Jesus gets indignant.   Beware to those in His way.

Jesus wants you.   Jesus wants me.   Jesus wants Josh Duggar and anyone he flirted with on Ashley Madison.   Jesus wants Hillary Clinton and her server experts, Iranian mullahs, unemployed people, the woman who reads Tarot every morning, and every other kind of person you or I can think of to come to Him like innocent children and ask Him to simply love us.   When we do that, we find He already does and for a very long time now.

Lord, I come to You broken, hurting and needing You.   Forgive me and share Yourself with me, and help me to start again new today.

Read Mark 10, verses 17-31.