{re}fresh

Tag: jesus

Who Do You Say That I Am?

by Robin Puchala

Image by Sharon Tate Soberon
Flickr.214856471_018da61906
CC BY ND 2.0

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am”? Matthew 16:15

Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” What would prompt a question like that? In Jesus’ timeline it is growing close to His crucifixion, but His disciples are unaware of this. Jesus has been teaching them for almost three years and they have shared life and broken bread together hundreds of times.

Earlier in this chapter, Jesus gives them valuable advice for their future, ”Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees”; but the disciples miss the point — they are still thinking with their natural minds, so they think He is making reference to the bread they haven’t eaten. What a shock for Jesus to think they completely miss His meaning saying, “How is it that you do not understand?” (v. 11).

I don’t think I’m ascribing to Jesus’ emotions if I point out that he must have felt a sting of disappointment and concern — these were His future leaders, His Generals if you will, who would carry on in His absence. Read the rest of this entry »

A hope to hold onto

by kerriebutterfield

 

Image by Casa Thomas Jefferson
Flickr.com_handshake_6964013353_e7ec857740_o.jpg_CC BY NC ND-2.0

I’ve found in life that hope can be a slippery subject. Most often when you need it the most it’s difficult to hold onto, and can slip right out of your hand as you desperately seek to keep a hold of it. At least that has been my experience. I’m often driven by what I see, what I feel, and what I think I know.

Years ago, in a particularly discouraging season, as I was waking up on a Sunday morning, I had this thought run across my brain: “I’m so tired.” Not too surprising for a non-morning person like me. As I lay there, I began to agree with that feeling, and it seemed to gain strength. I mean I was tired, but as I lay there I got more tired. The next thought that skipped across my brain was, “You should sleep in. No one would even notice if you weren’t at church this morning.” Read the rest of this entry »

Is Anyone Attracted to You?

by Mike McKinniss

Dallas Willard was telling me this morning how few Christians actually allow (or possibly want) Jesus to teach them how to do life.  We’ve got all these well-meaning Christians turning to Oprah or Dr. Phil  or Foucault or Sartre (if you can believe it) for a way to guide their lives.  We tend to ignore, when it comes down to it, the very person our faith tells us lived life to the fullest. Read the rest of this entry »

Old Hope for the New Year

by Mike McKinniss

I’ve got babies on the brain. My wife and I are expecting the arrival of our first—any day now!—and the occasion has propelled my mind, quite naturally, to new beginnings. During the Advent season, it was a new and wonderful experience to be anticipating the birth of our own daughter while we read the stories of our savior’s arrival. Now, I don’t expect our little girl to be the world’s redeemer, but we’re excited, nonetheless.

In the process, I landed for a time on a passage occasionally associated with Christmas, though it doesn’t highlight the nativity. It’s John’s prologue:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (Jn 1:1-5, NIV).

In the beginning. Made. Life. Light. Darkness.

We’ve heard these words before. They’re words borrowed from the very first pages of the Bible. (Go ahead and read Genesis 1:1–2:3 to get the full context.) It’s a funny thing for John to begin his story about Jesus by first reminding us of creation. What’s he trying to do?

What John and his original audience would have known—and we might not—is that the Christ-child entered a world predominated by darkness. Jesus was born to Jewish parents in the heart of Palestine, maybe a year or two on either side of what we would now call year one. At the time, Jesus’ countrymen were weary. For 700 years (700!), this once noble people had been toiling under foreign oppression. Their latest overlords, the Romans, were among the most brutal, at one time (not long after Jesus’ resurrection) publicly executing so many Jews on crosses, they ran out of wood. Many of Jesus’ contemporaries were enslaved by crippling debt. Where could they look for relief?

It was as Isaiah had predicted several generations earlier: “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples” (Isa. 60:2a, NIV).

Read the rest of this entry »

Be Still

by Rob Dunne

Tiny House by Rendered
Flickr.com/photos/destinationdiy/9276497549/in/photolist-f8JtwV

Tiny homes are fascinating. Kellie and I recently had the opportunity to stay in one. Located in the hill country, we’d lie in bed at night and enjoy a clear view of Orion and the Big and Little Dipper. In the morning, the backyard was visited by a few skittish deer grazing on vegetation. What I found most appealing was the silence. It was far removed from civilization and a place where you could actually hear yourself think.

Before he became king of Israel, David was a shepherd. He spent days and nights watching over the family’s flock. If David was anything like I am with my dog Bailey, he probably held two-way conversations with the sheep. However, the bulk of his time was likely spent in communion with God.

Read the rest of this entry »

Out with the Old

by Rob Dunne

flickr.com/photos/nevilleslens/14534754156/in/photolis_CC BY NC ND 2.0

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

My wife Kellie and I recently undertook a DIY project…painting our kitchen cabinets. It was, by far, our most ambitious home improvement project to date. Truthfully, it is not for the faint of heart.

The first step was to remove the doors, drawers and all of the hardware. Next, we removed the contents of the cabinets or covered the insides with plastic. Of all the steps, this was the most difficult in my opinion. Both of us used an electric hand sander and the dust went everywhere! After sanding, you use a tack cloth to remove all of the dust.

In addition to the cabinet frame, there were twenty-one doors and seven drawers. We put two coats of primer and two coats of paint on all of it. Once they were all dry, the hinges and new hardware was placed back on everything. Lastly, the doors were hung and the drawers slid back in to place. In the end, our kitchen got a much needed facelift and Kellie and I are quite pleased with the results. However, it was a lot of work!

Read the rest of this entry »

Be a Peacemaker, Be like God

by Mike McKinniss

4872488788_5612f40737_z

Peace” by Jonathan Brown under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Mt 5:9, ESV).

Peacemaking, whether we’re trying to make things right with someone else or whether we’re stepping into another’s conflict as a third party, almost always requires some kind of personal sacrifice. To make peace where we’ve been offended means forgiving the one who has offended us. It means swallowing the “right” to retribution or to recompense. To make peace means we take the hurt and we trust God to make something good and beautiful from it.

This is the model Christ provided us. Did he not make peace with his accusers? Did he not make peace with those who cast him upon the cross? He did. How so? Jesus willingly took the abuse. He silently accepted their false accusations and condemnation. Inso doing, his sacrifice brought peace.

How could Jesus do such a thing? He could swallow the offense because he had full faith that his Father in heaven would deal justly with him and with those who crucified him. Justly? Yes, just to bring good from such deep evil. Jesus believed that if he willingly abandoned his rights and sacrificed all, God would abolish the wrongs that lead us to crucify the one righteous person on the earth.

What we had intended for evil, God turned for good—good to the one crucified by resurrecting him from the grave and good to the murdering mob by pouring out the blessing of forgiveness.

Peacemaking requires personal sacrifice and trust in a good God.

“… For they shall be called sons of God.” What is a son of God? A son of God is one who reflects the true heart of God. It is one who represents God accurately. In Old Testament times among Near Eastern cultures, a son of God is a king on the earth, empowered with the spirit of God to do his will.

Stretching back from the New Testament, the nation of Israel was meant to be a son of God (Ex. 4:22), and so was their king (2 Sam. 7:14). Israel was meant to be a people through whom God hoped to show himself to the world. Going further back, all of humanity were meant to be sons of God, as originally modeled in the hope for Adam—the first man, created in God’s image, that is, his son. (Compare for a moment the language in Gen. 1:26-28 and Gen. 5:1-3.)

And of course, the true son of God is Jesus himself. He perfectly reflected the heart, nature and will of God in all he said and did (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3). He took to its fullest the Creator’s hope for a creation at peace. And he assumed the depths of sacrificial love required to bring the world into true peace. It required of him his life.

Now, the promise is that we too might represent God’s heart for peace. How? Through sacrifice. Through the rejection of our rights. Through a full trust that God will see to our needs when we forego them on his behalf.

If we take on ourselves this life—the life of Christ—we will be called sons of God, not because the Creator waves a magic wand and makes it so. Rather, to modify an old saying, we’ll walk like a son of God and we’ll quack like a son of God. And we’ll simply be known for what we are.

Change Something or: How to Get Your Future Wife to Marry You

by Mike McKinniss

“If you want things to change, maybe you should change something.”

Such was the sage advice given to my wife by her wise mother several years ago, which is how we got married.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, because the word of wisdom came to the future Mrs. at a time when I was out of the picture. In fact, I was so far out of the picture, I was hanging from another wall …

in another room …

in another house …

in another state.

But this isn’t about me. (It kind of is.)

You see, future wife was stuck in a rut. Life had been motoring along quite nicely for many years. Out of college, she’d been offered a job that she tackled with fervor. Ten years later and she’d happily grown it about as much as anyone could. That work had kept her in a tight community filled with friends she’d made in school and relationships she’d thoughtfully deepened over time. She’d bought a house along the way and fixed it up just the way she wanted. Life was good.

But she had the sinking suspicion God wanted something more for her. Something had to change.

Read the rest of this entry »

ANXIETY !!!

by Carol Nicholls

Image by Leland Franciso

In the multitude of my anxious thoughts within me, Your comforts cheer and delight my soul!

Psalm 94:19 (Amp)

There is a whirlwind of activity in my family this week. My firstborn grandchild is getting married next Saturday. Along with all of the planning and making sure everything gets done, daily life goes on. Jobs still need our attention. Meal preparation is a task that can’t be put off. Clothes still need to be washed, and so it goes. Cramming extra activity into an already busy schedule can soon give birth to ANXIETY.

The Bible asks, “Who of you by being worried and anxious can add one unit of measure to his stature or to the span of his life?” Matthew 6:27(Amp)

Anxiety is a useless emotion in God’s eyes. Yet, it makes its presence known almost every day. Anxiety can be a vague feeling that “all is not well.” It can also become a life-crippling force.

“So, do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries of its own. Sufficient for each day is its trouble.” Matthew 6:34 (Amp)

How do you face anxiety? God says it’s futile trying to resolve anticipated problems. Thinking about them to gather facts is a wise way to be prepared. But, anticipating negative consequences will only lead to panic attacks.

The mind and emotions are the battleground. There are thoughts that lead to peace and there are thoughts that lead to fear. Take a good look at your thoughts. Are you dwelling on a potential negative? Why is that negative more powerful than a positive thought? Usually that is because we can see the outcome of the negative thought but we have NO idea how anything good could come of the situation.

Most of us have bought into the lie that we are “all-wise” and can, with enough effort, solve every life problem. When we can’t see the solution, anxiety sets in. Doubt, fear, insecurity, what other emotions are plaguing you? When we follow God’s advice and take every thought captive we can stop them before they become an emotion. Write them down if that helps. Then ask God to show you that thought through His eyes.

“..now, Lord, what do I wait for and expect? My hope and expectations are in You.” Psalm 39:7 (Amp)

Father, I am oh so human! Anxious thoughts are always lurking in the back of my mind. I want to trust You with my whole heart. Your word says Your plans for me are for good and not harm. As I turn my anxious thoughts over to You, please, show me Your heart, grant me Your peace moment by moment through today. And, when tomorrow becomes a new today, show me Your way again. Amen

Red letter day

by kerriebutterfield

Image by Nicole Hanusek
Flickr.com_174796703_46127aed66
CC BY-ND 2.0

Webster dictionary defines a “red letter day”  as a  “memorably important or happy occasion.”  A few years ago on what I would describe as the opposite of an important or happy day, I gave this phrase a new meaning and made it my own.

I was feeling forgotten and sad, and I found myself in Psalm 2.  The Psalmist writes:  “I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, ‘You are my son today I have become your father. Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.'” Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: