Jesus Only (Part 2 of 2)

Glimpses of Infinity.

….Six days later, three of them saw that glory. Jesus took Peter and the brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. Sunlight poured from his face. His clothes were filled with light. Then they realized that Moses and Elijah were also there in deep conversation with him.   Matthew 17:1-6 MSG

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Memorializing the Moment.

Peter broke in, “Master, this is a great moment! What would you think if I built three memorials here on the mountain—one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah?”

In life there are great moments.  Turning points, moments of clarity that change the direction of our life forever.  Deciding to say NO against the flow or saying YES to a call.  Moments of revelation, inspiration and understanding.  In this moment Peter must have felt like he understood everything past, present and future.  He had just witnessed a glimpse of the Glory of God reinforcing his long held belief in a coming Messiah.

Inspired, Peter races to build.  Peter, the rock, the one who believed, who knew Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  Peter the activist, the man of action acts swiftly to solidify his belief through action.

The Voice of Truth.

While he was going on like this, babbling, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and sounding from deep in the cloud a voice: “This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of my delight. Listen to him.”  When the disciples heard it, they fell flat on their faces, scared to death. But Jesus came over and touched them. “Don’t be afraid.”  When they opened their eyes and looked around all they saw was Jesus, only Jesus.

Peter’s activity get’s interrupted.  There is no rebuke for his enthusiastic activity nor is there an answer to his request.  Three things speak to me from this passage.

  1.  I am invited to participate in the cosmic plan of God

In this scene the infinite Glory of God is glimpsed through Jesus’ face and clothing , long departed saints appear and converse with Jesus, a radiant cloud envelops them and the voice of God is heard.  A great moment indeed.  Possibly most amazing is who the voice spoke to.   Not to Jesus, nor to the departed saints but to Peter, to James and to John.  To the most normal, most fallible beings present.

The message?  This is my Son whom I love, my delight…… wait for it…… LISTEN TO HIM.

When my son Harrison was a toddler one of the best ways to get his attention was to say “Come here, I’ve got something to tell you”.  He would stop what he was doing and wait to hear what the news was.

We are invited to stop what we are doing to listen to Jesus.  Jesus said ‘follow me’, here in this great moment the voice of God confirms our calling , ‘listen to Him’.  I like this invitation very much.

  1. I need not be afraid

After the invitation to listen, Jesus’ first words are “Don’t be afraid”.  At this point they are afraid, terrified in fact.  These words of Jesus speak to their current predicament but also to their tomorrow.  Don’t be afraid.

Whatever my situation or predicament.  Whatever lies ahead or whatever has gone before when we listen to Jesus, when we respond to the invitation to participate, to follow, we need not fear.

  1. Only Jesus

As God reveals a measure of His Glory to Peter, James and John they are awestruck.  Peter wishing to memorialize or bring structure to the experience suggests building memorials to Jesus, Moses and Elijah.

I don’t know what Peter was thinking.  Was he imagining the beginning of a Messianic conquest, or did he believe Moses and Elijah had returned for good?  Maybe this was the restoration to the good old days of Israel, no more Roman/Babylonian/Persian rule.

Then God speaks and every word he speaks points to Jesus, the Beloved Son, the focus of Gods delight.  In this great moment forget the structures and plans, forget the past and future, forget who it is you are, forget your heroes of old, forget all that might distract from the focus of Gods delight.  Jesus. Listen to Him.

When they opened their eyes and looked all around all they saw was Jesus, only Jesus.

Image:  Some rights reserved by gr33n3gg

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Brilliant Dreamers

“Don’t stop believing…. unless your dreams are stupid”

My favourite moment in this fantastic video that went viral this week.  You will find this Journey(ish) quote just after the minute mark.

Are you a dreamer?  I am!  I can lose hours daydreaming quite easily.    There is much truth in this video, however there is I believe, a hint of a great truth.  In the first world today the preeminent message we receive is don’t stop believing, hold onto your dreams, never let anyone tell you that can’t do it.

Unfortunately as Christians we are tempted to believe that this positive, life affirming message is actually the good news.  We act like God has called us to be achievers, to be successful at whatever we do.  This is not the truth, at least not the whole truth.

Here’s how Jude put it

Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. Jude 1:8

We have dreams of preaching to 1000’s, writing a best selling book, leading 20,000 in worship or travelling to the four corners to share the good news.  These great dreams can become what we rely on, the inspiration for our service, the thought that raises our hope.

The Truth

Your dreams are not big enough!

When God invites us to be a player in His story, do we dream up a story of our own?  God has called us to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Him.  He has called us to act as He would, to make disciples, to seek God.

I ask myself:

  • Do I choose brilliance before Christlikeness?
  • Is excellence or success my dream?
  • Do I choose humility and prayer over self promotion and ambition?
  • What do I believe will be the most significant thing I can do in serving Jesus?

In all this I find myself asking “What is my response to the gift of God in my life?”

My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace nor even blessing, but Himself my God     F Brook

Almighty, Our multi-coloured God

Almighty God - A day in the mountains

Heather, Micah, Jonny and Harrison

I asked my son Harrison (6) to describe me.  He said I am big, I have big feet, big ears, big hands, a blue shirt, brown hair….. and so on.  Then I pointed out that everything he described was physical, everything could be measured in some way.  I then asked if he could  describe what I was like and the conversation took a different tack.

How do we describe the indescribable?  When we meditate on the names of Christ it is tempting to analyse the names, to break them down into component parts.  The name Almighty literally means ‘ to hold all strength’.  This is not something we can understand, we cannot comprehend the strength of the ocean never mind the One who made it, the One who flung stars into space.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Rev 1:8

Let me take a different approach.  I can tell you my wife’s name, I can tell you her height, weight, eye colour and age.  But you do not know her.  I can send you her CV (Resume).  You will then know her education and professional accomplishments.  But you do not know her, many others have equivalent CVs.  I can tell you stories about how we met, about her many adventures in childhood, I can tell you about music, books, places she loves, I could show you videos and photos or share things she has written.  All this will help you know about her and you might even FEEL like you know her, but you do not.  Even if I could share every memory I have with you , you still would not know her.  You will not know her until you become part of her story and she part of yours.  Then the journey to knowledge begins. 

We cannot know Jesus by definition, nor by reputation or history.  We might know what Jesus likes and dislikes.  We may know that He is infinite in time, in space, in power and in knowledge.  We might know that he is good, that he is kind, that he is merciful.  But still this is not knowing Jesus.

And for the good news (gospel).  Jesus left behind stories, not definitions.  He inspired people to keep telling the stories.  In these stories the person of Jesus starts to take shape.  We realise we want to know this Jesus, this water walking, storm stopping man who is God.   In the stories and lives of those around us and those who have gone before we find a multi-coloured picture of Jesus not a black and white dictionary definition.

All stories of Jesus, whether written, sung, prayed or lived have one purpose, to point you and I in His direction.  As we seek, we find ourselves invited to become part of His story as He is already part of ours.

I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.  John 17:26

This post is part of a series on the Names of Christ  – the most recent posts in the series are found here

Hands up anyone?

Check out Proverbs 18:13

  • If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
  • It’s stupid and embarrassing to give an answer before you listen.
  • Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish
  • Answering before listening is both stupid and rude.

Hands Up Anyone?I read this Proverb a couple of weeks back and shared it with Harrison (6) over breakfast.  Harrison’s response?  “There are people like that in my class.  They have their hands up before the teacher even asks the question!”  (spoken with more than a hint of ‘how foolish is that’)

I have to hold my hands up and say “Yep that’s me” , I speak before listening.  It is my foolishness and shame to have answers for people long before I listen to them.  Harrison’s words made me think though.  There are sometimes when we really should have our hands up, but they remain at our side.

  • In confession – ‘Yep that was me’
  • In worship – You alone are worthy O Lord
  • In response – Here I am, send me
  • In celebration – Think of when your team scored that last-minute goal

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Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel!  Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem!  The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you;never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.                                        Zephaniah 3: 14-17

Worth Celebrating?

Unhinged

 

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Eph 3:20-21

UnhingedI find that dismantling these verses and putting them back together helps me greatly.

Firstly we establish with no real stretch of faith that God is able to do all that we ask. Then we widen to the realisation that God can do all that we ask or think (imagine).  I don’t know about you but I can imagine rather a lot.  I can imagine time travel, teleportation (my spell check tells me this isn’t even a word so lets Imagine that it is), my becoming a Jedi Master, visiting Perelandra. I could go on.  More seriously can you imagine an end to civil wars, hunger, betrayal, cancer etc.  How about the transformation of the most evil person into a compassionate father?  God can do all we ask or IMAGINE.

Now Paul not only says that God is able to do more than we can ask or think.  Not just more but far more abundantly or exceedingly abundantly more than all we ask or imagine.  You’re getting the picture right?

????? According to the power at work within us ????????  Now things really start to get interesting.  If we content ourselves to dwell only on the first half of this sentence we can view it as a description of the abilities of God.  However these words reveal the place in which these actions of God take place. Within us.  The power of the “able to do”

Then the finale “To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.”

The glorification of God is not an event to be anticipated or hoped for.  It is the working of his power in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations.  That means yesterday, today, tomorrow.

These verses create in me a picture of a solid oak door frame.  Enduring, powerful, unmoving.  Past, present and future.  So in the light of God’s power at work within us, glorifying Him in all generations, how come we so often seem unhinged?

Take a moment to consider the verses that immediately follow;

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.    Eph 4:1-3

Paul, in the light of God’s incredible power, urges us to walk in correct response to the call (word) of God.  The response? All humility and gentleness, patience and pursuit of unity.  I sometimes wonder if the reason we sometimes feel disconnected from the power of God in our lives is because we simply don’t understand what our response to God’s call ought to be.

If my people will humble themselves, and pray……. then I will