We all have an interest in where we came from. We are also interested in other people’s stories. We ask each other, “Where did you grow up?” and “Who are your parents?” Yet, sometimes we may withhold some details in our family tree or the events surrounding a loved one’s conception and birth. Not Matthew. In the opening of his gospel, he stuns the world with an unlikely list of names found in Jesus’ family tree. There is no pattern of righteous, just a list of everyday people. Matthew wants us to see what kind of people God chooses to work with. I am surprised and yet I’m not.
“It is so good to still have you with us Jesus. We thought we’d lost you but here you are in the flesh. Those three days without you felt like an eternity but now that you’ve been with us for about, how long has it been? A little over a month? We couldn’t imagine life without you and we are ready for what comes next. So, me and the guys were wondering when are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel? What was that, Jesus? You’re leaving?”
“I want to have a closer relationship with God.” This is usually the sentiment from Christ followers. Many of the spiritual disciplines we practice are for us to be “closer.” We want to have that connection and to feel His closeness. The cross brings believers near. The cross makes us one with God and other followers. The cross was Jesus’ ultimate act of service for humanity. It was his purpose for coming in the flesh. The cross reconciles and makes us close but we will never feel close to Jesus unless we choose to follow him in death and service. Continue reading
Years ago, I asked a student minister to share his testimony with me. He was sitting across from me in local coffee shop. We were just getting to know each other. He told me how he read the right Bible in the right way. How he was baptized with right understanding, in the right mode. How he worshipped in the right church, with the right hierarchy, with the right acts of worship. I said, “That’s great. Could you say that again this time mentioning Jesus and his grace?” I am certain this is how many in my Christian tribe would tell their testimony today. Why? Because it was once how I told mine. Continue reading
There is a story included in both Matthew and Luke of Jesus healing a Roman Centurion’s servant. Healing someone is amazing but that is not the most amazing part of the story. Well, according to Jesus it isn’t.
“Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” – St. Francis of Assisi. Did he really say that? Probably not. It sounds good, but when preaching the Gospel both words and works are necessary. The Gospel is lived and spoken. Continue reading
When I was let go from my first vocational ministry the one thing I knew I wanted to continue to do was preach. I had no idea where God would take me, but it was clear in my mind what I was to do when I got there. The urge to preach was like my second calling. The first being my original calling to ministry while still in college. God wouldn’t leave me alone about it.