Filed under: Christian Living, God's Place, Parenting, Personal Development
Dogma Has A
Short Shelf Life
In the movie, Hoffa, starring Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito and more, one of the opening scenes has Nicholson and Robert Prosky firebombing a laundry in retaliation to the owner’s refusal to join the union.
Unfortunately, the bombing goes badly wrong and Prosky’s character, Billy Flynn, is caught in the flames. Dying in the hospital, Billy is coaxed to confess by the attending priest. That could be tricky for two reasons.
Billy is convinced he was acting justly, which doesn’t require confession, and more importantly a confession might possibly lead to the conviction of Hoffa and his new sidekick played by DeVito.
Billy’s response is surprising and unexpected.
He looks at the priest, breaths an expletive and then makes an unforgettable quote.
Never let down. Never let up. Never forget.
I don’t know if that really happened but I don’t doubt people have expressed that kind of devotion in the face of life and death situations. I also don’t doubt that Hoffa was able to elicit that kind of devotion.
But here is the point. Devotion is not always what you think.
Generally, we view devotion as an honorable thing and devoted people as committed, reliable and good. In fact, devotion is a popular topic in religious circles and the truly devoted are among the best religion has to offer.
But is that completely accurate? According to Hoffa, devotion can apply to less principled types.
Devotion has a moral sense that doesn’t fall within the boundaries of traditional thinking. People frequently commit themselves to causes, groups and ideologies that are questionable at best. It happens all the time.
And once established, devotional connections are difficult to dislodge, regardless how right or wrong they may be. According to a Michigan study, devotion becomes more resolute in response to challenging facts. The followers of Hoffa didn’t let the law get in the way.
In reality, devotion is just devotion. It’s neither good nor bad, and it has many dimensions to consider. You find it everywhere, even among the unsavory.
Based on that thought we could make some interesting observations about devotion. Read more
In Abraham’s Case
Strong Means Persistent
Please note that I didn’t say faith is formed in spite of wobbles but rather it is formed through wobbles.
Wobbles are the exercises that faith goes through to grow and Abraham exemplifies this truth.
The Bible says of Abraham that he was strong in faith, and yet it records his many foibles. It makes you wonder.
You could almost define Abraham by his wobbles so we need to qualify what strong in faith really means. But first, what it doesn’t mean or what the Bible doesn’t say.
It doesn’t say he had enough faith, as if faith is something to keep pumped up. Abraham didn’t go through hyping exercises each morning trying to achieve a faith-state mentally.
It doesn’t say his faith was big, as if it comes in sizes, the implication being faith only works when it is big. If faith was measured by size, we would have to say his was often just as small as it was big. Size wasn’t an issue.
It doesn’t even say that his faith was strong. It says he, Abraham, was strong in faith. That is a significant distinction. Faith is just faith. It’s a tool. We use it – or not – as much as we will.
Many people have handyman tools they rarely use and are dangerous on the odd occasions when they do. Maybe faith works in a similar fashion.
Not only is Abraham credited as being strong where faith is concerned, he is also referred to as the example for all those who follow. That is, he is the father of faith. This is very interesting because, as I said: Read more
Faith Can Be
Strong Or Weak
But Never Big Or Small
We usually associate faith with qualities that many people don’t have: confidence, focus, boldness and assertiveness.
High profile types have faith. Low profile folks just watch.
That’s how we see it anyway, so the general assumption is faith must be big, like the people who express it.
Can that be true? Were great examples of faith outspoken and obvious or did they carry their faith a little more quietly? One example doesn’t fit the big faith mold.
Jochebed, The Mother of Moses
You probably know Jochebed’s story. She lived under the oppressive rule of Pharaoh. He had enslaved the Israelites to reduce their numbers. He was afraid they were getting a little to numerous to manage. When enslavement didn’t reduce their numbers, he took a more drastic step. He decreed the destruction of all male born children.
Fortunately, that plan didn’t work either. The midwives who managed the birth of these children disobeyed, allowing the males to live. But Moses’ mother went a step further.
She devised a plan not only to save Moses but to insure he got the benefits not afforded any other Israelite child. The outcome was he was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as one of Pharaoh’s own.
Maybe it was a mother’s sixth sense, I don’t know, but she saw Moses as a potentially great leader. That was important because God had promised to delivered Israel from bondage. She believed that promise and knew God would need someone to lead the charge.
I won’t go through all the details but her plan worked. Moses was raised in the wisdom of Egypt and, if tradition is accurate, he learned the art of military leadership also.
But what about Jochebed’s faith? This is where the story becomes most interesting.
Her faith wasn’t loud or boisterous. She carried no placards. She made no public declarations. She expected great things from God but she didn’t publish it in the Goshan Gazette.
Everything she did was below the radar. As far as we know, she kept the whole thing very quiet. The Bible doesn’t even tell us what she prayed. She acted quietly and secretly.
And she probably acted alone. I don’t doubt her husband supported what she did, if he was even aware of it, but he was a slave. Slaves don’t work 9-to-5 and who knows whether they got home at night very often. I doubt he had much energy to contribute.
One last observation.
This faith was directly related to parenting. This had nothing to do with political action. Meaning, of course, you don’t have to change the government to protect your children. There is a lot a parent can do for their kids, by faith, in spite of the political environment.
Conclusion: The effect of her faith was big, bigger than she would ever know. But her faith, though decisive, active and strategic, was quiet and almost off the record.
Faith doesn’t have to be loud.
Salvation Is So Possible
Simply put, Jesus Saves, full stop.
We can expand on the application of that idea, on it’s simple and singular meaning, but not by adding limitations. It isn’t Jesus Saves, But. The phrase can’t be nuanced in a restrictive way.
Jesus wants to save. He is anxious to save. And He is constantly ready to save any willing person, at any time, in any place.
In his Mars Hill speech Paul made it clear that God makes Himself accessible and knowable to every person in every generation so Jesus Saves means exactly that, without qualification. Jesus Saves.
You may qualify salvation. You may say a person must have faith, they must be willing to be saved and accepting, but you can’t put a limitation on the Savior.
Schedules Don’t Inhibit Jesus
Jesus is constantly ready, able and willing to do His work. There is no down time, no maintenance period during which He is inaccessible. Coffee breaks, vacation time, national holidays, sick days, afternoon slumps and personal time do not factor. You call, Jesus responds.
There’s never a moment Jesus is not immediately ready to save.
Geography Doesn’t Inhibit Jesus
No location is too out of the way. Extreme environments don’t inhibit Him. He is just as comfortable in a rain forest as in an asphalt jungle. Like the Psalmist said:
If I ascend up to heaven, you are there. If I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there. Psalm 138:8
Meaning, of course, that no person is geographically out of salvation’s range.
Politics Don’t Inhibit Jesus
No governing philosophy violates His sense of correctness to such an extent that Jesus withdraws the offer to save. He doesn’t mingle with capitalists and shun communists. He doesn’t associate with Republicans and sneer at Democrats.
No person rises to His standard or falls out of reach. He saves law enforcers and abusers alike.
Social Standing Doesn’t Inhibit Jesus
Class isn’t a problem for Jesus. He saved the wealthy, the poor, the sick and the rulers. Wealth was a barrier to those who had it but it never stopped Jesus. He interacted with many wealthy and saved several. Power blinded those who had it but it didn’t effect Jesus. He never lost sight of His purpose.
Jesus worked salvation’s miracle in every strata of society.
Religion Doesn’t Inhibit Jesus
And religion? Is there a religion or religions that effectively lock Jesus out? Not at all.
All truth is God’s truth wherever you find it: in church, out of church and in any kind of church. And all truth eventually leads to God, which in turn leads to Jesus.
Jesus doesn’t save in some churches and not in others. He’s not that sensitive.
Any person who hears salvation truth in any church, and believes it, will be saved. It really is that simple. Jesus really is that unlimited. And Jesus made the point best.
Truly, truly I say to you. The person that hears my word (any person, in any place, in or out of church, at any time) and believes on Him that sent me, has everlasting life (present tense, immediately at the moment of belief, in the very place of belief), and shall not (ever) come into condemnation but is past (definitely and finally) from death unto life. John 5:24 (parentheses added for emphasis)
In other words, Jesus Saves!
Filed under: Christian Living, Evangelism, Faith, Salvation
Jesus Acted With Urgency
Jesus wasn’t any more inflated by the people who cheered Him on than He was deflated by the people who opposed Him.
He was secure.
Jesus knew who He was. He was convinced that the world needed what He had to offer, whether they understood that or not, accepted it or not.
Jesus said what He needed to say. He did what needed to be done. He didn’t consult with the religious leaders, His family or His disciples. He spoke up. He acted.
Consensus in this situation was the same as asking permission to save a life. He came to save those who were ready, not argue with those who weren’t.
When people didn’t understand what He was doing, and that often was the case, He didn’t respond with frustration. When they argued against His teachings, He didn’t become defensive.
He didn’t try to explain what He really meant. He didn’t use the but what about this and don’t you think that arguments.
Jesus showed us that the only answer to attitude is quiet resolve. But it takes a very strong, secure person to live by that rule.
He was secure in Himself. He didn’t answer every contrary response. He expected us to figure it out.
His own disciples doubted almost His entire ministry. Read more