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Keep Asking, Seeking, and Knocking

Keep Asking, Seeking, and Knocking
The other day my wife and I were reading Matthew 7:7-8, part of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount.Jesus gives us three instructions: Ask, and keep on asking. Seek, and keep on seeking. Knock, and keep on knocking. I like how the New Living Translation translates these words of Jesus.
"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Because God is a relational God, we need to relate to Him! God is not an idea or a concept. He is a person! If you live with a person, you listen to them and you talk to them! God is a person. Do you spend some time in silence with Him, asking Him to speak? Do you read His Word? Do you talk to Him? Do you ask Him! Do you seek Him? Do you persist in asking and seeking for Him? Do you persist in knocking at the door of he…

One Lesson About the Relational Jesus

One Lesson About the Relational Jesus
Last time I wrote about the first verse and a half of chapter 14 of John’s Gospel. I would like now to talk a bit about the next seven verses through verse nine. In my last column I drew five lessons from the first 1 1/2 verses of John chapter 14, but this time I have only one lesson which I want to lift up.
Many people are looking for “the answer” to life. They are looking for an idea, a principle, or a timeless truth. There is a sense in which every idea, every principle, and every truth is something we can control or appropriate. In a way, according to philosopher Michael Polanyi, ideas are mental tools which we use and manipulate to deal with the world.
But here Jesus is saying that at the heart of reality is not a truth, or an idea, or a principle, but rather a Person. At the deepest level of reality, truth is not an idea we analyze and use but it is a Person who is pursuing us and with whom we can have a relationship. The God of the Old Testame…

Five Lessons From a Verse-and-a-Half

Five Lessons From a Verse-and-a-Half
Today as I write, I am reading one of my favorite passages, the beginning verses of John, chapter 14. Jesus is speaking to his disciples back then, but he is also speaking to us today. Beginning at verse one Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions.”
These twenty-one words are packed full of meaning. I get at least five lessons from these words: 1.
      1. When Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” in the original language he is actually saying, “Stop letting your hearts be troubled.” I think for many of us, his words hit us where we live. We know that we already worry and are troubled by many things. Similarly in Matthew 6:25, Jesus is saying “Stop worrying,” or “Stop being anxious.” He know us through and through. As Psalm 103:14 says, “He knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” The One who knows us knows how we worry and how we stew and fret. He…

Tongues on the Football Field (continued)

Tongues on the Football Field (continued)
This column is a continuation from last week. It is about tongues and prophecy.  When I was in my early twenties, I read a quote from a Christian philosopherwho said that for Christianslife is not just a problem to be solved; life is also a mystery. The tendency of many Christians, like me, is sometimes to approach the Christian life (and even God Himself) as a series of problems to be solved with our minds. We think that if we apply reason to the Bible, we can solve almost anything! (We forget that we cannot understand anything truly important about God without the Holy Spirit.)  The Christian philosopher I mentioned, Gabriel Marcel, reminds us that much about God and life is mysterious. In the letter of I Corinthians (2:9-10), Paul says that the Spirit searches the depths of God. He says that eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and the heart has not conceived what God has prepared for us, but God has revealed it to us through His Holy Spirit. …

Tongues on the Football Field

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Tongues on the Football Field  Recently Alabama came from behind to beat Georgia in the college national championships. In the second half of the game, with Alabama down 13-0, coach Nick Saban put into the game a freshman quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa. People were amazed that Alabama came back from a deficit to win the game in overtime.  Yahoo sports wrote an interesting article on this, from which I will now quote at some length. “How, in the name of Bear Bryant, did a freshman bench jockey rise to this ridiculously pressurized occasion and become an instant hero? ‘I was praying,’ Tagovailoa said. ‘I was speaking in tongues. It kept me calm.’” “He prayed before possessions. He prayed after possessions. He prayed and passed and scrambled his way into Alabama lore. ‘I would say my poise comes from my faith,’ Tagovailoa said. ‘I just pray for peace.’” https://sports.yahoo.com/savior-alabama-never-knew-needed-tua-tagovailoa-084441084.html Another website, seccountry.com, had this headline: “…

“The Lukewarm Church, continued….”

“The Lukewarm Church, continued….”
Last week I wrote about Jesus‘s words to the church at Laodicea in Asia minor. These words are contained in Revelation, chapter 3, verses 14 through 22. In these verses Jesus tells the Laodicean church that they are neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm, and that he is about to spit them out of his mouth. Usually whenever I read this passage I am concerned because I think it is a fairly accurate description of much of the Christian Church in America, and that it is also sometimes a just description of me as an American church pastor and leader (albeit retired.)

I ended what I wrote last week by asking people to pray for me to be more committed to the Lord, and also to pray for themselves if they felt that the passage also addressed them. I remember I felt a little uneasy with that ending and so I ended the article with a sentence saying that I would continue talking about it again this week. As I revisit this passage, I want to stress that it is not so …

A New Year’s Prayer

Recently my wife and I were reading the scripture which quotes Jesus as saying to the church in Laodicea: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20-22, New King James Version) This verse is often used in evangelistic situations—in other words to invite someone to invite Jesus Christ into their life. And the truth is that Jesus DOES want us to invite Him into our lives. However, if you look at Revelation 3 where this verse occurs, you will see that Jesus is apparently talking to people who were already Christians at the Church in Laodicea in Asia Minor (present day Turkey) in the first century, AD.  
Jesus is telling those church members that because they are “luke-warm,” (neither hot nor cold) he is about to spit them out of his mouth. He says: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—…