Jude (Part 1)

Jude (Part 1)

Let me start here: if you have not read Jude (an introduction), stop now and go read it . . . it will make more sense that way. However, as a reminder to those who did read it let me refresh your memory. Jude is one of four brothers of Jesus and at some point led the Church in Jerusalem. He came to faith after Jesus’ resurrection. This same Jude then pens this letter and it is powerful! As a call to repentance, as a reminder of judgment, and as a warning to stay alert as we contend for the faith.

He doesn’t waste time with small talk, antidotes, or gibber, he is very matter-of-fact. In the verses, we will look at this week, we will see his heart, and his understanding as the brother of Jesus and leader of the Church. Let’s look at verse 5, “Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.” Here is an interesting point, there are a couple manuscripts out there as well as a few versions of the Bible that use “Jesus” in place of “the Lord”. Could these early manuscripts be more accurate to Jude’s point? i think so. Jude had come to an understanding of who Jesus was and was not ashamed of it.

We love grace, i love grace. We preach grace, i preach grace, and it is glorious! However, we mustn’t lose sight of Jesus. Jesus, actively a part of the Old Testament, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, saves us by His cross. He leads us free from the chains of sin, out of bondage and into freedom. As the Israelites out of Egypt and still, subsequently (lit. the second time) He destroys those who did not believe. Folks, there is judgment. There is a hell and it has been preached since the formation of the Church. Do not be led astray. We must continue to contend for the faith in a world that would pervert the grace of God, even some in the Church.

Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that [e]the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, [f]subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after [g]strange flesh, are exhibited as an [h]example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (NASB)

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved[c] a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire,[d] serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (ESV)

Pray with me for insight, for understanding, for fresh revelation into God’s Word. Let the Spirit of God speak to our hearts through these words written by Jude inspired by the Spirit. May we grow in wisdom and faith, as we seek to walk humbly with Jesus, contending for the faith. Until next week . . .

you are loved,

cj

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117, it is just two verses. Yet these two verses are immensely profound in their simplicity. You want to boil things down to the minimum and just look at the core of human existence? Then here you go:

“Praise the Lord, all you nations! Worship Him, all you peoples! Because God’s faithful love towards us is strong, the Lord’s faithfulness lasts forever! Praise the Lord!”

It doesn’t get much simpler than this, Praise the Lord. Worship Him. Because, He is faithful. His love is strong towards us and He is forever faithful. Thus, we should, Praise the Lord! No matter what you are facing, no matter what difficulties or trials befall you, Praise the Lord! In the good and in the bad, Praise the Lord! In the sun and in the rain, Praise the Lord! In life and in death, Praise the Lord! In sickness and in health, Praise the Lord! In the hardest of times and in the best of times, Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord,

you are loved,

cj

Act Like It

Act Like It

Colossians 3:1 in the Message paraphrase says, roughly, if you are serious about this new life in Christ, act like it! In Ephesians 4:1 in the NLT is says, “I, (Paul) beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.” Paul the author of both of these letters has a central theme, Jesus is to be taken seriously and our lives should reflect our desire to please Him.

We are called to lead with a “quiet strength”. As defined it is perseverance, tenacity, get up, dust yourself off and keep going, kind of attitude. Its a leading by example. Colossians 3:12-17 gives legs to this idea and breaks down putting on Christ, with these as bench marks; Compassion, Kindness, Humility, quiet strength and discipline. It goes on to mention forgiveness, quick and complete forgiveness, as quickly and completely as you have been forgiven.

These areas are not suggestions, if we are serious about living out our faith, living for Jesus, we need to act like it. We need to begin to allow Jesus to work in and through us to develop these characteristics within us. If we as the church are unable to live these out how can we expect a fallen world to do it? We are the Mantle bearers, the standard bearers, of Christ. We are the ambassador’s of Christ, the building of the church should be the consulate, the “safe place” the lost and the hurting, the broken and confused, come to in their hour of need…but if they see us out in the world and we are no different why would they seek refuge from us?

…lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called BY God. And if you are to be serious about this new life in Christ, ACT LIKE IT.

You are Loved,
cj

Bizarro Universe

Bizarro Universe

Sitting in a chair thirty thousand feet (30,000ft) in the air being served food (gingerbread cookies) and beverage (coffee black) is by far one of the most amazing advances in human technology. Some others, the phone that is in your hand or tablet or iPad that you are reading this from…another technically advanced achievement of mankind (humankind for my socially liberal or progressive friends).  That device and the information it contains, the things that it can do, once filled an entire room and even then only did 1/1000 of what your phone can do now (it takes and sends pictures and videos, not even kidding).

i recently purchased a bluetooth headset for my phone for this trip i am currently on (Alaska bound for a visit with my boys and some hockey). i turned it on, hit connect and that was it…no programing, no software downloads, no app required, just turned it on. Soon after i was listening to the music stored on my phone from another music source that basically has every song you can think of…which means i had endless possibility of music choice. While listening to my music a call came through, i was alerted by a beep, i clicked a button and talked through my wireless bluetooth headset that look like regular earbuds (my phone was in my pocket). The call concluded, my music resumed, i grabbed my phone from my pocket, clicked over to my news app and began reading a news story (related to the most recent election) from my phone that was still streaming music to my wireless bluetooth headset.  Did i mention i am writing this from 30,000ft thats thirty thousand feet in the air!

Shortly after takeoff i looked out my window, i have a window seat, and by the way, was given a free upgrade on this leg of my journey. It might have something to due with the fact that i wore my Skywest jacket…but neither i nor they mentioned it. However, this happens to be a flight operated by Skywest for Delta. Anyway, i looked out my window a bit ago and caught the glimpse of another plane flying in the opposite direction of the one i am traveling on. i couldn’t help but wonder about the passengers on that plane, where was it going and was there someone like me on that plane headed in the other direction? Like maybe my doppelgänger, you know my alternate universe twin, like bizarro superman or for my Seinfeld friends bizarro Jerry? Those people along with my possible doppelgänger traveling to who knows where for who knows what except them of course; i am left to wonder as they are for us on this plane, i wonder if anyone on that plane even saw us? Perhaps, bizarro cj.

This brings me to this question, have you ever wondered if you are the best version of yourself? We all have special quirks that make us who we are so i am not suggesting in anyway that our individuality is bad…but are we the best version of ourselves? Can we improve on aspects of our life to make us better humans? There is a line in a movie, As Good as it Gets, where the main character says to the leading lady, “You make me want to be a better man.” Of course she is flattered by his comment. That’s a movie however, the idea is still there; are their things, people, ideas, that make you want to be a better person? And if so what does that “better” version of you look like…more profoundly, how do we get to that “better” version of ourselves? In the bizarro world the character is the opposite of the other, so if one is good the other is bad. For example, Bizarro Superman is a villain because of course Superman is a hero. Which version of you, are you?

Unlike the bizarro universe, we are not stuck being any version of ourselves that we don’t want to be. In fact because of Jesus we are able, through His transforming power, to become better people. Paul writes to the Ephesians in Chapter 2 the following:

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.”

There is the answer to the new life. Jesus in us because of God’s great mercy and love. Paul writes to the Corinthians in his second letter the following:

5:17 “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

New life. We no longer need to settle for who we once were because we are bing made new in Christ. We need only to allow Him to do what He wishes in us to make us more and more into His image. That we might carry the light into dark places in our world. We can even enter the bizarro universe and shed light there too!

you are loved,

cj

Learning to Swim

Learning to Swim

i recently purchased a snorkel for my lap swimming that i enjoy so much.  i am no Michael Phelps when it comes to swimming, my technique isn’t even probably a sight to behold…or it might be just not in a complimentary way.  i have always had a hard time breathing so swim with my head lifted out of the water which after swimming for 30 minutes or more really begins to give you a crick in the neck. i have seen others use them, have always wanted one and finally so (because of a gift card i received for my birthday) i purchased one.

i do not regret my purchase but man oh man, it has definitely taken some getting use to…some adjustments were needed.  i have noticed however, now with some time under my trunks, that i am focusing more on my technique.  i am more aware of where i am, how i am kicking, my arm strokes, each breath even.  At first it was completely foreign all i could think about was breathing underwater!  i was underwater, for all intents and purposes anyway, and breathing isn’t something you do underwater…unless you are a fish.

Often times we as Christians can flail about trying to figure out how to “live” as a “Christian”.  We know some practical things and well, it doesn’t make sense that we are free in Christ.  When we feel bound by the world that we are so familiar.  So, we try beating against the wind in vain attempts at figuring out “how” to be “good enough”.

Let me start here: Ephesians 2:4-5  “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)“…  It’s Jesus who makes us ALIVE, not anything we do!  When i figured out that that snorkel was making it so that i could breath, that it wasn’t me breathing underwater but this device was in affect breathing, supplying the oxygen to my lungs, it help with the prospective which allowed me to be free in the water.

Understanding, that Jesus fills us, enables us and grants us both mercy and grace while loving us…gives us the opportunity to see things from a new prospective a freeing one.  We didn’t do anything but choose to accept the gift of grace.  The process of learning to live within the Grace God has so richly provided through His Son Jesus is just that a process.  Paul writes to the Philippians, “Not that I have already attained perfection or that I have already arrived, but forgetting the past, I press on…toward Jesus!”

Like learning to swim with a snorkel it does get easier…but you have to allow yourself room to understand that it isn’t you that is making water into air but that you are reliant upon the snorkel.  The same is true in faith, in learning and growing we must realize that it isn’t under our own ability that we are saved but we are reliant upon Jesus.  We are called to run the race diligently, prepare earnestly, be prepared in season and out to give the reasons for the hope that we have.  We are on a journey that requires the ability to rely on someone else…even when the culture tells us to be self-reliant.

Not that we will ever be perfect or never need reminding but there will come a day that as we walk this road called “Faith” that we will begin to live….What good did our pride do us? What good were our wealth and pretension? These things have all passed away like a shadow. They’re gone like old news. They’re gone like a ship passing through a storm-tossed sea: once it has passed, it leaves no trace of its passing; its keel leaves no lasting mark on the waves. That’s all disappeared in the way a bird flies through the air and leaves no hint of its path: it beats its wings against the thin air, dives with a rush, uses its wings to circle round—yet afterward there’s no sign in the air that the bird was ever there. It’s all vanished like an arrow that’s shot at its target: the air opens up as the arrow flies through it but immediately closes up behind the arrow, and no one can detect any trace of the arrow’s path. (taken from Wisdom 5:8-12 a book found in the Apocrypha). 

You are loved,

cj

Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walked Humbly

Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walked Humbly

There is a line in a song by Mumford & Sons called “The Cave”.

“Cause I need freedom now, and I need to know how, to live my life as it’s meant to be…”

The song as a whole seems to teeter on this message of struggle. Something anyone who is alive can relate to…for the most part. During Coffee with Jesus we have been in the book of Philippians and before that Ephesians, both these books written by Paul. Paul isn’t afraid to share about his life of struggle and difficulty. Yet through it he reminds us that often the struggles we face help bare witness to the hope that we have in Jesus.

His rally cry for us is in Philippians 3:12-14
“It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose. Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.”

Let me remind us yet one more time of my life verse, my motto, my heart beat: Micah 6:8
“He has shown you oh man what is good and what does the Lord require of you? To do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

The purpose of life isn’t to be chained down by the pursuit of worldly happiness but to be free in Christ to live in the present joy of knowing Him.

You are Loved,

cj