Posted tagged ‘prophet’

Keeping Jesus

July 14, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             July 14, 2017


“At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.’” (Luke 4:42-43)

I admit it! I have a personal blanket! I am a sixty three year old man with his own “blankie.” It is somewhat tattered now since I started using it shortly after Carol and I were married 38 years ago. It was hers before it gradually got pulled over to my side of the bed.

No one else uses my blanket. After seeing it you would understand why no one else would WANT to use it!  It is my mine!

There are certain things in each of our lives that we are a bit bizarrely possessive of. Some of them, like a coffee mug with our name on it, make sense. And then there’s others, like my blanket, that are a bit of a reach.

Sometimes churches try to keep Jesus! They allude to the idea that Jesus shows up at their house every weekend. Yes, he’s present at other churches, but he is REALLY PRESENT at their location. If you REALLY want to encounter the Savior you are urged to come by their campus. There is a tendency to equate the size of a church with the level of Jesus’ presence!

When Jesus went to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, he drove out some evil spirits, healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law (who immediately got up and started cooking up some dinner for Jesus and the others), healed other people of a variety of sicknesses, and then the next morning went out to a solitary place. His plan was to head to another town, but the people of Capernaum tried to keep him there. When something of God has happened there is a tendency to try and corner the market.

If Jesus would have stayed at Capernaum he would have been a resident prophet, a wise man that people would come to, a scholar-in-residence! He would have gained job security and a regional following, but lost his calling. His path was to take him out of town. He doesn’t even call his disciples until a little while later…when Capernaum is in the distance of his rear view mirror.

It’s interesting that the theology of many churches ripples out from the Great Commission of Jesus that tells his followers to “go”, but the behavior of churches is to “keep.” Excuse the expression, but we want Jesus to be our personal “blankie” that keeps us safe and spiritual. He isn’t to be borrowed by someone else. If they want to snuggle up with our Jesus they need to come to us, because we’re keeping him.

And so we encounter congregations that tell us we can in turn encounter Jesus if we show up at their place. I have learned to avoid churches that seem smugly sure of their resident Savior, and I search for people of faith who humbly hope for his presence. Like Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, they are people who have been restored and reconciled and are now seeking to wait upon Jesus.


Talking To An Ass

March 10, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        March 10, 2016


This morning I read the story of Balaam in Numbers 22-24. Let’s be honest! It’s a weird story!  Balaam had a reputation. Those he blessed were blessed, and those he cursed were cursed. As this story goes, Balak, king of Moab, wants Balaam to come and curse the Israelites.

Balaam inquires of the Lord, who tells him “No go!”

But then Balak sends a more distinguished group of emissaries to ask Balaam once again to come and curse the Israelites. This time God says “Okay!”

Balaam saddles up his donkey to head on the journey to where Balak is, but God gets angry (Numbers 22:21) and his angel appears in the road with a sword ready to kill Balaam. The donkey veers to the side, and, in so doing, saves Balaam’s life.

This happens three times, and each time Balaam beat his ass! What he can’t see, his donkey sees clearly.

After the third time, and the third beating, the scripture says that God gave speech to the donkey (Numbers 22:28).

And then Balaam starts talking to the ass!

Over the years I’ve talked on a daily basis to the cats we’ve had as pets. I’m also prone to talk to the drivers of cars that cut in front of me even though my windows are closed. In each of those situations, however, I don’t expect dialogue with the one I’m talking to.

With Balaam the story never hints that he is surprised that his trusted means of transportation is having a heated conversation with him. It’s a story with two asses, one by nature, and the other as a result of actions and bone-headed decisions.

It’s Mr. Ed before his time!

And then God opens Balaam’s eyes to see what his trusted donkey had been seeing, and Balaam realizes, pardon the phrase, that his ass had saved his ass!

Like I said, it’s a weird story, but there are a lot of things that each one of us do that also don’t make sense!