We’re now into that part of John’s Gospel where things are turning against Jesus. In John 13 just before Jesus dismisses Judas to go do his dirty work of betrayal, He quotes from Psalm 41. As I was reading Psalm 41 tonight, I started to imagine that I was Jesus reading that Psalm, and understanding for the first time that it was about me. I wondered if that understanding came as a child, or whether it only came as Jesus was immersed in the events. Don’t know if there’s anywhere to go with that, but it was interesting.by beakennedy
You never know when you’re going to see someone for the last time. I last saw my brother Tom who I wrote about in March about a month ago before leaving for Africa. The day we were flying back last Sunday was the last time he was able to come to church. He crossed the river into the presence of Jesus today. The first thing that entered my mind when I heard the news was the first line of the chorus, “It Will Be Worth It All When We See Jesus.” I’m sure he would tell me that now if he could.
At the service last week, they sang some of Tom’s favorite songs. Here is one of them.
Sometimes the best preaching is the kind where all I jot down is quotes straight from scripture because there's not much "filler". That was the kind of message Paul Sr. preached Sunday morning. I've got about two whole pages of scripture and no fluffy stuff and nothing I don't know where to find in the Bible. But since the title of this post is quotes . . . .
Sunday night my brother from Brazil, Robson (pronounced Hobson) preached on Galatians 6:17.
"The marks — Scars always tell a story."
"What do you think about a person who would suffer so much for you?"
"The marks and scars we have will one day disappear. The only one left who will have marks on his body in eternity is Jesus."
"Jesus has the marks of love. It's a love that is eternal."
More from Jonathan:
"The Word became flesh . . . The world needs the word inside us to become flesh. They need to see the word lived out in our lives."
"We need to expand our vision and see this world as God sees it."
I think it was Rand who quoted this:
Some men die in battle;
Some die in flames;
But most die little by little
Playing silly games.
Phillip Pritchard had this to say:
"Some people think that missions began with the Great Commission, but it began with the fall of man."
"We must realize that, just as with Abraham, God blesses us so that we can be a blessing."
Here are a few memorable quotes from the first week.
Joe Davis, speaking about Jesus' words in Matthew 11:28-30 spoke about how young oxen are trained by being put into the yoke with an older, bigger, more experienced ox.
"The little ox doesn't pull anything. All he has to do is learn the yoke. The burden is all on the big ox."
Do you want to be a disciple of Christ? In Luke 14, three times Jesus says you can't be his disciple. "Verse 33 kicks most people right out the door. . . . He's not trying to keep people from being disciples. He's showing us what the path of discipleship is."
"Americans have so much stuff we're trying to get rid of some of the stuff so we can get more stuff."
"How can we make disciples if we are not disciples?"
"Christ is first. . . . He makes the choices. . . . He owns it all. . . . One of those three will knock most people out of the race."
"There are many things you can know about the Bible, but there are many things you will never understand until you give your life to the Gospel."
From Jonathan Quinn:
"God's priority is to redeem fallen man, not make us happy and comfortable."
"We think the community we live in is the world, but Jesus died for everyone on the face of the globe."
"We think the call to serve God is something only a few people have, but the call is to the world, and we're all responsible."
"There is going to have to be some suffering that has to take place in order to get the Gospel out to the world."
More later.by beakennedy
In the morning, I got left behind with the boxes while the rest of the team took them to the classes. It wasn't long before I was surrounded by about 30 kids all curious about the white lady and the boxes. As soon as I told them the boxes were full of Bibles, they all wanted one. It about killed me that I couldn't just crack open a box and start passing them out right there. The hunger in some of their eyes was obvious. I had a good time laughing and cutting up with the kids. One guy told me he was Elvis Presley. Eventually, they all ended up with tracts and began to break up into groups of four or five and sit down to read them.
One boy in particular seemed especially interested in having a Bible. He was in 12th grade and told me his name was Patrick. I quickly asked God to get that kid a Bible somehow along with the group of girls who had sat down right next to the boxes. Later, I did see that Patrick had gotten a Bible and was grateful for that. A bit later he came back and gave me the tract that had just been given to him not too long before with his name and address on the back and a check mark in the box indicating that he had received Christ.
Patrick is one of about 40 or so kids who returned their tracts to one of us while we were still there. Pray that these kids will grow in their faith and pray that they will follow Jesus all the way into eternity.
Update: Someone (not me) actually got a picture of Patrick. That’s him on the end of the bench reading a tract.by beakennedy
One more thing that sticks out in my mind from this brief trip. Most of the time I never see the people who clean the hotel room, but this time because I was working my usual schedule I got to speak with "Mary" several times. She seemed to be about my age, but maybe a lot harder life than I've had to deal with. On Sunday, I had a little more chance to talk to her. What she told me in that conversation has lodged in my brain.
The first thing she said was that she knew I would be nice when she saw my Bible in the room. I guess a lot of hotel guests aren't. She told me a couple of stories. But the thing I reallly want to remember about her is what she said next.
She said, "My goal is to learn to read so I can read the Bible." As we talked some more, it was clear that she had placed her faith in Jesus, but now she wanted to be able to read his words for herself. I thought about how saturated we are with Bibles in the churches in this country, and about how little we sometimes value these riches. I thought about how many people there are in the world — and right here in this country — who would love to have a Bible to read or who have set themselves the goal of learning how to read so that they can read the words of God for themselves. And I wondered if this was how education became a thing for the common people. I've read somewhere that where the Gospel has come to an illiterate culture, education isn't far behind.
A week from today I'll have the great privilege of taking God's word to people who can read, but don't have the ready access to Bibles that we do. I'm grateful for the opportunity to share my blessings.
What goal have you set for yourself?by beakennedy
Today, the ladies’ class discussed one of the most fascinating single verses of scripture we’ve arrived at to date.
Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. John 12:27-30
I still remember the instant in December 1997 when I went from not believing there even was a God outside of anyone’s immagination to being so sure he was actually in my car with me and had just changed my radio station that my whole life took an INSTANT 180 degree turn that hasn’t changed direction since. My response to this God that day was, “Alright, you’re there. Now what?” (Real reverent, I know. LOL)
It has occurred to me more than once over the years that the biggest miracle that day was not my radio station changing, but rather that my heart was changed. Had I arrived at that day with the same heart that led me to disbelieve in God in the first place, I would have done just what the Jews in John 12 did – explained it away – looked for a natural explanation like the weather – dismissed it as too much pizza the night before or a good imagination. I doubt if I would have called the angels out, since they were just as much a figment of the imagination as God was.
This fascinates me. So many times I have heard people (even said it myself):
1) Why doesn’t God just speak from heaven? Then I’ll believe, or
2) People back then were really gullible and didn’t know all that we do today about science and things.
The problem with both of those is, they weren’t any more gullible than people today. They resorted to exactly the same explanations we do, and I/they/you most likely wouldn’t believe it if God spoke from heaven anyway. Jesus put it fairly strongly when he suggested that if someone wouldn’t believe the scriptures that had already been given, they wouldn’t believe if someone was even raised from the dead. Still just as true 2000 years later as it was the day he spoke those words.
I remember Khoa, an exchange student who stayed with one of the families at my church for the year. The country he was from is fairly atheistic, and so for that year he came to church with his American family kind of like an observer/scientist. Then one day in the spring, there was a day when something happened at church that was totally arranged and orchestrated by God. He was in the room, I was in the room. Everyone who had any concept of God knew that God had showed up that day and that his presence had filled the room in a way that even we knew was special. No one was unaffected — except Khoa. Another lady asked him if he had noticed anything different, and he just looked back with a blank stare. She said to him, “You just saw God.” Well, I beg to differ, but I don’t think he did. I think he saw someone talking to the air and a bunch of other people standing around with their eyes closed. Thankfully, God soon opened the door for some serious discussions, and he did go home believing in this God that people had been telling him about all year.
This afternoon listening to the radio, Ravi Zacharias told about a non-theistic Buddhist mathematics professor who in courtroom testimony gave the odds of evolution actually happening totally based on natural processes as in the 10:40,000 exponent neighborhood. In other words, though he didn’t attribute anything to any kind of invisible God, he certainly wasn’t willing to chalk up to chance and natural selection something that is clearly totally outside the realm of reasonable probability – our universe. Fascinating that when asked how he explained the existence of life on earth he said that this world must have been seeded by another extraterrestrial civilzation.
Who has the greater faith?
Ravi made an excellent point in conclusion. It’s not the believer in God who is demonstrating a will to believe against all evidence. The resurrectiton of Jesus from the dead is one of those things that happened in history and can be looked at historically and rationally. Someone who believes that he was raised from the dead, especially someone who once did not believe, is not doing so AGAINST rational evidence but in concert with it. On the other hand, sometimes it is the unbeliever who is demonstrating a will to disbelieve despite all evidence to the contrary. This is really crystal clear in the verse above. The Jews who attributed the voice of God to natural processes – the thunder – had just seen Jesus restore sight to a blind man (John 9), and raise another man from the dead who had been in the ground four days (John 11), and had just been welcomed into Jerusalem as the King and Messiah of Israel – the one who had been prophesied to come for hundreds of years – and when he spoke of his coming death on the cross, God the Father spoke audibly from heaven to demonstrate his approval, and they said it sounded like the thunder. They didn’t deny that these things had happened. They denied that they — and Jesus — were from God.
An American minister was preaching in Portuguese as a guest pastor at a church for the Brazilian community in the borough of Queens in New York City. At one point, he proclaimed, Jesus está em nossa meia! and received a puzzled reaction from the congregation. He was trying to say, ‘Jesus is in our midst’ (Jesus está em nosso meio!), but instead it came out as, ‘Jesus is in our sock!’
Let’s just hope I don’t do what one poor soul did and ask for a poopy pretzel instead of a coconut pretzel. LOLby beakennedy