Friday, February 27, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Reset - Initial Thoughts

So I started reading Luke.

Did you? You were suppose to do this with me. And when you read it, try to read it like it is the first time you have ever read it. Don't jump ahead and say, "Yea, yea...I know this part." Read with fresh eyes.

I've only gotten to Chapter 5 and already have some questions. In fact, I have already bumped up against one of my perceptions of Jesus.

Scene 1
Early in His ministry, Jesus goes down to Capernaum to teach (Luke 4:31). While there, he draws attention, people are amazed, and Jesus becomes the talk of the town. He escapes to Simon's house for the evening. Simon's mother-in-law is sick with a high fever and Jesus heals her. She is so completely recovered, that she immediately gets up and begins to get dinner for them. Well, this gets everyone pretty jazzed and the hoards come from everywhere to get a piece of the healing action. During the chaos that must have been playing out, demons are cast out right and left, screaming, "You are the Son of God", but Jesus shuts them up because they knew too much, knew him to be the Messiah (Luke 3:41). What's up with that?

Scene 2
A few days later, in another town, a man with leprosy comes across Jesus and begs him to be healed. Jesus heals the man immediately, but tells the man not to tell anyone (Luke 5:14). Again, what's up with that?

Scene 3
A few days later, Jesus is teaching and another crowd gathers (he is quickly becoming one popular dude). A group of guys who have a crippled friend try to get their friend close enough to Jesus to be healed, but the crowd was too large. These are determined and ingenious guys, so they get their friend on the roof, cut a hole in the roof, and lower their friend down right in front of Jesus. Jesus is so impressed by the crippled man's friends that he forgives the man's sins (this incident warrants another discussion, but not right now). The religious scholars and leaders of the day get ticked off and ask Jesus who he thinks he is, forgiving sins. They say only God can do that. Jesus replies, "What's easier for me to say? 'I forgive your sins', or 'Get up and start walking'? So Jesus turns to the crippled man and says, "Get up". The man does and walks home with his bed roll.

Wait a minute. Do you see what has me puzzled? In the two prior scenes, Jesus makes a point of keeping his identity hidden. Secret. But in the final scene, he makes a point to identify himself to the crowd, and more importantly, to the Pharisees, as the Son of Man, who has authority to forgive sins and heal. And he not only identifies himself, he does it in such a way that he almost expects them to draw conclusions about who he is.

You see, one of my perceptions was that Jesus came to earth and lived among us to be known. But did he? Was this really why he came? Did he want to be known as the Messiah? If so, why didn't he shout it from the streets and tell everyone he met?

If you are married or have a significant other, you are not with that person because they told you at some point in your relationship that you were suppose to be their spouse. In fact, that would have turned you off. You would have run the other way as fast as you could. If you follow someone as a leader or mentor, or have someone that you admire, you are not drawn to them because they told you how wonderful they are. You discovered that for yourself, through getting to know them, learning about them, about what they like and don't like, about who they really are, through their actions, speech, and life.

I think that's just what Jesus does. I think Jesus is more interested in seeing what conclusions we draw about who he is, rather than tell us who he is. He wants to leave the discovery up to us. And it's a discovery that lasts a lifetime.

I'm interested in your thoughts, ideas, perceptions. Join in the discussion. Let's "Reset" together.

Monday, February 23, 2009


We are embarking on an experiment in our church. For the next 6 weeks, we are going to try to "reset" our perceptions of Jesus.

The cool thing (and there is more than one cool thing) is that about 40 other churches in the Cincinnati area are embarking on this experiment with us (or us with them).

Here' the premise: We all have perceptions of Jesus. Some of them might be accurate. Most of them are way off base. Hey...don't get offended. I'm included in that statement. Be honest. We're human - He's God. It's pretty presumptuous to assume we "get" what He is and was all about.

I would love for you to join me on this experiment. Let's share what we are learning and the questions we find ourselves asking. Nothing is off limits. Throw away your preconceived ideas of who you think Jesus was/is. Forget what you learned in Sunday School. Forget what your pastor/priest/rabbi/youth pastor told you about Him. Start new. Clean slate. Read Luke like it was the first time you have ever read it, and jot down your thoughts.

For starters:

Jesus is not:

a Christian
a Republican
just a good, moral teacher
a white skinned, blue-eyed man
an American, nor does America hold a special place in his heart
a peace-keeper
Mr. Rogers
interested in my money
looking for an opportunity to scold you

If any of these statements caught you off-guard or made you gasp (even a little)...GOOD! You're starting to reset already. If you're just mad and want to disown me as a friend, I ask you - "Is your faith strong enough to be pulled and stretched and flexed without being broken?" I hope so.

I don't know about you, but I think we become far too complacent in our faith. We go along thinking we have all the right answers. And we believe our "job" is to get everyone to believe everything we do. We surround ourselves with like-minded people who never challenge us. We become lukewarm. Milk-toast. We never question ourselves "because we've always believed that".

So, for the next 6 weeks, let's challenge and question each other. Let's learn together and be prepared to be surprised. God loves to surprise us! Let's expect it, rather than be afraid of it. Ready? Here we go. RESET!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Puzzled about Geese

There is one sight this winter that has caught my attention and caused me to muse: Geese.

There are several ponds on the property where I work. During the summer months, these ponds are full of geese, ducks, and a couple swans. They offer the feel of being part of a sanctuary (not considering the copious amounts of poop they leave behind).

But all winter, I see large quantities of geese (for whatever reason have chosen NOT to go south where it is warmer) standing and walking on the frozen ponds, and occasionally swimming in the frigid waters. Here's the question that has me puzzled:

Why do geese choose to spend their day on the ice rather than the ground?

During the coldest months of the year, these geese CHOOSE to sit and sleep on the ice. Why? I mean, there is grass right over there. Wouldn't it be more comfortable to stand or sleep on the ground than on ice? Even if I had a down sleeping bag, the best money could buy, and I had a choice of rolling it out and sleeping on the ground or the ice, I would choose ground. Wouldn't you? If your thinking they want to stay close to the water in case they get thirsty...they have friggin' wings!! They can fly over to the water to get a drink whenever they want. That's no excuse. Wow...maybe they're just lazy.

And what about their feet? Why don't they freeze and die? Have you ever thought about this? First, picture a goose foot. Have you ever seen one? They are skin and bone. They is no real quantifiable amount of meat (muscle) on a goose's foot. It is simply bone wrapped in black skin. So what keeps them from freezing? Our human appendages have more meat on them than geese feet and yet these are the most susceptible parts of our bodies to frostbite and freezing.

And while I am on geese, what's with that one-legged stand they do? I get the sense that they know we think they're rowing with one oar, and it's their way of saying, "Oh yea...take a look at this". I call it "goose antagonism". It's showing off. It really bugs me.
Oops...gotta go. I'm late for my therapist.