John

Tuesday Devotional: John 9

bibleRead John 9

John 9:31

“We know that God does not listen to sinners.  He listens to the godly man who does his will.”

 

Why does God engage with us?  When we are so are egregiously out of line in our defamation of His holy name.  When we are so frustratingly obstinate in our refusal to obey his will.  When we so easily dismiss the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ in order to justify our own self-righteousness and promote our own self-worship.  Why does God continue to engage within us?  What does a Holy God have to do with sinners?

Bacteria and a sterile environment cannot coexist.  Darkness cannot mingle with the light.  Sinfulness is a direct affront to holiness.  Why does God engage with us?  What the healed blind man spoke is true.  God in his righteous majesty is not expected or required to listen sinners like us.  Yet he does.  Why?  He listens to THE godly man who does his will.  And who has ever done his will in a way that honors the holiness of the living God?  None but Jesus.  Without the sacrificial lamb you have no chance.  There is no hope.  It is finished resulting in your eternal separation from the Father.  Yet, because of his wounds and by his blood it is finished resulting in an entirely different and far more miraculous way.  The condemnation of your sins is finished.  The punishment for your iniquities is finished.  The fear of death is finished.  Hallelujah!  It is by Jesus you have been saved, transformed, healed, welcomed back.  There is none but Jesus.

 

The Resurrection: Tombs to Trails

empty-tomb

It seems that year after year as the Easter and Christmas holidays draw near, one predictably sees a program or two concerning the newly found proof or evidence of the “real” Jesus. While these newly found discoveries never hold up, a popular topic of research is the search for the physical body of Jesus Christ. While historians and scholars are more willing now than in the past to affirm the historical existence of Jesus Christ, without belief in the resurrection, one is left searching for the body of the man who was crucified on the cross and subsequently died. The mystery that will remain a mystery to those unwilling to accept the story of the resurrection is that the location of the tomb of Jesus Christ has been lost to history, and no one can conclusively establish where the tomb actually is.

This mystery is made even more profound when one considers the cultural traditions of the Jewish people regarding the burial of prominent public figures. Such sites are extremely important. The celebration and glorification of those figures after their death, and the memorial to them in the hearts and minds of future generations is an invaluable treasure to a culture that so often throughout history has had very little to hold onto. From to the Gospel narratives, we also know that the body of Jesus was not simply thrown into an unmarked grave to be forgotten by future generations. The body of Jesus was buried in the tomb of an upper-class Jewish citizen, Joseph of Arimathea. His followers knew exactly where the tomb was, and they visited the tomb after his burial.

Mark 15:42-47:

It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.    

John 20:1-2:

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” 

Consider what a profound effect Jesus had on the Jewish people in general, for believers and non-believers alike. It is impossible to believe that if the life of Jesus did indeed end with his death on the cross, his followers not only defied their cultural practice of honoring the dead but more unbelievably, forgot the location of the tomb altogether.

While the tomb of Jesus has been lost to history, what has not been lost is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We do have plenty of proof that almost immediately following the death of Jesus, the disciples moved their eyes from the tomb of Jesus to the trails yet to be blazed in his Name as they set off to make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The disciples viewed the tomb as trivial in the presence of the reality of the risen Lord, as well as the job that lay ahead driving them to spread the Gospel to those yet to have heard.

In the presence of the dead body of a prominent figure buried in a prominent location, the history of the Jewish people would lead us to believe that the tomb would not only be remembered and marked but that it would be celebrated and preserved. However, in the presence of the resurrected Christ, the tomb becomes nothing more than a stepping stone in order to reach the greater intended heights established by Jesus Christ that the disciples set off to reach. We all know the phrase “history repeats itself,” and we might expect this in the Jewish treatment of the tomb of Christ. However, in this instance, history did not repeat itself. In this instance, the disciples contradicted history and set off in a direction that would ultimately rewrite history.

 

The Resurrection: Grief to Joy

The resurrection defines Christianity. Without the resurrection, there is no Christianity. Christianity then becomes the biggest scam, lie and embarrassment in all of human history. Without the resurrection, there is no remedy to sin: Christianity becomes the weapon of sin. The resurrection can be believed not only through the accounts of the Gospel narratives but by looking at the transformations and changes that affected those involved.

empty-tomb.jpg

One of the most striking realities of the Christian faith is the fact that the foundation of said faith is such a tragic and devastating story. The founder of the faith was crucified as a criminal and died. The symbol that became synonymous with the faith is the very instrument that brought its leader to his last breath. At the heart of the Christian story is blood, pain, suffering and sadness. Without the resurrection, the story of Jesus Christ is not only tragic, but to place faith in the story without the resurrection makes no sense whatsoever. Without the resurrection the story of Christianity is just sad. There is no place for joy, no place for hope, and no place for faith. In fact, given the promises of Jesus and the claims he made concerning his own life, without the resurrection the story of Christianity is embarrassing.

One of the most courageous acts of the early apostles and early Church was their honesty in recounting and retelling the life, death and resurrection of their leader, Jesus Christ. The accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are all brutally honest when describing the early leaders of the church. These disciples are not portrayed as men of unshakable faith. They are honestly described as thickheaded cowards. The most shameful example of their weaknesses comes after the death of Jesus on the cross. Instead of clinging to the promises of Jesus that he was meant both to die and to rise again on the third day, they allowed the simultaneous death of their hopes in Jesus as the Messiah and Christ they had hoped he was. In an instant, they scattered before fear, their hopes shattered by intense grief. As Jesus breathed his last, the disciples who were to go on to be the early leaders and evangelists of the Christian Church were not only doubting everything they had heard from Jesus while he was alive, but were distancing themselves from Jesus entirely in the hopes that they might be spared punishment, torture and perhaps the cross as well. Considering the context, a person seriously questioning the reliability of the resurrection account must then ask several questions, among them “What happened? Why did they change? Why did they continue on with such unfailing passion for Jesus as God? How did their grief turn to joy?”

As we ponder these questions, the list of possible explanations comes down to one unavoidable conclusion. The reason their grief turned to joy was because their leader lived, died and ultimately conquered death and sin as he promised through his resurrection.

John 16:16-33

Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”

At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”

Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”

“Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Without the resurrection there is no reasonable explanation of why these men would change their attitude, why they would include their cowardice in the Gospel narratives and why the Church after the death of Jesus not only survived, but began to grow at a furious pace in the face of mounting persecution.

Jesus is God in the Flesh: The Unity

The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re reflecting on the divinity of Jesus Christ. 

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If you profess faith in the Christian message, yet lack this belief about Jesus’ identity, you expose a complete lack of understanding of the very Bible wherein you find the figure of Jesus in the first place. The Gospel narratives leave no possibility to reject the deity of Jesus. Rather, they appreciate, rely on,  and believe in the message that he spoke.

We can better understand this vital truth about Jesus with these four points concerning Jesus and his teaching.

  1. The man of “The Name”
  2. The man of Authority
  3. The man of Unity
  4. The man of Forgiveness

For the next several weeks, we’re going to reflect on these indicators that support the divinity of Christ Jesus.

The Man of Unity

While many cling to the belief that Jesus was not one with God in personal identity, some will profess that Jesus was one with God in a way that emphasizes the “with” while excluding the “one.” To do this is to completely reject the words of Jesus since he himself spoke of his nature as being, “one with the Father.”

Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’
“But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word.
“Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”
So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. John 8:54-59

Despite this testimony, many persist in the viewpoint that Jesus was simply a gifted teacher endowed with Godly abilities to teach and to heal, but only to the extent that his teaching ultimately lead those to God and not to himself. This opinion places Jesus in the realm of Prophet and not Messiah. However, Jesus did possess qualities resembling those of the Old Testament Prophets. Jesus healed; so did Elisha. Jesus spoke the words of God connecting past, present and future seamlessly, directed by the Father himself; so did all the prophets.

Yet at a certain point, the unique qualities of Jesus separate him from the line of Prophets. His characteristics become the characteristics only seen in the Father himself, which not only aligns Jesus with the Father but makes them one. Most famously in the Gospel of John, Jesus openly declares to his disciples that he is “one with” the Father in Heaven.

“I and the Father are one.” John 10:30

“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” John 14:11

This oneness was not only on display throughout the ministry of Jesus in miraculous healings and resurrections, things only God could do. This oneness was not only on display in the form of his claims about himself, directly professing things that only God could profess. This oneness was not only on display by the way that Jesus fulfilled every prophecy about the coming Messiah as truly “Emmanuel” or “God with us.” This oneness was most powerfully on display when Jesus conquered death through the victory of the cross. That display of Godhead set in motion the transformation of the entire world, one person and one country at a time, through the dwelling of his heavenly Spirit in all those professing faith in the oneness of Jesus Christ and the Father as God in the Flesh, sacrificed for sin on the cross, resurrected on the third day and presently alive and awaiting the day of Judgment when all things will be made new, just as they were when he created in the beginning.

Jesus is God in the Flesh: the Name

The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re reflecting on the divinity of Jesus Christ. 

source

If you profess faith in the Christian message, yet lack this belief about Jesus’ identity, you expose a complete lack of understanding of the very Bible wherein you find the figure of Jesus in the first place. The Gospel narratives leave no possibility to reject the deity of Jesus. Rather, they appreciate, rely on,  and believe in the message that he spoke.

We can better understand this vital truth about Jesus with these four points concerning Jesus and his teaching.

  1. The man of “The Name”
  2. The man of Authority
  3. The man of Unity
  4. The man of Forgiveness

For the next several weeks, we’re going to reflect on these indicators that support the divinity of Christ Jesus.

The Man of “The Name”

As we have discussed in previous reflections, the question concerning the historical existence of Jesus is a question that at the present has more or less been answered by believers and non-believers alike. Such is our hard-heartedness to the Word of God that the moment one question is answered we seek protection behind yet another wall of objection. Thus, with history proving the existence of Jesus with the passing of time, the more common debate over Jesus more or less concerns his identity. Was he just a good teacher? Was he a prophet? Was he simply a rabbi? Did he view himself as anything more than any of these things? The fact that the Christian church survived, grew and continues to flourish is a testimony to the deity of Jesus and his oneness with the Father that we will soon discuss in further detail. However, since the current debate concerning Jesus not only calls into question who Jesus was to his followers, but who Jesus himself professed to be, the best source for His words is in the Gospels themselves.

What we find is that there are many times that Jesus clearly refers to himself as God. No words of his are more conclusive in this matter than the two words he uses frequently throughout the Gospel of John in settling any doubt as to who he knew he was. The two words are “I am.”

The words “I am” when translated reference the Hebrew name that God applied to himself, by himself, for himself in Exodus 6:11-15:

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.”

In Hebrew, the name is “Yahweh,” which translates into English simply as, “I am.” While the translation in English fails to capture the weight behind such a name, upon a closer look at the origins of the name in Jewish history and the Hebrew language, it is complete madness that Jesus chose to use the name the way he did and that his followers chose to include this detail in the Gospels.

According to the Jewish people, the name of God was so holy that it was illegal to say in public. So holy that scribes writing out the scriptures were required to cleanse themselves and destroy their writing utensils after writing the name due to its divine holiness. This was a Word that if uttered in public was punishable by death. In Israel, no one spoke this name aloud. Yet, the Gospel writers openly include the historical fact that Jesus chose to use this name not once, but many times, in public, to those he conversed with.

I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger.” John 6:35

I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12

I am the gate; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9

I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.” John 10:11

I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies.” John 11:25

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” John 14:6

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1

This behavior was unprecedented before Jesus. Jesus took it upon himself to use this illegal, holy name for one reason and one reason alone. He used it because it belonged to him.

Tuesday Devotional: John 2

Read John 2:1-11bible

All the miracles of Jesus Christ, while differing in context, exhibit similarities.  First, they address an immediate need.  In a culture where wedding celebrations were often a weeklong affair, preparation for entertainment that lasted the duration was paramount for the host families.  Failing to provide for the wedding guests throughout the celebrations would be a humiliation and embarrassment.  Although it appears that Jesus had no intention on displaying his power and glory at this point in time, he was aware of was the present situation and the need for assistance.  In the same way that the heart of Jesus went out to the widow who had just lost her son in Luke 7:11-17, his heart went out to the families facing this humiliation, and he acted.  Jesus never sought self-protection or self-glorification.  With every miracle he brought more attention to himself as the Messiah, which was a claim punishable by death.  After many of his miracles he instructed the healed to not announce his role in the miracle.  His heart sought the healing of others at the expense and sacrifice of his own comfort or safety.

Secondly, the miracles of Jesus always use what is available, what is present, to remind us that he is with us and is all around us.  We were never meant to assume that faith in him meant only to seek him beyond the world we live in.  We must understand that we are in this world but not of it.  His miracles help us understand that his healing power is present in this world and can change it with what he has already provided.  The miracles are in us already, and around us daily.  They are simply sitting idle, awaiting the releasing power of the Holy Spirit, which can change jars of stone and well water into the finest wine.

Lastly, the miracles of Jesus release a quality and experience that exceeds anything we have ever experienced before.  His healing is not a return to normalcy, but an entry into new life.  A life healed by the miracle of Jesus Christ is not simply improved.  A life healed by the miracle of Jesus Christ is made new in the most unexpected ways.

 

Born Again: Success (John 3)

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Welcome to Week 4 of our reflection series “Born Again.” The born again life is focused on Christ’s power and nothing else. Through this reflection series, we’re looking at the things that try to take center stage in our lives. This week, we’re studying what John 3 has to say about “Success.”

Read John 3.

At the heart of every sin, since the original fall, is our inclination to look God in the face and say, “I know better. I can do it without you.” In the third chapter of John’s Gospel we have two individuals, and two differing approaches to Christ. The stories of both provide us direction and warning in becoming too aware of our knowledge and success, and how that relates to the process of spiritual rebirth.

Nicodemus

It is no secret that Nicodemus had a sincere interest in Jesus and continued to take an interest in Jesus even following the Crucifixion.  For a man to step onto the unpopular side of the line in the face of mounting criticism is commendable, and Nicodemus is honored by being included in the Gospel of John as the Pharisee quite unlike the rest. However, as one looks at this discourse between the Pharisee and Jesus, we see two things that we must become aware of when we look at being born again, in both his physical and spiritual approach to Jesus.

The first thing we see is that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. This is not a trivial piece of information. In fact, it says volumes about what is going through Nicodemus’ mind. The word is “secrecy.” Nicodemus does not want to be seen conversing with Jesus. His interest in Jesus, although sincere and genuine, is still enslaved by the potential judgment of his fellow colleagues, were they to hear that he met, “the teacher.”  Likewise, as we approach the Gospel, it is easy to be concerned about how your new interest in life with Jesus will meet the ears of those close to you who, unlike you, have no interest in the Gospel.

Our place among friends, co-workers and family is important to all of us, and to do something that we know will jeopardize those delicate relationships is difficult, to say the least. In many ways, our identities are inextricably linked to these relationships, so to choose to do something that might threaten this bond or connection is like choosing to commit identity suicide.  To do something so risky as to threaten these bonds is like losing your life. This is serious business in which not many are willing to engage. This is where we see Nicodemus. Although his interest is enough to get him in front of Jesus, the fear of committing identity suicide is far too great, and so he seeks Jesus in the dark.

One of the many things that happens upon being “reborn” is an inner augmentation of perspective. The more one starts to see Jesus as “the way, the truth, the life” the more we start to see all other things in this world as “a way, a truth, a life.”  The larger Jesus gets in our hearts and minds, the smaller everything else gets. Or, to use his example, Jesus always refers to himself and his disciples by using the contrast of light and dark.  So, in the area of spiritual rebirth, the more one steps into the light with Jesus, the more one wants to remain in the light with him.

The second thing we see with Nicodemus is a mental and spiritual barrier preventing him from understanding Jesus’ explanation about being “born again.” Nicodemus has been trained so effectively in one train of thought that it seems nearly impossible for the logic of Jesus to find any room in his reasoning.  His mind was fixated on literal possibilities, while Jesus is speaking from a standpoint of Godly potential. But this aspect of rebirth is the most exciting part.

For most people, scripture is bland and two dimensional, and at times, life itself feels rather two-dimensional.  However, when we are born again, we encounter “the Counselor,” the Holy Spirit, who testifies to the truth Jesus spoke to Nicodemus. Upon his arrival in our lives, we move from two-dimensional perspectives into multidimensional realities with endless possibilities. To be born again is to become privy to the endless possibilities of God’s plans, wisdom and presence that, in a world where impossible is impossible, suddenly all things are possible through Christ.

John the Baptist

The second character we read about in this selection of scripture is John the Baptist. In many ways, John is an excellent representation of the born again spirit. During his preaching years he gathered a large and adoring crowd of followers. We learn many things from the life of John the Baptist, but no trait is better exemplified by his life than humility.

John had every right, according to the world, to think that he was something special. He had every right to think that he had unparalleled authority and power to do whatever he desired. But his behavior shows us the opposite. The portrait we see of John the Baptist is a humble servant who looks at Jesus “the Christ” and says, “He must become greater, and I must become less.Being reborn means arriving at a critical point of restructuring. The born again life gets restructured internally and externally. Internally, we realize that in the presence of God we are nothing. We realize that without God we are nothing. We realize that because he is everything, with him we can finally be something.

Upon being reborn we lose our right to the throne, because it is forever occupied by Christ. This not only gives us profound respect and admiration for God, but it provides increasing confidence in his voice and character, and reveals our temporal and shake-able selves.  Externally, we no longer expect our well-deserved and long overdue adulation from the world. We realize that, without the servant who suffered for us, we would be left with nothing real. Finally, we  realize, in our awareness of our forgiven and sinful state, that our place among men is simply a sinner among sinners.  With this yoke of pride and superiority removed from our necks, we are then free to give of ourselves in a way that puts us on an increasingly solid footing with our Friend and Savior Jesus Christ. The opportunity to experience him becomes our life’s desire and, rather than clinging to our old identities, we come into a shared existence with Jesus that overpowers our lust for worldly praise.

 

Above All Else: Courage

(See the first part of this series here.)pen-and-paper_400x295_39

Today we’re talking about courage

Courage to take God into our storms.

One thing we can all unanimously agree on is that life is not easy.  Jesus never hesitated to make this clear to his disciples:

“In this world you will have trouble…”

This world has been broken and we all experience its brokenness daily.  The days that we view to be perfect are few and far between, typically outweighed by days are a struggle in some form or another.  It is in the face of these daily “storms” that, as Christians, we are meant to carry our cross, to never stop “running the race,” to finish while also continuing to “fight the good fight.”

This holy expectation is much more easily said than done.  When we face life as we know it, with all of its uncompromising and unaccommodating realities, it can be a challenge to “just have faith.”  Using our own power to manipulate a situation or force an outcome seems more appealing and realistic than turning toward a higher, and unseen power.   Turning to God and seeking His direction and power is always something that, as Christians, we know we ought to do but is more often than not something we feel is quite impossible to do.

When we hear the word, “courage,” we often conjure up images of a person who takes on a situation in a way that is not typical, a way quite unlike the way the rest of us would.  We apply it to soldiers, firefighters and people suffering severe oppression without giving up or quitting.  We wish we had more of it, or any of it.  Courage is not normal.  It’s fitting for the superheroes among us, but not something that the average person can ever entirely possess.

Courage is simply doing something that most people would not because of fear, whether of harm or failure or anything else.  It’s to do something that seems unlikely to succeed but admirable to attempt.  In addressing courage through these eyes that we see the heart of Christianity.

Christianity was, at its foundation, inauspicious.  In a quick overview of the initial years of this new religious sect called “The Way,” it is a surprise that it ever went anywhere beyond the neighborhoods nestled in the hill towns dispersed throughout Israel, let alone expand into the global faith that it is today.  In its delicate beginnings, there was every reason to believe that this sect would quickly die out, and that the world would soon forget or never hear the name ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ within several decades of his death.  As for the Christians that followed Jesus and continued to preach the Gospel, there was every reason to believe that their message would die out as they gradually did.  These men and women held no powerful social standing or political influence to make their growing faith a force to reckon with.  They were predominantly peasants and outcasts, with limited resources, preaching a word that condemned them to brutal persecution and social oppression.  However, regardless of the dire state of things, they continued to believe, they continued to preach and they continued to experience the living God.

Courage.

From day to day we all encounter difficulties that seem hopeless or at least try us, emotionally or physically.  These difficulties could reduce faith in Jesus to wishful thinking or outlandish mythology.  But upon reaching this crossroad it is clear that only one road requires courage and the other does not.  Taking on our problems ourselves is not only void of courage but, as a Christian, quite pathetic.  To seek the power that was despised and rejected, to seek the council of the Spirit that no one understands is to do the one thing that no one would expect you to do.  Holding true to a minority position often requires courage.  It is in the minority that a Christian truly finds Jesus.  Considering this, the choice to take Jesus into the storms of our lives is courageous. In doing so, we find common ground with our brothers and sisters of the early Church.  Their choice to take Jesus to every storm they encountered paved the way for us.  They witnessed the end of the statement of Jesus as well as the beginning:

“In this world, you will have trouble…”

But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”