Exploring Jesus…

I am so excited! Our small group decided to read John Eldredge’s Beautiful Outlaw for our next study. Reading it on my own, I managed to make it to Chapter 6. I can’t wait to read those first six chapters again. Eldredge’s pages and insights have already caused my Savior to become a real person to me and have allowed me to love Jesus like I never thought possible.

beautiful outlaw coverWe just finished our study on Francis Chan’s Forgotten God, which is all about the Holy Spirit, a perfect follow-up to the study on Acts that we did last autumn. How wonderful then to dive into exploring Jesus next.

Okay, so this gives a hint about how really real Jesus has become lately. While gearing up to write that tough second or third part of my testimony, I shot up a quick prayer, and these were my words: “Okay, I need a little help here, hun.” I paused and had one of those ‘ahem’ moments. Did I just called Jesus “hun”? Why, yes. Yes, I did. Was that irreverent? If so, it wasn’t intentional. Did he get a kick out of it? Probably so. So that got me to thinking about the terms of endearment Mary might’ve used during their intimate, domestic moments, at a dinner table, as they walked from one town to the next. What did Jewish mothers of the first century call their sons? That’s between them, I suppose.

Point is, exploring who Jesus really is during the coming weeks is going to provide one intimate moment after another. Nothing else will compare.

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Before the world began, Proverbs 8

My husband was so excited about this particular passage that he had to read it to me. Now, the footnote in my Bible says that Proverbs 8:22-31 concerns the origin of wisdom. All well and good. But when I imagined Jesus saying these things about himself, the passage took on a whole new layer of awesomeness:

“The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works,

before his deeds of old;

I was appointed from eternity,

from the beginning, before the world began.

When there were no oceans, I was given birth,

when there were no springs abounding with water;

before the mountains were settled into place,

before the hills, I was given birth,

before he made the earth or its fields

or any of the dust of the world.

I was there when he set the heavens in place,

when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,

when he established the clouds above

and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,

when he gave the sea its boundary

so the waters would not overstep his command,

and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.

Then I was the craftsman at his side.

I was filled with delight day after day,

rejoicing always in his presence,

rejoicing in his whole world

and delighting in mankind.”

sea-stacks-by-ivan-sohrakoff

Sea Stacks by Ivan Sohrakoff, 2011

Now, I had no idea how controversial this particular passage was until I tried to find it online. “Hotly debated” was a term I came across, in reference to the potential comparison between Jesus and wisdom as described here. So, take it or leave it. Me? If the wisdom belongs to Jesus, the LORD, YHWH, the Creator of you and me in the first place, then I say the passage describes him regardless. Our Creator longs for us to know him, and this passage might just give us a glimpse of how great he is. So let folks debate and miss a beautiful parallel, if that is their preference. I’ll just bask, thanks.

“We Were Family” from Forgotten God

My small group is reading the last chapter of Francis Chan’s Forgotten God this week, and I just came across the passage where Chan describes the story of a former gang member who joined his church, then after a few months left. He goes on to write:

When asked why he didn’t come anymore, he gave the following explanation: “I had the wrong idea of what church was going to be like. When I joined the church, I thought it was going to be like joining a gang. You see, in gangs we weren’t just nice to each other once a week–we were family.” That killed me because I knew that what he expected is what the church is intended to be. It saddened me to think that a gang could paint a better picture of commitment, loyalty, and family than the local church body.”

Forgotten God by Francis Chan, p. 152

This prompted me to write “Big Ouch!” in the margin. Is this how my church is? Is this how your church is? Better, is this how you perceive the church, the bride of Christ, as a whole? Gangs have to be tight, like family, to survive in their environment. And here we are, the church, bombarded continually on all sides by our enemy, and yet we are scattered, non-cohesive, disunited. No wonder he infiltrates so easily. Our defenses are full of holes. Our offense is next to nil.

Any ideas? Thoughts? Prayers? How about actions we can take as individuals to change this destructive trend?

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