In his 1952 book, Mere Christianity, Oxford scholar and theologian C. S. Lewis forcefully argued that you can not simply dismiss Jesus as a great teacher of morality without dealing with Jesus’ claims to be divine. 

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic…or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.

In the 1970s, Josh McDowell, a preacher with Campus Crusade For Christ, gave evangelizing sermons which summarized this reasoning as Jesus being: “Lunatic, Liar or Lord.” McDowell preached this alliterative challenge to millions in person and in print.

Believers have long sought to get people to examine what the gospels really say about Jesus and what they record Jesus as saying about Himself. Taking the gospel accounts seriously makes us seriously consider Jesus.

But recent presentations of this line of reasoning have needed to add a new element. Now the reasoning is “Liar, Lunatic, Legend or Lord.” “Legend” has been added to answer the arguments of unbelievers who do not accept the scriptural evidence that Jesus said and did such things. Skeptics cast doubt on the gospel record by a rough treatment of it that no other ancient records are subjected to. The trustworthiness of scripture used to be assumed, and then we could debate its meaning. Now many, even if they agree about what the text says, will argue that the record doesn’t mean much.

If people meant “legendary” to be “famous, remarkable and illustrious” then Jesus is more of it than any other. But skeptics use it to mean “fables, myths or stories” and dismiss Jesus' importance as presented in the gospels. 

C. S. Lewis was a great literary scholar, well trained in myths and fables, stories and legends. He was even a notable author of them. When he turned his scholarly expertise to the scriptures, he concluded: 

As a literary historian, I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the Gospels are they are not legends. I have read a great deal of legend and I am quite clear that they are not the same sort of thing…  (“What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?” God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, 1972)

As much as the skeptics like to say otherwise, it is not the search for truth, scholarship or reason driving them to reject Jesus. Rather, it is the usual suspects of selfish desire, pride and deception. The devil doesn’t care so much how or why you dismiss Jesus—only that you do.

The Eyes Of The Lord

All things are known and open to the eyes of the Lord. This can be either a chilling realization or the greatest comfort. Amos (9:8) said “the eyes of the Lord GOD [are] on the sinful kingdom” while Moses recorded, “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD” (Gen. 6:8).

God’s thorough knowledge of us finds all things, good and bad. The Proverbs say, “For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, And He watches all his paths” (5:21) and “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good” (15:3).

God’s full knowledge is often unnerving for the sinful and gives them lots of motivation to deny it. Eliphaz, one of Job’s companions, spoke of those who said: “What does God know? Can He judge through the thick darkness? Clouds are a hiding place for Him, so that He cannot see” (Job. 22:13,14). This is folly. The gospels repeatedly affirm, “For nothing is hidden that shall not become evident, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light” (See Matt. 10:26; Mark 4:22; Luke 8:17 and 12:2). 

While many think that God’s knowledge is for just for catching out and condemning, there is another greater aspect to this all-seeing vision. But Peter said, quoting the 34th Psalm: “THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE UPON THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER” (1 Pet. 3:12).

As the little know prophet Hanani told king Asa of Judah so long ago, recorded in 2 Chron. 16:9, “The eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

Live so that the eyes of the Lord may find and strongly support you.

Dilly Dilly?

If you watched much tv lately, you’ve surely heard the commercial catch-phrase, “Dilly Dilly.” Its gained enough cultural currency that serious pieces have been written to explain its origin and meaning. 

The best explanation I’ve heard is from the actor who portrays the commercials’ lead character, who said, “I don’t know what it means, but I do know it’s one letter away from being ‘silly silly.” That is undeniably true. Who knows whether this will endure like other commercial catchphrases like, “Just Do It,” “Wasssup,” “They’re Great” and “Where’s The Beef?” 

Meanwhile, the beer company sponsoring the ad campaign is soaking up the all the attention—and no, the irony of that observation is not at all lost on me. “Dilly Dilly” is, by itself, harmless playfulness, but the product promoted by it, with its inherent harms, is not. The scripture says: 

“Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, Those who go to taste mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly; At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper.” (Prov. 23:29-32)

Likely, as the old Persian proverb says, “This too shall pass.” In the future who will much remember or care if we “Dilly-ed” or not? But what God warned about drinking, and other things in His word, these will remain throughout the generations. “BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ABIDES FOREVER.” And this is the word which was preached to you.” (1 Pet. 1:25) Let His words be the words of our lips and the meditation of our hearts.

Known For What You Do — And What You Don’t

The apostle Paul’s instructions to the Corinthian church fully showed this truth. He began by telling the Christians there not be divided, but united in the mind of Christ, saying “…Agree, and [let] there be no divisions among you, but [be of] the same mind and in the same judgment” (1:10).

Christians agreement and faithfulness can only be maintained when we aren’t deceived into thinking that sin, or the influence of sinful people, doesn’t affect us. So Paul warned, “Do not be deceived…the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God,” and he listed a number of sexual sins and other destructive behaviors that these Christians used to do, but they’d been cleansed of in Christ (1 Cor. 6:9-11). It was imperative that they no longer do these things. They also needed to know that hanging around the people who still did them was destructive as well. So he said, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Cor. 15:33).

The apostle was obviously worried some Christians were too close to worldly-mind and poor behaving people. So he reminded them “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men” (1 Cor. 7:23) and “Do not be bound together —unequally yoked - KJV— for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness?” (2 Cor. 6:14).

How could Christians get so wrapped up in so many sinful things and become entangled with such sinful people? Selfishness and ignorance are usually culprits, so he instructed them about priorities and maturity, saying, “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor” (1 Cor. 10:24), and “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; [but] mature” (1 Cor. 14:20)

His Kingdom Is Righteousness, Peace And Joy

Far too often this is a world of unholiness, conflicts, and sorrow. But in this vale of tears, bitterness and despair do not have to be our only lot. In Christ, we can come to a wonderful kingdom that is not “eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:7).

This is not the short-lived worldly joy of fortunate circumstance, the fleeting pleasures of controlling possessions or triumphing over others. Rather here we find the deeper satisfaction for the soul, and we find a place of love and seeking the best for others and “offering prayer with joy…for all” (Phil. 1:4). 

It is a joy “made full” (Jn. 16:24) in Christ and “made complete” (1 Jn. 1:4) in the words and hope of the gospel. 

It is the sublime “joy and peace of believing” that causes us to “abound in hope” (Rom. 15:13). It is the “joy of salvation” (Ps. 51:12) when we turn from sin and back to God.

It is the “joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 1:6) that we have in spite of every difficulty, even an “overflowing of joy in all our affliction.” (2 Cor. 7:4)

It is the fruit of the Spirit that is accompanied by “love, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22,23).

Our joy here, great and enduring as it is—as Jesus promised “your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you” (Jn. 16:22)—is only a  foretaste of what is to come when we are called forward to “enter into the joy of our master,” (Matt. 25:23) when we can, as Jude (vs. 24) promised, “stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.”


The government’s alert system message to Hawaiians was stark:  


The message had only one fact correct. It wasn’t a drill. It was a mistake. Thirty-eight minutes later, longer than the time it would have taken missiles to arrive from North Korea, a correction was sent. Between those times there were reports of panic and confusion and prayer, with people taking cover in bathrooms and storm drains—and modern folks make fun of the “duck and cover” drills of previous generations. Since the correction, the most common reaction has been anger. 

It usually takes a near-death experience or terminal illness diagnosis to get people to consider their own mortality seriously. We know we will die, but we like to live in denial as long as possible. Yet death is an unyielding reality. The scriptures inform us of this and ask us to prepare for it.As it says in Heb. 9:27: “…it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment…”

Unlike the Hawaiian message, the Bible message is not in error and is one of hope—as it also contains the message of salvation unto eternal life. In 2 Tim. 2:9,10, the apostle Paul speaks of the “…grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus…who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 

True consideration our own mortality is never pleasant, but it so much more bearable, and even fulfilling, when we can look at it through to eye of faith and see at our side Jesus, who conquers death and promises life to us.

Don’t Be Like Israel In The Wilderness

The apostle Paul was trying to call the Corinthians to a holy life in Christ and get them to realize that even though they'd been baptized and had spiritual food and drink (1 Cor. 10:1-4), the sacramental parts of Christianity, by themselves, are not enough to save. They had to really take the holy life and dedication part of Christianity to heart, or else they would be just like the wilderness generation of Israel that was delivered from bondage in Egypt, but the scripture says, “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.” (1 Cor. 10:5).

The Apostle Paul explained that the reason for that disaster was because of the same type of things that the Corinthian were doing. So he told them, “Don’t crave evil things” (vs. 6), “Don’t be an idolater” (vs. 7), “Don’t be immoral” (vs. 8), “Don’t test and try the Lord’s patience” (vs. 9), and “Don’t grumble” (vs. 10). 

The wilderness generation did every one of those things and suffered the ultimate penalty for it—and too many of the Corinthian Christians were doing the very same thing. (We wouldn’t do those things too, would we?)

So if they thought they could stand before God while living like that, they needed to, “take heed lest they fall” (vs 12). But if they were willing to resist temptation, God would help them greatly, and gave them this promise:

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.” (vs. 13)

Yes, thanks be to God!—Who gives us such help when we seek it.

The Last, And Far Superior, Adam

The father of us all, according to the creation account in Genesis, is Adam. The apostle Paul said he was a “type of him to come” (Rom. 5:14), and that Jesus is the “last Adam” and the giver of true life (1 Cor. 15:45). The parallels and contrasts between Christ, “the last Adam,” and the first Adam are almost endless. 

  • Seeking to be like God, the first Adam gave into temptation in a garden. The last Adam, who is God who became man, beat temptation in a garden. 
  • The first gave up a part of himself to receive his bride. The last gave His life for His.
  • The first followed his deceived wife into sin. The last asked His bride to follow His voice to know the truth. 
  • The first found out he was naked, hid from God and was given clothes. The last had His clothes taken away publicly and was shamed for our sake so that we could all approach God. 
  • The first Adam blamed his bride, while the last took the blame for His bride. 
  • The first multiplied thorns for all us by receiving a curse for his sins. The last wore thorns while taking the curse for us all. 
  • The first fell by listening to the serpent say, “take and eat,” while the last listened fully to God and told His disciples, “take and eat, this is My body.”
  • The first worked a garden that had the tree of life in it—but lost access to it. The last was actually mistaken for a gardener after His resurrection (Mary Magdalene in Jn. 20:15), and invites all to a garden-like city where the tree of life is restored and its fruit free for the taking in the presence of God.  

Don’t Be That Guy—Book Of Romans Edition

Six times in the book of Romans the apostle Paul tells us what not to be, mostly in the 12th chapter. Consider these things we aren’t to be or to do: 

11:20  “Do not be conceited, but fear…”
12:2  “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
12:11  “not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord”
12:16  “do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.”
12:21  “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Don’t be arrogant in spiritual things. Don’t be conformed to this world. Don’t lag in devotion to God. Then there is another warning not to be arrogant, but this time not towards others. And don’t let evil rule you.

In these things we see a very heavy concentration on full devotion to God and treating others well. Just like Jesus said when addressing the greatest commandment: “Love God will all your heart, soul, mind and strengthen. and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:26-40). 

No, don’t be that guy who puts himself first and is arrogant to God and man and tries to use both to his own selfish advantage. In this you will also fulfill Paul’s final instruction of what not to do:

13:8  “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”

With What Shall We Come To The Lord?

How do we approach God? Do we bring gifts or sacrifices or votive offerings? Do I need to have some else do it for me? Should I find a priest or intercessor who can prepare the way for me?  

We are not alone in wondering about this. In the Old Testament, the prophet Micah asked exactly this same question, saying:

Micah 6:6-8  “With what shall I come to the LORD And bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, With yearling calves? Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my first-born for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

What was the answer that came from God’s spokesman? Not expensive gifts, or numerous sacrifices, and certainly not anything like the abominable offerings that the pagans gave to show their devotion. No, nothing external at all. Just practice justice to people, love kindness and show it and be humble. 

In one way, these things are simple and every last person, regardless of resources or standing, can do them. But to really, truly, in the sight of God—who knows all things and the thoughts and motives of our hearts—be just, kind and humble—that makes buying gifts and sacrifices seem simple and easy, doesn’t it? But what does God really want? We know, don’t we? Be just, kind and humble.

Let Us Choose To Hear And Speak By Faith

We are currently a nervous and tense society. The level of civil discourse that we are presented and participate in via media and social media is increasingly strident and less civil. A selfish and secular mindset has shaken the pillars of stability that traditional faith and values helped secure. We are left with a world of increasing chaos and uncertainty. Fear and anxiety abound and little of what we hear is shaped by faith. 

Add personal struggles with health, grief, guilt, and disappointment within—the result is that often little of what we say is shaped and directed by faith either. 

As the people of God, we need to be nourished, and to nourish others, by words of faith. This does not mean that we can explain, fix, or even understand all the things wrong in a world were “What is crooked cannot be straightened, and what is lacking cannot be counted.” (Eccl. 1:15). 

Rather than becoming anxious, fearful, bitter, and lashing out like the world, let us turn to God, take refuge in Him and receive and embrace the peace He offers.

We can choose to not feed the fear that Satan is spreading.

We can choose to not speak and act from anxiety. 

We can choose to trust in God and live the way He calls us to live.  

We can choose to love as He calls us to love.

We can choose to serve the way He calls us to serve.

We can choose to hear words of faith and grace and speak them, and spread His peace.

Batman Expresses Our Deepest Desire

Ok, maybe not Batman, but Ben Affleck, the actor currently playing Batman on the big screen. Speaking of the appeal of superhero movies he said in an interview published in US Today:

We certainly are in need of heroes in 2017. There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world, from natural to man-made disasters, and it’s really scary. Part of the appeal of this genre is wish fulfillment: Wouldn’t it be nice if there was somebody who can save us from all this, save us from ourselves, save us from the consequences of our actions and save us from people who are evil?

Someone to save us from this world of troubles, to save us from ourselves, to save us from evil and the consequences of our own actions — the actor is right, this really is one of humanity’s deepest wishes. And we have within us a great moral intuition and longing that there really should be a savior out there for us all. The good news of the gospel is that there is such a Savior.  The gospel cry of hope to a lost and dark world is that He has come and that He has risen, and that He is calling. As the apostle Paul said:

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all…I found mercy…as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” (1 Tim. 1:15,16)

This is not the imaginary hope of escapist novels, movies and comic books, but the real and living hope of all who know Christ. So we say: 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:3-5).

We Don’t Have Answers, But We Do Have God

This broken world has caused us to mourn yet again. Senseless murders are occurring with increasing frequency and hitting ever closer to home. Country music fans (I’m one of those) were gunned down in Las Vegas. Worshippers in a small church in small-town Texas were gunned down during services. I worship in a small church in a small town, even though I no longer live in Texas. 

Our heartfelt anguish is amplified because it is so easy to identify with the victims making it easy to follow the scripture that says, “weep with those who weep.” (Rom. 12:15). But what escapes me are answers, even though I’d dearly love to know and share them. Why’d they do it? Why’d God allow it? What meaning do we look for so many senseless deaths? 

Yet even in times when we have no answers we still have a hope in Christ to share. When we don’t have any idea of what to do, we still have Him and we still have each other. 

The way of God—loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves—will give us a purpose, a reason and a destiny when every illusion of safety is shattered and folks are laid as bare as Job. 

In such times we think not just of today, but to eternity and rely fully on God. As the scripture says:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” (Prov. 3:5,6)

God’s Books Of Wisdom

There is a set of five books in the middle of the Old Testament that together are known as the “Books of Poetry” or the “Wisdom Literature.” These are books of Hebrew poetry, poetry at an exquisite level, but even more importantly, they are the wisdom of God for us in some of the most important areas of life. 

These five books are
    the book of Job - how to suffer
    the collection of Psalms - how to pray
    the book of Proverbs - how to act properly and wisely
    the book of Ecclesiastes - how to enjoy life
    and the Song of Solomon - how to love

The New Testament tells us to take this wisdom from God seriously and to learn from it, giving us this inspired summary: “You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” (Jas 5:11)

Let us look again to the wisdom that our maker gave us to endure, to succeed and even to prosper in difficult and practical areas of life and of the heart. How successful or not we deal with these parts of life will largely determine for us if our life is one of fullness and blessing or of want and misery. Turn again to the book of God and see how the outcome for the God’s faithful will show His grace and compassion. 

Jesus, The Forerunning Of Salvation For Us

A forerunner is a scout, and advance person, one who prepares the way by going before the others, a pathfinder, a trailblazer, a guide. 

Normally the forerunner we think of in the gospels is John the Baptist, who was prophesied to be the forerunner of Christ. Luke 1:17, quoting prophesy says, “It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah…” This prophesy foretold John as turning “THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” He did this by preaching repentance and baptism.

But this is not the only “forerunner” in the gospel. Just as John went ahead of Jesus readying the way for Him, Jesus goes ahead of us to ready the way to heaven. 

It says in Heb. 6:19,20, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

He has done what we cannot yet have done. He has not shown what we otherwise could not yet know. He has gone beyond death, through the veil.  He has gone to where we cannot yet see to prepare and open up the way for us. We can, and must, fully trust Him to lead the way because He has gone there Himself. 

If we want to go to heaven we must follow the one who laid down, who marked out and who traveled the path for us, who alone showed us the way to go — and that is the One, Jesus Christ. 

Jesus Is Eternal Life To Us

1 John 1:1-3  “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life—

2  and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—

3  what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

The ultimate spiritual hope for mankind is eternal life with God. God offers this to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ. This is so connected to Jesus that John stated, we “bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life.” Then he tells what they saw and heard and touched of Jesus, and then calls Him the Word of Life. 

Why is Jesus eternal life and the word of life? The gospel say that Jesus is the one that we can ask about eternal life (Matt. 19:16), and He is the one who teaches us about eternal life (Matt. 19:29; 6:47). That believing in Him brings us eternal life (Jn. 3:15,16,36; 5:24; 6:40,47) and that He gives eternal life to His followers (Jn. 10:28; 17:2)

Later New Testament writers tell us that eternal life is a free gift (Rom. 6:23), by His mercy (Jude 21).

Eternal life is so fully connected to Jesus and only Jesus that John speaks of His as “the eternal life” (1 Jn. 1:2 and 3:2) and concludes that: “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 Jn. 5:11).

The God Of All Comfort

Socially, culturally and politically our nation is going through some difficult times. At the same time, many people are quietly waging their own battles with personal, spiritual, financial, and emotional problems. Then add troubles with relationships and health issues. It’s as the the apostle Paul said, “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” This effects believers also, “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” (Rom. 8:22,23)

Difficulties come to everyone sometimes, and more often to some. Troubles can be of own making, or through circumstances beyond our control. No matter how or why they come, most of us can find ways to make them worse or last longer. We can we try to ignore them, living as blissfully as possible in denial — then they grow like compounding interest. 

Or, being worn down or in distress, we want strike out in anger and in destructive ways that make us feel better for the moment, but in the end only make things worse. So most of us just deal it as best we can until the irritation and wear become too much to bear.

All the while, Satan does his best to make things worse and to obscure from us the truth that God is working through Christ Jesus to save us and comfort us, calling us to share His comforts in a lost and dying, and hurting and alienated world. As the apostle Paul told the Corinthians (2 Cor. 1:3,4):

God Did First

When people can’t get along with one another, they often say that if the other person would just do this or that, then all could be forgiven and they could move along in harmony. Of course, many die of old age stubbornly waiting out some relative or former friend who is equally stubborn or no longer caring enough to make the effort to reconcile. 

Imagine how the terrible the world would be if God waited for His sinful creation to move back to Him first, instead of Him reaching out to reconcile with them. So God moved first. 

As John reminded the disciples, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 Jn. 4:10,11)

His mercy and grace moved towards us while we were in sin. He lovingly sent His son to die for us while we were in sin and covered in shame. He worked to save us through Jesus long before we moved in any way towards Him. So now we are called to do the same. 

Jesus, in the sermon on the mount, taught His disciples, saying, “Love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for his is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35,36)

We’re to be kind and good even to those who don’t deserve it because that’s what God did for us. When people are unkind and ungrateful that’s when they most need us to kind and gracious to them, just as God was to us.

Getting To Jesus

Mark 2:2-5“And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them.  And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.  And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  (ESV)

Sometimes, like the paralyzed man, we’re in need of healing and can’t help ourselves. We’re paralyzed and made helpless by doubts, ignorance, fear, uncertainty, and sin. Like the paralyzed, we need someone to help us. This man’s friends helped by taking him to Jesus.

Sometimes in life, we are the friends who have to go around, over, under and even through obstacles, carrying our friends, enlisting others to help as well and doing all we can to get the ones we love the help they need. There are all kinds of ways to help those sick and lost and helpless in this world. But like in this story, the truest friends are the ones who can take their friend to Jesus.

When they got to Jesus, He healed the man’s soul first, giving him what He most needed. We should make that our priority too and go to Jesus for the help we all most need. realizing that in a world of sin and hurt, we need to take care of souls first — and Jesus is only one who can help.

The Parable Of The Lavish Father

Have you heard of Jesus’ parable of the lavish Father? No? This father is the hero of one of Jesus’ most beloved parables, sharing the stage with several other unforgettable characters. 

This father shares the story with his ungrateful and wasteful son, to whom he had given a massive fortune as his inheritance. This son then led an immoral life that caused him near total moral and physical ruin before he came to his senses and returned home. At one point, his son had to work for a heartless pig farmer who didn’t even feed this hired hands properly. 

Later, he shares the stage with his other son who proved to be petulant, rude, resentful and accusing. You may know this father and his two boys from the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

But the real hero of the story is the father — the generous, giving and forgiving father. After providing a good upbringing for his boys, he willingly gives them their large inheritance early—which one of them promptly uses to wreck himself. Then, he expectantly waits for that same wayward son to come home. When he does come home, the father generously gives his broke and broken boy clothes, gifts, and a great welcome with a huge reception worthy of a visiting dignitary. Then he leaves this happy, happy gathering to console and invite back in his other son who is angry at his father for receiving back his brother with such ease and graciousness. 

Behold the Father, Our Heavenly Father — generously providing, expectantly waiting, fully receiving and graciously entreating.