The Tabloids Were Scandalous!

scandalous‘Scandalizing is celebrated openly today. We’ll manipulate and defame so all will pretty much see our enemies as disgraceful or hypocritical. It makes me want to cry when I hear of this intimidation inside the Church. Jesus told us that this would really, truly happen. We shouldn’t be at all disturbed. To be hurt this way is very much part of being his disciple.

In Matthew 11:2-6, 2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 

4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Offended. The word in our Greek N.T. is “skandalon.” It’s used in many ways, but the most amazing one is defined as, “the trigger of a trap, to kill an animal. To be the trap wire or stick used to catch prey; a snare.” We have the word scandalous, or to be involved in a vicious manipulation, scandal. Another metaphor is that it’s like the “fly paper” that’s hung up in the barn to catch those big nasty flies. 

Jesus dug up his dictionary, and chose this very specific word to communicate what he wanted. Of men and women, boys and girls caught in something they can’t get out of without help. John the Baptist, languishing in a dark place, wants to understand Jesus. John seems to expect Jesus to hop on a white stallion, and forcefully exert his messianic role.

Jesus will send his message. “You’re blessed indeed, if you do not stumble” (or get trapped) by the misconceptions. John confined in Herod’s dungeon, would be meticulously praised by Jesus. The Lord honors his own openly.

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It is easy to take up offense, (whether right or wrong.) When we hear a message causing shock, anger, repulsion, or disgust; that is a pretty good indicator that you are being “scandalized.” And turn-around is fair play. We might be the scandalizer, or the victim. It happens all the time.

Are you trapping– or are you trapped? Either way we need to stop it. We can’t continue to trip others up– nor can we allow others to foist their trap on us either. The Gospel regards itself as a ‘stumbling block. For some agnostics’, Jesus is someone they keep tripping over. But for the believer, Jesus is a ‘climbing up’ stone!

Worship is the finest defense. People who stumble, or cause another to stumble are usually…

  • grim,
  • guilty,
  • and grouchy.

They become graceless and sterile in the important matters of the heart. They become rigid and bitter.

The man or woman who stands up for their faith, and who doesn’t fall away or let their zeal ‘leak away,’ is incredibly blessed. God however is ready to forgive all those who backslide and then repent, but is especially pleased with those– like John, who hold firm to the faith.

 

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Wondering Where the Lions Are?

http://lyndafinchart.com/lyndafinch/Prophetic/productdescriptions/good-lion.htm
Lynda Finch Art

“Twelve lions stood on the six steps, one at either end of each step. Nothing like it had ever been made for any other kingdom.”

1 Kings 10:20

These statues had to be remarkable.  They seemed to stand guard, everyone who entered had to pass by them.  Symmetrically and aesthetically, they would’ve been placed six on the right and six on the left.  Each lion was placed at the end of the step.  Over the centuries, lions are a wonderful symbol of sovereignty , and in them, like nothing else, we can hold concepts of strength, dignity and royalty.

Lions are emblematic of ‘rootedness’ and stability.  Those who ‘wear the lion’ are intentionally connecting to this ‘strength’ and are stating they admire and respect all that the lion represents.  King Solomon intentionally chose the lion to guide the kingdom and give direction.

Lions cannot be domesticated.  They serve no one.  They cannot be made tame or docile.  Being carnivorous their appetites are something to be aware of.  (Lions have a tendency to be a tad irrational when hungry.)  But in spite of this they are amazing animals.  Fierce and intense, when they need to be, they watch over each other.  They do not mingle with other species of animals. They are set apart.

For the Christian believer, there is a definite ‘lion connection’.  We know Jesus as ‘the Lion of the tribe of Judah’, (Rev. 5:5).  His majesty and power have been intentionally referred to by believers throughout the centuries.  Jesus exhibits all the good attributes about lions, and none of the bad.

I wonder where the lions are?  Where are those who would stand against the evil we see today?  John, the Baptist stood in the light, and he would not take a step back.  We see him boldly confronting the wickedness of his day, and in it all, he would not bend; and yet it seems that’s what others thought he should do.

The lions, where are they?  There is a boldness that is missing in our churches.  It seems as if the lions on the front steps have been taken from us.  We haven’t even noticed, but they are not there anymore.  Even if the lions were returned to us, there would be a whole scale rejection of such fanaticism.  Lions are simply not ‘in style’ for the modern American believer. Lions defy so much of the protocol and etiquette of this present moment. They are simply not ‘politically correct.”

But what will we do without the lions?  Their absence may seem somewhat minor.  We don’t need them to give us authority or moral courage, after all we really should do this on our own. But we must receive a boldness and decisiveness from the Holy Spirit.  He has the ability that we need to follow Him.  We need men and women to live their lives as ‘spiritual’ lions.

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ybic, Bryan

Is Jesus Your Center?

Jesus, the Center of Life and Time

“The apostles gathered around Jesus and told him about all the things they had done and taught.”

Mark 6:30, New Century Version

We need to become accountable to Him for the things we say, and the things we do.  A liberated discipleship is one that can’t be trusted–there is no supervision, and no direction.  And we need to be accountable.  It is not a question of freedom– but of slavery, and duty (kind of a “neutral” word.)  Within our culture, we are dancing on a knife’s edge, and we become intensely counter-cultural when we live authentically as His disciples.

The text has noted, “They gathered unto Him.”  That dear one, is the real essence of your walk.  He is the absolute center, that fact will never change.  Without Him we will drift in and out, unfocused and confused.  But these wonderful disciples know absolutely that Jesus Christ is their common focus, no matter what their own personal proclivities.

A simple word about all the plurality and variety among Christians.  We are intensely different.  Some of us are Pentecostals, and some are Roman Catholics.  Some Orthodox, Lutherans and Quakers. We are Mennonites, Baptists and Methodists. There is so much variety in the Church.  But I think that all of us are coming to Jesus–He is our center!

I no longer doubt or fear the amazing variety that is in the Church.  We are dealing with a God who can’t even make snowflakes alike!  We make Styrofoam cups that are exactly alike, and He does snowflakes.  He insists on creativity and being unique. Shouldn’t our churches reflect this?

The verse tells us that the disciples had the freedom to come to Jesus and report.  There wasn’t a need to embellish or exaggerate their work. They are not in competition with each other.  They have a broad confidence, an easiness and sureness about Him.  Jesus is the easiest master to work for.  Bob Dylan told us, “You gotta serve somebody.”

And serving Him is kind of demanding, but it is also a great and wonderful joy.  Only those caught in the middle are miserable.  They can’t make the choice.  They’re in a tough place. We must pray for them.

“Done and taught.”  The disciples have been active on their journey.  They have travelled different directions. They work, and then they teach.  And really that is all that disciple comes down to.  Working, and talking.  Talking, and working.  I believe that it was significant that this would become the focal point, and bulk of their time with Jesus was essential.  That tells me something.  In some real sense, this is how we are to monitor and evaluate ourselves.

1)  Do I gather onto Jesus with others?

2)  Do I share with Him things that matter?

3)  Do I evaluate my service with His light?

4)  Do I tell Him everything– “honest and truthful?”

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ybic, Bryan

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