Tag Archives: truth

The Red Thread – An Issue of Maintenance

Mark 9 The Red Thread
16 “What are you arguing with them about?
19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”…“You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
29… This kind can come out only by prayer.”

Here are the characters of the story:
• Religious leaders hassling the disciples for being ineffective
• The frustrated disciples because they’re ineffective
• A devoted father unable to get help for his son
• A frustrated Jesus

It seems studying a red letter version of Mark requires going through the book more slowly to experience how the little parts tucked in along with the big deal parts are tied together with that same red thread of Jesus’s words.

Chapter 9 seems to be about recognizing the challenge that faith is greater than what you currently comprehend. That certainly happened to Peter, James and John on the mountain with Jesus. That challenge continues with the words of the devoted father, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” and even the disciples own frustrated words “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

Faith wasn’t the issue. It was an issue of maintenance that frustrated Jesus enough to confront them with this truth. It’s prayer that maintains the connection of faith to the power of God…”only by prayer.”

Person of Interest

I just realized I’ve been confused about assigning pronouns when I write about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit may not have a body but he’s not a ghost or an “it.” “He” is definitely a person of interest. These Scriptures from the ESV version confirm his position as a co-equal, and distinct, personality of the Trinity that plays a powerful part in the believer’s life.

• Inspiration: 2 Peter 1:21 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

• Truth Teller: John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

• Guarantee: 2 Corinthians 1:21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

• Within: 1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

• Teacher: John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

• Support: Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

• Helper: John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

• Confirmation: Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,

What I’ve learned:
These authors of the Bible were inspired by the Holy Spirit as they wrote. They chose their words carefully but, more importantly, God chose to give their words the power of the Holy Spirit that could interpret His absolute truth to believers for all time independent of any particular language or translation.

The Holy Spirit is the guarantee God has placed within us to teach, support, help and confirm our place in His family through those same ancient written words. The Holy Spirit speaks God’s language to his people forever and is still making His timeless truth relevant to life today.

The Skies Proclaim

Psalm 19 For the director of music. A psalm of David.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.

Memories and Northern Lights
• I remember the first embarrassing realization of how ignorant I was about religion and faith.
• I remember when I admitted Jesus had become something personal to me.
• I remember when I first saw myself through Christ’s eyes.

• I remember the display of Northern Lights on the Easter after I’d recognized that reality. I stood out on the deck in the cold Minnesota night to watch “The Skies Proclaim the work of his hands.” I was sure God was letting me know he’d gotten my message.

• I remember (most of the time) what I am like without Christ.  I am one of those “sinners.”
• I remember (most of the time) that without these memories I might never have had anything worth remembering at all.

Simplicity and Complexity

Hebrews 10
1. The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship…8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

Thoughts:
The challenge of so many words of simple truth repeated in slightly different ways made this chapter seem complicated to me. I finally had to re-read these 14 verses in the light of a 3-point philosophy of writing I learned way back in junior high. My “aha” moment came when I realized that Simplicity and Complexity have to coexist in the life of a believer.

1 – Tell them what you’re going to tell them:
• “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—…”
2 – Tell them what you want to tell them:
• “…we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
3 – Tell them what you’ve told them:
• “For by one sacrifice he [Christ] has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”

There’s more to these words than just reading and agreeing. The simple part is the truth that “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” The complex part is recognizing that within us the deep and mysterious truth of “once and for all” and “made perfect forever” coexists with the reality of our life; we are still “being made holy.”

Borrowed Truth

Hebrews 2:1 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For since the message spoke through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

I’m not sure why Hebrews seems so difficult. Since everything builds on what has gone before this might be the perfect follow-up to Easter for me. I read and write daily even though I only publish twice weekly. On the surface those few paragraphs seem pretty simple but sometimes it takes me days of re-reading and re-writing to come to some recognition that my words are the truth I now have, minus the fillers and fluff [as much as possible]. Then I wait for information and sometimes affirmation and/or confirmation because God says he’ll do that.

The phrase “pay the most careful attention” was what stopped me in this chapter. Here’s an interesting thing to ponder: Is it really your truth if you haven’t paid careful attention to what you’ve heard and say you believe, or is it just somebody’s else’s truth you’ve borrowed? Something is happening within our family of believers that’s making us vulnerable to drifting away from what we say we believe.  Is Borrowed Truth why it’s so easy to say one thing and do another?

Borrowed Truth, in itself, is not unheard of. It IS how we learn. Remember the Apostle Paul wrestling with that same conflict of his own behavior? Here’s the truth I have for today. We won’t escape this issue in our lives either. What we have to pay careful attention to is that our “borrowed” truth becomes the reality of “bought and paid for” truth that Easter promised each of us it could be. That’s growth.

Before and After

I John 5:6-10a & 11-12a NASB
6 This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. 10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself…11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life…

Ponderings:
“The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself…”. The Spirit, the water and the blood have been, and are still, testifying in your life. It’s easy to recognize that testimony after you’ve been adopted into God’s family. But what about those years before? Those three were not just standing in the wings hoping you might come to your senses. They were there testifying to you about the reality of Christ.

I was baptized when I was about 12. There was some huddled whispering among relatives at that time that was mysterious to me. Some of the mystery became clear shortly after my baptism when I learned the only Dad I’d ever known wasn’t my birth father at all but the process for adoption had been put in motion. The name I had been baptized with wasn’t actually my new name…yet. That process took years but I came home one day to find my Dad with papers in hand weeping because I was finally his daughter.

It doesn’t make a bit of difference what the human details were. The participants might not have been perfect or even particularly religious. The Lord in his mercy, saw that young girl and was testifying to her about another adoption that would take another 15 or 16 years: this time by a heavenly Dad.

Like me, you were not adopted into God’s family because he’d waited long enough…or by the skin of your teeth…or your wise choices. Long before that adoption became a reality there was a process in motion: testimony was happening.  Don’t overlook it. That recognition can be one of the strengths in your life. Think back and see for yourself how faithful God has been to you both Before and After.

The Perfect Tutor

I John 2:27 NIV As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

I love this passage. I hope you’ve experienced it’s truth in your own life too. Sometimes you hear people ask “how do you know this church stuff is real?” This verse is the answer. Anointing is not a word that is commonly used and only heard occasionally in church.

It’s really easy to begin to depend on what other people know for your faith. That’s their anointing.   It’s not what “they” know that transforms you. God promises he will give you your own real, life-changing faith and absolute truth in the time you spend getting to know him through his Word and his Spirit. That’s your anointing.

I remember a Bible study where a man came who’d struggled with addiction for many years. He didn’t have the history of the basic childhood Bible stories or even regular church attendance. He must have really felt like a fish out of water…but for whatever reason…he came. Not only did he come that night but he did the reading for the next week and came again.

There was a moment when he shared something he’d learned from that reading and followed it up with “and nobody taught me that” with such excitement that my heart was filled with gratitude and praise.  That was his anointing and God proved himself The Perfect Tutor again.