One Thing I Forgot

Yes.  One more recommendation.

As I've been simplifying and basking in Truth, one little book given to me by a friend and
written by a man who died nearly seventy years ago has helped me soooooooooooo much.  
It's a book of daily Truths, and that's good, because I can only absorb a little at a time—it's
that eye-opening and Light-casting.  Yes, it's written in a bit of the KJV-type of English, but it
still makes sense.  And as I pick that little book up every day and savor the day's quota of
Truth, I always come away thinking, "Yes.  This is exactly how it's supposed to be.  This is
Truth."  And my soul concurs by the way it hums with delight as I process what I've read.

Yeah, you know the book.  I've talked about it many times before.  But if you haven't checked
it out yet and you're serious about knowing Jesus and the Truth, please consider it.  After
reading it, you won't come away feeling coddled or placated like you do with some
devotionals.  You'll come away challenged, refreshed, and invigorated.  And maybe even a bit
convicted?  Truth does that.  It always demands for us to choose.  Accept?  Or deny?  Follow
hard after it?  Or pooh-pooh it away?

What's the book?  Of course, it's
My Utmost for His Highest, a compilation of snippets from
the teachings of Oswald Chambers.

Here's the main concept (Truth) in the entire book he so clearly challenges us to receive:  Our
Christian walk is not about imitating Jesus, or trying to be more like Him, more holy and
good.  Jesus Christ is all about Redemption—changing us completely into what He wants us to
be.  It's not about us keeping our rights to ourselves and vowing to be good (or more Christ-
like).  It's all about us giving up our rights to ourselves—giving ourselves completely to God,
and Jesus then changes us by pouring Himself into us.  We become more like Him because He
literally lives in us.

This is salvation, redemption, and transformation as it should be.  And it can only happen
when we get out of the way.

Truth is tough to grasp sometimes.  It demands so much of us.  Or, in a way, so little.  But
it's still Truth.  And until we come face to face with it, we'll just continue on in something
less.  We'll never experience all that God has for us.

So those are my four recommendations.  Gayle,
Matthew, Margaret, and Oswald.  Teachings
about the nature of who Jesus is, a visual portrayal of that nature in action, music that
reaches to the depths of all He is, and Truth laid bare.  All of it taking us back to the Word of
God, helping us interpret and visualize it as we have never understood it or seen it before.

And so.  That's it.  I'm totally grateful for all the wonderful teachers, pastors, missionaries,
and musicians who are faithfully proclaiming God's Truth.  But I'll stick with my very short
list.  And with the One who physically lives inside me, teaching and guiding me to Truth.  He
always speaks of Jesus.  Never seeks glory or honor for Himself.  Yep, He's the Holy Spirit.  
And I wouldn't even have an inkling of what Truth is apart from Him.

The Holy Spirit is the very essence of Jesus Christ.  He's first on my list.  Hope He's first on
yours too.  : )

He's watching the man who had leprosy, the frowned-upon
man who would cause people to run in the other direction
when he came by, the man no one would ever dare touch.  
He's watching that man react to the fact that now he is
healed.  Touched by the Teacher.  Healed in an instant.

The man said to Him, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make
me clean."

Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man.  "I am
willing," He said.  "Be clean!"
about Jesus . . . page two
Mark 7:20-23

And Jesus said,
"What comes
out of a man,
that defiles a
man. For from
within, out of the
heart of men,
proceed evil
an evil eye,
All these evil
things come
from within
and defile a man."
Romans 3:23

For all have
sinned and fall
short of the
glory of God.
Acts 4:12

Nor is there
salvation in any
other, for there is
no other name
under heaven
given among men
by which we must
be saved.
Romans 6:23

For the wages
of sin is death,
but the gift of
God is eternal
life in Christ
Jesus our Lord.
1 Timothy 2:5

For there is one
God and one
Mediator between
God and men, the
Man Christ Jesus,
who gave Himself
a ransom for all.
Romans 5:8

But God
His own love
toward us,
in that while
we were still
sinners, Christ
died for us.
Romans 10:9-10

That if you
confess with
your mouth
the Lord Jesus
and believe in
your heart that
God has raised
Him from the
dead, you will
be saved. For
with the heart
one believes
and with the
is made unto
Hebrews 9:12, 15

Not with the
blood of goats
and calves, but
with His own
blood He entered
the Most Holy
Place once for all.
And for this
reason He is the
Mediator of the
new covenant, by
means of death.
Who He Was

Yes, He still IS.  That's the most beautiful thing about Jesus.  HE'S ALIVE!!!!!!!

But let's talk past tense here.  Let's take some time to fully examine who He was when He
walked on this earth.  No, not as the Almighty Creator who spoke this earth into existence,
but as the tiny baby who arrived helpless and hungry in that barn in Bethlehem.  As that
young teenager who freaked out His mom and dad by not joining them on the return trip home
from Jerusalem after the big feast.  Can you imagine just how freaked out Mary and Joseph
were when they couldn't find their son after three days?

I love to imagine Jesus as He helped His father in the shop.  Working the wood.  Do you ever
think He got a splinter?  Pounded His thumb with the hammer?  Oh, I bet He did.

I'm sure sweat poured down His face, leaving tracks on His dirty and dusty cheeks as He
played games with His friends.  Do you think He had lots of friends?  You know?  I think He
did.  Even though His very existence carried the frowned-upon mystique of "You're illegitimate,
so therefore you're no good," I think He was a happy, friendly boy.  I think His friends were
also the ones who often heard, "You're no good."  And I think they all often groaned aloud
when their mothers called out to them, "Are your chores done?  Come on in now.  It's time for
dinner.  Don't make me say it again!"

And later.  When He hand-picked the twelve men He knew would later go into all the world
and spread the good news about Him, do you ever think He looked up to heaven and
whispered to His Father, "Are You sure about this?  I mean, Peter?  He's such a hothead.  And
the rest of them just aren't getting it."

Do you ever think He looked up to heaven, spread wide His arms, and pleaded to His Father,
"Can You tell Me again ... just why am I here?"

You know?  No.  I don't think He ever pleaded like that.  He knew exactly why He had been
sent to this earth.  And it wasn't about anything anyone would normally assume about the Son
of God coming to earth.  Jesus was sent to live and die.  In the meantime, just how He lived
revealed His nature.  Who He was reveals to us even now exactly who God the Father is.  The
same nature that made Jesus who He was is the same nature that makes God who He is.  
They are One in the same.

This is what Jesus prayed for in John 17.  Five times He repeated Himself in this prayer.  "...
that they may be one as We are one."  Have you read this prayer lately?  He's not just praying
for His disciples.

"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;
that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one
in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  And the glory which You gave Me I have
given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they
may be perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved
them as You have loved Me."  John 17:20-23

One with Yahshua, one with Yahweh.  All held together by the Spirit of God—the very essence
of Yahshua Himself.  Our very natures being transformed into His.  This is what the world will
see in us ... this is how the world will know we are His.  And this is what will draw the world
to Him.  For He is, indeed, irresistible.

Vaya con Yahshua,
Greatest In The Kingdom

The disciples argued.  A lot.  One of their favorite arguments was "Who will be the greatest in
the kingdom?"  James and John's mother even got involved.  One day she brought them to
Jesus and said, "Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the
other on the left, in Your kingdom."

Now, the Bible only tells us what Jesus said in response.  It doesn't give us His nonverbal
reaction.  But ... do you think, at least inwardly, that He rolled His eyes just a tad as He
answered her?

Maybe.  Ahh, but, then again, I doubt it.  Jesus knew this was coming.  He knew their
thoughts.  And when He replied to His disciples about their "Who is the greatest" debate, I
think He knew His reply would blow their dusty little socks off.

"... whoever desires to become great among you," He said to them, "let him be your servant.  
And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did
not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."  Matthew 20:26b-

"If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and a servant of all."  Mark 9:35

"Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no
means enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is
the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."  Matthew 18:4

"... he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who
serves.  For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves?  Is it not he who sits
at the table?  Yet I am among you as the One who serves."  Luke 22:26b-27

Now here's the clinker:  When Jesus talked about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of
God, just whom was He talking about?  Wasn't He talking about ... Himself?  Wasn't He (and
isn't He still) the greatest figure in, not only the kingdom of God, but the entire universe from
eternity past to eternity yet to come?


Jesus was talking about Himself.  He was, is, and always will be the greatest in the kingdom
of God.

Hmm.  We could take a lesson.

: )

How He Saw Other People

One of the things I find most peculiar about God and the way He works is this:  take a hard
look at Him and the way He works, and you'll soon discover His ways are totally opposite from
the way things are done in this world.  The way He does things is totally polar opposite from
the way we do things.

Hmm.  Sorta makes one wonder, doesn't it?

We're all about doing things on our own, pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, working hard,
going the extra mile to get the things we need.  The harder we work, the better off we'll be.  
The more self-centered and independent we are, the better.  And one day, all of our hard work
will pay off—we'll finally be the boss.  We'll finally be the one dishing out orders and taking it
easy while everyone else around us works hard to please us.

Sadly, this is even the case in most of our churches.

But this is not what our Lord Jesus was all about.

I find it delightful that the true nature of Jesus is so positively opposite to the true nature of
man.  Jesus came to serve others, not to be served.  He came to be a servant, a slave, and He
was, indeed, the only totally others-centered, servant-hearted human being ever to walk this
earth.  But you know what?  Though He was a servant to all, He never allowed anyone to
manipulate Him to do something He didn't want to do.  He was never driven by false motives.  
He was never coerced.

He chose to serve.  And He chose how He would serve, and whom He would serve.

He did not heal everyone at the Pool of Bethesda.

I like how Gayle Erwin, in his book
The Jesus Style, is so quick to point out this fact about our
servant-hearted Lord.  It's wise for us to consider this, so we ourselves are not manipulated
as we allow our Lord's servant heart to shine through us.  "A servant's job is to do all he can
to make life better for others—to free them to be everything they can be," Gayle says on page
50.  "Yet, enslavement is not what I am talking about.  Servanthood is a loving choice we
make to minister to others.  It is not the result of coercion or coercion's more subtle form,

Jesus chose to fulfill His destiny as Messiah.  He lovingly chose to step into our world, to walk
this dusty earth, to fulfill His role as Savior.  He chose to serve, rather than being served.  He
chose to fulfill His love, and His Father's love, to us by being a servant to us, rather than a
brutal dictator.  He always respects our ability to choose, and waits patiently for us to make
our choice.

This is how He saw other people.  "How can I make that person's life better?  What can I do
to love them and serve them at this moment?"

Always a choice for Him.  "Do I seek their well-being at this moment ... or My own?"

Always our choice to follow Him, to live as He lived, to serve as He served.

Can we do it on our own?  Nope.  No way.  Not a chance.  But when He lives through us, how
we see other people will change.  We'll begin to see them with His eyes.  We will, as well,
become more others-centered and servant-hearted.  Just like Him.


How He Led

"The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, ... But not so among you."  Luke
22:25a, 26b

Our Lord Jesus saw people in a way that was consistent with His nature.  He chose to serve
them because He knew their value.  In our systems and institutions of leadership, we don't
recognize the value of people or view them in the way Jesus does.  For us, submission is
upward to that one "supreme being" (or that one "supreme knucklehead") at the top.  Yes,
this usually works well for republics and banks, but it never works well in our churches.

I love how Gayle Erwin says it in his book
The Jesus Style.  Page 58.  "He (Jesus) put no
pressure on the masses to submit to the leader, but instead put the pressure on leaders to be
slaves of all."

Page 59.  "One who leads in the style of Jesus does not use forms of coercion nor does he
depend on institutional position for authority.  Instead, by serving people, he leads as they
recognize his ability and choose voluntarily to follow."

Page 60 and 61.  "There are so many ways that the nature of Jesus is in direct opposition to
the leadership patterns of the world that have been unquestioningly adopted by the church.
...  We cannot finish with worldly systems what was begun by Jesus working through the Holy

Not just in our churches, but in our homes as well.  Fathers loving their wives as Jesus loved
the church.  Wives submitting to their husbands.  Children submitting to their parents.  Page
62.  "Submission gone sour is the result of not understanding the nature of Jesus."

Jesus never lorded anything over anyone.  This is how He led.

No wonder we follow Him.  : )

How He Taught

"You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and
Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.  For I have given
you an example, that you should do as I have done to you."  John 13:13-15

Ahhhh ... with Jesus it was never, "Do as I say, not as I do."  Maybe that's just another
reason why He's so irresistible?

Jesus, who was actually named Yahshua (or Yeshua or Y'shua to the Jews), was also named
Immanuel, which means "God with us."  He truly was God walking among us, being with us.  
And even as He taught, He remained "with those" He taught.  He didn't draw them out of their
lives and into a classroom to lecture them safely from behind a protective podium.  He lived
His life right along beside them, teaching them as they lived.  He didn't set aside only a
certain amount of time to teach.  His schedule was open—He was always available to answer
questions and further expound on His parables.  He didn't spend the bulk of His time teaching
the great hoarding masses.  He mainly concentrated His efforts on teaching His twelve
disciples.  He knew they would later get His message out; that soon, after His death, the
Good News would spread exponentially across the globe.

Yet, even as He taught them, He never "lorded it over" them.  He never taught them anything
they didn't see already being lived out in His life.  He never told them to do anything that He
Himself had not already done.  He never asked them to do something He Himself was not
willing to do.

Leadership by example is the best way to lead.  Being taught by someone who examples the
lesson is the most effective way to learn.  This is how Jesus taught.  He was, and still is, our
best example of living the way God the Father wants us to live.

Can we live the way God the Father wants us to live without knowing His Son, Jesus, and
without following the example Jesus set before us?

Nope.  Nuh-uh.  Not a chance.

Just Who Is This Man?
He's watching Matthew, the frowned-upon Jewish man
who collected taxes from his fellow Jews to give to the
Romans, and He's just about to say to him, "Follow Me."

Matthew got up and followed Him.
Yep, this man is Jesus.  The man who loved to eat
fish.  The man who touched lepers.  The man who
spent most of His time with the lower-class types, who
called fishermen and tax collectors to "Come and be my

He calls us.  "Come to Me, all you who are weary and
burdened, and I will give you rest."

"Abide in Me, and I will abide in you."

"I am the Way ..."
May we, like His disciples, drop everything and follow Him.

Who is this scraggly looking man?  Can He really be ... God?

: )

The Nature of Jesus

What makes Him tick.  Who He was, is, and always will be.  How He acts, what He says, and

Until we fully comprehend these things about Him, we can never fully know who He is.  If we
don't fully know who He is, how can we speak in His name?  How can we pray "in the name of
Jesus" if we don't fully know what that means?

Praying in His name requires us to pray in a way that completely aligns with His nature.  We
cannot pray in His name apart from His nature.  It's a waste of breath.

Say I was to say to you, "Camy Tang told me I could take your laptop.  Hand it over.  She said
it would be okay, that you wouldn't mind at all."  Well, first of all, you would mind, because
you would instantly know Camy would never say it was okay for anyone to steal anything.  
That goes against who Camy is.  It goes against her nature.  Now, if I told you she told me to
say to you, "Go ahead and crank up that dialogue in your novel a few notches—put in a little
wasabi to liven things up," you would know that was exactly what she said because that
advice follows who she is and is an example of what works for her.  She's asking you to do
what she knows has worked for her.  And hey.  If it worked for her, maybe it'll work for you.

Camy's nature is one of honesty, generosity, and unabashed joy.  If I was to tell you
something using her name but that went against her nature, you would instantly know I was
lying.  It wouldn't be something Camy would say or do.  No matter how persuasive I might be,
you would know I'm lying because you know Camy.  You know who she is.

We do this to Jesus all the time.  We tend to speak for Him, saying things in His name, but
saying things that totally go against His nature.  If we're truly His, His nature should speak
for itself through us with every heartbeat and breath.  It's much like writing a novel—showing
rather than telling.  It's sooooooooooooo much better for us to allow Jesus to show Himself
through us than for us to simply say, "Jesus is neat.  Trust Him.  Oh, don't look too closely at
me, cuz God is still working on me.  But let me just tell you how good He is.  Someday I'll live
it out the way I'm supposed to.  Someday you'll see it in me.  But, until then, just take my
word for it."

If the people we are saying this to don't know who Jesus really is, all they will know about
Him is what they see in us.  Is this enough?

Speaking in His name requires huge responsibility.

Yes, we're all on a journey—none of us are where we should be with God.  His purposes are in
our journeys, not the end result or destination.  But until we fully know Him and are totally
His, we should be particularly careful about how we speak for Him, how we use His name, and
how our lives reflect what we say.

I could exercise all my persuasive powers to convince you that Camy wants you to hand over
your laptop to me.  But before you allow yourself to be completely convinced, you'll pick up
the phone and give her a call.  As you should.  Because you know her.  You know her nature
well enough to know that what I'm saying in her name is a lie.

How well do we know our Lord?  How easily are we convinced to believe what others are
telling us about Him?

Name and Nature.  Can't have one without the other.

May we all vaya con Jesus, both in His name and His nature.
P.S.  I'm sure it happened one day.  Jesus sat on
the boat with His disciples as they waited for the
nets to fill with fish so they could make a few
bucks for Judas to put into their treasury.  Jesus
wanted to help somehow, but, of course, His
expertise was building things with wood, not
catching fish (no, His expertise was fishing for
men, remember?).  Can you just picture it?  As He
tried to tie down a rope dangling from the main
sail, He didn't exactly know how to do it, and He
needed John, one of the true fishermen in the
bunch, to help Him.

Jesus being taught.  Hey, it happened, I'm sure.
Can't you just picture John showing His Master and Lord how to tie down that rope?  Not just
telling Him, "Do this and do that," but, "Here, let me show You."  What a kick that must have
been for him.  (No wonder he's smiling.)

And how cool it must have been for Jesus ... to see how His own example was being followed.  
Even in something as simple as tying down a rope.

: )


Oh my gosh, you know, it never occurred to me that Jesus wouldn't know how to fish! That's
kind of neat, actually!
That's An Interesting Thought

Camy's last comment got me to thinking.  Thanks for that, by the way, ladyfriend ... thanks for
all your comments!  Not just yours, but all y'all's.  Thanks for reading and tossing in your two
bits from time to time.  This is kinda fun, isn't it?

So.  Back to that interesting thought.  Did I overstep my bounds just a wee bit by suggesting
Jesus didn't know how to fish?  Hmm.  He was God, wasn't He?  Why wouldn't He know how to

Funny, cuz almost as soon as that question started rolling around my wee brainpan, an answer
started rolling around in there with it.  (Sort of a quiet place, my wee brainpan, this early in
the morning.  Especially without my tea.)  Anyway, yes.  Jesus was God.  We know that.  But
He was also fully human.  So.  Here's what I think.

If someone would have handed our Lord a book about bio-electrical chemical engineering
written in Russian ... (Hah!  Gotcha, Camy!)  ; )  ... not only would He have been able to read
it, but He would have easily understood every word.  And not just that, He would have
immediately started making notes of the places where those Russians flat out got it wrong.

However ...

If one of the disciples would have handed Jesus a contraption he had never seen before but
was told it played music and said, "Lord?  Would you take this strange contraption we've never
seen before and play us a song?"  Jesus would have said, "Um ... no.  Thanks.  I mean, yes, I
can tell you what that is.  It's a twenty-first-century saxophone.  It plays wonderful music.  In
the hands of a master."

"Well, aren't You the Master?" one of them would, of course, say.

"Yes, you call Me Master, and you say well, for so I am."  (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

"So, play us a song."

By now, I can just see Jesus's face turning a bit ... red.  Can you see that look of concern
crossing His expression?  Why?  Because knowing what a saxophone is, how it works, and
even how to make it play music is not enough.  What Jesus would be lacking at this moment is
practice.  After about ten minutes, perhaps, of simple practice, He would have been fine.  But
that first few minutes?  Stand back.  Hold your ears.  Let Him get the hang of it first.

Why?  Because He was also fully human.  Sometimes, no matter how much we know about
how to play a saxophone, or how to shoot a free throw, or how to maneuver around MySpace
(and yes, I did finally sign my life away to join up), it's not until we can practice a wee bit on
our own before we can DO these things.  Brain knowledge needs to get transferred into our

Know what I mean?

Jesus, of course, had all the knowledge of the universe at His fingertips.  But, if He was,
indeed, fully human, those fingertips needed to practice some of that knowledge first before
that knowledge could be displayed.

Like tying a rope.  Sure, He could have done it.  But if it was His first time, it would have been
a struggle.  Figuring it out.  Transferring that head knowledge into His fingers.  Tying that rope
just the way it was supposed to be tied.

The pity is, of course, that John spotted Him during that "transferring" process.  (That process
we call practice.)  Taking pity on his Master and Teacher, and, also applying the techniques his
Teacher used, John said, "Here, Lord.  Let me show You.  Here's how You do it."

Sometimes, even as we know how to do something and practice it on our own, we still benefit
from someone showing us.

Being our example.  Ahh.  Something Jesus never had to practice.  That was something He
knew how to do from minute one.

See?  Interesting, huh?  Whaddaya think?

VcJ, even if His first three minutes of saxophone playing turn out to be hideously unbearable,

P.S.  Okay, um, this analogy can only be accurate if ... well, if they don't have saxophones in
heaven.  I mean, who knows.  Maybe Jesus is an accomplished player already.  Maybe He
spent eons before the earth was even created playing just for the fun of it.

Hey, it's possible.
How He Saw Himself

Humility is a word that carries all sorts of meanings for people.  When someone is being
humble, how are they acting?  Is it just an act?

I like how Gayle Erwin defines it on pages 74-76 of his book
The Jesus Style.  "Humility is
simply seeing ourselves as we actually are, no higher nor lower.  It means being gut-level
honest about ourselves—being up front.  It means knowing who we are and owning that—and
owning our emotions.  It means living without hypocrisy.  One of the most loving things I can
do for someone is to be honest (humble) about myself so they don't have to sift through my
deceptions.  I doubt that when Jesus greeted the disciples in the morning, they had to ponder
over what He really meant.  His being the same 'yesterday, today, and forever' probably didn't
mean that He had no emotions or moods, but may have meant that He was always honest
about them; always an 'I am.'

"Humility might well be described as 'walking in the light.'  Humility chooses to be real, to hide
nothing, to be open."

Open and honest about ourselves.  I think that defines humility.  And it certainly defines how
Jesus saw Himself.  Yes, He knew who He was, and He didn't hide that knowledge.  But He
never used His position for selfish gain, to manipulate someone else, or to put Himself into a
superior position.  He was (and still is) the greatest in the kingdom, and yet He came to serve,
not to be served.  In His humility, He was angry when He felt anger, sad when He felt
sadness, and happy when joy overwhelmed Him.  He never hid His true feelings.  He always
lived openly and honestly, revealing His true nature in everything He did.

Again, we could take a lesson.  If there is one place on earth where we should be able to come
and be open and honest about ourselves, bringing our hurts and feelings openly to share with
others, it should be our church.  But how often do we clam up tightly even as we walk through
the front doors?

Jesus said in Matthew 18:3-4, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become
as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore whoever
humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

Our humble example, serving us, leading us, and teaching us.  Showing us the Father as only
He can.

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