Rocky Mountain National Park

The 🐻 Bear Lake Trail to Bierstadt Lake was a fantastic way to spend the morning.

Others First

When people in the church express love, participate together in the Spirit, share affection and sympathy towards one another we build synergy. Additionally, the Bible considers our inward motivation strategic for group cohesiveness and unity.  The Bible suggests for a church to experience less friction and tension among each other the inward motivation of the body must be inspected. For example, the Apostle Paul invites the followers of Jesus in Philippi to consider if selfish ambition or conceit is their motivation. In contrast to selfish ambition and conceit our intrinsic motivation must be humility, which always counts others “more significant than ourselves.” This motivation is crucial, because when our motivation is in the proper place we “look not at our own interest, but also to the interests of others.” This is a splendid lesson that invites followers of Jesus to live as Jesus did, one who elevates others before self.

#Philippians 2:1-4

Curiosity + Persistence

Luke 19

Jesus, nearing the end of his earthly time on earth (Luke 19), makes a visit to Jericho a city east and slightly north of Jerusalem.  A curious wealthy tax collector in Jericho, Zaccheus, wants to discover more about this Jesus who is entering Jericho. However, a crowd formed making it challenging for the short in stature Zaccheus to catch a glimpse of Jesus. The persistent curious Zaccheus never let his stature set him back, so he climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus and satisfy his curiosity.  Jesus spotted this curious tax collector precariously clinging to a sycamore tree and hurried Zaccheus to come down and prepare his house for a visit.

The curious tax collector simply wanted to see Jesus, but would soon be treating Jesus to a meal in his home. It was a “joyful” occasion for Zaccheus, but the crowd grumbled  disappointed that Jesus would eat with a sinner. What a stark contrast between the joyful Zaccheus the grumbling crowd.

Zaccheus joyfully had a meal with Jesus made two points to Jesus. First, I give half of all I earn to the poor. Second, if I have defrauded anyone they will be repaid four times what I took from them. The crowd despised the tax collect, but his integrity seem to be intact. However, it wasn’t enough for salvation. Jesus then declared “today salvation has come to this house.”

Curiosity + Persistence + Meal + Jesus = Salvation

We need to pray for persons to be curious about Jesus.

People & Ministry

In Romans 16 Paul takes a moment to exercise gratitude for those whom God had brought into his life. Here are a few that caught my attention.

Phoebe: a servant of the church at Cenchreae…a patron of many

Prisca & Aquila: risked their lives for my life…who host a church in their home

Epaenetus: the first convert to Christ in Asia

Andronicus & Junia: kinsmen and fellow prisoners, well known to the apostles, in Christ before me

How are we observing the ministry of other disciples of Christ? How does their ministry inspire and encourage us? Are we acknowledging the ministry of others?

Paul’s Vision

The God of endurance, encouragement, and hope (5, 13) gives Paul a passion to bring the gospel to the Gentiles where Christ had not already been named (18, 20). These three characteristics of God are woven tightly together. Undoubtedly life in the church, whom Paul is writing too, can be exhausting though encouragement gives one hope to finish well. Even the strong will grow weary helping the weak, but the picture of this service is a glimpse into Christ’s accomplishment to come for us who are weak and “bear our reproaches.”

This part of Romans 15 reminds me of Alex Lowe who was called in by the National Park Service to help rescue some stranded Spanish climbers on Denali. One climber who was unable to climb by himself was carried by Alex, at altitude, up 400 vertical feet at a 50 degree angle. There you have the strong obligated to bear the failings of the weak. There we see endurance of the strong providing encouragement and hope to the weak.

You can see a video about Alex here. The story of the rescue is at 4:35 mark.

 

 

Endurance and Encouragement

During the last week I’ve been reflecting on Romans 15:1-6, which arrested my attention as a follower of Christ. In verse 5 Paul describes two of God’s hallmark characteristics, endurance and encouragement. As we live and serve together those “who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak,” which reflects Christ because he rescued us in our failings and weakness. When we serve the weak we reflect harmony and we reflect the good news of Jesus.

The Simplicity of a Whistle

When I was a child we lived at 3725 Clinard Avenue. At that time, in the early eighties, the house was surrounded by about one acre of pure fun. The acre included flat spots for sports, hills for sledding, and a creek to get as wet as possible much to mom’s dismay. Each summer, when we were out of school, my older brother and I would make the most out of that backyard. Some days we were the Redskins and Cowboys, and of course I was John Riggins busting through the Dallas Cowboys defensive line. Other days we were adventurers looking for crawdads in the creek, while the next day we were nervously chasing snakes. Our dad grew up in the Dismal Swamp and was fearless when it came to catching a snake.

While we were out on our adventures each day, at some point our mom would open the front door and let out a piercing whistle that we could hear anywhere on the acre of fun. Mom’s whistle meant one thing, come to her inside. Normally, it meant lunch or dinner was ready, while at other times we needed to get our things ready to go for sports practice or church. We could be anywhere on the acre fulfilling our next Lewis and Clark mission, but when mom whistled you knew to come running. I recently was reminded of mom’s whistle while reading Zechariah 10 where God assured Judah and Israel they will be restored, because of his compassion. In verse 8 of chapter 10 the Lord said, “I will whistle for them and gather them in, for I have redeemed them, and they shall be as many as they were before.” Mom’s whistle always caught our attention and we responded. Sometimes the response was immediate other times we prolonged our adventure, but eventually made it inside the house. When God whistles his redeemed respond too. I’m grateful for a little verse of God’s whistle reminding me of a fond memory of my mom on Clinard Ave. I always wanted to whistle like my mom, but I’ve never been able to even come close.