Fury at Jesus

Tuesday is for Thinking

Withered hands 1High drama on a Sabbath.

5 And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” 

6 On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. 8 But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. 9 And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. 11 But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. 

What a scene. Jesus is doing the predictable thing based on all the reports of his ministry thus far. He goes to the Synagogue on a Sabbath. There are two things that can be counted on: he will proclaim good news and he will bring healing to some.

The Pharisees know this. Every one in the synagogue knows this. It’s why most of them are there.

A man with a withered hand is there. Perhaps a plant by the Pharisees, someone to tempt him to use his power to heal. They are uninterested in the man. He is just a tool, a weapon to wield against Jesus, the object of their fear and loathing.

Withered hand 2But Jesus knows their thoughts (vs. 8). He’s about to turn the tables.

“Come here,” he says to the man, “and stand here.”

Now he, his name lost to all but God, is standing next to One who has all eyes fixed upon him. His withered hand hangs useless and malformed at his side or perhaps it is curled up into a kind of human claw proclaiming his malady to everyone.

Jesus turns to the eyes that are waiting for him to speak. He asks one question and then a slowly surveys the room as the question hangs in the air.

“… is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?”

Every eye on him; his words echoing; they watch him turn to the nameless man. Heaven is about to invade the earth.

“Stretch out your hand.” 

And as he simply obeys the command of Christ, his hand is restored!

Can you imagine the joy of the man? The awe of the crowd? The thoughts of “what does this all mean” that are racing through the minds of those who see the transformation?!

But for me, the most stunning response is verse 11.

“But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.”

Withered hands (leprosy)A man with a withered hand has his hand restored and they are filled with fury!

No awe.

No joy.

No rejoicing.

No wonder.

No celebration.

No congratulations.

No shouting the news.

Their response is fury and plotting, envy and fear.

I wonder how often we miss the greatness of what God is doing because our hearts are hard to the truth that cuts across and against the grain of what we want God to do?

I sometimes wonder how different are we from the Pharisees?


Lazy Atheists; John Stewart’s Prejudice; Tim Keller on Suffering; Government Homosexuality Numbers; Smart Phones Making us Dumb and more

Weekend Links

Dan, Owen and Ellie (Day One of Being a Big Brother)

Dan, Owen and Ellie (Day One of Being a Big Brother)

I am a grandfather again!  Meredith and Dan just had their second child. Young Owen has a baby sister, Ellie Leta, born this morning weighing 7lb. 1 oz and measuring 18″ long.  We are excited for them and us and excited to see our new family member. Enjoy the weekend links.

Better Thinking about Politics and Cultural Engagement

A Primer on Race  (Joseph Stowell–pre-eminent black conservative and economist reviews a new book on race and how some help hurts the ones we try to help.)
Atheists Were Not Always as Intellectually Lazy as Richard Dawkins (Know Nothing: The True History of Atheism—Gone are the days when atheists took important questions seriously.)
How many Americans are Homosexual: New Government Survey Tells Us  (Much lower than they expected and revealing of a number of other lifestyle choices.)
Megyn Kelly Eviscerates John Stewart Over His Misleading Information in the Hobby Lobby Case  (What, a journalist doing her job?!)

Better Thinking About Ministry

9 Reasons Tim Keller’s Book on Suffering is a Book You Ought to Read  (Review of Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering)
10 Reasons Some Churches are Not Reaching Millennials (Frank Powell—some good counsel and insightful observations.)
God and the Gay Christian: A Response to Matthew Vines and Others  (Al Mohler—great interview with some weighty and compassionate thoughts.)
Three Reasons Why Staying Neutral is Not Biblical  (And unhelpful. Leslie Vernick brief article on counseling.)
Still Learning on Sundays: The Community as Gospel Apologetic  (Ed Stetzer–very short but helpful in answering those who want to distance themselves and the rest of us from the importance of gathering regularly in Christian community.)
9 Things You Should Know about Mormonism  (Pray for your Mormon neighbors.)
Six Ways Your Smart Phone is Changing You  (An interesting article and interview with David Wells.)

Just for Fun and Health

Two Women’s Normal Boring Chitchat becomes Hilarious When Lip-synced by Their Son and Nephew  (Funny)

When an Unknown Anxiety Steals Sleep

Friday is for Heart Songs

Psalm 50(11)12:21 AM. I had been tossing and turning, and thinking and definitely not sleeping for about 40 minutes. I gave up and got up.

Grabbing my Bible, my feet wandered to the living room, and my hand turned on the light while my eyes got busy and began to read the next psalm from where I found my bookmark—Psalm 50.

Heart racing. I don’t know why. Anxiety of some kind, but over what? My message? Steph’s travel? Maureen? Aubre? Marty III? Meredith? Anna? Dan? Post-modernism? Doctoral work? “Tell me Lord.”

A prayer, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

Verse 11.

“I know every bird of the mountain
 And everything that moves in the field is mine.”

NET Bible–I keep track of every bird in the hills / And the insects of the field are mine
OJ Bible–every bird / and the animals of the world are mine
CEV–every wild creature is in my care
CPDV–the beauty of the field is with me
Message–the scampering field mice are all my friends

The word translated “everything that moves” is a word that is most often applied to beasts of the field but is sometimes used to refer to insects, small things that can destroy crops in the field.

So what exactly is everything?

Insects, Mice and Moles

Insects, mice, and moles, grubs, worms, and grasshoppers, cicadas and voles, cattle, foxes, sheep and badgers,
elephants, and zebras, minks and wolves, lions and bears, tigers and leopards and I must not forget the lynxes,
moths and fireflies move in the field and these too are yours.

But that’s not the end of your holdings and treasures.
butterflies and locusts, snakes and turtles, lizards and lice, ticks and beetles,
thousands and thousands, over 350,000 different types of beetles
all these move in the field and you know them all.

There are centipedes and caterpillars, aphids and spiders, deers and antelopes,
porcupines and snap dragons, and dragon flies, and  black  flies and mosquitos,
oh I wish there weren’t mosquitoes and bats and snails. I’m not too fond of snails.

Everything that flies and hops, and crawls and slithers and slimes and runs and wiggles, all these are yours.
Even the grass and the trees, the shrubs and flowers that wave in the wind and even the wind, all these are yours,
and the people too, that move in the field, they too are yours.

And up in the mountains where the eagles nest, and the ravens and wrens, and robins and black birds,
the little sparrows and the California Condor, the grackles and parakeets, and geese and hawks, along with the falcons,
all of these you track through the sky and into their nests.

All this you know;
All this is yours.
And whether I walk in the field or climb the highest peak
You know me, own me.
What do I have to be anxious about
When your love endures forever?

1:10 AM  Good night Lord, and thank you for making me yours and knowing my ways as I walk through the field.

Let Me Be Weak

Thursday is for Discipleship

Hands 2“Father, let me be weak that I might loose my clutch on everything temporal. My life, my reputation, my possessions, Lord, let me loose the tension of the grasping hand. Even, Father, would I loose the love of fondling. How often I have released a grasp only to retain what I prized by ‘harmless’ longing, the fondling touch. Rather, open my hand to receive the nail of Calvary, as Christ’s was opened–that I, releasing all, might be released, unleashed from all that binds me now. He thought Heaven, yea, equality with God, not a thing to be clutched at. So let me release my grasp.”

Elizabeth Elliot, quoted in
William MacDonald, True Discipleship, p. 11


The Courage to Confess Sin—What Bonhoeffer Still Teaches Us

We cannot find the Cross of Jesus if we shrink from going to the place where it is to be found, namely, the public death of the sinner.

For more see:  The Courage to Confess Sin—What Bonhoeffer Still Teaches Us.

Thomas Sowell; Bonhoeffer; Tim Keller and Suffering; Millennials and how to Reach them; God and Gayness; Pornography Danger and much more

Weekend Links

Bayoone Tear (A gift from Russia to the USA to commemorate those who died on 9//11/2001)

Bayoone Tear (A gift from Russia to the USA to commemorate those who died on 9//11/2001)

Late with the Links. Went for 20+ miles on the bike this afternoon. Completely bushed now. Can’t wait to see my bride tomorrow—returning from a funeral in West Virginia. I’m such a fortunate blessed man. 

Better Thinking about Politics and Cultural Engagement

A Primer on Race  Thomas Sowell—pre-eminent black conservative and economist reviews a new book on race and how some help hurts the ones we try to help.)
Atheists Were Not Always as Intellectually Lazy as Richard Dawkins (Know Nothing: The True History of Atheism—Gone are the days when atheists took important questions seriously.)
This Map Shows Why County Rights Need to be Protected  (Startling map of where people are and who is dictating to the country how others ought to live.)
The Forgotten Lesson of Bonhoeffer’s Life for the American Church  (Let’s be a church that doesn’t need a Bonhoeffer. Let’s live out what it means to belong to Christ before the church fails in its mission to America.)

Better Thinking About Ministry

9 Reasons Tim Keller’s Book on Suffering is a Book You Ought to Read  (Review of Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering)
10 Reasons Some Churches are Not Reaching Millennials (Frank Powell—some good counsel and insightful observations.)
God and the Gay Christian: A Response to Matthew Vines and Others  (Al Mohler—great interview with some weighty and compassionate thoughts.)
Married Men: Your Porn Habit is an Adultery Habit  (Jesus says so. Another on target post from Matt Walsh.)
A Christian Wife’s Marriage Catechism: A Rebuttal  (There is a lot of nonsense out there with regard to the doctrine of submission in marriage. This article addresses one of the most recent abuses of this doctrine. Ladies, if your man is abusing you, pray and seek outside help to get him to stop. Don’t fight the battle alone. He is wrong and you need protection.)

10 Fun Facts about Millennials  (Information is important if we are to reach the next generation.)

There are a lot of great things being written and discussed out there but the new book, How to be a Christian without Going to Church is not one of them. This Review will give you the material you need to fight the unchurching of some millennials.

What I’m Learning About Life from Jack Bauer and 24  (Kirsten Wilson is a professor at Colorado Chrisitian University. I don’t know her but her father has led a remarkable life and for a brief period, was one of my students. [If you knew him, you would know how absurd that sounds. I should have been his student.] Insightful article.)

Ending Abortion

This Supermodel was Pro-Abortion Until She Talked to Planned Parenthood  (Exposing the evil of abortion.)

For Fun and Health

How Cell Phones are Changing and Destroying Restaurant Culture and Maybe much more (Fascinating. People put your cell phones away and show some consideration to the wait staff.)

How Do We Help Our Neighbors both Hear and See the Gospel?

community gardensHow do we help our neighbors both hear and see the gospel? 

How do we help our neighbors both hear and see the gospel if we never have any contact with them?

—never talk to them?
—never visit with them?
—never have them in our homes?
—never laugh with them?
—never cry with them?
—never fear the unknown with them?
—never go to a ball game with them?
—never root for our favorite team together?
—never share the struggles of life together?
—never sit at a parade with them?
—never volunteer in the community with them?
—never help in their garden or share ours with them?
—never BBQ with them?
—never sit on the school board with them?
—never organize a PTA with them?
—never root for the local HS with them?
—never coach kids in the community with them?
—never share our sorrows with them?
—never appear vulnerable to them?

working-together-unityHow will they ever see Jesus if we aren’t embedded in the life of our neighborhood with them?

And how will they ever hear anything from us if all we ever do is wave and smile at them as they or we drive into our garages and carry on our lives behind the four walls of our homes?

Aren’t we just kidding ourselves, lying to ourselves, misrepresenting ourselves when we say we are making disciples when in fact we are just filling time and waiting for Jesus to return?

Are we Christ followers or just pretenders?

Jesus Had a Better Idea–Let’s Try it Ourselves

In fact, Jesus’ pattern is decidedly non-us.Jesus never put on a seminar on how to preach.  He never conducted a class on how to do evangelism. He never put together a school to train disciples how to pray.  Paul doesn’t either.

In fact, there is a total absence of any of our typically Western forms in the disciple-making process of the New Testament.

For more see:  Jesus Had a Better Idea–Let’s Try it Ourselves.

“I Don’t Love Her Anymore, So I’m Going to Divorce Her”

Thursday is for Thinking

Gravity Defying Land Art (Door)Our’s is a biased age. Every age is. But our biases are killing us.

We are prejudiced about books written before last year. We are prejudiced by our passions, our experiences, our likes, our dislikes, our friends opinions, the politically correct climate, the desire to be liked, the desire to fit in.  All of it keeps us from being what we ought to be—adventurers for truth, passionate pursuers of reality as it is rather than how we want it to be. This offering from C.S. Lewis via Kairos Journal is one of those perspectives from the past that we neglect to our own hurt. 

Lewis writingsWhy Not “Being in Love” Is No Grounds for Divorce—C. S. Lewis (1898 – 1963)

During the autumn of 1942, during the dark days of the Second World War, the Christian writer and academic C. S. Lewis broadcast a series of eight talks on the BBC on Christian morality. When they were published the following year under the title Christian Behaviour,1 Lewis added four more short essays on other subjects, one of which was on Christian marriage. Here he explained that he was reluctant to discuss marriage, partly because the Christian doctrine on the subject was so unpopular. As he said:2

. . . Christianity teaches that marriage is for life. There is, of course, a difference here between different Churches: some don’t admit divorce at all; some allow it reluctantly in very special circumstances. It is a great pity that Christians should disagree about such a question; but for an ordinary layman the thing to notice is that the Churches all agree with one another about marriage a great deal more than any of them agrees with the outside world. I mean, they all regard divorce as something like cutting up a living body, as a kind of surgical operation. Some of them think the operation so violent that it can’t be done at all; others admit it as a desperate remedy in extreme cases. They are all agreed that it is more like having both your legs cut off than it is like dissolving a business partnership or even deserting a regiment.

The second reason why Lewis was reluctant to discuss marriage and divorce was because at that time he himself was not married. Nevertheless, he showed a deep understanding as to why so many people are prepared to break up their marriages in search of a happiness that continues to elude them.3

People who are defending easy divorce often say, “Surely love is the important thing in marriage.” In a sense, yes. Love is the important thing—perhaps the only important thing—in the whole universe. But it depends what you mean by “Love.” What most people mean by Love, when they are talking about marriage, is what is called “being in love.” Now “being in love” may be a good reason for getting married, though, as far as I can see, it is not a perfect one, for you can fall in love with someone most unsuitable, and even with someone you don’t really (in the deeper sense) like, or trust. But being in love is not the deeper unity which makes man and wife one organism. I am told (indeed I can see by looking round me) that being in love doesn’t last. I don’t think it was ever intended to. I think it’s a sort of explosion that starts up the engine; it’s the pie-crust, not the pie. The real thing, I understand, is something far deeper—something you can live on. I think you can be madly in love with someone you would be sick of after ten weeks: and I’m pretty sure you can be bound heart and soul to someone about whom you don’t at the moment feel excited, any more than you feel excited about yourself.

If you disagree with me, of course, you’ll say, “He knows nothing about it, he’s not married.” You may quite possibly be right. But before you say that, do make quite sure that you are judging me by what you really know from your own experience and from watching the lives of your friends, and not by ideas you have derived from novels and films…One thing people get from books is the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on “being in love” for ever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change—not realising that, when they have changed, the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one.


1. This, together with the other short volumes Broadcast Talks (1942) and Beyond Personality (1944) were eventually collected together to form the basis for the well-known work Mere Christianity, first published in 1952.   2. C. S. Lewis, Christian Behaviour (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1943), 31.  3.  Ibid., 32-33.

If you are having difficulty in your marriage, if you are thinking about throwing in the towel, if you feel justified in turning your back on vows you made before God—seek help; go to your pastor; recruit some prayer warriors; and find your way to the God who gives both hope and help.

Jesus Drinking; Sexual Ethics in a Post Christian Culture; Hobby Lobby; Crazy Love; Matt Walsh and much more

Weekend Links

Anybody want to carve this door for my house?

Anybody want to carve this door for my house?

Opps! Forgot to post the weekend links. A little late, but always helpful. Better Thinking About Politics and Cultural Engagement


10 Fascinating Facts about the Founding Fathers and American Independence  (Good read for 4th of July Weekend.)
Democracy and Morality: Ancient and Modern  (Some of this thinking is going to influence a post I am working on for the future related to how to deal with the drug problem in America.)
The Hobby Lobby Agent–It Should Have Been 9-0 Ruling  (Lots to think about.)

For Better Ministry

Best Sellers: Crazy Love!  (Review by Tim Challies)
Hobby Lobby Wins: Where Do We Go from Here?  (Ed Stetzer—practical direction and ideas for the road ahead.)
Did Jesus Drink Alcohol?
 (Mark Dever—one of the best answers I have ever heard, not only on the facts [YES] but on how to think about the issue today in our culture.)
Biblical Theology and the Sexual Crisis  (9Marks, R. Albert Mohler—calm, reasonable thinking about a an important topic.)
Millennial Need a Bigger God Not a Hipper Pastor  (Sanity. Sanity. Sanity. O how great is your wisdom.)
The Number One Reason for Attendance Decline (Thom Rainer)
Evangelicals, Divorce and Same-Sex Marriage (Greg Strand)

Ending Abortion

Just Pretend that this Dead Lion is a Human Baby and It Won’t Upset You Anymore  (Matt Walsh with another incisive commentary on the weirdness of our world.)

For Fun and Health

Every Story Fits One these Eight Plots  (Kurt Vonnegut—8 sentences for all those who write anything.)
A List of Pastor’s Retreats and Getaways that are Either Free or Discounted  (Ed Stetzer—not exhaustive but a great list of places around the country where a pastor get away with his bride and relax, refresh and restore his soul.)
Tegu – the wooden toy company making a difference in Honduras.
Mowing Memories – The Art of Mowing a Hay Field  (Sibyl Spann–friend and writer, who is always clever and fun.)