i believe in miracles

do you? why not add your miracles too?


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Can I Get a Witness? John 5:31-47 (how I would say it)

DSC05233fb (totally random Maypole)

I’m telling you straight up who I am, but nobody believes it. But I’m not the only one, there’s someone else saying the same thing, and it’s all true. You asked John about me and he told you the truth. Not like he’s any real authority, after all, he’s just human, but I’m just trying to help you to understand this for your own eternal good. John was like a beacon pointing to me, and for a while, it looked like you might see the light.

What I say about myself carries a lot more weight than what John says about me. Every time I do what I’ve been sent here to do, I prove I’m from the Father. Even the Father has proven that I’m for real. But I guess you’ve never really seen God or never really internalized his word if you don’t believe the proof he’s offering you. You burn the midnight oil analyzing the ancient texts, thinking in some way this is going to make you good with God. Those same texts prove my identity, and yet you refuse to come to me to save your life!

It’s not like I’m looking for people to fall all over me, I’m just saying, I’ve got your number. There’s no love of God in your hearts. Here I am, representing my Father, and you just don’t buy it. But along comes someone else with absolutely no backing other than his name printed on a business card and you’re welcoming him into your club. How could anyone expect you to believe in the real deal when you’re so busy congratulating yourselves, and spending zero effort to discover what God can award?

Don’t worry about me telling my Father, though. Moses has that covered. After all, he’s the one you’re counting on, isn’t he? Then again, if you really believed what Moses said, you’d believe in me, because he was the first to write about me. But you don’t believe what he wrote, so how could you possibly believe I say?

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What Gives Him the Right? John 5:16-30 (how I would say it)

DSC05172 fb (random pic from my recent trip to Hohenschwangau)

The Jewish authorities really had it out for Jesus because he had broken the laws about working on Saturday (their holy day). In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father works nonstop and so that’s how I work.” This only made things worse. Then they were really hot because not only was he breaking the law, he was also calling God his Father in a literal sense, which in Jewish custom is as good as saying you’re equal with that person.

Jesus tried to explain: “It’s like this: the Son can’t do anything on his own; he can only follow the example of his Father. Like father like son. And since the Father loves the Son, he shares everything with him. That’s right, and you haven’t seen the half of it. What’s still to come is going to blow your mind. Just like the Father can even bring people back from the dead, give them another chance at life, the Son can also give life away to whomever he feels like giving it to. More than that, the Father has delegated to the Son the authority to declare someone guilty or not guilty. Dis’ the Son, you dis’ the Father—the one who gave the Son his marching orders.

Listen, it’s like this: If you will just open your minds and accept the Father’s decisions, you’ll get life after death. You won’t be declared guilty because you’ve crossed over into the camp of the living. Real soon, in fact the wheels are already in motion, dead people are going to hear the Son of God, and the ones who do are going to cross over into the camp of the living. Just like God has the power to give life, he’s also delegated to the Son the power to give life. And he delegated to him the authority to declare someone innocent or guilty because he’s the Son of Man.

Don’t let this shock you. It’s mild compared to what else is going to happen—the day of the living dead, when everyone comes back to life at the sound of the Son’s voice. Then those who are declared innocent will live on forever, and those who are found guilty will come back to life to get what’s coming to them. So, you see, I’m no maverick. I’m just calling ‘em like I see ‘em and I always make good calls, because my sole motivation is to follow my marching orders.


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Bummed out by Bethesda: John 5:1-15 (how I would say it)

Jerusalem Bethesda BW 1 (Pool of Bethesda today. Not much to look at…)

Later on, Jesus went to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem, there’s a pool called Bethesda (an Aramaic word). The pool is encircled with five rows of columns, which are shaded. A lot of people with various disabilities—blindness, mobility challenges, paralysis—hung out there. One of them was a man who had been disabled for 38 years. Jesus saw him lying there and struck up a conversation. When he found out how long he had been disabled, Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be free of your disability?”

“Sir,” the man replied, “When the water starts to bubble, I try to get in the pool, but I never make it in time because I don’t have anyone to help me. Other people always beat me to it.”

Then Jesus said, “Just get up already! Take that mat you’re lying on and get going.” Immediately, the man stood up, picked up his things and off he went.

It was a Saturday, the Jewish holy day, and the Jewish religious leaders busted the guy for walking with a mat, saying, “Hey, you can’t carry that today! It’s a holy day and it’s against the law to carry anything.”

But he replied, “Listen, I just got healed and the man who made it happen told me to pick up my mat and get going, so that’s just what I’m going to do.”

They asked, “Who was this guy who told you to pick up your mat and get going?”

The man looked around but couldn’t spot Jesus because he had slipped away in the crowd, and he hadn’t bothered to ask his name.

Later Jesus ran into him at the temple and said, “Look at you, you’re all better! Now you better start living right or you’ll be worse off than before.”

The man went off and found the Jewish leaders and reported to them that Jesus was the one who had restored his abilities.


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Two Paths: Proverbs 4:26, 18, 19, 15, 14, 16, 17, 11, 12, 27, 25 (How I would say it)

two paths

Think carefully about the course your life is taking. If you choose the right path, your life will be spiritually successful and things will turn out right for you.

The path of right and just living is a lighted path, and as you travel it, it becomes more and more apparent than you’re on a good path, and you become more certain of its virtue—all the way to its resplendent end on the perfect day (or maybe, the day of your perfecting).

The other path, the wrong path, is dark. It’s like walking in the woods on a moonless night. Those who choose this path trip and stumble along, never quite knowing what they have tripped over, and it just goes on like that until its dark end. This is the path you want to avoid. Just walk right on by, don’t even go a little ways to see what it’s like.

There are no rest stops on the dark path; the people on it are nonstop grieving and hurting each others. What pit stops there are provide only energy bars and drinks to fuel more evil and violence.

Please, as your father I’m advising you to go on the path I’ve walked—the path I’m teaching you to navigate, the path of wise and right living.

There are no trip hazards on this path. You can even break into a run without fear of falling. Stay on this path. Don’t turn from it to the left or the right. Keep your feet on this path and far from the dark path. Set your GPS with path of life coordinates—no U-turns and no detours.

End of Scripture

And now to explain my hokey illustration. I think you can see there are the two paths described, as rendered with my kindergarten-level command of the Paint program. Depending on your theology, you may or may not agree that we all start in a green neutral zone where we have a choice to select one path over the other. The urgings in the proverbs to choose the right path and stay on it sure seem to indicate a choice. I depicted the paths as diverging, rather than running parallel (and surely not intersecting!) with some clear footpaths of doubt and unfaithfulness running off the light path, but becoming less likely to actually connect to the dark path the further along one goes. This is in no way a theological statement about the possibility of changing paths, but it’s just to say that when you’re convinced you’re on the right path, the field of daisies may still draw your attention, but the path you have come to love calls you back with its beacon light.

On the dark path, few think about looking for another way early on, since it’s a real adrenaline high to be in the woods at night tripping over stuff in what seems like good company. Oooo, scarey, fun! But it loses its appeal on the long haul, and then there’s lots of experimentation to try to find another path. But being the best trod and all you’ve ever known, the dark path draws you back. Finally, I included a straight and narrow, mysterious way to get to the path of light from the dark path. There’s an angel at the sign post. I hope you didn’t miss it.


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The Case for Caring for Your Grandparents: John 13:4-17 (how I would say it)

After dinner, Jesus got up, took off his Sunday clothes and tied an apron around his waist. He poured some water into a bucket and went around, one by one, washing the grime (dust, goat goo, etc.) off of the feet of his closest followers.

When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, should you really be doing this?”

Jesus answered, “I know you don’t get this right now, but it will make sense later on.”

Peter replied, “There’s no way you’re washing my feet!”

Jesus said, “Peter, if I don’t wash your feet, we’re finished. We have no future together.”

Peter replied, “In that case, wash my hands and face too!”

Jesus said, “Peter, did you take a bath today? Then all we need to do is get the grime off your feet. Besides my followers are always clean. Well, not all of you…” (He was referring to the one who was going to betray him.)

After he finished, he sat down and asked, “Any idea what just happened here? You call me ‘boss,’ ‘teacher,’ ‘master,’ yadda yadda, and that is exactly what I am to you. So if your master will perform for you the most menial hygienic service which we allow another person to do for us, is there any reason why you shouldn’t do this kind of thing for each other? I did this to set precedence for you to do likewise. Are any of your better than I am, that you can’t do this kind of thing? Is there such a thing as a disciple who is greater than his teacher? Of course not. You know that, so just do it—any and every kind of service that any brother needs. Serving each other in even the most humbling ways will give you a deep sense of contentment.

 


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The Cat is Officially out of the Bag: Matt. 4:24-25; Mark 1:40-45 (How I would say it)

Jesus became a household name all over Syria. People sought him out with their suffering friends and family in tow. Jesus healed all kinds of diseases, chronic pains, seizures, paralysis, as well as exorcised demons. He had crowds following him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the other side of the Jordan River.

There was one guy with leprosy that came to Jesus and threw himself on his knees in front of him and said, “I know you can heal me if you want to.” 

Deeply moved, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man, saying, “Of course, I’m willing! Be fully restored!” Immediately, all signed of leprosy were gone and the man was healed. Jesus sent him on his way quickly with a strong caution: “Don’t tell anybody else about this. Just go see the priest and complete the ritual that’s required to make you ceremonially clean, so that they will see it.”

The man promptly ignored Jesus’ warning and told anyone who would stop long enough to hear the story. Consequently, the crowds became unmanageable and Jesus couldn’t enter towns. He set up in really remote places and still there were mobs of people coming out to see him.


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Isaiah Chapters 8-9 (How I would summarize it)

A colloquial summary

Chpt 8: With Uriah and Zechariah as witnesses, Isaiah made a sign that said, “Future Property of Assyria,” referring to Syria and Israel. Soon, his wife, a prophetess became pregnant with a son. Isaiah named him, “The Assyrians,” in reference to the prophecy he wrote on the sign, which would be fulfilled before the child was able to properly form a sentence.

God reiterated that the Assyrians would flood the land like the Euphrates River overrunning its banks—and resistance is futile. God clearly told Isaiah not to buy into the conspiracy theories that work people into a frenzy, but to fear and dread Him only. For His true people, He will be a stone fortress. For the rest, a stumbling stone. The law of God will be entrusted to His few remaining people, of which Isaiah and his family are symbolic. People will get so hard up for leadership and direction that they will consult the dead. God’s law will be there all along, but they won’t understand it. Instead they’ll persist in their doomsday pessimism and eventually be taken captive.

Chpt 9: But there is mercy for those who have trusted in God through the difficulties. A child related to King David will usher in a new era—the day of the underdog. His coming signals a new order, an ever-expanding kingdom marked by perpetual peace and justice. God has already issued sentence for those who have disgraced His name (claiming to be His people). They are the very ones who said, “We can just rebuild on the ruins.” God is mustering an army to encompass them. Even so, they won’t humble themselves before Him. So He will cut off the tail that wags the dog and the head of the dog too! Religious leaders and politicians alike have been misleading the people. There will be no mercy, not for them, not for the people they have mislead—not even the young men, women or children. All will be fuel for the fire. And they will push each other into the fire to try to save their own lives for a moment more. Such a bloodthirsty people. And God’s not done yet…