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Nov 23 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

November 22, 2015 – Numbers 13:25-31 & 14:1-2

Christian Creativity
Hanging On to the Creative Vision

When they returned from spying out the land, at the end of forty days, they proceeded to come to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the sons of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; and they brought back word to them and to all the congregation and showed them the fruit of the land.
Thus they told him, and said, “We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there. Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amonites are living in the  hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan.” Numbers 13:25-31

Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in the wilderness!” Numbers 14:1-2

Intro: There are episodes in scripture, when I come to them, though I know what happens, I hold my breath

– the decision before the characters will determine the fate of the nation
• I want to yell and warn them, “No! That’s a bad idea. Don’t do it!”
◦ they have so little to gain and everything to lose — God’s companionship, their welfare, their destiny
◦ but they never listen to me, and so the tragedy follows (just like the last time I read it)
• of course, I can’t change their past any more than I can change my own
– this report of the spies and Israel’s response is one of those episodes

It seems to me that Moses set the spies up for failure
– in chapter 12:17-20 he told them what to look for:
• the people (are they strong or weak, few or many), the cities (large or small, open or walled), etc.
• it comes as no surprise that the spies found what they were looking for
◦ strong people (even giants! 13:32-33), fortified cities and a land that “devours its inhabitants”
– God responded to Israel’s moaning by giving them exactly what they said (14:28-29)

It is as if he said,
“Okay, you’ll get everything your faith is able to grasp and what you have imagined possible. I will reward you to the limit of your creativity.”

• but God made an exception for two of the spies, one of whom was Caleb

But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it. (14:24)
This, because Caleb had tried to calm and inspire the people
. . . do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them and the LORD is with us; do not fear them (14:9)

• Caleb had creative vision – he could see the promise as if already fulfilled

Creativity’s greatest resource is faith

Faith inspires and encourages creativity
– if you know there’s a way through, you’ll look for it
• faith is biased in favor of positive outcomes
– I’ve experienced the ease and joy of working with people who can!
• when teamed up with Rick Founds, I’d often ask him for something extra – perhaps unusual
◦ he would smile and within a few days, he would have it ready for our next event
◦ working with Rick spoiled me
• with other creative artists who followed Rick, I would first have to convince them they could! 
◦ it was not that he was more talented or creative
◦ he simply had more confidence in his talent and creativity

Where faith falters, creativity declines

Creativity is not irrepressible, it can be blocked

read more…

Nov 18 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

November 15, 2015 – Romans 2:12-16

Creative Christianity
Informed Intuition

For all who have lived without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. Romans 2:12-16

Intro: You may not recognize the name Walter Cannon

Or know that he was one of America’s outstanding physiologists
– but you’ve probably heard a term he invented: flight or fight
• it refers to the activation of the sympathetic nervous system
– in his book, The Way of the Investigator, Cannon included a chapter on “The Role of Hunches”

Walter Cannon, “As a matter of routine I have long trusted unconscious processes to serve me . . . .”

• he found that insights would come to mind when awake in the middle of the night
◦ this, he said, was the only value he could find for insomnia
• this is how he describes the way flight or fight came to him one night
◦ he had been closely observing the many changes in the body that accompany intense emotions
◦ there were so many and they were so varied that they “seemed unrelated”

“Then, one wakeful night, after a considerable collection of these changes had been disclosed, the idea flashed through my mind that they could be nicely integrated if conceived as bodily preparations for supreme effort in flight or fighting.”

The hunch is one form that intuition can take
– a hunch can be strong confidence in a suspicion, conclusion or theory that you cannot prove
– other forms of creativity include:
• epiphanies – a sudden moment of revelation or realization
◦ an idea, solution, new perspective or insight into a situation pops into your head
• gut feelings – impressions that are more visceral than rational
◦ “I felt it in my bones,” “Something about him felt off”
◦ you know something, but you don’t know how you know

Creativity is frequently moved forward by intuition
– our own intuitive voice can help guide us to answers, insights and solutions
• you have experienced intuition, though you may not have recognized it as such
– this is an important subject, but I admit my inexperience with it
• so we will be exploring intuition together

In Paul, theology and psychology intersect

Of course, Paul did not use the terms–theology and psychology
– in part, because they had not been bifurcated into two different “specialties”
• he perceived innate human capacities as both spiritual and psychological at the same time
• it was due to a certain innate capacity that unbelieving humans had to “suppress the truth,”

because that which is known about God is evident within them . . . . (Ro. 1:18-19)

– therefore we come up against an odd situation:
• Gentiles who had not been exposed to God’s written Law, were nevertheless living according to it

Our passage indicates that there are two ways we come to know God’s will

read more…

Nov 12 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

November 8, 2015 – Exodus 35:30 – 36:2

Christian Creativity
Creating Beauty

Then Moses said to the sons of Israel, “See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship; to make designs for working in gold and in silver and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings and in the carving of wood, so as to perform in every inventive work. He has also put in his heart to teach, both he and Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach,of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to perform every work of an engraver and of a designer and of an embroiderer, in blue and in purple and in scarlet material, and in fine linen, and of a weaver, as performers of every work and makers of designs. Now Bezalel and Oholiab, and every skillful person in whom the LORD has put skill and understanding to know how to perform all the work in the construction of the sanctuary, shall perform in accordance with all that the LORD has commanded.”
Then Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every skillful person in whom the LORD had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him, to come to the work and perform it. Exodus 35:30-36:2

Intro: I enjoy the Bible; its collage of stories and songs, laws and letters

All the different parts are required to fill out the horizon of our knowledge of God
– but still there are snippets of scripture tucked in odd places that fascinate me
• I’m going to share two of them with you
• the first is this announcement that Moses made regarding God’s sanctuary

The Old Testament heroes–Moses, Samson, David the prophets–had something extra
– they were “filled with the Spirit” – divine energy flowed through them
• so that God was acting directly in the world through human agents
– what first surprised me, then fascinated me about our passage–it wasn’t only the heroes
• God likewise empowered artisans! — they too were filled with the Spirit
• only they were not empowered not for battle, leadership or prophecy
◦ but for artistic design and skilled work to construct God’s sacred tent

We have seen that creativity is not magic nor does it come to us from the outside
– made in God’s image, creativity is one of the qualities that defines the human person
• nevertheless, there are times when God joins someone in the creative process
• and when that occurs, creativity does come from the outside
– the Latin roots of the word “inspire” literally means “breathe into” or “spirit enters”
• God is always involved in creative inspiration, but normally his involvement is indirect
◦ in the case of the artists Moses named, God’s inspiration was direct
◦ and this is true even though much of their work was (technically) not “religious”
• we need to rethink what it means to be Spirit-filled 
◦ and the sort of activities in which being Spirit-filled is relevant

Two lists highlight creative inspiration

First list highlights internal capacities
– wisdom – the appropriate application of information (always practical)
– understanding – comprehending how things work–nature, society, relationships, etc.
– knowledge — or know-how

read more…

Nov 2 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

November 1, 2015 – Genesis 6:5-8

Christian Creativity
“Inventors of Evil”

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. Genesis 6:5-8

Intro: A few years ago I published a book on postmodern popular culture

After reading it, a professor at USC told me, “What you’ve described is ‘postmodern-lite’”
– he went on to explain, “You left out all the hard stuff – the dark side of postmodernity.”

He was right, and last week I was guilty of the same omission when talking about creativity
– I have to admit that the exploration of creativity excites me
• through creative eyes, whole world is enchanting — or becomes re-enchanted
• when against the wall, creativity imagines and then finds or designs a door
◦ creativity is free rather than caged, open rather than closed, flexible rather than rigid and curious rather than jaded
– so, yes, it’s true, what I described last time was “creativity-lite

If we endeavored to treat every moment creatively, the result would not be breakthroughs, but chaos
– for example, when driving it is okay in being creative to find a new route to work
• but it is not okay to experiment with something new and different at every intersection
– it is not necessary to reinvent everything!
– and though we associate creativity with making things, it can also be destructive
• our scripture today provides just such an example

The story of the Flood hits close to home

We may have difficulty with it historically or geologically
– but the idea that humankind can bring down its own demise is all too familiar

Helmut Thielicke described one of the ways God made humans to differ from other animals: “None of them can decide whether they wish to become fish, birds, or elephants. But to man the chance, and the burden too, has been given to decide for himself whether he wants to become human or inhuman, whether he wishes to realize or sabotage his destiny.”

• many voices today echo Noah’s warnings
• if we continue blindly on our present course the consequences will catch up to us
– by making us in his image, our Creator put an awesome gift in our hands
• we can use it to build a better world or spell our doom

read more…

Oct 28 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

October 25, 2015 – Genesis 4:19-22

Christian Creativity

Lamech took to himself two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah. Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. As for Zillah, she also gave birth to Tubal-cain, the forger of all implements of bronze and iron; and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah. Genesis 4:19-22

Intro: This fragment of text reminds us that creative genius sometimes runs in a family

Of all the “required reading” we were assigned in high school, the one book I actually read
– Aldous Huxley’s Brave New Worlds
• I later learned about his brother, Julian Huxley, and grandfather Thomas Huxley
◦ both were famous scientists
• Aldous had a step-brother, Andrew, who won a Nobel Prize in medicine
– then there were also the James brothers
• Henry James, the novelist and his psychologist/philosopher brother, William James

The the backdrop for our story is a family tree
– not often, but occasionally a gem glimmers in one of these boring genealogies
• we know Lamech only through his sons and his obscure poem
• I wonder if it was the poet in him that encouraged the creativity his children displayed
◦ usually, that is all it takes to release a child’s inner genius
– for a few weeks I want to explore creativity

Let’s zoom-in on these ancient inventors

Each one is identified as a “father” (founder) of a trade or craft
– each innovation moved society forward
– there is a simple pattern in the text: two items are connected with each of their names

Jabal, “those who dwell in tents and have livestock”
– if we’re honest, this is the last place we’d look to learn about creativity
• today’s tent-dwelling bedouins live the same as their ancestors centuries ago
• how much creativity required is required in setting up a tent or herding sheep?
– however, if until Jabal humans had lived in caves or mud-brick and stone huts,
• a home with mobility would have been a huge innovation
• spend week on farm or ranch and you’ll see dozens of innovative uses for baling wire
◦ farming and ranching require a great deal more creativity than city folks realize

Our Reflexion community began with a few of us meeting informally on Sunday nights
– a few months ago, I opened a discussion on creativity
• immediately several people announced, “I’m not creative”
◦ but I knew better – I reminded them of what they told us previously
◦ experience at their jobs, with family or during travels
– we tend to associate creativity with the arts or scientific inventions
• but if you can express an idea in speech, you’re creative
• words are the raw material of speech
◦ to embody a thought they must be combined, arranged and modified
◦ we are creative, but it is a quality we may have to nurture

read more…

Oct 20 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

October 18, 2015 – Isaiah 57:3-10, 15

A Weary Spirit and A Broken Heart

You were tired out by the length of your road,
Yet you did not say, “It is hopeless.”
You found renewed strength,
Therefore you did not faint.
. . .
For thus says the high and exalted One
Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,
I dwell on a high and holy place,
And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
In order to revive the spirit of the lowly
And to revive the heart of the contrite.
 Isaiah 57:10 & 15

Intro: My thoughts today were inspired by several experiences this past week

First, in our meetings Wednesday and Thursday, listening to God speak through the Scriptures
– I was reminded of the importance nurturing our passion for God
• and how that passion is expressed in worship

Another moment of reflection occurred during a conversation with a friend
– he had visited his father who lives in one of the Bible belt states
• his dad belongs to a gospel quartet” that was invited to sing at a “revival”
• I remember the revivals of my childhood
◦ on week out of every year, Dad would hang a revival sign in front of our building
◦ he would also invite a lively evangelist to deliver emotion-charged messages
◦ then we would wait for sinners to pour in, get converted and the church to grow
(that part never happened)
– tent revivals have a long history in North American culture
• the one my friend attended was in a tent set up next to small church building
• he described the exciting atmosphere and how “inspired” it felt

The third trigger was a Facebook invitation I received to join the group “Revival Call”

Then, on Friday, my daily reading brought me to Isaiah 57

Conservative Christians take concept of revival for granted

However, the word “revival” never occurs in scripture
– we do see examples of what could be called revival
• periods or “seasons” when God brings to life the spirit of his people
– in the Old Testament, this is usually linked to a resurgence of devotion to Law
• being static and stable, this represents a return to that which does not change
• but it also included a fresh energy for worship
◦ restoration of the temple, renewal of sacrificial ritual and (from David’s time) a music revival
◦ in fact, there was a “revival theme” in their music:

Give thanks to LORD for he is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting
(2 Chr. 513; 7:3, 6; 20:21; Ezra 3:11 (Neh. 12:24, 46) & even future revival, Jer. 33:11)

– NT: Pentecost in Acts 2 – then in other places

In American history, tent revivals find their roots in the “Great Awakenings”
– these were periods when the nation’s churches experienced spiritual renewal
• this renewal was accompanied by many conversions and significant societal change
• depending on how you count them, there have been three or four Awakenings
– it was as if the Church had been a slumbering giant, needing to be awakened and put to work
• to some extent, they came when truth had been intellectualized and needed to be infused with passion
◦ what Jonathan Edwards referred to “Religious Affection”
• or when social conditions needed fixing–e.g., slavery–or during national crises–e.g., the Civil War

Revival, then, meant new life, renewed passion, and a return to the church’s sense of mission
– churches emerged from their buildings and into world

Isaiah was thinking of a different sort of revival: personal revival

read more…

Oct 5 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

October 4, 2015 – Acts 1:1-5

Jesus Christ:
Words of Eternal Life

The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day  when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:1-5

Intro: For the last five months we’ve been going over Travel Tips for the Spiritual Journey

This week I’ll be out of town, so I’ve asked Steve Beck to talk here at Reflexion next Sunday
– Steve has written a book on Christian spirituality, which he has allowed me to preview
• in the last chapter he describes “How Christian Spirituality Has Changed My Life”
• it fits the point we’ve come to in our current series and I know you will find it encouraging

Most recently considering the Person and work of Jesus Christ in regard to our progress
– in the passage above, Luke summarizes “volume 1” of his two volume work, Luke-Acts
• previously he had given an account of “all that Jesus began to do and teach”
◦ it turns out that the joining of Jesus’ teaching to his doing is critical to our faith
• sometimes the meaning of a miracle Jesus performed was unclear
◦ did he heal for sake of the person’s health? out of his own compassion? to make a point?
◦ on one occasion he healed a cripple to prove his authority to forgive sins (Mk. 2:5-12)
◦ on another occasion, exorcising a demon was evidence of the presence of God’s kingdom (Lk. 11:20)
– Jesus’ teaching explained his doing (i.e., his miracles) and his doing reinforced his teaching (Jn. 3:2)
• these two aspects of his ministry interpret each other
• both point back to the Person and become a revelation of this Son of Man, Son of God

Travel Tip: Explore, know and internalize the teaching of Jesus

There’s so much more in Jesus’ teaching than what we usually hear explained by preachers
– people who heard him were deeply affected–even in his home town

. . . and all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips (Lk. 4:22)

When a large group of Jesus’ followers deserted him, he asked if the twelve were going to leave too

Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” (Jn. 6:68)

– the objective of Jesus’ teaching: to reconcile us to God, enable us to know him and have life in him
• in his teaching, he invites people to a spiritual journey with him
◦ a journey that is defined and directed by the ongoing influence of his teaching
• so, with that in mind, let’s look into Jesus’ teaching

read more…

Sep 29 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

September 27, 2015 – 2 Corinthians, chapters 3 – 4

Jesus Christ:
Contemplation and Transformation

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Intro: Most of the New Testament letters were written by Paul

James, Peter and John wrote some of the other letters

Did Jesus Christ ever write any letters? Yes – he wrote us

you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (2 Cor. 3:3)
Helmut Thielicke asked whether God’s message can be read in us or “are we just so much junk mail?” A thought-provoking question, but that was not Paul’s point

– the wonderful work God was doing in the Corinthians was proof of Paul’s ministry
• those believers were his credentials, his letters of reference
– every time I read this chapter, I stop at verse 18
• this may be the most amazing thing Paul ever wrote
• as we look at Jesus, we are changed into the same image

Today’s “Travel Tip” for our spiritual journey: Transformation occurs as we contemplate Jesus

The obvious challenge: how do we see the invisible?

We learn from Paul that we can come at this another way
– we can ask, Why is it we don’t see God’s glory in the face of Jesus?
• Paul’s answer is that either we’re blindfolded or blinded

But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 2 Cor. 3:15-16
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. . . . For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:4-6

In An Anthropologist on Mars, Oliver Sacks tells the story of “Virgil”
– after being blind for forty-five years, Virgil had surgery to remove cataracts from his eyes
• at first, it seemed like a miracle that he could see again
• but the gift of sight exposed him to an entirely alien world
◦ he found both distance and motion to be confusing
◦ he could identify letters, but not read words

Oliver Sacks explained that “his eyes seemed . . . to be incapable of the easy movement, the scanning, that is needed to read.”

◦ also, he could not see the difference between his dog and cat, until he felt them
– sight is not simply a matter of having normal healthy eyes

read more…

Sep 21 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

September 20, 2015 – 1 Corinthians 1:1-10

Jesus Christ:
Theological Reflection On the Person

Paul, called s an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:1-10

Intro: Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is theologically rich

Not a theology of abstract concepts, but of truth that is meant to be lived
– he gives an explanation and outline for celebrating Communion (11:20-34)
• he provides more information of the church as a living organism than anywhere else (ch. 12)
• he describes how a charismatic church is to conduct its meetings (ch. 14)
• he includes a lengthy discussion on the fact of resurrection (both Jesus’ and ours; ch. 15)
• and nothing else in any of his writings matches Paul’s lyrical exploration of love in chapter 13
– the highlighted words above indicate the way Paul filled the letter’s introduction with Jesus
• this was obviously intentional,– he could have used a pronoun more times than just in verse 5

Paul wanted to make clear that Jesus was the agent of God’s work in their lives
– in Jesus they were:

  • v. 2, made holy (“sanctified”), prepared to encounter God in worship
  • vv. 3-4, given access to grace – Jesus is the “conduit” of God’s grace (Ro. 5:1-2)
  • vv. 5-6, spiritually enriched and their Christians lives stabilized
  • vv. 7-8, equipped for service and held through life “to the end”
  • v. 9, kept in relationship with him, secured by God’s faithfulness
  • vv. 16-25, saved by the power of the cross, in which God’s wisdom and power are revealed

– verses 30-31 are a summation of this first chapter

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption . . .

• then in chapter 2, verses 1-16, we learn that Jesus opens the door to the Spirit
• this may seem like a lot, but it’s only the tip of the theological iceberg

Last week we reviewed Jesus’ role as the designer, guide and provider of our spiritual journey
– today I want to stress the necessity and value of theological reflection on Jesus 
• last week’s talk was intentionally relational; this week’s is intentionally rational

read more…

Sep 14 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

September 13, 2015 – Mark 1:14-45

Jesus Christ
The Author and Perfecter of the Spiritual Journey

Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15 

Intro: A couple weeks ago, I received an invitation to attend a conference outside the U.S.

– it seemed impossible until I learned that transportation and accommodations would be provided
• that’s better than I have it here at home!
– how do we poor-in-spirit people have any hope of making this spiritual journey?
• everything is provided by our Lord Jesus

Christian mystics have sometimes lost sight of Jesus
– a few got themselves trapped in trying to explain spiritual phenomena
• some created road maps and models of how people moved toward God in prayer by degrees
• for them, progress came by stages, such as an ascent up a ladder or mountain
– some probed so deep into mysteries, their references to Jesus became unintelligible
– more recent examples come from those who try to appeal to universal elements in all religions

The Book of Hebrews encourages us to fix our eyes on Jesus Christ
– Why? Because he is the “author and perfecter of faith” (12:2)
• this reveals the place Jesus occupies in our spiritual journey
• Jesus is the alpha and omega of our walk with God
◦ he is in charge of our progress, growth and development start to finish
– we have come to last of our “Travel Tips for the Spiritual Journey”
• and here we find that Jesus Christ is the foundation on which it is built (1 Cor. 3:11)
• he is the way, truth and life that ultimately brings us to God
◦ we travel with him, for him and to him

We catch up with Jesus after his baptism and temptation

Galilee was not only a body of water, but also a large district surrounding the lake
– there were a few big cities in Galilee and lots of smaller towns and villages
• the Jewish communities were connected by their familial and social networks
• as a result, news traveled fast through the gossip mill
(Bruce Malina, Social Science Commentary on the Gospels, pp. 45-46)
– not long after Jesus’ ordeal in the wilderness, people hearing about the rabbi from Nazareth
• he was announcing that the long-awaited time had finally come, kingdom of God had arrived
• people needed to adjust their entire lives to the new reality; they had to believe in it that much

One day as Jesus walked the shore, he saw two men throwing a large net into the lake. Perhaps he stopped and watched the burly brothers for awhile, casting and hauling, tossing the good catch onto a swath of burlap, then casting and hauling again. My guess is that if you and I were there looking for followers, we would have walked on. These men were not the type we would be interested in recruiting. Their career was wrong and they simply did not have the right look.

read more…