"I guess he’s not playing the game…"

Two days ago was March, 17: St. Patrick’s Day. I sat in my office working diligently at my desk when a mother walked by with her young daughter, perhaps on the way to preschool or something. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught the young girl look into my office and notice that I wasn’t wearing green on the day when everyone knows that anybody who is anybody wears green.

As they passed my office door, I could hear the girl say to her Mommy, “Mommy, why isn’t that man wearing green?!?” The mother responded, “Oh, I guess he’s not playing the game.”

Now, I’m sure Saint Patrick was a nice guy. I’m sure he did a lot of good for the world, or for leprechauns, or for somebody. It’s just that 12 years prior to this St. Patrick’s Day, I suddenly stopped giving two rips about Saint Patrick. And believe me, St. Patrick’s Day was always a pretty exciting day for me. I’ve even marched and played my trumpet in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City. But 12 years ago, March 17 stopped being about green clovers, pots of gold, or little men in knickers. Why? Because my oldest daughter was born on March 17, 1997. And suddenly the traditions of a hollow holiday faded into nothing, and the day became about celebrating the birth of our daughter.

And I want the same to be true in my life of worship. Way too easily, what I tend to lean on are traditions and rituals and lose the focus of the relationship with God, my Creator. I can go about my everyday life with a sense of routine that leads me to feeling less than passionate about the love relationship with Jesus that He came to provide.

And I wish I had a nickel for every person who scolded me for not wearing green on March 17th. It’s simply because that day means something different to me.

Irony.

On my way to work today, I was driving behind a car made by Suzuki. I knew Suzuki made cars, but I hadn’t ever heard of this particular model. The back of the car was all dented in, but ironically it still had the plaque on it that told the model’s name: “Esteem”

Where will you go now?

For the past week, we’ve read the first chapter of John everyday, even more than once a day. As we’ve looked together at this chapter, I hope that you’ve been encouraged and challenged by the repetition and deeper understanding of this powerful portion of the Bible.

But my question for you now is, where will you go next? Will you dedicate the next week to John 2 (which has the recorded story of Jesus’ first public miracle)? If you do, I’d like to link you up with a blog I did several months ago. You can find it here. Or will you give some time to Joel?

Once you decide on a verse, a chapter, or a word that God is leading you to, share it with us. Let us know in the comment section, and feel free to share your thoughts on what you’re reading!

Diverted momentarily

These past 2 weeks, I’ve been trying to stay faithful (almost daily) to a blog I’ve set up for a series we’re doing in our student ministry. The series is called “Digging Deep Without Getting Buried.” It’s been all about the Bible, how we view it, why we read it, why we dont’, how we read it, where it came from, how we can trust it as truth, how to understand it, how to apply it, etc.

So, I’ve been trying to stay faithful to that, and consequently haven’t been doing much here. If you’d like to read what’s been written for that series (this Sunday is week 3 of 4), then you can go to imdiggingdeep.blogspot.com

Wherever you are.

In our chat today about John 1, I’d like to focus on a very interesting detail that sometimes gets glossed over by many readers. It’s the issue of Natanael’s location when he heard about Jesus the Messiah. Believe it or not, its got a lot to do with you today…right now…right where you are.

Take a look at this chunk toward the end of John 1…
48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.”
51 He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Its interesting because when Philip told Nathanel about Jesus, Nathanael was under a fig tree. “So what?” you might ask. “What’s the big deal?” Well, we’re told that Nathanael was alone under the fig tree. Read a few verses before verse 48 and you’ll see some of the thoughts that Nathanael had while under the fig tree. Not to mention that fig tree branches often grew to the ground, so being under a fig tree was actually a very common place that people would go for privacy and quiet for thought.

Whatever the reason, whatever it was that was conveyed by Jesus to Nathanael, it was more than sufficient for Nathanael to make the declarative statement in verse 49: “It’s YOU! You’re the Son of God! The King of Israel! You’re the ONE!” And it was the simple reality that Nathanael knew that he was known that brought him to this conclusion.

That’s powerful isn’t it? Think about it. God knows you. God knows where you are right now. He knows the thoughts in your head. He knows the desires of your heart, no matter what they are. He knows how you feel about Him. He knows your past. He knows your future. He knows every hair on your head. He knows your tomorrow. He knows your yesterday. He knows your secrets, even that one that you’re trying so hard to keep from everyone else. He knows you.

And He loves you. He cares about the things that you think, the things you face, the things you do, the things you say. He cares about you. He loves you and the fact that He knows every intimate detail of who you are does nothing to diminish His love for you. He’s going to keep on loving you with an everlasting love until you will turn to Him and receive Him and His love, and allow Him to lead you in life, just as He led Nathanael, starting that very moment.

Jesus’ Address

In today’s verses, I’d like to focus on something that I find astounding. Take a look at John 1:37-39. This should be pretty familiar to you if you took the challenge to read John 1 everyday this week. Just last night, I spoke with one of our leaders who took the challenge and she’s really getting a lot out of just this one chapter. That really encouraged me. Here are the verses:

John 1:37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.

John 1:38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”

John 1:39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.

This took place soon after John had introduced Jesus to the crowd as “the Lamb of God”. There were 2 disciples who were following Jesus, kind of “star struck” at the Messiah. It’d be like seeing your favorite celebrity at the mall, but being a little timid about just going right up to them and starting a conversation.

So, let’s look at a few things that are really incredible here. First in verse 38: “Turning around…” You need to know that Jesus NEVER turns away a sincere and searching heart. If you’re honestly searching for Jesus, He will meet you right where you are. And these 2 men were honest in their desire to know Jesus. Are you really honest, not holding anything back, as you follow Jesus today? I love that even though these men were following Him, it was Jesus who initiated the conversation. And Jesus’ question was a powerful one…

“What do you want?” Wow. Can you imagine Jesus asking you that question? What do you want from Jesus today? What is it that you need from Him? Remember, Jesus draws near to honest hearts.

Their answer was interesting. They said, “Where are you staying?” Basically they were asking where he was living, probably so that they could set up a time to come by and see Him and get to know Him, but not wanting to bother Him right then. It was kind of like, “Jesus, give me your cell number so I can text you when you’re not so busy.” They were interested in who Jesus was, they were honest, but they weren’t wanting to bother Him.

Jesus answer was so Jesus: “Come and see.” Jesus was telling them to forget about later, forget about appointments, forget about bothering Me….come now! Come and follow Me and watch Me, and know Me, and learn from Me….and come NOW!

As you come to Jesus, come honestly. Come with an open, searching heart. But most importantly, come now!