Encounter w/ Greatness

Revelation 1:17

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though I were dead.

He touched me with his right hand. “Don’t be afraid,” he said.

It is when we fall at Jesus’s feet, in realization of just who he is, that we are touched by him.

Throughout Scripture, this is the response to a true encounter with greatness, with Divinity, with our Creator.

You’re not moved to trembling, falling down on your face, or uncontrollable silence by an encounter with a mere idea, but with a person of greatness.

And you’re typically not falling at Jesus’s feet when you’re debating intellectually on who he might be.

But when you realize just who Jesus is, as described in this chapter, you can’t help but react in dumbfounded submission. Something in you permanently shifts. Reality has been shaken and discovered to be different than you thought.

When you see him, you will fall at his feet.

Then you are awake.

Then you are alive.

Believing will lead to seeing, and seeing will lead to submission.

What You Don’t Know

Jude 10

These people, however, curse anything they don’t know.

One of our original mantras in The Ripple Effect was this:

Give no energy to that which you don’t know.

How much heartache, division, and stupidity could we save the world if we just lived by this simple agreement with ourselves?

One thing I don’t know is what other people really think of me.

Oh how much energy I save for better things by giving none to that fruitless option.

I also have no idea if Donald Trump colluded with Russia. So I spend exactly 0.0 seconds per day wondering about it.

One thing I do know is that my family needs me to be present, so….yeah, energy there is well spent.


3 John 9

I have written something to the assembly. But Diotrephes, who wants to be the most important person there, refuses to acknowledge us.

So-called Christian leaders who lack humility, who want to be the most important, who desire attention, who do not submit to authority, are not true Christian leaders.

It does not matter what Church they are part of, what ministry, what seminary.

Diotrephes was a church leader with some authority. The passage does not say he was off in his doctrine or lacked in leadership, but where he was lacking was most important–charity and humility.

As C.H. Dodd put it: “There is no religious experience which does not express itself in charity.”

I’ll leave us with some commentary by William Barclay because it’s really good, straightforward, and needs no clarification from me. (This comes right after the Dodd quote):

That is why, for all his powers of leadership and for all his dominance of character, Diotrephes was not a real Christian, as John saw it. The true Christian leader must always remember that strength and gentleness must go together and that leading and loving must go hand in hand. Diotrephes was like so many leaders in the church. He may well have been right, but he took the wrong way to achieve his end, for no amount of strength of mind can take the place of love of heart.

The Reality of the Incarnation

2 John 7

Many deceivers, you see, have gone out into the world. These are people who do not admit that Jesus the Messiah has come in the flesh. Such a person is the Deceiver–the Antimessiah!

Do not believe anybody who claims they are developing Christianity, as in, they are finding out more and more what it really means, if their claims deviate from the foundational bedrock of our faith.

This bedrock consists of Jesus Christ being the divine Son of God who became human, joining himself to us, dying for us, and rising again.

Now it is possible to attain a deeper understanding of the context of Scripture via archaeology and scholarship, but nothing changes the foundation of the incarnation, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as God’s Son who has reconciled us with our Maker through his atoning sacrificial death in human history.

When people go out on their own and say that they know what Jesus really meant–if it goes against the foundational teaching of Jesus as the touchstone, then they have gone too far, and their teaching is of the devil, so they are antichrist.

Don’t buy it for a second, don’t entertain it, and definitely do not support or promote it in any way!

If you wonder where someone stands, just ask them who they think Jesus is–if he is God’s Son, fully divine, who took on our humanity, and, therefore, also became fully human from his birth forward.

Our faith is rooted in the historical God-man of first century Palestine, Jesus Christ.

In my admittedly limited study of world religions, I have not seen any other story quite  like that of our almighty Creator becoming one of us in order to sacrificially give all of  himself for our sake, to be forever united with us, out of divine love for us.

There are stories of creation, of floods, of sacrifices, but none like the incarnation, atoning death, and resurrection to a glorified physical body of Christ. None that I know of.

For further, deeper reading, check out On The Incarnation by Athanasius.

Rebirth Conquers World

1 John 5:3-4

This is what loving God means: it means keeping his commandments. His commandments, what’s more, are no trouble, because everything that is fathered by God conquers the world.

This is the victory that conquers the world: our faith.

To the person born only of the world, God’s commands are intolerably burdensome, even ridiculous-sounding.

But for those who have been born of God (born from above, born again, regenerated) the commands are an easy yoke.


Because, as we said the other day, we have been given a new nature upon the abandoning surrender of our lives to God through Jesus. And with this new nature and faith, the attractions of the world that would be obstacles to obedience, are conquered.

“The new birth is a supernatural event which takes us out of the sphere of the world, where Satan rules, into the family of God….The spell of the old life has been broken. The fascination of the world has lost its appeal,” says John Stott in his commentary on these verses.


The Christian can enjoy continuous victory over the world because obstacles have all been conquered by Jesus Christ, and the power that raised Him from the dead is now available for our use against temptation and spiritual harm.

Now please note that the word victory implies that there is a battle. It does not mean that everyday is cuddly kittens and bright flowers.

But everyday can be victory over the evil one, IF we use our divine weapons instead of our worldly ones.

Some of our main divine weapons are prayer, Scripture meditation, partnership with other Spirit-filled believers, and of course, faith—which we might say better as trust or reliance.

When we use these weapons in total dependence upon the work and person of Jesus Christ, we will walk in the light and victory promised us.

But we must remember that our ways are not God’s ways, and that the road may not look how we think it will look, or even at times, how we want it to look. But if we trust in the goodness and power of God over our own, we will win the daily battles.

I think it’s easy to pray, but then go away thinking and feeling it is still up to me to do most of the work on my own. That’s a recipe for frustrating failure. It is when I confess my weakness and inability to do what needs to be done, and trust that God will do for me what I cannot do myself, that I receive supernatural help and victory.

One example of many I could share is this: Years ago my wife was out of town for over a week, and I woke up one morning so exhausted from daily helping our daughters get ready for school, dropping them off, going to work, getting them, making dinner, etc—I was single-parenting for a week. Lying in bed, I calmly prayed, “Lord please help me this morning to be patient, give me the strength I need to help the girls out. I trust you to do this, I just don’t have it in me this morning.” I arose from bed to go downstairs and wake them up, and before I took a step away from my bed, I hear Gabriela at the bottom of the stairs, “Hey daddy, guess what?” I opened my bedroom door to the most wonderful sight. “We got up early and got dressed ourselves!” Thank you, Jesus! They had never woken up before me nor completely dressed themselves until this moment. Praise God.

Confidence in the divine human person of Jesus is the one weapon against which neither the error, nor the evil, nor the force of the world can prevail.  ~John Stott

We Should Live Through Him


1 John 4:9

This is how God’s love has appeared among us: God sent his only son into the world, so that we should live through him.

This is an interesting and, perhaps overlooked, verse.

We know that Jesus came to earth for many reasons—to die, to atone for our sins, to show us what God is like, to rise from the dead, to heal people…

These are all true of course.

One thing I don’t hear emphasized as much is that Jesus came so that we should live through him.

What do you think it means to live through Christ?

This sounds different than live like Christ.

For me, many words come to mind when thinking of living through Christ: grace, energy, strength, forgiveness, power, wisdom—all of which are Jesus’s, and are now available for our appropriation through proper means.

But what might it look like? To live through Jesus in your actual life day to day?

Nature vs. Nature

1 John 3:9

People conceived and brought into life by God don’t make a practice of sin. How could they? God’s seed is deep within them, making them who they are. It’s not in the nature of the God-begotten to practice and parade sin.

~The Message

When you believe in and put your trust in Jesus Christ, surrendering your life to him, you are given a new nature.

Without this new nature, you are unable to live out the Christian life.

With this new nature, you are unable to live a life in habitual sin. It simply won’t allow it.

How do we sin at all with this new nature?

The old nature is still there and wars against it.

Dallas Willard’s description of the flesh has been very helpful for me in my thinking through all of this:

Simply stated, the flesh is merely the natural powers of the human being, based in the human body—our capabilities, wants, and desires as they are in themselves, unaided by divine assistance or guidance.

It’s not identical to our human nature, but one aspect of it.

The problem is when the flesh is uncoupled from God’s Spirit. Then our desires are in charge, and we operate only out of what we want, because we can’t override them (our overwhelming desires) on our own.

But if we tend to our new divine nature, feeding it consistently, it will be God’s nature in charge of our daily decisions and living.

A converted Native American explained, “I have two dogs living in me—a mean dog and a good dog. They are always fighting. The mean dog wants me to do bad things, the good dog wants me to do good things. Do you want to know which dog wins? The one I feed the most!”

Gratitudin’ With Rob ‘n’ Robin

My “Sista from another Mista”, Robin Shaw, and I riffed on gratitude one day.

It is vital that we focus on what we have and what is good, more than what we don’t have and what is going wrong.

It is not to ignore evil, stick our head in the sand, or be a Pollyanna, but rather to appropriately direct energy where it is most effective for good living.

Then, I believe, we are able to hold both the wonderful and the awful with a perspective that is whole and proper.

Me Or An Interpretation

“The Veil Was Torn” by Harold Teel

1 John 2:3-6

This is how we are sure that we have known him, if we keep his commandments. Anyone who says, “I know him,” but doesn’t keep his commandments, is a liar. People like that have no truth in them.

But if anyone keeps his word, God’s love is truly made complete in such a person. This is how we are sure that we are in him: anyone who says, “I abide in him,” ought to behave in the same way that he behaved.

My commands are not burdensome….

If you get to know Me.

Do you know ME?

Or an interpretation of Me?

Or an interpreter?

Jesus tore the veil between us and God, not between us and someone’s interpretation of God.

The veil was torn so that we can communicate directly with God and experience the Presence….via Jesus.

Not so that we can study someone’s interpretation of God.

We can do that with the veil still intact and keeping us separated.

For the record, it is Jesus’s interpretation of God that counts. It would be very good to be well acquainted with this man from Nazareth.

Who do people say that I am?

That’s nice.

But what about you?

Who do you say that I am?


Incarnation of Ultimate Reality

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captured this billowing cloud of cold interstellar gas and dust rising from a tempestuous stellar nursery located in the Carina Nebula, 7500 light-years away in the southern constellation of Carina. This pillar of dust and gas serves as an incubator for new stars and is teeming with new star-forming activity. Hot, young stars erode and sculpt the clouds into this fantasy landscape by sending out thick stellar winds and scorching ultraviolet radiation. The low density regions of the nebula are shredded while the denser parts resist erosion and remain as thick pillars. In the dark, cold interiors of these columns new stars continue to form. In the process of star formation, a disc around the proto-star slowly accretes onto the star’s surface. Part of the material is ejected along jets perpendicular to the accretion disc. The jets have speeds of several hundreds of miles per second. As these jets plough into the surrounding nebula, they create small, glowing patches of nebulosity, called Herbig-Haro (HH) objects. Long streamers of gas can be seen shooting in opposite directions off the pedestal on the upper right-hand side of the image. Another pair of jets is visible in a peak near the top-centre of the image. These jets (known as HH 901 and HH 902, respectively) are common signatures of the births of new stars. This image celebrates the 20th anniversary of Hubble’s launch and deployment into an orbit around Earth. Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 observed the pillar on 1-2 February 2010. The colours in this composite image correspond to the glow of oxygen (blue), hydrogen and nitrogen (green) and sulphur (red).

1 John 1:1

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have gazed at, and our hands have handled—concerning the Word of Life!

How we were meant to live—in God-absorbed and God-animated life—was put on display in Jesus of Nazareth.

We are grounded in eyewitness accounts of the historical manifestation of the Eternal entering our spatiotemporal world. These accounts were recorded in the New Testament, proclaimed through preaching, and have been passed down through the ages to us today.

I like how Lesslie Newbigin says, “Ultimate reality was no longer unknowable: it was available to us in the person of Jesus Christ, who was made known to us in the New Testament and the preaching of the church.”

If ultimate reality is actually personal, and visited us 2,000 years ago in human form, then we don’t get to make all the decisions or ask all the questions. We comply with the decisions and have to answer questions posed to us.

Newbigin gives a great analogy: As long as you’re talking about someone who is not in the room, you can say what you want, can paint whatever picture of them you wish. But if they suddenly enter the room, it all changes. You need to stop talking and allow the person to speak for themselves.

God has entered the room.

Our life is about getting to know the Person who gifted us with said life, more than mastering the right way to live, more than figuring it all out.

We seek and find. We don’t seek and figure out. Because we’re not studying some impersonal thing or idea to conquer.

We’re pursuing relationship with Someone we may have interaction with.

We find, in the true sense of the word, because we discover (un-cover) that beyond all we’ve ever known, Someone is there, who has known us and loved us from before we were even in the womb, and, overwhelmed, we can’t help but love back.