The Unknown Jesus: Part 2

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“The truth shall set you free and the truth has a name; he’s over in the woodshop right now covered in sawdust. Everything is about him. And freedom is a process that happens inside a relationship with him.”

The Shack

What’s the first image that comes to your mind when you think about Jesus? We have talked about appearance, most likely you view him as I do with long brown hair and a handsome compassionate face. But what is he doing in the image? I’ve seen many images of Jesus laughing, praying, crying, teaching, and healing. The most familiar image of all, Jesus on the cross. All these images are derived from the last few years of his life, the only years…despite his birth and his temple visit as a boy, that we know of. There are still over 30 years of undocumented life.

What we do know is that Jesus was a carpenter like his earthly father Joseph. That life as a Jew under Roman control was harsh, and that he grew up in Nazareth, a place despised by Jews because it was full of Gentiles. As to whether Jesus was an only child is widely debated, but I’d like to think that Mary and Joseph continued having children in their youth just as others did.

Since his birth, we see Jesus only once more, in the temple after Passover. It is believed he was 12 years old, and at that time, knew his purpose and identity. He proves this to his parents, not in disobedience, but in obedience to his heavenly father. As to what he did after that we can only guess was in preparation for his ministry.

The truth is Jesus came to do more than cover our sins, he came also to become our new high priest. What does that mean exactly? As high priest you were the mediator between God and men, you offered sacrifices to cover their sins and guided people in the ways of righteousness, as it says in Leviticus. However, there were rules you must follow to keep such a divine title. Leviticus 21 goes on to list all the rules, among those being, he shall not, “…tear his clothes.” (21:10)

They brought Jesus before the high priest, he was bruised and bloodied yet his face was set and he was as silent as a lamb before slaughter. The priest’s questions reverberated through the halls with no reply.

The high priest said to Him, “I [e]adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are [f]the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus *said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, [g]hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

65 Then the high priest tore his [h]robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; 66 what do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death!” (Matthew 26:63-65)

At that moment, the high priest was no longer Caiaphas, having disobeyed the law in tearing his robes, Jesus was now able to take the position as our high priest.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Those 30 years before ministry I believe Jesus spent simply being human, experiencing everything we experience in our day-to-day grind. Understanding pain, heartache, loss, joy, peace, longing etc. Growing up and the challenges and changes that brought, as well obeying his parent’s authority and learning how to live in a society that struggled under oppression. In those 30 years, Jesus was becoming our perfect high priest, able to understand and relate to being human because he himself was.

Even when his ministry began, he walked through life as a man dependent on the Father. Never once did he work apart from God, and that is the image we should mirror and follow, for what can we do apart from Him? We see satan attempt to trick Jesus into calling on his power as God, and in trying to make him question his identity as God’s Son.  And at Jesus’s death, we see him cry out to God, “Lord why have you forsaken me?” Showing he was able to feel separation from his Father, just as we do when we fall into fear and anguish. At any point Jesus could have used his power, could have called down angels from heaven to rescue him, he could have chosen never to feel hungry or thirsty, and yet he limited himself, bringing himself down to our level in order to understand us. Never again can we say that God doesn’t understand what it’s like to be us because of Jesus.

There is so much more to Jesus, much we have yet to unveil, as John said, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” That’s quite a statement coming from a man who had walked with Jesus. And now we await that same Jesus’s return, preparing the church and sharing the gospel until the one true Christ comes down from heaven with eye’s ablaze for the kingdom of God.

Then I saw heaven standing open, and there before me was a white horse. And its rider is called Faithful and True. With righteousness, He judges and wages war. He has eyes like blazing fire, and many royal crowns on His head. He has a name written on Him that only He Himself knows. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is The Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in fine linen, white and pure, follow Him on white horses. And from His mouth proceeds a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God, the Almighty. And He has a name written on His robe and on His thigh: King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:12-17)

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The Unknown Jesus: Part 1

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“Although by nature he is fully God, Jesus is fully human and lives as such. While never losing the innate ability to fly, he chooses moment-by-moment to remain grounded. That is why his name is Immanuel, ‘God with us.'”

The Shack, by Wm. Paul Young

I must say, I’ve read many religious books by many well-known preachers, evangelists, and prophets, but this book is by far one of my favorites in its description of God’s love and relationship through the Trinity. Its truths are pretty profound also, but the heart of this story is where it’s at, not many books really tackle understanding the heart of God in such a way that it’s made tangible to us mere humans.

From that ‘heart’ perspective I want you to put aside all religious luggage that you may be carrying against this book and its views. It was written symbolically by man, a man who I believe had revelations from God, but putting that aside as well, it is one man’s way of trying to paint a picture of God’s love. And let me say, though he did a great job, there isn’t a person alive who can truly behold the heart of God and put it into words we can understand. This book is a window, a voice of hope and if you read it as such, it will change you regardless of what religious background you may or may not have. How? because encountering God’s heart, even through the eyes of someone else, changes you. That’s the kind of love our Papa has for us.

Now to the subject! I really wanted to talk about Jesus, and particularly, how he is portrayed in this novel and in our religious society.  First, starting with his appearance because appearance is where it all starts. When you first meet someone you take them all-in physically, and then through time, you shift your focus more internally. In this novel/movie, Jesus is portrayed as an Arabic man who looks commonplace. I think we can all agree that this is a more accurate portrayal of what the real Jesus would have looked like given the people and place of his origin. And yet we have become so accustomed to the pictures of a long, brown-haired angelic man, handsome, with piercing eyes and white skin. I’m not saying it’s blasphemous to picture Jesus in our own way, but we need to be careful about being drawn by appearance more than by the heart.

I’m afraid many of us wouldn’t recognize the real Jesus if he approached us in a crowd…and this time, I’m not talking about appearance alone. What if we have done more than just made up an image of Him, what if we made up his character also? Have we created a Jesus we wanted to see instead of the Jesus who is the way, truth, and life? Even the Pharisees made this mistake! They didn’t recognize the Son of God even though he was healing the sick and raising the dead right in front of their eyes. Why? They had their own imaginings of what they thought Jesus would look and be like. Where he would come from and how he would work through mankind.

It’s no surprise that people today lash out against opposing views religiously. We all have our own beliefs concerning the heart of God, when that is attacked we attack in kind….the pharisee’s killed the real Jesus. And yet we still make their mistakes today. Clinging to our truth instead of THEE truth, that often hurts and stings and makes us feel vulnerable.

That’s the big problem. We have molded Jesus into something that is more comfortable for us. We don’t want to see a Jesus who looked like any other man just as much as we don’t want to watch a movie starring an unhandsome actor. We made a Jesus who appears appealing just as we have built our church services around appearance and performance. It’s all lights, guitars, and uplifting words, but no heart and soul.

I’m not pointing fingers, I’m just as guilty as the next guy. I have trouble imagining a Jesus apart from the pictures I’ve seen. And when spreading the gospel, I’m particularly wanting to paint my own pictures of Jesus, as the gentle Lamb instead of the Mighty Lion who flipped over tables in his zealousness for God. We don’t serve a “tame” God, nor is His own Son the tame version we have made him be. Jesus was very radical for his time, so radical it cost him his life, and even then he stormed the gates of hell for the very souls that had killed him. It takes more than a good, tame man to do what he did.

So my question to you is this, do we really need to make Jesus appealing? Do we need to create an image of him to draw people in? Do we need to pull people to our churches with free handouts and great shows? The very first churches didn’t have technology, stain glass windows nor towering cathedrals. They didn’t have rocking worship, free coffee or wifi, those components may help create a welcoming atmosphere but they aren’t what makes a church.

All they had was brotherly love and the Holy Spirit. They were a family who wanted to grow, not so that their church pews would be filled, but that more people would share in the great love of the Father. Jew or Gentile, wealthy or poor…sons and daughters of God, loved by Him uniquely and completely.

Jesus is appealing, compelling, and perfect. He is a lion and he is the lamb, a sacrifice for many. What did he look like? He was a human like us and yet he stood out from the crowd. Not that he stood out physically, with dark curly hair, tan skin, and brown eyes. He looked commonplace. And yet people turned to stare at him when he walked by and a question rose to their lips, “who is this man?” His smile conveyed a thousand, “I love you’s,” and his arms were never crossed but always opened wide, inviting. His voice was human but his words gripped the very soul and filled it with longing for a world unseen. He wore sandals on his feet, dusty from constant travel. His clothes were plain and used, and yet there was a radiance about him, like a royal King in disguise amidst his people. His laugh was hearty and child-like, and to stand by his side was completeness. What other man could compare to Him? He was a brother, a teacher, and the greatest of friends.

The unknown Jesus, will be unvieled again.

What Remains

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Flimsy papers start to fray

Bindings come undone

Words though written in fine ink

Fade quickly in the sun

Books, strewn across the floor

Are strewn farthest in the mind

And like the many stories told

They lose their voice in time.

But there is one such story

That resides not in the mind

It’s pages never come to rot

its words don’t lose their shine.

It’s binding is its very core

Held tight by sacrifice.

This story is our story

And all stories intertwined

Its voice is hope, love, and truth

Drawing people near

It will not be forgotten

Not now nor coming years

This book lives in our hearts

A treasure from God Most High

A promise, a gift, a future

Given to mankind

There is no story greater

In this world, we call decay

Though many stories turn to dust

This is what remains.

 

 

A Child’s Gift

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“Children are the hands by which we take hold of Heaven.” 

Henry Ward Beecher

I held her in my arms, the most beautiful gift and most precious miracle. With big blue baby eyes full of wonder and trust, believing in what is good, pure, and lovely before ever knowing the meaning of this life. Holding her was like holding a promise, that God is good and that what we pray matters. She was a survivor that very well could have been a miscarriage, but prayer saved her and here she was.

This experience will always stay with me. It is the first healing I had been a part of. God heard me despite my fears and worries. He brought life into a broken situation, as was His will all along. Now, I am all the more outraged at the heinous crimes of abortion, at all the lost children that have been reduced to a mere bunch of cells. I see the overwhelming efforts of those whose morality is still intact, fighting against the injustice of our society in the hopes of saving lives, and I also can’t ignore the growing number of children discarded and put in foster homes. Is it not a crime enough that we are destroying our present society and selves? What we are doing to our children may well effect tomorrow’s world. What inheritance are we leaving for them?

I know the world is still full of people who value children, but it seems a lot of the voices that are being heard through the crowd are painting an opposite message. Those in childcare are being paid very little and often take the brunt of the blame for the raising of children. Babies are being talked about as if it is debatable whether they are in fact living beings. Neglect and abuse are at an all-time high against children, and their treatment doesn’t always improve when placed in a foster home. Children are often treated as burdens and labeled with mental ailments to avoid placing blame on the parents. Now gender is being attacked and erased from the curriculum as well as religion. Children are left with very little guidance as to who they are and what they should believe. And yet we continue to blame them when they eventually lash out at the confusion enveloping their lives.

What has become of families? So much brokenness and separation. So much fear towards their children, who first came as a blessing and gift. As the Bible says in Psalm 127:3-5:

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

A child has always been considered a joy and blessing from God. The Bible even states that Heaven is made for children and those who are child-like in their faith. That they are the greatest of these and crowned with glory. Have we forgotten that we were all once children, and to God, we are still His children! Though we are adults physically we have forgotten that we must be child-like towards our Father. To believe and trust Him just as our children do instinctively.

Even I have needed that reminder, at the age of 23. The truth is, it’s hard to worry and fret about adult problems when surrounded by children at play. It sparks something deep inside, something lost, that causes everyone to smile and dream again. We underestimate them, their abilities to cope and understand things that we often miss. Sometimes one small phrase from a child, a single observation or thought can leave us changed. You don’t have to be a professor to teach someone, heck, you don’t even have to be three years old!

I’ve seen the effect a single child can bring to someone. Especially someone who has suffered great loss. In the face of death, a baby can bring so much light. As novelist/philosopher, Fyodor Dostoyevsky said, “ the soul is healed by being with children.” Or as American poet Carl Sandburg said, “a baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.” Both these quotes are spoken by people of experience, people that discovered something of great value in the eyes of a child. And isn’t that what we see in the face of a newborn baby, hope, and love? That though there are pain and loss in this world there is also life and a future to protect.

You may or may not like children, you might even be afraid of them or think that they don’t like you. I promise you this isn’t true, God made us all able to relate and guide children in the ways they should go. And He created each and every child to be a blessing and promise. You will never meet a child who is bad, maybe a child who is hurt and feeling unloved, but never is any child born angry and resentful. I have taken care of children from many backgrounds, and have found that the ones who “act-out” are the ones who need love the most, so much so that they are screaming inside and doing things that they know will get them in trouble, why? because even negative attention is still attention. They are just like us, hungry for love, needing a father to guide them and people to help them. Searching for something and someone, a hand to lead them home.

What I See

Little hands lifted high

amidst a crowd of disbelief

eyes that see a mountain move

Before it came to be

Mouths that speak in certain truth

of things I cannot see

And feet that jump, dance, and move

To heaven’s own heartbeat.

A child, crowned in victory

That is what I see.

Kingdom of Dreams

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Dreams, they can be manifestations of our deepest fears or worries, they can be fun-filled escapes from reality, and they can be an open window into another reality and it’s truths.

As Christians, we believe in an often unseen reality, though not entirely. God has placed us in a realm where physical and spiritual can combine, or even cross. We see this in visual healings and signs, as well as visions and words of knowledge while we are awake. However, when we sleep in this reality, our Spirit remains awake. Prophetic dreams are quite possible, as well as dreams from our own spirit and it’s longings. And lastly, nightmares, demonic influences that try to steal our peace in a world they can twist with fear. But our authority over such forces remains with us when we are having such a dream. We can influence our dreams and take control of them the same way we learn to control our emotional responses when we are awake.

Don’t truly believe in prophetic dreams? I wasn’t sure I believed either until a few years ago. My husband, Aaron, never had dreams. Sometimes he would vaguely remember seeing or feeling something but it would slip through his fingers. Something had greatly unsettled him though. For the first time, he remembered a dream he had, and not just once. The dream repeated itself three times.

He told me that in the dream we were pulling up the driveway at my parent’s house, and standing by my parent’s living room window, peering in, was the angel of death. Aaron said he was dark and cloaked and was looking through as if searching for something. The angel would go to turn and look at us and Aaron would wake up, unable to identify a face in the darkness. This reoccurring dream unsettled Aaron so much that he called me and asked if I was alright (at the time we were engaged). I would reassure him we were fine and would forget his concerns.

Then it happened. I was outside studying notes for my college exams and I heard my mom scream for me. I ran into the house and saw my dad, who was previously watching tv, on the floor unconscious. I don’t want to go into details, but my dad’s heart had stopped. We administered CPR and a few times he took a breath. I begged God to do something I could not. After an eternity the ambulance came and shocked my dad back to life. Today he is well and alive, undamaged by the events of his sudden cardiac arrest. The CPR saved him, the doctors told us, but I believe God heard my prayers and death had to leave.

I didn’t think about Aaron’s dreams until things had calmed down. I understood then why the angel of death was peering through the windows, waiting. He was waiting to see if he was needed. God told Him no. After that, I became a firm believer in prophetic dreams. Not all dreams are prophetic, and not all prophetic dreams are warnings…some are revelations of God’s heart, others are symbolic. If you aren’t sure, write them all down…remember your dreams and something may reveal their meanings. I don’t know all the answers, but I know that every possibility should be looked into and taken seriously. God speaks to us in many ways, generally not in human ways as he isn’t human. Sometimes dreams are the only way he can reach us, for those who are always busy and in a rush in the waking world. When we sleep we have to listen.

I had a dream the other night that may have some meaning, let me share it with you:

I was in a pit, dark and deep with many people. They were my friends. I could see a beautiful kingdom on a brightly lit hill from inside the pit. After a time I turned and saw everyone in the pit had fallen to their knees in fear and sorrow. I was suddenly pulled out of the pit and placed in the kingdom. I was surrounded by the Kingsmen and the king himself approached me. “You are the only one who didn’t bow”, he said. I feared punishment but to my surprise, he smiled and shook my hand. You will be allowed to feast in my tavern whenever you like. The scene changed and I was in the tavern. Eating hamburgers and fries and sandwiches. Every day I ate dinner in the tavern and the king sometimes ate with me. My friends in the pit were freed but had to live as peasants, unallowed to eat at the tavern.

However, as time passed they snuck into the tavern and ate while I was there eating. They mocked me and in jealousy, they ate and drank their fill. I never said a word but felt sorrow. One day they came and trashed the place. They left and I tried to clean the place but the king walked in and found me. He asked me why my friends had been there,  and I lied to him, wanting to protect them. “They aren’t being fed enough sir, they come in here to have a decent meal so they can work harder for your kingdom.” The king suddenly pushed me, I fell to the floor in amazement. I had grown so close to him I thought I was his friend and equal. To my horror, he reminded me that I was nothing of the sort. I was beaten to a pulp and left on the floor, reminded of the king who had left us in a pit without mercy.

I woke up after this and thought about the dream all day. What did it mean? Prophetic dreams are often just as odd. Odd as in they have nothing to do with what you were thinking or watching before you fell asleep. They are dreams that are uncommon and out of character for you to dream about. So far, I have surmised some of the meaning behind the dream. My friends who bowed, I believe symbolize the religious spirit and Christians who are not fully submitted to God, but to their beliefs about Him. When persecutions come, it is those superficial image oriented Christians that fall away, submitting to their fears. The ones who stay standing? Those are the true followers of Christ, persecution doesn’t bend them, if anything, they stand straighter and stronger. When blessings come to those Christians that persevered the ones that failed become jealous and anguished, still believing that their religion is right and justified by their good deeds. It is the religious spirit that condemns and judges others. Like the Pharisees of the day they long to destroy the true mirrors of Jesus. And so they turn against their brothers, destroying their blessings in what they feel is a right response.

As for the king, I don’t know who he is, but I know what he is not. He isn’t God in this story and he isn’t a friend. I believe he is symbolic of fear, persecution, power, and authority. It was God who gave me good graces with the king, but in the end, I made the fatal mistake of forgetting that the king wasn’t who had blessed me. I also didn’t honor the king. Though the king was bad, he was still in a position of power and I abused it by not only letting others take his food that didn’t have his permission but lied to him when he asked for the truth. I felt pity and guilt because of my friend’s jealousy. When in all honesty, they could have stood by my side and received the same blessing.

Don’t we do this all the time? We condemn the rich because of jealousy, we applaud only meekly when we see others achieve great things and receive outpourings of blessings…where is the honor in that? Our society is trying to tell us that it’s impossible to lose and wrong to win! This isn’t the blueprint for the kingdom of heaven. There are blessings and crowns for those who are martyrs and who were faithful. Levels of blessings and promotions. I believe there are also levels of hell and punishment. Our God justly gives and takes away. He is on the judgment seat, though he is merciful.

This is just one of many dreams I’ve had, I will share more later on, but for now, I just encourage you to take these dreams as a testimony that maybe there is more happening than simply the brain running its courses and what you ate before you dozed off. It’s a possibility that is worth putting trust in, worth pursuing, worth writing down. We all have a kingdom of dreams to uncover, revelations, warnings, stories from God to you.

Wanted

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“God is love. He didn’t need us, but He wanted us.”

I don’t think I can truly capture what it means in words, to be wanted by God. In life, we say we love many things, but our actions often show what we want. What we really want, we chase after with all our hearts.

I love snow, but right now as it falls past my window and I am awed by its beauty, I can’t say I really want it. I prefer my love of beaches and sunshine, I want that! For God to say He loves us and wants us, means that always, no matter what, he prefers us over all His creation. We haven’t pushed Him away by a long shot, thank God…He still wants us. There are things I love that I have put aside, He doesn’t put us aside for anything. We are always His focus, we have His attention, His heart, and His desires. He has wanted us before we even knew what the word meant. Just as He has loved us before we were born. It is through Him we want and love and feel.

I remember when I was picking our wedding song, I had searched through many songs of love and had said “I love you” to my fiance many times, I wanted love to have a different name that expressed my desire for him. I came across the song, Wanted by Hunter Hayes and instantly knew this was our dance, our song. I had told Aaron I loved him, now I wanted to show him I wanted him forever and always. Especially when we had both gone through times in our lives when we didn’t feel all that wanted.

If we truly loved well we would want well. But unfortunately, we are still beginners at this thing called love. But our teacher is Love Himself, and He wants us… He wants to be with us, to walk with us, to live in us. How do I know this? Because that Love died for us.

And now we must ask ourselves this:

You may love God, but how much do you want Him?

 

“When I wrap you up
When I kiss your lips.
I wanna make you feel wanted
And I wanna call you mine
Wanna hold your hand forever
And never let you forget it
‘Cause, baby, I wanna make you feel wanted”

-Wanted: Hunter Hayes

Holy Ghost

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Hello everyone! This is a little different than what I normally post, but after watching and rewatching this amazing series, I felt compelled to promote these films as truly displaying the heart of God, and following the direction of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Ghost is just one of many movies filmed by Darren Wilson from WP Films. Other movies include; Holy Ghost Reborn, Father of Lights, Furious Love, and Finger of God. These movies are amazing for many reasons but first, for their unusual approach to filming. All their movies are Holy Spirit led, what do I mean by this? They literally get their cameras and ask the Holy Spirit to take them on a journey, and as you will see…he doesn’t disappoint! God takes them, and you, on a journey into His heart and His will for mankind. Be ready to have your eye’s opened and your spirit set on fire for a deeper relationship with God.

I’m promoting these movies because they have no agenda but to follow God and ask Him what He wants to show the world. Our God can’t be put in a box, and He proves this time and again by stepping outside our expectations and challenging us to go deeper. These films are filled with miracles and God encounters that truly ignite passion. Even in areas we don’t fully understand, we find ourselves dreaming with God, willing to explore new possibilities with Him.

I know a lot is going on right now, with New Years and it’s resolutions on our minds. Having the resolution to ‘work out’ is great, but the greatest thing we can do with each new year is go deeper with Him, seek out the heart of God for next year and thank Him for everything this year. Declare here and now, that no matter what this year held for you, next year will be better, full of joy and blessing and greater intimacy with God.

Sometimes we need to see through someone else’s eye’s what is possible. These movies might just do that for you. They did for me.