Tag Archives: miracle

What’s Your Name?

How often do we pray… “Dear Lord… thank You for [fill in blessing]… and please [intention, intention, intention]. We ask this in the name of Jesus… Amen.”

We say or hear this as often as Christians gather, do we not? Nothing wrong with this at all.

But lately, over the past couple years, my “prayer circuit” has been modifying somewhat. I sense far less call to “direct God and His grace” through the micro-management of my prayer, and far greater call to “ride the wave” of His love and care from the voice of the Spirit within my heart, as He expresses Himself back to the Father. I guess you could say I “amen” Him, far more than generating my own words.

I have become vastly less concerned with “persuading God” to move in blessing with power and grace, and far more concerned with simply “loving” the object of my prayer, and experiencing that love in real live-time, with a view towards opening the windows of space/time to admit the power and grace God already has available.

It is very difficult to find the right words to express the difference here.

But I think it’s more a change of perspective, to where the task isn’t to “move God”, but rather to “authorize, permit, allow” the universe, this material world of “stuff”… to “accept the grace”, the blessing, the expression of God’s will.

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Does “praying in Jesus’ name” mean that we tack this phrase (“we ask this in Jesus’ name”, or “we ask this in Your precious name”) on to the end of our own mentally generated list or intention addressed to God?


Does it mean that we ourselves step into the persona, the authority, the identity, the Spirit of Jesus the Christ, when and as we address Our Father?

Jesus told the Companion Disciples:

23 “In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full. 25 These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father. 28 I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.” [John 16:23-28]

Now, up to that time Jesus had already taught the guys to pray, they knew the Lord’s Prayer, they’d been going out announcing Him, they’d been healing, they’d been casting out demons in His name.

Yet, He says that up to then they had asked for nothing in His name.’


How is that possible?

I suspect that, just as so much of this discourse in John addresses the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost… so does this. What if, once one changes identity from “me in here, and Jesus out there” to “me in Him, and Him in me, and together we in the Father”… then the whole perspective, the nature, the authority of prayer itself changes?

What if one day we came to our prayer intentions with the attitude that when we put on our “prayer robes”, our “authority and identity of Jesus to pray”, that the Father has already said “Yes” to those intentions, and we apply our faith simply to move the material world to accept the blessings?

And… the world HAS to “move aside to accept”, simply because the universe must respond to the authority of Jesus, because He upholds it all within His will and His word?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

These struck me as strange thoughts one day, when I started wondering about all this. And yet, the Lord seemed to be leading this ponder step by step. He was challenging me to “pray in His name”… to “pray from WITHIN His name”. Pray as though I had taken on His name, as a wife typically takes on the name and authority of a husband. The two become one, different than either alone.

I had this image of the parting of seas, or mountains moving. I thought, “prayer can be that powerful”. But I wondered “why” and “how”. How does faith make prayer that powerful?

And for some reason I thought about police officers… A law enforcement officer pins on their badge, straps on a weapon, and begins work in a vehicle with siren and flashing lights. They are still the person they were when they woke that day, but… when they do their “function”, when they do what only they can do as sworn peace officers, they act “in the name of” the Law… the state, county, whatever. They are not just Joe, Jane, Bob, or Betty… they are authorized to stop, detain, arrest, or use adequate force to protect society.

Why is this so? Because they have entered into this relationship with the people, and the laws people create. What token marks this incredible responsibility, privilege, and authority? Their badge, their shield. And when they raise that shield above their heads in a crowd as they chase someone, shouting “Make WAY!”, or when those lights and siren go off behind traffic on the highway… we part, we pull over, we yield right of way… not so much to THEM, as to the BADGE they carry. To the function they are discharging. To the authority with which they are (in those moments) exercising.

Suddenly, oddly, I had this image of prayer working something like that.

When we function “in the name of Jesus”, we exercise an authority in prayer to which the material universe itself, the world, must yield.

Anyway, it makes for an interesting prayer experiment to approach prayer with some preparation of “taking up one’s token of authority”, and exercising our perquisites, our duty and privilege, to alter reality and usher forth grace and blessing… simply because it is what we are called to do, in those moments when we take on His name and act in His name.

Prayer Experiment…. Question: How would you pray today, if you knew… absolutely KNEW, that TODAY your prayers are uttered in the fullness of Jesus’ authority? As if He sat right alongside you, and petitioned Our Father for whatever you ask?

Would you pray any differently? Would you expect any different results than otherwise?

Grace and blessings to you, Gentle Reader!


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I Believe… I Can Fly!

When you were little, didn’t you have great dreams? Great ambitions? Great hopes? The line blurs for a child, between “dull reality” and “vibrant creativity”, whether one sees a professional athlete, or astronaut, or the greatest singer EVER, or a knight in shining armor conquering dragons and saving those in distress!

But then, we grow up… We learn… There are limits to the possible. We learn to build our boxes. We learn the myriad of things we “cannot do”. We learn the bumps, the bruises, the batterings of the world and people around us. We learn… all there is… is this. Just little, dull, mundane, me… and you… and them… and this! (With a decidedly NOT “capital T” in “this”.)

But then, one incredible day, Jesus enters our own little, dull, mundane, me-and-you world. And He says things like… “To what shall I liken the Kingdom?” and somewhere, deep inside, there is a heart stirring… a tiny leap of hope… a whisper (too small, too timid, even to be fully “heard” or acknowledged, but still really there)… the child’s heart whisper of… “Maybe… just… maybe…” And old dreams, forgotten dreams of Kingdoms, and knights, and deeds of unrelenting courage and adventure rouse again deep inside…

Beyond this, on just as incredible a day,.. At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said,Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’” [Matthew 18:1-4]

What if….

What if your Father were King of the Universe?

What if He had crafted and designed you, from before the beginning of time, to live fully as Prince/Princess in Him, and your perquisites and authority came into play as you learned to embrace and wield them with grace, love, and wisdom?

What if all those “heroic dreams” of your childhood were not simply aspirations TO Him, but hints to your actual nature FROM Him?

What if all the greatest dreams you ever dreamed were the barest inkling, just the slightest hints, of what you truly are and can embrace right here, right now?

Because… I have come to believe that all those dreams of greatness, heroism, adventure… are simply true. I believe I can fly. I believe I once allowed the truth of my humble childhood to be dashed and devastated by those around me who taught of limits, and boundaries, and boxes for Our Father and His embrace. That those same people BELIEVE in “limits”… that there’s only “so much to go around”, and that for ONE person to acknowledge the reality of Infinite Grace… that must somehow “diminish the availability” for others!

This was the error of the disciples noted above. This was what they needed to learn to “see another way”, to “be converted” from…

They wanted to know… “Who would be greatest in His Kingdom?” Because for the answer to be “ONE” of them… the answer could NOT be “ALL” of them.

Little children do not worry about such things. Little children don’t think such questions.

Little children just ask, “Am I? May I be? May I have?”

They haven’t yet learned the shrewd and measuring “sidelong look” at others around them, and begun the calculation that… “If He gives ME this… then THEY won’t get it!”

Can you find and release your Inner Child?

Can you believe?

Can you fly?

He only awaits your testing your wings, for He’s always holding us up, saying… “Trust Me.” We LIVE in the fullness of His Kingdom, called and equipped to rescue, to seek and save, that which is lost. The greatest adventure any can ever know!

Joy and grace to you!

The Little Monk


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Spiritual Warfare: Non-Linear Authority

jesusSpiritual warfare: Angels, demons, possession, oppression, cleansing, healing, casting out, darkness and light.

These sound like medieval issues, and yet we live surrounded by the reality that outcomes of such dramatic battles fill our lives and our media.

So, we look at the encounters Jesus had with unclean spirits, we look at history and texts and journals of our spiritual forefathers, we hear sermons, lectures, conferences and attend services dedicated to healing and wholeness, and we seek to grow. We see and hear words of “command” uttered by those who heal and restore, to banish and exile suffering and torment.

We are struck with a sense of awe and wonder, at the confidence with which words of healing, wholeness, or spiritual cleansing are uttered. “Faith!” we say, and recognize. “Power!” we see and recognize. “Authority!” we realize… and ponder the implications to ourselves, our lives, our prayer, our intercession.

Being so very human, so very normal in our social structures, culture and relationships, we tend to think of “Authority” in terms of “hierarchy”, like the military, or the law… in a line, descending from top to bottom from the Lord on High, downwards through Jesus, through Spirit, through “saints”, through “Christians”, and on downwards from there. Divine Authority seems, to us, a great “Trickle Down Theory” of godly economy, with each tier subject to the next.

Such a view seems affirmed in Jesus’ praise of the faith of the Roman Centurion in the Gospel of Matthew (the event is also reported in Luke 7):

And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” Jesus *said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 10 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. 11 I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment. [Matthew 8]

I mean, that certainly SOUNDS like “military”, “straight-line”, authority, right? But look… Jesus didn’t have to speak TO the illness to heal the servant. The servant was healed in the moment of interaction between the faith of the Centurion, and the presence and willingness of Jesus. Would the servant have been healed without the interest, petition, and conversation of the Centurion? Who, then, “did” the healing? Who then, exercised “authority”?

Well, we know that all True Authority rightly vest in and from God. But… but… then what? What “path” does it follow in its “downward trickle”?

Slowly, looking at scripture, watching and listening to Jesus, I’ve realized a rather strange thing. It would seem that “God’s ways are not our ways”, and that He doesn’t wire things quite the way we do.

The Pharisees also struggled with the nature of Jesus’ authority, and one day they asked Him about it, point blank. The answer He gave, I had always thought of as “rhetorically clever”. But in recent years I’ve come to realize that He wasn’t being “mysterious, clever, and obfuscating”… He was, in fact, giving the only correct answer to the question that can be given.

23 When He entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him while He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?” 24 Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?” And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the people; for they all regard John as a prophet.” 27 And answering Jesus, they said, “We do not know.” He also said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” [Matthew 21]

Now, was Jesus simply being coy and clever there? Or perchance did He actually answer them with not only a truthful, but an accurate answer? Were they asking a question that did not HAVE an answer of the type they were looking for?

I want to leave you here with some passages to look at, and a “thought”. This is not so much an “answer” to all this, as simply a “response” from my own spirit, heart, mind… to/for your spirit, heart, mind. If it leads to your own “answer”, great. If not, the mysteries play on.

Have a Look at:

  • John 10:16-18
  • Matthew 28:16-20
  • John 14:8-10
  • Philippians 2:5-11

Go ahead and “run the word ‘Authority'” through your tools or concordances, and ponder all that as I did when I “paused” in my posts on Spiritual Warfare…

Ask yourself the question Jesus asked of me after all that study, saying…

“OK, now that you’ve seen all that…. Who currently holds the ‘Authority of Kingdom’? God the Father? Me? The Holy Spirit? The Bride? You individually? You collectively? The Father had all authority, gave it all to Me, I submitted utterly to Him, the Spirit judges… So… like ‘Button, button, who’s got the button?’… or the other child’s game of ‘Hot Potato’… Who NOW holds the Authority? Where did it come to rest?”

Now, that was the question… I STILL do not have what I would call “An Answer”, but I think I may have gotten the Point.

I have come to rest in the belief that this is a Trick Question. This is a question with no answer. The Point rests in “Oneness”. God, utterly and entirely, IS His own Authority. Christ is in the Father, Father in the Son, Spirit in Both, Spirit in Us, Christ in me, I in Him, together we in the Father, All of the Body, All of the Bride, All in Him, Him in All…

The Authority resides in Him, and in all the Oneness with Him in which we engage. This is “Non-Linear” Authority. It vests in the Oneness into which He draws each of us, and when we (individually or corporately) rest in His grace, His will, His words, His works…. His authority is present and effective. When we do not, it isn’t.

This there is no one at whom we can point and say, “HE has/speaks with God’s authority”…. or “SHE does”… by virtue simply of who they are, what they do, what office they hold, or what claims they make.

That authority vests in moments, in persons and events, where God’s will in love, grace, wholeness, healing, truth… is clearly expressed. No more, no less.

That is how I have come to “see things”. I may be right. You may see things differently and you may be right. And perhaps we both are. Far more important than whether I (or anyone else) is “right”, is my prayer that laying this out this way, looking at scripture and pondering the love and nature of God, opening to the teaching of the Holy Spirit, brings all of us greater love, light, and truth in our own walks and lives.

Joy, blessings, and grace to all!

The Little Monk


Posted by on August 12, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Spiritual Warfare


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The Mundane Miraculous

244px-messier-42-10-12-2004-filtered-e1401834586474This post follows from Paulfg’s post of today. Something that only happens to “important Christians”, and a brief exchange of comments that followed between us.

I was reminded of a sermon I heard a while back, where the Pastor stood to his pulpit, and authoritatively declared…

“There are only 156 miracles in the entire Bible!”

(If my memory does not betray me… it was 150-Something… I think 6… but I could be off by 4 in either direction, so forgive me.)

He knew this because he had counted them… or some author had and it was in his book… or some professor had and it was taught in his seminary… but anyway… God only intervened miraculously in the history of man 150-whatever times! He was certain of this, because such events would have been so significant (being so rare), that certainly Scripture would have noted additional episodes.

He then went on, in a series of sermons, to show that each of these miracles had the same “prerequisites”, a list of requirements and conditions, that man had to fulfill in order for God to act… and how and why we fail to fulfill them in our miracle-free lives. (Because there’s only 150-whatever!)

The preaching series was actually quite good. The exhortation, the scholarship and exegesis, the encouragement… all really excellent. But there was a flaw… a crucial flaw… that, while I know listeners were blessed and edified by their attention, equally I know this grieved the Father’s heart.

As so often, the problem is in the premise. That first course of bricks is uneven, it may not mean that the wall will be insecure, but the cosmetic flaw may persist throughout.

Here, the flawed premise is actually a “Scriptural Problem”. It is all well and good to say that someone went cover to cover through the Bible and located 150-something recorded incidents wherein God miraculously intervened in human affairs. But that leaves out (at least) one critical verse.

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” [John 21:25]

I offer you, Gentle Reader, a simple question: Have you, personally, ever witnessed or taken part in a “miracle”?

You don’t need to put your hand up, write in, or identify yourself… so there’s no danger here. But truth be told, most people who feel led to read anything like this blog have witnessed or taken part in a surprising number of miracles. Now, I’m not going to get bogged down in issues of “operational definition”, or “juridical specificity”. (I used to, once upon a time. For me, a “miracle” was “any event with a probability of 10,000:1 against, or less.” I kid thee not… it was a very young and exploratory time for me, God challenged me to “name my fleece”, I did… and He just smothered me in events so vastly beyond the probable or likely, that even my doubting self had to admit that it was He doing what He was doing.)

No, this morning I just want to make a simple point in follow up and affirmation of “a ripple” that arose in and from Paul’s post…

We are often accustomed to such “separation of church and state”, that it bleeds over into a pernicious “separation of God from daily life”. Whether morality, mood, love, relationships, or spiritual warfare… we tend to think of “God stuff” in big, overblown, “Ten Commandments — Charleton Heston — Moses/Exodus” terms, rather than the simple day-to-day living we walk through or that we see Jesus walking through among His Companion Disciples.

When I was a young novice, the very first challenge I was given (besides the trial of obedience in general)… but the first real “spiritual” challenge I was given… was to learn to “see God in all things”. Now, that SOUNDS easy, but try it sometime, even on a “day off” away from the office or workplace.

To SEE God, as a vibrant and active participant, in every moment. Setting a table, weeding a garden, sweeping a floor, doing homework, making your bed or doing laundry. Got that down? Great… now add a layer. Driving to work through rush hour traffic. Getting bad service from a fast-food drive-through. See what I mean? It’s challenging!

Now, please bear in mind… just because we CAN come to SEE Him, doesn’t mean we will always respond appropriately to His presence! It just means we are the more likely to address Him, our behavior, our selves… in moments even when we expose our frailties and faults.

And that’s pretty much it, the wrap up, to the ripples I found from Paul’s dropped pebble. That “spiritual warfare” certainly can be the stuff of heroic opera, but it is also the mundane and simple struggle between selfishness and servanthood reflected in gracious kindness, or sour curmudgeonry.

The cosmic and Wagnerian grand scale is all well and good. But the battle between Light and darkness isn’t so much a matter of “Strategies and Objectives of a Grand War”, as much as it is all about “Relationship”.

Do we receive the Love of Jesus?

Do we reflect the Love of Jesus back to God?

Do we refract the Love of Jesus through and around us to others?

THAT is the Spiritual Warfare of the Battle between Light and darkness, Good and evil, God and the enemy. Every moment yielded to love, to grace, to God (thus His will)… is a “blow struck for Light” in that War. Every selfish moment grumbling at our pitiful lacks, or the unworthiness of another… is not an affirmation of Light. That simple.

Sins are simple things… to treat another as less than sacred. Miracles are equally simple things… the expressions of God, His love, His grace, from His heart and hands into our lives.

As I listened to that Pastor that day, declare so authoritatively that God performed (precisely) 150-something miracles, I just had to smile and shake my head a bit sadly…

I wanted to pick up a phone, call him up, saying… “Oh, my dear son! Every BREATH we take, is a miracle. Every heartbeat! Don’t believe me? Too much “science” involved there? Well, ‘science’ can tell us when someone is ‘alive’ versus ‘dead’… but it cannot explain why that is so. No scientist can (thus far) begin with inorganic compounds in a laboratory, and create ‘living tissue’ from it. Even the great strides being made with tissue culturing, no one can yet ‘breathe life’ into a cultured organ, granting it ‘humanity’ or ‘consciousness’ as a person

“Hold a newborn in your arms, and tell me that is not miracle? See a person first see the grace and love of God pierce the misery and history of their life, see their tears of joy and newly discovered freedom as they first embrace Christ, and tell me that is not a miracle? Think of the love of a couple whose hearts have grown closer over 50 years, or the love of the widowed yet in love after separation of decades, and tell me that is not a miracle?”

I wanted to say such things, but I did not. “Grace”… the kind of “gentle touch of God’s hand” involved in such miracles as these… it is hard to see. It takes a bit of practice. Like finding a subtle flavor in a fine wine, a tea, or a delightful dish… it takes time and practice to train the palate. Not everyone can take a year to get apart, be silent, and learn to hear the singing of Creation.

But God is right here all the time, and He is ever about revealing Himself. So, let each of us enjoy that, and develop the sensitivity to touch, the discerning palate, the sensitivity to fragrance… that we learn to perceive Him, His love, His grace, and His miraculous Presence… everywhere and everywhen.


Grace to thee — The Little Monk


Posted by on April 13, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds


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Two-touch Jesus

This is absolutely awesome. Those of you who “preach”… look at this take on the “trees”! Never EVER seen this possibility before, myself. Wow… just… Wow!

Just me being curious

We have a dog. She is a ball a muscle, full of love and energy. She would love nothing better than to roam all day in the woods. She often has. With us tagging along behind trying to get her attention to come back, that it is time to come home. She is deaf. No one has ever told her she is deaf. It’s just someone told us. And now she stays on a long lead.

The reason for mentioning our canine this morning was today’s verses.

They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, ‘Can you see anything?’ And the man looked up and said, ‘I…

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Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized


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Mobius Conversation: Increase Our Faith

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.

“Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and [i]afterward you may eat and drink’? He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? 10 So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’” [Luke 17]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Remember a “Mobius Strip” when you were a kid? Take a narrow strip of paper, take sticky tape and fasten it into a ring, make a bracelet out of it… or… take a pencil and make a line all the way around the OUTSIDE of the ring. The pencil line touches its beginning… there’s a line OUTSIDE, no line INSIDE, all is well. Now, start again… take a narrow strip of paper, twist it just ONCE putting a single twist in it, take sticky tape and fasten it into a ring, making a “twisty bracelet” out of it… or… take a pencil and do just what you did for the first bracelet. BUT this time it’s different. Again, your pencil will meet up with its starting point, but this time, the line will be BOTH INSIDE and OUTSIDE the bracelet! Ooooooo…. *insert awestruck sound of wonder here*. (Hey now! I was, and still am, easily amused. And I found this pretty cool! How could “inside” become “outside”, and vice versa? Huh? Huh?)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Anyway, it seems like Jesus sometimes engages in what I call “Mobius Conversations”. They start out simply enough. He’s telling a story or making an illustration, and you think you know where He’s headed, and you follow along just fine, step for step. But then you reach the end… and somehow you aren’t at all where you thought you’d wind up. He’s brought you somewhere quite different, sometimes to an uncomfortable place.

I think the most “classic example” of Jesus’ Mobius is the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-36). A lawyer, hoist on his own petard trying to get Jesus to blaspheme or commit heresy, finds himself (uncomfortably for him) in “one accord” with Jesus, and looking a bit the fool. So “seeking to justify himself”, he tries to trip Jesus up in a legal loophole of theological niceties and definitions! “Who is my neighbor?” (Lol, we never see anyone doing THAT these days, do we?) Anyway, Jesus starts His story off with everyone pointing their gaze and fingers at this unconscious guy in the road… (all’s well so far)… but then, at the end, it turns out that the critical question… who is the “neighbor”… has nothing to DO with the beat-up guy, but everything to do with how people TREATED him. BAM! (to borrow from Paulfg here a moment)... KAPOW! How did this happen? Lawyer loses again! And he doesn’t even see where the “twist” happened… it was all going so well! (Almost makes you feel sorry for theologians, doesn’t it?)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So what’s the deal with the Luke passage cited in the start of this? The disciples ask a straight up question… or, rather, they actually make a demand of Jesus. OK, correction… I was fooled by the exclamation point. *sigh* Again, like in the Lord’s Prayer with all those apparent “demands, or petitions”, this word “increase” here… “Increase our faith”… is in that same Greek form that covers so many things. So, it is both affirmation and prayer at the same time. It’s been happening, is happening, and will happen… they’re just expressing the desire, the thought, to Jesus.

Also, the word chosen is itself interesting. It’s not just “increase”, in the sense of “please add more beans to my jar”, or “fill this cup more full”. It’s the word “prosthetai” (no big Greek lesson here, promise)… but like our word “prosthetic” for artificial limbs… it carries a flavor more of “promote”, “reinforce”, “amplify”, “move forward”. It sort of savors of “direction” forward and progress, not simply “quantitative gain”. (OK, thus endeth the Greek stuff for today).

Now, look over the Luke 17 passage a moment, and notice that my Bible, probably like yours, separates verse 6 from verse 7 as different paragraphs. Jesus didn’t do this, nor did the Biblical writers. That’s “post-production editing”. But I’ve always READ this teaching with that “space” in it. And today, tonight, thanks to Paulfg and his work on “Angels seem to join in. Wow!”, I have seen this passage in an entirely new way, WITHOUT the skipped line.

Right up until the last verse of this passage, the whole story makes perfect sense as if Jesus speaks of mountains and sycamores as mere “servants”. It’s like He’s addressing the amazement of the crowds at all the “signs and wonders”, telling the Disciples, “When I do these things, I simply exercise My authority over them. Faith, for you, is the exercise of your authority in Me. You don’t ‘thank’ those who follow their orders, that is simply what they do.” And this “construction” of the passage seems to hold up perfectly well, right until we get to “and you, when you do all you are commanded…” Then suddenly that whole interpretation goes out of our heads, and we’re left with the “Whiner’s Warning”, of my youth. That this “slavery” relationship is the one we hold towards Christ, and we should never expect His thanks simply for being disciples.

That last verse seems to put the “Mobius Twist” in this passage, and it has thrown me for years! And I was wrong!

O my… so many mistakes of mine all in one place. Tonight, it seems like they all sorted themselves out. First of all, when as a child (physical or spiritual) I whined to the Lord about being “underappreciated”, He would bring me to this passage with a rather curt, “Get over it!” If you have experienced something like that… fine. This passage, once pondered, did INDEED help me “get over it”, and as I embraced my role as “doulos”, “servant”, “bond-slave”, I did indeed stop feeling bad and resentful when people treated me with less “respect” than I felt I deserved. (It takes very little effort for the Enemy to prick my pride, and send me spinning off into an ego-driven pity party. The Lord is more than welcome to “pop this bubble of foolishness” in whatever way He chooses, and sometimes that is quite direct.)

But tonight, I remembered that Scripture is made up of beautiful perfect gems, and read in more than one direction. The fact that we, as disciples, may not need “thanks”, doesn’t invalidate the rest of the passage regarding mountains and sycamores. It brought to mind another passage…

And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” Jesus *said to him, “I will come and heal him.”But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 10 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. 11 I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”13 And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment. [Matthew 8]

And somehow, suddenly, it all fell into place for me. I can’t really explain it well… (I think my brain’s “explain muscles” must be sprained or something), but I totally GET IT! And I thank Paulfg for this…

It’s just ALL ONE THING!

Sycamores, mountains, us, disciples, the Centurion’s troops, the master’s servant… ALL ONE THING! Even Jesus HIMSELF! (cf. Philippians 2), Jesus who “humbled Himself becoming a servant”, who “became obedient even to the point of death, death on a cross.” ALL ONE THING!

Love, life, alive-ness, trust, faith, authority, power, miracle, obedience, humility, servanthood… ALL ONE THING!

Grace to thee!


Posted by on February 11, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized


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