Wednesday, February 22, 2012


     At the end of Luke 18 and the beginning of Luke 19 we see Jesus walking through Jericho. On his way into the city, he heals a poor blind beggar. On his way out of the city he heals and transforms the big time rich sinner, Zacchaeus. One man was at the bottom of the socio-economic scale; the other was at the top. One was a victim of blindness; the other was a political and economic victimizer. Jesus cared the same for both of them and healed each according to their need.

     When Jesus and his entourage entered Jericho, crowds were on hand to greet him. His wonder-working fame had preceeded him. Above the crowd noise, a man could be heard yelling,

 "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

     The crowd told him to shut up, but he yelled all the louder. Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. He then asked the blind beggar,

"What do you want me to do for you?"

     It might seem obvious what the man wanted since he was blind and Jesus was famous for healing. But Jesus' question, like all his questions, was serious and he wanted the man to respond with specifics. After all, he was a beggar too. Maybe he wanted a charitable gift. Jesus said, in effect, I am asking a serious question and I want you to give me a straight answer. So the blind beggar answers,

"Lord, I want to see."

     Then and only then Jesus restores his sight.

The lesson?

     When we pray, we are often too general and vague. Bless me and bless so and so, etc. This story encourages us to ask Jesus specifically for what we want, then believe and expect a specific response according to what we asked for. See: Luke 11:24.

     Jesus and his crew continue to walking through and out of Jericho. He spots Zacchaeus, the despised tax collector, up in a tree looking down at him. Jesus yells,

 "Zacchaeus! Come down right now. I must stay at your house today."

     When the people saw this, they began to mutter about Jesus going to be the guest of a sinner. Zach was a loathed collaborator with the Roman occupiers. He not only collected Roman taxes, but by his own admission, he also extorted and defrauded and grew rich on the backs of his religious community.

     At some point during dinner, Zach is healed and transformed. He blurts out,

"Lord! I give half of what I have to the poor and will give back four times what I have extorted."

     Coming into Jericho, Jesus heals a poor victim. Going out of Jericho, he heals a rich victimizer. Here is the sweep of the grace of God that comes to us in Jesus. Zach is the worst man in town. Everyone who heard Jesus say,

"I MUST stay with you today," 

knows that our relative morality or religious performance is irrelevant to him.

He loves all and wants to be gracious to all.

     Knowing this we can, with confidence, do what the blind beggar did.
     Ask Jesus for what you want and expect something good to result.


~ I am off to Thailand for a few weeks. Will post again when I return.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


     Fear is always unpleasant, but not always a bad thing. Fear may prevent us from strolling onto a busy freeway or making a bad investment or walking down the darkened street in a dangerous neighborhood. All to the good.

     But roughly 90% of our fear is totally unreal, pointless, and a waste of emotional energy. I didn't make up that 90% statistic. Numerous research studies have shown that somewhere between 85% - 95% of what people fear never happens or they fear something they can do nothing about ... like death or taxes.

     Since God is always looking out for us, always nudging towards abundant life, he tells us hundreds of times in the Bible to 
"be not afraid" 
"fear not"
"be of good cheer."

From even a cursory reading of the gospels, we see that our salvation, our connection to the goodness and power of God eliminates fear.

Good News!

     When our faith in the goodness and power of God fills our imaginations, fear disappears. When we fear, it simply means our focus has shifted away from faith.

     When our imagination becomes undisciplined and we fall into fear, we are focused on something that is unreal. Unreal, yes, but powerful, none-the-less. Fear has the power to kill and often does.

      A number of soldiers in WWI who thought they had been mortally wounded in a battle died. When their dead bodies were examined, no wound was found. I have spoken to people in Africa who saw people drop dead when they heard a witch doctor had cursed them. In South East Asia, people have died when they heard that an epidemic was coming their way. Long before the contagion reached them, they died of the symptoms associated with the disease.

     Fear of some unreal danger can kill quickly, but more often it kills slowly. Fear is the anticipation of something bad happening. Or as John put it,

"Fear has to do with punishment." 
1 John 4:18

     Fear kills creativity, risk taking, and intimate connection with others. It gradually kills everything that gives life its texture, joy, and meaning. Fear is the root of most of the evil in the world.

     The mythical but effective power of fear is not lost on religion. The priesthood in the Middle Ages used the fear of hell to whip gullible multitudes into churches and was the means of extorting money from them. Ignorance of the goodness and power of God tempts some religious leaders to take advantage of it even today.

     Since fear is so prevelant, some conclude that it must be natural. But nothing natural destroys faith in God. Nothing natural kills creativity, strangles self-confidence, destroys happiness, and makes abundant life impossible.

     Fear is based upon the illusion that we are separated from the 
provision, goodness, and power 
of our loving Father.

     Here is fear killing truth from Jesus himself:

"I am in my Father, you are in me and I am in you."
John 14:20
"As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you." 
John 15:9
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you ... Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
John 14:27

Thursday, February 2, 2012


     Last time I pointed to several instances where Jesus says the Father judges no one and neither does the Son. I then said since the only one capable of judging rightly does not judge us, we are now free to forego judging ourselves or others.

     This is very good news. Think about it. When we renounce judging, life becomes so much easier and lighter. Jesus says, 

"My yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:30

     We are not happy when we are judging. Judging is heavy, tiresome, and painful. It is pure drudgery. The abundant life Jesus promises becomes more abundant in our experience when we renounce our judgments.

     We cannot, however, stop others from judging us. They will. But we do not have to be significantly affected by their judgments. Paul knew this. This is how he responded to his critics in Corinth. 

"I care very little if I am judged by you or any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself." 
1 Corinthians 4:5

     In the past, I have been judged negatively for what some call my "over emphasis on God's grace." One of my critics is a very senior Christian theologian. Most of you have his books in your library. He wrote in a magazine article, "Dr. Blue is an able expositor but his over emphasis on grace is dangerous to your spiritual health." Paraphrasing Paul, in 1 Corithians 4:5, I responded with, 

I have a low opinion of your opinion of me. 
 I have a low opinion of my opinion of me. 
God alone will assess you and me in the end.

     If we are secure in our identity as the much loved children of the non judgmental Father, we can learn from our critics, yet not be disheartened by them. 

     Unfortunately for my team, Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game of football. If someone told him he sucked as a quarterback, it would be water off a duck's back. He is secure in his football identity and for good reason. However, if someone told a 14 year old Q.B. that he sucked, that judgment could be devestating. The point is obvious. When we are secure in our identity, the criticism and judgment of others is of little effect.

     Our identity is, in fact, secure. 
We are OK because Jesus made us OK. 
We cannot be more secure. 
We can only awaken to that truth and speak and act as if it is true.