Tag Archives: Luke

Recognition

Christianity isn’t a religion we join- it’s a person we follow. ~Samuel Deuth

A friend was clearing out her mother’s house. In a box of memories she found her mother’s nursing school pictures from 1941. She posted them on Facebook, and they were correctly tagged through facial recognition.

Wouldn’t we all love to look the same seventy or eighty years later?

Sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder who that is looking back at me. On the inside, I’m in my early twenties, full of life and hope, excited for the future.

On the outside I’m graying, less toned, and more wrinkled. But I’m also not twenty.

Jesus had been gone for three days, and no one recognized him.

Granted he’d been whipped, beaten, and crucified. He wasn’t looking his best.

But, really? No one recognized him?

Mary Magdalene didn’t know Jesus until he called her by name.

The disciples in Emmaus only recognized him after he broke bread and gave thanks.

The apostles identified him when he came through a locked door.

These were people who spent most of their time with Jesus. They traveled with him, ate with him, prayed, sang, and baptized with him. They acted like him, healing and raising people from the dead. They were known as his followers.

But there came a time when they turned- out of fear, disillusionment, frustration. It doesn’t matter why they turned away, but that they turned back.

They took a second look. They believed the unbelievable. They recognized Jesus.

Are you in a dark place? Does Jesus seem like a farce? Has your faith waned and wandered away?

Don’t give up.

Listen for your name. Let him break the bread. Expect a miracle.


They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. Luke 24:33-35 NIV

Doing the Hard Thing

Sometimes it is better to lose and do the right thing than to win and do the wrong thing. ~Tony Blair

When my older son was about twelve years old, he took a stand.

While visiting his grandparents one summer, he attended Bible class at their church. The Sunday school teacher was going to show a clip from The Matrix. I know the woman and I feel confident that she had a good lesson and reason to show it. But . . . we had a rule in our house that our children couldn’t watch rated PG-13 movies until they were 15. And The Matrix is rated R.

“I have to leave.” Jonathan stood to go.

“Why? What’s wrong?” The teacher was confused.

The conversation that followed was my son explaining the rule and that he had to obey it. The teacher said she was sure it would be fine for this little clip, but he didn’t give in.

He left the class.

Joseph was wealthy. A new up-and-coming politician in the inner circle. He had real estate, a position, and clout.

And an unpopular opinion.

He believed in doing what was right, even when no one else did.

50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. Luke 23:50-51 NIV

It’s hard to take a stand for what’s right when others around you are doing whatever they want.

But it’s even harder to stand up when those who are supposed to stand with you, don’t.

An accountant who won’t agree to fudge a little with the rest of the office might find herself out of work.

A postal worker who won’t put letters aside so everyone can go home on time, could bear the brunt of some bullying.

A teacher who refuses to talk about students might be eating alone the rest of the year.

But doing what is right is always the right thing to do.


God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. Romans 2:6-8 NIV

After Dark

The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach. ~Pliny the Elder

I have an older brother who basically ruined my teen years. He was a little on the wild side, so his shenanigans put a kibosh on my fun. I asked to have my curfew extended, but my dad said -you guessed it-

“Nothing good ever happens after dark.”

Truer words were never spoken on that fateful night in Jerusalem outside the Mount of Olives.

It was evening. Dinner was over. Jesus and his friends went to the garden to sing and pray.

Instead of a mountaintop worship experience, Jesus was met by a band of protesters, haters, and killers. His quiet night of fellowship with friends became loud with accusations and demands. Betrayed by one of his own inner-circle, Judas’s kiss sealed Jesus’s fate with an inky darkness.

But the tragic night became pitch-black for Peter.

He had started by wielding a sword in defense of his friend and ended in complete denial of his Lord and Savior.

Twilight to nightfall to darkness and gloom.

Have you been there?

You’re all about Jesus and his mercy, then you enter the doctor’s office and come out a total wreck.

Or you’re singing his praises while washing the dishes. Then you get the call that your teen was at a party with drugs and everyone is downtown.

You’re serving at the homeless shelter when your neighbor calls. Your spouse had a massive heart attack and was found dead in the driveway.

You were ready to brandish your sword, but now you just might fall on it.

This is not the time for decision-making.

This is the time to wait.

Judas made a fateful, final decision and lost the opportunity to see the brilliance of Resurrection Morning. Peter cried his heart out and beat himself up.

But he didn’t make a decision. He waited.

And he was there when Jesus assured him three times that he loved Peter no matter how dark the night.


In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this. Luke 22:20-23 NIV

Commitment

The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed. ~Martina Navratilova

I teach English to Chinese students online. That means I have to work on their time. Beijing Time is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Time, and when the time changes in a few months, it will be 13 hours different. I rise very early in the morning in order to teach my favorite students about my favorite thing: words.

One of my students is moving to western Canada. He will be 3 hours behind me. That poor boy is going to have class at 5:00 in the MORNING once the time changes! He is committed to learning the language and speaking it well.

Some people are committed to healthy living. They rise early to run or go to the gym. They eat low-carb, even on Thanksgiving, and they never drink soda.

Others are committed to their work. They email from their phone on vacation, stay late at the office, and make notes about a meeting when they wake in the middle of the night.

Some people are committed to family. They attend children’s concerts and competitions, have a family dinner once a week, and spend vacations together.

What makes you draw your every breath?

Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple. Luke 21:37-38 NIV

When you’re committed to something, you do what it takes to be there. Jesus was teaching in the temple, but people had to be at work. They had houses and children to care for. They had gardens to tend and animals to feed. But they knew they were hearing a good thing, and they wanted more of it. So Jesus met them early in the morning before all of that began.

It’s no different now. I have work. I have a house and kids. I have responsibilities that require my time and attention.

But I also know when I am hearing a good thing, when I need to hear a good thing.

And I make a commitment to be there.

My commitment isn’t early in the morning. Jesus and I meet at lunchtime, after my early morning work is completed and I can sit with him and have a pleasant conversation.

Everyone’s schedule is different. Early morning may be the best for you. Perhaps you need to meet Jesus at twilight after the children are snuggled in their beds.

It isn’t the timing that is important.

It’s the time.


Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:20 NIV

No More Excuses

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else. ~Benjamin Franklin

He made excuses as long as I knew him. A Vietnam Vet, he battled demons all his adult life. Alcohol abuse, domestic violence, shame, grief,  and sorrow became his best friends. He knew there was something better, but better was harder and he just didn’t have any fight left.

He read the Bible, knew the right answers, but couldn’t bring himself to believe that they were the answers for him. He was beyond salvation.

Do you know someone like my friend?

“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Luke 14:18 NIV

They give their life to business. They need to work. There are bills to pay, appearances to keep up. The kids need braces, dance classes, college. The car needs maintaining, the house repainting, and the face uplifting. They never see the kids’ teeth, enjoy the car ride, or rest in the house.

The claims of business usurp the claims of God on their life.

“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Luke 14:19 NIV

They need the latest technology, the best clothes, the flashiest trips. They’re always on the run, waving their hellos and goodbyes at the same time. Their life is lived in Instagram pixels and Snap Chat comebacks.

They are consumed by the novelty of their new possessions, and God gets crowded out.

“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ Luke 14:20 NIV

They meet for family dinners every week, only vacation with relatives, and cousin camp is a summer must. Their friends’ list has two surnames. Their contacts list reads like a lineage from western European royalty. And their street culminates in a family cul-de-sac.

Their earthly family takes precedence and God the Father becomes another ancestor hanging on the wall.

“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’” Luke 14:23-24 NIV

My friend was invited to the feast, but in the end he thought the grace period had run out. He never accepted, never tasted, never enjoyed.

Don’t make excuses.

It’s time to accept.


“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4 NIV

Jealousy and Pride

It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels. ~Saint Augustine

This hurts to admit. I was not inducted into the National Honor Society until I was a senior in high school.

No, that’s not what hurts.

What pains me to admit is that when asked if I expected the secret induction, I answered, “Truthfully, I was surprised that I didn’t get in last year.”

Wow. Real humility, huh?

I always did well in school- academically and socially. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t inducted into the NHS as a junior with so many of my friends and peers. I had the grades. I had the extra-curricular achievements. What didn’t I have?

Have you ever been there?

You have the experience, but you were passed over for the promotion.  The younger girl with the longer legs got the job.

You filled out all the forms, but didn’t get the grant. It was awarded to the homeless shelter’s social worker. Again.

You always bake the best ham and loveliest lemon meringue pie for Easter. Your mother-in-law chose to join the other widows from church for lunch instead.

Could it be that we fail to see our own flaws, our own short-comings, our own pride?

In Luke 5, the Pharisees and teachers of the law are following Jesus around. They like what they see and usually what they hear. This is a guy who knows his religion. He has Scripture memorized and can throw down miracles like matzah.

But instead of partying with the Pharisees, Jesus chooses the tax collectors. Instead of inviting disciplined disciples, he asks kiss-ups and frauds like Levi to follow him.

Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:29-32 NIV

Jesus invites everyone to follow him.

But only those who realize they aren’t worthy truly find him.


Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  Philippians 2:3-4 NIV

The Christ, Part 4

As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Luke 1:44 NIV

You won’t be in a group of women for very long before the baby stories begin. It’s what unites so many women. It’s what perpetuates mankind.

Stories of cars that don’t make it to the hospital, babies born in elevators, and “Surprise! It’s twins!” Stories of hurricane power outages, friends delivering the precious package, and fainting fathers.

But not every woman has those stories.

Some women are childless. Some women lose their children. Some stories are sad, painful, heartbreaking.

When you hear “The Christmas Story,” you are listening to Luke’s gospel. Did you ever wonder why Luke has more detail around the birth of Jesus than any of the other gospels?

Mary.

That’s right. Mary.

As much as he could, Luke went to the sources for his stories. One of his main sources was Mary, the mother of Jesus.

And what do mothers love to tell?

Birthday stories. Exciting things about their kids. What people said about their child. Predictions about their special one. And that time he got lost and she was so nervous and upset, but he was riding the escalator oblivious to all the panic . . .

But Luke tells other stories, too.

Stories of childless women, crippled women, poor women. He tells about foreigners healed by Jesus, rich men who don’t make it to heaven, and poor men who are welcomed by the king. He tells about common folk called to be the companions of Christ.

Luke wants to let everyone know that this Light from Heaven, this Suffering Servant, this King of Kings, is the Savior of All.

You don’t have to have the perfect story. You don’t have to have the perfect kids, the perfect home, the perfect job.

In fact, you don’t have to be perfect.

Because he was perfect for you.


While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple,praising God. Luke 24:51-53 NIV