Posts Tagged ‘parables’

Living As If Jesus Meant What He Said

October 11, 2016

You guys must be “Red-Letter” Christians. You live as if Jesus meant what he said.

Jim Wallis from the Sojourners Fellowship was on a book tour when he was interviewed by a DJ on the radio in Nashville. The DJ made the exclamation.

The term comes from the old Bibles where all the words of Jesus are printed in red letters.

I’ve no doubt heard the term before. Searching for a couple of Tony Campolo books to read on Amazon, I came across a couple of books with that phrase in the title. I love reading Tony, so I bought them for my Kindle app.

This phrase popped out partly because a few months ago I decided my two or three year depth study of Paul needed a break. I know, I thought, I’ll just go back to the gospels and study not the stories but just the words that Jesus said. That’ll be interesting.

It’s not that the healings were not important. It’s not that the core is not Jesus’ death and resurrection. My curiosity was aroused by what Jesus taught. After all, Jesus really wanted us to change how we live.

That’s why yesterday’s thoughts were important. Jesus said “Listen”, or “Pay attention”. It’s like when Andy Stanley, Sr. Pastor at Northpoint Ministries in the Atlanta area, gets really serious about a point he’s about to make and says, “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, listen to this.” We Americans need the speaker to repeat for emphasis, I guess. But I digress.

So I am in Mark. Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that grows into a large shrub.

Listen all of you Christians who think we should capture the government and force people by the power of law to do what we say.

Do not look for the kingdom of heaven among the mighty and powerful. In Jesus’ day, do not look either at Rome or at the Jewish Temple leaders and Pharisees–both groups who put confidence in power relationships.

No, the kingdom comes not as the “Cedars of Lebanon” the usual metaphor for power. Instead it starts small yet provides shelter and sustenance. Don’t look for Jesus among the rich and famous; he’ll be found among the poor and sinful and ordinary people.

Those red-letter sentences–they make you stop and think.

Pay Attention-I Guess Jesus Said Something Important

October 10, 2016

He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen!” And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen.”  Mark 4:2, 9

Thus Jesus introduces and ends the parable of the sower–or rather the story of the different types of soil meaning the different types of people.

The trouble with listening is that so many people think they do it.

You can hear a lot just by listening.

When someone talks, listen. And listen completely.

These are some of the quotes I’ve compiled on listening. The people Jesus taught–they had to listen. There was no workbook. No DVD so that they could replay the story. I bet there were discussion groups.

Mark’s next story immediately following was about a lamp that is not meant to be hidden but that exposes everything. Then he says, “Pay attention to what you hear.”

The act does not end with hearing the words. It’s paying attention. Listening with your brain and your heart.

When you converse with someone, do you hear only words? Or do you hear the emotions and the meaning. Did you “hear” anxiousness? Joy?  Concern? Something that needs a response?  What was the whole message? Actually, can you even remember the words within 30 seconds of their birth?

And what about prayer? We are taught to pray with intention. But what good is intention if you don’t listen for God’s answer? Maybe you pray for God to bring someone into your life. You meet someone. You nod and pass by. Maybe that was the person God was bringing to you. He lobbed a softball at you and you whiffed.

“Pay attention.” Jesus told us something important either was just said or is about to be taught. Are we paying attention, or are we checking social media? Click, click, click…

Distraction Leads To Defeat

March 23, 2015

The basketball game is near its end. The score is close. Lose and go home. Win and play in the next round. The sound of a whistle penetrates the noise of the crowd. A foul is called. As the shooter stands at the line preparing for his free throws, the opposing crowd screams and waves towels or whatever trying to distract the shooter. Focus reigns in this moment. The shot is made. It’s “March Madness” in the US. 

He is driving on the freeway talking with animation to his friends in the car. He turns to see those to whom he’s talking.

She is also driving on the freeway. Struggling to pull on her hose. Then applying makeup.

We call that distracted driving. Many times a day it ends in disaster.

Meanwhile, my mind wandered to many things while reading my daily office this morning. Many thoughts competed for brain cycles while the “me” part of the brain was saying, “Let’s concentrate on our breath and God.”

I began to wonder. How many places in the Bible are stories about distraction?

There is the story about Mary and Martha. Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet soaking in every word he said. Martha was preparing a meal for their guests. She complained. Jesus said to her that she was distracted by many things but that Mary had chosen the best.

The story of the wedding feast in Matthew where the king invites his most important subjects to a wedding feast for his son. They are all distracted by their businesses and cares and don’t come. The king disowns them and invites many other people.

The ability to focus–especially in this age of information overload and electronic distractions–becomes the hallmark of the successful person.