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LSS had their annual breakfast at LIFEhouse this year. It was a great event and the highlight for us was…LSS named Beth Yaros their volunteer of the year! Beth does just about anything around the LSS site, volunteering four days a week! Just as she serves in her other ministries, Beth shines at LSS…

Glory to God for all he does through our sister, Beth!

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John 4

So when Jesus knew that the Pharisees had heard that he was making more disciples than John, and was baptizing them (Jesus himself didn’t baptize people; it was his disciples who were doing it), he left Judaea and went back to Galilee.

There is no place for jealousy or competition in the Christian family. Jesus looks at the churches of a city as one church as we can see if we consider the churches spoken of in the Book of Revelation, for instance. In other words, there isn’t LIFEhouse as an individual group of Christians and then other Lutheran churches and then Roman Catholic and Baptist churches and such. There is one church locally. The church of  Jesus in Los Angeles, as it were.

Currently, we see the Pharisees, the Jewish religious authorities, are bringing trouble to Jesus and John the Baptist. The way they are carrying out their ministry isn’t proper to them. Jesus leaves Judea to avoid the problems the Pharisees could bring to him. This is an example of Jesus doing what he said to his mother at the wedding at Cana.

“It’s not my time, yet.”

Jesus will set his own agenda and not let the Pharisees force his hand. Something else interesting is recorded here. Remember the Gospel of John is an eyewitness account of one of Jesus’ closet followers. He will make editorial comments in his gospel so the non-Jewish readers will understand what is going on, and also to highlight greater detail in what he is writing. In our English translation of the Bible when we see these editorial words of John they are placed in parentheses.

(Jesus himself didn’t baptize people; it was his disciples who were doing it)

So, what is wrong with baptism that Jesus isn’t doing it? It is not about the act of baptism somehow being beneath Jesus, it is more about the disciples learning by doing. Jesus is teaching his disciples to do the things he does.

I would say he is also making sure everyone understands it is God doing the baptizing through the person, not the prestige of the person doing the baptism. You can see people later saying, “I was baptized by Jesus himself,” as a badge of honor or something. Jesus would have none of that.

ME

When infants are baptized, God is baptizing them. When adults are baptized, God is baptizing them.

Why are we wired by God to spend one third of our lives essentially doing nothing?

How can one simple key enhance spiritual formation, combat childhood obesity, improve children’s school performance, combat neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, along with decreasing clinical depression in teens and adults?

One thing??

What is it?

Healthy sleep…
The importance of sleep from a spiritual, physical, and emotional health perspective. The latest brain research is bringing new insight into sleep research and we are discovering good sleep may be the missing key ingredient to the overall health of people today. Using the latest brain and sleep research, with special insight from “The Good and Beautiful God,” James Bryant Smith, and “Nurture Shock,” Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, I speak on the benefits of sleep for adults and children.

John 3.30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

That’s it. Our job in life as Christians is to continue to be an influence of those who come after us. Jesus calls it “making disciples.” Being a positive role model of joy and forgiveness. Investing our time and resources in the generations that follow. As we invest in the lives of those who will come after us, we continue to expand God’s good in the world around us.

Looking back over the years, someone invested in you and left a legacy for you that you don’t even know. These are those who were used by God to bless your Christian community. The greatest legacy we can leave now is to grow in your own faith that you might be a blessing on those who come under your influence and investment. Who knows, 100 years from now, people may not know your name, but they will know someone loved them enough to be open to God to give the blessing of having invested in someone else who influenced someone else, who blesses them that day. To God be the glory.

ME

Who are you investing in from the younger generations today?

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“How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things?  

To know something, to Jesus, means to experience him. It is not head knowledge alone, it is the very presence of God. For a senior leader of the Jewish people this is a humbling thing to realize. To understand the things of God you need to understand and see the things of Jesus. You can’t experience the Spirit if you already have preconceived notions about God.

When I think God has to work in certain ways in order for him to make sense to me this simply means I bring my bias’s with me and then look for ways God will confirm what I already believe. Or in the case of an atheist, I ignore ways I see the supernatural at work in order to disbelieve.

This is where so many people miss the good news of what Jesus offers. They either look for reasons not to believe or they take what they believe and try to fit God into their preconceived notions. Neither way is good news.

ME

What is an example of humans attributing a teaching to God that is really about their own desire?

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“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.

Up until this time for the Jewish people, it is human birth that is enough to be in God’s special family. They are children of Abraham, born to a Jewish mother. Now, Jesus is saying that is not enough. There is a second birth that needs to take place. Being born of water and the Spirit. What does this mean?

This is a clear picture of combining the water baptism that John the Baptist is using as a sign of forgiveness of sin and entering God’s Kingdom, with a new Spirit baptism which is the new life of God flowing out of you. This is the second birth. Without the second birth, you can’t even see God’s Kingdom at work, let alone get into it. And his Kingdom is open to everyone.

ME

What are human labels that people use to categorize themselves?

Jerusalem Temple

 

It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem.  

Passover is the number one festival of the year for Jesus and the Jewish people. Anyone who could afford it would travel to Jerusalem and celebrate there. Why Jerusalem? This is where the Temple is located. The Temple is the center of worship and music, politics and government, the center of the nation’s economy, the center of the nation’s animals, the center of everything.

We have no modern equivalent. It would be like the Temple would be all of our national symbols wrapped up into one. The White House, Capital Building and Supreme Court, throw in Wall Street and Nashville and Hollywood, mix in animals from all the ranches and farms around the nation, and  put them all together with the nation’s largest cathedrals and churches, and we still wouldn’t compare. Why? The Temple is where God promised to live in the midst of his people. The Temple represents the nation. The intersection between where God dwells, heaven, and where his people dwell, earth. The Temple is everything to the Jewish people.

But, the prophet’s of the Old Testament warned this absolute “Temple is the center of everything” could be a problem. If you aren’t following God.

For instance, listen to Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 7

“Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, and then come here and stand before me in my Temple

and chant,“We are safe!”—only to go right back to all those evils again? Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there.

I, the LORD, have spoken!”

Oh, Oh…

Temple steps from court

Temple steps from court

 

In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. 

It’s Passover. The greatest celebration of the greatest event in the life of God’s people. God frees his people from slavery and brings them to the Promise Land. They remember this every year as if it is happening all over again. The highlight is to sacrifice sheep like they sacrifice at the original Passover where the blood of the sheep on the door frame is a sign that  God’s people live here and the angel of death passes over this house.

Now, the Passover is big business. Estimates are that as many as 250,000 sheep are sacrificed at Passover in Jerusalem. But, you didn’t bring your own sheep. It is too difficult to travel and sheep could be stolen or attacked by wild animals along the way. Or the sheep could get feisty. Like this.

So, sheep are sold at the Temple for the sacrifice. You can’t use Roman money, however. It is considered unclean so you have to exchange for Temple money. For a fee, of course. If you are poor you could also borrow money to purchase doves which were cheaper. Still as much as 40 day’s wages!

This looks like Jeremiah’s prophecy coming true.

Jesus has seen enough.

 

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Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. 

Here we are told Jesus made a whip from rope. In the Bible language the word is, pfragellion. This would be a whip that had stones and bone tied in it to make it extra nasty. Same root word like a “frag” grenade. Let’s just say Jesus is up for the task. Here is an example you can buy on eBay. Don’t know who wants this, but…

So, Jesus chases the bankers and all the animals out of the Temple court. Like flipping over a craps table in Vegas, that would be a bit confusing. Whose money is whose? Basically Jesus just stopped the whole Temple sacrifice system, for a short time. A disaster. And a message.

What is Jesus getting at? Well, it appears the Temple is no longer the intersection between heaven and earth.

Slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero is pictured in an undated file photo. Oscar Arnulfo Romero was born in Ciudad Barrios, El Salvador, in 1917. He was assassinated March 24, 1980, while celebrating Mass in the chapel of San Salvador's Hospital of Divine Providence. He was a vigorous defender of the powerless and the poor and a critic of unjust military and government actions during a time of civil unrest in his country. (CNS file photo) (March 7, 2003)

Slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero

 

Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” 

Jesus goes right to core. This sacrifice system is corrupt. It is not about remembering God saves his people. It is the whole Temple and the people who keep the system going and all it represents,  using the Temple, not as a sign of freedom and not as the place of God’s presence, but instead a place of burden and hardship.

 

Now, it’s too easy to simply say well isn’t that what is happening today? Not as much religion, but politics. Washington and the politicians are taking away our freedom. Or politicians are bringing burden and hardship onto the poor. We hear words and phrases being thrown around like “social justice”, as opposed to what, just plain justice? Islamophobia, homophobia. Gender this and gender that. “Hate” seems to be what binds people together.

It’s time to stop and listen. Those on the left, on the right, at the center….Listen. I like the way

Archbishop Oscar Romero said it years ago.

How  easy it is to denounce structural injustice, institutionalized violence, social sin. And it is true, this sin  is everywhere, but where are the roots of this social sin? In the heart of every human being. Present-day society is a sort of anonymous world in which no one is willing to admit guilt and everyone is responsible.

Because of this, salvation begins with the human person, with human dignity, with saving every person from sin.. Individually there are among us here no two sinners alike. Each one has committed his or her own shameful deeds, and yet we want to cast our guilt on the other and hide our own sin. I must take off my mask; I, too, am one of them, and I need to beg God’s pardon because I have offended God and society. This is the call of Christ.

There is no one who is pure and without sin. Remember Jesus’ words to a crowd screaming for social justice?
“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

We don’t need an overhaul of the Temple and the ways of the world. We need forgiveness. We need Jesus.

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But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” 

“All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

“What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.

Yes, it’s true. Jesus did it. Jesus did the reality that the Temple is only pointing to. He died and raised from the dead and he is the Temple who forgives all sin for all time. He is the intersection between heaven and earth. And we are too. You and I are the Temple. We are the intersection between heaven and earth as we follow his way.

Jesus is not about hatred. What I see and read today is a lot of hatred by those who think others are haters. Hating haters is hatred. No one is innocent and pure in all of this. This is why seeking the good of other people becomes the way we are a living sacrifice for the living God. As Christians we live in the real world which is God’s world, after all. We have access to the powers of heaven available to us now to be a people of gracious kindness. In this day and age, that is indeed revolutionary.

What is world needs right now more than anything else is you. The living Temple of Jesus.