I interrupt my run through the Gospel of Luke to bring you an old-fashioned bullet-point run through all the things that are working their way through my brain this morning. My observations on chapter 17 will be at the end if you feel like skipping all the other random nonsense:
- I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the reading and reflection on the Gospel of Luke. For the last couple of years my Bible reading has probably been more volume and less engagement, so I’m happy with the ability to spend a little more time in reflection on what I’ve read than I’ve been accustomed to the last couple of years.
- I’m also finding that there is a lot of what Jesus said that I either don’t understand, or do understand and would rather pretend that I don’t. It’s easier that way. You would think after many years of following Jesus I would feel more comfortable with his words, but I wonder if the older I get the less comfortable I feel. It’s not that I’m less comfortable with believing that Jesus is who he said he was – that feels very settled in my soul – but that I’m less comfortable with believing that I’ve fully understood him.
- Yesterday I got a check in the mail for about $24 – proceeds from the short story I wrote two Christmases ago called “Saving Grace”. I had almost forgotten about it, and had never actually gotten a check for it until now. I think I had made some selection that they would send a check when the amount was over $20 or something like that. It was pretty cool to get that in the mail, actually. It probably means I’ve sold a couple of copies, and some of them might even NOT have been to my mother.
- My wife is traveling for work this week – she leaves tomorrow morning – and I am reminded of how perfectly God has fit us together, and how he worked to bring us to this point. Last week I drove past the Bible College campus where we met. The school has moved and changed names since we were there 20+ years ago. The little florist shop where I used to buy her flowers has been torn down. The campus looks to be in disrepair. But I can still remember the day I walked past Rita, standing outside the dining hall smiling that big smile. We’ve been friends for over 20 years now – I’ve been with her for half my life, and I love her more today than I ever have.
- Jason’s message this past Sunday was really convicting for me. As he talked about remaining in Jesus and staying connected to him in order to grow I had this image of cut flowers. They’re beautiful for a short period of time, but because they are disconnected from the source of their vitality and beauty, they can only last for a little while before they wither and die. If we want to genuinely be beautiful as followers of Jesus for a long period of time, the only way is to stay rooted and connected in him.
- I was sick pretty much all of last week, so I skipped the gym all week long. I went back yesterday for some heavy squats, which are my jam. Today my legs feel like jelly. But I love it.
- The CrossFit Open season is upon us, which means that for the next 5 weeks I will be obsessively checking social media accounts and reading blog posts about what the workouts will be, and once they’re announced I’ll be reading about strategies for top performance. All of this so I can rank 53,347th in the world. I will also spend time sporting some ridiculous costume at the gym in order to win some points for our team, and I might even write a song. I will do things outside of my comfort zone. And I will do things that I didn’t think I would accomplish. I can’t wait.
- Pablo Sandoval should do some CrossFit with me.
- I think the Red Sox have too many question marks, and unfortunately despite the addition of David Price and Craig Kimbrel they will still finish outside the playoff hunt this year.
- I don’t post too much political stuff, but I have to say that the Evangelical Christians who are in love with Donald Trump confuse me. Many of these are probably the same people who were killing Bill Clinton in the 90’s for being a serial adulterer and unworthy of the White House. Every 4 years I tell myself not to get cynical and skeptical about the political process, but I will admit, it seems like it gets harder and harder to avoid it.
Alright…on to Luke 17:
What I read: Luke 17
Observations: Once again Jesus uses a Samaritan to make a point about the attitude God is looking for from us. In chapter 10 it was the parable of the Samaritan who showed mercy to his neighbor in need. This time it’s in the story of the 10 lepers who are all cleansed, but only one of whom returns to give thanks to Jesus for his healing. Luke obviously saw this point as significant enough to mention the man’s cultural background.
Application: How often have I been like one of the 9 men who was healed who couldn’t be bothered to turn around and say a simple thank you? Not only to Jesus for all that he has done for me – that seems clear enough. I’m not sure I could ever say thank you often enough to him for the salvation he has offered to me, for the renewed life he has given me, and for the tremendous joy he has brought to me in all of the ways he has shown his grace to me throughout my life. But what about the other people in my life I don’t thank regularly enough? My mom came to visit me this weekend – as the parent of three teenagers (well two full, and one almost) I feel like I should call her every day and say thank you for loving me when I was 13. What about my wife who does more for me than I could ever give her credit for and usually does it without a word of complaint? What about my children who still love me when I can be short-tempered and overly critical of them at times? And my friends? And the people at New Life who still let me be their pastor?
Prayer: Jesus, my prayer today is that you would work gratitude into my heart more deeply. I want to be more grateful to you for loving me like you do, for giving your life for mine, and for bringing me to life and an abundantly joyful life as you have. But I also pray that you will help me be more grateful to those people in my life who have shown me evidence of your grace even when they didn’t know they were doing it. I pray that you would deepen my sense of wonder in even the human relationships I’ve found here that are a reflection of your love for me. I can’t thank you enough, and I can’t thank them enough.