Jesus at His Worst Was at His Best

We are over celebrating the Christ child and well into the new year. Now it is time to look for Jesus at His worst. It seems so easy to celebrate the birth of child who comes into the world naked to be wrapped in swaddling clothes. But to celebrate the death of a man stripped naked and nailed to a cross feels disgusting and unnatural. Why should we prepare to celebrate death, just a few months after celebrating birth?

The crucifixion is the purpose of Christ’s arrival. It is not wrong to celebrate His birth, but He did not come for that purpose. His miraculous birth was a setup for His marvelous death. It was the cross where He was hanged and demonstrated that at His worst, He was at His best. He proclaimed: “Father forgive them…”.

His words speak today to my own selfish and corrupt nature. I ignore His command to put others before myself, to turn the other cheek, to forebear, forgive and forget.

If Jesus could suffer for doing what is good, right, honorable and holy in His Father’s eyes, then what about me? He was betrayed and left alone by His disciples who had still not grasped His teachings. He was treated as a criminal for telling the truth, healing the sick, raising the dead and feeding the hungry. He did nothing that His Father saw as worthy of death, but here He hangs and He is at His worst.

He is hungry, tired, in pain and embarrassed to be displayed naked and bruised. In this moment of grief, when He is at His worst as depicted in the Bible, Jesus is at His very best. He demonstrates that best by saying: “Father forgive them”

I need to be at my best when I am at my worst. When I feel let down, misunderstood and not appreciated, that is the time I need the Holy Spirit to dwell in me to help me be at my best. I need to forebear, forgive and forget. I need to be at my best when I feel I am at my worst. The Holy Spirit can accomplish that, if I am willing to ask His intervention.

Luke 23:34-45 King James Version (KJV)
34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

Common Recipes of the Impoverished Or How to Prepare For Famine in Three Easy Steps

How do you prepare for famine if you have never even known hunger? Here is the trick. Try these easy three step recipes.

Before starting, prepare yourself by fasting for three days. Because you are unfamiliar with starvation, you must drink at least a cup of water daily while fasting. Body/mind preparation is essential for you to withstand the rigorous demands of food deprivation.

Now you are ready to begin. Don’t get nervous. It is as easy as 1,2,3 to achieve a fat free, low cholesterol, low salt, low carbohydrate, low nutrient, minimum caloric diet that is pathetically normal to people enduring famine.

I promised you three steps. Here they are; 1) Gather; 2) Prepare; 3) Eat.

Step 1) Gather; Climb up high in a banana tree and throw down some of the largest leaves. Save the younger, smaller, and tender leaves for tomorrow. Now walk to the nearest puddle of water or stream and fill a plastic bucket with water. A clean bucket without holes works better. Be very careful not to stir the water up too much or you will get mud and silt. Avoid any place where people may have deposited bodily waste. Now gather some dried grass or dung and place it on the charcoals that remain from yesterday’s fire.

Step 2) Prepare; Place your banana leaves and water in a pan (recycled from discarded oil drums) on your fire of charcoals and dung. Don’t be in a hurry for the dung to get warm. After all, this is not fast food. Bring to a boil or at least heat well.

Step 3) Eat; It’s just that simple. You are now dieting in the style that is a staple for millions of people every day.

I recently picked this recipe from a recent front page article of a leading newspaper, detailing the severe famine now gripping, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia in southern Africa. Well, to be true, I made up the recipe based upon the stark ingredients the writer described. He noted these essentials of the current diet of the people struggling to survive.
As an American physician with 20 years of experience working in Africa it is still hard for me to believe there is such famine somewhere in the world. As I clean my overcrowded refrigerator, discard cartons of egg-foo-yong, stale pizza and overripe strawberries I think, “how can people be hungry when I am so full?”

As I worry about my widening waistline I feel uncomfortable and guilty about my excesses in this land of plenty. I have trouble understanding famine when I haven’t even known hunger.

Let’s get back to the recipes. If you don’t find banana leaves, you can always try sawdust. Sawdust does not require any special sauces, or at least none were noted in the article, leading me to believe you can eat it raw by the handful.

Then there is always tree bark and roots. Season these with the natural silt that comes from the water. As you pound the roots, some of the sap exudes adding a pliable consistency to the roots making it easier to swallow. Taste is not a consideration when you are eating to live. After all remember, you are starving.

One of the best things about this modern day recipe is that it never spoils. You can eat it again and again, especially when it is the only food you have.

The alternative to this recipe is death. All over the continent weakening mothers hold emaciated children as they slip from soft weeping to silent coma and final stillness.

Are you ready to handle this recipe? Do you think you have the right stuff to survive this diet?

If not, you may be ready to do something to help those who alleviate this specter of starvation and death. You may be ready to call your congressmen, and President to speak about the priorities of our nation. Help our nation focus on saving life among the expanding endangered species list to include human beings around the world.

Today and, tonight you will gather, prepare and eat. Most likely, the steps you follow will be much simpler than those outlined for the common recipe I have described above that fuels people for the challenges of escaping from warlords and natural disasters. Your meal may give you heartburn. If it does, before you take your antacid allow your heart to ache for the people who will fill their bellies with dirty roots, cold sawdust and warm banana leaves.

Sprinkle Jesus

To cover up my worst deeds
I found the best way to fit in
Don’t admit to apparent evil
Just sprinkle Jesus on my sin

Fornication, greed and lust
Yes, I did it, I can’t pretend
But after all, no one is perfect
Just sprinkle Jesus on my sin

I know my actions were not perfect
And though it may indeed offend
I expect all is forgiven if I
Just sprinkle Jesus on my sin

Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh,

Shake Hands With the Devil

An old preacher once told me
Not so long ago
If you shake hands with the devil
It is hard to let go

He will grant your desires
But just so you know
He’s the master of deceit
The Bible says so

You will defeat your opponents
Your influence and power will grow
But it will be only on his terms
You see, he’s the real foe

So once your hand is in his
He will have you in tow
And as the old preacher said
It is hard to let go

John 8:44 – When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

2 Corinthians 11:14 – And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

What’s Next

I am still learning to surrender
I am still learning to let go
I am still learning be still
Because this one thing I know

I can trust the future to Him
Nothing comes as a surprise
He knows what page is turning
He has seen the next sunrise

Nothing catches Him off balance
Nothing catches Him unprepared
Nothing makes Him ask ‘what happened’?
For He alone declared

I Am Alpha and Omega
I hold all in balance and in check
Don’t try to plan your life without Me
I alone can say ‘What’s Next”

James 4:16 Context

13Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.

For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. 16But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. 17Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

Grip of Grace: Grasp of Sin

Grace has a grip on me. Sin keeps trying to grasp me. It is the grip of grace that keeps me from the grasp of sin. Grace is unmerited, protection and favor. I cannot, do not, will not ever deserve grace. Nothing I can do that will earn me the favor of God. Nothing that I say can ever allow me to claim special privilege. The grip of grace is inexplicable, immeasurable, eternal and cannot be conquered by human reason or strength.

It is like the sleight of hand where the enemy of my soul thinks he has me, but somehow God has moved me just beyond his reach. Just when the evil one says; ‘gotcha’ God knew exactly where I needed to be safe from Satan’s schemes. Like trying to hold vapor in arms or stars in hands, Satan has no ability to grasp me when I am in the grip of God’s grace.

Grace is the guiding light when I keep groping instead for the darkness. Grace is the freedom to do the right thing, when I keep looking for bondage of doing what is wrong. Grace is the Holy Spirit given desire to do what is best in God’s eyes when I prefer to do what is good and acceptable in the eyes of mankind.

Sin never stops seeking to grasp, but grace never lets me go. God’s grip of grace holds onto me firmly, even in the midst of the temptations to jump out of His hand. It seems so much easier to do what is right in my own eyes, by my own reason, intuition and instinct. Grace will allow me to fall, flounder and even fumble but will not allow me to fail. That is grace will keep me from losing my relationship with a Holy God because I am in His hands.

Ask God for the grip of His grace. It will keep you from the grasp of sin.

2 Corinthians 12:9King James Version (KJV)
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Ephesians 2:8-9King James Version (KJV)
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

John 10:28-30New International Version (NIV)
28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[a]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Turn Invisible Moo into Meat

Only the Creator can do it
Only He can perform this feat
Make something from absolute nothing
Turn invisible moo into meat

We can season and stir lightly
We can cook at just the right heat
Only He makes void become substance
Turn invisible moo into meat

He doesn’t stop with one item
From cucumbers to red beet
Put oink, swish and cluck on the menu
Turn invisible moo into meat

Evolutionists will shout and laugh at you
Their theories are lies and deceit
Black cow eats green grass, get white milk
Because God turns invisible moo into meat

Genesis 1:1-3 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Unwelcome Breadwinner

She can make more money in five minutes lying in bed than I can make in 8 hours standing on my feet. She is the real breadwinner. For the sake of this essay, let’s call him MJ (because it just as well could be me).

MJ looked desperately sad, sitting and waiting for an immediate verdict from the parole board in a few minutes that he knew would take a few weeks. I left the hearing room just as I had entered, not at all hopeful.

The court appointed attorney had tried to make the best case for MJs release. To her credit, it was a straightforward case. He was in the company of known felons who were committing felonious acts. This was not easy for her defend.

One would think that after 35 years behind bars he would know better. His girlfriend accepted but did not welcome him home upon his release from prison. She wanted more than he could give, some bigger place and better clothes. He just wanted someone to hold and hug.

MJ knew that she still worked as a prostitute and was selling drugs from their apartment. He shared his dilemma with our men’s prayer group.

‘I am trying’ he said. ‘I have been out for one year. I want her to respect the fact that I am looking for better paying work. I want her to leave this lifestyle because it is dangerous and it can get me in trouble. I want to protect and provide for her. But the money I earn isn’t enough or coming fast enough and the company she keeps are dangerous ‘clients and customers.’

And as I said she can earn more in bed than I can on my feet. So we argue and fight and I go back to jail.’ The worst part of the whole thing is that I love her and want to help her. Then MJ cried. Who needs a man like me?’

So here he is. One year after his release MJ was locked up again in the same prison for parole violation. Yes, the state was willing to welcome him even if his girlfriend wasn’t.

Now I find myself a witness to testify on his behalf and attest to the community’s willingness to hold him accountable.

‘My testimony: MJ is a consistent member of our men’s prayer group. We were in the process of getting him a better paying job and safer housing. We are in contact with his mother and sister both of whom are willing to send money from their home in Alabama to support him until he is allowed to leave the state. Please give MJ another chance, I plead.’

I guess the parole board members are not allowed to smile. No one says a word and MJ just sits a few feet away, looking at his shoes. I leave the room with no answers.

As I leave I reflect on all of the men and women we serve in the Out Of Nazareth ministries. We have helped some with jobs, driver’s license, resumes, medication, physical exams, criminal records expungement even short-term housing. These come by networking with Christian and non-Christian organizations. Our network is confident that the people we send are genuine.

We have helped men and women find peace in reconnecting with families, get married and even intervened on an attempted suicide.

MJ is not without hope. One day, and I pray very soon, MJ can get the welcome he needs from people who care and become a real breadwinner.

He will do best when he meets Christ as provider and protector.

Me or You

At the end of the day
Seeing things in rear view
I must ask myself
Did they see me
Or did they see You

I am so very charming
I have jokes that are new
I am witty and learned
Did they see me
Or did they see You

I drive what is fashionable
Things afforded by few
As they look at my wardrobe
Did they see me
Or did they see You

My opinions are valued
People quote me they do
Flesh is fed spirit is empty
Looking at me
They couldn’t see You

John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.