On the way home from dinner last night I had this (paraphrased) conversation with 9 year old Audrey:
Dad: I didn’t see, did you finnish your sandwich?
Audrey: No, it was time to go.
Dad: OK
Audrey: I don’t each sandwiches. Sandwiches are mean and live in sand castles so I have a samich.
Dad: Really? Well that makes sense. Is that spelled S A M M I C H?
Audrey: I think there’s only one M
She thinks there’s only one M in the word she made up.
I’m convinced that Audrey lives in a parallel universe that we can only see glimpses of. It sure looks like a lot of fun though.

Did Jesus Come toTeach us How to Live?

Daniel pointed me to this article about how more and more folks are re-making Jesus in their own image. nothing new really, folks have been re-imagining a less shocking Jesus almost since he left.
It got me thinking about what Jesus’ was after in his teachings. I’m thinking we just might be missing the point.
Was Jesus really teaching to get us to change? Sure, I think he wanted and expected folks to take note and to rethink who they are, but prophet after prophet had come teaching much the same message. The scriptures will filled with much of the same teachings. Why would these same words from this man, even if he was God and man, be any different?
What if the point of Jesus coming to teach was to prove the point that we were helpless to save, powerless to obey and in desperate need of a savior. He knew going in that ll the best teaching in the world wouldn’t save us. Only he could do that.
Yet people over and over examine and re-examine his teachings, hoping to expose that nugget that will transform. Some magic nugget that has eluded all the others before. That’s why we have Jesus the positive thinker, Jesus the spiritual guru, Jesus who wants you to have your best life now and on and on.
We’re missing the point. When we look at Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce, on generosity, on lust, on loving our enemies, on purity, on holiness, on pride, on anger, his compassion, his restraint, his patience, his sermon on the mount and the beatitudes and we look at who we are in our sin, our response can’t possibly be “OK, I can do that.” No, when we see who we are in stark contrast to what God expects, we can do nothing but fall on our knees and beg for mercy.
We do not need the self help Jesus for we cannot possibly help ourselves. We need the savior. The reach over the rail of the ship and catch me from the waves savior. The run through the flames and snatch me from the burning building savior. The step out into the firefight to pull you to safety savior.
And after he’s taught us who God is, and humbled us because we are not that and cannot hope to be, he goes to the cross and saves us.
And only then can we be transformed into that which was impossible before and only because he makes up the difference. He bridges the gulf and now we are free to acheive that which had been impossible before.
His message is not “you can” but “you can’t, but don’t worry, I will”

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday. As Jared reminds, Good Friday. We mark this day with God nailed to a tree as good.
2000 years ago, the disciples following Him did not see good in this day. They had come to Jerusalem with great expectation, I suspect. Jesus had in some respects built this up, waiting to go to Jerusalem until it was the right time and setting out resolutely when it was. They had the passover meal in the upper room and there was something profound in the air. He had told them to make sure they had swords. They entered the garden that night and they could see in Jesus the anguish, the stress. His prayers were more urgent and desperate than they had seen, yet he emerged as determined as ever.
Then there were the soldiers. It’s on! They accuse Jesus, pointing and …
He gives no fight. He simply goes with them. He even rebukes Peter for using the sword He told them to have! Here was the one who was to be their savior. He opened eyes, mouths and ears. He had silenced the leaders. Here was the one who banished a legion of demons to a herd of pigs, simply walking away with the enemy, giving no fight to a mere handful of Roman soldiers.
Then the beatings. The mock trial. The accusations. The death sentence. And through it all, Jesus gave no fight. None.
Then the cross, and they watched their savior die at the hand of those he was to save them from. Perhaps they awaited some last minute miracle, but none was coming. He just allowed them to hoist him up, and then he died. Why?
It had to rock their world. All they had been preparing for, the victory was guaranteed had slipped through their fingers. What had they been doing, what had they been thinking, abandoning their secure lives to follow a carpenter. Had it really all been for nothing?
This Friday, was anything but Good.
They didn’t realize that in surrender, Christ was securing victory, In death he would achieve life for all. The only way to victory was through defeat. They didn’t get it, though He had explained it to them over and over. They would be lost for these next 3 days, and He knew it. But that was OK, because He knew that they would understand …
… come Sunday.

Mark 7 – Traditions, Defilement and Dogs

Mark 7:5-8 – On the surface, this seems a harsh response to a legitimate questions – Why don’t you wash? Of course, the question wasn’t likely that legit, considering the source. It was more an accusation – What makes you think you can side step our traditions?
An Jesus’ response is not a condemnation of their practices, it’s a call to realign their priorities. He didn’t condemn their traditions, he simply called for them to be put in proper perspective. They are of men, not of God. Honor what God would honor first, then follow you traditions if it does not contradict God’s ways.
This is human nature, to substitute tradition and practice for a heart following God. If we set our heart on following God, we will likely not always follow tradition. But we like things simple, easy to implement. Traditions are like that. We always _____. Fill in the blank. Go to church on Sunday morning, read our Bibles before breakfast, pray for our dinner, give a certain dollar amount to church, etc. As we routinely follow what we’ve always done, we run the risk of missing what God has called us to at that moment, or perhaps what we might do for God that’s greater. Instead of giving that full amount to your fairly well off American church, what if you took some and sponsored a child in a needy country or supported a local soup kitchen. Instead of reading your Bible every morning before breakfast, what if some mornings you took that and your breakfast time to go bring a hot meal to a lonely retiree before work? I wonder if God isn’t desiring for us, as He did the Pharisees, to loosen our grip on our traditions a bit so that we might serve him better.
Mark 7:14-23 – In this passage Jesus once and for all (although some don’t seem to have gotten it) declared that food cannot defile us. But even more frightening, he declares that what does defile us comes from within. We cannot say the devil made me do it nor it was because my Dad didn’t love me. Although those factors are real and have power to influence us, we cannot lay the blame for our guilt at their feet. The scary truth is that the evil comes from within our own hearts. We defile ourselves.
Mark 7:28-29 – What was in this woman’s statement that moved Jesus? Humility & faith. Humility in that she understood her place and that, as a Gentile, she had no right to claim anything from the king of the Jews. Jesus effectively called her a dog and she effectively admitted that was what she was and she was willing to accept what a dog gets, the leftovers. Her faith was saying, essentially, “After you’ve spent yourself on your people, the Jews, just give me whatever is left over. That will be enough.”

Discount Tire Quietly Proclaims the Gospel

I’ve used Discount Tire several times over the past few years. I’ve bought 2 sets of tires for my van, the wheels and tires for the T’bird and just a few weeks ago a set for the Mazda. I’ve liked them because they have the best prices and great service. They were great getting the wheels right on the T’bird and treated it with kid gloves putting them on (hand jacking and hand torqing the lugs). When I tried to save some money on tires for the Mazda and was very disappointed with how the cheaper ones drove, they exchanged them for a different brand with no questions asked, giving me full credit for what I had paid, even though I had put 600 miles on them.
The other day, however, I found a new respect for the company. Visiting the Discount Tire web site to look up tires for our new camper, I saw this simple message across the top:

All Stores will be closed on Good Friday, March 21st from 12:00 to 3:00.

There was no link to a press release, no further explanation, just a simple notice. Those particular hours on that particular day piqued my interest. Those are the traditional hours observed when Jesus hung on the cross. I went digging, and found this article called Easter Surprise from a year ago commenting on an NBC story on religion in corporate America or something. It was what I found this in a comment by a user named ‘acumen’ that brought me here (via Google) however (emphasis mine):

I realized yesterday (Good Friday) around noon that I had a tire going flat. I drove to my vendor, Discount Tire, to get it checked. As I pulled up I was a bit nervous seeing all the bay doors closed. I pulled up to the door and saw a sign stating they would be closed between 12:00 and 3:00 in respect of Christ’s anguish and death on the cross.

No press release trumpeting their piety, only a simple act of respect. This quiet gesture speaks louder than all the proclamations of the religious. I’m not one who is lead to observe anything special in those hours, but I have a profound respect for the leaders of Discount Tire for doing so. They could have simply closed all day, or for the afternoon. Instead, they chose to quietly, respectfully & deliberately proclaim the Lord’s death, perhaps judging (rightly I think) that this gesture would make a greater statement.
Well done.

Lyrics: Miracle of the Moment

I’ve decided that I need to post some of the song lyrics that I’ve heard lately that have encouraged me or helped me. The first is Stephen Curtis Chapman’s Miracle of the moment. These in particular hit home:

So breathe it in and breathe it out
Listen to your heartbeat
There’s a wonder in the here and now
It’s right there in front of you
And I don’t want you to miss the miracle of the moment
And if it brings you tears
Then taste them as they fall
And let them soften your heart
And if it brings you laughter
Then throw your head back
And let it go, let it go
You gotta let it go

Schaefer guys tend to be a little, uh, uptight about how things go. There’s a right way for things to go and if they don’t go that way (they frequently don’t), we get a little, uh, frazzled. Those who know us know that’s a little, uh, understated.
These lyrics helped me see that wile I was worked up about getting things right, I was missing the moments. While I was fuming about not having things just so, life was passing by.
So now, I try to hear that song in my head, and breathe in and breathe out as I feel my temperature rise. I try to look around and see the wonder, right there in front of me. There’s an awful lot of it, if you’ll let yourself notice.

Mark 6 – John beheaded, feeding the crowd

Mark 6:5 – It’s amazing to me how Jesus power seemed to be limited by the faith of those hearing Him. It doesn’t say that He chose not to do any ‘mighty work’, but that He could not do any. This goes back to Mark 5 and the woman healed – am I and my shallow faith limiting what Jesus can do in my life? It’s hard to find the path between working hard on my faith to produce results from Jesus and getting the faith to allow Jesus to work. The first is really a works mindset, or some sort of ‘power of positive thinking’ psychology masked as faith, but how does one work at your faith with out working for the result of faith?
Mark 6:7-13 – He gave them authority to heal, but healing was not their message. Their message was “that people should repent.”
Mark 6:20, 26 – He feared John, it says in verse 20, and that was why he didn’t execute him. Yet, when backed into a corner it becomes clear that he feared his wife or perhaps public embarrassment more.
Mark 6:28 – I’ve often felt sorry for this girl, who, because of her mother’s hard heart and sin, gets handed a freshly severed head on a platter. I wonder how that image haunted her later in life?
Mark 6:30-44 – I wonder what it was like to be in that crowd. I wrote a story once, based on the account in John 6, from the perspective of the father of the boy with the loaves (not mentioned here). I think I’m that Dad in my story, the grumpy Dad, led reluctantly by his wife and kids into a miracle. One he would have missed if it weren’t for them.
Mark 6:56 – I don’t remember making the connection with this account here of folks touching his garments and being healed and the woman from Mark 5.

Mark 5;21-43 – A Woman Healed, Jarius’ Daughter

Mark 5:21 – They head back across and I wonder – did Jesus cross there simply to meet that demon possessed man?
Mark 5:28 – This woman’s faith is remarkable. She simply heard about Jesus and deduced that he was powerful enough that a single touch, not of the man himself, but of his clothing, would heal her.
And she was right.
Jesus never taught that, never even hinted at that. She figured it out and went for it in faith.
What an amazing lesson for us. We who are immersed in Jesus culture, hear the lessons preached, the parables explained, the teachings enumerated. We who know Jesus inside and out and have access to all his teachings and volumes upon volumes of commentary on them.
Yet we sit in our own sin, wondering how we can be cured?
This ticks me off, frankly, on a personal level for I wallow and wring my hands over my own sin. This woman was really suffering, bleeding and bleeding and bleeding and bleeding and bleeding. No one had been able to help her and many smart men had tried. If anyone had reason to be skeptical and doubt, she did. But she saw Jesus and believed. It was that simple. She didn’t require anything of him but access.
Here we sit – here I sit – with all the access in the world. I know that Jesus is readily available. I know that I can reach out and touch him today, right now. I understand it all, what I lack is faith. I can see Jesus. Jesus the healer, the restorer, the savior. I can see him, but he’s not real enough to me. I can see him, but I guess I don’t believe my eyes and I explain it away.
I’m tired of being the same yet proclaiming Jesus. I can see enough of Him to know that there’s something wrong with that picture. Folks who see him, really see Him, don’t stay the same. They are healed, transformed, changed.
If I see Jesus, am I willing to believe in what I see?

And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.

Mark 5:34

Mark 5:35-43 – I find great hope in the story of Jairus, especially reflecting on the bleeding woman’s story which is wedged in the middle of it. They both came in faith, but before he could get what he came for, Jairus is hit with reality. Jairus was faced with the obvious facts. The servants say she’s dead, they arrive to weeping and wailing, the people laugh at them when Jesus says she’s only asleep. If I’m Jairus, it would take all my energy and focus to remain faithful in the face of all that reality.
But Jesus told him, “Do not fear, only believe.” And somehow he does.
And in they go, and there’s his daughter, dead. A few words from Jesus and she’s alive and walking.
Everyday, all around us we are confronted with reasons not to believe that Jesus can change us. Even religious folk will try to diminish you expectations, ground you in reality. Jesus, however, puts his hands on our cheeks, turns our head toward his face and away from ‘reality’ and says just what he said to Jairus:
“Do not fear, only believe.”

Ah, Springtime in Ohio …

You know, whet the National Weather Service cancels the Winter Storm Warning for your area in favor of a Blizzard Warning, you might be in trouble.
Here’s how the forecast went:

  • Thursday night 11:00 news: 6-10 inches by Saturday afternoon.
  • Friday morning at 6:45 as Jess got on the bus: 8-14 inches by Saturday afternoon.
  • Friday morning when I got to work at 8:30: 12-15 inches by Saturday afternoon.

We were supposed to have 1-3 by the end of Friday, I shoveled 5″ off the driveway after work. The top picture is what I saw at 8:00 this morning, the one at left is after cleaning the driveway again. Should have a couple more inches to shovel by the time the day’s out. Judging by the pile on our swing set, we’ve gotten at least 12″ so far.
Church is by small groups tomorrow because the school we meet in won’t open the building for us, but I’m doubting we’ll get out of our neighborhood by then.
byevad, I’m working on matching you.
UPDATE 2PM: Just shoveled another 3″ – 4″ and judging by the radar, we’ve got a couple more hours of snow coming. I’m thinking we’ll be close to 20″ before it’s over, which is crazy. Cleveland is supposed to get it even worse.
The neighbors are using their Suburban to tow their kids down the street on their sleds. Fun, I’m sure, but doesn’t seem too bright.
UPDATE 7PM: Well, the snow finally stopped after 5 and the sun actually came out briefly. Audrey and I measured 12-13 inches in a couple of spots in the middle of the yard, but it’s been blowing a lot and that could be less there due to that. I’m pretty sure that we got well over the predicted 15 inches, closer to 18, but maybe it just seemed that way as I shoveled it. 😛
I added the shovel shot for byevad. Yeah, not quite the same as his but hey, the ground was bare 36 hours ago!
UPDATE SUNDAY: Well, the official total is 20.4 inches, breaking a single storm record from 1910 (15.3 inches) and the 15.4 inches since midnight Saturday broke a 24 hour record from 1987 (12.2 inches). See, I wasn’t crazy after all!

On This Day

Recent Posts

Recent Comments