Philippians 2:14-16: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, 'children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.' Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.”

“Harsh light” is a figure of speech used by painters and photographers when it exposes and draws attention to unpleasant features of a subject. God’s light does not work that way. The Light of the world is not known to be harsh; Jesus exposes the truth without shaming everybody. In fact, God has no intentions of shaming us. We on the other hand have earned a Master’s degree in blaming ourselves and others. We need to get away from the harsh light of human judgment and put ourselves completely into the hands of God. In His light we do not look so bad after all.

Who would go the extra mile and bandage a bruised reed? Jesus would. Prophet Isaiah describes the gentleness of Jesus who does not crush a broken blade of grass but instead repairs it (Isaiah 42:3):

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;”

Jesus has all the authority given by the Father – and that is a lot of authority – and yet, His presence is not intimidating. We are familiar with despots that are full of themselves and walk all over people. Jesus is not full of Himself. He is full of mercy. He is gentle with the brokenhearted, but firm with the hypocrites.

What is the antidote to power abuse? Is it force? Not according to Jesus. He did not draw a sword to defend Himself. He could have gone down that route and technically He would have won. Jesus could have crushed all of His opponents with ease, but then His rule would have been based on dominance alone and the world does not need that. This world has seen enough empires come and go.

Jesus has His way with broken people. He makes them shine. Aligned to a shining star, planets are lit up in dark space; and so are God’s children following Jesus. They shine in a crooked generation, as the apostle Paul puts it. And I believe this is the only hope left to reach even the most hardened heart. Not by force – but by light.

John 8:31-32: “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”

John the Baptist attracted no minor attention in his public ministry. Crowds followed his call for a change of heart and they all got baptized in the Jordan River. Expectations were rising and people debated whether or not John was the long awaited Messiah. When this kind of rumor came to his ears he clearly denied it. In his gospel records the apostle John wrote about John the Baptist (John 1:20):

He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Messiah.’”

Well, who was John the Baptist? Everybody wondered about that. After a thorough investigation instigated by the Jewish leadership, John quoted Isaiah to them to answer the question at hand. He said (Isaiah 40:3):

I am “a voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’”

John the Baptist not only set the records straight about who he was and who he was not, but he also started testifying about his cousin Jesus. As John saw Jesus walking by one day he turned around and told two of his disciples that Jesus is the Messiah. (John 1:36-37):

“When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.”

As it turned out, the first disciples to follow Jesus were originally followers of John the Baptist.

The way Jesus selected His disciples can be misread as being random because it happened so casually. And yet, I believe ‘casually’ is how God operates. God’s Spirit is all over the place, all over the world actually, which means that God meets people wherever they are. The late Mother Theresa would testify to the fact that she found Jesus to be walking the streets of Calcutta. The late David Wilkerson would agree that he found Jesus to be walking the streets of Brooklyn, in the middle of gang fights and drug abuse.

Jesus is where the rubber meets the road. He used to mingle with the folks in Galilee, specifically the folks making a living from fishing the Sea of Galilee. A fisher needs a boat and a carpenter knows how to build a boat. It is safe to assume that Jesus was involved in the latter, which is how He was found to be walking the streets of Bethsaida, Capernaum, or any old fisher town adjacent to the Sea of Galilee. He became a known figure to the locals. I imagine that Jesus talked about the kingdom of God as He was building boats just as much as Paul was making tents while commenting on Jesus the Messiah.

It is in casual circumstances that people are more prone to listen. Nobody enjoys to be preached at. Working side by side and rubbing shoulders with Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus the boat builder, is how connections began to form by the Sea of Galilee. And when the time arrived that Jesus’s ministry went public, His disciples were not selected out of the blue. Jesus picked up where they had previously left off. Simon, Andrew, James and John were already in relationship with the boat builder. They just never connected the dots recognizing Him as the Messiah. With a little help of Jesus’s cousin John their eyes were opened.

Perhaps, Jesus was too common to be immediately recognized by His future disciples. I am afraid, that is the point. Jesus is right here among us, in the mundane – and so are His disciples – commoners pursuing their trade while living out the kingdom of God. Jesus is Emmanuel – God with us – indicating God is not far removed from us, He is right here in our midst – a message which still rocks our world.

Isaiah 43:16,18-19: “This is what the Lord says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

In a time of need, Jacob (one of the many descendants of Abraham) had to move his entire family to Egypt. There he was received with open arms. One of his sons – Joseph – was an influential man in Egypt. That is why Jacob’s family was treated with utter respect and admiration.

Nevertheless, 400 years later all of this was distant memory. Feeling threatened by Israel’s explosive population growth, the Egyptian government sought to wipe them out by enslaving them.

Now it was definitely time to leave Egypt!

Israel’s exodus from Egypt was no minor event. In order to arrive at their destination – a region southeast from the Mediterranean Sea – they had to go through treacherous desert terrain and get past the Red Sea. With their former Egyptian slave-masters on their heels, the Red Sea quickly became a death trap. With their back against the wall, there was simply no way to go!

And Israel cried out to God.

All of a sudden, right before their very eyes, the waters began to recede. Bit by bit water levels decreased until they were able to safely cross over to the other side with their children, their flocks and herds. All of Israel passed through the Red Sea on dry ground! Well, so did the Egyptians, in hot pursuit of the Israelites, but they didn’t get very far. Soon after the last Israelite had set foot on the other shore, the waves of the Red Sea came crashing down; and as the water levels rose, the Egyptian soldiers drowned.

This was the day when the nation of Israel was born. A pivotal point in history for sure and an extraordinary miracle!

And yet, now the Lord says: “Forget this miracle at the Red Sea! This is nothing compared to the miracle about to happen.”

Can you see it?  Sometimes we can’t see the forest from the trees. If every piece of information was a tree, we would have a forest of information out there; thanks to internet access, all these pieces of information are at our fingertips.  That is great, but at the same time, that is a ton of information to sort through.

To cut through this sea of data, it is helpful to remember that there is one tree out there that matters most to humanity: the tree Jesus was nailed to. Looking at this one tree, Jesus’s death and resurrection pulls everything together and draws every human being to Him.

Regardless who we are and where we are from, we all seek our way through the wilderness of life, and in the end, we all die.  The good news is that Jesus has passed through the impassable, and conquered the impossible: death – a sting to all of creation, since death enslaves us all! The tree Jesus was nailed to stands for victory over death and offers the fruit of Eternal Life.


“In all the good times I find myself longing for change and in the bad times I fear myself.
I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in
I’ll never meet the ground
Crash through the surface, where they can’t hurt us
We’re far from the shallow now!”

Lady Gaga, Andrew Wyatt, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando

John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

If life had a name, then I’m sure its middle name would be Trouble with a capital T. First and last name? Constant Change! And we can get overwhelmed; we can get stuck; we can get overly attached; we can get numb; we can get depressed; we can get sweetened or hardened dealing with whatever life throws at us. Note that our hearts are fragile. We need to take good care of our hearts, or else we’ll be overcome by life’s middle name.

How we handle trouble is similar to digestion. Food is worthless and can actually kill us if our bowels refuse to work and our whole digestive system shuts down. Food has to be processed to be of any value. So does life. We need to take time to process life’s events, especially life changing events.

Allow yourself a break when lots of things happen, when we arrive at a crossroad; when changes come our way, when we feel pushed in a corner, when we feel powerless, when we feel angry, especially when we feel defeated and don’t see a way out of a situation. All of that are sure indicators that we need a Time Out.

Jesus spoke words of life into everybody’s struggle when He said:

  • “Take heart!”

We need to take our hearts seriously. The best favor we can do to ourselves is to reconnect with our Creator.

Jesus said:

  • “I have overcome the world”.

Knowing and believing that Jesus can work through every issue with us will guard our hearts from descending into desperation. Jesus added:

  • “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.”

The most precious ointment on a wounded and broken heart is the ointment of peace: the peace of knowing everything is going to be alright; the peace of knowing that God cares; the peace of knowing we are not alone; the peace of realizing that God is near; the peace of knowing we are being carried.

In all troubling matters, we need to cut through the chase and go to the source of the problem to gain clarity.  In matters of peace we too find a source. Jesus can connect us to peace because He is the source of peace. Before His death He told His followers (John 14:27):

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

“Peace be with you” is not an empty wish of His. It is quite real. And Jesus wants to lay it on us. He makes us an offer that we can refuse, but we are infinitely better off accepting the precious peace He has for us. Take it from the One who knows you best, and let His peace reign in your heart and soul.

John 14:1-3: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

His heart is fully vested in His creation. Jesus was there when the stars and the moons were put into place. He knows the inner workings of the universe. He knows all the intimate details of star systems, galaxies, our home turf, the Milky Way, and specifically, how planet Earth was put together, how plant life came to be, how the animals were created and finally, how the first human beings were introduced. He was there. As Builder and Creator, Jesus is attached to everything He has laid hands on, and His fingerprints are all over creation.

Then the Creator became flesh and lived among us; born into this world, the Son of God became Son of Man. Incidentally the Builder of the universe was born into a carpenter’s family. Growing up under Joseph’s tutelage, they must have spent a lot of time in the wood shop. They worked with their hands to build things out of wood. Jesus had always been a builder, but when God became man, He came with the mission to restore what He had previously built.

Creation suffered a mortal blow; death crept into His beautiful and perfect creation. But, death was not supposed to have the last word in the matter. At age 30, Jesus began His public ministry, preaching about the kingdom of God. He began to heal the sick, wake up the dead and spread God’s compassion everywhere He went.

The night before His death Jesus talked to His closest friends, His disciples. He shared with them that He was going back to the Father. His disciples were deeply disturbed and unsettled. How could they live a single day without Jesus?  Jesus told them (John 14:1):

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”

Nothing seemed to make sense to His disciples. How could Jesus save them if He were to leave them the very next day?

It was a hard thing to understand. As it turned out, Jesus did not leave them to their own devices. He left them with God’s Spirit. And to this day the Spirit of God has been working all around the globe to guide people’s hearts towards the truth.

Jesus left planet Earth to reunite with the Father. He also left to build places for people in Heaven, in preparation for their home coming. Passionate as He is about building, we can be sure that His love is carved into the very structures He is working on. We will see them – handcrafted homes in Heaven, custom made by Jesus for the people who believe in Him. This is what He says to you and me (John 14:1-2):

“You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”

Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”

A cardinal mistake is to believe that everything is up to us. Maybe one of the reasons why humans get so tired and burnt out is that we are putting too much on our plate. Jesus knew, that is why He addressed us: “Come to me”, He said, followed by another invitation (Matthew 11:29-30):

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

A yoke is a wooden beam normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs, as oxen usually do; Working in pair is the key ingredient here that Jesus was referring to. Paired up with the Almighty, any heavy burden becomes easier to carry.

I believe that is wonderful news. Jesus is not the type of boss who orders us around. He rolls up His sleeves and gets down to the nitty-gritty. He teams up with us. Can you believe it? Bearing a load as a loner was never meant to be. We are meant to work as a team. Jesus wants to be with us every step of the way.

Working together is not a new concept. God’s operating as Trinity suggests He invented team work in the first place, and we are blessed to follow His example because:

  • We will be inspired by God who works with us
  • We will be inspired by the people we are teaming up with

Working with God, we welcome His input. And welcoming Him is basically humility in a nutshell.

Humility makes a tremendous difference in this world. It takes the pressure off of us, because we know that we are not the ones running the show, God is. And when the time comes for us to step aside, we can do so with confidence – knowing that life will go on without us. While everyone is irreplaceable, the person picking up where we left off will bring a new perspective. Again – this is the beauty of teamwork! Trusting in the Lord, we already know that our life on Earth is not in vain. We leave indelible footprints.

Psalm 103:1-2: “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits”

Sean Hutchinson writes about elephant memory:

“At The Elephant Sanctuary — a non-profit organization based in Hohenwald, Tennessee — in 1999, an elephant named Jenny became very animated when a new elephant named Shirley arrived. After looking into the animals’ backgrounds, workers at the Sanctuary found that the two had performed with the same circus for only a few months—22 years earlier. The elephants are able to use their whopping 10.5-pound brains to encode identification and survival details, imprinting the key/// data to their memory to be recalled later. But an elephant’s amazing memory comes only with age and experience—and older, larger elephants are often a target of hunters. “The tragedy,” says Lewis, “is that when one of these is lost to poaching, the information dies with her,” leaving the rest of the herd at a disadvantage—and having severe consequences for the species as a whole.”

In the wild it is crucial to remember in order to survive.  I believe the same is true spiritually.  If we quickly forget about the good things the Lord has orchestrated in our lives, it’s just a matter of time that we feel disjointed and become dissatisfied.  With advanced age comes advanced experience.  All the more reason to look back and count our blessings!  While the aging population has been driven to the margins of Western society, it is important to note that they do not play a marginal role in God’s kingdom. Leviticus 19:32 encourages us to value and respect the elderly:

“Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the Lord.”

On the opposite side of the age spectrum Paul wrote to Timothy, a young fellow believer, to not underestimate himself because of his young age (1 Timothy 4:12):

“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”

So let’s not fall into the trap of thinking less of ourselves because we belong to a certain age group.  Instead, let’s think about the good things the Lord has done for you and me and make it our daily habit to praise Him.

“Time makes you bolder; children get older, and I’m getting older too.”
Stevie Nicks
Posted in Age