In Mark 7:26-30: it says, “The woman was a Greek, [a non-Jew from Phoenicia in Syria] and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. But Jesus said to her, “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” And she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.” Then He said to her, “For this saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” And when she had come to her house, she found the demon gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed.”
So Jesus says, “It’s just not right to take the blessings that belong to the Jews and indiscriminately throw them to the outsiders.” And the woman, being a non-Jew, is referred to as a dog, to her face. It’s almost as if Jesus is trying to rile her; to see if she’s serious about getting the blessing she seeks. She must be serious; ‘cause she completely ignores the personal attack and says, in effect, “I don’t care what you say about me; I just want you to help my daughter.” (She knows that her pride and her ego don’t matter, when her daughter’s life is at stake.)
To me that’s the message of this story: When we have enough faith in Jesus, we too will let nothing (even our selfish pride) stand in the way of our trusting Him. When we do that, He will help us; and He will get a kick out of our faith and our spunk, just as He did with this woman.
Two brothers and I had a discussion in our office building this morning. We do this once a week usually; to talk about what God is doing in our lives. This time we were talking about the standard we use to decide what is right and wrong in making decisions in our lives. We were talking about whether it’s right (OK) to use torture to get our enemies to tell us what they know about their plans and operations. One brother said it is definitely OK to sacrifice one guy’s comfort (or even his life) to save the lives of a bunch of others, especially if those people are ‘our’ people. He said it was reasonable, even admirable to act in that fashion. Continue reading →
[This is an excerpt from the Kairos talk “A Christian”]
LOVE is about mercy and forgiveness; Mercy is being nice to someone (cuttin’ them a little slack) even when they deserve to be punished. That’s what God does for us.
Forgiveness is what love is in practice. It’s what happens when we love people enough to forgive them, even when they are wrong and we’re right; even when no one is looking and it won’t help us a bit. Forgiveness is the evidence of mercy in our individual personal relationships.
In 1 Corinthians 13:4, it says ‘Love is patient.’ In the King James version of the Bible, and in the original Greek the verse says, “Love suffers long.” That means if you really love someone, you put up with them. I’m thinking about my kids when they were teenagers. It means that you put up with them, even though you’ve told them 15 times what you expect, and they’re still doing it wrong, very likely on purpose and not accidentally. That’s what it means when it says love suffers long. Continue reading →
[The following is an excerpt from the Kairos Talk: A Christian]
When we follow Jesus, we learn to love, because Jesus is in our hearts. We begin to see with Jesus’ eyes, and hear with Jesus’ ears, and feel with Jesus’ heart. We’re not struggling to love others, to love ourselves and to love God, because Jesus’ Spirit is inside our hearts loving others through us.
So how in the world do we reach the point of having Jesus live His eternal life in us? We have to give up. We have to quit trying to do good and do right and never make mistakes. If you finally get that message, that you can’t do it on your own, you can’t do it in your own power, you cannot possibly be good enough to satisfy God, and you accept the gift of Jesus’ death on the cross, and surrender yourself to Him, THEN you can start the journey of following Jesus.
Here’s the central message of this talk. We’re all a bunch of pieces of manure. We stink. And what’s worse, we’re not getting any better. It’s not hard to see that without God we’re not going to make it out of here alive. And I don’t mean this prison. I mean this life, my life, your life, in this world. The only way we’re going to make it is if we humble ourselves and accept Jesus as our Savior, and start letting Jesus live His life in us.
This is the first part of the Kairos talk, A CHRISTIAN: I call it “How to Quit Struggling and Start Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk.” Luke 9:23-24, says, “If anyone would be My disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Just so you’ll know; the word disciple means follower. So if you want to be a follower of Jesus, what do you have to do? Three things: 1] Deny yourself, 2] Take up your cross daily, and 3] Follow Jesus.Continue reading →
‘Obstacles’ is the next to the last talk on the Kairos Weekend Program in the prisons. “We’ve been talking all weekend about God’s plan for our lives. Let me tell you what His plan is for us; to surrender ourselves to Him. To do whatever He wants us to on a minute by minute basis. To accept the gift of His grace and share it with others. Pretty simple; but it’s not easy.
What is Grace? It is unmerited favor. That means God being nice to us when we didn’t deserve it. Grace is a lot like mercy, Mercy is God being nice to us when we deserved to be punished.Continue reading →
This is from a Kairos talk called “Friendship with God”. I want to start by telling you a Bible verse. It’s Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” That’s my verse. That’s the verse I live by every day. Trusting in God is the focus of my life. The part about not leaning on your own understanding is harder, since I’m always trying to figure out why stuff happens; and a lot of times, God doesn’t tell me the why. So I just have to trust. Remember, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, . . . and He will direct your path.”
What is a friend? Is it somebody who agrees with me all the time and takes my side on every issue? Not necessarily. In fact they may disagree, if they see me doing or saying something which might hurt me. Friendship is about trust. Trust is progressive. It grows through experience. When you find someone you can trust, you want to spend time with them; to figure out ways to agree with them most of the time; to do what they suggest, sometimes even when it seems crazy. When you really get to trusting them, you really don’t lean on your own understanding. You sorta accept them and what they say at face value, without really thinking about it. Continue reading →
The introductory talk in the Kairos program for the brothers in white in the prison is called ‘Choices’. The person chosen to make this talk (in fact all talks in Kairos) is given certain points to make during the talk, but there are two basic guidelines for every talk. 1] Write it and give it in your own words, and 2] give a personal testimony that relates to the subject matter. While in Kairos we are primarily concerned with talking to the participants about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, in the ‘Choices’ talk, we are specifically directed NOT to say anything about God or religion or the Bible in this talk. We just want to get them to think, to think about themselves and their past, to think about how their past choices have affected their lives. It’s like parents raising their children. In order for the child to grow up to be a responsible, productive citizen, on a natural level, they need to understand the principle of cause and effect. “If you do this, this will happen; if you do that, that will happen.” If we do good things, good things will result. If we do bad things, bad things will result. Continue reading →
[The following are excerpts from a Kairos talk called “Walking in God’s Grace”.] I wish I could tell you that living the Christian life, after you really commit to God, is going to be easy, that you’re going to feel God’s presence every day, more and more; that you’re going to be obedient, that you’re not going to do anything stupid, that you’re going to trust God all the time, that you’re going to love everybody and they’re going to love you; that there’s going to be a steady shining light in your life all the time and no more darkness. Sorry, it’s just not going to be all sweetness and light, because we’re all still a bunch of sinners.
Let’s say that because of this Kairos weekend, everybody here has made a commitment to Jesus. We’ve had good food and good fellowship; we’ve felt God’s unconditional love through the brothers, both those from inside and those from outside the prison; and we’re excited about the prospect of going back out in the world to share Jesus with other people out there in the dark. How are we going to do that? We can’t. Why can’t we? We’re heard the message; we’ve accepted it; we’ve made a commitment to Jesus; and He’s definitely made a commitment to us (to each one of us). So what is holding us back? Continue reading →
In the Kairos program we focus a lot of attention on forgiveness. We do it for two reasons: 1] because in the Bible Jesus devotes a lot of attention to it; and 2] because in the prisons, there are a lot of people who really need it.
To bring this subject into focus: in Matthew 6:9-15, the Lord’s Prayer, forgiveness is a major point of the whole prayer. In verse 12, it says, “Forgive us our trespasses (sins, debts) as we forgive those who trespass against us.” And we usually think the prayer ends with verse 13, “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom . .”
But that’s not really the end, because immediately, without taking a breath, Jesus adds, “If you forgive others their trespasses, then God will forgive you; but if you don’t forgive others, then He won’t forgive you.’ (Isn’t it interesting that He doesn’t make any comments about any other verses in the prayer, only about forgiveness.) Continue reading →