When Heart’s Burned!

Luke 24:13-35

New International Version (NIV)

On the Road to Emmaus

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke itand began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

The savior of the world, after rising from the grave. After staring death in the eyes and muzzling him, comes back in the flesh and meets some of his disciples. Imagine His emotions – excitement, trepidation, nervousness?

Yet in verse 28. we find the most remarkable thing happening. Jesus the GodMan, doesn’t assume that his proximity in distance to those he is with equals intimacy with them. Jesus doesn’t impose Himself on them, and He never imposes Himself on us. God is a true gentleman.

Wouldn’t it have been tragic if those two men hadn’t chosen to invite Jesus the risen Lord to stay a while longer and break bread with them? And yet, how many Emmaus road experiences do we have, when in our proximity to God we don’t chose to invite him to intimacy with us.

Every Sabbath is a wonderful opportunity to accept God’s invitation to a 24hr date and experience an awesome day that will leave us saying like those men  – “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Ill adjusted

…..And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Roms 12:2

This text in Romans many times is followed by a volley of do’s and don’ts. I read this text today( yes I understand the historical context and audience) and my mind was taken on a different tangent. Paul is writing a message of progression over stagnation. His audience is not pagans but Christians.

Luther comments on this passage and says that is a movement from good to betterIt is a call to never be satisfied with where we are as Christians.

I think one way that comes out in living relevant and deeply Christian lives is how we deal with ill. I don’t mean blowing your nose, but I mean ill thoughts, ideas, practices. How about this one for size – I am black and you are white, we can work together in the same office because society is desegregated but we will go to church in segregated conferences and churches. If we are well-adjusted to ill-fitting beliefs that permeate societal thinking we are in trouble. The problem is doubly compounded when it is within our own gates.

To quote Luther on Romans 12:2 again :

“As soon as you do not desire to become better, then you have ceased to be good.”  It does not help a tree to have green leaves and flowers if it does not bear fruit besides its flowers. For this reason many perish in their flowering.

I have been thinking and praying about the startlingly well-adjusted attitude that we have to this ill-fitting belief of separate but equal. Mine was not active promotion of the belief, I was convicted I was stagnating which according to Luther is tantamount to progression. I want to pick up my hammer and help bring down this wall, a shard, a chip or chunk at a time.

My friend puts it this way “we go to separate churches in the same town, and say – peace, ill see you in heaven”. Is my friend off his rocker? I don’t think so, in fact I whole heartily agree with his commentary on this ill.

How do we as a body deal with this difficult issue of racial segregation within our own walls? This isn’t a rhetorical question, I welcome your contributions!

A Fishy Dilemma

Face drenched. Heart Pounding. Conscience seared. In between mouthfuls of salty sea water, he must have wondered how in the world he ended up between the gruff hands of weather beaten sailors. As the icy water crashed into his quivering body Jonah had learnt that this was the only option for amelioration.

Someone said that dilema’s aren’t supposed to be “fixed”. All problems aren’t meant to be “smoothed”. The solutions we see sometimes come from living through them. It’s rough of course. We find ourselves in situations that to all purposes we have spun ourselves, and God does not always give us a “get out of jail free card”.  Even if we can escape the situation we’ve created (temporarily), but we can’t escape ourselves. We can never escape ourselves.

In the sodden belly of a huge fish, Jonah could not escape himself.

-Jonah 2: 1 [a]From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God.

When find ourselves in dark places, facing innumerable dilemmas, we would do well to follow Jonah’s example and lift our voice in heartfelt prayer. God did not forget stubborn Jonah, and he will not forget any of his blood bought children.

Express Success

The interesting thing about university is that sometimes your greatest learning moments come outside of a classroom setting. One on one with professors, chance encounters with your peers, those are some of the most formative moments you experience. I had one of those moments yesterday. I bumped into a friend and we started talking. We shared our struggles and hopes for the future. He mentioned that many times when we embark on our God-given missions in life, we become side tracked, aspiring to gain the approbation of man and forfeiting the blessing of God. Often our limited view of others cause us to be rabid malcontents who are never satisfied. We desire the trappings of “success” that others in our field have reached, and the recognition that inevitably follows. In short, we desire their anointing.

In Palestine anointing oil was made by crushing olives into a paste using a large milestone, and then putting the crushed paste in between disks and through irresistible pressure extracting precious drops of pure olive oil. All that is left is mangled pulp, but the output is oil. My observation is that those who are truly anointed by the Holy Spirit go through painfully crushing experiences in private that produce public lives coursing with power.

It puts the Shepherds Psalm in perspective:

Psalm 23:5
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Before the table was the valley, before the anointing was the crushing. There are no shortcuts to the table, and there are no express lanes to GOD’s anointing!

What I hate more than Tests

Yesterday I took a Hebrew test so that I could pass out, and not take the class this semester. I missed it by 4 questions. So after studying and memorizing, I fell short. Like most people I dislike tests, and the only thing I dislike more than tests are failing them. Tests need not be a negative experience. It seems to me that the deciding factor between a positive and negative test is the proctor. 

Psalm 11:5 (ESV)

5 The LORD tests the righteous.

God shows his favour toward his people by testing them.  So we are absent potential blessing when we are not tested. I now face a semester of Hebrew (yikes!) For you it might be a depleting bank account and increasing bills, deep wounds and few friends, or shattered dreams and unfulfilled promises. God asks will you hold on? Will you concede to me? Will you let me test you? A rabbi once said “this world is a long corridor before the world to come. We must prepare in the corridor so we may enter into THE hall.”

The apostle James resonates fully with this idea.  James 1:12  Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Waiting on God.

My wife was so mad to see this on our door this week. I felt her frustration.( I regularly chase the UPS truck around Berrien when I am expecting a package) So my wife fussed, and paced, and lamented the fact she had to wait ONE more day for the package to be re-delivered. We are both woefully impatient when it comes to waiting.

 Psalm 130:5-6: “I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning,”

The psalmist compares waiting for God with the watchmen on a city who waited through the thick darkness of the night, waiting, expectantly for dawn to come and their watch to be over. Waiting of course involves time, and the passing of it. It can be frustrating, confusing, and irritating. The key to peace in our times of waiting is found in the psalm.

The watchmen wait for the sun to rise each morning, they trust its consistency and power, but the psalmist says he waits even more for the Lord because he knows HE is more reliable than the sun. The psalmist knowledge and trust in God, allowed him to have a confident expectation of God’s arrival in his life. Finally then, waiting on God is akin to waiting for the sun to rise, when the light will consume the darkness. When its warmth will melt the coldness of the night. Whatever you are waiting on God for, know that he will come through.

False Advertising

In African homes all is not as it seems. Recently on twitter #inanafricanhome was trending, and one common experience people shared was the disappointment of the unfulfilled. An example that really hit home was an experience I was familiar with: Sometimes I would crave ice-cream and  go to the freezer and find a tub of Wall’s soft scoop. “Yes! Success”  I would then open the tub, ready to dig into the delicious treat, only to find, soup, or beans!?! Its crushing, lol. When you are a teenager it has been scientifically proven that your body is fuelled exclusively on teeth rotting, diabetes inducing sugar highs. Donuts for breakfast, pizza for lunch, and ice-cream for diner (“,)

So to be deprived of this glucose rush is pretty galling. You expect sweetness but instead find savouriness.

In Exodus 32:17,18 Joshua is coming down the mountain with Moses. Joshua is pumped. They snake their way down the steep decline, Moses’s hands grips the two tablets of stone. As they get closer Joshua hears people shouting. It’s not hymns, it’s not prayer, it’s not testifying. It sounds like a battle. Joshua had been expecting to find a worshiping, committed people. Instead when he opened the top of the Walls Soft Scoop it wasn’t sweet ice-cream, or even savoury soup, it was a hot stinking mess. Moses is mad, God is mad, and it is only Moses intervention and God’s strong love that prevents the children of Israel from being permanently deleted from the archives of world history.

As Christian’s it is our duty as witnesses to fulfil the positive expectations of  Christ-followers, and debunk unbelievers negative misconception of Christians. Unfortunately we are guilty at times of being a Christian by name only. Our content betrays our label, and we are guilty of false advertising and at times gross spiritual misconduct.