January 31, 2021
January 29, 2021
January 27, 2021
But let's be honest, all voices matter. Everyone wants to be respected. With that said, the movement away from free speech and cancel culture is frightening. Why?
Unity does not mean uniformity. And if I disagree strongly with someone's opinion, I'll still fight for their right to share it. I'd rather know what people are thinking than not. This is one reason open discussion is important. Particularly on a social media platform where people routinely say things and use words they would never think of using face to face.
As we work this out together, I plead with you to exhibit kindness and generosity of spirit. Ask questions and seek to understand. It is a Biblical model after all- and it works!
January 25, 2021
My main concern centers on the fact that recent revisionings of classic attractions, as well as those not so classic such as California Screamin', have brought less charm, less cohesiveness, and less of just about everything good to the affected attractions. The Jungle Cruise is just too well done and too iconic to screw up. Imagineer Marc Davis added just the right touch of humor to this Walt Disney masterpiece. And he left just enough premise to get the attraction going without guests having know the story top to bottom, beginning to end, as they ride.
January 24, 2021
January 22, 2021
January 21, 2021
January 19, 2021
January 18, 2021
Martin Luther King Jr.
January 15, 2021
January 14, 2021
January 12, 2021
January 11, 2021
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January 3, 2021
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! (Isaiah 5:20-21.)
The image at the top is from master Imagineer Marc Davis for the Jungle Cruise, the newest controversial Disney theme park attraction.
(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)
January 2, 2021
Back in the Old Testament, the first part of the Bible, God's people encountered a God who acted in unexpected ways: Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Hagar, Solomon, Saul- the list goes on and on…These were imperfect people encountering a righteous, perfect, and loving God. But it wasn't who they expected him to be. Our God has a long history of doing what He wants, when He wants and involving the people He wants. Rarely if ever does this look like what man expects! Especially, sometimes, the religious man, those who think of themselves as spiritual, or those who think they know everything.
When Jesus arrived on the scene, you can just imagine his new disciples Peter, Andrew, and James and John talking to the new recruits: They probably said, “Expect the Unexpected”, and they wouldn’t be wrong! Jesus’ words and actions were often unexpected- even unwanted. And his questions were piercing!
Follow along with me and read the New Testament book of Mark, verses 8:27-30:
"27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. (That's the northern part of Israel by the Jordan river.) And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”
28 and they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”
29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”
30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him."
I'm going to go through these 11 verses until the end of the chapter, and by doing so, we'll see Jesus challenges us by asking 3 important questions.
This may be the most important question of all time. We all have to decide for ourselves who Jesus is. It's so surprise to readers of this blog that I believe Jesus is the Creator God made man, uncreated by any other and subject to no one, the one and only perfect sacrifice for the sins of man. He's eternal, holy, righteous, and fully worthy of our love, trust, and obedience. But each person has to decide that for themselves.
By this part of the disciples' journey with Him, they have seen Jesus miraculously feed the 5 Thousand, walk on water, cast out demons, heal leapers and paralytics, and raise the dead! This is a pretty impressive resume, I'd say! All these actions gave credibility to his message that He alone is The Way, the Truth and The Life- and that no one would enter Heaven any other way than by relationship with Him.
They’ve lived with Jesus, watched him closely. Supposed messiahs have come and gone. Was he the real deal? They would soon discover the answer for themselves- well, at least Eleven of them would.
So, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say I am?” Everyone jumps in with answers (John the Baptist, Elijah, a prophet). But then Jesus gets more specific - “But who do you say that I am?” It gets quiet, but Peter speaks up: he responds correctly- “You are the Christ!”
“You are the Christ", Christ means the “Anointed One” -the Greek word for the Hebrew term "Messiah". Peter's confession equates Jesus with the Heavenly Father, God in the flesh. We all have to figure this out for ourselves. We will have to give an answer and an account of our lives.
Let’s keep reading. Go to the next few verses, Mark 8:31-33.
31 and he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.
32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of god, but on the things of man.”
Jesus’ probing question, Question #2 -
“Where is Your Focus- My Plans or Yours?
The heart of the question means are we focused on God's eternal kingdom or the one of earth that will pass away?
Gotta love Peter! He's bold, passionate, unstoppable- even fearless! A “Let’s get things done” kind of guy who takes the bull by the horns. Constantly pushing the envelope. Always putting something to the test. He knows what’s right and knows what to do and how to do it in every situation.
First, he’s the rock star student by answering Jesus correctly when everyone else was silent. But then, he gets full of himself and shoots off his mouth. This time, Peter is dead wrong! Peter could not accept was God was doing and how he did it! Peter challenged the very God he just acknowledged as to the wisdom of his plan?!!
He didn’t ask questions for clarity. He just told the creator God of the Universe “NO!” Stupid, ballsy, or just human?
At his core, Peter was a humanist that has encountered the Living God and had to change the way he thinks and lives!
I’m just like Peter sometimes! Aren’t you?
Jesus’ response to Peter is also pretty unexpected! There were important lessons his disciples needed to hear. Very important lessons that would serve them well as they carried out Jesus' mission once He ascended back to Heaven before returning one day in the future:
• God’s ways are not man’s ways. (Isaiah 55:8)
• Followers of God will not always understand what He allows!
Learning this quickly would serve them well because their word was about to be rocked. They would soon be sent out without Jesus to do the same things Jesus did. Then, they would watch him die on the cross, paying the penalty of a criminal, before watching Jesus be raised from the dead, proving He was God.
For all of them but John the Beloved, their lives would also end early and violently because of their faith in Jesus. The Disciples were called to trust Him regardless of the circumstances! We who love Jesus and follow Him have the same choice to make. We either trust him or we don’t. It’s that simple!
Ultimately, it was a season of renewing His purposes for us personally and for the churches that following His Great Commandment and Great Commission. What do His questions mean for the local church?
Maybe God is hitting the “reset button” on the church!
My hunch is that the American church will end up looking more like the Persecuted church. This means the governments hate them, try to eliminate or nominalize believers, and that citizens are free to maim, persecute, and kill them. It also means they have hope, please God by proclaiming Him regardless of their troubles, have the closest of community, see the miraculous, and live the kind of life that brings eternal rewards. It may be easy to see where they are poor, but can you see where they are rich? I can!
There's that option or the local church ends up looking like the world- A Social Club who thinks and acts and lives from a humanistic mindset. Pleasure is all that matters because today is all that matters. There's no eternity, but there's also no hope.
The New Testament church was not only known for caring for each other but for setting the world on fire with the good news! For eight full chapters of the Book of Acts (what happens after Jesus ascends into Heaven) and before the Apostle Paul’s conversion, God used normal people like you and I to spread the Gospel message, and bring God glory by healing the sick, and doing the work of the kingdom. The truth of mans' sin and of eternal judgment was never ignored. In fact, those truths pointed to the need for Jesus... which brought great joy to those who believed.
Did you know “Ekklesia”- the Greek word for church- means “the Called Out Ones”? That term is used in Matthew 16:18. Are we called out by God? Yes, as believers in Jesus, we absolutely are! This means we are called to be different than the world in order to reach it.
What else should 2020 teach us? God’s kingdom and purposes are never thwarted by problems or what looks like defeat. They are proven true and powerful through them!
If you’ve been a believer for long, looking at your life should prove that! You should see times where God has allowed something horrible to happen, but if nothing else, it's taught you to rely on Him and trust Him. As it has many times for me, the worst things that have happened have also brought blessings and great understanding years later. You just have to be patient!We may not always understand the answer to the question of "Why?" but we learn we can always trust our God who is eternally loving and good all the time.
In the midst of a year like 2020 ands the coronavirus, civil unrest, wars, and social injustice, God is still on the throne and his ways are right and pure and honorable! Think of the crucifixion. Jesus’ death was attributed to the wickedness of men but helped complete the purposes of God. This season in our history is no different!
So, first Jesus asks, “Who Am I to You?”. Then he asks, ““Where is your focus- my plans or yours? The eternal kingdom or the one that will pass away?” What's his last compelling question in this chapter of Mark? Let’s read the last four verses.
34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
35 for whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.
36 for what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
37 for what can a man give in return for his soul?
38 for whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Jesus’ provisional question , Question #3 -
“Will You Follow Where I Lead You?”
There’s no middle ground here. We will or we won’t.
For all the unexpected words and actions of Jesus, this is what we can expect:
• Judgment is coming - our individual sin makes us guilty before God
• His love caused the Father to send the Son to die in our place
• We can have eternal life and forgiveness of sin through Him and by no other way
He promises He will not turn you away if you come to him! (John 6:37)
But Jesus has expectations of those who are his:
(Remember, we’re not earning our salvation- these words and actions are an expression of our gratefulness and our new life.)
What does Jesus expect of those of follow him?
• To remain in love with him
• To be faithful, to be true to his Word, to trust He is in control
• To persevere, enduring hardship
• To be His messengers, his hands and feet and mouth to a dying world! Treating people as He would
We will not always understand what God asks us to do! It could be risky, it may not make sense, someone will be upset or it’s not the way things have been done in the past. It's a small price we have to pay.
This isn’t just about the Great Commandment to love and the Great Commission to go out and share the Good News! A vibrant walk with Jesus is an ongoing journey-
Remember the focus is on Him and what he’s doing- not us! We are not to be a people that waits until the end of our life to ask “What would most please Jesus, what does God want of me? Am I furthering His kingdom or what would most bring God glory?” That said, Jesus does call us to die!
John 12:24 says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. “ Since, we all have to die anyway, let’s bear fruit that pleases our God!
The events of 2020 were not a disruption of God’s plan. They were part of it! In 2021 it’s time to move forward!
We just celebrated Jesus birth, His name Immanuel- “God with us”- and He still is with us! Be encouraged! This may be the biggest battle for our minds that this generation will face. God is always at work. He still is!
So friends, be encouraged- He’s with us, He’ll never leave and his power is in us and available to all who are his. Remember we have our church family- we’re not doing this alone!
Those who crucified Jesus didn’t expect him to be resurrected- but He was! Those who don’t know him don’t expect him to return- but He will! No one will escape the coming judgment. Every life will be evaluated. Do you know Him?
Peter acknowledged Jesus as Messiah, argued with the crucifixion, failed so miserably, and denied Jesus three times. He didn’t expect to be reinstated (or even have his feet washed). But God’s love was so deep, human failings didn’t deter Him! Happily, we are in the same grip of His love! Go forth!
(Images from Crello.)