Archive | April, 2018

the third thief; after easter 3

18 Apr

the third thief ; after easter 3

Luke 23:39-43 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!”But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!”And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

Corinthians 9:15 New International Version (NIV)

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift

Jesus is the third thief among these two confessed thieves. He steals our lives from back from the evil one. He is giving his earthly life to cover us, to lavish us as our prodigal, extravagant Saviour with his indescribable gift: eternal life in his kingdom.

It is an unimaginable, indescribable gift. It is His life for ours. A glorious gift and theft.

Bilbo Baggins is a type of this giving, thieving Christ.

Bilbo Baggins, the creation of J.R.R. Tolkien, is a hobbit. A usually quiet, sedate creature, he is caught up in a wild adventure along with the Wizard Gandalf and a troop of Dwarves to seek out some treasure. To prove himself as a burglar to the disbelieving Dwarves, Bilbo makes a bold move: he will steal treasure from Smaug the sleeping dragon. Here Tolkien describes the theft:

“Then Bilbo fled [with the cup]. But the dragon did not wake – not yet – but shifted into other dreams of greed and violence, lying there in his stolen hall while the little hobbit toiled back up the long tunnel. His heart was beating and a more fevered shaking was in his legs than when he was going down, but still he clutched the cup, and his chief thought was: “I’ve done it! This will show them. ‘More like a grocer than a burglar’ indeed! Well, we’ll hear no more of that.” ‘(12.17)

Bilbo steals for the approval of dwarves. This is what motivates him and drives him to perform. It is what Bilbo serves and risks his life for: he worships the idol of being a people/dwarf pleaser. In doing so he becomes a thief.

Dwarves, on the other hand, worship gold, treasure and earthly wealth. They risk their lives (and some will die on Lonely mountain by tale’s end) for these riches.

Smaug, the menacing and sleeping dragon, has still another master— greed: ‘Dragons may not have much real use for all their wealth, but they know it to an ounce as a rule, especially after longpossession; and Smaug was no exception. He had passed from an uneasy dream (in which a warrior, altogether insignificant in size but provided with a bitter sword and great courage, figured most unpleasantly) to a doze, and from a doze to wide waking.’ (12.20)

Smaug is a hoarder, a counter. He knows the price and whereabouts of all his possessions. This is what he lives for: power in long possession. He can’t use the wealth. But wealth is his power source and what he worships.

Each of J.R.R. Tolkien’s creations seek life through power: power of approval from others; the power of riches and the power of possession. None can be generous as they are controlled by power. The Dwarf King Thorin and the Dragon Smaug die in their desires. Only Bilbo lives. How?

Much later in his life Bilbo gives away his treasured possession—the Ring of Power- to his orphaned nephew Frodo. It is only by giving earthly power away can Bilbo sail into the eternal life in the lands of the elves at the narrative’s close. So…

What are we to do in light of God’s indescribable gift?

Give up power, or any desire for power, as Christ our Gift lived. Again, let’s look to the apostle Paul.

In Philippians 2, The Message version, Paul writes,

‘if you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life…love each other …Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.’

Put yourself aside. Become like the Giver: love, give and extend helping generous hands. This is the only way to a fully loved life; to eternal life, to real power.

Give all away. All ways.

Note: a portion of the above material appeared in the Stewardship blog under Charles Osewalt.

after easter 3

13 Apr

On holding2 after easter 3

1 Corinthians 15

‘ …you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.’(bold, my emphasis)

Below is a reflection on how what I hold and what holds me makes my home. Paul tells the church in Corinth to ‘hold.’ They are told to hold firmly to the one home that can never be taken or withheld; the home that never, ever disappoints or hurts; this home is the ‘hands’ that reach and receive: the word of God. This is the only true home. And I have returned to this home after holding the following reflective, essential questions-

eq (essential questions) :

thoughts, questions on ‘holding’

what am I holding? what is holding me? Into whose hands have I placed myself? Into, into whose hands, to whom, will I (be) long to?

and then what am I withholding? what do I think, imagine, feel, sense, is being withheld from me ? And why is it being withheld?

finally, who holds me, who has held me in the past…who lets me deeply, deeply allows me to hold them

And, on, in my past ?

who held me firmly, lovingly? and today, and tomorrow!?

who shall hold me and I them?

my safe-home is where I can hold and feel held. Home.

His word holds as I hold. Hold.

rise 2

5 Apr

our risen Jesus of 1 John 4:19

We love fo He first
loved 1 John 4:19 the Message

“We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.”

We sing for He first sang over
us Zephaniah 3: 17 NIV

17 “ The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”

We can pray as first prayed over and then taught
us prayers Luke 11: 1: 10

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:

hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.’
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.’
And lead us not into temptation.’

We meditate because He listens, He ears our breathe.

The Hebrew word behind spirit is ruach, and it means “air in motion.” It is the same word for “breath.” It also means “life.” Breathe is air in motion.

In John 3 Jesus tells Nicodemus: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You. must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit”

Our life, our birth, is breathe. He hears, gives: Jesus is the breathe.

We walk because He walks with, among all.

Galatians 5: 16-17

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”

We fellowship because He ate, sat, slept, thirsted with
Pharisees, sinners and disciples

Luke 7: 36-37

We laugh because He loved

We cry as He
wept over death
John 11: 35

‘Jesus wept’

We serve for He first
served us

John 19:30
“It is finished.”

He knows us; He feels us; He touches, breathes, understands me, us, better than we know ourselves

Jesus is closer to me than I am to

He rose for ‘better resurrections.’

Hebrews 11: 35

“Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.”


after easter 2, our risen Jesus

4 Apr

our risen Jesus of 1 John 4:19

We love fo He first

We sing for He first sang over

We can pray as first prayed over and then taught us prayers

We meditate because He
listens to our breathes

We walk because He walks with, among, all

We fellowship because He ate, sat, slept, thirsted with Pharisees, sinners and disciples and, especially, …me

We laugh because He loved

We cry as He wept over death

We serve,  for He first
served us

He knows us; He feels us; He touches, breathes, understands me, us, better than we know ourselves

Jesus is closer to me than I am to

He rose for us


2 Apr

his Robe, our clothes

Romans 13: 14

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ

Paul speaks of the ‘full’ armour of God in Ephesians 6. Worn on the outside of a light tunic, armour’s basic purpose is to cover and protect from attacks. In prison, chained to a Roman soldier, Paul had the time to pause and think of how this armour would protect a warrior.

But to walk daily, among people in a town or city, a tunic or robe would provide light flexible covering in the arid, hot Mid East. This is what Jesus wore as he walked.

It is also what the soldiers who crucified him gambled for,

The soldiers nailed Jesus to a cross. Then the soldiers gambled with dice to decide who would get Jesus’ clothes. The soldiers sat there and continued watching Jesus. The soldiers put a sign above Jesus’ head with the charge against him written on it. The sign said: “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

Matthew 27:35-37 NLT

(See also Mark 15)

His clothes were not torn or discarded. Armed soldiers desired, gambled for them.

And His robe especially,

His robe was almost certainly made by his mother; designed and woven for him as a young child to be given to him when he became of age to travel, to walk. It was her blessing for a loved child. Of one seam, it could not be ripped apart.

But our Lord’s body was shredded and torn, wounded and ripped. His clothing was not.


Paul tells us in Romans to be imitators of Jesus continually; to walk as he walked; to forgive as he forgave; to pray as he worshipped. It are to put on Jesus’ clothes because these robes and tunics are His coverings, His love.

Nothing can tear this , His love, His robe. Nothing can separate us from these clothes as they are more than our flesh itself. His love can never be torn from us.

As Paul states in Romans 8

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,

As Mary chose and designed her baby son‘s swaddling clothes and robe, so has He perfected clothes for us-clothes that can not be torn: Clothes of His love.

Wear His robe today.