Salvation by invitation

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“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:6-7

Jesus does not force His way into anyone’s life. He puts value on our free will. He treats each person with dignity, even those who reject Him. The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.

Just think about that a minute. The God who made us is asking if we would like to have a relationship with Him. The God who made us — who could just as easily snuff out our lives by shuffling His feet (the earth is His footstool) — has issued a challenge for us to seek out a relationship with Him. He invites us to ask, seek and knock.

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Pebbles thrown

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Well, I’m overwhelmed. I am awash in kind words and well wishes. I’m so enjoying reading all your stories and comments. So much so that I’m going to need another day to respond to them all. Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment.

I remember when Mark Heard died there were hundreds of comments — many deep, and personal — on his Facebook page, and I couldn’t help but think how sad it was that he never got to read them. I feel like I’m getting to read some of mine without dying!

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What is a birthday?

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  • a chance to go to a ballgame and see your name on the jumbotron.
  • a chance to celebrate being born. Being born is a big deal. It means you were thought up in the mind of God. You have a unique identity. You have gifts. You are written on the palm of God’s hand. You have a mansion in glory. The Son of God died for you. The angels rejoiced when you came into God’s kingdom. It means you have a personality and a soul. You count. You are loved. You will live forever as a display to God’s glory. Your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
  • a chance to find out how many friends you have online that you didn’t know about.
  • a chance to hear from friends you did.
  • as Robert reminded me, it’s a free trip around the sun.
  • a chance to find out who God has touched through you.
  • a chance to blow out candles (1 candle per decade, please).
  • a chance to get a free dessert.
  • a chance to do something for yourself guilt free.
  • a complimentary discount card from the hardware store.
  • a chance to go back to bed for 40 minutes which I am going to do right now.

If you care to send a gift, a donation to the Catch would be much appreciated.

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Oh no, John has another birthday! How many is that now?

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Fully human

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We ended yesterday’s Catch with a quote from this passage; today we start with it because it shows us the Jesus no one was expecting.

“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” Matthew 11:16-19

Ever been around people you just can’t please? No matter what you do, they’ll find something wrong with it. Well that was the Pharisees, as it is with anyone who lives by the law. The law makes you sour. It makes everyone else your business. It always makes you the judge, because if you are going to live by the law, you must show that you are following it, and that is most easily done by pointing out those who are not. Enter the judge.

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Dancing Chaplains

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Marti and I attended a Los Angeles Angels vs. Houston Astros baseball game last night from a different perspective — at least different for me — from Suite 42 on the club level; the Charles Schwab Suite. We were the guests of a Charles Schwab representative whom I had met over 45 years ago when he was Director of Student Ministries at Azusa Pacific University, a position he held before eventually taking his current job at Charles Schwab. He had heard about me from a mutual friend of ours and wanted to see me after all these years and tell me how much he had been impacted by the event where we first met. It was a conference for chaplains of Christian colleges nationwide, and apparently one of the things I did was lead some music during a communion service. And as memory would have it — at least his memory — I got a number of the chaplains up and dancing around the communion table.

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In the world, but trying not to be

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“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” John 17:15

Our friend, Arnold, who is newly born again at the age of eighty-one, is in the hospital with influenza A, which, for the rest of us, is basically the common flu. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for someone in Arnold’s condition, it is. For Arnold, the common flu could be deadly. He’s been in intensive care now for two days. We may have to start wearing surgical masks around him; not for our sakes, but for his. We would be protecting him from us. We could have a touch of the flu and hardly know it but still pass the germs on to Arnold.

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Love defined

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I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.  John 15:9-17

These red letters form part of Jesus’ final words to His disciples. They took place in the upper room where they had their last supper together and Jesus gave them the sacrament of the bread and the wine to remember His death. They are recorded in John chapters 13-17 and being that they were Christ’s last words to His disciples, they carry an extra weight of importance. In less than 24 hours of speaking these words, Jesus will be hanging on a cross.

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Who did Jesus come for?

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“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”

Why is this a revolutionary agenda? Because it announces that God is on the side of the little people — people with issues — people on the hurting side of life, those left holding the short end of the stick. Since when are we championing the poor, the captives, the blind and the oppressed? Since Jesus came.

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