Written by and Photo Credit: Janet Mueller - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
It was a dark time during the Christmas season after my second son was born 30 years ago. I was sleep deprived, in pain, and probably suffering from postpartum depression. There was a popular Christian song at that time called, “You’ll See a Man,” sung by the group, Harvest. Over and over, the words to the chorus rang through my tired head.
You’ll see a man
Acquainted with your sorrows
You’ll see His eyes
Sharing in your tears.
You’ll see His arms
Never lost their hold on you.
Lift your eyes, you’ll see the Lord
I wondered, “Why did the songwriter pen it that way — you’ll see a MAN?” I concluded he was emphasizing the humanity of Jesus so we would know He can and does relate to us on all levels. I needed to hear that and wanted to know more so I broke open my Bible and began to study for myself the humanity of Jesus. What I discovered stunned me and remains with me to this day. There are so many rich aspects to Jesus’ humanity; let me share just a couple of the things I learned.
Jesus identified with us in our humanity by calling Himself the Son of Man. In the gospels, that title was used 81 times, but only by Jesus, and only referring to Himself. He used that phrase when talking about His work, His suffering, His future glorification, and His second coming. In all these things, He identified as a human being. That is why “He is not ashamed or embarrassed to introduce us as his brothers and sisters!” (Hebrews 2:11 TPT). He is one of us.
Especially since I had just given birth, it was interesting for me to discover that a baby will only possess the mitochondria inherited from the woman’s egg at conception. In other words, the genetic pathway of mitochondrial DNA can only be traced through the woman and not through the man, a well-known fact in forensic science. Like all humans born, Jesus inherited the mitochondrial DNA of his mother. This explains how Jesus was truly a human; He wasn’t just identifying as human in a notional way. He had inherited all the DNA of his mother, making him a human being. 100% human and 100% God.
When we are in physical or emotional pain, extreme exhaustion, or at our wits’ end and tempted to despair, it helps to know that Jesus was completely human; and therefore, He is sympathetic and compassionate towards us. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15 HCSB).
Jesus is fully God and fully man, united in one person forever! He didn’t become a man for just 33 years and then go back to the way things were before His incarnation. Although He was always God, He took on a body permanently and forever became the God-Man when He was conceived in Mary’s womb. However, since His resurrection, He has a glorified body, like ours will be someday, but it’s a body nonetheless. Even right now, as you are reading this, He is at the right hand of the Father, as the God-Man, interceding for you. When this understanding broke upon me, I cried out, “Now that’s a God I can love!”
Thirty years have passed since that long, cold winter with a newborn and a toddler and a heart that implored, “God, do you see me?” But the revelation of the permanent, remarkable change that Jesus undertook for us in His incarnation remains with me forever.
Scripture for Meditation: “This is why he had to be a Man and take hold of our humanity in every way. He made us his brothers and sisters and became our merciful and faithful King-Priest* before God; as the One who removed our sins to make us one with him. He suffered and endured every test and temptation, so that he can help us every time we pass through the ordeals of life” (Hebrews 2:17,18 TPT).
* The Aramaic can be translated “so that he would be the nurturing Lord of the king-priests.”
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry
“Jesus said, ‘I am resurrection and the life, … And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.’” (John 11:25-26a) This is a declaration Jesus made to Martha, sister of Lazarus, in response to her having confronted Him for his delay after being told her brother, Lazarus, was near death.
The setting is Bethany, just a couple miles from Jerusalem. The timing was just days before the Feast of the Passover as Jesus was making his way toward Jerusalem for the completion of His earthly mission, and He fully understood all that awaited Him there. The scriptures do not provide the exact time between the raising of Lazarus and the crucifixion of Jesus but best estimates are that it was only about two weeks. John 11:54 tells us that once the Chief Priest and Pharisees had heard about the raising of Lazarus that they began plotting in earnest for the death of both, Jesus and Lazarus; therefore, Jesus retreated to Ephraim, a city about fourteen miles, or a good days journey, north of Jerusalem. Then, according to John 12:1, Jesus returned to Bethany and to the home of Lazarus the night before he rode very publicly, and triumphantly, into Jerusalem being hailed as King of the Jews.
Today, my thoughts are drawn to the quotation from John 11:25, “I am resurrection and the life, says the Lord.” The word resurrection means raising from the dead. That is, restored to life. But the fact that Jesus used both resurrection and life in the same sentence indicates that He was considering them as separate entities. Indeed, as we consider the context and content of the story - all that Jesus has taught us - as we relate these words to our faith in Jesus, we begin to understand that He is speaking not only of those who have died and been resurrected to eternal life in heaven, but also to those who are living and are sustained in life through our relationship with Him.
The existence of human life is usually defined as that possessing a beating heart. In more recent times it has also included a functioning brain, the measure of brain waves. But we are more than flesh and blood; we are body, soul, and spirit. These three working together make up life. Therefore, true life exists only when all three are working in unison to add vision and purpose to our existence.
For sure, Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection opened the way. He made it possible for us, weak and imperfect as we are, to ascend into heaven and have eternal life. He also desires that we live life in its fullness, here and now, on this earth. And this requires that we be in communion with Him. “I am resurrection and I am life says the Lord.” He promises us life even after our earthly life has ended, but His desire is for us to live the fullness of life; the life that only He can provide, every day we spend on earth.
Jesus said to Martha, "Did I not say to you that if you believe you would see the glory of God?" Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” Lazarus who had been bound hand and foot in graveclothes came forth and Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.” (John 11:40-41,44) Jesus says the same to all that bind us, “Loose him and let him go.”
Jesus has stated that He “has come to bring life and life more abundantly.” (John 10:10) This means He wants you to live a resurrected life now, here, in this place, in the place He has called you, without delay.
Enjoy your Easter and be blessed.
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - The Reclaim Ministry
“Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him (Jesus) to be received up, that He steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,...” (Luke 9:51)
We are in the fifth week of Lent, looking toward Palm Sunday and our celebration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. So, my thoughts are drawn to the activities of Jesus and his disciples as they began their journey to Jerusalem. However, as I read through the Gospels, it doesn’t take long before I realize that his wasn’t a headlong rush to the Holy City. Indeed, it won’t be until ten chapters later that Luke tells us about Jesus’ trek from Bethphage to Jerusalem riding on the back of a donkey while being hailed as King of the Jews. And a lot will have happened in the meantime.
We can’t herein provide detail of everything that Jesus did, but just to provide a sense of where Jesus went during this time, let’s try to track his movements a bit. First of all, it can be argued that this journey began at the Mount of Transfiguration. (Luke 9:28) It was there that Jesus was observed in the presence of Moses and Elijah and was transfigured into the fullness of the glory of God. And in Luke 9:31 it says that these Old Testament prophets “spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.” A clear reference to His trial and its result.
Now the Mount of Transfiguration is some 120 miles north of Jerusalem. Even by the most direct route, and with a purposeful walk, it would take at least 15 days to make the journey. But the Gospels also testify that Jesus didn’t take the direct route. In fact, even as He had his eyes, (and his heart) set on Jerusalem, He remained first and foremost about completing the mission His Father has set for Him. And following the chronology of the sum of the gospels we can assume that He spent as long as six months getting from The Mount of Transfiguration to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. We can track his movement from The Mountain back to Galilee where he spent quite a bit of time in and around Capernaum. From there He went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles before moving out into the Judean countryside and visiting friends in Bethany. Then we find him ministering in Perea, on the opposite side of the Sea of Galilee, before finally returning to Bethany and Bethphage to prepare for His final entrance into Jerusalem.
Does all this moving about indicate that Jesus had lost his focus on Jerusalem, that He had forgotten what He heard on the Mount of Transfiguration and of the Father’s direction to head for Jerusalem? Not in the least. If anything, Jesus was even more aware of His mission and the timing of it. Perhaps He felt a new sense of urgency as He prepared His disciples for the trials and persecution they would have to endure. At the same time, He needed to prepare them to carry on the work they would be called to do in His name, and He was very aware of the schedule that had been laid out for Him, -- that He be in Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. The place and the timing of Christ’s Passion would be critical for powerfully demonstrating how Jesus, the Son of God, was our Passover Lamb, being sacrificed that we might live. They, and we, needed to see and understand how this was necessary to fulfill all the Law and the Prophets as He had said was His purpose.
But all this is more than just a call to reflect upon some details of Jesus’ Galilean ministry. It is a call for us to consider our own walks with Him. Perhaps some of you have received a direction from the Lord by way of the Holy Spirit and set your eyes on the journey with anticipation of its completion, only to discover that there were a few stops to be made along the way? Perhaps you have, or will find yourself on a side trail, even a reversal of direction for a season, before one day arriving at the place to which He has been calling you all along.
The Lord is steadfast. He is also kind and considerate of matters in our lives, those things which are important to us. But if we too, remain steadfast in our trust of Him, we will arrive at the end of our journey precisely when and where He wants us to be.
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry
The calendar has turned to March 15 and I have recalled the phrase, “Beware the Ides of March!” Just why, I don’t know, but some 60 plus years ago this phrase was implanted in my head by a well-meaning literature teacher under the pretense that somewhere, somehow, I would benefit by knowing even this little bit of wisdom from a play written by William Shakespeare 500 years earlier. Even worse, the play concerns an event in the history of the Roman Empire; the assassination of Julius Caesar. Perhaps, there is some benefit to my knowing something about this period of ancient history (even if I can’t today lay my finger on it) but why would such a detail pop into my mind and how can I even know the story is true? After all, is it really important that some ancient soothsayer warned Caesar to be especially careful on this one day in March of 44BC?
Okay, enough of this rambling. It’s giving me a headache and probably has you ready to throw this into the trash. But it has also caused me to consider a later Roman official who raised a similar question. Pilate the procurator of Judea, while questioning Jesus about charges that He was claiming to be king of the Jews, would ask directly, “Are you a king?” Jesus responded. “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” So, Pilate’s response was a sarcastic, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38)
Perhaps Pilate’s question doesn’t seem to be so far-fetched in today’s world where the truth is so easily tossed aside to accommodate every whim of man and seen as a detriment more than an attribute. But for our purposes, let us ask that question and take it seriously. What is truth? More specifically, what is truth to the Christian?
Probably, your ready answer is, “God is truth.” And that would be correct; it is true because He says it is. But how do we know? Well, it begins with faith. I have maintained that four of the most important words in the Bible are its very first. “In the beginning God...” (Gen.1:1) This requires faith. If we cannot accept by faith these four words, we will have a very difficult time understanding and believing anything else God has to say to us. God was first and He will always be first. This is what Jesus meant in the verse from John 18 when he said, “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” Paraphrased, this says, “Everyone who by faith believes I am who I say I am, listens and is obedient to My voice.”
The second part of knowing the truth is experience. We learn who and what to trust through life’s experiences. In Luke 7, we have the story of how John the Baptist, while in prison, had heard the good reports of Jesus’ work and sent messengers to Him inquiring if he was “the Coming One, or should they seek another.” Jesus’ response was, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
This is the answer to Pilate’s question, and it is the answer for anyone who asks, “What is truth.” God is truth, He has shown us this truth by giving us the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and He has embedded this truth in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Knowledge of this truth began in us the moment we first believed, and it has grown in us, and continues to grow in us as we faithfully experience Him, now and forever.
We may ask, “What is truth?” But the answer comes in knowing Who is truth.
Written by Peggy Lundy - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Photo Credit: Rhonda Logan Bailey
In the mid '90s, I was unemployed and struggling to make ends meet. My money ran out and no jobs were available. I was miserable and depressed, grumpy and angry with God for not providing for me. He then encouraged me to begin my prayer time with thankfulness instead of complaints.
As I began practicing gratitude, He began to provide. Time and time again, needs would arise and each one would be met. I lived like that for about three years. Then the provision dried up again. But before the work and money were gone, I got a call. I was asked to be a nanny to three homeschooled kids and two special needs foster kids whose parents had just separated. I took the job even though it didn't pay enough to live on but, by then, I was walking and living in gratitude and trust.
One evening a week or two later, I had been invited to some friends' home for dinner. The mom called and asked me to pick up a gallon of milk on my way. “I will pay you back,” she assured me. So, with my last $5.00, I spent half of it on the milk. We had a great evening, but she forgot to pay me back. She could afford it, but I couldn't! I was about to ask for the money when I heard the Lord whisper to my heart, "Just give it to her. Don't cling to your poverty; be generous." So I did. I never said a word about the money.
I don't think she ever paid me back. However, within a few days, that same friend came to me and said she and her husband had been praying for me. They believed in the ministry I was having to this family going through divorce. They gave me $200 a month for the next six or eight months until the nanny job ended and another job came my way. It was enough each month.
I am convinced had I not been thankful, trusting, obedient, and generous with my little bit, then His greater provision would not have come.
It’s a little like the boy with his five loaves and two fish. If he had kept his lunch that day, and not given it to Jesus, then he would have fed only himself. Instead, he became part of one of the widest-reaching miracles of Jesus’ ministry.
Ask: What are we doing with the little bit in our hands? Are we generously giving it to Jesus and investing it in His Kingdom? Are we allowing Him to provide what we need? Or are we keeping it to spend on ourselves?
Pray: Father, please give us hearts that are so abandoned to trusting You that our generosity knows no limits.