Sunday, December 18, 2011

Your King Comes

And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD,' whether they hear or refuse to hear."  Ezekiel 3:11

Your King comes in words of the Gospel.  He seeks you out by using the mouths of others, or by reading of scripture.

The man had dialed a wrong number and reached me at work.  I did a little bit of digging to refer him to the correct phone number.  I talked with him a little bit, and then he began confessing some of his doubt and insecurity to me.  I was able to remind him of Jesus’ forgiveness of sin, and the assurance we have.  “You are baptized, right?”  “Yes.”  “You are adopted.”  He hung up the phone and we were both in Christ, peaceful.

In the downtown Holiday Parade, our church had a float.  I walked alongside the float, wishing onlookers “Merry Christmas” and handing out Nativity stickers to children whose parents gave permission.  I was smiling, most people smiled back.  A few said “No thanks” to the Nativity stickers, so I just continued on.  There were a lot of people ahead of me to greet for Jesus’ sake!  I came to one man, and said “Merry Christmas” to him and his response was, “Stop the brainwashing”.  I carried on, but could hear him behind me yelling “Stop the brainwashing” louder and louder.  It was evident the gospel message was coming through the float loud and clear. 

Your King comes in sacraments.  He names you and claims you in baptism.  He continues to come by giving you grace in the Lord’s Supper, where He tells us, “This is my body for you” and “This is my blood for you”, the blood of the new covenant.
The first time I partook of the Lord’s Supper while believing Jesus’ words of what the elements are I was giddy with joy.  It is unexplainable other than to say Jesus’ words are true.  He does not lie to us when He says He is the bread of life, and His  blood is the new covenant.

Your King comes to you as a human, born as a dependent baby, to insignificant parents.  He was born to forgive the world of sin, to become sin for us. He became one of us to save us. 

Your King comes.

To see more of Your King Comes:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

My Joy

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18
I have a friend like that. It does not matter what I say to this friend, he never rejects me. Fairweather friends are many. Some linger awhile longer, some leave quickly. Some take and take, without giving. A listening ear is all that they want, without having to listen in return. For some, the newness wears off and they wander to chase a newer bauble. I am not a bauble, so I bid them farewell and Godspeed.

My brother-friend told me that I should expect to be rejected and despised. Those things should not surprise me, but somehow they always do. When life becomes challenging, my one true friend doesn't leave. He listens to all my whining and heartaches. Patiently, he listens and shows me my faults. Even bringing up embarrassing emotions, he shows me without shaming me and listens. I am so thankful for this friend that sticks closer than a brother.

Do you know him? His name is Jesus.

He told me long ago that he was despised and rejected, and all of us that belong to Him should not expect to be treated any differently. Thank you, Jesus, for sticking closer to me than a brother. For being the faithful One that loves me, with all my faults and imperfections. He loves you, too, dear reader. Praise God!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mourning Rises

Miles and miles apart, almost 2000 miles. But the fondness and love remained. Encouraged and encouraging is how I think of her.

When Madeline was young, she told me, "Draw her now as a baby. While she looks this way to you, draw her now. Do not wait."

We grew up miles and miles apart, many more than 2000 miles apart. She in Mexico City, me in San Jose. Two different countries, two different cultures. She fascinated me. So different, yet the same.

"Maybe you have grandma's artistic ability. Someone in our family should!" I tell her it's really in my brother.

The grief grips my belly and tears rise in the bottom of my eyes. They leak over and down my cheeks leaving tiny rivulets that I try to brush away lest someone will see. The little streams arrive at unexpected times.

Cousin, I miss you.

Juanita, March 10, 1952 – October 27, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Say What Herr Doctor Luther?

From all this it is easy to understand why faith has such great power, and why no good works, nor even all good works put together, can compare with it; since no work can cleave to the word of God, or be in the soul. Faith alone and the word reign in it; and such as is the word, such is the soul made by it; just as iron exposed to fire glows like fire, on account of its union with the fire. It is clear then that to a Christian man his faith suffices for everything, and that he has no need of works for justification. But if he has no need of works, neither has he need of the law; and, if he has no need of the law, he is certainly free from the law, and the saying is true: "The law is not made for a righteous man." (1 Tim. i. 9.) This is that Christian liberty, our faith, the effect of which is, not that we should be careless or lead a bad life, but that no one should need the law or works for justification and salvation.

I read that at least three times. Stunned.

Realizing how difficult it is to hear that those that live by faith have no need of works, and hence no need of the law. We think we can obey the law and thereby perform good works and Father will love us more than some other person.

Jesus accomplished our justification for us apart from our help. Father approves of us, apart from our works. Do not fret, dear Christian, over your works. Live by the faith given to you from above!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

To Be or Not To Be

"Remember Dad's 60th birthday?"

"Yes, I do. All us kids were here. It was great."

"Look what I found in Mom's closet. It's the family tree chart that I made for Dad's birthday."

"Oh, wow! That's great. I had forgotten that you made that for Dad."

"Goes back to the old country. Look at all the -dotter and -sen names. The dates are late 1700's."

"That's cool to see again, Kevin. Glad you found it."

"Am I on there?" queries the daughter of the chart's creator.

"Yeah, you're there, Liz." Dad points to the chart. "I labeled you as 'Fetus Johnson' under your mom and I."

"What, Dad?!"

Dad laughs.

"Why would you label me as a fetus?"

"Mom was still pregnant with you."

Dad laughs some more. Never making eye contact with Liz.

I am uncomfortable and look towards Liz.

Her eyes well up with tears as she turns on her heels to hide her face.

May the Holy Spirit continue to open the eyes of the daughter to see the truth that her father cannot see. Amen.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Friend to Sinners

World War II employed many strategies to conquer. One strategy was to use paratroopers to infiltrate enemy territory. They would jump from planes and land secretly behind enemy lines. Not desiring to be seen by the enemy until they arrived at the desired location and time, they remained hidden. The effect they wanted to have on their opponent could happen only on the terms of the paratroopers.

The Triune God of Christianity is much like the paratroopers. He shows Himself when and where He determines for maximum effect. He is not revealed in places where we seek Him. He hides until the location and timing are accurate and effective. We are naturally suspicious of God and do not trust His revelation so we seek Him where we think He is, in our speculations, systematics, and guesses. Some seek him in native and pagan religions; others seek him in nature; still others seek him behind the whys of their systematic theologies. These are misplaces. Instead, God reveals Himself where we do not seek Him.

We often look for God in our why questions. Why does God allow suffering? Why does God allow evil? Why, why, why. We have an endless supply of why questions that are answered by speculation. These speculations often build theologies. In some of the theologies, it is difficult to tell God from the devil! Does God reveal Himself in our why queries? He hides from answering our whys. He reveals Himself in Word, preached and read, and in Sacraments. He tells us He is a friend to sinners, He creates all things new, He kills our old nature to create a new creature with His Word.

The triune God reveals Himself in the Spirit by whom we receive the Father's reconciling work through the Son. The Son will not be found apart from being begotten by the Father and raised from the dead; the Father won't be found without sending the Son to do the reconciling work on the cross; and the Holy Spirit will not be found without glorifying both the Father and the Son by giving us understanding of the Gospel, that is for us and for our sake.

Thanks be to Christ Jesus our Lord, who quells our endless whys of non-faith!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Joy of Dependence

American culture is wrapped up in independence. We won our independence from King George III, we celebrate that independence every Fourth of July. Our modern, or post modern, culture tells us we do not need to accept the status quo, we are to be free from the chains that bound our forefathers. Often those chains are what was once called a sin, they are now referred to as an alternative lifestyle; whether it is gay marriage, or living together without benefit of marriage.

All of us, believers and unbelievers, are dependent upon our Creator. We are creatures that cannot live independently of Him. We are given life and breath; our very being is a gift from our Creator. For a Christian, this is very freeing news.

Christians can enjoy their earthiness; their creatureliness; their being. We have been freed to be fully dependent on Jesus. We can take delight in the things that bring us joy; whether it is out in nature, enjoying animals, splashing in a pool, walking a mile or two, playing an instrument, reading a well-written book, being with other creatures. We no longer need to hide from Him, as Adam and Eve did. We can have full fellowship thanks to the completed work of Jesus for our sake, the forgiveness of our sin.

There is freedom in our dependence.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Gleanings from Kolb's Bound Choice

God-chases. I love that term that Robert Kolb uses in this book I am currently reading. God-chases refers to the human activity of attempting to seek out the Hidden God, rather than receiving the Revealed God. The Hidden God is the innermost parts of God that are not revealed in scripture. To truly see God we look at Jesus.

>which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. ~ Col 2, ESV

It's not possible for creatures to find out everything about God. When we go on God-chases, in light that our minds are darkened by sin, we will end up with a tamed God that looks like us, or is to our liking. Searching for God apart from his Word leads to arrogance or despair.

The world is black and white. Luther has said, "Outside of Christ is nothing but Satan, apart from grace nothing but wrath, apart from light only darkness, apart from the Way only error, apart from the Truth only a lie, apart from Life only death." It is either in Christ, or not in Christ. There is no grey area here.

When we accept and believe the revealed God and his Word, he will also reveal the hidden God.

Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? ~John 14, ESV

As an example, when other Christians deny Mary as the Theotokos, they cannot see the hidden God. They will not look at Jesus being born of a woman. Fearing God will be weakened by saying that Mary is Jesus' mother, they reject Theotokos outright due to their darkened, sinful minds.

It is also so regarding sacraments, where Jesus promises He will meet us. Sacramentarians are made by those God-chasers, as they arrogantly claim to know how, where, why, and when God will or will not work in our lives.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Death of Self in the Words of Christ

So often I hear other Christians talk about how they are, essentially, getting better and better every day, in every way. Is that any different from the Pharisees that Jesus called hypocrites? Outwardly, desperately, trying to appear beautiful; much like a Jane Austen character putting on airs for polite society. Inwardly, they seeth against others, jockey for a higher position, compete, in secret, lest their sin be exposed.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. ~ Matthew 23, ESV

Jesus comes to create us new. He died and so must we. Why do we expect anything less? Are we his disciples or not?

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. ~ Romans 7, ESV

For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. ~ Romans 7, ESV

We are raised to new life in our baptism. The promises are attached to our baptism. Believe that as a Christian. It is God's Holy Word and Promise to you.

Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. ~ Romans 6, ESV

The love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it. The love of man comes into being through that which is pleasing to it. ~ Heidelberg Disputation, Number 28

Therefore sinners are »attractive« because they are loved; they are not loved because they are attractive: For this reason the love of man avoids sinners and evil persons. Thus Christ says: For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Matt. 9:13).
~ Portion of the proofs of thesis 28

So be happy that it is by your death through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you are made a new creation. The solution to the demands of the Law, is the death of the demands of the law. The Creator creates us new.

Your sins are forgiven for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Feeling Forgiven Part Two

Upon first realizing the gospel of our forgiveness of sin for the sake of Jesus, we can react in many ways: tears, crying, happiness, joy. Ultimately the underlying response of all the outward manifestations is great joy.

In our faith life, we sometimes must know we are forgiven by the words of Christ through scripture or the mouths of our friends. We may not feel forgiven, but the truth is that Jesus has declared us to be so. Then there are times when we do feel the forgiveness of Jesus. Those times are full of joy and feeling light as a feather.

When I am aware of my forgiven state I share the gospel with others more freely, without hindrance. The joy bubbles over and life is enjoyable. There are times when it is a quiet joy, as well. No matter what others say, I know my state with my Savior, the lover of my soul.

Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. ~Luke 7, ESV

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Feelings of Forgiveness

Feelings. They can blind us, lead us astray, overwhelm us, color our vision so we cannot see truth. Emotions are inescapable; they are part of us. Do you remember first falling in love? The feeling is so overwhelming you cannot think straight. No matter what the object of your love says or does, they are idolized.

When we are captured by Jesus' love, what He says deserves belief. He is an object of love worthy of worship. He speaks truth to us about who we are. He tells us we are forgiven, even when we don't feel forgiven. The sin in our life, revealed through the truth of the God's word, reminds us we are sinners. We can use that truth to beat ourselves up over and over. Satan whispers it to us to get us to a point where we want to reject Jesus' gifts to us. Sometimes others, including preachers, use it to try to shame us into obedience.

The truth is Jesus has forgiven you. You can trust what Jesus tells you.

And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26, ESV

"Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter" Mark 3, ESV

And he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." Luke 7, ESV

I am writing to you, little children,because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. 1 John 2, ESV

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

No Way Around Jesus

Any doctrine that says you can go around Jesus for salvation is not a theology of the cross. Salvation is only found by going through Jesus. We cannot avoid the Human-God's life; His bloody, violent death; nor His glorious resurrection, and find salvation. We must go through Him.

So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. John 10, NASB

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14, NASB

Anything different from what is revealed to us from Holy Scripture is false. False teaching damages people by teaching doubt of God's Word, then doubt upon those who teach truth. It places a person in a precarious place of unfaith. There are trust issues that cloud the vision of people that have been under false teaching.

To reject the death and resurrection of Jesus is a false teaching sown by Satan. Not all religions have Jesus, but they all contain a tinge of truth. The truth they share is usually from God's law. Do not lie, do not murder, do not steal, and more, are clear to non-Christians. What is evident to unbelievers belongs to the second table of the law, or how we treat one another. The difference between the Christian religion and non Christian religion lies in the First Table of the Law.

What is in the first table of the law is God's revelation about His character. Those are the things we do not see that we violate except as shown to us by The Holy Spirit. This would include knowing the person and work of Christ Jesus.

No, we cannot go around Jesus, the God-Man, and His perfect life; His bloody, violent death; and His glorious resurrection for our sake. To deny those things is saying you do not think you need forgiveness, because forgiveness can only be found in Jesus Christ, our only savior.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


San Francisco beckons. Driving behind a zig zagging highway patrol car, broken honda on the embankment. Turning heads, passing the disaster, resuming speed limit. Flintstone house burnt orange. Wishing to see the inside and meet the owners. Onward, Father Serra points us.

The Park. Full of heady sights, sounds, and smells. Foxglove, mock orange, pink toddlers twirling in a field of white flowers, grass, rain, umbrellas, taxis, rhododendrons, people, vistas, planking, elevators, trees, sailboats, golden gate bridge, whitecaps, frisbees, picnic, raspberries, de Young, sphinx, bagels, laughter, smiles, bing cherries. Planking for three hundred photographs. Yes planking.

Japanese Tea Garden. Green tea with brown rice, warm. Ah, relief from drizzle and drain. Sunrays spotted. Friendly waiter. Mochi melts. Ducks on the water. Blossomless cherry trees. Year of the Rabbit. In more ways than one, year of the rabbit.

Talent Show of Harbor High. 7:30 curtain. Avoiding the rain, waiting for doors to open. Mother and daughter huddle, small umbrella. Larry in Idaho. Awaiting his return patiently, praying for safety and peace. Good talent. One singular student guitaring while singing of Jesus. Impressed with bravery.

Sunday church and sleep. Choir. Recovering. Rest. Rabbit. Michante.

Monday is it! Pirates, pancakes, popcorn. Laughing, smiling, listening to stories of planking. BJ's. Good-bye quince. Unbelievable to me.

Friday, May 27, 2011


"These people are not real" are words spoken to self-protect. I am real. Not merely words passing via a mysterious computer language. I am real. Reality lives beyond the electronic screen with words and sounds.

Fear of loss stems from one-sided requirements of a friendship. My hurts and angers cause forsakeness. Trying to keep them to myself, I cannot. They explode in my head, and then appear on the screen. Too late to backspace. They lay naked, exposed. Expect rejection.

Exclusion, non-communication, used as a bit to try to rein. The pony winces and neighs but it cries where none can hear. Rejection worked the first time. This time anger results. Hurt responds. One sided friendships are not friendships, are they?

Tears dried by ocean breezes while walking past school children playing. Tears hidden behind sunglasses, screens. They are real tears. I have real feelings. I am real. Stomach churns. Loyalty can be a weapon used against me. Grief stricken.

My friend, my friend, what does thou require of me? Whatever it is, it is law and unreachable.

"What is wrong, sis?" A friend listens to my anger, in spite of struggles. "Your sins are forgiven in Jesus."

Tears flow.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


"Mom, why are you and Daddy able to forgive me and not only me, but my friends, when their own parents don't?"

Wow. What a question for a parent to hear from their teenager! Aren't car rides wonderful things? A place for people to not make eye contact, but have the most heartfelt of conversations. This was a door flung wide open with horses out in the yard in bright daylight. In that one question I could see into our daughter's thoughtfulness, her friends' lives, and an opportunity for a much bigger conversation.

Christians understand forgiveness because we know that we are forgiven. Our friends who do not know Jesus, do not understand true forgiveness. The forgiveness that Jesus provides is free flowing, like a mountain river after the winters' snow melts, it is overwhelming. Our friends that have not heard about Jesus' and all He has done for us do not know that free flowing forgiveness that has no requirements attached to it.

When friends see that forgiveness flowing from us, they may ask about it, and it turns into a wonderful opportunity to tell them about the forgiveness they have in Jesus. He has placed no requirements at all on that forgiveness, it is already there for them and for us. It takes us, or another person, to tell them this happy news so that they are able to see the forgiveness.

May the peace of the Lord be with you!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Seeds of the Atonement of Jesus

And he said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come." Mark 4

In this tiny parable, Jesus tells us that the Good News of salvation is to be spread without a care as to who hears it. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that produces the faith in us. We hear the good news of forgiveness of sin, and we believe.

We cannot explain how it happens as we are not told how. In fact, in this little parable it says the man that scatters seed does not know how it happens, and that the earth produces by itself. It is the Holy Spirit using the Gospel that does the work.

And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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." John 12

In this parable, Jesus speaks of his own death, burial, and resurrection. It is He that bears fruit, it is He that brings us life. We are the fruit that Jesus has borne. It is because of Father's great love for us that Jesus fell into the earth and died. After three days in the earth, He rose to life. We have heard the gospel, it has killed our old man, and raised up the creature of faith.

Happy Easter! He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


The gospel is the good news that your sins are forgiven for the sake of Jesus. There is nothing to add on to that good news. Not even a "if you repent". Our forgiveness does not depend on our reaction to it. It already is. We are forgiven.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Training Soldiers

One's view of the sacraments, baptism and the Lord's Supper, shows itself in how one reads scripture. For instance, when one views baptism as merely an entrance into the covenant, all kinds of equivocation takes place surrounded verses that talk about the efficacy of baptism.

Abraham Kuyper is a name easily recognized among Calvinists. He is highly regarded and well-respected as a reformed theologian. Recently, I heard this quote from Abraham Kuyper, "The children of believers are to be considered as recipients of efficacious grace in whom the work of efficacious grace has already begun. And that when dying before having attained to years of discretion they can only be regarded as saved. Of course, Calvinists never declared that these things were necessarily so as they never permitted themselves to pronounce official judgment on the inward state of an adult but left the judgment to God. So they have never ususrped the right to pronounce on the presence or absence of spiritual life of infants."

Compare that quote against what scripture says about baptism, that it confers salvation, new life, makes disciples,forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the promise of resurrection, to name the promises.

I also found this catechism for Calvinists regarding infant baptism. It is full of equivocations. The very first question is about whether an infant is part of the covenant of grace.

Question 1. Are Infants of believers included in the Covenant of GraceAnswer: Yes, children are included in the Covenant of Grace, and the visible church."

What is the covenant of grace they are talking about? The catechism is stating that is it for entrance into the visible church. Did Jesus institute a covenant for entrance into the visible church?

This is the covenant Jesus instituted.

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table.
~Luke 22:19-21

Today in Sunday School we asked young children how one knows that Jesus loves them. One little boy said, "When the pastor puts water on our foreheads, we know we belong to Jesus."

Out of the mouths of babes comes the straightforward answer. There was no hedging the bet, there was no equivocation by adding "baptized into the covenant of the visible church". This little boy's yes was yes!

And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil.
~Matthew 5:36-37

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Reality

Types and shadows are in the Old Testament. They point to the promised Messiah. Then Jesus arrives on the scene. He brings the real deal. The shadows are brought into the light, no longer hidden.

Jesus would not institute a type or a shadow. He brings with him grace and truth. Jesus brings us gifts. The gift of salvation, the gift of baptism, the gift of new life, the gift of remission of sins, the gift of The Lord's Supper, and many more that I have not named. Dear reader, please remind me of the other gifts Jesus gives us in your comments!

These gifts are all grace. Jesus brings to us good things that we don't deserve. This is the reality. It is not a type or a shadow. Types and shadows are done away with because Jesus, our reality, is here.

I am baptized! Thank you Jesus for your grace and truth.