Jesus vs. Michael Phelps: Part II

In an earlier post, I wrote about the humanity of Christ. That, however, only tells half the story. This morning I read Revelation 1:17:

When I saw him, I feel at his feet as though dead.

John has seen the Lord Jesus in His glory and it renders him speechless, motionless, unable to do anything—like a dead man. Isaiah has the same reaction to seeing the Lord in glory. When Isaiah, saw Him, he cried out, “Woe is me for I am undone.” 

So while we might not be overly impressed with the human Jesus, might be able to beat him in a foot race or swimming race, might not think he was worth sitting by at the church potluck, much less appear on the cover of GQ, we will respond differently to Him when we see Him again, for we will see Him in His glory.

Michael Phelps has enjoyed great fame and idol status since winning 8 gold medals. He has done countless interviews and appeared before screaming fans. No doubt if he walked into any school auditorium in the coming days, cheers would erupt from those desiring to see him. 

When we see Jesus again, we will not treat him like a celebrity, nor as a good buddy, slapping Him on the back and asking Him how the fishing is in heaven. No, His glory will move us beyond our knees until we fall prostrate as John did. 

Jesus is both God and man. If Jesus held only human characteristics, He would not deserve our worship. If Jesus only appeared in glorious form, we would not be able to approach Him. But He laid aside His glory for our sake, becoming like us, identifying with us that we might be called His brothers. And now He has taken up that glory again. He deserves our worship and adoration. 

I hoped that Michael Phelps would achieve the 8 gold medals. The races were thrilling. But Michael Phelps did none of those things for me. Jesus achieved far more. His accomplishment on the cross made it possible for me, a sinner, to have relationship with the God who created the water and the minds who designed that pool, and the engineers who designed those suits, and the muscles and body frame of Michael Phelps that allowed him to do what he did. I worship Jesus—the God-man.

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A Bowl Full of Fun

My youngest was reading to me this morning from one of her favorite series (and mine too). Cynthia Rylant, who authors many books, has a series called Mr. Putter and Tabby. The illustrations are marvelous and the stories make my six year old crack up (and me too). This morning we read Mr. Putter and Tabby Stir the Soup (Mr. Putter is old, so it doesn’t take much for him to have excitement!). The neighbor’s dog, Zeke, keeps getting in the way, and the morning consists of Mr. Putter taking things away from him and putting them in the bathtub. All Zeke really wants is to go for a walk; he’s really a good dog.

We all have Zeke’s in our lives—good things that get in the way of better things. For each of us those things can be different: exercise, certain relationships, blogging, entertainment, hobbies—ok, ok, blogging too. We have to ask ourselves if the good in each of those is replacing a better: time with God, time with family, time at work, time in building relationships. Better yet, it would be helpful if we allowed someone else, someone who knows us well, to have that kind of input into our lives. I am quite masterful at convincing myself of a position.

Does the life I live, though, convince anyone else? Does my life present the evidence necessary to convince someone that I abide in Christ and He in me. Or do I allow good things to slowly erase His influence in my affairs while I collapse at the end of each day, like Mr. Putter, exhausted from chasing that good thing, while someone else stirs the soup?

What’s a Christian To Do?

If you are unsure how to behave in this politically charged season, you can find no end of advice in blogland. 

Here and here and here and here

Those took all of two minutes to find. Don’t know if you’ll find anything you like or not. 

But, if my opinion means anything to you, here’s one that I thought was right on the money.

How Splendid Are Your Surroundings?

What made Scrubb look so Dingy was the splendor of their surroundings.

When compared to the court in Narnia, Scrubb and Jill looked downright horrible. What do your surroundings look like? No, here’s a better question: What do you surround yourself with? Do you surround yourself with splendor? Or do you surround yourself with the ordinary?

I hope you realize that you can make yourself appear better off than you are if you surround yourself with the ordinary—the world. Someone will always come along to whom you will compare favorably. 

But we are not called to that. We are called to surround ourselves with the splendor of another world. When we do, this world, ourselves even, will dim in comparison. Pride will be humbled. That which we thought worthy will pale to true worth. Excitement in the temporary will give way to joy and longing for the eternal. 

How do we surround ourselves with the splendor of another world? In the same way that Jill and Eustace could not get to Narnia without Aslan’s assistance in The Silver Chair, so too, we cannot surround ourselves with the splendor of the kingdom without God’s assistance. They thought it strange the way Aslan got them there. Strange too how we arrive! It requires a relationship with the Almighty. It requires time. It requires letting the Spirit blow us where He wills not trudging along where we will. 

And when we do that? Well, then this world will begin to appear dingy, less tempting. It will feel less like home.

I won, I won…well, sort of.

Jeff held a contest. I got third place!

Several years ago I won a Church of Rhythm CD from a Christian radio station. I knew why Ivory soap floated. I also won a door prize once somewhere, but I don’t remember what it was. Neither of those took a whole lot of talent.

But this contest—this was huge. You can go here to see all the competition I was up against, or you can go here to see the extremly talented people who edged me out. In the spirit of the Olympics, I must say that I was proud to represent my country in this hard fought, emotional struggle.

I want to think my parents for teaching me my alphabet as well as some wonderful English teachers like Mrs. Butler and Mrs. DePriest* who challenged me to grow in my vocabulary. This great accomplishment would not have been possible without people like that. And thanks to Jeff, as well, for spending the time and energy it took to organize, conduct, and judge such a demanding competition.

If I am not blogging for while, it’s because I am busy writing lesson plans for next week and preparing for the classes I will be taking this fall waiting for the late night talk shows to call.

I wonder if Jeff will provide an html code to put on my blog?

*In all seriousness. After 12 years of regular school, 5 years of undergrad, and and 3 years of grad school, those two ladies were two of the finest teachers I ever had. I actually had the privilege of teaching alongside them both a few years ago. I spent a lot of time in high school in Mrs. DePriest’s home. She modeled Christ for all of us who hung out there with her son. They are both retired now, and I hope they are enjoying every minute of it.

Jesus vs. Michael Phelps

Ran across a bizarre website today thanks to Christian Striver. This triggered the following thoughts (reader discretion advised):

How can he swim in that robe? What’s up with the blood in the water every time you run the cursor over his hands and feet (I know about the crucifixion, but why is he bleeding when out for a swim)? Why does he have a chain in his hand? Could he beat Michael Phelps? I wonder what he’d look like in one of those ultra-fast-space-age swim suits? Could he beat Michael Phelps?

Then I was reminded of a conversation with a student several years ago about the Passion of the Christ. She hated the movie because it didn’t portray Jesus accurately. When I asked her what portrayal she had issues with, she said when he was shown tripping and falling as a boy. At first I thought she was joking, but she was not. She said that since he created everything, he would have known the rock was there and would not have tripped over it. The fall portrays him as imperfect, which he was not.

While an interesting theory, it misses the entire point of the incarnation. God became man, subject to the limitations of the human body. His breath stunk when he woke up in the morning. He passed gas. He got dirt in his eye (no his being God did not allow him to blink at the right time to avoid it). He tripped and skinned his knee as a boy. He had pimples. More then likely he had crooked teeth. He stubbed his toe on the corner of the bed. He might have even picked his nose now and again. And, no, he could not beat Michael Phelps in the 100 m butterfly.

Though he might part the water at the right time and drop him a few feet as a joke.

What do you mean by that? Semantics Part II

We talked about denotation vs. connotation today in English class. It brought my last post to mind. Then I read this post, and it reminded me of this vision statement from the Dismantling Racism Task force of the United Methodist Church’s North Texas Conference (these thought trains can be dangerous):

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the people of the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church seek to fulfill the word of God by committing to the full participation of people of all racial identities including their gifts, their worldviews and their cultures.

I actually had an opportunity to talk to one of the authors of the statement. I asked him if he really thought it was a good idea to fully include someone with Hitler’s worldview. His response: “Well, that’s not what we meant.” Well, that is what it says. Or what about a Muslim worldview. And does full participation mean they can be pastors. Without defining terms, this statement is at best unscriptural and at worst a statement of universalism. 

And what does Pete mean when he says,

[Jesus] would…include anybody who came up to him.

I have read Pete’s blog long enough to know what I think he means by that, and it’s not what I think the North Texas Conference means.  I have been around the Methodist Church long enough to know I really didn’t buy it when I was told, 

That’s not what we meant.

I know that I fail to define terms as well, and now this reminds me to work hard to be clear.