What Jesus’ Body Means for Us: Relearning How to Enjoy and Glorify God with Our Bodies

ELIZABETH TURNAGE | CONTRIBUTOR Did Jesus wear diapers? Did Jesus learn to say “Abba”? Did Jesus need to take naps? To all three, if we have a biblical theology of Jesus and the body, we must answer “yes.” Often, we focus on Jesus’ spiritual nature, but we need to reclaim an understanding of Jesus’ body as well. When we pay attention to how Jesus lived in his human body, we better understand how to live in our bodies to enjoy and glorify the Lord. Our Savior Learned and Grew The Bible teaches that Jesus learned and grew. Yes, Jesus was sinless, no doubt, but in his humanity, he had to learn; he had to grow. Luke 2:52 tells us, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (NIV). Jesus didn’t emerge from Mary’s womb potty-trained. Jesus grew from a small baby into an average-sized Hebrew male before he began his earthly ministry. Jesus had to learn how to speak Aramaic and Hebrew, how to read Isaiah, and how to write his alphabet. Just as God designed Jesus to learn and grow, he designed us to learn and grow as well. We can learn new things, like how to play the piano or how to study Scripture. We grow physically, and even when our bodies are fully grown, we can and should continue to increase in “wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man,” by living in our bodies wisely, eating and drinking and exercising and touching and playing to the glory of God.

What Jesus’ Body Means for Us: Relearning How to Enjoy and Glorify God with Our Bodies2022-05-04T00:34:10+00:00

John 13: As I Have Done to You

KATHERINE ASHBAUGH | GUEST The Feast of the Passover has arrived, and Jesus knows his hour has finally come. Having loved his own in the world, he will love them to the end. We enter the scene of John 13, where Jesus and his disciples are enjoying a last meal together. Celebration abounds, friendship and feasting too. Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, is present, as are the rest of Jesus’ faithful disciples— the men he has allowed to walk and watch his ways. Men, who have been fed by the Bread of Life, with fish and loaves and with words powerful to save, strengthen, and encourage. Men, who have witnessed and performed miracles in his name, bodies healed, and sins forgiven. Men, who have confessed, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-9). And Jesus is present at the meal. The Lamb of God. As the action begins, we learn that Jesus knows his Father had given him all things, and so with purpose he rises and moves towards each disciple, tenderly washing their feet. One after another, first the washing and then the drying, with a towel wrapped around his waist. The process is physical, messy and wet, refreshing and warm, and utterly confusing, as Peter makes clear when his turn arrives. “Lord, do you wash my feet?” (John 13:6). “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me,” Jesus replies (John 13:8), so in characteristic form, Peter enthusiastically requests a full washing, his hands and head as well.

John 13: As I Have Done to You2022-05-04T00:45:25+00:00

Three Things Foster Parents Want You To Know

SHEA PATRICK|GUEST My family has been fostering for the last eight years now, and we have adopted two children out of foster care. I will be the first to tell you that I’m not an expert, nor do I have some official badge that allows me to speak on behalf of all foster parents. Every family’s situation and experience are vastly different. However, as I have been in foster parent groups or interacted with other parents who foster, I have heard common themes. I’ve heard similar stories. I’ve heard foster parents say things that the church needs to hear. Three Things Foster Parents Want You to Know We are not “good people.”  This statement is one of the things that I most often hear when people find out that we are foster parents. While it is a very sincere sentiment, it is not correct. In fact, fostering many times reveals more sin in my own heart — just like marriage and the parenting of biological children does. It is a truly sanctifying experience. We are sinners in need of a Savior just like the children that come into our home. We are not THE Savior and not THEIR Savior. Fostering is entering into brokenness, knowing that we are all broken by the effects of the Fall and our own sin. In fact, fostering is choosing to step into someone’s brokenness. Foster and adoption care is counter cultural in that you are choosing something that will break your heart and choosing not to protect yourself. Fostering is pointing these children to the only hope that any of us have in this life — Jesus Christ. So why do we do it? Because we know that Jesus will show up in power in these broken places, even as we seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these children (Matthew 25:40). We get attached (and that is a healthy thing.)...

Three Things Foster Parents Want You To Know2022-05-04T23:17:36+00:00

The Resurrection: A Return on Investment

CHRISTINE GORDON|GUEST If you happen to be an investor, 2020 was a scary year. March sent millions into a panic as the stock market took a huge dive in reaction to the first wave of COVID-19 on US soil. Unlike risky monetary investments, Jesus directs us in the gospel of Luke to an investment that has no risk and a guaranteed payoff at the resurrection.  We’re not told the particularities of what our reward might be. But imagine how the maker of the sunset, sea animals, and sesame seeds might reward you. I would guess it will be more satisfying and delightful than any list we might make or parameters we could define. God wants to offer us rewards for making certain choices and putting our energy toward specific people while living here on earth. What actions bring such pleasure to the heart of Jesus that he would promise a reward for doing them? Honor Those Who Cannot Repay Jesus’s words to a Pharisee who invited him for a meal are helpful to us: Then Jesus said to the man who had invited Him, “When you host a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or brothers or relatives or rich neighbors. Otherwise, they may invite you in return, and you will be repaid. But when you host a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, and you will be blessed. Since they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:12b-14) Jesus told the man who invited him what really makes God happy: giving honor to those who can’t possibly repay it. Give it away, in big spoonfuls— in buckets, even. Give to those who have absolutely no way of returning in kind. Because that’s what God has done for you. Dignify them not only with a meal, but with your presence. Table fellowship was all about status in Jesus’s day. Sharing a meal signified acceptance, and even equal social capital. Jesus is directing this likely rich and powerful Pharisee to open his home to those who would never usually make it onto the guest list, because they weren’t in his same social circle. He is not shaming them for inviting friends; he is simply encouraging them to also invite the outcasts, the poor, and anyone who has no status.  But why?  Because those are the kinds of people God loves to love lavishly— the needy. He knows they cannot pay...

The Resurrection: A Return on Investment2022-05-04T23:14:12+00:00

A Different Kind of Christmas

I’ll admit it. I have always been a Hallmark-watching, over-the-top lover of all things Christmas, but as a parent, I love the holidays differently now. I want my children to love these times as much as I used to, but for me, they are not so “perfect” anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still get excited about the snow, time with family, and the opportunity to focus on and celebrate Christ, but the expectations have changed. I have to keep a calendar reminding me of the band concert, Christmas programs, children’s choir practice, work Christmas party, and the brunch for my Titus 2 group. I feel guilty because some people buy presents for EVERYONE —co-workers, bosses, friends, and the letter carrier—yet I feel like I can barely buy for my immediate family. Not to mention the cards I am supposed to get out, if I do at all. By December 20th I am exhausted, realizing that I failed again to accomplish the holiday tasks I aspired to do, tasks which others seem to accomplish without a hitch.   As I ponder this unique 2020 Christmas season, I am convicted when I consider the shepherd’s excitement to see the Christ-child so many years ago. Upon hearing the good news from the angelic assembly, they responded, “‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about’ . . . when they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them . . .the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:15,17-18,20).  Oh, that my family would capture their excitement and embrace the joy of the Advent season! A Mary Season  COVID has changed our lives in so many ways this year. It is safe to say our holiday season will change as well. There will likely be fewer holiday activities, less travel, and smaller celebrations. We’ll likely miss the annual school play. Some families may not gather together this season. And only time will tell how the Christmas Eve candlelight service will look. The all too familiar refrain of disappointment will be heard everywhere this December...

A Different Kind of Christmas2022-05-04T23:53:02+00:00

How the Church Can Encourage Front Line Workers

COVID-19 placed a drain on medical personnel we nurses didn’t see coming. We’ve managed infectious diseases before, handled cumbersome PPE, and even ventured into uncharted waters with a diagnosis we weren’t sure how to handle. But I must admit, the Monday morning when the COVID numbers at my hospital unit jumped into the double digits, and doubled again by the end of the week, pandemic seemed an appropriate word. I placed a call to my pregnant daughter, Anna, and told her that until I was no longer caring for these patients, it would be safest if I did not see them. My two-year-old granddaughter didn’t understand why she couldn’t go to Grandma’s. On my way into work one morning a woman stopped me. “Can you get a message to my husband? I can’t go in, can I?” The eighty-something woman gripped her walker and seemed frantic. I recorded her message on my cell phone and left her on a nearby bench. Outside her husband’s hospital room, I grabbed a gown, shoe coverings, hair net, mask and face shield, and gloves. I put my cell phone in a clear plastic bag and prayed it wouldn’t obscure the picture too much. Her husband listened to the message as tears streamed down his face. He mouthed a thank-you through his nonrebreather. I couldn’t do all the usual satisfying nurse things like hold his hand or give him a hug. Neither could I offer that to his wife. It felt so pathetic, holding up a cell phone in a plastic bag, hoping he could see her, hear her. Afterwards, I tramped back downstairs brushing past a coworker who asked if I was ok. I nodded a yes, but I meant no. Outside, that sweet wife was waiting. At least I could tell her he heard her voice and seemed to know it was her. I swallowed hard, wrote my cell number down on a piece of paper and handed it to her. “Anytime you need to get a message to your husband, you call me. Anytime, ma’am. I will meet you here.”

How the Church Can Encourage Front Line Workers2022-05-05T00:04:37+00:00

Investing in Those We Minister To

This fall I began teaching another Bible study at my church, something I have done for many years. As I addressed the women in the room, I rejoiced at how many had been faithful to study God’s Word over the years and how they had grown in their faith as they applied truth to the hardships of their lives. As I looked out at their faces, I also felt a huge responsibility: How would I invest in these women over the next year? In writing to the Thessalonian believers, Paul states, “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:7-8). As I studied these verses, as well as the surrounding context, I was struck by Paul’s affection for God’s people. Even amid conflict, Paul displayed godly conduct and gave thanks in all circumstances. In our service to others, you and I are called to do the same.    Conflict in Serving Paul served the Thessalonians in the midst of his own conflict, or suffering. Think about the last time you experienced conflict or suffering in ministry. Maybe the suffering came from chronic physical pain or maybe a fellow believer discouraged you in your role. Whatever the cause, doing ministry while in conflict is hard. We’re tempted to throw in the towel and call it quits until we feel better, or until the other person stops discouraging us. We might think of taking some time off to recoup and refresh before heading back into ministry work. But conflict, by God’s grace, often becomes the catalyst for declaring Christ. God uses our service in the midst of suffering to spread His gospel. I have experienced this in my own life. In fact, the first day of teaching this fall I was in tremendous physical pain from a chronic GI complication I have had since 2006. But I have learned over the years the truth of the Lord’s words to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Ministering to others in our suffering is an opportunity to magnify the Lord’s strength. Conduct in Serving Paul also displayed godly conduct as he served. God entrusted us with a message and His Spirit empowers us to proclaim it. The Lord refines us as we serve, oftentimes uprooting sinful motives in our hearts, such as gaining man’s approval, and replacing them with gentleness, love, and a heart that seeks God’s glory...

Investing in Those We Minister To2022-08-06T22:24:51+00:00

Life-Faking Ministry and Its Consequences

In their new book, Life-Giving Leadership, Karen Hodge and Susan Hunt explain that life-giving women’s ministry comes from confidence in Christ, not in ourselves. Without it, they warn, women’s ministry can become a life-taking, destructive activity. There is a third kind of women’s ministry. It may run smoothly and involve lots of the Bible study and service of which Karen Hodge and Susan Hunt speak in their new book, but unlike what they describe, there is no life in it. That’s because it is life-faking. The authors hint at life-faking when they say in their book Transformed, “We feel guilty and hypocritical when we try to play the part of the perfect wife, mother or daughter, but we don’t have to pretend. Paul holds before us the exhilarating idea of transformation.” Life-Faking Ministry A male example of fakery is found in the character of the older brother in Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. The prodigal son, after rebelling, found reconciliation after he confessed candidly to his father, saying, “I am not worthy to be called your son.” The older son, who had stayed home, revealed his divided heart when he jealously complained to his father about all the attention the younger brother received. He said, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends” (Luke 15:29). Apparently, the older son’s expectation of the relationship with his dad was not covenantal, but contractual. He demanded his due. The father’s response is poignant: “Son [note that he reminds him of that important relationship], you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours” (v. 30). The father points out the important part of the relationship, implying sadly, “You and I shared togetherness all this time, whereas the younger son missed out on the relationship. Isn’t closeness with me enough for you?” It wasn’t. The older son wanted to celebrate with “his friends,” apparently not with his dad. And so Jesus asks us, “Are you following me to be with me, or to get something from me? Are you in a genuine relationship with your Father, or have you been faking?”

Life-Faking Ministry and Its Consequences2022-05-07T23:51:20+00:00
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