Series 40


Fan Frenzy

"Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus—the head taxman and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way. He was a short man; he couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when He came by.”

As you read this account in the Bible, don’t you just wonder about Zacchaeus? We aren’t told why he wanted so desperately to see Jesus. All we know is how he acted. And it was; well, a little crazy.

Could his motivation be found in a contemporary parallel?

From the September 21, Sporting News Today:  “2008 Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings Training Camp…there have been fans climbing trees to catch a glimpse of a Red Wings player golfing…on Saturday, Red Wings fans started arriving at 6:00a.m…fan hysteria…Red Wings-mania that's gripped Hockeytown North…fan frenzy.”

Why? One player gave his view: “It’s 6:30 in the morning…it’s crazy, but it also shows the passion.”

Passion. Desire. Enthusiasm. This is what drove Zacchaeus to run ahead and climb a tree. A glimpse of Jesus fueled  his emotion-charged pursuit.

When Jesus reached the spot, He looked up, saying: "Zacchaeus come down immediately. I must stay at your house today."   From the frenzied crowd around Him, Jesus welcomed the over-the-top-exuberant-passion of one.

Red Wing hockey-heroes said of their fans, “It’s awesome, we’re just enjoying it.”

Jesus responded to Zacchaeus-the-tree-climber with delight and revealed a desire of His own. He wanted to hangout with Zacchaeus.

Jesus is still ready to come near. Jesus responds to people who are desperate for Him. And you’ll get more than a glimpse. Passionate seekers will hear Jesus say, “I must stay at your house today.”


The Nice: “No”

I ask a lot. My income is mainly derived from getting affirmative responses from people. Consequently, my ears are also very accustomed to hearing words which indicate: “No.”

Recently I had a meeting with a very pleasant man, with the intent of developing a business relationship. He responded positively to my product. Not a hint of “No” in the course of several conversations.

Soon though it became apparent, he was not following through as he told me he would. Always offering hope in his words, while his actions proclaimed, “No.”

The Bible says, “Simply, let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No.’” Easy to understand, yet challenging to do. It conflicts with our nice-person image.

Also recently, I was attempting to make business inroads at a gigantic Christian company. This is a reputable, Jesus-honoring business. Yet after being allowed to talk with someone, not a shred of Luke 6:31 was encountered: “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”

I hung up feeling beat-up and defeated.

Just the day before, I was talking to Cynthia. I desperately wanted to hear “yes” from her. She works for an industry leading company. Not a Christian organization. Most likely, you have encountered their products.

While I was being very persistent in my sales pitch, Cynthia was just as staunch in her resistance. Essentially, she told me “No” ten times and ten different ways before I was ready to retreat. Yet the whole time she listened intently. Responded informatively. She allowed me time to fully explain my ideas.

And these were Cynthia’s last words to me: “Good luck. Don’t give up.”

The Bible says: “Gracious speech is like clover honey—good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.”

Words have this kind of power. Even a properly sweetened, “No.”


Vein Repetition 

The blend seemed awkward; but right. My attempt was to discern God’s direction regarding the baptism of six students who attend a house church I lead.

I invited PJ from an ultra-contemporary church to speak. Pastor Stan from a very traditional Lutheran church joined me in the river to baptize the students.

Even though PJ, Pastor Stan, and I all follow Jesus Christ, we don’t completely agree on baptismal doctrine.

The Bible says,  “There is one body (church) and one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all…” I believe this. And decided to put it into practice.

Baptism day—the weather was amazing. Everything went smoothly. Jesus was glorified.

Then two days later PJ sent an unwarranted ripple into the event via email. He called a responsive reading led by Pastor Stan: “The vein repetition thing…really sterile and weird.”

PJ actually meant “vain repetition.” And he didn’t know I had sensed God’s desire to include this in the proceedings.

Pastor Stan liked this suggestion. He prepared handouts and explained the meaning of responsive readings. The audience was drawn into being participants rather than just observers. Pastor Stan read and on cue everyone else joined in with scriptural responses. Together the Lord’s Prayer and a creed reflecting common Christian beliefs were recited.

Jesus said, “When you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do.” Jesus then offered the Lord’s Prayer as a counter to “vain.”

A perfect prayer.

The Bible says, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O LORD.” Another perfect prayer.

God, help us to speak and recognize worthy words. May vain subside and precious arise. We desire our lives to be pleasing in Your sight.


The Fear Letter

Pray for me,” Aaron’s email letter said, “I have a lot of fear about the future.”

Most of us could join Aaron in acknowledging this feeling.

Aaron, a gifted journalism student, sees his career as a calling from God. The Editor-in-Chief of his college’s newspaper, he also interned this past summer at a small daily paper. He has the marks of someone destined for success.

Moses, one of the Bible’s all-time-greats, could have used Aaron’s exact words: “I have a lot of fear about the future.”

The Bible says, “God called to Moses from within the bush.”  They ensued in a conversation regarding God’s assignment for Moses—getting the Jewish people out of Egypt. Fear of failure peppers nearly every sentence Moses spoke. He then, in essence, gave God a bottom-line: “What if they do not believe me or listen to me?” If this happened, failure would be certain.

So God offered a sign to alleviate his fear. He told Moses to throw a staff he was carrying to the ground.

Bam! It turned into a snake.

Moses, who probably had seen hundreds of snakes during forty-years in the dessert: “Ran from it.” He ran from the very sign God gave him to show success was to be expected; fear was unwarranted.

Aaron has had many signs. He’s sensed a Holy Spirit-communicated calling from God. He’s experiencing success in whatever he does career-wise. He has even acknowledged God’s Divine opening of doors.

All signs from God.

Moses, my friend Aaron, you, or I all need to heed them. Take courage from them to face our fears.

Moses ultimately did this. His greatest fear seemed to be Pharaoh. Yet this exalted leader eventually tumbled.

Pharaoh made a parting request to Moses: “Also bless me.” Through this humble request, even Pharaoh acknowledged God’s signs.


When Jesus Died Again

I wanted to scream, “What are you saying?”

Michael, who I love dearly, had just let me know, he thought I attended a “dead church.” He was wondering why God had sent me to this church. He made an observation: “Maybe God called you out there to wake them out of their deadness.” I despise calling any church, which follows Jesus Christ: “A dead church.” I will even go further; using these kinds of words is borderline heresy. But I admit, these same words have come from my mouth.

1 Corinthians 12:27 says: “Now you are the Body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it.” This is just one of many, many references to the church being the body of Jesus Christ. Each one of us and every church, who truly follow Jesus, are part of His Body. The church I attend qualifies.

Would a person say to Jesus, “Jesus, I noticed part of Your body died. That dead-church part.” Careful Jesus, if enough of You dies, You’ll die again.


Those kind of words mock Jesus. And in essence, claim He is not powerful enough to keep all His parts alive and functioning.

Not one part of Jesus’ body is dead. And no church is functioning optimally.

Consider this: the biggest problem with the church is that the body keeps attacking itself.

From 1 Corinthians, these words need to guide us. “Now the body (of Christ Jesus) is not made up of one part, but of many…but in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”

And every part is alive.