Tag Archives: Jesus

Our Portrait of Christ

Quotable Quote

“There is no literal portrait of Jesus,
there need not be;

we are to be His image in the world.”

author unknown

There are countless images of Christ, just “Google” the name “Jesus” or “Christ” and click images. I remember growing up with a familiar painting of Christ that hung at the front of our church in Parkersburg, Iowa. I currently have a charcoal drawing  done by a local amateur of a laughing Jesus hanging in my church office. They look very different! Some paintings are centuries old, many are icons, images that people would meditate upon. Others are contemporary, such as my laughing Jesus.  What did Jesus actually look like? We don’t know.

The only reference to Jesus’ appearance is by the prophet Isaiah who declared, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2) Apparently there was nothing about Jesus’ appearance that was outstanding. He undoubtedly could not have been picked out of a crowd, not necessarily wearing a white robe and certainly not sporting a halo!

On the other hand the image of Christ is to be all over this world of ours, not hung on walls in frames but worn on the faces of those who follow Him! This personal portrayal of Christ by us is not to be a mask of superficial religious sounding words and religious looking works but heart and soul deep.

Our goal as a follower of Jesus is to be authentically Christ-like. The best compliment we could receive from someone would be, “I’ve never seen Christ, but you remind me of Him.” The apostle John, who was a close disciple of Jesus, wrote, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6)

What kind of portrait am I painting of Christ with the brush strokes of my words and actions? The inward reality that will result in me looking Christ-like is for Him to be at the center of my being, the preeminent focus of my life.

“There is no literal portrait of Jesus, there need not be;
we are to be His image in the world.”

Oh, What a Relief It Is!

When our son Dan was still called Danny, he would do something wrong and then deny it. He’d be angry, or at least sullen, or cool and distant. The best way to get through to him at such times was for me to bend down on a knee and in a soft, loving voice make it clear to him that forgiveness was available, if he would just ‘fess up to the “crime” and say that he was sorry.

When he did, there were sometimes tears but there was almost always a tremendous sense of relief on his part and he became a very happy little boy.

That’s what confession and forgiveness did for him and it’s something like the experience God wants us to have with Him. The stories and teachings of the Bible reveal that honest-to-God confession leads to a dynamic, vibrant relationship with God. Two of God’s amazing attributes are His grace and mercy, both of which can only be experienced when we realize our need for them, and express that need through confession.

The amazing experience of God’s forgiveness is the direct result of our confession. I know it seems strange to say, but confession is really a very positive experience! As an old commercial for Alka-Seltzer stated, “Oh, what a relief it is!”

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” (Psalm 32:1)

He Goes by Many Names

I know a guy who goes by the name Robert, Bob, and Jack. He’ll come to the dinner table by any of the three names! I go by the name David, Dave, Hon (by my wife), Dad, Grandpa, Uncle Dave, and Pastor Dave.

 

I’m always amazed by how many names Jesus is called in the Bible. There are over a hundred names for Him! Each name reveals something unique about Jesus. I want to share some of my favorites, and why they’re special to me.

 

He is Jesus (or “Joshua” in the Hebrew). It means “to save.” He’s my savior.

 

Jesus is Lord! He’s the one in charge of my life.

 

Jesus is the Christ! Christ means Messiah, the anointed One. He’s my special One!

 

Jesus is the door! He’s my entryway into life for now and forever.

 

Jesus is the bread of life! He’s my ultimate sustenance.

 

Jesus is the vine! I’m His branch and I’m attached to Him so that I might thrive.

 

Jesus is the light of the world! He brings the light of life, truth, and joy to me.

 

Jesus is the good shepherd! I’m His sheep, and He takes good care of me.

 

Jesus is the lamb! He was sacrificed for me.

 

Jesus is the lion! He conquers for me.

 

Jesus is the rock! I stand upon Him.

 

Jesus is alpha and omega! He’s the beginning and the end; He’s everything to me!

Photovotional — “Continual Inner Refreshment”

The photo with this post is of a pump in a cemetery west of the small town of Leota, Minnesota. I love these old pumps. I pumped the handle vigorously a few strokes and the water flowed. I wonder from how deep it came?

Such an image reminds me of Jesus’ conversation with a woman at a well. He had asked her to draw some water from the well. A conversation followed.

Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’

‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?’

Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” (John 4:10-14)

Water is refreshing and life-giving. Jesus used the image of water to communicate the amazing effect He can have within us. Jesus desires to be a continual inner refreshment for us. What a thought!

 

A PHOTOVOTIONAL: “The Old Rugged Cross”

On the land where our church’s future building is to be located we have a large wooden cross. It has been there for a decade and has taken quite a beating. Look closely and you’ll see the wood is weathered and the large nails (railroad spikes) are rusted. Birds use the cross as a perch and have stained it with their droppings. It has been used for target practice by those wielding paintball guns.

Look carefully in the upper right hand corner of the image. A vulture circles overhead!

Graffiti mars the cross with the word “DIE” sprayed on the side. The second image gives you a close-up of the graffiti. I doubt the vandals realized how theologically correct they were!

Jesus’ cross was no great work of art, just a utilitarian tool of execution. It bore the stain of His own blood, sweat, and tears. If sin could cause a physical stain on wood, then the cross of Christ would have been stained beyond measure by the sins of humanity that Christ bore while hanging on it.

Our cross on the land is certainly an old rugged cross and I’ve thought about having it cleaned up, but I’m thinking it’s more appropriate to leave it the way it is. Certainly this cross, with all of the abuse it’s taken, communicates the message of Christ’s cross better than any gilded cross ever could.

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:15)

Our Big Brother

I watch my granddaughter as she watches her older brother. She not only watches what he does but she copies what he does! Her big brother is her example of how to live. He is also protective of her. Throughout the ages little sisters and brothers have learned from big sisters and brothers and have been protected by them. Sure, they get into fights, but overall the set-up seems to work well.

I find it interesting that Jesus is given over a hundred titles in the Bible including rock, bread, light, and shepherd, and that one of His lesser known titles He gave Himself is brother. He wants to consider us his little brothers and sisters and Himself as our big brother. Amazing!

I was a big brother to both a sister and a brother so I think I know something of what’s involved in the job description, though I didn’t fulfill my duties perfectly (don’t bother asking Mark or Rhonda, I’ll confess this up front). When I think about what an ideal big brother should be like (and Jesus certainly is ideal) I think of someone who not only is an example to his younger siblings but is also a big help to his younger brothers and sisters.

It’s a wonderful teaching of Jesus that He wants to consider us His brothers and sisters. What a helpful way to look at Jesus! And He says that this big brother relationship with Him is available to anyone who wants to be a little sister or brother to Him. Big Brother may be a lesser known title for Jesus but I find it to be a very helpful one!

‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ he [Jesus] asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’” (Mark 3:33-35)

Refreshment Within

What can keep us going when all that is around us is draining us? While touring the Holy Land years ago I recall seeing a long tunnel of over 1,700 feet that had been built by the great king Hezekiah around 700 B.C. The tunnel was cut through rock to bring water from the Gihon spring outside the city to a place within the walls of the city. With a continual supply of flowing water within its walls the city was in a far greater position to defend itself against a prolonged assault.

 

On this blog I recently had a post about the time Jesus told a woman at a well, “Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14) He was sharing with her how He could be an unending, unquenchable, source of refreshment for people.

 

We face all kinds of dry times in life. Problems, people, and even possibilities can dehydrate our souls. We need an ultimate source of refreshment and this can be none other than God, the only inexhaustible source of energy in the universe. This doesn’t means we don’t need the affirmation and help of others. We do. Relationships require give and take, and when someone takes more than they give it’s no fun for the one on the short end. But in the end, at the end of the day, our ultimate source needs to be God.

 

Living each day with this truth is key. If we fixate on our lack then we’re contributing to our own defeat. It’s when we focus on God as our ultimate supply that we can best deal with this imperfect life. It doesn’t take us out of our desert experience, but such a way of looking at each day can help us get through our desert! When we have the Lord within we have a flow of refreshment that will see us through!

(photo I took of a bubbling aerator at the pond in the Toledo Botanical Gardens)

Continual Inner Refreshment

The photo with this post is of a pump in a cemetery west of the small town of Leota, Minnesota. I love these old pumps. I pumped the handle vigorously a few strokes and the water flowed. I wonder from how deep it came?

Such an image reminds me of Jesus’ conversation with a woman at a well. He had asked her to draw some water from the well. A conversation followed.

Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’

‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?’

Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” (John 4:10-14)

Water is refreshing and life-giving. Jesus used the image of water to communicate the amazing effect He can have within us. Jesus desires to be a continual inner refreshment for us. What a thought!

 

Interruptible

Have you ever been in a store, asked a clerk for help, and felt as if you were interrupting the clerk’s work? I have. It makes you wonder if they realize that the customer is the reason they have a job in the first place. I like what was written on the yardsticks that were given away by a lumber yard: “You are not an interruption to our business, you are our business!

It’s occurred to me that virtually every miracle of Jesus of which we have record in the four gospels was an interruption of His day! Not one, as far as we can tell, was scheduled by Jesus beforehand.

Do we want to be doing the Lord’s business each day? One of the ways God does His business with us is by interrupting what we’re doing! What we see as an interruption of our plans is an appointment to carry out God’s plans! To truly be used by God, we must be interruptible.

“A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.” (Mark 1:41-42)

The Return of Christ — The Great Expectation

The fact that Christ did not return on May 21, as religious broadcaster Harold Camping had predicted, gave the media a subject that provided comic relief. The idea that the world could come to an end seemed laughable. Most of us Christians cringed at the idea that a fellow Christian would be so misguided as to name the day, yes, even the hour (6pm) of Christ’s return.

But good can come out of this! Most people are now far more familiar with the Biblical promise stated over and over again that Christ will return. The subject will quickly fade from coffee shop conversation, but while it’s still a topic we can dialogue about what it means that Christ is coming back.

If Christ is coming back, then what’s delaying Him? The apostle Peter gives the answer in one of his letters that makes up part of the New Testament of our Bibles. He writes, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-9)

The passing of May 21 without the return of Christ means there’s still time for someone who is not serious about Christ to get serious about Him. It’s no laughing matter. Neither Harold Camping, nor anyone else, can destroy the credibility of the return of Christ. It’s a part of Jesus’ teaching. I believe He’s returning sometime, and it could be anytime, because Jesus Himself said He would. A proper response is not that of laughter but of being prepared and hopeful.