pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Transform

Reading: Mark 9: 2-9

Verse Seven: “A voice from the cloud: ‘This is my son, whom I love. Listen to Him!'”

Today is known as Transfiguration Sunday. It is the day when Peter, James, and John get a glimpse into what the heavenly Jesus may look like. To be present in his moment is a powerful and life-changing moment for the inner three. In its own way it was unique and special. But it is just one of many such moments that forever changed Peter, James, and John.

We too will have these mountaintop, transforming moments. We will also have our share of life-changing moments in the valley. Those moments on the mountaintop are things such as the birth of a child or the day we accepted Jesus. Our valley moments are the times we lost someone or something dear to us or the day life radically changed. Each of these unique and special moments also work within us to transform us, to make us more and more like Christ.

In the transfiguration, Jesus is elevated to a better and more perfect version of His earthly self. As we experience our own God moments, we too can be transfigured. Through our unique and special moments with God – whether on the mountaintop or in the valley – we can be changed and shaped more into the image of who God created us to be. I say ‘can be’ because we do have a choice. In those valley moments we can choose to continue to cling to God and to walk through it with God. During those mountaintop moments we can give God all the glory and honor, bringing Him praise. Both are choices. One choice is God’s path and that choice elevates our faith journey and brings us closer to Jesus Christ.

In our faith journeys and in life may we always choose to walk with Jesus. We were created in God’s image, chosen since we were woven together in the womb, marked as a child of God in the waters of baptism. May we ever choose to live into our identity in Christ, allowing each God moment to transform us one experience at a time, bringing us ever closer to our Lord and Savior. Amen.

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Encounter

Reading: Mark 9: 2-6

Verses Three and Four: “His clothes became dazzling white… And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses”.

As Peter, James, and John headed up the mountain with Jesus, they had no idea what would happen next. The usual trek to someplace like this usually led to a time of prayer. Apparently without warning, Jesus is “transfigured”. This means to “transform into something more beautiful or elevated”. In Mark’s gospel the scene is described this way: “His clothes became dazzling white…” It was Peter, James, and John’s limited way to describe something amazing and never before seen.

At times we find ourselves here. When we try and describe our encounter with Jesus or God or the Holy Spirit, we use a lot of “it was like…” terminology. We try and relate it to experiences we think others have had and then we try to elevate that to describe our encounter. The disciples use the bleaching analogy to try and describe the level of dazzle.

To add to their surprise, “And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses”. These two greats of the Old Testament appear and start talking with Jesus. One can only imagine the conversation between the men who represent the prophets and the Law, respectively, and the One who represents the new covenant, Jesus. What a deep and rich theological conversation it must have been!

Just as suddenly as Elijah and Moses appear, they are gone. In an instant, the old Jesus is back. Heads spinning, Peter, James, and John must have wondered what just happened and pondered why were they there. This experience must have left them with more questions than answers. What does this mean? How will this impact our lives and our ministry? Who really is Jesus? What now?

In those moments when we too experience Jesus in extraordinary ways, we are left with a sense of the divine touching our lives. We too are left with questions and much to ponder. This is a good thing. Life-changing moments are supposed to change us! From our Jesus encounters, may we continue to wrestle and seek, to learn and to grow. May we allow these encounters to guide us along our journey of faith, ever closer to our God.


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Day to Day, Take My Hand

Reading: Matthew 17: 1-9

Peter, James, and John are blessed to experience the transfiguration.  It is an event that would stick with all of us forever.  In this one moment these disciples see the Law, the Prophets, and the Messiah together.  In seeing Moses, Elijah, and Jesus talking, we get a glimpse of the span of the Bible and can see the connections between these three central themes.  Peter’s response is to offer to build three shelters, one for each man.  He wants to prolong this moment.  I would want to do the same.

From time to time in our faith journeys, we too are blessed with moments where Jesus has touched our lives in a special way.  Those moments when we feel an undeniable closeness to His presence or when we can see the answer to our prayers are touch points in our faith.  They are times when we know that Jesus is real and alive and is truly present with us.  In this transfiguration moment, the disciples are blessed to see that this human man that they have been following is also a divine being that is connected directly to God.  For the disciples in today’s story and for the touch points in our life, these moments, these experiences, they shape our faith.

Like Peter, we too would like to extend these moments and sometimes we wish we could stay in that sacred moment forever.  But we cannot.  Although they are etched into our memory, we must move forward with life.  The reality of our faith, though, is that Jesus is not just in the touch points.  Jesus comes down off that mountain and walks with us in the day to day of life.  It is His constant and abiding presence in all of life that is the bedrock of our faith.  Jesus’ presence in the little scrapes and in the small victories that occur day after day are the basis of our trust that He will be there in the really tough times as well.

Yes, those touch points are awesome and are significant for our faith.  We are stronger Christians and better disciples because of them.  But my deepest need is for Jesus in the day to day.  Dearest Lord Jesus, take my hand, walk with me through all that life has for this day.  Please be with me, dearest Lord Jesus.


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However He Comes

Reading: 2 Peter 1: 19-21

Peter begins by helping us remember the words of the prophets, words that draw us to Jesus and to God.  Prophets like Moses and Elijah, who he saw in the transfiguration, and prophets like Samuel and Isaiah – all men who spoke the word that God has placed in their mouths.  In his reference to light shining in the darkness, Peter draws in John the Baptist, another prophet who pointed people to the Messiah, just as all the Old Testament prophets ultimately do as well.  As modern day disciples of Jesus, this is our call as well: to draw others to the light, to the Messiah.

Sometimes we think of the light of Jesus as a slowly growing presence, a light that steadily bathes one in His encompassing love.  This love gradually progresses in an ever-deepening relationship with Jesus.  This is often the norm for those raised in the church.  They would say they have always known Jesus.  But this is not the pattern for all believers.

In the original Hebrew, the word we have translated as dawn has a more piercing, more sudden connotation to it.  Think of turning on a bright flashlight after spending several moments in a dark cave.  The light is sudden.  It is sharp.  The light pierces through.  Some are experience Jesus this way.  Life is as it has always been.  Then all of a sudden, Jesus comes charging in, taking center stage in their life.  

Jesus can enter in a similar way for believers as well.  We go along as always.  Then suddenly Jesus bursts into our daily routine unexpectedly.  Maybe it is a sudden revelation of a truth as we pray or study our Bible.  Maybe it is in a surprising conviction we suddenly feel.  Maybe it is in an urge or nudge we feel to reach out to someone.  Or maybe it is an experience like Peter, James, and John had, up on the mountain top.  This day, may we be open to the presence of our living Savior, however He may come today.


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D

Reading: 2 Peter 1: 16-18

Like almost all the other stories of Jesus, someone was there to remember the event, to tell others about it, to one day record it.  I’d imagine most of the stories, particularly the miracles, were talked about quite a bit.  This is a large part of why Jesus drew such a crowd at times.  They had heard.  At Jesus’ baptism there were some onlookers there to see the Spirit descended and to hear the “this is my Son” declaration.  But the transfiguration story is so much more.  Jesus’ appearance changes, Moses and Elijah appear and talk with Jesus, the voice of God again speaks.  In all of this, we gain confirmation of Jesus’ divinity and authority.  But, for the time being, this story goes untold, as per Jesus’ instructions.

In the transfiguration account, we see that the God we adore and worship and praise is the same as the the One who came in the flesh.  In the power and divine majesty of the transfiguration, we see a glimpse of the Messiah who will one day return again to restore all things as He establishes the new heaven and earth.  The image in 2nd Peter also connects forward to the vision of Jesus that John has in Revelation.  Both Peter and John are so in awe of what they see that they both have trouble putting words to what they see and experience.  In between these two events we have he risen Lord, appearing in the garden, in a room, on the seashore,…  We see a loving God who reassures His closest friends that He is going back to be with His Father, but also promising to one day return in glory.

As we prepare to enter Lent, we embrace all of this – the Christ who was here before time, the human Jesus who walked the earth and was crucified for our sins, and the risen Messiah that will one day return to make all things new.  As faithful and obedient disciples, we cry out, “Come Lord Jesus, come!”


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Seeking to Continue

When Peter, James, and John see Jesus transfigured and Moses and Elijah appear, they are frightened.  This experience is far beyond anything they have been through or that they could imagine.  Almost without thinking, Peter offers to build three shelters, perhaps seeking to make this experience last.

One cannot blame him.  In our own God moments – those special times when we experience His presence in our lives – it is a little frightening but it is also something that we want to make last.  We want that moment and that experience to continue.

To add to it all, a cloud descends and God actually speaks to them.  In a reaffirmation of Jesus’ baptism and as a sending forth proclamation, God again declares who Jesus is and what that entails for the disciples.

Just like Peter, James, and John, we too are to acknowledge Jesus’ divinity and we are to listen to Him.  As the transfiguration experience comes to an end, they head back down the mountain and back to real life.  We do the same when our God moments end.  We are thankful and blessed and forever changed, but the world is still there and it still awaits us.

Like the disciples, we too must deny ourselves and take up our cross, seeking to continue the work of Jesus in building the kingdom here.  Being changed ourselves, may we go forth seeking to bring change and hope to our very real worlds.

Scripture reference: Mark 9: 2-9


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Today Offer Thanks

The transfiguration story is pretty awesome.  The ‘inner three’ disciples – Peter, James, and John – are brought up the mountan by Jesus.  I bet they were excited for a little ‘alone time’ with Jesus.  They were probably running scenarios through their minds about what might happen as they quietly followed along behind a serious Jesus.  Don’t imagine there was a lot of trail chatter as they made their way up.  When they arrive at their destination, they witness an amazing transfiguration of Jesus.  His face becomes like the sun and his clothes become what they described as brilliantly white or dazzling.  As if this wasn’t enough to blow their minds, suddenly Moses and Elijah appear and start talking with Jesus, in his transfigured state!  Both men long gone from this earth, but there, sure as day!

If I were one of the three I think I would stammer and be afraid too.  It would be hard to take in and process all that has happened right before their eyes.  Part of me would wonder if this was all real.  But it would be so awesome to be there!!  Moses and Elijah just seem to know what to do and why they are they.  They walk up to Jesus just like he is an old friend, and start talking to him.  And, in reality, Moses and Elijah are old friends with Jesus!  Moses and Elijah know what to do and say – they were always faithful followers of what God led them to do.  At times we are like Peter, James, and John and at times we are like Moses and Elijah.  In our faith lives, sometimes we bumble around and other times we just seem to know what to do.

And at times we can also be the one on whom God is looking down upon, smiling as He says we too are His beloved.  A gleam in His eye as He says we too ar His child.  In the quiet moment, when we take the time and energy to focus in on God, we too can hear these words.  We can hear the words, take them in, feel their love, and say, “Thanks Dad, I love you too!”  May we each find that quiet place and enter into His presence this day, so that we can offer Him this thanks.