It was the Roman Army Captain

Vol. 3 No. 5 – 2-4-2018
The Roman army captain said: “Just say ‘be healed’ and my servant will be well again.'” Matthew 8:8

The backbone of the Roman army was the Centurion (commander of 100 soldiers). He was a “man’s man” – a leader who could command, steady under pressure, and totally reliable. Isn’t that the way Christians and Christian leaders should be?
When hard pressed the Roman Army Captain was always ready to hold their ground and even die at their post.

This soldier and his family would have been transferred from Italy to the tiny army garrison on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. The Captain had a problem, a major one. His highly valued servant was dying from a paralyzing disease. This Centurion was not a Stoic who insulated himself from the pain of others. He had a concern of the heart.

Emperor Tiberius Caesar, his Commander-in-Chief, could not help in this bugaboo. The Roman world was anti-Semitic, and regarded the Jews as a “filthy race,” and this military man had an unusual sense of love toward Jews. The Centurion was “religious” and even built a Synagogue in the city of Capernaum, doing so in the vein of good works. Religion is not the answer to one’s standing before a holy God. In his religious zeal, his servant was grievously tormented, and ready to die.

Perhaps there were some others concerned as well; and perhaps they formed a HPC (Help the Paralyzed Committee) that would be comprised of respected Jewish elders. The Centurion sought the help of Jesus Christ, perhaps to come to the garrison headquarters and heal the young man.

It is better to walk alone, than with a crowd going in the wrong direction.” People often think that you are better for going with the flow. However, even a dead fish goes with the flow!

It is here that the power dialogue begins. Power is basically a noun, not an adjective as we often use it; power-naps, power-breaks, power-politics, power-drives, or even power-pack. The Centurion already knew about the meaning of power: “I am also under authority and have soldiers under me” (8:9).

When I say: “Jump!” My men simply reply, “How high?

When I say go, they go; when I say come, they come; when I tell my servants to do this, they do it – period!

However, Jesus Christ has supreme authority. He speaks and the worlds come into being. The universe is upheld by the word of His power. “Jesus, if you say the word, my servant will be healed.”

A humble speech that amazes Jesus and He turns to the crowd that is following Him out to the Roman outpost near the city limits of Capernaum, and says:

Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel (8:10).

Faith is always cultivated by looking at its object; faith is always weakened by looking at self. The servant was perfectly healed. The deliverance was complete and the HPC was in all, and commended by the Captain.

Most of all, the Captain discovers the real source of power. It was not him who had rank over his men; but it was the Creator who had the power over life, and thus all else.

Man (and woman, and child) needs to admit to the truth of who is in control. We would like to think that it is us. That it is OUR faith; it is the power of the superior leader of all creation..

Pogo once commented that he glances around and discovered that he discovered the problem with man, “it is us!”

How are we doing with our faith; does it reflect the reality of the power of Christ , benefit those around us, and those who are living afar?

May it be so.

I say to You, Arise!

Vol. 3 No. 3 – 1-21-2018

Young man, I say unto, Arise! –Luke 7:11-17

When we come to the end of life, these words can be melancholic: funeral, coffin, mortician, and cemetery/crematory.

We live is a generation that refuses to acknowledge the word “death.” We no longer say the word. Rather we say “passing,” sometimes “demise” of a loved one, or perhaps a loved one has “succumbed.” They have moved on to their “final reward,” and God needed another butterfly in His garden.

Not so long ago I spoke with a funeral director that has a client who purchased a custom casket. The piece of “furniture” had several custom drawers in place to hold the man’s coin collection, his stocks and bonds, and a large assortment of custom jewelry. The man is positioned to take his “stuff” with him. He really does not know about the reality of death.

In all this, there is a longing for a key to the mysteries of death; the unseen world arises, largely from humanity’s uncertainty as to whether death is a terminus or a junction.

Jesus and his disciples spent the day hiking about 18 miles to the little hillside village of Nain, nestled on a plateau on the northern slopes of the Hill of Moreh, near Mt. Tabor. As they arrived a funeral procession was slowly moving out to the rock tombs.

The group with Jesus was headed into town; the other group leaving the town. One group had the expression of joy and excitement; the other group was sat upon and depressed about death. The one group was headed by Jesus; the other group was headed by the bier of a dead young man and accompanied by the religious man of the town.

The group with the dead boy hired professional mourners, complete with flutes and cymbals; uttering in a kind of frenzy, their shrill cries of grief. It was perhaps a 10-minute march with the woman and husband that “lost” their son, his body borne upon a plank.

For the mom, it was a double whammy!

It is not by chance that the two groups came to meet one another; Jesus was right on schedule; by divine appointment He stops the funeral. He asks the sorrowing woman to stop weeping, and then says something that takes everyone present aback. Young man, come back to life again!

Immediately, the lad sits up, grabs the edge of the pallet, and the grave clothes are removed. He is once again united with his mother.

Jesus speaks to a dead corpse, and at once it becomes a living being. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the heart, the lungs, the brain, the senses again resume their work and discharge their duties. This is not a surprise for Jesus.

There are those who will say this is a fable, impossible. With God, nothing is impossible. He is the giver and creator of life.

Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever. –Hebrews 13:8

How many of us are lying dead on a wood pallet and need the presence of Jesus to get things started up again.

Do not wait until they get ready to seal the tomb; place you in a casket and bury you; or take you to the crematory. It maybe will be an unexpected reality that things are set in stone for your eternity.

Do not wait until it is too late!

We Should Think about our Fishing

Vol. 3 No. 2 – 1-14-2018

We fished all night and caught nothing! Luke 5:1-11

Sometimes when I fish, I do not catch anything – nothing! Then I have to improvise. The fish in the picture is not real, but it is the closest thing I could find to appease my mind.

It was a beautiful summer morning along the seashore of Galilee. On the beach were hundreds of people and the Teacher, Jesus, was sitting in Peter’s boat (it was a floating pulpit!) about 20 yards out in the water.

As soon as Jesus’ message was concluded, Jesus as Boat Captain, asked Peter as a Deckhand: “Launch out into the deep water! Let’s go fishing together.”

Peter’s response? “Master, we are worn out. Our nets are only half-cleaned, and besides, fish do not bite with the sunrays so bright! Not only that, but we returned having fished all night and ended up empty . . . all night, Master!”

For a fisherman it was a failure to produce in your normal life’s work. Peter told a true fish story: “We caught nothing . . . zip . . . white-washed.”

“Nevertheless . . . even though we know the habits of the fish; we know the weather, the currents, the prevailing winds, the feeding grounds, and we have years of experience at night fishing” (Looking at Jesus, their thoughts were, “I know You and You are not a fisherman”), “yet at Your word, we will try once more.”

I wonder if God was thinking that His fishermen should have better ears, than eyes, minds, and egos. Fishing conditions may be unfavorable, but when God says “let’s go fishing,” we should lay down our nets, or bait our hooks with the gospel of truth.

This Carpenter tells the expert fisherman how to be successful. Peter is not in the least degree depressed by past failure in fishing.

Are you living in discouragement from past failure? Are you trying to forget a night when you toiled and caught nothing? Are you scared of a new, daring enterprise that seems “impossible” but for the fact of God’s calling: “Launch out?

“Full sails ahead. Dip those oars deep.” God is calling, and His calling is always an enabling one.
Jesus Christ can take our failures and turn them into success; He can take our fears and turn them into courage; He can take our prejudices/biases and melt them with His love; He can take us, when we are in full retreat from God, by laying a rescuing hand upon us. He can turn us around to face a task that frowned at us, and to bring us back to where God has always intended us to be!

I think of Jonah. He probably heard echoes from the belly of a whale long years after the event. God called and he ran . . . the other way! I think about me. Think on yourself for a moment!

Peter responded, “At Your Word we will!” Christ’s cross of Calvary assures Christ’s mission is for us, His love underlines it, and His promises in His Word, the Bible certifies it. –Paul S. Rees

They did catch an enormous amount of fish; such a great amount the nets began to tear. So, they called for help from like–minded people. They immediately came, and filled two boats with the catch.

How about our fishing expeditions? Are we catching enough men and women that we have to call for help in our efforts to disciple them? Or, do we use a small net and only have a few straggling fish to bring into God’s kingdom.

We should think about our fishing … maybe even pray!.

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