Wednesday, June 16, 2010 the beginning

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem.His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting amongthe teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents [6] saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?” [7] 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her hear 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature [8] and in favor with God and man.(.Luke 2:41-52)

Right. So the "Christmas Story" happens and we really don't hear from Jesus until he was a bit older, in Jerusalem.  Now Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem every year during Passover. Jesus came as well. It was a family vacation (I wonder what those trips were like....when you have gigantic scrolls for books there can't be a novel that you want to take along that badly). So they get to Jerusalem and have a good time and after Passover they start their journey back to Nazareth. Not long after they left Mary and Joe notice Jesus is missing (great parenting right?...I can see that conversation now:
          Mary: Joeseph...have you seen Jesus?
          Joe: Not in a while...he's probably up with Aunt Flo's boys
          Mary: Your probably right.
 (5 Hours later)
          Mary: Are you sure he's with the other boys?
          Mary: Oh my gosh are you kidding me?
         Joe: hey don't put this whole thing on me!
         Mary: Oh I'm putting this on you! YOU LOST OUR SON
        Joe: IT WASN'T JUST ME! It was a collective effort

and family vacations haven't changed much since then... sorry for that, I have an over active imagination)

Mary and Joseph turn around and go back to Jerusalem to find Jesus. IT TOOK THEM 3 DAYS! This kid was missing for 3 days. I'm sure that Mary and Joe were a lovely combination of pissed and hysterically scared....always an interesting combo. When they find him he's not hanging out with the neighborhood kids. He's not defacing school property. He's not standing on a street corner crying for his mommy and, the find him in the friggin' TEMPLE! And he's not there for Youth Group. Your boy was actually chilling with the leaders. He was asking them questions and was understanding their answers and was figuring things out HIMSELF.  He was actually shocked when his parents were wondering where he was. Jesus fully understood that relationship with God. He really understood that to have that relationship you have to spend time seeking him. Some could say that "he had an unfair advantage...He's Jesus God's son. He already had that relationship." Yes. He was God's son, but we tend to forget something...while he was fully God's son, he was also FULLY MAN.  Jesus also needed to gain that relationship. He needed to find out who this God really was. He just understood easier than some of us.

So from there the next time we see and or hear form Jesus is just before he starts his ministry. So what did he do before then? Chances are he probably worked with Dad, Joseph. Joseph was a carpenter so Jesus probably learned the family trade and did the same. Mark Driscoll puts it this way..."Jesus' daddy swung a hammer for a living...until he started his ministry Jesus probably swung a hammer too. He was a blue collar working man." Thats a pretty awesome thought. It just adds to the human element of Jesus. it breaks down that perfect, fair skinned, long haired, manicured beard of Jesus. The picture perfect Jesus. The human version of Jesus makes him more accessible. Yeah he's God, but he's also there for anyone one who seeks him. An accessible God. (That's right contrary to popular belief my God is accesible to ALL!)

"They came from the rivers and towns all around
  to see the long haired preacher from the desert get down
 waist high in water never short on words 
 he said 'Repent, the kingdom of heaven can be yours'
 But he stopped in the middle of words and dropped
 down to his knees and said 'Behold the Lamb of God
 He's the One, the Slam, don't you people understand?
 Your staring at the Son of God, preachin' out his hand'"
~The Slam by Tobymac

That part of the song is based on Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist. Thats right folks Jesus had to get baptized. John was an interesting dude. He was that radicle hippie dude that we all look at and wonder about his sanity. Let me just John wasn't crazy. I mean the guy lived off the land. His clothes were made of camel hair...not camel
As you can see, camels don't have a lot of hair. your boy was dedicated. He ate locusts...a bug species...and HONEY! HE ATE HONEY! Ok so there isn't anything wrong with honey, it actually tastes pretty good, but still, If JTB (John the Baptist) were around today, we would think he was legit crazy.

John was a preacher and let me say, he PREACHED. If he was a guessed speaker in chapel, the clan (shout out to my brothers and sisters) would be fanning and "you betta go 'heading" every millisecond. JTB was truly about the kingdom and what that means. He understood that repentance is needed to enter the kingdom, and then ya gotta live your life accordingly.

He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood ofvipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them,“Whoever has two tunics [2] is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher,what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them,“Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”
15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17 Hiswinnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (LUKE 3:7-17)

As you can see John didn't mince words. He called people out who no one else would call out...which was awesome. He called out the Jewish leaders, Soldiers and Tax Collectors. He said "You want the Kingdom? You gotta fix the way you work." 

John also knew he wasn't the one to bring the Kingdom. He knew he was just another piece to God's plan. The best part about that statement for me is that HE NEVER CLAIMED TO BE. He never once claimed the one who was going to bring the Kingdom. The people thought he was but he stopped them and said "look I'm just a guy here. I'm baptizing you in water. But there is this dude coming and he will baptize you with fire. You want the kingdom? He's you guy."

Jesus comes down to the river where John is preaching, and John knows who he is immediately (Coincidentally they're cousins...Godliness runs in the family?). Jesus lines up to be baptized by John and when he gets to him John realizes what he's being asked to do. Imagine your being asked to baptize your own savior.  The one who is the only way to heaven. The one Isaiah prophesied about. He's asking you to baptize him. What's the first thing your going to say to him.  I know what I would say...HECK NO! After the stuff I've done? No you've gotta baptize me! 

That's exactly what John says. He says ain't no way I'm able to baptize you. I'm not that worthy. No you need to be baptizing me.  I love what Jesus says here:
 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.(Matthew 3:15)
Jesus isn't going to John to be baptized because John's the most holy man in the world. Jesus wasn't suppose to get baptized by this ultimate perfect holy man like the Pope ( I'm probably going to get destroyed for saying this, but the Pope is flawed like everyone else, making that perfect holy man comment...not so perfect). No John was created to proclaim the name of Christ. A regular joe was to let the people know the Messiah is coming. Thats who Jesus was suppose to get baptized by. A camel hair clothes wearing, bug and honey eating, river based, regular joe preacher. So John realizes that this needs to go down for everything that's been said about his cousin to be true, and gives in.

TIME OUT! Imagine you John in this situation. You've probably baptized hundreds of people, and your about to do the most important baptism ever. You about to baptize the one who can save you from your sin. The one that was prophesied about. The one. The Son. Imagine seeing Jesus walking into the water toward you. Your heart is racing with anticipation. Your wondering what your going to say. What can you say? He gets to you an gives you a little smirk, a smirk your use to. Its almost comforting to see. You put your hand on his head, and the other on his back, and you dip him into the water.

Now something awesome happens when he comes up from the water....
16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, [2] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, [3] with whom I amwell pleased.”(Matthew 3:16-17)

GOD AUDIBLY SPEAKS!!! Now as some one who's always wanted to audibly hear God and has had to learn
that he speaks in other ways as well, I have to admit THAT HAD TO BE AWESOME! I can just hear some little kid in the crowd now "THAT WAS TOTALLY WICKED" (name that movie) and the Holy Spirit makes an appearance as well! Man I would have loved to have been there

So both of these stories have me thinking:

  1. Jesus knew who he was from the start
    1. The fact that Jesus responds to Mary by saying that he was in his father's house tells me this; he knew that he was created by God, but beyond that he knew that God was more than just "God". God is our father and we are his children. I think a lot of times we create this perception that God is this figure that we can't get close to. BUT ITS THE EXACT OPPOSITE! He wants that relationship with us, that closeness. Francis Chan talks about that in his book Crazy Love. He devotes an entire chapter to talking about God as a father. When we realize this, we understand just how accessible our God is. Jesus understood that.
    1. Look he was fully God and fully human. We can't understand that because we're only fully human. Thus making us think that its only possible to be one or the other....If Jesus was one or the other...How could we be saved?
  3. JTB took the Kingdom seriously
    1. JTB was so so serious about the Kingdom. He knew that he needed to live in the wilderness, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, wearing homemade clothes and eating bugs and honey in order for him to be fully in tune with God. When He was in tune with God, he made himself able to hear what God was saying and he was able to relay it to the people. He was so in tune with God that he automatically knew who Jesus was. 
  4. God confirms Jesus as the Messiah
    1. Just the fact that the Holy Spirit comes down from heaven and touches him is confirmation enough, BUT GOD FREAKIN' SPEAKS! He lets the world know "yeah thats my boy". I can't get over how awesome that is. WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED???? 
Awesome...just awesome...I can't wait for the next post

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Beginning: Where everything starts

Thinking back to my earliest memories of Sunday School, the earliest I can ever remember hearing about Jesus was always in Matthew, in the New Testament. I never remember hearing about Him in the OT, so my obvious thought was that Jesus just kind of appeared in pretty sweet fashion (Come on, the dude was born from a girl who had never had sex! That's kinda awesome). Turns out Jesus is mentioned beforehand In the Book of Isaiah (also in other books in the OT but I'm specifically using Isaiah). Isaiah first mentions Jesus in chapter 7.

"1Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.  Behold, the  virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name  Immanuel.  15 He shall eat  curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good." (Isaiah 7: 14-15)

From that Isaiah tells us the very base of Jesus. In Luke  Jesus is born from Mary. A virgin. 

Bit of a back story on Ma and Pa. Mary was a young girl, I've heard between the ages of 13-15. She was set to marry Joseph a carpenter by trade who was between 35-40 (The thought of a 40 year old dude with a 13 year old girl just kind of makes me feel probably the same with most of you, but we've got to remember the times. That stuff was the culture. Thank God I can choose to love somebody who loves me back...I believe I have chosen wisely. I love her, she loves me we're in love...back to Mary and Joe) Mary was visited by an angel one day when she was alone and he told her that she would give birth to a son. 

30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for  you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and  you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of  the Most High. And the Lord Godwill give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  (Luke  1:30-33)

Imagine just being in your house, chilling by yourself and this dude with wings shows up and tells you your eggo is preggo. Not only does he tell you that, but also that the kid will come about with out you having sex, but don't worry you'll get preggo from  the Holy Spirit, but  no one will know thats how it happened. Oh and in case that isn't enough to process, the baby will be God's Son and he's going to save the world. 

Now after hearing that I feel that my reaction would be something like this:
"Ok so Wingman. I hear what your saying, but let me point a few things out to you. I'm like 13. Almost 14 but thats a big almost. I'm engaged, so if nobody knows that this is God's do you know what could happen to me? And what if this kid doesn't save the world? What if he ends up like everyone else?"

Mary doesn't react like that. Mary says right on. Lets do this thing. Thats faith. Faith in the fact that God knows what He's doing and that He'll take care of everything. Thats obedience. Obedience is one of the reasons God chose Mary. She took what God's telling her to do and ran with it. Think about us today. When God tells us to do something we say "That sounds good God it really does but I can't do that. I just can't." We turn into Moses the KING of "I can't". 

Now let's look at Joseph in this. Put yourself in his shoes.  He starts to notice that his future wife has put on a bit of weight. He probably doesn't really think to much on it. Then he starts to notice she's put on even more weight and people start talking. He finds out she's pregnant. This has to be extremely disheartening for Joe. His first thought is that Mary cheated on him with another guy. Now in that culture, Joseph could have easily flipped out and would have been in his rights to drag her into the streets and have her stoned (not injected with a hallucinogenic drug, but have rocks thrown at her. Harsh? I think so) but Joseph doesn't do that. He has a very good heart and decides to divorce her in private. This protects her life, and her dignity. Its not long before the same winged fellow appears to Joe in a dream and says "Dude, Mary didn't cheat on you. This kid is the son of God, and was conceived through the Holy Spirit, and your gonna raise him. So go ahead and relax"

The rest as they say is history. Mary and Joe ( I wonder if thats where we got the name 'Mary-Jo'...hmm...odd) journey to Bethlehem, Jesus is born in a manger in a stable, shepherds and wise guys come to visit him and give him gifts, Herod gets pissed and orders the slaughter of babies, but they escape to Egypt where the story really gets good.

Now all of this I've learned over the years, but now I'm really thinking about it. Heres whats going through my mind.

  1. BEFORE HE WAS BORN Jesus was making the faith of those He impacted stronger.
    • Mary and Joseph did not know for sure what was going on. There really was no way of knowing. But they knew their God. They knew that He would protect them. They knew he was in control of it all
  2. Joseph is a compassionate guy
    • Joseph would have been completely with in his rights (in that culture) to stone Mary to death. It isn't about what really happened. Its what it looks like. The appearance of evil. Imagine hearing your future wife (ladies pretend your a guy for a sec....there? ok good) comes to you and says that she got pregnant from God. Laughing in her face would be the appropriate thing to do. there is no way.  It sounds crazy. But Joe didn't do that. He pretty much said look I really down't want anything to do with you now. Your on your own. I don't want anything to do with this. Then God gets ahold of him and...yeah
    • Mary had more courage than anyone. She took the fact that she had a story that was not believable, the fact that she could die, the fact that nobody would believe her at all and rolled with it! She pretty much sacrificed her life for the Lord. Yeah...She's a beast
This story has been dubbed the Christmas Story, But I'd like to think of it as a story of Faith, because with out Faith none of this would be possible. Because of the faith and obedience of this story Jesus was born.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Journey

HOWDY! I'm Ty Walker (Most people call my both names so you may as well) I'm a Youth Ministry (which pretty much means I'm studying to be a Youth Pastor) major at Nyack College in New York. If you don't know me....Hello new friend! If you do know me, HELLO old friend! Most of you who know me know that I've attempted this blogging thing also know that I've failed quite miserably. In the past 2 years I've had 2 blogs....Both of which I posted less than 10 I posted less than 5. I'd like for this blog to actually take off. I'm starting this blog for a number of reasons, and if I've intrigued you enough, keep reading

I was born a Pastor's kid (PK). From the second I took a breath in this world I was almost destined to hear something about Jesus. I accepted Christ with my mom in the kitchen in my house in Pittsburgh. The rest as they say is history. From then I was actively involved in Sunday School and the mid-week programs (we called them clubs but I think that it was actually the Pioneer thing...right? Thats what the CMA uses? Right?) I also began Bible Quizzing (Competition where participants memorize portions of the bible and give answers for points...I was never good I just went for the social part of was awesome.) After I graduated 5th grade I moved on the Jr. High Youth Group. There I was introduced a whole new world where being a Christian was not only cool, but fun. I found myself immersed in a culture free flowing with Mountain Dew and where Worship music had electric guitars and lights. Being at a retreat was one of the best things in the world. I got to meet and hang out with other little Christians like myself, drink myself into a caffeine coma (oxymoron you ask? your a moron), and actually feel what it was like to be in the presence of God. Then I'd go back home and just get back into the routine. School during the week, Youth Group Wednesdays, Youth Group Sunday School on Sundays. Through out this I went on a couple of short term Summer trips. We went to a conference in Chicago one year. Another year I was able to go to a service camp down in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Both were pretty awesome. In High School I was a part of two Youth Groups (we moved after my Freshman year). Towards the end of my Sophomore year I started to think about what I wanted to do with my life. Previously the professions that were in the running were Stage Actor, Youth Pastor and Missionary. Stage Actor wasn't going to work because I get nervous and psych myself out before auditions and chicken out. Youth Pastor seemed easy enough, I mean all Youth Pastors do is hang out with students and video games and drink Mountain Dew right? (I've since found that this logic of thinking was so far wrong it's not even funny). Missions was something that I always thought was on my heart. There's a story that I came up to my dad after he got done leading worship at a family camp and told him I though God was calling our family to Africa....I was 6. The next place I wanted to be a Missionary was to China because at the time the didn't allow Christians and I wanted to defy laws. None of these professions seemed terribly appealing to me. Going into full time Ministry would make me like my dad and I wanted none of that, so I chose the furthest thing from it....THE ARTS! I decided to be a FIlmmaker. It didn't hurt that I wasn't too shabby at it. In College (I ended up at Nyack College. A small Christian College just outside of NYC) I noticed something...people at Christian Colleges come in all different walks with Christ. Some are brand new, some are seasoned vets, some have a relationship with him and others don't at all. I somehow got roped in with a group that was full of people with GREAT relationships with Him. People who understood his Love and Grace and who had SO MUCH FRIGGIN' FAITH! It blew me a way. I began to look at my own walk and towards the end of the year it dawned on me. I'd known who Jesus was my entire life. I accepted him as my Lord and Savior. I believed that he died on the cross to save me from my sins and that because of that I would see him in paradise. But despite all of that, I didn't really KNOW him. I didn't have a real relationship with him. I didn't try and find out what he was saying to me through his word, I didn't really know how he lived his life on earth, and because of that small fact I didn't know how I was suppose to be living....I realized I was a lukewarm Christian. I had fire insurance instead of both fire and cardiac insurance (If you get that joke COMMENT!) Everything I knew had been taught to me, thus my theology was really the theology of 18 years of Sunday School teachers and Youth Leaders. I was a Cookie Cutter Christian. I had all the answers to all the Bible stories, and could use the Bible to answer anything..but I didn't know what it really meant because I was just spewing off stuff I was taught not stuff I was learned. Information taught is not always information learned

SO thats the reason for the blog. I'm going to dive into the Bible (I got a new one I'm stoked) starting with the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and go from there. I'm going to start following Jesus' life and write out what it means to me. I may also just start writing thoughts that come out...give my own rendition of what I think sermons are in written form. I'll use the terms "we, we're, all etc" a with it. I really hope you enjoy my journey on becoming Re-Christian'd