For over four years I have been on an incredible journey of preaching through the gospel of John at Big Meadow Campground in Townsend, Tennessee. Today that journey is over. I will soon preach my last message from this incredible experience that John shared with the world.
The first thing that John wants us to know in these last couple of verses is that he was a disciple of Jesus. He was one of the men who journeyed with Jesus for three years or so. He is testifying to what he saw during this experience. He wants us to know that it is true. In doing this, he gives us a good model of how to give our own testimony to others.
Notice he doesn’t go into detail about his life before Jesus. Maybe you have heard testimonies where there is so much detail about how bad someone’s life was before Christ. Sometimes they even seem to miss that life. John doesn’t do that. He just states that he was a disciple. What should we do? Just say that we were lost and we came to know Christ. Testify to what Christ has done in your life. Tell them the truth. Don’t downplay it. Don’t exaggerate it. Follow the Jack Webb method. Just the facts.
John then ends his Gospel with what I always think is an incredible statement. He says that there were many other things that Jesus did, so many, in fact, that if they were written in detail the world couldn’t contain all of the books that would be written.
What we got from John ( and the other Gospel writers) was kind of like a highlight show. John didn’t have the ability to write everything down. Under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote what he wrote. But it wasn’t everything that Jesus did. Do you find that as incredible as I do?
When I was a kid, it would be a treat to stay up occasionally and watch Monday Night Football. Inevitably, at some point during the game, Don Meredith would sing, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.” One team had clinched victory when Dandy Don would break out in song.
That’s where we are in John’s gospel. Christ has clinched victory. The game is over. Turn out the lights. The party’s starting.
Paul made his way away from Fox Creek up the hill . To his left was a beaver dam that had his old entryway blocked. He moved toward drier ground and then would circle back to where he loved to hunt. It slowed him down getting to where he would wait, but it was fine. He was in the woods and it would be a beautiful day when the sun came up.
He walked approximately a quarter of a mile to where he liked to hunt. He found a spot where a tree had fallen beside a rock. He nestled in eager hoping the tree and rock would help disguise him from the deer. In front and below him sat a rock in a hollow. He had seen deer from this spot before funnel down in front of the rock. It gave him a great chance to move into position when they came back into sight from the other side.
A year ago he wouldn’t have been hunting on Sunday. He would have been teaching his Sunday school class. A pang of what hit him? Guilt? Perhaps. Regret? Possibly. He certainly would have loved to have still been teaching his class. He loved to dig into the Bible during the week and create a lesson to share with everyone else on Sunday mornings. He loved to hear the discussion that ensued, even when he did not agree with the others’ take on what he was teaching. He had seen a few people grow and dig into the word themselves. That was what made him happier than anything else.
He had been blogging for a couple of years. He had done it mostly in anonymity, with very few people, if any, actually reading what he had to say. He had discovered that he loved to write and wrote about all things involving the church. He wrote a few pieces that he thought were satirical and that’s where things had begun to go bad. A person or two in the Sunday school class had discovered his blog. One had even called him upset over one that, in retrospect, he wished he hadn’t written.
He had wanted Donald to leave the church for some time. He had felt that Donald was just biding his time until he retired. It seemed to Paul that Donald was just going through the motions.
Others had noticed this as well and many of them talked amongst themselves about it. Still others thought loved Donald and thought he was doing a good job. A division within the church was definitely beginning to develop.
Paul definitely felt like a new direction was needed. He wrote in general on his blog about the what type of direction he wanted in church, any church. He did not point at anyone in particular, but evidently several believed that he was writing about their particular community of faith and their pastor. Unbeknownst to Paul, what he was writing was making the rounds through the church and upsetting a few people, none the least, Laura.
One morning during Sunday school, Bill announced that he would like for the entire class to meet one night to discuss the direction of the church and what they as a class could do about it. The time was agreed upon and everyone met at Bill’s house. After some discussion, Bill announced that they would approach Donald to discuss where the church was headed. After much discussion, the class wanted Bill and Paul to lead in approaching the pastor.
Paul said no.
While he definitely wanted Donald to leave and a new direction to the church, he was content to wait it out. He felt like God was in control and would move the situation along in His time without his involvement. He simply wanted to teach his class, write his blog, and pray for God to move the church.
He noticed a change almost immediately. A few class members did not show up the following Sunday. Even more the next. These were all members who did not normally miss. To add to Paul’s consternation, they were at church for the service. He even began to notice the strange looks some people in the church gave him. More and more, folks were avoiding him. The the bombshell was really dropped on him. The Education Committee wanted to meet with him.
Paul entered the meeting with no idea what was happening. It was time to select positions for the coming church year, but that was just normally rubber stamped and everyone went about their business. This time was different. As he entered the meeting room, he could feel the eyes of all the committee members bearing into him. Donald was there, but he would not look at Paul. Paul felt like he was marching in front of a war tribunal.
The chairman of the committee spoke. He said that he understood that Paul was trying to lead a charge to remove Donald as pastor through his writing of his blog and his Sunday school class. He described Paul as a disruption to the unity of the church and they felt as though they had no choice but to remove him from his position of Sunday school teacher. There was no response when Paul tried to give his side of the story. They simply said the decision had been made and dismissed him.
Paul was devastated as he drove home. His mind was a million miles away when his cell phone began to ring. It was Bill. Bill told him that they the deacons needed to meet with him one night this week. Paul felt the body shot as Bill said this. He asked Bill what it was about. Bill simply said that they had been informed about the decision of the Education Committee and needed to talk to him about it. Paul could not believe what he was hearing.
Paul arrived home and sat in his truck unable to move. He needed to go into the house and tell Leslie what had happened, but he simply sat there. He prayed. He cried. He prayed and cried some more. Finally, he went in. Leslie simply hugged him when he told her the news. They talked and prayed about it together. Finally, they knew what they had to do.
The next morning Paul called Bill on his way to work. He told Bill that he would not be meeting with the deacons. In fact, he told him, he would resign from his deacon position. He told Bill that he and Leslie would be leaving the church. He also told Bill what he thought of how he had manipulated the situation to make it seem that Paul was the bad guy in all of this. Bill tried to act indignant, but Paul would not give him a chance. He said his piece and hung up.
Now, a year later, he and Leslie were still without a church and he was deer hunting on a Sunday. He would not have believed it a year or so beforehand.
He heard a crack and there she was. A doe following the trail he expected. He watched walked down the hollow just as he thought. He passed the rock and continued on her way. Paul waited.
Five minutes or so later, the buck arrived following the identical path the doe had. He seemed to be in no hurry. His pace was slower than the doe as he would walk a while, then stop and look. His gaze seemed to fall on Paul several times, but he seemed to not know that Paul was there. Finally, he walked behind the rock and Paul got ready. After what seemed an eternity, the buck emerged on the other side of the rock. Paul was ready and gently squeezed the trigger. The buck took about steps running and fell. Paul watched the buck for several minutes before he walked to where he lay.
It had been a good hunt. Now he had a dead deer on his hands.
For a while, I wanted to boost the readership of my blog. I worked hard at it. I wrote a lot. I read a lot of other blogs. I commented. I tweeted my posts out several times a day. Steadily, the views and comments on my blog grew.
I’ve been wondering about all of that lately.
I’ve wondered if I have been just contributing to the noise.
Yes, contributing to the noise on other blogs. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the conversation. But I wonder if I’m just noise on some blogs. Just another blast of white noise being pushed into the blogosphere.I twee
Not just there, though.
Am I raising the noise level in my own life? Am I being so noisy in my own life that I can’t hear what is important?
The Bible tells to “Be still and know that I am God.”
Are we still and quiet enough to really know him? Or are we so busy with the noise we make that we can’t hear God in the quiet?
In 1 Kings, Elijah did not hear the Lord in the strong wind or the earthquake or the fire. He was not in all that noise. The Lord was heard in a gentle blowing.
The Lord was heard when everything quieted down.
That’s what I need in my life. Maybe that’s what you need in yours. Maybe that’s what we all need.
Are you contributing to the noise? Do you need more quiet in your life?
*Yes, that is a Public Enemy and Anthrax reference in the title. What can I say? My musical tastes were quite varied when I was younger.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I ask a question and I get an answer that isn’t relevant to what I want to know. When I think about it, I often realize that what really happened was that I asked the wrong question. If this happens in normal everyday life, why should we be surprised when it happens in our life of faith?
How often do I have to go to church?
Do I really have to give 10 percent?
How often should I read my Bible? Should I in the morning, at night, or both?
Should I start my day off with prayer?
How far can I go with this girl I’m dating and still be pure?
Insert your own question, any question.
I think all of these and most that we can think of are the wrong question. The answers we come up with will not be sufficient for our goal. What is that?
To draw close to God. To be like Jesus. To be holy as He is holy.
What is a really good question to ask? How can I get closer to God? How can I be more like Jesus? How can I become more holy?
When Jesus is our goal, then we can dispense with those other questions? When Jesus is our goal, we don’t have to ask how often we have to be at church or how much money we give. Our lives become a total sacrifice to him. Each moment is driving us close to Him.
When Jesus is the goal, the questions don’t have to be asked because He is the Answer.
Do you ever ask the wrong questions? Do you know the Answer?
On Monday, I left work early feeling bad. I had not felt good for a few days. It was going to be useless for me to stay at work, so I went home. I changed clothes, climbed into my recliner and slept for about two hours.
When I woke up, I felt better. I had a better attitude. My perspective was clearer.
In short, I was better than before.
I wondered if there was a spiritual side to sleep.
I thought back to when Elijah fought the priests on the mountain. After winning, he was on top of the world. Then Jezebel threatened his life and he fled. He went into the wilderness, sat down under a tree and slept. When he woke up, an angel provided food and he ran for forty days to Mount Horeb. There he received further ministering from the Lord.
The point of this story is not sleep. However, it’s not something to be ignored.
Elijah was at his wit’s end. He had just had a huge spiritual victory. His life was threatened. He was stressed and he left the area in a hurry. He didn’t seem to be taking care of himself.
The first thing he did when he got away was sit down and sleep.
It wasn’t to go to the temple.
It wasn’t to go have fellowship.
It wasn’t prayer.
It wasn’t to sacrifice.
It was sleep.
Elijah slept. Then he ate and drank. He got off by himself.. He spent time with Lord
All proceeded by sleep.
Sometimes we just need to rest. Sometimes that can be the most spiritual things we can do.
Do you want a boost to your spiritual life?
The first thing you might want to do is make sure you are getting the proper rest and sleep.
Maybe we should make sleep a spiritual discipline.
Do you get the proper amount of sleep? Can you tell a difference in your spiritual life based on the amount of sleep you get?
There’s an old country song that goes, “if you mind your own business, then you won’t be minding mine.”
I wonder if that wasn’t a little bit of what Jesus was telling Peter in John 21.
John’s gospel is just about complete. Jesus tells Peter that he will die in service to Him. Peter asks about John. Jesus’ answer in fantastic.
“If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me.”
Don’t worry about John, Peter. You worry about following me.
We would do well to follow this word from Jesus.
You don’t like the song someone sings in church? Don’t worry about it. Follow Jesus.
You don’t like someone who raises their hands in church? Don’t worry about it. Follow Jesus.
Someone is wearing something you wouldn’t wear? Don’t worry about it. Follow Jesus.
What Jesus seems to be saying to Peter is that Peter is responsible for following Jesus on his own. He is not responsible for John’s following of Jesus. Or others. Sure, he is to feed, tend and shepherd the sheep. But he is not responsible for their reaction to Jesus.
Only his own.
Basically, Jesus is telling to mind his own business. That’s a job in itself.
I know it is for me.
Let’s mind our own business.*
Have you ever had any trouble minding your own business?
*I know there is a fine line when it comes to minding your own business and confronting things like heresy.
This is a tweet that I posted yesterday:
“Between sickness and reunions, have not been to church in three weeks.”
It’s been a while since I have missed three weeks of church. In fact, it’s been about a year. It’s been since I left my previous church last August. We have been in a new church now for all of 2012. I’ve missed church now for these three weeks. There is one word to describe how I feel right now.
Why am I weary?
There have been some bumps in the road along the way and I’m weary.
I drive 30 minutes to work and back home every day and I’m weary.
I drive to church 3o minutes to church and back on Sunday’s and I’m weary. Make that another hour of driving if I went back on Sunday nights, which I’ve not done in months. Weary.
Both of my kids and I have been sick over the past few weeks and I’m weary.
I’m just weary. Weary of just stuff.
Jesus invites all who are weary and heavy-laden to come to Him and He will give them rest.
I’m weary of all that stuff.
I’m weary of the bumps in the road.
I’m weary of traveling 30 minutes and 20 miles out of my community to go to church after doing it five days a week for work.
I’m weary of little illnesses we’ve faced lately.
I’m weary and heavy-laden. I want His yoke and to learn from Him because He is gentle and humble in heart and it is from Him that I will find rest for my soul. His yoke is easy. His burden is light.
I’m weary of being weary.
Do you ever get weary?