Thursday, December 04, 2014

The One Greater than I

7And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I,
the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.
8I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:7-8)

Here’s John’s message, there comes one more powerful than I. As ministry grows and influence increases, there’s a part of the human consciousness that likes, perhaps even craves the attention and popularity of others. However, we must never forget, we have been merely sent to prepare the way. All the road signs and on-ramps do not lead to us, but to Christ. Our ambition is not to be our notoriety, popularity or numbers, but in pointing others toward the One who is Famous. I love how the Gospel of John records John the Baptist’s comments. He sees himself as the “best friend” and “best man” of the “bridegroom.”

27John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 29The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:27-30)

May I be like this! What best-man tries to steal the attention of the groom? Yet, how often do I/we, even unconsciously secretly wish to gain the attention of the masses, however small that “mass” may actually be?

God, show me any ways, however subtle that they may be, where I try or desire to draw attention to myself, rather than You – the bridegroom.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

An Invitation to Journey

Prepare the way for the Lord.
(Mark 1:3)

The word prepare means “to make ready” or “ to build.” As in to build a house and furnish it. It was used in reference to those who were about to commence on a journey. As such, they would begin to ponder the path before them. They would think through what supplies they would need and then they would begin “to pack up” and make ready for the trip.

The way
This word means “way,” “path,” “road,” “route,” also “course,” “journey,” “march,” and figuratively means, “procedure,” “manner.” Life is often compared to a way, as in phrases that speak about the path of life or the manner of life.[1]

John is out to the wilderness. People come to hear him. He invites people on a journey. They are currently traveling down the path of their own demise. They are given an alternative. Each person is challenged to “repent,” to begin to think differently about who they are, where they are headed and ultimately who they are following.


Change the trajectory of your journey – turn to God. And ultimately, follow the One who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

Christianity is more than a adhering to a prescribed set of beliefs or doctrines. It is a journey. As Eugene Peterson said, it is a long obedience in the same direction.

The operative word is long. It’s ongoing and progressive. As we journey with Christ, the paths of our life, the internal routes of our mindsets and heart-sets continually need to be made ready, renovated and refurnished. There are things, perhaps that we started this journey with that now need to be laid down. Baggage.

God, may I never reduce this journey you’ve called me on to a mere set of beliefs, duties or doctrines. May I never take on the mindset of one who has “arrived.” For, as Merton said, I shall always be a beginner. May I continue to walk with open hands and “backpack” before You. As I journey before and with You, may I with great courage lay down any and everything (the sin and the weight) that so easily entangles me.

[1] Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (666–667). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The Wilderness Within

"a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
'Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.' " (Mark 1:3)

There’s a “wilderness” in me. Areas that have yet to become full formed to the image of Christ. What does it look like for these areas to be “prepared” for the Lord? How might they be made “straight paths”?

4And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. (Mark 1:4-5)

I have a part to play in my own formation. I am responsible for responding to the “voice” that is calling out to me – into these wilderness places. God is there, in the wilderness of my soul – calling – waiting – wanting for me to be baptized. To be immersed in the Holy Spirit. To experience forgiveness and freedom.

Will I go out to meet him there…? 
Will I confess my sin(s)…? 
Will I descend into the Jordan – the place of descending death to the self…