That's the Book: Jude
In the 1980's it was awesome in Florida to purchase large Burmese pythons. Apparently the other drug dealers were not only impressed by white suit jackets with teal t-shirts but they also liked the idea of pets that could kill you. However, drug dealers don't have the best instincts when it comes to caring for living creatures so they frequently got bored and released their pets into the wild. In Florida the nearest wild is The Everglades. Fast forward almost 40 years and the pythons have taken over.
The python population in the Everglades is estimated to be at least 10,000 and could be as high as several hundred thousand. No one knows. In addition, "Scientists say that the snakes are responsible for a recent 90 to 99 percent drop in the small mammal population in the national park." (see citation link at the bottom of this post - seriously - read the whole article. It freaked me out). There are almost no rabbits, deer, raccoons or wild birds. The pythons have started taking on the alligators. Nasty.
The book of Jude was written by one of Jesus' brothers. He, like James, was not a follower of his family member until after he had witnessed the resurrection. But then Jude spent the rest of his life spreading the word about Jesus and serving the early church. The book of Jude is a one chapter warning to the church not to let false teachers into their midst. Because like the pythons in the Everglades, they have the tendency to kill, maim and destroy.
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you.They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. Jude 1:3-4
The group of scientists tasked with attempting to control the python population in the Everglades state that finding the snakes is difficult. But possible if you know and track their behavior. Same thing is true with people who do not have God's truth as their goal.
These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage. Jude 1:16
This verse makes me want to filter my Instagram feed through this perspective. Who am I following who grumbles all the time? Who finds fault? Who boasts or flatters for their own advantage? And a scarier question is do my social media posts reflect this or God's grace? Are my conversations with others patterned after Jesus or a snake?
The way to stay true is spelled out in Jude.
But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Jude 1:20-21
The quote from the python hunting scientist which really sunk in was this; "If nothing were done about these pythons, they could eventually convert our entire wildlife biomass into one giant snake".
And this is also why Jude wrote his letter to the church. If nothing was to be done about the lies influencing the early believes they could have been swayed from the truth by that original snake in the garden. Grumbling, pride, and lies are still today some of his favorite tactics. And like then, if nothing is done to remind the church to hold the line and stay with the truth outlined in scripture we could all turn into one giant lying snake.
But there is good news. Something was done about our invasion. Christ came. He lived a perfect life. Died for our sin and rose from the dead. And this something resets the environment we live in. Because of His life we have the power to overcome. Jude knew it. If you need encouraged today - read this verse out loud. Print it out. Post it on your fridge. Take a photo and make it your phone background screen. He is able to keep you from stumbling. Glory to Him.
To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 1:24-25
Take that snakes, liars, drug dealers, grumblers and prideful boasters. I know who wins.
Unless you are very familiar with the Old Testament and other Jewish historical texts; the book of Jude can be confusing. I really appreciated The Bible Project's overview as they went step by step through each section. This will help you unpack the important book and understand all the references.
Jackie Hill Perry is a poet, prophet and preacher. I love this woman's teaching. She just launched a full study of the book of Jude. I'd recommend you check it out.
And the link if you want to purchase Jackie Hill-Perry's new study on Jude.
Crazy interesting article about the Pythons in the Everglades. READ HERE. And if you want more go to YouTube and look up Python vs. Alligator. You'll see how I spent my Saturday morning. FREAKY.
That's the Book: 3rd John
When I was about 12 my family took a vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. My parents had been there previously and had befriended a family who lived nearby. So we were thrilled this trip to have personal tour guides and help with translating Spanish. Kind friends always make things more fun. We got to go horse back riding out in the jungle, take a ride across the bay and then climb up to a gorgeous waterfall and generally see some sights not on the normal tourist itinerary. Our friends owned an apartment in Guadalajara so their children could attend college and they invited us to stay there with them over the weekend. One epic night we rode through the old town in a horse drawn carriage and they hired a mariachi band to serenade us all during dinner. Such good hosts!
This kind of cheer reminds me of the joy with which John writes to his friends in the book of 3rd John. This one chapter book is the third in a series of books to encourage and challenge his friends. John's main points this book where to cheer joyfully on their faith and to encourage them to practice hospitality for follow believers.
It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John: 2-3
Our trip to Mexica was fantastic. And then near the end of our time there, my family all got sick. Barfing, way too much time in the bathroom, thought we were gonna die Montezuma's revenge kind of sick. And this is when our hostess really kicked in.
I'll never forget the care of this sweet mama. She welcomed us into her home, made us the most lovely tea, went to the local pharmacy for electorolite drinks so we would not become dehydrated and generally comforted this lot of pitiful travelers. We felt better. Not so much in our bodies - that took a few days - but we immediately felt better in our souls.
This is what good hospitality does. It makes you feel welcome, included, comforted and known. This mama made me feel better 30 years ago and I still am grateful.
John was a traveling pastor - as were many of those believers in the early church. And the local people who gave them room and board made all the difference. So John spends the rest of this chapter reminding them to show hospitality - and to call out those who don't.
We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth. I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. 3 John 1:8-10
Over my life I've had other times when friends and believers made me feel welcome. When a meal made all the difference between hope and despair. When I wasn't sure how to continue and someone had a cup of coffee, made me laugh and encouraged me forward.
Some people are intimidated by hospitality. They get caught up in a cycle of comparison, self doubt and shame. My guess is this is partly fueled by too many instagram posts of perfect dinners and the predictable Pinterest fail.
Listen. Hospitality doesn't have to be fancy. My friend in Mexico gave us hugs, looked us in the eye, made us a cup of tea. She didn't need fancy to show love. And neither do we. This is work we can all do. And its joy giving.
Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. 3 John 1:11
A neighbor was sharing with me a story from when they lived in Oklahoma. We had got onto the subject of tornadoes and the odd things they do.
A family had just sat down to dinner one stormy evening when the tornado watch alarm sounded. Being in Oklahoma, they had a storm cellar that they could immediately retreat to safety.
The tornado ended up hitting their home spot-on! Unharmed, the family eventually emerged from their storm cellar to find that their home had been completely demolished. They soon, discovered, however, that their dinner table had somehow remained untouched. Everything, including the food, was in perfect order still awaiting for them to resume their evening meal.
How fantastic is that!? I have heard of tornadoes doing strange things, but this one floored me the most.
There are days when we see the tornadoes of evil that seem to be swirling in our world more viciously than ever. These things we are witnessing can sometimes feel like an unbearable weight on our spirit.
My husband sent me a cute Peanuts meme of Pigpen stating, “Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.”
Do you know what else spins? The spin cycle of our washing machines. And what is it’s purpose? To pull out all the final impurities that the rinse cycle has brought out of our clothes.
The spinning tornadoes we face in life can do the same in us if we look to God to see us through. He can use them to pull out the impurities in us so we can shine more each day in the midst of the grey stormy clouds.
God is our “storm cellar”. With faith, we have to believe that He has us fully covered and safe in the midst of the worst of evil’s tornadoes that seem to beat mercilessly. When the tornadoes end, because eventually they do end, we will rise above it all, shining and pure and “ we shall see Him, face-to-face”. (I Corinthians 13:12).
He will be glowing brighter than the sun and He will have a banquet table set perfectly for us and we will celebrate the final end of all storms!
That's the Book - 2nd John
It was the resident chef's birthday yesterday so I took the day off work and we went on a little adventure. We had lunch at Skamania Lodge. We've both been on diets so eating something of substance with this fantastic view was lovely. I had blackened salmon tacos. Dessert was a huckleberry bread pudding. Sigh. We really enjoy good food. Tis why we are currently on diet.
After the lunch we hustled over to our appointment with the Skamania Lodge Adventure team and spent a couple hours zip lining. The longest zip line was 950 feet long - over three football fields worth of trees and wind and fun.
Our guide pointed out a massive old growth Doug Fir in the middle of their forest. He said the reason it hadn't been cut when the rest of the area had been logged was because it had been hit by lightening. The bad event in this tree's history had saved its life. Interesting idea to ponder.
But even cooler was the fact that this tree had split at the top because of the lightening and over the years seeds had fallen into the split and spouted two new trees. Up in the top of this gorgeous senior tree there are two sisters reaching high. And one of them isn't even a Doug Fir. Its is a Spruce. I love this.
Check out the funky branches half way up. They aren't branches. They are roots. Spread out to capture more rain to feed the host tree and the two grafted offspring trees.
Which brings me to the book of Second John. Its short. One chapter long. John is writing to his fledgling churches. John had seen hardship over his life. Lots of it. But his continuing message to those who followed behind is to keep on. The message didn't change.
It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his command. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1: 4-6
This big birthday adventure was full of the same kind of joy I've been sharing with this man for over 25 years. A little adventure, some good food, some pretty spectacular roots. We've had some rough patches - a little lightening here and there - but our goal is the same as the one John had. To support our family (those born to us and those grafted in) and to continue to walk in love.
I echo John. And this incredible tree. Weather the storms. Spread out your roots. Make room for others. Walk in love.
That's the Book: 1st John
My first car was a 1982 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme with a 350 engine. The car was brown with tan interior. The headliner had lost integrity so hung down until I get sick of it rubbing my head. I ripped it down. Then instead of a drooping headliner, I had orange foam above my head which periodically would rain down. The car also had a minor coolant issue so most of the time it smelled like maple syrup. This was a very fast, very brown and orange slightly smelly car. I was grateful my parents gave me a car to drive and so I didn’t complain. Much.
After a while the car developed an issue with headlights.There was some sort of short in the high beam / low beam controller. As a result the headlights would randomly blink off. If I held the control stick very steady the headlights would come back on. I always forgot to mention this problem to my parents. Likely because I was always just sliding into the house at curfew and the relief of making curfew would kick any thought of car maintenance out of my head. During the day I didn’t use the lights so I didn’t think about it. And of course I’m old enough I didn’t drive around with a cell phone.
The problem was getting worse. Instead of always staying on when I held the light now it would only mostly stay on. Mostly having headlights is not ideal. Especially in the dark country roads I traversed on my way home. Light is important. The
The book of 1 John is a letter to the early churches from the apostle John. The book has two main messages. God is light - so stay in it. Second - God is love - so love one another. Not complicated. But important.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you; God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifiers us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful nd just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. 1 John 1: 5-9
I finally had a night where I could NOT get the headlights in my car to stay on. Quite stupidly I inched home in the dark. The next morning I finally told my father. He’s an electrician. He knows all about lights. He immediately got the car into the shop and the lights fixed. The fact that my father was an electrician did not solve my light problem - because I didn't bother to stay in communication with him. The second I did so - the light problem was resolved.
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. I John 2: 8-10
The wonderful thing about my parents is they were thrilled to fix my car. They wanted me to be safe driving. They didn't want me to crash in the dark. And here is one of my favorite verses about God the Father - He has great love - and He lavishes it on us.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1
I suppose the logical question is why does it matter that God loves me? What do I do with this information?
Think about my car again. If I had never gotten the headlights fixed and had continued to drive in the dark - death or paralyzing fear would be next. Once the car was fixed I could trust the headlights to do their job. So what I did next was drive. I moved forward. And that's what happens when we have the light and love of God. We move forward. Without fear. We can go into our future and love as we've been loved.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:18-19
Any kid who grew up in church in the USA during the 80s knows this song. The rest of you might as well join in. It's as good a summary of 1st John as any.
And this one. Straight from 1st John - and the 80s. Kids Praise Psalty style. We sang this all lined up in front of church. These words are written on my heart after hours of practicing this round. Fancy. Listen in - you'll feel like you are five again.
And if you still don't understand 1st John - here are the guys at the Bible Project with their walk through in Read Scripture. Check it out This video actually includes 1st, 2nd and 3rd John.
This September I'm working through Jon Acuff's SeptemberJanuary challenge. The idea is to use the momentum of back to school just like a New Year's resolution. I've got six (maybe seven or eight) speaking events between now and Christmas so I'm working on these speeches as my goal every day this month.
This story and application to life came to me this week while I was thinking about the idea of God as our father. Let me know what you think. Do you have other insights about Father God?
When I was about ten years old we went camping. Not fancy camping. Out in the boonies, no bathrooms or electricity camping. My dad would take us fishing weaving our way around high mountain streams. The trout we caught would shimmer in the sunshine. We’d cook the trout over the fire and finish the night with marshmallows.
One time my sister and a friend and I were out playing in the woods just to the side of our campsite. I’m not the most observant person so I didn’t see the large yellow jacket hive until I stepped right on top of it.
The yellow jackets were not impressed.
Imagine if you had your house crushed. You’d probably fight back. The bees certainly did.
I started to yell as the stinging spread. My friend grabbed my little sister and ran for cover. I started to try and head back to the campsite while flailing my arms about and yelling and screaming. As I crashed through the brush I had bees in my shirt, down my pants, stinging - stinging - stinting - crying.
And then my father showed up. He’d heard me screaming and came running. He grabbed me, picked me up and ran toward camp. He held his arms with me in them over the campfire. I was freaked out by the bees and now the fire but I trusted my dad.
Turns out my dad knew bees don’t like smoke and it worked like a charm.
Off the bees went and left me alone. My mom brought out the meat tenderizer and we made a paste for each of the stings. I was covered head to toe. My dad was stung as well. He didn't complain.
You see this is what a father does:
Hears his child’s cry.
Runs toward the pain even at risk of himself.
Knows sometimes being held over a fire is the way to the cure.
I see this same story played out in the Bible. Do you?
It was a grey and cloudy morning. The second day of Cub Scouts Day camp. It was actually quite refreshing after the summer heat of the day before! My seven-year-old son and I had arrived early. As I was chatting with another scout mom, I mentioned how excited I was that Sheppard and I had actually had enough time for a sit-down breakfast of leftover waffles and pancakes from my culinary extravaganza from the Saturday prior.
“Yum!”, said my friend of twin boys. “We had sausage.”
“Well, nuts!” I thought to myself, “That sounds much more substantial than my ‘Bob’s Red Mill multi-grain mix. Like it really even matters, Jennifer.” I scolded my pride.
“Boys! Tell Jennifer what else we had.”
In my mind I imaged a gourmet omelet or hearty nourishing breakfast burrito at this point.
One of her boys looked at me with an enormous, satisfied grin, “Pie! We had banana-crème pie!”
I burst out laughing, “That’s awesome!” (and no, it wasn’t because it had soothed my pride…. Okay… well, maybe a little bit.). “What a fun breakfast!”
They had been cleaning out her Mother-in-Law’s kitchen and pantry. Being from the Depression Era, there was an ample supply of horded food, including some frozen pies that needed to be eaten. She had hoped they would be thawed and baked for after dinner the night before. However, her best laid plans did not “pan” out. The thawing process took longer than expected.
Her boys had so been looking forward to those pies she decided to bake them up for breakfast the next day. Clearly, a delightfully fun memory was also the ‘Pie`ce de Re’sistance” served up that morning.
It is said, “All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy.”
Ecclesiastes 8:15 states, “… here is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and drink and be merry, (in other words, ‘Have fun! And this will stand by him in his toils.”
Notice it says, “in his toils?”. Not instead of his toils. But that a “Spoon full of Sugar, or in this case “pie”, helps the medicine go down.
We as parents, meaning well, can tend to take raising our kids right too seriously at times. So much so, we forget to just have fun and enjoy them. Let’s face it! Kids love having fun! And where the fun is, that is where they will be magnetized to.
Now I am not advocating recklessness or irresponsibility by any means, but breaking code in the middle of the “daily-do’s” is mentally and emotionally healthy for all involved. It’s a perspective changer and lifts the ‘heavies”.
As a first born, I can tend to easily be responsibility-oriented to a fault.
I have found that humor or a pause for fun keeps me from spiraling down the whirlpool of the daily grind. It renews my mind and refreshes my purpose. It’s not just the day-to-day that God wants us to live. It’s “Life” He wants us to have!
Kids need this survival tool too! A balance of “ Merry” to see them through the weights of peer, school, and, yes, even parent expectations.
I love writing for Wall of Faith! The ideas are always flowing through my brain. However, to sit down, like now, and write it out, I always tend to make that part a heavier burden in my mind then what it actually is when I just sit down and do it.
So yesterday, I decided to join our son in the making of his creation “Snoopy-mobile!” All I ended up doing was painting two wheels, two rainbow stripes, and two white sides. He did the rest. But, oh, the joy of bonding with him and letting my mind relax as I painted was exactly the second wind I needed to sit down today, clear minded and freeing my fingertips to “trip the light fantastic” across the keyboard!
So I leave you with this simple “pie-for-life” recipe. Mix a cup of Mary with a cup of Martha and stir until well mixed. Crank up the oven and slice up the pie! Bring “Beauty” to the “Beast” of the worldly heavies and help yourself to a generous “Slice of Life!”
Empowering Parents and Young Children
Without a doubt, this is the best idea book I’ve seen for small children. As a Kindergarten teacher, Early Childhood Director, frequent library patron and a parent of a child with special needs, I have read stacks of similar books. This book is hands-down my favorite. It includes beautiful full color photos of activities, a quick reference section for child-development and uses a whole child development approach. Every day-care, preschool, grandparent and parent should have a copy of this book. I highly recommend this book as a professional development resources for teachers of young children and schools should have copies of it in their parent lending libraries as a parent education resource. This book would make a great baby shower gift or a first birthday present. I am thrilled to own a copy and will use it intentionally with my own toddler.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for this honest review. Michelle K.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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