Of Authors and Authority

Have you ever really thought about the word “authority?”

When Jesus finished his great “Sermon on the Mount” (found in Matthew 5-7), which includes such oft-quoted passages as the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer and the story of the wise man who built his house on the rock, “the crowds were astonished at [Jesus’s] teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” (Matthew 7:28-29 ESV)

Jesus’s teaching had power. Jesus wasn’t just quoting somebody else. Jesus wasn’t just repeating other people’s rules. Jesus had authority to tell people what to do.

Like when other people’s children come over to my house, they have to follow my rules. Jesus, as the Almighty Creator-God, has total authority to tell us, His Creation, how we ought to live.

Then, in Matthew 28:18 (ESV), after Jesus has been resurrected and is about to ascend to heaven, we again find the word “authority.” Jesus told His followers, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

What an encouragement that is to me! Jesus has total authority over heaven and earth. Whether you or I recognize it or not, whether we submit to Him or not, God is in charge over heaven and earth. Jesus has complete authority over our lives.

In Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV), we are told to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I love this passage. Really, I love all of Hebrews 12. (I give you permission to stop right now and go read all of Hebrews 12, then come right back!)

Looking at various translations of Hebrews 12:2, KJV and NKJV translates “founder and perfecter” as “author and finisher of our faith,” and NASB translates it “author and perfector of faith.”

In English I see a connection between Jesus having all authority in heaven and earth, and Jesus being the author and finisher of faith.

Jesus wrote our faith and Jesus finished our faith. He is our perfect example. He is both the main character and He is the author. All things were made through Him and for Him.

Because Jesus has been given all authority in Heaven and on earth, so we must obey His commands and walk in His ways. And because He is the author and the finisher of our faith, we can place our complete trust in Him, looking towards Him as we run with endurance this race that He has set before us.

How does Jesus having all authority encourage you?

How does Jesus being the author and perfector of faith strengthen you to run with endurance the race God has set before you?

What is God calling you to do — or not do — today?

TWIG

About Apologies

After almost 25 years of marriage, and raising four children, I’ve both given my fair share of apologies and received them. I’ve instructed my children to accept responsibility for their actions and apologize far more times than I can count.

For the past two months, our women’s Sunday morning class has been watching a series of videos called, “Resolving Everyday Conflicts” by Ken Sande’s Peacemaker Ministries. They are available for free through RightNow Media if your church has a RightNow Media account. Or you can find the DVD or the book online at Christian Book Distributors.

I found Session 5, “Accepting Responsibility, Making an Effective Apology,” to be particularly helpful. The speaker shared seven A’s for an effective apology.

  • Address Everyone Involved
  • Avoid If, But, and Maybe
  • Admit Specifically
  • Apologize, Acknowledging the Hurt
  • Accept the Consequence
  • Alter your Behavior
  • Ask for Forgiveness and Allow Time

In light of this recent teaching, the interaction between Adam and Eve and their Creator in Genesis 3 jumped out at me.

After eating the forbidden fruit, God asked Adam two pretty simple questions, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

Adam replied, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12)

Then, God asked Eve a pretty simple question as well, “What is this that you have done?”

Eve replied,  “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13)

How many times have I asked my children similar questions and received similar answers?

  • Me: “Did you finish your homework?”
    Child: “I didn’t know how, and you weren’t home to help me.”
  • Me: “Have you taken out the trash like I asked?”
    Child: “The dumpster was full.”
  • Me: “Did you put away your laundry?”
    Child: “I forgot.”
  • Me: “Who made this mess?”
    Child: “He did.”

And the list goes on and on.

Since the very first sin, mankind has struggled to take responsibility for our actions. Adam blamed the woman for giving him the fruit, as well as blaming God for giving him the woman. Eve blamed the serpent for deceiving her. Our children blame others or their circumstances, including their own forgetfulness, for their shortcomings. And we blame our children or our husband or our neighbor or the traffic or the dog … for ours.

How do you struggle with accepting responsibility for your own sin?

Who do you usually blame when you mess up?

How can you improve in being genuinely repentant and seeking reconciliation when you’ve fallen short?

Rather than reading this post and thinking of how messed up your kids, or your parents, or your husband or your wife is … let’s try instead to focus on our own responsibility in the problem. And seek God God who is able to do more than we can ask or imagine, and who is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness.

TWIG

By the way, I found this article helpful. “Seven Marks of a Good Apology (and 8 Marks of a Bad One)” at Crosswalk’s website. It outlines each of these 7 marks of a good apology in more detail.

Reading through the Bible in a Year

I’m using the YouVersion Bible app to read through the Bible. I really like the audio of the ESV Bible in YouVersion because the reader is so good. (And, by the way, it’s free!)

I usually listen to the Bible read aloud at night when I’m getting ready for bed and then listen to the same passages in the morning as I’m getting ready. Then I sit down to focus more on what I’ve read and reflect on it.

Today I started a reading plan called, “Solid Life Whole Bible.” You are welcome to join me. You can get an account on YouVersion and send me a friend request. My name is easy to search for.

The first day’s reading was Genesis 1, Luke 1 and Jude. I like reading from the Old Testament and the New Testament each day. I like to see the whole story of God laid out together. I love to see how God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

God has always been the great Creator. He created the universe and everything in it in six days. He created Adam and Eve in His image. He created John the Baptist in Elizabeth’s womb even though she was a barren old woman.

God has always been the God of the impossible. Luke 1:37, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Today I’m reminding myself of this, as I’m praying for people I love to know Jesus and praying for strained relationships that seem like they will never get better. I’m reminding myself that if God can change my life, surely He can change others, too. As long as there is breath, there is the possibility for a new beginning. Never give up hope.

God has always been the God of purpose. He had purpose for the sun and moon and stars. He had purpose for light and land and plants and animals. He had purpose for man — the first man and the first woman and the millionth man and the millionth women. He has purpose for me and each of my children.

I especially think of this today as Daniel celebrates his 12th birthday. He is a precious, undeserved gift from the hand of a good Creator-God, the God of the impossible, and the God of purpose. Happy birthday, buddy!

Spiritual Musings on God’s Purpose and Sovereignty when Bill was selected for a “Random” Security Screening

When we were heading back to the USA out of Beijing earlier this month, our passports and boarding passes were checked a half-dozen times as we made our way through the airport. Everyone’s bags were scanned and checked and screened. Every person walked through a top-of-the-line high-tech scanner as well as being personally patted down (men by men and women by women) before being permitted to board the plane.

As Bill and I and some four-hundred others making the trip, lined up to enter the plane, Bill was one of a dozen passengers “randomly selected” to undergo an additional security check. Next to him was a small Asian woman whose husband and two young daughters were waiting for her. Then came a tall, slender black man, a large black woman, and a young middle-aged talkative white woman who was part of some kind of American women’s group, plus a handful more. There seemed no rhyme or reason to why they were selected.

Had they packed something suspicious? I suddenly remembered that Bill had a large camouflage-print battery-backup for his phone in his carry-on bag. Was that it?

Or was it something in his appearance? Bill is tall and thin with dark hair and a goatee. Hmm.

Maybe Bill wasn’t friendly enough. Maybe he asked too many questions.

There simply had to be some kind of reason for why he was selected for this additional security screening. And I wanted to know what it was!


When I was a teenager, I didn’t believe in the existence of the supernatural. All of life was a series of random chance. I didn’t believe in luck or blessing or karma.

Now I see life very differently.

Now I see everything in life as having purpose. I believe that I have been created on purpose, for a purpose, by a God of purpose. The events of my life have purpose, both for God’s glory, and for my good, as well as for the greater good of others in the God’s great plan of life.

So, if God selects me to go through a trial – whether that’s sickness or marital hardship or a wayward child – I see that trial through the lens of “PURPOSE.” I am now able to see that in some way a “seemingly random event” must have a purpose.

My faith is constantly being tested and refined. My faith is being proved genuine and made stronger. God is being glorified as I stand firm through a storm even if my knees are shaking beneath me.

Other people, too, are effected by the trials of my life, whether in how I directly treat them, or the witness that I’m able to be for Christ, or even as I write about an experience that I go through.

I’m afraid that sometimes I forget that God is at work behind the scenes and I end up feeling like I’ve been “randomly tagged,” like Bill felt that day. It’s all too easy for me to fall back into my former way of thinking and I find myself deep in the middle of a pity party when things don’t go my way, blind to the fact that God is at work both in the big stuff and the small stuff.

Friends, “we may not know WHY, and yet we know why,” as my pastor has reminded our congregation again and again since a dear fellow church member died in a house fire last Christmas.

How have you seen God at work lately?

Have you missed out on seeing purpose in the trials your life?

I’d love to pray for you. Let’s walk this road together.

TWIG