Tag Archives: Thomas

Hearing God Speak Through the Noise of My Brother

Tuesday Re-mix –

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.  So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”  But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”… Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  John 20:24-25, 29

The ears and the mind are necessarily connected.  That is because hearing requires much more than just ears.  When we were children, we could hear the wind blowing through a sea shell but we thought we were “hearing the ocean”.  We could hear just fine, but we could not discern very well.  Now, as I get older (alas), I am finding that my ears don’t always hear very well.  I can be sitting with you in a crowded restaurant, trying to hear what you are saying and my “discernment” has to kick in so that I can make up for what my ears cannot hear.  I suppose that balance shifts more and more with time.

Interestingly, our Spiritual hearing works in a similar way.  When we are young (spiritually), we don’t discern all that well.  We may hear God’s voice, but we hear it along with all the noise and may not have the spiritual maturity to discern that which is God and that which is other.  I believe we develop that discernment over time, with the help of the Spirit.  I also believe this spiritual skill is critical to our life together in the church.  Wasn’t that the point of Jesus’ lesson to Thomas in John 20?

Thomas’ …

The Transforming Power of the Resurrection

Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.  John 20:8

And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  John 20:22-23

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”  John 20:28

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”  Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.  John 21:17

My studies are in John’s gospel right now, and none of the gospels demonstrates the practical effects of the resurrection more beautifully than John’s.  He portrays so very well the fragile, confused disciples hiding in the upper room out of fear of the Jewish leaders…the very human Peter, cowardly denying Christ…mere shadows of the men who would eventually have the responsibility of continuing the revolution Christ began.  Take a moment and compare the Peter in John 19 with the Peter in Acts 4.  The transformation is God-sized.

That, it seems to me, is the power of the resurrection.  Without it, we still have atonement for sins, we still have Christ’s teachings and his ministry, and but for all of the unfulfilled prophecies we would have, we still have scripture.  But without the transforming power of the resurrection, we would not have a church today.  Without the evidence that Christ lives, even today, we would not have a testimony of a living Savior.  Without the resurrection, Peter, James and John most likely all return to their obscure lives as fishermen, all of them surely impacted but none of …

Try Not to Argue with the Donkey

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”  Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me!  If I had a sword in my hand I would kill you right now.” Numbers 22:28-29

It is one of the most humorous pictures in the Bible, and it plays itself out again and again in churches everywhere every week.  It is not the donkey speaking that makes me laugh…

…it is that Balaam argues with it.

What jumps off the page at me as I read this account is the fact that Balaam never catches himself conversing with a donkey!  Where is the shock and surprise, having just heard a donkey speak?!  Wouldn’t that be the natural reaction?  Rather than falling on his knees out of recognition of what only God could do, Balaam immediately engages in verbal combat.  With his donkey!

There are moments in the life of every church leader when something profound–something bothersome, uncomfortable, or even directly opposing us, but nonetheless profound–comes from a completely unexpected source.  There are those circumstances where we hear well-articulated opposition from a person through whom we have never heard any wisdom at all.  These are important moments in a leader’s ministry.  Be careful.  There are few things more humiliating than missing God’s word when it is staring you straight in the face.

I have often said that I would never want to serve with a pastor who will not hear God speak through his people.  That would be a bit like Thomas saying to the other disciples when they told him they had …