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Atlanta, 8 Mar 2017

Good afternoon from hot / cold Atlanta. The last few days
temperatures have been all over the place -- below freezing and in the high 70s (25 C)! Mildly surprising.

What's really surprising is the Bible -- as anyone reading it for the first time cannot fail to notice. For example, authority and power are turned on their head, a reversal that does not annihilate hierarchy, but transforms it (Mark 10:35-45; John 13:1-17). Sex shows up on the first two pages (Gen 1:28; Gen 2:24-25) -- to say nothing of the eight solid chapters in the middle of the Bible. Husbands are to submit to wives (Gen 21:12; Eph 5:21). The Lion of the Tribe of Judah is a Lamb (Gen 48:9; Isa 53:7; Rev 5:5-6)!

For the next 8 weeks we'll zero in on some of the "surprise" passages of scripture, many of which you emailed me in response to last week's request.

Surprise 1: The Religious Guy Doesn't Make It

Scripture is filled with reversals. A shepherd boy triumphs over a giant. The right of the firstborn goes to a younger child. A party is thrown for the son who wasted his father's inheritance, while the dutiful son shuts himself out. Our first surprise passage in the series is Luke 18:9-14:

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The religious guy doesn't make it. Why is that?
  • He feels superior to those who don't follow the rules (Rom 2:17-24).
  • He doesn't see his deep need for God (Luke 7:36-50).
  • He is keeping score, tallying his achievements, rather than trusting in God's grace (Phil 3:4-8).
  • He is haughty and self-centered, not humble (Ps 18:27; Prov 30:13).
The Pharisee's demeanor reeks of entitlement. He will not be exalted, yet the humble sinner will. Sadly, this is a common pattern in scripture. Keep your eyes open next time you're reading the history of Israel, or going through the gospels and Acts. Those outside or towards the margins of the covenant community of God "get it," while insiders often don't. Outsiders inside and insiders outside? A sobering thought.

Next week: A parable that implies God is vicious (or does it?). 

When God Says "Wait", by Elizabeth Thompson

My friend and fellow writer Elizabeth Laing Thompson has just released a new book. It's titled When God Says “Wait”: Navigating Life’s Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind.

We're all waiting on something from God—true love or a baby, a job or a cure—and Elizabeth meets us in the middle of those waits with scripture, stories, and humor. Elizabeth helps us redeem our waiting seasons by choosing how we wait and who we become along the way.

When God Says Wait is available wherever books are sold, but here's the Amazon link. Trailer link and purchase links may be found at lizzylife.com/books/. Elizabeth is on Facebook facebook.com/aLizzyLife, Instagram: @elizabethlaingthompson, and Twitter: @lizzylit. Hashtag: #whengodsayswait. Her author site is LizzyLife.com. Elizabeth is an inspiring, elegant, and interesting writer and person -- which is why I am happy to promote her latest title.

Upcoming

This week's a busy one. (Aren't they all?) Monday night was our (nearly) weekly Leadership Team meeting (for North River). Tuesday I spoke to an eager audience at Georgia Tech, on Faith & Science. Tonight I'm with the kindergarteners during midweek service. Pray for me! Tomorrow it's off to Athens (two hours to the east) for lunch with a friend, followed by my ministry's tax review. It's important to make sure every aspect of the teaching ministry is aboveboard (2 Cor 8:21). 

Last, over the weekend Frank & Erica Kim (Denver) are visiting North River. I've had the privilege of knowing them since 1980. To learn more, or if you'll be in the Atlanta area and would like to attend one of their presentations, click here.

And next week is even more packed than this one. But that's not to complain about my boss. I'm self-employed.

Yeah, I know... I'm busy, you're busy... everyone's busy. Since we all have some choices about what we do with our time, let's all make sure that we're busy in the Lord -- because our labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor 15:58).

Yours,
Douglas
IBTM, T&R, AIM
www.douglasjacoby.com

               
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