May 27, 2014

Courtney, Amy, and Miley

I have always been intrigued by certain pop music stars. There’s something that draws me in to them. Its been this way since I read an article on Courtney Love about a decade ago in a Rolling Stone magazine. In that article she shared how she felt alone, how she wrote music, and the stream of thought that she was continually on. I remember wondering what she would be like if she had some consistency in her life through people…people who weren’t looking to take from her fame or use her. How would her life be different if she had a group of people who unconditionally loved her and encouraged her through her drug addiction, marital problems, the loss of her husband to suicide and so on. Would she be different?

I thought the same thing of Amy Winehouse. Such a big personality and a huge talent caught up in the mess of life. She used alcohol to escape life, amongst other things, and in the end, the addictions won. What if there were people there, not allowing her to alienate herself and hide?

Understand, I’m not naive. I would guess that there are and were people around trying to do this. I understand that fame pushes and pulls in ways that I will never understand. Each life like Courtney’s or Amy’s is a huge mess of fame, fortune, addiction, brokenness. How much power did some of those things have in keeping healing away?

I have similar thoughts and sadness for Miley Cyrus. Here’s a young girl born from fame thrown into popularity where every action and reaction is magnified by our culture and media. I would guess she’s achieved the fame and fortune that the world wants her to achieve, yet she’s at the same time, been walled in by that fame and fortune. She’s become a prisoner to her own self.

Maybe this is similar to what happened to Michael Jackson. Child star turned super-world star, pressed in on all sides by his fame and fortune, every action and reaction microscopically analyzed and criticized. There was musical genius within the music he made, no matter whether you like his music or not. Everything was specifically placed and on purpose. Yet, the musical genius couldn’t save himself. At best it learned to medicate and manage, rather than overcome.

While I know there is no way that I could become friends with any of these people, living or not. Who am I to them? Who would I be to them? As I write, though, I ask myself this question, “How am I creating this safe place that I would want for these few individuals for those that I do know?” How am I helping people find rest and hope in the Kingdom of God?

How do we do it? How do we make a safe place for people to come in, in whatever state they are in, to find hope, peace, and love? Are we fooling ourselves as the church saying we are this when we really aren’t? Are we actively pushing to make this place for real? We are called to be the kingdom–a place where we enjoy the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Not only are we to experience it, we are to help others experience it.

Lord, help us to die to ourselves so we can live you for the world.

May 20, 2014

John 3:1-21

Its funny. At the beginning of these commitments to journal through Scripture, I have these grand ideas that I’ll be able to sit down and fire things off in no time. Then, once I get a few steps in, I realize I am in way over my head and that the commitment I made, while being completed, is going to be done very slowly. Like today, for example. I need to blog on Chapter 3. I read and study a bit on chapter 3 and realize, there is no way this is all going in one blog post. So, our pace slows even more. I don’t think you mind. I haven’t gotten any hate mail because I’m not writing fast enough.

Up to this point in our journey through John we’ve seen our writer proclaim Jesus as part of creation, paralleling Genesis. He’s stated that Jesus is the Messiah–the one coming to restore Israel to God’s intentions AND called him Lamb. We’ve read the story about Jesus turning the water into wine and seen him cleanse the temple, both of which to me seem to show Jesus establishing this new Light, the Light that will overcome the darkness.

It is interesting to me that following all of this, the writer has a leader of the Jews come to Jesus at night to ask questions. Why a leader of the Jews? Certainly they would have been upset and chastised by the cleansing of the temple. They were partly in control of that system. Has Nicodemus come to set Jesus straight? As we read we see that he has come because Jesus has intrigued him with what he has said and the miracles he has done. He needs to know more.

The exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus tells us a bunch. Nicodemus calls Jesus, “Rabbi.” That was a title of honor. Nicodemus is acknowledging that Jesus knows the Torah. He must have heard him teaching or something before this. He wouldn’t have called him that unless there was merit to do so. He says to him, “We know you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.”

We? Is Nicodemus coming with others behind him that John is not telling us about? Or is he coming as a spokesperson for the Jews, inquiring more about this Jesus? Or, did Nicodemus say “we” to hide or soften his own intrigue? “It’s not just me who wants to know more of who you are, Jesus.” I think it is a combo of the latter two. Nicodemus acknowledges more good in Jesus because of the “signs” he has done. This would mean miracles. What Jesus is doing is well beyond what anyone else could do without the power of God. That being said, there seems to be some skepticism here in Nicodemus. Scholars say that if there was more belief and trust, he would have called Jesus a prophet.

Jesus’ response to this subversive, inquiring greeting is that no one can see the Kingdom of God without being born again or born from above. Obviously, by Nicodemus’ response, this confused him again. He makes a pretty funny statement in my opinion about the impossibility of being born again. Jesus clarifies, “No one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.”

We need to stop a minute and unpack some things. Kingdom of God refers to the Jewish perception that when the Messiah comes, he will restore the earth and the Jewish people by bringing the Kingdom of God where the son of David, the Messiah, would reign. Jesus in his statement to Nicodemus is saying one can’t get to there without new birth. If we think about who he is talking to, a Jewish Leader, there is some weight to this little sentence. Its not by simply knowing Torah and living the Law that gets you to be present in the Kingdom of God. There is a born again that needs to happen. One that involves water and spirit–divine remaking, a rebirth from God.

Jesus continues on to say, “What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Time to pause again. Lets think for a moment in terms of light and dark. The world before Jesus comes was in darkness, so to speak. He is the light coming into the darkness. Nicodemus comes to Jesus in the night. Maybe our writer is signifying something more than just the time of day here. This light called Jesus has intrigued him and he wants more. Even more, from what I see Jesus saying, the only way to fully know the light is through water and the spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh–darkness gives birth do darkness. Yet, Spirit gives birth to spirit–light brings about light. There is transformation that needs to happen in man as he comes to know the Light–a spiritual rebirth.

Then Jesus say, “The wind blows where it chooses and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” The wind means Spirit. In the Old Testament, the word for wind/spirit/breath is ruach. Its pretty much interchangeable, depending on the context it is used. Its interesting to me that Jesus says, the wind blows where it wants and you hear it. To me, Jesus is acknowledging to Nicodemus that he has seen the light. He’s heard the wind–the coming of this light into the neighborhood. But, he does’ know where it comes from or where it is going. Jesus jabs at him pretty good following this by saying, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?” You are one of the teachers, one of the smart people who should understand what the Old Testament is saying and how it is pointing to the Messiah, yet you do not.

Jesus continues on pushing at the unbelief of Nicodemus. “We speak,” probably referring to his disciples who are possibly at this meeting, “of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet y’all do not receive our testimony.” We–Jesus and his followers/entourage– see and testify, yet, y’all–the Jewish leaders/teachers of the Law–while seeing it and hearing it, don’t accept it. Pretty tough words. Jesus even goes as far to say if I showed you earthly stuff or heavenly stuff, you wouldn’t get it either way. “Even more, you haven’t ascended into heaven an been born of heaven, like me.”

I can’t help to think about what is going through Nicodemus’ mind at this point. “I shouldn’t have come here. He’s putting me in my place! I’m drawn in even more by what he is saying–I want to know more!” So many possibilities.

The conversation builds to Jesus proclaiming his need to be lifted up for all to see as in the crucifixion, paralleling that with an OT story from Numbers 21 where a bronze serpent was used to rescue the Israelites. In that story, the people of Israel were bad mouthing Moses and God again, asking why he had brought them into the wilderness to die. God sent poisonous snakes upon the people. They cried out to Moses for help. A bronze serpent was made and put on a pole. Israel could look to it and be saved from the dying from the snake bites. Jesus is going to be a new antidote, so to speak. He is the light that is coming to cleanse the world of darkness.

I find it very intriguing that this story about Numbers 21 comes right before one of the most famous of all scriptures, John 3:16. God’s righteousness calls for holiness, which man cannot do on his own, so God sends his son so that all who believe–who look on him, see what he is doing and accepts it, which is what Nicodemus just got called out for not doing–will be saved and have eternal life–life in the kingdom of God where God will reign. Jesus doesn’t come to condemn and break down. He comes to save.

May 19, 2014

Black and Blue

It has been an interesting few days. Interesting, as in bad days…well, not bad per say. More like trying. Every time I turned around this past weekend something wasn’t working right or I was doing something dumb.

Friday night we went to a Lugnuts game. For those readers of mine who aren’t from Lansing, the Lugnuts are the local minor league baseball team. It was a decent night and they were free tickets–my daughter received them as part of an award for good citizenship at school. Pretty cool award for her. She makes me very proud. Back to the game…it is baseball. It was a decent night. We thought we were prepared–had a blanket and everything because it was supposed to get a little chilly. It got more than chilly. The last 5 innings were painful to watch. I was cold, we were losing by 10 runs. I was ready to go home. But we couldn’t. There were to be fireworks after the game. I endured for my daughter. Do you know how long baseball games go? So much stopping, waiting, scratching, and such. I endured…

Then, on Saturday, I had more problems. I’ve been working on a little renovation project for some friends. I was finally getting to the trim portion of the project. The window and door trim went in fairly well. not too much fighting, even with the tools that I had. When I went to start the baseboard, I came to realize that the saw that I was using didn’t have the clearance for the 4” trim I was putting in. I made it work for a few pieces, but then gave up. Progress halted. At least I got the windows done.

Yesterday was the bad day. When I woke up I was ready for a nap. You know those days, right? You simply can’t shake the sleep out of your system. I think I even fell asleep standing in the shower. That’s certainly not good. After I got dressed, I gathered my things and headed out the door. It was cold out, so I put on my jacket and walked out the door, neglecting to check my pockets for keys. As I walked down the sidewalk to my truck, I came to the realization that I was locked out of both my truck and the house. I did have my cell phone. “No problem!” I thought. I’ll call my wife, have her unlock the door and all will be well.

Understand, that at this point, it is about 5:45am. I like to get to the church by 6:00am on Sundays to get things ready, write in my journal, and so on. One would think a phone call at 5:45am would startle you. Dialed the phone and listened to ringing. Standing at the front door, I can hear my wife’s phone ringing in on the counter–through the door, the brick wall, and so on. Does it wake my wife? Nope. I start knocking on the door as I call again, trying to wake her, but not my 10 year old daughter. Knock, knock, knock. Ring, ring, ring. Nothing.

At this point, I’m warring with myself on the inside. How can she not be waking up? How can I be mad about this, since I was the one who locked myself out? Knock, knock, knock, ring, ring, ring. I even started adding the door bell with the knocks and the phone calls.

This went on for what seemed like hours. The sun rose while I was standing there. Then, finally, I awoke the dead…ok, it wasn’t hours. It was at least five minutes though. I’m glad there wasn’t a fire.

Unfortunately, the day gets worse. After worship at church, I was packing up my guitars and gear. The place I normally put my guitar cases to load them had stuff on it, so I balanced them on a stool. I’ve done this hundreds of times. If you get them just right, everything goes peachy. I should have known better.

I open up one case and put a guitar away, balancing and holding things just right to keep gravity from crashing everything down. I close the lid and grab the other guitar. Then I realize, I had put the wrong guitar in the wrong case. As I rewound the process, gravity got the best of me. This, on its own, shouldn’t be a big deal. There were no guitars in the cases at that point. I was holding the right guitar for the right case that I had part way open, when they started to shift. If they crash off the stool its no big thing. They are cases–they are made for crashing type events to protect the goods inside.

My daughter’s toe, however, was not built for a crash. Her foot was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Her big toe took the full brunt of a falling guitar case. She crumpled to the ground and started screaming and holding her toe. I am the greatest dad in the world…

Unfortunately, life is like that, isn’t it? You have good intentions to do great things that simply don’t turn out great. Sometimes we are the culprits. Other times, we are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I told my daughter on the way to school today that if I could take her bad toe and give her my good toe I would. She understood, I think. The problem is, that I’m not God. I can’t intervene in this situation and make it better for her, just as much as I couldn’t magically make the saw I was using on Saturday cut the wood the right way, even though I tried my hardest to make it work. I simply need to come to grips with what I can’t change, and keep on living forward.

I guess I’m helping my daughter learn this the hard way. Luckily, her toe will quit hurting in a few days. I would guess that the nail will turn black and blue and look pretty gnarly. Good thing for her she’s a girl, and its socially acceptable to paint her toenails. When you see her this summer, comment on how pretty they are, so she can tell you how awesome her daddy is!

May 14, 2014

John 2

Ok. I said that I was going to blog through John. We see how well that has worked so far. I made it through John 1, then crickets–the chirping kind that make noise in the quiet, still of night. I’m ready to do chapter 2. At this pace we will see the end of John by Christmas.

In John 1, the writer is setting the stage. He parallels his gospel with Genesis and creation. This Jesus, the Word, is with God, and all things are created through him. That creation in Genesis turned from God, chasing after darkness. Jesus, the Word, is coming into the world to establish a new light–he’s “moving into the neighborhood” as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message-John 1:14. The world is going to be much different with him here.

Chapter 2 begins in an interesting place–a wedding. Weddings in that day lasted for a week. Think of it. You plan this big party and you run out of wine on the third day. That is a problem. Even more of a problem in my opinion is Mary coming to Jesus and telling him to make more wine. There is so much backstory here that we don’t know. What is Jesus and Mary’s relation to the bride and bridegroom? Have they been asked to provide some of the supplies for the wedding (which wouldn’t have been unheard of in that day and age.)? How does Mary know that Jesus can turn water into wine? Has she seen him do other miracles before this?

We can get really crazy trying to fill in all the cracks here. What we do know is this. Mary sees a problem and knows that Jesus can fix it. The way he goes about it seems even more telling to me. He has the servants fill up six jars with water. These aren’t simply your run of the mill jars, these were used for Jewish purification ceremonies. They are like the special fine china that you never use…or they are like the communion table at church that really should be treated extra special and only used for the communion.

Jesus has the servants fill them up with water and then sample what is in them. Should be water, one would think. But, its not. Its wine. Good wine, from what the writer tells us. So good that the steward, the master of ceremonies, compliments the bridegroom on saving the better wine for the second half of the party–the wedding.

The next story we get in Chapter 2 is Jesus cleansing the temple. He is frustrated with the Jewish system that is in place here. It has become something that it is not supposed to be–a marketplace that probably is laced with crooked practices where God is not the focus. Jesus drives out the animals and the moneychangers. Needless to say, this causes some struggle between he and those that run the temple, the Jews. Their exchange is telling. They ask Jesus to give them a sign so they know by what authority he has to cleanse the temple. He chimes back at them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The text is quick to tell us the Jews were thinking of the physical stone temple they were standing in at the moment, while Jesus is talking about his own being, body, spirit, and such.

I can’t help but see the parallels in both of these stories. John 1 tells us this light that is moving into the neighborhood is going to outshine the darkness. We hear the Jews asking John the Baptist about this Messiah that he is proclaiming. Jesus is going to cause some tension.

In the wedding story, Jesus takes the ritual jars for Jewish cleansing and uses them for something else. He makes wine to help carry on the wedding. (I wonder what connection there is to this story at the beginning of this Gospel to the concept that Jesus is the Bridegroom and the church is the Bride.) The wine was better than the first bit of wine for the wedding. Is this all a parallel that this Jesus is something better that is coming out of Judaism? What statement is this story making about how Jesus is turning Jewish ritual life on its end? So many questions…

What about the clearing of the temple? I think the writer is making a statement to his readers that the Jewish life has been tied to ritual and to the temple and in doing so, has lost the focus of what it is to be about. This Jesus is going to give a new focus, where its not fully about a building or the Law (ritual). Its about something more–being the light in the darkness.

May 12, 2014

Coffee Shops

Coffee Shops are the most interesting places in my opinion. I think that is why I enjoy hanging out in them. You can see just about any type of person walk through the door. Sometimes they are simply in for a quick fix of caffeine. They are in and out in a flash.

Other times they are here to have a conversation of some importance. A few months ago it was a conversation between business partners trying to transition their concert venues and so on here in Lansing. Today it was a professor and his student processing the future work they were going to venture in on through the summer.

Clientele is not limited to a specific age group. In the place I am at today, Grand River Coffee, there are young and old scattered among the chairs, tables, and couches. To my right there is a guy who looks to be in his 30s going through a green plastic bin of accumulated mail. All the while, over my shoulder to the left there is an old guy passed out with his laptop on knees. He’s been that way for about an hour. (I think someone should check on him to make sure he is still breathing.)

The coffee shop isn’t a place that judges. it is here for anyone to use, whether you need to refuel, rest, or get some work done. If you need to have a conversation, that is welcome also. It is a Third Place.

That is the draw. For me, I’m looking for a place that has good coffee and isn’t my office. Great internet signal is also a bonus, but not really necessary and probably better for my productivity plan. Free parking is also a bonus. I’m looking for that place that is a home away from home so to speak.

I think that is the reason I have had a strong pull to open up a coffee shop at some point in my life. I want to create the place that I love…a place where you can come and find what you need and get great coffee. That is a must.

Now if I only had an endless amount of money to do this….

May 11, 2014

The Double Space

I was born in 1972. That makes me old. Maybe you don’t think 41 is old. I think its old. I feel old. Things are changing around me all the time. When I was growing up, you had to dial a number on the phone by spinning the rotary thing. Then touch tone came in style and it cost extra to have with your phone service.

I can remember our kitchen phone having a cord that was 10 miles long. You could go from the phone all the way into the living room…almost. If you came in and someone was on the phone, you had to either limbo or step over it and hope that you wouldn’t trip and fall.

Then there were the cordless phones with the pull out antennas. I remember when we got one of those. I felt so cool! I felt like I was as cool as Tubbs and Crocket on Miami Vice. Well, I felt cool until I broke the dumb, cheap antenna off. I think they made those things out of aluminum foil.

I remember when you had to push a button with your foot on the floor of the car to flip the bright lights off and on. It was called a toggle switch. I remember having to put a quarter on the needle to get it to play through the scratch in the record–and if you didn’t understand that, too bad. I remember having to load software onto a computer with a cassette tape. Then there were floppies. Then there were Zip Drives.

I am old.

As one gets old, there comes a need to change with the times. I don’t use a rotary phone anymore. I have an iPhone. I am very proficient at it, I might add. I have adapted to change very well. I am fully functional with any computer. I can even handle a 3.5” floppy still–I work for a church, some of our computers are really old.

Except for two things…both of which are grammatical changes in English. The first is the use of the comma. I was taught in school by Mr. Paupier and Miss Ashby to use a comma before the and as I was writing a list in a sentence. Thus, one would write, “I went to the grocery store, the mall, and the gas station.” Makes sense. Unfortunately, for me, that has changed. It is not socially acceptable to put the comma in anymore. Or at least that is what I have been told. I stand in rebellion and put it in ALL the time!

The other change is the double space. When I took typing back in 1988, Ms. whatever her name was (I said I was old) taught us to put two spaces after a period while typing. When we hand wrote things, you alway put a little more space between the end of one sentence and a new one. The double space translated over our writing style for the typewriter. The world was at peace.

I guess that isn’t acceptable anymore. Like I care. I continue to put them in wherever I put a period. (See, there I did it again. You can’t see it, but I put in in there. I’ll explain in a moment.) If you were to get an email from me you would see them all over the place. I have the settings in the auto correct in Microsoft Word to make sure they are there, if by chance I miss one.

Unfortunately, I work a lot on the internet. I have this blog that I’ve been writing to for ages. I manage the website for South Lansing Christian Church. For some reason, the people that wrote HTML and the laws of the internet decided to follow a different rule than I was taught. Maybe they made up the rule and the rest of the world chose to follow along. All I know is that it messes up what I do.

There are things you simply can’t unlearn. I play the guitar. I didn’t have formal training–I learned on my own. In turn, the position of my left hand at times is totally wrong. I learned wrong. I made do and can handle my own, but I can’t play an A Bar chord for nothing. I’ve tried to learn the right way. It just don’t work.

It is the same way with the double space after a period. I can’t unlearn it. I did it right that time, but it was only because I was thinking of it. Every other time my brain is in high gear and the double space simply happens without thought.

Unfortunately, when I type things into a web browser–blog posts like this one, the world wide web has no idea how to handle my double space. It actually sees it as a double space and puts it in there. Nice of it to do what I ask it to do. The problem is, when there is a double space at the end of a line and the line break happens in between the two spaces, the next line is thrown off…because the space is there. Look at pretty much any post before this one and John 1 and you will randomly see the extra spaces on the left hand of the text. If you resize your window some of them will go away. They don’t care. They come and go as they choose depending on where they fall at the end of the line.

I sort of ignored them on this blog simply because its my personal page. Its my statement of defying the system that chose to make a dumb change. However, I can’t deal with the extra spaces on the church website (nor can my Sr. Minister).

This put me on a quest to solve my problem. I needed to find a program that will let me double space, interpret it as only one space, and ignore my rebellion. That program was MOU. It is the program I am writing in right now. It uses a system of coding called Markdown. It allows you to type and add style through some simple keystrokes rather than having to move your hand off the keyboard and touching the mouse. Its really quite slick. And, some of the other programs I use also understand Markdown. So, I’ve been learning the coding…which leads me to here.

The other day I wrote a blog post on John 1. Its linked above. I wrote it with MOU using markdown. It was supposed to go smoothly. But it didn’t. Nothing seems to go easy for me. When I copied and pasted it over to the blogger page, I either got my formatting for the paragraphs (a space between them so it is easy to read) OR bold/italics I had put within the dobument. I couldn’t get both to work at the same time. The double space issue was fine after my periods, but I had to choose one or the other of the above formats and then edit the other when I moved it over into the blogger website.

If you know me, once I have a problem to solve, I will dig and look and figure it out, no matter how long it takes. Simply fixing the problem by sidestepping it doesn’t sit well with me, especially when it comes to computer things. It goes along with my ability to write long, worthless blog posts about things like the double space.

Tonight in my searching, I found a solution. It was really accidental. MOU has some exporting features, which I tried and had some success with to another blog website. It only made things worse when I tried to cut and paste from there. So, I turned to the almighty Google and did some searching for Markdown with Blogger. I found success! is an online Markdown editor that can post directly to my blog, amongst other things. It keeps all the formatting I type in with Markdown AND it totally ignores my double spaces.

Its all for your benefit, so you aren’t distracted by the extra spaces that haphazardly appear at the beginning of the line.

Aren’t you glad you spent the time reading this? It looks beautiful on your screen! All is at peace in Wally’s world again.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be posting more blogs about John in the next few days.

May 7, 2014

John 1

Our church is journeying through the book of John over the next 21 days. I'm a few days behind already...go figure. I'm going to try and blog some and share my reflections as I read. I'm not going to try and be heavy dig into the text with commentaries and so on this time. I would love to do that, but simply don't have the time to put into it right now. My prayer is that this is encouraging to you.

I love the way that the gospel of John begins. Its not a story about the birth of Jesus or a genealogy showing his birth line. No. John begins his gospel a lot like the book of Genesis. "In the beginning..."

Quickly John establishes that God is the beginning. It is through him that everything has life. Even more, there is a light in this life.

This idea parallels Genesis. God creates and sees his creation as good. The culmination of that creation is man, who is made in God's image. God puts his breath (spirit) within his creation--in the animals and into man. He has given them life. They are good, because he has made them.

There is something different in John though. There is this darkness, a darkness that came about as Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, breaking their promise to God. From that point on, in my opinion, the Bible is about God trying to restore/rescue his creation back to its divine intention--to be good. The whole Old Testament is the story of this desire to redeem his creation, and his creations inability to see and accept it.

In John something new is happening. Verse 14 holds the key for me. The Word, the Logos in Greek, becomes flesh and lives among us. God worked as he could through interactions with his creation (namely the kingdom of Israel in the OT) and has not been able to catch their attention. So, he must come in a flesh form, as Jesus. The world is about to be turned upside down because the Light has returned to the world! (It feels like we should sing Silent Night now)

This light moving back into the world is Jesus, the Messiah. For the Jews back in the day, the word Messiah meant one thing--an anointed King coming into the world to restore Israel. I would guess they thought of him as a new King David, so to speak--one marked by God to make everything right. Jesus is going to make everything "right", but not in the way they expected it to be.

John is a good story teller. Right out of the gate here in the first chapter, he's introduced us to Jesus. He establishes him as the Messiah--the one who is the Lamb of God. As the priests question (grill) John the Baptist in the middle of the chapter, you can see the tension beginning to mount. Here is this man we have been waiting for, this messiah, this son of God!

The light has come into the neighborhood. Its going to light all the dark places. Its going to show a different way to live and think about the Kingdom of God. Its going to be beautiful and painful, because it means change.

As the chapter closes, grown men are drawn into this Jesus. They quickly ask where he is staying and follow him. They have no idea what they are getting into...

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it...