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Recently, I ranked the 5 senses in (my) priority order.  Though there’s more to explore in this thought, my order came out like this:  (1 = most important, 5 = least important)

5.  Smell (I could live without it.  In fact, maybe I already do?)

4.  Taste (I’d miss it, especially the taste of Raspberry Ice Cream from Klines.)

3.  Touch (If only fingertips were affected, I could endure it;  but if the entire skin surface was affected, never to feel again….)

2.  Hearing (As awful as this would be — and it would be — we all know of very successful hearing-impaired people who’ve succeeded well.  It would be real hardship, but perhaps not as altering as ….)

1.  Sight  (I’m more dependent on this sense than any other, I think).

I was tempted to put Touch as #1, since the thought of the skin feeling absolutely nothing (no hugs, no touch, no heat, no pain, no loving caress) was unthinkable.  Your whole body “asleep.”  There is a disease which mimics the absence of Feeling (Hansen’s disease/leprosy), where numbness can be acute.

  • If God created these 5 senses, is it plausible to consider that one day, on the New Earth, we might experience …

… Heightened perception for each of the 5 senses? Instead of 10,000 taste buds, why not a million or a billion?  Instead of seeing in conventional color (ROYGBIV), why not in previously unknown colors, currently indiscernible to the human eye?

… The inauguration of a new set of senses entirely? What might they be like?  I don’t know.  But, why not?

Who knows?   Maybe the currently useless appendix will finally have a discernible purpose?  If so, I hope I get mine back.  Maybe it will be the activating organ for a 6th or 7th sense?

I used to walk past South Hall daily at UW during my college days

Years ago, as an undergrad at the University of Wisconsin, I would trudge up Bascom Hill to my classes.  En route, I would pass by South Hall, where every time I read it’s “cornerstone plaque,” inscribed with these famous words:

You shall know the truth,

and the truth shall set you free.

12 powerful words.  The implication seems clear:     “Dear UW undergraduate, as you grind gloriously through your years at this fine academic institution, know that in your pursuit of knowledge, you are on the path toward discovering Truth — that will make you free.”

Nice words.  No attribution was given on the cornerstone, that I recall.  But I recognized the author: Jesus.  He said those words in John 8:32.

However, the wider context of His words give quite a different meaning.  Read Jesus’ words in their context:

IF you hold to my teaching,

you are really my disciples.

THEN you shall know the truth,

and the truth shall set you free.

The dreaded “IF-THEN” clause.  The simple word “IF” makes all of the difference.  (Tangent: currently, in a different context, Maya Angelou is arguing that the omission of the word “IF” from a famous quotation on the new MLK, Jr. Memorial in Washington DC makes the great civil rights leader appear arrogant.  She is correct, in my opinion, and his quotation should be amended on the monument).

If…. If…. If…

The simple logic of Jesus is: If you want to be Free, you must Hold To His Teaching.  No easy deal, if I read His teachings correctly.  But a necessity, nonetheless.

Let’s not harbor the false hope (or promulgate the false wisdom) that University-level education is The Truth that shall set you free.  It is not.  Only holding to the teachings of Jesus will free the heart and mind and soul of enslaved peoples at universities, and in the wider world.

Jesus wasn’t mamby-pamby.  He was downright offensive in the Gospel of John.  I’ve been reading it, and am struck by how harsh he was to those who didn’t recognize Him as the Messiah.  Listen to the words He pummels His opponents with:

1.  “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire.”  John 8:44

2.  “The reason you do not hear (or understand my words) is that you do not belong to God.”  John 8:47

3.  I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.”  John 5:42

4.  Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set … since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”  John 5:45-47

5.  (to Nicodemus):  “You are Israel’s teacher, and do you not understand these things?”  (imagine saying that to your professor)  John 3:10

6.  “[The Father’s] word does not dwell in you, for you do not believe the One he sent.”  John 5:38

7.  “If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”  John 8:24

8.  “My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the One who glorifies me.  Though you do not know him, I do…”  John 8:54

9.  “If I said I did not (know Him), I would be a Liar, like you.”   Zing!

Well, there you have it.  The “Jesus” you don’t want to invite over to your dinner party.  Frankly, I like Him.  He speaks the truth, no matter how offensive it may be to His audience.  It got Him killed.  But He was right, wasn’t He?

I wish I could convince our 20-something generation of college students that it’s right to speak the truth, and it’s wrong to avoid saying hard things to their peers…

Presidential politics has become a full-time job.  As I read John 6 this morning, I pondered how odd the scene would be if Jesus were suddenly launched into the fray of our Presidential campaign.  But first, the backstory of John 6.

Jesus feeds 5000 men, using 5 small loaves and 2 small fish.  I think it’s funny that John uses the adjective small. Seems comically incongruent next to the number 5000.  When the crowd realizes the miracle, they attempt to launch Jesus’ presidential campaign on the spot.  But Jesus’ reaction is counterintuitive. When no one is looking, he slips away, climbing a nearby mountain to be alone with His Father.

From my journal this morning:

The Galilee Gazette, An Analysis, August 30.

The politically opportune moment has come for Jesus to announce His candidacy for the Presidency.  The crowds are greatly aroused, a movement about to be birthed.  The Press is poised.  Satellite trucks from every News Network are enroute.  Photographers scramble to document the furor.  Happy pandemonium is in the air.

But Jesus slipped away in the crowd, when no one was paying attention.

This won’t be his entry into this year’s Presidential campaign.

From this tempting moment, Jesus decided to cut off all other voices except His Father’s.  He went alone, to a mountain, to meet the only Audience that matters to Him.

When such an alluring moment of popularity, press, power, and position pushes me to the podium, moves me to the microphone before an adoring crowd, what choice will I make?  Will I soak in the adulation and privilege, or will I run to the only Audience who knows my heart and soul, who Alone deserves the praise of all people?

Will I run to the Microphone or the Mountain?

O great and loving God, help me see reality with Your eyes, and never erroneously compare the size of my audience to the Glory of the One and Only.  Time alone with You is superior — every time — compared to the adulation of the crowd.

Jesus, You model for me what is primary: the company of your Father. No rivals.”

“Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.”   Joshua 21:45

While reading through the OT book of Joshua, I ran across the verse above.  I asked myself, “What precise promises has God made to me?”  I pondered that, and began a list (initially from my memory, then flipping through the pages of His Word).  In one sitting, I came up with 54.  May these bless your heart, today, as they are blessing mine.  I’ve taken the liberty with (nearly) each promise to write it in “the 1st Person,” so that the promise more effectually penetrates my heart.  Here we go, 54 Promises, just the tip of the iceberg.

1.  … for the Lord my God will be with me, wherever I go.   Joshua 1:9

2.    God will keep me in perfect peace if my mind is ‘stayed’ on Him.  Isaiah 26:3

3.   “Dan, I (the Lord) will never leave you or forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:5

4.   “Dan, I am with you, always, to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:20

5.    The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7

6.    He cares for me.  1 Peter 5:7

7.    I will do even greater things than Jesus did, because He went to the Father.  John 14:12

8.    If I remain in Him and His words remain in me, whatever I ask will be given to me.  John 15:7

9.    The Holy Spirit will guide me into all truth.  John 16:3

10.  The Holy Spirit will give me the right words when I need them.  Mark 13:11

11.  In this world I will have trouble.  John 16:33

12.  If I seek to live godly in Christ Jesus, I will be persecuted.  2 Timothy 3:12

13.  I am justified by Him, freely, by His grace.  Romans 3:24

14.  I have peace with God because I’ve been justified by faith in Jesus.  Romans 5:1

15.  I have access into this grace.  Romans 5:2

16.  There is no condemnation on me because I am in Christ Jesus.  Romans 8:1

17.  The Holy Spirit will help me to pray.  Romans 8:26-27

18.  All things work together for my good.  Romans 8:28

19.  Nothing will separate me from the love of Christ.  Romans 8:35

20.  I shall bear the likeness (and resurrection body) of Jesus, the ‘man from heaven.’  1 Corinthians 15:49

21.  My labor in the Lord is not in vain.  1 Corinthians 15:58

22.  God has created good works for me to walk in, today.  Ephesians 2:10

23.  I am being transformed into His likeness.  2 Corinthians 3:17

24.  God won’t let me be tried or tempted beyond what I can endure.  1 Corinthians 10:13

25.  God comforts the downcast, including me.  2 Corinthians 7:6

26.  God is able to make all grace abound to me, so all my needs will be met.  2 Corinthians 9:8

27.  I am worth (to God) more than the birds that He feeds.  Matthew 6:26

28.  God will supply all my needs.  Philippians 4:19

29.  God won’t forsake me (the righteous in Christ) nor have my children become beggars.  Psalm 37:25

30.  God’s grace will be sufficient for me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

31.  I will reap what I sow.  Galatians 6:7

32.  I have an inheritance.  Ephesians 1:14

33.  I have been brought near by the blood of Jesus.  Ephesians 2:13

34.  I may approach God with freedom and confidence.  Ephesians 3:12

35.  The Father has qualified me to share in the inheritance of the saints.  Colossians 1:12

36.  Christ now is in me!  Colossians 1:27

37.  God is faithful and will sanctify me.  1 Thessalonians 5:24

38.  God will repay with trouble those who trouble me.  2 Thessalonians 1:6

39.  God has given me a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7

40.  I have a crown of righteousness awaiting me, because I long for His appearing.  2 Timothy 4:8

41.  God won’t lie to me, because God cannot lie.  Titus 1:2

42.  Jesus will help me if I’m tempted.  Hebrews 2:18

43.  Varied trials will lead to my maturity.  James 1:2

44.  If I ask for wisdom from God, He will give it to me.  James 1:5

45.  If I ask, God will provide it.  James 4:2

46.  If I resist the devil, he will take a hike.  James 4:7

47.  If I draw near to God, He will draw near to me.  James 4:8

48.  Prayer is effective (note: my organization values effectiveness).  James 5:16

49.  After I have suffered for a little while, He will strengthen, confirm and establish me.  1 Peter 5:10

50.  A new heaven and earth await me, called the ‘home of righteousness’.  2 Peter 3:13

51.  He forgives and cleanses me as I confess my sins to Him.  1 John 1:9

52.  When Jesus re-appears, I’ll be made like Him.  1 John 3:2

53.  God has given me eternal life.  1 John 5:11

54.  I am a present possessor of eternal life, which is mine in the present tense verb “have.”  1 John 5:13

If you are in Christ, and He is in you, these staggering promises are all yours!  You have inestimable wealth — not the silly kind of mansions and money, yachts and luxury cars — but the wealth of the presence, power, purpose, and promises of the eternal God, made known to us in Jesus, and sealed with the comforting Holy Spirit.  You and I are wealthy, indeed!

Just finished reading Numbers 17 this morning (by the way, the Book of Numbers may be misnamed…. only a handful of chapters deal with “numbers” and population counts).  In it, God initiates a test case, to stop the Israelites from grumbling and complaining against Moses and Aaron.

The scenario is simple.  God says to take one staff from the leader of each of the 12 tribes of Israel.  Write the leader’s name on his staff.  For the tribe of Levi, write Aaron’s name.  Put all 12 sticks before the Ark of the Covenant and leave them overnight.  The one staff that sprouts overnight, that is the man that I’ve chosen to be priest before me.

Next morning… not only has Aaron’s staff sprouted, but it has gone much further.  Some sprouts became buds, some buds became blossoms, and some blossoms yielded almonds!  Overnight.  In the dark.

Upon seeing this, the people stop yammering for leadership, for position, for privilege.  God’s chosen one is clear.

What can I learn from this?

1.  God is God, and I am not.  Dan, accept the role in God’s Kingdom that He has given to you.

2.  Don’t complain against God’s chosen leadership, even if you don’t understand their decisions.

3.  Absolutely nothing is impossible for the living God.  He can make a dead stick produce abundant life.  He is alive right now, today.  Nothing is impossible for Him to do.

4.  Aaron is not chosen because of his impeccable character.  He has at least 2 disqualifiers in his life: the golden calf (Exodus 32), and his opposition to Moses that left his sister with leprosy (Numbers 12).  Though counterintuitive, our relatively righteous record (rrr) does not qualify us for God’s leadership.  None is righteous compared to God, not one.  All our righteousness is the delegated kind, the gifted kind, the credited kind.

5.  Finally and most noteworthy, Jesus is the better Staff of Aaron.  Unlike other religious leaders in history, only Jesus, when ‘cut off’ like a branch from the tree, did not dry up and decay.  Rather, when cut off (dead) and placed in the dark, he alone came back to life one morning, sprouting, budding, blossoming and producing fruit out of death.  As Aaron’s staff rose from death, much more did Jesus rise from death to produce life everywhere He goes.

I was reading in Numbers 5 this morning, and came across this simple line:

When a man or woman wrongs another in any way and so is unfaithful to God… v.5

Now, I’d expect it to say, “… and so is unfaithful to that person?”  How is it that when we wrong another person, we are actually being unfaithful to God?

Let me try an analogy:

1.  If I injure, abuse, or even kill a precious child, have I not also crushed the parent’s heart?

2.  If I destroy a masterpiece of art, have I not really crushed the artist’s heart?

God’s children, God’s greatest masterpieces … are people.  To hurt another person (made in God’s image) is to wound, offend, and crush the heart of God the Parent, God the Artist, God the Creator.

All sin against another person finds its ultimate offense and violation against the heart of God, the Creator of that person.  To put it rather crassly, He is the owner, and you are destroying His property.  (Only, it’s more important than that).

What if I thought this thought all the time?  What if I consistently thought, ‘if I do harm to my neighbor, I’m primarily offending the heart of God’?

What if my Christian friends thought like this?  What if the Churches of America thought like this?  What might happen in our society, to stoke it’s soul, before the fire goes out?

I fear for America’s future.  Not just for it’s institutions, but for it’s soul.  It is the collection of 300 million souls.  It is only as alive as each person is alive before God.  An unconverted public is a blind America stumbling toward the cliff.