Glory in Rejection

Jesus life on earth is bookended by rejection

– Rejection by the Inn Keeper at birth

– Rejection by His own disciples at death

But in rejection there is glory

His birth while humble was:

– So wonderful….that a single star shined brightly

– So wonderful…that wise men came from a far

– So wonderful…that the people of this earth to this day are still inspired by that holy night so long ago His death while burial provides:

– Hope…because of the prophecy fulfilled by His crucifixion

– Hope….because of the victory of His resurrection

– Hope….because of the forgiveness afforded by His sacrifice

Jesus proves to us that there is glory in rejection

  • So take heart…… His suffering was not in vain
  • So take heart ……His body was broken for a purpose
  • So take heart…….His blood was spilled for goodness

Jesus life was on earth is bookended by rejection:

Why?

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16KJV)

For in Jesus where there is rejection there is glory.

 

The Power Walks of Jesus

Palm SundayWelcome to Palm Sunday, a commemoration of the triumphal entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem.  The account of this event in Matthew 21: 1-9 portrays the excitement as the crowd spread their coats and branches on the road.  The enthusiasm reached a fever pitch as everyone around Jesus shouted:

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Alias, as we all know, this wonderful reception and the good feelings for the Son of David, was only to last for a short time, as Jesus would be:

Arrested by His enemies,

Betrayed by His disciples, and

Crucified by a mob so hungry for blood that they could not see His innocence.

While all of these events are foretold in prophecy, it is still Jesus on Dunkeydistributing that our Lord and Savior, the King of Kings, and Son of God suffered these incredible indignities.  However, these events also show how much the Lord loves us.  He sent Jesus His only Son to a horrible death on the cross so that we might have an opportunity for a glorious new life in relationship with our Heavenly Father.

It is ironic that prophecy had Jesus in His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding instead of walking, as was His custom.  His walks were not on smooth paved roads or walking paths as in our modem world.  Rather, it was on the dry, dirty, and uneven roads of His time on earth.

And so it was, that the only time that we can find in scripture that Jesus was spared from walking, was not on a grand coach befitting His royal status, but it was on a humble donkey.

And so it was, that the only time that we can find in scripture that Jesus was welcomed like the rock-star that He is, was in a procession into a city, Jerusalem, the same city in which He would suffer and die within a few days.

And so was, I think it is fair to conclude, that this scripture shows that while Jesus is all powerful, His power is truly manifested, not when He is riding, but when He is walking.

And so it is, while we commemorate that donkey ride on Palm Sunday. Let’s take a few moments to focus on some power walking that Jesus did for us.

Walking In Faith – John 4:46-54

Cana to CapernaumJesus was in Cana, where He had turned the water into wine. While there in Cana, a government official, from the city of Capernaum, approached Jesus with a request.  The man’s son was at death’s door, and the man begged Jesus to come to Capernaum to heal his son.  Clearly frustrated by the lack of faith, Jesus asked, “Won’t any of you believe in me unless I do more and more miracles?”  Despite Jesus’ question, the official continued to pled, “Sir, please come now before my child dies.”

Then Jesus told the man from Capernaum, “Go back home. Your son is healed!” And the man believed Jesus and started to walk home. It was during the lonely walk home some of the man’s servants met him with the news that all was well and his son had recovered.  Clearly relieved, the man asked when the lad begun to feel better.  The servant replied, “Yesterday afternoon at about one o’clock his fever suddenly disappeared!” Then the father realized it was the same moment that Jesus had told him, “Your son is healed.” And the officer and his entire household believed that Jesus was the Messiah.

Walking the Harvest – Matthew 9:35-38

Jesus walked around and visited towns, both big and small. HarvestWherever Jesus walked He taught in the Jewish synagogues, announcing the Good News and healing people of every sort of illness. In his walks, Jesus saw the great need of the people, feeling pity for them.  He described them as sheep without a shepherd.

Jesus told his disciples a huge harvest of people need the Lord. He asked the Lord to recruit more workers to harvest His fields.

The Walk to Emmaus and Beyond – Luke 24:13-27

On the same day of His resurrection, two of Jesus’ disciples were walking to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles out of Jerusalem.  The men were deep in conversation about the events leading up to crucifixion, and then all of a sudden Jesus came up and walked along side of them. But they did not recognize Him.

Recognizing that both men were distraught and troubled, Jesus asked what they were upset about.  They recapped Jesus’s entire history of teaching, challenging religious leaders, feeding the hungry, raising the dead, healing the sick, and casting out demons.  They concluded by discussing the report that the body of Jesus was missing. The tone of the men indicated that they quested the account.

Walk to Jerusalem to Emmaus

Hearing this, Jesus replied and said to them, “So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into His glory?” Then He started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to Him.

The men were so in awe of Him that they asked Jesus to spend the night, so He went with them. Here is what happened: Jesus sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, He blessed and broke it and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, the disciples recognized Jesus. And then He disappeared

After Jesus left, the two men talked and they agreed. “Didn’t we feel on fire as He conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?”

Power Walk Conclusions

1.    Jesus walks because He wants you to walk in Faith  

When Jesus told the Capernaum official to “Go back home. Your son is healed!” He was expressing that as we walk, we should walk in the faith that only He affords.

 2.    Jesus wants to use our walk to bring in a huge harvest for the Lord.

As we saw in Matthew 9:35-38, there is no place too small for Jesus to walk.  His walk was a fulfillment of God’s faith in us, and His commitment to covert us to be workers for the harvest.

 3.    Our world opens up when we discover that Jesus is walking with us. 

The two disciples of Jesus, walking to Emmaus, learned firsthand how much clearer and open the world can be when we know that Jesus is with us.  Jesus commands us to use the clearness and openness to realize the Great Commission

Commemorate the Ride but Remember the Walk

PalmsWhile the donkey ride that we commemorate on Palm Sunday is important, the real triumph takes place when Jesus is powerwalking with us. For in those powerwalks Jesus:

  • Heals us with faith,
  • Harvests us to do His will, and
  • Open our hearts to His love, His grace and His goodness.

So this Palm Sunday, let’s commemorate the ride but remember the power walk of Jesus.

How to Remember Names

Trading Business CardsYou are at a business or social event, and you meet a person. Let’s call her Susan. You have a wonderful discussion and perhaps exchange business cards.  You meet more people and exchange more business cards. Later, while you’re taking to another new acquaintance, let’s call him Sam, Susan joins the conversation. They both address you by name.  However, for all the bourbon in Kentucky, you can’t recall their names!

Scared WomanHas this embarrassing situation ever happened to you? Well, it has happened to me. When it does happen to you, do you assign the entire episode to something that you have no control over?  That is, the genic defect that you were born with is rendering you incapable to remember names!

What if I told you that it does not have to be that way?  What if I told you that there is a way to remember the names of people you meet, regardless of where or how you meet them?  Well, I am pleased to share a remarkable method that has given me a breakthrough in what I thought was impossible, how to remember names.

Don GaborDon Gabor is a communication expert and author of the book How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends.  He has developed a simple, yet effective five second strategy designed for instant name recognition and recall.  Follow these steps and you will soon be recalling names with some of the best networkers around.

The First Second: Focus on the moment of introduction

Don recommends that you give full attention to the person you are meeting for the first time.  Do these things to ensure that you are focused in the moment of introduction:

President Carter and Me 1980
President Carter and Me 1980
  • Make direct eye contact.
  • Offer a warm smile.
  • Extend a firm handshake.
  • Hold on to the other person’s hand for an extra second to focus on the next and most critical step hearing the of the name.

The Second Second: Focus and Listen for the Name 

This is the moment of truth. The most important part of anyExchangin Names introduction is the name.  In this critical second, Don recommends that you do the following:

  • Don’t think of yourself or think of what you are going to say next.
  • Concentrate with your complete attention, listening for every letter in the person’s name.
  • Pay particular attention to the first initial in the name.
  • If you miss the name, simply say, “I am sorry I did not catch your name, and ask for the person to repeat the name.
  • If the name is usual (like Marben!), a foreign name, or a name you did not catch, the second time around ask, “Can you spell your name for me?”

Don’t worry about looking foolish while asking for clarification. The key is to get the name correctly.

The Third Second: Repeat the Name Aloud

RepeatingQuickly repeat the name to make sure that you got it right.  Don indicates that repeating the name will produce several additional benefits:

  • First, it will let the other person know that you listened.
  • Second, it is flattering. Nothing is more soothing to a person than the sound of the person’s own name.
  • Third, repetition is a key ingredient in remembering the name.

The Fourth Second: Think of Someone with the Same Name 

Chances are good that the person you just met has the same name Floof someone that you know. Don says lock in on the first person that comes to mind such as a relative, a classmate, or even a famous person that you don’t know.  Experts agree that association is another key to memory.

The Fifth Second: Use your New Found Name at the End of the Conversation

ConversationUsing a person’s name at the end of the conversation personalizes the encounter, while increasing the opportunity that you will remember the name.  Don tells us that using the name at the end of the discussion completes the cycle, ensuring that you have left a great first impression and a new name in your memory.

“I call everyone “Darling” because I can’t remember their names.”  Zsa Zsa Gabor.    

Hello Marben Bland Tag

While this approach may work for a movie star, it is not a long term strategy for those of us who want and need to make positive and productive impressions.  I hope these excellent suggestions from Don Gabor will be the first steps leading to a lifetime of remembering names and developing excellent relationships.

The Wit and Wisdom of Benjamin Bland

My siblings and I are so blessed to have been raised by two wonderful parents.  My mother Mary Lois was in education, and we were students in her family classroom of faith, love, and achievement.  My father Benjamin worked for the department of defense, traveling an hour and a half each day to an air force base in the height of 60s, 70s, and 80s cold war.  Together, Mom and Dad formed a tandem with God’s grace and love in order to raise six children in Jim Crow, small town Georgia.  Our parents navigated the particulars of segregation and degradation, while at the same time, gave each of us the confidence and strength to take full advantage of the opportunities that the Civil Rights movement afforded.

Mon Dad Me 1980
Mon Dad Me 1980

Daddy was the smartest, wisest, and funniest man I have ever met. While this is not a singular statement for a son to say about his father, it has been confirmed to me in so many ways by people who never met him.  Particularly, when I invoke one of Daddy’s many nuggets of wit and wisdom in a business meeting, a speech or in my writings, often I have been asked to catalog the statement he has made. However, as a man who for too long had been too busy with the things of life instead of the meaning of life, I declined to catalog many of Daddy’s nuggets of wisdom.  In part, thinking who would really care and why would I be so presumptuous to think that these thoughts would stand the test of time translated in a world of social media dominated by tweets, pokes, and critical refrains.  However, as God has given me more things to do, He has also given me the gift of reflection and in those moments, I have come to realize that I must share the thoughts of Benjamin Bland.  Not just for me but for the generation of grandchildren and great-great grandchildren who did not know Daddy personally but can benefit from his wit, his wisdom, and his love.

Most of Daddy’s wit and wisdom were personal messages to me, delivered by starting with the word “Son.” In the convention in which they were given, many of these messages will start with the word “Son” as well:

1.    “Son, I never worried about the mistakes that you would make; I knew you would make plenty of them.  I worry about how you are going to handle them.”

As humans our life is a mistake fest; we make mistakes all the time, especially in the most critical areas of our lives such as in our careers, in our finances, and in our relationships.  God also knows that we will make mistakes, bad choices, and commit sinful behavior. However via His love and grace, He has given us ways to handle them, making us stronger and better, so that we can do His will.

2.    “Son, you are too dumb to lie.”

From the first lies ever told by Adam and Eve, lies have been the downfall of our existence.  While we have all lied, God has provide us a pathway out of a life of dishonesty.

Why? Because “God knows everything (1st John 3:20)

How? Because He knows you and me intimately (Psalms139:1-10)

Where? Because He is aware of each temptation, each broken heart, each illness, each worry, and each sorrow we face.” And if we tell Him, there is no need to lie.

I invite you to read the post Have You Been Lied To? Where I share more of Daddy’s advice about not lying.

 3.    “Son, pride will rule you if pride is all you’ve got.”

As a young man, I was always concerned about my appearance. How would this decision make me look?  Why would someone say that to me?  What must I do to fit in?  Daddy understood that pride was ruling me. pride clouded my judgment, impeded my relationships, and prevented me from standing on my own principals.  God is clear about the destruction that pride can have in our lives. The story of Cain and Able in Genesis 4 is about pride and what it can bring us when pride is all we have.  Daddy’s message to me was that when we live a life, a full life trusting in the Lord, we can live free from the crippling elements that pride alone can bring. 

4.    “Son, I am going to see a man about a mule.”

When we asked Daddy where he was going, he often replied that he was going to see a man about a mule.  As small children, we inquired constantly about the mule.  We asked questions like, “What does the mule look like?” “What things can mule do?” “When can we see the mule?”    Daddy’s response to all of our questions was always, “You have to talk to the man?” Later as teenagers, we observed that Daddy no longer used the phase about seeing the man about the mule.” When asked why? Daddy said, “The man died.”  The fact is that Daddy’s visits were never about a mule, the visits were always about the man.  In our dealings in the world, it is always easy to focus on things, the shiny object of the mule often takes us away from what is most important relationships with people.

5.    “Son, be patient, be persistent, but be in a hurry.”

Life goes fast and Daddy understood that the opportunity of a lifetime only lasts for the lifetime of the opportunity. However, Daddy also understood that his children needed to have a balance of urgency, mixed with patience, and persistence.  Galatians 5:22 grounds Daddy’s wisdom in biblical truths: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” (New Living Translation)

Daddy’s Wit and Wisdom

In the decade and a half since his passing Daddy’s wit and wisdom is more real to me than ever before.  While I pride myself in writing these post with a focus on the readers; this post was for me.  For it was in the writing of the worlds you have just read; the essence of Benjamin Bland came to me.  Daddy’s life was not about his wit and wisdom but about his love, for his God, his wife and his family which was the true source of his wit and wisdom.