Wednesday – Change It – Originality

I know a PHd student who asked this question on Facebook: “How do you cite Facebook?”

Researchers like her live and breathe citations. It’s critical that they learn how to quote someone properly. There are whole books written about referencing sources properly.

Good teaching in Jesus’ day was the same. Rabbi Hirschel says this. Rabbi Hillel says that. At best, a good teacher might come up with some creative parallel, paradox or new insight into those ancient words.

But to say something original, that was risky. Maybe you could get away with it at end of your career, or maybe after you’d died, people would say it about you.

The Jewish people have such a long history – to make up your own stuff was as if you thought you were better, and could ignore the past.

If you did, people would ask, “Who is this guy?” In this case, he was Jesus, a carpenter from a small town. He never went to the advanced schools of Judaism. Lucky he was literate.

He was not where you’d expect original, profound teaching to come from. You might expect teaching that was original and trite, or profound and dated, but not original and profound at once.

Yet, everyone, even his enemies, saw this profound, original teaching in Jesus. They said the same as these crowds. “He teaches as one with authority” meaning he wasn’t quoting the great teachers of the past, like other Jewish Rabbis always did. He just taught, and people recognized his words as good and true, despite his lack of citations.

He hadn’t followed another rabbi, he just gathered a school of students around him.

He doesn’t need to cite, because he is the source of all truth. He is called the “Word” of God – the “Word” being a Greek concept of the truth with personality.

Question: How is Jesus different from other teachers in your life? What did he teach that no one else said before, or has ever improved upon since?

We meet for coffee every Wednesday night at Starbucks in the Chapters Store in Ajax, in Durham Region just East of Toronto. Maybe we’ll see you there?

Cast: Redeem the Commute


Tuesday – Study It – Originality

We’re looking at the final section of the Sermon on the Mount this week:

“When Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” (Matthew 7:28-29 ESV)

Jesus’ teaching is widely thought of as being the greatest and most original human teaching to have ever existed. No one is quoted more than Jesus. Many people, even those who are not Christians, have the greatest respect for Jesus and try to live by his teachings.

A friend of mine once proudly quoted to me: “Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand’” I had the joy of telling him that Lincoln was actually quoting Jesus!

When I began a Masters degree – I read through the grading structure – what constitutes an A, B, C, etc. Description of an A+ was “Profound and Creative – Strong evidence of original thought.” This is a rare thing indeed – someone who can come up with completely original ideas, rather that simply quoting, or worse, stealing the work of others.

Jesus dared to do this – in the Sermon on the Mount, he regularly started with, “I say to you.” or “I tell you.” Whenever he says “they say” and quotes another religious teacher, he is about to say they’re wrong!

He was acting as if he could just say these things under his own authority, as if he was the source of all wisdom, knowledge and morality. Because he was! But they didn’t know that yet.

Question: Reflect on all that Jesus has been teaching and what we have studied in the Sermon on the Mount through the last several months. What has amazed you about his teaching? What has confused you?

Cast: Redeem the Commute


Monday – A New Idea – Originality

Think back to your last experience of school. I’m sure it involved some good teachers, and some not so good teachers.

Soemtimes we like teachers or not for trite reasons – fun, easy, etc. But think about the content – who could really teach?

I remember two kinds of bad teachers. One who didn’t care. He taught the curriculum, nothing more, nothing less. One day he didn’t show up, and the students didn’t mind at all!

I also remember one who tried really, really hard. But he didn’t actually know the material, so he had no credibility. The smart kids were always proving him wrong.

But what about good teachers? What about the ones where they explain something, and it clicks?

Now, imagine a really great teacher. Somebody who comes up with something new and original, and explains it well. This is rare indeed.

I recall my favourite professor at university, who joked at the beginning of his course, “I’ve you’ve read my book, sorry, I only have so much material.” But that was okay, since it reall was his material. He wrote the book because it was his authoritative, original content, and he shared it in compelling ways.

Question: Who was the best teacher you ever had? What did they teach you? Why were they the best?

Cast: Redeem the Commute


Thursday – Act On It – Foundations

Spiritual real estate agents will tell you to build your life on their teaching, but you need to know if it’s sandy or solid.

I’d encourage you to do a spiritual home inspection.

That’s the point of the entire Sermon on the Mount: Don’t just look at the outer appearances…religious membership or observances. Your following of certain rules or teachings is like the house on top of a foundation.

Instead, look at the foundation of the whole thing, get under the house and knock some floor joists, check the concrete for cracks.

In life, check your heart and motivations. If your life is in danger of crumbling because someone dies, you get sick, a relationship ends, a stock price falls, a job gets lost, or whatever, then you’ve built on sand.

Our problem is often when we start with the house – investing so much in a beautiful house that can fall over at any point.

The proper way to build is to start with a plumb, level foundation, which equals a plumb and level house, made of individual materials that are plumb and level. It all starts with the foundation.

Thankfully, Jesus says building life on rock is as simple as hearing his words and living them out, intentionally choosing to follow his way of life, making him your foundation.

Then we can build our view of the body, money, career, sexuality, health, relationships, etc. on the basis of that foundation, rather than trying to fit together things that don’t belong.

This foundation in life will eventually transform all aspects built on top. But it starts with heart, the foundation.

Challenge: If you’ve never intentionally decided to follow Jesus, to build your life on his foundation, invite you to pray for that today. If you have said those words, but know you haven’t followed through with action, pray this as well.

Gracious Father, I realize that you already know me and that you love me. You love me so much that your Son Jesus died for me. I want to make a fresh start with you, to put you at the very centre of my life and to follow you from now on.

Please forgive me for all those things in my past that have come between us. And help me to turn away from whatever would keep me from following you faithfully and consistently in the future. Please help me to grow to know and follow you more and more each day. Help me to grow into the person that you desire me to be. Amen.

Then, please tell me! You can get in touch through our web site or mobile app. If you aren’t able to do that, do tell another person in your life who you know is trying to follow Jesus.

Cast: Redeem the Commute


Wednesday – Change It – Foundations

Yesterday we saw one truth from Jesus’ story about foundations in life: that we all build on one foundation or another.

Truth 2: Difficult times will come to all.

We are all subject to the same rains, winds. Both houses face the same problems, but their foundations are differently equipped to withstand such pressures.

IF built on sand, then great was its fall.

If my identity is based on a stock portfolio, then when the market drops, my life falls apart.

If my identity is built on my physical health or beauty, the moment I get older, or get a bad diagnosis, I’m shaken. I can’t be who I thought I was forever.

If my identity is on my kids becoming what I expect, I can ride high when things are good. I can be proud of their accomplishments, and so on. But that good life is easily shaken. If they make bad choices, don’t choose a prestigious career, I’m done and can do little to fix the situation.

But if my identity is not on kids, but on God, following Jesus to him, then it’s built on rock. Then if my kids make bad choices, my identity is not shaken. I will be heartbroken, but by knowing who I am and that my foundation is on a solid rock, I will be able to reach out a hand to help them while they sink in sand.

If my stock portfolio drops, I will be able to live on, knowing that I’ve invested in eternal treasure, and didn’t wrap myself up in that financial identity to the point of unnecessary risk.

As my body begins to age or sustains injuries or illness, I can see it all in perspective. My life is built on my relationship with God, and my body is meant to serve that purpose. I’m not here to serve my body.

We’ll see tomorrow how that looks in practice.

Question: How can foundations in life crumble? What kinds of winds or rains expose their sandiness?

We meet for coffee every Wednesday night at Starbucks in the Chapters Store in Ajax, in Durham Region just East of Toronto. Maybe we’ll see you there?

Cast: Redeem the Commute