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“What’s Happening?” (Weekend of August 30, 2014)

May 13, 2014   //   by James Johnson   //   Blog  //  No Comments

Saturday-Sabbath Services.

  • 10:00 AM Connection Group (Adult Sabbath School): The Teachings of Jesus, “The Church”
  • 11:00 AM Worship Connection – Skywriters: Living in the MomentChuck Reeves.
  • 11:00 AM, Carrollwood Kids: AR Allaso Ranch, “God is our guide! We should follow Him together!” Each week our pre-k through 6th grade children have fun learning practical ways to love and serve Jesus!

Following Worship Connection

  • “Next Step Prayers” in the Sanctuary, an opportunity to pray for each other, especially for the steps God is leading you to take in your life.
  • Join us for refreshments in the lobby following our Worship Connection!


  • Connection Groups
    • “Tech Talks” – 1:00 PM, Saturday, Sanctuary
    • “Sports Connection” – Postponed until further notice
    • “Becoming a Contagious Christian” – 6:30 PM, Tuesday, Pastor’s Office (closed group–contact the Pastor if you are still interested in this group).
    • “Singles” – 2nd and 4th Fridays of each month, beginning this Friday, 7:00 PM at the church.
    • “Healthy Meals Your Family Will Actually Eat!” – Begins September 20, 1:30 PM
  • End of Summer Party – August 23, 7:00 PM, Fellowship Hall.
  • Our Mission – We want to Connect and Develop effectively…in our homes and neighborhoods, workplaces and schools, in our church and community, and beyond!  We need your help!  Sign up for a ministry at Carrollwood, and give to our Local Church Budget (on weeks when this is the featured offering, loose offerings are applied to this; on other weeks, mark your “Tithes and Offerings” envelope to this effect).  Let’s do this together!
  • Baby Shower– Please plan to attend a “Baby Shower” for Derek & Yasmin, expecting twin girls in November.  The shower will beSeptember 7, 2:00 pm, at the church.
  • Deacons Ministry – The church board has voted to ask Stacey Miller to be the Head of Deacons Ministries (deacons and deaconesses) with Devon Hastings serving as Assistant Head of Deacons Ministries. This is the first reading for these positions.
  • Membership Transfers (Second Reading Sabbath): Brian Gonzalez to Meister Memorial Deer Lodge SDA Church in Deer Lodge, TN. Maria Gonzalez to Jamestown SDA Church in Jamestown, TN. Micaela Robinson to Dalton SDA Church in Dalton, GA.
  • Paper Recycling continues with the special bin in the parking lot. We are paid by the ton, proceeds going to help build a new unisex family/special needs restroom.
  • Text News – Let us know on your Connection Card or via e-mail if you would like to receive text message updates related to our church family and activities. Include your name and the number you would like to receive texts to.
  • Next Week (August 30) – Skywriters: Highlighting the Important Stuff, “Alliance Matters.” Speaker: James Johnson.

Reach us at (813) 962-7493 (office hours Monday-Wednesday, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM), or e-mail us at

Full Disclosure to Sell-outs

May 13, 2014   //   by James Johnson   //   Blog  //  No Comments

Full Disclosure to Sell-outs

So, this morning, I started re-studying Revelation. That’s right… just starting over, trying to get it even after I’ve been through Revelation seminars, read the thing over and over again, even taken a whole Seminary class on it. It seems like I always manage to miss or forget stuff that I feel like I should know.

Right off the bat, something got to me… I mean like verse 1.

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John…”

I started breaking this down. First, that big word at the beginning, which titles the whole book. “Revelation.” It’s a pretty deep word, from a Greek word: “apocalypses.” In English world, we get this totally wrong. Sports Illustrated used to do a little blurb each week about weird stuff athletes were doing. They called it “This Week’s Sign of the Apocalypse.” We see that word and think about the end being near. Well, if Revelation is the association we make with this word, I can see why. But ultimately, it doesn’t just mean this. By definition, it means “laying bare, naked; disclosing of truth or instruction.” It’s full disclosure, and in this case it’s full disclosure of things that haven’t happened yet. Most importantly, it’s full disclosure of Jesus Christ. There were things His servants didn’t know about Him yet.

That wasn’t bad stuff to see. Here was a small group of churches throughout Asia Minor, many of whom were being intensely persecuted, even killed. John himself was exiled because of his testimony of Jesus Christ. He had spent time with Jesus face-to-face, but there was apparently something he and the rest of Jesus’ servants did not know about Him, and it was all about what hadn’t yet happened.

But it got more intense when I looked into a different word: servant. Or bond-servant. Ultimately, Revelation was for Jesus Christ’s servants. The word for this is “doulos.” it can mean servant, bond-servant, or slave… one in servile condition. It’s deeper though: it is a person who has totally sacrificed his own self-interests for the interests of another. It’s a person devoted to another, with total disregard for his or her own desires.

In this context, it’s a complete and absolute sell-out for Jesus.

This is where it starts to sting a little. Verse one teaches that the “Full Disclosure” of Jesus Christ is for those who are complete sell-outs for Jesus. They have sacrificed and now disregard their own interests and desires for the sake of whatever Jesus reveals to them. They obey no matter what they have to give up to do so, and they don’t even think twice about it.

Intense stuff for an intense church!

So, here’s my takeaway from this. I am writing this because I need accountability. I know people who put stuff out there on Facebook or on their blogs, asking for friends to hold them accountable to better diet, exercise, spending habits, whatever. I think I need something similar. I need to be accountable to being a sell-out for Jesus.

Here are a couple of questions I have asked myself… feel free to consider them yourself.

  • Have I totally sold out to Jesus?
  • What keeps me from obeying and following Him fully? What are my “self-interests” that get in the way?

Is it possible that many of us… that I… have not “gotten” Revelation in previous studies because of this? I’m not trying to beat myself or anyone else up over this, but if the Revelation of Jesus is given for those who have absolutely sold themselves entirely out for Jesus and what He wants in our lives and in this world, and it’s not given for the half-hearted… could it be that it’s necessary to be challenged with those questions?

Do I have breath and life? Yes! I still have a purpose then. Today is always the day to start! So here’s my prayer today…

Lord Jesus, forgive me for not fully devoting myself to You. I’m trying, but I don’t seem to do very well far too often. I devote myself to You today, entirely. Help me to be ready to sacrifice my own interests for the sake of Jesus. May I be wrapped up in Your will and desires for humanity. “Fall me” in love with You entirely, so that it will be my first thought and desire to follow and obey You as Your bond-servant today. I want full-disclosure of You in my life.


May 7, 2014   //   by James Johnson   //   Blog  //  No Comments
  • Which memory is harder to shake: Rejection or guilt?

For me, it’s guilt. I’ve had to deal with rejection before, and while it’s not fun, you can at least attribute that to the actions of someone else. It’s much harder to deal with when am the one who screwed up! That’s the kind of stuff that keeps me awake at night and causes me to lose weight (the wrong way–I tend to lose my appetite when I’m stressed).

  • Which is harder to accept: Mercy or judgment?

Wow! That’s quite a question! I must admit that judgment may be easier to accept. Humans tend to be able to take what they deserve (good or bad). What we struggle with is getting what we don’t deserve. If we are treated unfairly, our hackles raise. If we are treated well when we should have been treated badly… well, we often don’t know how to react or process it.

Read Genesis 50:15-21. It’s the story of Joseph reassuring his brothers (after their father’s death) that he wasn’t going to pay them back for the wrongs they did. It’s the story of undeserved mercy.

The brothers were afraid. “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” (verse 15).

What do we do when we’re really afraid? Pretty much anything we can to escape that which we’re afraid of.

“Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” (verse 16-17).

Maybe I’m wrong, but this seems like an act of desperation. Genesis 45 paints a picture of a brother that already forgave them and even welcomed them to Egypt. You could read into the whole story a spirit of revenge if you wanted to I suppose, but I just don’t see anything very obvious from Genesis 45 onward.

  • What do you make of the brothers’ fear? Is it justified?
  • How does Joseph’s story reveal the truth of verses 19-21?

Here’s what Sarah Young writes in Jesus Calling.

“If you learn to trust Me–really trust Me–with your whole being, then nothing can separate you from My Peace. Everything you endure can be put to good use by allowing it o train you in trusting Me. This is how you foil the works of evil, growing in grace through the very adversity that was meant to harm you. Joseph was a prime example of this divine reversal, declaring to his brothers: “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.

“Do not fear what this day, or any day, may bring your way. Concentrate on trusting Me and on doing what needs to be done. Relax in My sovereignty, remembering that I go before you, as well as with you, into each day. Fear no evil, for I can bring good out of every situation you will ever encounter.”

Point well made. Joseph had already learned to lean on God. He had already learned to take whatever came his way… judgment or mercy… and “roll with it” in the arms of God. His brothers? Lesson still to be learned. But who better to teach them than the one who already had such experience? In Joseph, the one they persecuted, they saw a man who trusted in God’s sovereignty. Now, they could learn to do the same.

  • What low lights and highlights come to mind for you when you think of Genesis 50:19-21?
  • When have you been tempted to replace God in judging others? In judging yourself?
  • What could keep you from walking in God’s peace today?

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

Builders – Boldness (Nehemiah 2:1-10)

Apr 15, 2014   //   by James Johnson   //   Blog  //  No Comments

Read Nehemiah 2:1-10.

Watch “Builders – Boldness” online:


Where do you need Nehemiah’s boldness?

In your home, community, and church…

  • Who do you see that needs help?
  • What is going on around you that could be improved because of your involvement?
  • What do you need to do to take it personally?
  • What would it take for you to own it, mourn it, pray it, and act on it?
  • What are you called to do?
  • In what other areas do you need more boldness in your life?


God, give me your boldness, the same boldness you gave Nehemiah, to make a difference in my home, my community, and my church.

Builders – The Heart of a Builder – Notes

Apr 5, 2014   //   by James Johnson   //   Blog  //  No Comments

When you look at yourself, your family, your friends, your neighborhood… are you more apt to see problems? Opportunities?

Who was the original builder (read Genesis 1:1, John 1:1-2).

Read Nehemiah 1:1-4. Hanani brought a problem to Nehemiah’s attention. How did Nehemiah process this

  • What was the problem he saw?
  • How did he express how he felt about the problem?

Read Nehemiah 1:5-9. What was Nehemiah’s immediate reaction? How did he show how he owned the problem?

What does Nehemiah acknowledge in Nehemiah 1:10-11?

What could God be revealing to you about your own home? How can you personally own the problem and appropriately express how you feel about it? What do you need to surrender to God today? How can you do this in your community? In your church?

Next week: “Builders – The Boldness of a Builder”


Apr 3, 2014   //   by James Johnson   //   Blog  //  No Comments

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20)

What is the hardest thing you’ve ever faced?

A job interview? For some folks, this kind of thing is a ball of stress! There are some who interview well, and some who just can’t ever seem to say the right thing when it’s most needed… they just draw blanks when it’s time to impress! Or maybe it’s taking a test for others. But that’s mostly mental (and somewhat emotional) stress.

A marathon? I cannot imagine running 26+ miles anywhere, particularly on knees that don’t appreciate even 5. That’s why I took up bicycling. It’s the one sport I seem to be able to do pretty well and it’s more convenient than swimming. I hate lifting weights, even though I know I should do some kind of resistance training. But on the bike, it just feels great to me. I admire the marathoners, but I don’t really care to do it. Of course, that’s just physical stress. Emotions may play a part, as does the mental faculties, but really it’s mostly physical.

This morning, I read a blog written by a father who lost his young son just about a year ago. He explained how he felt. He spoke of what it was like when the funeral director told him it was time to close the casket. His anxiety levels skyrocketed as it sunk in that it would be the last time this side of eternity that he’d see his son, stroke his face, and kiss his forehead. His little boy’s favorite teddy bear was there with him, and for the last time he tucked his son in with his favorite blanket before the lid was closed.

That’s the part that got me, and I was reduced to a sobbing mess myself. I have my own precious children, and I love that special moment when I tuck them in and pray with them. That’s the kind of story that feels a bit like a punch in the gut, quite frankly. I have no context, no clue as to how to ever survive something like that. That’s like mental, physical, emotional stress all at it’s worst.

The following words from today’s Jesus Calling reading struck me:

“In Me you have everything. In Me you are complete… As your yearning for Me increases, other desires are gradually lessening. Since I am infinite and abundantly accessible to you, desiring Me above all else is the best way to live.

“It is impossible for you to have a need that I cannot meet. After all, I created you and everything that is. The world is still at My beck and call, though it often appears otherwise. Do not be fooled by appearances. Things that are visible are brief and fleeting, while things that are invisible are everlasting.

(Sarah Young, Jesus Calling)

Sometimes it’s easy to wonder how Christ can meet every need… is everything. How can He meet my emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual needs? What about those days it doesn’t seem like He’s doing that?

By the way, it’s normal to feel this way. And I don’t stand as one to give a trite answer either. Somehow, I’ve come to peace with the confusion of it all, sometimes even the anger or the exhaustion. Sometimes it’s hard to accept that there are some things I just don’t get and never will. Sometimes I even wonder why I accept something like this. Of course, the alternative isn’t very hopeful either.

Here’s a text that gives me at least some reassurance:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

I have to believe this to be true. I have to cling to this kind of hope or I’d be a mess!

How has Jesus been your everything? Or has He disappointed you at some point? How did you handle it? How does your faith in the invisible and eternal sustain you in times of stress and hardship?

What’s Happening? (Weekend of May 10, 2014)

Mar 27, 2014   //   by James Johnson   //   Blog  //  No Comments

Saturday-Sabbath Services.

  • 10:00 AM Connection Group (Adult Sabbath School). This week, “Christ’s death and the Law,” with Rick Bond (Child care provided).
  • 11:00 AM Worship Connection

Proverbs 31:28-31 (CEV) …Her children praise her, and with great pride her husband says,  “There are many good women, but you are the best!” …a woman who honors the Lord deserves to be praised.  Show her respect: praise her in public for what she has done.  As we honor our mothers this Sabbath on this Mother’s Day weekend, may we gain a deeper respect for the vital role mothers play in the family in the workplace and in…”Shaping a Generation”.

  • 11:00 AM, Carrollwood Kids

Each week our pre-k through 6th grade children have fun learning practical ways to serve Jesus!  Sabbath they will take a few minutes in our adult worship gathering to honor their Mothers in a very special way!

Following Worship Connection

  • Snacks and conversation in the Foyer!
  • “Next Step Prayers” in the Sanctuary, an opportunity to pray for each other, especially for the steps God is leading you to take in your life.
  • “Sharing Jesus” Connection Group resumes next week at 12:45 PM.


  • Family Game Show Night, May 10, 6:30 PM.  Enjoy “Haystacks” (Taco Salad) and refreshments followed by popular game show fun on the big screen.  Bring your family, invite your friends.
  • Pastor James is preaching this week at the Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church.
  • Paper Recycling continues with the special bin in the parking lot. We are paid by the ton, proceeds going to help build a new unisex family/special needs restroom.
  • “Community Prayer” Warriors – Meet at 6:00 PM Wednesdays at the church facility.
  • Text News – Let us know if you would like to receive text message updates related to our church family and activities. E-mail us at and Include your name and the number you would like to receive texts to.
  • True Couponing- Thursday, June 12, 7:00-9:15 PM: (Basic and Advanced).  Learn how to save in your budget every month!
  • Light for Sight– Don’t forget that you can help improve the lighting in our sanctuary!  Each light bulb costs $21. We have met a third of our goal.  You can make a tax-deductible donation by marking “Light for Sight” on your “Tithes and Offerings” envelope.
  • VBS Volunteer Orientation– There will be a meeting, May 17, after Snacks (12:45), for volunteers.  Anyone considering to become a volunteer should attend.
  • Next Week – You At Your Best, “Shaping a Family”, (Communion) with James Johnson.

Reach us at (813) 962-7493 (office hours Monday-Wednesday, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM), or e-mail us at

Strength or Fear?

Mar 21, 2014   //   by James Johnson   //   Blog  //  1 Comment

Strength or Fear?

“The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2)

FEAR: (verb) to be afraid; to expect or worry about (something bad or unpleasant); (noun) an unpleasant emotion due to be anticipation or awareness of danger; an anxious concern.

STRENGTH: the quality or state of being physically strong; the ability to resist being moved or being broken by force; the quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way.

Typically, these two words don’t work together. They combat each other. Strength overcomes fear, or fear is too much for strength (meaning strength is no longer really a strength). Sometimes, fear can give a person strength, usually due to an adrenaline rush. How else could average human beings lift a car that was about to crush a child (one of the miraculous stories you hear about from time to time)?

Each day we face something that we do not have the strength to overcome. It’s the world. More specifically, it’s sin, thrown at us by a devil who hates us and is much more powerful than we are. He may not physically beat you up, but he knows your weaknesses and takes advantage of them whenever it’s possible to do so.

I dont’ know about you, but I don’t have the strength within myself to fight the devil… alone. Left to myself, I have reason to have a lot of fear.

Here’s what Sarah Young wrote in Jesus Calling

“Don’t be afraid. I am your Strength and your Song. I am your Power and your Joy.

“What does it mean to have Me as your Strength? I simply spoke and the universe was created! Mountains soared up out of the earth! The sun and stars lit up the sky! My Power is absolutely unlimited. And I am able to take that same Power and make you strong.
“Think of it: I am on your side. I will guide you, protect you, and even fight for you if necessary. So don’t let yourself bcome filled up with fear. Fear only blocks My Strength. Instead of being afraid, trust Me–remember that I am your Strength!

“I am also your Song. I want you to grab hold of My Joy. Celebrate! Shout for joy because I am right beside you!”

How well does your joy match your walk and your talk for God?

When have you most keenly felt God’s goodness? His love? His strength?


Mar 12, 2014   //   by James Johnson   //   Blog  //  No Comments


“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me.” (John 14:1)

“Waiting, trusting, and hoping are intricately connected, like golden strands interwoven to form a strong chain. Trusting is the central strand because it is the response from My children that I desire most. Waiting and hoping embellish the central strand and strengthen the chain that connects you to Me. Waiting for Me to work, with your eyes on Me, is evidence that you really do trust Me. If you mouth the words ‘I trust You’ while anxiously trying to make things go your way, your words ring hollow. Hoping is future-directed, connecting you to your inheritance in heaven. However, the benefits of hope fall fully on you in the present.

“Because you are Mine, you don’t just pass time in your waiting. You can wait expectantly, in hopeful trust. Keep you ‘antennae’ out to pick up even the faintest glimmer of My Presence.”

(From Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young)

“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage and He shall give you the desires of your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)

I did not do a lot of dating as a teenager. I was more into playing basketball and music, and I wasn’t what you would call the most smooth guy around (awkward teenage boy would best have described me). I got a little flak for it at times, how I was missing out and what I should do differently. Early on in college I attempted to do a bit more, seeing as I was closing in on 20 and some of my friends were already getting pretty serious in their romantic lives. More to the point, the guys and girls were snatching each other up, and I was starting to feel like a third wheel more and more! I also attended a school affectionately nicknamed “Southern Matrimonial College,” and was a pastor-in-training to boot (there’s a bit of a stigma attached to unattached pastors even to this day).

It was after my sophomore  year that I finally decided to quit trying. If it was going to happen, it would happen in God’s time, not because of my efforts (which were sometimes directed toward women that would have probably been terrible matches for me anyway, and I wouldn’t have been any better for them).

Funny thing… when I actually started waiting on the Lord in my relational life, the pressure went away! Even funnier, it was that summer, while working at a summer camp in California, that I fell in love with the woman who would be my wife four years later! The cheesy thing to say is that it was a “match made in heaven,” but in actuality I know that was a true statement, cheesy though it may sound.

There just isn’t a substitute for Jesus. When we wait on Him, the best is yet to come. When we do not, then we wind up accepting something less than the best. Now, that’s not to say He cannot recreate and redeem something. There are people who have great marriages and friendships out there who went about it in all the wrong ways. The point I am making is that waiting on God brings about contentment with who you are and what is going on around you. Why? Because you know the best is yet to come! It strengthens hope, which is a crucial thing for those who follow Jesus.

We wait for Jesus to come and claim His bride… His people… the Church! That’s anyone who is a follower of Jesus. It stinks sometimes. It’s hard, awkward, and frustrating. The whole creation, according to Paul, waits like a woman in labor. If we don’t wait on Jesus, however, we wind up grasping for substitutes even for His kingdom. Here is a bold statement to go with it: anything less than the Kingdom God has planned for us is a demonic fraud! Not trusting in Christ, not waiting for Him, not hoping for Him… it all leads to something far less than the best.

Have you ever suffered for settling?

When have you experienced “delayed gratification”?

What have you learned in your life from waiting on the Lord?

Greater than the Force

Feb 13, 2014   //   by James Johnson   //   Blog  //  No Comments

The cultures and religions surrounding the stories and writers of the Bible fascinate me. Just a basic, working knowledge of that stuff can really open up your eyes to why writers wrote the way they wrote, taking truths God inspired them with and writing them out in ways God’s people, and the people around them, could grasp. Like any great preacher or author today, they just knew how to do it.

John, the disciple Jesus loved, is a pretty cool example of this. He wrote about things that Jews would understand from their history in order to explain present reality–such as all the sanctuary imagery you find in The Revelation of Jesus Christ (I try and use the whole title there so as not to forget what the intention of the book was). But he did pretty well at capturing the imagery of the surrounding cultures and religions outside Judaism as well. John 1 is a good example of this. In brief, as I’ve been studying it this week, here’s how I am seeing this. I admit that Wikipedia has helped out with this some, so it bears noting that it’s a good idea to look into this for yourself and broaden the research a bit, but here goes…

Stoic philosophy was something that developed in Athens in the 3rd century, BC. Stoicism taught the errors in judgment led to destructive emotions. A person of moral and intellectual perfection (or a “sage”) would not put up with such destructive emotions. They were very concerned with the relationship between “cosmic determination” (fate) and human behavior. They were one in a long line of philosophies that placed a lot of emphasis on “logos..” This is a word that is literally translated as “word,” or “knowledge.” They defined it a step further as “reason.” So, logos had to do with the reasons why people do what they do, and how it relates to “cosmic fate” (sort of).

The Stoics had this thing called “logos spermatikos,” which was to them the generative principle of the universe (the creative reason that generated matter and life). This would one day heavily influence Neoplatonism, which taught that God is “supra rational,” and could only be reached through ecstasy (not a drug) and perfection. He is the primeval source of being, the formless One, the cosmic force from which life and being flows.

The philosophies of the age also taught that darkness was but the absence of light, and that darkness, in and of itself, did not exist.

Sounds to me like George Lucas borrowed a bit of material for “Star Wars, but that’s just my opinion. Of course, the “dark side” of the force was in opposition to the good side of the force, but I digress…

You might say that John knew something about this stuff too, but His departure from other philosophies was pretty dramatic.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:1-5)

John was great at this. His “son of thunder” reputation came out sometimes in his writings too. What he does here is say, to the Jews and to the prevailing and developing philosophies of his day, “JESUS IS WAY BETTER than that rot!”

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:6-13)

You philosophers who know so much, you people who founded this Stoic movement or Platonism (or Neoplatonism)… there was this guy who preached in the desert and ate honey and tree-beans (“locusts” probably doesn’t actually refer to bugs) and wore camel-skin clothes… he knew something you didn’t even conceive of!

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Greek philosophies didn’t teach about the “life-generating force” becoming a human being. They didn’t talk about God coming down. They didn’t believe in the “supra rational” taking on a visible form! All they could think of was a formless God-force emanating life (might as well have been the “big bang” if you’re going to buy that) and human beings working toward ecstasy and perfection to reach Him (or it… or whatever).

Jews taught of a the One true God. They knew of a coming Messiah. But they could but conceive of a savior that returned to them their earthly rule and riches, not the One that would bring peace between created people and a mysterious and perfect God.

Considering all he was surrounded by in his life, and his experience with Jesus, I can only come to the conclusion that John was writing something radical here. He knew the ancient Jewish teachings and the philosophies of pagans that were taking hold in his days. Rather than shouting them down, he showed how Jesus was greater.

Greater than the force. Greater than any other created human being. Greater than an earthly king. Greater than ecstasy and “achieved” perfection.

And get this… if you are to believe John, they actually were eyewitnesses of all of it… “we beheld His glory…”

Know that when you experience Jesus, you experience the greatest thing there ever was. Creator. Personal (not just a force). Fully God. The reason for existence.

Jesus. ALL.

Have you experienced Jesus in any of these ways?

I don’t believe any of it changes the fundamental truths about God and His plan, but just how the writers approached communicating inspired truth. However, is there any other insight (new or corrective) you have on the relationship of culture, religion, history, and philosophy, and how it impacted the way Bible writers wrote?


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