In Plain Sight

Orange Oakleaf (Kallima inachus)
wet season, female, underside

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” — John 3:1-8 ESV

My dad once said to me, “The man who calls you an idiot is reliable for the same reason that the guy who gives you a compliment isn’t.”

It seems to me, Jesus was a hard man to compliment. Continue reading

Light and Dark

“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” — John 3:19-21 ESV

Light is something. Darkness isn’t. As John noted, “…God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all”. Darkness is simply the absence of God.

With graceful and delicate movements plants bend into the sunlight. In so doing, they perform a little miracle as they sit in the sun and absorb red and blue wavelengths of light. They use that energy to add a little phosphorus and a hydrogen ion to a couple of molecules in especially useful ways. This little trick makes our life possible. That’s not an exaggeration. All of the food we eat gets to our plates in just this way. There is no other source. Humans walk around all hours of the day and night, something plants would consider biologically extravagant, and remain blithefully confident that plants will do the hard work of making food for us. Plants turn a little light, a little water, and a bit of CO2 into sugar. It’s a miracle.

It’s what we choose to do in the dark that Jesus makes note of here in John. Continue reading


Lamb from Stodmarsh, Kent, England
Photo by Keven Law

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. — John 10:7-10 ESV

Sometimes when, in his words, my dad thought I was getting “too big for my britches”, he would say to me, “It doesn’t take a genius to see that you aren’t one.” At the time, that sort of a statement was lost on me which I suppose proved his point.

So Jesus comes along and refers to me as a sheep. I’ve seen sheep. There are few animals less capable of independent survival than domestic sheep. Continue reading

Being First

Amos and Friend at the
Gem Foundation, Uganda
Photo by Molly Katherine White

And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” — Mark 9:33-37 ESV

The disciples, like us, were influenced by the culture around them. And Like chickens, people create pecking orders. We just can’t help ourselves. We think in terms of hierarchy and we recognize signs and symbols of status and influence in the world around us. This is so automatic that we are usually unaware of it. Those of influence are surrounded by those of less influence. It’s how we spot our leaders. Continue reading