It’s Not Rule Books—It’s Jesus!

GodReflection: It’s Jesus Friday

garyguarujaIt seems appropriate to begin this post with a quotation I came across this past week from A. W. Tozer’s classic book published in 1948, The Pursuit of God.

Rulebook1“. . . we Christians are in real danger of losing God amid the wonders of His Word. We have almost forgotten that God is a Person and, as such, can be cultivated as any person can.”

By the time Jesus walked the earth religious leaders knew the rules. They not only knew the 613 commandments of God—their count—but they also knew man’s rules to keep God’s rules.

They were so adept at keeping their own rules to obey God’s rules that their actions caused them to miss God.

The Gospels chronicle the continual battle the religious had with Jesus. The Holy Son of God frequently exposed their commitment to the rules rather than to God the Father.

rulebook5Acts 15 records what is arguably the most important meeting ever held by the church. At stake was the question of the necessity for non-Jews to keep the Law of Moses—commands of God—in order to follow Jesus.

At stake was the question, “Is Jesus enough?”

The dilemma is set before the apostles, the elders, Barnabas, and the Jerusalem church for resolution.

Peter declares, “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.

God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.

Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?

No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

With Jesus indwelling the body of believers through the Holy Spirit the ruling was reached by the Jerusalem church, the apostles, the elders, and Barnabas.

James spoke up:

“Brothers,” he said, “listen to me.

Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles . . . It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.”

Here is what I think.

As one who wants to follow Jesus I want to have my antenna extended to act in harmony with the story of Scripture and refrain from making my own rules greater than the core of Jesus’ gospel.

rulebook10His message was always the same. When the rule is used to trump human need by blocking the heart of God, then the rule is wrongly used.

Far too many times, I’ve limited my participation within the fullness of God’s vision by running plays and teaching plays from a rule book God did not write.

I didn’t realize it at the time but most of the plays were designed to keep “Gentiles” out of my definition of gospel and church.

Even today, I wonder how many plays I run from my rule book that might block others from easy recognition of God’s heart.

I should always be grateful for His act in chapter 15 of the Acts of the Apostle. God declared void the rule book written by us sinners.

I don’t want to be in danger of missing God by searching the wonders of His Word to compile a rule book that misses the wonder of Revealer God and the Son He has made known.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells – A GodReflection on It’s not Rule books, It’s Jesus.

Jesus Designed Church

GodReflection: It’s Jesus Friday

garyguarujaJesus’ mission on earth was multifaceted. He came to show the heart of God. He came to be the sacrifice that atones for the sin caused by Adam thus creating a pathway back to God. He came to exit the tomb to demonstrate his power over death. In short, he came to offer eternal life.

He did all of that and more.

I am slow to catch on.

It’s starting to dawn upon me that Jesus came to design church.

For three years, he taught people how to live in community under the rule of God. By sermon, example, miracles, questions, aha moments, and his walk among the crowds he taught people how to be church.

He introduces the God of extraordinary grace through parables. His stories introduce the God who throws a party each time one of us lost creatures return to Father Creator.

churchdesign1The design is for his church to live in the same manner as the Father. We are to gush grace onto all humankind.

He spoke of grace demonstrated through love, forgiveness, faith, trust, prayer, relationship, hope, and eternity.

He told the parable of the vine to teach the church’s connection to him and his relationship to the father. His parable about the good shepherd taught his care for the church.

His miracles of healing and his love for the poor were living demonstrations of the heart of God. The church is to display the same heart.

He taught that his church should imitate children’s loving innocence and trust in its walk with God.

He taught that his church was to live in peace and use the utmost gentleness in reaching out to a fellow Christ follower who offends.

churchdesign2Jesus wants his church to be at peace. So much so that he reminds me to refrain from worship until I make an offence right with a disciple I may have hurt or offended.

As Jesus forgiveness is without limits toward me, so should my forgiveness be without limits toward others.

His church is the fellowship of the pure in heart.

The Acts of the Apostles and the New Testament letters add rich texture to living as the body of Christ. However, I should never again divorce Jesus of the Gospels from the holy architecture of church design.

churchdesign3Acts and the Letters supplement but they do not design.

I must remember—it’s Jesus.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells – A GodReflection on Jesus Designed Church.


2nd Place Jesus

GodReflection: It’s Jesus Friday

garyguarujaIt is easy to overlook Jesus.

Well, we aren’t exactly against him, it’s just that we humans work extremely hard to keep him out of first place.

Some simply don’t have room for Jesus within their lifestyle or belief system. Yet there is something else that bothers me.

The ease with which we believers allow ourselves to place the primary focus upon our church tribe. Thus, we leave Jesus in 2nd place.

Let me explain.

There have been “aha moments” in my life when a holy insight appears. Often these come in a one-sentence form like the leper I heard pray, “God take care of us who don’t know how to read.”

On another occasion, I sat at the bedside of a friend who radiated Jesus. There was a time when he was a household word in homes of my church tribe. This godly old preacher now in his late 80’s, (though sitting on the side of his bed) was dying.firstplace11

He spoke in prayerful confession with moist eyes and a quivering voice, I’ve preached for over a half century. My greatest regret is that for the first 20 years I failed to preach Jesus.”

His words described far too many years of my life.

Here is what I thank.

Jesus is perfect. He is sinless. His church is perfect. When I pledged my allegiance to him his grace turned its constant flow over my sin-filled life. That makes me a member of his perfect body and an eternal recipient of his grace.

That is the very message that exalts Jesus to center stage.

firstplace6Rather than spend energy to collect victory points so that I can prove my tribe is better than your tribe, shouldn’t I instead spend time and effort to keep the stage lights focused on Jesus?

I hope I write in a spirit of confession rather than a spirit of judgment.  I am thankful that God’s grace is rich and deep beyond comprehension.

It is so abundant that He used for His good many of those times when I forgot—it’s Jesus.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells – A GodReflection on 2nd Place Jesus





I’ve Learned a Different Way to Read My Bible

GodReflection: It’s Jesus Friday

garyguarujaI’ve spent a lifetime in and around Scripture. There were far too many times of thoughtless perusal. I used it at times as mere preparation to put together an assignment for the classroom or the pulpit.

As I reflect backwards over the years, although sincere in my presentation, there were more outings than I would like to admit when I taught from past conclusions rather than from deep mining.

From childhood through the sunset years of my present life the truth and inspiration of Holy Scripture only grows stronger. I believe the Bible to be true and Inspired by Creator God.

bible2My Bible It is not only inspired—it is God-breathed. It pulsates with God’s Spirit. There are times I read Scripture and find myself limited too little more than following the story.

On other occasions, I feel its breath.

The exact help I need jumps off the page. It’s as if God knows what’s going on in my life and sets holy insights exactly where I need to find divine assistance.

I like the idea of a breathing pulsating Bible.

Like Paul’s young protégé Timothy, the Holy Scriptures has paralleled my life since infancy.

The Holy Scriptures are able to make you (me) wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.


bible1All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

It is from this foundation that I will attempt to place in words my partial understanding of how Scripture functions as it declare; it’s Jesus.

The entirety of the Biblical message relates to the core purpose of declaring Jesus the Savior of the world.

What does that mean for how I read my Bible?

I read my Bible cover to cover to see the scope of God’s complete story. I find that everything from Genesis up to the Gospel of Matthew points to Jesus as the main focal point of the Scriptures.

The Bible is about Jesus.

The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) tell the story of Jesus life on earth.  They declare Jesus as Truth. The Gospels teach me if I can see Jesus, I will see God.

bible9From Jesus I learn the nature of God’s heart and the depth of His love for His creation.

I identify God’s value system when I watch and listen to Jesus. I see God’s attributes through Jesus.

In Jesus is the very heart of all that God is up to in this world and the next. Through Jesus, I learn that following God is an issue of the heart rather than creating laws to keep.

From the Acts of the Apostle through Jesus’ Revelation to the Apostle John I see infant members of the body of Christ attempting to live out their trust in Jesus and their commitment to him as their Savior.

One quick observation:

Most of my life I’ve read the Bible in segments without the realization it is one story that moves toward Jesus.

bible16Too often, I read the story backwards.

Through my church tribe, I’ve camped within the Act of the Apostles and the Letters as I attempted to make church visible on earth.

bible17Out of habit, I strained Jesus and His church through the New Testament Letters. Instead, it seems I should strain the New Testament Letters and the New Testament church through Jesus of the Gospels.

Working from the Letters backward to Jesus it is far too easy to build do’s and don’ts from fragments of Scripture and draw speculative conclusions that don’t live up to the heart of Jesus as presented in the Gospels.

I will do a better job at reflecting Jesus in my world when I make the effort to filter life, worship, traditions, and service through Jesus example and teachings. It’s Jesus.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells – A GodReflection on Jesus the Heart of Scripture.





December Sabbatical GodReflection


garyguarujaI found this definition of sabbatical:

“a period of paid leave granted to a college teacher for study or travel, traditionally every seventh year.” 

I do not receive pay to blog.

sabbatical1I am no longer a college teacher.

I haven’t yet spent seven years on my blog site.

Neither study nor travel is my objective over the next 30 days.

However, I’ve granted myself a Sabbatical that fits none of its definition. 

I am taking a December Sabbatical for the noble purpose of taking a break.

I will resume my GodReflection blog on January 7 the birthday of my favorite older sister. (I also have a favorite younger sister.)

Tentatively, I will begin 2015 on a three day per week schedule.

Mondays, I want to reflect on times past, present, and future, when God Breaks In.

On Wednesdays, my intent is to reflect further on the Power Word Series. I remain intrigued at the power behind a God driven vocabulary. Followers of the Holy guide their lives by a dictionary of the Holy.

The focus of Fridays will be Its Jesus. Since Jesus walked the earth to show us the heart and face of God, I wonder why he is not the first place we look for our clues on how to live and worship rather than to the rules and traditions set by past and current generations. Some of those rules we even take erroneously from Scripture.sabbatical2

May God make your own holidays rich in Him.

My plan is to begin to think once again on January 7. Until then I will try not to ponder while on my self-defined and self-assigned sabbatical.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells – December Sabbatical GodReflection




It’s Jesus

GodReflection: Power Words

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; – Psalms 95:6

garyguarujaI grew up with Acts and the Letters. They were the core of my Bible. My task was to get them right.

The goal of my people was to get church right. The interest in getting Jesus right—although given a holy shout from time to time—seemed to me to be a back burner topic.

Truth is it was wrong thinking to see Acts and the Letters as the heart of Scripture.

The main character and the principal subject of the entire Bible is Jesus. Nothing in Scripture is of greater importance. My goal should have been to get Jesus right.

The Bible begins with the introduction of Jesus as a participant with God in creation. The 39 books of Old Testament Scripture build toward the introduction and mission of Jesus the Son of God.

jesus11The New Testament opens with the Gospels—the very heart and core of Scripture. The Gospels are no less than the Gospel. They tell the story of Jesus. They bring good news.

The Gospels introduce Jesus as the gift of God to humankind. To know Jesus is to know God.

To know the teachings of Jesus is to know the will of God.

To follow Jesus’ life is to follow God’s actions as He restores fallen humanity to its previous perfect state.

Jesus is the answer to sin that broke the heart of God throughout the Old Testament.

Jesus’ birth, life, teachings, claims, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension place him at the heart of Scripture.

Through those generous acts of God, He gave His Son to usher restorative grace into the world. To know Jesus is to return to the likeness of God.

By the power that flows from the cross through Jesus my daily walk stands spotless before the eyes of God.

God’s great acts justify trust in Jesus to guide my walk. Jesus’ great obedience calls me to 24/7 worship.

jesus5Just as Old Testament Scripture provides one bookend to the Gospels that introduce Jesus; the Acts of the Apostles, the 21 letters, and the Revelation of Jesus to John supply the other.

Jesus stands between the Law and the Letters. The Old Testament and the Law point to Jesus on the cross while Acts and the Letters point to Jesus in the churches.

Here is what I think.

My take away from Genesis to the Book of Revelation is Jesus.

If I get Jesus right I will get life right. If I get Jesus right I will get church on earth right. If I get Jesus right I will get relationships right. If I get Jesus right I will get eternity right.

Common, everyday people, with all of their wounds and defects lived in the Letters in an attempt to let Jesus live in them. Like the real people who were the subjects of the letters, I will not get Jesus completely right. However, he with his perfection lives in me.

jesus8The best news for one like me who experiences my share of blunders in the process of becoming like Jesus is the fact I do it all under the canopy of his grace.

As God peers through the cover of grace to examine my walk—what He sees is Jesus and the shelter of his shadow that reflects perfection in this imperfect me.

There can be no greater power word to provoke around the clock worship than Jesus.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells – A GodReflection on Jesus