Monday, April 30, 2012

hero's disciple part 5:: batman 2.0


I did not know about this part of the story until I started researching for these blogs-

at some point after Dick Grayson became Nightwing, Batman became seriously injured and unable to continue in his role as Gotham’s Knight. and after much consideration, Dick Grayson hung up his Nightwing costume and returned to Gotham in the costume and the role of Batman. He temporarily stood in the shoes of his mentor- coming full circle from orphaned ward to the hero himself. Later in the story, Batman apparently died and Dick Grayson again took the form of Batman more permanently. He became a new Batman. He became his teacher’s successor. Even though he was Dick Grayson, he carried on the work of Batman after Batman was gone; in the spirit of the original hero. 

the little boy who lost his parents in a circus accident finally became just like the teacher that he idolized so much. There was no one better to fill batman’s boots than his closest disciple.


After Jesus ascended into heaven, the Bible tells us that on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came and filled the disciples and Peter himself stood in front of a crowd of thousands and began to preach- and thousands put their faith in Jesus and were baptized on that day. The Spirit of God entered into Peter and did His work through him.

Peter came full circle too- he went from a fisherman who wanted nothing more to following a rabbi- to standing in His rabbi’s shoes and doing the very things that He would have done: leading the church, preaching to thousands, and telling everyone about the good news of Jesus.

Peter imitated Jesus in other ways too. The church tradition tells us that he took on his own disciple, John Mark, and it was Peter’s stories to John Mark that make up the Gospel according to Mark. Our church tradition also tells us that Peter followed Jesus all the way to his death- being martyred for his faith on a cross. The church historian tells us that Peter decided that he was unfit to die like his Master should die, and asked that his cross be placed upside down- and the Roman centurions honored his request.


Dick Grayson succeeded Batman and stepped into his shoes. Peter followed in Jesus’ footsteps and carried on His work after his Master had ascended into heaven. and Jesus tells us that we will continue to do the work that He began through the power of His Spirit. in Acts 1:8 Jesus tells us, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus tells us that we will be His ambassadors- we will work for Him. We will be His witness in our own neighborhood- and in the areas beyond that, and all over the world. Jesus told us before He ascended in John 14:12, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

Jesus tells us that we will carry on His work: through faith, and through the power of the spirit.

Just like Dick Grayson took on the role of Batman- we, the church, are the hands and feet of Jesus. We are His Body. He does His work through us.

So wherever you go this week, be the hands and feet of Jesus. Let Him work through you. Let Him use your words and your hands and your arms.

When you think about it, Dick Grayson’s life was completely changed by Batman’s. Bruce Wayne provided for him, rescued him, trained him and gave him a whole new purpose in life.

The same could be said for Peter- if it wasn’t for Jesus, no one would even know about Peter. But because he followed his Master, his life was completely changed. Jesus gave him a new name and a new purpose in life.

and the same can be said for us too. we’re nothing without Jesus. He rescued us, adopted us, loved us and gave all of us a new purpose and role in life. We owe Him everything. and it all begins with two words: follow me.

so we come full circle too- once disciples, now released to do the work of our Master.

The Master extends His hand and invites you and me: “carry on my work- be my representative and ambassador wherever you are and wherever you go.”
Jesus invites you and me: will you respond to His invitation?

God is love.

hero's disciple part 4:: nightwing


The story goes that when Robin grew older, he formed a new team of heroes- The Teen Titans. He retired and evolved from being Robin and took on a new persona: Nightwing. As nightwing, Dick Grayson took on a new costume, a new role and defended a new territory. Even though he was no longer working with Batman, he was still very similar. He had his own high-tech crime fighting suit. He worked at night just like his mentor. He flew over the cities and struck fear into his enemies just like his mentor. He had a utility belt and grappling-guns and bat-a-rangs just like his mentor. He develops rivalries with super-villains just like his mentor. His training was complete- he had become just like his mentor. He continued Batman’s crusade against crime in a new city, with a new role; and with all of the training of years spent under the training of his mentor.


Jesus invited Peter to carry on His work in building the Kingdom of God. at one point Jesus says to Peter in Matthew 16, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Jesus invited Peter to step into his Master’s shoes and one day lead the church. He gave Simon a new name: Peter- and a new identity: the Rock- and a new job: to lead the future church.

After Jesus went to the Cross and rose from the dead, Peter and Jesus had another meeting before Jesus ascended into heaven. Jesus said to Peter: “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

 “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

He invited Peter to continue to work that He started.


We are not that much different from Nightwing and Peter. Our Master has given us a new identity and a new name: Child of God. He gives us a new role: be an agent of My Kingdom- continue my work. Do what I do. He tells us all in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Our Master tells us to do the things He did. He loved people- and we are to go and love people. He served others, and we are to go and serve others. He made disciples of Jesus, and we are to go and make disciples of Jesus. He taught people the very words of God, and our new role is to go everywhere and tell everyone the Good News of Jesus.

Our Master extends His hand and invites you and me: “continue my work. do as I do. be like Me.”

will you respond to His invitation?
God is love.

hero's disciple part 3:: robin


as time went on, Robin became obsessed with becoming like batman. he soon becomes a miniature version of Batman. Batman has the Batmobile, Robin has the Robin-cycle. Batman has a utility belt, and robin has one too. Batman wears a cape and a mask, so does Robin. Batman uses bat-a-rangs and grappling-guns and Robin does too. Robin learns to fight like Batman, to listen like Batman, to move silently like batman and to think like batman. Robin never had to ask himself what Batman would do in a given situation, he knew. He had watched him, and spent time with him; he listened to him and ultimately learned to imitate him perfectly. They were the Dynamic Duo.


Peter followed his Master everywhere too. If Jesus went to a mountaintop, Peter went too. If Jesus went to Caesarea Philippi, Peter went too. If Jesus went to a Samaritan village, Peter went too. Just like Robin, Peter watched Jesus, and listened to Him, and followed him everywhere. He was obsessed with becoming Just like him and mimicking His every move. The Rabbis used to say, “cover yourself in the dust of your rabbi.” In other words, follow your Master so closely that the dust of His feet covers you.

There is a story of when Peter and the other disciples were in a boat in the middle of the sea, when Jesus came walking on the water to meet them. Matthew describes what happened in chapter 14 of his gospel:

“When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.”
Peter saw his Master on the water and he wanted to follow Him there. He wanted to walk where his Master walked. and so Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on water with Jesus.
the story continues: “Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Why did Peter doubt? and WHO did he doubt? Did he doubt Jesus? or himself and his ability to walk where Jesus walked?

Jesus scolded him as if to say, “why did you think that you couldn’t be like Me? I never doubted you- I knew that you could- because I believe in you more than you believe in yourself.”


As disciples of Jesus, we need to be like Robin and Peter- we need to follow our Master. We need to listen to Him and be with Him. He invites us to think like Him and to always ask, “what would Jesus do right now?” He invites us to imitate Him. The best way for us to do this is to immerse ourselves in the accounts about him in Matthew, Mark, Luke and john. As we read those, we read with the eyes of an apprentice, watching the Master as He works and working to imitate Him.

There is a story at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, where Jesus was having His last supper with His disciples. There was no foot washer, and all of the men would be sitting around a low-lying table, with feet everywhere. The foot washer was the job for the lowest person on the totem pole. No one volunteered for the job- so the Master took off His outer garment, took a bucket of water and a towel, and began to wash everyone’s feet.

When He was done, He said, “When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

Jesus tells us, “if you want to imitate Me, then be a servant. Give yourself for others. Lower yourself and put others first.”

The Apostle Paul said it this way: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
 did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
 taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.’

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” –ephesians 5:1

The Master extends his hand and invites you and me to imitate Him- to serve and love like He serves and loves. He invites us to be His apprentice and to imitate Him. He invites you to follow Him so closely that you are covered in the dust from His sandals.

He invites you and me: “come and be my disciple- my Robin. Together, we will be a Dynamic Duo!”

Will you respond to His invitation?

God is love.

hero's disciple part 2:: the boy wonder


the story goes that Dick Grayson was filled with rage at that mobster who was responsible for his parents’ death. Bruce recognized that same anger in him as he also lost his parents at the hands of a violent criminal. Bruce saw that he could channel Dick’s rage to crime fighting and he began to train Dick to become his side-kick- The Boy Wonder. The two heroes brought the mobster to justice; and from that point on, they were inseparable. Batman and Robin. Wherever Batman was, Robin was there too. The Batmobile now had two seats. As Robin trained with Batman, he grew in skill, in courage, and in strength. The training was tough, but if he was going to be like Batman- it was going to be a full time job- it was going to have to take all of his energy and effort. To be like Batman it meant total commitment- to eat, sleep and breathe crime-fighting. Robin had declared an oath in the Batcave- and he was keeping it.


Peter learned from Jesus too- but not in a classroom, but by following Him. Peter left everything to follow Jesus. He left his fishing boat and his nets- he dropped everything to follow Jesus. Jesus required total commitment too. In Luke 9, Jesus said, “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.”
Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Jesus wanted total commitment from His disciples. This wasn’t a hobby or a discipleship class- this was a whole new life.

In Mark 8:34, Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.”


Jesus calls us to be His disciple- and not just to read a chapter about Him a day, or to listen to a speech about Him on Sunday morning, but to follow him and to be like Him. For him, this isn’t some hobby or fad that we get into when we are teenagers- this is a whole new life. and Jesus isn’t looking for 10 minutes a day or an hour on Sunday- He’s looking for all of us; total commitment. in Romans 12, Paul says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” In view of God’s mercy, give Him everything you’ve got. All day- all night, every day. Just like Robin, and just like Peter, it won’t always be easy- but as we follow him, we will find ourselves growing closer and closer with our hero- and we will discover that following Him is transforming us to be mirror images of Him.

If Robin were a real life person, He could look back on his life and see that it was completely marked and transformed by his relationship with Batman. Peter was completely changed by his relationship with Jesus. Every aspect of his life and his entire future and legacy was marked by it. There tough days, but it was worth it to them, and it is worth it to us.

The Master extends His hand and invites us to be His sidekick- His apprentice. Will you respond?

God is love.

hero's disciple part 1:: dick grayson


the story goes that the hero who would be known as Robin, was once Dick Grayson- a young acrobat in a travelling circus, and a member of the acrobat team, The Flying Graysons. He and his parents were all members of the Flying Graysons. One night, Dick overheard a mobster telling the owner of the circus that he will protect the circus if he pays him money- and the owner refused. The mobster had the the trapeze weakened, and Dick Grayson’s parents fell to their deaths. Dick knew it was the mobster’s fault and went to tell the police- but Batman stopped him and told him that the police were working for the mobster. He told him that if he told the police, that the mobsters would attack him too. So Batman took Dick Grayson to the Batcave- and made Dick Grayson take an oath- a promise not to tell his true identity, Bruce Wayne. Bruce then became Dick’s legal guardian, and dick became Bruce Wayne’s legal ward. They entered into a relationship that was more than mentor to student, it was more like father to son.


Peter the apostle was a fisherman in an area called the Galilee in Israel- he was a student of the Bible, but was never good enough to be a bible teacher. Only the best of the best Bible students could be a Bible teacher and eventually the student of a Rabbi. In order to be a student of a Rabbi, or a disciple, a Rabbi had to choose you and call you. But they would only call the best of the best- the ones they belieived in- the ones they belived could be just like them. All of the boys longed to hear those words from a Rabbi: “come follow me.” Sadly, Peter never heard them, so he took a job in the family business as a fisherman. the story goes that one day when Peter and his friends were fishing, they saw the Rabbi Jesus come up to them. it says, “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.”

our story isn’t much different from Dick Grayson’s or Peter’s. When Batman invited Dick Grayson into his home, he wasn’t just inviting him to join his superhero class; he was inviting him to join his family. He invited him to be his son. There was something in Dick Grayson that Batman saw that he believed in. He believed that Dick Grayson could become like him; a hero. So he invited him to live with him, to be with him all the time, to watch his every move and to become like him. its like Batman made him a promise: come live with me and I will make you a hero.

Jesus invited Peter to be his disciple. That’s more than being just a follower; he invited him to follow Him. Jesus invited Peter to live with Him and to be with Him at all times. He invited him to watch Him and to become just like Him. its like Jesus made Peter a promise: come live with me and I will make you a fisher of men- you will catch men and women and deliver them into the Kingdom of God.

Our story is like theirs- Jesus found us. He saw something in you and in me that He believed in. He sees something in you that you don’t see in yourself- He sees what you will become. and Jesus gives us an invitation: come and follow Me- and I will change you- I will make you more than you ever imagined that you could be.” Just like Robin or Peter, Jesus isn’t calling us to be just a student; He isn’t calling us just to learn about Him; He is calling us to be with Him. He is inviting us to live with Him all day- to follow Him, to watch Him, to listen to Him and to become like Him. As He says in Luke 6:40, “a student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”

Just like Dick Grayson, we were orphans- nobodies- but Jesus came and told us that He believes in us. He invited us to be His child and to walk where He walks. He invites us not to a religion, or to a way of life, but a relationship- the kind of relationship that a parent has with their child. He invites us into His household to be a part of his family forever-

The Master extends His hand and invites you to be His child- will you accept His invitation?
God is love.

Monday, April 23, 2012

my delights:: 4/12

here is a short list of things that I find delightful right now:

1. the word “delight”

first of all, the word “delight” is delightful to me right now. its such a happy word. it’s a pleasant word. I love to tell people that their kids were a delight to the volunteers and students at a recent event. I love to tell vendors that their service was a delight to me and to the ministry. I want to be a delight to others as I interact with them. I did a little word search in the bible, and it says that crowds were delighted to listen to Jesus. it says that God delighted in Jesus. my goal is to be a delight to the people I meet.

2. radio-controlled clocks

I know, it sounds weird, but I love clocks that are on time and keep their time. I have radio-controlled clocks everywhere- in the youth room, in the middle school game room, in my office, in every room of my house; even my watch is radio controlled! I love to look at different clocks and see them tick to the same second. if these were less expensive, I would have way-more.

p.s. on clocks- I recently got an analog clock for my bathroom, (a clock with hands) that is silent and doesn’t tick! I find it to be delightful.

3. hot showers

I have had sinus issues all of my life and a long hot shower with all of its steam gives me clear airways. Since I enjoy this so much, I have been maximizing my shower-time. Now I shave in the shower and get dressed in my little shower/ laundry room. if I could dry my hair in the shower I would. I do my best thinking in the shower, and now I have a little bath crayon so I can write down my ideas that I come up with!

this is a little theme park in Gilroy dedicated to plants and agriculture. it sounds a little geeky, but we absolutely love it. its got little roller coasters, lots of waterfalls and shade. we love to eat ice cream in the shade and walk its winding paths. its never crowded when we go. I’m delighted with the story of the park- how Michael Bonfante wanted to share his love with trees with the world, and how he rescued the circus trees of scott’s valley and brought them to display in Gilroy. last time we were there, we were the second in line to get in. before the park opens, they play the national anthem, which is delightful in itself. when we got through the gate, Jane ran to her first ride shouting “I love this place!” all the way there.

5. leonard sweet books

I recently finished all of leonard sweet’s books. he writes quite a few and fairly quickly. each page is full of wit, poetry and something profound to say about Christ and the church.

6. moleskine notepads

most people who know me have seen me whip out a note pad from my back pocket and scribble out a quick reminder to myself. I recently discovered moleskine notepads which are much more durable and more professional-looking. they also have a pocket in the back where I can hold my business cards. this keeps them cleaner and flatter than my wallet does. jane recently picked up a pink moleskine- because she is my dearly loved child who likes to copy her dad.

7. storage wars on A&E

we discovered this show recently and have been recording it. its about a group of buyers who buy “abandoned” storage lockers and then re-sell the treasures that they find. I hope to go to one of these auctions soon. my favorite guy on the show is Barry Weiss who seems like the coolest guy to hang out with-

8. glow-in-the-dark flashlights
you can find them in the dark- genius!

I’m sure I’ll think up lots more things that I’m delighted with and will have lots more posts to come.
“delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” –psalm 37:4

God is love.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

lectio divina:: ephesians 5

I’ve been studying and thinking through the book of Ephesians lately- and there are some interesting phrases in there that make me stop and think. one of them is in the beginning of Ephesians chapter 5: “be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children…”

the other day, a friend of mine called, who I haven’t talked to in awhile. He commented that I seem to have a lot of pictures of me and jane spending time together. I responded like I often do, “oh- she’s an only child- she is the apple of my eye- she is a joy and a delight to me…” and then I subconsciously added, “she is a dearly-loved child…”

jane happened to be on the playground while I was talking to my friend, and after we hung up, I kept thinking of that “dearly-loved-child; dearly-loved-children" as I watched jane skip around the playground- 

paul says that you and me- we are God’s dearly-loved-children.
I’m to Him, what Jane is to me.

You and I, we are the only-child to Him: the apple of His eye- His delight- His joy. a little spoiled, and free to be completely comfortable with Him; we can ask Him for anything, because we know that He loves us so much, that He will say yes. He can’t resist.

We are God’s dearly-loved-children. wow. that’s a thought that you could dwell on forever I suppose-

but then paul says, “be imitators of God as dearly loved children…” I started thinking of the ways that jane imitates Deanna and I. Sometimes I look at her and think, “someone shrunk Deanna!” because she sits and laughs, and talks just like her. jane loves to dress like me, she loves to read like me, and she loves to be doing the things that I am doing. she loves to watch the shows that I watch- sitting right next to me on the same couch. sometimes she imitates things about me that I wish she never even noticed. but she notices and she copies.

and paul seems to says to you and me, “God is your dad- who loves you, and spends time with you and showers you with gifts, so imitate Him! be like Him! love like He loves. be gracious and compassionate just like He is. be forgiving and humble and gentle just like He is with you. love what He loves; love who He loves. walk like He walks, talk like He talks, follow Him around in His footsteps. watch how He works and be just like Him! be a little version of your dad.”

after all, we are dearly loved children. isn’t that the way that all dearly loved children behave?

God is love.

Monday, April 2, 2012

all about relationships

there has been a man from church who has been very anxious about getting his friend’s daughter involved in the middle school ministry at church. he has been e-mailing me off and on over the last week, asking me how to get her involved with the ministry. I told him to bring her by on Sunday.

yesterday he came over to middle school ministry, and again was very anxious- he wanted to make sure that we were ready for this girl to come over. he wanted to know who would be looking after her and how he could come and get her if she wanted out. his anxiety began to rub off on me and I began to scramble together some volunteers to be ready to greet this girl and host her at our ministry. the man went back to the girl’s family and got her.

when she got over to middle school ministry, she looked nervous, but I was out front waiting for her, and I had 2 staff girls with me, ready to welcome her. I’ll call her Alice for this story. The man introduced me to Alice, and I introduced her to the 2 staff girls, and she looked like she wanted to be anywhere but there- and then I heard 2 words that changed everyone’s demeanor: “hey Alice!” it was a very outgoing girl from our ministry.

I turned around and looked at her and said, “do you know her?” she said, “oh yeah- she goes to my school.” then she went over to Alice and said, “hey! is this your first time?! come on in! let me introduce you to my friends!” and off they went.

the man was relieved. I was relieved. the staff girls were literally relieved from their duty of escorting a nervous girl, and of course, Alice was relieved. she had a great time and stayed all the way to the end of the service.

it reminded me again- its all about relationships with middle schoolers. at 678, we have all kinds of cool resources and amazing volunteers, but none of those things really mattered to Alice- the most important thing to her in that moment was a familiar face and a friend who knew her name and was willing to make her feel comfortable.

I sent both girls a note in the mail today- one to Alice, thanking her for checking us out and commending her for her bravery at trying something new; and the other to the outgoing girl who welcomed her, thanking her for the way she served our church and the Lord so well.

its not just about relationships with middle schoolers- its like that for all of us. people come to jesus through a friend. some people find jesus on their own, but most people are introduced to Him through a friend- and this Easter- that friend can be you.

God is love.