I WONDER about Zacchaeus…

Did Zacchaeus get saved that day?

Come on, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Was that tree climbing day his original salvation story? Or had he once believed but was back-slidden? Was this story the day that Zacchaeus rededicated his life to the Lord?

Don’t get too worked up here. Keep going with me –

We believe Zacchaeus was a Jew. Smith’s Bible Dictionary (link here) told me that we can infer that from his name and the fact that Jesus calls him “a son of Abraham.”

We know the crowd thought him “a sinner.”

We read that Jesus himself said, “Today salvation has come to this house.”

On March 10, 1999, I was doing a group study on The Baptist Faith and Message and wrote in a journal, “I find it ironic that this text (Luke 19:10) is used in a chapter about election.” I remember that I found it also ironic way back then that election was even a topic or doctrine listed in The Baptist Faith and Message. I was pretty sure that no one else in my class knew about election. I was prideful. I’d spent three years of college at a Reformed Baptist church and I knew all about it.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10

Ah, election. Jesus work completed.

Or is it free will?

The argument certainly could go that Zacchaeus made a choice for Jesus. Let’s face it – he climbed a tree.

I WONDER how our doctrine affects our teaching – even our teaching to children – especially our teaching to children.

And I say that I wonder HOW because I know that it surely does.

I struggle with it. I do not want to lead anyone astray.

Oh, no. I no longer really struggle with the antinomy (look it up, Grandma Portia taught it to me) of election and free will. It’s both somehow to me. Or neither. His ways and thoughts higher than ours and all that. And please stick with me, I realize that I’ve likely offended some by overly simplifying my references to each.

What I want to tell you is to take a deep breath and rest a bit. I asked a bible teacher once how she solved the dilemma of teaching a story when so many varied interpretations of it existed. (The story that brought this question was CREATION.) Her answer was this –

I simply teach the text.

Thank you, Dr. Anita Cooper. Thank you. The texts are beautiful. So often they overshadow the debates of the day. They reach out and grab us, with power and with grace.

I had one of those altar call experiences, so typical of Baptists, when I was young. Real young. Our son may or may not. He was baptized as an infant. I pray that he does have similar and several milestone moments that capture both his heart and his mind and become ebenezers for him.

The texts are rich. They stand firm through my risings and fallings of understandings and doctrinal leanings. I clung to election when I wrote in that journal in 1999. I don’t now. In the years between I’ve relished liturgy and sacrament that I never knew then. I’ve found a common denominator.


If Jesus himself IS salvation, then might the text not simply say, “Today JESUS has come to this house.”

And whether or not election seems all true, partly true, or not true at all to me today – this 3.10.99 journal reflection still makes me smile. I’ve written more of my family and my Baptist salvation experience. The Call of God was written during the same phase of my life. In the last decade, I’ve researched ages and stages of learning and pondered on how cognitive development compares with typical spiritual milestones in evangelical families. No matter our ages or stages, though –


I hope that he has come to your house. I hope that he is there now. I hope that you have and are and will continue to hear him call your name.

I would be honored and delighted to hear your story or stories of salvation coming to your house. The comments below are available …

I WONDER about her

I wonder if she slept late that morning, like I often do, and if she was rushed to get it ready, that bread she made from scratch each day …

I wonder if he always went to work with his dad or if he asked especially …

“Mom, can I go? Please?”

And I wonder if she was happy to get the reprieve from a young one under foot or if she worried how he would make out with the gruff, dirty men all day.

I wonder if her husband shuffled around in the early light, wishing life was different somehow.

We’re going farther today. Looking for a fresh spot. You ready to find that desolate place that’ll treat us right? What do ya say, son? Gonna pull in a big haul this time. Gonna need you to be strong.

I wonder if those fish were precious commodities, taken from the batch they could have sold. Or if they were Junior’s favorite kind. Or if Junior was a picky eater.

“Hey, where’s my goodbye kiss,” I bet she hollered, as they ran out the door. And after it, I wonder if she gave the final instructions.

You share. You hear? I put in some extra.

All this I wonder. And I’m not exactly sure. But the rest of it, well, the rest of it I’m pretty confident of.

I’m pretty sure she didn’t have to ask, “How was your day?” Or, “What happened, anything good?” I’m pretty sure that she didn’t hear the words “nothing” or “boring.” Oh, no. None of that ordinary expected.

What I’m thinking is that he could hardly carry it inside – that big basket of lunch leftovers.

And I’m thinking that the first thing she heard was something about like this


I’m also thinking that she didn’t mind so much packing lunches for awhile and that he never forgot to share.

Jesus and the NICE KIDS

So a few weeks ago I had this thank you party and I received this pile of thank you cards. cardsIt was pretty obvious which cards had been made before hand and which cards had been done that morning as a Sunday School assignment. two There was also an entire group of cards that contained the exact same handwriting. I love preschoolers – and their teachers!

But it was this card that got me to thinking. nice kids

Thank you for being nice to all the nice kids.

Had I? Had I been nice to the nice kids? Had I been nice to all the nice kids? Had I only been nice to the nice kids? Was this author a nice kid? Or not? ‘Cause let’s face it, this card can be taken a multitude of ways.

Wow. I’m thinking of this card today when I’m thinking over the story of Jesus and the Children.

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them. Mark 10:13

Do you think that they were just bringing nice children?

Or, do you think that maybe some of them were bringing strong-willed children? Angry children? Sad children? Sick, snotty nosed children? Skinned knees, bleeding children?

Do you think that they were all bringing children small enough to be carried or do you think that some of them were pulling a few along? Do you think that all the children were coming joyfully? Or, do you think that just maybe some of those children – like the ones in the infamous Santa photos that you love – were being a bit uncooperative?

Heck, do you think Jesus was even seated like Santa usually is?

Our visions of these well known beloved Bible stories are often corrupted by common images.

You know the one I’m talking about here. I’m thinking of the one where clean shaven, very white Jesus is seated on a stump – the only stump sticking up from the ground in that field – and children are on his lap and by his side – all smiling, well dressed white children.

Say it wasn’t so.

No, it wasn’t so.

And I think in more ways than one. Because I think that some of the children brought to Jesus were not just browner and dirtier than typically pictured, I think that some of the children were of the not “nice kid” kind.

It does, you know, say that those bringing them were rebuked.

But there are a few things that we can be sure of when we read the account.

  • Someone thought that each one of those children would benefit from a touch from Jesus.
  • And Jesus did not disappoint.

I wonder if the blessing was immediately obvious or if it was only evident inside or over time?

I must confess to sometimes having crossed myself at the communion rail because I, too, wanted the blessing of a touched head and audible voice.

As you share this story of Jesus and the Children this week, I wonder if these things might be true for you –

  • Do you believe that a touch from Jesus blesses?
  • Are you brave enough to bring both the nice and the not nice children to him?