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Archive for April, 2012

Living Resurrected

Easter has come and gone.  Or has it?  The Christian calendar now actually moves into the season of Easter.  For the next 50 days (leading up to Pentecost), we will be in the Easter season.

I must confess, I was not raised to pay an overwhelming amount of attention to the Christian calendar so when I talk as if I know of which I speak – I really am just learning – part of my journey.  At any rate, I don’t suppose I have ever really given much thought to the idea of a season of Easter.  But as I have thought about the importance of Easter – the day – I have begun to realize that there is so much more going on here than just a single day.

Easter Sunday is the day we celebrate the miraculous resurrection.  Part of that celebration is the realization of what it means for you and for me.  As believers, we live in and through this resurrection.  We no longer have to fear death and be, as Hebrews 2 says, slaves to that fear.  We begin to understand that Easter is not a day but a way of living.

This Sunday, we will start a new sermon series entitled Living Resurrected.  I ask that you pray for our 1st B family as God teaches us what it means to live resurrected lives.

I am also asking  for your input (which just might make it into the sermon).  What does the idea – living resurrected – mean to you.  Comment here are leave me a message on Facebook, Twitter or email.

Be blessed today.

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Today is Friday of Holy Week – Good Friday.  This is the day we remember the cross.  It began with a mock trial that ended with an angry mob yelling, “Crucify.”  It then moved to beating and humiliation and then ultimately to the cross where Jesus was brutally murdered.  All of this for my sin and for yours.

Walk carefully through this day.  Think about the sacrifice.  Follow Jesus up the Via De La Rosa to the hill of the skull.  Listen as the hammer bounces off the spikes.  Watch as Jesus is hoisted up into the air and left there to die.

This is what he endured for you and for me.

Stand at the foot of that cross today and let the sights and sounds wash over you.  Don’t turn away – face the reality.

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Today is Thursday – Holy Thursday.  We have walked with Jesus this week as he has moved closer and closer to the cross.  This morning we turn our thoughts toward tonight.  Jesus instructed his disciples to prepare for the Passover.  I can imagine that they hurried around purchasing the items for the meal and getting the room ready.  They were excited about celebrating this time together.

As they gathered that night, Jesus took the opportunity to spend his last few hours with them trying to pour into them as much as possible.  He had taught them that the last will be first and that the true way to greatness in God’s eyes is through serving others.  But tonight we will remember one of Jesus’ most vivid illustrations of service.

He took off his outer garments and wrapped a towel around his waist.  He put water in a basin and then he went one by one to his disciples and washed their feet.  This was one of the most lowly acts known to their culture.  The disciples were shocked.

Have you ever had someone show you this type of kindness?  How did it make you feel?  Uncomfortable?

That is what the disciples felt.  Here was their teacher – their master – doing what they would never think to do.  Foot washing was the lowliest servant’s task.  But that was what Jesus was doing.  Peter even tried to stop Jesus.

But Jesus persisted in order to make a point.  If the disciples were to follow him – really follow him – they would have to learn to put others first.  They would have to come to the realization that being a true follower  means serving.

I pray that as we move through this day and rememberer the events of Maundy Thursday, that we will be reminded of who we are called to be and what we are expected to do – the first will be last and the last will be first.

So Holy Week continues.  Keep walking.

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It is Wednesday of Holy Week as we remember that fateful week in Jesus’ life.  The Feast of Unleavened Bread would start tomorrow and the excitement was building in and around the city.  The disciples were beginning to think about planning the supper – thinking about a place to eat together and all the preparations that would need to be made to make sure the Passover Meal was just right.

But one of the disciples was distracted by other thoughts.  At some point, Judas met with the religious leaders in Jerusalem and agreed to look for an opportunity to turn Jesus over to them.  His take in the plan?  30 pieces of silver.

Was he evil or was this part of his plan to force Jesus’ hand to step up and lead a revolt?  Any answer to that question is speculation but what we do know is that the trial and crucifixion were direct results of his betrayal and afterwards, he felt guilty enough to end his own life.

So in the midst of the celebration and festive environment, one of the disciples was at work plotting against Jesus.  For whatever reason, Judas had come to a place of realization that who he expected Jesus to be and who Jesus truly is were not the same.

It is easy, 2000 years after the fact, to condemn Judas and look on him with hatred.  But before we pick up the first stone to throw his way, ask yourself a question, “Am I any different?

Has your perception of God ever conflicted with the reality of God?  Let me ask it another way.  Have you ever made up your mind that God wanted something for you?  Maybe a job.  You prayed and read scripture and truly sought God’s guidance and felt that God must want you to have this particular job.  It was going to be great – you were made for this job and God wanted you to have it.  But then, for some unforeseen reason, you didn’t get the job.  Now what?  Did God mess up?  Did God drop the ball?

You probably felt betrayed or mislead.  For a time you might have even felt angry at God.  You might have even turned from God for a time with an attitude of “I’ll show you!”

But the reality of that situation is that God has a bigger plan.  God is still God and the plan is for us to grow into the people were created to be – through good experiences and bad.

So before we demonize Judas too badly, maybe we need to look at our own betrayal.

Jesus is about to be betrayed by one of the ones closest to him.  Will you walk the rest of the way to the cross with him or will you turn and run away and come back around on Sunday?

Stay close – Holy Week is about to get dark!

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As we walk together through Holy Week, we are at Tuesday.  Mark records that two days before the Passover, Jesus was in the house of Simon the Leper having a meal with his followers.  While there, a woman came and brought a container of extremely expensive perfume and used it all to anoint Jesus’ head.

This sparked some debate among the group because of the extravagant nature of the act.  This perfume, we are told, was worth a year’s wages.  In today’s terms, according to the national average income for 2011 in the US, that would have equated to roughly $43,000.

For one, I don’t have $43,000 to spend on perfume but even if I did, I am not sure I would have been willing to sacrifice it all to put it on Jesus’ head as an act of submission, honor and worship.  But that is what this lady did.

Those present rebuked her for “wasting” so much money when that money could have been put to much better use.  But Jesus stopped them and explained that she was following her heart and not holding anything back, but rather, was willing to serve him and honor him in what would be a preparation for his burial.

As I think about this event, I have to ask myself: how do I honor Jesus?  Am I willing to worship him and serve him extravagantly?  Or am I only willing to worship and serve him with my left overs?

What about you?

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Yesterday was Palm Sunday.  A day we remember as the day Jesus entered Jerusalem with his face set toward the cross.  The people who lined the streets on that Sunday had no idea of what was coming.  In fact, they were welcoming a king – the savior of the world who would restore Israel to its rightful place and banish Rome forever.

They cheered and sang praises.  They laid their coats down in the road as a sign of submission and praise.  It was a day electric with excitement and anticipation.

BUT . . .

Those same people, just a few days from then would be the same people yelling “Crucify him!”

This week we will be thinking about what Jesus endured that last week of his life here on earth.  Yes, Easter is coming.  The day of the resurrection is coming but between now and then we have to pass through some of the ugliest territory ever known to mankind.  We have to pass an open doorway and overhear plots to kill Jesus.  We have to look into the face of Judas as he decides to betray his friend and master.

We have to stand in the crowd as Jesus is tried and hear the screams of the people as they call for his execution.  Then we will witness that horrific event on Friday, when Jesus was beaten and murdered.

Yes, Sunday is coming, but we must not rush past this week.  True, it is not for the faint of heart, but it is necessary for us to linger here just a bit – pausing to remember.  Stopping long enough to feel the gratitude we must feel for what Jesus willingly did for each of us!

Stay with me!

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