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Archive for March, 2016

One of my readings for today came from the Gospel of Mark.  A group of us are reading through this book together and today we focused on chapter 2.  About half-way through the chapter, Jesus made a significant statement about his identity and calling.

He said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  As I have reflected on this principle, I am reminded not only of Jesus’ work on earth to bring salvation through his sacrifice; but I am also reminded of my desperate need for what Jesus offers.

Isaiah 53:6 tells us, We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  The person I was created to be has been damaged by my own doing.  I have made choices in my life that led me farther and farther away from the God of creation.  Many times through out my life I have known the right thing to do but I chose something shinier or more appealing – we like shiny things don’t we.

I have gone astray, but thanks be to God – Jesus came to restore the sinner!  He came to heal the sick and redeem the wayward.

And for that, I am forever thankful and indebted!

Be blessed today!

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empty-tombYesterday was Resurrection Sunday.  We celebrated an empty tomb.  We praised God because Jesus is alive!  We reflected on the new life that is made available to us through Jesus giving up his and being raised three days later.  I pray you celebrated in grand fashion with your church family.  Around here, we pulled out all the stops and had an amazing time of worship.

Now, here we are the next day.  The schedules and pressures of everyday commitments are already pressing in.  How will the celebration of yesterday affect your today?

Was it just another day – albeit a great day – on the church calendar?  Was the celebration left at the church building?

Or will the truth of the resurrection change your today?  Will you live today with the hope of knowing that there is more, so much more, to this life than our daily grind?

Jesus defeated death to give you new life!

Live resurrected this day!

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As the path took Jesus back into the city on that Thursday, his disciples prepared a room where they could all gather to celebrate the passover meal together.  They had no idea how the evening would unfold.

Basin towel and sandalsJesus used this time as yet another teaching moment.  He knew what was coming and he wanted his followers to be ready.  He explained that the life of a follower is a life of humble service.  There is no place for wanting to be first in God’s Kingdom.  He demonstrated this important lesson by going to each disciple and washing his feet.  The point he was making was that even he came to serve and not be served.  As the path led out of that room, into a garden and then on into a mock trial and crucifixion, the lesson became even more clear.  He came to serve all of humanity with the ultimate sacrifice.

As we pass through this day, stay close to Jesus.  Listen to the words he offered his disciples.  Watch as he passed the cup and bread.  Pay close attention to the symbolism of his act of service.

Stay close!

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This Holy Week is about grace and faith.

Grace is not grace if you deserve it.  Grace is not grace if there is something you can do to earn it.  Grace  is that which God does for us because we cannot do for ourselves.  We have things in our lives there is no way we could ever repair.  There is no way we could ever be strong enough, competent enough or righteous enough to deserve a relationship with the Holy God.  So Jesus came to make a way.  God’s instrument of grace sacrificed himself for us because we could never deserve Gocross-prayingd’s grace on our own.

Faith is believing without seeing.  Knowing ourselves as we do, we might be tempted to think, “There is no way God could ever love me.”  But scripture reminds us that God loves us so much that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  We simply have to believe.

So this Holiest of weeks is about grace and faith.  It is a vivid picture of how God offers his grace even when we do not – and cannot ever – deserve it.  We are simply asked to trust and believe.

Make space to experience that grace this week.  Make space to rest in that faith.

Be blessed!

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Holy-Week 2We now begin one of the most – if not THE most – special weeks of the year.  Holy Week shows us God’s plan spelled out.  We see the culmination of the Gospel in all its glory and mystery funneled into 7 days.  The full human-ness of Jesus is put on a donkey, hailed in the streets as the King and then nailed to a cross.

But then, in the same week we see the fullness of God displayed in the resurrection and an empty tomb.  Colossians 1:19-20 tells us Jesus was not only human but is also fully God –

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

It was a dark week with a light at the end of the tunnel.  But as we enter into this most Holy of weeks, don’t focus on the light with no attention to the dark – don’t rush past the cross on the way to the empty tomb.  Stop at the foot of the cross and observe the sacrifice – observe the love – observe the perseverance – observe the grace.

Make space to reflect this week.

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I’m not even sure where I ran across this quote from Philip Yancey but it gave me such pause that I typed it up, printed it out and now it has joined so many others that decorate my desk.  The quote is this:  “Grace, like water, flows to the lowest part.”

Many may not know this about me but a lifetime ago, when I was a seminary student in Fort Worth, I worked in the roofing industry.  I had put roofs on homes through college to help support myself and so when I applied t
o the seminary, I found a job that I knew.  One of the most basic principles of roofing is understanding that water runs down hill.  If there is any possible way for water to answer the calWater flowl of gravity, it will.  If there is the slightest vulnerability in a roof, water will capitalize on it.

Water naturally flows down filling any and all voids.

When I consider Yancey’s quote, this is the mental picture I get – water filling all available voids.

God’s grace is like that.  When we seek God first, God offers that grace and it flows in filling all available voids.  The hurts, the mistakes, the emptiness – filled and covered!

What a sense of relief to know that God’s grace flows to the lowest part of us – filling us from the bottom up.

Create space today to allow God’s grace to fill it!

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Monday night we decided to cook fajitas.  We got everything ready and then began the process.  A few months ago, my brother gave me a huge outdoor cooking wok made from a plow disk – it works great!  So I got it set up on the burner on the patio and started the fire.  I guess I didn’t realize how hot the wok had become when I put the oil in to start sautéing the vegetables.

Hot oil started popping and splattering everywhere.  Here is the key to the story – I was wearing shorts and flip flops.  You may already know this but the skin on the tops of your feet is very sensitive – who knew!  In a matter of seconds the skin began to blister.  And two days later I am still in pain and wearing shoes just makes it worse.

As I have thought about how pain affects us, my thoughts have turned to Jesus and the pain he endured for us.  He willingly endured beating and torture and ultimately a cruel death to offer grace to all people.  My little blisters are nothing compared to what he endured.  We all endure pain in life but nothing will ever compare.

Maybe you have experienced emotional pain.  Maybe the ones closest to you have betrayed you.  That hurts.  It leaves scars that may never heal completely.  But consider Jesus, being arrested and hauled off to a mock trial and the anguish he felt as each and everyone of the people he had poured his life into turned away.  Think about the loneliness he felt on that cross as even God turned his face.

We may have experienced physical and emotional pain.  But Jesus experienced all we have experienced and more and yet he was not shaken.  He finished the mission.  He stayed on that cross and carried out the Father’s plan.

So when you feel life is too much, remember – Jesus lived it – for you.

Be blessed today!

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