Nothing seems to repel us like suffering. Indeed, if we had our way, we’d entirely skip the whole crucifixion thing & leap straight to resurrection.
Maybe that’s why Peter, James & John slept in Gethsemane when Jesus told them to watch & pray, while He travailed in prayer with sweat like drops of blood. I would likely chose to sleep as well rather than watch my Invincible Hero suffer & appear frail & unraveled.
But here’s the best kept secret: there’s tremendous intimacy potential in sharing with suffering. While we follow & admire strength, nothing connects us with someone more than seeing & even sharing in weakness & pain. Some of my best friends have been through the most abysmal experiences with me – we’ve shared in suffering & the bond between us from those experiences has been immensely strengthened.
In Holy Week, today is Maunday Thursday. This is the day when Jesus shared the last supper with His disciples, washed their feet & travailed in Gethsemane. Jesus understands suffering & wants to connect deeply with us, not only in resurrection life, but also in struggles & suffering – the fellowship of suffering: Philippians 3:10-11
Some of us do shock better than others. Some of us need an hourly stability infusion & others need a more steady supply of edgy & unpredictable. Seems to me that Jesus fits the bill for each of these mindsets & He gives us stability when we need it & unpredictable when that’s what’s necessary.
Consider that Jesus was the steady Eddy for His disciples & earned their trust being His continuous faithfulness to them. He was also a shocker from time to time:
The walking on the water thing completely freaked out His disciples – Jesus walking on the water was the last thing they expected to see at 3am in the middle of a storm!
The multiple resurrection appearances was seriously shocking – a wake up call for sure!
Jesus’ disappearance after the Emmaus road chat made those guys recognize the holy heartburn from their traveling conversation w Him
Let’s be clear that whether we’re in a discouraging storm, or we’ve endured a tragic loss or we can’t understand what God is going, Jesus is fully capable to continue doing supernatural & shocking things. Let’s keep our eyes peeled & hearts open to Jesus throughout this day!
Prison doesn’t sound appealing to me from any perspective. So thinking that God uses prison for good outcomes seems counterintuitive, full stop. Nonetheless, I read this morning about how Paul was put in prison & I remembered how Joseph was also imprisoned for some years. During the imprisonment season for both of these men, some really amazing things happened. Paul wrote heaps of letters, called epistles, to various churches which we can read today. During Paul’s imprisonment, he was also able to share about Jesus to some highly influential leaders, including Nero, the Emperor of the Roman Empire. With Joseph, he practiced his administration & leadership skills, as well as sharpening his dream interpretation abilities.
Let’s be clear that God uses all kinds of scenarios for divine outcomes: imprisonment, hardship, deprivation and not just our physical comfort ,)
So let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us to be successful regardless of our situation & remember that Sunday is Pentecost!! 🙂
Waiting doesn’t seem to be one of my strong suits. Frankly put, I’m often impetuous, sometimes impulsive and infrequently patient. So the idea of chilling out and waiting for something is not appealing to me. And yet, this is exactly what Jesus told His followers in Luke 24:49, “‘ . . . , stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.'” Thankfully, the disciples followed Jesus’ directive and I’m grateful to read about the fruit of their patience and waiting in Acts 2 – the Day of Pentecost.
So in our fast-paced, microwave popcorn and warp speed living, let’s take a step back & consider some of the benefits of waiting for the Holy Spirit:
waiting in a community affords the opportunity to build relationships and grow in our fellowship with other believers
waiting enforces a healthy discipline on a personal level that defies instant gratification
waiting teaches us to let Jesus be the Lord of our time and how we resolve our desires
waiting to be clothed with power and the Holy Spirit is what our world desperately needs from us, as followers of Jesus
Take a minute to grab a copy of Heavenly Help and as you read it, let the Holy Spirit speak into your heart about Pentecost becoming more real in your life!
Before there were planes, trains & automobiles, people used camels, donkeys & the sandal express to resolve their transportation needs. So once upon a time there were a couple of guys walking from one town to another and a random stranger joined their pedestrian ambulation. There ensued a heated conversation about the current events of that time: something about a very magnetic man getting brutally murdered by the key religious leaders of the region & supposedy this murdered but magnetic guy had risen from the dead, according to the rumor on the street. The stranger seemed unaware of these current events, but somehow started a religious conversation that caused a holy heart burn in these fellow travellers. Long story short, these guys came to understand after Jesus disappeared that He was talking with them along their journey, even though they didn’t recognize Him. Luke 24
Just because we know about Jesus doesn’t mean that we always recognize Him in the events or journey of our daily living. I think that part of our Path to Pentecost is letting the Holy Spirit help us recognize Jesus better in our day to day existence.
Springtime always seems to ramp up the activity level. There’s fresh air outside that’s not too cold, the trees bloom with fragrant life, the hibernation of winter dissipates and of course there are all of the activities that go with school, Easter, graduations, weddings, showers, etc.
More often than not, Springtime wears me out with the hustle and bustle of demanding activities. So this Sping, I’m endeavoring to strike a better balance, integrating some rest into the mix. Here are some ideas that might help you with finding rest in a busy Spring:
be careful not to fall in the “value in achievement” trap – you’re valuable because God loves you, full stop
consider Spring cleaning your calendar / schedule and not just your house
be sure the way you use your time accurately reflects your priorities
don’t ditch church 🙂
Of course I’m always keen to recommend reading a good book as a form of relaxing & a great book to read in preparation for Pentecost in a few weeks is Heavenly Help
In the world of faith, doubt can sometimes feel like a cuss word of the four letter variety. On the surface, those of us who endeavor to follow Jesus don’t doubt, maybe. But when we’re honest, there’s plenty of times & situations when we doubt. And even today something will probably happen that could cast a shadow of doubt on our faith.
Thankfully, Jesus has the capacity to accommodate doubt, as evidenced in the way He interacted with Doubting Thomas.
Poor Thomas. He wasn’t around when Jesus first appeared to His disciplines after His resurrection & Thomas couldn’t believe that Jesus was risen when everyone expressed this jubilant transformation. “Not unless I touch His side & put my fingers in His nail prints, will I believe”. And for more than a millennium Thomas has been the redeeming hope for those of who struggle with doubt. Of course there’s a price to pay for doubting: for 8days Thomas was the lone doubting ranger among these hyped up believing disciples. But Jesus appeared to Thomas after 8days & Thomas did exactly what he required: he felt the nail prints in Jesus’ hands & he touched Jesus’ side that was sword pierced.
Jesus most certainly accommodate our doubts, but let’s be willing to change our doubts & not cling to them in obstinate entrenchment. If we aren’t willing to change our doubts then we can become moribund, a word rooted in the idea of death & decay.
Remember to grab your copy of Heavenly Help – this could be just the tool that Jesus would use to help you work through some doubts 🙂
Recently I had a snowboarding accident, landed on my head and got a concussion, despite wearing a helmet. Clearly, this is not a pleasant experience and the recovery feels slow, to this fairly impatient person 🙂
Writing with a concussion is an interesting experience. I find that my thinking is slower than normal and sometimes it feels like my writing is murky. So here’s my solution: Heavenly Help 🙂
Truth be known, in some ways this concussion experience has helped me lean into the Holy Spirit like I’ve never done before and the results are super encouraging! For example, last night, I attended a school function with one of my kids where I’d normally be super insecure and awkward. Instead, last night I felt lots of strength and confidence from the Holy Spirit and left the event not only relieved but also very pleased and secure in the Holy Spirit’s very practical help and strength. This whole concussion thing can really help me grow deeper in my relationship with the Helper and that, my friends, is the best thing in the world!
Regardless of our best intentions, all of us fail. The most encouraging example for me with failure is when I think about Jesus’ disciple, Peter. I think he majorly failed when he betrayed Jesus & it seems to me that he was more than disappointed with himself with this failure (Luke 22:61-62).
In sharp contrast to Peter’s failure with betraying Jesus, a little more than six weeks after this downfall, Peter is the lead promoter to stand in front of thousands of people on the Day of Pentecost to be Jesus’ lead frontman. This is quite the reversal in Peter’s life and this encourages us that
no failure that we’ve experienced can exceed Jesus’ power to redeem.
So rather than hide or run from our failures, let’s sit at Jesus’ feet, be transparent and vulnerable, and yield to the Holy Spirit pouring love into our hearts (Rom 5:5), for redeeming each shortfall to lift up Jesus better than we could without that failure 🙂
Dont’ forget to grab your copy of Heavenly Help & be sure to write a review on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles & Goodreads!
This picture is at the top of a black ski run. I didn’t take a picture of the din because it was a steep drop 🙂
I’ve been snowboarding with my this week as they’ve been on Spring Break & I decided to try a black run (translation: advanced as opposed to beginner or intermediate). The first time I tried it, I conquered! The second time, I was conquered ,)
So I’ll keep practicing. Practice is a good thing – it’s the space where we can mistakes, learn, grow & improve without feeling shame or embarrassment, usually.
There are heaps of things in which I want to do better & honestly, I sometimes get discouraged with myself for not improving more quickly. So I remind myself, “Keep practicing, you’re getting better & better!”
The first person to whom Jesus appeared after His resurrection was Mary Magdalene. Mary seems to be an unlikely prospect for Jesus’
considering that He could’ve appeared to some “higher quality” folk. In Mark 16:9, we read about Mary, “He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons.”
Why would Jesus pick a former lunatic chick to make His first appearance? Why not Peter, who denied Jesus but was clearly a leader among the disciples. Why not Mary, Jesus’ mom? Why not John, the disciple whose love for Jesus was noteworthy? Why this Mary Magdalene?
I totally love that Jesus first appeared to this woman. I love that Jesus picked the least likely person who had possibly been the most deranged & to her He revealed His resurrected self.
On our journey to Pentecost, let’s allow Jesus into the “crazy” places in our lives. Indeed, Jesus is our resurrected Prince of Peace, the One who calms the chaos & dispels the darkness.