In many ways, gory seems to be the antonym of glory and I don’t commonly associate these words together besides the rhyming sound they make. But there’s a stark and startling place where these words converge into one place and that would be Jesus when He was crucified.
If you saw the movie by Mel Gibson, “The Passion of the Christ”, it showed with disturbing clarity the gory nature of Jesus’ death on the cross. I’ll never forget how deeply moved I was to the core of my soul when I saw this movie the first time. As I watched, I found myself repeatedly thinking, “please stop, that’s enough!” And at the end of the movie, I was entirely unraveled because I couldn’t escape the reality that Jesus endured this excrutiating experience entirely on the pure motivation of genuine love, full stop.
Jesus was glorified in the gory mess of human suffering, sin and sacrifice. And this continues to give me the assurance that Jesus can redeem human gore and transform it into divine glory, a truth that we would be wise to ponder throughout this weekend 🙂
Our nation is extremely divided along many lines: economically, politically, socially, in morals and loads more. And tomorrow’s Inauguration is a reflection of these divisions. I’ve been thinking and praying about this for quite some time, asking God for perspective, wisdom and compassion. In my prayers, I was reminded of the bloody transition in 2 Samuel from the house of Saul to David. This transition took many years and was not just a little tulmutuous. Then I also remembered reading Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. I was deeply moved by his words & would strongly encourage you to read this
Another Christmas has concluded & we will soon close the chapter on 2016. Sometimes it’s difficult to say goodbye & sometimes we say with great enthusiasm, “Good riddance!”
No matter what your perspective is on the goodbyes for this year & season, let’s keep in mind that Jesus is always with us, so we never have to say goodbye to Jesus! But maybe we should say goodbye to a few things for 2017:
Would Jesus have you say goodbye to some habits that encumber your walk with Him?
Would Jesus have us say goodbye to the not so deep walk we had with Him in 2016 to grow deeper & closer with Him in 2017?
Would Jesus have us say goodbye to some disorderly priorities that perpetuate unhealthy mindsets & dysfunctional behaviors?
Let’s remember that Jesus is God’s greatest present to us & that He’s always present with us! With the Holy Spirit’s help, let’s determine to be present with Jesus in 2017 more than we were this year!
Because Jesus was a Jew when He lived on earth, I firmly believe that bacon wasn’t in His eating repertoire. However, bacon seems to be more than a little popular for the 21st century palate. Our appetites & eating habits have dramatically changed, some for the good & some not so much.
Which brings me to the question related to our appetites. What tastes good & what do you like to eat? Some of the things we like to eat aren’t good for our bodies just as much as some of the desires that we have aren’t good for our souls.
Let’s be sure to cultivate not only healthy appetites for our bodies but let’s also feed our souls sturdy, life-giving sustenance found through daily Bible & prayer time! Since we’re on the cusp of turning the calendar, let’s not wait for a New Year’s resolution to foster these appetites. Start now & you’ll likely keep a better routine going into the New Year than depending on a date change to facilitate a change in routines.
Some helpful tips could include:
set your alarm & get up rather than snooze it endlessly;
find a friend that can encourage & partner with some accountability;
keep track of the positives from staying disciplined;
This collage of pictures is from several weeks ago when my husband was in ICU recovering from a stroke. He’s fine now, thank ya Jesus! During those days, however, you can rest assured that I was seriously looking for Jesus & finding Him everywhere!
I found Jesus when He helped us by providing one of the best ICU nurses. Ever.
I found Jesus giving me deep peace & comfort when the neurologist was examining my husband & not finding any evidence of the stroke.
I found Jesus when I would randomly meander the hallways praying, asking for help & strength.
I found Jesus when my husband was released earlier than expected with no permanent damage.
We can find Jesus, even in the times that are filled with crisis & stress!!
When my kids were younger, we used to sing a song about the wheels on the bus going round & round, the wipers on the bus going swish, swish, swish, . . . etc. you get the gist.
Let’s be certain that we allow Jesus to hold our daily lives together. Indeed, we would be wise to come to Jesus everyday for maintainable, schedule tuning, workload help & of course regular oil changes with the Holy Spirit!
Jesus birth was a direct result of Heavenly Help. We know this because of Luke 1:35 where Gabriel tells Mary that the Holy Spirit will come upon her. This was his answer to Mary’s question about how she could get pregnant when she’s never known a man.
In this season, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, but let’s not forget that the Holy Spirit was directly responsible for Jesus’ physical existence. With this consideration, how can we let the Holy Spirit help us experience, see & find Jesus today? Let’s remember from John 15:26 that anytime we recognize Jesus it’s because the Holy Spirit is bearing witness to us about Jesus. So let’s think about the ways that we can get closer to the Holy Spirit to help us recognize Jesus more readily! Don’t forget to grab a few copies of Heavenly Help to give away for Christmas presents!
My husband was hospitalized several weeks ago for a stroke. This very alarming experience was something I’d prefer to keep on my un-bucket list. Nonetheless, I was intensely challenged to keep my eyes on Jesus during this crisis. Thankfully, it wasn’t difficult to see Jesus.
It seems to me that Jesus is not just willing to help in a crisis but more so, eager. In that experience, i found that I wasn’t strong, wise nor independent enough to hold it all together. But Jesus is. Learning to be weak & vulnerable with Jesus is helping me to grow closer & see Jesus more readily than I have in the past.
Jesus does ICU 🙂
Every year, I make the Christmas season super fun by posting pictures & writing blogs about finding Jesus. I do this because I think it’s far too easy to lose track of why we celebrate Christmas with all of the festivities, hustle & bustle of the season. So I’m continuing my tradition this year & hopefully, these blogs will help you look for Jesus in places & times you’d not normally think of.
Let’s be sure to find Jesus everyday of this Christmas season no matter how busy we get or the responsibilities that we carry! Looking for Jesus in quotidian living!
I saw a mini-Jesus today & it was a nice reminder that Jesus isn’t limited to any size. Sometimes in the Christmas season we see Jesus as a baby in a manger & we can think that He’s small. On Good Friday, we see Jesus hanging on a cross & dying. Let’s remember that Jesus rose from the dead & His presence fills the earth, regardless of His humble birth.
Here are some possible applications for us today:
There’s no situation in our lives that Jesus cannot resolve
There’s no lack that Jesus cannot fill
There’s no death that Jesus cannot resurrect
Jesus comes in all sizes, so let’s not allow our expectations to limit His engagement throughout our lives!
Ever have to wait at the DMV? It’s a lovely experience that equalizes humanity to those little number strips, as we all wait for our turn to go to the lady behind the window. She knows everything & is all powerful. When I think about it, I want to be nice to her, bring her a peace offering & hope she’ll look favorably on my request. Maybe she’d like a donut with coffee, . . .
It’s possible that my DMV experience is a condensed practice for daily living with God with one major difference: the lady behind the window is human. This means that she is flawed & disconnected from my human existence. Thankfully, God is more than human, integrated throughout our daily living & continuously loving. The DMV makes me appreciate that God is always available, no number required 🙂
I’m a very competitive person and that can be really bad. For example, I used to play in our church’s an annual flag football tournament. After a few years, I decided to remove myself from playing because I couldn’t find a way to compete with a friendly demeanor. So when Paul says in 1 Cor 9:24, “. . . , run in such as way as to win the prize, ” I would use this phrase to justify my poor behavior. Of course I took the verse out of context and this verse can often be misappropriated & rationalized to accommodate personal success rather than transformed redemption. But as followers of Jesus, winning the prize doesn’t align with the world’s definition of victory & success. Indeed, consider the recent Olympic illustration of “winning the prize”: running to win
Let’s enedeavor to be successful by the definition of following Jesus rather than letting our flesh or the world define success for us!
I’m deeply in love with Jesus, full stop. There are times, however, that I’m not so whippy on some of the things Jesus says & does. This used to rankle me, until I started thinking about Peter. One day in my prayer time, the Holy Spirit walked me through the various times & ways that Peter disagreed with Jesus:
At the very beginning when he told Jesus to leave him because he was a sinful man (Luke 5:8, after Jesus used Peter’s boat to preach a sermon to a crowd along the lakeshore).
A little later, even though Peter walked on the water to Jesus in Matt 14:30-31, Jesus reprimanded Peter for his doubt from watching the winds & waves & sinking into the water.
In Matt 16:22, Peter rebukes Jesus for talking about His upcoming death. This seems pretty audacious to me, considering that Peter had just declared that Jesus was the Christ / Messiah.
Peter again argues with Jesus on the whole betrayal thing at the last supper in Matt 26:33-35.
Peter disagrees with God with the heavenly vision in Acts 10:11-19 about eating unclean animals & preaching Jesus to the Gentiles.
Seems to me that it doesn’t make Jesus bite His nails when we disagree with Him, but let’s be abundantly clear that no matter what our opinion may be, Jesus has the final say, full stop. So let’s keep loving Jesus, even when we disagree with Him, from time to time 🙂
Several weeks ago, I sustained a concussion from a snowboarding accident. I’m learning that a concussion is an entirely different recovery process than the dislocated shoulder problem from last year’s snowboarding fun. In the grand scheme of things, the shoulder thing seemed to get fixed faster than this concussion stuff. When you think about it, that makes sense because a concussion is an injury to the brain & most of us use our brains a lot, even when we don’t realize it. This is all to say that I’m a quick fix kind of person & I don’t relish a slow nor tedious recovery process. I think most of us can often think in quick fix terms: We want a quick resolution to our finances, an overnight solution to an addiction we might struggle with, or a fast answer to the summer swim suit challenge.
While I totally know that Jesus can do the quick fix miracle, there’s immeasurable value in settling into a mindset of following Jesus as a lifestyle. Jesus wants us to be disciples & not merely converts or consumers. Seems to me that being a follower of Jesus is a steady diet of daily surrender more than an erratic transaction for consumer purposes. Maybe we start out with Jesus in a quick fix relationship, but let’s commit to growing deeper & in love with Jesus more & more 🙂
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.
I read this morning about how Jesus helped a man who was demon possessed. Because of the demons who tormented him, this man:
lived isolated among the tombs
couldn’t be chained or contained
He was clearly deranged & without hope.
After meeting Jesus & receiving His freedom from the demons, the man was dramatically changed – so much that when the townspeople came out to see what was happening, they found the former tormented lunatic:
interacting with Jesus & His disciples
seated & serene
It never ceases to astound me that the townspeople ran off Jesus because they were afraid of His power to change everything. They seemed to have become more comfortable with demons than Jesus who brought freedom from all things demonic.
Let’s fully welcome Jesus into every area of our lives to restore order, serenity, salvation & the ability to engage & connect with others in healthy ways!
Today, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, when humanity began a new trajectory with God’s love expressed to us through Jesus’ life. It always takes my breath away when I consider that God became flesh & started His journey like every single human, as a newborn baby. Furthermore, despite being the Son of God, Jesus’ first bed was an animal feeding trough & His mom was a teenage girl, unwed & common, except for her trust & faith in God.
I pray that your day is overflowing with God’s love & Jesus’ presence! Merry Christmas to you, a Savior is born to us today!
Currently in Denver we are having a blizzard & some people have lost power in their house. Thankfully, Jesus always has power available to us!
There are always times & seasons in our lives where we are weak, frail, tired, frazzled & infirm. These times & areas aren’t really shocking because these things go with being human. When we integrate Jesus into our daily living, we integrate supernatural power, strength & help!
Jesus gives us power to go through challenges & live in victory & not weakness or frailty!
There are lots of things that need regular maintenance: changing oil in the car, laundry, tooth brushing, cleaning the kitchen etc. I also think there’s good value in thinking of our spiritual life with a mindset of regular maintenance. What I love about keeping our spiritual life well oiled is that the dividends always exceed the investment. Whatever time, energy & presence I give to God is always returned to me with supernatural generosity.
God’s presence is always more satisfying than the presence I give to God – praying is super essential!
Spending time in the Bible is beneficial in our hearts & souls, helping our thoughts , emotions & decisions
Experiencing God in community pays huge rewards, helping us to sense God in fresh & challenging ways
Recently, I torched a pan of bacon: flames, smoke, noxious fumes, baking powder, etc. Of course I was absentmindedly sitting at the counter absorbed in my phone & eating breakfast when my astute & gentle son observed smoke coming from the oven. Long story made short, my husband bailed me out, for the umpteenth time & no one was hurt, except for the oven window getting shattered. My husband knew well enough to put out the fire by taking away its oxygen & not pouring water on a grease fire.
Thankfully, Jesus knows how to put out the various fires in our lives. Sometimes relationship can nuke us, sometimes we get burned out from our workload & sometimes we can be fried from the demands & busyness of the Christmas season.
I’m grateful that Jesus soothes my soul, sustains my heart, nurtures & waters the various purposes of my life.