First to Worst

I live in Denver & our baseball team, the Rockies, are plummeting by the day from first to worst. It’s disheartening to watch them & I can’t help but wonder if Jesus’ disciples were a little jittery about Him cleansing the Temple, immediately upon His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem. The Temple cleaning wouldn’t be the best way to win friends & positively influence key leaders. But this was the first thing Jesus chose to do, upon His wildly popular entrance.
Clearly, there are plenty of gaps comparing Jesus’ triumphal entrance & my baseball team.
But I wonder if Jesus’ disciples didn’t watch Jesus’ crucifixion with shock & awe. “How did we get to this appalling conclusion in such a few short days?” When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the Bible says that the entire city was stirred up & in less than 5 days, Jesus was hanging on a cross, the most barbaric punishment humans could contrive at that time. How could Jesus go from first to worst?
And then resurrection???
Let’s never take human events as the final conclusion nor permanent solution when we invite the Holy Spirit to join our journey. Indeed, when we walk with the Holy Spirit, the potential for resurrection defies our human perspective & limits!

Do You Want Resurrection?

Here’s the truth: I’m selfish, impatient, insensitive, unforgiving, unkind, irreverent, apathetic & heaps more ugly things. While I don’t want to behave in these ways, nonetheless, the bad that I don’t want to do is what I often wind up doing. And the good that I want to do, I don’t often do. I want to live in resurrection & not my deplorable humanity. So what’s the answer?
The answer to living in resurrection is to be crucified with Christ – Galatians 2:20. Indeed, there were two men crucified with Christ. One man mocked Jesus with the rest of the bystanders & one man recognized Jesus for who He is, the sinless Son of God.
So on this Good Friday, I chose to join Jesus on the cross, crucifying my flesh so that Jesus resurrected life can flow through my daily living. When I live the crucified life, then I’m unselfish, patient, sensitive, forgiving, kind, reverent & ultimately, genuine love is my default nature! Anyone care to join me in the crucified life so Jesus’ resurrection can live through us?

Get RUDE!!

I don’t like rude people & I’d like to keep a wide berth from insensitive folk. But Jesus was rude & rude on more than one occasion. I think the pinnacle of Jesus’ rude behavior was when He cleaned out the temple on Holy Week. He overturned tables, made a whip & offended lots of important people with His house cleaning activities. More than a few people thought Jesus was rude & they didn’t appreciate His challenging words & behaviors.
I think that there are times when we get offended with Jesus as well. More to the point, our flesh objects to His gruff & confrontational behavior. And maybe that’s the point – either our flesh rules us or Jesus is our Lord, but we can’t have it both ways.
In this Holy Week, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to clean out the trash that our flesh accumulates in our souls so that Jesus’ resurrection life can wholly transform us. Indeed, the works of the flesh have to die to the resurrection life of Jesus!

Can Gory Be Glory?

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 🙂

Resurrection Continued

The day after Easter is always an interesting experience. It’s tempting to go back to “normal”, the regular routines & business as usual. 
But this Easter is different for me. 
It’s different for lots of reasons:

  • Jesus many unexpected appearances, reminding me to stay attentive & expectant to experience Jesus throughout any given day
  • Peter’s denial & Thomas’ doubt – exceptional grace to both men (Luke 24:34 & John 20:24-28)
  • The Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead – more Heavenly Help!! Rom 8:11
  • Getting ready for Pentecost – grab a copy of Heavenly Help to prepare for this supernatural experience!

What areas in your life need resurrection?

Gethsemane Before Easter

  
Take a moment to think of a dark time you have experienced. Maybe you went through a challenging time in your health or with a loved one. Maybe you went through a painful divorce or financial situation that seemed hopeless. All of us have had our share of dark times & we don’t like them. 
I totally appreciate that Jesus had dark experiences as well – the devil tempting Jesus during His 40day fast comes to mind. In this Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday, today is Maundy Thursday, the day of Jesus’ Last Supper & the evening when He went to Gethsemane. 

If you’re presently in a dark time, or you know someone who is struggling in a difficult situation, take heart! Here are some thoughts that’s could help:

  • Jesus went through dark seasons & is acquainted with our struggles – Jesus keeps company with us in the darkness
  • To every season there is a limit – this has come to pass & not stay
  • Intimacy often grows deeper in situations of duress & struggle, so maybe this is why Jesus wanted Peter, James & John to keep company with Him in Gethsemane – don’t be repelled by someone’s dark season (Matt 26:36-38)
  • Remember that Jesus is the Light of the world & brings illumination wherever He is invited!

Easter is coming – that means there’s resurrection around the corner! And Heavenly Help gives us strength & wisdom to keep going!

Resurrection Process

  


I have this mindset that says miracles, resurrection & supernatural living are like an on & off switch, with immediate results. But this morning, I was reading in Ezekial 37 about the valley of dry bones. It became really clear to me that all these bones didn’t go from lifeless to resurrected without going through a process. When you read this chapter, you’ll see that: 

  1. sinews were connected. 
  2. flesh (muscles) formed on the bones.  
  3. skin covered the flesh.
  4. Ezekial was required to prophecy breath / life into these corpses for them to come alive. 

If you’re like me, we both have dead areas in our lives that desperately need divine resurrection. Let’s be open to the reality that resurrection can be a process & the Holy Spirit is the breath of life to ignite the culminated process 🙂

Thinking about Good Friday

TGIF takes on an entirely new meaning when I think about it in light of Good Friday.  This day marks not only the conclusion of a workweek, but more importantly, Jesus’ crucifixion which was humanity’s windfall.  Jesus’ death on the cross was:

  • the defining moment for humanity’s reconciliation with Heaven.
  • the conclusion of approximately 2,000 years of Law with human shortcoming & failure.
  • the ultimate expression of Genuine Love for an unworthy planet
  • the fertilzer for resurrection
  • the place where our lives receive ultimate freedom, redemption and acceptance

Truly, Good Friday is good and God’s ultimate expression of Genuine Love & I find myself in a state of awe, wonder, gratitude and overwhelming astonishment at such extravagant love.  May Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection work redemption into our hearts, through our lives and reconcile the world in which we live to our loving Heavenly Father.  Today is truly a Good Friday.

Consumer Grade Christianity

We do alot of our shopping at Walmart because it’s cheap, close and convenient.  The quality, however, can sometimes be a little questionable.  For example, when I buy socks for my boys, I’ve learned that if I buy them from Walmart, I’ll usually have to buy 2-3 times the number of socks (holes, rips, etc) as if I buy a higher quality & little costlier brand from a different store.  Consumer grade socks for my boys from Walmart usually have a pretty short lifespan in the world of boy socks 🙂

Unfortuanately, I think we sometimes treat Christianity with the same level of function.  We want cheap, close and convenient:  Jesus in the manger, candle light service in less than an hour, the cross, tomb, July 4th and the next thing.  With this kind of thinking, it’s not a surprise that someone could easily be disillusioned, misled and / disappointed with the consumer grade version of Christianity, if such a thing really exists.

So here are some thoughts to consider:

  • does your faith facilitate more function from or attachment with Jesus?
  • is your faith in Jesus based on consumption, sacrifice and / or transformation?
  • is Jesus an accessory or a necessity in your life?
  • maybe consumer grade Christianity is only a Satan contrived deception to the authentic, daily and life-changing relationship with Jesus that will most certainly include sacrifice, fertilizer and resurrection 🙂

Jesus wept

My son & I were talking this morning about being sensitive to people and their needs.  In our discussion, I was reminded of the story when Jesus came to Martha and Mary after their brother Lazarus had died, landing in possibly one of the darkest moments of their lives.  If you remember, Martha & Mary had sent to Jesus before Lazarus died, asking Him to come & heal their sick brother.  Despite receiving this information, Jesus waited where he was and purposely came to Martha & Mary after their brother died.  Jesus’ delay was extremely disappointing to Martha & Mary (“If You had been here, he would not have died”).  Nevertheless, Jesus had a really insightful conversation with Martha about resurrection & if you have some moments, I’d encourage you to read John 11 to look into that chat between the two of them.

After talking with Martha, Jesus connected with Mary who was a virtual basket case from her grief, disappointment, anxiety and loss.  Jesus listened, watched, observed everyone’s grief and didn’t reply with a cliche’ quick fix answer – “Oh he’s in a better place now,” nor did Jesus try to change the subject, distract everyone with a miracle,  discuss theology with the attending religious leaders, or do the All Knowing God answer.  After taking everything in, Jesus wept.  When you read to the end of John 11, we see that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead so there’s a really unexpected and extremely happy ending to the whole story – but Jesus didn’t raise Lazarus from the dead before He experienced the grief through which everyone was going with the death of Lazarus.

Jesus wept.

Honor to our Veterans

In the US, today is Veterans Day and this is a day when we remind ourselves of men and women who have served in the military and made small to ultimate sacrifices.  This is a day when we remember people for being their best:  selfless, noble, sacrificial, honorable, generous, humble and more.  We honor the men and women who fought in trenches and deserts, lost limbs and lives, bandaged wounds and bruises, gave their energies, talents, time and even lives as a sacrifice.

Such heroic choices and actions cause me to see Jesus as my ultimate Veteran and Victor – giving His life as my sacrifice but being raised from the dead so we can be victorious in life because of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Let’s honor our nation’s veterans and remember to honor the Savior of our soul – hail to the Ultimate Veteran and Victor!

Happy Veteran’s Day!

after resurrection

Easter is a wonderful celebration of life, victory and genuine love!!  And it seems to me that there is often a little bit of a “let down” after Easter. – kind of like, “Whew!  Jesus rose from the dead, glad that He conquered death, let’s move on.”  This year, however, is a little different for me.

I’m reminded what Jesus told His disciples in John 16:7 that it was to their advantage for Jesus to go away so that the Helper could come & give us HELP.  When Jesus was raised from the dead, He breathed on His followers in John 20:22 and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit!”

So here’s the overwhelmingly GREAT NEWS about Jesus raising from the dead – not only did Jesus conquer death but we now have the great Helper with us in our daily living!  Let’s never minimize the importance of the Helper being with us!!

hot topic: cannibals & carnivores

“Eat My flesh and drink My blood.”  As we come into the Easter season (a little early for my Orthodox friends), we are often reminded of these words of Jesus at the Last Supper.

This statement about eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood has raised many questions over the centuries:

  • Was Jesus anti-vegan or opposed to a vegetarian lifestyle?
  • Was this Jesus’ way of promoting a gluten-free lifestyle, emphasizing the consumption of meat & blood?
  • Was Jesus advocating a type of divine cannibalism?

As you read these questions & probably think of a few more, please don’t think that I’ve suddenly lost the plot & become obsessed with some new type of eating lifestyle.  My goal with this post is to raise your awareness that we are coming into Holy Week, when we celebrate Jesus’ death & resurrection, around Jesus’ central words at the Last Supper, with His closest followers.

From my point of veiw, Jesus’ words about eating His flesh & drinking His blood show us in a really powerful way that Jesus love for us runs so deep that He invites us to not only revel in His strength & resurrection, but also to fellowship with Him in His suffering, pain & death – Phil 3:10.  Let’s fully enjoy all of Who Jesus is during this Easter season!

hot topic: Denver Broncos & the Super Bowl

These were my famous last words right before halftime during the recent Super Bowl.  I’m a Denver Broncos fan and we were thoroughly and repeatedly thrashed during this game.  Six days later, I’m still looking for some kind of silver lining from this game, but I’ve yet to find any redeeming value, other than being humbled (possibly humiliated depending on your point of view).

I’ve also been reading about Jesus’ arrest, scourging, crucifixion and death over the last few days.  Maybe His disciples   said the same thing, “it can’t get any worse”, when Jesus was betrayed by Judas in Gethsemane.  Perhaps they thought the worst was over when Jesus was brought before Pilate.  And when Jesus died on the cross, maybe they gave up all hope and felt entirely abandoned, betrayed, demoralized and forsaken.  If you’re in a very bleak situation, remember that Jesus defied all natural convetions and rose from the dead.  With God, nothing is impossible, including the Broncos ,)

Holy Crap!

As a quick reminder, Jesus told a parable once about a fig tree that hadn’t produced fruit for 2 years. The owner of the orchard wanted to chop down the tree but the gardener asked the owner to give him 1 more year to do some intense work to get this tree to be fruitful. Part of the gardeners plan was to throw lots of fertilizer (also known as crap) around the roots of the tree.
In my mind, none of like fertilizer or crap. It’s smelly, gross, repulsive & thoroughly distasteful. Nevertheless, what is most repulsive to us can have the highest powerful of redemption in the right hands. In God’s hand, fertilizer is the stuff of resurrection. So perhaps there is such a thing as holy crap ,)

happy Resurrection!

 Easter is a GREAT day & I love it for lots of reasons:

  • it reminds me that Spring is imminent
  • it always makes me appreciate what it means to have a fresh beginning
  • it’s a day that infuses HOPE into any dark spots in my life
  • it reminds me that literally NOTHING is impossible
  • it is the ULTIMATE victory – rolling into one giant success March Madness, World Cup Soccer, the Superbowl, World Cup Rugby, the World Series and even more, making me aware that my team wins for time unstoppable
  • it is a tangible expression of the power of genuine love
  • personal resurrection – no situation in my life is exempt from the resurrection power of God

These are a few reasons why I love Easter!  In what ways is Easter meaningful to you???

growing part 1: light exposes lies

I had an interesting experience in a conversation with a friend a few days ago as we were talking about various challenges in our lives.  In the discussion,  I opened up and shared some frustrations & struggles that have been on my heart, which may seem fairly harmless.  After the conversation as I was walking to my car, I felt a bit of a gentle scolding in my heart from God.  Some of His loving rebuke challenged me that sometimes I can be whiney: complaining about what isn’t going well, “venting” with my frustrations, etc.  Even worse, I can get into a pity party & swallow the lie that I’m a loser.  I think we can all fall into this trap from time to time.

I’m extremely confident that God was confronting & challenging me to change in His loving rebuke because the next morning, my Bible reading time just happened to be in Josh 1, where God commands Joshua 3 times to be strong & courageous.  Furthermore, I also read Ps 103:1-5 where David beautifully magnifies the work of God in our individual lives. 

So here are my take-aways (and perhaps they will encourage you as well): 

  • just because the evil one serves me a plate of discouragement doesn’t mean that I automatically pick up a fork & start ingesting his poisonous delicacies masquerading as a chummy conversation;
  • be strong & courageous:  may my ears & eyes be sensitive to hear & see God moving in my life (vertical focus) more than how I feel or what I see & hear on the horizontal plane; 
  • Be strong & courageous is a command from God & it obliterates my self-pity dribble

Perhaps on this Resurrection Weekend it would be constructive to celebrate the death of the “loser lie”.  Indeed, when they crucified Jesus, many thought He was one of the world’s biggest losers, but He came back & annhilated the “loser lie.”  So my friend, let me invite you to join me in receiving His lluminating imperative to be strong & courageous to evaporate any discouragement, deceptions & lies in our lives 🙂