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Archive for the ‘Lent’ Category

Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you – unless you have come to believe in vain.

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was burried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.  For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain.  On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them – though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.  Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.  (1 Corinthians 15:1-11 NRSV)

This, my friends is the promise of Easter:  Christ crucified has risen from the dead!  Like Eric, today I am reminded of the promise that Jesus is more than a “good man”.  A good man doesn’t do much for me other than give me a warm fuzzy feeling.  The Son of God in human flesh crucified, dead and burried and then resurrected from the dead – that is a promise that I can cling to.  That is the promise that gives me hope and joy.

It is with the assurance of that promise that I now step out of this Lenten Journey and into the hope of the resurrected Christ.  I pray that you were blessed both in this Lenten Season as well as in today’s joyous Easter celebration.

May you know the hope and promise of Christ raised from the dead.

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It seems hard to believe that holy week is upon us: the jubilance of the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem, the dramatic events of the last supper and intensity of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal, trial and passion of Christ’s death on Good Friday, the period of solemn yet hopeful waiting on Holy Saturday, and then the glorious Easter celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.  It is a week that covers the whole gamet of emotion and one that deserves much more of our attention than what it often receives.  Holy Week begs for pause in our lives – pause which serves to remind us that this life is not about us.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.” John 3:16-17 (The Message)

It is in the observance of Holy Week that we are to be reminded of those events on which all of eternity hangs.  Our eternal destiny is secured by our faith in this one thing: Christ crucified and Christ risen.

May we be reminded this week of the ultimate sacrifice that was paid in behalf of our sins – as Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, submitted himself to the penalty of death as the sacrificial lamb for the sins of all humankind.  May we not make light of this sacrifice but once again be reminded of the greatest gift that has ever been given.  And may we open our hands and hearts to accept that gift.

May the remembrance of Christ crucified and Christ risen capture our hearts once again during this Holy Week.

Jesus Christ, I think upon Your sacrifice
You became nothing, poured out to death
Many times, I’ve wondered at Your gift of life
And I’m in that place once again
I’m in that place once again

Once again I look upon the cross where You died
I’m humbled by Your mercy and I’m broken inside
Once again I thank You
Once again I pour out my life

Thank You for the cross
Thank You for the cross
Thank You for the cross, my friend

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We live in a culture that is obsessed with instant gratification.  We are conditioned to want the world, and to want it now.  We tap our foot with impatience as we wait in line at the fast food drive through, despite the fact that we don’t even have to get out of our car to get food anymore.  If someone is driving “too slowly” on the freeway we flash our lights, give some gestures and then zip around in anger as though that person were interfering with some divine plan for us to get where we’re going in record time.  Newspapers and “snail mail” are becoming obsolete as people get their news instantaneously online and send e-mails, instant messages and texts in lieu of hand written mail.

So, what’s the deal?  Have we lost something in this sea of instant gratification?

I’ve had a lot on my mind the past few days.  During this this Lenten season I’ve experienced some of the joys of living at a more relaxed pace of life, and have gained quite an appreciation for some of those things that you just can’t get in an instant.  There are just some things that an instant won’t bring – things for which we must wait.

We don’t like to wait.  We’re conditioned to think that we’re somehow entitled to not have to wait.

You know what, though?  God wants us to wait.  He wants us to learn to wait.

Tonight, as we were studying Luke-Acts in my New Testament class, Dr. Myers pointed out a brilliang juxtaposition.  At the end of Luke, Jesus gives some clear instructions to his disciples before ascending into heaven.  He says:

“I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)

At the beginning of Acts, we are given another account of the ascension with similar instructions from Jesus to his disciples.  He says:

“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about… It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerualem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:4, 7-8)

In both of these cases, Jesus final instructions to the disciples before he ascends into heaven are not to go, but rather to wait.

So, what’s all this waiting about?  What’s the use in waiting around for something?

Like I said before: There are just some things that an instant won’t bring – things for which we must wait.

I’ve got more thoughts on this topic, but before I share my thoughts, I want to know what you (you know, my four faithful readers) think about this topic.  What are the things that you have to wait for?  Is it worth the wait?

While you’re thinking about it, check out this song by Brandon Heath called “Wait and See”:

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There is an older gentleman in my church who was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer a while back.  At the time it was estimated that he would probably have less than a year to live.  As I observe this man in church it is clear to me that he is a firm believer in the power of God, the power of prayer, and in the importance of fellowship with other believers.  I’m pretty sure that since beginning his treatments for the cancer he has only missed maybe one or two Sundays.

Back in November our church held a benefit dinner for he and his wife to help cover medical expenses that raised upwards of $20,000.  That money helped to cover enormous medical bills that had been piling up while he and his wife were both out of work.

Tonight as we opened our last Lenten soup supper in prayer, we were able to rejoice with the saints in heaven at a miraculous victory.  The tumor which had previously been present in his pancreas is gone.  The tumor in his liver has shrunk to half its size, and appears to be continuing in its disappearance.  The doctors are calling it nothing short of a miracle.

The doctor’s advice: keep doing whatever it is you’re doing.

His response: “All I do is go home and pray.”

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… or perhaps I’m just settling into the “normalcy” of adulthood.

Ever since my silent retreat at Mowana last week, I’ve actually experienced some regularity in my sleeping habits.  I’ve been in bed by 11:00 almost every night and up before 9:00 (actually before 8 most days) every day.

I feel like I have a lot to say, but not the words to say it.
There’s been a lot going on in my life lately.
God is up to some big stuff, and I’m really excited about it.

That will all have to wait for another day, though.

It’s about my bed time.

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Things have been pretty quiet around here lately.  Maybe it’s the fact that my Lenten journey has led me away from my internet presence, or perhaps it’s simply a lack of words to say.  Whatever it is, I’m still alive.

I spent the first half of this week on a personal silent retreat among the pines of Camp Mowana down in Mansfield, OH.  Armed with little more than a Bible, a journal and a few good books, I set out Sunday evening for two days of un-wired bliss.  I hiked around camp.  I had several close encounters with various furry friends.  I sat in front of the fireplace for hours on end.  I walked the prayer labyrinth.  I read.  I journaled. I prayed.

It was exactly what I needed.  It fit perfectly into an already challenging Lenten journey.  Perhaps I’ll choose to share more as the week unfolds.  On the other hand, perhaps I won’t.

In the wise words of Henri Nouwen, with which I spent a large portion of my retreat:

“We have been made to believe that feelings, emotions, and even the inner stirrings of the soul have to be shared with others… But let us at least raise the question of whether our lavish ways of sharing are not more compulsive than virtuous; that instead of creating community they tend to flatten out our life together.  Often we come home from a sharing session with a feeling that something precious has been taken away from us or that holy ground has been trodden upon.” (45-46, The Way of the Heart)

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Twouble with Twitters

I find this little gem of a video brilliant.  Espcially after being away from the twittersphere, AIM, and facebook for a few weeks now.  Enjoy!  (ty los)

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