Keep running

 

SERIOUSLY? 4:30am?

4:30 am comes really early every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Actually, it comes too early. This week it was raining “like for real” on Wednesday so we got to skip. Why do I get up on MWF that early? To run. I know that on these days my friend Bruce is coming over. I know that I need to beat him to my driveway or he will leave without me and I will have to run alone. It is a choice. Every day that he is coming I have a choice to make. Roll over or get up and start stretching.

running-shoes-02Bruce and I spend about 45 minutes running 3.4 miles on these days. When my alarm goes off I hate Bruce. Not really, but man I wish he could just run those miles by himself and I would get the benefit from them.

It is probably good that my alarm clock was made by Apple and is also my phone. I set my 6S to a “descending harp” to try to not wake my wife. If all of this was not so, I would have destroyed the alarm a long time ago. But since it is not a $20 alarm clock from Walmart, I am very careful. It is bad enough to buy running shoes and insoles for running shoes; I don’t need to buy a new phone because of this running thing.

Why do you do this?

Someone asked me today why I do it. Well, 4:30 is because I want to run with Bruce. Bruce is good for my soul. Bruce is both a metaphor for Barnabas, “the son of encouragement,” and the Holy Spirit. As we run, (not sprint, more than jog) we talk. Bruce is deep and human at the same time. He cares enough to say the truth and he loves enough to lift me up. I hope I do the same for him. As a pastor this is so important to my soul. He allows me to rant and rave and run. He lets me laugh and cry and wonder. He reminds me of truth and pulls me back when my heart is assuming something wrongly.

Just keep running!

As we run we have a 1.1+ miles course around our housing community. It has hills and flats and is really a nice loop. We run it two to three times depending upon the morning. The first loop is the hardest, then it gets a little easier. As we pass my house for the second time there is no going back so it’s three!

my-houseI can see my house from the other side of the community since it’s a bit of a draw down in to the housing development. As I get to a certain spot, I see the lights, four white dots and the front porch light way across the way. Each time I get to that spot, I think, “I’m almost there, I can do this.” As we run, Bruce will say, “We just need to run to that light up there.” Or, “Just to the white mailbox” Or, “We can run to the truck or the white sign what ever you want.” But we keep moving forward. Then we get to the spot where I see my house. It’s actually a little less than half way to the house from there.

I’m reminded of heaven this morning as I was running. I’m 56 years old this year and I am doing this for my health. I don’t always like it. As a matter of fact, I‘m actually an addict. Yes, I am a pillow addict. If I weren’t this would not be so hard. I want to stay on my pillow! I don’t like doing things that are good for me. I would rather take advantage of my body; feed it donuts, sit on the couch, ride my motorcycle, go to dinner. I would rather do anything than suffer the pain of making my body smaller. But I see the lights.

I made a decision in 1977 to surrender my life to Jesus. Not “accept” him, but “surrender” to him. Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect, or “holier than thou,” no, what I am saying is I am part of the family of the King of the Universe and he loves me enough to die for me. Because of that decision on his part, and my decision on my part, I keep running in step with him. And when I do fall, I get back up; I don’t want to end up on the proverbial couch again.

As I am going through this life I look across time and I see the lights of my home: heaven. Those lights say to me, “Keep running you are almost there.” The Holy Spirit whispers in my ear, “Keep running, it is all worth it, just run until tonight.” Then tomorrow he says, “Just run until tonight again.” And because of that, we run together and each day gets me one step closer to home. Each day the running gets easier.

My house is a home

my-living-roomWhen I get home from running with Bruce, I walk into a home. I ran to a house, but I walk into a home. The house is the structure; the home is what my wife has made it. The house draws me; the home welcomes me. Honestly when I think of Jesus preparing a place for me, I don’t think house or mansion like so many do, I think “HOME.” He made me a home; a place to come in and crash, a welcoming place that is safe, and protects me, and is where I belong.

Paul wrote to the Hebrews,
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”                    Hebrews 12:1

Keep running friend, just to the lights.

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That Andy Stanley!!

LET’S MAKE A MESS

Ok, Let’s see what I can do here. I have made some messes in my life so I think I am img_8534qualified to screw this up with my opinion as well.

I was recently asked about my opinion of an on going discussion of Andy Stanley’s comments concerning the Bible, more specifically a blog response (as kind as it was) to Andy’s sermon.

“Preparation H” is not for Oral use

I think I would start with something as rare as straight up common sense. Common Sense, you remember what that was right? Maybe? Vaguely? (Your grandma can tell you what it is go ask her or another adult over 50.) If not then you are the reason they had to put “Not meant for oral use on the “Preparation H” tube; a medicine meant for your rectum (another word you may have to look up.) “Caution contents are HOT” on the HOT coffee that you just ordered because you wanted a HOT breakfast drink.

There was NO Bible

So how does this play into the Andy Stanley discussion? Common sense tells us that the Bible was canonized in one form by Marcion in circa 140ad, then the Apostolic cannon began to be common in the third century. There appears to be at least, at least 110-170 years from Jesus until anyone created a “Bible” to carry and quote from. Now, Paul’s letters were floating around, and some of the others as well. (What we call “Books” of the New Testament) But lets be honest, very, very few people had access to these writings. So the “Bible” was not the reason for salvation. It was not the cornerstone for Salvation; oral tradition was. The main point of the oral tradition was the fact they shared that God resurrected Jesus from the dead. It is a historically written fact that he was seen by the disciples, and then by more than five hundred other people. (1 Cor 15:6)

This is common sense based upon chronology and fact. People came to a salvation knowledge of Jesus as their Lord and Savior before there was ever a Bible. Period. Thousands upon thousands of people; not just a few.

Peter preached experience

Peter stands up in Acts 2 and thousands get saved after he preaches and quotes a scripture from Jewish tradition. He doesn’t expound on the Scripture, he uses it to reference what is happening in Jerusalem. Then he preaches what they experienced for 3 plus years, and people repented and got baptized.

Jesus frees the Gadarene demonic in Luke 8:26-39. When Jesus goes to leave, this man wants to be his disciple and come with him. Jesus denies the man and tells him to go home and TELL people what Jesus did for him. He didn’t “Sunday school” the man, he didn’t give him a Bible, he didn’t teach him “Seven spiritual Laws” or tell him how to do a proper exegesis of scripture. He sent him with the mission to share his story: oral tradition. People got saved, I am sure, because of this man’s testimony that God healed him through Jesus.

Common sense people.

Now that there are not people with their own first century experience with Jesus telling us their stories, I believe that God saw to it that the Bible was canonized. Canonized by men? Absolutely. Men who are broken themselves? Yes! But God is God and God can see to it that this Word is exactly what he expects, even if Balaam’s Ass had written it! (get off your high horse, that’s an Asian animal, look that up as well)

So?

So if you are asking me, I have no problem with what Pastor Stanley said in this sermon. Accepting Jesus’ words as a child does not include all of the “things” we do to split the theological hairs of the Bible. My faith is in Jesus Christ and God’s resurrection of his Son after he sacrificed himself for me. In the bread, my sins are paid for. In the blood I have been given a NEW COVENANT and welcomed back into the family. I am a child of God with or with out a written document. I do not “believe” just because the Bible says so. I believe this because it is the truth. I was “told it” before I ever “read it” for myself. I am glad God had someone record it so I can keep studying it. But if there were no Bible, I would still believe, just like the thousands upon thousands that believed before the Bible was written AND/OR canonized.

The Bible is not the problem

While I do think that we are moving quickly into a post Christian culture, I don’t see the problem affirming that I have a document (the Bible) that helps remind me of the teachings of the Christ. This is no different than any religion or government, or company bylaws that exist today. Unlike Andy Stanley, I do not believe that today’s young people are writing off the Bible (though there will always be some that need to prove every dot and every tittle), no, the detriment that is coming out of the Christian church, causing this generation to “write off” (sorry about that pun) the Bible, is the Christians lack of adherence to it themselves.

Christian people are killing the church

The Church teaches Jesus but then turns around and ignores that parts they don’t want to live and die for. The church rationalizes Jesus teachings to fit their comfort, convenience and cash. The very Christians that are crying out against Andy Stanley, are they the same ones that won’t go into missions, won’t tithe and give generously, won’t love their enemies and won’t die for the cause of Christ, instead they kill for their Bible culture. Are these the same people that read Malachi and then divorce their spouses for all the non-biblical reasons they can come up with? As if “I’m not happy” or “I deserve better than this” is why Jesus died?

When the church repents, the world will take Jesus seriously.

The resurrection supersedes the Bible. Paul’s letter to Timothy in 2Timothy 3:16 is a reference to what we today call the Old Testament. The New Testament wasn’t written people. I do believe it was prophetic though, speaking of the Bible to come.

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” I believe this. I am glad for the record. The Bible is God’s Word to us, it is consistent and allows us to “recalculate” our lives.

God raised Jesus from the dead, THAT truth is why I am a follower of Christ,  I heard it through the Bible.

IT COULD BE ME?

Lion roaring1 Peter 5:8
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

I want to go HOME

I sit here in my favorite coffee shop looking out at the world and I struggle to even want to be here. When I say “here” I mean, “on the planet,” not here in the coffee shop. The coffee shop feels safe, it feels friendly, it feels comfortable. It is small and for whatever reason I feel protected, like I do in my home. My home is safe, my wife makes it a refuge. When I am here or there the “ugly” is far away. There is no hate allowed here at the coffee shop. Everyone is welcome to come here. They will love you and serve you and make you a coffee that will rock your world.

But I cannot live here in this oasis and last week was terrible in our hemisphere. I don’t think it compares to things going on in other parts of the world: the starvation, wars, kidnapping, mutilations and the bombings and genocide. But that doesn’t make it less real.

I CAN FEEL IT

I feel the evil affecting my soul again and I have to reach deep to shake myself. Then today I woke up to a pastor falling to alcoholism and it just touched me hard. I don’t idolize him. I have been to his church conference and it was good. I don’t care for some of his theologies, (surely the kingdom of God is not about punching people in the throat or shooting them if they enter his home) but hey, I like his preaching and I like that he is sold out to the kingdom work in a large, get off your butt and do it big, sort of way. I love that he appears to spell faith, “RISK.” I appreciate that he gave and gave and gave. I really appreciate that he inspired me at one point in my own ministry. But, my heart hurts for him and I feel afraid, and yes, I know this fear is not from God.

There have been times

This pastor IS still a leader; as pastors we are all leaders. Leaders in a war we can barely see, but we see better than the average church go-er. The battle worn, the mutilated, the broken, the chewed upon, they walk into our offices every day. At times we can jump to it and bind up the weary and the broken hearted, comfort and bless, and at times we have no clue what to do or how to help. Sometimes we watch people switch sides in the battle and at times we watch people walk away wondering, “What could I have done better?” Beating ourselves up believing we failed, or thinking we “could have, should have,” and yet, we aren’t God. And If I can be honest without being needy, at times I have envied those that could throw up their hands and walk away. I would dare say there are times I have longed to be able to do that.

As I think about this man and his ministry to so many, I am aware of Peter warning us all that Satan, a very personal accuser, is a roaring lion, but he is not just running around or laying around making noise, no, he is seeking some to devour, to destroy.

Could that be me?

I cannot help but glance around and wonder when and how he will come after me. For I know my calling is to give him reason. Will he wreck my life today? Can I remain focused through the negativity thrown at our local leadership, the world attacking our local church and the hate being spewed across all the news venues, as well as standing against my own temptations? Will he sneak up when I least suspect it and destroy everything God has allowed me to be a part of? And if he were to succeed, then what of the church (the people), what of those that work here and have their income here? The weight, the fear, it can be incredibly unbearable at times.
This is the fear that haunts me daily as I hear King David saying,

                   “5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
                      sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
                       6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
                      you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
                      7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
                      wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
                                                      Psalm 51

He has given me a hope

What is our hope then? Who can be called his son or his daughter that is born of this world? There is none, no not one, that is righteous enough in and of themselves to enter heaven; to dwell with God. We all stand condemned whether it is in thought or deed; we all were born evil, sinful and lost. We all need a rescuer, a savior and I for one am grateful that God sent one.

I am in need as well

I have not yet preached a sermon, done a deed, planned an outreach, sacrificed, given or paid for something, nor led a person to Christ, or any other thing that would even catch God’s attention, let alone impress him to allow me to enter his presence. My good “things” will never outweigh the dirt on my soul, the selfish intent of my heart nor the greed in my spirit. I need a savior. I need Jesus more than anyone else on this planet.

lion in the grassSo today I look around and tentatively, with great fear, I stare into the tall grass of this world, looking for a telltale sign of a lion. Is that a shadow of something prowling? Is that the swish of grass, dragging down the side of my soul’s predator, as he moves closer for the pounce? Today will I be the focused attention of such a vile spirit? Is it greed, or lust, pride, or idolatry about to break forth from the grass and kill me?

Of the tribe of Judah

My hope is in the Lion next to me: The Lion of the tribe of Judah in whose shadow I run. In whose name I have life. Praise God his love was sacrificial and daily transforming. Praise God almighty that his name is

“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”

Praise God he knows my name, and though the enemy may wound me, he cannot take my life, for I have given it freely to my Lord, it belongs to him. But I still fear the wound the enemy may cause; so I watch.

Cry with me, pray with me

Today my souls cries in pain for this pastor that I love, that does not know me. Today I know, there but for the grace of God go I. Today I do not get haughty or take any joy, for that could just as quickly be me.
Today I am aware that I need your prayers just like this pastor does.

 

 

 

I don’t Care What the Bible Says?

Danger! Sarcastic Pastor on prescription medicines, on a rant, with a keyboard.
Enter at your own risk!

Come, Follow Me

Danger_Enter_At_Your_Own_Risk

God almighty is seated on his throne in Heaven and he has a plan. He invites you to join that plan. Get it? YOU join God’s plan.
As Christians we yield to Jesus’ words, “Come, follow me.” He does not yield to us.

COME

“Come” means you are leaving somewhere. It may be geographical, spiritual, emotional, financial … But something is going to change. I know you probably don’t like change. That very fact is why I see people post over and over that, “people are leaving the church.” I’m not seeing people leaving the church. I’m seeing people leaving institutions run by people that have no apparent desire to move forward and grow spiritually. I’m seeing people leaving institutions that want to tell the exact same story, the exact same way, with the exact same reaction, singing the exact same songs. Like God himself froze time in the 1700’s.

FOLLOW

“Follow” means you aren’t in charge. With the democratization of the church in America it is amazing what people call structure and organization. “If I don’t have a say on what color the hinge bolts are on the toilet seats in the ladies bathroom, well then I’m gonna find a new church.” Or, “If I can’t use my gifts my way and be in charge then I’m clearly not wanted.” Following is a hard thing. Everyone isn’t gifted or called to do the thing they may want to do. It doesn’t mean they don’t have a part. To follow you have to submit, and let’s be honest, we don’t like that do we? Somehow we think that the church is supposed to have or be, a House of Representatives and that isn’t even biblical. It’s sad to see people going from church to church, leaving wreckage in their wake, and yet taking little to no responsibility for what THEY are doing. I’ve always told church planters, “if they come in mad, they will leave mad.” It’s been true 100% of the time so far.

ME

“Me.” One of these days we will capture the idea, the philosophy of ministry, understanding the truth that the Gospel IS ALL ABOUT JESUS. Not you, not me, not what I want, but it is about God’s plan and HE expects us to be faithful to his words. Your life, your money, your “plans,” your children, your relationships, your expectations, everything about you is supposed to be surrendered to Christ when you become a Christian. EVERYTHING. But as Christians I still see the, “God’s about to bless my every waking moment” theology being “meme’d” to death. What part of Jesus’ disciples life and death shows you that being a disciple of Christ is getting the big house, the big car, the new jet, the profitable job, the free education or anything else we can think of? (God could do that, but it comes with great responsibility to invest back into the Kingdom
of God.) That wasn’t the example of the disciples though was it? Boiled in oil, crucified upside down, beheaded, exiled, imprisoned, stoned, shipwrecked, losing homes, lands, spouses, children and whole families being imprisoned.
And we have brought it to the idea that it is all about me. God has a plan for my life because my life is the center of the universe?
Seriously? And you don’t have time to witness to your co-worker, your family? When was the last time to prayed for a stranger, invited someone to church, shared the gospel? When did you last fast or pray for more than a moment? When did you sell everything you have give to the poor and then take a new turn in life. When was the last time you asked God who you could give TO rather than gi’me, gi’me?

Jesus was crystal clear

Jesus was crystal clear. Come, Follow ME.
Look around you today. All these Facebook posts about the toilet apocalypse, the end of “my” politics, the love of most growing cold, it’s all in the Word. But then, we’d have to read the word wouldn’t we? After that Jesus expects us to obey that word doesn’t he.
Crazy how many people say God is dead-serious about homosexuality (and he is) but those same people make all kinds of excuses and reasonings AGAINST Jesus’ specific words to LOVE YOUR ENEMY. Crystal clear. Needs no interpretation.

I don’t care what the Bible says?

Maybe, just maybe, your life and your church hopping, your messed up children, your loss of marriage, your upside down finances are actually a result of you following your made up God. Maybe, just maybe, when Jesus says “Come, follow me” he really expects that and when you meet him face to face, that is exactly what he is going to talk to you about.

One of the saddest moments I have experienced from a Christian was years ago when he demanded that I preach that alcohol consumption was a sin. In the course of our conversation I said I couldn’t preach that because the Bible doesn’t say that. His exact words, that he blurted out in the frustration that I wouldn’t do what he asked were, “I don’t care what the Bible says, …”
(Deep breath, let it out slowly) there in lies the problem.
What about you today?

You waded all the way through this. What is God asking of you today?

Broken shoelaces

I woke up this morning and let the dogs out. Then they get fed, sooner or later it is off to the the coffee shop to meet the city. I love this city. I have the privilege of being one of many pastors in this town. Thankfully I’m not one on a denominational track of changing churches every once in a while. (last I heard was, less than 4 years was the average stay for a pastor at a given church in America) I have been in this town for the past 13 years and I have fallen in love with it. The rhythm, the people, the university, the coffee shop; all of it.

My Shoelace is broken

As I was sitting at the table talking and visiting, the conversation turned to leaders, and positions, and attitudes, and I was suddenly aware that my left shoelace is broken and tied in a knot. I remember when I got up this morning and put my shoes on I was frustrated IMG_7742that my shoelace needed to be replaced, in the mean time, I needed to get to work so I tied it in a knot.

Pertinent to the conversation? I think so. I looked at the person across from me at the table and said, “My shoelace is tied in a knot because it is broken.” They looked at me funny and said, “What does that have to do with the conversation?” “Everything,” I replied. “Everything!”

I am not better than anybody else.

I am a leader and yet, my shoe lace is broken. There is also dirt on the bottom of my shoe, and I have owned this particular shirt for a couple of years now. While life has taken a wonderful turn for my wife and I over the past year, I am just a guy on a mission that will not be deterred, but I am not better than anybody else. I am not more perfect than anybody else. And while my “holiness” (look up the word) is growing daily, I am not more holy than anyone else that claims the name of Jesus and still lives here on Earth.

I am not so special that God chose me for this line of work, at this moment in time, I am just hungry and available. The shoelace is a reminder that I am no better than anyone else on this planet. My role is not my identity, it is my calling, it is my lifestyle. While I do understand that being a leader means to be held to a higher standard by God, my concern is that people also think this role should be put on a pedestal. Look UP to people that are further down the road than you are, but do not look TO them, they are just humans; look to God.

“Never trust a leader who doesn’t walk with a limp.”

I heard a friend of mine once say, “Never trust a leader who doesn’t walk with a limp.” There is a lot of truth in that statement. We all have weaknesses in our lives. (broken shoelaces) For some reason the church is full of people who think that being given the title, “Pastor,” or even, “elder,” means hiding their imperfections and weakness, having all the answers, living perfect, speaking in monotone, being better than everyone else, or even taking whatever spiritual beating someone wishes to pour out upon them. How many times have I been at the end of a haranguing by a church member and when I said, “No,” to the request, the response was, “And you call yourself a Pastor?”

Their broken shoelace is their need to be loved

Others in leadership think it means celebrating and almost reveling in their brokenness as a means of being compassionate and relating to the sinners. These people can’t define grace, the Gospel, or the call to transformation, because the people they are “ministering to” might not like or love them. Their broken shoelace is their need to be loved, and they are using this position to gain that. Their congregants might reject their invitation to the Cross, the community, or communion, and they can’t live with that.

 

Your pastor, regardless of how well they carry themselves, is just a human being. If they are honest, they struggle with everything you struggle with: feelings of inadequacy, fear of failure, addictions, finances, feeling beat up by the church, family management, loneliness, weight issues, health issues, stress possibly beyond your level, and the list goes on.

 

I’m not looking to garner pity. I’m not trying to get you to celebrate or patronize your leadership. I just want to help you to be aware that their shoelace is broke and they need your prayer, your help, and your friendship. They can afford a new shoelace; they just haven’t gotten to it yet due to all the “stuff” going on in regular life. So I guess, maybe I am inviting you to back off a little bit.  Remember or be aware, they limp just like you do. If they don’t limp, don’t trust them.

 

Uncle Larry's CorvetteI limp. My name is Joe, plain old Joe. I’m the guy that works beside you, the one you pass every day on the streets. I am a broken individual that Jesus rescued from a dark pit. He lifted me out of that slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to my God, that many would see and fear and put their trust in HIM (not ME). I will never forget that.

 

I am not better than you or deeper than you. I don’t have more Jesus than you, and I am certainly not more “Elite” than you. I am saved by God, like you, or like you can be. Not because we are good, but because we need a savior. We all need to be clean from our sin. Jesus is that cleaner. He suffered the beating and wrath that we are due, so we would NEVER have to go through it.

 

Pray for my broken shoelace, please don’t ever think I will judge you for your broken shoelace, but I know where we can get our shoelaces fixed. For that reason, I was called, commissioned and empowered.

CUT IT, BURN IT, POUR IT OUT

DO IT

I had the opportunity today to be out and about in some of my favorite spots. I over heard a man say that there was something he would like but he was still negotiating with his wife about the purchase. Let’s admit it, some of us have to spend much time gently convincing our spouse that what we WANT is actually a NEED. It doesn’t always work. Not motorcycles however, those are prescribed for men by God. In any case, I heard the Lord very quickly let me know that I had the ability in the moment to meet this person’s want; so I did. Why?

Jesus doesn’t want my latte’

We are doing kind of an “anti-Lent” on the way to Easter here at our church. We aren’t Lent-haters, I promise. With a little bit of study, you can see that Lent is really an extra biblical church activity. I struggle with Lent a lot because I really don’t see how letting go of my coffee habit is going to somehow connect me to the sufferings of Jesus leading up to his crucifixion. I already cannot fathom his depth of pain and suffering, I don’t think he wants my latte’.

What we are doing instead is looking at four things that Jesus DID do all along his way to the cross. He invited people to follow him, he invited people to give, he invited people to serve, and he invited people to celebrate.

Lamb of GodSacrifice

This week is all about Giving, specifically, sacrifice. Do we ever sacrifice? In biblical days they knew what that meant. You grab a sheep, a goat, a jar of grain, some herbs or spices, maybe even a child or some other livestock and you bring it to the temple and leave it there in the hands of the priest. You gave it to God. It was cut up, burnt, poured out, cast outside, gone. That means you went without it. It cost something, and it hurt a little bit to do that.

Going without

The truth is, I used to think of sacrifice as giving, but not the other part, the going-without-because-you-gave-it-away part. Sacrifice means I don’t have something any more. So if I sacrifice money, then I cannot spend it. I don’t have it. A guy once said, “You can only spend money once.” What a genius. I say that because not everyone I know (certainly not me a while ago) believed that. Sacrifice means that you are going to do without something. In this case so that you can give it to God, or someone in need, or want.

Not just money

Sacrifice is not always just about money. You can sacrifice your pride, your time, your energy, your love, your dreams, your desires, your attitude, there are a lot of things you can sacrifice. When you do sacrifice them, you don’t get to use them again. Think about time. If I were to sacrifice my money, I could earn a little more to make up for it. But, if I sacrifice my time, I can never get it back. When I stop what I am doing and love on someone by spending time or working for them, I can never get that time back again. I let it go, I gave it away as an act of worship.

“PRODIGAL”

Sacrifice isn’t always only for desperate people. We are not called to only help or give to people who are destitute. Sometimes we need to be like God and remember that he described himself as lavish. The story of the “Prodigal” in the Bible is actually a story of a “Prodigal” father, not a prodigal son. The lavish, wanton, ridiculous love of the father that took the boy back was the focus of the message. I don’t know why people always focus on the boy, he isn’t the context of the metaphor. The sacrificial LOVE of the Father is the message, the point of why “who-so-ever-will” may come.

The life that Jesus came to give you and I, according to John 10:10 is described in the Greek word, “Perssisos”. Look it up.

 

What sacrifice do you bring to God this year at Easter? Who do you sacrifice for intentionally to love God?

 

Think about it.

Peace be with you

feet of JesusThe “Butt-inski”

As two of Jesus’ disciples walked along on that very first easter day, they were met by a traveler. A guy. A man headed in the same direction they were going. He walked along with them for  a while as they were headed to a town named Emmaus. This man walked up into a conversation they were having about Jesus himself. They were disturbed by some things that the ladies had said to them, and honestly, based upon this description of the conversation, I would say they appeared to have serious doubts.

He hears their doubts and challenges them

As the stranger interacts with them, they end up kind of incredulous that he appeared to be uninformed about the weekend events. In true hospitable fashion they take it upon themselves to inform him. So they tell him all about Jesus, what he did, the miracles, how he was arrested and killed, then buried. I’m sure they told him what Jesus meant to them personally. This guy, this stranger that walked with them, listened, interacted, asked questions and heard them. The stranger hears their doubts. He then challenges their doubts and unfolds the scriptures for them. When it is all said and done, He ends up at their supper, breaking bread with them, and it is only then that they realize Jesus has been walking with them all along. Immediately Jesus disappears.

Out of their element …

They were walking and lamenting the loss of their leader, their lord, their friend, and there was no way that they were going to believe he was right there. I have often asked myself why Mary at the tomb, and these guys here on the road, didn’t recognize Jesus? Then I remember all the times that I have been somewhere and someone comes up to me, or I go up to someone, and realize who they are.  Out of their normal element or relationship, I do not recognize them. Then it hits me, this is “Bill!”

I think that is exactly what is going on here. They saw Jesus buried, he cannot be here, so that doesn’t even enter their minds. I don’t know what a post burial, resurrected, but pre-ascension body looks like, but they certainly saw him when he broke the bread, when he was “In his element.” Handing out communion he was Jesus again, and Jesus alive!!

What about you?

I wonder how many times we miss God in our lives, miss Jesus doing a work, miss the Holy spirit because he belongs in Church on Sunday morning. Here we are going through our week, maybe we have a spouse and we are doing our daily thing, chasing kids, a quick kiss before we leave for work, maybe a fight and we are immediately in a tension. A flat tire and the day feels wrecked, or work is just piling up and we don’t feel appreciated, no one cares so we melt into the old pit of wallowing; no one likes me, no one notices, I’ll never get ahead. God where are you?

“… and I know that there are angels all around …”

It is at times like these that we miss seeing God in our lives. We end up so focused on our want, our need or our loss, or our problems, that we don’t lift our eyes up and look at who is walking around us. Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

Look!

The Kingdom of God is here. Jesus said it is near, it is coming and it is in you. Jesus is in the Kingdom, so Jesus IS here. The Holy Spirit is in the Kingdom, so the Holy Spirit IS here. Angels are in the kingdom, so angels ARE here. I want to encourage you to lift your chin and look around. God is here in your midst. In the middle of your daily struggle, in the middle of your need to make a decision, in the middle of your fight with your spouse. He is here at work. He is here in your doubt and despair.  He will never leave you alone, but we may be choosing not to believe he could be here.
Cry for nigeriaAs you travel on this road to your Emmaus, that stranger, that song, that group pf people, that church, that co-worker, God is using them to speak to you, to support you, to love you, but you have to open your eyes and believe. Stop what you are doing right now and ask God to open your eyes.