Nakedness

Have you ever hurt someone so deeply that you’ve done damage?  Usually wounds result in defenses.  Defenses result in more wounds.  The relationship, that maybe has lasted years, dies a painful death.

When a close friend, who knows the deep parts of us, is suddenly (or sometimes subtlety) stripped from our hearts, the exposure is a raw vulnerable feeling of shame.  We feel naked.  The closer the relationship, the deeper the feeling.  The walls go up to protect the raw, exposed, damaged heart and a hardness settles in to protect it.  Over time we become someone we did not intend to be.  The scab that covers the wound is the only covering we can offer the shame of our nakedness.

I’ve been on both sides of that.  Maybe you have too.  Nobody stays clean in a mud fight. (more…)

Practical Surrender

I met a man in Rwanda, a prison chaplain named Thomas.  Thomas serves in a prison that houses some of the perpetrators from the Genocide of 1994.  Many of the prison chaplains in Rwanda serve some of the very people who murdered members of their own families.  These men and women are the truest kind of heroes.

Thomas told a story of when he was a cattle farmer.  His family owned many cows and felt blessed by God to be so fortunate.  One particular year they had many calves.  But soon after some of the calves were born, they were slaughtered in the night.  Thomas knew the killer was a witch doctor that lived in his village, so he approached this man to confront him.  Denying the charges, the witch doctor reported Thomas to the authorities for falsely accusing him (a crime in his country).  Thomas was asked to appear before a judge at the end of the week, so he fled to the woods to pray for three days.  Repeatedly, Thomas cried out to God for justice and defense.  He asked God to make this all go away.  He owned his fear and offered it to the Lord.  He owned his anger and offered it to the Lord.  Finally, Thomas said that he offered the outcome, whatever it may be, to the Lord.  (more…)

HDJL – How Did Jesus Live?

Remember when you could buy WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelets at 7-Eleven?  For so long it was such a catch-phrase that it lost its meaning entirely.  It helped us remember that Jesus would not slap the clerk who gave us the wrong change, or run over the person who cut us off in traffic.  Jesus, we know, would not do that.  But Jesus did not wear pants or eat chocolate either.  Hmmm… (more…)

Holding It Together

“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”  (Colossians 1:17).  Just as a wheel finds it shape and strength in its design around the hub, everything that is real finds its being and definition around Jesus.

Our finite little brains tend to think linearly and in terms of efficient outcomes.  Like learning the rules to a new game, we strategize about how to play well in this Christian life game.  When we pray, we have thought through what is required for a specific outcome and we are asking God to be the supplier of whatever is missing for our outcome to work.  So what’s wrong with that?  Shouldn’t we pray for God to fill in the missing pieces?  Doesn’t He promise to answer when we ask?  So why doesn’t He every time?  Sometimes it seems He has disappeared.  How does this game work? (more…)

He Is!

As I work through the Book of John in the New Testament, I’ve discovered a common theme that I never noticed before.  Jesus talks a lot about who He is.  In John 6, the crowds ask Him for a sign so they know how to believe Him.  They reminded Jesus about how God provided them manna from heaven to sustain them.  They asked Jesus for bread from heaven.  Jesus responds by saying, “I am the Bread of Life.” He is the Source. (more…)

He is Alive! He is Alive, Indeed!

So what does this really mean?  Why is this day so important to those of us who follow Christ?  Why is this about so much more than bunnies and eggs?  Why?  Because the resurrection changes absolutely everything.

The cross was God’s mercy.  Jesus paid our debt.  It’s like someone paying off your mortgage after you have lost everything in a fire…that you started.  When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He was saying that the sin debt I owed was paid in full. (more…)

Jesus the Friend

Peter has always been one of my favorite disciples.  Between Peter and John, I always get a good laugh when I read the Gospels.  Peter, the impulsive, passionate, will-try-anything-once guy finds himself in trouble a lot.  Remember when Jesus asked him to walk on the water?  Without thinking, he jumps out of the boat and walks on the water.  Then, he starts thinking.  Oops.

When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, it was Peter who cut of the guard’s ear.  Gross.  Jesus once again had to fix Peter’s impulsive actions.  (more…)

Remembering

Having grown up a Gentile, a non-Jew, I have never fully grasped the full impact of what this Good Friday means.  Recently, I have been studying the book of Hebrews and have learned some things that shed huge amounts of light on the significance of today.  Good Friday is the day we reflect on the death of Jesus and what that means.

In Hebrews 9 and 10, the author is explaining the tabernacle of the Jews and the role that Jesus plays within that context.  The Old Testament tabernacle, built by Moses under the explicit instructions of God, was built as a copy of the true tabernacle in heaven.  Somehow, all the parts, dimensions, and purposes serve to copy an actual place in heaven.  (more…)

Washing and Service

As I continue to read through the last week of Jesus’ life on earth, I come to the passage in John 13 when Jesus is washing the feet of His disciples.  When He gets to Peter, a powerful conversation occurs.  Peter feels uncomfortable allowing Jesus to serve him in this way.  He stops Jesus and says, “Never shall You wash my feet!”  A blatant refusal, Peter does not understand what is happening.  Jesus replies, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

What does that mean?   (more…)

Abiding

I have observed that often Jesus answered people’s issues not with a specific outcome, but with Himself.  Here’s what I mean:

John 11, as we looked at a few days ago, tells the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead.  Martha, in her grief, unable to receive Jesus’ reassurance that Lazarus would rise from the dead, answers Him saying, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”  Jesus makes a profound statement.  He states, “I am the resurrection and the life.”  In John 14, Thomas asks Jesus to show him the way to the Father.  Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”  (more…)