Archive for the ‘Jesus’ Category

Good Friday

April 2, 2010

In the courts of the heavenlies, past the realm of time and in eternity, the Godhead sat enthroned, surrounded by thousands of angels.  These were the angels who had remained loyal after the great rebellion.  The angels were highly intelligent, highly sensitive creatures, who could have forgotten their place and fancied themselves as equals to God.  In fact a third of them did just that very thing, and were cast from heaven along with their leader, an angel named Lucifer.  Only Lucifer could still, at times, approach the throne of God when God allowed him to speak. 

The Godhead had created a cosmos.  It contained 300 billion galaxies, and in one of the galaxies, in a tiny solar system near the edge, on a tiny planet, the Godhead had created life.  There was vegetation, all kinds of animal, bird and reptile life, and an awesome creation called man.  The man was created plural, as the Godhead is.  Man had his mate, called woman.  God shared his life with the man and woman.  He walked and spoke with them in a way they could understand.  He made them a little lower than the angels, not so intelligent as the angels, and not so sensitive, yet intelligent enough that God could have partnership with them.  Yet, the man and woman had also rebelled against God.  They believed a lie of Lucifer instead of the truth of God, to whom they owed everything.  Why?  The lie was enticing.  They could become equal to God–the very thing Lucifer had tried to do.  Lucifer, who had spat out the words to his creator: “I will not serve you”, now tried to recruit followers and had been successful.  

The thousands of loyal angels were watching.  The rebellious angels had been driven from the heavenlies and from God’s presence.  What would God do to the man and woman?  Justice demanded the same treatment for the man and woman, spiritual death, unless justice could be satisfied in some other way.  The second person of the Godhead offered himself in place of the man and woman.     He would become human as they were, and enter life on the earth.  He would taste death so they would never have to.  The angels were satisfied and praised God for His great love, justice and mercy.  But Lucifer, now called Satan, wasn’t satisfied.  He hated God and he hated the humans.  He stepped forward and described the crucifixion.  It was a horrifying thing, and the gasp echoed through the courts of heaven.  It was satanically inspired cruelty.  And Satan threw down the challenge.  “You would never love them that much!”  The second person of the Godhead answered, “my love is infinite.  I will do this.  I will go.”  And he did go, as Jesus, all the way to the cross and endured it in all its hideousness.  It was literally the worst Satan could have devised.  Jesus died, so we will never have to experience death.  And the Father showed His acceptance.  The veil of the temple, which had always separated man and God was split in two from the top down.  Jesus was raised from death on Easter morning, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father to rule and reign over all the creation.  And Lucifer, now called Satan, lost.  He still wanders the earth, trying to deceive humans through pride (you are divine) or through lies about God’s character (God doesn’t exist, God doesn’t care, God doesn’t love you).  But Satan has lost the war.  Whatever he says can be refuted by God’s people using God’s words.  And he no longer has any power to harm us without our permission.  So, arise dear soul.   God won, and so have we.  Live for God’s glory and bask in His Love.

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Jesus in my Purse

March 26, 2010

Crazy Love by Francis Chan is one of the most profoundly life-changing books I have ever read.  It is truly counter-culture, both in terms of American culture and Christian culture.  Ultimately it asks, “How much do you love Jesus?”  How much do we think we love Jesus?  How much do we love the real Jesus?  How much of our love is devoted to a Jesus who fits our own image of what a God should be?

I think American women really want a Jesus they can fit into their purse.  If Jesus can fit into my purse, the convenience is amazing.  He’s small enough that I can carry him wherever I go, not a big God who (God forbid) carries me!  He’s  easily hidden so he doesn’t show up and embarrass me.  I take him when I please, and leave him home if he’s too much trouble to drag around wherever I’m going.  If  he’s with me, I want him to be sort of like a small spray can.  If I’m lacking confidence, poof!  I have it.  If I’m scared, poof!  I have  courage.  If I’m feeling weak, poof!  I have the Power!!  If I need money, the right words, a parking place, I name it and poof!  I have what I need instantly.  Oh yes, I’m grateful.  I’m always saying “Thank you Jesus!”  People think I’m really religious since they hear my thanks so often.  I even try to do things for Jesus to keep him happy there in my purse.  God forbid he should jump out and quit taking care of me.

Oh wait!  I have just broken the second commandment and broken it in a huge way.  I’ve made a Jesus in my image.  This is NOT the Jesus who came to earth to teach me who HE is and what HE wants of me.  This is not the Jesus who “set his face like flint” and headed to Calvary so He could die for me and the boatload of silly, selfish, foolish users just like me who treat the Lord of Heaven and Earth like my personal assistant.  This is not the Jesus who asked me if I would take up my cross and follow him.  This is not the Jesus who told me to love God with all my heart(passion), all my soul (emotion), all my mind (faith), and all my strength (commitment), and actually commanded me to love the other person (any other person in need) as much as I love myself.  No, the real Jesus won’t ever fit in my purse, and I have to ask if He will fit in my puny life.  My life is about keeping my shoes clean, looking good and not breaking a nail.  My life is the life of a “nice” lady who is only beginning to realize the depth of her sin and the enormity of the loving grace of Jesus.

Prayer During Lent

March 12, 2010

Jesus, how incredibly difficult it must have been for you, in your humanity, to face all you did in your earthly ministry.  You faced opposition everywhere you went .  Leadership was waiting for a chance to trip you up, dripping with criticism, sarcasm and hate.  The mob was filled with cynics and skeptics with attitudes ranging from “ho-hum, another populist” to “show us a miracle–impress us!” Much of the mob wanted only something for themselves.  Some was legitimate: people who needed an illness cured, for example.  However, many only wanted someone to take care of them so they could give up the responsibility of taking care of themselves.  And everywhere–sin.  Yet, you served and you loved.  In your divinity you healed.  In your humanity, you got tired, hot, hungry, thirsty and frustrated.  It was a trial beyond our understanding, to have to deal with all our sin all the time.  But you did, until it cost you your life in the most tortuous way of death.  Thank you Jesus for loving like no one has before, or since, or ever will again.  I’m humbled to realize I will never be able to love you as you deserve.  Help me at least begin.

What is Worship

March 8, 2010

This morning’s message was on worship.  While taking notes, I made lots of my own observations–reflections on the reflection, so to speak.  Anyway, a “fleshed out” version of my total note page follows.

What is worship?  The pastor likes the definition “loving God back”.  I like that too.  How can worship even be worship without love?  How can a phone call to a parent, made out of duty and without love have any value at all?  If I’m loving God back, it explains why the scripture tells us to “lift up holy hands”.  A little child lifts up its hands to its parent, saying “pick me up”, “I want you”, “I want us to hug”.  Since we are to come to our heavenly father as little children, lifting up our hands conveys all that childlike emotion and desire.

God loved me even before I was formed.  The scripture says God watched my formation and recorded the prenatal events in his book.  How like a pregnant mother!  That is love!!  I want to love him back with my whole heart.  How can I do that?  Love requires expression for its life.  How can I express that love to God?

I can offer God my whole day.  If I think of my daily life as an offering, it changes the way I see it.  In this day of offering, I can look for “divine appointments”.  I can be on watch for things God would like to show me.  I can be primed to show gratitude and appreciation for the things, people and events all around, for which I owe God thanks.  I can ask for and watch for an opportunity to share God’s love with someone else who needs that encouragement.  I can also watch for opportunities to serve God’s kingdom in some way.  I can be aware of the need to be loved–my own and that of others.  Everyone wants love and everyone wants to belong to something wonderful and bigger than themselves.  Everyone actually wants Jesus, although they can argue they don’t.  They aren’t being honest about what is keeping them from Him.  Jesus always demands that honesty, and will go right to the heart of that issue if we aren’t too busy pushing Him away.  When he probes us, sharp though it is, He always touches us with His tenderness.

Jesus said God wants worship in Spirit and Truth.  We worship in truth when we use our intellect.  It is based in growing knowledge of God and His ways.  Worship in spirit is emotional and is based on growing love and appreciation of God.  The “AHA” moments of discovery involve worship in truth.  The misty eyes and lump in the throat involve worship in Spirit.  We can’t have one without the other.   Spirit without truth results in emotional excess (there is such a thing), and  Truth without spirit results in dead intellectualism.  (I think its the reason theological schools can produce agnostics). 

Its not up to us to figure out how to worship God.  It is responding to God who moves first.  We worship as God instructs us both in the scripture and by His Spirit.  Its our spirit connecting to God’s Spirit.

Why do people find church boring ?  They don’t come expecting to meet God there.  They come for a bundle of other reasons, but don’t come to show their love to the God they already know and appreciate.  Worship is never about us, never for what we receive, and God forbid not about our entertainment.  Its about God’s Spirit touching our spirit, and when that happens, the worship style is irrelevant.  We can be touched in formal “high church” as well as a noisy “rock church”.  All that matters is coming into God’s presence, letting ourselves be open to God and grateful to Him, and the fruit of that is more love.  Its the love that the world will see on Monday.  If not, something was missing on Sunday.

God and the Earthquakes

March 1, 2010

Yesterday our pastor asked if we were “clapping for God”.  In other words, were we worshipful, appreciative, and grateful to God.  My first thought was all the questions people would ask about the recent earthquakes.  If we clap for God’s goodness and His beautiful creation, what can we say about the earthquakes?

Earthquakes can mean at least three things.  First, what if God is not completely good, at least as far as we can see?  Second, what if God is not all powerful?  Third, what if there is an evil power which God, for whatever reason, allows to exist?

Jesus taught there was indeed an evil power, in fact, an evil being.  He taught this evil  had definite limits put upon it; this evil  would eventually be defeated,  and we would be personally victorious over the evil power through the greater power of God.  Jesus taught that God is all good and all powerful, but lets evil live among the good, because there are purposes being worked which benefit the good.  Read his parable about the weeds and the wheat for a very profound picture of great eternal truth.

The end of the story has already been revealed.  God wins.  The outcome is already determined.  Yet, like being in the middle part of a three-part trilogy, we don’t yet see exactly how the end is all going to be accomplished.  Yet today, even living in the choke hold of the evil one, this earth still shows more than just a glimpse of the original beauty and power of the creator.  We can certainly worship God for what we do see in creation, even if it has been spoiled by the evil enemy, called Satan.

The climax of the story already occurred.  It happened 2000 years ago on a hill called Calvary where the price to be paid for restoration was paid by God Himself.  The price to redeem the universe from evil was determined in the counsels of the heavenlies, and the second person of the divinity stepped forward to pay it.  He became a human named Jesus and died the most horrendous death anyone can imagine, all for love.  I imagine the shock and surprise of  Satan, who never thought Jesus would go through with it to the death, and never thought God would love His world so much.

The verdict has been announced.  Satan is a defeated enemy.  But, we are still in that middle book of the trilogy, and the implementing of the verdict is still being carried out.  Even after the judicial imposition of a fine, an award or a sentence, the verdict must be carried out.  That is still happening in our universe.   The completion of the story, and the victory are in the third book of the trilogy.  Its been written, and God knows what is in it, for He is the author.  It is yet to be published for humankind.

Spiritual Blahs

March 1, 2010

In this season of Lent, we take time for introspection.  Just as we take stock of our relationships and our financial condition, we should also take stock of our relationship with the Lord.  If we find, as many of us do, that we have been taking this relationship for granted, then it needs work in the same way a marriage needs work.  Our primary, close relationships fail for lack of intimacy.  We have quit talking to each other, and soon realize we no longer know what is going on with the other person.  Unlike our human relationships, God always knows what is going on with us.  God always loves us unconditionally, and we can hardly expect that of another human being.  However, there is a price to pay for lack of intimacy with God.  I call it the spiritual blahs. 

Have you ever felt that God was far away, and there was no one really listening when you prayed?  Have you felt uninspired, mildly depressed and just, well, dull?  God never changes, but people change.  We change.  Staying too busy for God leaves our souls in the same condition as a plant that has been left in the darkness too long.

What to do?  Well, the cure for human distance is to start talking , and also start listening.  We can, thankfully, go to God anytime  and apologize for putting too many things on our agenda ahead of our time with Him.  We need to take some time to thank Him for all the good things He has been doing in our lives and the lives of those around us.  Then we need to tell Him, openly, honestly, and thoroughly, what is going on in our world and in our head.  He already knows, of course, but He loves to hear us open our hearts to Him.  Then we need to listen.  Sometimes we will  hear some answers in our minds and hearts.  We just “know” its Him.  We just “know”, because its in line with what we have always known about Him, and it is also in line with our best, most Christlike self.  It doesn’t stroke or appeal to our small self– the selfish, cowardly, prideful self.

The other way to listen is to  read scripture till we begin to see a picture of what He is trying to say to us.  Reading the actual words of Jesus is particularly helpful to me, but so is reading psalms and epistles.  Often I will stop and ask, “Jesus, what are you saying to me, and how do you want me to apply this to my life?”  Then being quiet, the thoughts come again.  When I pray like this, I often find things happening in my circumstances, almost as if He created a special opportunity for me to do the thing He is drawing me to do.

When I take time to pray and listen like this, the blahs disappear, and there’s an excitement in day to day living that should be normal for us, and so often is not.

The Candy Cane

February 17, 2010

What if the candy cane isn’t a cane at all, but the letter J, upside down? Legend has it that a J is what it originally was.  J stands for Jesus, “God with us”, whose birthday we celebrate December 25.  God missed us so much that He came to be with us, being born and living as a human, so that He could have a relationship with us and we humans could understand what God is really like.

The red stripes on the J represent the great love of God, who would rather die than lose a single one of us.  It did turn out that way.  He died defeating the evil one who was holding us, intent on eventually destroying us.

The white stripes on the J represent eternal life–our heavenly  home.  Anyone who has ever lost a child, and any child who has become lost from their parent knows the anguish felt until they can be reunited again and the child is safe at home.  God feels that way about us, and leans on the window of heaven day by day, watching and waiting for us.  HE can hardly wait until we are home with Him for good.

How can God allow evil?

February 14, 2010

We wonder sometimes why God allows evil, and the theologians promise us it is for a greater good.  But I always wondered how God feels when He allows that evil thing into the life of  His beloved child, even though it indeed results in greater and deeper good.  He reminds me of two episodes in my own life that reveal a parent’s heart.

When my son was seven, a specialist told us that without surgery, he would most likely lose much of his hearing.  Yet upon teling our son this news, he became terribly upset and asked me the piercing question “You can’t let them hurt me.  Don’t you love me?”  Years later another medical procedure, this time on an infant granddaughter, had me in tears in the hallway.  Each time the child’s pain and terror was for the greater good: preservation of hearing in the one case and possible preservation of life in the other.  The greater good for these children still broke my heart, as I identified with their suffering.  Might not God feel the same way?  He does.

History records that when His friend Lazarus died, Jesus wept.  (Its the shortest sentence in the bible–Jesus wept).  Jesus wasn’t weeping for his own loss.  He had already told his disciples they would see a miracle that day.  He knew He would shortly raise Lazarus from the dead.  No, He wept at the distress of Lazarus’ two sisters, Martha and Mary.  Their sorrow broke Jesus’ heart.  He knows, He cares, He identifies with us in suffering, He loves us, and ultimately He makes it up to us.

A Prayer for Usefulness

February 9, 2010

Lord, let me be Your shoes.  I want You to totally fill me with Yourself, just as a foot fills a shoe.  Then Lord, I want You to use me to carry You wherever You desire.  Shoes are always pointed in the direction their wearers want to go.  Lord, point me where You want to go.  Shoes always travel at the speed their wearer decides to travel.  Lord, pick up my speed when You wish to travel quickly, and don’t let me drag.  And hold me back when You want to move slowly, and don’t let me be tapping your toes.  I don’t mind being plain shoes Lord, and I don’t mind being under the table where no one sees me.  I just want to go where You go and do whatever You are doing.

Prayer when sharing Jesus

February 9, 2010

Lord Jesus, I so want the people I love to know You–really know you personally.  I want You to be as real to them as their best friend.  Yet, overtures on my part, to share You with them seem to be treated as just another solicitation, another piece of advertising, or just another scam.  Are we so bombarded with all our media we have just shut down to new ideas?  Do we just cut off and shut off everything with cynicism?  We still seem to know about those things that interest us?  Why is that?  Are we interested in only those things that entertain or benefit us, while demanding nothing.  Is that it?  Do people push away any knowledge of You because they fear You will demand something?  What can be done about that Lord?  You surely are the best friend anyone could ever imagine, yet you do demand everything we are and have.  How can that be?  Because friendship with You changes everything about us.  The love and joy we enter into makes us want to give our all for You.  How can we explain that Jesus ?  We need Your help and Your intervention into our loved one’s life.  No wonder it is said that faith is a gift.  “Even your faith is not your own, it too, is a gift from God.” (Ephesians 2:8)