Sunday, April 22, 2012

Part 2: Resurrection Rendezvous

Stephanie and I will be celebrating our fifteenth wedding anniversary on May 3rd!  We have a pretty cool weekend planned and it will be nice to get away.  One day, I will have to share with you on how we got together.  It is definitely one blog post that will take a little time to explain...but it is so cool!  

Anyways, a few anniversaries ago I went to all the places that were important to us and  the places where God did some amazing things in our lives.  I took some pictures of those places and made a book for us.  It was definitely nostalgic but also a great reminder of God's faithfulness to us.  I think Jesus loves nostalgia and the theme of remembrance.  For example, take the bread and wine.  Every time we take it we do it in "remembrance of Him"!  Memories are very powerful!  Some for good, some for evil.  That's why Jesus wants to own our memories.  I believe the Spirit of God can use memories to spur us on!

6-7 He said, "Don't be afraid.  I know you're looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the one they nailed on the cross.  He's been raised up; He's here no longer.  You can see for yourselves that the place is empty.  NOW ON YOUR WAY.  Tell the disciples and Peter that He is going on ahead of you to Galilee.  You'll see Him there, exactly as He said."

Last blog we dived into a Resurrection Rendezvous; a place where Christ wants to meet us to revive and  refresh.  But he also had a mission for us.  Why did Jesus choose Galilee?  I believe the power of remembrance takes effect here.  Jesus brings his boys full circle.  They get refreshed and renewed just at the sight of Jesus, being with Him...touching Him.  But there is some urgency even in the angels voice.  "Now-on your way"!  Even though he is just telling them to hurry to the rendezvous...there is a mission that needs to be completed.  

6-7 He said, "Don't be afraid.  I know you're looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the one they nailed on the cross.  He's been raised up; He's here no longer.  You can see for yourselves that the place is empty.  NOW ON YOUR WAY.  Tell the disciples and Peter that He is going on ahead of you to Galilee.  You'll see Him there, exactly as He said."

Why Galilee?  It is where they met.  I like how Michael Card describes it in his book, Mark:  the Gospel of Passion.  He talks about how we imagine what it would have been like on that day.  It was a warm spring day in Galilee.  Warm sand between the toes, not even the sound of a bird in the air.  They go out fishing and they net a huge number of fish.  Then Jesus whips His hair around and says, "I will make you fishers of men".  It is is is....wrong!  the "hairwhip" is my addition to the  inaccurate imagination.

As Michael Card states, Jesus just returned from the wilderness and John is now in prison.  Needless to say, there is some weariness for Jesus here.  The shores of Galilee are not sandy but rocky.  Galilee is not a cozy or silent, noise is everywhere since this is a major flyway between Africa and Europe...birds flying constantly through Galilee.  Even the scripture. "I will make you fishers of men", is a reference to a scripture in Jeremiah 16:16.  "Behold, I am sending for many fishers, declares the Lord, and they shall catch them."  But this scripture is actually referring to judgement...not exciting evangelism!  There is an "Ominous" feeling in the air as Michael card states.

I say all that to say that even though there is excitement in the air with Christ's resurrection, there is also a mission that needs to be accomplished and it won't be fun by any stretch of the imagination.  I ask myself, "Am I looking for cozy faith or real faith?  Am I following the resurrected Jesus to a rough, noisy, fish smelling mission field...or a cozy, predictable, smooth sailing mission field?"  How 'bout you?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Resurrection Rendezvous

I recently went out with my son, Wesley, to Sonic to have some heart to heart discussions. He will soon realize that Sonic is the place where we go when we have to "get some things straight". Don't get me wrong, he wasn't really in trouble, but we just had to have some "fine tuning" and really, to be quite honest, a conversation that only a father and son could discuss...and a Caramel Milkshake helps it all go down better. It was one of the most awesome discussions I had with him. A discussion with Wesley is one of a kind...we can go from talking about the Cosmos and life on other planets to Sonic Ice just one sip of a milkshake. Our conversations are kinda like a rodeo....just hold on! And even though some of it may wear you out, we both feel refreshed afterwards. Sonic is a rendezvous for us of sorts...a place that helps us come full circle. I have been meditating on a scripture for the past two weeks:

 Mark 14:27-28 in the Message
Jesus told them, "You're all going to feel that your world is falling apart and that it's my fault. There's a Scripture that says, I will strike the shepherd; The sheep will go helter-skelter. "But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you, leading the way to Galilee."

 Slightly different, but Jesus had His own "Resurrection Rendezvous" point. The disciples are in the "Sinkhole" the last blog post to understand what I mean by "Sinkhole".  Now, it is not the Sinkhole of Jesus...but nevertheless, a sinkhole. They ran from His and into their own. Have you ever done that? Eyeing the situation, you think running away is better than running into what God has for us...and then blame Jesus for it all? I know I have...but Jesus has a plan...He always does. What I want to concentrate on is that Jesus had a meeting point after Resurrection! During the worst part of His life, his Sinkhole, He relays a rendezvous point for His boys. No matter what Sinkhole you are in right now, doesn't matter! He is leading the way to a place He wants us all to meet Him at...a Resurrection Rendezvous! Galilee is the place for the disciples...where is yours? Where is He leading you to? We will get into why he chose Galilee in the next post but I just believe Jesus has a Rendezvous for us all. A place to meet Him fresh again, real again, resurrected again! Isn't that what being "Born Again" is all about? Isn't that what Easter is all about?

 During our Sonic conversation, a soon and upcoming ninth grader says to me, "I want to do something really big...something to change the World for Jesus!" I liked if we could just get those grades up!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Enter the Sinkhole

Mark 14:32-36


32-34 They came to an area called Gethsemane. Jesus told his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." He took Peter, James, and John with him. He plunged into a sinkhole of dreadful agony. He told them, "I feel bad enough right now to die. Stay here and keep vigil with me."

35-36 Going a little ahead, he fell to the ground and prayed for a way out: "Papa, Father, you can—can't you?—get me out of this. Take this cup away from me. But please, not what I want—what do you want?"

We have read this a thousand times. And this week, we may read it fifty more, but for me, it is different. I read this one late afternoon last week and it dawned on me, "He didn't want to do it". If you let your imagination go a little bit and "enter the sinkhole" you may appreciate the passion week a little more and the price for salvation a little deeper.

He didn't want to do it....

To me, the struggle gets lost between the words "me" and "but". We read on like there were no bloody tears, we read on like there was no fight, no wrestling. But thousands of years before this night, the life we were supposed to live was lost in a garden and now the fight to regain that relationship was being fought in a garden that was fittingly named, "oil press".

Jesus was being squeezed. Humanity and Divinity in a grueling fight to the finish. "Papa, let this cup pass from me". You have to stop right there. Jesus, in his humanity didn't want to go through with it...and that's OK. Sometimes we paint Jesus superhuman and that is wrong. How can you appreciate His love if he was impervious to pain or even painful decisions? Sometimes we can see the pain on the cross but the painful decision is overlooked. We can't overlook this, for it is the most important decision ever made. This is where He won...this is where we win. Doesn't it make sense?

It is wonderful for me to think that Jesus didn't want to do "it". Don't we sometimes have a hard time doing "it"? This Christian life can be hard sometimes. Have you ever been drinking the warm wine of life only to wake up the next morning sipping on bitter cold reality? We rebuke it...fight it...only to realize we only need to drink all of it.

The painting to the right was done by Paul Gauguin, a contemporary of Van Gogh. According to Marilyn Bauer, in "Christ in the Garden of Olives," Gauguin portrayed himself in a tragic, iconic mode as Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of his betrayal by Judas Iscariot. In fact, he portrayed himself in the painting and gave himself red hair, like that of Van Gogh...funny. Gauguin battled depression and bouts with suicide...maybe that's why he painted himself in the "Sinkhole". Maybe, he found a friend.

We will blog on the Good News later. Before that, Stay in the Sinkhole a little longer. Maybe we can do a better job than his favorite three who couldn't stay awake.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Passion for Math and God's Voice?

My oldest son is not doing so hot in eighth grade math right now. Don't get me wrong, in seventh grade he went to Vanderbilt to be honored as one of the smartest seventh graders in Tennessee. English, Social Studies, Science...he's the man! Math, not so much. We had to have a "heart to heart" this evening and I was giving him a pep talk for the remainder of the school year. I said, "Just focus on the next two months and Kick some...." And out of his mouth came, "Ass". Ummmm, not quite what I was looking for. This is not the word a good Dad like me should want to hear....but it is exactly what brought a smile on my face. "Yeah, let's kick math's Ass"! It was the wrong word...ohhhhhh but it was so right.

I was reading my Bible plan for the year and came across a disturbing scripture. By the way, most scripture is disturbing. If you think about it, the Word of God at one time and still is the "Voice of God". I wonder, if we re-titled the Bible as the "Voice of God" would it change our thinking into hearing...interesting.

I digress.

The scripture is found in 2 Chronicles 25:2

He did right in the sight of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart.

Right here we find a scripture about King Amaziah. I won't go into all the details but what if this was pronounced over you? Is this something you would be proud of? Is it possible to do right...but be so wrong? All questions that seem to disturbingly whisper to me. I don't know about you, but I like Quantitative Christianity. Did I do this right? Is this ok? Can I get a rating on this deed, a thumbs up, 4 stars, a smiley face, or for us religious amen? My self esteem seems to go up or down based on this rating...but my love can flat-line.

Then we come to another King;

Acts 13:20-22 "Up to the time of Samuel the prophet, God provided judges to lead them. But then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul, son of Kish, out of the tribe of Benjamin. After Saul had ruled forty years, God removed him from office and put King David in his place, with this commendation: 'I've searched the land and found this David, son of Jesse. He's a man whose heart beats to my heart, a man who will do what I tell him.

Wow! Maybe the progression of our hearing needs to be first in tune with a heart beat, then a voice to follow. David loved God. He didn't always do what was right, but man did he love God. I don't think we have to get into the whole "shall we sin that grace may abound" thing, I think we need to focus on the fact that David was madly in love with God because he heard His heart beat way before he heard His voice. Passion preludes pronouncement and poetry...and that is why we love David so much. There is hope in the air when we read the life of the New Covenant, Old Testament King. There lies hope in the life of David.

So when it comes to religion and rule living, let's kick it's....I'll let you have the last word!

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Smell of Rainbows....and Lucky Number Seven.

Out of all of our senses, smell is the most powerful. It is amazing that you could walk in to a home or take a stroll down the road and be transported back to a place from your childhood all smelled something. From going to my Grandmother's home, playing basketball at the YMCA in Philly, or arriving at a home in Knoxvegas where I saw God's spirit be poured out on a group of teenagers...Smell is the time machine that takes me there. I believe it goes the same for God. Since we are in his image, I believe smell is important to him as well. More on smell later....

You are an antelope. are a good looking antelope. You must be...since you were selected by Noah himself to join him on a 40 day cruise on the lovely um...Arc. Hey, you might have not been selected number one...or two. In fact, you weren't even selected number five. You got in by the skin of your antler. But hey, number seven is better than number eight, right? Seven Antelopes selected to repopulate the world, and you are IN! Saved and happy to be in a dark Arc. Not the greatest of conditions, but I'd rather be saved than one of those ugly Antelope...right?

40 days are up...and land ho! Everyone is happy to be out of the Arc and saved! But then, Noah starts off the New World in dramatic fashion:

Genesis 8:20-21

20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

Umm, excuse me! Then at that moment, Shem or can't tell, they look similair upside down, grabs you and preps you for, well, sacrifice. At that moment you realize a most horrific truth. The only reason I was saved was for sacrifice. The last thing you remember is the smell of burnt wood....

A startling statistic was that one out of every seven clean animal had one purpose. They were saved for a purpose, a purpose of sacrifice. Noah wanted to start the new world right with a burnt offering.

So do you still wanna know what Rainbows smell like?

God didn't curse the ground again all because of a smell. That smell didn't transport him to a better time...since there was no better time this side of the garden. But it transported him to a time that kings and prophets wish they could have gotten a whiff of...a time where burnt wood would be exchanged for bloody wood. His Son smelled was a perfect sacrifice.

Even the Rainbow was bought with a price. We should have known that true beauty comes with a heavy price. Maybe the next time I see a rainbow I will remember to put my nose in the air and smell the bow in the cloud. It will transport me to a time 2000 years ago. It will also transport me back 21 years ago when God came crashing in to my life. Maybe the smell will remind me that I was made for give it away. A living sacrifice, that smells like the bow in the cloud.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Last night I woke up to see the Quadrantids meteor shower. The plan was to wake up the kids around that time so we could all witness this spectacular show. So, at 2pm I woke up and looked in to the sky to see what falling stars I could wish on. About 2 minutes in, I saw a star shoot through Orion's was really cool. Don't worry, Orion is ok! For the rest of the hour, nothing happened, at least what I could tell. Then I looked on the internet to see if I was doing something wrong. I actually found out I was looking in the wrong direction. I needed to be looking North, Northeast towards the big dippers handle or something like that. Whoops!!!!...or is it a whoops?

Are you wondering what the title of this blog post means? No, this is not what Laverne and Shirley used to say before, "We're going to do it" broke into song., it's not a Harry Potter incantation. Although, if a nerdy boy holding a stick said this outloud... maybe something "Amazing" would happen. These are all words that Luke uses in his gospel to indicate something "Amazing" just happened. There are only 5 words that the gospels use that translate into "Amazement", and Luke is the only one that uses them all. He wanted his readers to fully understand that our God is amazing. Isn't He...Amazing!

So what does this all have to do with Quadrantids? I think, and I'm not sure, but that I am wanting to see something amazing. My high school years, starting with a hot summer camp in Mississippi, told be from the beginning of my walk with Jesus....that He is truly amazing. Then you have those who say, "If you look hard enough you will see him in all things of life, and that He is amazing in the little things, and that He is in the ordinary, mundane things...and that is what makes Him amazing." And I would agree but just like the star gaze taught me last night: Even when I was looking in the wrong direction...the amazing found me! I saw something no one else saw by looking in the wrong direction. Isn't that just like Jesus. When all were looking for something else, Jesus surprised them all. Busting up a funeral with a resurrection, making weddings more joyful with the good stuff, and turning a normal Sunday into a day no one would ever forget. Don't get me wrong, I understand what it means to be faithful when we don't have feelings and in the everyday life with screaming kids and big bills...but isn't it true what Bonhoffer said, "Bewilderment is true comprehension". Even when we see the ugly side of life and ordinary things, we need to ask, "Jesus, what amazing thing can you do with this?"

When I closed my eyes to finally go to bed last night, I still saw the stars. It is hard to explain, but I still saw them. When I close my eyes at night, just like David, I recount all the amazing things He has done. He is not through either, and if you look just right, right in the wrong direction, He will surprise you with something amazing!