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.