20 April, 2014

Easter Morn Run!

Easter morning has dawned.  It is a new day for you and me.  Hallelujah!

The sneers, beating, pain and finally death have come to Jesus.  He left heaven to come to earth for this one reason....to live, to teach and to die for us...and then LIVE.  The one God who came to meet me even before I had a thought to meet him or even find Him.  He came first.  He loved first.  I can not even begin to comprehend such love, such sacrifice, such grace.

After Jesus' horrible death, one man came to ask for Jesus' body.  One man cared for him, wrapped Him in linen cloth and placed Him in a tomb.  The women who traveled with Jesus followed this man to the tomb and saw the tomb and how His body was laid in it.  Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes for Jesus' proper burial.

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. (Luke 24:1-12)

What strikes me today is: one man, a few women, and Peter running back to the tomb.  The passion of these few moves me.  On this Passion Sunday we celebrated Jesus' passion for us.  His passion to come get us.  His passion to come meet us.  His passion to come for us when we didn't even realize we needed Him.  These few believers showed passion as well.

The man who asked for His body - he was a member of the Council but had not consented to their decision and action.  He acted in passion and love for the son of God.  He took one step, one man and served His God.
The women were few in number but they too came in passion for their Jesus.  They followed him to the tomb, they took the next logical step by preparing the spices for Him.  They followed through with their service of passion and received a blessing of unexpected proportion.
Then Peter, the one who denied, upon hearing the news from the women RAN to the tomb. (Luke 24:12) He ran out of passion and hope.  He ran to see with his own eyes.  And as we learn from the rest of the Bible he continued to run with passion as the message of Jesus was carried from place to place.  Peter never stopped running...

If we believe the message of Easter and the news of Jesus Christ as Redeemer, do we run with the message.  As we celebrate this Easter 2014 are we preparing to run into next week, next month?  Do our hearts burn within us as He speaks this Easter message into our lives?  These few people we've looked at today made an enormous impact on the world by just taking the next step and serving where they could.

I wonder where my next step of passion will lead?  I wonder if I will remember on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of next week the Passion of this Easter morn run.  Will you?

He is Risen Indeed.  Run...Run...Run

17 April, 2014

The Look of Love

Much happens in the chapters of Luke 19-24.  I would argue that actually everything happens….the end and the beginning and all in between.

Today I want to focus on one small verse from Luke 22:61.
“The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.”

Peter, beloved Peter was a man after God.  He was impulsive and quick to speak and quick to make bold statements and yes, quick to love deeply.  In this scripture reference, Jesus' arrest has just occurred and Peter was following the chief priests, the temple guard and Jesus as they hustled to the house of the high priest.  Peter, three times is pointed out and accused and three times denies knowing Jesus.  Oh, but then….the look of love.

We have all experienced a “look of love”.  It may have been a time with your husband or wife, a time with your child or new baby, a time with a dying loved one or even watching the exchange of love between a bride and groom.  We all KNOW it and it’s unmistakable.  Because it’s priceless.

I can remember the first time I experienced my own look of love with Ray.  We were in a tiny restaurant in Mississippi .  The place had been rented out for our private group.  There was food, drinks, laughter and oldies music….and there was dancing.  Amongst the dozens of people attending the party that night we became separated while visiting with friends throughout the room.  After a while, I remembered my date and began to look about the room and suddenly I saw him.  Waaaaayyy across the room our eyes found each other and held there.  It was the look of love.  It was saying no matter how distracted you are tonight or how many people stand between us in this crowded place or if you forgot me for a moment, I am here.  My love for you has not changed.  I want to hold you tonight, I want to dance with you, I want to claim you as my own.  You are the love of the my life.

Oh what shame and remorse Peter must have felt when he realized his denials as the cock crowed.  You know the kind….where you just close your eyes for several moments and think why, oh why.  And then, just as Peter’s eyes open, Jesus finds them.  And according to verse 61, Jesus looked straight at Peter.  The eyes of love…I believe Jesus was saying to Peter, 'no matter how distracted you are tonight or how many people stand between us in this crowded place or if you forgotten me for a moment, I am here.  My love for you has not changed.  I want to hold you tonight, I want to dance with you, I want to claim you as my own.  You are the love of the my life'.

He is saying that to us today as we often forget him, deny him or just go our own way.  His look of love is just for you today.  His passion this week is for you.  His eyes are looking with the look of love.

The look of love 
Is in your eyes 
A look your smile can't disguise 
The look of love 
It's saying so much more 
Than words could every say 
And what my heart has heard, 
Well, it takes my breath away. 

I can hardly wait to hold you, 
Feel my arms around you. 
How long I have waited, 
Waited just to love you 
Now that I have found you

The "The Look of Love" is a popular song composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David in 1967.  It somehow got into my head as I read this brief verse in Luke.  The link to this tune is below.  I encourage you to listen and think of your Saviour's look of love.


16 April, 2014

Reality Check

With the echo of praise and celebration from the Triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the Christ-followers must have been exhilarated and weary from the journey.  The city of Jerusalem was evidently bustling with activity as people arrived to celebrate the Passover.  There must have been so much excitement in the city as this long-awaited annual event had begun.

We know this feeling.  Its Easter week in our homes.  Grandma is coming, the kids are returning from college, there are Easter egg hunts scheduled, cooking to be done, eggs to be died, dresses to be pressed, khakis to be ironed, and that dreaded Easter basket grass to buy!  There is a thrill when you know the day or week has finally arrived for such a celebration.

I wonder if this was the thought shared amongst the disciples.  After all, it was a week of celebration and they had arrived with a celebrity and a parade.  Who doesn't love a parade! Jesus was popular, unexpected in his demeanor, a novelty to people, and a confusion.  I sense there was electricity in the air wherever he walked that week.

And we find Him today in the temple, the house of prayer.  Teaching, teaching the unteachable, teaching the hard-headed, teaching the scholars...teaching and watching and challenging.  I want to be seated amongst those listening.  Not the hard-headed, know-it-alls but the humble, hungry learners.  The learners who took time from their day to stop, listen and really hear what this unique Teacher taught.  I noticed from the scripture that everyday He was there meeting those who came.  He was there before they arrived.  Anticipating their arrival and offering His love, understanding and acceptance.  He showed no evidence of worry about the coming days and no concern about future happenings.  He was focused on reaching those who needed to hear in THAT day.  He was focused on offering hope and wisdom in the moment.  I want to learn from that Teacher.
Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple. Luke 21:37-38

In this week of all things commercial Easter, let's take a moment to be taught by the One we celebrate.  The preparation of the holiday cannot 'out-do' the Reality of what this week means in our lives.  What is our Reality check?

Easter Bunny vs. Easter Donkey
Easter Eggs vs. Easter Expectation
Easter Baskets vs. Easter Palms and Psalms
Easter lunch vs. THE Easter Lamb

14 April, 2014

Reality TV

OK, true confessions.....who amongst you watches 'reality tv'?  I know this is a personal and private matter that you are hesitant to discuss.  But really, what is your favorite?  Is it The Amazing Race, The Bachelor, Overhaulin, Dancing with the Stars, Desperate Housewives, or (surely not) Here comes Honey Boo Boo?  Reality TV has captured our attention, it makes good conversation, and allows us to look into other peoples lives....which leads us to celebrate the normalcy of our own lives!  Right?  But I daresay we watch these shows and wonder how we would measure up or where we would fit in the story.

This week in the Christian faith is called Passion Week.  The final week of Jesus' earthly life is talked about and celebrated by Christ followers all over the world.  As I was reading the week of events recorded in the Bible I began to wonder about passion and why that word is used to describe this week in the Christian life. (more later) But I also begin to wonder where I might find myself in the stories. For I believe this story is alive and real today and that we all have a role in the script.  This is 'Reality TV LIVE' and we're in the cast.  

Read Luke Chapters 19, 20, 21, 22 with that thought in mind this week.  Where are you in the story?  With whom do you most identify? Absorb the words and story and find yourself for that is where God will meet you.

Let's begin our quest: 
The last week of Jesus' earthly life began with a parade called the Triumphal Entry.  Are we a part of the disciple group surrounding Him and loudly singing Praises or are we in the super-religious, rules group asking everyone to quiet down?  Or do we find ourselves having a heart-ache for other people? 
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes...”

I love a party, I love to plan a party!  Get the colt!  Get the palms for decorations! I love a celebration and I love singing and laughing.  We honor HIS name with our celebration - maybe that's my group.

I also love what I'm comfortable with...my style of singing and worship...my church-rules and expectations.  I'm uncomfortable when my child, my friend, or a stranger comes to my fellowship and they have dressed differently from me or they talk in a way I don't approve.  Is this my group?

I pass people as I go through life.  They have problems-too much alcohol and drugs, they are poor, they are needy, they are disrespectful, they hate, they curse, they laugh at my beliefs - do I love them?  Do I weep over them and pray and hope for them?  Is this my group?

What is your Reality?  The week of LIFE has started.  Which part of the cast are you today?

Easter Week 2014
(one of four)  
Pass them on to others.  
He is Risen! Hallelujah!

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