Friday, December 28, 2012

The Gospel narrative resonates in the hearts and minds of each one of us. Call it the echo of Eden, call it home sickness, call it whatever you want. It's there - and it's universal, inescapable, undeniable. The story of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration is tattooed onto our hearts. That's why we love stories so much - especially the stories about good and evil. Because all good stories are based on God's true story. Every good story is God's story.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

star cluster

"He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name, because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing."  (Isaiah 40)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

holy innocents

(this post was written by rev. mark buetow and posted at higher things)

"When Herod saw that he was deceived by the wise men, he was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: "A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more." (Matthew 2:16-18)

“Why?” “Why did God let this happen?” “What is wrong with people?” Those are the questions that the mothers in Bethlehem might have asked when the soldiers of King Herod killed their children. Those are questions we’ll hear in Connecticut now after the death of 27 people, including 18 children at a shooting that took place at an elementary school. An elementary school! Little kids! Children! How? Why? What do you say?

The one good thing about the death of the children of Bethlehem is that Jesus got away. He got away so that He could grow up and be the Savior of those children, the Savior of the children in Connecticut that just died and the Savior of everyone. Even the Savior of the man who did this. Because, after all, it’s a person who did this. Evil. Sin. These are the things that cause people to do horrible things. Let’s remember that. God didn’t do this. Sin did this. We’ll weep for the children and their families. We should weep for the shooter and whatever it was that led him to do it: anger, rage, maybe mental illness. It doesn’t really matter. We weep because we see what the fallen world is really like.

What could God possibly have to say to parents who are cradling their dead children in their arms and the first responders who have to clean up the mess, and the parents and children who will never be the same for having been through this? What could God possibly have to say to the mothers of Bethlehem who were weeping in fulfillment of a prophecy? Here we are with nothing to say. A loss for words. Shaking our heads. What does God have to say to us?

These words of Jesus come to mind “In this world you will have trouble. Take heart. I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). Jesus doesn’t save us by fixing this world. He saves us out of it for eternal life. We stare stunned at the story that children have died and right before we celebrate the birth of the Son of God, as a child! And then we begin to see what God has done. God came as a child. To be born. To grow up. To suffer and die. Forsaken by the Father. Nailed to the cross. Hanging there bleeding and dying because of what we’ve done. What sin has done. What it has made us. And by the blood and water that flows from His side, into the font, He makes us His children. To die with Him. To rise with Him. To have such a promise that there is nothing in this world that can happen to us that can take that away. Jesus has overcome school shootings and the horrors inflicted upon children and others. He has overcome such things not in the way we would like, by simply punishing them and keeping us safe. He has overcome the world by actually taking on sin and destroying its power forever. And there’s more. He rose. His resurrection is the promise and guarantee that death never, ever gets the last word.

When some terrible disasters happened in His day, Jesus said, “do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:4-5). These words remind us that when we see tragedies like this, there is no blaming and finger-pointing and name-calling and wondering. There is only repentance. Repentance is recognizing that it can only be Christ who delivers us from such evil because left to ourselves, this is all we’ve got. But in Him, we are saved from all these things.

Things have changed forever for the people who have been a part of this horror today. But Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is that promise which will be the truest comfort for those who suffer such things. The Lord grant them His mercy and the healing that Christ alone can bring to them through their bitter tears.

"They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."(Revelation 7:16-17).


Monday, December 10, 2012

As I wait with great anticipation the release of The Hobbit later this week, I am reminded of these words from Tolkien in his little book "On Fairy Stories" ...

"The realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things: all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords. In that realm a man may, perhaps, count himself fortunate to have wandered, but its very richness and strangeness tie the tongue of a traveller who would report them. And while he is there it is dangerous for him to ask too many questions, lest the gates should be shut and the keys be lost."


Monday, December 3, 2012

Advent Encounters

Advent has long been a time of preparation for the celebration of Christmas. Yet the road to Christmas is anything but easy. It twists, it turns, and there are strange figures along the way. Through divine encounters with his word, God changes our ways in the world. At first these encounters are strange, even mystifying. Upon closer examination, however, they deepen our awareness and awaken our senses to the gracious work God is doing in the world.

In 1961, a man carrying a brick walked into the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Scotland. He found a painting of the crucifixion, took the brick, and proceeded to destroy the painting.  This vandalous visitor objected to the way an artist had portrayed the crucifixion of Jesus.

Salvador Dali was the artist and the painting was Christ of St. John of the Cross. In it one sees Jesus, hanging on the cross, over the world. The problem for the man was not the crucifixion but the way in which this crucifixion challenged him. Dali had changed the traditional perspective people have when they look at a crucifixion. We are all used accustomed to looking up into the face of Jesus on the cross. Dali, however, took the perspective from above the cross for his painting. The viewer looks down on Jesus, who himself is looking down upon the world. For some, this stance was sacrilegous and unholy. For others, this painting’s strange perspective invited them to use their imagination to see the all-encompassing mission of God the Father.

Dali’s painting challenges preconceptions of how a crucifixion has to be seen. It creates an encounter that changes your vision and invites you to see things with new eyes. Dali invites the viewer, for a moment, to see the crucifixion through the eyes of God the Father. Our heavenly Father looks down upon the fallen world and sees it through the eyes of his Son Jesus, dying on the cross, for all people. Seeing the crucifixion that way can remind us of the larger mission of Jesus. This mission certainly includes us, but it is also a mission that doesn’t end with just us. God’s love in Christ reaches to the ends of the earth.

Divine encounters are like that. They change the way we see things. And that's what Advent is all about.

Advent has long been a time of preparation for the celebration of Christmas. Yet the road to Christmas is anything but easy. It twists, it turns, and we meet many strange figures along the way. Prophets cry out in visions. John the Baptizer preaches in the desert. Angels appear whether you are asleep or awake. The voices are varied, the places are strange, but one thing is certain: in each encounter, God is preparing us for the celebration of the greatest encounter of all, the birth of Jesus, his Son, our Savior, the Redeemer of the world.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

mayan zombie apocalypse

(Since we are winding down to the end of the church year this week, I thought I would share this bit of helpful information regarding the Mayan calendar, written by Pr. Sam Schuldheisz ...)

Over the past several years, the mysterious Maya calendar has remained at the epicenter of pop-culture and pop-Christianity’s chronic addiction to end-times mayhem. Men like Hal Lindsey and Harold Camping have routinely proven it really is a mad, mad world. Although these predictions will go the way of the Mayans, mankind’s obsession with conspiracy theories and end-times predictions will sadly never go away. So, here are a few questions to help clarify the present issue of the Maya calendar with the sobering clarity of Jesus’ Word on His return in glory.

What is the Maya Calendar?
It was a system of keeping time used by the Mayans in parts of Guatemala and Mexico during the Mesoamerican era. It was primarily based off a 260 and a 365 day count, incorporating cycles of 13 and typically round in format. The circular design of their calendar also reveals their concept of time, influenced by mythology, astronomy, recurring natural events and a cyclical interpretation of the world around them.  The Maya calendar used their mythological dating of creation and the world’s origin when arranging their calendar.

Does the Maya Calendar end on December 21, 2012?
No. Like all calendar systems, the Maya calendar is complex. Scholars and archaeologists continue to study these artifacts as new information surfaces. In a recent discovery last May, archaeologists documented further evidence against the alleged theory of the world’s end on December 21st.
In fact, due to the difference between the Gregorian and Maya calendar, some scholars claim that the end of the Maya calendar has already come and gone on October 28, 2011.

Will December 21st, 2012 be a day of death and destruction?
No ... at least not like it’s been hyped out to be.  The Mayans believed in a series of four previous “ages” each revolving around the destruction and rebirth of creation, much like the Aztecs and the Legend of the Suns. However, much of Mayan mythology is largely unknown and historical dates are either unknown or unverifiable, a clear contrast to the events of the historical record of the New Testament. The major events of Jesus’ life and work are verifiable for these things did not happen in a corner. Unlike Mayan mythology, Christianity is open to empirical investigation and our faith is founded on the most reliable set of historical events in our knowledge of the ancient world: Jesus’ death and resurrection. And though we do not know the day or the hour of Christ’s return, Christians can be confident that when He comes again, it will not occur in the sensational manner depicted by Hollywood. For those in Christ there is no need for despair or doubt. Jesus’ teaching on the end times is to prepares us for His return and give comfort, not excite fear and confusion.

Where did the frenzy surrounding the Mayan Calendar originate?
In the Last Days, people prey on others’ insecurities exciting fear and instilling doubt. The recent Maya calendar madness is similar to the Y2K craze we saw in 2000. Media hucksters and snake oil scholars will say or write anything to make headlines or meet the bottom line. Proponents typically draw upon unreliable sources and questionable sources while the philosophical underpinnings flow out of  New Age mysticism, astrology, and Eastern philosophy. There really is nothing new under the sun.

How should Christians react to this, and other end-times predictions?
First of all, we should discern the times we live in. Since Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are living in the Last Days. And in the last days many will turn away from the truth and find false teachers to sooth the Old Adam’s itching ears, no matter how it’s repackaged. Jesus also predicted that in this world we will have trouble  but to fear not, for he has overcome the world and has promised to always be with His Church.
Secondly, anyone who attempts to predict or claim confidence in knowing the date of Jesus’ return is sorely mistaken teaching contrary to Jesus’ own teaching. Based on the Scripture’s lucid witness, we know that ...

1) Jesus will return
2) No one knows the exact time
3) So we should be prepared, keep watch and stay awake, always being prepared to give a reasoned defense (apologia) for the hope that is in us.

And finally, though man has twisted Jesus’ words causing great folly and error, we do not on that account throw out the doctrine altogether. Rather, we confess this article of doctrine faithfully each week in the Creeds. There is no better preparation for Christ’s second Advent than his ongoing Advent in the Holy Supper and the living voice of the Gospel. In the Divine Service Christ continues to dwell among us preparing us for His return. Ultimately, this is the chief purpose for Jesus’ teaching on the End Times. Not to cause confusion and despair, but give consolation and hope. In mercy, he delays his return. And until He does, He keeps our feet from stumbling and presents us as blameless in His presence. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

screwtape gives thanks (from internet monk)

My Dear Wormwood,
It is that time once again when your patient, along with all those living in his country, set aside a day to give thanks. It is a deplorable idea, this “giving thanks,” and one that a team assembled by Our Father Below has been working diligently for some years to neutralize. Great strides are being made, and we have hope that one day soon we will turn this “day of thanksgiving” into just another excuse for fulfilling of selfish pleasures and of coveting what one does not already possess or need. Until that day, it is your responsibility, as it is for all junior tempters, to keep your patient from truly having a thankful heart. Fortunately, recent research has turned up methods which appear promising on this front.
The very act of being thankful is reprehensible to those who followed Our Father Below from the depths of the Enemy’s territory into the glorious realm where we now abide. By giving thanks, one is admitting a need for someone or something. And that admission of need leads to no longer being self-sufficient. It was on this point that the Enemy pressed Our Father, leading to the glorious march into Hell where we none of us needs be thankful to anyone. If I am thankful, it is not because I have been given anything. It is because I have found the power to take what I want when and where I desire.
How do you keep your patient from being disgustingly thankful? Here are some procedures laid out in the latest Tempters Training Manual, written by yours truly.
1. Keep your patient from ever seeing he is dependent on anyone else. Self-reliance, Wormwood, is the key to self-destruction. Be sure to point out those around him who are self-made men, those who never need receive anything from another. Professional athletes are good examples, as are movie and television stars. Never mind that these people are some of the neediest humans alive. Your patient need only see their public persona and be made to believe they have achieved success by their own efforts, not with the help of others. Awake in your patient the desire to never be in debt to anyone. Your colleague Gluberfest has made great strides with what is now referred to as “humanism,” encouraging the notion that, if they try hard enough, each human can achieve their own level of greatness. Keep your patient thinking that he needs no one to help him achieve his own greatness, and you will keep gratitude at bay.
2.  Greed is an excellent defense against being thankful. Coveting what one does not have keeps one from being appreciative of what he does have. If your patient begins to say, “I’m thankful for the food I have,” let him see an advertisement for something even better. The reason we encourage those in advertising (some of our greatest recruits to Our Father have been placed in the field of advertising, as you know, or as you would know if you paid attention to what you have been taught) to show very large portions of food is to make any other portion look miserable and, as an effect, make the one seated before the smaller portion feel miserable. How can one give thanks for a single serving when a double serving would, obviously, be so much better?
3. To go along with greed, we have painstakingly made the day after their giving of thanks the number one shopping day for humans in your patient’s country. Advertisements will clutter the newspaper and TV all day on Thursday, promising great enjoyment if one will only venture forth in the early hours of Friday. Of course, there is nothing available on Friday your patient could not buy the next Wednesday, if he really needs to buy it, but it is the thrill of the hunt, Wormwood, that we are going for. Make your patient see that he must have something right away, and he will not bother being thankful for what he has. If you play this right, he will even despise what he has today in the hopes of obtaining something greater tomorrow. This is an endless cycle that will continue when we possess that one in Hell.
4. Distraction cannot be discounted as a weapon against thanksgiving. The busy-ness of cooking, eating and cleaning can, with skill, be used to keep humans from stopping, even for a moment, to say thank you for what they are cooking, eating, and cleaning up after. Crying children, argumentative relatives and nagging spouses can all supply much delight to you if you apply them correctly to distract your patient from being thankful.
5. Finally, there is the discontent with those things your patient is supposed to be thankful for. All food, for instance, is not universally enjoyed. If your patient does not care for carrots, be sure that there are plenty of carrots on the table. And then have the person who brought the carrots speak up loudly to say how she worked hours peeling and slicing and cooking the carrots, and how offended she will be if your patient does not eat at least two helpings of carrots. Take this home, Wormwood, and not only will your patient expel any notion of thanksgiving, but he will embrace hatred of the carrot-bringer with great vigor. If you can do this, your fun will have just begun.
I do want to say that I am thankful in my own way. I am thankful that I am not like you, a junior tempter with little hope of climbing to my level. I am thankful that Our Father seems to have better things to do these days than to inflict torment on me. And I am thankful for the warmth of my office, fueled with the souls whom I led into Our Father Below’s kingdom by keeping them from being givers of thanks.
Your affectionate uncle,

Friday, November 9, 2012


so good to see you, old warrior and friend
what have you been up to, o where have you been?
it's been months, i believe, not since last spring
when you fell under the horizon as church bells did ring

did you take the dogs hunting, chasing taurus the bull?
or was it rest that you needed, still, calm, and peaceful?
whatever it was, and wherever you've been
we need you to come back now to help us again

We need your club, your belt, and your shield
we need you right now - leave your prey in the field
somehow it seems we have lost our own way
we could use some assistance while it is still day

for it won't be long until winter approaches
even sooner yet for the darkness encroaches
orion, great hunter, please come help us to find
where we have misplaced our heart, soul, and mind

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Relief

Thousands of families are being affected right now on the east coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. With generous support from its donors, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is able to reach out to those in need, providing physical and spiritual care in the name of Christ to those who are suffering loss.

Your gifts for Hurricane Relief provide a constant resource of funds that can instantly be made available to help those in need.

You may give by mail:

Make checks payable to "The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod" with a memo line or note designating ‘Hurricane Relief.’

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
P.O. Box 66861
St. Louis MO 63166-6861

Or by phone:    888-930-4438

Any funds not needed for this relief effort will be used for other disaster purposes as determined by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

god's time

"It is certainly not an accident that in the modern world the church year and the secular year have moved further away from each other. When we today celebrate the beginning of a new church year there is a hint of the fact that the church has a different division of time than the world has. The church lives in the world and there the law of the creator is in force expressed in the Old Testament in the great words: "There is a time for everything." The church lives in the world in which the stars orbit, the years and seasons change, generations are born and die.

But the church has a special understanding of time. She can wait. For nineteen centuries she has sung in her liturgy the "Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" For nineteen centuries she has lifted hearts high to him who will come to judge the living and the dead. For nineteen centuries she has prayed"Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" and heard the Answer, “Yes, I am coming soon." For nineteen centuries she has heard the sneering question "Where is the promise of his coming? For everything remains as it always has since the beginning of creation." (2 Peter 3:4). Through all these centuries right up to the present time she has received no other answer than the comforting and warning words of the New Testament to the Christendom of that time, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to persist but everyone to come to repentance."

God has been patient with us. So the church waits with patience. This patience is foreign to the world. It can't wait. It must always have everything right away. That has been true for the entire modern world of humankind in the last century. For a hope that still hasn't been fulfilled after nineteen centuries simply makes no sense. We all need to be quite clear about what fools we make ourselves in the eyes of the world when we gather here in this house of God today in 1936 in order to have our hope strengthened in the coming of the Lord, and to pray with the Christendom of every century "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!"

- Hermann Sasse

(ht Matt Harrison)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

the nones

The PEW Research group study has determined that 1 in 5 adults have no religious affiliation.
Let's take a look at the nones ...

56 percent of Nones are male

33 percent of people under 30 say they have no religious affiliation

9 Percent of those 65 or older have no religion

71 percent of Nones are white

11 percent are Hispanic

9 pecent are Black

4 percent are Asian

27 percent of Nones say there is no God

68 percent say there is a God or 'universal spirit'

55 percent identify themselves as religious or spiritual

(and 37 percent of those consider themselves spiritual but not religious)

75 percent voted for Obama and are democratic politically

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

At a Pre-Lenten Workshop for Pastors at the Seminary earlier this year, one of the presenters was describing to us the different groups in Judaism during the time of Christ. He half-jokingly told us that the pharisees were like the LLL, the sadducees were like the east coast liberals, and the scribes were like the seminary professors.

I don't know how accurate that assessment is, but what I do know based upon the Gospel reading from Matthew 8 this morning is that Jesus didn't need any of those guys. Jesus was his own authority. The word authority literally means out of the original stuff. And being the Author and Creator of all the stuff in the whole universe, Jesus speaks and acts with authority.

Jesus had the full authority of the Lord God Yahweh Himself. He talked like God because that’s who He was - that's who He is. He is the One who spoke and the universe leapt into existence.
He is the One whom Moses spoke of in Deuteronomy, the One who would have the words of God Himself in His mouth. To hear Jesus was to hear it straight from the horse's mouth - straight from the mouth of God Almighty. His words were God’s words; His teaching God’s teaching, His actions God's actions - He didn’t need a bunch of degrees hanging on the wall to give him credentials.
And He doesn't need us to give Him our permission to be in charge today, either.

He has the authority - His word has the power.

In the first of three episodes in our reading from Matthew, a leper comes and kneels before Jesus and says - Lord, if you're willing, you can make me clean. Jesus reached out his hand, touched the man and said - I am willing - be clean! With just one word Jesus healed the man.

In the second episode, a centurion whose servant is suffering from paralysis comes to Jesus.
The centurion understands Jesus authority and knows that He has the power to help him.
He says to Jesus - Just say the word and my servant will be healed. Jesus is astonished at this Roman's faith - and He says to him - Go! It will be done just as you believe.

With just a word Jesus heals the centurion's servant.

In the third episode, Peter's mother in law is lying in bed with a fever. Jesus comes in and simply touches her hand and the fever leaves her. Later that evening many came to him to be healed - and it says with a word He drove out the evil spirits and healed the sick.

One Word is all Jesus needs.

With the one word - Tetelestai - He finished the job and accomplished our salvation as He died on the cross for the sins of all the world. With a word "shalom" he greeted his disciples on Easter Sunday, bringing them peace and joy as their Risen and Living Lord.

Just a word from Jesus is enough. When Jesus speaks, stuff happens.
When His words are spoken it brings forgiveness, life, salvation, healing, wholeness, shalom.

Jesus has authority. He's the Author, so He has the authority to cut through the darkness,
to casts out demons, to change water into wine, to calm the wind and still the seas, to cleanse the leper, to lift the paralyzed man from his bed. He has the authority to raise you from death to life in your baptism, to forgive you all of your sins, to give you His own body and blood in the bread and wine of the Supper, given and shed for you for your forgiveness and salvation.

He has the power and authority to send you out into the world as his servant. Healed and cleansed, fed and nourished, you are equipped and empowered by the Spirit to speak a word of life to those around you who need it. A word of comfort, a word of healing, a word of love, a word of forgiveness. He gives you His Word so that you can say a word to others.

Just say the word - in Jesus name.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Today is Yom Kippur, one of the high and holy days of the Jewish calendar. We know it from the Old Testament as the Day of Atonement, the one day once a year that the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. The high priest would enter the inner sanctum in order to sprinkle the blood of the lamb on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant for the sins of the people each year.

The writer to the book of Hebrew goes into great detail about this when speaking of Christ's sacrifice on our behalf...

"The first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up, and in its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.   The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They were only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applied until the time of the new order. For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once and for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption."  (Hebrews 9)

Happy Yom Kippur - Blessed Day of Atonement! Thanks be to God for redemption and salvation through the blood of Christ!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Monday was Citizenship Day in our country. This day often goes by without notice and without mention. But I think this is an important day on our calendar. We should be asking ourselves - what does it mean to be a good citizen? What does Christian citizenship look like? How does who we are affect what we do out in the world? How can we be good Christians & yet good citizens?

Well, first of all, in this election year its important to remember that being a good citizen doesn't depend on one being either a Republican or Democrat. Jesus was neither, you know. He pretty much avoided any kind of label people wanted to put on him. And actually, if you think about it, I guess you could say that Jesus was a Liberal Conservative. Morally conservative, yet liberal with God's love and forgiveness.  (But I digress ...)

In the Bible we find out that we are citizens of two kingdoms, the kingdom of the world (society and govt.) and the Kingdom of God (the church). We also come to realize that God is sovereign over everything, even the government. Paul wrote in Romans, "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”  As Christians, that means we are to submit to the governing authorities even though we may not always agree with them. But when they go against God's laws and commands, we must obey God rather than men.

Even though we are American citizens, as Christians our true citizenship is in heaven. We eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”  Paul says in 1 Timothy, “I urge, then, that requests, prayers, intercession & thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings & for all those in authority, that we may live peaceful & quiet lives in all godliness & holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved.”

That's part of what it means to be a Christian citizen.

A man once visited his longtime friend, a British military officer stationed in an African jungle. One day when the friend entered the officer’s hut, he was startled to see him dressed in formal attire and seated at a table set with silverware and fine china. The visitor asked why he was all dressed up and seated at a table so nicely set way out in the jungle. The officer explained, "Once a week I follow this routine to remind myself of who I am - a citizen of Great Britain. I maintain the customs of my real home and live according to the codes of British conduct, no matter how those around me live. I always want to remember my homeland."

We need to be reminded of that as well. This is not our final destination. Heaven is our home.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

"Instead of some sort of penance, we're called to confess our sin as best we can (though it will always be lousy) and appeal to God's mercy on the basis of what Christ did for us, not on the basis of "I really mean it", or "I really promise to", or "I vow this or vow that". That's all out the window.  You're utterly without excuse and without the energy to promise anything. You appeal to nothing but God's mercy in Jesus. That's it. That's the only thing you can plead. It's like the old seminary professor once said, "adverbs are the great enemy of the gospel". We hear things like "I deeply repent" or "I am heartily sorry".  Bah! We repent in a half-assed way at best. We're only sort of sorry. Even our confession sucks. And yet the gracious God in Jesus Christ says to us, "Be of good cheer son, your sins are forgiven."    - Rod Rosenbladt


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

chances are

A friend of mine announced today they had four of the winning Powerball numbers from the 320 Million Jackpot this week. One more right number and they would have won a million dollars. As it was, they only won a  hundred dollars. I guess you could say the odds were against them, since the odds of having all the numbers in a winning Powerball ticket are 1 in 175 million. So it goes with the lottery.

This got me thinking (which is always a dangerous proposition) about odds, chances, and other statistical probabilities.

What do you think the odds are that we're all here merely by random chance? That the universe is some kind of cosmic accident that just sort of happened? Well, let's start small - let's take a simple protein molecule. Consider what you would need for a protein molecule to form by chance.  Dr. Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute explains ... 

"First, you would need the right bonds between 75 or so amino acids. Second, these amino acids come in right and left handed versions, so you'd need to get only left-handed ones. Third, the amino acids must link up together in a specified sequence, kind of like letters in a sentence. When you run the odds of all these things falling into place on their own,  you find that the probabilities of forming a rather short functional protein at random would be one chance in a hundred thousand trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion. That's a ten with 125 zeroes behind it!"

And that's only one protein molecule! Think of the amazingly complex and precise design of all the different elements of God's creation. It's staggering to consider the odds of all life as we know it coming into being with no creative designer behind it all. It's simply unimaginable. 

Kind of makes those odds at winning the lottery seem pretty inconsequential, eh?  


Monday, August 20, 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Friday, August 3, 2012

14er lessons

a few lessons learned from climbing a 14,000 foot mountain... 

- no matter how hard or how long the journey, don't go at it alone - slow and steady wins the race - do hard things, it's painful but worth it - the heavens declare the glory of god - don't wait to pray until praying is your last option - while almighty and powerful, god is also tender and loving -     you only have one life, spend as much of it with your family as you can - people need jesus - the word of god is living and active and always accomplishes what it sets out to do - water is the lifeblood of creation - trees really do clap their hands like it says in the psalms - if you aren't always prepared, travel with someone who is - it always helps to unload excess baggage - no matter what happens, just keep going


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

peak challenge pics


on top of the world in colorado

mountain stream

glorious landscape at sunset

Monday, July 23, 2012

If you think back on your life, regardless of how old or young you are, you may recall a spiritual experience that cannot be explained or a moment in which you felt the special presence of the sacred or divine. But to experience a “mountaintop experience” on a mountaintop – literally – is something very special.

The Celtics called such locations ”thin places” - described as “places where the veil between this world and the ‘other world” meet. There is a Celtic saying that “heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in the thin places that distance is even smaller.”

Exodus 34 describes the journey that Moses took to Mt Sinai. After leading the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage, Moses felt called to climb Sinai, a mountain associated with God’s presence; seen as a “thin place”. “The glory of the Lord,” scripture says, “rested on Mount Sinai”. It was there that Moses received the Ten Commandments. When Moses came down from the mountain, his face was shining from being in the divine presence. Moses was a changed man. It was turning point in his life and in the lives of many.

In Luke 9, Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a mountain where he is ‘transfigured’ before them. That time together on the mountain with his inner circle was a special event that changed their perspective on Jesus and who he was to them.

We will soon travel to Colorado where we will (God willing) reach the summit of a 14,000 foot peak and have a real “mountaintop experience”. In that journey, we may just have an experience that changes our life forever – a spiritual “mountaintop experience” that can be taken back into the valleys of life to shape, mold, encourage, lead and disciple others into the presence of the Sacred and Divine.


Monday, July 9, 2012

mars rover

A NASA rover on Mars has beamed home a panoramic view of the red planet, a spectacular picture that a space agency description billed as the "next best thing to being there."

The new panorama was snapped by NASA's Mars rover Opportunity, a six-wheeled robot that has spent more than eight years exploring the planet.

"The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the works of His hands"  -  Psalm 19

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

ancient mosaics

A female face depicted in mosaic on an ancient Jewish synagoge. Archaeologists uncovered this high-quality artwork in June 2012.

These mosaics of colored stones once decorated an ancient synagogue floor with Biblical scenes.
The newly excavated discovery was found near the ancient Jewish village of Huqoq. 
The mosaic decorates part of a synagogue dating back to about 500 A.D.  So far the team has excavated only part of the eastern wall of the structure, so they don't yet know how big the synagogue was. But the building appears to be made of large blocks of stone,  suggesting an expansive structure. 
The mosaic, which is incomplete, depicts several scenes. In one, two female faces flank a Hebrew inscription about rewards for people who perform good deeds. In the other, Samson ties torches to pairs of foxes,  an event described in the Book of Judges.  
(from live science)

Ancient Mosaic Depicting Fiery Bible Story Discovered

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Is there a difference between "doing church" and "being church"? There are those out there today who are trying to pit these two things against each other. I believe that to be a false dichotomy. We are called to do and to be both.

The norm for many churches today is for church to only happen when people gather in particular places at prescribed times to engage in planned services or programmed activities. And while church definitely does happen in a sanctuary on Sunday morning or in a classroom on Wednesday night, church can also happen wherever and whenever the Spirit chooses the people of God to be. The church is present even where two or three are gathered in Jesus name.

Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide .... These things I command you, that you will love one another.” (John 15:16-17)

Jesus calls us to not only come together on a regular basis to the church building, but also to go out into the world, to leave the places and programs we’re most comfortable with in order to share our faith and spread the Gospel.

To heed this call of Christ takes faith - it calls us to believe and to trust in the fact that He is the One who guides and directs His Church. This is Witness, Mercy, and Life Together at work in the church. Not another stewardship program or evangelism project, but the people of God loving and caring for one another and for the world around them. Listening, loving, forgiving, and proclaiming with the living voice of the Gospel that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. It's the voice of Jesus living in the hearts of His people. Now that is Church!

So when we “do” church this weekend, let’s see it as an opportunity for God to equip His people to “be” the Church everyday. Let us come together to worship Him, sing His praise, hear His Word, receive His forgiveness, and share in the joy of fellowship with one another. Then let us go out into the world to be His people - His Church!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Many of you will be on the road at some point this summer, whether it be for vacation, for business, to see family and friends. As you do so, you may happen to find yourself on the stretch of road known as “Route 66”.

In its glory days Route 66 was known as the “MotherRoad” of American highways. It was 2500 miles long, stretching across 8 states all the way from Chicago to Los Angeles. But Route 66 has decayed with time and for the most part,is a thing of the past. Today’s interstates follow its path, but most of it remains hidden among the relics of Americana.

There is another Route 66, however, that began thousands of years ago and continues to be used to this day. It is a well traveled road that has led millions of people to a new home, and a new way of life. And unlike the asphalt Route 66,  God’s “Route 66” never needs replacing.  The Bible, God’s Route 66, endures forever.  God in His wisdom has given us in His Word as a Road Map, a Guide Book, a Pathway for life, and a Highway to Heaven. It offers us guidance and direction int he midst of this lost world we live in, and it leads us to Jesus and to the Cross, the great intersection between God and man, between heaven and earth.

So let's dust off our map and take the journey together this summer. Let's make God's Word the Main Street of our lives as His people. Hope to see along the way!

Friday, June 1, 2012

ancient jewelry from bible times

Click image for more photos

Archaeologists in Israel have discovered a treasure trove of 3,000-year-old jewelry, including a ring and earrings hidden in a ceramic jug near the ancient city of Megiddo.

The jewelry, which dates to around 1100 BC, likely belonged to a Canaanite family.

The trove has been called among the most valuable ever found from the Biblical period. One piece in particular, a gold earring decorated with molded ibexes, or wild goats, is "without parallel."

In this photo taken Wednesday, May 23, 2012 an ancient jewel discovered by Israeli archaeologists is displayed at the Tel Aviv University, Israel. Israeli archaeologists have unearthed a stash of rare

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

can these bones live?

In the Old Testament story of The Valley of Dry Bones, the prophet Ezekiel looks out over a lifeless valley of death, as the words of Yahweh ring in his ear,  "Can These Bones Live?"

That is the question, is it not? That is the question we all ask as well. In the hospital, in the nursing home, at the funeral home, in the cemetery. Can these bones live?

The great good news for you today is that the answer is yes! For the breath of God from the Living Christ fills our hearts and lives, and gives life to all who believe. By the power of the Holy Spirit, this breath of God and His words of life call us forth from the grave - they raise us up from the dead to give us new life again.

Just like the Israelites in captivity, just like the disciples the first Easter morning, just like the 3000 baptized believers on that first Pentecost. Our sins are forgiven, our fears are dispelled, our sorrow is turned to joy, and death is overcome. Christ is Risen ... Jesus is Alive .... and because He lives, we will live also.

And someday, on the last day, God will also raise us up from the dead. He'll bring us home to be with Him and place us into His blessed promised land forever. And on that day - we can surely say - these bones will live!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

bethlehem seal


Israeli archaeologists have discovered a 2,700-year-old seal that bears the inscription "Bethlehem". Eexperts believe it to be the oldest artifact with the name of Jesus' traditional birthplace.

The tiny clay seal's existence and age provide vivid evidence that Bethlehem was not just the name of a fabled biblical town, but also a bustling place of trade linked to the nearby city of Jerusalem.

The seal dates back to the period of the first biblical Jewish Temple, at a time when Jewish kings reigned over the ancient kingdom of Judah, and 700 years before Jesus was born.

The seal was written in ancient Hebrew script from the same time. Pottery found nearby also dated back to the same period. The stamp was likely used to seal an administrative tax document, sent from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, the seat of Jewish power at the time. It was found as archaeologists sifted through mounds of dirt they had dug up in an excavation outside Jerusalem's Old City walls.

The discovery is the oldest reference to Bethlehem ever found outside of the Bible.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Ascension proclaims the reign of Christ over all things – for in Him and by Him and through Him are all things. His name alone is the name above all names – greater than any prophet, priest, or king – greater than anyone or anything in the sky above or on the earth below. So great is the name of the incarnate Son of God that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. But our risen, ascended, and exalted Lord Jesus Christ does not exercise his supreme power and might for self-serving reasons or to bring glory to himself. He instead uses His great power and mighty strength for the sake of His people, to protect and defend God’s people on the earth, to intercede on their behalf, and to bring forgiveness and salvation to all who believe.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Monday, May 7, 2012

"I am the Vine, you are the Branches"  - John 15

In Christ, God has done everything so that we might be connected to Him. Even though we have all turned away and have cut ourselves off, He has still loved us, embraced us, and forgiven us. He has grafted us into the true Vine and has pruned away all our unfruitful branches. He is always there for us, always faithful, always fruitful.  "I am the Vine, you are the branches. I will fill you with life, strength, hope, and peace. Apart from me there is no life - only death and destruction. I have embraced you in my death and resurrection. I am the Resurrection and the Life - no one comes to the Father but through me. So remain in me. That's where you belong. That's where you will remain alive and fruitful. Not by yourself, but in me. Remain in me, as I remain in you. I am the Vine, you are the branches."

Jesus is life. Only in Him can we truly live.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

after the storm

I see the morning moving over the hills
I can see the shadows on the western sides
And all those illusions that I had
They just vanish in Your light
And though the chill of the night still hangs in the air
I can feel the warmth of morning on my face
Although the storm had tossed me
Till I thought I'd nearly lost my way

Now the night is fading and the storm is passed
And everything that could be shaken was shaken
And all that remains is all I ever really had

What I'd have settled for, You've blown so far away
What You've brought me to, I thought I could not reach
I came so close to giving up, but You never did give up on me

I see the morning moving over the hills
Feel the rush of life here where the darkness broke
And I am in You, and You're in me
Here where the winds of heaven blow

And now the storm is fading, and the night is through
And everything you sent to shake me from my dreams
They come to wake me in the love I find in You
And now the morning comes
And I can see the things that really matter
Become the wings You send to gather me to my home

(Rich Mullins)


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

the rocks cry out

“The whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice. Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.’ But Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!’” - Luke 19

The house we were privileged to stay at this past week near San Diego was on top of a hill called Chimney Rock. It is a beautiful area with a great view of the surrounding country. As you hike around some of the trails, you can't help but notice the great size and number of  rocks and boulders everywhere. It made me think of the land of Israel, where it is said they grow rocks right out of the earth. It also made me think of Jesus words from Luke - "if these become silent, the very stones will cry out!"

If you've been to an amusement park recently, you may have noticed that they put speakers in some pretty odd places. One of the those places is behind the rocks ... and sometimes even inside the rocks! It's kind of an odd experience to turn around only to see a rock giving you an important message. 

Don't allow the rocks to speak for you this Easter Season. As you bask in the glow of Easter Sunday, and are filled with great joy because of your Risen Lord Jesus, let your face know what your heart feels. Let your mouth rejoice and your tongue confess that Jesus Christ is risen - He is risen indeed - Alleluia! 

Tell the story - share the good news of Jesus - bring the joy of the Lord to someone who needs it today.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

spring poem

The year’s at the spring,
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearl’d;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven,
All's right with the world!
(Robert Browning)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

the tomb is still empty

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

the lord's supper

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.

When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely not I, Lord?” Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.”

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom." When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.   (Matthew 26)

Monday, April 2, 2012

perfect storm

In October of 1991, a New England fishing boat, the Andrea Gail, sailed five hundred miles out into the Atlantic. Meanwhile, the weather was changing very rapidly. A cold front moving along the Canadien border sent a strong disturbance through New England, while a large high-pressure system was building over the provinces of south-eastern Canada. This intensified the incoming low-pressure system, producing what locals called ‘The Halloween Nor’easter’. These circumstances alone could have created a strong storm, but then, like throwing gas on a fire, a hurricane coming in from the south Atlantic brought some deadly tropical energy into the mix. It was the makings of a perfect storm. Soon the forces of nature converged on the helpless Andrea Gail, and ferocious winds and huge waves reduced the boat to match sticks. Only a bit of light debris was ever found.

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem to begin the last week of his earthly life, He rode right into the middle of a perfect storm. A perfect storm of Jewish leaders, Roman rulers, Israel's expectations, and His own divine destiny all driving him to the cross. The people following him into the city packed with pilgrims for Passover had no idea what fate awaited Him there. They showered Jesus with praise. They waved their palm branches in victory. They chanted “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!"

Behind the scenes, the religious leaders weren't too happy. They got together and said - “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” They say “Look, the whole world has gone after him.”

So they would get Judas to betray Jesus. They would arrest him, falsely accuse him, and condemn him to death. They would get the crowd to yell, “crucify him,” instead of “hosanna.” And they would get the Romans to execute him. He came in peace, but the Romans beat him up anyway. Bruised, bloodied, and beaten to within an inch of his life. He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, humble and gentle, riding in as the prince of peace. But his enemies declared war and they attacked him and killed him for it.

He His enemies do their worst to him. He didn't stop the violence done to him. He willingly went to the cross. He took upon Himself all of our sin and guilt and pain. And when darkness covered the earth, it looked like His enemies had won. It looked like Jesus had been defeated. He was beaten, battered, bloodied and buried. Satan and all the powers of evil had to be cheering. They thought they had won.

But then, April Fools! On the third day the stone was rolled away. Light scattered the darkness. Life overcame death. The devil was defeated. Sin was taken away. Evil was overcome. Jesus rose from the dead to defeat sin, death, and the devil once and for all.

And it all started the day Jesus rode town - right into the middle of a perfect storm.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

buy or sell?

Ever dream of buying some land? Having your own piece of real estate? Even in troubled times?

2500 years ago in the land of Judah, the economy was collapsing, property values were plummeting, an epidemic was sweeping the city of Jerusalem - and the Babylonians led by king Nebuchadnezzar were on the warpath to Israel.

That's when Jeremiah the prophet, imprisoned inside the city, receives a word from the Lord, “Buy the field”.

What's that? Come again, Lord?

Jerusalem is collapsing amidst political, spiritual, and economic woes. Jeremiah and all of Jerusalem are about to go down big time. Yet the Lord tells Jeremiah, “Buy the field”.  Not sell the farm. Buy the field!

The field belonged to the prophet’s cousin Hanamel, and it was located in his hometown, Anathoth, just three miles north of Jerusalem. I'm sure it was a nice field, and it was close to home. But any investment in Judah’s future seems pretty hopeless at this point. Why in the world would someone make this kind of investment in such turbulent economic times?

Jeremiah answers that for us ...

"Behold the Days are coming declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah... I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they shall be my people. I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

“The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In His days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which He will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness’.

“This is what the Lord says, ... ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Jeremiah knows that a King is coming who will declare him righteous and holy and forgiven.
This gives him hope for the future because his God is the Creator of the ends of the earth.
His God is the Redeemer of Israel. So Jeremiah buys the field.

A field of dreams, indeed.

Monday, March 19, 2012

"The Deepest Magic"
by Herb Mueller

 In the movie, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (and C.S. Lewis’s book by the same name) Aslan refers to the “deeper magic” of the stone table:  When an innocent victim offers himself to death in place of one who is guilty of treachery, the guilt is atoned for and the innocent one is raised to life.  The “deep magic” of the stone table is the reality underlying everything else in the imaginary world of Narnia.

For those who have not read the book or seen the movie, the story is both fantasy and an allegory of the Gospel:  On the cross the innocent victim offered Himself to death in place of all of us, and was raised to life that we might be forgiven and have eternal life.

“While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. … God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6,8)

Our prayer is that those who see the movie or read the book would be reminded of the truth of Christ’s sacrifice.  Perhaps you can point people you know in that direction.  But remember, the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection for us is not fantasy, not simply a story, not even magic, but it is reality, the deepest reality of all.

We live our lives from day to day in what we call “the real world.”  In the “real world” you have to “work for a living,” “watch your back,” and “take care of your own.”  In the “real world” we go to work, get married, have kids, take care of a house and yard, go out with friends, save for the future, etc.

In the “real world” the price of gas is rising, we don’t have enough money (or we think we don’t), and we have to watch for the person who (we think) “has it in for us.”  What’s more, we all have to “take responsibility” for our own actions.

Behind these day to day realities you will also find the less tangible, but often more important, realities of love, commitment, trust, forgiveness, reliability, happiness, satisfaction and contentment.  These can also be destroyed by hate, infidelity, holding grudges, fear, impatience and greed.

As important as these are, the deepest realities of all are those revealed to us in God’s Word.  They are revealed, we say, because they are not always obvious to the naked eye.  In fact, these realities are only received through faith in God’s promises.

But that does not make them any less real.  For though we cannot always see him with our physical eyes, God is not far off in a fantasy world.  God is here and He is real.  He speaks in His Word (and we hear by faith).  More than that, He has come into our world, into our human life in Jesus Christ.  We believe what we hear His Word say about Him.

Jesus lived a perfect life among us.  Jesus offered Himself the innocent victim in our place, because of our hate, our fear, our grudges, our infidelity, impatience and greed.  Jesus rose from the dead to forgive our failure and to raise us up to eternal life.  In Him we find true love, real commitment, deep trust, lasting forgiveness, the greatest reliability, true happiness, satisfaction and contentment.

The death and the resurrection of Jesus is the deep reality that is underneath everything else.  He calls us to follow Him.  He promises to be with us always.  He assures us of our place in the family of God.  In Him we are truly alive!  It’s not fantasy, but it’s more real than anything else can be.

We live in this reality when we hear and believe the promises of God’s Word.  May God keep you there now and always!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

march madness

Spring is about to begin in the middle of one of the "holiest" times of the year. Lent? Easter? No - March Madness! Actually, for all but one team in the NCAA Tournament, March Madness quickly turns into March Sadness.

Jesus’ prediction of his suffering and death in the Gospels bring another form of March Madness. No doubt Peter thought Jesus had lost his mind, and even rebuked him for thinking such thoughts. Peter’s Messiah was not going to be Isaiah’s suffering servant, but an invincible monarch that would save Israel by defeating the Romans. This talk about being rejected, suffering and dying was sheer madness. What was Jesus thinking? He had never talked like this. What was He talking about?

The great philosopher Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Jesus was at a crossroads and it was time to make a decision. He knew which way to go. It was time to head south toward Jerusalem and confront the pharisees, the scribes, and the religious leaders. It was time to trade in all the adoring crowds for hostile ones, time to take up his cross, time to die for the sins of the whole world.  It was time to change the course of his ministry, and he knew it whether anyone else did or not.  It was time to put on His game face - it was game time.

March madness was looming and he needed to prepare his unsuspecting disciples.
“He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again." - Mark 8

Lent is not only the time for March Madness on the basketball court.  More importantly, it is the time for us to follow our Lenten Lord, to go with Jesus to Jerusalem, even though we know that madness awaits. For it is there He will sacrifice Himself for us, take one for the team, and suffer great pain and loss so that we can have joy and victory forever in heaven with Him.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

just wandering...

on the night of full moon, heavenly bodies appear 
two lonely wanderers in the west, so far yet so near,
come together to join in celestial conjunction
in what must be a match made in heaven

ancient words come to mind
from the song book of all time
love and faithfulness meet together
righteousness and peace kiss each other

and words from a prophet who foresaw this wonder...
lift up your eyes and look to the heavens
who created all these?
he who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls them each by name
because of his great power and mighty strength
not one of them is missing