The After Easter Journey

Why did we take this journey to the cross? For me it was for the honesty that the cross demands. Have you noticed how no one lied from the cross? Whatever was in the deepest part of their souls came out, curse or cry. On this journey to the cross, I’ve been to the wilderness where I sifted through the voices in my head that accuse and push to make me feel not enough. I stayed until I could hear the One True Voice that reminded me of my identity in Christ. I have faced the truth that I was there when they crucified Jesus. I cannot glibly point my finger at the injustices of that cruel day and find absolution. “My sin, not in part but the whole” put him there. I have reviewed my betrayals,

Take Another Look!

Each person who investigated the tomb on that Easter day found the unexpected. Think about the soldiers who drew the short end of some lottery for all night duty. They were guarding a tomb to keep people from getting inside. They never expected they needed to guard the tomb to keep someone from getting out! Think about the women on their early morning trek. They would carefully prepare the body of Jesus to reduce the effects of death on it. They were not looking forward to seeing what death had already done to the one they loved. They never expected to be a welcome party for His release! Think about Peter and John who ran to the tomb, anger and disbelief boiling as they tried to make so

Waiting in the Dark

Darkness is our enemy when it comes out of order and unexpected. A power outage that wipes out electricity and our quick access to light makes us feel helpless and vulnerable. We arm ourselves with flashlights and candles and wait for the light to come back on. This is the picture of Saturday’s vigil following Friday’s crucifixion. People went back home, lost in a new darkness they had not expected. The hope who walked among them, healed and taught, stood up to Jewish leaders with authority, was dead. Darkness covered their lives. It was the dark of questions without any answers, the dark of hope gone, the dark that made normal impossible, maybe forever. And they did not expect the ligh

Why, God?

We prefer our saviors to look like one. Eugene Peterson paraphrased the first verse of Isaiah’s great prophecy: Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this! (Isaiah 53:1, Message) This is where the news commentator must make the disclaimer, the picture you are about to see contains disturbing images. Do you see Jesus wearing the crown of thorns pressed into his forehead, flesh-deep enough to stream blood down his face? His face has begun to swell from the abusive blows that had nothing to do with anyone’s justice. He slumps, shoulders bowed as the rough spun linen of his tunic rubs against the wounds of his freshly flogged back. And he says nothing. He is the teacher w

A Place at the Table

As Jesus and his disciples celebrate Passover, and nothing about the table was out of the ordinary. The disciples recognized the very symbolic meal that reviewed God’s rescue mission when the Jews were slaves of Egypt. Scripture says that “[Jesus] took his place at the table.” (Luke 22:14) What place was it? He acted as the host, the one who broke the bread and shared the cup. Jesus used the meal to prepare his disciples for what was coming. He talked about poured out blood and new covenant and betrayal. Betrayal. That’s when the disciples did what they did best; they missed the point. They began to argue about some unwritten pecking order perhaps to prove their innocence of any betra

He Emptied Himself

What does empty mean in a culture that loves full? We are about to take the last part of our journey. Everything we review in the next days moves us to the cross and the humbling truth that Jesus made this journey for us. But please don’t view it in the impersonal plural. This week was for you, premeditated in God’s great mercy, permitted by God’s unfailing love, and perpetrated by an eternal plan that spared nothing to provide you with the only way into eternal life. Don’t make these last days about a historical review. Don’t let head knowledge replace heart knowledge. The Christ-hymn in Philippians prepares us for this arduous part of our journey. How we respond to this passage tests w

Are We Palm Sunday People?

Are we Palm Sunday People? For real. Not just on Sunday? On Monday, too? Scripture to guide your way to the cross . . Saturday When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen. Luke 19:37 Who would you have been in this gathering? Why would you have joined the parade? Compare your answer to who you are as you gather to worship. Sabbath Open for me the gates where the righteous enter, and I will go in and thank the Lord. These gates lead to the presence of the Lord, and the godly enter there. Psalm 118:19-20, NLT As you enter your house of wo

Covered!

Why do we sugar-coat sin? Are we so insecure that we have exchanged rationalization for confession? David thought he could hide an ugly affair under a cloak of military courage and sacrifice. He thought if no one knew better, he could be the hero and rescue Bathsheba from the widowhood he caused. That’s the background for Psalm 32. Unfortunately, Nathan, the prophet, had to publicly confront David. David lost his right to privacy when he manipulated military deployment for personal gain. He forgot that God always sees into our heart. We can’t come before God in a costume of pretended ignorance. Forgiven, David sings a new song. He shares the beatitude of one who has no reason to hide a

Get Ready for Something New!

When God wants to do something new, stand back and watch a Master at work. He pairs unlimited resources with perfect timing to form something new that we could not produce by goals or dreams or hard work. If you can think it; it's not new! The bold announcement God made to His people in Isaiah has found me stuck in a life space I wanted out of more than once. I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? (Isaiah 43:19, NLT), Never did God swoop down from Heaven and take away my angst and struggle to bring me His new the first time I asked for it. Like wine, there is an aging process, a timing, and God refuses to ruin His new by giving it too early. When I ta

Really New

"When someone asks, "What's new?" we immediately think of something we bought or changed. However, really new is beyond what we can buy or change. We see old too quickly: the wrinkles in our face, the house that needs painting, the job that has soured, the future that no longer pulls, the relationship that has no spark. Old is something we want to get rid of, but it takes a lot of work and often more money than we can afford. So when Paul says we become new creations “in Christ” shouldn't we treat this as the announcement we have been waiting for? The answer to getting rid of old? The eternal fountain so many have looked for? God, the only authentic innovator who truly creates what couldn