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Good Friday


It’s not Good Friday because it was happy or sad.  It simply was good.  Good because He was doing good for us. 

The Plan of Forgiveness


Toward the end of the service, the Minister asked, “How many of you have forgiven your enemies?” 80% held up their hands.

The Minister then repeated his question. All responded this time, except one small elderly lady.

“Mrs. Jones? Are you not willing to forgive your enemies?” “I don’t have any,” she replied, smiling sweetly.

“Mrs. Jones, that is very unusual. How old are you?”

“Ninety-eight,” she replied.

“Oh, Mrs. Jones, would you please come down in front and tell us all how a person can live ninety-eight years & not have an enemy in the world?”

The little sweetheart of a lady tottered down the aisle, faced the congregation, and said: “I outlived the old hags.”

********

Some people ask where I get these.  I really have no idea….and if I did, I woudn’t say.  Haha

Link for this week: It takes 2 minutes to watch.

This week’s focus is just as difficult for me as last week’s was. This week we focus on forgiveness. Most of us have a problem with forgiveness. We think we deserve forgiveness when we’ve done something wrong, but we have a hard time handing it out when someone has done something wrong towards us. So what we need here is a good working understanding of ‘forgiveness.’

As we’re still working through Matthew 6, Jesus speaks this next request in the model prayer in a different way than we might expect. The way He words this prayer to the Father puts weight on us. The question isn’t only for God to forgive us. We are asking Him to do so in the process of us forgiving those who have sinned against us too. Action required. This isn’t just a “gimmee” request. Jesus knows that would be too easy…and against the true purpose of forgiveness.

Here’s how I look at this. Forgiveness is conditional, but handed out freely. We have to ask for it. We have to be at a point where we believe with our whole heart that Jesus died and rose as the Son of God to bear the punishment for our personal sins…as well as the sins of our neighbor, family member or enemy. Thus, if He can forgive them, we need to do the same.

My guess is that everyone has gathered in close to Jesus as He’s speaking this to the crowd in this section of Scripture. Heads are nodding in agreement with the short statements. “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name,” has been spoken and the “Amens” go up. Jesus says, “Your will be done, here on Earth like it is in Heaven,” and those around Him speak out “Yes Lord” in agreement with the statement of prayer. Jesus then talks about asking for our daily needs. I can hear the people responding again in agreement. Most of them are not pulling down a million five per year. They get it. Then comes the next statement. I can hear Jesus speak, “And forgive us our debts…” and the people’s copy cat response…”Yes please Lord.” Then Christ drops the next line…”as we forgive our debtors.” This is where I can see faces drop to the ground. People look at each other with “uh oh” written on their face. There might even be a few who begin to walk away.

Ok, let’s ask the hard question. What if God forgave us like we forgive other people? How would your eternal salvation look based on your grace and mercy towards others who have wronged you? “Uh Oh!” Don’t walk away!

What is our purpose as a Christian? Jesus asked us to forgive like the Father…in a very dramatic way non-the-less…so this has to fit into this Christian living thing we’ve signed up for. God wants people back with Him like it was in the beginning (Genesis). We, as believers in Jesus, are called the church. The church is called the body of Christ. Therefore the body, you and I, are suppose to look and act and think and behave as Christ would. Christ is forgiving. We are asked to be forgiving in the same way.

What’s the purpose of forgiveness? Why do we need to forgive? Why do we need forgiven? When we see the true purpose I’m sure we will find the reason Jesus wants us to forgive like His Father does. Forgiveness is the only way to fix the problem between us and God. We’ve sinned. He’s perfect. It may seem like we’re completely stuck in a different place than the original plan…by our choice. God’s forgiveness makes a way for us to be back with Him. Forgiveness between people does the same thing. It makes a way for healing to begin. It gets junk out of the way. Satan hates forgiveness, because it messes up everything in his strategy to keep us away from God. When you forgive someone as God forgives, whether you think they deserve it or not, you put handcuffs on Satan. You are acting like God. God loves to see us act like Him…it brings glory to His name (Hallowed be your name). When you forgive, its like you’re turning to God and saying, “Ok, it’s not about me…it’s all about you.” People will see this attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:5) and God promises that through you taking the humble position, others will not see you, but God himself (Matthew 5:16). Purpose defined.

Here’s the specific question. Do people, even our enemies, see God through our acts, words and attitude of forgiveness?

Questions for growth:

  • What do you think is a good way to get better at forgiving?
  • Who do you need to forgive?
  • Do you need to do it vocally or publicly?
  • Have you forgiven yourself like God has through His son’s death?
  • Are you willing to forgive even if you feel it will get you nowhere with a certain person?

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

John Maxwell on Forgiveness

July 14, 2011 1 comment

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Divorce Proof…God’s Way

March 18, 2011 Leave a comment

 

Divorce Proof…God’s Way

The newlywed wife said to her husband when he returned from work, “I have great news for you. Pretty soon, we’re going to be three in this house instead of two.”

Her husband ran to her with a smile on his face and delight in his eyes.

He was glowing of happiness and kissing his wife when she said, “I’m glad that you feel this way since tomorrow morning, my mother moves in with us.”

This is “part deux” of our little study of marriage and divorce.  Our text is still from the words that Jesus spoke on the Sermon on the Mount.  In Matthew 5, Jesus does not mix words about marriage and divorce.  And the reason, we have to remember, is because the covenant of marriage was created by His Father.  Things of God are to not be taken lightly or trivially.  Marriage is one of those things…and divorce, for one reason or another, is the breaking of a covenant.

 

Again, before I even write any more, Jesus died on the cross for second chances.  If you are reading this wondering if you could ever be given a second chance after divorce or a messed up relationship…Jesus died and rose for that very reason.  Just ask for forgiveness from Jesus.  It is that simple.  Also, remember that just as Jesus can forgive us, we need to ask forgiveness from those we may have wronged through a break up.  On the other side of that coin, we need to forgive as well.  Tough stuff…but you can do it.  You will be blessed through the process.

 

Now back to the focus of creating an environment inside and around your future or present marriage commitment that does not allow for divorce.  The first thing might sound cliché, but it needs to be said.  God needs to be first in your life.  Without Him, you won’t see the design that He has laid out for the lives of His creations.  God has designed humans, male and female, with differences that only He can explain…and He has through His word.  Marriage was designed and created by God as well.  There are specific things, gifts, abilities, strengths, that He has given us to compliment a life-long mate.

 

The second thing might at first give you the feeling that you’re being boxed in.  If that’s the case, then please just be patient as I take a moment to outline my thought.  If number one is THE priority in your life, then number two should come easier.  Commit to staying inside the boundaries that God placed around the institution of marriage and commit to accepting them as He has stated them.  This is the hard part.  We’re selfish.  That might sound harsh, but we all are.  We think about ourselves and our feelings and our emotions.  But it’s not about us…it’s about Him.

 

Marriage is between one man and one woman.  God started with the marriage of His first two humans, Adam and Eve.  That’s the only way God defines it.  Marriage is supposed to be life-long.  That’s the only way God defines it…we know that from last week’s discussion on divorce.  Marriage is not living together…Jesus talks to the woman at the well about this.  Marriage is to always be about loving the other person.  Ephesians 5 defines this for both husband and wife.  These are God’s definitions.  The world, however, has come up with its own definitions.

 

So with these two things, we can figure that if we get farther away from God…or we walk outside of His boundaries, marriage will never be what it was intended to be for us or our children.  Yes, I know…I had to throw the kids in there…but they are a part of the original design.  Again, marriage isn’t about us.  It’s about God and our spouse and if applicable…our kids.

 

Ok…so here we are.  There’s the foundation.  We know we’re not perfect.  And many of you reading will say, “Well, I’ve messed it up.”  Yes, I’m in the same boat.  We’re all going to fall short of the perfect mark.  But that never means that we should settle for less…because when we settle for less it affects other people and our relationship with God.  What do we do then when we realize that God isn’t first, or we’ve messed things up with the people who are inside of them family we’ve helped create?

 

First thing.  Choose to change.  Ok…another simple answer that will take hard work.  Many of you might be saying ‘Easier said than done.’  Very true.  It’s always easy to say something rather than do something.  But when it comes down to it, what do you want?  If you really want a better relationship with God or a better relationship with your future or present spouse…you’ll do the hard work.  But that’s only if you really want it.  God has promised that we will have His Peace, His Blessings, and His Compliments when we walk with Him.  Oh that reminds me…It’s not us alone trying to change.  If we are truly walking with Him, it’s us and Him together doing the hard work.  You have a training coach…a partner.  The One who designed the system is going to mentor you in it.  You don’t often get a relationship like that this side of Heaven.

 

Change is tough.   I just read a story from leadership guru John Maxwell that detailed an emergency trip to the hospital.  He was having a heart attack.  The attending physician did immediate surgery and saved John’s life.  It was a new procedure.  One year earlier, the older standby procedure was still in place.  The Dr. told John that the new procedure saved his life.  If they hadn’t had changed, the old procedure would not have saved his life.  Change can be good.  John then had to change eating behaviors, lifestyle habits, etc.  Change is keeping John healthier…and…let’s just say it…alive.

 

What are you willing to change for the sake of God and your partner?  Are you willing to stay inside healthy dating habits as you approach marriage?  Will you commit to staying pure sexually?  Will you choose to keep living arrangements separate until marriage?  If you’re already married, are you willing to stop selfish attitudes that might be harmful?  Are you willing to give up your wants for more gain in the end in relationship to your wife and children?  What are you willing to change?  Are you willing to get help if necessary?  Are you willing to say to God that you want His plan rather than the world’s plan?  Are you willing to do the hard work?  I hope so.  Believe me, many reading this are saying…this has ‘Me’ written all over it.  Meaning…you’re not in the boat alone.  There are always bumps in the road.  Sometimes there are huge pot holes.  Sometimes the bridge is out…there is no road.  But God, the one who created the universe, can recreate roads and bridges.  Again, are you willing?  He wants you to be.  He’s your biggest cheerleader!  He wants you to either start right…or start over right.  He is the God of second chances.  Take the second chance He’s offering you.

 

Summary:  How to divorce proof marriage?  Accept God and His ways for marriage and follow them.  Blessings will follow.

 

PS – I know that we’re talking about marriage here, but as Paul states in Ephesians 5, we are talking ultimately about God’s Kingdom and about Christ our savior.  When we operate within the rules of the Kingdom, we show others that God is number one in our lives and that being with Him is a great place to be.  Other’s will notice that and wonder why we have Peace in the midst of a perceived storm.  The Kingdom will keep moving forward.  As Jesus said, “…the gates of Hell…” won’t stop us.

 

Divorce

March 11, 2011 1 comment

 

DIVORCE

Matthew 5:31-32, John 4:4-26, John 8:3-11, 2 Samuel 12:24-25

I usually start these articles out with some small humor…not so these past couple weeks and for the next couple as well.  I simply don’t see Jesus grinning when He gets to this point of the ‘Sermon on the Mount.’  He is laying out what will be the basis for His ministry.  The principles behind the standards.  He’s laying out, for everyone to see, the reasons God handed down the 10 House Rules.  Oh, and He’s going to also live them perfectly for all of us to learn from.  This week we’re talking about divorce, and I feel that I need to lay some Scriptural foundation before talking about it directly.  My mind works in pathways.  I need to see starting points before I fully understand why we do something now.  So I’ll start with Adam and Eve.  Seems logical if we’re going to talk about couples/family/marriage.

Adam and Eve were created for each other (Genesis 2:22-24).  They were created from the same dust…literally, because Adam’s rib connected these two creations.  One was formed out of another.  We were made for God and for each other and literally out of each other.  We were created to…together…be caretakers for God’s creation.  God’s given purpose.   Adam and Eve also were called to bring more people into the world.  God’s given purpose.  Then sin came in.

Another point of principle.  Jesus tells us there are two priority commands.  Love God with everything you have.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  These two commands give us a picture of the first couple and their God.  But sin came in.

Jesus teaches that we are to lift other’s needs over and above our own (Matthew 23:11).  This fits very nicely into the basic principles we already see.  Other people’s needs are to be our priority.  We become less.   Those we serve become our focus.  Fits into marriage very well too, wouldn’t you agree?  But sin came in.

Paul writes that marriage is a picture of the church (Ephesians 5).  When we are in submission to each other as Ephesians 5:21-22 states we should be, it gives the picture of a couple in submission to Christ, to God the Father….a picture of how it was at the beginning…before sin came in.

But we know what happens.  Sin comes in.  We slack in our commitment to our fellow man and our spouse.  We think more about ourselves than our neighbor or our partner in life.  We do stupid things to jeopardize the commitment/covenant between us.  Sin comes in.

Now, let’s look at divorce.  Divorce is a picture of when things (sin, unintended consequences, and selfishness) come in and scrub out the picture God created for mankind.  Divorce has been the word used when a covenant is broken inside of marriage, or when two people simply don’t want the covenant to stand any longer.  Both are called sin.  Please remember, this isn’t Ed speaking.  This is Jesus in Matthew chapter 5.

Anything in life that pulls us away from God and our neighbor, from the intended purpose posed by God Himself, is sin.  That’s why Jesus has to call divorce sin.  It can be nothing else.  There is the one rule, that He stands firm on when divorce is ok.  It’s when the specific sin of adultery has been committed.  And, oh…remember what Jesus said was real adultery?  Lust.  Crud.  Most marriages are now open for legal divorce!  But remember what we’re talking about.  Jesus is laying down the basics…which are super hard teachings.  This stuff shows us how Holy God is and how imperfect we are…and why Jesus COULD be the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

Ah!  Forgiveness.  One of my favorite songs is called Second Chances and it’s from the Veggie Tales movie of Jonah.  Jonah has ran away from God…divorced himself from God.  God follows…and never gives up the chase.  While in the belly of the great fish…a classic song moment…Jonah hears that God is the God of second chances.

The woman at the well found that after 5 husbands and one live-in relationship, Jesus was willing to change her life and forgive her (John 4).  After hearing the accusations of the religious leaders against one woman, Jesus spoke just a few words to give us a picture of who is judge.  She was caught in adultery.  And even without specific witnesses, it seems it was true from what Jesus said.  The leaders wanted to stone her…and for Jesus to approve.  It didn’t happen.  They couldn’t take away her sin…they could just kill her in her sin.  Jesus can both take the sin away and destroy the consequence of death for us as well…and He did.  She walked away forgiven and with the encouragement to leave her life of sin.  King David committed adultery.  He laid his heart bare before God under the weight of guilt for forgiveness.  He knew he had ruined the perfect picture of a husband and wife before their creator God.  After an unintended consequence and forgiveness, God blessed him and his wife and their second child.

God is in the business of saying the past is in the past.  But He also says, “Don’t go back there and pick it up or repeat it again.”  I also believe that He, through the words of Jesus His son, intends for us to make amends with what we have done in the past.  We need to forgive and ask for forgiveness.  It’s only fair.  He offers it to us…and we don’t even deserve it.

Basics:  Is divorce wrong?  Yes…except in only one circumstance…and Jesus even made that circumstance broader to where we all have committed adultery.  Is it a sin that can be forgiven?  Yes.  Can we use forgiveness as an excuse for divorce?  Ummm, probably not.  Jesus is perfect and knows our reasons.   Can people forgive each other for wrongs done within a past marriage?  Yes…Jesus died for us.  We can change our heart as well.  Believe it or not, many divorced couples may be standing near each other in Heaven forever…and ever…forgive and ask forgiveness now on this side of eternity.

For everyone…divorced or not…plan for a relationship with God as He intended and plan for a marriage/family as He intended.  Lift the other person up higher than yourself as He intended.  And through it all, seek forgiveness and God’s strength to carry on through the hard things.

Side note.  Many have said that God will not give us more than we can handle.  I’ve heard this from many people who have contemplated leaving a relationship, a job, a church family etc.  That’s a lie from Satan.  God always gives us more than we can handle because it’s not just us anymore.  If we’re a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives with us.  So…anything that God allows us to walk through…we’re not ever walking alone.  The misconception comes from a verse that says that He will never tempt us with more than we can handle.  I take that to mean that He will always provides us with a way out before we step into sin.

Live by the standards.  And when you mess up, turn around and call your sin what it is.  Ask for forgiveness to carry on.  Our relationships with God and with each other are to be examples for other people.  Is there a chance others will see our “dirty laundry?”  Yes, but when they see us living in peace, that only comes through forgiveness and grace, they will see Jesus.  And that the highest purpose of all that we do.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

So what about life?….

February 18, 2011 Leave a comment

I was sitting in the waiting room of the hospital after my wife had gone into labor and the nurse walked out and said to the man sitting next to me, “Congratulations sir, you’re the new father of twins!”

The man replied, “How about that, I work for the Doublemint Chewing Gum Company.” The man then followed the woman to his wife’s room.

About an hour later, the same nurse entered the waiting room and announced that Mr. Smith’s wife has just had triplets.

Mr. Smith stood up and said, “Well, how do ya like that, I work for the 3M Company.”

The gentleman that was sitting next to me then got up and started to leave. When I asked him why he was leaving, he remarked, “I think I need a breath of fresh air.” The man continued, “I work for 7-UP.”

Life.  Life is precious.  Many who will read this no doubt have been on both sides of the word “precious.”  Because life is precious, it can bring both extreme happiness and extreme sadness.  Life is a gift of God.

 

Life began in the Garden of Eden.  Specifically, human life became the crown jewel of creation when on the 6th day God formed man and woman and breathed into their lungs.  They were alive.  Hearts were beating.  Blood was flowing through their veins.  Their eyes could see.  Their hands could feel the touch of God’s hand in them.  You know how it feels to walk out on a cool morning and take a deep breath.  Adam and Eve took the very first refreshing deep breaths ever.

 

God created them.  That’s where we start with the subject of life.  We cannot start anywhere else. All of our ideas about human kind have to start here.  All of our considerations towards the value of life have to start here.  God created.

 

We do, however, have an adversary that wants to alter where we start when we think about ‘human life.’  Satan would rather us start thinking and feeling with our own thoughts of humanity…based on our emotions, experiences, selfishness, and the worldly values that often seep into our hearts.  Satan would want us to forget Who it was that began life itself.

 

David, the ancient King and Psalmist, said that God knew Him before he was formed (Psalm 139).  David wrote that God formed him and watched him as he grew in his mother’s womb (Psalm 139).  Incredible insight.

 

We also see how important life is through the life of Jesus.  Christ died for humanity.  If humanity was something that could be defined by science or evolution theories, I’m not sure we’d need a buried and risen savior.  Jesus died for our very existence.  God created…Jesus saved.

 

Next…again, based on what we know and believe…there is a place in Heaven being prepared for us (John 14:2).  God Created.  Jesus Saved.  God is planning on us being with Him again.  I’m not sure about you, but through the eyes of God…human life is precious.

 

The 10 Commandments speak also of God’s feelings towards His creation.  We are not to kill one another.  We are not to lie to one another.  We are not to steal from one another.  We are to respect each other possessions and family as well as our own.  God Created…and created a life plan.  Jesus Saved.  God is planning for us to be with Him again for eternity.

 

If we base all of what we believe about human life on just these things, we see why Jesus said the greatest commandment is in two parts…Love God, and Love the others that He created as well.

 

I’m so glad there’s forgiveness when it comes to how I/we treat each other. From abortion, to lying, to hate, to selfishness, to jealousy, to adultery, to murder, to stealing…we have all fallen short of God’s plan for life.  Adam and Eve had a taste…they lost it.  We now have a chance to taste the forgiveness that will lead to a life with God again…hand in hand.  The greatest thing is that we have the privilege of being asked to participate in passing this blessing around (Genesis 12:2-3).

 

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

No Plan B

January 21, 2011 Leave a comment

“Relevance is a consequence of kingdom living, not a cause.” Rick McKinley

 

How did Jesus get things done?  He was the master organizer and the ultimate project analyst.  He had a plan…The Plan…and 2000 years later that Plan is still going strong.  If we would take a few minutes to peak into His Plan and how He is accomplishing it, we might see that we all have a part to play in this Master Plan.

 

First we need to know what the plan is for.

 

Goal:  Everyone has the opportunity for full forgiveness so they can be in Heaven forever with their Creator.

 

Adam and Eve had no clue what pain or time or frustration or sin was until they were hip deep in it.  They were in a place where they were wholly with God, face to face and hand in hand.  Jesus is the final piece of a huge strategy to get us back in a position so this can happen for each one of us.  Sin must be done away with…evil defeated.

 

Jesus begins his ministry around the age of 30 after His baptism and a short time of temptation in the wilderness.  In the passage, we read of Jesus beginning by preaching about repentance in Galilee.  My guess is that most people in Galilee had heard the news about Jesus preaching, healing, and forgiving many.  Obviously, lots of people were accepting Him as the one the prophets had talked about.  He had instant fame by human standards.  His message was not just popular though…it made sense if He was who He said He was.  It made perfect sense to the first men that Jesus approached, because when He said, “Follow me,” they did just that.  His message had been clear.  He was who they were looking for.

 

Given that, Andrew, Simon, James and John’s friends probably thought this a huge deal…rather than a weird thing they were doing.  It made sense.  Their decision to follow made sense with the message they had heard from their forefathers and Jesus’ own lips.  Jesus’ message was understood.  It lined straight up with what they had been told since they were little boys.  Thus, if this was really God’s own Son…why NOT follow him?!

 

Jesus’ plan wasn’t really His.  It was His Father’s (John 5:19)…and He said that He can only do what God the Father was doing.  This movement started long before He was born in human skin on planet Earth.  The plan for salvation began when God’s first children walked away from Him.  Therefore, God is not only clear about this plan through His Son, Jesus, He is very un-changing all the way through the Bible.  He’s been committed to this plan for a very long time.  Jesus is committed to this plan as well.  He calls us to join Him and commit ourselves to the plan too.

 

This is a plan that has been clear since the beginning.  Now…not all of it has been revealed since the start…but each step was clear.  Examples:  “Abraham, you’re going to have a kid,” “Joseph, you’re going to be OK…you’re one of mine,” “Moses, just go back to Egypt and help me free my kids,” “David, one from your family is going to be The One,” “Micah, tell everyone that He’s coming …specifically to Bethlehem,” “Mary, you’re going to be a mommy,” “Zachariah, your soon to be son will be like the one called Elijah,”  “Hey shepherds, He’s here…go check it out,” “Yes, Herod, be very afraid,” ….and on and on and on.

 

Each one of these people had a point of either committing to truth or walking away from it.  Truth stands…it was their decision to mark their part of the story with the rest or not.  And here we are today.  We’ve heard Truth.  It is consistent with what the Bible says from beginning to end.  It is also consistent with much of human written history…go figure.  So what do we do?

 

We have a choice to make.  Do we join this earth age movement, which hell can’t stop, or do we … well you fill in the blank.  From my perspective, this makes sense.  Life is short.  We are privileged to be invited to have a part to play in this plan.  Like those first disciples said, “Let’s go!”

 

Sometimes we ask ourselves if we’re being relevant as a church family or even individually as a disciple.  I love the first quote by Rick McKinley from his book The Beautiful Mess, “Relevance is a consequence of kingdom living, not a cause.”  We can have a part … just live like we’re really part of this Kingdom plan.

 

I like the way Manafest puts it in the band’s new song No Plan B, “I know that this road is my destiny, I’ve got to stick to the plan, cause there’s no plan B.”  Jesus has only a plan A because it is working and it is perfect and it is from His Father.  We don’t need a plan B.  Only plan A will work.  Are you in?

 

ed

 

Grow Questions:

  • What holds us back from simply saying “Yes” like Peter, Andrew, James and John?
  • Is our/your message “flock worthy”?  (See Matthew 4:23-25)
  • How do you live this message daily in your schedule wherever you are?
  • Does your daily message sound/look like you follow someone who came back from the dead?

 

Nailed to the Cross

March 26, 2010 Leave a comment

What if what happened then changes everything now?

3/28/10

I Have the Promise of Eternal Life – Palm Sunday

Luke 23:35-43

The lesson this week is just one of those that are bitter sweet. The reason is that it both reminds us of what we are and what we have. We often need to hold close the fact that we need a savior/sacrifice. In the same sense, we also need to grip to the promise that our imperfection is being perfected.

Probably the most simple illustration of how one person can choose to deny Jesus and another can embrace him is in our story today. Luke records in his Gospel that while on the cross, Jesus hung between two thieves…on their respective crosses. One thief makes Jesus out to be a bum. The other asks Jesus to remember him. Jesus ignores the first, but to the one that humbled himself, Christ says, “Soon, you’ll be with me in Heaven.”

Wow, can you image what that thief then felt. Sure he was on a cross. His arms were probably tied to the cross beam. He had probably been beaten. He probably couldn’t breathe. He probably felt guilt for what he had done. However, Jesus just said, “See you on the other side…you’ll be with me.” I can imagine that a small grin came over that thief’s face. His next breath might have been one of peace…like inhaling deep when you walk outside on a crisp spring morning. A peace was there that wasn’t there before. Dying was now not an end…it was a beginning.

Rembrandt painted a crucifixion scene with himself at the base of the cross. Wow, to have that immortalized in art history forever. It seemed he wanted to visualize himself at the point in eternity where Jesus died for specifically him and his sins. Mel Gibson tells the story that when it came to point of recording the scene where the guard nails Jesus’ hands to the cross, he wanted his hands doing the nailing in the scene. It is considered the highest honor to be chosen as the male who is picked to represent Jesus in many Latin American celebrations of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The person picked is beaten and actually nailed to a cross.

Why would someone want to get that close to the scene of death? Why would someone want to remember Jesus in these ways? Well, I would pose that they are not remembering Jesus’ death. They are remembering that they were partly the reason Jesus had to die. It’s personal! It’s all about them…and believe me, that’s not a pride thing. Jesus wants us to know that it’s all about us. We are why he died. He wanted to give us a gift. He wants us to grin a little…to take in a deep breath of peace like the fresh spring air…and to know that we will be with Him forever.

My Life Can Change

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Matt 26:36-27:10, John 21:15-19


This week, we,re focusing on the two circumstances of Peter and Judas. First, both denied Christ. Judas denied Him by turning him into the authorities…obviously stating that this Jesus was not the Christ, but a bother to society…or Judas was just money hungry. Either way, Judas turned his back on Christ. Peter, 3 times, told people that he didn’t know Jesus. After the third time, Jesus turned from where he was standing and caught Peter’s stare. Peter’s guilt overcame him.

Now, we have to outcomes to these two decisions. Judas felt so guilty that he threw the money back to the priests saying that he should not have done this thing. He then, overcome with grief, committed suicide. Peter, well he stuck around. He was probably near when the crucifixion took place, but then quickly, along with the other disciples, locked himself in a house. At the word that Jesus tomb was empty, He and John ran to the place of burial to find it was empty. Some time later, Jesus was eating with his disciples and asked Peter if he loved Him….3 times. Significant? Yes.

Two men. Two different circumstances. Two different outcomes. Judas could not hang on to what he had done. Peter thought there might be hope for forgiveness.

Where are you? When you make bad choices, and you know it, do you ask for forgiveness and repent? Change is possible and a clean conscience is possible as well. Both come through Jesus. As we lead the people of this church family, will others see how we deal with bad judgment and choices? Will they see us holding on to Jesus and asking for forgiveness? Will they see us in true repentance…meaning that we do a U-Turn with our behavior? We can learn all about forgiveness and repentance, but until we experience it or see it in someone else’s life, we’ll never see it for what it truly is in Jesus.

The Third Purpose of Christmas

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

2 Corinthians 5:18-20

A Time for Reconciliaton

Christmas Carols for the Psychiatrically Challenged

*Schizophrenia — Do You Hear What I Hear?

*Multiple Personality Disorder — We Three Queens Disoriented Are

*Dementia — I Think I’ll be Home for Christmas

*Narcissistic — Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me

*Manic — Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Busses and Trucks and trees and Fire Hydrants and……

*Paranoid — Santa Claus is Coming to Get me

*Borderline Personality Disorder — Thoughts of Roasting on an Open Fire

*Personality Disorder — You Better Watch Out, I’m Gonna Cry, I’m Gonna Pout, Maybe I’ll tell You Why

*Obsessive Compulsive Disorder —Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells…

Most all of us are a bit more frazzled at Christmas time. We’re thinking about all the money we’re spending, or not spending. We’re wondering if we missed purchasing a gift for someone. There are parties everywhere, and everyone wants us to come. There are no longer the 3 or 4 special Christmas movies to watch with the family…there are the 25 Days of Christmas on 43 different networks. The malls are packed full. There’s email after email of “free shipping” notices. There are school plays and concerts and practices to be at. There’s the weight we all have to watch while we eat cookie after cookie after cookie after…. No wonder someone came up with the joke at the top of this page.

Mary and Joseph had to worry about a place to stay and a healthy birth. Mary was about to be a mommy…and Joseph a daddy. Oh, and there were visitors that had talked with angels and some that had followed a star. Then there was a couple elderly people who had waited their whole life to see the one foretold by the prophets of their ancestors.

For Joseph and Mary, the time around the birth was about … well, the birth of a special baby. Joseph wasn’t in stores or out decorating the front of the house; he was probably looking through the old scriptures to see what prophets had really said about this new king. Mary was probably wondering if she was going to get any bigger…and wondering when she could take naps…and wondering if she would have morning sickness.

I guess there was a search for PEACE on their parts…and there’s a constant search for PEACE on our part as well. I always remember the one verse that says, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

Do we treasure the meaning of Christmas? Do we ponder the meaning of Christmas? Do we really know what the gift of PEACE from God really means to us? Do you?

A long time ago, in a garden created by God, two people disobeyed their Creator. Things would never be the same between these three best friends. One is still perfect in love, the other two are now imperfect…unable to be with their creator anymore like it used to be. Things are not peaceful.

A long time after that, the Creator announced that there would be a perfect way to be together with his creation again. That perfect way would come through the birth, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus. True PEACE now could exist in anyone…PEACE between that person and God himself. That person, “whomsoever” as John 3:16 says, could now carry that PEACE with them…and hand it away to other people! The PEACE that can change one person’s life forever can now be lived out to changed families and communities and towns and nations.

Boy, PEACE sounds better that what we’ve all experienced around Christmas (see 1st paragraph). This PEACE is also something that we can have all the time. The name for this PEACE is Emanuel…God With Us. Acts 2:38 explains that when we come to accept Jesus, we receive gifts of forgiveness, eternal life and God With Us (the Holy Spirit).

Life can be simpler and more PEACEFUL. We just have to realize what REAL PEACE really is.

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