Monthly Archives: April 2014

Resurrection

fastTomorrow we celebrate resurrection! Resurrection is the great announcement of the momentous fact that Christ has finished the work He came to do. Resurrection brings tremendous hope, not only because it proves Jesus’ deity, His power over death, and His victory over Satan, but it’s a grand announcement the each one of us can experience that same resurrection power in Christ. You see, on Easter Sunday, we celebrate the greatest comeback in the history of mankind and we celebrate the hope that is our in Christ!

As some of you know, I dedicated the last 40 days, the season of Lent, to fast from Facebook. In actuality, I never broke the fast on Sundays and really fasted for 46 days. The announcement of my fast was the third most read post in the history of my blog. It generated discussion and it motivated others to consider fasting from it as well. And while that is all great stuff, the greatest thing the fast did, is what it did for me. You see, this Facebook fast sparked in me a sort of resurrection of my heart.

As I said in my announcement, I imagined that I would have more time, more joy, a deeper conviction with God, become more connected to friends, be more present with family and be more content. And all that is true. However, deeper than that, I felt something lift within my spirit, that I haven’t felt for a long time. Perhaps it was the joy and contentment I felt I would experience, but I know it wasn’t a circumstantial feeling. It was much deeper than that. And I remember telling a friend, “I feel alive again” in the very early stages of this fast and wondering if it was simply the entrance of spring or the fast. I choose to give credit to God’s work in my life, as I practiced this spiritual discipline in my life.

This past week, as my son Zach and I were rounding the corner to our home, he asked me if I would continue my fast from Facebook. When I asked why, he stated that he “enjoyed spending that extra time with me” and that “he didn’t want it to end.” And while I didn’t make the promise that my fast would continue, I did promise that my management of Facebook was going to significantly change. You see, while I currently plan to keep my account, my plan is to keep it simply as a tool of communication and significantly limit the amount of time I spend on it. But if I see my moods and behaviors shift, well then I will need to reevaluate this decision all together and perhaps pull the plug for good.

Resurrection gives hope! It signals that we get a new start. It reminds us that the victory is ours in Christ. I am grateful for resurrection. And I am looking forward to relating to Facebook in a new way because of the renewed sense of God’s resurrection power I have experienced in these last 46 days. To God be the glory!

What Would I Have Seen?

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to share a brief devotional, along with an incredible team of teachers, on the events of Palm Sunday, from the perspective of the crowd. Each of us got 5 minutes to unpack Jesus’ journey into Jerusalem. It was a powerful service. Feel free to watch the whole service or just dial in about 34 minutes into the video to catch my part.

Ministry is Messy

oxenWithout oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest. – Proverbs 14:4, NLT

Ministry is messy! I’ll never forget where I was when I heard this ministry axiom for the first time. I was a brand new intern at Lakeside Church, attending a leaders event at the Lake Natoma Inn in Folsom, when our Senior Pastor Brad Franklin shared these wise words from the wisest man in the world, King Soloman. Even though I was new to the staff of Lakeside Church, I wasn’t new to ministry and I remember wanting to shout, “Amen!”.

You see, there is often a collision that happens in ministry between those that want everything neat, orderly and predictable and the oxen who make messes. In the church world, these collisions usually occur between administrators and leaders, but these collisions can also be the result of different personalities as well. However, as the proverb implies, much is accomplished by the strength of the ox. And when you have oxen in the stable, it’s not as clean as you want it to be. That’s because, ministry–real person-to-person, life-to-life, broken vessel-to-broken vessel ministry–is messy!

In my years in ministry, I have worked with a lot of oxen. Truth be told, I prefer working with oxen. They accomplish things. Even back in in my days as the Executive Pastor at Lakeside Church, I often felt as if I was the “pooper scooper dude” at the zoo! But, like the optimistic kid in a room full of manure, I knew that that there had to be a horse (or in this case an oxen) in the room! In fact, the more productive the leader, the messier things sometimes got. These are God’s words and should remind us to give the oxen the benefit of the doubt when much is being accomplished. The mess is usually not intentional, it’s usually a by product of their strength.

In looking at the Scriptures, it was the messy people who Jesus preferred to work with. He loved the unlovely. He touched the untouchables. He blessed the broken. But remember, it was the religious people that wanted things orderly, that Jesus had issue with.

Jesus certainly knew that ministry could get messy. He performed amazing miracles, like healing the sick, and got criticized for it by the religious leaders. But what was Jesus’ response? He had compassion. He took abuse and mockery from the Roman soldiers and willingly let himself be nailed to the cross. All because he understood his purpose and knew that ministry was messy, but also so worth it.

I guess the question for us all is…will  we welcome and serve the ones whom God loves, even when the work is messy? Even when it means our plans might not go as planned? Or something didn’t happen exactly as we had hoped? May we never forget that we, too, stumbled into his courts naked and blind, wretched and poor. And may we never forget that God takes the messes of our lives each day and makes something beautiful.

Palm Sunday Reflection

palm-sunday-title-slide053I’m not sure how the word spread, but as Jesus was preparing to enter Jerusalem, the people of Israel gathered and awaited his arrival. Now up to this point, the Jews knew of the miracles that Jesus had done, and that he was a remarkable teacher, but this great gathering wasn’t about celebrating what Jesus had done, rather it was a greeting of hopeful expectation of what Jesus was about to do! You see, all along Jesus had been teaching that the Kingdom of God was at hand, and for some reason the Jews believed that the long awaited Messiah, the future king of Israel was about to present himself and liberate the people from the oppression of their Roman rulers.

So the city was wild with excitement and I imagine that as they waited the people imagined what this moment might look like. Perhaps they pictured a military King who would ride into town on a stallion prepared for battle. Or they imagined a mighty King who would bring soldiers with him, perhaps even some chariots. Or they thought about a powerful king who would finally take his rightful thrown as the King of the Jews.

But as soon as Jesus came into plain view, there was no stallion for this Messiah, just a donkey on loan. There was no army for this Messiah, just a small band of common fisherman. And this Messiah was no defeater of Romans; he was just a Galilean carpenter.

Now I imagine that if we were to find ourselves in the crowd today – yelling and cheering and waving our palm branches as Jesus enters into Jerusalem, that we like the Jews would probably be caught up in the emotion of the moment, so excited that the moment of liberation had finally come! And yet, as Jesus turns the corner, something within us balks as Jesus approaches on a donkey, and our grasp around our cloaks begins to tighten, and we ask, “Is this really the Messiah?”

And just like the Jewish people in this story had to do, we have to lay down our cloaks before Jesus, setting aside our assumptions, our hopes, our plans AND worship Jesus for who He is, not what we want Him to be. You see the Jews wanted a reigning king and instead welcomed a suffering servant! And while Jesus wasn’t going to bring the political liberation they were hoping for, I imagine that there were some who got a glimpse of Messiah for who is truly is and what he longs to do in our lives…bring us true spiritual liberation!

So I think the questions for us this day is: What kind of king do you prefer to follow? What’s stopping you from laying down our cloaks before Jesus? Why are you holding on so tight? And would it really be so bad if we let go? Would it really be so bad if we trusted God more than we trusted ourselves? I think if we’re able to do that – we’ll be one step closer to experiencing the liberation that Jesus came to bring.

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