Posts Tagged With: resurrection

Tangled Roots & Broken Branches

Opening up history and genealogy
unleashes a panoply of potential terror:
diving deep to see where we come from
in hopes of seeing where we will go.
Digging up roots and truths we really didn’t want to know.
Facing lies that unleash monsters of the past
into our present fascade.
Feeling intrigued and put off … kind of odd,
wanting to dig deeper, yet grieving at the loss of innocence.
Looking up, broken branches loom,
Rotten, bitter fruit
and mushrooms scatter on the ground-
a reminder that they feed on death,
out here in the wild.
Suddenly, I simply want to be a child
simple and free,
certainly not so guilty,
I just want to be loved for being me.
shame and fear loom overhead in the forest of the nations, as well as in the untended garden of peace,
fears and tears are slowly released,
and as they fall,
the stains upon the dim reflection wash away the grime
the crime of days gone by, and I behold,
The promises offered from the Eternal One to ancient fathers
I never knew … is it true?
I am a child of God.

A cutting to the core, torn away and grafted in,
Will I ever know the life-giving flow of life again?
The Gardner wraps me in His tender care.
Bound to His favored tree, he tends to me,
so I reach out to Him, my initial fruit is a simple hymn
The Anointed One is Risen!
He calls my name …
Master!
Love, unspoiled, whole, complete,
The past is trodden underneath His feet.
I want to cling, but run to meet
the fellowship of family united in the promised Seed.
Bitter tears are replaced with pleasant praise
Now I can stand tall and reach up for happy days
The King shall be touched by our fruit upon His head.
Christ is risen from the dead!!

Categories: Environmental Healing, Poem, Suffering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amid chaos, look to the God of order

God is not a god of disorder, but a God of peace.

He orders things and brings harmony. He doesn’t intentionally try to disturb us just to disturb us just to disturb us. Indeed, God desires that calm, quiet spirit in us that we find so sweet in wonderful friends we trust.

So why do we sometime go through the fire? Why must we face trials and tribulations if God wants to lead us in triumph?

Why did Paul say that soon satan would be trampled underfoot in his letter to the Romans and then get executed in Rome?

God uses our defeat to bring forth His victory. The Lord wants it totally clear that it is not this world that is the end, it is the world to come that we are to look for and pursue.

Yes, it is good to have joy while in this world.

But if our joy terminates in this world, then we are pitiful people.

Have you ever been to a funeral where some seemed at peace though they mourned and some seemed disheartened though they spouted off platitudes like “They are in a better place now.” One contains true joy, though the joy is decorated by tears of longing. The other is sorrow though it is paper mache’d over and sprinkled with glitter.

What is the difference between true hope and utter hopelessness?

Jesus.

He too faced a horrible death. He too did not want die, certainly not the way he did. But Jesus did want to bring many people into the Kingdom of God as children of God. The only way to open the door of death was to pass through it himself, so that others could triumph when they went through it.

And so too, when Paul, not fearing death, so opposed the evil of False Religions and False Justice that he was executed for his stand against worship of any mere man, he rejoiced in hope, knowing that the final victory is not in this world, but in the next. When we fix our eyes fully on the world to come and the joy that is awaiting us there, then we are free to endure hardship like good soldiers.

A soldier fights a battle for his allegiance to a better country. Christians stand firm in the faith knowing that a better world awaits when Christ returns.

Categories: Suffering | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Resurrection

Resurrection praised above the heroes of pagan peoples’ past:
Conquering fears, false confidence, and every sin.
The death prick was plucked out and wounds were healed
through him who was scourged for us and rose again.
Bearing burdens of all who’ve fallen into sin,
Lifting all who start to trust in Him,
He carried the beam outside the gates
and emptied the tomb for those who’d rest
and wait for the First Day to come.
He rose with healing wings
and simple, saving outstretched arms.
Light shines and darkness flees.
The day extends and terror ends.
Soon the nations will bend their knees.

Categories: Poem | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus came to give you a hard time … for now.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn:
a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.
Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

Perhaps you will disagree with the assertion in my title of this blog entry, but taken at face value, these words quoted above from Jesus’ sending of the 12 in Matthew 10 certainly do seem to agree with the title. The normal pattern of people on planet earth is to do other than what Jesus wants them to.

Oh, sure, people may be nice enough, they may participate in religious observances, even Christian religious observances, even often, but at their heart, people want to be comfortable in this world.

Jesus makes it clear: HE does NOT want you comfortable in this world. He wants you to find joy in the world to come. While the rage in Christian circles is to get people busy about their jobs, their careers, their families, their health, their ease and to enjoy this world and to share that joy in this world.

Jesus, being ever counter-cultural, calls us to get uncomfortable. “Leave your comfort zone,” is sometimes said to those going on short-term missions. However, we are to daily take up the cross and get uncomfortable for Jesus. We are no where in the Good News encouraged to be comfortable in the world. If you are comfortable in the world, you will be uncomfortable in eternity. That is a promise.

However, if you find your life right now uncomfortable, not just occasionally, but regularly, routinely, daily, you open up the way for the Kingdom of God. No longer is it about this world nor is it about you. Rather, it is about eternity. Your life is to be about God. 100%. Sold out, consumed with the vision of the Living Lord who guides and controls every moment of your life.

You are NOT your own. You belong to Jesus. You are no better than anyone else, but you do belong to Jesus. If you accept this as the mission for your life, you will have a reason to live and a reason to die. Jesus bought you with His life. Your life is now to be hidden with Christ in God. If you reject that, you reject hope, meaning, purpose, and a reason for living.

Oh, you will say, I am my own god. I define my own purpose.

Really? What happens when you die? All your efforts to define yourself will fall flat and you will be cast into hell. IF YOU define your purpose and YOU define your life and YOU define your destiny, the moment you get sick, the moment you die, your meaning is challenged and then extinguished.

However, because Jesus proved that meaning is not coterminous with one’s natural life by rising up out of the grave of His own accord, those who hide themselves in Jesus and accept Jesus Christ as the definition of their purpose suddenly have a life beyond this world.

Even if your own family members reject and crucify you and beat you and spit on you and persecute you, you will have meaning. God redeems your suffering if you let Him. However, you must look to Jesus Christ the righteous Suffering Servant when you are suffering if your suffering is to have meaning.

Notice, I do not merely say that you will feel good. There are many who feel good though they are ultimately going to be cast into hell. The wrapper on a fine chocolate may look and appear gorgeous, but the moment the chocolate is consumed and enjoyed and the chocolate reaches its fulfilment and the wrapper is cast aside into the trash, discarded, it is JUNK. People do not go to the candy store to buy wrappers, they go to buy confections. The wrapper is merely a transportation device for getting the goods from the factory to your home into your body so your heart will rejoice.

Likewise, our comforts in this body and in this world are merely means to an end. If we ever look at them as an end, we will be disappointed.

Yes, despise this world. Do not love it. Do not pursue a high place in the system of the present world. Your throne satan will be cast down and you will come to nothing.

Rather, if you want an enduring life, seek a low place. Seek humility. Seek poverty. Seek abandonment in the arms of the infinite Creator. You are not infinite. Anything you create has limits on how satisfying it can be. But if you look to God to create satisfaction in your heart, you will find it. Though the final peace waits many days and though you see not a glimpse of joy in this world, do not be discouraged: there is a resurrection.

Rejoice in the world to come.

Peace to all who heed these words.

Categories: Cross, Humility | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Loving Isn’t Love until You Love Those who Hate You

I used to think that I was a good guy.

I got all A’s in school.

I was healthy.

I was voted most likely to succeed.

I excelled in all that I set my hands to.

Then, there came a point at which I really got to know Jesus.

Now I know what a wretched sinner I am!

Oh, I had already called on the Lord and was saved, but this was different. I committed to follow Jesus by identifying with his death, burial, and resurrection. He who knew no sin, became sin for us so that we might become the integrity & virtue of God.

I do not follow the traditional teaching of the church on this verse. The traditional teaching of the church is that Jesus became a sin offering, thus inserting the word offering. I go behind the traditional teaching to look at Jesus Himself. He did not come to offer sin. He offered His Holiness. The Father came close in Christ.

Let us take this at face value though. What is this verse actually saying:

1. Jesus knew no sin.

2. Jesus became sin for us.

3. 1 & 2 are so that we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus became what he did not know so we could become what we are not. Jesus allowed himself to be humiliated so that we might become honored. Jesus was shamed so that we would be saved.

Jesus was indeed a sin offering. But that is not necessarily what this says explicitly. It says he became sin.

Ask any Muslim what the greatest sin is and they will say it is “Shirk.” to ascribe partners to God. I.e. to identify Jesus as divine.

Jesus was sinless. All are agreed on that except for a few people who claim that there is no absolute morality, which is self contradictory, so we will kindly ignore those proud souls for now who exalt themselves over God in their own mind (particularly since their own morality often is less than that of Jesus.)

Jesus also asserted that he is God. When he claimed to be the Son of Man, he was claiming not merely to be human, but to be made in the exact image of God and to be exalted as the one like a Son of Man who reigns in glory before the Ancient of Days as described in Daniel.

For a man who appeared to have been born of an illicit union, though he was not, to have claimed what appeared impossible, that he is God, resulted in the predictable condemnation at the courts of the Jewish leaders and the Roman authorities. This was indeed a most preposterous claim for mere flesh to make.

But Jesus was no mere mortal. He was also immortal. He laid down His life freely (that is, he chose to make that claim, when he could have kept it to himself). He also took up his life again (that is, he happily and triumphantly rose from the grave and left the grave clothes behind. He was victorious over death. He submitted to what appeared to be the defilement of the grave that he might sanctify the grave yard as a rest area for the saints, a mere passing through place which leads to a much better place.) Jesus is fully alive and well today.

So what? What difference if Jesus rose? I haven’t seen him, the atheist will say.

Ah, but Jesus is alive and active in His Body. Wherever 2 or more gather in the name of Jesus, submitting to His authority as Lord, they experience and communicate the presence of Jesus. It is not merely in this ritual or ceremony. It is a moment by moment reality.

And so it comes to pass, that when the doubter, the bitter soul, the slanderer, the evil doer, or any other person with any bad intentions comes against a church (that is, such a gathering of saints who are submitted to Jesus) the presence of Jesus is assaulted. But so also, the power of the Messiah’s resurrection is present in His people. He comes back again and again to present the truth claims of God on man. Because Jesus demonstrated what it is to be 100% submitted to God, he can claim to be fully God without any duplicity. Not even the angels can claim to be God without lying. But Jesus not only claimed this power, he demonstrates it over and over again every time His people demonstrate patience with the wicked. Everytime the church witnesses to the truth in a world of falsehood. Everytime a believer confesses the deity of Jesus the Messiah to a Muslim or Jew or Hindu or Buddhist or atheist or tribal practitioner, he experiences the righteousness of God.

You say, then how come witnesses seem so care-free, so unworried of what the world says about them? Why is it that missionaries go about their mission as though ignorant of the plans and purposes of the world to destroy them and to undermine them?

We can laugh at adversity, not because adversity is inherently fun, but we know the One (the Father, the Son, and the Spirit), the Lord who is greater than all our troubles.

We know the provider. Even if we starve and are indebted, we know the One who will feed us daily bread and who will forgive all our debts. Even if we are slaughtered, as the Islamic State is trying to do in Mosul, we know the One who Saves from the grave through the power of the resurrection.

Jesus is Lord.

No government can stop Him.

No army can harm Him.

No bank can buy Him.

No store can sell Him.

No religion can restrain Him.

No human can exhume Him.

No hand can hurt Him.

No sickness can weaken Him.

No failure can flunk Him.

Jesus reigns supreme!

He took ALL our shame.

He took ALL our sin.

With His Holy Claim.

And He rose once again.

Categories: Good News, Suffering, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Disappointed, but Hopeful

Imagine going to a tomb to mourn your Beloved Leader, you go, and the body is gone. Disappointment.
You wanted to honor doing the final rites. Then HE’s GONE!!
You had dreamed that he would bring peace to the land. You had dreamed that he would help you not only cope with life, but be truly free. Then he was killed, or rather executed as a criminal. Rejected.

Now you are dejected. Every remnant is gone. His life is a mere memory … soon to be forgotten.

You are so desparate for help that you turn to the first ordinary person you meet, though you were sure that your friend was extraordinary and was indeed the best. You ask questions, you ask for help.

He calls your name. Your Extraordinary Friend meets you in the most ordinary way in a garden on the first day of the week … you recognize His Voice: He’s alive!!

You are disappointed no longer, but hopeful.

That is something of what I have felt in life at times: God disappointed my petty expectations only to exceed them by surprising me with news of something better. What was bad news becomes good news when the Sovereign surprises me.

I dreamed of being a missionary. I became a mere mentor to missionaries.
I dreamed of having a beautiful wife and a lot of kids. I married an excellent wife and have lots of people I care for.
I dreamed of being a leader. I serve leaders.
I dreamed of traveling the world. I ride an urban bus system, talk to people from the nations and pray for the world.
I dreamed of being wise. I rarely seem to use the education I have and my library is relinquished to the basement. I give away more copies of The Books than I read.
I dreamed of a comfortable home. My house is in the middle of a remodel that is taking longer than expected.

I wanted to see my Dad reach his 75th birthday. On Resurrection Day, I had to take him to the hospital to get a battery of tests for his heart.

Right when we were singing about the victory of Jesus over death, I realized that my Dad might die sooner than desired. What would happen next?

I was disappointed, but as the days have passed and as I realized that my Dad probably just was a bit anxious, I found hope and celebrated in a store by buying a lily & gift for someone that acted like a disciple on the sabbath after the crucifixion: mourning and depressed. Dispirited, as one translation puts it.

While I went to the Sunrise Service this year, the real resurrection celebration happened in a most ordinary way: sharing a little kindness with a stranger who was discouraged.

I am a missionary of hope.

Have you seen Jesus? Have you heard of His resurrection? Have you perceived the Love of God?

Look up.
Look ahead.
Look around.

Jesus will return, so we must gently & faithfully make disciples of all nations, everywhere.
Expect to meet Jesus in the midst of your most disappointing moments. When you lose your direction in life, start looking for those who are truly lost. Share the promises of God and let Him find you as you are finding help for the hurting.

Are you wounded? Heal someone. You will feel better.
Are you tattered and torn? Mend someone else’s heart. You will be more complete.
Are you weary? Stay alert in prayer for the broken. God will answer you when you call.
Is the world mocking at you? Rejoice in your affliction. The world mocked at Jesus; you are honored in heaven.
Do you feel dirty? Wash the feet of the wise. You will come clean in the process.

It is not about looking after your own interests that your needs will be met.
It truly is in giving that you receive.

Recently, I offered to give a partner in ministry 5 DVDs. He said just 3. After I delivered what I promised, God blessed me with 3 more DVDs of the same kind from another friend.

Amazing? Grace. Surprising? Mercy. Blessed? Indeed.

Where are you disappointed?
Don’t give up, and you will meet the Anointed.

Categories: Missions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jesus is not a Religion, Jesus is the Resurrected Person.

Some object to all talk about Jesus in public life because they say Jesus is controversial. Actually, I don’t see how. Most people will say pleasant things about Jesus.

However there is the religion Jesus and there is the person Jesus. With the religion Jesus you have to do a-z to get in the right mindset. Sometimes this false Jesus just goes under the name mindfulness or muhammed or the book of mormon or some other amount of martyrdom (witnessing.)

The True Jesus is a person, fully God and fully human who heals. There is something about the True Jesus who cannot be contained within the bounds of law or religion. He heals when worthless physicians are off duty. He touches when others would wash their hands clean. He speaks up when others call for plea bargaining. He never tried to start a religion. He simply reminded people of what reality is all about: Loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and secondly about loving your neighbor as yourself.

If you are not loving your neighbor, you are not following Jesus … No matter how much you claim to love God. If you are not loving God, you cannot truly love your neighbor because you may not tell them the historical realities of the resurrection. If you are not telling others about Jesus, you neither love God nor your neighbor.

Jesus is God, so if you love God you will talk about Jesus. Jesus loves your neighbor more than you do, so if you love your neighbor, you will tell them about the One who loves them more than you do.

Some would say that love is religious. So do you call it a religious act when a man loves his wife? Do you call it a religious act when a mother loves her children? Do you call it a religious act when a manager genuinely cares for the welfare of those under their supervision? Do you call it a religious act when government officials show mercy and do justice in their realms of influence?

Perhaps these are all religious acts, in which case, there should be no law against religion or the free exercise thereof (which, by the way, is what the first amendment to the United States Constitution is all about). However, most people around the world see religion as a bunch of rituals done in order to gain favor with god/gods.

Christianity cannot be constructed as a religion by this measure though. The very suffix to the word indicates that it is Christ-like -character-. There can be no law against certain characters or other characters just as there should be now law against honest, compassionate speech.

Let honest and loving speech be freely available to all. And let all the false ideologies and -isms perish. Let the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our God.

False testimony is telling lies about true events which you have observed is wrong. Thus anyone who denies the historicity of the resurrection is guilty of false testimony. The resurrection of Jesus has never been disproven. So to speak of the resurrection of Jesus is a historical act with legal ramifications. It implies that all governments must submit to Jesus as the King of kings, Prime Minister of prime-ministers, President of presidents, Boss of bosses, Lord of lords, etc. He is in charge.

As we anticipate celebrating Resurrection Day around the world, prepare to be a martyr: a witness.

If you are in court during this time, take your day in court to speak of Jesus the great Judge over all the earth. If you speak with a stranger, mention the resurrection of Jesus.

We are, after all, simply talking about historical facts that have humane, daily implications.

Please comment and share stories of how you have spoken freely of King Jesus and what the results have been.

Categories: Evangelism, Good News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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