The Three Tombs

If you read your Bibles closely, you might be surprised to know there were 3 tombs that are extremely significant to us.

The first one was the tomb that Joseph owned. In Luke we read that no one was ever laid in this tomb. This tomb was the grave of anticipation. It’s job was to lie in wait completely empty. It’s very purpose is to house the dead, but until Jesus’ mission was complete, it’s aspiration was unfulfilled.

The second tomb is the one Jesus was laid in. This is the tomb of defeat. When Jesus slept here, the world wailed in disappointment. The only thing worse than having a messiah is to get one and then lose Him. Was Jesus simply crazy… or did they kill their only hope? Men’s hearts hurt deeply when this tomb was occupied. Everything was questioned and nothing made sense. How could the man that raised the dead succumb to death himself? This was one of history’s darkest days. Three of them, in fact. Men sobbed, demons cheered, and the great I Am was seemingly buried having not yet fulfilled all of His promises.

The third tomb still exists to this day. It’s the one that the women and the disciples and the soldiers all found open and empty. In it rests neatly folded burial garments. This tomb has many names. Hope! Victory! God lives! This is my favorite tomb, because it’s not just an empty one, but it’s one whose purpose has been fulfilled.

You might be thinking, these are all the same tomb! Please understand, they are each very different from the other. Each could not be without the other and each one gives birth to the next.

We too are three different people. Not at the same time of course, but each one is a possible us. Just like the first tomb, without Jesus, we are empty. We have no purpose other than to hope something somehow happens to us.

Just like the second tomb, if we reject Jesus, or ignore His pleas for too long, He will leave us to lead a life without Him, should we Choose. Of course, we still have Jesus… He doesn’t actually leave. But… rather than keep Him in our hearts, which were prepared for Him, we wrap Him up and seal the door. What makes this tomb the saddest is that, just like the guard at the cross, we don’t realize what we are doing. We think we are ‘living’, but all we are doing is wrapping our Savior in the clothes He is to be buried in… away from our active lives.

The last tomb is by far the most amazing. It sits empty. But not like the first tomb. The first never had anyone lay in it. The third tomb has. It’s purpose is fulfilled. How many bodies don’t need their resting places anymore? How many times can you resell a full burial plot? You can’t. There is no value in an occupied grave. And all the unoccupied graves are waiting on time to fulfill their destinies. But what about this strange anomaly? This one tomb in all of history that both served its purpose and sits open and empty? This is our tomb if we have Jesus. We serve a risen Savior that defeated death. Not just for Himself but for us too.

To reach our full potential we each die to self. Through Jesus we exit the tombs of our past and arise victorious with Him. We leave fear, uncertainty, condemnation and defeat behind and take on hope, peace and love. This third tomb is a crucial part of God’s plan. He planned for His Son to take the tomb so that we could follow and arise. It’s important to remember all three tombs. But of greatest importance is to make sure we fulfill our purpose. To fill that tomb, take on Christ, and exit a new creation.

Three tombs. One who has no Savior at all, one who has a Savior but hides, rejects, or ignores Him, and the last one… the one that lets you enter a sinner and walk out redeemed.

It’s not JUST about remembering Christ. It’s not a story to be told about a man that deserves our respect on Easter. It’s about opening our own tomb doors and leaving dead end lives behind. It’s about emerging with Christ out of the grave and in our hearts where He Has always wanted to be. And it’s about living each day for the one that did this for us.

This day, more than any other, is about where you put your Jesus. have you never met Him? Is he banging on your heart’s door never to be answered? Or have you followed Him to a new life?


Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

Is Your Christianity Out of Style?

How many of us are still trying the same things we learned to do 5 years ago? Perhaps even 10 years? 20? Even longer? Consider the picture of the handsome young boy trying to put on a shoe that barely goes over his big toe.

How silly is that? His laugh is genuine. At 6 years old, he knows how unbelievably ridiculous it is to try on a shoe meant for a new born. His body is growing and he is constantly trying on new clothes to fit into. He can’t even wear clothes from last year, let alone 5 years ago.

What he knows to be true of his clothes, should be similar with our faith. Are you still wearing last year’s faith? Is your relationship with God sustained over holidays and rare needs you just have to ask for?

We can hardly keep up with technology. Our phones keep changing, our internet keeps growing, the apps keep multiplying. Medicine is ever growing, changing, and educating us in new ways of health, exercise and diet. Our fashions change, not only in trendiness, but fabrics and colors go in and out of season.

Everything around us follows this flow of renewal, refreshing, upgrading, growing, advancing, empowering…. where does your faith stand in the midst?

Is it growing? Is your faith busting at the seams, demanding a new, larger space to hold it? Are we constantly throwing out the old and small because we keep getting bigger and better where it matters most?

Stop trying to squeeze into yesterday’s faith… it shouldn’t fit anymore. Faith is putting on baggy clothes knowing we will grow into them. My mom taught me that growing up. She grew so tired of buying new shoes, I never had a pair that fit. I grew accustomed to walking around in shoes so big that my feet slid around in them.

Guess what happened when my feet grew? Did the shoes finally fit? NO! She bought bigger shoes. It’s time for those safe, comfy shoes that wrap around our toes and gently hug our heals to get tossed. We need bigger shoes to fill! We need uncomfortable room to grow into.

Peter was used to walking on dry ground. When Jesus called him into the water, he had to step into much bigger shoes to be able to stand on the water. And he stood! Even if only momentarily, he stood. Then he raced back to his smaller shoes out of fear and he began to sink. With bigger shoes comes bigger potential and bigger opportunity, but also a requirement to step faithfully in them no matter how they feel.

The biggest shoes of all were worn by Jesus. They went through poverty, wilderness, wedding feasts, celebrations, resurrections, the cross and they finally made it home to the Father in heaven… we are meant to follow in those mammoth footsteps. Did you catch that? It wasn’t all easy. There was some pain in His path. But it lead to the Father.

You can’t get to God in small shoes of faith. Jesus will take us, but only if we follow in His big steps. Jesus constantly praised those with faith. The roman centurion who knew Jesus could command the sickness to leave without entering his home, the men who lowered the paralytic through the roof on a mat, the woman who touched his robe, the other woman who gave her last two mites (all of her money)… faith, faith, faith, faith.

From what I can gather, Jesus will bring us to the Father if we bring the big faith.

What can you do to grow a size today?

I’m a Disciple and I’m Sorry

I am a disciple of Jesus. But before I get into the apology, I should state that I’ve always wanted to be one. Look at them. Biblical legends. Walking on water, tongues of fire, healing, communing with Jesus. And why shouldn’t they have been? He took every opportunity to teach them. He sought their company and even asked for their prayers.

I guess where it went wrong for me is that I kept reading after the Sunday School excerpt stopped. Before Peter could walk on the water, he had to question Jesus first. In an act of both doubt and testing, he asked, “if it is you, command me to walk on the water”. If? Jesus had already announced who it was. But lets cut him some slack, maybe a translation problem made it sound worse than it really was.

So he walks on water. Jesus commanded him, he stepped on faith (what an amazing testament to faith, by the way… it’s why he is a Bible icon after all), but just a few steps and the wind reminded Peter that his legs are meant for land. His faith exited stage left and his fears jumped into the driver seat. Then he sank into the water. But as he began to plummet, he still managed a final plea, “Lord, save me!”. More faith? No. Desperation. Faith kept him above the water, fear drug him into it. Submission to fear caused him to cry out.

I don’t think I’m taking things too harshly or literally here, after all, Jesus had to rebuke Peter for his lack of faith. Now, it goes on to say that after the wind died down (because Jesus made it), that they all believed. Here is the problem. Peter believed… until it got difficult. Then he returned to his pre-Jesus ways of living. How is that heroic?

But, it’s not just Peter. It’s all of them. I should have started with the worst of all… Judas. Do we even remember that he was a disciple? I think most of us just frown at the sound of his name and move on. What about doubting Thomas who demanded evidence over faith? The disciples in bulk tried to send a woman seeking healing away because she was “crying out to them”. When they couldn’t heal a demon possessed man, Jesus seemingly mocked their dismay with the reason of their failure… they did not have the faith that the healing required.

They argued over who was the greatest among them, they desired to know the forgiveness limit, they tried to stop the children from getting to Jesus, they denied Him, rebuked Him, questioned Him, abandoned Him, tried to stop others from working in His name… our heroes. Our Bible legends. In all of their mistakes and selfishness.

Through the power of Jesus, these men did amazing and miraculous things. Through the power of the tempter and great liar, they did horrible and despicable things. The same men. One great feat followed by a giant failure, later to be followed by an amazing miracle. Why? How?

  1. Jesus did not wait until the men were perfect before leaving them to their mission. They were still human when he left them. We are still human now.
  2. They were never expected to be perfect this side of heaven. Neither are we. They were forgiven and still maintained the company of the Savior even after massive regression to sin, fear, and doubt… we too are forgivable, and can maintain our relationship with Jesus even after we mess up.

I feel like I must apologize. I’ve made the same mistakes. As someone who claims Jesus in His life and has read and experienced such amazing things… I still have fear and doubt and struggles… just like the disciples. And in one way, I am incredible proud to be one:

  1. They never stopped following Him… even after He went to a place they could not physically follow. Neither should we.

So while we are human and imperfect, just like our predecessors, I pray we remember this truth… that while we are in the company of the Savior we can enjoy all of what makes him our Lord, including forgiveness. Go easy on yourself at times. There is only one Jesus… the rest of us are Peters and Judases. Flawed, yet in the Master’s presence.

I pray you find encouragement and also resolve to strive to learn. While they made many mistakes, each one was a learning opportunity. Don’t neglect the teaching moments.

Roads Vs. Oceans

I feel like many of us have been living in a certain sort of turmoil. The picture that comes to my mind is trying to turn out of a parking lot onto a busy street. You pull up with your blinker on and wait your turn. But the cars keep coming. Not just one or two, or perfectly spaced apart… but as you look in each direction you see an endless line of headlights slowly dimming over the horizon. And the words exasperatedly enter both your mind and your soul… “I’m never getting out of here”

A terrible feeling for sure, but an easy problem structure to have… at least for most. The problems are many… seemingly infinite, but as you likely have experienced, they still only come one or two at a time. And, if we end up patient enough, they pass us by and we can eventually pull out of our ruts and struggles and make our way to the road of our journey.

Some now have a different kind of pain. The picture that comes to my mind is an ocean. Far out into the massive expanse of water, you are treading over unexplored depths. It’s dark, it’s cold, and you can’t see anything in any direction that you look, save the waves that keep bouncing past your face reminding you that your small world just became a tiny piece of hay hidden in a massive needle-stack.

Sharks don’t attack in single file lines, they swarm and circle. There are jelly fish too, and sting rays, eels, piranha’s, whales, and all sorts of other deadly creatures. There are currents, undertows, and storms. But even if nothing actually and physically attacks you… you are getting tired and as you gasp for breath, each time a little more salt water finds it way into your mouth.

Where before, our problems seemed huge and life altering… we can look back now and sense that those were the good ole days. Single file problems in the highway of life that would mildly detour us, but eventually gave way and let us back in our lane. Now we have been dropped in the ocean.

Whizzing though our minds are thoughts of loved ones, travel plans, jobs, bills, food, shelter, civil issues, panic, and the uncertainty of how everyone else’s behavior could change. The store shelves are empty, the news won’t stop with scare tactics and dramatics… and we might just think exasperatedly… “I’m never getting out of this”. We might even long for the days when our terrible problems seem so much simpler now.

What strikes me is how differently Paul prayed. “get me out of this!”… nope. Not him. He said “to live is Christ, to die is gain”. He explained that if he was allowed to keep on living that he would just use his life to continue sharing Jesus with others, and if He died, that He would be with Jesus and his mission would be accomplished.

While I think this would be a great, albeit morbid application here, that isn’t the point I want to make. For Paul, it wasn’t about living or dying because he always lived his life in such a way that it didn’t matter what happened next.

When the roads backed up and he couldn’t make progress… he would, effectively, minister in the parking lot he was stuck in. When the ocean swelled around him and the sharks closed in, He prepared his mind for the eternity he had been living for all along.

There was no, “why me?” or “how come”… it was always, “Lord, I serve you”… even in situations much worse than we see today. And at the crux of it all was what He kept His eyes on. He didn’t see the road, or the cars, or the water, or the fear, or the panic… He just saw Jesus. When eyes are locked on the Savior, you get saved. That doesn’t mean yanked out of problems, but it does mean eternal life with a Savior that defines love and peace.

I’ve always been perplexed by the phrase, “meet your maker”. To most that means death. Paul lived his life every day with his maker… and it was wonderful. David sang in caves while in hiding for his life… he sang about his wonderful, magnificent maker. Jesus, when sacrificing himself for us, was in constant communion with His maker.

What I have learned is that if we meet our maker now… we aren’t afraid to meet him in the end. A relationship with God now, means we understand and even appreciate the end. Forfeiting that relationship now, is what gives so much fear and panic to such a phrase and possibility.

That relationship is hope. It is light in the middle of the struggle. It is peace in the storms of life. It brings balance, courage, and sense into the chaos.

This isn’t about having morbid thoughts of despair today, tomorrow, or even the next few months or years… It’s about acknowledging that men and women who faced such situations didn’t know fear when they knew their maker. This is true for pandemics and it’s true for surgeries and marriages and relationships and jobs. When you know Jesus, you live for Him… and that may not pull you out of the water, but it makes you fearless, content, and able to live strong, proud, and for Him in every situation.

Paul knew, he would either look back one day and see how God lead Him through, or He with be with God soon… either way was a victory for him. And that is how he lived out every day. Every wonderful, God created, Spirit-filled day where he communed with His creator no matter what the Devil came up with for that day. Today we can dread the unknown, or we can meet our Maker. He answers to God, Father, Lord, and many other titles. He wants to know you, He wants to fellowship with you. He wants to restore those who used to know Him…

Speak those words… ‘God, I want to know you!’ Perhaps speak them again if you don’t know Him well. And find where the bravery of Paul came from. Learn what hope means and why fear is trivial in the most extreme circumstances.


Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Do What You Sing

This morning we sang a song in church that had the words, “I give you everything”. Even as I sang those words I couldn’t help but feel that I was being hypocritical. I loved the power in them. I truly want to believe them. I want to be that person.

But I’m not.

When I sing them… I mean them. They are very much from my heart. But somewhere along the way I hold something back. I may even barter to keep something else. I may hang on to ego in some situations or tithe less than both God and I know I should.

I thought about how God hears this song I’m pouring out of my heart and I think he listens the way I listen to my child.

When my child says, I’ll be good. He doesn’t always keep that promise. And even though I’ve only been a dad for a little over 2 years, I learned on day 1 that I can’t reward the promise… I have to reward the action.

So when my boy says ‘if I promise to eat my broccoli, can I have the cookie first?’ The answer is always, ‘no!’. “eating the broccoli is rewarding… not the promise of it”. Because I see in him my same flaws. Even though he means well, there are far too many temptations along the way to reward the intent.

I believe that God does not reward the song… he rewards the moment. The moment when temptation is beating you over the head and you choose Him anyway. That time away form church and away from good influences, and you choose against the world to do what is right. When no one is watching, when nothing seems to count… that is when God wants to see what you will truly give.

I’m not suggesting we don’t sing this song. It’s beautiful. But it’s only the promise… the real work begins after… and that is what matters most. Many of us would sing this song… very few will live it out in every portion of our lives.

The prophecies of Jesus weren’t fulfilled until His resurrection. He could have been a prophet or a mad man. But when the actions and results matched the promise… then He became so much more to us. What would Jesus have been to you and I had He not kept and met each promise of the scripture? What do we mean to Him if we do not do the same?

Sing it. Mean it. Do it.

Christmas is Done

It’s a refreshing feeling. Everything is back to normal. Stores are open. The house is back in order. The radio DJ’s I know are back on live and all the ‘best of/syndication’ is finished. Traveling is behind me, business hours make sense again and my friends are all back in town. The commercials, the tv specials, the marketing… it’s all about spending money now. That fear of ordering in time or would I receive a gift from someone I didn’t consider? All gone!

Everything changes for the holidays and I usually sigh in relief when it all changes back. I wouldn’t call myself a scrooge… I just see the busyness and stress in all of it. My summary might be…

It was great, but I’m glad its over

Do you cringe any when you see the commercialization of Christmas? Do you see childhood memories and innocent ideals squashed by the machine and trivialized by the masses? Rudolph, Santa and Frosty all have price tags now and Baby Jesus is either left out or promoted with an agenda.

I think we can do this same exercise with church and our relationship with God if we aren’t careful. Sundays can quickly become about parking, childcare, awkward conversations, “I hope he doesn’t ask us to greet our neighbor for 5 minutes”. Whose seat did I take? Song choices are weird, sit down, stand up, I can’t find that verse in the Bible, sit down again, another offering?!!? Lunch plans, getting asked to serve, guilt trips… and when we find our way back home… wheh! That is all behind me now.

When Jesus turned the tables over in the temple He noted that His Father’s house was being operated by a bunch of thieves. But before He called out their transgression, He first stated the original intent.

‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers

Matthew 21:13

“My house shall be called a house of prayer”. What a contrast! It would have worked had He just called them robbers and drove them out, but He first established the proper baseline. This place is for prayer. Prayer is communication and worshiping THE God. You have taken something Holy and made it into something human.

While I’m not writing this to call us all thieves… I do see us approaching our time of worship against the original intent. I know this easily because I have done it.

What if we decided to approach the church with the same humility, love, and sacrifice that Jesus approached the cross for us?

Could we simply change some verbiage? I don’t have to lead a prayer or pass out cards, or shake hands, or smile, or meet new people, or teach a class… I get to. I am honored to. A man climbed on a torture device that I deserve and He took my place because He desperately wanted me to be saved.

He didn’t just die for me… I was His prize. He cherished a relationship with me. The thought of not having me was worse than the pain of the cross. He longs for me. When Jesus was born into animal filth and the cruelty of this world, the angels cheered! His plan was in motion… the plan to get me to Him.

So can my response match His? Can I muster together activity in my heart that will allow me to reciprocate in this life a desire to be with Him?

When my six year old gets vegetables on his plate he eats what he likes and then claims he is full. If I offer chocolate, he invariably exclaims, “YES!”. But he was just full one second ago. And, if I return to the vegetable, he is still full. He has no desire for what is good for him, only for what his appetite enjoys.

He has to want to be healthy. He has to learn about what harming his body with junk can really do. He will never truly be healthy… he will always return to the bad food, as long as his thought process is… ‘I have to eat vegetables to get what I want”.

What he needs is a love of himself. A love for health and purity and for what the body was created to take in and process. What we need is a love for Christ. A desire for the bread of life and to yearn to be what we, as temples of the Holy Spirit were created to be.

This can easily be checked. Do we have to… or do we get to? Is it a task or an honor? Do we anticipate, or are we glad when it’s over? Do we come to pray, or have we commercialized religion?

Some of the trivial things will not change, but our outlook on them certainly will. Christ gave His all… His very best. Do we have to give back? Do we cringe when we give a tenth? Do we roll our eyes or sigh when the newsletter announces service days? Are we proud of the response to our Savior? Can we go to simply pray to our Savior and commune with Him… or do we have another agenda?

Remember the Price, because we are the Prize.

A manger is defined as an animal feeding trough. It is what the hay goes in. The cow or horse will stick its head into the box and use it’s lips, gums, and tongue to maneuver the straw into it’s mouth. In addition to eating, these mammals will scratch up against the corners to cure a good itch as well as sneeze and cough into the eating area while consuming food.

In short, a manger contains animal hair, germs, mucus, saliva, some blood and any remnants of feed that fell back out of the animals mouth. oh… and bugs along with whatever bugs do (molt, lose wings and legs, leave waste, etc). I asked Lysol and they said they couldn’t do much to disinfect the manger that Jesus laid in… they didn’t come to be until almost 1900 years after Jesus was born.

I see two problems with how we view our Savior. First, we don’t view Him accurately in the manger. And second, we don’t view Him properly on the cross.

We try. Especially on the cross. We have some bloody and gory movie depictions of what He must have gone through. And it’s difficult to watch. But in our day to day, I think we lean toward miracle Jesus. He is the man that walked on water. He told the children to come to Him. He freed possessed people, cured blind, and raised the dead. He confronted the pharisees and really put them in their place.

His birth was stage one of His death. Filthy and disgusting, he lay in the mess of this world. Our hero, our Savior, our King, longingly anticipated is now finally here… laying in the place animals eat. Not in the same room, but in their actual food dish.

And as He lay with the animals, who just happened to be the only ones who would accept Him when He needed a birthing place, He was now on path to die a miserable death. These are His book ends. His alpha and omega are miserable birth and torturous death.

When we think about how unpleasant it is to think of our Savior this way, we tend to go back into the habit of picturing the kind man that fed thousands. Rarely do we ponder His discomfort. How often do we consider that His birth pain was merely foreshadowing to what He came to do for us?

He was overwhelmingly un-welcomed by those He came to save. Yes we have the angels and the shepherds and the wise men… but we also have the Herod’s, the pharisees, the mobs, the Romans, and even the disciples who neglected Him in prayer and in allegiance.

Yes, the disciples. Denying Him. Fleeing. Selling Him out. Yet we well up with pride when the shepherds are exited to see baby Jesus. Jesus was condemned to die in that manger. It was His mission. We disservice Him directly when we pretty up the picture to something it wasn’t. We imagine a hollywood moment where Jesus is comfortably resting in cozy clothes and the animals all bow down in honor set under a star filled, clear sky with peaceful quiet all around.

I’m not a fan of going for the harsh, bitter, gruesomeness of it all… but that is all it was. This is our Savior. It’s what He came to do. When we forget the story… the whole story, we reduce His sacrifice for us. He came to die. From day one He gave for us. He gave His birthright as King. He gave up comfort, prestige, peace, family, friends, dignity, and so much more.

This time of year we have help in one thing we must always do… remember. Remember who He was, what He made Himself, and who exactly He gave it all away for. You. He took your place. He is your King, lying helplessly among the animals… occupying their feed box, and waiting His turn for the nails to go through as punishment for all the things He didn’t do, but we did.

We remember Jesus in all of His pain, because He did that for us. He took our place. He battled the enemy we can’t beat and He won for each of us. We have to remember the price because we are the prize. He did it for us. To receive us to Himself. A miracle wielding Savior isn’t the whole story. He humbled Himself. He subjected Himself. He was humiliated, shamed, and discarded.

Don’t remember Him out of pity. Cherish the accurate story of what He endured to make it possible to get to us. No one becomes a Christian because they have to. A Christian is someone who experiences the gifts of Jesus and runs out of their life to follow Him. He gave Himself. He is the gift. We are the prize to Him. We will meet and relish that the journey is over. Until then, we remember. He gave everything to receive us.

He doesn’t want a Sunday morning “Christian” that looks the part for a fraction of the story. He wants someone who remembers and follows. The angles rejoiced as Jesus lay in that manger. Can you imagine that? Look at God… in that filth. Yet it invoked a joyous response.

If the angels can rejoice at Jesus’ arrival to pain and misery… what can we muster at the thought of His triumphant return that marks the end of this mess that sparked both the manger and the cross?

And that sums it up splendidly for me. The life and death of Jesus isn’t meant to inspire guilt… It’s meant to bring hope. Because of what He did for us, we have an amazing, supernatural hope. But we must remember what He did and respond.

How will you respond to the Man that endured both the manger and the cross for you? Do you think about the rules and the difficulties like the disciples in their weakest moments? They struggled because they had not yet experienced the cross. But once they did… they traded in everything for the honor of wielding His name. We have double the hindsight as we have both the manger and the cross in our good news.

How can we celebrate the Son who started in a feeder and ended as a tortured spectacle? While that answer must ultimately be up to you, I’ll start you off with this. I think the angels celebrated Christ’s arrival to the manger because they knew something not yet known to the rest of us. I think they knew of the tomb. When you finish the story with an empty tomb… it changes everything.

Christ didn’t suffer so we wouldn’t have to. He suffered and died so that we could have an empty tomb too. Being a Christian is hard. To do what is right, our lives would look like that of Jesus, misery and all. We would know pain and strife. But the empty tomb is the gift Jesus gives to those who remember and follow Him. Not miracles and not easy lives. But hope and eternity in a restored world.

So many refuse Jesus because life doesn’t get easier. It won’t get easier. He didn’t promise that. He promised an empty tomb among other things, but never an easy life. But as He endured the cross I believe He looked at the end game and saw us with Him… and that reminded Him to finish His goal. I also believe we need to do the same. To look to the end game and see Him and the restoration and the empty tomb and we will find nothing is worth not remembering and following Him.

The Blueprint Doesn’t Match Because it isn’t Built

Our son wished us to be gone. While the words felt devastating coming from a 6 year old, it was comforting to learn from other parents that it is much more common than we first thought.

I asked him what he would do with us out of the picture and he sniffled through the tears to tell me that he would take care of himself. Oh, it was because we turned off the TV and he wanted to watch more. No beatings, no yelling, no grounding, we just turned off the TV because it was time to do other things besides watch TV. I know, we are monsters.

I asked how he would take care of himself and he shrugged his shoulders. (fun fact, he can’t use the remotes yet… he doesn’t know how. So you can see how well he thought this out. With us gone, he will have zero TV).

I asked how he would get food and he told me he would just go downstairs and get it from the cupboard. This is where we keep his chips, fruit snacks and crackers. And that was the extent of his plan. Which makes perfect sense… because he is JUST NOW 6 years old.

His master plan of living the good life is watching TV all day and night by getting rid of the only people that know how to operate said TV and he will sustain himself for the rest of his life on gummies and potato chips… enough to last maybe a few days. And because he is 6, we can’t even explain why this is such a bad idea.

His emotions take over and he knows more than anyone else. At first our feelings were hurt. We’ve done nothing but show patience and kindness and love to this child. We went through frustration, concern, a little laughter over the absurdity, and then it hit us.

God has a sense of humor, I think. Because even though we may not use the words, we speak this out in our life actions. We brush God away and claim, “I’ll handle this myself”. Either through distrust or lack of wisdom or lack of patience, or ego… we start trying to call the shots.

When the miracle doesn’t happen fast enough, it can feel like someone just turned off the TV. When the pain persists. When the hunger remains. When the relationship collapses… I’ll fix it. I’ll make my own way. I’ll do my own thing. I’ll make a move now. And how quickly forget that the God we push back, is the one that filled the cupboard for us to begin with. We think we don’t need God because we have all the gifts He has given us at our disposal.

Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10 ESV

Another translation reads:

Cease striving and know that I am God

Psalm 46:10 NASB

Cease striving. Trust. Patience. Let God take control. Allow life to fall outside of the tiny box you crafted for it. Get bruises, accept scrapes, shed tears, and be mocked… In other words, line up behind Jesus and walk in his footsteps. But also, and this is key, allow the Father to lead through ANY valley, just as Jesus did. And accept and walk through those lows with eyes fixed on greater things.

Growth doesn’t fashion out of comfort. The things worth our moments aren’t conceived from our 6 year old minds. Our Master has put in us a blueprint full of pain, sorrow, and misunderstanding. But on the other end of that sketch is the love, protection, sustenance and all the saving we will ever need.

Until our fulfillment, we trust and we grow. Growth comes through effort, challenge, and acceptance of God’s gifts. There is a reason the blueprint doesn’t look like the finished product… we have to build it first. Until we finish building, all we have are parts and instructions. Once we finish, we have a God-inspired masterpiece.

When we don’t feel like building, when we think the effort is unfair or the destination looks off… we tend to turn towards ourselves. We grab the remote and pout against all the monsters that stand in our way. What if, instead of blaming the blueprint maker, we ask for His help instead? What if, instead of fleeing from Him, we wander to Him and spend more time with the architect and less time trying to figure it out through our own shallow and short-lived plans?

What if we could slow down and even come to a full stop… and know that TV and crackers aren’t the essence of life. Nor our jobs or accomplishments or hobbies. You know what is the most fun? When the desires of our hearts matches the blueprints within us. And don’t run after that frustration… the one that says the blueprint is wrong! That is what the 6 year old does.

The infant wants a new blueprint. The adult wants to complete the work. Lets grow in Christ. Be Still and know…


Image by Justin Martin from Pixabay

True Love’s Kiss. What Will Break the Curse?

The TV show Once Upon a Time goes into great details about how the amazing power of true love’s kiss can break any curse. There are 2 rules the show expounds on that I think are worth covering briefly before we examine who our true love is.

First, the love must be reciprocated. If only one party has love for the other, then true love is not established and the kiss is powerless against any magic.

Second, The biggest curse is broken by the love between a mother and son. When Emma kisses Henry on his forehead, the entire kingdom is freed because of their true bond and maternal love for each other.

The sad moments generated from this knowledge showed failed couples, who had fallen out of love in one way or another, unable to wield the magic breaking power of true love. Either one party or both no longer cherished the other and the kiss would simply fall flat.

Nothing spoke stronger about the deepest, truest feelings one could have for another than seeing the results of a kiss when needing powerful spells broken.

So I’d like to pose a challenging question for each of us to ponder for a while. What is our true love? Before you answer, consider that many people think they have a true love, only to find that circumstances can prove surprising and upsetting results.

We don’t need fairy-tales to see the wreckage of failed marriages, broken homes, friendless individuals and desperate souls. How many people find their true love only to wake up to an empty bed and a broken heart? Easily more than half. We all know the lies told of “love”. Few of us know the truth of real love.

So when life’s curse falls on you, what truth would be revealed? Would your spouse be able to break the spell? Would your love for them, and their love for you unite in an explosion of salvation and healing? Or would it fizzle into despair as you realize that at least one of you only lives for another?

Would it be your children? Would their love for you be pure? Is it your career? Would cold hard cash release the spell as the thing you love most in this world? Popularity? Health? Status? Possessions?

What about Jesus? Would His kiss on your forehead have the reciprocating power of true, eternal love?

Remember, this is a magical fairy-tale and the deepest thoughts of the heart are revealed against all will and logic. It’s not a question of, would you want it to… It’s a question of, would it work? Is the love already there, deep deep down in your heart. If Jesus planted one on your cheek, would the world find out that you truly love Him back above all others, or would He walk away broken hearted?

Who do you really love? For some of us… the question may be, what do we really love? While this might be a revealing and depressing process for those of us being really honest with ourselves… remember this. The cross proved Jesus’ love for us once and for all.

Instead of true love in the form of a kiss, He showed His love by taking on our mistakes and nailing them to a torture device while He still held them. Should we choose to love Jesus the way He first loved us… we never have to wonder if He might return the sentiment or not.

We never have to question that we are His greatest desire. The price He paid proved that far beyond what any make believe story could attempt to describe.


Image by JacLou DL from Pixabay

Remember that Movie about the Things and the Stuff?

What is your favorite movie? When you share it with friends in conversation how do you describe it? What if you had to sum it up in only 1 short sentence? No commas. No run on. No compounding. Just a short, simple sentence.

I’ll describe some of my favorite movies this way and lets see if you can guess any of them:

  1. A love story about a billionaire and his secretary.
  2. A young man finally stands up to his father.
  3. The world obsesses over jewelry.
  4. He took back what was his!
  5. A shy girl takes a risk on a loser.
  6. A small door is more versatile than expected.
  7. They danced in Chicago.
  8. Roasting marshmallows in New York
  9. Everyone just watched.
  10. One of the best Christmas movies.

You can scroll down a bit to see the answers if you want them now. They are in bold.

Did you get them all? Did you guess any correctly? Let’s be honest, you can’t accurately depict a movie in this way. Two hours doesn’t condense into a single simple sentence. The math doesn’t work that way, and even when you try, the logic doesn’t follow.

Most movies are so good for the very deep things that would require lots of explanation. What we tend to enjoy are masterfully wrapped surprises that are slowly unveiled throughout the course of the story. While every synopsis above was accurate in one way or another, none of them get to the heart of what makes each movie so good.

Before we go any further, here are the movies I was attempting to summarize:

  1. Iron Man.
  2. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
  3. Lord of the Rings
  4. Lion King
  5. Rocky
  6. Titanic
  7. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  8. Ghostbusters
  9. Truman Show
  10. Die Hard

Isn’t it silly to think that we could convince somebody to give up 2 hours of their day to watch something we recommend in under 1 sentence?

Even the most basic life fundamentals require discussion and dissection. Have you ever seen someone about to get hit by a ball or some other projectile? Someone yells “duck!” or “Look out!” and what happens? Does the person duck or dive out of the way without any followup? Not usually. The first thing they tend to do is to look right towards the person yelling. The fastest way to get someone to put their face directly in the path of the object about to hit them is to yell, “look out!”.

We are conditioned to see for ourselves. We just can’t take someone else’s word for it… even when its to our own peril. The lesson is also true of hot stoves. You can tell a child not to touch it, but the lesson is only temporary at best until they actually touch it and experience the pain for themselves. THEN, we could say the lesson is burned into their thinking.

If we can’t accurately depict a feature film in one sentence, what would it take to share the life of Jesus to a world conditioned in receiving information 140 characters at a time?

What story are we telling when we only give snippets of the Bible? What message is our audience receiving when we dwell on the rules of the scripture? Do non-believers go rushing to the Bible book stores when we dive into politics? What if we just try to live by example, and so people only ever see a nice person living out their days? Maybe we only talk about God on Sundays?

We can be really good at summing up the Bible in all the wrong ways, just like I did with the movies a moment ago. And if you thought that exercise was futile… so it is with preaching only a tiny fraction of God’s word. If you thought it ludicrous that anyone would guess the movie after such a short and poor description… imagine what the world thinks of God when we can do the same thing with a much larger, more complicated work about the life of Jesus.

We aren’t a short Psalm. God didn’t craft us to be a parable. None of us can be summed up by a list of rules. We are children of God and have good news to share. Let’s share the whole story!

The common excuse is that we are waiting on something. We need money, power, status, followers, time and strength. We need spiritual gifts and a platform to perform them.

The followers that Jesus accepted decided to follow Him before He made Himself truly known (i.e. before any of the excuses listed above). They dropped what they were doing and walked away from their lives over a simple request, “Follow me”.

The people that wanted to follow Jesus after He made Himself known were turned away (Luke 9). So how do we change the world? How do we get the attention of the lost and share this amazing story with a people that get bored before we get the first sentence out of our mouths?

We act like Jesus. We talk like Him. We pray like Him. We love like Him. We lead to the Father in our every breath, step, and motion. We don’t seek numbers of followers or reports of grand conversions or even baptisms. We simply go about the Father’s business and He will take care of the rest.

This was the faith of Jesus. We must have faith like Jesus. That even on the cross, when things look the bleakest, we can know that Dad will take care of everything. When we trust in God, the story is heard. When we pray faithfully and love unconditionally, the truth is told. When people can see Jesus everyday rather than hearing poorly worded, second hand summaries…The good news is told and spread.

When we know the whole story, we know the great commission isn’t just to retell the story. We are to pick up our crosses and follow Jesus. The life saving gospel is only fully told when we are fully engaged in Christ. Otherwise, we are just spitting out one-liners and hoping people will go and watch for themselves.

If we want people to know Jesus… we have to introduce them. They have to see Him for themselves. We can’t introduce them to someone we barely know.


Image by creative_designer from Pixabay