Thursday, April 28, 2011
I have been writing my blog for several years and I often receive comments regarding it. Only eight have successfully responded on line and several have suggested it is difficult to access this site. Would you help me? If you read this blog, would you try to send a message acknowledging that you read it...the address is email@example.com for my blog. I am in the process of determining what changes to make in how/where to make it more accessible and your response will help!
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
I awakened this morning to something wonderful and beautiful...a tinge of blue sky. At 5:50 a.m. the sun was just beginning to lift its yellow head above the all-too familiar fluffy grey clouds, now almost gone.
By the time I had showered, watched a few minutes of dark news, and had encouraging morning devotions with my wife, I could hardly wait to venture outside to be greeted by what was now a vibrant blue sky.
It was then I knew I would have a good day...or, at least, I felt like having a good day.
The day is now sixteen hours old and I have been at my office for almost nine hours--all of them inside my office, only slightly exposed to the sun. I just talked to my wife who has been working in the yard and I asked, "Is it still sunny?" She reported happily that it was, and with renewed vigor I have purposed to finish this mid-afternoon reflection as quickly as possible so I can get home...to the sun.
So what's the big deal about the sun? After all, we live in "sunny California" except for the fact we have had 170% of normal rainfall this year accompanied by its formidable clouds and residual greyness. Blue skies and sunlit days have been infrequent.
I am not complaining or whining. I know we need the water after ten years of reported relative drought and reduced water in nearby lakes and reservoirs. And the lush green hills have been magnified exponentially because of the abundance of rain, providing a breath-taking backdrop for Amador County's real estate.
But, for me, the bright sun lifts my spirits. Blue sky lightens my mood. Spring is in the air. New growth is vibrant all around me.
The truth is...the sun was always there, even though it was obscured by grey sky and a cloudy overcast canopy. I just couldn't see it.
As a beliver my mood is often darkened when I can't see Jesus anywhere on the scene. I know He must be there--He promised to never leave me or forsake me--but His face is shrouded by the greyness of life's challenges and shielded from me by my own darkened faith.
I thankful for each glimpse of the Son, for those moments lighten my mood and lift my spirits even when I have spent nine hours in my office.
Here comes the sun...I am stepping out of my office into its late afternoon glow and already I feel better.
Friday, April 15, 2011
It is April 15th and I have spent the last two weeks working on a series for the resurrection season. The second part of my three part series on “Jesus, the Suffering Servant King”, has me literally marinating in the events surrounding Jesus’ death.
I wanted to catch a fresh glimpse of the passion of Christ; I have watched the film, “The Passion of Christ”, in past years and been deeply moved by the visual images portrayed. This year, however, I wanted to be contemplative, read the scriptural accounts in all of the gospels and imagine in my mind how it might have been. Additionally, I chose this year to research the work of several prominent doctors who discussed the mechanics of Jesus’ suffering and death so that I might have a deeper understanding of the physical pain he endured for me.
Beverly had minor foot surgery during this time and so part of my studying was done at home. I remarked to her on several occasions, “I can hardly do this because it is so painful”. Just to read about the horror of crucifixion was at times more than I could process.
But what struck me the most was a poignant memory from about twenty-two years ago when my father died suddenly of a heart attack. Due to a conflagration of events with nearby family members, no one from our family was with him when he died. For me, that was—and is-- the most sad memory I carry from his tragic premature death. My dad loved people, and he especially loved his family, and from his initial heart attack to the second one that took his life, we know from the doctors he was conscious, and we lament the fact that he was separated from his family. My father was a man of strong faith and I know in those moments he was comforted by the assurance and the presence of God.
But what strikes me as the greatest part of the passion of Christ was the absence of His Father as He died. The Garden of Gethsemane exposes us to the depths of His own anguish with His own words, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” in Matthew 27:38 and Luke’s observations of His praying there, “and being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground”, Luke 23:44.
The greatest witness to His suffering are the words that Matthew 27:46 and Mark15:34 record, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Two things capture my attention. (1) It is first time in the gospels the only time that Jesus fails to address His heavenly Father as “Father”. (2) In spite of the abandonment He feels in this moment, He still addresses His heavenly Father as “My God”.
The theological implications of this moment are spelled out in II Corinthians 5:21 when Paul observes, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Comprehending what this means for me practically is overwhelming. I am sinful, deserving of death. Jesus was sinless, undeserving of death. Because of love---and in obedience to His Father-s will—Jesus willingly died in my place. He paid the price for my sin—a sinless sacrifice--and satisfied the wrath of a holy God who hates sin. Because of that singular act, I am saved from eternal death and ushered into the hope of eternal life.
It is no wonder that Paul writes in I Corinthians 6:19,20, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.”
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
April 1-3 was a weekend I had been waiting for! Missions conference...a favorite time of the year for me. Advertise a missions conference in many places and attendance drops and regulars take a break. Missionaries on furlough (home from the field to rest and raise support) report small crowds and little offerings. Tight financial times and unmet church budgeted needs often mean missionaries go without why churches struggle to make the mortgage payment on their facilities.
Gilbert Jules, a missionary pastor and church builder from Port au Prince, Haiti; Dean and Heidi Selden, directors of Operation Uplift in Westcliffe, Colorado--a summer ministry outdoors that challenges high schoolers to authentic Christian living; and Luke and Becca Voight, headed under SIM to Malawi, Africa to minister to children and teens through soccer and the gospel--these were our special guests.
And special they were. In every way. In their passion. In their presentation. In the power of their lives--called and committed in service to God.
Our missions menu included someone prepping young people for God's call, a young couple heeding God's call, and a veteran missionary obeying God's call through service to Him. The whole gamut of missions was present and we were challenged to acknowledge God's blessings with thanksgiving and to observe God's purpose for us in stepping out in missionary service to Him--both here and abroad.
I felt waves of emotion all week. I am Luke and Becca's pastor; I have known Dean since he was three eyars old and I have had the privilege of working with Gilbert in Haiti. I have a special relationship with all of these missionaries and feel humble and blessed to serve along side them.
An old saying resonating in my ears this week--"If God calls you to be a missionary, don't stoop to eb a king".