Saturday, April 11, 2009

Day 40

Lent is a season of fasting.  The day before Lent begins is, for some, the biggest party of the year.  In New Orleans, they actually change the rules for Mardi Gras; things that are illegal on any other day of the year are allowed on Fat Tuesday.  May as well live it up now, the logic goes, if we're gonna have to be all pious for a month plus.  At least, that's how it started.  Now, people join the party without knowing why.

The entire point of Lent is to remember.  To understand Easter better, and all that leads up to it.  To deliberately draw near to God.  So I think, if we really had the right perspective, the biggest party of the year would start tomorrow.

It's almost Sunday.  When the fasting ends, and the feast begins.  Remember why.  It's worth celebrating.


Golgotha was quiet, and had been for a day.  The guards and the onlookers had long since departed.  The two dead thieves still hung from their crosses, mouths open as though still in a weary plea for mercy.

Only one desperate soul remained on the hill.  Incensed.  Seething.  Muttering hatefully.

"This isn't over... this is not over...."

But he knew it was.  He knew it was over the moment Jesus said it was.  Finished.  Done.  The moment Jesus cried out and took it all.

Had they seen?  They had to have seen him.  The moment he realized that it wasn't his plan that was coming to pass.  That single moment of shock.

When all the sins of the world piled onto God's only son.  When the hideous blackness descended, and was still not enough to block the Glory blazing out from him.  When Jesus breathed his last, and took it all with him.

When all Satan's work fell apart before his very eyes.

He stared at the ground where the cross had been driven.  There, he caught sight of a stone, spattered with blood.  The blood.

Satan roared.  He then took a long, long moment to steady himself.

"This is not over," he snarled, and stormed from the hill.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Later You Will Understand

This is where the story begins to take a turn for the worst.

It's a festival in Jerusalem.  The Jews are celebrating the power of God, eating the Passover meal together as families.  Jesus takes it a step further.  He, God himself, stoops low and washes their feet.  He sets for them an example of humility.  And he commands them, "as I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34)  A mandate.  Hence, Maundy Thursday.

But only hours later, Jesus is in chains.  The apostles are scattered.  Peter, terrified, is denying that he even knows his friend and master.  The only innocent man is on trial, and will soon be unjustly condemned.

Yet, a plan is unfolding.  Older than Rome, older than Earth, and older than time.  In the beginning, Jesus knew this was coming.  And he accepted it willingly.

Remember that tomorrow.  On the most horrific day ever to be called Good.

"Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." -Jesus (John 13:8)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

And Counting

"Hey.  Simon."


"...Pete?  You awake?"

"Mmph.  Go to bed, Johnny."

"You think it's gonna happen soon?"

"...what's gonna happen soon..."

"The abomination and everything.  What the Rabbi was talking about today."

"He said he didn't even know that."

"I know.  It's just... he's been acting so different lately."

"Yeah.  I know.  Like something big's coming."

"So I'm just wondering."

"...I dunno, Johnny.  Maybe.  But you remember what he said."

"Be ready."

"Be ready.  So that's our job.  Don't worry about it.  Just keep waiting."

"Says Peter, the patient one."

"Tch.  I wouldn't be sad if he restored Israel tomorrow.  I just..."

"...don't know."

"Yeah.  But I think you're right.  Something big's coming."

"I hope so."

"Me too."


"...don't worry about it, Johnny.  Get some rest."

"Yeah... hey.  Do you think he's gonna do something during the Passover?"

"Mmm.  Dunno.  Should be good."

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Faith is not just trust.

Faith is hope.

May Easter be the source of all our hope.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Friday's Coming.

John 12:20-36 is intense.  It's a piece of the New Testament  I haven't spent much time studying, but I looked over it tonight in honor of Holy Week.  Easter is coming, and in this passage, no one is more aware of it than Jesus.

When I first looked through Jesus' words and reactions here, it didn't make sense to me.  His words didn't seem to fit together.  And I had no idea why the voice of God would make such a sudden intrusion at such a seemingly innocuous moment.  But it does make sense.

Look at verses 23 and 24.  Jesus knows he has to die to fulfill his purpose on earth.  And he's not looking forward to it (verse 27).  Even so, "Father, glorify your name."  That's his choice.  To make the sacrifice for us, knowing the pain he has yet to endure.  This is no small moment.

Then a voice came from heaven: "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not mine." -John 12:28-30 (ESV)

There's a lot to celebrate this week, in which God displayed His humility and love.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Messenger: Destination

The thought distantly occurred to Phelps that he had not technically completed the baptism ceremony. He hadn't had the time to speak his line - so do I - before the command hit him. North, said the voice, and north he went. When the crowds thickened, his run slowed to a very fast walk, dodging between pedestrians and cutting through alleys.

He was heading deeper into the shade of downtown New Sidon, where the buildings were more often constructed in the N'aaa style, poking three stories above ground and extending several stories below. Their broad, flat roofs nearly touched, scattering slivers of light over the crowd. The hot white sun flashed at him between the gaps as he moved northward.

The word had burned an imprint on his mind, and he had moved without thinking. The implications were only just beginning to chase him down. He was seeing apparitions and hearing voices. But others were seeing them, and hearing them. Which meant they were really from....

His pace slowed, and he held a hand to his forehead. Mariah was a priestess. She thought in terms of God constantly. Could it have been a coincidence? N'aaa were known for their insight. Could she just have picked up on something in his demeanor?

But he knew nothing about her, or the temple. The angel had.

Even as he thought it, he stopped walking. A large building stood straight ahead of him. A flight of broad steps descended to the main entrance, with a fountain cascading down the steps on the far right. A water feature, in New Sidon. Phelps had never seen anything so opulent.


The voice. The same calm certainty. The same authority.

God was speaking to him.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Expense Account, Here I Come

Just checked in at the Best Western in Covina - pardon me, West
Covina. Elizabeth and I are attending a seminar on forming faith-based
nonprofit organizations. That's right. My church sent me out of town
for a seminar. Not only that, but I'm headed to Anaheim in a few weeks
for a conference for work.

This is my first experience with business travel. I'm glad I had E to
talk to on the way down. My sympathy to those who are on the road a
lot alone.

Maybe it's just the novelty, but a hotel room has a certain mystique.
A room where no one lives. Where someone else just was.

Friday, April 03, 2009

By Your Love

In Jordan, publicly preaching the Christian faith is illegal.  This we learned from two missionary friends who gave us a presentation in Bible study last night.  They've lived in the Middle East for two years, now, and have met with some success in their mission.

How?  By openly defying the Jordanian government and boldly preaching the Word on every streetcorner? I mean, really, isn't that what missionaries are supposed to do?


They make friends.  They get involved in the community.  They serve in the local Arab Christian church.  They love people, and take care of people.  And when the opportunity arises to speak openly about Jesus, when someone asks a question about faith or requests an Arabic copy of the Bible... they do.

They've discovered in a new way the power of Christian fellowship.  Of people just loving one another and serving God across cultures, races, and national boundaries.  I'm glad for their example.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Not So Hopeless

A little over five years ago, this is what I was thinking:

"I used to be a hopeless romantic. Turns out that part of that deal is being hopeless. "

I spent years stomping on my romantic side, and it's messed with my perspective.  What seemed to me like wisdom at the time was obviously just an expression of lonely bitterness.  I reacted, not to the perfectly normal desire to find a soulmate, but to the painful desperation I felt at the time to find someone.  For too long, they were the same thing to me.

It's taken me years of personal growth and prayer, but I'm finally able to separate the two.  To be honest, romantic affection apart from intense heartache is still kind of a new idea for me.  I'm still making a few mental adjustments.

But, thank God, I'm learning what it's supposed to be like.