Sunday, March 31, 2013


He is risen from the dead.  He has conquered sin.  He is resurrected!

This isn't a CSI mystery or even a medical miracle.  This isn't someone dead for a few moments, or frozen in hypothermia for a few hours.  This is someone brutally beaten after great physical and emotional stress and fatigue. Then he was hung on a cross, nails through hands and feet, slash in his side.  DEAD. DEAD. In the tomb for 3 days. In the warmth of a middle Eastern spring. DEAD.  

...and yet NOT DEAD! But RISEN!  Jesus rose again! Just as He promised! Empty tomb, stone rolled away, angel declaring His glory! RISEN!

This is God's mystery! This is Jesus' gift to us - eternal life through Him.  The price paid, the sin washed away, cast away. GONE. FOREVER!

Can you imagine, even on a small scale, the degree of shock and surprise as the women not only found a stone rolled away but were greeted by empty burial cloths and a shining angel.  An angel with a heavenly grin declaring victory.  Was this one of the angels who stood in mournful attendance as Jesus struggled with our weight on that Good Friday?  Perhaps!

Can you imagine the scale of the victory that an empty tomb, vacant burial cloths and an angel in attendance?  It blows my mind!  All of that for us!

And there was a LOT of THAT wasn't there?  A lot of sin, a lot of bloodshed and a lot of human nature...that crushing weight that Jesus bore!

For us. Created by God.  Led by sin.  Not even enough faith to be the same size as a mustard seed and yet worthy. So unworthy and yet so loved.  

Chosen, redeemed and loved.  How humbling and joyful this Sunday is.

I'd like to share this video, and wonderful song on this glorious Sunday morning.  Be brightly blessed, always and in all ways.

More than 2,000 people from Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas, gathered at Discovery Green in the heart of Houston to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The purpose of Dance Your Shoes Off! was to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ in a powerful and celebratory way. Most importantly, each participant left a new pair of shoes on the field for those in need. These shoes will be given to local mission agencies, including Star of Hope, individuals all across the world through our mission partners and mission trips.  This song is available at iTunes.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dark Sabbath

The Bible is silent about this the Sabbath between the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  There isn't a story about the tears shed, the memories shared, the hugs and the hurting hearts.  No one has heard, at least this side of Heaven, about the gentle reminders about His promised return.

This is a dark day, a day when Jesus did some of the most precious work ever.  This is the day when after his physical death He walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death and He carried all of us.  Every sin, every tear, every wound - He carried them all and didn't drop a single one.

Harried and harassed, He fought death and washed us clean.  From that last breath to the angelic tomb break He fought for us, He carried us.

We used to have to walk through that valley, until Jesus on that dark Sabbath walked it one last time for us.  How wonderful! How amazing. How awesome!

Knowing what we know now, we can see this dark Sabbath for what it really is.  But how was it for the sisters, Mary and Martha or for Mary, the mother of Jesus and the other Mary of Magdalene and the other women who were waiting to tend to him.

Their time was short on that terror filled Friday and they could offer no proper anointing, no proper farewell.  A quick bit of tearful heart broken work before the sun went down.  Then a day to wait.  The longest, darkest day knowing that He was gone.

Even in the middle of our deepest grief we can find peace. I think these people of Jesus were seeking that peace, together.  I wonder how much love the had for each other or how badly they were frightened?  I believe that the Holy Spirit quieted their hearts.

I wonder on that dark Sabbath if the members of the Sanhedrin or Pilate and Claudia or Herod were frightened by what they had wrought?  Or were they rejoicing that another problem was solved?  When did someone find Judas?  Did he lay at the bottom of the hill all day, alone and scavenged upon?  Possibly.  Did anyone mourn that lost soul, besides Jesus?

I wonder about the thief who accepted Jesus at the last moment of his life.  Today you will be with me in paradise!  That was the promise.  What a promise!

Because of our sins, we all shared the same death sentence as those criminals who flanked our Lord.  And yet it was because of those very sins that He choose to pay our price for freedom.  Jesus did what no one else could do - He saved the world from itself. And, wonder of all wonders, He did it willingly and with love.  The ultimate love.  The perfect love.

That dark Sabbath was washed in tears, blood and yet it claimed no victory.  The temple curtain was torn.  The old was passed away.  That dark Sabbath was the last of it's kind.  No more innocent lambs to bleed out, potion out and burn.  The perfect Lamb took all of our places, forever!

It is fitting that the dark Sabbath had no words spoken about it.  It is fitting because everyone needs to catch their breath from the cross to the empty tomb.  It is a huge journey to take, but Jesus no only led the way but He cleared it, filled it with light and love.

Today, as you catch your breath between Good Friday and Easter Sunday think of the quiet darkness of that Sabbath day.  Consider what the silence, the tears and the sense of waiting for something amazing must have been like.  The world waited, the very creation beneath our feet, just as was beneath theirs, held its breath.  Everything was waiting for that light to burst forth victorious!

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Weight of That Friday

The angels watched, hands on swords, waiting for Him to speak.  Their faces must have showed a deep pain but they could not understand what He was doing.  For them SIN was a single moment in time, a solitary choice, follow the fallen or soar in Holiness.  There was no temptation, no weight of daily anguish and sin.  They stood by waiting for Jesus to give them an order and they waited.  Waited to announce the victory over death, over sin, over the prince of the fallen.

Borrowed, with thanks, from 

Jesus, by this time on that Friday, had been tried, found guilty and was battered and bruised both physically and emotionally as a man but also He was preparing to bear our weight, the weight of all the sins of the world past, present and future.  I don't know that He was in a hurry but the rest of the persecutors were!

He rushed to betray him!  They rushed to capture him!  They hurried to judge  him!  They pressured and cried to kill him!  They couldn't wait to rid themselves of this dangerous man not realizing they were rushing us towards salvation.  They didn't know, couldn't know that their sins that day were most necessary and would be used by God and His Son to save us all.  Especially those they thought not worth saving - the unclean, the unholy, the human.

I've thought a lot about the weight Jesus bore on this day.  How much that Friday must have weighed!

For the human Jesus there was the physical pain, and mental anguish that came from betryal, persecution, assault and execution.  The anticipation and the knowledge that it was necessary was something He knew.

Psalm 103 ~ as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us

For the Son of God, the Jesus who willingly came to be wholly human there was an impending weight to be born.  A weight for all time.  A weight that was more than anyone could understand.

To understand what Jesus did for us we have to think about how our own sin makes us feel.  It has a weight on our body, mind and spirit.  It pulls us down.  Imagine Him carrying all at once the sins of everyone.  Knowing that if He dropped the net our sins would spill out and drown the world.  Knowing that if He couldn't bear it for us, we could never do it alone.  There aren't enough fires and lambs in the past, present and future of the world to atone for humans.

God knew this.  God knew this on the first day that Adam and Eve walked out of the garden in shame.  He started getting the world ready, He started getting Jesus ready.  The along with the Holy Spirit created a Holy plan to redeem us all once, and for all, and give us the choice in that redemption!

The God self of Jesus knew WHAT He had to do, the human self of Jesus had to bear the physical weight of the task.  While His body rested in the tomb, Jesus wrestled with the weight of us and didn't lose a single sin or a single act.  He carried it eyes fill with tears imagining in my limited way what He did for us!

Let yourself become exhausted, don't eat or get proper rest. Let your body get worn down.  Then in the middle of the night, be betrayed, then beaten. Then dragged around a city under the cover of darkness, knowing that daylight would come, and it would only get worse.  Bleeding, bruised, exhausted and utterly alone.  That, just for a human mind and body would be crushing, deadly and cruel.  When we are injured and tired the very weight of our own breath can be too much.  Add a totally human emotional weight - why me? What did I do? I'm innocent! and the weight can drive you to your knees!

Read Job - he bore all the weight that God would permit the fallen prince to put upon him.  He, human man, but one who loved God bore it with God's help. Jesus bore what we all have done, all we did and all we would do alone because He needed to give us empty baskets of sin to approach the Father.

Jesus, the ultimate fisher of men, wove nets of love to catch us on the cross.  He also wove nets of love to hold our sin.  And not one wiggling, not a single lustful or murderous one escaped him.  He took them all, carried them all and that weighed more than all the world that Friday.  He carried that net full and dropped it in the hole between East and West and allowed God to forget our sins and through His Son see us as clean and worthy.

I am so thankful that I have an empty net, that I can go before God redeemed, and know that the net I have woven for me in Love shows that Love.  My sins no longer are stuck in my net, they are by the blood and love of Jesus washed clean and cast away.

The devil, the fallen one, gathered every sin he could find and poured it onto Jesus.  Knowing that if even one fell from his net, if even one wasn't carried by Him, that all would fall and so we all would fall.  I dislike imagining him, but I like to smile at his chagrin when he realized that love is so much stronger than he could know.  That not one single sin fell out and that Jesus carried it all.

Thank you, God for your Son.  Thank you Jesus for not letting us fall, for carrying away our sin. Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to us. Thank you for the weight of that Friday that you bore for us all.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Picked last, chosen first

Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Remember school? When you were lined up, captains chosen by the teacher, and they took turns picking members for their teams. I knew that was my sign to get comfortable.  I would be last picked. Every single time.

It wasn't that I was the worst player. It was because I was not popular.

I didn't even know how to be popular.  If I had wanted to, I don't think I could have been.  

Remember being a parent?  Being in university?  Those friend groups where everyone was with everyone all the time?  Ever felt like you couldn't fit in to one of those groups?  Never been asked, or included?

This is not a statement of bitterness, but of truth.

I am not a cute group Mama.  I tried.  

In life, with human beings, in human built social circles, we may be the ones who are picked last.  Even in church groups, or in Christian social or academic settings.  

Being picked last can feel bad. It can suck.  Having another person place your value on that scale is unfair.  Human nature dictates that we do this.  Social structure. Culture. Pick your group label, stick it on. 

Feel that pull on your skin?  Feel uncomfortable?  That not fitting in feels strange.  It should.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world

Guess why we shouldn't care if we are picked last?  Because God chose us first!  He chose you, He knitted you in the womb. He fell in love with the idea of you before there was a you.

He died for you.  He doesn't care who on earth picks you.  Or when. First or last. Or never.

That group, club, clique, Bible study, retreat or even Facebook group doesn't matter a whit to God. You do. You matter. You matter. 


So, yes, we do want to be included. We want to be wanted.  We are social beings.  It is healthy to have fellowship, friendship and social contact.  Instead of fretting about being picked relax. Know you are chosen.

God will ensure that you will be where He wants you to be.  Sometimes we can sense Him moving, and other times it is a surprise.  God loves us.  

Sisters. Brothers. Stop fretting. Stop stressing. If you don't fit in here, you are okay.  If you are picked last by people, it is okay.  You can rest on the promise that God chose you first.

A special message for those inside those oft envied groups - I challenge you to ungroup and unglue.  I challenge you to consider how your ministry and your message can be heard further if you unglue the group.  We'll talk more about unglued groups later on this blog.  I invite your thoughts, from either side. 

I am blessed to be friends with some amazing people. It is a blessing to find people who 'get you'.  But we often struggle more to find them than we do to create them. Second challenge - create those places for people because you who have been picked last know how it feels.  Create places for God's children, the He chose first.