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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Happy Friday

Am I glad that it is Friday at long last! Or at least it will be by the time you all read this. It has been a long, hard week in first grade. I love having weekends off. It's awesome!

Here's my spiritual thought for the day. Matthew 28: 16-17, "Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for a mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally." Has anything changed? It is still our tendency, even mine as much as I love worship, to hold back and not risk myself openly before other people. Wonder why that is? Is it because of the personal nature of worship, or the fear of ...well I'm not sure exactly what?

So God is saying interesting stuff to me right now. Pray hard for me to hear him clearly and to understand what on earth he's talking about. I'm mostly just confused!! He talks to me clearly about other people - sometimes even their deep secrets and difficult struggles. I guess I just need to find whoever he's talking to about me so I can figure all this stuff out.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Joseph is my favorite

Yeah, so I know that I'm weird, just roll with it. One of my all time favorite Bible characters is Joseph of Arimathea. Love this guy. Here's the set-up (at least in my head. Serious Bible scholars can correct me if I'm wrong.)

Matthew 27 - Jesus is dead. His body is hanging on a cross. All of his buddies have gone into hiding....duh....they might be next. It is a horrible disgrace for a Jew's dead body to be left overnight on a cross. Then there's the whole it was fixing to be the Sabbath thing going on as well. So who's going to ask for Jesus's body? They might decide to kill you, too. If you are really interested in this guy, check out Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19.

Joseph is a member of the Jewish High Council, but secretly a follower of Christ. He has endured the questioning, torture, and crucifixion of Christ. I am curious about how much or how little he spoke out during the trial. Did he yell out with a voice of reason that day, or was he silent with fear? In Luke, it says that he did not go along with the plans of the council, but so much of his story is a mystery that I do not know what he did that day. But what he saw and heard pushed him out of hiding, and he found the courage to be bold in his faith.

Here's this guy who is a secret follower of Jesus. He is the only person with enough courage that night to ask Pilate for Jesus's body. Everybody else had gone into hiding. But not Joseph. He boldly goes before Pilate, and is granted his request for Jesus's body. What was it like to stand before Pilate and ask for the body of a man who was crucified as a traitor? He takes the body, holds it, washes it, wraps it, and buries it. A man who was afraid for others to know he believes, certainly announces himself with a bang!

What was it like to be the one to hold the dead body of God? To gently pluck out the crown of thorns? To carefully cover his nakedness with burial clothes? To wash away the sweat and the dirt and the blood and the spit that defiled the body of our God? Joseph did a woman's job or maybe even a servant's job that night as he washed and wrapped the body of Jesus. Then he carried Jesus, like a son, to his own tomb and buried him. And don't forget that this all made Joseph unclean. During a holy time of the year.

Wondering how one man carried the body alone? Oh, wait, he wasn't alone. He was joined by Nicodemus. (John 19) Nicodemus had first encountered Christ back in John chapter 3, late at night, so that he would not be discovered, because he was also a leader among the Pharisees. (Jesus was talking to him when he said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not die, but have eternal life") So Nicodemus comes out as a follower as well at this critical moment in history. He arrives at the cross carrying about 75 pounds of burying spices. A fortune. Spent to bury his God that he had not had the courage to follow openly.

So my mind pursues this story often. Both of these men step out openly with their faith at a moment when others had abandoned all hope and had turned away or had gone into hiding. They come to the cross prepared to take care of the body of the Messiah. He was dead. Why reveal themselves now?

Did they vomit as they pulled out the thorns? Did they weep as they washed his back? Did they discuss their regrets? Did they wonder if only they had spoken out earlier, maybe this madness could have been stopped? Did they have hard feelings about being the only ones there? Where were his friends? Did they know that Jesus would be raised, or did they think it was all over?

Lots of details are missing from this story. I am very intrigued by these two men. Many times I have tried to fill in the gaps with my imagination. I can only imagine the depths of the emotions of this moment in history. How must God have felt as he watched these two adopted sons minister to his only Son? It must have been a proud moment as He watched them come out of the shadows with their faith to do the thing that everyone else was afraid to do.

Application - what does God want from us that we are too afraid to do?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Jesus's last few days

I am almost finished with Matthew. The last few days, I've been reading about the final days and hours leading up to the crucifixion. I've read this countless times before, but this time, I really tried to focus in on the roller coaster of emotions that Jesus must have felt. In other words...explore the human side of the God of the Universe.

I may totally off on some of this, but here are my thoughts anyway for whatever they're worth. So way back in chapter 21, Jesus is headed to Jerusalem for the last time. It never occurred to me to look at these events in light of Jesus was facing certain betrayal and death. In other words....Had a bad day...... First he is escorted into the city with a royal procession. Must have been bitter sweet, knowing that those very people would be killing him soon. On his way into Jerusalem, Jesus fried the fig tree, turned over the tables in the temple, and blasted the Pharisees. Seems like he might be experiencing some frustration over the hard hearts of humans. Not that he sinned in any of these instances....just wondering about his emotions as all this was going on. Frustration? Anger? Why couldn't Eve have just said no?

Then he spent time teaching his friends. These last few stories must have been pretty important. After all, when you know you are dying, you try hard to make every moment count. I wondered a little in chapter 26 where the woman anointed him with perfume. I wondered how awkward it was to be in the room at that moment. I wondered how the tension crackled in the air as the men watched for Jesus's reaction to the suggestive gesture. I wondered if Judas justified his actions of betrayal...."what kind of Messiah would allow a woman to do that?"

The last meal...then off to pray while his three favorites waited with him. In the hour of all eternity when he needed, wanted companionship, humans let him down again. What Jesus faced, he faced alone. God of the Universe...lonely. That's hard to comprehend.

What must it have been like as creator, to stand before your creation and be mocked and misjudged and ridiculed and beaten and killed. To endure it so that you could redeem your creation. So that they could have eternity with you. Why not just blast us all and start over? Why be willing to endure the cross for me? Why would an awesome, powerful, mighty God stand before men and allow himself to be treated as common, as trash, as unworthy? And how could we not see who he really was?

Some heavy thoughts there.....Just trying to contemplate God in all his holiness and all his humanness all at the same time is mind boggling to me. All I know is that I am forever thankful that God was willing to do what it took to redeem me. I am not worthy. But I am redeemed.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Monday Morning Updates

You know, sometimes worship is good, and then sometimes its great, and then sometimes it just escapes words. Today was one of those days for me. I don't know what the secret was today.... I don't know that this set selection was necessarily any better than any other set selection. But for was moving and talking and it was unbelievably incredible. The hardest part was staying grounded enough to check for cues occasionaly from worship dude. It was hard not to be totally swept which point following the leader becomes impossible for me because I forget that anyone else exists on the planet besides me and God. So, I have to open my eyes every now and then to make sure I haven't lost track of where worship dude wants to go with the song.

We had good attendance. Several people starting to get plugged in. Shawn's sermon was stinkin' awesome. And he wore his know how that turns me on :)

I had a horribly embarassing moment during the worship set. Our guitar player realizes that his guitar is suddenly loud, leans in and says, "do you think my guitar is hot?" To which I replied, "You're way hot." Meaning "sounds loud to me, too" Only to realize how it sounded coming out of my mouth was not exactly that. Fourtunately this guy knows me well and just laughed. So then the band was all cracking up and trying to keep playing the first song. I turned red and hit some wrong notes, then recovered and went on with worshipping.

Then there was the God moment in what did God have to say today? Well, I've been whining about having to take a turn in children's ministry when all that I love, my entire passion in life, all I ever want to do, is worship. So God set me straight on my attitude today. He said, "You're saved. You will spend all of eternity in my presence worshipping me. What's the big deal about skipping a week here and there to watch the kids so their parents can become believers and worship me throughout eternity too. Is your need for worship bigger than their need for salvation?" He's right you know. The goal of the church plant is to help people find Christ. Sometimes that may mean that I have to walk away from what I love the most in order to do what needs to be done the most. I would love to say that I just immediately surrendered my bad attitude and all but honestly, in my head, I shot God the finger. Then I felt convicted and worked on surrendering my bad attitude.

So all in all, a good day. Can't wait till the next Sunday. Just 7 more days to go!