Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter! He's Alive!

Enjoy today, fellow believers- for we are a resurrection people!  I hope you found this 40 Day Adventure to be inspirational.  Special thanks to Brook Teoli Phelps, Tracee Persiko, Jason Huffman, Jerry Godsey and Terry Smith who contributed guest posts this year.  Remember, you can always take sanctuary in the loving arms of our risen Savior.  Amen!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 40- Waiting

His friends took the crucified Jesus and laid him in a borrowed tomb.  Well, some of his friends.  Others were in hiding.  Some of them clung to the hope that Jesus was not really dead, while others suddenly doubted every thing he had ever told them.  The disciples gathered to figure out what to do next. I would imagine that they sat around and told stories of Jesus.  They wondered what it had all been for.  It was clear there would be no political revolution.  It must have seemed obvious to them that they would soon return to the same powerless lives they had been living before they heard the words, "Follow me."  There was no doubt much discussion about what Jesus really meant when he said he was come back in three days.  They didn't realize that when he said, "It is finished" from the cross he didn't mean his life, he meant his mission.  There would be no more gap between God and man.  His work was done.  As usual, they were slow to get what Jesus meant, and certainly Thomas was not the only one who doubted.  But mostly, on that second day so many years ago, they waited. To be arrested, to discover truth, to learn what was next.  But they waited.

And today we wait- but it's totally different.  We wait with the full knowledge that tomorrow we will celebrate the single greatest event in the history of our world.  We wait knowing that Jesus is alive, that he took our sins, conquered death and rose to walk among the living once again.  So while the disciples waited in a room filled with despair and doubt, we wait with party hats on.  We already know what tomorrow holds.  So don't hold back.  In fact, don't even feel like you have to wait.  Go ahead and jump the gun and start celebrating right now.  The game has already been played, and ladies and gentlemen we have a winner.  "Death is ended; it's swallowed up in victory!"  God wins!  Jesus lives!  Let the celebration begin!!!

He Is Risen!!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 39- "It's Friday...But Sunday's Coming!"

The great Tony Campolo loves to share the story of the sermon he once heard preached on Good Friday in a Philadelphia church.  The pastor would tell a fact about the events of the day of Jesus' crucifixion, and then remind the congregation "but that was Friday...and Sunday's coming!" By the conclusion of the service the pastor was just screaming "FRIDAY," and the crowd would reply "SUNDAY'S COMING!!!" I once wrote a responsive reading for an Easter sunrise service using those words.  Here is part of that reading:
Reader:  It was Friday, and my Jesus was nailed to a cross.
Congregation:  But that was Friday...and Sunday's coming!
Reader:  It was Friday, and the guards gambled for Jesus' robe.
Congregation:  But that was Friday...and Sunday's coming!
Reader:  It was Friday, and the veil of the Temple was torn in two, and the sky turned as black as coal, and all the people were afraid.
Congregation:  But that was Friday...and Sunday's coming!
Reader:  It was Friday, and they rolled the stone in front of Jesus' tomb.
Congregation:  But that was Friday...and Sunday's coming!
Reader:  It was Friday, and the hope of the world seemed lost.  Peter had denied Him.  The others had deserted Him.  All they had worked for seemed for naught.
Congregation:  But that was Friday...and Sunday's coming!
Reader:  It was Friday, and my Jesus lay cold and dead.
Congregation:  But that was Friday...and SUNDAY'S COMING!!!

The congregation was encouraged to grow louder each time they responded, because  "Sunday's Coming!" were not just words; they were a promise from Jesus.  Today, as we stare into the abyss of Good Friday, we must do it only to remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us.  We do it so we understand that the grace of God that wraps us in His love was not cheaply obtained. That is where we must find our sanctuary.  And we do it because we- those who believe and follow the Christ-  know that this is only Friday...and SUNDAY'S COMING!!!

He Is Risen!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 38- Peter Denies Jesus

Mark 14:66-72 (The Message)

While all this was going on, Peter was down in the courtyard. One of the Chief Priest's servant girls came in and, seeing Peter warming himself there, looked hard at him and said, "You were with the Nazarene, Jesus."
He denied it: "I don't know what you're talking about." He went out on the porch. A rooster crowed.
The girl spotted him and began telling the people standing around, "He's one of them." He denied it again.
After a little while, the bystanders brought it up again. "You've got to be one of them. You've got 'Galilean' written all over you."  Now Peter got really nervous and swore, "I never laid eyes on this man you're talking about." Just then the rooster crowed a second time. Peter remembered how Jesus had said, "Before a rooster crows twice, you'll deny me three times." He collapsed in tears. 

Today's message is simple.  As we approach Good Friday, we all have to deal with the ways we have denied Jesus.  We, like Peter and the rest of the disciples, often turn away when things get tough.  Yet Peter's confession that Jesus was the Messiah is the rock upon which our faith is built.  No matter our denials or lack of faith at points in our life, Jesus can and will use us to do amazing things if we will simply open our hearts to Him.   The question is not whether or not Jesus can take the mess of our lives and turn it into something glorious; the question is will we be WIDE OPEN to the grace and love of Jesus and what He wants to do with our lives.  It's a query I plan to answer before the rooster crows...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 37- Guest Post from Terry Smith

Today's guest post is from my Twitter friend Terry Smith (@TerryRamoneSmit).  You can also check out his blog at  Many thanks to Terry for being willing to share with us on this adventure!

The Garden of Gethsemane
The historical account of the Garden of Gethsemane is given in all four Gospels, although Luke and John tell the story a little differently than Matthew or Mark. Matthew and Mark are basically identical and as Mark's text is the earliest, I choose to use that one. I'm going to do my best to take the accounts of Mark, Luke and John and bring a little cohesiveness to these apparently three different stories.

There is a thing we have to agree on before we proceed. That is that the text is Holy, Perfect, Ordained and Inspired by God. If we can't say that the text is perfect, then all of Christianity is a sham. Do we think John could perfectly remember every word of the High Priestly prayer 40 or so years after he heard it? No. We have to say, through the Spirit it was brought back to him.

Now, let's take a look at Mark and Luke. In these accounts, Jesus prays for "this cup" to be taken from Him and then He says, "But not my will, but Yours." What cup do we think Jesus was referring to? We know that he knew He was about to face the cross. Was Jesus talking about a cup of suffering, pain, humiliation? No, I don't think He was. (For the record, this is not an original thought.) I think Jesus was using a metaphor for sins of the world. That makes a lot more sense doesn't it? Jesus spent a lot of time talking about His death and Resurrection. He wasn't afraid of death or physical suffering. He simply didn't want the anguish of the sins of the world to rest on Him. This is the reprieve Jesus was praying for. I hate it when theologians make Jesus look weak at this moment by saying that He was praying for a reprieve from the Cross. Guys, when Jesus came to Earth, He knew it was for the Cross. He knew what was coming. The Cross wasn't some left hook God threw that Jesus didn't see coming.

In John 17, we see what is often called the High Priestly Prayer. First of all, Jesus asks for the Father to glorify his Son. This was Jesus saying, "Hey Daddy, I've down all you've asked. Show your grace on me so that I may complete the work You have for me." In Luke, we say that Jesus' sweat was like "drops of blood falling down to the ground." This John 17 prayer wasn't some wimpy little, "Bless our food, sanctify it for our bodies" prayer. This was emotion. This was a love that no one could or can understand. Jesus prayed for Himself, then He prayed for His close disciples. He prayed that God would protect them by the name that God had given Jesus. (Later on in Acts, these close followers would be given the name "Christ-like".) Then Jesus prayed for the ones who didn't know of Him yet. He prayed for unity in all of the believers and the believers to come. He prayed for the ones that would come to know Him by the Message of the Disciples, that they would be one body, one cooperative group.

And then, almost immediately after He prayed for unity, men came with swords. The one who would betray Jesus came and kissed him on the cheek. With that kiss, the Roman soldiers and priests knew which one Jesus was and came to take Him. And Peter, who never thought much before he acted, cut off one of the priests' ear. And at that Jesus said, "No more of this!" and healed the man's ear. That makes me question those who are abusive with their actions and words on behalf of their Jesus. Jesus would be sick at what we have done with the divisions in His Bride in America. We have the very Christian Left who say, "God loves everybody so we're all going to Heaven." Then you have the very Independent Fundamental Organizations (I refuse to call them Christian or a church) who say, "God hates sinners and we're all going to Hell."

I say we have to come together. We can't all be all right, but we can't all be all wrong either. How about we just love one another and try to live in the unity Christ prayed for?

He Is Risen!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 36- Footwashing

In August of 1977, as I was preparing to leave home for my freshman year of college, I went to a special meeting of my youth group at New Garden Friends Meeting. I would miss a lot of things about my hometown of Greensboro, NC, but that group of people was at the top of my list.  That night, our youth director Rob Mitchell had the other students was the feet of the departing seniors.  It was, at the time, a very odd experience for me. I had never been part of anything like that, and it made me terribly uncomfortable.  I mean, feet are nasty.  I felt bad for the washers and embarrassed for myself.  I felt so totally unworthy.  But as the service went on and Rob read the scripture from John 13:1-17 I began to understand.  This was not about glorifying the seniors.  This was all about humility and service.

It is easy to understand why Peter went ballistic at the thought of having Jesus wash his feet.  Sandals and dirt roads most likely made Peter's feet even more disgusting than mine.  Peter had already proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God.  It just didn't make any sense.  Even in his last few hours in his earthly body, Jesus wanted to remind the disciples (and us) that serving others is a prerequisite to leadership.  The master should always be a servant.  This was a great example.  An even better one would come later in the week, when Jesus would sacrifice his life so that we might have eternal life.

Do you understand the power in being a servant?  Or do you still seek power in lifting yourself above the people you encounter each day?  If  this is something you struggle with, then I highly suggest you wash some feet tonight.  It will change your perspective, I promise...

He Is Risen!!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 35- The Next-to-the-Last Supper

Mark 14:1-9 (The Message)

In only two days the eight-day Festival of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread would begin. The high priests and religion scholars were looking for a way they could seize Jesus by stealth and kill him. They agreed that it should not be done during Passover Week. "We don't want the crowds up in arms," they said.

Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper. While he was eating dinner, a woman came up carrying a bottle of very expensive perfume. Opening the bottle, she poured it on his head. Some of the guests became furious among themselves. "That's criminal! A sheer waste! This perfume could have been sold for well over a year's wages and handed out to the poor." They swelled up in anger, nearly bursting with indignation over her. But Jesus said, "Let her alone. Why are you giving her a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives. Whenever you feel like it, you can do something for them. Not so with me. She did what she could when she could—she pre-anointed my body for burial. And you can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she just did is going to be talked about admiringly."

My old friend Curt Cloninger, the amazing actor and interpreter of scripture, calls the meal Jesus is eating in the scripture above "the next to the last supper." In Curt's brilliant one-man play entitled Witnesses, he plays a fictional character (Abe the Banana Man) who was present at this meal. He used to be unable to speak, he tells us. In fact, he points out, almost everyone there (in Curt's version) was a "used to be." Simon (their host) used to be a leper. Bart used to be blind. Lazurus used to be dead! Curt points out that Jesus most likely ended the party during His speech praising the woman who had anointed His feet with perfume, because He once again announced that He would soon be dead.  Now THAT would end a party.  The whole evening must have been indicative of the highs and lows of that last week.

We all used to be something before Jesus got hold of our hearts. Some of us still are things that we would rather not be. Holy Week is a wonderful time to let Jesus make you a "used to be" again. He will- if you seek sanctuary in the grace he offers you. Honor him this week (and every week) with your very life.

He Is Risen!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday

Today we celebrate the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem and the beginning of Holy Week in the Christian church.  The video clip below is from Jesus Christ, Superstar, and it portrays the triumphal entry in the modern context of a ticker-tape parade.  In it, you can feel the hatred of the Pharisees towards Jesus.  You can sense the joy of the crowd and see the frustration of Judas.  And if you listen closely to to lyrics, you can hear the expectations people have of Jesus begin to change even as they celebrate.  They thought they were there to crown a new King.  They just didn't understand what His kingdom would be.  Enjoy, and have a most blessed Palm Sunday!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 34- Lazarus

Today I want us to think about the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, and ponder some questions about our lives today.  The scripture can be found in your bible at John 11:1-45, or you can read the NIV translation by clicking here.  It's a story full of doubts, tests, emotions and faith.  Read it, and then come back for the questions.

1)  When was a time that you lost patience with God?

2)  Have you ever felt like God must have far too many important things on His plate to ever be concerned with you?

3)  While most of us have never actually come back from being dead, we have all been rescued by Jesus.  Think about one time in your life when Jesus said to you, "Come out of there."  Is there a reason you need to hear those words today?

He Is Risen!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 33- "Come Follow Me"

Jesus said a lot of things to a lot of people, but nothing that means more to us, right here and right now, than these words from Matthew 4:18-22 (The Message):

Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, "Come with me. I'll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I'll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass." They didn't ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed.

A short distance down the beach they came upon another pair of brothers, James and John, Zebedee's sons. These two were sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, mending their fishnets. Jesus made the same offer to them, and they were just as quick to follow, abandoning boat and father.

1) What have you "dropped" from your life in order to follow Jesus?

2) James and John left everything, including their father, to go with Jesus.  What is keeping you from being a fully devoted follower of Christ? Will you follow where He leads without questioning where you are going?  Is this day and age of the GPS, are you willing to "drive blind?"

3) Are you a "new kind of fisherman?" Who are the people in your life that you need to bring to Jesus?
He Is Risen!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 32- The Evidence of God

Geoff Moore and Roscoe Meeks wrote a song for the Geoff Moore & the Distance album Home Run called The Evidence of God.  The refrain goes as follows: 

Every mountain, every valley, Your creation, it surrounds me.
Every breath I breath, every heartbeat, every sunrise that You give to me.
Every blue sky, every starry night, paint a picture we cannot deny.
Like a warm rain in the summertime, like a first kiss or a baby's cry.
These and so much more tell a story we cannot ignore,
The evidence of God

On a live recording of the song I have, Geoff implores the crowd to "Look around and SEE the evidence."  That's what we are.  Make a list of everything you encounter today that is proof of God in your life.  It may be the sunset, or your the love of your spouse.  At the end of the day, take the list and thank God for everything on it.  And don't forget to include yourself.  "Even our own lives will testify to the evidence of God."  Hallelujah!

He Is Risen!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 31- Meditative Prayer

Today you will need to find a quiet place and some quiet time to try this powerful prayer exercise.  Find a comfortable chair or seat.  Sit quietly for moment, clearing your mind of the normal daily junk and asking God to be with you as you pray.  Place your hands flat on your knees, palms down.  Then spend a few moments listing all of the things in your life you want to give to God.  This could be problems, addictions, habits, broken relationships and more.  Take you time and list them slowly.  When you are done, close by saying this line: "Jesus, all of these things I give to you, palms down." 

Then turn your palms up and begin again- this asking God for things.  They may be personal or you may be interceding on behalf of others.  Again, pray slowly and with conviction.  At the conclusion say this:  "Thank you, LORD, for all of the blessings you have already given me.  These things I ask for palms up." 

I encourage you to make this exercise a regular part of your prayer life.  It has, for many years, made a huge difference in mine.  It is an easy and amazing way to find sanctuary in the midst of the busyness of this world.

He Is Risen!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 30- Salt of the Earth

Get some salt.  Taste it.  Read Matthew 5:13.  Taste it again.  What does salt do to food?  Flavor it?  Preserve it?  Change it?  When people encounter you, do they "taste" Jesus in your life?  Pray that you might become salt and light to the world around you.  As a reminder, find a small "to go" style packet of salt and carry it with you for the next few days.  Let it change you.

He Is Risen

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day 29- Shout To the LORD!

This Monday we want to sing praises to our God!  But since not all of us can sing, you can shout out by reading aloud Psalm 100.  Read it with gusto and passion.  Do indeed make a joyful noise!!!

He Is Risen!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

This Week: Acts of Worship

This week our adventure will lead us to the throne of God in worship.  Small but significant acts of bringing glory to God and turning the commonplace into a sanctuary.  I hope you will join us.

He Is Risen

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day 28- Guest Post from Jerry Godsey

Thanks to Jerry Godsey for another Saturday post as we continue our 40 Day Adventure. Today Jerry's words help us to place ourselves in the scene surrounding Holy Week. Soak in them, and let your mind's eye take you back. You can find Jerry's blog at or visit his church's website at Thanks so much for your contributions, Jerry!

The Onlooker In the Crowd

My palm fronds from last week are still lying on the floor of my house. I can’t believe I was such a fool. I spent all last Sunday shouting about this Jesus guy and welcoming him as the Messiah.

I guess I got caught up in all the excitement. The crowd was buzzing. We laughed and shouted and had a great time. Then, when it was all over, we talked about what we knew about Jesus. Not much, really. A couple of guys at work had been there when he fed five thousand people with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. My neighbor says that she saw Jesus raise a guy from the dead! I guess they could be telling the truth. All week we talked about what would happen if Jesus really was the Messiah! We could finally kick the stinking Romans out of our country! But people have been going around all week warning us. What if we put all our eggs in his basket and we are wrong? Can you imagine how bad things will be if we let this guy lead us and find out he is nothing more than a charismatic guy with some good lines? We can’t take that chance.

Now here I am, standing on the same road, waiting for the same guy. This time I won’t have any palm fronds, though. Early this morning my same group of friends stood in the courtyard and watched Pilate condemn Jesus to death. We shouted for his blood! The Chief Priests were whipping the crowd into a frenzy, ripping their tunics and crying out about heresy and blasphemy. I heard that a few people were threatened. Either way, we have too much to risk to follow Jesus. Our lives may not be great, but they are better than they could be…

The crowd down the road begins to get louder and louder. The shouting starts and I can see the first of the soldiers trying to part the crowd so they can get through. They are drawing their swords and shoving people out of the way… Whoa, that man just got stabbed! These guys mean business.

Jesus is in the midst of this big pack of soldiers, he’s got a huge wood beam across his soldiers. Man, is he bleeding! Someone put a crown made out of thorns around his head. That’s hilarious! He said he was a king, and a king needs a crown, right? Jesus falls to the ground and the soldiers whip him. The crowd yells out at him, a couple of people even spit on him. Yuck. He is lying there in a puddle of his own blood. He struggles to get up, then falters again. The soldiers grab Jesus by the shoulders and drag him down the street to Golgotha.

I open my mouth to scream at him, but words won’t come out. I stand there, mute, with my mouth open. There is something in his eyes. Even though we did a brutal turnaround in less than a week, he still looks at us like he cares about us. As he passes me his eyes bore holes into my soul. Something is wrong here, very wrong. Why are they killing this guy? What did he do wrong? What is going on here?

I walk home with my head drooping low. I got caught up in the crowd and missed the Messiah. What have I done… what have I done…

This Easter Sunday please don’t make the mistake of getting caught up in the crowd and missing Jesus. Head to church and find out the truth about Jesus and the life he has for you. You’ll be glad you did…

Thanking Jeremiah Vik for the idea… Jerry

He Is Risen

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 27- "The Real Jesus"

The past two days we've looked at what it might have been like to know and follow Jesus when he walked the earth.  Today I invite you (once again in song) to think about the misconceptions of following Jesus today.  The Canadian band Downhere wrote a song a few years ago called The Real Jesus.  In it, they ask a simple question.  Do we- any of us- know the REAL Jesus?  How would you describe Him to the people in your life who have no idea who He is?  Listen to the words- which, by the way, give me goosebumps every single time I hear them- and answer that question for yourself.  Does your church really "get" Jesus?  Do you know Him, or some cultural manifestation of him?  Let these questions and possible answers wash over you as you listen. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 26- "Surely God Is With Us"

We looked yesterday at the scandal of the Christ. Did you ever wonder what it was like to be with Jesus that last week in Jerusalem?  Before the dinner in Bethany, before the foot-washing, before the Last Supper and before the arrest?  Can you imagine the gossip and the whispering that must have been going on?  Read the words below and listen to the song, performed into a personal tape recorder at a country church by the great Rich Mullins just a few weeks before his death. They capture many of the emotions that must have been present that week with both the followers and the enemies of Jesus. At what moment would you have realized that God had come to earth to dwell among us?  Or would you and I, like so many, have missed it altogether...

Surely God Is With Us -  Beaker and Mark Robertson (The Jesus Record)
Well, who's that man who thinks He's a prophet?
Well, I wonder if He's got something up His sleeve
Where's He from? Who is His daddy?
There's rumors He even thinks Himself a king
Of a kingdom of paupers
Simpletons and rogues
The whores all seem to love Him
And the drunks propose a toast

And they say, "Surely God is with us.
Well, surely God is with us."
They say, "Surely God is with us today!"

Who's that man who says He's a preacher?
Well, He must be, He's disturbing all our peace
Where's He get off, and what is He hiding
And every word He says those fools believe
Who could move a mountain?
Who would love their enemy?
Who could rejoice in pain?
And turn the other cheek?

And still say, "Surely God is with us,
Well, surely God is with us,"
Who'll say, "Surely God is with us today, today!"
They say, "Surely God is with us
Well, surely God is with us"
They say, "Surely God is with us"

Blessed are the poor in spirit
Heaven belongs to them
Blessed are those who make peace
They are God's children
I Am the Bread of Life, and the Way"
You hear that Man, believe what He says!

Tell me, who's that Man, they made Him a prisoner
They tortured Him and nailed Him to a tree
Well if He's so bad, who did He threaten?
Did He deserve to die between two thieves?
See the scars and touch His wounds
He's risen flesh and bone
Now the sinners have become the saints
And the lost have all come home

And they say, "Surely God is with us
Well, surely God is with us,"
They say, "Surely God is with us today!"

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 25- "Scandalon"

The scandal of the Christ.  It all started with a prophecy in Isaiah- " and he will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." (8:14) Isaiah understood perhaps better than any of the prophets that when the Messiah would come He would be an offense. That is why he also says, "he will be despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering." (53:3)  His entire life was a scandal.  Mary's pregnancy, his teaching in the temple, his consorting with John the Baptist- were all scandalous. The scandal was fanned into flame when the ministry of Jesus began. Then the gospels make it clear that practically everyone who came into contact with Jesus was scandalized. We cannot appreciate the walk towards Calvary until we fully understand that to follow Jesus is to follow an outcast.  Read the lyrics first.  Let them wash over you.  Then watch and listen to the video.  Pray for understanding.  And find sanctuary in the wondrous, scandalous grace of Jesus...

The seers and the prophets had foretold it long ago

That the long awaited one would make men stumble
But they were looking for a king to conquer and to kill
Who'd have ever thought He'd be so meek and humble

He will be the truth that will offend them one and all
A stone that makes men stumble
And a rock that makes them fall
Many will be broken so that He can make them whole
And many will be crushed and lose their own soul

Along the path of life there lies a stubborn Scandalon
And all who come this way must be offended
To some He is a barrier, To others He's the way
For all should know the scandal of believing


It seems today the Scandalon offends no one at all
The image we present can be stepped over
Could it be that we are like the others long ago
Will we ever learn that all who come must stumble

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day 24- "Thief"

One of the really fascinating moments of Holy Week occurs when Jesus shares a conversation with the thieves being crucified next to Him.  Check out these words from Luke 23:39-43:  One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”  But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”  Very few places do we get such a deep look into what grace looks like in its' purest form.

Third Day recorded the song Thief on their debut album, and it has long been a favorite of mine.  Written from the point of view of the forgiven thief, it is powerful and moving.  As you watch, listen and read I hope you will feel a new understanding of God's love and mercy.  I hope you will feel drawn in to the sancutaury of His grace. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day 23- "Secret Ambition"

Have you ever really thought about what it must have been like for Jesus to live life on earth for his 30+ years fully aware of what awaited him at the end?  I cannot imagine, but it is important for us to consider.  Jesus knew what he was doing.  He knew the pain he would suffer.  He CHOSE to die for our sins and offer sanctuary and comfort to those, like you and I, who did not and do not deserve it.  Enjoy the first song in our week of music.  Lyrics can be found after the break.

SECRET AMBITION by Michael W. Smith

from the album I 2 eye

Young man up on the hillside, Teaching new ways
Each word winning them over, Each heart a kindled flame
Old men watch from the outside, Guarding their prey
Threatened by the voice of the paragon
Leading their lambs away
Leading them far away

Nobody knew His secret ambition
Nobody knew His claim to fame
He broke the old rules steeped in tradition
He tore the Holy Veil away
Questioning those in powerful position
Running to those who called His name
(But) Nobody knew His secret ambition
Was to give His life away

His rage shaking the temple, His word to the wise
His hand healing on the seventh day, His love wearing no disguise
Some say Death to the radical, He's way out of line
Some say Praise be the miracle, God sends a blessed sign
A blessed sign for troubled times

Nobody knew His secret ambition
Nobody knew His claim to fame
He broke the old rules steeped in tradition
He tore the Holy Veil away
Questioning those in powerful position
Running to those who called His name
(But) Nobody knew His secret ambition
Was to give His life away
no, no, no, no
I tell you nobody knew,
until he gave his life away

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Coming this Week- Make A Joyful Noise

This week on our adventure through Lent we will use music as our devotinal guide.  Each day I will present you with a new song to inspire you and make you think.  Some will be very familiar; some may be new to you.  The Psalms were songs written to inspire and convict.  We will continue their tradition here on the 40 Day Aventure. Enjoy your Sabbath.

He Is Risen!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 22- The Ragamuffin Gospel

Today's "words to soak in" are excerpts from the first chapter of Brennan Manning's classic book The Ragamuffin Gospel (1990, Multnomah Press). It could also be called The Official Guide To Grace- or maybe that's just me. Enjoy.

Something is radically wrong.

The Christian community often resembles a Wall Street exchange of works where in the elite are honored and the ordinary ignored. Love is stifled, freedom shackled, and self-righteousness believed. The institutional church has become a wounder of the healers rather than a healer of the wounded... Put bluntly the American Church today accepts grace in theory but denies it in practice.

Our culture has made the word grace impossible to understand. We resonate with slogans such as:
"There's no free lunch."
"You get what you deserve."
"You want love? Earn it."
"You want mercy? Show you deserve it."
"Do unto others before they do it unto you."

Though lip service is paid to the gospel of grace, many Christians live as if it is only personal discipline and self-denial that will mold the perfect me. The emphasis is on what I do rather than on what God is doing.

Our approach to the Christian life is just as absurd as the enthusiastic young man who had just received his plumber's license and was taken to see Niagra Falls. He studied it for a minute and then said, "I think I can fix this."

We believe that we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps- indeed, we can do it ourselves. Sooner or later we are coonfronted with the painful truth of our inadequacy and insufficency. Our sercurity is shattered and our bootstraps are cut.

God of grace have mercy on us- again.

He Is Risen!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Day 21- Prayers of Intercession

Don't forget yesterday's challenge to make today a day of fasting!  Seek Jesus!

Pray for the people in your life; Parents, friends, pastors, teachers, co-workers and everyone else you need to bring before God's throne. Pray for them by name and by need. Pray for places like Japan and Libya that have so many needs. Pray for the people who cause you the most tension and grief. Pray for our leaders and our President.  Ask God to give them sanctuary in His loving arms as they face each day. He already knows their needs before we ask, but we must ask anyway on behalf of others and in the name of Jesus. And be sure to thank God for the work He is already doing in your life and in the lives of those you pray for.

He Is Risen!