Friday, April 18, 2014

The day after Good Friday

What do you think it was like the day after the crucifixion of Christ? Did Pilot wake up with a guilty conscience and wonder if he had done the right thing? Did the guards who had mocked Jesus and then seen Him on the cross, wonder if an innocent man had died? Did the crowds who had called for His life keep an embarrassed silence in a quiet Jerusalem? Someone was nervous for they asked the Roman garrison to post guards at His tomb. On the day after, Jesus' friends mourned, the Romans were nervous and some who had watched the execution were sure He was the Son of God.

It had to be like a day like no other in Jerusalem. It had to be a day of quiet and consideration. It had to be a day of sober doubt after a day of impetuous action. I'll bet there were many disturbed consciences that day. The day between death and resurrection. A day of uncertainty and guilt. A day of hopelessness and sadness. 

We have days like that! I have experienced whole periods of life that hang between hope and despair. Uncertainty reigns. Sadness is prevalent, maybe dominant. It us the time in between life as it was and life as it will be - but not yet knowing what will be. It is the dark night of the soul with all the questions, uncertainties and unknowns.

It is the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It is real and it hurts and all of us experience it just as the disciples did, only in different ways. But there is another day coming...we know and we look forward to that day of hope. Always remember in the day of despair. The morning comes, and it comes with hope and resurrection power and salvation. In the in-between times, we need the words of Habakkuk, "Be still and know that I am God." Easter comes and so does Hope. 

Jews told to "register" in east Ukraine by pro Russia group! What does this remind you of?

USA Today reported this story on April 17. It should give one pause as to the intentions of the pro Russian groups in the region.

Here is the LINK to the USA Today article.

Good Friday: Things are not always what they appear to be!

One of the lessons of Good Friday is that what appears to be true is not always true. On this day the cosmic battle between Satan and God culminated in what Satan thought was his greatest victory. That battle had been waged from the time of the fall (Genesis 3:15) where God made it clear that one day Satan would be defeated. But on thisday, Satan knew he had won. The Son of God is on the cross, alone, abandoned even by His Father who didn't seem able to rescue Him. Thirty pieces of silver was all it had taken, the best deal ever in the history of evil.

The disciples knew it was over. Jesus' friends knew it was over. The Jewish authorities knew it was over - their problem solved, a rival gone. Not only that but for those who cared, evil had won over good and righteousness. For the followers of Christ, this was the ultimate sadness. They had expected righteousness to triumph and instead, evil had prevailed. The one who had called Himself the Son of God, dead on a bitter cross. 

Little did they know that what appeared to be the final chapter was only the beginning of a new chapter because out of the jaws ofapparent defeat, Christ would not only be resurrected but in that resurrection he sealed the fate of Satan and evil and unrighteousness for all time and made it possible for the created to have a relationship with the creator. Apparent defeat was only the prelude to totalvictory! 

Not for one moment had the events of Good Friday been out of the control of the heavenly Father even though it looked like the Father had lost all control. He is sovereign and nothing under His control can ever be out of control. The world learned that on Easter Sunday.

Think about your own life for a moment. Where are the areas that seem to be out of control? Where does it feel like evil has won? Where are the apparent areas where you feel defeat, discouragement, sadness or pain? It is easy to see the Good Friday moments in our lives when it is clear that God has not acted and we need His help. It is harder to wait for the resurrection moments when God shows up as He always does and redeems what we thought was unredeemable - often in surprising and unique ways.

Whatever your circumstance you can be sure that Easter is coming and that things are not always what they appear to be. In the end, nothing that is in His control can ever be out of control and Godalways prevails. Our job is to walk by faith in the Good Friday moments of life when life is hard and hope is scarce, waiting for our Easter to arrive when He shows up and redeems our situation. The fun thing about Easter was that it was such a surprise. Invite Jesus to surprise you in your situation today.

(Posted from Oakdale, MN)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why Younger Evangelicals Are Leaving the Church: Some Arguments against the Conventional Wisdom

This is a very insightful article on a very important issue. Click on this LINK to read.

(Posted from Oakdale, MN)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

If there had been no Good Friday or Easter Morning

We take much for granted. As you walk through this week, consider the gift of the death and resurrection of Christ. Because if there had been no Good Friday or Easter Sunday….

You would have no church

There would be no Holy Spirit resident in our hearts

Funerals would be the final farewell

Guilt would last forever

Good News would be absent for all

Life purpose would be absent

Prayer would be futile

Reconciliation with God would be impossible

The evil one would have the final say

Evil would not be mitigated by God’s love – anywhere

There would be no New Testament

The failures of our lives could never be redeemed for a greater good

Suffering would have no meaning

Future hope would be non-existent

The One Friend we can always count on would be absent

Love motivated by Jesus would be non-existent

There would be no final justice

It would be a life without Jesus

There would be no Easter

Take time this week to reflect. Good Friday and Easter Morning are the game changers in human history - and in our own history.

(Posted from Wayne, PA)

Praying for the persecuted church this Easter week

Most who read this blog will celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday in safety and security. For those of us who do we need to remember and be praying for the many Christians around the world who live in places not only hostile to the gospel but who also fear for their lives and those of their families.

April 18 is Good Friday, it is also the day that the Zirve murders occurred. Zirve is located in Turkey and in 2007 three Christians were murdered by several Muslims. The perpetrators were caught literally with blood on their hands and they sat in the criminal system these 7 years. As reported in Turkish papers and by Timur, the statute of limitations expired and they were released. You can read about the situation here.

Many believers in Turkey live in fear. This is also true of many believers in other Islamic states and in large parts of India. While we take our right to freely practice our faith, they do not.

I would urge us who live in safety to pray for those who do not this Easter week. Pray for their encouragement, their protection and their efforts to share the Good News of Jesus with their friends and neighbors. As one who works around the world, I meet many of these saints and am always amazed at their courage and tenacity in the face of great adversity.

(Posted from Wayne, PA)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Practices that help leaders see clearly

All of us want to see the issues of life clearly and this is nowhere more important than for leaders whose actions, perceptions and decisions impact teams and organizations. This does not happen automatically as the busyness of life, demands of leadership and lack of appropriate margin often cloud out clarity leaving us seeing through a clouded rather than a clear lens.

Seeing clearly starts with renewed hearts and minds that are regularly in the presence of God: Scripture, prayer, meditation, and living with an ever present awareness of our need for His wisdom and empowerment. Inherent in a renewed mind is a clear conscience where we are living in God's grace and forgiveness and not allowing known sin to cloud our lives. Sin has a way of skewing our perspective and is antithetical to personal clarity.

Seeing clearly also requires an open mind that listens to the input of others, is non-defensive in spirit and does not go it alone. None of us see clearly by ourselves. We need others and the gifts and thinking of others to see what we ourselves cannot see. Those leaders who see the best have surrounded themselves with wise individuals whom they listen to. Almost all leaders who get themselves into trouble allowed themselves to become isolated from good counsel.

Clear thinking requires time to consider, mull and consider. The out of control schedules of many leaders lives do not provide that time and decisions made on the fly are rarely great decisions. Thus our schedules have much to do with our ability to see clearly.

All of us have personal issues. Resolving those issues is a huge part of seeing clearly as our own stuff often clouds our perspective. Healthy leaders who are aware of their baggage and who seek to minimize that baggage see far better than those who carry it around unresolved. Distractions are fewer, and life less complicated when we have resolved our own stuff.

Much of this comes down to personal health: Emotional, spiritual and relational health and a life lived with intentionality. Healthy leaders see better and end up making healthier decisions. Their hearts and lives are less clouded than others.