It was Friday and there was nothing good about it. Evil sat enthroned on sin, death and injustice. A man hung nailed to a tree. What irony that it took three nails to hold him there. He had done no wrong. The charges against him were trumped up lies. The judge who could have stopped the whole thing didn’t stop it simply to avoid upsetting the status quo.
The nail of sin. Not the dying man’s sin. He had not sinned. He hung there for the sins of those who put him there. He could name every sin that had ever been committed. He kept a tally so that when it was over, he could say that his death would cover every single one of them. It was a long list but he would not allow even the smallest to be omitted or overlooked. His death would cover them all.
The nail of death. Throughout history death has been looked upon as the final, ultimate answer to any one considered to be a problem and Yeshua was definitely considered to be a problem. The religious authorities had already decided that Yeshua could not be who he claimed to be. He was not the Messiah they wanted so he could not be the Messiah. The fact that they were able to get him convicted with no evidence and nailed to a cross only proved the point in their minds. Pilate knew it wasn’t right but to let Yeshua live presented problems. A potential for a riot. Tattletales running to Rome whispering that he had allowed a man to go free who claimed to be a king. Caesar would not be happy with a riot or a rival. Death could settle these little problems for Pilate.
And it did settle the problems, right? Satan probably would have agreed. He used Herod to try to kill Yeshua shortly after his birth. Now he had finally succeeded. Satan was in terror of a God who would descend to earth and rule. He could never hope to keep his hold on earth if God took his seat in the Temple. So it was all over in Satan’s eyes. He’d won Won it all. The earth. Mankind. Everything.
But, in the words of the preacher, it’s Friday but Sunday’s coming.
Continue reading “It’s Sunday. Forever.”
Yes, Happy Easter, the celebration of the resurrection of the Messiah from the dead. Had Jesus simply died on the cross and not risen from the dead, we would remain separated from God and have no hope of heaven. Yet Jesus could not have risen from the dead if He had not died on the cross. It was His death in our place that satisfied the requirements of the Law, paid the penalty for our failure to keep the Law and allowed us to be redeemed by faith. So it follows that Jesus’ resurrection could not have happened without His death and, for us, His death was our only hope. This is why Good Friday is good – good for us but torture and agony for Jesus. He did it for the joy he saw on the other side of death. He did it for us.
Yet, Easter has a dark history of persecution for Jewish people. The centuries old cry to punish Jews for the death of Jesus has not died out. But is it justified? Would God approve? No.
Continue reading “Happy Easter? Thank a Jew.”
Purim is the Feast of Esther. It’s when we celebrate God’s continued protection of his people. As many of you may know, the name of God is never mentioned in the book of Esther but that doesn’t mean he is not there. As my pastor pointed out, the Jews in this story were post-Exilic. Stop scratching your head. It means the 70 exile from the land of Israel had ended and Jews were able to return to the land and rebuild the Temple. Yet in the book of Esther, we read about Jews who did not return. They remained in exile and, as is clearly demonstrated, God did not abandon them for not returning to the land.
Even though they did not obey God and return to the land, they are vital to the story. God works through their continued presence outside the land to protect those who had obeyed and were inside the land. God takes what appears to be disobedience and shows us that he will achieve his ends and his glory through it. He is that powerful.
We had a blast. But that is how it is supposed to be. We are told in the book:
Mordecai recorded these events and sent letters to all the Jews in all of King Ahasuerus’s provinces, both near and far. He ordered them to celebrate the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month Adar every year because during those days the Jews got rid of their enemies. That was the month when their sorrow was turned into rejoicing and their mourning into a holiday. They were to be days of feasting, rejoicing, and of sending gifts to one another and the poor. Esther 9:20-22
And so on the feast of Purim, we tell the story. Because we are supposed to have fun with it, often the story is told rather tongue-in-cheek. This year we told the story in a Star Wars version, or, to be more precise, the Star of David Wars. And I was Queen Esther-Leia. Aaaah. Yes, when the name of Esther is mentioned, we should say Aaah because she is the beautiful heroine. When Haman is mentioned, we boo to drown out his name because he is the bad guy. And when Mordechai is mentioned, we cheer because he is the hero.
Want to see it? Use the link below and scroll down the page it pulls up. Enjoy! Hag Sameach!
Rachel Dolezal was in the news a lot about a year ago. To refresh your memory, she was the head of the Spokane office of the NAACP. After six apparently highly productive months in that position, her parents came forward with her birth certificate and pointed out that Ms. Dolezal was born a white person. According to one article that I read, white with blond hair and blue eyes, no less. They were confused at her insistence that she is a black woman. Ms. Dolezal had to resign from her position in order to defuse the heated debate that surged around her. She insists to the present that she identifies as a black woman. In her eyes, she is black. Or, as she has termed it, “trans-black”. And it has cost her everything. She is unable to find any type of employment, teeters on the edge of homelessness and is living on food stamps. Who can doubt her sincerity? If I am asked to judge her by the culture in which I live, there is no basis to challenge that claim. If I am asked to judge her by the moral standards of my faith, then I must conclude that she is not black. Why the disparity? How can there be such a deep chasm between my culture and my faith? Easily. It all derives from the foundation on which each stands.
Continue reading “THE COURAGE TO CALL THINGS WHAT THEY ARE IN A WORLD THAT WON’T”
If you click the Youtube link to the left, you’ll find my latest video to date. It’s ‘Testify’ by NeedToBreathe. My rule is that I make videos to songs that make me cry. This one made me laugh and cry. Why? It reminded me of some truths that are so easy to forget in my busy, adult life.
You’ll notice a maze theme running through the video which comes from the lyrics ‘there is a peace, there is a love, you can get lost inside’. It made me think of mazes. In adults, that is a theme that inspires trepidation. We don’t want to get trapped inside a maze. It’s threatening. But look at the faces of the children running through the mazes. It’s not fear or anxiety on their faces. It’s excitement and anticipation and joy. God wants me to run through the maze of my life with excitement, never knowing what he has around the next corner but safe in the knowledge that a good God will be there waiting for me. I should lose myself in his peace and love. My goal should be to reach the center, not to escape the maze.
Continue reading “I’m Already Dancing”
The acts of goodness that most amaze us are the undeserved and unexpected acts. We remember them. The young man who takes off his own shoes and gives them to a homeless man whose shoes are in tatters. The policeman bringing food to someone begging on the street instead of arresting them. People like Mother Theresa who left a life of Western comforts to devote herself to the poor of India. I remember as a child someone who used to treat me a bit harshly and then one day did something unexpectedly kind to me. It’s been more than 50 years and I don’t remember the specifics of her harsh side but I distinctly remember that kind act. Such acts bring us to tears. They revive our hearts. They give us hope. Why? Because we instinctively long for such gracious goodness in a world so lacking in it. I read the internet news almost daily and what I see there is that for every act of gracious goodness, there are five or ten stories of murder, cruelty and betrayal. These rare acts of goodness help to restore us in the face of such cruelty and wrongdoing.
And yet we do not see that our lives and the lives of the entire world are bathed in the gracious goodness of God. God created this world knowing what we would do with it. He could have simply said no to the very idea of the world. He could have decided the world was not worth the trouble. After all, the world breaks his heart every moment of every day. Who needs that? But for the sake of the love he decided to lavish on us, God decided we were worth all the pain we would inflict on him. Gracious goodness. Faithful goodness.
Continue reading “The Goodness of God”
This parable is told in Luke 16 beginning in verse 19. Yeshua is on his way to Jerusalem to be crucified. He knows this. In chapter 17, we find him on the road to Jerusalem. In chapter 18 he predicts his death for the third time .In chapter 19 we find the triumphal entry. He knows where he’s going. He knows what will happen and he keeps going. So much is packed into these chapters. He’s trying to get the people ready. He’s trying to get the disciples ready. I think that’s why he tells so many stories. I don’t know about you but stories are much easier for me to remember than instructions. I think that’s why Yeshua told stories. There are some amazing things in this parable. Yeshua was trying to jar the religiously righteous enough wake them up to what they were doing. To wake them up enough to follow him. He loved them.
Continue reading “Lazarus and the Rich Man”