Holy Week – Friday – Good Friday

Matthew 27:1-61; Mark 15:1-47; Luke 23:1-56; John 18:28-19:42

Good? This is the day we remember Jesus’ death on the cross. How can something so terrible be good? Well…. it was the terrible price that God paid so that we (sinners) could be in relationship with Him. We are better off and have been given forgiveness and new life as a result of His great loss. Jesus’ loss was our great gain. It wasn’t so “good” for Jesus, but it was more than “good” for us. Good Friday.

Here’s what happened:

Throughout the night on Thursday, the chief priests arrested Jesus and then rushed Him around to a few places trying to get permission to have Him killed. They see Caiaphas and then Pilate who then sent them to Herod so he wouldn’t have to deal with the situation. However, Herod didn’t have the authority to execute Jesus, so he sent him back to Pilate. In the end, Pilate reluctantly agreed to the demands of the crowd and sentenced Him to death.

The story becomes pretty gruesome at this point. Jesus is beaten with a flagrum (whip) that had shards of glass and bone at the end of several leather straps. He receives 39 lashings which would tear up His body. (often enough to kill someone or make them unconscious) They put a crown of thorns on His head and mock Him and then force Him to carry His own crossbar (easily 100 pounds) to the place of execution. Once there, spikes were driven through His hands and feet and He was hung on the cross. At that point, there was more mocking, and one of the other criminals being crucified defended Him. Jesus told him that he’d be with Him in paradise. Ultimately, Jesus died from suffocation.

A man named Joseph of Arimathea got permission to take Jesus’ body and with the help of some women who prepared spices, he buried Him in a tomb cut in stone.

As they buried Jesus’ body, the disciples and all of His followers were in disbelief. They had believed that He would be their salvation. They had believed that He would be a conquering King and would restore Israel to it’s rightful place among the nations. As Jesus breathed His last breath, their dreams died. All they had hoped for was destroyed. Their friend was gone. Their hearts were broken.

 

Great Good Friday Song: God Rested – Andrew Peterson

Holy Week – Tuesday – Confrontation and Determination

Matthew 21:23-26:5; Mark 11:27-14:2; Luke 20:1-22:2; John 12:37-50

The Tuesday of Holy Week is full of confrontation. Jesus is determined.

After the events of Monday (running money changers out), the chief priests and scribes have seen enough and they are ready to kill Jesus. However, Jesus doesn’t do anything different. He could have smoothed things over a bit and de-escalated the situation, but He didn’t. Jesus chose to push forward in spite of the opposition.

When they question His authority, He trapped them. (Mt 21:27) Then he told them that tax collectors and prostitutes made better decisions than they did. (Mt 21:32)  In vs 21:43, Jesus tells the chief priests and scribes that the Kingdom of God will be taken from them.

These are not the kinds of things you say if you’re trying to de-escalate the situation.

Next, (Mt 22:10) Jesus tells them a story that compares them to wedding guests who make poor choices and aren’t worthy enough to attend. They end up losing their spots to random people from the streets.

Jesus just keeps pushing them.

They try to trap him with a question about paying taxes, but Jesus makes the slip and points out that they are putting trust in the wrong things. God is interested in hearts not money. (Mt 22:21)

Sidenote: Caesar minted coins with his face to help spread his name. When Rome conquered Jerusalem he also required a tribute in the form of a tax from that country. This is a huge deal to the Jews ’cause Caesar was claiming to be god. If they paid the tax, then they would be breaking the first two commandments – no other gods before me, and you shall have no graven image. (coin itself was an image) When the religious leaders try to trap Jesus with this issue he asks them for a coin – this means that Jesus didn’t have one (He wasn’t carrying a graven image) When the religious leaders pull one out, they have already broken the second commandment. Jesus is so cool!!!

The Sadducees question Him, and Jesus silences them too explaining that they don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God. (Mt 22:29)

If they were upset about Monday, Tuesday simply compounds their feelings about Him. They hate him even more now.

After all the confrontation, Jesus tells His disciples and the crowd not to act like the Pharisees. (Mt 23:3) I can just imagine them listening in on these words and fuming. Their blood is already boiling, and Jesus just keeps going. They’re already angry enough to be seeking a way to kill Him, but Jesus begins announcing a series of “Woes” on them. He calls them “whitewashed tombs.” He describes them as outwardly beautiful, but inwardly just dead bones and uncleanness.

This summary of Jesus’ words on Tuesday of Holy week only scratches the surface of all that He said, but in the end, the main point is that Jesus seems to be intent on walking a path which will lead Him to the cross. It seems obvious to me that He is deliberately choosing to upset and anger the Pharisees. He is God. He understands fully that He is poking the bear, and yet, He still chooses to do it. In Luke 9:51, we see that Jesus had “set his face on Jerusalem.” He understood His purpose and knew what must be done. Although it was going to be a tough road and difficult days were ahead, Jesus’ resolve was greater. His love for His Father compelled Him. His steps were deliberate.

My inner dialog: How Great is Our God? What kind of God/King chooses the kind of suffering that awaited Him for the benefit of His subjects? How can I be more deliberate in my choice to love others? In what ways do I need to stop trying to pacify others? Do I de-escalate situations too quickly? If I allowed confrontation to have its full effect, would it be beneficial? Would it push things forward and force stronger resolutions?

Prayer: Jesus, I am grateful for your example – for your confrontation of sin and for your determination to honor your Father in spite of the earthly consequences. I’m grateful for your resolve. It led to the cross which allows for my salvation. Thank you for your love. Thank you.

 

A Perfect Act of Love

If I ever do a perfect act of love, I’ll probably be proud of it, and then it won’t be a perfect act anymore. Maybe if I die in the midst of performing this act, I could do it.” – man on radio (wish I knew who he was)

When I heard it, this idea struck me. Even my best efforts are littered with selfishness and pride. My “wants” show up in the most unlikely of places – even when I “serve,” I want to be recognized – or I want someone else to take notice and look at me with more admiration, etc. My service serves myself. I’m sinful. Very sinful.

Scripture addresses this too.

Isaiah 64:6 – “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.

Romans 7:21-25 – “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

So here’s the question: How can I get rid of this? How can I serve selflessly? Of course the only REAL answer is Jesus. He alone has done a “perfect act of love” – the cross. He alone is perfect, and so all of His acts were perfect. Ours are NOT. Nor will they ever be. Our acts of service and sacrifice are always going to be tainted with at least a little bit of selfishness. We are sinners, but because of His “perfect act of love” (the cross), we can receive forgiveness and will be made holy. Our selfishness is forgiven and covered by His blood.

A perfect act of love? This is not a goal for us to attain, but a grace that Jesus has offered to us.

Look

Check out Charles Spurgeon’s conversion story in his own words.

I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm, one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship. When I could go no further, I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people’s heads ache; but that did not matter to me. I wanted to know how I might be saved, and if they could tell me that, I did not care how much they made my head ache.

The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last, a very thin-looking man,* a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. Now, it is well that preachers should be instructed; but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was,—

“LOOK UNTO ME, AND BE YE SAVED, ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.”

He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text. The preacher began thus—”My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, ‘Look.’ Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pains. It ain’t liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just, ‘Look.’ Well, a man needn’t go to College to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to be able to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look. But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Ay!” said he, in broad Essex, “many on ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there. You’ll never find any comfort in yourselves. Some look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Some on ye say, ‘We must wait for the Spirit’s workin’.’ You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, ‘Look unto Me.'”

Then the good man followed up his text in this way:—”Look unto Me; I am sweatin’ great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross. Look unto Me; I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to Heaven. Look unto Me; I am sittin’ at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! look unto Me!

When he had gone to about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes or so, he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay, with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger. Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart, he said, “Young man, you look very miserable.” Well, I did; but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow, struck right home. He continued, “and you always will be miserable—miserable in life, and miserable in death,—if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.” Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist could do, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin’ to do but to look and live.” I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said,—I did not take much notice of it,—I was so possessed with that one thought. Like as when the brazen serpent was lifted up, the people only looked and were healed, so it was with me. I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, “Look!” what a charming word it seemed to me! Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away. There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me this before, “Trust Christ, and you shall be saved.” – Taken from Charles H. Spurgeon: His Faith and Works, H.L. Wayland, 1892.

God used a snowstorm to keep a pastor from making it to a service so that another preacher would be there for Spurgeon to hear the exact words that He needed in order to be saved. “Look.”

John 3:14-15msg

“In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up—and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.”

Numbers 21:4-9msg

They set out from Mount Hor along the Red Sea Road, a detour around the land of Edom. The people became irritable and cross as they traveled. They spoke out against God and Moses: “Why did you drag us out of Egypt to die in this godforsaken country? No decent food; no water—we can’t stomach this stuff any longer.”

So God sent poisonous snakes among the people; they bit them and many in Israel died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke out against God and you. Pray to God; ask him to take these snakes from us.”

Moses prayed for the people.

God said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it on a flagpole: Whoever is bitten and looks at it will live.”

So Moses made a snake of fiery copper and put it on top of a flagpole. Anyone bitten by a snake who then looked at the copper snake lived.

Look my friends. LOOK upon Jesus. In Him, you will find everything. You will find salvation. You will find peace. You will find truth and light and life. Look upon Jesus and be saved!

Jesus’ Sponge

I don’t know the historical accuracy of this and the bible doesn’t specifically say, but if this is the truth of the Scriptures, then Jesus’ love for us is even more magnificent than I ever imagined. My friend Jeff Medders showed this to me. Thanks Jeff. The pastor sharing the message is Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church in Seattle.

Added the next day:

OK – My friend Hans knows a guy who lived and taught in Israel for 10 years. In response to this video, he said that there have been no public latrines found in Israel and also made the point that Jesus was crucified outside the city. If there were public restrooms, they were probably not anywhere near Golgotha. He also did some digging and found that Driscoll’s source was a tour guide. Driscoll says, “I believe he was a professor of archaeology.” This is dangerous ground for making such claims. I’m very disappointed in Mark Driscoll. He has always been pretty strong at checking his sources. PS – Hans’ friend said he’d post a response on his website/blog sometime later this morning.

OK – here’s my 3rd (and hopefully final) addition to this post. It seems now that Hans’ friend is saying that the burden of proof falls on him and that there isn’t really enough evidence to say that Driscoll’s story is false. There have been no public toilets discovered in Israel, however, that doesn’t mean they didn’t exist. It seems highly unlikely that they would have been near Golgotha, but the Roman soldiers who crucified many people there, may very well have had the same kind of toilets that they were accustomed to. He also describes an article called “The Puzzling Channels in Ancient Latrines” in the Sept/Oct 2002 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review in which Hershel Shanks suggests that the channels in latrines were used for the cleansing of sponges.  He quotes Seneca’s Moral Epistles which refers to a “stick of wood, tipped with a sponge which was devoted to the vilest uses.” I guess all this is to say, “Hey, maybe it’s possible after all.”

Carry Your Cross Cartoon

This is a fun little cartoon that I received as an e-mail. It’s taken a few years to figure it out, but I finally know who the author is:

Dong Haeng – http://www.donghaeng.net/english/main.htmV

Luke 9:23; Matthew 16:24; and Mark 8:34 all tell of Jesus’ call for us to deny ourselves, carry our crosses, and follow Him. It’s too bad we want our crosses to be “light.” Matt Redman wrote a song (Way of the Cross on the album The Friendship and the Fear) with a lyric that says, “I’ve crafted myself a more comfortable cross.” Anyway, this cartoon reminded me of all of this stuff.

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Can I be a Leader?

Henri_2
Henri Nouwen says that Christian leadership is "downward mobility ending on a cross." Whoa! I’m not so sure I’m really cut out for that. I’ve always felt that it’s the call of every Christian to be a leader in the sense that they should be the influencers rather than the influenced. I believe that with the Holy Spirit this is something we are all capable of, but Nouwen’s definition is so much more intense than just being an influencer.

Substitution

In hanging on the cross, Jesus was our substitute. He was without sin. We are not. It is sin that deserves the punishment of death (Romans 6:23). Jesus took on our sin and died in our place – substituting His own body in place of ours. This concept is  important because Jesus is the only man (of course He is God too) whose perfect, sinless life was sufficient to pay for the sins of the world. The good news is that He did it and that God’s righteous judgment is still intact because His just demands have been met.

This concept is clear throughout Scripture:
Isaiah 53 –  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

1 Peter 2:24 – He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

Matthew 20:28 – . . .the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

I Timothy 2:6a – who gave himself as a ransom for all men. . .

Galatians 3:13a – Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. . .

2 Corinthians 5:21 –  God made him who had no sin to be sin[1] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 Peter 3:18a – For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous. . .

How does this concept impact my life? In every way. I live because Christ died in my place. He took on my sin – it is no longer my burden. It has been paid for by Jesus’ own blood. He has conquered death and brought me into the family of God. In this life and beyond I will enjoy the favor of a Father who is God. It’s a classic statement, but appropriate here – Because He died for me, I choose to live for Him! I’ll never be able to substitute myself for Him, but He has called me to try – to work on becoming like Him and to then represent Him to the world. It’s an incredible privilege that I’m honored to be a part of.

(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg 323)

Indescribable

Here’s the info I spoke on last Sunday Night. I got it all from a DVD sermon by Louie Giglio – the founder of the Passion Worship movement.

1 milky way galaxy

Psalm 19:1-4 – New Living

“The heavens tell of the glory of God.
The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.

Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.

They speak without a sound or a word;
their voice is silent in the skies;[a]

yet their message has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to all the world.”

The stars are shouting God’s praises – day after day they’re telling us what they know! The stars are like a billboard telling us everyday about His glory and how great He is.

Big bang – there probably was a big bang when God created it all! Science and Christians are all seeking to find the truth in this mystery of creation.

God said “let there be light.” Of course – when God asks for something, that’s what He gets.

We don’t even know how big the universe is – the telescope isn’t big enough. God is laughing at us – He enjoys when we discover more, but He has so much more for us.

Habited planets? If the universe is just for us, then it’s way oversized. What if it’s primary purpose isn’t to give us a home, but to show off the glory of God? Then it’s probably the right size.

Light Speed is 186,000 miles/second – a beam of light could circle the earth 7 times every second.

Psalm 33:6 – “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.”

We live in the subdivision called the milky way universe. Consists of billions of stars. Scientists say there are hundreds of billions of other galaxies in the known universe.

Light year = 5.88 trillion miles/year

2 milky way galaxy

If we were to count just the stars in the milky way galaxy one/second, it would take 2,500 years.

Isaiah 40

25 “To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.

26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

We’ve got to right-size Him tonight. He is not our size. He doesn’t think like we think. He is working on a canvas bigger than anything we ever imagined. The heavens are telling us that, and they’re telling us that we are really really really really small.

3 – milky way galaxy

 

4 – milky way galaxy

The Milky way galaxy is a bard spiral galaxy which is 100,000 light years across. (remember a light year is 5.88 trillion miles)

5 – milky way galaxy with earth

Where’s earth? We’re not even in the center of our own subdivision – it’s not about you, it’s about God. You don’t wanna live in the center anyway – it’s scary there. It’s also scary in the bands surrounding the center – we live between them about 2/3 of the way out. Our solar system is too small to even put on this picture. Scientists say that our solar system is the size of a quarter and the milky way galaxy is the size of the North American Continent.

06 – earth

Earth – you don’t see any people, cities, countries. . .you don’t see the great need, the poverty, the strife, the pain, the glory, the glamour – as you step back you get this feeling that maybe we aren’t so big after all. We know the one who made this world must be huge. Maybe we aren’t as important as we thought. Maybe our plans aren’t so grand at all.

Neil Armstrong – first man who walked on the moon said, “I remember on the way home on Apollo 11, it suddenly struck me that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the earth. I put my thumb up and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out planet earth, but I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very very small.

Psalm 8

3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

Voyager was launched 1977 – to take pictures. In 1990, Voyager is 3.7 billion miles away from the earth traveling 40,000 miles an hour away from the sun. It takes 60 pictures, with 640,000 pixels in each image. It takes 5 and a half hours for each pixel to make it back to earth from 3.7 billion miles away. – talk about a dial-up problem.
07 – pale blue dot

Do you see earth in that one? It’s there. The “Pale Blue Dot” picture was taken – the suns rays reflected off voyager (4 billion miles away) to create the bands you see. Earth is the dot.

Famous astronomer called it a “mote of dust suspended on a sunbeam.” Our huge lives are all played out on a “mote of dust.” Not trying to make you feel small – I want you to see that you are small.

But it’s significant, insignificance ’cause as tiny as we are – we are prized my majesty. Who sent for us and knows us and loves us even though we are just tiny little specks in this vast universe that He made. Just as He can call the stars by name, He can start in this room and call each of us by name. And not only that – He could even tell you how many hairs are on your head and what you’re thinking right now and if you secretly desire to be sitting next to someone else right now. He knows us!!!!! And Is aware of us!!! And Loves us!! And Invites us into a relationship with Him that will never ever end!!! It’s amazing to think how big He is and that He still knows and cares for us.

Lets go on a journey now.

10 – sun

93 million miles out to the sun.

It burns you up. Raging ball of fire. Not the smiley face sun like we drew it as kids. 10,000 degrees on the surface. It’s like billions of nuclear explosions going off every second. It takes 8 seconds for light from it to go the 93 million miles from there to your skin. It came out of the mouth of God – He is not some kind of wimpy God. He is intense, powerful, ferocious, holy, and full of radiant splendor – He opens His mouth and stuff like this just come out. The sun is 100 times the diameter of earth.

11 – earth/sun comparison

That’s why you wanna thank God in your bed tonight that we are 93 million miles away from the sun.

12 – close up of sun

Close up of the sun from the Swedish solar institute – they’re doing studies of the sun – raging fire. Scientists say, it would take the gross national of the United States for 7 million years for our local power company to run the sun for one second – and it’s just one star out of billions in the milky way – which is only one galaxy of billions of known galaxies in the universe that God has made.

5.88 trillion miles is a light year – 440 light years out we find:

13 – plieades

The Pleiades constellation.

Job 38:31

“Can you hold back the movements of the stars? Are you able to restrain the Pleiades or Orion?

14 – vela pulsar

Vela Pulsar – 1000 light years away

what’s a pulsar? A star explodes into a supernova and can collapse back into itself into a magnetic intensity – it’s a highly magnetized neutron star – it’s center occilates 11 times a second – it sends out this intense signal:

A radio telescope captured this recording of the Vela Pulsar

The vela pulsar didn’t wanna miss out on the worship – it’s screaming “He’s Big!! He’s bigger than you think He is!! God is Awesome!!”

15 – hourglass nebula

8000 light years away – hourglass nebula – just beautiful – God is watching us.

16 – helix nebula

17 – star dust ring

28 million light years out (28 million X 5.88 trillion miles) – sombrero galaxy


18 & 19 – sombrero galaxy

Sombrero galaxy – not just a cool little frisbee thing – its 50 thousand light years wide – trillions of miles thick – why is it there? Just to glorify God – to give a small example of who He is. Showing off the greatness and majesty of God.

20 – hubble telescope

Hubble hangs out 353 miles above the earth.

21 – whirlpool galaxy

31 million light years away – grand design galaxy – hundreds of billions of stars – pink areas are star-forming incubators – every second a new star is born in our universe – God is naming them all and putting them where He wants

Let’s go far far far out! Indescribable how far out it is

22 – christ

He made everything we’ve seen tonight – and yet He chose to be hung on a tree that He himself created. The maker of the entire universe came to that pale blue dot –

Philippians 2:5b-11

Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Psalm 103:8-12

8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.

9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

23 – x structure at core of whirlpool galaxy

The world – the universe is all about God. Not us, but God. And He has decided to ask you and I to be a part of His big big story. It doesn’t matter how big your situation seems, God is bigger and He loves you! Nothing can shake you out of God’s hand as He holds you.

Love so amazing so divine, demands our my soul my life my all.

Comfort

06-08-22 01I’ve been thinking alot about “comfort” lately. I’m not real sure why, but here are some of my thoughts:

Matt Redman wrote a song quite a few years ago with one line that really stuck out to me – “I’ve crafted myself a more comfortable cross.” When I first heard the song I thought about this guy I had seen when I was in college. He was one of those crazy preachers who traveled around yelling at people. He was yelling at all of us students between classes and asking if we were “saved.” etc. I think he meant well, but he wasn’t getting very far with most of the students. Anyway, he was carrying a cross and said he was traveling across the United States with his message. But here’s the interesting part: the cross he was carrying had wheels on it. Did Jesus’ cross have wheels? Were they there to help make the journey? I mean, you can’t really put wheels on your cross if you’re trying to be like Jesus – can you? Anyway, it was just like Matt Redman sung – a “more comfortable cross.”

06-08-22 02I worked with a speaker named Jeremy Kingsley a few years ago. He had a strange practice I remembered as I’ve been thinking about comfort too. When the youth that I work with would go on trips, they’d always yell “shotgun!” to get the front seat. You know the game. Right?? Jeremy would yell before they even thought of it “I get back seat!!” Strange, huh?? But cool!! Jeremy is that kind of guy. He’s great at taking the normal things we do and making you think about them differently. Anyway, as he worked towards “discomfort,” he served the Lord and our youth.

I wonder how I have made my cross more comfortable? It’s true – I’m comfortable in the ways that I serve. We Christians are uncomfortable whenever we get out of of normal routines. We have our own Christian subculture that we’ve created so we can be comfortable all the time. I mean we have Christian music, Christian toys, Christian clothes, even Christian candy. I guess it’s important not to eat any of that secular candy. (By the way – Christian is a label that can only be used on people)

Anyway, where would Jesus be in all this? I’m pretty sure He got accused of hanging out with the sinners and the prostitutes. He even had fun and turned water to wine at a wedding. Why am I uncomfortable in these party situations? If Jesus was comfortable there, why am I on my guard when someone starts drinking around me or says a cuss word?

What if the cross I carried wasn’t supposed to be comfortable? What if I worked at being uncomfortable? What if I tried to hang out with people who make me uncomfortable? When it comes to money and what I give to the church, if I was uncomfortable, I’d probably be giving more to the Lord. If I wasn’t so concerned about my own comfort all the time, I bet I’d be a better husband and I’d do more things for my beautiful bride. If I worked to be uncomfortable, I’d probably do a lot more physical labor and help out my friends with things they needed done. If I worked to be uncomfortable, with the way I eat, I’d probably lose weight. If I was uncomfortable with the sin in my life, maybe I’d repent and be more spiritually healthy. If I was uncomfortable in the ways I serve the Lord, maybe I’d find myself serving in places I never 06-08-22 03imagined. (By the way, watch the movie “The Second Chance” someday.) Maybe I’d live in another town or country. Maybe I’d have a different job. Maybe I’d buy more things to give away and fewer things for myself. How much does my own “comfort” really drive my life? Probably more than I’d like to admit.

Anyway, you get the point. “Comfort” might just be right where Satan wants us. It’s when we’re uncomfortable, that we learn to lean on and trust in the Lord.

Prayer: Lord, I hesitate to even pray this prayer, ’cause I know it’s gonna mean changes for me, but I wanna be the man You’ve called me to be. So help me to step into uncomfortable situations more often. Help me to give myself away more often and teach me to seek comfort for others over comfort for myself. Lord, I don’t want to be comfortable in this world (well, admittedly, part of me does) because it’s not my home. I’m an alien here. As Andrew Peterson sings, my home is the “Far Country.”

Here’s a link to another blog I wrote about a book that addresses some of these same topics. http://uturn.typepad.com/steve/2006/09/under_the_overp