Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Events of Holy Week Part 4--Holy, but Dark, Wednesday

We come now to a day of Holy Week for which we have little information. We do read in Mark 14:1 that the Passover was only "two days away." The Jewish calendar always looked at days inclusively and treated even a part of a day as a whole Passover was on Thursday, but since the meal was eaten in the evening, both Wednesday AND Thursday were treated as whole days so that Passover was, in fact, according to how they looked at time, 2 days away, not just "the next day" as we would normally say.

This makes more sense, then, of how the Bible could say that Jesus was in the tomb 3 days...because Friday night was counted as a whole day, Saturday of course was, and Sunday from mid-night on until He rose was also counted as a whole day.

Anyway, this Holy Wednesday is also called "Dark Wednesday" or "Spy Wednesday" because it is on this day that Judas decides to betray Jesus. In Mark 14:10-11 Judas agrees to look for an opportunity to betray Jesus (see also Luke 22:2-5)...he is "spying out" the right time. It is a Dark Day, both in Judas' life and for Jesus as well.

As you think of Judas as a disciple and betrayer, be aware of one thing...none of the disciples suspected for a moment that Judas could be the betrayer. Even around the Table at Passover when Jesus says clearly that one of the disciples will betray Him, they all wondered who it might be...there was NOTHING about the outward life of Judas that revealed he would be the one...and THAT is scary.

There are many in the church who CALL themselves Christians, and who OUTWARDLY seem to live the Christian life, who end up being exposed as frauds...may we pray for each other that we would be, by God's grace, the "real deal." But let Judas' life also be a warning to all of us...Jesus says it is the one who perseveres to the end who will be saved. The Christian life can't be lived on past laurels or experiences. Daily Continuance is evidence of a grace-filled heart. There is a need for us to guard our hearts and to examine ourselves regularly to see whether or not we are in the faith.

I don't say this to upset your faith...but to get us all to realize how desperately we need grace on a daily basis. We need community to keep us on the straight and narrow, both in belief and behavior.

One possible cause of Judas "snapping" could be what we read of in Mark 14:3-9 (Matt 26:6-13). A woman who had lived a sinful life (a euphemism for prostitute) anointed Jesus' head with very expensive a matter of fact it was worth an entire year's wages!

On Monday we learned that Jesus drove out the money changers and merchants in the Temple courts because they were gouging the poor...from a rational perspective it DOES seem a bit inconsistent that Jesus would care about the poor and yet a year's worth wage of perfume be dumped on his head...on the surface, the disciples had a could have been sold and the money given to the poor.

As inexplicable as it seems, sometimes God wants us to be extravagant toward the Kingdom...sometimes money should be spent in a way that honors Christ in a way different than through taking care of the poor. Judas apparently couldn't handle the tension and it seemed to be the straw that broke the camel's back...he lost faith in Jesus as the One who could deliver them from Roman he agrees to betray Him.

On another level, how might you have opportunity to show extravagance toward Christ and toward the Kingdom of God that would be an unusual use of finances? It's something to consider during this Holy Week.

As far as our U2 connection today...the choice is obvious...they song "Until the End of the World" is all about Judas' betrayal. Even though it doesn't occur until tomorrow, since it was planned today, I'm including in this, there are other songs that fit with the events of Passover Thursday.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Events of Holy Week Part 3--Holy Tuesday

We're trying to follow, as best we are able to guess, how the events of Holy Week occurred. We're pretty sure from the Gospel of Mark that we have some confidence of the chronology we've followed so far. In Mark 11:1-11 we read of Palm Sunday. Then in Mark 11:12, we're told about "the next day" which would be Holy Monday when He cursed the fig tree and then drove out the money changers and merchants who were gouging the poor by overcharging for Passover sacrificial animals (see the past few days blogs for all this).

It is now Holy Tuesday because we are told in Mark 11:20 that Jesus and the disciples went along "in the morning," after they had left the city the previous night following Christ cleansing the Temple.

So on Holy Tuesday, we discover these events:

First, Jesus wasn't afraid of a fight. In Mark 11:27-33 the chief priests and elders (the conservative RELIGIOUS folk!) came to Jesus and challenged His authority to teach and to do what He was teaching and doing. Jesus could see past their trap and asked THEM about the authority of John the Baptist...He caught them in a no-win situation, and they left Him alone. Then in Mark 12:18-27, other religious leaders, this time the liberals, try to trap Him. The liberals didn't believe in a resurrection, but tried to trap Jesus in a question dealing with a woman who had married seven brothers because each one had died after marrying her, one after another. Jesus ends up rebuking the liberals who refuse to believe what the Bible teaches.

The application for us is obvious: we must avoid both extremes of dead conservativism and worthless liberalism. We must seek grace to avoid becoming either legalistic, self-righteous, self-reliant Pharisees on the one hand, or cheap grace, subjective, relativistic, truth-denying liberal Sadducees on the other hand...and, like Jesus, we ought to be willing to graciously pick of fight with any of them!

Second, Jesus took the opportunity on this final Tuesday of His earthly life to teach the people. He teaches again about His impending death and teaches boldly that He is the Stone that the builders reject and becomes the Cornerstone of God's Redemptive, Restorative plan for the cosmos.

He also teaches on the role of Christians in, as Augustine wrote, the City of God and the City of Man...we're to give to the civil government the honor they require and we are to give to God the honor He requires.

Then Jesus teaches, this just a few days before His death, His greatest love the Lord our God with ALL our heart, soul, mind and strength...and He gives the second great commandment love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:28-34). May God give us His grace to love well!

We read that the widow's offering, two small coins that were all she had, occurred on this Holy Tuesday...are we sacrificial in our giving to the Kingdom of God?

Finally, Jesus teaches a lot on this Holy Tuesday about His Return and the End of the World. He talks about the separation of all humanity into the sheep and the goats; the former going to inhabit the New Earth and the latter suffering eternity apart from the Presence of God (Matt 25:31-46).

Now, we know that one is only rescued from hell and made a citizen of the New Earth by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ alone...but we also know that conversion is the supernatural work of the Spirit...a work that creates a new heart, a new nature...and therefore, a new lifestyle. Jesus makes it clear that those with new hearts, those who are sheep, who are destined to be inhabitants in the New Jerusalem, will take care of the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the rejected and the we doing there, Church?

Lastly, on Tuesday evening, most likely, Jesus teaches about the destruction of Jerusalem that would occur in 70AD. We know from Matthew 26:1-2 that Passover is still "two days away" so it's still Holy Tuesday. We read in Luke 21:5-36 that Jesus teaches on the signs of the End of the Age...wars, revolutions, EARTHQUAKES, famines, diseases and other fearful events.

This isn't fiction...this is history....and it is also prophecy. We were made for another world...a world that is quickly approaching. We are to live as those already citizens of the New Earth and we are to bring the restoring power of that New Earth to bear in all our activities, responsibilities and relationships every day. May we practice New World living on this Holy Tuesday.

Now, as far as the U2 connection for today's events on Holy Tuesday...since Jesus spoke so much on this day of the World to Come, it's only appropriate that we use what is perhaps U2's greatest song, the song of heaven, of the New Jerusalem, Where the Streets Have No Name.

Notice Bono on his knees in prayer quoting Psalm 116:12-14 from The Message translation of the Bible: "What can I give back to God for the blessings He's poured out on me? What can I give back to God for the blessings He's poured out on me? I'll lift high the cup of salvation as a toast to our follow through on a promise I made to You...from the heart."

Think about this place where there is "no sorrow and no shame..."

Monday, March 29, 2010

Events of Holy Week Part 2--Holy Monday

We read in Luke 19:45-46 that Jesus sees merchants at the Temple selling animals for sacrifices for Passover. Jesus, even as He is facing His coming suffering is still concerned primarily with the unjust suffering and oppression of others. We must realize that Jews came from all over the world to Jerusalem for Passover and they were commanded to offer sacrifices. Since many traveled many, many miles, there we thousands who couldn't bring sacrificial animals with them.

Since they had to offer sacrifices, yet had none, many, especially the poor, were at the mercy of oppressive merchants who could charge outrageous amounts of money for sacrificial animals. Few things upset Jesus more than injustice...and His righteous anger against such oppression was kindled. Imagine the scene...Jesus, the meek One, turning over tables, throwing boxes of money. In Mark 11:15-17 we're told he threw the chairs of those selling pigeons...pigeons were the Passover sacrifices of the most impoverished...those who couldn't afford anything "nicer" like a lamb.

Christ came to not merely pay for our sins and bring us eternal life...Christ came to bring freedom to the oppressed...and He came to set us free from our own self-absorption so we too would fight against injustice. During this Holy Week, perhaps even on this Holy Monday...what tables and chairs can you "throw around" and "overturn" on behalf of the oppressed?

The other event that occurred on this Holy Monday is Jesus' cursing of the fig tree that didn't provide the fruit He desired (Matt 21:18-22). He uses it to teach the disciples on the power of prayer.

Do we believe the promises Christ gives us concerning prayer? Do we believe that if we ask in His Name and do not doubt we shall receive what we've asked of Him? And what DO we ask for? What is the CONTENT of our praying? Is it focused on self and all our little dreams for ourselves? Or, do we pray BIG prayers...KINGDOM prayers...that the rule and reign of Jesus and the restoration of the cosmos that He promises would come in power?

U2 has written a song called "Crumbs from Your Table." Its a song about how the poor and oppressed of the world are just looking for some crumbs from the tables of Christ-followers to help them overcome oppression and disease and poverty in their worlds. Christians talk about revival in terms of "signs and wonders" and "miracles" when the greatest sign of Christ is often revealed in the Church taking care of orphans, widows and other disenfranchised people. It fits will with Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers in the Temple...and it certainly gives us something to pray for on this Holy Monday.

Here are the lyrics:
From the brightest star
Comes the blackest hole
You had so much to offer
Why did you offer your soul?
I was there for you baby
When you needed my help
Would you deny for others
What you demand for yourself?

Cool down mama, cool off
Cool down mama, cool off

You speak of signs and wonders
I need something other
I would believe if I was able
But I'm waiting on the crumbs from your table

You were pretty as a picture
It was all there to see
Then your face caught up with your psychology
With a mouth full of teeth
You ate all your friends
And you broke every heart thinking every heart mends

You speak of signs and wonders
But I need something other
I would believe if I was able
But I'm waiting on the crumbs from your table

Where you live should not decide
Whether you live or whether you die
Three to a bed
Sister Ann, she said
Dignity passes by

And you speak of signs and wonders
But I need something other
I would believe if I was able
I'm waiting on the crumbs from your table

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Events of Holy Week Part 1--Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is one of the better known elements of Holy involved the "Triumphal Entry" of Christ into Jerusalem. The Jewish people were looking for a Deliverer to free them from the oppressive rule and bondage of Rome. They were looking for the One who would lead them to the Golden Age of Prosperity, Safety and Security...what Jesus brought as King was even more than they could have ever imagined!

Our cruelest oppressors are not people who threaten us with injustice or somehow seem to keep us from prosperity....our cruelest oppressor is the condemnation of the Law of God and sin that enslaves us to our worst nightmares. Christ entered Jerusalem as the King Who would conquer sin, satan and death. Jesus is the King of Kings who brings us the spiritual freedom we all long for, but most of the time, don't even realize we're longing for.

And this Palm Sunday, think about this: Jesus didn't merely come to conquer our enemies of sin and satan and death...He came to conquer our own hearts as well! Is every area of your heart surrendered to Him today? Is He YOUR King and are you following Him as YOUR Lord and Master? Is there any area of your life that you are keeping from the King today? Offer it to Him as a gift this Palm Sunday. Let revival come to you today by His grace!

Read The Triumphal Entry in Luke 19:28-40--Are YOU shouting out His praise for all He has done in freeing you from condemnation and shame? Are you singing His glory for the freedom from the rule and reign of sin He has promised those who hope in Him?

Bono and U2 had an album in 1981 that Rolling Stone actually called a "Christian album." It's called October. On the album is a song called "Gloria." It uses the latin phrase "Gloria, in te Domine; Gloria...exultate; Gloria...Gloria" which translates, according to Wikipedia: "Glory in you, Lord / Glory, exalt [him]" with "exalt" in the imperative mood, a reference to Psalm 30:2 (in te Domine, speravi). The song also contains references to Colossians 2:9-10 ("Only in You I'm complete")"...similar to what the people lining the streets into Jerusalem sang and shouted as Jesus, the King, entered the the words and watch the 1981 video...

I try to sing this song
I...I try to stand up
But I can't find my feet
I try, I try to speak up
But only in You I'm complete te Domine
Oh Lord, loosen my lips

I try to sing this song
I...I try to get in
But I can't find the door
The door is open
You're standing there
You let me in te domine
Oh Lord, if I had anything
Anything at all
I'd give it to You
I'd give it to You


Another element of this day is Jesus weeping over Jerusalem...Luke 19:41--as you approach Holy Week...ask God for the gift of tears...ask God to put people on your heart who don't have the passion of singing and shouting praise to King Jesus. Ask God to break your heart over the plight of people who live without the life of Christ flowing into their souls.

Finally, remember this: this same crowd that on Palm Sunday shouted praise to King Jesus, several days later changed their cries to "Crucify Him!" We are such a fickle people...filled with faith one minute, doubt and unbelief the next...may God grant us grace to persevere and to fight the good fight of faith!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chronology of Holy Week with a U2 Twist

I began to wonder, with all the spirituality of Bono and U2's lyrics, could I find a way to mesh some of their more "blatent" Christ-centered songs with the days of Holy Week.

Today is Saturday...the last Sabbath Jesus was alive before His crucifixion...a day of worship...what was going through His mind as He read and heard Scripture all pointing to Him...all pointing to the events of this week?

Though the song "Magnificent" is Bono's autobiography and his call to sing to the fits with the song of Christ's life as well.

A Likely Chronology of Holy Week

I had some time because of the Palm Sunday Worship Program tomorrow to think about Holy Week. I have been amazed that there is so little out there on any kind of chronology of the days. So, here's my attempt...may it lead you devotionally this week to love Christ more and overflow with gratitude for the love and grace of God...

Sabbath before Palm Sunday
John 12:1-8—worship, teaching, fellowship meal, Mary anoints Jesus

Palm Sunday
Luke 19:28-40--The Triumphal Entry
Luke 19:41-44—Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

Monday (b/c of Matt 21:18-19 and Mark 11:12)
Matt 21:18-19—Jesus curses the fig tree
Luke 19:45-46—Jesus cleanses the Temple; anger at injustice
Mark 11:19—evening they went out of the city

Mark 11:20-26—in the morning—teaches on faith and prayer
Luke 19:47-48—Jesus teaches in the Temple and chief priests plot
(Mt 21:23-22:46)
Luke 20:1-8—chief priests question His authority; John the Baptist
Mt 26:1-2--Olivet Discourse—Late Tuesday Evening

Luke 22:3-5 (called “Dark Wednesday” or “Spy Wednesday”)

Luke 22:7-38—Last Supper (lamb slaughtered around noon, then prep)
Luke 22:39-46—Prayer in Garden of Gethsemene
Luke 22:47-53—Judas’ Betrayal

Luke 22:54-62—Peter’s Denial
Luke 22:63-65—Jesus mocked
Luke 22:66-71—at daybreak, Jesus’ “trial”
Luke 23:1-5—Jesus before Pilate
Mt 27:3-10—Judas hangs himself
Luke 23:6-12—Jesus before Herod
Luke 23:13-25—Jesus scourged and sent to crucifixion (Mt 27:26)
Luke 23:26-32—the walk to Golgotha
Mark 15:25—it was the third hour when they crucified Him
Third hour=9am
Luke 23:44-48—from the 6th hour until 9th hour—darkness
Noon until 3pm
Seven Words of Christ on the Cross
Father, forgive them . . . (Luke 23:34)

This day you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43)

Woman, behold your son . . .(John 19:26-27)

My God, my God . . . (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34)

I thirst. (John 19:28)

It is finished! (John 19:30)

Father into your hands . . . (Luke 23:46)
Luke 23:46—Jesus breathed His last
John 19:30—It is Finished
Mark 15:42—when evening had come, body taken
Luke 23:50-56—Joseph of Arimathea—tomb

Luke 23:56—on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment
Matt 27:62-66—A Roman guard set up to protect the tomb

Luke 24:1-12—on the first day of the week, at early dawn
Jn 20:3-8—this happened in the early morning
Mary goes to tomb, stone rolled away, she runs and tells Ptr/Jn
Confusion; believed, but w/o complete understanding
Jn 20:10—peter/john then went back to their homes—stunned
What’s it all mean? But apparently separate for day
Jn 20:11—Mary stays, angels appear to Mary but not Jesus yet
Jn 20:14—now Jesus appears, but again, she doesn’t recognize Him
Doubts can only ultimately dealt w/ by supernatural grace
God can and does use secondary means, but not intell probl ult
Jn 20:18—Mary went and announced…still early morning—Lk 24:9
Only not told in Lk24 that Jesus appeared to Mary after angels
Matt 28:8-9—get more of the same picture here
Mark 16:8—before Jesus appr’d to Mary, only filled w/ fear
No boldness in witness; silence—said nothing to anyone
Lk 24:11-12—it wasn’t just Thomas…ALL the disciples thot idle tale
The women were told by the angels, no one seen Jesus yet
and it STILL isn’t JUST Thomas who doubts
here again we read Peter ran to see, went home marveling
Lk 24:13-24—told story a/b morning, but Him they did not see vv23-24
EVERYONE is foolish and slow to believe—all wrestle w/ doubt
Doubt is not talked a/b enuf in the Church…
It’s talked a/b PLENTY in the Scriptures
Even John the Baptist had his doubts
Lk 24:29—Jesus explains Scripture, getting toward evening
Breaks bread, their eyes are opened—mystery of sacrament!
v31—their eyes were opened—takes supernatural power
Lk 24:33—went to find disciples…who are NOW gathered together
As day wore on, realized wild things are happening
Lk 24:34—at some point, while Peter marveling, Jesus appears to him
1 Cor 15—He appeared to Peter
Luke 24:38—Jesus appears, yet doubts arise in their hearts
Luke 24:41—they disbelieved for joy and were marveling
Luke 24:39-43—Xp goes to great lengths to diffuse their doubts
Disbelieved for joy?? Too good to be true?
Lk 24:45—He opened their minds, just as He HAD to do on Emmaus
Lk 24:47—b/c of what we know, must proclaim, manifest Xp thru gospl
Doubt leads to weak witnss; convictn leads to boldness in missn
BUT we need pwr from on high…filling of Holy Spirit
John 20:19—at evening Jesus appeared and showed them His hands and side
He didn’t really give them time to doubt…He addressed them
Thomas only asked for him to experience what the others given by grace

Imagine the gladness, the wonder, the joy...the whom much is given, much is required

Friday, March 12, 2010

What time is Worship?

God clearly calls His people to worship Him...and clearly He calls every follower of Christ to unite with a local congregation and to be regularly in attendance...Church Attendance is a means of's the place where Christ is uniquely Present (1 Corinthians 5:4); it is the place we are told to never avoid but to seek out constantly (Hebrews 10:25)...the Church is where we receive the means of grace of prayer, the anointed teaching of the Scriptures, prayer and the sacraments.

Having said all that, we can ALSO worship anytime, anywhere...not as a SUBSTITUTE for sabbath celebration, but in ADDITION to!

I've joked with people many times that one of the places I have worshiped almost as well as in church has been at U2 wouldn't believe the looks I get!

But Bono himself has been known to say in the midst of a concert, not arrogantly, but humbly, sensitively, "God is in the house!"

Join the concert...see if you can worship along...and seek to worship God today...wherever you are!

Friday, March 5, 2010

I, (State your name), am a recovering orphan, Part IV

The final in my four-part series. If you missed yesterday's post, check it here

If you think about…all of our sin, failure and foolishness can ultimately be traced to "giving in" to an orphan mentality…the thought that we’re all alone in the world and there is no One Above Who loves us, cares for us and Who has a plan for our lives to be part of a Family and to live in a Home in a place of safety and strength.

I find it so amazing, interesting, even intriguing, that Jesus, near the time of going to the cross…near the time when the disciples would enter a season of great confusion, actually said to them, “I will NOT leave you…as ORPHANS” (John 14:18). Hmmmm.

It’s like…He knew.

He does.

We have this Deep Desire to hear the same words Jesus heard at His baptism: “You are My Beloved Son (or Daughter); with you I am well-pleased!” You are loved. You have a home. You are safe. You need not fear. You can be yourself. You don’t need to run. You no longer need to hide.

Come…join the family. Take your seat at the table.

Romans 8:15—You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons (and daughthers), by Whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Orphans tend to be self-consumed; they’ve rarely felt the love, affection, care, acceptance, or the sense of family they long for. Orphans who are adopted, however, eventually begin to be freed from self-absorption, through the process of love and care and a sense of belonging.

We’ll never love others unconditionally, we’ll never enter the risk of love, we’ll never be willing to give up our “rights” or be willing to truly sacrifice for others until we’re secure…and we’ll never truly be secure until we begin to plumb the depths of the reality of our adoption in Christ.

Part of our calling as image-bearers of the God Who created us is to seek to provide the safe place in our relationships where people have a home. Part of our calling as Christ-followers is to work to make our churches the New Garden, a place of safety and strength…a place others will feel at home…like Annie visiting “Daddy Warbuck’s” place at Christmas. We are to begin working now to re-make this world into the New Jerusalem...

Part of our calling as humans is to be the echo of the Voice of God to one another that says through the finished work of Christ…

“I will not leave you as orphans.”

Good news indeed.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I, (State your name), am a recovering orphan, Part III

Be sure to check yesterday's post for Part II

I’m reminded of one of my favorite movies…The Martian Child. I’ll never forget the scene when Dennis (the orphan John Cusack’s character, David, is seeking to adopt), accidentally breaks something on Cusack’s desk. Dennis gets REALLY upset and asks “David” if he is going to send him back…”because he was bad.”

Hmmmm, sounds similar to my friend’s story (the story from yesterday's's a Blog Mini-series...sorry!)

Actually, sounds similar to a LOT of my friends’ stories…not my “friends that have adopted children” stories…but my FRIENDS’ stories…

Actually, sounds similar to MY story…

One of the tragedies of the Fall of humanity into sin is that we adopted (ironic word I know) an orphan mentality. What’s an orphan mentality? Let me try to explain by referencing yet another movie…

In the movie “Millions” a young boy, Damien, finds lots of cash hidden by thieves. Somehow they discover Damien has the money and they ransack his house. When he and his dad come home one night Damien tells his dad about the money…which the thieves never found. Damien’s dad is planning on keeping the money, especially since his house has been ransacked. Damien tells his dad it’s wrong…Damien’s dad disagrees that it is wrong to keep the money, then delivers a key line as to why he thinks this way:

Damien’s dad says, “There’s no one looking out for us, Damien, so we’re going to look out for ourselves.”

Wow…now THAT is an orphan mentality.

And THAT is often my mentality.

I have a Father in heaven who loves me, cares for me and promises me all I need…but when I refuse to believe that…I act and live as an orphan.

And it affects EVERYTHING.

How I feel. How I react to circumstances. How I respond to others…EVERYTHING.

Some of us get easily defensive…it is our orphan mentality fearing exposure, rejection.

Some of us are very demanding…it is our orphan mentality fearing scarcity…there’s not enough to go around, there’s no one looking out for me, so I need to look out for myself…after all, it’s a dog-eat-dog world.

Some of us are filled with coping mechanisms of self-protection…it is our orphan mentality telling us, “leave them before they leave you…don’t allow yourself to get into a situation where you might experience loss.”

Some of us are afraid to risk…it is our orphan mentality leading us to fear losing the love and respect of our “family.”

Some of us are performers…it is our orphan mentality telling us the only reason we’re accepted and have a “family” is because we are coming through for others…if we fail, we’ll be rejected and alone. Show no weakness, or else…

Some of us are control freaks…it is our orphan mentality telling us that there is no one we can trust but ourselves.

Some of us are approval-addicts or people-pleasers…we are virtual chameleons, adapting to our environment, becoming whatever and whomever we sense the people around us want us to be…it is our orphan mentality telling us that if we want to belong, we can’t be ourselves, we can’t be real, we can’t be transparent.

Again...this "orphan mentality" is clearly a result of our brokenness, fallenness...and it's such an issue that God addresses it continually in the New Testament through all the Biblical teaching on "adoption." Do a word study, word'll be amazed...but just for today...Read Ephesians 1 and Romans 8.

...One more thing...try to live as a beloved son/daughter IN Christ today.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I, (State your name), am a recovering orphan, Part II

Yesterday I began a short blog-series on being a recovering orphan. Make sure to click here and read part I, or search in the label list to the right for "recovering orphan."

Because of the brokenness of life, unfortunately, just like with Annie, the “memory” of Miss Hannigan is never far away.

Amazingly, however, we have a “Daddy Warbucks.” In Christ, we have a Father in Heaven who pursues us and has fought the Enemy on our behalf and has adopted us by grace through faith into His own family.

Even still, there is this haunting, “old voice” of Miss Hannigan ringing in our ears.

I have a close friend who, along with his wife and other children, made a family decision to adopt a young girl from China. It’s been a beautiful thing to see. A couple weeks ago the family decided to take their “new” daughter to a Chinese parade celebrating the Chinese New Year. The thought was it might make her feel good to see some “familiar” faces after being brought into a brand new world of Caucasians…somehow, it didn’t work as planned…Their little girl became unexpectedly agitated after what had been a season of absolute peace and calm since entering our country and living in my friend’s home.

The only explanation that makes any sense is she panicked, thinking that perhaps she was going to be “rejected” or “given back” to the place she had lived for all her life, a place where she had no father or mother or brothers or sisters…I mean look at it from her perspective…seeing people that looked like her just reminded her of her “old life” as an orphan. What was she thinking? Did I do something wrong? Am I not really loved by these people? Will I ever be truly accepted?

We run into circumstances like that as well…even as adults, we face situations that seem to bring the fears of being all alone, rejected and uncared for to the front of our minds. We will battle slipping back into an orphan mentality all our days...and that's why God tells us often in the New Testament about our adoption in Christ.

A List of Some Favorite Reads

People ask me all the time about some of my favorite books...usually meaning, books that helped me understand, process and internalize the Doctrines of Grace. SOME of them are....(not listed in any particular order)

1. The Institutes of the Christian Religion (ed by McNeill) by John Calvin

2. True Spirituality by Francis Schaeffer

3. Renewal as a Way of Life by Richard Lovelace

4. The Enemy Within by Kris Lungaard

5. Engaging God's World by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

6. The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification by Walter Marshall.

7. The God Who is There by Francis Schaeffer

8. The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink

9. Sin and Temptation by John Owen

10. Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

11. The Marrow of Modern Divinity by Edward Fisher (notes by Thomas Boston)

12. The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen

13. The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

14. Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp

15. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

16. The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges

17. Knowing God by J.I. Packer

18. Holiness by Grace by Bryan Chapell

19. The Key to Holiness by Charles Spurgeon

20. Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

(Of course, one way to cheat would be to read my Doctoral Dissertation: Gospel-Centered Mentoring, 2001 Covenant Theological Seminary, where I have an entire section summarizing and analyzing most of these works!)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I, (State your name), am a recovering orphan, part I

Our school is putting on the play, “Annie,” later this month. You know the story…in the midst of the Great Depression an young orphaned girl with personality and determination is forced to live in an orphanage run by a mean, overbearing, drunk; a woman named Miss Hannigan. But Annie’s seemingly hopeless situation all changes when she’s invited to spend some time during Christmas at the home of a very wealthy businessman…Oliver Warbucks.
Eventually Warbuck’s heart is warmed by this little girl and he offers a reward to find her parents…which opens up a whole can of worms as people pretend to be Annie’s parents to get the money (We ultimately learn that Annie’s parents have died). As I’m sure you know, there’s a beautifully redemptive ending to the story as “Daddy” Warbucks adopts Annie himself.
This may come as a surprise…or not…
Annie’s story is EVERYONE’S story…in one way or another.
In Genesis 3, through the moral and spiritual failure of our common ancestors, we all inherited the spirit of “runaways.” When Adam and Eve sinned, they ran away from God and hid…they became “street children”…in a word, they, and we, became orphans.
…and this orphan mentality is hard-wired into our Operating System…we’re all looking for love and acceptance; we all have a deep desire for a home, a place to belong, a safe place where we no longer fear rejection. Whether we’re willing to admit it or not, we want to get back into the Garden where we can be honest, naked (real, transparent, authentic), unashamed and safe.