Thursday, April 10, 2008

I Quit!

Since we recently came out of the Easter season, your church probably spent a lot of time talking about the crucifixion/resurrection story. And I hope you had a chance to really meditate on some of the lesser known stories that have been told in the Gospels. Few ministers preach about Peter’s denying of Jesus three times. I guess we don’t really want to rag on Peter because we wonder what we would have done if we were put into the same sandals. I have never heard anyone preach about how John outran Peter to the tomb of Jesus. I used to wonder why that was mentioned in John’s gospel. But the more I thought about John and his indescribable love for Jesus, it makes perfect sense. How about Pilate's wife or the soldiers who were guarding the tomb? Ever wonder about Barabbas, the rest of the story? I do.

But there is a guy who I can guarantee you would have quit his job the minute his encounter with Jesus ended. His name was Malchus, and he was the servant of the high priest. You know the story.

”Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” John 18:10-11 (New King James Version)

So here is the scoop. A band of armed Jewish temple guards come to arrest Jesus. Malchus is tagging along because his boss, the high priest is the head man in charge of this altercation. Peter doesn’t charge the priests soldiers. He doesn’t even charge the high priest himself. Who does he attack? Poor Malchus, who is just there because his boss called a midnight field trip. And after feeling the blow, he probably saw his ear sitting on the ground in a bloody mass.

Then imagine the hardened criminal and rebel rouser Jesus, whom you have come to arrest, reach down and put your ear back on. Can you imagine how much love must have been bursting through his eyes? Can you see what it might have felt like? Can you imagine how that encounter would have changed you forever?

The guards, even after seeing that miracle close up; continue in their arrest of Jesus. I wonder if any of them simply dropped their weapon and said “Forget this, I’m outta here!”

Could Malchus have ever gone back to work for the priests after seeing the meeting where grace and mercy encountered religious tradition? And in his life, grace won.

Have you had a close and personal encounter with Jesus? Has He touched your face? Has He shown you the kind of mercy that has changed your life forever? And if so, have you simply walked back to work for the world?

If you are the servant of the current religious machine, I challenge you to quit your job, drop your nets and follow the One who reattaches ears and reassembles broken lives.

Friday, April 04, 2008

My Daughter Made Me Cry

I apologize for not posting here for a while. But I want you to know a little bit about my daughter Chelsea. She might be the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. And I believe a parent can have no greater joy than seeing their children come to know the Lord, and then actually "walk the walk".

"Don't you see that children are God's best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior's fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don't stand a chance against you; you'll sweep them right off your doorstep." Psalm 127:4-5 (The Message)

So that being said, I was on my daughter's page on facebook today because she and I have a hot and heavy game of scrabulous working. And I came across the following post. My initial reaction was to be mad because I didn't help her and was totally unaware of her condition at that time. But I started seeing the situation beyond my own self-indulgant fragile male ego and started seeing the beauty of suffering and why God allows us to go through painful things. The end result is astonishing, and without faith it is impossible to please Him. Here is that post in it's entirety:

God wasn't lying in Acts 14:17

"So, as some of you know, I have been going through an incredibly rough time financially lately...and to be honest last week, I was really upset with God because I didn't understand why I was trying my hardest to be faithful to Him and my life was just so torn up and I was left with no sense of peace or hope. I did not understand what God was trying to do in my life, and I was so beat down that I had absolutely nothing left to give.

So, last Wednesday I cried out to Him for about the thousandth time and begged him for some money or some peace or something. I realized that I would need to make about $600 by the end of the month to just pay my back bills so that I would still have electricity and phone next month (that did not even include current bills or bills for April or credit card bills that have been accruing interest from school and a few unwise spending choices in my past). Now $600 seems a little impossible.. but I just continued to have faith that if God wanted to, he would bring it.

So, the next day I swallowed my fear and pride and went up to Hannah's to pick up my w-2 (which ended up being great because I was scared to go in but I had a long talk with some of the old managers, and it was really great). So, point being, I did my taxes that night, and my refund was $963, which is crazy since it was only $200 last year! Which was really awesome... but that could have been business days and that doesn't get me money in time... so I was a little worried still....but there was still my first weekend to work.

So, Friday night, my first night, I work my butt off and walk away with only $9. So, I was upset, and I didn't know what to do, and I was just emotionally exhausted literally... I just cried myself to sleep and begged God for help. So, the next morning at CR, I almost didn't go because I just didn't think I could take another day of focusing on more of my problems... but I felt really convicted... so I just went... and I sat there broken and crying the whole time... and when it was my time to talk I just broke down and told the whole story and asked for prayer... and it felt great to get it all out.

So, after church two ladies in my group pulled me aside and each gave me a hundred dollars...and I just cried and thanked them and thanked God and was excited that God provided.

So, if that wasn't enough, that night I made great tips, then tonight, three ladies from my CR group came up to work tonight to watch a movie they didn't even want to watch so, they could tip me.. which meant so much to me.... and then they handed me this envelope in it from one of their homegroups with almost $500 dollars in it! This was all money collected from women who don't even know me! So, in the last 5 days, God has given me almost $850 real dollars and hypothetically (counting my refund that is yet to be deposited) almost $1,800! In 5 Days!!!!(Which doesn't even include all the food and smoothies and massages me friends have given me. That is out of control! And all this is from people that I barely know or don't even know at all (or am lucky enough to be bound to through homegroup love)that just want to show me God's love.

So, how can anyone say that God doesn't provide for those who trust in Him? And even if you are someone who is turned off by God or by Christians in general, how could you not want to serve a God that stirs love and generosity like that in people's hearts?

So, thank you God, and thank you to everyone who has helped me out (fiscally, emotionally, or otherwise). Words cannot express my gratitude, and I just pray that someday God will allow me to help someone out like this, too."

I can't tell you how proud I am of my daughter. And how honored I feel to have been given the role as being her father in this plan.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17 (New International Version)

May you fathers out there be blessed with quality children like I have been. My daughter is a total warrior. She is stronger spiritually than any other woman I know here. And she deals painful blows to our enemy because she is covered in the blood of the Lamb and her testimony is strong.

"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony;" Revelation 12:11 (King James Version)

God bless you Chelsea. If you ever come across this blog post may you always know how cherished you are by BOTH of your fathers.