Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ever Felt Hopeless? Read Psalm 88 & Feel Worse.

Psalm 88.

Have you read it recently?

If you have, you've probably passed over it fairly quickly, as I have done most times I've read it.

I'm not sure there's a more depressing Psalm in all of Scripture.

The Sons of Korah wrote it - for the music director!

I can't imagine this being a song our worship leader would ever pick for Sunday morning...

It wouldn't even make it into the bad-country-music category.

Unlike most psalms, this one doesn't even end well...It's not delivered with the words, "But God..."

It's not gift wrapped with answers, or embellished with a bow, when all is said and done.

I like those kinds of psalms.

I like the ones that remind me that when I am troubled God is my refuge and strength.

I like the psalm that declares my God is NEAR to the broken-hearted.

If you want a happy-ending-psalm, don't read this psalm!

It's right up there with a John Steinbeck novel, whose theme resounds with the word: HOPELESS.

So, why does God deem it worth putting in the canon?

Why play a song like this on the radio for our lives?

Apparently there is a vital reason for it being in Scripture, and it is for us to determine those reasons...

I've come up with a can probably add some more (& I'd love to hear them)...

1.  We live in a messy, broken, fractured, sinful, and decaying world (period, exclamation mark), of course, hardship happens.

2.  Psalm 88 is an invitation to be honest with the be as vulnerable as we complain as loudly as we need... He wants us to know that He can handle it (probably better than our friends can).

3.  Being in relationship with Jesus, doesn't mean we get to bypass the tough stuff...and, it doesn't mean that the Lord loves us any less...After all, HE IS LOVE!! That's His very nature.

4.  With LOVE in mind, there is a reason for why we're in this place...we may, or may not, ever know the reason "why" this side of heaven (read the book of Job, for goodness sakes). BUT...there is always an end, and a HIGHER perspective that we can't see.

5.  The Lord's agenda doesn't always allow for my personal happiness and satisfaction; His ways are mysterious and beyond understanding (it's what makes Him God), but in no way is He less good.

6. In the WAITING ROOM, instead of getting stranded in the middle of our story, we can, and are called to, TRUST the God who is SOVEREIGNLY working His plan for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

7. There is always an end to every season...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Living in the Future Tense

This is the verse that caught my eye this morning...

There are days, and this is one of them, when I think, "Yeah, right!"

This verse is so not me.

Not, in any way.

I look at the deeper meaning of each of those words, and they are far from depicting my life this morning...
*glorious: having striking beauty or splendor that evoke feelings of delight or admiration 

*glorious: worthy of fame and honor

*crown: a symbol of victory and of position

* royal: dignified magnificence

* diadem (another word for crown): symbolizing dignity and authority

This morning, even after Easter's glorious celebration, I feel the weight of humanity's huge cancer: sin.

It's a little word.

Just three letters.

Yet, it's a disease that still threatens the health of my own heart.

And, I'm reminded - so quickly after the crucifixion and the resurrection - that God's cure for what is wrong with mankind (hence, me) must be taken in daily doses.

It's not just to be applied at the end of Holy Week.

Jesus' cure came one-time, for all, for all-time...

Yet, for me, it must be applied often...

God's cure? It's always the blood that purifies me of my sin (1 John 1:7b) - past, present...and, yes, even the future.

And, the good news found in Isaiah 62:3 -it's found in the first three words:


That's the encouraging part.

The expectation isn't sinless perfection.

The hope is the future tense...

And that is where I live today, and in each coming day: 

I am to live at all times in the future tense of tomorrow's HOPE.

For, "I will be a glorious (!) crown (!)...a royal (!) diadem (!) His Hand!"

And, my choice has been made for today.

I'll receive God's cure for what ails me, once again.

Pick up my glorious crown.

Straighten it.

Raise my head high.

Live like the princess I am...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Rest Assured

He HAS risen!

What a blessed morning.

My heart is full.

Earth exploded on this morning so many years ago, as Jesus burst forth from the tomb.

The cross was not the end all.

A tomb wouldn't hold Him back...

...and death could not contain Him.

This morning, as the sun rose, I re-read the Easter story.

It takes my breath away each time.

Reading, I enter into the scene, picture myself there.

Just one of the grief stricken, heart broken women coming to anoint my Lord.

I was one of those "who'd been forgiven much"...and, oh, how I loved Him!

These WORDS, this morning, stop me in my tracks.

Open my eyes.

Hold my tongue.

Why do you seek the LIVING among the DEAD?
(Luke 24:5)


Because HE DIED!

Why else would I be at a grave?

But, put to rest, any question of doubt.

Jesus is ALIVE!

Moreover,  this is also true:

A grave will not hold me.

Death will not claim me.

I am more than a conqueror, because of Christ Jesus, my Lord!

When all is said and done, do not seek the living among the dead - for I will not be there!

Thanks be to Jesus Christ!

PS. And one more thing -----

Rest assured.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Jesus Needed Saturday

Lent Day 46.

By the time, Saturday rolled around, I'm sure Jesus-followers were wondering if life would ever be normal again.

Grief does that.

So does fear.

Top that with doubts and questions and mocking-voices-in-the-head, and it's no wonder all of Jesus' disciples were in hiding.

For these, Saturday was an even darker day.

This morning, I'm vividly aware that tomorrow is Sunday.

Resurrection Day.

But, they had no clue.

Jesus, their HOPE, was dead.

Picture their Saturday...without any concept of Easter.

(Truth is they had been given clues from Jesus, but those clues seemed to have been nailed to the cross right along with Him.)


There was more to Saturday from Jesus' side of the grave...while earth seemed silent in grief, there was more happening that no one was aware of...

Jesus was busy.

Busy in a world that no one else could see; and, His Saturday was anything but quiet... 

We don't know exactly what happened, but we get snippets in Ephesians 4:7-8, Colossians 2:15, and 1 Peter 3:15-18.  

What we do know is Jesus descended into a place, which we know nothing about, and proclaimed TRUTH to those who were being held captive there.

What we do know is that he made a public display of the enemy He had triumphed over through his death. 

Jesus needed Saturday in order to prepare for Sunday's Grand Event... 

So, while the disciples spent Saturday greatly distressed, Jesus spent it busily preparing for their new life to come following his GLORIOUS RESURRECTION.  

Come Sunday morning, their fear would be replaced with courage, their sadness and grief would be replaced with joy.  The confusion would be cleared up, and they would be given a mission of their own to proclaim.  

The lesson of Saturday, for me, is this:  

No matter what life's issues may be in the Saturday's of our lives, there will always be a Sunday when we are in Christ Jesus.  

Jesus is always at work preparing for it, in a place we can't see, and the result?  GREAT JOY!  

Joy always, always, comes in the morning! (Ps. 30:5). 

Our mourning will always be turned to dancing (Jeremiah 31:13)!

Sunday is coming!

Friday, April 14, 2017

He Loved Me with the Cross

Lent Day 46.

Good Friday.

Crucifixion Friday.

"Yes, the darkness of this day is real, and it is painful. It should cause us to wince, to mourn, to grow quiet as we gaze soberly upon the wounded Christ hanging on His cross. It should cause us to repent of our sin—the sin He carried and suffered for in our place. But it should also cause us to worship. It is by His wounds that we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). It is His suffering that brought us peace (Isaiah 66:12)."

It was a dark day.

In EVERY way - dark!

And painful.

Blood had to be shed.

God required it.

There was only one way to cover my sins.

...and yours.

And so on that one, blessed, dark and painful day. Jesus chose to die.

For my forgiveness.

The righteous for the unrighteous.

So, with Jesus' will surrendered to the Father, He chose the darkness and the pain.

All the while, we were on His mind.

In His heart.

There on the cross.

So, yes.

Today is about:





Can I ask a favor?  Please take just a few minutes of your time. Go to this link. Close your eyes. Listen to the words of this song (it's being sung by a dear friend of ours, from our newly adopted "home church" in England,  taped a few years ago). THE MESSAGE IS SO FRESH...SO WORTH the meditation on this Friday.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Controversial Love of Jesus

Lent Day 44.

Maunday Thursday.

Or, "Commandment Thursday."

On Thursday, Jesus went back to Jerusalem from Bethany. Here, on this day, He spent His last final hours feasting, loving, serving, and instructing His disciples.

Not just His current disciples, but all of us to come.

Thursday is the day of the Last Supper.

Of all the things Jesus instituted as a part of this day, this commandment is the one that resonates down through the ages.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another...
John 13:34-35

Throughout His life, Jesus demonstrated what this looked like.

Truth is, Jesus' brand of love went against the grain of the religious of His day. 

Jesus' love was like nails scratching on a chalkboard.

Jesus' love was controversial.

To understand, one has to know the social ladder of Jesus' day.

Start at the top rung and go down:

At the top were the Jewish religious leaders.

The wealthy.

The blue collar workers.

The poor, the sick, the lame...



Children & Slaves.

Canaanites and Samaritans.

Tax Collectors.


Look at this list closely. What do you see?

I see Jesus turning the social ladder upside down when it came to loving people!

Jesus turned the social ladder upside down when it came to love!

He went to the bottom of the rung and moved up.

One of His first disciples was a tax collector.

The first person He introduced Himself to as Messiah was a woman....and a Samaritan at that!

He always had time for children and "the least of these."

He touched the untouchables.

He healed the sick.

He ate with tax collectors and sinners, alike...He even allowed one sinner (a woman!) to wash His feet with her tears...

He gave honor and dignity to a Canaanite woman who wanted scraps from His table.

And, then, at this Last Supper, He wrapped a towel around His waist, and lowered Himself to the floor, washing His disciples feet. Serving them. Setting a new example, and a new commandment.

 For I have given you an example—you should do just as I have done for you.  I tell you the solemn truth, the slave is not greater than his master, nor is the one who is sent as a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
John 13:15-17

Jesus demolishes the social ladder completely.

Jesus stoops as low as He can to love wholly and completely.

He even dies on a cross, saying, "Greater love has no man than this: that He lay down His life for His friends."

That's the New Commandment He passed on to me. To you.

Love low.

Love great.

Live loved.

Here's what Jesus taught us that night in the upper room:  

Lovingly wash the feet of the unlovable, untouchable, and unthinkably awful people of this world.  

Not just those who are easy to love.

I confess.

This is a hard teaching.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Lent Day 43.

Seven times!

Seven times, Jesus pronounces the word "woe" on the spiritual leaders of His day.

Rather than type them all out here, read Matthew 23 (here's a link to make it easy for us to be able to read it).

One translation uses this term - "How terrible for you!"

Another says - "This is bad for you!"

The Message translates "woe" this way - "You're hopeless!" and at one point, "I've had it with you!"

As I read the passage, the feeling I get is judgment.

Jesus is done with them! So, He denounces this group of religious law-makers, rule-followers, blind-guides in front of the whole room.

He exposes them.

He condemns them.

He comes just short of sending them straight to the pit, where they'd join the vipers, to which he likens them.

You see, sometimes that's what I do...

I'm quick to condemn.

Quick to judge.

So, I assign to Jesus my own proclivity.

In seeking to understand, I reduce Jesus to human-size.

My size.

I need to be careful of doing so.  Especially here.

Certainly, Jesus is not afraid to confront these folks on their biggest sin-problem.

These spiritual men are nothing more than stage actors.

Hiding behind masks, they are hypocrites.

Of course, they are offended (see Matthew 15:12)!

Does Jesus not care? Has He lost His compassion? His steadfast love? His patience?

Not at all!

Heaven forbid!

Remember, Jesus is on point.

He's still trying to fulfill His mission.

"To seek and save those who are lost."
He's used gentle words, stories, and responded to a Q & A time to try and open their blind eyes.

And, He's hit a brick wall.

Now, He warns them.

'There is great sorrow apart from Me.'

'You strain at gnats and swallow camels.'

'You look great on the outside, but inside of you is death!'

'You can expect WOE!'

What Jesus wants for them is great joy!

What He desires is to gather them like chicks under the wings of His protection and salvation.

But they will have none of it.

Right here. On this day.

Jesus' heart began breaking.

Way before His Garden Prayer, Jesus' knew He would pay a price for the sins of these men, but they would choose to turn away...

When He spoke the word WOE, it wasn't judgment.

They had already condemned themselves. (John 3:17-21)

His expression of woe was a reflection of His heart-breaking, deep seated grief, on behalf of their stubbornness.

He literally felt the WOE that they would experience as they turned their backs on Him.

And, He walked back to Bethany that night, to lay His head down, one more night, heart-broken --- metaphorically, spiritually, and yes, literally.

Today's take away for me:

Have this attitude that was in Christ Jesus:
Exchange my judgmental, condemning heart for a heart-on-mission to seek and save the lost. 

Remembering the grief that comes apart from Christ Jesus can keep me on point. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Take Aways on "Temple" Tuesday.

Lent Day 42.

Jesus spent most of Tuesday during Holy Week at the temple.

He's challenged.



The Pharisees and Saducees, who never got along (much like Democrats and Republicans, I'd imagine), find themselves united under a common cause: Get rid of Jesus!

They are afraid of Him.

We always fear what we can't figure out, don't we?

The result is always the same - eliminate the feared from our life as quickly as possible.

Jesus isn't afraid.

He has it all figured out.

He knows where this is headed - where He is headed.

However, this is a last chance stop at the temple to give these leaders One. More. Chance.

He doesn't take a bite on the lure they throw Him.

He doesn't let them push His buttons.

He won't respond in the way they want to see Him respond.

He doesn't back down, either.

They keep trying to push Him into a spiritual corner; but...

...all day, Tuesday, He's a perfect example of Proverbs 15:1:

What's His modus-operandi?

Today, as it was most of the time they confronted Jesus, He answers with stories...and, with questions of His own.

Both are strategically designed to be a mirror for these spiritual guides.

Jesus really wants them to see inside their hearts.

He knows if they will just take a good, long look, they will see the truth about their own spiritual conditions.

In return, this is the first step in seeing the truth regarding what to do with Jesus.

If they see themselves, accurately, they see they need a Savior.

If they see their need, they will be able to see He's their answer.

Jesus doesn't want anyone to perish in their sin...

But, they don't.

They are blind guides.

They leave the temple that night, still blind.

All day they've been with the man who has healed blindness over and over again...and they walk away from Him.

There are a few take-aways for me today, as I've thought about Jesus' Tuesday in the temple.

1.  Always seek to understand that which I'm afraid of...that very thing may be something I desperately NEED for personal spiritual growth.

2.  Don't run from the hard spiritual questions thrown at me...use them as a mirror into my own heart, as well as to clarify exactly what I believe.

3.  Persist with those who are lost...they truly are blind.  

3.  Like Jesus, always be prepared to tell the story of the hope that is within me in gentleness and with a spirit of awe (1 Peter 3:15).