Friday, December 31, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Prayers Spoken

1 Thessalonians 3

8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.

Lord Jesus--Standing firm in a world where so little is stable and enduring remains the challenge. I live in a time of great change. There are times when I wish that things did not move so fast. Any yet, in the middle of change you call to me to hold on to the things that really matter.

In the middle of change is when the I need to trust in the relationships that you have brought into my life. Paul was both encouraged and sought to encourage the church at Thessalonica. The mutuality of giving and receiving should be the way that the church operates.Prayer should tie it all a way that allows the spirit of God to work without restriction.

Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

Lord Jesus--This is is really a prayer that Paul is praying for the church he planted.

His first request is that he be allowed to revisit them. The events in my life that I am frustrated with the lack of movement are all in your hands and in your direction. Paul felt the reality of the fact that there were obstructions that were in his way which were beyond his ability to remove. His response was to pray. Prayer is the place to start...not action. I am afraid I would be the guy who was checking out ticket prices and wondering how I could make something happen when really all I needed to do was wait...and trust.

The second prayer request was that there would be an increase in love. Love within the church only comes from you, Lord Jesus. I can not make it happen. It is a creative act of God.

The last request is for strength to become all that You would have them to be. The request is that at your arrival grace will have had it's full impact. That there would be no holds barred in the quest for having your active presence engaged in thier lives.

Lord Jesus--These are the requests of my heart...that love and strength would increase and that in all the activities you would be the center of the picture. I wonder what all t he implications of that would be...let it be Lord Jesus in your people today.

As I write this I can only imagine the impact of your remaining the center and heart standing firm in your Jesus in this day.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Notes to the Lord: Walk the Walk Today

1 Thessalonians 3
6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you.

Lord Jesus--If there were a report going back to you from this
outpost of the gospel what would it be? A favorable report? One that focused on the increase in faith and love? Would that report be one that identified positive memories of the experiences shared? Would it be about actions lived out or just about talking about actions lived out? Witness is not seen in the abstract, but in the everyday world.

7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith.

Lord Jesus--In the middle of difficult circumstance, there is always reason to be encouraged in what is happening in your Kingdom. Help me to remember that in the middle of whatever present circumstance that confronts me at that moment your people are aware of the faith that I am either demonstrating or failing to live out with grace.

Lord Jesus--You remind me this morning that I never walk alone. You are always there and the
people of faith that I am making this journey with are also watching. Help me to be an encouragement by the grace with which I live out your grace alive within me. I pray right now for those whose journey is challenging today. Be close to their steps, encourage and lead as only You can do.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Reality Based Relationships

1 Thessalonians 3

1 So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3 so that no one would be unsettled by these trials.

Lord Jesus--Paul's heart kept beating to see your work tended and taken care of. He was willing to change agenda to meet the needs that he saw including spliting up his church planting team. Timothy was sent for only one purpose to strengthen and encourage at time when faith was being tested.

You know so much better than we do the reality that surrounds your people right now. We are not here alone, nor do we meet the challenge alone. That was what Timothy's charge was: to remind God's people what they really already knew but needed someone to remind them.

For you know quite well that we are destined for them. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know.

Lord Jesus the reality of this world is much the same today as it was when Timothy was sent to this your church by Paul. LSCC does not have to deal with persecution, our current battle is to be relevant, real and relational in a world that has marginalized the church.

The only reason you left heaven's gates was to make a relationship possible with us.Help me in this day Lord Jesus to be real and open to relationship where ever I find myself. It is within the context of relationships that your people become relevant. Be with your people this day.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Deep and Lasting Relationships

1 Thessalonians 2
17 But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. 18For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way.

Lord Jesus--The connections established in your church are long lasting and endure over time. Paul wanted to see these people again, who he had brought to know you as savior. The relationships established are on the same lines as family...brothers and sisters. Can you continue your work in LSCC? We seek to forge those kind of relationships that endure over time with depth and sincerity.

Lord Jesus--Those kind of enduring and deep relationships are exactly the kind that Satan does not want to exist. He wants us to always be on the surface.

19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

Lord Jesus--Paul saw the relationships that developed over time in the church as a reason for joy and a reason to rejoice. These people won to you at such a risk were the reason for his call. They were the joy of his life.

The ability to establish these kind of relationships both with each other in your church and with You is the only reason that you came to this place.

In this day that will begin in just a few moments...filled with things to do and people to see, help me to remember that it is in the relationship that make up my life that you are seen. Help me to be that kind of person that shows you in my thoughts, my words and my deeds. Inhabit every conversation with your grace.

Lord Jesus--I pray right now for LSCC that the bonds that have been established will deepen by your grace, make this body of Christ something that you can be proud of. Bless your people in this day.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Impacts Beyond What I Know

1 Thessalonians 2

13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.

Lord Jesus--These words are not just words on a page. They have power to change me and never leave me the same. Your words work in my heart and life as I am open to them. Help me to be open to all that you would have me be in this day that will begin before I know it.

14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews.

Lord Jesus--The point is to be more like you in this be an imitator and to be more like you that is always the goal. Forgive me when I miss that goal and take my eyes off of the prize.

15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone.

Lord Jesus--It is always a choice that I make each day to look toward you. There are those who choose to go their own way. Choose my choices for me in this coming day...I want to end this day closer to the person that you would have me to be.

16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.

Lord Jesus--The choices that I make have impacts in more way than I know.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Pastors and Parents

1 Thessalonians 2

5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority.

Lord Jesus--Paul would not be one to go first class. I am thinking that he would have taken coach if he were here today. He supported himself by making tents. I can relate, I don't make tents but I know what it is to live in two worlds. There is always that change of headset that I have to do, and yet at the same time maintain the grounding of grace. Leading grace over lunch would not work in my little group...nor would it be understanding of their feelings.

Instead, we were like young children among you.Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

Lord Jesus--So there was love that was demonstrated by Paul toward the church. The parent role and a life shared with the people who God brought into his life, was something that Paul experienced again and again. There is a cost in the giving. I am thinking that Paul did not take many vacations, and his down time was really time spent preparing for the next event. I wonder if he ever used a bounce house?

9 Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.

Lord Jesus--It is all hard work some of which goes unnoticed and unseen. I am sure that Paul had sleepless nights on occasion wondering about where the next job was going to come from. I wonder if he ever wondered about how he was going to be able to pull it all off in the middle of working with this church, far from anywhere he had ever called home before.

10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Lord Jesus--That is the deal. Pastoring is much like parenting. Working out the issues with understanding, grace and love...takes time and energy never knowing except by faith's eye how things will turn out. The reality is these relatiionships are durable over time and will be what matters for eternity.

In this day, help me to lead a life that shows that kind of grace.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Notes to the Lord:A Call Answered

1 Thessalonians 2

1 You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. 2 We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to t
ell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition.

Lord Jesus--Paul's call was one where the appointment was not by committee and the results were personal. He was willing to risk again even in the face of the past. It was not on his own power that he continued to be faithful, you were there with him every step of the way.

Today in Saratoga there is not opposition, more it is finding the ways to be relevant in a cluttered culture. Revelance must be something that is more than a style of music, or a stance but requires interaction in the community on a level that brings you right into the place where everyone is living. Paul was not content until he was in the marketplace and engaged in the everyday of communities in which he lived. He found ways to do us new ways at LSCC to connect in the community we are a part of...

3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.

Lord Jesus--There is a question of trust and motives that evidences. What is the point? Why another church? What is different or unique about this group of people or this location? The reality is the answers to those questions are found in the work of the reality of God at work in our hearts. In a way even through so much of this work is public, the real essence is private and in the hands of God who wills and works in hearts.

Lord Jesus--Continue your work in our hearts and lives.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Notes to the Lord:On Modeling

1 Thessalonians 1
7And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it,

Lord Jesus--I don't live in Macedonia or is Pine Road and Washington, but the job is the same. It is modeling you to a world that neither cares or leaves room for you in their lives. But that was the way that it was for the Thessalonian church all those years ago when Paul was writing.

for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait
for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

Lord Jesus--The idols of today are not the same as they were in the first century...they are not wood and stone to be worshiped. We don't call them gods. We are more sophisticated than that. But lives still revolve around them...things like career, acquiring status, material, houses, financial security. They are things much more tangible.

Lord Jesus--In this day that is dawning now, focus my thoughts, emotions and energy on the things that really matter. Let me be like those early Christians in Thessalonica so full of your grace that everyone could see.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Seeing Jesus

1 Thessalonians 1
4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.

Lord Jesus--The gospel preached has power in and of itself. It must be lived out in ways that are clear and evident to those to whom it is being preached. That is the challenge everyday: to live out with power in real life what it is you call me to preach. Speak in power, Holy Spirit, speak with deep conviction...let me live out the gospel in this place you have called me to with power.

6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

Lord Jesus--T
he goal is that in the middle of a dark world your people can be lights. In the middle of suffering, joy can take root as I focus on and live out the message of the gospel of grace. These people to whom Paul was writing were able to make the choice to accept the gospel with clarity and determination.There is joy that comes when I can imitate you, help me to be that kind of person today, in the day that will dawn in just a few hours.

Up Close and Persona
l--There is a qualitative difference that following you makes in my life, Lord Jesus. A difference that can be seen in what I do. It is also a difference that should be seen in every action: in how I do what, I do.

Lord Jesus you want to shine in me, illuminating everything that is a part of my day. You want to be God of big picture and God of the details, God of my macrocosm and God of the microcosm...nothing is either too big or too small. You want dialogue with me about it all. Forgive me when I don't include you. Teach me each day the way of praying "without ceasing."

You call me today to imitate you Lord Jesus. That requires a level of transparency I can not achieve without a continual infilling of your grace...enough to see your fingerprints all around the edges of my life.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Notes to the Lord: A Hope That Works

1 Thessalonians 1

1 Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you.
2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.

Lord Jesus--There is power in the activity of prayer and of thanksgiving that is mingled with God's grace. There is power to change lives...power to change my life in a way that will brings glory to You and increase my usability for him.

3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lord Jesus--There is a progression here…a progression that starts with work that is produced by faith. Faith is directed toward God…God does not show us faith, I show you my faith by my actions. In the mixture very soon is love. Love that is not focused on anything but the will of God being worked out in real life.

Real life is messy at times and always confusing. But with a health does of love mixed it, it becomes God's grace worked out within me. Faith that works is a faith that understands the economy of grace. There is nothing that we can do that will in anyway increase the amount that God loves us. Our work springs from our love for you and our desire to express that love in visible ways.

Lord Jesus--In this day give me ways to work in a way that shows you are alive in me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Notes to the Lord:The Practical While Watching The Sea and the Sky

Matthew 28

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Lord Jesus--I have been thinking about little things while looking at the sea and the sky. A lost cell phone...a lost blue shoe...a direction needed. So many times it is in the little things that I dismiss you and think that they are too small for you to be concerned about. In my mind, you are concerned with world peace, the state of economy and the instability of our present culture and lifestyle, but do you care about the little things that consume my days? All of those large issues I am sure that you intercede to the Father about.

It was just a cell phone, a
symbol of connection in my time...a piece of silicon, wire and plastic. But it was a connection from vacation to home, friends and family, it was something that brings a sense of safety in a world that can be fightful. We were in Hatteras looking at the Lighthouse on a late fall day in North Carolina. As we started lunch, Sarah's phone was noticed to be missing. As we were blessing the food Jim prayed that Jesus would help us find that cell phone.

As I sat there listening to the prayer a smile crossed my face...that was Jim being Jim...thoughtful, and kind to mention a cell phone over the blessing at lunch. I thought a bit about what the wait staff a little girl with the nose ring...What might she be thinking of our little clan gathered around the table holding hands and asking for blessing for our food and direction to a lost cell phone?

So the plan was set to return to the Lighthouse and retrace our steps to see if we could find a cell phone somewhere in that place of sea, sky and light. We had as usual gone out of the normal boundaries of good visitors and had tried to find the ocean to get pictures of the light house from the ocean. I was not terribly hopeful as we fanned out to our assigned locations to search, Janice was going to the shop that sold trinkets to see if it had been turned in.

The rest of us traced steps where the cell phone could be. Jim and I had just start to scan the ground on our piece of ground when we heard Jay and Sarah calling to us that they had found the cell on the ground and in working order. Amazing.

So that brings me to the question that is running through these brain cells tonight. Does Jesus care about little things like cell phones? Yes. Is He with us in our days filled with lost cell phones and dropped connections? Absolutely. Thank you James for the reminder over lunch...Thank You Jesus for the reminder over a found cell phone in working order on the grass at Hatteras.

I guess that would have past as a memory of a vacation spent on a sand bar over Thanksgiving had it not been for a pair of blue crocks that Bee was wearing on the beach. Melody, Bee and I were walking the beach...there were the waves and chasing after a little one while taking pictures of the seagulls and the waves. It was windy and the waves were rough. Bee tired of walking and at some point her blue crock shoes got put in the pocket of my jacket. She ended up on my shoulders as we walked back against the wind toward the house. The dunes were steep as we worked at getting all of us back to the house. It was as we started across the dunes that I noticed I only had one blue is Bee's favorite color after all.

As I walked down the beach back towards where we had been looking for a blue little crock shoe, I was praying...God of wind and waves, of redemption, and of grace so amazing, can you watch over a blue crock shoe of this little one? Can you guide my steps to find a little bit of blue plastic in all of this sand and wind.

I sensed you with me on that beach in the wind. You were talking to me of a God who cares about little things and big. A God that uses all of the incidents of my life to form your image in my heart each day that I am willing to include you in my wanderings. You want to have unrestricted access to my heart and mind, not just in time of quiet reflection, but right in the middle of the mix it up day that I almost always have.

Your presence with me in the small things confirms in my heart that you are with me in the large things. You are with me in the smile toward a stranger who seems to have his face frozen in a permanent grimace. You are with me as I try to connect with the store clerk with a joke. You are with me when I think of the future and what direction you would have me set in the coming year with church and are with me even as we approach the end of the age. I need fear nothing but not including you in the little things of my life...the very places where you are needed the most.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Notes to the Lord:A Command Surrounded By A Promise

Matthew 28

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.

Lord Jesus--This is the only time that Matthew records you appearing to the disciples. They had gone to where you had told them to go in Galilee. It must have been a place where they had been with you before. Maybe this was the same mountain where you had done some of your teaching from. It could have been a place that was associated with safety and rooted in they collective experience. At the very least, it was a place where you had chosen.

In the middle of seeing you for the first time since your death, there was worship and doubt mixed together. That mixture happens to me sometimes. You meet with me in the middle of a frenetic life and I find myself drawn to your majesty. But at the same time I find myself doubting...can this really be true? Can the God of the universe really want this kind of relationship with me? Then there is the command.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

It wasn't a small thing that you asked these 11 men to do. The world surrounded this little group, and the time they had spent with you was time that had changed them. They had watched you heal, teach and touch what would never have been touched by the rabbis of their day. They knew that there was a world to win. It was with your authority that you sent these men out. You sent them out to make disciples not converts who knew your commands and followed them.

There was also a promise...

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I depend on this promise in this age that I am living in. I walk by faith in this world you left your people in. You did not put limits on your being with me, either in time or in space. Where ever I go you are there. You surround me and encompass my steps. As long as I am obedient to your mission and your call on my life, I can be sure that I am not alone.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Note to the Lord: Stories About the Stone

Matthew 28
11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.

There were limited choices available for the chief priests and the elders. That is the way that you make my life as I approach decisions related to you. It is either allowing you to be who you are: the Son of God. Or I have to make up my own stories. The sad thing is there is no power in my stories. It is only in your story owned and lived out in my life that there are hope and grace revealed.

If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

Lord Jesus--Let me always swimming with the current of your grace.The work of God can not be stopped by lies or by deception. It will simply flow by those who are not willing to swimming in the current. In the end the only people who were hurt by this deception were the chief priests and the elders who missed out on what you were doing all around them.

Notes to the Lord:On A Stone

Matthew 28

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.

Lord Jesus--The epicenter of the earthquake that shook all of Jerusalem was located at the sight of your tomb. The angels were at last free to work, I am sure they had been looking from heavens gates and holding themselves back from intervention on your behalf. Now there was something that could be done. I wonder how the honor of being at the tomb was decided. I am guessing everyone wanted to be the one chosen. I am sure the Father had his plan, and knew of the desire of the ministers of His direction.

It is in the empty tomb, and grave clothes left abandon that there is reason for hope to exist in my heart today. Death is not an end, grace can even fix what appears to be the ultimate victory of Satan. The epicenter of grace is found at the empty tomb, that stone should really be our symbol not a cross. The cross is the symbol of Jesus giving himself for us, but that stone is the testimony that there is hope in obedience to the call of God. There is hope beyond this life, I am not sure that we could have easily put a stone on a chain and worn it around our necks. The essence of grace is that stone rolled away because resurrection life had to get out. It would not be kept sealed in the place where Satan had left it.

The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

Lord Jesus--The men were down for the count, fainted dead away. Was it the angels or the glory that threw them on the ground. I am not sure which but they were eating dirt before they knew it. I am wondering if maybe these could have been some of the same men who mocked or murdered you. A Roman legion is large, but could it be that some of the same men were on this grave detail?

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Lord Jesus--These women who could not leave the quest to follow you even when all hope seemed to be gone were rewarded. They were the first to see you alive and to worship you. This was the beginning of resurrection life that would transform the church.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Shaking the Earth

Matthew 27

57When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave.

Lord Jesus--Joesph was willing to come out of the shadows at your death. I wonder what feelings he had as he talked with Pilate. Was he thinking that there might be a cross with his name on it? I suspect that the sadness and the frustration of not being able to help in your hour of need was overwhelming. This small thing was all that he could do. It was at least a place where the last acts of care for you could be d

And the women were there. Why is it that it was the women and John who were not afraid to be with you through the darkest hour. There is special grace given to those who are called to the hard places where all you can do is be a presence of care in the middle of such pain. Could Mary Magdalene smell the perfume she had anointed you with as she stood at the foot of the cross? What a brave soul. She was someone who could not forget the change that you had brought into her life. John alone of the twelve was able to watch you pass into the keeping the Father. John was at the cross...he could do nothing but look in your pain filled eyes and watch...he could accept into his care your first-born's responsibility for the care of your mother.

62Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, 63and said, "Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I am to rise again.'

These are the same people who had visits from the dead saints or had at least heard of the sightings of some of the very people who they knew and respected. I am willing to wager that at this point they did not think that this was out of the question. I wonder if some of the Pharisees and chief priests had got a visit from their Rabbi long gone to his reward.

64"Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead,' and the last deception will be worse than the first." 65Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how."

Lord Jesus--I wonder what is behind these words of Pilate. There is resignation in these words. Pilate is a leader that had to deal with the after math of the jitters that occur whatever there is a earth quake, not to mention the people raised from the dead and the open grave that no one could miss. Pilate is a man who knew the limits of power. Military power can only do so much. It can kill, it can reach a goal, but it can not hold back the power that he had seen demonstrated.

In death you shook the world, you did what military power could never do. Shake my world push the limits and change what nothing else can change.

Lord Jesus--There is no limit to what you can do. The grave could not hold you. Help me to trust the power that raised you from the grave and nothing else.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Notes to the Lord:With Eyes Wide Open

Matthew 27

51And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. 52The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

Lord Jesus--I wonder if anyone from the religious elite got visits from the resurrected saints that Friday? Would that have shaken their resolve? I can just imagine the conversation... Resurrection day was tasted in Jerusalem on that Friday. Death is not something that is static for those who know Jesus.

Astonishing things were happening all around Jerusalem. I wonder if it mad
e the religious elite think about what they had done. There were things happening that just did not happen everyday. The veil in the temple spontaneously tearing from top to bottom opening the holy place in the temple for all to see. It must have been disconcerting to those who over saw temple functioning. Especially, when one of the accusations that were used against Jesus just hours before had been that he said that he would destroy the temple. Then there were the visits from the saints from the past, making an unscheduled appearance.

54Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!"

Lord Jesus--Sometimes it is those who seem to be the farthest a
way from spiritual things who really are the closet to listening to you. This centurion that was so famular with death, was able to see that something had happened and credit it to God. I wonder if this solder who participated in your death, ever came to know you. Could it be that the very person who drove the nails into your hands and feet came to know the power of grace? That would be just like you, Lord.

Lord Jesus--I live in a time that astonishing things are happening. F
oundations are being shaken that have made the Christian community feel secure. In times that are filled with change and transition, let me be like this centurion able to see with my eyes what is happening with clarity and give you credit for that change... Even when it means that fundamental change is required.

Lord Jesus--In this day that waits for me, help me to see your direction and listen to your call.

Notes to the Lord:Clueless To Grace

Matthew 27

44The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words. 45Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. 46About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"

Lord Jesus--I will never know the darkness and pain of that hour. You went there for me. My sin pinned you to that cross. In these hours you experienced all of what it meant to be the offering for sin.

47And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, "This man is calling for Elijah." 48Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. 49But the rest of them said, "Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him."50And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.

Lord Jesus--Thank you for your death on the cross. It was love that brought you to that place. This amazing, and extravagant example of love compels me. But the people who were standing just feet from you had no clue as to what was really happening. For them it was something to observe and see if Elijah showed up. They had no clue that Elijah had already shown up on the mountain.

Lord Jesus--There are so many times when I am clueless just like these casual observers of the Crucifixion. Extravagant, and amazing grace is unfolding all around me and I am unaware of it. Don't let me be a casual observer to your grace flowing all around me instead help me to learn how to swim in it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Between Earth and Sky

Matthew 27

And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, 34they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink. 35And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots. 36And sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there.

Lord Jesus--The solders that were just carrying out orders were there and you knew they would be. They were not there by accident. Were they? The Father knew from eternity past that these few men would be the ones to murder you.

The Father could have made sure that their grandparents never existed. It was an act of Divine grace that these men were even alive. And yet here they are...sitting at the foot of the cross. They were so close to grace being poured out and yet so unaware.

And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, "THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS." 38At that time two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left.

Lord Jesus--You were there between to thieves. You were there in the middle of them. That is much like you had been all a long with the sinners. You left heaven for this very reason to be on that cross.

39And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads 40and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross."

Lord Jesus--Even as you were dieing the people continued to miss the point. They were so concerned about the temple that they missed the point. You didn't need to come down from the cross even though you could have. The reason that you came to earth was for the very people who were wagging their heads at you and insulting you in death.

41In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, 42"He saved others; He cannot save Himself He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. 43"HE TRUSTS IN GOD; LET GOD RESCUE Him now, IF HE DELIGHTS IN HIM; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.'"

Lord Jesus--As you hung suspended between Earth and sky, they walked by only feet from where you stood, yet they were firmly standing on the wrong side of grace. Asking for a sign that if given would have destroyed the plan of God.

The priests and scribes were asking for what could never happen if the economy of grace was going to be established. The age of law was passing before their eyes as you hung there the perfect sacrifice being offered on our behalf.

As they passed the quoted scripture to you, the one who is the word of God incarnate. The one who they had seen heal the sick and open the eyes of the blind.

Lord Jesus--Where are the times in my life when I ask you to do what can't be done if the plan you have in place is to be fulfilled? In this day that has really already begun, help me to be aware that you are at work in ways that may not make sense to me, but you see it so much clearer than I because you have been between earth and sky.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Grace that Reaches

Matthew 27

27Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. 28They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him.

Lord Jesus--You suffered at the hands of Pilate. Then there was humiliation at the hands of guards that were looking for amusement at the expense of the condemned. You understand injustice right to its core.

29And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!"30They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head.

Lord Jesus--Did any of these solders ever come to know you and regret these moments of cruelty? This was execution that was meant to make a statement. It was not just death at the hands of the executioner, but execution tailored to repudiate and annihilate who you were.

You have been to the darkest places of human hearts, and you went there to make a way for grace to enter the world. Grace has to have been able to reach the very soldiers who humiliated you.

How far does grace reach? It reaches beyond where I ever expected it can go. It reaches to the very places that it would seem to be most unlikely. Your grace reaches me.

31After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him. 32As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross.

Lord Jesus--Help me to look for your grace in places where I would never expect it to reach, don't let me be satisfied with a small grace that only fits my limited categories. Help me to live out an extravagant grace

Monday, November 8, 2010

Notes to the Lord: On Envy, Injustice and Shouting

Scripture Reflection:Matthew 27

15Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the people any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16At that time they were holding a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. 17So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" 18For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over.

Lord Jesus--Pilate was looking for a way out. He was looking for a way to defuse the escalating situation that confronted him. Barabbas from all that we know was a rebel and and insurrectionist. The choice was between you who had healed the sick of Jerusalem before their eyes and one who had lead them in rebellion.

Pilate could see that there were undercurrents that had driven You to his judgment seat. His insight that envy was the motivator was very accurate. You did what no one else could do. The leadership of the nation could not have that. They wanted control more than they wanted to see God work among them.

Ultimately, they envied you for your connection to the Father so much that they were willing to be implicit in your death.

19While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, "Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him."

Lord Jesus--Pilate had information from unusual sources. I wonder what was going through his mind when this message arrived. I don't know where this dream came from, and ultimately it did him little good.

I am more and more aware of the direction and leadership of your Holy Spirit in more ways that I know or understand. Help me pay attention to all the ways that you seek to communicate with me.

20But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. 21But the governor said to them, "Which of the two do you want me to release for you?" And they said, "Barabbas." 22Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" They all said, "Crucify Him!" 23And he said, "Why, what evil has He done?" But they kept shouting all the more, saying, "Crucify Him!"

Lord Jesus--I wonder about the people in the crowd and their shouts. Those shouting all had their

own motives and reasons. Some at the direction of their leadership were just doing what was asked of them. Some were there just for the excitement and the drama.The crowd can be so changeable and fickle. Had some of those in this crowd been at the gate when you entered less than a week before? Were there some who had shouted praise now calling for your death?

Some there had been touched by you and your teaching. There were those all through Jerusalem who had been healed by you and who had heard your voice in the temple teaching. Were there people in the crowd that day who were shouting for your release? Did they shout with all their might and still get drowned out? Sometimes all we can do is keep shouting even when it is drowned out by the crowd.

24When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this Man's blood; see to that yourselves." 25And all the people said, "His blood shall be on us and on our children!" 26Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.

Lord Jesus--Pilate did not want to be responsible for your death and yet he was the one who signed the orders to have it done. He tried to make a stand for truth in the middle of an unjust proceeding. The Roman's who believed so strongly in the rule of law, ended up carrying out the greatest of injustice of all time.

Lord Jesus--In the day that will begin in just a few hours, help me to be a person sensitive to your voice and willing to speak out even when it doesn't seem like anyone is listening.