Holy Tuesday

80103178Read Matthew 25:1-13

(Again, adapted from an older blog…)

Yes, in some corners of Christendom, Holy Tuesday is a holiday. The parable of the ten virgins is sometimes developed today in various services and studies. Related to this, the oils used in prayers for healing and anointing are sometimes anointed and prayed for. Praying for our oils is an interesting idea, one related to praying for our prayers.

I recall one of the verses of one of the first worship songs I ever learned: “Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning.”

Yes, indeed. I want to keep going in Christ and I want to be ever ready for His return. It could happen before Easter this year, or a thousand years from today.

His coming once affirms His return. I need oil (for lamps and for healing) because life and the night are long. I need vigilance because it will all end suddenly. Midnight is coming.

Holy Monday

Read Matthew 21:18-22

(adapted from a blog of mine 5 years ago today…)

Holy Monday. That’s what today is called. In some Christian traditions the withering of the fig tree (Matthew 21:18-22) is the focus. Others recall the story of Joseph (from Genesis 37), as it parallels Christ’s story in many ways. Still others read through the entire gospel of Matthew and some of Mark at various hours of the day as part of a three day period of reading through most of the gospels. The Roman Catholic Church sometimes (in our part of the world anyway) offers confession for a big part of the day.

Holy Monday. It almost seems like an oxymoron. For some of us, it’s the one day of the week that doesn’t feel holy. For me it has always been holy, a day off. Today I can’t tell my family I’m too busy for them. Today I can’t tell God I’m too busy doing His work to spend a little alone time with Him. Today I eat a real breakfast and read real books.

That fig tree account always makes me swallow hard and take a deep breath. Am I fruitful enough to escape withering? Am I faithful enough to move mountains? All creaturely holiness begins with the wholesale insufficiency created by these questions. “Woe is me, Lord. I need help.”

Hosanna!

Leafy-Palm-BranchesRead Matthew 21:10-11

Jesus entered today into Jerusalem. All knew who He was. He knew who He was. The confusion about identity belonged to others. Some believers shouting “Hosanna” may have become confused about who they were after hearing themselves shout “crucify Him” just days later. The greatest identity confusion, however, seems to be on the part of the Pharisees. The irony here is that few people in that world would have spent more time and effort cementing their identity together. They were “large and in charge,” to use the familiar phrase. They had worked hard to become so in their own minds and others’ eyes. Jesus called this into question. Jesus always calls into question our campaigns for self-promotion and self-importance. He invalidates our false self-validation. He cannot set us free otherwise. When we shout “Hosanna,” He hears us. He will “save us,” as we have cried out for Him to, by saving us from ourselves. Pray that He root out all the puff and posturing in your thinking, all the indignation at not being honored by others, and, most especially, any¬†bitterness resulting from any¬†resentment at not being tended to. Pray that He forgive your sins and set you free from them. Self-worship is self-consuming self-deception. Worship of God is true and liberating as well as overflowing with joy and hope. Hosanna! Save us, Lord!

Despite Fear

Read 2nd Timothy 1:7

Even though God did not give us a spirit of fear, many of us still have it. There it sits in our hearts, darkening our thoughts and plans with faithless “what ifs.” Our fear discredits our faith, which is interesting because verses like 2nd Timothy 1:7 exist to discredit our fear. It’s one or the other with every decision we make, starting with the decision we make about how to feel in this moment. Here are some of the ways I notice fear lying to me…

1) Fear claims that I have to choose it over faith in order to be safe. Safety is a powerful tool in the hands of fear. We never have too much or enough safety. The quest for safety can metastasize into a paralyzing spiritual cancer. Fear disguised as safety prevents us from doing anything, if we let it have its way with us. Fear can kill us in the name of safety.

2) Fear poses as wisdom from God. A cautious spirit has choked many a vision. People wait for everything to be lined up, for all the money they need to be in hand, for all the obstacles to be cleared, for every adversary to become an ally, and then, and only then, will they proceed. Inaction, however, is not always wisdom. Sometimes, because of fear, people stop waiting for God and start waiting for everything to be perfect.

3) Fear acts like a friend. “I’m only thinking of your best interests. I don’t want you to get hurt or lose what you have. Stay hidden and quiet and you won’t get burned.” Fear, the kind the Scriptures say God didn’t give us the spirit of, is never a friend.

4) Fear always has a plan for me. Fear always comes preloaded with its own ideas and agenda. Whatever I want to do or feel called to do takes second place to fear. If this spirit did not come from God, it will not lead me to God.

Instead, we have a different spirit when we have Jesus Christ as Lord. Fear still has a voice, but it loses its vote in how we live our lives and in how we feel on the inside. Let the Cross of Christ free you from the grip of fear and fill you with the power of faith to live for God.

Squirrels

iStock-6301333_squirrel_s3x4Read Luke 19:40

With Palm Sunday upon us, let’s think about the scene. It involved all of Creation. By saying that the rocks will cry out to Him if believing people don’t, Jesus is referring to all of Creation. “Creation testifies about Me, even if you won’t.” Creation harmonizes with the Gospel. This idea is found throughout Scripture. (Two, among many, interesting places to read about this, to my mind, are Joshua 24:27 and Romans 8:22 and their respective contexts.) So – stay with me here- all of Creation includes squirrels! You’ve probably seen a squirrel recently. If you log onto creation.com, you can read about how amazing these little things are. Their existence, for Creationists, stands as a furry rebuke of any theory of origins that departs from Genesis 1-2! If you won’t sing Christ’s praises this weekend and next, Palm Sunday and Easter, your role may be outsourced to a rock! Or maybe even to a squirrel! Why does Jesus say something like this to learned religious leaders? He takes their serious protest and makes it silly. One lesson for me: if I take myself too seriously, my self-regard and my misplaced affection for my own knowledge and social position may blind me to my only hope, Jesus Christ. Even as a believer, I can miss Him if all I’m looking for is myself. In this case, Jesus calls me silly too. And rightly so; I am. If I prefer my idea of wisdom to wonder and abandonment in the presence of Christ, I must salute the rocks and squirrels; they know better!

Light

Read John 8:12

(Sorry this is so late. This one is short and adapted from one written about 6 years ago…)

Nothing beats light. Light has cleansing properties that simply can’t be overstated. Light in relationships brings healing and new trust. Light in the mind brings peace and rest. Light on the earth brings life and growth. Light in the spiritual realm brings clarity and victory. Light makes everything beautiful. Light comes in more than one variety, more than one shade, more than one way. Light was the first thing God created after He created the Heavens and the Earth. Genesis 1:3 – “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” (KJV). Near the end of the Bible (Revelation 22:16), Jesus is “the bright and morning star.” More light. Easter Sunday is about the dawning of light that is purchased and initiated by Good Friday. It was sunny for part of today – inside and out. Light makes life good. Let there be light in your life today (and tonight).

United or Divided

Read Ephesians 2:14-16

(From an older blog. Hope you agree it still seems fresh…)

The cross unites those who unite themselves to it, but by the same token it also divides those who divide themselves from it. When He makes the two one, both of the two have to want it. Reconciliation is not forgiveness; it involves two. Forgiveness involves one. The Cross will set one free, but it will not set things right between two unless both are free. This is a tough lesson to learn. The Cross kills hostility between people as long as none are hostile to the Cross. The Cross can’t be the starting point; it has to be the whole point. The Church itself, in these latter days, is being split apart due to the Cross, but certainly not by the Cross. Its purpose is unity. This shows how important reconciliation is to God. The fuller teaching of these verses includes the negative of this as well. If we don’t rely solely on His crucified flesh to break down the dividing wall of hostility between us, we then, by default, reinforce it.