Monday, February 18, 2013

unlike any other man

Word came to Jesus: the king was plotting to kill him. If someone sought to hurt me or a member of my family I'd take action. The goal would be simple: keep safe. When news of King Herod's plot reached Jesus he didn't prepare for a fight or take flight Luke 13:31. Jesus came to die as much as to live--the thing was he wasn't meant to die quite yet. Luke 13:32

Jesus' aim in life is substantially different than the goals people know by nature. By nature, when healthy, we seek to preserve our lives. We try to live long and comfortable. We dream of going on for a long time. Many seek ways to preserve themselves or a legacy of themselves, Ernst Becker argued well in The Denial of Death, after death here in this earth. But Jesus came for the cross. Along the way He brought new life, healing, and truth to many people. He taught so much by example about how to live on this earth. But that wasn't the point. The end of our faith is not found on this earth. Paul told the Philipians as much in Philipians 3:20-4:1. The end of our faith is life with Christ.

It's an understatement to say that Jesus came teaching us how to live. As much as Jesus came to die as much if not more so than he lived to heal and transform giving us an example of how to live he came to die for us. He came teaching us how to die that we might live in him. Jesus came to give everything—to be totally depleted Luke 13:33. He came teaching us the truth that by dying in we might live both now today and always in Christ. Jerusalem was Jesus' goal—the city where he would meet his end; rejected like so many other prophets before Luke 13:34. He knew the end was coming in Jerusalem and He wouldn't go there until the very last moment Luke 13:35. Praise be that Jesus came to die and rise. Peace to you, John

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Alone with your Father Matthew 6:1-6;16-22

Have you ever watched an 8 or 9 months old child interacting with a loving mom or dad? Before speaking a single word babies express love and joy. Arms fly and feet kickout when someone special looks in their eyes and smiles. Grown people don't remember these early interactions; but just watch a young child and you will see the grand design: human beings were made for profound connections of joy and love.
Jesus, in Matthew 6:5-6, invites each believer into a personal space with God the Father. Jesus beckons--go be alone with the Father who loves you. Maybe you don't think you could bring joy to God the Father quite the way a 9 month old does--but just imagine the space of prayer that Jesus invites you to today as a space of joy. It was in the same space God the father rejoiced when you were very little. It's in that same space that Jesus invites you to go be alone with God the Father today. Go to be with the one who knows your name and who smiles just to be with you. Little ones rejoice when someone knows them and calls them by name. And Jesus invites you to be that close with God our Father.
Some argue not everyone can easily relate to God as a Father. Many fathers and mothers betray those they should to protect through abuse and neglect. And still Jesus calls us close to a God who deserves the name Father. Many struggle in relationships with distant parents who wrestle with addiction or mental illness. And knowing all the weaknesses of human parents Jesus still calls us to come close to the Father who loves and knows us who we can trust.
Martin Luther wrote about prayer explaining

prayers ought to be brief, frequent, and intense. For God does not ask how much and how long you have prayed, but how good the prayer is and whether it proceeds from the heart.

Therefore Christ says now: “Your heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask for it.” It is as if He would say: “What are you up to? Do you suppose that you will talk Him down with your long babbling and make Him give you what you need? There is no need for you to persuade Him with your words or to give Him detailed instructions; for He knows beforehand what you need, even better than you do yourself.” — Martin Luther, vol. 21, Luther’s Works, Vol. 21 : The Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, Luther’s Works, Mt 6:14 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1956). page 143
As you come close to the Father you'll learn the whole truth about who God is and who you are. You'll hear of God's love. You will hear words that challenge and inspire. He showed His love for each of us sending his own Son, his own flesh and blood, to die to save us.
Joy in Ash Wednesday On Ash Wednesday we hear Jesus' invitation to be alone with our Father. As you come close you will be fully known. You will learn God your Father isn't ok with everything you do. Don't be surprised if broken relationships and sins come up. Your Father loves you and delights in you; but there's a guarantee other things well change in value: the idols you've put first in your life--they will fall away as you come closer to the Father. When you come closer you will know the whole truth--you'll see your sins and the cross that over came them. You'll see your broken parts and the new life God has for you in Christ Jesus.
Your father will call you back to that first relationship of joy and hope. He will call you out of the addictions, compulsions, and behaviors that hurt you and others. He will call you out of troubled places into peace with him.
Peace to you, John.