Interactive Sermon

"Those who have the disease called Jesus will never be cured" ~Old Russian Proverb

Monday, April 23, 2007

New & Improved!

Give the new blog a look. I will be working this evening to get all the old links to point to the new location and to get the look just right. Looking forward to seeing you at the new Interactive Sermon blog!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ch Ch Ch Changes

Dear Friends: As you know we have been experiencing difficulties the last week with the blog and our blogging construct Blogger. Part of the issues stem from the size of this blog and Blogger's difficulty handling my site the way it is presently configured. I'm setting aside this coming week to make some thoroughgoing changes. We've begun work on a new launch for Interactive Sermon - one that, Lord willing, will be built from the start to handle present size and allow for all the future growth and expansion. So, (1) please pray for me and my learning curve where all the changes are concerned. (2) Please bear with me here for a few days while we get things up and running in the new format. (3) Please help me get the word out this week that Interactive Sermon is going 'big time'! Thanks for your prayers, concerns and patience. And, thanks for continuing the conversation with me. Stay tuned.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Preparing Our Hearts - Rewind

Okay, this time for real! If you prepared your heart last weekend by reading Matthew 5:21-48 and then were surprised when we didn't look at the text - I apologize. But my plan once again is for us to consider that passage, paying particular attention to the six 'You've heard it said... but I say unto you...' statements.

Shari is putting together an acoustic worship music set for us to enjoy.

I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

3 Chords & A Bunch Of Friends

Thanks to all of you who made the trip over to Shenanigans to support 3 Chords on Tuesday night. We're not really sure where the whole contest thing stands, I suppose we'll learn something from Randy who runs the thing at some point.

The most important thing is that we had a great time because so many of our friends came out and joined us. Thanks!

We're hoping to have some pictures, audio and video ready to share on the blog soon. In the meantime, here are some comments we heard about the evening.

A regular Shenanigans patron to Jim as we were leaving: "You guys are leaving this place better than you found it."

Another regular as we finished our set: "Thank you! You guys made me smile. I needed to smile today."

A woman in the doorway, repeated often, we think to Jesse... though maybe directed towards Dan or Jim: "Hey Curly! Hey Curly!"

A woman up on the bar level, hanging over the rail as we finished the Jimi Hendrix tune 'Fire': "You guys are @#$%^& awesome!"

One of the Christ's Church elders in attendance: "Maybe we should move our elders meetings over here."

A Christ's Church member who would like to remain anonymous: "All the (Christ's Church) drinkers are here."

Again, thanks to you all for coming out and sharing the evening with us. We look forward to seeing you again next time!

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Blogger Issues

Greetings friends! Just a quick note to let you know that the lack of new posts the last couple of days hasn't been intentional. Blogger Issues abound. We're working on it. Stay tuned. There are some pictures from Tuesday night's 3 Chords outing and a couple of scratch-your-head pieces on the launch-pad, but something is afoot corrupting postings at the moment. (As I hit 'publish' here in a moment, I'll hold my breath to see if this posts.) Thanks for your patience.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What A Great Collection Of Liars!

My wife lied to me. She said "I just think you ought to go and spend some time with your nephew Jimmy tonight. I'm just going to stay home."

My nephew lied to me. He said, "So, have you heard from your old friend Mark? I wonder where that guy is these days? What's it been, 10 years since we've seen him?"

My daughter lied to me. She said, "Dad, my dance class will let out at 9 tonight. I'll call you if the plan changes."

My wife lied to me some more. "I drove Katie to youth group at the church and left the lights on in the van. I have a dead battery - will you come and jump the van?"

The Bible says: Thou shalt not lie. You're all sinners.

Good news! Jesus paid the price for your deceit... and I benefited by it. I'm thankful to each and every one of you! I love you all!

Thanks to a wonderful church family for being in on the surprise, for all the help you offered Shari in pulling a fast one on me, for the wonderful cards and gifts - and for wading through rivers to share a very special evening with me.

Thanks to a wonderful Mom, Sister, and Nephew for hopping a flight to New Hampshire during the middle of our Nor'easter to surprise me.

Thanks to my old friend Mark for traveling to 'Seattle', and for being to my right on stage the other night... just like old times.

Thanks to my 3 Chords mates for surrounding me with real talent. Who was that bass player with the mullet? Does he own a van? Sign him up!

Thanks to the girls who spoke of 'big buts' and then donned big butts to bring me a smile (and for making everyone reading this blog who missed that scene wonder what in the world I am talking about!!!)

Thanks to my girls for the wonderful artwork and hard work in making this day for me. I love you all - and I am very proud of each of you.

Thanks to the love of my life Shari! You got me... my turn. I love you.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Preparing Our Hearts

Kathy and the music team are prepared to lead us in a great set of songs including a couple of great old hymns arranged by Aaron Shust and Chris Tomlin, as well as the favorite You're So Good and more.

If you would like an advance read of the texts we will consider on Sunday morning, give a look through Matthew 5:21-48 and pay particular attention to the many statements that read, "You have heard that it was said... but I say to you..." We will consider these texts in our pursuit of more clearly understanding Kingdom living.

What of your heart this week? Have you come down from the mountaintop of celebrating Jesus' resurrection last weekend to find that life has returned to normal? Come prepared to lend your heart, hands and voices to a great worship service this weekend. He will not fail to show up and fill your cup to overflowing.

I look forward to worshipping our Lord together Sunday morning at both 9 and 11AM! See you then.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

What's On My Mind?

Uh Oh! ~ Seems the 'Jesus Tomb' story is losing credibility about as fast as Titanic took on water. Give this article a glance.

Imus-sed Up ~ Let me get a handful of Imus thoughts off my chest. First, I think the comments Don Imus made were incomprehensible and I think he should expect to be suspended, or perhaps fired, possibly fined or sued, and at the very least lose a number of his sponsors and listeners. Second, while I do see a double standard - the fact that black rap artists like 50 Cent use the very same words that Don Imus used, and that is considered freedom of speech and artistic liberty - I think Imus' comments are different, because he applied them to a specific group of girls, whereas rap artists, for the most part, speak in general terms of "the ho' on the dance flo'" and so on. Third, I am continually surprised by the voices that come out on these kinds of stories. I think they should look in the mirror. Two of the loudest voices in the wake of Imus' comments are Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. When will Jesse Jackson apologize for referring to New York as 'Heimytown' or Al Sharpton apologize for his characterization of the Duke Lacrosse players as racists? Lastly, I wonder what value a genuine apology has anymore. I'm not an Imus fan. But, I have read and seen his apologies, and I think he appears genuine in his remorse. If he is, will it matter to society? I'd love to see the Rev's Al and Jesse give society a lesson in applying mercy and grace.

More snow coming... Chicago worst since 1957... North Dakota since 1945... Global warming... Global whining... Has anyone seen my copy of Al Gore's book?

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Easter Sunday Revisited

I spent the better part of Monday with a shop-vac. As I was de-confetti-ing the sanctuary, I had plenty of time to reflect on our Easter Sunday worship and celebration, and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts in answer to inevitable questions.

Why such a celebration? It is true that we worship a risen Savior every Sunday as a church family. Easter Sunday, however, has come to be associated with celebrating Jesus’ resurrection in particular. It struck me a few years ago that much of the church ‘goes through the religious motions’ on Easter, the same as on any other weekend. However, I firmly believe that if someone you loved died, and you buried them, and then a few days later they showed up at your door saying, ‘Yep, I was dead… but now I’m alive… do you have anything to eat?’ your response would likely be more demonstrative than saying, ‘gee, it’s good to see you again’. So, I have asked the worship team leaders and those who plan our services at Christ’s Church to be as creative as they can be to foster a real environment of celebration for us on Easter Sunday.

Why a confetti cannon? A few years ago I got the idea of adding a moment of surprise into our Easter celebration. I was thinking about that moment when Mary and the other women recognized a risen Jesus along the road, or when Peter recognized Jesus on the shore – that had to be a moment that caught them off-guard. So, in 2005 we rented a confetti cannon and fired it on the closing song and suffice to say people were caught off guard! For 2006, one of our engineering types built us a cannon of our very own (thanks again Jim!). I think it’s safe to assume we’re the only church in town with our own confetti cannon. The point has been simply that – surprise and celebration.

Why the music selection that was played this year? Each song was selected for a reason. The 70’s musical Godspell offered up ‘Prepare Ye’. It was chosen for a prelude of sorts to set the tone for the morning. Did you notice the progression? There was the horn fanfare followed by the solo proclamation, followed by the entire music team’s joining in. That’s a picture worth consideration. ‘Make A Joyful Noise/I Will Not Be Silent’ gives us a chance to say with our hands, hearts and voices what our souls would cry out in response to Jesus’ resurrection – and it functioned as a great kick-off song for the service, a favorite here at CCA. The two hymns ‘Christ The Lord Is Risen Today’ and ‘Crown Him With Many Crowns’ were chosen because it wouldn’t be an Easter celebration without the rich truth of those songs and the great heritage of their being a part of Easter worship celebrations. ‘You Are Holy/Prince Of Peace’ was selected for the proclamation of who Jesus is, and how we live in response to Him – and the manner of singing, splitting into parts and encouraging greater participation of the congregation. ‘My Redeemer Lives’ has become a standard Easter song at CCA. Just as it wouldn’t be Easter without the Easter hymns above, it wouldn’t feel like Easter at Christ’s Church without this anthem. As a postlude song, we selected ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ from the band U2. We realize that for many U2 represents ‘secular’ music, but that’s a conversation for another set of blog posts. We wanted a song that would take the text of Acts 1:10-11 to the next step – from our ‘looking to the skies’ to Jesus return. This song does that – it calls us to look forward. In all honesty, it was also added because it is a song that would catch a few of our visitors off guard and be familiar. Again, the philosophy behind that decision can be discussed some other time.

More thoughts on the music… Shari arranged horn parts for most of the songs, and we added in the trumpet and sax hoping to lend an added blessing – not only for our ears, but for the Lord’s ears. Thank you Shari, Patrick and Richard for your talents. It worked! What a blessing! God has blessed us with so many talented musical people – the talent to arrange music, play with skill, sing harmonies, and so on. Many thanks to Shari, Lisa, Caroline, Heather, Peter, Jimmy, Mike, Jesse and Dan. You rock! And, Kevin and Daniel in the booth – thank you!

Why the message from Acts 1? Each year I desire to look at the record of the resurrection from a slightly different angle. I spend time reading the account in the different gospels and mentions of the resurrection in different texts as a part of my own devotions leading up to Easter. This year we have been considering the Kingdom of God, and the mention of Jesus continuing to teach on that theme after His resurrection and those last couple of verses I mentioned earlier – looking skyward, etc – led me to go with this text this year. It seemed to fit our overall study series pretty well.

Beyond the obvious desire to worship the Lord and celebrate His resurrection, what are my hopes for the aftermath of this kind of a service? After the service I spoke with many people. One grandfather told me about a conversation he had with his grandson about the celebration. A first-time visitor told me with tears in her eyes, ‘I really needed that!’ A family visiting from Mt. Vernon said to me, ‘We were told that we had to visit Christ’s Church on Easter by some friends of ours’. (So, we have a reputation, eh?) And I’m willing to bet that several others drove out of the parking lot asking, ‘What was that?’ and if that’s the case, I say AMEN! To all of it, I say AMEN! I am under no illusion – what I say for the most part on Sunday mornings will go in one ear and out the other, and that’s probably a very good thing! But, where people are given an opportunity to talk about Jesus or to think further about Jesus, or in some cases challenged to simply rethink Jesus, that is what I hope for. And I believe this can be a great service for you to utilize in conversation. You can seize the opportunity to dialogue with people about all the things I’ve written above, and your thoughts on those items. Conversation that leads to life – ‘generative conversation’ as I call it – is communicating Christ along the way.

I welcome your thoughts and reflections – and particularly your stories if you had any interesting experiences or conversations related to our Easter service. Click comments and post away!

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Preparing Our Hearts

Nothing special planned. A normal worship service. And if you believe that...

Shari and the music team have a great set of music ready to go to rightly celebrate Jesus' resurrection. There are some standards, some new standards, and some surprises all worked in. I hope that you'll come ready to loudly sing along!

If you want an advance look at the text we will consider, give Acts 1:1-11 a read - and really you can visit the end of each of the gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - to be on the same page with me in the morning.

Remember: Tomorrow morning we will only have one worship service at 11am. The Board of Elders will be serving a full-course breakfast between 9 and 10am. I hope that you will consider coming over for breakfast before the service. Hallelujah! He is risen! He is risen indeed!

You know that I look forward to gethering with you to worship tomorrow morning!


The Big Buts of Passion Week

Saturday 4.7.07
Read Matthew 27:62-66

No buts about it. Matthew’s gospel is the only one of the four that gives us any mention of that Saturday. He doesn’t mention any of Jesus’ followers. We can only imagine that theirs was a very sad and confusing Sabbath. I wonder if they were thinking back over their experiences with Jesus. Perhaps they recalled the occasions of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 16:21, 17:9, 17:22-23, 20:18-19 and 26:32. Perhaps they didn’t. We don’t know.

What we do know is that the most ‘religious’ people of that day – the religious leaders – spent the Sabbath trying to insure that they’d heard the last of this controversial Rabbi. Matthew records that they were busy petitioning Pilate to post a guard at the tomb. Note their words: ‘we remember that while he was still alive the deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again’.

Interesting, isn’t it, that we have no record of the followers of Jesus comforting one another with reminders of His words, while we find those who plotted against Him mobilized in response to His teachings that sad Sabbath day.

Father, will you speak to my heart today? Will you foster an expectation? Not only the expectation of a Risen Savior, but also an expectation of my walking anew with my Risen Savior, will you awaken my heart to sing and my life to move in concert with the promises of Jesus? Will you not only remind me of those promises on good days, but especially and dark and difficult days? Will you turn sadness to hallelujahs in my life?

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Friday, April 06, 2007

The Big Buts of Passion Week

Friday 4.6.07
Read Matthew 27:32-61, Mark 15:1-47, Luke 22:66-23:51, John 18:28-19:42

Who called this day ‘good’? It wasn’t Judas. He was tormented by the decision that he had made to betray Jesus. It wasn’t Pilate. He had been bullied into crucifying a man in whom he found no fault. It wasn’t Jesus’ disciples. Those who loved Him watched in horror. It wasn’t the religious leaders. The scripture records that when Jesus died the temple veil was torn in two, and the religious leaders immediately began to worry about Jesus’ claims that He would return from the grave. It wasn’t Jesus. For our Savior there was nothing good about ‘Good Friday’. The ‘buts’ of this Friday tell the story.

Had the Kingdom come? Pilate pointed out to Jesus, ‘your people and your chief priests handed you over to me.’ Jesus replied, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were my servants would fight… but, my kingdom is from another place.’ Jesus continued, ‘But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of Almighty God.’ Pilate found no fault in Him and desired to set Jesus free. We’re told that the crowd wouldn’t accept that. ‘But the crowd shouted all the louder ‘Crucify Him!’

As they prepared to crucify Jesus a couple of more ‘buts’ of interest appear. They offered Jesus a mixture of wine and myrrh, historians tell us that this was a common practice to lessen the pain of the crucifixion, ‘but He did not take it’. Then John records that the leaders of the Jews and the people were angered by the sign placed above Jesus’ head that read ‘King of the Jews’. They protested, ‘don’t make it read ‘King of the Jews’ but rather ‘This man claimed he was the King of the Jews’.

Finally as Jesus’ death approached the crowds continued mocking, ‘He claims that he is the Savior, but he cannot save Himself’. We’re told that even one of the thieves condemned alongside Jesus mocked Him, ‘but the other criminal’ we’re told, cried out to Jesus, ‘remember me when you come into your Kingdom’.

That’s a lot of big ‘buts’ and there were a number of others in the record that I haven’t mentioned. What do we make of the bold proclamation of Jesus that His Kingdom is not of this world, and that He would be seated on the right hand of God the Father? Is this the Kingdom and King we serve? What do we make of the fact that voices that shouted ‘Hosanna’ on Sunday, by Friday were shouting ‘Crucify Him!’ all the louder? How does the fact that Jesus refused the offer to lessen His suffering as they offered Him a sedative at the foot of the cross touch you? Does it strike you that the religious leaders saw Jesus’ as having clearly claimed to be their King, but that they so violently rejected Him? What of the claims that Jesus could not save Himself in that moment? What of the different perspectives of the two men condemned with Jesus – one who essentially said, ‘Do something for me if you’re who you say you are!’ and the other who simply pleaded, ‘Remember me, Jesus!’

I believe that as you wrestle with these questions you will find that what was accomplished in the words on that Friday, testified to in the words ‘it is finished!’, was good.

Father, will you clarify for me the good news of Good Friday? Will you bless me with a deeper understanding of your love, manifest to me in the events of that day?

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Big Buts of Passion Week

Thursday 4.5.07
Read Matthew 26:17-75, Mark 14:12-72, Luke 22:7-56

Thursday of this ‘Passion Week’ was a very eventful day as recorded in the gospels. The Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ arrest, Peter’s denials, and the beginning of Jesus’ hearings, round out the day.

Tucked in among all the day’s events is a meaningful exchange between Jesus and His disciples about greatness. It begins, we’re told, as a dispute among the disciples as to which of them would be considered the greatest. Jesus weighed in with a lesson chock-full-of-buts. Gentile leaders, he began, lord their authority over their subjects, ‘but you are not to be like that’.

Jesus introduces more of those Kingdom paradoxes – the least will be the greatest, the servant will be ruler. He asks His disciples a question: ‘Who is greater, the one at the table or the one who serves?’ The answer, most certainly, is the one who is at the table being served. Jesus continues, however, ‘but I am among you as one who serves!’ Jesus turns the tables on the norm of society.

How do these teachings strike you? How have you viewed the exercise of authority? How have you viewed greatness? Can you imagine leadership and authority that is characterized by serving? Greatness that is characterized by such humility? In these things we would resemble our Savior.

Father, will you forgive me where my selfishness has ruled my thoughts and actions? Would you give me a greater measure of grace to consider others better than myself and opportunities to serve others? Would you help me to see the blessing of giving my life away? Would you be glorified in me?

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Going To Church On Easter Sunday?

Are you planning to go to church on Easter Sunday? Plan to have the right apparel and equipment with you when you go.

For some folks going to church on Easter will mean getting their Sunday suit pressed.

For others it means heading out to the local department store and picking up just the right Easter dress. Why here's a beauty. Precious will look... well, precious in this little number!

Most folks will want to bring their Bibles with them. They will want to underline important words and dog-ear key pages so they can look back over them when they get home.

And don't forget a cool highlighter to mark important words... like 'but', while the preacher preaches!

There is at least one church in Southern New Hampshire, where if you are planning to CELEBRATE the resurrection of the Lord, extra considerations may be in order.

Accessorizing, for instance, might include a set of these...

...and a pair of these...

...and maybe one of these...

...and you may want to have a few of these.

See you on Easter Sunday when we will CELEBRATE the resurrection of our Lord! He is risen!

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The Big Buts of Passion Week

Wednesday 4.4.07
Read John 12:20-36

The record of scripture remains somewhat silent concerning the particular events of Wednesday. As His date with the cross drew closer, Jesus continued to prepare His disciples for what lay ahead.

‘Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds'. This passage begins with Jesus declaration that ‘the time has come’. Contrast this with the many occasions during His earthly ministry where He proclaimed the time had not yet come (see Luke 2:4, 7:6-8, 30, 8:20 for examples). It winds up being a parable of Jesus’ own work – through His death the doors of salvation are thrown open and the seed of the gospel takes root in many lives. Jesus then follows this statement with more paradoxes: loves his life will lose it, hates his life will keep it, and so on. And Jesus completes the thought by assuring us that it is for this very purpose that God sent Him into the world, and a supernatural testimony accompanied Jesus’ testimony.

Jesus continues, ‘But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself’. In these words Luke tells us that Jesus was referring to the manner of His death (crucifixion) and perhaps also His ascension. He went on to dialogue with the people over these things. We see that the people had trouble reconciling Jesus’ prediction of His impending death with their expectations of the Messiah.

As you look through this text today, consider the manner in which you have beheld Christ’s death. Do you recognize that Jesus’ suffering was not just some unfortunate injustice in history, but rather the necessary plan of God the Father to reconcile you to Him? Have you responded to Christ’s being lifted up? Are you drawn to Him? Are you willing to let go of your expectations of a Messiah in favor of genuinely embracing THE Messiah?

Father, thank you for revealing your love to me in Jesus, I need Him. Will you stir my affections for Jesus? Will you deepen my appreciation for your work in meeting my need and reconciling my soul to you?

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Big Buts of Passion Week

Tuesday 4.3.07
Read Matthew 21:23-24:51, Mark 11:27-13:37, Luke 20:1-21:36

Tuesday found Jesus teaching in the temple, and controversy continuing to mount. ‘By what authority do you do these things?’ the religious leaders protested. In responding to them, Jesus turned to His preferred teaching method – parables.

Jesus told the religious leaders that there was a man with two sons, and the father directed them both to go and work in his vineyard. The first son replied ‘I will not! But later he changed his mind and went’. The second son, we’re told, told his father, “I will go, sir. But he did not go’. Jesus asked the leaders which son did what his father desired. They rightly answered that the son who went to work in the vineyard pleased his father. And then, like the blunt force of a hammer, Jesus applied the parable to his audience, warning ‘I tell you the truth: tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of Heaven before you.’

In another parable, Jesus tells them of a landowner who planted a vineyard and hired tenants to oversee its operation. In Mark’s gospel the story turns on a couple of big ‘buts’. The landowner sent a servant to check on the progress and to bring back some of the fruits of the harvest, ‘but they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty handed’. Other servants were killed. So finally the landowner sent his son, expecting that they would respect him. ‘But the tenants said to one another: This is the heir. Let’s kill him and the inheritance will be ours’. Jesus again concluded by asking the religious leaders what a just outcome of this story should be. They rightly answered that the owner had every right to come and kill those tenants and give the land to others more deserving. And just as quickly as before, Jesus applied the parable to his hearers.

On which side of these ‘buts’ do you find yourself standing? Are you like the son who speaks respectfully, ‘I will go, sir’, but then act with indifference towards the Father? Are you like the religious leaders who cherish the benefits of the Kingdom but live with contempt towards the King? He who has ears, let him hear.

Father: Will you draw me deeper into relationship with you through these teachings? Will you forgive me where I’ve been slow to follow after you? Will you restore me again?

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Monday, April 02, 2007

The Big Buts of Passion Week

Monday 4.2.07
Read Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:11, 15-18, Luke 19:45-48

Matthew, Mark and Luke record for us the events of that Monday, including the passage commonly referred to as ‘the cleansing of the temple’. Notice that Mark uses the word ‘but’ to set the stage for us, recording that Jesus actually went to the temple and looked around on Sunday, ‘but since it was already late, he went to Bethany’, and returned the next morning.

It is hard to imagine the scene in the temple that day. What did it look like that Jesus ‘began driving out those who were buying and selling’ and ‘overturning the tables of the money changers’? You have to conclude that it was sheer chaos as Jesus went about the temple court. It must have been offensive to those who were ‘regulars’; religious life as they knew it was being turned upside down.

All three gospel writers record Jesus using a big ‘but’ to clarify the offense: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it a den of robbers’.

Here are some interesting observations: First, note that Jesus took issue with the money changers, but that the practice of exchanging money in the temple was necessary – as people traveled from other regions they needed the correct coinage to pay temple taxes and make offerings. Secondly, note that the service of providing doves and other animals for sacrifice was needed as well. Some traveled for many miles, and bringing sacrificial animals with you on that kind of a journey was next to impossible. So for Jesus to describe the place as a den of robbers strongly suggests that abuses were taking place with the exchange of money and the provision of sacrificial animals. Third, don’t miss the mention of these things taking place in the court of the Gentiles and the mention of God’s intention that His be a house ‘for all nations’. These abuses were taking place under the watchful eyes of, and thereby likely deterring, genuine seekers.

When Jesus takes residence in our hearts there is a similar reckoning to take place – His calling our attention to those things that are not consistent with our new identity in Him. It can feel just as chaotic. Overturning standards that have become ingrained and driving out old affections will bring a certain shock.

Luke records that Jesus returned to the temple each day that week to teach. In other words, He didn’t sweep out the old and leave a vacuum, but rather He came in with right teaching to help those who were genuinely there to know, more fully, their God. Don’t miss the last big ‘but’ of this story: many benefited from Jesus’ daily teachings, ‘but the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people’ determined to kill Him.

How do you respond when the Lord shows you pieces of your life that are not consistent with your identity in Christ? Do you allow Him to overturn them and sweep them out, or do you rebel against Him?

Father: Would you shine your light on my heart? Will you show me those things that are lesser affections that I need to let go of and those things that are obstacles in my relationship with you? Will you give me the grace I need to see these things as you see them, and then the strength to let them go?

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Big Buts of Passion Week

Sunday 4.1.07
Read Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-19

All four of the gospels record Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem. With little variance – though some variance should be expected, just as four different reporters covering a news event would differ slightly in their accounts – the gospel writers record Jesus arriving on a donkey to the cheers of crowds that gathered to form a welcome fit for a king. This scene, reminiscent of the prophet Zechariah’s foretelling as Matthew and John noted in their gospels, was a pretty clear testament to Jesus’ identity. The cries of ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’ were a clear proclamation from the people that they had gathered to welcome their king. But…

Luke is the only gospel writer who records Jesus’ lament over what He sees. Jesus saw the city and its jubilation and said ‘If only you knew what would bring you peace, but now it is hidden from your eyes.’

What do you make of this? As you read the different accounts, you find throngs of people shouting words of acclamation. You see people taking the garments off of their backs and laying them on the road before Jesus. You see them waving palm branches. The excitement of the people did not correspond to a genuine embrace of the Lord. You know that in just a matter of days these same crowds will be shouting ‘Crucify Him!’

What characterizes your welcoming your King? Is it gathering amidst shouts of acclamation? Is it the sacrifice of giving the shirt off your back? Is it the practice of raising and waving your hands in praise? It needs to be more. Better – it needs to run deeper.

Recognize that your King doesn’t come to bring you peace – rather He is your peace. Recognize that the things of religious devotion – say, shouts of praise, acts of benevolence and expressive worship – matter not if your heart is not subject to your King.

Father: Will you forgive me where the shouts and external displays of my life exceed my inward devotion to you? Will you help me to know real peace in Jesus? May ‘hosannas’ and ‘hallelujahs’ be the overflow of my heart!

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