The Light

Nope, perhaps not a video you’d expect to find on this blog, but I’ve been a lover of all kinds of music for my entire life.  Recently I was listening to some random songs and “The Light” by Disturbed came up in the playlist.  As I listened to the lyrics, I thought of how truthful these words truly are.

When you think all is forsaken,
Listen to me now
You need never feel broken again
Sometimes darkness can show you the light.

As we begin our celebrations of Christmas today, we are reminded of the birth of Jesus into a fallen, dark world.  Jesus, the one who brings us light and hope, shines brightly in the darkness.  In our own lives, think back to a dark time in your life, one where you walked away from God or where you didn’t know him yet.  Sometimes that darkness is what shows us need for the light of Jesus.

The truth is waiting there for you to find it
It’s not a blight, but a remedy,

In your dark times when you’re feeling lost, the truth is there just waiting for you to seek it out.  The darkness will amplify the light that shines in God’s love for us.   We often seek our own solutions to our problems, or when tragedy strikes, we can turn to hide our sorrows in drugs, alcohol or some other addiction.  Those, while seeming to be comforting at first, is never the answer we are looking for and often leads to further tragedy.

The answer isn’t where you think you’d find it
Prepare yourself for the reckoning

The birth of Jesus brought a light to this world.  His birth and life lead right to Easter, his death on the cross.

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock.  Then at that time Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  – Mark 15:33-34

Darkness literally fell across the world.  Through the darkness, we see the awesomeness of Jesus and his resurrection.

With the light of Jesus, now we never need to feel broken again.  The darkness has shown us the light and we never have to live in darkness again!

Merry Christmas!

Walk with Jesus

I’m on a vacation this week from work.  We are not going away to the beach or going camping or anything like that.  We’re just hanging out around home and going about life as normal for the most part.  Oh, we’ll take little day trips here and there, take the kids to the zoo, maybe go to the lake for a while to fish….things like that, but no big, headed out of state, vacation.  We’re going to take life as it comes this week.

We live and work in such a high-paced society that even when we are to “relax” on vacation, the pace is still hectic.  We never get a chance to just unwind.  This week I want to unwind and walk with Jesus as he walked with the two men to Emmaus.

At church we’ve been going through a teaching series of “Where have we met Christ in our lives?”, and this week we talked about Luke 24:13-34.  I won’t repeat it all here, go read it, but let me lay out some background for you.  It’s the day of the Resurrection and two of Jesus’ followers are walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem.  Jesus appears to them (though they did not recognize him yet as they were so focused on their own problems and disappointments) and begins to walk and talk with them.  These men failed to realize that Christ’s suffering was his path to glory.  So Jesus spends the rest of the time on the walk to teach them Scripture and how it all leads to Jesus.

So let’s step back from this a moment and think about it.  Here are these two guys, one who is not named (the other we find out is named Cleopas) and their only supposed mention in all of the Bible is in the parallel story in Mark 16.  We know nothing about their background, other than they were followers of Jesus before his crucifixion.  They are walking to a small village 7 miles away from where they start.  Jesus appears and they begin to talk with and eventually be taught by Jesus.  How long does it take to walk 7 miles?  Probably a couple hours if walking at a normal speed, but let’s slow that down a bit since they were having a deep conversation, so let’s suppose it takes them 4 hours.

So there was Jesus, on the biggest day of his ministry…..the day he defeated death and he is spending 4 hours talking with two seemingly random people.  Jesus, could have just appeared to them and said “I am Jesus, the son of the living God, resurrected from death to wash away your sins” and the effect would have been the same and taken a lot less time.  He could have been on appearing to more people and those two travelers could have ran back to Jerusalem to spread the good news that much quicker…..but no, Jesus took the time to just talk with them, to walk with them, to teach them.   I think Jesus like’s the relationship.

I’ve often prayed for a quick answer from God, only to have it take a long time.  I’ve often wished that God would just pump all kinds of wisdom into my head and then I’d have all the answers, but it doesn’t work like that does it.  God takes us on a journey, because he likes the relationship we develop with him.  He likes those long conversations we have with him.  He likes being by our side on those slow long walks to Emmaus.

With our hectic and fast-paced lives we lead, we don’t take the time to have long talks or long walks.  We don’t have time to build relationships with people.   We don’t take the time spend long quiet evenings sitting on the porch just taking in all of God’s creation.   If we’re lucky we try to squeeze a few minutes in the morning for a quick prayer or maybe one before bed at night.   We may have a few minutes to read a few verses of the Bible, if we’re lucky and can squeeze it in somewhere.  We don’t have time for those long walks to Emmaus.

Jesus wants a relationship with you.  He’s not about increasing his number of followers just to look at the total headcount.  He wants to look at us when we meet him in heaven and say “Jason, my old friend, you’re home at last.”  or “Denise, our long journey together is finished, we’ve reached our destination.”

I plan this week off from work to take a slow long walk to my Emmaus with Jesus.

He is Risen!

Cole,_Thomas_-_Cross_at_Sunset_-_c._1848_“He is risen”…..”He is risen indeed!”  Mostly likely this Easter Sunday you’ll hear those words over and over again.  I’ve seen them multiple times this morning already on social media sites.  Those incredible three words, “He is risen”, have such a profound effect on our lives and our world since they were uttered 2000+ years ago.  I’ve felt led today to think more upon them instead of just reciting them.

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. – Matthew 28:6

My study Bible points out in it’s notes how this verse is key to the Christian faith for a number of reasons:

  1. Jesus promised that he would rise from the dead.   This would have seemed like an impossible promise to keep by many of his followers, even those that witnessed him raising others out of death.  But, as always, he fulfilled his promise.  We can be confident, therefore, that he will accomplish all that he promises.  This gives us great hope.
  2. Jesus’ bodily resurrection shows us that the living Christ is ruler of God’s eternal Kingdom, not a false prophet or impostor.   There were many that claimed to be the messiah over the years, many whom even had quite a following, and a few that have even been the basis of major world religions.  Jesus has a unique factor among all of them.  He is the only one, who has conquered death itself.  He is the master over death.  He alone reigns over his Kingdom.
  3. We can be certain of our resurrection, death is not the end.  Jesus told his disciples that he was going ahead to make a place for them.  The scripture promises us life everlasting and new heavenly bodies when we join Jesus in Heaven.  We have eternity to spend with Jesus for those that believe.
  4. The power that brought Jesus back to life is available to us to bring our spiritually dead selves back to life.  We as sinners are separated from God.  We are broken spiritually.  The blood of Christ, upon the cross, paid the penalty that we deserve for our sins.  Because Jesus took that sin upon himself and paid the price and conquered death, the debt has been paid and we can now come into the presence of God.  Our spiritual selves have been resurrected with Christ.  He has risen, and so have our spirits been raised from sin.
  5. The Resurrection is the basis for the church’s witness to the world.  Jesus was so much more than a human leader or a great teacher.  He is literally the Son of God.  He didn’t just spend his time hear on earth teaching, or leading, or writing down his wisdom as many other “founders” of major religions.  No he lived a sinless life, paid our debt with his life, then rose from the dead, giving us true hope.  Jesus did what no other religious leader had done before or after.

Remember what those three words, “He is Risen” mean when you hear them today.  Such powerful meaning in such a short phrase.

Everyone have a blessed Easter!

HE IS RISEN!