Sunday, March 28, 2010

Notes from my teaching on Palm Sunday:
Matthew 21:1-11


As they approached Jerusalem

It is time for the sacrifice of Jesus life for the sins of the world to proceed.
He will enter Jerusalem in fulfillment of the plan of God.
He will stir the crowd and send a message all at once.
The crowd stirred in his favor will enter into the timing of His death…for the rulers of the city who want to kill him…also want the crowds favor. He will be able to do some final things in those days that otherwise might not have been possible.
So he will ride into the city….
-interesting…that is the way conquerors did…after a significant battle…to the cheers and acclaim of everyone…to the honoring of the city…
*Napoleon…the General and Emperor of his time in France (mid 1700-mid1800) – was famous and to this day (Louvre) painted with hand in his vest…mounted on a white stallion…he was a little man and did everything he could to appear larger than life….

Not so with Jesus - he approached Jerusalem…..
and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives,
Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,
“Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her.
Untie them and bring them to me.
If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

Bethphage…a very small suburb of Jerusalem..legally tied to the city
We are talking blocks of walking today…not miles…..
And it seems very likely that Jesus might have arranged this in advance.
A donkey was worth up to two years in income to purchase.
The colt would have probably never been ridden on.
No further explanation than the Lord has need…was needed. A code?

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
“Say to the Daughter of Zion,
See your king comes to you,
Gentle and riding on a donkey,
On a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

What is transpiring is fulfilling prophetic words spoken over the city…
Daughter of Zion…the people of Jerusalem

6 – The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.
7 – They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.
So cloaks are placed on both animals…and other texts of this event tell us, Jesus sat on the foal…
Not a fully grown animal…but a gentle, young, never ridden beast.

8 – A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
-Palm branches…and cloaks begin to turn the dusty road into a kingly, colorful, verdant pathway…
-it is a busy and noisy event….spontaneous, filled with excitement, cries and waving arms…children and adults…
Lasted only a short time (several hours?)
…only a short distance
…but while it did it was truly an exclamation point…the event of the day indeed

9 – the crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Hosanna in the highest!”
- It is here that we start to see a contrast….
- Hosanna….God save us
- Son of David…the qual of a King
They were looking for strength…
for rescue from the heel of Roman occupation
They were looking for miracles to change their lives
They were ready to shout for one who could deliver the goods…and bring change.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
:11 – The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Galilee…where so much of His ministry had unfolded…..

The whole city was stirred….it was abuzz – with the thought of temporal relief.

And Jesus…
1. Came to fulfill the word of God…
2. Came to face the wrath of the devil and his host…and it would kill him
3. Came to bring change to people but only from the inside out
4. Not with any appearance of power…but gentle, meek, riding an unbroken animal…
It was the ultimate fulfillment of his promise at the start of it all…
Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden
…and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn of me,
for I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest for your souls.

The crowd that day did well to praise Him…but were motivated selfishly.
*We get that way too….we come here and take inventory of ourselves as to whether, how and how much we will praise Him and worship…whether we will give him our full attention and be lavish in our praise or whether we will just sing songs….and never really lose sight of ourselves.

Let’s imagine it is Palm Sunday all over again…
And we are the crowd…
But there is this huge difference….
we know who He is…and what is going to happen
….and that what does happen will change the world and millions of people in it forever
….and I do mean forever.

So we worship him…
To thank him for his gentleness that lets us near.
To thank him for his sacrifice that sets us free.
To thank him for his unswerving obedience that makes Him the Lord we can follow.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


March 25 - Thursday


She was born with endless challenges....all 4lb 4oz of her.

She was surrounded by expert care immediately.

She lived for 48 hours and 12 minutes...
the last five hours in the arms and tender love of Sarah and Micah

They dedicated her to Jesus...
...and then she quietly said, "gotta go now."

And went into eternity and the presence of our Lord

I've wondered for hours about what her assignment there will be.

Will she be a tiny angel?
...a cherub-like aide?
...or will the Lord take her tiny earthy frame and fashion something entirely surprising out of it. Something that will fill us with awe.

Who knows.

God does.

He's been watching her all along...

"You shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
..bit by bit I was sculpted from nothing into something.

Like an open book,
you watched me grow from conception to birth;
All the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day..."*
...or two.

See you again Gracie.

Can't wait to see the rest of His plan.


*Psalm 139 - The Message

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mary Easter

Sunday - March 21, 2010

Mary Easter

Spoke today from the text of John 11:54-12:8

I encourage you to read it all.

1. This was an increasingly dangerous season for Jesus. He is heading towards a brutal death...and will be arrested on sight.
2. The veracity of Lazarus resurrection was contributing greatly to making #1 happen.
3. "Six days before the Passover" - was very parallel to when we met this morning
4. "Reclining at table" - down on one forearm, eating with the other arm and hand
5. "Feet" - would be easily accessible..not under the table like ours!

As we proceeded we examined two basic pre-easter responses to our Lord and His impending trial and death:

1. The Mary response -:3
-the costliness of the nard - from 2500 miles away, family heirloom?
..from parallel texts we discovered it was worth a year's wages
-the entirety of the expression - breaking the alabaster jar and pouring it all out on Him
-the humility of it all - feet and hair - with broken words of love?
-the result - fragrance for everyone...prophetic annointing over Jesus
-a common supper that becomes a holy sanctuary

2. The Judas response - :4-6
-counting the cost...and recounting, and imagining other options than lavish love...
-waving smoke to cover reality..."could we not have...."
-behind it all: a pattern of yieldedness to escalating sin
...the verses show:
Step one: helping yourself to what noone will miss
Step two: on and on...till you are known(especially to self)as "thief"
Step three: using righteous motive "the poor" to cover your malice
Step four: finally...outright betrayal of our Lord
...for just a little more cash, of course

The Mary Response: extravagent, costly, risky, from the heart, given humbly, and backing into the prophetic..and still celebrated even to this day!

The Judas Response: calculating, dishonest, as little as possible, covering with false motives, sinful...and finally fatal. To be avoided at all cost...hmm.

We noted on this day when 5 children were dedicated to the Lord, that none were named Judas...but that many of us bear the name Mary as part of our heritage or person...the show of hands was impressive.

So the challenge went out to us all to have a Mary Easter....
1. Listen to what the Lord will say to you - ask Him if He has a plan for you.
2. Do something lavish and surprising for someone that is in need.
3. Watch this Easter season light up.



Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Returned late Monday from a weekend in Grand Junction. Good time. Ministered three times and all seemed to be very deeply received. Ted and Tami Miller and the staff and people at Grand Junction First are doing it well.

As we pulled away from the city, I checked my e-mail and had a point of feedback.
Someone had identified deeply with something I shared about my journey. What I had shared in the first service, was a statement made to me by someone I deeply respected at a very vulnerable time in my life. It was shared in jest, but it wounded me, drained the blood out of my face at the time - and appeared again and again in bad dreams. It was a blight on my self-identity for a very long time...until Jesus set me free.

This person, hearing my account, was led to immediately identify with an 18 year struggle of similar proportions in her life. "God spoke to me and told me I have to forgive her and let it go."

I was blessed to receive the feedback...and know that God was using things shared to bring substantial change to people listening. Substantial enough that they would communicate with a whole page written with immediacy.

And I reflected on how I had not shared that illustration in the second that story in fact, had come to mind rather suddenly, not the result of notes or prior planning. And how I had gone a bit deeper and more vulnerably with it than before. Seemed so much like I had been led by the Spirit not just happening to strike a chord in someone because I had shared it over and over. Hmm.

Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. Romans 8:14

Ah, that says it is our priviledge as God's children to be led by Him. All of us, led by God...

We all would like to be led by the hand...or a clear, printed, set of directions - but so often we end up being led and not even being aware of it (like on Sunday), being nudged, having our attention drawn in certain ways, having something "on our hearts" that just won't stop sitting there, a "good idea" turns into a God idea, a "makes sense" becomes the wisdom from above, and a person's look at us becomes the gaze of God Himself. It happens all the time. God is endlessly creative and endlessly able to do what it takes to lead us forward.

Sometimes we can be led by having natural responses go strange....I wrote in the book I am putting together about the lady that shared that she was driving in upstate New York and in mid-day got so weary that she pulled off the road....and just then an accident occured right before her.

God had made her tired, to show her His mercy. is a gentle, quiet, experimental thing. is a surprising, often humbling, rejoicing thing.

You...who are part of God's Family...are being led by the Spirit of God.




Friday, March 12, 2010

The Flame

March 12, 2010


Just got off the phone with my sister.

I called her to talk over an incident in our lives that occured many years ago at a summer camp on Vancouver Island, off the west coast of Canada.

I've mentioned this encounter with God in an earlier blog, but now some of the details are more complete.

My sister Judy was eight.

Laurie Price, a great revivalist, was preaching the evenings.

My Dad was speaking in the mornings.

God was moving on all of us.

One evening Laurie extended the invitation for people to be filled with the Holy Spirit and my sister "was too shy to respond...
...until I suddenly found myself going to the altar and beginning to pray."

God moved on her rather profoundly and after a time, she began speaking in a language that she had no idea of.

Near her was a lady, Jessie Wong, a missionary to China. Home on furlough, she had become so discouraged she had spoken to some of not returning to the place of her ministry.

As she overheard Judy speaking, she understood her to be saying:
"Don't worry.
I am with you..."
(and more words of encouragement).
Judy remembers the language to have been identified as Cantonese.

Jessie called my father over and spoke with him, sharing this story. Needless to say, this experience for many was truly life-giving.

So the Holy Spirit was filling a child, speaking through her to an adult, and in that process blowing fresh winds of encouragement on everyone.

Come, Holy Spirit.

"Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame:
The baptism of the heav'n-descended Dove -
My heart an altar and Thy love the flame."*



*Verse 4 of Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Catching up

Tuesday, march 9, 2010


As of today...5812 hits on this site. Way to go everyone!

A great response to the Acts and Doctrine blog - with a 13-page paper attached...thanks Mark...I read the paper and it was superb!

Jackie and I had a wonderful weekend in Silverthorne Colorado...stayed in a marvellous home, ministered 3 times...first time to have someone request that the Friday evening session be repeated on Sunday morning (they had already tried what we suggested and it was working)...we did and so spoke on two themes in the time allotted.
What a great congregation - thanks Rick and Marietta.

Arrived home Sunday night to crash a family party going on...with 9 already having a blast. It was fun - at Brad and Amy's home. Thanks for the visit Cami and for bringing Rach and Evan with you!! What a feast of cousin mania! Mud pies, wie sports, must have jam moments, kids flicks.

Monday..the day spent with family and everyone around our table for supper...(except Huisingas - sorry for the bug Carson!) Trying to catch breath from it all, but it is great. And today most will head to the zoo...and then eat out.

Then it is back to serious a snatch today? or for sure in earnest tomorrow. Easy to put off...but it does take Spiritually alive, mentally ready focus to do well with. Seventeen writing days left to the deadline. Thanks for your prayers. Seven of 11 chapters through first write.

Been reading Romans lately...and this advice from chapter 13 (The Message) rings particiularly relevant to this rambling blog...
"Make sure that you don't get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God...Be up and wake to what God is doing!
God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed...
(so)dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!"

Staying alert and in Christ - with you.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Acts and Doctrine

Friday March 5, 2010


So the conversation goes this way:

Pro -
Well, these accounts in the book of Acts all seem to be saying a similar thing, so I am going to take that as truth for the church for all time - doctrinal underpinning for my life.

Con -
Can't do that, because the Book of Acts is a historical book and you can't develop doctrine from experiences.

Pro -
But this is the word of God and He has given this to us....remember the statement "all scripture is profitable for....doctrine?"

Con -
Yes, but He has given us books that are specificially doctrinal, teachings of the Apostles, setting down truths for the church specifically.

Ever had one of these conversations?

I did when a student at Wheaton College. It was a center of questing for truth so the converstions were passionate.

So when I came across the writings of George Eldon Ladd...then the dean of New Testament scholars - anchor mind at Fuller Seminary - now gone home to be with was a huge deal.

Here was his thinking, and he wrote copiously and brilliantly about the whole of the New Testament. (As a church planter said to me Wednesday over coffee..."One of the clearest, most progressive thinkers ever.")

In Ladd's book, THE YOUNG CHURCH (Abingdon, 1964) he explores the nature of the book of Acts as "just history."

He adequately defends Luke's historical accuracy....but then explores Luke's historic completeness and there...well, let me quote him:

"Strictly speaking, Acts does not record the acts of the apostles. Where are the acts of Matthias? Where are the acts of John?....And Peter...the last mention of him in Acts 15:7 echoes the problem of the modern student: "there was no small stir...what had become of Peter?" (12:18) We are still asking the same question. As for the other apostles, apart from Peter, James and John...not one of them is mentioned in the book again." pp.10-11

If I were to cite all the things that Ladd mentions about Luke's interesting and selective history, this blog would set a new record for length. But here is how he sums up, again in brief.

"Luke is obviously not trying to write a detailed history of Paul's movements. His selection of historical data is so controlled by a distinctive purpose that he has left scholars with nearly insoluble problems in correlating the data of Acts with the epistles." p.12

"It is clear that Acts intends to be an historical record; yet it is not a record of history for its own sake but history with a purpose, history that tells a story. If this purpose includes a theological viewppoint, it need be no less historical." p17

And his final summation...the paragraph that let me know as a Spirit-filled believer I would NOT have to park my brain...or lose this point in an argument :)

"Acts was written for a theological and an apologetic purpose. However, it is a purpose which Luke finds in history. It is not theology read into history or history distorted to serve theology. It is a theological interpretation of history."

Ah, the relief and the confidence...the entry of the truth always does that.

May you have a truth-sets-free day!



Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pit Bull

March 2, 2010


My friend Steve told me this story two days ago.

He lives in an open neighborhood.

People with big yards - lots of dogs.

To themselves kinds of people.

Steve and his family have a dog.

This day, he put his dog (friendly kind) on a leash to take it for a walk.

Things were going well, until suddenly a roar split the air.

And Steve and his wife turned to see a huge pit pull leaping a 5' fence and coming his way.

His eyes were focused evilly on them and he was closing fast.

Steve had nothing in hand...and nothing with which to protect them and their dog.

Horror was at hand.

As the pit bull streaked into the street, suddenly a car appeared. (There had been no other cars as they walked.)

The car and pit bull met in mid street and the pit bull was instantly killed and sent about 50 feet into the air. He landed in a heap of spent rage.

Their lives had been spared....and it felt rather miraculously.

And then they remembered the prayers prayed to take authority over the evil in the neighborhood and for protection over them all.

This happened recently.

The car had but a few scratches and drove off without much pause. The owner admited the angry nature of the dog. All was settled and ended.

And hearts finally started beating normally.

You might try praying before you take your walk.

It seems to be working.



Monday, March 1, 2010


Monday, March 1, 2010


Busy, busy weekend....and a great one.

Special friends Steve and Jan with us to make every moment special.

One of the highlights was a visit to the US Olympic center. What a place to see and experience. People there from all over the world. Lots of young eyes opened wide.

Though the Olympics were winding up in Vancouver, the place was active - especially with young shooters and gymnasts. Wonderful skills already being developed into world-class attention-getters.

In the halls, great numbers of inspirational statements with pictures and statues of athletes of generations past and often, their coaches.

This statement caught my eye...
"Adversity causes some men to break
and others to break records."
Author Unknown.

I can draft other companion pieces that well could accompany it....
Adversity - its part of anything valuable.
Adversity - ever seen an oak tree?
Adversity - another name for coach.
Adversity - it can become the wind in your sails.

Can you come up with your own saying?....

What is true is that we all face it. And are challenged by it.

Jesus words in Luke 16...are so helpful here...

"I want you to be smart...for what is right
- using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival,
to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials,
so you'll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior." (The Message)

May you have not a "just get by" day but a "rise to the challenge one."

And may you have, at the end of it, the sense of a few personal records broken for good.