the Cross

Today, we are turned toward the cross. No matter how I view the cross, I am reminded that it was my disobedience, my pride, my selfishness, my insecurity, my shortcomings that put Jesus there. I read of the 'trial' and the crowd. I read of the soldiers, the mocking, the torture, the crown of thorns. As I try to imagine the pain Jesus must have felt, I am reminded that it wasn't just the soldiers and the crowd - it was me. This story isn't a distant story, unconnected to my life - this is intricately connected to who I am. I cannot view the cross without thinking of my sin.
And I am also overcome with emotion, with the realization of how far-reaching God's grace is. I am reminded that Christ's body was broken for me. I am reminded that the blood He shed covers my shame and guilt, my sin. I am reminded that I have been made clean by the sacrifice of Christ. This is nothing I have done - I do not deserve that which I have received. It is only by the cross that I am forgiven, that I am made new, that I am adopted into God's family.
Years ago, I had a friend who shared his 'life verse' with me. This was the passage that served as foundational to his life. A couple of years ago (I'm a little slow) I found a verse that I wanted to own. As I read today's passage, I found myself coming back to my life verse.
"For I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I live in the flesh, I live by faith in the One who loved me and gave His life for me." It is found in Galatians.

I wonder what thoughts you had reading of the crucifixion. And do you have a life verse? If so, I'd love to hear it.


Gethsemane and the Arrest

Like so many of the others we've talked about, this passage contains so much. I'd love to hear which part resonated with you...and why. Was it the sleeping disciples? Peter? The Sanhedrin? What jumped out at you and why?

There are two pieces that spoke to me today:
1. Jesus' prayer. I love that Jesus was wrestling with what He was facing. It is one thing for us to look at the life of Jesus and think, "Well, He's Jesus - He's perfect and doesn't have to face what we have to face." Jesus was facing death for crimes He didn't commit. Those that He spoke into existence were going to nail Him to a cross. And He had the power to stop it all. Yet His simple prayer was, "Not my will, but Yours be done." I want to have the courage and peace and mindset to say those words with all my heart. And then I want to live them out.

2. In the midst of Jesus' arrest, Peter pulled his sword and was ready to fight. I believe that this is a mistake many of us make. We believe that we are called to fight in the same ways the world fights - with swords. Some of the greatest setbacks of the Kingdom have to do with those who have choosen the physical weapons of our world. I believe Jesus looks at us and says, "Put away your sword." We are not fighting against flesh and blood. We are fighting against darkness and the subtle yet powerful presence of evil in this world. The only means we have that will prevail is our choice to love.

Now it's your turn. I talk and type too much. I want to hear what is on your mind as you read these scriptures. What is God stirring in you? Don't be shy...let's hear it.


the end...or the beginning

Today's passage is probably the most convicting passage for me in the Greek Scriptures. Jesus has just told the Parable of the Talents (this is the parable that led our family to MMCC). As powerful as this parable is, it is not enough. Jesus continues on with "When the Son of Man comes..." This is a picture of the end - or is it the beginning? At the end, or beginning, all of humanity will be gathered before God and will be divided, like dogs and cats (or sheep and goats). Here we find how we will be judged. For many churched people, like me, it would be so much more comforting to read, "Well done. For you showed up every Sunday and memorized your Bible verse. You put money in the offering plate and sang the songs." But we don't find anything like this. We find "Well done. For I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you provided a place for me. I had no clothes and you gave me some. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you didn't ignore me." (my paraphrase) These are the things that reflect the new life we have in Jesus Christ.

What makes you uncomfortable with this passage? Is it as convicting to you as it is to me? Why or why not?

Our mission team is working to lead us into opportunities here and abroad that move us in these directions. This passage will give us practical guidance on living out our new life in Christ. In the coming months, you will have the opportunity to do these things: feed the hungry, provide housing for the homeless, give clothes to those in need, visit the sick. We want these things to define who we are. These are practical ways we will love people with no strings attached. Are you in?