Holy Week Musings: Palm Sunday- Evaluate Expectations

Today, 4/1/2012, is celebrated as Palm Sunday. It is the day Jesus made is triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a colt and people laid palm fronds before Him proclaims Hosanna. Jesus came to Jerusalem for Passover and excitement was buzzing. He had raised Lazarus from dead and taught from the Mount of Olive. People were excited about what Jesus was about to do. They eagerly expected that the tyranny of Rome would be shaken off and that Jesus would take his place on David’s throne to rule as Messiah. On that day, many years ago, Jesus entered Jerusalem in the way that scripture prophesied Messiah would enter Jerusalem. The buzz that day had to be immense and it culminated in a huge spontaneous celebration. Palm Sunday was in essence really the first flash mob, only there was no planning involved, it just happened. People were excited. God was about to change everything and life would soon be better for all. Unfortunately, they missed the reality. Yes, God was about to change everything, just not in a way that matched expectations. Rather, God moved in a greater way that was beyond improving our life now, but rather making a way for all to be made right, fully. For Jesus did not lead a revolution or take the throne. He did not destroy Rome and life was not going to be any different. Now certainly the throngs and cries of the people had to bring temptation to invoke the plan of doing whatever to make life best for now. He could have taken the throne and undid of Rome but that would have missed the point of undoing what had been done. Adam had put all of creation under a curse of sin by one action. Jesus by one action made the way of restoration and redemption. He made it possible for man to be in direct relationship with God. He suffered greatly to bring freedom.

People expected and wanted one thing but God had something else in mind. Today, often times we are not any different than the Palm Sunday crowd. We want God to make our life best in the moment. We are focused in what God is doing for me know. We get upset if God doesn’t somehow bring circumstance to our liking. Personally, I have had my own expectations shattered at times and it did lead to periods of great anger and sin. God didn’t do things the way I thought He should. See our expectations are dangerous things and are usually wrong. Our expectations are based on our view of the world and what we think is best in the moment. Our expectations come out of our selfishness. Life doesn’t play out in accordance with what we think is “our best life now.” Things do not work out in accordance with what we want. And if we get what we want, the how we get there is usually not the way or path chosen on getting there. The story that plays out in life is never what we expect and always filled with surprises. There are many reasons for the many twists and turns of life that run contrary to even the most honorable of expectations.

So does that mean we should not have expectations? No, but we need to be constantly evaluating our expectations and desires. We need to continually be submitting whatever we expect or want before God. We need to exam self and the motives behind what we expect. We need to continually pursue God and his truth and change our own perspective to line up with His perspective. We need to move beyond the momentary and temporary and be open to whatever greater has in store. Ultimately, God meets our wants, desires, and expectations. When God does act, He acts in ways that far exceed whatever we could hope or imagine. Just like God’s plan of redemption truly met the needs of all who are willing to accept it. God had a better way. This remains true to this day. So, take time to examine where you are at, what you expect of God, what you expect with others, and what you expect of self. Examine all in light of scripture and ask God to direct paths and steps, even if things to do not go the way you expect. For Gods ways always exceeds expectations, even if we do not grasp it.

In Remembrance: Sharing of Memories related to Janie Blake

My thoughts have been many since Janie Blake started her new day and left us behind. It has been hard to focus and write anything, yet there is much to write and process. It is though time to start putting down words that are on my heart. The best place to start is sharing a bit of the impact that Janie Blake had on my life and in the life of others. Yet, for me the sharing of the memories that is the story of Janie Blake and how she touched my life is not easy. See, Janie Blake in my life from the start is a mix of pain and hurt along with blessing and healing. The two really go hand in hand and are hard to separate. The elements of pain are not appropriate to write about as there are other people involved and they need to be considered and honored. So, my sharing of memories publicly is limited. However, the limit is on me being able to share the fact that God did use her in people’s lives to build them up and help them grow in love and truth by sharing love and truth.

Ultimately, the core of my relationship with Janie Blake can be summed up as a mutual sharing of love and truth. No matter what was going on with each of us being who we are, there was love and truth in operation. And honestly, most of the time, most of the memories are just us being who we are, together. This was whether sharing meals, playing games, or just having conversation. There are stark differences in our personality despite sharing that core of interacting in truth and love. Her personality was more active. She would find a way to be involved. She had to be part of the “action.” If there was something going on, rest assured Janie wanted to be a part of it. Now, my personality is one that is more observant, watchful. I want to be where action is but will often be at the edge, watching what is going on, always looking to grow and understand. Recently saw a picture from during my sophomore year on college, it was me as always on the edge, watching & observing. My nature is to meet people where they are and come along side.

Janie’s nature is that of going after someone and pulls them in. It is because of Janie that have met and cared for several people that otherwise would not have. It is even in her active pursuit that the healing, blessing, and growth that occurred in time, happened. She actively pursued with love and grace. Part of the healing pertains to my dear wife. We had a period where she ran from God in response to deep pain and disappointment. One related to a young man dying of brain cancer, the other a disappointment over a hope for job situation. Janie loved her, spoke truth, and pursued her with not knowing anything more than my wife was hurting and angry. She provided an accurate reflection of God’s pursuit, for ultimately God pursued my wife through Janie and others until she returned back to God. Janie was consistent in her pursuit and building up of others, reaching out with love and truth. She was faithful to God’s call on her life and produced much fruit. She lived who she was before God and man. She let her light shine in her actions and deeds and brought Glory to God the Father.

I hope folks take the time to share memories of Janie there are many places to do so. There is the comments section here on this blog article. There is here Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=828554733. There is my father’s Facebook page as well: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=1128826601. There is also Janie Blake’s caring bridge site: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/janieblake. There is also the option to share thoughts at the online obituary at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/startribune/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=147504299. You also may have own resources, but please do share. I may add folks thoughts to comment sections as run across, so please subscribe to the comments in this article. I know there are many folks who have prayed for Janie and did not know her, by sharing others can know and the harvest and impact will continue.

Video Selection: Jesus You are Holy performed by Charolette K.

In response to my last article my sister-in-law Mary Blake referenced a song, Jesus You Are Holy. It is a worship song written and performed by Katie Miner on her Live From Sunset Strip album published November 16, 1999.  My understanding is Charolette K. made some alterations from the original arrangement, yet this is the only version I have ever heard.

Here are the lyrics to the song. Hope it blesses you.

(Chorus)

Jesus You are Holy

Jesus You are holy

You are glorious

You are worthy of all praise…

All praise

Jesus You are holy

You are glorious

You are worthy of all praise…

All praise, all of my praise… all of my praise

1)You have seen me in the darkness

You have covered me with light

Rescued me from sin and fire

Behold! Your glory now in sight.

Yes, the glory of the cross

2. You have taken my disease and

You have healed me with your blood

Joy and sorrow deeply mingled

Behold! Your glory now in sight.

Yes, the glory of the cross

On Responses to Jesus Resurrection

Thoughts over the past week have centered on the varied reactions to the Resurrection of Jesus.  There were distinct reactions from those who followed Jesus and there was a distinct reaction of those who rejected to the point of overseeing his crucifixion. Now for his followers there are the women, the eleven disciples, and others.  Regardless, the reactions generally were the same with variation based on individuals.  Each account involves some initial shock and disbelief. The women asked the angel where he took the body.  The disciples did not quickly believe the reports of the women. Peter and John who met the women on the road went to check it out for themselves.  Of course we all know Thomas’s famous doubt even when face to face with our risen Lord. But the fact is the resurrection was so wondrous, so contrary to the grief that the first response was that of shock, doubt, and denial. 

After the initial shock and wonder, soon came wonder, joy, and astonishment as well as confusion.  All they knew is Jesus who was dead was alive. He ate with them. He talked with them. They were able to touch wounds even so far as to place hands in his side.  They all went through a major mood swing; loss of hope, depression, uncertainly followed by pure joy, excitement, and wonder.  Jesus who was just killed was alive. Jesus was alive, fully alive.  His body did not show signs of the tremendous abuse he went through other than the wonders.  When you understand just how incredible the resurrection was, the doubt of Thomas is a bit clearer.  How could it really be Jesus, fully alive, fully functional after all he went through, yet this was the true fact.  Jesus was alive.  It is really hard to fully grasp the depth of response.  Think of your worst possible moment, the darkest time in your life.  Now imagine after that darkest moment you find out that it is reversed in an incredible way beyond expectation or understanding.  Such a reaction is but a taste of what Jesus followers experienced.

Now there are others who had a completely different response. Essentially they are those who conspired to see Jesus crucified.  They didn’t struggle with the feelings of the disciples, rather they went to self-protection and keeping their image their reality in place.  They protected their power and position.  They had to have a plausible story, for it would be hard to deny the resurrection testimonies without a plausible story. So what did they do?  They conspired further. They bribed the guards to put their lives at risk and say the body was stolen.  It is a lie still believed by many today.  The lie and the conspiracy was all about keeping power, for what they feared is if Jesus was truly from God and the story was true, they lose all power.  Everything they worked for and made decisions over was but nothing.  They wanted their power.  So they continued to protect themselves and paid for lies to be spread.  Over time the lies would grow as the supernatural events of the day pass from memory. The dead leaving graves became just a story quickly brushed off. 

So thinking this over, the question really is how does Jesus resurrection impact you?  Are there things you seek to maintain control and cannot surrender.  Do you believe God is capable of redeeming any who would come?  Because it is the power of the resurrection that bears witness to redemption, the empty tomb speaks.  Will you listen to the truth and let it touch your life and change you from the darkness surrounding to glorious and joyful unimagined change?  This is the resurrection.  This is God’s love.  This is what is true peace on earth, Jesus died and rose again so that all may live. Jesus is the only way, there is no other path.  There is nothing anywhere that truly has the demonstrated power of resurrection.

Musing on Endless Litnanies of Rationalizations for Lack of Intentionality

Sitting here thinking tonight and where I am in various goals and changes in my life.  Started off the year with goal to be more intentional with writing articles for the blog.  Also started being more intentional with spending time in God’s word.  Now with that being said, late last summer and into the fall had engaged in concerted effort to begin making changes to diet and food intake. In the process had managed to lose about 30 pounds. Since the fall and being upset with some things and simply working on own, began to slacken slowly but surly.  Tonight thinking about adding some weight back and the recent increased silence in the blog is the reality of there existing endless litanies of rationalizations.  These actions do require acts of intentionality. It takes intentional effort to change. It takes discipline to stick to diet when rather would surrender to the desires of self.  Now, there are some changes have stuck to such as in general what I have been eating and overall portion sizes.  Yet, the things that are easy for me to let slip in here and there do add up. One extra snack here, one little bit there and soon eating a bit more and gaining weight. I can keep telling myself just a little bit extra today. I am doing okay, it won’t hurt.  It was winter, I am just more hungry than I was, I will  make it up.  These are just sad excuses for giving way to maintaining unhealthy choices. 

The blog silence is another area where making lots of excuses.  “I have too much work to do.”  “I just need to rest.”  “I really need to finish the important article and want to make sure wording just right. ”   These are all rationalizations and excuses.  Here is the thing. When we engage in such rationalizations, self is being put first.  Not only that but lack of the good and healthy is missed.  What person may miss out on reading an article because I simply did not write it sooner.  Did the impact become less because I did not get to it.  There is a need on my part to be more intentional and consistent in direction.  Now one of the rationalizations is that my mind is and has been tracking varied threads of information and ideas so it is easy to get sidetracked from one to another.  It is easy to keep putting things off when you are accountable to your self and God.  This is even true in doing steps of building a psychology practice. I can rationalize and spin things all sorts of different ways, but it comes down to making intentional choices and moving forward in specific directions. 

How about you?  Are there things and ways you are rationalizing or avoiding? Are you walking in less than what God would have of you at the moment? Are there things undone? Are there things unfinished?  Have you slipped back to old patterns from changes you had previously made?   Each  day we need to make a choice.  Even each moment. Are we moving more towards what God is calling us, or do we settle for the comfort and indulge in the unhealthy?  Well, the key is when you recognize slips and lapses to pick up and start over.  One goal at a time.  Tonight and tomorrow and a  new start.  Time to refocus the intentionality. After all, we just celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus, who gave his life that I may be redeem and free. This perspective is needed, for without that foundation there is no point to any intentionality and the endless litanies and self-deceipt will grow, dominate, and destroy.

Musings on Seasons

Life consists of a varied series of seasons. We know the obvious seasons of spring, summer, winter, and fall that are part of the regular ebb and flow of life. Yet, the seasons of life are more than the orderly flow of time. Even the flow of the seasons is variable. The Bible even indicates that in life there are many seasons in Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 (ESV):


For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Many things come, go and are part of life. Often the things we enjoy and get pleasure from last too short. The things that hurt and are painful last too long. The lengths of season are variable and impacted by our perceptions of the season. Sometimes a treasured relationship ends abruptly; conflicts last too long. In the end, our time in life is but an instance. As James 4:14 (KJV) states: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

Yet, many focus on capitalizing and focusing on pursuit the seasons of pleasure. We all like pleasure, yet when we encounter it, we do not savor it but rather often seek to engorge on the pleasure. For many, life is just moving from one momentary pleasure to the next. Yet, those seasons of pleasure fade, times of pain and sorrow always come. For many, life is about minimizing the suffering and maximizing the pleasure. There is another way. A way that looks beyond the constant shifting of seasons, there is something solid that stands up to the shifts. While seasons come and go, the Kingdom of God always stands. The rock of the Gospel is everlasting and un-shifting. It is not a momentary pleasure that last but awhile. It is the source of wholeness and completeness. For only in establishing right relationship with the Creator, which only happens not by self-effort but by, the redemption offered in the death and resurrection of Jesus. It all really comes down to where the focus of your life is. The continual pursuit of self and the temporary seasons of pleasure, or surrender to the King of Kings and accepting the gift of redemption allowing reconciliation and citizenship in the Kingdom of God.

    

Musings on Beginnings

Today is a beginning. It is a day marked off as the start of a New Year. The year 2010 in the Roman calendar has begun. Since it is a beginning, it is a good time to reflect on beginnings. Beginnings are actually constant. We move from one day to next, one minute to next, constantly encountering new beginnings.

In terms of the ultimate beginning, there are only really two options of belief. Either you believe that the ultimate beginning was initiated by a Creator, or your believe that the ultimate beginning just happened by random chance. What you believe about the ultimate beginning shapes your beliefs about the world and the nature of beginnings. Personally, the world of beginning having an initiated beginning makes more sense to this writer. A start point with intent and purpose is entirely different from a starting point based from meaninglessness. Now the view of their being an initiated beginning leads to thoughts about other beginnings.

The first beginning is that of the first sin. The beginning of man moving away from depending on God for instruction and direction is the story of Eve eating from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The eating of such fruit allowed for a turning from God to self-determination. Adam took and ate, both then hid from God and when confronted shifted blame. God spoke and started the consequences of the move away from God. We all know at the beginning of life, start separated from God and depending on self. This led to God implementing several other beginnings in order to implement His plan of reconciliation.

Another beginning that is important and played a role is God’s plan is God beginning the nation of Israel through Abraham. This nation, these people God chose to reflect directly His ways to the world and be the starting point of God’s reconciliation with humanity. God made a promise based on His relationship with Abraham. It was through that beginning that God brought another beginning, the Torah: a revelation of His ways and His self for not only all of Israel but for all of humanity. The Torah is the beginning even of God’s written revelation. The revelation serves to give a measurement of how we fail to live up to God’s holy standards and point ahead and illustrate God’s plan for reconciliation.

Now God’s plan of reconciliation is the beginning point of all of humanity being able to be at peace with God. The reconciliation came by Jesus who is God in the flesh, in order to fulfill the requirements needed to reconcile man and God died in an extreme form of capital punishment as an atoning sacrifice. The innocent standing in place of the guilty as a scapegoat giving each person a point at which reconciliation with God begins. It begins with an intentional act of self, to accept the gift of reconciliation and turn from self. Such a decision is but a beginning of an ongoing relationship with the Creator, the one who initiated all beginnings. So, please take time and begin reconciliation with God by turning in surrender of self and accepting the gift of having the consequences of your own self-dependence redeemed. He initiated it but it takes intentional receiving of the gift in order to establish.

Now one thing about beginnings is that beginnings lead to an end. There is a conclusion and purpose. There is order. God has provided revelation of what the ultimate ending is. We have the final chapter of the story of humanity on earth. The essence of day to day live is getting from the beginning to the end. Each beginning is part of the ongoing process of growing and resolving the story. Ultimately, the beginning and end all reside in Jesus who is both. Take time to begin that relationship. If you already have, find out what is the next step and next beginning in the unfolding story of your life as you push forward toward that which God began. Know that always “He that BEGAN a good work in YOU will be faithful to complete it.” In other words, that which God has initiated and put in motion in His workings in your life will continue until it reaches God’s conclusion. God will always ensure that what He seeks to be complete will occur for those that follow Him. God will always bring His initiated beginnings to His conclusion. So take time and reflect on God’s initiation in your life and your responses. Examine your own beginnings and the ongoing process of moving forward in growth. One last thought, remember that always in comparison with eternity we really are still just beginning.