Monthly Archives: March, 2014

after that night

Matthew 27:1-2

That night, others may have slept, rested and been refreshed,

but when morning came, after:

  • betrayal
  • peter’s denial by the fire in Caiaphas’s courtyard
  • a sleepless night
  • a brutal night
  • a silent night for the defense
  • a rooster crowing
  • bitter weeping
  • spitting
  • punching
  • slapping

– after that night;

When morning came,
all the chief priests and elders took counsel against Jesus to put him to death – and bound him and led him away.

The good Lent

So, having a good Lent? Well, not so much, really

Is it ok to do poorly at lent?

What happens if we get to the end of Lent, having successfully mortified the flesh and worthily lamented our sins? Is it ok to fail at Lent. Can I fail at Lent without falling?

One danger that I see is the possibility of completing a successful Lenten observance and feeling that I have earned a prize, – that I am in some way ‘worthy’. Self righteousness is a huge danger. The fact that I survived for x number of days – well that is grace. Any attempt or leaning towards godliness is the work of Holy Spirit (sure, I am involved in obedience, and even in some weird way, in grace). If I struggle with sin, or are troubled with my weaknesses, grace again.

So, having a good lent? Aware of your imperfections, failings? Longing to do better, or longing to long to do better?

Are you a person who needs a saviour, The Saviour?

Good Lent to you! And may God have mercy on us all.

Remember Peter?

Peter-
He was “ready to go … To prison or death” with Jesus. But when things moved in a direction he hadn’t anticipated, and it looked like one of those two options was more likely than the other, he followed Jesus and his captors at a distance, anonymously – which didn’t work out very well. So frightened, he was that when faced with a servant girl, Peter was so scared that he felt he needed to lie – for fear of being hauled before the religious and civil authorities.

Fast-forward: seven weeks was it?

We have the man who had stammered out his denials in front of a handful of servants around a campfire, now in front of crowds; a preacher who doesn’t seem to care what anyone says or does to him. Bold. Fearless – or at least brave in the face of his fears.

In acts 2:36 Peter tells them: “…Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” We did not see that boldness coming.

What changed Peter?:
the crucifixion?
the empty tomb?
an amazing catch of fish (who actually counted those fish?)?
facing his failure and betrayal with Jesus

Jesus told the disciples that they would “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon [them, and would be]… witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  Then he was taken up, out of their sight, with angelic assurance that he would return in the same way he went into heaven. (Acts 1:8-11)

In Jerusalem, in the upper room, they stayed together praying, waiting, I suppose for what Jesus had called “the promise of my Father … power from on high.”(Luke24:49)

Even before the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter was beginning to change. We see him starting to take leadership.

And then Pentecost came.

Let us think about

  • the crucifixion
  • the empty tomb
  • the things that we know God is doing among us
  • our failure and betrayal – our need for forgiveness

Let us meet together with Jesus and with believers praying, waiting…

Christ also suffered – following in his steps

1Peter 2 ESV

21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Following “in his steps”? What does this mean

  • Doing good, even though it might bring suffering
  • Being subject to those in authority over us
  • He committed no sin
  • No deceit was found in his mouth
  • He did not return reviling for reviling
  • He suffered without threatening
  • He continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

When I think on that list above, I understand how I need Jesus and the provision of his sacrifice. When I read the beginning of 1 Peter chapter 2, I understand even more: “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

Lord, increase my desire for your spiritual milk, as found in the Bible. I have tasted that you are good. I want to grow up.

Forgiveness

On Friday I was privileged to hear Reaksa Himm speak. His message was about forgiveness, and he is qualified, in my mind, to teach about that topic. A few years ago I read his book The Tears of My Soul: The Story of a Boy Who Survived the Cambodian Killing Fields.

In the book he details how he was left for dead, and eventually came to forgive the people who intended to murder him and those close to him.

“Father for give them” are words of Jesus.  How do I do in forgiving big and little offences?

Friendship with the world

James writes warning about seeking to become friends with the world.

Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

God so loved the world that he gave his son.

so, what is the difference?

I think that I know…

Worthily Lamenting

There is a phrase in an Anglican collect (group prayer) for Lent that mentions us “worthily lamenting” our sin.  I don’t think that that phrase always describes my relationship to sin.

I’m more likely to lament the consequences of sin or regret because of the way I feel afterwards.

perhaps remorse and self-loathing is a beginning step, or else a counterfeit for worthy lament.

Lord, let me worthily lament my sin:

  • My selfishness.
  • My caring more about my comfort than the comfort of others.
  • My caring about what others think of me more than what they think of You, or what you think of me

Late-Night Sushi for Lent

I went for sushi with friends last night, unaware of the all-you-can-eat deal. Too much good food!

I contrast that with being in Malawi, Africa near the end of Ramadan where the ram’s horn sounds before sunup to prepare for the day of fasting.

I wonder how they do Lent in Malawi.

New to Lent?

I am no expert at Lent.  If you are looking to me to direct you into “proper” Lenten observance, I suspect that you will be disappointed. I am a bit of a hack at Lent.  But I do know a little about following Jesus.

Neglecting Lent will not make Jesus love us any less.  Doing Lent cannot make Jesus love us more, but it just might help us to know Jesus and Love him more – which would be worth while.

I have been following some of Jon Swanton’s bloggings and thoughts about following Jesus.  I enjoy his writing.  He is realistic, hard-hitting, loving kind and gentle.  He wrote a book a couple of years ago called Lent for Non-Lent People: “33 things to give up for Lent” and other readings. I like the book and wish that I had written it.  If you are intrigued by Lent and want to go deeper, that book might be a good way to move forward.

His post, 33 things to give up for Lent is also a way to move forward.

Lent for Non-Lent People: “33 things to give up for Lent” and other readings  is available through various channels.  I know that there is a version available for use on various readers, i.e. Kindle, etc. if you are so inclined.

Amazon has it listed, as does The Book Depository
http://www.bookdepository.com/Lent-for-Non-Lent-People-Jon-C-Swanson/9781495412066

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1495412067/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1495412067&linkCode=as2&tag=levitchron-20

the soverignty of God and our free will

The sovereignty of God seems both essential and impossible to believe.
In James 4:15 we read “if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” – recognizingGod’s sovereignty in what actually happens day-to-day. Still there is the troubling and essential aspect of our free will, and the free will of others who do things that we don’t like, things that we cannot reconcile with the sovereign will of God.

God reigns over us as King and Lord. We, his loyal (or otherwise) subjects, still have the opportunity to choose to obey him or not.

The above hardly begins to answer the question that I barely began to ask about the sovereignty of God and our free will.

Is Lent a time for us to be certain to listen to our King?  We could do worse.