The Final Curtain

Torn011The story of Jesus’ death is not a new story to most of us.  We’ve heard it so many times in so many ways.  Whether you first heard it at a church, or saw a version of it at the movies, or heard someone tell you the story through your television.  Perhaps you just heard it again this week as Christians, Disciples of Christ, celebrated Easter.  I’m not going to retell it here, but I would like to share the part of His story that means the most to me.

You see, at that moment, after all the beatings, the ridicule, the mocking’s, the crown, the nails, and His last breath had been drawn He died, and the veil that separated man from God in the temple was ripped from top to bottom.  In the book of Matthew chapter 27, verse 51 it says, “At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom…” (MSG)

The veil, or the Temple curtain, was just no ordinary curtain that perhaps covers the windows of your house, but this curtain was at least forty-five feet tall, and four inches thick.  It was there because God cannot look at sin, or at those who have sinned.  Only the high priest, and only once a year, could go through a long list of rituals that would consider him clean could go around the curtain into the “Holy of Holies” into the presence of God, and offer a sacrifice to God for the forgiveness of sin.

I don’t know about you, but I would hate to walk around all year with unforgiven sin.  Knowing me the very day my sins were forgiven I would probably sin again, and say, “Oh man!  Now I have to wait another year?”  At that moment when the curtain was torn from top to bottom, by God, it now meant that Jesus, who was without sin, became my high priest, and through His death on the cross I now can enter the presence of God any moment I want to, or knowing me, need to.

That’s my favorite part of the story of Jesus’ death, but when the curtain ripped that wasn’t the end of Jesus’ story…three days later He made a curtain call.


Looking For God

P1020216This past week, during a team meeting for my trip to Zambia, one of the members shared that she keeps a journal, but not just any journal.  She went on to share how at the end of every day she writes down in this journal where and how God showed up.  The name of this journal is, “Only God”.

Isaiah 40:26 says, “Look at the night skies: Who do you think made all this?…”  Oswald Chambers writes in his book, My Utmost for His Highest “The people of God in Isaiah’s time had blinded their mind’s ability to see God by looking on the face of idols.”  I certainly think in our day people are looking at their idols as well.  An idol can be anyone or anything you put in place of God.

When you look for God every day, everything changes.  Your vision of people and events, your conversations, and even your reactions to the annoyances of each day can change.  What a great discipline to look for where God showed up in your day, and then to take the time to record it.  I guarantee you in a moment’s weakness where she might not think that God cares about her or hears her prayers all she has to do is open up her “Only God” journal and read a page or two in order to be assured that each and every day God is there with her.

I challenge you this week to look for God in your life, and to go one step further to record where you saw God and what you saw Him doing in your life, or in someone else’s.

Helping Without Hurting

hwhstm-lg-coverI have mentioned this philosophy in a couple of blogs of “helping without hurting”.  I wanted to share a little more about it.

One person on a recent mission trip came back and reported the locals despised the Americans who came to build them a church.  Instead of working with the locals they took over and sure enough built a church building in one week.  So why were the locals upset?  Because the week the Americans were there, they were unemployed.  This is a great example of “help that hurts.”

There is a way of helping without hurting, but first you should understand some principles.

  1. Recognize that we are all poor.  When Adam and Eve sinned mankind fell out with God, with each other, with themselves, and with their world.  We all became poor.
  1. We in America, a lot of times, will describe poverty as not having material possessions. Someone in real poverty will likely describe poverty as embarrassing, failure, shame, and hopelessness.
  1. Know that we here in America are not superior to anyone else. Wealth is not measured in the things you own (or paying the bank for each month).  Not in the size of your house or the cost of your car.  True wealth is measured in the strength of your relationships with God, yourself, others, and with your world.
  1. You can actually make someone feel worse when you give them, or someone in their household something they cannot provide themselves.
  1. You help someone else by building a relationship with them. Once that is established you can encourage them, show you believe in them.  This gives them hope, and self-esteem.  This will help give them the confidence they need to find their own way out of poverty.  Jesus modeled this for us.  He didn’t come to give material things to people, but instead He said things like “I came to you”, “I accept you” which are relationship building words.

If you want to get your hands on the same resources I am learning from you can go to:

When you begin to understand what real poverty is you will begin to see it everywhere, and not just think of poverty as something in 3rd world countries.  It is time we start helping without hurting.

My Suitcase

DSC_4957When I travel somewhere, seldom will you ever hear the words come out of my mouth, “Oh gees, I forgot something.”  I was never in the Boy Scouts, but my parents taught me well how to be prepared, how to be resourceful, and how to improvise.  On one camping trip the truck’s fuel pump went out.  Dad poured gas from the boat into a can and climbed above the truck’s engine so he could pour gas manually into the carburetor.  He told my mother, “If it runs, step on it and keep it moving.”  Something he said later he regretted as it was the scariest ride of his life.

I started three weeks ago packing my suitcase for my upcoming trip to Africa.  I want to be prepared, yet pack light.  After all, there isn’t going to be a Walgreens on the “corner of happy & healthy” where I can conveniently go.  My teammates have started teasing me, and one said, “I will just throw some stuff in a backpack the night before.”

As I stood over the top of my suitcase the other day I began to think about how people prepare for heaven.  Are they packing light, or heavy?  What do I mean by that you might ask?  Well it seems as if there are a lot of people that feel, believe, are convicted in thinking that if they “DO” enough, in the name of God of course, that God will see this, be pleased and let them into heaven.  Or if they faithfully follow a set of “RULES”, observe Holy Days and traditions, or be a “GOOD CHRISTIAN” that they will “EARN” the right to enter heaven.  The truth is they are over packing.  Their suitcase for their journey to heaven becomes heavy, weighted down, hard to bear.  Causing many to fall by the wayside, along the road of life to be robbed of their joy, their strength, perhaps their eternal life.

This is one journey where I want to pack light.  In fact so light that I don’t pack anything at all.  It is so hard for us as “doers” to do nothing.  I’m not saying that we should accept Christ into our lives and then just sit back and wait to die, or for the rapture to take place.  There is nothing wrong with sharing God’s love to others, and doing what you can for them.  Sometimes others need you, your time, or your ear more then they need tangible possessions.  The simple truth is; Jesus has already done everything for us that we need in order to enter heaven.  All we have to do is accept His death, and resurrection, His FREE gift of salvation, so I end this week by asking you, “What’s in your suitcase?”