The other disciple who had reached the tomb first went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that Jesus must rise from the dead. (John 20)
'Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. We joyfully announce it. [And yet] I realize that my faith and unbelief are never far from each other. Maybe it is exactly at the place where they touch each other that the growing edge of my life is.
We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy. - 1 John 1:3-4 (NLT)
Do you marvel at the life-changing relationship you have with your Lord? John the apostle did ... constantly. At a particular season in history, the God of the universe chose to have fellowship with John, a simple fisherman. Overwhelming news! John was overjoyed to the extent that he zealously wanted to share his joy with others so that they could share in his joy.
People around you desperately need to be encouraged by your latest encounter with Jesus. Some have lost hope that they can experience the reality of God's presence in their lives. While they do not need philosophies or theological speculations, nor your opinions on what they should do, they do need to hear from someone who has just come from a personal, life-changing encounter with the living Christ.
Don't try to convince people of the reality of God ... simply bear witness to what Jesus has said to you and done for you. The change in your life will be the greatest testimony of your relationship with Him. As the world watches and listens, will it hear you testify that you've just been with Jesus?
"Israel loved Joseph more than all his other sons...but his brothers, seeing how his father loved him more than all his other sons, came to hate him..." (Genesis 37)
The problem with resentment is that it is not so clear-cut. Resentment is not spectacular and it is not overt. It can be concealed by the appearance of a holy life. Resentment is so pernicious because it sits very deep within us; in our hearts, in our flesh, in our bones. Often we aren't even aware that it is there.
God made a covenant with us. The word covenant means "coming together." God wants to come together with us. In many of the stories in the Hebrew Bible, we see that God appears as a God who defends us against our enemies, protects us against dangers, and guides us to freedom. God is God-for-us. When Jesus comes, a new dimension of the covenant is revealed. In Jesus, God is born, grows to maturity, lives, suffers, and dies as we do. God is God-with-us. Finally, when Jesus leaves he promises the Holy Spirit. In the Holy Spirit, God reveals the full depth of the covenant. God wants to be as close to us as our breath. God wants to breathe in us, so that all we say, think and do is completely inspired by God. God is God-within-us. His covenant reveals to us how much God loves us.
I had the opportunity, yesterday, to participate in a conversation with Paul Bennetts, senior Pastor of Life Church in Christchurch, NZ. Paul discussed in depth the traumatization of this beautiful city on the east coast of the southern NZ island, following the three earthquakes that have hit NZ since last September. Paul revealed that, although many church buildings have collapsed as a result of the devastating effects of the most recent quake, the Church is still the Church. Meeting together on lawns, giving thanks to God and recognizing that we really do need each other -- to begin the healing process and long-term restoration of people and lives. Paul told how the song, "In Christ Alone" and Psalm 46, have taken on new, fresh and empowering meaning for those experiencing this challenge and God's covenant -- God-within-us.
Paul has asked for prayer ... for the fears rising up in the communities (fear of more earthquakes, etc.) ... for the children who are in shock and traumatized by this event ... for the Mom's dealing with their children, the aftershocks, wanting protection ... for God's mercy and grace for the city of Christchurch ... that more people will become aware of God's presence and begin a relationship with Him.
Link to Life Church in Christchurch, NZ (click here)
Red Cross appeal (click here)
Can't wait to get my hands on Rob Bell's new book, "Love Wins: A Book About Heaven , Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived", due to be released by HarperOne on March 29th.
Have you seen the book promotion video narrated personally by Rob Bell? If not, here's your chance (click here). This video has generated huge controversy on Facebook, Twitter and blogs. And, no one has even seen, touched or read the book yet.
Has Rob Bell drifted and become a "Universalist" as one has characterized him and his new (unread) book?
HarperOne says, in a description of the book, "With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic—eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins."
What do you think?
Check out the video and come on back to comment.
Here's a link to what was said about his book by ChristianityToday, today (click here).
We like to make a distinction between our private and public lives and say, "Whatever I do in my private life is nobody else's business." But anyone trying to live a spiritual life will soon discover that the most personal is the most universal, the most hidden is the most public, and the most solitary is the most communal. What we live in the most intimate places of our beings is not just for us but for all people. That is why our inner lives are lives for others. That is why our solitude is a gift to our community, and that is why our most secret thoughts affect our common life.
Jesus says, "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." (Matthew 5: 14-15). The most inner light is a light for the world. Let's not have "double lives"; let us allow what we live in private to be known in public.
This morning, John C. Maxwell told me I need to become a better listener. So, I continued to listen.
He went on to say that leaders tend to be talking, teaching most of the time. And this is OK, as long as they do enough listening, too.
Maxwell pointed out that you cannot make leadership decisions in a vacuum, that one needs to walk slowly through the crowd, understand your people ... where they are, what their needs and dreams are ... to listen, learn, and then lead.
He concluded that, only after listening and learning, are we qualified to lead.
Are you listening?
A Jewish businessman in Chicago sent his son to Israel for a year to absorb the culture.
When the son returned, he said, "Papa, I had a great time in Israel. By the way, I converted to Christianity."
"Oy vey," said the father. "What have I done?" He took his problem to his best friend, Ike.
"Ike," he said, "I sent my son to Israel, and he came home a Christian. What can I do?"
"Funny you should ask," said Ike. "I too, sent my son to Israel, and he also came home a Christian. Perhaps we should go see the rabbi."
So they did, and they explained their problem to the rabbi.
"Funny you should ask," said the rabbi. "I, too, sent my son to Israel, and he also came home a Christian. What is happening to our young people?"
And so they all prayed, telling the Lord about their sons. As they finished their prayer, a voice came from the heavens:
"Funny you should ask," said the Voice. "I, too, sent my Son to Israel . . ."
Hi! I'm the worship director at Cedardale Church, and the webservant that maintains this website.