Covered by Blood

“Choose a one-year-old male that is intact and free of blemishes; you can take it from the sheep or the goats. Keep this chosen lamb safe until the fourteenth day of the month, then the entire community of Israel will slaughter their lambs together at twilight. They are to take some of its blood and smear it across the top and down the two sides of the doorframe of the houses where they plan to eat” (Exodus 12:5-7, The Voice).

Blood is not a topic for polite dinner conversation. Or any polite conversation. Or any conversation for that matter. Some people get queasy at the sight or even the mention of it.

Lately, any songs about the blood are becoming more and more taboo at many churches. People like to believe that we’re generally not that bad and that our mistakes aren’t that serious.

Any time that I sing about or hear about the blood of Jesus, it’s a stark reminder of the seriousness of my own sin. I’m reminded again that the gospel of Jesus Christ is not that I’m okay, you’re okay, so let’s all try to be better people in the future.

The gospel is that we all have sinned and missed God’s mark. That sin always comes at a cost. Romans 3:23 say “The payoff for a life of sin is death.” There’s no loophole or any other way around that. Sin earns spiritual death now and physical death later.

But read the rest of the verse– “but God is offering us a free gift—eternal life through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King.”

Easter is all about how Jesus took the punishment and death that we deserved because of our sin, giving us the free gift of eternal life to all those who repent of their sins and place their faith in the final and finished work of Jesus.

I may not like the sight of blood or always like to talk about it, but I’m thankful for the blood that Jesus shed, not sparingly but freely, for my sake and for the sake of all of us who have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.

Here’s how to know for certain if you belong to Jesus:

https://www.lifeway.com/en/articles/salvation-through-christ-a-matter-of-faith.html

 

Give Blood

I did my civic duty today and donated blood. I know that you’re always supposed to give 100% at whatever you do, but I thought in this case to hold back a little. Just a tad.

Sure, there’s a time inconvenience. Plus, there’s that super humongous needle they stick in your arm (or at least it seems that way when you’re staring at it up close and personal).

But the payoff is worth way more than whatever costs are involved.

Who knows but one day you may be the one in the emergency room needing a pint of blood? Or it might be your son or your daughter on that operating table.

I don’t normally write blog posts telling you to do stuff, but I really believe that this is one case where your contribution actually makes a tangible difference.

Whenever I give blood, I’m reminded that my own life was saved by blood. The Apostle Peter reminds us of the true cost of our salvation: “You know that a price was paid to redeem you from following the empty ways handed on to you by your ancestors; it was not paid with things that perish (like silver and gold), but with the precious blood of the Anointed, who was like a perfect and unblemished sacrificial lamb (1 Peter 2:18-19).

Blood is life and Jesus, unlike me, did opt to give 100%. He didn’t spare a drop. He looked at you and me and said, “They may not amount to much in the eyes of most people, but in My eyes, they are completely worth the sacrifice.”

Ultimately, we give because He gave. We love because He first loved us. That’s the key to everything.

So give blood. It’s an easy way to pay it forward and live out the gratitude for what others (and God) have done for you over the years.

Who knows? The life you save could very well be your own.

 

Lessons from The Walking Dead

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I watch a show called The Walking Dead. It’s not for the squeamish. Yes, there are zombies (referred to as ‘walkers). Yes, there is plenty o’ blood and guts a-flying’ everywhere. Yes, you get attached to characters only to see them killed off.

But I think there are a few life lessons from this show that I’d like to pass on:

1) If these zombies ever took to lifting weights, would they then be “power walkers?”

2) Family matters, even if that family isn’t flesh and blood. It’s better to be with imperfect people who care about you and have your back than to be alone.

3) No matter what face you may present to the public, the truth of who you really are will always come out. It’s no good to fight evil and become worse than the evil you’re fighting.

4) No matter how far you’ve sunk or what you’ve done, there’s always the hope of becoming something better. There’s nothing so bad in people that can’t be redeemed. I happen to believe that God does the redeeming and I am the one being redeemed.

5) If you ever do run into a zombie, make sure you kill the brain. And be sure not to wear anything you don’t mind getting ruined by blood and guts.

I think that covers it for now. I just finished up season 3, which puts me roughly one season behind (so no spoiler alerts, please).

Easter Season Liturgy Part I

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Tonight at Kairos we had a liturgical Easter service but with a Kairos-style twist. It was a very cool blend of modern and ancient forms of worship. I was particularly moved by the responsive reading we did at the start:

“Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us a little child 
one of us,
flesh and blood to share in our humanity
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life.

Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us as carpenter
and yet in whose creative hands a world was fashioned
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life.

Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us as fisherman
and yet pointed to a harvest that was yet to come
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life.

Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us as teacher
and opened eyes to truths that only 
the poor could understand
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life.

Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us as healer
and opened hearts to the reality of wholeness
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life.

Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us as prophet, priest and king
and yet humbled himself 
to take our place upon the cross
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life.

Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us as servant
and revealed to us the extent of his Father’s love 
for human kind
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life.

Blest are you, Lord Jesus, who rose 
from the ignominy of a sinner’s death
to the triumph of a Saviour’s resurrection
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life.

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son
for the sake of me
and you
and other sinners too
God so loved the world
Blest are you Lord Jesus, our Saviour and Redeemer.
ALL: Thanks be to the God of Love. Amen”

I think it’s good to step out of your comfort zone when it comes to worship. For me, that meant going to a Roman Catholic Ash Wednesday service last year. Whatever it is for you, it’s good to get out of your own faith tradition and see things from different points of view sometimes. It helps you to know what you believe and– better still– why you believe what you believe.

More on that to come tomorrow.

 

An Invitation

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Imagine you go to the mailbox. It’s a crisp autumn day and the leaves are just starting to fall off the trees.

Inside the mailbox, you see the usual assortment of bills, ads, junk mail, and more bills. But one stands out. It’s a very ornate envelope with your name handwritten in calligraphy.

Inside you find a golden ticket with your name engraved, inviting you to a special banquet. Imagine the fanciest restaurant you’ve ever eaten at times ten and this is where you’re invited.

Jesus has invited you to dine with Him.

Some will decline. Some will make excuses and find reasons not to come. Some will put careers or possessions or relationships ahead of this invitation.

Maybe you feel like declining for different reasons.

You say, “How can I possibly afford this?”

There’s a slip inside the envelope that reads, “Paid in Full.”

You think, “Does this person know who he’s inviting? I’m nobody. I don’t matter to anyone. If I died tomorrow, nothing would be different and no one would notice my absence.”

Or you think, “Does he know what I’ve done. How I’ve lied and cheated and stolen and broken promises? How I’ve left a train-wreck of destroyed lives and broken people?”

You know you don’t deserve an invitation. I didn’t. I offered up every excuse I could think of. “No one wants me there.” “I ruin everything I touch.” “People are better off without me in their lives, or better yet, would have been better off if they’d never met me.”

The invitations kept coming.

“I know who you are and what you’ve done. You matter enough to me for me to purchase your place at My table with My own life and My own blood.”

Do you know Jesus wants you? Do you believe it? Do you understand He thought you were to die for? Do you fully grasp that Jesus loves you in this moment, just as you are and not as you should be or could be?

All you have to do is say YES to His invitation and He steps into Your life, into the messiest, most broken parts you’ve been too ashamed to show to anyone. He starts bringing healing and wholeness and purpose and direction to your life.

Will you say YES? It’s up to you. No one will force you to go. But this offer won’t last forever. Trust me. Whatever you think is more important doesn’t begin to compare with this feast, with Who’s offering it to you.

Just you think about that for a while.

More About the Whole Waiting Business

If you’ve ever had to wait for something you wanted, you know how hard it can be.

If you’ve ever been through the process of looking for a job and felt one door after another slamming in your face, you know how discouraging it can feel and begin to doubt yourself a little.

Or maybe you’ve been waiting for that right person for what seems like forever and you’re beginning to think they will never come, you know how sick of heart you can get.

There is nothing that God makes you wait for that won’t be worth it. The fact that it’s taking him this long must mean it’s really good. After all, he did create the whole world in 7 days, so if he’s taking longer than that with your life, you know the result will be spectacular.

The easy thing to do is to give up on yourself, on others, and on God. Don’t.

The hard thing to do is keep trusting, keep believing, and keep holding on to the promise that God always finishes what he starts.

But nothing worthwhile was ever easy. Nothing that matters comes without effort and sweat and blood and tears. Just ask Jesus about what that feels like.

If you can’t trust your whole future to God, just trust him for the next 24 hours and see what happens.

I have to remind myself of a few things because I’m so forgetful and prone to worry.

1) God is good. All the time.

2) God hasn’t forgotten you or where you are.

3) God will complete the good work he started in you.

May we not only learn to wait, but to wait well and expectantly.

 

 

Rise: A Night of Worship and What Came Out Of It

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I went to a very special and unique Kairos event. It was billed as another Night of Worship, but started off very different than any service I’d ever been to before.

It started as a mock funeral. Mike Glenn led somber-faced pallbearers carrying a casket into the sanctuary. He then proceeded to preach a funeral service for Jesus just as he might for any member of the congregation who passed away.

It might seem a bit macabre, but it really brought two points home to me.

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First, the sin I so easily dismiss and take for granted has consequences. As Mike said, sin brings death to everybody every time. In this case, Jesus took the death that should have been mine. Whenever I look lightly at my sin, I need to remember that it cost Jesus his life.

Second, I must never forget the price paid for my life. Jesus thought I was worth every drop of his blood. That means that I have value beyond my income potential or job title or social status. I have value both in being created in God’s image and redeemed by his Son Jesus.

You can’t have Easter Sunday without Good Friday. The resurrection doesn’t mean anything without the cross. The triumph loses its impact without the suffering and the agony that proceeded it. I love what I read earlier today that the cross wasn’t a defeat and the resurrection the victory. The cross was the victory and the resurrection was the icing on the cake, the proof of that victory for the world to see. You need both.

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For me, the worship at the end meant more because I saw what my sin cost Jesus and what great lengths he went through for me because he’d rather go through hell for me than go to heaven without me (to borrow from Max Lucado).

May you and I have the courage to face Good Friday and take every bit of it in and not just skip to Easter Sunday and the happy part. May we never take lightly or for granted the sin that cost Jesus his life or treat as cheap the life he paid the ultimate price to redeem.

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