Good Friday 2017

“But thank God the crucifixion was not the last act in that great and powerful drama,” King preached. “There is another act. And it is something that we sing out and cry and ring out today. Thank God a day came when Good Friday had to pass” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act” (Mahatma Gandhi).

“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone but in every leaf of springtime” (Martin Luther).

Why is today called Good Friday? What’s so great about Jesus being tortured to death for a crime He didn’t commit? Why does it still matter nearly 2,000 years later?

It seems weird to call the day of Jesus’ crucifixion Good Friday, but when you look at it with Easter Sunday in mind, it makes a lot more sense.

If all you had was Good Friday with no resurrection, then it’s a very Tragic Friday. We should all stay home on Sunday and live however we want. Get stoned, get drunk, get laid, do whatever because none of it matters if Jesus is still in that tomb.

But God raised Jesus from the dead. He walked out of the tomb two days later and everything changed. Absolutely everything. That’s what makes it good.

So much of what happens in our lives will only make sense in reverse. When God promises to work all things together for our good, we often can only see that good not looking ahead or in the midst of it, but looking back on it. We see then how God orchestrated every moment perfectly to lead us where we are now, the best possible outcome.


The Prince of Peace

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

It seems like every time I turn around, there’s more hatred and violence. There’s more racism and division. I know ultimately that it’s not a hate issue or a race issue. It’s a sin issue.

It’s the sin that indwells the hearts of every man, woman, and child. It’s the same sin that indwells my own heart, the sin that causes me to not do what I want and to do what I don’t want to do.

That same sin issue won’t go away by electing the “right” President. It won’t go away by passing the “right” laws or by deporting the “wrong” people.

The answer to all the hate, violence, racism, and division lies within the Prince of Peace, who chose to keep silent in the midst of His own injustice and suffering.

He chose the wrongful death so  that we could live. He chose to bear the weight of my sin and shame so that I wouldn’t have to be a slave to it any longer.

That’s what brings me comfort on nights like these when the world outside seems to have lost its collective mind. There are a lot of talking heads out there offering a lot of different ideas about what can solve the mess we’re in, but only one real solution: Jesus.

The sobering thought is that I am just as sinful and in need of grace as those who shout racist epithets and those who riot and loot. In the deepest part of my heart, I see that same darkness. I see glimpses of what I am capable of apart from the incessant grace of God.

So I’m praying for peace to the Prince of Peace and resting in the promise that the victory over evil has already been won and that one day everything wrong will be made right.

A Certainty that Cannot Be Shaken

“We say, then, to anyone who is under trial, give Him time to steep the soul in His eternal truth. Go into the open air, look up into the depths of the sky, or out upon the wideness of the sea, or on the strength of the hills that is His also; or, if bound in the body, go forth in the spirit; spirit is not bound. Give Him time and, as surely as dawn follows night, there will break upon the heart a sense of certainty that cannot be shaken” (Amy Carmichael).

I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around what happened in Paris.

Granted, I didn’t even hear about it until I’d gotten home from work.

I turned on CNN and saw where at least 153 people had been killed in what looks like ISIS terrorist attacks on innocent civilians.

If it happened there, it could happen here. But still, the fact that it happened anywhere matters. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Attacks on liberty are a threat to liberty anywhere and everywhere.

I still don’t know why things like that happen. I know it’s a fallen and broken world. I know that people are capable of the worst acts, as evidenced by the Holocaust and Slavery and a million other atrocities.

I also know that God is in control.

I know that God can take the worst tragedies and turn them into something beautiful.

I still believe that in the end, Love wins. Jesus wins.

I know and believe with all my heart that, try as it might, darkness can never truly drive out the light. The only failure is a failure of the light when it refuses to shine.

I’m praying for Paris. I’m praying for all those who are burdened by oppression and injustice tonight.

May God have mercy on us all.


I want to be maladjusted

I was thinking about a speech Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave where he stated that he was proud to be maladjusted to things like social injustice. I like that terminology. I am also proud to be maladjusted to this world that doesn’t work and to the church when there’s too much world and not enough Word.

I want to be maladjusted to superficial relationships and fair-weather friends and to me when I am both of these.

I want to be maladjusted to when the most exclusive social circles are in church settings.

I want to be maladjusted to inauthenticity in myself and others instead of compassionately bearing one another’s burdens.

I want to be maladjusted to looking out for my own interests as I walk right past the broken and hurting without even seeing them.

I want to be maladjusted to thinking that spiritual problems can have political answers.

I want to be maladjusted to giving God my leftovers and not laying down my life for the Kingdom of Christ.

I want to be maladjusted to a self-sufficient American Church who relies on their own talents, abilities and strategies and does not cry out to the Holy Spirit out of utter need and dependency.

I want to be maladjusted to commitment-phobic Christianity when other Christians around the world are willing to pay with their lives for the privilege of what we take for granted on a daily basis.

I want to be maladjusted to anything less than building-shaking, fire-falling, Spirit-drenched revival among God’s people.

I want to be maladjusted to this world and not try to fit in, but instead be like my Lord Jesus Christ.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.