Saturday, March 30, 2013

What do you see?

This afternoon we took our daughter to see a movie.  She has had an exceptionally good week at school and the movie was one way in which we wanted to show her our appreciation.  We have shown it all week in other ways, but being 6 years-old the movie is what really stands out in her mind.

It was an animated kid’s movie, one that had a seemingly unending series of previews for other movies.  I wasn't
 paying much attention to them when I heard this:

“Just because you don’t see something doesn't mean it’s not there.”

That got my attention.  I think it was spoken in regard to the characters in a movie, characters that were too small to be seen by the principal characters.  Maybe along the line of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids! 

I have been reading Acts 9:1-6 over the past few days, which is the opening part of Saul’s conversion story.  Saul, travelling from Jerusalem to Damascus, is suddenly in the presence of a bright light.  Verses 4-6 say:

And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”

And that is it.  From that point onward Saul is incontrovertibly a believer in Jesus.  He doesn't see Jesus.  He doesn’t say anything in response to the voice besides his "Who are you" question, not even something as simple as “I believe.”  But there is never another moment in the Bible, neither in the book of Acts, nor anywhere else in the New Testament, where Saul (later Paul) is anything but a man whose feet are firmly planted on faith in Jesus.    

Tomorrow is Easter, the day when Christians throughout the world remember the resurrection of Jesus from the death he suffered on Good Friday.  And He still lives today.

We don’t see Jesus physically, but we know that He lives and reigns eternally.  And because He lives we know that He will give us eternal life as well.  Skeptics of the Christian Gospel may deny this, because after all, “Seeing is believing.” But Hebrews 11:1 says,

         “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Like Saul/Paul, I haven’t seen Jesus physically, but I know He lives and that His promises are sure.  May He reveal Himself powerfully, and personally, to you too, for your joy and peace, and His glory.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A matter of perspective

I was reading a novel yesterday and in one scene the central character was on an airplane, awaiting take-off.  The wait was a bit longer than usual and he was feeling some anxiety about being on a plane, something which could potentially crash.  He knew, as most people do, that planes do crash but also that those events are exceedingly rare.  And as he thought about the plane, and perhaps a brush with his own mortality, he asked himself this question:

Could there be a person alive whose life was so full (loved ones so well-loved, affairs so well-ordered) that thoughts of an imminent demise would seem in any way acceptable?”

That struck me as an interesting question, one that in the sense it was asked, and if it was asked to me, my answer would likely be ‘no,’ but when considered a bit differently my answer would be an unqualified ‘yes.’

Today marks four years since our youngest daughter came into our family.  No matter how well-organized, or whatever, my life is at any one point, I think it will be another full 20 years before I will feel that I will have done my part to ensure that her feet are planted firmly enough for navigating life in this world.  In the sense of tending to the life responsibilities I currently have my “imminent demise,” as the author called it, would be unacceptable.

But when considered from a different perspective, from where I stand as a believer in Jesus, the notion of my “imminent demise” has a different look.  And that is because no part of my life, death included, is outside of the knowledge and authority of God.  From that place, my death, whenever it happens, is not just acceptable, but dare I say appropriate.

The Bible speaks to us time and again of God’s intimate knowledge of everything in the world.  One of the most well-known examples is during the Sermon on the Mount, when in Matthew 6:26 Jesus says,

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

In the first question-and-answer of the Heidelberg Catechism we are reminded of how firmly all who have faith in God, through Christ, are held by Him.  It says:

Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own,1 but belong—body and soul, in life and in death2—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.3
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,4 and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.5 He also watches over me in such a way6 that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven;7 in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.8
Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life9 and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.10

1 1 Cor. 6:19-20 
2 Rom. 14:7-9 
3 1 Cor. 3:23; Titus 2:14 
4 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:2 
5 John 8:34-36; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:1-11 
6 John 6:39-40; 10:27-30; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 Pet. 1:5 
7 Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 21:16-18 
8 Rom. 8:28 
9 Rom. 8:15-16; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13-14 
10 Rom. 8:1-17

I left the scripture references in so you can look through the Bible to read the sources that were used for this powerful affirmation of security in Christ.

My death won’t happen outside of where I am with Christ.  It can’t.  It may not happen at the time I think is best but it will be at the time that He has always known as best.  My prayer is that in both life and in death I can point others to the glory of Christ Jesus.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Life is Blooming!

Today is Palm Sunday and I had to work.  I’m not complaining, I hope.  I’m not crazy about being at the hospital on a Sunday but working weekends are part of the job and this weekend it was my turn. 

I did miss going to church and gathering for worship with God’s people as Holy Week begins.  For the Christian this is a big week.  It starts today with recalling Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, then moves on to Maundy Thursday and remembering the Last Supper, followed by Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  In my mind those last two days are two parts of one single event, because neither part has meaning without the other.  It isn’t the death and resurrection of Jesus but the death-and-resurrection of Jesus. 

When I was on the far side of the hospital I had an opportunity to go across the street to get some coffee and right there, at the cash register, was a pleasant surprise.  There was a sign, one that most unexpectedly pointed to the events of this week.  It said, “Life is Blooming” in large letters, with smaller print afterwards that read, “Easter is March 31.”

I know full well that the primary intent of the sign was to remind us of spring and the new life that we will be seeing in nature as winter fades from view.  But it was the mention of Easter on the sign that brought to mind the passage from Colossians 1 that my wife and I read last night, particularly verses 13-14:

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

These verses are the essence of the meaning of Easter.  In the death-and-resurrection, in the movement from Good Friday-through-Easter, in the imagery of the cross-and-empty tomb we remember that Jesus delivers us from all that enslaves us, giving us a freedom that lasts forever.  He takes us from a place of total darkness and brings us into His glorious and everlasting light. 

It may still look like winter outside but life, the life in Jesus that really matters, is blooming.

Life is blooming indeed!

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Drop Cloth Jesus

While skimming the news online today an article caught my eye.  It appears that someone was unfolding a drop cloth and saw what they believed to be the image of Jesus on it.  I’ll confess that I didn’t read the story or watch the video clip.  Just seeing the connection of a drop cloth and Jesus was all that I needed to know.  (In case you don’t know what a drop cloth is, it is a large sheet or tarp that you use to cover furniture or the floor when you are painting or making some other kind of big mess.)  The picture above is of the Shroud of Turin, which for all practical and theological purposes is about the same as the Drop Cloth Jesus.  I recall once hearing that someone saw the image of Jesus in a grilled cheese sandwich.  Here is a link for the news story on the drop cloth, and also link to the sandwich.

The problem that I have with things like the Shroud and the Drop Cloth are that at the very best they are icons, images that point to the mystery of God and nothing more.  In some faith traditions they are prayed to, or perhaps through.  I confess, again, that I don’t know much about the theology underlying icons.  And at their worst, like all things that we wrongly pursue, they end up drawing us away from God.

Icons may indeed point to the mystery of God, but they are a poor substitute for something of infinitely greater value, something that points not merely to the mystery of God but is the very means by which God fully reveals Himself to us: His word as written in the Bible.

If a real “picture” of Jesus were to be found we could be satisfied in our desire to know what He looked like as He walked through the ancient Middle East.  But seeing a picture of Him doesn’t compare in the least to what we already know of Him in the Bible.  From reading the Revelation of John I can be certain of two things about Jesus.  One is that I will indeed see Him one day, and the other is that His image will be glorious in ways that right now I can barely begin to understand.  A glory that is not conveyed well through a drop cloth, a shroud or a sandwich.

So rather than pondering the Drop Cloth Jesus, or any other icons and images, I want to give you something else to read and ponder as Holy Week begins. 

Here is a link to a collection of readings for Holy Week from the Desiring God web site, something I also stumbled across this morning.  There is a reading for each day, from Palm Sunday through Easter.  This is just one of many good resources available to help us to feast on God’s word as we approach and remember the pivotal moment of human history, the death and resurrection of Jesus.

“Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” I John 3:2

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mind the Gap

Last summer we had the opportunity to travel to England and Scotland on vacation.  While we were in London we relied on public transportation to get around, using buses  trains and the subway.  Whenever we were getting on or off the subway or a train, and every time one that we were traveling on came to a stop, we heard the refrain “Mind the gap.”    

“Mind the gap” is the reminder to pay attention to the gap between the subway/train and the platform, so that you don’t catch your foot and fall, or worse.  It is such an important message that it is repeated several times at each stop.  After a while it becomes a part of the background noise, but that doesn’t lessen its importance. 

At work today I did a training program in quality and one of the concepts in improving quality had to do with “closing gaps,” which was illustrated with a picture from the London transit system.

Thinking about closing gaps, or minding gaps, got me to thinking about faith, particularly the security of the Christian in their faith in Christ.

Sometimes we go through periods where we have doubts about our faith.  There can be all sorts of reasons for our doubts.  We may wonder if we are really “saved.”  Did we say the right prayer?  Did our life really change when we came to faith or did we slide back into old habits, the kinds of things we know we shouldn’t be doing anymore?  Are we really “good enough” to be saved, or do we have to do something else?  If God really loves us then why aren’t things work out for us?  Is there some sort of gap separating us from God?  Do we have to “mind the gap” in our life to remain in God’s good graces?

The good news is that when we have faith there aren’t any gaps in God’s hold on us.  There aren’t any gaps in His love for us.  His love is perfect.  He couldn’t love us more and He can’t love us less.

“If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

And earlier, in Romans 8:38-39, Paul writes:

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God knows that we have rough patches in life and that questions about our faith will come up in our minds.  And He has already answered them, with the assurance of His word in the Bible. 

There is no gap for us to worry over.  From the moment we came to faith we were His, eternally so.  The world, our friends and our culture may all say things that give rise to doubts, but His word and its promises are sure.  Come what may, we are His, now and forever.  Amen.   

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Rest for the human heart

“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” 

Those are the words that are used in many churches as worship begins on Sunday morning, and they are the words that came to my mind during a wakeful period last night, particularly the phrase “Rejoice and be glad!”

Some days it seems very easy to “rejoice and be glad.”  As I look around the part of the world in which I live I can see many signs of God’s goodness in nature.  Time spent with my wife, our youngest daughter, our other children and grandchildren, our parents…these are often moments to be glad.  Events at work, time with friends, even time with strangers…all can bring moments of joy and gladness. 

But life isn’t always a bed of roses.  Not my life or anyone else’s.  There are times of disappointment and struggle.  Times of brokenness and pain.  Some people live in places that are so dark, physically, emotionally and/or spiritually, that I can’t even really comprehend how they manage from one day, or from one moment, to the next.   

We may find joy and gladness in our family, or our job or some other pursuit, but that joy is transient and will eventually end.  Similarly we may find respite from our pain in addictions, or seeking to make those around us feel worse than we are.  These moments of seeming respite are also temporary.  Our hearts long for more, they long for something eternal, a source of comfort and joy that has no end.

Augustine considered this in his Confessions, writing, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”  Similarly, Pascal wrote in his Pensees, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”

Both Augustine and Pascal point me back to the words of Matthew 11:28-30, where Jesus says,

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus invites us to give our burdens to Him.  He invites us to find our rest in Him.  He, and He alone, is the only place where we can find a sense of peace and comfort that has the power to hold us in every moment of our lives.  To firmly hold us in all of life’s goodness and in all of life’s trials.

Some of you reading this may already know the presence of Christ Jesus in your life, and I am thankful to God for that.  I hope that these words have encouraged you and that you are able to bring the peace and encouragement of Christ to those around you.

Others may be unsure of God’s love for them.  They may even deny the possibility that God could love them, or even that God exists.  If you are among those groups I want to assure you that God does exist and that His love can meet your deepest need.

A related thing that has been floating around in my mind the past few days has been the song Wonderful, Merciful Savior by Selah.  It is a beautiful song, both in words and music.  The words testify to the refuge and peace that are only known in God.  The chorus says,

“You are the One that we praise
You are the One we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for”

Here is a link to the full lyrics, and here is a link to a version of the song I am particularly fond of.

May your heart find its rest in Christ Jesus, now and forever.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 11, 2013


It is March in Minnesota, and one thing that means is snow.  We had something on the order of 10 inches last Monday, and last night, just six days later, we had another 8 inches.  Last week’s snow was very light and fluffy.  Last night’s was different.  It was the heavy, sticky kind.  Excellent for making snowmen and laborious to remove, no matter what method one uses.  With most of the month yet to come we are very likely to get another large storm before spring really arrives.

Storms that drop as much snow as the last two storms did are ones that last for several hours.  It started last night while we were out and we cleaned off the car to drive home.  Then, an hour later, the car we park outside had another thick layer on it, which I cleaned off as I moved the car to be out of the way of the snowplow.  And this morning there was another thick layer to clear off before being able to use the car. 

And while outside this morning, even before the sun came up, I could clearly see how everything was covered in white snow, undisturbed but for the deer that had walked across the yard.  Snowfalls like the ones we’ve had in the past week create significant, but temporary, barriers to daily life.  Even so, the fresh fallen snow is beautiful to look at.

Psalm 51 is a beautiful statement of David’s sorrow for sin and his request for God’s mercy.  Verse 7 came to mind as a looked at the snow this morning:

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
   wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

God’s love, poured out in Christ Jesus, is a bit like the snow that fell last week and last night.  It is relentless.  And in a sense it makes things new.

The snow falls heavily but eventually stops.  God’s love just keeps coming and coming and coming.  Even in the midst of our troubles we can see God pouring His love out on His people.

And the snow that fell here last night made everything look clean.  We had a lot of snow last week but we also had warmer weather and rain later in the week.  Things looked pretty dirty outside by Saturday.  But for a while this morning they looked pristine again.  In a similar manner, only infinitely better, God’s love washes away every last bit of the sin in our lives that separates us from Him. 

I count it a blessing to see things in nature that point me towards God, such as today’s reminder that in Christ I have been washed whiter than snow.  May you see and savor His love in your life today, and every day.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 8, 2013

"Did God actually say..."

Yesterday I got involved in an online discussion with some pastors about an issue one of them was dealing with within their congregation.  The question that was asked had already had some responses, none of which I read before putting in my two-cents.  My answer was simple and to the point.

My answer received a bit of ‘push back,’ which gave me the opportunity to add a bit of depth to my first thoughts.  Which, again, generated some response.  All of this was very civil and respectful, which is not always the case online and I appreciated the grace that was shared among the conversation partners.

The initial question had to do with a matter of behavior, one that I think the Bible speaks clearly about.  The other side of the conversation had to do with situations and circumstances in which the behavioral choice being considered would be acceptable, perhaps even encouraged.  While agreeing that there are many situations which are personally challenging, and where we would wish to create a space for acceptable exceptions, as Christians we read our Bibles and seek God’s strength to live in the ways He leads us. 

Thinking about this again as I was running this morning I believe that where we often stumble is when we wrestle, consciously or not, with the question asked in Genesis 3:1,

“Did God actually say…”

That question, which unfortunately was not asked last night, lies at the heart of the discussion.  It is a question that is relevant time and again for each of us each day, as we confront choice after choice with the option of believing what God says and acting accordingly, or not. 

Paul is absolutely correct when he wrote to the Ephesians and said in 6:12:

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

Sin, our active rebellion against God, is an ever-present reality, driven by a relentless, but, in an eternal sense, an ultimately futile cosmic force. 

We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but we do wrestle in situations that are palpably real in their physical and emotional dimensions.  And as Paul writes on, in verses 13- 18, God has equipped us for the struggle:

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”

The next time we find ourselves asking “Did God actually say…” let’s remember that He did, and also that he has equipped us to follow Him in obedience, to His glory.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Book Review: Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper

What is the nature of the vocation known as “pastor”?  While the pastoral calling has many facets and characteristics, one that John Piper adamantly believes should be avoided at all costs is the idea of pastor as a ministry professional.  This is the focal point around which the revised edition of his book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals  (Nashville: Crossway, 2013), revolves around.  While a pastor may possess a particular skill set Piper’s vision of ministry is more concerned with the primacy of serving as one called by God to minister among God’s people, reliant on God’s power rather  than anything else.

Piper draws from his 30+ years of pastoral ministry to offer encouragement and wisdom to all who are called to serve as pastors today.  He addresses matters of character, theology and culture, providing insights into ways in which the pastor needs to tend their own person in order to tend God’s people well.  The book is saturated with scripture, as Piper draws extensively from the Old and New Testaments to ground his lines of reasoning, as well as citing references from throughout the church’s history.

There are two issues that may dissuade certain readers from picking up this book and drawing from its wisdom.  One is that Piper is a Baptist, known for embracing a complentarian model of ministry, rather than an egalitarian one. While he uses the form “Brothers,…” as the title for each chapter I believe that the wisdom included in each chapter is of equal value for women serving in pastoral ministry.  Additionally, as a Baptist, he holds to baptism as an ordinance, rather than a sacrament.  As someone who fully embraces orthodox Reformed theology I found that Piper’s words on baptism could be used constructively not only in reference to baptism, but also within a covenantal understanding of the Lord’s Supper.

In the past few years I have read a few of Piper’s books and listened to him speak on several occasions.  His mantra, if you will, has been and remains, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”  In Brothers, We Are Not Professionals Piper ‘s overarching goal is for pastors to more fully pursue glorifying God in their personal lives and public ministries, so that those they minister among are enabled to do the same.  He accomplishes this purpose and I highly commend this book.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

God’s zeal for His people

Earlier this evening I had the privilege of leading our congregation’s mid-week Lenten worship service.  Here is the short meditation I gave on the text of John 2:13-22.

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
This story of Jesus throwing the money-lenders out of the Temple is familiar to many of us.  Jesus openly displays anger, righteous anger, and he uses a whip to forcefully clear out all of the people using the Temple as a place of business.  The Temple was built by Solomon and consecrated as a place of worship, as the very place where God promised to dwell and meet with his people.  But as this scene opens it is anything but a holy place.  It is a mess. 

In a similar manner we may reflect on our lives, seeing the good in them, but also seeing the not-so-good.  Some of the not-so-good may be there accidentally.  We didn’t really intend it.  It just sort-of happened.  And some of the not-so-good is most definitely there because we want it to be.  We tuck it in the corners.  Perhaps pretend it isn’t there.  But we know it is, and sometimes we delight in its presence.  We know about the not-so-good stuff is in our lives and we like it.  Sometimes we prefer it.  We wall it off from other people, keeping our private enjoyment to ourselves.  We wall it off from God. 

Sometimes we have genuine regret for the not-so-good stuff in our lives.  It is there, and deep down we know it shouldn’t be there.  There are times when we really do want to get rid of it.  We try.  We try hard, but it still clings to us.  Habit, uncertainty, or unwillingness keep it there, doing its damage, bit-by-bit-by-bit.

Here is the real Good News in this passage: “Zeal for your house will consume me.

Because Jesus has zeal for God’s Temple he acts decisively to cleanse it.  It has been consecrated to God and Jesus cleanses it to restore the Temple to its God-intended purpose.  And as John makes clear in the second part of our reading, Jesus is pointing our attention to the perfect Temple that will be known in the resurrected Jesus. 

In Ephesians 2:19-22 Paul writes this:

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Paul takes that image of Jesus as God’s Temple and shows us its fulfillment, which is that we too are joined into this dwelling place of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  John writes “zeal for your house will consume me” and that zeal applies most fully to Jesus’ passion for his disciples.  For John.  For Paul.  For me.  For each of you.

In Lent we are invited to a time of self-examination.  Let’s take a moment right now to silently consider our own lives. Think of some of that not-so-good stuff of your life.  The habits, the patterns of thinking, of behaving.  Think of the stuff that inhabits us and gets in the way of our relationship with God.  They may be common things, things that nearly everyone does but which are not the way that Christians are called to live.  Or it may be something else, an area of sin known only to you and to God. 

Let’s take a moment of silence and prayer and seek the Lord’s presence and his zeal for us, his people, to cleanse us for him, to his eternal glory.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.