Category Archives: Easter

The space between resurrection and ascention…

Happy Good Friday everyone!  What a sacred and important day for the church!  The violence, agony and weight of the cross…all as a sacrifice for the sin and brokenness of humanity!  I hope that you take, or have taken a moment to reflect and ponder today.

In my preparation for Easter Sunday, I have taken considerable time to study the stories of Jesus being with his disciples after the resurrection and before the ascension.  It’s clear that the Christian faith celebrates both the cross and the empty tomb, but we rarely speak of the space between God’s acts of love and power.  It’s not too common to read about or hear a sermon on Jesus’ interactions with Peter, Thomas, John and the others…because in a first glance of this, it’s seems just a simple piece to the story.  But it’s not…

In John chapter 21, we read about Peter and some of the other followers hanging out on the lake shore.  In fact, it says that they decide to go fishing when Jesus appears to them and calls them to him.  Together, they have breakfast.

There were numerous times when Jesus appeared to his disciples, and what’s clear is that Jesus is not in any way a ghost, or spirit.  He is fully alive as he was before the cross, and this is important to the story and to our lives today…

I like what the theologian, NT Wright, says in that for too many years the church has been in the business of “soul-making”.  Meaning that we have celebrated a risen Christ who then ascended to Heaven where he waits to one day bring the believers home to him. 

If this is our understanding of Easter, then we’re simply missing the point of the Story!  Jesus came to his disciples not as a ghost, but as a human who gave them understanding of their new life because of a risen Christ.  He rose from the grave to show them how the new humanity was to live in a world, that ready or not, was experiencing the invasion of God’s Kingdom! 

From this point forward, the church existed for the world!  Not just as “soul makers” who believed that it’s all about eternal security, but as disciples who had first-hand experience  of God’s Kingdom and the new life that came with it’s embrace.

The image of God’s son on a cross certainly leads one to repentance.  The image of a risen Christ gives us hope for both today and eternity.  But the Jesus in-between teaches us to be fully alive and to use this new life to display the risen Christ in a world seeking truth, hope, and love!

Love and Peace.

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“Hey God, is this stuff going to be on the final exam?”

Not long ago, I spoke to somoeone who is just setting out on her journey as a Christ-follower.  We talked for about an hour, and it was so refreshing to hear someone living in the excitement, joy and redemption of discovering the grace and truth of Christ!  One of the things that she said to me came at no surprise really, but it was still discouraging.  She told me that in her brief experience of attendaing church she couldn’t help but notice that often what she hears there doesn’t match up with the teachings of Jesus.  She asked if I thought that the words of Jesus were too difficult to teach to today’s audience.  That my friends, is great insight from someone many would ignore as too young in her faith to understand!

Redwood Hills Church is taking a few weeks to explore some of those “Difficult Words of Jesus”, and it’s been a great teaching series thus far as we’re attempting to explain context and then explore it’s challenges and relevance for us today.  It’s not the typical Easter series…but I think that’s ok.

Being the lead pastor of this amazing community of people means a lot of time invested into study and preparedness for teaching.  While I love to teach, I’m just not one of those pastors who needs to be the single voice for Redwood Hills.  I know that the vision needs to come from me and I probably teach majority of the time, but I believe strongly in forming and growing a community of disciples and not an organization built on my personality.  I’m the lead pastor, but it’s not my church!

We are so blessed to have a talented, experienced and engaging teaching team!  While we’re still praying and seeking for a woman to join the teaching team, the blend of style and experience is making for a uniquely effective team. 

Last Sunday one of our teachers, Jack Wisemore who is a theologian and professor at Northwest University began to share in his talk about how as a professor one of the most disrupting things that happens in his class is when he’s in the middle of a good lecture and a student raises their hand to ask…”is this stuff going to be on the final?”.  As a teacher Jack says there are times when a student misses the whole point of the instruction.  Instead of ingesting knowledge and context of Scripture…they sometimes only want what they will be tested on.  For these students, it’s about the grade…not the understanding and application of the Bible.

For the past week I’ve been pondering Jack’s illustration and realize how often I have read the scriptures, listened to sermons and prayed only because I was more concerned about my final exam…the judgment.  For many years my faith was much more about getting to Heaven and not really about hearing God’s voice…becoming a follower of  His son, Jesus…and learing to do the things that are evident of a love for God. 

It comes back to what my new friend said when she quickly noticed that what she hears by people and pastors in church doesn’t always match with what she reads in the Gospels.  It happened 2000 years ago when people understood religion better than relationship.  It happens still today as we sometimes care only for knowing and doing just enough to get to Heaven…missing much of the point and depth of God’s story meant to be lived in revolutionary ways.

May we seek to be engaged in the wild and beautiful things God is saying and doing in our world and surrender oursleves to them.  We’ll often find it difficult…but then again, Jesus never said picking up a cross and following Him would be.

Love and Peace.

Changed

I came across this amazing and beautiful song  by Aaron Neiquist today.  I’ve spent some time praying as I listen to the words.  Very fitting for this Easter season.  Enjoy.

Love and Peace.