Barabbas

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Can you believe it? I’m free! After months of chains, the stench of the prison, the hopelessness of my existence—I’m free!

I waited for the guards to call my name and to lead me to the Place of the Skull. They arrested me, chained me, and sentenced me to die. I heard the crowds scream out my name. My heart pounded. I knew that this was the day. The day I would experience the torture I deserved. This was the day that I would gasp my final breath.

The punishment would soon follow. I heard them screaming, “Barabbas! Barabbas!” Their voices echoed all the way down into the depths of that dark cell where I had been chained. Then silence. I heard the voice of Pilate shouting to the people, but not loud enough for me to understand. Then I heard the mob scream out, “Crucify Him!”

And then within a few minutes I heard the guards walking down into that musty cell where I was. They opened the doors and broke the chains.

“You are free” They said. “Free? What do you mean?” I asked.

“You have been set free. Someone has taken your place.”

What is His name? The one who takes my place. What is His name? Why? Someone took my place on that cross. I must know His name. Do you know Him? This man who is dying on the hill for me, do you know His name?

Christ in you, the Hope of Glory

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“to whom God would make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations, which is Christ in you the hope of glory!

Collossians 1:27

 

As I run to him I am running toward a hope that is far greater than the fanciful, temporal acclamations of this world’s squalor. When I approach Him I cross the line of divine foolishness. For indeed I am a fool for Him. I place my battered soul and broken crown, (everything that I have embraced for hope), I place it all at the feet of Christ

I am done with solutions
I am done with dispassionate living
I am done with self-sufficiency
I am done with filthy closets and shiny steeples
I am done with running through the muck of my human righteousness
The quicksand on the outskirts of Eden

I have a hope when all hope seems lost. I have freedom when I recognize the chains. When I reach the Potter’s house, glory spins and in the dizziness there is relief.

There is a quiet understanding, a stillness of the inner soul, finding its way into the the deep recesses of my heart.
Life as I know is dead to everything alive. Yes, Christ in me. The hope of Glory

Elbow Room and Alarm Clocks

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In bed the alarm rings, I feel as if my body is 180 lbs. of cement.  God whispers, What did you expect? You haven’t taken a day off in 12 days.

Ouch!

That morning I asked:

Do I have to run quickly to and fro?
Do I have to get up today and go?
I’d rather throw bed sheets over my head
Or visit the zoo with my boys instead
I’d hand my to-dos to a wart-covered toad
And chat with a neighbor just down the road.
I’d rather run in the fields of my youth
I’d rather be 20, to tell you the truth
I’d rather sneak off with a tall stack of books
And give the librarian puzzling looks
I rather discuss life with a glass of ice tea
With someone as incredibly burned out as me.
I rather hike the Grand Canyon today
But I don’t have gas money so guess that I’ll stay.

Life, in an average 21st Century family, blows out of our window at 150 miles an hour. We barely give ourselves the elbowroom to really succeed. I know that this is a major character flaw of many guys. As men, husbands, dads and employees, we instinctively find our self-worth in doing more than just being. Sometimes I wonder how many opportunities I missed because of the words; “have to” “ought to” and “gotta”? God meant for you to leave room for him to work. If we don’t our prayer life, our parenting, our marriage, our future all suffer.

Our best days are marked in moments that usually don’t happen because we had more important things to do.  We look at our kids, in every life stage, and wonder if they’ll ever grow up and then, before we know it, we realize… they did.

Every man I know seems to think he has a warp-speed button. Perhaps that’s why we love the idea of superpowers and action heroes. I must confess I press the warp-speed button far too often. But the reverse gear is nonexistent. We don’t get any do-overs for yesterday.

So from today on, I promise to look at all the incredible blessings that are buried under my to-do lists, agendas, and behind the billboards that blur across the windshield as I shift into fifth on the open road.

I will try to give more than I get. I can’t keep it anyway. God is planning a huge end-of-the-earth bonfire. Even the antique doilies my wife bought for next-to-nothing on e-Bay will be ashes.

I will make it job #1 to hang on for dear life to my family, my friends, my mission, and my Jesus. Everything else I’ll move to the back of the line.

Yesterday I went to the Dr.

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Found out a have a blocked saliva gland and swollen Lymph Node. Wonderful….

Other than that. Looks like I have a place to preach Sunday morning. Caleb will be playing the drums at Alpine. Still haven’t heard from Darlene since Tuesday about how her week is going in Nashville.  She has been around friends so I pray she is having a refreshing time.

Caleb and I are making it at home. Trying to get him on a better sleep schedule. I’m really going to have to figure out transportation for Sunday with Caleb at Alpine and myself somewhere near Vidalia, LA.

I Saw You

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(A Prayer of Benediction for the Lord’s Supper or Easter Celebration) 
Lord, I want to ask for Your forgiveness. Tonight my eyes were opened as we sang the words to those hymns that I’ve sung thousands of times. For the first time in my life I was struck by the vastness of Your grace and love for me, and it pierced my heart. I looked at my hands that have so many times brought You shame as I have clinched them in anger. As I have pointed the finger of blame at the innocent, as I have held forbidden fruit—these hands were never pierced. And yet the loving hands that fed and healed and served, those perfect hands of grace were pierced for me.

As we prayed I touched my forehead, I remembered my moments of rage when I accused and fussed and frowned. But my brow was never pierced. And yet Your brow was pierced by thorns. Your wounded head was bleeding. You shed Your blood for me.

Lord, I know that I’ve heard the story a thousand times. I believed it. And it was true. But tonight . . . it was as if for the first time I looked You in the eyes and I felt the holiness of worshiping a God who died. A God who gave His own life for me.

My feet have never felt the gnawing pain that You endured on the cross that day.

My shoulders have never carried the burden of the world in the shape of a cross.

I have never been stripped of everything to die a sinner’s death.

My back never scourged . . .

My face never spit upon . . .

Oh Lord, the agony, the humiliation, the torment—the love.

How could it be?

How could You love me that much?

Tonight, as we took the bread and drank from the cup, I felt the holy presence of Your love.

Thank You, Lord. I don’t understand Your love. I probably never will. But I want You to know that tonight I saw You, and I will never be the same again.

Neediness

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He is fathering me
even in the days I cannot see
Through every trial I face.
He is there even in my disgrace.
Every lonely, broken place.
I am held together bone by bone
and I do not walk alone.
How my neediness has grown.
In my aging days I have come to see
how completely dependent I must be.

The Stuff that Warriors Dream

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This warfare for the Hero’s bliss

What thing is valued more that this?

it supercedes the stoic state

the frowning face of folly’s fate

The quest for truth, “The Shining Next”

the simplied in life complex

For all I see in beauty’s good

I dream of life lived as it should.

For I am not the plodding type

I dream of dragons in the night

Of captivating, high romance

that rises from each circumstance

Where good men overcome their foe

Where heroes fight to overthrow

The strongholds of the darker schemes

THIS is the stuff a warrior dreams.

The Net

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Narrator: The kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down in the lake and caught all kinds of fish.

Narrator: When it was full, the fisherman pulled it up on the shore. (Actors pantomime pulling a net out of the water with much vocal effort.)

Narrator: Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.

(Actors pantomime the separation of fish from waste.)

• I hate seaweed. It always seems to clog the net.

• Remember, the Master said only fish.

• Sure are a bunch of clams!

• Hey! Get that octopus out of here!

• Oh, great! A holy mackerel!

• Look, a large mouth bass!

• In salt water? That’s impossible.

• Use your imagination—this is only a play!

• Oops, I forgot.

• Why are the eels always on my side of the net?

• A crab!

• There’s another one.

• They sure are good to eat, but remember what the captain said . . .

All: Only fish.

• Too bad.

Narrator: This is how it will be at the end of the age.

Narrator: The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous.

• I hate sin. It always seems to clog the net!

• Remember, the Master said only the redeemed.

• Sure are a bunch of fornicators.

• Get that blasphemer out of here!

• Oh great, a Christian!

• Look, a short-winded pastor!

• That’s impossible.

• Use your imagination—this is only a play!

• Oops, I forgot.

• Why are the gossipers always on my side of the net?

• A church member!

• Hey! There’s another one.

• They sure do look good, but remember what the captain said . . .

All: Only Christians.

• Too bad.

 

 

He is I AM

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He is I AM
I AM your strength
I AM your warrior
I AM your advocate
I AM your provider
I AM your comfort
I AM your bread
I AM your escape
I AM your companion
I AM your compass
I AM your ransom
I AM your future
I AM your purpose
I AM your truth
I AM your ambassador
I AM your covering
I AM your refreshment
I AM your physician
I AM your peace
I AM your strength
I AM your portion
I AM your joy
I AM your hero
I AM your heart mender
I AM your glory
I AM your good
I AM the friend of sinners
I AM the beginning and end
I AM ENOUGH
you are ACCEPTED
you are FORGIVEN
you are PARDONED
you are WELCOMED
you are CHERISHED
you are PURSUED
you are COMPLETE
you are LOVED
you are CHOSEN
you are RESCUED
you are ADOPTED
you are MARKED
you are COVERED
you are made RIGHTEOUS
you are REDEEMED.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:31