Category Archives: Easter

Waiting to exhale

starting blocks

“Runners, take your mark…get set…”

 

Now hold it right there.

 

Have you ever noticed the peculiar rituals that Olympic sprinters go through at the beginning of their races? They not only perform weird—probably superstitious—stretching routines, but they also take forever before they stop fidgeting and fussing in the starting blocks.

 

It’s a common thing for sprinters to do.

 

The reason they take so long getting settled is because they know that once they’re “set” they aren’t allowed to move again until the gun signals the start of their race. They also know that a set position is really tough to hold.

 

When a sprinter stays set for too long their arms get shaky, their stress levels spike, and they risk incurring a false start.

 

It seems that a lot of people today are stuck in the set position. They’re holding their breath, wondering what will happen with our global instabilities, our shaky financial institutions, and our exhausting presidential campaigns. They’re poised and taut, ready to run their race, but not exactly sure where the lane in front of them is taking them.

 

Fortunately Easter weekend has an answer. To every stressed-out sprinter still in the starting blocks, Easter cries out: “You’re still waiting to exhale…but God already has! While you hold your breath, fearful of tomorrow, God has already made provision for your future.”

 

The closer we move toward Jesus Christ the more freely we can begin breathing again. The more we exhale our anxiety, by inhaling His peace, the more strength we receive to run with fresh purpose, smile at the future, and help make our world a better place. Let’s go for it. Let’s lean into Jesus, and let’s run the race assigned to us.

 

God bless you this Easter weekend!

 

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You and your insecurities

elvisIf you’re like me, and most adults I know, your insecurities have evolved with you over the years.

When I was a child, I was insecure about being too skinny. My parents and siblings traumatized me by calling me “Hallelujah Bare Bones” after a character in a book (sorry, family, for publicly calling you out on that one :)).

When I was an adolescent, I became insecure about being too introverted. And as a young adult, my insecurities shifted to my ever-vanishing head of hair.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on my given mood, as a fully grown man today, no one ever calls me “Hallelujah Bare Bones,” I don’t mind being an introvert, and I no longer have hair to worry about. My insecurities have all gone away.

Except for that other list of fears and worries that keeps popping up.

As a child, I never worried about money or our global economy. I didn’t know the difference between a “bull” or a “bear” market, and I wasn’t overly afraid of international dictators and their loathing for America. I didn’t feel anxiety about raising children in an unstable world, and I never really imagined that pain, loss, heartache, and grief might be central themes in the story of my life.

I didn’t know how mean or shaky the world could be.

Fortunately, I learned something in my sheltered, idyllic childhood that has sustained me as an adult. I learned it from Elvis Presley.

On one of his religious CDs (actually, I think it was an 8-track tape), Elvis Presley sang these words: “I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future…”

Isn’t that a beautiful thought? And it’s true. The consistent and pervasive message of the Bible is that God can sustain your life no matter what comes your way. Indeed, Jeremiah 29:11 quotes God as saying, “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.”

This Easter season, let’s lean more closely into the only one who is truly and forever unshakable.

Not the conquering warlord

warrior on a horseA donkey, a red carpet made of cast aside robes, palm branches waved in the air, and little children shouting, “Hosanna!”

That was the extent of the pomp and circumstance with which Jesus commenced His Passion Week. It was hardly the entrance of a conquering hero. Indeed, the Roman warlords of that day would have scorned such a humble entrance.

He was only days away from defeating sin, death, hell, and the grave, and yet Jesus entered Jerusalem in simplicity and “approachability.”

It was vintage Jesus.

From the moment of His birth when common shepherds helped Joseph and Mary count His fingers and toes, to dinners with both preachers and prostitutes, to this innocuous entrance into Jerusalem, Jesus made Himself “reachable” by the average Joe.

In fact after this ignoble entrance into the city He removed His robe and washed the sweaty feet of His followers. It was hardly the action of a Caesar or a Greek god, and yet it embodied the actions of the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Ours is a backwards kingdom. We push the down button to go up, we serve to be great, we give our lives away to find them, and our King approaches Palm Sunday amid the laughter and delight of little children.

Deep Christology for Easter Weekend

He hungered—yet He fed thousands.

Cross & Clouds

He thirsted—yet He exclaimed, “Whosoever thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”

He was tired—yet He is the “rest” of the weary and the burdened.

He pays tax—yet He uses a fish to do it.

He is called a “Samaritan, demonically possessed”—but He rescues the man who came down from Jerusalem and fell among thieves.

Yes, He is recognized by demons, drives out demons, drowns deep a legion of spirits, and sees the prince of demons falling like lightning.

He is stoned, yet not hit.

He prays, yet He hears prayer.

He weeps, yet He puts an end to weeping.

He asks where Lazarus is laid—He was a man, yet He raises Lazarus from the dead.

He is sold, and cheap was the price—thirty pieces of silver; yet He buys back the world at the mighty cost of His own blood.

A sheep, He is led to the slaughter—yet He shepherds Israel and the whole world as well.

A lamb, He is dumb—yet He is “Word,” proclaimed in the world.

He is weakened, wounded—yet He cures every disease and every weakness.

He is brought up to the tree and nailed to it—yet by the tree of life He restores us.

Yes, He saves even a thief crucified with Him.

He surrenders His life, yet He has power to take it again.

He dies, but He vivifies and by death destroys death.

He is buried, yet He rises again.

He goes down to Hades, yet He leads souls up, ascends to heaven, and will come again to judge the quick and the dead.*

This Easter, let’s stand in fresh awe and wonder of the person of Jesus Christ!

*(Note: this essay is an excerpt from St. Gregory’s “Third Theological Oration” dated in the 300s AD)

Easter dresses

Jesus resurrected and Mary Magdalene

Image via Wikipedia

I couldn’t be more melted.

I’m glad they don’t know how I’m feeling because, if they did, they could easily take advantage of me right now. I probably couldn’t tell them “no” to save my life. They’re wearing their Easter dresses, getting ready for the special morning where we’ll celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and there’s something about watching them curl their hair and paint their toes that is speaking to me on a deeper level than simply my natural love for my daughters–it’s stirring my soul on a “destiny” level

It’s speaking to me of Easter.

Captured in their freshness and beauty is the essence of Easter Sunday. Easter is about the death of death, and the resurrection of hope. It’s about clean slates, and new beginnings, and parties being planned in heaven. It’s about the stain of our past finally being purged, and Jesus emerging from a borrowed grave to drop kick the devil. It’s about the beginning of the end for sin, sorrow, suffering, and disease. And it’s about the holiness of a pretty Easter dress draped around innocence and trust.

Think new this Easter! Think big! Jesus loves you personally and has reserved an eternal place for you beside Him in heaven.

I pray that this Easter would be everything for you that God intends it to be.

Know you are loved!