Madison sent out her support letters for her summer missions trip to Thailand just over two weeks ago. I’m so happy to say that she is just a few dollars away from raising her entire support. IN TWO WEEKS! I spoke with Madison this morning after opening three more support envelopes that arrived in the mail. She was so humbled. "Dad, I feel like I haven’t had to work for this at all."
Sometimes, in our good protestant work ethic, we anticipate that everything we do for God must require sweat, toil and pain. We forget that we have a loving Father who loves us extravagantly. He will not call us to do something without also providing for us all the we need to accomplish it.
He said, "Don’t be afraid. I know you’re looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the One they nailed on the cross. He’s been raised up; he’s here no longer. You can see for yourselves that the place is empty. Now–on your way. Mark 16:6-7 (TM)
When I was in Israel I went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jesrusalem where the traditional garden tomb is, itself, entombed in a massive medeival structure. I did the tourist thing and waited in line before crawling into the tiny rock tomb. There was a woman there on her face weeping and wailing before the tomb – until her cell phone rang. She stood up and immediately answered the phone normally, as if she were standing in line at the grocery store. She spoke for a moment, ended the call and fell back onto her face wailing once more.
I like the angel’s words to the Marys. "The place is empty – no on your way." God does not want us wasting time manufacturing emotions like tourists at "holy" sites. The message of the empty tomb is the exact opposite: "He’s ALIVE! GO! Stop worshipping the grave and spread His Message to the living."
Pilate asked again, "Aren’t you going to answer anything? That’s quite a list of accusations." Still, he said nothing. Pilate was impressed, really impressed. Mark 15:4-5 (TM)
As I was reading through Matthew and Mark these past weeks, it strikes me that there is a theme that runs consistently through these biographies: there was something about Jesus that people sensed when they were around him. Pilate was impressed enough in Jesus to go out of his way to try and release him, even when Jesus just stood there silent. The crowds sensed something different in him, far different than the other teachers of the law and rabbis. His own enemies readily admitted to his face that he was a person of integrity, not pandering to his followers or caring about public opinion.
It makes me think about what others sense when they are around me. Do they sense the presence of God? Do they, though they can’t put a finger on it, sense something different? I would hope so. I would hope that they would smell the aroma of Christ, as Paul puts it.
I hope to positively stink with God’s love today.
Last Sunday night Madison gave a talk to her youth group about her upcoming mission trip to Thailand. After her talk, the kids gathered round to lay hands on her and pray for her. I thought this picture was really cool. As she watches the financial support for her trip quickly come in and receives affirmation from many sources, I think she’s experiencing a tangible reminder of how many people love her. She’s a good kid. I’ve shed more than a few tears of pride in recent weeks, watching her take this huge step of faith.
A young man was following along. All he had on was a bedsheet. Some of the men grabbed him but he got away, running off naked, leaving them holding the sheet. Mark 14:51-52 (TM)
Tradition says that this streaker was a young John Mark, the author of the Gospel of Mark. It’s one of those little trivial details in scripture and it gave me a chuckle this morning. It’s a "guy" thing, I guess. I would have to imagine that it wasn’t funny at the time, but I’d dare to bet that after the joy of the resurrection settled in and the terror of that night faded, Peter and the boys gave him a lot of friendly ribbing about it. We tend to think of the apostles as these serious, hyper-spiritualized icons. Come on, these were salt-of-the-earth fishermen and worldly-wise guys. You know they would have had a good laugh thinking about Mark, butt naked – trying to make his way home.
Wendy and I had two rehearsals last night as we went to the first reading of Pella Shakespeare Company’s Much Ado About Nothing. Wendy is playing Beatrice and I’m playing Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon. We had an absolute blast reading through the first few acts. It’s a great group of actors and we’re excited to be part of it.
Jesus said, "You’re impressed by this grandiose architecture? There’s not a stone in the whole works that is not going to end up in a heap of rubble." Mark 13:2 (TM)
I had the privilege of standing at the temple mount a few years ago. I stood at the base of the mount, next to the foundation stones – all that was left of the temple. I also saw a model of what it looked like (see picture), and it was impressive as the disciples commented. It strikes me that Jesus came, not just to build up, but to also tear down. I wonder – what grandiose works of modern man would he dismiss as nothing but kindling for the refining fire?