Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

I tried to think of a good one-liner for a Facebook status update this Good Friday. Quips like “Happy Good Friday everyone” or “Have a good Good Friday” just weren’t working. Well, happy doesn’t quite work with the gravity of what we’re commemorating, right? And “good Good”—well, that’s not working either.

But Good Friday and Jesus’s sacrifice are good.

First of all, Jesus dying on the cross is very good because God oversaw and accomplished His good pleasure. (see Psalm 111:1-2; 115:3; Isaiah 53:10) All for us.

Second of all, Jesus’s sacrifice gives us life, abundant life. (see John 10:10)

Third, Jesus’s sacrifice took away the sins of the world (see John 1:29). The perfect atonement.

Fourth, Jesus made a way for us to be forgiven (have a guilt-free conscience) and rescued from condemnation (including damnation). By accepting His free gift, we are granted salvation. Heaven will be our future home.

Fifth, Jesus calls us friends. We gain friendship with the Creator, partnership with the ultimate Bridegroom. What a generous, kind and giving God we serve!

We hand over our bondage to Him and gain freedom.

We hand over our worries and gain peace.

We relinquish our sins and gain forgiveness.

We hand over our hearts and gain His.

We hand over our lives and receive abundant life.

That’s why Good Friday is good. So, good Good Friday, dear readers. Be blessed in Him today! He has made a way for you!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Bubble Truck

We were just headed to our church offices for a meeting, minding our own business, when a bubble truck lumbered by. Yup, that’s what I said, a bubble truck. I couldn’t quite catch the writing on the side to see the business’s name. I did see the driver—young-ish male, seemingly unconcerned he was leaving bubbles in his wake as he drove. Can you picture this? A black business truck that produces bubbles as the driver idles or proceeds through unsuspecting intersections. Highly unusual.

For longs moments after he’d passed us, we watched the bubbles drift, living on among the crowded intersection as various lanes were loosed by green traffic signals. He’d left a witness behind.

What kind of witness do you leave behind?

Do people have good things to say about you after you walk away? Do you yell at store clerks or gesture at other drivers?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because twice I’ve come across known Christian leaders (unrelated to my church) who’ve come across in negative, even dangerous ways. How do you come across?

Bubbles imply youthfulness. When was the last time you got out the wand and bottle of soap to make bubbles for someone else to chase, or just for fun? Yeah, it’s mostly a kid thing. But being a good witness isn’t about a certain age. We don’t get another chance to leave an impression once we leave. So, we need to be intentional about the impression we leave.

If you’re not already doing this, try being intentional about the impression you make and want to leave, both in social situations, with your family and friends, and in life.

Will your “bubbles” (read: impact) be resilient, lasting as people come and go, rising with the wind, unconcerned about people’s opinions or busy-ness? The bubbles from the bubble truck left an impression I won’t soon forget. They didn’t burst at the first sign of air currents. They rose and swirled and didn’t mind the mocking of some passers-by who couldn’t imagine the whimsy of the bubbles.

And they floated by while we watched and smiled.

When people see you, when they catch your witness, will they watch and smile?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Other Side of the Wall

Our church uses half of a school gymnasium for services on Sundays. There’s a temporary wall with a doorway between halves. At a certain time every week, the worship team and other leaders meet before service to pray in the “quiet” half. This last week, I went over just before our appointed time. No one was there yet. So, I headed back through the doorway to see where the other leaders were. They were attending to last minute things. I sat down, chatted with one of them. Then we went over together.

It’s lonely on the other side of the wall.

Sometimes we get hurt and then erect walls. We fear rejection, but we wear an expression of “do not come near me,” which other people read loud and clear, and they give us what we want—space. Is that really what we want?

It’s lonely on the other side of the wall.

What we really want is to belong. To be loved. To know we matter and that people accept us. To know we’re making a difference right alongside friends who have the same purpose. That’s what’s so powerful about being part of a team.

But it’s our choice.

If you use guards to protect yourself, analyze them. Maybe you don’t need them any more. Maybe they’re actually sabotaging you, and keeping you from having your real needs met.

Maybe your walls are obsolete.

• Are you attempting to be your own guard, to protect your own heart? God wants that role. In the Psalms, David refers to God as his defense over and over. Yes, we guard our hearts and minds from evil, but we weren’t meant to block out all people as if we can live without them. (We can’t.)

• Do you feel vulnerable? Commit yourself, spirit, mind, and heart to God. Entrust Him with you more fully than you may have done before. He’ll be your guard. And when you get hurt (not if) go back to God and let Him comfort you and have His way with the other parties.

• Are you a sensitive soul with a tender heart hidden behind that wall? Jesus is ever-tenderhearted and He had no walls shooing people away. To be Christlike is to be like Him in that way. (I know, scary proposition.)

• If your walls are due to bitterness brought by unforgiveness, ask God for grace to forgive. You might find after you have forgiven that you feel so light you’re ready to risk relationships again.

But you have to ask yourself: is loneliness really better than a mix of joy with occasional stinging interactions with other broken people? I’m guessing the answer is no.

Come out from behind that wall. It’s lonely back there. It’s not where you belong. God has good plans for you on this side. And rather than continuing to “confirm” the lie that you are always “rejectable” by rejecting others first and watching them take clues from you and pull away, try being a giving friend who cares for others. That kind of lifestyle will come back around to bless you.