Categories
Christian Living Repentance

The Holy North Face

Have you heard the one about the guy who washed his hands too much during the pandemic?

Repentance is like that. Cleansing of sin reveals answers from God

A church where I once served held a unique series of revival meetings. Our pastor called it a “solemn assembly.” One like good king Jehosophat proclaimed for Judah in 2 Chronicles 20:1-34.

The congregation met each evening for worship and prayer, but with no preaching. This went on for a week. As we sought God, confessing our corporate shortcomings, divine answers appeared.

It was a type of two-factor authentication–to use the cyber security lingo.

“Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol.” Psalm 24 :3-4 (NIV)

Clean hands and a pure heart: the two things needed to climb the holy north face. It’s thought-provoking here that hand washing comes BEFORE heart cleansing. That’s because the purest form of worship is repentance. I experienced this personally during those revival meetings. As my view of God became clearer, my walk with Him grew closer.

Seeking God in earnest reveals the true nature of one’s heart. In my case, there was too much of me. Recognition and a change of heart’s direction cleared the road back to the Father. But this practice hasn’t been a “one and done” event. The narrow path to heaven is susceptible to drifted snow.

Need answers? Invite yourself to a Solemn Assembly–just you and God. It will be a purifying experience. I know this because it was for me.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV)

Categories
Christian Living love

Famous Last Words

The Setting: Christ’s final Passover with His closest friends. (The time has come to sacrifice his life as a ransom for many. He shows the full extent of His love.)

Here’s how an epic Hollywood movie would have envisioned the moment:

As supper is served, Jesus rises from his seat, unsheathes a gleaming sword and says (holding it up to bask in His own reflection),

“Men, this is our finest hour. It’s time to show these religious bigots who we really are–warriors of the Living God! (raises sword toward ceiling) So be brave. Be strong. We shall all die well–except for the traitor.” (drops sword to His waist and stares out the window)

But we both know that’s not what happened.

What Jesus actually did was wash His disciples feet; something none of them was willing to do. His final act of love for them–before His death–was an act of service.

“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” Jesus – (John 13:15 NIV)

We are all aware of the seven last words of Christ, the things He said while hanging on the cross, but this was at His very public execution. What was the last thing he said (before His death) to those closest to Him–in a more private, peaceful setting?

Back at the supper table, sandwiched between His prediction of Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial, we find these famous last words:

“A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus – (John 13:34 NIV)

Service and Love

These are twin beacons of a true follower of Christ, reflections of God’s nature shared with the world.

Sadly, this is not what we see so much today. Many Christians now act more like Simon the Zealot than Simon the Leper (who hosted a dinner in Christ’s honor).

We have politicized and marginalized the simplicity of the Gospel, mixing it with a militant piosity that would make a proud Pharisee blush.

And how does this look to a lost world?

Perhaps Mahatma Gandhi said it best:

“Jesus is ideal and wonderful, but you Christians–you are not like Him.”


Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Categories
Hope resilience

Unwelcome News

It’s cancer.

You’re fired.

Killed in action.

These are words nobody wants to hear–EVER.

Yet there are times, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” as Rabbi Harold Kushner writes in his book by the same name.

Rabbi Kushner wrote this inspirational classic after his three year old son was diagnosed with a degenerative disease that meant the boy would only live into his teens. The book reveals the heart of a spiritual leader, father and vulnerable human being as he deals with one of life’s most burdensome questions: Why, God?

It’s a question we find in abundance throughout the Psalms of King David. Like a bookend on a shelf, such a heartfelt inquiry starts Psalm 10.

Why, O Lord do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

Psalm 10:1

Have you ever felt this way? I have. And the question that kept coming to mind was, “Where are you God?” But there was no immediate A after the Q.

Maybe you’ve experienced or know someone who has experienced a similar situation.

  • They were supposed to get promoted, but are out of a job instead.
  • Retired to enjoy their golden years, but then their spouse got sick.
  • Had a marriage that wasn’t supposed to fail, but did.
  • Lost loved ones, seemingly before their time, to a terrible disease.

I don’t intend for this to be a totally downer post, but reality says even the strongest believer can lose hope.

This happened to the disciples during their last meal with Jesus, when he delivered the following unwelcome news: “Guys, I’m about to be killed in action.” He also said He’d come back to life again in three days, but they didn’t hear that part. The Lord lost them at KIA.

In a moment, an ordinary Passover became the Last Supper. “This is NOT how the story is supposed to go!” blurted Peter. But it was already happening. Palm Sunday was about to become Face-Palm Friday.

This feeling persisted even AFTER the resurrection. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus spoke with two followers who said, “We had trusted (past tense) that He was the one to deliver Israel.”

Has anyone else ever been in what seemed like a totally hopeless situation–groping in the dark for answers? I have.

Apparently, King David’s critics like to taunt him with the same question over and over: “Where is your God?” (Psalm 42:3,10) However, they missed something; it was still early in the game. And like Rosabeth Moss Kanter says,

Everything looks like failure in the middle.

Near the end of Psalm 10 there is another book end, and this one isn’t a doubt filled question:

But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand.

Psalm 10:14

God sees.

God knows.

Gods acts.

Now these are words that are welcome–ALWAYS!

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1

Prayer:
Heavenly Father: Today, I choose to remember the dark seasons of my life, and to celebrate the fact that, even then and there, Jesus was all that I really needed. I praise you, God. For even though I was tempted to lose ALL hope, thanks to Your amazing grace I DID NOT!


Need help with resiliency? One of my go to sites is Don’t Lose Hope. It’s an online community focused on betrayal trauma, but addresses other life stressors as well. Please check it out!

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash