Our three sons did not merit a trip to the zoo today. Recent behavior has been rather embarrassing. Back biting, arm biting, talking back, manipulating, punching, clawing, growling, stomping. Yes, the behavior of three alpha apes living in the same cage but not the type of behavior we want to flourish in pastor’s children. So, we took them to the zoo and dropped them off with a park ranger. Tempting! No, we took them to the zoo, not because they deserved it but because they needed it. We even took them for Frogurtz frozen yogurt sundaes after.
We don’t deserve purple-orange sunsets, fragrant spring flowers, and epic ocean-scapes. What about the way flavors pair together at dinner and the comforting sound of music and the warmth of a fire with friends? We don’t deserve any of the graces God lavishes on us and so often fail to recognize and appreciate. We give God the same ape-ish antics my sons gave me. I took my children to the zoo not out of their merit but because their father loves them and told them he loves them no matter what. Heaven forbid my sons think they merit grace in their life. I would need to cage them like beasts. (I wanted to earlier)
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
The community of faith is responsible to create spiritual awareness, what the Old Testament calls “Fear-of-the-Lord”. The local church is to help its members stay focused on God. Next week is Jesus’ Passion Week. Your church family will be pulled in many directions. Here are 5 choices to help make this Easter more meaningful and God-filled:
- Maximize Palm Sunday. You don’t have to go “high church”. Do something that says, “The Resurrection Week started here…”
- Strategic Scripture Reading. Help your church read Jesus’ last week. I am also going to read Jesus, The Final Days to give me fresh perspective.
- Thursday Dinner. Gather in community, around food, and reflect on what Christ was about to endure for us.
- Friday Fast. Set aside food for more focused prayer and meditation. You can even carry this until Resurrection Sunday!
- Sunday Celebration. Don’t do too much on Resurrection Morning. Gather to sing, and sing a lot! Let the community of faith be the testimony of God’s life changing grace.
Each choice above is a spotlight that pulls people’s attention back home. It helps them see Jesus. It helps them turn down the world and focus. What will you do next week?
Look, the Lamb of God! – John (John 1:35-39)
Pride is the first sin, the foundational rock of every wrong choice we will make today. Pride topples nations and leaders. Pride is my downfall and yours. Pride exalts what we do not need while at the same time attempting to cover over what we do. Pride says, “I don’t need God’s help. I don’t need your help. I must do this myself.”
So, before you begin building your week, whether for a heavenly kingdom or for a diabolical empire, walk your foundation with the Chief Inspector. Subject every stone to his watchful eye. Many a mighty wall will fall because it was built on pride.
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation…Let each one take care how he builds upon it. I Corinthians 3:10
The local church is the Carpenter’s shop. It is full of his masterpieces resting in various stages of restoration. He ever-so-gently works at the layers of grime and filth that cover his craftsmanship. Tender are his hands. Truth and trial are his tools of choice. Time is his friend. He works with precision to reveal the masterful form and original beauty and wonderful wood-grains latent and layered by years of bad belief, false narratives,and habitual sin. Oh, it hurts. The letting go and sanding away hurts.
The longer you lay on his worktable and sit under his gentle hands the more you see that everything he does is bathed in love and grace and perfection. You might not see it now. We shall marvel at it later.
The Lord is our ‘Carpenter’…He restores our soul. Psalm 23:3