Tuesday, February 28, 2012


“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)

One morning while I sat in eighth grade history class, a group of misguided men, desperate to get into heaven, piloted a pair of airplanes into the World Trade Center towers. These men believed it was noble to be killed for their faith and that God would reward them. Instead of living right lives and turning the other cheeks to persecution, these men sought out a death they believed would bring a reward. They threw their lives away to hurt their enemies. Sadly I’ve met Christians with a similar attitude.

Many throw away their witness for the sake of baiting persecution. They brag about how angry people get with them, but being rejected is not the same as being persecuted. To share the rules of God without sharing love will guarantee persecution, but no reward from God. These evangelists speak harshly instead of with loving kindness and respect; they rejoice when their message is rejected flippantly, imagining they’ve earned a better resurrection.

To share Christ must be to share his selfless love. To preach without love is to preach something other than the gospel. If you share God’s word for social status, for self-improvement or to earn a better resurrection, you’ve missed the point. No such person belongs on a soapbox. They belong back at the foot of the cross. Only when pride and ambition have fallen off can such a person share the gospel in all its selfless, unconditional and life changing power.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New Covenant - 1st Tuesday in Lent

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.” -Hebrews 10:1

Imagine if you will being an Israelite in slavery in Egypt, and the joy you would feel when finally, after ten plagues and a hike through the red sea, you are free. I don't know that there is a greater parallel for the redemption Jesus bought us than being released from slavery. I sometimes naively feel jealous of people who've experienced both slavery and freedom, and can grasp the greatness of God's gift to us. I was baptised as a a baby, born into the freedom of Christ from the earliest age. It seems non-dramatic to me, but from a big picture perspective my baptism is something that God has been building up to for millennia. The same is true for you. All the trials of Israel, the judges, the law, the captivities and the victories are part of the same story you find yourself in today.

God has written you into an amazing story. The grace you know was prophesied in the old testament. The Bible you read was maintained and protected by countless people of centuries. May you understand and appreciate the privilege that it is to live in this time, when prophecies stand fulfilled and the the Word of God goes out into all corners of the world.

Worst Sinner Ever - 1st Monday in Lent

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” -1 Timothy 1:15

I don't know about you, but I don't feel like I'm the worst of sinners. I mean there are some pretty bad dudes out there. There are people who steal, kill, and lie but Paul says we should each consider ourselves the worst of all sinners. The truth is if we start thinking we're better than other people then we miss out on understanding the vastness of God's love.

In Luke 7 Jesus is anointed by a “sinful” woman. He tells onlookers that she loves so much because she's been forgiven so much. He even goes so far as to say that whoever is forgiven little only loves little (Luke 7:47). Considering that, it's pretty good news that we are each the worst of sinners.

Consider your sin for a moment. Make no excuses. Allow yourself to feel the weight of them.

Now consider that the creator of the universe died to wash you clean of these sins. You are clean and those sins are no longer a part of you. Allow yourself to feel the lightness, relief and freedom of that comes with forgiveness.

Love much.

Grandpa Jesus - 1st Sunday in Lent

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

My grandpa is commendable, excellent and worthy of praise. He doesn't think about himself in these terms, in fact he doesn't really think about himself very much. People who are so much like Jesus tend not to. He just lives simply, thanks God for what he has. My grandpa doesn't wrack his brain for ways to change the world; he just lives, is full of the Spirit's fruit and the world changes around him.

When we abide in Christ our hearts become aligned with God's heart, his power flows through us and our everyday acts of love, peace, patience, and kindness become supernaturally empowered.


Read Galatians 5:22-23. The fruit of the Spirit is the most tangible evidence that God is at work in and through you. Take a moment to reflect; do you see these fruits? Do you see bad fruit? Ask forgiveness for the times you've failed to let God's Spirit shine through you. The good news is that God forgives you, the other good news it that the fruit of the Spirit is the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of trying harder. On our own we cannot please God and God knows that, ask him to produce good fruit in you. Depend on him to do so, and I promise he will.

Sanctuary - 1st Saturday in Lent

Sanctuary is a word which here means a small, safe place in a troubling world. Like an oasis in a vast desert or an island in a stormy sea. - Lemony Snicket

It may seem unfair that the discipline-heavy season of Lent takes place during some of the coldest, wettest and darkest weeks of the year. Believe it or not there's a good reason for this. Hebrews 12:7 tells us, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?”

Without Lent we might risk enduring the end of winter without taking refuge in Jesus. Jesus, who was often hungry, alone and misunderstood does not leave us alone for even an instant. Our hardships are meant to drive us to the arms of our Lord, who loves us with relentless love.

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9-10


Take a moment today to be still and to know the Lord is God (Ps 46:10), that he holds you perfectly in his hand and treasures you above all things (Luke 15:9). Rest in his arms today.

In the Wilderness - 1st Friday in Lent

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:38-39

You probably know that Lent is the 40ish days leading up to Easter. You might not have known that we observe these 40 days because of Jesus' 40 day fast in the wilderness. Imagine Jesus, alone for 40 days under the hot Israelite sun, eating no food and drinking from streams. It makes giving up chocolate for Lent seem less traumatic. During this time Jesus was tempted by the devil, and it was God's word that sustained him (Matthew 4).

Since Lent is a time we take to focus on God, it is also a time when the enemy may try extra hard to distract us from the Lord. The enemy tries in vain. Remember this Lent when you face anxiety, sickness or conflict that God always has the last word and promises to work out every situation for our good (Rom 8:28).


Consider the trials you face in your life. Take a moment to pray and to place these challenges before God. Let go of them know that your God is with you and you will not be overcome (1 Cor 10:13).

What are you giving up? - 1st Thursday in Lent

Once again today's devotion was written by Beth, who is terrific.

"For it is by grace you have been saved through faith; and this not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

I don’t think I hear anything come up during Lent more than what you are giving up. From cigarettes or fast food to facebook, everyone tries to find a way to better themselves, or draw closer to God. Sometimes, people have wonderful testimonies of what God’s done through their fasting from this or that thing. A lot of people end up complaining. Some people try to take on something for Lent instead: finding a beautiful new practice that will force them to grow. Those often end in complaining too, leaving a lot of people ready for Easter just to get past Lent. It makes you wonder: why do we even give it up at all?

Sometimes we feel like we need to earn God’s Love. He gave it to us for free the first time, and we can try to convince ourselves that His gift was a one time deal; from now on we have to earn it. Nothing could be further from the truth! God stays the same always, and what He said in Ephesians He means—every day. Every time. Fasting can be great. Giving something up or taking something on can be a way to grow. But no matter what you take on or give up, that is not what will bring you close to God. There is one way to come to Him, and that is through Jesus. He gave up the only thing needed—His life, so that we could be joyful, beautiful sons and daughters of God. You are free from any obligations! If you choose to give up or take on, do it gladly! Let it be a blessing, not a chore.

Will you give something up? Take something on? Bask in the awesomeness of God’s freedom? Why?

A Phoenix for Ash Wednesday

Today's devotion is from my magnificent wife, Beth.

For dust you are, and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:19b

If you’re from a traditional church, you’re probably used to the Ash Wednesday traditions—ashes on the forehead, this verse from Genesis. Death. It’s how we start Lent every year: a reminder of dying. Cheery, no? If you’re not from a traditional church, you’ve probably still watched the switch: Mardi Gras beads and fried foods to a lot of really bummed out Christians giving things up.
I’m weird. I’ve always loved Ash Wednesday. The ceremony of getting ashes, and being reminded that I’m only here temporarily is comforting to me. It helps me to let go of those small things that I think are so big. But God has more for us than that. Genesis 3:19 is part of the curse: when humanity separated itself from God by sin, death was the consequence, and we see it all around us. But that wasn’t the end of the story. At the perfect time, God sent a Savior to break sin’s curse, complete the story, and bring a new one to Life.
We’re starting a journey, walking with Jesus and remembering what it took for him to break the curse of sin. When I see the ashes of Ash Wednesday, and the power of Jesus, I see a phoenix. A phoenix is a beautiful firebird born from the ashes of its death. It bursts forth bright with new life, not holding on to old death, but soaring in new life. Christ died and gave life. Die to live.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they’re a new creation: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Try to discover something God is making new in you. What is dead that He wants to bring to life?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Real Friends Hang Out And Do Dumb Stuff

One of the best things about a really good friend is bringing them into a new part of your life. They tend to make it better. My best friend Alex and I talk about tough stuff in our lives, but we also make extravagant bacon-y breakfasts, watch anime and ride our bikes. A complete friendship with Alex includes both deep conversations and fun stuff. A complete relationship with God is the same way.

Deep worship and prayer times are wonderful, but God wants to be a part of our “normal” lives too. God created our world to have a vast and beautiful variety of experiences that aren't church services, Bible readings or musical worship. Those spiritual practices do shape how we see our world; they help us to see Jesus in less obvious places like in basketball games and biology homework.

The majority of life isn't overtly spiritual. We spend hours a day eating, working and getting from one place to another. Those parts of life are still a gift from God.

Jesus loves you. He says so in the Bible and if you listen you can hear him say so in the crisp richness of a strip of bacon, in Adele's sonorous tunes on the radio (or whoever music is super-personal), and in the hilarity of internet cat videos. God is not contained. May you enjoy his gracious and loving presence in all aspects of your life.

Ephesians 4:4-6

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.