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Lent - Day 34-35, Stations of the Cross

The Scripture for today are: Psalms 121,122,123,124,125,126; Jere 25:8-17; Romans 10:1-13 & John 9:18-41

With apologies for missing the blog yesterday, here are the next two Stations of the Cross:

The Fourth Station: Jesus is Denied by Peter

Scripture: Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the maids came over to him and said, "You too were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied it in front of everyone, saying, "I do not know what you are talking about!" As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This man was with Jesus the Nazorean." Again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man!" A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, "Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you away." At that he began to curse and to swear, "I do not know the man." And immediately a cock crowed. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: &quo…

Lent, Day 33 -3rd Station of the Cross

Scripture Readings for Today are: Psalms 118, 145; Jere 23:16-32; 1 Cor 9:19-27 &
Mark 8:31-9:1

Today is the last Sunday before the end of Lent. As we come to the final week of Lent, we continue to look at the Stations of the Cross - the journey of Christ Jesus to His death.

Today: Jesus is Condemned by the Sanhedrin

Scripture: "When day came the council of elders of the people met, both chief priests and scribes, and they brought him before their Sanhedrin. They said, "If you are the Messiah, tell us," but he replied to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I question, you will not respond. But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God." They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied to them, "You say that I am." Then they said, "What further need have we for testimony? We have heard it from his own mouth."
Luke 22: 66-71

Hope your day of worship is filled with …

Lent, Day 32 - 2nd Station of the Cross

The scripture readings today are: Psalms 33, 102, 108; Jere 23:9-15, Rom. 9:1-18, & John 6:60-71

I am meditating on the Stations of the Cross - the various places and events that surrounded Jesus' death and burial - leading up to Good Friday. There are fourteen stations of the cross, and although there is a traditional one, I have modified it. Still, prayerfully, reflectively, meditatively, I want to think and pray on a daily basis the sacrifice of my Lord.

The second Station is: Jesus, Betrayed by Judas, is Arrested

Scripture: Then, while [Jesus] was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying, "the man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely." He came and immediately went over to him and said, "Rabbi." And he kissed him. At this they laid hands on him and arrested…

Lent, Day 31, 1st Station of the Cross

Today's readings are: Psalms 107:1-43, Jere 23:1-8, Rom 8:28-39, & John 6:52-59

The Stations of the cross are our theme as we approach these last few days of Lent and enter into Holy Week. You can read yesterday's blog if you are not familiar with the Stations of the Cross.

At the first Station of the Cross we encounter Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

The Scripture Reading:
"Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, "My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me." He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will." When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, "So you could not keep watc…

Lent - Day 30, The Stations of the Cross

The daily readings for today are: Psalms am: 69, 73; Jere 22:13-23; Romans 8:12-27; and John 6:41-51

Lent is now coming closer to it's end, and following Lent is Holy Week which goes from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.

As we come closer to the celebration of the cross, the death and resurrection, I want to stop at what has been traditionally called "The Stations of the Cross".

These "Stations" as they are called, were spots along the journey that took Christ from Gethsemane to Pilate where he was condemned to die through to his burial in the tomb on that Good Friday. The celebration of the Stations came about in the Middle Ages, presumably like stained glass windows, the enacting of these stations visibly spoke to a population of Christians who may have been largely uneducated.

There are several ways to approach the fourteen stations of the cross. While Catholics traditionally celebrate it one way, it has precedence to be celebrated more broadly. I like the r…

Lent - Day 27, March 23

The Readings for today are: Psalms 89:1-52; Jere 16:10-21; Rom 7:1-12 & John 6:1-15

It's a blustery early Spring day outside. The wind is blowing around 30mph and it's raining (but not snowing - yeah). Inside it's warm and comfortable. How can something so different exist in the same place? We know the answer, it's the insulated structure we call the house, and it's the heat to warm it.

The readings reminded me of that today...there's a wind blowing in the early readings...it's not well out there and it's because of things like sin, unfaithfulness, disobedience, choices that are selfish and disregarding of either God or others. Paul's reminder is that the law is good in pointing all of this out. We wouldn't know how to describe the "outside of God" part of life without the law. It's our weather report for the world we walk into.
And then there's God's love, his faithfulness, his righteousness fulfilled in His son…

Lent - Day 26, March 22

The readings for today are: Psalms 66, 67, 19, 46; Jere 14:1-9, 17-22;
Gal 4:21-5:1; and Mark 8:11-21

The Psalms are full of the praise of God, and why not. Today is Sunday, just three weeks until Easter, two from Palm Sunday. Our children's pastor, Dave, is beginning a four Sunday series on the journey of Christ Jesus to the cross, ending with Easter Sunday and the Resurrection.

We have the advantage in all of this of the record of scripture. For the disciples and followers of Jesus it all seemed so surreal - this talk of going to Jerusalem where then he would be turned over to the authorities, eventually killed, and then rise again. If we would have been His followers then we most likely would have felt the same as the disciples: confused, questioning, even scheming to prevent it all from happening. When God says, "my ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts", He really means that.

With that in mind, I have to ask if I'm prepared to trust God in …

Lent - Day 24, March 20

With apologies for a lapse in posting yesterday, here are today's readings: Psalms 88,
91, 92; Jere 11:1-8, 14-20; Rom 6:1-11 and John 8:33-47

Reading Psalm 88 and Jeremiah are quite depressing. It's hard to imagine (unless we've personally been there) what it would be like to be experiencing what those writers in scripture experienced.
As I shifted my readings to the New Testament I was struck by the commentary that might be given towards those Older writings. In both Paul's writing and Jesus' statements sin is set in the context of "slavery". Given our countries dark legacy with treating human beings as slaves we know that it is an awful thing to be called a slave. Slavery is bondage, a lack of freedom, a dictation of duties and life, and the awful bondage of fear...and that is what sin and it's consequences does to us.

As I spent some time praying I realized that I take little time to really understand where I might be enslaved. I know God has ta…

Lent - Day 22, March 18

Today's readings are: Psalms 81, 82; 119:97-120; Jere 8:18-9:6; Rom 5:1-11; and, John 8:12-20

Completely deviating from Lenten musings of late, I ran across an interesting article today online. In a New York Times article President Obama's faith life came to the surface with a description of "Five Prayer Partners" that have come alongside of him since coming to the presidency. You can access the article for yourself at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/15/us/politics/15pastor.html?scp=1&sq=president%20obama%20prayer%20partners&st=cse

For myself, it's important to note that God calls me as a Kingdom citizen to pray for the President, consistently, to bless him and to ask God to come alongside of him in his leadership.
I've often felt that we Christians make a mistake when we enter into the political arena with the purpose of seeking political power or influence. Since the late 70's when I was a young(er) pastor I felt the need to maintain that st…

Lent - Day 21, March 17

Today's readings come from: Psalm 78:1-72; Jere 7:21-34; Rom 4:13-25; & John 7:37-52

Today is St. Patrick's day in much of the western world. It's a sad day for me in that much of what marks the day is secular and even worse debased. It's not about "green beer" and celebration...that's the least. It's that a true man of God, and that is who St. Patrick was, is not remembered for his virtue, godliness, and vision; but instead becomes the occasion of drunkenness and revelry.

We, Protestants, don't use the language of "Saint" to refer to any one person. Perhaps we should. I know the argument biblically, even theologically, that saints are all christians, and I can't say that we should abandon that; but perhaps we need those who are exemplary in being role models for what it means to follow Christ.

Patrick grew up in modern Wales (western part of the island we call England for those who are geographically challenged :) in the lat…

Lent,, Day 20 - March 16

Today's reading is Psalm 80, 77, 79; Jere 7:1-15; Rom 4:1-12; & John 7:14-36

This a short one with guests in town. We're half way through Lent today, and whatever you've done to date to celebrate Lent, congratulations. Disciplines of the Spirit take work, and this is a work towards maturity, not salvation. It's Paul's reminder in Phil 2:12-13...
"God is at work in you...therefore work out your salvation."
Whatever we wish to do in life that we want to be good at, requires work, patience, practice and reptition. We don't automatically become good at our Spiritual disciplines without work. While God is not in favor of our working for our salvation; he is not opposed to our working with the grace that is given us in Christ's salvation.

So, congratulations, and keep in persevering!

A Prayer:

"Father, without you we cannot please you, so mercifully grant that in all things your Holy Spirit might direct our ways, through Jesus Christ our Lord w…

Lent,, Day 19 - March 15

The Readings for today: Psalms 93, 96, 34; Jere 6:9-15; 1 Cor 6:12-20; Mark 5:1-20

I am about to leave for worship services. The Psalmist's reminder of who God is makes worship more awe-some. I was struck by the words from Psalm 93:4 (NASB)
"More than the sounds of many waters, Than the mighty breakers of the sea, The Lord on high is mighty."
The Psalmist later adds: Psalm 96:11 (NASB)
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; Let the sea roar, and all it contains;
I can't imagine anything on earth that is more powerful than the sea. The water of the sea is that which we play in, but as a force, it is powerful and mighty - even in ways that bring wonder and awe (remember the Tsunamis of a few years ago?)
It's no wonder that the Psalmist reminds us Psalm 34:8-9 (NASB)
8 O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! 9 O fear the Lord, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want.

I've come to …

Lent,, Day 18 - March 14

Our Readings today are: Psalms 75, 76, 23, 27; Jere 5:20-31, Rom 3:19-31; and
John 7:1-13

Sometimes reading the Psalms can be uplifting - such is Ps. 23 and 27. Sometimes they are full of praise as in 75 & 76. Behind each though is that sense of need that comes from confession, praise, and joyful response. Our soul is crying out to say "thank you Lord", and "I trust you Lord" and yet there is a realization that without you, God, our lives would be purpose-less, in vain, and without real hope.

I love reading Romans 3, as Paul reminds us of all that God has done in granting to us, through grace, by faith, his righteousness that comes from Jesus' shed blood on the cross. Lent brings me back to the fundamental truth that all of life is fulfilling because of what Jesus has done for us.

Jesus has come..."incarnation" means "in flesh"; he comes to "dwell"..."tabernacle" among us. The tabernacle was Israel's "tent …

Lent,, Day 17 - March 13

Today's scripture readings speak powerfully: Psalm 69; 73; Jere 5:1-9; Romans 2:25-3:18 and John 5:30-47

As I read through the various passages I was struck by the way in which God confronts deception in the various people these were directed towards. There is a straight forward approach...no dancing around the issues...no attempts to ameliorate the various conditions with smooth words.

It hit me, am I as straight forward in dealing with my sin, the deceptions of Satan, that are in my own life?
Am I willing to be so blunt, so purposeful, so willing to strive for truth in the inner being of my soul as the various speakers in these passages were?

Lent gives me/us an opportunity to come back to God with hearts that "know" that Jesus' death on the cross was for my/our sin. There is no need to come polished, to come pretending, to come religiously pious. I need to be brutally honest and receive the gift of mercy and grace to those who come repentantly before Him - our Sav…

Lent,, Day 15 - March 11

The Readings for today: Psalms 72, 119:73-96; Jer. 3:6-18; Rom 1:28-2:11; and, John 5:1-18

Lent brings us back to this place of need, something we are not often good at embracing. Our self-sufficiency and pride in taking care of ourselves is engrained within our humanity. There is something of God in this. He told Adam and Eve to take care of the earth, to be stewards and reap the rewards of their "governing over" that which was there domain; but in the Fall the stewardship rights and freedom become twisted and end up being a means for separation and independence from God.

When we get to the place of uncovering it is usually in discovery of weakness. When we get to "the end" of our own self-sufficiency we find God waiting. Paul says to the Corinthians: 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NASB)
9 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the p…

Lent,, Day 14 - March 10

The Readings for today are: Psalms 61, 62, 68; Jere 2:1-13; Rom 1:16-25; John 4:43-54

If I remember correctly one of the first verses of scripture I memorized was Romans 1:16-17; Paul's grand summary of his life's purpose and God's redemption.

Romans 1:16-17 (NASB)
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live by faith."

It was Martin Luther in the early 16th century that found so much freedom from religion and the accompanying attempts to perform one's way into God's favor who "rested" in this passage of scripture...so should we.

In reading Paul's life I cannot help but recognize that his greatness did not consist of anything within his personality or gifting. He must have been a bit driven in a "type A" kind o…

Lent,, Day 13 - March 9

Our Daily Readings are: Psalms 56, 57, 58, 64, 65; Jere 1:11-19; Rom 1:1-15; and John 4:27-42

I had a difficult time concentrating through those Psalms this morning. I eventually found Psalm 65 to beautifully describe the wonder of God in his creation, and from there everything opened up. Jeremiah and Paul both recount "mission" and "calling" from God -- and it's clear that what they were called to do was not easy.

This word "weakness" continues to dominate my Lenten meditations. Paul's statement to the Corinthians is translated in the NASB (my favorite version): 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NASB)
9 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

In the NIV it's translated: 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect …

Lent,, Day 12 - March 8

The Readings for Today: Psalm 8, 24, 29, 84; Jer. 1:1-10; 1 Cor 3:11-23; and Mark 3:31-4:9

Sunday in Lent is an opportunity to turn our attention back to God's majesty and grace. Each of the Psalms has its own majestic character. There's a beauty in living out of the greatness of God's character. Our problems are like dropping a teaspoon of water into an ocean of water. We need that perspective to avoid living out of fear and anxiety.
Today, our Pastor Tom spoke on "Heaven's Heroes" which was about Stephen's martyrdom in Acts 7. I was so struck by way that we were reminded that following God is a matter of trusting in the character of God. Stephen's testimony is that he was faithful to stand in a place of servanthood -- first for the sake of widows, and secondly in front of those who eventually would kill him. Yet, God used him to plant a seed in that death - literally the words of Jesus came alive: "Except the grain of wheat fall into t…

Lent, Day - Day 11, March 7

The readings for today are: Psalms: 55, 138, 139; Deut 11:18-28; Heb 5:1-10; and John 4:1-26

Some more thoughts on weakness.

Lent is a forty day journey of renewal, re-discovery of what Christ Jesus has done for us on the cross. I've always been struck (really, even when I was little in the Lutheran church during Lent) with the determined path of Christ towards suffering. We didn't read Philippians 2 today, but you might remember that Paul says "Christ emptied himself", [from the Greek kenow", which is pronounced like "ke-new-oh". It's one of the great doctrinal statements about Christ Jesus, that he let go of all of the rights, privileges, status, and power and embraced weakness, humility, obedience, and even death.

The word "weakness" in our English translations comes from the Greek word, "astheneia" and often notes aspects of human weakness. Nine times it refers to physical illness, fifteen times it's used in a larger s…

Lent, Day 10, Friday March 6

The daily readings are: Psalms: 40, 54, 51; Deut 10:12-22; Heb 4:11-16; and John 3:22-36

I couldn't help but re-read both Psalm 40 and John's passage. The Psalmist, David, comes from a place of weakness, vulnerability that we're not necessarily able to identify. He simply says,
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm". Psalm 40:2 (NASB)
There is speculation as to David's concern, but all he says is that from this beginning point of relief from what was "miry clay", a "pit", he is able to see God rescuing him.
John's passage is beautiful in that it reveals the heart of John the Baptist who takes second place in acknowledging Jesus as the one sent from God. I wonder if John the Baptist didn't have times when he wondered whether or not Jesus was the Messiah? I also wonder what it was like for him to recede to the background as Jesus' ministry took …

Lent - Day 9, Thursday, March 5

The Scripture readings for today are rather extensive: Psalms 50, 59, 60, 19, 46; Deut. 9:23-10:5; Heb 4:1-10; John 3:16-21.

The early Psalms have a weight to them...filled with concern, sorrow, doubt, even fear. The last two shift the focus back to God's character as a security and source of our protection. Deuteronomy's text also shifts from the failure and sin -- manifested in stubborn rebellion to the ways of God -- to the reminder that God's character is displayed in his law and it doesn't shift with time. Instead his law, his ways, his character remain ever constant in shifting times of culture and history.

The writer in Hebrews calls me to "enter into the Sabbath rest" that comes through Jesus Christ. John's gospel brings it all to a crescendo: God has poured out his love and light to us in the gift of Jesus to the world in which we live.

The Lenten season is not just a reminder of the triumph of Jesus in his death, burial and resurrection. Than…

Lent - Day 8, Wed. March 4

The scripture readings for today are: Psalms 119:49-72, Psalms 49 & 53; Deuteronomy 9:13-21, Heb 3:12-19, John 2:23-3:15

All of these passages became alive within me. It's the beginning of the second week in Lent and I cannot help but see in the passages how important it is to deal with hardness of heart, of deceitfulness of sin, of the spirit denying flesh within me, and the beauty of the grace of God manifested in Jesus Christ.

So many of the things that weigh me down in the spirit and keep me from the life of God can happen so subtly. A busy day that gets wrapped up in busyness, performance, and duties also becomes a day to not stop, pray, re-focus heart, motives, attitudes, thoughts, and desires around what my purpose for doing all of things is about. Yesterday was one of those days for me. I was busy, but more making busyness, and the result was that I found myself realizing that I can be praised for "all that you get done", but at the same time, lonely withi…

Lent, Day 6, Monday March 2

The scripture readings for today are:
Psalms: 41, 52, 44; Deut. 8:11-18 Heb. 2:11-18 John 2:1-12

I am drawn to the text in Deuteronomy -- it is one of my favorite passages in all of the scripture, so it's a real treat to be able to spend some time in these daily readings in that passage. I am going to emphasize a few of the words/phrases for my own sake in today's reading. It says:,

Deuteronomy 8:11-18 (NASB)
11 "Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today;
12 otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them,
13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies,
14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
15 "He led you through the great and terrible wild…

Lent - Day 5, Sunday

The daily readings for today are:
Psalms 63, 98, & 103 Deut 8:1-10 1 Cor 1:17-31 Mark 2:18-22

In my readings today I have great affinity for Deuteronomy 8.

Deuteronomy 8:1-10 (NASB)
1 "All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your forefathers.
2 "You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
3 "He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.
4 "Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.
5 "Thus you are to …