Monday, April 30, 2007
Ephesians 1:1-2:3 - And you were dead in your trespasses and sins...
Isaiah 51:1-8 - "Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, Who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were hewn...."
1 Corinthians 15:1-11 - ...that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures....
Sunday, April 29, 2007
John 21:1-19 - And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You."
Exodus 14:5-31 - ...the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD.
Romans 6:1-18 - Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Philemon - For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.
Isaiah 49:24-50:11 - "Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver?"
Acts 9:32-43 - Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed." Immediately he got up.
Friday, April 27, 2007
"...I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place...."
Colossians 4:2-18 - Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving....
Isaiah 49:14-23 - "...Those who hopefully wait for Me will not be put to shame."
Acts 26:1-23 - "Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead?"
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Colossians 3:4-4:1 - Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men....
Isaiah 49:1-13 - "I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth."
Acts 17:22-31 - "...God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Colossians 2:6-3:3 - See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception....
Isaiah 48:12-21 - "From the first I have not spoken in secret, From the time it took place, I was there."
Acts 13:14-39 - "For those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither Him nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him."
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Colossians 1:18-2:5 - For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself....
Isaiah 48:1-11 - "Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction."
Acts 10:34-43 - "Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins."
Monday, April 23, 2007
Colossians 1:1-17 - For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son....
Isaiah 47 - "You felt secure in your wickedness and said, 'No one sees me....'"
Acts 3:12-26 - ...you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life....
Sunday, April 22, 2007
John 20:24-31 - Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst....
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 30-31 - "I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick...."
John 10:1-11 - "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved...."
Saturday, April 21, 2007
1 Peter 5 - Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time....
Isaiah 46 - "My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure...."
Mark 12:18-27 - "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living...."
Friday, April 20, 2007
1 Peter 4 - Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you....
Isaiah 45:14-25 - "I am the LORD, and there is none else. I have not spoken in secret, In some dark land...."
John 6:25-58 - "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst."
Thursday, April 19, 2007
We have this ability to create something and then pretend that it sort of created itself. We credit something outside ourselves for our inspirations.
But it would seem that the creative force is one of those qualities that separates humans from beasts. It is inherent in our nature, and we should value it. We should recognize our own powers to inspire ourselves and to inspire others.
Or we'll end up deceiving our selves. And others.
1 Peter 3:8-22 - ...sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence....
Isaiah 44:24- 45:13 - I am the LORD, and there is no other, The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.
John 5:19-30 - "I can do nothing on My own initiative."
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
1 Peter 2:11-25 - Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that... they may... glorify God in the day of visitation.
Isaiah 44:6-23 - Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat as he roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, "Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire." But the rest of it he makes into a god....
John 11:1-44 - "This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it."
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
He wants to live with us. You wonder that He made us to multiply. We did, and now there are so many of us. It's as though one of us could never be sufficient for Him.
1 Peter 1:22-2:10 - ...for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God....
It's something to do with community. Everything we do seems geared toward it: church, nations, ethnic groups, the Internet. We coalesce naturally into groups. Sometimes the groups are dysfunctional.
Actually, they're pretty much always dysfunctional.
Isaiah 43:22-44:5 - "Yet you have not called on Me, O Jacob; But you have become weary of Me, O Israel."
Because we always try to build them on cores that we make up for ourselves. Communes. Discussion groups. The blogosphere. Extended families. Fellowship groups. Yoga classes. Swimming competitions.
Luke 7:11-16 - And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise!"
It's a problem. He keeps breaking down our communities, inserting Himself, disrupting our rituals.
We get all used to saying things like "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life." And then this fellow comes along bringing people back from the dead. The math gets all messed up.
It's hard to wrap your head around.
Monday, April 16, 2007
1 Peter 1:1-21 - ...and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory....
Isaiah 43:8-21 - "You are My witnesses," declares the LORD, "And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me."
Mark 5:22-43 - "Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?"
Once it's Too Late, there's only one Person who can help me. That's why.
Whether i can see Him or not, whether He slays me or rescues me, there are no other gods to appeal to.
As the Lion tells Jill in The Silver Chair: "There is no other stream."
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Luke 24:13-35 - But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.
Job 19:1, 13-27 - "Pity me, pity me, O you my friends, For the hand of God has struck me."
John 14:1-14 - Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?"
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Mark 14:17, 22-28 - "You will all fall away...."
Isaiah 42:17-43:7 - You have seen many things, but you do not observe them; Your ears are open, but none hears.
Mark 16:9-20 - ...He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Mark 10:32-45 - "Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory."
Isaiah 42:5-16 - "Behold, the former things have come to pass, Now I declare new things...."
John 21:15-25 - "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!"
Thursday, April 12, 2007
You never understand your own story until you tell it. In the telling, you unconsciously pick out the key events. And your listener hears only those events and can't help but find patterns, themes, plot. Direction.
God's hand at work.
It may be true that one only sees the patterns one looks for, but when people tell me their stories these days, i find that my internal response is either of two choices.
Either God is preparing them for something (or something for them).
Or God is trying to get their attention.
Mark 9:2-13, 30-32 - They seized upon that statement, discussing with one another what rising from the dead meant.
Clever fellows. They could have discussed and opined and even used "democratic methods" like the Jesus Seminar. It wouldn't have made a bit of difference what they thought "rising from the dead" meant.
Isaiah 41:21-42:4 - Declare the things that are going to come afterward, That we may know that you are gods; Indeed, do good or evil, that we may anxiously look about us and fear together.
The discussion would have been fruitless. He does what He will do. It's my job to bear witness, to tell the story.
And yes, to recognize Him for Who He is.
John 21:1-14 - So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea.
And once i've done so, to throw myself into and swim whatever is between me and Him, not caring whether it's something i can walk on or not, drown in or not.
Oswald Chambers writes, "You no more need a day off from spiritual concentration on matters in your life than your heart needs a day off from beating."
Christ commands my attention by His existence (and mine), now and now and Now.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Mark 8:27-9:1 - "...you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."
Isaiah 41:1-20 - Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you....
John 20:19-31 - "Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
John 20:1-18 - Jesus said to her, "Mary!"
Isaiah 40:12-31 - "My way is hidden from the LORD, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God...."
Luke 24:36-49 - "See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have."
When He comes back, will we see it? Will we recognize Him?
And what will we be caught at?
Monday, April 09, 2007
i find them easy marks for satirical comment, the Israelites. They haven't gotten three days from the most dramatic rescue in history, and they're back to grumbling again.
But the truth is there was no water, and the rescue seemed pointless. My own fastidiousness and disaffection for privation mock me in return.
If we are saved from our old lives, it doesn't seem to be enough. We are not satisfied. What is it that He has saved us for?
Mark 16:1-8 - Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
Here we are again: handed revelation, no riddles, no mystery—"He isn't here! He is alive!"—and off we run, afraid of... what? That God will catch us?
Isaiah 40:1-11 - The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.
It's that we are fragile. A day for us is as a thousand years to Him. Will He forget us? Will He notice that we cannot endure forever?
Luke 24:13-35 - Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight.
And when we finally recognize Him for who He is, it's too late. He disappears. And we're left to wonder. Did we just imagine Him? Has He left us for good?
When will we see Him again? When does eternity start, if ever?
Are we already made durable? Has eternity, in fact, already begun?
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Luke 24:1-12 - "Why do you seek the living One among the dead?"
Exodus 15:1-21 - "Who is like You among the gods, O LORD?"
Matthew 28:1-10, 16-20 - "He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said."
Christ is risen indeed.
And by this is the curse lifted. He granted us forgiveness from the cross, but His resurrection is what draws me and keeps me.
Even so, Lord, come quickly.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Romans 6:3-11 - For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
Exodus 12:1-14 - "The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you...."
Luke 23:50-56 - Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
The thing is done and there it is. You cannot explain to me how we came to this, from your two-thousand-years' distance.
To you it is nothing, because for you my Friday and my Sunday are the same weekend, the same event. For you there is no Saturday. But for me, it is—what?
—it is the end of the world.
For you, the world does not stop in its course, all dark and ponderous. For you, there is no prophet to unnail, no carcass to embalm. Absolutely no sense that Almighty God in Heaven is this close—this close—to willing us out of existence with a single shout. You don't have to hear the mimickry of heartless children rasping out the gasps of crucified men.
No. You, you skip ahead, you see what's coming next, you gloss over your shame with a quick turn of the page to reassure yourself that everything comes out all right.
If you had been here, you would not have pulled Him down to rescue him, would not have quelled the riot with the uprightness of your clarified morality, would not have brought us to our senses with your piercing wisdom.
So there's the question. If you had been here, where would you have stood?
Would you have been the annoyed governor, washing his hands of mob mentality? The insurrectionist, unexpectedly set free? The visiting tourist, pressed into labor as a beast of burden?
Would you have been a hot-tempered fisherman, clumsy with a sword? A bored soldier, looking for a way to pass the bloody time? A sister whimpering that his lunacy had come to this? Maybe you'd have been a face in the crowd, a nobody really, bellowing at anguish as if you'd no soul.
Perhaps you'd be the fellow who found his courage too late, bold enough to offer to bury the body. Or maybe that other fellow there, the one hurrying off with a rope in his hand, muttering to himself about how things should never have gone this far.
Maybe one thief or the other, on one cross or the other. Choose whichever pleases you best. Which one looks more comfortable?
Fine then, let's throw dice for it.
Go ahead. Pick your spot. Stand or hang wherever you like. It doesn't change a thing. There's the body, and, no, He's not sleeping.
Now take a look around. Look into each of our faces. You'll see the same expression on each one, the same expression that we see on yours.
There's not a single one of us—not a single one who could do herself enough harm, not one who could will his component atoms to spontaneously unbind, not one whose heart or brain is sturdy enough to withstand the grip of grief knotting up from the belly—
—yes, yes, you keep saying. You told me know how it ends. But right now, right this minute, He is still dead.
Tenebrae factae sunt.
And there's not one of us who has the faintest idea of how to mourn our Creator's passing.
Friday, April 06, 2007
John 18 - "...the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?"
Isaiah 52:13-53:12 - All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
Luke 23:12-47 - It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two.
Tenebrae factae sunt,
et circa horam nonam
exclamavit Jesus voce magna:
Deus meus, ut quid me dereliquisti?
Et inclinato capite emisit spiritum.
Exclamans Jesus voce magna:
Pater in manus tuas commendo spiritum meum.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
John 13:1-17, 33-35 - Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
Exodus 16:4-15 - When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was.
Luke 22:7-22, 39-54 - And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood."
i anticipated viewing Mel Gibson's Passion with a certain amount of ambivalence
Having seen it, the ambivalence holds, although perhaps not for my original reasons.
i was concerned that the imagery would overpower my personal sense of Good Friday. i must report that there is some small influence, but it's not overwhelming.
i was concerned that it would be too bloody for me. That was certainly the case. i wish i had not gone until Good Friday. It's definitely an opportunity to get in a Good Friday frame of mind.
But i don't think i can bear to see it more than once.
i was concerned that the film would be hard to watch for lack of engaging moments—since i was already familiar with the story. This wasn't really true. For one thing, i didn't anticipate at all that the Catholic devotion and spiritual imagery would be as much an element of the film as it was. So that was a bit of a surprise. Mary is a very strong character in the film. The other engaging aspect was the anticipation of a particular moment here and there in the story, which was sometimes disappointed. i didn't, for example, catch a cock crowing, although i was listening for it. And the Roman soldier took way too long to declare Jesus to be the Son of God that i don't even remember if he said it or not. Perhaps he didn't.
It was also useful to have reviewed the Stations of the Cross, since that turns out to be the basis for the film's structure. i knew who Veronica was, and why we had to watch Christ fall so many times (it was a lot more than three, though, and seemed like bad editing). In that light, i suppose i should be happy that Christ's Resurrection was acknowledged, but the acknowledgement barely passes for a nod and is drowned by Gibson's posed Pieta.
i was concerned that the film would trivialize Christ's sacrifice, by which i mean the purpose of His sacrifice would be subsumed by His mistreatment. This is probably the case. i think that the film focuses so much on His physical suffering, that His purpose in this is somewhat lost. If you just watch the film that is. Moments like His reassurance of His mother with "Behold I make all things new!" are rare and needed, i think.
The film opens with a passage from Isaiah 53 "By His stripes we are healed...." If i had been editing, i'd have also ended it with Christ's words to the disciples He met on the road to Emmaus: "Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things...?"
So do i recommend it? My recommendation is that if you go, you do so with a sense of devotion, of bearing witness to the event. The movie is not historical—it's devotional. You say to yourself, "For me. He did this for me. Even if i had been the only one who could have benefited, He would have done this just the same."
But if you go without that sort of context, it's just hard to watch. It's easy to understand the disparagement the film has received by people who don't have that context (or are unwilling to exercise it).
But even so, devotionally minded or not, you come away appalled.
Which is as it should be. It was an appalling thing.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
If there is a God, then it seems very silly to say that He's whatever you want Him to be. If He's really God, then quite the contrary: He is Whoever He wants Himself to be and we're lucky if we have any say at all in our own personalities and destinies.
John 10:11-18 - "I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me...."
Know Him for Who He is, not for what we want Him to be.
Genesis 37:3-28 - "Here comes this dreamer! Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits.... Then let us see what will become of his dreams!"
Funny how God puts folks in these untenable positions: How could Joseph's brothers be expected to believe that the dreams were divinely inspired? that they would in fact come true? On the other hand, ridiculing a incredibly arrogant dreamer is one thing, but killing him? your own (half-)brother? Couldn't you short-sheet him or nail his sandals up a tree or something?
Even if the brothers had known the dreams were true and from God, it wasn't Joseph's naive arrogance that betrayed their characters; it was their own lack of submission.
These untenable positions tend to show our true colors, show us for what we are. Unless we humble ourselves and acknowledge a Creator who has power over us, who has our best interests at heart, who deserves applause every evening when the sun goes down, we show ourselves as rebellious and nothing more. Proud without cause.
Luke 22:1-6 - The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might put Him to death....
When God doesn't play by the rules we set for Him, we thrash and gnash our teeth. How do we come to this expectation that God is what we say He is?
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
"If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?"
John 3:1-21 - "Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
Isaiah 2:2-5 - And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Luke 21 - "Yet not a hair of your head will perish."
He does not mean by birth what we mean by birth, and He does not mean by death what we mean by death.
What He intends for us is something we find difficult to understand, and so He continually couches it in metaphor: serpent, wind, birth. i must keep in mind that He uses metaphor not because there are close analogies between the images He uses and our unseen reality, but because what is coming is something completely new, something we do not have language for.
Even the Cross and His suffering and His death and His resurrection are only representations of something far more Real, something we cannot yet see.
Monday, April 02, 2007
No sense of the misery they'd escaped, no vision for how life could be better, only a sense of their present thirst.
1 Corinthians 10:1-13 - No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful....
Grumbling isn't inevitable or required, even if it is second nature.
Isaiah 5:1-7 - "What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones?"
Grumblers get reputations. Ingratitude can cost us friends in high places.
Luke 19:45-20:40 - "Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him."
And a reputation for thanklessness can last an awfully long time, given our circumstances. Our deaths, a flicker of candle, mean very little to Him. We are, after all, immortals.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Mark 11:1-11 - And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting: "Hosanna!"
Isaiah 52:13-53:12 - Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
Luke 19:28-44 - But Jesus answered, "I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!"
i mark my Christian life as beginning on Palm Sunday in 1971. My father baptized me that evening in Elysian Fields Baptist Church, New Orleans LA, where he was associate pastor at the time.
i was seven years old.
There have been a (very few) times when i've doubted the choice i made the week prior to that moment. i made a choice and prayed a prayer. i was young, it's true.
But whenever i doubt that choice because of my youth, i remember how sad and oppressed i felt before i first prayed to God on my own, first made Him promises, and i remember the joy that erupted afterwards, spontaneously, from nowhere. The change was not anything i had any words for at the time, and it birthed something that has continued to grow in me, in spite of thorns and curses.
And there is something in the substance of the world that is biding its time, that is visible when you look for it, that sings of something outside anything we know or have seen.
The rocks do cry out....