Lent, Week 6: Prepare Resurrection

Easter is a time to celebrate the empty grave!

It’s a time to proclaim, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” from the Mystery of Faith. And I love what Charlie Hall does with this proclamation in his song, Mystery: “Celebrate His death & rising. Lift your eyes, proclaim His coming. Celebrate His death & rising. Lift your eyes, lift your eyes.” And the death & rising truly is a mystery, but it’s a mystery worth celebrating.

It doesn’t end with Jesus’ death & resurrection! In fact, the Bible says that we too have been resurrected with Christ! Romans 6:1-14 is titled “Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ”. We were buried with Christ through baptism into death so that we could be raised with Him to live a new life for His glory.

Easter is easily a time where we can contemplate the cross, Jesus’ sacrifice, and His death & resurrection. We may have even heard/read/recited John 3:16 more than we can count. But don’t let the power of the resurrection in your own life continue to be buried. We have been raised with Christ!

Colossians 2:13-15 says, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

Brothers & sisters, prepare for that very resurrection as we draw even nearer to Easter. We are alive with Christ and if sin & death are no more through the power of Christ, continue to be steadfast in your Lenten journey and in your lives. Glory to God!

Reflection Song: Unending Praise

Lent – Prepare: Yourself (Week 1) | Others (Week 2) | Discipline (Week 3) | Your Heart (Week 4) | The Cross (Week 5) | Resurrection (Week 6) | The Way (Week 7)

Lent, Week 4: Prepare Your Heart

We’re about halfway into Lent (today is Day 17, for those of you who keep count). You might find yourself to be in autopilot mode by now, possibly numbed to the reason why you started fasting. But hopefully not!

I’ve discovered that halfway into Lent is the easiest to get stuck in a routine, continuing just because you already started. Even those around you may have picked up on it by now: “Oh, he can’t have soda.” But I believe right now, in the in-between, is a crucial point for our fasting and our Lenten journey as a whole.

You may remember in Luke 10:38-42, Mary & Martha opened their home to Jesus. Notice the difference in their attitudes? Both want to honor the Lord but for some reason, the busyness takes over Martha. Some of us have an urge to stay busy, especially if it’s to distract us from thinking about what was given up during Lent! (Right?)

We think because we gave it up, that’s good enough for the Lord… but our hearts need to be in the right place. Don’t let the actions of what you do overshadow the heart of the actions. In your fasting (or supplementing), take time to think about what God has done for you so that you can appropriately reflect and celebrate with the time you have. Give Him your heart, your life, and attention over your gestures and actions.

It’s easy to bury Lent within Lent. But dig deep and keep the purpose strong. Bless the Lord who continues to bless you and strive to make the rest of this time a time to make it count. The things we consider precious are so dull in comparison to Him!

Reflection Song: Because Of Your Love

Lent – Prepare: Yourself (Week 1) | Others (Week 2) | Discipline (Week 3) | Your Heart (Week 4) | The Cross (Week 5) | Resurrection (Week 6) | The Way (Week 7)

The Father Heart Of God

You and I have probably read or heard of “The Parable Of The Prodigal Son” more times than we can count. You may even know it as “The Parable Of The Lost Son”. For some reason, every time I hear a pastor preach on this story, it shines a new light on it every single time. If this is your first time hearing about it, please feel free to first read Luke 15:11-32 for some context.

You might think that “prodigal” could mean “lost” because in the parable the younger son loses his way, demands for his share of the inheritance before his father’s death, squanders it, and finally realizes his wrongs & comes home. But “prodigal” is actually defined as wasteful, extravagant, recklessly spending…

Recently we led worship at the Cornerstone Church Retreat, where YWAM speaker Rev. Joe Ferrante spoke on “The Father Heart Of God”. A couple of questions he asked that weekend were: How do you view God’s heart for your life? Do you believe that He really is good and that you are good enough for His love?

From time to time, we might feel like the younger son – thinking “I’ve got this”, ignoring God the Father, and wasting it all away on things we think we’ve got a handle on. Maybe you’ve actually done this in real life with your own parent(s). But as you know, life isn’t perfect… we aren’t perfect. Even Jesus said that in this world we’ll have trouble (John 16:33)! So why do we run away from God our Father and think that we don’t need His love and support?

Lately I’ve come to re-realize that the Father heart of God is as extravagant, as extreme, as prodigal as the younger son… but in the best sense possible! But to draw an even better picture, Jesus continues the story: the younger son comes home to beg for his father’s forgiveness. Yet the father, who was waiting for his son to return, sees him from a distance and runs to embrace him. I’m sure the son was surprised – I know I would be! But he says, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

The father’s response? “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

Not only does the father take him back… he throws a feast! If you were the older son at this point you’d probably be thinking as he does, “Hey… what’s this? Where’s my feast?”… But Rev. Joe Ferrante puts it very nicely here: The party may not necessarily have been for the younger son, but for the father. That’s how extravagant God’s love is for us. That’s how much and how long He’s been waiting for us to come to our senses and come home too. That’s how lavishly He wants to waste it all on you and me.

To even throw a party for the one who’s messed up so badly in life… wow. But you know, He gets it. Life’s tough and stuff happens. He gets it. Just as the father killed the fattened calf for the returned son, our Father sacrificed the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, so that those who see this sign of God’s perfect love would come home and realize the true heart of the Father.

No matter how badly or carelessly you’ve handled things, God is waiting for you to return… maybe even for the first time. You might not think you’re worth it, but He does! God searches our hearts and knows us (Psalm 139). He is good all the time, even when you don’t feel like you’re good enough for His love. Wherever you’re at today, I pray that you would experience an extravagant love from the Father like no other.

Reflection Song: Here Today