Friday, April 22, 2011

What's the Big Deal about Easter?

Why does everyone make such a big deal out of Easter?  I'm not talking about the new outfits, the Easter Bunny, egg hunts, Peeps or sales at Kohl's. 

For some reason, this holiday has endured as a major celebration.  It has not become nearly as commercialized as Christmas.  The historical events behind Easter are not nearly as cute as the Christmas story.

A man was falsely accused, condemned and executed, while his friends ran for cover.  Then, on the third day, this man came back to life.  It is a story full of drama and pathos; it is far from cute.  But why does the story need to be told over and over?  Why do we need to celebrate?

Easter is evidence that God has not forgotten us.  The world is full of hardship and evil, but God entered this messed-up world as Jesus Christ.  He took on the evil of the world, suffering ridicule and rejection, even to the point of death.

God the Son died at the hands of his evil creatures.  Death, one would think, would be the final word.  But it wasn't.  On the third day, this dead man came back to life.  He defeated death.

In his death and resurrection, Jesus won the battle against evil on behalf of all who believe in him.  He used the greatest imaginable evil against himself to bring the blessings of heaven to the ones who had him killed. 

If God loves us this much, that changes everything.  He wants our company.  He redeems our sinful hearts.  He gives us his own goodness. 

Because of Easter, we can now see life in light of the Resurrection!  It makes all the difference in the world

Sunday, April 17, 2011

More important than competition

I was hoping to tell stories about my triathlon competition today, but alas, I cannot.  The wicked weather system caused our event to be canceled, or rather postponed until September.  I should not complain, because we were not badly hit by the storm here in Stokesdale.  We had plenty of high winds and rain, enough to blow over and break tents at the triathlon staging area.

But miles to the east of us, home were destroyed and lives lost.  The devastation is unbelievable.  At least 22 people were killed in NC with this storm system.  It may take weeks to clean up, and months to rebuild.

Just when we think that we have conquered the elements, we are reminded that the forces of nature are beyond our control.  We really live every day at the mercy of God. 

Lord, help those who suffered loss in this storm find your love in the midst of disaster.  Let us share your love in your power.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My First Triathlon

I have always wanted to run a triathlon.  Now it is here.  It's coming even sooner than I thought.  The event planners sent out a schedule change this morning.  Instead of starting at 8 a.m. tomorrow, it will start at 7.  They think that we will be done with the race before all the storms roll in.  I'm not so sure...

Obviously I have had to train.  Now this is what they call a "sprint" triathlon.  I don't expect to do a lot of sprinting, but I think I can cover the 750 meter swim, 14 mile bike ride, and 5k run.  I actually went for a swim a couple of weeks ago, trying out my wet suit.  Might squeeze in another swim today.

This is certainly out of my comfort zone physically.  God is constantly calling me outside of my comfort zone, in just about every aspect of life.  He wants to stretch me.  He knows that pushing my limits helps me to grow.  There is so much more that God can do with me when I will step up to a challenge.

Sometimes the challenges come to us without warning; then we just have to do our best.  Sometimes we sign up for challenges.  I need to sign up for more challenges.  And part of that challenge is following through.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Oh Brother

Reading about Jesus this morning, I noticed something I had never paid attention to before.  As he invited people to follow him, Jesus began by calling two brothers, Peter and Andrew.  They were fishermen and were busy with their trade.  After they accepted his invitation, Jesus went on and found two other brothers, James and John.  They were also fishermen, at work with their father.

According to Matthew, these were the first disciples Jesus called.  So, he began with choosing two sets of brothers.  This makes me wonder why he chose brothers.  He could have called Peter without calling Andrew.  He could have called John without James.  Certainly Jesus was not just looking for warm bodies to boost his numbers. 

He called people who already loved each other and cared about each other.  They had grown up together; they had the bonds of blood, common upbringing, and business partnership. 

Why did this matter so much to Jesus?  He could have chosen 12 unrelated and disconnected followers. 

The journey of faith is a journey of relationship.  We need companions as we travel down the path.  Jesus began with at least two sets of brothers.  He began with men who knew the value of living life together, even working together.  They knew they could not do it alone.  They knew they needed each other.

We need today to recapture some of that closeness in relationship.  I'm so grateful for the church as a fellowship of encouragement, where we can live life together, lean on each other, and cheer for one another!