pastor's corner - March 1st
It began with ashes last Wednesday. “From dust you came and dust you will return.” A stark reminder of the fragility of life. Author, Rob Bell notes, “For the seven weeks leading up to Resurrection Sunday, we practice sober awareness of our frailty, sins and smallness. It starts on Ash Wednesday when those ashes are traced on our foreheads in the shape of the cross, a tactile reminder of our origins in the dust. From there we come, and to there we will go.”
Thankfully the significance of the ashes doesn’t end there. Ashes (which were often paired with fasting in scripture) were an external sign of internal grief for personal sins against God and humanity (Jonah 3). They were also an outward symbol of lamenting the tragic brokenness of this world (2 Sam 13:19). Ashes remind us that we are in desperate need of a Savior.
This Savior is the reason we fast for forty days. We fast from the things our flesh desires in order to feast on for the very thing we need the most, Jesus. We follow in the footsteps of Jesus who was lead by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to fast for forty days. It was there that our true King had a showdown with the evil one. This enemy offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world. But Jesus’ loyalty to the Kingdom of God was unwavering. A reminder that Lent is a time to let God’s kingdom gain another square inch of our hearts, minds and lives.
Fast-forward from last Wednesday and now we are talking about the unusual way this kingdom arrived. It may surprise some to learn that the true King of kings wasn’t born within the safe and warm confines of palace walls. He was born into the harsh cruel world he came to save and his life was in danger from the start. Which is why the Lord says, “Get up and take the child…” to Mary and Joseph. Thankfully they take heed of God's warning and “get up and take” Jesus to Egypt and barely escape King Herod’s ruthless genocide of boys in Bethlehem.
But I found Jesus' “unplanned” detour away from Israel a bit frustrating this week. It seems like a huge letdown in the grand scheme of the narrative. "Didn’t God’s people wait long enough for the Messiah to come and as soon as he arrives he is whisked away from their presence?!" Regardless their wait for the Savior must resume. Thankfully after Herod’s death, the true king of Israel finally returns when Mary and Joseph receive another divine message to “get up and take” Jesus to Nazareth.
Ironically we are still there. We are a people who await the return of the one who came to save us. We fast and wear ashes looking forward to the day when sin, brokenness and death will be no more. We live every day with the very real knowledge that we need our Savior to come back. We await the return of the King.
Grace and peace,
Accidents Waiting to Happen
Humanity is prone to make mistakes. The Bible teaches us that when we ignore God’s instruction we actually become “accidents waiting to happen.” To make matters worse our mistakes and our sins cause brokenness in our lives. But the Lord doesn’t leave us stranded. In Psalm 130 we discover that God will come to our aid. “Like a good neighbor, the Lord is there”. The one who arrives to assess the damage we’ve done it the one who redeems and restores us.
Here are some helpful ways to live into the truths of Psalm 130:
Acknowledge. Be honest about your errors and mistakes. Blaming others for our troubles hampers our ability to turn away from bad habits and choices. Confession is the first step toward restoration. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9)
Let go. Give God all of your sins. Jesus died for all our sins, so we ought not hold unto any of them. "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:12)
Embrace restoration. Jesus wants to make all things new and that includes you! Jesus wants to free you from that vice, addiction or personality flaw you’ve been holding unto for what seems like forever. Every day is a chance to be born again. Read and follow God’s Word, so he can guide you towards a newer and better you. "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror" (James 1:22-23).
Share your struggles with others for accountability and encouragement. We were never meant to go it alone. "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ" (Eph 4:15).
Rinse and Repeat. If the New Testament teaches us anything about our daily walk with Christ- we live in this cycle of confession, repentance, transformation until the kingdom come. Many of our struggles happen because we get off this track and fail to “rinse and repeat”.
Grace and peace,