Monthly Archives: March 2013

As the Curtain Drops

red theater curtain

Any time that I envision the scene of what we refer to as Good Friday,  I imagine the cross  erected on Calvary with the body of Jesus limply hanging on. In my mind the 8th symphony of the Austrian composer Anton Buckner plays in the background, leading into its final crescendo.

Then Jesus speaks, shaking the very foundations of the earth as He utters: “It is finished.”

It’s a dramatic setting for a dramatic choice.

Jesus, the Son of the Everlasting Father, a part of the Holy Trinity, and the Word made flesh, came down to the very earth He created to sacrifice His life to save the human race.

And you know what never seizes to blow my mind? It’s not that He left His glorious throne in heaven to be born in a prickly manger here on earth, or that He left His celestial body to embrace the limitations of human form. No, it’s something that grips my heart at it’s core. The fact that Jesus, who was present when mankind was first created through Adam (Genesis 1:26 ), willingly allowed the very human beings He created in His own image to crucify Him. Think about this for a moment. Let this magnificent truth set deep into your hearts.

God allowed His own creation to flog Him, to nail His holy hands and feet to a piece of wood (which He created), to be carried to a hill (that He also created) to spill blood to cleanse the sins of the entire world. Everyone was paid for in that moment. Everyone. Whether people chose to believe in Him or not, He still died for them. It wasn’t the nails that kept God hanging on the cross (let’s be honest here, He created the entire universe and the materials used to make those four nails), but love. It was love that kept Him bound to that wooden cross, not any efforts made by mankind.

This is the most profound, yet sobering, demonstration of humility in love that mankind has ever known. And will ever know. Jesus truly is the King of Glory. He is the Savior of the world. And He does deserve the highest of praise. He deserves it, point blank.

According to the Gospel of Luke, this is how the story unfolds in the last hour.

“It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father into your hands I commit My spirit.’ When He said this, He breathed His last.” Luke 23:44-46

Jesus dies and the world mourns, because their King has just been crucified.

The curtain drops. But there is no applause.

Because many believed that His story was tragically ending there.

But, unbeknownst to them, the curtain has dropped only for a moment.

The performance hasn’t ended. It’s the intermission.

In fact,  as we wait for the curtain to rise again (just as the King will rise) so that the story can continue, there are critical points leading up to the climax of Jesus’ death that are revealed in the Bible .

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog as I disclose five critical lessons Jesus taught as He approached His death on the cross, each inspired by my time with the Holy Spirit.

Enjoy your Good Friday, beloved.

This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Photo courtesy of stockfreeimages.com

How to Love God

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment.” Matthew 22:37-38

This commandment to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind isn’t anything new to us as believers. Many of us would desire greater opportunities to love Him more as our eternal God. But I truly believe that many Christians (including myself) are actually clueless about how we can love Him beyond reading His word, singing Him praises, and helping others that are in need.

How exactly are we supposed to live out the “greatest commandment” known to man?

Because of God’s faithfulness, we can trust that when He commands us to do something, He will always provide us the means with which to do it. This can include good instruction, a relevant example, and of course His abundant, overflowing grace. Since God is placing such an emphasis on loving Him, He will show each of us how to fulfill it.

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” Deuteronomy 7:9

“If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13

We all know that Jesus Christ died for our sins. His sacrificial atonement for our brokenness is truly a relevant example of “love in action.”

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

How can we reciprocate this same type of affection towards God on a daily basis? How do we love God using the exact same principles found in His word, and in the example of Jesus dying an unjust death for our very freedom?

If you’re married or have been in church for some time, you can probably recall hearing a sermon about 1 Corinthians 13, better known as the love chapter. It wasn’t until I was sitting on my plush living room couch and sipping hot tea in the stillness of an afternoon that the message of this chapter hit me like a freight train.

This is how we should love God.

God is love. We all know this upon reading His word. Here, God (in His kindness and wisdom) decides to faithfully spell out a definition of love (found in 1 Corinthians 13) in an easy-to-understand fashion that is not corrupted by false teaching or emotionalism.

Pay close attention to what He is saying here, beloved. This is how God loves us, because this is who He is:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

This is the reflection of God’s very nature and character:

God is patient with [insert your name]. God is kind to [insert your name]. God is gentle towards [insert your name]. God is not self-seeking as He puts [insert your name] first. God is not easily angered even though we give Him several reasons to be, and God doesn’t keep a record of our wrongs even though He could. And so forth.

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15

Since this is the the defining benchmark of how we are to truly love, then this must be the source of how we also love God. This is how we love God well: by loving Him the way He loves us.

God longs to be loved by us, just as we long to be loved by Him. This is about a relationship, not a “to do” lost of ritualistic behaviors that appear to be loving towards Him. He wants you and He wants me.

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:40

Let that sink in for a moment…..

Loving God isn’t based on feelings alone. We must love Him when times are hard, when we face uncertain challenges and can’t see what’s ahead.

Seeking His grace in applying the biblical definition of love and putting it into action in our relationship with God require intentionality.

This weekend we’ll revisit 1 Corinthians 13 in detail, exploring how we can tangibly love God with all of our hearts, mind, soul, and strength.

My prayer is that your heart and mind may be transformed (just as mine has this past week) in understanding how to truly (and deeply) love this everlasting God to whom we belong.
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For the Love of Minerals

stalagmite

It is He who made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom, and by His understanding stretched out the heavens.” Jeremiah 10:12

After reading yesterday’s post on where minerals originate, I believe we can all conclude that we serve an innovative and creative God. One that is trained in the area of  maximizing resources.

Minerals are a perfect example of the brilliant talent He possesses. If we look around us, we are bound to find a mineral somewhere in something. They are everywhere – in our soil, in our bones, in our oceans, in our blood, in our food, in our animals, and in the expanse of the universe.

And you know what is mind-blowing to me? Not only were these essential minerals birthed from a massive star, but without these minerals we would cease to live. Think about this for a second. The same stars that the Lord created as heavenly hosts to shimmer in the backdrop of an evening’s darkness provide the very means through which our hearts continue beating. Wow.

All I can say is: God is innovative.

You may be asking, what exactly is a mineral?

Minerals are defined as solid, inorganic (not containing carbon) substances of natural occurrence.

There are two kinds of essential minerals that our bodies need: the major minerals (7 of them needed in a higher dose) and the trace minerals (9 of them in lower doses).  And, just for the record, the amount needed in the body is not an indicator of it’s significance in the body.

So, I have to ask you.…….

Did you know that every muscle in your body depends on sodium and potassium to contract, and without it your heart could no longer beat? Or that your stomach would resist digesting your breakfast if it were missing the mineral chloride? Did you know your spinal cord would refuse to send the signals required for your hands to pick up that morning cup of coffee if it were lacking calcium? There’s no underestimating the term “essential” here.

Why am I sharing all this information with you?

I deeply believe that when we, as His beloved, begin to gain a real understanding of how complex and wonderfully made we are by our Creator, we can better value, appreciate, and understand this amazing God we serve. And we’re further equipped to honor Him by treating our bodies well through nutrition. We can do this by seeking out the very food sources that He provides, rich in the very minerals we need. Why should we? To give Him our best, because He deserves it.

Let’s go ahead and dive in to the first four major minerals: Calcium, Chloride, Sodium, and Potassium.

Calcium

Functions in the Body:

  • Helps to build strong bones and teeth
  • Helps to maintain normal blood pressure
  • Aids in blood clotting
  • Aids in muscle contractions
  • Aids in nerve impulse transmission
  • Aids in the secretion of hormones
  • Aids in activation of some enzyme reactions
  • May protect against hypertension
  • May help maintain a healthy body weight

Rich Food Sources:

  • Milk products, such as low fat cheese, low fat milk, and low-fat yogurt
  • Small fish, such as herring and sardines
  • Some vegetables, such as raw chives, raw grape leaves, dried agar/seaweed, raw dandelion greens, raw garlic, arugula, spinach, turnip greens, and kale
  • Legumes, such as soy (tofu preferred), red kidney beans, white beans, and great northern beans

Chloride

Functions in the Body:

  • Maintains fluid and electrolyte balance
  • Maintains the strong concentration of hydrochloric acid  in the stomach

Rich Food Sources:

  • Olives
  • Seaweed
  • Meats such as animal liver, shrimp,  and fish
  • Eggs
  • Soy sauce
  • Table salt (sodium chloride)

Sodium

Functions in the Body:

  • Works with potassium to maintain proper electrolyte balance and normal fluid levels
  • Helps to maintain normal blood pressure
  • Aids in muscle contraction and nerve transmission
  • Regulates the body’s acid-base balance
  • Is required for the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach

Rich Food Sources:

  • Salted nuts
  • Olives
  • Pickled vegetables
  • Canned foods, such as tomatoes
  • Processed meats, such as bacon, salami, and beef jerky
  • Canned sardines
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • Cheese

Potassium

Functions in the Body:

  • Maintains fluid and electrolyte balance
  • Aids in nerve impulse transmission
  • Aids in muscle contraction
  • Helps maintain a steady heartbeat
  • Reduces risk of heart disease and stroke

Food Sources:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, tomatoes, spinach, Swiss chard, baked potatoes, avocados, bananas, oranges
  • Legumes, such as soybeans, white beans, lima beans, red kidney beans, and black beans
  • Grains, such as rice bran, wheat bran, wheat germ, quinoa, rye flour, and buckwheat
  • Dairy products, such as lowfat milk and yogurt

Can you begin to see how we are intricately knit together, divinely formed from the dust of the earthly ground? May we steward this knowledge well by choosing healthy food in order to reap strong bodies, all through the grace of Jesus Christ.

Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” 1 Corinthians 4:1

Photo courtesy of stockfreeimages.com

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