Posts Tagged 'Jesus'

He Is Risen!

 

Good Friday

For many followers of Jesus, the Stations of the Cross are a powerful form of worship. The traditional stations represent fourteen discreet places along the path (the Via Dolorosa, or “way of suffering”) that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. Around the world, churches set up images of Christ depicted at these points – traditionally, from his being condemned to death to his being placed in the tomb – that allow people to pause to pray and to contemplate what Jesus did for the world.

In Old Jerusalem, the Stations are marked along the Via Dolorosa with metal markers on the walls of various buildings (first picture, above). As you walk the path, you might find large wooden crosses, which people pick up and carry on their pilgrimage (picture two). If you’re hard core, you can grab and carry two (picture three)!

Resurrection Day

So, if you go to Jerusalem, you quickly learn that there are two possible locations for Jesus’ death and burial (and thus, his resurrection). The first is inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which has been the traditional site since the fourth century. It is grand, with much pageantry (pictures one and two), and, as you can see, has long lines just to touch the rock upon which Christ was crucified (Golgotha or Calvary, picture three), a slab upon which Christ was laid after his death (picture four), and the tomb (picture five).

This location is contrasted with what is called the Garden Tomb, which was unearthed in 1867. Unlike the Church, it is quite modest (picture six), accessible (picture seven), and, while not expressly claiming to be “the” tomb, has a tomb that certainly fits the biblical bill (picture eight).

There is pretty compelling evidence also to claim that the adjacent cliff to the Garden Tomb (picture nine) is Golgotha, the place of the crucifixion, including the fact that it was a traditional site for both Hebrew executions and Roman crucifixions due to being so visibly situated along the road to Damascus. But what I find interesting is the fact that if the crucifixion actually happened here – the Garden tomb, where there is currently no pageantry, no lines, and, indeed, is found at the base of a cliff today surrounded by parked busses and trash (picture ten) – then it would likely be fitting for a life that ultimately defied every expectation of a messiah.

I have my own theory, but ultimately the issue isn’t a dealbreaker.

Happy Resurrection Day, Everyone!

Facebook?!

I woke up this morning with a heaviness and an urgency on my heart concerning the state of our believing body of Christ on social media. Over the past month or two, we’ve been blogging about, “The Power of Our Words,” “Are we awake?”, “Are our eyes open?”, and last week “Roots and Fruits. I had hoped that this would open some eyes and generate healthy Spiritual change, but I now feel the need to address the elephant in the room (or world) – Facebook. My Spirit is truly disturbed by things that I have seen on Facebook for some time. I’ll address those things in no particular order.

1. Is Facebook a reputable news source? NO, and emphatically NO! Please stop using Facebook for world news. I see so many things posted (or typically re-posted) from some site that people think is news, and yet it’s not from any respectable journalistic site, and half the time (or more), it’s not even true! It’s actually quite embarrassing that we, as Americans, are so gullible and lazy that we would just post something that looks like it supports our point of view without fact-checking anything. And, folks, posting false or misleading stuff puts your “friends” in a difficult situation. I mean, what, exactly, are we to do when a friend or relative posts something that’s blatantly false, short of pointing it out and making them feel stupid? Personally, I usually just delete it. Sometimes (If I’m really close to the person), I’ll message them and say it’s false. But realize, Saints, that this sort of reckless sharing of falsity is keeping the world blinded from the Truth of both the natural and the supernatural, and we have enough of that happening on purpose to not let it happen by accident. I know this because once, on 60 Minutes, a guy was being interviewed because he was one of the main instigators of the Pizzagate conspiracy on the web. He admitted to lying about the whole thing on 60 minutes, and so the interviewer asked, “Don’t you think your web viewers will resent the fact that you lied?” And he basically said, “Oh, they’ll never even know I lied, because they don’t ever watch 60 Minutes.” See what we’re up against? People lie to you and assume you’re not ever going to do the work to find out the truth. So, bottom line, Facebook is not news. Don’t treat it like news by posting without doing some serious verification. Better yet, test your posts to see if they’re loving and honor God. If they don’t, then don’t post them.

2. Stop feeding the hate machine! Most of what I see posted is done out of at least subtle hate, and this seriously troubles me. I get it. Everyone has an opinion, and most people don’t care what anyone else’s opinion is, especially these days. But your opinion doesn’t have to include hate. If you’re a follower of Jesus, this should worry you like it worries me, because I often see so-called Christians posting something about God, only to quickly follow that post with something about “hating Republicans” or “shooting liberals.” Stop it! As Joyce Meyer once said, “Just because I sit in my garage, that doesn’t make me a car.” And just because you say you’re a follower of Jesus does not mean you’re following Jesus. Facebook thrives on the constant novelty of posts being shared one after another, most of which contain blatant or even subtle notions of hate. It’s a machine, and its existence is based on the creation and sharing of ever-nastier memes. Every time we share one, we need to seriously ask ourselves, “Is there any part of this that I wouldn’t say to someone in person?” “Is there any part of this that would shock me if I read it in the Bible?” Look, I know that God created hate, but he did so to give us a righteous hatred for things that harm his people. I also know that we’re called sometimes to correct the saints, but when we do that, we do it with love. If you’re not sure if it’s hate – meaning, maybe, you just think it’s funny, or a clever way of showing you don’t like being politically correct – insert your own child or mother into the role of the object of the derision, and pretend it came from someone else. Then you’ll know what to do. Here’s a quick example. I happen to know a guy who posts things about God. Clearly, he’s a believer in God, and professes to believe in Christ. But I just went on his FB feed and saw two posts in addition to the God posts, one saying, “Always carry a knife with you, just in case there’s cheesecake or if someone needs to be stabbed,“ and the other a clear reference to hoping that Ruth Bader Ginsburg will die. Funny? Barely. Hate as their source? For sure. Would you want someone you didn’t know to joke about stabbing your daughter or hoping your mother might die? Of course not. So why re-post? Bottom line, don’t be a part of the hate machine.

3. Stop sowing spiritual confusion. More specifically, when we post things about God or scripture, and then follow those posts with hate, such as posts about “our” political party that are hateful of the “other” political party, we sow spiritual confusion. God’s people should be first and foremost illustrating the persons of God and all things Godly. We’re not perfect, but we should at least be striving to be better each day, constantly asking for guidance and forgiveness when we fall down. When we sow spiritual confusion, though, the world calls us hypocrites, and they’re RIGHT! This is the opposite of what God has in mind for us, for the Bible says that we’re to be the salt and light in the world – we’re called to be clear beacons and not to confuse the world. We’re to be the ambassadors of Christ to those who don’t know him.

4. Don’t be confused by the issue of judging versus correction. Not long ago, I re-posted an article with a picture of so-called “evangelicals” praying over the President. I was disturbed that these people were publicly displaying their work and wanting the world to see how great they were – which completely calls into question their motive. I was also disturbed that they were praying for President Trumps’ world and political agenda instead of praying over him for salvation, Truth, Light and behavior worthy of our Lord. When I posted this, though, I had a seeker ask me about it. He said he thought it was great that people were praying over the President, and he wondered how I, as a Christian, might think that was bad. That began a long conversation over correcting with love versus judging, and that’s a thorny issue for anyone. Mostly, he thought I was judging the President, when I thought I was mostly correcting the church. But that’s almost always too complicated to express on Facebook. Accordingly, after that conversation, I personally decided that I would be extra careful in what I post or re-post, and I have since decided to only “follow,” “like,” or express opinions of things worthy of my Lord so that my behavior or testimony will not turn a seeker away from knowing God or will not lead a believer down a wrong path. When I come to my final days, I do NOT want my legacy to be that I misled His people in any way! This doesn’t mean we can’t lovingly correct the church – my pastor does it, my prophet friends do it, my husband does it, and heck, because my ministry is “arming the saints,” this blog is often concerned with loving correction to better arm people for supernatural battles. Just don’t be surprised if people don’t understand the distinction. I encourage you to pick the most honorable and worthy path to show people the love of our Lord. Maybe it doesn’t involve correcting the church, especially if people mistake it for judging. This political season and our life in this world will pass away, but our belief is based on eternity, so err on the side of avoiding confusion.

5. Don’t be one of satan’s tools! Saints, my own personal opinion is that, whatever good something like Facebook brings to your lives, it also presents an enormous opportunity for the enemy to harness for his purposes of stealing, killing, and destroying God’s people. The Bible states that, “many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” (Mt 24:11) Satan often uses imitation to deceive, and so he will continue to put up “prophets” that speak to his agenda and deceive believers. They’re false because they don’t speak the Truth. Accordingly, even if a follower of Jesus says he or she is a prophet (I’m one of those people who believes in modern day prophets – if you don’t know why, then that’s another blog!) we should not blindly follow them. Instead, we must continually test what they say. Even if it’s laden with scripture, test it! Ask the Lord to reveal the Truth of who they are. If they’re false, they’ll reveal it with a slip or a slant on the scripture that will prick up your ears. I’ve spent the last two years in fervent prayer asking God to open my eyes to the Truth of what’s happening in the world. God and I have an agreement that I always look for confirmation as to Truth and what He wants me to say so I don’t always go off half-baked or partially correct in my words. Don’t get me wrong – I still stumble, but the more I ask for spiritual awareness, revelation, grounding, and correct words – the less stumbling I do. Bottom line is that because Facebook is used by people for news, because it can be a machine of hate, and because it can sow spiritual confusion, satan will be using it.

6. Facebook is doing deep spiritual damage to the entire world! There’s a not-so-subtle chipping away at our civility and humanity by what goes on with Facebook. I’ve deleted comments from people physically threatening other friends on my feed, and, when I do, they sometimes complain that I’m “not following the first amendment.” And that’s just one blatant example. People think Facebook is anonymous, but everyone reads it. People think it allows them to argue with others, but they’d probably never do that in person. People think it allows them to “keep it real,” or to be “politically incorrect,” but often those phrases are simply justifications for past actions. People think it doesn’t hurt anyone, but we know of kids who have committed suicide over it. And, above all, people think that all of this hatred is allowed as some sort of American “right” of expression. All of these thoughts are wrong. Real people read posts and apply them to themselves, and they can be affected in ways that make the world a much worse place to live. And this happens, folks, millions of times a day, every single day. It causes families to argue, friends to stop speaking, and people to avoid other people altogether. I’ve personally been reluctant to visit even family, for fear that their posts reflect the way they’re going to behave in person. Here’s one small way that we can reverse that trend. My husband has “Facebook rules” that he applies to anyone who wants to comment on any of his posts. Rule number one, which is a good one, is that my husband will never, and I mean NEVER, post anything that is degrading or in opposition to someone on their own feed. That first rule is crucial to the rest of the rules, simply because the other rules apply to people who decide to post demeaning things on my husband’s feed. He claims that since he made that rule – which he’s had to post periodically – people have stopped coming on his feed to trash him. He’s also much, much calmer about what other people post, and he’s convinced that those other people are calmer about what he posts. What he’s done is to subtly insert a notion of mutual respect into Facebook. Now, don’t get me wrong, both his and other people’s feeds might be wrong or crazy, but at least – for those people and for my husband – there are fewer arguments (and thus less hatred) simply because they’re looking at Facebook as a personal opinion site, which they’re required to respect. I know people without that rule who feel compelled to respond and argue with someone else’s post. I also see people afraid to say something simply because they fear someone will come on and pick a fight. Think about creating your own personal rule of mutual respect for posts, no matter how crazy. Hey, it’s a start. The bottom line is that every single thing we say and do either uplifts or chips away at the spirit. We can decide which way it goes.

7. Is there any good in Facebook? Yes, and maybe that’s the problem because it does have benefits. Facebook is a great place to reconnect with friends and family and see what they’re doing in their lives. I love seeing pictures of vacations, time out with family/friends, hobbies, etc. Every morning, Tim reads a pastor’s mini-sermon that only appears on Facebook. He often says, “It’s also great for jokes and birthdays.” And, true enough, I have to admit that I love looking at the funny things that are on Facebook. I only look at it about once a week on the weekends, so that’s why you’ll almost always get delayed responses and well wishes late from me. And I love some of the funny (clean) jokes and videos being shared. My most recent favorite was a video of a dog carrying a plastic sled up a snowy hill and then hopping on it to slide down! I laughed out loud when I saw it, and It makes me giggle just writing it down here!

I know I might be preaching to the choir here, but now’s the time for us to speak for the Truth of what’s being put forth in the world and to stand up against the falsity. I encourage you to consider sharing this blog on your own Facebook page, even if you say, “Look at this crazy post!” More broadly, the Bible talks about a little bit of yeast getting into dough and permeating the whole batch (I Cor 5:6), so think hard about sharing only the kinds of posts that speak of God’s love and respect for others. Share posts about how to view Facebook in a Godly way. Share posts that uplift and edify. Share the Truth.

Easter 2016

There are lots of reasons for why it’s good that Jesus came when he came. I just can’t imagine having the savior of the world being covered nonstop by CNN, or Fox, or – gasp – News of the World. I’m glad there aren’t any descriptions of him in the Bible. I think he’s much more accessible to everyone that way.

And, dude, just think about social media. Knowing Facebook like I do, with everyone posting only the good or happy aspects of their lives, I imagine that we’d have no record whatsoever of anything happening to Jesus after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem and before his return from the grave. Nothing during holy week, when all of the difficult but really important stuff happened to Jesus. Just a shot of him on a donkey and then later a selfie with Thomas.  And I simply can’t imagine having to endure the inane Internet comments people might post after seeing him give, say, the Sermon on the Mount. I imagine they’d start off talking about the sermon, but then they’d inevitably drift off to arguing about impeaching Emperor Tiberius. And can you imagine Jesus’s Twitter feed? Of course not – that’s why he had to come when he came.

tomb

He came at a time when nobody really “covered” the news, but what he did and his message are so important that they exist forcefully 2,000 years later. Today, it would be the biggest news ever: Jesus overcame the world. He overcame death itself. And by doing so, he gave us hope not only for our lives, but also our deaths. Jesus told his followers: “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19).

Indeed, by conquering death and showing his disciples concrete existence of a life beyond this world, Jesus provided more than just hope – Jesus promised that we, too, would have everlasting life, and Jesus keeps his promises. But just as important, Jesus’s promise of a life beyond this world gives us meaning for the things we do in this world. Easter reminds us, once again, that what we do in the natural world matters beyond the natural world. What we do to other children of God matters. What we think about and believe in matters.

Happy resurrection day, everyone!

Tim and Denise

Palm Sunday! Palm Sunday!

palm

Every Palm Sunday I’m reminded at how quickly things can change. Just five days after Jesus rode into Jerusalem, he was crucified. But just two days after that, he rose from the grave to bring salvation to the world for all time.

Your life might take a bad turn, and it might take that turn fairly quickly. But remember that God is there to turn you back around even quicker. All you have to do is call on Him.

Happy Palm Sunday, everyone, and my God bless you all!

Once again, the real story is . . .

Denise and I are in Connecticut — I have to talk to the Governor, of all people, about my day job. Can you imagine? Life is certainly interesting.

While we were in the hotel, we watched the movie “Unbroken” on HBO. It tells the real-life struggle of Louis Zamperini, an olympic athlete who gets shot down over the ocean, survives sharks and Japanese strafing for weeks on a raft, only to be captured and tortured by a sadistic Japanese prison guard.

The movie was great, but one reviewer in particular pointed out what was probably most lacking in the finished product. Lena Cruz, in her review in the Atlantic, wrote that even though the story was true to Zamperini’s  ordeals during the war, it left out “the real story” from the book, which was his post-war PTSD, alcoholism, and ultimate turn to Christianity and forgiveness of those who abused him.

Once again, the real story is not human suffering, or even resilience in the world. We have plenty of that. The real story is how that suffering can be overcome most completely by Jesus Christ, leading to a life of forgiveness, and, ultimately, redemption. It’s the story of Jesus himself, who suffered more than anyone, and who, through his forgiveness, allows us to partake in that redemption.

God bless you all,

Tim and Denise


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