Friday, April 17, 2009

Gone Fishing

I went fishing the other day with my family. Although we didn't land the kind of "miracle" catch that Jesus helped Peter catch, we did catch a few perch. My youngest son, convinced that there were sharks in the lake, was pleasantly surprised when we reeled in the small fish. Neither one of of my boys cared to bait their hooks with the slimy worms so I took care of that. After all, you can't catch fish without bait. Whether it's rubber worms, live bait, fancy lures or whatever, you have to use something to catch fish.

Peter, James, and John and all the other fishermen that eventually followed Jesus knew all about catching fish. When Jesus called them to follow Him, He said, "Follow me and I'll make you fishers of men." Jesus was building a kingdom and was recruiting men to help him bring others into the kingdom. Like those men, those of us who are followers of Jesus, have the responsibility to be "fishers of men."

There is no better time than right now to engage in this type of kingdom business. Our bait? Hope! There's not a great deal of good news to be found right now, but we as believers always have a source of good news. We always have hope to share with those who have none. Psalm 91 declares that regardless of what is happening in the world around us, God will always take care of his children.

Sure, the economy looks bad, and there are wars and rumors of wars, and the spirit of anti-christ is seen everywhere. But, God is still on the throne and he is a refuge for each of us. Look for opportunities to share hope with those you meet. You don't have to be preachy, just confident that the God you serve is who He says He is.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Good Friday?

I know it seems a bit strange to label the day Jesus was brutally beaten and killed as "good." At least my 6 year old is struggling a bit with that terminology. After all, it was a moment that Jesus asked the Father if it was possible to spare Him from it. Of course, it was the only way to redeem lost man, so Jesus followed through with the plan. A plan that would require an innocent man to be arrested, mocked, ridiculed, beaten, abused, whipped, nailed to a cross, and ultimately killed. And we call that "good."

Good, because we know what it all meant. At least what it all meant for us. The "good" was what it meant for us. Redemption, restoration, salvation, and much more. It was a moment in time where the mercy, grace, and love of God met at the same point with the justice, and judgment of God. We being the recipients of His mercy, grace, and love and Jesus being the recipient of His justice, judgment, and wrath. Its the point where God poured out the punishment for sin and Jesus agreed to take that punishment for us.

Scripture tells us that He became our sin. Is it any wonder, God had to turn His back on Him? Jesus became the very thing God hated. Think about that for a minute. Jesus, who is God, became the very thing God hates. God, Himself, became something He hates in order to rescue what He loves. We've all seen Hollywood try to illustrate what happened that day, and I believe none of their attempts come close. Sure, Mel Gibson's, "Passion of the Christ," probably is the closest, but even with all its detail of the crucifixion, it still falls short. There is so much going on at this point in time besides a crucifixion. Our sin, all of it, was carried to that cross that day. From Hitler's inhumanity, to our little white lies. Every murderer, adulterer, pedophile, liar, thief, gossip, or drunk. Every abusive parent, rebellious child, or uncompassionate, unloving, selfish person. Jesus became that sin! Ponder that for a moment. Jesus became all of that sin. It brings a great deal more understanding as to why God the Father, couldn't stand to look at Him.

The wages of sin is death. The payment, punishment, and judgement of sin is death. All of us have sinned. Every single one of us fit into that category of deserving death. But God stepped in with His grace, mercy, and love. He came in the flesh and became sin so that He himself could take on our punishment of death. Isaiah tells us that, it pleased the Father to bruise Him. It pleased God for Jesus to be crucified. That's sounds a bit odd, without knowing the whole story, but when you know what all was going on that day, you understand very well why it pleased the Father. Redemption, restoration, and salvation was made available to us all that day, because of what Jesus did. Because, Jesus, who is God, submitted his eternal, immortal self to death as a man, mankind could once again have the eternal life he was designed to have.

I'm sure the disciples thought that crucifixion day was anything but "good." But on that resurrection day can you imagine what type of emotions stirred in them all? Every doubt, every question, every tear was gone in an instant as they realized it was all true. Everything He said he was and everything He said he would do, had to have come racing back to them as they stood at the door of that empty tomb. That sin he took on Himself, He shed, having never sinned himself, and in an instant God raised Him from the dead. For the disciples, all the pieces of the puzzle came together that day, as they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the man they had dropped everything to follow, had dropped everything to save each one of them. He was indeed the Messiah the world had long awaited for and His salvation was available to all.

It was at that very moment, I think they all realized how "good" that crucifixion day really was. We have grown up celebrating this day as "Good Friday!" Many workers just see it as another day off, while many retailers see it as another day to make some money. For the believer though, who understands what happened on that day some 2000 years ago, he/she sees it for what it really is...."Good Friday!"

Friday, April 3, 2009

Is The World Coming To An End?

With all the events going on in the world it makes you think a little doesn't it? The economies of the world are going crazy, Iran and North Korea are trying feverishly to develop nuclear capabilities, world leaders are discussing a "global currency," and Israel is proclaiming if somebody doesn't stop Iran they will. Put all that together with the whole global warming thing or the coming "ice age" and things seem to be a bit unstable.

But does it mean that the world is coming to an end? We are all leery of all those who proclaim the end is here because of all those who have missed it in the past. Remember the Cold War of the 1980's and the fear that somebody was going to push that button that would send this world into global thermonuclear war? How about the whole Y2K thing? Truth is though, this world is coming to an end. At least, this world as we know it. No, I'm not saying that it's happening in the next few months, although it could. I'm just saying that all you see is setting the stage for the final act. Maybe it's a year, 10 years, 50 years, maybe more, maybe less, but there is coming a day when Jesus will step in and change everything.

What I find so puzzling about times like this is that Christians so often go into freak-out mode when they feel the end is near. They become overwhelmed with fear of what is to come. For the believer, however, the end is actually a wonderful thing. Scripture tells us that when we see all these things happening to look up for our redemption is almost here. Jesus said, I'm going to prepare a place for you and there is coming a day when I'll come back to get you. At times like these, it is important for the believer to live like they believe that. Whether we are close to the end or its still decades away.

If nothing else, we have an awesome opportunity to bring in the harvest by utilizing the times and our assurance of our future as a launching pad to share the gospel. Trust me, people all around you are concerned about everything that is going on. If we as believers walk around in fear, we'll have very little ability to make an impact in the lives of others. However, if we have confidence and assurance in our Savior to do exactly what He said He'll do, then we'll be primed and ready to share that hope with others.

One more thing, Jesus also said it's very important that we not allow ourselves to get weighed down by pleasure seeking and the cares of this life or we won't be ready for that day of His return. It is important that we press into the things of God now more than ever. This is not a time for shrinking back, but for turning up the intensity in our walk with God.

The end is coming. It may be this year, or 50 years from now, but for the believer the only thing that should mean is that we are determined to be about our Father's business. But, then again, isn't that the way we are always suppose to live?