Life-of-Jesus-Holy-Week-Timeline

Holy Week and Communion

Continuing our conversation around celebrating the last week Jesus spent on the earth and today we come to Jesus and the Disciples preparing and participating in the Passover Meal. This is such a precious time in scripture and I want to focus on communion found in Matthew 26:17-30.

Many churches and have different theologies on the Lord’s Supper. Some believe it to be a literal presence, and others believe it’s simply a representation of something that happened and we do communion to simply remember the event. I want to simply suggest the truth is somewhere in the middle of these two latitudes. It’s more than just a thing we remember and its less than something that actually becomes real flesh and blood. Most churches would consider communion a sacrament. This sacrament possesses a sacred character and significance that goes beyond human reason. In the sacrament we understand the God is present, and in the sacrament of communion we understand that we meet Jesus in a special way. Communion is defined as the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level… so we actually commune with God and He desires to communicate with us ESPECIALLY in the act of partaking in the Lord’s Supper. He said we need to do eat and drink in communion to take “part” in Him… or some translations say to “abide” in Him.

We don’t have time to discuss what it means to abide in Jesus, but it’s clear that Jesus is saying communion is a place we can find ourselves ONE with Jesus. It’s a place where you will find what you need. If you need peace, you can find it there in communion… do you need healing, a new heart, a new perspective, forgiveness, love, whatever you need you will find it at communion because you are literally communing with the Almighty!

So take communion tonight, before Good Friday and experience the peace and presence of God like never before. As you sense the presence of God, allow the Holy Spirit to speak, heal, love, and bring you into unity with God.

Peace

Busy Is The New Weed

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This is not a post about herb, blunts, Mary Jane (I’m dating myself I know), or cannabis. But follow me here…

“Just Staying Busy”… we have all said this in response to a question about what we have been up to, or how we are doing. “Good, just busy” was something I said all of the time. And it was true. Work, kids, school, church, and some other stuff sprinkled in between my already busy life. I’m busy now too, the truth is no matter how much time I have… normally I’m trying to figure out ways to spend it!

If time were a currency I would have ZERO in my savings account! How about you?

The Parable of the soil hits this nail on the head when Jesus says, “The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.” (Matthew 13:22)

I hate weeds

I waited tables for a couple of years in college and I can remember the first time someone yelled out, “I need some help, I’m in the weeds”. In the restaurant business being “in the weeds” means you are so busy you can’t handle whats coming your way… maybe you were triple sat and with all 3 tables of 6 people each ordering drinks, appetizers, and food at the same time you spend the next hour or so running so hard you don’t know what table is what… and if that happens once and they all get up at the same time, guess what happens if the lobby is full of people waiting… you spend the entire night “in the weeds”. It seems like you would make more money that way, but if you’re so busy you can’t give quality service to your tables, you might work a lot harder and make less money because the people you’re trying to serve well are left with needs unmet, cold food, empty glasses, and their night was ultimately affected by your busyness.

Being on the clock with so little time for things that really matter is like living your life in the weeds.

If you’re too busy and in the weeds of life, you are neglecting things that really matter. You just had a flash of things and people who are affected by the busyness of life right? Relationships take the brunt of our busyness. In fact, you and your wife can both be busy together and still forget what being married and in-love feels like.

Busy is never a synonym for success.

As all relationships are affected by the weeds,  if you desire a relationship with God and life gets too busy, Jesus will likely get put on the back burner. More than likely you pray to Him while you’re in the weeds because deep down you know you can’t go forever like this… but a quick prayer is not what it takes to get out of the weeds.

It takes time to get out of the weeds.

We only get 24 hours a day… a simple prayer won’t work. Change is needed… you will have to find time somewhere in your already busy day. It means you will have to get intentional about making time. Time is your friend, but it can also be your enemy if you let others dictate how you spend it.

If you find yourself in the weeds of life, I challenge you to find some time in your busy life to REST.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” If you want to know God and have a relationship with Him… you have to be still to get to know Him. Any relationship requires time, and a relationship with God is no different.

If you find yourself in the weeds…

Pause

Breath

And Know or Get to Know The God of all creation, Jesus.

You might just find that rest is what you needed all along and the weeds begin to clear up in your life.

Peace

Here’s The Real Problem With Starbucks…

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Christians who make the rest of us look like idiots!!!!

Right now every media outlet is talking about this “group” of Christians upset about a red cup. The Today Show, The Ny Times, you name it and they are talking about it… oh wait they are actually laughing about it!!!!

If you don’t know what the buzz is all about an “evangelist” Joshua Feuerstein went on his popular social media pages and ranted about the fact that Starbucks cups are simply red this year and contain no mention of Christmas. Complaining that they are taking Christ out of Christmas by not including the word on their cups… His only problem to the argument is that Starbucks has NEVER had “Merry Christmas” on their cups! They have had snow flakes, lights, and other non religious symbols on their cups because they are NOT a religious company! For the life of my I can’t imagine why this guy is upset and making christianity and Jesus followers look like idiots.

Look, if you rely on Starbucks to feed your soul with a specific word on a cup, you have bigger problems than not hearing Merry Christmas when you walk in the door. If you think the way to fix the cultural problem in America is by land blasting a company that is secular to the core for their choice of cups that never had a reference to Christ before, you don’t understand the culture or Jesus. This was not his approach, not should it be ours.

And Lastly, tricking others into saying a phrase and or believing what you believe has got to be one of the most arrogant and non gospel driven things you could do. I’m all about speaking truth, it’s what I do all day everyday to the best of my Jesus centered ability… but this Red Cup Christian movement is just another reason why people will like what Jesus stood for , but hate the church and his followers.

Jesus was full of grace and truth… this “so-called” movement is full of neither!

If you are a Christian, please understand follower of Jesus… you are called to be salt and light. The right amount of salt is preserving and flavorful… but TOO MUCH salt kills what you put it on faster and makes it unpalatable, inedible, and ruins ANY chance of someone tasting what once was tasty goodness.

If you are on the outside of the faith and looking in, Please understand that not everyone who has a voice speaks the truth 100% of the time. The sad part of this story is this guy has a lot of good things to say, but on this subject he is missing the mark BIG-TIME. Please don’t let his ignorance on the subject and arrogance because of his many followers block the truth of good news that Jesus could care less if you drink from a blank red cup or a cup shaped like a cross… what He cares about is your soul and how that soul spends eternity. He cares about transforming our hearts into a heart more like His… and He cares about how that new heart of yours and mine effects the world around you with grace and truth, how your new heart and life cares for the poor and broken in this world, and if that new heart is able to plop down in the middle of a place like Starbucks that may not share your values and engage them with the truth in such a way that compels them to follow the truth you speak.

Here’s to hoping the red cup revolution dies a quick death and the people of God love the world like Jesus instead of manipulating the world like some Christians seek to do.

On a side note… I will not be drinking from a plain red cup because I don’t like the burnt brown stuff Starbucks puts in their cups : )-

Peace

Finished Friday

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This morning I have been pondering the 2015 Lenten season being over and that today is Good Friday. I can’t lie, I’m pretty happy Lent is over, I passed on coffee for more than 40 days this Lent, with hopes that it would draw me close to the ONE who gave it all for me. My friend Dustin told me Jesus would not be pleased with my choice of giving up God’s perfect bean… at least it’s Easter and I have something to repent of : )

Then I had this other thought… we know today to be “Good Friday” now, but nobody could envision good coming out of the senseless death of Jesus on that faithful Friday some 2000 years ago. A righteous man murdered simply because he challenged the way religious people lived their lives before God and others. They didn’t like His way of love, so they chose their own way. One of intolerance and violence in the name of “god”. We can all judge the people responsible for the killing of Jesus and think to ourselves, “how could they” especially as we see 2000 years removed the senseless murder for what it was.

However, I choose my own way everyday… I chose my own religious path instead of the one Jesus revealed as loving and truthful far too often and choosing my own way tends to leave a path of destruction behind me. People close to me get hurt, I claim superiority over people I have never met… but mostly I  hurt myself. When I judge others, I become more intolerant. When I hold myself up as the model of perfection, the view I have of myself gets more and more distorted… and the truth of my imperfection that I need to confront gets lost in the fantasy of how I see myself.

Good friday is about a death that ends all death… because of the sacrifice of Jesus, death does not have the final say. If we trust Jesus… eternal life as God intended it to be is ours. But Good Friday goes beyond that. It points to a God who loves you and I in-spite of our imperfections, and allows His truth to illuminate our need for not only saving, but transformation into the people God wants us to be.

May your Friday be full of the awareness that Jesus died for you, and a desire to see yourself In The Truth and begin to be transformed into the man or woman Jesus desires you to be.

Peace

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Lent 2015… Free Your Mind – Worry Much?

Is your mind free of worry? What worry is cluttering your mind occupying space it was never meant to occupy? Find that thing/those things and pray about it. Not sure about prayer, try it and see what happens. Prayer has the power to remove worry from our lives and yet I seem to pray less when I’m in a fit of worry.

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During the Lenten season I’m going to blog about freeing our minds of the clutter and junk that we let occupy some of the most precious space on the human body.

Phil 4:6-7 says,
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

I can remember the first time I read this verse and felt like God showed me my heart in a protective box. I called a bunch of people up and was so excited about finding this in the bible and asked them if they had ever heard of this verse because it was so revolutionary. I later learned that verse 7 about God’s peace beyond all understanding is what guards our hearts and minds was one of the most popular verses in the bible. So many people would quote this in sermons and in conversations about God’s peace I felt foolish for even acting like finding it was such a big deal. But the more I live my own life the more I’m convinced this is still a hidden gem in the bible that many people including Christians need to get deep down into their souls.

Yes we may have heard/read this verse before, but do we actually live it in context of verse 6.

How much do you worry? Does it help you… worry that is. If you are like me it seems like I worry about A LOT. More than I should thats for sure… and simply put, worry causes me to act in ways I normally would not act. I’m worried about the bills, worried about my kids (on so MANY levels!), worried about the church, worried about what people are posting on social media, worried about my families happiness, worried about others, worry, worry, worry.

Let’s be honest, if you can worry about it… I’ve probably done it, and bought the T-Shirt.

But this gem of a verse helps us understand that we not only should avoid worry at all costs… it gives us a way to actually NOT worry.

But, it requires action… “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need”

The action of prayer is required to not be so bogged down by worry. Is your mind free of worry? What worry is cluttering your mind occupying space it was never meant to occupy? Find that thing/those things and pray about it. Not sure about prayer, try it and see what happens. Prayer has the power to remove worry from our lives and yet I seem to pray less when I’m in a fit of worry. Tell God what you need, release the worry, and see how this simple practice impacts your daily lives, your relationships and your communication with God.

Worrying never solved ONE single problem.

In fact it usually creates more problems, more worry, more headache, and more lost space in that precious brain of yours.

So lets commit this lenten season to the freedom of our minds… Stop the insanity of worry that doesn’t solve the problems we see and only creates more. Let’s commit to help each other live lives free of worry!

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

What can I pray with you about so that the worry disappears and freedom comes?
#freeyourmind2015

Peace

Tony

Ferguson and Racism In America

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You can and will find racism in every corner of our nation and this world. It goes both ways, it’s complicated, it’s difficult, and there is NOTHING easy about how this plays out in our current and historical landscape.

Racism is de-humanizing because it assumes someone is better than another. It can be based on color, class, nation, profession… racism is alive and well.

Justice is needed in Ferguson, MO… All around! One act of perceived injustice is not the reason to bring more injustice into the world. Those who advocate for justice seem to be speaking out for Michael Brown, his family, and the black community… much of the outcry I agree with, but where is the outcry for the white/black business owners who are losing their businesses forced to watch years of their hard work going down the drain?

Houses are burning, cars are burning, people’s lives are being destroyed. And yet, some cry out for justice in one area while simply saying violence is not the answer?

Justice Is Needed in Ferguson… All Around!

I get it! People like me get the benefit of the doubt… I’m a white middle class male who has never been harassed at a traffic stop or simply walking down the street. I have a privilege I didn’t earn, all because of the color of my skin… I have no idea what it’s like to be profiled because of my skin color and I sympathize with those who do. I have many friends with a variety of backgrounds, colors, and personal histories. I know their stories and the pain of judgement cast on them based on ONE thing about them or their past that does not define them!

We STILL have a race problem in this country, and followers of Jesus should care that it exists and do everything we can to see this change in our communities. However, siding with ONE segment of the community in this situation is not the answer. Injustice is happening on every side of this situation and we need to be objective in our cry for justice and our concern for others.

I’m asking people to listen and seek to understand all sides. What if Michael Brown was  your son? I can tell you first hand that losing a son is horrible… and I don’t care if you think he did something to deserve the cops attention… death and dying in NEVER something we should celebrate in an 18-year-old. It’s the end of what God calls good. It’s the end of human redemption, and it’s the end of a special community for people like Michael Brown’s parents. I have not read all of the evidence and have little faith in those in power these days to show me all of the evidence anyway, but simply put… no matter the evidence he didn’t deserve to die. Death is final and sometimes final comes to early.

On the other side… what about officer Wilson who by all accounts seems to be a pretty level-headed individual who never shot his gun before this incident? What about his life now, his family… much of the animosity he has received is leveled at him because of racism! Don’t believe me, there are plenty of people in this country who dislike any form of law enforcement and assume all kind of things about them simply because they ride in a police car and wear a uniform. They are profiled by many as being a certain kind of person and that is classic racism! Just ask Ice Cube and NWA about their song “F@$k The Police” or Ice-T’s “Cop Killer”. We have all kinds of negative slang words for police officers including, “PIG” or “The Fuzz”.

Racism is human, it’s not one color’s problem, it’s not one people groups problem… it’s a humanity problem, and it’s been around forever. We are all broken on some level and need Jesus to enter that brokenness ASAP! Even Jesus dealt with racism and classism… He was judged for seeking to end it. The Gospel of Jesus Christ by it’s very nature invades humanity and seeks to end his/her/your/my brokenness.

In the story of the good Samaritan many assume Jesus is saying we should be good to people when they are in need of help… but the story is really told because a racist lawyer in the crowd asked who his neighbor was, and Jesus tells the story to reveal that the neighbor whom the God of the universe asks us to love runs the gamut from the people we know and love easily all the way down to our enemy! The Samaritan was the enemy of the racist lawyer and his fellow Jews and Jesus confronted their racism by declaring that we are called to LOVE everyone, even your enemies… because LOVE wins.

What Is Love… Jesus said it this way in Luke 6:32-36 The Message

31-34 “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.

35-36 “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.”

Whatever side you stand with, make sure you call out the racism on that side and declare like Jesus did that LOVE wins and seek to partner with him to right the wrongs. No matter how warranted we think someone’s anger or frustration, Jesus makes it clear that the gospel stretches beyond that anger and frustration and brings peace. Peace and shalom are needed in Ferguson, they are needed in America, they are needed in the world, they are needed in your backyard… make it happen and be the instrument through which change and peace come!

Christian or not, read this reality of how things are through the lens of Jesus Christ. We are all “outsiders” at some point in our lives… thank God He NEVER sees us that way and is always in pursuit of us seeking to reconcile us back to Jesus ending the spiritual race and class war.

Ephesians 2:11-18

11 Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. 12 In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. 13 But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. 14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. 17 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. 18 Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.

May we all walk in the ONENESS and the true humanity that Jesus desired while declaring from the cross, “It is FINISHED”, ending the hostility once and for all that existed between God and man… ending the hostility that exists between one another! Do you want justice? Do you want peace?

Be a PEACEMAKER!

Last Thing… Ben Watson of the New Orleans Saint’s summed up the situation so well by saying,

“I’M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that’s capable of looking past the outward and seeing what’s truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It’s the Gospel. So, finally, I’M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.”

Read Ben Watson’s entire post here.

Peace

Tony

You’re As Cold As #icebucketchallenge

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All of our social media feeds are crawling with person after person pouring buckets of ice cold water on their heads. Celebrities, normal folks, and even kids are getting in on the gag. It’s the Ice Bucket Challenge deemed to help raised money and awareness for the ALS Foundation. Like you I don’t know a ton about the disease, but one thing has become clear… it’s a life taker. Not just a life killer (that eventually happens) but it’s a stealer of the very life the people who are diagnosed with this disease once knew. Slowly but surely their lives are deteriorating. Limbs eventually become useless and soon the body stops being able to do ANYTHING for itself. Therefore, the life of the person diagnosed is not the only one lost… often family members are forced to take care of their loved ones full time, and this changes everything for many families faced with this disease. Worst than that… it’s heredity!

I’ve seen people complaining about their news feeds being full of this ice bucket madness… why are they upset exactly? If your life is so wrapped up in your own little world and the 3 hours you spend on social media a day is ruined because everyone and their brother is doing this silly little publicity stunt… I say so what and it’s about time you get a little wake up call…

Others are pointing out that ALS foundation uses embryonic stem cells for its research and therefore they become supporters of abortion and we should stop sending them money. I respect that view, but I disagree with their premise. Abortions originally started and continues to this day to be a Eugenic toward minorities and those deemed by the powers that be to be less than worthy… not as a way to collect stem cells. I would even argue as long as abortions are going to remain legal in this country (which I completely disagree with) at least use this tragedy for something good like research that HAS saved people’s lives. In other words, if the last thing we were waiting on in this country to make abortions illegal were the strong pharmaceutical companies wanting stem cell research to continue from the cells of aborted babies, I would then suggest donating to ALS is not such a great idea… but we are light years away from stem cells becoming the reason abortions are still legal in this country. Late term abortions are still legal for crying out loud and that has nothing to do with stem cells. It’s about Eugenics!

If you are sick of the ice bucket challenge, pour some cold water on your own head and take a social media break and get over yourself. The ALS organization has raised 42 Million dollars since the challenge has been given which is only 40 Million MORE than they raised in the same time period last year. WOW, 40 Million will not cure this disease, but the awareness  has been raised (for now) and money is going to a good cause that has been seriously under resourced since the disease has been on the medical communities radar.

Thank you for doing the challenge, donating, or not whining about those who are doing it and killing your news feed with self serving videos of their family having a little fun in the name of raising funds for a good cause.

One last note… I wasn’t sure about doing the challenge myself because I wondered what the ALS community especially those who have it thought about the whole publicity stunt on social media and people doing it just to get their face on Social media sites and not donating the $100… then I read a few blogs and saw this video which helped me understand that raising awareness of something so destructive can NEVER be a bad thing.

Check out this story to see what a family with ALS thinks and struggles with on a day to day basis

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/for-anthony-with-love/133001

Peace