Thursday, February 23, 2012


Many of us are inspired when we see a really good race! I am when it’s on two wheels! But for the biggest races, they don’t just let anyone get out on the track! There are all kinds of rules for making sure you are qualified to be on the track! Not the least of these is passing several times of testing you and your equipment to see if you are literally up to speed! It makes perfect sense both for the integrity of the race, and the safety of all involved. (The picture at right is of Filippo Preziosi on a test ride at Spain’s Jerez MotoGP)

So, we should not think it strange that in spiritual matters, the Lord thinks that we, too, should go through times of testing and qualifying before we can be ready to go on the spiritual ‘race.’ In this season of Lent, where we prepare for life’s race, let’s remember that Jesus himself did not escape this process. (see Mark 1:9-15) The first thing that happened after Jesus was baptized into this calling was to be led right into 40 days of testing and trying in the wild. We do not have to consider the tests, trials, and wilderness of life a distraction or journey away from our race, they can be the very training ground, the testing and trying, that qualifies us for the high calling of bringing the light of Christ to the world!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Light Bulb Moment

It’s so frustrating when you’re trying to get a point across, or trying to understand the point someone else is trying to communicate, and the point is just not getting across! And, it’s such a relief when, the point dawns on you (or them!) and it’s like a light turns on! As we read the Gospel of Mark, chapter 9, it seems incredulous to us that even Jesus’ three closest disciples, Peter, James and John, just do not get it! Even when Peter correctly identifies Jesus title as Messiah, he still does not believe Jesus when he says how he’s going to be Messiah. Jesus lays it out plainly- he details his suffering as God’s plan to defeat evil. But they still can’t fathom how this Kingdom can come in such a strange, painful way.
Even when God comes in great light before them on Jesus, their minds are still in the dark!
Is it any different for us today? Unless we can see today’s suffering in light of how Jesus brought life, light, and the kingdom through suffering and overcoming, then we are still in the dark! We have so many ways in which we want to bypass pain, suffering, and persevering, that we also bypass the light and the solution. We bailout faltering banks. We pretend that as a nation we don’t have balance our ‘checkbook’ (this won’t fly for our personal bank accounts!) We want a medication for every pain.
But Jesus didn’t just give us words or political doublespeak or a pill to avoid our pain and suffering- he showed us that we can face the worst pain, suffering, and evil that the world can dish out, and come through alive and well!
As we soon begin this season of Lent, praying and listening to God in these 40 days before celebrating the Easter resurrection life; may we face our Lord and our sufferings fully expecting to overcome!

This blog is inspired by the Gospel reading for this Sunday’s Lectionary passages, Mark 9:2-9, which tells us of Jesus ‘Transfiguration’ a miraculous, revealing appearance of God’s presence, a great light.  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

More Healing

Gracyn DenBesten
Praying for healing. We had prayed for many people for healing. This is one case we will never forget. We had been praying for a young girl, Gracyn DenBesten. At age 9 her heart began to fail. She was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a genetic heart disease. As her condition worsened, the prayer chain sent out emails, calls, and tweets. When her heart finally beat its last, she was connected to a machine to keep her alive, and the search continued for a heart donor. A heart transplant was the only cure. She had a limited window of opportunity to have the surgery done in time. Each day, Gracyn would sing along with Kari Jobe’s song: Healer. We had been praying for some time when the news came: a 15 year-old boy in Miami, Fl had died tragically in an automobile accident, and his heart was being donated. On April 15, 2009, Gracyn received this young boys’ heart.  We all prayed that the surgery would be a success. In June, she returned to her church, First Baptist Church, Orlando, for the first time. We knew her presence was an answer to prayer, a miraculous healing. Gracyn was asked to come on stage and join the praise team as the song which just happened to be in the plan to be sung was her song: Healer. The normally composed congregation wept, I know, I was one of them, as we heard Gracyn sing of her faith in God, her healer, in whom she believed. You can see the video of this: Here are the lyrics: 

Healer (Kari Jobe, 2009 Gateway Create Publishing)
You hold my every moment
You calm my raging sea
You walk with me through fire
and heal all my disease
I trust in You, I trust in You
I believe You're my healer
I believe You are all I need

I believe

This was a physical healing, and it was awesome. But when Jesus reminded us in Mark 1:29-39, his purpose was to tell people the good news about a whole life healed. He wants to heal more than just ailments, though that’s a part of it. He wants us to be whole, in absolutely every way. As I remember how awesome Gracyn’s healing was, I can only try to imagine how awesome the healing is that Jesus plans for us all!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Determined To Win!
Play to win! Seems sort of obvious, but we all want to win! I’m sure the athletes for this Sunday’s Super Bowl, both the NY Giants and the New England Patriots, represent countless hours of training, being coached, practicing, all with the intent of finishing with winning the big game!
Despite all these efforts, even the most trained athlete can be disqualified! There are rules to this game! As I did just a little research, I found that there are literally pages of possible penalties! Some seem a bit obscure to me, but some are really obvious:
WTHR/Ron Stienman
-Show up on the field on time! There’s a 5 yard penalty just for not starting either half on time (so, if Madonna runs over on the half time show, can she get the 5 yard penalty?!)
-Kick the ball, NOT a player! 10 yard penalty for this, and, it applies to your own team as well as the opponents!
-Be a sport! Flagrant unsportsmanlike conduct will not only get you a 15 yard penalty, it will get you disqualified.
How shameful would it be to go to the great lengths all these professionals do to win, and then choose to play in a way that gets you disqualified? Punching the official, dragging a player by the facemask, tripping a player, or any other unsportsmanlike action is just not allowed if you want to stay in the game!
Apostle Paul in his letter to fellow Christians (1 Corinthians 9:24-27) tells them how he plans to win. He trains hard. He stays alert. He lives purposefully, so as not to get disqualified.
We, like Paul, keep our eye on the goal, mindful and respectful of our common victory, so that we will never be distracted and disqualified. We live respecting others. We live with conduct becoming of one who keeps victory in mind!
Sunday’s Super Bowl winner is yet to be determined. But we are determined, and so is our win!