Archive for the ‘May 2012’ Category

The King’s table

After Jonathan died in battle, King David wanted to show kindness to anyone still alive in his family. He found Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth. (I actually spelled that right from memory!)

And from that time on, Mephibosheth ate regularly at David’s table, like one of the king’s own sons. (2 Sam. 9:11) All that Mephibosheth had going for him was the fact that Jonathan’s blood ran through his veins. Just like all that we have is the truth of Jesus’ blood in us.

And Mephibosheth, who was crippled in both feet, lived in Jerusalem and ate regularly at the king’s table. (v. 13) He was crippled as a child, broken like you and I have been. Yet he was brought to the king’s table because of Jonathan, like we are carried to the King’s table because of Jesus. And now we live like God’s own son, his own daughter, and we can call the King our Father.

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and so he served

Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet… John 13:3-5

This passage is so ironic. Today I read it as, Jesus knew he was the King of kings, and so he served.

Usually men will try to prove themselves by taking the seat of honor. Even men who are not kings are determined to live like one. But Jesus, who deserved the highest place of honor, got up from the table and knelt to serve those beneath him.

In Christianity, to serve is to live like a king. Heaven had no room for us until Jesus got up from his table to bring us in. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.

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We only realize our need when we come to the end of ourselves. Usually we live somewhere near the edge. The closer we come, the more careful our steps. In moments of bliss we wonder what it would be like to jump from the edge into who we’ve never been. Into the unknown where we have no control. Whether it means freedom or death, we wish we could tell, so we wouldn’t live so close to the edge while life escapes our experience.

So we stand at the edge. To go back to who we’ve been means the death of who we could become. To go forward into who we could become means the death of who we’ve been. We exist in a state of tension, scared to death of death. The way behind and the way before are opposite directions, yet seem to lead to the same destination.

If we are sure of one thing, it’s that we need saving. Though we live, we do not embody the source of life. The life we have is bound to be lost as long as we live to preserve it. Our days slip through our fingers like water down the drain. We save it only when we give it away.

All who are alive exist, but not all who are alive really live. Those who live are alive by God’s Spirit. Those who die exist apart from him. He is the only way to live.

So stand at the edge of who you’ve been and let your heart melt like wax in your chest. Close your eyes and count every breath. Lose yourself till there’s nothing left. Then run and jump like there is no end. Run like your life depends on it. And let your last words be that Jesus saves. Prove that you’d give everything up and stake your life on his love, and see if he will not lift you up. See if you will not soar on the wings of an eagle once you’ve given up control. See if he will not accept your offering and overflow the depths of your empty soul.

We are desperate for God’s Spirit, and every day we feel it. Every day we make a choice to be who we’ve been, or to step out into who we’ve yet to become. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit (Gal. 5:25), pray continually (1 Thess. 5:17), seek wholeheartedly (Matt. 7:7), delight in the Lord (Ps. 37:4) invest in heaven (Matt. 6:20), and abide in him to live (John 15:4). Life is not always what it seems, and sometimes the end is only the beginning.

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A thousand places

Imagine walking by a painting of Paris day by day, year by year, as it hangs on your wall. No matter the passing time the colors stay the same. The people don’t have birthdays. The seasons do not change. All you see is one timeless moment. Sometimes you pass by it, heavy with the weight of the world, and you imagine yourself walking right through the paint. You stroll carefree along the cobblestone streets, among the people with no faces or names.

On Wednesday, May 9, I walked into this hypothetical painting of Paris, my mental picture of Boston, and I won’t think of it the same way again. I walked through the narrow streets. I talked to a man named Timmy. I breathed the humid air. And I found Jesus there.

Now when I look at my picture of Boston I see him everywhere. He is telling the girl on the street that he knows her name. He’s the shoulder she rests on going home on the train. He is filling the hearts of his saints while they praise. He is holding their hands in the circles where they pray.

Worship was everywhere we went. From the North End at sunset to the Boston ballet. Church was wherever we met. From the alleys where we bowed our heads to the Sunday hotel services. Jesus was in a thousand places.

The Most High doesn’t live in temples made by human hands. As the prophet says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that?’ asks the LORD. ‘Could you build me such a resting place?’
(Acts 7:48-49)

We cannot build him a place great enough to dwell, yet in our hearts he builds a temple. ‘Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you?’(1 Cor. 6:19) He works not with silver or gold, but by his own imperishable blood. He labors in secret and silence, where thieves cannot steal, where enemies cannot break in. Those who believe will yet see. Without from within, he is building. He is building his church in Boston, and in our hearts he is building his home.

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There’s something simply beautiful about the word grace. It feels carefree. Like breathing a huge sigh of relief. Like smiling after it’s been a while. It feels like release.

Grace is the way Jesus says my name, though I’ve hurt him in every way. Grace is the way I call you my friend, though you’ve hurt me time and time again. Though you’ve taken away what you cannot repay, I will remember Grace.

Grace does not tell of the tears he has cried. Grace prefers mercy over sacrifice. Grace waits and prays while others repay. Grace smiles upon my face, as if I never turned away.

My friend, Jesus is your Judge – not I, and he will restore all things in time. He will repay what you’ve taken away, and he will help you change your ways. He can pay your debts and make up for your regrets. What you can’t give back, he already has.

Whatever you owed me, I release you so I too can be free. I forgive you like I have been forgiven – seven times seventy times, unconditionally. I give the same grace I need. Giving grace is worth more to me than what you could repay. What was lost, I count as gain. Grace is my smile at the thought of your face. And Grace is the way I still say your name.

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