Archive for March, 2010

The Calm Before The Storm

The Discipline of SilenceWednesday is a day of silence in the final week in the life of Jesus. There is no biblical reference to any activity on the part of Jesus or the disciples.

We can only assume what might have gone on that day. Did Jesus spend time alone in prayer as was his custom? Did he enjoy the closeness and fellowship of friends?

Whatever Jesus did, that Wednesday was the calm before the storm. In a few hours he would be facing arrest, trials, beatings and ultimately crucifixion.

Most of us find silence difficult.

We try to fill the emptiness of our hearts with noise and busyness. Noise keeps us from focusing on those things we don’t want to think about.

“Silence is frightening because it strips us as nothing else does, throwing us upon the stark realities of our life.” – Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines

But this is a silent Wednesday. Here we learn the discipline of quieting every voice, including our own inner voice as well as outer voices, so we can hear God.

If the mission of Jesus were marked with times of silence, we too need this habit.

Why should we practice the habit of silence?

  • To follow the example of Jesus
  • To better hear God’s voice
  • To regain spiritual perspective
  • To affirm God’s will
  • To prepare for difficult times
  • To help withstand trials

Give the discipline of silence a try.

Grace and Peace,
Terry

Related Posts from 7 Days Leading Up To Easter

    1. Sunday – What Kind Of Entry Was It?
    2. Monday – 12 Things Children Can Teach Us This Easter
    3. Tuesday – Seeing The Unnoticed
    4. Wednesday – The Calm Before The Storm
    5. Thursday – How Washing The Disciple’s Feet Pictures The Incarnation
    6. Friday – It’s Friday But . . .
    7. Saturday – Between The Cross And The Empty Tomb

      Seeing The Unnoticed

      The final day of Jesus’ public ministry was on Tuesday of that last week. It was a long day of confrontation, controversy and rejection. Mark records the stories of this day starting in Mark 11:20 and continuing through Mark 14:9.

      Let’s look at one of those stories told by Mark – a widow Jesus observed giving her offering in the temple courts.

      We are not going to talk about the offering. We are not going to consider the men who made a big show of their gifts or even the woman who quietly gave out of her poverty.

      I want us to consider Jesus and how he noticed the unnoticed. I think we can learn a lot about the mission he sends us on from his example.

      Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

      Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44 NIV

      Do you take time to notice?

      It does not seem that the widow gave her offering to be noticed in contrast to those who made their giving a big show, but Jesus saw her in her quietness.

      Sometimes we are distracted by the loud, boisterous show of some while neglecting to see the quiet ones around us. Sometimes we’re just too consumed by our own agenda to notice.

      Wasn’t Jesus always noticing those around him; the city of Jerusalem, the widow, a friend who denied him, a thief on a cross next to his? He sets the example for us to keep our eyes open.

      Take some time today to notice those around you.

      Grace and Peace,
      Terry

      Related Posts from 7 Days Leading Up To Easter

        1. Sunday – What Kind Of Entry Was It?
        2. Monday – 12 Things Children Can Teach Us This Easter
        3. Tuesday – Seeing The Unnoticed
        4. Wednesday – The Calm Before The Storm
        5. Thursday – How Washing The Disciple’s Feet Pictures The Incarnation
        6. Friday – It’s Friday But . . .
        7. Saturday – Between The Cross And The Empty Tomb

          12 Things Children Can Teach Us This Easter

          RejoiceOn Tuesday of what is commonly called “Holy Week” or “Passion Week” we find Jesus in the temple area. Mark 11:11 tells us that on Monday Jesus observed the activity at the temple, returned to Bethany to spend the night and came back to the temple the next day. The stories of Matthew 21:12-17; Mark 11:12-19; Luke 19:45-48 record Jesus driving money changers out of the temple, healing the lame at the temple, and responding to critics of children who were praising him.

          The children were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” The scribes and chief priests were upset about this and challenged Jesus about it. He responded by quoting Psalm 8:2.

          The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

          “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
          “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,

          ” ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?” – Matthew 21:14-16 NIV

          Learn from the children.

          Here are 12 things we can learn as we watch children this Easter. They are some of the natural qualities of young children that Wynn McGregor mentions in The Way of the Child.

          1. openness
          2. trust
          3. energy
          4. wonder
          5. enthusiasm
          6. awe
          7. laughter
          8. creativity
          9. receptivity
          10. curiosity
          11. joy
          12. truthfulness

          Listen to the children this Easter. We might get a little better at being Christ followers if we follow their example.

          Grace and Peace,
          Terry

          Join the Conversation: Of the 12 qualities of young children listed by Wynn McGregor, which one challenges you the most? What keeps you from displaying these qualities?

          Related Posts from 7 Days Leading Up To Easter

            1. Sunday – What Kind Of Entry Was It?
            2. Monday – 12 Things Children Can Teach Us This Easter
            3. Tuesday – Seeing The Unnoticed
            4. Wednesday – The Calm Before The Storm
            5. Thursday – How Washing The Disciple’s Feet Pictures The Incarnation
            6. Friday – It’s Friday But . . .
            7. Saturday – Between The Cross And The Empty Tomb

              What Kind of Entry Was It?

              It’s Sunday in the final week of Jesus’ life leading to the cross and the resurrection. Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey as the admiring crowd hailed him with shouts of “Hosanna – blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” The story recorded in Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-44 and John 12:12-19 is traditionally called the Triumphal Entry.

              Yet when we read the account in Luke we find that we might ask what kind of entry was this, really?

              As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” Luke 19:41-44 NIV

              As Jesus approaches Jerusalem what he sees causes tears to well up inside him and burst forth.  Jesus was sent by the Father to seek and save the lost, to open their eyes to see his grace and love. God, himself, had come to his people. Looking for them. Seeking them. Longing for them to come to him and find his peace. He came to his own but his own did not receive him.

              For whom did these tears fall?

              I don’t believe that Jesus is crying about himself and the fate that awaits him. He is coming as the Prince of Peace, astride his royal donkey. He is coming to the city called peace – and the people will not receive the peace with God that he offers. Jesus wept because the people refuse to accept him and the result will be devestation.

              The question I have been asking myself as I think about this final week is, “What do these passages reveal to me about the mission of the Father and how are we to participate in that mission?”

              Let me ask three questions about this mission:

              1. Are we coming near as Jesus did?

              Are we coming near the city, town, community where God has placed us or are we keeping away from the people who inhabit that place. Are we getting closer to the people who need God’s peace or are we living peacefully behind the walls of our houses (or church buildings)?

              Jesus was able to ride into town on a donkey becasue of the incarnation – God taking on human flesh. He was there to interact with sinful humanity and show them the way to God. Are we incarnating the place where we live?

              2. Do we see the city like Jesus did?

              As Jesus came near Jerusalem – he saw it. He did more than stop for a panoramic view. He studied it and what he saw broke his heart. Are our eyes open? Do we see the hurt, the pain, the loneliness around us? Do we see where God is needed? Are we looking to see where he is working so we can join him?

              3. Are our eyes wet with tears like the eyes of Jesus?

              Jesus cared and desired that the people come to God. Do we? Are we weeping over the city or are we ignoring the inhabitants?

              Let’s spend some time this Easter season drawing near those who need God and really look for where his love and grace are needed. It just might bring a few tears to our eyes.

              Grace and Peace,
              Terry

              Join the Conversation: What keeps us from coming near and seeing the need?

              Related Posts from 7 Days Leading Up To Easter

                1. Sunday – What Kind Of Entry Was It?
                2. Monday – 12 Things Children Can Teach Us This Easter
                3. Tuesday – Seeing The Unnoticed
                4. Wednesday – The Calm Before The Storm
                5. Thursday – How Washing The Disciple’s Feet Pictures The Incarnation
                6. Friday – It’s Friday But . . .
                7. Saturday – Between The Cross And The Empty Tomb

                  7 Days Leading Up To Easter

                  7 Days of Easter

                  I hope you will join me every day next week as we focus on the last week of Jesus’ life leading up to the resurrection.

                  1. Sunday – What Kind Of Entry Was It?
                  2. Monday – 12 Things Children Can Teach Us This Easter
                  3. Tuesday – Seeing The Unnoticed
                  4. Wednesday – The Calm Before The Storm
                  5. Thursday – How Washing The Disciple’s Feet Pictures The Incarnation
                  6. Friday – It’s Friday But . . .
                  7. Saturday – Between The Cross And The Empty Tomb

                  Grace and Peace,
                  Terry

                  Can You Hear Them Singing?

                  I have been singing Kumbayh for a long, long time. Through the years it has been sung as a spiritual by church choirs and around campfires by Boy Scouts. When I was a teenager it was recorded as a folk song by the likes of Peter, Paul and Mary and by Joan Baez. It is sung by Christians and non-Christians alike.

                  What is a Kumbayah?

                  A 2006 news article from the Dallas Morning News (How did ‘Kumbaya’ become a mocking metaphor?) states:

                  Sometime between 1922 and 1931, members of an organization called the Society for the Preservation of Spirituals collected a song from the South Carolina coast. “Come By Yuh,” as they called it, was sung in Gullah, the Creole dialect spoken by the former slaves living on the Sea Islands.

                  It can be translated as “Come by Here” or “Come by My God.”

                  Get your coffee ready to watch the video, Khumbaya. It is by the Soweto Gospel Choir from South Africa.

                  Can you hear them singing?

                  In recent days Kumbayh has fallen into derision, satire and ridicule but I think it’s a good choice for those who choose to live a missional lifestyle.

                  You see, the song’s about people crying, singing, and calling out for God to come help them.

                  Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him. – Mark 5:22-24 (NIV)

                  Grace and Peace,
                  Terry

                  Join the Conversation: In what ways can the lyrics of Kumbayh help us focus on the task of taking the Good News to people?