Novum Mandatum

Good Friday, April 19, 2019

Last night is referred to as Maundy Thursday. It is not the product of an inebriated priest confused between Monday and Thursday. Rather maundy is an Old English word, an adaptation of mandatum from the Vulgate – the Latin translation of the Bible. And the words novum mandatum are found in John 13:34, at the conclusion of the Last Supper – Thursday evening.

A new commandment (novum mandatum) I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34 ESV

Maundy refers to the new mandate – that we love one another as Jesus loved us. John shares that the Lord of lords and King of kings was lovingly washing the filthy feet of men who would deny and betray him. Stripped down like a slave, the Lord served others. Peter pridefully rejected the Lord’s act of service to him, then demanded a bath. Jesus patiently loved him.

In humility, Jesus serves and loves. He establishes his kingdom in sacrificial humility. He is not an egocentric, power-grabbing, ivory tower ruler. He need not prove anything or win anyone’s approval. He is a servant, a sacrificial lover, a benevolent King, willing to give all for the well being of others souls.

What does it mean for you and I to embrace this mandate? Tonight we mark the remembrance of His crucifixion. He died for you and me. How can I not love this One who loved me so while loving those around me? Will I humbly serve, give, labor and love for the well being of others? That’s the mandate – that’s the mark of Christ. May we keep it, hold it, and live it with joy today and every day.   

The Cost of Darkness

Thursday, April 18, 2019 – Holy Week

Do you desire fellowship or darkness? To be known and loved or hidden behind the lies?

“If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:6-7

John is not setting the expectation of sinless perfection. He is also not suggesting we wallow and enjoy sin. The former is unachievable in this mortal flesh and the latter is death by fleshly satisfactions. The deeper call is to be real, broken human beings. He is inviting us to trust in the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin. He invites us into the light as broken, sinful human beings.

What is the cost of living in darkness?

1.  Darkness is a choice to live a life of pretense – a lie. It is a choice to live falsely before God and others.  To hide my brokenness in the shadows is to pretend I am something I’m not. This costs me my humanity and a lot of energy to keep up the facade, the mask. It is truly a deadly choice to depend on my goodness, my ‘performance’ rather than His grace! It is a risk to surrender to love, but to forsake pretense and walk in the light is a step toward embracing abundant life.

2. Darkness costs connection. It is to live distant and disconnected from God and others – to forfeit relationships bathed in loving truth, compassion and acceptance. The truth is we only enjoy real relationships when we show up real — broken, repentant, and loved, not as pretentiously pious performers. The darkness, deception and pretense cost me connection with God and with you.

I choose to let go of “appearances” (and the press clippings I might like to believe) and pursue real life giving relationships. This means I show up broken, weak and radically dependent upon the unconditional grace and love of Jesus Christ.  The Apostle Paul said:

I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses … For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2Corinthians 12:9-10

The reward is knowing Christ and the power and love of God! Will you risk walking in the light, being known and embracing real relationships?

The light and love of God changes everything – let’s walk in it together.

Expectations

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Each day I rise with expectations, you do too. I expect to make a difference, to help others, to love and receive love, to accept and be accepted, to be kind and compassionate. I expect to make it through the day alive and joyful. What are your expectations?

This week began with the remembrance of Jesus’ “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem, the beginning of Holy Week, the week in which He dies. That was not what His friends expected. Rarely do we expect death – and we certainly do not invite it.

In Matthew 16:16, Peter makes an honest confession of who Jesus is:

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am? Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”                   Matthew 16:15-16

Peter in essence says, YOU ROCK! I’m all in Jesus! He proclaims the truth that Jesus acknowledges is the foundation of our life and His church.

Then a few moments later, Jesus predicts His death. Peter says shut up, never. He contradicts Jesus Christ and receives a strong reply from the Lord.

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”       Matthew 16:21-23

It is mind boggling how quickly Peter moved from getting it right to getting it terribly wrong. From walking in step with Christ to arguing with Him, certain his way was right.

Peter had expectations of Jesus, and none of them included His death. When Jesus signaled that He would not meet Peter’s expectations, Peter got in Jesus’ face. Peter was so confident of his expectations of Jesus. His confidence was not guided by truth, but by his misguided expectations. His desire, though kind and well intentioned, would have derailed the work of the cross, salvation, and eternal life.

It may have seemed noble and good to defend Jesus’ life, but Peter’s expectations were flawed. Jesus in essence says they are horribly wrong, even satanic.

What are your expectations? Are they guided by His truth? Are you open to different, even better outcomes? Will you let go of your expectations of others? Will you open up to receiving something better than you expected? In this moment, every moment, God has goodness and blessings for you – even if they are not what you expect.

 

Sobering Weightiness

Monday, April 15, 2019 – Holy Week

There are some events in life that are significantly weightier than others. A birth, an execution, a wedding, and a funeral come to my mind. These are events that profoundly impact our hearts, minds and souls.

Peter recounts the circumstances of Holy Week this way in Acts:

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. Acts 2:22-24

What Peter describes is a premeditated murder, an execution. An innocent man put to death by lawless men. He describes a funeral, God laying to rest the sins of the world and putting death to death, once for all. And a new birth, because the death that could not hold Jesus was overcome by His resurrection power – power that calls us to new life in Christ. And the story goes on to point to a wedding invitation. Because of what God has done in Jesus Christ, we, as the church, are called the bride of Christ and are invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb.

An execution, funeral, birth and wedding are not everyday or even every week occurrences. But all this came to fruition in the events of one week. That weight this Holy Week 2000 years ago is sobering. And the beauty of it – dare I call it beautiful – is that this happened according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, for our good and His glory.

Consider today the sobering weightiness of the Holy Week in His-story and how it has impacted your story. Take time to talk with God and meditate on the profundity it – and maybe let yourself give thanks and praise to God as you consider what He has done for you.

Fully Known

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3

Do you ever feel completely misunderstood? Not just with something you said or specific actions, but entirely mis-taken as a person? As if people around you don’t truly know your intentions, your desires, or even your likes and dislikes; like they don’t really know your heart? If your answer is yes… you’re not alone.

I think more often than we like to admit, we feel so utterly out of touch with the people around us. It’s like ‘they know me, but they don’t fully KNOW me.’ What would people say if they could see my daily thoughts, the inner workings of my mind? What would they think if they fully knew my heart?  Maybe, just maybe, they’d love me anyways. But our human tendencies, amid Satan creeping in, tell us we should probably just keep it (whatever it may be) to ourselves.

That’s where the ridiculous awesomeness of our God comes in. And yes, it is ridiculous. He not only sees you, but He truly knows the deepest parts of who you are. He knows what you’ve thought, said and done (insert shocked face here). YET, He loves you just the same. God’s love for you is unwavering, unconditional and never ceasing. He knows each and every day you’ve had and all the days that are still to come. He knows, like with Peter, that you will in some way deny him again. Still, He loves you. Not only does He love you, but He calls you his child — His beloved. How encouraging is that?!

What if we aimed to show that sort of love to those around us (and to ourself)? I think we, as Believers, could cause a chain reaction in our communities by seeking that type of deep connection. Jesus called us to be like him, like God, and to love each other so the world will know we are His. If we start to live from a place that we are fully known and loved by our God, how much more will that trickle into our everyday lives with the people around us? And how might that intensely impact someone near you who doesn’t fully grasp the concept of God’s love? Seeking to truly know and love those around us despite their wrongdoings and flaws (much like our own) can be life changing to them, and you — and me.

I challenge you (as well as myself) to dive deeper into connection with people — especially those we call sisters and brothers in Christ. Connect on a heart level. Take on each day with the life-giving thought that God fully knows and so deeply loves you, every part of you, that He gave His only child that He might one day spend eternity with you.

Go read Romans 8 if you want an extra dose of “wow, Jesus loves me!” And imagine how revitalizing it would be if we tried to meet each other with even an ounce of that type of love.

What Matters Most

Friday, April 12

But the greatest of these is …

The most important is …

All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but …

What matters most to you? In this moment, this day, what really matters?

Take a minute to consider what matters to you, today.

Leave a comment below if you are willing to share.

Busyness

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Are you busy? Why? Sometimes my busyness is the result of multiple opportunities to make an impact. When I am busy in a healthy way, I sense a peaceful fulfillment from using God’s gifts in me to make a difference. I sense His presence and pleasure. And at the end of those days, I rest well. That’s a healthy busy.

But busyness can be unhealthy and detrimental, too. Remember the story of the storm?

A great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. He (Jesus) was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher! Don’t you care that we’re going to die? ”

He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still! ” The wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Then he said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith? ” Mark 4:37-40

Sometimes my busyness helps me hide. Busyness keeps me from facing my fears, leaning into my deep desires and living faithfully in Christ. At times, busyness is a tool employed to avoid contemplating the state of our heart, mind, soul and strength.

Jesus knew how to rest and be busy. He practiced the art of trusting in the Father— whether feeding thousands after a full day teaching or resting amidst a storm. His heart and mind were convinced of the Father’s purpose and care for Him.

The disciples in this story are busy bailing, fearfully and frantically avoiding death — so they think. Without a minute’s hesitation for contemplation, they fitfully wake Jesus from his sleep and accuse him of a lack of care. Busy bodies blaming Jesus.

On one level it seems prudent, logical and necessary to wake up Jesus – help us bail dude! But Jesus doesn’t commend their sense of urgency and busyness; He says their fearful actions indicate a lack of faith. Had they taken even a moment to consider who was in the boat? Had they taken so much as a minute to look at their fear and ask ‘what’s really going on within me right now?’ No. And Jesus said that is faithless.

Busyness (that they clearly justified), and their reactionary response to their circumstances, had blocked them from contemplating the deeper matters before them. Who is in my boat? What is it I fear? Why? What is the deep and holy longing I truly desire?

These are hard questions, and busyness offers a dodge. But they are essential questions we must ask ourselves. In answering them, we are hopefully led to more self-awareness, growth in faith, and most importantly knowing the Man in our boat — Jesus.