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.

The Direction of Repentence

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…”

Going with the flow and giving into the demands of our flesh may seem easy and may even feel refreshing at times. It takes very little effort for a dead fish to float downstream. But it is not refreshing and certainly not life giving.

The call to repent and turn is a call to refreshing life in Christ. The enemy and the world assert that turning to Christ is dissatisfaction and denial. But God’s invitation is to swim upstream and enjoy His presence and love. True joy and refreshment is found when we risk swimming deeper in Christ’s love and trusting His loving commands and call to holiness are truly where our security and joy are found.

Be intentional today about the direction you go and the source of joy you pursue. Be intentional.

Love Wins

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Do you find it hard to love people different than you? People with different gifts or those you imagine are not believers? What about people that don’t believe just like you? Jesus’ call to us was to love one another as He loved us (John 13:34), and our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31).  It’s a tall order, as we approach Easter, but challenging ourselves to love more like Jesus is good.

What follows makes the point from a different angle. I share this from another blog called JackassTheology. The name may offend, but the thoughts are good.

“It’s easy to see the Spirit of God working in someone who is all about the things you’re all about. But what happens when the Spirit is working outside of the boundaries you carefully maintain?

John Calvin insisted that we ought to learn from and appreciate the insights and skills of everyone around us. This goes for those you admire and those you don’t. It goes for Christians and non-Christians. This is a bit surprising, perhaps, given Calvin’s emphasis on human depravity. But he insists that the knowledge and abilities of human beings—including unbelievers—are gifts they received from the Spirit:

“Whenever we come upon these matters [skill and understanding] in secular writers, let that admirable light of truth shining in them teach us that the mind of man, though fallen and perverted from its wholeness, is nevertheless clothed and ornamented with God’s excellent gifts. If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonor the Spirit of God. For by holding the gifts of the Spirit in slight esteem, we contemn [deride, demean, blaspheme] and reproach the Spirit himself.” John Calvin (1509-1564)

Did you catch that? Not only do we need to acknowledge that everyone—including non-Christians—have “that admirable light of truth shining in them,” but we had better be careful to heed and appreciate their insights lest we blaspheme the Spirit. Jesus told us that anyone who speaks against him will be forgiven, but the unforgivable sin is “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit” (Luke 12:10). There’s debate about what that means, but let’s agree it’s a strong warning. John Calvin isn’t Jesus, but in this passage, he’s connecting the demeaning of another person’s gifts with the unforgivable sin.”

My take away is to meet every person that crosses my path with honor and appreciation for them as an image bearer; though they, like me, are broken and sinful. They may not praise His name or think of Him as I do, they may offend me or just rub me wrong (that’s about me). Yet, how can I not show them compassion and kindness and love? Christ Jesus carried a heavy cross to Golgotha and suffered and died for my sin. And His love won me.

Today, let love win in you and through you.

 

 

Spent for good

Friday, April 5, 2019

Friday. The. Week. Ends. Are you tired? It’s spring break for some, so maybe not. I am spent. Too much travel, too many plates spinning, too many self imposed expectations.  My mind and body are tired.

I wonder how Christ felt with the weight of the world’s sin and His crucifixion just two weeks away. It’s unfathomable to imagine the desolation He was experiencing as a man.

God, You are my God; I eagerly seek YouI thirst for Youmy body faints for You in a land that is dry, desolate, and without waterSo I gaze on You in the sanctuary to see Your strength and Your glory. Psalm 63:1-2

My humanity is painfully obvious to me. My limitations are real. Yet He is with me, so…

My lips will glorify You because Your faithful love is better than life. So I will praise You as long as I live; at Your name, I will lift up my hands. You satisfy me as with rich food; my mouth will praise You with joyful lips. Psalm 63:3-5

In the midst of being beyond my limits, I know He is my satisfaction. The choice is always the water of life or not. God’s satisfying presence or not. Something false, fake – a facade of the fountain of life. That is always the choice – spent or not.

When I think of You as I lie on my bed, I meditate on You during the night watches because You are my helper; I will rejoice in the shadow of Your wings.  I follow close to You; Your right hand holds on to me. Psalm 63:6-8

I cannot hold on to much, yet I know He holds on to me. I rest in the shadow of His wing, I trust and confidently hope in the Lord. He will renew my strength and satisfy me.

Wherever you are, whatever your strength in this moment, He is calling you in to a deeper relationship with Him. In Him there is sustaining life and the joy of His strengthening presence.  Maybe being spent and thirsty for living waters, deep satisfaction, is really for my good.

Whatever your lot, what will you drink of today?

 

 

Real Power

Thursday, April 4, 2019

What is powering you? Is it a desire for success or money? Is it a fear of failure? Is it living up to others expectations? Is it your reputation? Is it the joy of using your gifts? What is it?

So I ask you to make full use of the gift God gave you when I placed my hands on you. Use it well. God’s Spirit doesn’t fill us with fear and cowardice. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self-control. Don’t be ashamed to speak for our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, just because I am in jail for serving him. Use the power that comes from God and join with me in suffering for telling the good news. 2 Timothy 1:6-8 (CEV)

Sometimes we plug into false or inferior sources of power. Like disposable batteries, they work for a time and then are worn out. When we attach ourselves to inferior sources, worldly sources, we live in an illusion and stifle the power of God.

Paul tells young Timothy that God has gifted him with power and love. The power he speaks of is not intellect, athleticism, musical gifting or leadership capabilities. It is not a way with words or persuasive skills. So what is it?

Paul says it is the Spirit’s gift of love and power within him. Jesus said when I go, “I will send you the Spirit who comes from the Father” (John 15:26). Paul tells the Colossians, “the glorious riches of this mystery, is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27).

Our power, our sustaining and motivating power, the power to love, is anchored in the Spirit of God within us. The ALMIGHTY God, the One with all power and might, has taken up residence in our souls. His power is accessible, now. It is a power he delights to give us because his desire is for his children to thrive and impact our realm.

Today, will you trust in His power and love, and the gift of the Spirit within you? Will you risk believing He is with you and delights to work in and through you? Use the gifts he has given you, enjoy His power and love and His glory and let that alone power you.

 

Unleashed

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Years ago we had a beautiful Golden Retriever named Bud. As a puppy I spent hours with him on a leash training him. He learned boundaries and understood my commands. He knew what was expected and was rewarded with lots of ball chasing and treats. He was a great dog and we had fun with him. When Bud grew up, he rarely needed a leash.

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things. For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known. Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”                                                                                 1 Corinthians 13:11-13

As we grow in the grace and love of God, we are unleashed. Unleashed to love and enjoy Him. To mature in His love is to see the kindness, patience, goodness, security, mercy and joy He has for us. By faith, this takes root in us and we grow up in love. We set aside childish rebellion or ungodly desires, seeing more clearly the joyful satisfaction of Christ’s love alone.

I realize I’ve loosely compared us to a dog. My apologies, but if a puppy can grow to welcome the loving commands and joyful presence of his master, maybe we can too. Why would we run from Christ? Why would we leave Him? Why would we chase a squirrel and violate boundaries?  Could anything possibly be more satisfying than the love of God?

Today may we live unleashed in love and enjoy the blessing of our Lord.