Thursday, April 28, 2011

God is Doing a New Thing. Are We?

God is Doing a New Thing. Are We?
by Tim Beck
New Church Start Team, East Ohio Conference
(originally published in the WINDOW bi-monthly newsletter May-June '11)

One of the most chilling paintings I‟ve laid eyes on was painted by Vincent Van Gogh, the famous 19th Century Dutch post-impressionist painter. The title of the painting is The Church at Auvers and it was painted by memory in 1890, shortly before his untimely death. The painting depicts a church north of Paris. What is haunting about Van Gogh‟s interpretation is that the foreground is lush with green grass and signs of life, but the church is cast in the midst of a dark, looming shadow. The windows are dark and closed and there is no visible door. In his own words, Van Gogh described the church as follows: “it neither reflects nor emanates any light of its own.”

Sadly, this impression of the church is not exclusive to Van Gogh. For many, churches are more haunting than wel- coming; more closed than open; more dark than light. It‟s not that we (the church) don‟t have good intentions. It‟s not that we (the church) intend to shun, but the harsh reality is this: people in America feel less connected with the church building and the church body. We know this because by-and-large mainline denominations have witnessed a steady decline in attendance and membership over the past 10 plus years. The United Methodist Church has had a 7% drop in membership since 2001. That‟s 600,000 people who have left.
This is haunting. But it‟s also nothing we didn‟t already know.

This begs the question: what can we do to reverse such a pattern? I realize I‟m hardly the first person to point out the obvious nor am I the first to ask such a question. None the less, it‟s worth exploring, examining and engaging.

Let‟s face it, while the lights might be on inside the church; while worship and study might be taking place inside the walls, darkness might be perceived to be shadowing the church. We might not see it that way - but to those who have no desire to enter in, how do we suppose they see it? How do we suppose they see us? Kester Brewin, the English author, teacher and church planter refers to those not connected to a faith community as the „Other‟. To the „other‟, church is the same as it always was. Why should they bother?

Maybe what we‟re offering isn‟t fresh enough. Perhaps we‟re missing out on the new things God has in store for us (the church). If we hope for the Gospel to reach the world around us then we have to be concerned with how we are perceived, no matter if the world‟s view is right or wrong. We need a fresh church, a new church. Remember the words of Isaiah “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way...” (Isaiah 43:19). God is doing a new thing, but is the church?

Am I suggesting that we change the Gospel? Absolutely not. I am, however, suggesting that our approach to the ministry of the Gospel might need to be „freshened up.‟ If we the church can tap into a fresh approach, perhaps our shadowed perception might fade away and the light of Christ would shine through.

In what ways could you and your church "freshen up‟?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book Review: Poke the Box

Poke the BoxPoke the Box by Seth Godin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

poke the box. the picture on the cover tells the story found on the pages bound within. from what approach are we looking at life? from what approach are we looking at productivity? Seth Godin compels you to NOT maintain 'status quo' but to 'poke the box' to take risks, be willing to change - all for the sake of sanity and production.

it's not just enough to have good ideas. it's not just enough to dream big. what are dreams if not acted upon? Starting, he says, demands finishing.

this is the kind of book that can be read again and again. repeat as needed. if that's what it takes to get new ideas seen, heard, understood and produced then so be it.

Godin reminds us that we are 'trained to fit in, not to stand out, and the easiest way in the world to fit in is to never initiate.' (page 79) We wait for permission to start... and thus nothing gets started. new ideas remain... just... ideas.

Godin compels the reader to claim self confidence. "it's essential" he writes.

despite the fact that innovation and inspiration are unpredictable, when momentum builds - it breeds new ideas and more productivity and ingenuity.

i am an ideas guy... i've claimed that enough times in my life... but all too often my ideas remain drawings or sketches in notebooks, or words on a blog page. not often enough do they become realities. but the moments when they do... the moments when the juices flow and the momentum comes - it feels great... great to produce something i can be proud of.

this book isn't anything new - but it became a necessary read for me. at the right time. it's time to poke the box... to create and to inspire others.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book Review: One.Life

One.Life: Jesus Calls, We FollowOne.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow by Scot McKnight

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

it really is a simple book. Jesus calls. We follow. that is the message found within One.Life by Scot McKnight. We have one life. what will we do with it? How will we live it?

what i appreciated about this book was how Scot took an honest look at questions... the questions of faith that lead to more questions... which lead to more and more questions.
as the questions arise, McKnight paints a picture that describes kingdom, love, justice, peace, wisdom, the church, commitment, eternity, etc.

God's plan is for our to intersect with those things and McKnight wets the appetite for more. after reading, i want more... i feel compelled to share with others what it looks like to follow Christ... truly follow Christ.

View all my reviews

Monday, April 25, 2011

Book Review: The Story of God, the Story of Us

The Story of God, the Story of Us: Getting Lost & Found in the BibleThe Story of God, the Story of Us: Getting Lost & Found in the Bible by Sean Gladding

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

the Story of God, the Story of Us is really a magnificent telling of a magnificent story. it's storytelling at its best. plain and simple. Sean Gladding has taken the meta-narrative found in the Scriptures and has written that story within the context and probability of how that story was once told, shared and remembered.
the imagery found in this book really is compelling. the Old Testament stories, the stories of God's chosen, the Israelites, their plight, their exodus, their worship and their wandering, told by an old man sitting 'round the campfire was a beautiful image. i connected with this old man reminding the people how and why God has been with them - even while in Exile. in my life, i've generally been drawn to the New Testament stories of Jesus and the church. Gladding helped me connect the dots of the Old Testament. for that, i am grateful.

the NT stories of Jesus are just as compelling. Gladding is a great storyteller. while reading, it was easy to insert myself into the story.

even though it took me months to read, this book was easy on the eyes. i took my time with it... casually reading here and there. every them i picked it up, i was drawn in.

if you want a new, fresh perspective of the story of the Bible - read this book.

View all my reviews

Sunday, April 24, 2011

(lent) 0

Resurrection Day!

nothing can ever be the same again, not after resurrection... choose life! Rescue is here!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

(lent) 1


one love. one life.


One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
One life
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other


one Messiah. one who saves. one who died. one who took my shame.
one sadness. one humiliating day. one sealed rock. one cold, dark cave.

for 40 hours, a figurative shadow spread was cast across the land... the One who was supposed to triumph took the path less traveled.

and the world would never be the same...
but for now, one darkness remained...


Friday, April 22, 2011

(lent) 2


The lowest channel of television in the United States.

number of animals of each kind in Noah's Ark.

in the Jewish tradition, the number of witnesses needed to offer testimony, required to verify and validate events.

number of pencil most commonly used in America.

point conversion. in football, after scoring a touchdown the offensive team may choose to kick the extra point or go for 2.

2.0 = a 'C' average.

2 is better than one. so says Solomon.
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.

You'll Never Walk Alone. emboldened upon the crest of Liverpool FC in England. Two are better than one.
Adam & Eve. Moses & Aaron. Joshua & Caleb. David & Jonathan. Naomi & Esther. Mary & Joseph. Jesus & John (the Baptist). Peter & John. Paul & Silas.

the number of criminals crucified on crosses to the left and right of Jesus. it happened on a Friday. one, stubborn even til his point of death, mocked Christ on the cross. the other cried out.
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[d]

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

from Luke 23

such is life. we can be stubborn or we can cry out. we can mock God or claim His name.

on this dark day, this Good Friday - what will we choose?


44-46By now it was noon. The whole earth became dark, the darkness lasting three hours—a total blackout. The Temple curtain split right down the middle. Jesus called loudly, "Father, I place my life in your hands!" Then he breathed his last.

47When the captain there saw what happened, he honored God: "This man was innocent! A good man, and innocent!"

48-49All who had come around as spectators to watch the show, when they saw what actually happened, were overcome with grief and headed home. Those who knew Jesus well, along with the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a respectful distance and kept vigil.

from Luke 23 (the Message)

innocent yet crucified. Holy yet sin-burdened.

and what do we gain? nothing, if we neglect to claim it.

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

though sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning...

because He didn't stay dead...
but that's another story...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

(lent) 3


the number of Babe Ruth. although, at the start of his career he had no number. at one time players didn't have uniform numbers. It is believed that Ruth was given the number 3 becausae that was his position in the batting line-up. Ruth hit 3rd (and wore the number 3) while Lou Gehrig hit 4th (and wore the number 4).

the first odd prime number.

is the Magic Number. one of the original Schoolhouse Rock songs. covered by the likes of Jeff Buckley, Blind Melon and Jeff Johnson. De La Soul sampled it on their debut album 3 Feet High and Rising.

R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

number of semicircular canals in the human ear.

number of primary hues (red, green, blue) that, when mixed, is perceived to be white light by humans.

atomic number of lithium. also a song title by the 90's grunge group Nirvana with the opening line "I'm so happy 'cause today I found my friends their in my head..."

in Bowling, 3 strikes in a row is called a 'Turkey'

In Ecclesiastes 4:12 Solomon states 'a cord of three strands is not easily broken.'

the make up of the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

chapter and verse in John: where Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again."

born again. more than a song.
born again. dead to sin. new life to live. and life to the full.

how does this happen?

later in John chapter 3 is possibly the most famous passage in the Bible: John 3:16. more than the banner held up in the end zone at football games. more than words. John 3:16 is the pathway to life.

16-18"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. (The Message)

how is one 'born again?' given new life?
1. belief. that Jesus is the One able to grant us this new life. He came to make the world right again... to restore it... to mend it... put it back together. on the middle cross of three, he bled and died - crucified but innocent. our sin, a burden upon His shoulder.

2. trust. in Him. and we are acquitted. found not guilty. our sin... our punishment taken away. our slate wiped clean. trust that He is who He says He is. trust that only He is able to purify us.

belief and trust. sounds so simple. the path to life is marked with a light shining on belief and trust in Him... in Jesus. it's so simple. yet we often make it so difficult. we take other roads... other paths... paths in darkness... roads in disrepair. because we think we know what's best.

but God knows how to fix us... how to fix the world. and we get to play a apart in it... if we choose to believe and if we choose to trust.

belief and trust. it all plays out and comes to a head on the third day... Resurrection day.
to be continued...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

(lent) 4


number of Gospels (according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)

There are four human blood groups (A, B, O, AB).

Virtues, according to Plato: Wisdom, courage, self-control, and justice.

Virtues, according to the Sioux: bravery, fortitude, generosity and wisdom.

Virtues, according to Christianity: prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude.

number of elements: Fire, Air, Water and Earth.

In Tetris, a game named for the Greek word for 4, every shape in the game is formed of 4 blocks each. How many hours of my youth was wasted playing this game...

number of nations of the United Kingdom: England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland.

number of suits of playing cards: hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades.

The Beatles were commonly known as "Fab Four": John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney.

number of corners on a piece of paper.

chapter in John where Jesus reaches out yet again to a marginalized woman at the well. with no concern of his reputation, Jesus, at the noon hour, dares ask a Samaritan woman for a drink of water.
there are so many things wrong with this encounter... this experience.
first, Jews didn't cut through Samaria if they didn't have to. they'd prefer to walk around that region. Jews and Samaritans weren't exactly on friendly terms. as John 4:9 says 'Jews in those days wouldn't be caught dead talking to Samaritans'. at the time, most Jews considered the Samaritans to be dirty and below them. but Jesus takes a shortcut.

second, it was the noon hour. in this desert area, the women didn't draw water at the noon hour, the hottest time of the day. they'd come in the cool of the morning or evening. which begs the question, why would this woman, then, be there, drawing water? Jesus points out why she would be there mid day... in verse 17-18 when Jesus points out her 'loose' way of living... this woman was a prostitute. perhaps shame prevented this woman from coming to draw water when the other women would draw.

third, Jesus allows this lowly woman to serve him. a dirty, unclean, impure Samaritan woman on the fringes of society... in the margins... lost... alone... by herself...

and it's almost as if Jesus takes this shortcut through Samaria just so he could reach out to this lost one. again, like the demon possessed man of the region of the Garasenes... the Good Shepherd leaves the 99 to get the one.

the woman gives Jesus water to quench his thirst... what does Jesus give her? living water.
"Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (vs. 14)

the woman responds by acknowledging her understanding that salvation was coming: “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus spoke, “I am he.”

what happened next? what is the rest of the story?

the woman went and told the townspeople all about her Jesus-encounter.

(vs. 40-42)

So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

just what might happen if we went and told others of our Jesus-encounters?

and if you haven't encountered Him - ask yourself this: are you thirsty? are you satisfied? do you fully understand real love?

think about it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

(lent) 5


second rule. the amount of time food that is dropped on the floor is allowed to be consumed without facing public ridicule.

Bands with "five" in their name include The Jackson 5, Maroon 5, Jump5, Jurassic 5, We Five, Five for Fighting, Zanussi 5, The Click Five, MC5 (short for "Motor City Five"), Ben Folds Five, Five Man Electrical Band, The Five Keys, The Jive Five, The Count Five, The Five Satins, Five Iron Frenzy, Five Finger Death Punch, and The Dave Clark Five.

Johnny 5 - the lead character in the 80's movie Short Circuit, who easily would have won the Oscar for Best Robotic Actor in a leading role, if such a category existed. "Johnny 5 alive!"

number of interlocking rings that make up the Olympic logo, representing the 5 inhabited continents represented in Olympic play.

in baseball, many Hall of Famers and greats have worn the jersey number 5: New York Yankees Joe DiMaggio, Cincinnati Reds Johnny Bench, Kansas City Royals George Brett, Detroit Tigers Hank Greenberg, Cleveland Indians Lou Boudreau and Baltimore Orioles Brooks Robinson.

common number of gears on a standard shift automobile.

The Torah contains five books—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—which are collectively called the Five Books of Moses, the Pentateuch (Greek for "five containers," referring to the scroll cases in which the books were kept).

The book of Psalms is arranged into five books, paralleling the Five Books of Moses.

the 5th Amendment permits a defendant from having to give 'self-incriminating' information, also known as 'pleading the 5th'.

chapter in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus makes a special trip to the region of the Gerasenes. upon arrival he and the disciples encounter a demon possessed man living among the dead - in the tombs. the man fell to his knees at the foot of Christ and acknowledged His power.

"What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?"

Jesus took time to speak with the man - eventually casting the demons within him into a herd of pigs nearby. the two thousand pigs then ran wildly over a cliff, into the sea and drowned.

the towns-people were not happy to see what had happened to the pigs and they were surprised to see the man, now dressed and in his right mind. and they were terrified. the people were not happy with what Jesus has done and so Jesus and his crew got back in their boats and left.

The once-demon-possessed man, now freed from that bondage, begged to go with Jesus - but Jesus gave him other instructions:

“Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. (vs. 19-20)

such a compelling story at so many levels. in some senses it reminds me of the Good Shepherd leaving the 99 sheep to go after that lost one. Here, Jesus goes after the one... the lost one... the abandoned one... the hopeless one. overcome by evil, the man can not save himself, yet the second Jesus appears on the scene, he runs to him and cries out.

at no other time in scripture do we read about Jesus going to this region and based on the towns-people's response, i doubt he would have been welcomed back. so in essence, Jesus went to the region of the Garasenes for one man... to save one man. to heal one man.

how inspiring is that? Leaving the 99 to rescue the lost one. that's the Jesus i cling to. can you fully grab ahold of that? what love the Savior has for us - no matter how far we wander - he pursues us, wanting to rescue us. do we run from him or do we hear His voice - the good Shepherd - and do we run towards Him?

lastly, i find it interesting that Jesus doesn't let the man come with him and the disciples... instead - he empowers him to go and be a disciple... or an evangelist, perhaps. a missionary in his home region... to go and tell the people of his new freedom. to tell his people of the mercy and grace of God, found in Christ Jesus, the Savior of the world.

and how did the people respond?

and all the people were amazed.

had the man gone with Jesus, who would have preached to the Garasene people? to go with Jesus would have been the safe bet - but Jesus compels the man to do greater things... to risk it all and to share the love of God with others.

and the man obeyed.

see what can happen when we embrace God's grace and mercy? see what can happen when we obey?

what a compelling story. one of my favorites...

Monday, April 18, 2011

(lent) 6


the name of Blossom's best friend on the late 80's early 90's tv sitcom Blossom.

number of strings on a standard guitar.

number of basic holes or keys on most woodwind instruments.

Flags. an American theme park chain.

Degrees of Separation - refers to the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away from any other person on Earth.

Degrees of Kevin Bacon, a trivia game in which a player tries to connect any one actor to Kevin Bacon within six steps. It rests on the assumption that any individual can be linked through his or her film roles to actor Kevin Bacon within six steps.

days at the bottom of the ocean. a powerful song by instrumental post-rock band Explosions in the Sky from Texas, U.S.A. the song was written about the Kursk tragedy, a Russian submarine that sunk to the bottom of the sea after a dummy torpedo misfired due to a hydrogen peroxide leak. The submarine spent six days at the bottom before rescuers arrived, delayed by Russian refusal of help. Twenty-three men survived the two blasts but the delayed rescue took away any slim chance they had at survival.
you can listen to the moving song here.

number of points awarded for scoring a touchdown in football.

'the original six' refers to the oldest remaining teams in the NHL: Toronto, Chicago, New York, Montreal, Detroit and Boston.

number of fingers on the characters on the Simpsons. three fingers on each hand (plsu one thumb on each)

number of dots on a Braille cell.

Days of creation.

Day 1: The heavens, the earth, light and darkness.

Day 2: Heaven

Day 3: Dry land, the seas, and vegetation.

Day 4: The sun, the moon and the stars.

Day 5: Living creatures in the water, birds in the air.

Day 6: Land animals and people.

The number of symbolic foods of the Passover Seder meal.

it was six days before the passover meal that Jesus reclined with the newly raised-from-the-dead Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha and the disciples. In John 12, we see an example of high honor as Mary anointed Jesus with expensive perfume. Judas Iscariot takes issue with this, thinking the perfume could be sold and the money given to the poor.
But Jesus recognizes the importance of Mary's sacrifice and honor. I've always looked at this as Jesus showing that our relationship with Him trumps everything. our love for Him should be our number one priority.
it is then from that love for Him that we are compelled to be like Him... serving, sharing the Gospel, loving others and believing.
what makes this extra special is the symbolism that in six days he'd be facing his ultimate challenge - the Cross. Mary's choice to anoint him most honorable and respectable.

how can we honor Jesus today?

do we recognize that rescue is coming? do we realize that hope can be found?

we can't make it alone...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

(lent) 7


the lucky number.

On the seven-segment displays of pocket calculators and digital watches, 7 is the number with the most common glyph variation (0, 6 and 9 also have variant glyphs).

Wonders of the Ancient World. Great Pyramid of Giza, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria

sides to the 50 pence coin in England.

Up - a carbonated citrus beverage (only useful for days when the kids are home from school sick)

-Eleven. a convenience store chain once opened from 7am-11pm every day, until becoming a 24 hour store (which begs the question, if they are open 24 hours, do the doors have locks?) 7-Eleven is the worlds largest franchise, with 39,000 stores. On a per-capita basis, Norway has one 7-11 for every 47,000 Norwegians.

number of dwarfs with Snow White.

movie title of the 1995 film directed by David Fincher. Se7en starred Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt and Gweneth Paltrow. this hauntingly chilling tail of a Detroit serial killer has one disturbing plot twist after another.

The figurative number of seas.

7th Heaven, a TV show about a family of seven, with the father serving as a Pastor. When the show debuted in 1996, I was enrolled in a Los Angeles Film School. Jessica Biel, one of the stars of the show, lived in my apartment building. My roommate and I ran in to her a few times. She was 14 or 15. Then she became famous.

the name George Costanza desires to give his first-born. (see episode titled The Seven)

a strong Biblical number:
~on the 7th day of Creation, God rested, creating the Sabbath... a Holy day of rest.
~Seven days of the feast of Passover
~Seven year cycle around the years of Jubilee
~Jericho's walls fall on the seventh day after seven priests with seven trumpets march around the city seven times
~Seven things that are detestable to the LORD (Proverbs 6:16–19)
16 There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19 a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
~Seven loaves multiplied into seven baskets of surplus (Matthew 15:32–37)
~Peter asked Jesus if he should forgive those who sinned against him up to 7 times; Jesus responded by saying to forgive them 'seventy times seven times'

number of sayings spoken from the mouth of Christ, while hanging on the cross.
1) Jesus Speaks to the Father
Luke 23:34
Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

In the midst of his excruciating suffering, the heart of Jesus was focused on others rather than himself. Here we see the nature of his love—unconditional and divine.

2) Jesus Speaks to the Criminal on the Cross
Luke 23:43
"I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

One of the criminals who was crucified with Christ, had recognized who Jesus was and expressed faith in him as Savior. Here we see grace poured out through faith, as Jesus assured the dying man of his forgiveness and eternal salvation.

3) Jesus Speaks to Mary and John
John 19:26-27
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother."

Jesus, looking down from the cross, was still filled with the concerns of a son for the earthly needs of his mother. None of his brothers were there to care for her, so he gave this task to the Apostle John. Here we clearly see Christ's humanity.

4) Jesus Cries Out to the Father
Matthew 27:46 (also Mark 15:34)
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

In the darkest hours of his suffering, Jesus cried out the opening words of Psalm 22. And although much has been suggested regarding the meaning of this phrase, it was quite apparent the agony Christ felt as he expressed separation from God. Here we see the Father turning way from the Son as Jesus bore the full weight of our sin.

5) Jesus is Thirsty
John 19:28
Jesus knew that everything was now finished, and to fulfill the Scriptures he said, "I am thirsty."

Jesus refused the initial drink of vinegar, gall and myrrh (Matthew 27:34 and Mark 15:23) offered to alleviate his suffering. But here, several hours later, we see Jesus fulfilling the messianic prophecy found in Psalm 69:21
6) It is Finished
John 19:30
... he said, "It is finished!"

Jesus knew he was suffering the crucifixion for a purpose. Earlier he had said in John 10:18 of his life, "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." These three words were packed with meaning, for what was finished here was not only Christ's earthly life, not only his suffering and dying, not only the payment for sin and the redemption of the world—but the very reason and purpose he came to earth was finished. His final act of obedience was complete. The Scriptures had been fulfilled.

7) Jesus' Last Words
Luke 23:46
Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Here Jesus closes with the words of Psalm 31:5, speaking to the Father. We see his complete trust in the Father. Jesus entered death in the same way he lived each day of his life, offering up his life as the perfect sacrifice and placing himself in God's hands.

lastly, there were seven places where blood flowed while Jesus suffered and died on the cross for us all... for all humanity. take 4 minutes, watch and listen and give thanks for His sacrifice.

Friday, April 15, 2011

(lent) 8


considered to be lucky in Chinese culture.

number of days of Hanukkah is a Jewish festival holiday.

in March of 1908, The Collinwood School Fire, near Cleveland, Ohio, kills 174.

Crazy Nights. an animated movie by Adam Sandler.

Mile. a infamous road in Detroit. made into a movie starring Emenem.

Seconds. A true life movie of a professional bull rider, starring Luke Perry.

mm (as in mileometer). a motion picture film format in which the film is 8 mm wide.

Super 8 is also a retired film format as well as a plush hotel chain.

Magic 8 Ball. a novelty toy which, when shook, will give you answers to life's toughest questions. Also available: the Answer Me Jesus magic 8 ball.

chapter in Matthew where Jesus speaks of the challenges of following Him.
The Cost of Following Jesus
18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”

20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

count the cost.
pay the price.
following Jesus is not something to be taken lightly.

chapter in John, verse 12 in which Jesus says: "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Following means sacrificing. what will you sacrifice in order to be in the light?

there is no magic solution to get you through the trials of life - but there is a light that never goes out... and in that light is life.

cockroaches scurry and hide when the light hits them. don't run from light. embrace its warmth and let it guide you. trials may come but the light will satisfy the soul, while everything else will leave you wanting and needing more.

embrace the light. embrace life.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

(lent) 9


number of days Ferris Bueller was home from school sick. Mom: "9 times?" Principal Rooney: "9 times!" (video)

number of animals that make up a Chinese dragon.

number of innings in a baseball game.

number on the jersey of the 'splendid splinter' Ted Williams. one of the greatest hitters in major league baseball history. He hit .406 in 1941. no one has matched that average since.

number of Chelsea FC striker Fernando Torres, who was paid a record transfer fee of £50 million earlier this year. in the 2 and a half months since joining the Blues he has yet to score. His lore at Liverpool will be hard to match.

number of the Spiritual Gifts as written by the Apostle Paul (found in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10)
To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
number of the Fruits of the Spirit as written by the Apostle Paul (found in Galatians 5:22-23)

Against such things there is no law.

which one of these is your strongest? which one is your weakest?

God gives us many gifts. The Spirit is a fruit ripening within us. How are these gifts growing within us? How are you reaping what the Spirit is sowing?

let God work in you. take not how Jesus exemplified each of these fruits and gifts. how might we model that today?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

(lent) 10


the atomic number of neon. what would we do without neon? for one, Las Vegas would be a lot less enticing.

number of cents in a dime.

the $10 dollar bill has a picture of Alexander Hamilton on it, a man who was ineligible to be President but was a founding statesman and notoriously lost a duel with then Vice President Aaron Burr, which took Hamilton's life.

a triple-double in basketball consists of three of the following: 10+ points, 10+ assists, 10+ rebounds &/or 10+ blocks.

name of the monumental album by Pearl Jam which helped launch 'grunge music' into the mainstream in 1991-1992.

number, in soccer, typically reserved for the best, most respected player.

interstate highway, which runs across the country, from California to Florida.

in Old Testament / Jewish tradition:
number of plagues.
number of days of repentance (beginning on Rosh Hashanah and ending on Yom Kippur.)
number of martyrs.
number of Lost Tribes of Israel.
number of generations between Adam and Noah.
number of generations between Noah and Abraham.

number of commandments God gave to Moses after the exodus from Egypt.

but Jesus trumped that when he said what some call the Jesus creed, the most important commandment (based on the Shema found in Deuteronomy 6)
28One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: "Which is most important of all the commandments?"

29-31Jesus said, "The first in importance is, 'Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.' And here is the second: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' There is no other commandment that ranks with these."

32-33The religion scholar said, "A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate—that God is one and there is no other. And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that's better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!"

34When Jesus realized how insightful he was, he said, "You're almost there, right on the border of God's kingdom."

After that, no one else dared ask a question.

Mark 12:28-34

Love God. Love People. Love Self.

now prove it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

(lent) 11


was the first manned spacecraft to land on the moon was Apollo 11.

in the mockumentary This is Spinal Tap the amplifiers go up to 11.

number of players, per side in soccer, football and cricket.

day, month and hour in 1918 in which World War I ended. November 11th @ 11 am signaled the official end with an armistice. November 11th (in the U.S.) is now Veterans Day.

day in March 2011 when an earthquake and tsunami decimated Japan.

day in September 2001 when terrorist attacked the United States.

page in the Service Record Book of an enlisted Marine for writing down disciplinary actions.

number of Academy Awards won by the films Ben-Hur, Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

number of faithful disciples. Judas Iscariot betrayed him. Although, technically, 10 of the remaining loyal disciples still deserted Jesus before and during his crucifixion and death. We know that Peter denied him three times, but the others, according to scripture, disappeared, too. Only John stuck around. perhaps that's why he was referred to as 'the one whom Jesus loved.'
because he was there... in Jesus' greatest time of need.
he was there... to witness the agony.
he was there... to comfort Jesus' mother.
he was there... to receive final instructions from Christ - to care for Mary, his mother.
he was there... to hear the seven sayings from the cross.

he was there.

are you willing to take that risk to keep that close to Christ?
be still and reflect.

Monday, April 11, 2011

(lent) 12


literally means 'two left over' or 'two remaining after 10 have been taken.'

the number of items in a dozen. 12 dozen are known as a gross.

number of Olympians, the chief Gods of the pantheon in Greek Mythology.

days of Christmas (not just a song) involves celebrating Christmas for a period of 12 days ending on the eve of epiphany.

number of months in a calendar year.

number of hours in a half day.

in Judaism, the age in which a girl matures.

jersey number of Terry Bradshaw, my childhood football idol, who played quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 1970's and early 80's. he lead the Steelers to 4 Super Bowl victories, winning MVP twice. 'The Blond Bomber' as he was called once held records for the Javelin throw before playing professional football. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.

number of strikes needed for a perfect game in 10 pin bowling.

number of sons had by Jacob.

number of Tribes of Israel.

number of disciples of Jesus.
the twelve included:
Simon (they called him Peter, or "Rock"),
Andrew, his brother,
James, Zebedee's son,
John, his brother,
Matthew, the tax man,
James, son of Alphaeus,
Simon, the Canaanite,
Judas Iscariot (who later turned on him).

in Matthew chapter 10 Jesus gives these disciples a motivational speech... a giant word of instruction and encouragement before they were sent out.
Jesus is asking them to choose life.

vs. 5-8: go to the lost in this very neighborhood - and tell them that the kingdom is here. heal sick. raise the dead. touch the untouchable. live generously.

vs. 9-10: live simple. travel light.

vs. 11: be content.

vs. 12-15: be courteous. gentle in conversation. if you are unwelcome, don't make a scene.

vs. 16: stay alert. be cunning; prepared.

vs. 17-20: don't be naive. you will be slandered because you believe in me. don't get upset. embrace the opportunity to preach kingdom news! don't worry about what you'll say, the Spirit will supply you the words.

vs. 26-27: don't be intimidated. don't hesitate.

vs. 28: don't be bluffed into silence by bullies.

vs. 29-31: remember how much God the Father cares for you.

vs. 32-33: stand up for me against the world and i'll stand up for you before the Father in heaven.

vs. 34-37: don't think i've come to make life cozy!

vs. 38-39: forget about yourself and and look to me. you'll find both yourself and me!

vs. 40-42: start small. serve small. the smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won't lose out on a thing!

you won't lose out on life... true life.

how will you receive this same message? may you be compelled to do what Jesus asks of you.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

(lent) 13


the unluckiest number. Hotels notoriously do not have a floor labeled the '13th' floor. Friday the 13th is also known as an unlucky day (thanks in part to the campy Friday the 13th horror film franchise)

the number of Dan Marino, the second most prolific passer in NFL history. Although he had great statistics and numerous chances, he was never able to lead the Dolphins to a Super Bowl victory.

the age in which one becomes a teenager.

the youngest age to see a PG-13 movie. this new rating was introduced in 1984 after parental uproar over excessive violence in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Gremlins. The first movie to be branded PG-13 was Red Dawn. The First PG-13 movie I saw was Police Academy 2.

the name of a mildly controversial film about life as a Thirteen year old.

the amount of the original colonies in the United States. (Can you name them?)

number of loaves in a Bakers Dozen.

Apollo 13 was the only unsuccessful mission by the United States of America intended to land humans on the moon. The mission launched on April 11, 1970 at 13:13 CST. The explosion of an oxygen tank on April 13, 1970 caused severe problems before the astronauts were able to return to Earth. The events were later captured on celluloid by Ron Howard in 1995. the film starred Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Gary Sinese and received critical acclaim.

The fear of the number 13 is called Triskaidekaphobia.

number of total people in Jesus' entourage: him + the 12.

the chapter in John when Jesus flips what it means to be Master. He flips it when he humbles himself and begins to serve them, washing the disciples feet. right then and there, an example is set for the disciples. leaders serve. Right then and there Jesus empowers them to 'do as I do.' plain and simple.
the faith Jesus had in the 12... the faith He has in you... to go and do likewise... to 'do as I do.' do you believe it? do you perceive it?
Here we have Jesus saying 'you can do what I do.' and later on he'd remind them 'anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.' (John 14:12)

empowering. encouraging. do we have faith in Jesus? He has faith in us! He has faith in YOU! embrace that.

the number 13 should not be feared. this message should not be feared. clinch this message in your hand. keep it close to your heart... and may you be compelled to act upon it, knowing full well that Christ believes in you.

go. serve. lead. for Christ's sake.

Friday, April 08, 2011

(lent) 14


the number of pounds in a stone, a British weight measurement.

Minimum age at which one can work in many U.S states.

the number of days in a fortnight.

day in February where we celebrate Valentine's Day. a day in which husbands will no doubt forget and have to run to the store to get flowers and a card after work.

number of lines in a Sonnet. Shakespeare Sonnet XIV is as follows:
Not from the stars do I my judgement pluck;
And yet methinks I have Astronomy,
But not to tell of good or evil luck,
Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons' quality;
Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,
Pointing to each his thunder, rain and wind,
Or say with princes if it shall go well
By oft predict that I in heaven find:
But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,
And, constant stars, in them I read such art
As truth and beauty shall together thrive,
If from thyself, to store thou wouldst convert;
Or else of thee this I prognosticate:
Thy end is truth's and beauty's doom and date.

the number of Stations of the Cross.
reflect upon these 14... reflect and remember the story...
  1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,
  2. Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested,
  3. Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin,
  4. Jesus is denied by Peter,
  5. Jesus is judged by Pilate,
  6. Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns,
  7. Jesus takes up His cross,
  8. Jesus is helped by Simon to carry His cross,
  9. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem,
  10. Jesus is crucified,
  11. Jesus promises His kingdom to the repentant thief,
  12. Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other,
  13. Jesus dies on the cross,
  14. Jesus is laid in the tomb.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

(lent) 15


the jersey number of Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos; the highest selling jersey during the 2010 season.

the first points of a tennis game.

number of players per team on the field in Rugby.

the age in which a minor can be sent to prison in the UK.

indoor soccer number of Tony Horton, also known as 'The Enforcer.' in all other sports he wears the number 22.

The number of days in each of the 24 cycles of the Chinese Calendar.

a song by Taylor Swift.

on the 15th day of April, 1989 the Hillsborough disaster took place in Sheffield, England. during a 'football' match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forrest was abandoned 6 minutes in as many fans were crushed against security fencing. 96 people died and 766 people were injured. It was the worst soccer tragedy ever.

The number of letters in the words "uncopyrightable", "dermatoglyphics", "misconjugatedly", and "hydropneumatics", which are the longest words in the English language that do not repeat a letter.

the chapter in Mark which tells of the events leading up to and including the Crucifixion.
Jesus before Pilate.
The Soldiers Mock Jesus.
The Crucifixion of Jesus.
The Death of Jesus.
The Burial of Jesus.

Pilate gives in to the people and Jesus is given a sentence of death.
Jesus is then beaten, tortured and crucified. He quickly dies... quicker that Pilate expected.
upon His death, a man named Joseph asked Pilate if he could take the body and give Jesus a proper burial.
Pilate gives in again and grants Joseph's request. The granting of this request is bigger than we might think. Perhaps the Pharisees would have liked it another way... a dead, decaying 'King' hanging on the cross, humiliated - so that their status might be elevated.
but the body is quickly removed and properly, respectfully buried.
Joseph saw to it that the tomb was sealed. Pilate saw to it that guards be placed there so that the body would not be stolen.
This was all necessary to make the testimony of Christ's resurrection all the more powerful and believable. For no one could dispute the fact that a dead Jesus was in that tomb... and no one could dispute that His body was not stolen.

then, on the third day... on that bright Sunday morning...

stay tuned...

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

(lent) 16


the jersey number of Joe Montana, the most prolific quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl, winning 4, for the San Francisco 49ers through out the 1980's.

ounces dry = one pound.

the atomic number of Sulfur, the smelliest of all the elements.

minimum age for being allowed an official Drivers License in the U.S. and Canada.

prominent birthday age, often referred to as 'Sweet Sixteen' (mostly among girls)

Candles. one of the first of many brat-pack movies. written by John Hughes and starring Molly Ringwald, 16 Candles jump started a plethora of 1980's 'coming of age' movies starring young actors such as Ringwald, Emilio Estevez and Anthony Michael Hall, etc.

number of athletic teams from the University of Alabama currently on probation.

number of pawns in a chess set.

the last king of France, Louie the XVI (16th) who was beheaded via the guillotine during the French Revolution. Viva la France!

number of different personality types in the Myers-Briggs classification system. (i'm a borderline ISFJ/ESFJ)

16 mm film was originally an amateur movie format, but is now used by professionals. [view it here]

a slang term for a verse in a hip hop song, which are often written in sixteen bar stanzas.

In the story of the Sleeping Beauty (written by Charles Perrault in 1697), a spell is placed on the princess that when she reaches her 16th birthday, she will "prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die".

verse in John chapter 3 (probably the most famous, most often quoted verses in the New Testament) which reads: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

16 is such a prominent number. for a teenager, it's a monumental year. for a hip hop artist, it's the measure of one's craft. for the king of France, it was his downfall. for Sleeping Beauty, her demise. for the Brat-Pack, it was the beginning of quintessential movies of a generation.

16. for mankind, it's the verse that brings hope to all mankind. love. sacrifice. belief. salvation. it's the verse of life for you and me and all the world.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

(lent) 17


number of years it took to build Germany's Neuschwanstein Castle (which was the inspiration for Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle)

The 17-year locust has the longest cycle of development of any known insect.

the unlucky day of the month, when in a Friday, in Italy.

Former President Bill Clinton's dog Buddy was killed by a vehicle driven by a 17-year-old girl.

name of a magazine aimed at teenage girls.

amount of steps that lead up to Sherlock Holmes' residence at 221B Baker Street.

Percentage at which a cow's saliva increases while grazing.

number of muscles in the human tongue.

number of clothes King Tutankhamen was wrapped in.

verse in Mark chapter 12 in which Jesus answers a trick question about allegiance (to Caesar or to God). "Then Jesus said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." And they were amazed at him."

random facts about the number 17.

there is no randomness in the actions of Christ... everything he did, said and taught cmae with a specific purpose... such as in verse 17 of Mark chapter 1: “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

He began his ministry asking people to 'follow Him'. that same invitation exists today.

What does it look like to follow Jesus? are you compelled to follow? you might get dirty feet. you might be called to sacrifice... but His way is the better way... for Jesus came to give us life and life to the fullest! (John 10:10)

Monday, April 04, 2011

(lent) 18


the number (when spoken) often confused with the number 80.

in America, the age when one becomes legal.

in Hebrew, means 'alive'

original title of Joseph Heller's classic Catch-22 was Catch-18.

album title of Moby's 2002 recording with, you guessed it, 18 tracks.

number of holes in a round of golf.

number of wheels on a tractor-trailer semi truck

seconds before sunrise. the official title of the website for Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós.

verse in Matthew chapter 16 where Jesus refers to Simon as Peter, which means 'rock'. Simon, when asked 'who do you say that I am' responds to Jesus by saying “You are the Christ,b the Son of the living God.” Peter's confession showed the kind of boldness that Jesus knew was a necessary foundation for the church.

the chapter in John where Jesus gets arrested and is put on trial. During this time, Peter, the rock, the one who's confession led to a name change, denies knowing or being involved with the One, Jesus.

how often are we one way in certain situations and yet another way in other?
genuineness is what is expected.
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. ~ Luke 12:48.
we have been given much. we have been entrusted with much. what are we doing with it? do we have a bold faith or are we hiding it or denying it... pulling it out when it's convenient?

thankfully, Peter learned from his denial. thankfully, Peter grew from that experience, was reinstated and would (in Acts 2) lead the church onward. but his lack of boldness almost led to his demise. for those brief moments of denial (three times on the night of Jesus' arrest - before morning came) Peter was anything but a rock... he was not living up to his name or his calling...

are you living up to your calling today? rise up. live it. Christ has a plan for you. claim it and live it today with boldness.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

(lent) 19


minimum age to marry in the state of Nebraska.

"19th hole" in golf is the clubhouse bar.
In miniature golf it is an extra hole on which the winner earns an instant prize.

amount of years typically between solar eclipses.

the height, in feet, of the statues of Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson in their respective memorials.

a 'zero' point hand in Cribbage.

chapter in Matthew (verse 14) in which Jesus says, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

faith like a child. simple. pure. honest and real.

the chapter in the gospel of John in which Jesus is crucified.

the culmination of his ministry comes to a moment that seems to be final.
alone. on the cross. death enters and where are his friends?
all but one either ran off, denied him or hid. John stayed near him, comforting Mary, the mother of Jesus as Christ suffered humiliation, scorn and shame.
John stayed close. perhaps that is why he was referred to as the one whom Jesus loved.
John did not abandon him.

Friday, April 01, 2011

(lent) 20


the halfway point.
and yet so much would happen in the life of Christ during those final few weeks leading up to the cross...

number of baby teeth.

jersey number of Barry Sanders, easily one of the greatest running backs of all time. Sanders walked away from football at age 30, a mere 1,500 yards away from breaking the all time rushing record.

questions. a popular game that involves (you guessed it) asking 20 questions.

The Twenty Year Curse refers to the pattern of presidents of the United States who were elected to office in 1840, 1860, 1880, 1900, 1920, 1940, and 1960 to die in office. This pattern ended with the 1980 presidency of Reagan, who survived his time in office and, notably, an attempted assassination.

ounces in a Vinti drink at Starbucks.

CB Slang for "a place", being short for "10–20", used in reference to a person or object's location

the atomic number of Calcium. my mom used to make me drink milk as a child "for the calcium." i always hated milk. on my first day of college i thought of my mom and decided i'd drink one glass of milk a day. that lasted for exactly one day.

/20 ~ name of the longtime running prime time news program on ABC.

/20 ~ an indication of normal vision, often referred to as 'perfect vision'.

/20 hindsight. When someone is able to see only after an event has taken place, how things turned out.

Age in which Levites in the time of King David were allowed "to do the work for the service of the house of the Lord", the Temple in Jerusalem (see First Chronicles Chapter 24, verses 24 and 27). In the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, following the Babylonian captivity, it was Levites from the age of 20 upwards who were assigned "to oversee the work of the house of the LORD" (Ezra Chapter 3, verse 8).

20. hindsight. how have you witnessed the work of God in your life?
20. perfect vision. how have you kept your eyes on the prize? how have you kept your eyes on Jesus?
20. what were you doing at that age? i know that i wasted so much time then (and now, too). but God enabled the Levites to serve and work and oversee the work of the Lord. God doesn't call the equipped... he equipped those he calls.

how is He calling you today?