I’m giving up self-righteousness for Lent.
I don’t even know if you can do that. Does that qualify? I don’t come from a faith tradition that regularly observes the church seasons, but I see all my Facebook friends giving up sugar, or television, or even Facebook itself, and I think “that’s good….wow, that’s gonna be tough….I hope they can pull it off.”
What’s something I hold onto more tightly than anything? What’s something I could lay down as a sacrifice during this Lenten season?
I know, I know. It sounds all existential doesn’t it? But the last few years have reminded me of something incredibly important.
I’m a broken mess.
Now you wouldn’t really know it to look at me. I’m not a heroin addict. I don’t run around on my wife. I’ve got a good job, live in a respectable neighborhood, do my best to love my kids and give my life to those around me. The addiction I migrate back to isn’t going to land me in any rehab I know of. It’s socially acceptable. In fact, it’s socially admired.
It’s my belief in me.
I want to fix myself. I want to earn my way. I want to be admired and respected. I want you to think I’m more than I am. I want my good deeds to outweigh my bad. I want to control my own destiny. I want to be my own Savior.
And even though I fail every single time, I crawl right back and try again.
I need the Gospel. I need Jesus. The only One who can really fix what’s wrong with me. The only one who can redeem the power and potential that’s inside of me.
I can’t. But He did.
And so this Lenten season I’m laying down my self-salvation projects. And if it’s all the same to you, with God’s help, I’m not going to pick them back up again.
If you begin recognizing Lent today, don’t allow the ritual to lose its meaning. Let it point you to Jesus. He’s the only place righteousness can be found.
This post was written by Erik Cooper. For the original post, go to: http://beyondtherisk.com/2014/03/05/im-giving-up-self-righteousness-for-lent/
BE A MAN.
It's the great company at the party in Titanic that brings such happy tears. It's the boys making it safely home in Apollo 13. It's Maximus reunited with his family. So the fellowship finds Gandalf alive—no longer Gandalf the Grey, fallen beyond recovery in the mines of Moria, but Gandalf the White, whom death can never touch again. So Frodo and Sam are rescued from the slopes of Mount Doom, and when they wake, it is to a bright new morn. This is our future.
After he laid down his life for us, Jesus was laid in a tomb. He was buried just like any other dead person. Family and friends mourned. Enemies rejoiced. And most of the world went on with business as usual, clueless to the Epic around them. Then, after three days, also at dawn, his story took a sudden and dramatic turn.
Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?" But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples . . . 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'" (Mark 16:2-7)
Jesus came back. He showed up again. He was restored to them. He walked into the house where they had gathered to comfort one another in their grief and asked if they had anything to eat. It was the most stunning, unbelievable, happiest ending to a story you could possibly imagine. And it is also ours.
This post is an excerpt from the book, Epic by John Eldredge
BE A MAN.
I've always wondered what it would have been like to be present at Jesus' crucifixion. I wondered if I would have joined the disciples and disappeared. Or would I be like the only disciple, John, who stayed to witness Jesus death.
I was fortunate to be granted the opportunity to see Jesus being crucified. However, having been a participant in the Easter Musical, I became, at times, a little complacent about Jesus' crucifixion. It became a matter of rehearsal and the actor playing Jesus was a friend. However, one practice, I was struck with the reality of Jesus' compassion and love, how He died for me.
I walked onto stage and Jesus was on the cross. I looked up and just at that time, Jesus was looking down at me. I forgot that this man was an actor and my friend. I felt transported to the time that Jesus' was actually on the cross. I felt so overwhelmed. Jesus was looking at me and I was the only person there even though the stage and the audience was filled with people.
It was Jesus and me.
Nevertheless, I was overwhelmed by two competing emotions: 1) I felt ashamed at my sin, and 2) I felt pure love. I felt no condemnation. A flood of tears came to my eyes and at that night's performance, I didn't have to pretend to cry. My complacency vanished.
My tears were real.
Jesus was real.
My sin was real.
The love I felt was real.
The forgiveness Jesus offered was real.
Salvation is real.
BE A MAN.
Monday, I posted about how a young man used the retelling of the crucifixion of Jesus so that he could sin and take others with him in his sin.
Today, I want to share something beautiful from my experiences with the Easter Musical. In this church that annually would share the Easter story with its community, there was always a special private showing of the final dress rehearsal.
The final dress rehearsal was an invitation to individuals who were physically as well as mentally challenged. The church would clear out much of the seating so that people using wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and canes could easily navigate into the auditorium. This was a fun tradition in this community because these individuals got to see the musical before anybody else.
In this final dress rehearsal that I am remembering, Jesus was being taken down from the cross. This is a very solemn and quiet scene, taking a good ten minutes or so. Jesus is carefully removed from the cross, given to Mary, Joseph of Arimathea, John and Nicodemus. They lovingly prepare Jesus' body for burial, wrapping him in cloths.
Well, during this scene, one man in the audience who couldn't speak or walk due to his challenges, started weeping uncontrollably. It was quite a poignant scene that was enhanced by this man's sensitivity. I firmly believe that this man was so touched by this reenactment that he said "yes" to God's invitation to accept Jesus as his Savior. Needless to say, this man's behavior affected many others not only in the congregation but many of the actors and orchestra members as well. In my own heart, I felt a revival of my own commitment to serving Jesus. I'm sure that many had a similar experience. An unspoken revival of sorts happened right there because of this man's sensitivity to Jesus' gift of salvation.
I want to tell you that the man that was weeping was so much more of a man than many men I have ever met. Especially, more so than that young man from Monday who wanted to have sexual conquests to prove his manhood. That weeping man allowed God to transform him. Outside he was still the same but I believe that man left the church a new creation.
You may be wondering how the above picture of the mountain climber on the summit fits into this story. Well, I'm thinking that when this guy gets to heaven, he's gonna want to do the things he always wanted to do but couldn't because he was in an earthly body that didn't work as he wanted. I'm gonna find him and we're gonna do some mountain climbing. When we get to the summit, I'm gonna ask him, "remember when you were at that private showing of the Easter Musical? I want to know what you were thinking." I anticipate he will share with me his love for God and how the Holy Spirit worked in his life that night.
Together we will agree with the Roman Centurion, "Surely, this man was the Son of God!" and we will spend a couple hundred years on that summit praising our Savior and recalling all the wonderful things that God did.
Do you want to experience something beautiful?
You can right now as you ask Jesus to lead your life, turn from your sinfulness and allow God to transform you.
We want you to join us on that summit in eternity.
BE A MAN.
There have been a few times when I have been so angry, that I felt like slugging someone...
Let me set this up for you. The church that I attended would put on a terrific Easter Musical every year. It was a great production and much of the community would go. It was quite popular. I enjoyed being part of it.
I was at a fast food establishment and I overheard a conversation that I wish I had never heard. Two young men were talking about the Easter Musical. Since I was in the production, I listened intentionally. Then they started talking to each other about how to pick up girls. I heard the usual stupid man advice about showing off, flexing your muscles, driving a fast car, flattering, flirting, etc.
However, what I heard next was REALLY DISGUSTING.
I wish I hadn't been eavesdropping.
One young man said, "I take girls to that Easter Musical that's going on right now. I cry when Jesus is on the cross and they get all emotional. Then, when I get them home, they are like putty in my hands. I can do anything I want and they never say no." He continued, "If I can't get a girl to go with me, I will hang out afterwards and talk to the girls that have been crying. It's pretty easy to pick one up when they're like that." It made my blood boil. I wanted to slug the guy or say something but I was so angry and in such shock, I just sat there in disbelief.
Did you catch what was DISGUSTING about that conversation? God talks about this. He says, "They commit adultery with their eyes, and their desire for sin is never satisfied. They lure unstable people into sin..."
Why is this disgusting?
Did you catch what this young man said? He took the most wonderful and supreme act of love and perverted it for his own selfish, sinful advantage. And not only that, he took others with him.
Do you find that disgusting?
I have talked about several disgusting things on this blog. What makes this the most disgusting thing I have ever heard?
Do you understand the gravity of this young man's statements?
It is downright disgusting to use something that is holy for sin. To defile God's holiness with sin is a major affront to God. This conversation gave me a whole different perspective on God's Holiness and what it means to be a man.
A real man takes God's Holiness seriously. That doesn't mean that a real man can't have fun and can't make light of some things that happen, even in a church. But a real man knows better than to defile God with sin. God and sin can NEVER be connected, even the slightest connection is abhorrent to God.
Do you defile God's Holiness? Do you take Him seriously?
God says we are to be holy in all we do. Never connect God to sin.
BE A MAN.
For three years, the disciples watched Jesus live His life, and never once did He crack or bend. He would break the rules of the religion when love or compassion demanded it. He frustrated His critics when He encountered misplaced spirituality. He was not intimidated by authority figures. He was not swayed by public opinion or pressure from authorities. He would not cave.
On the night before He died, Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him when He was deeply distressed. "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow and troubled," He told His friends.
Jesus knew what was coming. But instead of longing for a way out, He committed His heart to God's purposes. Just seconds before His arrest, Jesus exclaimed to His friends, "Get up! Let's go!" He accepted and moved forward to embrace God's purposes.
On that dark evening, the most important thing Jesus might have shown us was how to completely let go of our our hearts to God. But He also stiffened His spine. Spine comes from undivided trust in the One who gives us the undivided heart. There is no sadder or more pathetic man than the one with heart but no spine. Be courageous.
This posts is taken from Every Man, God's Man
BE A MAN.
Do you really believe that Jesus meant what He said? He died yesterday. Will He live again, tomorrow, just as He promised? Why did he die?
Let these kids tell you what Jesus meant: