A little girl named Liz, was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her five-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed. The doctor explained the situation and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. He hesitated for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, ‘Yes, I’ll do it if it will save her.’
As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister, and smiled, as they all did, seeing the colour returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, ‘Will I start to die right away?’
The little boy had misunderstood the doctor. He thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her. This boy loved his sister so much that he was willing to die instead of her – as her substitute. This story is simply an illustration of what loving substitution means.
God loves you.
The amazing and wonderful message of the Bible is that God came to this earth in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ, and died in your place. Words, images, metaphors, pictures and illustrations (such as that of the five-year-old boy) can help our understanding, but they can never perfectly describe the indescribable love of God. Jesus died to remove all the bad stuff. He died instead of you and me.
That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.
~ Mark 10:45 MSG
*** This fictional retelling of a true story was in my One Year Bible reading today.
I am pretty sure we are all washing our hands more than any other time in our lives! Our mothers would be so proud of us.
We are supposed to wash our hands for 20 seconds which can seem like an eternity! I saw a pastor suggest … “What if, while we are all washing our hands for 20 seconds (multiple times a day) we used the time we are washing our hands to pray for people.”
What if you prayed for people during those 20 seconds? Then you made a decision to not just wash your hands. But also, to go wash someone else’s feet!
Before you check out … I am not saying go knock on your neighbor’s door and say, “Hey, good to see you … would you be open to me washing your feet this afternoon?” That would probably freak them out.
But in the Bible in John 13 we see this incredible place where Jesus showed us what it means to serve others … by doing for others … what no one else wanted to do for others.
Jesus washed his disciple’s feet.
He did something that no one else wanted to do.
This week we could decide to do some things that others really don’t want to do?
We could …
– Offer to watch someone’s younger elementary age kids who are no longer in school so their parent(s) can still go to work.
– Help an international college student who nervous and is having trouble getting back to their home.
– Make a grocery run for someone who is older and doesn’t feel safe getting out.
– Bring some of our precious hand sanitizer and disinfectant and help clean someones house so they feel safe and more at peace in their own home.
Let’s love, serve and live like Jesus.
Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. 4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. ~ John 13:3-5
You and I have been living with this 6-foot thing called “social distancing” for many weeks now. Or as some introverts are calling it, “Heaven on earth.”
The truth is all this social distancing has caused us all to realize how much we took for granted just being together and being outside.
I feel like this meme captured it well!
In this pandemic, 6 feet evidently makes all the difference.
As we think about how dark this COVID-19 virus has become, there’s also a few sparks of light.
- People are getting more intentional and focused with their time, energy and resources. In this season of separation so many people are reaching out and serving others. It’s inspiring as we really do become the hands and feet of Jesus.
Another bright spot in this darkness …
- Churches all around the world, large and small, are embracing technology and actually making more people aware of the love and sacrifice of Jesus by moving so much ministry online.
- And it could be that you are meeting family members that you forgot lived in your house, because you’ve been so busy for so long!
We are all being reminded of the things that matter most. And it took a pandemic, something dark, to help many of those good things come into the light.
You see when Jesus went to the cross, He also went to battle against a pandemic of sorts. The world was infected with sin.
Philippians 2 says Jesus “let go of his grip on heaven” (where there was no pandemic / no sin) “to come to earth” (where the pandemic of sin was running rampant.)
And Jesus …
- Walked with us …
- Talked with us …
- Ate with us …
- JESUS GOT CLOSE TO US!
And then in a move that no one could imagine … he took on our sin and he went to the cross.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~ 2 Cor. 5:21
He took on the virus, to save us from the virus.
No one fully understood why he needed to travel down that road that Friday. But today we understand. We realize the perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was the ONLY vaccine for the pandemic of sin.
Good Friday isn’t a holiday we really want,
but it is a holiday that we really need.
Think of it this way: We want this whole 6ft social distancing thing to come to an end, we want this stay at home order thing to end. We want to get past it and get on with things. We want to get back to life, and back to work, being with friends. It’s hard to be cooped up in the house, restricted, and we’re not sure how much longer we can do this.
- If 6ft really will make a difference.
- If 6ft really will stop the spread and flatten the curve
- If 6ft really will save people lives.
We will do it.
And I would suggest to you on this Good Friday,
that is also why Jesus did it.
Jesus knew his sacrifice would save our lives.
Researchers say that the average male height is almost 6 feet tall, give or take a few inches. They also say that your wingspan – from fingertip to fingertip is a one to one ratio.
That means if Jesus fit our height averages today, the distance from Jesus’ fingertip to fingertip is about 6 feet.
Jesus spread out his arms 6 feet on the cross
in an effort to defeat the pandemic of sin
and show us what love really looks like.
Today, there is a literal and metaphorical 6 ft of separation in our lives. There is the literal 6 feet of separation that we must have between ourselves and others during this crisis. And that is a challenge. But even more challenging and perplexing and frustrating oftentimes is the other areas of our lives where we experience separation.
- The 6 feet we feel between addiction and recovery.
Sometimes that 6ft feels like 6 miles! You are so close to recovery … but yet it feels so far away.
And it’s the same way in our homes …
- That 6 feet we feel at times between our self and our spouse who lives in the same house.
We are so close to each other in proximity / often less than 6ft / but that 6ft. can feel like 6,000 miles when we are not on the same page relationally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.
- And what about the 6 feet we often feel between our self and God … sometimes God … feels like He’s a million miles away.
And we wonder, how do I …
- Overcome this addiction
- Repair things with my spouse or kids or neighbor or boss or best-friend
- Get close to God again?
Here’s the deal … that is what Good Friday is all about.
That’s why we call it “good.”
You see Good Friday presents to us historical evidence that a man shattered the barrier that separates us from so many good people and things in our lives.
Jesus is THE WAYMAKER when there seems to be no way. And because of Jesus we can come close to God again. You see friends we MUST pause and realize today that …
The dark road that Jesus traveled to the cross on Friday,
is also the road that brought us back to God on Sunday.
It’s true we are living in a “Friday” world right now. Basically every day feels like a Friday. It’s pretty dark, and sad, and scary. There are all kinds of unknowns …
It’s definitely Friday … but don’t forget friends … Sunday is coming!
God bless you and have a fantastic Easter weekend.
Scene 1 – The Last Supper
It’s Thursday evening …
Jesus knows he is going to die soon, so he calls his disciples together for an evening meal. This is the Passover meal and this will be their Last Supper.
In the first century, when you entered a house or attended a meal one of the first things you would do is pause at the door to have your feet washed.
There would be a servant at the door to greet you and they would have a towel around their waist, a basin of water and they would wash your feet before the meal began. There are several reasons they would do this …
- They wore sandals and they walked around on dusty roads all day.
- They reclined at the table to eat and your feet would be very close to another person’s face and food.
So as the disciples come in to share this evening meal, this last supper with Jesus, and they look around for the servant boy at the door he is not there. So they just go sit down. Now be certain of this, they knew they had dirty feet and they knew someone needed to wash their feet. Each of them had also decided internally that they were not going to stoop that low.
You see one of the biggest ongoing debates among the disciples was
“Who is the greatest?”
In fact, when Luke tells us the story of the Last Supper as Jesus was sharing that one of them will betray him … Luke says Luke 22:24 – “A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.”
While they are arguing and debating “who is the greatest” they are certainly not going to perform an act of service reserved for the “least.”
And the Bible says …
John 13:2 – “as the evening meal was being served”
The food is arriving at the table and the disciples still had not budged. They’re still reclining at the table with stinky feet near each other’s faces and food! The fact is they would rather endure horrible conditions than be humble.
And that is when Jesus stands up and
redefines what it means to be great!
John 13:4-5 – So he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
Can you see the faces of the disciples? They must be entrenched in shock, disbelief, shame and embarrassment.
Peter says, “No way Jesus.”
John 13:8 – Peter “Jesus, you shall never wash my feet.”
But Jesus does and he goes all the way around the room.
- He washes the feet of the one who will betray him
- He washes the feet of the one who will deny him
- He washes the feet of all those who will abandon him
Then the Passover meal which will be their last supper together begins.
Luke 22:14-19 – When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying,“This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
Matthew 26:57- 58 – Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.
There are some sounds that we often hear living in Southern California or in any city for that matter. The sound of cars honking, planes overhead and emergency vehicle sirens. But we hardly ever hear a rooster crow.
Peter on the other hand … knew all about roosters. You couldn’t live in a rural area like Galilee and not get used to the daily sounds of the rooster crow. He had heard roosters crowing since the day he was born. It was a familiar sound. But one evening, the crow of a rooster changed his life.
It’s now very late on Thursday night in Jerusalem after the Passover meal. Jesus has just been arrested and taken away to the high priest. Most of the disciples have scattered, drifted off into the darkness, too shocked by the actions of Judas to do anything else.
When the crowd of soldiers led Jesus away, Peter decided to follow them. He had promised never to desert Jesus, and he wasn’t going to start now. He followed the crowd to the house of the Caiaphas. By the time Peter got there, the soldiers had taken Jesus inside to meet the high priest. There were just a few people standing around – some soldiers and servant girls warming themselves by a fire in the courtyard. It was early April and the temperature had dropped – it was getting cold at night.
It’s now likely sometime after midnight and Peter is getting close to the fire, a servant girl spoke up and said,“You were with that Nazarene, Jesus from Galilee.”
Somehow she recognized him. How did she know him? Instinctively, Peter gave the oldest comeback in the book, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
It seemed to work so Peter stayed by the fire. But he noticed two or three people looking at him closely – so he started to walk around the courtyard. As he did, Mark says same servant girl saw him and said in a loud voice,“This man is one of them.” Peter tried to act calm but he felt his heart pounding in his chest. So he said, “I don’t know the man.”
Peter denied Jesus not to the high priest or a soldier – but a servant girl.
Just two hours earlier he was whacking off a guard’s ear to defend Jesus. Now he’s denying Jesus. Soon it appeared that Jesus’ interview with the high priest was over. The guards were leading Jesus out of Caiaphas house and a man spoke up from the other side of the fire. “Didn’t I see you with Jesus in the garden?”
(BTW – John 18:26 says this man was a relative of Malchus the man whose ear Peter had cut off in the garden!)
Peter was trapped and he knew it. This fellow had seen him with Jesus. Peter began to call down curses and swore to them,“I don’t know this man. I have never heard of this man Jesus.” (Mark 14:71)
At the very instant the words came out of his mouth, Peter heard a familiar sound that would change the rest of his life. A rooster crow. Think about it … every single morning as Peter woke up he would have heard the crow of a rooster and he would have re-lived that moment.
Is Peter the only one to do the very thing he said he’d never do?
- We getting caught cheating and we are embarrassed and declare, “cheating is behind me?” And the rooster crows.
- We lie and hurt a lot of people and say, “I learned my lesson I will never lie again!” And the rooster crows.
- We consume too much alcohol, too often and cause so much pain to people we love and we say, “I will never take another drink.” And the rooster crows.
Luke’s account of this story contains one detail Matt, Mark & John all omit. Luke 22:61 says that when the rooster crowed, “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.”
The timing for Peter couldn’t have been worse. Just as the guards were taking Jesus from his interview with Caiaphas to his trial before the Sanhedrin. The guards were leading Jesus through the courtyard and at that exact time Peter was denying Jesus for the third time.
“I don’t know the man!”
Peter looked up and saw Jesus looking directly at him. By this time Jesus’ face is black and blue, his eyes almost swollen shut, blood trickles from his nose and lips. Even though it is late at night, Peter can see Jesus perfectly in the firelight. And Jesus can see him.
He doesn’t say a word.
This Maundy Thursday evening for Jesus ends with denial, betrayal and the sound of a rooster.
It’s Thursday, but Sunday is coming.
This virus is real and contagious.
The panic it creates is real and contagious.
Anxiety is real and contagious.
Fear is real and contagious.
But, I would also remind you …
Love … is also real and contagious.
Hope … is also real and contagious.
Kindness … is also real and contagious.
Peace … is also real and contagious.
And Prayer … IS VERY REAL AND CONTAGIOUS.
So please, let’s spend some time today in prayer because it is a great way to battle the panic, anxiety and fear.
I am going to guide you …
If you don’t like to pray that’s OK …
But I would encourage you to give prayer a try.
First, let’s pray for …
Our world and those in other countries that are scared and nervous and feeling sick.
Let’s pray that God would bring them peace, healing and hope.
Then let’s pray for …
Our nation and our leaders. It is an election season which makes this virus even more partisan. Let’s pray our leaders will work together in unity and humility and wisdom.
Now let’s pray for …
Our local leaders in schools, businesses, hospitals and churches for energy and wisdom and faith.
And finally let’s pray for …
Our family, our friends and our neighbors.
To the God who is able to do far more than we could ever ask or imagine
… we commit these prayers to you.
My mind is blown as I see Ford and Tesla factories making ventilators for COVID -19 patients in hospitals. Distilleries and beer companies producing alcohol for hand sanitizer, in addition to bourbon and brews.
Budweiser becomes the King Of
Beer / Hand Sanitizer!
Their ability to pivot is incredible, but not un heard of.
In the Spring of 1941, Ford factories began to build B-24 bombers for WWII. Ford had never built a bomber, and experts insisted it could not be done. But Edsel Ford, Henry Fords only son, made a pivot and cranked bombers out of Detroit factories. And Chrysler built tanks.
And GM, General Motors, built he amphibious “duck” truck and tens of millions of rounds of shell casings for artillery.
The ability of nations and people to pivot is astounding.
Here are some thoughts I’ve had the past few days
on how and when to pivot.
1. Pivot, and give your full energy and attention, when you know that you have the ability and duty to bring something important and benevolent to the world.
2. Pivot when what you used to do is no longer necessary or valued and you have the creativity, resources, insight and ability to introduce something new.
3. Pivot if you can look at the same thing every else is looking at, but see something completely different and important to our nation and world.
4. Pivot as you understand the shift between what is essential and what is non-essential.
5. Pivot because you can bring new life to a depressed situation.
6. Pivot, before you have to.
Life is full of unknowns and obstacles. Our ability to pivot, or not, is what determines if those obstacles become road blocks or new road ways for our future.
Yes, we are moving our gatherings and giving online … but we are staying on mission. It doesn’t matter if we are on campus or online. The Church remains on mission ether way!
Here is what I believe …
I believe we are going to be forced to learn things in the coming weeks and months about how to gather online that are going to grow Gods Church and advance His Kingdom rapidly and more comprehensively into the digital age.
And I am certain that God is not surprised by the Coronavirus! God is not looking down saying, “What … whoah … when and how did this happen?
Where did this originate?”
He knows and He has also given us the digital tools to continue meeting and growing even in these uncertain times. I believe that we are going to see God move big time in His Church around our nation and our world. Though we are separated physically, this coronavirus crisis is going to unite Gods Church globally.
I believe this because when we study the early church that grew like wildfire you see they met in “temple courts” and “house to house.”
Acts 5:42 – Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
– Temple courts … is more like our large church buildings and campuses.
– House to house … is well … our houses / our homes / our online campuses.
Gods Church can and will flourish as we gather from house to house to house to house to house to house to house.
I truly believe, even as we sit here today with some uncertainty, if we could see into heaven right now. All heaven is gathered around saying … “Oh man, watch this … watch what God is doing on earth during this uncertain season.”
– People are unleashing compassion like never before.
– People are leaning into His Word all around the world.
– People are praying and uniting their hearts in unprecedented ways.
– People are using their homes as places to gather and broadcast Truth!
Could it be … could it be … that one of the ways that GODS CHURCH is going to explode and begin to reach all nations is through hundreds of thousands of online gatherings like we are experiencing this weekend?
Could it be that the message of Jesus will spread like wildfire across the world as many thousands of churches move their message online more than any other time in the history of the world?
More people are going to have access to Gods Word, Worship and Prayer this weekend than any other weekend in human history!
As ministries move online, Gods church is going to be on fire.
“God is great. Don’t get more simpler than that bro.”
“Until you have to pick up that cross that you can’t carry, and He picks it up for you. And carries you and the cross. Then you know.”
Recently was talking with a good friend who is considering stepping away from a marketplace job and people he has been serving and leading for over 13 years.
He said Todd, “Sometimes the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze!”
I laughed outloud. I had never heard that before, whata line!
Maybe as we enter a New Year you are also considering a change. Maybe you are feeling the squeeeeeeeze!
If you are considering a change … here are four things to consider if you want to leave a place and people well.
How you leave is how you are remembered.
You can have an incredible season of life in a place serving people and still completely blow it in the end. I can tell you from experience … it could be five or ten years of faithful service, friendships and memories … but make no mistake how you leave is how you are remembered.
Just like preaching and public speaking … whatever you say last is usually what people remember most.
It is the same with life.
Your words and actions are amplified 30X in your last 30 days in a place.
How you act and react determines how you will be remembered.
This a sobering truth and reminder to …
- Make peace
- Assume positive intentions
- Speak well
- Be honest
- Be loving
- Be patient
- Be generous
… as you leave.
Understand not everyone will understand.
Especially if you are a follower of Jesus … not everyone will always understand how, when, where and why He is leading you.
You will not always understand how God leads you!
And in a crazy way it’s not actually your job to understand everything God is doing or leading in your life. It’s just your job to be obedient. In addition, it is not your job to make sure everyone you know understands or agrees with God’s leading in your life and family. It is your job, however, to do the best job possible when discerning God’s plans for your future.
For most of us one of the major things that keeps us up at night is worrying about what’s next … what is coming tomorrow, next week, next month and next year.
The good news is there is Good News in the Bible.
Jer. 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
This verse states clearly that God knows the plans He has for you. And that’s great news! That is great that GOD KNOWS His plans for you.
But what keeps most of us up at night is wondering how do I KNOW God’s plans for MY FUTURE?
Is it even really possible to know God’s specific plans for your life?
Here are three questions you can ask when trying to discern whether a direction is really from God:
- Have I taken time to pray, or am I rushing into things?
Sometimes we rush into decisions thinking …
- If I don’t take this job
- If I don’t marry this person
- If I don’t make this move right now
I will miss this incredible opportunity.
And here is what I learned many years ago …
If God is in it … it can wait a minute!
God is not sitting in heaven saying, “If you don’t hurry up and take this job, buy this car, marry this person or make this move – you are going to miss out … I can’t hold this together forever!”
So … slow down and take time to get away. Be alone and pray.
2. Do my friends and family agree, or do they think I am foolish?
Anyone who thinks they don’t need the advice of others is foolish.
When you are trying to discern God’s plans for your future, you should seek and listen to the advice of your friends and family.
However, here is what often happens …
Many of us will keep seeking advice until we find the advice we are seeking.
We must be willing to seek and LISTEN to advice even if it is not the advice we are seeking
3. Does this plan agree with scripture or contradict it?
God will never guide you to do something in the future that is opposed to what He has already said in the Bible in the past. God’s Word will never contradict God’s Will for leading in your life.
So, if you really want to know God’s personal plans for your future, here is the key …
Saturate yourself with Scripture.
And don’t read it and debate it.
Read it and obey it!
You never show your own character so clearly as when you describe another’s.
When leaving places and people there will be those who take cheap shots at you.
Just be ready for it.
It usually has far more to say about the other person than it does about you. It is not easy for the people who are being “left behind” even when they are very good people. And it is certianly never easy for comfortable and complacent people to watch others chase God’s dreams, be brave and live curiously!
It is far easier to stay in a safe place and critique
than it is to push away from the dock into some deep waters and create.
This is especially true in our socially connected world. Social media is like a petri dish for criticism, comparisons and commentary on the actions of others.
And there will be those who once stood by you who now want to grab your leg and trip you up as you try to step away.
Just remember … the way you speak about others says far more about you than it does about them.
Do not sell out your own character to publicly or even privately take someone down a notch.
One of my mentor pastors from years ago said …
“When you wrestle with a pig you both get muddy, and the pig likes it.”
Stay out of the mud.
Do not let a rough season of life characterize you for the next two months or years!
And realize the high road will never be the easy road.
Be thankful looking back and brave looking forward.
I am a nostalgic futurist.
Which means I am simultaneously looking back and dreaming forward.
When you prepare to leave places and people, take some time to look back.
Remember how good God has been to you.
And take some time to dream forward.
Remember that God has a perfect track record of faithfulness …
and He is not going to blow it on you!
“Sometimes the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze.”
This was spoken to me today by a friend who is considering a career change after more than thirteen years at the same place.
How do you know when you should hold on tighter and when you should let go?
I have had this conversation with at least ten leaders already in 2020. I personally believe and counsel most leaders to hang on, whenever they can! I believe hanging on and choosing longevity is to be prized.
But there are times in your career where you certainly feel like the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze! (Whata line!)
If this is you … I will be posting an article in a few hours with several things to consider when considering leaving people and places.