Today begins what the Church has called Holy Week or Passion Week. The time from Palm Sunday to Easter (Resurrection) Sunday has provided Christians with a week to give special attention to the person and work of Christ. It interrupts our normal rhythms and intentionally puts Jesus before us so we can reflect on the events leading up to and including his sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection. Below is a reading plan for the week, as well as activities and resources to help you leverage this significant week in the Church Calendar.
“Each year the season of Lent asks us to embrace a spiritual gravity, a downward movement of soul, a turning from our soul-sufficiency and sinfulness. In such quiet turning, we are humbled and thus made ready to receive from God a fresh and joyous grace.” Bobby Gross
Lent, not to be confused with lint (that fluffy stuff in your dryer vent or jean pockets), is a season within the Church calendar preparing our hearts for Easter. Similar to how Advent each December allows us to meditate on the incarnation leading up to Christmas Day, Lent gives us six weeks to consider Christ’s humility in the wilderness temptation and his human trials as we move towards Good Friday and Easter. During this season, the Christian follows Jesus by pursuing humility in our own life, believing he must come before us. As John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
The first words of Holy Scripture describe the story’s opening drama of creation, creation by God speaking forth light into the dark abyss. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…and darkness was over the face of the deep…And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light’” (Gen 1:1, 3). Bruce Waltke recognizes the Bible’s theme here and expresses it as “God irrupting into chaos to establish his rule over everything.” The creation account emphasizes the God who speaks light into darkness and breaks the silence with the power of his voice.
“If the Word does not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us.” John Owen
Continuing the series of posts on Bible meditation, I wanted to list some practical ideas for how to do it. While meditation can be a result of reflecting on something in creation, life experiences, conversations, our future in eternity, or other things, we’ll focus on meditating on Scripture.
This Sunday, I’ll be preaching on Colossians 3:18-4:1. In a twenty-five minute sermon, you can’t spend adequate time discussing and applying everything mentioned: wives, husbands, children, parents, servants, and masters, not to mention how submission and slavery fit. Below are a few recommended resources for each group as you seek to apply this in everyday life.
Main Idea: Every role and relationship offers an opportunity to follow and reflect Christ. Wherever God has us, we can put on Jesus so he is displayed through our discipleship.Continue reading Resources on Roles & Relationships in Colossians 3:18-4:1
I’ve realized how easy it is to consume news, information, and even spiritual knowledge without retaining it. We move from social-media post to online article to amusing YouTube video to online shopping seamlessly. One of the downsides is we don’t reflect on or respond to what we’re reading, viewing, and hearing. Because of the amount of information that inundated us, we also tend to forget what we read (that mattered) and fail to hold on to or prioritize what was actually beneficial.
“Let’s admit that we are not enough, and turn to the God who is.” Jen Oshman
Quotes from a book are a bit like tasting samples at the ice-cream shop. They can draw you in and give a feel for what a full cone (or book) offers. But books are always more than a few quotes. Books include longer stories and illustrations to provide context to those quotes, and suggested applications to live them out. Books build and sustain arguments and ideas that can become part of how you live faithfully in the world, even if you never have a quote ready.
We’re #blessed to live in a day and age where there are so many good Christian resources online and in print. However, there is also a lot of misinformation as well as bad theology out there. While this is only a small sampling, here are a few of my favorite websites for thinking biblically about personal, discipleship, and cultural challenges today. There are a lot of other great Christian websites for niche groups, but I left those out of my list.
One of the NT paradigms so helpful in growing or maturing as a Christian (sanctification) is that we live out our new identity in Christ. We are a new creation in Jesus, with our old self dying and a new me rising to life with him (Col. 2:11-13; 3:1-4). From this foundation of our new status as God’s forgiven, remade, and beloved children, and from this new identity where who I am is integrally connected to my union with Jesus, we then put to death sin and put on Christ. We say “out with the old and in with the new” when it comes to those desires, thoughts, and behaviors that aren’t fitting of me now in Jesus or are fitting. Unlike how our clothes become out of fashion every few years, the virtues of Christ we’re to put on (Col. 3:12-15) are unchanging. They are attractive, fitting clothes in every season and through the ages.
“The iron bolt which so mysteriously fastens the door of hope and holds our spirits in gloomy prison, needs a heavenly hand to push it back.” Charles Spurgeon
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1)
The Problem: Life is Hard God
Despite the way our culture values “authenticity,” most of us rarely feel comfortable enough to speak honestly and personally about the wounds and pains we carry, the weariness and weakness we feel, the dark thoughts or discouragement we wrestle with, or the disappointment and frustration with life experienced. While it might be okay to admit generalities like “My life is a mess” or “I’m struggling along,” to say how and why we are fragile or broken, to share real burdens and put them on the table seems a bit too far. It can be an awkward moment of transparency in a world of surface-level dialogue.