Tuesday, March 25, 2008


"Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus....While they were talking and discussing, Jesus came near and went with them...As they came near the village....He walked ahead as if He were going on. But they urged Him strongly, saying, 'Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.' So He went in to stay with them...." (Luke 24:13-15, 28-29)

Two followers of Jesus are trudging down the Emmaus Road. Their hopes have been dashed, their dreams have been destroyed, their leader has been crucified. These two disciples are the painful portrait of the walking wounded, when suddenly, they get a new lease on life.

Cleopas and another man, whom tradition tells us was named Simon, have been followers of Jesus, but now they have thrown in the towel. They have quit, and they are limping down the Emmaus Road like broken and defeated warriors. They know about the Crucifixion. They saw it with their own eyes. But they do not yet know about the Resurrection. They have not yet experienced the Risen Christ. Disappointed, disillusioned, defeated, heartbroken, downcast, they trudge down the Emmaus Road toward home. Their hopes for the future have been dashed, so not knowing what else to do, they turn back toward the old life.

Their heads are bowed as though they carry on their backs a crushing burden of defeat and dejection. They limp along with weary steps as if their shoes are weighted with lead. Their eyes are misted over with the tears of disillusionment. They walk along in silence. They dare not speak for fear they will break into uncontrollable sobbing.

At last, with a sigh weighted with despair, the younger man speaks: "He's dead. He's gone. It's all over. They have killed Him, and without Him we are nothing. We should have known this wouldn't work. It was too good to be true, too idealistic for this cruel world. How could we have been such fools! We followed Him. We trusted, we thought He was the One to save us, and now it's all over." Down, dejected, defeated, worn, weary, wounded....

But we know that this is not the end of the story. No! The Risen Lord comes to them. He walks with them. He talks with them. He breaks bread with them, and as they experience the Resurrected Christ, they too get resurrected! They are healed! They find new life! And they rush, they run, back to Jerusalem to Share the Good News with the other disciples. They run, shouting, "Hope is still alive! Christ is risen! Christ is Alive!"

Dear God, thank You for the lessons of the Lenten Season and Easter Morning and afterwards..........We have learned, again, that Christ comes to us in a special Way when we are hurting. We have learned that Christ has the Power to heal our hurts. We have learned that Christ Shares His Resurrection with us today. Like Cleopas and Simon we get resurrected too! We too get New Life! Thank You, Christ Jesus! Thank You, Holy Spirit! Amen
("On the Road Again" James W. Moore) In Christ, Jim

Thursday, March 13, 2008

LOVE THE WORD (Dwight Lyman Moody)

All the historical things are told in the way that we know the world had of looking at them when they were written. People very often think that science is all fact and that religion is only fancy. A great many persons think the stars around us are inhabited, but they cannot bring themselves to believe that there is a life beyond this earth for immortal souls.

The true Christian puts faith before reason and believes that reason always goes wrong when faith is set aside. If people would but read their Bibles more, and study what there is to be found there about heaven, they would not be as worldly minded as they are. They would not have their hearts set upon things down here but would seek the imperishable things above.

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." (1 Cor 2:9)

Use of Metaphorical Language in Romans:
The way we use language is critical in spiritual formation.
Jesus, of course, is THE Word. Language, one of the defining characteristics of being human, is integral to the way God reveals and works. It follows that the WAY we use language, not simply THAT we use it, is significant.

The way Paul uses language in Romans is to load it with metaphor, a practice he learned from the Hebrew prophets before him. There is hardly a paragraph in this letter without a metaphor.

Metaphor does not so much define or label: it expands, forcing the mind into participating action.....What metaphor does is force our mind into action to find meaning at another level, engaging the imagination to look for relationships and resonances that tell us more than any literal description ever could. We cannot be passive before a metaphor. We must imagine and enter into it. Metaphor enlists us in a believing, obeying, living participation..........(Again, my mind goes back to Disciple 1....Thank you, Terry.)

Paul uses words not to define, but to evoke......
Paul's language is a Living Energy Field.......This is language Alive, Expressing and Forming our lives from the inside out. Spiritual formation requires this lively, participatory language.
(The Renovare' Spiritual Formation Bible....The With-God Life)

Ever-active God, thank You for Your Living Word. Thank You for Paul who writes of Living Participation....Living Energy! We see this in Jesus and the Way He came to show us....We live it Now with the help of Your Holy Spirit. Such Grace given freely! Thank You, God! Amen.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


One of the best sermons I’ve ever heard was given by a guy named Tony Campolo, and it was called “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Comin’!” I remember that it was nowhere near Easter when I first heard that message, but it is such a terrific Easter theme that I was profoundly struck by the universality of it. In many ways, we live Good Friday every day of our lives. Death and dying are around us constantly and without fail as we move around on this planet.

Yesterday I was driving down an old country road and I came to a four-way stop. I looked to my right, and an eighteen wheeler was paused to let me go ahead. I saw that it was fully loaded with crates of live chickens, headed off somewhere along the chain of industry in order to make those awesome boneless chicken breasts that I bake, grill, fry and ultimately consume. It was strange, because it was about 25 degrees outside, and they were in wire baskets that had to be absolutely frigid whenever the truck began moving. I thought, “Those poor chickens need some cover.” And then, almost immediately my mind finished the thought: “…so that they are more at ease when they get to the slaughterhouse!” It was a strange moment.

But the “It’s Friday” part of the message and ministry of Jesus has to do with the painful reality that we really do not need anyone to explain to us. Life is hard, and it is often seasoned with great suffering. Many well-intentioned ministers and friends in the faith often try to comfort us in our suffering with the assurance that we live in a “fallen world,” and that all pain is a by-product of “original sin.” But such counsel has always struck me as pretty self-serving. I mean, I have never in my life been in a hospital room or funeral home and had friends and family members say to me, “Well, it’s hard to let my granddad go, but, you know, that’s what original sin does…” In the same way, I’ve never seen a doctor tell a patient that has just received the news that they have heart disease or diabetes “Well, Mr. Smith, before we talk about a course of treatment, I just would like to take a moment to explain to you how to avoid patterns of behavior that could bring about heart disease/high blood pressure.” Such a discussion would be completely silly: if the cat is in the chicken coop, it’s too late to tell me how to build a cat-proof chicken coop!

Explanations of why we suffer, or whose “fault” suffering might be strike me as utterly useless when grappling with the stark reality of pain. The truth is that we live predominantly in a Good Friday world. As a Christian, my job is not to offer up a reliable explanation of the mechanics of how the world is shattered. My calling is to follow Christ’s lead in fixing it.

SUNDAY IS COMING! It’s exciting, then, to get to the answer to every question: the reason why we are here. The reason why we do what we do. The reason why we hope in the face of great suffering and injustice. The reason we can sit beside our brothers and sisters who are grieving and resonate faith and love to them even as they cry. Sure, it’s Friday. Sure, it’s frightening and lonely and painful and demanding. Sure it is. We acknowledge the truth of life as we know it and as we build it. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Comin’!”

Easter Sunday is the answer that God gives me whenever I confront the pain of a Good Friday world. It’s not a theory, or a mechanical description. It’s not an analysis of cause and effect. It’s not a sociological or demographic study. It’s an announcement that changes everything:


You don’t have to intellectually accept it. You certainly don’t have to understand it. You honestly cannot ever hope to explain it. But this announcement is for you. You are meant to hear it. And once you hear it, you are invited to run – not walk! - to the empty tomb that is in your heart waiting to be discovered. Once you see it for yourself, you will live in an Easter world…forever.