Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday of Holy Week – The Passover; Mark 14:12-26

Below is the fifth of a series of Holy Week daily devotionals written by a member of our church:

Making a covenant represented an unqualified, total commitment of one person to another – unconditionally, totally, eternally.  At the last supper Jesus explained that he was initiating a new covenant in his own blood.  He became the true Passover lamb.  All sacrificial lambs had to be absolutely free of defects, as a symbol of the one who would come to truly pay for sin.  Christ, who lived a sinless life, willingly allowed his body to be broken and his blood to be shed as a substitution for us.  Take time today to thank the Lord for initiating the covenant with mankind, and then fulfilling it in His blood.  Throughout the day, contemplate Christ as the spotless lamb.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday of Holy Week – The Alabaster Jar; Mark 14:1-9

Below is the fourth of a series of Holy Week daily devotionals written by a member of our church: 

This woman displayed her love for Jesus lavishly and expressively.  She poured the perfume on him as a symbol of her deep devotion and love for Him. Today let us consider how we can pour out our love and devotion to our Lord.  Spend time meditating on how much He loves you and perhaps express to God how you love him in a demonstrable way, possibly writing it down in a letter or singing a song.  In your own unique and personal way pour your love on Him.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday of Holy Week – The Greatest Commandment and the Widow's Mite; Mark 12:28-31, 41-44

Below is the third of a series of Holy Week daily devotionals written by a member of our church: 

The most important commandment involves loving God with everything.  This passage begs the questions: Do I love the Lord with all my mind?  All my Heart?  All my soul?  All my strength?  What does this look like?  It looks much like the widow in the second passage who loved the Lord so much that she  “gave all she had” and was commended by Jesus because she did not give out of her wealth, that is, just a part of what she had, but out of her poverty, everything she had.  Commit today to love the Lord with all that you are.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday of Holy Week– Clearing of the temple – Mark 11:15-19

Below is the second of a series of Holy Week daily devotionals written by a member of our church:

The house of God, the temple had strayed from its original purpose.  The people had allowed many practices and things inside the temple that shifted their focus from The Lord.  Just as Jesus cleared the temple we need to clear our hearts of the things that take the place of trusting in God – the habits and rituals that fill our life and remove our full attention on Christ.  Let us ask God to reveal to us the things in life that shift our focus, and then with God’s help, let us drive them out and give the Lord our full attention.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Modern Palm Sunday, In the News

Nashville, TN (AP) -- I-65 will never be the same. The serene and scenic highway that runs south from near Chicago’s congested web to the southern tip of Alabama is soon to host a social celebrity’s grand entrance into Nashville, and many don’t simply know what to make of the whole phenomenon. The “celebrity’s” name is Josh Daub. He is a Christian, what we might call a “conservative evangelical.”

Originally from the very small town of Hiawatha, IA, he had come very quickly to national attention. Not only was he a riveting preacher on tour who walked the walk, he was proactive in whatever community he stumbled upon. Reports and investigations have shown that, when Mr. Daub visits a town, he usually gives a few sermons and does some counseling, but more unexpectedly, he rallies and leads his new congregations to action. Even after he leaves, his congregants remain committed visitor-volunteers to homeless shelters, child and family associations, crisis pregnancy centers, tutoring schools and prisons. One police officer from Kansas City reported that four ex-cons now attend his church. A teacher from the South Side of Chicago claims that she’s started to get calls and wealthy donations for a new school to be built, saying they were encouraged to do so by Mr. Daub.

If you visited any village where Mr. Daub had just been, you would sense positive change. As the rest of the media has followed his movements (double-entendre fully intended) for the past three years, they’ve found that the towns he’s visited, because of the hope and inspiration he’s given the citizens, have stabilizing economies. Statistics of poverty, illiteracy and crime have gone down, and the immeasurable auras of morale and community have gone up.

But little is known about Mr. Daub before he was spotted on the media’s radar. He has no formal education in theology, public speaking, engineering, economics, culture or social work. Those outspoken and well-versed thereof (especially in theology) have challenged him and his works to frequent debate, but to no avail. His positive influence and large appreciation seem to speak for themselves. All the while, he seems to know how exactly to best give what he calls “new life” to whoever he sees, both on earth and what he believes to be eternal life, through the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Understandably, church attendance has also gone up.

Here north and outside of Nashville, a large group of people, numbering about 108,000, are waiting alongside I-65 for him to arrive in his humble ’89 Civic. This group from across the nation includes everyone from homeless people, telemarketers, a few CEO’s, pastors, and construction workers. They’ve actually covered the road with tarp and some of their own clothes. They’ve brought homemade welcome signs and seem very unified in their anticipation, as if they were all from the same town, one that Daub visited.

Nashville was once arguably the Christian capital of the nation. Now known for country music, it has lost much relevance in the cultural and political evolution in the country. It is now in Washington’s spotlight.

What will the rest of the country make of this event? Some believe that Mr. Daub, while his social work and charity has done undeniable good for portions of the nation, is only another conservative evangelical, spouting intellectual nonsense and, like some Christians, hoping for a restoration of Christian-inspired government that he supposedly misses. Others believe, though that he is of a line of innovative ministers of God’s Word that actually can and do “change the world,” and in a good way.

However Nashville and the country respond to Mr. Daub and his message over the next week will reveal much about us, and maybe humanity as a whole.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy Anticipated Birthday to My Car; How God Guides Me

(Just a disclaimer. If I was to presume stereotype, then almost no humans of the female persuasion would enjoy this next article. Consider that a warning.)

I really treasure my car. It’s been my faithful steed through more miles and circumstances than its predecessor. The reason I’m posting about this is because my ’02 Camry (“Misty,” as I once named it . . . her) is approaching the mile count where she will have had more miles with my at the steering wheel than her previous owner. She will be, more technically, mine.

March 2007. I was a betrothed, first-year seminary student in the north ‘burbs of Chicago, living with two college friends. At the time, my ’91 Camry (“Bluebell”), which had served me well in high school and college, was starting to really show its age. I couldn’t rely on it for big trips, and I knew that even more travel was imminent in the next few years. Bluebell retired and I sold her to an employee at my grad school for $200. Before she retired from my service, though, she passed the torch.

I found Misty, of all places, on the tacky and sometimes shady online classifieds known as Craig’s List. She was for sale from a man in a fairly close-by suburb and evidently had had a very healthy upbringing.

I actually bought my new car while my fiancee was on her college spring break, and it was already my job to pick her up from the airport. I decided to pull out my choir tux, put on think black gloves and pretend to be a limo driver, holding up a paper sign with “Christina Gilliland” (not her name yet) scribbled in Sharpie while she came down the escalator at the airport.

Little did I know how far my car would go at the time, having to tag along for all the unexpected turns our married life took.

The image above is a rough map of where my car (not me, just my car) has been since I’ve been driving it. (I was unable to include an anniversary trip to Lake Geneva and our attendance of a wedding of some grad school friends in Oshkosh). Each squiggle has a story (some are boring), whether it’s a road trip, a move, etc.

There is a certain degree where looking at that map, for me, is looking into my past and my journeys. There were many surprises, some good, some bad, but God worked them all out. I pray to continue to look upon further journeys with that attitude. Sometimes it's helpful to look at different types of maps.