To keep us in the Good Book, we’ll keep our eyes on Jesus during the Passion week through the Gospel of Mark. If you click here, you can see a daily reading plan for next week…starting on Palm Sunday and going throughout the rest of the week up till Resurrection Sunday and beyond.
Here’s a picture of our house church commissioning Mike, Christina & Zach to begin a new house church in The Ohio State University Campus area. Christina has been hanging out with us for the last three years and exhorting us to reach out…and now God has called her and others to go and do it. Mike has been with our house church about eight months and Zach just became a Christian about three months ago and was baptized a month ago. We are excited about what God has in store for them…and for our house church as we pray for and shepherd them and as we find another pocket of people to focus on!
I got the following email this week:
You might be interested to know that 3 people at Millwood Chapel (Etna Green, IN) completed the Proverbs 8x in 8 weeks challenge. I reminded them every week what week we were on and yesterday I announced that the end had come, and for all who had finished to report to me.
Additionally, we had several people who initially started the challenge, so they read through several times and I even had one guy say that after reading Proverbs through a few times he switched over to Hebrews. So my people are reading the Word. One of the fellas who finished Proverbs is a guy who, quite honestly, I did not think stood a chance. Wow! Was I wrong! Thanks for the challenge.
What an encouragement! I hope your were pushed forward. Ineed to know if you finished the challenge as well. I have a gift for each person who finished it. Just let me know and I’ll get you your reward!
One last thing, I had the opportunity to fast with a group of folks from thequest yesterday. That was the first time I have fasted in a while. It was a good day for focusing prayer on the birth of our new house church at Ohio State. It also was used by the Lord to challenged me to fast and pray more often.
The Lenten season is a great time to fast. Saints have done it for centuries. I’m gonna do another day this coming week.
Maybe you never have done it, I’d encourage you to pursue it. You can talk to me about it or here is a little website that could help you with the details of it. 7 Basic Steps to Successful Fasting & Prayer I’d encourage a day-long fast to start and then see what God wants you to do next.
I got blown away by a couple of Scriptures this week. We were talking about the relationship between Jesus and the Father in the INSTITUTE. We looked at Jesus breaking into prayer prior to raising Lazarus from the dead. Jesus says, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so they will believe you sent me.” (John 11:41-42 NLT)
Jesus has this tremendous relationship with the Father that spurs on prayer. We get the sense through the Gospels that Jesus at the drop of the hat talks with the Father. Their interchange was constant and ongoing. In the middle of a miracle, Jesus connects with the Father.
Then we looked at a passage a chapter later where Jesus is prepping the disciples for His death. After Palm Sunday, Jesus is teaching about true disciples: Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who despise their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. All those who want to be my disciples must come and follow me, because my servants must be where I am…
Those are some hard verses. Some true verses. But some real rewards too. Jesus goes on…
…And if they follow me, the Father will honor them…
As Jesus is speaking the weight of the reality of “despising his life in this world” is very heavy. He knows his death is around the corner. He is talking to those gathered around him, then he breaks into prayer in the middle of this teaching moment. Look at this…
Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from what lies ahead’? But that is the very reason why I came! Father, bring glory to your name.
The Father hears this precious prayer. Like Jesus said, He always hears. But something very unique happens in this communication between the Father and Jesus. The Father talks back…
…”Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought it glory, and I will do it again.” When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him.
Jesus and the Father carry on a dialog…a real conversation! Out loud for others to hear in real time and real space. It was reality!
Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine…” (John 12:25-30 NLT)
This conversation was for their benefit and for ours. We so often forget that we have a real dialog with the Father and with Jesus. They always hear us and they speak to us. I’m not advocating that thundering voice from the sky each time that God speaks to us. I am reminded of the fact that we are having a real conversation with a real God in real time and in real space as we pray. What a joy for us to CONVERSE WITH GOD!
I hope you enjoy your dialog with Him today, tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…
We are in the Lenten period and it is only a short time till our remembrance of the passion and resurrection of Jesus. It’s a great time to reflect and talk about Jesus. As it emerges in your conversations…talk about your story and Jesus’ story!!!
As we keep our eyes on Jesus, I read a story this week we I wanted to pass on to you
It is not difficult to be a Christian…
From: Petrus Kristian
“My name is Petrus Kristian. I am the oldest son of Pastor Ishak Kristian, who was burned to death a few years ago. It happened on October 10, 1996. At 11:30 A.M., about twenty people came and surrounded the church. My father, the pastor, tried calming those angry people, but they did not move away from the church. My father went into the house and prayed with six other people, including the rest of my family.
“Thirty minutes later, about 200 people came on foot bringing many kinds of tools. They started smashing the church building and parsonage. Six of the people in the house, including my father, ran and hid in a room at the back of the house. The other person hid upstairs where he was safe. Some of those angry people saw them and told them to get out of the room. Since they did not leave, the people started burning the building.
“One of those seven people, Didit (a church worker) ran through the fire and escaped. My father, mother, sister, cousin, and a church worker were trapped in the house and burned to death.
“During the fire, the local police did not take any action, probably because they were afraid of the mob. I hurried to the church at 1:30 P.M. but by that time, all were gone. The army, whose military base was four kilometers from town, were at military training elsewhere and were not available. When they arrived at 5:00 P.M. to guard the area, everything was in ashes.
“The night before the funeral, a local government official apologized. He advised me not to take revenge. He also said that the incident might be my family’s fate. (This is Muslim teaching — the will of Allah.)
“At first, I was really disappointed because I lost all of my beloved people. But this made me realize that material things around me are not eternal or worth loving. After the fire, most of our congregation became stronger in faith.
“Because we have Jesus, it is not difficult to be a Christian, although there are many oppressions.”
Whatever we do, it is because Christ’s love controls us…. Those who receive his new life will no longer live to please themselves. Instead, they will live to please Christ, who died and was raised for them.
Paul the Apostle
Martyred in Rome, 65 AD
(2 corinthians 5:14,15 nlt)
from: Jesus Freaks by dcTalk and Voice of the Martyrs (Bethany House: 1999) p. 228-229
Because we have Jesus…it is not difficult to be a Christian WOW!