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Exploring the Adventure of Aging

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Thanksgiving 2014 Day Nine: When my Life Offends Sin

In a Sunday School class once, a healthy discussion of how ‘different’ we Christians needed to be sprung up. Not one of us wanted to be beating folks over the head with the Bible, but surely there was more to living a Christ-like life than just hoping others outside the faith would notice how good we were being. We all had known some pagans who led morally exemplary lives by the World’s standards. And likewise, I thought to myself, my life viewed by others might not demonstrate Christ to the world.

One person in the group said, “We should use Christ as our example and he never offended anyone.” Several heads nodded. Then a soft male voice broke in to our shared agreement.

“Well, He offended someone, because He ended up on a cross.”

That factual statement turned the discussion and though I cannot speak for the others it has stayed with me since.

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Turning to the gospels, looking at the prophets before Jesus, I find a pattern of living that doesn’t quite fit in with the culture, a manner of speaking the word of God so others are engaged, a heart that really cares and wants to prevent the World from “going to hell in a hand basket.” I sometimes forget that while Jesus spoke his most condemning words toward the self righteous, the leaders of the religious order, HE did it so that they would turn and be saved.

And we know that at least three Pharisees were: Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and Saul of Tarsus.

Hard as insult, persecution, and lies aimed at me are when they come because of my Christianity, because of Christ, I am blessed. I don’t need to purposefully seek to OFFEND, in fact, if I set out to offend then I am really off base. Nevertheless, I must be prepared to live and speak from the heart of Grace as one beggar offering another beggar a place to find bread.

I must see all insults to Christians everywhere as insults to Jesus and pray for Christians throughout the world. Hard as it is I must rejoice and be glad because great is their reward in heaven.

Lord Jesus, when we participate in your suffering because of our lives lived in your name, we are blessed. I give you thanks for this life of grace You have given. Amen

Ten Days In, Need a Promise for Lent?

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For those Christians participating in this season of Lent through intentional soul searching, sacrifice, and seeking, frankly, even those who are not, today is the 10th Day of Lent, a quarter of the 40 days leading to Easter.

One beautiful and tragic truth about the calendar and time

It marches forward, there is no going back

Time for those of us in human form marks the days, the hours

And it does so relentlessly

Without any “hitting the pause” button or “rewinding”, without my control

Like the poem, “Into the valley of death marched the six hundred”*

Marching like the Grand Old Duke of York’s men, “up the hill” and “down again” **

Reaching that magical peak of life, younger for some, older for others, before the after,

beginning the downward march or on more days than I care to admit the “SLIDE”

I can look back, but I cannot go back

So forward I go….whether through Lent to Holy Week or through Advent to Epiphany

Season after season of life in this fragile flesh, with a finite mind and limited mastery

Remembering, Reenacting, but not Returning

So it was when the Incarnation occurred, Suddenly God became man

Christ Jesus, The Lord in the form of a baby and grew up to be a man

Came to be trapped by the movement of time

He Who knew the freedom from the calendar chose to be tied to the days and nights

Of human fleshly existence, no going back, no going back

Eyes fixed on a Cross, unlimited power and authority self-limited for those few years,

So that beaten, battered, bullied, the brunt of mockery stinging,

He struggled up the Via Delarosa, up Calvary’s hill bearing my sins

He struggled upward on the downhill side of His life as a man for you and me

In the darkness of despair, with the ugliness of all sin from beginning to end on him

The weight, the ways of the world infusing His dying form, God Left HIM,

Still human, Still divine but briefly separated from the Father

MY GOD, MY GOD, Why have You forsaken me?

He knew it was coming and still he continued…..

So here I am 10 days into Lent, considering the work Christ has done for me, the sacrifices made, the power of the Cross, the power of his resurrection. And then in Philippians I read:

For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6 NET)

And I am reassured by the promise. He continues to work in me…to perfect me, to lead me to stand closer to the Cross as He leads me forward in time to that level land.

Teach me to do what pleases you, for you are my God. May your kind presence lead me into a level land. (Psalms 143:10 NET)

*Charge of the Light Brigade” Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1854
**The Grand Ole (Noble) Duke of York, English Nursery Rhyme

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