Sunday, 9 November 2014

Are you anxious?

Today's REAP Readings: Mark 13-14

'Returning the third time, he said to them, "Are you still sleeping? Enough! The hour has come, Look, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise!Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!" (Mark 14:41}

Each year, at this time....a little bit of anxiety starts to build. Along with the normal routines of ministry and family life, there is the impending "Christmas" season that is almost upon us when the stores cry out that we must give more to our children. There is a small part of me that wants Christmas to be perfect, because it was the last thing I remember as a child before my parents broke up.

But each year as I can get sucked into a spending spree, I'm reminded just how messed up Christmas is and that some how I have to keep peeling back the paper and the plastic to find Jesus...

With my cuppa in hand this morning as I reflect on today's REAP readings in Mark, I'm reminded  that despite the normal busyness of life, despite the fact that the economy is counting on our Christmas spending,  Jesus is coming back.

"No one knows about the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be Alert! You do not know when that time will come" {Mark 13:32-33}

The anxiety is building here too in Mark's account. Jesus knows where he his heading, he knows the suffering that is coming. Listen to what Jesus says;

"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, he said to them "Stay here and keep watch" (v34)

As a child growing up, I only ever knew the "clinical" approach to Jesus...a statue I would gaze upon in church. But his emotions here are just like ours when we approach suffering. He suffered so that he would experience the brokenness of life.

My soul almost burst recently when a boy stuck in a cycle of poverty said to us, "I want to be the first in my family to get a job, to go to university, to follow Jesus"

You wont find this stuff at our house...
And there it is, that's what it's about isn't it, helping others find Jesus. Making the most of every opportunity to serve, to share the hope of Christmas that is not found in plastic junk (that never seems to last very long!).

But in the birth of a little baby, who grew up and died to save us, giving us a gift that no economy can afford...

Monday, 6 October 2014

Ever had a wart?

Today's REAP Readings: Job 20, Luke 19

 "As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace- but now it is hidden from your eyes" {Luke 19:41-42}

On a recent bushwalk with my kids, my eldest one piped up and said

 "Mum I think I'm being afflicted by Satan"

Well I didn't expect to hear that keeping a straight face I said, "why do you feel as though you're being afflicted?

"Well, I have a splinter, an ulcer in my mouth, and two warts on my foot"

With a smile growing on my face, I couldn't help but be reminded of the REAP readings in Job

"So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head" {Job 2:7}

Sure enough my son had been reading about Job in his Action Bible (awesome Bible for boys!) that morning and felt at one with him.

It's the same for us though, the moment we encounter a little suffering we start thinking we're Job.

There can be this perception that the moment you become a Christian, life starts getting a little easier, we start living a "Blessed" life, a life of peace & prosperity because God is on our side. And certainly it is a changed life and it truly is a "Blessed" life, but not in the way we think.

If you've been reading the gospel of Luke with us, then you'll know that Jesus never promised the type of "Blessed" life that we're hoping for. In fact the Pharisees were pretty disappointed that their hopes for the Messiah were not encapsulated by Jesus or his teachings.

Lets take a look so far in Luke;

The opening chapters set the scene, actually it's the Christmas story. The King of Kings and Lord of Lord comes into the world, not on a chariot, not with an army ready to take on Jerusalem. No, instead he comes as a vulnerable baby, unable to feed himself.

But then he grows up and 'became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him'{Luke 2:40}

The Pharisees never liked him because he challenged everything they ever knew. And the thing that Jesus keeps bringing up in front of them is their "pride", they were trusting in themselves. They had made the Law more important than loving God and others.

And now as Jesus approaches Jerusalem, a lost people. He weeps, because he knows what's coming, he weeps for a broken people that don't even realise how broken they are.

Their Messiah had come, the "Day" had finally arrived and yet soon they would crucify their own King.

He had come to suffer, and like Job this type of suffering was not a consequence of his own sin. He was being tested and he would prove perfectly faithful.

Our sin caused our Saviour's suffering.

So did I just laugh at my son's anguish about his "afflictions"? No way!! I was quietly excited that he was reading his Bible and identifying with Job. That moment was a golden opportunity to pray with him. Maybe God would take away his suffering, maybe not, but we did pray that through it he would come to trust in Jesus deeper, and isn't that God's goal for us when he allows us to suffer?