Faith & Reason ... a mystery

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Making Life Easier


Jesus said, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle." -Matthew 11:29 (NRSV)

On Monday night, I saw an amazing pair of oxen and their young handler at work on TV. This young man had reared the oxen from calves and spent countless hours training them. I sensed a special bond between the handler and his team.

Most teams of oxen are handled by two assistants because the animals become so excited that they start pulling even before they are hitched to the weight. This young handler, however, worked alone. The oxen waited patiently to hear his command; when it came, they made a terrific pull. "Look at that," exclaimed the announcer. "He doesn't have to drive them! He simply asks them to pull!" While other handlers sometimes used whips and harsh words, it took only a few gentle words from this young man for the animals to pull for him.

Christ is like that handler. Seeing the oxen yoked together, I understood more completely what Jesus meant when he said his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Christ is patient with us. He knows that we are capable of much good. Because Christ's voice is gentle, we need not be afraid. When he calls, we can respond out of love, allowing him to guide us. Because Jesus cares for us, our burden is light.

Sharing our yoke with Jesus makes this life of hope possible. I pray for you often. You know I love ya, Don

Monday, April 25, 2011

He is Risen...Come Awake!

If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. - 1 Corinthians 15:17 (NRSV)

We have been in a five week study of the evidences of the Resurrection of Jesus. Yesterday morning, Easter 2011, was absolutely electric in the Park Chapel Worship Center. We were celebrating because the resurrection gives us hope! Richard Garland wrote:

ISRAEL'S Roman occupiers had an answer for troublemakers: nail them to a cross! The cross should have been the end of Jesus, scattering his friends and followers. It took amazing courage for the women to come near Jesus' borrowed grave site. But what they discovered would turn the world upside down: "He is not here; for he has risen."

Resurrection lies outside the realm of ordinary proof. But sometimes proof can come from something neither visible nor understood. For example, Einstein predicted that a large source of gravity could actually "bend" space, causing light rays to change direction. Later, demonstrating this change of direction proved Einstein's theory.

So consider Jesus' dispirited disciples and friends, hiding, fearing for their lives. Yet they became a force that changed the world. Something changed them profoundly. We cannot prove or even fully comprehend the Resurrection, but we can see its effect as the disciples experienced Jesus alive again.

Without the Resurrection, the cross would be only a harsh reminder of human cruelty. But the Resurrection "bends the light" to reveal what has been hidden, showing that even death does not stand in the way of the power of Love.

The evidence is overwhelming! Jesus Christ is alive. Easter is the greatest day that ever dawn from the greatest story ever told of the greatest life ever lived! We have hope, may we never stop living it! You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Passion Week Summarization

Sunday: Triumphal entrance at the eastern gate of the temple.

Monday: Fig Tree cursed; Temple cleansing

Tuesday: Jesus authority questioned; Intense teaching of the next temple and the future.

Wednesday: Quiet.

Thursday: Passover Preparation, Passover Meal, Disciples argue about "greatness", Washing the disciples feet, Judas' early exit, Communion/Lord's Supper commissioned, Jesus' teaching in John 15-17, & The Garden of Gethsemane Prayers.

Friday: The arrest int he Garden, the trials before the Jewish authorities, King Herod and then to Pilate, the flogging and beatings, Suicide of Judas, Crucifixion around 9 AM, Jesus' death around 3 PM, Nicodemus & Joseph of Arimethia take down the body and place it in entombment before 6 PM.

Saturday: A day of rest...no events.

Sunday: Jesus defeats death and RISES FROM THE DEAD!

50 days later: Returns through the Holy Spirit

Today: Working among His people and changing lives for Powerful living!

Thank you Dave Woods for this great summary of Jesus' passion week. Have a great Easter! You know I love ya, Don

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Start of Easter Week!

God made [Christ] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. -2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)

I remember one Sunday when I was a in my teens. There was a wall in my Sunday school classroom covered with newspaper clippings bearing disturbing words and images. Then I noticed a large piece of paper spread on top of them. It bore one word: Sin. And there was something even larger layered on top of it all - the shape of a large cross.

I know Jesus took my sins away by giving his life on the cross. But seeing that cross covering those images helped me to better understand what Christ did when he took the sin of the world upon his shoulders. I began to ponder the words in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

I am a firm believer in justice, but I am tremendously thankful that our God is a God of mercy. Because of this mercy, the moment we accept God's sacrifice, acknowledge our sin, and proclaim Christ as our savior, we are free - free to live life as God intends it to be and to welcome death as a portal into God's presence.

Thankful for you this Easter...you know I love ya, Don

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday....?


Palm Sunday is the day we remember the "triumphal entry" of Jesus into Jerusalem, exactly one week before His resurrection (Matthew 21:1-11). Some 450-500 years earlier, the Prophet Zechariah had prophesied, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). Matthew 21:7-9 records the fulfillment of that prophecy: "They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!’” This event took place on the Sunday before Jesus' crucifixion.

In remembrance of this event, we celebrate Palm Sunday. It is referred to as Palm Sunday because of the palm branches that were laid on the road as Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem. For more information click questions...You know I love ya, Have a great Palm Sunday! Don

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I am Accepted!


[God] chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. -Ephesians 1:4 (NRSV)

ALL my life I have yearned and worked for acceptance. Getting good grades, working overtime, striving to please anyone, even accepting unkind treatment from others -- I did anything to win approval. When Dad died two weeks before my 17th birthday, my desire for approval seem to just increase. I felt I wasn't as worthy of love, even though everyone I loved seemed to offer it freely.

As I matured approval did not seem to meet the need of acceptance. In loosing Nicholas, I have become even more aware that approval is not the goal. We did everything we could to save him. We prayed, surrendered our hearts, and used every known medical treatment yet still his little heart was not able to maintain life. In this loss, I am finding that I am not alone in the desire for acceptance. I understand that even the most confident among us struggle with acceptance. We all need approval for who we are inside. This is why some actors and other public personalities live or die by the whims of a fickle public. Yet, the Lord accepts us as we are and than loves us beyond acceptance.

But even if we win applause and trophies, the emptiness we experience can be filled only by God. Why? Only faith in God brings true security. Because God accepts us, we can become whole persons. But this is the work of Christ and not because of anything we have done; we can't be good enough or achieve enough to earn God's acceptance. Out of love and boundless grace -- and regardless of our past, our failures, our sins,, and our losses -- God accepts us.

Thank you for reading and for accepting these thoughts...please know I accept you and you know I love ya, Don

Monday, April 11, 2011

THE EVENT!


The EVENT that changed history, the event that darkened the sun, the event the shook the ground, and the event that defined all eternity is the event of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. This event is a mystery to the world and its views on life. This event confuses even the wisest of minds and brings the brightest achievers to a standing halt. The world still asks the question if it was all a lie or if there is truth in the Easter story.

The Passion Week at Park Chapel is filled with discovery of the above-mentioned events. The power of the Cross of Christ is still as relevant today as it ever was in the past. As a body of Christ-followers, we are going to study, worship, and celebrate the awesome message and puzzling mystery of the Event, we call Easter.

While it may seem that all of this occurred on a hill too far away, too far removed from our life to speak to us, we cannot stand in the distance and expect to experience the magnitude of the cross. We must draw near, listen, and experience the gruesome reality it took to pay for sin. We must face what we can never understand. We must confront the ravaged spotless Lamb to gain just a glimpse of our stain of sin. The cross cannot be explained away. The cross cannot be ignored. The cross cannot be stripped of its cruelty and shame. The cross cannot and will not be denied. The Event of the Cross and Resurrection remains an open invitation to come to the place of mercy and grace. It is the way of the cross the leads us to an abundant eternity.

In preparation for this event, the Worship Choir & Orchestra will be rehearsing the Park Chapel 2011 Easter Musical, “The Event.” It is a musical built from the well-known book by John Fischer, “On A Hill Too Far Away” and the musical arrangements from the musical of the same title. Through its one hour presentation the audience and participants will seek to find how to put the Cross’ mystery back in to the center of our lives and our culture.

The presentation of this multimedia musical will be presented twice in order to accommodate the large crowds we typically draw for our musicals. The first of the identical presentations will be Friday, April 15th at 7:00 PM and the second will be Sunday, April 17th at 7:00 PM. There is no charge for this presentation from our Fine Arts department. Mark your calendars and plan to attend. For direction check out www.Park Chapel.org.


You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How do you measure yourself....?

Let the grace of the Lord be the measure of your sufficiency;
Let the peace of the Lord be the measure of your quietness;
Let the power of the Lord be the measure of your strength;
Let the goodness of the Lord be the measure of your contentment;
Let the love of the Lord be the measure of your service;
Let the faithfulness of the Lord be the measure of your trust;
Let the beauty of the Lord be the measure of your worship;
Let the fullness of the Lord be the measure of your joy;
Let the sovereignty of the Lord be the measure of your confidence;
Let the promises of the Lord be the measure of your expectations;
Let the coming of the Lord be the measure of hope.

You are my portion, O Lord. Psalm 119:57 AMP

You know I love ya and you measure up...you are wonderfully made by the Creator Himself!!! Don

Monday, April 4, 2011

Wait Until Then...

A vision for the appointed time ... speaks of the end. ... If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. -Habakkuk 2:3 (NRSV)

What is it mean to say soon? Yulia G. Bagwell of Pennsylvania, USA wrote:

After my first semester in seminary in the U.S.A., I returned to my homeland, Ukraine, for a visit. Upon leaving, I told my family that I would return again soon. Each of us had a different understanding of "soon" -- in six months, in a year, after graduation. But no one really thought that my second return would take so long. Six years have passed, but I have not been home again yet.

When my parents heard that I had finally received permanent-resident status in the U.S.A., they expected me to come home at any moment. In preparation for my expected arrival, they make sure they have a good provision of everything. Their waiting is so intense. Every time they hear a car passing by their house, they hope it is me arriving. But it is not. "Maybe tomorrow," they say.

In Acts 1:11 we read about Jesus leaving his disciples. They believed he would be back soon. In 1 Thessalonians Paul praises the believers in Thessalonica for their deeds of love while waiting for Christ's second coming. How many more saints have been waiting for Jesus' return during the past 2,000 years! As we still wait, we serve Christ in those around us, while saying, "Come, Lord Jesus, come!"

I feel I am in a waiting room. What is next in the marching orders from God? Another way of saying it is that I am living in my Saturday. On Friday, the Lord Died. On Sunday, He rose again. Yet, on Saturday everyone had to wait. I am finding many people live in a Saturday mentality. Always looking for Sunday to come. I am one of those people, waiting to get beyond grief and looking to have new insight into what is to come.

So, until then I cling to the hope that is gained in faith and belief in a resurrected Lord. I also seek to find every joy in the moment of today and the time of waiting. You know I love ya, Don


Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools Day

1957: The respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied, "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best." Happy April Fools!

No Fooling around, you know I love ya, Don