The Power link.

“…because he has anointed me…”

Something unbelievable has happened, between the “He” and the “Me”. Read the phrase again; “Because he has anointed me.” Did you see it? Look again;

“He…has anointed…me.” There it is.

If you take out the middle two words, you an enormous gap between “He” and “Me”.

That’s the way it was for so long, not just for me, but for all of us. For many who claim his name, the gap still seems present, because there is something missing in the middle, but more on that later. First let’s look at the two ends of the equation.

He- God almighty! Pure, Holy, incomprehensible, inscrutable, sometimes completely baffling. His very thoughts are so foreign to our sense of reason and logic that there should be no way we could ever be together. His righteousness makes our morality look reprehensible. His vast wealth of knowledge makes the most academic of us look moronic. There is nothing in the universe that adequately defines or describes this other worldly being. Should you be surprised that He says and does things that leave you dumbfounded? Get a clue. This is no “Big guy upstairs” This is the very foundation and engineer of our existence. Without him any existence is its own hell. In his presence even the lowest circumstance is heavenly. He has no interest in being “cool” or “Hip” He isn’t scanning the polls to see if you approve, because like it or not, at the end of the day he was is and always will be God! Deal with it or deny it. It makes no difference, in the outcome, He is who he is. He doesn’t need the endorsement of science or the nod of Philosophy, or even the affirmation of religion. God will be God forever and ever amen. Now let’s look at the other end.

Me- Finite, broken, proud and fearful at the same time. Hungry for meaning yet full of my own sense of self. Desiring a pure world, as long as I can be bad when I want to. Insecure, yet proud enough to shake my fist at God if He lets it rain on my parade. Deeply loved, yet chasing false love from dead idols. My life is being written by the hand of my creator, but I’m trying desperately to steal the copyright. I want God on a leash, or no god at all. I’m the only part of creation that has the nerve to shake it’s fist at my maker and say, “Who are you to tell me what to do?” I have rebelled against God and blamed him for it. I am guilty, condemned, and rightly judged. In myself I have no hope. Yet I long for his presence, his love and his power in my life. Can I ever have it? Can the enormous Gap between He and me ever be bridged? This is where the good news comes in. Now we look at the phrase in the middle. the game changer

“…has anointed me…”

Anointing is power, privilege and authority outpoured. Ancient kings and priests were anointed with Holy oil, signifying an enormous privilege given from God. It’s a gift of grace poured out generously, covering every flaw, and embracing every place of brokenness. When Jesus first spoke these words about himself he was acknowledging a wonderful relationship with his father.

“He has anointed me…” – My father, in other words, has poured out his power, his privilege, and his authority on his son. Jesus walked in the middle of the sentence. He was the anointed one, that’s what “Christ” means…anointed. He walked in the generous outpouring of God’s authority, privilege and power. But there’s more. This ought to blow your mind and alter the way you look at your whole existence.

When Jesus said these words, he wasn’t just making a statement, he was setting a precedent. Jesus Christ became the first of many brethren, the Bible tells us. It tells us that, as he was, so are we in this world. It says, whoever says he believes in him ought also to walk even as he walked. Do you see it? Walking as Jesus walked is much more than good behavior and loving kindness. It’s walking…as…he walked. Check out his teachings again, his words are brimming with this reality! If you miss this you miss the whole essence of being a Christian. If Christ means, anointed, what do you think Christian means? Wake up church!

The anointed one has bridged the gap between He and Me. And everyone who follows him is given the same anointing of the Spirit, because we are more than converts to a religion we are sons and daughters of the king. Read Ephesians chapter one and see that you have access to the same power that heals the sick, casts out demons, and even raises the dead! Christ is alive in you and that is why you are alive! That truth, that you are anointed as sons and daughters of God and have access to all the power, privilege and authority he has should have one of two effects.

It shout make you shout or doubt.

Either it should make you shout with joy at such an unspeakable gift, or doubt that you are truly his. For without the spirit, the anointing, there is no Christianity, regardless of what you say you believe, or how much Bible you know or what church you attend. We are not born of doctrines, or the Bible, or the Church, but of the Spirit. We need those things for sure, but what makes us alive is Christ, the anointed one, who has anointed us to do what he did. Check yourself out today. Are you walking in the spirit or in self made religion?

Now go look in the mirror and say this, say it slowly and thankfully, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me….” He has bridged the gap. He has filled in all your broken places with the oil of grace. He has chosen you and redeemed you to go in his power, privilege and authority. Never forget that. Now go and help others fill in the gaps.

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The Divine Dance

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…”

 

The dance began before the first sunrise. The spirit of God was hovering over the primordial waters of a world yet to be. Brooding, pondering, whispering within his triune self. He wasn’t alone, he wasn’t needy. He wasn’t looking for a friend. He had all that within himself.

He was Father, Son and Spirit. Spirit, meaning breath, is life giving, creative, everlasting, impossible to quantify or pin down. Try to get your brain around him and your sense of reason will pop like a rubber band stretched beyond its limits. The Spirit of God will not be confined to the narrow test tube of the finite mind.

At some immeasurable point in pre-creation the creator said, “I want to dance!” From that desire to spin around and dip and cha-cha, the world was created. Light and dark were invited along with sun, moon and stars. As the ballroom, decorated with fields and forests, mountain ranges and deserts, glaciers and oceans, filled with life, the trinity laughed gleefully at all the crazy looking guests who kept showing up. Four footed critters, scampering and stomping, slimy finned swimmers and feathered flyers, all so wonderfully dressed for the dance of life. What a party this turned out to be!

But then, fashionably late, as you might expect, came the guests of honor. They came dressed in Divine glory. As you and I stepped into the ballroom all the other guests, stopped for a moment to Oooh and ahh. The creator smiled as his protégé’s stepped out onto the floor, gliding together with divine grace. Then they fell. They tripped over their own delusions and fell, making a terrible mess of things. It seems they allowed themselves to be distracted by an unwelcome guest, who has nothing better to do than steal, kill, and destroy. Sometimes the best way to deal with an unwanted guest is to show them the door. But the creator had a different idea. To all our surprise he let the party crasher stay for just awhile, just long enough to show the rest of us the futility of his ways. For awhile it looked like the party was over but rather than lose his composure the creator decided it best to clean up the mess and turn on some new music. A new song to dance to, if you will. The dance went on.

In fact the creator, in a wonderful act of gracious hosting, dressed himself up like his fallen children and began to dance with them, at least those who would accept the invitation. Most were too embarrassed or proud to join the dance, but some jumped right in and took hold of the hand of the divine dance master. They were the ones who enjoyed the dance while the others brooded in the corner of life feeling left out. God has initiated a dance, and too many of us are missing it, because we’d rather sit in a corner with our tiny cup of intellect in hand and make fun of those who aren’t afraid to get out on the floor and dance with the creator.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” These are the words of the best dancer who ever lived. In fact he’s the only dancer to get all the moves right. He came out on the floor and gave himself entirely to the dance. He saved the party.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” He said, meaning, “I’ve joined the dance of all dances. Infinity and humanity twirling and jumping, spinning and stepping in perfect synch, to the sounds of divine grace. It’s a powerful dance between God and humanity.” For awhile we watched him bust a move unlike anyone in the whole party. He gave himself completely to the dance of the Spirit. Then, before he left the party he said, “now it’s your turn. The Spirit wants to dance with you.”

And now we’ve been invited to join in. Awkward we may be, and in this ballroom we’ll never get it quite right. But still we’re invited to join in the dance. The dance master invites us out onto the floor. He holds out his hand and promises to guide us through each move. He promises that, though we may do some low dips now and then, he will never drop us, or send us away. We’ll dance with the Spirit, learning all the moves of grace, until this party is over and we enter the grand ballroom of forever, and there we will dance.

New Book Offer! Reflections of a Jesus follower Vol. 2

If you enjoyed reading my blog posts over the last few months, you may want to order my New Book, Reflections of a Jesus Follower, Volume 2. Based on the Gospel of Mark this is a collection of stories and reflections from the earliest of the four Gospels. The proceeds of my books are used to support my ministry to unreached and developing nations. Follow the link below to purchase.
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Then he saw you.

Then he saw you.

Mark 16:14-20

“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world…’ ” v. 15

Yeshua just stood there in the corner of the room grinning and drinking in the reactions. Mary Magdalene squealed an “I told you to so.” type of laugh, then settled into her normal “Don’t mess with this girl.” stance, while the two who had seen him earlier stood together like a couple of bosses. The rest were frozen in disbelief. Then the reality seized them.

The silent shock evaporated into shouts, and tears. Yeshua held out his hands and embraced them all. Simon Peter nearly trampled the others to the floor and embraced his Lord, both men sobbing for the longest time.

After nearly an hour of embracing and talking, apologizing and forgiving each other all of them reclined around the table on the floor. Yeshua seemed to get a kick out of them staring at him while he ate. Crumbs and drops of wine don’t fall from the mouth of a ghost. Eventually he got them to eat as well. John nearly passed out when Yeshua decided to have some fun. He lifted up his wrist and peered through the hole at the beloved disciple, making him a bit queasy. After that everyone laughed and relaxed a little.

Usually meals together involved a great deal of mundane chatter, but what do you talk about at a time like this? When everything you thought was gone forever is suddenly given back to you, at your least deserving moment, what do you say in return? How do you say thanks in the face of such amazing grace? Moments like these are rare and only happen by the grace of God. They are neither earned nor deserved, they are just granted and received and passed on to others. Such a gift is never fully received until the recipient pays it forward. That is what Yeshua would tell them to do.

Eleven men and a few women sat there basking in this miracle of miracles. There was no doubt that they were dining in the very presence of God. They all marveled at such a gift, especially Simon Peter. They all wondered what they could possibly do in return. Yeshua, looked around the room. Before speaking he peered with a loving intensity into each of them. His gaze seemed to embrace each one completely, despite their weaknesses, fears and doubts. These were his brothers and sisters forever. In his eyes his saints were flawless. He saw what the future held for each of them. He saw how they would live, where they would go, what they would suffer and how they would die. Then he looked farther.

He saw generations of believers from every tribe, every tongue and every nation hearing his name, joining him at his table along with these. He saw men and women of all races and stations in life, kings, queens, thugs, terrorists, prostitutes, professors, and all sorts receiving his grace and passing it along until every nation on earth knew his name.

He continued to look. He saw some things that hurt to think about. He saw crusades and so-called “Holy wars”, inquisitions and witch hunts, and all sorts of evil done in his name. He saw wealthy religious empires trampling the poor into the dust. He saw church splits, political games, and sexual abuse perpetrated by those claiming to serve him. He saw self satisfied saints pushing people out rather than bringing them in, easy believism with no call to follow, and a gospel that calls people to a false prosperity. But even through all of those things he foresaw, he knew it would be worth it. Such darkness would serve only to form a contrast to accentuate the light.

Despite the darkness he saw billions saved and changed through the centuries. He saw Hospitals, orphanages, universities and charitable organizations, all birthed by the true work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. He saw faithful grandmothers kneeling beside their beds, saints sharing pieces of forbidden scriptures in prisons, and little children bringing their shiny offerings to Sunday school to help the missionaries around the world. He saw good neighbors caring for each other and faithful churches transforming communities. He saw innumerable seeds of grace springing up across the centuries. But do you know what he saw that really touched his heart? What really made it worth all the toil and perils?

He saw you. He saw you in this moment. Right here. Right now hearing his gospel. He saw you being invited to come, just as you are with all your good and bad, all your strength and weakness, all your joy and brokenness, and join him at this table of incredible grace and pass it on. When he saw the look in your face he smiled and said to his Apostles:

“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation….”

And that is the beginning of the gospel. It begins afresh every time someone joins him at the table. Let it begin with you today, and every day let it begin again, until the whole world knows.

Did he or didn’t he?

Mark 16:9-13

“and they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.” v. 13

“Enough!” Peter shouted. His eyes were weary with grief but still had enough fire in them to burn your skin right off. In three years the disciples had learned when to back off and just let the big fisherman alone.

“I expect such tales from that crazy Magdalene woman, but you should know better! He’s dead! Gone. And if I hear any more of these wishful stories you just might join him. Besides if he were alive do you think he’d ever trust us again?”

Peter stormed out and climbed up on the roof top to be alone.

The two who had claimed they had seen Yeshua sat on the floor and looked hopefully around the room to the others. The other eight men swam around in awkward silence trying to avoid eye contact. It was clear that no one in the room was ready to believe that Yeshua was actually alive. After a few moments the silence gave way to Levi’s words to the two men.

“Brothers, I know these have been terrible days for you..for all of us. There is not a man here who would not want to see Yeshua alive again….”

“Levi we talked with him!…He said…” Levi holds his hand up.

“I know you two met someone who reminded you of him, and you felt a fire burning in your heart. Maybe God sent someone along who reminded you of Yeshua to comfort you. It’s okay to feel this way, but He’s gone. You’re going to have to face that.”

The two looked hopelessly at one another. One started to speak, but the other said, “It’s no use. We shouldn’t have expected…”

Bartholomew tried to reason with them. “You know brothers, in a sense Yeshua is alive. In our hearts. Yes. In a spiritual way. We can believe he is alive, because he lives in our memory.”

The two didn’t respond, but the others seemed to take comfort in that. Then from the entrance of the room another voice cutting through the dusty air.

” Leave it to a group of men to miss the obvious!” Dumbfounded, the men turned to see Mary Magdalene glaring at them like a mother reprimanding her sons. Then she mockingly waved her hands and pranced around the room mimicking Bartholomew’s words in a deep man voice,

“Maybe he lives in our memory. Maybe in a Spiritual sense he is alive. Blah Blah Blah! Are you serious? Why did Yeshua call such thickheaded men!”

She stood there with both hands on her hips, and in a confrontive stance. One they had seen from her many times. Andrew looked at the stairway praying Peter didn’t come down. She just glared defiantly, “Where is that Simon Peter! Bring him down here. He doesn’t scare me!”

Nobody moved.

“Look at you little boys, sitting here feeling sorry for yourselves. Three of us have seen him in person, The other women went to the tomb and it’s empty….”

Thaddeus weakly suggested, “Maybe somebody stole him…”

“From under the noses of Roman soldiers, they moved a gigantic stone, and just walked away with a dead body? I suppose the whole squad just happened to fall asleep at the same time, and nobody heard the noise.” Mary placed both fingers on her temples and closed her eyes.

“Men”

The another said, “Um maybe Yeshua wasn’t really dead and when he came too he pushed the stone and escaped….”

Everyone laughed at the idea of that one. A man having endured such blood loss, suddenly finding the strength to move a half ton stone then sneak past a squad of soldiers,undetected, didn’t seem too likely.

Mary Magdalene looked out the window then at the two who had claimed to see him alive. Then she took a deep breath and spoke a final word. By this time Simon Peter was standing at the end of the staircase. Mary fired the next words right between his eyes.

“You men have a decision to make. You can sit here and rationalize and feel sorry for yourselves, coming up with theories you can feel comfortable with if you want to. You can all sneak back to your lives acting as if nothing happened, and forget all Yeshua has done. That will certainly be easier. Or you can put on your big boy clothes and take a chance that maybe Yeshua, as always, did what he said he would do. He said he would be killed and on the third day rise again. So did he or didn’t he? ”

Then she turned, threw up her hands and walked out, “Men! Can’t do anything with them.”

Leave your spices on the ground.

Mark 16:1-8

“When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome brought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.” v. 1

The Sabbath was over. A long dark night gave way to piercing orange rays washing over the landscape. The first sounds of morning could be heard in Jerusalem. The animals waking in stalls, millstones beginning the slow mundane grind and bakers kindling fires to announce the beginning of a normal week. Before the morning sun finished prodding the roosters awake three women, laden with burial spices, plodded their way to the place of Yeshua’s burial. They needed to finish the chapter. They sought some kind of closure. They needed a final goodbye, a way to pay respect, a way to move on.

The Sabbath had been everything except a day of rest. How do you take a day off from a broken heart? Each these women had found a new life in Yeshua. Since each of them met him, each in a unique way, from a different set of circumstances, they had found in him the one person in the world who could make sense of their existence. The world had treated them as less than human, pieces of property to be traded for goods. They had been forced into life’s outer court simply because they were women. But Yeshua had brought them into the inner court and called them Princesses in the Father’s kingdom. To them he was life. Purpose. Meaning. The Sabbath was spent quietly weeping. There comes a point in sadness when all a soul can muster is a blind stare into nothingness. You just sit and look into the abyss unable to speak, think or even feel until morning comes.

Sunday morning found them walking together. Three women, who apart from their association with Yeshua, were so different there may have been no reason for them to ever associate with one another under normal circumstances. Yeshua had a way of bringing people together who normally would have been estranged. Now they are bound by one thing, the only thing of any real consequence, their love for Yeshua. They chatted as they walked.

They chatted about spices. They laughed quietly about the things they would have to do later that day, the weather, children and such. After such an emotionally taxing few days, there was something soothing about small talk as they made their way. Then Salome, being the more practical of the three, had a question.

“How are we going to get into the tomb?”

“We can ask the guards to help us!” Mary said sarcastically.

“Oh they’ll help us alright! Help us find our way home!” They snickered. They had little confidence that the guards would be of any help.

“Maybe we could bribe them with our vast riches.” The women laughed. But still they walked on. They had no idea how they would get into the tomb, but something compelled them forward.

As they drew closer to the tomb, Mary, the mother of James, said, “Sisters, we have to do this. Let’s just get there. I don’t know why but I have the feeling that something will…open…up” She froze, taking hold of her sisters, and dropping her bag of spices. Soon all three women were struck with panic.

The guard detachment was gone, replaced by random hurried foot prints. The Governors seal broken and the massive stone moved away from the entrance. The women looked at one another afraid to move for the longest time, then arm in arm, spices left in a pile on the ground behind them, they moved cautiously into the tomb. Mary screamed at the man sitting on the slab next to a folded burial cloth. Fearing the worst they backed toward the entrance to attempt an escape. Then he spoke.

“Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 

Then he was gone. Three terrified women stood in the tomb, frozen. Eventually Salome spoke.

“We have to leave before they return.” “Who?”

“The soldiers! If they find us here they will think we’ve…” She hurried them out and urged them to run with her. Between breaths as they stumbled quickly back to Jerusalem they asked;

“Who was that man? What was he talking about? Where is Yeshua?”

Back at Salome’s house the women sat fearfully replaying what the man in the tomb had said. Mary’s eyes widened and her mouth quivered as she repeated slowly,

“He is going before you to Galilee…there…you will…see him…just as he told you.”

“It can’t be…oh…my…G….” Then the light came on.

Three sets of eyes widened simultaneously as the pieces came together. They screamed in unison and ran to find the disciples…