Lent 2014 - Tuesday, March 25th


Scripture Reading for Tuesday, March 25

Reading: Matthew 18:21-35

The Burden of Forgiveness

Forgiveness can be one of the hardest tasks we do as humans. When we are wronged it can feel good to hold onto the hurt and to withhold forgiveness because it gives us an edge over the other person. To be wronged, is to own a debt, and to have debts owed to us can often become a source of pride. We can rack up the wrongs of others into a collection so large that it begins to consume us until all we are is a walking museum of the hurts of our lives. Is that a healthy thing?

The short answer is no, it isn't.

In his book Great Expectations the author Charles Dickens writes of Ms. Havisham, a spurned bride. Her mansion sits unchanged from that fateful day; the tables sit decorated with settings in place for a feast, the cake is in place, and the ball-room cleared for dancing; however dust, rot, and decay permeate nearly every setting. Ms. Havisham wears a wedding dress worn to tatters. She is unable to forgive her lost love and feeds her wounded identity through her ward Estella, a beautiful young woman groomed to break men's hearts.

We all know one or two Ms. Havishams. People embittered by a life of hurt, consumed in their own self-pity. Certainly there is a better way for us than that. Jesus tells us that the way forward is forgiveness. To move past our hurts, not for the sake of others but for our own sakes. God expects that his gift of forgiveness would extend past us and to those that have wronged us as well. The wicked servants undoing in our passage was his unwillingness to extend the forgiveness of the king to his fellow servant.

Questions for Reflection or Journaling

  • How have you been hurt?
  • Have you forgiven those who have hurt you? Why or Why Not?
  • What does it mean that the forgiveness we extend starts in God, and not in us?


Father in heaven. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those that sin against us.


Lent 2014 - Monday, March 24th

Scripture Reading for Monday, March 24

Reading: John 12:23-32

But if you die

To be a servant of Jesus Christ is to follow him not just all of the way to his cross but through the cross and death and to the other side.

One of my favorite authors and theologians was Dietrich Bonhoeffer. While certainly he was just a man, he lived out his theology in a way few other academics are a a chance to. He is, in many ways, a modern day martyr, an image of what following Christ into death means. Central to Bonhoeffer's theology was this axiom, that to become a disciple is a call to death.

For some this death is a metaphorical one, it is the death of selfishness, pride, and those things which keep us from experiencing God's healing and restoration. For others this death implies not just a metaphorical release from the powers of human sin, but a literal death due to persecution at the hands of our enemy and those under his sway.

By following Jesus even into his death he transforms us inside and out. The seed becomes the plant that bears more fruit. If it remains a seed and never dies and bears fruit, it is eventually cast aside. To know Jesus, and to follow Jesus then is to die to those parts of us that would keep us the same as we started, to let the restoring power of God change us into something new and beautiful.

Questions for Reflection or Journaling

  • What scares you to death? Is it fearing how others perceive you? Is it the thought of loosing control?
  • What does your life look like under the transformation God provides in Jesus Christ? Do you have a seed-to-plant story?


Father in heaven, grant us today a glimpse of the day you will fulfill your will in us. As we follow your son, even into his death on the cross, we anticipate the knowledge of his resurrection and victory over death on the other side. Grant us today the strength to see your will through in our lives, and may we honor you.


Lent 2014 - Sunday, March 23rd - Third Sunday of Lent


Scripture Reading for Sunday, March 23

Reading: John 5:25-29

A Time is Coming

When we think of the term 'hope' it is often within the context of something that is yet to happen. 'Today is bad; but tomorrow will be better.' To hope is to anticipate, to look forward to something out ahead, something approaching. Certainly the disciples had waited their whole lives, and the Israelites as a whole for many generations for the arrival of their messiah.

Central to the hope of the Christian faith is that a world of suffering and death is not the full story or the end of the story. We cling to the hope that God will not only set things right again in our world, but that even those who have died will get to take part in God's restored creation. Resurrection is a core hope of the Christian faith.

The resurrection we hope for is not some George Romero zombie attack; rather it is the full restoration of humans to their humanity. It is life as God intended it to be; full, rich, significant, and everlasting. As followers of Jesus Christ we cling to the hope of the resurrection of Jesus not just because of what it means for him; but what it means for our future as well. A time is coming in which all who have and do worship the Lord of heaven and earth will be made whole through God's saving grace.

Questions for Reflection or Journaling

  • What do you hope for?
  • Where do you look for hope to come from? Finances? Friends? Spouse? Family? Is there lasting hope there?


*Father, you are not just our only hope, you are the giver of hope. Through Jesus Christ's death and resurrection we have a way made for us to turn from hopelessness to hope. Remind us today of our need to place our hope only in you.


Lent 2014 - Saturday, March 22nd

Scripture Reading for Saturday, March 22

Reading: Mark 5:1-20


The disciples and Jesus had just come ashore after a harrowing ride across the sea of Galilee. Jesus had stopped the wind and rain only for them to arrive at a place of the dead, the home of a man so crazed and demon possessed that chains and shackles could not hold him. This must have been one of the oddest of days (or couple of days) for the disciples. Jesus had saved them from the storm only to bring them into a devils den.

Certainly no one could have predicted what happened next as the league of demons living inside this unfortunate man asked to be allowed to move into a herd of pigs; a herd which then immediately ran themselves down the slopes and into the sea, drowning themselves. Whenever Jesus deals with the demonic realm those of us who have grown up in the West (America, Europe, etc.) probably cringe a little. This cringe is because we lack a cultural connection to the text. While certainly we understanding the concept of the demonic it is almost always something relegated to fiction, or the realm of mental illness.

In the West we have largely sought to turn evil into an unfortunate but understandable outcome of environmental factors like violence in the home, or the effects of war on the human mind. We have turned evil into a medical and mental diagnosis because it makes it easier to label and allows us to distance ourselves from anything suggested to be 'evil' in our own lives. We don't want to accept that within us, and within our world, there is real evil. An evil that seeks to steal, kill, and destroy.

Jesus came to be a light in the darkness. The light of Christ shows evil for what it is; however it is that same light that provides us with the ability to see our need for God and turn to him.

Questions for Reflection or Journaling

  • Do you dismiss any thought of the reality of evil spiritual forces out of hand? Why?
  • When the light of Jesus is shone on your life what does it highlight that you would rather keep hidden?


Father in heaven, protect us from Satan, our accuser and adversary. Guide us into your light which exposes and heals our own evil desires. Give us today the strength to turn to you in our time of trial.


Lent 2014 - Friday March 21st

Scripture Reading for Friday, March 21, 2014

Reading: Mark 4:35-41

A Little Terrified

We all have storms we weather in life, unexpected gales of wind and rain that seem to arrive out of nowhere and leave a mess in their wake. In the case of the disciples the storm they faced was a literal one; a water coming over the side, we may need to bale the boat, kind of storm. Either type of storm can cause fear.

After I learned to swim there are only handful of times when water scared me. One of those was a time adrift on a jet-ski. The swells had become larger than I could see over. Luckily we weren't far from an inlet and calmer waters, but having water bulging up over your head is scary even though there were no roaring winds and thundering skies.

How many times have we encountered the storms of life and felt as though God was asleep, that he was somewhere else while we suffered? Certainly Jesus was weary with so many demands weighing on him; and the nap was necessary because he was fully human. His response to the disciples fear seems a bit callous, "Why are you afraid?" Certainly the disciples perceived they were in danger, their senses told them that this might be the last voyage of Jesus and his disciples, their three-hour-tour doomed to wash ashore on some ancient Gilligan's Island. And yet they survived. Was Jesus admonishing them because Peter wasn't standing at the prow of the boat, chest stuck out, laughing at the storm?

When reading this story we often interpret Jesus' actions as supernatural, that is that Jesus did some kind of god-like magic and that fixed the problem. I would argue that there was nothing supernatural in the whole event. God's actions in nature are not somehow removed from nature itself and separate, rather because they are the actions of God they are part of the natural course of events, the source of nature itself. Certainly the stopping of the storm plays with our concepts of what is possible. Clearly it wasn't impossible, just not possible given the faith of the disciples.

God prefers to work in our lives by invitation. God does not force himself upon us, he is waiting for the invitation to join us, not because he couldn't intervene if he wanted; rather God respects the choices of his creation. The disciples weren't focused on inviting God into the situation to help bring about a resolution, instead they dwelt on their fear and in their fear they forgot that God was right there with them all along.

We often wait until the last minute to come to God with our struggles. We wait until the height of the storm to ask for God's intervention. What if we took advantage of the fact that God was with us all along? What if we realized that because God was with us, even the storm itself would pass and we would survive?


God, wake me to the constant presence of your holy spirit. Through the power of your Son you have brought about the means for our salvation. even when the real and figurative storms of our lives rage around us you are with us. Help us Lord.