In my opinion, this is one of the best times of year! March madness is in full swing, the weather is starting to get warmer (that was more of a big deal when I lived in Colorado, it's pretty warm in San Diego all year), and... baseball season is starting TODAY! I can't wait. Opening day of the baseball season is always so fun. My prediction from a few weeks ago still stands. I think the Rockies will win the West and I think they will win the series.
Today I saw an article posted on espn.com that said the San Fransisco Giants took down all of the pictures, plaques for the records, and basically every memory of Barry Bonds - because of the allegations of steroid usage. What a crock! There is no doubt in my mind that Bonds used steroids, I mean the man's head grew to the point where he looked like a caricature of his former self. But are the Giants trying to tell me that they didn't know that Bonds was on roids last year when he broke Aaron's record? Of course they did... it just benefited them because he was hitting tons of home runs and they were selling out the stadium every game because people wanted to see him play. Now that he is not on the team anymore (and the Giants have already reaped the benefits for having him there when he set the record) they are taking down all memory of him.
That is what we call relativistic morals. When something benefits us, it is okay, but when it stops benefiting us, it becomes wrong. While it's easy to point the finger at the Giants and accuse them of having relativistic morals, I constantly need to check my own heart for the same thing. I think in the church we need to check for the same thing as well. Do we allow certain things because they benefit us? Do we stand up for what is right even when it is hard and when it's going to cost us? See, the Giants could have easily found out that Bonds was taking roids and then cut him from the team... but that would have cost them money, fans, etc...
Are we willing to count the cost of doing what we think is right?
Next week I am starting new series that I am going to call Beautiful Collision. We are going to be studying the book of Colossians. As I have read through this book a few times over the last few days, I am just amazed at how Christological the book really is. I hope that the people at The Well are struck with the truth of what happens when the gospel really collides with our life. My hope is that we might be changed as we see Christ for who He really is.
So, this Friday night Kelly and I went to bed around 11pm... yeah, I know we are party animals! Well, at about midnight we both woke up to what we thought was an earthquake. We looked at each other, I asked if she felt it also, and by that time the shaking had stopped. We both wrote it off to just being really tired.
Today I found out that there actually was an earthquake on Friday night. I guess it was a 2.8 on the richter scale and was based in Ramona (about 15 miles from us). The crazy thing about it was that this Friday was Good Friday! 2,000 years ago there was also an earthquake as Jesus hung on the cross (Mt. 27:54). Crazy!
Around Easter we rightfully talk a lot about the work that Jesus accomplished on the cross. This year I have been thinking about that question a lot. I have heard people and churches say that because of what Jesus did on the cross, God now sees you (if you put faith in Him) as righteous. As I look through the pages of scripture I cannot find anywhere that it says that God sees me as righteous. What I find as I look through scripture is that Jesus' atoning sacrifice on the cross has made me righteous. There is a BIG difference.
When we state that God now sees us as righteous, it's almost like we are saying that he's wearing rose colored glasses when he looks at us. It's true that we are now hidden in Christ, but we are seen as righteous because we are righteous. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "He (Jesus) became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God." He sees us as righteous because Jesus has washed us clean and made us pure... righteous.
If we really start to believe this truth, I think it will greatly impact the way that we act and live. Maybe its just semantics, but I think it has more theological undertones than we would care to admit. Because of what Jesus did 2,000 years ago... you can be made righteous, pure, cleansed.
Have you ever heard a story so many times that you no longer really hear it? I wonder how many of us are like that with the story of Easter. I wonder if its old new that Jesus rose from the dead and conquered death. My desire for myself this year (and for you) is that we would hear the story with a fresh set of ears and that it would shock us once again. I thinkthis quote by author Steven James summarizes it well.
“Over the years I’ve become more and more wary of people who try to make Christianity sound reasonable. God said his message would be foolishness rather than sensible, that it would be offensive rather than politically correct. The reality of the cross and the naked corpse of God is highly offensive. Until it offends us, we will never believe.” - Steven James
Last night I taught on the passage where Jesus says, "It is finished." (John 19:30) I've always wondered what exactly he was talking about - but I think there are a few things we can be sure that he finished. He finished atoning for sin and he finished/fulfilled the old covenant. I was studying for this message and I spent a lot of time in Leviticus and Hebrews - and I was reminded of all that people in the Old Testament had to go through in order to have a relationship with God. In Leviticus 16 it describes this ritual that the priests had to do every year in order to atone for the sins of the people. The process took a few days and it involved killing a bull and a goat.
Just by way of commentary, can you imagine killing a bull. I went cow tipping one time and I accidentally jumped in a pen with a bull - it was as scared as I have ever been in my whole life. Crazy.
I'm so glad that Jesus finished his work on the cross and that we no longer have to kill bulls in order to have a relationship with God. This Easter may we take advantage of the unbelievable truth of the finished work of Jesus Christ.
That's right, that Catholic Church named 7 new sins on March 11th. Here is the list of the "new" offenders. Let me know what you think...
Polluting the environment
Being obscenely rich
To call some of these sins 'new' is hilarious. For example, social injustice is one of the main themes of the old testament. We could go on and on, but I'll leave it at that for now. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
Now is a great time of year to be a sports fan. There are a ton a basketball tournaments taking place... and march madness is right around the corner. I can't wait. It's always a great time. The glory of the tournament is that there are always upsets and you never know who is going to win. My pick this year... UCLA. I think they are going to surprise!
Last night I watch the movie "Into the Wild." I though it was a great movie overall (there were a few unnecessary scenes - if you know what I mean). The movie is based off of a Jon Krakauer book by the same title. The book was better, but the movie was very good as well.
The story is about a man who graduates from college and embarks on a journey to find true life. He is disenfranchised by the typical American existence and sets out to find his own way. The movie does a great job portraying the longing that exists in every human soul - the desire to be fulfilled in life, to feel like your life has significance, etc.
I won't spoil the movie for you, but I thought the last line of the movie summarized the point brilliantly. Christopher McCandless wrote, "Happiness isn't real unless it is shared."
This weekend we are going to be starting a new series looking (over the next 3 weeks) at the words that Jesus said on the cross. Through all 4 gospels, we only have 7 statements that he made. We have to assume that these utterances were important.
The first statement we are looking at is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me." As I thought about this amazing cry of Jesus, there were a few things that came to my mind. First, the trinity was separated for the first time... ever. I had a theology prof that used to say that we in the west see the trinity as a problem to solve - when in reality it should be a mystery to enjoy. We serve a relational God. Embedded within this cry is the pain of relational agony. The father and son separated. The second thing that I thought about was the way that Jesus actually became sin for us (2 Cor 5:21). What an amazing truth, and yet I really can't wrap my arms around the concept.
I think that one of the things I resonate with most about these cries of Jesus is that we have a God who can relate. We have a God who can relate to loneliness, pain, a broken heart, etc. Our God can relate to where we are at. What a wonderful truth.
My hope this year is that we don't journey so quickly to the open tomb that we fail to see the crucified savior. I think that especially evangelicals (maybe protestants in general) are so quick to pass by the crucifixion. This year, let's really think about the sacrifice that God made in order to make a way for us to be with him. Jesus took the separation that we truly deserved.