Digging in Deeper: Mark 13:9, 12-13

“But you, be on your guard! They will hand you over to local courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues. You will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a witness to them. . . .Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of my name, but the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I had the opportunity to hear last night from a missionary serving with a ministry called The Rock of Ages ministry. Justin and his family do prison evangelism. His was a pretty powerful testimony of God getting ahold of someone who was pretty thoroughly embittered by a much more difficult childhood than anyone should have to experience and had been exposed to just enough religion during it all to hate it. He spent many years consumed by alcohol and drugs, and had seen a bit of the inside of the prison system himself. Now God has called him to proclaim the Gospel to prisoners. Justin had a number of great observations to share, but one thing really stood out to me that I had not considered before. Prisoners who become followers of Jesus gain two things: eternal life and a target on their back. Other prisoners now know that their behavior is going to change to be more like Jesus’ behavior. This will serve them well outside the walls of the prison, but on the inside it means they can’t defend themselves. Their embrace of Jesus is like a green light to the unsaved prisoners to persecute them. Christians experiencing persecution is nothing new. It’s been happening since the very beginning. It is a tough topic to tackle, but fortunately, it is not one for which Jesus left us unprepared.

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Morning Musing: Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
— ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭(CSB‬‬ – Read the chapter)

Have you ever been tired? Of course you have. What a silly question, right? I’m not talking about being just physically tired, though. I’m talking about being exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually wiped out. You know that when the sun rises you’ll be able to get up and drift through the day, but it’s going to be by sheer force of autopilot, not because you have anything in you to give to it. Have you ever been so weary, though, that you weren’t even sure you were going to be able to do that much? Jesus has a message for you.

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Morning Musing: Zechariah 4:6-7

“So he answered me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: “Not by strength or by might, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord of Armies. “What are you, great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain. And he will bring out the capstone accompanied by shouts of: Grace, grace to it!”‘” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Leadership is tough. It’s easier to manage. Now, that doesn’t mean management is easy, but it’s easier than leadership. When you’re managing, your job is simply to keep things running smoothly. You’re not trying to go anywhere; you’re just trying to stay afloat. But leadership implies direction. You’re trying to actively move an organization–that is, a group of people–forward somewhere they haven’t been before. The challenge is that even on our most adventurous days, we are all creatures of habit. If you’re going to lead anyone anywhere, then, you’ve got to convince people who are settled to get unsettled and go on a journey whose end they cannot see. That’s tough. Even the best leaders need encouragement along the way if they are going to accomplish anything significant. God knew this, and in Zechariah’s next vision, we find Him offering some encouragement.

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Digging in Deeper: Romans 3:9-10

“What then? Are we any better off? Not at all! For we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin, as it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

There is a difference between encouragement and reality. They may point in the same direction, but they are not the same. Given that, which is better? Is it better to offer encouragement that deviates from reality, or to simply drop reality on the table and let it be what it is? I guess the answer to that depends on who’s being asked. Some people would rather wave away reality and find some bright side to their situation even if it isn’t truly real, while other folks just want the unvarnished truth and they’ll figure out how to deal with it later. Why am I thinking about this kind of thing this morning? Because we are entering graduation season. Let’s talk about it.

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Hope for Today

Jesus is Risen! We celebrate the truth that has shaped the whole world more than anything else. Check out yesterday’s Easter message. I hope this is a blessing to you. Thanks for reading and listening.

Hope for Today

One of the shows Lisa and I enjoy watching is Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. We loved it when it was on years ago and we are very much enjoying HGTV’s revival of the series (although the excessive amount of product placement and in-show advertising is getting a little old if one of the producers happens to be watching this). One of the best parts of the show for me is the big reveal moment. I love seeing all of the different expressions of joy and delight that people have when they see their new home for the first time. Some are more subdued. Some are wild and over the top. Most land in between those two extremes.

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