A Post Worth Reading: David Drury on Missing God After Easter

April 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

Easter has come, and I am thrilled to see Spring arriving with it (finally!) after what felt like an endless winter. It’s such neat timing for this year that we celebrate resurrection just as Old Man Winter starts to loosen his grip on our world.

I read a post from Seedbed the other day that I want to pass on because I feel that it sums up what a lot of people might be feeling even though Easter has come. What if Spring came, but we still found ourselves in Winter? I remember that, at least where I live, March 21st came and went, and the weather could not care less. Even though the calendar said Spring, the weather said Winter. Some of us may be feeling something similar with our experience of Easter: Christ has risen, but we somehow haven’t grasped that event. We left the church service feeling much as we did before – and our days, our weeks since, have remained unchanged.

David Drury wrote a brief piece for Seedbed that explores this feeling and offers up the prayer: “Lord, help me not to miss you after Easter.” So many times, so many Easters, we celebrate the event and then return to our lives as before. We acknowledge the resurrection, but we remain untouched by it. I hope that you take the time to read this confession; if you’ve been feeling like you have been missing out on your relationship with Jesus after Easter, this might be a perspective that helps.

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A Matter of Perspective

February 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

Brian Zahnd writes of his struggle to read Scripture from the correct perspective. He gets a lot right in this post and I wanted to pass it on to you. So much of how we read and interpret Scripture depends on our own perspective – what we bring to the table when we open the pages of the Bible. Unfortunately, we can often get so caught up in our own reading of Scripture that we forget to be aware of how the Scripture “reads” us – we forget to place ourselves in a position of being seen, known, and interpreted by the Holy Spirit while we read. Zahnd has allowed himself to be “interpreted” by Scripture in this post; as a result, when he reads the text, he finds that he identifies more readily with the conquerors who oppressed Israel rather than the oppressed nation of Israel itself. He readily admits this bias and is aware of it when he reads the text. As a result, he knows he needs to intentionally re-orient himself to the “bottom-up” nature of the Scriptures – the Biblical story from the perspective of the enslaved, oppressed, occupied, and exiled. He needs to change his perspective, and he knows it. Look at this quote from his post: 

“If I read the Bible with the appropriate perspective and humility I don’t use the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus as a proof-text to condemn others to hell. I use it as a reminder that I’m a rich man and Lazarus lies at my door. I don’t use the conquest narratives of Joshua to justify Manifest Destiny. Instead I see myself as a Rahab who needs to welcome newcomers. I don’t fancy myself as Elijah calling down fire from heaven. I’m more like Nebuchadnezzar who needs to humble himself lest he go insane.”

Our first instinct when we read the text is often to jump to the question, “How does this apply to me?” We would do better to ask ourselves, “How do I apply myself to the Bible? How does the Bible point out my own incorrect perspective – and how can I invite the Holy Spirit to change my heart so that I can read Scripture rightly?” Everyone brings their own perspectives to the text. This is a beautiful thing; this is part of why each new believer can see Scripture as new and wonderful, and well they should! However, we can get so lost in our own perspective that we forget to take on the perspective of Scripture. When we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to change the way we read the Bible, we miss much of what it says – or, worse, we skew the holy words of the Bible and bend them to fit our own presuppositions and agendas. It’s far better to intentionally and consciously allow the Holy Spirit to remake us into the image of Christ through the reading of His word; it’s far worse to unintentionally and unconsciously bend Scripture to fit our own ideas. I hope you take the time to read Brian Zahnd’s post. 

Thanks to Everyone for Everything…

November 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

Hello! Over the past few years, it’s been a great pleasure to present devotional posts on this site. The feedback I’ve received from many of you has been both humbling and uplifting, and I am grateful for your comments and contributions. I’m writing today to let you know about another blog that I am starting with a slightly larger scope. I’m calling it The Glowing Road.  While this blog focused primarily on devotional material, I’m looking forward to expanding my scope of material to include Biblical study and spiritual formation as well as devotional material. Sadly, I will be taking this blog down by the end of the year; don’t worry, I’ll archive the posts and make them available on the new blog. I’m looking forward to opening a new chapter of writing, and I’m hoping that you’ll be willing to turn the page with me. Thanks to all of you for your past and continued readership, comments, and support; you’re the best.

– Seth

Whoops!

April 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

My apologies! After I returned from my Easter trip, I discovered that I had not actually submitted the final post of our series – Matthew’s account of Christ’s resurrection. When it comes to Lent, there’s one thing we must be sure not to do – we must not leave Christ in the tomb. I committed that error here, and I apologize. Usually, after the Lenten season, I have hopes of continuing this blog in some capacity through the rest of the year. While I always hope to continue writing, I must admit that this year I do not see future devotional posts in the near future.

Over the Easter vacation, I proposed to my lovely girlfriend, and we are excited about planning our future together in the coming months. However, with the new and wonderful process of two lives becoming one taking place, I do not foresee the necessary time for consistent devotional writing. I am pursuing other writing opportunities and also am dreaming up a blog that will deal with spiritual formation matters in a grander scope. When that comes around, I’ll be sure to let you all know.

I hope that the blog this year has been a blessing to you. All the best to you and yours; rejoice and enjoy the Easter season, for He is risen!

-Seth

March 30th, 2013: The Fortieth Day of Lent

March 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

During the final days of Holy Week, passages of Scripture from Matthew’s account of Christ’s passion will be posted. Please prayerfully consider these as you read them and look for the realities of God’s Kingdom conflicting with the kingdoms of earth. 

The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.”
Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.

~Matthew 27.62-66~

March 29th, 2013: Good Friday

March 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

During the final days of Holy Week, passages of Scripture from Matthew’s account of Christ’s passion will be posted. Please prayerfully consider these as you read them and look for the realities of God’s Kingdom conflicting with the kingdoms of earth. 

Very early in the morning the leading priests and the elders met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death. Then they bound him, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.

When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders.  4 “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.” “What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.”
Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.
The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder.” After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood. This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says,
“They took the thirty pieces of silver—
the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel,
and purchased the potter’s field,
as the LORD directed.”

Now Jesus was standing before Pilate, the Roman governor. “Are you the king of the Jews?” the governor asked him. Jesus replied, “You have said it.”
But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. “Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?” Pilate demanded. But Jesus made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor’s surprise.

Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted. This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas. As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” (He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.)
Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.”
Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. So the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?” The crowd shouted back, “Barabbas!”
Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!”
“Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?” But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”
Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!”
And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!”
So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.

Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.

Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it.

After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.  Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there. A sign was fastened above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.

The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”
The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way.

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink.  But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.”

Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

And many women who had come from Galilee with Jesus to care for him were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James and Joseph), and the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee.

As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who had become a follower of Jesus, went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. And Pilate issued an order to release it to him. Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left. Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching.

~Matthew 27.1-61~

March 28th, 2013: Maundy Thursday

March 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

During the final days of Holy Week, passages of Scripture from Matthew’s account of Christ’s passion will be posted. Please prayerfully consider these as you read them and look for the realities of God’s Kingdom conflicting with the kingdoms of earth. 

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?”
“As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover meal there.
When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the twelve disciples. While they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”
Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one, Lord?”
He replied, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me. For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”
Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, “Rabbi, am I the one?” And Jesus told him, “You have said it.”
As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”
And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”
Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say,
‘God will strike the Shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”
Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.”
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
“No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.

Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”
Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.
So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

And even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests and elders of the people. The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.
Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.” Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.
“Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”
Then Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there teaching every day. But this is all happening to fulfill the words of the prophets as recorded in the Scriptures.” At that point, all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Then the people who had arrested Jesus led him to the home of Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of religious law and the elders had gathered. Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and came to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and sat with the guards and waited to see how it would all end.
Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find witnesses who would lie about Jesus, so they could put him to death. But even though they found many who agreed to give false witness, they could not use anyone’s testimony. Finally, two men came forward who declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”
Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I demand in the name of the living God—tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Jesus replied, “You have said it. And in the future you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?” “Guilty!” they shouted. “He deserves to die!”
Then they began to spit in Jesus’ face and beat him with their fists. And some slapped him, jeering, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who hit you that time?”

Meanwhile, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant girl came over and said to him, “You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean.”
But Peter denied it in front of everyone. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
Later, out by the gate, another servant girl noticed him and said to those standing around, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
Again Peter denied it, this time with an oath. “I don’t even know the man,” he said.
A little later some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said, “You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent.”
Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed.
Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly.

~Matthew 26.17-75~

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