Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ’


Posted: February 13, 2015 in fizzy faith
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Remember valentines day in elementary school?

You would carefully craft a beautiful box with paper hearts & glitter.
You would proudly put it out on your desk, hoping that it would fill up with cards that reassured that someone actually likes you.
A little paper affirmation, hopefully with a heart shaped sucker attached.
We all want to be loved.
Then in middle school, maybe you watched everybody else get cheap student council carnations.
They would deliver the color coded fundraiser flowers to home room.
Everybody got to see who was loved, liked or left out.
There was always that one super popular person who got 20 carnations, while your desk sat empty.You tried to act like it wasn’t bothering you, but inside a part of you was dying.
We all want to be loved.
We grow up and realize that sometimes love stinks (thank you J. Geils).
We have all felt alone…we just want someone to say be mine.
Sometimes our paper hearts get stomped on, sometimes it seems like we are alone and Valentines Day comes along and rubs our “aloneness” in our face.
The crazy thing is that the deepest desires of ours can’t be met by another person, by an imperfect love…we need a love extravagant.
At the risk of sounding hallmarky, the One who created your heart longs to hold your heart.

He calls you beloved.

He loves you with a love extravagant…
A crazy little thing called love.
I found that love…
I know that love…
I have been wooed by an uncontainable and unexplainable love…a love that accepts and arrests me…a love that gives…a love that constantly whispers “Be Mine” to my insecure soul. A love that finally equips me to love others.
We all want to be loved.
It all boils down to that simple invitation to be known, to be His, to be loved.
Listen deep….

Father says to you…

be mine! Be loved! I AM with you! You aren’t alone…you were NEVER alone!

The One who created you, who has memorized everything about you, calls you beloved. You are greatly loved with a love extravagant.
Be His!!

“Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children.” – 1 John 3:1

Back when my wife, Diana, and I were engaged, I found a picture of Her and a prom date. Diana looked beautiful. She had perfectly coiffed big ’80s hair. She was smiling. Her date was wearing a rented pastel tux and he looked a little nervous. His name was James. The only thing that I really knew about him was that he had really good taste in girls. I was a little bothered…okay…jealous, so I thought I would try to change the romantic picture…literally. This was before photoshop, so I grabbed some scissors and scotch tape. I cut out a picture of my smiling face and taped it on top of his. Suddenly, I was the guy in the picture! But, it just didn’t look right. For one thing, it wasn’t proportionate. My face was too big and he wasn’t built like me. I showed it to Diana. I was sure that she would be impressed by my act of creative love, and I could tell that she was by the way she rolled her eyes. To be fair, the redone photo was an unsettling image. My freakishly large head looked unnatural. That’s what happens when you try to rewrite history, you end up with a freakish misrepresentation. The thing was that you could peel my picture off and James was still there. Despite my efforts, He was still a part of the story. Rather than try to rewrite a part of Diana’s story, I should have rejoiced that I was the man who got to stand by her for the rest of the story.

We live in a photoshop world. If we don’t like something, we simply crop it out of the picture.
We are constantly trying to crop all the unpleasantness out of our stories.
We try to airbrush away all our blemishes.
We want to protect our image. We don’t want to offend.

But, it doesn’t seem like God is concerned with protecting His image.
The Bible is most uncropped book ever, it is brutally honest.
There are stories of liars, murderers, prostitutes, adulterers and screw ups. And those are the GOOD guys! It’s there, in all its ungutted and unfiltered glory.
The Bible isn’t really family friendly and the disturbing thing is that God didn’t try to fix that!
It’s pages are filled with more rule breakers than record breakers. Despite what we were told in Sunday school, the biblical patriarchs weren’t shiny, perfect, airbrushed flannel gram role models.
The Bible is the story of some broken people who didn’t stay broken…they are models of redemption.
Can you picture a nervous editor looking over the original transcript and saying to God: “let’s rethink this section, it might offend people…I’m not sure if the bible will go over well in the Bible Belt!”
“Let’s edit…let’s crop out the ugly.”
But, God doesn’t seem to be concerned with public relations, He is more interested in authentic relationship.
The Bible is raw and honest….
Combine the real with the redemptive and hope is born.
God doesn’t Photoshop, instead He gives us a brand new photo op.
We don’t get a rewrite of the past, BUT, We do get a brand new chapter today.
It seems like the bible is all about honest hope.
God says be honest about your yesterday and see what I can do with your tomorrow.
You can’t crop what has already happened, but you can create what is yet to be.
Live honest with hope.

Tucked away in the 24th chapter of Luke is one of my favorite Bible stories. It is the story of two heart broken men walking down a dusty road. Jesus has been crucified and their dreams and expectations have died along with him. They are desperate to pack up their dead dreams and get as far as possible away from the scene of the crime. They just need to sort things out, so they take a walk. They are taking a seven mile hike from Jerusalem to a crazy little place called Emmaus. They are basically second string disciples, not Peter or any of the other headliners. They have lived on the fringe of the following, but it seems that God has a real soft spot for the second string…

Suddenly, they are joined by a third man who they don’t recognize. The stranger seems to be clueless about everything that has happened. But then the mystery man tells them that THEY are the ones who need to get a clue. He asks “why are your hearts so sluggish?” Then He starts giving them answers. Along with the answers comes recognition…a spark!

This is Jesus! And he is very much ALIVE!!! And he has set their hearts on fire!

“they asked each other, ‘were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32 TNIV)
God gives us heartburn! When we spend time with Jesus we are ignited! Sometimes when God shows up we might not recognize him, but, if we walk with Him, even accidentally, He will leave us ignited!
He is the source of the heat…
He is the light.
The fire is ignited as we walk and talk with Jesus.
The spark kills the sludge.
Our sluggish hearts come alive.
We are consumed by a holy fire.
Burn, baby, burn!
I also think that is the way that people are meant to find out about Christ.
We walk alongside them…we talk …our hearts burn…a spark is ignited.
We are carriers of the flame…
We are the fellowship of the burning heart.
Walk and talk with Jesus! Let him give you heartburn.

I love this story so much that it inspired me to do two things:

1. get a tattoo

2. write a poem

The tattoo is on my arm. It’s a permanent reminder of the everlasting flame.

here’s the poem:

I bear on my body the mark…

the mark of the burning heart.

engraved in my skin and engraved still deeper into my heart

is the symbol of the eternal flame.

I have joined the most sacred of orders, the fellowship of the burning heart.

it is made up of those who have felt their hearts strangely warmed and failures forgiven. those who have touched God and found themselves forever changed and consumed by an unexplainable fire.

the broken heart is transformed into the burning heart.

though at first I didn’t recognize Him, in time I came to know the Christ as the only one who could set my life aflame. I have felt the heat of his presence.

fire is life…

I have been ignited…

I glow in the dark…

I bear on my body the mark…

the mark of the burning heart.

I am a big fan of party food and one of my faves is the seven layer dip. You dip your chip into the thick, spicy explosion of goodness. You don’t know what you are going to get….Cheese or bean dip?…Sour cream or black olives? I like some layers more than others…I love cheese! Bean dip makes me dance. I’ve never been a fan of the olive.

In the Gospel of Mark chapter 5 there is an incredible story. It is like a big 7 layer dip with hurt, hope, confusion, distraction, healing, death and resurrection.

Jesus is surrounded by party people. It is a massive crowd pushing in on Him. A desperate man pushes through the crowd and falls at Jesus’s feet. He is an important man named Jairus. He is a leader in the synagogue, but that doesn’t matter now, because he is also a daddy. And, his 12 year old daughter is sick…real sick…about to die. He begs Jesus to do something…PLEASE…FOR THE LOVE OF GOD…DO SOMETHING!! He believes and prays a prayer of hope: “Just place Your hands on her. I know that if You do, she will live.” Jesus smiles a kind smile, a knowing smile, and He starts traveling home with Jairus. Time is of the essence, so Jairus does his best to hurry God through the crowd. But, there’s problem…a divine distraction.

There’s a woman who has suffered continuous bleeding for 12 years, the entire life of the little girl. this is the kind of thing that made her ritually unclean and a social outcast. she has spent all her money trying to get better and she had only gotten worse. She has heard all the talk about this Jesus. So she takes a huge risk, the untouchable one pushes through the crowd to touch the miracle man. She sneaks up behind Him…it’s not easy, there’s a desperate looking man trying to hurry him down the road. But, she is desperate too and this is her last resort. She reaches out her hand and touches His cloak.


The nanosecond that she makes contact with Jesus she is healed!!! Immersed in a flood of wholeness.

Here’s where it gets crazy…okay crazier. Jesus is immersed in a flood of humanity. He is a being pushed on every side. But he recognized her touch. He stopped. Everyone stopped. He looked around. And he asked: “Who just touched My robe?” awkward…uneasy silence….his disciples are wondering if he has finally lost it. “ummm…Jesus, there are about a bazillion people touching You. What do You mean, Who touched Me?”

I think Jesus just grinned and glanced around with a look of holy mischief. The woman fell at his feet. Busted! She was shaking with fear and amazement.

I think Jesus knew who touched Him…I think He wanted the woman to know who touched her.

He took the time to listen to her story.

This has to be killing Jairus…MY DAUGHTER IS DYING and you are taking time to listen to this lady’s story?! Imagine the frustration that he felt as Jesus is distracted by the needs of others! Can you relate? I can! I have prayed and I’m waiting for an answer. But, God seems to be distracted by helping other people. What is he thinking!?

While Jesus is wrapping things up with the lady, Jairus gets word… Your daughter is dead.

It’s over…

We were so close…

If only…

If only God had behaved the way I expected.

Jesus looks him in the eye and says: “It’s all right. Don’t be afraid; just…believe.”

They get to the house and things are messy. There is loud mourning. Some genuinely crushed family members and friends. But there are Some people just looking to be a part of something. People are attracted to drama like mosquitoes to a bug zapper and there is a large crowd assembled, after all Jairus is an important man.

I imagine, Jesus, once again with a look of holy mischief, clearing his throat, rolling up his sleeves and saying: “ Why are you making all this noise? The child isn’t dead. She’s just sleeping.”

Mourning quickly becomes ridicule and unbelief.

Jairus is crushed and confused, but he is hanging on to something that Jesus said…one word…BELIEVE.

He said it after healing a woman who had been sick the entire time his baby had been alive.

Jesus runs out the posers, so that only three of his disciples, Jairus, and Mrs. Jairus were left inside with Him.

Jesus took the child’s hand and said “Little girl, it’s time to wake up.”

Immediately the 12-year-old girl opened her eyes, immersed in a flood of life!

Jesus tells her parents give her something to eat. I love that! He grins and says I gave her life…you give her something to eat!

So what do we learn from this multi dimensional story of the multi tasking miracle worker?

Maybe…it’s that just because Jesus is working on somebody else’s stuff doesn’t mean that he’s not working on mine.

Maybe…it’s that the way Jesus works with me is completely different from the way he works with others…so stop comparing.

Maybe…it’s that when we are at our lowest we should hang on to one word…BELIEVE.

Maybe…it’s that Jesus makes all things NEW, but He gets to define NEW.

I don’t know, but I do know that Relationships are about layers, even a relationship with God…we will like and understand some layers more than others.

Don’t let that stop you from dipping in…it’s even okay to double dip.

Get immersed in a flood of seven layered goodness

My big stage debut was in a first grade play. It was a sweeping musical production about changing seasons.

I was a leaf.
It was not a speaking part.
I was a leaf.
That’s not as glamorous as a snowflake, that role went to the more graceful kids, it seems that snowflakes have to be graceful and coordinated.
Leaves do not.
I was a leaf.
It was pretty easy. I got to jump/fall out of the tree, that was the fun part.
But, then I got raked around on stage by the farmer (played by my overall clad friend, Terry Shipman).
My stage direction was pretty clear…fall and flop.
It was really the perfect role for me. It didn’t require any coordination or memorization.
I fell down…
I rolled around…
I nailed it!!
I WAS a leaf!

Since first grade I’ve learned a few things about leaves.
It turns out there is a CIRCLE of LEAF.
it looks something like this…
1. Leaves are produced by the tree.
2. Leaves are attached to the tree and live out on the limb.
3. Leaves give shade.
4. Leaves give life – they produce oxygen.
5. Leaves experience seasons. Each new season brings new expressions of beauty.
6. Leaves fall from the tree and die.
7. They get trampled on and become mulch (which is a very ugly word that sounds like an ugly sound effect)

That, my friends, is the CIRCLE of LEAF. That is the inevitable life span of a leaf. It is just the way it is…the way it has always been. Leaves live, die and become mulch.
The secret to their life is their attachment to the tree.

BUT…HOLD ON…WAIT A MINUTE…what if there was a little rebel leaf?
Imagine a little rebel leaf, who decided he really didn’t like the way it is…the way it has always been. He decided to change the CIRCLE of LEAF. he didn’t have a problem with items 1 through 5, but he hated items 6 and 7, the whole dying and mulching thing.
So he decided, “NO…I’m not gonna fall…I’m not gonna be mulch…HECK NO, I WON’T GO!!!…I’m not leaving (or LEAFING…HAR!) I’m staying! I’m clinging to this tree. If I leave the tree I will die. I will not die.”
The little rebel leaf breaks the CIRCLE of LEAF.

What does that have to do with us?
I think Jesus has invited us to be the rebel leaf.
Break the CIRCLE of LIFE.

Look at what he tells us…
“Abide in Me, and I will abide in you. A branch cannot bear fruit if it is disconnected from the vine, and neither will you if you are not connected to Me. I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you abide in Me and I in you, you will bear great fruit. Without Me, you will accomplish nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is like a branch that is tossed out and shrivels up and is later gathered to be tossed into the fire to burn. ” – John 15:4-6

Life…real life comes from abiding…from rebelling against going with the flow.
It comes from clinging to the tree and refusing to let go.
Stay attached…be the rebel leaf.
We are meant to live out on the limb.
We are meant to give soul shade and life.
We are meant to go through seasons, each with glorious new expressions of beauty.
We don’t have to become mulch.
We need to refuse to leave the tree.
Hang on for dear life…literally!
How do we break the CIRCLE of LEAF?

“If anyone is united with the Anointed One, that person is a new creation. The old life is gone – and see – a new life has begun!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

Life…new life…quality life is all about getting attached to the Anointed One and leaning in.
Rebel against the old by becoming the new!
Find yourself by losing yourself in the tree…in the life of the one who beat death.
The rebel leaf…the new creation has broke the CIRCLE of LIFE by discovering new life!
Be the leaf…
Be the rebel leaf.

Recently we went to a race at a dirt track, it was awesome!! We were surrounded by some really fun people…lots of mullets and muscle shirts. We watched the cars slide around the track. As they did they kicked up ALOT of dirt. It got in our eyes and teeth, we were covered in it. It was seriously dirty fun!

There is an undeniable magic in dirt. It attracts us. We cultivate it and plant seeds in it…it gives us food. We dig in it. As kids we want to play in it. We make mud and sculpt it into wonderful things. I don’t think it’s accidental that we like to play in the dirt. Genesis 2:7 says “One day the Eternal God scooped dirt out of the ground, sculpted it into the shape we call human, breathed the breath that gives life into the nostrils of the human, and the human became a living soul.”
It turns out that God loves working with dirt.
The most common ingredient combined with the breath of God creates…

This is really good news because sometimes my efforts look like dirt.
Dirt happens…
God breathes…
LIFE is created!

The breath of God changes everything!
Give Him your dirt.

He breathes life into the dirt of our life…
Into the common.
He makes beautiful things out of dust.


I want to walk in your favor and flavor.
I want to live out your story, all for your glory.
You are the King of me, reign in every part of my life.
I fix my eyes on you so that you can fix my eyes.
Help me see what really matters.
May I see people and situations the way that you do.
Holy Spirit…
Give me fresh faith and a fire in my gut.
Refill me…consume me.
Lead me into truth and beauty.
Work wonder in my life.
My God…
I give you this year, let your will be done.
Your joy is my strength.
Your peace is my anchor.
I love you.

The last few years have introduced a trend that is both cool and kind of creepy. Some celebrities are making a comeback…sort of. We are hearing from entertainers that have…well…um…died. It’s nothing supernatural. It’s all technical. We have seen
holograms of Michael Jackson, Tupac, Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. All captured in their prime – dancing, singing, rapping, doing their thing again…in spite of the fact that they have actually left the building.
It looks pretty real. But, it’s just a little fuzzy.
It got me thinking, what if the Christian subculture capitalized on this? Someone could create a hologram of Rich Mullins or Keith Green. Can you imagine? It would be HUGE!!! There could be a big comeback tour probably sponsored by K-LOVE or Chick-Fil-A. They could fire up the magic hologram machine and sell lots of tickets. The hordes would sing along with the familiar songs, people would cry and talk about recapturing something that the modern church has lost. I would go! I loved both of those guys and their music was a very special part of my journey. It is a great memory! I’ve seen both of them in person, I remember them. But it’s been a while, so it might seem kind of fuzzy.
That’s the funny thing about memories…they get fuzzy. We forget that the past wasn’t perfect. We start thinking that the past was better than the present and less scary than the future.
We are constantly trying to recapture something that once was and we end up with fuzz.
Instead of recapturing something that once was, let’s contend for something that never has been.
It seems like God is up for it…
In Matthew 9:17 Jesus put it like this, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”
New wine has fizz…not fuzz. That seems like our choice…fuzzy or fizzy.
Live in the past, everything is safe and really familiar yet a little FUZZY.
Live in the moment and taste and see that the Lord is FIZZY.
Live for a memory or live for a movement.
Don’t recapture fuzz when you can discover fizz.
Jesus is not a hologram. He is alive and real.
Jesus, whose first miracle was turning water into new wine, wants to pour out new wine into our lives and gatherings.
He wants to bring the fizz!
Let’s pop a cork.

The cast of the Christmas story are a pretty diverse group, everything from farm animals to angelic host. There were even bedazzled mysterious Wise men. They were Influential men of means. They were dignified and they brought gifts! They were important enough that they got the attention of King Herod. They were VIPs, so it’s really not a surprise that these blinged out star gazers got invited to the first Christmas party. But they weren’t the first to get invited or show up. In fact, the wise men were fashionably late to the party. They didn’t meet sweet little baby Jesus in a manger. They, probably, showed up after a year or two after the Nativity and met sweet little TODDLER Jesus. That is just proof that when God shows up the party can go on for a while!

The first to get an invite were…brace yourself… a bunch of smelly sheep herders!

WHAAA? What will the neighbors think?!

Shepherds were the first to hear about the Savior!

Shepherds were burly, socially awkward outsiders.

They lived their lives like gypsies or carnival workers.

They sure didn’t get invited to parties!

They were the overlooked and overworked. They were the minimum wage workers who did the dirty work.

They lived on the fringes…with sheep. (Have you ever smelled a sheep? It’s nasty. Ever tried to carry on a conversation with sheep? It’s awkward.)

The shepherds never got invited to parties. They were never welcome at big, important events.

They would screw things up. They would do or say the wrong thing. They smelled like sheep. They were a walking talking social faux pas. They were simply not welcome.

YET…these are the first ones to get the message from heaven

The Savior is here…there is reason to celebrate…AND…


This was probably the first party they got invited to.

The BIGGEST news of ALL time was delivered for the FIRST time…in a pasture!

The BIG news was not delivered to BIG people, not the high and mighty, politically powerful, rich and famous…it was delivered to the disenfranchised…the last and the least.

Then it filtered its way UP…God is backwards like that!

I think inviting the shepherds was God’s way of thumbing His nose at man-made social rules and expectations.

“For God so loved the WORLD.”

that seems pretty clear.

The kingdom is for shepherds and wise men, homecoming queens and wallflowers, freaks and geeks, insiders and outsiders, rebels and rogues, the popular and the polarized….

“Every kindred, every tribe on this terrestrial ball”.

It’s for pretty much EVERYbody. You AND that guy that you don’t agree with.

The Kingdom of God is wide open.

The velvet rope has been torn down, trampled on and thrown out.

It’s a party for you, me and that guy over there…

The Savior is here…there is reason to celebrate…AND…


Don’t miss it!

I have a rather serious confession to make that might cost me a punch on my man card. During this holiday season I’m pretty sure that I have watched 87 Hallmark Christmas movies. It’s not that I’m a big fan of festive romantic comedies, my tastes run more towards something with zombies or Stormtroopers. But, my wife enjoys romance movies. I enjoy my wife. I really enjoy just spending time with her, so we watch movies with titles like: “Straight from Somewhere near the Heart”, “Love Comes with Some Assembly Required”, “Monster Trucks and Mistletoe” and the ever popular “A Spleen Transplant for Christmas”.

After watching approximately 174 hours of this Noel niceness, I’ve figured out that most of these stories are pretty similar in storyline.

There is a girl (played with a great deal of seriousness by a former child star). She has her life all figured out. (School/promising career/ predictable, very successful boyfriend). But then, usually through a comic mishap, girl meets boy (he’s the free spirit with no visible means of support. He has dreamy eyes, a flannel shirt and a heart of gold) at first, they don’t get along at all (that’s how you know that they are perfect for each other).

There is usually a dog, nosy best friend or adorable child involved, and since it’s a holiday movie, sometimes there is an actual angel trying to help them make a love connection.

Just when it seems like they are about to hook up, there is a crazy misunderstanding. The boy overhears something or the selfish EX comes back into the picture. The boy decides to take off and sacrificially move across the country. He doesn’t want to stand in the way of the girl’s happiness. Little does he know that HE is the secret to her happiness!

The angel or dog or nosy best friend works extra hard to get them back together. THEN…at the last minute, when it seems like all hope is lost, the boy demonstrates his unconditional love by going to great lengths.

And…BOOM…love conquers all!

it’s all set to a soundtrack of schmaltzy Christmas music.

I gotta confess, even with a lack of explosions, I have secretly enjoyed watching these movies.

There is something undeniably attractional about a movie about attraction.

Maybe it’s because that’s how we were wired. We were designed to be a part of a love story.

the script was written by a Creator that is so completely smitten with His creation that He is willing to go to any lengths to prove His love.

“For God so LOVED the world that He gave…”

The Christmas story is the greatest, CRAZIEST love story EVER.

Think about it, in a small town, there was this sweet, innocent girl named Mary. She has her life all figured out. It’s all very predictable, she is going to marry her fine, upstanding, business owner fiancée, Joseph. They will settle down, raise some honor students and live a safe, reputable life. But then, girl meets Holy Spirit and everything gets turned upside down. There is an actual angel involved. There is a crazy misunderstanding between her and Joseph…”you’re WHAT?” Joseph decides to listen to the angel and sacrificially takes Mary across the country. Little does he know that baby is the secret to EVERYBODY’s happiness!

God demonstrates his unconditional love by going to great lengths.

And…BOOM…love conquers all.

Christmas is the celebration of the single greatest act of crazy love ever!

The meaning of Christmas is inclusion by means of incarnation.

It is a divine wooing…a holy invitation…the Creator’s kiss.

The only response to a love so strong is surrender.

You were made for Him.

Throw yourself into His arms.

Lose yourself in a love that won’t be denied…a love stronger than death.

A love that conquers all.

That’s the story of…

That’s the glory of love.