Archives For Gospel

As Jesus sat with his disciples eating, what would be his last meal with them before his crucifixion, he began to speak about the importance for the disciples to ‘remain in him‘, repeating himself several times, and explaining that it was through, and only through, remaining in him that they would bear the fruit of the Spirit in their life.

But what does it mean to abide in Jesus?

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” John 15:9

After talking about remaining his him several times, Jesus extends his sentence to give it a fuller, and clearer meaning. He says: “Now remain in my love

Jesus first explained to his disciples how much his heavenly Father loved him, testifying how he accepted and embraced this love reality, and then went on to explain that this is what enabled him to love them.

From a big, eternal perspective, Jesus fills the whole universe; everything was created through him. He is undoubtedly powerful in his supreme and eternal reality; however, while Jesus walked the earth he had stripped himself of all that glory, humbling himself to come to earth in the image of man. In the body of man. In the limitations and weaknesses of man.

He was limited to the same weaknesses and challenges we all have in these jars of clay, yet he loved us all so genuinely and passionately, and he loved all the way to the cross. But, living with the same limitations we also are burdened with in these earthen vessels, the question is: How did he do it? How did he love us so much?

The answer is that he did it by abiding in the love of his Father. Jesus demonstrated the divine power found in a life that rests in the truth of God’s love for them, and he encourages all of us that we can experience the same. Not by striving in our own strength, but through abiding in his love.

Resting in the truth of God’s unconditional love for you is the power of God to outwork his love through you into the world around you. This is what it means to remain in Jesus. He loves us just as the Father loved him while he walked the earth. We can walk with the same assurance we are perfectly loved and accepted as he did as he walked the earth. It is by remaining in the reality of Christ’s love for you, that allows God to freely let the fruit of the Spirit flourish in your life.

Everyone, in their mind, embraces the idea of being a loving person, but it is the out working of that belief in a way that bears fruit this is often the challenge. Jesus reveals both the problem and the solution to us. The problem is that we simply can’t love out of our own limited source of love. The solution is God has given us an unlimited source of love as a home to live in. In Christ. In Christ’s love. To truly love in a way that bears the fruit of heaven we need to remain in the abounding love of Christ, and allow that source of love to overflow through us into the lives around us.

Abide in Jesus’ love. Enjoy it. Rejoice in it. Jesus actually told us it is through resting in his love and embracing this glorious reality that your joy will be complete. You are completely, unconditionally, and gloriously loved by your Lord and Savior – what can make us more joyful than resting in that great reality? And so, abide in him; enjoy his love for you, and allow him the joy of loving others through you, to the glory of God.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11

A man was hiking over the beautiful snowy Alps, along the way a violent storm suddenly appeared and the man had no chance to take shelter, he was trapped right in the eye of the storm. The snow storm was so intense that he could not see a thing; he could not even see his hand in front of his face. In desperation he tried to use his mobile phone, and to his amazement he could still get phone reception to make a phone call. He called a close friend, he did not know what his friend could possible do for him, but in hope he called anyway.

His friend, reading one of his favourite books in front of the open fire and his lovely wife preparing dinner for him, picked up the phone. On the other end of the phone he listened to his friend share his emotions, his fear and confusion, he was walking aimlessly in the worst storm he has ever been caught in, and he had no idea how he would make his way through it.

“Just walk east!” his friend yelled down the phone. “Just walk east! If you just walk east you will easily get out of the storm!”

However, the friend in the storm could not see a thing, only a blur, he was confused, he was already aware that if he walked east he would find shelter from the storm, he wasn’t arguing that. His problem was he had no idea which way east was. He could not see anything! He was completely incapable of doing anything to get himself out of the storm.

He tried to explain this to his friend, but his friend just keep yelling to him ‘just walk east!’ His friend, warm and comfortable at home, could not understand why his friend could not do this one simple thing ‘Just walk east!’

Meanwhile his friend was still stuck in a situation he was incapable of changing. He tried to explain that he was not arguing that walking east is what he should do; his problem was he did not know how to walk east. Which way was east? West? North? South? He was trapped, nothing was in his control, he did not know what to do, and his friends advise, although well-meaning, was only creating more fear in his heart.

“Just walk east! Stop making excuses and just start walking east and you will find shelter from the storm.” His friend yelled again, getting more frustrated. Eventually, his friend hung up the phone and thought to himself: ‘You can’t help someone who won’t help themselves’. Warm and safe in his lovely home, his friend picked his book back up and continued to enjoy his evening.

Meanwhile his friend was left in the storm. He was lonely, fearful, and hopeless. He continued to wonder, and the storm just kept getting worst. He felt so depressed, so misunderstood, so lost. In desperation he decided to try to call another friend, what could his other friend do for him? He did not know, but in hope he called.

As his friend picked up the phone the man began to retell his situation; he cried, he was broken, he was trapped in the storm, he could not do anything, he could not escape or find shelter.

“Remember you are not alone” his friend yelled down the phone. “What ever you do don’t forget you are not alone!”

The man stood in the storm, the tried to understand what his friend was trying to tell him, what did he mean? His friend continued in desperation to remind him that he was not alone. “What do you mean I’m not alone?” his friend cried? “I’m completely alone. I’m in a storm and I have no power to change anything and I’m incapable of finding my way out.”

The whole time he spoke to his friend, never once did his friend try to give him instructions on how he could get out of the storm in his own strength, his friend just keep reminding him he was not alone. Again the man asked his friend “What do you mean I’m not alone?”

“Remember when you started the journey across the mountains” his friend said, “Do you remember when the weather was beautiful and calm?” His friend thought back, yes he remembered! “Do you remember you did not start this journey on your own?” Again his friend thought back, yes he remembered! He remembered that he started the journey with a guide, a seasoned mountain guide. He started the journey with a professional guide who knew every corner of the mountain, who had guided other climbers through storms even worst than the one he was trapped in now.

“Do you remember you’re not alone?” His friend cried down the phone once more. “Yes I remember!” The man said. He remembered he started the journey with a guide. His friend kept encouraging him “Remember that your guide is still with you! He’s still right beside you, he has not left you. Let him take hold of you hand and he will lead you out of the storm.”

The man hung up the phone. He held out his hand and cried out for his guide to lead him to safety. He could not see anything, he could not see his guide, he could only have faith his guide did not leave him when the storm began. As he stood in the storm, completely blind and unable to help himself, he felt the beautiful hand of the one he knew could save him from the storm; it was his guide.

His guide was still with him. When the storm first began, it had taken the man by such surprise and had come upon him so suddenly that, in his fear and confusion, he forgot his guide was still with him.

“I don’t know the way out” the man cried to his guide. He felt the guide embrace him, in the deathly cold of the storm he held him close, it made him feel a deep warmth inside himself, a warmth he almost forgot existed. The guides warm embrace comforted the man, and his heart felt strengthened, even in the storm.

The storm was so heavy the man still could not see the face of his guide, he could not see anything, he only heard the voice of his guide, the one who was capable of doing what we could not do, the only one who could save him.

The man could not see anything, he felt so weak, and in himself there was no strength left. He could only rely upon his guide and believe in his weakness, his guide would be his strength. As the storm continued to rage all around them, the man heard the guide whisper into his ear:

“You don’t need to know the way out, you only need to trust me, I can lead you to safety”

In that moment the man felt peace in his heart. Yes he was still in the very same storm, but he knew he would make it through the storm, because even in his weakness, his guide was strong enough to carry him through to safety.


Why is it when our friends face an emotional storm in their life we always want to instruct them on how they can fix the problem themselves?

“Just let it go!”

Seems like such simple advice to give someone who is heart-broken from a relationship breakdown.

“Why don’t you just let it go, and move on with your life?”

Sometime we spend all our time trying to instruct our heartbroken and depressed friends on how they must lead themselves out of heartbreak and disappointment, and with our best intentions we only cause them to feel more broken. In contrast, the greatest help we can be as a friend is to remind them that within their heartbreak, within their sadness, within their inability to change their feeling and their situation, Jesus is still with them, still loves them, is still embracing them, and is still the one who will save them and heal their heart.

Within the heartbroken sadness they are suffering in, a true friend reminds them that their guide is still with them. Their guide has never left them, and they don’t need to worry about finding their own way out of their emotional crisis, they need only to trust that Jesus is with them. Always remember Jesus. It is Jesus who desires to strengthen our hearts through the storm. It is Jesus, and not ourselves who leads us; not through our strength, but through his grace given freely to us in our time of need.

Jesus is our savior for our whole life, in this life and the eternal life. When we are unable to save ourselves in any situation, and our friends and family can not possible understand the emotional crisis we are facing in our life, Christ understands.

People will always try to instruct us on how to save ourselves, Christ however, shows us his desire is to save us and lead us in his strength.

He is our guide, he is our strength, He is always with us, and he will be faithful to lead us to safety.

I pray that I’m always a friend that reminds you that your guide is still with you, and he will lead you through the storm, He loves you, He is with you, when nobody understands, the Lord understands.

“Do you remember you’re not alone?” His friend cried down the phone once more. “Yes I remember!” The man said, he remembered he started the journey with a guide! His friend keep encouraging him “Remember that your guide is still with you! He’s still right beside you, he has not left you! Let him take hold of you hand and he will lead you out of the storm!”

When we seek the truth, it is a natural reaction that we will no longer be in the same place and believing the same things as everyone else who has a mutual faith in Jesus. As soon as we seek to understand our faith on an individual level with the Spirit of God leading us rather than simply agreeing with the group doctrines and dogmas, we face the moment I’m talking about.

It’s the moment we realize that our faith is not as simple as we first thought. That there are many questions we have, that God is encouraging us to ask, that the group doesn’t want to talk about; questions the group doesn’t want to ask. But we know if we don’t follow the leading of the Spirit, then we will lose our own passion for being led by the Spirit all together. If we follow the Spirit, to seek, to question, to look for the answers God has laid out before our path, we are only doing what is natural in our walk of faith following Christ.

When we seek the truth, it is a natural reaction that we will no longer be in the same place and believing the same things as everyone else who has a mutual faith in Jesus. It’s that way because it’s a journey. Like a marathon. Everyone is on the journey, but at different places.

The problem with religion is it wants everyone to be in a straight line, arms locked, along the journey. The result is nobody is able to go at their own natural pace, and without the ability to go as the Spirit leads you, you quickly become complacent and lose the desire to seek truth at all. You simply allow others to set the pace, to pull you along, and subtly ‘group think & group belief’ replaces your own ability to think as an individual, to seek, and know what you believe. But to take your own steps in the search of truth, at the pace the Spirit leads you with, is the very essence of what you need to follow Christ. Don’t be afraid of it, don’t deny it; rather, embrace it. To sacrifice it for the sake of keeping the group happy is not a sacrifice I think God is asking for.

God wants us to seek him, and if we are to do that, there are times when we have to leave the pack and seek at our own pace. We’re not forsaking the group, but we are accepting that we can’t all believe the same thing at the same time, perhaps when we meet at the end of the race we will. But along the journey, sometimes we have to run a stretch of the path alone; sometimes we have to run even when the group behind us doesn’t understand why. And sometimes we have to run even when we don’t know why. All we know is we are being led, and our heart desires the truth over all.

The journey is long, and the path is not easy, but it is our calling. It is our passion. It is our way.

Run it well.

At the very basic level of our belief, we believe that we are all made in the image of God. This I completely believe and celebrate. This means at our core we are all exactly the same. We are all equals. We are all one. Because we are all made in the image of God. And what is that image? That image is love (singing L-O-V-E love).

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8

I think we run into problems, however, when we begin to conform into the outer image of one another, instead of abiding in the inner image of God/love. What I mean is we start to listen to the same kind of music, do the same activities, use the same kind of words and phrases, listen to the same teachings, have the same weekly schedule of events and programs etc. This of course can happen quite easily in a religious setting most easily. But it can happen in any setting/group that is fundamental in its worldview, whether it be religious, political, corporate or what ever.

There is a real danger when we start to conform into the ‘corporate image’ that we begin to actually lose touch with who we really are. It is not noticed as long as you are immersed in this corporate culture, but if you ever come out of it, it is not uncommon to feel lost, wondering if you even know who you are anymore. This is the danger of conforming to the outer image of others for the sake of inclusion.

It’s hard to embrace and celebrate your uniqueness when others want you to be something else–sadly, something a little closer to themselves. While I think we should all celebrate the truth we are the same image on a heart/spirit level, for we are all made in the image of love, we should also celebrate that none of us need to be the same in our outer expression.

I don’t think we’re designed by God to be like one another in our personalities and passionate pursuits. We are designed to be different, to go after different kinds of dreams, to have different hobbies, to see things from different perspectives.

We’re created to desire different things, to be drawn to different kinds of lifestyles, to seek after different kinds of experiences.

I really believe that it is these very differences that make it interesting to spend time together. It is what makes being friends refreshing and rewarding. But to enjoy this blessing, we have to let go of the desire to conform people into our own image.
Radically Loved

Your image is beautiful. But it is yours, not mine, and not anyone else’s, and that’s the way it’s meant to be. When we can simply accept people for who they are, we can participate in beautiful and refreshing friendships. But when we expect people to change, to be more like ourselves, then we can never truly connect with anyone, because we are not looking for individuals to celebrate life with, but candidates we think can be molded into an image closer to our own.

Don’t be scared of those who are different to you, who believe different, live different, see the world different – these people are a blessing from God. If we can overcome our religious desire to conform people into our image, and live with the liberty of embracing and enjoying the uniqueness of others around us, we can also participate in the joy of life on a far greater scale.

Celebrate your unique and wonderful ways. And do likewise with others. We can celebrate both our united image of love, and also enjoy and celebrate all the differences we have as well. It is when we can embrace (instead of separating and judging) the differences of others, we truly begin to see just how we are all the same. We were made to bless one another with our uniqueness. We are all different, we are all made in the image of love, and that is what makes us all the same.

A few years ago a family member told me about a great new book they read. It was by a new age/positive thinking writer. My relative said to me, “Hey, you might like his stuff too. He uses a lot of Bible verses to prove his points, but probably doesn’t interpret the Bible the same way as you, but it’s good stuff.”

This intrigued me, not sure what he meant, so I asked him for an example and he said, “Well, for example, he quotes Jesus’ words about the 10 virgins, how 5 were ready in the moment, and the other 5 were not. . . and this was about making sure you lived in the moment, to be ready to enjoy your life in the moment.”

There and then I realized something quite shocking: Anyone, really anyone, can use the Bible to prove their ideas/beliefs.

Correctly-dividing-the-word

The reality is that regardless what anyone believes. Not just a Christian, but anyone at all, once they have decided upon what they believe, they could then go to the Bible and find enough Scripture references to support their beliefs.

Often when someone presents us with a theology or doctrine that directly opposes our own, we say something like, “Well then, you don’t believe the Bible!” and no matter how many Scripture verses they show us, we remain adamant they are simply avoiding the truth of the Bible.

The real truth, however, is we may be actually avoiding the uncomfortable situation of confronting our own interpretation of the Bible, and facing the facts it may be wrong. It is, after all, much easier to simply dismiss someone as not believing the Bible, then to acknowledge the Bible can be interpreted in another way, and that this way may even make a lot more sense than our own current interpretation.

Like the example in my comic above, it’s easy to quote the Bible to support our theology, and simply ignore the parts of Scripture that oppose our theology, but it’s a sad way to live out our faith, isn’t it? It takes more courage to accept that while Scripture may be God breathed, that doesn’t mean our interpretation of it is. Just because we can use some Scripture to support our belief claims, doesn’t mean that those beliefs are unquestionably true.

Sure, we can prove out theology in the Bible, but when someone shows you scripture that directly opposes your theology/doctrine, do you also give weight to it, or just ignore it?

Discovering truth is not as simple as having an idea about it, and tagging a Bible verse to the end of it. In reality, the desire to know the truth will take you beyond the Bible, it will take you all the way into the heart of God. It will depend on your walk with the indwelling Spirit of Christ. Not just the Bible you can read, but the Spirit who can lead you into all truth.

I am not suggesting to abandon the Bible. On the contrary, I am suggesting we truly appreciate it, and understand everyone has an interpretation of it, and if we want more than our interpretation to count, if we also want God’s insight and leading, then we also need to be willing to lay down our interpretations long enough for the Spirit to be able to change our direction if needed, to realign us with God’s ultimate ways, and to help us then see the Scriptures with fresh eyes.

We are called to be led by the Spirit, and to do that, sometimes it means laying down our current interpretations of Scripture long enough to let the Spirit take us on a personal tour of God’s heart and back, so when we sit back down afterwards we can see the Bible in a way we could not see it before.

It’s interesting that when Jesus walked the earth it was the children, the poor, the uneducated and the illiterate that understood Jesus the most – in contrast, it was the Scripture scholars, the experts of the Bible, with their explanations of Scripture and long drawn-out interpretations of what the written word meant who didn’t understand him at all.

In this day and age, while it is possible to cram all the Bible reading we can fit into a day, the reality is it will profit us nothing if we value it over the voice of the Holy Spirit within us. More than that, it can actually be the very thing that pulls us away from understanding the heart and ways of God.

The Pharisees spent so much time in the Scriptures they failed to actually realize the point of the Scriptures all together, making the Scriptures of zero help to them in their spiritual walk. If anything, their devotion to Scripture and their interpretations of it only pushed them to rage against the truth all the more.

You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. John 5:39-40

In reality, we don’t need more Bible in our life, for we are not people of the written code, but rather people of the Spirit; and as such we need more trust in the Spirit dwelling within us. For if we can first rest in this inner reality and be led by the Spirit, then when we do read Scripture, the Spirit will be able to lead us through it and show us things none of us could see by reading the Bible just as a written code.

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. Romans 7:6

For the Bible to be of help to us, we need to see between the lines, behind the words, within the message; we need to let the Spirit show us things invisible to those who only want to read the Bible as a plain and simple written code.

Most importantly, we need to realize the Bible can become a stumbling stone to us if we allow it to be used by others to enforce their beliefs upon us. It was those who were the disciples of the Pharisees who also missed the truth of Jesus, for their ‘teachers’ had all the answers from Scripture as to why Jesus was nothing more than a blasphemer.

This is, I believe, why the Apostle John wrote to the church with this encouragement:

“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit —just as it has taught you, remain in him.” 1 John 2:27

It is interesting because John himself was writing to the church and teaching them things, yet he tells them plainly they don’t actually need any teachers, not even himself, what they need is the confidence to trust The Teacher in them, the indwelling Spirit of God. In John’s day, there were many teachers who were enforcing their doctrines and opinions on the church, most likely using Scripture as their tool to force submission to their way of thinking.

John, then, writes to remind the church that although there are God-given teachers in the body of Christ, the ones who are worth listening to are the ones who are always directing you to trust more in the indwelling Spirit within you.

We could say that the role of a teacher in the body of Christ is not to give answers, but to encourage the body of Christ to ask questions, to seek the truth for themselves, and to trust that the Spirit of Christ within to be their Teacher who will lead them, enlighten them, and draw them closer to the divine reality of God’s nature as they continue in their faith walk.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. Romans 8:14

Remember, while the Bible can help us in our journey of faith, it is not what leads us. That role belongs to the Spirit of God within you. Take confidence as the Apostle John wrote, and trust that the anointing in you is real, not counterfeit … and follow the voice of your Good Shepherd, the guiding Spirit within you, as you venture with your indwelling Savior into all truth.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10

It’s interesting that the Apostle Paul, who was the man with possibly the deepest revelation of the gospel that ever lived (God’s chosen instrument is what Jesus called him) actually said, “We know in part”. This is an incredibly humble thing to say, and just as important for us to remember; for it means there are more parts that we currently do not know. Meaning, your beliefs/theology will continue to change as you come to understand more, when God shows you another ‘part’, when you continue to seek truth, and find another piece. Not only this, but even at the end of our lives, even with the greater insight, revelation, and truth God shares with us, we will still only know in part. Not until this creation is finished, and we stand before God will we understand the full picture of God, his gospel, and his complete truth.

Often our beliefs change, but once that change happens we think now we’ve ‘got it’ – we think now we really DO have the full truth. While we may have come to understand another important part of the truth, we have to be humble, as the Apostle Paul was, and realize we still only know in part. There’s more parts still to discover; there’s more renewing of our minds to come.

If your beliefs are exactly the same as last week, that’s all right. If they are exactly the same as five years ago, that’s concerning. I say this because our faith is a journey, and along this journey God continues to give us new pieces to his puzzle of truth.

Some of the doctrines you think are the most full-proof, the most foundational even, will come tumbling down at some point, and replaced with a clearer, more divine understanding. The first time this happens it is shocking. The second it is still shocking, but at least not as unexpected. After a while, you start expecting it as part of the faith journey.

Doctrine is the interpretation of man. Popular doctrine is the interpretation of very powerful men, meaning church/denominational leaders who in essence demand people to accept their doctrines or leave; they use the fear of exclusion to keep people agreeing with their doctrines. This is sad, but it’s been happening for centuries, but don’t let the pressure and doctrines of other men/women override the Spirit of Christ in you, your teacher, as you move forward in your faith. Let him teach you. Allow yourself to learn new things from him, even when you favorite preachers are saying the opposite.

A rule of thumb that the Apostle Paul gave us when talking about only knowing ‘in part’ was to remember what we have right here, right now. That is, faith, hope and love. And he particularly drew attention to love, reminding us this is the greatest of all.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13: 12-13

While on the journey of faith, seeking and discovering new ‘parts’ of the puzzle of the gospel truth, keep your heart centered on the reality of love. For in the end, doctrines will fade away, but love will remain forever.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. John 4:23

Jesus said something truly revolutionary to the Samaritan woman at the well. He talked of a time coming when a new way to worship God would come into reality. What was revolutionary about this is that Jesus was not saying that worship, as it was currently done, would be refined or reshaped, but that worship of God would become something completely new. No longer the old way people knew of, but a radically different way that did not look or feel the same in any form.

Jesus seemed to be talking about the end of the entire old testament concept of worship. The end of going to a temple to sing songs of adoration to God. The end of the raising of hands to try and reach God. The end of the stamping of the feet while the musicians strum their instruments. He was talking about the end of this entire way of worship to be replaced with an entirely new way—the way God truly desires. A way that is of Spirit and truth.

So what is this new way of worship? I believe it is worshiping God through loving others. For when we love those around us, it is because we worship/are devoted to God who is Love. Love is the DNA of our God, and it is a worship-filled life we live when we live a life of love. When we love, we testify to the God we identify with and follow. When we love, we declare without words:

‘God is love—I love because this God first loved me, and I love because I worship this God of Love.’

While I understand this can sound quite radical, isn’t that exactly what we would expect based on Jesus’ words? Anything that is completely new is considered radical, and that is what makes the message of Jesus so incredible to those who desire the new way Jesus promised, yet so dangerous to those who want to hold onto the old order of things.

If our idea of worship looks similar (or even identical) to the old covenant version of worship, is it not time we challenge our own understanding of worship, and ask ourselves what this new way of worship Jesus spoke of could be? What if the new way of worship truly is done through loving others? Would this set you free, or make you feel trapped? Would this match more with the God you have come to know through Jesus, or does the old form of worship make more sense?

What if God is not interested in people bowing down to him as a form of testifying to their devotion to him, but rather he is interested in people loving those around them to testify of their devotion to him? What if loving others is the new way of worshiping God, the way he truly desires? Does that thought inspire you or offend you?

There are times in life where fall into a sense of hopelessness, and in these moments we fear, ‘am I losing my faith?’ or ‘am I not being faithful enough‘ and these thoughts only push us further down emotionally, for if God is with us–we contemplate with despair–where is he?

When we feel so lost, so abandoned, so broken, yet all we desire in life is to know God and be with him, yet in our deepest moment of pain, we ask–where is God?

To believe in God, to know him as Love, to trust in him with all you have, but still, to feel not only disconnection or silence, but an abandonment, is the hardest place to be spiritually. In our hopelessness, when we cannot help ourselves due to utter weakness, when we are at our most desperate, our hearts cry out what our lips dare not–where is God?

This situation, though seeming contradictory to the life of a believer, is itself seen in the life of Christ on this day. Upon the cross Jesus cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” – he said the words in his utter despair that all of us who believe are terrified to say.

If you are feeling a great hopelessness upon your life, and though you dare not say it, you feel in your heart to cry out — my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? – remember that your Savior came and experienced the same, but even greater, and he spoke what we dare not. He felt the very real abandonment of God, yet before he gave up his Spirit he went on to say, “Father, into your hands I place my spirit.”

This too, we partake in- the ‘against all hope, to hope’ and continue to place our very spirit in the hands of God, for even after we feel/experience the sense of abandonment by God, we know he cannot and will not leave us to lie in ruin. No, he will take what is broken and make it new. He will resurrect our hopes and dreams. He will create a victory out of what seems a permanent defeat.

Today, allow all the pain and sadness you feel to be with Christ upon the cross. Speak the words, ‘my God, my God, why have you forsaken me’ with your Christ. Speak the words ‘my Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’ with your Christ. And as you do, remember that beyond what you feel today, God has a plan to make all things new in your life.

We call this Friday ‘good’ because God’s plan did not end at the cross on this day; for Christ who was broken upon the cross, just as for your life and dreams, there is still a great resurrection to come.

Good Friday represents the ashes of life, but a crown of beauty is still to come. Good Friday represents our mourning, but the oil of joy is still to be poured upon us. Good Friday represents our spirit of despair, but the garment of praise is still to be wrapped around us.

Good Friday is ‘good’ because it is the day we hang all our despair and saddness upon the cross, and unite with Christ in this loss, knowing that we will also remain united with him in his Resurrection, when all things are made new.

Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” John 9:40

Some people wonder what Jesus meant when he asked: “Do you have eyes, but fail to see?” The Pharisees, of course, thought they had better eye sight than anyone; so good they could see every sin in the world; they were experts in seeing the sinner in the crowd. Perhaps that was the very thing that caused them to be blind?

When Jesus looked upon the people of his day, he didn’t see ‘sinners’, rather, he saw the lost sheep that God so loved he sent Jesus into the world to rescue. Jesus looked upon people with a different perspective than the Pharisees:

“When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36

When Jesus was invited to dinner in the house of a prominent Pharisee named Simon, their dinner was interrupted by a woman, so touched by her interactions with Jesus that she fell to his feet and covered them with tears, and wiped them with her hair. What did Simon see? He didn’t see what God wanted him to see; he was blind to the very work of God. Simon’s perspective was this:

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Luke 7:39

Simon saw the sinner; but he didn’t see the woman. He put her in an inhuman category in his mind, that allowed him to cast his judgment upon her without consulting his heart, or the heart of God. But Jesus was different, he didn’t see the sinner; he saw the woman. He saw the true person, not the pain and corruption that life had pulled her into. He saw the child. He saw the one he came to rescue. The woman, now set free, was overflowing with thankfulness. Heaven was erupting with joy and dancing. God was rejoicing – but Simon missed the whole thing. Jesus asked him: “Do you see this woman?”

Do you see this woman? Do you see this man? Do you see them as lost sheep? Do you see them as the very reason Jesus came? Do you see God’s plan for restoration? Do you see the pain they are in? Do you see their need for love? Or do you see the sinner? Jesus words ring in my heart all the time: “Do you see this woman?”

It’s easy to see the sinner, but do you see the person? Do you see the lost sheep that belongs to God; that God came to find? Do you see the lost sheep, helpless and harassed, like a sheep without a Shepherd?

Simon, the Pharisee who was the host of the party, was blind to the miracle; he had eyes, but he couldn’t see. He only saw the sinner, he saw her sins, he saw her past, but he didn’t see what truly counted; he couldn’t see the unfailing love Jesus had for this woman. He couldn’t see the acceptance Jesus offered her. He couldn’t see how the love of God had led this woman into freedom. He missed it all, because what we saw was ‘a sinner’. What he was blind to was the transaction that had happened in this woman’s heart through the love and kindness of Jesus.

The multitudes were amazed at how Jesus multiplied a few loaves of bread into a feast for 5,000 people by the miracle hand of God, but the woman who cried at the feet of Jesus, washing his feet with tears of joy, was far more amazed at how Jesus transformed her heart through his love and grace. A transformed heart and life, that is received freely through the grace of Jesus, is the greatest work of God there is.

When we see people the way Jesus sees them, then we truly do see. Love is the eye sight of God. Love is his opinion of everyone. Love is his way. Rescue, salvation, reconciliation and new life is God’s agenda. For Jesus came, not to condemn the world, but to save the world through himself. We serve a king who saves. A king who loves.

Let us also see those who have not yet met him as the lost sheep whom our great Shepherd is seeking to save, and by the unfailing power of his love, will do just that.