Monthly Archives: April 2022

Returning Home


Have you ever gone back to visit your childhood home or neighborhood? It can be a melancholy experience. I, among others, report that things can seem smaller, and much different than you remember them. And there are things that have actually changed from what they were.

When the people of God returned to Jerusalem after their time of exile in Babylon, some had a similar experience when they tried to rebuild the temple there. For those who had “been there before,” it wasn’t the same as they remembered, which made them sad:

And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away. —Ezra 3:11-13

This Scripture comes to mind because we are collectively going through something similar as we “return to life” after our COVID exile. Some things are still the way they used to be, but many things are not, and they never will be. So we mourn those things that are not the same. And that is natural and normal. Over time, though, a new joy takes over, a joy that remembers the past but keeps focus on the promise of the future. For instance, when the new temple in Jerusalem was completed, the Bible tells us, “The people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the returned exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy” (Ezra 6:16). Their joy was full, and ours can be too, as we rejoice in the God who gets us through to the other side to live a new life with him.

No Confusion

no confusion

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33

We oftentimes feel like we live in a world of constant confusion: people going this way and that with their busy schedules, people saying one thing and doing another, people giving mixed messages on what is going on. Those in the Ukraine have had their lives turned completely upside down with Russian attacks forcing them from their homes and leaving them with uncertain futures.

The world (and the devil) likes to keep us confused and unsettled. Confusion leads to doubt and doubt leads to fear and fear leads to distrust of anyone and anything. But St. Paul (who lived in a world of chaos himself) wants us to know that we need not go down the road of confusion. Our God is not confusing. He is very clear about who he is. He is a God of love. In love, he sent Jesus to save us. And in love he is preparing a place for us in heaven.

Nothing needs to distract us from that sure confidence we have in God’s love. Do we have troubles in our lives that don’t make sense to us? Sure. Do we have thoughts that make us wonder about particular aspects of the story of salvation? Of course. But the bottom line remains God’s love and we can rest easy in that love. We can have peace in the knowledge that God’s love surpasses every question or quandary. Our life with God is clearly settled.

Our Fear Blocker

fear room

After Jesus rose from the dead, the Bible says the disciples spent their time huddled in a room with the doors locked “for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19). It doesn’t seem to make sense when some of them knew or heard that Jesus was risen from the dead. But fear can be a powerful thing and the disciples had fears that were legitimate. Since Jesus had been crucified, maybe they were next. And since they had abandoned Jesus in his time of need, maybe Jesus was after them. And since their entire way of life had been torn asunder, maybe there was nothing left for them to do.

But Jesus turns everything around by appearing in that locked room and saying these four simple words: “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). John then records in what could be called the greatest understatement of all time, “The disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20). Their fears were put to rest. Jesus was not dead. Jesus showed them his hands and side. They knew now he was truly alive. They saw his love for them. He breathed on them the Holy Spirit, and said, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21). Jesus restored their confidence and gave them a new future to look forward to, blessed by him to spread the Good News of the resurrection. Jesus was their fear blocker.

And he is ours as well. What fears have kept you locked away from experiencing life more fully? Do you have fear of others? Fear of death? Fear of what might happen in the future? All these fears can be blocked and our joys unlocked through the presence of our risen Lord. He gives us the motivation to move forward in life and not stay trapped in our worried ways. Nothing is beyond the Savior’s power to set us free to live for him and touch the lives of others with his goodness and grace. When all fear is gone, greater joy sets in. And as Nehemiah says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). Be blessed and find your delight in him.



Happy Easter to you all! As I contemplate the resurrection of our Lord from the tomb, one word seems to take center stage. It is the word arise. In the early morning hours of that first Easter, I imagine God saying softly to his Son, “Arise!” as our Savior sits up and walks out of the tomb alive. The word arise was spoken by Jesus himself in his ministry when he told a young child who had died, “Little girl, I say to you, arise” (Mark 5:41). He said it again when he raised a widow’s son: “Young man, I say to you, arise” (Luke 7:14). The miracle of Easter is that the risen Jesus says, “Arise!” to each one of us. Arise to the sure hope of heaven. Arise to full forgiveness. Arise to the definitive defeat of death. Arise to new life in him day after day. Arise to go and tell others that he is alive. As we arise each morning as Easter people, our path ahead is wonderfully clear. Alleluia! Amen!

Palm Waving

palm waving

We wave palms on Palm Sunday as the people in Jerusalem did 2000 years ago to welcome Jesus into town for what would turn out to be his last week before his death. The waving of palm branches was traditionally associated with the arrival of a king. People then and now declare Jesus a king on this day.

But Christ’s kingship is far from regal. It is real and earthy and marked soon with a crown of thorns instead of a golden one. Jesus walked among the people instead of hidden away in a stone castle. His path was not lined with a red carpet, but a scattering of well-worn cloaks and coats. His ride was a donkey, not a chariot or horse.

Jesus makes sure that we know that he is not like other kings who are distant and haughty. He is with us and he is humble. He is not afraid to be looked upon as lowly. So much so that he would go to the cross instead of a throne. He would rather die than let us suffer forever in sin.

Our palm waving on this day will lead to fist waving at the Pavement of Pontius Pilate. Our hosannas will turn into shouts of “Crucify him!” But just as we look ahead to the hard days of Holy Week, we see on the horizon a new day on Easter, when our King will rise and all the saints in heaven will gather round his throne, waving palm branches once again, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:10).

A Three-Year Plan


Jesus began his formal ministry when he was 30 years old and continued that ministry to its culmination three years later in his death and resurrection. “Why only three years?” we may wonder. And we may never truly know the answer until we are with Jesus in heaven.

Suffice it to say that Jesus knew when the time was right for the events of his ministry and God’s plan of salvation to take place. There were moments when Jesus said, “My time has not yet come” (John 7:6). He also knew when it was time to move forward, as when he instructed his disciples to prepare the Last Supper with the words, “My time is at hand” (Matthew 26:18).

The Gospels detail the many healings and miracles, teachings and travels that took place in Jesus’ ministry. But they also make mention of the time Jesus took to be away by himself and pray. We all remember the account of Jesus sleeping in the boat, even during a storm. It was not always go, go, go with Jesus. He made sure to take it slow sometimes and rest. We all need that in our own ministries as his disciples.

We cannot be everything to everybody and we are not Energizer Bunnies. We are human beings, just as Jesus was, who need balance between hard work and rest. Jesus himself did not visit every town and village on earth during his ministry and he certainly did not heal every sick person alive then. So we should not expect to do it all in our ministries either.

In business, employees are often asked, “What do you see as your 5-year plan?” For some, the answer is simple: Do more of the same. For others, it is to keep growing and learning. For us as Christians, it is a little of both. We continue in his Word as we have been doing AND we grow to know Christ more. And it doesn’t matter how long that takes: three years, five years, ten years, a lifetime. God will show us when the time is right to carry out the particular plan he has in place for us. So live in God’s ministry time and be blessed.