Friday, July 3, 2020

Why do I believe?

I've written about what I believe--we were challenged to do so many years ago at a church we had started attending. It was something I had never been challenged to do before, and I would encourage you to do the same. I've also written my testimony, probably more times than I can count (I grew up in a Baptist church, after all). It's been updated time and again, which should always be the case if you ask me because I should always be learning more about God and realizing what He has done for me (which is somewhere I very much fall short).

Today, though, I realized that I've never sat down and thought about why I believe. Honestly, that's not a simple task. It seems like why is always the most complex question to answer.

My first why comes from something most of us use as a basis for belief--it's what I've been taught, and the people I learned from were/are trustworthy. As Paul wrote to Timothy: "So surely you ought to stick to what you know is certain. All you have learned comes from people you know and trust because since childhood you have known the holy Scriptures, which enable you to be wise and lead to salvation through faith in Jesus the Anointed." (2 Timothy 3:14&15) My main teacher has been my dad because I've had the unique opportunity to have Pop as my pastor for the majority of my life. Anyone who knows Pop knows that he is true to his word, so there is every reason for me to trust his teachings. I would venture to say, though, that people of all faiths and beliefs would say that they have learned from people who are trustworthy. After all, we don't believe teachings from people we don't trust.

So, while it is useful for my own beliefs, the fact that I learned from those who are trustworthy does nothing to say that what I believe is true. There is nothing in that fact that says Christianity is the right belief.

My next why comes from a pastor I have recently found online, Voddie Baucham: "The Bible is a reliable collection of historical documents written by eye-witnesses during the lifetime of other eye-witnesses. They report supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies and claim that their writings are divine rather than human in origin." His explanation of that statement is definitely better than what I can write, so I would encourage you to watch him here. I'll share my take, though.

My training is in science. That means that I've spent years being taught that we shouldn't just blindly believe things. We should test everything--dig into things, study them, pick them apart. If things can't stand up to scrutiny, we have to take them with a grain of salt. I'm also married to a philosopher-historian, so I've come to see huge red flags with circular logic. Both of those things combine to make me cringe at the idea of blind faith and believing simply because I'm told to believe. If Christianity can't stand up to scrutiny, we shouldn't identify with it. If the Scriptures can't be examined and still prove trustworthy, we shouldn't believe them. That may sound harsh, but I truly believe it.

On that note, the Scriptures found in the Christian New Testament are the most reliable of ancient texts. There is an argument that since we don't have the original writings, we can't trust what we have--they are just copies of copies, so they can't say the same thing as when they started. If that's the case, though, I don't know that there is a single ancient text that we can consider reliable.

You see, we have more than 6,000 copies of the manuscripts that make up the New Testament. No, we don't have the original letters written by Paul or Peter, or the original gospel accounts written by the apostles. What we do have, though, are copies that date back to 100-120 AD, written within approximately 2 decades of when they were written. For contrast, Aristotle's Poetics is thought to have been written circa 335 BC. Our earliest accepted manuscript is from the mid 11th century AD. Homer's Illiad was likely written some time around 850 BC, approximately 400 years after the events it describes. The earliest full manuscript we have? It's from the 10th century AD. For another example, there's not a single original manuscript from Shakespeare...

Historical documents must be examined before they are used as sources. A quick search online gives some basic guidelines for evaluating primary sources, but here's a summary:

1. Is the creator an eye-witness?
2. How close to the event was it written?
3. What was their reason for writing?
4. Who were they writing for?

If you evaluate the New Testament from that perspective, it's reliability can't really be doubted. That's leaving out the archaeological evidence that has been found to back up the Scriptures, or the other historical writers who corroborate the people and the stories of the New Testament.

Another aspect of Dr. Baucham's statement is the fulfillment of prophecy. I can't tell you exactly how many prophecies the life and death of Yeshua (Jesus) fulfilled because, to be honest, I haven't ever tried to dive into it and figure it out. I can, however, tell you that the odds of a single man being able to fulfill that many prophecies by chance are astronomical. The only logical explanation for that was that His words and actions were fully intentional...and that has spectacular connotations in itself (check out "Liar, Lunatic, or Lord?"). From the perspective of those writing, there would be very little benefit in make such unimaginable claims if they couldn't back them up because it would have invalidated their entire argument. If you want to look into some of those prophecies, read Isaiah 53 or Psalm 22 (the Psalm Jesus quoted while He hung on the cross). Though they'll give you a start, they barely scratch the surface. 

I'm not a scholar of either history or Scriptures, so I can't dive deep enough into this subject. I do, however, feel like we have a duty to search out the truth behind our beliefs. As a follower of Christ, I believe I'm called to do so in the very Scriptures I claim to trust:

"Take a close look at everything, test it, then cling to what is good."
1 Thessalonians 5:21

"Always be ready to offer a defense, humbly and respectfully,
when someone asks why you live in hope."
1 Peter 3:15


Friday, June 12, 2020

Well done, good and faithful servant

Tomorrow morning, my hometown is saying goodbye to one of the best men I have ever been blessed to know. Joe "Buster" Powell was one of those special people that are hard to really describe in words. He was the most honest, true, humble, hardworking man, a soft soul who could put anyone at ease. His heart was for his farm, his people (and if you ever met Buster, you were his people), and most importantly his God.

When I was growing up, Buster served as a deacon at First Baptist in Green Forest. The deacons took turns on Sunday mornings, with a different man reading a Scripture and saying an opening prayer each week. I always looked forward to Buster's turn--he could preach a better sermon in that five minutes than most of us could in a full day. He usually had a story from his farm to share, something he had noticed the week before because Buster was so much better than most of us at noticing the little ways God speaks. And then he would pray.

I've heard a lot of prayers through the years, usually full of words people use to try to sound fancy and holy. I've heard people who didn't seem to be doing much more than just putting on a show for everybody who was listening. Listening to Buster, though, was getting to eavesdrop on a private conversation between friends. He spoke to God like no one else I've ever heard, and James 5:16 has no better example than Buster Powell--

"Your prayers are powerful when they are rooted in a righteous life."

There are people who fake humbleness, who talk down about themselves because they are searching for compliments, but Buster always displayed true humbleness and humility. I can still hear him talking to God, saying, "Thank You for being so good to just an ol' farmer like me." Buster's life was an incredible picture of a righteous life, a life lived in testament to the Savior he loved.

I don't truly know what stepping into Heaven is like, but I can imagine the joy on Buster's face when he stepped through the gates. I see his great big smile when his beautiful bride, the sweet Miss Freida, stepped forward to welcome him. I can imagine the reunion with friends and family who had gone on before him. More than that, though, I can see the happy tears when his God spoke the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  


And on the 8th day God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker!”. So, God made a farmer!
God said I need somebody to get up before dawn and milk cows and work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board. So, God made a farmer!
I need somebody with strong arms. Strong enough to rustle a calf, yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry and have to wait for lunch until his wife is done feeding and visiting with the ladies and telling them to be sure to come back real soon…and mean it. So, God made a farmer!
God said “I need somebody that can shape an ax handle, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire make a harness out of hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And…who, at planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty hour week by Tuesday noon. Then, pain’n from “tractor back”, put in another seventy two hours. So, God made a farmer!
God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop on mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So, God made a farmer!
God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees, heave bails and yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink combed pullets…and who will stop his mower for an hour to mend the broken leg of a meadow lark. So, God made a farmer!
It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight…and not cut corners. Somebody to seed and weed, feed and breed…and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk. Somebody to replenish the self feeder and then finish a hard days work with a five mile drive to church. Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who’d laugh and then sigh…and then respond with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life “doing what dad does”. So, God made a farmer!

~from Paul Harvey's monologue

Monday, June 1, 2020

Hope for a broken world

I've been trying to figure out what to write, but I'm at a loss for words. That's not a normal thing for me...words are my strength (the written word, at least). Right now, though, my thoughts and feelings and words are all jumbled up in my brain. It's like a big knot--a lot like when I've got a ball of yarn that's gotten all mixed up and tangled. I start pulling on one thing and start to think that I'm making progress, but then the knot just starts getting tighter. So I move to a new piece and start pulling on it...only to find that it is connected to the knot in another way.

Right now, I wish I could tie all my thoughts together. I wish I could come up with a nice, neat way to explain all the chaos that's in the world right now. But to be honest, I just don't understand.

I don't understand why people seem to think that violence makes things better.
I don't understand how burning down businesses honors a life senselessly taken.
I don't understand why everyone wants to rush to judgement, no matter which side they are on.
I don't understand why skin color has ever been an issue.
I don't understand why we let the media control us with fear and sensationalism.
I don't understand why people turn to yelling, insults, and hatred in an effort to "convince" people to change.

Our world is broken--it has been for a long time. You don't heal a broken world by breaking more, by causing division, or by spewing hatred.

The only way to heal a broken world is through the One who was broken for us.

"But He was hurt because of us; He suffered so.
Our wrongdoing wounded and crushed Him.
He endured the breaking that made us whole.
The injuries He suffered became our healing.
We all have wandered off, like shepherdless sheep,
scattered by our aimless striving and endless pursuits;
The Eternal One laid on Him, this silent sufferer,
the sins of us all."
Isaiah 53:5&6

We live in a world that needs to realize that there is only way to heal--we have to turn to the Healer. There isn't anything else in this world that can take all the hurt and all the pain away. There isn't a protest or a riot or an earthly court that is going to change the hearts and souls of man.

Our only hope is Jesus.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Should believers trust science?

There's a big emphasis lately on the wedge that's constantly being driven between faith and science. It seems like people think you can only have one or the other (I've written about it a few times), and somehow if you cling to one you have to push the other away by default. I hear people talk about science in such strange ways, and it comes from people on both sides of the conversation--

"I don't trust science because it's just trying to take the place of God."
"It doesn't matter what you think, it's science and you have to trust science."

If you ask me, both statements are equally ignorant.

I'm a huge fan of science--I've spent a huge chunk of my life so far learning as much about it as I could (and cried way too many tears over the parts I didn't understand), and I'm one of those nerds who lights up when somebody asks me a question about it. Honestly, I get lost enough in answering that it usually takes me a while to realize that their eyes glazed over part way through my explanation...people who ask me physics questions don't typically want a physics lecture in response.

The thing is, in many ways science is no different from a hammer, a sword, or a pen--incapable of doing either good or evil by itself, but often used for both. You see, science is just a tool. It is an amazing tool that can be used to accomplish things we haven't even dreamed up yet, but it's still just something to be used.

A pen can be used to write truth or lies, which is why we're taught not to believe everything we read (though that seems to be something people are forgetting lately...). The same is true of science. It can be used to search for truth, or it can be used to perpetuate lies. Just because someone says, "It's science!" doesn't mean it should automatically be taken as true or right. Just like with what we read or hear, we need to learn to test what we're shown as science. We should study it and learn how to discern when it is being used well and when it is being used poorly. We should turn to people we trust, people who understand the science in question, people we know will be open and honest when answering our questions. That's what true science is about, after all--searching for answers and truth, not just accepting things at face value but digging deeper to gain more understanding.

The problem with science, then, is the problem that has been around since the beginning of time. In our humanity we take the things we have been given as tools and turn them into idols. There's a passage in Isaiah 44 that talks about a man cutting down a tree, using part of the wood to build a fire so he can warm himself and cook his supper, and then using part of it to carve a figurine of a god to worship. It's no different when we use science to come up with new technologies that allow us to harness solar energy, then turn to science for the answers to life's questions. The tool isn't the issue; as is always the case, the problem is with people.

God is the Creator of all--He measured the universe with the width of His hand and He set the stars in place. In Colossians, Paul tells us that it is through Christ that everything holds together. Yet it's so easy to get sucked into worshiping the wisdom and forgetting that God is the source of that wisdom. We turn to science for answers but ignore that God is the ultimate Scientist. He is the Creator of all the laws we struggle to understand. It's no better than choosing to make an idol out of a block of wood; God gave us science as a tool, something for us to use to help each other and to work toward a deeper understanding of Him. God is the source of all wisdom, and He wants to reveal that wisdom to us:

"Here's His objective: through the church,
He intends now to make known His infinite and boundless wisdom
to all rulers and authorities in heavenly realms."
Ephesians 3:10

Science is an amazing tool. It can be used to do so many things, many of which we haven't even started to dream up. It has allowed us to make advances that have changed the world in amazing ways, to extend life through the invention of medications and procedures that have changed life as we know it. At the heart of science, though, is the Creator. When used correctly, science teaches us more about the One who had the wisdom to set everything into motion.

“But I do not feel obliged to believe that that same God
who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect
has intended to forgo their use and by some other means
to give us knowledge which we can attain by them.
He would not require us to deny sense and reason in physical matters
which are set before our eyes and minds
by direct experience or necessary demonstrations.”

God is not limited by our imagination or our understanding. He is both the Creator of scriptures and the Creator of the universe, and He reveals Himself to us through both. As I've said before, it would be amazing to see what would happen if faith and science were used together.

Monday, May 4, 2020

fearing the future

We are living in strange times. I never imagined that the world would be in such a state of lockdown, and I honestly don't understand what we're seeing. Things don't make sense, and it's easy to get lost in a state of fear and confusion. We don't know what tomorrow is going to bring, let alone how life is going to look in a month's time. There are so many unknowns that most of the time I don't even know where to start listing them.
Fear is a crazy thing. It's one of those feelings that starts a spiral--a little bit leads to more and more, and before you know it your mind is consumed with it. You start to lose sight of all the blessings and promises and get pulled down so far into the dark that you start thinking the light is gone for good.
Despite the unknowns in the world around us right now, all of this is known to God. He knows exactly how things are going to turn out, and He hasn't forgotten us or left us to fend for ourselves. After all, we have His promise:
"Look here. I have made you a part of Me,
written you on the palms of My hands."
Isaiah 49:16

No matter how lost you feel, how far from God's mind you think you are, He hasn't forgotten you. Your name is engraved on His palm--how could He forget you?
When Jesus was on the cross, He felt abandoned. He cried out to God, asking why He had been forsaken. His words, though, aren't the end of the story. In His moment of fear, Jesus quoted what was to Him a familiar song of David, Psalm 22. I encourage you to read the whole Psalm, but specifically a few verses.
"My God, my God, why have You turned Your back on me?
Your ears are deaf to my groans.
O my God, I cry all day and You are silent;
my tears in the night bring no relief.
Still, You are holy;
You make Your home on the praises of Israel.
He's not put off by the suffering of the suffering one;
He doesn't pretend He hasn't seen him;
when he pleaded for help, He listened."
Psalm 22:1-3, 24
If this time of uncertainty has you feeling abandoned and forgotten, if you're crying out to God because you are suffering and you feel like He isn't hearing you, know that He hasn't turned away. He didn't turn away from His Son suffering on the cross, and He hasn't turned away from you.

One of my favorite songs lately is "Thy Will" by Hilary Scott. In part, it says:

"I know you're good
But this don't feel good right now
And I know you think
Of things I could never think about
It's hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense
Of all your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that you're God
And I am not
Thy will be done"
Things are crazy right now--I won't pretend like they aren't. A lot of people are stuck in what seems like an impossible situation, and they don't see a way out. We're so easily distracted by our circumstances, but God's promises don't change despite our short attention span. He is still God, and He is still on the throne. He doesn't promise that our time here on earth will be easy; in fact, we're told time and time again that it won't be easy. Instead, His promise is that our temporary afflictions here on earth will seem like nothing when we are in the midst of eternity with Him.

"So we have no reason to despair.
Despite the fact that our outer humanity is falling apart and decaying,
our inner humanity is breathing in new life every day.
You see, the short-lived pains of this life are creating for us
an eternal glory that does not compare to anything we know here.
So we do not set our sights on the things we can see with our eyes.
All of that is fleeting; it will eventually fade away.
Instead, we focus on the things we cannot see,
which live on and on.
We know that if our earthly house--
a mere tent that can easily be taken down--
is destroyed, we will then live in an eternal home in the heavens,
a building crafted by divine--not human--hands."
2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1

I'll stop there, but I would definitely encourage you to keep reading through at least verse 9. I'm not the biggest fan of how Paul wrote, but there's definitely good stuff in his letters.

I know that I'm one of the ones experiencing blessings I don't deserve right now. My family is safe and secure, in a position where we don't have to worry about our next meal or where we will sleep tonight. I also know, though, that we aren't guaranteed any of that. Things could change in a heartbeat because that's the way of this broken world. Like Paul, though, I'm learning to change my outlook on the circumstances of life:

"I am not saying this because I am in need.
I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances.
I know how to survive in tight situations,
and I know how to enjoy having plenty.
In fact, I have learned how to face any circumstances:
fed or hungry, with or without.
I can be content in any and every situation
through the Anointed One who is my power and strength."
Philippians 4:11-13

 No matter what gets thrown at us as we walk through these strange, uncertain times, Christ is our strength. His strength is shown best through our weakness, and it won't fail. In His weakest moment physically--carrying His cross after bearing a beating that should have left Him dead--He still walked the road to the cross even though He fully knew the excruciating pain and humiliation that was ahead of Him. Right now, in this mess and confusion, He still walks beside us. He stays with us on this road, like He walked beside His disciples on the road to Damascus, because He knows what is ahead for each of us.

"I don't worry o'er the future
For I know what Jesus said
And today I'll walk beside Him
For He knows what lies ahead
Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand"

The future may be unknown to me, but it isn't to Him. He knows what's in store, the good and the bad, and He promises to stand beside me through all of it. He promises to pull me up when I fall into the darkness, and He promises that my future with Him means so much more than anything I may face here.

"Be strong and live courageously,
all of you who set your hope in the Eternal!"
Psalm 31:24 

Monday, April 20, 2020

The message of the cross

The cross--an instrument of execution that was so intense a word was invented just to describe the pain: excruciating. It was a humiliating, agonizing way to die, hanging there exposed to everything and everyone, your death long and drawn out and on display for the jeering crowd.

What a terrible way for an innocent man to die.

Add to that the taunting and torture Jesus experienced before His death--lashes so severe they often left the victim dead simply because the body can't recover from the combination of shock and blood loss. Slaps and curses and a crown of thorns from Roman soldiers. Struggling to carry a cross down the same streets where, just days before, people had shouted praises and thrown their cloaks down before Him as He entered the city. Looking out at faces full of hatred, at people demanding His life. And on the other faces, fear and confusion as they tried to reconcile this broken, bleeding man with the idea of the conqueror who would save God's people from the cruelty of a foreign ruler.

He hung on the cross hearing people yell out in anger and disappointment that if He was really so special, really a savior, why couldn't He just save Himself and get down off the cross? In the midst of all that, He looked out at the crowd demanding His final breath and used that breath to cry out for God to forgive them.

In I Corinthians Paul wrote that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are lost, but to all those who choose to follow Christ it is the very power of God on display. To me, the message of the cross is the epitome of mercy and love.

John 1 talks about "Logos," which most of the time is translated as "the word." As is so often the case, though, the English translation falls short of the true meaning of the Greek. From what I've found, "Logos" is more along the lines of the reason or the plan behind everything: "the divine reason implicit in the cosmos, ordering it and giving it form and meaning" (from As you read on in John 1, you see that "logos" is used in reference to Jesus (translated as the Voice in this version):

"Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking.
The Voice was and is God.
This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator;
His speech shaped the entire cosmos.
Immersed in the practice of creating,
all things that exist were birthed in Him.
His breath filled all things with a living, breathing light--
a light that thrives in the depths of darkness,
blazes through murky bottoms.
It cannot and will not be quenched.
He entered our world, a world He made,
yet the world did not recognize Him.
Even though He came to His own people,
they refused to listen and receive Him.
The Voice took on flesh and became human
and chose to live alongside us.
We have seen Him, enveloped in undeniable splendor--
the one true Son of the Father--
evidenced in the perfect balance of grace and truth."
John 1:1-5,10&11, 14

In Hebrews, we're told:
"This is the One who--imprinted with God's image, shimmering with His glory--
sustains all that exists through the power of His word.
He was seated at the right of God once He Himself had made the offering
that purified us from all our sins."
Hebrews 1:3

And in Colossians, Paul wrote:
"It was by Him that everything was created:
the heavens, the earth, all things within and upon them,
all things seen and unseen, thrones and dominions,
spiritual powers and authorities.
Every detail was crafted through His design,
by His own hands, and for His purposes.
He has always been!
It is His hand that holds everything together."
Colossians 1:16&17

The ultimate power in the universe--the One who holds everything together, who provides the force that holds protons together in the nucleus--let Himself be beaten and humiliated.
"But He was hurt because of us; our wrongdoing wounded and crushed Him.
He endured the breaking that made us whole."
Isaiah 53:5

He allowed His hands to be nailed to a cross:
"Look here. I have made you a part of Me,
written you on the palms of My hands."
Isaiah 49:16

He held back His power while people mocked Him, telling Him that if He were truly powerful He could get down from the cross:
"In the same way, the Son of Man must be lifted;
then all those who believe in Him will experience everlasting life."
John 1:14-15

He hung there--despised, mocked, and rejected--so that He would know our fears and our pains, so He would be able to understand what it means to feel forsaken:
"My God, my God, why have You turned Your back on me?
Your eras are deaf to My groans.
O my God, I cry all day and You are silent;
my tears in the night bring no relief.
Still, You are holy;
You make Your home on the praises of Israel."
Psalm 22:1-3

Though the people were blinded, all of creation cried out when Logos drew His final breath. The sky turned dark in the middle of the day and the earth shook.

The cross seems like such a strange, foolish instrument to use for the salvation of souls. If we look deeper, though, we can see just what it meant for Jesus to allow Himself to die on it. He set His power aside as the ultimate act of love and mercy, His life laid down in exchange for ours, and His reason is summed up by what He told Pilate:
"For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the cosmos:
to demonstrate the power of truth.
Everyone who seeks truth hears My voice."
John 18:37b

Sunday, April 5, 2020

an unexpected Holy Week

There's no doubt that we are in a strange time right now (though the difference is more pronounced in some places than in others). Outside there seems to be a hush, as if all of creation is holding its breath.

It's the beginning of Holy Week, but it isn't unfolding the way so many of us expected. For us, today was going to be the day our church family joined together to commemorate the Passover--though I'm sure it would have looked very different from the dinner Jesus shared with His disciples.

If we look back, God so often works in the unexpected. Take today--Palm Sunday. The people of Israel were looking for the Messiah, the Liberating King who would free them from Roman oppression. They were looking for the Conqueror, the Lion of Judah who would rise up and establish the kingdom. They had started to follow this Jesus, a powerful miracle worker who could cast out demons. They were likely recalling the words of the prophets:

"Cry out with joy, O daughter of Zion!
Shout jubilantly, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Look--your King is coming;
He is righteous and able to save."
Zechariah 9:9a

"The Eternal is on my side, a champion for my cause;
so when I look at those who hate me,
victory will be in sight."
Psalm 118:7

So when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem just before Passover, the time set aside each year to remember how God had brought them out of Egypt and delivered them from generations of slavery, they just knew they were welcoming the conquering king. They met Him with songs and celebration: "Hosanna to the One who comes in the name of the Eternal!" They waved their cloaks and palm leaves, laying them out on the road as they would to greet a triumphant king traveling with his entourage.

Only, this King didn't look like they expected. Maybe in that moment some of them recalled more of Zechariah's words:

"He comes seated humbly on a donkey,
on a colt, a foal of a donkey."
Zechariah 9:9b

Or the words of Isaiah:

"Out of emptiness He came, like a tender shoot from rock-hard ground.
He didn't look like anything or anyone of consequence--
He had no physical beauty to attract our attention."
Isaiah 52:2

The people expected a Righteous Conqueror to come in, rise up, and establish His throne by driving out the Romans. Instead, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a young donkey, surrounded by children singing songs (Matthew 21), and only raised His hand when He drove people out of the temple for turning His Father's house into something that had been twisted from its true purpose.

They expected a rebellion, yet by then end of the week they saw Jesus crucified.

It may be a bit blunt, but God doesn't care about our expectations. In fact, Paul takes it a step further and tells us that God uses what the world sees as foolishness to confound the wisdom of those we see as wise (1 Corinthians 1). He takes our plans and actions in stride as He makes sure His plan is being carried out, something we can see even in the songs the people were singing as Jesus entered the city.

That verse is pulled from Psalm 118:26, but here are some others from the same chapter:

"The stone that the builders rejected
has become the very stone that holds together the entire foundation."
v. 22

"Let the feast begin. Bring the sacrifice"
from v. 27

This year's Holy Week doesn't look like we had planned.
Despite that, it isn't any less holy. I might even venture to say that because of it, we can see this week for what it is. I think God is waiting for us here in the unexpected, knowing this is how things would work out, knowing how far His creation would fall, and knowing how we would need to be reminded of Him. So my prayer for all of us is that we'll use this unplanned quiet of Holy Week to draw close to Him--the Lion of Judah who could have come as the Conquering King but instead offered Himself up as the Sacrificial Lamb.

Why do I believe?

I've written about what I believe --we were challenged to do so many years ago at a church we had started attending. It was something I...

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