“Who is worthy to open the scroll and break the seal?”

John finds himself in the throne room of heaven, surrounded by twelve elders and four winged beasts, representing the totality of all kingdoms both of animal and of man. An angel appears with a scroll with seven seals, asking a simple question, “who is worthy to bust this thing wide open?” (Revelation 5:2)

Despite their lofty status, none of those present in the room can open the seals. It’s like the sword in the stone, yet none are able to pull out Excalibur.

Then the Lamb arrives, bloody as if sacrificed. It walks right up, takes the scroll, and breaks the seals.

This is Jesus. Jesus alone is worthy.

Everyone in the room flips out and begins to worship Jesus, the once and future king.

Paul tells us that all creation waits and groans for a redeemer (Romans 8:18-25). Look at us. We age, we grow weary, we grow sick, we die. We are burdened by anxiety and regret. Then along comes Jesus. We find life and strength, healing and the promise of eternity in Him. He holds record of our sufferings (Psalm 56:8). We leave our past at His feet (2 Corinthians 5:17).

This Jesus, this resurrected King, gave His life so we could have all these things.

How could we not worship Him, who breaks our many seals, who reads our names loud and proud out from the Book of Life (Revelation 20:12)?

Worst. King. Ever.

So, today we’re gonna brush off the cobwebs and wander over into the Old Testament.

In 2 Chronicles 33 (and 2 Kings 21), we meet a guy named Manasseh. Despite having a pretty solid role model for a dad (yay, Hezekiah), Manasseh turns out to be a pretty rotten king. Idolatry, demon worship, the wholesale slaughter of innocents. He basically trained the nation to flip God the bird, and God wasn’t having any of it.

After a time, God lays the smack-down on Manasseh, bringing in the Assyrians to take over his kingdom (Judah).

Then, things get interesting. Manasseh, now in Assyrian jail, repents. And God hears him. Not only that, but God restores Manasseh to the throne and the man finishes off the rest of his term in relative peace.

Just goes to show you: God is does not tolerate fools, but He is quick to redeem where there is true forgiveness being sought. No, not all of us will experience such a quick and whole return. Sometimes, the consequences are paid in full.

But how cool is it to believe in a God who cares about us enough both to correct us when we have wronged and to lift us up when we are ready to rise again.

 

God LOVES You!

God loves you

You may or not have been told this before

It may or may not have been reflected back to you by others,

but it’s a fact.

God came to Earth

endured inexplicable pain

and was murdered at the hands of double-faced fans

so that death could die with Him,

before rising again

leaving our hurt and pain and past buried and burning in hell,

where it belongs.

He lifted us up with Him

and gave us His Spirit

so that we could live an abundant life.

How’s that for a rallying cry?

All praise to God,

who love you and me

and everyone so very dearly.

Amen.

Resurrection Stories

On Easter, we told resurrection stories

She stood up and told of how she was duped into sex trafficking,

escaped physically but was emotionally scarred

Then came the drugs and the depression

and the self-loathing

but God found her even as she hated Him

for not saving her sooner,

but He rescued her from the pit of despair

He brought her into hope and family and love

and now she is here,

safe and clean and rejoicing in all that God has done.

Praise Jesus! Hallelujah. The Lord God Almighty reigns.

Old, Rugged Cross

My church is a country song

Today there are people sleeping in the pews,

while detoxing from Meth,

souls on probation from prison,

people hiding out from a fight breaking outside.

It’s all so beautiful

This is a place where people can find healing

They don’t call it the old, rugged cross for nothing

We come to Him raw and Jesus, the master carpenter,

sands us down.

 

 

Jonah 4

You may or may not be familiar with the life of Jonah.

Jonah was a prophet way back when. God tells him to go to a place to Ninevah to preach to the people there, that they would stop doing all the bad stuff they were doing and instead do good. Jonah receives his mission and runs away, taking the soonest ship to the furthest town. En route, he hits a storm and, in a moment of conviction, asks the crew to throw him overboard. Not knowing what else to do, they do just that. Jonah is swallowed by the sea creature a la Pinocchio and spends three days in the belly of the beast. At that point, he has a change of heart, asks God for a hand out, and God does just that. The creature spits him out and he high-tails it over to Ninevah to ask them also to turn their lives around. In no short time, they do.

And all ends happily ever after, right? I wish. No. Many retellings of Jonah’s life end there, but his life extends to another chapter. In this chapter, he is sitting on a hill looking over the just-saved city of Ninevah, hoping that God will change His mind and blow it up. “Please, Lord, isn’t this what I thought while I was still in my own country? That’s why I fled toward Tarshish in the first place. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and one who relents from sending disaster. And now, Lord, take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live,” says the prophet. Despite all that Jonah has been through, he still wants the Ninevites to die and for God to take him with them.

Fortunately, God doesn’t grant Jonah’s request. Instead, he lets Jonah sit in the hot sun for a good, long while until Jonah is about to faint. Then, He grows up a plant to cover Jonah’s head. Jonah loves his plant because the comfort it provides him. God allows him a moment of solace than kills the plant.

Jonah flips out. When God asks him if his anger is justified, Jonah is 1200% sure that it is. At this, God asks a follow-up question, “You cared about the plant, which you did not labor over and did not grow. It appeared in the night and perished in the night. But may I not care about the great city of Ninevah, which has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot distinguish between their right and their left, as well as many animals?” With that, God drops the mic and Jonah’s story ends there. We don’t know how he responded. In truth, we don’t need to. This is God’s question to us. We all have plants in our lives, things we put in priority over the people all around us. Are we brave enough to let them go and selfless enough to see the needs of others, even if those needs belong to those we don’t see eye to eye with?

The challenge is simple. God is waiting for the answer. Don’t be a Jonah. Answer the call.

Like God

Adam’s sin is Joseph’s sin is our sin

The Deceiver wasn’t lying when it said

the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

would make us like God.

We were created in Their Divine image, male and female alike

Thanks to nearby Tree of Life, we had eternity

to be transformed more and more into Their likeness

But we grew impatient

We knew our Divine calling, but we wanted it know

and so we took it before our Kairos time

and it destroyed us.

But God’s story is one of redemption:

sending Their Son,

then the Holy Spirit

to wipe the past clean

and start the journey anew

so that we could become more and more like Them.