Death on the Arkansas River

Nov. 20th Sunday Readings

fc-white-water-raftingIn high school I went on a high adventure trip to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. We rode horses at 10,000 feet. We visited the Air Force Academy. It was an amazing trip. The highlight was when we went on a 2 day whitewater rafting down the Arkansas river.

Whitewater rafting on a seriously dangerous river like the Arkansas isn’t something one does on their own. We hired a outfitting company to rent us the rafts, supplies, and to provide guides for the river. We were assigned three expert guides all who knew the river well and seemed to know what they were doing at all times.

Before we left on our trip, we went over the rapids we would be rafting through; I literally thought I was going to die. Each rapid was rated based on the likelihood that you will survive if you were to fall overboard. A level 1 rapid is a timid little flutter of water that will barely soak your suit if you fall into it. A level 6 is almost certain death if you were to fall out of the boat. We had 2 level 5s and handful of 4s and 3s. The one that scared me the most was called “The Widow Maker.” So scared.

Yet, I was confident that we would all be okay. Why? I trusted my guide. When he yelled “Left side!!” The left side of the boat would paddle like crazy. When he told the right side to reverse, they would paddle backwards. When we were on the water, our guide was 100% in charge.

Have you ever had a time when someone was 100% in charge of your actions and decisions? Have you ever given someone else that kind of power?

Everyday we make hundreds of decisions. When I was in the raft on the Arkansas river, I gave up my own opinion of what to do in each situation to someone else who knew better what was best for me. In our lives, we have the opportunity to give power to Jesus, to make him king of our lives, because he knows what is best for us. If we really believe that God loves and wants what is best for us in every situation, why wouldn’t we let him rule our hearts?

This Sunday we celebrate Christ the King Sunday. We recognize and celebrate Jesus as king. And we do that with a gospel about his crucifixion. Why? First, Jesus is labeled king by the very men who killed him. Secondly, the very means of his death is the way that he conquered death. Jesus’ demise is his triumph. What looks like failure is in truth, victory – the victory of a conquering king.

Jesus desires the best for us more than even we do. He loves us more than we love ourselves. Jesus is the kind who conquered death and wants to give us life and live in abundance. Will we let him be our king?

LIVE IT:
One of my favorite songs is “King of My Heart” by Sara MacMillian. You can listen to it here.

Destroyed

Nov. 13th Sunday Readings.

A month ago I had some relatives come in town and we took them down to check out us_bank_stadium_-_west_facadethe new Viking’s stadium. We were all impressed with the size, shape, materials, design, and creativity of US Bank Stadium. The kids vacillated between ooh-ing, ahhh-ing, and silently staring up at the monumental structure. “Wow” was the most common word associated with this architectural marvel.

I recently heard this quote about about another stadium – “I haven’t found a thing yet that I don’t like about this place.” Quite the endorsement. So who said it? Jim Lemon the hitting coach for the Minnesota metrodome4Twins…in 1982 after he first toured the Metrodome.

As amazing as the Metronome was in 1982, by the time I got to Minnesota in 1998 everyone seemed to be talking about how wretched it was and how it should be torn down. And as amazing as US Bank Stadium is now, there will come a time when fans will want to replace it too (provided we have football – I hope someone is reading this article in 2051 and laughing).

In the gospel this weekend the crowd is enamored with how well adorned the Temple was with costly stones and votive offerings. They marveled at the size and majesty of the Temple. Jesus warns them that as amazing as the Temple is, it will be destroyed (which actually happens in 70 AD). This would have shocked those who heard Jesus because the Temple was God’s house. The Temple was the center of his community’s religious and political life. The destruction of the Temple meant the end of the world as they knew it. Wasn’t he supposed to save them? Why was he forecasting their doom?

The reality is that Jesus didn’t come to save things the way they are or to save the things we think are important. Jesus came to save us. For that to happen, it might mean that world as we know it is destroyed. For Jesus to save us, it may mean that the things we love the most that aren’t God must crumble.

For us this means that have an opportunity to examine the things we hold tight. Whether we like it or not, there are things to which we are unhealthily attached. Part elgreco_thecrucifixionof our job as Christians is to detach ourselves from the things we love more than God, to literally let our Temples crumble while seeking a deeper and more profound relationship with Jesus.

Need inspiration? The disciples walked the earth with Jesus of Nazareth for 3 years and, at the end, watched him die on a cross. They had to watch the man they thought would save them and their country be executed by the government that was oppressing them. It was only when the Holy Spirit came upon them in the upper room were they truly able the let God’s will be done.

Come Holy Spirit.

LIVE IT:

Find a quiet time to pray this simple prayer:

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

If I won the lottery

November 6th Sunday Readings

What would you do if you won the lottery?lottery

I don’t mean a $5 scratch off. What would you do if you won a life changing amount of money today? What would actually change? Some of us would quit our jobs, buy a car or house, or maybe even make a big donation to the charitable organization close to our hearts.

It’s kind of fun to fantasize about the things we could do with nearly unlimited amounts of money. What would I do? 1) Tricked out cj-7vintage Jeep CJ7. 2) Fantasy Baseball weekend in St. Louis watching my Cardinals. 3) Dream Kitchen (that one sounds like decorating, but really its all about the cooking.)

The only problem is that most of us (myself included) would probably end up putting all our desire for joy and fulfillment into that money. We may never say it (or even think it), but it’s likely we would start to act like that money could solve all our problems. I think, without intention or purpose, we would start to put our hope in our bank account.

Why do I think this? Because we already do it. We already say things like, “If I can just get this job…” or “Once I retire…” or “If I can just pass this class…” or “If my team can just win this game…” – “…then I will be happy”. We make our happiness dependent upon the next thing. We put our hope, in things of this world.

The truth is, we will always be disappointed if we put our hope in anything other than God. Even the very best things in life – like our children or friends or our beloved spouses – won’t ever be enough because we were made for more – we were made for God.

The readings this weekend are an invitation for us to put our hope 100% completely in God and in heaven. The brothers killed in the first reading gave their lives to be faithful to God and put their hope in heaven. Paul writes to the Thessalonians a prayer of encouragement to for them to put their hope in God. In the gospel, the Sadducees challenge Jesus’ notion of the afterlife. Jesus responds by sidestepping their question and instead, teaches us that the things of this world matter so much less than our relationship with God.

God desires us to be the kind of forever happy that only he can provide. Are we willing to put our hope completely in Him?

LIVE it:
Say this simple prayer today, “Jesus, help me put my hope in you.”