The Right side of the boat!

Jesus knows more than I do. Jesus knows more than I do. Jesus knows more than I do. I need to remind myself this occasionally. Jesus knows more than I do.

John tells one of the greatest fishing stories of all time, and it reminds me that Jesus knows more than I do. Read it in John 21:1-14. The experienced and seasoned fishermen went fishing. They’ve done this hundreds of times in their lives. They’re the kinds of guys who know so much about fishing because it was their career. They would know the places to find fish in any and every type of weather. They would know the best times of day to fish. They would know the smell of the air and how that translated into a great catch. They staked their lives on being able to catch fish to provide for their families. These guys knew how to fish. They knew everything about it; but Jesus knew more.

They came back with ZERO fish. Nothing. Nada. They caught as many fish as I usually come back with when I cast a line in some body of water. Zip. Experience and knowledge didn’t even help. They caught nothing after being out to sea all night long; but Jesus knew more.

“Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” Jesus said. The catch was so great they could barely haul it in. John notes with specificity that they caught 153 fish that night. I’m guessing it was a record for them. They caught ZERO; but Jesus knew more.

In my life there are probably regular opportunities to gain wisdom from Jesus that I miss out on because I’m fishing on my own, by my own knowledge, with my own strength, and in my own way. I need this reminder every day because it is something that could be incredibly helpful for me in any number of areas of life: Jesus knows more than I do!

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Dying for the Truth.

What are you willing to die for? The fact that most of the early disciples of Jesus were either imprisoned or died for the truth of the resurrection is a pretty convincing argument that it really happened. Would you be willing to die for a lie? Would you be willing to die for something if you didn’t absolutely believe that it was true?

History gives us a picture of a group of men and women who gave their lives for a fact. They believed the resurrection to be true. They lived for it. In many cases they died for it.

Across the globe today people are still living AND DYING for the resurrection of Jesus. In fact more people are martyred today than in any moment in human history. To find out more about these martyrs and how you might support the Church in prayer please check out the Voice of the Martyrs:

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It’s real.

“All of the gospel and Acts evidence—incident after incident, witness after witness, detail after detail, corroboration on top of corroboration—was extremely impressive. Although I tried, I couldn’t think of any more thoroughly attested event in ancient history.”  Lee Strobel “The Case for Christ.”

Lee Strobel was an atheist who sought to disprove the resurrection of Jesus, but in studying the accounts came to believe that it had to be true. The historic record of the Gospels attests to the credible witnesses of the people who saw Jesus with their own eyes.  The resurrection of Jesus is no myth.  Your faith is rooted in historic reality.

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A Battle Cry for Easter: “The Strife is O’er, the battle done.”

1 Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The strife is o’er, the battle done;
the victory of life is won;
the song of triumph has begun.

2 The powers of death have done their worst,
but Christ their legions has dispersed.
Let shouts of holy joy outburst.

3 The three sad days are quickly sped;
he rises glorious from the dead.
All glory to our risen Head.

4 He closed the yawning gates of hell;
the bars from heaven’s high portals fell.
Let hymns of praise his triumph tell.

5 Lord, by the stripes which wounded thee,
from death’s dread sting thy servants free,
that we may live and sing to thee.

Easter is no ordinary religious celebration. It is a battle victory. Cute bunnies, little kids in Easter dresses and bowties, and jelly beans have their way of softening the day; but it’s really important for us to remember that Easter is about death and life. Easter is about a battle.

This hymn reminds us of the fight. Jesus wins victory over death on Easter as he walks freely from the tomb. The enemy is strong and powerful. No human being has yet been able to defeat death though we’ve been trying for generations. We can’t stop it. We can’t over turn it when it happens. We can’t even slow it down. Death is a powerful enemy against humanity. Jesus is powerfuller. (I know that’s not a word, but it will make you stop and think about just how powerful Jesus is that he can defeat our greatest enemy: death)

Enjoy what candy is left in your Easter baskets today. Smell some tulips or lilies. Hang up your Easter finest. But, never forget that Easter is about a battle that Jesus won over your greatest enemy. Alleluia!

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Sharing the keys…

It’s an important moment in any home the first time a parent hands over the car keys to their teen driver. Responsibility. Freedom. Power. Control. Those are a few of the themes running through the minds of those involved. Handing over keys is never done lightly, and always comes with guidance and directions: Be careful. Stop if you’re tired. Return it with a full tank. Don’t do anything stupid. Make us proud.

In John 20 Jesus handed the keys over to the disciples. The keys are not for a family mini-van, but for his KINGDOM! The keys unlock what Jesus just died to open. The keys unlock people from sin. What FREEDOM! What RESPONSIBILITY! Jesus is entrusting US with HIS Kingdom!

Some instructions are helpful: Be generous. Always use these keys from a position of Love. Be ready to announce Good News. Be gracious. Use the keys like the King would use them: Slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

For more on the Office of the Keys check out Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.

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Authenticity Matters

Happy Easter! The Season continues! Easter is not a one-day event that comes and goes. It’s an entire season of the Church year where we pay attention to the Risen Lord and see in the Gospels how he publicly gave testimony to the fact of his resurrection.

People doubted. People messed up. People are human. That is one of the primary reasons we can trust the Gospel record. People did not try to cover over their mistakes in the Gospel writing. Instead we see real humans making real mistakes and behaving in real ways. Peter denied Jesus to save himself. Thomas wouldn’t believe until he saw and touched. Real humans did real things, and they were really recorded in writing. If the Gospels would show people doing UN-human things like always being faithful and always believing and always being right then you’d have to wonder what kind of people these were. But, the Gospels show men and women who are just like us. I find that these authentic expressions, like what we read in John 20, help me to trust the Gospel writings. I find these authentic expressions to be encouraging to me during those times when I find it hard to believe, or when my fears take over.

Jesus reinstated Peter and showed Thomas what He needed to see. Jesus still forgives and shows himself through His trusted Word to us today. Remember what He says! It’s TRUE!

Dear Jesus, Thank you for your faithful Word. Amen.

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Fools for Jesus

When you live out your Easter Joy:

To the educated you’ll look ignorant.
To the progressive you’ll look out of touch.
To the conservative you’ll look excessive.
To the liberal you’ll look narrow.
To the atheist you’ll look crazy.
To the scientist you’ll look unadvanced.
To the disinterested you’ll look overzealous.
To the rich you’ll look classless.
To the philosopher you’ll look unaware.
To the ruler you’ll look dangerous.
To the strong you’ll look weak.
To the confident you’ll look vulnerable.
To the wise of this world you’ll look foolish.

Be a fool for Jesus!

For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
I Corinthians 1:25

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More Jesus; less me.

“To preach Christianity meant (to the Apostles) primarily to preach the Resurrection. … The Resurrection is the central theme in every Christian sermon reported in the Acts. The Resurrection, and its consequesnces, were the ‘gospel’ or good news which the Christians brought.”  CS Lewis in Miracles

The central theme of Christianity is not about what Christians do, but about what God has done for Christians in raising Jesus from the dead.  This is very important.  Many Christians and people who know a little about Christianity think that the story is about us and how good we are.  People think that it’s about being the best person you can be, but it’s NOT!  The central theme of the Christian message has nothing to do with what WE do, but everything with what GOD does.  It’s all about JESUS!

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I know that My Redeemer Lives: forever AND today!

Easter has meaning for me today AND for eternity. Easter means that after I die I will one day also rise.  There’s more to it than that though.  Easter means that Jesus is alive TODAY!  Because He lives today He is able to be my God TODAY.  I love that the great Easter hymn, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” conveys BOTH messages of hope: Hope for tomorrow and hope for today.

1 I know that my Redeemer lives;
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my ever-living Head.

2 He lives triumphant from the grave;
He lives eternally to save;
He lives all-glorious in the sky;
He lives exalted there on high.

3 He lives to bless me with His love,
He lives to plead for me above;
He lives my hungry soul to feed;
He lives to help in time of need.

4 He lives to grant me rich supply;
He lives to guide me with His eye;
He lives to comfort me when faint;
He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.

5 He lives to silence all my fears;
He lives to wipe away my tears;
He lives to calm my troubled heart;
He lives all blessings to impart.

6 He lives, my kind, wise, heav’nly Friend;
He lives and loves me to the end;
He lives, and while He lives, I’ll sing;
He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King.

7 He lives and grants me daily breath;
He lives, and I shall conquer death;
He lives my mansion to prepare;
He lives to bring me safely there.

8 He lives, all glory to His name!
He lives, my Jesus, still the same;
Oh, the sweet joy this sentence gives;
I know that my Redeemer lives!

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A matter of death and LIFE!

I’ve always heard the phrase, “It’s a matter of life and death.” It means that something is REALLY important. If it doesn’t happen, or you make the wrong decision, or something gets in the way then life as you know it will be over. Death ensues literally, or sometimes only figuratively. Either way, something that is a matter of life and death is REALLY important. If it ends well you live, if not? It’s over.

Or is it? Easter flips this completely upside down. Easter isn’t a matter of life or death, but a matter of death and LIFE! The order is REALLY important. If death comes last then we’re in real trouble. The angel’s words to the women at the tomb recorded in Luke remind us that Jesus has overturned the normal order of things: “Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again.’”

Death THEN life. That’s a new order of events! Death is no longer the final step. The grave isn’t the end. LIFE happens AFTER death! Easter turns over the normal order of things. It’s not longer a matter of life and death, but Easter is a matter of death and LIFE!

Thank you Jesus for defeating death and bringing LIFE. Amen!

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