Holy Week Awe

It’s Holy Week.

This week we celebrate Jesus, His love, His sacrifice, His gift, His life. It’s a week to look back on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Many of you marked Palm Sunday, yesterday, by going to church. You either gave or listened to sermons on Christ. At Wooddale we heard about the cross.

Years ago, when I was a child, I asked Jesus Christ to be my Savior on Easter Sunday. So, this week is always special to me. It not only commemorates the week that Jesus gave His life for all; but for me, the week that I gave my life to Him. At a summer camp, several years after that, I listened as Greg Speck, a youth evangelist told a story that helped me understand God’s love. I told the story often, until a few years ago someone told me that it never really happened. I was told that it was a made up story, used by evangelists to move a crowd towards a decision for Christ.

Just recently, I have been told that the story that you are about to view on YouTube, did indeed take place. The year was 1937. The father’s name was John Griffith and his son’s name was Greg. Watch. Be prepared to cry. And, thank God, once again, for His love for you:



“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
– John 3:16

March Madness and Blake Hoffarber

Did you see the play last night?

The University of Minnesota, a heavy underdog against the University of Indiana, was done. I was listening to the game on my radio as I drove back from a church event. The last 30 seconds of the game must have taken up a good six minutes of my ride home. As I sat in the car I listened as announcers talked about how Minnesota had squandered a lead. The announcers couldn’t believe the foolish errors that the Gophers had made. With 1.5 seconds left on the clock the announcers were talking about what could have been. And then said something like, “We’ll see what Tubby (Smith, the coach of the Gophers) can draw up.”

The coach drew a play up, but I’m sure that Tubby couldn’t have imagined what would happen next.

Blake “The Minnesota Miracle” Hoffarber did it again. In 2005, while playing for Hopkins High School, Hoffarber helped his team win the State Championship game, by making a shot from the seat of his pants in the closing seconds of the first overtime. Maybe Tubby said something like, “Blake, you did it before. You can do it again. Son, you wanna make ESPN? You had the highlight of the year in 2005! You beat out all of those pro atheletes to get that award. Now, let’s do it again! Make the shot! Get the ball to Blake, boys!”

It probably didn’t go quite like that, but in case you missed it, here’s what happened:

I Went to the Dentist Today

I went to the dentist today and was fitted for my second crown in a month. While in the chair I was told that the tooth next to my tooth getting the crown would probably also need one. I was also told that I’d need to get a filling on another tooth. Ugh! I hate going to the dentist.

At staff break today I was talking about my dental woes, when another pastor told me about a video that he had seen on the news recently. It was of a politician passionately arguing his point and his teeth falling out. I’m not sure if this is the video, but when I saw this it made me laugh. I’m hoping this will never be me:

What Jesus’ Desert Temptation Teaches Us

Matthew 4:8-11 – Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.”All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

It had been 40 intense days of testing. Jesus must have been starving. He had been without food for 40 days and nights. He was lonely. In the desert without any company but the devil. And, the devil was doing all that he could to tempt God.

In a last ditch attempt to distract Jesus, Satan offers Him the world. Upon showing Christ the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, Satan says, “All this I will give you, if you will bow down and worship me.’

Jesus responds with righteous indignation.

He begins by saying, “Away from me Satan!”

And, in the statement we learn something. Satan has to flee when Christ commands him to. There is no fight left in Satan after Christ defeats him again. Satan thought he had Jesus right where he wanted him. But, Jesus is God. He cannot be tempted. He cannot sin. He cannot fail a test. He is all powerful. And, Satan is not.

Jesus continues His rebuke of Satan by quoting Scripture. He said, “For it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only'” (Deuteronomy 6:13). And, Christ teaches us another lesson. (He’s already taught it twice in the temptation account.) The lesson is that Satan and temptation are defeated with the Word of God. When the tempter comes if we are not equipped with the Word of God, we will fall. My college chancellor was fond of saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” I would say that if we don’t hold firm to the Word of God, we’ll fall for anything.

The final thing I’d like you to notice from this passage is that spiritual warfare is draining. When Satan left, Jesus was attended to by angels. It’s one of two places that you’ll see that in the New Testament. You also see this happen when Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane. In the Garden, Jesus was under extreme duress. He was actually sweating drops of blood. Modern doctors have speculated that Jesus was probably suffering from a rare and deadly condition brought on by the stress, and that if the angels had not have come and ministered to Him in the Garden that Christ might have actually died there.

I wonder if He was under similar stress here. If, at the beginning of His ministry, he was also close to death. He was, after all, without food for 40 days. He did engage in spiritual battle with the devil. He was isolated. Just as God sent angels to minister to His Son, so God provides strength for us when we go through spiritual battle. In the midst of the storm, it can seem overwhelming. We may feel like we are going to be swallowed up. But, God will bring strength. He will help us through the battle. He will equip you for every good work.

May you be given strength as you walk through your daily life.

Dear God,

Thank You for the example that Jesus set for us here. Thank You that we do not have a Savior who is unfamiliar with temptation and trial. Thank You that You set the example for how to defeat our enemy in a spiritual battle. Help us to be people of prayer and Your Word.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

The State of Hockey

I live in Minnesota. We’re known as The State of Hockey. This weekend’s Minnesota State High School Association Boys Hockey Tournament (the state tourney) sold out the Excel Energy Center. That’s the same facility that the Minnesota Wild sell out for every home game, and that the Republican National Convention will be at in a few months. Needless to say, Minnesotans are rabid about their hockey.

I was watching the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals game for a few minutes in my office this afternoon when this ad came on. I’m not sure if it gets a lot of national airplay, but it certainly describes the fans in the state that I’ve come to love.

Check it out.

Deception

Matthew 4:5-7 – Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”

Deception. That is his character. He has been called the great deceiver, the father of lies, the accuser of the brethren. He is Satan. And, he is real. A 2001 poll.
poll of Christians in the United States revealed incredible ignorance on the part of believers as to the existence of a literal devil. From their findings: “While most of the sample American queried by Barna still affirmed God as the all-powerful Creator, a mere 17 percent of the Catholics, 18 percent Methodists, 20 percent Episcopalians, 21 percent Lutherans, and 22 percent of the Presbyterians told Barna that they thought Satan was real.”

It looks like the father of lies has pulled the wool over the eyes of the church. To deny the existence of Satan is to reject the teachings of the Bible, and the very words of Jesus Christ. That is treading on dangerous territory! It makes me wonder if the narrow road that Jesus talked about in Matthew 7:13-14 is being missed by the majority of those claiming to know Christ. Here are Jesus’ words from Matthew 7:13-14 “”Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

When Satan attempted to tempt Jesus for a second time in the desert, Jesus responded to Satan’s deception with the truth. He told Satan not to put the Lord your God to the test. Are we guilty of that? Do we put God to the test? Do we respond to His benevolent grace by accepting only some of what Christ taught and rejecting those doctrines which seem harsh, too far out there, would cramp our style, or don’t sound politically correct? When we do that, we’ve fallen for Satan’s lies. We reject The Truth – God, for the deceiver – Satan. Satan has been deceiving his followers for a long time. He deceived 1/3 of the angels of heaven, before the creation of man. He deceived the first man and woman; Adam and Eve. He has deceived every person who has ever lived on the face of the earth. Every time we choose to sin, we have fallen for Satan’s lie that we know better than God.

It’s time to follow Christ’s example and speak truth to Satan. Don’t know how to start? Pick up the Bible. It is the very breath of God. In it’s pages you’ll find truth. And, just like Jesus, you’ll be able to combat Satan’s lies, with God’s everlasting truth.

Dear God,

Thank You for giving us Your Word. In it’s pages are contained wisdom for living. We desire to know You more. We desire to live for You. We desire to honor You. We desire to know and live by Your truth. Help us to recognize the deception that comes our way. And, help us to love those who have continue to chase after the darkness so that they can see You through us.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.