Category Archives: Other

Lent Reflections – Beautiful heartbreak

I’m going to keep this short and sweet for a reason. I want this to hit you like it hit me.

Think of the God we serve and how absolutely marvelous he is. He sent his only Son to die for us! Looking at Jesus’ life, you see his constant perfection in his battle with the flesh. Looking at his crucifixion you see him brutally nailed to a cross. This beautiful, heart breaking scene is what cleanses us today and what goes over my head so often. You see, growing up in the church, I always hear about the cross and most of the time take it for granted. Are you in the same boat? Read Matthew 27…actually think about it! Pray for more and more understanding because nothing can bring our human minds to grip with how much love and compassion Jesus Christ showed towards a mankind that was backstabbing him then, and is still backstabbing him today. Picture yourself at the foot of the cross, hearing the mockers pass, daring him to save himself when we as Christians knew he could’ve. We are those mockers. Every time we sin, we do it at the foot of that tree that he was nailed on.

The thing that gets me is the fact that even when Jesus was up there on that cross, hearing all of these people, his heart was still breaking for them; and his heart still breaks for us sinners today. Through suffocation, bleeding, and unfathomable suffering his main goal was to please his Father in Heaven by taking the sins of the world. We might as well be one of those mockers walking by the cross that scoffed at the Almighty King when we fall into the trap of sin.

To Jesus be the glory for his amazing life here on earth and to God be the glory for giving such a cruel world a chance to live.

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Lent Reflections – Trust

Today’s Scripture Readings
Psalm 55, 74
Jeremiah 17:5-10, 14-17
Philippians 4:1-13
John 12:27-36

I don’t need to tell you that life is hard. You know it. You live in this world that is mean and cruel, and its wounds for some of you are fresh. But the fact that life is hard is not new. We see in our reading for today that David was in agony, to the point that he even wondered where God was (Psalm 74:1). Ever been there?
In our readings today, God’s Word gives us the antidote to fear, pain, and agony. Trust. But trust in what? Trust in whom? I think it’s so interesting that the nature of the word “trust” leads us to the object of our trust.

Now just reading the word “trust” automatically throws up walls, fear, and hesitation for some of us. But may I gently remind, we’re not talking about trust in just any one. We’re not talking about the trust fall out at the ropes course at Delanco Camp. If we take an honest look at our lives, I’m afraid sometimes God gets the blame for not being trustworthy because of other’s poor choices or our own poor choices that God never intended.

Read again Psalm 55:16-18
But I call to God,
And the LORD saves me.
Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
And he hears my voice.
He ransoms me unharmed
From the battle waged against me,
Even though many oppose me.

But do we trust God to really save us, to have our best interest in mind? Can I really cast my concerns and worries on Him? (Psalm 55:22) Does He care?

The lies of the devil, the enemy of our souls, are the same today as they were in the Garden of Eden. The enemy said to Eve then the same lies he says to you and me today. “God doesn’t mean what He said.” “God doesn’t have your best interest in mind.” “He’s holding something back from you.” “You can’t trust Him.” And so when Adam and Even believed those lies, sin entered the world and you and me were born with hearts that don’t trust God.

But that’s not the end of the story. We see in John 12:27-36 of God’s love for you and for me. God hated that we were separated from Him. He is widely and passionately in love with you. He took your suffering, your hurts from those who violated your trust, your heart that doesn’t trust Him (which is sin), and in His death and resurrection, Jesus made a way to give each of us a new heart, (if we ask Him), a heart that trusts God. Here is what Jesus says: “Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become children of light.” (John 12:36)

We can’t know the freedom Paul talks about in Philippians 4:1-13 unless we’re willing to trust Jesus 100% – nothing held back. Anything less than 100% is not trust. Anything less than 100% and we can’t experience the life that Christ died for us to have.

Where are the areas in your life where you are not trusting Jesus? Bring them to Jesus. He may or may not change the circumstance, but He can change you!

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Lent Reflections – Resurrection power

Today’s Scripture Readings
Psalm 51, 69:1-23
Jer 12:1-16
Phil 3:1-14
John 12:9-19

Once upon a time in a faraway season of life filled with children, homeschooling, church activities and Junior Camp I was involved in a small Bible study taught by a woman who was Titus 2:4 in the flesh. One day, in a more private conversation, she asked what I prayed for myself, what my spiritual goals were on a personal level, not as a wife or mother or Pioneer Club leader. I told her that there were verses from Philippians that had recently been my prayer: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings…” She told me to be careful how I prayed.

Three months later, on Elisa’s fourth birthday, I received a cancer diagnosis that gave me a 50 percent chance of living to see her fifth birthday. Clearly that was an answer to my prayer as I needed to know Christ and trust Him in a way I had never trusted Him before. And in that He taught me and loved me, and invited me over and over to know Him more… not just know more about Him, but to know Him more deeply. Time and again in our lives, Jesus invites us to know Him intimately even as He knows us.

Psalm 51 in today’s readings reveals how deeply God knows us, and what the psalmist knows of God, the one who knows our sin and still loves us and saves us by His grace. This is how we first know Christ, as Savior. We know Him as our righteousness, our hope. But we cannot stop there. We need to press on in our walk day by day and know Him fully so that we may be transformed into His image. We need to learn to call Him by name through the ups and downs of life as we experience Him as our peace, as our provider, as our strength, our present Lord, our sanctifier. In knowing Him we can share in His resurrection power and share in the suffering that continually refines us and draws us into deeper relationship with Him.

How is it that we know Christ today? Do we know the fellowship of sharing in His suffering? Do we know Him as the Coming King? Do we know His victory? Or perhaps you once proclaimed Him the Christ, the Son of God, and now. like Peter, say, “I don’t know Him.” Do we know Him at camp and forget Him when we are home? Or are we pressing on in knowing Him, press on in understanding who He is, in trusting Him to always be who He says He is, and do what He says He will do? Jesus longs for us to know Him intimately and will faithfully teach us who He is as we give ourselves to Him and seek to know Him even as we are known.

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Lent Reflections – Love in the midst of risk

Mark 5:1-20

When I read this passage from Mark’s gospel, there are so many things that strike me as peculiar about the shape of the narrative. What is Jesus doing in a place where a demon-possessed cemetery dweller can be among the welcoming party? For a Jewish rabbi, he was really too close to a herd of swine, as well. The location is not that easy to identify, either.

About 50 years ago, a theologian at United Seminary in New York named Richard Niebuhr (Wikipedia him) tried to advocate for the position that Christ should transform culture. This was preferred to the alternatives for the church. Should the church become a separatist group and preserve its own space and ignore the surrounding culture? Should the church (the body of the living Christ) succumb to the culture and condone the messages, even when those messages seem to be at odds with the mission? Should the risen Christ simply conquer the cultural milieu and institute its own values from the top down? Niehbur suggests that the risen Christ should transform culture from the inside out. Like Jesus in Mark 5, though, there are some rather significant risks.

Churches, parachurch organizations, really big Christian bookstores, and even some pretty flashy websites can run the risk of either avoiding the culture altogether (don’t get mixed up in all of it) or they can attempt to do everything that the surrounding culture is doing, with a slightly different, baptized message. (I recently saw an ad for a dvd exercise program that looks a whole lot like P90X with a gospel twist. I will let the reader decide…)

As we have seen from Egypt, Libya (trying, anyway), and the surrounding nations, genuine transformation only comes from within. Transformation that is forced is already moving toward its own undoing.

In Mark 5, Jesus demonstrates a risky redemption. Jesus doesn’t avoid the graveyard. He does not try to avoid the scandal that graveyards and nearby swine herds might bring up. Jesus doesn’t insulate himself from the potential mess. Instead, he sees a person that was sacred to God and decides to work right in the midst of the risky context, not along its periphery.

The scandal of the cemetery scene is a precursor to the scandal of the cross. Jesus enacts a radically different kind of program than say the Pharisees or the Zealots of his day. He doesn’t withdraw from the scene. He doesn’t heap guilt on everyone who isn’t with him already. He walks through the cemetery and provides something quite different from what cemeteries usually offer: life.

There is a tension in the Bible that remains unresolved, it seems to me. In the Old Testament and in some places in Paul and in the gospels there is a distinct “come out from among them” motif that motivates Christians to separate from anything that seems irredeemable or at odds with a Christian ethos. Shun the cultural messages and messengers who seem to be taking you in the wrong direction. On the other hand, in some places in the New Testament, certainly in Jesus’ teaching, and in Paul, believers are encouraged to move past the boundary lines and make a difference. “Go and plunder Egypt,” God instructs Moses. Jesus, meanwhile, is at a dinner party with unmentionables. Paul looks to include Gentiles.

This Lenten season, I wonder if we can make a difference in the world through our love in the midst of risk? Are we able to preserve our witness while also being open to different expressions of culture and messages that seem out of step with our own? Genuine engagement with the culture will make a genuine transformation possible. Holiness, like transformation, comes from the inside out.

Take courage. Right where you are; the Jesus in you can make a difference. It will not come from judgmentalism or avoidance. It will come as we are open to where the Lord deploys us as we love like He loves us.

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Lent Reflections – The Good News of Easter

Anyone who has ever walked in sandals knows how dirty your feet can get. This is especially true if you live in Africa or attend Delanco Camp. During the “Passion Week” (the week before Easter) Jesus & the disciples would have traveled very far to be in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Feast & no doubt would have had filthy feet.

John 13:3 says, “the Father has put all things under my power.” Jesus follows this statement by washing the disciples dirty, smelly feet. Why does Jesus do this if He has all the power in the universe, literally?

I think the answer is wrapped up in the deeper meaning of Easter. You see, for most of us Easter is only about Jesus having the power to rise from the dead. Dr. Dennis Kinlaw said this about Easter, “I’m glad Jesus has the power to rise from the dead, but I’m so glad there is something deep in the heart of God where He wants me to be with Him, so that He can be with me.”

This is the Good News of Easter. Jesus demonstrates what life in God looks like, a life of self-sacrificing love. He loves humanity enough to die on a cross, conquer death & even wash dirty feet. Whose life are you living for this Easter season?

John Rinehimer is a former camper and staff member at camp who has served as a missionary, speaker and worship team member out at camp. He lives in Louisville, Ky., with his wife, Erica, and son, Jackson, and works at Southeast Christian Church.

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Lent Reflections – I AM

Today’s Scripture Readings
Psalm 88, 91, 92
Jere 11:1-8, 14-20
Rom 6:1-11
John 8:33-47

I always wanted to be an astronaut. There was (and is) something alluring about space. One of my favorite movies as a kid was Space Camp. It’s the story of some teens spending their summer at Space Camp in Alabama when the shuttle they are in accidently launches them into space. If you’ve not seen it, rent it in all its ’80s goodness.

About the time I saw Space Camp, my parents got me a telescope for Christmas. I loved to take the telescope outside and look at the moon and the stars. I came to learn about the speed of light and how the light we see from the stars, in some cases, actually happened thousands of years ago. Light from the sun takes 8.3 minutes to be visible on earth. Light from the nearest galaxy, the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy, takes 25,000 years to reach earth. So when we look up at the stars we are looking at something that existed years ago.

Jesus says something so inflammatory in chapter 8 of John that the Jews are ready to stone him on the spot. As the Jews try to figure out who Jesus is, they speak of their kinship with Abraham. Jesus, in verse 56 says, “Your Father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” The Jews were furious. How could Jesus, who was not even 50 years old, been present for Abraham to see Him? Jesus replies, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, “I AM.”

Immediately the Jews thought back to Moses and the burning bush. God told Moses, in Exodus 3:14, “I AM WHO I AM,” meaning “I am who I will be.” Moses learned that day that God is not dependent on any other thing and transcends all of creation. When the Jews heard Jesus say, “I AM” they knew that he was saying that He was present with Abraham. Jesus was present with Moses at the burning bush. Jesus was present with God even before the creation of the universe. Jesus is not just claiming to be eternal, but claiming to be God.

As we journey these forty days of Lent, we reflect on the life of Jesus. We will read through the Gospel accounts at Jesus’ miracles, His teachings, and ultimately His death and resurrection. John reminds us that to reflect on Jesus is to reflect on the One who was before there was time. The Jesus I have encountered in my life is not a finite Jesus- but was with God at creation- and will be with God when all of creation is redeemed.

As the weather gets warmer this spring and you have the opportunity to look up at the night sky, take time to ponder the light that you see. Consider how it takes days, years, even hundreds or thousands of years to reach your eyes. Then remember Jesus, who says “I am the light of the world.” Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, was with God in the beginning- and is the light that shines on the entire world.

Almighty God- this Lenten season, may we receive the Light of Your Son, Jesus Christ in our hearts. May the Light of Your Eternal Son illuminate our lives so that we may walk in Your paths. Help us to point others to Your Light and to Your Life. Amen

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Lent Reflections – Darkness Before the Dawn

Today’s Scripture Readings
Psalm 42, 43, 85, 86
Jere 10:11-24
Rom 5:12-21
John 8:21-32

Last year for me was a terrible year. Without going into too much detail, nothing seemed to go as planned. Internships that seemed to be all but official, fell through. Class schedules were tough. Financial stress and emotional stress seemed to bombard me from every which way and no matter what I did, I just couldn’t shake it.

Little known fact about me, when I get overwhelmed, when I get stressed, I meander around, and that happened a lot last year. As I was telling my roommate how I deal with stress, I need to get away. View it as a fighter going back into his corner between rounds, getting a drink of water, rolling his shoulders and walking back into the center of the ring to go toe-to-toe for one more round. That’s how I do it. I designate a place where I can retreat if need be. While at home, it’s always been at Camp, especially during the offseason. (see post about Ricky Court’s sermon about this) While at Asbury, I go up to the baseball fields. It’s a place that’s rarely visited by anyone outside of the baseball season. It also offers one of the best places to stargaze without any interference from lights.

It served as my quiet place. Like Psalm 42 says, “As the deer pants for streams of water…my soul thirsts for God.”, that’s where I went to find God and to get a little extra motivation to persevere on. Prior to last year, that plan worked pretty well. However, during that last year, I began to find God there less and less. I would go up there frustrated and sit for twenty, thirty minutes. Sometimes I would talk, other times I would listen. But when I’d leave, I would never feel anything different. The burdens I thought I was leaving behind (both figuratively and literally, as the main part of campus is behind the ball fields) seemed to follow me wherever I went.

There’s a quote from the movie Rocky Balboa. It goes like this: “You, me, nobody is going to hit as hard as life. It’s not about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward.” That became a mantra for me over that year. I envisioned myself as Rocky in that moment; on my knees, tired, bloodied, beaten. Needing to rise up one last time, needing to dig deep, to find my fighting spirit and carry on.

But, I didn’t have it in me. Instead of serving as a rallying cry, like Rocky typically does in my life, I lied flat on my back and stayed down. I slowly started to spiral into deeper states of frustration. Piece by piece my confidence in myself, in my faith, in just about everything, was broken. That carried on for much of the year to the point where I just about lost it. It was mid-December and I was still missing the one thing I needed to graduate…an internship. I needed to find one by the end of the semester or the next year (2011) would be eerily similar to the last, frustrating, stressful, uncertain. The stress continued to beat me down mercilessly to the point where I couldn’t take it and I did what I should have done throughout the experience, I prayed and by golly, He met me there. I felt calm for the first time in a long time. And lo and behold, just a short week or two later, I found an internship and things began to come together again.

Later on in Psalm 42, it reads “with people asking me all day long, ‘Where is your God?'” Well, have no doubt, that He’s right beside you, even in the darkest of times. After all, it’s always darkest before the dawn.

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