Friday, August 30, 2013

Just a Thought: Does the Resurrection of Jesus Really Mean Something To Us?

So I'm reading a book titled A Desperate Faith: Lessons of Hope From the Resurrection by Jo Kadlecek and it is (obviously) centered on the subject of Jesus' resurrection from the dead.  But what I love about it so far, is that she is asking the question of what difference does it make in the life that I'm living in 2013?  She wonders about being so deeply influenced by modern western culture that the resurrection has been reduced to little more than a side-show--interesting, but of no real substance.  Here is an excerpt:

"Maybe that's the problem.  Maybe I've come to view Christ's  resurrection in the same way we would a really good action adventure, and romance movie all rolled into one.  It's got a compelling story line, great special effects, characters we care about, and even. . . .a happy ending.  When I 'watch' it, I get a nice feeling that lingers for a few days, until another compelling story grabs my attention."

Has the resurrection of Jesus Christ become little more than an interesting side-note in my life?  One that grabs my attention once a year at Easter and then has little to say about the rest of my life?

I have to wonder. . . .

And the reason that I wonder is because of how I see the lives change of those who knew Jesus first hand.  The ones who walked the dusty roads with Him and listened to His teaching, and watched how He lived, and what He said to them.

I have to wonder because when Jesus died they were absolutely distraught, with hope thrown out the window.  This tells me that Jesus really meant something to them!

And I have to wonder if I treat Jesus' resurrection like a side-note because I look at how the lives changed of those who saw and talked with Jesus after He had been raised from the dead--they were absolutely compelled to put their lives on the line for Him after what He had done for and shown them.

I have to wonder. . . .

Does the resurrection of Jesus really mean something to us?  I'm going to leave that question open today, but would encourage us all to read Acts and see just how the resurrection of Jesus impacted the people who were there.  And don't forget, that same Jesus is here right now. . . . .


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Worthy To Suffer

Everyone has a sense of understanding things that sound right to them or a little "off". This has a lot to do with the way our experiences have taught us how to interpret the world we live in. Of course, the stakes seem much higher when we face choices that affect our personal lives. At that stage any discussion of right and wrong become integrally intertwined with your own identity and any ideas that don't fit with you, your experiences and the culture around you feel wrong. 
These are my thoughts when I read from 
1 Peter 4:16 AMP

But if [one is ill-treated and suffers] as a Christian [which he is contemptuously called], let him not be ashamed, but give glory to God that he is [deemed worthy to suffer] in this name.

Doesn't it feel somehow wrong to hear God say to us that it is a good thing to see yourself as "worthy to suffer"?  Doesn't that seem to fly in the face of the idea of healthy self-worth?  
Here is where our worldview bumps against something foreign: our worldview says to forge a healthy self-worth by seeing yourself as intrinsically good, that the basic foundation of your identity resides in the fact that you exist and by that reason alone you have the right to freedom and that that freedom means that you should not suffer because of someone else. 
In this way of thinking it would make sense to us to say that a healthy self-image is one where I say that "I am worthy to be free and to experience personal joy!"
Except that in our pursuit of self-understanding so heavily influenced by sin and our surrounding culture, we forget that there is a huge difference between living for the purpose of pleasing myself and living for the purpose of something that is bigger than myself. 
What God is sayIng in this passage is that to be found and identified as a follower of Jesus Christ is to find yourself at odds with the world and its ways of thinking, and also to find yourself immersed in a life that finds its identity in something other than yourself. To be a Christian (at least ideally) is to live selflessly. 
To be found worthy to suffer, in this case, is to be identified with something that has deep meaning and purpose that goes beyond a few harsh words from people who don't identify with what you are standing for. But don't be fooled: their harsh words do not mean that you are pursuing some kind of twisted self image where suffering is a good unto itself. To think this is to be blind to the fact that God is all about overcoming suffering- it's just that what we see right now is only one small part of a greater journey that has a destination- a destination where suffering will cease. 
Yes, I embrace the idea that I am worthy to suffer, especially when I know that my suffering comes from being identified with Jesus. After all, He is the Author of life not death and He promises that I will live in that life even when I am faced with criticism. 
As followers of Jesus we must be aware that suffering is part of the package because we live in a world that doesn't understand His heart. 
But that doesn't mean that as His follower that I am pursuing suffering.  No.  As a follower of Jesus I am being identified with the only thing that can bring true freedom and life. Sometimes I won't understand what that will look like in my experience. Sometimes I will hurt because of it. But I know that my life is in good hands. 
Am I worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus? 
God help me to be so. 
Pastor Brian Tysdal
Rock of Ages Church
Saskatoon, Sask.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Light

Hey everyone. It's been a long time since I last wrote on my blog and it's time to start again. 
I'm writing this from my campsite at Madge Lake. Our campsite is right beside the lake and it's so beautiful!
There is a line from a song that I used to listen to in the 80s (yes I'm getting old!), and it goes like this: "it's better to burn out, than fade away.....". 
Then God impressed on me that this is not the way he wants me to see life at all. It's true that if I think of life as something that I live from a worldly perspective, then it makes sense to try and make a splash- to make my life count, to try and get noticed, to burn as bright as I can because it is only for a short time and I should try and go big or go home so to speak. 
But then I realized that the light of my life is not something that I need to shine to impress others because that is really small and fleeting. No. The light I have is the eternal light of Jesus that transcends time itself!  And to imagine that the Light of this world is Someone who loves me and who has established me and given hope and true life.......well compare that with my feeble attempts to do this on my own is so very empty and small. 
The line from this song shows a deep longing in every heart to "matter". We all want to know that the world would be worse off if we weren't here. But to try to do that on our own quickly shows itself for what it is: empty. 
I want to encourage you all to see your lives in the light of Jesus who shines brighter than the universe itself. He is beyond time and when our lives are found in Him then we find ourselves basking in truth of knowing that my life counts for an awful lot because I know that He sacrificed an awful lot to save it and give it meaning and purpose. 
You don't need to try and shine bright to avoid "fading away" because the light of Jesus is shining in the lives of those He calls His children. 
I have attached a picture of the lake by my campsite. You can see the light shining on the lake. It is a light that that I did nothing to produce or improve- and it's beautiful! May this be a picture of the the light of Jesus that shines in and on you today. 

Pastor Brian Tysdal
Rock of Ages Church
Saskatoon, Sask.