Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Water Bowl: Why Pilate Washed His Hands of Jesus

Imagine being Pontius Pilate torn between conviction and affliction, the weight of the world in human flesh standing before you (Matthew 27:23).

No question, it's a compelling scene: a harsh Roman official desperate to spare a man he deemed innocent yet didn't believe in versus a riotous mob who screamed guilty yet had every reason to. Granted, most Jews didn't understand Jesus' Messianic identity and viewed blasphemy as a supreme offense.


Still, it's fair to wonder what Pilate must have been thinking, especially as he prepared to wash his hands (v. 24) (Yes, I know we tend to start the Cross narrative in the wake of what follows; however, after re-reading Matthew 27, I submit there's significance in weighing this particular moment).

For starters, the washing of Pilate's hands not only symbolized his personal verdict, but embodied what Jesus came to do in the first place - to cleanse us from sin (1 John 1:7) and to set free the captives (Luke 4:18). Thus, the prisoner exchange in v. 15-23 can be seen not only as foreshadowing, but also as a microcosm of the Cross: Jesus, the son of God, taking the punishment that Barabbas, the anonymous everyman, rightfully deserved. A man guilty of rebellion that led to murder offset by the one who was murdered for every man’s rebellion
1.

Selah.



Reading on, we note the verbal exchange between Pilate and the crowd (v. 24-25): 

I am innocent of this man's blood2
; see to it yourselves. 
His blood be on us and on our children!"

Again, it's hard to ignore the irony of the situation considering these people, only a week removed from waving palm branches, were declaring judgment on the one who would shortly take away their judgment. 

Still, how fitting is it that those who knew not what they did would speak truth3 into those who know not what they do? That though the condemners didn't understand the power in the blood at the time, they were essentially declaring what we understand today: Christ's blood is sufficient to cover the sins of mankind.

I don't know about you, but I can't help but marvel at the symmetry in this passage.

'Cause while Pilate would ultimately relent to the unrelenting on the ground (v. 26), it was God's unrelenting from on high that used all things to fulfill the completion of his Word.

And it's here I want to zero in since it's this truth, this past/present/future reality that exemplifies why we celebrate Easter.

For God so loved the world, he had the Cross in mind before he created it. For God so loved us, he was making a way before we even needed it. How sweet it is to know the same God is still unrelentingly reconciling us to himself!

My prayer for you is that as you meditate on Christ's death and resurrection, you come into a fresh understanding not only of what Christ came to do, but what he wants to do in you.

‘Til then, I wish you all a wonderful Easter full of peace and rest as you reflect on the ultimate sacrifice.

He is Risen!

Footnotes 

1) Thanks to yoexpert for this point's inspiration
2) Some manuscripts say 'righteous blood'
3) Albeit the wrong angle

Photo creds: Pinterest, Ecce homo by Antonio Ciseri & jasongoronocy.com

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

LEGACYouth: "Yes" & "Amen"

It was the epitome of fall in a season of rise; hence, why I can still remember the date.

October 29, 2011.

The day my dream of a youth worship team went under construction.

Like most hopeful endeavors, despite early buzz, not all was smooth sailing.

For the first few years, the revolving door would churn out several talented youth and youth leaders. Each time, a setback to momentum. Each time, a temptation to wonder why.

Yet, amidst the turnover, the guest acoustic appearances, and solo keyboard sets, the dream carried on.

By 2014, the tide was turning. New faces in familiar places. The hope of persistence shining over the horizon. Still, it wasn’t until October 26, 2016, almost five years to the day of first practice, that the right blend of talent and teaming would intersect and set the stage for the Gate's first youth worship band.

Flash-forward to two days ago and for the first time I’m playing keys during service (see link below as to why), mesmerized by the fact this is the first Sunday in Gate history worship is being driven by teens.

*Goosebumps*



Near the midpoint of "Yes and Amen",  I'm riding this crescendo of gratitude, caught up in chronology and revelation when suddenly it hits me: Not only does this song title capture the nature of God's promises, but also the journey of this dream!

All those years deeply desiring something I couldn’t single-handedly carry, all those years staying the course despite limited winds in our sails…they had finally landed…

…all because of two words and a faithful God in the middle.

So to my wife, Lyssah Fry​, to Steve Garrett​, Tiffany Minton Puckett​ all the way back to Erik/Stacy Hildner, Matthew Lamson, and the faithful parents in between, thank you for your partnership in pouring into these youth the past five years. Dreams may hatch overnight, but it takes a joint effort to grow and steward them. 

Here’s to more dream culminations in the months/years ahead…

https://www.facebook.com/cameron.fry/videos/vb.34101868/10100562893459132/?type=3&theater

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Timely Lincoln

Written April 4, 2017

So yesterday I'm chilling in the rain on way to work when behold I see a Lincoln ($5) lying in a puddle. Like any judicious citizen, I casually approach and check both ways before crossing it into my dry leather confines. Not a bad start to a soggy Monday, I think to myself.




Hours later, I'm working on a spreadsheet when all of a sudden this damp, dreary $5 begins to beg. Spend me! Use me! Exchange me for coins!

At first, I consider. After all, a brewed boost on an overcast Monday morning makes as much sense as the cents it costs. Yet, after weighing my Starbucks balance, the California veggie sandwich down the street, and the option to pay my flower fund dues, I decide to pass. Perhaps it was the novelty of having cash on me or the satisfaction of beating some lottery-like  odds. Whatever the case, I just couldn’t *resisting urge to make Frozen pun* let it go.

Flash-forward to today and the temptation is real. Unlike the day before, I had no lunch as my weekly tradition of forgetting to make it had come early. Granted, when you're spending the night at your in-laws and you have to switch cars with your wife to have the post-work space needed to pick up son bud and pooch, it makes sense why lunch would be an after-thought. At any rate, I give into my Jimmy John's craving and order a sub online. Problem solved. Appetite quenched. My little Lincoln still snug in its billfold.

Hours later, I'm on course to pick up half my family when suddenly a sinister light appears in the southeast corner of my eye. Alas, the gas light had not only unveiled the brainfart of me not checking to see if Lys had fueled up the night before, but had pierced my realm with only 12 miles to spare.

So like any normal, rationale person on his last half gallon, I channel my inner Kim Walker:

Fuel me up, God. Fuel me up, God...

Ironically, the Spirit goes with Desperation Band and ‘makes a way’ for me to Shell in the nick of time. A close call, but one made nonetheless. Relieved, I saunter up to the cashier ready to check out. But it's here where I make a second disturbing discovery. As I reach into my coat pocket, I sense an alarming presence...or rather…lack of presence that could only mean one thing: my wallet was in my car which wasn't my car because my wife had my car, since her car is the van and the van has Caeden's seat and it was my day to pick him up.



So basically, I'm stranded...inches from fuel, inches from salt & vinegar potato chips...and hours away from the nearest family member being able to bail me out.

Seriously, it felt someone had tele-tatooed the Target logo onto my back.

But then it hit me. Before I had left for the day, I had switched the $5 into my pant pocket...which meant though my wallet was sans its owner, I had just enough cash to buy enough gas to get to Kingston Springs* where I could then turn a $20 check into $20 cash to fuel the 45 minute trek home to Spring Hill. For the third time in one day, problem averted.

So what's the moral of the story, you ask? I could point to many things, but I guess what stands out the most is God always looking out for us...in big and in small, from destiny to daily bread. I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: how great is our God who knows exactly what we need exactly when we need it and then guides us accordingly by his Spirit. Yeah, I know most of you know that already. Still, it's worth mentioning how affirming it can be to find God in the small stresses of life as it is to find him in the grander scheme unfolding.

I’m sure many of you reading this have encountered similar situations. If so, feel free to comment your story below. If not, I bid you a fond goodnight and happy ‘Hump’ Day!

~ Cameron

*I work downtown Nashville, but have to pick up Caeden from Lyssah’s parents in Kingston Springs on Tuesday’s. To avoid commuter traffic, we then drive 40-W to 840-W down to Spring Hill.

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

LEGACYouth: Now That’s Progressive

Context: In this chapter of Jeremiah, we find impending disaster for Jerusalem. Need proof? Check out the opening line: “Flee for safety, O people of Benjamin from the midst of Jerusalem!” Not exactly the most calming intro in the world, right? Later we read more specifically the war and destruction coming against Jerusalem and the peace she once possessed. 

However, in the middle of the chapter, we also find a familiar theme unfolding in God giving his people an opportunity to repent…to consider his ways (v. 16-20). 

Let’s read…

Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV) - This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

Jeremiah 6:16 (ESV) - Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

Jeremiah 6:16-20 (MSG) - God’s Message yet again: “Go stand at the crossroads and look around. Ask for directions to the old road, the tried-and-true road. Then take it. Discover the right route for your souls. But they said, ‘Nothing doing. We aren’t going that way.’ I even provided watchmen for them to warn them, to set off the alarm. But the people said, ‘It’s a false alarm. It doesn’t concern us.’

So clearly we see a freaked out people freaking out…fleeing town as quickly as possible from the approaching chaos. Imagine trying to hitch a ride out of Dodge and suddenly a ‘thus sayeth the Lord’ guy screams at you to slow down and stop for directions? I’m sure many thought Jeremiah was completely cra-cra!

Yet, Jeremiah wasn’t trying to distract. He was trying to exact God’s will in the moment (i.e. Here’s the real way out of this situation! Let’s walk in it).

Essentially, what Jeremiah was doing was being progressive in a way people couldn’t understand. And when we consider our western world, I think we can find some comparisons to those escaping Jerusalem.

How many of you know it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know our culture prides itself on being “progressive” in the sense we’re  the fastest-paced generation in history? 

Not to suggest that’s a bad thing. Certainly there are pros in being equipped technologically and relationally to reach further than ever before. However, it’s important to note ‘progressive’ as our culture understands it has more to do than just the ‘pace’ by which we live, but also the manner by which we believe. 

Seriously, how often do we see people adopting a paradigm based on what’s culturally acceptable as opposed to what’s spiritually absolute? More than we probably realize, right?

But truth is: we weren’t made to let current trends and hot topics reset our truth compass. Contrarily, we were made to be a counter-cultural people submissive yet not subversive. In the world, but not of it (John 17:16). 

Often, it’s easy for us to ask God what to do and then be uncomfortable with what he’s said because it seems contrary to where our world currently is, what the world says we should want, what we want or think is right, etc. Yet, when we consider what real righteousness looks like, we find it’s not built upon asking God for the right thing, but rather asking God for the resolve (the obedience) to do the right thing in moment and in lifestyle no matter what the cost.

I know sometimes we wish there was a formula for following God or an online tutorial on “best believer practices”; however, since faith is designed to permeate all of who we are, it makes sense we why we can’t ‘progress’ our own way to following Christ (and becoming more like him).

So when we turn to Jeremiah 6:16 and consider its application, we note to stand by the road, or the cross-road (i.e.  the point of decision in a journey) is the first step into understanding whether or not God is calling us to walk down it.  Again, it’s easy for us to keep looking for the new, the things that push the edge…or rather the things that push us over the edge. Our culture is based on this – viral videos & memes, thought provoking concepts, self-promotional tools, etc. But the ways of God don’t change with culture. They’re not rooted in what elevates our esteem or what contradicts his heart for us. Rather they’re rooted in how he sees being progressive…fearlessly yielding to know his ways…to know the ancient path as Jeremiah describes.

What is the ancient path?

Micah 6:8 (MSG) But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.

Micah 6:8 (ESV) He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

 
1)       Love deeply from a pure place (Love kindness)

2)       Stand firmly for truth and justice (Do justice)

3)       Act from a place of mercy and grace (Walk humbly with God)

Perhaps you’re still wondering what’s the point of all this. I’ll ‘four up’ that by giving you five from Jeremiah 6:16…and in doing so, better capturing ‘progressive’ from God’s perspective…

 
5 points from Jeremiah 6:16
1. Keep calm & slow down

You can’t stand unless you’ve stopped first. I think for many of us we want our ‘standing’ to be the ‘moving walkway’ variety. We’ll stop knowing we’re still getting somewhere, right? However, what’s missing with this type of standing? Stillness!

Psalm 46 & 62 in a nutshell tells us to be still and know God is who he says he is…to find rest in where our hope and salvation come from him. Habakkuk hints that silencing ourselves allows us to better recognize God’s holiness.
2. Look around - don't be in a hurry. Stop and engage.
 
I think many of us jump in here at #2 without doing #1. The problem is: if we don’t stop and slow down first, then instead of looking around and not being in a hurry, we’ll look around and ‘OMG’ I must worry. See the difference?


 
Stop and engage. And if you can’t stop for whatever reason at least slow down and… 

 
3. Ask for the ‘ancient paths’ (i.e. pray for direction).

How do we do this?
  • Tell God that you trust Him with all your heart, and that you don’t want to rely on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • Claim God’s promise to instruct you, to teach you in the way you should go… (Psalm 32:8)
  • Affirm to God that all your ways are pure in your own eyes, and that you have trouble seeing your own errors.  (Proverbs 16:2)
  • Echo Jesus’ words: “I seek not My own will but the will of Him who sent me.” Let God know that you just want what He wants, and ask Him to reveal that to you in His timing. (John 5:30)
  • Let God know that you’re asking for guidance, seeking His will… (Matthew 7:7-8)
  • Ask God for a humble spirit, and remind Him of His promise to lead the humble in what is right, and to teach the humble his way. (Proverbs 25:9)
  • Pray these words from Psalms: “Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day.” (Psalm 25:4-5)
  • Praise God for being your rock and your fortress. Profess His promise to lead you and guide you for His name’s sake. (Psalm 31:3)
  • Ask God to teach you His way, and commit to walking in His truth. Beg Him to give you an undivided heart to fear His name. (Psalm 86:11)
4. Walk - Once you know, it's time to move. Get out of your comfort zone and walk it out. Believe that God can do anything. 

In other words, don’t stop to stay stopped. After all, you stop and slow for the sake of maturing as a disciple and disciple-maker (which we implies motion; see Great Commission – “go forth and preaching the gospel…” whether it’s into all the world or the classroom hallway). 

5. Rest - Not only taking time to temporarily find refreshment, but taking time to cultivate a lifestyle of restoration. 

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