Thursday, April 30, 2009


"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (1Peter 2.9)
If we are honest, most of us live lives that are pretty routine. Our "daily grind" makes many days seem the same, one running into the other, none distinguishing themselves too much. All this makes us feel very ordinary.
Into our routine existence, God speaks the words above. We are anything but ordinary! Out of this monotonous world, you have been chosen! Chosen to by the Lord Almighty, called out of the faceless mass of people to be royal priests (handling holy things like the Word of God, forgiveness, reconciliation, the grace of God), a holy nation (bound together not by earthly political boundaries, but bound across space and time, every nation, tribe, and race in the blood of Christ), belonging to God (therefore loved by Him, treasured by Him, regarded not as ordinary, but His special beloved).
Why all this attention and chosen-ness? So that we may "declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." We are special because God has chosen us and called us to declare his praise wherever we are.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Path, continued

The Path, continued--

The Morn

Death is not the End!
Life springs forth
From behind the rock

Dawn has cracked
The darkness of the tomb
Sun shines bright
As the Son rises

Morning Robin
Sings her song
On Resurrection Morn

The horrible, torturous Cross
Now blooms
With flowers and New Life

Once symbol of
Caesar's cruel rule
Now, symbol
Of King Jesus' eternal reign

Temporal power,
Curse of death,
Sin's horrible offspring
Now lie in the
Rags of Jesus'
Burial clothes-
Left Behind

With Jesus, we rise
From the ashes of sin and death
To Redemption's Sunny Morn!

--by Lanny Lancaster, Easter Sunday

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Path

The Path

The Path took its final turn on Palm Sunday
For Jerusalem, the Holy City
That murders the prophets and those sent to her

The Path had led him
In the womb from Nazareth to Bethlehem--
Least of all the tribes

No cradle, but a meek manger
For the God-Man,
Light of the world

The path had led him to Egypt
Former house of slavery
Now asylum from Herod's wrath

The path led him to
Jerusalem for Passover
To learn with the elders

Were they the same who cried
Twenty-one years later
For his blood?

The path led him to a carpenter's shop
In lowly Nazareth
Tables, chairs, and cabinets would be his wares
Later, men's hearts

The path led him to the
Rivers of the Jordan
Crossed by Joshua ages before

To be baptized--not for sin but as
A model for us
An anointing, an ordination
To the greatest ministry ever known

To a lakeshore where fishermen
Became bishops
A tax table where a crook became
The writer of the fourth gospel

His path led him to synagogues
Teacher's seats
To leper colonies
To a midnight meeting with Nicodemus

To a hillside where the
Greatest Sermon was ever preached

His path took him to
Long days of teaching
Thick-headed disciples
And stiff-necked masses

To a table where a sinful woman
Washed his feet with the tears of repentance
To an adulterous Samaritan woman

To a tree that held a sinner named Zacchaeus
His path took him to confrontation
With the "powers that be"

A table with blood and body
Shared by a traitor
And eleven deserters

His path took him to
A lonely garden
Where the grief of the world
He bore alone

His path took him
To a beating and flogging
Like no one has every known

The wrath of sin
Tearing at his
Precious flesh

His path took him to
The Cross of Calvary
Love poured out like
Wine at the Passover Table

"Father, forgive them
because they don't know what they are doing."

"Woman, here is your son.
Behold your mother."

"Truly, I say to you
Today, you will be with me in Paradise!"

"My God, my God
Why have you forsaken me?"

"I am thirsty!"

"Father, into your hands
I commend my spirit."

"It is finished!"

His path was the love of God for sinners
Extravagant, Lavish, Limitless Love
That led him to the Cross
Where Love's flesh died for you and me

"How much do you love me, Jesus?"
"This much!"
(And he stretched out his arms on the Cross and died)
Life-Giving Spirit departs

His path had come to its End
In a borrowed tomb
Or had it really ended? . . . . . . . . . . .

---by Lanny Lancaster, Holy Week, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Savior

Here's a great hymn written by Samuel Wesley, John Wesley's father. It is one of the few relics of Samuel's papers saved after the fire that almost claimed John's life. I pray that it blesses you this Holy Week as it has blessed me!

Behold the Savior of Mankind

Behold the Saviour of mankind
Nailed to the shameful tree!
How vast the love that him inclined
To bleed and die for thee!

Hark, how he groans! while nature shakes,
And earth's strong pillars bend;
The temple's veil in sunder breaks,
The solid marbles rend.

'Tis done! the precious ransom's paid,
"Receive my soul," he cries!
See where he bows his sacred head!
He bows his head, and dies!

But soon he'll break death's envious chain,
And in full glory shine:
O Lamb of God! was ever pain,
Was ever love, like thine?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Set an example

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set and example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity." (1Timothy 4.12)
This verse was a great encouragement when I first started in the pastoral ministry. I encountered many people who could not believe someone my age could be a minister. When I told one person that I would be the pastor of two churches, she kept asking over and over, "you mean you're going to be the youth pastor?" (I suppose they must have had an image in their minds of someone with gray hair and a dark suit.)
The experience taught me that some people are always making judgments of you because of external things.
Paul, in his advice to the young preacher, Timothy, encourages him. He too was young for a preacher of the gospel. He too probably faced people who could not imagine him in the role of pastor. But Paul told him not to worry about people's preconceived ideas, but to simply "set and example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity."
You may be young, old, or someone in the middle. But no matter what station in life you are, you can be an example to others in your speech, life, love, faith, and purity. Indeed, the world needs people at all stages and walks of life, all races, all types of occupations, all styles to be true witnesses to Jesus in the way that they live.
I encourage you today: don't worry about judgments people make about you because of the "externals," just follow Jesus each day and your life will speak for itself!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Saving sinners

"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst."--1Timothy 1.15
Lest we ever lose sight of the mission of Jesus, it is to save sinners, not to condemn them. We know from Scripture that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." (Romans 3.23) And all are offered salvation through Christ.
It seems that the longer we have been in the church, the harder it is to remember that all are welcomed by the love of Christ. The older son in the story of the Prodigal son did not want to welcome his wayward brother back. He begrudged his father's forgiveness of his brother. But the father pleaded with the older son, "Son, you are with my always and all that I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."
No matter where you are today, Christ's love and forgiveness is available to you! It is offered to all others as well!