The Quiet Before the Storm

As I’ve studied Holy Week, I’ve noticed something I’ve overlooked before. Jesus is unusually quiet during the week. With my nature, I guess I was always looking for the dramatic moment—the arrest, the trial, the betrayal and of course, the crucifixion. As intense as these moments are, Jesus spends most of Holy Week withdrawing from the public and praying.

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There were people looking for Him, but Jesus wouldn’t be found.
There were crowds waiting on Him, but Jesus wouldn’t go teach.
His enemies were searching for Him, but Jesus wouldn’t engage.

Not now. This wasn’t the time. There’s a time to speak, and there’s a time to be quiet.
So, Jesus withdrew. He got quiet. He listened. He prayed.

When the enemies came, He was ready.
When He was tortured, He endured.
When He was abandoned, He remained faithful.
When it came time to die, He surrendered.

The silence prepared Jesus for the chaos. He knew what to say and what to do because He had hidden Himself in prayer.

This got me thinking about the noise in my life. My phone is always with me. Music or the television is always playing. I’m always connected, always wired in—afraid something will happen and I’ll miss out on it. Which is why, more times than not, I’m caught totally off guard when the storms come. I never see them. The music is too loud. The noise is deafening. I’m blown off course by a storm I never see approaching.

This is the lesson I’m having to learn. It’s in the silence before God where the noise of the world is swallowed up. It’s in the solitude of prayer where the pressures of the crowd are resisted, and it’s in the life of His presence where death is defeated.

Come to the Table

On Thursday of Holy Week, Jesus invited His disciples to share the Passover meal with Him. Instructions were given as to where it was to be held. The disciples would have known the food to gather and significance of each item. There at the table, the story of God saving His people out of Egypt would be retold. They would talk again of Moses’ courage, the miracles he performed, how the Red Sea was pushed up into great walls so the Hebrews could walk across and then, how these great walls of water crashed down on Pharaoh’s army.

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They would have talked about the power of God and the glory of His salvation.

And then, Jesus would remind them of another Passover, another Lamb and the God’s greatest salvation of all. Every time we gather at the Lord’s Table, we, like the disciples before us, remember the story of God’s power and the glory of His salvation. We remember Jesus and His arrest, the trial, and the bloody suffering of His crucifixion. We remember the hope of His promise—to share the cup with us once again only when everything is finished.

Interesting, isn’t it? The most sacred symbol in the Christian faith besides the cross is the table. There is beauty in this simplicity. Every home has one, and when the family gathers around it, they recall the story of God’s great power and the glory of His salvation. The table is the best place for discipleship to happen.

In evangelism, we’re finding out that hospitality, especially sharing a meal together, is the best place to begin reaching our lost friends and neighbors. Imagine that…it all happens when we gather around the table. The table is where stories are shared and where the things that really matter in life are known…like the power of God and the glory of His salvation.

Belief is a Verb

“Belief” is one of those words we’ve mangled so badly we aren’t sure what it means anymore. When someone says “I believe,” what have they actually said? Do they mean hope? As in, “I believe my team will win.” Do they mean concluded? As in, “I believe red is the best color.” Or, do they mean think? As in, “I believe it might rain today.”

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“Believe” actually means conviction, and conviction means action. If you believe something, it will drive you to action. Here’s why this matters. In families, believing in each other is critical to the well-being of each member. Parents believe in their children and then commit to making sure their children have every opportunity to fulfill their destiny. Parents make sacrifices. They save up for college. They encourage and discipline. They commit themselves to their child’s best.

Spouses are the same way. To believe in your spouse means you’ll make the necessary sacrifices to make sure the best happens for your spouse. You’ll work so they can go to school. You’ll wash the dishes so they can study. You’ll keep the kids while they’re in the studio. If you believe, you do everything you can to make it happen.

In our world, most people don’t believe anymore. They do what they can to get by, but they don’t look for things to be much different, and they certainly don’t expect things to get better. So, when “unbelievers” come into our churches, they need someone to believe for them.

  • They need someone to believe Christ can work in their lives and bring something out of nothing.
  • They need someone to believe they are a person of value and worth.
  • They need someone to believe Christ can bring a future of hope from a past of despair.

And when we do, the church has to act. We have to listen to their stories and help them unravel the regret, blame, and guilt so they can begin the hard work of healing. We have to help them let go of lost dreams and then sit quietly while the Spirit gives them new dreams.

We believe all of this and more is possible for anyone and everyone that walks into our church. And when they can’t believe themselves, we’ll believe for them. We’ll keep believing for them until the day comes when they can believe for themselves.

When Going to Church Isn’t Enough

When I was growing up, devotion to Christ was measured by one standard—attendance. Going to church on Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and of course, any revival services and mission conferences were the absolute proof of one’s love for Christ. For us, it was simple. If you loved Jesus, you went to church and you went to church a lot. If you didn’t love Jesus very much, you didn’t go to church very often.

When Going to Church Isn’t Enough

I’m being a little factitious, but not much. Now, here’s why church attendance was important. When I was growing up, almost all of our religious instruction was done at church. You learned about Jesus, the Bible, the church, salvation, ethics, theology, and the practical implications of discipleship during all of those hours you were in church.

One of the reasons we were able to live like that was how strongly the community supported our Christian faith. My teachers were all friends of my parents. (Sometimes, that didn’t work out too well for me.) My coaches all went to our church. Everyone I knew—everyone who impacted my life—was a Christian.

Obviously, that’s changed. Not only have our communities changed, there’s no guarantee the individuals impacting your children will be Christ followers. The cultural ocean (social media, trends, music, movies, etc.) in which our children must swim is decidedly NOT Christian. This is the reality. It’s not cause for us to panic; we’ve been in these situations before. It is a time when we need to be serious and intentional about the discipleship of our children.

And the first disciplers of any child are the parents, and parents need to take this calling seriously. For one thing, parents are far more influential in their children’s lives than commonly assumed. Secondly, knowing HOW to live faithfully is far more important than knowing HOW to make a living.

Now, by all means, take your children to church. Worship with them, sing with them, but also read the Bible with them, pray with them, and tell them your own faith story. Going to church is great, but in our culture right now, it’s no longer enough.