The Receptive Life

"We are beggars; this is true." (Martin Luther)

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 23

The Incarnate Christ Scripture Reading: John 1:1-18  Meditation  Every story starts somewhere. Either it opens with a fanciful, “Once upon a time …” Or it launches out with an adventurous, “A long time ago …” Or it looks back, reminisces, and recollects past events with a nostalgic, “I remember when …”. But what do you do when the story you’re about to tell has no beginning? It has no beginning because the one you’re telling the story about is eternal. He’s beyond time, before time, between times. His story is the never-beginning story but it’s also the never-ending story. Where […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Sabbath of Response

Sabbath Day of Response  “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” (Isaiah 6:8) Grace is God taking the initiative. He acts. He moves. He invites. He works. He changes lives. He seeks and he saves. Following right behind grace is a response. Grace is the gift. Response is the thrill on the face when the gift is opened. Grace changes everything you know about your world. Response lets the world know that everything about you has changed. Grace saves and then asks—“Who will go?” […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 22

The Attentive Christ Scripture Reading: Luke 18:35–19:10  Meditation As Jesus approaches Jericho, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus sits by the roadside. He’s at his usual spot, at his usual time. He’s always known the darkness and he’s adapted. His routine and the regular comings and goings of his town have given him a sixth sense. He knows the sounds. And smells. He senses the energy and flow of the people as they bustle by. He knows the rhythm. The pace. But today the beat is different. Something new is happening. Someone new is coming to his town and somehow he’s got […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 21

The Tender Christ Scripture Reading: Luke 18:1-17  Meditation A widow. A tax collector. Crying babies. They’re different and yet they’re the same. Though they’re from different social classes, at different stages and ages of life, with different circumstances and needs—they’re all the same. They’re vulnerable. She’s defenseless. He’s broken. And the babies are helpless. But each of them needs the touch of the Tender Christ. The widow needs the Tender Christ’s favorable fist of justice. She’s just lost a loved one. She’s mourning. She’s alone. Added to the grief and the loneliness is the burden of an adversary. Worse, she […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 20

The Rejoicing Christ Scripture Reading: Luke 15:1-32 Meditation The Pharisees and experts in the law are so close to the kingdom of God and yet they’re so far away. They have the prophets. They have the Messianic promises. And now, in Jesus, they have the fulfillment of both, right in front of them. He is so near to them and yet they stand at a distance: isolated, insulated, out of reach, and away from his touch. The Pharisees live and die by their name. They are the “set apart ones”. They believe that the “blessed man” stays away from “sinners”. […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 19

The Inviting Christ  Scripture Reading: Luke 14:1-24 Meditation Jesus knew the Sabbath invitation wasn’t sincere, but he went anyway. As he entered the Pharisee’s house, there in front of him—like live bait squirming in a concealed trap—was a man suffering from dropsy. The Pharisee had purposefully placed the man there. It was a predetermined, carefully planned, and premeditative act. As Jesus approached the man, the Pharisee and the experts in the law took their positions and carefully watched what Jesus would do. Would he relieve suffering or rest on the Sabbath? Would he fold his hands and pray or extend his […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 18

The Longing Christ  Scripture Reading: Luke 13:22-35 Meditation The city of Jerusalem is the summit of Jesus’ ministry. It’s the culmination of his redemptive climb. It’s his destination. His goal. On the peak of that city, he will stake a cross in the ground, climb it, extend his hands in triumph, declare his victory, and—while high and lifted up—invite all people to share in his kingdom. This invitation is meant for all. But not all will come. Because of busyness and distraction, many will decline the invitation. Out of disinterest, some will dismiss it. And still others, unwilling to accept […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 17

The Comforting Christ Scripture Reading: Luke 12:1-34   Meditation Thousands of people surrounded Jesus. But there was only room for a few up front. Near. Close to him. Directly before him, seated at his feet, are the Twelve. But in-between the feet of Jesus and the back of the crowd are the ones who got caught in the middle: the “trampled ones”. “Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples …” With the massive crowd still undulating in front of him, Jesus steadies himself. […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Sabbath of Repentance

Sabbath Day of Repentance “The Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?’ Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’” (Luke 5:30-31) Repentance consists of two things: a confession of sin and a reception of grace. Neither stands alone. Both must occur. Without grace, a confession of sin gets what it deserves—death. Without confession, grace can’t give what it desires—life. Reflection It […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 16

The Forgiving Christ  Scripture Reading: Luke 7:29-50   Meditation The Pharisees had just accused Jesus of being a glutton and a drunkard. Yet one of them, Simon, invites him to his house for dinner. Jesus accepts. He goes to the Pharisee’s house and reclines at his table. “Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 15

The Willing Christ  Scripture Reading: Luke 5:12-26   Meditation Two men, a leper and a paralytic, desperately desire to get close to Jesus. The first shouldn’t, the second can’t. One is unclean and the other is unable. Whether unclean or unable, both are unwilling to stop until they are at the feet of Jesus. Both decide to take a risk. They do what is socially unacceptable. They dare to do the unthinkable. They’re undaunted. They will get to Jesus’ feet! The leper is an “untouchable”. He is isolated and separated because of his disease. Everywhere he goes he has to yell out, […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 14

The Rejected Christ Scripture Reading: Luke 4:14-30  Meditation There’s nothing better than coming home. Unless, of course, those who are at home don’t welcome you back! After his temptation in the wilderness, Jesus had left his hometown of Nazareth and had gone to live in Capernaum on the north end of the Sea of Galilee. There, he began his ministry. During that time, he taught in their synagogues, he healed the sick, and he performed miracles. News about him spread rapidly throughout the whole countryside and everyone praised him. Except those in Nazareth. When Jesus came home to Nazareth, he […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 13

The Prophetic Christ  Scripture Reading: Mark 13:1-37 Meditation As the disciples left the temple mount, they looked up, stood in awe, and exclaimed how magnificent the house of God was. But the Prophetic Christ looked past the temple’s past: past the building that Solomon had first built; past its destruction by the Babylonians; past the modest restoration by Zerubbabel; and past the magnificent and massive white stones of Herod the Great. He looked past the past, past the present, and prophesied into the future. “‘Do you see all these great buildings?’ replied Jesus. ‘Not one stone here will be left […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 12

The Determined Christ Scripture Reading: Mark 8:27–9:1  Meditation  Peter got it half right. He understood who Jesus was but he didn’t understand what Jesus came to do. When Jesus asked, “Who do people say that I am?”  … some said that he was John the Baptist, others said Elijah, still others said that he was one of the prophets. But it was Peter who said, “You are the Christ.” He acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah—the Son of God, and the Son of Man. He affirmed the dual nature and the one person of Christ. But when Jesus started to […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 11

The Compassionate Christ Scripture Reading: Mark 6:30-44  Meditation The apostles have just returned from an extended preaching tour. Jesus had sent them out two by two. He had given them authority over evil spirits, instructed them to preach, cast out demons, and heal the sick. Mission accomplished. As they return, they’re exhilarated but they’re also exhausted. After their tour of duty, they’re depleted. Spent, with nothing left to give. They have ministry fatigue. “Please, no more preaching.”  “No more people.” “No more problems.” But once you help one, five more follow you home. In a broken world, there seems to […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Sabbath of Remembrance

Sabbath Day of Remembrance “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” (Deuteronomy 5:15 NIV) As we make our way into the forty-day journey, it’s easy to forget where we were before it all started, what we were like before we took our first step, and why we began. This Sabbath Day provides you with a moment to stop and remember the goodness and the grace of Christ. Spend […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 10

The Miraculous Christ Scripture Reading: Mark 4:35–5:43  Meditation Miracles. They display divinity. They manifest power. They demonstrate compassion. Over the course of a few days, Jesus stuns his world. He tames the natural realm. With three words, “Quiet! Be still!” … the winds cease, the waves flatten, and the sea is stilled. He hogties and humiliates the supernatural realm. He commands a legion of demons to come out of a man. For years they had possessed, imprisoned, and tormented him. But now they obey Jesus. They rush into a herd of pigs, which run down a steep bank, dive into […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 9

The Calming Christ Scripture Reading: Mark 4:35-41  Meditation It was Jesus’ idea. “That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.” Halfway across the sea, the disciples wonder if Jesus had made a mistake. “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.” None of the disciples saw it coming. The cool air from the Mediterranean had slithered through the […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 8

The Solitary Christ Scripture Reading: Mark 1:21-39  Meditation Jesus is a man who fits forty-eight hours worth of work in twenty-four hour days. He teaches. He casts out demons. He heals the sick. He’s busy doing his Father’s business. But Jesus knows that, when you work with people, there’s always more to do. There’s always one more lesson that could be taught, one more problem that should be solved, and one more person who would like to be healed. “That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 7

The Transfigured Christ Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:13–17:13  Meditation The ups and downs of Peter’s emotions follow the contour of the mountain that he’s now descending. Seven days ago, Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was. They deflected the question by referencing the opinions of the masses. “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets”. “ ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’” Each opinion was wrong—all except Peter’s. “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 6

The Teaching Christ Scripture Reading: Matthew 13:1-58 Meditation The crowds have forced Jesus off the shore and into a boat. As he sits down in the boat, he begins to teach them many things about the kingdom of heaven. He speaks to the crowd in parables—gritty, illustrative, simple stories that take the mysteries of God and demystify them. His parables make divine mysteries manageable for the human mind. “That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 5

The Sending Christ Scripture Reading: Matthew 9:35–10:42  Meditation Before any great commission is given, there must be great compassion. First the heart has to be moved, and then the feet. The Sending Christ does both. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’ ” As Jesus looks on the crowd, his heart breaks. He sees so many […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Sabbath of Rest

Sabbath of Rest “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV) Rest. It’s a precious gift and yet it’s so rarely opened. Busyness and business have pushed the gift off to the side. In order to open the gift, one has to slow down, sit still, turn down the volume, and give up control. […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 4

The Blessing Christ Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:1-12 Meditation As Jesus heals every disease and sickness among the people, news spreads. Large crowds follow. Not far from Capernaum, at the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee, there’s a gently sloping hillside. Jesus climbs the hill, comes to a plateau, and sits down. His disciples come to him and he begins to teach them about life in the kingdom of God. He begins with eight declarations of “blessedness”. Eight beatitudes. The disciples who sit at his feet have left everything to follow him. They have forsaken family, occupation, and worldly security. […]

Forty Day Journey to the Cross: Day 3

The Healing Christ Scripture Reading: Matthew 4:23-25 Meditation Regular, ordinary, everyday news doesn’t make it to the front page. That space is reserved for the tragedies and the triumphs of life. The only news that spreads fast is good news or bad news. As Jesus begins his ministry, he’s big news. “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, […]