I have been doing a little bit of “missing” this week. It is interesting that I am coming upon the end of three months in my new city, and this week, I feel the missing a bit more deeply. You see, this is the week of the longest lasting tradition in my life – celebrating Passover on Good Friday. I know – Passover doesn’t always (not even really often) actually start on Good Friday. But this is how we did it. It all started the first year of  our marriage. We enjoyed a Passover Seder at a messianic congregation in Dallas with dear friends. Because we enjoyed it so much, we decided to have our own Passover Seder the next year. Through the years we added friends (and lots of children) to our table, but the original two couples stayed the same. Tonight would have been our 25th Passover Seder with them.

Twenty-five years of being reminded that Jesus is our Passover lamb (1 Cor. 5:7)

Twenty-five  years of being reminded that just as God delivered His people out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt “with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm (Dt. 26:8)”, He delivers His children out of the bondage of slavery to sin through faith in Jesus.

Twenty-five years of remembering and speaking to one another that the Lord’s love endures forever (Ps. 136).

And, of course, twenty-five years of some amazing food and fellowship late into the night (or early morning).

Twenty-five years.

As I have been pondering the Passover Seder, my mind turned to other fun memories of the season: Easter dinner with family and friends, the fun fest at our church, the neighborhood egg hung my dad organized when I was a kid.

And then I realized that in my “missing,” I am missing the point of it all.

In missing events and people, I am missing the reason for these events.

I am missing the grace of God in the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son.

I am missing the goodness of God in saving me from the penalty of my sin.

I am missing JESUS!

So, I sit here on Good Friday, humbled and grateful.

Humbled that I am so easily distracted from looking to my Savior.

Grateful that my Savior is kind to remind me of what I am really missing.


“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8



drawing near – part 1

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to [Jesus].” – Luke 15:1

Did you read that?

The tax collectors – considered traitors, dishonest, greedy, workers for  the enemy

Sinners – one devoted to sin

These were the people who were drawing near to Jesus.

When I read this chapter this week, this is the verse that jumped out to me. And, as usual, my mind ran in a few directions.

I wondered why these people would be drawing near to Jesus? He was God the son in flesh, perfection, sinless. Those character qualities seem intimidating. It seems they would want to hide their failings from someone like Him.

But Jesus saw them. He didn’t ignore them like some would. He also didn’t criticize them, telling them  how horrible they were. He didn’t avoid them like the religious of the day would have. He took the time to engage them, have dinner with them, heal them, feed them. He didn’t do these things because they were worthy. It wasn’t about them at all. It was about Jesus bringing glory to God by accomplishing exactly what He came to accomplish (John 6:38-40).

I could see how these people were drawn to Jesus by looking at other places in the gospels and seeing his interaction and heart for the people. And that got me to pondering something else.

Why do the “tax collectors and sinners” of today seem to avoid drawing near to the people of Jesus? What is different?

We could spout verses about darkness hating the light – truth from John 3:20. Yet, Jesus is the light of the world and sinners were still drawn to him.

We could mention spiritual battle, the enemy at work, hard hearts – all things that are true today and would have been true while Jesus walked this earth.

I believe a huge difference is in the way Jesus treated these “undesirables” and how the church today tends to treat them.

While many in the church tend to judge, criticize, and blame sinners, Jesus had compassion for them – Matthew 9:36, 14:14, 15:32.

While we might feel the need to avoid such company, Jesus spent time with them, having dinner in their homes and inviting himself to their homes (Love the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19).

While we might worry what people would think if they saw us with such people, Jesus did not worry about his reputation.

I think too often we (Christians) view these “sinners” as the enemy. They aren’t the enemy, but the real enemy would like us to think so. We forget that we are sinners (like them) who have been saved by grace. We forget that after Jesus looked on the crowds with compassion in Matthew 9:36, he then says to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

It is hard to be a laborer in the harvest if we avoid the fields.







“No meat today.”

A recent early morning adventure had me sitting in a neat little bakery (not paleo or whole 30 approved other than the coffee) after meeting with a friend. I was writing some thoughts in my journal when I heard an older gentleman say this to the young woman who worked there.

It was a seemingly out of the blue statement.

Direct. Instructing. Firm.

It distracted me enough that I observed the interaction that followed.

She didn’t seem to respond well. Walls went up.

It was a Friday during the season of Lent. From the context clues, I gathered this man practices the Catholic act of fasting from meat on Fridays during Lent. Watching their exchange brought so much to mind, especially as I had just been reading in John 8 where Jesus says to his followers, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (verse 32).

The way this man was expressing himself demonstrated nothing of freedom that is to be found in Christ.

Freedom from the penalty of sin.

Freedom from striving to earn God’s favor (which is an impossible feat).

Freedom to rest in Him.

The man stated that we should sacrifice because of what Christ did on the cross.

Immediately my mind jumped to the following verses:

And Samuel said,
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams.” – 1 Samuel 15:2

Then he said: “Woe also to you experts in the law! You load people with burdens that are hard to carry, and yet you yourselves don’t touch these burdens with one of your fingers.” – Luke 11:46

And [Jesus] said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” – Mark 7:6-8

These truths pricked my heart. The Lord was nudging me to ask myself:

In what ways am I “sacrificing” FOR God but not obeying Him?

Are there areas where I hold to traditions of men rather than clinging to God’s truth and commandments?

Am I experiencing the freedom that Jesus mentioned in the gospels?

Do I attempt to earn God’s favor?

Do I make it hard for others to follow God by loading them with burdens?


Please hear me. My focus in sharing this gentleman’s comment is not to make him the bad guy. It is not to criticize people who choose to participate in Lent (in whatever way you choose).

It is to share how God used this moment in a little bakery to speak to my heart.

It  is to encourage you to check your heart as I am checking mine.

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook the following:

There is nothing that you can do to earn God’s favor. There is nothing you need to do to earn God’s favor. This is why the Gospel is Good News – Pastor Jamie

Reading his post made me think:

this is freedom!