Friendsgiving…What A Great Concept!

Thanksgiving is a holiday with many memories and traditions. Various traditions that range from meeting at the same family member’s house each year to traditions unique to each family. For others, Thanksgiving is a difficult time because they might not have any significant customs. Some spend their lives admiring other families with no traditions of their own. Others are merely lonely and they long to spend their holiday with anyone, period! Enter the concept of Friendsgiving over recent years!

Friendsgiving is a typical Thanksgiving Meal where each friend is responsible for bringing a specific dish. Turkey, ham, stuffing, and other standard Thanksgiving staples are intentionally assigned. Some friends, however, become creative and bring different dishes to the gathering. No matter the food, the point Friendsgiving is a time to remember and be thankful for each other. After all, “our friends are the family we get to choose!”

Continue reading “Friendsgiving…What A Great Concept!”

Jesus’ Body Was Not “Broken” For You!

Communion or The Lord’s Supper is an essential part of worship for the Christian faith. With the practice comes the remembrance of Christ and His substitutionary atonement for us on the Cross of Calvary.

Yet often, when I attend churches or chapels of various denominational beliefs, I hear pastors get one phrase wrong. Often they hold up the bread that relates to the Body of Christ and says, “This bread is the body of Christ ‘broken’ for you. Eat and do this in remembrance of me.” While we have become accustomed to the phrase, it is Biblically wrong, and there is a better phrase to use to build up our worship towards Jesus.

Quickly, we say “broken” because it has become a habit. Yes, there are theatrics when explaining Communion/The Lord’s Supper to congregations. As a result, when ministers either break a cracker or tear apart the bread, both are being “broken” apart. However, “broken” is not what scripture says of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The problem with the phrase is with the word “broken.” See, Jesus’ body and bones never broke for us. Otherwise, we worship a Savior who didn’t fulfill scripture. Look at Psalm 34:20. There the David writes,

“He protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.”

The text states that “no bone in his body would be…broken.” Not only does David quote it in the Psalm, but John later repeats it in his Gospel in John 19:36,

“These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken.'”

Even, Isaiah 53:5 further states that:

“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds, we are healed.”

But, “pierced” is not the same as “broken.” Neither is “crushed.” The term “wounds” does not automatically equate to the concept of being “broken.” Each word could mean “broken,” but they could equally say something else too.

Furthermore, when Jesus described the Passover Meal that alludes to the Cross, He doesn’t even use the word “broken.” He uses another word: “given,” as found in Luke 22:19. Across the other three Gospels, Jesus broke the bread and said, “take it; this is my body!’ Sure, one can allude that broken applies to both bread and body, but that is not the truth. Therefore using the word broken during our Communion/Lord’s Supper practices misses the mark.

Now some will argue that I need to look at the spirit of what is being said by ministers. They might also suggest that words are what we make them mean. As a result, “broken” is a way to say that Jesus sacrificed His life and that preachers who use the word “broken” are using it metaphorically and not literally. Yes, there is some truth to these arguments that I do not dismiss, but knowing and using the right phrase is important because it makes our worship more meaningful.

Before reading this post, you may have never considered a minister’s use of the word “broken” before. If so, you are normal because most have not. However, now you are thinking about the word usage, whereas before, you did not. If so, then one has to ask, what is the appropriate word to use in replace of “broken?” Simple: “given” as Luke 22:19 instructs.

Here is where focusing on one word within theology matters. Jesus’ body and life were not “broken” for you because His life was “given” for you. No one, not even Satan, took His life from Him. No one forced His body to break. Instead, He went to the Cross voluntarily for our sins because of His great love for us. That through His sacrifice, we might die to our sins and live afresh and anew as He lives resurrected today. All of what Christ did for us and what we experience start with His free will and loving choice that He “gave” His life and body for us.

By now, I hope you see the difference. Christ’s body was not “broken” because He “gave” it up for us. Broken implies that His life was stolen from His will when it was not. Broken subconsciously communicates that we are forgiven in Christ as a second-order impact of His death on the Cross. Yet, the Bible teaches that the Cross was the Triune God’s ultimate and final solution to the separation between humanity and a Holy God. The choice was one made before the beginning of time and one that was freely given based on God’s longterm plan. The Cross is foreshadowed in the Exodus Passover, The Law, and even Jesus’ Last Supper His disciples. The Cross was, is, and forever will be the answer to the cosmos’ most significant problem because, in a “given” Christ, it finished the work of God once and for all!

Given then reminds us that we are God’s children, not by chance, or by recycling Jesus’ death into something unintended. No, we are “so loved” that our Lord and Savior gave Himself for us that we might live with Him forever, for those who genuinely believe.

Sure, it’s easy to dismiss my comments as being theologically picky or overly semantic. Perhaps I am picky, maybe not, and I’m encouraging you to discover a more profound worship experience.

Before you determine your ultimate judgment on the difference between “broken” or “given,” try it in the heart of your worship the next time you take Communion/The Lord Supper. Your minister might say “given.” He might even say, “shed for you.” He might say, “broken.” If he does the latter wording, then say “given” in your heart and see if that changes your heart’s worship towards Christ as you take Communion/The Lord’s Supper.

Ultimately, the goal of Communion/The Lord’s Supper is to bring our hearts closer to worshipping Jesus. That’s my goal, and its why I’ve “given” you these thoughts today.

Autumn Rest 

“Make it a source of spring water; even the autumn rain will cover it with blessings.”

-Psalm 84:6 (CSB)

Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God’s people.

-Hebrews 3-4 (CSB)

 

Autumn is a season of beauty. The days begin to get cooler from the hot summer season. The leaves change and fall to the ground. Together it creates a beautiful tapestry of foliage across the plains and the mountains of God’s creation.

Autumn is a season of reward. Here the fruits of our labors during the summer and spring are given. Crops are collected, livestock is tended, and gains are made during this harvest season. Each of these rewards is made possible from the hard work and exploration made from the preceding seasons.

Autumn is a season of preparation. After the harvest, winter crops are planted to produce needed resources during cold months. Families invest in firewood to keep warm. Even God’s creatures know that Autumn is a time of preparation, as many animals gather their final collections before winter. Continue reading “Autumn Rest “

Memorizing the Bible: A Simple Scriptural Challenge

In 2002, I attended a Christian Conference while I was in college. The speaker of that event strongly emphasized the need for scripture memory. The students like myself in that room did not want another chore on our busy college plates. Plus, no one likes more legalism. Anticipating these responses, the speaker had a very fair challenge to the room of about 1,000 students. First, he asked every student to stand up. Next, he asked students to remain standing if only they could quote as many scriptures from memory as their age. In other words, if the average college student was 21 years old, they should have 21 verses memorized. After giving his second requirement only about ten students out of 1,000 remained standing. In full transparency, I was one of the 990 students who sat down. Doing so, I knew there was no reason why I should be sitting because committing one Bible verse to memory each year is not difficult.

So, let’s be honest for a minute. Why do we struggle to memorize a minimum of one scripture verse a year? This suggestion is not a harsh approach; rather, one scripture verse a year is more gracious than legalistic. Factoring in that we could count John 11:35, which says, “Jesus wept,” it’s an attainable goal. So, why do we struggle to memorize scripture? We may not know how, but an answer we should wrestle with is that we are lazy.

Lazy is a harsh term, but notice I included myself in this critique. I too could memorize more scripture than I do. Plus, if we focus on doing just one verse a year, then lazy is probably an accurate definition, even if it is a strong term. Furthermore, lazy is the opposite of self-control, which is the final Fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Still, since we should want to practice good spiritual discipline related to scripture memory, it would help to have a few practical suggestions too. Continue reading “Memorizing the Bible: A Simple Scriptural Challenge”

Faith is in Order

The military is a way of life. From the early mornings to the long days, there is a pattern to the military lifestyle. A part of that design is orders. Just about everyone in the military takes orders from someone. Most of the time the orders make sense. Occasionally the orders don’t make sense, but one follows them anyway because that’s a part of the lifestyle. This part of military life is a critical one. Not only does it keep one from trouble, but it teaches a service member a key part of life: faith.

Yes, there is a connection between practicing faith and taking orders in the military. No, it’s not because God is a cosmic Drill Sergeant seeking to enforce divine push-ups for disobedience. Rather, the connection rests on the idea that God often leads us, calls us, or asks us to do things we do not always understand. He might use our current circumstances. He could ask something from scripture. Either way, his request is a timeless command that will make life easier if we trust and obey.  Continue reading “Faith is in Order”