Peter’s Denial and What it Means for Us

For the longest time, I was a huge professional wrestling fan. Every Saturday morning, and eventually Monday nights, I would turn on the television and watch the action regardless if it was from the WWF or WCW.

I was into it, too. I had my favorite wrestlers, such as Hulk Hogan and the Road Warriors, and I could quote their favorite lines as well as I could say my own name. Even more, I could hum the theme songs for my favorite wrestlers. It is also possible I might have been known to use certain songs for workout music from time to time.

I’m not completely sure if watching professional wrestling is what led me to wrestle in school. I do remember, however, that one of our coaches had to remind us that we could not use things like steel chairs, illegal moves, or have our own theme song in matches.

The fact I watched a lot of professional wrestling is not something that I like to point out to many people. You have to really know me before I let you know that little piece of myself. Let’s be honest, no one really wants to admit to being a professional wrestling fan. Continue reading

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Enough: Cultural War is Tearing the Church Apart

One of my favorite songs we often sing at church is “They’ll Know We are Christians By Our Love.” It was written by Peter Scholtes and describes the church’s mission to share the love of Jesus Christ.

This verse of the song is quite powerful.

We will walk with each other, We will walk hand in hand,

We will walk with each other, We will walk hand in hand,

And together we’ll spread the news that God is in the land.

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love,

Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

What saddens is me is how often we do not live out these words. Often what we share with the world is the message that we will only walk with each other as long as we share beliefs, practices, and understandings of faith, and that we will not walk with those who disagree with us. Continue reading

24 Hours of Jesus: Arrest and Betrayal

“Nothing good happens after 2 a.m.”

Have you ever heard of that saying? It is a classic idiom often passed along to youth and young adults to remind them to be cautious of their actions, especially once evening gives way to the early morning. The idiom is based on the belief that the later it gets the more likely we are to make bad choices of judgment and do things we may later regret. As well, the more likely we can find ourselves in challenging or difficult situations.

Not that I am ever guilty of making such poor choice of judgment late in the evening. I did, of course, attend West Virginia University, which is known as a quality institution that does not support things like couch burnings or late-night campus parties.

What we hope for with this saying is that it will reminded us all that our choices have consequences. Those of us who have uttered this saying to our children or those who we are in ministry with desire that it would lead someone to make sound decisions and wise judgments. Continue reading

In the Garden

When we last left Jesus on that fateful day that would change the world, we experienced a time of fellowship around the table in the Upper Room. Jesus and his disciples gathered to share in the traditional Passover feast that remembered how God rescued the people of Israel out of Egyptian slavery. It was an intimate time of fellowship and the last time all 12 of the disciples would dine with Jesus before his trial and crucifixion.

This morning, we pick up the journey to Golgatha sometime after midnight on Friday morning. Jesus and the disciples departed from the Upper Room sometime after the final hymn was sung in the Passover celebration. Now there are only 11 disciples around Jesus. Judas Ischariot abandoned the group, while they were still in the Upper Room, to continue his plot to turn Jesus over to the religious authorities. It won’t be long before the remaining 11 will also leave Jesus’ side.

For now, the disciples are with Jesus as they leave Jerusalem and head towards a familiar place. They walk to the Mount of Olives, which was a location of importance for Jesus’ ministry when he was in Jerusalem. Located near the town of Bethany, the Mount of Olives was where Jesus expressed his grief regarding Jerusalem’s plight. It was a place of teaching and where Jesus rested during his time in Jerusalem. Continue reading

A Look at The Upper Room

So much can happen in one day.

Over the course of 24 hours, 1,440 minutes, and thousands more seconds, we can conquer challenges, deal with the responsibilities of life, and experience new opportunities before us. Truly, a lot can happen in one day.

One day can change everything. The course of our lives can change based upon the decisions and actions we take in a given day. Human history can be forever altered based upon certain events that take place in one 24-hour period. One day can be a powerful time where so much can happen.

During this season of Lent, we will take a look at one particular day that did change everything. We are going to look at the final 24 hours of Jesus’ earthly life. Continue reading

We Cannot Stay on the Mountaintop

It was a big moment.

After some time spent together and witnessing amazing acts of healing and teaching, Jesus’ disciples are having an important conversation with Jesus. This wasn’t the usual conversation. Jesus asks his disciples a very direct and personal question: “Who do you say that I am?”

The question came after Jesus asked them about what the people saw in him. It was Peter who would speak for the entire group, as was the case many times in their three-year journey with Jesus. He announced that Jesus is, in fact, the long-awaited Messiah. The One who would redeem the people and establish God’s kingdom.

This was a big moment for the disciples and Peter. It signified that they were beginning to understand Jesus’ identity and the work he came to do, even if they didn’t understand fully what this meant. Jesus celebrates Peter’s affirmation by saying he would build his church upon his confession. He also takes the opportunity to further explain what his Lordship meant. Jesus said he must go to Jerusalem, be rejected, crucified, and raised to life three days later. Peter refused to hear this, which led to Jesus’ rebuke of Peter standing in the way of Jesus’ movement towards the cross.

Fast forward now six days later. That conversation and moment may still be fresh on the disciples’ minds as they approach Mount Tabor. This is the traditional setting for what Matthew describes for us in Matthew 17:1-9. What takes place is a high moment in Jesus’ ministry, and one that would leave his disciples amazed. Continue reading