4 weird things about Palm Sunday

This is an edited transcript of one of my recent sermons at Desert Mission Anglican Church. Listen here.

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’”

And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it.

And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. (Mark 11:1-11 ESV)

During Holy Week we will through Scripture readings, prayer, and special services walk with our Lord to the cross, and it all starts on Palm Sunday. This is– as you would expect–a rather somber journey, but Palm Sunday is a celebration. I don’t know about you, but this strikes me as a little strange. The whole story of the Triumphal Entry is–if you think about it–a little weird. The great preacher Charles Spurgeon said,

“Christ’s kingdom is a very strange one, totally different from anything that ever has been seen or ever will be seen…”

Palm Sunday - Spurgeon Quote

This story is a perfect example of this. At virtually every turn Jesus is doing something that neither his disciples, nor the crowds that celebrated him, nor the religious authorities, nor even you and I would probably expect.

Now, this story may be strange, but here’s the thing…it’s in the strangeness that we’ll find the significance. We have to go a bit beyond a surface-level reading to see what’s happening here. Are you ready to dive a little deeper with me? Continue reading 4 weird things about Palm Sunday

#Lent, @Twitter, and the real meaning of self denial.

Brothers and sisters, we are now solidly into the season of Lent. Lent is that time of the Christian year where we remember own sin, our own deep need for a savior. We remember we’re made of dust, and we’re going to back to being dust. Perhaps you’re giving something up for the Lent this year…

Christianity Today compiled a list of some of the most popular things people are giving up on Twitter.

You know what the number one thing people are giving up for Lent is on Twitter? Continue reading #Lent, @Twitter, and the real meaning of self denial.

If your heart belongs to God, so does everything else

When my wife Amber and I married each other, a lot changed for both of us in the days immediately after our marriage. For instance, we went from two separate bank accounts to one, joint bank account.

All of a sudden someone else could see everything I was spending my money on. I remember well the days before I got married, when I could buy video games and technological gadgets without really asking anyone for permission, just because I wanted to.

Those days are long, long gone.

Things changed because I became responsible for more than just myself.

Before we got married, I had a car and, Amber did not. After we were married, if someone asked Amber if she had a car, she’d say yes, of course I do. My things stopped being my things and became our things. In effect, my stuff became her stuff. And while it took some getting used to, I really didn’t mind. Why is that? Because the relationship was worth it.

Because on a summer day in 2005, I gave Amber my heart, and everything else followed from that.
Continue reading If your heart belongs to God, so does everything else

How to have a mind like water

In David Allen’s classic book on personal productivity, Getting Things Done he describes an ideal state of mind:

Imagine throwing a pebble into a still pond. How does the water respond? The answer is, totally appropriately to the force and mass of the input; then it returns to calm. It doesn’t overreact or underreact.

So why do we care about this?

A mind like water is a disciplined mind, a mind focused on the right things, at the right times. David Allen places this in the context of personal productivity, getting the things you need to get done, done. David Allen’s Getting Things Done system can help you clear the clutter from your daily task list and help you order your life in a way that is consistent with your values.

I think there’s actually a spiritual component to this, if we’re open to it: the very biblical concepts of stewardship and working “as for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). Continue reading How to have a mind like water