Palm Sunday and Facebook Rants

Start your Palm Sunday with this Facebook face-palm story. Stick with me, there’s a point to all of this . . .

There are problems. And then THERE ARE FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS.

Like these real comments left . . . on Disney’s Facebook page by irate mothers who can’t find Frozen [the Disney movie] merchandise for their children (source):

“I have been staying up late every night checking the site. I didn’t think the site would refresh during the day. SO irritated! My girl has been waiting for a classic Elsa doll since Christmas. She can’t understand why Santa didn’t get her one since it was what she wanted most. Now she is hoping that the Easter Bunny will put one in her basket. She has been so patient. I really think this might be what stops her believing in Santa and the Easter Bunny. I can’t afford to spend over $100 on eBay for a $16 doll. This whole situation makes me so sad and angry. Thank you Disney for killing the magic for my 6 year old.”

And there’s this gem:

“WHAT IN [blanket-blank] IS THE HOLD UP, DISNEY? ARE YOU STAFFED ENTIRELY BY SOULLESS. DREAM-CRUSHING MONSTERS?? […] UGH. I AM FURIOUS. HENCE ALL THESE CAPITAL LETTERS. […] UNACCEPTABLE, DISNEY. YOU’RE LITERALLY RUINING LIVES WITH YOUR EVIL WAYS. FOR SHAME.”

 These are just a couple of the hundreds of complaints against the mouse-magic-makers. And parents are in crazy bidding wars on ebay trying to buy $150 deluxe character dresses for over $1000.00 and $30 plastic dolls for $300.

 So, this is what it’s come to, huh? Blaming a huge money-making empire for ruining Jesus’ birthday and His Resurrection because we can’t give our kids more stuff?

[HT: The We Are THAT Family Blog]

I know what you’re thinking. I know what you want to say to these parents . . .

“LET IT GO!”

I’ll admit, it’s easy to hear stories like this, laugh knowingly, shake our heads, and think “Wow.  Talk about spoiled children.  Can you say, ‘ENTITLED’?”

But am I much different? Allow me share some of the rants that I have posted on God’s “Facebook page.” These are prayers I’ve actually prayed . . .

  • Come on, God. We’ve been waiting for years!  I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed that you would stir his heart and rescue him.  Am I asking too much?  This is the kind of thing You want to do, isn’t it?  Why won’t You do it?  Why are You waiting?”
  • “How could you do this to her?” I growled at God through clenched teeth as I pounded my fist on the steering wheel. I was following the ambulance that was taking my burned wife to the ER. “She has been faithful to you! Is this how you show your daughter your love? Is this how you show me your love?”
  • Father, please, I don’t want to struggle with this sin anymore. I want to be a godly man.  You say that you are more satisfying than anything, than any sin. I’m not sure I believe You. I’m not sure I’ve ever tasted and seen how good You say You are.  Why is the pull of my me-first heart so strong?  Why won’t you change me?”
  • Father, why would You let my friend hate me? Why won’t You help us reconcile?  I want it, God, I do. Why won’t You arrange the reconciliation? Why don’t You break down the barriers between brothers and sisters in Christ? Why would you let Christian friends fall out of favor?  What message does our disunity declare?”
  • God please, please don’t let her die. Please don’t do this to these sweet people.  You have the power to heal, to restore. Please Father. I don’t know what else to say.  I’m pleading with You. Please.”

It’s easy to for me to see consumerism in spoiled suburban children and Disney Divas, it’s another thing to see it in my relationship with God.

The Palm Sunday story of fickle followers who shake palm branches and shout “Hosanna! Lord, save us!” on Sunday (John 12:12-15), and then shake their fists and shout “Crucify Him!” on Friday (John 19:12-16). This significant moment in the most significant week in history exposes my problem, because I have the same problem those people had:

The Pharisees, the people in the crowd, and even the disciples, wanted Jesus to be a kind of Christ that He didn’t come to be, the kind of King that He didn’t come to be. 

I, too, can get excited about following Jesus . . . IF He will be the kind of Christ and the kind of King I want Him to be.

 Each Palm Sunday I’m confronted with the same conviction . . .

I may want Christ customized or Christ civilized, but what I need is Christ crucified.

I’ll unpack this more in the days to come as we consider Palm Sunday and it’s inevitable clash of kingdoms this week on the Cruciform Life Blog . . . see you tomorrow.

Evangelical Hypocrisy

Of all hypocrites, grant that I may not be an evangelical hypocrite,

who sins more safely because grace abounds,

who tells his lusts that Christ’s blood cleanseth them,

who reasons that God cannot cast him into hell, for he is saved,

who loves evangelical preaching, churches, Christians,

but lives unholily.

An excerpt from the prayer “Paradoxes” found in The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions (Banner of Truth, 1975), pp. 128-129 (Bonded Leather Edition).

Personalized Promises From Romans 8

John Piper personalizes the promises of Romans 8 . . . let Paul preach the gospel to your heart:

Romans chapter eight is so dense and so constant with good news — good news that is so great and so glorious and so vastly superior to all the good news in this world — whether health good news, or family good news, or church good news, or job good news, or political good news, or international good news, or financial good news — so vastly superior to all earthly good news and so relentless, that you can scarcely feel the full force of it until you take virtually every verse and restate it as the good news that it is.

That’s what I would like to do for you and with you now . . . be in an attitude of hungry readiness to hear the Lord himself speak kindly and deeply and powerfully to your soul. I have tried to restate these truths as if God himself were speaking them to you—his children.

8:1 In Christ, you are free from eternal condemnation.

8:2 You are free from the damning curse and power of sin.

8:3 I executed the penalty for your sin in the crucified flesh of my Son.

8:4 The Holy Spirit is fulfilling in you the demands of my law summed up in love.

8:6 The power of the Holy Spirit in your soul gives life and peace.

8:7–8 Apart from the Holy Spirit, you are in bondage to the flesh and cannot please me.

8:9 But you are not in the flesh. My Spirit is in you, and you are the possession of my son Jesus Christ.

8:10–11 My Spirit in you will one day give life to your mortal bodies in the resurrection.

8:12 Your only debt in life is to live by the power of the Holy Spirit.

8:13 That power is the only means by which you can kill your sin.

8:14 All who are thus led by my Spirit to kill sin show that they are my sons.

8:15 My indwelling Spirit is the spirit of adoption, wakening the cry from your heart, “Abba Father.”

8:16 This is my witness with your spirit that you are my children.

8:17 As my children, you are my heirs and will share my glory after a life of groaning with me in this fallen world.

8:18 But that groaning is not worth comparing to the glory that you will see and share.

8:19 The whole broken creation waits to receive its glorification when you receive your glorification. Yours will be hers, not the other way around.

8:20 I subjected the creation to its present futility with a hope-filled purpose.

8:21 One day, this entire creation will attain its own freedom and glory after and from and for my glorious children.

8:22 It is as if the whole creation were heaving with the labors of immanent birth.

8:23 Even the Spirit-indwelt followers of my Son groan in your aging, disease-ridden bodies with these same hopeful birth pangs, as you await the fullness of the privileges of your adoption, the resurrection of your glorified bodies.

8:24–25 Since you are saved — not fully already but only in hope — you wait with patience through all of your sufferings.

8:26 When you don’t know how to pray in your sufferings, my Spirit prays for you through your very groanings.

8:27 I never mistake my Spirit’s meaning, but respond always for your good.

8:28 But one thing you do know: I work everything for the good of those who love me and are called according to my purpose.

8:29 From eternity I took note of you, acknowledged you, chose you, and destined you infallibly to magnify my Son by becoming like him as the great firstborn.

8:30 I forged in eternity the unbreakable links of the chain: predestined, called, justified, glorified so that at no point is any of my elect ever lost.

8:31 Manifestly then, I am for you! No one can successfully oppose us.

8:32 I gave my own Son to save you. And so, with the hardest act behind me, nothing can stop me from giving you everything you need to enjoy me forever.

8:33 When I, the judge of the universe, count you righteous, and acquit you in the court of the universe, no charge, from any adversary, can stick.

8:34 To secure this vindication, Christ Jesus died, rose, reigns, and intercedes for you before me.

8:35 Therefore nothing can separate you from the love of Christ — not tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword.

8:36 You may be slaughtered like sheep — indeed somewhere in this world you are always being killed.

8:37 But no. Even in your slaughter — or any other demise — your loss becomes your gain, and your enemies become your servants.

8:38–39 Therefore you may be sure — you should be sure, how can you not be sure — that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate [you] from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

From John Piper’s excellent message “Greatest Book, Greatest Chapter, Greatest Joy”