As [Jesus] drew near Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, “Jesus of Nazereth is passing by.” And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more,


And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, Glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God. (Luke 18:35-43)

Monday night I went to our University Heath Center to have a little rash checked out. I normally hate going to the doctor’s for anything besides a bone protruding from my flesh or while unconscious, so this was no exception.

The reason I decided to go was because, oddly, the little rash I got was pretty stinking painful. When it wasn’t itchy, it felt like I had burned it and was prodding it with electrified skewers. The Doctor’s response: “Yep… that’s Shingles.”

Shingles is a skin disease that is caused by the same dormant virus that causes chicken pox when you were a child. When you got over chicken pox, the virus didn’t leave your body– it just sat around. For the normal person, this isn’t a problem but for the lucky few like myself, the virus breaks through to the surface via nerves connected to the spine and attacks and damages them on the way out. Result: the feeling of being pierced with fishing hooks that are constantly yanked on by a MAC truck.

So I do what I normally do– I call out to my God and Father.

“Dad, please take this pain away from me. I can’t go another night without sleeping, I have too much work to do.”

But here’s what I’ve been learning about God and healing. Am I just buddying up to God so that he’ll heal me? Am I just reading my bible and praying extra hard so that I can feel better?

That’s not what’s happening to the blind beggar in the account above.

Jesus gives sight to the beggar so that the beggar could follow Jesus and glorify him. The blind man didn’t go back to his business begging, or go off and do something else since he now has sight.

Jesus was not just a means by which the beggar could receive his sight.

Jesus healed the blind beggar, which was the means to meet the ends of allowing him to see Jesus and to glorify him.

Oh, how I repent of asking Jesus to be the means of my healing. I pray boldly that God would remove these painful shingles so that I may glorify him better, not just so I can get my work done in comfort.


Dad I know that you have the power to give and the power to take away. I know that these silly shingles are but dust for you to flick away if you so desired. But I pray with all my heart, that you be glorified by removing this pain. That it would make you look good and perfect, as you are.

And God, if you’re not glorified, then don’t bother removing this. I’ll bear this to the grave if you can’t be glorified in healing me.


He is Risen [Sermon Suggestion]

I’m devoting today’s blog post to a sermon that was preached yesterday on Easter by Pastor Nate Cartel at Vita Nova Church in Amherst, Mass. I try and listen to a few sermons every week outside of the Sunday’s, so I figure once and a while I’ll throw up a sermon suggestion for all the people who are interested in getting an extra dosage of spiritual food.

The title: He is Risen.

Nate preached, what is in my opinion, the best sermon in his short but growing career as a pastor and preacher. The sermon illustrated very well what it is that Christianity stands on.

It is not dense theology, elevated philosophy or elated feelings that justify a radical full-life devotion to God, but the mere fact of whether or not Jesus rose from the dead.

I don’t want to take away from the sermon, so click on the link below to check it out for yourself.

Sermon: He Is Risen – Nate Cartel – Vita Nova Church


Why So Glum

Welcome to the halfway mark for Holy Week. This is a time that historically signifies Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem (last Sunday) and his resurrection seven days later. What has been taken over by bunnies, colorful eggs and candy is in actuality the darkest and most heart breaking chapter in all of history.

In John 12 we see Jesus entering Jerusalem receiving honor and glory that is only natural to his true being as God, Messiah, Savior, Redeemer, First-born of All Creation, King of Ages, I AM.

They took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

The words screamed out of joy by the people are, “Thank God for you Jesus, thank God for you our savior!” The tragedy is not in the fact that the exaltation stops. But the hearts of the people harden into the darkest of hates as five days later, everything changes.

They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!

Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?”

The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15)

When Jesus resurrected on the third day, it marks the completion of his mission to forgive, justify and adopt us as his people. But, as they say, it is always darkest before dawn. Let the next few days be full of meditation on the cost of our faith and assurance in salvation.


Jesus ≠ World Peace or Peace with the World

“Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Luke 12:51-53

We need to really re-evaluate our understanding of the Gospel of Christ if we are believing that it can be integrated nicely and neatly into the world without a hiccup of violent opposition.The message that Jesus preached is one that is loaded with infinite grace and love, but this doesn’t mean that the world accepts it with the same humility in which is was given.

This is not to say that the power of Christ in us is limited and cannot restore the broken relationships between ourselves and others. We find scripturally and historically that the faith in Jesus which leads to our adoption into the family of God is one that unites people in radical fashion beyond the relationship of mere acquaintances.

Scripturally, we see this happening with the first 3,000ish Christians on the scene after Jesus’ death and resurrection as recorded in the book of Acts.

And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47

This is how the church began and this is generally how the body of believers have interacted throughout history. In fact, Christianity is  the first and only religion that “promotes self-sacrificing community between and across genders, social classes and race.” (Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, Author of “Reason for God“)

What we need to understand is that while Jesus and the Gospel that he has preached certainly have the power to redeem broken relationships between people, it is not the end-all purpose of his original coming. Christ came to pay our debt to sin and call people to himself to receive his gift of grace. The fallout and implications of such an action range from reconciliation of relationships, to the freedom from the bondage of addiction but they are not the sole purpose of Jesus’, or the Church’s existence.

So when we see evil prevail and suffering continue in our world today, it does not mean that Jesus’ purpose and time on earth was a failure, for he didn’t come to bring peace to the entire world. His message and salvation is for those who listen and respond, who in themselves will have peace in the knowledge of an eternal perspective of themselves and their position with God. Beyond that, however, Jesus says that his message and purpose will actually divide people.

How and why?

Accepting the Gospel requires a shift in allegiances which ultimately creates the division that Jesus is talking about. We all have our allegiances or loyalties which dictate the way we think and make our decisions. Where an unbeliever’s allegiance will be on self-preservation and comfort or family well-being, Christ calls us to an allegiance to him that trumps the self or any other loyalty we may have.

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37

Imagine saying to your mother, father, best friend, girlfriend, “I’m sorry but you’re no longer my highest priority.” You can see how the difference in allegiance divides a house. The two different sides take stances that can’t coexist peacefully: the non believer will say, “I will do anything for my (insert allegiance), even at the cost of losing God.” The allegiance that Christ calls us to will say, “I will do anything for my God, even at the cost of losing my family. My friends. My fiance. My job. My house. My own well-being.” (read more on this drastic change in perspective that God calls us to here)

Is this the God you signed up with? The God whose worth surpasses that of any physical or emotional suffering that this world, in its wickedness and brokenness, can conjure up?

Be ready for division and opponents to the Gospel of Grace that you carry. Remember that this Message, when preached in its entirety, has a near perfect track record for killing its messengers– all of the apostles (with the exception of Judas Iscariot who committed suicide after his betrayal, and John who survived the sentenced execution of being boiled alive) and Jesus endured such division that it led to their death at the hands of their opponents.

I know this doesn’t scare you because I know that you have your hope set on the eternal prize, the crown of righteousness that waits for your at the finish line. All these 800 words to say this: if you are experiencing division, you’re doing something right.


Never Forget

I spent this last Christmas and New Years with a few of my closest friends in Uganda. It was an amazing time, full of challenges of heartache and glimpses of God’s wonder in the beautiful landscape and people. (If you’d like to read more, check out the travel blog we created here)

I wanted to refresh some of these important experiences and landed on a page in my journal that was marked “NEVER FORGET” at the top. It was written to be read by myself in the future, but I wanted to share the heart-breaking and heart-changing moments with you all. Let me take you to the Katanga slums in Kampala, Uganda.


She walked up to me quietly and gently grabbed my fingers with both of her hands. She looked up at me and yelled out with her eyes for the warmth of a smile. It didn’t take long before I gave her the best smile my hard heart could give. She smiled back immediately, as though satisfied or relieved, and dug her head into my arm as though she were trying to hide in my very flesh.

As we walked, she carefully guided me through the narrow alleyways filled with bustling people and open streams of flowing septic. She would point and nod in the right directions when we got lost from the group in the maze of the slum. Her manner was that of a seasoned woman, one who knew more about the harshness of life than most women 3 or 4 times her age.

Her hand was bandaged with medical tape and an IV drip that was fed into her vein was attached. She noticed me looking at it and looked up and said softly, “measles.”

I looked around at the ground to avoid puddles of septic build up and broken shards of glass. For the second that my focus was off of myself I noticed that Agnes had no shoes on. She was barefoot. Those beautiful little feet, those of a princess, deserved shoes that lit up different colors with every step– not callouses, cuts, or infection.

Never forget Agnes. Never forget that poverty is not a statistic; it is a beautiful little girl who doesn’t deserve to live in a slum. Who doesn’t deserve to become deaf in 2 months without the proper treatment for her measles. If numbers, pictures, sad movies or stories of unfortunate people don’t give you the motivation to fight for the poor, remember Agnes.

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