Abandoned

We’ve all been let down. People close to us have hurt us. We’ve been disappointed by those we thought we could depend upon.

Have you ever come to a moment of great need and found yourself alone? Have you had to face trials on your own while those who have previously pledged their friendship and loyalty have scattered?

That’s the kind of thing we remember on Good Friday. Imagine facing the following scenario on your own.

So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him. – Mark 15:15-20

The most amazing thing in all of this is that amidst the torture, the pain, the horror of a barbaric death, Jesus was thinking of others. He even prayed for forgiveness for those who had caused his pain. I don’t know about you but I tend to get angry when someone causes me pain or discomfort. I can forgive them later, but at the time I can get pretty annoyed. Jesus was still in the middle of being tortured to death while he was offering forgiveness. Makes the ‘injustices’ I suffer seem fairly inconsequential.

Incredibly, he even promised forgiveness to a common criminal who was suffering the same fate that he was. There were two criminals being slaughtered alongside Jesus. One hurled insults. One asked to be remembered by Jesus. The one who asked to be remembered could see beyond the grave. He could see that death was not the end. He talked about Christ entering his kingdom. Jesus promised him a direct trip to paradise.

A lot of pictures that depict the life of Jesus show him as an otherworldly kind of figure, detached from the worries of our day to day lives. It’s good to remind ourselves that he knew what it was like to suffer pain and betrayal of the worst possible kind.

Even if you’re the kind of person who really can’t identify with Jesus, it may help you to remember that he can certainly identify with us and everything we’re facing.

The greatest news is that the betrayal and suffering of Good Friday was not the end. Sunday was coming; a day that would change our world forever.



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Terry Nightingale – Looking Back to Move Forward

How can we be free of a damaged past and walk into a fruitful future? How do we use what has happened to move forward?

Terry Nightingale is a pastor and author. His new book focuses on how we deal with past failings, disappointments, and broken dreams.

Terry is this week’s guest on my podcast, Bleeding Daylight which you can find wherever you listen to podcasts.

In a world that either demonizes past failings or tries to sweep them under the rug, Looking Back to Move Forward takes the more biblical approach of examining and learning from our mistakes to move forwards into a more fruitful future.

You can hear our conversation using the audio player below.



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Unwrapping the Reason

(This is based on a post that I republish each year around this time.)

While you’re unwrapping your gifts this Christmas I wanted to take a few moments to unwrap the real Christmas story.

We all enjoy giving and receiving gifts on Christmas Day but it’s important that we take time to remember what Christmas is really all about. It’s more than just the gifts and the jolly man in the red suit. It’s more than a ‘feeling’ or ‘spirit’ that makes us feel warm inside. It’s more than time with family enjoying good food and good times.

I find it interesting that any time someone suggests removing the word ‘Christmas’ from our celebrations at this time of year there are cries of ‘political correctness gone mad’ yet we still pay so little attention to what that word actually signifies.

While it’s generally accepted that the 25th of December isn’t the actual date that Jesus was born, it’s the day that has been chosen for celebrating Jesus’ birthday. That means Christmas is really a big birthday party.

So why should we be invited to the birthday party? Jesus was born around 2000 years ago. Why do we still celebrate his birth?

Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God. In fact, and this is where it gets tricky, according to the Bible, Jesus is actually God in human form so this is no ordinary birthday.

Here’s a little bit of the Christmas story from the Bible. This account is from a book of the Bible written by a guy named Luke.

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no vacancy for them.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.’

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.’
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

Aha! So that’s where the manger and the shepherds come in.

That’s pretty much the story of Christmas. God living among the people he created. It’s an amazing thought but it’s even more amazing when you thread the whole story of Jesus’ life together. After all, usually when we celebrate someone’s birthday we don’t just remember the day they were born, we celebrate who that person has become and what they’ve brought to the world.

If we’re still celebrating the life of someone born over 2000 years ago, we’ve got to assume that they lived a remarkable life. If you want to find out more about the remarkable life of Jesus, I’d encourage you to grab a Bible in an easy to read translation and then read one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) to find out about Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection.



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Brian Steele – Really Real Kingdom

During the past week, I had the opportunity to speak to a former cult member who underwent deprogramming by a world-renowned expert. Even after his escape from the cult he battled to find acceptance and belonging.

These days Brian Steele is a pastor and has recently become an author, publishing his first book in a series focussed on one of the parables told by Jesus. The book is titled The Kingdom Field Guide.

He has a passion for people to discover a really real kingdom as described throughout the Christian scriptures.

Are you ready for your life’s priorities to be turned upside down? The journey begins with seeking God’s kingdom, hidden like a treasure. But it’s hidden in plain sight—right at your feet.
In this hands-on Field Guide and accompanying Small Group Guide, Pastor Brian Steele will encourage you to:
– Seek God’s kingdom—because you can’t find what you aren’t looking for.
– See God’s kingdom—because it is really real.
– Live out your purpose and glorify God with the smallest details of your daily life.

Brian is my guest on my podcast Bleeding Daylight this week. You can hear our conversations wherever you listen to podcasts, or click the play button on the audio player below.



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Bradley Hopp – Liberty and Deliverance

On the surface, Teshuah Tea Company is a small business selling quality tea, coffee, and unique gift items, but there’s something far more serious behind the scenes. Bradley Hopp is the co-founder of Teshuah Tea Company and I recently spoke to him about the reason behind the business on my podcast, Bleeding Daylight.

Teshuah is the Hebrew word for deliverance and together with his business partner, Andrew, Brad works to provide deliverance for girls trapped in sex trafficking.

Andrew and his local team run a rescue house in an Asian country, bringing deliverance to girls as young as 11. The problem of sex trafficking around the world is huge.

Nearly 4 million adults and 1 million children are victims of sex trafficking, and 7 out of 10 of them are exploited in Asia and the Pacific region. It’s a 97 or 99 billion dollar a year industry. – Bradley Hopp

Back in the U.S., Brad sells products made by the rescued girls to fund the rescue work, giving the girls financial security and skills that will empower them and allow them to become independent.

In our discussion, Brad pointed out that the issue of trafficking is not just an issue for people in faraway countries but touches every country around the world.

Men are looking at pornography and they think that the girls are willing, but oftentimes they’re not. I think they said 70% or higher are actually trafficking victims. – Bradley Hopp

You can hear our conversation wherever you listen to podcasts or click the play button on the player below.



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