Hey, my name is Preston. I graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2011, moved up to Jackson, Wyoming for a few years to work with the church and play in the mountains, and now attend Regent College in Vancouver, BC. I have a lovely wife named Deanna who I get to share life with daily, and we really hope our lives point people to Jesus.
I hope this blog gives you a snapshot of my life as a husband, a disciple, and a guy who loves being outside and seeing what there is to see. More importantly, I hope it offers a helpful perspective for you on who God is and what He's about. Feel free to ask questions about either.
I Thessalonians 4:13-14 “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”
Friends of Karen, we have been grieving her loss this past week. There has been many tears, emotions, confirmed fears, and unanswered questions.
Let me say this: There are no answers. I do not believe there is some hidden purpose behind this horrific tragedy. Christians, be wary of defending God with a verse or phrase to “explain”. God can stand on his own. Please remember, Jesus did not come to offer answers to questions. When people asked him questions, he often responded with another question. Or a parable, or something totally off topic! Jesus came to offer something more than answers:Hope. Resurrection. Eternal Life.
Friends, death no longer has the final word. There are no answers or reasons for the devastating loss of our friend. Jesus cries with us. But he also showed us on the cross that in the deepest darkness and pain our world can create, he still promises redemption.
So may I remind you this Easter morning of Paul’s encouragement to the Thessalonian church: grieve, yes. Grieve the loss. But grieve with hope. Hope of life to come. Hope that God is making all things new, and death truly does not have the last word. Hope that all who fall asleep in him will be brought with Jesus when he returns.
Happy Easter, friends. Jesus has risen! He is alive, and he is making all things new.
Year after year, blood was shed by bulls and goats to pay the penalty for the sins of the Israelites. But these sacrifices were not enough to truly cleanse and forgive their sins; the nation of Israel needed something greater. Through Jesus’ miraculous sacrifice made on the cross, God offered the last and final sacrifice—offering true, final forgiveness. In our human efforts, we cannot offer God anything that will erase the consequences of our sins. Thankfully, Jesus graciously came to earth to participate in the Father’s plans: “I have come to do your will O God” (v.7). And by Christ’s one sacrifice he abolished the eternal consequences for our sin (v14). He cleansed us by taking the weight of the world upon his shoulders, dying on the cross, defeating the curse of death, and rising from the grave to eternal life. His power is astonishing. This is the gospel! Jesus offers us perfect, guilt-free assurance that our sins are forgiven when we call on his name. We walk in confidence that we are cleansed, forgiven and have eternal life.
We’ve said he is human, a healer, the giver of life, the Son of God. All these traits point to Jesus the savior. But what does “Jesus save”? He saves us from death. Salvation is a trade—Jesus takes the curse of death from you and gives you life in exchange. How? By becoming human—he lived life as man and died in our place. But as God, he lived without sin and rose from the grave. Through salvation we are made right—righteous—before God; we accept this gift of life and God sees us like Jesus. Then the healing really begins; it’s his righteousness taking over our wounds and removing our pain and sin. But everyone dies! What happens then? Just like Jesus our bodies will die; but that’s not the end. He promises us new life with a new body; in salvation you’ll live again.
Have you traded Jesus your cursed life for his life of grace, freedom, and unity with God?
Wise words from the heart of my wonderful wife, Deanna:
I have seen God’s faithful timing in my life over and over, but when it comes to letting Him penetrate my heart and heal my wounds, I squirm. I try to take control from God. The reality is we are all on a healing journey with our Lord as he restores us to himself. He promises to heal our whole body, not just the parts we want healed, and we must be patient as He leads us on this journey. His healing touch goes beyond our immediate needs and heals the whole person. Jesus enters our pain respectfully – without shame or condemnation. And if we trust Him to heal our brokenness, the end result is deeper and more complete than we knew possible. In the end, Jesus’ miraculous gift of healing always points us back to him.
How do you need to let God’s word penetrate the tender, broken areas of your heart?
2 Corinthians 3:16-18
Think of it this way. When we do not know Jesus, we live with a veil over our eyes. The veil is sin, brokenness, and all the ‘stuff’ that separates us from God. When Jesus died, paying the penalty for our sin, Matthew tells us the veil in the Temple – a huge curtain separating the courts where God dwelt from the courts where people came to worship – was ripped in two (Mat. 27:51)! This symbolizes our access to God; when we turn to Christ the veil over our eyes that separates us from Him is removed. We stand naked and exposed before God – he sees everything about us, and loves us. And as we allow God to see and heal our ‘stuff’, our unveiled faces reflect more and more of His glory and His love to the world. We begin to truly live.
Do you live in the freedom of being known and loved by God?
The disciples knew their Scriptures. They knew who parted the seas and who led their people with cloud and fire. Yahweh did. And now here stands Jesus, their teacher and friend, commanding nature – just like Yahweh. And they were terrified. God, here, with us? Could this be? Jesus’ humility astounds me. Yes, it was God himself standing in the boat. He did not come in Kingly robes and glitz. The Son of God came humbly, as a friend and Rabbi, proclaiming the Kingdom of God with truth and love. Don’t forget this as you proclaim the Kingdom of God today in your life. Proclaim it! But do so humbly, with truth and love.
How has pride affected the way you imitate Christ?
Today’s Prayer: Jesus, forgive my pride. Enable me to think of my own image, possessions, and desires less and to humbly serve like you. Thank you for your endless love and compassion. Amen.
Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak
I have been introduced to the idea of vocation this semester as something totally new than my former understanding — a “job”. I’m learning that vocation and occupation are, for many (probably most) people, very different things. The two hopefully overlap at times and in ways, but our vocation is something much deeper than our source of income. It is what we must do, what our heartwills us towards above all else. It is where we come alive.
What is your vocation? It often takes digging under layers of expectations, skewed self-images, and fears to discover, but the journey is well worth it. For when we sort through these things and begin to be the person God created us to be, we enter into life with a freshness and vitality that changes our world.
Deanna and I are helping write some devotionals on the personhood of Jesus over the next few weeks. I’ll be sharing what we come up with here over the next few weeks. We encourage you to break out a Bible (or Google) to get the passage context that we’re sharing from!
John 11:1-37: “Jesus wept” passage
I think we see the humanity of Christ most in his suffering. Jesus knows suffering; we see this in his Earthly life. Yet his tears in v35 are not for his personal grief—Jesus knew Lazarus would soon be alive again! Jesus wept for the suffering of his friends that day. He wept because he loved them and it grieved him to see their pain. Today, Jesus is still human. He sits at the right hand of the Father, praying for us and I think weeping for our pain. He has not forgotten the pain of rejection, loss, and death. Jesus knows our pain because he felt it himself, and his heart mourns for it. And just like he mourned with the disciples despite Lazarus’ imminent resurrection, so too he mourns with us now and promises resurrection and new life to come.
Today’s Prayer: Jesus, thank you for weeping with us and not leaving us alone, especially in our pain. You, O Lord, know pain better than any other. Thank you for carrying the weight of the world as you walked toward the cross and eventually took our sin upon your shoulders. Amen.