Friday, March 29, 2013

I am Judas

He followed Christ on earth.  So do I.  But that's not nearly all that Judas and I have in common.

Yes, he followed Christ.  But he was very concerned that the rules & proper procedures be followed. 

I am Judas.

He seemed to have decided he was more important that his fellow followers. 

I am Judas.

He thought they didn't fully understand Jesus like he did.

I am Judas.

He didn't care for Jesus' extravagant grace when the recipient didn't fit Judas' preconceived notions of who was worthy.  He forgot that he himself wasn't any more worthy than the "least of these." [Heavy sigh] 

I am Judas.

He loved the idea of the radical Jesus overturning the system.  Then he discovered the rewards for becoming part of that same system, and changed his mind.

I am Judas.

There's reason to believe that Judas used his position in Christ's group of followers to his own benefit, possibly even to the point of mis-allocating things that were Jesus' to himself.  Stealing money in Judas' case; stealing glory--or attempting to--in mine.

I am Judas.

He loved the roar of the crowd, and apparently got caught up in it such that he missed the point of Jesus' teaching.

I am Judas.

He betrayed Jesus.  [another heavy sigh]

I am Judas.

When he realized that he had blown it, he pathetically & feebly attempted to fix it after it was too late.

I am Judas.

Despite all of these many shortcomings, Jesus still had close fellowship with him, even knowing that Judas would fail and betray him.  Jesus invited him to the table to eat.  Jesus fed him.  Hung out with him.  Showed him great grace.

I am Judas.

Lord Jesus, by Your grace, and only by Your grace, may I run well the course you have remaining for me.  You know my thoughts, the number of hairs on my head, the result of my next P.E.T. scan--and every one after that.  You know the time of my departure.  You know my sinful tendencies and temptations and weak points and struggles.  Lord, I come empty-handed, with absolutely NOTHING to give You to merit Your saving and sustaining grace.  I echo Your friend Peter: "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man."  And yet, praise God, You don't.  Instead, You forgive, and forgive, and forgive,...far more often than 70 times 7 in my case.  I do NOT deserve to share communion with you, now or at the marriage supper of the Lamb.  And yet, you freely offer both.  May I never get over your grace.  And by the fullness of the power of Your Holy Spirit, Lord, enable this weak, trembling, woefully-inadequate follower--who deserves a gruesome end like Judas--to finish well.  As the hymnwriter said, "And when before the Throne I stand in (You) complete, Jesus died, my soul to save, my lips will still repeat." 
Finally, Lord, I echo the prayer you heard on the cross: "Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom."
With faltering words, tear-filled eyes, and a thankful heart & marvelous hope because of both Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday,

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Long Wait...

(From the archives; as Lisa & watch the clock tick toward this next most-important-of-my-life Dr. appointment where we'll hear the results of the P.E.T. scan & brain MRI.  Slightly updated 3/15/13.  Your prayers are MOST appreciated today & always!) 

(Originally written the morning after a scan in June 2011, before getting the results.)

What goes through one's mind the morning after a P.E.T. scan & before getting the results? The critical results?

Here are some thoughts I have Friday morning in my hotel room, 2 hrs before that appointment.

Not fear per se, but definitely anxiety that mounts as the clock moves. A blend of "What will he say this time?" and "How will I react to whatever he says?"

Not to contradict the previous, but there's an amazing calm that comes along with the anxiety. Of course, I attribute this to the overwhelming grace & presence of God, and to His graciously answering the prayers of many friends who are praying even as I write. My favorite name of God in Scripture is Jehovah Shammah as I've mentioned here before. Basically it means "the personal God Who is present."

Of the distant past, friends, family, places, etc. And of the recent past: surgery, hospital rooms, etc. Mostly, these fall under the category of things that bring great comfort (even the MDA ones!). Strangely, I smile a lot as memories come. And rest assured, I let them come, and even chase them now & then.

Not all of the memories are wonderful though. Mercifully, these are quickly re-channeled into a wonderful appreciation of grace in the Gospel. "Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow" (etc.)

I'm a bit of a dreamer anyway, and this morning in particular brings up quite a number of hopes for the future. Stay tuned. Be scared. *smile* The future in general gets collapsed into 2 phases: between now & the appointment, which is crystal clear, and afterward, which (mercifully, I think) sort of goes into a fog that I cannot see into very clearly.

My family is never far from my thoughts, but especially out here. And especially on Father's Day weekend. I'm struck this morning with the overpowering awareness that--as a writer once said--I am the narrow funnel where history & heritage meet legacy. My inherited heritage is so deep & rich that I can hardly take it all in. I pray often that 100 years from now my descendants will be making much of Jesus because of what God did in & through Mike Madaris' life. Aside: I often teter over into the arrogance of thinking "Boy, I hope they make much of me!" But as one of my favorite pastors, Crawford Loritts, says, I'm just a clap between two vast eternities; He is the One of Whom much needs to be made.

Always...ALWAYS!...worship seems to just bubble up. PLEASE don't be impressed with Mike's spirituality here! I don't create this worship, nor grit my teeth to do it; it's called forth from me, which is just a marvelous experience. Yesterday, about 5 minutes before boarding the shuttle to MDA for my scan, I was overwhelmed by a couple of hymns that came from my soul. ("At the Cross", especially the verse "Amazing mercy, grace unknown, and love beyond degree!" and "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" of which I prefer the version by Selah.) So, yeah, that was me doing the subtle macho guy tear wipe that we disguise as scratching our face or fixing our hair or something.

There's a brief glimpse into what the long space in between a scan & getting the results of that scan looks like for me.

In about three months, I'll go back out there & do this all again.

Rejoicing in Jehovah Shammah,

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Finishing Well - Remembering Prof

Howard Hendricks' faith has become sight.  Christianity--and the world in general--have lost a towering figure whose impact during his lifetime is incalculable.  (Personally, the guy who taught me how to study Scripture in depth learned how to do that under Dr. Hendricks, or "Prof" as he was widely known.)

I had the great pleasure of hearing "Prof" speak a couple of times during our days on staff with Cru.  Just fantastic.  I remember him sharing his own story of coming to faith out of an unchurched background.  "Sunday School?  Why would I want to go to school on Sunday?" (in response to an invitation by a Sunday School teacher when Hendricks was a kid in Philly.)

I can both see and hear Prof speaking to a group of men.  "You need a Paul--an older guy who's building into your life.  You need a Barnabas--a soul brother at your same life stage.  And you need a Timothy--a younger man into whose life you're building."

And I can see him & hear his voice raised as he stepped from behind the podium while speaking to 5,000+ folks all in ministry.  He pointed at us & said, "You wanna know why I'm so fired up about accountability?  Because it's already hard enough for me to share my faith as it is; I can't have any more people like you crash morally."

Great sense of humor.  Amazing teaching.  Married for 66 years.  Taught at Dallas Theological Seminary for--get this--over 60 years.

To use an analogy from track, Howard Hendricks leaned into the tape.  As Paul told Timothy, he finished the race & kept the faith.  (2 Timothy 4)

O, that you would raise up men to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Howard Hendricks, Lord.  Raise us up like Prof to be faithful all the way to the finish line.  Make us faithful in our marriages, and in our teaching, and in our discipleship as Prof was.  Help us love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her as Prof did.  Make us men who love Scripture and who study it all the days of our lives as Prof did.  Make us think it a sin to make the Bible boring, as Prof said.  Show us not the many things we might do, but rather, focus us on the one thing we must do, as Prof taught us.  May our lives model 2 Timothy 2:2 just as Prof's life did.  And may we always be careful to give You the glory for whatever you choose to do with our lives.  Just like Prof.

R.I.P., Prof!  Thanks for blazing such a clear trail for us to follow.
Mike, your long-distance 2nd-generation student.