Mr. Ron’s Message, Easter Saturday 2012-04-07

We are here this afternoon to celebrate and remember Ron Vernon. He’s been a friend for many years, family in the best sense of the word. We share grief in his passing even as we share in the joy of having him in our lives together.

In John 11:
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” (John 11:25-26 NLT)

It’s no coincidence that this is also Easter weekend. It’s the Saturday between Friday’s death on the cross and Sunday’s triumphant resurrection. Where most gatherings like this would focus on the cycle of life to death, would bring focus to the examples of our own mortality – today we have the unique perspective of seeing death head towards life. The cycle is turned on its head. Jesus lived life here with His disciples, here with us. And in dying and then overcoming death and all its power, He lives with us still. He offers life abundant here and to come.

The reality of our memories and the warmth of Ron’s life with us brings hope in the midst of broken hearts, brings comfort to our hurt. Today, we smile through tears and heavy hearts. We remember Ron, and we feel the life well-lived and well-shared all over again.

Father, Lord God – we thank you today for Ron and for his life shared here with us. We thank you for giving life to all of us, for enhancing that life by giving us time together. Even now, we thank you for Jesus, lovingly giving Himself that we may share in life fully and beautifully with each other. Forgive us where we’ve chosen less that that shared fullness of life. Embrace us as we move forward together from here with memories of our wonderful friend. Heal the broken places and fill the voids as You have shown you can. Comfort and encourage us on toward adventure and our own life lived together. And thank you for Ron Vernon – may we continue to live out the joy and friendship that’s been shared with us. In Jesus’ name – Amen.


Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21 NLT)


the bible in mosaic

[full disclosure: this review is built from my experiences with a review copy of Holy Bible: Mosaic sent by Tyndale House Publishers as part of their blog tour. Please feel free to read, to click, and to leave comments – Editor Keith Williams will hopefully be able to stop by in the comment section to interact, and I’ll be posting later on an opportunity for you to receive a copy of this Bible as well. Stay tuned today 10/13 on Twitter – – for details. Thanks for your continued support – the Management]

[update – afternoon: CONGRATULATIONS to Kara for mentioning this post and the Holy Bible:Mosaic in her tweeting adventures. She’ll be picking up her own copy of the edition at a bookstore near her – thanks, Kara, and happy twittering!]

I’ve had an opportunity the past few weeks to take part in a blog tour and today is my day to host. We’re sharing information and opinions of the new Holy Bible: Mosaic (copyright 2009, Credo Communications), and I was intrigued by the subtitle-ish statement on the cover, “Encounter Christ on every continent and in every century of Christian history”. Wow, what a huge sweeping rolling bold proclamation, and what an excellent idea to bring out just how thrilling and huge and sweeping and rollingly bold our faith is across all time around the world. Too many times, frankly, our faith is too small. Would this compilation bring some scope and depth to our faith, give it something to share with so much backstory?

1. a picture or decoration made of small, usually colored pieces of inlaid stone, glass, etc.
2. the process of producing such a picture or decoration.
3. something resembling such a picture or decoration in composition, esp. in being made up of diverse elements.


The hardcover edition I received has two main parts – the second is a pretty bare bones NLT-translation of the scriptures. And for me, that’s perfect. If there’s too many notes or articles or clarifying points in the middle of the biblical narrative, I find it way too easy to be distracted and get off track. I’m drawn more and more to plain text minimalist Bibles where the reader can fall in and out of the story without the fluff that too often fills someone else’s gaps. And the New Living Translation (NLT) is very readable, very meaningful, and very accessible for following Christ through the Word.

The main push for the Holy Bible: Mosaic is the first portion, basically a devotional arranged around the Church Calendar. The calendar has been peripheral to my own faith journey, not growing up in a more liturgical denominational background. But it work as a “tie that binds” here, bringing together as advertised writers, thinkers, faith-ers from across the ages and around the globe to speak into our day and time right now. The website is helpful for folks like me who need to know what week we’re on, and then the Bible picks up there with readings around the topic. For example, this is week 22 in the calendar, Remembering – and there are selections from Malachi 3, 1 Corinthians 11, A.W Tozer in the 20th century, John Flavel in the 17th century, Patrick of Ireland in the 4th century, and a spot for my own notes and reflections in the midst of living life in the 21st.

And that’s what this new book brings out for me, a living dialogue with the past, with other cultures, with other stories, all ultimately wrapped in and through the Word that’ doing the exact same things – bringing us all together across the span to proclaim the truth of God and His Son sent to us. The devotional portion would stand on its own, and that’ll be the way I’m planning on partaking in this book for the time being. Having the scriptures in the same binding is of great benefit, giving perspective on our widespread story by tying it together with His.

I look forward to digging more into the themes of the calendar, and am planning on using this for Advent devotionals in the upcoming Christmas season – something we’ve, again, never really participated in but that I see holds real meaning and depth for our faith as it’s lived out together.

Knocking on the Door of the Upper Room

I’ve added a devotional site to my links bar, The Upper Room (I think I saw it on a link from George‘s church). In my pursuit of whatever this Christian life is supposed to look like in me, I’ve slacked on being intentional about study, about using and prescribed and planned sites or lists. But this website gives a twist that I’ve enjoyed, something I’ve looked forward to discovering new each morning.


The entries each day appear to be written by "real people" – real in the sense that it’s not the same voice each time, not the same perspective. But somehow the mix of viewpoints written by folks from across the Christian spectrum has been good for me. And not only that mix of voices, but the mix of things being said. There’s different topics, different points being made, that often go deeper and in new directions for me.

That’s something I think is missing from what we often think of "spiritual growth". We need to stretch ourselves, and somehow be in position and in the proper frame of mind to stretch others. I find that the more I think I’m growing in Christ, the more I see others around me also growing in Christ. And I don’t think it’s me, as much as it’s the "us" that is growing together through our own varied perspectives and voices, just like this devotional site.

Why Don’t We Forgive More?

"To have our sins forgiven – to start over again, to have God separate us from our mistakes and moral failures, to lift the weight of shame and guilt – this may well be the weightiest evidence that the Liberating King is on the move."
Not Even Sandals, p. 39 (devotional thought from Brian McLaren, Luke 5:17-25)

The thought that struck me this morning, as I read McLaren’s note in Luke 5, is that we are pretty cool with healing and making things right, meeting needs, helping people. But I’ve been in the church a long time and I don’t think we put near enough emphasis on real forgiveness. When someone comes, we’re quick to tell them how to repent, how to ask for forgiveness, how Jesus died to forgive our sins – and all that is well and good. But I have never seen anyone be told, "Your sins are forgiven" – just like that, no strings attached. Do we think it’s blasphemous like the leaders did when Jesus did it in Luke 5? Even with the added, "Go and sin no more", that’s not a conditional forgiveness as much as it’s emphasizing that life from this point on will be different without that baggage.

What if we were to begin to forgive others in Jesus’ name? Instead of telling people how bad they are, how much their sin separates them from Christ – what if we forgave them and removed that gulf ourselves somehow? What would that do to folks?

Gratitude Enacted?

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
– Colossians 1:3-14, esv

Psalm 25

Horseshoe_2 I just thought this was a gorgeous photo (Matt Hooper, posted on Panoramio). It’s the USC Horshoe at night. Found it through Google Earth.

One of my fallbacks for scripture reading is to take "today’s psalms" – today is the 25th, so the reading for today would be Psalm 25, then every 30th one after that, or Psalms 55, 85, 115, 145. I don’t otherwise have a daily reading pattern or schedule. When I think of a "daily quiet time", I feel a burden to get my time in more than the real reason of growing in Christ. Legalism-creep kills my best intentions, and I begin to feel the same about reading the Bible as I do hitting the exercise bike. I know the results are worth it probably, but the activity begins to drag. On the other hand, if I read the Bible when "it’s time" – when my soul cries out for it, for conversation with the writers and the Inspirer – then it’s a real, deep and meaningful thing for me.

And that’s where I find myself this morning in Psalm 25, where David looks at all the enemies around himself and Israel, and in the midst of seeking protection and vengeance, he realizes his own sin and shortcomings, past and present. While seeking the Lord’s hand to hold off the rising tide of whatever, David repents. We might get up in arrears about who’s got it in for us, or how it feels everyone is

conspiring against us to mess up whatever we’ve got on our plates, or having "one of those days" where Murphy looks like a cruel-hearted genius for his Law because everything that could go wrong does. And from within the eye of that storm we might have some thought to cry out to God for deliverance, or for strength in the valley of the shadow of death, or for answers to the questions of why me and why now. But do we repent?

In Hebrews 4:14-16, we can draw near to Jesus because He understands. And we come finding mercy and grace in our time of need. I need something – have mercy on me. Does anyone else see a paradox here, a contradiction, a conflict of interest? Because I’ve got to admit, when I cry out for help, it’s usually about me protecting me and my good stuff, my worthiness. It’s not usually healthy to make this a pity party, to be depressed and oppressed by thoughts of woe is me, I’ve brought all this on myself, who do I think I’m kidding by getting this far in over my head. Maybe mercy comes in for the bad stuff, and grace comes in as propellant towards the good. And in the middle of it all, God is just God being God. Jesus is just Jesus being Jesus, my everpresent help in trouble and out.

I feel like my mind is running through the photo above, at night through the trees and the cobblestone walkways. That would be a nice place for hide-and-seek.