Posted in Devotions, Lent

“Sweat like drops of blood”

“By His Blood” 2020 Lent devotion #34

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.  (Luke 22:44)

Just hours before his arrest, Jesus pauses to think and pray about everything that is going to happen to him. The physical suffering has not yet started. But the mental and emotional struggle has already begun. He prays in agony. He is covered in sweat which falls to the ground like drops of blood. 

Have you ever prayed with such intensity? Have you ever prayed yourself to exhaustion, drenched in perspiration? Me neither. Most of the time, I’m pretty comfortable when I pray. I may have some worries or concerns on my mind, but I don’t break a sweat. 

Why not? Well, for one thing, I’m not Jesus. I’m not the one who will be bruised and crushed for the sins of many. And I never know what that feels like. Because he stood in and did it all for me and for you. 

I suppose there may be a day when my prayer exhausts me. But I don’t think that’s what God wants. He doesn’t want me to be anxious about anything. He’ll take care of me. He doesn’t want me to wear myself out. He offers a yoke that is light and easy. He wants me to rest, assured that he’ll be awake all night to take care of things. He offers perfect peace to replace my fears. He turns my mourning into dancing.

Instead of tears, he wants my prayers to be filled with joy, thankfulness and trust. 

Lord, I am amazed at your prayers. I’m even more amazed by your love. Amen. 

Posted in Sunday

Is it warm in here, or is it me?

Photo by Hans Reniers on Unsplash

As you know (or maybe don’t know) anything can happen on a Sunday morning. As a pastor, you want your Sunday mornings to be uneventful. Should the Holy Spirit choose to blow through and dramatically change someone’s life, I’ll go with it. But in general, I prefer no surprises.

Especially the physical plant surprises that might crop up at any moment. In Connecticut, the worst thing that could happen in the winter was no heat. In Florida, however, throughout the year, the one thing you don’t want to encounter is no air conditioning.

I arrived a little earlier than usual last Sunday morning. I was staving off high-pollen laryngitis and wanted to give my voice a little more time to wake up. It was gravely, but would endure the morning with lots of water and no singing. After running through my sermon, I noticed that the sanctuary was strangely silent as six-thirty AM came and went. Usually, the big AC units kick on at 6:30 to begin cooling down the room for worship. Especially on a humid February morning.

I checked everything I knew how to check. As I often tell my leaders, I barely passed my HVAC class at the seminary. I just knew it was going to be warm if something didn’t happen soon.

About 7 am I called the AC guys. I know that I woke up the owners wife who was handling the phone that morning. They would send someone out.

As the musicians arrived to warm up and early arriving worshipers arrived, the worship folders doubled as fans to cool a quickly warming room. About five minutes before worship was about to being, an AC tech showed up and pondered the mysteries of the box which controlled everything. All I could do was remind myself that it wasn’t that hot yet. Surely he would figure it out soon.

About 30 minutes later, I could feel cold air beginning to circulate through the worship space. Thank you, Lord! It’s not like we can crack a window or anything. We opted out of that when we built. As cool air began to course through the room, those fanning themselves soon put their sweaters on. Feast or famine. Sahara or Arctic, I guess. By grace alone we made it through the morning.

Today (Monday morning), I arrived at the church to begin another week, and noticed that all the big units were running. Still running. I looked at the status display, and it read, “Forced schedule.” Now what do I do? A little later a tech showed up and explained what the other guy did and what to do next time. It’s not an elegant solution, but it will work.

I have plenty on my mind every Sunday morning. I’d like to focus on preaching and teaching. In my dreams! I usually have to deal with electrical (the lights won’t come on), acoustical (my microphone is popping), atmospherical (it’s kind of cold in here, pastor) and medical issues (someone passes out in church). I hope you’ll forgive me if I lose my train of thought.