March 29, 2013

A Good Friday...

One year ago today, my Dad passed from death into life.  Let me share with you what he experienced.

He left his body behind on March 29th, 2012 at 7:19pm.  

Somehow, he found himself before a city.  The first thing he did was walk up past the gates of thanksgiving, where the prayers of the faithful followers of the King frame the entrance to His kingdom.  He strutted with purpose through the courts of praise, where the praises of all His children blossom into a fragrant aroma that fills a garden in the court of this King.

And then, as he walked through the courts, he came to a door, it was standing open in front of him.  As he walked through, he arrived

at a throne room.

Even as he approached, he first heard the sounds of four angels singing:

“Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, Who Was, and Is, and Is to come.”  

As he walked through the door, he saw these angels flying around the throne.

He then laid his eyes on a massive throne, and before it was like a sea of glass and above it was a emerald rainbow.  And from the throne there were flashes of thunder.  And as his eyes descended to the seat, my Dad saw the One sitting on the throne


He was clothed with robe stretching to His feet, across His chest was a golden sash, representing his status as King.  His head and hair were glowing white, like freshly fallen snow.  His eyes burned like fire, His feet were like bronze that is heated in a furnace, glowing red hot.  His voice was like a thousand waves crashing.  And He glowed brighter than the sun.

And Jesus looked on my father on that day and proclaimed:

“Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.  

Well done, my good and faithful servant.  You were faithful with a few things, now I will put you in charge of many things.  Come, enter into the joy of my Kingdom.”

And my Dad has been ceaselessly worshiping Jesus since that second.  Everything he does, all of the things that he cares and tends for in the Kingdom, are all for the love of the King.

The fact that today’s anticipation fell on March 29th is simply yet another reason why it is

a Good Friday.

December 26, 2012

The King Has Come...

it was only love that drew the King to a stable,
stability of divinity was joined with the insecurity of humanity and in light of eternity
his very essence is changed, chained to the glory and the pain of the weight of the worlds shame but conquered by a plane jane from Jerusalem, so justice flows and we just know that Jesus is the Just King and the Just Son of the Mighty Elohim,
so enter into the joy as a Queen who marries a King, who's song sings like a thousands symphonies of Pslamists stanzas and as we stand up let us scream the song of the


rejoiced over,

reconciled, because of the love that drew the King to a stable,
our insecure humanity is joined with the King's unchanging divinity and we can sing with His voice
the song of eternity,
unlocked, in spite of the fall we now fall at the feet of the one who has victory over it all and will face no judgment because of this Kings call,
that started with a baby and ended with victory, buying back the Place of the Skull and replacing death with true humanity,

so as the song of the King sings exultation over your being
                the King has come.

December 15, 2012

Free from Condemnation

We are born with a default setting of brokenness.  A rippled effect throughout the course of history vibrates in us that someone is wrong; and we feel the weight of it as we run from it.  Since we were originally created to feel love, acceptance, wholeness, and peace, we naturally try to run from these antithetical stories via distraction, intellectualism, legalism, liberalism, or a host of other ways.

But we cannot escape the trouble within

When the reality of this brokenness grows up, it is called condemnation.  Over time, our hearts move from simply observing this brokenness to mourning within it.  Condemnation is the guilt that comes with seeing the things we have done to contribute to this fallen world: broken relationships, lost opportunities, lack of discipline, fractured love, ulterior motives, relentless addictions, and so many other things.  This condemnation and guilt accumulates and our hearts are so heavy that we actually poison ourselves with the weight of this fractured story.

But there is a solution

God is greater than our heart.  He has actually taken a world that rebelled against His shalom, and infused His love and grace in it in such a way as to heal the brokenness.  Jesus is the infusion of God's love into the world.  And not simply a passive love, but Jesus actually took on both the brokenness of all humanity and also the condemnation that spawns as a result of it, and put them to death when He died.  Him assuming our place in judgment means that our source and substance of guilt is not just covered over, but released.

Our hearts can now be confident before God.  For those who follow Jesus, the truth of this expansive, freeing love which drew up Christ on the cross has now been unlocked within us.  Out of this grace unlocked, we can then love others in a way that is not fractured by the broken love of the world around us.  We can love others without obligation or motive, because the true love of Jesus longs to serve others out of who they are, not out of what they can give us.  Good deeds are much more potent than good words. 

And not only can this new, whole love equip us to serve others without obligation, it also allows us to serve others in a way that calls them into this new reality.  True love in action always draws people into truth about who they are and who they could be.  Loving others in truth serves them in a way that is both self-reflective and Christ-reflective, deeds and truth are married under the banner of Jesus' love.

"Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.  By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;  for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything."
          - Saint John

June 26, 2012

The Space Between Grieving and Despair

My Dad died a few months ago. I took care of him through a prolonged, painful, extended suffering and watched him die slowly in front of me. I also preached his celebration service (link here, more posts to come on this).

From my very personal and real experience of suffering and death, there is something that I as a Christian must wrestle with, a spiritual no-man's land that anyone can fall into when suffering. This is the space between grieving and despair. 

Let me explain. 

Mourning/grieving is good. It's cathartic. It's human and it's necessary. Jesus designed us this way to express and feel as He expresses and feels. The Bible says we are made in God's image, and grieving loss is actually part of how we reflect His character. 

But it is important to note that our grieving turns into despair when it stops focusing on Jesus in our loss to solely on the loss apart from Him. That happened to me the day after my Dad died and I recognized that despair immediately. I had transitioned from grieving and mourning the amazing Dad I had, to slipping into a despair of life itself.

This shift happens when the source of our hope moves in the grieving heart from Jesus to these lost relationships. Unknowingly, our heart will seek to shift away from the hope of Jesus, and rest in experiences that will never happen, conversations that will never again be spoken, and regrets that will never be reversed. 

Frankly, I had never experienced a despair like that before and it was scary. But I started to meditate on Jesus, what He looked like, how He talked...simply meditating on the person of Christ. When I did, He shared with me a vision of heaven and of my Dad worshiping at Jesus' throne. It was a beautiful, spiritual vision that infused hope back in, and moved from despair back to grief and mourning. 

Despair ignores Jesus in the mourning and grieving. It produces hopelessness. 

Grieving and mourning give voice to the longing of the soul that all is not right, that death is theologically, morally, personally, relationally, inherently wrong, and it hurts like hell because that's where it came from. 

In the times of suffering and pain, we are freed by Jesus to embrace grief fully, to mourn passionately, and reject despair intentionally.

May 10, 2012

To a Better Way: Affirmations in the Life of Joshua Young

I am not perfect despite what I used to believe.
I am not who I used to be.
I have changed, am changing, and will change because Jesus is working in me.
I am focused on being more like Jesus, and that is 'God's will' for my life, not a job, ministry, or relationship.
I am not my faults, failures, and short-comings.
Brokenness will persist in my life until Jesus brings perfect peace, not until then.
Healing from brokenness is not a destination, it is a pathway.

I am not defined by past relationships, hurts, and pain.
I have hurt others and am free to forgive myself, because Jesus has forgiven me.
I cannot let my past failures define my present perspective on reality.
My broken engagement is not a pattern and does not determine my future marriage.

I am not as prideful as I used to be, but I'm more prideful than I should be.
Jesus was humble for me so that I can be humble in Him.
I'm free from pride, anger, and striving.
I can rest in what has already been done for me.

I am forgiven because of Jesus' death.
I am free because of Jesus' victory.
I am alive because of Jesus' resurrection.
Just because my Dad is dead does not mean I am not still his son.
God is my Father and he will fill in the gaps that my Dad's death has left in me.
There is a reason for Dad's death and Mom and I's part in it.

Jesus redeems every pain, every hurt, every suffering, and every sin for His glory and my joy.  He has consistently and clearly met me in the threshing floor of my life, picking up what I see as garbage and mistakes, and creating sometime new and beautiful out of it.  There is hope

He brings healing in my brokenness, love in my pain, joy in my suffering, peace in my despair, hope in every challenge.  He loves me enough to not deliver me from my sufferings, but give me the strength to bear under them.  He cares for me enough to not leave me in despair and guilt, sin and lies...but to call me to a better way.  There is a better way.

There is no chasm of sin or suffering that can separate me from His bridge-building love.  There is no misstep that can thwart me from His purposeful path.  There are no winds of choice too strong to lead me away from the coastline of His grace.  There is security.

Jesus is all-rightness, and He makes me right because He took my wrong and obliterated it on the cross.  

I am free.