Saturday, April 19, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-04-19 [Lent2014] 1. No Grave

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will live in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay. Acts2:27-28

These verses are from Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost. He is quoting from Ps.16 - a Messianic Psalm.

We bump our heads against death and decay...
Decay is all around us. Decay in the environment, in morals, in hope, in health. Death is also about Decay. Death is where Decay becomes irreversible and final. And even after we have died our bodies are subject to decay.

Paul talks about Decay in Romans 8. He describes it like this:
"20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God."

Are you frustrated by the chaos you see on the news and in the world around you? The "bondage to decay" is a despair-creating reality all around us that sucks us dry and threatens to extinguish hope.

In this Resurrection Sermon Peter is quoting a 1000 year old prophecy that makes it clear - It has ALWAYS been the plan that Jesus would rise from the dead. It has ALWAYS been the plan that He would break the power of death and decay. He died but He did not decay. He died but He rose and now decay will NEVER have a hold on Him.

It's been Friday - NOW SUNDAY'S COMING!
One more sleep and we celebrate Christ's incredible victory over sin and death. Let's let our hearts be glad and and our tongues rejoice!!!!!!!
That brings us to the end of of our Lent eDevs. I hope the journey has been meaningful to you! I have enjoyed the writing.

The eDevs will take a break until after the Worker's Day long weekend.
Much love,
God bless,

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, April 18, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-04-18 [Lent2014] 2. He has DONE it


Psalm 22 was written nearly 1000 years before the coming of Jesus and it is both beautiful and disturbing as a Messianic Prophecy.

It is disturbing because it describes the suffering of the cross with uncanny accuracy. It reveals the God-forsaken-ness of the cross, the physical suffering, the hate directed toward Jesus and the pain of body and soul that He experienced.

It is beautiful because David describes this from a first person perspective: It was MY God-forsaken-ness that Jesus took on at the cross. It was MY suffering He carried there. It was MY enemies that He faced there. It was MY brokenness that He paid for there. It was MY darkness, MY pain, MY suffering, MY loneliness that He carried and MY life that He saved.

And the Psalm ends on a powerful note of triumph: He did not fail, He did not falter.

(Now read the excerpts of the Psalm below...)
Psalms22:1-31 (Selected)

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
8 "He trusts in the LORD;
let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him."
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
18 They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.
22 I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the congregation I will praise you.
24 For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn--
for he has done it.
HALLELUJAH! Thank YOU Jesus that You died for me!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, April 17, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-04-17 [Lent2014] 3. Crushing the Serpent

And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel." Genesis3:15

Today many congregations will have footwashing and Tenebrae services as we remember the Last Supper, Jesus praying in Gethsemane and the arrest of Jesus in the garden.

In the movie, the Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson portrays Jesus praying in the Garden - and Satan, in the form of a serpent, is trying to talk Him out of going to the cross. The scene culminates in Jesus praying "Not my will, but Yours be done." As Jesus gets up to meet Judas and the soldiers coming to arrest Him, He stomps His heel on the head of the serpent who is tempting Him.

It is a powerful portrayal of the fulfilment of the oldest Messianic prophecy...

When Adam and Eve fell into sin, God announced the consequences on Adam, Eve, humanity and the serpent. The prophecy reveals the ongoing enmity between Satan and humanity. Right at the very beginning - just hours after Adam and Eve rejected God's commands and tried to be their own gods - God promised that their enemy, Satan, would be defeated by a Son (an offspring of the woman) who would crush his head. But it will come at a cost - the serpent will strike the Saviour's heel)

The arrest, the mocking, the scourging, the nails, the cross - all of this is Satan's strike to the heel of the Saviour. But the Saviour will rise. Sin, Death and Satan are defeated.

As we head into this third last day of Lent and the beautiful Easter story unfolds, let us consider this: Right at the beginning, when Adam and Eve sinned, God was clear - this is what it would take and this is what it would COST.
- Right at the beginning Jesus was willing to pay the price,
- just before He was sent into Mary's womb Jesus was willing to do it (See Philippians 2:6-7),
- during the temptations Jesus was willing to do it,
- in the Garden He was willing to do it.
And then He DID it.

Let us worship Him in awe-struck wonder!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-04-16 [Lent2014] 4. Appalled

He saw that there was no one,
he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm worked salvation for him,
and his own righteousness sustained him.
17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. Isaiah59:16-17

This is a goosebump chapter for me. It starts with an assurance that God's arm is not too short to save, but then plunges into the extent to which humanity is drowning in its brokenness. Just look at the verses below...

But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear...
Like the blind we grope along the wall,
feeling our way like men without eyes.
At midday we stumble as if it were twilight;
among the strong, we are like the dead. (Isaiah 59:2 & 10)

To summarise verses 2-15: Our sins separate us from God, justice is driven back, truth is nowhere to be found and those who strive for righteous are victimised.

But then Isaiah reveals a staggering glimpse into God's heart: When He saw our predicament God was profoundly moved!
- He was appalled at our predicament.
- He set out to work salvation for us with His own arm.
- His righteousness became the sacrifice that paid for us
- Our salvation was the concern that would take Him to the cross
- He was determined to break Satan's power
- And He wrapped Himself in zeal.

Jesus wasn't resigned to His fate in a `Oh-well-I-suppose-I-had-better-save-these-people` way. No! He was _appalled_ at where our brokenness takes us, and He rolled up His sleeves to get stuck into saving us. He passionately and zealously offered up His very best - even His righteousness (He carried the guilt of our sin) - so that we might be saved.

Look at Him route-marching to Jerusalem (Mark10:32)
See Him submit to the Father's will in Gethsemane (Luke22:42)
See Him forgive us on the cross.(Luke23:34)

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews says: "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the _joy_ set before Him _endured_ the cross, scorning its shame."

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-04-15 [Lent2014] 5. Beauty, Oil and a Garment

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the blind, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour. Isaiah61:1-3

When Jesus began His public ministry He read this passage from Isaiah in the synagogue service in Nazareth. It was the announcement of His Mission and Purpose.

Let's look at it more closely:
His FOCUS is the broken, the captives, the blind, and the grieving.
His MESSAGE is freedom, favour, comfort, and hope.
He has come to make three vital EXCHANGES:
- A crown of beauty instead of ashes
- Oil of gladness instead of mourning
- A garment of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness or despair.

Let's look at these exchanges more carefully...

1. Life leaves us broken and in the lurch. We feel or are told that it is _our_ fault. That we are to blame. Our self-images are on the ash-heap of life and we find it hard, if not impossible, to love ourselves. But Christ has come to take away the ashes of brokenness and give us new life instead. Paul writing to the Corinthians says "If anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation." He crowns us with beauty - He makes me His child!

2. The oil of gladness is the hope of restoration and renewal in the midst of our suffering and sorrow. When one anointed someone with oil, their faces shone with the slickness of the oil, the aroma of the oil wafted around them, and their dry skins softened with the touch of the oil. It is a luxurious picture of blessing and equipping and nurture. It is the intervention of the same Spirit who enabled Jesus who enables us and equips us for our tasks - even in the midst of our trouble.

3. Despair can be a bulky jacket weighing heavily on our shoulders in the midst of the summer heat. It saps us, drains, slows us down, and inhibits us as we get sucked into the humdrum and the slog of life. Life is without direction or purpose and it is only when we can turn our eyes to what God has done that we put on a lighter, freer, more colourful garment that replaces the straitjacket of the dreary drudgery that our lives have become.

These are three wonderful exchanges and Jesus came to show us that it was possible and He came to pay the price to cover the cost-difference between what He takes from us and what He gives us in their places. His death funds this divine exchange!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Sunday, April 13, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-04-14 [Lent2014] 6. Rejected

The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;
23 the LORD has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 O LORD, save us; (HOSANNA!)
O LORD, grant us success.
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.
From the house of the LORD we bless you. Psalms118:22-26

This psalm appears in numerous ways in the NT.
- Jesus speaks of Himself as the "stone the builders rejected."
- Peter also writes of the rejected capstone in his letter.
- The crowds on Palm Sunday quoted from this Psalm
- Commentators are certain that Jesus and the disciples would've sung this as a passover hymn at the Last Supper.

Jesus was not the Messiah that the Jews were expecting.
They wanted a political and military Messiah who would restore the Kingdom to Israel, but He did not speak of war, but love and forgiveness. He rode a donkey of peace rather than a stallion of war.

The Pharisees could only see that He healed on the Sabbath rather than seeing that He healed. They couldn't understand how a Samaritan could be good when they wanted to keep God's good news for Jews only. He connected to the poor and the needy instead of the rich and the powerful. He confronted the powerful religious figures of the day instead of affirming them. He spoke of peace, love, and the forgiveness of enemies.

He was an unexpected Messiah. And so they rejected Him. The same crowd that shouted "Hosanna" on Palm Sunday shouted "Crucify" on Good Friday.

But the unexpected Messiah did an unexpected thing. He carried our sin on the cross and overcame death's sting. He obtained forgiveness and new life for us and He established a kingdom that will endure forever and ever.

Peter points out that the rejected stone becomes cornerstone and capstone. The cornerstone defines the orientation of the building and the capstone is the building's glory.

How do you see Jesus?

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Saturday, April 12, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-04-12 [Lent2014] 7. Donkey

Rejoice greatly O Daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! See, Your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah9:9

As far as the Jews were concerned Jesus was an "unexpected" Messiah. They were longing for a political figure who would chase the Romans into the sea and establish an earthly throne in Jerusalem and set up a kingdom that the likes of David would only have dreamed about.

When Jesus came and established a heavenly kingdom - a kingdom of the heart - many expectations were disappointed -- Some have even suggested that Judas betrayed Jesus to force Him to show His power and reveal His majesty.

But the idea of Jesus being a different kind of Messiah is not completely unexpected... There are Old Testament prophecies that portray this aspect of Jesus coming: Isaiah portrays the Messiah as a suffering servant, bruised and broken for our iniquities. The Psalms portray a Messiah who suffers and rises from the dead. And here in Zechariah we have another example of an unexpected Messiah...

What animal would one expect a coming Messiah to ride? We'd imagine great white stallion - a symbol of power, strength, and war. So one can imagine the very different message that is conveyed by riding a donkey's foal!!

The foal of the donkey is the mode of transport for the elderly or children. It would be the mount chosen by a soothsaying prophet or a wise hermit.

Riding a donkey is not the declaration of war, but a statement of the intent of peace. This was Jesus' mode of transport on Palm Sunday as He entered Jerusalem. It was a week before Passover, Jerusalem was full of pilgrims, they were remembering the miraculous Exodus from Egypt and nationalistic fervour ran high...

Jesus sent a crystal clear message on that day: His kingdom was not an earthly kingdom. He was not willing to go to military war to obtain peace. He came not as a Military General but as a Sacrificial Hero and He would obtain salvation by giving Himself.
(Tomorrow is Palm Sunday - It marks the start of Holy Week. I'd encourage you to participate fully in whatever services your congregation is having so that you may be awed, amazed and awakened by the celebration of the greatest love ever known!)

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, April 11, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-04-11 [Lent2014] 8. Bruised Reeds

"Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him
and he will bring justice to the nations.
2 He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
3 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
4 he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his law the islands will put their hope." Isaiah42:1-4

The New Testament affirms the fulfilment of this prophecy in Matthew chapter 12 where Jesus is described as healing and delivering those who were demon-possessed and sick. It affirms that Jesus had not come to lead a political revolution (He wasn't raising His voice in the streets) but He was leading a revolution of the heart.

He did not come to judge or condemn but to heal bruised reeds and fan smouldering wicks back into flame.

My favourite story that illustrates this point is the one about the woman caught in adultery. She was a victim twice over: In the patriarchial society she lived in, an influential man could easily force his wishes on her and the absence of the man at the `trial` before Jesus tends to confirm that this was the case. She had been reduced to being `bait` in the Pharisee `trap.` The way Jesus handles the situation is a beautiful illustration of the Servant of the Lord who does not break bruised reeds. When He has driven away those who have no right to condemn, He does not use His right to condemn. He gives her a new start: `Go and sin no more.`

Like that woman I am `damaged goods.` I have sinned, been sinned against, and find myself sin-broken. I have fallen short of all that God designed me to have and be and I find myself bruised and smouldering.

The servant of the Lord came to establish justice: He dealt with my sin, my being-sinned-against, and my sin-brokeness. He did it on the cross. Then He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell in me, so that my bruises could be healed and my smouldering become a flame.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, April 10, 2014

DEVMISSED 2014-04-10 [Lent2014] 9.Four Titled Saviour

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest,
as men rejoice when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian's defeat,
you have shattered the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace. Isaiah9:2-6

This is one of the most loved prophecies of Jesus' coming. We often hear it at Christmas time (though often with vs.3,4,5 left out). Lets look at each of the verses and how they relate to Jesus...

v.2. When He opened the eyes of the blind, Jesus identified Himself as the light of the world. John identifies Jesus as the light that shines into the darkness and cannot be overcome.

v.3-5.The Midianites were defeated by Gideon's small army of 300 soldiers armed with lanterns, clay pots and trumpets. In the same unexpected way, the birth of a child will bring about the end of violence and war.

v.6. When Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, (Jn.18) Pilate asked Him if He was a king. Jesus answers by saying that His Kingdom is not of this world. It is not a socio-political kingdom, but one of the heart. It is a kingdom where people's hearts are transformed and set free. It is a kingdom that has seen lives and communities impacted for nearly 2000 years as people have lived lives of love and grace in the name of Christ and have died with the name of Christ on their lips.

While on earth Jesus was the WONDERFUL COUNSELLOR who made truth, hope, love and forgiveness come alive as He taught and forgave. When He ascended into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to continue being our Counsellor.

He showed that He was more than just a good guru when He healed the sick and rose from the dead. He is the MIGHTY GOD who conquered brokeness, sin, death and Satan.

He revealed the EVERLASTING FATHER. In John 14 and 17 He made it clear that He and the Father are One and that He has revealed the Father perfectly. To a confused Philip He says: "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father."

He is the PRINCE OF PEACE. Paul puts it best: "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Not world peace (which never lasts long) but peace with God - and when we all find peace with God we will find peace with one another and peace in the world.

This beautiful prophecy is not only fulfilled, but FILLED out by Jesus. Let's worship His majesty!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

DEVMISSED 2014-04-09 [Lent2014] 10. Incarnate

As our "countdown" moves to 10 and into single digits, I thought it would be good to look at some of the Old Testament prophecies and how they are fulfilled in Jesus.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Isaiah7:14

This passage's first setting is in about 730BC when King Ahab is fearful of the power of the Assyrians and an alliance of two kings who threaten Israel.

The prophet Isaiah promises him that the "virgin" (can also mean young woman pledged to be married) will have a son who will be the sign that the two kings will be defeated and Jerusalem will be protected from the Assyrians. In the next chapter, Isaiah marries a young woman, who has a son and the prophecy is fulfilled and they recognise that God has been with them.

But many Old Testament prophecies are "double-prophecies" in the sense that they have a "dress-rehearsal" fulfilment in the short-term and the "grand finale" fulfilment in Christ. This passage from Isaiah is a prime example...

The name Immanuel (or Emmanuel) means "God with us."

The New Testament recognises this as a prophecy of the coming of Jesus. 700 years after it had had its `dress-rehearsal` in the form of Isaiah's son, the prophecy was ultimately and finally fulfilled in the birth of Jesus who was more than just a sign of God's presence with His people, but was truly God with us.

Jesus was God made flesh - God with skin. He walked the dusty streets of Palestine. He was hungry, tired, whipped and crucified. He talked, taught, touched and loved. He healed, delivered and forgave. He made God known. He made God accessible. He made God understandable.

And then, because He was really God and really human, He suffered humanity's fate, paying a debt that only God could pay.
He is Immanuel - God with us!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

DEVMISSED 2014-04-08 [Lent2014] 11.Succintly - part 3

15 "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" Mark1:15

In Mark's Gospel these are Jesus' first words. There's a lot of meaning squeezed into these three sentences. The last sentence brings us to a place of response.

The Kingdom has been brought near through the coming of Christ. His human presence in our broken existence is our evidence that no matter how dark it may be (remember Psalm 139 ?) God is with us. The kairos has come about. The time is now - now rather than tomorrow or next week! It is time for us to repent and believe the Good News.

Both of these verbs come in the imperative form, they are urgent instructions crackling with the energy of the enormity of _concept_ (the kingdom is near through Christ's incarnation) and the _occasion_ (the time has come). But what do they mean?

To repent is to turn away from something towards something new. It is to change one's ways. It is a change of focus or direction, it is a new beginning.

To believe is to put one's hope, trust and confidence in someone or something. It is to base one's existence on a set of hopes and convictions. It is to adopt a new value and meaning system.

What are they turning (repenting) towards? What are they basing their confidence (belief) on? The Good News!
But what is the Good News?
The Good News that the kingdom is emBODIED in Christ. That His Presence in our darkness is Good News. The Good News is that religion is not "pie in the sky one day when you die" but the reality of kairos (the time that has come)- hope that can pour into my life right now.

The order Jesus places these two verbs in is interesting: I would have placed belief before repentance and elsewhere in the New Testament this is the case. But I think there are times that we are so "stuck in a rut" and trapped in old patterns of thinking that we don't see things clearly. Sometimes it is only when we take the plunge of letting the old go that we can see the new clearly.

My question, at the end of all of this, is:
"Do you think this instruction is a once-off? Do you think as Christians we can say 'Been there done that?' Or are we so "stuck in the rut" of routine and sameness that we need to repent _before_ we can believe afresh? The Good News is a "Kairos" thing (not yesterday or 20 years ago when I became a Christian) it is about today. Do you need to repent and believe today? I'm pretty sure I do...

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Monday, April 7, 2014

DEVMISSED 2014-04-07 [Lent2014] 12.Succintly - part 2

(Apologies if you are only getting this now - our devlist was corrupted and some email addresses were truncated. The devs you missed are being sent...)

15 "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"

In Mark's Gospel these are Jesus' first words. There's a lot of meaning squeezed into these three sentences. We'll look at the second one today.

"The kingdom of God is near..." There is a lot that can be written about the Kingdom of God. In General Terms, the Kingdom is more than the Church - it is where God is King in the hearts of those who have placed their allegiance with Him. Whatever they do according to His Will and in His name is an extension of the Kingdom of God - the place where God is King.

In this context, however, I believe that Jesus is being quite specific. The Jews had hoped for a political kingdom. Jesus is the ultimate embodiment of the Kingdom - He did not try to grasp power from God the Father or compete with Him - He submitted to the Father's Will. It is in the absolute obedience of the Son in coming to Earth and going to the Cross that ultimately embodies the Kingdom.

Jesus was saying, "Because I am near, the Kingdom of God is near." What was once far away has now been brought near. While we could not come to Him, He came to us.

The absolute obedience and submission of Jesus to the Father is the foundation of the Kingdom of God. Jesus didn't _have_ to do the "strip off your power and glory and enter a human womb and live the limited life of humanity" thing - He did it out of love and obedience.

He brought the kingdom near simply by doing what His Father wanted.

When we submit to God, when we place Jesus in the driving seat of our lives then the Kingdom of God is near! The kingdom is in the hearts of those who let God be the King of their lives.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Saturday, April 5, 2014

DEVMISSED 2014-04-05 [Lent2014] 13.Succintly - part 1

15 "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"

In Mark's Gospel these are Jesus' first words. There's a lot of meaning squeezed into these three sentences. We'll look at the first one today.

1. The time has come: According to my dictionary, the Greek Word for time (kairos) indicates "occasion rather than extent." In other words Jesus was not saying that 33AD was a good period of history for the message to be preached (even though it was if we think about the Pax Romana (Peace of Rome), the common use of Greek worldwide and the network of roads and communication.)

What Jesus did was to bring each of His hearers face to face with the urgency of the decision that is needed. When it comes to making a decision concerning Christ, now and not tomorrow is the best time. Paul says a similar thing in 2Cor6:2 "I tell you, NOW is the time (kairos) of God's favor, now is the day of salvation."

This "occasion" comes to us as we are. So often people argue with the call of Christ on their lives: "I need to go and sort myself out first. I need to get my ducks in a row. I need to deal with this or that issue."

The other clue that the original Greek provides us is that the word used for "come" can also mean "been fulfilled" or "has been brought about." There is nothing accidental or incidental about it. When a kairos moment takes place in our lives, it is not by accident but by Divine Design!

Jesus pronouncement of the Kingdom is an occasion and not a timescale. To what extent do we "procrastinate" doing serious business with God. If you've been putting some aspect of your relationship with God on hold until a "better" time, why not sort it out now? It's Kairos!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, April 4, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-04-04 [Lent2014] 14.Examen 4: Shine on me

21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
and abhor those who rise up against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalms139:21-24

There is a discordant note in the psalm where the psalmist jumps from the admission that God knows best to this jarring section where he proclaims disdain and hatred for God's enemies.

It's an unexpected turn - especially when we remember Jesus' instruction that we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us! In order for us to understand these verses correctly, it is vital that we understand the context. In David's time a king demanded an oath of loyalty from his vassals: "With my friend you shall be friend, and with my enemy you shall be enemy."

So, if we understand vs 21-22 in the historical setting, David is offering the highest pledge of loyalty he can think of. God knows him, warts and all, pursues him, has a plan for him and David responds by giving God absolute loyalty and trust.

This trust is made crystal clear as David concludes by inviting God to shine the searchlight of His Holy Love into his life.
"Search me,
know me,
test me,
lead me."

This is the powerful conclusion of the process of Examen. It is not a navel-gazing or wallow-in-my-guilt process. Good Examen is to take a good long and hard look at ourselves with the Ultimate Reality Check:
1. We can't fool God. In spite of appearances we put on, He knows us!
2. We can't hide away from God, we can flee for a while, but He finds us!
3. We might have some schemes and plans, but He knows best.
4. We have to open our hearts to Him.

A helpful analogy: If God is light then we are like a camera. If we open the shutters of our heart, His light will shine in and leave His image in us.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, April 3, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-04-03 [Lent2014] 15.Examen 3: God knows best

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be. Psalms139:13-16

The next portion of Psalm 139 reminds us that we are personally and intimately created by God. He _knits_ and _weaves_ the double-helix of our DNA and the fibres of our muscles. He forms our natures and personalities in a secret place (indicating the devotion and intimacy He brings to the task). He has a future and a plan in mind for us that is just waiting for us to grab hold of.

On this third day of our Examen let us reflect on this incredible truth: God designed us. He knows what makes us tick. He designed us with a purpose in mind. We are His inventions and as with all inventions, the best way to use an invented object correctly is to ask the Inventor!

But we don't! The Psalmist has had to come to grips with being known intimately and pursued with relentless love before he finally comes to admit that God may very well know what is best.

Very often I think I know what is best. I think that I can make my decisions and guide my life. I draw up pros and cons lists and I justify my decisions. Other times I let my opinion be formed by society: "Everyone does it," or "You've earned it," or "It's your right."

The psalm reminds us that we are not accidents or assembly-line products. We are intimately, personally and uniquely made. And our Maker knows what is best for us in the long run.

So here's the Lent challenge:
When last have you admitted that "God knows best" and been willing to submit to Him and ask for His guidance. Or are your goals, ambitions and the direction your life is taking dictated by your own will or the opinions of society?

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-04-02 [Lent2014] 16.Examen 2: Pursued

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. Psalms139:7-12

The fact that God knows us so intimately can cause us to want to flee. We are acutely aware of our sinfulness and of His holiness. Like Adam and Eve in the garden we tend to hide when He comes walking and calling.

The Psalmist is almost exasperated: "Why won't He leave me alone? Why can't I just sink into my darkness - why does He follow me when I try to escape His holy presence?"

The answer is simple: Only God can turn our darkness into light - only He can fix us. We can't "go and sort ourselves out" and come back to God when we've got everything on track. When we run, it just gets worse and worse.

So God pursues us. He sends His messengers and His reminders. He surrounds us with signs and symbols of His love and presence. We feel pursued and harassed by God and at times even rebellious. But He is there so that even in our rebellion we don't have to destroy ourselves.

What would make Him do this? Why would He keep coming after us? Why, when again and again I run and I hide?

The story of the prophet Hosea illustrates this powerfully: Hosea was instructed to marry and love an adulterous woman. Again and again she would run off after other men. He would pursue her and find her in whatever mess she landed up in - and he would rescue her and love her. Why would he keep going after her??? - Because that's what love does!

God will not leave us be. He will pursue us wherever we go - into pleasure or darkness, into distraction or rebellion - He will seek us.

And His desire is to turn our darkness into His light.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-04-01 [Lent2014] 17.Examen 1: Known

The next few devs date back to a series I wrote years ago...
1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar. Psalms139:1-2

In the more meditative strands of our Christian traditions we find practices of self-examination, confession and the resolve to change. The church fathers called this kind of prayer the "Prayer of Examen."

During the time of Lent some attention should be paid to this significant practice. Particularly in our Presbyterian-Reformed traditions we are cagey about too much emphasis on confession because we fear falling back into "old, cold, rote-repetition."

Psalm 139 is a very valuable guide through this important discipline of examen. The significant starting point of the psalm is that God knows us deeply and intimately. Our confessions are not going to surprise or shock God. He knows us. He has seen our failures, He has heard our angry thoughts, and He has felt the chill of our jealous emotions.

He knows when we've tried to get it right and yet have failed. He also knows when we didn't care a hoot even though we knew it was wrong. He's seen us being dragged and pushed over the edge and He's also agonised as we've charged into the darklands with callous indifference. He has watched us strain out the gnats and yet swallow camels. God has seen us at our very best and He has seen us our very worst.

And still He loves us!
Still He would work with us!
Repeatedly He will let us try again!

When we begin this journey of self-examination we do it with the incredible hope that even if we are shocked at and don't like what we find when we examine ourselves, God knows.
And God loves...
And God still sent His Son!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at