Reimagining Good Friday: Why Would Anyone Want to Kill Jesus?

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If you stepped into a room full of Christians, skeptics, and atheists and asked, “Who likes Jesus?” there’s a good chance almost every hand would go up. Even those who deny the divinity of Jesus think he was pretty swell.

Taking things a step further, if you walked into the same room and asked, “Who wants to kill Jesus?” I doubt a single hand would go up.

Ignore Jesus? Sure. Plenty of people do that today. But actually plotting to kill a guy who healed lame people, fed the multitudes, and elevated the social standing of women?

Not cool.

In fact, I would argue that the reasons for the conspiracy behind the execution of Jesus are a bit of a mystery for modern readers. Do we fully grasp the reasons why a bunch of people, who really wanted God to show up, would murder God when he actually did show up as promised?

cross Good Friday Jesus

It’s a mystery of sorts, and we have to step back into their world, kicking our imaginations into high gear.

Read the rest at my other blog:  www.edcyzewski.com. 

Becoming a Community That Takes the Right Kinds of Risks

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I have been making a mistake for years. You’ve most likely been making the same mistake for years.

 

I finally got some much-needed perspective at the Festival of Faith and Writing last week.

I forget that the tiny slices of people that we find online can’t possibly stand in for the whole person. Everyone I’ve met through Facebook or Twitter and then met with in real life is far more fascinating, complex, and wonderful when we meet up in real life. I have made the mistake of “fearing” these in-person meet ups because I fear we won’t get along or, most likely, they won’t think all that much of me.

Getting to the point of meeting up with online friends requires some risks. We have to risk those awkward first moments when we shake hands or give a side hug. We have to break the ice (which some of us are better at than others).

We have to risk a conversation where we may find out that we don’t have anything in common.

We have to risk a conversation knowing that the other person, someone we may admire, could find our interests and passions boring or insignificant.

We have to overcome these fears in order to make the most of our relationships. However, every time I reached out to someone I even vaguely knew online, I was delighted to learn more about their stories. Even more so, I was energized by their dreams and goals. I wanted to help them.

In the world of writing, this can be a tricky matter. I want to help writers with worthy stories, but I also want to give them a list of caveats. I want to show them the hope/discouragement graph from my Examine app.

“See all of those low points from the past two months? Those are from my book releases.”

It’s my “secret” mission to help writers when I can. I want to push them to sit down and write, to explore the tough points of their lives, and to develop those ideas into book proposals when appropriate.

I want to warn writers that they are leaping off a cliff and the landing may not go well.

As honest as I want to be about the pain and fear that comes with both writing and marketing a book, there’s so much more to talk about if time permits at a conference.

I’ve fallen on my face several times. I’ve crashed off that cliff. I’ve received really painful emails. I’ve questioned whether I should keep writing more times than I should admit publicly.

And yet, I wake up, and get an itch to write about something. Before I realize what has happened, I’ve filled an entire page and exposed a liberating truth about myself. I start to wonder if it may help someone else…

Perhaps it’s an addiction. Maybe it’s a fatal flaw. Maybe it’s the only way I can keep myself sane or at least truly “know” something. I need to jot down notes, outline, scratch out the inane, and scribble, scribble, scribble until some kind of direction takes shape on my page. 

It’s like I need to draw an arrow for myself, but I need to experiment with wiggling lines and unruly circles first.

Everything with writing and relationships is risky. But we can’t tap into the beauty of our relationships or our writing without taking risks. Mind you, let’s take the right risks. Let’s explore our writing, let’s ask the “what if” questions, and let’s jump on opportunities to meet our “online friends” in real life when appropriate.

To that end of taking risks and reaching out to each other, I have an idea I’d like to share with you.

Lent is almost over. A new season of the Christian year begins next Monday. Perhaps you’ve been fasting. Perhaps you’ve been just hanging on by a thread. Wherever you are, I wonder if you need to take some risks along with me into this world of writing and relationships.

What if we all made a commitment to spend at least one morning or at most five each week getting up to write at least one page around 6 am? The rules aren’t ironclad. Maybe that’s a notebook page. Maybe that’s a Word doc with tiny font. Maybe that’s an index card or it’s a Note app on your smart phone. And maybe you won’t start until 6:15 am. Maybe you need to start at 5:30 am.

If you know me, you know I’m not one for rules and precision. Just get a page done each morning around 6 am. And when you do it, mention it on Twitter or take a picture on Instagram to let us know what you’re up to. I’ll try to do the same.

Use the hashtags: #6am #1page.

Maybe we’ll find the courage and encouragement we need if we know that others are trying this out. This is something I’ve done for a season after our son was born, but I’ve started staying up later and sleeping in. Hearing Anne Lamott talk about getting your butt in the chair, especially before your kids wake up and the day begins, has left me wistful for those days of early morning writing. And wouldn’t it be better if we could all do it together?

We’ll give it a shot this year, starting Monday, April 21st. If you want to join me or just write whenever your schedule permits (even one day a week), let me know in the comments or drop me a like on Twitter at @edcyzewski and mention the hastags: #6am #1page.

The Stations of the Cross: Jesus Before Pilate

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My friend Emily Miller has put together a great series of blog posts walking through the stations of the cross through a series of posts meditating on each one. Today I’m writing about the story of Jesus before Pilate, but be sure to follow along with the rest of the posts

The story of Jesus and Pilate has long frustrated me.

Pilate stood in judgment over Jesus, the author of life, the Word of God and the Son of God. How in the world could God incarnate let a mere man judge him, let alone win? Why would Jesus submit to the trumped-up charges and injustice brought against him?

Pilate, wearing his fine robes, stood before a bloodied Jesus with the military might of Rome behind him, seemingly invincible and all-powerful. However, the mere snap of the finger by Jesus could have brought him and his legions to the ground, stone cold dead.

Why hold back his power? Why let Rome and the corrupt religious leaders win?

Read the Rest at Emily Miller’s Blog

Why I Don’t Want Anyone’s Magisterium: My Deeper Story Post

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I’m posting at A Deeper Church today about my struggles with the authority structures churches, from Catholics to Baptists: 

There are parts of me that will always be Catholic. The way I dress, for instance, is little more than a holdover from my days at a Catholic prep school.

Back in Catholic school we could wear pants that were any shade of khaki we liked, which would have been suffocating fascism for some. For me, it was the greatest thing ever. Today I just swap different plaid shirts with the same exact kind of jeans piled in my drawer.

However, I also can’t get far enough away from powerful, man-made authority structures, such as the Catholic Church’s magisterium.

In a sense, it was inevitable. I’m a freewheeling, imaginative, creative type. I don’t do precision, and I don’t follow chains of command or the “because I said so” reasoning that every authority structure from the military to the Catholic Church relies on. I had my first confrontation with Catholic authority before I even reached high school.

Read the rest at A Deeper Church

It’s Time to Cancel the Rapture: My Guest Post for Zach Hoag

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I’m guest posting for Zach Hoag, my church planting friend in the greatest state of them all… Vermont. He’s helping me spread the good news about Revelation.

I know that Nicholas Cage is “starring” in a summer blockbuster that relies on an inevitable and immanent rapture to scare viewers into theaters, but I’m afraid this little end times ruse needs to stop. It’s time to cancel the rapture.

Really. We’ve milked this biblically suspect, historically bankrupt, literary abomination of a doctrine long enough.

Did we really need a remake of the first Left Behind movie in the first place? Did we even need the first Left Behind movie after the books?

If an action movie relies on any measure of suspense, that’s already gone any way.

RAPTURE MOVIE News flash: people will disappear, stuff will blow up, news reporters will look confused, everyone will get the mark of the beast, and then more stuff blows up. THE END.

And while Christian culture is still gobbling up the latest end times speculation like Four Blood Moons and Perfect Ending, the vast majority of biblical scholars have left the rapture, well, behind. It’s time for the rest of us to do the same before they make the sequel or prequel to the latest Left Behind movie. If anything let’s do this for the sake of Nicholas Cage and the long-neglected American Treasure franchise. It’s what the founding fathers would have wanted.

Here are three even better reasons why the rapture needs to be cancelled:

Read the rest at my guest post for Zach Hoag…

Asking Myself Tough Questions: My Post for Moving Beyond Mediocrity at the High Calling

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I’m writing over at The High Calling Today about a life-changing anxiety attack that led to an important lesson for my career as a writer. Here’s a preview…

Gasping for air, I told my wife, “We need to go to the emergency room.”

On our way to the hospital my breathing became heavy and labored. My chest didn’t feel tight, but it also didn’t feel right. My family has a history of heart disease. I wasn’t physically active at the time. I expected the worst.

Looking back, it’s not like I was drafting an outline as we sped toward the hospital that day. But as a writer, I would have thought that I could at least pull a long magazine article out of a trip to the emergency room and subsequent months of intensive medical testing, maybe even base a book on the experience. But my failure to do so provided an important lesson about my work as a writer and about life in general.

Read the rest at the High Calling.