The Beginning After the End

So wait, the tomb is empty?
What does this mean?
What does it mean for me?

Somehow, You did not lose.
You defeated death, so
It’s not the end after all?
And even when the news tells us
That evil is winning,
It’s really not?

My hope is back—You
Carried away my sin,
Dumped it at the gates of hell—and
Came back lugging my hope
On Your shoulders.

Joy buoys me to weightlessness.
No problem can chain me
To hell’s surly bonds,
No matter how big I think it is.
No habits, no behaviors,
Can keep me from You,
From Your love.

This still makes no sense to me,
But who cares?
Good news is good news,
No matter how sensible it is.

If You’re on my side,
Who can stand against me?
New life, new beginning,
I am free—
Humbled and grateful
And oh so free.

David K. Carpenter
April 17, 2022 – Resurrection Sunday
Copyright © 2022 by David K. Carpenter, All rights reserved

In the power of Jesus’ mighty Name, I pray that we all live into the freedom He bought for us with His blood. Let us all go shine His light into the darkness. Christ is risen, so let’s live like it! God bless you!

— Dave
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The End

When you said, “It is finished,”
What did you mean?

Were you referring to
Our hope?
You were supposed to
Be the one who wiped out evil,
But it sure looks like
Evil won.

Our sin?
It makes no sense how
You dying
Accomplishes that.

Or were you
Just talking about 
Your life?
I don’t understand
That, either—
God’s not supposed
To die.

Good Friday doesn’t seem
To be going so well.
We lost. You died.
And death is the end
Of everything.

Isn’t it?

David K. Carpenter
April 15, 2022
Copyright © 2022 by David K. Carpenter, All rights reserved
New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO
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Drinking to Remember

I crawl to your table.
“Bread of Life” means something 
Different now, something new,
Disturbing. Why?
Why would you do this
For me
Before I knew you or
After you knew me?

I haven’t done as much
For you as I should.
I want to,
Need to,
Feel like I’ve done something—
Worthy of your bread:
Lived the right way,
Said the right things,
Loved my neighbor who
Complains about everything, 
Prayed for people I don’t even like,
But I can’t.
Even if I could, I can’t,
Because there is no “worthy”,
There is no earning
Your bread.

Grace would be
So much easier to accept
If it weren’t free.
Free for me, anyway—
I know it cost you

I glance your way,
Can’t really even
Look you in the eye.
I don’t deserve any of this.
Now you want to
Give me some wine.
You pour it out for me and
I can barely take it.
I’m sure it’s the
Good stuff, 

Most people drink
To forget, but you
Told me to drink 
To remember.
And so, I do,
To remember you.

David K. Carpenter
April 14, 2022
Copyright © 2022 by David K. Carpenter, All rights reserved.
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash
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Don’t You Care?

“I’ve got real problems, Jesus,”
I mutter—perfunctory prayer—
Little more than a complaint, really.
“Don’t You get it?
Don’t You Care?”

He sighs, not impatient, more like,
Don’t you get it?

He shows me an angry mob 
Storming Gethsemane to arrest him. 
Peter—a fisherman with a sword—
Cuts off one of their ears.
Jesus gives Peter the same look.
Jesus knows what’s coming, but
He isn’t angry nor afraid.
Wait, what? With love in his eyes—
How could he love a guy like that?—
He touches the wounded guy’s ear and
He is renewed, restored, healed.
And that’s when the guy starts weeping.

He takes me to Skull Hill,
As chilling as its name.
Roman soldiers, laughing, mocking,
Pound spikes through his hands and feet,
Fastening him to the cross.
Just another day’s work for them.
Gritting through excruciating pain,
He asks God to forgive them, since
They don’t know what they’re doing—
And to forgive me, since
I don’t know what I’m doing.

We skip ahead a few hours.
One of the thieves being crucified 
Next to him asks Jesus to remember him
When he gets to his kingdom. 
I guess the guy can’t see that
Jesus can barely breathe.
I open my mouth to tell the guy off,
To defend Jesus, but before I can,
Jesus tells him, through labored breaths, 
That today they’ll be together in paradise.

Then I’m back,
In the midst of my
Prayer of discontent, 
Like I never left.
Jesus interrupts me, 
Whispering with labored breaths,
“How can you not know
How much I care?”

David K. Carpenter
Copyright © 2022 by David K. Carpenter, All rights reserved
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What’s Today in Holy Week Speak?

Over the years, we have given names to some of the days in Holy Week: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, culminating in Easter–which is technically what comes next, a new week all its own. And a new way of living. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, I’ve been wondering what Jesus was doing all the other days this week and why they didn’t get special names. Could it be he wasn’t doing anything significant on Tuesday? I really doubt that, so I thought I’d propose some possible names for the Tuesday of Holy Week, sort of like Taco Tuesday, which sounds delicious but doesn’t quite have the eternal impact of the other days’ names.

How about “Jesus tells the religious people to stop being religious and focus on their relationship with God instead” Tuesday? Possible, but not very catchy.

“Jesus prepares his friends for the road ahead” Tuesday?

“Jesus shows up for us even when we don’t know it” Tuesday?

“Jesus never leaves us” Tuesday?

“Jesus, why aren’t you healing my friend” Tuesday?

“God’s ways are beyond my ways” Tuesday?

“Jesus, I need you” Tuesday?

Hmm, I guess I’m not very good at slogans or day naming. But I hope you get the point anyway…

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Last Supper, First Supper

Faithful disciples, twelve minus one,
Ate with their Savior before He was gone.
Then bread was broken, His Spirit set free:
“Do this whenever you eat it, remembering me.
Hear these words now, for soon we will part.”
Then Jesus said, with me on His heart,
“I give you my blood so you’ll never thirst,”
And thus the Last Supper became my first.

David K. Carpenter
(Revised) April 11, 2022
Copyright © 2022 by David K. Carpenter, all rights reserved
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Holy Week Starts with a Celebration

This first day of Holy Week is called Palm Sunday because the people of Jerusalem were so excited about Jesus’s arrival that they waved palm branches to celebrate the arrival of their King. “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they called. People laid their cloaks across the road to honor him. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21:8-9 (NIV))

What a celebration! The whole city is partying!

How ironically tragic that it took only five days for the tone to change so drastically.

But, of course, it is no less ironically tragic for me that sometimes after even fewer days–sadly, sometimes only hours–after a mountaintop experience, a sacred encounter with my loving God, I can fall away for seemingly the dumbest of reasons.

And that’s why this week had to go the way it went.

That may not have been why the people of Jerusalem were celebrating, but it is what motivates my gratitude. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

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More Good News from Paul – Who Can Stand Against Us?

And not just that it’s from Paul, but more specifically, this additional bit of great news also comes from the eighth chapter of his letter to the Romans (like the last 2 episodes):

Borrowed from YouVersion

Sometimes, maybe oftentimes, life is hard. It can seem like “the world” is against us, even though most of the world doesn’t even know us. Maybe it’s a friend or group of friends. Or lack of a friend. Maybe it’s that work or school is overwhelming. It could be that physical or mental health issues have you down. Financial troubles. Marriage or family problems.

I could go on and on, and so could you, most likely. But who wants to ponder such things?

That’s why these words from Paul can be so encouraging. Which of these challenges I listed, or those you added to the list, are so big that God cannot handle them?

We might be tempted, especially when feeling sorry for ourselves, to think God doesn’t care about us or our problems, or that He doesn’t understand them. But that’s simply not true. Maybe one of the reasons Jesus came down from his throne in heaven for a time to live on this planet with us was to show us that God cares about our human problems and will help us get through them. Jesus either experienced all of these issues himself, or encountered people who were dealing with them.

A friend or group of friends turning against you? At the worst time in his life, most of Jesus’s friends deserted him because they were afraid. Peter, one of his closest friends, claimed he didn’t even know Jesus. Three times. Another of his friends betrayed him for a few coins–a betrayal that led to his execution. Don’t think for a moment that God doesn’t understand the pain of broken friendships. And where did Jesus turn in those troubling moments? To God.

Jesus faced overwhelming work, also. He knew he had only three years to undo millennia of human brokenness, which had been chipping away at God’s intentions for His relationship with humanity. We had traded the grace and peace of walking in the garden with God for hundreds of man-made rules that led people to believe they could earn a place in heaven if they just checked off all the right boxes. Jesus was so tired from his work that he slept through a storm at sea, one that was so bad that even the experienced fishermen with him thought they were going to die. Where did Jesus find the strength and endurance to keep going in spite of his exhaustion? He spent a lot of time in prayer.

Anyway, I hope you get the point: God cares about you and your problems. He is on your side and will help you face them. And not just face them–OVERCOME them!

Just a few verses later, Paul adds these encouraging words:

Borrowed from YouVersion

How great is that? Not only will God help us not to be defeated by our problems, He will help us conquer them!

And here’s the really difficult, challenging thing you have to do to invoke His help. You have to utter these words: Help me, Jesus.

That’s it. Do that, and over time, God will help you conquer every problem life throws at you! I can’t even begin to understand why everyone is not availing themselves of this awesome, inexhaustible power!

So, what are you facing right now that you think you can’t conquer with God’s help?

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What Can Separate You From God’s Love?

Here’s the short answer: Nothing.

<End of blog>

Just kidding (much to my wife’s chagrin!). I can’t let this additional good news from Paul go without some commentary. So here’s how the Apostle Paul explained it to the Christ-followers in Rome:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Paul the Apostle, in Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

Like I did last week, let me ask rhetorically: what do you think he meant by “nor anything else in all creation”? I think he means to say that nothing can keep God from loving us.

But what about my bad behavior? My anger? My swearing?


But what about my addictions? Greed? Pride? All the other stupid things I’ve done and said?

Also no. Not even those things can come between us and God’s love for us.

But Paul didn’t know me, or else he wouldn’t have said this. God doesn’t know me and the things I’ve done.

Oh, but He does.

There’s a reason God inspired Paul to write these words. Believing he was serving God, Paul had dedicated himself to persecuting and executing Followers of Christ. After his conversion on the road to Damascus, then, he must have had many moments of self-doubt and God-doubt. He must have wondered repeatedly, How could God really love me after all that I’ve done?

It’s a fair question.

After wrestling with it over the years, God must have led Paul to this answer: There is nothing you have done or ever will do that could separate you from my love.

I can imagine Paul getting down onto his knees and weeping when he came to this realization.

God says the same thing to you and me. We should all join Paul in gratitude for this great news, for this undeserved grace.

Photo courtesy of Kurt Carpenter
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No Condemnation

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Paul the Apostle, in Romans 8:1-2
Pepperdine University, Malibu Campus

What do you suppose Paul meant by no condemnation? Do you think he meant a little condemnation? No, I think he meant NO condemnation!

Isn’t that great news? I think it is!

You could ask Mary Magdalene. Jesus had cast seven demons out of her previously (see Mark 16:9), so where she had felt nothing but condemnation until he had come along, from him she received grace. Forgiveness. Relief from her tormented life.

She was so thankful that she had been present at Jesus’s crucifixion. When most of the disciples had abandoned him in fear, she stayed with her Lord.

She was one of the first ones to arrive at the empty tomb on that first Easter Sunday. And also, according to the account in Mark 16:9, she was the first one Jesus appeared to after he had risen from the dead. Then she was the first one to report to the disciples that Jesus was no longer dead (see John 20:18). This means she was the original pastor, the first one to spread the Good News!

This was how she showed her gratitude to Jesus for freeing her from her condemnation.

How about you–how do you show Jesus how thankful you are for releasing you from your condemnation?

New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO.
Copyright (c) 2022 by David K. Carpenter Photography. All rights reserved
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