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Rev. Dr. Delesslyn A. Kennebrew, J.D., M.Div.

Visionary Strategist Faithful Innovator Inspirational Essayist

Salvation and Stilettos Blog


Unbelief? OK. God Will Use You Anyway...

Posted on May 10, 2019 at 8:07 AM Comments comments (3)

Have you ever wondered why the Lord continues to call you seemingly in spite of your personal history?  Have you ever wondered why you still have any kind of divine assignment in the Kingdom given your recent attitude, challenges, or shortcomings?  Have you ever wondered why the Lord keeps sending you out when you would have made it clear in so many ways and words that you would rather not go right now?

Friends, I think we have all had these kinds of thoughts at some point.  These thoughts are often triggered by events, conversations, or convictions that push us to wrestle with what it means to be human and a servant of the Most High.  Clearly, God must know that we are not perfect.  We do not always say the right things or do the right things.  Yet, for some reason, WE are still included in God's purpose and plan for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

I think we see a glimpse of this in our verses for today.

Finally he appeared to the eleven while they were eating. Jesus criticized their unbelief and stubbornness because they didn’t believe those who saw him after he was raised up. 15 He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to every creature." [Mark 16:14-15]

Now, let us be honest.  There are a few of us or maybe most of us reading today's post would have held the same unbelief as the disciples in the Gospel of Mark.  The disciples had walked and talked with Jesus, listened and learned from Jesus, ate and slept near Jesus and they still did not believe the witness of those who told them what Jesus had already told them would happen regarding his resurrection.  Think about it.  Resurrection was such a far fetched idea.  Surely, Jesus meant some kind of figurative, metaphoric experience when he taught them, warned them about what would happen three days after His death on the cross.  The disciples are human and resurrection did not make good sense to them.  They could not fathom their friend's coming back after such a horrific and public death.  

I get it.  Don't you? I mean, how many things has the Lord showed you about the future of your own life that made you laugh like Sarah or question like Job or run like Jonah or doubt like these disciples?  They were all humans who God blessed and used in spite of their initial and ongoing responses to the instructions or promises God declared in their lives. They also did not have the most "perfect" responses to what God spoke into their lives, much like the disciples.

Mary Magadalene told the disciples that she saw Jesus and they did not believe.
The two men walking along the road to Jerusalem told the disciples that they had also seen Jesus and they did not believe.
And then Jesus shows up.
Yep!  Jesus shows up.
The disciples were eating and probably reminiscing about their time with Jesus.  They might have even been mocking Mary Magdalene and the two men for their tales.  Clearly, their minds are playing tricks on them because they miss their friend so much.  Clearly, Jesus has not risen.  He is dead. He is buried.  He is not coming back.  I can only imagine that this is the kind of conversation that is happening as they dine.

But then something happens in the midst of their meal...

Finally he appeared to the eleven while they were eating. 

What is happening here?  Jesus, is it really you?  Wait a second!  Are you all seeing what I am seeing?  These had to be a few of the thoughts racing through the minds of the disciples when out of no where, Jesus shows up.

Friends, I have to pause because that is a blessing right there.  Jesus will show up in our lives at unexpected times and in unexpected places.  We can be sitting, having a meal with friends, and Jesus will show up.  We could have heard the testimonies of a few of our friends and still not believed but Jesus will still show up.  We could have not fully trusted the Words of the one we called "Rabbi"  meaning Teacher, and yet He will still choose to show up in our lives because in spite of our unbelief.

Now, let us all be clear, their unbelief did not go unaddressed by Jesus.

Jesus criticized their unbelief and stubbornness because they didn’t believe those who saw him after he was raised up.  [Mark 16:14]

So, just as the disciples had to be "chastised," we might also feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit because of our own unbelief.  BUT let us also be clear that our unbelief does not keep us from being used by God to expand God's Kingdom on earth.  For just after Jesus criticized the unbelief and stubbornness of the disciples, 

He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to every creature." [Mark 16:15]

Friends, this is such an act of amazing grace!  That Jesus would still love us enough in spite of our ways of betrayal, denial, doubt, and unbelief, Jesus would still choose to invite us to represent Him in the earth.  Jesus still wants to use YOU.  This is what I see here.  The people who were closest to him had some serious doubts about their friend even after hearing the testimonies of other like-minded friends, and Jesus still says - Friends, I have work for you to do.

He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to every creature." [Mark 16:15]

Friends, this is our command.  This is what we must do.

Lord forgive us for the ways we have doubted and disobeyed your words.  Help our unbelief and send us into the world.  IN JESUS NAME...

God LOVES You and I Do Too!
Blessings, Glory, and Sunshine!
Twitter: @AudraSunshine
IG: @AudraSunshine

When Resurrection Changes You

Posted on May 9, 2019 at 7:38 AM Comments comments (0)
I have to backtrack for a moment. There was a phrase, a vague description that I must go back and reflect upon.  

Here is the verse:
 After that he appeared in a different form to two of them who were walking along in the countryside. 

Here is the description within that verse that has given me pause this morning:
 After that he appeared in a different form...

Friends, what does that look like?  What kind of a different form?  How did He appear to them?
I am wondering how those men would describe Jesus appearance after His resurrection.  I wonder if he looked a little flushed or pale after having been in the grave for a few days.  I wonder how his physical body embodied the Spirit of resurrection.  How did his scars look?  Was he still walking around in grave clothes or did He have some kind of glowing white robe on?  Were his steps kind of flighty?  I wonder if he could barely keep His feet on the ground given the miracle He had just experienced.

The text only says that He appeared in a different form.  That does not give us much to go on.  But perhaps the point that we are to glean this morning is not so much the accurate details of Jesus appearance after rising from the dead.  Perhaps the point is to let us know that when the Lord raises us above the horrific and embarrassing and painful and willing to forget kind of experiences in our lives, we will appear in a different form.

I am not saying we will have any kind of superhuman qualities after we have gone through life challenges.  However, I do want to suggest that when we have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, we can emerge in a different form.  We can rise up from death like situations in our lives - divorce, bankruptcy, job loss, evictions, death of a loved one  - with a new hope, grounded faith, greater capacity to forgive, relieved, stress reduced, and filled with love and gratitude.

Friends, when we come out on the other side of the death-defying detours of our lives, we will not only feel different within, but we just might appear in a different form to those who were familiar with our pre-resurrection selves.  I think that it is OK to declare that death and resurrection changes you.  So a different appearance makes sense.  We do not have to be ashamed or embarrassed or humiliated because we have overcome.  On the contrary, we rise with gratitude that we made it through with a willingness to testify by our presence that we are still here, and look forward to life beyond resurrection for all things have become new to us!  We rise up and we are different.  Words may be inadequate to describe our appearance post-resurrection but that does not negate the fact that our lives have been forever changed and we just might appear in a different form to others...  To God be the GLORY!

God LOVES You and I Do Too!
Blessings, Glory, and Sunshine!
IG: @AudraSunshine1

Be Open to Jesus in the Ordinary

Posted on May 8, 2019 at 6:52 AM Comments comments (0)
BlogFam, did you know that there are moments in your life that God's presence will be felt in the most ordinary of activities?  You can be doing the dishes or driving to work, or eating dinner, or just walking along in the grocery store and the Spirit of the Lord will touch your heart in such a way that demands a recognition of the Spirit's presence.  You might cry.  You might start singing your favorite worship song.  You might whisper a prayer.  You might call a friend.  You might just sit and be still and know that God is God.

The presence of the Lord can show up in the most ordinary of activities.  I know we expect to see the Lord in big ways, in mind blowing, miraculous manifestations that we can clearly see, touch, hear, and feel.  That is what we like to brag, shout, and dance about and that is OK. However, I want to remind you today that the Lord is already everywhere and the Lord's presence can be intensified in the most ordinary times and places.  Friends, Be Open.

After that he appeared in a different form to two of them who were walking along in the countryside.  When they returned, they reported it to the others, but they didn’t believe them. [Mark 16:12-13]

Jesus appears while they were just walking along.  These two men probably had walked along this same road dozens of times to get home, to visit friends, to handle business, to enjoy the weather of that day.  I imagine that the day started off as any other.  They probably checked each other's availability or maybe they had a standing appointment to meet and go walking.  They were doing what they would have usually have done.  They meet and start walking and talking as usual until a third person appeared on the road with them.  

This third person was an addition to their company and conversation. While the Gospel of Mark does not explain to us the exact moment they recognized that the person who appeared to them was the resurrected Lord,  we can safely assume that it was indeed the Lord.  He appeared to Mary Magdalene first in the verses just before our verses today and then Mark indicates "He appeared in a different form" and "When they returned, they reported it to the others..."  Why would they mention some random person on the road?  There is no other reason for them to mention strangers along the way unless the stranger made some kind of impact.  In this case, the person who appeared must have been familiar and worthy of mentioning to their friends and fellow followers of Jesus.

Jesus had appeared to them in the midst of the ordinary act of walking along the countryside.  There is no indication that it was overly dramatic or that it was a spectacular moment of revelation.  It seems like the two men were walking along and a friend, who looked a little different because of what he had been through, joined them.  They walked and talked until they all arrived where they needed to be.  When the two men returned and shared that they walked and talked with Jesus, no one believed them.

I wonder if sometimes we do not believe because it is not dramatic enough.  I wonder if people are so used to drama that the presence of God in familiar spaces seems unbelievable.  They were walking along the same old road they had walked along many times before and Jesus showed up there.  BlogFam, I believe that the presence of the Lord can still show up in the most ordinary, mundane, familiar places in our own lives.  People may not believe that we met Jesus there but we know.... and we must cherish the wisdom, hope, joy, peace, and faith we gain in those moments.

Friends, I pray that you would be open to the ways the Lord will show up in the ordinary times and places of your life and that you would believe when He does the same for others.

God LOVES You and I Do Too!
Blessings, Glory, and Sunshine!
Twitter: @AudraSunshine
IG: @AudraSunshine1

Speak Up, Anyway!

Posted on May 7, 2019 at 6:06 AM Comments comments (0)
BlogFam, it is a JOY to be writing to you and in some ways, with you.  I learned many years ago that we do this Christian life in community.  So even though I am the writer of the Salvation and Stilettos blog posts, I do so with a clear understanding that my writing is part of the larger conversation about what it means to be a Jesus follower in this world.  I do not do so in isolation and I do not want to do it that way.  I hope that my writings are considered as part of the great cacophony of Christian communicators that began thousands of years ago and will continue long beyond my own passing away to join the great cloud of witnesses.  I am grateful for this gift and I am compelled to use it for the GLORY of the Almighty God!

For the last week or so I have been reading and re-reading the ending of Mark 16.  I believe that we will walk through these verses because of a few themes I see beginning with Mary Magadalene.

After Jesus rose up early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went and reported to the ones who had been with him, who were mourning and weeping.  But even after they heard the news, they didn’t believe that Jesus was alive and that Mary had seen him. [Mark 16:9-11]

As controversial as it has been in church history for women to proclaim the Gospel, this text is an obvious indication that Jesus was OK with a woman speaking on His behalf.

Jesus appeared to a woman first.  Jesus died.  Jesus was buried.  Jesus rose up early on the first day of the week, and of all the people He could have chosen to appear to first, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene.  I remember when I was in High School, I was already beginning to sense something in my own spirit about ministry.  I did not have the language of call and I dared not speak of preaching because that was not what women could do.  But my Easter part that one year was to give a monologue from the perspective of Mary Magdalene post-Resurrection.  Until this day, I remember my favorite line from that monologue because it was not how that community understood the role of women in the church.

I could not wait to give the monologue just to say that one line.  That one line made all the difference for me.  Looking back on it now, it was a subtle way for me to declare my own call to ministry.  I was so excited to say that line.  I said it with power and intention.  It needed to be heard.  Here it is:

"I was an apostle to the apostles."

Now I remember no other lines from that monologue but I remember that one.

"I was an apostle to the apostles."

And it was definitely in line with Scripture as we see here in Mark 16.

Jesus saw Mary Magdalene first.  Jesus spoke to a woman first.  A woman was the first to carry the message of Jesus Resurrection.

She went and reported to the ones who had been with him, who were mourning and weeping.  She went and did exactly what Jesus told her to do.  I cannot imagine the weight of such a joyful and controversial message.  His followers were sad and grieving, heartbroken and confused, weary and worn.  I am sure that Jesus words through Mary were not what they were expecting in the midst of their tears.  And the text says:

But even after they heard the news, they didn’t believe that Jesus was alive and that Mary had seen him.

Jesus rose.  Jesus spoke.  Jesus sent.  Mary went.  Mary spoke.  Mary was not believed.

Now how could they not believe such amazing news?  This was the message that Jesus spoke of with the disciples before his death.  He had forewarned them that He was going to die and rise again.  And now that one of Jesus followers claims that what He said was true, the disciples are doubtful and dismissive.  The disciples dd not believe Mary Magdalene, which means they did not believe Jesus.

Have you ever told your friends some really good news that they did not believe?  Why did your friends not believe you?  Maybe they thought you were joking.  Maybe they knew your past and it made it hard for them to accept your words as truth.  Maybe they were just in a bad place emotionally and could not receive your good news.  I do not know.  But I believe we have all been there... we have all had GOOD NEWS that somebody did not believe.

Friends, Mary knew the disciples.  I imagine that on her way to see them after she saw Jesus, the thought that they might not believe her probably crossed her mind.  She had spent enough time with them to have a clue about how they might receive the news.  Plus Jesus knew exactly who He chose to carry this message to the other disciples.  Jesus knew who He was appearing to and talking to and sending forth.  Jesus knew.

Just like Jesus knows YOU.  Jesus knows exactly who you are and the purpose Jesus chose YOU to proclaim the Gospel in the various ways you have been gifted and granted opportunity to do so.  Jesus knows who He is working with and Jesus knows the people He is sending you to.  I believe Jesus knows that everyone will not believe us.  But, like Mary Magdalene, we must go anyway.  We must speak up anyway!

BlogFam, Speak Up Anyway! Do not be quiet with the message God has given you to share with the world.  Do not be ashamed or afraid to share it!  Do not neglect the opportunity to share it through music, poetry, sermon, story, testimony, or your own Easter speech.  Do not get stuck on whether or not they will believe the Gospel message as shared through you.  Speak Up Anyway!

We need as many voices as possible sharing this GOOD NEWS all over the world!
So, PLEASE, Speak Up Anyway! 
And if they do not believe you..... put that in the hands of the ONE who sent you in the first place.

God LOVES You and I Do Too!
Blessings, Glory, and Sunshine!
Twitter: @AudraSunshine
IG: @AudraSunshine1