Thursday, April 30, 2015


Back around Easter I commented that I feel sorry for Judas. I was thinking about him again today, and am struck with the realization that, even though I've tried, I can't begin to imagine what he must have gone through. Obviously, he did not fully realize who Jesus was. If he'd known, how could he have turned Him over to the Sanhedrin? So, with that in mind, what in the world happened to Judas in the time between when he kissed Jesus on the cheek in the Garden and when he tried to return the 30 pieces of silver to the Sanhedrin? 

When did he realize "I've made a grave mistake"?

It is easy to be harsh in my judgment of Judas. It is easy for me to think, "How in the WORLD could he NOT know that Jesus was the Messiah?" I mean really, Judas walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, was there when Jesus performed miracles, heard Jesus teach. Oh my Goodness! How could he NOT know???? I don't know the answer to that question. But I do know this...

I owe Judas a great debt.

Judas shows me what my future would be like without Christ.

Once Jesus is handed over to Pilate, Judas tells the Sanhedrin that he was wrong. You can read about it here. Judas offers to return the 30 pieces of silver, saying "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood".  Scripture says that Judas was "full of remorse". Wow. Just wow. I can't even begin to understand the hopelessness Judas must have felt when the Chief priests and elders dismissed him.

Or can I?

I didn't turn Jesus over to be crucified, but I have done things that cannot be undone. I have done things that cannot be made right. I remember sitting in my friend Tom Sikes' office years ago, hearing him say, "Don't you believe that, through Jesus, God forgives you?", and wondering if Jesus's death and resurrection could really pay for all the wrong I'd done. I remember the hope I felt in the possibility that I could be forgiven for the life I'd led up to that point.

Judas had no such hope.

Judas could not seek forgiveness from Christ. He, like me, tried to "fix" things, to undo the wrong he'd done and he, like me, failed miserably. He could not have gotten to Christ if he'd tried at that point in the story. I wonder, IF Judas could have gotten through the crowd and the guards; if he could have somehow gotten in  to see Jesus one more time, to tell Jesus how sorry he was, how wrong he'd been... to  ask Jesus to forgive him, what would the result have been? I believe with all my heart that Jesus would have forgiven Judas, just as He has forgiven all who believe and trust Him. Judas didn't know that was an option. Perhaps Judas still didn't realize the magnitude of Jesus' power...

Whatever possibilities I come up with to ponder, the fact of the matter is that just like Judas, I have no hope without Jesus.

None of us do.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Twilight .... Bella's Choice

In a previous post I mentioned that one of the things I took away from the Twilight series was that Bella was willing to give up her soul to be with Edward. This created an issue for me. It made me quite uncomfortable and was almost enough to make me put the book down. "Garbage in = garbage out" and all that stuff.... but I didn't put the book down and I really did enjoy the read. Even so, I do want to work through the whole issue of Bella choosing Edward over "Heaven", because it really bothers me.
I'm not sure that Ms. Myer actually used the word "Heaven" in her writing. Maybe it was implied. At any rate, it was made clear that Bella did not want any part of anything here or in the here-after if Edward wasn't there. (gasp) Initially, the "good preacher wife" in me was aghast by the very idea that someone would put this in print and even more so that so many Christians don't seem to be phased by it in the least. I was surprised that this option was so easily accepted.
But, after I thought about it, I'm really not surprised at all.
I'm not surprised, because I have often wondered if people...good, church-going, hanging out with the preacher kinda people...really want Heaven.
I say this because of the hundreds of times people have told me what they are looking forward to in Heaven....
"I cant wait to get to Heaven so that I can see Mom again."
"I cant wait to get to Heaven so I can fish for eternity."
"He's playin golf in Heaven"
"I bet she's up there playing the piano in heaven"
I can count on one hand the number of people whose FIRST reaction to the topic of heaven is to tell me that they can't wait to see Jesus...and I might still have a finger or two left over.
So I have to wonder...Is Heaven in and of itself really what people want? If they don't get to see that loved one, if they don't get to fish or play golf, if Heaven REALLY does revolve around God and all we do there is PRAISE HIM....would they still choose it? Scripture says that it is all about God. Everything in Heaven worships God....constantly...for eternity. On any given Sunday many people choose to fish, play golf,  hunt, work in the yard, relax, spend time with friends or family, or to take their kids to a competition or practice, be it  dance, soccer, baseball, cheer, gymnastics, band, etc. instead of choosing to participate in corporate worship. This makes me wonder, if they place so much value on these activities that they take the place of corporate worship now, will they be disappointed if they don't have these options in Heaven...if corporate worship is all there is?
I know that the absolute number one thing I am looking forward to when I get to Heaven is seeing Jesus. I PRAY that He tells me "well done". To finally be in the presence of the one I've lived my life for will be far more wonderful than anything else I could imagine! Granted, I like to think of seeing my Great Nan again. I've even entertained the thought, "I hope she is proud of who I've become". Then I remember where I believe she is and I smile and shake my head, knowing that I am the FARTHEST thing from her mind...because I do believe that she is in the presence of GOD ALMIGHTY and I believe that there is nothing going on with her other than worshipping Him.
I wonder how many people choose Heaven by default. They don't want Hell, therefore, they choose Heaven. If their idea of  Heaven revolves around of visiting with loved ones and doing all the fun things they enjoy here in this life, I can't help but wonder...
If choosing Heaven meant giving up the things they love now, would they still choose it?
And if not,
Is that choice any less horrifying than "Bella's"?
It breaks my heart.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Reading the Bible

Just the other day, a friend reminded me how difficult it can be for someone to read and understand the Bible. I forget how easy it is for me to ask the hubs to explain what I don't understand. Being married to the preacher has its advantages. I forget how overwhelming Scripture was to me when I was a new Christian. Even now, God's word can leave me puzzled. There are a few things I have learned over time that have helped me to not get all hung up when I am reading God's word.
  1. The Bible is not all about me. It is totally in my nature to think that everything is about me. I have to remind myself that the Bible is all about GOD. God's Word is His revelation of Himself to us. Instead of reading Scripture and only looking for what it is telling ME to do or not do, I need to first look at what God is revealing about Himself.
  2. The Bible is the infallible Word of God. Every word is true. I have a choice. I can get all hung up in "well, PEOPLE translated the Bible, so there are bound to be mistakes" or I can TRUST that God is God and He has complete control over His Word. I choose to trust that God is in control of everything, including the translating of His Word.
  3. The Bible is a complete book and each part of it needs to be taken in context with the rest of it. Taking one verse out of Scripture is dangerous. Each verse is dependent on the context of the verses around it. While there are absolutely verses there that we can claim in moments of need or in times of praise, we can't pick and choose a few verses to base our faith on.
  4. There are some things that I won't understand this side of Heaven. I have to remind myself that God's ways are not my ways. I don't know how the earth was populated from just Adam and Eve. I don't know what happened to Eden and the Tree. I don't know why God turned Lot's wife into a pillar of Salt rather than a pillar of marble or a ball of fire. I don't know how all the animals stayed alive on the arc. The list goes on and on. While I don't understand lots of things in the Bible, I trust God. I trust that HE will give me insight where I need it. I trust that HE will reveal what I need to know. I trust that FAITH will take care of the rest.
Don't make it more complicated than it already is. Each time I read God's Word, He reveals something new to me. For example, the first time I read the story of Noah, I understood that God flooded the world, saved Noah, and put a rainbow in the sky to remind us that He won't do that again. The next time I read about Noah, I was amazed that Noah was the only Man God found worthy of keeping alive, and I wondered what it must have smelled like on the Ark. Later, I read Noah and was amazed by the level of faith he showed by building the ark when there appeared to be absolutely no reason for it. Still later I wondered what the big deal was with Ham that Noah cursed Canaan. Still later, I was shocked to realize that all the "bad guys" in the Old Testament came from Canaan and that curse (Ninevah, Sodom and Gomorrah, and a bunch of the "ites" that God's people fight with all through the Bible).  My point is's a process. Don't make it more complicated than it already is. I don't have to try to understand everything the first time through. AND there are lots of things that are made clear later on in the Bible.
I mentioned Monday that I'd keep ya posted on how my Bible Reading goes. Honestly, I thought I'd be able to read through the Bible the same as I do Fiction. I thought that I SHOULD be able to breeze through it as quickly. I've learned that's not the case at all. God's Word demands meditation. There are things that I read every day that cause me to pause and contemplate what God is revealing about Himself and His relationship with Man in that part His Word.
One thing I know for sure, the Bible is a Story about God and HIS relationship with us.
It's all about Him.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Twilight ... Hunger and Thirst

As  I've said before, I love to read.  I like all sorts of stories, be they fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, romance, long as they are well written. I love to get lost in a good story. I'll be mentioning Twilight a good bit, but that's just because that is the last thing I read. I read all 4 of those in 9 days, but I read others like Divergent and Hunger Games in a week as well.

I was terribly convicted as I patted myself on the back for completing almost 2500 pages of Twilight in such a short time. Almost immediately I was pressed with the fact that I consider it a challenge to read my Bible in a year, but I can read most any other book in a matter of days. I am embarrassed and ashamed by what this says about what I hunger and thirst for. 

I know all the arguments...
The Bible has more words on a page.
You are supposed to meditate on God's Word.
Scripture isn't intended to be rushed through.
Whatever...the bottom line is that God's word does not appeal to my flesh like a fictional story does.

Fiction draws me in. A well written romance can create longing in my heart. A well written mystery can keep me on edge. I can get lost in the fantasy world of Hobbits, wizards, trolls, dwarves, elves... even vampires and shape shifters. All these speak to my flesh. Even if I see spiritual application...they primarily speak to my flesh initially.

The truth hurts. Satan is sooooo gifted at distracting me with all sorts of beautiful shiny (worthless) things.

In contrast, the Bible speaks to my spirit. I know that my greatest weapon against Satan is time in God's Word and prayer. I know that nothing feeds my spirit and makes me whole like time in God's Word. I know that it is good for me in more ways than I even realize.
So how do I make peace with all this? I promised myself that I would start reading the Bible as soon as I finished Breaking Dawn. Not only that; I promised myself that I would put forth as much effort into completing it as I have put into completing the other books I've read lately. So I'm taking my Bible everywhere I go. Reading every chance I get. At lunch. Waiting for the kids. Before I go to sleep. While everyone else is watching TV.
I'm pretty pumped about it. There are books that I've not Nahum, Zephaniah, Amos, Philemon, and Joel. I wonder what has been hidden from me because I have not taken the time to delve into them before now!
I'm wondering if God will reward my effort. I'm wondering if the journey itself will create a hunger and thirst in my heart for more of His Word. I'm interested to see how it turns out.
I'll let ya know.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Forgiven Much = Loves Much

I closed a post last week with John 3:17, and the thought "We still have a lot of work to do."

As soon as I read it, I was convicted.

 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:17

We do still have a lot of work to do. Originally, I was thinking "We have a lot of work to do" because I was reminded that there are many who do not know and acknowledge Christ as Lord, but I am also convicted that we have a lot of work to do within the Christian Community.

If anyone could have condemned the "world", it was Jesus Christ, yet He came to save. In Scripture, He did not condemn and criticize the "world" - those who did not know Him, but time and time again He told the Church Leaders how wrong they were. I am almost certain that, if He were to visit us in the flesh again today, His reaction would be much the same.

Rather than be thankful for the opportunity to touch people who do not regularly attend church, we condemn them for only coming on Christmas and Easter. There is even a name given for those who only attend on these holidays...


What must Christ think of this arrogance? What must He think of our self proclaimed piety? Does it break His heart? Does it anger Him?

Christ's life begs us to love the unlovable, the lost, the wounded, the broken, and the weak and weary. Christ's death begs us to share the Gospel with ALL who will hear it.
Christ's resurrection assures us that HE is powerful enough to save all.
Even if they choose Easter Sunday to come to church for the first time.

So then, rather than condemn  and criticize those who do not meet our expectation of what Christ wants, we are wise to go back to God's Word and see what Jesus Himself says about all this. I am ashamed that I have ever thought myself better than another simply because I go to church more often than they. God's word reminds me that His ways are not mine, He looks at my heart, not my church attendance, to determine my Spiritual growth.

Christ's life, death, and resurrection demands one thing of love those He places in our path. Whether that person be a long time church member who never misses a service or a first time visitor who chose Easter as a good time to try Church, Jesus tells us to love them. There is no room for judgment and condemnation in the heart of a Christian.

Who am I to think that I am any more worthy of  His grace and mercy than you?

After all, Jesus did not condemn me. He took me just as I was, broken and lost and searching for a reason to live. He scooped me up, brushed me off, and radically changed everything in me. I want that for you, whomever you are and where ever you are.

I KNOW the sin in my life that Jesus died for. I remember who I was before Christ. I know the change Jesus made in my heart. I know that I would be completely hopeless, wandering, and worthless without Him.

Jesus addresses This very thing when the "church leaders" condemn the woman who anoints His feet. You can read the story here.

Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that's why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little. Luke 7:47

Monday, April 13, 2015

Twilight ... Imagry

I am an avid reader and I thoroughly enjoy a well written book. When a story is well written, the words disappear and only the story remains, and, whether or not you are a fan of  shape shifters and "sparkly vampires",  Twilight is still a well written story. I read all 4 books in 9 days and would have finished quicker than that if I could have sent my family out of town- ha-ha.
As I read the books, there were a multitude of things that stood out to me that I could post about, like how refreshing Edward's morals were with respect to intimacy or how we are drawn to stories like Twilight because the love story is so unrealistic, but I was ultimately most struck by the imagery during the battle at the end of Breaking Dawn.  I was touched by all the people who came to the Cullen's aid. I was equally drawn to the dark image of the Volturi and I wonder, if we could see Satan's minions, if their presence would be similar. Are Satan and his followers sure of victory when they face me? Are they arrogant in their attack? Are they calm and confident while I struggle to gather myself and brace for their attack? Those are thoughts for another post. Today, I am thinking about the similarities between the ways the Volturi's attack and Satan's.

The Volturi attacked the mind first, causing pain, delusions, confusion, blindness, and disorientation. One had a power that would cause her opponents to turn from their alliances and be drawn to the Volturi. Satan too attacks the mind. He causes us anguish through fear, worry, anxiety, frustration, unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, etc. Satan separates young, weak, or hurting believers from the Church body and draws them to himself. He causes delusions...we don't see things clearly. He confuses us and makes us blind to the truth of God's Word AND to the evil-ness of his plans. Need an example? See Genesis 3:4-5
 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
 We know all this and I've written about it on more than one occasion. What struck me in Breaking Dawn was the IMAGRY of the attack. Bella learns to project her protective shield and is thus able to protect all those she loves from the attacks of the Volturi. She puts up her shield and says that she can "feel Jane's fiery darts" hitting the shield. First tentatively. Then, when Jane realizes that her mind games are not working, Bella feels a full on assault against her shield. Then, when Alec begins his attack, Bella sees it like a mist or a fog creeping around and over her shield, looking for a break, a weak spot to seep through.

Oh MY goodness! I so see Satan attacking just like this! Sometimes I feel him shooting darts at me, unrelenting and forceful. Other times, it is as if he is creeping around, waiting, watching, looking for a weak moment to slip in. I also have a shield of protection (one better than Bella's). Ephesians 6:16 says

 take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

How about that?

Like I said, this is really nothing new. I just really, really like the imagery. (You don't get it in the movie, you have to read the book.) I have experienced Satan's fiery darts and felt him slip into my mind like a fog.

There are other things that I took away from Twilight, Like how Bella was willing to give up her soul to be with Edward and how easy it was for me to read two thousand four hundred and some-odd pages of Twilight, but have a hard time reading my Bible thru in a YEAR.

But those are posts for another day.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

2 little words

As I scrolled through my Facebook News Feed on Sunday, I smiled as Friends and Family posted Easter Greetings. Some posted pictures of their family all dressed in matching spring outfits. Some posted pictures of their kids knee deep in Easter goodies. One post stood out to me above all the others. I have not been able to let go of it, even now. It was simple. Just 2 words. At first I thought that this was in response to something someone had posted on this person's timeline, but when I went to investigate, I discovered that it was a stand alone post. Just 2 little words.
When I left this person's FB and went back to my news feed, the meaning of the 2 word post sucker punched me in the gut. All over my news feed, friends and family were posting 3 little words.
"He has risen!"
To which one friend replied those 2 little words:
"Who has?"
Even now, it makes my heart race a little. Not because I think that this person does not know who rose. Not because I believe that this person has never heard of Jesus Christ. Quite the opposite really.
Here in the south, there are few, if any who are unaware of why Christians celebrate Easter. I know that this person knows exactly who the Christians on FB were referring to.
I thought that perhaps this was simply a religious statement. More of a "Not everyone is a Christian" exclamation. I do remember that this person is of a faith that does not recognize Jesus as Messiah. Perhaps this was just a way for this person to support their faith? So, I checked out the person's FB again today. Sadly, it was filled with criticisms, rants, and all sorts of negativity. I've rarely been confronted with someone who is so obviously filled with hate.This understanding is what makes my heart race a little. Not because this person hasn't been told the Good News, but because  2 little words let me know that they had rejected it.
These 2 little words scream, "Your Jesus is not important to me,"  and  "Your Jesus has no bearing on my life."
Here in the South, in the "Bible Belt", most people claim to be a Christian, and I am rarely confronted with anyone who blatantly stands against Christ.  2 little words reminded me that not everyone believes. Some still openly reject Him. 
We still have a lot of work to do.
 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:17

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Value of the Valley

I am stubborn and rebellious and it takes me a long time to learn anything, BUT over the past 10 or so years,  I've learned that my greatest spiritual growth has occurred while I was in the valley. "Valleys" are those times when God allowed me to face seemingly impossible obstacles in order to stretch my faith. Sometimes my obstacle was something from my past that reared its ugly head to wreak havoc on my present. Several times, the obstacle was illness. There were times when broken relationships caused more pain than I thought I could bear. No matter the specific circumstance,  most often, the greatest obstacle for me to overcome is fear of the unknown.
Not knowing the outcome of a situation causes me a great deal of anxiety. I have found myself wondering "what if I do this 'God's way' and it all blows up in my face?" or "If I handle this the way God expects, will I still get the result I want?" I suppose I'm really asking, "Is God trustworthy?"

I've learned that a trip through the valley has tremendous value, especially when it comes to learning to trust God. 

In the valley we face our fears. In the valley, we hang on when nothing makes sense, trusting only that God is in control, that He has a plan, and that His plan is best. We close our eyes and cling to the Father while our world seems to come crashing down, trusting that HE is in control. We allow ourselves to be pushed past comfortable to the point of pain because we trust that God knows things we do not, can see the outcome we cannot, and that the pain we are going through will be worth it.

In the valley we confront our demons. We make peace with our past and learn to trust God with our future. Our faith is stretched and strengthened and our hearts healed in the valley. A walk through the darkest valley will challenge our belief, expose our doubts, and reveal those things in which we have misplaced our trust. I found the answer to the most important question I've ever asked there.

"Can I trust God?"
I've learned that the answer to this question is a resounding yes! In the valley God proved that He is indeed trustworthy, that HIS way is truly and absolutely the best way, and that He has a plan and a purpose...and ultimately it is to bring HIM glory.

Thinking back over Easter weekend, I am reminded of Silent Saturday. What a valley those who loved Jesus were in. I try and remember this when I am in a valley. God has a plan. Just because I can's see Him at work doesn't mean He has abandoned me. I;ve learned that a trip through the valley is good for my soul. It makes me cling to Jesus, reveals His working in my heart, and prepares me for what ever He has planned for the rest of my days.

I am not insinuating that a trip through the valley will make all troubles disappear. When we emerge from the valley, things will not likely be "good as new". Spiritual healing doesn't erase the past. We will bear the scars of living life.... but we will be spiritually stronger, we will be freed from bondage, we will be healed.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Christ the Lord is Risen today!!!

It's Easter! I have barely been able to contain myself! I've waited for today allll week!!!!!!! Here's what I've been waiting for....

John 20

The Empty Tomb

20 On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark. She saw that the stone had been removed[a] from the tomb. So she ran to Simon Peter and to the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!”
At that, Peter and the other disciple went out, heading for the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and got to the tomb first. Stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying there, yet he did not go in. Then, following him, Simon Peter came also. He entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. The wrapping that had been on His head was not lying with the linen cloths but was folded up in a separate place by itself. The other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, then entered the tomb, saw, and believed. For they still did not understand the Scripture that He must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went home again.

Mary Magdalene Sees the Risen Lord

11 But Mary stood outside facing the tomb, crying. As she was crying, she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 She saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet, where Jesus’ body had been lying. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“Because they’ve taken away my Lord,” she told them, “and I don’t know where they’ve put Him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not know it was Jesus.
15 “Woman,” Jesus said to her, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Supposing He was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you’ve removed Him, tell me where you’ve put Him, and I will take Him away.”
16 Jesus said, “Mary.”
Turning around, she said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!”[b]—which means “Teacher.”
17 “Don’t cling to Me,” Jesus told her, “for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brothers and tell them that I am ascending to My Father and your Father—to My God and your God.”
18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them what[c] He had said to her.

OH! How I love Jesus! IS that not he most precious picture? Can you IMAGINE how poor Mary's heart must have jumped from her chest when she heard the LORD say her name??? Oh! How He loves us! He always takes that extra step to show His absolute love for us. I am moved to tears of sheer JOY picturing Mary as The Lord of all Creation spoke her name. What an Awesome God we serve!

IT'S SUNDAY!!!!!!!!!
God is alive!
Death is Defeated!
Hope of Heaven is given to all who believe!

It's Sunday.
The day My Lord and Savior defeated death so that I could have life.

Living He loved me, dying He saved me
And buried He carried my sins far away
Rising He justified freely forever
One day He's coming, oh, glorious day, oh, glorious day

Read more: Casting Crowns - Glorious Day Lyrics | MetroLyrics

He's coming back. Not as a baby. Not to be crucified on a cross. This time He will come and claim His people for Heaven. Satan will be defeated once for all. And we will live in Heaven for all eternity. Oh Glorious Day!!!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Silent Saturday

It's Saturday.
Some call this Holy Saturday. There is debate as to where Jesus was on this day. Whether he descended to hell and freed the righteous who'd died before His time, descended into hell and broke through the gates and cleaned house, ascended into heaven, or was simply lying in wait for the resurrection, the point of the matter is, He was dead. We will leave the speculations on what he did with that period of time until we get to heaven ourselves and can ask.
It's Saturday.
We are hunting eggs and visiting with friends and family,  but this is quite different from what went on the FIRST Holy Saturday.
Imagine what those who loved Jesus most went through. They loved Jesus the man. Son, Brother, Friend, Teacher. They loved Jesus the Messiah. Healer of the sick, Defeater of demons, Conqueror of death, Redeemer, Savior, Lord. They loved Him, as much as I have loved any person in all my life.
And He is dead.
How they must have agonized. How they must have grieved. All their hopes and dreams were buried with Jesus. You can read what Scripture says about this day here.
Know what breaks my heart? Verse 61.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were seated there, facing the tomb.
Oh, those poor women. Can't you just see them sitting there outside the tomb, hopes shattered, grieving the loss of the One they loved so very much. I imagine them alternating between sobbing and staring at the closed tomb with blank faced disbelief. What must have been going through their minds?
My heart breaks for those who loved Jesus on Saturday.
There are times in my life (I've even recorded some since I began writing) when I felt as though God was sitting back with a grin on His face as if to say, "Watch what I'm about to do."
I feel like this was the ultimate example of that. I imagine all of heaven and creation held its breath as it awaited the Lord's Resurrection.
But I get ahead of myself. It's still Saturday.
I love Saturday in all of its agony because Saturday tells me that God's got a plan. He IS in control. My heart is shattered for those who loved Jesus so much because I know that they don't know that He is coming back. I want to call out to them over the ages and say "Hang on!!!!! Sunday's Coming!!!!!! He's coming back!!!!! It's not over!!!!! Just hang on til tomorrow and everything will be all right!!!!" I'm on the edge of my seat, about to burst with excitement because I know what's coming! I know what they are in for tomorrow and my poor human heart wants so much for Saturday's grief and morning and agony to be over because I know that the JOY of seeing Jesus again will erase the pain of  today! But we aren't there yet.
It's Saturday.
The day that reminds me to hang on and trust in Jesus, God's got a plan, He is in control.
It's Saturday.
The day that God shows me that He allows unbearable suffering because HE knows it will be insignificant compared to the JOY at the end! All our suffering here will not even be a memory when we meet Jesus face to face in Heaven! 
I'm getting ahead of myself again.
It's Saturday.
(But Sunday's Coming!)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Thoughts on Good Friday

It's Friday. Good Friday.
Tonight my son is going to Prom. School is out. Spring is in the air. Tomorrow we will have our city-wide Easter egg hunt.On Sunday, my youngest will have her 10th birthday. Life is good and I am thankful. I am thankful for this life I've been given and for all the amazing people God has given me to share it with. Today I am also consciously thankful for the gift of forgiveness and eternity in Heaven and am more aware of the sacrifice that was made for me to have these gifts than I am on most days. 

It's Good Friday. The day we recognize as the day Christ Jesus was crucified. What a terribly wonderful day. Images from The Passion of the Christ blur through my thoughts. Images of a beaten, broken, bruised, crushed Jesus are in the forefront of my mind. The Biblical account of Good Friday is here.

So much happened in one day! At daybreak, Jesus goes before Pilate. He hears all the accusations made against Him and does not defend Himself, does not call out His accusers. I can't imagine how his heart must have ached knowing how the people felt about him.  I guess he already knew how they felt. Still, it must have hurt to hear them call for His death. I've often wondered how "fully God and fully man" works here. Did His understanding of mankind's need for a Savior outweigh their hatred of Him? Did His understanding of Satan and Hell give Him compassion for those who betrayed Him, beat Him, and, ultimately, killed Him? Since He died for us, I believe that this is the case. These are things that would be attributed to Him being "fully God". So then, how does the "fully man" fit in? Did He fully feel the deep sting of betrayal, fully experience the brokenness of His human body? Was He left breathless from the weight of the hatred spewed at Him? He must have felt it all as any of us would...since He was paying the price for our sin. My heart breaks to think about these things. My Lord, My Jesus, My Savior, the Creator of the Universe, broken and beaten....for me.

Judas hangs himself today too. I feel sorry for Judas. I really do. He realized, too late, that he'd made a grave error. He tried to make it right, but the Sanhedrin would not turn from the plan they'd put in motion. Judas had no hope. There was absolutely nothing he could do to make it right. My heart breaks for him, mainly because I know that, without Jesus, I too would be without hope. There are things I've done that can never be made right, but, thanks be to God, Jesus died and paid the penalty for my sin, rose on the 3rd day and defeated death and the grave so that I can live eternally in the presence of my Lord in Heaven! How precious it is to me that this was included in Scripture. One more example of our utter hopelessness and our tremendous unfathomable need for a Savior.
But I get ahead of myself. It's still Friday.

My Lord has been condemned to die. He was so hated and despised that the people set a known murderer free and asked that Jesus die in His place. (I just realized that this is another clear picture of what Jesus did for all of us. Barabbas did NOTHING to warrant his freedom. Jesus died in his place.)
Since I saw the Passion, one phrase in this text has hung heavy in my heart. The phrase is found in
Matthew 27:26  Then he released Barabbas to them. But after having Jesus flogged, he handed Him over to be crucified. 
Mark 15:15 Then, willing to gratify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. And after having Jesus flogged, he handed Him over to be crucified.
 3 little words. They aren't even in Luke and John's accounts. 3 little words that mean my Lord was whipped with the cat of nine tails, the flesh was ripped from His back, He was beaten beyond recognition. I do not think that even my most gruesome imagining can touch the reality of the beating He received. All recorded in three little words. I'm sure that no further explanation was needed  when the text was written. However, in our time, not being familiar with "flogging", it is far too easy to look over those 3 little words without acknowledging the severity of the punishment our Savior received.
As I said, so much happened on that Friday. Too much to ponder here.
After carrying His cross (He was too weak to do it alone, so the Roman guards forced bystander to help Him), He was crucified. Again, the words have softened their blow over the ages. This was truly a horrendous death.
The last thing I want to mention is the beautiful gift Christ gives us on the cross. When He tells the thief "Today you will be with me in paradise". You can read Luke's account of it here. As if we needed any more encouragement to trust Him. As if what He'd already done was not enough, Jesus gives us this beautiful promise. It's as if He waited until He had our full attention and, before He drew His last breath, he said,  "Believe in Me. Believe I am who I say I am. Trust in Me and you will be saved."
And then the Lord of All Creation died.
It's Friday.
The day Jesus showed me how to defend myself against wrongful accusations.
It's Friday.
The day my Savior made sure that I understood that faith in Him is all I need to be saved.
It's Friday.
The day that the Creator of the Universe, the Master of all Creation, the Lover of my soul, was mocked, scorned, spat upon, beaten beyond anything I can imagine.
It's Friday.
The day that God gave His life for mine.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Maundy Thursday

It's Thursday.
Tomorrow is Good Friday.
Sunday is Easter.

But today is Thursday.
As the Easter Story plays out, tonight Jesus will have the Last Supper with the Disciples. Tonight Jesus will wash the feet of all the disciples, including Judas, the betrayer. Afterward, they will go to the Garden to pray. Finally, Jesus will be arrested and the disciples will be scattered. Peter will deny knowing Christ not once, but three times.

It's Thursday. I know how the story plays out. I already know how the story ends.  Still, my heart breaks for the disciples. They have no idea what horrors tonight will bring. They do not understand the events that are unfolding around them.

I cannot imagine how terrified they must have been when their Master, their Teacher, their Friend, was arrested.

But we aren't there yet.

First there's dinner. You can read all about it here.
Try and put yourself in that scene. Talk about the most awkward Dinner EVER! First, Jesus tells the disciples that one of them will betray him. They all say "not me" and when Judas says it, Jesus responds, "you have said it".  Wow. Can you feel the air being sucked out of the room? THEN they pass around the bread and the wine and Jesus tells them, his FRIENDS, that this will be His last supper with them. Honestly, can you IMAGINE?  I can try, but am sure that I cannot fathom the way the disciples must have felt.
Then, what must Jesus have felt? Knowing exactly how things were going to go down. Knowing that this was the end of His time with the 12. Knowing that they just didn't understand the enormity of the moment. Knowing how frightened they would all be. Knowing that they would die for their belief in Him. Knowing all the pain that would be endured, not only by Him, but also by all who loved Him. How His heart must have ached. My heart hurts just thinking about it.

Dinner ends, they sing some hymns, and go to the Garden. You can read the Biblical account of it here.

Things get worse for the disciples. Jesus has already verified that Judas would betray Him. Now, he tells Peter that he will deny him not once, but three times...before dawn! I'm sure that Peter, who loves Jesus, cannot imagine any scenario in which he would deny knowing his teacher and friend. Of course, Peter has no idea just how bad things are going to get. How it must have agonized Jesus to know that the 12 would be scattered, that Peter would be so afraid that he would deny being a disciple, that they would all be terrified.

In the Garden, Jesus tells Peter, James and John,  “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow —to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me."

What had Jesus swallowed up in sorrow? See what He does next...
Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”
Wow. Just wow. Jesus knew everything that was about to take place. He understood. In the final hours, He asked the Father if the cup could pass from Him. That would be like me saying, "God, if there is any other way to do this, let's do it that way."  BUT Jesus doesn't wait for an answer. He doesn't try to formulate another plan. He doesn't analyze the situation. He says, "Yet not as I will, but as You will."  OH! To have that level of submission to God! Not what I want, but what You want, Lord.

Shortly thereafter, Judas shows up and kisses Jesus on the cheek and the Roman Guards take the Lord of All Creation away...and thus begins the most horridly beautiful 3 days in history.

It's Thursday.
The day Jesus showed me how to love those who betray me.

It's Thursday.
The day Jesus showed me what to do when my soul is swallowed up in sorrow.

It's Thursday.
The day Jesus Christ said "not my will but Your will" and, in doing so, chose to save my wretched soul.