Saturday, April 25, 2009

Only 30 Days to Live.....

If you had 30 days to live, what would you do?
What would you change?
Would you have any regrets?

How would you do life differently if you knew you only had 30 days to live?

Someday, I would like to white water raft on the Colorado River. I want to zipline through the rainforest. I want to visit Washington DC and see the Declaration of Independence that our forefathers wrote. I would like to go on an Alaskan cruise and see whales migrating. I'd like to go scuba diving in the Caribbean. I want to visit the Holy Lands and walk where Jesus walked. I'd like to see Yosemite National Park since we missed it the last time we went to California. I want to climb the Eiffel Tower with my love, my husband. I want to visit Niagara Falls because I absolutely love waterfalls. And maybe, I'd even like to swim with the dolphins in Florida.

However, if I only had 30 days to live, doing those things--the things I'd like to do someday--wouldn't matter to me. My focus would be on my husband and my children. I would spend time with my parents and my siblings. Anything I decided to do would focus on those people and giving them lasting memories to hold on to.

If I only had 30 days to live, I would want to share Jesus with my friends who don't follow Christ. I would want to make sure they knew about His perfect gift of Life and salvation.

And yet, how do I know I don't have only 30 days to live? In reality, I don't. And neither does anyone else. "Each man's life is but a breath." (Psalm 39:5)

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Superhero!

This morning, Gavin and I had a little discussion.

Gavin: " Hey Mom, do you know what? Jesus is just like a super hero, isn't he?"

Me (always perplexed at the deepness of his thoughts): "Hmmm. Yes. Why do you say that?"

Gavin: "Because He had all kinds of superpowers like healing people and coming back to life. He's just like a superhero!"

Me: "You're right! He IS the BEST superhero!"

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Hardest Part

Jesus suffered great things during his last hours on this earth.

His character was attacked; He was falsely accused; He was labeled a liar and a blasphemer. He was blindfolded, spit upon and slapped. He was mocked and made fun of. He was then beaten mercilessly. His clothes were stripped off. He was scourged across His back with a leather whip that had bone and metal balls tied onto it. His skin was torn; his muscles were ripped apart. He was then mocked again--forced to wear a robe across His bleeding, raw back. A crown of thorns was placed upon His head and then pushed down into place until the thorns drove themselves into His scalp. He was humiliated.

He was then forced to carry the heavy wooden cross that was to be His final torture. He was treated as a criminal. Then He was placed on that cross. Spikes atleast 6" long were nailed through each of His wrists. His feet were overlapped and then another spike was driven through them. He then experienced the jolts as the cross was being lifted and driven into the ground.

The mockery continued and so did the humiliation. As the soldiers gambled for His seamless robe and others yelled insults up to Him.

He said nothing. He endured it all.

As bad as all that is, the most difficult part for Him to endure had to be the time when the skies turned black and God turned his back on His One and Only Son. For the first time since the beginning of time, Jesus experienced separation from God. He was alone in the world bearing the sin of all mankind. And God, who knows no sin, could not face His Son. For three hours the powers of darkness separated Jesus from His Father.

Hell is a place of complete separation from God. Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, experienced Hell at that moment. Jesus, who had never sinned, took on the sin of us all and went through Hell for us.

That had to be the hardest part!

He Arose!

Although written in 1874 by Robert Lowry, the words to the song "He Arose" are ringing in my heart today. This is the most triumphant song of Jesus' resurrection that I know.

Pastor shared today that Christianity rises and falls on the resurrection of Jesus. I Corinthians 15 tells us that it is in the resurrection that we have our hope; and that without it, we are to be pitied more than all men.

I'm so glad today that Jesus DID rise up! That He didn't stay in the ground. And that the evidence to this truth is so great (even today, 2000 years later) that it really can't be refuted.

God, thank you for your wonderful plan of salvation!

He Arose

Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior,
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus my Savior;
Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior;
He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

"What shall I do with Jesus?" (one more Holy Week thought....)

This was the question Pilate asked of the angry mob. Pilate didn't want to sentence Jesus to death. But he didn't want to stand up to the mob either. He was a coward. First he tried to pacify the crowd by having Jesus scourged. When Jesus was returned to Pilate, He was almost recognizable because He had been beaten so badly. Pilate called out to the people, "Look at the Man!" And the mob shouted, "Crucify Him!" They threatened Pilate that if He didn't sentence Jesus to death that they would report him to Caesar saying Pilate was serving another "king."

Pilate like his life as governor too much. He liked the lime-light. He liked the money and prestige. So, he asked the crowd, "What shall I do with Jesus?" and he turned and washed his hands in a basin of water proclaiming that he would be innocent of Jesus' death."

Today, two thousand years later, many people are still asking, "What shall I do with Jesus?"

So, what will YOU do with Jesus?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Judas Iscariot (another Holy Week thought...)

How is it that someone could live so closely to Jesus the Christ for over three years--hearing every word He taught, seeing every miracle He performed, being with Him day in and day out--and still turn their back on Him?

Judas did.

But again, I see that we aren't that much different from the disciples.

Isn't it perfectly possible for someone to attend church every week, to memorize Scriptures, to be kind and good, to outwardly pray, to always seek to be fair, and still not belong to the Lord?

Yes, it is.

"Father, when you look in my heart today, I pray you don't see a Judas. I desire to follow you--not because of what it looks like or to impress others--but to follow you because it pleases you."

Hematidrosis and an angel (more thoughts from Holy Week...)

Jesus was facing what He came to earth to do; He was just about to complete His mission, His purpose. But He didn't just plunge ahead without thinking. He said, "My soul is crushed with sorrow" at the thought of what lay ahead of Him. He asked the Father if there was any other way to save mankind from their sins. And then He accepted the Father's will saying "I want Your will, not Mine, to be done." He prayed this prayer three different times that night to His Father. He prayed so earnestly and with such a broken heart, that His sweat fell to the ground like drops of blood. when blood mixes with sweat and drips out one's sweat glands; it occurs "when a person is suffering extreme levels of stress, for example, facing his or her own death." It is often seen in soldiers facing battle or in criminals who are facing the death penalty (see Wikipedia article). When Luke described this in Luke 22:44, he was not simply drawing a word picture for us. Luke was a physician so it is fitting that he would make not of this rare medical condition that Jesus experienced.

Jesus really was suffering! The events that He was preparing Himself for would change the world. His pain was greater far than anything that we could ever imagine. What did He do? He prayed to the Father!! And what did God do? He sent an angel from Heaven to strengthen Christ.

Our Father in Heaven really does care! He is NOT a stoic God sitting there casting judgment. He wants to comfort us. He wants to strengthen us! HE LOVES US!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Washing feet (thoughts from Holy Week continue...)

After sharing the Passover meal with his disciples, Jesus did something that surprised and even shocked His disciples. The Bible says He got up from the supper, laid aside his outer garments, took a towel and basin, and began to wash the disciples feet. Since people of the day either wore sandals or went barefoot, their feet got pretty dirty as they walked along the dusty roads. Normally, a servant would be at the front door to wash the dirt from the feet of the guests; this was a common courtesy just like we might offer to take the coat and hat of guests in our home today. In all reality, one of the members of the group should have done this when they first arrived, but evidently none of them was willing to do so. Now, their Master was before them doing this lowliest of duties.

Now, I grew up in a church where we practiced feet washing. Yes, you read correctly. Just like Jesus--except, thankfully, we didn't take off our outer garments. Usually on the evening of Palm Sunday, we would partake in the Lord's Supper; afterwards we would divide up, women in one room and men in another. There we would sing songs, give testimony of God's grace and love, and then pair up and wash one anothers feet. No, I don't mean with soap and washcloths. One person would kneel in front of the other, pour water with her hands over the other's feet, then dry them with a towel. While it was always a little awkward at first, that time of worship would always end in tears and hugs and oftentimes healing between those who may have harbored hurt feelings. It was humbling to wash someones feet, but it was just as humbling to have your feet washed. Honestly, it was a beautiful experience!

Well, Jesus continued around the room washing the feet of each of his friends, who I am sure were befuddled by His actions. But the Bible doesn't record any discussion until Jesus came to Peter; at which time Peter protested that Jesus shouldn't be washing His feet. Jesus replied, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Peter (good ole Peter) then proclaimed, "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but my hands and my face." In other words, he said, "Jesus, bathe all of me!"

Jesus' reply is amazing to me. I don't recall noticing it before this year although I know I have read it and taught it to my children several times in the past. Jesus said, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet to be completely clean."

I love this! If we have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives, then we are cleansed of our sins. It is as if we have been bathed by Christ; we are whiter than snow! But as we go through the daily grind of life, we aren't perfect. We can't be; we sin everyday. Isn't it true? We get mad, are unkind, act selfishly, become impatient. These are sins. And when sin stays in our lives, we can't have fellowship with God. It is as if our feet are dirty. By telling Peter that he only needed his feet cleansed, Jesus was saying that we don't "lose our salvation" when we sin; we don't cease to be a child of God because of our sin. When a Christ-follower sins and fails--in thought, word, or deed--he just needs to have his feet washed. That is, he needs to seek God's forgiveness in order to continue in fellowship with God. Isn't God awesome?!

"Father, Your ways are wonderful and complete. Thank you for cleansing my heart from the sin that kept me separated from You. Thank you for Your forgiveness that is always there when I seek it. I'm thankful today that You don't turn your back on me when I fail you."

Being the greatest? (Holy Week thoughts continued...)

Jesus and his disciples went to the upper room to have their Passover meal. As they did, some of the disciples were arguing over who would be the greatest in His Kingdom--who would have the highest rank. They wanted to be first and great in the eyes of the people; they wanted to be the ones barking out the orders and being the "big boss".

It is easy to criticize the disciples, isn't it? I mean, didn't they realize what Jesus was about to do? Well, actually no, they didn't In spite of all the "hints" He had given them, they were pretty much clueless. I'm not even sure they noticed His demeanor as they began the meal--that He was more sober and contemplative than usual. Although they had followed Him, observed all the great things He had done, and observed His words for over three years, they still didn't fully understand who He was and what He was doing. Amazing!

But, are we so much different today from those disciples? How often do we find our selfish thoughts and wishes taking over our minds? How often do we (albeit secretly) find ourselves wishing to be the top dog? Don't we often wish it was us giving out the orders instead of having to follow them? And don't we so often long to be noticed by other people and desire for them to notice us? Yes! I believe we are much like these disciples of Jesus.

What was Jesus' reply to them? Of course, He acknowledged that the kings of the earth are looked upon with great regard and have servants to do their bidding. But He then said that it is not that way with Him. Instead He said, that those who want to be the greatest with Him must become the least; that the leader must become the servant.

Isn't that just the opposite of what the disciples were thinking? Isn't that just the way WE think? But then, the Bible does tell us that God's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. He has an upsidedown way of doing things!

In order to become great, we must serve! Who am I serving today? Who are you?

We are best used by God when we are serving others!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Let Me be a Donkey! (Holy Week thoughts continue...)

The Sunday that we recognize as Palm Sunday comes from Jesus' Triumphal entry into Jerusalem where He rode into town on a donkey and people laid down their coats and palm branches as He passed by. Jesus didn't own this donkey though. From where did it come?

Jesus was just outside the city and sent a couple disciples into the village. He told them they would find a young donkey colt tied up. He instructed them to untie it and bring it to Him. If they were asked what they were doing, they were to say that the Master needed the donkey and He would return it. So they did just as Jesus told them and everything was just as He said it would be. When they returned with the colt, Jesus sat upon it and road into town.

As I was reading this the other day, I was stunned by the reality of this story. It was a donkey, a lowly animal, that brought the King of Kings into the town. It wasn't a regal white Arabian that had been born of thoroughbred parents. Jesus didn't choose a lumbering elephant or even a lion--the king of the jungle. He chose a lowly donkey. Jesus chose the simple--the unexpected. I'm so glad He did.

Isn't it awesome that He still chooses the simple, the plain, the ordinary? He wants to use us if we will give ourselves to Him

In addition, the donkey was a young colt. It had NEVER been ridden. It wasn't yet broke. Yet when it was brought to Jesus, it allowed Him to ride. This is contrary to the nature of a donkey, I am told. Normally, the colt would have acted wildly and tried to buck its rider. Donkeys are known for their stubbornness. Yet, this donkey willingly allowed Jesus to ride him. Jesus tamed and controlled the donkey--it was calm, obedient and gentle as Jesus rode upon it.

Now what about me? Sometimes I am so stubborn. So willful. So determined to go my own way and do my own things. Sometimes my temper gets out of control. My prayer today is that I would be willing to be tamed--willing to be calm, gentle and obedient--just as the donkey colt that carried Jesus on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bread and Water for Me, Please!

Let's say your spouse wants to surprise you with a special dinner out at the fanciest restaurant you've ever been to. Can you imagine what the response would be when the waiter came by to take your order if you said, "I'll have a glass of water and some bread." I'm sure the waiter would be dumbfounded and your spouse would be incredibly embarrassed.

But today, I want to order Bread and Water, please!

In John 4, Jesus is resting when a Samaritan woman stopped by to fill her jugs at the well. Jesus, being thirsty but having no utensils, asks her for a drink. She is shocked that He would even speak to her since He is a Jew and she is a Samaritan--people who were despised by the Jews--and she likewise, questions him about his request. After a few exchanges, Jesus says: "...whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." (v8)

That's the Water I want. And, as a Christ-follower, that is exactly the Water that is promised to me. I have a well of water springing up in my soul that provides me with eternal life. A Water that quenches my every thirst if I will but drink of it when I'm thirsty--when I'm tired, stressed, overwhelmed, and unsure. Christ is my Well of Life!

In John 6, some people have gathered around Jesus and are talking about how God provided their forefathers with manna from Heaven. Jesus doesn't miss a beat with them. He says, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger...everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life." (v. 35, 40)

Bread that gives eternal life! Bread that fills my spiritual hunger! Now that has to be the best bread recipe ever created! No more sour dough for me!

Please pass the Bread and Water!