Monday, April 30, 2012

Busted by God!

Then ... God said, "What is this you have done?" (Gen. 3:13)
Adam and Eve were exposed and ashamed. They quickly made themselves some clothes out of fig leaves. They were tying to cover their guilt and shame from themselves (and from God). And we've all been doing the same thing ever since - trying to cover the bad stuff with make-up and masks to hide who we really are!
Soon it was time for God's evening stroll so they ran and hid in the bushes. God found them. He knew what they had done. It was the saddest day there ever was! Adam, Eve and the snake were all busted by God!
God, being God - He had to do somethiing. God said, Becaise you have done this ...
Snake, you are going to have to crawl and eat dirt from now on. AND I'm declaring war on
Woman, when you have babies you are going to have terrible pain and you will never ever make your husband really happy even when you try hard to do so.
Man, you heard My rule straight from My lips and you still made this terrible choice. You are going to have to work harder and harder just to scratch out a living - sweating and doing everything "by the hardest" until you finally die!
Then, God being God, He didn't leave things in a hopeless mess! He gave the promise that His war with Satan would end someday. He even gave the score. God wins everything; Satan loses! (Gen. 3:15)
God took a look at those leaf suits Adam and Eve were wearing. God made the fig tree so He knew how scratchy fig leaves are and how they woud dry and crumble leaving Adam and Eve naked and shamed all over again. So, God killed a lamb and made leather clothes for them. Maybe Adam and Eve and God had a little lamb picnic then just before God kicked them out of the garden.
God did something sad and wonderful for Adam and Eve. He tossed them out of the beautiful garden and stationed an angel to keep them out so they couldn't find the path to the Tree of Life. That was God's severe mercy! If they got a notion to eat from the Tree of Life (Gen. 2:9) they would be forever stuck in death, sin and misery. So, God protected them from themselves by kicking them out and blocking the way back in! Best of all, God made a promise to fix all that broke that terrible day - someday!
Adam and Eve didn't know what we know. We know that Jesus came. We know that Jesus' death on the cross fixed the mess Adam and Eve and the Devil made. It's a work in process but it's God's work so someday He will fix everything forever!
Lord Jesus, I'm like Adam and Eve. I want to do things my way. I don't listen to You. I don't obey Your instructions for life, and it gets me in trouble all the time. Help me to love You better. Forgive me for being such a bad "child"! Thank You for sending Jesus to fix my mess! In Jesus' name. Amen.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rock and Role!

Jesus had a nickname for Peter, one of Jesus’ special friends. Jesus called Peter the Rock. Peter means “rock.”
Sometimes Peter acted like a rock because he was so hard-headed. Sometimes Peter was just about the best friend Jesus had.
Did someone ever ask you to do something you just didn’t want to do? Maybe like take out the garbage or wash the dishes or mow the grass.
Maybe you just don’t want to do that job
right now. Well, that’s kind of what happened to Peter.
The Bible tells us about a conversation Jesus had with Peter. (See Mark 8:31-38) One day Jesus was talking to all His main men – his best friends – about things that were going to happen. You see, Jesus knew that He was going to die. Jesus told His friends this. They didn’t want to hear such bad news. Jesus also told them that He would come back to life but they were so upset they didn’t even hear that part of what Jesus said.
Well, Peter was REALLY upset that Jesus was talking about dying. The Bible says Peter really
got on Jesus’ case. Peter pretty much told Jesus, "You're nuts!" Peter told Jesus to stop talking about dying – that they didn’t want to hear !
Then Jesus basically told Peter to “shut up.” Jesus told Peter that he (Peter) didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. Jesus told Peter that God had a plan and that God’s plan was going to trump any other plans whether Peter liked it or not.
Then Jesus called the crowd of people to gather around so He could talk to them. There were many, many people following Jesus all the time. They wanted to hear what Jesus had to say. They wanted to see the wonderful things Jesus did – making blind men see and deaf men hear and sick women and little girls well.
Jesus knew why these people were following Him around. Jesus also knew that following Him was going to be hard when things got scary – when Jesus was arrested, taken to court and then killed on the cross. Jesus told the people that if they were going to follow Him that they needed to know it would be hard.
In fact, Jesus said that God’s way is often very different for how we would do things. Jesus said that God’s way seems upside-down to us (and them). Jesus isn’t trying to scare the people off. No! Jesus loved all these people following Him. He just wanted them to know that He was asking them to do something hard to do if they followed Him.
It is often hard to do the right thing and much easier to do the wrong thing. What God calls us to is faithful obedience no matter what even if that means everyone else is doing wrong. Jesus is always ready and willing to help you and me do the right thing!
Jesus loves to see us doing the right thing because that lets Jesus know that we love Him. He
will always love us no matter what but He wants us to follow Him and do the right thing even when it is hard! You and I can be rocks for Jesus – standing up for the right thing just like Jesus wanted Peter to do! Jesus will help us do the right thing if we ask Him! We can be "rocks" for Jesus like Peter if we follow Jesus and do what He wants us to do which is (our role or job) to be faithful and obedient!

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Ultimate Bad Choice!

The beautiful world God made was perfect - a garden so incredible that even God Himself like to come from heaven and take evening walks there! God walked with His friends - Adam and Eve. (Gen. 3:8) It was an awesome life! Think of it! God and man and NO barrier between - pretty spectacular!
Before woman, God gave Adam operating instructions for life in this wonderful garden: work with your hands in the dirt and keep the garden beautiful. God gave Adam just one little rule: The tree in the middle of the garden - the Tree-of-the-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil - DON'T eat from it! If you do, you're dead! (Gen. 2:15-17)
But there was just one little problem - a crafty, nasty charmer named "Snake" (the devil in disguise) snuck into the garden one day. He went straight to the woman and worked her over good! He knew she hadn't heard God's instructions first-hand so he started hissing and twisting God's instruction about the tree. (Gen. 2:16)
Snake: What is this about God telling you not to eat from any tree in this garden?!
Woman: No, not at all! We can eat from all the trees except for that one tree in the middle of the garden. It is the kiss of death to eat its fruit.
Snake: That's ridiculous! You won't die! You'll just know what's really going on. You'll know as much as God does - even all the secrets of good and evil.
Then the story continues, ...the woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it - she'd know everything! (Gen.3:6, The Message)
Well, it's not hard to imagine what happened next. The woman grabbed a piece of fruit from the forbidden tree, took a hasty bite and handed Adam the fruit. He bit too!
It was the untimate bad choice! In the worst possible way it was a defining moment! Immediately the two of them did see what's really going on ... (Gen. 3:7)
Adam and Eve knew they were naked and were ashamed. In the flash of a moment's very bad choice life changed forever! Everything in creation broke in that one terrible cosmic moment - including their friendship with God! Adam and Eve knew they were busted!
They made the ultimate bad choice and now everything is broken and needs fixed!
Lord Jesus, I make lots of bad choices just like Adam and Eve. I need YOU to help me! I need YOU to change my heart!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Broken...Needs Fixed!

He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then He said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." (Rev. 21:5)

It's called Pittsburghese! It's a language all its own. Only in Pittsburgh do educated people (people who know better) leave out the verb to be. The car needs fixed. The lawn needs mowed. The house needs cleaned.
Broken ... needs fixed! That's true Pittsburghese! It's a true diagnosis for the South Hills of Pittsburgh and beyond. We are all broken! We all need fixed!
Our usual response to brokenness is to want to rewind (like in a movie to bring all those shattered pieces back into an unbroken whole) - to fix brokenness in all its forms right here, right now. It's the cure, the remedy, the solution, the restoration to reverse the brokenness - that's the goal!
In The Passion of the Christ* Jesus speaks from His cross to His mother Mary, Woman, I make all things new! His body - broken, bleeding and sinking into death by suffocation - the King of Kings and Savior of the World speaks triumphant words, I make all things new! The words are out of place in the Biblical frame (they don't show up until Revelation 21:5) but they fit in the theological frame.
It is ONLY because of Jesus' death that we have the promise of restoration - being made new!
Long, long ago a man and woman in a garden made a terrible choice to disobey God's one rule: Don't eat from that one tree in the center of the garden. (Gen. 3:6) They were a bite away from terrible brokenness and they bit. Because of that bad choice they made and all the ones we continue to make, we all are broken. Some of us cover up, fix up, dress up, clean up and think we can hide our brokenness. The fact is: we are all broken beyond repair except for Jesus' startling promise: I make all things new!
He speaks from this side of His cross and the promise is true: I make all things new!
*movie produced by Mel Gibson

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Heart of a Lion for God - Chuck Colson

Saturday, April 21st Chuck Colson "slipped the surly bonds of earth and touched the face of God"!* I am old enough to remember Chuck Colson's other life when he served in the Nixon White House. He went to prison for his role in the Watergate scandal. But Watergate DID NOT define Chuck Colson. Chuck said he went to prison and never left. That is true in the sense that he spent the rest of his life writing, speaking, founding Prison Fellowship and its related ministries including his daily op ed pieces on Breakpoint.
What defined Chuck Colson was his incredible faith in Jesus and his unique, scholarly ability to put his faith and faith concepts in words that gripped the heart of his audience! I own and have read many of his books beginning with Born Again which is the story of his fall from the halls of power and the new life he found in Jesus Christ. I think my favorite of all his books is Loving God which he wrote in 1983.
Chapter 2 in Loving God is titled The Russian Doctor. It is one of the most profoundly compelling stories I have ever read - perhaps because I have read most of the writings of the person who is the patient of the Russian doctor. The Russian doctor is Dr. Boris Nicholayevich Kornfeld, a Jewish doctor and prisoner in the Soviet gulag. If anyone kept a record of the offense that landed Dr. Kornfeld in the gulag it is lost in time. In prison Boris Kornfeld became a believer in Jesus. Another prisoner spoke to Boris about another Jew who lived, died and came back to life. Boris was captivated and eventually believed that Jesus was indeed the Messiah of God! Dr. Kornfeld's new faith gave definition and boundaries to his bleak existence in the gulag. He refused to stoop to the "dog eat dog" existence in that dreadful place! He stood against injustice.
One night he was making rounds on a patient with serious pellagra - a disease caused by malnutrition that ultimately killed the patient. This man was clearly ravaged by pellagra. Dr. Kornfeld had been scavaging for white chalk, bread and herring to try to help his patient but the man was too far gone. He was too sick to even know his own name. He died as Dr. Kornfeld attended him.
As Boris Kornfeld walked away he came upon a criminal who had stolen the bread of another pellegra patient and was stuffing it down as fast as he could. In spite of the danger to his own personal safety, Dr. Kornfeld turned the man in to the commandant even tho he was effectively signing his own death warrent by his action. For safety the Russian doctor began sleeping near his patients. Apparently Dr. Kornfeld had never told another human being about his new found faith in Jesus.

One gray afternoon he examined a patient who had just been operated on for cancer of the intestines. This young man with a melon-shaped head and a hurt, little-boy expression touched the soul of the doctor. The man's eyes were sorrowful and suspicious and his face deeply etched by the years he had already spent in the camps, reflecting a depth of spiritual misery and emptiness Kornfeld had rarely seen.

So the doctor began to talk to the patient, describing what had happened to him. Once the tale began to spill out, Kornfeld could not stop. The patient missed the first part of the story, for he was drifting in and out of the anesthesia's influence, but the doctor's ardor caught his concentration and held it, though he was shaking with fever. All through the afternoon and late into the night, the doctor talked, describing his conversion to Christ and his new-found freedom. ... The patient knew he was listening to an incredible confession. Though the pain from his operation was severe, his stomach a heavy, expansive agony of molten lead, he hung on the doctor's words until he fell asleep.
The young patient awoke early the next morning to the sound of running feet and a commotion ... the whispers of a fellow patient told him of Kornfeld's fate. During the night while the doctor slept, someone had crept up ... and dealt him eight blows on the head with a plasterer's mallet. And though his fellow doctors worked valiantly to save him, in the morning the orderlies carried him out, a still, broken form.
But Kornfeld's testimony did not die.
The patient pondered the doctor's last, impassioned words. As a result, he, too, became a Christian. He survived that prison camp and went on to tell the world what he had learned there.
The patient's name was Alexander Solzhenitsyn. (Chuck Colson, Loving God, p. 27-34, 1983).

I remember well how my breath caught the first time I read this chapter! WOW! What a story!
The man who wrote that wonderful story and all the other chapters in Loving God has now moved on to the "BIG TIME - HEAVEN" but the things he said, the words he wrote and the way he lived will stand as a memorial to God's amazing grace!

*Ronald Reagan, 28 Jan 1986 after Challenger disaster quoting "High Flight" by John Gillespie Magee

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Heart Bruises!

Did you ever get a bruise? They usually come from hitting something. The harder the hit usually the bigger the bruise and also the more colorful! :o] OR some ["lucky" or un"lucky"] people like me also get bruises from some unknown cause. Usually the tissue involved in a bruise hurts. Eventually bruises heal but in the meantime there may be pain and there is certainly a mark on the skin and deeper tissues physically.
There is another category of bruise - a heart bruise. Heart bruises are totally unseen. Some people flaunt them; others just go off alone and others grow bitter and stuck in their pain. Heart bruises don't go away so quickly. Sometimes they last for a very long time! Often the person who caused the heart bruise doesn't even know what he or she did. Sometimes the bruise is intentional. Neither matters to a heart bruise!
The path to healing of a heart bruise is handing it over to the great Physician. He is really the only One Who can heal the deep pain of a heart bruise! Heart bruises can be excrutiatingly painful. They bring us to our knees either in despair or in prayer.
The causes of heart bruises are myraid: spouse, children, words, actions and more! There is no escaping a heart bruise. They come to all! Sometimes reconciliation and forgiveness help the healing process but Jesus is the only ultimate Answer for heart bruises! Go to Him as He's in the business of restoring (healing completely) all heart bruises!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Wonder of the Gospel Matters!

My friend Tim Keller (from long ago when he wasn't world-wide famous) is a wise man who truly understands and articulates the Gospel! You will be blessed by his thoughts and he's spot on!!!

If you think you really understand the gospel – you don’t. If you think you haven’t even begun to truly understand the gospel – you do. As important as our ‘gospel theologizing’ is, it alone will not reach our world. People today are incredibly sensitive to inconsistency and phoniness. They hear what the gospel teaches and then look at our lives and see the gap. Why should they believe? We have to recognize that the gospel is a transforming thing, and we simply are not very transformed by it. It’s not enough to say to postmodern people: ‘You don’t like absolute truth? Well, then, we’re going to give you even more of it!’ But people who balk so much at absolute truth will need to see greater holiness of life, practical grace, gospel character, and virtue, if they are going to believe.Traditionally, this process of ‘gospel-realizing,’ especially when done corporately, is called ‘revival.’ Religion operates on the principle:I obey; therefore I am accepted (by God). The gospel operates on the principle: I am accepted through the costly grace of God; therefore I obey. Two people operating on these two principles can sit beside each other in church on Sunday trying to do many of the same things – read the Bible, obey the Ten Commandments, be active in church, and pray – but out of two entirely different motivations. Religion moves you to do what you do out of fear, insecurity, and self-righteousness, but the gospel moves you to do what you do more and more out of grateful joy in who God is in himself. Times of revival are seasons in which many nominal and spiritually sleepy Christians, operating out of the semi-Pharisaism of religion, wake up to the wonder and ramifications of the gospel. Revivals are massive eruptions of new spiritual power in the church through a recovery of the gospel. In his sermon on Mark 9 Lloyd-Jones was calling the church to revival as its only hope. This is not a new program or something you can implement through a series of steps. It is a matter of wonder. Peter says that the angels always long to look into the gospel; they never tire of it (I Pet. 1:12). The gospel is amazing love. Amazing grace.- Tim Keller

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Gospel for My Heart Today

Does discouragement preach to you a false gospel that forgets that your future has already been written into the pages of God's book?
Does vengeance preach to you a false gospel that focuses more on what someone did to you than on what God did for you? --Paul Tripp

Someone did me - and a whole group of people - wrong, wrong to the max over a period of time! It makes me mad and sad and a whole bunch of other emotions! The MOST frustrating part of the whole story besides the collateral damage is that there is absolutely nothing to do about it and the damage is huge!

These two questions really speak to my heart today! Is this situation discouraging? You betcha!!! Do I want to fix it? You betcha! Do I want the person who did the damage to get his/hers? In spades! So now we're about done taking about my heart, is there a remedy? It's not a pretty picture! BUT the reality of the Gospel is pretty wonderful! I'm going to choose to camp out in the Gospel today with the help of Jesus Who overcame sin and death forever!

Lord Jesus, help me to live today in the truth of the Gospel today and in all my tomorrows! Help me to lay THIS circumstance at Your feet. Help me to trust You to love me (and the others hurt by this betrayal) no matter what the circumstances look like! Help me to believe and practice that Your Gospel is way big enough to take care of all this - my heart, this other person, the circumstances and the damage!

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Tragedy of Non-Inclusion!

We talk of "division" in our time and especially our nation. We may well be coming to other days of infamy in our nation which is deeply divided over many issues this day!
Today marks the day that is arguably the most bitter and divisive in our four century plus history - April 9, 1865 in Appomattox, Va when General Robert Edward Lee (commander of the Conferedate army) surrendered to General Ulysses Grant (commander of the Union forces).

It may be a little known fact that General Lee had the opportunity to command both armies. President Lincoln asked him to command the Union army and Lee declined. He felt God was calling him to stand with others in the clarion call for state's rights (NOT slavery as many have been taught and think). All that is bitterly arguable to this day among certain people and is NOT the point of this blog even though I have deep Southern roots!
I want to fast forward to another day in another place not too far from Appomattox, Va. It is a hot Sunday in June 1865. It is time for communion to be served to the worshippers at St. Paul's Episcopal church. Two men were in the company of worshippers: Gen. Lee and a freeman (name unknown). It was the custom for worshippers to rise, come forward and kneel at the front of the church to receive communion directly from the hand of the rector. Undoubtedly the worshippers were shocked when the black man made his way down the aisle and knelt at the communion rail. Some say he was tall, well-dressed and respectful - but no matter!
No one else in the church moved! It was as though a sudden paralysis had overtaken all the other worshippers. Then an elegant older man rose and also made his way down the aisle to the communion rail where he knelt beside his fellow worshipper.
After Lee knelt then the rest of the congregation slowly rose and made their way to the rail as well. The rector conducted communion and served his black brother along with the other worshippers that day in Richmond, Va.
Since this story is not included in Douglas Southall Freeman's four volume biography of Lee many do not believe it ever happened. Be that as it may, this is the kind of man Robert E. Lee was. He lived and died coram Deo ("before the face of God")!
This is a story of the character and heart of Robert E. Lee but it is also a parable of inclusion. When all are not included in worship and the life of the church, then the whole church suffers! We need all of the parts of the body to be whole as a church to change our culture! Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 to get the big picture and also reflect on:
Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable!

It's not us and them; it's we! Robert E. Lee understood that and so should we!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The World Died Last Night ... OR Did It? NOT!

What the "world" thought on Saturday:

On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away.In varying ways they realised the new wonder; but even they hardly realised that the world had died in the night.What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.- G.K. Chesterton

What the "world" learned on Sunday at dawn - He is NOT here! He is risen as He said!

Jesus is Alive! So?!

In Philippians 3:10 Paul says something that might seem rather strange: I want to know Him and the power of His resurrection. Who is the Him? That’s easy! It’s Jesus! The resurrection is what we celebrate today – Easter Sunday 2012! Resurrection means that Jesus died and then came
back to life. There is HUGE power in that process!
I know a man who worked for a power company fixing electrical wires. One day he was up high on a pole working on wires and he touched a live wire by accident. A live wire is one that has power still going through it. Live wires are very dangerous. Usually it kills you if you touch a live electrical wire. My friend’s name is Bryce. He didn’t die but he did lose most of one arm. He has a hook for a hand sort of like Captain Hook in Peter Pan. God got Bryce’s attention in that accident. Bryce lost his hand and part of his arm but he found Jesus which is tons more
important than a hand or arm!
What is the power of the resurrection? Well, in simple terms, it’s the power that makes a dead body come alive again. It is the kind of power that only God has! It is the most powerful force in nature – more powerful than a hurricane or a tornado or even a tsunami! The power that gives life to a dead body is awesome and scary! The Bible describes what happened when Jesus came back to life as a truly cosmic event: there was a great earthquake, an angel came from heaven and rolled away the stone that was in front of the tomb and sat on it. It was one huge stone! The angel was kind of scary too! The Bible says his face was like lightning and his clothing white as snow! I don’t know what a face that looks like lightning looks like but it sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it?
Do you remember Peter? He is Jesus’ main man who was a real cool, crazy guy! He was all the time jumping into doing and saying things before he stopped to think. One time Peter was in a boat out on a huge lake in the middle of the night with some of his buds. He saw what looked like a ghost walking toward them on top of the water! When the “ghost” got closer Peter suddenly knew who it was – JESUS! Peter was so excited that he asked Jesus to let him walk on the water too. The Bible says Peter scrambled out of the boat and took off walking
on top of the water toward Jesus! (Read the rest of this story in Matthew 14:22-33.)
Another Peter story is about the night Jesus was arrested. Peter followed the soldiers and Jesus but hung back and watched. Peter didn’t want anyone to notice him or talk to him. He wanted to be invisible!
Someone built a fire and the light of the fire showed Peter’s face. A girl asked Peter, Aren’t you one of Jesus’ main men? Peter told her “NO!” Peter moved away and another girl asked him the same question. And Peter gave the same answer. He used a bad word too. Then some of the people watching and listening also asked him if he was one of the men who hung with Jesus. This time Peter was really, really mad so he said a lot of bad words and shouted, I do not know the man! THEN Peter heard a rooster crow. That’s exactly what Jesus told Peter would happen – that he would claim not to know Jesus three times before the rooster crowed the next morning! Hmmmm!
Peter was really, really sad about what he did. He knew he let Jesus down big time! Then when Jesus died, Peter was so very much more sad because he thought he would never get a chance to tell Jesus how sorry he was and he didn’t know if Jesus would listen anyway.
Jesus was buried in the tomb. Early that first Easter morning some women who loved Jesus went to the tomb and when they got there they saw the angel and the stone rolled back. The angel told them, Jesus is not here!
They ran and told Peter (and others). Peter ran all the way to the tomb which was uphill all the way. He was probably panting when he got there. He didn’t stop. He ran right inside to see for himself that the tomb was empty!
A while later Peter was out fishing. He had been fishing all night. He looked up and saw a man on the shore. He realized it was Jesus. He jumped out of the boat to get to Jesus. Then Jesus cooked fish for breakfast on the beach and Jesus and Peter had a talk. Jesus asked Peter, Peter, do you love me? Peter said, O, yes, I do love You! Jesus asked Peter three times. Peter answered three times: Yes, Yes, Yes, Jesus, I DO LOVE YOU!!! Isn’t that cool? Jesus gave Peter a second chance to admit he loved Jesus. Jesus gave Peter 3 chances! Jesus forgave Peter! THAT’S what the power of the resurrection is! Because Jesus is
alive – because He was resurrected (came back to life) – Peter had a second
chance to show Jesus his love! Peter had a chance to be forgiven!
THAT is EXACTLY what the resurrection means for you and me! Because Jesus is alive
we get a second chance too! We also can be forgiven! Wow! That’s pretty powerful, isn’t it?!!!

--children's page written for worship, Easter 2012 @Ann Holmes, all rights reserved, 4/2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

Light Multiplied!

Jesus said He came to bring light and life! What a promise for our culture of death and darkness!
Today is both Passover and Good Friday. What a strange and also wonderful mix! The Passover Savior is the same Messiah Who hung on a rough wooden cross outside Jerusalem over 2000 years ago.
I have been deeply blessed to walk in the Garden of Gethsemane, to traverse the stones in the Via Dolorosa, to stand in the trade "path" near a busy bus station and gaze at the probable location of the crucifixion at the hill Golgotha (which truly does have the shape of a skull). I have also visited the Garden Tomb but that will have to wait.
While we were in Jerusalem we visited the Children's Museum of the Holocaust. What an incredible experience especially in the land of Judaism, the land of promise, the state of Israel! As we entered the museum we could hear a single voice reading names - one after another - hundreds and thousands of names of Jewish children killed in the Holocaust. Coming from the bright sun outside, it took a moment for our eyes to adjust to the darkness - total darkness except for the light of one candle. In the darkness we were instructed to walk and hold onto the rail. The further we walked into the darkness to the sound of all those names, the one candle became two and four and eight and twenty and a hundred and more. The names kept coming. It was heart-rending, touching and unforgettable!
As I reflect I am awed with the memory of the candle that grew and multiplied. The technical aspect of how that happened is with many mirrors strategically placed as the spiral walkway wound through the room. The connection with the One Who declared Himself to be the Light of the World is unmistakable! Isn't the design of the Children's Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem a parable of just what Jesus meant when He said that WE also are the light of the world?! We take our light from Him and as we reflect His light our light also shines. With the mirrors in the museum there is more and more light in the room! But all that light is really only a reflection of the one true light!
Whether we celebrate Passover or Easter's Good Friday today, there is a sense in which we celebrate death. Passover is celebrating that the death angel passed over the homes of those covered by the blood on the doors of their homes! Good Friday celebrates the day Jesus laid His life down to push back darkness for all time! He endured the most intense darkness when He was even rejected by His Father. Think of it! The Light of the World was in utter darkness in order that we who trust Him can live in light and have life forever!
In my musing and pondering today I have also been thinking about the church - not the buildings and the people connected to those buildings - but rather that "invisible" Body of believers around the world that live and breathe to reflect the Light of the World to a dark, dying world of men who don't even know that they are walking in the darkness of death. How does the church show light that pushes back darkness? How does the church reach out with the words of Life?
We shine light to push back the darkness as we reach out to include ALL in our hearts, our homes and our individual churches! THAT's what being light is all about!
How deep the Father's love for us, how vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son to make a wretch His treasure!
How great the pain of searing loss! The Father turns His face away!
As wounds which mar the Chosen One, bring many sons to glory!
Behold the Man upon a cross, my sin upon His shoulders.
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers!
It was my sin that left Him there until it was accomplished.
His dying breath has brought me life I know that it is finished!
I will not boast in anything - no gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ - His death and resurrection!
Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart - His wounds have paid my ransom. --Stuart Townend

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Looking Through His Eyes ... High Above My Petty Problems!

Not a good day today - up before crack of dawn to drive an hour to school - teaching 6 Latin classes - started home with list of PO stop, bank, grocery, library, etc. First stop: PO. Last stop: PO! Mailed bill pay envelopes but car didn't even yawn when I decided to proceed down my list. Call AAA ONLY my cell phone was also out of juice SO - good thing the PO person likes me because I had to "borrow" the PO phone to call AAA and dial a friend to pick me up.
Didn't know they start dead batteries these days with a neat little portable gizmo that zaps the battery and starts it right up! That's a good thing as it shows my inexperience with dead batteries!
AND so it goes .........
Feeling like I might want to trade lives with someone ONLY then I read an email from two friends: one has two special needs kids (one with hemophilia) and that child is in crisis right now; the other is expecting a child with Trisomy 13 - a more than difficult path!
Suddenly dead phones and batteries don't seem so big! Nothing like shining the light of perspective on any problem!
Helps me to see this world through different eyes AND, hopefully, with a different heart!

Let me see this world, dear Lord, as though I were looking through Your eyes.
A world of men who don't want You Lord, but a world for which You died.
Let me kneel with You in the garden, Blur my eyes with tears of agony;
For if once I could see this world the way You see, I just know I'd serve You more faithfully.

Let me see this world, dear Lord, through Your eyes when men mock Your holy name.
When they beat You and spat upon You, Lord, let me love them
as You loved them just the same.
Let me stand high above my petty problems, and grieve for men, hell bound eternally;
For if once I could see this world the way You see, I just know I'd serve You more faithfully.

"Looking Through His Eyes" - Words and music by Mike Otto arranged by David T. Clydesdale;
copyright 1979 by John T. Benson Publishing Company

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Special Needs Parenting and "Heart Trouble"

Parents of children with special needs seem to endlessly be walking into
trouble. Whether it's the crisis of a hospital stay, troubles with treatments
or challenges with school, the stress never seems to end. Even daily life can
be a trial that most others will never understand. We are sleep deprived,
financially stretched, socially outcast, verbally assaulted, harassed by doctors
and insurance companies. Most days, merely by getting out of bed, we're heading
into some sort of unique situation that requires creative problem-solving or
teamwork. As we reflect this week on the One who gives us hope, will we set our
face like flint and walk holding His hand through our troubles? He has more
than proven Himself more than worthy of our full trust!With every trial
we face, we can ask ourselves, Will I let it be wasted or will I let this
heartache serve an eternal purpose? Granted, we are imperfect, sinful humans.
But will we, in the final analysis, be able to look back at our challenges and
say, I let the One who calmed the wind and the waves get me through them! What
a blessing it is when we can know for certain that our suffering was not in
vain! And each difficulty we come through with God's help allows us to set our
face like flint for the next one. If He's seen us through before, He will
again.It's a lighthearted stress-release to roll our eyes and wish
ourselves to be on a beach eating bonbons while enjoying tropical breezes. As
long as it's a humorous coping mechanism and not a permanent detour to an
attitude of bitter entitlement, it's okay. Venting to a trusted friend or being
comforted by loved ones is a healthy way to deal with things. But our goal
should be to become like Jesus in ever-increasing measure, knowing that we can
do everything through Him because He gives us the strength. (See 2 Corinthians
3:18 & Philippians 4:13)As you go through these final days before
Easter, quiet yourself and notice how Jesus faced His certain death head-on.
Sit in admiration of His unmatched courage. Soak in the overwhelming gratitude
that rolls over you as you consider what He did for you. And renew your
commitment to follow the Savior who was undaunted by even the most horrendous
adversity. With what He faced, is there anything that He cannot help you to

This blog post by my friend Barb Dittrich of Snappin' Ministries says what's in my heart as huge for this Easter week and always! You can read Barb's blog daily at

Monday, April 2, 2012

Parade of Triumph in Ancient Rome

Hardly the place to find a connect with Scripture - Latin class - but the history reading for this week is on the grand parades Roman conquerors had when they came back to Rome after some stunning victory.
Reading about this Roman custom is very instructive to understanding - actually with new eyes - 2 Corinthians 2:14. Paul says, "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, ..."
In this Easter week it's way cool to reflect on some of the words in my Latin text as they are hauntingly reminiscent of the passion of Christ!
  • One of the most sensational events ... in ancient Rome was the triumph of a victorious general. This was not an honor which could easily be won. ... He must have conquered in person ...and added new territory to the empire.
  • Wow! - Isn't that exactly what Jesus did from His cross and from His tomb?!
  • The conquering Roman general paraded his captives just as we also are trophies of His grace who become willing bond-servants of Jesus the King!
  • Jesus' victory over sin, death and the grave were won at great cost to the Savior and to the Father who had to turn His back on His beloved Son - all because He bore our sins!

Isn't it amazing how God can use even the "foolish things of this world" to teach us heavenly truths that will sink deeply into our hearts?!