Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Assist over the Line

Yesterday was this year's run of the Boston Marathon - calmer, less exciting than last year for sure which is a very good thing!  Some time after the winning runner crossed the finish line, another runner approached with flagging strength.  He collapsed just short of the goal!  The runner behind him didn't just push on by.  He stopped to help.  Soon four runners were carrying the fallen runner over the finish line.

I often feel like the fallen runner - biting the dust in a moment just short of the finish, totally running on fumes.  Who comes along behind makes all the difference!  Does he or she stop to give an assist over the line?  OR does he or she power on with his or her own agenda in view?

It's costly to stop!  None of the five runners completed the race according to the rules, but my view is that all won more than the first man to cross over.  They won on care points!

Many years ago (and perhaps many times since) another man fell in the dust. He too was picked up and carried by four friends who even took the roof off a house in the Middle East to assist him over the line.  They carried him down the street and up the stairs outside a house to the roof, removed enough roof tiles to lower their friend inside right in front of the One who could give their friend the greatest assist of all!  (Their story is recorded in Mark 2:1-12.)

The four friends made the difference in both circumstances!  Sitting here at my computer on a rainy Tuesday morning I'm wondering who I will encounter today who will need an assist over the line. I'm hoping I won't power on by but will know the need and stop to do what I can!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Two Little Stones

I saw something drop dead amazing today! 

I was driving along Liberty Avenue toward downtown Pittsburgh and came to a stoplight. It was red so I glanced over to the sidewalk where two workmen were breaking up part of the sidewalk. They caught my attention when I saw one pick up two pieces of broken concrete, walk over to the nearby fence and throw them over the fence onto the back of a truck parked in the lot. Then the other man slowly picked up two more pieces and did the same thing. I'm talking about slightly larger than palm-sized pieces.  Like I said, drop dead amazing! And, I'm just guessing but I bet they are paid pretty well - overpaid based on effort and performance!

Not that they would care but I couldn't help thinkingWhatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men... (Colossians 3:23) 

And, then I have to ask myself, Self, when you pick up big rocks and carry them, who are you doing it for?

THAT's what makes all the difference!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter 2014 - Be an Easter Person in a Good Friday World

I know God's story is all about restoration, how He is working to redeem a people for Himself and to restore His broken creation of its former glory.  God made us to be in relationship with Him and with each other.  All that became horribly twisted and broken beyond repair - except by God's intervention - in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve CHOSE to walk another path away from God.

Today my husband preached an Easter message.  He didn't step away from his current series in the book of Joshua which has been the usual pattern through many years of ministry.  Instead he brought Easter to life in a sermon from Joshua 11 - 12.  Some people don't like the Old Testament especially all the battles and seeming destruction.  Not me!  Not that I like battles and destruction. I don't!  But I have learned in life that battles and destruction on many levels are part of the cycle of life and particularly part of God's redemptive plan.

I will be posting the sermon manuscript at www.arestorationchurch.org if you want to read more, but I am posting here the children's page I write each week to go along with the sermon.  I think you'll see what I mean!

By the way, Happy, Happy Easter!

Children’s Page

It’s Friday BUT Sunday’s Coming!

Joshua 11 – 12

It’s Sunday! It’s Easter Sunday! That’s a LONG way from Joshua chapters 11 & 12!  Just wait and see ‘cause they do relate!
In Joshua 11 there’s a king named Jabin. He’s been sitting around on his throne reading reports and hearing from messengers about all the battles General Joshua and his army have been fighting and winning!

NOW the army of Israel is marching north. They have finished their “southern campaign” and are headed toward Jabin and his little kingdom.  Jabin has heard some pretty scary stuff about the sun standing still for two days while God helped Israel win a big battle and about God throwing smart bombs made out of ice (big hailstones) straight out of heaven to kill the enemy soldiers.  Jabin decides it’s time to call his neighbor kings together and make a plan. So, all these big bad boys who are kings in the northern part of what is Israel today have a big pow-wow!  They put all their soldiers and weapons together in one humongous army. Israel’s army were all foot soldiers.  These bad kings all had lots of horses and chariots, lots and lots of them! It was really, really scary looking at all these wild soldiers.  Some of them were even giants!  They were totally bad and scary along with all their snorting war horses and battle chariots!
What these bad boy kings didn’t know just yet was that Israel had the most secret “weapon” of all! Israel had God on their side!  When they entered into Canaan Land, God promised to give them all the land where they put their feet.  God promised to give them victory!  These bad kings thought they had the upper hand because they had so many soldiers and so many horses and so many chariots.  Psalm 20:7 says, Some trust in horses, some in chariots, but we trust the Lord our God!  GOD was on Israel’s side!!!

The northern kings and their armies had never come up against the God of heaven and earth in a battle before.  They were fixin’ to find out WHO God is, and it wasn’t going to turn out very well for them.  In fact, it took a really long time – maybe as long as 7 years – but eventually Israel won every battle and conquered every city and destroyed every king and his kingdom.  God kept His promise!  God DID give them every piece of land where they put their feet!  God wasn’t worried.  He knew He would win in the end!  AND HE DID!  Joshua and his army won every battle and conquered every kingdom!  The Bible says that God handed all these big bad kings and their armies over to General Joshua and the Israelites! God and Israel won!
NOW we get to the Easter part!  On the day we call Good Friday – the day when Jesus died on the cross, it was a very sad day!  All Jesus’ friends were so sad and discouraged while they watched Jesus die.  It seemed like the world had come to an end!  All their hopes and dreams had blown up!  Jesus was supposed to be the one who came from heaven to make everything go right, and now He was dead!  It was very sad and very scary!
But like when the kings of the north started fighting General Joshua and Israel’s army, it wasn’t about how many soldiers or horses or battle chariots an army had.  The BIG question was: Is God on your side?  When God is on your side, then that’s all that really matters!  And God had a plan, and He was working His plan!
That’s the same way it was on that sad Friday when Jesus’ friends took his dead body down off the cross and buried Jesus’ body.  It seemed like everything was all busted – like nothing would ever be right again!  BUT, O joy!  God had a plan!  God was working His plan!
Jesus’ friends Nick and Joe buried Jesus in Joe’s brand new tomb carved into the limestone rock.  They rolled a gigantic stone over the door into the tomb and went away very sadly! That was Friday night!  Nothing moved; there was no sound all Friday night, all day Saturday and all Saturday night…………..THEN just before dawn on Sunday – even before there was any light – Shazam! There was LIGHT and THUNDER and an EARTHQUAKE and suddenly the stone rolled away and Jesus just came walking out of that tomb like He had never been dead! 
Who would have thought that as dead as Jesus was on Friday, that by Sunday morning very early Jesus would be alive, walking around?!
Remember that plan God has? Well, Jesus rising from the dead on that first Easter morning was the biggest part of God’s plan ever!  Jesus had to die so he could take the punishment you and I deserve for all the ways we have not obeyed God, but Jesus also had to come back to life to prove His power over death! AND He did!  EASTER is the BEST news ever!  Friday before Easter was a sad, sad day!  BUT Sunday was and is coming!  When it gets here, it will be the best day ever because Jesus IS alive forever! 

It is Easter morning!  Jesus is alive!  AND HE LOVES YOU!