Waiting to Believe -- Holy Saturday

And in the early morning hours,
shrouded in darkness,
the chief priests and the Pharisees
went to Pontius Pilate.

And they told him:

“We remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.' So give us the order for the tomb to be made secure. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first."


And Pilate answered them:

"Take a guard.
Go, make the tomb as secure
as you know how.
So they went and made the tomb secure
sealing the stone and posting a guard there.
Matthew 27:62-66



And on that day

The Sabbath . . .

Those who had killed him rejoiced.


And those who loved him rested
according to the commandment. They waited to return to his tomb to embalm his body with spices and ointments.

And his disciples, in utter desolation,
worried that they might soon
follow him into death.

And they hid themselves from the world—



Waiting to believe . . .

ARE YOU WAITING TO BELIEVE?

(To read Part 1 of the story, click here.)

Weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:5


A Prayer for accepting Christ's gift of eternal life:

"God, I recognize that I have not lived my life for You up until now. I have been living for myself and that is wrong. I need You in my life; I want You in my life. I acknowledge the completed work of Your Son Jesus Christ in giving His life for me on the cross at Calvary, and I long to receive the forgiveness you have made freely available to me through this sacrifice. Come into my life now, Lord. Take up residence in my heart and be my king, my Lord, and my Savior. From this day forward, I will no longer be controlled by sin, or the desire to please myself, but I will follow You all the days of my life. Those days are in Your hands. I ask this in Jesus' precious and holy name."
Amen.

Hymn: Just As I Am



Art print: Waiting for the Believers by Allan Bruce Zee Portland, OR



Remember This Day -- Good Friday

It began in darkness . . .

And after taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." Luke 22:17-19

And after this, he went away from them to the garden. He knelt down and prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." And an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22:42-44

And in darkness they came for him. With swords and clubs and the betrayal of a kiss from one whom he loved.

In this hour—
darkness reigned.




“I do not know him.”

“I was never with him."

“I am not one of his!”


In the mourning,
His beloved ran from him.

Left him to suffer alone.

Mocked. Whipped. Humiliated.

Wearing a crown of thorns, He was crucified.

And a written notice above him read:
THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Luke 23:38

Nailed to a cross, broken and dying, he uttered words that transcend history.

Echoing even now.
Today.

Good Friday.



Father, forgive them . . . (Luke 23:34)


This day you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43)


Woman, behold your son . . .(John 19:26-27)


My God, my God . . . (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34)


I thirst. (John 19:28)

It is finished! (John 19:30) . . .

And darkness came over the whole land, for the sun stopped shining. And in this darkness, he cried out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." And when he had said this, he breathed his last.
Luke 23:44-46


And there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph. He took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and then he departed. Matthew 27:57-60

And as it began, it ended in darkness --

this Day
Good Friday.




WHO WAS THIS ONE THAT THEY CRUCIFIED?
THIS MAN THEY CALLED THE KING OF THE JEWS?
THE ONE CLOTHED IN FLESH, THE ONE WITH NO BEGINNING AND WITHOUT END.



As you leave this place,
go with PEACE and HOPE.
On this Holy day,

May Jesus Christ,
who for YOUR sake gave his life so that YOU might live,

keep you and strengthen you.
Amen.



Hymn: Were You There




April is the Cruelest Month

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.
Isaiah 43:2 NKJV


In one of his poems, T. S. Eliot wrote: “April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.” I remember studying these words in a college literature class. The professor explained that President Lincoln’s assassination had inspired Eliot’s poem. Lincoln was killed in April, which is the month symbolic of hope and renewal of life. The President was shot on Good Friday, April 14, 1865 while attending a performance of a comedy. There is certain irony in that.

Like T.S. Eliot, I understand this paradox of life and death. I always approach April with trepidation. The month has been cruel to me. Each week in April holds a not so pleasant anniversary. My dad died on April 4th and my mom on April 11th. My grandmother died on the 19th, and on April 26th I lost a wonderful job at a company where I had worked for 20 years. All of these April events occurred in different years, so you can understand why I enter April with a certain degree of anxiety.

There is one special anniversary, though, that soothes my fear of April. It is the anniversary of the date I became a Christian. I was born into eternal life on April 3rd, 1985.

As I approach my 25th birthday in Christ during this Holy Week of Easter, I remember that God designed the date He saved me with a purpose. In His greatness, He knew that I would face many April valleys, and by saving me in that month, He assured me that I would never walk through them alone.

With each April crisis, I found enormous strength in His love. When I was lonely, He brought me friends and family for companionship. When I was so tired I could barely stand, I found rest by letting Him carry my burdens. When I hungered for the sadness to end, His Holy Spirit gave me courage to endure. When I was hopeless, my faith gave me hope.

April is my month. It is when God breeds lilacs out of dead land. It is where old memories are mixed with the desire to move on. It comes with the sweet freshness of God’s spring rain that nourishes the dull winter roots of my life and nudges them to grow.

"I thank God and I praise Him
for the sunset that lifts my spirit,
the morning that lets my
soul take flight in search
of wildflowers, the songbirds that
waken my world. And I
thank God for His presence
in my life, for family and friends,
for joy and even sorrows
that strengthen my life, for
the awareness that
God's love is the essence of
all happiness, the bond between
heaven and earth."
~Neil Fitzgerald~

Thank you, God, for my birthday gift. Thank you for all of my Aprils.



video

Steve Green : In Brokenness You Shine
Songwriters: Green, Steve; Herms, Bernie; Mckelvey, Doug;

Video by Jean Fischer




Throwing Stones At Those Who Mourn

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Matthew 5:4

When I started this blog , the idea was to help readers see God through ordinary, everyday things. My plan was never to use this space as a platform for my own opinions; however, last week something happened in my community that I feel so strongly about that I cannot keep it to myself. I hope you won’t mind if I share it with you.

Here is the backstory:

On Monday, March 8, an elderly, unlicensed driver ran a red light and broadsided a car as its driver made a left turn. There were five people riding in the car including a four-year-old boy. The boy was the only person critically injured in the crash. Seated between his parents in the backseat, he was not in a car seat but was restrained by a seat belt. On Wednesday, March 10, little Michael died from the traumatic brain injury he suffered in the accident.


On most mornings, I read my local newspaper online, and I always scan readers’ comments about the front-page stories. The accident was on the front page for several days. It spurred nearly a hundred comments about unlicensed drivers and the use of car seats for children ages eight and under. Here is a sampling:

“The roads are full of all kinds of morons . . . that parent who didn’t put his kid in a safety seat is a moron as well.”

(The writer of this next comment started with the elderly driver’s Hispanic surname.)
“Well, do we know if the old man was illegal? I’ll bet this is not the only time he has been convicted for other reasons. What a big-time loser.”


(There were only a few comments like this one.)
“I'm keeping Little Michael and his family in my thoughts and prayers, praying for a miracle. I also pray for the elderly driver in the van. I can't imagine how he is feeling at this time either. If there's anything we can do to help Michael and his family -- we're here for you.”


(Someone's response)
“Your thoughts are wonderful, but didn’t you read the article? 2/3's of the child's brain isn't functioning anymore, and he’s on life support. I don't at all mean to sound cold or harsh, but get real, he isn't coming out of this, okay?”


(And this comment from a member of the little boy’s family.)
“Please! Please!! This is not the place or time to be talking about if they should have him in a car seat or what they should have done. His parents know what they should have done and they are devastated. They don’t need to read this stuff. If you don't have anything nice to say out of respect to our family and Michael, who is very critical, then please keep your comments to yourself. Thank you....”


(Followed by this "heartfelt" response)
“For those who say lay off the negative comments ‘cause everyone in the family feels like crap, well they should feel like crap!”


Maybe I’ve misjudged the extent that evil has crept into the world, but I expected most of the comments to support this family and the elderly driver in their time of need. Don’t get me wrong -- I’m not saying that car seats aren’t important and that it isn’t wrong to drive without a license, but this forum was not the place to discuss it while the little boy was on life support in a local hospital. Where is compassion anymore? I’m not a fan of censorship, but I do wish that the newspaper had closed comments out of respect to this dear little boy and his family. May he rest safely in Jesus’ arms.
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." John 8: 1-11
Amen.




Stubborn Etta Sits on a Posthole

You are nothing more than a stubborn cow – so stubborn that I, the LORD,
cannot feed you like lambs in an open pasture.
Hosea 4:16 (CEV)


Great-Grandma Etta was an iron-willed, old German woman. She stood six-feet tall and, to put it politely, she had a sturdy build. When something upset Etta, nobody got in her way.

During the summer of 1900, the telephone company arrived to install wooden poles and string phone lines along Lake Avenue where Etta lived. She was eager to get a telephone, but Etta wasn’t thrilled when a workman came along with a posthole digger. He set the blade at a spot parallel to her front door and took a bite out of the grassy parkway.

Etta stormed out of the house. “Vat are you doing? You cannot put a post der!”

The workman was tall, like Etta, and just as broad. “Yeah, well, it’s goin’ there,” he said. “We put ‘em an equal distance apart, and this one goes here.”

Etta threw back her shoulders and raised her chin. “Not in my front yard,” she said.

The workman leaned on the handle of the digger. “Lady, this isn’t your front yard. This grassy strip here, along the street, it belongs to the city.”

“Den da city vil have to make udder plans,” Etta said. “Because I do NOT give my permission.”

The workman shook his head, snickered and plunged the digger's blade into the ground. He may as well have stuck a knife into Etta’s heart. Thank goodness a neighbor came out just then and calmed her down. Etta stood with hands on hips watching the man dig. “You vil not put a post in dat hole,” she warned. “I vil not look out my front vindow at an ugly old post!”

The workman ignored her. He finished digging and quickly moved on.


All day long, Etta sat by her front window waiting for the post truck to arrive. When the truck finally rolled down Lake Avenue carrying poles and four workmen, Etta bolted out the front door and did the unthinkable. She sat down on top of the posthole. “Over my dead body!” she shouted to the men.

They tried to reason with Etta, but she wouldn’t listen. They even tried to pick her up and get her off the hole, but Etta dug in her heels and resisted. Finally, someone summoned the police.

Officer Mahoney walked the beat on Lake Avenue, and he’d spent many summer evenings sipping lemonade on Etta’s front porch. It worried him when he saw her plopped there on the posthole. “Etta! Why in the world are you sitting on the ground?” He reached for her hand, and she took it. Believe me, no one else could have gotten Etta off of that hole. You see, she trusted Mahoney’s judgment. After only a few gentle words, he convinced Etta to let the men set the post.

Are you stubborn like Etta? Are you resisting God? Then reach out, take His hand and let him pull you off your posthole. His Word says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1).

Dear Lord, Whenever I'm stubborn, speak gently to my heart and guide me toward your perfect will. Amen



Book Sneeze Review -- Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts, Third Edition







Sometimes when I study my Bible, I wish I knew more about biblical history. I wonder about the Bible’s authors, and I try to understand specifically where in our modern world certain Bible events happened. So, when I had the opportunity to review The Third Edition of Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts, I jumped at the chance. I’m glad that I did, because this excellent reference book has become my most used Bible study guide.







The maps and charts exceeded my expectations. They are beautifully illustrated and easy to understand. Best of all, they go beyond the basics. For example, look at this map showing the journey of the Ark of the Covenant and also the floor plan of Herod’s temple.





After you buy the book, you can go to the Thomas Nelson web site and download a free copy of the charts and maps for your non-commercial use. What a great idea for bible study groups and Sunday school classes!

All of the material is presented in a style that is interesting and easy to read. Along with the helpful visual aids, Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts includes a brief overview of each book of the Bible, its possible author(s), an outline of the book and related dates, and its theme and literary structure. Readers will also find historical articles providing insight into Bible times.

This 500-page softcover book is an indispensable resource guide, perfect for Bible study and simple enough to use in a homeschool curriculum. The average retail price of around $14 is a bargain, especially because it includes the free downloads.

I highly recommend that you add The Third Edition of Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts to your home library. It is one of those reference books that won't stay on the shelf gathering dust.




Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
NEW FROM THOMAS NELSON

CLICK ON THE BOOK TO PREVIEW. VIEW THE BOOK TRAILER BELOW.
FROM BARBOUR BOOKS
I'm proud to be a contributing author to the following series of humorous devotionals.
And check out my "Kid's Bible Dictionary" and pre-teen mysteries, also from Barbour.

See all the books in the Camp Club Girls series.

See all the books in the Camp Club Girls series.
Click on the picture.
I am the author of these books, but I have not been compensated for mentioning them on this blog or linking them to the seller's website. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

By Max Lucado, Published by Thomas Nelson
Max Lucado has a unique way with words, and his children's book Hermie A Common Caterpillar is no exception. With simple text and bright, watercolor illustrations, the story of Hermie unfolds.

Hermie wonders why he looks and feels so common. Whenever he asks God why, God simply answers, "I'm not finished with you yet." Then, one day, Hermie feels very tired. He gets into his cozy, leafy bed, and he sleeps. And while Hermie sleeps a transformation takes place. When he wakes up, Hermie discovers that God has done something grand. You can guess what it is. Every caterpillar that lives to adulthood knows the end of the story.

Parents, please share this book and its powerful message with your children. We are all special because God loves us, and He has a unique purpose for our lives. Whenever we slump into feeling ordinary, we know that we have hope because . . .God isn't finished with us yet!


*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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