L     Martyrs

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By the time you read this, I will be in Oklahoma on a mission trip to the headquarters of Voice of the Martyrs. I’m spending the week packing boxes for the families of those in places like Afghanistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, etc.,—places where to name the Name of Christ is to literally lay your life on the line. These Christians face persecution and the possibility of dying every day of their lives. My life is no more on the line this week than it is any other day, but being here I can’t help but ask the question—am I ready to lay it all on the line for Christ? If the moment came, would I be able to say, “Yes, I love Jesus!” if I knew the cost would be someone chopping off of my head? I certainly hope the answer would be a resounding “yes!”

Stephen was the first Christian martyr, but down through the centuries many have faced this consequence of their faith. All of the disciples except John faced excruciating deaths. Legend has it Peter was crucified upside down at his own request because he believed he wasn’t worthy to die the same way Jesus did. Many other early Christians were also boiled in oil, sawed in half, beheaded, crucified, fed to lions, etc. at the hands of the Romans and other groups seeking to squash this new “rebellious sect.” Later, the Romans tried a new tactic, “If you can’t lick them, join them,” and made Christianity the official religion of the “Holy Roman Empire.” In the name of Jesus, they killed and conquered much of the known world. That’s not at all what Jesus taught.

  • Perversion of the faith worked much better than the attempts to squash it. Reading the Bible was highly discouraged, so the only version of the truth heard by the masses was what was fed to them by the Catholic Church. By the time of the Reformation, most of the so-called Christians worshipped the pope much more than they ever did Jesus, so a whole new set of martyrs had to step up to risk their lives by speaking out the truth.  America was settled by many of those seeking freedom to worship God.

Today the threat comes to us not from the church, but from those who either worship another god, no god, or Satan himself. All three have the same end result. We never thought we’d see a day of persecution here in America, but it’s come. Maybe it’s not as overt here as other places yet, but when bakers can lose everything they own for not baking a cake, or doctors for refusing to do an abortion, etc., other punishments for faith cannot be far behind. Are we ready?

I doubt it. Too many churches have taught an easy salvation. They’ve taught God is Love and left out the God is Holy. People have a concept of God as a Sugar Daddy to give them peace and comfort and supply all their needs. Their “faith”  is limited to a Sunday morning church attendance, and God is conveniently left behind as they go to bars, sleep around, have affairs, or generally continue the life of sin they never left behind.

Salvation isn’t easy. It cost God His Son. It has to cost us our will. Jesus isn’t Savior if He isn’t our Lord.  Repentance literally means “turn away.” It doesn’t mean “add to.” Repentance is hard. We can’t do it on our own. It only comes through a daily surrender to Jesus. This is the faith that will get us through our daily struggles. This is the faith that will allow us to face that moment when the challenge to our faith comes.

Maybe it never will. The disciple John lived to an old age. Why? Why was he the only one who never had to face an executioner’s axe? It was probably because he was the only disciple who stood at the foot of the cross. He was already willing to die for his Lord. He had nothing to prove—not to God, nor to himself. He had a PhD in faith.

Where would you rate yours?

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His Faithful Love

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School starts this week. I sure am going to miss my little guy running around here all day. It seems like school has such a short break nowadays. We used to be out from Memorial Day to Labor Day. They get out earlier in Georgia, but they go back the first week in August. It seems like there is no real summer. As he goes back, I really need to get back to work too. I’ve been slacking off on my writing. My excuse was I no longer had a publisher, and nobody seems to care whether I write or not. The truth is that doesn’t matter. God has called me to write, and as long as He leaves me here on this earth, I’m to be a writer.

I can take a vacation though. Last weekend I was in North Carolina with my friend Krystal. We spent four days swimming and hiking. I definitely got my exercise in. Saturday, we hiked to two waterfalls and to the top of Hanging Rock. Who do we see there, but my ex-husband and his girlfriend. What are the odds of that? Any statisticians out there?

I fell as Krystal and I came down the mountain. A bunch of young people and teenagers stopped, tended my minor wounds, and helped me down the rest of the way. Their kindness and attention was a gentle reminder of God’s faithful love. I’ve had so many of those in my life.

Don’t you love the way God does that? The first Mother’s Day after Kara died, a rose bush bloomed in my back yard that had never bloomed before. When we went to spread her ashes, nine butterflies came and feasted on them. Long before that, when Wade and I were struggling financially when the two older kids were small (before Kara was born), God sent yellow bricks as an underpinning for our yellow mobile home.  They were exactly what we wanted even though our prayer was for the money to buy them, not for the bricks themselves. God bypassed the middle man.

He knows our needs before we know them ourselves. As a small child, my next door neighbor started taking me to church with her. I didn’t have a great childhood, and God knew I needed Him early in my life. I hardly remember a time He wasn’t there. That doesn’t mean I don’t know when I was saved. I definitely do. It means that long before that, He was already there, teaching me to love Him, teaching me I could trust Him, showing me what love is. I didn’t even know that.

My parents never loved each other. Or maybe they did once, long before I was born. My dad did love us, but he didn’t seem to know how to show it when we were young. He worked hard all his life. He provided for us well. But until he married Sandy, my stepmother, I never saw him hug or kiss anyone. That’s not true. He and my mom did kiss once, right before their divorce, when he was being installed as Monarch of his lodge, but it wasn’t much of a kiss, definitely not the kind movie legends are made of.  Still, it gave me hope—a hope that was soon quashed.

For years, I thought I had escaped that curse. I thought I had the perfect love, the perfect marriage. I should have known there is no such thing. God’s love is the only perfect love. We’re human. We fail. He never does.

My divorce and my daughter’s death is the darkest time in my life. It was hard to see through to the light of His love. But even then, I knew that He had not forsaken me. He kept sending those little reminders. Thank You, Lord, for Your faithful Love.

 

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Our Awesome God

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This is my birthday week. I’ve always had a thing about my birthday, because I was born on my mom’s twentieth birthday, and when I was young no one ever remembered it was my birthday too. It was always her birthday. I was an afterthought if I was remembered at all. Mom received cards addressed to Edie and daughter or even Edie and Becky because they knew one of her kids was born on her birthday but they guessed wrong..

My mom had four children, and most of the time she couldn’t keep our names straight. I always told the joke that I was sixteen before I realized my name wasn’t “Butch, Becky, Sandra, ____ I mean Teresa!” It’s always thrilled me that God knows my name. He remembers my birthday. He says He knows the number of hairs on my head. Unfortunately, that number seems to diminish every day. But He still keeps track.

So what does that mean? That I’m special? Well, yes. I’m special to Him because I’m His child. But even though He has many, many children, He knows every detail about every one of their lives. He never gets them mixed up. That’s the God we serve. It says so much more about Who He is than it does about us. Far from being the Deist’s idea of an aloof and distant being, He’s an up close and personal God Who shows His love for us every day of our lives.

Have you ever watched a sunrise on the ocean? Watched lightning light up the sky from the safety of your front porch as a thunderstorm raged?  Or examined the petals of an exotic flower? These are just a few of the glorious gifts of Father gives us, not just on our birthday, but every day. His blessings surround us daily. It’s our job to recognize them as the manna for our soul they truly are. And be thankful for them.

We’ve been studying the Psalms this quarter in our Connect Group. The Psalmists loved to sing praises to their God. But they were only continuing a tradition that had been passed down through the generations. The songs of the Israelites permeate the Old Testament. Moses and Miriam celebrated in song as did Deborah and Barak. David hired musicians and danced before the Lord. That tradition of musical praise continues to this day. I love the old Gospel hymns. But I also love the contemporary choruses. The important thing isn’t the manner or expression, but the God they exalt. We serve a mighty and awesome God, and He is worthy of all our praise.

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Declaration of Dependence

Boston trip 003 Some people seem to think today that the founding fathers desired a government free from religion, but nothing could be further from the truth. Did you know that although it is a short document, the Declaration of Independence directly refers to God three times?

It refers to “Nature’s God,” recognizing His sovereignty over all of nature. We know Jesus calmed the wind and the storms. What else might that include?—Plants, trees, animals, man, so pretty much everything.

Next it calls Him Creator. Hmmm. These “Deists” knew who made them.

And finally it recognizes Him as the Sovereign Judge, and asks Him to judge the righteousness of their actions. Doesn’t particularly sound like they thought He was aloof and uncaring at all. It sounds more like they believed He would understand the oppression and tyranny they faced, and they hoped He would be on their side.

The founding fathers knew their Bible. They knew the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, of Joshua at the battle at Jericho, of Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, of the Psalms extolling the Commander of Angel Armies. This is the God they wanted on their side, the One Who would fight their battles for them.  I believe to them, the Bible was their Declaration of Dependence on God alone. I also believe that’s the reason God has so blessed this nation for the last 241 years. Although there were some who were determined to make Washington their king, he was adamantly against the idea of any king. Maybe he learned that lesson from Israel too.

But just as the nation of Israel faced chastisement for its rebellions, this nation could be in for a rude awakening if it continues on the path it’s on these days. The blood of sixty plus million babies cries out just as Abel’s did. When will it be avenged?

That’s not our only sin though. Morality has become “intolerance” or “hate.” Excuse me? I don’t hate anyone. It’s against my religion. Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Religious liberty has never been in such jeopardy in our country as it is right now. Freedom of religion has become freedom from religion. They won’t even call it that anymore. They say freedom of worship. Their concept of worship is that it must be a private act that must not affect your public life in any way.  That is not the worship described in the Bible. Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “You shall love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Such love cannot be constrained to a church building on a Sunday morning. It permeates every fiber of your being 24/7.  But such love also speaks the truth in love. God is love. God is also holy, and He desires His children to be holy also. It’s certainly not easy in this culture. It takes a Declaration of Dependence on Him alone and then following through on that commitment.

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Yes, I Know I’m Weird

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How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers. Psalm 1:1 (NASB)

      I received an encouraging Facebook message Monday from a reader. It meant so much to me. Yet, I admit, I’m terrible about sending cards or writing notes to other people. I do it a little bit more now that I can do it on Facebook, but still I don’t do it enough. And I don’t call on the telephone either. I’ll talk for hours when someone calls me, but I don’t pick up the phone unless I have something specific to say. As much as I loved my ex-husband, I didn’t even call him at work unless there was a major emergency.

Lynellen Perry identified this as because I’m an introverted extrovert or an extroverted introvert; I’m not sure which, and of course she wasn’t talking specifically about me. I’d never heard of such a thing before. I’d just always thought it was just because I’m weird. I admit it. I am. I have taken a personality test, and it agreed with me. I’m weird. But sometimes I think the world needs more weird people. Too many blindly follow the crowd. That’s never been a problem for me. I was always the outsider.

I got a notice for jury duty today, and naturally it made me think back to the last time I served on a jury. I always knew if I ever served on one I’d be the odd man out, and sure enough, I was. It was like I didn’t even listen to the same trial everyone else did. They were more interested in the prosecutor’s gray “Matlock” suit and where his client had spent her summer vacation than in the facts of the case, or even that the defendant had pleaded guilty. To them, it was a case of the “rich b____” picking on the poor little pizza delivery guy. To me, their attitude was clearly reverse discrimination. I’ve never forgiven myself for finally giving in to their bullying. I wouldn’t do it again.

In Pastor Derek’s absence, Pastor Glen Rowden preached on Romans 12:2 Sunday night. He did a great job. It says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” We are not meant to be seeking to be like everyone else. We’re meant to be seeking to be more like Christ. And let’s face it; the world sees that as weird.

I’m not perfect by a long shot, and my form of “weirdness” is not yet anywhere near what God wants it to be. He’s still working on me. But I am seeking Him, and He is the One I seek to please. I think He likes weird. I know He loves me.

God bless you.

 

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DOES THE BIBLE CONTRADICT ITSELF?

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DOES THE BIBLE CONTRADICT ITSELF?

A friend recently asked me if I had heard of the doctrine of “Two Creations.” She sent me an email about the creation account in Genesis 1 versus the creation account in Genesis 2, which the writer says are contradictory. I warned her that I thought the doctrine was dangerous and false because if we are not all descended from Adam, how then, did we all inherit his sin nature?

Does the Bible contradict itself? In Matthew 7:1, it does say, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” Yet, only nineteen verses later in Matthew 7:20 it says, “So then, you will know them by their fruit.” It’s warning about false prophets who would deceive the church. So, how are we to know a false prophet when we see one without judging them?

The answer to that one is simple. We are to judge the facts. Do they line up with biblical principles? If not, they need to be summarily rejected. Those who present those facts as truth should never influence our thinking. The judgement that awaits those who would deceive God’s elect will be severe, but it’s not our place to execute that judgement. It’s kind of like when we tell our children to choose their friends wisely. We’re not telling them to be mean to anybody; only to use wisdom in deciding who to hang around with.

Anyway, according to this writer, in Genesis 1, God created “mankind” on the sixth day including both males and females, and then at a later time, “an eighth day,” he created Adam, and from him, Eve. He even claims a second animal creation after Adam and Eve were created. (Genesis 2:19) He did admit that most scholars agree the two Genesis accounts are parallel and complementary. Although I seldom find I agree with the majority, in this case, it seems so obvious. Genesis 1 is the overview, and Genesis 2 gets down to the specifics of how he created Adam and Eve. Verse 19 refers back to how the animals were created, and tells us God brought each of them to Adam to name.

I find incredible harmony in the entire Bible. It tells one story from beginning to end–His Story. It seems to me, people who find it “contradictory” are looking for trouble, even if they have to manufacture it. Many times the problem is simply semantics. We impose modern meanings onto words that never had such a meaning in the original Hebrew or Greek in which the text was written. Or conversely, we lack the understanding of the richness of the meaning of the word that was there because our English concept of the word is so shallow, and it can be far easier to read a modern commentary than to actually dig for the truth ourselves.

God bless you.

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Our Best

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Kyosahnim Miron gives CJ a “10” for his full split.

 

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed…2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB)

I guess everyone knows by now I’m a Dancing with the Stars fan. My only problem with the show is just because you win doesn’t necessarily mean you were the best dancer. It just means you were the most popular—the “star” with the biggest fan base. On Monday night’s show the four lowest scorers weren’t even in jeopardy. In previous seasons, people have gotten much further along than they ever should have, and some have been sent home when, if judged strictly on who was the best dancer, should have made it all the way to the finals. Can you imagine if your favorite sport were judged the same way? What if the Super Bowl didn’t depend on who scored the most points but who had the most avid fans? Wouldn’t that be crazy?

But it’s kind of the way society looks at things nowadays.  Striving to be the best isn’t encouraged the way it used to be. No one is ashamed of mediocrity. My kids and even my grandkids are long past the T-ball stage, but I’m told they don’t even keep score anymore. Everybody gets a turn at bat every “inning.” No one wins or loses. Being “inclusive” means everyone gets a trophy for “participation” instead of striving for excellence.

Many schools don’t even have grades anymore either. I guess everyone just “graduates” when they turn eighteen. What would that even mean in that case? Schools that still do have grades have “dumbed them down.” When I was in school 95-100 was an “A” and 90-94 was a “B.” Now, 90-100 is an “A” and 80-89 is a “B.” I read somewhere recently that a teachers’ union was irate that teachers should have to pass literacy tests. Why? Shouldn’t teachers be literate?

In the workplace, people are discouraged from working too hard. “You’re trying to make the rest of us look bad” is the bullying tactic used to keep down the work ethic. When I worked retail, I had so much trouble with this. It’s worse now. If you go into a store, it’s all you can do to get someone to ring you up. You certainly don’t expect them to wait on you! If you do, you’ll be sorely disappointed.  I recently tried to run my son-in-law’s business while he was away on vacation. I couldn’t even get his employees to show up, much less get the work done.  It doesn’t help much that the government will dole out as much for people to sit home as they can earn at most lower income jobs. 2 Thessalonians says if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat either.

The Bible teaches that we work not to please man, but to please God. We are always to give our best. It honors Him when we do. No, we will not all achieve being the best. Only one wins the prize (1 Cor. 9:24) or at least that’s the way it used to be, but the real victory is in the striving, doing our best, and becoming better in the process. Popularity isn’t the goal except in a TV show. Even there, for most of those stars, their desire is simply to get better and better each week. Sure they want to win, but they win every time they do their best.

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Demolition

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Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 (NASB)

     I spent most of Monday morning demolishing ten computers for my son-in-law. Ray has a junk removal business, and people pay him to remove what they consider to be junk. But as they say, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. In this case, computers really are, but it does take a lot of time and effort to get the most value out of them.

Still, I find it’s much quicker and easier to demolish something than it was to create it in the first place.  I couldn’t believe how many screws it took to hold one computer together. Many of them were in places completely inaccessible until I had removed another piece that interfered with its abstraction. I couldn’t help but picture the time and precision it took to put together these amazing pieces of technology. I took apart ten, and no two were exactly alike. They had been built to exact specifications to fulfill the needs of their previous owners.

In most cases, my first move was to simply drop the computer onto the concrete driveway with as much force as possible to break away as much of the plastic outer casing as I could. The outer skin of a computer may make it look nicer, but it’s worthless. It’s the internal motherboard and precious metals that are valuable. Did you know there’s a little one inch square “brain” hidden inside that’s made with gold?

So, what’s any of this got to do with anything? Sunday was Easter, and it was my privilege to attend two services Sunday morning, one at Hebron and one at 12 Stone with my daughter Kristina and her family. Although the services were entirely different, both were entirely scriptural and spoke boldly proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The 12 Stone sermon described history as a pyramid with Jesus at the apex and five Old Testament events in ascending order on one side mirrored by five New Testament events in descending order. I’d never looked at it that way before, but it made sense. The sermon title was Unscripted, and the point was most of life happens in the unscripted moments.

God made each of us. We’re all different. We have different talents and abilities. He took great care and precision giving us exactly what we’d need to face the challenges He had for us. What’s on the outside has so little importance, but for the most part, it’s all most people see or care about. God has a purpose and a plan for each life, but sin does its best to destroy that purpose and plan. Satan knows all our weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and he knows exactly when and where to strike to demolish our defenses. He may or may not do it overtly like I did to those computer casings, but he knows exactly which screws he needs to turn before he can get right to that “gold” and pluck it from you.

Fortunately, Jesus does stand guard at that apex if we’re His children, and He will never allow His children to be plundered by the enemy. What the enemy means for evil, He will use for good if we allow Him to. He can even restore the years the locusts have eaten–but only if we lean of Him, and not on our own understanding. The Bible tells us our hearts are deceptive, and they are! We need His wisdom, not our own. He didn’t just create us and leave us on our own to face life after sin had left its ravages. He redeemed us and made a way for restoration and revitalization, not just for now, but for all eternity. We’re good at demolition, but He’s much better at creation. Let Him create in each of us a clean heart and renew in us His Spirit this Easter season.

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Passion

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     The word passion has such negative connotations that I hesitate to use it for fear it may draw a lot of crazies to the blog. If it does, so be it. God may use it to bring them to Himself. This is Passion week. Thirty three years of human life with three and a half years of public ministry culminated with these last eight days that changed history forever.

The week started on Sunday with a triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding on the foal of a donkey accompanied by the donkey’s mother. I’d always assumed the donkey’s mother was there to calm the donkey down since it had never been ridden on before, but I was informed this week that having the mother there would normally have the opposite effect. Donkeys are passionate creatures, and she would ordinarily have conniption fits someone was riding her colt. But evidently Jesus calmed her fear. Why was she there then? Maybe it was symbolic. The King comes riding in on a donkey when He comes in peace, but this King came riding in, in the Name of His Father.

Immediately, Jesus stirred up the passions of the people of the city. Whether they loved Him or hated Him, no one could ignore the Carpenter of Nazareth that week. His first act was the cleansing of the Temple, an act of deliberate provocation and confrontation with the priests and power brokers of the day. He had done a similar cleansing at the very beginning of His ministry, but obviously the people had gone right back to their wicked ways.

We don’t have much information about the next couple of days, but apparently Jesus was openly preaching and teaching right there at the Temple complex for most of that time, drawing crowds of hundreds or possibly thousands to hear His marvelous words. No wonder the leaders of the Sanhedrin were so anxious to rid themselves of Him. They were afraid these crowds would rise up against them and usurp their authority. Possibly Jesus was slipping out each night, going back and forth from the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany, or maybe He never left Jerusalem at all. He had many friends who would gladly let Him stay. Wherever He stayed, it was a well-kept secret, prompting the Sanhedrin to offer Judas a large reward to betray Him.

How did they know to target Judas? The Bible tells us he was the treasurer and sometimes pilfered money from the moneybags. His passion was money. Surely Jesus knew of his thievery. Why did He not stop Judas? Why didn’t He nip the problem in the bud and confront him with his problem, and maybe stop the betrayal before it happened? God always knows our hearts and our minds, but He doesn’t usually stop us either. Freewill is that important to Him. He refuses to make us puppets. He will warn, urge, and allow consequences to teach us the lessons we need to learn, but He seldom directly intervenes to stop our determined path even when it leads to destruction.

Our next view is of Jesus sending two unnamed disciples to prepare for the Passover. They obeyed His unusual instructions without hesitation or reservation, and the feast was set. Somehow, I think there were a lot more women involved in this enterprise than we know about, but that’s another discussion for another day. All the disciples (and the women who cared for them) were passionate about their Messiah even though they didn’t at all understand His mission or His goal. But they soon would. Though they boldly proclaimed their allegiance, they would soon quake in fear and go into hiding. Would we do any less under the circumstances? It’s doubtful. We’d all like to think we’d be like John, faithful to the end, but the truth is at one time or another, we all fail. Praise God, He’s a God of second (and third and fourth) chances. Though we may falter, He is faithful. Forgiveness is readily available. All we have to do is ask for it.

Peter and ten others did. Could Judas also have been redeemed? We know he was very sorry for what he’d done. He was so sorry he hanged himself. Sorrow is not repentance. It gets us nowhere unless it leads to confession and repentance. Repentance means turning away. It’s putting self aside and seeking to make amends. Just as sorrow isn’t repentance, suicide is never the answer. It’s the ultimate form of selfishness. Yes, he could have been saved. What a testimony he might have had. But instead, he will spend eternity in hell with the devil and his angels. All for thirty pieces of silver. Is any amount of money worth that?

The Passion of the Christ is probably the most accurate movie out there depicting the crucifixion. Still, it doesn’t begin to portray the gruesome reality of the event. No one except possibly a serial killer would be able to watch it if it did. There’s an old hymn that says “He had no tears for His own griefs, but sweat drops of blood for mine.” I’m not sure I quite agree with that song. Jesus would not have been fully human as well as fully God if He hadn’t had tears over what He had to face.  Passion doesn’t deny fear. It overcomes it. Jesus’ body was beaten to a blood pulp, and when He hung there naked for all the world to see, His form was barely recognizable as human as He cried, “It is finished!” and died for our salvation. His passion for mankind is beyond our comprehension.

I can imagine Mary’s agony though as she stood there at the foot of the cross watching her son die. I’ve watched my child die a slow agonizing death. I know that pain. But to watch someone beating and purposely killing my child? I would be so furious! Talk about passion! Did she understand yet? The disciples didn’t. I don’t know whether she did or not. She’d had thirty three years to ponder the question. Did she ask Him? Could He explain? Even if she didn’t yet fully comprehend, the answer would soon come.

Thirty-six hours in a borrowed tomb, surrounded by a Roman cohort or a Temple guard, either of which would be under a sentence of an excruciating death for failure or dereliction of duty could not keep the two ton stone affixed to the door. The open door wasn’t even necessary. It was opened not to let Jesus out, but to show us He was already out! The grave clothes were empty and the face cloth was folded. “Why do you search for the living among the dead?” the angel asked.  Hallelujah for the Passion of the Christ that overcomes death itself!

The folded face cloth reminds us the story’s not over yet. Jesus will return to claim His bride-us, His church. He’s passionate for you. Are you passionate for His return?

 

 

 

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Superpowers

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You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. Acts 1:8a (NASB)

I met a lady this evening who reads even faster than I do, and I’m pretty fast. I can read a book a day, but she reads them in two hours. She has read over 400 books in the last year, and her goal is to read 500 this year. Her name is Carrie Schmidt, and she blogs her reviews at http://readingismysuperpower.org. She was the speaker at our ACFW North Georgia meeting tonight. To say I’m impressed by her reading skill is an understatement.

Our last year’s VBS theme at Hebron was Super Heroes. I had the Superman themed room. Of course Superman had all kinds of super powers—super strength, super speed, x-ray vision, etc.. So what is a superpower? Does anyone really have one? I’m not speaking in the comic book sense, although if you think about it, Batman didn’t really have any super powers either. He just took what he had (with a lot of wealth to enhance it) and did everything he could to make his world a better place. Maybe that’s what makes a superpower. It’s anything we can use in an extraordinary way to make the world better, or at least our part of it.

I was reminded of an example of this last week. A friend posted a picture of a pot holder, and asked me if I remembered making them. I sure did. Our little missions group had made bunches of them and the kids sold them to their friends and family to give an offering to our mission effort. One particular child had gone far above and beyond what had been asked. (If I remember correctly, she had made and sold over $100 in pot holders.) God used something as simple as making a pot holder to show her she had an extraordinary passion for missions. She still does. She has become an amazing young woman who is so active in the Lord’s service. I couldn’t be prouder of her.

Among my writer friends, many have what I consider superpowers. Some are simply prolific. They may not write quite as fast as Carrie can read, but still with an amazing output in sheer quantity. Others write more slowly, but can turn a phrase with such beauty and intensity that I can read it over and over to savor it like a gourmet meal. They make me laugh, cry, hope, or despair. More importantly, they point people to Jesus. As Christian writers, that’s always the goal, whether we do it overtly (I’ll admit, I’m pretty blatant, but then I set some of my books in a church, so what else could you expect from them?) or subtly and necessitating reading between the lines. Both ways will reach some, but not all. That’s okay.

Whether through writing, teaching, working in a nursery, or simply like one man I knew who was faithful to get up early every Sunday and open the doors, turn on the lights and heat or AC, we can be a part of transforming the lives of those around us.  I once knew a preacher at the local Rescue Mission who before he met Jesus had been a falling-down drunk just like many of the men he now ministered to. That’s the power of salvation. Bringing folks to Jesus–to me, this is the greatest power we can have. How do we do it?—aah, that’s where the superpower question comes in. What’s your superpower?

God bless you.

 

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