Sunday, April 29, 2012

When Jesus Says "You Must Follow Me"

Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then He said to him, “Follow Me!”

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow Me." ~ John 21:18-22, NIV

It was an extremely busy time at our church this morning. Besides our usual three service times, we had baptisms during two of those services, a reception in between to honor and say ‘thank you!’ to a wonderful woman who has served God by teaching our church’s 2-3 year olds in Sunday school classes for over 50 years (can you imagine?) and then a special and very important Congregational Meeting at the end. 

To be honest, I always seem to get anxious whenever there’s a lot scheduled to take place at church -- no doubt a spiritual warfare tactic straight from the enemy of my soul.  Because that anxiety I begin to experience then generally translates into my battling to attend church that day.  Yes, I admit it -- there are times I don’t WANT to go to church (GASP!).  Sometimes, that battle takes place at home; sometimes, it takes place in the parking lot of my church.  Yet, I’ve always found that whenever I choose to respond to Jesus’s still, small voice and the offering of His love and perfect peace over the enemy’s great big mouth and his offering of nothing but chaos and anxiety by walking into the building and taking a seat, I come away blessed beyond measure.   I find there is always some particular, hand crafted message from Him awaiting me somewhere.

Today, I received it through a sermon and the celebration of baptism.

Our pastors wrapped up a sermon series entitled ‘Wake Up!’  This morning’s ‘Wake Up To Purpose’ sermon centered around John 21:18-25, where, after Jesus tells Peter to “Follow Me!”, Peter kind of side-steps the invitation and seems more interested in what’s going to happen to the young disciple John instead.

The message --

That life is about more than just ourselves and what we can gain

That Jesus’s call to “Follow Me” is specifically, tailor-made for each person

To make the decision to listen to and go where Jesus leads us, remembering Who the Leader/Teacher/Lord is and who the follower/disciple/servant is

To relinquish our quest for control, because our life is not our own

To STOP comparing our lives with someone else’s and START following Jesus

-- was distinctly personal and extremely convicting for me (and this was just in the first service!). The sermon was not the only place I heard this message in recent days. I’ve been bombarded by it in songs and two very different books I am currently reading, one fiction and one non-fiction, as well as the Bible itself. 

During the second service, the same Scripture verse was referenced, but our senior pastor shared these three points with us, complete with questions about how this was being lived out in our lives:

Love God
Obey God
Follow God

Do we -- do I -- love God enough to obey Him and follow Him however, whenever and to wherever He leads?  Again, serious questions I’ve been bombarded with again and again recently. 

All this leading up to the baptisms…….

Just for the record -- baptism itself does not save.  I’m sure most of you know this, but for years, I DID NOT know this truth. 

Being baptized is simply an act of obedience to God (Jesus Himself was baptized in the River Jordan by His cousin, John), as well as an outward sign, a public announcement, if you will, to everyone that you have already made a sincere decision AND a heartfelt commitment to follow Jesus.  During baptisms, our pastor has often described it as akin to his wearing a wedding ring, which is an outward sign to the world that he has made a serious life commitment of love to his wife. The ring itself doesn’t make him married -- it’s merely a sign, a public declaration that he ‘belongs’ to someone.

So, choosing to be baptized is a step of obedience and our public declaration that we too ‘belong’ to Someone -- Jesus Christ. It’s an outward sign that reflects the change within us, and symbolic of having our sins cleansed or ‘washed away.’

Our church has held baptism services several times a year for many years, and in our worship folders, the names of those being baptized has always been listed.  Lately, though, that has changed.  While there are always those who have called the church and asked to take part in a particular baptism on a particular date, our pastor has recently begun to open it up to anyone THE DAY OF the baptisms who has made a commitment or a recommitment to love, obey and follow the Lord and who feels moved by Him to come up to the altar and be baptized. 

Today was one such amazing, incredible day.  Young, old and in between came up this morning to be baptized.  Some shared inspiring, touching, tearful testimonies that left many of us weeping tears of joy right along with them, while cheering loudly for them as they came up out of the water. It was something to see and to hear how Jesus had relentlessly pursued them. Even though not all shared their stories, it was obvious to me that each one had heard and heeded the voice of Jesus saying “Come, follow Me!,” and were now showing their love for Him by stepping out in obedience.

One young man really captured my heart and the essence of responding to the call.  His name is Brian, and I’d never seen him nor his girlfriend at church before (our church is rather large and I don’t always stay for both services).  Both stated that neither of them had come to church this morning with the plan of being baptized.  Brian could barely contain himself as he stood behind his girlfriend, watching as she struggled to speak through her tears.  At one point, he covered his face with his hands, weeping.  It was very moving.

When his turn came, he was laughing and crying, shaking as he stood in the water while our pastor held onto him.  The joy on his face was apparent, a reflection of the change that had, at some point, taken place in his heart and in his life.  

And then, Brian spoke the words that pretty much brought down the house.  

When our pastor asked him if he had planned on coming up front and being baptized this morning, Brian said no.  And that really, he had only gotten up during the service just to go to the bathroom, and the next thing he knew, he was up in front of the church, getting ready to be baptized! 

So humorously ironic, isn’t it?  One minute, this guy’s responding to nature’s call.  And then the next minute, he’s responding to Jesus’s call (who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?).  

Hmmm… I guess after all of this rambling on, my whole point in feeling lead to share and post this today is for us to realize and remember that Jesus CAN and WILL speak to us even in our most mundane, commonplace moments and very often, in the most unexpected of ways, calling us to follow Him in loving obedience

And to wherever He leads.

We need to STOP comparing ourselves with everyone else. We need to STOP worrying about what He’s doing with our brother, our sister, our friend, our neighbor or our coworker. Basically, what is that to us?  

It should be nothing to us. 

Because Jesus says: “YOU must follow Me.”

I have decided
To follow Jesus

I have decided
To follow Jesus

I have decided
To follow Jesus

No turning back,
No turning back.....

Worship Song Sunday -- Here I Am, by Shawn McDonald

"Come to Me with empty hands and an open heart, ready to receive abundant blessings.  I know the depth and breadth of your neediness. Your life path has been difficult, draining you of strength.  Come to Me for nurture.  Let Me fill you up with My Presence; I in you, and you in Me."  ~ excerpt taken from the April 27 devotional entry of 'Jesus Calling," written by Sarah Young.

A pure, simple and honest song of worship to the Lord.

A song that says:

Today, lay it all down -- EVERYTHING -- at Jesus's feet and open yourself up to Him.  The fears, the deep seated hurts and scars; the desperate needs, the dark, ugly, hidden things and all. 

Invite Him into all of it.

And He WILL come.

I lay myself at Your feet
Asking You won't You meet
Won't You meet me?
I cannot do it on my own
I cannot do it all alone.  
Here I am, oh, tonight
With my arms open wide!
Won't You come inside
Won't You come inside, God?
Come and fill this heart of mine
I'm in need of You
Of Your touch, of Your life, of Your love
I need You,
I need You ~ lyrics to Here I Am, by Shawn McDonald

Monday, April 23, 2012

Walking Through The Hard

When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. ~ Job 2:11-13, NIV

I wanted to share something with all of you out here in the Blogosphere, and it is now my extreme honor to do so.  

Today's post focuses on how we as Christians often deal with those people in our lives who are broken, hurting, struggling and suffering.  Many on a daily basis.   Most times, since we seem to be really uncomfortable around them or are unsure what to say, we simply avoid them.  

Or sometimes, like Job's buddies, we try to pinpoint their problems with misspoken words in the hopes of 'fixing' them.  Job's friends were really off to a great start in comforting him in his time of need....until they opened their mouths.

Or perhaps -- you yourself are among the broken, the hurting, the struggling and the suffering.  And nobody really seems to understand what you're dealing with or knows what to say to you.

I did not write this.  It was written by someone else, a young woman named Rebekah Bell, who posted it on her Facebook page.  Rebekah's friend, Christi Armstrong, a Christian mom and poetry and blog writer (like many of us here), felt her friend's message was of such an important nature that she shared it on HER Facebook page, which is where I found and read it.

And after reading it, I too felt so strongly about the subject matter, that I contacted Christi and asked for her and Rebekah's permission to share it myself. 

As Christi noted when she reposted this:

"The only way things will change is if we all actually change them. Jesus went to the hurting and sat with them, where they were. He didn't sit in His comfortable life and avoid the pain others were going through. We need to start living like Jesus..." 

Amen, sister, amen!  Read on -- let Rebekah Bell's words and her heart's cry seep not only into your mind, but into your heart and soul as well.  And perhaps -- let them change you and how you see those in your life who are hurting as they attempt to walk through the hard......

To Walk Through The Hard 
by Rebekah Bell

So God is teaching me how to “walk through the hard." 

This past month has been insane.  Not just because of stuff in my universe… but because many people I love are going through genuinely "tough times".  Tough health news.  Tough relationship news.  Tough job news.  Tough times in their lives.

And what has been unusual for me is to watch Christians "dive into" these tough situations.  These situations are in different parts of the country.  Dealing with different varieties of Christians.  But the response, across the board, seems to be the same.  Well meaning followers are attempting to fix other people’s complex situations with "one size fits all" answers.

Without divulging details of anything, many of these situations are degenerating. Some involve diseases that won’t end in recovery.  Relationships that are broken in ways that would be difficult to ever fix.  Jobs that were lost because of a dying economy, making finding replacement positions immediately unlikely.  

In this, how does the church help?  Promises of prayer. Which are nice, but lonely solutions.  People sit alone in their damaged lives, while you wander off to your happier situation to pray.  Some tossed around trite scripture passages talking about "seasons" or "making things perfect in their time" or that "God has great plan for you."  Which are nice.  But like handing someone a flashlight without batteries, when faith is shaken by circumstance.

And sadly, I am not much help either.  My heart isn’t full of grand solutions.  Recently, I had to face the reality of my Grandmother’s mental condition.  First, you have to understand, my Grandmother was my rock.  She helped raise me.  More than a Grandmother, she was my friend. We chatted about school.  She taught me to drive. When times were hard, growing up, she let me sit in her house and cry (that happened a lot).  My Grandmother now seems to have developed dementia.  The person that I loved has changed into someone unpredictable.  I am watching one of the most precious relationships in my life slip away and I can’t stop it.

To help me deal, someone gave me the "it gets better" speech.  Seriously.  From this, there is no better.  The relationship that I once had is going to slip away, not get better.  

What I need is people who are willing to help me "walk through the hard."  Not tell me "look for the better."

But this is where Christians seem to "land."  Easy quotes that are supposed to make things better.  A prayer.  Pat on the head.  And you are off.  Faith bright and shiny.  Into a world with complex situations. Shouting "keep the faith" at people, from the safety of shore, as they bail water from a sinking boat.  

Why can’t we let the bad stuff be bad?  The hard stuff be hard?  Situations remain broken.  Why are we quick to stick a band aid on a broken leg and tell people that they should be able to walk around.  Where does this impulse come from?

I think that it is because faith in a loving God is threatened by unlovely circumstances.  

And that is hard to deal with.  To travel that road.  And we are generally unwilling to do it.  We pray for protection in our lives and are happily isolated from the difficulties of others.  Holding out for them pretty pictures of uncomplicated faith, rather than sitting with them in the dark places, where there aren‘t beautiful things.  

I think we fear the hard.  That is why we can’t let it be hard.  And to me, empirically, the inevitable conclusion seems to be that God is frequently unwilling to make things easy.  He lets them be hard.  

Thus, if we are to call ourselves a people of a true faith, it is time for us to embrace the presence of hard things. To seek out darkness and not run away.  To resist the urge to make the complex, less than what it truly is.  To allow the faith to exist in the dark and forbidding places of life.  Situations where "better" is unlikely.  And not abandon those who are in pain, to the pain they are feeling. 

It is time to learn to walk through the hard.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn." Romans 12:15, NIV

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Worship Song Sunday -- My Hope Is In You, by Aaron Shust

Show me Your ways, LORD,
teach me Your paths.
Guide me in Your truth and teach me,
for You are God my Savior,
and my hope is in You all day long. ~ Psalm 25:4-5, NIV

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken. ~ Psalm 62:5-6, NLT

Life is hard.  That's a given, isn't it?  We all would love to live a smooth, happy life that moves about on an even keel.  No surprises or shocks.  No hard times or difficulties.  No road blocks or detours.  

Unfortunately, that's just not possible.  Jesus warned His disciples (and that warning stretches through the centuries down to us) that  "in this world you will have trouble" (John 16:33).  There will be times when life doesn't go the way we'd hoped or planned.

But -- Jesus didn't leave them nor us with merely a dire forecast.  His next words in the same verse -- "But take heart!  I have overcome the world"  give us something else.  Something better to hold onto.  

Hope.  Jesus gives us hope.  Always.

Let our hope be in Him, all the day long. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Waiting For Answers......

Waiting By The Window, by Dee Beard Dean

Finally, peace has come.

All form of movement 
and reckless striving ceased.

Serenity reigns again.

The wind once loud, 
strong and bullying, 
Still blows, but now --
Barely above a gentle whisper.

Finally, the sun 
breaks through the clouds.

Warming the air.

Warming my heart.

Warming me.

Lighting up my bedroom 

Lighting up my life

As I sit by the window
And wait 
for answers.

Answers to 
My prayers.

Answers I am certain
Are on the way……

The Sunrise, by Aracely Calderon

Monday, April 16, 2012

Don't Give Up

'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'  ~ Jeremiah 29:11, NIV

Strange where blog posts come from.  For me, I usually feel a 'nudge' from the Lord to write something or share a song.  When I've tried to 'come up with something' on my own,  it generally falls apart.  

Today, I really felt moved to share this.  Somebody needs to read, hear and KNOW this.

Perhaps you're feeling discouraged today; you may feel at the end of your rope and you're checking to see if there's enough of it to place around your neck.  DON'T GIVE UP.

Suddenly, you may have encountered a detour on the path you were SURE was the right one to take.  The once bright, smooth and certain course has now changed into a dark, rough and unknown road, but you can't turn back. You feel like just laying down in the dirt and crying.  

Maybe something you've wanted to do your whole life hasn't turned out the way you planned.  Your dreams have been dashed and you've lost your confidence. DON'T GIVE UP.

You're angry, hurt, dismayed and frustrated.  But please -- DON'T GIVE UP!

God's thoughts are not our thoughts; neither are our ways His ways.  But He has a plan for your life.  He really, really does. 

Remember that.

Believe it.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Worship Song Sunday -- Dwell by Aaron Keyes

'Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  

This I declare about the LORD: 

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him. For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.  He will cover you with His feathers.  He will shelter you with His wings.  His faithful promises are your armor and protection. ' ~ Psalm 91:1:5, NLT

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Cry In The Wilderness (Random Journal Day Link Up #2)

‘The angel of the LORD found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur.  The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?”  “I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied.  The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.”  Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.”  And the angel also said, “ You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son.  You are to name him Ishmael (which means, ‘God hears’), for the LORD has heard your cry of distress.”  Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her.  She said, “You are the God who sees me.” (Hebrew, El-Roi) ~ Genesis 16:7-11;13

I'm linking up again today with Dawn, over at 'Beneath The Surface:Breath of Faith', and with Susie, from 'Recovering Church Lady - Pleasing God is Simply Not As Hard As You Think' for Random Journal Day

This journal is from 2009 and thankfully, looks quite a bit more like a journal should look (in my opinion, anyway).  One of my sweet friends, Mary, a fellow journaler, gave it to me as a gift.  It is purple (my favorite color), the front cover is decorated with a delightful picture of a teapot and teacup (I do believe I like tea almost as much as coffee) and is inscribed with the words of the Serenity Prayer, which, as a woman who has battled more than one addiction and obsession, and continues to do so, have become so very special to me.

This morning, I came across this short entry I wrote, dated February 11, 2009:

‘No matter what -- whatever is happening, however my life may look -- I MUST believe that God knows, God sees and God hears the troubles, the anguish and the cries of a mother’s heart and soul.

And that He will protect, He will intervene, He will rescue, He will deliver, redeem and restore my family…..’

How very appropriate an entry this turned out to be.  I read this today, knowing that God is faithful to do the above mentioned things, even while my heart is breaking for two people in my extended family -- my nephew and my niece, both of whom are in their early 20‘s.

My nephew’s girlfriend ended their relationship a few days ago and right before she did, she informed him that she had also just aborted the baby he didn't know she was carrying.  To say that my nephew is devastated would be an understatement.  He is in pain and is talking like he wants to die. His mother, my sister-in-law, cannot be with him.  She and the rest of her family drove to visit other family, located many hours and states away.  She and her husband take turns, every few hours, calling and texting him, to make sure he is okay.  Two family friends are taking turns staying with him.  My sister-in-law has shared with me about how helpless she feels to do anything.

While she does believe in God, I know from discussions with her over the years that she does not have any kind of loving, personal relationship with Jesus.  Just as I’ve been guilty of countless times in my life, running to the LORD is not her first response, but her last resort.   As a mother, I am interceding in prayer on her behalf.  

Believing that God knows, God sees and that God hears everything that is going on in this situation and that He will be faithful to protect. To intervene. To rescue. To deliver, redeem and restore.

Then there’s my niece, sister to aforementioned nephew in crisis.  Some time ago, she had a major falling out with an uncle.  Ugly, hate-filled words were exchanged between the two. They both drank deeply from the poisonous cup of unforgiveness.  Grudges were held onto tightly, like kites on a windy day. Lines were drawn in the sand, and have yet to be crossed by either one of them, although my niece does claim she sent him a Facebook message soon afterwards to say that she was sorry (certainly not THE BEST method for repentance), which her uncle claims he never received.  At the time, my niece was about 19, and she never felt the need to inform her parents about what had transpired between her and her uncle.  Yesterday, when her family came to visit this uncle and aunt, and she stepped out of the car, it was quite the surprise.   And not of the happy variety.

Her uncle lost his temper and bombarded her with hurtful, unforgiving words that cannot be taken back.  My niece’s parents were shocked, since they had no idea what had happened between them.  All in all, it was quite an ugly scene and my niece has been refused entrance to the uncle’s home.  Instead, she spent the day in her family’s car, while other family members brought food and refreshments out to her.  Her aunt had to sneak her into the house to use the bathroom or had to drive her to a food establishment to use theirs (believe me, I'm creative, but I cannot make up stuff like this).  She was able to spend the night at another aunt’s and uncle’s home a few miles away,  but because they were both working the next day, they told her she couldn’t stay at their house.  So once again, my niece has found herself sitting in the car today, waiting until it’s time for them all to leave.  The uncle, despite his wife's pleading and prayers, is resistant to changing his mind, refusing to offer mercy and forgiveness.  It is extremely windy and cold where they are visiting.   Her parents are already overwhelmed by their son’s issues, and now this has been added to their already full plate. My brother-in-law seems to be of the  ‘you reap what you sow’ attitude, while my sister-in-law is just at wit’s end over all of this and doesn’t know what to do.

Myself, I am absolutely livid to know that a travesty such as this is going on in my family (yes, they’re my in-laws, but they are still my family).  It is dysfunction to the max and my heart aches, because, as off-the-hook as they can be, I do love them.  

In my Life Recovery Bible, there is a sidebar with this life application for Genesis 16:7-13:

"When Hagar could not help herself and recognized her powerlessness over her situation, the angel of the LORD came and ministered to her. ....when we are ready to admit our need and cry out to Him, He is ready to step in." 

I know that I am helpless; powerless to do anything in this situation. But oh -- I can pray.  I have been. And will continue doing so.

Praying to El-Roi -- the God who knows, hears and sees the troubles, the anguish and the cries of THIS mother’s heart and soul -- not only for my own children, but for my nephew and niece as well. 

Believing that He will protect.  Believing that He will intervene. Believing that He will rescue, deliver, redeem and restore this family. My family.

God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything. ~ 1 John 3:20

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Resurrection Sunday -- My Redeemer Lives! by Nicole C. Mullen

"But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and He will stand upon the earth at last." ~ Job 19:25, NLT


Christ is risen!

Out Of The Tomb, by Ron DiCianni

He is risen indeed!!

My Redeemer Lives, by Roger Loveless

The tomb is empty -- He lives!!!

Empty Tomb, by Corbert Gauthier

A very blessed  and happy Resurrection Sunday to all, dear ones!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

It's Friday -- But Sunday's Coming!

But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. ~ Isaiah 53:5

I'm sitting here, looking out my window from time to time as I write this post.  The sun is shining here where I live in New Jersey; the weather is slightly cool; not much of a wind to speak of, birds are singing, there's not a cloud in the sky.  Yet I find myself slightly disappointed.

Am I nuts? Possibly. Certifiably, I'm told by some.  Am I ungrateful?  No way. It's just that the weather seems like such a paradox in regards to the day.

Today is Good Friday, perhaps the most solemn day among Christians.  I can remember from the time I was a child, and well into my, shall we say, older adult years, it always seemed that the weather on Good Friday was anything but beautiful.  There were times when it started out that way, but as it got closer to noontime, the wind would suddenly kick up, clouds would roll in, and the sky would become gray and somber.  As if God was sending us all a much needed reminder of the solemnity of this day, some 2,000 plus years ago.

The day that His One and Only Son was beaten, bruised, mocked and tormented -- for us. 

The day that Jesus was forced to carry a heavy, splintery wooden cross through the streets (the same streets where, five days earlier, He rode triumphantly upon a donkey to the joyful praises of 'Hosanna!'), and up a hill. 

The day that our Savior took the nails for us -- US!! -- and with a crown of thorns firmly thrust and implanted upon His skull, hung upon that wooden cross, between two criminals, for hours in excruciating pain.

The day that Jesus took all the sin of the whole world upon Himself -- and died so that we -- selfish, prideful, ungrateful sinners that we were and are -- could live.  Forever with Him.

I would often wonder, as a child, why in the world this day of all days was referred to as "Good Friday."  Back then, nobody could seem to tell me why.  As far as I could see, there was nothing 'good' about it.  It was such a somber day. My mother would never permit music to be played on Good Friday.  TV was definitely NOT allowed on.  I wasn't even able to go out to play with my friends between the hours of noon and three o'clock (God rest her soul -- my mother was an extremely melodramatic person, so I don't know if this was the 'norm' among our family, friends and neighbors back then, or just something she came up with).  And, at three o'clock, I would find myself seated in our darkened church for Stations of the Cross.  Jesus, the Son of God -- gentle, loving, giving Jesus, Who loved all the little children of the world, was betrayed and murdered heinously.  What was so 'good' about that, I'd think as I fidgeted in my seat between my parents.

Absolutely NOTHING.

But as I heard and learned many years later, it could only be called 'Good Friday' because of Jesus's resurrection three days later.  Jesus overcame sin and death when He stepped out of the tomb that Sunday morning -- Resurrection Sunday!  Without that Sunday, there is nothing 'good' about Good Friday.  As our pastor always says: "it's Friday....but Sunday's coming!"  Hallelujah for that!

Today, may I encourage you to take some time away from the noise and busyness of life? Perhaps find a quiet place to sit and reflect on what our Savior, Jesus Christ did for you. Yes, Jesus died for all of us, it's true.  But consider the pain and suffering, anguish and rejection He endured for YOU.  Make it personal. 

If you've never, ever seen the movie, 'The Passion of the Christ,' I highly recommend watching it if you're able sometime this weekend.  Buy it, rent it, borrow it.  I watched it again this morning.  And indeed, it IS hard to watch.  But it really brings home exactly what Jesus went through for you.  For me.  For us.  

Below is a song that I heard for the first time today, from a CD I bought some years ago, but never played.  It is hauntingly beautiful, in my honest opinion.  Take some time to listen to it and meditate on its simple, yet powerful and truthful lyrics (which I've included). 

If you've never considered what Jesus Christ has done for you, I implore you to do so TODAY.  Seek Him while He may be found.  He desires that NO ONE should perish, but that all (and yes, this means YOU) should come to repentance.  He loves you unfailingly and unconditionally.  He died for you sacrificially.  

How can you refuse Him now?

How can you refuse Him now, how can you refuse Him now?
How can you turn away from His side?
With tears in His eyes, on the cross there He died,
How can you refuse Jesus now?

There's a story old, that has often been told,
Of how our Savior died, as they nailed His hands,
He cried, "they don't understand!"
As the blood flowed from His side.

As He hung there on the tree, He prayed for you, prayed for me,
There was no one His pain to ease,
Before He died, He faintly cried,
"Father, forgive them please!"

How can you refuse Him now, how can you refuse Him now?
How can you turn away from His side?
With tears in His eyes, on the cross there He died,
How can you refuse Jesus now?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Solitary Chair -- Reflections From The Upper Room

Jesus Washing The Feet of His Disciples, by Albert Edelfelt
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist.  After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to Him, “Lord, are You going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 

“No,” said Peter, “You shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me.” ~ John 13:3-8, NIV

On the church calendar, today is known as Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday, commemorating Jesus’ last supper with His disciples.  In the upper room that night before they ate, Jesus humbled Himself and did something shocking for His friends -- He washed their feet.  The ever impetuous Peter instantly balked at the mere thought of such a thing.

How would we feel, if Jesus came to us with basin and towel in hand?  I wondered….and felt moved to write about it.

The Solitary Chair

In my heart's home and my mind's eye, there is
a room;
A room with two chairs in which You wait for me
Each day.

You call my name......

Some days I come to You,
Some days I pass on by;
Too busy.

Or pretending I don't hear......

Today, Your voice invites
Me to
Come and spend some time
with You.

As I step through the door I see
a chair;
A solitary, lonely chair.

You smile and welcome me
to sit;
A towel is wrapped around
Your waist.

You hold a basin filled
with water;
Steam rising from it to
Your face.

I hesitate......


What is this that You have for me?

But to the chair I walk
and sit.....

Now with a look of compassion upon Your face,
for me,
A look which I just 
cannot comprehend, 

You kneel 
before me! 

Taking my feet --
My dry, dirty, shoeless, 
ugly feet --
Into Your beautiful, gentle, yet
powerful hands, 

And place them in
the basin.....

"OH NO!," I cry,
I don't deserve such honor, such tenderness;
I don't deserve such love from You,
Almighty King.

I am shaken
Embarrassed even.

But there You are......

Choosing to take on the role
of bondservant,
Choosing to take Your place
at my feet!

Touching them
Washing them
Cleansing them.

Cleansing me......

Removing my feet from
the water;
Your once clean hands now stained,
From the dirt and filth
and ilk
That was once on me;

But now transferred 
onto You......

You take the towel from around
Your waist,
And proceed to dry
my feet.

From top to bottom, each and 
every toe;


Your eyes, with Your sweet
unwavering gaze, 
pierce my heart to its core;

I am overwhelmed......

Overwhelmed by the love I see
in them.


Who am I
that You would do such a thing
for me?

I am a forgiven sinner.

A recipient of Your grace and mercy.

I am Your Beloved. 

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