Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday: A Rock; a Resurrection and Redemption




The early morning was dark and damp.  The  three women made their way to the tomb.  Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome were bringing the spices they had prepared to anoint Jesus' Body.  They had to pass the place of the Skull...Golgotha.  The thought of that horrible place made the women colder than before.  The sun began to peak through the horizon.  It seemed brighter than usual.  The women squinted as the rays pierced the darkness.  Suddenly it was if the ground was trembling and the sound of thunder rumbled in the distance.  They wondered how they could move the stone that covered the entrance.

They came to the garden where the tomb was located.  Something was different. The enormous stone was moved from the opening!  There was a man sitting on it.  He was dressed in white, and said to us, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?"  "You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, Who was crucified and was buried here.  He is risen, just as He said!  Go and tell His disciples to meet Him in Galilee.  He will see them there."  The women ran from the tomb to tell the disciples.  They were too frightened to tell anyone else.
~
Peter
When the women told us what had happened, John and I immediately took off and ran to the tomb.  We ran inside, and saw the linens that had been wrapped around Jesus' body all folded up and laying in a stack.  The piece that covered His Face was laying next to it.  John believed right away, that Jesus' promise was true!  I didn't know what to think.  We ran back to the other disciples and then prepared to go to Galilee.  I hoped in my heart that Jesus could forgive me.  I loved Him, and would do whatever He asked of me from now on.
~
Nicodemus
We were surprised when many of the soldiers that were guarding the tomb came in the temple.  One of them told us, "At dawn there was an earthquake. Suddenly the stone was rolled away and the Body of Jesus was gone!  He must have risen as He said."
Some of my fellow priests hatched a plan to bribe the guards with money to say that they had fallen asleep and the disciples came and moved the body of Jesus.  They agreed to it, took the money, and left.  I have a feeling that story is going to be around for a long time.
As for me, I was filled with joy and couldn't wait to tell Joseph of Arimethia!  He is Risen!  He is Risen, indeed!!!
~
The Soldier
At dawn, I felt something move...it was the ground itself, and there was a loud noise.  I didn't know what to think.  I looked at the other guards and suddenly we saw two men in white appear and touch the massive stone that covered the entrance to the tomb.  I saw a Man walk...out...of...the...tomb!  It was Jesus!  Whole and unharmed!  I closed my eyes and fell to my knees.  I didn't have to say a word out loud, about my sorrow of the participation in His death.  I knew in my heart that He understood and had forgiven me.  When I opened my eyes, He was gone.  The men in white were still there.  The other guards were fleeing.  Some in the direction of Jerusalem...others to the countryside.  I left in the direction of my home.  I had to go and speak to my family about all I had seen and heard.  My life would never be the same again.
~
Jesus met with the disciples in Galilee as He said.  He told them to not be afraid, that He was sending the Comforter to be with them.  He told them, "Go to all the nations, and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach them to do everything I have told you. Know I am with you always, until the end of the world."

He is Risen.  He is Risen, indeed.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday: Death, Darkness and Despair


Peter
I was so scared.  I was in the back of the crowd, as I watched them crucify my Lord.  Some men took His Body.  They placed it in some tomb.

What had I done?  Jesus knew it.  He knew what a coward I would be...to deny that I knew Him.  Not once.  Not twice...but three times!  I was so afraid.

The rulers and officials are so angry.  I know they'll come after us next.  What will we do?  The only thing we can think of is to hide in the upper room.  Eleven of us disciples are here, along with a few followers.

To make it worse, we've heard they found Judas' body hanging in a tree on the outskirts of town.  Apparently he had remorse about what he had done, in betraying Jesus to those men.  It's amazing what he did for the sake of money.  I guess he realized it wasn't worth it.  Too late, now.

It's torture being in here.  Just 24 hours earlier, we were preparing for the Passover meal.  Looking around, our things are just as we left them.  Crusts of bread on the table.  Bread that He said was His Body.  His Body.  His Body that was hanging on that wretched cross.  Drops of wine on the tablecloth.  Not wine, but He called it His Blood.  Drops of Blood.  The Blood that covered His mangled Body....  He knew.  We had no idea, but He knew.


Nicodemus 
I was shocked.  I had no idea that Joseph of Arimathea was a believer of Jesus.  He is a highly respected member of the Jewish Council.  He had been on the lookout for the Messiah...I had no idea he also believed it was Jesus.  No one else here, knows.  If they knew that the two of us were secret followers of the Christ, we would no doubt suffer the fate that He had.

Joseph had asked Governor Pilate for Jesus' Body.  We knew we had to get Him buried soon, as the Sabbath was upon us.  We cannot do anything on the Sabbath.  Pilate, after confirming that Jesus was indeed dead, agreed to it.  Joseph had bought some linens and owned a tomb nearby.  He was planning on using it for himself one day.  This was more important.  We wrapped His Body in the Linens and placed Him in the tomb.  His poor Body.  So tortured and mistreated.  No one deserved this kind of treatment.  Especially Someone who didn't do anything wrong.  He was an innocent man.  I grabbed the filthy crown they had put on His Head and threw it in the garden.  Drops of blood formed in my palm, from the thorns.  Nothing, compared to what He endured.  It turned my stomach to think about it.

Could we even hope that what He prophesied was true?  That He would rise again? Even if He did, He was so deformed.....  It was probably for the best that He was out of His misery.  Too bad, though.  It would have been glorious if He were the Messiah....  Wishful thinking, I guess....



The Soldier
I have to keep it together.  My mind is racing in a thousand different directions.  What had I just seen?  What had I just experienced?  I can't let on that I've had a 'heart transplant' of sorts...if such a thing existed.  It's like all of the things I knew and believed are gone...and now I see things with new eyes!  It's frightening.  I have no one to talk to about this.  How am I going to tell my wife?  My family?  Will they turn me in to the authorities?  Maybe I'll just keep my mouth shut.  They don't have to know.  But how am I going to explain that I'm planning on quitting my job?  I could never take part in another crucifixion.  Never.

I reach up and touch my ear, as I watch as two men take Jesus' Body away.  For two Jewish leaders, they seem to handle His Body so gently.  It's almost as if they care about Him.  That's not possible...or is it?  Nothing I have seen in the last 24 hours was what I believed it to be, anyway.

The officials have just come and ordered a huge stone to be placed in the front of the tomb.  Apparently Jesus had predicted this would happen, and He said He would rise again in three days time.  What??  How bizarre!  Pilate is afraid that Jesus' disciples are going to come and steal His Body and then say that He rose from the dead.  Hmm...  Understandable I guess.  They order me to help move the stone.  It takes a few of us...this thing is so heavy!  They just asked for volunteers to guard the site for a few days.  I raise my hand.  I will gladly guard it.  For a couple of reasons.  Not so much as to protect it from Jesus' followers, but to make sure the officials don't sabotage the efforts, then blame it on the disciples.  Also...I have a very selfish reason to stay here.  If there IS a chance that Jesus would rise from the dead...I want to tell Him how sorry I am.  I want to be the first one to fall on my knees in front of Him and beg his forgiveness and mercy.  I have committed such an unpardonable sin.  I don't deserve it, but perhaps He would be gracious.  One can only hope....

Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday: A Cut, a Crucifixion and a Change of Heart



I was only doing my job.  I've been a loyal Roman soldier for many years.  No matter how disgusting the task, I did it to the best of my ability.

It seemed like a regular night.  A late Thursday night apprehension, like many others...or so  I thought.  It was anything but.

We had gotten orders to pick up a Jesus of Nazareth.  I guess He was a troublemaker.  I had seen him, at a distance, from time to time.  He didn't seem really overly unruly to me...but the Pharisees know best.  They wouldn't arrest anyone unjustly, would they?

We got to the outside of the Garden of Gethsemene.  We met up with a fellow named Judas.  I wasn't really impressed with him.  From what I heard, he sold out his friend, and teacher for 30 pieces of silver.  Nice.  No matter...he was there to help us to identify the Man.  I didn't have to be his best friend.  After tonight, I won't have to look at him.

Judas walked up to Jesus and gave him a kiss on the cheek.  That was our cue.  We grabbed His arms and prepared for a fight.  But there wasn't one.  At least not from Jesus.

Some of the guys that were with Him made some noise.  Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain on the right side of my head!  I looked down, and there was blood everywhere!  I grabbed my head and screamed!  Someone had cut off my ear!  The prisoner was the last thing on my mind.  I let go of His arm, and fell to the ground, looking for my missing ear.  I knew I was going to bleed to death right there.  There were no doctors anywhere nearby.  I was sobbing in pain and fear.  I felt a hand help me to my feet, saying, "Enough of that!"  I looked up as Jesus came closer.  I looked right in his face as He placed a hand on the side of my head.  I felt a slight burning sensation, and immediately my ear was reattached!  No pain at all!  He had healed me!  I was amazed!  I kept touching my ear.  What was this?  I had heard rumors that He was a Healer.  I knew it was true.  My commanding officer ordered me to grab His arm once more.  Reluctantly, I did so.

As we took Him to the Pharisees, I saw the man that had cut my ear off...slinking in the crowd, like a snake.  I motioned with my head to one of the women in the crowd.  I heard her ask him if he was with Jesus.  HA...he denied it.  What a coward.  With friends like Jesus had...He surely didn't need any enemies.

The next few hours were difficult.  Jesus went through many interrogations.  The Pharisees, Pilate, Herod Antipas, and back to Pilate.  All during this time, Jesus didn't say a word in His defense.  My fellow soldiers remarked that He must be mad.  What human would not defend himself.  I had a nagging feeling...perhaps He wasn't human.  What human could do the things that He did?  I had never seen one.  Someone in the crowd said He even raised some people from the dead!!  A couple of the soldiers even thought it would be funny to make Him a crown of thorns, since some called Him the King of the Jews.  They slammed it down into His head.  Still...nothing. No attempt to make them stop.

One of the hardest things that I was ordered to do that night...and the next morning....was to physically abuse Jesus.  I was told to beat Him.  I HAD to.  It's my job.  No personal feelings are allowed.  I took my cat o'nine tails and ripped His flesh.  Over and over.  He had hardly any skin left.  With each strike, my ear tingled.  I tried to ignore it, but it wouldn't go away.  This was crazy.  I am a Roman soldier.  Tough as nails.  I can't be getting all emotional over a prisoner.  Even if He did save my life.  But I couldn't help it.  I was feeling so guilty.

Then we watched as He was sentenced to death by crucifixion.  Pilate let the crowd condemn Him.  He even gave them a choice of prisoners.  I couldn't believe that the crowd chose His death over that ruthless killer, Barabbas.  Jesus was an innocent man.  People can be so strange.  We marched up the Via Dolorosa, with Jesus, as He carried His crossbeam.  He looked inhuman.  You couldn't even recognize Him.  We had beaten Him so badly. This was totally getting out of hand. He fell down three times.  I pitied Him.  I yelled for a man in the crowd to help Him carry the beam.

Finally it came time for the execution itself.  I was ordered to grab a hammer and a nail.  I didn't want to...but I didn't want to appear weak, either.  These guys would never let me live it down.  I grabbed His left hand...the Hand that had touched the side of my head.  I could not look at His face as I placed His Hand on the beam and in two swift strikes, nailed Him to the wood.

We then hoisted Him up to the vertical beam.  He screamed in agony.  His cries made my ear throb.  I tried to ignore it, but couldn't.  One of the other soldiers nailed his feet to the footrest.

I reluctantly looked up at Him.  He was looking right at me.  I looked down, quickly.  This was unbearable.  Then I heard Him speak.  He said, "Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do."  He was...praying...for...me?  I tried to shake it off.

There were two criminals crucified on either side of Jesus.  One of them yelled for Jesus to save Himself and them.  The other one reprimanded him and told him that they deserved it...Jesus didn't.  He then asked Jesus if he would remember him when He entered His Kingdom.  Jesus told him, "Surely, today you will be with me in Paradise."  Paradise?  Was there somewhere you went after you died?  I thought you were just...finished.  Nothing.  How could you be in a 'Place'?  If that were true...I wanted to go, also!!

Then I had to look away, as the only one of His disciples came forward.  I heard it was some man named...John.  A woman was leaning on his arm.  She was inconsolable.  It was Jesus' mother.  How sad.  But even from the cross, this Man thought of her.  He told her, "Behold, your son".  He was talking about John.  Then he told John, "Behold, your mother."  Even though He was dying, He made sure His mother was taken care of.  This Man was no criminal.  He was innocent!!  What had I done???  My own pride and selfishness did this.  I didn't stand up for what was right.  I went with the crowd.  My self absorption did this to Him.  I could not bear it.

All of a sudden He screamed, "My God, My God, Why have You forsaken me?!"  My blood ran cold, and pounded in my ear.  He was silent for awhile, then weakly called out, "I thirst."  Of course He did.  I grabbed a sponge on a long hyssop branch, dipped it in some nearby sour wine, and touched His lips with it.

Then He called out, "Father, Into Your Hands I commit my Spirit.  It is finished."  He bowed His head and died.

Thunder rolled and lightning flashed.  The veil of the temple ripped in half by itself.  The ground began to shake.  It was terrifying.  I knew that no matter what.  This was one of my last days as a Roman guard.  I had killed the Son of God.

One of the other soldiers, in order to make sure He was dead, stuck a spear in His side.  Out flowed blood and water.  They took Him down and placed Him in His grieving mother's arms.  They then wrapped Him up and placed Him in a new tomb, supplied by Joseph of Arimathia, and from what I gather, Nicodemus the Pharisee helped him.

I wish I could do things over.  I would not have made the same choices.  If I could only see Jesus once more.  I would tell Him how sorry I was.  How I now believe that He is truly God's Son, and I would even be one of His followers, if I could have that chance.  If only I had the chance.



Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thursday: A Supper, a Servant, and a Supplication


                                                                                                       










I'm so tired.  So many things have occurred today.  Early this morning, the Master told a couple of  us to go and get a room ready for the Passover meal.  We obeyed, and this evening we began the meal, as we do every year...but then some very unusual things happened.

We were all eating, and all of a sudden Jesus stopped.  He stood up and put a towel around His waist.  He took a basin of water, and one by one went around and began to wash our feet!  He was acting like...our servant!  But...He was JESUS!  Our Master!  Washing our feet??  When He got to me, I refused.  I told Him no...it was I that should be washing His feet!  Then He told me that if I didn't allow Him to do this...I didn't belong to Him.  Horrified I said, "Then don't just wash my feet, wash my hands and head, as well!"  He said that He was doing this to teach us that we were not to think of ourselves more important than each other, and we should serve each other.  I guess we do tend to argue about which one of us is the most significant.  But, in that one demonstration...He finally answered the question.  None of us.

He sat back down and seemed troubled.  He then announced, "One of you will betray me, tonight."  What was He talking about?  Betray?  Who would do such a thing?  One by one, we began to ask, "Is it I?'  He said, "I'm telling you, one of you, who is sitting here at the table with Me, will be the one."  He then whispered something to Judas...and he left.  I still don't know where he went...come to think of it, he never came back....

We then began the breaking of the unleavened bread.  But this was different.  Jesus broke it and stated that the bread was His Body, which was broken for us.  Broken body??  He told us to eat it...and we obeyed.

He then took the cup of wine, and declared that it was now the cup of His Blood, which is shed for all people.  Take it and drink.  BLOOD?  What in the world was He talking about?  We again, did as He asked.

After the meal, I kept thinking about all of this sad and morbid talk.  Lately, Jesus had been talking about dying.  I know the authorities were not happy with Him.  Maybe He was afraid.  Maybe Jesus thought we would all abandon Him.  So after the meal, I went over to where He was sitting.  I wanted to talk to Him, privately.  I told Jesus, "Even if everyone leaves you, I would NEVER leave You, Lord!"   He told me that before the night was over, I would deny Him three times.  The thought of that happening turned my stomach.  Sure, I'm kind of a hothead...I tend to react on impulse...but deny Jesus?  Never!!

Then the Master told us He wanted us to go with Him to the garden to pray.  He seemed so upset. We followed Him to the Garden of Gethsemene.  He told John, James and I to go off with Him, away from the others.  Jesus knelt and prayed.  He prayed for us, and for those who would believe in Him, in the future.  He then started to pray something about having a cup pass from Him, but not His will, but the Father's...I'm not exactly sure, because, like the others, I fell asleep.  Jesus woke us up, and seemed upset that we were sleeping.  That happened a couple of times.  We're trying to stay awake, but it's so hard....

WAIT!!!  WHAT???  WHO ARE THOSE MEN???  HEY!  TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF OF HIM!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday: Conspiracy, Coins and a Choice



The Pharisees had had enough.  They had to find a way to get rid of Jesus...for good.  He had become a threat to their very being.  He had openly mocked them and made them look foolish.  Their credibility was being jeopardized.  And NOW, Jesus was saying something about tearing down the temple!  On top of that, Nicodemus, one of their very own, was even acting a bit weak.  He even seemed to want to defend this Nazarene.  Yes, he had to go.  But...how to do it?

There was a problem.  They had to get to Jesus at night.  During the day would not do.  With Passover approaching, there were too many people around that might cause a riot.  Yes, they had to catch Him at night.  The Pharisees themselves, could not be there.  It would cause a scandal.  They had to use guards to bring Jesus to them.  But their guards that didn't know what Jesus looked like.  Hmmm....Judas did!  He was one of His disciples, but they could tell he was frustrated.  They had witnessed him disagreeing with Jesus, in the courtyard.  He was the perfect person to hand Him over to them.

 ~ ~ ~

Judas was discouraged.  What was Jesus thinking? Judas was only trying  to do what was best for the group...money was important.  Couldn't Jesus see that?  He needed to listen to him. After all, didn't they entrust him with the pocketbook?  Sure he dipped in it, from time to time.  Being a man of importance had it's pressures....and perks.  No one ever questioned him.  He had a pretty good set up.  Judas detested listening to Jesus' philosophy of peace, poverty and holiness.  The more he thought about it, the angrier and more dissatisfied he got.  He began to find fault with everything that Jesus did.  It seemed that it had been a long time since he had been truly happy.  All he felt was hatred and envy. His heart felt cold and hard.  If he didn't know better, it didn't even feel like his own heart anymore.

Judas knew the Pharisees hated Jesus.  It embarrassed Judas, how Jesus was so disrespectful to them.  He had seen them murmuring and through a little bit of eavesdropping, he heard how they wanted to get rid of this troublemaker.  He wondered if they would make a deal.  But the only deal that Judas was interested in came with a price.

He went to see the chief priests and scribes.   He listened, as they told him that they were concerned about Jesus' views on life.  "Exactly!", he exclaimed.  Sure, he wasn't being altogether loyal to Jesus, but finally he found some people who saw things as he did!  They proposed the offer to Judas.  It was quite simple actually.  Judas would show the guards which man was Jesus.  He would think of a signal to let them know.   In return, they handed him thirty pieces of silver. Silver...of his very own!!! He smiled widely and shook their hands.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday: Snares, a Secret, and the Spirit



Nicodemus was worried.  Something didn't set well inside.  His fellow Pharisees were trying to figure out a way to trick Jesus, using His own words.  They had asked Jesus about paying taxes, and He slipped under their snare and declared that a person should give to the Emperor what is his, and give to God what is His.

They then tried to trump Him up by asking about the law.  One scholar asked Jesus what the most important commandment was.  Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.  The next is to love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law of Moses and the Book of the Prophets are based on these two commandments."  After a time, they were ready to give up.  He was too wise for them.  It was as if He knew what they were thinking....

Nicodemus had a feeling that his comrades were all wrong.  Something was very different about this man.  He seemed to know so much about God...more than any other mortal man.  He had to find out the answers to his questions...but how?  It was dangerous for him to ask Jesus these things during the day.  One did not want the Pharisees to be angry with them...even if they were a Pharisee themselves.  He had to figure out another way.

Late that night, Nicodemus crept to the area where Jesus and his disciples were camped out.  He sat next to Him and began to talk to Him.

 "Jesus, we know that you have come from God.  No one could do the things you do, and not be."
Jesus replied, "This is true!  I'm telling you that no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again."

This was confusing.  If a man was old, how can he physically be born again?  Nicodemus asked Jesus about this.  Jesus said, "You don't understand.  When a human baby is born, it is just that...a baby, that you can see and touch.  When someone is reborn, it is a matter of their spirit.  It's like the wind...that blows wherever it wants to.  You take shape from within...by something you can't see or touch.  It is the wind of God...the Spirit of God.

Nicodemus didn't understand.  "What do you mean?  How does it happen?"

Jesus smiled.  "You are a respected teacher of the law, and you don't know these things?"  He looked Nicodemus straight in the eyes and said, "I'm only telling you these things because I have seen them...and I know them firsthand.  You should know better!  Instead of accepting My words, you procrastinate and ask more questions!  If you won't accept the plain words I tell you about things of this earth...how can you ever accept the things that I tell you about heaven?  No one has ever gone into the presence of God, except for the One who came down from that Presence...the Son of Man.  Just like Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, the Son of Man must be lifted up. The ones who look up to Him and trust Him...they will gain a real life, eternal life."

Then Jesus told Nicodemus, "God loved the world so much that He gave up His only Son, that whoever looks up to Him and puts their trust in Him will never totally die and gain that eternal life.
The problem with the world is, that God has sent a Light into the world, but people don't like it.  They would rather run into the darkness, because if they went into the Light, they would see their flaws and disobedience.  It's easier to remain unaware.  They hate the Light.  But those that are trying to live in truth and reality, love the Light and welcome it and want others to know that it is God actually doing the works through them.

Nicodemus began to feel a stirring inside his heart.  This man Jesus was different.  How could he get the other Pharisees to see?  Would they ever see?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday: Change Cheaters and Children




The temple was full of people.  The outer courts was a busy place.  This is where they sold sacrifices and exchanged the money that had images of emperors and kings, with the Tyrian type of currency. This was the only kind of coin acceptable in the inner courts of the temple.  The businessmen had a good racket going on.  The Jews that brought their own sacrifices to the priests were told that they were unacceptable and had to buy new ones.  The priests would then resell the unacceptable ones to other people.  In order for the Jews to pay their taxes, they forced them to exchange their currency for the Tyrian kind.  The money changers would then charge them an unfair exchange rate.   They then charged the priests a high rate to exchange them back for the Roman coins.

Suddenly a loud noise disrupted the activity.  The people saw this man Jesus begin to overturn the money changers' tables!  He knocked over the benches of the people selling doves, and began to yell, "My house is supposed to be a house of prayer...and you are making it into a den of robbers!!"  The people looked at one another in amazement. Some began to whisper  and move silently away.  Others stayed close to Him.

After a time, the blind and lame began to make their way to a now calmer Jesus.  He gladly healed them.  Some nearby children began to shout, "Hosanna to the Son of David!"  The Pharisees who had been keeping a keen eye on this enigma, said to Him, "Did you hear what those children are saying?"  Jesus looked at them and replied, "Yes.  Haven't you ever read, 'From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise.'?"  Jesus was speaking about one of the psalms.

The priests and scribes silently walked away.  They had a feeling this man was going to be trouble.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday: A Path, A Palm and A Promise



The crowd was thick.  They were lining the sides of the path to Jerusalem, straining their necks to get a glimpse of Him.  The One who would save their people.  This Jesus from Galilee was on His way to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration.  He had performed so many miracles...this simple carpenter from Nazareth!  Who would have thought it possible?

Here He comes!!  He was riding on something...what was it?  A donkey?  Why didn't someone give Him a great steed to ride?  This was almost embarrassing.  The least they could do was make the path more comfortable.  Some threw their cloaks down  for the colt to walk on.  Others began cutting palm limbs from the nearby trees.  That was appropriate...palms were a symbol of victory, of triumph.  This Jesus must be the Messiah to bring the Romans to their knees!  Finally, they would be vindicated!  Their countless years of torture and pain were coming to an end!

Here He is!!  Nothing especially handsome to look at...but no matter...He had to be the Redeemer that God had promised so many years ago.  They had been waiting for so long.  Even though His demeanor was unassuming, surely He would get tough when it came time to fight.

They were so excited, they began to sing a song of praise, "Hosanna!!!  Hosanna!!  Blessed is he, who comes in the name of the Lord!"  The people looked at each other and smiled with joy.  Things would never be the same again.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Riding Shotgun



I call shotgun! Since I can't drive, that's the way it is.  I get to be the co-pilot; the sidekick; the partner; the support system.  With my husband and my friends, that seems to be the pattern.  It may seem less than satisfying to some, but I don't mind...I'm in pretty good company!

See if these names bring a sidekick to mind:

Fred and _______
Laverne and _______
Lucy and _______
Andy and _________
Tom and ________
Batman and ________
Sonny and _____

In the rules of kickdom, the sides always support their partner....they do what they can to lift them up, and encourage them.  Their job is to help bring out the best in them.

Do you ride shotgun?  Did you know the Bible encourages us to be a sidekick?  1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us:  "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."

So many people feel invisible.  They feel as if they do not make a difference.  Maybe their jobs are not in management, and they don't get to call all the shots.  Maybe their lives seem out of control, and they feel they have no voice as to what happens to them.

We may not always get to choose what happens to us, or where we're going...but we always have a choice on how we treat the people that God places in our paths.  The people that He gives us to partner with in day to day activity...whether that be family members or co-workers.  We are all called to be encouragers.  We are supposed to hold each other up and bring out the best in people.  We are called to be a sidekick.

So when you feel like you are an Ethel and want to be a Lucy....remember...Lucy would not be as funny without Ethel; Fred would be nothing without Barney (how many of you thought "Ginger"?) ;)  Laverne only lasted one season without Shirley; Andy would be lost without  Barney (no relation to the previous Barney);  Tom would be chasing his tail without Jerry; Batman would be half a superhero without Robin; and Sonny without Cher?  Well...you saw what happened there.


Ride shotgun....encourage someone in Jesus' name today!!



Monday, March 4, 2013

Broken and Blooming

The other morning, when I took the dogs out, I noticed a sweet smell coming from somewhere close by.  Our avocado tree was blooming profusely.  It really surprised me, as last year, there was nothing.  The previous year's crop of avocados was so large, that it literally broke our tree.  It was so heavily laden with avocados that the branches could not hold up under the strain of them, and many branches were either broken or dead.  That was months and months ago.  Finally, it is beginning to bloom again.

Isn't that like us, at times?  We become so heavily laden with the burdens of life that our souls become broken from the strain...and at times, they seem to die.  To look at us, our lives are a mess.  Brokenness and barren limbs everywhere...no signs of life to the naked eye.

But God is always at work.  He is living deep inside, waiting for us to hand our heavy burdens to Him.  Jesus is always there to renew us and refresh our withering souls with the Living Water of His Holy Spirit.

Do we carry reminders?  Yes, we do.  But through the deep remnants of our battle scars, there is a sweet smelling bloom of new life beginning to form.  A lovely fragrance that rises up to the heavens  as incense to our LORD, glorifying Him and thanking Him for His ever present faithfulness.

Matthew 11:28-30  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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