What if I had been there?
To watch a crucifixion was a horrible, traumatic thing but to see my friend bloodied and beaten to the point of death and then after the mocking and crown of thorns to watch him stumble under the load of his cross… I wanted to turn away but couldn’t. I wanted to run away. But it was as if I was held there. Now I can’t get it out of my mind. When I woke up this morning I remembered yesterday…oh! it was as if the grief was brand new. I experienced it all over again. Will I ever be the same?
Could I have done anything…something…to help him? Could I have intervened? The crowds were so angry…so blood thirsty? The temple leaders went along with the crowds…maybe they were right after all, they know more that I do. They have studied the scriptures more than me.
It was too much. I am exhausted with the crying. And fear. Will the crowds come after me now? Am I marked becasue I was with him? What will I do today? Tomorrow? Next week? Last week it all seemed so clear…now I do not know. He seemed so clear about things…so true. I would have followed him to the ends of he earth. Now I look like a fool.
All his talk of a kingdom, his heavenly father… where was he yesterday? Jesus had said he could have called 10,000 angels…why didn’t he? where were they? He had been my friend. He had talked about a kingdom. Where was it now? – just a bloodied corpse laying behind a massive stone, growing cold. I never dreamed it would end this way. Now what? Was all that He taught just the rantings of a mad man? Had the crowds been right? How could I have been so wrong?
I feel nauseated just thinking about it. I wonder if the others feel the same. Maybe I’ll go check on them. Talk to them about what to do next. Maybe go back to fishing…
It’s been a horrible few days.
Yesterday, Palm Sunday, marks the beginning of Holy Week for Christians around the world. It is a very solemn time as we pause to reflect on what Jesus actually did for us. How He chose to go to Jerusalem knowing full well what awaited Him there: the last effort to reach out to the one who would betray Him then the betrayal itself, the illegal trial with witnesses stacked against Him, the inhuman beatings while being scorned, the wicked painful crown of thorns jammed into his scalp, His bone weariness and hunger, carrying the heavy cross through jeering crowds up hill, the grief in His mother’s eyes, the nails, the ripping of His flesh, the searing pain and gasp for air…the utter horror of His father God turning away…
He chose to go to Jerusalem…He didn’t back away. We are told, “He set His face to go”.
This was not made less painful by the fact that He was God. As if somehow He lived above it all. No, it meant He saw it all ahead, chose it, felt it in His flesh and it all happened in real-time to a real man. The fact that He was God gave it enormous significance. But it didn’t take away the dread, the pain. No. It actually made it harder.
I have been reading through the Bible this year with a group from my church. We have slogged through Leviticus and Numbers – not easy reads. But, boy, has it put Jesus’ death and sacrifice in perspective. God’s requiring of sacrifice was a serious business. It still is today.
No, we do not have animal sacrifices instead God asks that we be a living sacrifice. St. Paul says that is our “reasonable service”.
As we go through this week, let us remember…Christ’s sacrifice for us. Let’s pray not to forget or take it too lightly. How can I/we serve the One who suffered for me/you this week? Maybe just in worshipping Him more. He loves our praise and worship. Maybe something we need to surrender to Him? Maybe a sacrifice we need to make – is anything too great for Him?
“Lest I forget Gethsemane; Lest I forget Thine agony; Lest I forget Thy love for me, lead me to Calvary.”
This is a busy season for me.
For those of you who follow me on FB you know I was at Duck Commander in W.Munroe, Louisiana with my daughter on Tuesday. I guess I should be ashamed to admit I had never heard of them before or ever seen the show Duck Dynasty. What a hoot! Now I am addicted. If you haven’t seen it, you need to. It’s on A&E almost every night. It is wholesome, side-splittingly funny and has good old American family values like respect, discipline and faith. I love it. It is “Downton Abbey meets Rednecks”! And since some of my family are rednecks (I won’t tell you which ones!!) I get the humor!
I am an admitted new fan of the show!
Tomorrow I go to Destin, Florida to speak at the Shine On Women’s Conference at the Emerald Coast Conference Center. Tomorrow night I will talk about my Mother and the choices she made – how that made her the woman she was. Saturday morning I will talk about Jeremiah the prophet – one of my favorite biblical characters and what he tells us about how to live in troubled times – like now! Sunday morning I will speak at the Destin United Methodist Church at 10:00. If you are nearby, I’d love to see you.
Next week on Thursday night I will speak for the Pregnancy Care Center of Catawba County in Hickory, N.C. I love to speak for crisis pregnancy centers – they do such an important work. And those that work there are so caring and committed. It is a life-affirming and God-honoring work. They are going against a culture that says a pregnancy is inconvenient and can be terminated. A culture that has changed it’s language from “fetus” to “product of conception” so that the baby can be discarded easily. It is anything but easy.
Planned Parenthood has fed lies to our culture and we have bought them. I have seen too many lives deeply wounded by abortion. Maybe not right way. It seems like the easiest solution to a very difficult situation. But I can tell you that it isn’t. I have been with too many women who have wept on my shoulder in regret, shame and guilt. The event never leaves their memory. It brings such grief – many years later. But I am happy to say that there is forgiveness and healing in Jesus Christ.
Many have wept on my shoulder when facing an unplanned pregnancy but I have yet to hear a woman tell me she regrets giving the baby life.
These pregnancy centers minister God’s grace and love to women – and men – wounded by the lie of our society that says abortion is OK. I love to work with them. It is a joy.
Then I drive on to visit with my father for a couple of days before I come back home. I love what I do.
Got to go pack.
My church has been having interesting dialogues recently about what we believe. It has been sad to see how far we have drifted from our foundation. But it has caused me – and I believe others – to really think about what we believe and why. We have had a number of “town hall” type meetings where discussion was lively. One of them sticks out in my mind. One of the denominational leaders told us that “Allah” is just another name for God. Another leader in the denomination said he didn’t think God would send anyone to Hell. Personally he believed in a Hell but he wasn’t clear about God condemning people there for all of eternity.
Both of these men are good men. They are educated. They want to serve God. But they are dead wrong. The name of God is NOT “Allah”. It is Yahweh. It is Holy. Majestic. Mighty. Pure. Strong. Powerful. And nothing to fool around with. God guards His name. He is a jealous God and He wants His people to stand in awe of Him.
I have been reading through the Old Testament this year and the Israelites learned to fear the name of God. It was in God’s name that Moses parted the Red Sea. It was in God’s name that the walls of Jericho fell. It was in His name that Elijah called down fire from heaven. It was in His name the lame walked. It was in His name that the blind man could see. His name is also, precious to
those who know and love Him. We dare not trifle with His name.
Hell is real. Or at least Jesus thought so. And He ought to know. I began to think about Hell after this man said what he did. Granted, I didn’t dwell on it but it was more on my mind than it had been. I don’t like the idea of Hell and I don’t like the idea of anyone going there. But just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it isn’t very real. It would be pretty to think God wouldn’t send anyone to hell. But God’s ways are not always pretty. Ask those who lived in Sodom.
What is pretty is that we don’t have to go to Hell. We choose to – this side of eternity.
I believe in Hell. I say I do. I believe there is such a state as a Christless eternity and without Him, it is Hell. But do I really believe that? When I fail to tell others about Jesus, I am saying I don’t really believe in Hell. When I sit beside someone on the plane and don’t tell them about Jesus I am really saying that I don’t really believe in a Christless eternity. Or I don’t care that this person next to me will really spend eternity in Hell.
We are all eternal beings. And having Christ as my Savior means I will spend all of eternity with Him. But the person next to me will not just die and be no more,cease to exist – they exist for all of eternity. In Hell.
Sobering, isn’t it. Think about it.
I hope you had a great Valentine’s Day! I do love that holiday that celebrates romance even though I do not have a “love” in my life. (Nor do I want one.) I have shared with you before that Valentine’s Day can be very lonely as we look at all the sentimental ads, see all the romantic movies on the Lifetime channel, the cupids dangling from the grocery store ceilings, the boxes of candy wrapped in red, and the mounds of flowers that greet us. All point to love and romance. Unless, like me you are alone. Then it all seems to mock me in my loneliness.
Some years ago I had had enough of my self-pity and decided to do something about it! So I decided to have a group of single gals in for a dinner party with all the trimmings complete with party favors. I have repeated it several times and this year was no exception! I had a few single gals come for dinner – tried out some new recipes, set the table festively in red and white and splurged on a big bunch of red tulips. Each of the ladies brought something and the meal was delicious. We had interesting conversation, got to know each other better, good food and lots of laughter. What more you could you ask? It was a very compatible group and I enjoyed myself entirely. None of us thought about our “single” status – we were having too much fun! (I am not sure many “couples” had as good a time!)
But I have been thinking about love. My daughter gave me a wonderful book, Loving the Way Jesus Loves by Phil Ryken. Excellent. I have not finished it yet – I just received it Friday. But just in the first several pages I have been challenged in my own life about the motives I have for doing things. He writes about I Corinthians, chapter 13 not as a passage to be read at weddings – as lovely as it is – but as a verb, as an action not an affection. He says, “It is possible to use our gifts for ministry without having love in our hearts for anyone except ourselves”. (ouch!) “We are so selfish that it is even possible for us to do something that looks like it is for someone else when it is really for us – to enhance our own reputation or feed our satisfaction with our selves.”
I had to stop and ask myself about my motives even for the Valentine’s dinner party. Was that just to enhance my own reputation? Make me look good? As I pondered that I realized that I cannot love as Jesus loves. I don’t love as Jesus loves. It was as if a spotlight exposed my darkened and closed heart. Dr. Ryken talks about this chapter being the love that God demands and expounds on the 10 Commandments. “These are not just the laws of God; they also display the love God demands. Each commandmnet requires us to love our neighbor. When God sasy, “Do not murder,” he is telling us to love our neighbor by protecting their lives. When he says, “Do not commit adultery,” he is telling us to love people by safeguarding their sexual purity. And so forth.”
I do not love that way. I have fallen short and will continue to do so. All my best efforts to love have been coated in a layer of self. Everything is tainted by self. My only hope to love the way Jesus does is the grace of God and the power of His Holy Spirit working in and through me. I believe that is true for all of us. Only Jesus can deliver me/us from my/our own self-interest. The Apostle Paul understood this when he wrote Romans 7:19-25.
And I love Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Thank you, Jesus! He has paid it all for me/us. I/We am/are clothed in His righteousness. I have none of it my own even on my best day. It is all Him! Hallelujah what a Savior!
Yesterday was a fun day. My oldest daughter and her girls, with me in tow, drove to Washington, D.C. to meet up with my youngest daughter and her 5-year old (today)who drove from Philadelphia. We went to the American Girl Doll store to celebrate her birthday.
We arrived around 1:00 for a lunch reservation at 1:15. It was crowded, and noisy, with little girls clutching their dolls, mothers looking harried, fathers quietly enduring as they pulled out their wallets and grandparents looking bemused. I was somewhat surprised as many of the girls at a nearby table pulled out their own iPhones to take photos of each other!
We were on a budget and I must admit with 3 little girls in tow I was very proud that there wasn’t a lot of “I wants” and I am quite sure all three that belonged to me would loved to have had one of everything! But they were as good as gold when told they could only have one small item. (My oldest granddaughter already had two dolls, one she sweetly shared with her sister.) The birthday girl got a few more items including her very own doll.
I was overwhelmed by all that you can buy for your doll – including a spa treatment with skin clarifying mask and cucumber eye discs! You can take your doll to have its hair done and several styles from which to choose. You can buy beds, sheets, matching PJs, a horse and its paraphernalia, a VW Beetle in baby blue…there is no end to the accessories! I saw parents leave the store with huge bags of supplemental items. All had at a rather princely sum.
It seemed to be a happy madhouse. The store had everything down to a marketing science in order to extract as much money from you as they could. And as I looked around, I wondered what message we are giving our young girls. Does “stuff” make us happy? Do young girls need to think about spa treatments? Matching outfits and accessories? A pony? A car? What happened to imagination?
Please don’t get me wrong. I like the wholesomeness of the American Girl Dolls and their accompanying stories – it is refreshing after the nauseating, spoiled sophistication of Barbie. But what happened to imagination and delayed gratification? Let’s hear it for both.
I know things have changed. But when I was young my sister, Anne, and I would imagine an old tree stump as a fairy castle and play for hours. A junior baseball bat became a pony as we galloped through the house. We played “house” in the woods after school with make-believe kitchens and families. We entertained ourselves for hours on end. We were only allowed to watch a few television shows per week. And we had books! Imagine that!
My grandchildren think of me as “old” and ask me if we had telephones when I was a little girl! Yes. We did! We also had imaginations and unhurried time to use them. Being busy, having “stuff” doesn’t give us or our children value. Having integrity, discipline and faith in a loving, holy God is what is important for our young people today. And that goes against our culture. But we need to give our children integrity, strength of character and a knowledge of God found in the person of Jesus.
It has been cold…down in the single digits!It makes me think about,long for, summer.
My grandchildren were here for Sunday dinner after church today and afterwards my grandson grabbed the brochure for the beach area we usually visit in September. He was looking longingly…as were we all! But I reminded them that we have a cruise to Alaska planned this year – we can’t do both! By the way, you are invited to come along. I think I have mentioned it before – now that the holidays are over perhaps you can begin to think about it.
If you have never been to Alaska, you owe it to yourself to see the spectacular scenery and experience only that which you will in this great, rugged outdoors. There is a spirit in Alaska that is unique in our country – it is our last frontier. Come. Let’s experience it together while we are fed from God’s Word and inspired by thrilling music. Can’t beat that!
When: August 3-10, 2013
Who: Steve Brown, radio personality and Bible teacher extraordinaire, Steve Amerson, America’s Tenor, and me!
Where: From Seattle on the Holland America Line, Westerdam
Learn more: inspirationcruises.com/SAA
We will have a blast! I want to see you on board! Sign up early before it gets filled up!