Finally we are getting some true Spring weather – things are going to be gorgeous for Easter – picture perfect.
This is Holy Week. We just celebrated Palm Sunday. Jesus riding on a donkey into Jerusalem with people shouting “Hosanna!”
I wonder if, as the week progressed into the mundane, did the people forget? Did they forget the excitement they felt? Did they forget that they thought Jesus would save them as they did on Sunday? Had it sunk in or was it forgotten? Did they have any clue how the week would end? Did they care?
I think we need to ask ourselves the same question. Do we really care about the significance of Easter? Or is it just another family holiday? An excuse to buy a new outfit and go out to lunch?
What do we focus on this week? Be honest…is it planning the food? Doing some gardening? Scheduling a photographer for cute pictures of the children with a bunny rabbit? Or is it just another week at work.
I suggest to you that the majority of us fall into the last category. It’s just another week. I will admit I have been concerned about the food as I was anticipating my youngest daughter and her family coming for the weekend. Now they are not coming after all. But I already put up a chocolate pound cake, 2 pans of lasagne, huge amount of mashed potatoes and 2 loaves of garlic bread. So I am ready for a crowd that isn’t coming!
That’s what I get for trying to be prepared!
But it made me think about how quickly I get busy and forget the reason for the season. I get the same way at Christmas.
I have it all backwards. I need to take a breath, slow down, get still and mediate on the Lord’s week. He knew how the week would end…He would be betrayed by a trusted friend; He would be arrested, denied by one of his closest buddies, tried in an illegal trial where the crowds shouted for him to be executed. The authorities acquiesced taking the coward’s way out. He was turned over and beaten, humiliated, tortured and crucified. Death. Burial. Visit to hell. Resurrection. He knew that was what lay ahead. And he “set His face for Jerusalem”. If it were me, I would head in the opposite direction. I suspect you would too.
He knew it was ahead of Him. He was human so He must have dreaded it. I think that is what the garden of Gethsemane was all about – His struggle over what was ahead. He didn’t just meekly go into it; He struggled – so much so He sweated blood. He was in anguish as He wrestled with what God was asking of Him. Think of what your struggle would be.
The difference between Jesus and most of us is, He obeyed. He surrendered His will to God’s. Totally. We should too.
I doubt I will ever get there…but I truly want to be better at it. Even when it hurts.
Jesus also knew that Easter was at the end of the week! He knew He was going to triumph over death and hell – for my sake and yours. The cruelty and humiliation He suffered was because He loved you and me so much He didn’t want us perish in our sins. He wanted us to live in His grace and mercy and love from now through eternity. We can enjoy it now – not wait ’til we die!
Let us remember our Hosannas everyday this week and beyond!
Dear friends, I am sorry to have stayed away so long.
I got back from India weary but so glad I went and thrilled to meet those there as well as the ministry that took place.
I was home about 13 days before my travel took off. Since February 11th I have traveled to Alabama, California, Louisiana, Missouri and South Carolina. Each place was very special.
Windsor was with me in Alabama – she is a delight to travel with. She speaks so well- with poise -and connects with people. I am delighted God is using her in this way.
Then I went to Fresno to speak for Youth for Christ. They do such a great work. My father was their first full-time employee – so it has roots in my family tree for sure. I had a couple of days “off” then to Angola Prison in Louisiana.
I had to drive over the mountain in the snow and ice to get to a hotel near the airport so they could drive me to the airport early in the morning. The flight from Charlotte to Baton Rouge was canceled so I had to go into New Orleans. Tex, bless him drove down from Angola to fetch me. We all arrived at the same time and the joy bubbled over! This was my 3rd time and it was great to recognize faces, see big smiles and receive big hugs from the men there. And a special joy to have some of the Ruth Graham & Friends back together again.
We had a great time – serious time – but we really are friends. We had a new fellow with us: Jonathan MacReynolds. Boy! Is he talented! Look him up on the Web. I still have his tunes in my head! Warden Cain was so good to us as were “Big Lou” and “Hop Sing”. Big Lou can cook!! I mean. Great food. I had to be careful – good Southern food: greens, biscuits, fried fish, jumbalaya, corn bread, ribs… And Hop Sing can bake! He made an Italian wedding cake to die for and his cookies are addictive. And his pies…oh my! It’s a good thing I don’t like sweets. But I sure like the things he bakes!
The ministry that took place was precious. We spoke at each chapel – each camp has a chapel (each camp has about 1,100 men). I spoke on forgiveness. Afterwards the Warden told the men what an important subject it was for them. They go before the parole board and show so little remorse that they are turned down. He encouraged them to really grasp the concept of forgiveness – asking for forgiveness…
We visited Death Row as well. As we walked the corridor we sang “Amazing Grace”. Many sang along. They remembered us from last time.
Burl Cain has created a wonderful atmosphere at the prison. Oh, I know there are ugly places there and I know these men have done heinous things. But God’s grace is transforming. Burl was a high school teacher and he brings that sort of structure to the prison. He tells the men he respects them – it is theirs to loose. It works!
The last night the men presented me with a glass bowl made of broken glass shards. At the same time they gave the Warden a handmade pen to honor his 20 years as Warden. In how many prisons do prisoners give a gift to their Warden? Amazing.
A few days later I went to Missouri then to Charleston to speak at Charleston Southern University. Great school. Loved the people I met. Now I am home for a month!
I am so blessed to work with wonderful people, go to interesting places and meet great folks working for the Kingdom. I wish I could tuck you in my suitcase for you to experience some of it.
Thank you for praying.
src=”https://ruthgraham.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/carey-puplit.jpg?w=224″ alt=”In William Carey’s pulpit.” width=”224″ height=”300″ class=”size-medium wp-image-1744″ /> In William Carey’s pulpit.
[/caption]src=”https://ruthgraham.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/gus-peters.jpg?w=224″ alt=”Pastor of Carey Baptist Church, Gus Peters.” width=”224″ height=”300″ class=”size-medium wp-image-1745″ /> Pastor of Carey Baptist Church, Gus Peters.[/caption]
Thank you for praying. It was a quick, hard, wonderful trip.
All our planes were on time, the luggage arrived, we stayed healthy…God was gracious.
India is really on the other side of the world – such along trip. Twenty hours by air – changing planes in Doha, Qatar. No plane is comfortable or pleasant for that much time. But at least I didn’t have to walk or swim!
Krista and I arrived in Calcutta at about 2:30 AM. The person we thought was to meet us was not there. We waited for an hour outside the airport but finally decided we were very tired and needed to find a place to sleep. All the while men were coming up volunteering to take us to a hotel. There was one gentleman that stayed by us the whole time – like a guardian. We asked if there was a Marriott or Hilton. He said “no” but he knew a hotel nearby. I was not scared but I was concerned.
We got in his cab and drove off. The first hotel was not acceptable. I soon realized that my standard of acceptable was very different form Calcutta’s standard! I told him to take us into the city thinking surely there would be some business hotel…
He took off into the night.
I knew Calcutta was a unique city in the world but I was not prepared for the pollution, traffic, crowd, noise…the poverty is on a different level.
We got to a hotel that wasn’t much better than the first but we were too tired to argue. It was now about 4:30 AM. We got two rooms, were able to get Internet so we could notify folks where we were and went to sleep. (Every room has a fine layer of dust. The bed linens are dingy gray as is the one towel.)
We slept until about 10:30. The pastor of the Carey Baptist Church, Gus Peters, called to pick us up for lunch. (Coming out of the restaurant we saw a large dead rat – glad I saw him after lunch!) We had a great time with him. He took us to tour the city – saw Victoria’s memorial and other sites – went to the Ganges river and watched a man prepare to deposit a family member’s ashes then go through the Hindu ritual of “burial”. Others were lined up to do the same. The river is wide but so polluted. Hindu shrines seem to be on each corner. Incense and flowers…
The roads and traffic are hard to describe. They are like nothing I have ever experienced (with maybe the exception of Tokyo and Cairo back in the 60s). In Calcutta there seem to be no traffic rules – the one who gets his nose in first, has the right of way! The roads are JAMMED with taxis, busses, trucks, mopeds, pedicabs, rickshaws, some private cars (even saw a Land Rover and a Porsche dealership!!), people, animals…The sidewalks are taken with small stalls to sell any number of items so people are forced into the road. Potholes and broken roads abound. It is jarring, to say the least. Horns beep and blast all the time….
From there we went to the church and the Calcutta Bible College. What a contrast! We attended the Tuesday night Bible study there and then had dinner with the pastor and his family in their home. Such a privilege.
At that point we were about to fall into our plates. Gus took us back to our hotel to get some rest. That was our first day!
The next day we were to meet up with our friend, Kishor Pandagade, from the Sates who had missed his plane out of Jerusalem. We met him at the airport at the last minute and flew to the Assam region (the tea growing capital) and drove 3 hours up to Udalguri – close to the Bhutan border where we were guests of the Boro Baptist Convention.
More to come…plus pictures.
It’s hard to believe Christmas was just a little over 4 weeks ago!
I am writing this to ask you to pray for me as I head to India on February 1st. It will be a full trip with many opportunities to minister to those who are hurting and discouraged. I will be in the Assam region – near the Bhutan border – speaking to thousands of people. I have never been to this part of the world and I am looking forward to the experience. I arrive back in DC on February 11th – so it is a quick trip – hardly have time to adjust to the time change.
Please pray for the messages I will bring to these dear people. My message of grace does not change but I want the messages, illustrations, to be understandable and appropriate. I do not want cultural differences to be a hindrance. I do have an Indian friend who has gone over them for me.
I ask you to pray for all the travel arrangements to go smoothly, baggage to arrive, health, stamina… Pray for the translators to be accurate – and even improve my message! Mostly pray, Jesus will be lifted up and glorified as the one True God and Savior of us all. I want all we do and say to be a blessing.
My wonderful assistant, Krista, is accompanying me. She is very diplomatic and gracious – as well as lots of fun.
I am not sure I’ll have Internet while there…but when I do I will report to you! Thank you for praying.
Is anyone as frustrated as I am about packaging? Everything is packaged in such a way as to cause the person trying to open it, some bodily harm! It drives me crazy. From child proof caps to milk jugs to CD covers to olive jars. Maddening!
Maybe it is my age or early arthritis in my left hand but it seems like everything is hard to open. This morning I tried to open a bottle of milk for my cereal. It was a plastic bottle. The lid was attached by a plastic seal that splits as you twist. It didn’t. I finally got a knife to split the little ring from the lid and even then it was difficult. I was about to give up when it finally gave way. And my hand hurt.
Yesterday, I tried to open a jar of pickled peppers. I like them in my salad. I didn’t think it would be a big deal. Wrong.
It was a plastic jar with a plastic lid that had a seal between the jar and the lid. It was supposed to twist open and the seal would break. It didn’t happen. No matter how hard I twisted. I got a knife to pop the seal. That didn’t work. I tried to pry the lid off. That didn’t work. I banged it in the counter. That didn’t work. I had one of those rubber discs. That didn’t work.
Frustrated, I left it on the counter and ate my salad without the peppers.
Later, as I went out the door to go to the grocery store, I saw the jar of pickled peppers and decided to take them back to the store for the manager to open it. On the way into the store I noticed the potato chip delivery man. The bottom of a carton full of bags of potato chips opened and all the bags spilled out on the parking lot. The man was scrambling to pick them all up before a car came and smashed them. I offered to help but he said he was OK and mumbled about the quality of the box.
He went back to his truck. I then remembered my pickle jar! So when he got back out of his truck, I asked if he would help me! He agreed. I showed him the jar of pickled peppers. He was only to happy to show off to me! Even with gloves on he struggled to open it! I felt vindicated!
I told him I wasn’t married so there was no man in the house to open them. (What a great “pick up” line if I were that kind of girl!)
So next time I need a jar opened I may just have the check out person or bag-person open them before I leave the store!!
But that’s nuts. Why does packaging have to be so difficult?
On New Year’s Eve I went to see the movie, “Unbroken”. A story of incredible torture and suffering during World War II in the Pacific. It is intense. It is a story of remarkable character and courage.
But it is sad that the best part of his life was glossed over in a sentence or two.
Louie Zamporini came home from the war a hero. But he was full of resentment and hatred for what happened to him. He married but soon his life spiraled out of control. The nightmares of his time in prison tormented him every night. He began to drink to try to forget. He was full of anger. His wife could not longer take it and filed for divorce.
But a neighbor invited her to come hear a young evangelist in Los Angeles by the name of Billy Graham. She went and gave her heart to Christ. She came home and told her husband she was changed and would not go through with the divorce. She asked him to accompany her to hear Billy Graham. He reluctantly went and left the meeting declaring he never wanted to go back. The next night she invited him again; he loved her so he agreed but said he would leave before the invitation.
He did go and as he listened to Billy Graham he was convicted by the scriptures. He committed his life to Christ that night and immediately knew he was changed. The anger was gone. He never had another nightmare.
It is a remarkable story – a miracle. How God changed his life. You can see “the rest of the story” that was left out of the film but go to: billygraham.org/video/louis-zamperini-captured-by-grace/. It will thrill you!
The movie, “Unbroken” was good but the best was left out. See for yourself!