Good Friday, Holy Week, Love

REFLECTIONS ON HOLY WEEK

As we enter Holy Week, I’ve been thinking about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I hope you’ll follow along.

Saturday, a devotional I use invited me to read Matthew 26:14-27:66. Then on Palm Sunday, the congregation followed a little donkey across the church grounds to the front doors as a minister led us in a dramatic reading of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

PalmSundayCollage

We were given palm fronds to wave like the crowd that called out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Once inside the sanctuary, the dramatic reading continued using the text from the same scripture I read on Saturday. Chosen for this season in the life of the church, the long passage lays out events from the Last Supper to Jesus’s burial.

What transpired that week rocked the world, especially Jesus’ disciples and other followers. As I read and then listened to the account of his arrest, trial, and crucifixion, I tried to put myself in their places. How confusing and frightening it must have been. Even though Jesus attempted to prepare his followers beforehand, they couldn’t begin to understand until after His resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Birds: Five Points to Ponder

Thought Provoking Question

Saturday’s devotional asked me to identify the “threshold” moments I saw in the account. (One definition of threshold is a place or point of entering or beginning, doorway, entrance, portal.)

I thought more about what had been ripped away from Jesus’ followers than a new beginning. The actions of Judas and Peter are so well known, they were the easiest to identify.

How could Judas betray Jesus for money?

And blustery Peter — all talk.

Then there were the disciples who slept while Jesus prayed, the Jewish officials bent on killing Him, members of the mob, mocking soldiers, Pilate, the thieves crucified with Him, the Centurion, casual passersby, Joseph of Arimathea, and the women who watched from a distance.

All had a role in what we’ve come to call the The Passion of Jesus.


Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. Matt. 27:55-56 NIV


MAKING IT PERSONAL

How easy it is to judge poor Peter through hind sight, until I ask myself how often I have run away and hidden. The truth is, I doubt if I could have summoned the courage to follow and watch the proceedings in the face of such danger.

I don’t think I’m alone.

The reading stirred questions about the Church in 2017.

I HAVE TO ASK

Sea Art

Does maintaining the status quo ever justify packing the court in favor of our position?

Does our need for acceptance prevent us from thinking for ourselves?

Are we tempted to use our power to humiliate someone with a differing opinion?

Do we avoid accepting responsibility by pawning if off on others and washing our hands of unfair consequences?

Are we brave enough to honor someone who falls out of favor and is “crucified” by public opinion?

Are we strong enough to be as faithful as the powerless women who kept watch during the worst day of their lives?

Are we humble enough when we’re guilty of wrongdoing, to admit it and seek forgiveness. Or do we make excuses because we’re too proud to admit our misdeeds?

MOMENT OF TRUTH

Don'sCrossEach time I

fail to stand up for the truth of the Gospel

seek to work out my own plan

vote with the crowd

look out for myself first

I deny and betray Him.

GOOD NEWS

But the Good News is, even when I’m at my worst, Jesus understands my frailty. And thankfully, His resurrection didn’t depend on undependable followers.

I look forward to Sunday when we’ll celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. But until then, I invite you to remember with me what He suffered on our behalf.

Through the power of His cross, he still invites us to step across the most important threshold of our lives — the one that leads into eternity with Him. All we must do is acknowledge our need for a Savior and accept His sacrifice.

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Faith is a mystery that each of us has to explore. But this I know from experience, when we honestly seek Him, He will come. Whatever happens, I want to be found faithful like those women who kept watch — especially when I don’t understand.

flower-crossI hope you will consider Jesus, the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world.

If you’ve met Him, I am certain you will be honoring Him come Easter morn.

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled with God by the death of his Son, much more, now reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 

Romans 5:10 JUB

 

Devotionals, Encouragement, friendship, Life Lessons

DREAM

 

not-afraid

I’ve already told you how I overdid it last year. Traveled too much. Rushed from one thing to another so that by Christmas, I was tired and discouraged. But looking back, I see how family and friends encouraged me.

One kind gesture came from my writing friend, Cindy, through a small Christmas present. She may not have realized it, but her gift was three-fold—a long lunch, a heartfelt note, and a small star-scattered dish.

dream1

I’m sure Cindy chose this little saucer for its message.

Her note reminded me of how much I’d accomplished in the past year. She listed specifics, one-by-one.

Then we ate a lovely Trios’ lunch and talked about our families, writing challenges, and our friendship. By the time lunch was over, I had a new way of looking at the past year—and a new appreciation for why I was weary, along with a deeper love for Cindy. Thank you, friend.

dream2

That little dish sits in my bathroom now where it holds the jewelry I’m favoring these days. I rotate bracelets, earrings, and necklaces, so something is always resting there.

However, I’ve noticed something. Occasionally, it gets so full of pretty things that I can no longer see the image emblazoned on its surface.

dream3

Isn’t that how life is sometimes? We get so busy with good things, pretty things that we forget to dream and reach for the stars.

Not that pretty things are bad in themselves, but they have a way of distracting us from the main thing.

Do you or did you have a dream? You know, a perhaps an even secret desire to do something or follow a path that seemed impossible.

Maybe you’re actually living your dream now. If so, I say, Bravo! because it takes commitment and concentration to follow them.

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Photo by Steve Rucker

Or maybe like me, that dream keeps getting lost in the shuffle or covered up by things that seem to take precedence for one reason or another.

Does it feel like it’s too late?

DREAM!

If that dream is from God, it’s not too late.

He still has plans for you, for me.

His timing doesn’t always coincide with ours, but He’s never late.

… though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.  Hab. 2:3b

And I remind myself that the reality of that dream may look different from what I expected, but He is faithful. So I believe it will be better.

I hope you’ll let God revive the dream He gave you long ago or plant a new one in your heart.

Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Ps. 37:4

 

Bible, Bird Nests, Christian, Conversation, Faith, Guidance, Life Lessons, Nature, Trees, winter

SIMPLE CONVERSATIONS

 

road

Do you ever have conversations with God? You know, just talk to him as you drive along or walk down the street by yourself.

I do.

All the time.

It’s different from praying in church or over a list of people and concerns.

It’s more like talking to a friend.

Stay with me here.

Before you call me crazy and jump off this page, hear me out.

I can’t say I’ve ever heard God’s voice audibly. And I can’t exactly explain how I differentiate what I hear from my own thoughts, but I’ll try.

Be Wise

For one thing, as a Christian, I know there are lots of voices out there. So I use the Bible as my point of reference when I evaluate what I think I’ve heard, mainly the New Testament. (Lots of things have been done in the name of God that He had nothing to do with.)

If it involves important decisions, I run it past someone I respect spiritually. I also ask myself if it’s just my wishful thinking. And I do my best not rush into anything.

How Do Answers Come?

Sometimes I get my answer when I read or hear the same thing several different places. (After the third time, I really pay attention.)

Or a Bible verse may play over and over in my mind the way one did at the beginning of the year. If you missed that post, you can still read it here.

Other times, an answer will come in the form of a new thought that leads me to do a little research, which gives me a new perspective.

Consider the Trees

wintertrees

 

 

As I walked down the street one afternoon recently, I heard,

Slow down.

No need to rush.

Look around  you.

See the deciduous trees?

This is their season of rest.

tree3

I began to look closely at the beauty of barren branches. Some reached upward like slender ballerinas.

 

Others stood guard like sturdy He-men, arms outspread.

Some were old and ragged, missing limbs. Others leaned in one direction, stretching toward the sun.

Each was beautiful in its own way.

tree4Questions Are Okay

“But Lord,” I said, “aren’t they doing something that I can’t see? Like putting down roots deep in the earth?” (And, yes. I talk to him the way I might talk to you.)

Look it up, I heard.

So when I got home, I Googled What do deciduous trees do in winter?

I found, according to Mother Nature Network, Northern Woodlands and several other sources, deciduous trees go through a dormant period in the winter similar to animals hibernating.

Webster’s Dictionary notes dormancy as being marked by a suspension of activity. It’s a resting phase in which essential life processes continue at a minimum rate.

“Okay,” I said. “But if that means you want me to slow down even more, you’ll have to help me let go of saying yes when I shouldn’t, falling back into striving, and measuring my worth by what I achieve.”

What I Heard

Just meet me every morning with your Bible and your journal. Sit with me. Be present to Me. Tell me what’s on your heart. Then listen.  Allow Me to restore your soul. I’ll show you how to be present in the moment so that later you can be truly present to those around you.

quiet-time

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know I am.

Be still and know.

Be still.

Be.

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Just BE in the presence of the Great I AM.

My Answer

“Here I am, Lord.”

What about you?

Can you identify your own particular season of life ?

I’d love to hear about it.

 

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,”
when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

Isaiah 30:21