Category Archives: Easter and Lent

Worship Wednesday – All Creatures of Our God and King – O Praise Him! – with David Crowder

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“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.Job 12:7-10
My pillow has been a constant companion these two weeks since surgery. It rested my head and splinted my side. It has been a help to me in recovery.
This morning, I made up the bed with that pillow in its place there…
Last night was the first night in two weeks that I slept through until dawn. Slept through. That rarely happened even before surgery. Since then, I have dreaded the nighttime, with not being able to get comfortable in any position for very long.
This morning marked a change and it’s been a glorious day. Sure, I am still short of breath and weak sometimes, and the pain breaks through…but, today, I feel strongly on the mend.
God did not make this a perfect June day for just me…but I’m celebrating in it…and in Him. After joining my neighbors this morning for a brief part of their longer walk-around, I sat in a bit of shade as the sun came up over the trees. These tall oaks form a canopy over the yard, and I love watching the sun peek through as the branches sway in the breeze.

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As I sat, soaking in all the beauty around me, the dew was still fresh on the lawn…sparking like diamonds strewn across the yard. I’m not meaning to be a poetic poser here, but you know what it’s like to see something almost for the first time…

This morning felt like Easter morning to me. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). All around is the sight, scent, and sound of life, and I am in the beautiful midst of it…cancer diagnosis and all.

Grateful to God today for His creation and all the signs of life, around me and inside this body He’s given me. A whole night’s sleep. Dave did have to just about hoist me out of bed because my back and chest felt frozen in that sleep position…but up I came, and up all day.

I’m confident from everything I know about this cancer surgery and its recovery that there will still be harder days. Today is a complete gift – complete with sun, blue sky, low humidity, and a delicious breeze all day long.

Every day, no matter the weather or circumstance, is a gift from a loving Creator God. I pray yours is full of Him today, whatever path you are walking…and the beauty of His creation is a perfect distraction, drawing you into what is most real and sustaining in life…IMG_6259

Worship with me to this old hymn written by Francis of Assisi and sung by David Crowder:

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing

O praise Him, Alleluia

Thou burning sun with golden beam
Thou silver moon with softer gleam

O praise Him, O praise Him
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along

O praise Him, Alleluia

Thou rising moon in praise rejoice
Ye lights of evening find a voice

O praise Him, O praise Him
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia

Let all things their Creator bless
And worship Him in humbleness

O praise Him, Alleluia

Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son
And praise the Spirit, three in one

O praise Him, O praise Him
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia

Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son
And praise the Spirit, three in one

O praise Him, O praise Him
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia*

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5 Friday Faves – Compassionate Baristas, a Foster Child, Joey Feek’s Legacy, a Daredevil Guitar Arrangement, and a John Piper Sermon Jam

Blog - Friday Faves

How is it that Friday arrives every week with lightening speed?! Okay, maybe not for everyone…but be glad about that. I am left wondering again: where did the week go? Fortunately it did not pass by without leaving me with some treasures I’ll share with you.

1) Compassionate Baristas – You may have seen the story this week of Dutch Bros. Coffee baristas Pierce Dunn and Evan Freeman. They discovered that a woman in the car line waiting for her order was crying [her husband had died the night before]. They quickly reached out to her, and in a moment of grace-filled spontaneity prayed for her at the window. Her coffee was on the house. Sweet story and video.Blog - Friday Faves - Dutch Brothers pray for customer - March 2016Photo Credit: Daily Mail

2) A Foster Child – The circumstances that force children into foster care can be devastating and tragic. Nathaniel Matanick produced a magnificent short film,  entitled “ReMoved“, about the journey of a foster child (through her eyes). I watched it on Facebook this week and was so moved by the story – the heart-break and the hope. You can watch it here. Also, I just discovered Matanick has finished “ReMoved – Part 2“.Blog - Foster Child - childadvocatesPhoto Credit: Child Advocates

3) Joey Feek’s Legacy – When country singer Joey Feek died, she left behind her husband, Rory, and a darling 2 y/o daughter named Indy (Indiana). Indy has Down’s Syndrome…although the fact seemed irrelevant to their story. Last Fall, Joey realized she probably wouldn’t not survive the cancer and she quite deliberately began a self-less, loving process for Indy’s sake. This little girl who wanted to be with her all the time. This little girl who Joey loved more than anything. Joey began the painful process of intentionally becoming less in Indy’s life and opened up opportunity for Indy’s daddy, Rory, to become more to her. He writes magnificently about it in his blog. What a picture of great love! What a loss! What a legacy!Blog - Joey Feek - legacy - todayPhoto Credit: Today

4)  A Daredevil Guitar Arrangement – Nathan Mills of Beyond the Guitar just posted a new guitar arrangement of the theme from the Netflix TV show Daredevil. It is beautiful.

5) John Piper Sermon Jam – 3 minutes of powerful preaching about the perfect love of God for us and the deep cost of that love. Don’t miss it.

Hope you have a weekend ahead full of friends, family, and fun (which could mean just a few hours all by yourself). For those of you who celebrate Eastern/Orthodox Easter this weekend, Happy Easter!

“He is risen! He is risen indeed!”

P.S. I know a few men who have a man cave and are still wise (and possibly even great), but I loved this graphic all the same.Blog - Man CavePhoto Credit: Facebook

Would love to hear about your favorite finds of this week. In Comments. Thanks!

5 Friday Faves – Training Your Mind to Be a Winner; the Invisible Woman; a Great Speech; Resurrection of Jesus; and Nassim Haramein

Blog - Friday Faves

Some weeks provide very little time to write, let alone reflect on life. I’m in the midst of a bit of that craziness. This is Holy Week moving quickly to Easter Sunday. It’s a week I mean to savor even in the course of a hectic time at work and lots going on in the family and the neighborhood. Taking time to remember what happened each day of that week in the life of Jesus helps me to stop the world briefly…and monumentally.

My Friday Faves this week are sort of all over the place. They stirred learning for me, made me laugh, inspired me, and stilled my heart for a moment at the wonder of life. I trust you will find something here that does the same for you.

1) Training Your Mind to Be a Winner – The whole field of leadership development is often a focus of my reading. It’s fascinating to find helps from disciplines very different from my own.  LaRae Quy is a former FBI undercover and counterintelligence agent. She now takes what she learned professionally and applies it to her speaking, writing, and coaching in mental toughness and leadership. She is the author of Secrets of a Strong Mind and Mental Toughness for Women Leaders. Whet your appetite on the articles 5 Ways to Train Your Mind to Think Like a Winner, 4 Secrets of Mental Toughness, and How to Strengthen Your Mental Toughness Like an FBI Agent.BLog - LaRae Quy

Photo Credit: Twitter

2) The Invisible Woman – No, this is not referring to the 2013 film with the same name (Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones). This find is a sketch by Nicole Johnson of Fresh Brewed Life (author of the book of the same name). In just under 6 minutes, she speaks to the heart of women…especially mothers…dispelling the sense that much of what they do goes unseen. As if it were irrelevant or inconsequential. Not so! God sees…. Take the time to watch and listen and be encouraged (Men, you could do with some encouragement as well, I’m thinking).

3) A Great Speech – We slog on through the primary season of this U.S. Presidential Election year. Whatever our political views, a great speech can punctuate all the rhetoric and restore our hope…for sure, in that moment, anyway. When Senator Marco Rubio suspended his campaign, after losing his home state’s primary, he spoke to his supporters. Again, whatever our political views, it was a great speech… With all the mud-slinging, political wrangling, and various candidates pitted against each other, I was glad to hear him continuing to urge us not to give up and to stand for what we believe.

4) Resurrection of Jesus – I came across this short video on my Twitter feed. The question is asked, “Did Jesus rise from the dead?” The video is produced by Impact 360 – a campus/curriculum/community which guides its students toward leadership, cultural understanding, and a Biblical worldview. Check out the video (and others on their website).

5) Nassim Haramein – Nassim Haramein is a physicist, inventor, and surfer. He is an example of how scientists can talk on, sounding brilliant, whether they really know what they’re talking about or not. Haramein has his critics and he has loyal fans. Whether he’s an expert or not, he is incredibly amusing as a presenter. I don’t remember how he came on my radar, but the video below captivated me. Don’t waste your life watching the whole of it, but 30 minutes in, there are some hilarious moments. I actually could believe I understood what he was saying. What do you think? Is he for real, or not?

Bonus: The Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., was breath-taking as always this year. Here’s just a sample from my friend Jennifer Wong.Blog - Friday Faves - Cherry Blossoms - by Jennifer WongPhoto Credit: Jennifer Wong

What were your favorite finds of this week? Please comment below. Have a lovely weekend.

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Worship Wednesday – At the Cross – with Chris Tomlin

Blog - Worship Wednesday - At the Cross 2Photo Credit: YouTube

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.1 Peter 2:24

The holiness of God and His love for an unholy people required an act that only He Himself could accomplish for us to be restored to Him. A perfect sacrifice. A sinless Savior. God Himself in the person of His Son taking our sins upon Himself. Because of that death, that cross, and His resurrection that followed, we can know our debt of sin is paid and death has no claim on us. Amazing!

It leaves me without words every time I think about what God did for us to restore us to Himself.

Fortunately, God gives words to songwriters to express what we want to express to Him…our wonder, our gratitude, our love.

Worship with me:

There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies
There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide

Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down

At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You, I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to You, I owe all to You
Jesus

There’s a place where sin and shame are powerless
Where my heart has peace with God
And forgiveness

Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down

At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You, I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to You, I owe all to You

Here my hope is found
Here on holy ground
Here I bow down
Here I bow down
Here arms open wide
Here You saved my life
Here I bow down
Here I bow

At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You, I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to You, I owe all to You
I owe all to You, I owe all to You
Jesus

Blog - Worship Wednesday - At the Cross - youtubePhoto Credit: YouTube

Lyrics: At the Cross (Love Ran Red) written by Matt Armstrong, Ed Cash, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman and Jonas Myrin

YouTube Video – Chris Tomlin – At the Cross (Love Ran Red) – Lyrics & Chords

YouTube Video – Chris Tomlin – Story Behind the Song At the Cross (Love Ran Red)

Holy Week – Each Day of that Week in the Life of Jesus – Right Through to His Death, Burial, and Resurrection

Blog - Holy Week - fumcamesPhoto Credit: FUMCAmes

“The resurrection of Jesus changes the face of death for all His people. Death is no longer a prison, but a passage into God’s presence.  Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.”Clarence W. Hall

This week is unlike any other in the calendar. Through the centuries, this week has been considered holy. We note each day as significant because of what happened for the sake of all humanity in the space of 8 days…8 days that changed history forever.

Many writers commemorate Holy Week. I wrote a series of articles myself this time last year (links are below). Desiring God also has a great series on Holy Week…and Mike Mobley’s Events of the Holy Week. Then there’s Tom Elliff’s beautiful piece on The Easter I’ll Never Forget. You can find much to read on these incredible days of Jesus’ life.

In all the busyness of this month, with school assignments, work deadlines, and Spring vacations, don’t miss Holy Week.

Don’t miss Jesus of Nazareth…whose life is set in history and who sets us into His Story.

Day 1 of Holy Week – Palm Sunday – Jesus’ Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem on the Way to the Cross

Jesus and Holy Week – Monday, Day 2 – Jesus Curses a Fig Tree and Cleanses the Temple

Jesus and Holy Week – Tuesday, Day 3 – a Long Day teaching & Countering Religious Opposition

Jesus and Holy Week – Wednesday, Day 4 – a Day of Quiet Before the Storm – and We Worship

Jesus and Holy Week – Thursday, Day 5 – Passover Celebration and His Last Supper Before the Cross

Jesus and Holy Week – Day 6 – Good Friday – His Trial, Crucifixion, & Burial

Jesus and Holy Week – Saturday, Day 7 – Black Saturday – the Silent Tomb

Jesus and Holy Week – Day 8 – He is Risen! Resurrection Sunday

Resurrection of Jesus – Slideshare

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.”  – the Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:3–7

Blog - Holy Week - resurrection - the gospel coalitionPhoto Credit: The Gospel Coalition

Eid al-Adha – Feast of the Sacrifice – A Day of Prayers & Celebration Around the World

Indian Muslim boys take a goat for sacrifice after offering prayers on Eid al-Adha in Hyderabad, India, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010.Photo Credit: blogs.sacbee.com

“My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together. Genesis 22:7-8

…Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.”  – Genesis 22:13-14

عيد أضحى مبارك كل عام وانتم بخير
“Happy Eid Adha or Eid Mubarak!”

For Muslims, Eid al-Adha (“Feast of the Sacrifice”) is a holy day of similar importance as Easter and Christmas are to believing Christians. It is the day each year that they remember and celebrate God’s provision of a sacrificial animal for obedient Abraham. Abraham submitted himself to God’s instructions on that day centuries ago, and God provided.

Eid al-Adha actually falls during the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. For those who are able and can afford to make the “hajj”, they will celebrate this day as part of their journey in Saudi Arabia.

We spent many years in North Africa and observed our friends and neighbors celebration of Eid al-Adha. Sometimes we were included but usually our friends spent the primary activities of the Eid (prayers, slaughter of an animal, and feasting through the day) together as family. We would be invited over the next days to enjoy the bounty of food that continued through the 3-day celebration.

The memories of those days remain with me. In the days before the feast, sheep markets popped up everywhere.Blog - Sheep for sale - Morocco

As neighbors bought their sheep, the bleating of these animals would spread through the city. Then in the early morning of the Eid, the streets filled with families making their way to the mosque for prayers. Children in new clothes would join their parents, boys with their dads, and girls with their moms, in their designated areas of the mosque. These chanted prayers would fill the air.

Our experience of the killing of the sheep was that butchers would come to where the sheep were – on roofs of apartment buildings or in alleyways beside them, or in the courtyard of villas. There was a prayer over the animal, and the butcher quickly killed the sheep and prepared the body for the grilling that would come later in the day. Sometimes, the animal was carved up and divided to be shared with other family members and with the poor.

There were three distinct smells on that day – the smell of blood, the smell of hair burning (as the sheep heads were burned on an open fire), and the smell of grilled meat. That last smell makes up for the earlier ones. I have seen satellite views online of the predominantly Muslim world on Eid al-Adha where there’s actually a visible cover of smoke. Not sure if it was true or not, but there is so much burning on this day.

Anyway, to my Muslim friends, I greet you on this feast day. Safe travels and sweet times together with those you love. May you know the provision of God for all you need in this life and the next.

We share the same Father Abraham. I shared, from the Torah/Bible, some of the account of his experience with the Lord that day. [In the Quran, the account is found in sura 37.] For us as believing Christians, the Biblical account was a foreshadowing of another Sacrifice, another provision of God.Blog - Abraham's sacrifice and God's provision - sheep - Domenichino en wikipedia org (2)Photo Credit: Domenichino, en.wikipedia.org

“It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” [John the Baptist, speaking – John 1:27]

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

There are others, both religious and irreligious, who find these stories of blood and killing/dying repulsive and off-putting. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, He covered them with the skins of animals, when they hid from God in their no longer innocent nakedness (Genesis 3:21). Our rebellion, our human condition really, requires a provision from a holy God. This is not such a popular view these days…but it is what comes to mind for me on this day.

I am grateful for those things we share with our Muslim friends. Deep relationships and conversations. Sweet memories and making more.

We also celebrate, in different ways, a God who provides. Thanks be to God for His indescribable, unspeakable, all surpassing, exceedingly great gift. (2 Corinthians 9:14)

The Frame: Eid Al-Adha, Feast of the Sacrifice – Photos from around the world

Behold the Lamb of God – John Piper

Perfected for All Time by a Single Offering – John Piper

An Uncle Like Abraham – Do You Have One? Would You Be One?

Worship Wednesday – All Creatures of Our God and King – St. Francis of Assisi & the David Crowder Band

Blog - Sheep - All Creatures

Wild animals and all livestock, small scurrying animals and birds, kings of the earth and all people, rulers and judges of the earth, young men and young women, old men and children. Let them all praise the name of the Lord. For his name is very great; his glory towers over the earth and heaven!Psalm 148:10-13

A friend of mine rescued a baby squirrel yesterday. It must have fallen from its nest in the tree above. Tender-hearted Sarah couldn’t just leave it there. After several hours and the baby was still not retrieved by its mother, Sarah tracked down a wildlife rescue agency (ARK of Virginia). She transported the little guy to the agency and left him in the capable hands of the caregivers there.Blog - All Creatures - SquirrelBlog - All Creatures - Squirrel by Scott Goff with Sarah GoffPhoto Credit: Sarah & Scott Goff

Our social media (Facebook and such) are full of stories of little critters, puppies and kittens, baby pigs and other adorable tinies.

This rescue affected me differently, maybe because I know Sarah. It’s not just about cute animal babies. A much larger story resonated for me in this. About honoring God in honoring His creation.

God made these creatures for our pleasure…and probably His as well. He tempers our hearts with His tenderness for them. The first work He ever gave us was to oversee His creation (Genesis 1:28).

We marvel at the world around us, and we delight in all the creatures – the animals in the wild or those not so wild living with us in our homes, and the humans we enjoy as family, friends, neighbors, both near and far away.

We may wonder at the beauty of creation, but we worship the beautiful Creator. Hopefully we never get that confused.

The Psalmist calls all of God’s creation to worship Him. That Psalm is reflected in the hymn All Creatures of our God and King, a poem first written by St. Francis of Assisi  (1225). It was paraphrased for hymn-singing centuries later by William H. Draper, and we still sing it today.

Worship our Creator God, with me today, with David Crowder’s help:

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing
Oh, praise Him
Alleluia
Thou burning sun with golden beam
Thou silver moon with softer gleam
Oh, praise Him
Oh, praise Him
Alleluia
Alleluia
Alleluia

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in heav’n along
Oh, praise Him
Alleluia
Thou rising moon in praise rejoice
Ye lights of evening find a voice
Oh, praise Him
Oh, praise Him
Alleluia
Alleluia
Alleluia

Let all things their creator bless
And worship Him in humbleness
Oh, praise Him
Alleluia
Praise, praise the Father praise the Son
And praise the Spirit three in one
Oh, praise Him
Oh, praise Him
Alleluia
Alleluia
Alleluia

Praise, praise the Father praise the Son
And praise the Spirit three in one
Oh, praise Him
Oh, praise Him
Alleluia
Alleluia
Alleluia

Lyrics to All Creatures of Our God and King

YouTube Video with Lyrics – All Creatures of Our God and King – David Crowder Band

Story Behind the Song All Creatures of Our God and King

YouTube Video – All Creatures of our God and King (Lasst uns Erfreuen) – Choir of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland

Psalm 148 – All Creatures of Our God and King – Sermon Exposition of the Psalm – Hold on to your hats!

Crowder Music

Photo Credit: Sheep Herd – bpnews.net

Jesus and Holy Week – Day 8 – He is Risen! Resurrection Sunday

Blog - Easter - Empty Tomb

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. – John 20:1 

Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”.John 20:18

On this Sunday, this most glorious day in all of history, death gave way to life. The grave could not hold Jesus. Those who loved Jesus most came to the tomb, guarded and sealed, and found it empty. Then ones, twos, small groups, and a crowd of 500 saw him alive. Jesus himself, bearing the wounds of the cross, walking with them, eating with them, teaching them again…as he promised.

He is alive! This man from Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel, the Lord of the world.

With the breath of creation, He speaks of peace, faith, and mission.

With lungs full of air, He breathes on His disciples and grants His Spirit. My Jesus – alive!

The eyes that saw the darkness of death now drink in the sunlight of Easter. My Jesus – alive!*

[Read the rest of Trevin Wax’s poem here.]

Oh the joy…the indescribable joy of that reality. He died and yet he lives. We were dead in our sins, and because of him, we have life.

Take the time to read this amazing story yourself. The Gospel writers all have given detailed accounts of the risen Christ ( Matthew 28:1-13, Mark 16:1-14, Luke 24:1-49, and John 20:1-29). The Apostle Paul also wrote about Jesus’ resurrection in his letter to the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 15).

Sadly, there are those who treat the resurrection of Jesus as a myth, or a fairy tale. Even his life is treated casually. Yet, for sure, anyone who does a careful examination of the life and teachings of Jesus would be radically changed.  This certainly was my experience. I know too well how wicked my heart can be…my thoughts and actions. God draws us to Himself, and in the drawing we recognize our desperate need for a savior, a strong arm to pull us out of the muck and mire of our own making. Jesus did that for me.

I know Jesus is alive from the historical accounts and the writing of eye witnesses, and because of his own word. I also know he is alive because of how he has transformed lives through the ages. He has changed my life, and he continues to do so.

For the past almost 20 years, during Lent, I have read Adrian Plass’ book The Unlocking. I would like to close with a portion out of his Easter reading.

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”John 20:19

“On that dark Sunday morning, Mary could never have guessed the cosmic significance of the empty tomb. When Jesus rose from the dead the ancient engines of order were fired once more and, in his body on earth, chaos was defeated. And what a wonderful moment for Jesus and his disciples. Neither locks nor fears could withstand the peace and security that the risen Saviour brought, and still brings to his people. It is the peace of knowing that, however rough the road may need to be (and it often is), we shall indeed, in the most real sense, live happily ever after.” – Adrian Plass**

Christ is risen! — He is risen indeed!

Holy Week – Day 8: Resurrection Sunday! – Thank you, Mary Fairfield for writing so well, so thoughtfully, and so thoroughly for Christianity.About.com.

Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ by Sean Davis

*My Jesus – Alive! by Trevin Wax

**The Unlocking – God’s Escape Plan for Frightened People (1994) by Adrian Plass

YouTube Video – Doxology – David Crowder

YouTube Video – Because He Lives – Matt Maher

YouTube video with lyrics – I Can Only Imagine – MercyMe

YouTube video with lyrics – Before the Throne of God Above – sung by Selah

Story Behind the Song Before the Throne of God Above

YouTube Video – Easter Song (Live) – Keith Green – (song starts 2 minutes in)

The Bridge Gospel Presentation

Photo Credit: TurnbacktoGod.com

 

Jesus and Holy Week – Saturday, Day 7 – Black Saturday – the Silent Tomb

Blog - Holy Week - Black SaturdayGarden Tomb, Jerusalem

As I write, the wind is whistling through the bare branches of the tall oaks in our back yard. It’s a lonely sound in the quiet of this Saturday morning. This is the morning of exhausted grief. Jesus, the Messiah, God’s Sent One; His Only One lay dead in a tomb. Dead. How is this possible? The disciples, his family, those followers whose lives were transformed must have been numb with the stark reality that he was not with them…not on that Saturday. What would they do without him? What would happen to them? What? What? What?

There is only one scriptural reference to this day and it related to the threat of Jesus’ power and influence, even in death:

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. – Matthew 27:62-66

Because for the Jews, days begin and end at sundown, most probably this visit with Pilate occurred Friday night. At his command, guards were placed. The tomb was sealed. Jesus would be no more trouble….

He is dead: this man from Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel, the Lord of the world.

With His dying breaths, He spoke words of forgiveness, finality, and faith.

But now the breathing has ceased, and the lungs that exhaled forgiveness are deflated. My Jesus – dead.*

Read the rest of this poem  by Trevin Wax here.

We have the great knowledge of the risen Christ, but his followers, on that Saturday, only had dim recollection of his words of promise. Shrouded in grief, they found themselves quite “in between” – in between the death of their Savior and the life of his glorious promises.

“Saturday is the “in between” day: in between despair and joy; brokenness and healing; confusion and understanding; death and life.” – John Ortberg

A dear friend of ours, Beth Wayland, this Saturday morning, shared with us this message by John Ortberg (quote above and passage below) from a conference where he spoke on Black Saturday, well, “Saturdays” in general. He describes so well this day in between.

“Saturday – the day between the crucifixion and the resurrection. What do you think the disciples were doing on Saturday? Here they have seen their friend and their Master killed the day before but also have this vague promise, which probably seemed ludicrous at the time that he would rise again. So what do you think they were doing on Saturday between the tragedy and the promise?

Most of life is Saturday. We`re in a terrible position, but we have a promise from God that we only half believe. It`s after the doctor tells us we have cancer, but before we`re cured or find a new depth of faith to cope with it. It`s after the marriage breaks up, but before God heals the grief. It`s after we`ve been laid off, but before God uses our gifts in a new place. Most of life is Saturday. It`s waiting in faith and hanging onto the promise that God is going to come through for us in spite of how bad things look. Most of life is Saturday. — I don`t know where you are this Holy Week. Maybe you`re in a Palm Sunday kind of mood wanting God to get on board with an agenda and maybe he will, but if he doesn`t, know that his plans are always good. Maybe you`re feeling a little unlovable because of something you`ve done or haven`t done. Maundy Thursday means that God loves us no matter how dirty our uniform gets from the game of life. Maybe you`re in a Saturday kind of place – between a hard time and a promise you only half believe. Know this for sure that God`s Easter irony is still at work, and he can use even the worst tragedies for good, and he always has at least one more move left. No matter how bleak and dark Saturday gets, Sunday`s coming, and it`s coming sooner than you think. “John Ortberg

Blog - Garden Tomb from imb.org - Holy Week - Black Saturday

Holy Week – Day 7: Saturday in the Tomb

Question: What is Holy Saturday?

YouTube Video of John Ortberg on “Saturdays” – American Association of Christian Counselors Conference, October 2011 (starting 5 minutes in)

My Jesus – Dead by Trevin Wax

YouTube Video – How Deep the Father’s Love For Us written by Stuart Townend

Story Behind the Song How Deep the Father’s Love For Us by Stuart Townend

YouTube Video with lyrics – In Christ Alone  written by Stuart Townend & Keith Getty

Photo Credit: Catholiclane.com and IMB Resources

Jesus and Holy Week – Day 6 – Good Friday – His Trial, Crucifixion, & Burial

Blog - Holy Week - Good Friday

It was a day like no other day in history. For years we lived in countries where Christianity was a minority religion. While the few of us passed this week in reflection and wonder, it was, of course, just another week for most of our friends and colleagues. Easter had its name – Eid Al-Qiyama (“Feast of Resurrection”) – but Good Friday was shrouded in the ordinary. For Jesus and all who have experienced life through his teaching and example, this day was and is wholly extraordinary.

Jesus’ mockery of a trial, crucifixion, death, and burial are all recorded with great detail in the four Gospels. They are riveting accounts of this terrible and triumphant day – Matthew 26:57-27:61, Mark 15Luke 22:66-23:56, John 18:28-19:42.

Jesus had no opportunity to sleep in the hours of night before this dawn. From the garden where he prayed, he was forcibly taken into the custody of the high priests. Through the early morning hours, he was bounced brutally between the Sanhedrin, the high court of Israel, and the Roman authorities (Pilate and Herod Antipas). While in their custody, Jesus endured hostile interrogation, false accusations, trumped-up charges, relentless attempts at public humiliation, and repeated beatings. Yet, he somehow retained his full faculties, responding to the authorities, when necessary with great wisdom and understanding of both the proceedings and the people. In the midst of all this trauma, he even made eye contact with one of his dearest friends and followers, Peter, hiding himself nearby…in his own painful moment.

The outcome of all the rangling between the Jewish and Roman officials was an unwarranted, undeserved death sentence. Execution by crucifixion. Pilate even washed his hands of the matter, literally, declaring Jesus innocent but still consenting to the death sentence. He didn’t know then but the “blood” he tried to wash of his hands was truly innocent. Still, it wasn’t Pilate who put Jesus on that cross, nor was it Caiaiphas, head of the Sanhedrin. Not a Roman, nor a Jew.

Jesus’ death, that day, was an outworking of a divine plan. We cannot begin to understand the holiness of the Father, the resolve of His Son, or the steadfastness of the Spirit. This three-in-one God orchestrated a path for us, His fallen and broken people, to be restored to Him. That we, though wrecked by sin, can be whole again and one in Him, in that unity of Father, Son, Holy Spirit (John 17:21) is a miracle of grace.

Jesus gave his life for us that day. It was not taken from him. He laid it down. For us. Though completely undeserving, we are ransomed and redeemed. At such a great cost. This Jesus. This life. This cross.

Jesus spoke seven times during the three hours he hung on that cross.  Each time he spoke, as in all the other times his words are recorded, there was something for all of us. If you don’t know what he said, , in those seven brief cries from the cross, read them and discover more about him…and about us.

Just before he died, he cried out, “It. Is. Finished.” What? What was finished? His life…oh no…not really…for that story comes later. His work? Not completely…for he continues interceding for us (Romans 8:34). What was finished? The perfect sacrifice – the lamb without spot or blemish – his life for ours. “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Hallelujah!

There is so much more to say about this day and the people present. Pilate’s wife who warned Pilate about ruling against this innocent man. Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer, who tried to return the money and killed himself in remorse that same day. Simon of Cyrene, a pilgrim, who was drawn into the dreadful drama of that day to carry Jesus’ cross when he could not. Barabbas, a notorious criminal, who gained his freedom, through a strange twist of the day. The nameless thief on the cross who cried out in repentance to Jesus. The Roman centurion who in his witness of Jesus all those hours professed faith in him.  John, Jesus’ closest disciple, and Jesus’ mother to whom Jesus gave each other. The women, lives changed by their faith in Jesus, who stayed at the foot of the cross through all the horror of his crucifixion. Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a Christ-follower, who tried to appeal for Jesus with the Sanhedrin. Joseph of Arimathea, another believing Pharisee, who went to Pilate to receive Jesus’ body for burial, in his own tomb.

So many stories of lives changed. Good Friday. This marked the day of Jesus’ trial, his death, and his burial, but it does not mark the end of the story. It’s Friday…but Sunday’s coming.*

Good Friday from popgodblog

Holy Week – Day 6: Good Friday’s Trial, Crucifixion, Death, Burial

YouTube Video – It is Finished – Matt Papa

YouTube Video – Forever – Kari Jobe

YouTube Video with Lyrics – The Wonderful Cross by Chris Tomlin & Keith Getty

YouTube Video with lyrics – The Power of the Cross – Kristyn Getty

YouTube Video with lyrics – Lead Me to the Cross – Hillsong

*YouTube Video – It’s Friday but Sunday’s a Coming

YouTube Video – Skit Guys – Good Friday

It Wasn’t Nails that Held Him to the Cross – Blog by Michele Perry

Good Friday – Bible Study

Photo Credits: GoodFridayQuotes2015.com and popgodblog.com