Saturday, March 26, 2016

He is Risen Indeed!

Ironically, this week, in our “Read the Bible Through” plan for the year, we read the first two chapters in Luke which recount the events of Jesus’ birth.  Whereas we celebrate that “Season” by recalling God’s gift of Jesus at Christmas, it is Easter that calls us to remember, reflect, and respond to the “Reason” He came.

This week, I heard the song, “It’s About the Cross” for the first time.  What a beautiful reminder about the gift of Jesus being the reason we can be born again and have eternal life with our Heavenly Father.  Because Jesus willingly became the sacrifice for our sins, with his death, burial, and resurrection, we are offered the gifts of forgiveness, salvation, new life, and purpose.  Every day may our lives reflect our belief that He is risen indeed!

“It’s About the Cross”
Band “Go Fish”

It’s not just about the manger
Where the baby lay
It’s not all about the angels
Who sang for him that day

It’s not just about the shepherds
Or the bright and shining star
It’s not all about the wisemen
Who travelled from afar

It’s about the cross
It’s about my sin
It’s about how Jesus came to be born once
So that we could be born again

It’s about the stone
That was rolled away
So that you and I could have real life today

It’s about the cross
It’s about the cross

It's not just about the presents
Underneath the tree
It's not all about the feeling
That the season brings to me
It’s not just about coming home
To be with those you love
It’s not all about the beauty
In the snow I’m dreaming of

Repeat chorus

The beginning of the story is wonderful and great
But it’s the ending that can save you and that’s why we celebrate

It’s about the cross
It’s about my sin
It’s about how Jesus came to be born once
So that we could be born again

It’s about God’s Son
Nailed to a tree
It’s about every drop of blood that flowed from Him
When it should have been me

It’s about the stone
That was rolled away
So that you and I could have real life someday
So that you and I could have real life someday

It’s about the cross
It’s about the cross
It’s about the cross

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
Matthew 28:6-7

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Luke 19:10

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
Romans 10:9-10

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
I John 1:7

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Psalms 34:8

Saturday, March 19, 2016

March Reminders

Reading through the Old Testament, time after time God instructed the children of Israel to build stones of remembrance, an Ebenezer, to remind them of the Lord’s provision and sovereignty.  As they would pass by the altar at later times, they were to recount from one generation to the next, the story of God’s help.  Along with the remembering came gratitude for God’s faithfulness, provision, protection, and blessings.

The month of March holds many “Ebenezer” moments for our family.  With gratitude we remember God’s presence, help, and provision at the time of loss of lives of loved ones.  This week marked the 15th year that Larry’s mother has been with her Lord and Savior.  March 21 will be the 20th anniversary of when my brother, Terry, met Jesus face to face at the age of 38.  It is also the 3rd year without the earthly presence of Glenna Spain, a dear friend I have known since I was 4 years old.  I am continually grateful for the impact these people had and continue to have on my life.  Their home going is full of precious memories of God’s love and help during those days and the years that have followed.

March is also a reminder that God continues to bless for generations to come.  This is the month we celebrate several family birthdays and thank God for the lives of Larry’s sister, Gloria; our daughter-in-love, Abby; great-nephew, Eli; and granddaughter, Ryen.

This upcoming Holy Week, offers times to stop, reflect, remember, and give thanks for God’s great love for us and for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  Since Jesus paid the price for our sins, those who trust and believe in Him have a relationship with our Heavenly Father.  The Lord has saved and helped us.  And because He has proven Himself faithful with the past, we can trust Him for today and the future.  In gratitude, may we be quick to respond in faith, love, and obedience that make a difference in the way we speak, think, act, react, and choose to live our lives. 
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”
I Samuel 7:12

He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever— holy and awesome is his name.
Psalm 111:9

So Joshua summoned the twelve men and told them, “Go out into the middle of the Jordan where the Ark is. Each of you is to carry out a stone on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes.  We will use them to build a monument so that in the future, when your children ask, ‘What is this monument for?’  you can tell them, ‘It is to remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of God went across!’ The monument will be a permanent reminder to the people of Israel of this amazing miracle.” 

Then Joshua explained again the purpose of the stones: “In the future,” he said, “when your children ask you why these stones are here and what they mean, you are to tell them that these stones are a reminder of this amazing miracle—that the nation of Israel crossed the Jordan River on dry ground! Tell them how the Lord our God dried up the river right before our eyes and then kept it dry until we were all across! It is the same thing the Lord did forty years ago at the Red Sea! He did this so that all the nations of the earth will realize that Jehovah is the mighty God, and so that all of you will worship him forever.”
Joshua 4:4-7, 21-24 (TLB)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Teaching with a Purpose

Virginia Tech basketball coach, Buzz Williams, was disappointed with the lack of respect college basketball players tended to have when the National Anthem was played before the start of the game.  Even though here were a few who showed the proper attention, other players would sway with the music, look around or down at the floor, goof off, mess with their shorts or jersey, or not pay attention at all.  Coach Williams knew he couldn’t confront every player on every team, but he could be responsible for teaching his own players the proper way to show their appreciation and respect for the freedoms they enjoyed.

During one practice, Buzz Williams led his players single file down the steps of the basketball arena and onto the court.  He then had the men line up facing the stands.  People in the active military came marching in carrying folding chairs that they opened and set down facing each player.  From the opposite side, former military from the Greatest Generation and other veterans came and stood in front of the chairs while facing the players.  Coach Williams looked at his players and reminded them that “We didn’t earn those chairs.  Your talent did not earn those chairs.  How tall you are, how fast you run, how well you shoot didn’t earn those chairs.”  Coach Williams expressed that even his scouting, hard work, and coaching didn’t earn those chairs.  “These guys, when they were your age, interrupted their lives, paused their education, changed their careers, and gave their life for those chairs.”

Coach Williams looked at his young men and proceeded to tell them what he expected every time they heard the National Anthem played or sung.  They were to hold their right hand over their heart, place the other hand behind their back, stand at attention, and not move.  They were to stand like grown men in honor of the men who gave their life so they could have a chair to sit in.  The 2 ½ minutes that the anthem played they were to think of the men and women who earned their freedom.  Buzz Williams said that they did not have to sing, but he did want them to know the words and be respectful of what the words mean.  Then the National Anthem began to play, as current military, retired military, coach, and basketball players stood at attention.  And they began to sing, some with tears streaming down their face.

When interviewed by Josh Starling, Coach Williams said, “I wanted the players to understand how fortunate they were to be able to play this great game, to earn a scholarship, and to have people pay money to watch them play.  Everything comes at a cost and each and every one of us is fortunate that someone else, in some way, is sacrificing something so we can go about our everyday lives.”

God knew that we, too, would need to be reminded and taught His Ways.   He didn’t assume that as His followers we would automatically know what to do, how to do it, or why it is important.  We have His Word in the Bible; Jesus’ example; and family, friends, and others to teach and encourage us along the way.  Then when we know and accept God’s love and choose Jesus as our Lord and Savior we have the privilege and responsibility to teach, model, and encourage others so they have that opportunity as well…from generation to generation.

These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:1-9

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20