In the human family, it is the father who affirms us as male and female and as persons. It is the masculine voice we are listening for at puberty and thereafter, that time when we are separating our sexual and personal identities from that of our mothers. But when we’ve failed to get the needed affirmation, we can rest assured that there is available to us the healing needed … in the Presence of God the Father, when we learn to listen and obey Him, we are affirmed as real men, real women, real persons … God the Father, who has the Power of Being, heals and affirms us.
A few years ago, I came across an inspiring cartoon in my "Easter" file (See enlarged image below). I think my husband John, who had been the family reader of the Sunday funnies in years gone by, cut it out and gave it to me back in April 2001. So there in my file, this little treasure has been tucked away for all these years.
For those of you who have been following the Lenten Meditations on a branch in the Vine, this piece serves as a fitting climax during Holy Week.Read More
Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.
So goes a traditional nighttime prayer taught by American moms to their children for generations. It may seem odd to us today that there would be the mention of death in a child's prayer. But scientists say that sleep is the closest we come to death while still alive. The Greeks even had a proverb,
Sleep and death are brothers.
However, in the first century, Jewish moms taught their children a different bedtime prayer...quoting Psalm 31:
Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.Read More
Tetelestai!* It is finished! The death of Christ on the Cross is the HINGE of human history...and nowbefore He breathes His last breath... a cry of victory,It is finished!
What's finished? It must be something BIG,...look at what happened when Jesus died:
At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.Read More
Thirst is a primal need in all of us humans...more demanding even than hunger! We can go quite awhile without eating, but a very short time without drinking. Jesus on the Cross had refrained up to this point from satisfying His thirst. Instead He drank the Father's cup to the very last drop! He became sin for us...the Sinless One! Jesus took our place, and the Father turned His back. The punishment for sin had been accomplished...spiritual separation from God....for US!
Now in fulfillment of prophecy, Jesus expresses His own physical need:
After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said ( to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. John 19:28-29 ESVRead More
Abandoned! Left on the "doorstep of Life"...but with no Rescuer in sight! What happens next in the unfolding drama of the crucifixion of our Lord is incomprehensible!
It's an abandonment so profoundly mysterious that it boggles the mind...but ravishes the believing heart! Let's watch it unfold...
It is noon. By this time, Jesus has already forgiven ...Read More
This past weekend I had the joyful opportunity to join with a lovely group of ladies from my church with the express purpose of experiencing our God on a deeper level. The group was comprised of women of all ages who were at different stages in their walk with God. Yet despite the differences, an amazing oneness prevailed. How like the Holy Spirit to join us in Christ and allow us to sense Him in and through each other!
On Friday evening, I had the privilege of sharing the opening meditation. If you were at that retreat, you may like to revisit our focus by reviewing the meditation. If you weren’t able to join us for whatever reason, please join us here now as we explore the rest we are called to in Christ, who is our Focus, our Ground Zero, our Foundation, our All!
Actually HE IS the Christian Life! Amen!Read More
Dear woman, behold your son...behold your mother. (John 19:26)
Jesus has a special love for His own. As we've already seen with His forgiving and saving attitude in the midst of excruciating agony, His concern was not with His own suffering. Rather His attention was next drawn to His precious loved ones at the foot of His cross, His mother and His beloved disciple John.
What agony Jesus must have seen on Mary's face.Read More
Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise. Luke 23:43
Jesus seems to have a special love for lost people. I love the stories He tells in Luke 15. The first is the beloved story of the shepherd who has a hundred sheep but leaves the ninety-nine to look for the one that is lost. Then when he finds his lost one, he calls in his neighbors and friends to rejoice with him.Read More
Alexander Pope (1688-1744), English poet, once said,To err is human; to forgive, divine.
So true...but we humans more readily echo what someone else has said,
To err is human, but to get even? THAT is divine.
We struggle so, with forgiving our offenders! Perhaps that's why we are amazed and awestruck to realize that Jesus' first words from the Cross were ones of forgiveness.Read More
The last words of a dying person are important. They can communicate good or ill to those left behind. Why? Because the last words are so final...and so revealing of what was uppermost in the person's mind as he was leaving this earth to face his Maker. I've never been at the bedside of a dying person. But I have been with a few people just days before their death.Read More
I grew up in a liturgical church. So from my childhood into my early adulthood, I observed the church calendar. Ash Wednesday marked a real turning point in the calendar year. It was a turn from comfort, frivolity, and enjoyment (think Mardi Gras) to a time of repentance, self-denial, and mortification called Lent. Ash Wednesday was a day when we all remembered that someday we would each die and face our Maker. The priest would put the sign of the cross on our foreheads in black ashes and say,
Remember, Man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return. [based on Genesis 3:19]Read More
February is American Heart Month. How appropriate since February is also the month of Valentine’s Day, celebrating the heart’s favorite emotion — LOVE.
Well, "February, American Heart Month" has taken on new meaning because the “love of my life” had a heart attack more than seven years ago. So this brought lots of changes to both of our lives, but especially his. And cardiac rehab played a big part in those weeks after. As many heart patients know, cardiac rehab takes a village…Read More
Baby, it's cold outside. Sub-zero temps; ice-covered ground; more white stuff on its way? A great time to hibernate.
But it need not be cold inside ... especially inside your soul, as you bask in the warmth of God's loving truth. The Scriptures are ever old and ever new, and never out of reach. So the fire of God's Word is always accessible.Read More
My friend Penny is a walker (a very serious, fast walker, by the way). But Penny doesn't just walk for exercise, she also "walks" closely with the Lord. So when Penny shares, I listen. And when she shared about a favorite Christmas carol, it made me take notice. Why? Because while walking, Penny has been doing what this song describes.Read More
We would give up everything we've ever written to have penned this one verse, a stanza that comes as close as is humanly possible to capturing the splendor of who Jesus is.
Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ, by Leonard Sweet & Frank Viola, p. 173-174
What is that one verse? that one stanza? Authors Sweet & Viola are referring to the last stanza of the well-known carol, Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.
In my opinion, however, it isn't just the last stanza that is all glorious with the splendor of Christ...it's the entire song. In fact, even the stanzas that were removed* from the older version are splendid indeed. But I'm getting ahead of the story.Read More
If ever we needed to know God is WITH us in every possible way, it's NOW, after another year of the unanswerable "why's" of life. We struggle to make sense of all the violence, suffering, and injustice we see all around us. Though we can't know the answers, we can turn afresh to the One Who has us in the palm of His Hand. The God Who became One of us...flesh and bone and joint and sinew...who experienced every emotion possible, raw and gripping, tender and affectionate! He felt it all! And He feels our current struggle with us too!Read More
Jesus Christ the Son of God became one with us, so that we could be one with Him!
This glorious truth is at the heart of the Incarnation. God became one of us! One with us! Why? So that we could experience union with God.
And that takes us back to our 3 Greek prepositions for with: (see previous post: The WITH-ness of our God (prepositions):
- para, meaning beside, nearby, in the immediate vicinity or proximity, alongside
- meta, meaning with, in close association with, in companionship with
- sun, meaning together in intimate union, inseparable from
Isn't it wonderful when someone wants to spend time with us? Not just a token, obligatory, "showing up" to either fulfill an obligation, salve guilt, or ask for something...a real wanting to be with us.
As special as it is in human relationships, think how amazing it is when we realize that the Sovereign God of the universe has wanted to be with us! Yes, US! and according to the Bible words used, we see that in Jesus, our Emmanuel, He is with us on every level possible.
In the original language of the New Testament, there are three Greek words that can be translated with.Read More
Joy is the flag that flies over the soul when the King is in residence!
Years ago, I was leading a small group of ladies through Paul's letter to the Galatians. In chapter 5, we came to a familiar passage:
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,and self control. Galatians 5:22-23
Julie was in that small group that year, and Julie was from Great Britain. I asked her about Chuck's metaphor. She assured me that it was true. When royalty is in residence at the palace, the flag flies. It's the signal to the "subjects" that their monarch is present.Read More