Easter

My sins died on Good Friday. On Passover Saturday, my judgment was passed over. And on Easter, I rise.

Easter isn’t an egg, a ditty, a bunny, a time when you have to go to church, a new dress, or a tip of the hat to Jesus. Easter isn’t a study of the history of the holiday or even an admiration of Jesus. No.

Good Friday is when I look in the grave and see every shred–every single shred–of my sin buried forever. My sin was buried inside the body of the perfect Christ. The body that died to sin once, for all, FOREVER.

Passover is when I learn not to fear the wrath of God because I have not one sin left in my soul. There is not one sin that I must bear to show Him. All of my sin–every evil–is where on Passover? Still left in Christ’s tomb. Paid in full by HIM. FOREVER.

And Easter. Oh, Easter! Easter is when Jesus was my Grave Digger and He pulled my rotten corpse out of death. In an instant, my soul was transformed from the crumbling, crusty puke of this world to the living, breathing, heart-thudding delight of friendship with GOD. FOREVER.

This is what Easter means to me.

Is it what Easter means to you?

Advertisements
Published in: on April 20, 2014 at 7:05 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Easter–365 days a year.

Could I survive without Easter?  Could I love without Easter?

No way.

I need Easter every day.

Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. (Mark 16:6b, NLT)

The Greatest Event in History!

Why Easter? Read on!

Unshakable Hope

What would your answer be if you were asked to name thegreatestevent in the history of the world?

I suspect that your answer would depend on your overall worldview. A Christian, who fully understands the Gospel message, would say that the resurrection of Christ was the greatest event in history. But I don’t think any non-Christians would agree with that answer. Regardless of what their religious or ideological beliefs might be, all non-Christians have one thing in common; they don’t believe in the resurrection of Christ.

Lee Strobel has been a follower of Christ and a well-known Christian apologist for over 30 years. Before becoming a Christian, Lee was an award-winning investigative journalist and the legal editor for the ChicagoTribune. He was also a self-professed “drunk” and an “angry atheist.”  His wife, Leslie, was agnostic when they married, but later became a Christian. Leslie’s…

View original post 483 more words

Published in: on March 31, 2013 at 9:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

The jeweled Path

This past week has been like all weeks since my new life in Christ.  When I look back on the Path I’ve walked, the debris of my sin litters what was, only 7 days before, a clean street.

Here and there, I see the glimmers of a jewel, sometimes plainly seen on the path, sometimes hidden almost entirely underneath my sin.  I see the moments where God got ahold of my heart, where I prayed out of love, where I sought His heart, where I did something that imitated my Savior and my God.  But when I look at my basket of righteousness to see what I have collected from those moments, I see only the wicker at the bottom.

Empty.

Empty!

On the path behind, I see not only the gemstones I missed, but even more so the trash I left behind.  I think about how, in honesty, I could not reconcile and set everything right I trashed even this past seven days, much less for the some 8,000 days I have been an influencer in the world, a journeyer responsible for what I carry and what I leave behind.

This week, as I look back over the street, I see the very tip of a large gemstone just visible on the path I walked, but–before my heart can soar in this moment of discovering the gem or faint in grief that I didn’t spend time uncovering it–I see the mounds of trash piled high beside that stone, desecrating the goodness God was showing me.

It’s especially wounding to realize that God was working with me on something, that I saw it, that I even began to experience in it . . and then that other trash of my life spilled over and I sinned so greatly I obscured even the sweetest moment of the week.

Lately, I have had an obsession with the year 30.  I will be 30 August 28, 2013.  I dream that, when I turn 30, I will hold my life all together, that there will be only a few sprinkles of trash here and there, and that the path will be paved with breathtaking gemstones, one after the other, turned over by God as He reveals His work to my closely following heart.

I’ve thought, I’ve hoped I will begin following Jesus nearly perfectly.  Jesus started His public ministry at 30, and–though I know the first 29 years of my life do not mirror Jesus’ whatsoever save for the dazzling intervention of His grace–I hope that the rest of the years of my life will be a symphony of imitating my Redeemer, without His help.  I want to show Him that I love Him, that I can live out what He’s taught me  That I, in some tiny way, understand what He’s done for me.

But do I really believe this will happen?  Do I think that, in a few short months, simply because I hear the song of another birthday, my life will be filled with holiness?

That when I look back as an old woman (should I by God’s grace live so long!) I will see from the year 30 onward, the Path behind me jeweled and radiant with gemstones God has overturned for my pure heart to see, gemstones I have no longer missed because I am no longer too busy throwing the trash of my chaos, my selfishness, and my foolishness down the glory street, gemstones I finally placed in my basket to bring to Him at the moment my soul meets eternity?

Do I really think I will gather sapphires of peace, mali garnets of integrity, almandine garnets of charity, amazonites of purpose, moonstones of reflection, ambers of passion, amethysts of hope, morganites of gentleness, ammolites of creativity, andalusites of generosity, aventurines of adventure, beryls of a noble heart, peridots of faith, carnelians of trust, rhodolite garnets of beauty, charorites of compassion, rubies of wisdom, chrysoprases of worship, citrines of holiness, seraphinites of purity, danburites of determination, smoky quartz of persistence, diamonds of truth, spessarite garnets of fear of the Lord, emeralds of thoughtfulness, fire agates of resolution, sphalerites of zeal, emeralds of patience, spodumenes of exalting Christ, star diopsides of mystery, gaspeites of wonder, ametrines of mercy, agate geodes of victory, star garnets of announcing the Kingdom of Christ, star diopsides of proclaiming Christ as the only resolution for sin, goshenites of following Him, star sunshines of devotion, hackmanites of surrender, tanzanites of battling on God’s side, moss opals of growth, obsidians of strength, axinites of warmth, cassiterites of understanding, hiddenites of listening to the whispers of God, imperial topazes of His atonement for me, topazes of the war against sin, jaspers of the hidden plan of God, tiger’s eyes of refusing defeat, kunzites of the romance of God for His people, turquoises of astonishment for His grace, kyanites of a clear conscience, lapis lazulis of a servant’s heart, zircons of strength for the battles ahead, tourmalines of endurance, sunstones of redemption, pyrope garnets of forgiveness, and rubellite tourmalines of His love . . simply because I have gotten a year older?

Even now, I know it won’t be so.  I already imagine the litter of my sin in the future.  Even the most precious moments of God in my life are piled over high with the smelly filth of unimaginable sins I have committed.

How do I go on?  How do I keep hoping I will live a perfect life?  How do I keep from missing the gemstones in my path like a child staring at her shoes during an Easter egg hunt?  How do I have any assurance I will live a holy life from this day forward?  How do I rely on myself when, to date, the basket of my self-righteousness is empty?  I am happy simply to look back and see gems that have not been totally buried in my trash; I never once have been able to touch one with my fingertips and place it in my basket.  And so my basket is hauntingly empty; the path of holiness is hauntingly fearful; I wonder how I can, with any sort of integrity, keep going down the path of Christianity and not resign in shame?

And then, suddenly, instantly, a hand slips into mind.  I recognize the scar in the middle of the palm; I look up and see a head that has borne the crown of thorns I deserve as my reward for how I have journeyed on this path.

My eyes fill with tears, because I look on His majesty and see I have nothing to give Him.  I am like a servant walking in a kingdom to find that it is the king’s birthday and I have no present.  This is far more than a birthday; this is Resurrection Day–and what do I have to give Him?

I look down at my empty basket and the shame of how I’ve walked the Path brings me to my knees.  I cover my face in my hands and hope He does not see me, that He walks on by to receive jewels from others who have earned them for Him.

He still holds my hand, and He moves my hand in His to reach for something I cannot see with my head bent down.  He withdraws His hand from my trembling one, and my hand rests on the hard warmth of the inside of a basket filled with jewels, loaded down so that not another can fit.

I raise my hand, stand in surprise, look in the basket held out before me.  Inside is everything I have ever tried to give Jesus; everything jewel God has ever shown me on the path that I either missed or failed to pick up; and ones I have never seen or imagined even existed that await on my future path–I see clearly that I will fail to pick up them, too.

The jewels of righteousness are too beautiful for my unholy eyes, and I jerk my gaze away.  I try to pull my hand from His basket, but He grasps my wrist and lays my hand back over the gemstones.

“I cannot . .” I weep.  “I cannot take your gemstones.  You’ve worked so hard for them.  It’s not fair!  I’m the one who should be giving to you!”

I should have collected jewels to give to Him! He is the one who carried me from the path of destruction!  I owe Him everything!  should be the one bringing the gifts!

He is the One who undug my grave while nails were in His palms.  He is the One who kissed my dead heart to life while He was kissed with my betrayal of HimHe is the One who lifted me out of the grave while the consequences of my actions shredded His skin. He is the One who crowned my head with life while He wore the crown of my curse.  He is the one who carried me on His back while I lifted a cross to His.

I was His cross.

As He tasted the vinegar of my death, He cupped His hands full of the Living Water to quench my thirst.  As He took His last breath, He breathed into me my first breath.  And when He woke from the tomb, it was me who He carried out with Him.

How can I possibly take His jewels?

I start to refuse.  I start to flee, but He holds my hand once more.  I hear a tearing, like a Great Curtain ripping a path from earth to Heaven, and I see in front of the path a still stone cave.

The world is utterly quiet.  I look at the stone beside the mouth of the cave.  It would have been impossible for me to move; but Someone has already moved it.  I know what this place is; I wonder if it is really okay to go inside.

But He leads me in.  I look around in what would have been the darkness of the place, but He is standing beside me.

I see the inside is not the small space of a tomb, but the infinite trove of a sea of jewels.  As far as I can look, I can see gemstones flooding the cavern.  My eyes would go blind from looking at them, were it not that He shields me with His hand.  I cannot in my falleness withstand seeing the infinite holiness of this vault.  He leads me out and I stumble in a daze.

Once again, He lays my hand on His basket.  I look again, and I see the gemstones of everything I have ever wanted to give Him, all the jewels I have seen along the way, and many more I missed seeing altogether, and even more that have not yet been unturned on the Path ahead.

And now I see.

My life is fulfilled in Christ.

It is He who holds everything together.

If you know Him, you do not go through life with an empty basket, but a full one.

My life is not to be spent trying to collect gemstones.

He has already picked them up for me.

My life is to be spent marveling Him, holding His jewels in my basket, sharing His jewels with the jewel-less world.

I come to the Jesus of Easter, and I throw my empty basket of self-righteousness aside.  It tumbles away somewhere in the wastelands adjacent to the Path.  I hold out my hands and Jesus gives me a gemstone to hold.

And then we keep walking.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 2:21, NIV)

_______________________________________

Gemstone ideas and pictures found at http://www.gemselect.com/other-info/gemstone-list.php

The resurrection is no secret.

–From my pastor’s sermon.

He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. (Matthew 28:6b, NLT)

Published in: on April 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Easter Rescue

Somehow the grave has captured me,
Show me the man I used to be.
Just when I feel my breath is running out–

–The earth moves and You find me,
Alive but unworthy
Broken and empty,
But You don’t care
‘Cause You are my Rapture,
You are my Savior
When all my hope is gone, I reach for You
You are my Rescue

Rescue, Seabirds

It was the greatest rescue of all time.  The most daring.  The most dangerous.  And the most costly.

The Son of God would live a perfect life on earth as a mortal man so that he could take into his finite body the penalty of death.  If He could get death inside Him, He could have limitless power over it, because He has the soul of God.  As an unlimited God, He could pay for every sin He took upon Himself, and as a mortal man, He could die to that sin, ending its control over mankind once and for all.

But this rescue mission had to be done under the most extreme circumstances ever required.  To be successful, the Son of God, living as a Man and exposed to fear of torment and death, feeling every excruciating pain of what would be done . . would have to choose the most selfless, most terrifying decision of all time.

He would have to choose not to be rescued, and not to rescue Himself.

As man, He desperately needed rescue.  As God, He could give Himself the very thing He needed most.

This might be something like (though confined to the imperfections of my ability to express it) how the song Rescue would go if Christ had sung it to us:

I choose the grave to capture Me,
I give up the glory I used to be.
Just when I feel My breath is running out–

–The cross lifts and you’ll see Me.
I die, but I’m worthy
Broken and empty,
But you don’t care
‘Cause You crucify Me,
You don’t realize that
When all My hope is gone, I die for You.
I am Your Rescue.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me,

so far from the words of my groaning?

O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,

by night, and am not silent.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;

you are the praise of Israel.

In you our fathers put their trust;

they trusted and you delivered them.

They cried to you and were saved;

in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

But I am a worm and not a man,

scorned by men and despised by the people.

All who see me mock me;

they hurl insults, shaking their heads:

“He trusts in the Lord;

let the Lord rescue him.

Let him deliver him,

since he delights in him.”

Yet you brought me out of the womb;

you made me trust in you

even at my mother’s breast.

From birth I was cast upon you;

from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

Do not be far from me,

for trouble is near

and there is no one to help.

Many bulls surround me;

strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

Roaring lions tearing their prey

open their mouths wide against me.

I am poured out like water,

and all my bones are out of joint.

My heart has turned to wax;

it has melted away within me.

My strength is dried up like a potsherd,

and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;

you lay me in the dust of death.

Dogs have surrounded me;

a band of evil men has encircled me,

they have pierced my hands and my feet.

I can count all my bones;

people stare and gloat over me.

They divide my garments among them

and cast lots for my clothing.

But you, O Lord, be not far off;

O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

Deliver my life from the sword,

my precious life from the power of the dogs.

Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;

save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

I will declare your name to my brothers;

in the congregation I will praise you.

You who fear the Lord, praise him!

All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!

Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

For he has not despised or disdained

the suffering of the afflicted one;

he has not hidden his face from him

but has listened to his cry for help.

From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;

before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.

The poor will eat and be satisfied;

they who seek the Lord will praise him—

may your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth

will remember and turn to the Lord,

and all the families of the nations

will bow down before him,

for dominion belongs to the Lord

and he rules over the nations.

All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;

all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—

those who cannot keep themselves alive.

Posterity will serve him;

future generations will be told about the Lord.

They will proclaim his righteousness

to a people yet unborn—

for he has done it. (Psalm 22, NIV)

Published in: on April 8, 2012 at 8:55 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Not a wooden cross

Not a wooden cross, but the Man who chose the cross.

This is the reason for Easter.

Not the empty tomb, but the Man who walked out of the tomb.

This is the reason for Easter.

Not a memorial, but a surprise return.

This is the reason for Easter.

Not object or place, but the God who walked among us, died by our hands, and got His own heart beating, His own lungs breathing three days later . . and still wanted to save us.

This is the reason for Easter.

Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. (2 Corinthians 5:14b-15, NLT)

Published in: on April 7, 2012 at 6:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

More than just remembering

Easter is more than just remembering.

It’s acting on what it means if a Man really had the power to raise Himself back to life and walk out of a tomb.

“And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (Jesus, quoted in John 12:32, NLT)

If it’s all about bunnies and chicks

If it’s all about bunnies and chicks . . .

then I’m not forgiven.

 

There was no cross,

no suffering,

no sacrifice–

no payment.

 

If it’s all about bunnies and chicks

I’m still on my way to Hell.

 

I like bunnies and I like chicks–

but any old day is good to celebrate them.

 

I’m saving Easter for my Savior.

Published in: on April 3, 2012 at 7:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

How a Palm Sunday play changed me

What if you’re right? He was just another nice guy.
What if You’re right?

What if it’s true? They say the cross will only make a fool of you.
What if it’s true?

What if He takes His place in history with all the prophets and the kings
who taught us love and came in peace, but then the story ends?

What then?

What If, Nichole Nordeman

I didn’t expect the play to change me, but it did.

Back in January, the drama team at my church decided on a Palm Sunday play.  We read through the script, and our director assigned parts.

I got the part of a kind of character I have never played before.  I was eager at first.  I thought it would be an exciting change.

And then it hit me.  I was really going to be playing the part of an adulterating drug addict–pregnant with another man’s child.

What exactly were people going to think of me?  Would anyone maybe get confused and think I was this woman?  What was the audience going to think about my character?  I’d be judged for sure.  What kind of words would they think about my character as they watched?  Worthless?  Stupid?  Filthy?  Trash?

I began to worry.  I strategized how I could prove to everyone that this wasn’t me, and then my common sense took over and I realized nobody would think that, just because I was playing a character, I was that person . . . I hope.  After all, I played the part of an eighty-year-old woman once, and nobody thought that was really who I was.

And then . .

I started thinking about this girl I was playing.

Why is it so easy to hate her?  Why is it so easy to make fun of her?

At first glance, the answer seems easy.  She’s a pregnant drug addict.  It doesn’t get much worse than that.  She doesn’t change (at least not during the play).  She steals a widow’s wedding rings.  And, of course, she cheats on her husband.  So why wouldn’t it be easy to hate her?  Why wouldn’t it be easy to make fun of her?

But, when I reflect on it, the answer seems very hard.

Why is it that we can so easily dismiss some sins and scarcely ever dismiss others?  Why is it so easy for me to forgive some sins in my own life–like little lies, gossiping, hateful thoughts, carelessly cruel comments–and so hard for me to forgive other sins–like a drug-addict who could permanently damage her unborn child?  Is there really a stairway of sins, and the bottom stair leads to Hell, but the top stair really isn’t so bad?

But I feel a sort of happiness about condemning someone else.  I like the stairway system.  It makes my sin seems so trite.  After all, what is a little ‘white lie’ compared to a child’s brain damage caused by the meth?  What’s a bit of gossip compared to a rapist, or a vengeful daydream compared to a serial killer?  I can’t be so bad compared to that, can I?

Maybe the safest way to Hell is when Satan keeps us on the ‘top stair’.

Maybe it’s when we look down on others, create a ‘hierarchy of sin’, point the finger of condemnation.

What if you dig way down deeper than your simple-minded friends?
What if you dig?

What if you find a thousand more unanswered questions down inside?

That’s all you find?

What if you pick apart the logic and begin poke the holes?
What if the crown of thorns is no more than folklore that must be told and re-told, and re-told?

What If, Nichole Nordeman

And I realized.

There is no stairway to Hell.

It’s a pit.

We fall in.

We all fall in–all of us except Jesus.

. . . What if that was the story we told?

Are we afraid?

Afraid of who will come in?

If they really knew . . . that we were all in the pit together?

That they weren’t lower than us?

But what if you’re wrong? What if there’s more?
What if there’s hope you’ve never dreamed of hoping for?
What if You jump? Just close your eyes.
What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?
What if He’s more than enough?
What if it’s love?

What If, Nichole Nordeman

What if the worst sin we can commit against another person isn’t anything we do to their body or their mind . . .

What if it’s what we do to their soul?

What if it’s blocking people from getting past us on our so-called stair so they can enter Heaven?

What if the reason people killed Jesus . . was because they knew He was making a way for everyone to enter Heaven?

Including the people blocking the way?

What if?

He was despised and rejected—
    a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
    He was despised, and we did not care.

 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
    it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
    a punishment for his own sins!
 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
    crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
    He was whipped so we could be healed.
 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
    We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
    the sins of us all. (Isaiah 53:3-6, NLT)