Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Woman, Why Are You Weeping?

John tells us that Mary returned to the tomb of Jesus early on Sunday morning to complete the burial preparations for His body. What she saw as she approached shocked her. The stone had been rolled back from the mouth of the burial chamber! The body of the Lord was gone! Who could have done such a thing? She runs back to share this troubling news with the other followers of Jesus.

Later, she returns to the tomb and emotion begins to overwhelm her. The whirlwind events of the past couple of days had taken their toll. Jesus had been arrested, charged with blasphemy, and condemned to death. She had stood at a distance and witnessed the horror of the crucifixion. Perhaps she heard him utter his final anguished cry and draw his last labored breath. To now experience the new pain of the body of Jesus being moved or taken was more than she could bear.

With tears filling her eyes, she stooped to take one more look into the tomb. To her amazement, she sees two angels who ask: “Woman, why are you weeping?” Through her sobs, she exposes her pain over the disappearance of Jesus’ body. She turns to see someone she supposes to be the gardener and he asks her the same question: “Woman, why are you weeping?” Why was she weeping?!! She could have rattled off a dozen very good reasons for her anguish and tears! But all of those good reasons evaporated when the resurrected Lord revealed Himself to her. Her tears and despair quickly give way to joy and hope.

That, my friends, is the power of the resurrection. The shackles of death couldn’t hold our Savior. The deep darkness of the crucifixion was shattered by the brilliant light of victory. Sure, our world is still full of times that bring pain. Like Mary, we can be blinded by our own tears. But it is precisely at those times when we need to be reminded that we serve a risen Lord. Why are we weeping? Good question!

God loves you!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Birthday Surprise times 2!

Months ago when we heard Disneyland was offering free park admission on your birthday I created an account for the twins. Then began the planning and saving for a possible trip to Anaheim. All our children were invited, but only the single ones could afford to take time off and go with us. After pushing the pencil on the cost of motels or hauling our travel trailer we opted for the trailer and I made reservations at an RV park 10 minutes from Disneyland. We really wanted to try and keep this a secret from Taylor and Tessa. Money was saved, tickets were purchased and time off from work was arranged, all without their knowledge. One Wednesday night right before we left we were coming home from singing at a local nursing home and were sitting in the car at the grocery store. They began to talk about what they would like to do for their 8th birthday. A party with friends, Chuckie Cheeses, or John's Incredible Pizza....... how about camping I said??? They were LIT UP! It was so fun from then on out to talk about going camping. We arrived in Anaheim and the first morning took a walk and ended up at Disneyland's entrance. They still had NO idea. It was not quite as exciting as we had imagined because they neither one really knew what Disneyland was. On the way in Tessa asked me "Do they have lots of rides?" But they are quick learners and had an absolute blast. We spent 2 days and were able to visit both parks. And we want to go back again........

Monday, April 6, 2009

I Am Barabbas

Very little is recorded in Scripture about Barabbas and what we do read is not complimentary. In summary, all that we know about him is that he was a notorious prisoner being held for insurrection, robbery, and murder. He becomes a pawn in the power struggle between Pilate and the leaders of the Jews over the fate of Jesus. Pilate, convinced of the innocence of Jesus, offers the crowd a choice between releasing Jesus or Barabbas from custody. Perhaps this was a ploy to shock some sensibility into the mob who was seeking to condemn and crucify an innocent man. After all who in their right mind would seek to free Barabbas instead of Jesus? But the Jews weren’t thinking clearly that day. They demanded freedom for a notorious criminal over the innocent rabbi from Nazareth. One minute, Barabbas is rotting away in a Roman jail, likely awaiting his own execution. The next minute, he is released and walking away as a free man.

Have you ever wondered what happened to Barabbas following his release? Knowing human nature as we do, there is a good chance that he returned to the infamous lifestyle for which he was known. Old habits are certainly hard to break. But there is another possibility. Perhaps Barabbas took some time to reflect on his near-death brush with the wheels of justice. Maybe later he learned something of the innocent man who took his place on the cross. And, possibly, his life took a turn for the better. Who knows? I realize that the chances are slim, but I wonder…

In reality, I am not that different from Barabbas. Sure, our crimes are different, but the result is the same – I was a condemned man. I was facing my own death sentence. I deserved my punishment. But an innocent Man took my place and I gained my freedom. I don’t know how Barabbas responded to his freedom, but gratitude for that gift prompts me to live a life that brings honor and glory to my Redeemer.

God loves you!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Streak Is Over!

Our society is geared to celebrate winning. We salute the successful. We value the victorious. We cater to the conquerors. This attitude is especially evident in the world of athletics. Adoration is heaped upon those athletes who run the fastest, jump the highest, throw the farthest, and, above all, win consistently.

So it was with some interest that I read this week of a Connecticut high school girl’s basketball team that had become known for its losing rather than winning. The Oliver T. Wolcott Technical High Wildcats had not won a basketball game since February of 1990. You read that right – nearly 19 years of futility. Nearly two decades without the thrill of victory – only the agony of defeat. Then, what had become almost unimaginable finally happened. This past December, the Wildcats scored a 54-43 victory over Gilbert. After so long a period of losing, you might think that the team would forget how to celebrate a win. But such was not the case. The coach said, “Those girls were crying and jumping up and down and hugging. We put them back on the bus and they were singing” (Ray Giler, highschool.rivals.com, 3-23-09). The same article goes on to note the following: “The next day the Waterbury paper ran a headline, ‘The Streak Is Over’…The beatings resumed after Christmas against more formidable competition with Wolcott losing by 50 and 60 points. But the streak was over.”

The same headline would have been appropriate following the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. After centuries of human futility, the Savior dealt the decisive blow to Satan’s death grip on the human race. By the time the sun rose on the third day following the crucifixion, it could truthfully be said that, spiritually speaking, “The Streak Is Over!” Or, as Jesus Himself would say with His final words before dying: “It is finished!” (John 19:30). We can joyfully echo the words of the apostle Paul: “…thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

God loves you!

"I" Disease

“LORD, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; let me know how transient I am. Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; surely every man at his best is a mere breath” (Psalm 39:4-5).

King Nebuchadnezzar was ruler of the known world in his day. The Babylonian monarch commanded an army that was feared far and wide. Few dared to stand in His way and those who did suffered the consequences. Nebuchadnezzar had reached the pinnacle of success. But, after a while, the king experienced a crippling disease. He developed “I” problems. Symptoms began to show up one day as he was walking on the roof of his magnificent palace. Oddly enough, his “I” problem revealed itself through his mouth: “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30).

God spends the rest of Daniel 4 implementing an aggressive treatment regimen designed to cure Nebuchadnezzar’s problematic “I” sight, including a long period of isolation and large doses of humility. Thankfully, the prescription worked! By the time the treatment ended, the king was able to clearly see his own insignificance in comparison to the True Ruler of the universe. The cure is reflected in the patient’s own words: “But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:34).

I, too, have my own “I” problems. If I am not careful, my own ambitions, my own attainments, and my own possessions can block my vision of God. When that happens, I, like Nebuchadnezzar, also need to be reminded of a simple fact – that in comparison to God, “…every man at his best is a mere breath.”

God loves you!