Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Jesus was in the center

It's hard to believe that the human spirit and behavior is so unpredictable.
We see and experience the emotional side of that during the week of Easter.
In the New Testament we are told of the entry into Jerusalem, the beginning of the Easter week.
The disciples were walking with Jesus when he said to them in
Matthew 21: verse 1
As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. "Go into the village over there," he said, "As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with it's colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, 'The Lord needs them' and he will immediately let you take them."
This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said, in the Old Testament book of Zechariah 9:9
"Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem!
Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey- riding on a donkey's colt."
The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it. Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around them were shouting, "Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in the highest heaven!"
The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar, as he entered.
"Who is this?" they asked. And the crowds replied, "It's Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."
Let's stop for a minute.
The disciples had no idea what was going on. This was Jesus, who they had spent a lot of time with for many months, do you wonder what they were thinking? I sure do.
It was just the beginning for Jesus and He knew this had to take place to fulfill the prophecy written.
Just like at Christmas when all the prophecy had to be fulfilled.
This season of time was the same for him.
Jesus was in the center.
The people were joyous and exalting him, praising him with adoration.
Then the moods changed and the prophecy continued to be fulfilled.
He would be denied, he would be taken to court, accusations that were not right or real would be thrown at him, he would be lead to the place of the cross.
As it was written:
Jesus was in the center of the story.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Saying good bye.

Taking a bit of a detour from the Easter theme.
I have been reading a blog for about a year now.
It is called Mundane Faithfulness and it has been a journey for the author Kara, and her family and her readers.
She passed away last Sunday from stage four cancer.
It's been quite a journey for her and her little family and for those who have read her words.
This is the last journal writing from her blog.
I share it because, it is so very important to pray for her family and to help in any way we can.
We all miss her even though we have never met, we all cannot know what it will be like, to have her not be the author of her blog any more, as we have shared in the deep abiding love she had in the Lord.
We were there cheering her on and watching as she would make a video for her husband, and her little children, treasures for them later as they grow, pretty painful right now to watch.
Please keep her family in your prayers.
She was a wife and mom to four very beautiful children.
The journey will be hard for all of them to move forward without her.
Saying good bye is never easy.
They will be showing a live stream of  her memorial service because of the friends and blog readers who cannot come in person to her service.
If you have a way to donate to her family it would be appreciated.
God desires us to support each other and this little family needs prayers, and if  you can also purchase her book it would help the family.
May we pray for them to have comfort as they move through this grief filled time of life.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

With heaviness of heart.

The days were moving closer for Jesus and for his ministry to end.
He knew those who learned to follow and walk with him, would experience the darkness of spirit and sadness of soul, when seeing him on the cross.
I imagine the heaviness of heart weighed him down.
He was God, and man fully capable to be both in the same body.
He still felt our feelings. He still felt our sorrow.
He still felt our deep sense of being alone.
When he was in the room with the disciples, breaking the bread with them and sharing the wine.
He knew he would be leaving them soon. They had to have felt his heavy heart and different mood.
Have you ever spent time with someone who had a heavy heart and a 'quiet countenance?'
Yeah I have and it is a bit 'unsettling.'
Jesus was in that 'mindset' of pulling in yet trying to minister to them.
He knew Judas would betray him, in fact he told him he would.
Luke 22:21 Jesus said, "But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me. For it as been determined that the son of man must die. But what sorrow awaits the one who betrays him."
The disciples could not fully understand what he was staying.
How could they? I am not even sure Judas understood it.
It is hard to watch someone you love leave. The disciples were sure he wasn't leaving for good.
They could not take in to their 'hearts'. Denial is good for a season when someone we love is very ill.
Denial was also good for the disciples.
For they were about to learn a lesson about emotions and commitment and promises, that would follow them for a lifetime.
They were all sure they would stay with Jesus through anything that might take place.
How shallow were they to think that was possible.
When we know someone is ill or dying, we do what we can to grab onto the hope of keeping them here.
I am sure the disciples thought 'if he was leaving' he wouldn't go far.
It had to have been really hard for all of them.
When we know the middle of the story we can understand it better.
The beginning of his life was Christmas, then he grew into a young man, and then the day came for him to became ready to show his 'spiritual side', when he did signs and wonders and told stories in parables for a few to understand.
Those who who followed him learned to love him.
When he said to them he was leaving, I believe the wall of their hearts went up and they quit listening.
We can't blame them. No one wants to say good bye to a loved one.
Denial is a part of death we rarely hear about.
But it's real and it's necessary to process the loss that is to come.
I am sure the days following Jesus death the disciples talked about what he told them.
It's like when you reach for the phone to call your loved one only to realize, you can't.
You remember and move back into the times of sharing and memories and you wish so much for them to come back to you just one more time, with heaviness of heart, you remember.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A fair question

Before Jesus death he had been preparing the disciples the time would come when he would be leaving and going away from them.
They really didn't fully understand what he was telling them, and I would imagine his patience was tested a time or two by their behavior when he taught them so often only to have them not understand.
There was one specific time when Jesus focused on Peter.
Knowing his heart already, Jesus desire was to not only test his heart response but to teach him.
Remembering when he was in the garden and he was being real with them and asked for some support from them, "stay up with me and pray."
When he returned he found them sleeping and not supporting him at all.
It must have been a lonely place for him, emotionally.
Jesus was very much aware of the agony of the cross and his heart and spirit was weighted heavy with the knowing, of the flogging, the torture, the weight of the wooden cross he would carry and most of all the isolation and separation from his Father.
I imagine his heart was heavy when he looked at the disciples who he had learned to love and knew he must say good-bye.
He focused on Peter one evening and said to him,
"Peter you will deny knowing me three times after my death."
Upon hearing this Peter flat out disbelieved him. He said, "Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even die with you."
Jesus said,  "Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me."
Now we can't blame Peter for being brave and promising.
Wouldn't we all say the same?
I won't ever deny you Lord, yet when the pressure comes and we are asked the question.
If our answer would mean life or death to us, what would we all say?
It is a very fair question to sit with.
As we move closer to the Easter story let us challenge ourselves to think of our response.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Five minute friday

The word prompt for this Friday is: Real
You write for five minutes with no editing and no over correcting.
Dictionary.com said real is something that is true, it actually exists.
This goes with my last blog writing about Jesus.
He was real from the moment in time before he was born as a baby, and then grew into the man he became at age thirty three when he was at the end of his ministry.
He was real. Not an imaginary figure that we talk about and read about in story books.
He was real. A savior. God's Son.
He really did exist and it really was a special moment in time.
I think it brings me a lot of comfort to know he was who he said he was and the fact that he loved us, no matter how we treat him or disbelieve him. He loves with an open heart and mind.
I have been thinking a lot about friendships lately.
The real ones I have. I am by nature not a fake type person.
If you met me in 'real time' hopefully you would see me as I am.
There is no pretense or fake appearance. I am who I am.
I desire real friendships. Relationships who can be real with each other.
Also within that reality we might have to say something strong or truthful or even discerning, so that other person can realize, 'this is an issue.'
Jesus did that. He told it like it was. He did not mince words or try to not hurt feelings.
He believed in the process of change and he loved to change lives as he saw they needed to be changed.
He was real and he was honest and he was compassionate.
The word for the day is real.
Let us do our best to do that and be that with each other.
When someone asks you,"how are you?" maybe today is the day
to finally say, "Not so good can you talk and pray with me?"

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The story of Jesus

When I think of the story of Easter it is not so warm and fuzzy as the Christmas story.
Where Mary labored during the journey to Bethlehem, with Joseph walking the donkey beside her thinking long and hard about the new life they would be making together.
Where the angels helped bring the story to life telling each player about hope to come.
The Christmas story had so many key people involved, each were critical to the prophecy of the story.
A baby would be born, his mother would be Mary and He would save his people from their sins.
It was all pre-ordained since the beginning of time, from the Old Testament to the New.
God planned it and it had to happen exactly the way it happened.
The Easter story is not too much different.
It is filled with a mixture of joyous jubilee, on Psalm Sunday and then quickly turned into a brutal 'murderous death' and Crucifixion.
It is also about relationships.
If you follow the life of Jesus, he met with and knew many people and loved deeply.
It was all a part of the whole picture. The story of Jesus.
So many people were involved in the scenes that created the Easter story, just like the Christmas story.
God involved people, just like you and me.
He could have done it differently but he didn't make that choice.
It was purposeful and powerful to finish the story in this dramatic way, so we would understand as much as we can and believe deep within our hearts his love for us.
As we read in the word about the events leading up to the day of Crucifixion, we read that Jesus was deeply moved and emotionally torn, just as any of us would be feeling when death is near.
In the garden we find him withdrawing and prayerful.
He had been preparing them for the last few days that death was pending for him, and even though he was God in the spiritual sense, he was also man on the personal level.
No one wanted to be crucified. It was torturous and brutal.
It was humiliating and horrible. It was terrifying and painful.
In Luke chapter 22:39 the word tells us Jesus struggled in vs 41:
He walked away about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, 
"Father, if you are willing, please take this cup from me. 
Yet I want your will to be done, not mine."
Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. 
At last he stood up again and returned to the disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief.
He said to them, "Why are you sleeping? get up and pray so you will not give in to temptation."
The journey to follow was his journey.
He knew it would be hard and he also knew it must happen.
He also knew at a time of great stress some would walk away from him.
I often wonder how he stayed so strong and firm, but I also know it was the power within him being restrained. The reason for his birth was in full preparation for his death.
It was all in the master plan.
I often wonder what the disciples thought about as they remembered the scenes and the memories shared with him. Just as we do the same when we lose someone we love, we often look back and remember the fond moments we spent with them.
Remembering the conversations shared.
The tender moments of friendship and memories treasured.
Do you suppose they remembered Jesus in that way?
I think they had a combination of fond memories and deep regret.
He told them over and over he would be leaving them soon.
And they never really got it.

Monday, March 16, 2015

A daughter was born

It was thirty seven years ago... our son was three years old and looking forward to being a big brother.
I was so glad the new baby came later than his birthday, as he really wanted his party first and even though she came early it was after his big day of turning three and becoming a big boy.
Six days later I delivered a beautiful baby girl, after four hours of labor.
She was five pounds and a few ounces and very tiny, with a sweet round head and darker hair than I ever imagined. I had to have an emergency C-section because she was in the wrong position.
It was fine with me as long as we were both fine and healthy.
We named her Sarah Kathleen meaning "Princess, dear to my heart."
She changed our family of three to four and immediately brought so much completion to our family.
We were young and didn't really know what we were doing with two little ones, but we managed and we grew together as a family.
Sweet baby bringing so many sweet memories.
So long ago.
We have been so blessed to watch her grow from a little girl, 
to a young girl, to a teen and than to a mom. 
It is both amazing and a blessing to say, "Happy 37th birthday,"
God gave us a beautiful daughter, a sister for her brother, 
and years later a mommy to her beautiful daughters.
A tiny daughter was born to you, then twins joined your world.
They all were preemies, Faith was 2 lbs 11oz and Hannh and Alexis 
were 4.6 and 4.10 all were so tiny and so precious.
Three sisters hand in hand walking together in this journey you provided for them.
A daughter was born. 
Then three more joined the story.
The circle of life continues and we rejoice in their beauty.
We are proud of all of you.
I am proud to be your mom, and especially proud to be their grandma.
We will always be here for you and always remind you how much God is blessing you.
A daughter was born and we are so very thankful.