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Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

4197o3w9xeL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_[1]I recently read After Easter by Jeremy R. Howard and Doug Powell and this is a review of the book.

This may seem a little late since Easter is long past, but truthfully you could read this book anytime and be amazed all over again by the miracle of the cross.

A new Christian will read this book and journey from the Garden to the Cross, gaining a good understanding of how the whole redemption story came to be. A seasoned Christian will read the book and be refreshed in remembering the significance of why the Son of God had to die. Both will be humbled again by the realization that He did it for us.

I like how this book gives scriptural and scientific evidence for the events that led to the empty tomb, and even gives clear details of how the early church began and took the mission of Christ seriously.

The book can be read in a short period time but that certainly doesn’t indicate it is shallow. Quite the opposite. The depth of detail contained in its 60 pages is amazing. I would highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to boost their witnessing ability. It would make a nice gift and should certainly be in every church library.

I am a Lifeway/B&H blogger and received a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

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MP900390547[1]Waiting – we hate it but we can’t avoid it. Some waits are simply irritating. Standing in line, stuck behind a stalled car, sitting in a doctor’s office.

Some waiting is pure agony. Waiting for news that could send joy bubbles coursing through your veins or plunge you into a place of pure grief is the worst kind of waiting. Time drags until you are convinced the clock is broken. Minutes tick slower and slower and so do you, weighed down with the wait.

How should we wait? Talk about it? Don’t talk about it? Push through or sit it out? Hide it deep in our hearts or put it out there where our heart is exposed and sore?

I am waiting today in one of those pure agony situations. It’s hard and very emotional. This morning I found myself reflecting back on  Easter week and finding the timing ironic. The Son of God was waiting for the completion of His mission and the fulfillment of the scriptures that week. Knowing beforehand that what He awaited would be agony, how did Jesus wait?

In Luke Chapter 7 it says He started His week of waiting by going to the home of a Pharisee for dinner, an interesting decision given that the Pharisee’s were not exactly friends or supporters. While there his meal was interrupted by a women whom the Bible says was “known to be a sinner”.  Although it isn’t specifically stated, that would indicate she was a prostitute. The woman proceeded to have a complete meltdown, sobbing uncontrollably and we all know how comfortable that must have been for the men in the room. I know it was that kind of red nosed, puffy eyed crying because it produced enough tears to be used in the washing of Jesus’ feet. Once she got her hysteria under control she dried them with her hair and massaged them with expensive oil.

And there in that room, as Jesus waited forthe events that would lead to His  painful death, He restored a broken soul and gave her new life. Of course, He was challenged to justify all of this, prompting Him to teach about great love – just days before He would experience great hate.  (Luke 7:36-50)

How else did Jesus wait that week? Luke says that after the incident of the woman who washed His feet “Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. “ Luke 8:1

Jesus didn’t put Himself on hold as He prepared for the devastating results of His trial. He went about His Father’s business, continuing to reach out and heal, teach and preach, nourish and love the ones who would bring Him to the cross.

What an incredible lesson for me today. My soul may be heavy but my feet and arms still work, my heart can still be touched by brokeness, the people in my life still need me to minister and God still has work for me to do.

I am not called to build a fortress to hide behind while I wait. I am called to be a fortress for a frightened, lonely world by not hiding the light that leads to Jesus behind my own dark situation.

I’m not saying that in times of distress we can’t be sad, or ask for support or seek counsel. I’m just saying that life doesn’t stop because I am in a hard place. Every day, along with the challenges I face, there are tasks I have been given by the One who guards and guides me.

I expect Him to follow through on His promises. He expects me to follow through on my calling. Believe me – He’s getting the short end of the stick while I’m getting the best end of the bargain.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Ro 12:11

 

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With Easter fast approaching, I listened to Sandy Patty’s classic song, Was It a Morning Like This.  The song asks that question about resurrection morning.  Was it a morning like this?  To tell you the truth, I don ‘t think it was.  I think it was brighter, clearer, more beautiful than any morning sunrise we’ve seen since. 

The announcement of Christ’s release from the grave may have gone to Mary first, but you can’t tell me there was one single soul on earth who did not wake sensing  something was different.  I believe people felt a new hope in their hearts that morning, even if they didn’t know why.

I believe mothers kissed their children more sweetly.  I believe neighbors greeted each other more kindly.  I believe even the dogs left the cats alone!  Because after all – love had returned to the world.  The Son lived again and the Father wanted everyone to know!

A Mighty God does not do things in a minor way.  He is a God of the magnificent and of the amazing.  He is a God so powerful He could have snatched His Son off that cross, and so omniscient He chose not to.  His plan and His timing are perfect. 

Can’t you just picture that Father staring at the sealed tomb, tears streaming down his face, arms lifted in anticipation waiting for the perfect moment to give the command?  Waiting… waiting … waiting … and then at the exact instant He knew was right, the power of God pierced the sky to wrap around that massive stone and effortlessly move it aside.

The heart of God the Father and the heart of Christ the Son met at the entrance of the tomb in a sweet and beautiful reunion, witnessed by no one because it was too private, too precious, too moving, too emotional for the human heart to handle.

Oh, God, I am so thankful You do things in a mighty way.  I am so grateful You carried out your plan for mankind.  I am so humbled at the overwhelming love you showed.  Thank you for the privilege of standing here today – and every day – with the sure confidence to proclaim that I know!  I know that my Redeemer lives!

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on the earth. Job 19:25

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I have a niece whose 6 year old daughter is in the midst of her second bout with leukemia; her second long, long period of chemotherapy and all it brings.  It’s tough to watch for anyone who knows and loves this family.  But nothing we experience could possibly compare to the pain this mommy deals with every day as she watches her child suffer.  I marvel at how my niece holds up under the circumstances but I don’t doubt that there are moments when bitter tears flow from the river of hurt and horror within her mother’s heart.

A mother feels every bit of her child’s pain, be it emotional or physical.  Ridicule my child and I want to punch your lights out.  Injure my child and I want to inflict long lasting damage in retaliation.  Break my child’s heart and forever you are on my ‘scum of the earth’ list. 

There are just some things a mother’s heart should not have to bear.  The mother of Jesus would agree with me I’m sure.  When I think of all she had to cope with – from the minute she stepped out at a wedding and voiced her great pride and confidence in her son, to the times of holding her head up while the rumors, whispers and snickers came from friends and family alike, to the horror of the day she watched her Son die in the most cruel manner ever devised, I don’t know how her heart survived.  As women we grieve deeply, carry sadness in our secret places, and weep silently over the things this world throws at us and at those we love. 

Good Friday, the day Christ laid down his life for the very ones who carried out his death sentence, was not a good day for Mary.  She must have died a thousand deaths to His one.  She must have wondered how her dead feet could continue to walk; how her dead heart could continue to beat; how her dead body could continue to have blood flowing through it.

But Easter Sunday – I tell you not one person celebrating the glory of a Risen Lord comes close to experiencing the explosion of joy, the fullness of hope, the leap of new life nor the instantaneous heart healing which took place in Mary’s life that morning.

Oh yes, as mothers we injure easily and wound deeply.  We bleed through our eyes, shedding an ocean of salty tears beginning the moment our child takes his or her first breath.  Praise God that in our calling as mothers we also experience the times of ecstasy bigger and better than anyone else ever could.  It’s why we survive and thrive in our role.

Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.  Psalm 126:5 (NLV)

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I spent Saturday afternoon cleaning up my rose garden.  I pruned, raked out the dead leaves from last fall, pulled new spring weeds and tilled the packed down soil – opening it up to receive the sunshine and moisture needed to make sure I get beautiful blooms.  My hands worked the earth but my mind was on Easter week and getting ready to celebrate the resurrection.

I realize my bushes would have leafed out and bloomed without the pruning.  But to get full and abundant production it’s always better to cut out the dead wood, cut back the spindly spring growth, and let the bush pour all of its energy into new growth.  My bushes could have survived among the weeds but again, if I want all 100% of the nutrients I provide throughout the growing season to benefit the roses, I need to get rid of the things that might suck some of that away.  And while loosening the soil might not be absolutely essential, scraping away the packed earth on top just makes it so much easier for the water to reach the roots of my roses.

The parallel was obvious.  I want to stand at the foot of the cross in full bloom next Sunday.  I want my heart open to the amazing message of the resurrection.  I want everything Christ has for me to go to the very root of my being and nurture growth.  I want the dry covering of dead left by chill winds and winter storms to be cleared away.  I realize to accomplish this I have some forgiving to do, some outreach to happen, some ingesting of God’s word to take place, and some letting go of old wounds to occur.

My commitment for the next seven days:

  • Wash my soul while getting my knees dirty in a renewed emphasis on prayer. 
  • Make a serious effort to experience in a small way what Christ felt on the cross when He generously forgave those who had hurt Him.
  • Snip back the spindly growth of my last few study sessions, return to them and  dig deeper for those pockets of “Miracle Grow” found only  when you put everything you have into what you are trying to uncover. 
  • Trust God to resurrect in me that beautiful bloom of my first love just in time for Easter Sunday.

“Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.”

Psalm 45:11

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