Jesus – Born for the Cross {3.27.16}

Happy Resurrection Day!

A few years ago a dear friend I worked with was retiring. I knew I wanted to make her a quilt and somehow have it represent our shared belief in God and faith in Jesus. She is a wonderful encourager and model of how it looks to walk with Christ. This is my humble attempt at picturing Jesus here on earth. The photo is not very clear but I think you can see it well enough to get the idea. Jesus quilt photo (2)

I included a star because the star announced His entry into the world. (Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11)

Then of course, I had to try to make a manger with Baby Jesus inside. (Luke 2:6-16)

I added a dove as a representation of Jesus baptism. (Luke 3:21-22)

At the bottom I tried to create a mountainside with rocks and grass where Jesus preached to the multitudes. (Matthew 5)

Light in the darkness is also represented by the shades of blue (John 1)

At the center is the Cross – the reason Jesus was born. (Isaiah 53 tells of His coming.) God, even after humanity had forsaken Him over and over again, still wanted a relationship with us. In order for this to be possible, there had to be a pure sacrifice – once and for all. So, He sent Jesus to be born, teach us the Way and die on a cross for OUR SINS. (Luke 23:32-34, 44-47)

(Matthew 17:22-23) “When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.”

The tomb where Jesus’ body was laid and the stone which was rolled away upon His resurrection had to be included (that’s the hope we have in Christ and the reason we celebrate Easter). HE IS RISEN!

(Matthew 27:59-28:10) As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. Sir, they said, we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, “After three days I will rise again. So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first. Take a guard, Pilate answered. Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how. So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him. Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.”

The cross was far from beautiful but the love that hung there was pure loving beauty beyond description. The love for us is immeasurable. Think about the lengths and pain endured for us. Should we ever grumble and complain as we follow Him? NEVER. We should look at every person and situation through the cross. Jesus died for all. Jesus rose for all – all who will repent of their sins and follow Him. He is THE WAY, the only way to the Father and eternity in heaven. HE HAS RISEN, HE HAS RISEN INDEED. AND, HE IS COMING BACK FOR HIS OWN. WILL YOU BE GOING HOME WITH HIM? IF YOU HAVE NOT YET DECIDED FOR JESUS, TODAY IS THE DAY. Don’t delay! Choose Life!

Daffodils and Doves {3.20.16}

Today is Palm Sunday and the first day of spring. I welcomed the day with joy! daffodils Yellow daffodils are in full bloom in my front garden and the doves are again cooing on our porch roof. It is hard not to smile when you see sunshine and spring flowers. They don’t usually last very long but while they are here it is beautiful and fragrant. I love the hyacinths because they smell heavenly but the daffodils are bright and cheerful.

Song of Songs 2:11-12 “See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.”

This dove was not scared at all by my face in the window with a camera but both eyes are on me.

Psalm 104:12 “The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.”

Job 12:7-10 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”

So, as you wake up tomorrow morning (even though it is Monday and for most it means back to work), let the beauty of creation speak to you of God’s goodness and join in the praise! I assure you that it will create a cheerful attitude. Happy spring!

Encourage a Child, for Goodness Sake! {3.17.16}

What does it mean to encourage? What is goodness?  This is what the Webster 1828 dictionary says:

ENCOURAGE. To give courage to; to give or increase confidence of success; to inspire with courage, spirit, or strength of mind; to embolden; to animate; to incite; to inspirit.
GOODNESS. The state of being good; the physical qualities which constitute value, excellence or perfection; as the goodness of timber; the goodness of a soil.

Children have been on my heart and mind a lot lately. The children in my family, community, state, nation, and the world at large. I believe our children are in crisis. The lines between right and wrong are blurred. Sometimes there seem to be no boundaries at all. Even if they don’t act like it, or even think it, children need boundaries and want to know that we care enough to set and keep them. Families are falling apart. We are all busy, distracted, and caught up so much in our daily “to do” lists that sometimes we don’t even have time to think, let alone listen to our children. {I know this first hand I am sad to say.} The responsibilities we have before us are daunting to say the least. With our fast paced world, we accomplish much but feel the need to do even more. We don’t seem to get away from our work and technology. When was the last time we turned off our phones and TV’s and communicated with each other, or played a game? Do we even know what to say? Are we anxious about what we are missing on Facebook or Twitter while we are “unplugged”? encourage 2

We all need encouragement – you do and I do. But, what about our children? They need encouragement too, not just direction and discipline. Maybe we are in situations where we do encourage our children on a regular basis. I pray that is true. But, what about the children around us (in our neighborhoods and communities)? Is anyone encouraging them? We can be the ones to take a positive interest in them. We often times we see admirable qualities in action and can encourage, even if we don’t know them. I have seen admirable qualities in our neighborhood children. I have commented on it to some of their parents, but really don’t remember telling the child. They are the ones who need to hear it the most. Sometimes we see an admirable quality that is being used in a negative way. We can comment on that in a positive way as well. It just takes a little finesse (and Holy Spirit’s guiding). I encourage you to think about what some of those qualities might be: determination, steadfastness, kindness, play well with others, integrity, or compassion…you fill in the blanks. Then, encourage someone.

encourage teen 2And, let’s not forget our teenagers. They may be the most vulnerable to negative influences. Think about it…they have temptations to evil all around them. Most of us adults really can’t imagine the pressure they live under every day. Someone is always trying to sell them something – beauty, fame, money, drugs, sex – you name it. All we have to do is turn on the TV to see it. We all, even as adults are bombarded by what we are told by the media – how we need to live and look, what we need to have and do, etc. Think about the teens who see these same ads. Their brains aren’t even fully developed yet. Their reasoning is often times not as good as ours, and ours gets mixed up. They, like all humans, want to be loved and appreciated. If we don’t feel it in a proper way, we’re subject to temptations of the evil forces who promise it (whether face to face or through internet deceit). Their hormones are racing, adulthood is just ahead, and they are finding their way. Perhaps they are the most targeted and less equipped to fight the battle. How do we relate to teens? Do we ignore them, try to avoid them, or encourage them to goodness?

1 Thessalonians 5:14 says, “And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”
Hebrews 3:13 “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

I wonder how many opportunities I have in a given week to encourage a child. How many have I wasted? As God has put this on my heart, I hope it will prompt you to keep your eyes open for children who need an encouraging word from you. So, let’s encourage a child, for goodness sake!

The Magic of Music {3.7.16}

I know, music really isn’t magic but it does seem to have the power to transport us, doesn’t it? Sometimes it’s to another place and time, sometimes it’s an attitude or emotional change. At least in my life, music speaks to my heart and it speaks loudly.

When my children were toddlers, I took them to the Disney Magic Kingdom. We all had a great time but the one thing I remember (aside from how cute they were in their Mickey Mouse hats) is going on a boat ride through a tunnel while the song “It’s a Small World” played. I can’t hear that song even today without smiling. Something about it lifts my spirits no matter what. Can you ever hear the “hokey pokey” song without thinking of a roller rink? And for me, when I hear a John Philip Sousa marching song, I quickly get in step and think of picking up a baton and marching down the street in a parade (loved those days). When I want to spend quiet time with God, I often sing “In the Garden” to myself (I sound better that way – silently). I’m sure we all have memories tied to songs. It can bring to mind wonderful times, sad times and let’s be honest – sometimes we just like the beat. music notes

The other day I caught a bit of a TV show where Loretta Lynn was performing live. She sang one of the songs on an album recently released. I’m not sure of the title of the song but the chorus was: “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die”. In the song she talks about Hezekiah and Jesus but mostly I remember that chorus. There is so much truth in that verse.

Just yesterday we traveled to two funeral homes for services. One was for an elderly relative who had lived a fairly long life and suffered greatly toward the end. It was a comfort to her immediate family that her suffering had ended. The other was for a young 10 year old boy. That is always much harder to understand. While he lived three years longer than expected, to us it still seems like his life was cut short. “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die” However, he had godly, loving parents who introduced him to God and he accepted the gift of salvation and was baptized. He was truly going home. Even though his life was filled with physical problems, doctors, hospitals, etc. he was a very happy child. What a precious smiling face he had and the smile went all the way up to his brown eyes.

While I thought of Loretta’s song in the physical sense, it has much more meaning in the spiritual sense, doesn’t it? We all want to go to heaven but do we really want to die? We are called to do just that – die to self and live for Christ. That’s not easy to do – in and of ourselves. But oh the freedom when we allow the power of God to transform us into His likeness. Through the death and resurrection of Christ, we have the privilege of coming into a personal relationship with God. That should make us sing for joy!

“Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise His name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise, He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him, strength and glory are in His sanctuary.”  Psalm 96:1-6

So, what song are you singing today? Is it a song of praise and joy for a God who loves you? Does it bring a smile to your face and joy into your heart? If not, ask Jesus into your heart. You will be singing a beautiful new song from here into eternity.

Let’s Sing!