Category Archives: Easter

Save Us

12893953_sPalm Sunday.

I’ve been picking up palm fronds at the backs of many sanctuaries I’ve called home for nearly fifty years. The processions and procedures vary. No church does it the same; not all pageantry is created equal. Sometimes the children process with the palms. Sometimes the choir. Sometimes others. The green is there to remind us of the greater good that took place on that first Palm Sunday. Vaguely, we remember … shadows really, a thick film of dust and years surrounding the scene, preventing full disclosure. All we can do is to imagine. And as imagination goes, mine has been dulled over time.

“Hosanna!” they cried. Save us. A clarion call for deliverance … for a king.

If only they knew what would bring them peace.

I know. You know. But do they know – the countless others who didn’t have a palm branch thrust into their hands this morning?

No wonder Jesus still weeps over his world, even as he wept over Jerusalem 2000 years ago. The world is still looking for its king not realizing that his coronation has already taken place. In our hands we hold crowns adorned with precious jewels of preference and passions, and we search for a head that will adequately fill the frame … fit the mold.

But our preferences and passions weren’t … aren’t the jewels of Christ’s crown. His father’s preference, his father’s passion fashioned for him, instead, a crown of twisted thorns that pressed past flesh to unleash the cleansing flow of perfect redemption – one drop after another until all sin was covered up and fully cleansed by grace.   

We need to remember this. We need to press pass the vagueness, move beyond the veil, and take hold of the truth of that moment. We need to pick up our palm branches this week and wave them before our God and shout with fervent faith the same plea that rang out as the Passion Week unfolded.

“Hosanna!” Save us.

Shake us.

Show us.

Shape us.  

This is my King. This is One who has saved me. He is the all the Peace I need.

The time for deliverance is now. Our King is here. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, and blessed are we who hold this truth in our hearts! As always…

Peace for the journey,

Photo Credit: nito500 / 123RF Stock Photo

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when Easter comes early …

j&j wedding“The Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” -1 Cor. 12:23-25

 

With tears streaming down my face, I leaned into the bride and whispered,

“What a gift! On the eve of celebrating our Lord’s resurrection, you’ve given me Easter.”

It was their first meal as a married couple – the Lord’s Supper. In response, they fed those of us who gathered as witnesses to this sacred occasion.

Really, I’m undone. Even now, a few hours post-communion, I’m teary-eyed just thinking about it.

A wedding. A bride and groom. The bread and the cup. An altar. Empty hands. A hungry heart.

Tonight, Easter came home to roost in my soul, and God used a couple of unsuspecting servants to administer his amazing grace. I don’t know if they went into this day realizing just how their one servant-act would spill over and fill up my empty cup, but God knew.

How needy I am. How lengthy this Lenten season has been – a few days of longing and living without. A famine of sorts that makes the feasting richer.

This year I started the party a day early, and I don’t think God minds at all. In fact, I think he planned it this way … just so I don’t get all hung up on ritual.

Surprises are the best, and no one orchestrates them better than Jesus …

Two thousand years ago on that first Easter morning and tonight on the eve of world-wide remembrance therein.

Happy, blessed Easter, friends. May the grace of the cross and the reality of the empty tomb rest fully and sweetly in your hearts as you walk to, through, and beyond the tomb.

We are an Easter people living with an Easter Jesus. This is our history; this is our present; this is our tomorrow.

Live it like you mean it, proclaiming the Lord’s death and resurrection every step of the way.

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A Harsh Splendor – a Lenten thought (guest post by Chuck Killian)

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The Gospels make it clear—you can’t make the ‘Lenten Journey’ without the desert and wilderness. That forty-day trek is rough terrain. All that stuff about wild beasts, temptations, and hunger, we’d rather not talk about it. And the cruelty of it; “Lord, can we do an ‘end run’ around the wilderness? We can meet you in forty days and celebrate.”

I never go through Lent without thinking of the Harsh Splendor. That is how Death Valley, California, is described. It is three thousand square miles of desert. The weather is hot and dry, reaching 134 degrees. The rain turns to steam before it hits the ground. Yet, in this place, stories abound about eager and greedy miners, who came in search for gold and silver. Instead, they found borax, and with mule teams made their way to the railroad 160 miles away.

Upon closer examination, some other amazing facts are known about Death Valley. Over 1000 different varieties of flowers grow there. Sheep graze atop Cottonwood Range, and the mesquite bush sends down a single tap root 100 feet in search for water. In spite of the fierce landscape, abundant life goes on; even the bristle cone pine has made it for more than 3000 years.

So, I ask, where is this Lenten Journey going to end? We know—the Cross! It is hard to find water there. Where is life amidst a grizzly death? In our Lord’s ‘death valley’, where is the splendor?

The harshest thing you can say about it all is that once this trip is over, it is death for Jesus. But, the splendor of that is there must be death before there can be a resurrection. And for that, there will always be ‘streams in the desert’.

It is recorded that an old pioneer once said, “Someday folks won’t have to make excuses or have a reason to come to Death Valley; they’ll just come because they like it and it’s good for their souls.”

Can it be that the wilderness is rich and verdant in its promise of healing and transformation? What is Lent but getting ready for the feast! Yes, come to the desert—it’ll be good for you soul!

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DSCN0253PS: So honored to have my dad guest posting today. He was the first man to ever hold me in his arms and to teach me about my heavenly Father. His walk with Jesus continues to radically shape mine. Love you, Daddy.

 Photo Credit

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Lent … It’s Killin’ Me (Guest Post by Leah Adams)

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Having come from a Baptist background the only thing I knew about Lent was that it was probably a misspelling of the stuff that you clean out of the dryer. It was not until I went to Young Harris College that I even heard the word, much less had it explained to me. Consequently, I never partook in the Lenten celebration. Even as an adult, I have never felt the urging to participate, until this year.

For those who are not exactly certain what Lent is, allow me to offer the definition from Dictionary.com:

“An annual season of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter, beginning on Ash Wednesday and lasting 40 weekdays to Easter, observed by Roman Catholic, Anglican, and certain other churches.”

Fasting and penitence … sounds fascinating, huh? Well, fascinating or not, it seemed the Lord was calling me to participate this year. As I pondered the matter on Ash Wednesday, I tried to decide what I would give up, or fast. I’m not a chocoholic, so that never crossed my mind. I don’t spend inordinate amounts of time on social media, so I didn’t feel led in that direction. What would it be?

I asked the Lord what I should fast during Lent, and the Holy Spirit plastered Philippians 2:14 (NIV) on the walls of my mind. I could do nothing but follow His lead.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing ….”

Well, alrighty then! If I want to focus on Jesus and His work on the cross, and be more like Jesus, then I need to stop complaining.

“Hmmmpfff! I don’t do a lot of complaining,” my smug self told the Holy Spirit. “This should be pretty easy.”

I think in the distance I heard Almighty God laughing out loud.

About twenty-four hours in, I realized I might have been a bit too smug about the level of my complaining. Forty-eight hours in found me ‘telling’ our Australian daughter, Bree, about something someone else had done that had not pleased my heart. Suddenly, she looked dead-on at me, and in her most charming Australian accent said, “Weren’t you giving up complaining for Lent?”

BUSTED! I had not even realized I was complaining. Oh Sweet Mercy! I still had thirty-seven days left. This was going to be much more difficult than I had anticipated.

The next morning I spent time repenting of my spirit of complaining, and asking the Lord to help me be aware of when I complain. I’m certain He has a mind to answer that prayer. Probably I should just go ahead and duct tape my mouth closed for the next thirty something days. Alas, there is the pesky problem of my thought life. I may not voice my complaints, but I sure think them. Perhaps a long acting sleeping medication is what I need. You know, Rip van Winkle-ish for the next forty days.

What about you? Are you pegging your complaining meter out like I am inclined to do? It is a huge issue, friends. Are you doing everything without complaining?

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untitled-65Leah Adams describes herself as the “prodigal son’s sister” after spending several years walking far from the Lord in her twenties. Helping others understand the grace that is offered by Jesus to anyone who will accept it is the passion of Leah’s heart. In a works-based and failure-prone society, grace is a concept that many people have difficulty grasping, and Leah’s speaking and writing ministry, called The Point Ministries, seeks to point others straight to Jesus and his amazing grace. Although her ministry is to all women, Leah has a heart for reaching those who are part of the Generation X and Millennial groups with the love of Jesus.

An author and communicator, Leah lives in northern Georgia with her husband, Greg, who is also her dentist. She holds a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree from Mercer University School of Pharmacy. Leah is a CLASS certified speaker and is the author of a Bible study entitled, From the Trash Pile to the Treasure Chest: Creating a Godly Legacy, as well as a devotion book entitled, When Words Won’t Come. Her second Bible study, HeBrews: A Better Blend, will be released by Warner Press in the summer of 2014. In her free time, Leah enjoys reading, cooking, camping and sharing girlfriend time. You can visit Leah at her website, www.leahadams.org. She can also be found on Facebook (Leah Adams – The Point Ministries) or Twitter (@PointMinistries).

PS: Leave a comment today to win a copy of one of Leah’s books – your choice. I’ll pick a winner with my next post.

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See and Believe

13846584_s“Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.” –John 20:6-8

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He saw and believed.

Saw what? Strips of linen and a neatly folded head wrap.

Believed what? That Jesus was no longer there. Scripture is unclear as to exactly what John believed, but it’s safe to say that he, at least, believed the earlier report from Mary that Christ was missing from the tomb. Maybe he believed more deeply, that, in fact, Jesus had been resurrected. Regardless of the depth of his belief, one thing was for certain–

Jesus was no longer in the tomb. This fact remains.

Jesus is no longer in the tomb.

Why, then, do we so often treat him as if he were still there . . . assign him to his grave, keep him locked up behind stone as the voiceless, immovable Jesus? Hesitantly, quietly we whisper our unbelief: If only he’d been the one.

I know it sounds harsh. Who of us as Christians would ever admit to keeping Christ in the tomb? I’ll admit it. Sometimes I don’t give the resurrection the respect it’s due. Every time my unbelief gets the best of me, instead of making my way to the tomb to behold Christ’s resurrection, I often make my way to the cross to take hold of his death. Certainly, both truths—the death and resurrection of my Lord—are equally important to any story of faith. But when my journey of grace stops short of the empty tomb, I’ve missed the rest of the story.

That rest of the story? Resurrected life. Life beyond the cross. Life beyond death. Life lived most radiantly and confidently because of the empty tomb.

Let us not stop short of the tomb this Lenten season. Instead, let us run alongside Peter and John, and let us behold what they beheld; let us believe what they believed.

Jesus is no longer in the tomb. Instead,

  • Jesus is alive and well and sitting at the right hand of his Father.
  • Jesus is alive in us through the power and indwelling of his precious, Holy Spirit.
  • Jesus is here.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

Believe and be blessed, friends. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

Image credit: compuinfoto / 123RF Stock Photo

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