When Diety Triumphed Humanity

Courage to act when one fears what lies ahead is a circumstance common to man. We resist entering a room where unfamiliar faces wait. Mounting a podium before a live audience makes us tremble. Wearing a smile, when people who oppose us are present, challenges our resolve. If we could run the other way, we would, and often do.

Planning to celebrate Passover with his disciples more than two thousand years ago, Jesus arrived outside Jerusalem, knowing he would not leave the city alive. The people heard he was coming and lined the streets, waving palm branches and throwing clothing in his path. He rode a donkey through the crowd, greeting the citizens as a king might. This display of popularity angered the Jewish leaders and they sought ways to silence him. Though it was the middle of the night, they followed him and his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane, dragging Jesus away to stand before the Sanhedrin and later Pilate.

Jesus could have said no to his fate, simply turning away from Jerusalem and celebrating Passover elsewhere. He could have continued his ministry in another part of Judea. He could have behaved in the same way most of us would have when confronted with difficult circumstances. But he was no ordinary man—he was God in human form. He’d been sent here to redeem mankind from its sin. The only way to complete his mission was to offer his life as the atoning blood sacrifice.

When the Sanhedrin later confronted him, asking if he was the Christ, the son of God, he answered with prophecy. (Luke 22:69)  “I am. Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.” His answer angered his accusers and would result in his being led away to be tried and convicted by Roman law, sentenced to die by crucifixion at Calvary.

As we enter this Easter season, remembering what was done for us at the cross, let us not forget Jesus lived among us as a man. He faced the day to day trials of human life to identify with us. He sweat drops of blood as he faced his destiny. He knew real fear as we would. But in the end he acted as the God he was that we might live for eternity with Him—conduct none of us could duplicate.

 

Happy First Day of Spring–SNOW?

Snow is expected to fall in the Cascades this weekend. Forecasters predict the accumulation will be light, but any precipitation will be welcome since the white stuff is almost non-existent in the nearby mountain ranges.

But on the first day of Spring? Seriously?

Oregon is known for strange weather patterns, this winter no exception. Little rain has fallen the past few months, spring flowers are already finishing up their blooming seasons, and above normal temperatures have lulled people into thinking they’ve drifted south somewhere in their dreams. Considering more than half of the United States has received above normal amounts of snow and ice in recent months, breaking records with their storms, Oregon’s lack of precipitation has locals shaking their heads, wondering what is going on.

When we first married, my husband and I visited Crater Lake National Park in mid-July. Around much of the crater’s rim, six-foot accumulations of packed snow lined the roads and blocked the hiking trails. The park ranger who led our tour said Crater Lake had two seasons—winter and August. Considering snowpack at the resort this year is reported to be twenty-eight inches—the lowest recorded snow level in years—Crater Lake may see a regular spring and summer as fears of drought plague the state.

In Psalm 147:15-18, while praising the Lord the psalmist writes,  “He (the Lord) sends out His command to the earth, His word runs very swiftly. He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes; He casts out His hail like morsels. Who can stand before His cold? He sends out His word and melts them; He causes His wind to blow, and the waters flow.”

Though I don’t pretend to understand why these events have occurred, I have to believe God has a reason for the freak weather patterns. So while I work outside in sleeveless tanks in the middle of March instead of May, preparing my July flowers to bloom in June, I’ll rest in the knowledge that the God of the heavens has everything under His control. Maybe He’ll hit us with a blizzard the end of March. Don’t laugh—it has happened before. The above picture was taken the first day of spring in 2012.

Happy First Day of Spring.

Seventy-five Years Following the Yellow Brick Road

When Judy Garland starred as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz more than seventy-five years ago, the movie proved to be a technical marvel for MGM studios. Over the years, as technology advanced, the film was remastered, the colors enhanced, and new transcriptions made of Harold Arlen’s lost scores. 

This past weekend our local symphony performed those orchestrations live while a wide screen above the stage aired the movie. Audience members showed up in costume, a local television station awarded prizes, and little children watched the classic film alongside a crowd filled with patrons well advanced in years.

The story of the farm girl is an age-old tale—a young person searching for a better life beyond the confines of their childhood home. Dorothy runs away from circumstances she can’t accept and lands in the magical kingdom of Oz.

In the book of Luke, (15:11-32)  the prodigal son experiences a similar quest, trying to seek adventure outside of the familiar, mundane life he sees himself living with his family. When he winds up broke and eating slop from a pig’s trough, he realizes he’d do better as a servant on his father’s farm and returns home. Both he and Dorothy discover a universal truth—being content is a state of mind, not a place.

In Hebrews 13:5-6 we are told, “. . . be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you, I will never abandon you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper. I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?’”

Being content is a command. We’re not to worry about the things of this world.                Matthew 6:32-33 says, “For the pagans run after these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Finding contentment in our lives will keep us from chasing after every whim, of straying from the path God intended us to follow. We will join Dorothy in saying, “There’s really no place like home.”

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Lee
 

Do You Yaki-Soba?

I am a copycat cook. My family will tell you that when they order something new at a restaurant and enjoy it, I will examine the plate—discreetly, of course—and decide if I can re-create the dish at home. I’ve been successful on a number of occasions, and when I wasn’t sure of myself, I surfed the internet for the recipe.

Re-creating Asian dishes, however, has not been within my area of expertise. The many different kinds of vegetables and the endless chopping has made for a less than successful outcome. To that end my family has happily dined at our favorite Asian restaurants, leaving the preparation to those who are more experienced. Sigh.

At least we did, until our favorite eatery changed owners and the new management eliminated yakisoba dishes from the menu. Two of my family members were quite disappointed with the loss. I decided, despite my former failures, to try duplicating the dinner.

Yakisoba noodles are Japanese cuisine. I had seen dry packages of them on a grocer’s shelf, but when I began my search, the item was missing. I asked at the store’s specialty section and was told they didn’t carry the packaged noodles any longer, but I could find fresh ones in the produce section next to the mushrooms. Score!

The instructions suggested running the noodles under hot water to loosen them, but I found steaming in a double boiler worked better. I picked up ready-to-use stir fry vegetables and added my own supply of julienned carrots, celery, peppers and leeks to the mix. The first attempt was made with diced beef, the second, chopped chicken. The dish got rave reviews.

Proverbs 31 lists all the qualities a virtuous woman possesses. One of the verses mentions the preparation of food for her household. While I can’t claim all the traits the virtuous woman exhibits, my family will tell you I can find ways to feed them.

And yes, they do rise up and call me blessed!