The Saddest, Gladdest Day

 

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

Matthew 28:1-7 KJV

Jesus came for the sole purpose of giving his life that we might attain eternal life in heaven with him. The only step we need to take, as it says in Acts 16:31, is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and we shall be saved. The choice is ours.

A joyous Easter to you.

The Dogwood Has Bloomed

The dogwood has bloomed. The tree sits on a corner along the street I  follow to get to my bank. Every year I anticipate the arrival of the flowers, waiting for the splash of white blossoms to stir my heart as I hurry down the thoroughfare.

Not only is the sight breathtaking, it reminds me of the season into which we are about to enter. The most important day in the earth’s history is about to be celebrated, the remembrance one that affects every person on the face of the planet.

Two thousand years ago, God had sent his son to earth. After thirty-three years here, Jesus was about to fulfill his destiny. He traveled much of Jerusalem with his band of followers, teaching people about the kingdom of heaven, healing their diseases, restoring their loved ones. He’d made enemies and gathered many friends.

The Sanhedrin feared him because he spoke against the false teachings for which they were known. He threatened to upset the delicate balance the Jews maintained in the presence of the Roman occupation. They looked for opportunities to remove him.

He knew their hearts. He understood their thoughts. He sensed them watching him. He ate with publicans and sinners. He healed on the Sabbath. They were waiting to accuse him when the time was right.

Passover was coming. Jesus would enter Jerusalem to celebrate with his disciples. No one but him can know this would be the last time he would enter the city. His enemies waited. They plotted. They watched. Soon they would act. God’s plan was about to be fulfilled.

Acts 16:31 says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” In the violent acts that would follow, everyone would gain access to eternal life. The innocent would be slain, the guilty redeemed, the key to heaven placed within everyone’s grasp. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, it would be only a matter of time.

 

This is the first installment in a three-part series leading up to the celebration of Easter.

 

Renewal Awaits Us

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Not often do both Palm Sunday and the first day of spring arrive together, but this year they do. Both events represent renewal in God’s scheme of things.

Spring brings rebirth of the earth. Flowers awake from their slumber. Birds build nests for their young. Trees bud out, grass grows, the sun fills the sky more and more often. Rejuvenation is all around us as a sleeping world comes back to life.

Palm Sunday represents reawakening as well. God’s perfect plan would fall into place, the main players ready to act to redeem a world full of sin. One man would die, and thousands more would be transformed.

Rereading the biblical account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mark 11: 1-19), I had to remind myself Jesus knew entering Jerusalem would be the end of his life here. To fulfill the scriptures and finish what he had come to do, he would be crucified. I can only imagine the thoughts going through his mind when he sent the disciples to fetch the young donkey colt waiting for him. Only kings rode animals into town. Just that act alone would raise the suspicions of the Pharisees and Sadducees toward him.

He had to know what conflict would arise when he entered the Temple and overturned tables, sending moneychangers scurrying for cover. He forbid anyone to carry wares through the building. “It is written,” he said, “that my house shall be called a house of prayer to all nations. You have made it a den of thieves.” Now the Sanhedrin plotted to destroy him.

All of the events led to God’s most sacrificial act—the death of his son on the Cross. We who believe have life eternal, all of us forgiven for our sinful natures because of Jesus’ blood shed at Calvary.

As you celebrate the coming of Spring this Sunday, and as you spend time in worship remembering the beginning of the events that led up to Christ’s resurrection on Easter, consider the meaning of renewal in your life. Let God’s miraculous act change you. For you He died.

Acts 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.”

Bleeding Heart–A Bloom in Time for Easter

When I returned from Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in Felton, California earlier this week, I was greeted by several blooms of my bleeding heart plant which grows by our garden fountain. I thought it fitting that a heart-shaped flower should emerge the week before Easter, representing the love Christ showed for me when He died on the cross at Calvary.

In a culture which commercializes everything, including dressing grown men like white rabbits who now sit in malls and give candy to children, it is difficult to remember that the Easter season is a commemoration of sacrifice.  Jesus, a sinless man, sent by the heavenly Father, was brutalized by jealous religious leaders, condemned before a Roman governor, and forced to carry his own cross to a hill above Jerusalem where he was hung to die. No rabbit ever entered the story.

Crucifixion is considered by many the most heinous way to die. The victim is nailed to a wooden stake, hoisted into the air, and left to slowly bleed to death. The weight of his body compresses his heart and lungs, suffocating him.

Suppose for a moment they’d crucified a rabbit.  Nailed his paws to a tree. Can you imagine what would happen in our society? The Humane Society would appear in force, demanding restitution for the poor little bunny. Activists would lobby Congress to forever end any killing of rabbits by torture. The public outcry would rival the noise of an atomic bomb blast.

Instead, a man was tortured to death, and we celebrate with candy eggs and chocolate chicks, unaware that His sacrifice was made to cover the sins of the world. The shedding of his blood would wash away the unforgiveable, leaving in its place a restored human soul. All we need to do is ask.

Acts 16:31 says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” God cared so much for you that He sent the one thing most precious to him—His only Son—to die a criminal’s death on a cross. His gift of love assures you of eternal life in heaven with God. It’s so simple, many people miss it.

Happy Easter. Be joyful that Jesus has risen from the dead and waits in heaven for you.

When Did Spring Sneak Up on Us?

One blossom the night we sprung our clocks forward, a garden full when we awoke the next morning.

Spring is Here? Surprised by the date on next week’s calendar, I have to ask myself when spring snuck up on me. Have I been slogging around in the muddle of winter, overpowered by world news and current events, oblivious to the changes around me?

The birds have certainly been trying to tell me. They flit and flirt in the trees beyond our bedroom window, delightful little tunes coming from their throats. Twitter pated, that delightful term coined by the Disney movie, Bambi, describes the fervor of these happy little creatures.

The squirrels have caught the fever as well—dashing across the lawn, up the tree trunk, and along the top of the fence. Soon our resident mother squirrel will parade this year’s young across our yard, showing them the path she follows through the apple tree, over the roof of the house next door and down the camellia bush to the Ponderosa pine in front. Baby squirrels are so much fun to watch.

The rapid onset of spring has a positive side. Warmer weather, pretty flowers, Daylight Savings Time and Easter. The night we sprung our clocks forward we had one daffodil blooming. When we awoke the next morning, a garden of yellow trumpets greeted us, the sun had come out, and the street where we live came to life—lawn mowers, bikers, parents pushing strollers to the park at the end of the block.

Easter, March 31, which follows the spring solstice, brings another kind of renewal. Jesus came to earth to offer man a bridge to heaven, an escape from sin. His death at Passover, and his resurrection three days later conquered death forever. Because he took on sin, we became righteous in him.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NASB)

21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Enjoy your spring and the renewal it brings, leaving the dark of winter behind. Embrace the newness Christ offers to you and find spring in your soul.

Happy Spring and an even happier Easter!  I’ll be gone this next week. I’m traveling with a friend to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in Fenton, California where we’ll join  a host of others fine-tuning our writing skills, connecting with publishers and celebrating Palm Sunday together. See you in two weeks.

First Day of Spring–Not to be confused with Easter Miracle

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Next Tuesday marks the first day of spring! Already the daffodils are blooming, the crocuses are purpling the landscape and the flowering plums are lining our street. The arrival of spring, marking the beginning of warmer days and summer flowers, makes me want to sing.

 As my children were growing up, we would celebrate the first day of spring by hunting chocolate eggs in the yard. We’d pretend that a spring robin had chosen to leave the candy with us for safe keeping. We would then head to the kitchen to color real eggs for an endless supply of egg salad sandwiches the next two weeks.

By separating the fun of activities associated with spring—eggs, bunnies, birds and nests—from the miracle of Easter, I hoped my children would grow up understanding the sacrifice that had been made for them at Calvary. When His claim as the Messiah was rejected by his people, the Lord Jesus Christ went to the cross to die on the eve of Passover. He rose alive the third day after in order to give all mankind a guaranteed plan for heaven.  I didn’t want my children to grow up missing all that Easter means shrouded in a manmade sugar high.

It amazes me how our culture works so hard to mask the truth of Easter by masquerading bunnies as egg layers, chicks as chocolate, and jelly beans as bird eggs. Had a rabbit been nailed to a cross, its paws bloody from the nails that pierced them and the wood stained by the loss of life, I am certain that the outcry from the inhumane treatment of an animal would have made national news.  The Humane Society would have marked the day as a national holiday to remind us of the cruelty and proclaimed Peter the rabbit as their mascot.

Should Jesus have any less acclaim?

Scripture tells us that the veil in the temple was torn in two at the moment that Jesus breathed His last breath. Matthew 27:50-51“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”

How many of the Sanhedrin realized at that moment what they had done? How many went to their graves knowing they had killed God’s anointed? Did they ever know that their actions were part of God’s plan of providing a way to heaven for everyone, even a Gentile like me?

Enjoy your first day of spring. And for those of you who have been blessed with the warmth of sun, would you please tell it to come to the Northwest? The snow and rain are getting old.