Three Acts and a finale

Act 1 – Scene One:

Greed had overtaken him, and he sold out his friend and teacher.  Why?  No one knows for sure.  Was it just greed or was there something else that drove him to betray his friend, his teacher and mentor.  Did he not believe what was spoken by the one, this one, who could do the impossible with a spoken word and miracles happened?  Was the payment worth the betrayal?  Once the wheels were in motion he was compelled to see this through.

He joined the group that was sent to arrest the man.  They needed him for identification purposes. It was the last place He wanted to be, but here he was.

The group of soldiers marched into the quiet serene garden carrying swords and spears.  Why?  Were they afraid of this one solitary figure?  Maybe they feared the crowd of followers and the disciples that followed closely with the master.

Over there, look there are his followers.  He must be close by.  Look they are sleeping.  Just a little farther three others that were closest to the master couldn’t stay awake either.  The soldiers surrounded the group, and were amazed when the master asked, “who are you seeking?”   Just to make sure they had the right person the soldiers waited until the betrayer Judas kissed Jesus.  The deal was done.  He was taken away.

Act 1 – Scene Two:

Brought before the High Priest to answer the accusations, he stood alone.  The High Priest sent Jesus to Pilot.  No fault could be found but the crowd insisted.  The cries of crucify him became louder and more intense.  Jesus was led away

Act 2 – Scene 1

Beatings and mocking filled the time in the courtyard.  His followers were afraid some left, and one stayed.  He really was afraid the soldiers would recognize him.  In the end it was a young woman who pointed him out.   “You are one of them, you follow this man,” she said.  No, no not me. Silence, then the cock crowed, and this one disciple knew Jesus’ words were true his denial was complete.

The road to Golgotha’s hill was brutal.  He was so broken in body he couldn’t carry his own cross and another was compelled to carry it for him.  The street was lined will people, some mocking and jeering while others wept silently as they remembered all the good he had done.

Act 2 – Scene 2

Thrown down on a wooden cross you could hear the echo of the hammer hitting the spikes in his hands and feet. The loud thud as the cross was dropped into the hole caused his body to be consumed with spasms.  His followers and disciples gazed upon this man thinking all is lost and their hopes and dreams dashed. 

He had no tomb until one man asked for the body and he was laid in a borrowed grave.  The stone rolled into place and sealed.   The world thought it was over.

Act 3 – Scene 1

It was early on the third day when three women went to the tomb.  They were going to finish anointing the body with spices.  Much to their surprise the stone was rolled away.  The body was gone.  What happened?  Did someone take the body.

Act 3 – Scene 2

Mary, alone in the garden became aware of one standing near.  Looking at the man she asked do you know if Jesus’ body has been moved.  Overcome by her grief, she did not recognize the one she loved so much until he said her name.  It was true just like he said.  He had risen and was alive and lives forever more. 

Finale: 

This “play” is not finished.  There is one more final act to take place in this world’s future.

Yes, he is risen, yes, he ascended into heaven. 

Maybe you are one of the scoffers or unbelievers and think of these happenings as just a fairy tale to make people feel good.

One day the finale will unfold, and Jesus will come back to earth again to call his true followers’ home.  Today just as in those days there are many that do not believe.    

JESUS WAS BORN, HE DIED, HE IS RISEN AND IS COMING BACK AGAIN.

HAPPY EASTER

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Brokenness

Brokenness

She had everything she wanted.  At least she thought she did.

Leaving behind a home that was dysfunctional, and at times very unhappy, she strained to capture the life dreamed about.  Just 17 years old, a head full of dreams and a calling from the God she served, life would be wonderful now.  There was no comprehension of where the life journey would take her, but she was ready to go.

People in her high school told her she was not college material, look for something else. No, she was going to college, she would prove them wrong. If they said she couldn’t do it, she would prove them wrong.

The day her acceptance letter came she knew all she wanted would come true.  The next 4 years would prove life would be challenging.  A love lost, a broken heart, lack of funds, illness were just a few of the hurdles that needed to be conquered.  Graduation could not have been sweeter.  The new love of her life by her side, married life started, it was all coming together. 

It is a good thing that you can’t always see the future because you would never want to go there. The two of them, husband and wife, launched out into the calling they longed to fulfill.  No idea that the path they chose would bring so many challenges.  Yes, there were victories that allowed them to cling to hope but the trials often seemed to outweigh those victories. 

Multiple moves, various churches, good jobs, bad jobs and choices made.  All these things were a part of her life journey.  In all of these, there were the mountain top experiences and the valleys of discouragement. It was like the line in in Andre Crouch’s song – “Through It All,” she had truly learned to trust in Jesus.

Still on her journey she is amazed at where she is.  This time of life is not as frenetic and there is time to contemplate.  The kids are grown with lives of their own and often days of reflection keep her company. 

“What have I learned?” It is the good times, and spiritual victories that sustained her, but it was in the broken places, the disappointments, betrayals, loss of friends and other things to numerous to say, she found growth and spiritual lessons.  It is easy to serve God when everything is great but when her life was broken, and all hope seemed lost she found the reality of God’s love and the faithfulness of His promises. 

Brokenness and trials though hard and difficult to understand is what forges the person that God has called you to be.  You become the vessel, that is fit for the Master’s service.

A line from an old hymn says it all.  “Take me master, break me, use me.” 

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It’s 2019

It’s 2019

The new year for me usually begins with a flurry of things to do. Things to get in order so that the year will begin smoothly. New thoughts flood my mind and become seed thoughts for things to write. It didn’t happen. It was only the second time in years that I didn’t spend the early hours of the new year in church and worshiping and praying. There was a valid reason for not going – but – there you have it the “but.” The normal for me was out of order and it seemed that nothing else would line up correctly.

What brought order back into focus was my personal time spent with God. That has not changed through the years. Each year I begin a new yearly devotional book, change the color of pens I use to mark important passages. This year two books along with my Bible are what starts my personal time spent in His presence.

While reading in “Come Away My Beloved” by Frances J. Roberts this one passage brought clarity and what is important for me this year. I share it with you and maybe it will help you.

I have changed it from the “King James English” (which I love to read) to make it easier reading.

GOD ASKS OF ME:

To Give:        So He can bless me more 
To Pray:        So He can respond and help me 
To Rejoice:     So I am kept from being swallowed in anxiety
To Be Humble:   So I am protected from calamities that happen to the proud 
To Forgive:     So that I can receive His forgiveness

“Come Away My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. 

If these five things guide my life through 2019 I will truly be blessed and will grow in my spiritual life.

I welcome 2019 and anticipate all that God has instore for me this year.

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Christmas – Past, Present, Future

It is that time of the year.  Boxes long stored away are pulled out of storage ready for their contents to deck the halls for Christmas.  The tree is up and its branches ready to be laden with treasured ornaments.  Each ornament placed on the tree evokes a memory of all the Christmas’ that have taken place through my years.

The real tree has been replaced by an artificial one but as I place the pole, yes, a pole not a trunk, I remember picking out trees at my Uncle Bill’s gas station.  He always sold trees. We always seemed to pick the tree that had the proverbial hole, you know the one where no branches grew.  It was turned to the back of the wall and covered with tinsel.  In our house the tree stood with nothing on it – just waiting for Santa to decorate it and put presents under the tree.  Every Christmas morning there it was arrayed in splendor.  The most beautiful tree ever.  Later we were told that Santa had so many trees to decorate since we were older we could help, and we did.

Laughter, squeals of joy float through my memory of Christmas’ with my kids.  Waiting for them to fall asleep so we, or I should say me, could begin my gift wrapping.  I still can’t remember why I thought every stocking stuffer needed to be wrapped. A special dinner, cookies everywhere and Christmas cards placed just so.  The children’s program at church, the choir cantata and snow, lots of snow. (The real stuff)

The kids are now adults with families of their own and traditions they have made for their families.  I still remember the traditions of things that had to be done just a certain way.

To say that Christmas is different now is true.  We traded snow for palm trees adorned with festive lights.  We walk outside in bare feet to get the paper to see all the special ads calling us to buy endless things we don’t need.  The decorations are up, and the tree is in place while the memories have been rehearsed in my mind.  There are not as many decorations this year because I have run out of energy.  The cookie count seems to get smaller each year and the variety is scaled down.

Grandpa and I will spend a quiet Christmas and sleep in. (No little ones to wake us.)  We have grown old together and each Christmas that we share becomes special.

One day I will spend Christmas with the reason for the season.  I will transition from earthly life to everlasting life with Jesus Christ in my heavenly home.  I will be able to do this because” God wrapped divinity in humanity, laid him in a manger only to hang on a cross to forgive me of my sins.” (Z. Dodd)

This Christmas I am reminded that Jesus Christ is the best present given, past, present and future.

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When

When my human body is weak and tired from the depth of my being my soul cries to the one who made me.

When my conscious self-beset with questions and doubt my spirit man reverberates with “I know in whom I have believed and I am persuaded He can keep me.”

When confidence fails and hope is attached by only a slim thread, the subconscious mind sends a message to remind me of a hymn I sing, “Blessed Assurance Jesus is Mine.”

When darkness invades my life and it seems the light is almost gone, the radiance of His divine presence shatters the gloom as the light of the word reminds me I belong to Him.

When all seems futile and despair wants me to give in, His words of comfort tell me “weeping only lasts for the night but joy will come in the morning.”

When I feel like I have lost my way I am comforted to know
He has planned my path and knows the way I take.

When my thirst for knowledge calls, I go to the source of ultimate wisdom. The written words of God, found in scripture, challenges my mind

 

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Was It Really Friday?

Was it really Friday

She sat off to the side of the room wrapped in her mourning clothes. Can’t remember what time it is. It must be late in the afternoon because the darkness invaded the room like the darkness of sorrow surrounded her very being. How could this happen?

There were others with her but they were processing their own grief as they searched through their memories of the events of this day.

In her mind, she could still hear the words of the angel who said she was highly favored and she had found favor with God and would conceive a child and call his name Jesus. She remembered everything. The birth, the shepherds and the wise men coming were indelibly stamped in her memory banks. She could picture Jesus as a little one running around the carpenter shop asking so many questions. Those big brown eyes and dark curly hair that framed that cute olive-skinned face were etched on her heart. Everything about this child of hers filled her mind as she sat and remembered. Tears slipped from her eyes as the sobs of grief washed over her. She had watched him grow into manhood.

He sat in the temple and listened as the Torah was read and the religious leaders of the day taught. She remembered Jesus being lost, at least she thought he was lost, and she and Joseph found him in the temple. He astounded those there with his knowledge. She remembered watching him become a man and take on responsibilities. He loved her deeply. She had a front row seat to his miracles and teachings. Miracles, yes but she especially remembered when he turned the water into wine at the wedding.

Why then did this have to happen? He son faced an unfair trial. People lied and accused him falsely. She remembered Peter. How could he. He denied him three times when asked if he were with her son and she remember how devastated Peter was after this took place.

The cries of her son as they beat and scourged him echoed in the chambers of her memory. The sound of the nails as they pierced her son’s bones and flesh raced through her thoughts. More tears slipped from her eyes.

She was remembering every detail of his life, his 12 followers, the miracles and his teachings. Every memory from before his birth till now flooded her senses and the heaviness in her heart was more than she could bear.

The mourning period, according to custom, was not even finished when she understood that the stone from the tomb where Jesus lay had been rolled away. How? Why? Then she remembered his words – could it be? Was he really alive?

Two days of unimaginable sorrow, two days of memories that only brought heartache but now, that third day. What a day. The stone was rolled away – he was not in the tomb. He is risen!

Because of this, these words have such meaning, “I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth on me though he were dead, yet shall he live.” Easter gives us hope.

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Messy In The Middle

Have you ever noticed on a tombstone, at least very old ones, the year a person was born is chiseled in the stone, then comes a dash and finally the year the person died.  When I see this I am reminded that between the years, the dash represents a whole lot of living.

I love the verse in scripture that says:   I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. Psalms 37:25. This is true for me.  I have been young and today I am old but in between the young and the old there was a whole span of “messy in the middle.”

This quote says “ah, youth- it is a pity to waste it on the young.”  I don’t know who said this but I certainly can relate.  My childhood was dysfunctional but at the time I didn’t know it.  I just thought it was normal.  I loved making things, playing in the dirt and all the activities that accompany childhood.

Somewhere in between the beginning of my teen years and the age I am today there was a whole lot of messy.  My parents worked and we would have probably been considered poor but what we were was normal to me.  Mom was a nurse and dad was a panel electrician.  Church was a given at least for my mother, sister and me.  My father was- well my father, depending on circumstances attended church or didn’t attend.  Life at home could be calm and in an instant it seemed everything was turned upside down.  Messy fits concerning my life.

I left home at 17 to attend Bible College and Seminary.  My father drove me to the campus that was 1500 miles from my home. He pulled up, dumped my stuff on the sidewalk, got in the car and said have a nice life and promptly drove off.  I so wanted to cry but refused.  I had no idea where to go or what to do next.  I didn’t even have answers for the finance office until I called my mom at home.  In the 4 year period there were peaks and valleys.  I sang in the band vocal chorus and then for 3 years traveled with the college choir.  How I managed to pay for all the extra is a testimony to God’s provision.

I fell in love got engaged – oops broken engagement.  The next year I met someone and the courtship was combination of hills and valleys but we finally married and set out to pastor our first church.  It would take pages and pages to tell about the happenings.  We went on to pastor 8 churches in 7 states.  During this time I learned that not all Christians were –well I will leave that to your imagination.  I can tell you there were many nights I cried myself to sleep.  There were times of no food in the cupboards and no money in the bank.  When you are hungry you really learn how to pray.

As young married couple we survived a head on crash in a VW Bug and lived to tell about it. After the crash, I checked myself out of the hospital because we had no health insurance.  We had been driving to a church to candidate for the position of pastor.  My husband was going to call and tell them He couldn’t come but I told him to go.  He placed a roll away bed by the phone (that was when phones were mounted on the wall) and I sent my husband off 200 miles away.  I said I would call if I needed him. If I needed help I had the phone nearby.  My husband took off in a rented car (ours could not be driven) to candidate for the church, I survived, and by the way we got the church.

The doctors said I probably should not have kids and they would be surprised if I would be able to conceive.  Surprise, even though they thought I could not become pregnant I did. I lost the baby but in a short time I found I was expecting again.  We had 3 children and they arrived one right after the other.  The family now consisted of mommy, daddy, 2 girls and one son.

During the early years of marriage we managed to survive croup, chicken pox, measles and mumps.  Their teen years saw me on my knees often.  It is a wonder the kids survived.  Messy, oh yes –pastor’s kids are supposed to be perfect – mine were not.

Middle age brought about other messes.  I found myself in the unusual situation of having a marriage that was in trouble.  It was over I thought, where was God?  Again I am amazed that God can pick up the pieces of a broken life a broken marriage and put it all back together again and restore what the devil tried to destroy.

Messy – oh yes the middle of my life was certainly anything but calm or normal.  Each of my middle years brought new challenges and more opportunities to trust my Heavenly Father.  Was I the picture of faith and belief?  I wish I could say yes to that but often I found myself praying or maybe screaming at God.  He is ever patient and I am glad he did not call down thunder and hail upon me.  Ever patient, ever caring, He listed as I cried and saw each tear shed.

Now I am old, and I can tell you the scripture I quoted in the beginning is true.  I learned to stand on the promises of God and though at times I wondered and it seemed like hope was gone God was faithful.  He did not forsake me and I have learned that every promise in the Bible is mine.  I learned to live by faith even when I could not see the results.  I am still doing this every day.

I don’t know how I got to this age. (Lol) I am not claiming old, maybe seasoned but not old. Things have settled down a little and the major messes of the middle years have passed.  Do I still have problems; do I still have to daily stand on His word and trust Him?  Yes! Yes!!!

My future is as bright as God’s promises.  The older I get the more I look forward to that day when I shall see Him face to face.  Don’t get me wrong I want to live every day to the fullest.  I will take every day that God allows me but now heading into the sunset years I know He is always near.

I know in whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him.  One day all the messy parts of life will end and I will be home at last

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Four Powerful Words

Walking the dog early in the morning the words of an old hymn floated through my mind.  It wasn’t long before my voice joined with my mind and I began to sing softly.

Mercy there was great and grace was free, pardon there was multiplied to me. There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.”   By William Reed and Daniel B. Tower

 Wow!  That’s it. In the one short stanza was everything I needed. Mercy, grace, pardon and liberty are needed not just once in my life but these are needed on a daily basis.

Mercy:  Refraining from harming or punishing offenders, enemies.  It can mean kindness in excess of what is expected, fairness, forbearance and compassion.  There are other meanings but reading these definitions caused rejoicing in my soul because this is exactly what I received from Jesus when I came to him.

If Jesus extended these to me, should I not also extend them to those in my circle of influence?  Fairness, forbearance, compassion, and kindness are within my power to grant but there are times I don’t.  What a scale to measure me by.

Grace:  The unmerited love and favor of God toward man.  Believe it or not, I found this definition when I looked up grace in the dictionary.  Amazing.

Often I have heard grace described as “God’s riches at Christs expense.”  The more I think about that statement the more I am humbled.  God so loved me that He sent His son to to die for my sins.  That’s love.

Pardon:  To release from further punishment, to cancel from or not exact a penalty and to excuse or forgive.

My sins are pardoned and I receive eternal life and not eternal punishment.  My sins are not held to my account since Jesus wiped my slate clean.  I am a new creature in Christ Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new. 

 Liberty: Freedom or release from.

How rich I am in Christ Jesus.  Scripture tells us whom the Son sets free is free indeed.  Free from the guilt of tomorrow and the guilt of my past.  Free from my sins and transgression.  I have been liberated from those things that held me chained to my past and free to walk in the light of God’s love.

None these things, mercy, grace, pardon, and liberty are taken for granted.  I need them every day. Fully human I make mistakes and sin.  I need to come to my Heavenly Father and He is faithful to impart what I need.

The first 7 words of the last stanza sum it all up. “O the love that drew salvations plan.”

 

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Once Again

The angels could only remember twice when Heaven was in an uproar.  The first time happened when one of their own was cast out along with those that thought his ideas were great.  Now, again it seemed that something was going on.  The Father and the Son and been talking and there was an atmosphere of expectation.

For a long time man, the Father’s ultimate creation had been separated from fellowship with the Father.  Something needed to be done.  Everyone knew Father God could not look on sin and since that first disobedience by Adam the road to repentance was arduous.  God gave Moses all the laws and rules but even then man did not obey.

All the angels knew the Father longed for a relationship with His created children.  Maybe this was the reason for this time of expectation.

Finally, there was a way to bring reconciliation.  As the angels listened they were astonished at what the Father planned to do.

He was going to send His son to be born of woman.  Jesus was going to lay down all of His glory, step aside Heaven’s splendor and go to earth.  They listened as Jesus said He would be willing to go and then give His life so that mankind could come into right relationship with the Father.

This plan was the talk among the cherubs and angels and they were to have a part in this plan.

Where would He be born and how would this come about?  Lots of questions and they were all answered on the one night so long ago.

The Father chose Mary a young virgin to carry this Holy Child.  “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated “God with us.”(Matthew 1:23)

This would be a great event the angels thought, born in a palace, after all He was royalty.  They couldn’t understand – a stable.  That is no place for the Son of God.  No grand announcement to the earthly kings and rulers.

The angels were at last given their part of the plan.  They would announce His birth.  There in the darkened skies over Bethlehem they gathered.  Their announcement was to shepherds. The sky became full of light and “behold an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”  (Luke 2:10-11)NKJ  “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace goodwill to men!”  (Luke 2:13-14)NKJ

God sent His son to earth to be born in a humble stable.  He came to die so that mankind could be reconciled to God the Father.  This is the story of Christmas.  A baby that would live become a man, die and rise again and by doing this He forever changed the course of history.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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Passing By The Mirror

When did this happen?  It can’t be possible but it is.  The reflection looking back at me is older and looked tired.  How did that happen?  Silly question, you know how that happens and yet, somehow none of us want to believe we are getting older.  We want to believe that we will beat the odds, and in somehow we will find the fountain of youth, the elixir to make us forever young.

There is much to say about youth.  It is a time you approach everything with vigor and an optimistic outlook and you believe nothing is really impossible if you try.  Fondly I remember those days.  All I needed to succeed was for someone to tell me I couldn’t do something and it was a guarantee that I could.  I would prove them wrong.  In most circumstances I did just that and in other times – well with age I have forgotten or refuse to remember. Some of the years have been kind and others, I am glad they are on the completed side of the balance sheet.

My mind still believes I am young and can do anything I did at twenty.  Who am I trying to kid, I will be lucky if I can accomplish what I did when I was forty.  The hair is not gray thanks to the hairdresser and what ever magic mix she uses.  The wrinkles are there but the makeup helps to disguise them, at least for a few hours.  I look back in the mirror, and I try and remember the girl that stood before the mirror with so many hopes, dreams, and ambitions.  Walking down memory lane reveals some dreams realized, plans completed but as I round the turn of my memory bank it reveals the bone yard of failed ambitions and dashed hopes. I wonder if it has all equaled out.  Was it worth it and if it wasn’t then what was the alternative.  The old saying is “hindsight is always twenty – twenty.”  How true. You would have, maybe you should have, but reality says it is to no avail because the past is set in stone and cannot be changed.

The verse in scripture says, forgetting those things which are behind……so I try to learn from the mistakes made.  It does no good to wallow in the past either good or bad.  For better or worse the past is just that it is the past.

Inside of me a voice screams, I have so much to do, I can’t be old but another voice soon joins the chorus and answers, “yes you are and you are tired.  You can’t be twenty or thirty anymore. Reality drops like a thud and I must accept the stage of life I am at.  Ecclesiastes tells us there is a season and a time for everything.  This is my season at this time.

As I grow older I understand my mother and how she must have felt.  With age comes a perspective not found in youth. Even in the sunset years there is beauty.  There are still things to look forward to that are great.  You are free from the constraints that once bound you.  You are not afraid to go with out makeup and maybe your hair is not perfect.  So what if you don’t finish what you started.  You sometimes indulge in that extra piece of chocolate.

At this time in my life I am beginning to deal with the reality that I am not immortal and there will be an end.  Death no longer looms so far away but is a blessing that will come.  When death comes I shall pass from this earthly existence and transcend to the eternal home prepared by my Heavenly Father. He is waiting to welcome His child home.  At this age in life my thoughts turn more toward heaven and wondering, “what will it be like, what will I see, how will I feel and all the other thoughts that trigger my contemplating heaven. Just like the song says “I can only Imagine.”

In the end, I want to be able to say “I have run the course, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  In that last and final breath my spirit and soul will sprint to the finish line where there awaits for me the crown of eternal life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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