Posts Tagged ‘Salvation’

Easter Sunday

March 31, 2013

Today is Easter Sunday.

Yes, we know all about the pagan traditions attached to Easter: Bunnies, chicks, eggs, even the name “Easter”!

So, many people prefer to call it “Resurrection Sunday” in order to delete the paganism and keep the Christianity in it.

We aren’t here to judge, so we’ll let you do what you wish with it. HOWEVER… we still want to point out the importance of this day’s observance.

Today is the day in which we meditate on, and appreciate the incredible thing Jesus Christ did for us: Although He never deserved it He took the mockings, took the beatings, took the blasphemy, and took the death, just so we could be forgiven and have a chance to dwell in the Kingdom of God.

He certainly did not owe this to us.
And yet He did it, even though all of us today weren’t even born yet.
In fact, we wouldn’t be born for many generations at that time!

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for tolerating such pain and humiliation for us.
Thank you for giving us the only chance we could have.

 

 

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Cross vs. Crucifix

October 3, 2012

First things first:
A Cross is the representation of the structure upon which most Christians believe Jesus Christ was murdered.
A Crucifix, on the other hand, is a cross that includes a representation of Christ’s body still attached to it.

It has been my experience that Roman Catholic members tend to prefer the Crucifix, whereas Protestant members tend to prefer the Cross (full disclosure: I am in the “Protestant” group). Quite frequently, I hear Protestants reject the Crucifix because “That’s a dead Jesus, but my Jesus is alive!”

It always makes me cringe when I hear that.
First of all, it’s just a Crucifix, it isn’t a real Jesus on a real Cross — it’s only a representation of the enormous Sacrifice He made for us, and nothing more. Secondly, Jesus wasn’t raised from the Cross, He was actually raised from the grave…. three days later. This means that there was an empty Cross with a dead Jesus in the grave for three entire days before He was raised up again, ergo, a Cross can represent a dead Jesus just as much as a Crucifix can. In fact, since the whole purpose of the Cross was death, I’m not sure how it can be seen as anything other than a representation of a dead Jesus. If one wants to represent a living Jesus, one should have a depiction of an opened tomb instead. Therefore, both Crosses and Crucifixes actually represent a dead Jesus and not a living one; neither is all that different from the other.

This should not be offensive.
It’s a Scriptural fact: Jesus Christ was required to suffer death in order to give us Salvation, there was no other way. His death is something we should keep in mind because without that event we would be forever damned!  But does keeping mindful of a dead Jesus mean that we worship a dead Jesus?

Of course not!

To begin with, one should not be worshipping a Cross or Crucifix in the first place. The Bible is very clear that we shouldn’t worship sacred pillars, poles, idols, or any other physical object. To pray or bow to a Cross or Crucifix is worship, and that is not what a Christian is called to do. If you are doing these things, then you are worshipping a dead Jesus, whether you are Roman Catholic or Protestant. But merely having such an object simply for decoration to express your Christian viewpoint is not any act of worship at all. And, since it is not an act of worship, it shouldn’t be twisted to mean that you worship a dead Jesus just for the mere possession of such items. To put it another way, if you aren’t directing your worship to the Cross or Crucifix, then you aren’t worshipping a dead Jesus. Period.

Having such objects in your home shouldn’t be a bone of contention for others — having a simple reminder of what Jesus did for you is no different than having a photograph of a dead loved one in your home as a simple reminder of that person. Just as viewing the photograph of the loved one shouldn’t be misconstrued as worship of the dead person, likewise having a Cross or Crucifix shouldn’t be misconstrued as worship of a dead Jesus.

Let’s stop being judgmental of those who prefer a Crucifix over a Cross because the argument is really twisted.

Peace, and Amen.

Friday, At The Cross

May 27, 2012

Friday: At the Cross
Gloom, the grey dread dreary darkness
Settles starkly on God’s fair land.
Cold, the wind of death blows sadness
Through my heart, tis evil’s madness.
Dead, my Lord, evil’s plan.

His hands tacked tight, Oh mocking praise
His glazed eyes gaze to heaven’s void
While at his feel the jester’s raise
Their chilling cheers; their rage filled craze.
All goodness, there, destroyed.

Saturday: Alive in hell
“There is no help for you in God,”
Within the subtle voice speaks clear.
Awake, fatigued, in darkness shod
Through night’s drear path alone, He trod,
With no friend to be near.

This anguish deeper enters in,
Piercing past all sense and reason.
The screeching laughter mocks within,
“You have no friend; you’re wrapped in sin.
Hell is your new season.”

Christ my Lord, to this has fallen.
Here into this hell He’s chosen
To descend in isolation.
Here the damned in sleepless calling
Moan their godless mock and cursing,
Forever here now frozen?

Christ the Lord to hell descended
Lost the radiance; holy glory.
We the guilty, we offended,
We who are on sin dependant
We, in shame, now tarry.

Descended here in godless hell
Into our drear when joys are few,
The savior comes, Emmanuel.
With loving whispers, now he tells,
“In hell I stand with you.”

Easter
Warm this morning sun is rising
Breaks the grip of cold and darkness
More than metaphor this rising
Life from death is now surprising
Jesus our forgiveness

A different dread now fills my mind
As at death’s door I stand alone
For coming to the grave I find
The door of death is opened wide
Nothing is in rhyme

(Written by Rev. Dr. James W. Kerr)

Not Ready To Let Go

December 30, 2011

Today is December 30th.
I’m still hearing Christmas hymns on the radio.
AND I LIKE IT!

Christmas is simply hard to let go of.
I’m not talking about the frenzy of decorating – shopping – wrapping – cookie ing – shopping – visiting – shopping – parties – etc.

I’m talking about the PERFECT part of Christmas.
Remembering a big miracle in such a small child.
Remembering a humble couple grappling with the responsibility of raising the Son of God.
Remembering that we would all remain lost without this event.
Remembering the Perfect Love that decided this should be this way.

Of COURSE we don’t want to let it go! Of course the Christmas hymns linger for another week!  Why would we want to forget that God loves us puny humans THAT much! The greatness of the Love, the process to save everyone, the willingness of Jesus to humiliate Himself for us so readily, just to keep us from being swallowed by Satan’s evil…

For a month or two we have Christmas bombarding our heads each year. And for the week afterwards we wean ourselves off the intensity of the greatness and the wonder. Christmas reminds us of the beginning of our Salvation.

No other holiday in the United States evokes such a feeling of “let down” that needs such a weaning. Think about it:
The media  doesn’t continue to play patriotic songs  on the fifth of July.
Nor does the media care so much about leaving the Thanksgiving holiday behind.
Valentine’s day is forgotten by February 15th (except for the stores steeply discounting their leftover merchandise).
Even Easter is off by the wayside the day after….and how many Easter hymns are recognized by the general public anyway? (And yeah, Easter should be a bigger deal too, but that’s another post for another time)

But CHRISTMAS…That one is definitely a media feast — and I’m not talking about the commercial stuff. Christmas in the United States has the hymns all over the radio for the entire season and then some; even on the non-Christian radio stations. The television stations have Christmas movies all over the place; classics and newbies, all bespeaking the sense of love and miracles that is the common thread in Christmas, even through New Year’s Day. Newspapers feature Christmas stories related to charities, churches, Christ, and children.  Church members practice their lines for Christmas plays, and lawns display Nativity scenes to commemorate the momentous occasion.

And all of these decorations, displays, hymns, and stories don’t stop immediately the day after Christmas.
No.
Instead, they slowly wind down. In truth, we really don’t want to let it go so fast.

And that’s exactly how it should be.

Quotes of Remembrance

April 24, 2011

If Easter says anything to us today, it says this: You can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there. You can nail it to a cross, wrap it in winding sheets and shut it up in a tomb, but it will rise!
Clarence W. Hall

And he departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here.
St. Augustine
Confessions.

The joyful news that He is risen does not change the contemporary world. Still before us lie work, discipline, sacrifice. But the fact of Easter gives us the spiritual power to do the work, accept the discipline, and make the sacrifice.
Henry Knox Sherrill

Let the resurrection joy lift us from loneliness and weakness and despair to strength and beauty and happiness.
Floyd W. Tomkins

On Easter Day the veil between time and eternity thins to gossamer.
Douglas Horton

This is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life.
Bible, 1 John

“Christ the Lord is risen to-day,”
Sons of men and angels say.
Raise your joys and triumphs high;
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply.
Charles Wesley

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. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
Bible, Matthew
I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.
Bible, John

In the bonds of Death He lay
Who for our offence was slain;
But the Lord is risen to-day,
Christ hath brought us life again,
Wherefore let us all rejoice,
Singing loud, with cheerful voice,
Hallelujah!
Martin Luther
Angels, roll the rock away;
Death, yield up thy mighty prey:
See, He rises from the tomb,
Glowing with immortal bloom.
Thomas Scott
Easter Angels.


The Easter Season

April 10, 2011

First, my apologies for not blogging so much lately. As I’ve stated several entries ago, I am working on a new website and book, which is taking a lot of my time (because I still have to go to work, be a mom, be a wife, etc. etc.). These projects will be finished by the end of this month, and then I’ll be able to blog more often.

In the meantime, the Easter season is coming up very quickly, and I simply cannot ignore it.

What is Easter to you?
Personally, I prefer to call it “Resurrection Sunday” because, well, to be honest I’m put off by the title “Easter”. More on that in another post.

The word “Easter” evokes many mental images to people, and there are three ways that people view Easter:

ATHEISTS/NON CHRISTIANS: Eggs, bunnies, candy baskets, decorations, and bunny cartoons on the t.v.
BIBLE THUMPERS: (that’s me) Church services, crosses, Bible readings, and Jesus movie DVD’s on the t.v.
REGULAR JOES: Eggs, bunnies, candy, decorations, bunny cartoons, church services, Jesus movies, and Bible readings.

I want to make this abundantly clear:
Although I am an admitted Bible Thumper, I do not judge those who are less conservative in their views.

That being said, each and every one of us (you and me) still need to take time out to deeply consider what Easter is to each of us as individuals. It is so easy to get caught up in the daily grind, getting busy with errands, and work, and life and stuff that we only take a passing thought on the topic, not taking some time to really let it sink in: Jesus Christ, a sinless man, died in order to pay off our debt of sin.

Between now and Easter (which is April 24th this year), I ask each and every one of you to take out a mere 15 minutes each day to stop and consider the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice, and how blessed we are to receive such mangificent love. Consider the abuse and torment he endured. Consider his emotional state as he went through each stage of the process between his arrest and his death. Consider his feelings towards his friends, family, and the strangers around him.

Fifteen minutes each day is doable. Let’s not reduce Christ’s sacrifice to a mere passing thought.

Finding the Lost

October 21, 2010

Recently, we received an envelope in the mail addressed to us…sort of.

The home address was right, and my husband’s name was right, but instead of my name it was the name of some other woman.
Now, before you begin to think this is scandalous, let me explain: There is another couple living in our area in which the husband has the same name as mine, and our last names are the same. Because of this we sometimes get a phone call or an invitation in the mail that is actually meant for them instead. In the case of the phone calls we explain that we are the other Dickersons, and in the case of snail mail mix-ups we can usually track down the sender through the return address and set them straight as well.  Unfortunately, we don’t know their address and therefore we’re unable to forward their mail directly to them.

Anyway, this recent envelope is a little different. It looked official, and was addressed specifically to them by each of their names — unlike other mail for them we’ve gotten that was addressed to “The Dickersons”  or some other less specific thing. So we KNEW it wasn’t  for us, so we looked at the return address: No business name, only the street address. Since it was so official looking we decided we really needed to get this one set straight, so I Googled the address.

Sigh. It’s an office building with 20 different offices in it! Because the return address lacked a name it would be fruitless to “return to sender” because there’s no way to tell who sent it! That meant taking the time to call each and every number until we found the office that sent the letter. Sure, we could go the easy route and open the letter to look, but we don’t want to nose into somebody else’s business, nor do we want to get into trouble! But….we didn’t have the time to go calling all of those offices. And an official matter could be time sensitive. Eeesh!

I opened it, with much trepidation.

In respect for their privacy we won’t reveal the nature of the letter, but it was certainly something that was very important for them, and it was time sensitive. So I called the office at the top of the letter head and explained the situation. I helped the lady on the phone sort out which address and phone number was ours, which was theirs, and whatever else needed to be straightened out.  In the end it sounded like she now has the correct information and is able to contact the correct Dickerson family for their official business. She also told me to toss the letter we received, so we shredded it.

And God showed me a quiet lesson in this: The other Dickerson family was lost, and we helped them get found. Their being found helped avert a burdensome consequence if they had remained lost. My hubby and I feel “warm fuzzies” for finding them and helping them out, even though they are complete strangers to us.

Now, if we can get these “warm fuzzies” for one single act of saving a stranger from a destructive outcome, imagine the magnified feeling Jesus Christ had upon seeking out and saving EVERYONE from the curse of destructive sin! Sure, my husband and I can pat ourselves on the back for our singular good deed — but what we did is nothing compared to the magnitude of Christ’s salvation! After all, we didn’t really save anyone, we simply headed off a major inconvenience — certainly not in the same league as what Christ has done!

And one can’t even begin to imagine how awesome and extraordinary Jesus must have felt, knowing that millions and billions of people have been released from absolute destruction simply because he sought them out and saved them!  God also reminded me that only love would compel one to seek out billions of people to save — even if that meant being ridiculed, beaten, and murdered for it. And I realized that I can never compete with that level of love! I mean, yeah, I’d certainly die for my husband and kids,  and I’d likely risk my life to help a stranger in the face of death; but would I be as willing to die for millions of people who absolutely hated my guts?

It’s a very humbling thought, indeed.

So, yeah. We helped a stranger, and it was good. But what we did was merely a molecule in the ocean of love that is God.

Let’s not forget that ocean. Let’s remember to immerse ourselves in that ocean.
God’s love is not something to be ignored or forgotten.
Amen, and Hallelujah.

Water and Wine

October 12, 2010

It never ceases to amaze me how consistently the Old Testament points to Jesus Christ. This past Sunday in my adult Sunday school class I was made aware of yet another Old Testament “marker” that foreshadowed Jesus Christ:

In the Old Testament the first miracle that Moses performed was that of turning water into blood (Exodus 4:9). In the New Testament is Christ’s first miracle of turning water in to wine (John 2:7-9) —  keep in mind that wine is symbolic of Christ’s blood (Matthew 26:27-29).

This gave me something to seriously ponder later in the day:

1. Jesus is known as “The Living Water” (John 4:10-14). Also, it is His blood (“wine”) which saves us (Ephesians 1:7). Therefore He is both water and wine for us.

2. The Living Water and the (blood)wine tie in together when water and blood poured out of Jesus Christ when he was crucified (John 19:34).

As I pondered this, I remembered something else: In some faiths who claim Christianity they offer communion with only plain water, not actual wine or grape juice. It’s as though they are accepting Him as the Living Water, yet omitting His blood as the means of Salvation.

You cannot accept His Living Water while at the same time ignoring His cleansing blood, it is an incomplete belief!

In some other faiths who claim Christianity they omit communion from their worship altogether. However, scripture speaks of true Christians as taking communion (Matthew 26:26-28, 1 Corinthians 10:16), and that the taking of communion proclaims witness to the Lord’s death until He returns (1 Corinthians 11:26). Therefore, to eliminate communion means to stop proclaiming His death as a means of Salvation.

A Christian should proclaim His death if for no other reason than that it is the way of Salvation!

It’s a package deal; if you believe in the Salvation of Jesus Christ you must accept the water and the wine and actively pursue that belief by accepting them in your worship.  You can’t “a la carte” Salvation; there is no provision for such a thing in the scriptures. You either believe in the water and wine and proclaim it, or you don’t. There is no fence position; you are either FOR Christ or AGAINST Christ — because those who are not FOR Him are AGAINST Him, there is no middle ground (Luke 11;23). In other words, you cannot be both. Either be for Him fully, or not.

And…those who are against Christ will be put under His feet! (Luke 11:23, 20:43)

This give pause to seriously think:
Do you truly believe in Jesus Christ the Living Water, and Salvation through His Blood?
If so, do you participate in practicing communion?

If you truly believe in the Life Giving Water and the Blood of Salvation, why shouldn’t you participate in the proclamation through communion?!

Praise be to the God who gave us these provisions!
Praise be to the Son who agreed to die for us puny humans!

Please get off the fence if you are on it. Choose a side; if you don’t then it will be like choosing the wrong side anyway. You either choose Christ completely, or you don’t. And He sees it; there’s no fooling Him.

Amen, and God Bless.

Changing Seasons

September 26, 2010

It is late September here in New York State.
Acorns are dropping from the trees, leaves are just hinting at changing colours, and coolness is filling the air. Summer is bidding its last farewell as Autumn steadily creeps in.

The crisp change of seasons.

I am sad to see summer go. All the cook-outs and gatherings, all the lemonade and lake side breezes…sigh. But it’s time for the change; it’s how God ordained it.  No matter how hard I fight it, Summer is leaving and Autumn is returning.  God’s ordinance continues on, regardless of what I want. And it is good, in spite of the loss of the warmth and sun.

If the seasons didn’t change from summer into winter the whole world would unravel: Birds wouldn’t be cued to migrate, plants wouldn’t receive their necessary time of dormancy required for optimum health, and certain animals wouldn’t be cued as to when they need to hibernate for their own optimum health.  The changing seasons also cue various sea creatures to migrate to other waters, in effect giving seasonal fishing opportunities to provide employment and food in many places. Winter snow also creates glacial ice in the northern and southern regions, providing a source of freshwater and ground water,  enabling communities to thrive. I could go on and on, but the point is the advance winter is actually a necessary part of a global system that thrives. Winter has a lot of value, in spite of its cold, bleak, sad appearance.

And there is a lesson to find in this: God foreknew the need for a dormant, bleak,  time of year. He foreknew the effects of winter upon the earth and how it actually has huge benefits in spite of the discomforts it brings. And He doesn’t take away the discomfort primarily because of those very benefits that we experience.

In the changing “seasons” of our lives, we also experiences “summers” (weddings, births, graduations, achievements, etc.) as well as “winters” (accidents, failures, mistakes, etc.). Although our “winters” are very uncomfortable, God sees that they are still important for our mental, emotional, and spiritual growth. Our faith cannot be tried, our trust in Him cannot be strengthened, and our victories over evil cannot happen if we never experience the “winters”.

Thus, even in the most trying of circumstances, God doesn’t take away all the discomfort. We need our “winters” if we’re ever to be a strong soldier in His Kingdom. However, it is equally important to remember that, although He allows the “winter”, He does not abandon us. He is our warm, cozy cabin with a crackling fireplace in the midst of that terrible winter season.

When “winter” happens to you, walk up to His cabin and ask for His warmth. Although He may not take away your winter season, He will still be your quiet refuge from the biting winds and the nipping frost. Just as He won’t lock you outside in the frozen blizzard where you may be tempted to succumb to the cold, likewise He will not let you endure more than you can bear in your life’s winter seasons (1 Corinthians 10:13).

May His peace continue with you.

Could Jesus Have Changed His Mind?

August 3, 2010

Jesus Christ sat in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying for his life (Matthew 26:36-44 ).

He knew he came to earth to die for our sins. He knew his mission wouldn’t be accomplished until his murder was complete. And now, just a few hours before the horror of that murder was to be, Jesus prayed fervently that God the Father could get him out of it somehow without interrupting The Plan. Jesus wasn’t ignorant of human pain and suffering. He knew that murder would hurt; and he’d already experienced fear for his life on a few previous occasions (Luke 4:22-30, John 7:1, John 10:22-39). It is clear that Jesus knew that he didn’t want to experience the mental and physical pain of murder.

Could Jesus have changed his mind and said “Ah, forget about it…I WANNA LIVE! — I’m ditching the plan, Father! ”

Although he did manage to escape death by the hands of the people on those previous occasions, here at Gethsemane he realized that his mission was finally coming to a close, and that he could no longer avoid his own murder. This must have seemed especially distressing, considering that he hadn’t ever sinned and never deserved to die! For the past thirty-some years he’d lived in the thick of human sinfulness: He saw their pride, their greed, their hypocrisy, their deceptions. He saw their wicked choices up close and personal every single day. He saw their frustrating habit of repeatedly falling into the same foolish behaviours and the same foolish choices. He, by contrast, was sinless — so why did he have to be involved in all their mess??!!

Could Jesus have just said “I changed my mind, I’m not going through this mess — it’s not MY fault they’re sinners!” Could he have decided it wasn’t his problem after all, and walk away from his mission (and continued living)?

NO.

First of all, he made it clear that he was here to do the FATHER’S will and not his own (John 4:34, 5:36-37 ). His sole mission was to do as the Father ordered, and to teach what the Father ordained (John 12:49-50). Jesus Christ’s mission had everything to do with mankind and nothing to do with himself.

Second, Jesus also made it clear that when one agrees to something, the agreement must be kept. To purposely break the agreement would be siding with Satan (Matthew 5:37 ).  Satan already attempted to draw Jesus to his side at the beginning of Jesus’s ministry (Matthew 4:1-10). To give into Satanic thinking now would have undone all the precious work Jesus accomplished over the previous three years. Giving into satanic thinking would have converted Jesus Christ into a sinner. A sinner cannot save mankind. All souls would have been hopeless and lost. And, being a sinner, Jesus would have had to eventually die anyway (Romans 6:23). But that’s not all:

Third, if Jesus had changed his mind and abandoned the plan, that would be more than just the sin of breaking one’s agreement. Such an action would also show hatred for mankind, utter disrespect for the Father’s authority, selfishness, and lack of trust in the Father. It would be handing the world over to Satan since there would be no mediator between men and God.

Could Jesus, the chosen Saviour and Son of God, actually have changed his mind and walked away from The Plan?

Never.

Fourth, and most importantly, Jesus Christ was the very embodiment of the Father; the tangible evidence of the Creator’s love (John 3:16). Such love would never abandon God’s own precious creation, even if that creation is inherently sinful. True love does not look for it’s own selfish desire (1 Corinthians 13:5), therefore Jesus Christ would not give in to his own selfish longing. Too many lives were at stake, and Satan could not be given that kind of power.

No. Jesus could not have changed his mind. The Love of God that exists in him would never allow such a tragedy.


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