Faith & Reason ... a mystery

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Jesus breathed His Last!

"When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." - John 19:30

"And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, "Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT." Having said this, He breathed His last." - Luke 23:46
For me these are some of hardest words to read, "Jesus breathed His last." Even with the knowledge that this event is only the end of the beginning, it is still hard to know that He had to go through all that because of me.

I was asked yesterday morning, "what is it that drove Paul and made him so passionate?" I believe Paul was keenly aware of his sin. He had murdered Christians. I am sure he had those memories and those burdens. Thus, he knew only by the grace of God could he even go forward and there was nothing that was going to stop him.

So, why don't I have the same drive, passion, and reckless abandon that Paul had? For me, it is that I often forget the weight of my sin. I forget that I am a sinner and without the grace of God there is no hope for me. I have not murdered or have any of the "major" sins. Over-all I have been a pretty good guy. Yet, I am sinner and have sinful desires.

I read these words above and then I realize, as did Paul, I have murdered someone...Jesus. He was on the cross willingly on my behalf. It was my sin He was carrying and then I learn, He chose to do it.

These words of Joseph Martin bring to reality the weight of my sin and powerful future I have as a Christ-follower:
Without His tears, there is no comfort.
Without His death, there is no life.
Without His blood, there is no pardon.
Without His cross, there is no crown.

Without His shame, there is no glory.
Without His grief, there is no joy.
Without His stripes, there is no healing.
Without His cross, there is no crown.

Lamb of God, You bring salvation,
And with Your grace our hearts are sealed.
Lord, with Your tears of love You bathe our sorrows.
In Your eyes we stand revealed.
Jesus breathed His last for me and for you. May I never take advantage of this truth, but savor its reality in all that I am. You know I love you - Don

Monday, March 29, 2010

Holy Week Events


"As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem." - John 9:51-53
Holy Week is the last week of lent and is celebrated by Catholics and Protestant Churches. This is the week when we follow Jesus from Palm Sunday, the Sunday of the Passion, to his death on Good Friday in preparation for his rising from the dead on Easter Sunday.

Palm Sunday is the first day of the week. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt, accompanied by his disciples. The crowds covered the streets with their cloaks and waved palm branches, shouting and singing, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." On Monday, Jesus chased the money-changers out of the temple. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Jesus preached and taught in Jerusalem.

On Thursday, Jesus teaches and sends his disciples to set up a time to celebrate passover with the 12 disciples. Upon arrival in the upper room, Jesus washes their feet and teaches them to serve is to be the greatest in His kingdom. After washing their feet, Jesus and His disciples celebrate the Feast of Passover. Jesus institutes the first Communion service with bread and wine. After the meal, Jesus and his disciples went to Gethsemane to pray, where he was arrested by the Temple guard and taken to an illegal night session of the Jewish court.

On Friday, Jesus was taken into Roman courts and transferred back Jewish courts and back to Roman courts. Eventually, Pontius Pilate ordered Jesus to be crucified on a cross on a hill named Golgotha...it looked like the shape of a skull. He hung on the cross for about six hours and died there.

On Saturday, Jesus rested in the tomb while his disciples observed the Sabbath.

Then on Sunday, Jesus defeats death and comes back to life. Two women went to tomb. In route, they meet an angel and the angel asked them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?" They find Jesus alive and for the next weeks Jesus is witnessed alive by over 500 witnesses.

Today, the kingdom of God has been fulfilled in your hearing. As he set his face toward Jerusalem, obeying the will of God, we turn and we follow. We turn our face toward Him and follow His direction....and the world is changed and we are changed forever.
(For more information click Holy Week)

Celebrating Easter with You - Don

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Funny - "Daddy, I don't feel so well"

This Funny hit pretty close to home for me....

A little girl was in church with her dad when she started feeling ill.

"Daddy," she said, "can we leave now?"

"No," her father replied.

"Well, I think I have to throw up!"

"Then go out the front door and around to the back of the church and throw up behind a bush."

After about 60 seconds the little girl returned to her seat.

"Did you throw up?" He asked.

"Yes."

"How could you have gone all the way to the back of the church and returned so quickly?"

"I didn't have to go out of the church, Daddy. I saw a box next to the front door that says, ‘For the Sick'."

Keep laughing and have a great weekend - Don

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Easter Joy" Poem

Easter Joy

Jesus came to earth,
To show us how to live,
How to put others first,
How to love and how to give.

Then He set about His work,
That God sent Him to do;
He took our punishment on Himself;
He made us clean and new.

He could have saved Himself,
Calling angels from above,
But He chose to pay our price for sin;
He paid it out of love.

Our Lord died on Good Friday,
But the cross did not destroy
His resurrection on Easter morn
That fills our hearts with joy.

Now we know our earthly death,
Like His, is just a rest.
We'll be forever with Him
In heaven, where life is best.

So we live our lives for Jesus,
Think of Him in all we do.
Thank you Savior; Thank you Lord.
Help us love like you!

By Joanna Fuchs

Looking forward to a great Easter - You know I love ya! - Don

Monday, March 22, 2010

"I am thirsty"

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." John 19:28
Dr. Harold Brack of Drew Seminary taught, "when we are called upon to search a biblical text for meaning, we should not overlook the obvious. He felt that seminary students too often felt a need to conjure up some complex philosophical interpretation for a passage of scripture when there is an obvious meaning right in front of them. I think this principle is most appropriate for this fifth word. You should have seen all the philosophical explanations offered for these simple words: "I am thirsty."

It's as if we forget what had happened to our Lord on this historic day called Good Friday. Jesus was beaten and whipped thirty-nine times by the Roman soldiers. He had to carry an immense wooden beam up a long, winding road to a hill outside the city of Jerusalem. They did not stop for coffee breaks. It was a tough, grueling experience. He had probably had no water since 6:00 in the morning. He was placed on the cross around 9:00, and it was now around 3:00 in the afternoon. No water, a grueling trek, a hot desert climate, and people wonder why he cried, "I am thirsty."

As I learned in First Aid Class when I was a Children's minister at Fountain Valley First Christian, there are four stages of thirst. The first stage is that of discomfort. Everyone has probably felt this stage on more than one occasion. Most people at this stage get to a water fountain, or grab a bottle of coke or some other beverage. The second stage is one that I remember during days of Band Camp -it''s often called "cottonmouth." You can almost feel your tongue getting stuck to the roof of your mouth. Jesus Christ had endured a great deal and now, he cried out, "I am thirst." The third stage is extreme skin cracking and atrophy of the tongue and skin. The fourth stage is total dehydration. Water is essential for life. Jesus was carrying the sin of the world and he was thirsty.

As we take the next two weeks to commemorate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, we must not overlook something else just as obvious: when Jesus cried, "I am thirsty" he revealed his human nature. John notes that Jesus said "I am thirsty," not only as a statement of physical reality, but also in order to fulfill the Scripture. Though there is no specific reference in the text of the Gospel, it's likely that Jesus was thinking of Psalm 69, which includes this passage:


Their insults have broken my heart,
and I am in despair.
If only one person would show some pity;
if only one would turn and comfort me.
But instead, they give me poison for food;
they offer me sour wine for my thirst.
(vv. 20-21)


As he suffered, Jesus embodied the pain of the people of Israel, that which had been captured in the Psalms. Jesus was suffering for the sin of Israel, even as he was taking upon himself the sin of the world. It was a terribly, sad event.

As I reflect on Jesus' statement, "I am thirsty," I keep thinking of my own thirst. It's nothing like that of Jesus. Rather, I am thirsty for him. My soul yearns for the living water that Jesus supplies (John 4:10; 7:38-39). I rejoice in the fact that he suffered physical thirst on the cross – and so much more – so that my thirst for the water of life might be quenched.

"Dear Lord, Thank you for loving me enough to give yourself on my behalf. Help me to share my thirsty with other and seize every opportunity to be salt in the lives of those around me so they will also thirst for you. Thank you for being my living water. To You be the glory of all things. Amen."

You know I love ya - Don

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Funny - Walmart Employee!

This is funny and maybe a little too true.
Charlie, a new retiree greeter at Walmart, just couldn't seem to get to work on time. Every day he was 5, 10, 15 minutes late. But he was a good worker, really tidy, clean-shaven, sharp-minded and a real credit to the company and obviously demonstrating their "Older Person Friendly" policies.

One day the boss called him into the office for a talk: "Charlie, I have to tell you, I like your work ethic. You do a bang-up job, but being late so often is quite bothersome."

"Yes, I know boss, and I am working on it."

"Well good, you are a team player. That's what I like to hear. It's odd though you're coming in late. I know you're retired from the armed forces. What did they say if you came in late there?"

"They said, 'Good morning, General, can I get you coffee, sir?'"

Have a great weekend and remember, "You never know who might greet you at Walmart!"
Don

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day


Happy St. Patrick's Day! I am not Irish, but I have always enjoyed this holiday! The following is some history:

St. Patrick was born in Wales, studied religion to become a priest and then went to Ireland to teach the people about God. There are many wonderful stories about St. Patrick, some true and some not true. The most famous legend is that he drove the snakes out of Ireland. This did not happen but the Irish will tell you that you cannot find a snake throughout the whole country of Ireland. The truth is he was a dedicated Christ-follower and preached Jesus and drove out the evil by his life, testimony and drive. Thus, he sort-of drove out the evil snakes.

For More information Click: History of St. Patty's Day

Have a great green day - Don

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"Two phrases in six words"

Lets go into Easter mode for a few weeks. There are three major cup phrases in the Passion weeks on our Savior. First the communion cup. Second, the cup in Jesus' prayer asking for it to pass from him. The third, isn't a cup, but it is a thirst quenching cup. Jesus is on the cross and He declares that he thirst. The soldiers raise the third cup (a sponge) that is filled with vinegar. I am starting with Jesus' request first - "Let this cup pass from me...."
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." - Matthew 26:39


Most people read verses like this and believe that Jesus was referring to the pain and suffering that he was going to soon experience. I don’t believe Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane sweating drops of blood because he was really worried about the upcoming terrible treatment that he was about to suffer. Jesus indeed knew that great pain and suffering was about to enter into his life, but even though this pain and suffering was going to be extremely difficult, this was not what Jesus prays for or what seems to concerning Him. The Son of God had known for all of eternity that these events would occur and that he would have to face them and indeed, he was ready to face them. In fact, Jesus realized that this was the very purpose for him coming here to earth. God the Father along with The Son had planned for all of eternity these events that were in the process of taking place.

Peter tells us in Acts 2:23 "Jesus Christ, being delivered by the predetermined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death." That is why he voluntarily took the human form of Jesus Christ so that he would be able to suffer and die as a mortal human being. Only through this incredible act of love could mankind have any chance of salvation and eternal life. The very last thing that Our Lord would want is not to be able to complete his mission for his Father.

So, if Jesus was not worried about any of the pain and suffering, what was He concerned with? Jesus’ heart was so heavy because He knew He was about to be separated from God the Father. And the reason that Jesus was going to be separated from his Father was because he was about to have every single sin that mankind had ever committed, or would ever commit, laid directly upon his soul. He knew that he was going to be carrying all the sins of the world, and he realized that these sins would be the very reason why he would be separated from his Heavenly Father. 2 Corinthians 5:12 "For He made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." He knew that his Father hates sin. God won't even be in the presence of sin, that sin is ungodly and wicked, and that sin is the actual rejection of God. And most importantly, he knew that sin separates the sinner from God. You cannot be in sin and at the same time be with God.
So Jesus knew that once all of mankind's sins began to be transferred over to him, then he would be separated from his Father. The sins of mankind that Jesus was going to carry was going to alienate and separate him from his Father, for the very first time and only time in all of eternity.

As the crucifixion of Jesus Christ started, the very first sins began to pile up on his soul. Jesus, for the first time in all of eternity felt the same separation from God the Father that any person feels who is living in sin and who is outside the grace of God. For the first time in all of eternity there was a complete separation, a complete alienation from his heavenly Father. The sins of all mankind that Jesus was carrying caused God the Father to separate himself from his Son.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Skipping out!

It is Friday! This funny is an oldie, but it still brings me a chuckle.

Francis Norton woke up Sunday morning and realizing it was an exceptionally beautiful and sunny early spring day, decided he just had to play golf. So... he told the Associate Pastor that he was feeling sick and convinced him to say Mass for him that day.

As soon as the Associate Pastor left the room, Father Norton headed out of town to a golf course about forty miles away. This way he knew he wouldn't accidentally meet anyone he knew from his parish.

Setting up on the first tee, he was alone. After all, it was Sunday morning and everyone else was in church! At about this time, Saint Peter leaned over to the Lord while looking down from the heavens and exclaimed, "You're not going to let him get away with this, are you?"

The Lord sighed, and said, "No, I guess not."

Just then Father Norton hit the ball and it shot straight towards the pin, dropping just short of it, rolled up and fell into the hole. It WAS A 420 YARD HOLE IN ONE!

St. Peter was astonished. He looked at the Lord and asked, "Why did you let him do that?"

The Lord smiled and replied, "Who's he going to tell?"


Don't skip out...who ya going to tell? Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Providence

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” - from Psalm 31
The word “providence” comes from the same root as our word “provide.” The Christian view of reality asserts there is a power greater than our powers and that power is baptized in love. God’s providence is flavored by God’s grace. So, the Psalmist could be confident: “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” And the apostle Paul could testify of his contentment no matter what his circumstances were. In the midst of plenty or want, whether hungry or well-fed, he affirmed, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength,” and he could assure the Philippians, “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (4:19).

So, whatever we face today...we can be confident that as we take refuge in Him, He will provide for us.

"Lord, thank you for providing for me and for bringing me to the reality that you are God. Thanking you for being God. Thank you for not asking me to do the job. Please forgive me for the times I take over and forget to trust in you. Amen."

You know I love ya, Don

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Lord is A Shepherd

Leonard Sweet wrote the following. It speaks to me today.

The Lord is a Shepherd - watching, tending, worrying, caring for each and every sheep in the flock. And for good reason. Sheep are notoriously stupid, defenseless and foolish creatures. It is only through the vigilance of the shepherd that safety is assured. When the psalmist declares God the Shepherd, the psalmist declares reliance on God, in total confidence and trust, for preserving his well-being.

The psalmist carries this image forward in order to emphasize that this Shepherd-God is interested in far more than just keeping the herd alive. This is a God committed to fattening the flock on the overflowing abundance of divine love and protection. The "green meadows" may also be rendered as "luxuriant pastures." In addition to this extravagant lushness is the most precious of all desert gifts - deep, still, pure water. As a desert-dweller, the psalmist knows well it is water that restores life, restores the soul to all living creatures.

There is much debate about the historical context of Psalm 23. But one camp is emphatic that the shepherding image of God comes out of the Exodus tradition. Here more than at any other time, the Hebrews could envision themselves as a wandering flock, totally reliant upon their "good shepherd" for guidance. Through their many mistakes and missteps, the wandering Hebrews learned all too well what happened when they tried to continue on independent of God's guidance. Disaster always struck. Looking back at this history, it is easy for the Psalmist to declare that it is God the Shepherd who leads all members of this headstrong, cantankerous flock into the "right paths."

Over the centuries verse 4 is undoubtedly the line which has evoked the most comfort for the most people. Here the psalmist declares that no matter what the danger, even in death itself, the shepherding God remains at our side. This personalized vision of the universal reality of death has suggested to some scholars that here the psalmist is alluding to his own tenuous grip on life in the midst of a serious illness. The knowledge that we are never alone, never deserted, even in the "depths" of this valley, instills a peace of mind and heart that is unexpected on such a dark and frightening journey. Notice: The enemies of life are not blotted out; the "valley of the shadow of death" remains a destination for all of us. But it is not our final destiny.

Thus the "Lord's house" (v.6) does not need to be thought of as the temple. Instead it represents the epitome of the guest-host experience. Dwelling in the house of the Lord forever expresses the psalmist's conviction that the peace and abundant security experienced and expressed during days fraught with enemies and dangers will continue throughout all the days of his existence.


The Lord is our Shepherd...He leads us. You know I love ya - Don

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Funny - Daddy and Little Girl

I found this story/joke and got a chuckle. You can imagine Alice and I in the scene....
A family took a trip with their three-year-old daughter to the home-improvement store. (You know, "the Orange Place" as Alice would call it.) The little girl got tired of walking, so her dad let her ride on his shoulders.

As he walked, she began pulling his hair. Although he asked her to stop several times, she kept on. Getting annoyed, he scolded, ''Stop pulling my hair!''

''But, Daddy,'' she replied, ''I'm just trying to get my gum back.''
Well, imagine that....you know I love and enjoy the thaw! - Don

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I think God has me as a Bonsai Tree

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God. Isaiah 35:1-2
Have you ever heard the saying, "Bloom in the garden God planted you in, even if it is a patch of weeds"? It is not easy to bloom in this world. The world is filled pride, ambition, and competition. I think of the Bonsai Tree.

Bonsai is the ancient Oriental art of growing miniature trees. After choosing a promising looking young plant, the tree is watered and nourished to get it used to its new surroundings. After a while, it is transplanted to a new container. Normally during this transplant process, the roots are trimmed and thinned out. Once the tree is in its new container, the grower begins to shape it by trimming some branches and using wire to encourage the limbs to grow in a certain way. Since the tree is not growing according to its natural instincts, the grower has to pay a lot of attention to it. The grower has to ensure that it is getting the right amount of water and light. He has to watch for stresses in the limbs. There is also some extra pruning and “touch-up” work that has to be done. Particular attention is given to make sure that bugs do not infect the tree.

Bonsai trees do not form overnight. They take many years to grow into something that you can be proud of. In many oriental families the Bonsai Tree is passed from generation to generation and is placed on a pedestal in the front room so that all can see it.

Most of us want to be the mighty Oak Tree in the middle of the County Court House Lawn. Proud and mighty and the spectacle for all to see. The pride of the community. Yet, God calls us to be Bonsai Trees. He prunes and binds the growth with skill so that we will be a thing of tremendous beauty. The pruning and dedication are hard...in the end we are a beautiful creation of the perfect creator.

You know I love ya - Don

Monday, March 1, 2010

COURAGE!

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 1 Timothy 1:7
Be Strong!

Be Courageous!

Be Bold!

Be Loud!

BE THE BELIEVER THAT GOD INTENDED FOR YOU TO BE!

Submit to one another in love...you know I love ya - Don