Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Passion Week: Wednesday

No one is really sure what occupied Jesus’ time on Wednesday of Passion Week. We know that Judas, on this day, probably made his arrangements to betray the Master. The actions of Jesus, however, are a mystery. We simply do not know. This has led some in church history to dub this day of Holy Week as “Silent Wednesday”. 
So, what did He do? Did He spend the day in fasting and prayer? It is possible. Was he giving the disciples some “advanced” lessons that He did not give the crowd the day before? That is very likely. After the previous day's  teaching did He need to spend this day in rest (He had practically taught all day)? Again, we simply do not know. So I guess there is no meditation for this day of Holy Week…. WRONG! There is much to think on for this day.
So as I am preparing our Student Room for Worship I want a few truths to simmer in my mind. For starters:

Our God is gloriously mysterious!  

One of my favorite verses in the Old Testament is Deuteronomy 29:29
The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law”
Are you not overjoyed to know that there are some things that are simply beyond our finite minds to grasp or know? I am! God has not told us everything. He has not revealed to us all there is of Himself! He could not do that in this life, for He is of infinite value and the beauty of His excellencies will take all eternity to spread out for the redeemed to marvel at. This is why heaven will be no bore!
Think about the greatest discovery you have ever made. Perhaps it was a wooded trail that led you to a beautiful mountain top view. Or maybe it was the time you finally cracked the code in the mathematical equation you had been working on all semester. Or perhaps it was the time when you seemed to get just how the opposite sex thinks (I said ‘seemed’ J ). Or even finding a new truth in a passage you had memorized since 5th grade VBS.  Do you have your moment? Whatever you felt in that moment, multiply it to the nth degree and then perhaps you will begin to taste a little of what heaven may be like. Our God will unpack His beautifully mysterious self for all eternity and every moment will be a “Wow” moment!
There is, however, another truth to ruminate on, namely:

Silence is an appropriate response when we think about the Lord’s judgment.

In Revelation 8:1 as the Lamb opens the 7th and final seal, an opening that is the un-corking of the bottle of God’s wrath, John tells us that there was silence in heaven for about an half of an hour. Zephaniah 1:7-10 and Zech. 2:13 point to the same reality as well. The silence called for in these verses is the silence of fearful awe as the Lord rouses Himself and prepared for judgment.
Is there any time more appropriate than Holy Week to sit in silence at the awesome act of God, the cross, where both His judgment and His mercy kissed? There are some things that are so weighty that it seems like speech would defile the event. Think about how much you would like to take a slug at the guy on his cell phone during the national anthem at the ball park!
On Wednesday, this day, today, lets take some time to take some time and be silent. Think on the Cross and ….. be silent. I think it no accident that we do not have recorded what happened on this day. I think the Father designed it this way for specific purposes. I think He would have us meditate on just how awesome what we are about to see on Friday really is. Sure, we will think about the Cross on Friday, but it is so grandiose that we need to get ready for it.
Some of the Psalms (and a few other places in the Old Testament) use a little word, Selah. No one really knows exactly what the word means, but the best conjectures is that this word was a musical notation that probably was meant for the singer to pause and meditate on what was just sung or what was about to be sung. In the song of Passion Week God has written His own Selah,  and we call it Wednesday.
Be silent. Selah

Passion Week: Tuesday

Tuesday (Mark 11:27-13:37)
This day finds Jesus busy in the Temple and surrounding areas teaching.  Reading this section of even Mark’s gospel (the shortest account) leaves the reader with the impression that what we have recorded is surely the cliff notes, and Jesus must have literally taught all day. Among the many themes that Jesus expounds on are:

·      (11:27-33) The authority of Jesus is the authority of God. This is what Jesus is trying to get his opponents to publically admit as they try to trap Him. Brilliantly Jesus, in true wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove fashion, turns the tables on his enemies and is honored by the crowd

·      (12:1-12) God will judge those who reject His kindness. This is what the parable of the tenants teaches. The vine owner is God and the tenants are the religious leaders of Israel. They have spurned God’s kindness and God will eventually spurn them.

·      (12:13-17) We owe our governmental leaders obedience and respect; we owe God EVERYTHING!  We see this as Jesus is again being placed in a verbal trap. He is asked, “Is it right to pax taxes to a pagan, vile ruler?” Jesus answer is classic and probably hardly needed of repeated for all who would read this. He asks for a coin and asks whose image is on it. The response is Caesar. Then He says, “render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God, the things that are God’s.” Well Caesar has his image on the coin, so give it to him. Where then is God’s image? On our very beings….. so let us give our beings to Him!

·      (12: 18-27) The eternal state will prove to be the substance of what all our lives in this world was just the echo of. This is clear as Jesus refutes the ignorance of the Sadducees who doubted life after the grave. All things in this life are just pointers to a greater reality found in fellowship with the Triune God (even marriage). That was something for the Sadducees that had not even come on their radar (Maybe that is why the were so Sad – u – see…. Sorry, I could not resist)

·      (12: 28-34) Loving God and loving people is really all we need to worry about!

·      (12: 35-37) Though Jesus is a descendant of David, He is greater than David.

·      (12: 38-44) How much we give is really not that significant, but how much we SACRIFICE is!

·      (13:1-37) Jesus is coming back!

So, as I am eating breakfast this morning I want all of this truth to permeate my mind. Above all of that I want to focus today on the truth that:

Jesus is My Great Teacher! He is my Rabbi and I am His life long pupil!

[Okay, it's Katie here.  I had to add a little to David's post reminding you to scroll down to "Jesus' Final Week" posted Monday in case you missed David's writing for Sunday and Monday.  Don't want you to miss anything he has been writing.  Alright, David.  Thanks again.  Back to you!]

Monday, March 29, 2010

For More Daily Bread

See also the "VERSE OF THE DAY" in the side bar for great encouragement. 
I just read it, and it made my soul sing!

"Ah, Lord God! It is You who have made the heavens and the earth 
by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! 
Nothing is too hard for You."
Jeremiah 32:17

A great one to meditate on this week too. . . and memorize, how 'bout it!   

Scripture Memory Monday

As we reflect this week on the life of Christ leading up to His agonizing death and victorious resurrection, I pray that our hearts will begin to truly grasp what these events mean for mankind.  Oh, what Christ accomplished on the cross!!  He defeated death, bridged the gap between God and man, made atonement for our sins - those past, present, and future.  Hallelujah!!  

The verse that I wanted to meditate on this week contains one of my favorite words . . .  propitiation: "the satisfaction or appeasement of God's wrath." (See ESV Online Study Bible footnotes for Romans 3:25.)  For the longest time, I would read this word, look it up, but then forget what it meant the next time I came across it.  It wasn't until my dear husband - whose writing I hope you take time to read this week - explained it in a word picture, that the meaning stuck!  (I am a very visual learner and appreciate as many "pictures" as you can give me!)  I don't remember the exact words he used, but I will never forget the picture he painted for me.  

Imagine a huge empty goblet.  God, holy and just, pours out his wrath - flowing from an enormous pitcher (for sake of the "word picture") - upon sin.  Instead of God pouring this wrath upon our heads, allowing us to drown in the eternal judgement we deserve, He pours it in into the goblet.  Christ, in all of His perfection and glory, stands up on our behalf, lifts the goblet, and raises it to his sinless lips.  Then He drinks.  For our sakes, Christ "drank" every drop of God's wrath, saving us from having to be soaked to death.  He satisfied God's wrath once and for all.  Thank you, Christ Jesus, for being our propitiation . . . the bearer of our sins!  

"He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."
1 John 2:2 (ESV)  

Click HERE too see study notes on this verse.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Jesus' Final Week

I have asked my wonderful husband to be a "guest author" :) each day this week - a week that we reflect on the final days in the life of Christ before His glorious, death-defeating resurrection.  I am excited to personally read what David has written, and I'm thrilled for you to do the same.  Thank you, David, for taking time to share with us regarding these days in the life of our Lord.  I love you, your love for Christ, and your desire to make His glory known to all.  So, those of you reading . . .  keep reading, and be blessed!   

This week Christians from all over the world will be celebrating “Holy Week”, the final week of Jesus’ life on earth. Some will be culminating the final days of a 40 day “Lent” period which usually is characterized by some sort of fasting and intensified prayer and meditation. Many Protestants do not practice Lent and might even be scared of the practice as it seems to be “too Catholic” for them to observe. This fear, however, is unwarranted, and this is one area where I think we can learn much from our “Roman friends”. 

Just as it is good to set aside one day in seven every week to focus more intentionally on our vertical relationship with God, it is also good to set aside larger seasons of time for the same purpose. So long as the practice does not denigrate into mere ritual I believe it can be very profitable indeed. What can be bad about intensified prayer and meditation!

Well, whether or not we have observed the 40 day season of Lent this year it will still be profitable for us to take some extra time this week to meditate on the Lord and His work on our behalf. I have found over the last few years that a fruitful way for me to engage in this meditation is by focusing on each of the last days of our Savior’s time here on earth on the day in which those things transpired. I usually try to focus on one aspect of the day and draw one application to my life. Below is an attempt to illustrate what I mean and provide, I hope, fuel for your meditative fires as well. I am so honored that my bride has let me share her blog this week to do this. Please excuse her if the writing this week is not up to par :)

Sunday  (Mark 11:1-26; John 12:17-50)

We commonly refer to this day as “Triumphal Sunday” or “Palm Sunday”, the day in which Jesus comes riding into Jerusalem on a colt. Both names point to the fact that this is KING Jesus who enters Jerusalem for the feast. Some have observed, however, that this day might better be referred to as the “a – triumphal entry” since a peasant riding on a donkey followed by a ragamuffin group of “uncouth” people stands in stark contrast to the normal way a conquering general would enter a town, i.e. decked in full armor, riding a white horse, and followed by a retinue of soldiers.

Jesus is, however, making some strong Messianic claims by His actions. Riding the donkey enacts the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, and He receives the acclaim from the crowd that is treating Him as their true King (notice the palm branches and shouts of “Hosanna”). This is a triumphal entry, but it is a lowly triumph, and hence we come to the point of application for today. It is one of the grandest paradoxes of the faith:

There can be no crown without the cross!

Jesus knows that the white horse and warrior robes and faithful army is coming, but they have to be bought first. The next time He comes there will be no confusion as to whether or not it is “Triumphal”.  It will be plain to all. Every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him and all tribes will mourn for Him, even so Amen. Every knee will bow and tongue confess that He is Triumphal! He came the first time to deal with sin. The next time He comes it will be for the final salvation of those who are eagerly waiting for Him (Heb. 9:27-28).

But He had to suffer first. He had to ride the donkey. He had to live this week’s Friday. This is what I want going through my head as I go to sleep tonight. Jesus is coming to rule! I too will rule with Him, but for now I am called to share in His sufferings and “in my flesh fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ” (Col. 1:24) What is lacking in the afflictions of Christ? NOTHING, except the actual knowledge of those afflictions by the people whom God has given me influence with. They will know those afflictions when I embody them before their eyes. We must tell them the gospel by re-enacting the gospel before them! I hope this causes me to ask myself this week, “Whose affliction am I bearing so that they might know HIM?”

Monday ( Mark 11:12-19)

There are two main actions of Jesus that occurred on this day of Holy Week, the cursing of the Fig Tree and The Cleansing of the Temple. We know these two events are related by the way Mark puts them together and should, therefore be interpreted and applied together. Putting them together this way also signifies to us that Jesus’ activity in the Temple was not a mere cleansing or an attempt to reform, but an act of judgment.

The Fig tree serves as a vivid parable to the condition of Israel’s heart towards God, evidenced by the Temple activity.  Here we have a hungry Jesus coming to a Fig tree in search of some fruit. He hopes to find some, and indeed is led to believe that His quest might prove successful by the fruit promising leaves on the end of the branches. When He gets closer, however, He finds the tree barren and delivers a curse upon it for its hypocrisy.

The Fig tree (often used to depict Israel) represents the nation of Israel as a whole. What Jesus finds at the tree is the same He finds with His people at the Temple. “He came to the Temple and instead of finding fruit and faithful worship, He found nothing but empty form, mere leaves of thievery; thus He judged official Israel and the temple.” (Robert Stein)

So what is the thought that will be running through my head today as I take my son to preschool:

Jesus is concerned about pure worship and will judge those who do not worship thusly!

Today praise the One for turning over the tables of pride in your own heart. Give glory to God for running the lustful and vain ambitions out of the temple of your body and ask for His to be the overwhelming abiding presence in your heart this week. Ask Him to root out any vestures of hypocritical worship in your life and seek to bear fruit in such a way that would bring Him fame!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday's Photo

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday's Thanksgivings

Though there is much to be thankful for this Thursday, I am not going to write much at the moment. Both of my children are in bed before 10:00, which is a huge cause for thanksgiving!  And I would like to be in bed at a decent hour myself.

Our family has been dealing with sickness for a while, and although none of us are 100%, I think we are on the mend.  I am very thankful for this.  I think that feeling so terrible is something that needs to happen every once in a while (Okay, I've been trying HARD to find a bright side to this situation!), for it makes me ever more grateful for feeling good the majority of the time . . . which I too often take for granted.  Now on the other hand, I wouldn't mind going the rest of my life without one of my children being sick; that's a different thing entirely.  It is miserable to see them ache so, especially when they can't take anything for relief and they have to just tough it out.  But, in moments like these, I can be thankful that they are healthy individuals themselves. 

So today I want to specifically thank the Lord for the kindness of allowing us to feel better, for the blessing of family near to help take care of the children, and for the fact that John David and Claire's bouts haven't gotten as bad (at least at present) as they could have. . . you know, no ear infections, etc.  I am also thankful for clean sheets, new pacifiers, and sanitized toothbrushes.  Oh, and Nyquil.  We have found this to work the best for those of us in our family that actually can take medicine.  But I think you have to be at least 21 . . . it may contain alcohol.  

Thank You, Lord, for your common grace of good health.  And thank you for Your grace that sees us through the days when we physically (and emotionally, spiritually, mentally) feel like we've been run over by a truck.  Your grace is indeed sufficient to meet all of our needs, no matter how needy we are!   Thank You.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Half Way There Already?!

Because I am using this blog as a means to document the happenings of our family, I am also using it as somewhat of a digital photo album; hence the overwhelming amount of pictures.  Don't feel like you have to read and look, but much of what I post is for personal (and grandparental:) documentation.  But, feel free to take a peek if you desire . . . sorry that it is often more than "a glimpse of our vapor" life!

Well, like I mentioned in the previous post, our little girl is 6 months old today.  This is so hard to believe!  She is already halfway to being a year old . . . where do the days go?  

Claire is such a sweet little lady.  She loves her big brother and her daddy, but she is turning into a mommy's girl. (I don't mind that one bit!)  Claire loves for me to let her drink from my cup and to help me open and close the blinds.  She loves to play with things that crinkle - like bags, paper, packages - and she gets so excited when we open the door to go outside.  Claire enjoys splashing and playing in the water, trying to touch her lamp, and reaching for the candles (unlit, of course).  She loves to jump in her jumperoo (as you will see below) and she is fascinated by her big brother.  Claire, oddly, is also amused by watching me wiggle my toes.  She is easily distracted while she is eating - though she would eat anything and everything, if I would let her - and wants to observe everything around her.  Though she loves books and has her favorites, she would rather eat them than read them.  Claire likes music and (a select few) of her baby dvds.  She is strong and sweet, opinionated yet flexible.  She has started sitting unsupported for short amounts of time and would love to be on the move all day long.  Sadly, she has been so sick lately which has caused her to not be her happy, smiley self; yet, I am trying to be patient and praying that she will be feeling back to normal again soon.  I love my little Claire.  What a blessing she has been to us these past 6 months.  I look forward - with much prayer and trusting the Lord - to life with her and all that the He has in store.  Whatever it is, it will be an adventure.  By God's grace, I'm ready!

Here is a look at some of my favorite pictures over the past month.  Okay, I have a lot of favorites . . .  

A Special Day

Today is a special day in our family.  We celebrate our little Claire having been a part of our lives for 6 whole months now.  Wow ~ time flies!  Not only are we celebrating the half birthday of baby Claire, but we are also celebrating the 83rd birthday of my grandfather, Jim Winter.  Daddy Jim is my mom's father and is a very special man, indeed.  He is full of wisdom and experience and has actually written a book about his life that I hope will be published before too long; what a treasure to posses!  

I could go on and on about Daddy Jim, my love for him, and what he has taught our family.  As I was thinking about his birthday and the fact that he has so much wisdom to offer, I thought I'd let him share a little bit from his heart here.  I wish that I could post his entire book; however, when it is published, I will let you know where to buy it!  I asked him a few questions the other day in an email, and his responses are below.  I hope that one day everyone reading this would have a chance to meet this man that we so love and respect.  

Daddy Jim standing on his dock at Lake Santa Fe.

1. Though the changes have been numerous, what has been the biggest change in our country in your lifetime?
I'm 83 years old today and I have lived through perhaps the most exciting and interesting period in the history of our country. The end of the Great Depression and winning World War 11 were great events in my younger years. Sending astronauts to the moon and winning the cold war during my working years were very significant events. Being a part of "The greatest generation" has really been a privilege.

2. Is there one birthday year that sticks out in your mind above the rest?

My most memorable birthday was my 80th, when most of my family assembled together here at the lake and celebrated with me and Uncle LLoyd [my grandmother's older brother] who also turned 80.

3. What do you feel have been some of your greatest accomplishments in your life thus far?
I think the greatest accomplishment in my life are the three wonderful children and ten fine grandchildren that God gave to Grammy [my grandmother] and me and now six precious great grand children.
From a work point of view, having the privilege of managing the design of many projects that aided in sending a man to the moon and winning the Cold War were very satisfying and exciting to me as a civilian employee of the Army Corps of Engineers.  My military active duty service was two years as a naval officer during the Korean War and one year during the Berlin Crisis, retiring as a Commander,USNR.

4. What would you tell someone seeking advice regarding having a "happy life"?

My advice to someone seeking a happy life is to first surrender your life to the Lord and seek His guidance in all that you do, say and think. If you do this and act on His advice, you will walk in lockstep with God and it will be a joyful and fulilling life.
Be careful in your selection of your mate to assure that you're equally yoked in Christ. Once you are married, remember that your mate should be number one in your priorities and not yourself, followed by your children. One other thought that I' m still striving to attain, is to learn to listen and listen well before you voice your opinion.

5. What are some things that you enjoy doing now.

Roberta and I stay quite busy with our church activities.  I'm still teaching a senior men's Sunday School class and our monthly activities with the Silver Saints trips and luncheon meetings are very interesting. Roberta is a constant help to our ailing seniors and is currently working hard on our 20th Easter Pageant with about 200 costumes to get ready.
When I retired about 26 years ago, we spent quite  a bit of time traveling to Europe,Great Britain, Canada, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Alaska, and the northwest USA.  My advice is to do your retirement traveling shortly after retiring, while you're still healthy and vigorous.

Thanks for your interest in my life. God has indeed been good to us in every way and it has been a great life. You ,your parents, spouses, and cousins have indeed been a great blessing to us over the years. Keep up the great work for our LORD AND YOUR FAMILY.      
Love, Daddy Jim

You are loved, Daddy Jim, and we praise the Lord for your life and ministry - not only to our family, but to all who know you.  Happy Birthday!  I hope this year is one of the best ever.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Scripture Memory Monday

My mouth has been filled with a lot of things the past week, namely cough drops, cold medicine, and hot tea.  However, everyday our mouths are filled with many things: food and drink, laughter, words of love, statements of frustration . . . at times we may find our selves simply clinching our mouths because words would just not be appropriate at the moment.  But the verse I chose to meditate on this week hits the nail of the head regarding what should be coming in and out of my mouth as a child of God.  Psalm 71:8 is my prayer.  Oh, may it be so!

"Let my mouth be filled with Your praise
and with Your glory all the day."
Psalm 71:8 (NKJV)  

ESV here.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Sunshine

. . . . a mother's sunshine.

    singing his "John David song" here; my new favorite, no doubt.

**A special thanks to my cousin, Bethany, for letting me know how to make my photos larger.  She's a precious, very talented lady.  You should check out her blog and get to know her (and her beautiful family!)