Tag Archives: Acts

Sharing Day by Day

With the approach of Lent, I’ve been pondering whether I would give something up this year or add a daily habit as I have done in the past. I thought about blogging every day for Lent, like I did in 2010, but I have a lot going on right now and have been enjoying the freedom of not feeling like I have to post something every day. Then I thought about taking an extended break from blogging, including not checking my blog stats or reading other blogs, so that I would have more time to focus on the new Bible Study Fellowship study I am starting tonight. I was leaning towards the latter option.

Then yesterday in church the sermon was based on Acts 17:16-34 (NIV) about Paul’s missionary efforts in Athens. Verse 17 says “So he [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.” I decided then that I would blog every day instead of giving up blogging for Lent.

But still I was concerned about how I was going to accomplish this. Then last night as I was trying to go to sleep a poem started forming in my mind, keeping me awake. I recently placed a small notebook and pen next to my bed to write down poems or other blog ideas so that they would not get lost like the poem that was the subject of a recent poem of mine titled A Poem Lost. So I flipped on the light, scribbled down the beginning and ending of this poem so that I could finish it later (I will be posting it tomorrow). I turned out the light and as I again tried to sleep it occurred to me that I could write a short poem every day for Lent. It will require the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this task, but with His help I can.

So beginning on Wednesday, which is Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent, I will be posting 40 new poems, one for each day of Lent (not counting Sundays). As Paul did, I will be sharing God’s love day by day as we approach Holy Week and the blessed death and resurrection of Jesus.

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Interesting Sayings

I’ve been thinking about interesting sayings the past week and how we pick them up. Several have come up in conversation with others recently.

One of my favorites my mom used to say. “If I had my druthers . . .” In other words, if I had what I would rather have. I just like that word “druthers” though. I don’t know where this came from, but I’m pretty sure my mom didn’t make it up. She picked it up probably from her mother or it was a popular saying when she was a kid. We don’t always get our druthers, but we think if we just had them (whatever they are) we’d be happy. Of course, that’s not necessarily the case, but we’d like to have our druthers just the same.

Another saying that I remember my mom using was, “It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.” Now, most ordinary things are, though we do sometimes find ourselves in circumstances where a poke in the eye with a sharp stick would seem preferable. I think the point of this saying is that when we complain about minor inconveniences – like having to stand in a long line at the grocery store or enduring the common cold – it’s good to remember that such problems could be worse. I remember one time several years ago I was talking to an Oregon lawyer who happened to have the last name as my mom’s maiden name (which is not a terribly common name). At some point in the conversation he mentioned that he was originally from Michigan, which is where my mom was born. Then as we talked about something many people had been complaining about he said, “Well, it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.” I couldn’t believe it – I just started laughing. I had never heard anyone but my mom use that saying. Must have been a Michigan saying.

Another saying is one that has always reminded me of my dad, and I heard it for the first time in a long time at the Third Day concert last week. At one point in the middle of the concert when the band was in the middle of the center aisle two rows behind me, Mac Powell asked a man if he could use his seat to stand one. The man stood up and Mac climbed up on the chair so everyone could see him. He started to talk, then out of the corner of his eye he noticed how tall the guy who had given up his seat was. Even standing on the chair Mac was barely a head taller than the guy (and Mac Powell is not what I would call short). He turned to the guy and said, “Well you’re a tall drink of water, aren’t you?” I’ve always loved that description of a tall person, as a “tall drink of water.” It conjures up images of someone very tall and slender, like my dad who was 6′ 5″ and 172 lbs. I don’t know the origin of this saying, but I’m pretty sure it’s a Southern thing.

There are other sayings that have their origin in scripture, though I think a lot of people have no idea that they are based in God’s Word. One such saying is, “He saw the handwriting on the wall.” This saying means that a person sees that the end or their demise is near and imminent. This saying has its origin in the story in Daniel 5. In this story God gives King Belshazzar a message written on a wall by a disembodied hand. The message, interpreted by Daniel, is that the king had been weighed in the balance by God and found wanting, and that his kingdom would fall. Soon everything told by the handwriting on the wall came to pass as King Belshazzar lost his throne. He didn’t want to believe it, but it was true. We can often be just as stubborn. We can see “the handwriting on the wall” but don’t want to believe that anything bad will happen. But sometimes it is important to heed the handwriting on the wall and change our ways.

Another saying from scripture is that “money is the root of all evil.” At least that is what most people think the saying is. But in fact, the Biblical verse is “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10 (NIV). It is not money itself that is the root of evil. Money is just a tool, a means of facilitating trade of good between people. It is the love of money as an end in itself and putting our desire for money ahead of all else – including brother and sister, friend and co-worker, and even God – that is the root of evil.

Finally, one of my favorite Biblical sayings is a reference to King David. We often hear someone say, “he’s a man after my own heart.” This refers to someone who is like-minded and passionate about the same things as the speaker. King David was a man after God’s own heart. He was passionate about the things of God and sought to know God better. In 1 Samuel 13:14, the prophet Samuel told King Saul that God had taken away his throne because of the evil he had done, and that “the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people.” Then in the book of Acts, the writer Luke says, “God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'” Acts 13:22 (NIV). I like this saying because it is a reminder that you don’t have to be perfect to be a believer after God’s own heart. David certainly was not perfect, but he had a burning desire to know God better. When he did stray, he repented of his sin and returned to the Lord.

So in conclusion, if I had my druthers, I’d make sure that I did not succumb to the temptation to let the love of money consume me, and I’d be a woman after God’s own heart. Long ago I saw the handwriting on the wall if I continued in my sinful ways. I know that not only is following God better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, it’s more refreshing than a tall drink of water.

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Whoosh – A Poem

At dVerse Poets Pub today, Sheila provided us with the interesting prompt of writing a poem involving onomatopoeia. As I read her post, the word-sound “whoosh” came to mind and I could see the roomful of disciples on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon them. I decided to try to write a poem based on this sound of God.

Whoosh

Whoosh
Did you hear that?
It sounds like the wind
blowing through the trees

The doors and windows
are all closed, locked up tight
Whoosh
It couldn’t be the wind
It couldn’t blow in

Now we see
Now we know
It is the Holy Spirit
that sounds so strong
Whoosh

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:1-4 (NIV).

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Discerning Lies in My Own Mind

We are daily bombarded with lies and it is important to be able to tell when something we hear on TV or from another individual is a lie. But sometimes the lies come in our own mind, as our own thoughts. Those lies are sometimes harder to discern.

Recently I had an experience in which a thought came into my head, and it kept repeating. I even felt a compulsion to share it with others throughout the day. It arose as the result of an incident in which someone I know was being mean to someone else I know and love. The thought I kept having was “mean people suck.” I believe there is even a bumper sticker that says this. And at first blush it sounds right. Nobody likes mean people, not even mean people.

Yet every time I thought it, and especially when I shared it out loud with my husband (after having been thwarted all day in my attempts to find someone else to tell), I had this feeling of unease, like something just wasn’t right. I’m pretty sure now that it was the Holy Spirit trying to tell me that this thought was a lie because it wasn’t the whole truth.

Then I went to the Casting Crowns concert (I told you this concert would come up again) and it all became clear. Mark Hall, the lead singer for Casting Crowns began talking about Paul and how he boasted in his weaknesses and how Christ had saved him from the sinner that he had been. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul wrote: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” 1 Timothy 1:15 (NIV). Before he knew Christ, Paul was what anyone would call a mean person. He stood by watching with approval as Stephen was stone. See Acts 7:54-60 (NIV). He set out to systematically persecute and kill all of the Christians, and even headed out on the long, hot road to Damascus for that murderous purpose. See Acts 9:1-19 (NIV).

But as mean as Paul was, God did not simply say he sucked and leave him in his sin. No, Jesus Christ came to Paul on that road to Damascus and changed his heart and mind. Paul then became zealous in his service to Christ, and a really nice and loving person.

As I listened to Mark at the concert, I realized that the problem with the thought that “mean people suck” is that it leaves out the love of God in their lives and fails to recognize and rely on the ability of God to save even the worst of mean people. I realized that instead of complaining about mean people, I need to pray for them, to pray that God would change their hearts. I also need to be an example, as Paul was after his conversion, of the change God can make in the hearts of the worst of sinners. I realized that before I knew Christ, there were times when I was mean (truth be told, sometimes I still am, though much less often), but God didn’t just say I sucked and leave me there.

On His way to the cross, Jesus definitely encountered some mean people. They beat Him, spit in His face, placed a crown of thorns on His head, and crucified Him, even though He had done no wrong to them. But His response was not to ask the Father to give them what they deserved. No, His response was to say “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34 (NIV). Often when people are mean we are sure it is intentional, and that they know exactly what they are doing. We think they deserve whatever punishment or bad things that happen to them because of their meanness. But Jesus said these people who had beat and crucified Him didn’t know what they were doing. Surely they knew they were beating and crucifying Him, so what was it they didn’t know? Why did He believe they should be forgiven?

Perhaps it was that they had been deceived in their own minds into thinking that they were doing what was right in the name of God. Perhaps they thought that their mean actions were justified, but they were unable to discern the lies in their own thinking. They were unable to discern lies in their own minds.

This experience has reminded me that I need to be careful about believing everything I think. I need to listen for that check in my spirit that something isn’t quite right and turn to God’s Word as a measuring rod for whether my own thoughts are the whole truth.

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Love, Humility, and Faith – My Tuesday Three

For My Tuesday Three, I decided to share three of my favorite people from the Bible and why I like them. You may be surprised to find that Jesus is not on this short list, but that is just because He is too obvious. All of the Bible is about Jesus; He is the Word.

My favorite person in the Bible is the apostle John. In his Gospel, John refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7; 21:20). This might seem kind of arrogant, but I don’t think it is arrogance that made John refer to himself this way. I think it was because John understood on a deep level how much Jesus loved him and how much Jesus loved everyone. He truly understood and accepted that love. This is what I love about John.

My second favorite person in the Bible is King David. In Acts, Luke referred to David as “a man after God’s own heart.” (Acts 13:22). It was David’s humility and contrite heart that earned him this description. He was not perfect – he had committed murder and adultery – but he repented of his sin and sought God’s mercy. David was the author of many of my favorite Psalms of praise and confession. He truly understood the proper attitude we should all have towards God. This is what I love about King David.

My third favorite person in the Bible has no name. She is the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ robe because she had faith that this simple touch would heal her from her infirmity. (Matthew 9:20). When she touched Jesus’ cloak she was healed and He knew immediately what had happened. Even though she had been bleeding for 12 years and otherwise had lost all hope, this desperate woman did not confront Jesus and demand that He heal her. She understood that He was the source of all power and healing, and that a mere touch would be enough. This is what I love about this nameless woman. One other thing I love about the story of this woman is that she is not named, and so her need can easily represent the need for spiritual healing that we all have.

These three people represent love, humility, and faith – three characteristics that are important for my Christian walk.

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Milestones, and Prayer for More Boldness for the Next 500

I started this blog over 21 months ago on September 25, 2009. Yesterday I posted my 500th blog post. In 2011 I’ve posted something every day, and some days I posted twice, even when I was on vacation or very busy. Including my reply comments, there are 2,800 comments posted on my blog. There have been over 26,000 page views since my blog was launched. In the beginning, I thought I was doing good with about 100 to 140 page views per month. In the past 4 months, I’ve had over 2,000 page views per month.

All of these achievements and milestones could cause a blogger to get a big head. But I know that the growth of my blog and my ability to post so faithfully is attributable to the Lord Jesus. The more I sought to glorify Him in each blog post and the more I sought His wisdom and direction in what to write, the easier it became to post daily and my readership grew.

In church yesterday we had a guest speaker who talked about being bold for Jesus Christ. That is what each and every Christian is called to do – to boldly proclaim the Good News of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection. He challenged our church corporately and each of us in the congregation individually to pray for boldness. He told a story about a writing professor he once had who had criticized the class because their writing was timid when it needed to be bold.

I realized it was not a coincidence that my Saturday post quoted the very verse our speaker quoted: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV). I also realized it was not a coincidence that he used a writing illustration in his sermon. His words echo in my mind: “Your writing is timid when it needs to be bold.”

Now, if you were to read much of my blog, I doubt that timid is the word that would come to mind. But I know that there is a measure of timidity in what I write. There is a measure of fear that stops me from boldly writing all that God has taught me and how He has brought those lessons home. I could be much bolder for Christ and share what He has done in my life with more detail, in ways that would speak to others who are lost and struggling as I once was.

My writing is sometimes timid when it needs to be bold, but I am praying that He will change that. I am praying for boldness like Peter and John had as illustrated in Acts 4 when they were threatened by the chief priests not to preach the Good News.

When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

“‘Why do the nations rage
   and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand
   and the rulers gather together
against the Lord
   and against his Anointed One.

“Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”

Acts 4:24-29 (NIV).

As I wrote this post, a perfect song came on my iPod to go with this post, so that it fits into my Music Monday theme: Consuming Fire by Third Day.

I love how this song is a prayer for the Holy Spirit to come and cause the fire of boldness to burn bright in the heart of the believer. This is my prayer – that the consuming fire of the Holy Spirit would burn away all fear and timidity, and cause boldness for Christ to reign in my life and my next 500 posts.

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I’ve Never Been to Kenya

There has been a lot of talk about missions at my church lately. The leadership teams have been talking about it. Our guest speaker last week shared about his 3-month mission trip to Indonesia. Our pastor’s wife and one of his twin boys (only 8-years old) went to Kenya on a mission trip in March of this year. Our high school and college age youth are going on a mission trip, of sorts, in June to do some service work up in Washington for a week.

I’ve never really been on a “mission trip.” It’s not that I don’t want to, God has just not presented me with the right opportunity yet. But I would love to go to Kenya or Haiti or South America on a mission trip some day. I have kind of felt like I’m missing something, like I’m not really “going and making disciples of all nations” as Jesus commanded in what is called the Great Commission. Matthew 28:19.

But then the other day I was looking at my blog stats on a free service I use called Get Clicky. I get a lot better stats on this service than the basic WordPress stats because it will tell me how many new visitors I’ve had, how many unique visitors (instead of just page views), and what pages each visitor viewed. It also tells me the first time each visitor visited my blog since I signed up for the service. But best of all, it tells me where in the world my visitors are located.

Guess what? I haven’t been to Kenya, but my blog has! Just the other day someone from Nairobi, Kenya read my poem Forgiven. I’ve also had visitors from Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa, India, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Bangladesh (I actually have a World Vision sponsored child there, too), the Czech Republic, Jamaica, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and many more! My blog has been read all over the world. Most of my visitors are in the United States, but many are in countries where the Christian faith is not the predominant religion and some are in countries where Christians are persecuted and their faith illegal.

So maybe, just maybe, as I go into all the world with the words that God gives me to write in this blog, I am making disciples in nations I have never physically set foot in, and probably never will. Perhaps I am providing encouragement to Christians who face struggles and persecution, helping to strengthen their faith and courage.

This revelation doesn’t mean I don’t still want to travel for a mission trip someday. But I in the meantime I am, through this blog, doing like Paul and Barnabas did for the early church.

After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. Acts 14:21-22 (NLT).

If you are a fellow blogger and are interested in how far your words of encouragement are reaching, I would highly recommend Get Clicky. It’s free and easy to use, and when you see where your visitors are coming from it will give you useful information that you can use to know where in the world there are people seeking God’s truth and in need of your prayers.

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Easter Is Over. Now What?

Lent is over. Good Friday is history. Easter has come and gone. Now what? If I was one of the original apostles meeting with Jesus after His resurrection, my next move would have been to wait.

Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:4-5 (NLT).

But I don’t have to wait for the Holy Spirit. He already dwells in me and has from the moment I believed that Jesus died for my sins and claimed Him as my Savior.

Pondering the journey of Lent, through the agony of seeing Jesus on the cross, and joy of His resurrection, I still have to ask myself, “Now what?” If faith in Christ doesn’t change anything about how I think and live, then what is the point?

And so the answer to the question “Now what?” must be that now I let Him change me to be more like Him. I allow Him to change me to be more loving, more patient, gentler, kinder, less selfish.

I have already allowed Him to change me a great deal, but there is more that He can do in my heart and in how I think. On Good Friday, I nailed my sins to the cross, and Jesus desires for me to leave them there. To His cross I nailed fear, lack of trust, selfishness, anger, and unforgiveness. He desires that I move forward in my life with courage, trust, selflessness, understanding, and forgiveness.

So for me the next step I think needs to be to say, in the words of MercyMe, “So Long Self.”

The first time I heard this song I didn’t completely get it. But the more I spend time in God’s Word and in prayer, the more I express to Him a desire for the cross to really make a difference in my life, the more I understand what this song is all about.

I can’t go through life putting myself first. To be more like Christ, I must put others before myself. Just as Jesus laid down His life for my benefit, I must lay down my life for the benefit of others. This doesn’t mean that I must physically die for others (though some people are certainly called to do so), but it does mean I must set aside the selfish desire to improve only my own life and think of helping others. Sometimes that might mean giving up what society tells me are my rights, and it will often require me to trust that the spiritual blessings God will grant me as a result of my selflessness will far outweigh any material blessings I could gain by putting my desires first.

It will also require me to listen closely to the Holy Spirit and follow His advice and promptings. To truly say “so long” to my selfish nature, I must rely on Christ living in me.

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. Galatians 2:20-21 (NLT).

Christ died for me and you so that we may live free of sin and the law. He died so that we might be free to live according to His Spirit living in us.

Lent is over. Good Friday is history. Easter has come and gone. Now what will you do?

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Peter’s Denials Weigh Heavy on Saturday

Before His arrest, trial, and crucifixion, Jesus predicted that Peter would deny that he even knew Jesus, not just once and not just twice, but three times, before the night was over. As all that Jesus said was true so was this prediction. Standing in the courtyard outside the house of Caiaphas the High Priest, when he was recognized and people suggested he had been with Jesus, Peter denied ever having known him. John 18.

I’ve been thinking about how Peter must have felt on Saturday. His Lord is dead. The man Peter believed was the Son of God was gone and he hadn’t stood up for his Lord, his Master, his friend when the time came. Peter remembered that Jesus had predicted what he would do, but that knowledge was not a comfort to Peter. I imagine Peter was feeling a lot of fear on this day after the crucifixion. And guilt. Tremendous guilt and sorrow. The scriptures say that the rooster crowed as Jesus had predicted.

At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly. Luke 22:61-62 (NLT).

I suspect that the desire to weep — both over the loss of Jesus and his own shame — continued throughout the following day. That kind of sorrow doesn’t go away easily. That kind of pain is hard to live with.

Third Day sings a great song about Peter’s denials from Peter’s perspective. It’s called “Can’t Stand the Pain.” I found this video of it with clips from the movie The Passion of the Christ. The scene where Jesus turns and looks at Peter is heartbreaking.

But Peter’s heartbreak of Saturday is not the end of the story. After the Resurrection, John records this conversation in John 21:15-17 (NLT):

 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
   “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
   “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
   “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
   “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
   Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
   Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”

There are a couple of things that I love about the story of Peter’s denials, and the Lord’s restoration of Peter after the Resurrection.

It proves that anyone can be restored by our Lord. It doesn’t matter what you have done before, even if you have abandoned Him and denied Him in the past, if you love Him as Peter did, Jesus will restore your relationship with Him.

It also shows how weak humans are without the Holy Spirit. When Peter denied Jesus, the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon him and his fear and sin overtook him, causing him to deny Jesus out of his own sense of self-preservation. If you compare this to how Peter boldly proclaims Jesus after he is filled with the Holy Spirit, the difference is astounding. See Acts 2. This shows me that without God we cannot be the bold and faithful followers He desires, but with His Spirit indwelling us we can do all things. “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NLT).

At our Good Friday service last night, our pastor said something that I had never thought of before. Peter wasn’t the only one who was probably feeling such guilt and sorrow on Saturday. All of the disciples had abandoned Him, and so they were all probably feeling fearful and lost. But there is another disciple whose actions were equivalent to Peter’s denials.

Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another of the disciples. That other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, so he was allowed to enter the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus. Peter had to stay outside the gate. Then the disciple who knew the high priest spoke to the woman watching at the gate, and she let Peter in. John 18:15-16 (NLT).

This other disciple (possibly John) followed along and watched as Jesus was unfairly tried by the High Priest and the Sanhedrin. This disciple “knew the high priest,” and yet he didn’t speak up for Jesus. Although he didn’t deny that he knew Jesus, he did not defend Jesus either. He watched silently as Jesus was found guilty, and then spit on, beaten, slapped, and mocked. See Matthew 26:57-68.

Saturday weighed heavy on all the disciples. As a follower of Christ it weighs heavy on me, too, knowing that my sin was upon Him on the cross. As Christians today, we are blessed by the knowledge that the crucifixion was not the end of the story, and so that weight is bearable. But as they sat together in the locked upper room on Saturday, the disciples didn’t have that luxury of knowing what would happen the next day. Even though Jesus had told them He would rise again, the brutality of His flogging and crucifixion surely caused them to doubt and fear. I know it would have had that effect on me if I had been there. So today, in rememberance of the disciples who once deserted Him, denied Him, and silently watched as He was tortured and killed, but who later brought His truth to the world, I will ponder their sorrow and shame, and leave the celebration until tomorrow.

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Focus on the Inside

This morning one of my fellow bloggers posted a comment with a question about this quote from Friedrich Nietzsche: “The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.” She asked, “Are the Christians the only ones who see the ‘ugly and bad’ side of the world?” I posted an answer to her question in a reply comment, but the more I thought about it I realized this was a question that was worthy of a regular blog post.

The question brought up memories of reading Nietzsche in college. I never like his writing. Something else he wrote is that God did not create man, man created God. He was definitely an atheist, and though I didn’t realize why at the time, his writing always made me feel uneasy. I couldn’t avoid reading it  because I was a political science major and it was required. But no one could make me like it.

I disagree with the quote my friend found. There is no Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad, but rather Christians are resolved to find God holy, good, and merciful. As Christians, we do recognize the sinful nature of mankind, but that is not what makes mankind sinful – or “ugly and bad.” Consider this, if I see the grass as green, that is not what makes it green, even if someone else does not see what color it is at all. There is evil and ugliness in the world. The fact that I and generations of Christians have seen it isn’t what brought it into existence.

I also don’t think Christians are the only ones who see the evil in the world. Even Nietzsche could see that there was something ugly and bad in the world. But Christians are often (though not always) the ones who can see the evil in our own hearts. Non-believers can easily point to others and see their evil and blame the ugly and bad in the world on them. This is essentially what Nietzsche has done in this quote. He saw external ugliness and blamed it on Christians, but never saw the evil in his own heart.

We have no control to change others and are often powerless to do anything about the evil and ugliness outside ourselves. But we can do something about the evil within; we can invite the Holy Spirit to help us overcome the ugly and bad in our own hearts. That is the Christian resolution – to rely on God to help us overcome our own evil.

“God knows people’s hearts.” Acts 15:8a. Only God knows how we have grappled with our own sinful desires and turned to Him for redemption. The prophet Samuel learned this when he thought one of Jesse’s older, taller, stronger sons would be anointed King of Israel.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7.

God had David, the youngest and smallest of Jesse’s sons in mind to be king. He saw David as a man after His own heart. Acts 13:22. Though David was not perfect, he consistently saw his own sinfulness and repented. He was able to look within his own heart and see the evil and ugliness therein; he grappled with his sinful desires and turned to God for redemption.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to grasp Nietzsche’s view and blame evil on everyone else. Rather, I want to be like David and confess the ugliness in my own heart, casting my lot on God for redemption and healing. If every person grasped the Christian resolution to not “worry about a speck in my friend’s eye when I have a log in my own” (Matthew 7:3) and sought the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit to overcome my own sinful nature, then imagine what a wonderful place the world would be.

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