in a dark, dank tomb
wrapped in linens and spice
But not for long
because His love is strong
in a dark, dank tomb
wrapped in linens and spice
But not for long
because His love is strong
when He died
redeemed my lost soul.
He Is Risen, Indeed!
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. Luke 24:1-12 (NIV).
One of my favorite things about this account of the Resurrection of Jesus is that the first people to learn that He had risen were the women. At this time, the testimony of women was of no value. But God valued their witness and their testimony about this awesome event. This reminds me that He believes my testimony and witness of His glory is important, too.
Last Thursday I wrote my first limerick in response to the dVerse Poets Pub FormForAll, then later that day wrote two more. At least one of my readers expressed concern that I might get stuck in this genre of poetry – an idea I quickly dismissed. And yet this morning as I pondered what to write, a limerick came to mind, followed quickly by several more.
Typically, limericks tend to the crude and somewhat distasteful (such as “There once was a man from Nantucket” that lends itself to all sorts of rude limericks). But as a poetic form it need not be so, and even can be used to express more subtle humor.
This series of limericks was in part inspired by a post I read the other day titled “Easter joy and Holy joking” about how the resurrection was the greatest joke in all of history. It was a joke on Satan who thought the crucifixion was his greatest victory. He thought he had finally obtained eternal dominion over mankind and that we would forever believe his lies. Thankfully he was wrong and God knew what He was doing that Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Limericks for Lent
There’s a man who was God come to earth
He arrived by a strange virgin birth
He gave sight to the blind
And He saved all mankind
Wanting us to all know of our worth
V V V
There’s a man who was God in the flesh
He first came in a lowly barn crèche
With disciples He walked
There was truth when He talked
He allows us to start life afresh
V V V
There’s a man, King of kings, who was God
On this evil planet He did trod
To the lost He gave peace
And the first He made least
Lord of lords in the end all will laud
V V V
The devil tricked Eve, so it goes
But the joke was on him, I suppose
On the cross Jesus died
All to save you and I
And defying the grave He then rose
Today I want to share a song by Mac Powell of Third Day called I Remember You. It is a short but beautiful song that is perfect for this Lenten season. As we look forward to Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter, this song is a wonderful reminder of what it is we focus on during Lent.
If you are a Wordpress blogger, you no doubt know that WordPress has a feature on the homepage called “Freshly Pressed.” On the top of this page it says the blog posts featured there are: “ The best of 382,141 bloggers, 468,361 new posts, 310,678 comments, & 187,062,601 words posted today on WordPress.com.” (Note: These numbers change each day, but this is representative of the Freshly Pressed intro.)
I’ve been blogging on WordPress for over a year now, and have posted 421 posts to date (this one is 422). I’ve received some great comments and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of sharing the love of Christ and being an inspiration on my blog. I’ve also followed the suggestions for being Freshly Pressed, except that I don’t always include a photo or other visual. I’ve had over 19,000 page views, so someone likes my blog. And yet, I’ve never been Freshly Pressed.
I also read quite a few excellent Christian blogs that follow all of the suggestions for being Freshly Pressed, but I’ve never seen a single one of them features on Freshly Pressed either. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Christian blog be Freshly Pressed, though I admit I have not checked the Freshly Pressed page every single day.
I have, however, read some really stupid blog posts that have been Freshly Pressed. I’ve read ones that have numerous grammatical and spelling mistakes. I’ve read ones that are not inspiring or uplifting, and though they might entertain someone they didn’t entertain me. I’ve read ones that didn’t have very catchy headlines at all (one even had the headline “342″), and I clicked on them only out of curiosity to see why something with such a boring headline would be Freshly Pressed.
This Easter weekend, as I looked over the Freshly Pressed blog posts on Friday and Saturday, I wondered to myself, “Why do I care?” It seems quite clear that whoever chooses the 10 blog posts per day that are featured is not looking for or interested in Christian blogs. I did find a few that mentioned Easter, but none of them had anything to do with the true meaning of Easter. One titled “Just in Time for Easter” was about hatching chickens. Another was about how to make handmade bunnies and Easter eggs, with the headline “Easter Eggs, Bunny and Bunting!” A third titled “My Easter Decorating Woes . . .” was about various egg and bunny craft project failures. There was also a post titled “Celebrate Earth Day“, which happened to fall on Good Friday this year. Finally, on Monday there was a post-Easter post titled “Peeps: Can They Be Trusted?” in which the words “Easter” and “hell” were three words apart, but there was nothing in the post about how to avoid hell through the power of Jesus’ Easter resurrection.
I guess for some people chicks, eggs, bunnies, Peeps, and the recently created Earth Day are more important than the death and resurrection of the Creator of the Universe. But for me, the Divine Love of Jesus revealed on the cross and the awesome power of God declared by the empty tomb are more important than anything. It’s just too bad the editors of Freshly Pressed don’t believe that a single post about the grace and love of Jesus deserved to be Freshly Pressed on this Easter weekend 2011.
But I guess I still haven’t answered the question, “Why do I care?” It is not so much that I personally haven’t been Freshly Pressed that bothers me. It is that all those who subscribe to the Freshly Pressed feed or who visit the Freshly Pressed page each day are not being told about any of the awesome Christian blogs that are posted on WordPress. It seems I find a new one at least once a week by following the link in a comment on one of the blogs I already read. These Christian blogs are filled with inspiration and encouragement to live a life worthy of our Creator. These Christian bloggers look at life from a Christian perspective and find in it hope and faith worth holding on to.
So I have decided to add another theme to my blog. Starting next Tuesday, I am going to write about posts from other Christian blogs that have inspired me and given me hope during the previous week. I know I don’t get the same exposure as the Freshly Pressed page, and being mentioned here won’t drive nearly the traffic to another blogger’s post as being Freshly Pressed would, but I believe it is high time the work God is doing on WordPress be showcased somewhere.
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?
For Easter, I thought it would be appropriate to post the rest of Psalm 22, the rest of the story. After the crucifixion, God did not turn His back on Jesus but listened to His cries for help. He was raised from the dead. As the pastor says in Lutheran churches on this wonderful resurrection day, “He is risen!” And the whole congregation responds, “He is risen, indeed!”
Because He is risen, we will praise Him in the great assembly. The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord Jesus and will return to God because of what He has done. He will be worshipped by whole families and His righteous acts will be shared from generation to generation. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
22 I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.
I will praise you among your assembled people.
23 Praise the Lord, all you who fear him!
Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob!
Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.
He has not turned his back on them,
but has listened to their cries for help.
25 I will praise you in the great assembly.
I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied.
All who seek the Lord will praise him.
Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.
27 The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him.
All the families of the nations will bow down before him.
28 For royal power belongs to the Lord.
He rules all the nations.
29 Let the rich of the earth feast and worship.
Bow before him, all who are mortal,
all whose lives will end as dust.
30 Our children will also serve him.
Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord.
31 His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born.
They will hear about everything he has done.
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.
I know I usually post a recipe on Friday, but because it is Good Friday I decided I wanted to do something a little bit different. Instead of a recipe for food that will perish or last only for a single meal, I want to post the recipe for Redemption and the Bread of Life that will last you for an eternity if you choose to partake. This recipe was finished over 2,000 years ago, but to enjoy it you have to add two important things.
Redemption and the Bread of Life
All the sin of mankind
One Spotless Lamb of God
One crown of thorns
Two wooden beams
The blood of the Savior
One empty tomb
The first part of the recipe was already finished when the Spotless Lamb of God took upon Himself all the sin of mankind, wore a crown of thorns, and was nailed to a cross made of two wooden beams. The blood of the Savior was shed because of Divine Love. After three days, one empty tomb was added to the recipe, and Redemption and the Bread of Life was ready for all to partake.
To enjoy Redemption and the Bread of Life, believe that the Spotless Lamb of God died for your sins and that God raised Him from the dead, and confess with your mouth that He is Lord of all. And while you are at it, enjoy this great video of Johnny Cash singing “Redemption.”
Finally, I just want to leave you with a few scriptures regarding the Bread of Life and how Jesus finished all that needed to be done, except for you to believe. And even that, I believe, His Holy Spirit has a hand in allowing us to do. Today is Good Friday, a somber day on which our Lord was crucified. But Sunday’s comin’ and Redemption is nigh’.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 (NIV).
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 (NIV).
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” John 20:1-2 (NIV).
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (NIV).