All posts in Christian Living

Why Blood

Have you ever wondered why Jesus had to die? Me, too.

Here is my contribution to CBN.com today:

http://www1.cbn.com/devotions/why-blood

 

The Good News Applied

“The gospel is not the diving board into the pool of Christianity. The pool is the gospel.” The radio pastor went on to say, “When you want the best water, you don’t make the well wider, you go deeper.”

I’ve thought about those words for several days. For a long time, I dug outside and around that Christian well. Debating this doctrine and that. Concentrating on parts of my Christian life like they were fragmented.

Lately, the gospel is where my focus has been and where it will stay. The Good News of Jesus Christ. I love I Corinthians 15:1-4,

“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…”

Simple, right? You probably learned it in Sunday School. Colored pictures about it.

But it is profound. Deep, like that well—like that all-encompassing pool.

For instance, when I see a client at work who has been in some trouble, and lost their job, and rub me the wrong way, I can’t think I am better, or smarter. My thoughts line up with the good news. Jesus died for me. I didn’t deserve it, didn’t earn it, didn’t even want it. But Jesus had mercy on me and opened my heart to hear His Spirit. And He saved me.

And when someone doesn’t treat me right, or I am misunderstood, or even mistreated, I think about Jesus, the perfect Son of God Who was mocked, beaten, and crucified. Not only did He never do anything wrong, He never even thought a bad thought, and yet many shouted, “Crucify Him!”

My slights seem insignificant.

And when I face uncertainty, or death of a loved one, or illness, I cannot despair. Because not only did Christ die for my sins, He rose from the grave—paying the penalty for my wrong thoughts and actions and motives—not only providing the payment for my sins, but also eternity with Him.

That is deep, like the cold, clear, water in that well.

It surrounds me, like the refreshing water of that pool.

I don’t ever think I can reach the bottom or explore the depths.

But I’m gonna try. And then I will have eternity to enjoy it.

 

 

A Clean Page

I clapped my hands and jumped with delight while an unsuspecting client and reserved office manager looked on.

“Yay!” They had no idea a new $4.95 desk calendar could make me jump for joy.

It’s like that with organizers, too. In late November, I visited Staples and stared at the assortment of day planners, notebooks, and organizers. Several other women stared with me. I would pick one up, flip through the pages and put it back, mentally calculating how it would or wouldn’t fit in my purse. Or if I had enough space to write everything  down that was important in my life. Or if it had pretty pages that made me smile.

I even struck up conversations with fellow shoppers. One woman was a hair stylist, so she needed a large planner with a month in advance. Another woman refused to speak with me and looked uncomfortable. A soul-mate shared her suggestions and criticisms about each.

Finally, I chose one. Checking out with a smile on my face, I drove quickly home and ran into the house. I grabbed my pencil to mark appropriate birthdays, and holidays only to realize the planner began in July of 2017 and ended in July of 2018. Disheartened, I phoned my daughter and explained my predicament. (She too, is an organizer junkie.)

“I bought mine from Target, and I love it. I think you’d like it, too,” she suggested.

“Could you go to the store right now and pick one up?” I asked hopefully.

She laughed. “I’ll look tomorrow.” And then I pouted.

A few years ago, when I worked at a school, my friend and co-worker and I would search out desk calendars with flowers and various colors on each month that made us happy.

There is something about tearing the sheet off of the old calendar, and flipping over to the new. It is like a new start.

I don’t know about you, but I need new starts.

Philippians 3:13, 14 states:

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.…”

It is easy to look back. It’s also hard to change. But I am not alone. The God I serve has forgiven me of past, present, and future sins. He gives me both the desire and the strength to become more like Him. And He loves me–just the way I am.

So, tomorrow, I start with my new planner given to me by my daughter. (It even has stickers.) I do not know what 2018 holds. But I know The One Who does.

And He is good.

I’m going to write that in my organizer.

Have a happy and a Blessed New Year, my friend.

 

 

 

Jesus, The King

Let’s review the Christmas story…Angels announce to a young virgin that she will bear a Son miraculously. Her husband-to-be receives an angel appearance also who tells him that he should marry this girl even though she is pregnant because her child is of the Holy Spirit. Joseph obeys. They travel to Bethlehem for a census, and Jesus is born. Shepherds hear of his birth through angelic announcement and they come.

It is the wise men I’d like us to think about. They were actual kings. They sought for a king at great inconvenience to themselves. They studied the stars, followed them and showed up to find out this special child.

In essence, the kings sought the King. Shouldn’t we follow suit?

Next, they worshiped. Not even understanding the entire story, they knelt before this peculiar child and worshiped. I know I can’t begin to understand the incarnation, but isn’t that just like God? He does the unimaginable–the impossible, and expects His creation to believe and trust and wonder.

That is how the incarnation affects me. How about you?

Third, they obeyed. God told them to leave Herod out-of-the-loop and go. And they did. They went away with belief, and trust, and wonder.

Because Jesus is The King.

Jesus claimed to be a lot of things while on this earth…the bread of life, the gate, the Good Shepherd, the way, the truth and the life, the door, the vine, even the light of the world. But did you know He claimed to be a King?

Take a look at John 18:36-37. This is what Jesus said while being questioned by Pilate before His crucifixion:

“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.

“Therefore PIlate said to Him, ‘So You are a king?’

“Jesus answered, You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.’”

Not only did Jesus claim to be The King while on earth, at His death, The King of the Jews was inscribed at the cross. (Matthew 27:37)

In Revelation 19:16 states, “And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

This baby in a manger is much more than a cute story and an intriguing narrative.

He is The King.

Is He yours?

Here is a link to the most majestic song written about the Kingship of  Christ”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUZEtVbJT5c

 

How’s Your Voice

“All human beings have an almost infinite capacity to take things for granted.”

Aldous Huxley

If you can wade through the blow up Santa’s, 5000 different kinds of Christmas lights, and fake trees, you may be able to find a few token Thanksgiving items.

The Salvation Army even starts ringing the bell for the famous red kettle before the last Thursday in November.

But Thanksgiving is important. Not just one day a year, but every day, especially for followers of Christ.

Sunday, our pastor spoke from Luke 17. Ten lepers cry out to Jesus from far away. Grotesque, smelly, voices raspy and weak from the disease, they beg, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

And He does. In fact, He tells them to go and show themselves to the Priest, and as they obeyed, they were healed. Nine of the ten continued on their way, ecstatic over their physical healing. After approval from the High Priest, finally, they could eat a meal with their loved ones, sleep in their own bed, and worship in the temple.

Physically healed, they were satisfied.

Here is what Scripture states about one of the lepers,

“Then one of the, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Luke 17:15-16.

Turned back is another word for repentance in the Bible. Turning from our own way, we turn to Christ for salvation–for healing. This man knew there was more to Jesus than the healer.

Then, he cried to Jesus with a loud voice. Not only were his sores healed, but his voice became strong once again. With that new, strong voice, he began to praise God.

After he returned to Christ, he fell at Jesus feet gave thanks, and worshiped.

Christs’ response is surprising. He asks three questions of the crowd, pointing out that the man is a foreigner from the half-breed Samaritans. Jesus also notices that nine were healed and only one came back to give thanks.

But it is His last statement that is astounding. “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

All ten experienced healing in this life, but only one was saved for eternity.

How’s your voice? Is it raspy and weak? Is your body infected with sin. If so, you need healing. And the healer waits. John 6:37 states, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

Some need physical healing, but all of us need spiritual healing. Friend, don’t let Him wait any longer, Turn back, repent, worship and be healed.

Those of us who have experienced the transforming work of the gospel in our lives, use your strong voice to praise. Give thanks. Don’t take that miraculous salvation for granted!

So duck under those fresh cedar trees, get to those Thanksgiving plates, and when you sit down to your meal this Thursday, really, really, give thanks.

A blessed Thanksgiving from a very very close-up shot of the Hyltons. (Couldn’t delete it…please don’t look at the wrinkles.)