All posts tagged Jesus

Movie Night in Heaven

 Shortly after I arrived in heaven, my earthly father met me. His face radiated vitality and his spirit exuded renewal. When he slipped away from earth, his body was emaciated, his skin transparent. He’d lost both legs to diabetes along with his will to live. His new body was radically different than his old. It reminded me of a picture of him in the military. Smiling from ear to ear, body fit, face tanned, the look of a bright future in his eyes.

His new legs were strong and ready to serve.

I sat next to him on along with my mother on my first movie night.

“Pass the popcorn, Sister. I love the cheese.” He did that lop-sided grin that always made me smile. I did.

“So what goes on here?” We sat in a stadium that would make any earthly arena seem like a backyard garage. Hundreds of thousands from every tribe and nation sat on seats that stretched as far as I could see. The seats all faced a screen that was round, suspended in mid-air. Shiny and bright.

“It’s movie night.” Dad said through two handfuls of cheese popcorn in his mouth and continued. “The ending is always the same.”

Grabbing a handful of the popcorn I asked, “Doesn’t that get boring?”

He stopped chewing and gawked at me. “Are you crazy? It’s the greatest story ever told! You’ll see.” Mom nodded from his other side. He continued chewing. “The story begins with one redeemed life.”

“That sounds amazing! Whose life are we going to see tonight?”

My daddy looked at me like the young man in the military uniform, “Mine.”

Drunk at the Drum

The scene opened with a man staggering down a dock crowded with men dressed in navy uniforms. Every once in a while, he’d fall to one side, hit a fellow sailor, mumble something, and continue on his way. Then he stopped, swayed and stared. At that point, I realized it was the younger version of my father.

My eyes moved in the direction of his stare and noticed about eight ladies dressed in what I recognized to be Salvation Army uniforms with black bonnets tied securely on their heads. They stood in a circle on the docks, a bass drum resting on the ground in front of them. A few soldiers stood and listened, some jeered, but most passed them without a glance, eager to meet their loved ones or find some sort of entertainment in the area.

One of the ladies shouted to the unruly crowd, “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

I saw tears in my young father’s eyes as he made his way unsteadily through the crowd and collapsed at the drum. “Lord, save me! Save me!” he wailed as the ladies surrounded him and began to pray. I heard cheers and bursts of Hallelujahs and Amens from those seated around me in the stadium.

The scene quickly changed to a stage. My parents—young and eager—marched across it as a voice bellowed, “Lieutenant and Mrs. Ramon Wert, you have been assigned to be the Corp Officers in charge of The Salvation Army in LaPorte, Indiana!” They saluted, grinning from ear to ear as they marched off. The praises became almost deafening as I tried to make sense of the next screen.

A mobile home stood in the center. Plastic trucks and rusty trikes littered the yard. Two red-headed boys hid behind the porch, wide-eyed, staring up at a red-headed man with tattoos etched on his arms. “Get off my property! I told you not to come back! If you do, I’m going to kill you! Leave my family alone!” He almost spat at my young father in his army uniform.

Dad smiled, “I’ll be back!” He stated cheerfully as he got into the 1950’s black sedan.

The red-haired man appeared again, this time in a church building, kneeling at an altar next to his blond wife. Four young boys looked on, not with fear, but with wonder, as my dad knelt next to the couple, one hand raised toward heaven, the other clutching his Bible which rested on the man’s shoulder.

“Do you believe that Jesus paid for your sins, lived a perfect life on earth, died a horrific death on the cross, and rose again?” Dad paused, “Do you trust in Christ alone for your salvation?” The man nodded and the scene faded.

The arena erupted again. Some stood on chairs, some stomped their feet on the floor. A black-haired Asian woman next to me yelled, “More! More! More!”

And then I saw us. Dad and I stood outside of their mobile home off of a busy street in Clearwater, Florida. Tampa Bay flowed in the background of their tiny yard. Birds swooped around us as dad fed them scraps of bread.

I’d been crying. “I just don’t know what to do! Mom is so sick and in so much pain!” I wiped my nose on my t-shirt. “I’m afraid.”

Dad set his bread on the plastic lawn chair, put his arm around me and looked me straight in the eyes. “This is where your faith comes in, Pauline. You need to learn to trust the Lord.” Later, the movie showed my mom smiling at her husband, coming home from the hospital.

The final scene took place in the nursing home. Dad’s chest rose slowly up and down. Finally, it stopped. I took his hand while above me angels descended beckoning my daddy to follow them. While I cried, his soul-body left this earth smiling broadly as he touched my face.

Then he was gone.

I heard a cry, faint at first, growing louder and louder, like maybe the sound of Niagara Falls but intensified. Colors filled the stadium as the thunder increased. Instinctively, we fell to our knees.

“Ray Wert,” the voice bellowed. “Stand before me!” Out of the corner of my eye, for I could not bear to look up, my father stood. “You were once my enemy, now you are my friend. You were doomed, now you are redeemed.”

Thunder clapped—through eyes clenched shut in awesome fear, that blinding light almost burned them. “By my wounds you were healed! Well done, Ray Wert, my good and faithful servant.”

“Arise my brother, arise all of you, for The Lamb has been slain, and we rejoice together!”

 

God Can Go to Lunch Whenever He Wants to

lunch break sign
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Back when I graduated from college, phones still hung on the wall instead of in our pockets. My first job was as a probation officer in Clearwater, Florida.

My boss was a no-nonsense businessman. Here’s the thing — we had an hour for lunch. My boss would leave for lunch and return at his leisure. I knew him well enough to know he did not waste time, but still it made me think about how the boss can go to lunch whenever he wants — and come back when he wants because, well, he’s the boss. He does not answer to me.

How much more with the God of the universe. He spoke the world into being and sustains it with a word. As I await hurricane Florence’s arrival here in North Carolina, I think of when Jesus slept through a storm and his disciples said in Mark 4:41,

“Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (NIV)

Sometimes I question God. Don’t understand how He functions. In my puny brain, I think I can run the world better.

Stop laughing.

Really.

It’s like an ant shaking his tiny ant fist at an NFL lineman — except worse.

In Isaiah 45:5-6, Jehovah is speaking to rebellious Israel. Scripture says this:

I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me.” (NIV)

God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and absolutely unique. He is beyond all we can imagine or comprehend.

Yet, He reached down to me and grabbed my tiny ant fist. Cradled me with His loving arms. Sent His Son, The Lord Jesus Christ to pay the penalty I deserved for my rebellious soul.

For yours.

He is The Good Shepherd, the Alpha and Omega, My Savior, My Redeemer. He is The Bread of Life, my Great High Priest, The Lamb of God, Messiah.

He is The Son of God. There is no one like Him.

And He does what He pleases.

And He was pleased to come as a baby, lead a sinless life, die a gruesome death to be raised from to life so that I could share His inheritance throughout eternity.
Check out this passage from Romans 5:6-8:

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Kind of makes you marvel, doesn’t it? That the God of the universe cares deeply about us.

Makes me want to get low and worship Him today.

How about you?

Copyright © 2018 Pauline Hylton, used with permission.

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.

 

 

Let There Be Light-Christmas Meditation, Day 5

My favorite part of the day is when the sun sets on the on the pasture in front of my house. Light slides up sturdy trees and slowly slips into the winter night. When I called Florida my home, I waited each morning as light shown from behind me through the window projecting gentle leaves on my wall.

It seems as if the seasons of my life are all filtered through some sort of light. The first Christmas with Sarah when Tom and I sat by the soft firelight gawking at our three month old in her Santa PJ’s. Sunny days on the beach talking with friends while our children splashed in the waves. Stage lights shining down as my children performed in a play. Street lights sifting through our van windows as our family headed home from Busch Gardens, exhausted and content. Light flickering through the door on our wood stove that danced on Mom’s wrinkled face one last time.

Breathtaking.

I can’t imagine a world without light.

A light stood above a lowly stable over 2000 years ago. That star pointed to the Light of Lights. Can you imagine Mary and Joseph peering at The God of the Universe, resting in star-sifted light, lying in a stable.

Let me take you through a few New Testament passages that have to do with light;

“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.  Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’  When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified.  But Jesus came and touched them. ‘Get up,’ he said. ‘Don’t be afraid.’ When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.” Matthew 17:1-8

The disciples never really understood the light when it happened, but they never forgot that day. After Christs’ death and resurrection, the light of the Holy Spirit helped them comprehend what they had experienced.

Take a look at this verse in John 8:12;

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”

So far I haven’t put up any lights in my house, but I have The Light in my heart.

Jesus came to give us life and light.

Beautiful.

The song for today speaks of what Mary might have thought at the birth of her Son. Take time to enjoy it.

 

 

It’s Lent, and I’m thinking About Sheep

Goats and sheep look quite a bit alike from far away, but you can usually tell them apart if you examine them.

Here’s a blog I posted on cbn.com about the difference:

http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/devotions/hylton-sheep.aspx