The Quietness of Saturday

iStock Photo by Vitanovski

iStock Photo by Vitanovski


Sandwiched between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday is the stillness of soundless Saturday. There was nothing. No remarkable event. No cataclysm from the fingers of heavens, nothing like the Force that slashed the temple veil or turned high noon into midnight. God closed the curtains of heaven.

The tension was unmistakable. The atmosphere among Jesus’ followers was one of amazement. The One who cast out demons, raised the dead, and restored sight to blind eyes is now dead. It looked like Jesus’ enemies had won. Herod, the synagogue leaders, Pilate, the soldiers, and even the angry crowd that chose Barabbas…all appeared victorious. The ministry of the disciples seems to have ended on Calvary. No longer fishing for men, His disciples were not just absent. They frantically ran away. The crucifixion changed everything.

Don’t be surprised. We have all been there or will get there. When life hits “pause” and when our personal silent Saturdays come, there are no instructions for your next move. On Monday you have a job; on Wednesday it is gone. On Tuesday, you have a home, a car, a hefty retirement account, a stable income. On silent Saturday, you stand perplexed and ask, “What just happened?” The comfortable, familiar patterns of life suddenly evaporate.

Beyond today is tomorrow. After Saturday comes Sunday. Silent Saturday is only an interlude. In the performance of a significant piece of music, the “interlude” is the instrumental connecting passage. It gives harmony and melody to the composition. And so, in life, during the interlude, we wait for God’s connection.

The women who came to the grave, expecting to find a corpse, but they found an angelic messenger. A messenger awaited with words of hope and instruction.

Today is Saturday. I plan to just wait. Wait right here and see what God has to say about all of my tomorrows.

Oh, How He Loves Us!

iStock Photo by B-C Designs

iStock Photo by B-C Designs

What was the awesome power that kept Jesus, the Son of God, nailed to a weathered piece of wood, with spikes piercing his hands and his feet?

How was it possible for angry human hands to lay hold of Jesus, the Christ? How were they able to capture Him? What strength was available to those mocking soldiers with their furious faces? Even the sun was stunned, so traumatized by spitting scorners, cruel taunters, and the sight of a wounded Savior that it turned off the brightness of the afternoon and summoned midnight.

When He was captured in the garden, Jesus reminded Peter that He could have asked the Father for thousands of fighting angels to come to His defense. But we know why He did not. He who is King of Kings and worshipped by angels allowed those gritty human hands to subject Him to the cross. He did it because that was God’s plan. In their classic 1993 album, The Mississippi Mass Choir put the answer to our questions to music when they sang: “It wasn’t the nails that nailed Him to the cross. He could have come down, but my soul would still be lost. The ransom was so high, only He could pay the cost.”

Love held Him there. Christ volunteered to pay the ultimate sacrifice.

Yet, His great love for us does not grant us immunity from life’s tragedies or disappointments. I encounter people every day who ask relevant, real-world question–even in the light of the victory of the cross. “If Christ loves me, why did He allow my spouse to die?” “If He loves me, why is my financial situation so hopeless?” “If He loves me, why did I lose my home?” Why did I lose my job? Why didn’t He save my child?

I sat in a chair in the kitchen today chatting with my daughter as she shared the story of the sudden loss of a colleague’s wife. Inexplicably, someone who was there is suddenly gone. And this is a family of believers. “What do you say?” she asked me. These are questions that confront us, even on Resurrection weekend when we celebrate the deep love we embrace as Christians. How do we understand the cross; how do we understand a life of victory in a world where unfathomable pain is possible? How could hundreds of Christians be murdered in Kenya? Why are there one hundred individual stories of mistreated children, innocent people incarcerated for decades, the working poor robbed by unscrupulous predators…why?

Jesus chose the wood, the nails, and the thorns. He did it for our victory. He did it because, no matter what we encounter in life, He assures us that we win. We win over sin and death. We win over pain and grief. This victory replaces any darkness that threatens. We can stare it down. We have undefeatable joy and an anointing that prevails. After the crucifixion comes Resurrection Sunday. Amen, and Thank God!

Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect. He suffered death on the cross. But he accepted the shame as if it were nothing because of the joy that God put before him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God’s throne.–Hebrews 12:2 NCV

“Tony Dungy Interview on SiriusXM”
by Regina M. Prude

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"The Leadership Zone" Interview with Tony Dungy, Part A (produced by American Baptist College)

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Faith Opens the Door to the Impossible

Are you ready to open the door of faith and unleash unlimited power in your life for 2015?

iStockPhoto by xImagination

iStockPhoto by xImagination

I will not pretend to know what’s in store for you—or even for me—in this sparkling third day of a brand new year. But one thing I know for certain. God has a great purpose for your life and for your accomplishments in the days ahead.

It’s natural to be apprehensive about the unknown. Will we have to cope with illness? Unemployment? A housing crisis? A financial crisis? Some unseen peril? Will there be life’s normal obstacles and barriers or a new set of them? Of course the answer to that question is: yes, there will be both. But what if we won’t know when to expect them? Will there be unfamiliar situations? Unknown enemies?

Your Dream Life Awaits

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.–Ephesians 3:20—NIV

iStock Photo:  pichet_w

The wonderful thing about reminiscing is that I marvel at wonders I’ve seen God perform in the lives of others. Like the remarkable, talented teen invited to the first church my husband served as pastor in Hendersonville, TN. She dramatized James Weldon Johnson’s “God’s Trombones.” Today she is known by just one name—Oprah.

God has a dream for you.

Say My Name

In Your name I rejoice all day long, and in Your righteousness I am exalted. For You are the glory of my strength, and in Your favor my horn is exalted.
–Psalm 89:16-17

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Here’s a parenting or mentoring assignment. For parents or mentors of young people of all ages–but particularly pre-teens, teens and college students, please give your young charges a late summer assignment.

Ways to Save Money Writing: Free Tools that Help Your Writing Without Hurting Your Wallet

 

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(This is a Guest Post by Nikolas Baron)

Writing can turn into one of those clunkers. You pay to publish your book, yet never see enough sales. You hire an agent, but it just doesn’t pan out. You pay for conferences, entry fees for contests, and pay application fees for writing awards or grants, yet never manage to win. However, there is hope for writers out there who have vowed they’ve spent their last penny on any writing-related activities. There are hundreds of free online writing tools to help you save money as a writer. Especially if you’re freelancing or starting out, these tools will help you stay organized, save on typical costs associated with writing, proofreading and organization.

1) Evernote: Ok, let’s get started. We’re going to write a book, cheaply.

GO DEEP, BE STRONG IN 2014

It’s that time. Once again.  (Wait, no, I’m not complaining. I’m really, really glad to be present, alive!)

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The last vestiges of 2013 have washed away.  Each new wave.  Each surge of the tide. Each twist, turn and bend in the road ahead may be somewhat of a mystery, but it is God’s gift to us … to see a fresh path and to receive where it leads us.

Last year was great. So many wonderful things happened. New projects were born. Yet, ahead is a brand new year, full of opportunities. Stretching out before us, like the winding yellow brick road of Oz, is the wonderful miracle of 2014.

This could be your year.  The year that is full of untold potential. The year when all access is cleared and any obstacles that have blocked your progress are moved out of the way.

I was surprised to learn that Sheryl Sandberg is “Leaning In” to the women of China and they are hearing her message.  According to The Wall Street Journal, Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and author of “Lean In:  Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” gave a speech last fall in Beijing. She was there to promote the Chinese translation of her book, which has been selling briskly in China and is particularly appealing to the still minute numbers of Chinese businesswomen.

If we are to heed the voices of those who have been world changers in the past, I feel it is critical to do these things in 2014:

1.  Transform lives. Make your ideas work for others.  Like Sheryl Sandberg, don’t be reticent about sharing what you have discovered.

2.  Disconnect from the grid of being ordinary and of repeating the same old thing. Go deep, be strong, do something different.

3.  Love what you do. In fact, love your life and what  you give way, way  more than you ever have in the past. Start from where you are and build upon what matters most to you—your school, your team, your business, your friends, your family, your church, your community.

4.  Be fearless. Approach this new year, rich with things you have never seen, sprinkled with places you have never visited, and filled with tasks you never dreamed you could accomplish.

No matter what promises this year holds, know that possibilities are a part of it.

Vision is just the shape your dreams take in those moments before your faith kicks in.  Vision is how you describe the future just before you’re ready to move ahead with real conviction. And it’s okay if you approach 2014 one vision at a time

You be the solution to a problem the world has. You be that one with the key.  You be the agent of change.  Inspire trust and hope in others, then help pass it on.  You be the visionary, the achiever.

#Betheinspiration.

 

It’s Harvest Time

“May we never tire of doing what is good and right before the Lord

Autumn Fruit 4

because in His season we shall bring in a great harvest

if we can just persist.”

—Galatians 6:9 The Voice

 

This is your season for doing great things for God. Harvest is a time for reaping the results of fertile growth. If we refuse to get weary or discouraged, we are recipients of the promise of a rich harvest. That yield grows up from seeds of persistence and motivation you’ve sown.

Paul wrote these words of encouragement for us today, not just in a letter to the church at Galatia nearly 2,000 years ago.  First, he had a warning. Watch out! Beware of the twin enemies of fatigue and exhaustion. Don’t get tired of doing good. Refuse to let low energy and lethargy to get in your way.

This morning, I woke up texting a loved one who was flying home from a business trip and a travel day that began at dawn. You know what that’s like. The alarm sounds at 4:00 a.m. and the journey to the airport takes place before the sun comes up. Long travel days require a buoyancy that normal workdays do not. We make those sacrifices in our personal or professional lives because we have a goal in mind—like launching a planned family vacation or attending a business conference.

Doing God’s work takes the same verve. I believe that the French call this kind of exuberance joie de vivre.

The “great harvest” God has for us is only visible according to His timetable. Whether that’s now or later doesn’t matter to me. God takes care of the “when.” It’s doing the work that counts.

This is your hour, your moment. God chose you for a special task. Your work is calling you! Someone is waiting for your touch, your action, your reach, your smile, your word. Your hand on their shoulder. Your cup of cold water on their lips.

All Things

Paul’s letter to the church in Rome has an important message about how life works.

Hands placing last piece of a Puzzle

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

—Romans 8:28

I’m not a good juggler. Are you? At the moment, I have so many possibilities in the air that some threaten to crash down, hitting me squarely on the head.  I’m juggling a maddening whirl of exciting opportunities. Work projects, looming writing deadlines, and a few self-imposed (should I say, self-inflicted?) prospects.

All the while, I’m comforted by Paul’s assertion about “all things.” Vision and reasoning point me to the opposite conclusion, but I see God’s Divine plan in my chaos.

Whenever I ask myself if it takes all this to get to success, I hear a sage voice which once said, no circumstances “are so great that they cannot be built into the very steps of the staircase by which souls mount up to heaven.” Sounds good. Lead me to the  staircase.

All things; that means everything is good. This heavenly math equation assures us that no evil has final power. God’s work in our lives results in only one possible outcome—what’s best for you. The only condition is your affection; as long as you love and trust, you come confidently to “all things.”

And so, if you are having one of those David vs. Goliath moments—facing giants and feeling over-matched by the sheer pressure of all you have to do, or if an unexpected circumstance has just caught you off-guard—remember this. He is moving you into your “all things” position and weaving every element together in your life.

Have you heard about autonomous drive? Nissan announced that, by 2020, they will pioneer the self-driven car. Working with global experts at top universities, the Nissan 360 program will introduce a car that steers, brakes and accelerates without any help from you.

God can do that right now. Get in the back seat; let Him drive. If you love Him, you’re in a splendid position.