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

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?

Summer Is As Sweet As Apple Pie with Ice Cream

I marvel at the funny actions of my one-year old great granddaughter, Lizzie. She often walks around looking up at the ceiling…it’s as if she can see angels. When we look up and follow her gaze, we see nothing. Perhaps the cares of the world and the mundane concerns which come with decades of daily living have dimmed our abilities to see whatever it is that Lizzie sees. There is something remarkable about the uninhibited gaze of a toddler.

How wonderful it would be to see the world without eyes dimmed by years of skepticism or unbelief or hazed-over by life’s many disappointment. When I took Lizzie outside for a stroll the other day, I noticed that she does the same thing outdoors. She looks up and beholds something beautiful.

Life is wonderful all year long, but it is especially so in the summer. Summer is just sweeeet! I have decided that I will apply my “Lizzie gaze” to all that I behold in God’s beautiful world. I want to truly see the things I would ordinarily miss.

There is something about summer that allows us to recognize that God is everywhere! God is in every  movement; He is in every word that we speak. Whatever actions I take or perceptions I have, there is God!  When I rise up in the mornings and greet the summer sun beaming through my wide bedroom window, and whenever I eat or drink, rest or work–I meet God at every turn.

and he gives us the power to live, to move, and to be who we are.

“We are his children,” Acts 17:28—Contemporary English Version

God’s eye is upon us. He sees every action, every movement that we make. He feels every emotion of our hearts; He knows every thought before it is fashioned. He understands the words we are preparing to speak, even before we utter them.

Summer is another season of bliss, a time to rejoice in all that God has given us to enjoy. I rejoice in the angels seen only in the eyes of a toddler. And in a short summer rain falling softly on the roof. And in a slice of apple pie with a scoop of ice cream, eaten outdoors beneath a canopy of trees. All is of God. Since all is in God and of God, and since we are alive in Him, this is the day to rejoice in Him.  Today I thank Him for the deep, blessed, love-filled treasure of every breath that He gives.

 

Sweet Beginnings!

Here we are.  Day #2 in what I have declared as “The Year of Opportunity!”

The past is our cherished history.  Tomorrow holds the great promises of God for a wonderful future, for accomplishing great things, and for fulfilling the purpose God has designed for our lives. Sweet!

There is nothing like a plate full of pancakes to make the sweet start of a brand new day. When my spiritual daughter, Kim, first came to visit me in Nashville, we left the airport and headed straight for Pancake Pantry. Not only is it a great place for celebrity watching, but also I have decided that one of the best eating experiences in the city is their sweet potato pancakes with cinnamon syrup.  Somehow, I think, that dish will be on the menu for at least one feast in Heaven.

In honor of sweet beginnings, I have decided to believe that this is the year.  Join me in affirming that every tomorrow comes bursting with wonderful opportunities. I will always cherish the past and hold on to the richness of memories, accomplishments, and dreams that have come true. However, the fact that I am still here is, to me, a sure sign that there is more in store.

What I envision for you in 2013 includes all of this: greater understanding, more days jam-packed with everyday joy, super-abundant opportunities, greater doors leading to fulfilled dreams, bigger triumphs, and enough prosperity that you can support cherished causes.  You can even become a grander “you” than you ever dreamed possible.

You must be more alert than ever of the negative force called “procrastination.”  It may be the one villain holding you back.  You may discover that the reason you didn’t accomplished the great things you set out to do in 2012 was that you kept postponing them. One of my biggest challenges is looking at a task, deciding it is too enormous, and then putting it off until tomorrow. Commit to doing something—anything—towards your biggest goal, doing it every day, and allowing nothing or no one to get in your way.  Start now. Failure is not an option.

This is the year to dream new dreams. At this very moment, God is putting fresh ideas into your mind. We are all very certain that God has a purpose for our lives. When we put ourselves into His hands, totally and confidently, the BIG dreams will come from Him. Do not be afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone. Be willing to stand still and watch God do the impossible.

You are on the brink of a promised victory. Just follow the advice of Moses; watch God perform a wonder. The problems and obstacles that looked so fearsome are about to be removed from your face forever!

Moses told the people, Fear not; stand still (firm, confident, undismayed) and see the salvation of the Lord which He will work for you today. For the Egyptians you have seen today you shall never see again.—Exodus 14:13 (Amplified Bible)

The Power of Love

L L Cool J, the celebrity actor and rap artist, was interviewed on television the other day by Piers Morgan and asked about the key to his successful marriage.  “What is the secret?” Piers asked.  After just a brief moment of contemplation, his reply was brilliantly direct and simple, “Eat your soup and let her talk.”  Indeed!  Even as someone who has always enjoyed having the last word, I can appreciate that. In fact, I greatly love the quotation by theologian, Paul Tillich, who said:  “The first duty of love is to listen.”

In its best example of the power of love, we express our thankfulness and our praise for one another. Not just on the occasion of an annual love holiday, but every moment, every day, all year long.

The knowledge of how to live your best and most lovingly joyful life will forever transform, illuminate and unshackle you.

The celebration of Valentine’s Day is an occasion for us to exchange flowers, candy, gifts and verbal or written expressions of our love and commitment. We share love with others, not because they demand it, but because we choose to.

As one who was married and committed to one person for nearly fifty years, I know for certain that having a truly personal relationship with a loving God is best demonstrated by how well we love those around us.  And that includes our spouses, parents, children, friends, fellow Christians, neighbors, coworkers, colleagues, strangers—everybody.  Love demonstrates what living your best life is all about.  On the deepest level, the energy of our love reflects the energy of how much our Creator loves us.

Real love transcends distractions, procrastination, unforgiveness, and all of the reasons why we should not love one another.  To experience the true power of love, learn to express your love, even to those who may not love you.  After all, loving those who love you first is the easy part.  When you can love the difficult people in your life, then you know for certain that you’ve got this love thing figured out.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.~ 1 John 4:7 

(Photo:  ©iStockphoto.com/cillay)