Turnstiles

320px-Turnstile.alewife.agrWhat good are Birthdays now and then,
Except to think what might have been;
Unless we know of Whom we’re born;
Who brings New Life, each day, each morn.

Whose Eyes, to See; Whose Ears, to Hear;
Whose Mind, to Understand
How we, so small, so lost in time
Are part of His great Plan;

Whose Hand directs and Opens doors;
Whose feet have walked the earthly moors,
To lead us where we could not go;
To unveil Truth we did not know;

To bring us through each day, each year
Until we’re brought so very near
To face the last Turnstile ~ The Cross;
To Enter, leaving all the dross;

To Turn and See how self lived life
With those from whom we sought advice ~
And Standing behind, One who’d wait and stay
Very Close every step of the Way.

Running beside us in The Race
Toward The Father’s Resting Place
Where now we’ve Come, and with a New Start
Each day, all of Life ~ in the Center of God’s Heart.

(For son, Andy’s 34th birthday ~ April 25, 1996)
Image Source: Turnstile

Three Views of Me

Jerry drove 30 minutes to our daughter’s house after sitting in church two hours. When we got there he took off his prosthesis and sat in his wheelchair for two more hours. As is the routine, he suggested (letting me know that our time together was coming to an end) that we needed to think about leaving for home. Enjoying the time (and honestly not wanting to go) my response was, “I’m thinking about it.”

At first, I didn’t understand why our family laughed. Our responses to each other at home are sometimes humorous , making our circumstances a little easier. We are used to our manner of communication, and laugh with each other.

After Lee said that I was being “sassy” I realized that others have a different view of us than we do. They see and hear differently than we do.

This incident was an example and an illustration for this article that I had wanted to write.

There are three views of me:
1.  how I see myself
2.  how others see me
3.  how God sees me.

I can only see myself if I go to a mirror; 2011-05-15_1645and then I have only one dimension. Either I look at my frontal view; or with another mirror see a back view. There is a strict limitation. When I leave the mirror I cannot see me at all.

Others have a continual and more rounded view when we are with them. They have other angles that we never see. Yet, they are limited to what they see or hear at any one time.

God has the perfect view, from His own creation and power of dimension; not only from the outside, but inside, seeing the heart, and knowing our thoughts, always.

 “For the Lord seeth not as man seeth;
for man looketh on the outward appearance,
but the Lord looketh on the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7

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Seeing What I Need to See

I don’t need to spend more time in front of the mirror. It is not the outside that I need to see.  I see enough of me.

I would do well to ask and to know what others see and hear; and in humility desire
to change what needs to be changed.

The only means of knowing the truth about myself, with the knowledge and power to be what I should be, is to seek the Lord’s view; to pray for and live in humility. This is His working when I daily seek His kingdom and His righteousness through His word and prayer.

Though there is never any intention of being disrespectful to Jerry I realize that how others perceive our relationship may be different than what we want to portray.
The Lord has made it a joy for me to serve Jerry as his wife and caregiver.
Jerry is always gracious to allow me time with the family whenever we can be together. I need to remember that this is a sacrifice for him as he continues to deal with his discomfort and the soreness in his leg.

Dear Father, forgive me for what seems disrespectful to others, although Jerry does not take it that way. Help me to be more aware of how long Jerry has been sitting, and the rest that he needs; to be immediately responsive, instead of just “thinking about it.”   Work in me the humility of Christ that I may be the caregiver that you want me to be; that others may see your working in me ~ for your glory and our joy.
In Jesus’ name I pray.   Amen.

Image Sources:  Baby,  X-ray 

The Purpose of Christ’s Resurrection

7102751_staAre all the technological extravaganzas that are performed once a year what Jesus meant by “true worship?” What is our response to Christ’s resurrection the rest of the year? Let’s look at God’s word for His purpose for Christ’s death and resurrection.

For New Life and Trial of Our Faith

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” 1 Peter 1:3-7

To Be Conformed to the Image of His Son

“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.
 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:28-29


Herein is love, not that we loved God,
but that he loved us,

and sent his Son to be the propitiation
for our sins.

 Beloved, if God so loved us,
we ought also to love one another.

1 John 4:10-11

Hereby perceive we the love of God,
because he laid down his life for us:

and we ought to lay down our lives
for the brethren
.”

1 John 3:16

Dear Father, keep us this day and every day in the reality of your redemption, loving you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbor as ourselves. Make the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ an ever-present working in our hearts and lives for everyday worship in spirit and truth; to remember His death and resurrection as the most spectacular performance, to which no other can compare.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

A Bloody Crown, A Bloody Cross, A Bloody Sacrifice

Since posting Three Crosses, Two Crowns, One Sacrifice I have wanted to do this follow-up. In that article images depicted everything clean, as if the cross of Christ was never used. The crowns were those of earthly kings. The precious sweet lamb was untouched, alive in the green grass.

As the church plans to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ this Lord’s Day I am reminded that we seldom think about the events that led to this celebration. Too often we skip the crucifixion and the tomb, forgetting the suffering and the sacrifice that made our salvation possible. Some people can look at blood and gore and are insensitive to it. I, as others, usually avoid it at all costs. Even the sounds of violence from a distance make me cringe. Still others will not consider their need for a bloody Savior. The rich man of the South who said, “I don’t need anyone to die for me,” didn’t know his own heart.

But understanding how we are reconciled to God through the blood of His own Son is necessary ~ if we are to experience the power of His love and grace working on our behalf.

Even as I am studying the humility of Christ this year, I wanted this season to be different, and so am praying, as I write, that the Lord will give me a deeper understanding of His sacrificial atonement. I pray that you, the reader, will receive something of what He is showing me; to know the love that was in the blood that was shed for us; to so let that love fill us that we love Him even more; and as Paul spoke to the Roman church, that we be so humbled by His mercy that we respond by offering ourselves as “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-2) for our God, “who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us.”    Ephesians 2:4

A Bloody CrownimagesCharles Spurgeon said in his sermon  The Bloody Crown
Beloved, I always feel as if my tongue were tied when I come to talk of the sufferings of my Master. I can think of them. I can picture them to myself. I can sit down and weep over them, but I know not how to paint them to others! Did you ever know pen or pencil that could? A Michelangelo or a Raphael might well shrink back from attempting to paint this picture! And the tongue of an archangel might be consumed in the effort to sing the griefs of Him who was loaded with shame because of our shameful transgressions.”

“Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. John 19:2

And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium;
and they call together the whole band.
And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns,
and put it about his head,
And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews!
And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him,
and bowing their knees worshipped him.
Mark 15:16-19

Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s Gospels record the scourging and mocking right before Jesus was led away to be crucified. But John’s gospel records (and he was an eye witness) Pilate bringing him before the chief priests, the elders and the crowd before He was led away.

Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! John 19:5

What did Pilate mean by doing this? He may have thought that all that blood would discourage the Jewish leaders and the crowd, but no; they wanted more. What they saw from Jesus’ beating and the thorns on His head was not enough. They must have his life. They must see Him destroyed; no matter how much blood it took.

They could not know how powerful that blood would be to save His people, and to condemn them. The envy, the anger, the hatred, the malice from the enemy was the very reason that Jesus had to endure such suffering.   God knew what was needed to accomplish our redemption ~ an innocent Lamb, a holy man, Himself in human form. He knew that in the presence of sinful men He would be massacred.

At any point, amid the pain and the humiliation from Pilate, the soldiers, and the Jews Jesus could have shown His power and position as God. Even in His physical weakness He could have spoken the word, or called down heaven and destroyed all or part of Jerusalem. (That would happen later.) But, all was part of the plan for our redemption. Jesus could not turn back now. From the sweat drops of blood in the garden, the betrayal of Judas, the forsaking of the disciples, the mocking of the soldiers, and the crown of shame, He was well into fulfilling the new covenant.

He was revealing the necessity for blood, the reality of atonement through His own blood. To endure all for our sake was the true manner of humility revealed to us.

The pain which He had endured from the scourges caused Him to throb with exquisite anguish—but we read neither of tears nor groans—much less of angry complaints or revengeful threats. He does not seek pity, or make one appeal for leniency. He does not ask why they torture or why they mock. Brave Witness! Courageous Martyr! Suffering exquisitely, You also suffered calmly! Such a perfect frame as His—His body being conceived without sin—He must have been capable of tortures which our bodies, corrupted by sin, cannot feel.” Charles Spurgeon

Bloody-Cross-600x450A Bloody Cross

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” Leviticus 17:11

The beatings and the blood on His head did not faze Jesus. He was the central figure in this greatest event in history. It is His story of redemption. The cross, saturated with His blood, is the main scene ~ the turning point for humanity and the gate leading to eternal life with Him. In the last decade I have given up watching mere men do this role in plays and movies. It is but an act. No man but Jesus Christ has done this part. It is better to read and meditate on His word for this reality in our own hearts than to see an imitation.

The cross was the means that God had chosen; that Jesus knew He must bear; it was the implement of God’s love and grace. It is the symbol for us to remember. We wear crosses around our necks.   Most of them are gold and silver. None are bloody. But we must remember the blood of the cross of Christ; His life that was shed for us.

That blood was the blood of the new covenant. The beatings and the bloody crown were only the prelude to our own lifeline. Without the blood of His hands, His feet, and His side there would have been no reconciliation and peace between God and us. I use the words ‘God and us,’ instead of ‘us and God,’ because He is the initiator and the fulfillment of the covenant. We must see the blood, even as He had to see the blood, and therefore passed over our sins.

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:11

“Mark his brow-they have put about it a crown of thorns, and the crimson drops of gore are rushing down his cheeks! . . . But turn aside that purple robe for a moment. His back is bleeding. ..They lift up the thongs, still dripping clots of gore; they scourge and tear his flesh, and make river of blood to run down his shoulders! This is the shedding of blood without which there is no remission…They fling him to the ground; they nail his hands and feet to the transverse wood, they hoist it in the air…Blood from his head, blood from his hands, blood from his feet. . They pierce his side, and forthwith runneth out blood and water.   Charles Spurgeon

A Bloody Sacrificeimages

                “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin 1 John 1:7

“After that tremendous struggle, the strength of Love mastered the weakness of Manhood—He put that cup to His lips and never shrank—He drank right on till not a drop was left! And now the cup of wrath is empty—no trace of the terrible wine of the wrath of God can be found within it! At one tremendous draught of love the Lord drank destruction dry, forever, for all His people. Charles Spurgeon

The blood on the crown of thorns and the stain on the cross was the blood of Jesus Christ. The pouring out of His blood on the ground was more than a sprinkling and spoke better things than that of Abel. (Hebrews 13:24) There was life in that blood, the life of the Son of God who lived for one purpose ~ to lay down His life, to shed His blood for us.

“It is finished.” It was done according to His everlasting covenant. He was the bloody sacrifice for His people. We don’t have to look at a bloody cross anymore, but we must remember it. Nor do we need a crucifix with a figure of a man with no bloodstains.

He left us with two ordinances to remember His sacrifice; baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We need but to be baptized into His death once, but His sacrifice is to be remembered when we come together for worship. Blessed are we who celebrate the resurrection and remember His death with the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day.

Peace Through His Blood
Jesus is no longer a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger,  a man on a cross, or wrapped in a linen shroud lying in a tomb. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords living today and forever as our merciful and faithful High Priest; sitting at the right hand of God, having offered the oblation of His blood for His people; making reconciliation for us; and now, as our mediator, interceding for us.

We would be blessed today and tomorrow to read and mediate on the crucifixion of our Lord, so as to come to worship and celebrate this Lord’s Day with a deeper sense of His mercy and grace.

“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,
through sanctification of the Spirit,
unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:
Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”
1 Peter 1:2

“The blood is one of the strangest, the deepest, the mightiest, and the most heavenly of the thoughts of God. It lies at the very root of both Covenants, but specially of the New Covenant. The difference between the two Covenants is the difference between the blood of beasts, and the blood of the Lamb of God! The power of the New Covenant has no lesser measure than the worth of the blood of the Son of God! Your Christian experience ought to know of no standard of peace with God, and purity from sin, and power over the world, than the blood of Christ can give! If we would enter truly and fully into all the New Covenant is meant to be to us, let us beseech God to reveal to us the worth and the power of the blood of the Covenant, the precious blood of Christ!”   Andrew Murray

Dear heavenly Father, just as we cannot paint the picture of Christ, your Son, for others, neither can we put into words our praise and gratitude for so great a salvation, performed as planned and executed in your timing and place.  Let the blood of Christ, that is efficacious, doing all that you planned it to do, work in us the power over sin.  Cleanse us and keep us always looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

 

The Pink Kwansan Cherry

This month the Kwansan Cherry tree is taking the spotlight from the prickly Bradford Pear.  Like the Bradford Pear the Kwansan Cherry is an ornamental (no fruit), a hybrid planted only for its showy pink blooms. It grows 30-40 feet high and wide . Growers say that it is worth the display if only for its 15-20 year life span.

Pink is the color for April and one of my favorites, not just for landscaping, but overall.

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Blue is my other favorite because of the blue sky. It is a canopy over all the earth reminding me of God’s grace. The dogwoods are also blooming this month in Georgia.

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Pink has been a mystery, though. I do not know why it became my favorite color; except that it is derived from a combination of white and red. I have decided that God spotlights the pink trees in the landscape at this time of year that we might think of His purity and the blood of His dear Son given for us for our redemption.

 “ Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”     Hebrews 13:21-21

Related Article:  Grace ~The Sky’s the Limit

People and Possibilities

Behind every person is a possibility. As I thought of writing this article three people came to mind; all are young men, each in his twenties.

Jerad is dying of brain cancer. Don will soon graduate from college with a degree in History. Darren is married, and needs a full-time job. images Neither of these seems to have a lot going for them at the moment; but let’s look past them to think of the possibilities.

Jerad
Jerad has been given two weeks at the most. What can he do? With his own will and working he can do nothing. He has had to relinquish everything to others for his care. His only hope and possibility is for a miracle healing; or, at his death to “forever be with the Lord.”  The apostle Paul spoke of his possibilities; “to live is Christ; but to die is gain.” He had learned to be content in whatever his condition. Jerad is fighting to live.  This is natural. He sees no other possibilities. He cannot pray for anything beyond what he can understand. Others are praying, but only for what they can wish for this young man.  The possibilities for Jerad are in God’s hands.

Don
Don loves the Lord and history and can speak of what he knows, but it is difficult to understand him. He thinks faster that his tongue can articulate. If you listen carefully you can catch the gist of what he is saying, but we must take the time to hear him. He has never been able to get a job; and when he graduates this year with a major in History he does not yet know the possibilities for sharing all that he has with those who need it. He writes well; so that might be a possibility.  Another possibility is speech therapy.  But, we  pray and wait for the Lord to show us His plans for this gifted young man.

Darren
Darren is a strong, industrious young man, knowledgeable and confident in his own abilities, which he diligently puts to work at every opportunity. His last employer said that he needed people skills.  Like most of us he shares what he knows,  and believes, sometimes when they are not asked for.  This not being part of the job description as an employee, volunteering our expertise can sometimes get us into trouble. I can relate and so, pray and look with great expectation for the Lord’s working in this young man’s life.

God’s Sovereignty
I believe God stands behind all his creation, especially those He has created in His image.  I don’t mean that everybody will turn out well and accomplish great things, but that God has His purpose.  Some will barely make it in this life; some not at all.  But believing in God’s sovereignty we need to see each person with eyes of faith; not in the person, but in God who created them, and sustains them.  We may only see the person, his condition, mistakes and failures. We cannot see what God is doing in the heart, or His future plans for others. We misjudge when we form our opinions before He is through with us all. We misjudge ourselves as God’s children when we use our tongues against others; even though what we see and say may, at the present, be true.

The Love of Christ
Christ has so loved us that He suffered and sacrificed His life for our sins and shortcomings.  
Our work and life in Christ is to love others, pray for them and encourage them in spite of their idiosyncrasies, their faults and weaknesses.  It would be good to take some of these under our wings and help them, but not all are willing to accept our help.    It is easier to love and minster to one who is dying, such as Jerad. It may take a whole lifetime to accept and relate to others; but we must continue to look beyond them to Christ, believing that He will show us great and mighty things we have not known.  Jeremiah 33:3

Beyond Every Problem ~ the God of Possibilities
Each of the young men I have mentioned is humbled by his own problem ~ one more than the other two ~ according the severity of his problem.  If either of these three knew each other, I dare say that only one would want to trade places. Each is experiencing his own problem; but they have yet to realize the possibilities beyond themselves. They have yet to know the God who is beyond every problem ~ the God of possibilities.

I have spoken in this article of the impressions that we have of God and others; and how we think about them and respond to them. This applies also, to the impressions that others have of us; and that we have of ourselves. If I had listened to what others thought of me at the age of twenty my possibilities would have been nil.

Someone that I loved said, “She is not worth killing.” What a statement for a young woman to start life with. They were right. I was rotten, “dead in trespasses and sin;” but the possibilities for life and goodness were in God’s plans. This person didn’t know what my heavenly Father had in store for my future. I am still not perfect, but forgiven, and being changed by His grace; and for His glory I pray and look for what He is doing in others and me. The fruit of love, joy and peace are produced in us by His Spirit.

 “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”
Mark 18:27

Dear Father, into your hands we commit those who need special care.  Please take them under your wings; and as you continue to bless us, bless them with your Holy Spirit to work in their hearts and lives to know you and love you, too.  Enable them to see Christ; and in Him all that you have planned for them. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly
above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us,”

Ephesians 3:20