Holy Week, Tuesday

This week is holy week for Christians all around the world.  Let’s spend this week intentionally reflecting on Jesus, what He did for us, and who He is to us.  Each day, we can take an aspect of our faith and contemplate on it throughout the day.  Whether in word, song, prayer, or written, join me in remember what this week is about (and it’s not just for spring break! :))

Today, the focus is on God’s love for us.  After all, He loved us before we loved Him.  Holy week brings us closer to the culmination of God’s love for us through Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.  Today, we begin by focusing on the amazing Truth that God, who created the universe, loves us.

Here are some Scriptures to pray and meditate on:

Psalm 57:10 – For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

Ephesians 2:4 – But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 

1 John 4:10 – This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  


1. Acknowledge His love.  Either write down or simply tell yourself (or others!) three ways God has shone you that He loves you.

2. Thank Him for His love for you.

3. Pick one way to show Him your love in return.  Be creative!  Some ideas are…

* Forgive someone you’ve been holding unforgiveness toward

* Show His love by doing something nice for someone else

* Obey Him in an area you’ve been avoiding

* Simply praise Him!

As you move about your day, remember, God loves you.  It’s not a cliche, it is Truth.  Wrap yourself in it; surrender to it; accept it; savor it.  We’ll meet here again tomorrow to continue our faith jounrey through holy week.

<<Check out the companion songs to this song on my Tunes page!>>

Holy Week, Sunday

Wow.  We’ve waited all week for this day!  Hallelujah, Christ has risen!  I’m glad you are back.  Yesterday’s blog was a rough read, but we made it through some tough questions and the gruesome reality of Christ’s death.  Today, we get to celebrate our Risen Savior!  Read the Good News with me below…

Matthew 28: 1-6

1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 
1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” 3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes, 11 but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”  “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”  Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”  16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”  She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Jesus fulfilled every prophecy about Himself in the Old Testament.  He came.  He saw.  He conquered!  We now have the privilege of eternal life with Jesus -the Rock who totally rocks!!

Enjoy this day!  If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, rest in the blessed assurance, the promise, of all of the good things to come in heaven where thieves cannot steal and rust and moths cannot destroy.  Both now and forever we will never again experience separation from God.  Our sins have been pardoned, and the debt we owed has been paid.  We are free to enjoy an abundant life!  More than what I could write today, I want to offer Jesus’ own prayer for you.  A prayer He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane right before He was arrested.  Sit back.  Breathe deeply.  Breathe in the words of our living, risen Christ.  His prayer for you and for me…

John 17: 20-26 – Jesus prayers for all believers

20 “My prayer is not for (the disciples) alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.   24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.   25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Jesus – our King, Savior, Brother, Friend.  He is awesome, mighty and loving.  Commune with Him today.  Thank Him for His sacrifice.  Praise Him for His works.  Worship Him for who He is.  Remember your roots today.  As a believer, our lives are not our own.  We have been bought with a price; ransomed from death; saved from our sins.  As Paul wrote in Galatians…

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 

As we move about our day today and for all of our days to come, we need to think, speak and behave as those who really are citizens of another Kingdom; not of this world.  We should be different from the world, so others look at us and wonder what it is that we have – indeed it is Christ’s salvation that we should share.  I recall something Priscilla Shirer once said in a Bible study.  She quoted her father’s words, which are so fitting for today.  Remember who you are – and Whose you are.  

We carry the cross in our hearts and it should remain on our minds.  We have also been given the freedom to radically enjoy this life that God has planned for us.  Let’s thank our Lord Jesus for all He suffered through and for keeping His promise and rising from the dead.  He is the real deal.  He is King of kings and Lord of lords.  Praise Him!  Happy Easter! 🙂

<<Check out the companion songs to this blog on my Tunes page!>>

Holy Week, Saturday

Yesterday we reflected on the brutal murder of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Despite what the people thought they were accomplishing, let’s not forget Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice.

John 10: 17-18, The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.

Today, Holy Week Saturday, there is a strange air stirring around us.  Like watching for a tornado or hurricane, the sense of impending doom is thick.  Eerie.  Deafeningly silent.  Because this time two thousand years ago, Christ was dead.

Before the clock ticks forward, I have to back up for a second.  People like to talk about who they would like to meet in Heaven.  I have a few people for sure.  One of them is lesser known than the other high-profile Bible names.  Enter Joseph of Arimathea.  He was rich.  He was a Jew and a member of the Sanhedrin; and he had become a disciple of Christ – a scandalous thing for a Jewish priest to do.

After Jesus died, Joseph approached Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body to give Him a proper burial on Friday night so as to avoid having His lifeless body hang there on the Sabbath.  Pilate granted his request.

Matthew 27: 59-60 – Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.

When I get to Heaven, I would really like to talk to Joseph.  Think about it, he had accepted Christ as His Savior.  The same Savior whom He was about to bury.  How must it have felt to bury one’s Savior?  The cross was a gruesome scene.  Joseph himself took Jesus down off of it.  That must have been a horrific task.  After the 39 lashes, chunks of skin and meat must have fallen off of Jesus as Joseph navigated His body down from the cross.  How did Joseph release Jesus’ hands and feet from the nails driven through them that sealed them to the cross?  Did he drive the nails back through Jesus’ flesh?  Joseph surely was a bloody mess from handling Jesus’ body.  Did he wash his clothes and wear them again, or did He never wash or wear them again out of respect and as a reminder of what Jesus endured?  Hmm.

When Joseph wrapped Jesus’ body in the linen, his hands surely dug into the insides of Jesus that were exposed from the flogging.  Recall that Jesus was unrecognizable – His face deformed from the swelling of His beard being plucked out, flesh missing, His body covered in dirt and blood.  What was it like for Joseph to remove the crown of thorns that had been gouged into Jesus’ head?  There must have been some small sense of satisfaction to undo the ridicule that the people had done to Jesus.  A feeling of justice for a dead man.  Did some of the thorns stick in His head and need to be hand-plucked like a mother removes a splinter from her child – careful, tenderly, in love?  Are you  still reading?  Can we stomach it?  I don’t think I can find words to understand what Joseph was feeling.  Every drop of blood shed, every point of agony Jesus suffered was for Joseph – and for you and me.  Joseph must have felt like an accomplice to the crime, since it was his sin, like everyone else’s, that cost Jesus His innocent life.  I know I do.

Jesus was wrapped and placed in Joseph’s personal tomb.  A boulder was rolled in front of it, symbolizing the finality of it all.  Joseph went away.  Did he go home?  Did he go pray in the temple?  Did he take a long, sobering walk lamenting over the day’s events?  So many, many questions.

I’m not the only one with questions.  Think about the disciples.  Could they be more confused?  Bewildered?  They thought Jesus was going to rebuild Jerusalem and they would be right there as His biggest campaign supporters.  Jesus was gone and so was their hope, dreams, and both their religious and political vision.  The disciples were gone, too.  All of them dispersed in utter confusion and fear.  Were they next?  Would they be hunted down and killed for following Jesus?  Not now.  Not yet.

One person stands out among the fleeing disciples.  Peter.  Always full of words and a dose of emotion, Peter was zealous, impulsive and at times he didn’t know when to stop talking.  Such was not the case at this point.  In fact, he tried hard to blend in and not say a word.  This, the same man who cut off a solider’s ear in haste in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Now, Peter wasn’t doing the talking – unless it was to deny Christ, his Savior – just as Christ had told him he would do.

Luke 22:54-62

54 Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55 But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. 56A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.” 57 But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said. 58 A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”   “Man, I am not!” Peter replied. 59 About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” 60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times. 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly. 
Peter catches a lot of flack for his impulsive actions and chatty tongue.  However, are we much different?  How quick are we to disown Jesus when pushed into a corner?  Peer pressure at work, school, and in the neighborhood can tempt us to blend in like Peter tried to do.  Tough moral choices seep into the private parts of our hearts and whisper to us to follow the road more widely traveled.  Sometimes our faith is called out in front of many people when we are the only person against whatever everyone else is doing that we know is wrong.  Sometimes we are all alone, thinking no one knows but us what we are  contemplating.  Oh, but we are not alone.  God is watching.  He is not sitting on His throne with bulging bloodshot eyes, lightening bolt in hand – ready to strike us down.  He is cheering for us to make the right decision.  He sent His Holy Spirit to guide and direct us down the right path.  Jesus, our High Priest, always intercedes on our behalf.  We have all of Heaven watching and waiting and supporting us in the right thing!  So why do we feel so alone?  Like Peter.

The disciples didn’t understand Jesus’ teaching on raising the temple in three days.  They were looking with their physical eyes at physical structures.  No.  The temple was standing right in front of them – talking to them.  They knew not, and their hopes were dashed.

Have you ever felt that way?  Your world just fell apart, yet you are stuck living in it like be being trapped in a house of mirrors.  I have.  What do we do?  When things are at their very worst, do we accept or deny Christ?  If we look deeper at Peter, later, when Jesus had risen and was reinstating Peter back into the fellowship, Peter said he loved Jesus.  I believed he loved Him all along.  In the moment when Peter was warming himself by the fire, he was scared half to death.  He was in shock, confused, angry, frustrated, and probably sick to his stomach after watching his beloved Savior be snatched in the night like a common criminal.  Still, Peter denied Christ.

Today, let us inventory our hearts and expose the areas that we have denied Christ.  For some, you have never accepted Him.  Will you today?  In the figurative hour of Christ’s death – His body lying in the tomb, do you believe?  After all, we know the ending of the book – Christ indeed rises from the dead.  And we will celebrate that tomorrow with thankful, joyful hearts!  But, if you have never accepted Him as your personal Savior, you will not be at the party.  Easter dinner may be enjoyed, perhaps the Easter Bunny will have hopped to your house, and there may be family to share the day with, but this is your time to make it personal – to make Jesus Christ personal to you and become your Savior.

Jesus says in Revelation 3:20, Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

How?  Romans 10:9-13, That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Perhaps you need to be reinstated?  Once saved, we never lose our salvation.  Nothing and no one can take it away from us, but perhaps you have made decisions that have denied Christ and led your life away from Him.  Christ wants you back.  He misses you.  God and Jesus have never ever stopped loving you.  There is nothing we have done that is beyond their reach.  Today, right now, listen to the One who calls you by name.  Are you wondering if the choices you’ve made have been even too much for God to love you, want you?  Read below the words of Jesus Himself…

Luke 15: 17-24  (Read the entire parable in Luke 15: 11-32)

17 “When (the lost son) came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

   “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

   21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.[a]

   22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Did you know that in their day, a rich father would have never ran like that?  It was undignified!  When we understand the context of the parable, we are even more amazed at God’s love for us.  God and Jesus are not concerned with human standards – they love you and want you to come back to the family.  Will you?  As a believer, you’ve never stopped being part of the family…but you’ve been terribly missed.  How can you be brought back?

1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Today, we wait in eager anticipation for tomorrow’s celebration.  It’s not too late to join the party.  I pray you will.

Let’s put ourselves in the disciples’ shoes throughout today, feeling the despair they felt.  But, let’s also set our hearts up for a massive celebration that tomorrow will bring – and in fact, already brought two thousand years ago.  I’m smiling already.  But for now, as we lay out church clothes and look over the Easter menu’s shopping list, let’s not overlook what this day was for the disciples and those who believed.  It is bittersweet indeed.

<<Check out the companion song to this blog on my Tunes page!>>

Holy Week, Friday

Today is Good Friday. It’s hard to believe we are already at this point in 2012. This day signifies the darkest hour in Christ’s ministry on earth. Can we truly comprehend what He went through for us? I don’t think so.

Throughout the ages, Christ’s crucifixion has been painted, sketched, and sculpted. It has been expressed in a variety of artistic expressions such as Broadway plays, reenactments, movies, etc. Even in the most graphic of depictions, we still cannot grasp the true measure of horror He sustained out of love for us.

His beard was plucked out. He received 39 lashes (40 was considered a legal death) with tortuous whips and the like. He was humiliated, called names and spat upon. He was lied about, falsely testified against, denied by His people and abandoned by His friends. His hands and feet were nailed to wood. A crown of thorns was gouged into his head. He was stripped naked. He was laughed at, beaten, and beaten some more. He was plotted against, sold for 30 pieces of silver and traded for a murderous madman who won Christ’s innocent freedom. He was given an unfair trial, used as a political pawn, and His holy Kingship was made a public spectacle. He was offered bitter gall instead of water. He was forced to carry His own death contraption. He was denied food, sleep and fair representation. His clothes were gambled for, and He was sarcastically dared to save Himself. He was speared in His side. He was disrespected, despised, and dishonored. He neither fought back nor said a word in His own defense. He was mission-minded, solely focused on this purpose…obeying His Father and ransoming us with His blood.

These are only some of the agonies and sufferings Christ endured for us – you and me. How bad was it? So horrible that Jesus even asked God to allow Him to not to have to endure it. How loving and perfect is Jesus? He finished His request by submitting to God’s will despite knowing all that was about to take place.

Imagine what it must have looked like in the unseen realm. Picture the heavenly angels’ jaws agape as they watched helplessly on the sideline – just waiting for Jesus to give them the call to action. Picture the accuser and his minions cheering and jeering and mocking and taunting. Oh how silent Heaven must have been. How God must have agonized over watching His one and only perfect Son be the final blood sacrifice. He who didn’t deserve it in the least. Finally, God turns away – from Jesus. They have been in communion together since before time began, and now Jesus hangs alone on the cross – and He knows it. He was utterly, entirely, completely alone. Left to die. Yes, a few stood at a distance, but no one was beside Him holding His hand, stroking His cheek, kissing His brow. He hung alone. He, who is innocent, died a criminal’s death.

As He hung in the open air, carnivorous, scavenging birds circling His above His head, the world went about its business, feeling quite satisfied at the conclusion of His life. I think one thing that kept Him there, instead of calling the whole thing off in an instant (which He could’ve easily done!), was the thought of each of us. Did our faces pass through His mind? As He felt the weight of all of humankind’s sins press upon his shoulders, physically pushing down on the skin of His hands and feet, He knew every sin of every person throughout existence would commit. Did it all flash before His blood and sweat-stained eyes? Oh, the shame of it all.

But, did our faces also flash before Him? Did He feel a tug in His heart for us? I think so. He did not die quickly. He hung for hours. In those hours, did He remember our names? The Bible speaks of God remembering His children, having our names written on the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16), and keeping us as the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8). Jesus, who is 100% God and 100% man, perhaps whispered our names under His breath This is for you, ________. Oh, the love of it all.

Scripture tells us that He didn’t even look human by the time it was finished. He was, indeed, unrecognizable. It hurts my head to try to comprehend it.

Today, wherever you are and whatever you are doing – hold Christ close to your heart knowing He went through everything so you wouldn’t have to. Yes, He loves you and me that much. Focus on what He did and why He did it. There is no skirting this dark day. As uncomfortable as it may be to go there in our minds, may our hearts receive the Truth that He would have done it all – even if each of us were the only person ever created.

Walk through Good Friday remembering Christ’s walk to the cross.

Scripture to meditate on…


Matthew 26 – 28

Mark 14 – 16

Luke 22 – 24

John 17 – 21

Isaiah 53:1-9

Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.[b]
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

<;<;Check out the companion songs to this blog on my Tunes page!>;>;

Holy Week, Thursday

Today is Thursday of Holy Week.  Have you felt God stirring in your heart?  I have.  I am filled with a swelling of anticipation for what we will celebrate on Sunday, otherwise known as Resurrection Day!  Why does this day excite me?  I am a sinner saved by grace.  I have done nothing to earn my salvation; rather I received the gift of eternal life freely by believing who Jesus is and what He did for me – and for everyone.

Christ chose to make Himself the final blood sacrifice and stood in the place for each of us. I am overwhelmed with love and gratitude.  God, in His infinite wisdom, holiness, and righteousness, spared His wrath from us because He allowed His Son to bear it instead.  This awesome thought draws us to today’s focus…mercy.

God is mercy.  He created it and defines it.

How tender His heart must be!  He looks upon the earth and, despite its condition, still feels mercy toward it.  His children call Him by name, and He cannot forget them.  When we accepted Christ, He made a covenant with us, and since God is holy and sinless, He cannot go back on His covenant – even if/when we do.

I recall times over the years when each of my children have come to me crying over something they had done.  With sobs and crocodile tears, they fell into my arms with regret and seeking forgiveness.  I, too clearly, remember times as a child (and as an adult) when I have been the one upset to tears over bad choices.

As a child, I wanted forgiveness from my mom more than anything.  I absolutely needed to have it to sleep, to have peace and to have a re-do with her.  As a parent, my heart melts when one of my children earnestly come seeking resolution through confession and a sincere heart.  I am moved and cannot withhold my forgiveness – nor can I hold a grudge.  I look at them (discipline aside) and think, They have so much to learn.  May they learn from this and let it be a strength for them to make a better decision the next time they are in this situation.  I think God looks at us much the same way.

We are made in His image.  We, His children, are part of His family.  He wants us. He wants things to be right between Him and us.  He defines compassion, and pours it over our souls like a warm bath.  His mercy is the big hug a parent gives, the hand that wipes away the tears, and the words that say, I forgive you.

God is holy.  Accountability is a must if we want to grow in Christ.  But, we are spared the eternal penalty for our sins because Jesus paid our debt on the cross. God’s mercy allows us to approach His throne room, seek His face, talk with Him, and be with Him forever – never to be eternally separated again.

We don’t deserve His mercy, but in His love and holiness He bestows it on us anyhow because He forgives, forgets, and doesn’t hold a grudge.  What a good and mighty God we serve.

Scriptures to meditate on…

* Lamentations 3:23, Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

* Psalm 103:14

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.

* Deuteronomy 4:31, For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.

* Nehemiah 9:30-31, For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you admonished them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention, so you handed them over to the neighboring peoples.  But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.

<<Check out the companion song to this blog on my Tunes page!>>

Holy Week, Wednesday

Do you love a good deal on everyday products?  I do.  Coupons, BOGOs, % off, clearance, sales. I hardly ever pay full price for anything.  Full price these days seems obsurd in this economy.  Then there is the wheelin’ and dealin’ when it comes to buying cars, homes – big ticket items.  Negotiating is something I can’t stand to do.  My husband is good at it, though.  Even big stuff is talked down to levels (hopefully) that makes one sleep a little better at night.

Commercials scream sales, billboards boast the best for less, and radios loop bargains over and over.  The over-stimulus of it all is mind-boggling.  We are well used to getting good deals.  However, with God, there is no such thing as a sale, deal, or negotiating.  God is holy.  He cannot be dickered with, out-talked, dumbed-down, or anything else that negates the preciousness of His holiness.

What He commands is respect, holy fear (reverence), and obedience.  Have we lost sight of this?  We are used to getting something for nothing, or next to nothing.  That’s not at all what happened on the cross two thousand years ago.  For  thousands of years, the only rectification or atonement for sin was blood sacrifice.  Period.  No two-for-one, bonus days, or friends & family discounts.  Complete blood sacrifice – exactly the way God outlined it in the Old Testament.  In other words…full price.

Full price is exactly what it cost God to end the separation between Him and us caused by our sin.  Full price is what Jesus paid for every single human being.  For God, it cost Him giving His perfect Son up for us.  For Christ, it was being separated from His Father, charged and punished for sin He never committed, and in the process enduring unimaginable pain and suffering – without saying a word in His defense.

A cost that split the temple curtain (6 feet thick) in two from top to bottom; the sun hid in despair; the earth quaked in fear; and time was forever split B.C. and A.D.  A cost that changed the hearts of many priests who had spearheaded His death; froze guards into near dead men; moved a boulder; sent angels in tangible form; gave over 500 people a visitation from Christ after He rose again; and blew rushing wind of the Holy Spirit through closed rooms at Pentecost.

Full price.  Can we wrap our heads around it in this day and age?  Can we stop looking for a bargain in religion, wanting something for nothing, long enough to understand that it cost Christ absolutely everything to close the gap between God and us?  And, can we accept that what Christ demands from us is our all – even our lives?  Wow.  We’re used to being the negotiators.  Not this time.  Never.

Consider on this Holy Week of Wednesday that God is holy.  Step out of our norm and into the throneroom of God with reverence, respect and obedience.  We submit to His authority.  We humble ourselves in His perfect presence.  We worship Christ, who died so we can live, and He lives with us and in us.

God is holy.  Let’s meditate on this today.  Let it sink deep in our souls.  Let it sober our minds.  Let it pierce our hearts as we walk each day closer to the cross, with a better understanding of the price, the full price, it cost both God and Christ, to save us.

Scripture to meditate on…

* Isaiah 6:1-5 (Isaiah’s commission),

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:   “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
Praise the LORD.I will extol the LORD with all my heart
in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

Great are the works of the LORD;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.

Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
and his righteousness endures forever.

He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and compassionate.

He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.

He has shown his people the power of his works,
giving them the lands of other nations.

The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.

They are steadfast for ever and ever,
done in faithfulness and uprightness.

He provided redemption for his people;
he ordained his covenant forever—
holy and awesome is his name.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.

* 2 Samuel 24:18-19, 21-24 

On that day Gad went to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David went up, as the LORD had commanded through Gad.Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”“To buy your threshing floor,” David answered, “so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped.”22 Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take whatever pleases him and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. 23 O king, Araunah gives all this to the king.” Araunah also said to him, “May the LORD your God accept you.”24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them.
* 2 Chronicles 7:1-4  (The Dedication of the Temple)
 1 When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2 The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. 3When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying,   “He is good; his love endures forever.”4 Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the LORD.

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Holy Week, Tuesday

This week is holy week for Christians all around the world.  Let’s spend this week intentionally reflecting on Jesus, what He did for us, and who He is to us.  Each day, we can take an aspect of our faith and contemplate on it throughout the day.  Whether in word, song, prayer, or written, join me in remember what this week is about (and it’s not just for spring break! :))

Today, the focus is on God’s love for us.  After all, He loved us before we loved Him.  Holy week brings us closer to the culmination of God’s love for us through Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.  Today, we begin by focusing on the amazing Truth that God, who created the universe, loves us.

Here are some Scriptures to pray and meditate on:

Psalm 57:10 – For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

Ephesians 2:4 – But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 

1 John 4:10 – This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  


1. Acknowledge His love.  Either write down or simply tell yourself (or others!) three ways God has shone you that He loves you.

2. Thank Him for His love for you.

3. Pick one way to show Him your love in return.  Be creative!  Some ideas are…

* Forgive someone you’ve been holding unforgiveness toward

* Show His love by doing something nice for someone else

* Obey Him in an area you’ve been avoiding

* Simply praise Him!

As you move about your day, remember, God loves you.  It’s not a cliche, it is Truth.  Wrap yourself in it; surrender to it; accept it; savor it.  We’ll meet here again tomorrow to continue our faith jounrey through holy week.

<<Check out the companion songs to this song on my Tunes page!>>

Easter Ideas – part 3 of 3

A few more ideas…I’d love to hear yours, too!  Let me know what makes your family’s Easter special.

13. Corsage – This tradition began with my great-grandmother.  Every Easter (and Mother’s Day) the mothers in our family are presented with a beautiful corsage to wear for the day.  Maybe it’s an old Southern thing, I don’t know, but it is a tender way to show appreciation and respect for the matriarchs of the family.  I will never forget after the birth of our first child, I was given a corsage to wear the next Easter.  It felt almost like a rite of passage into motherhood, and every year since I wear them proudly.  Corsages are available seasonally in the floral section of the grocery store, but the florist can also make one using almost any type of flower.

14. Egg Hunt & Bunny Store – Okay, so who doesn’t love an Easter egg hunt?  From little ones who squeal in delight over finding the colorful egg hiding beneath the bushes to the teen who says, “Hey!  It’s free candy!” most kids won’t pass up the opportunity to partake in an egg hunt (provided said older kids are in the respective comfort zone of their family or friends – not at lunchtime at school!).  And for the older ones, a bonus of being a parent is to drive them crazy putting them in places so hard they almost think the free candy isn’t worth it.  Ha!

Between church and Easter dinner, there’s always this lag time when there isn’t a lot of structure.  Some people take naps, some scurry in the kitchen, and some have egg hunts.  It’s just fun.  No, there isn’t really any deep meaning to it, but it’s family quality time and that’s okay!

Here’s how we roll:

Stuff a tons of plastic eggs (that we reuse every year) with something small – like a single piece of candy.  Add to that Bunny Money.  Years ago, my sister and I came up with this idea and it stuck ever since.  We created paper Bunny Money (about the size of Monopoly money), fold it and stuff it in the eggs.

Bunny Money

What does one buy with the money? Glad you asked!  Coupons (we made simple ones on the pc like the money above).  The kids buy coupons for things like: free pass on a chore, you pick dinner, stay up late one hour, iTunes song of your choice, you pick dessert, etc.  Things that make kids smile!  They “buy” these coupons at the Bunny Store set up outside.  It may also have a couple of trinkets (typically something useful for summer like splash balls, diving sticks, etc.  When they were younger it included bubbles, sidewalk chalk, etc.).  These are items that we would probably need to restock anyway, and they see it as a gift – win win!  And, this helps reduce the amount of candy consumed.

15. Easter Garden – This is new to use this year, and we cannot wait to make it!  In fact, we’ve already gathered the elements simply from walking around the house and yard.  What a great idea!  It’s beautiful, meaningful and we will use ours as the centerpiece on the table for Easter dinner.  Thanks to everyone online for sharing this super idea!  There are several versions.  Here are some we found: Easter Garden by Ann Voskamp, Easter Garden 2, Easter Garden 3 and many more on the web or create your very own!

16. Resurrection Cookies – For those who have patiently read to the end, we have an extra sweet idea to celebrate Easter.  One of our all-time favorite Easter tradition is to bake Easter cookies (or Resurrection Cookies).  But wait…they are definitely NOT your typical cookie!  Every ingredient, every step has a special meaning and Scripture to back it.  Don’t be fooled by the ingredients.  These cookies are delicious!  We first received this recipe through our preschool.  The best I know is that the recipe was originally created by Wanda Long and appeared in Home Life magazine.  Bon a petit! Click for recipes: Resurrection Cookies and Resurrection Rolls (different version, very cool and tasty – creator, unknown).

So there is my dissertation of Easter ideas.  Hope they’ve helped get the creative juices flowing for your Easter this year.  If you try any of these, I’d love to see photos!  Also to mention, although we do most of these traditions every year, we definitely do not cram them all in a few days.  We spread them out over a couple of weeks.  Easter shouldn’t be exhausting or merely a list of to-do’s.  I encourage you to take the time to ponder Jesus’ cruxifiction and resurrection, have fun with your family, and spend time with the One who died to give you eternal life.

Easter Ideas – part 2 of 3

More Easter ideas… 🙂

7. Passion of the Christ – Within the holy week, preferably the night before Easter, our family (only including kids 12+) watches this movie every year.  We do not allow any of our children (including teens) to watch R rated movies, but this is the exception.  Once they are old enough to understand that it was for each of our sins that Christ was tortured and nailed to the cross, this movie is an excellent resource to attempt to capture the pain He endured, as well as Jesus’ endless love for us in that it was His choice to suffer physical, spiritual, emotional and mental agony so that we could be reconciled to God (John 10:17-18).

8. Egg Hunt Service Project – The whole family can help bring Easter to those in need.  Find an organization (church, non-profit, etc.) that is hosting  an Easter egg hunt for those less fortunate and help provide candy, stuff eggs, transport & set out eggs, or participate with others in the event.

9. Soup Kitchen – Choose this time of year to help provide a meal for those in need.  Join forces with a church, non-profit, or food bank and spend part of Easter weekend (or any weekend!) helping cook, serve or clean-up.  Or, volunteer with Meals On Wheels or another such organization and help deliver a meal to the elderly or shut-ins.  It’s a beautiful way to get to know your community and demonstrate the hands and feet of Christ to your children.

10. Invite Someone To Easter Dinner – In addition to people regularly included in this day with you, invite a widow, neighbors, or someone without family in town or with whom to spend Easter day.  This is a wonderful opportunity to build bridges, make new friends, and is exactly the kind of thing Jesus was drawn to.

11. Dying Easter eggs – The smell of vinegar any time of year always brings me back to dying Easter eggs.  While many people love this tradition, what helped our family enjoy it more was to move the whole thing outdoors.  Food dye can be tricky to get out of counters and clothes, so we set up an old cardboard table, throw some old t-shirts over our clothes and have a ball.  No need to worry about spills, drips or eggs splashing down into the dye-filled cups.  This is a great activity to get toddlers to grandparents involved in and just play!  (I love watching the egg themes change over the years as our kids get older.)  It also lets us get outside to enjoy the springtime beauty, and makes for a really nice photo op for all of us scrapbookers out there.

12. Easter baskets – This is one of our favorite Easter traditions, and no, our children have not outgrown them. 🙂  Rather than filling baskets with endless jelly beans and dollar-store toys that break in a day, we take this opportunity to intentionally bring the baskets back to the focus of the real reason for Easter:

* An Easter basket is a great time to give children of any age a yearly devotional.  Our children’s devotionals are pretty worn out by the end of a year, so every year I spend time picking out a devotional that is right for their age and season of life.  (They begin the new one on Easter, so for us, that day is our “new year.”)  I would recommend some, but there is an abundance of devotionals out there, and it really depends on what fits your child the best.  Simply go to Amazon.com and type in keywords: devotions for kids, devotions for teens, devotions for girls, devotions for boys, etc.  A plethora will come up for ages from very young to graduates.  To offset the stimulate overload, you may want to go to a Christian bookstore (some mainstream stores also have devotionals, but their selection is quite limited) and there you can thumb through the devotionals and find just the right one – local stores also have good coupons this time of year.  Set aside a good hour for this, but it’s totally worth it.  Here’s a couple to start your search: Random ThoughtsGod’s Little Devotional for BoysGod’s Little Devotional for Girls and Josh McDowell’s Youth Devotions.

* To that, we add a couple of extra divinely inspired books (i.e., Stormie Omartian’ s prayer books for kids & teens, When Teens Pray, Hot Chocolate with God, God Girl & God Girl devotional, and the Chicken Soup Christian series for children, preteens & teens).   Books are an investment for the soul and a great basket filler!  This is something I see us continuing for their entire lives – giving our one-day grown children Bible studies, Christian fiction, biographies, etc. at Easter.

* A special bookmark or small piece of jewelry (cross necklace or earrings, etc.) are also nice touches and functional, too.

* With warmer weather approaching, we also include in their baskets a cool Christian t-shirt.  Something fun and funky and fits their personalities.  There are some really great ones out there and can be found online and in local Christian bookstores.

* We include one special item in the basket for each child.  The gift changes year-to-year, but we keep it on a budget.  As parents, we do not give our children toys, video games, etc. throughout the year (only on birthdays and certain holidays), so we take great delight in treating them with a total surprise in their basket.

* Minimizing candy, we pick out only our children’s very favorite treats and put a few of those in the basket.  It’s easy to pass up the abundance of sugar when focusing only on their favorites…and not overbuying keeps the budget down, too.

More ideas to come in part 3…

Easter Ideas – part 1 of 3

Easter is a time of year for reflection, introspection and celebration!  It’s a time in life when Christians ponder the highs and lows of our Savior’s last days on earth.  We walk through Jesus’ timeline, pausing to consider each word or act He said and did both in the public eye as well as within the intimacy of a chosen few.  It’s also an incredibly beautiful time of year.  Who can’t help but smile at the new woodland creatures discovering their world, or feel rejuvenated by the scent of flowers in bloom?  Grass finds its yearly shade of green, and we begin to pull out recipes for salads, grilling, and smoothies.  However, like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day and other holidays, it can become convoluted with diluted distractions that turn our eye from the cross and onto things that actually have nothing to do with the real meaning of Easter – the ressurrection of Christ.

My family is all about rediscovering the unfathomable sacrifice Jesus gave us at Easter.  We also enjoy exploring creation that so resplendently shows off God’s handiwork at springtime.  How do we enjoy both, without losing focus on Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection?  Some friends have asked me to post some traditions our family enjoys during the Easter season.  I hope you like the ideas and use them if they work for you.   We’d love to know what your family does, so feel free to post your ideas, too.  Have fun!

1. Corn husk crosses.  Every year, my mother-in-law sends each of us a handmade corn husk cross.  It’s simple to make and costs nothing.  They last year after year, so we collect them and use them with our Easter decorations, like sticking them in the basket of colored faux eggs on the kitchen table, to quietly reaffirm the true meaning of Easter.  This is a great craft for kids to make and give away to friends, neighbors, or as a service project for teens to give away. (Side note: One year, our mail was stolen from our mailbox just before Easter…yep, the crosses were in there.  We knew that whoever took our mail would find the crosses, and then hopefully find Jesus!)

Corn Husk Crosses

2. Resurrection Eggs – Beginning twelve days before Easter, we gather as a family each night and work our way through the eggs .  After several years of using them the kids know what is in each one, yet still it amazes me (even at their older ages now) how much they look forward to them.  It’s a great way to reiterate Scripture so they know it is history and not just a story.  Resurrection Eggs are sold online, and I’ve also seen them at Wal-Mart and local Christian booksellers.  The accompanying picture book, Benjamin’s Box, is lovely, however the eggs come with Scripture sufficient for enjoying the eggs.

3. Easter plate – Opinions vary about the Easter Bunny.  This is a family matter, but I will suggest what we’ve done.  For the younger years, we put out a plate for the EB with carrots on it.  However, the plate makes the difference in the message we send to the kids.  We bought ours from Abbey Press.  Check it out below!  We really liked that it helped bridge the two.  I couldn’t find this one currently for sale on the internet, but you could paint one yourself, which nowadays is pretty easy.  Ceramic painting kits are available in the kid craft section of Target, Wal-Mart, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, etc.  Or, if you feel extra creative, you could spend a little time at a do-it-yourself pottery store and design one.

Easter plate

4. Books – When little children aren’t so little anymore, Easter Bunny, Are You For Real? by Harold Myra is a great book that helps explain the tradition of the EB. (Shh – there’s one about Santa, too.)

5. More books – Speaking of reading, some favorite books we pulled out for many Easters are Only God Would’ve Planned It That Way by Todd Barsness and Easter ABC’s by Isabel Anders.

6. Tenebrae service – Attend a Tenebrae service at church.  This is a solemn service offered within the last three days of the holy week.  It symbolizes the seriousness of the suffering Christ endured for our sin.  This inspiring opportunity is great for families with children who can sit quietly for 30min-1hour.  All ages are touched by the dramatic silence, soft music, candles, communion and prayer.

More ideas to come in part 2…