Good Friday??

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I have always wondered why it is called Good Friday. Because from where I see it, it was not a good day. Jesus had some bad days in his life. Lets start at the beginning, the day he was born, there were no rooms available and he was born in a stable. Not really a good day.

There were days when he started his ministry that were not exactly good. Days where he poured into the crowds all day, and yet they kept coming. Days where he was exhausted, hadn’t eaten, and probably would have liked to rest but he kept going. Not a good day.

There were days when his disciples frustrated him. Days when they had been with him for months. They had seen him do miracles, feed thousands, heal, and cast out demons. They had seen him stop the wind and waves in their tracks, yet they still didn’t understand who he really was. Not a good day.

So, yes Jesus had some bad days, but this particular Friday I would classify as his worst. He was betrayed by one of his own, he was deserted by all his disciples, and denied by one whom he was closest too. Yet, that was only the beginning. He was beaten, and spit on. He was flogged, he was made fun of, he was ridiculed. He had his beard plucked out, and a crown of thorns stuck into his head. He was cruicified which was a death of humilation. Far from a good day.

I will never understand why it is referred to as Good Friday. Ash Wednesday I understand, Palm Sunday has a reason, but good Friday makes no sense to me. To his followers it was one of the darkest days in history.

The Oxford English Dictionary states that “good” in this context refers to, “a day or season observed as holy by the church.” Holy Friday I can understand. Because to those of us who know the full story, who know how it ends. Those who know that three days later Jesus will rise and conquer sin and death, know that Friday is a very Holy day. Because without that Holy Friday, Easter doesn’t happen. Without that Holy Friday, our Savior doesn’t die to raise again.

So, today as I hear the words, Good Friday, I am going to mentally think Holy Friday, and be thankful for a Holy Savior who made something good out of it.

Are My Prayers Sincere?

Can my prayers be wrong? Maybe not wrong, but there is a best way to pray.

I am still reading in Colossians, about to come to the end. In Chapter 4 this morning, Paul is encouraging the church about prayer. He says we should devote (give all or a large part of your time and resources to) to prayer. Do it with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

Is that how I pray? Sometimes, but a lot of times it can be an after thought. Not a last resort thought. Not I have tried everything else and now I am going to try prayer. More like, I had to get up and do this and this and I ran out of time thought. Which is no excuse. Or, I do it as I am doing five other things. I do it while I am driving, or while I am sitting at work, or as I am drifting off to sleep.

Those are not wrong, they are still prayers. They are more like a snack prayer. They are not the devoted, alert, focused prayers Paul is talking about. Our diet isn’t healthy if we live on snacks alone. Our prayer life isn’t either.

My prayers are filled with thankfulness. I am not always sure they come from a thankful heart though. I have to check myself sometimes, to make sure that I am not just filling them with thank you’s. That I am not just following some formula. Praise God, be thankful, present petitions. Not the mimicking heart I talked about with Bella and the bubbles. I say thankful things you give me what I asked for.

Paul also asked the church to pray for them, he says pray God will give us MANY opportunities to share the good news. Do I pray for that? On occasion I have prayed God send someone across my path today that I can tell about you. But I am sure I have never thrown in the word many.

Then my favorite Paul says pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should. Paul the great evangelist prayed, let me present your message clearly. Part of why I am reluctant to speak up sometimes is because I am afraid I won’t be clear. I love to write, because I can think before I put the words down. When I speak I talk faster than my brain thinks, and sometimes it comes out in a ramble of things, things that are confusing and don’t make sense. I haven’t prayed about that, that God would make my message clear.

Paul wraps it up by saying. Live wisely around the world, make the most of every opportunity; it probably won’t come again. Let you conversations be gracious, so that you will have the right response to everyone. If I am gracious and kind in all my conversations, I won’t have to worry if I said something that will hurt someone’s feelings or offend someone. Remember the old saying “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar”. If you speak kindly to people they are more likely to listen to what you have to say.

God Today let me pray without distractions, with a sincere and grateful heart. I will come in contact with many people today, there will be many opportunities, let me be courteous, and obedient in them. Let my words be clear in proclaiming your message. Let my conversations be kind and gracious to all those around me today. Amen

Picture Words

I have been reading in Colossians, did you know there was a villain, a model, and a cowboy in Chapter 3? There is a lot in that chapter but as I read, I noticed how many picture words there are. Words that when I read them, a picture automatically comes to my mind. I don’t know if Paul was that descriptive, or just the version of the Bible I am reading.

In this chapter he talks about setting your sights on heaven. Concentrate on heaven and not this earth. We are no longer of this world. When Christ returns he will take us home. I recently heard this phrase, I am a citizen of heaven, and a resident of earth. When my Grandma lived in the nursing home they called the people there residents. They weren’t staying there forever, it wasn’t really their home, they were just passing through for a season. Earth is not my home, I am only passing through for this season called life on earth. And this season is such a vapor in time, such an unimportant vapor in relation to eternity.

Paul goes on to say put to death the sinful things lurking in you. When I see that word lurking, I think of someone hanging around outside your home or outside a place of business. They are dressed in dark clothes, with a hoodie covering their head. Kind of just sneaking around waiting for a way to get in. That is what my sinful thoughts and desires do, they lurk around waiting for an opportunity to sneak into my heart. Waiting for me to let my guard down and leave a door unlocked.

I wish Paul expanded more on how to put our sinful things to death. A quick death anyway, mine tend to want to die slow. Like a long, slow death scene in an old cowboy movie. Where you think the villain is gone but he takes one last breathe or two or three. Some of my sinful ways want that long drawn out death scene. They are shooting for an Oscar award. I want them to be dead and done.

Then Paul has a lists of things we should stay away from, sexual immorality, lust and evil desires, anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, dirty language, and lying. He says stay away from these and put on your new nature, as you begin to know God and become like him, model him.

I picture a little girl, or really any of us girls. We put on a new outfit that we think looks good, and feels really good. We model in the mirror, we are confident, we turn around and check it out from all sides, and we feel good, we feel comfortable. That’s the way it should be as we begin to model Christ. We should be confident in him, we should begin to be comfortable in doing the things he does.

Paul says, in this new life it doesn’t matter what color our skin is, the size of our bank account, the job we do, or the people we come from. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us, who know him. Today is a good day to start day one-to start living in your new nature.

Friend Day

Sunday was Friend Day at church. An easy and comfortable way to invite your friends. Free breakfast, who doesn’t like a free breakfast? Then if you get them to come the week before Easter, maybe just maybe you can get them to come back on Easter also. Then two weeks in a row, and they are on their way to forming a new habit.

Bella and her BFF Emma on Friend Day

Friends. They can lead you down the wrong road or set you on the right path.

I have been fortunate in my life to have met a lot of people that I would consider as friends. Some I have stayed in contact with and many I have lost touch with. Facebook is a great way to reconnet with old friends from your past.

I have been fortunate to have three really close friends over the years. All of whom are still in my life today. Each one had a season specific to a time in my life, but all are still very important to me.

One rode ten miles on her bike one time just to check on me, because I was upset about something. She checked on me, talked me through my issue, then rode 10 miles back home. One came to my work one day when I was facing a crisis in my life. She sat in my car and cried with me, and prayed with me. One knows all the secrets of my life and still loves me anyway.

Those are signs of a true friend, someone who goes out of their way to see that you are alright, someone who feels your pain with you, and someone who knows you but loves you anyway.

You might say, I am lucky I have friends like that. Or you might say, I wish I had friends like that. We all have a friend like that. Jesus is that friend.

Luke 12:7 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

That friend who rode her bike out to my house she cared enough to come check on me. She didn’t just call, she went above and beyond. Jesus layed down his life for me. You can’t go more above and beyond than that.

Psalm 56:8 “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

That friend who cared enough to come to work and cry with me, she felt my pain. She crawled into my sorrow with me for weeks. This verse tells us that Jesus collects all our tears, and records them. He feels our pain and hurts with us.

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

That friend that knows all my bad and still loves me, she didn’t know it all up front. A lot of it she learned over the years. Years where she had already grown to love me, but God send his son Jesus to die for me already knowing all my sins and knowing all my bad. He knew it all up front and still loved me enough to send his son to die for me.

So, when you think you are all alone and don’t have a friend in the world. Remember that Jesus is a friend at all times, in all circumstances and He loves you.

Are You On The Right Route?

I work at a trucking company. We have recently hired a few new drivers. Which in today’s world of trucking is a big deal. Thank you Jesus for answered prayers.

Most people think that if you are a truck driver you just get in your truck and drive. There are a lot of restrictions and rules and regulations you have to follow. Add to that there is a lot of paperwork. Electronic logs are helping that some, but there is still paperwork and that paperwork can differ from company to company. So learning a new company’s forms can sometimes be challenging.

We have a driver I will call him Pete. I like Pete because he really wants to do a good job, and wants to get everything right. One of the forms they have to fill out is a weekly mileage sheet. This is an important form because it is what they get paid from, so you want to make sure you are getting it right. They are also suppose to calculate state miles on this form, because we have to keep track of how many miles each truck runs in each state for fuel taxes. If a company gets audited they need this information.

Pete came in and wanted me to sit down and go over this form again, he was having a hard time getting it right, and it can be confusing. So, I told Pete, the main thing is make sure you have the correct starting and ending odometer reading, because that is what you ran and that is what I will pay you from. If you have those correct numbers, and you record where you went from point A to point B for each trip, I can help you fill in the miles for each state.

That works for a mileage sheet but it doesn’t work for our faith. We can’t just know Genesis, creation and Revelation, coming again, and then just let others fill in the rest for us. We need to know the whole story, we need to read it from beginning to end. Paul tells us in Colossians 2:2 “I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In Him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

We can’t just fill our lives with what we think we know about the Bible. That is when we get confused and get it wrong sometimes. We make decisions on what we think we know about what God’s word says.

If a driver only gives me starting and ending miles, and I just assume and think I know where he went, I will record the wrong state miles and in an audit I would be in big trouble. If I know from point to point where he went I can fill in the correct miles for each state.

I need to know more than just Genesis and Revelation, I need to know and understand the points in between. If I know from point to point what the bible says, then I can fill in my life with right answers and good choices. I want to be like Pete, I want to try and make sure I get it right. How about you?

BUBBLES

I mentioned that I have an 18 month old granddaughter, Bella. So, you know she is sure to make her share of blog posts. Because of course she is exceptionally cute, and smart, and talented, said every grandma since Eve.

Recently Brittany and Will have been teaching her to say please and thank you. She is really getting them down and not just mimicking the words. If you hand her something she will say, thank you. She is really learning how to use them correctly, and to her advantage.

One of the great perks of working at a family business is that she usually spends one day a week at the office with me. Which is a win for both of us. I get to spend the day with her. And all day she is surrounded by Grammy, her great grand parents, her uncle Chris, her great aunts and uncles, and cousins. Can you say spoil me?

This week first thing when she came in she saw bubbles up on the counter. She loves bubbles. She pointed and said, “bubbles”? I said later we can do them. She said please. She even knew to add a big smile and very sweetly again said please.

Of course I could not resist. We did bubbles.

Later that evening I was thinking about that and I wondered, do I do that with God? When I want something do I open my bible more, do I pray more, do I pay more attention? Am I kinder and more aware of my actions to others? Do I mimic behaviors that I think are pleasing, hoping I will get a result that I want? Do I try to manipulate God with my actions?

I wish I could say absolutely not. But if at a year and a half, Bella is already learning that a please and pretty smile get you bubbles, how much more do I know and put into play at 57? Today God let my actions be honest, let them be sincere. Let them be to glorify you and not benefit me.

Look at that face over bubbles. God may my face reflect the same joy over you.

The Principal’s Office

Get in the word, let it sink deep root in your life. Then it will fill your life with thankfulness. More words from the conference this weekend. A conference I tried to get out of. I was tired, I was burn out, I wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t want to go. I was in a whiny spot, a whoa is me place, and wasn’t really wanting to move. Have you ever been there?

But a friend convinced me to go. Actually, I went out of guilt. However, on the five hour drive down to Branson alone I had a lot of time to think, to pray, to listen to praise music, to just ride quietly with God. And my prayer was let me hear what I need to hear this weekend, even if it’s not all warm and fuzzy. Even if it is a reprimand, let my heart be open.

A lot of it was what I needed to hear, and was reprimand. One of those things was get in the word. I had been doing a lot of Right Now Media time because I could do that on the treadmill in the morning. It just isn’t the same as sitting down and opening my bible.

Why are there times in my life when the bible becomes so real and words jump off the page, and other times it feels stale and becomes part of a check list? I am sure the condition of my heart and mind make the difference. But right now it’s alive and I am grateful.

Reading in Colossians this morning, and this verse came up 1:22, “He has reconciled you to himself through the blood and death of Jesus in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.”

What a picture, because Jesus died for my sins – I now stand in the presence of God. I stand before Him. That alone is enough, to be in his presence but, he goes even further, as I stand before him he sees me as holy and blameless. He doesn’t just see me that way, he says I am holy and blameless without one single fault.

I think of being called to the principal’s office or your boss’s office for something you know you did wrong. You open the door, and step inside waiting for the punishment to come. The person of authority never mentions or accuses. He talks for a few moments about casual things, and then tells of another student or fellow worker who confessed to the wrong that you had done.

Then you walk out, free of punishment, free of guilt. Think of the sigh of relieve as you close the door. The weight of guilt lifted from your shoulders. You want to go skipping down the hallway. You expect to face wrath yet you dance away free.

God says I am holy, blameless without a single fault. Does my life reflect that freedom? Let that soak in, deep in. God doesn’t just see you as holy, blameless and without fault – you are holy, blameless and without fault – ALL because of Jesus death and resurrection.

Close the door, and skip down the hallway full of gratitude.