I spent my growing up years in a country church that was filled with music. Every Easter morning I’d get up while it was still dark, put on the new dress my mom made for me and go with my family to church. I loved our Sunrise Service. Even though we were inside, we watched the windows lighten up and we sang powerful hymns. He Lives, Christ Arose, Christ the Lord is Risen Today, Because He Lives. Glorious songs that can’t be sung in a hushed voice. Jesus triumphed over death–HE IS ALIVE!
But before he rose victorious he had to suffer a terrible death. The songs we sing on Good Friday are more somber and quiet. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Jesus Paid It All, The Old Rugged Cross. Beautiful songs with words that should bring tears to our eyes in humble gratitude and awe.
Sometimes I think Good Friday almost gets lost in the busy preparations for Easter. It’s a day off from school and possibly work and there are so many things to get done. Several years ago I found this song by SELAH. The words are powerful and a reminder of the sacrifice Jesus willingly gave. I’m including the first verse, but go to youtube and listen to Beautiful Terrible Cross by SELAH. You’ll be so glad you did.
There is a beautiful, terrible cross where, though you commited no sin, Savior, You suffered the most wicked fate on the cruelest creation of man. Yet, on that beautiful, terrible cross you did what only you could. Turning that dark inspired evil of hell into our soul’s greatest good. We see the love that You showed us, we see the life that You lost. We bow in wonder and praise You for the beautiful, terrible cross.
I hope you have a GLORIOUS Easter on Sunday. Today, I pray you’ll be filled with humble awe at what our SAVIOR did.
What are the songs that you’ll be singing this Easter weekend?
When I was a little girl I had a doll house. It came complete with little rubber figures of mommy, daddy, brother and sister—and pink plastic furniture. It was tin and one side was painted white with a red roof, and there were even shrubs and flowers along the foundation. The other side was open, neatly divided into rooms–a bathroom and two bedrooms on the upper floor, a living room, dining room and kitchen on the bottom tier. And I could move my rubber ‘family’ around, and rearrange that plastic furniture until my heart’s content. And if I wanted–I could leave those figures lying on the floor of that tin house, or scramble the rooms around any way I so desired. Because at the end of the day, I would turn the open side against the wall and only the beautifully painted side showed to anyone who might care to see…and visitors could ooh and aah over my beautiful toy. Only my closest friends were allowed to play house with me.
But I’m a big girl now..older and wiser…though some might call me a rebel. You see–new clothes, bunnies, and pretty baskets full of colored eggs don’t bother me–any more than tinsel, and colored lights and decorated trees bother me at Christmas.
What DOES concern me, is that I’ve found myself guilty of playing house…with Jesus. And it breaks my heart. And it breaks my heart that we (I’m sure I’m not alone in this) have created places of worship that resemble that little tin house.
Have you ever listened–really listened to how children play? So very often there is one in charge who will tell all the others how to perform. “I’ll say this, then you say this.” or “I”ll go here, and then you go there.” And if they don’t cooperate, then they are no longer welcome to be a part of the game.
Now, I’m going to really get myself in trouble. But frankly, I’m tired of ‘playing’. I’m weary of thinking we are More Christian if we have a Harvest Festival and dress up as Bible characters, than opening our doors to the neighborhood Trick or Treaters; if we sing in the Christmas Cantata and fill our pews with relatives who come to see the ‘little ones’ perform, than fill our homes with neighbors who would never darken the door of a church; if we have a sunrise service with biscuits and gravy and then another Cantata, rather than an colored egg hunt and stuffed bunnies.
Why have we, as Christ followers, allowed so much division? We have become divisive among family: home school versus public school (you know, you can’t possibly love your children if you choose to send them to public school); praise songs versus hymns (no matter who wrote the hymns or where they were first sung); church three times a week (at a minimum…more with committees, choir practice, etc.) versus attending an activity to support a neighbor kid and/or his parents; the King James version of the Bible…only, and we must look down our holy noses and argue and point how wrong all others are .We have become suspicious of anyone or anything that doesn’t look like our little rubber family. The color of skin, the style of hair, the type of clothing, even what they proclaim to believe…if they don’t fit into our little tin houses, they can’t play. We even divide ourselves over whether we choose to take our children to the doctor or not.
So what does Easter mean to me–the topic of this blog this week? It means I fully realize I was a sinner, am a sinner, and am saved, redeemed and sanctified by the precious blood that my Saviour Jesus Christ shed on that cross. I means that if I truly believe I am saved from eternal hell, by His grace alone, and nothing that I ‘earn’, then I can put my arms around my neighbor, regardless of who they are or what they believe or what day of the week it might be…because who or what they are is not about me…it’s about the Lord IN me. The same God who never changes. The God who empowers the believer and who desires for His children to show His SON to all without fear, without malice, and without them jumping through our little plastic hoops first.
The Christmas cantata I sing should be one of daily praise for the gift of God’s Son…every day…every day. The Easter cantata I sing should be on of Praise for the sacrifice of that Son..for me…every day…every day. I can have lights on my house and in my windows every day…I can color eggs every day…I am free to sing a ‘today’ song as well as the old hymns. I can attend public school functions, pray for the teachers in those schools, and love my kids and grandkids just as much….JUST AS MUCH…as those who choose to home school. I am NOT, however, free to look down my nose at how others choose to live. I can turn my porch light on and give out candy to the neighbor kids, without preaching to them until I’ve earned the privilege of being trusted enough to say anything at all to them, what the better part of reasoning teaches our children to be wary of strangers. Shame on us, if our neighbors don’t know who we are. And I can smile at the senior citizen who is earning a little extra money by dressing as Santa Claus and sitting in a crowded mall. I can try to understand that the big fuzzy bunny standing at the curb holding a ‘car wash’ or ‘hamburger special’ sign, could very well be a kid who has to earn his own money to pay for college, or a young dad who just wants to buy those special shoes so his boy can play baseball this summer. Or, again, someone who needs medicine for a wife, husband, kids or even themselves.
Until Easter becomes real enough to us, who claim to be His followers, to love as He loved. To forgive as He forgave. and to be Jesus to a world who might otherwise never know the freedom that is ours in Christ, then we are guilty of pretending and we’ve made the Jesus, who died for us, just another figure to manipulate into playing our games, our way. We must stop presenting only the ‘pretty painted’ side of who we are, and let people see our open rooms, …and quit pretending that we have a corner on Who He Is!!
If you claim to be saved by His blood…then you must realize that you were first one of the nails.
Our Bible study group is reading No Wonder They Called Him the Savior by Max Lucado which explores the events leading to Christ on the Cross. Max describes this as Jesus’ darkest hours, but Mankind’s greatest hope. Each chapter draws out a poignant lesson that we can learn from and offers a fresh perspective on the Passion Week.
We just studied Jesus’ final moments. As He hung on the cross and breathed his last, He said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46).
Here is Mr. Lucado’s thoughts on those last words.
“Were it a war—this would be the aftermath.
Were it a symphony—this would be the second between the final note and the first applause.
Were it a journey—this would be the sight of home.
Were it a storm—this would be the sun, piercing the clouds.
But it wasn’t. It was Messiah. And this was a sigh of joy.”
(No Wonder They Called Him the Saviour, p.43)
And it was that moment before the grand finale…Easter morning.
May you and your family have a blessed Easter.
By some miracle, our local theater is showing God’s Not Dead. A friend and I went to see it this weekend.
The movie depicts a college student’s struggle to stand for his faith against a philosophy professor, then the impact his decision has on others. The movie itself moved kind of slow with a plot based mostly on dialogue. The ending, however, was well worth it. Our whole theater joined the Newsboys in singing “God’s Not Dead.”
Much more than a night at the show, my faith needed a shot in the arm. No big crisis, or even anything that anyone else would notice. Just those discouraging things that make me question if it’s worth it to keep trying.
I needed to hear shouted from the big screen in stereo surround sound, that even if it feels like my dreams have breathed their last, “God’s not dead!”
I needed to stand in the moonlight of my backyard at 11 p.m. and see that even though I feel alone, the “heavens declare the glory of God.”
I needed to learn from my Sunday school teacher yesterday that even when my prayers go unanswered, to “keep on praying” (Romans 12:12) and to remember that “his ways are not our ways.” (Isaiah 55:8)
As I write, this latest release from the Newsboys came on the radio. This Easter, no matter what else, I believe.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
This is such a well-known verse, isn’t it? It’s one we like to claim and cling to. So many times in my life this verse has come to mind and quite honestly, there’s been disappointment that follows. How many times have I asked, really prayed, for something I wanted and I didn’t get my request? Of course it’s easy to say that standard, “God knows what I really need and what’s best.” But it’s so hard to not be disappointed.
Since starting on my writing journey I’ve realized over and over that God has given me the desires of my heart, they just usually aren’t the voiced desires–the ones I’ve directly asked for. Rather, they have been the desires that are deep within me, those desires I’d never consider voicing or praying about.
This past weekend I was once again reminded of this. There are a few authors I have read since their first books came out. I’ve pretty much read every one of their books and anticipate the next with great impatience! I’d have been happy with getting their latest novel, but God had something so much better in store. Instead of just letting me get their books, He has given me the chance to meet these authors–not just meet them, but call them friends. Six years ago when I told God I’d start down this writing path, I never imagined I’d be blessed by knowing these wonderful, writing ladies as friends.
I wouldn’t have directly asked God for their friendship and mentoring, but I completely believe He knew that in the deepest part of me, I’d be extremely blessed by knowing them and calling them friend.
Maybe I haven’t explained this very well, but this week I’ve been in awe as I’ve considered that God has known the desires of my heart, more than I have known them. He alone has known the desires. He’s seen the deepest part of me and has blessed me beyond anything I could ask for. How amazing to serve the God who knows us so intimately!
Last week I was in Pittsburg, getting ready for Called to Write Conference. It had been a full day, and I completely forgot about blogging,
Today I spent the entire day writing Lark’s story. I’m finding her to be quite interesting and a lot different than one would expect.
So–I wrote and wrote and wrote. THEN decided that the chapter I had just written really needed to be moved down a chapter. So I highlighted it, copied it….and then DELETED the entire thing.
I want to cry. But I also know that often when one has to rewrite it comes out better. And…I don’t think Lark liked the direction this was taking. So, will confer with her a bit more…watch a movie with hubby…and tomorrow start over again on chapter 3.
Hope you all have had a great day!!
It’s finally warming up here in Southern Ontario and I’m finally thinking about spring and Easter! Here’s a post I wrote 2 years ago about my family’s Easter tradition. Maybe you might like to add this to your celebration this year!
Easter always reminds me of cracked eggs. And no, I’m not referring to the relatives at Easter dinner (*a-hem*). Breaking eggs is actually a Romanian tradition we’ve learned from my father’s side of the family.
Many people are familiar with the beautiful, intricately decorated eggs associated with several western European countries. In Romania, people often use three colors for their meaning; red represents the blood of Christ, black represents Christ’s suffering, and yellow is for light. These eggs are prepared by poking small holes at the top and bottom, then the insides are blown out.
Most Romanians, though, decorate hardboiled eggs. In our family, we draw each person’s name on an egg, along with a meaningful picture in crayon. The eggs are then dyed in food coloring.
With these miniature pieces of art, we begin the egg cracking contest (which you only use hardboiled variety!). Family members pair up with their own egg in hand. The first person says a traditional Romanian greeting which means, “Christ has risen”. The other responds with, “He has risen, indeed.”
Next, with the two pointed ends facing each other, the opponents tap their eggs together – hoping to crack the other person’s egg and preserve their own. Then the players turn the eggs to the rounded end and tap again. The person with their egg still intact, moves on to the next round.
In the event that both eggs have only one broken end, the opponents try again with the remaining good ends. The victor, in this case, continues to play with only one end until it is cracked.
I always remember my grandmother telling the story of one of her brothers who found a wooden egg that looked very real. He used it in the contest, and, of course, won. But, when he was found out, the family took him to task and no one ever forgot!
Have a blessed weekend!
What is your favorite Easter tradition?
The Called To Write Conference this past weekend proved to be every bit as enjoyable and inspiring as I expected – and even more! Connecting with the Pages From Stages crew – all of us except Cherie – was as fun as always.Many other writers have become friends that I get to catch up with each year.
See more photos here on Facebook.
Each year I leave the conference thinking that I must, absolutely must, rent it before I attend another writer’s conference or even read another book on the craft.
And still I’ve never read it or seen it.
I think the deterrent is my sister-in-law’s reaction after she watched it. I’ll never forget her wrapped up in an afghan on my parents’ couch, bound and determined to watch this epic film to the very bitter end. And it was a bitter end. Oh, and was she mad! “What a waste of time,” she ranted, as Rhett Butler utter that famous last line…
I must admit that if I invest time into a movie or a book, I really want a happy ending. Sunshine, starbursts and an “I do” sealed with a kiss.
But given how esteemed the story is on so many different levels, I’m seriously considering either watching the movie or reading the book…or both.
What do you think? Have you read it/seen it? Should it be on my list to read in 2014?
Classic films are the theme this week. Last weekend, I decided for a special treat I’d watch a streaming movie off the Internet and decided to try a Western I’d heard about but never seen: The Long Riders.
The movie is about the famous James-Younger gang. Always good material for someone who lives in St. Joe within spitting distance of where Jesse James was killed.
The story line itself was quite accurate, but since it covered several years, it didn’t flow really well and the dialog was stilted. Like a good many Westerns, The Long Riders was violent and glamorized wrongdoing.
The scenery and cinematography, however, were breathtaking. The shootout and escape from the botched bank robbery in Northfield, Minn., felt like the real thing. It was so well done, I was surprised it was filmed in 1980. The soundtrack is a beautiful blend of Civil War-era songs with Western themes.
Only when the credits started rolling did I discover this movie starred FOUR sets of real life brothers. David, Keith and Robert Carradine portrayed the Younger brothers. James and Stacy Keach starred as Frank and Jesse James; Dennis and Randy Quaid portrayed the Miller brothers in the gang and Christopher and Nicholas Guest depicted Bob and Charlie Ford, who shot Jesse James.
Can you imagine what it was like to have that many brothers on the set? I’m sure it added a lot to make this movie the powerful film that it remains today.