Why do we call it Good Friday?

cross

“Why do they call this Good Friday? I don’t get it,” were the words my son expressed this morning. Jonah’s been thinking a lot about Creation and the Theory of Evolution. We’ve had a few discussions over the last couple of days. I honestly love the fact that he has to dig deep to figure out what truth is. After his question this morning, I started to think and read and pray about it.

As I read through John 18 and 19 it occurred to me, Jesus went from being King to the most despised criminal. The death He suffered was reserved for the most heinous criminals. And the people who wanted Him dead were the religious leaders of the day. Pilate tried over and over to have Jesus released but they would not hear of it. They insisted on His crucifixion, but Jesus allowed it.

Jesus did this by choice. He decided to be crucified. He had the power to walk away, but He endured. That was how He lived when He was on Earth. He chose to be with the sick. He dined with sinners. He loved the cast-offs. Every single relationship He had, was intentional. And when He walked the road to Calvary, it was His decision.

So why do we call this day “Good Friday”? I don’t really know but for me it’s because on that day Jesus chose us. He sacrificed because He didn’t want to live without us. The King of kings and Lord of lords made the decision to do whatever was required in order to have a relationship with us. The path He had to walk was horrible, shameful and excruciating but I believe, if given the choice again, He would make the same decision. I believe that because Jesus would do anything to save His beloved.

 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. (John 18:4-5)

Has it Really Been 20 Years?

wedding

Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:5 ESV)

Today marks my twentieth wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. Time flies when you’re living life. It’s been a wild ride and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. Over the years, I’ve learned a few lessons I’d like to share with you.

 

  • Always pray.  

Whether you pray together or separately, always pray. I know some couples who pray together every day. Sometimes that happens for us, most times we pray separately. The point is, pray for each other. A heartfelt prayer is the greatest gift you can give your spouse.

  • Use your words carefully.  

I sadly remember our first fight. I used words as a weapon to hurt the one I claimed to love. I remember thinking, what if those were the last words he ever heard from me? Carefully chosen words can make a tremendous difference in a marriage.

  • We are on the same team. 

The temptation to place blame increases during difficult circumstances. Life is hard but remembering you are in this together makes you stronger. The enemy will tempt you to accuse but resist. He knows he is defeated when you stand together.

  • Always ask for forgiveness. 

I have always found it easier to forgive someone who asks for it. So, whether it was intentional or not, I ask for forgiveness. He deserves to know I’m sorry and I have to be humble enough to ask for it. 

It’s hard to believe it’s been twenty years. These lessons seem easy and obvious but they were all things I’ve learned along the way. I’m sure over the next twenty years (Lord willing) I will have another set of lessons. The bottom line for me has been learning to put my husband before myself. I think that’s what Jesus was trying to teach his disciples by washing their feet. However, I learned to be a servant by my husband’s example.

Happy Anniversary Honey!!

Was that REALLY God?

donkey

 “Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” (John 28-29 ESV)

This scene takes place after Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey a week before He was crucified. The crowd surrounding Him had seen Him raise Lazarus from the dead. Word spread of His miracle and many came to see Him. Jesus was preparing for the events to come explaining what it means to follow Him. He finishes with, “Father, glorify your name.” Then God the Father speaks.

I think the reaction of the crowd is interesting. They had never audibly heard God speak. Some believed it was God Himself while others said it was an angel. Either way, they were words from heaven.

I wonder why some of the people thought it was an angel. Was it too much for them to think God would actually speak aloud in their presence? Did their theology prevent them from recognizing God? Was their understanding of God so limited, they refused to believe it was Him? They were so caught up in who said it, they missed the actual words.

I think we all face the same quandary. We hear a voice and have to decide if it’s God. We have to make a choice to follow or stand still. Sometimes, we jump on the bandwagon with no questions asked running for the promise He has set before us. And yet, other times we stand there wondering. We question. We explain away the divine intervention. Sometimes, we are so preoccupied with who said it; we neglect to hear what was said.

Listen for God’s voice today. Ask Him to speak and He will. Seek Him with your whole heart and He will not deny you. And when He speaks, don’t question. Simply obey.

God Moments

herod

When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled yet he liked to listen to him. (Mark 6:20bNIV)

This morning I read about the beheading of John. Herod knew there was something different about John. He challenged Herod’s marriage but still Herod was intrigued. The scripture says, “…he liked to listen to him.” Why? What did John have to say that interested Herod? He was honest about his disapproval of Herod’s lifestyle and yet Herod liked listening to him.

Herod wanted to hear about the Lord. I think something about the way John spoke of the Savior pierced Herod’s heart. Perhaps, in the midst of a life of self-indulgence, Herod heard words of hope. He had power but I believe in his heart he was terribly insecure. The passage goes on to say, “The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her.” (vs. 26) The only reason he agreed to murder John was to appease everyone around him.

Recently, an acquaintance told me a “God-story”. One morning she pushed the wrong buttons on her remote and found herself on a Christian television station. She was hoping to catch the news for a few minutes before leaving for work but instead found a speaker talking about personal Goliaths. The television preacher spoke about big things we think we cannot conquer. They cause worry and fear. The woman telling the story shared about her life at that time. She talked about how she wasn’t sleeping well and was terribly worried about different situations she had to handle. There was something about that message that resonated with her.

I found it interesting that my friend didn’t turn the television to the news when she realized she pushed the wrong buttons. She wanted to hear what God had to say. She believed God wanted her to hear that particular message. I don’t know her spiritual status. I know she believes in God and in that moment, she knew He had something for her. He wanted to calm her nerves and be fearless in facing her day. She went on to tell me she faced her Goliaths and it wasn’t nearly as horrible as she anticipated.

You never know when the Lord will use what you are saying to speak to someone’s heart. Imprisonment didn’t stop John from sharing Jesus. He still continued on his the mission set before him. The television preacher will never know the impact that was made on my friend but he will still preach on. Sometimes, the simplest little words mean the world to someone who wasn’t even looking for God at that moment. He comes to us when we least expect it.

Was Jesus a Rebel?

 

jesushealsAnd He was saying to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Luke 6:5 NASB)

The season of Lent has thrown me into the gospels. I have been reading them every day spending time looking intently at Jesus’ life. How did He act? Who did He spend His time with? I have intentionally been studying His ways and His words. I’ve come to see Jesus in a different light.

Reading over the words describing Jesus’ life has shown me His heart. He honestly cared for people. He dined with sinners, associated with prostitutes and spoke to outcasts. Each time He interacted with the “least of these” He offered them something. He gave health to the sick. He gave forgiveness to the sinner. He gave life to the dead. Over and over Jesus offered love and respect to those the Pharisees deemed useless. The thing that caught my attention was the fact that many of his miracles happened on the Sabbath.

Jesus didn’t let the laws of the day prevent Him from performing miracles. A part of me wondered if He was healing on the Sabbath just to irritate the Pharisees. I’m sure that wasn’t His motivation but it sure did make them look ridiculous. They used the law to imprison and judge people. Jesus came to set the captives free. The Pharisees took from the people while Jesus gave.

What do we see when we look at people? Do we only see their sin or someone needing love? Do we see things through our own hurts and destroyed expectations or through eyes of grace?

Jesus went against the socially accepted way of life. He continually associated with the needy. He went against the religious authority of the day and offered grace. His followers were numerous because He redeemed the imperfect. So the question is asked, “Was Jesus a rebel”? Yes, I believe He was.

They Lost Hope

 

Officer German killed in the line of duty

Officer German killed in the line of duty

bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.(1 Cor. 13:7 NASB)

I had heard the story on the news all week long. An officer was killed by two runaway teenagers. They had left behind suicide notes and were on a mission to end their lives. They came in contact with an officer, who no doubt was trying to help them but instead lost his life. Although I had seen the story on the news, seeing our church parking lot full of police cars made the story real.

I was dropping my son off for youth group when the scene caught my attention. I drove away in tears. So many lives have been altered by this event. In a split second, three lives were ended and numerous others were impacted. My heart grieves for the officer and the family left behind. I am also saddened that two young people felt like life wasn’t worth living anymore. They felt compelled to end their very young lives. They had no hope.

I don’t personally know any of the people involved in this tragedy. All I know is the end result. One died a hero. The others died as criminals. And it makes me sad. It hurts my heart because two young people had lost hope. They couldn’t find any reason whatsoever to continue living. They saw no future. They were not excited for things to come. Their only plan was to end their lives. Their hopelessness breaks my heart.

 I wonder how many people we come in contact with each and every day that have lost hope. And I wonder what to do about it. I just don’t know. I know there will always be those who reject the hope of Christ but we can’t quit trying. We have to continue to be a light wherever we go. It’s important to be kind and loving and considerate. But more importantly, we need to share the gospel. I’m not sure what this means in my life but I am going to pray about it. I feel like I’m not making enough of an impact. It doesn’t matter how many people we influence, there are always more who need to know the love of the SAVIOR.

Father, with so many things distracting us, help us to come back to our first love. Show us how to share your love with others. Open our eyes to those around us who need you and give us love in our hearts for those who feel hopeless.

Brandon Goode  Alex Hollinghurst

Brandon Goode
Alex Hollinghurst

 

A Centurion’s Humility

centurion

Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. (Luke 7:6-7 NASB)

I was reading the story of the centurion and his ill servant this morning. The passage above caught my attention for a couple of reasons. The centurion, an important man in the Roman army, was compassionate toward his servant and humble before the Lord. A man I would expect to be arrogant and self-righteous was respectful and genuinely concerned.

It’s not often someone in authority would hold a mere peon in high regard. He had heard the stories of Jesus and felt compelled to intercede on his servant’s behalf. His servant could not approach Jesus himself, so the centurion asked for him. He treasured his servant. He truly cared for him.

I find the loyalty of the centurion so endearing. It seems to be a dying quality. We live in a time (so did Jesus) where everyone wants something from you. People are kind only to persuade or manipulate. I think that’s why Jesus was considered so radical. He came to forgive and offer grace. He was kind and compassionate. He went to those who were considered unworthy. He asked for nothing and offered eternal life.

The story continues on to say Jesus marveled at the man’s faith. I marvel at his tender heart. Somewhere along the way the centurion developed a deep love for his fellow man. When he looked at his servant he saw a person who mattered. He saw someone deserving respect. He ached for the suffering.

Lord may we be inspired by the centurion’s faith and convicted by his humility. Amen!