Tag Archives: Jesus

The Certainty of the Cross – Part 2

Wisdom from a country preacher series

– Matt. 16:21-28

Easter

The cross is an eternal symbol of an unadjusted personality in an evil world.

Daniel wouldn’t adjust to an evil world. John the Baptist wouldn’t, Paul wouldn’t and Jesus wouldn’t.

An Indian Chief sent four young Braves up a mountain to test their strength, bring back something to prove how high they got. The first brought back a spruce branch, the second brought a twig from a pine, the third brought an alpine shrub. And the fourth came back exhausted, feet bruised and cut, carrying nothing. He said, “I saw the sea!”

Oh, how we need people to see the sea! To see that holy, uncompromising life full of grace and truth. When you know the truth, the truth will set you free, free from the evils we deplore, set free to be all God intends you to be.

But it involves the certainty of a cross, believing the Jesus is the Crist and has the words to eternal life.

What is the sea? What is it Jesus went to the cross for us to see? By getting acquainted with Jesus we get a new concept of God. John says, “God is love.”

Love gives itself for others. Jesus is saying in verses 24-26, “I love you, I must go to Jerusalem and die for you.”

Jesus was certain of the cross. But he knew by his death on the cross, not for his sins but ours, we could have the Holy Spirit to melt our hard hearts so that we could love one another as God loves us.

How long has it been since you said or heard, “I am sorry.” “I am wrong.”  “You are right.” “I love you.” ” I forgive you.”

The certainty of the cross. There is a cross for everyone.

The Certainty of the Cross – Part 1

Wisdom from a country preacher series 

– Matt. 16:21-28

I feel privilegd to be able to share one of Dad’s Lenten sermons this Easter. Part 1 today, watch for part 2 tomorrow.

Good Friday

Think about the cross this Good Friday

Just as soon as Peter and the disciples  acknowledged who Jesus was he started telling them about his and their cross. The cross was a certainty.

In verse 22, Peter says, “Never, Lord!”

There was a great preacher who said, “I can bear much but there are four things I hate like poison: 1) tobacco smoke, 2) lice, 3) garlic, 4) the cross. Like Peter.

So many believe Christians should have things better, easier.

This scene probably occurred about six months before his crucifixion. Why did Jesus set his face to go to the cross? For the joy set before him he endured the cross, despised the shame, sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:2)

He could have compromised a little. Kept quiet, not been so outspoken, not stirred up the Jews. He could have gone to Syria. Did he believe in a divine rescue like Abraham and Isaac?

See verse 21, he knew his fate. Legend has it he picked up a beam in the carpenter shop one day and a shadow was cast of him on a cross. He seemed to know his fate. Right after the transfiguration, the Father began talking to him about his death. He told his disciples, “I, if I be lifted up will draw all men unto me.”

He wouldn’t let his friends talk him out of doing what he knew to be the will of God (vs. 22-23). he had to be about the Father’s business. He had a mission in life and so do we.

He never made personal comfort his ambition.

He never made security his ambition.

He never left relationships deter him.

A cross is certain when we follow Christ. Sometimes we fail to take up our cross. We fall in step with the world, alter our course to avoid being different. We may fail to change habits that ruin our witness.

You may say, “I don’t have a cross to carry.” Well, maybe everyone around you has a cross to carry because you always have to have your way.

The unbelieving world tries to squeeze us into its mold.

The cross is an eternal symbol of an unadjusted personality in an evil world.

Part 2 continued Saturday. Please share thoughts above, just under the title.

Solution For the Troubled Heart

Wisdom from a Country Preacher series                                                                 

(Because of the high interest in my dad’s sermon notes, I decided the first Faith Friday post should be from his messages.)

Today we are talking about a troubled heart. I’m not talking about our heart that beats 70 times per minute, not the one you can have a leaking valve in or weak muscle. We’ve got surgeries and pills for that, in fact, we have medicines today for most everything — headache, pain, colds. There’s no pill for the troubled heart. The heart that is troubled is really our mind and emotions, our thoughts.

Notice John 14:1. Jesus tells his disciples, Let not your heart be troubled. Hmmm, Let not. So there is something we can do when troubles come and our minds run off with us. Verse 2, Believe in God.

The news, magazines, and talk shows try to tell us nowadays that our trouble comes from where we are raised, our parents, our affluence. Blame someone else. Jesus says we are responsible for our troubled heart. He says, don’t be troubled, believe in God.

What God? The God that created this universe, the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in Him we see God.

Jesus says in verse 2 to also believe Him. Believe in God, believe also in me. Follow him. Jesus taught us to believe in God as He did as He let them nail Him to the cross. Verses23-27 says,                                                                                                        23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. 25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.  26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

When we believe in Him, He gives peace — even in troubles, even when we have a troubled heart. There’s no feeling as that of loneliness, being alone, unloved, forsaken. It’s the heart of an unbeliever. Jesus lives in us as Christians. We are never alone. He is our best friend. He says, I will come to you and be with you always.

We don’t have to endure troubles alone. Jesus is closer than a friend. He is there to assure us, comfort us, give us guidance, strength and hope.

Let not your heart be troubled — Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.

 

 

 

The Gift of Pondering

Red Lodge, MTOk, so it’s been way too long since we have posted. Maybe we (I) haven’t been
doing what our blog name implies, pondering faith.

Got too busy, too distracted, to take time to ponder.

Today is a good day to begin again.
It’s so good that God doesn’t condemn when we take those ‘sabbaticals’ .  He
patiently waits until we tune into Him again. Oh, I’ve come to Him since
February, that’s for sure, but more with my agenda than spending quiet time,
silent time to hear what He would say to me.

Imagine if I hiked a tall mountain to speak to a wise person and when I got there all I did was talk, then left to make my descent.  I didn’t spend any time sitting and listening or
asking questions and waiting for an answer or enter conversation? That would be
a waste of time and energy, wouldn’t it.

I feel like I do that a lot. Spend all my time asking God for this and that, but no time actually allowing Him to communicate with me.

On this long holiday weekend, maybe it’s a good time to sit and listen to the wind blow, the birds sing, ponder God’s written Word (the Bible) and allow God to speak.

Ode to Potatoes (A Poem for Lent)

English: Potatoes lyonnaiseOh potato I love you
No matter how you look

You can be baked
You can be loaded
You can be scalloped or mashed

Oh potato I love you
No matter how you look

You can be french fried
You can be hashed
You can even be chipped

But today dear potato
I’m laying you aside
For something more dear
Calls me to draw near

You are gone from my life
For the next 40 days
May each thought of you
Cause me to focus on Jesus’s ways

Happy Fastnacht (aka Fasnacht) Day!

Sugar doughnuts</p><p>639057When we moved to Lancaster County, PA six years ago, we were welcomed with some interesting local sayings from the heavy PA Dutch influence here, and a whole new day of celebration we had never heard of – Fastnacht Day!

My husband works for a large farm equipment dealer in the area, so he really does rub shoulders with the people who have lived in this region all their lives, some families living and farming on homesteads dating back to revolutionary times.  He came home our first year here with hole-less donuts and explained the tradition to me.

For those never hearing of the term, it’s actually Donut Day!  Well, donut day with a purpose.  Fastnacht Day occurs the day before Lent begins.  In order to prepare for the beginning of Lent and so as not to waste anything, the day before Lent women would make hole-less donuts called fastnachts to use all the lard, shortening, etc. that they would be ‘giving up’ for Lent.

So, I am sitting here today eating my fastnacht, not because I’m giving up lard or shortening for Lent, but because it’s tradition.  But it does get me to thinking what I might give up in this 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday.  Some say it’s not a necessary thing to give anything up, that it’s all tradition, but I think it’s a good spiritual discipline to observe.  We live in a culture where we have everything we need or want and then some.  It seems good to deny ourselves of a few things or one big thing that we really like in order to draw our minds to Jesus and what He denied himself of for us.

Happy Fastnacht Day and why not take a few moments today and do a little soul-searching.  Make a plan to give something up for Lent this year.  Then let whatever you give up be a reminder to pray or read the Bible or a devotional.  It might just draw you closer to Jesus and prepare you for a great Easter celebration.

Contentment and the What ifs of Life

the grass is greenerContentment.
All of us want it, yet it seems like so many of us don’t have it. Why are we unable to accept and make the most of the circumstances we all find ourselves in? I know I so often get caught in the ‘What if’s’ and ‘If only’s’. ‘What if I would have decided to go to a different college? What if I had gone with that major instead of this major? What if I would’ve said this or that, would it have changed things?
If only I could do that over again, things would be different.’ I think all of us do this at one time or another. If only we had that job. If only we made that kind of money. We think if only we knew certain people or had certain things then life might be more like we envisioned it and how we wanted it to be. We are so focused on wondering how our lives might have been better and we can sometimes be caught in the rut of jumping from one level of discontentment to another.
How do we really become content? I heard contentment defined as freedom from the relentless pursuit of more. And I think there truly is freedom in giving up that pursuit, in remembering what we already have and the amazing people that surround us. We can disillusion ourselves into thinking that the grass might be a little greener..if only. The truth is that we will never find real fulfillment from anything life has to offer; our true contentment and fulfillment only comes through having hope in Christ.

Five Unusual Signs of Blessing

‘Gblessing stoneod bless you.’  I’ve said that to people, have you?  What do we mean when we say that?  I think I’ve meant – ‘may everything go your way’.

But some of the ways Jesus described blessing in the Bible seem to be a little different.  In Matthew 5, in what is called the Beatitudes, Jesus refers to a whole range of people being blessed that I wouldn’t think of having a blessing  —-

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit
  • Blessed are those who mourn
  • Blessed are the meek
  • Blessed are the peacemakers
  • Blessed are you when people insult you…because of me

Jesus puts us in a topsy-turvy world with these words.  Maybe blessing will bring about circumstances that humble us, so that we are poor in spirit.  Maybe to be blessed will bring about mourning, so we can understand comfort.  Maybe to be blessed will bring about strife, so we can learn to be peacemakers.

Our self-centeredness makes us want exactly what we want.  What God is about is having a close relationship with Him and making us more like Him   Sometimes that means having the opposite of what we think will be a blessing occur to us so that the blessing can follow.

So, when you are going through troubles it might just be God blessing you, you just haven’t seen the end results yet.

I think I’m an addict

using-ipadThese days I find myself online a lot, and when I say a lot I mean A LOT!  With wifi from cell phones, I can be plugged in 24-7.  My husband says I have an IV hookup to the internet.

What started as a habit has over time become, dare I say it, maybe even an addiction.  I’m always checking the latest postings on Facebook, tweets on twitter, e-mails, and LinkedIn updates.  Not to mention homes for sale, the latest sale at Coldwater Creek or the LOFT.  There’s endless things I can do and look up!

But my addiction really hit me over the Christmas season when family was home and I found myself physically present with them, but forgoing interaction to surf the net and check on Facebook to see what a ‘friend’ that I haven’t physically seen for six years was posting. 

My kids had made special arrangements to be here, spend time with us, and I was absorbed in my iPad.  I think we all can relate.  I’m sure we’ve all felt devalued by someone we were visiting or talking with because it seemed they were more interested in their phone than chatting face to face. I see it everywhere, in restaurants where families sit silently staring at cell phones instead of engaging in conversation, or before and sometimes during meetings where colleagues and friends sit glaring at hand held screens.  It makes you want to say, ‘Yoohoo, I’m here, am I not important enough to talk to or listen to?’ 

When I think about it, I’m really kind of a poor example of Jesus in that respect.  Jesus was and is always fully present.  He’s not distracted by other things.  He noticed the guy that climbed the tree to get a look at Him (Luke 19).  He even knew when a woman touched the hem of his coat ( Matt. 9).    He didn’t only know, He was fully present, stopped and entered into conversation.  I think it’s because he had His cell phone put away:).  He lived totally in the moment.

I’m going to ask Jesus to help me be more like Him and I’m going to try to be more like Him; I’m going to make sure I put my iPad and phone away when I’m with someone.  I’m going to look more attentively to someone who might be reaching out in a seemingly minor way or crossing my path because they may need to spend some time talking.  I’m going to try to live fully in the moment.

Who’s batting for you?

Why is it that I only show true reliance on Jesus when I’m going through rocky times?  I’ve been working on processing an answer to this difficult and disturbing question for the last few days.  A few months back, I experienced a personal tragedy in my life that sent me running (really, beelining) to the Lord for the comfort, direction, and peace that only He could bring.  As a result, He pressed on me the desire to join a women’s group at my church, to meet one-on-one with the group leader at Panera’Baseball pics, and to start building friendships with some of the other Christian women at my church.  Boy, did I feel good!  After the study ended and I found myself in a better place spiritually and emotionally, my outings started becoming more sparse and even my time spent in Bible reading, prayer, and devotion started sinking depressingly low.  Looking back,  I’m forced to ask myself the question “Why?”.

The answer can be summed up in two words: independence and conceit.  Dictionary.com defines independence as “freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.”  I must admit that I’m naturally a very independent, self-sufficient person, to the point where my husband has jokingly commented that I don’t even need him around!  That comes from many years of living on my own before getting married.  When times are hunky-dory, I find myself relying on me, myself, and I for just about everything.  But when times aren’t so swell and life seems to be throwing me curve balls, I find that I need someone bigger, better, wiser than myself to step in for me and to ‘play those innings.’

If I can wholeheartedly admit that Jesus is my answer when life throws those curve balls, and if He’s as wise, as big, and as strong as I know He is and is the provider of all good things (James 1:17), then why wouldn’t I ALWAYS want Him batting for me?  Really, I think I could do life better than He can?!?!  Wow!  Sounds a little conceited, doesn’t it?

As I start into another new year, my prayer (for myself and for anyone reading this) is that we will learn how to truly rely on Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the Wonderful Counselor, the Provider, not only when times are bad, but when they’re good as well.