Tag Archive: Jesus


2013-12-17 04.54.38

The Rise of Opposition

“By indicating that he has the divine authority to forgive sins, Jesus naturally arouses immediate reaction from the Scribes and Pharisees.  Since they correctly believe that only God can forgive sins, they reject the possibility that Jesus himself is divine and conclude instead that he is guilty of blasphemy.

In addition to the written law given through Moses, the Pharisees accept as equally binding the oral traditions of the rabbis, which traditions have evolved into a highly ritualistic set of religious observances.  So when Jesus and his disciples violate some of these traditional rules, the Pharisees are highly offended.

Despite growing opposition, Jesus continues to go about teaching and performing miracles, yet almost consciously without fanfare.  As if to underscore the urgency of his mission in the face of opposition, Jesus appoints 12 of his disciples as specially chosen apostles to aid him in his ministry.  With their added support, Jesus continues to attract even greater crowds from among the common people.”

Read:  Matthew 9:9-17, Mark 2:13-28, Luke 5:27-39, John 5:1-3 & 5-47, Matthew 12:1-21, Luke 6:1-19, Mark 3:1-19

All quotations taken from The Daily Bible.

Visit of the Magi and Flight into Egypt

“Despite lowly beginnings, news of Jesus’ birth spreads quickly throughout Judea and even beyond its borders.  Matthew records the account of a visit to Bethlehem by certain philosopher-priests, or Magi, who are prompted to travel the great distance to Jerusalem because of a star which appeared at the time of Jesus’ birth.  Joseph and Mary find accommodations in a house and it is in this house that the Magi’s gifts are offered to the newborn ‘King of the Jews’.

King Herod is alarmed by the Magi’s visit because he believes Jesus’ birth poses a political threat to his reign.  Because of this, Herod sends his soldiers to Bethlehem to kill all male children who might have been born within the time frame suggested by the Magi’s calculations.

As will be seen, however, Joseph will be warned about the slaughter and will quickly depart for Egypt, where he and Mary and the child Jesus will stay until after Herod’s own death.”

Read:  Matthew 2:1-18

From Infancy to Manhood

“After their brief stay in Egypt, Joseph and Mary return to their home in Nazareth of Galilee, where Joseph resumes his trade as a carpenter.  At the age of 12, Jesus is taken to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration.  He has reached the point at which a Jewish boy is soon to become a ‘son of the law,’ which law he is expected to learn and obey.  But Jesus’ understanding of the law is far greater than that of other boys his age.  After the Passover celebration is completed, Jesus’ parents lose track of his whereabouts until they discover him in profound conversations with the learned rabbis.”

Read:  Matthew 2:19-23, Luke 2:39-52

“Little more is known of Jesus’ first 30 years.  It is known that Jesus has at least four brothers — James, Joses, Judas (Jude), and Simon — and also some sisters, who are not named.  Because there is no further reference to Joseph, it appears that he probably died while Jesus was still a relatively young man.  For many years, then, Jesus evidently has provided for his family by working as a carpenter, having learned the trade from his father.

Now at about the age of 30 — the Jewish age of spiritual leadership — Jesus turns from the work of supporting his earthly family to the task of spiritually feeding the whole family of man.”

All quotations taken from The Daily Bible.

Good Friday

Good-Friday-Wallpaper-19

Lent. Really?!!

ash wednesday

So, I have been challenged.

Today is “Ash Wednesday” in the Catholic religion, which kicks off the season of “Lent.”  All I remember (from my growing up years in the Catholic church) about Ash Wednesday was when I attended an Ash Wednesday service with a friend of mine while I was at college in LaCrosse.  I went up front, they schmeared some “ash” on my forehead in a cross shape…and I heard that you would pretty much go to hell if you wiped it off.

Well, I wiped it off and headed out to the bars!!  Not a terribly moving or meaningful experience, obviously.

drink
And, all I know about Lent is that you had to give something up for a set amount of time.  I never understood that.  I remember a dear friend in High school giving up caffeine one time.  That just didn’t make sense to me… why would you do that??

What’s the point?!!

I noticed people referring to Lent on Facebook.  It intrigued me.  Especially after a Christian friend of mine said something about taking part in it.  I always thought Lent was some silly thing Catholics did…that it didn’t really matter…

So I did some research of my own: Lent

“Lent, in some Christian denominations, is the forty-day-long liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter”

Ahhhh….

“The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert, where according to the Bible he endured temptation by Satan”

Hmmmm…

“The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer—through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial—for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

okay now I get it

Obviously, many people do not practice Lent, and see it as an obscure tradition that the Church practices without Biblical merit…but according to the Bible, Jesus told his disciples that:

“…the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.”  Matthew 9:15

So, we are to set aside time to reflect and thank our Father in Heaven for what He has done for us.  A time for us to sacrifice (whether it be large or small) so that we might be reminded, and reflect upon WHY we have been placed on this earth.

What an incredible chance to show our creator the love we have for Him!!

So, on that note…for this season of Lent…holding you all as my witnesses…I will be taking part in 40 days of sacrifice.

(Lord, please let this time go quickly by…)

I will be giving in to my own self-sacrifice and will be giving up…

Drum roll please!

diet cokeSODA!

Yeah, yeah…baby steps.

Would someone please warn McDonald’s that they won’t have to order as much Diet Coke?!!

To you, that may not seem like a big enough sacrifice…but to me, quite frankly, it’s huge!!  I am interested to see how God will use this time…how He might change me, and ultimately bring me closer to Him.

That’s what I long for, above all…

Merry Christmas

Magic

 

“for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”   Luke 2:11

Tristan is Start Student this week in his 1st grade class, which means he’s top dog.  He gets to fill out a “Read All About Me!” poster, bring in a favorite book and photos to display in the special Star Student spot, he gets to be first in line for lunch as well as lead when going to other classes and then on Friday, when he shares his photos and poster with the class, he gets to read his favorite book aloud.

When T found out he was going to be Star Student last Friday, he began preparing what he would bring in come Monday which included the book…

Great book…don’t get me wrong, but honestly I’ve never seen him read it.  I figured he knew I would be happy with his choice because it’s a story about baby Jesus and we encourage our kids to share their love for Christ with everyone.  Besides, after the whole Sneak & Share cross incident a couple months ago (They won’t understand) I just figured he was trying to do the “right thing.”  So I asked him,

“This is your favorite book?”

“Yes.” He said.

“It is?!!” I questioned.

“Yes.” He repeated.

“What’s it about?!”  I quizzed…and he told me.  Everything!  He knew the story!  Okay then, I thought.

Looking back now I should have realized how much that book meant to him, especially when Monday morning rolled around and the only thing he remembered to bring to school with him was the book, but I didn’t give it a second thought until a few days passed.

On Wednesday I received an email from Tristan’s teacher:

“… Due to school policy, we won’t be able to read that book to the whole class due to its content related to Christmas and religion.  I’m sorry.”

Honestly, it wasn’t a shocker.  Sure it was a bummer but T’s a reader and I figured he had plenty of favorite stories to choose from.  I’m sure he won’t care too much about it, and I said as much to his teacher.

Jax, on the other hand had more to say:

“… To not give Tristan the same opportunity as his fellow students (to have his favorite book read) because of the book’s religious content is nothing short of religious discrimination.  A six year old will not understand the (errant) political motivations behind the decision, only that he is being treated differently because he believes in God! …”

“Oh gees,”  I thought, “poor girl.”  Tristan’s teacher is a 2nd year teacher…quite young, and I was embarrassed a bit by Jax’s response.  I agree with him of course, but like Tristan’s teacher I figured this wasn’t a huge deal and Tristan could just bring in another book.  She was just following the “rules” after all.

Now this really is a mess, I thought.

It wasn’t long before Tristan came bounding through the door, fresh off the bus yelling,

“Moooooooooom!”

He told me about the book and that they can’t read it in class.

“Why?”  I said testing him to see how much he knew about it.

“She said I have ‘plenty of favorite stories’ and to bring in another book,”  eerily echoing the exact phrase I said to his teacher, “but I don’t!” He exclaimed.

“Sure you do, T!” I said.

“No, I don’t!  That’s my favorite!  The other kids got to read their books…”

His words hit me like a blow to the gut, I felt them cut straight to my heart.

 

I never liked kids.  Growing up I never enjoyed babysitting or being around kids and was a common belief among my friends that either I would be last to have kids or not have any at all.

I always thought they were annoying; smelly, whiny, loud and foolish.

After I accepted Christ as my Savior, when I heard a person (including my husband) share their story about coming to know Christ at the age of three, four or five I thought they were nuts.  There was no way a decision of that magnitude could be made by a child.  They were just spewing what they had heard their parents say…about “that one time they gave their heart to Jesus.”

But even God’s word tells us that it’s the the innocence and unwaivering eyes of a child that we will know truth and have faith.

“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”   Mark 10:15

Now that I have children of my own (I can still hear the collective and shocked gasp from my friends) I fear I still don’t truly get how much they understand.  Children love and trust unequivocally.  Their thinking is simple and sincere and has not yet been corrupted by others.  They don’t need to have answers to the mysteries of the universe.  It is enough to know that God loves us and provides forgiveness for our sins.

God holds children in high esteem.

“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.    Matthew 18:3-6

So should we.

 

Have you approached God like that of a child?  Forget everything this world has taught you.

When you were little, think back to a time when you were confused or scared and the only place you knew to turn was your Dad.  You didn’t know how he would fix things, you just knew he would.  You would lift your arms up to him and he would scoop you up, hold you tight and everything would be better.

That’s what God does for us.

It’s when we approach Him, nowhere else to turn… arms outstretched and nothing to offer… asking for forgiveness and to help make everything better…

We need to be that child needing only His love, His protection, His forgiveness…

 

He’s waiting.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”   John 1:1-2, 14

Words are powerful.  They have the ability to question, exclaim, describe, uplift, encourage, comfort, or destroy.  I have always loved words and enjoyed using them; writing, singing, studying, talking, you name it, and once I became a Christ follower and started reading scripture…oh my, those words!

Scripture is alive.  It breathes and can affect a person like a sucker punch, hitting directly at the heart.  Words found in the Bible not only uplift, encourage and comfort, but they offer guidance and truth.

I very much enjoy spending time reading God’s Word.  Don’t get me wrong, it can be very confusing and foreign at times but if I continue reading, God always reveals a phrase, a story or a truth that I can grasp… and then Scripture sings.

God opened my eyes to the power of words when I tried to break the habit of saying “Oh my gosh.”  Instead, I made a point to say “Oh my word” but found, as you can read in my post: OMG!, that using the phrase “Oh my word” is almost worse because as scripture tells us, the “WORD” is God…and more specifically, Jesus himself.

The area that I struggle with words most is memorization.  My kids attend AWANA, the youth program at our church, where they are taught to hide God’s word in their hearts. (Psalm 119:11)

Scripture memorization is vital in our Christian walk.  For instance, verses of praise help us appreciate God’s creation.  Verses of encouragement help when we’re feeling depressed, sad, or lonely.  God’s promises equip us to recognize His miracles in our life, get us through challenging times at work, at home or at school, they keep us strong against temptation and prepare us to share our faith with others.

God revealed to me through a friend last night in our small group how effective memorization truly is.  If John 1:1 is true, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. then why would we not memorize?  Psalm 119:11 says “Your word I have treasured in my heart…”

If Jesus truly is the Word, then when we memorize Scripture are we literally placing Jesus and His power into our hearts?

Definitely makes memorizing a little more interesting, doesn’t it??

 

What can I say?  With four kids the first day of school is always a whirlwind!  This was the third year in a row that I had to leave before the kids left for school…so I didn’t get to do the Happy-Mother’s-Day!-the-kids-are-finally-gone happy dance.

Hmph.

But what a wonderful greeting when I got home from work!  Backpacks and papers strewn all over the house, shoes flung haphazardly teetering upon the couch and coffee table, the kids playing video games and practically grunting their hello-mom-I-missed-you-so-much-today greeting as I walked in.

Yup, feel the love.

I gathered all the school papers; news, calendars, lists and noticed Tristan, my 1st grader, had the most papers and stuff in his backpack.  It was astonishing how much stuff he came home with on his first day of school, and after I took out all that he had left in it from LAST YEAR, he didn’t actually have so much.

Just sayin’.

One of the papers Tristan brought home was titled Sneak & Share.  Each kid is to bring in a special item from home to share in class, but the item is to be brought in a bag so the kids won’t be able to see it.

“So what’s something special that you want to bring in?”  I asked.

He responded; “I want to share something I have with me always but it’s in my heart.”

“What’s that?”  I asked

“God…”

I was in awe.  I am so envious of that boldness.  I love that he doesn’t have to worry about what kids think.  In first grade they are accepting no matter what you look like, who your parents voted for, who your favorite football team is, or what you believe.  He could be himself and share his heart without worry of ridicule.

My heart flew.  Oh what a joy it is to know your child loves God and wants to share Him with others!

“…but what do I put in the bag?”  He asked.

I suggested a little Bible and he turned his nose up, then I said maybe a cross or something else and Tristan’s eyes lit up.  He ran over to a little popsicle cross he made at church a couple years ago that we had sitting on the thermostat on the wall.

He brought it over and plopped it in the bag with a huge grin on his face.

My heart could have burst I was so excited and proud of him.  “So what are you going to say?”  I asked, and he stood there for a moment the smile slowly falling from his face.  He was silent for quite a while then he said,

“I don’t want to bring this.  I want to bring a toy.”

My heart fell.  “Why?”  I asked puzzled.

Tears began streaming down Tristan’s cheeks as he struggled for a response.

“Why don’t you want to bring the cross?”  I prodded gently.

Tristan began sobbing and through his distorted, tear stained face he said,

“Because they won’t understand.”

Boy, do I see myself in him.

How many times do I back down?

How many times have I missed an opportunity to share God with others because of that EXACT thought?

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”   2 Timothy 1:7

I have been in that exact position.  In fact, I wrote about it in my post:
Origin of Species ~Charles Darwin

But what I learned from that experience is precisely what Jax told Tristan;

When we want to share Him with others, that’s God’s whisper…
“tell them about Me.”

When we second guess and begin to question, that’s the evil one suggesting…
“they won’t understand.”

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”   John 14:27

What has God asked you to do but you still believe the evil one’s lies…

“They won’t understand!”
“You aren’t good enough!”
“You don’t know enough!”

“…do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”   Matthew 10:19-20 (niv)

Don’t wait another day!

God has given us the Good News, no…the BEST News!  Stand up!  Go out and share it!

O.M.G!

It seems recently the “OMG” craze has started to get to me.  Now, I understand the context and ease of use when a person, typically a teenage girl, is shocked, surprised, or disgusted…

In fact I used to say the actual phrase when I was a kid and didn’t realize, or didn’t care, the significance of it.  Plus, I grew up in the 80’s (’nuff said) but with all of the “I’m sure,” “totally,” and “gag me”‘s being thrown around, it was just another valley girl phrase to add to our repertoire.

That’s how the phrase is being used today, and I get it if you don’t know Christ, haven’t been churched or taught respect for the Lord, but it drives me batty when Christians, the people who are aware of what “OMG” stands for and the respect and reverence it holds and who would never be caught dead saying “Oh my God!” aloud, are ok using an acronym.

HOW is that ok?

Growing up I was taught that saying “Oh my God” was wrong.  I got in trouble if I said it and many times got in trouble if someone wrongly heard me say “Oh my gosh.”

In fact, I remember one time I was at Gram’s house helping her and a frustrated “Oh my god” flew out of my mouth and she called me on it.  Of course I wasn’t going to admit it so I nonchalantly said ‘No, of course I didn’t say that!  I said ‘Oh my gaaahhh’.”

Mmmm-hmmm…

Now when I was with my friends, of course I used that phrase as well as other much more colorful exclamatories, but the only time I said a swear word in front of my parents was when my Mom and I were driving out of a busy parking ramp at the Milwaukee airport.

I was the only one who could see around a huge cement column and I didn’t see the car that was speeding toward us until I told her it was ok to go.  She stepped on the gas, I then saw the car and said “OH SH**!!” which caused her to slam on the brakes, the car avoided us and it was never spoken of again.

So really in that instance it saved a life.  Yup, definitely a Martha Stewart “Good Thing”…

I continued saying “Oh my gosh” for many years as I became a Christian, got married and had children of my own.  Many of my friends would say a much gentler version that I remembered old ladies saying as I was growing up: “Oh my word” and never did I think that phrase would come from my tongue, until one day I heard my two year old daughter say “oh my gosh!”

It sounded a bit different coming out of her mouth, so I nipped that in the bud!

It didn’t too take long before I had an “Oh my word” habit formed and used it for years, and one Sunday I heard a sermon based in John.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”   John 1:1

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”   John 1:14

I realized at that moment that saying “Oh my Word” was existentially worse!!  I was cursing Jesus himself, the One who saved me, the One who died in my place!!

No more!

I still struggle with not saying “Oh my Word,” habits are hard to break, but I am trying.  I heard another phrase recently that I’m considering… “OH MY GIDDLEYDONK”

…which turns out I mis-heard Juliet say in the movie Gnomeo & Juliet.  She actually says “Oh my giddy aunt” [cue: english accent]

so I’m still entertaining the “giddleydonk” idea.

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”   Exodus 20:7 

“You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.”   Leviticus 19:12

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