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Magic Tricks – An Easter Story

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6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

Matthew 28:6

I am always impressed to hear how pastors retell the same old Bible stories in different ways and with different perspectives every year. The Christmas and Easter stories are the most widely known stories by Christians and non Christians alike.

Today I was touched and impacted greatly by the Easter sermon. It has never occured to me that the stone was not removed so that Jesus could get out. It was removed so that everyone could see in and to eventually learn that He had risen! It wasn’t a magic trick. It was the resurrection! Mary surely didn’t believe at first that Jesus was alive again. Surely she doubted until she actually saw the risen Savior. We all would. Any normal person would think that His body was stolen until we saw Him in person! When she saw Jesus, she knew He was (and is) the risen Savior! What a glorious sight that must have been!

What then shall we say of ourselves as Christians on Easter? Are we resurrected with Christ? Is that what people see? It never occurred to me really until today’s sermon that people don’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ NOT because it’s so unbelievable but because they don’t see the resurrection in US . If you believe that Christ is your Savior who has rescued you from sin and slavery and death, your life should reflect that. But really, we so often do not reflect that we are Christians.

If you know our Easter story from last year then you will be happy to know that this year’s is SOOOOO much better even than that!  Our lives, our family, our marriage….all resurrected!  My husband…resurrected!  There are not many people in our lives that truly know what our family has been through, the hurt, the pain, the hatred, the ugliness that was our marriage and our lives.  Those of you that do know and those of you that don’t, know this – God is most definitely alive and real and Jesus most definitely saved us!  I know that He heals, that He changes, that He loves.  And if He can do it for us, I know that He can for anyone.

Here’s our Easter picture.  The girls just simply did not want to cooperate for photos today so I went ahead and posted our funniest one!

And the reason we are the above mentioned family:

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Satisfaction Guaranteed

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:12-13

Our pastor preached on evangalism today and on being good stewards…planting, sowing, and harvesting. It’s something I feel, as Christians, we generally have problems doing. We don’t evangalize enough. And when we do, it often seems awkward, forceful, and unloving (I can say this after having been on the receiving end in the past).  We don’t use our talents and treasures enough for God’s glory and to bring people to Him.  We often don’t serve our church as well as we could.  For me, I can say it’s primarily that I’m preoccupied…with me that is.

I’m preoccupied with my satisfaction, my contentment.  How can I share the love of Christ, my gifts, my talents, my money, and how can I be a good steward for the Lord if I’m preoccupied with the life I don’t have?  Our pastor, during the same sermon, mentioned that if we are in God’s will, then we will be satisfied and content.  We will be happy with where we are in our lives and what we have.  When he said that I immediately had flashbacks.  Flashbacks of envious moments at friends’ houses because they had something I don’t, of times when I didn’t invite someone over because I was scared of what they might think of my home, flashbacks of so many lost opportunities to spread the news that we can live forever in Christ free of our sins!!

If I strive to look to the Lord, follow the Lord, love the Lord, and love and serve others, my satisfaction is guaranteed.  I can be content with my tiny home, old appliances, creaky floors, and drafty doors.  I can be satisfied that some mysteries of God will not be unveiled until I see him.  I don’t need to have everything or know everything.  I don’t need to keep up with the Jones’s.  I don’t need to be a scholar or well known or have a high paying job.  I do need to remain in God’s will and be content with the blessings he’s provided.  And when that is the case, I can more fully serve my family, my church, my community, my world.  I can better reach out.  I’ll be more apt to give away what I have to those who might need it more without thought of whether I’ll be satisfied without it.  I’ll open my home more quickly and eagerly.  I’ll develop better relationships because I won’t be worried about what they have that I don’t or what I desire that may prevent me from becoming friends with them.  My satisfaction in Christ is guaranteed…no returns, refunds or exchanges needed.

My husband argues that family comes first and that we are serving Christ by serving our family, and I do agree with him.  However, my next thought is, think of the example we are sending our children if we are not serving our brothers and sisters in Christ and the lost to the fullest of our potential!  Isn’t it our job not only to strive to be like Christ but to teach our children to do it also?  In serving the church and the lost, we ARE serving our families (and Christ)!  I want to strive to be like Paul is in the Philippians verse.  I want to be content in every circumstance of my life because I know that in my contentment in Christ, I can do all things.  I can be a good steward, serving my family, my church, and my world.

Do I Trust Him? A Look At Whether I Really Trust God

So, some of you may know that my husband and I have entered into counseling. We’ve only had two sessions but we think a lot has been accomplished. There have definitely been ups and downs, but we are both seemingly committed to the Lord and to reconciliation…or are we?

On this journey so far, I have sinfully felt that I’m the one who knows it all. What could my newly saved husband possibly teach me? I’ve been a believer for, like, ever. I’m the one who’s been attending church without him, who’s been dedicated to seeking more ways to serve the Lord and my church, who’s made friends and networked (a small feat within itself…at least for me). I’m the one who’s been studying the Bible, seeking counsel, and striving to be a godly wife and mother. How is it, then, that I missed something? I mean not just any something, but something big.

I’ve struggled with forgiveness for a while now. I want to forgive my husband, but I just haven’t been able to muster it up. I’ve prayed for it, but nothing’s happened. A few days ago my husband and I had a conversation about forgiveness in lieu of a pamphlet we were given to read for counseling “homework”. Note that we both read it. But somehow I missed the page that talked about forgiveness. So when my husband told ME that it’s an action first not a feeling, I indignantly retorted that he was wrong and that I couldn’t just say the words “I forgive you”. I had to “FEEL” like I forgive him. I mean, HELLO, Husband, where have you been? Right? Umm, no.

After a little more research into this subject, I have found a lot of things out about forgiveness.
1. Forgiveness is a command from God (Luke 11:4).
2. Forgiving someone doesn’t necessarily mean we forget but more that we don’t make the offender continue to suffer the consequences of his/her sin.
3. Not obeying the command to forgive is blatantly not trusting in the Lord. He gives us this command because by obeying His command (and all of them) we will be blessed.
4. Forgiveness is the only way to reconcile. Reconciliation helps the offender experience God’s grace practically through the healing of a relationship. It also is for the benefit of God’s church, unity, fellowship, ministry, and holiness (Matt. 18:18-20)

So, the issue is not really will I or can I forgive my husband. The question REALLY is, “do I trust God?”. How much do I trust Him? And why or how does my newbie husband trust Him more than I do? What is he doing that I’m not? How offended the Lord must be that I’m not trusting Him in this way! I am not only not trusting God to bless me, but I’m also sinning even more by hindering the physical view of God’s grace. How can my husband see the Lord in me if I have no grace or forgiveness for him? How is my unforgiveness affecting the body of Christ?

So, it seems, I have a lot to work on. My comfort comes from the Lord. He will change my heart. He will give me the strength to obey His commands. He will help me to trust Him more and strengthen my faith. I think, as Christians, we all have trust issues with the Lord. We all have something in our lives that we haven’t handed over, that we don’t trust to the Lord. I just want to remember that whatever it is in my life (in this case forgiveness), it’s never a matter of can I or will I obey. It’s a matter of trusting our Savior who has already suffered every trial and already obeyed every command above and beyond what we will ever be able to do. If I love the Lord, I will obey. Does that mean it’s easy? Absolutely not! Scary? Probably (definitely in my case). Worth it? Well, God is good…all the time.