Tag Archive | God

Conversations

I heard voices this week.

Actually I talked to my grandchildren on Sunday and thanked God for unlimited long distance.

I remember when Sweet William and I were dating.  He lived in Louisville and I in Shepherdsville.  It cost long distance phone rates for him to call me.   So those calls were few and limited.  We usually had 5 or 10 minutes to say all the things on our minds and hearts.  It wasn’t nearly long enough.

So to be able to call and talk for over an hour on the phone was a bit of heavenly bliss.  Bill and I got on each extension of our home land line.  We asked each of the children about their days, their rooms, their school work, the church they visited and their neighborhood.  We got to hear about the neighbors, the parks close by, and friends who live a few blocks away.  We heard about their daddy’s work and how amazing it is. 

We finished each conversation by sending air kisses across the lines.  I almost felt hugged.

Then our sweet daughter-in-love got on the phone.  We chatted about their new home, her yard sale finds, the decorating, the front porch she loves, the comfy coffee nook near the kitchen.  I heard contentment in her voice.  She is with her man and her children, and right now that is enough. 

I hung up the phone and felt filled up on the inside.  Oh there is still a deep longing, a loneliness in knowing they are so far away.  But I have heard their voices and experienced their emotions and laughed with them.

In our technological era where new gadgets appear on the market faster than I can learn the old ones, we are quickly becoming a messaging community.  Email and texting are replacing voice to voice communication. 

I appreciate the benefit of quick unencumbered messages that get to the point and are sent faster than a speeding bullet.  For work related issues, I love email.  It is efficient, and I like efficient.

But for the loves of my life I still prefer conversation, face to face and voice to voice.  Nothing takes the place of that.

Communication is God-designed and recorded in the very first chapters of God’s wonderful story.  He talked to the humans He had formed.  He called for them when they hid themselves from Him.  And I wonder how God felt when that happened, when those  he lovingly made and to whom He had given all the earth didn’t want to be near Him or hear His voice.

I find it interesting that the cravings we have for relationships were created by our Creator.  He understands our longings because He put them there.  I contemplate how man was made in the image of God and that we are relational because God is relational.

He desires communication with me just like I desire communication with those I love.  Face to face, voice to voice.  His Word to my heart.  My prayers to His.  Nothing else takes the place of that.

Broken and spilled out

When I was in my 40s, my nest was suddenly empty. Having only one child means one day the nest is full and the next day it’s empty. Travis went away to college, leaving Sweet William and me to bump around the house alone.

The Lord in His graciousness, knowing how my heart was, filled me up with a group of young people where we attended church. They became a drama team. We began to work on skits and pantomimes, performing at church services, our own and others. We even traveled to Michigan where we put on a workshop for the youth there and performed several times during the weekend.

It was great fun and a lot of trial and error. The kids could drive me absolutely up the wall sometimes. But most of the time, I was so proud of their efforts and their sincerity as they portrayed Bible scenes or humorous skits, all with the purpose of glorifying the Lord.   I so prayed the truth they acted out would take root in their hearts and draw them closer to Jesus.

One of the songs they performed was called Broken and Spilled Out by Gloria Gather. It was made popular by singer Steve Green. The song tells the story of the woman who brought her precious ointment and poured it out on Jesus feet.  The fragrance of the perfume touched the senses of all who were witness to her loving deed that day.  Jesus commended her for her act of love.

I’ve been humming that song a lot lately. It think it must be because I’ve felt broken and spilled out in the last several weeks.

I know I’ve been broken because the tears keep spilling out.

Sweet William and I have been through some trauma together. Recently, it has taken more out of me than I had in reserve.

I’ve given this some thought, and have come to the conclusion that being emptied out can be exceedingly unpleasant.  There is still so much of my self-will left in me.   My flesh and my spirit do battle quite often.

As Paul said in Romans 7, “I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.” (The Message)

There are times I think to myself, “O wretched woman that I am!  Who will deliver me from myself?”

The answer, of course, is Jesus who took all my punishment for my past, present and future sins.  Thanks be to God for the victory He won on the cross!

I am so thankful for the promise that though I am faithless, He remains Faithful! 

I am often struck by the profound thought that God never gives up on me, no matter how long it takes. He is the Potter who is committed to conforming me into the image of Jesus, molding, squeezing, remaking, so that I will reflect Him more and more in my motives, thoughts and actions.  I often think He surely must be getting tired of me by now. 

How many times have I prayed, “Lord, I want to do your will.”  Or “”Make me more like Jesus.”  Or “If you can use anything, Lord, You can use me.”  I’m finding out He takes those kind of prayers seriously and begins to make it happen.  It can be a painful process.

Giving up my own agenda, my own wants and desires, my own will can be likened to the woman who gave her most precious possession.  You see, my self-will is pretty important to me.  It can become my most treasured possession.

Sometimes life takes a turn toward hard and uncertain days or weeks, even years.  It becomes God’s means of molding me, even breaking me if necessary.  I am His project and He will not give up.

The wonder of this brokenness is that it results in more room for the Spirit to fill me up with Himself.   Empty of myself, I can be full of Jesus.   Perhaps it is the way to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ (I Corinthians 2:14).

Ah, now that is a beautiful thought.  It makes being emptied out a transforming and beautiful process.  It means I’m growing, I’m becoming, I’m on my way to reflecting the image of my Savior more and more. 

There isn’t anything else that is more important than that.

Have you been broken and spilled out?  Leave a comment.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Blessings?

So many people have written wise words about suffering.  I read them and find I have nothing new to offer on the subject.  Enduring suffering is part and parcel of being alive.  The longer I live, little by little, I understand suffering’s purpose.

I think for the unbeliever it must be to draw the attention toward a God who loves and wants to offer grace and mercy.  To the believer it must be the same, to draw the attention toward a God who loves and offers grace and mercy.  Moments and months of suffering come to everyone.  And God offers Himself to us.

Instead of trying to give you my words, I submit to you a song I heard only about two months ago.  It’s message rings loud in my ear, humming its melody to my soul, speaking truth to my spirit.  It is called simply “Blessings.”  It’s composer, Laura Story, has endured her own stuggles and speaks from her experience.  I appreciate that.  Here it is: 

BLESSINGS

We pray for blessings.  We pray for peace, comfort for family, protection while we sleep.

We pray for healing, for prosperity.  We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering,

And all the while You hear each spoken need, yet love is way too much to give us lesser things.

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?  What if your healing comes through tears? 

What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?

And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear.  And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near.

We doubt your goodness.  We doubt Your love, as if every promise from Your Word is not enough.

And all the while You hear each desperate plea, and long that we’d have faith to believe.

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?  What if Your healing comes through tears?

And what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?

And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win, we know that pain reminds this heart

That this is not, this not our home . . . It’s not our home.

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?  What if Your healing comes through tears?

And what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if my greatest disappointments, or the aching of this life,

Is a revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life, the rain, the storms, the hardest nights are Your mercies in disguise?

Beautiful thoughts from a wise young women who has know her own suffering.  Hear her story at this site.

My father’s chair

My dad called and said he was ready to let go of a couple of items, and he thought I might want them.  One is an embroidered picture my mother made as a Christmas present for him in the 1980s.  It says, “Life is fragile.  Handle with prayer.”  It was an appropriate gift for my dad who has been a prayer warrior for years.  His prayer life is an example of what it means to “Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ,” (Galatians 6:2).  The framed embroidered verse had been hanging over a chair in the basement of his and Esther’s home for the past 25 years.  

The other item was the chair over which it hung.  And that surprised me.  The chair came from a branch of the First National Bank in a downtown location when I was in my teens.  The bank was being remodeled by the company where dad worked.  Whenever there was a remodel job and stuff was being thrown out for the newer and more updated, Dad would ask if he could salvage some of it.   He brought home many a piece of so-called junk and found a use for it. 

The chair was such a piece and in decent shape, so he brought it home and put it in his workshop behind our house on Arnoldtown Road.  It became his prayer altar.  Dad went to his shop each evening and had his nightly prayer time.  It was as regular as the sun setting.  He did not miss an evening.   God was calling him to a prayer ministry, and he did not waver from his commitment.

The chair traveled to Shepherdsville in the late 1960s when we moved.  Dad built another house and workshop.   And the chair was placed in the rear of the shop where he prayed regularly.

Dad’s prayer ministry became well-known and quite eventful over the years.  People often came to the house asking for counsel and prayer.  Many times Dad took them to the garage where the person knelt at the chair.  I had my own personal “praying through” experiences at that chair.  I recall weeping there, pouring out my heart, and being aware of the presence of the Almighty.

When Dad remarried after my mother’s death, he took his chair and placed it in the basement of his and Esther’s home.  And the people came there for prayer.

At that chair my dad gathered thousands of prayer requests people gave him over the years.  Stacks of letters in envelopes, slips of paper, pictures of children and loved ones filled the area surrounding the chair that sat in the corner of his basement study with Mother’s embroidered artwork hanging above.

My dad knelt at that chair, too many times to count, calling out my name, Sweet William’s name, the names of my son and daughter-in-love, the names of the grandchildren, our familys’ names and names of people far and near.  Dad loves to recount Revelations 5:8* explaining that there are containers in Heaven holding the prayers of the saints.  He declares that he has filled a lot of those containers on behalf of those he loves and holds dear.

The chair became a sanctuary where dad met with God daily.

So it shocked me when dad asked if I wanted the chair now.  I didn’t expect it to leave the house until dad left this earth and was in the presence of God.  Dad explained that when he and Esther experienced the house fire in 2009, his prayer routine changed out of necessity while the house was being reconstructed.  During the six months when he could not go to his basement office, he changed his prayer habit from the chair to another place.  Now back in their house, he has arranged the many requests he receives at another altar so he can put his hands on them and pray over them each day.

Bill and I went to get the chair and the picture.   There in the basement I moved things out of the way to bring the chair into the center of the room.  It was a holy moment for me.  Memories flooded and my thoughts swirled.  The presence of the Lord seemed to hover near.  It’s not that the chair is of itself holy or some sort of talisman.  But it does represent a man meeting with his God.  A simple man, a sinner saved by grace, a life that was changed to become the image-bearer of Christ.  The influence of his prayers will be told in eternity.  Christ who ever lives to intercede for His children called this man, my father, to a prayer ministry.  And he has been faithful to it. 

The chair is in my home now, sitting in my kitchen.  I don’t really want anyone to casually sit in it.  It’s not that kind of casual chair.  It’s my dad’s prayer chair, the altar where he wept and prayed for many people over the years.  Since relocating it  to my home, I’ve knelt at the chair and I expect I will again. 

The chair is a place where my dad met with God and where God met with my dad.  It represents dad’s legacy, more valuable than any monetary inheritance he will leave me. 

Dad’s prayers follow me.  I am strengthened by them.  God hears my name often throughout the day because my dad prays for me.

I want to leave a legacy for my children and my children’s children by becoming a woman of prayer, by believing God’s promises, and by being faithful to pray without ceasing.   I  have a way to go.  At least I am on the journey.

*Revelations 5:8 – And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

 

How has prayer affected your life?  Who prayed for you?  Leave your memories here.

Living in a shaky world

Television news this spring has often centered on the tragic events caused by earthquake, tsunami, floods and tornadoes. 

Sweet William and I have huddled in our hallway on several occasions, listening to the warning sirens and the blowing wind. 

I’ve watched the aftermath news reports with sadness.  Some losses are material and can be replaced.  But losing loved ones, especially when they are not found, are devastating to the heart.

The tragedies have resulted in deprivation, heartache, confusion, and perhaps questions.

I have questions.

  • How do people survive such catastrophic events?
  • How long will it take to rebuild.  How long to recover emotionally?
  • What if it happened to me and mine?

It doesn’t even take an earthquake to shatter our dreams and our lives.  All we need is to get the a doctor’s diagnosis, or to be handed the proverbial “pink slip” because our job has been eliminated, or to hear dreaded words like, “I want a divorce,” or “This is the police.  Your son has been arrested.”

In a shaky world, we need a sure foundation.  There is only One.  Sadly we build our hopes and dreams on things and people who are shaky themselves.  When the winds blow and the rains come, those foundations crumble beneath.  What is there to do then?

A daily devotional comes to my email each day from Roy Lessin, co-founder of DaySpring, author, and blogger at “Meet Me In The Meadow.”  His post from March 4 is appropriate encouragement for those of us who believe Someone holds this world and all its inhabitants in His strong and mighty hand.  When the world is shaky, there are some things we can count on.    Here is Roy’s post:

Things You Can Count On Now!

There is a grace that is sufficient; a mercy that endures; an atoning blood that cleanses; a hope that doesn’t disappoint; a love that never fails; a purpose that works all things together for the good; a peace that passes understanding; a joy unspeakable; a kingdom unshakable; a foundation indestructible; a High Priest who prays; a Savior who lives; a Spirit who comforts; a Father who cares.

Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us .This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. Hebrews 6:18-19 NLT

Leave a comment at Mr. Lessin’s blog – http://roy.dayspring.com/2011/03

His face toward you

  

 Helix Nebula

I was asked to play piano accompaniment for the Parent’s Day Out spring program at Little Flock this week.   The little people prepared to sing and perform for their family and friends.  It was fun practicing with them.  Two-, three- and four-year-olds are just cute, whatever they do.

On the night of the program and graduation to kindergarten, the sanctuary was nearly full.  There were parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles in the audience waiting for the children to parade in.

From my vantage point of the stage, sitting at the piano, I could see the audience well.  A CD began to play the entrance music and the twos led the way down the aisle.  Suddenly there were video cameras, flash cameras, and cell phones recording the event.  Parents wanted to catch this moment and keep it forever.

As each age group climbed the stairs to the stage, teachers helped them get situated on the risers.  I looked out at the faces in the audience, the faces of parents and grandparents whose eyes were on their particular child.  They were focused, not wavering from the face of their very own offspring.

A thought came to me as I watched this scene unfold.  Was this a picture of how focused God is on His children?  His face is turned with pleasure toward those who call Him “Father.”  These are the ones who have accepted the call to “Come unto me,” who have acknowledged their helplessness to make themselves holy enough, who are poor in spirit and seek the saving grace of Jesus.  God’s face is upon them with joy, with love, with complete acceptance.

The parents in the audience that night were thrilled at the simple accomplishments of their children.  Simply climbing the stairs and standing still was a big deal.  Clapping on rhythm and getting the words to the song right was an accomplishment.  Singing on key was an achievement.

None of the children were reciting the preamble to the constitution, or singing a solo of the Star Spangled Banner, or preparing to amaze the crowd with mathematical equations.  These were just children doing childish things.  And their parents were delighted with them.  Love and pride were written all over their faces.

How often do we think we have to do great things for God to get His approval?  We often work really hard hoping He will be happy with our efforts.

Truth is He loves us just as we are – completely human, in all our frailty, utterly clay. 

The only way we ever accomplish big things is because of His exceedingly great power working in and through us.  Even the fruits we are to bear, things like love, joy, peace, goodness, and longsuffering are a result of abiding in Christ.  He creates the fruit in us while we dwell in Him.

Perhaps we frustrate ourselves by trying too hard, trying to be good enough, strong enough, humble enough, spiritual enough so we will be worthy of God’s approval of our efforts.  The problem with that theory is we never are . . . enough.

What a relief that God simply loves me, has this unimaginable passion for my soul.  He planned for me before Adam and Eve ever walked in the garden.

I think Psalm 139 expresses it well:

You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
    You understand my thoughts from far away.

You observe my travels and my rest;
    You are aware of all my ways.

You have encircled me;
    You have placed Your hand on me. 

This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me.
    It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.  (verses 2-3, 5-6)

The Bible, God’s very own words, tell us what we are to do, how we are to live our lives to please Him. 

When someone asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, He didn’t hesitate in telling them these simple yet profound words:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Even that kind of love must come from God’s own heart, poured into ours, so we can love Him and others, and thus please Him.

Have you struggled, trying to please God?  I’d like to hear your comments.

Still the storm passes

I’ve been listening to a lot of weather reports for a number of days now.  The muddy Salt River is high enough for me to see it out my front window.  I hear reports of people evacuating their homes, of flooded basements, of hail damaged roofs.  Tonight I see war-like devastation in the southern states where friends and family live.

And we pray. 

Sweet William and I have prayed a lot lately about the weather, asking for protection and mercy on us and those we love, naming them one by one.

And I wonder what is happening?

Is it the result of global warming?  Is this punishment from God? 

Jesus said it rightly when He warned His disciples, “In this world you shall have tribulation.”  He didn’t say, “Everything will be just great if you follow me.”  Nor did He say, “You’ll be healthy, wealthy, and wise.” 

Life is hard.  We all know it is true.  Listen to the stories people tell.  Even those who smile have a heartbreaking tale to tell.

The rain falls on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).  Bad things happen to good people.  We don’t want to believe that and act surprised when it does.  Especially if the bad things are happening to us personally.

During these stormy days and nights I have thought of a favorite Scripture verse in Job 26:14 (CEV).

“These things are merely a whisper of God’s power at work.  How little we would understand if this whisper ever turned into thunder!”

God’s power is unparalleled on this earth.  Man’s discoveries and inventions are no match for His smallest breath.  The forces of nature that were spoken into existence astonish us. 

Power belongs to God, so says Psalm 62:11.  Comforting words follow that verse telling me that mercy belongs to Him also.

I don’t know what is happening.  But what I do know is that God is good as well as powerful.  He is not willing that any should perish.  He loves men and women, boys and girls and wants them to turn to Him in their trouble, to thank Him for His many blessings, to worship Him for who He is. 

He is God.  He is in control.  He is a shelter in our time of storm.

 

What storms are swirling around you?  Leave a comment.

He is risen!

I wish I had been there on that morning long, long ago.  I wish I had come very early in the morning, like Mary, while it was yet dark – to discover that the tomb was empty;  to hear the angel say, “He is not hear.  He is risen from the dead.”

I’m sure I would have been as unsettled as Mary and the disciples, barely able to comprehend what had happened.  He was dead and they knew it.  He was placed in the tomb and it was sealed.  Now it stands empty!

A wonderful mystery is explained in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. 

In Exodus and Leviticus, God gave Moses the instructions for the seven feasts of the Lord to be celebrated throughout their year.  Each was to remind them of something.  And each was a foreshadowing of things to come. 

At Palm Sunday, Jesus was singled out as the Passover Lamb.  He was arrested on the night of Passover.  He was crucified and died on the feast of Unleavened Bread.  He who was the incorruptible Bread of Life said a grain of wheat must first die in order to produce much fruit.  His body lay in the tomb on Saturday, the Sabbath day of rest.  The day after Sabbath was the Feast of Firstfruits.  And  on that day He arose from the dead, being an example of resurrected life for those who would follow Him. 

According to Leviticus 23, the Feast of First Fruits was to be the day after the Sabbath (or the first Sunday) during the seven days of Unleavened Bread.   When the people finally settled in the Promised Land, the first crop of the season was a taste of what was to come.   They were to offer a portion of it to God along with a burnt offering.  This crop was the first of their fruits.  More would come later. 

Only God could have orchestrated the calendar to work out perfectly.  Remember that the Jewish month is according to the moon’s cycle.  So Passover could fall on any day of the week as the years go by.

On Jesus’ last Passover, it was a Thursday when he ate with His disciples in the upper room.  It was Friday and the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread when he was crucified and died.  Scripture confirms the days because of the hasty burial due to the Sabbath coming at sundown.

And it was Sunday when He defied death, hell and the grave and claimed victory for us.  Though we walk through the valleys of suffering, heartache, pain, and eventually death, Jesus fulfilling the Feast of Firstfruits bears witness that we also shall live.

Hear the Apostle Paul encourage the Corinthians:

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.   But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.” (1 Corinthians 15:20 – 23)

This corruptible shell in which I walk and move shall one day put on incorruption.  This mortal body that aches and pains will be changed to immortality.  One day my tears will be wiped away.  No more pain, no more sadness, no more death.  No more wondering “why?”

Jesus’ resurrected life provides the hope of resurrection for me.  Because He lives, I shall  live also.  That is something to shout about!

Share your Resurrection Sunday with me in a comment. 

The day God died

I have been wearing my cross necklace since Lent began in March.  It was the prettiest one I have.  Last Sunday, however, I exchanged the pretty cross for one more in keeping with the original idea of a cross.  It is made of nails.   

The cross hangs on a plane brown cord.  It did not blend in with my Sunday dress-up outfit.  Nor did it match my go-to-work clothes.  It has looked awkward and out-of-place, and it’s been a bit uncomfortable having it on 24/7.  It has reminded me that the cross was anything but a beautiful decoration in first century AD.

The cross was a torture instrument.  It was designed so the condemned would suffer agony.  A criminal could hang there for days before the relief of death came. 

As the weakness set in and the body hung heavily from the arms attached to the cross beam, it became difficult to breathe.  The crucified would try to muster enough strength to push up with his legs in order to get a full breath of air.

Suffocation was often the cause of death.

So we hang a beautiful silver or gold cross on a matching chain and put it around our necks as jewelry.

Back in my teens and twenties, a slogan became popular. “God is dead” they said.   The world was going you-know-where in a handbasket, so some intellectuals thought God surely had died and left us to fend for ourselves.

The day God died was not in the 1960s or ’70s.  It was more like 33 AD.  Jesus Christ, fully man and fully God, the God-man, surrendered His life on purpose.  It was all according to the plan.  The plan was to offer grace to the fallen race of humanity.  So in need were we then.  So in need are we now.

The only way to bring sons and daughters to God was through death.  Only the death of the God-man would pay the penalty for the sins of the world – once and for all.  The weight of the world’s sins rested on the shoulders of Jesus as He hung and gasped for the breath of life.  The life breath that was first given to Adam by God Himself.

Jesus’ life seemed to be cut short, just a young man in the prime of life and popularity.  Yet He lived His life fully to the end because He knew His calling.  He would let nothing or no one deter Him from the goal.  And the goal was death.

Because of the joy set before Him of bringing sons and daughters to God, He endured the cross despising the shame.

I want to live my life fully, on purpose, doing what God has called me to do.  My calling is not to be a preacher or a missionary.  But my calling is definite and sure, whispered to my heart on many occasions. 

What is your calling?  Has the Holy Spirit whispered to your heart and told you how He wants to you live fully, to live joyfully with your eyes fixed on Jesus who will reward you for finishing the work He has given you?

It may not be what your parents wanted, or what your peers thought you should do, or the potential your teachers saw in you.  It is a God calling that is particular for each son and daughter of the King.  Joy will be the by-product of living life fully in the calling of Christ.

Passover and the  Feast of Unleavened Bread which followed were fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah.  Tomorrow we will celebrate Easter Sunday which is actually the Feast of First Fruits.  I hope you will come again and share the joy of resurrection with me.

Here is a recipe and activity to do with your children or grandchildren that will let you tell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection in a way they can understand.  It does not have to be Easter Eve to tell the story.  Do it often and remember how much God loves us.  Perhaps telling the story is part of your calling as it is mine.

Easter Story Cookies – to be made the evening before Easter morning              

  • 1 cup whole pecans or walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 3 egg whites
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • a small zipper baggie, wooden spoon, duct tape, and a Bible

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

  • Place the nuts in the zipper baggie and let the children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces.  Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by the solders.  Read John 19:1 – 3
  • Let each child small the vinegar.  Put 1 teaspoon into a mixing bowl.  Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink.  Read John 19:28 – 30
  • Add egg whites to vinegar.  Eggs represent life.  Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us new life.  Read John 10:10-11.
  • Sprinkle a little salt into each child’s hand.  Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl.  Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers, and the sadness we have for our own sins.  Read Luke 23:27.
  • So far, the ingredients are  not very appetizing.  Add 1 cup of sugar.
  • Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us.  He wants us to know Him and belong to Him.  Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16.
  • Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed.  Explain that the color white represents the purity in God’s eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus.  Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3
  • Fold in broken nuts.  Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet.  Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus’ body was laid.  Read Matthew 27:57-61.
  • Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF.  Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door.  Explain that Jesus’ tomb was sealed.  Read Matthew 27:65-66.
  • GO TO BED!  Explain that they may feel said to leave the cookies in the oven overnight.  Jesus’ followers were in despair when they left Jesus there.
  • On Resurrection morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie.  Notice the cracked surface and take a bit.  The cookies are hollow!   On the first Resurrection Day, Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.  Read Matthew 28:1-9.

Celebrate the Risen Savior who is alive and ever interceding for us who believe!

Passover preparation and spring cleaning

 Passover is probably the most widely celebrated Jewish festival. It is a festival of freedom and is intensely personal for each individual.

Preparation for Passover begins with a thorough cleansing of the house, mainly to remove all leavening agents (Exodus 12:19), whether it is in their cookies or bread, or boxes of baking powder in the pantry. During the Passover meal and for seven days thereafter, nothing containing any leaven is to be eaten. This is the Feast of Unleavened Bread as told in Exodus 13:6.

Some homes have special dishes and cookware that are only used during the Passover season. The everyday things are put away.

On the night before Passover, a traditional hunt for any final crumbs of leavening is conducted by the father of the house and his children. Mother has purposely left out some crumbs for them to find. When they discover the crumbs, they sweep them with a feather into a wooden spoon, wrap it in a napkin and burn it. In some communities, there is a bonfire where families come to burn their final bits of leavening. With this accomplished, the house is now ceremonially cleansed.

Jesus talked about leavening being corruption of the heart. Even a little is dangerous. We cannot flirt with the world or continually taste of a little sin and expect to walk away unaffected. A little leaven puffs up a whole batch of dough. A little sin, left confessed, can spoil the soul.   And it influences those around us whether we like  it or not. 

Let us examine ourselves daily and pray as Jesus taught us, “Forgive us our trespasses . . .”  Let us pray David’s prayer,

Search me O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me . . . , (Psalm 139:23-24)

Paul warned us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1).

What is that keeps you from drawing closer to God? A habit that binds and controls? A relationship you know is not edifying but you cannot give up? A temptation that you did not run from and now it entangles you? A command you know you should obey but you simply won’t?

I cannot look into your heart. I can only look into mine. And so I pray,

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. I acknowledge my sin to you and do not try to cover it up. I will confess my transgressions to You Lord. And You will forgive the guilt of my sin. I am blessed because my transgressions are forgiven and my sins covered.   (from Psalm 31 and 51)

Prepare me, O Lord, for the Passover, that my heart will be a cleansed and welcome place for Your Spirit.