Worth Dying For

I’m a big fan of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Yes, I know it’s kind of corny, somewhat anachronistic, and Kevin Costner’s hair and lack of an English accent are distracting, but I have to admit, I still love it. The movie came out in 1991, and I probably saw it about a dozen times when I was a kid and teenager. When I found the DVD in the $5 bin at Walmart, I scooped it up.

I’m not sure what draws me to it: Robin’s journey from angry rich boy to weary crusader to lovable outlaw, the adventures of his Merry Men, the righting of wrongs done to the downtrodden, Alan Rickman’s absolute crazy, over-the-top portrayal of the Sheriff of Nottingham, or Maid Marian’s amazingly curly hair (oh, how I coveted that hair as a child!). Not to mention a killer theme song, (“Everything I Do) I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams.

SilhouetteA different aspect in Prince of Thieves is the addition of Morgan Freeman’s character Azeem, a Moor that Robin helps escape from a Turkish prison. Azeem tells Robin that he owes him a life debt, and follows him home to England in order to repay his debt. Throughout the course of the movie, Robin finds out that Azeem was in prison for loving a woman. He doesn’t understand why Azeem would be willing to die for any one, especially not a woman, and laughs at his friend. But as the film progresses, Robin falls deeply in love with the Maid Marian, admiring her courage to defy the Sheriff and help the poor. At the climax of the movie, Marian has been captured by the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Robin rushes to her rescue. Held behind a high castle wall, Robin risks a daring maneuver to scale it, frantic to save his lady love from the evil Sheriff. Azeem then asks Robin, “Is she worth it?”

His reply? “Worth dying for.”

For some reason, that line really struck me on a recent viewing of the film. Isn’t it romantic to think that Robin loved Marian enough to possibly die for her? Is there someone out there who loves me enough to find me worth dying for?

CrossOf course, there is one person who loves me enough to die for me (and I’m not talking about my husband here, although I hope he would be up for it, too). Jesus Christ didn’t just say he would die for me. He didn’t just fight the bad guys and win. Jesus actually fought the bad guys and died. But he rose again three days later, and in doing so, he defeated Satan and death and everything else that was keeping me from living by his side. He died for me and for everyone else on earth because he knew we were worth it.

I’ve done nothing to deserve that kind of love. And I’ll be honest, there are a lot of days that I don’t feel worth the love of my own friends and family, let alone worthy enough for Jesus to die for. That’s the beauty of Christ’s love and sacrifice for us: on our own, we aren’t worth it, but His blood changes all of that. It makes us worthy just to be in His presence.

And that means I should strive everyday to be worthy of such love and sacrifice. Are you?

Interview of a Lifetime

Photo Credit by: www.freeimages.com
Photo Credit by: www.freeimages.com

If I could interview one person about the book they wrote I’d shoot for the stars. In my opinion there’s only one BEST SELLING AUTHOR of all time. I’d like to talk to the maker of this universe and ask Him a few things about the book He wrote. Some parts of the Bible are so cryptic while other parts are simply stated. My questions to the Almighty are these:

Lowly Me: Many times in scripture You tell us what to do, but not necessarily how to do it. Why didn’t you just tell us how?

Heavenly Lord:  Because I want you to trust me. I told you what to do, but you must lean on me daily to receive my instruction. Once you trust me with your heart, I will guide your steps each and every day. I just want you to obey. Once you obey I’ll give you next step.

Lowly Me:  Why did you write through so many different people?

Heavenly Lord:  Everyone has a different story with much pain and hardship. All cannot relate to one. So I chose humble willing spirits, like Moses, Luke, and Paul to write their journeys and the journeys of others, so those that read, know they are not alone. Others understand their pain and their struggle, especially my son. I chose people who could tell His story as I couldn’t bear to be apart from Him any longer than necessary, so once He accomplished my will, I brought Him home.

Lowly Me:  I know how this story ends, but can you give me a little bit of a spoiler as to when Jesus will return?

Heavenly Lord:  (Chuckling) Nice try 😉

Perhaps it is audacious for me to anticipate the Lord’s replies, but I felt it was all in good fun!

 

Question: What questions would ask the good Lord Almighty if given the chance?

The Scar Jesus Bore

Photo Credit: www.freeimages.com by SCapture
Photo Credit: www.freeimages.com by SCapture

Scars. They no longer hurt, but remind of us the pain we once endured. Some are thin and shallow, others thick and deep. The deeper the pain the more prevalent the scar. While Jesus has three major scars, one on each hand and one on his feet, I have many. Most of mine run deep and a couple was life threatening, but I can’t imagine how deep the scars of Christ run.

His scars carry the pain of everyone in the world. His scars have a name for each and every person his sacrifice bore.

His scars carry my name. And yours.

As I think about the scars and pain Jesus endured for you and me I can’t help but think about finally seeing Him face to face. I imagine a quiet cove somewhere in Heaven where He and I just sit and talk.

The cool breeze ruffles our hair and the sun’s rays warm our skin. He shows me the scars on his back and points to the one with my name. My eyes gaze upon the surface of his skin as I follow the length of the scar with my finger. Tears stream from my face as the reality of my sin becomes clear.

He reaches up and wipes away my tears and says, “You were worth it.”

I can’t imagine a more tender loving conversation with my father, my friend and savior. Remember the scars He bore for you as you walk through life. Remember we each have a scar with our name on it. Remember He loves you…no matter what.

 

Question: Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Have you accepted His scar for you?

Jesus Knew

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to know the exact time, place, and manner of your death?

When I was a journalism student, one of my class exercises was to write my own obituary. Talk about a fun assignment (though maybe a little morbid)! Everyone in the class had the chance to write about their life as though it had already happened, with all of their dreams coming true, wealth beyond measure, early retirement, and a peaceful death at a ripe old age with no unfinished business.

Of course, most of the things I wrote in my fictional obituary haven’t come true or come to pass yet. Sadly, a few of my classmates have already had real obituaries written for them.

Most of us will never have the “luxury” of knowing when we’ll die. Most of us don’t know if we’ll die of an illness, be killed in a car crash, have cancer, or pass away peacefully in our sleep.

But Jesus knew. He knew every second of his life.

From the moment he entered this world as a tiny squalling baby born in a smelly stable to a poor teenage mother and stepfather and began his ministry at age 30, to choosing his disciples (including Judas), preaching, performing miracles, healing the sick, and showing the world God’s love, Jesus knew.

Thorn again Ö Jim Caviezel as Jesus in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (2004).He knew he would be betrayed by one his closest friends. He knew the rest of his friends would desert him in fear. He knew he would be questioned for hours, and jeered and laughed at by the very same people who had greeted him as a king only four days earlier. He knew he would be beaten, that the skin of his back would be ripped painfully away, over and over. He knew he would be shamed with nakedness, that his own sticky blood would be the only thing covering his body. He knew his hands and feet would be pierced with long, dull nails, driven into a rough wooden cross. He knew he would hang on that tree for hours, struggling for each breath, agony and pain and humiliation coursing through his veins like the blood that was leaving them.

He knew he would feel the weight of the world’s sins, all of the murders and genocide and adultery, the tidbits of gossip and unkind thoughts, the lies and malice and evil of this world, on his shoulders. He knew he he would take on it all, all of Hitler’s sins, and ISIS’s sins, and Osama bin Laden’s sins, and Sadam Hussein’s sins, and my sins.

Jesus Garden He knew he was going to die. He prayed for hours the night he was betrayed for his father to take it all away, to let there be another way.

But Jesus also knew that by his death, and his resurrection, by his defeat of the greatest evil of all, death, that we can live.

What kind of amazing, supernatural love is that, that a man can live his whole life knowing he is going to die a horrible, gruesome, undeserved death for the sins of all mankind, and do it anyway?

“Amazing love, how can it be? That You my King would die for me…”

Lessons from The Lord of the Rings

Lord of the Rings 03-25-15

The Lord of the Rings is a classic. So many life lessons can be learned from examining just one of the many characters in these novels.

The greatest lesson I have learned is that through Jesus, I’m capable of more than I thought. Just like Frodo, God calls us to take many journeys. Journeys full of danger, pain, sorrow, and maybe even death. Most often we don’t feel qualified or capable. Like Frodo, parts of the journey become too hard to bear and we contemplate bailing.

The sacrifice is too much and sorrow surrounds us immobilizing our efforts. We cry, we ask God why He chose us for such a task. We ask Him to pass this cup from us because we can’t possibly see the outcome as favorable. We realize we may not survive. But He speaks across our hearts whispering to do His will and go with Him. He promises to be with us and carry our burden when it’s too much to bear.

He is our Samwise Gamgee.

And though we cannot see it, this journey will create hope and healing for the great many people. Many will come to Christ through Jesus if we accept the journey from Him. So don’t be afraid to be used. Be honored and know that whatever journey God calls you take, He will make you capable through Jesus.

Question: Has God sent you on a journey you’ve been reluctant to accept?

The Hem of His Garment

Mark 5:25-34 (KJV)

25 And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,

26 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,

27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.

28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.

29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.

30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?

31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?

32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.

33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.

34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

I’ve always loved this passage. So many things stand out to me.

1. The woman could have touched Him. His hand, His foot, His hair. But she only touched the border of his garment (Luke 8:44), in faith that it would be enough.

2. She knew she was healed immediately, felt it in her body before she confessed to Jesus that she was the toucher. Before he proclaimed her healed.

3. She had faith that if she could just touch his garment, she’d be healed.

4. She had follow through. She didn’t give up in the face of the crowd. Instead, she fought her way to Jesus and did what she came to do.

5. Her faith and follow through brought glorious results: she was healed.

6. With the press of the crowd, she probably wasn’t the only one who touched Him. But she was the only one who touched him with faith in His ability to heal her.

7. Jesus knew immediately what had happened. He didn’t feel a tug on his clothes. He felt virtue go out of Him, but He knew she hadn’t touched Him–she’d only touched His clothes.

Did I miss anything? Does anything else stand out to you about this passage? Why do you think Jesus told her she was healed, when they both already knew it?

“Easter Changed Everything”

Shannon here: Stacy Monson is having technical difficulties, so I posted this for her. Even though my picture will show up at the bottom as the author, I didn’t write this. I only posted it.

I’m always sad that Easter receives so little attention compared to Christmas. Oh, cute little bunnies abound, colored eggs are everywhere, and there’s chocolate galore. (Okay, so I’m not actually complaining about the chocolate.) But while Christmas is important, of course, it’s the Resurrection that made the difference for us. When Jesus rose from the dead, He provided a way out of the darkness, offering a lifeline to the future and giving us hope (as Kav pointed out yesterday). 

The Resurrection threw open the door to Heaven and welcomed us in. Without it, we were toast. God didn’t have to deliver us from ourselves, but He did. Jesus didn’t have to suffer and die on a cross, but He did. God didn’t have to raise Him from the dead on our behalf, but He did.

Easter changed everything. The Ultimate Sacrifice rocked an undeserving world. We went from…

Grief to Joy

Loss to Restoration

Tears to Laughter

Mourning to Rejoicing

Cowardice to Courage

Persecution to Preaching

Running away to Standing firm

Fear to Security

Emptiness to Overflowing

Hate to Love

Denial to Acceptance

Judgment to Forgiveness

Death to Life

Condemnation to Absolution

Ending to a Beginning

Despair to Hope

Separateness to Communion

Dying to Living

How can we not celebrate this most joyous and holy event with praise and worship – every day? He’s alive so we’re alive. Let’s keep the celebration going!

Resurrection Day

Easter is filled with church, church, and more church at our house. In fact, my husband calls the day Resurrection Day and I like that better. I’ve tried to retrain myself to call it that, but old habits die hard.

Our Resurrection Day begins early since we have sunrise service at our church. It’s not quite sunrise, but service is usually at 7:00 am. Any other day, I would say seven stupid o’clock in the morning. But on Resurrection Day, I squelch my inner so not a morning person and just do it.

We live fifteen minutes from our church, so I don’t ride in with my husband. Since he’s the pastor, he leaves around 6:15 to get there before anyone else arrives. He’s a morning person and doesn’t bat an eye at the hour. I usually pin my hair up because it’s quicker than fixing it, but even with that shortcut, I have to get up at 5:30 to get there on time.

Sunrise Service on Resurrection Day, April 8, 2012If the weather is nice, we have our sunrise service outside. We set up folding chairs and watch God paint the sky in oranges, pinks, and yellows as the sun climbs higher in the sky. This picture and the one of the sky is from 2012, the last time we got to have service outside. My favorite and most memorable services were the outside ones. If it’s cold or rainy, we have service in the sanctuary by flickering candlelight.

The service consists of scripture from the original Resurrection Day and a devotion. This year, we have a ladies choir and we’re singing He Arose. Our pianist is bringing her keyboard in case we get to have services outside.

After the service, we gather in the fellowship hall and the men cook breakfast. We eat and visit – which we call fellowship. We are Baptist, so most of our gatherings turn into eatin’ meetin’s. Then we clean up and the people who live in town go home. The people who don’t, including us, stay at the church to talk and visit some more.

At 9:45, we have our regular devotion and then Sunday school class. Regular service is at 11:00. And we don’t skip it or shorten it because we got up early. After our regular service, we go home and crash. We doze off and on until 5:00 or so. Then we put ourselves back together, grab a cup of coffee and head back to church for our evening service.

Yep, our Easter/Resurrection Day consists of church, church, and more church. But I can’t think of a better way to celebrate – He Arose.

Matthew 28:1-9

1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

Through A Child’s Eyes

Jesus with childrenAny of us who have had children know that it would have taken awhile before Mary was able to travel after having given birth to Jesus. In that period of time, it would seem natural that others in the area would have seen the baby Savior before Joseph and Mary moved on. It is pure conjecture, but if I had to choose to be someone who witnessed Jesus, I would’ve chosen to be a child, possibly the Inn keeper’s child or a neighborhood child whose curiosity got the best of them and they stopped by to catch a glimpse at the new born baby. Children have an amazing ability to see things we, as jaded critical adults, do not. What would a child see when they looked upon the face of glory manifest?

In Matthew 19:14  Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

And in Matthew 18:10 He says, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

I don’t think it’s just angels that can see the face of God when looking upon a child. Have you ever witnessed a tender moment of a Child with babyyoung child looking at a baby? I’m always amazed at their inherent ability to understand how precious that little babe is, and how gentle that bundle of energy can be toward them.

If I looked through a child’s eyes into the face of my Savior I’m sure I would’ve beheld the face of God. I remember when I looked upon my own children’s face for the first time the infinite joy and love that overcame me. Why is it that babies in general tend to bring out the best in people? Who can deny God in the face of these newly born creations? Not me.

So if I were to behold the face of Jesus, I would want to be as innocent as He. Through a child’s eyes.