Born To Die

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The chubby little hand of the baby reached up and wound his fingers tightly in his mother’s hair. She looked at him, and

smiled. He was beautiful, her son. Amazing. Incredible. Perfect in every way.

Holy. ..

The wonder of his birth, she still did not fully comprehend. She just knew that she loved him, with a deep and protective love. Her first born son. Her miracle from God. The One that had been promised. Her mind raced back to her encounter, months before, with the angel. The one that had told her that she was going to give birth to this baby boy. Jesus. He was both God and man. He would save his people.

So much to think about…

But, not now. Not this night.

On this night so many years ago, the night the angels sang, the shepherds bowed, this woman and her husband brought the Son of God into this world…in the most humble of surroundings. In a stable, the stench of animals strong in the air, the Savior was born.

Born to die…

From the moment He took His first breath, He was walking down a path that led to a place called Golgotha, the place of the skull. The place where the cross was positioned. The place where Jesus died.

The place where Jesus cried out, “It is finished!”.  Jesus, the Word, that had been prophesied about for centuries before His birth, was now hanging on a cross. That baby, in a manger, grew to be a man. The Redeemer. The Ransom from Heaven. The Only Begotten Son.

Jesus, Messiah.

That night, long ago, in a small town in the Middle East, a child was born. Destined to change the world. That was just the beginning of the story. One cannot fully understand His birth, if one does not also acknowledge the importance of His death, and subsequent resurrection….for that brought the greatest gift of all.

 

 

 

Wars And Rumors Of Wars…

The morning news plays in the background as I complete my daily chores in the kitchen. I’m packing a school lunch as I listen about the turmoil in Israel. Missiles flying, the wounded and dying…. I grab a granola bar as I hear about plans for the secretary of state to sit down with leaders in the Middle East. And my heart is heavy.

There will be wars and rumors of wars….

English: Flag of Israel with the Mediterranean...

these verses whisper in my thoughts.

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Matthew 24:6 NIV

When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Mark 13:7  NIV

As a Christian, I believe that Israel is special. The Jewish people continue to play an important role, both in history and in the days yet to come. God‘s hand is on them….not because the Jewish people are “better” than anyone else, but because they were chosen. God called them to be His people.

Enemies will come against them. They will attempt to destroy this small country, that even under threat, perseveres. This has been true for them, as a people, throughout their history. The future for Israel might look bleak. But they will prevail.

And, I will watch as their story, our story, my story unfolds before my eyes.

I Still Have A Lot To Learn

Cross-shaped window inside church in Hicksvill...

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Today, at A Holy Experience, we are spending our second Wednesday talking about forgiveness. To be honest, I have sat at my computer for quite a while this morning, struggling with what to write. I wanted to write something deep and comforting. Something helpful and yet profound. Frankly, it all fell flat.This is not the day for that.

I struggle with forgiving others. I understand about forgiveness. I understand that unforgiveness can cause resentment and bitterness. I get it. I do.

And yet…..

the hurt feelings

the betrayal

the lies

the pain

the harsh words

the moments lost

the feelings forgotten

The human part of me wants for the offender to hurt…as much as he/she hurt me. It is an ugly feeling. One for which I am not proud. It makes me feel less, to even admit it. Would it make me feel better? Would it? Would it be settled in my mind if I felt like the offender had their fair share of hurt?

No, probably not.

And the truth is I am no better. I’m sure in my lifetime I have said a lot and done plenty that has left other people raw and wounded. My words have the ability to cut deeper than any knife.

And I am ashamed.

My eyes skimmed across this scripture…and I didn’t feel quite so alone. We humans have a lot to learn, much to be reminded of…

7Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, LORD, because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the LORD our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.  Daniel chapter 9  NIV

God is merciful and forgiving…

He who had never sinned, humbled himself to walk among sinners.

His love was so great…

His forgiveness so immense…

And I need to be more like Him.

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How do you forgive?

Reflecting The Son

A "What Would Jesus Do?" (WWJD) bracelet

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Was it the early 90’s that everyone was sporting the “WWJD“,  What Would Jesus Do, bracelets and other jewelry?  The letters, WWJD, were as much a fashion statement as they were a Christian slogan. That time has come and gone, and yet the question still lingers….

What WOULD Jesus do?

I find myself thinking about that a lot, lately. It isn’t necessary for me to wear jewelry to have that question imprinted on my heart. How can I be more like Him? Not so that the world will notice, but so that HE will notice….. After all I, as a Christ follower, bear His name. Christian. Much like children who carry the name of their father, and are a reflection of him, so I am also a  reflection of Jesus Christ.

Even though my “mirror” is scratched and cracked, and in no way perfect…it can still reflect the Son, and be a light to a darkened world.

Matthew 25  (NIV)

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

   37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

   40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 

Hebrews 13:3 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 2:16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

Have I tried to be more like Jesus in my words, actions, and deeds? I don’t need fame and fortune to be more like Him. I don’t have to go to the jungles, or villages of the world to be more like Him. Jesus calls me to be more like Him in my daily life. My life as a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend. The day to day sacrifices, or the words of encouragement, the holding of a hand, or the nourishing of a soul. With enough practice, being like Jesus can become a habit.

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I have to share this story with you, about a young man whose life on this earth was short, but a life that made a difference…because he chose to be more like Jesus. I didn’t know this young man, didn’t even know his name until last week. Until the day that he died. Kurt Wyman was the son of friends, of my in-laws. He was just twenty-four years old.  He was a deputy sheriff that was shot and killed at a domestic disturbance call. He was a former Marine that had done his tour in the Middle East. He was married to his wife, Lauren, father to a toddler son, and a newborn daughter… a daughter that breathed life, on the very same day that her father took his last breath. How sad. How tragic. It isn’t supposed to be this way. He was the good guy…and yet now he is gone.

Thousands of people attended his funeral on Monday. The funeral was even televised and streamed online. It lasted for about three hours. As I said before, I never had the opportunity to know this young man during his life, and yet, I had the privilege of learning so much about him through his death. Time after time people would come to the podium to speak about Kurt, and time after time I heard people talk about this man’s love for Jesus Christ. Not in a self righteous way, but in quiet acts of service to others, love of family and friends, honor in serving his country and community,and  joy in sharing goofiness and friendship with the teenagers in his church. I’d say that Kurt did not live a spectacular life,  he didn’t live in the spotlight. He was a man that chose to live his life in a different way….. as a reflection. Choosing Jesus and choosing to reflect Jesus love to others around him…..and that made all the difference.

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What does your life reflect?