Music Mondays- The Coloring Song by Petra, a song helping me in a difficult week

I believe it is important to be real and honest as I seek to share my faith because I believe people are looking for authenticity. Being a Christian does not exempt us from life’s difficulties. It only means that we have Jesus with us as we go through difficult times and we have hope because of that in any situation we are in.

Last week was a real downtime for me. I tried a new medication the doctor wanted me to try. The side effects hit me hard, so after five days I stopped taking it and will need to go see him again. I lost my appetite and had other problems. It feels like being back to where I was last year before I was told to become gluten free because of Celiacs as it relates to foggy brain and depression. I didn’t feel like posting yesterday and actually did not make it to church. This is life with autoimmune.

So today I searched on youtube for a golden oldie song by Petra. It is a beautifully simple song called the coloring song. It is a song that is keeping me grounded these days. By singing about colors Petra shares about Jesus and what he does for us and in our lives.

Being a Christian does not exempt us from life’s difficulties. It only means that we have Jesus with us as we go through difficult times and we have hope because of that in any situation we are in.

The difference is that no matter what valley we go through in life, we have hope. We have the hope that Jesus is alive and eternal and always with us and working in our lives. So this week my desire is to refocus in Jesus and the purpose he has for me in this life which is to share his love with people he brings into my life.

So I would like to share this golden oldie with you- The Coloring Song by Petra.

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Jesus Appearing to Mary Magdalene Gives Me Hope

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When I think about the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection, the one that gives me the most hope is when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene. That might sound strange coming from a man, but for me it is not a man/woman thing. It is an outcast being honored thing.

The first person to do something is the one we remember. Who was the first person to walk on the moon? Most people would be able to say Neil Armstrong. Who was the second? think, scratch our heads- Buzz Aldrin was but his name does not come so readily if at all. Who was the first President of the U.S.? That should be easy- George Washington. Who was the second? Wait not a history buff!!!  answer John Adams.

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I know Paul wrote that Jesus appeared first to Peter, but that is easily explained. In those days only men could testify in court. Sad but true. When we read one of the time Jesus fed thousands it says- The number was about 5,000 men besides women and children. They only counted the men UGH. Furthermore, Paul was focusing on the apostles in 1st Corinthians and concludes with himself.

However, the first PERSON Jesus appeared to was Mary Magdalene. We know Jesus delivered her from seven evil spirits but we don’t really know anything else about her before Jesus came into her life. However, it is safe to conclude that she would have been an outcast of some kind. After Jesus delivered her, she was welcomed into the group even hanging out with Mary the mother of Jesus.

Jesus did NOTHING by ACCIDENT. Every act was intentional on his part. He could have chosen to appear first to anyone he chose, but he chose to appear to Mary Magdalene. This gives me hope because I identify with her more than the apostles. The reason is because my life before Jesus I was an outcast. I was the alcoholic’s son. I was the teen who got into trouble acting out in reaction to an alcoholic father and mentally ill mother. I was the cold-hearted salesman in my twenties. When I first started going to church and trying to pray to Jesus, my prayers would start with something like- “Lord I am a jerk”

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Jesus appeared first to his follower who was the lowliest before Jesus and when he said her name after his resurrection, she recognized him. It would like if today he appeared to someone, it would be the person who is an alcoholic, a person who struggles with depression/anxiety, a person who struggles with an eating disorder, a person who- you can fill in the blank. He gave her the job of going to tell the men. There is a message in that. I hope to meet Mary Magdalene in heaven and learn more about her. For now, I just feel blessed and filled with hope that Jesus cares for the lowliest people like me and can turn our lives around.

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Visits by Jesus After His Resurrection- What About Mary His Mother?

This is something I shared five yeas ago before the Celiacs foggy brain thing. I wanted to share it again because it is about someone I admire- Mary the Mother of Jesus.

One of the mysteries in the bible for me is what happened when Jesus came to visit His mother Mary. She is not listed in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as being present during his visits after His resurrection. Surely He must have appeared to Mary His mother. She was there when He was crucified. She was there when He was buried. She had been with Him throughout His life as we see various times after His birth that she was with Him such as at the wedding in Cana. I wonder what happened when He came to her.

Think about her life for a moment. She was a young virgin when an angel appeared to her and said, “Hail Highly Favored One…..” and told her she had been chosen by God to give birth to the Savior of the world. She said yes to God’s plan. She gave birth to Him in a stable of animals and then had to flee to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill the baby Jesus. She raised Him and cared for Him like no one else ever will. She saw His miracles and was even there for His first public miracle of turning water into wine. In fact she kind of instigated it. Then she is there during His passion and watches Him die on the cross before her eyes. She helped to prepare His body for burial. So why is there no mention of Mary the mother of Jesus during His visits after the resurrection.

While I would not make a claim to know for sure or teach this as a doctrine, it is my thought that Jesus’ first visit with His mother Mary was so highly personal and emotional for Mary that the Holy Spirit did not have it recorded. I have often heard it expressed that God is a gentleman meaning He is polite and considerate. While God does record the failings of Peter and the other disciples, there are certain things left unwritten such as the exact nature of Mary Magdaline’s life before Jesus healed her of demon possession. I believe that the moment Jesus first came to see His mother after His resurrection was so personal and emotional for her and out of respect for that moment it was kept private.

There is something in the bible that convinces me that Jesus must have visited Mary after His resurrection. Mary was with the disciples in the upper room when the promise of the Father came upon them. When the Holy Spirit was sent to those who were waiting, Mary was there with them.  In the bible she may fade from the scene as the focus of the story shifts to what the apostles did as they started the church, but she was there when the Holy Spirit came signaling that she still has a role. She is one person I look forward to meeting one day when Jesus calls me home. I would love to hear the story from her 🙂

 

Music Mondays- What A Beautiful Name By Brooke Ligertwood

First of all I want to thank those of you who are following my blog. In recent weeks my followers have grown to now over 50. That may not sound like a big deal for bloggers with a large following, but after the previous four to five years of living with Celiacs symptoms, one of which is foggy brain which shut down my creative side, to get back to this blog means a lot to me and so do those who follow me. SO THANK YOU!!!

Music has helped me through so many ups and downs in life. Last year was one of those times of mostly downs in my life as I went from doctor to doctor to find out what was wrong. I have had other periods in my life when worship music really helped me to keep my focus on God through the dark times in life. There have also been numerous times that God has guided me or shown me something as I have had my times of prayer, coming into his presence.

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So I wanted to start doing Music Mondays for a way to share songs that have meant a lot to me. The songs might be worship songs, Christian music or secular, just me sharing something that has meant something to me in hopes it lifts you up on a Monday. Who doesn’t need a pick me up on a Monday?

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If I share a link for a video, it will only be from the musicians website, from youtube via their website or ministry’s website, or VEVO on youtube.

The first song I want to share is one that perhaps many of you have heard. It is a song that is very fitting for this season of having just celebrated Easter. The song is ‘What A Beautiful Name It Is’ written and performed by Brooke Ligertwood of Hillsong.

When people are dying, they express what is on their hearts. I remember a friend from Korea who had cancer. I met with him to pray several times during the last four months of his earthly life. Each time he shared with me that he was no concerned about himself, but he was very concerned about what would happen to his wife and three young children.

In John 17 the prayer of Jesus before his arrest and subsequent trial, suffering and crucifixion is recorded. Jesus is praying to the Father. Jesus knew his impending suffering was about to begin. In his prayer we see what was on his heart. Jesus prayed in John 17:24- “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am,and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” Jesus himself said that he wanted us in heaven.

There is a wonderful line in the song “What A Beautiful Name’ that goes, ‘You didn’t want heaven without us, so Jesus you brought heaven down’. Jesus wants us to be in heaven with him, so he came to show us God the Father, teach us about God, and in fulfilling his mission to die for our sins and defeat death for us all because he wanted us to be able to be in heaven with him.

Think about it, Jesus WANTS you and me to be in heaven with him. He wants to share heaven with us. Last year as I went through a year of pain, doubt, confusion, and stress of many doctor appointments and tests, that thought helped me to not go down the spiral staircase of despair. That is why this first Music Monday I want to share this song with you. I hope it blesses you as much or more than it has blessed and continues to bless me.

I would love to to know what songs lift you up or what picks you up on a Monday.

Easter- Jesus Is Alive.

It is Easter Sunday, my favorite Sunday of the year. Why? Because the resurrection of Jesus means that his death for us did indeed accomplish what Jesus set out to do which is to die for all of our sins. Jesus took death and wadded it up like a piece of paper. Death had no power over Jesus. He is alive forevermore and he wants to share that with us!!!!

I am posting this on Sunday morning before I go to church. I am looking forward to celebrating Jesus’s victory over death for us. Because he conquered the worst that can happen to us, death, we have hope in every situation.

He wants to share the power of his resurrection with us for eternal life and also for situations in our lives now. I remember when my father was in Alcoholics Anonymous. There is a line in their ‘Big Book’ that says, ‘there is one who has all power, may you find him now.’ Jesus is the one who has all power and he wants to set us free from problems in this life like addictions, broken relationships, eating disorders, and other problems. He came to give us life. He came to give us his resurrection power so we can be free from sin in our lives, to be freed up to forgive, to live healthier lives emotionally, mentally, and psychologically.

I have experienced myself how Jesus can help free us. He freed me from addiction 30 years ago. He freed me from the tangled web of mind games in my family. He freed me from death when I was dying 25 years ago, so I could serve him longer in this life. There are so many other examples from my life of how Jesus shared the power of his resurrection to help me. As I write this, I pray for those who will read this to experience the power of the resurrection in their lives, to receive his love, grace and mercy.

I would like to share this music video by Kristene DiMarco with you. My hope is it blesses you.

God Bless and Happy Easter- HE IS RISEN!!!

Mary, Mary, Mary and John were there. Would I have been there?

I think it is sometimes easy for us to read the accounts of the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and perhaps be critical of the lack of faith on the part of those who lived through the actual events. John gives the more complete list of the people who were there as Jesus died. His mother Mary was there. Mary Magdalene was there. Mary the wife of Clopas was there. What about his disciples? The ones Jesus spent a lot of time with mentoring them, teaching them, taking them into his inner circle? John was there, but where were Peter, James, Andrew, and the rest?

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They were scattered and in hiding. They had deserted him. So do we judge them? Should we make light of their lack of faith? Do we have the right to feel superior to them?

NO!!! I don’t think we can begin to understand what they were going through. Maybe someone living in a country overly hostile to Christians and our faith and might be killed or put in jail could understand the pressures the disciples were under. The disciples could have risked execution themselves or jail if they had been out in public. Peter denied Jesus three times out of fear, but I am not going to try to judge Peter for his failure.

There were Roman soldiers all over the place. The religious leaders were openly hostile to Jesus and his followers. The disciples knew a conspiracy had happened. They were there when Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss and they saw Jesus arrested and taken away. What could eleven men do against all of those soldiers? The women, the three Marys, would not have been viewed as a threat, but the disciples would have been. It amazes me that John was there/

But the main reason I have no place to think less of them is this- I would have probably also run and hid. And if you are honest, you probably would have too. I think about the times I have not been willing to be identified with Jesus in my life. The times I have denied him by staying silent. When I look inside of me, I realize that I am not just as weak as the disciples were, I am weaker. They did not have the rest of the story yet. Jesus had told them he would die and rise again, but it hadn’t happened yet and they did not understand until after it happened. But I have the whole story to read. I know that it did not end on Calvary that Friday. The rest of the story took place Sunday morning when Jesus defeated death through his resurrection.

In a way, I deny Jesus just like Peter and the others did when I shy away from being identified as a Christian. The times I fail to share his love and his message with those who desperately need him.

With today being Good Friday, the day we remember Jesus let himself be crucified, my hope is to renew my faith and my desire to share Jesus.

Palms Sunday- Jesus Rode in Knowing All That Would Happen

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Riding in on a white colt, Jesus heard the shouts and praises of “Hosanna to the Son of David” as people were excitedly welcoming Jesus by throwing palm leaves and even their cloaks on the road before Jesus. And why not? News had spread of his miracles especially his recent one of bringing Lazarus back from the dead. The people had been waiting for their Messiah, promised one, for a long time.

But Jesus knew what was about to happen in a few short days. He knew that the crowds would turn against him and cry out give us Barabas and of Jesus, crucify him. Jesus knew what was in their hearts, what is in our hearts, but he rode in to what he knew lay ahead- His Suffering for us.

Jesus comes to us in throughout our lives. He stands at the door and knocks and anyone who opens the door, he will enter. He comes to us knowing what is in our hearts. Knowing we will fail him, stumble along, sin, mess up, but he comes to us anyway. Why? Why did Jesus ride into Jerusalem knowing they would crucify him in a few shorts days? Why does he come to me each day and say,”It is a new day” and why does he come to all of us?

Jesus gave the answer days before his crucifixion when he taught his disciples in John 15, ‘greater love has no one than this, to lay down his life for his friends.’ Jesus rode in knowing all that would happen, he comes to us in our lives knowing our weakness, because- HE LOVES US.

Good Friday and Easter Approaching

It is hard to believe Easter weekend is almost here. One week from today we will be observing Good Friday to remember the suffering and death of Jesus on our behalf followed by Easter Sunday as we celebrate Jesus defeating death for us.

This year I have been thinking a lot about what the authentic first Good Friday and Easter experience would have been like for those who lived it. Even some people who usually do not get much notice from the first Good Friday/Easter get my attention like Simon of Cyrene who was forced to carry the cross of Jesus or the Roman Centurion who said, “Truly this was the son of God.”

What thoughts would they have had? What feelings about the drama would they have had? Those are things that have been on my mind a lot this year.

So, next week my posts in this blog and also in my fictional short story blog encounterswiththeancients.com will focus on the people who lived through and experienced that first Passion of our Lord.

My prayer is to grow closer to Jesus as we go through the week we remember the Passion of Jesus.

Jesus’ Resurrection- The First to See Him Mary Magdalene

When I reflect on the resurrection of Jesus, Mary Magdalene always comes to mind. Though we do not know much about Mary Magdalene, the fact that the honor of being the first to see Jesus after His resurrection shows a lot about Jesus and us, about God and us.

There are various stories about Mary Magdalene. Some will say that she was a prostitute. The only thing that we know with certainty is that Jesus healed her of demonic possession. In Luke chapter 8 we see that Jesus delivered Mary of seven demons. We know that Mary Magdalene became a follower of Jesus after He healed her and that she was part of the group that was close to Jesus. She even spent time with Mary the Mother of Jesus.

We also know from John 19 that Mary Magdalene was one of the people who stood at the cross of Jesus and watched Him die. It was an intensely emotional time for her to see the man who rescued her and gave her a new life die on the cross. Then came the first Easter Sunday morning. She was emotionally distraught thinking that someone had moved the body of Jesus because when she came to the tomb, His body was gone, but His burial cloths were still there. She saw two angels who asked who she was looking for and after she tells them she is looking for her Lord’s body, she turns around. Jesus is standing in front of her and asks who she is looking for. Her eyes were filled with tears, she is distraught and can’t think straight. She doesn’t recognize Him at first and tells Him she is looking for her Lord’s body and to please tell her where it is. Then Jesus says her name. When Jesus says, “Mary”, the sound of His voice snaps her into the reality that the man she mistook for the gardener is Jesus. She cries out, “Rabonni” and hugs Him. He tells her He must ascend to the Father, but to go tell the group that He is risen.

It was no coincidence that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene. There was never any coincidence in anything Jesus did while He was on earth. His every action and teaching had a purpose behind it. By appearing to Mary first, a woman who He had delivered of seven demons, a woman who was in the lowest part of society before she met Jesus, Jesus shows that God’s love is for all people no matter where they come from in life. God’s life changing power and forgiveness are for all people.

By telling Mary to got tell His followers, Jesus tells her to be a witness. He gives her an assignment that in that culture should have been for a man. Even today in some cultures the testimony of a woman in court does not count as much as a man’s. Jesus gives her an assignment to go tell, to go be His witness. This shows me that in Jesus all people are equally loved, valued, and that in Jesus all people are to be respected.

Jesus Laid in the Tomb- His Followers Despair and Lose Hope

Good Friday and Easter Sunday deservedly receive a lot of attention. They are the pivotal events in not only Christianity, but also in History. On Good Friday we remember His sacrificial death for us. On Easter Sunday we remember how He defeated death for us through His resurrection. But what about the day in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday? The day when Jesus’ body laid in the tomb. His followers were in despair. They had lost hope. They thought it was all over and done with and their beloved leader was gone forever.

I have been to the funerals of loved ones and friends. Looking into a casket is perhaps the most solemn experience we face in this life. That and watching a loved one die. I was with my father when he died. He died while I was reading from the bible to him. When my father died, I did not despair. That was because over a year before he died, I was with him while he made peace with God by trusting in Jesus. I had so much peace about where my father went to that I taught my class that evening, but I had the benefit of knowing the rest of the story which is that Jesus conquered death through His resurrection.

There are other moments in life that might we feel all hope is lost. We look at our life obstacles and wonder if there is anyway that we can find that job, get out of debt, experience our loved ones finally getting their life turned around, recover from an illness or any other of life’s seemingly unending problems. We at times are like the followers of Jesus on that Saturday between the first Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It is as if we are on the outside of the tomb lost in despair.

I often wonder how His followers felt that Saturday. What it must have been like for those who washed His body and prepared His body for burial. They had forgotten about how Jesus called Lazarus back from the dead only days before Jesus entered Jerusalem. They had forgotten how Jesus had told them that He would die and that He would be raised from dead. They had lost hope. We do the same thing. We lose hope even though we have the rest of the story. We know that Jesus defeated death. His resurrection proves that He has power even over our worst enemy. When we face life’s difficulties, it is too easy for us to lose hope and not keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

On this Saturday between Good Friday and Easter, I would like to encourage you to think about your problems and then remember that He has all power. His resurrection is the proof that we too will one day enjoy the benefits of heaven, and also that He does have all power. He is more than able to help us to overcome our difficulties.