A New Perspective

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I watched The Passion of The Christ last weekend, but not because I enjoy it. I felt compelled to remember the price that he paid. This time, I found myself viewing it from a new perspective.

I was struck by the wide range of people in the story, and how they seem to represent all of humanity – the good and the bad, all walks of life – and that for all of these, Jesus was willing to give his life. I saw that it includes:

  • Religious leaders like the High Priest, Elders and their false witnesses – some who were misguided, acting out of fear and/or wanted him dead (they spit on him and beat him). Along with some who believed in him, like Nicodemus.
  • A friend who betrayed him: Judas – Jesus fed him, washed his feet, drank with him, and let him betray him with a kiss (wow!)
  • Military men, hardened soldiers who it seemed had no problem scourging and beating him, mocking and spitting on him, crushing a crown of thorns into his head
  • Political leaders like Herod who was looking for a miracle, when he didn’t get what he wanted, he and his men of war mocked and despised Jesus. And Pilot who really didn’t believe he had done wrong, but he allowed himself to be bent to the “will” of those demanding crucifixion.
  • An insurgent (terrorist) – a  known robber, thief and murderer – he was released instead of Jesus. Isn’t it interesting that the meaning of his name, Barabbas, is “A son of the father”?
  • Followers of Jesus, some faithful and some who fled or denied him out of fear – for example: Peter, John, Mary and Mary Magdalene.
  • The unnamed crowd, some crying crucify him and some who probably cried Hosanna earlier that week, but thought he would be a conqueror, and when he wasn’t what they thought he should be, they turned on him. I suspect this crowd represented most of us —  people who were Jews, Gentiles, young, old, rich, poor, religious and non-religious, free and slave.

Oh what an amazing love. Jesus knew he would die so that we would be be saved. He saw how they acted, how they treated him. How we’ve acted and treated him, but still He willingly gave his life for us.

But Christ proved God’s passionate love for us by dying in our place while we were still lost and ungodly. And there is still so much more to say of his unfailing love for us! ~ Romans 5:8-9a TPT

Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered it’s humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2b

Scripture quotations marked TPT are from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ThePassionTranslation.com.

 

Running Away

I love this story, it makes me think of how much God loves us, even when we make poor choices. He wants us to “come home.”

Mitch Teemley

boy-walkingI’d threatened many times to join the circus or go live on a raft on the Mississippi like Tom and Huck. But that wasn’t the case this time. It was some since-forgotten atrocity—homework? weekend chores? (I still hate vacuuming)—that led to my decision to run away forever.

I was surprised at the coolness of Mom’s reaction:

“Are you sure?”

“Yes!”

“OK.”

That was it. Just “OK.” And then she proceeded to pack my lunch. She was obviously anxious to get rid of me.

I stomped about in my bedroom, slamming necessities—my sacred texts (Huckleberry Finn, Call of the Wild, The Three Musketeers), leftover Valentine’s Day candy—into a makeshift rucksack (my pillowcase), then headed for the front door, shouting, “I’m going now!”

Silence.

“Forever!”

“OK.”

Slam!

It was nearly two miles to the end of the flower field, the last vestige of rural life in our booming Orange County suburb. I’d…

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Say what?!?

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So why “Say what?!?‘ as my first written post of 2019? To put it simply, I feel like God has been putting these words in front of me like a billboard – EVERYWHERE! Obviously I need it, so recently I have been doing a lot of thinking about the importance of what I hear, read, say and believe.

In Proverbs 23 it says “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.”  And in Proverbs 18:21 it says “Your words are so powerful that they will kill or give life.” (The Passion Translation). Considering this, it is equally important that I not only choose to speak words of life (true, kind, pure, loving, etc.) but that I also choose to think these thoughts about myself and others.  To know and believe the thoughts that God has about me,  and not to buy into the lies of my enemy, Satan.

It’s so easy to hear and think the negative. It takes effort to choose to hear, speak and believe words of life.  I am so incredibly grateful that HE has equipped me (and you) with the truth of the Word to fight against the lies, so that I (we) can live in the light of His love.

Here are a few examples of what I am focusing on, my paraphrase:

2 Corinthians 10:5 I have the power to cast down imaginations and thoughts that don’t line up with what God says. I’m weighing my thoughts more carefully, rejecting what’s not right or true, choosing truth.

2 Peter 1:3 He has given me everything that pertains to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him… Everything I need, I can learn from knowing Him!

Jeremiah 29:11  He has a good plan for my life.  I believe it!

John 14:27 He has given me His peace. i take it and I’m holding on to it!

Isaiah 48:17 He teaches me to profit and leads me in the way that I should go. I expect it, I’m looking for it every day.

Be encouraged, believe that God loves you, HE REALLY DOES LOVE YOU. – John 3:16

Love People.

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Driving to work this morning the first part of a bumper sticker caught my eye. I don’t remember the 2nd part, but the first part was, Love People.  It’s simple enough to say,  but not always as easy to do, or at least as it should be.  And why is that? It’s complex. It can be hard to give love or be loving because we’ve been hurt, we’ve lost, been abandoned, trust has been broken, we are afraid, or even because “religion” has made us self-righteous and judgmental. Ouch, right?

So, how can I change? How can I better Love People? Here’s what I’ve been meditating on.  Whether at work, in a store, in traffic,… wherever, I will love people more effectively if I remember:

  • Why Jesus came. It was because God so loved/loves the world. He hates sin, and that it separated us from Him. So he sent Jesus to pay the price for our sin -for ALL the sins of every single person. Not just for me, but for every person I will ever see or interact with.
  • Why Jesus died. See every person through His eyes -as loved by Him. No ones sin is too large or too small – he paid the price for it all! While we were yet sinners — imperfect, deserving of judgement, full of faults and failures — Christ died for us! He did it for me and every other person because He wants ALL to be reconciled to God through Him, by receiving the salvation he offers.
  • His love. That His love has been shed abroad in my heart, making me able to love others. It compels me to want  share His love, so others will know how wide, deep, and unfailing is His great love for all of us.
  • To act like Jesus, follow his example. You can read in the gospels that He: Forgave. Touched the sick. Took children in his lap and blessed them. Fed people – provided for them. Rescued them. Not only healed people but made them whole.  Loved people right where they were at – imperfect people like Zaccheus. Did not condemn the woman who was to be stoned or the woman at the well.  Ate with sinners and publicans – was not ashamed to be with them. And demonstrated the love of God to all and for all.

Putting it into practice. Sometimes loving is just giving a smile or a hug, a kind word, cooking a meal, or my giving time. Sometimes it’s praying for that person who cut me off, asking God to pour out his love and grace on them. At other times, it is preferring someone else over me by doing what pleases them, or “their way.” Sometimes it might be giving a gift or finances that they need.

I will always have opportunities to practice and improve. But, I will be most successful in loving others when I follow the Holy Spirit’s lead. After all, that is what Jesus did. He said, He only said what He heard the Father say, and did what He saw the Father do. And, He gave the Holy Spirit to be my teacher and guide – so I can know what to say and do too. I am so grateful!

Here are some of the scriptures referred to above: John 3:16, John 14:26 (see chapters 14-17 — so good!) , II Corinthians 5:19-21, and Romans 5:5-10.

Update on my October Gratefulness Challenge

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Back in mid-October I challenged both me and you to be more mindful of the things we have to be grateful for every day.  I don’t know about you, but I haven’t always remembered to do this. However, on the days I do the result is that I am more conscious of my many blessings, and I tend to be more content – perhaps even more patient and kind.

Anyway, I want to share an update on some of the things that I have been considering, which may seem random, but are all worth being grateful for.  Things as simple as warm blankets, soft pillows, socks without holes, working vehicles, good weather for raking leaves, front row parking spots, bills paid, and extra to give to others. Playing games/doing puzzles with my mom, any time spent with my husband, children and grandchildren, a good job, time to relax, Sunday and Wednesday services, insightful Bible teaching, faithful friends, yarn & knitting, and music (both peaceful and victory filled).

Of course I could keep going, but I really hope in some way that you are encouraged as you consider your blessings. I pray that you will also find joy in living a gratefulness-mindful life, and that you both know and experience the love that God has for you.

As the hymn by Johnson Oatman, Jr.  in 1897 says:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.