Showing posts with the label Death

Celebration or Criticism?

I want to explore a miracle from the Bible today, but from a little bit of a different perspective - that of the crowd. We could look at the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, seeing the wonder of a man dead and buried for four days coming forth from the tomb completely bound in graveclothes, face muffled in a swath cloth. Unwrapped, free, alive and fully restored - now that is a miracle of astronomical proportions, is it not? I imagine Lazarus 'stood out' a little bit, as he had been to heaven and was now alive to talk about it. Yet, there were some in the crowd that day that stand out just a little bit themselves. The Jewish leaders - men of learning and intense study of the Law of Moses. Their response to this miracle? Some believed and some ran to the Pharisee religious leaders to 'tattle on Jesus'. And so, at last many of the Jewish leaders who were with Mary and saw it happen, finally believed on him. But some went away to the Phari

The two wings

Death and love are the two wings that bear the good man to heaven. (Michelangelo) Michelangelo may have a portion of this 'going to heaven' thing correct, but I know the only death that really mattered was Christ's. The only thing that draws us all into his arms is his intense love for each of us. So, it is indeed a death and some pretty amazing love that bears us to heaven...but...none of us are 'good men' or 'good women' without Christ. So, even the goodness of mankind is reliant upon the love of God! “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again . Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the

Never more than

 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. (Matthew 16:25) What do you really "want" today? I have to ask myself this from time to time because I forget quickly what it is I am working toward or attempting to see accomplished in my life. I get off-track soon enough and you know what that means - - - a whole lot of back-tracking. If you have ever left a room in search of something you needed, then midway stopped short totally forgetting whatever it was that you set out to find, you know how back-tracking can sometimes actually show you where you got off-course and re-establish your goal. Sometimes we just need to take those steps back in order to take the right steps forward. Whoever wants - I think this means if we 'set out' and somehow get distracted along the way, there is a way back. There is always a way forward, even when we don't think there is any hope of ever getting back on track. It may not be al

A little here, a little there

I recently paid to have my trees trimmed by a professional tree trimming company in the valley. They had never been properly trimmed in the 24 years I have lived in this house, so they were way overdue. I could have attempted to 'make do' with my minimal reach and tools, but they were really needing a professional's touch. While it was a hefty price to pay, the results were astronomical! The dead branches, wayward growth, and excess weight is all gone now. The trees look remarkably healthier, although they are 'scrawnier' and not totally full right now. When the wind storms came just a week or so after they were pruned, I had hardly any fallen branches or dead leaves in the yard. In fact, I think the damage others suffered with the storms bypassed my house because the trees were trimmed in such a way that supported the wind going through rather than pushing against the trees and ripping at their branches. It is amazing what the right tools, in the hands of the right

Wings that bear us to heaven

Michelangelo may have had a different meaning in mind when he penned the words, "Death and love are the two wings that bear the good man to heaven," but I believe these two things do indeed create the pathway for our entrance into the heavens. It was the death of Christ and the insane love of God that created the pathway we follow into heaven. Nothing short of these two, nor any other path has the potential of creating the same degree of peace, harmony, or path to change in a person's life. It was God's love that set out the course of the path and it was Christ who walked it faithfully on our behalf! God is light, and in him there is no darkness. 6 So if we say that we share in life with God, but we continue living in darkness, we are liars, who don’t follow the truth. 7 We should live in the light, where God is. If we live in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood sacrifice of Jesus, God’s Son, washes away every sin and makes us clean. 8 If we s

The burden he carried

As I sat at dinner last night, celebrating with my oldest grandson his twelfth birthday, my youngest grandson wanted to tell me what he had written in his journal at school yesterday.  As he spoke, it become apparent to me this little guy was actually listening in his Sunday School class!  I am not going to do this justice, but here is pretty close to what he wrote:  "Jesus died on the cross.  Jesus died on the cross and was buried in a grave.  Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the grave to separate us from our sin and death."  Those aren't the exact words, but he was so articulate, not veering one word as he restated it from family member to family member around the table.  Obviously, this little guy got the message - we are no longer separated from God because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ! So he was despised and forsaken by men, this man of suffering, grief’s patient friend. As if he was a person to avoid, we looked the other way; he was

No longer "married" to sin

I like when we come across illustrations in scripture which help us "cement" an idea into our minds and get it worked deep into our spirits.  One such illustration is found in today's passage - comparing marriage, becoming a widow, and then remarriage to this idea of being "free" to enjoy life in a new way.  Let's break this down a little.  Laws have power over people who are alive.  In today's culture, marriage is a little more "disposable" than it was in the time Paul penned these words to the Roman church.  I think we can understand the concepts taught if we understand the time in which they were written.  Marriage was between one man and one woman - a life-long commitment to remain faithful to one another.  This is where we get this idea of "till death do us part" in our modern day marriage ceremonies.  If a marriage ended in one spouse passing away, the remaining spouse was no longer "under the obligation" of marriage

Don't just play dead

As I was growing up, we had a little Manchester Terrier named Judy.  She was this shiny black bundle of energy and warmth.  I received her in an ice cream carton on my first birthday.  I taught her to sit, but try as I might, she didn't quite learn the "play dead" command very well.  She had too much desire to be up in our laps, running after things, or just plain being loved on to actually "play dead".  If you haven't seen a dog "play dead", it is kind of humorous to watch.  There is this sudden lack of movement, even down to the eye contact ceasing, until they hear the command to get up.  They aren't really dead, they are just "playing" along for a treat of some kind!  I wonder how many times we "play dead" to sin in our lives, all the while having just an overwhelming desire to be up and running toward something we desire again?  I also wonder how many times we are just plain "playing dead" to sin, but all the

No death is ever without multiplied effect

The disciples were not a whole lot different than you and I - simple folk, living day-to-day, making a living with the labor of their hands and the skills of the mind.  They asked questions when things didn't make sense and ventured to solve issues which they had no real business getting involved in.  Their needs were similar, ranging from daily bread to new sandals.  They didn't always recognize when greatness was in their midst, and seldom realized scripture was being fulfilled right before their eyes.  When Jesus wanted to get a point across to them, he often had to call attention to what he was saying - simply because they were distracted, only listening half-heartedly, or because they didn't recognize the significance of what he was saying directly to them.  In these ways we are also like the disciples - needing Jesus to tell us plainly when it is REALLY important for us to hear something! Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to

Space - it is necessary!

Breathing Room:  The "space" we create whenever we don't fully occupy every iota of "space" in our lives with stuff!  This is as close to the definition as I could come to - something which I heard my pastor preach this last weekend. As I have returned from vacation, one thing really means a lot to me whenever I can enjoy these times away - they create some "breathing room" in my life.  As I have already shared in past blogs, the time away is really to refresh, renew, and regain what the tough schedule of work and family can take out of me.  In returning home though, I was met with a couple of tragic events right here in my immediate neighborhood.  I learned of the tragic taking of the life of my neighbor's 23-year old son and the sudden death of my other neighbor across the way.  As I heard of these events, the tragedy of a young man taking his own life and the tragic end of a "closet alcoholic's" life, it made me think about the imp

Bury this!

Burial:  In the simplest terms, it is the act of placing a dead person in the ground.  The remains have no further use - so we bury them.  Oh, don't turn me off yet, thinking this is going to be some morbid and disgusting topic dealing with physical death.  I want us to look at burial in the sense of some of the "stuff" we actually might do well burying!  There were customs of burial dating back something like 130,000 years ago, so this idea of "burying" the dead has quite a long history.  One of the reasons some think burial came about was to attempt to bring "closure".  It was a way of bringing an end to something.  There is more to this burial thing than just the placing of someone's physical remains into a tomb or a grave.  In fact, we might just find something of value in considering just what gets buried and why! So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The b

The Law of Sowing and Reaping

When I was a child, my mom used to say "Now, listen to me" whenever she wanted to get my attention.  She usually reserved this for the times when she had something pretty important to tell me.  It wasn't the regular stuff, like "do the dishes" or "put on clean socks" she was going to tell me.  It was something of a deeper, more life-altering purpose.  In fact, it usually began as  "Now, listen to me" whenever she either needed something particular FROM me or she needed me to get something particular FROM her.  There was an exchange about to happen - so she asked I tune it a little better and focus.  Isn't this one of the hardest things for us to do?  Focus is challenging because it means we have to shut out the rest of the distractions around us - and heaven knows, there are many! Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it spro