Apr 24, 2011

Oh Glorious Day!

Best day of the year. Christ is Risen!!

One day when Heaven was filled with His praises
One day when sin was as black as could be
Jesus came forth to be born of a Virgin
Dwelt among men, my example is He
Word became flesh and the light shined among us
His glory revealed

Living, He loved me, dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He's coming, oh, glorious day, oh, glorious day

One day they led Him up Calvary's mountain
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected

Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He
Hands that healed nations, stretched out on a tree
And took the nails for me

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose, over death He had conquered
Now He's ascended, my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him
From rising again

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming
One day the skies with His glories will shine
Wonderful day, my beloved one, bringing
My Savior, Jesus, is mine

Living, He loved me, dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He's coming, oh, glorious day, oh, glorious day!

--Traditional Hymn/Casting Crowns, "Glorious Day"

Apr 21, 2011

Limitless Love Born from Limitless Pain: A Crucifixion Narrative

Got this from a friend who got it from Sovereign Grace Church...a powerful, yet somehow still weak description of the weight of the cross:

….after “hours of limitless pain.
Then Jesus is startled by a foul odor. It isnʼt the stench of open wounds. It is something
else. And it crawls inside him. He looks up to his Father. His Father looks back, but
Jesus doesnʼt recognize these eyes. They pierce the invisible world with fire and darken
the visible sky. And Jesus feels dirty. He hangs between earth and heaven filthy with
human discharge on the outside and now filthy with the weight of human wickedness on
the inside.
The Father speaks: “Son of Man! Why have you sinned against me and heaped scorn
on my great glory? You are self-sufficient and self-righteous—consumed with yourself
and puffed up and selfishly ambitious. You rob me of my glory and worship whatʼs inside
of you instead of looking out to the one who created you. You are a greedy, lazy,
gluttonous slanderer and gossip. You are a lying, conceited, ungrateful, cruel adulterer.
You practice sexual immorality; you make pornography and fill you mind with vulgarity.
You exchange my truth for a lie and worship the creature instead of the Creator. And so
you are given up to your homosexual passions, dressing immodestly and lusting after
what is forbidden. With all your heart you love perverse pleasure. You hate your brother
and murder him with the bullets of anger fired from your own heart. You kill babies for
your convenience. You oppress the poor and deal in slaves and ignore the needy. You
persecute my people. You love money and prestige and honor. You put on a cloak of
outward piety, but inside you are filled with dead manʼs bones—you hypocrite! You are
lukewarm and easily enticed by the world. You covet and canʼt have so you murder. You
are filled with envy and rage and bitterness and unforgiveness. You blame others for
your sin and are too proud to even call it sin. You are never slow to speak. And you
have a razor tongue that lashes and cuts with its criticism and sinful judgment. Your
words do not impart grace. Instead your mouth is a fountain of condemnation and guilt
and obscene talk. You are a false prophet leading people astray. You mock your
parents. You have no self-control. You are a betrayer who stirs up division and factions.
Youʼre a drunkard and a thief. Youʼre an anxious coward. You do not trust me. You
blaspheme against me. You are an unsubmissive wife. You are a lazy, disengaged
husband. You file for divorce and crush the parable of my love for the church. Youʼre a
pimp and a drug dealer. You practice divination and worship demons. The list of your
sins goes on and on. And I hate these things inside of you. Iʼm filled with disgust for you
and indignation for your sin consumes me. Now, drink my cup!
And Jesus does. He drinks for hours. He downs every drop of the scalding liquid of
Godʼs own hatred of sin mingled with his white-hot wrath against that sin. This is the
Fatherʼs cup: omnipotent hatred and anger for the sins of every generation past,
present, and future. Omnipotent wrath directed at one naked man hanging on a cross.
The Father can no longer look at his beloved Son, his heartʼs treasure, the mirror-image
of himself. And he diverts his gaze.
Jesus pushes himself upward and howls to heaven, “My God, my God, why have you
forsaken me?”
Silence. Separation.
Jesus whispers, “Iʼm thirsty,” and he sags.
The merciful centurion soaks a sponge in sour vinegar wine and lifts in on a reed to
Jesusʼ lips.
Jesus pushes himself up again and cries, “It is finished.” And it is. Every sin of every
child of God had been laid on Jesus and he drank the cup of Godʼs wrath dry.
Itʼs six oʼclock, Friday evening, and Jesus finds one more surge of strength. He presses
his torn feet against the spikes, straightens his legs, and with one last gasp of air cries
out, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”
And he dies.
The merciful centurion sees Jesusʼ body fall far forward and his head drop low. He
thrusts a spear up behind Jesusʼ ribs—one more piercing for our transgression—and
water and blood flow out of his broken heart.
In that moment mountains shake and rocks spilt; veils tear and tombs open.
The merciful centurion looks up at that lifeless body of Jesus and is filled with awe. He
drops to his knees and declares, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
Mission accomplished. Sacrifice accepted.”

Apr 18, 2011

The Birdcage

Need a simple reminder of God's grace? Take 4 minutes & watch this video by the Skit Guys:

Apr 12, 2011

Life is Hard, But God is Good.

A week ago this time, my big brother, Jeremiah, was told that in approximately four days he would be deploying again...this time to Afghanistan. When my mom called me late last Monday night & told me, I was totally shocked, & then came the tears. Neither of Jeremiah's other two deployments had been easy, but for some reason this one hit me a lot harder. Probably because we were all taken SO off-guard, none of us had gotten to say goodbye, & in the middle of one of the busiest weeks of the semester, there was NO way I could take off of school to go down to Tennessee. Well, no way without God, & how easily I forget the amazing way the Lord works things out. 

I knew my brother was just as surprised as we were at having to get all of his responsibilities in order with only 4 days until he was deployed. I was so discouraged & broken that I wouldn't be able to properly say goodbye to Jeremiah that I spent every break crying between each of my 5 classes on Tuesday. I just couldn't understand how this could be happening.  

My brother called me at work Tuesday night & we just talked for a few minutes; he told me that this deployment would be shorter, only about 6 months, & that I shouldn't worry because he would be fine. He also told me that Ben & Rebecca (my sister & brother-in-law) were going to be coming down to see him before he left. I told him I would do anything to be able to come, but it just wasn't possible. He assured me that it was ok, but it didn't feel ok. After talking to him, I skyped with my older sister Amber; she urged me to try anything I could to find a way down there. I told her the same thing I told Jer; it just was not possible right now! 
I had been gone all weekend on a ministry trip, and I was still behind in schoolwork from that. I was also scheduled to work 5 hours Thursday night & 8 hours Saturday afternoon. I had two tests, three quizzes, and two assignments due. I didn't have a car to get back to Chetek before my family would be leaving to see him. I also didn't have any personal cuts left for one of my classes, so that would have an effect on my GPA unless the academic committee granted me emergency cuts. I was also scheduled to perform a movement of a Beethoven sonata the following Monday & still had some memorization work to do....it just seemed impossible in my eyes!

After work I went back to my room & just started crying again in frustration. My roommate came over & told me to pray about it. I am ashamed to admit it, but I have to be honest; I really did not want to pray about it!! There was no way it was going to happen, & putting any hope in going just seemed pointless. So my wonderful roommate just prayed for me & the situation. 

Well, Wednesday came &I received a text from my mom; she wanted to let me know that she would be going to Tennessee as well. That made me want to go even more, & something made me ask when they were leaving, which was 7:30 that night. Which meant if I were going to go with, I needed to find people to cover both work shifts, I needed to get extensions on assignments, re-schedules tests, AND find a car, all in-between my classes & before 3:30 to leave time for the 4 hour drive. Well, long story short--God worked it out!!
In the 5 hour period I had between when I decided to try to go & the time I actually left, the Lord had somehow secured a car for me, worked out my class & test schedule, found work replacements for me, & everything inbetween!!! He is SO good!

The drive back to Chetek was stressful, but I made it just in time to go directly from my car into the car we would be taking down to Tennessee. Ben drove through the night & we woke up in Kentucky (it was SO beautiful!) I hadn't been to Kentucky in several years & I absolutely love that area, so it was refreshing to be back =) After a few more driving hours, we met Jeremiah for breakfast & I got to surprise him! 

It was SO nice to have a day together with Jeremiah, Ben, Becca, my little niece Tatym, & my Mom. There was also another surprise; my dad, who has been working out of state for the past 2 months, drove 32 hrs to be there & see Jer off, so that was great. I know it meant a lot to my brother to have him make the trip. 

Please pray for Jeremiah & the rest of the troops as they are in harm's way. We have not heard anything since we said goodbye, & Jeremiah told us that there will most likely be very little communication throughout the deployment. The Lord has always protected him in his past 2 deployments & we trust Him in this one too.