Good Friday

“When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.” They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?” “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Mark 14:17‭-‬26 NIV

I grew up celebrating communion, or as we called it, the Lord’s Supper, and it was a solemn occasion. Not sad or upsetting, but serious. We always ended with a prayer and my Dad (the pastor) telling us all to go in peace and without speaking, but as we would leave we sang (a capella) Blest Be the Tie That Binds.

  1. Blest be the tie that binds
    Our hearts in Christian love;
    The fellowship of kindred minds
    Is like to that above.
  2. Before our Father’s throne,
    We pour our ardent prayers;
    Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
    Our comforts, and our cares.
  3. We share our mutual woes,
    Our mutual burdens bear;
    And often for each other flows
    The sympathizing tear.
  4. When we asunder part,
    It gives us inward pain;
    But we shall still be joined in heart,
    And hope to meet again.

Today, as we prepare for Easter Sunday and the joyous day that it is/should be, is a great day for families to gather and participate in the Lord’s Supper, just as Jesus did with His friends. I lift my cup and my bread to Him, and thank Him that I have the freedom to do so. I miss my family and friends during this period of social distancing, but I thank God for “the Tie that binds”!

To Honor Those Who Serve….

I wrote this 4 years ago, but I think it’s worth sharing again. I want to acknowlege a few of the pastors who have touched my life and helped me in my journey through life: my Dad, Bill Henry. Mark Hitchcock. Dennis Newkirk. Chuck Robinson. Lonny Lee. There are many others, and I’m not leaving you off to offend you!

As a nation, we have several designated days for remembering. Yesterday was the anniversary of an unfathomable tragedy for these United States. In May, we honor our fallen service men and women; in November, D-day.

EVERY day of the year is an anniversary for honoring someone who has given their life for another. It is Army and Air Force, Marines and Navy; Police officers and firemen. Ambulance personnel, EMT’s and ER doctors and nurses. Airline pilots and personnel. Everyday, ordinary people. Pastors.

Why would I add “Pastors” to this list?

Have you looked at your pastor lately? REALLY looked? I’m not speaking of preachers who stand in the pulpit on Sundays and lead separate lives during the week, or the ones who are all about appearance and wealth. I’m talking about Pastors, and missionaries who devote their lives to service. Men who love their spiritual flock as their own families. Men – and their wives – who sacrifice themselves to God and His work.

We, as their flocks, their congregations, are doing better these days to recognize their need for respite from their service, I think – but our pastors need our care and support. Physical care and support, obviously, but even more importantly they need our emotional and spiritual support.

My Dad served in the United States Merchant Marines as a radio officer during WWII. Over the course of his life, my Dad gave his life in total to serving his Lord and his flocks at the expense of his health. Wherever, whenever he was called, he gave everything he had, even at times at the expense of the family. Even during his last days on this earth he was witnessing to his health care workers. He gave all. What an example.

To me, he was and is a great example of a hero.

Every day, I miss him. I can’t wait to see him and have his arms around me in heaven. Let’s dance, Daddy. I love you.

The Love of Christ

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” – EPHESIANS 3:14‭-‬19 NASB

What is the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ? It surpasses knowledge. It completely wraps us up and covers us. It is deeper than the deepest oceans, higher than the farthest stars; more all-encompassing than the entire universe. It is warmer than the thickest fur coat, and more soothing than the softest silk or flannel on our skin. His Love covers every person, every situation, and there’s still enough left over to fill our world.

Why is it so difficult to believe?

Our own flaws keep us from the Love He offers, as we try to compare the incomparable to the imperfect, and we view Him through our distorted lense of life. If our human fathers were capable of displaying God’s qualities of impartiality and unconditional love, we would understand God! Our earthly fathers are bound by the same sinful spirits as we are, subject to that stinkin’ thinkin’ the Enemy introduced into the Garden; our free will prevents us from ever being perfect. However, we have been given an amazing example in Jesus Christ, and despite their flaws, many earthly fathers strive to provide an example of the love and forgiveness of our Father. I was blessed to have a father who loved God and who strove to be a godly man, in spite of his imperfect human nature.

This Father’s Day, maybe we can focus on the qualities that we see in our dad’s that perhaps reflect some of that love from the Lord. As humans, we can’t even comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth ….. which surpasses knowledge, the Love of Jesus Christ, but we can express our human love as appropriately and completely as we do understand it. May all of the fathers be strengthened with that power through Christ’s Spirit in their inner man, so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” – EPHESIANS 3:20-‬21 NASB

Salt

“You shall not omit from your grain offerings the salt of the covenant with your GOD; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.” – Leviticus 2:13 NRSV

JESUS compares His followers (that includes us) to salt: “Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; they throw it away. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” – Luke 14:34‭-‬35 NRSV

“Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” – Mark 9:50 NRSV

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” – Matthew 5:13 NRSV

Salt. It is mentioned over 40 times in the Bible, and it’s a crucial element in human survival. Salt was used as a type of currency in several civilizations because of it’s high value, including the ancient Romans and Carthagenians. As late as the 20th century, pound bars of salt were used as such in Ethiopia. It’s versatile, being used for everything from preservation, cleaning, stain removal, arts and crafts, deodorizing, flavor enhancing, fast-chilling agent, and can even be used as a wallpatch. Salt is, simply, essential to life on earth.

A preacher (okay, my Dad!) explained how salt would lose it’s saltiness. In ancient times, and in JESUS’ time, salt would often be collected on the shores of the sea, and would contain impurities. As it was exposed to condensation due to being stored in open containers, or if it were exposed to rain, the salt would dissolve, thus losing it’s ‘saltiness.’ As followers of CHRIST, we become the ‘salt of the earth.’ when our focus shifts from HIM, we lose our ‘saltiness.’ We lose our ability to season lives in order that we can all ‘taste’ of the LORD. King David, in his Psalms, said “O taste and see that the LORD is Good; happy are those who take refuge in Him. O fear the LORD, you His Holy ones, for those who fear Him have no want.” – Psalms 34:8‭-‬9 NRSV

Just as our bodies die when we don’t have enough salt, our souls die without the Salt of the SAVIOUR. Our job as Christians is to show others how much better our lives can be – will be – when we have JESUS in our hearts, in our minds, and in our souls. As I imagine Paul would say to us, “Go forth and season the world with the Love of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, SAVIOUR, and our FRIEND.”

Photo credit: https://www.younesrejser.dk/

Hippies, Rock ‘n Roll, Free Spirits

Anybody relate to those words? I do! Livin’ the life, free to live, free to love…. I wonder how many others felt the tugs and restraints on their hearts that I did whenever I immersed myself in that life? I know it was GOD, holding me back from utter destruction, but I wrestled and fought Him enough to put myself in spiritual and physical danger many times. It is only by His Mercy and Grace that I am here today. There was more than one occassion where I know that the only reason I did not die was because of the angels who surrounded me and protected me. Satan had a tight grip on my soul and he did not want to let me go! An old (figuratively speaking 😎) rock and roller, Zach Williams, co-wrote a song called “Survivor” that resonates with my soul. The chorus goes like this:

“God Your Love came crashing in, And pulled me out of the the fire …. You’re my GOD, You’re my Fighter, You make me a survivor.”

I love that last sentence! I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor. Satan does his best to make us victims; GOD and GOD alone makes us survivors. What are you, victim or survivor? Just changing that word in your thinking can go a long ways to getting your heart free from the enemy! In the recovery program I was involved in, that distinction became very important, even critical, as I worked with women in the throes of their hurts, habits, and hangups. Changing your mindset can help you get started on the road to recovery. Taking the next step and accepting JESUS; asking Him to be your partner on the journey is the most important thing anyone will ever do. His Love will come crashing in, and He will pull you out of the fire….. I testify to that!

“Whoever believes in the SON has Eternal LIFE; whoever disobeys the SON will not see Life, but must endure GOD’s Wrath.” – John 3:36 NRSV

Free spirits, free love, rock and roll – we thought that would set us free in our lives. Instead, the enemy used those things ( and still does!) to bind us in chains. The only way – hold on, I need to repeat that, with emphasis – the ONLY WAY to break the chains, the ONLY WAY to escape the fires of the enemy, the ONLY WAY to be a true survivor rather than a victim, is to turn to JESUS CHRIST as your LORD and SAVIOUR. He is the Great Physician Who can heal our hurts and afflictions; He is the Lover of our Souls, and He wants only one thing: for us to accept Him so that we can spend eternity in the true paradise of Heaven. People say that we have ‘hell on earth’. I’m here to remind you that hell is not here, although it certainly seems like it sometimes. No, Hell is a very real place, a place of unimaginable horror and agony, and it, like Heaven, exists now and forever. If you truly think this is hell on earth, I shudder to think how you will perceive the reality of Hell when faced with it.

I encourage you to turn to JESUS today, right now. There’s an old hymn that my Dad had sung at the end of so many services; a hymn that I adore. Listen closely to these words:

  1. Just as I am, without one plea,
    But that Thy blood was shed for me,
    And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
  2. Just as I am, and waiting not
    To rid my soul of one dark blot,
    To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
  3. Just as I am, though tossed about
    With many a conflict, many a doubt,
    Fightings and fears within, without,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
  4. Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
    Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
    Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
  5. Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
    Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
    Because Thy promise I believe,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
  6. Just as I am, Thy love unknown
    Hath broken every barrier down;
    Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.