Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Emmanuel at Easter

I am reading through Walter Wangerin's Lenten devotional book, Revive the Passion.  (I recommend it highly, along with his Advent devotional, Preparing for Jesus.) A recent day's reading started with Mark 14:53-65.  In this powerful passage of Scripture, we see Jesus at the home of the high priest. "They all condemned Him as deserving death.  And some began to spit on Him and to cover His face and to strike Him, saying to Him, 'Prophesy!' And the guards received Him with blows."  It is gruesome and should be overwhelming as we read how our Lord was treated because of our sin.

As I finished reading these verses, a song started playing in my mind... It is a Christmas song on Casting Crowns' "Peace on Earth" CD. It was my favorite song this past Christmas season. The part resonating in my mind goes "Love is raining down on the world tonight, there's a presence here I can tell. God is with us, God is for us, God is with us, Emmanuel.  He's the Savior we have been waiting for. In our humble hearts, He will dwell. God is with us. God is for us. God is with us, Emmanuel."

It seems odd to be singing a Christmas song as Easter is approaching... as the focus is on the Cross not the Manger.. and yet...

At Christmas those words are wrapped up like swaddling clothes around a tiny baby in a manger -- hope personified -- all pretty and sweet and real.

As I look towards Easter.. towards Calvary and the Crucifixion of that sweet babe grown to manhood, those words are still true. They are now nailed to a cross with a battered and bleeding Savior. In fact, in some ways I believe they fit at Easter more than at Christmas.

As Jesus hung on the cross, God's wrath rained down on Him and yet love... true love... God's love.. rained down on the world. On me... on you... on all who ever has been and ever will be...No doubt the presence of God was there.. No doubt He was still Emmanuel on that Cross... "God with us" was crucified -- willingly for our sins.  That is a gut wrenching thought for me.. and it should be for you.

He was at that moment beaten and bare.. bruised... abused... dying and yet still the Savior the world was waiting for... He is still that Savior today.  THE Only Savior and many in the world continue to wait for Him... some who don't realize He has come and those of us who await His final triumphant return.  God does now dwell in our hearts through the Holy Spirit -- Emmanuel is real today -- He is God with us and He lives in those who choose to Believe!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Word of the Year: Choice

I am woefully behind on this blog!  I realized that I haven't even posted my word for the year. I started this tradition with myself in 2008. My word then was Gratitude. 2009: Peace. 2010: Change (I was not thrilled about that one, but it was perfect for that year!) My 2011 word did not come quickly as the others had. In fact, I really wondered if I would have a word. I kept trying to make words fit instead of waiting on the Lord to show me. I am a bit surprised my word isn't patience!  But He did show me late in January... Choice.

Life really is all about Choices.

I choose to sleep a bit longer or get up and have time with God

I choose to respond to someone in love or anger

I choose to exercise or sit on the couch

I choose to eat healthy or not

I choose what goes into my mind, my mouth, my heart etc.

I choose ow I spend my time, where I spend it, who I spend it with etc.

I choose to obey or disobey the Lord

I choose to take Him at His Word -- BELIEVE Him... have FAITH in Him... or not to

I choose to Walk in Faith or stumble around on my own

I choose to wait patiently on His timing or to try to make something happen on my own or to grumble as I wait

The list goes on and on and on and on.. and almost daily He shows me how CHOICE affects my life.

I pray that I will be like Mary and choose the Better thing!

Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42