Remember the Whole Story

[Jesus said,] My soul is sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

Matthew 26:38 (KJV)

My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and watch with me.

Matthew 26:38 (NLT)

So many times, we turn the death of Jesus into a storybook tale with a happy ending: the resurrection. I truly appreciate the reality of suffering depicted by Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Jesus came from heaven, God’s son, and lived as a man.

Today as we celebrate the first day of spring, I am reminded of the new life that Jesus promises us. He did rise from the grave, so that we might have eternal life! He makes us new in him! It is amazing! However, we cannot forget the suffering that Jesus went through during the process of His crucifixion and simply revel in the joy of the resurrection. We need to remember the whole story.

Jesus experienced temptation and felt pain. Emotional pain struck His heart as He was betrayed and abandoned by His closest friends. He also felt physical pain, unbearable to the point of death, yet He continued in suffering.

Verse 42 demonstrates the battle between flesh and spirit as Jesus asks of God, His Father, if there be any other way. Jesus, as a man, did not want to suffer and die. Yet, Jesus, as our Savior, was willing to fulfill the plan of the Father. Are you willing to give up your plans and your feelings in order to complete God’s will in your life?

In verse 53, Jesus says,

Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and He would send them instantly?

Jesus knew the reality of the power of God! How much more difficult for Him to continue suffering, knowing all He had to do was speak the word and angels would be summoned to deliver Him! Jesus overcame temptation. Jesus bore our punishment because of love.

This was not easy for Jesus. He did not use some supernatural anesthesia to help Him get through it. The crucifixion of Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice, a labor of love, secured redemption for all mankind. Will you accept it?

Will you believe in Jesus?

It’s as easy as A, B, C:

A. Admit you are a sinner.

B. Believe that Jesus is God’s only son, that He died for you, that He rose again, and that He sent His spirit to dwell within you.

C. Confess your sins to God, and He is faithful and just to forgive you.

This first day of spring become a new person in Christ Jesus! 🌷

Where the presence of God is or is not? That is the question.

The presence of the Lord certainly was evident in our church services in Zambia. (A short video of praise in Bimba language)

Have you ever known anyone who makes the same terrible decision again and again resulting in catastrophic repercussions? Yet, he or she, when given another opportunity, repeats the action again. Often times, I think to myself (or even say out loud), “What are they thinking?” “Will they ever learn?” “Will I?”

There is a character in the Bible like this, many actually, but one person specifically comes to mind and that is Samson. Samson possessed a calling upon his life from before he was born. His mother and his father received a declaration from the Lord that they would have a son, and he would “deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5b). Take time to read the entire story of Samson in Judges chapters 13 through 16.

Samson did many mighty things. His strength seemed super natural, much like that of a superhero in the movies. Samson’s strength came from the Lord. The spirit of the Lord would move upon Samson and grant him the strength he needed to defeat the enemy.

Although Samson was called and chosen by the Lord, he made many mistakes. Samson showed weakness when it came to choosing women. The women Samson chose to love were not godly women, and Samson even went against the counsel of his parents to marry anyway. He suffered great heart ache due to his first marriage (Judges ch. 14).

The last woman Samson loved was Delilah. This maybe one of the most famous love stories in the Bible. Most people have at least heard the names: Samson and Delilah. The details are quite sad.

Delilah agreed to deliver Samson to the Philistines for a payout of 1100 pieces of silver (Judges 16:5). She enticed him and inquired of him, “how may you be bound to afflict you?” (Judges 16:6) Why would someone who loves me need to know how to afflict me? The question of the hour, yet, Sampson did not seem threatened by her inquiry, he just told her a lie. While he slept, she carried out the steps Samson said it would take to afflict him, then called for the Philistines & they attacked Sampson, but his strength saved him.

Even after realizing she had tied him up and put him in danger, Samson came back into Delilah. Two more times Samson created stories of how he might be defeated, and Delilah called in the Philistines.

Samson defeated the Philistines three times in Delilah’s care. Finally, Delilah nagged and nagged Samson every day for the truth. The Bible says, “…his soul was annoyed to death.” (Judges 16: 26b)

“So he told her all that was in his heart.” (Judges 16:17)

Delilah had his head shaved as he slept upon her lap, called for the Philistines, and when Samson awoke, he had no strength.

One of the saddest scriptures in the Bible: “But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.” (Judges 16:20b)

The Philistines captured Sampson, gouged out his eyes, bound him with chains, and made him a slave to push a grinder like an animal.

Have you ever experienced the presence of the Lord?

Have you ever been in a place where you knew the presence of the Lord was not?

We need to be more aware of God’s presence. Without Him we have no hope. Ask God to let His spirit guide you every day. Don’t lay in the lap of sin so many times that you neglect to even recognize it’s sin anymore. The consequences are too great. We must live in the presence of God every day.

Perhaps you feel like you’ve stepped out of the presence of God. Come back to Him. As long as you are living, it’s not too late.

Judges 16:22 tells us,”However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it was shaved off.”

Judges 16:28 says, “Then Samson called to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me….'”

The Lord remembered Samson, returned his strength to him for one final feat, and “…the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life.” (Judges 16:30)

Call upon the Lord today. Be in his presence. Stop walking in places where God spirit is not.

Reaching up from the waves.

Matthew 14:24-33(NLT)

Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the


“Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

As you read this excerpt from the Bible, imagine the feeling of being overtaken by waves of crashing water. The thought of drowning brings fear & anxiety. I’ve heard many people say they feel like they are “drowning in debt“, “drowning in sorrow”, “drowning in work”, and many other examples.

Life happens: the good & the bad. Sometimes I feel like I’m sinking as I struggle with my thoughts & sometimes my actions. The waves of doubt & insecurity threaten to drown me.

I’m thankful for Jesus. I know He’s there to lift me up. He will walk beside me through the crashing waves.

He’s here for you, too. Take the time to call upon Him. Trust Him. Don’t doubt.

I’m so selfish.

Luke 2:17

And when they had seen it, they may known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

A friend of mine has a young son who is eight years old. The other day he had a list numbered 1 to 20 and filled in all he wanted for Christmas. The mother, shocked by the lengthy list, said, “Son, you cannot have 20 gifts for Christmas. Perhaps three, four, or maybe five, but certainly not 20.”

The little boy began to cry. He was heartbroken by the prospect of only a few Christmas presents. The mother explained how much money it required to purchase all these gifts. She asked her son, “Do you want Mommy to work all the time?”

Upon further reflection, she sat down with her son and explained the reason Christmas is celebrated. She told him of God’s great love for mankind, and how God gave us His best gift by sending His only son, Jesus, to be born. Jesus came from heaven to earth as a newborn baby, grew to be a young boy, and then a man. He then died on the cross to pay for our sins and rose again on the third day, so we all might live forever with Him in heaven.

Often times we neglect to teach our children basic life stories. It seems that we consider the gift of Jesus as common knowledge, but so many haven’t heard. The Bible tells us in Romans, “…how shall they hear without a preacher.” (Ch. 10 vs. 14) As parents we must teach our children, so they will know.

How precious it was when my friend received a note from her young son after she told him the real reason for Christmas.

“Dear Mommy and Daddy,

All I want for Christmas is nothing. I know Christmas is not about presents. Sorry I am being selfish.”

Such wisdom and understanding from a young boy! I believe we can all learn a valuable lesson from my friend. Christmas is about Jesus. Share this good news with everyone you can. Teach the next generation of God’s greatest gift to us. Happy birthday, Jesus!

My Christmas High Horse

Acts 24:15

And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

In this easily offended world of political correctness, many of our traditional, secular, Christmas carols have come under attack by various equal rights groups. Honestly, in my opinion, this campaign has gone too far. Certainly, we must honor one another and treat each other with kindness and respect, but tearing apart a song written decades or centuries ago by proclaiming ill intent, desecrates traditions I hold dear.

Music has long been an avenue of free speech. Listen to the lyrics of many rock, rap, or even country songs and one can easily find offensive material. Yet, I have the freedom to choose my genre of music. I have the ability to change the radio station and move on with my life without judging the preferences of others.

I patiently wait 11 months a year for the Christmas season to come around. I sing carols; I wear festive clothing; I eat my favorite comfort foods; I watch feel good movies; and, I set my radio on Christmas music. I find it disheartening to think some of my favorites might be put on a “ban” list. Most of the songs are lighthearted and written from a place of family, love, and spending time with loved ones. Certainly, some lyrics can be interpreted poorly, but can’t we just use this as a teaching moment and not take everything so seriously and critically? When it comes right down to it, these are simply songs sung one month a year. They were never intended to be an outline to define a lifestyle, just entertainment for a season.

In light of all this, I’ve actually been thinking more of the Christian Christmas carols we sing. There are many phrases that we sing and don’t really think about the meaning of the words. Take time as you are worshiping this season and think about what you are saying and give God the glory! A few of my favorite phrases follow:

…God and sinner reconciled…

Hark the Herald Angel Sings

…the thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices…

O Holy Night

… when you’ve kissed your little baby, you’ve kissed the face of God…

Mary Did You Know

… The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight…

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem

The New Normal

Micah 6:8

…do justly, …love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.

One day a lady from church made the comment, “We have a church full of misfits, and I fit right in.” Upon first hearing a statement like that, as the pastor’s wife, I might be inclined to take offense. I mean really, what does that say about me?

I can remember a discussion with my husband I while back and stating, “No one is normal but us.” Now, I can honestly say I believe no one is “normal” because everybody’s “normal” is different. We are all reflections of our upbringing and experiences, and no 2 of us have the exact same life circumstances from which to draw.

If we are all so different, then how can we ever walk in unity? My first thought goes to the Bible. We have had the privilege of traveling to different parts of the world, and let me assure you, “normal” Africa is not the same as “normal” America, for an example.

In Zambia there is something called “load sharing”, and at any given time, your water or electricity might cut off for hours at a time. You cannot easily hop into your car and run to McDonald’s for supper if the electricity goes off because we never even saw a McDonald’s! You must learn to be flexible and improvise because your normal routine frequently gets interrupted. However, one similarity we’ve witnessed between the nations is the Spirit of the Lord we felt during worship. We must base our normal on the examples we find in the Bible, not upon the circumstances of life.

Matthew 1:17 tells us there are 14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 generations from David to the Babylonian exile, and 14 generations from Babylon until Christ. Now, Abraham built an altar, David drew plans for a temple and Solomon erected the temple, Daniel prayed in his room three times a day, and, each of these mighty men worshiped God in their generation in a way they they thought was “normal”, then Jesus….

Think about John the Baptist. The Pharisees & Sadducees had been worshiping in the Jewish temple for generations. They followed a strict set of rules and rocked along like “normal”.

John came from the wilderness wearing fur instead of linen, eating locust and honey instead of bread, and baptizing people in the dirty Jordan River! People flocked to John amazed by his new message of repentance, then Jesus….

John did something extremely abnormal. Instead of holding tight to his followers, he told them to go and follow another. John encouraged his “church membership”, so to speak, to leave and join “the Jesus movement”. That’s not normal!

Jesus looked the part, unlike John, but His methods were extraordinary. Jesus spoke to sinners; He broke bread with them; He took time to minister to women; and, He worked on the Sabbath. Jesus healed Jews and Gentiles. His love showed no boundaries. Jesus did not excuse sin. On the contrary, He accepted people where they were, ministered to their needs, and then encouraged them “to go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

Our “new normal” should be to follow after Jesus. Read about Him, pray to Him, and live like Him.

Live your life according to Micah 6:8.

“…what doth The Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

A Day of Thankfulness

Psalm 100

Oh Lord, you are the Almighty God. There is none like you. As I watch the sunset, observe the animals play, and see the mighty waterfalls, I’m again convinced of your greatness.

You love your people all over the earth and wish for them to serve you. Show me how to love them like you do. Teach me to lead them to you.

Oh Lord, the visions and dreams you put into the heart of man! I cannot comprehend the vastness of your plans. Thank you for allowing me to be a part. Thank you for the opportunities you’ve given me to go.

Step by step reveal to me what you want for my life. Thank you for the blessings and lessons of my past. Thank you for your grace up on my future. Thank you for safe passage. Thank you for family patience. Thank you for perspective. Thank you for opening my eyes to truth. Of all the things I hold important, you are really all that matters. Seeking you, loving you, sharing you with others.

Life does not look the same, taste the same, feel the same, sound the same, or smell the same all over the earth. However, the purpose of life remains the same: to know God, serve God, and love God through our every day actions whether it be in a village or city or palace.

Help me God to represent you well. Help me to show Jesus to others. Give me the words of life to make a difference.

Thank you for today! Thank you for yesterday! Thank you for tomorrow. I love you, Jesus!