Songs for Sunday: Where He Leads Me

This hymn has been running around in my head for a couple of weeks now, and I catch myself humming the melody. We often sang it as an “Invitation Hymn” at church when I was a kid.

Where He Leads Me

  1. I can hear my Savior calling,
    I can hear my Savior calling,
    I can hear my Savior calling,
    “Take thy cross and follow, follow Me.”

    • Refrain:
      Where He leads me I will follow,
      Where He leads me I will follow,
      Where He leads me I will follow,
      I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
  2. I’ll go with Him through the waters,
    I’ll go with Him through the waters,
    I’ll go with Him through the waters,
    I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
  3. I’ll go with Him through the garden,
    I’ll go with Him through the garden,
    I’ll go with Him through the garden,
    I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
  4. I’ll go with Him to dark Calv’ry,
    I’ll go with Him to dark Calv’ry,
    I’ll go with Him to dark Calv’ry,
    I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
  5. I’ll go with Him to the judgment,
    I’ll go with Him to the judgment,
    I’ll go with Him to the judgment,
    I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
  6. He will give me grace and glory,
    He will give me grace and glory,
    He will give me grace and glory,
    And go with me, with me all the way.

My usual hymn research sites didn’t offer much information about E. W. Blandy (also spelled “Blandly” ) other than a brief statement in Hymnary.org, saying  he was a Salvation Army officer and had written the lyrics after given the choice between “a comfortable post at an established church, and an alternate assignment to the New York City waterfront and slum called Hell’s Kitchen.” He went to Hell’s Kitchen.

John S. Norris (1844-1907) composed the beautiful melody.  He was a Methodist pastor who changed to the Congregationalist denomination, and continued ministering there. He pastored several churches over about a thirty year timespan. According to Hymn Time, he wrote several hymns,

Hymn Time also says that the hymn was written in 1890, but gave no information how the two men might have collaborated.

When I started surfing YouTube looking for recordings of this song, I really didn’t find much that I wanted to use. I wanted to find something that was arranged as closely to the original as I could get. At first I thought the only one what was really close was a recording by Willie Nelson. If you know anything about Willie’s style, particularly his musical phrasing, you know why that is strange. However, Willie does a great job with this one. If you want to (I know Ed will), you can hear it here.

Finally, I found this really nice recording by Lynda Randle.  It was “provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group North America”.

What about you?
Are you following Him?
See you in church!

Connie

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Guest Post: Defining the Problem

Hi! My name is Ed Hall, Connie’s husband. We blog together at Old Folks At Homestead. I think I get the honor of being her first guest blogger on This Little Light of Mine.

Besides being married, and both being veterans and writers, we share one more thing. We were both sexually abused as children. No, today I am not going to tell my story of abuse. That probably will come later, but today I want to take another direction with you.

My intent today is to try to help you understand the scope and implications of child sexual abuse in the physical world and, more importantly, the spiritual world. So how do I get folks to see the extent of the problem? Let’s try this.

You and I are going to the Mall. Its a nice mall with a second level. We might look for some lunch later, but all we want to do now is browse. Me being me, I need a cup of coffee. So we go to the second floor, find the coffee shop and I get a cup of their strongest, black.

Then we go to the rail and stand looking at the big crowds on the first floor because people watching is always fun. Has Connie ever mentioned what a klutz I am? Well I am. So we are talking and suddenly my coffee cup slips through my fingers and falls straight down.

Before the coffee cup hits anyone, we know that the odds are 1 in 10 it will hit a victim of child sexual assault. If our crowd is a thousand people that means a 100 of them have likely been abused sexually as a child.

Once it hits and we can identify gender, the odds say that 1 in every 7 females have been victims of child sexual abuse. If the crowd is half men and women that would be about 72 women.

If it hits a guy he stands about a 1 in 25 chance of being sexually abused which would mean about 20 of them would be guys. The final 8 represent reports where gender is unknown.

So a hundred people out of a thousand with over seventy girls and about twenty boys. How many kids go to school with your kids? How many people attend your church? With how many people do you work?

Have I got your attention yet? That is a lot of people and a lot of damage. Here is the hard fact. Even with the emphasis on the problem, it is still greatly under reported. So how bad is it really?

Had we an exact number, it still would not fully explain how bad the problem is, because it does not address what the outcomes of early sexualization of children are. The jury is still out on that, but we know that child sexual abuse has been linked to:

Changes in brain chemistry. Similar conditions to Combat related PTSD are seen in survivors.

Emotional and mental problems which include, but are not limited to, failure to mature along set lines, suicidal thoughts and intentions, drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders and a plethora of other related problems.

Physical illness ,which include a higher incidence of every disease that relates to high stress.

So we know that we have a great problem here in this physical world, but how does it effect the spiritual world? I think we have the question backwards brothers and sisters. The problem stems from the spiritual world, and we are just seeing the bleed over in the physical. When you see confusion, lies, pain, and people turning away from God, then the devil is at work.

Nowhere in the Prince of this World’s work is confusion, pain, lies, shame, and people turning away from the true God more evident than in child sexual abuse.

The people of earth are engaged in a Spiritual War that has raged since before time, and whose ultimate end will come as time ends. There are no Conscientious Objectors to this war. You are either a Combatant or a victim. There is no middle ground.

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:2-4

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:13-14

 

Jesus_Blessing_the_Children
“Christ blessing the Children” Bernhard Plockhorst  Public Domain

Jesus had a special place in his heart for children, and he makes us understand that there is something about children that is an absolute necessity if any of us, children or hoary old men like me, want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. What could these attributes that God values above all others be?

May I suggest, innocence, trust, boundless love, a surpassing joy, honesty and faith in Him above all else? Does that seem like what you see when you are overjoyed by a baby’s laugh and the sparkle in their eyes?

The betrayal of child sexual abuse and violence destroys all these traits that God, and us by the way, cherish in children. Satan could not have invented a better tool to destroy a child’s ability to relate to and trust God than sexual abuse.

Most abusers are male and sometimes this male is the step-father or father. In all cases of child sexual abuse the victim loses trust in the adults who are supposed to protect them. Its all up to them now to protect themselves and survive this trauma.

So how do you think that effects a person’s relationship with Father God? Father is the one who should have protected me or, worse yet, father is the one who harmed me. I can tell you from personal experience it took me awhile to see father as anything other than a Christmas Check, a monthly letter and the guy who showed up from time to time smelling of after shave. So what was Father God to me? Where was His relevance?

We must, as a church, quit sitting on the sidelines in a war between the Great Deceiver and our children. The Seducing Spirit, Oppressor, Anti-Christ, or whatever else you what to call him, is after our children. Now, what are we going to do about it?

When we attack child sexual abuse, we are attacking the crowning jewel of the kingdom of hell, but that is why the Church of God is still here on this earth. We have  an enemy to oppose, in a war that God has already won. For Connie and I, our part in the battle includes protecting children, and showing those already taken captive the way to freedom.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Hold_the_fort_LCCN2002695873
“Hold the Fort” (Popular Graphic Arts [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 


Ephesians 6:12-13

All statistics and other information about the effects of child sexual abuse were found here.

 

Songs for Sunday: Clean

The first time I heard this song, I bawled like a baby.  I knew exactly what it was about before I ever heard Natalie Grant explain that she had written this song after a friend had spoken to her about being sexually molested as a child.  God really spoke through Natalie with this one, and it is a powerful reminder to anyone who has experienced His supernatural cleansing.

Clean

I see shattered
You see whole
I see broken
But You see beautiful
And You’re helping me
To believe
You’re restoring me piece by piece

There’s nothing too dirty that You can’t make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean.
There’s nothing too dirty that You can’t make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean

What was dead now
Lives again
My heart’s beating
Beating inside my chest
Oh I’m coming alive with joy and destiny
Cause You’re restoring me piece by piece

There’s nothing too dirty that You can’t make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean.
There’s nothing too dirty that You can’t make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean.

Washed in the blood of Your sacrifice
Your blood flowed red and made me white
My dirty rags are purified
I am clean
Washed in the blood of Your sacrifice
Your blood flowed red and made me white
My dirty rags are purified
I am clean, I’m clean
Washed in the blood of Your sacrifice
Your blood flowed red and made me white
My dirty rags are purified
I’m clean
Oh I’m clean
I’m clean
Oh you make me
You wash me
Clean

The song was released on Natalie’s album entitled “Be One” in  2015.

Isn’t that beautiful?

See you in church!

Connie

My Story

First, let me apologize for being so late with this post. Ed and I were having to deal with a very sick geriatric dog, and she took up most of our time for a few weeks. She’s better now, but she’s still requires more attention than she used to.

Then, I really struggled with writing this post. I struggled with how much to tell you, not because I’m hiding anything, but because I didn’t want to overwhelm you. I’m praying for the Lord’s guidance for what to say now, and what to save for another time. I also struggled because there are going to be some people who don’t want to hear what I have to say.

Anyway, in a recent post,I started talking about sisters in Christ, and how we should behave toward each other, because the church is full of hurting people. I said that I would tell you my story, and I will, but please understand that the last line won’t be written until the Lord comes back, or He calls me home. Like all of you, I am still a work in progress, and always will be as long as I’m here.

I’m telling you my story, because you might have one like it, or know someone who does. This is the story of how not to do it. Please don’t think I got by with anything, because I didn’t. The only reason I’m even here to tell you about it, is through the work of God through Jesus Christ, and all the glory goes to Him.

So, how to begin? Sometimes its hard to tell your own story without telling stories that aren’t yours to tell, so out of respect for those other stories, I’m leaving out a few details, but you’ll get the idea.

My Mom’s dad was a preacher (I’ve written about him a little before), a real “hell fire and brimstone” evangelist. My dad’s father was a Pennsylvania coal miner who had moved to the Midwest looking for work. They were from the “wrong side of the tracks” if you know what I mean. I don’t even know how my parents managed to get together at all, but they did, and then they had to get married. I was born in October of 1963.

Mom and Dad got divorced when I was four, and for the next couple years, I spent most of my time with my mom’s maternal grandmother. She loved me and I loved her right back. It was probably the one place that was “normal” and I always felt safe with her. I also have some vivid memories of being with my dad in his shoe repair shop during that time. I don’t remember spending a lot of time with Mom then, but I know she was working nights, and was probably sleeping when I was awake.

Grandma was Lutheran and my mom’s parents were non-denominational, so there was always some contention there, but Grandma was the one who read me Bible stories, taught me prayers, sang me songs, and taught me her favorite scripture:

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3 KJV)

me and grandma
Me and my great grandma Marie

Most of the things I’ve written about before on this blog, occurred during the same time as the following paragraphs. It just shows what a contradictory, conflicted world I lived in.

In 1970, my dad left Missouri, and went to Georgia. I don’t remember anything about that at all, other than he was gone. Mom met and married her second husband in 1971. My half sister was born in December of that year. My step father was unlike anyone I had ever known before, and I didn’t like him at all. He was loud and scary. He used bad words. He was verbally and emotionally abusive to my mother, and he was mean to animals. He was also a drunk; a mean drunk. He screamed, cursed, and threw and broke things.

He was also very intelligent; both an Army and Air Force veteran. He was a fireman paramedic. He was a gourmet cook and could sew beautifully. It some point he took charge of my school work. I remember walking home from school and seeing his car at home and feeling nauseous. It was a feeling with which I would become all too familiar. My mom was his third wife, but apparently wife number two had the most perfect children. They cleaned, they did dishes, they were everything I was not. I would later figure out that was part of a pattern.

I wasn’t a bad student, but my work was never good enough. Later, when I was in high school, he would insist that I take a math and a science every year. I really wasn’t very good at math, and I hated it. I could do the science OK, as long I didn’t have to do much math with it. My gifts however, were with music and language. When I was grown, someone told me that he often bragged on how smart I was. That was also part of a pattern.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Although there were years of mental and emotional abuse, the core of the trauma occurred when I was ten. That was when he informed me that he was going to teach me about boys, so I would know how to behave around them. The lessons were “hands on”. It probably only went on for a few months, but it seems a lot longer. I knew it was wrong, but he told me if I told anyone that he would have to go away, and we wouldn’t have any money. I did tell though. I told a babysitter, who told her mother, who made a phone call to family services.

Things were different in those days. They made him move out. Yes, there was an investigation, and there was no doubt he had done what I said he had done. However, they felt that taking it to trial would be too traumatic for me. They told my mom that it would probably be best to ask me if he could come back home. Well, now, what do you think I said?

I said, “I don’t have my dad and it wouldn’t be fair for my sister not to have hers.”

For years, I didn’t even remember saying it. I also didn’t remember him asking me why I told. My response to him was, “God wanted me to.” to which he replied, “Well, God and your big mouth got me in a lot of trouble.” and with that, after three months, he moved back in. He lived with us for five more years, and even though he never touched me again, the damage was done.

I had counseling for awhile, but the real issues were never addressed, and we didn’t talk about it at home. Although my maternal grandparents knew about it, I was not allowed to tell my great grandma, because my mom was afraid the shock might kill her. She was a smart woman, though, and figured it out herself. I know she did because of a conversation she had with my step dad shortly before he left. She told him that she knew what kind of man he was and if he wanted to know what kind of man he was, he could call them down at 26th and Cherry. That was the location of the family services. So she knew, but she never talked to me about it.

I was still in touch with my dad , but I couldn’t tell him either. When I was 12, I got to go visit him in the summer, but I never told him. I eventually told my step mom, and she told him. He and I talk every week, but I’ve never really talked to him about it. Not really. Strangely, I think there is still some shame and embarrassment attached to it for me.

Me and Dad Queen City
Me and my dad

We had gone to church off and on my whole life, but we didn’t start going regularly until we moved back to Sibley, when I was a young teenager. I was involved in youth group, and like most of the kids in the group, I knew all the right answers, but my life at home had little resemblance to what it should have been.

Although I never got in any trouble at school, I started smoking when I was 13, and drinking when I was about 15. My step dad wasn’t crazy about my smoking, but he often provided the booze. He and I developed a strange sort of relationship, I suppose. I think he may have been picking up on something that I didn’t realize myself for many years: I was angry. It didn’t really show because anger wasn’t allowed, at least not for me. (I could spend a lot of time on that). Oh, I had the same “fits” that all teenagers have, but that deep boiling rage was well below the conscious surface.

Like I said before, he never touched me again, but he did ask me once. I said no. Not too long before they split, I was once again awakened in the middle of the night by cursing, screaming and crying. The next morning, my mother was gone somewhere, and my step dad was obviously hung over. I told him that he needed to remember that he had taught me to use “that shotgun in there” and if I ever heard him speak to my mother that way again, I’d used it on him.

He and Mom split when I was 15 (there we get into someone else’s story, so I’ll leave it at that). Mom remarried the following year. I graduated at 17, my great grandma died, and I joined the Army, taking with me my combination of rage and shame, an addiction to tobacco, and a taste for booze.

Skinny Me
About a year before I got out of the Army.  I was all booze and tobacco and not much food.

For the next 28 years or so, my life was a series of poor, often abusive relationships, extra marital affairs, two failed marriages, desperate times of reaching out for God and trying to “do it right”, and then falling back into the pit. Times of trying to get counseling, and times of trying to figure it out myself. Times of complete sobriety and times when I lived in a bottle.

During that time, I gave birth to three children, and lost two others through miscarriage. I did my best to be a good mom, but like most of us, I could have done better. Let me stop here and say that all these things were the result of choices I made. Other people get molested and don’t make those choices, and some make worse ones. Everyone reacts differently to trauma, but I know for certain that had I not been exposed to certain things when I was, some choices would have been very different.

me and kids
My kids and I

I quit smoking in 2001 because the doctor told me that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t live to see my baby girl grow up. In about 2004 or 2005, I got a diagnosis of Bi Polar disorder. In 2006, I stopped drinking completely, and in 2007 or 2008, I got a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes (when I quit smoking, I started eating). My marriage of nearly 25 years was a marriage in name only, and when my husband was home (he was an over the road truck driver), we slept in different rooms. In 2009, I made a phone call that changed my life, although I couldn’t see it at the time.

God never condones sin, and he certainly didn’t condone mine, but he used the place my sin brought me to not only bring me back to him, but bring someone else too.

I met Ed when I was stationed in Korea in 1982. He was an older, married man, and my friend. He was like the big brother I never had, and I absolutely adored him. We tried to keep in touch after we left Korea, but things got in the way, and I lost track of him. Along with a few other Army friends I lost track of, when I got a computer and the internet, I started looking for him.

I found him in January of 2009. He was no longer married, his children were grown, and he had entered a hedonistic lifestyle. He told me that he loved me, and that he had always loved me. I went to see him that April. In the following weeks after I came back home, he had a decision to make. Would he kill himself, or would he get on a bus and come to me? He sat in his barn with the rope in his hand, before deciding to live. He came to me in May. By August my husband had moved out, and Ed moved in. By June of the next year, I lost my rental house and we had to move. I had been still going to church that whole time acting like everything was normal! Was I in the dark or what?

Oh, Ed had become a full blown alcoholic (a “raging drunk” as he calls it) before he came out to Missouri. The day he arrived, he asked if he could pick up a six pack. I told him that I’d rather he didn’t. He hasn’t had a drink since. This coming May, it will be ten years.

Well after we moved, we changed churches and Ed started going with me. We were married in that church in 2013, and we seriously committed ourselves to the Lord. Ed admitted that when he was younger, he had wanted to preach, but was told that he didn’t have “the calling”. He also admitted that he also had been sexually abused as a child.

ed connie cake
Our wedding, September 2013

As for my stepfather, he died in 1985 at the age of 47. I eventually learned that I was not his only victim, that there were at least three more. I’ll be talking about that more in up coming posts, or as much as I can. I will tell you that to the later victims, I was painted as that perfect child. Now I wonder what really happened to those kids he told me were so perfect.

My second husband (the father of my two younger children) died in 2016 from a massive heart attack.

My oldest son is serving a nine year sentence in prison for robbery. He has a diagnosis of Bi Polar as well as an addiction to alcohol and meth. At this point, he’s spent half of his life incarcerated in one way or another, but it looks like God is dealing with him as well, and we will leave him in God’s hands.

My middle son is living with us after going through some serious financial difficulties. He struggles with some addictions too, but he has also committed his life to the Lord.

My baby girl is 18, and is learning voice acting. We daily pray that she too will answer the Lord’s call.

God started dealing with both Ed and I to take all the head knowledge we had about His word, and let Him turn it to heart knowledge. Thanks to a couple of opportunities to go to Women of Faith conferences, I was introduced to the writings of Christine Caine and Sheila Walsh, two lovely women who understand about deep wounds.

God used those women to show me that I had to open up and let Him show me all my broken places, so that I can give them to Him for healing. They also showed me how to take God at His word; to trust His Word because it is TRUTH! That hasn’t been easy, and it is still a work in progress, but every day I wake knowing I have a heavenly father who loves me, and works all things together for my good.

God is leading Ed through his own journey of healing, and like me, he takes baby steps.

Abused children have trust issues and I was no different. Although intellectually I always believed in Jesus, and knew what the Bible said was true, I thought maybe it wasn’t true for me because I had screwed up so badly. That maybe I had blown it. In my 20’s and early 30’s, I used to have horrible nightmares about demons chasing me. In the dream when I would try to call out to Jesus, the demons would laugh and say that he wouldn’t help someone like me. I had horrible anxiety and if I was alone, I had to sleep with all the lights on. Then something happened that, in a matter of seconds, let me know the truth, and it has made me free indeed.

Four years ago this last August, we were moving to our current house, which as a little over an hour away from where we lived before. Using Ed’s truck, my son Kyle’s car and a car I had borrowed from a friend, we had packed up another load to take to the new house, and were ready to head out. As I started down the driveway to my car, I had an odd sensation of something hitting me from behind. When it hit me again, it knew what it was and then everything slowed way down as I felt myself falling under Kyle’s car (he hadn’t seen me and was backing down the driveway). Automatically, I cried out to Jesus to help me. It was all I could say, and I don’t even know if I was saying it out loud. I felt a tire start over my hip and stomach and as I vomited, the car stopped, and I heard Ed say “Your mother! Don’t move until I tell you!”

I would find out later that poor Ed had seen the whole thing, and as he fought to get out of his truck time slowed for him too. He yelled at Kyle to stop and Kyle asked what he had hit, hence the response “Your mother!”

When Ed found me, I told him to “get it off me”, and he had Kyle pull forward. After a trip to the ER, I was released with no broken bones or other internal injuries. We would find out later that I had some really deep tissue bruising, which took about six months to heal. A few weeks later, I would go see my regular doctor who kept telling me I was really lucky. I told him it wasn’t luck; it was the Lord. He saved my life that day, and He told me that I am His!

my accident
God is so good!

I sought the Lord, and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)

So why am I telling you all this?

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Gen 50:19-20)

I believe that child sexual abuse is one of satan’s biggest weapons. He uses it to destroy the faith and trust that is so inherent in children, which then leads to broken adults (even the one’s who act like everything is fine).

If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matt 18:6)

So, I can bury it and pretend it didn’t happen or say that it “doesn’t define me” or that “I don’t think about it”, or a couple million other things that I’ve heard people say, and let it keep right on happening to other children, or I can say, “Yes! This happened to me! Yes! It’s terrible! Yes, it damaged my trust and filled me with shame, but you know what? God is bigger, and He can use all those terrible things that happened to me to work together for my good and for His glory! He can use my story to reach other people for Him. He can use my story to open other eyes to the very real epidemic of child sexual abuse. He can use my story to reach out to other hurting women (and men) in His church to bring true healing.”

So why would I be quiet?

Connie

Songs for Sunday: If We’re Honest

I love this song. It struck a cord with me the first time I heard it a few years ago.  It is very important to me that people are open and honest, particularly if they are part of the body of Christ.

If We’re Honest

Truth is harder than a lie
The dark seems safer than the light
And everyone has a heart that loves to hide
I’m a mess and so are you
We’ve built walls nobody can get through
Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do, ever do

Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest

Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not
Living life afraid of getting caught
There is freedom found when we lay
Our secrets down at the cross, at the cross

So bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest

It would change our lives
It would set us free
It’s what we need to be

So bring your brokenness and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest
If we’re honest

The song was written by Francesca Battistelli, Jeff Pardo and Molly E. Reed and released on Francesca Battistelli’s album of the same name in 2014. Wikipedia has more about the album and the writers.

Here is a YouTube Video of Francesca telling the story behind the song. I had not seen this video before I wrote my last post, but right now, I’m kind of feeling like God is telling me I’m on the right track.

 

And here is a YouTube video of If We’re Honest uploaded by Francesca’s YouTube channel.

See you in Church! Come over and sit with me!

Connie

Sisters in Christ

I have been working on some variation of this post for several days now, and it’s been bouncing around in my head for several weeks.  Let me just cut to the chase and tell you up front that one, this is going to be a series of posts, and two, it’s going to be geared toward, you guessed it, my sisters in Christ.

However, my brothers in Christ are welcome to keep reading if they want to.  We’re not spilling any deep dark womanly secrets here…at least I don’t think we are.

So, for my sisters. God has put so much on my heart that I’m having trouble getting it all down in any kind of sensible order. To be honest, that part of it may have something to do with menopause related brain fog.  Please understand that what I’m going to say today and however many more posts it takes me to finish, comes from a heart of love and concern, and I really do have a point to all of this, if  you’ll just bear with me.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal 6:2)

There isn’t anything quite as beautiful as Godly women caring for each other.  Ruth always comes to mind as one of those women, but you also have to ask yourself what kind of mother-in-law Naomi must have been in order to receive that kind of devotion from her daughter-in-law.  If you are unfamiliar with this part of the Old Testament, you can read about Ruth and Naomi here.

Maybe we find it so lovely because we don’t see it often, and that is part of what I want to talk to you about today.

If you are a woman, there is one thing you know for sure. Women can be terrible to each other. We can do more harm to each other than any man could ever do to us. For some of us, it starts with our mothers, grandmothers, or other female caretakers. The ones whose constant criticism made us feel unworthy. For others, we got it on the play ground or in the classroom. Many of us had unpleasant experiences with the mean girls. If you were one of the mean girls, I hope and pray you out grew it. Some mean girls grow into mean women. A woman’s name came to your mind didn’t it? Yes, we all know at least one.

Sadly, some of those mean girls and mean women even call themselves followers of Jesus. However, they really aren’t what I want to talk about today either. I imagine we’ll get to them eventually. I will suggest this though.  If you know some of those women, either within the body of Christ or without, start praying for them today! More about that later.

I want to talk about the ones of us who go to church whenever the doors are open. Maybe we teach Sunday school, or lead a women’s study, or sing in the choir, wash the dishes after the fellowship dinner, or do a host of other things that often go unnoticed.

Sadly, for some of us, even the most faithful appearing, Church and all the activities therein is nothing more than a social club. I recently heard the phrase Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, which is kind of reflective of that attitude, but I’m not really wanting to talk about that today either.

I want to talk to those of us who really love the Lord, and want to know Him. Those who have seen Him move in our lives, and know the power of prayer. We know what the Bible says, and we work to learn more. We’re trying, we really are, but sometimes, because we’re human, we get caught up in whatever else is going on in our lives.

Have you ever been to a gathering like Women of Faith where you are in a huge venue with thousands of other women raising their hands in worship? Where you listen to other women share God’s word with you as it relates to being a woman? It’s amazing! It’s a mountain top experience, and we leave ready to tackle whatever God has for us. The thing is, we have to go back to our lives, our jobs, our families, our churches. We can’t stay on the mountain top. But we as women of faith, sisters in Christ, and daughters of God, can bear each others burdens, and encourage each other to love and to good works (Hebrews 10:24-25). We can pray for each other, and pray together.

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Photo by Rosie Fraser on Unsplash

We can, but do we? Oh, some of us do, (and we all know who they are) but what about the rest of us?  Have you ever looked at another woman in church and thought, “she looks like she might be having a bad day. I need to talk to her”? Did you follow through?

Do we reach out to our sister in Christ who just moved in to town? What about that one that you’ve known since grade school, but don’t really know because you belonged to different groups. What about that woman that seems like a porcupine, whose whole demeanor and body language says “stay away”? Or what about the Chatty Cathy, who talks a mile a minute, gives out too much information and drives you crazy? Or that one that you just don’t like? Are you looking down your nose at someone you perceive as less than, or are you maybe resentful of the one you perceive as more than?

Do you put on a mask or put up barriers when you go to church because you know how other women can be and you’re scared to death they’ll find out that your life isn’t perfect. Do you suffer from depression, and feel like you can’t talk to anyone at church about it? Do you feel guilty because you think that if you were “spiritual” enough that you would feel better? Do you have secret addictions or other sins that you are trying desperately to keep hidden? Are you embarrassed because your kids are the ones who are always in trouble and you “just know” that everyone is looking down on you?  Let me tell you that we can’t pray for you or help you if we don’t know there is a problem. Please don’t be afraid to open up. That is what the body of Christ is for.

For those of you who don’t have any of those fears (and I doubt that there are any really). How would you respond to those women who do? If you would react any other way than I just did, I want to know why, and I want to know what you think Jesus would say!

I think every one of us understands what women who work together with a common cause can do. A little under a hundred years ago in this country, women endured all kinds of abuse, but prevailed in finally getting the right to vote. A little later, another determined group of women pushed for prohibition.  Can you imagine what God could accomplish through a group of determined, Godly, Holy Spirit filled women who love each other in Him and submit themselves to Him and His purpose? Look at what he did with twelve common Jewish men!

Here is the thing. Our enemy knows too, and the last thing he wants is a bunch of Godly, Holy Spirit filled women on the move. So, he is going to do his best to keep us fragmented.

So what does he do? Some of us he attacks as children, burying us in a shame so deep, we might never find our way out. Some of us he attacks with illness, physical and mental. Some of us he just lets our own sin defeat us, and then he makes us feel like we are the only one and no one else will ever understand. That lie is often so ingrained that even after we come to the Lord, it persists. So we all go to church and paint on faces of perfection. We create cliques and look for people who are just like us, and then, when the unchurched enter our doors, we confirm what they already believe, that we are just a bunch of hypocrites.

Do we deserve that? We probably do.

Some of you are going to get defensive right away. Did I hit a nerve?

So what do we do?

First, we repent. We ask God to forgive us and show us where we need to change.

We fall in love with Jesus all over again.

Then we ask Him for wisdom.

Then we reach out in truth and love to our sisters in Christ.

We find out who they are. What’s going on in their lives? How we can pray for them and how we can help them? Maybe they just need someone to listen. Maybe they need help with groceries, or babysitting, or maybe they need someone to tell them that they are a loved, beautiful daughter of God and they don’t have to put up any kind of front.

Then we need take off our own masks, and come out from behind our own walls, and accept from others what we offer to them.

Then together, we submit ourselves to the One who died for all of us.

And He will use us in ways we cannot even imagine!

This is me, reaching my hand out to you. Will you take it?

Let me know what you think in comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week, I’ll tell you my story.

Connie

Songs for Sunday: Something Beautiful

If you are a born again child of God, you probably have an intimate understanding of this song’s lyrics written by Gloria Gaither. The song (with music written by her husband, Bill) first appeared on the album, “The Bill Gaither Trio: Because He Lives”, which was also the first appearance for the title track.  Both songs now appear in church hymnals.

“Something Beautiful”

If there ever were dreams
that were lofty and noble,
They were my dreams at the start;
And the hopes for life’s best
Were the hopes that I harbored
Down deep in my heart;
But my dreams turned to ashes,
My castles all crumbled,
My fortune turned to loss,
So I wrapped it all
In the rags of my life
And laid it at the cross!

Something beautiful, something good —
All my confusion He understood;
All I had to offer Him
Was brokenness and strife,
But He made something beautiful of my life

Gloria tells the story behind the song here

Here is a YouTube video, published by Gaither Music TV, of a performance from 1990 of Bill, Gloria and Michael English singing “Something Beautiful”.

 

He made “something beautiful” of my life too! How about you?

See you in Church!

Connie

A Repurposed Life

I posted the following on my personal Facebook page a few days ago.

I like junk.

I keep boxes, bottles, jars, cans and all kinds of odds and ends. I have a box full of stuff that we’ve found on the place, like pieces of glass or pottery. Libby does a lot of excavating in her pen, so I am always finding things there.

Why, do I keep it?

Some of it is probably genetic. Grandpa Charlie never threw anything away…ever. My dad keeps a lot of stuff too, so I got it from both sides.

Sometimes I keep things like glass jars, because I can reuse them. Most of the time, though, I really don’t have a clear picture about that. Until I need something, and then I remember what I have that will work for what I need.

Probably though, the best thing, is creating something totally new from bits and pieces of “trash”, like the planters I made from coffee cans. I see possibilities in so many different things, and I have to keep them until I see what comes out of it.

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Repurposed coffee can planters. As you can see, their faces are made from repurposed stuff too. This picture was not part of the original Facebook post, because I had shared it on another one. 

Today, I guess we call that “repurposing”.

Here is the thing. I spent a lot of my life feeling like “trash”. Shame made me feel dirty, broken and useless. God, however, saw the possibilities and through Jesus, took the mess that was me and made a new creation. He repurposed me! I still have to fight the enemy’s lies, but I don’t do it alone. Yes, there are scars, but you know what? Those let me reach out to other broken people and show them how they can be repurposed too.

I posted that a few days ago, but God really put it on my heart to share it here too.

He wants you to know that He loves you and He is just waiting for you to give the mess to Him. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been. When you give yourself to Him, He makes you new and gives you a new purpose: the one he had planned for you all along.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Cor 5:17)

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph 2:10)

That doesn’t mean your life will be perfect, but you will be living a life designed by the One who is!

What are you waiting for?

Connie

 

God’s Amazing Plan, Part 5: The Holy Spirit

Last week, we learned that Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Father’s promise. Then He ascended to heaven. The angels told the disciples that Jesus would come back the same way he left. The disciples went back to Jerusalem, rejoicing, to wait like Jesus had told them.  They spent a lot of that time in the temple.

Let’s back up a little and look back to what Jesus said to them before His arrest. We’ve looked at them before, but lets take another look.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.(John 14:16-17)

the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,will teach you all thingsand will remind you of everything I have said to you.(John 14:26)

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. (John 14:26)

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness,because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”(John 16:7-13)

Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. (Mark 13:11)

Then right before He ascended to heaven, He said,

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

All these scripture references are from the NIV. The King James uses the word “comforter” instead of advocate. The Amplified Bible offers “Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever—” In John 14:16.

So this promised Holy Spirit that they were to wait would bring power with Him (we often refer to the Spirit as an it, but Jesus says “he”). He will be an advocate, counselor, comforter, reminder and guide. He’s a big deal.

Now, let’s back up a little more and talk again about Jewish feasts. We’ve talked about the Day of Atonement and Passover, but there were several other feasts the God ordained for His people. In Leviticus chapter 23, God gives instructions for all the feasts. This one, called the Feast of Weeks. On the second day of Passover, they were to count off seven weeks (49 days). Then on the feast on the 50th day, They were to present an offering of new grain as well as sacrificial animals.

Greek speaking Jews in Jesus day called this day Pentecost (50). It was one of the festivals during which all men were required to come to Jerusalem. Ten days after Jesus ascension to Heaven, Jerusalem was full of Jews from all over the world there to celebrate Pentecost. Of course, the disciples were there too, just like Jesus had told them to be.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues  as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome(both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” (Acts: 2:1-13)vAct0202Dore_TheDescentOfTheSpirit

There are some who say that they disciples were in the upper room at that time because of the word “house”, but that doesn’t make any sense. That would have been where they slept. They wouldn’t have been there at nine in the morning. They were in a public place, most likely in or near the temple. Where else would all those people been able to hear the disciples speaking the wonderful works of God in their native tongues? And some people thought they were drunk, I would assume because they didn’t understand what was said, and felt the need to respond. You know there is always somebody like that. Peter had an answer for them…Peter, who had denied Jesus, then ran and hid, stood up and addressed the crowd.

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. “These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him:

I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.

Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.

Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.(Acts 2:14-41)

The day of Pentecost marks the birth of the church, and with the help of the newly received Holy Spirit, Peter preached the first sermon. Three thousand “came forward”.

That day the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples, and Peter told the crowd that they too, could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. So what does the “gift of the holy spirit” mean?

When you ask people today that question, many people talk about speaking in tongues, prophesying or gifts of healing, and those things certainly have been manifestations of the spirit (1 Corinthians 12), but that isn’t what it’s really all about.

Jesus replied,“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23)

How does He he do that? Guess?

By sending the Holy Spirit, God sent part of Himself.

In Romans 8 (which is an amazing chapter), Paul says,

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Rom 8:9-11)

In his letter to the Colossian church, he says,

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you,the hope of glory. (Col 1:27)

So what is the point of having Christ in us? Well, for one thing, He reminds us of the things we have been taught in God’s word. He tells us when we are doing wrong, He encourages us to do right. He proves we are children of God (Rom 8:15-16). He intercedes for us, when we don’t know how or what to pray (Rom 8:27-28)

So God’s amazing plan wasn’t just that he would come to earth as a human being and die for all our sins, it was also that he was going to leave a piece of Himself in each and every one of us who accept his gift. The gift is not only to help us while we remain here, but also to empower us to share the good news so that others come to Him too.

But there’s more.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us,set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Cor 1:21-22)

So what is to come?

Remember what Jesus said in John 14:2-3 and what the angels said in Acts 1:11?

He’s gone to make a place for us. He left His Spirit with us, to help us while He’s gone. He’s coming back for us!

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thess 4:16-17)

So God’s amazing plan was that He would come as a human, and live a sinless life so that He would be the perfect sacrifice for sin. That way we would be able to fellowship with Him like Adam and Eve did in the garden before they sinned. For those of us who accept His gift, he seals the deal with His Holy Spirit which He put in us to help us know Him and lead others to Him. Then when it’s time, He is going to come back and get us, so that we can live with Him, in His presence for eternity.

We could say a lot more about that, but we’ve gone long here. We may do another series just on the subject of eternity…or at least the little bit we know about it.

I have to ask. Do you know Jesus? Have you accepted the gift he freely offers? If not, please don’t wait. Accept Him as your savior and your Lord today. Get buried in the waters of baptism and rise up to walk in your new life! Will your life be perfect? Of course not, we still live in a broken, fallen world, but you’ll be able to say with the apostle Paul:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers>neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8: 35-39)

Hallelujah!

Connie

God’s Amazing Plan, Part 4: Now What?

Last week, we talked about how it was part of God’s amazing plan for Jesus to die as a final perfect sacrifice for sin. How that yearly sacrifices would no longer be necessary

The Hebrew writer says,

He (Jesus) did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves;but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. (Heb 9:12)

For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. (Heb 9:24)

So, Jesus paid the price for our sins.

Now what?

The disciples should have known what was coming, because Jesus told them. Probably more than once. Last week, I shared verses where Jesus told them he would die and be resurrected three days later. I also mentioned John 14. Here are just a few verses from that chapter, that should have given the disciples some inkling of what was going to happen.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14: 1-4)

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:16-21

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:25-27)

I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. Come now; let us leave.(John 14:28-31)

Twenty four hours later, they didn’t remember any of that. All they knew was that Jesus was dead. They were heart broken and scared to death. They were also afraid they would be next, so they were hiding out.

However, two men who had been following Jesus secretly for “fear of the Jews” laid their fear aside to care for His body.

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. (John 19:38-42)

Other gospels say it was Joseph’s own tomb that he laid Jesus in.rMat2760Dore_TheBurialOfChrist

I have to wonder if their boldness at this point was caused by guilt. Maybe if they had spoken up, Jesus would not be dead. Not that it matters. The whole thing was just another part of God’s plan.

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’Then they remembered his words. (Luke 20: 1-8)

The writers of the gospels don’t tell us exactly when Jesus came back to life. They only say that he did. Matthew writes that there was an earth quake and an angel appeared. The guards became like dead men and the angel rolled away the stone and sat on it.(Matt 28). Mark says that when the sabbath was over, the women came to finish preparing the body, concerned that they would not be able to move the stone. The stone was already moved and Jesus was not there (Mark 16). John records only Mary Magdalene going to the tomb and then running for the disciples (John 20). Both John and Luke records Peter going to the tomb to look for himself. John says that John went too. (Luke 24 and John 20)

I believe Jesus was gone before the stone was moved. That was done for the people there…and for us.

Why seek the living among the dead? (Luke 24:5)

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. (Matt 28:6)rMat2805Dore_TheResurrection

Jesus did make himself known after he was resurrected. The gospels record several different “appearances”, but not all of them. Paul later says,

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, he was buried,that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (I Cor 15:3-8)

Just in case you don’t know, “Cephas” is Peter. People saw Jesus.  A lot of people. They knew he was alive. The scriptures say they were overjoyed, but still, now what? Luke records in his gospel and in the book of Acts

He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple,praising God. Luke 24:46-52

After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

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Jesus had a job for them to do, but it wasn’t time to do it yet.

They had to wait in Jerusalem until the promise came. Then they were to go to all the world and tell them what Jesus had done. Jesus said he would be with them always, and then they saw him leave. You know they must have been staring up with their mouths open, when the angels told them that Jesus would come back they same way they saw him go.

So they went back to Jerusalem to wait. They knew they needed to wait a few days,  and they weren’t exactly sure what they were waiting for, but they believed Jesus and they were full of great joy.

They still didn’t quite understand, but they would soon. They wouldn’t have to to wait long.

Until next week,

Connie