Alive

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Resurrected, and…
Alive! I…I have seen Him
Go tell the others!

Behind the lines

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her (John 20:15-18).

…“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live…(John 11:25).

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

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Finished

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He cried, “It’s finished!”
The Creator breathed His last
Death soon defeated

Behind the lines

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,”
and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
(John 19:30)

So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
(John 19:40-42)

He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.
Come, see the place where he lay.
(Matthew 28:6)

Groanings Too Deep For Words

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The Broken World

Have you ever had groanings that were too deep for words, where the details are so heavy and difficult to share, it’s hard to even breathe, much less talk about it? It may be a situation of abuse, abortion, addiction, bankruptcy, divorce, or the loss of a dear loved one to suicide. It may be the inability to have children, or perhaps you finally have a child, but your precious one has an unexpected terminal illness. It may be that you have a rebellious young adult causing tremendous heartache as a prodigal son or daughter. It may be that your eyes have finally been opened to your own sin and poor choices. Whatever it is, there’s a deep lingering sadness, and a time for grieving, sighs, and groaning.

Yet, our fast paced world doesn’t allow us to grieve properly. You know, the one of self-esteem and you can get through anything so get up and get going. The one where you must keep up that perfect public image, because let’s face it, who has time for reflection or grief? Who wants to be around that kind of sadness? However, sadness, as the Disney movie, Inside Out, vividly portrays, is a very helpful emotion. Sadness is a gift from God given to help us deal with the difficulties we face in a fallen world. Sadness brings tears of healing in the present, while making us long for a better world in the future. A world restored to the original intent of God dwelling with man in perfect relationship, where there’s no more suffering, no more tears, no more pain, and no more death.

No Words

Grievous circumstances are often when our words fall short and we can’t even begin to describe the spiritual and emotional turmoil we’re feeling. This is where the Christian clichés, and the token, often out of context, Bible verses given by friends, though meant to be encouraging and kind, may seem empty, unwanted and even cruel.

It is in the these life moments where words need to be few and where love needs to be shown with much patience and kindness. There’s not a quick fix – just snap out of it, solution, and our actions during these times will prove much stronger than our words. This is when just being there to serve out of love and support is the best thing we can do for one another before we speak words based on the “truth in love” principle. This is a time for weeping with those who weep. A time for listening. A time for reflection. “What is God teaching me?” It’s a place for hugs, a time for praying, – not just saying, “I’m praying for you”, but actually praying with someone. It’s also a time where we should ask for permission to speak. “I’m so sorry for what you’re going through, is it okay if I share something?”

How Long?

The grieving period really depends on the circumstances and the people involved, but eventually the sadness gives way to an opportunity to express joy in the hope of Christ. And here we must acknowledge that people grieve in different ways. This may take days, weeks, months, or even years. There will be good days and bad days, but there’s a Living Hope that we must turn to, in order to help us better understand why there is suffering. It’s a hope that may have never been completely lost, but we, or our friends, were unable to fully rejoice in it during the season of grief.

Paul, who was no stranger to suffering, wrote these inspired words of hope, a hope which cannot be seen, yet a hope we patiently wait for. It’s a hope that we must learn to embrace.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience (Romans 8:18-25 ESV).

Peter, who denied Christ three times, and who had to be terribly grieved by his denial throughout his life, also reminds those who are born again of our Living Hope. You see heartaches often have reminders that trigger renewed periods of grief. Can you imagine him hearing a rooster crow each morning or just seeing one wander by? Some days it may not be too difficult, others it may be like a fresh crushing blow. Like Peter, we must constantly remind ourselves of this hope:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:3-7 ESV).

Our Helper When There Are No Words

Going to back Romans 8, Paul writes where our Help comes from, and then writes one of the most quoted scripture verses for encouraging other believers. However, we must be careful when we use it. For instance, don’t jump to v28 when you should start with v26. Stay there for a while in weakness and be comforted, knowing that when we have no words to pray, the Holy Spirit knows, and He’s interceding for us with groanings too deep for words…

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:26-28 ESV).

 

Be Still My Soul

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Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain
leave to thy God to order and provide
in ev’ry change He faithful will remain
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
thro’ thorny ways leads to a joyful end

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
to guide the future as He has the past
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake
all now mysterious shall be bright at last
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice, who ruled them while He dwelt below

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart
and all is darkened in the veil of tears
then shalt thou better know His love, His heart
who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
from His own fullness all He takes away

Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
when we shall be forever with the Lord
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone
sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last

Behind the lines

One of my favorite hymns to grieve by, especially the passing of a loved one. It was written by Katharina von Schlegel in the 1700s and little is known about her life which in many ways makes it even sweeter.

Dedicated to Rowena Appleton Taylor who passed away yesterday at the age of 69.

Below is a YouTube video of a traditional a cappella boys choir, Libera, singing it complete with lyrics.

 

Daytime Moon

blue-moon-1457229_1920Above the clouds,
His face appears,
On a white ball set in blue,
Starlit and surrounded.

Shivering cold,
Teeth chattering,
He desperately waits to warm,
Hands buried in pockets.

Reflective thoughts,
Chase darker times,
Silencing both chills and fears,
Easing his passage on.

Warmed to the edge,
Of earth and space,
He closes his eyes, and smiles,
Then sinks into the abyss.

Behind the lines

There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power (1 Corinthians 15:40-43).

God Breathed

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In the beginning was God,
Maker of heaven and earth,
In His likeness He made,
Man from dust and clay.

Something precious began that day,
Gift of life He gave…

God breathed,
God breathed,
In His love He breathed,
Something precious began that day,
When God breathed.

The fall of man in shame,
But God’s plan would redeem,
This Messiah, conceived,
Came for all who believe.

Precious Savior born that day,
Gift of life He gave…

God breathed,
God breathed,
In His love He breathed,
Precious Savior born that day,
When God breathed.

Then on the cross,
You bore God’s wrath,
And You took our sins away.
(repeat)

But You rose from the grave,
Gift of life You gave.
(repeat)

God breathed,
God breathed,
In His love He breathed,
Precious Savior rose that day,
When God breathed.

He gave a Helper to guide the way,
Holy Spirit come we pray,
God breathe…

Behind the lines

Co-written with David Ennis, Shane Jackson, Drew Pearce, and Kevin Schultz.

Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
(Genesis 2:7 ESV)

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
(Luke 2:11-12 ESV)

Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.
(Luke 23:46 ESV)

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20:21-22 ESV)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

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