Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

The Biggest Empty Ever

Trying to recover from brain surgery over Easter weekend was a new adventure. I seriously do not remember an Easter Sunday I was not dressed, blessed and in church singing hallelujah choruses and rejoicing. But that’s not to say God did not show up to give me something new and profound.

I love the scriptures that promise His presence. Two of my favorites:  Psalm 139:7 “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?”  and Deut 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” 

He has been with me these past few weeks of anxiously waiting for surgery. He was with me in the pre-surgery room for almost 12 hours because of the delayed surgery time. He entered the operating room before I did. He was beside my recovery bed while I suffered from extreme nausea and vomiting. He has not left me for a moment and He never will.

What dawned on me Easter morning as I read scriptures about His resurrection was this– there is one location He is not and never will be again.  The Tomb!

The biggest empty of all time happened resurrection morning! From the moment His Father called Him to rise, the ever-present Spirit of God has never graced that space again. No physical presence. No scent of Him. No sound of Him. No tiny cell or flake of skin!

Rest assured there is no place our Savior will not accompany us – except to the empty tomb. There is no darkness He will not walk us through – except the darkness of the empty tomb. There is no corner He will not illuminate for us – except the corners of the empty tomb.

While remembering the sacrifice on the cross, the burial and the rolled stone are critical to our faith, I never realized before this week that remembering the absence of His presence in this one and only location is key.

His life saving effort on Sunday morning was one and done! Never needing to be repeated. And it tells us three things:

  • Stop going back to the dark places God has rescued us from. There is nothing there for us.
  • If we don’t choose the Resurrected Redeemer, we choose the greatest emptiness to ever be recorded.
  • Let’s not keep pining to visit the place His Spirit isn’t – the location of the tomb. Let’s focus on visiting the places where His Spirit needs to be – the homeless camps, the hospitals, the streets, the schools, the neighbors, the family dinner table. 

“He is not here; for He is risen …” Matthew 28:6.

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Easter Sunday is quickly approaching. This was the week Jesus completed the work He came to do. I can’t help but reflect on the path I will walk my last week on earth.

Will I willingly choose to go into a place where I know I will suffer but where I also know I can have great impact? Jesus did. He entered Jerusalem fully knowing the crowd that welcomed Him would soon turn against Him. Hatred would soon permeate the air, and in the midst of that Jesus would perform the greatest act of love in history.

Will I take to time to stand up for what is right, for what matters? Jesus did. He entered the Temple and saw unrighteousness happening in that holy place. He took a stand that was unpopular and added more reason for the religious leaders to despise Him. He did it anyway because the honor of His Father was greater than any consequence.

Will I continue to witness and minister even when if I’m scorned and accused and questioned about my authority? Jesus did. He went back to the leaders who refused to accept Him and continued to teach them about the Messiah who was standing in their midst. He taught about love to those who hated. He warned about hypocrisy to the hypocrites. He cautioned, He predicted, He urged understanding. He used every minute He had left to make sure they understood His Father’s plan.

Will I make time for those most precious to me? Jesus did. He shared the Passover meal with His disciples and made memories they would need to carry on.

Will I make peace with my enemies? Jesus did. He gently and carefully washed the feet of His betrayer, Judas. He forgave before there was anything to forgive.

Will I accept what comes my way even if it’s unfair and cruel? Will I stay as close to my God as I possibly can? Will I speak healing words even as I face death? Jesus did. He prayed. He shared His agony with His disciples and let them see Him lay it all at His Father’s feet. He healed the soldier injured in the fight to capture Him.

Will I make sure my last words are ones that change the world? Jesus did. “Father forgive them …” Every heart in the crowd that witnessed His crucifixion witnessed His grace. The one who delivered the most brutal blows, the one who shouted angry words the loudest, the one who spit on Him – each received the same message – forgiveness.

To say the last week of Jesus was as glorious and impactful as the week of His birth is an understatement. I pray that I can set my soul on the same goal. Let me go out in a blaze of glory – doing what God has called me to do no matter how hard, unrewarding or painful. I long to hear my Master’s words:

‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:23

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4197o3w9xeL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_[1]I recently read After Easter by Jeremy R. Howard and Doug Powell and this is a review of the book.

This may seem a little late since Easter is long past, but truthfully you could read this book anytime and be amazed all over again by the miracle of the cross.

A new Christian will read this book and journey from the Garden to the Cross, gaining a good understanding of how the whole redemption story came to be. A seasoned Christian will read the book and be refreshed in remembering the significance of why the Son of God had to die. Both will be humbled again by the realization that He did it for us.

I like how this book gives scriptural and scientific evidence for the events that led to the empty tomb, and even gives clear details of how the early church began and took the mission of Christ seriously.

The book can be read in a short period time but that certainly doesn’t indicate it is shallow. Quite the opposite. The depth of detail contained in its 60 pages is amazing. I would highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to boost their witnessing ability. It would make a nice gift and should certainly be in every church library.

I am a Lifeway/B&H blogger and received a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

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MP900390547[1]Waiting – we hate it but we can’t avoid it. Some waits are simply irritating. Standing in line, stuck behind a stalled car, sitting in a doctor’s office.

Some waiting is pure agony. Waiting for news that could send joy bubbles coursing through your veins or plunge you into a place of pure grief is the worst kind of waiting. Time drags until you are convinced the clock is broken. Minutes tick slower and slower and so do you, weighed down with the wait.

How should we wait? Talk about it? Don’t talk about it? Push through or sit it out? Hide it deep in our hearts or put it out there where our heart is exposed and sore?

I am waiting today in one of those pure agony situations. It’s hard and very emotional. This morning I found myself reflecting back on  Easter week and finding the timing ironic. The Son of God was waiting for the completion of His mission and the fulfillment of the scriptures that week. Knowing beforehand that what He awaited would be agony, how did Jesus wait?

In Luke Chapter 7 it says He started His week of waiting by going to the home of a Pharisee for dinner, an interesting decision given that the Pharisee’s were not exactly friends or supporters. While there his meal was interrupted by a women whom the Bible says was “known to be a sinner”.  Although it isn’t specifically stated, that would indicate she was a prostitute. The woman proceeded to have a complete meltdown, sobbing uncontrollably and we all know how comfortable that must have been for the men in the room. I know it was that kind of red nosed, puffy eyed crying because it produced enough tears to be used in the washing of Jesus’ feet. Once she got her hysteria under control she dried them with her hair and massaged them with expensive oil.

And there in that room, as Jesus waited forthe events that would lead to His  painful death, He restored a broken soul and gave her new life. Of course, He was challenged to justify all of this, prompting Him to teach about great love – just days before He would experience great hate.  (Luke 7:36-50)

How else did Jesus wait that week? Luke says that after the incident of the woman who washed His feet “Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. “ Luke 8:1

Jesus didn’t put Himself on hold as He prepared for the devastating results of His trial. He went about His Father’s business, continuing to reach out and heal, teach and preach, nourish and love the ones who would bring Him to the cross.

What an incredible lesson for me today. My soul may be heavy but my feet and arms still work, my heart can still be touched by brokeness, the people in my life still need me to minister and God still has work for me to do.

I am not called to build a fortress to hide behind while I wait. I am called to be a fortress for a frightened, lonely world by not hiding the light that leads to Jesus behind my own dark situation.

I’m not saying that in times of distress we can’t be sad, or ask for support or seek counsel. I’m just saying that life doesn’t stop because I am in a hard place. Every day, along with the challenges I face, there are tasks I have been given by the One who guards and guides me.

I expect Him to follow through on His promises. He expects me to follow through on my calling. Believe me – He’s getting the short end of the stick while I’m getting the best end of the bargain.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Ro 12:11


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With Easter fast approaching, I listened to Sandy Patty’s classic song, Was It a Morning Like This.  The song asks that question about resurrection morning.  Was it a morning like this?  To tell you the truth, I don ‘t think it was.  I think it was brighter, clearer, more beautiful than any morning sunrise we’ve seen since. 

The announcement of Christ’s release from the grave may have gone to Mary first, but you can’t tell me there was one single soul on earth who did not wake sensing  something was different.  I believe people felt a new hope in their hearts that morning, even if they didn’t know why.

I believe mothers kissed their children more sweetly.  I believe neighbors greeted each other more kindly.  I believe even the dogs left the cats alone!  Because after all – love had returned to the world.  The Son lived again and the Father wanted everyone to know!

A Mighty God does not do things in a minor way.  He is a God of the magnificent and of the amazing.  He is a God so powerful He could have snatched His Son off that cross, and so omniscient He chose not to.  His plan and His timing are perfect. 

Can’t you just picture that Father staring at the sealed tomb, tears streaming down his face, arms lifted in anticipation waiting for the perfect moment to give the command?  Waiting… waiting … waiting … and then at the exact instant He knew was right, the power of God pierced the sky to wrap around that massive stone and effortlessly move it aside.

The heart of God the Father and the heart of Christ the Son met at the entrance of the tomb in a sweet and beautiful reunion, witnessed by no one because it was too private, too precious, too moving, too emotional for the human heart to handle.

Oh, God, I am so thankful You do things in a mighty way.  I am so grateful You carried out your plan for mankind.  I am so humbled at the overwhelming love you showed.  Thank you for the privilege of standing here today – and every day – with the sure confidence to proclaim that I know!  I know that my Redeemer lives!

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on the earth. Job 19:25

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I have a niece whose 6 year old daughter is in the midst of her second bout with leukemia; her second long, long period of chemotherapy and all it brings.  It’s tough to watch for anyone who knows and loves this family.  But nothing we experience could possibly compare to the pain this mommy deals with every day as she watches her child suffer.  I marvel at how my niece holds up under the circumstances but I don’t doubt that there are moments when bitter tears flow from the river of hurt and horror within her mother’s heart.

A mother feels every bit of her child’s pain, be it emotional or physical.  Ridicule my child and I want to punch your lights out.  Injure my child and I want to inflict long lasting damage in retaliation.  Break my child’s heart and forever you are on my ‘scum of the earth’ list. 

There are just some things a mother’s heart should not have to bear.  The mother of Jesus would agree with me I’m sure.  When I think of all she had to cope with – from the minute she stepped out at a wedding and voiced her great pride and confidence in her son, to the times of holding her head up while the rumors, whispers and snickers came from friends and family alike, to the horror of the day she watched her Son die in the most cruel manner ever devised, I don’t know how her heart survived.  As women we grieve deeply, carry sadness in our secret places, and weep silently over the things this world throws at us and at those we love. 

Good Friday, the day Christ laid down his life for the very ones who carried out his death sentence, was not a good day for Mary.  She must have died a thousand deaths to His one.  She must have wondered how her dead feet could continue to walk; how her dead heart could continue to beat; how her dead body could continue to have blood flowing through it.

But Easter Sunday – I tell you not one person celebrating the glory of a Risen Lord comes close to experiencing the explosion of joy, the fullness of hope, the leap of new life nor the instantaneous heart healing which took place in Mary’s life that morning.

Oh yes, as mothers we injure easily and wound deeply.  We bleed through our eyes, shedding an ocean of salty tears beginning the moment our child takes his or her first breath.  Praise God that in our calling as mothers we also experience the times of ecstasy bigger and better than anyone else ever could.  It’s why we survive and thrive in our role.

Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.  Psalm 126:5 (NLV)

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I spent Saturday afternoon cleaning up my rose garden.  I pruned, raked out the dead leaves from last fall, pulled new spring weeds and tilled the packed down soil – opening it up to receive the sunshine and moisture needed to make sure I get beautiful blooms.  My hands worked the earth but my mind was on Easter week and getting ready to celebrate the resurrection.

I realize my bushes would have leafed out and bloomed without the pruning.  But to get full and abundant production it’s always better to cut out the dead wood, cut back the spindly spring growth, and let the bush pour all of its energy into new growth.  My bushes could have survived among the weeds but again, if I want all 100% of the nutrients I provide throughout the growing season to benefit the roses, I need to get rid of the things that might suck some of that away.  And while loosening the soil might not be absolutely essential, scraping away the packed earth on top just makes it so much easier for the water to reach the roots of my roses.

The parallel was obvious.  I want to stand at the foot of the cross in full bloom next Sunday.  I want my heart open to the amazing message of the resurrection.  I want everything Christ has for me to go to the very root of my being and nurture growth.  I want the dry covering of dead left by chill winds and winter storms to be cleared away.  I realize to accomplish this I have some forgiving to do, some outreach to happen, some ingesting of God’s word to take place, and some letting go of old wounds to occur.

My commitment for the next seven days:

  • Wash my soul while getting my knees dirty in a renewed emphasis on prayer. 
  • Make a serious effort to experience in a small way what Christ felt on the cross when He generously forgave those who had hurt Him.
  • Snip back the spindly growth of my last few study sessions, return to them and  dig deeper for those pockets of “Miracle Grow” found only  when you put everything you have into what you are trying to uncover. 
  • Trust God to resurrect in me that beautiful bloom of my first love just in time for Easter Sunday.

“Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.”

Psalm 45:11

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