Good Friday?

GOOD Friday

In many ways, it’s hard to think of what this day represents asIMG_2353 GOOD. An innocent man was executed in a most torturous way while onlookers scoffed and gambled for his few earthly goods. So why do we, after two millennia, still remember this event? Unfortunately, a lot of people have been tortured to death–this is not a pleasant world we live in. But this death was different because the man’s life was different. His life had been remarkable since it began. Stories had circulated about a so-called virgin birth, angels talking to shepherds, and a star that did not obey normal pathways across the sky. It was all very strange and people shook their heads, and then, for the most part, there was silence.

Thirty-some years later, he reappeared, walking along the Sea of Galilee, talking to fisherman and to anyone who would listen about the Kingdom of God. Most of you know the rest of the story (though not everyone in this country does, I’ve discovered). The man was Jesus. He spoke of God as his father, performed ‘real, live’ miracles one-on-one and in front of crowds. And loved people who never expected to be loved. But he also ruffled feathers, especially among the religious elite, because he just wouldn’t do things the way they wanted him to. He was funny, that way…

His own people, the Jews, rejected him, so he did something that riled them even more–he turned to those gentile dogs. (That would be most of us). He offered love, forgiveness, purpose. And eternal life! Which is why you can’t just say Jesus was a good guy, who, like good guys before and since, have made the wrong people mad and died because of it. Jesus called himself the Son of God; He said he could forgive sin; He performed miracles, and He promised his followers an eternal home in heaven after their part in the earth-story is over.

As CS Lewis points out, there’s only three ways to adequately account for the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth. #1 The guy was a liar and cheat. A master at playing the crowds and sleight of hand. #2 He was off his rocker. I mean, what kind of person goes around telling crowds that he’s God? Or, #3 He was exactly who he said he was. Jesus Christ was either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord and God. The evidence, both then and now, is strongly in favor of Option #3. People for 2000 years have believed his claims and have based their lives on his.

He didn’t die on that cross to pay for his own sins (he had none) but for ours. Your slate can still be wiped clean, because he is still not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

And that’s why this Friday is good.

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Happy Birthday to Me

She was 13, a child of the ’60s, though Flower Power hadn’t hit her area of the Pacific Northwest hard yet. Mom was mentally unstable, dad, an on-the-road workaholic. She was fairly bright, academically, but a slow-developer, socially, and had already managed to draw the attention of the “mean girls” at her junior high school. She was called names, made fun of, threatened. She was lonely and often afraid
Then someone invited her to church.
Even though she’d always said ‘no,’ before, this time she said ‘yes.’ She didn’t know why, but she got out of bed, dressed as if for school, and walked the four blocks to the little church around the corner. They sang songs in the teen Sunday School class, she recognized a few kids from school, and the teacher was a friendly lady who told them stories from the Bible and invited her back the next week.
She came back. It was nice to have people smile when she came into a room, to feel welcomed. It wasn’t stressful like home, or scary like school.
Then she heard the story about Jesus. She’d heard about Jesus before, of course. Everyone knew he was the baby born at Christmas. And she’d heard rumors about that same baby growing up and being killed in a terrible way, but she’d never understood it or why anyone would do such a thing. Now, they told her. That baby had grown up to be the most perfect man the world had ever seen. He was kind to everyone—even the unpopular people no one else liked. He befriended people, he healed them. He did things no one had done before– miracles. And He told them He was the Son of God and that He loved them. Some people listened, learned, and loved Him back; others didn’t. They hated Him. His goodness shone a bright light on the darkness of their own hearts and they sought to destroy Him.
Eventually, they did. It appeared the darkness had won, as it so often does.
The girl listened to the story and she cried in her heart. It was so wrong. How could anyone have done such a thing to one so kind and good?
But that wasn’t the end of the story. Not only was Jesus kind and good, she learned, but He was all-powerful. Just as He’d said–He was God Himself, and death—the last great enemy—was nothing. On the third day, He blasted through death’s feeble hold, and walked out of the grave, never to die again.
Nearly 2000 years later, on March 3, 1968, the 13-year-old girl heard His voice. He said “I want you to be my child. Will you follow me?” She didn’t understand it all, but she still thought that was the best idea she’d ever heard. She said “Yes.”
Fifty years later today, she’s never been sorry she heard that voice and answered that call.
As you’ve probably figured out, this is my story. The last fifty years have not all been sunshine and rainbows. I’ve had my share of crashes and confusion but He has never abandoned me—not even once. He is so good and I am so thankful that He looked down from heaven one day and saw that lonely kid who needed Him so much. Thank You, Jesus, and Happy (spiritual) Birthday to Me!
How about you? What’s YOUR Jesus story?

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Happy New Year!


And so 2017 fades away. I had a good year; I know not everyone did and I’m sorry. Our land is fraught with division such as I’ve never seen and people are filled with fear and anger. I get it. I have grandchildren who will inherit this world and I want so much for them to have a bright future, but I know there’s no guarantee. I’ve read the history books, as well as the newspapers and (grimace!) social media. Still…I have hope. I have to. God has promised: To never leave or forsake me; to walk with me through the raging fires and deepest floods; to be with me to the end and when it’s time, to welcome me to that other side. I trust Him and I’m moving forward. Outside, the fireworks are whistling and blazing, the (fake) bombs [are] bursting in air(!) and 2017 winds to a close. Hello, 2018! I look forward to what you have for me and mine. Onward and upward, one and all–it’s (another) new beginning.

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I Wish You All a Merry Christmas!

What is Christmas All About?

Long before there was a Santa Claus or Rudolph, Christmas trees and sparkling electric lights, or crazed mobs rushing the aisles at Walmart. Before Frosty the Snowman and Jingle Bells, and even before Dickens’ ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future—

There was a Silent Night in a Little Town of Bethlehem. Sleepy shepherds on a nearby hill were shaken from their dreams by a Song in the Night. Hark! The Herald Angels sang. The message was clear, for It Came upon a Midnight Clear. They left their sheep to seek visible proof of the angel’s melodic words—and found Him Away in a Manger. What Child is This? They wondered, amazed, and how will He change the world? Truly, this was The First Noel.

Later, the magi came—We Three Kings—following the star, seeking a king, bringing the proverbial gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Joy to the World—the Lord has Come!

“And Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Much, much later, with all the innocence and wisdom of childhood, a boy named Linus would say to his friend “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

And he was right.
“O, Come Let Us Adore Him, Christ the Lord!”


No longer with us, but a sweet “Christmas Past” photo of the lovely Dazzle.


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Christmas Thoughts: Who is this Child?

“What Child is This?”

People have been asking this question since long before William Dix penned the words to the popular Christmas carol. Who was the child born 2000 years ago, whose birth we’ve celebrated ever since? A carpenter’s son? The offspring of Jewish peasants? A boy who would grow up to be a respected teacher in his small corner of the world, who would later get on the wrong side of the ruling authorities and be condemned to death? If that’s all He was—why would we still remember His birth? There have been billions of babies born and unfortunately, too many who grew up to die on Roman crosses. What was different about this baby? Why would our entire calendar and dating system be divided into “Before” and “After” his birth? Why would there by more books, songs, poems, stories, plays and essays written about Him than any other person in history? Why would The Book about his life still be the best-selling publication of all time?

Who Was this Child that He should so affect the entire world?According to the Bible, He has many names: King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Suffering Servant, Prince of Peace. He is Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God—who Was, and who Is and who Is To Come—the Almighty One. He is the one who came to this earth to share our humanity, with its weaknesses and limitations, to experience hunger and cold, sorrow and pain, so that no one could ever again say that God didn’t know what it felt like to be human.

He is the perfect Lamb of God, who took the sin of the whole world upon Himself—and paid for it with His own blood.

No wonder the world can’t quite forget Him.

This year, if you haven’t already, find out who the Christ Child was—and who He grew up to be—and have a truly Merry Christmas!



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Feeling Concussed

So, it’s happened three times to me now…that amazingly other-worldly sensation of losing time due to my skull coming into contact with something a lot harder than it is. The first time was many years ago when the bicycle I was riding was struck by a car. I remembered who I was when I regained consciousness, but not how I got there or where I was. Those memories returned later. But I was 12–12-year-olds have younger brains than…well, I guess that goes without saying.
I’ve had three concussions since then, though I didn’t lose consciousness (or time) with one of them, and didn’t have concussive symptoms until a few days later. All three of these events, as you might have guessed, occurred during an “unscheduled dismount” from a horse. Two of them were particularly bad. With those two, I got up, walked, talked, and was otherwise active, and have no memory at all. None of these events were fun. This latest one was particularly not fun, probably because it just happened last week.
And I’m still feeling concussed.
What I’m discovering is concussed is both a physical and a mental/emotional state of being. And at my age, there’s just no such thing as bouncing back quickly. Or perhaps, bouncing back at all. It’s pretty scary, actually.
And yet…I’ve been horse-crazy since I was a kid. Was also a poor kid, whose parents said she’d grow out of it in time. But I never did. I didn’t get my first horse until after I was married, and except for a few months, have had horses for nearly 40 years since then. The reality is, I don’t know who or what I’ll be, exactly, if I don’t have a horse in my life. In many ways, my horsey-ness defines me.
But I don’t like getting hurt. I really don’t. I don’t like being ‘concussed.’ And for the first few days after this latest accident, I didn’t allow myself to think about it all too seriously. It’s not a good idea to make major decisions when your brain is floating around loosely within your skull (or whatever the exact definition of ‘concussion’ is). But…things are changing. And the decisions were made before this last unscheduled dismount. Here’s a picture of Callie:IMG_0753
Isn’t she cute? Does she look like a (wo)man-eater? {Sigh} No, she’s not. But she’s more horse than I should be trying to handle in my almost-sunset years and she’s going back to her other mom tomorrow. The reason she’s going back is not because of her involvement with my latest concussion but because my daughter will be teaching in Europe this year…and is bringing her two horses to live with me for the duration. But I’ll miss Callie. I know it’s crazy, but it’s true. She’s been my girl for the last year and a half and it makes me sad to let her go.
But, concussed or not, it looks like I’ll still have horses around for awhile. I just need to remember a poster I saw a number of years ago. Along with the photo of a very cute pony, the words said–You can love a horse and ride it, but a horse can love you and kill you.
Words to live by.

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“He is no Fool”…Thoughts on the Death of Elisabeth Elliott

When I was a young teenager and had recently begun attending the little neighborhood church around the corner, the pastor’s wife loaned me a book to read. It was called “Through Gates of Splendor” and told the story of five young men who had felt called of God to take his word to somewhere it had never been heard before. It was an amazing story–filled with journal entries and anecdotes of each of the young men as they were growing up and setting their hearts to follow God’s call–no matter where it led. The book was published in 1957, one year after the massacre of all five of those young men by the very people they had come to reach, the Auca tribe of Ecuador.
The book was written by Elisabeth Elliott, the wife of the leader of that group, Jim Elliott. The men were killed almost 60 years ago, and I read Elisabeth’s book 45 years ago. Along with many others, my life was profoundly changed by reading that book and its sequel “Shadow of the Almighty.” And it all comes back to me now as I’ve just heard that Elisabeth Elliott, at age 88, heard and answered her call Home this morning.
I feel joy for her–she ran a good race and finished her course–a much longer, if less dramatic ‘course’ than her young husband of 60 years ago, but I have no doubt she heard the same words he did: “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the glory of your Lord.”
But I feel sorrow for us, those of us left behind. Our world has changed so much in the 60 years since Jim, Pete, Ed, Nate, and Roger, were speared to death in that jungle in Ecuador. When they died and the word got out, the story made the front cover of Life magazine. People were shocked and saddened. Many questioned what would cause five young men in their prime to leave home and family to go live in the jungle and ultimately, to lose their lives trying to bring the message of the Cross to those who had never heard. Elisabeth’s books answered those questions.
But now, and perhaps I’m wrong, but I don’t think most people today would give such a thing a second thought. We are surrounded by just too much destruction, and thankfully (or so it seems) most of it is happening ‘way over there.’ 21 Coptic Christians beheaded by Isis in living color on the internet. Hundreds of Christian students killed in Kenya and Nigeria. Genocide in Iraq and Syria. A South African family murdered in Kabul solely because they were Christian. The list goes on and on and on…
And I don’t want to think about it either–it’s just too awful. But people like the Elliotts and our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering throughout this world demand more of us. We need to pray. We need to give. We need to speak up. And we need to live each day as if it were our last.
Jim Elliott wrote in his journal, and Elisabeth put it in her book for the rest of us to read: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” In these dark days in which we live, I hope I can keep this thought at the forefront of my mind and follow on humbly, as Elisabeth did. IMG_2353

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