Being the Ten Percent- Gracious Gratitude

Thanksgiving Post 2015 Living the 10 Percent

As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’”  And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all your possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”  But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

(Mark 10:17-22, NASB)

Gratitude is not greedy for power, possessions, or prestige. Gratitude graciously bows out when it is time.

Perfect peace is found not in trying to achieve power, but in using the power and platform God has given you for such a time as this. 

Only a few men in history have set themselves apart for the power they graciously relinquished. They knew when to walk away in order that the greater good would be served in their absence. Consider:

Moses, relinquished the rights of an adopted grandson of the Pharaoh in order to remember the plight of his people. In so doing, he hastened his humble service to rescue God’s people from slavery and captivity.

(Moses) considering the reproach of  Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.

(Hebrews 11:26-27, NASB)

Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, “a man who neither sought power nor held on to it when his duties had been fulfilled.” (The Cincinnatus Association) Cincinnatus, for whom the city in Ohio is named, was a Roman citizen who was offered endless power and, instead, returned to his farm after saving his country in battle.

George Washington, known as the American Cincinnatus, was not only America’s first president, the model for all who would hold the title after him to emulate, but a man who walked away from power twice so that the great American experiment would not falter under the unbearable weight of a king.

Who can imagine that the liberty of millions might depend on the character of one man? What was it that gave him the strength to do the right thing when the temptation to do something less noble must have been overwhelming?

More than two hundred years after Washington’s death, his willingness to relinquish power–twice–is the most remarkable thing that we remember about him. These refusals to seize power for himself were the greatest acts of one of history’s greatest men.

(7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness, Eric Metaxas)

Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, left the honor and majesty of heaven to come to the squalor and filth of earth. He left His throne in heaven to be laid in a cradle, and later hung on a cross before conquering the enemy of death and sin once and for all. (See Philippians 2) It is to Jesus that we owe all gratitude and praise. If it were not for His modeled call to lay down our lives, His example as He resisted the urging of even His closest friends and disciples to siege power over people before the appointed time, then we would not one day receive the power to be joint errs and rulers with Jesus in Heaven.

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.

(1 Timothy 6:17, NASB)

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

(Philippians 2:3, NASB)

We, like the rich young ruler in the first passage above, may have choices in our future to posture ourselves in gracious gratitude and service to Christ, or to walk away with our possessions, power, or prestige in hand; heavy in heart and guilt. Being the gracious ten percent includes knowing when to walk away from the things of this earth in order to walk toward the person and mission of Christ. May we choose to follow Christ’s example.

 But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” (James 4:6, NLT)

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Being the 10 Percent-Humble Gratitude

Living the 10 Percent Thanksgiving 2015

 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14, NIV

Last week, we determined that we want to be found giving thanks like the ten percent. Only one leper out of ten returned to thank Jesus for His miraculous healing. However, this week’s account in Luke informs us that mere words of thanks are not enough; it is the heart behind the words that matters most. In this parable about the tax collector and the Pharisee, Jesus is teaching that humility of heart is better than good deeds accompanied by a haughty spirit.

In fact, this parable teaches that there is a wrong way to give thanks.

If we are giving thanks because we are not like other sinners; that is, not bent towards certain less favorable sins. Or, if in order to elevate our filthy rags of righteousness (see Isaiah 64:6), we thankfully condemn more noticeable targets or outright sin, then we are missing grace all together. This isn’t but for the grace of God go I mentality, this is at least I’m not doing… What a dangerous predicament to enter into.

A vacuum of humility in our lives leads to the fertile soil of hypocrisy. Consider,

Hypocrites keep up the external performances of religion only to save or gain credit. There are many whom we see every day at the temple, whom, it is to be feared, we shall not see in the great day at Christ’s right hand. 

His giving God thanks for this, though in itself a good thing, yet seems to be a mere formality. He does not say, By the grace of God I am what I am, as Paul did, but turns it off with a slight, God, I thank thee, which is intended but for a plausible introduction to a proud vainglorious ostentation of himself.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary

God’s glory is to resist the proud but give grace to the humble. (James 4:6)

Consider the parable of the prodigal son. It was the brother who had done the work diligently and faithfully that had to flee the temptation to be angered at the wayward brother’s reward. The faithful must put off the garment of pride and assumption that God only gives mercy and grace to those who look the part or have played it the longest. It is God’s grace through Jesus Christ that brings our favor. That alone secures our salvation and no works we do on earth can equate the grace that Jesus provides. Works accompany faith, and restoration follows humble confession and repentance–be it in the early years of our life, or in the later years just before arriving Home.

Another lesson from this parable: We who have been in church and within God’s grace for anytime must resist the temptation and tendency to make God’s Kingdom on earth look like anything other than God’s Kingdom in Heaven. God’s Kingdom will consist of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. Further, it will consist of the last being the first. The crippled, handicapped, poor, and cast aside populace of the present will be the rulers of the future Kingdom to come. We must not welcome the well dressed and successful among our places of worship to the detriment of the poor, the weak, and the plagued with sin who may stumble into our congregations by the saving grace of God. (See James 2:1-13)

Not everyone in church should look just like you…or me!

If thanksgiving towards God has become a mere formality for us as it was for the pharisee in Jesus’s parable, then it is time to repent in humility and recognize the saving grace of God in our own needy lives. There is always gratitude to be given for God’s grace through faith in Christ Jesus.

If we have neglected to welcome those within our community of believers who don’t look like us, then we must repent and consider what God’s Kingdom will look like in eternity. We should make our churches welcoming congregations for every tribe, tongue, nation, and social status.

Be the ten percent. Give thanks with a humble heart.

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If you want to further explore the thoughts from this post, might I recommend two books that I have read in the past that most likely helped shape some of the thoughts written above?

Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges (see here)

Onward by Russell Moore (see here)

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Being the Ten Percent

Living the 10 Percent

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

(Luke 17:11-19, NIV)

Jesus performed miracles for multitudes. Yet, this story of ten men healed of leprosy warranted spotlighting in the gospel of Luke. Ten men pleaded for mercy, only one thanked Jesus for the merciful act of cleansed skin.

Often times in life we petition for acts of mercy from the Father, family, and friends to be met with the granting of our requests. How often do we return the mercy with thanksgiving once it is granted? Are we living like this leaper and being the ten percent who express gratitude? Or, are we living among the ninety percent who grab the grace and keep on going?

November provides perfect practice for thanksgiving and grateful living. As we count our blessings and practice days of gratitude may it be more than a seasonal decor, a hashtag of 31 days of gratitude captioning our social media, or a reason to gather with family. May this month remind us to be the ten percent and thank God for the blessings and grace in all circumstances.

Thanks-giving opens the door to joy-filled living. The ungrateful can quickly become the greedy. The frenzied  who don’t pause to pleasure in what is, will exhaust themselves seeking the next thing.

This month we will further explore together the topic of being the ten percent and seeking to live a life of gratitude in a culture that values gain over saying grace. After all, it is Jesus’ saving grace which ushers in our saying grace.

You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.

G. K. Chesterton

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Five Things To Do On Your Manitou Springs Vacation…With Children!

I regret to inform Lao Tzu that our ideas of a good traveler differ much. He refers to a good traveler as one who “has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”  If that is indeed the measure of a good traveler, then I fall under the pictured caption of “epic failure.” I like to make a plan, work the plan, and stick to the plan…with a little wiggle room of course.

When Ron and I were discussing our vacation to Manitou Springs, I scoured Pinterest for the best places to visit, along with reviews from mamas and papas who had traveled with their bear cubs and lived to tell about it. It is with gratitude to those bloggers who have gone before in blazing a well-marked trail, that I present our own. 

Here are Five Things To Do on Your Manitou Springs Vacation…With Children:

1. The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Pikes Peak is known as, America’s Mountain. It is also the mountain view which inspired Katharine Lee Bates to pen a poem entitled, America the Beautiful, which we sing today. Interesting to note that America the Beautiful was in the running to become the national anthem, but, as we know, was beaten by The Star-Spangled Banner on March 3, 1931.

The Pikes Peak Cog Railway provides a majestic and entertaining way to reach the 14,115 foot summit of Pikes Peak. Bring extra layers as the temperature drops 30 degrees with your ascent. Bring water to drink on the ride, but be aware there are no bathrooms on the train.

We suggest buying the famous donuts as soon as you reach the summit, heading outside for some scenic views and photography opportunities, then a quick trip to the dwindling lines in the bathrooms before your descent on the train. You will have a total of 30 minutes to take in the sights and re-board.

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Pikes Peak Cog Railway

2.  Manitou Incline and Barr Trail

The Manitou Incline is a converted rail-car track. It is an intense one mile ascent with a 2,000 foot elevation gain. Not for the faint of heart or those lacking determination! We hiked the Manitou Incline with our seven and five year old children. Hydration and a flexible attitude are key. This was an adventure for each of us. Luckily, the kids had no idea how extreme an undertaking this hike was; even though I had repeatedly try to enlighten them. We trained for this hike by walking in the very flat city parks of Florida! Be aware if you should attempt this with small children, there are no bathrooms beside the covering of trees. Come prepared!

We loved this hike and felt a great sense of accomplishment upon completion; however, if you are not in the physical or mental state to attempt this hike, I would not suggest tackling it. This was fourth or fifth hike as a family and, at a total of 5 miles our longest hike to date.

We completed the Manitou Incline and Barr Trail in 5.5 hours. We arrived just before 6:00 AM to park in the upper parking lot of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. The attendant said the other parking lot had been full since 4:30 AM. SO…arrive very early. Additionally, we hiked on a Saturday, so the trail was fairly busy. The hikers were friendly and very supportive of our little ones attempting this intimidating hike. One man, Don, even waited for us at the top to cheer us on and take our family picture!

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Manitou Incline and Barr Trail

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3. Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods is by far one of the most breathtaking views and photo opportunities in Manitou Springs. It is filled with moderate hikes and bike paths plus opportunities for horse back riding in the park. The park hosts thirteen points to park and view named rock formations without the need to make a hike. However, we suggest walking in a bit as you might spot some of the beautiful mule deer within the park. For the uber adventurer, you can obtain a free permit, and with the right gear, even climb these majestic red rocks!

It is worth repeating, arrive early! Being the earlier riser in Colorado means having the parks to yourself. Arrive before the gift shops and nature centers open. We tried to be in the car, or at the location, by 7:00 or 7:30. By 10:30 all the other travelers are beginning to fill the parking lots and diminish the atmosphere and ability to take quality pictures of the scenery or your family.

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Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs

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4. Helen Hunt Falls

Helen Hunt Falls hosts a pleasant hike through the forest with the melodic beauty of a waterfall and stream. We opted to drive to the falls then hiked 2/3 of a mile up a moderately steep trail above Helen Hunt Falls to reach Silver Cascade Falls. This was our kids first waterfall to see in person and they loved exploring along the stream, putting their hands in the water, and watching the water rush by.

Helen Hunt Falls

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5. Navigators Creation Tour at Glen Eyrie

Due to flooding a few years ago, the Glen Eyrie Creation Tours had been suspended for safety reasons. It wasn’t until we arrived in Manitou Springs that we discovered they had reopened the tours this summer. Once we found out the tours were back on, the remainder of our trip wasn’t on days the tours are offered (Wednesday through Saturday). Glen Eyrie Creation Tours is a wonderful way for the whole family to learn about creation, the flood, and the reason for the rock formations we see around the world post-flood. I hope that our family can take part in one of these tours the next time we are in the area.

Navigators

Thank you for taking the time to share in our memories of a great trip. May this little guide help you as you take a vacation, a stay-cation, or anything in between in the magnificent surroundings of Manitou Springs, Colorado.

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Five Things to Do on Your Denver Vacation…With Children!

Colorado…truly a land of beauty. The 38th state in the Union, it is rich in culture and heritage, and is a wonderful vacation destination year round. From the beautiful, well-branded state flag, to the friendly people and inspiring scenery, Colorado is a gem to visit or to call home. Below is a list of five must see vacation stops in Denver. Our children are 5 and 7 and enjoyed each of these venues right by our side. We do recommend drinking lots of water throughout your stay as the higher elevation can lead to elevation sickness. Additionally, you may want to take a day to get acclimated to the elevation. Being from Florida, elevation sickness was certainly on the forefront of our minds.

1.  Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater is a beautiful destination to simply drive and get out at lookout points, or to hike through. Our family hiked the Trading Post Loop. The loop  is a 1.4-1.7 mile hike. However, the path is not clearly marked and we additionally hiked up the amphitheater so by the end of the hike it was closer to 3 miles. As with all hikes, take plenty of water and snacks. With small children snacks are a huge motivator. While we serve them snacks throughout the hike, we usually save a special cookie, like Oreo’s, for the end of the hike as a prize to work toward. Be sure and arrive early! We arrived around 7:30 AM and basically had the park to ourselves. By the end of our hike and a visit to the Trading Post, we had people waiting in line for our parking spot and a very busy park.

After your early morning hike, you will be very hungry. We suggest driving a little further into Morrison and grabbing a delicious Mexican dish at El Tapatio restaurant. We recommend the fish and steak tacos.

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2.  Dinosaur Ridge Bus Tour

Dinosaur Ridge is a free walking trail or a paid bus tour for $6 per person ages four and up. This great geological point of interest is presented from an evolutionary worldview. However, the incredible fossils and footprints are worth the tour. Additionally, as a Christian and a person holding to a biblical worldview, I wanted my kids and myself to hear this presentation so that we can ask better questions. Further, that we would be reminded the evidence is the same, but the interpretation is different. Our tour-guide, Dan was very friendly, funny, and informative. I talked with him afterwards about my belief in the world-wide flood of Noah’s time and the evidence for it. He was open to the discussion even while holding to his own beliefs.

Don’t forget to visit Triceratops Trail in Golden Colorado as well. We missed this and missed out on Triceratops footprints alongside plant and bug fossils. (An excuse for my family to make this trip to Denver again!)

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Our son touching a crocodile footprint found alongside dinosaur footprints at Dinosaur Ridge.

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A Brontosaur “bulge” at Dinosaur Ridge. This footprint is is missing the toe impressions, but follows in a sequence of other similar impressions of smaller dinosaurs. This is the first I have learned of such fossilized “bulges” and I can’t wait to research this some more.

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Our tour-guide, Dan, sitting next to Iguanodon (see here and here) footprints which your children can see and touch at Dinosaur Ridge!

3.  Buffalo Bill Trail and Museum  and the Lookout Mountain Nature Center

The most beautiful,family friendly hike we took in Denver was the Lookout Mountain and Buffalo Bill Trail. This trail runs one mile from Buffalo Bill’s Museum and burial place to the Lookout Mountain Nature Center providing a friendly two mile round-trip hike. We started our hike around 7:30 long before either the museum or center was opened. However, there are many beautiful photo, rock climbing, and nature observing venues along this trail that will keep you occupied between visits to the sites and before they open.  Be sure and check out the great nature materials and postcards for purchase at the Nature Center as well as live teaching and exploration classes. While we were there, Bob the Bull Snake was on display for kids to touch and learn about as they visited the center.

After our hike, we enjoyed a bison burger and brat at the Pahaska Tepee before visiting the Buffalo Bill Museum. The cost is $5 per adult and $1 per child ages 6-15.

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4.  Tattered Cover Book Store

In the center of downtown Denver, lies this beautiful niche for book lovers. Enjoy a cup of coffee and a pastry as you and your family peruse the great selection of books. The kids had a great time in the large children’s section. This is a chain bookstore, however, this particular store is larger than the others that we saw at Union Station and the Denver International Airport. A nice stop on a rainy day or an evening in downtown.

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5. Union Station and The Kitchen Next Door

After our visit to the Tattered Cover Book Store, we walked down the block to the newly renovated Union Station. This is a beautiful station in the heart of Denver that will transport you by train wherever you want to go. We didn’t board a train, but the inside sights and the outdoor fountains were beautiful to behold.

After viewing the station, we dined at one of the many restaurants located within. The Kitchen Next Door was a delicious dining experience and the outdoor seating provided a great view of the city and sunset. The kids recommend the Greek salad.

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We were in Denver enjoying these activities for three days (two days for travel). The other three days of our vacation we were in Manitou Springs just outside of Colorado Springs. Join me next Friday as we explore Five Things To Do on Your Manitou Springs Vacation…With Children!

Thanks for reading!

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A Prayer for this Memorial Day

A Memorial Day Prayer

 

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 

John 15:13, KJV

Father, thank you for all our armed service men and women. Thank you for the scores of men and women who have served on our country’s behalf. For those who have stood guard, charged ahead, and kept the peace in turbulent times. Today, we honor their sacrifice and that of their families.

Thank you for bravery in the face of fear, for fortitude when retreat seems logical, and for sacrifice of self for the good of fellow man and soldiers. No one can fathom the face of war unless they have looked into its dark eyes themselves. Likewise, none know the pain of heroism like the widows, children, and parents of the fallen.

Thank you for our freedom in America and for those who served and are serving. May we not give up what they fought so hard to provide and maintain.

Please forgive us our sins as a country and as the Body of Christ. Help us to turn from the bondage of sinful living and turn to the freedom found in obedience to your life-giving commands.  May we remember and spread the good news of your Son, Jesus, who also laid down His sinless life so that we might live in your presence in total forgiveness of sin.

In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

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The Meanderings of Motherhood

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The anticipated birth-day of each of our children come. Then as we are wheeled out to the car with our new little bundles in hand it is strange the feeling of surprise that there are no oaths to take or more papers to sign to take our child home and raise them. After all, foster care and adoption require nearly a left arm and two quarts of blood. Furthermore, many of us depart from the hospital with thoughts like are we ready for this?

I think those are feelings shared by most responsible parents when their children first arrive into the world from the safe confines of the womb. We count the days, weeks, then months of our children’s age to find that the years add up before we grasp the time with our minds, much less our hands.

As the years pass, the diaper bags are placed in the Goodwill or yard-sale pile. Next, the pack-and-play too finds a new home and the toys that we once tripped over have been replaced with big-kid toys we continue to trip over.

That’s the season of life we are in now. Legos have replaced teething-toys, and baby dolls and books have replaced boppy pillows and burp cloths.

I don’t carry a diaper bag anymore, but I rarely leave the house without a few snacks and a water bottle. Even though my children are five and seven, I think they still equate sight of me with hunger. Just ask my husband or the grandparents. The kids could have eaten minutes before I arrive home and one of the first sentences out of their mouths is, “Mom, I’m hungry.” Really?! It’s quite laughable.

Like the meandering path of a river, winding, bending, and curving its way to the sea, so too parenting is not a straight course. Sometimes our children will seem to be independent and free of their need for us in certain categories of life, only to need us greatly in similar categories once again. Occasionally, our well-developed children will hit a bump in the road and need us more than we anticipated at different points throughout our lives together.

I think about the choices my children will make as they grow. These are the easy years–I’ve been told, and I agree. The decisions they make at five and seven are far less reaching than at 12, 16, 18, 21, and even 35. Jesus wisely knows that as the course of our lives wind and bend to our final destination, that we will be prone to worry–not about the bend in front of us, but about the possibility of a twist in the rivers flow a few yards, or even a mile, down. He guides our worry with these words:

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matthew 6:34, KJV

Prayer and praises to Jesus today, and prayer and praises to Jesus in the morrow. So the saying goes, and is good advice based on Matthew 6:34, One day at a time, sweet Jesus.

Prayerfully, our faithfulness in this day reaps rewards in the days to come. Therefore, we need not face this day with worry for the next that has not dawned.

The most precious gifts I have been given in this life are a result of one of the best choices I made in marrying their daddy. I am so grateful for the choices that led me to Ron and for the gift of being a mom to two of the most remarkable people I have ever met.

Happy Mother’s Day to each woman with children of your own and to all women of spiritual children in which you have invested love, prayers, and guidance. May this be a blessed Mother’s Day for you.

Take heart and fear not the morrow,

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Parting Words: Until We Meet Again

Parting Words: Until We Meet Again

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 28:18-20)

The wonderful part of looking at the parting words of Christ, is that Jesus did not ultimately say goodbye. Rather, He said, until we meet again. Essentially, Jesus parted with a promise and with directives and encouragement for His disciples. For all who would follow after Him. That’s the beauty of celebrating Easter, it is a reminder of the promises of God through Christ Jesus.

Easter is a reminder that the work of Christ is finished but the work for His Kingdom continues.

His finished work established our life’s work.

His purpose fulfilled, birthed our purposes revealed.

I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. (Revelation 22:12-13)

His ascension was God’s plan to prepare a place for us and grow His Kingdom and message of redemption all over the earth. Does Jesus really need time to prepare a place for us, unquestionably no. However, this is part of making everything beautiful in its time. His time.

For those in Christ Jesus, no parting words would henceforth be forever. A reunion of saints now awaits after this life. What joy! Promised joy and a weight of glory unimaginable. He came and conquered death and He is coming back…next time as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords not as a suffering servant nor sacrificial lamb.

This life’s temporal goodbyes which separate the living from those in eternity continue to sting, but joy filled reunions will resound in heaven for those in Christ Jesus. Take heart and press on until such time.

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Parting Words: At the Tomb

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“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 20:16-18)

Mary Magdalene was soaked with sadness as she approached the tomb. She had come to anoint Jesus’ body with spices, but could not cease her weeping as she mourned the loss of her Lord and Teacher.  Finding the stone rolled away and his grave empty, Mary knelt in the tomb anguished and assuming someone had taken Jesus’ body. Imagine what overwhelming joy was hers when she saw and recognized the risen Savior as he called her name, “Mary.”

Isn’t it comforting when someone close to you calls you by name? When someone you love and, or respect calls you by name without asking something of you, it prompts a feeling of being known and valued. Mary must have felt such feelings a hundred times over.

However, as Mary undoubtedly embraces Jesus, the Lord asks her not to cling to Him, but go and tell His disciples that Jesus is returning to the Father. Oh…and she also tells them that He is alive!

There are multiple opinions by theologians and scholars as to what Jesus meant when He asked Mary to refrain from clinging to Himself. I encourage you to go and study those for yourself. However, what the text is not saying is that Jesus was a spirit at this point. He was fully risen with a new human body–his resurrected body–which bore the marks of his crucifixion. As accounted in Luke 24:

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace, to you!”  But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” …“Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.(Luke 24:36-39, 41-42)

Jesus had risen in the flesh and Mary Magdalene was the first of over 500 that he would appear to. Mary, overcome with joy and emotion, wanted to worship her Savior and Lord, her Teacher and friend. However, Jesus wanted her to spread the word to His disciples because the mission was just beginning, and the advancement of the Kingdom was at hand.

May this Easter find you accepting Jesus’ words to the disciples and to Mary Magdalene: Peace be with you…go and tell.

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Parting Words: The Crucifixion

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 

~Luke 23:33

Imagine the scene unfolding, the Pharisees had seized the opportunity they sought. Jesus was finally receiving the repercussions for his blasphemous statements– at least that is how they viewed it. His disciples initially scattered both scared and confused. Of those within his intimate sphere we find recorded in the gospel at the foot of the cross, only his mother, John, and the women that had followed him left to observe the murder of their Lord. Considering that there are four gospel recordings of the events at the crucifixion, I believe it is likely that there were other disciples who were eye witnesses of the events of that day, although those disciples are not named specifically within the gospel accounts.

The people that had listened to his teachings and followed the murmuring in the streets and temple most likely watched the events unfold, but center stage were the Pharisees, the Roman soldiers, and the religious rulers mocking, “if you are the Son of God, then save yourself!” Were these crowds of onlookers the same Jews who had feasted at the feeding of the five thousand?Or the miraculously healed?  If so, it would seem they had forgotten the Lord’s words and works as quickly as their stomachs had digested the fish and bread. Or, perhaps they stood as followers of Christ, helpless to save their Savior, and broken over the plight of their beloved teacher.

Parting Words: Jesus at the Crucifixion

Finally, envision the criminals on his right and his left. These men had the birds-eye-view of all that unfolded from the time the nails bore into Jesus’ flesh and the spear pierced His side. As Jesus stretched out His arms for the nails to be driven into his wrists, He could not escape the reality, nor can we, that He was dying for the sins of wretched, but dearly beloved people, separated from God by rebellious hearts.

As the Roman soldiers nailed him to the cross, Jesus said,

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)

Then the soldiers cast lots for his garments and proceeded, business as usual, unknowingly slaughtering the Son of God.

The minutes and hours tick by and Jesus next takes care of His mother leaving her in the care of John. Quintessentially posturing Mary at the foot of the cross for the rest of history (See hereJesus says to Mary:

“Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:26-27)

Next we see the dichotomy of man’s response to Jesus for the rest of temporal time. A mocking rejection of the Lord, and a proclamation of  Jesus as the sinless Son, Savior, and LORD:

“Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

Following, we see a return to the ever present reality that Jesus was fully human and had physical needs even as He was divine. Additionally, we see the fulfilling of scripture as prophesied in Psalm 69:21,

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” (John 19:28-30)

The hyssop branch is perhaps reminiscent of the blood dipped on hyssop to frame the door posts of the Israelites (Exodus 12:21-27) to preserve them from the wrath of God–from the destroyer that would kill those not covered by the blood of the sacrificial lambs. The final sacrifice for all who believe had been made, the final blood needed for the forgiveness of sins had been spilled and therefore, as recorded in three of the gospels, Jesus cried out with a loud voice:

“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” Which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” And having said this he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)

This final act commenced an eternal reaction and a physical response from the earth and observers,

And the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:38-39)

The parting words of Jesus finalize the sacrifice needed for the forgiveness of our sins and remind us that it is through Christ alone that we find salvation. It is not fellow followers of Christ, his mother, nor any works that save us. His parting words remind us that it is in Christ alone we are forgiven. Amen and amen!

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