Wednesday, April 16, 2014

8 Ways Jesus Suffered for You

I think this is a wonderful post.
Read it and consider what Jesus did for you. Author, J. Lee Grady is an excellent and thoughtful writer.  I've read him for years and he just keeps getting better.
In my years of searching for a deeper Christian walk, I had to confront all of the joy I found in Good Friday services with the reality that I personally did not contemplate the "holiness" of  the life of Jesus and His willing sacrifice for me. For ME!  Neither were others who worshipped with us at our many churches through the years. We were busy singing and having a great praise and worship service for the most part. As Lee states, my Jesus came off that cross! (See my blog on that subject below somewhere.)
As I was coming in the Church, I was ending a 40 day fast, experiencing Holy Week in a completely new and convicting way anticipating Easter Vigil and identifying with 2000 years of Christians who had gone before me in thankfulness to the Only Begotten Son of God, who gave up His Life for Me.
Oh, Fortunate Fall.



In the churches I grew up in, all the crosses I saw were plain and empty—and usually painted white. We celebrated the fact that Jesus came off the cross and was raised from the dead on Resurrection Sunday. So I always considered the Catholic cross very odd because Jesus was still hanging there in bloody agony. Some people I knew even suggested that crucifixes should be avoided because they leave Jesus in perpetual death.
I’m not lobbying for anyone to wear a crucifix. But I do think we Protestants have at times been so fearful of Catholic doctrines that we minimized Jesus’ painful suffering. In the Gospels, plenty of time is spent describing the torture that led to Calvary and the pain Jesus suffered while nailed to a piece of wood. We should ponder what Jesus suffered if we ever hope to fathom the price He paid for our salvation.
Here are eight things we should think about during the days leading up to Easter:
1. He was betrayed by His disciple Judas. Jesus’ pain was not just physical. Can you imagine the sorrow He felt when one of His own trusted friends became the ultimate traitor? We aren’t exactly sure how to calculate the modern value of 30 pieces of silver, but many scholars suggest about $950. All the pain Jesus endured on Good Friday began the night before, when Judas took blood money to have his Master arrested.
Think about it: There’s a bit of Judas in all of us, and we all betrayed Jesus to get our own way. Yet He chose to forgive us!
2. He was abandoned by His other followers. We often focus on Peter’s denial of Jesus. But the Scriptures remind us that all of Jesus’ disciples “left Him and fled” after His arrest (Mark 14:50, NASB). Jesus had to suffer alone. All the men He had taught and invested in for three and a half years abandoned Him in His hour of need.
Think about it: Jesus paid it all. He accomplished His work of redemption without our help. But He forgave us for our denials!
3. He carried the burden of the sins of the world. Jesus’ greatest agony didn’t start on the cross. It began at Gethsemane, where God laid on His Son the sins of the world. Jesus agonized so intensely in those moments that He sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Scholars say He probably developed a condition known as hematidrosis, in which blood is emitted through the sweat glands because of intense stress.
Think about it: Your sin was transferred to Jesus’ account, and He bore the punishment you deserved!
4. He was falsely accused and rejected by Jewish leaders. Can you imagine the heartache Jesus experienced when the very people He was sent to save spat in His face, blindfolded Him, cursed Him and accused Him of blasphemy? The Sanhedrin set up a kangaroo court and sentenced the Son of God to death.
Think about it: Jesus did not open His mouth in self-defense when He was falsely accused. Now, when Satan accuses you, Jesus argues your case and declares you not guilty!
5. He was mocked and abused by Roman guards. After Pilate caved into pressure from the Jews, Roman soldiers flogged Jesus with a whip, drove a crown of thorns into His scalp, beat His head with sticks and mockingly pretended to worship Him. The flogging alone—which would have involved leather cords with pieces of lead or bone attached—would have drained much of Jesus’ blood.
Think about it: Jesus could have called on angels to stop His torture—but He chose to endure the pain because He loved us!
6. He was crucified between two thieves. We cannot even fathom the pain of crucifixion. Metal spikes were driven into Jesus’ hands and feet, and He had to slide His mangled body up against the wood of the cross in order to catch His breath. And because it was the habit of Romans to crucify criminals naked, Jesus endured the ultimate shame. What's more, He hung on that crude cross next to two men who had been convicted of crimes—while He was completely innocent.
Think about it: We should have been on death row, not Jesus. But He took our place!
7. His body was pierced with a spear. Even after Jesus took His last breath, a soldier jabbed a spear up through the chest cavity—most likely to make sure Jesus was dead. John tells us that blood and water spilled out (John 19:34), evidence that the spear pierced the pericardium, the sac around the heart. Jesus’ heart was literally broken for us.
Think about it: Just as Adam’s side was opened to bring forth the first woman, Jesus’ side was opened to bring forth the church. His piercing produced a fountain of life for us!
8. He tasted death for all. This is the most horrible reality of the cross. Christ did not die metaphorically or symbolically. He died literally. The Son of God, who had never sinned—and who was least deserving of death—died so we could have life. His heart stopped beating, He stopped breathing and His spirit left Him. First Peter 3:18 says: “For Christ also died for sins once and for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.”
Think about it: Because Jesus died in our place, we no longer have to die. Eternal life is His free gift to us!
This Easter season, ponder the steps the Savior took from Gethsemane to Golgotha. Look at His nail-pierced hands and feet. Take a careful survey of His wondrous cross, and thank Him for hanging there six hours for you.
Note: If you know someone who doesn’t understand what Jesus did for them on the cross, please forward this article to them—and invite them to your church on Easter Sunday.
J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at@leegrady. He is the author of The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale and other books.

http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/20182-eight-ways-jesus-suffered-for-you

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Friday, February 14, 2014

St. Valentine's Love

St. Valentine's Day! Why all the commotion? I am always amazed that the world bows at the feet of Christianity and true love even if they don't  understand where it came from!


The origin of this holiday for the expression of love really isn't romantic at all -- at least not in the traditional sense. Father Frank O'Gara of Whitefriars Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, tells the real story of the man behind the holiday -- St. Valentine.
"He was a Roman Priest at a time when there was an emperor called Claudias who persecuted the church at that particular time," Father O'Gara explains. " He also had an edict that prohibited the marriage of young people. This was based on the hypothesis that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers because married soldiers might be afraid of what might happen to them or their wives or families if they died."
"I think we must bear in mind that it was a very permissive society in which Valentine lived," says Father O'Gara. "Polygamy would have been much more popular than just one woman and one man living together. And yet some of them seemed to be attracted to Christian faith. But obviously the church thought that marriage was very sacred between one man and one woman for their life and that it was to be encouraged. And so it immediately presented the problem to the Christian church of what to do about this."
"The idea of encouraging them to marry within the Christian church was what Valentine was about. And he secretly married them because of the edict."
Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for performing marriage ceremonies against command of Emperor Claudius the second. There are legends surrounding Valentine's actions while in prison.
"One of the men who was to judge him in line with the Roman law at the time was a man called Asterius, whose daughter was blind. He was supposed to have prayed with and healed the young girl with such astonishing effect that Asterius himself became Christian as a result."
In the year 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to a three part execution of a beating, stoning, and finally decapitation all because of his stand for Christian marriage. The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius' daughter. He inspired today's romantic missives by signing it, "from your Valentine."
"What Valentine means to me as a priest," explains Father O'Gara, "is that there comes a time where you have to lay your life upon the line for what you believe. And with the power of the Holy Spirit we can do that -- even to the point of death."
Valentine's martyrdom has not gone unnoticed by the general public. In fact, Whitefriars Street Church is one of three churches that claim to house the remains of Valentine. Today, many people make the pilgrimage to the church to honor the courage and memory of this Christian saint.
"Valentine has come to be known as the patron saint of lovers. Before you enter into a Christian marriage you want some sense of God in your life -- some great need of God in your life. And we know, particularly in the modern world, many people are meeting God through his Son, Jesus Christ."
"If Valentine were here today, he would say to married couples that there comes a time where you're going to have to suffer. It's not going to be easy to maintain your commitment and your vows in marriage. Don't be surprised if the 'gushing' love that you have for someone changes to something less "gushing" but maybe much more mature. And the question is, is that young person ready for that?"
"So on the day of the marriage they have to take that into context," Father O'Gara says. "Love -- human love and sexuality is wonderful, and blessed by God -- but also the shadow of the cross. That's what Valentine means to me."

Fr. O'Gara has it right.
This Valentine's Day Pope Francis' tweet said  "Dear young people, don't be afraid to marry. A faithful and fruitful marriage will bring you happiness."
I agree. Pick carefully and wisely. Seek the safety of many counselors and ask questions from happy and long married couples. It isn't about the flowers on this special day but true love that will lay down their life for another.
John 15:13 The Message “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
The world looks at this day and romantic love but the Cross and what Jesus did there is the backbone for all romantic love, the love that God created when he created man. If you haven't shared Jesus with someone you love, why don't you stop today and do that? You may be the only one that ever tells them about the truest love there has ever been. The love that will never fail them, forgive them and knows them by name. What a gift! You may not have to become a martyr like St. Valentine to show love but you may be the living water that brings them life.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Family




When my kids were little, we gave the first four names based on their personalities. “kin” and “sthetic” and “stub” and “born”.  They still have distinct personalities but their nature is fairly easily recognized. Two are very stubborn internal learners and two are very touchy, feely tactile learners, thus, kinesthetic.


As they've become adults, their nature doesn't change.


The stubborn tend to learn the hard way. They tend to not take advice, even though they might ask for it and they are going to do it their way anyway. YOU are wrong and THEY are right! They will alienate themselves from those who love them most and tell them the truth because they don't want people that don't agree with them, telling them they are wrong. My kinesthetic ones  may go on with their plans but they are “softer” about their conclusions. They don't want to lose family in the process.


Somewhere in that mix-up, the words, introvert and extrovert make their appearance. In this society, feelings have decided to take center stage and judgements are now based on how you should have said something to convey your point. Truth is to be based subjectively not objectively.


GROW UP!


What happened to people being able to have a different opinion, state it and go on? The world is not made up of everybody liking what you are going to do but can't they verbalize their opinion and others live with it? Part of playing fair is to know where others stand. Truth is black and white. When it becomes subjective based on who is invovled, society falls apart. The lines become blurred because there is no definition of what is truth.


Parents do not have to embrace adult childrens decisions. That doesn't mean they don't love them. That means they don't like what they are choosing to do. That is part of life and living in a world where you agree to disagree. Families have the right of family to be in your face because they love you more than anybody else in the world. They know your personality and your tendencies because they birthed you and raised you. They want only the best for you. They above all others look down the long road ahead of you and see potential potholes because they have your best interest at heart.


It comes back to honor.


If you respect those who gave you life and got you to the point you are at, you will value their opinion more than your own. They have already lived through the hard knocks.You may go ahead and do what you want but your parents don't have to be cut off or alienated from day to day interaction just because they don't agree with your decisions. Parents really only want the best for you and they will risk alienation in order to keep you from pain that you cannot see, because you are blinded by "love". Why? Because they really are your best friend and only want the best for you.


Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. Prov. 22:6
I still  believe it, even if I don't see it.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Some Ideas to Get You Started on Renewal in Your Diocese



Diocesan Liaisons are appointed by the local Bishop to help grow the renewal in the Church. It is up to you, fellow laity and local priests, to put us to work. Three potential ways are Life in the Spirit workshops, prayer meetings and Bible studies,

A Life in the Spirit workshop can be hosted by a local parish or group within the parish. It is an opportunity to learn more about the working and charisms of the Holy Spirit. Ask your liaison about it. Pray first. Ask the Holy Spirit's guidance and go ask your priest. If you are willing to carry the work load and tell him so, there should be no problem in getting a weekend scheduled at your parish. If your priest doesn't respond positively, don't be discouraged. Talk to your liaison and let them approach your priest. Be persistent in talking to others in your parish to get the ball rolling. When you do get your weekend, follow it up with weekly training that your liaison can provide.

Prayer meetings and Bible studies can be a great source of encouragement and spiritual growth. In a home or in a parish setting, I haven't had a priest turn down a prayer meeting yet. Your liaison can give you guidance, get you started and lead it for you until you feel confident to carry on yourself. Both meetings are a great way to invite the unchurched or lapsed Christians into a God encounter and expose them to a richer spiritual life through the Holy Spirit. You could even do a Bible study, supplemented with great books to read and encourage.

Most of the Charismatics in a parish don't (and shouldn't) identify themselves as a separate group. We aren't a movement. We ARE the Church and in many parishes, the workers in so many other capacities as well (CCD, RCIA, Knights, etc.) Don't be afraid to expose your other brothers and sisters in the parish to the power of the Holy Spirit. Call on your liaison for help!

John 14:12-14 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.