Holy Week

Maundy Thursday

My prayer for you this week is that God’s love for you will become a new reality, that your spirit will be refreshed and that the presence of the Almighty God will surround you and fill you.

Jesus shared the final meal with his disciples, called the Last Supper, on the night before he was crucified. The institution of the Holy Eucharist occurred during this meal, as indicated from the gospel excerpt below:

“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:26-29 RSV)

The Last Supper is the ultimate revelation of God’s redeeming love for man.  “It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of love.”* (John 13:1) (*Some translations read “he loved them to the end.”)

After the meal, Jesus rose and with a basin full of water and a clean towel, he washed the feet of the disciples. He did this to teach them humility and service, evidences of love.

If you’ve never had your feet washed by another Christian, it is the most amazing act of love and humility a person can do. It is a true demonstration of Christ’s love for you and it will humble you greatly  – to think that this person, kneeling in front of you and washing your feet, loves you so much that they would do that for you…amazing love!

It’s all about His love for you and for me.

 
Uncategorized

The Fourteen Stages of the Cross

A Brief History:

In past years, when people visited the Holy Land, they were, of course, eager to visit all of the places where Jesus had visited during His three years of ministry. This was a very real connection to the life of Christ. Over the years, some of these sites became almost impossible to reach and villages and cities all across Europe began creating replicas of the way of the cross. These replicas became the set of the fourteen Stations of the Cross and were placed in almost every Catholic Church in the world.

Other denominations also observe the Stations of the Cross, as does my former denomination, the Charismatic Episcopal Church. In their sanctuary, the Stations of the Cross are displayed pictorially around the room in chronological order. Each station represents a time during Holy Week. For me, it is another visible and participatory way of understanding how much God sacrificed because of His love for you and for me.

The First Station: Jesus is condemned to die

On the Mount of Olives, Jesus prayed: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” God did not remove this action of love from Jesus, and Jesus submitted to God and placed His life in God’s hands. Now, He has been beaten and tortured. But that is only the beginning. There is much more He will endure before the end. He has been wrongfully charged and condemned to die. He endured the beatings, the torture and the condemnation because of His great love for you and for me.

Jesus’ love for us is vast and unconditional.

The Second Station: Jesus Carries His Cross

The soldiers and guards made Jesus carry His own cross. This cross must have weighed more than one hundred pounds, but to Jesus it felt so much heavier. This cross represents the weight of our sin. With every step, the cross becomes heavier as He begins to experience the humanness of the world. Our sins cause the cross to grow heavier and heavier.

But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 Amplified Bible

The Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time

The weight of the cross has become unbearable. Jesus falls to His knees. Sweat is rolling down his back, His legs. Blood mixes with sweat as it rolls down His face. His body is growing weaker. The heaviness of human sin, misery, and sorrow prevents Him from rising. But the soldiers make Him rise and continue on the journey.

The weight of my sin—and yours—causes Jesus to fall from the burden.

The Fourth Station: Jesus Sees His Mother

I cannot imagine how it must have hurt Jesus’ heart for His mother to see Him in this condition. Not that He was too proud; but that He loved her so much He did not want her to see Him suffer. I think of Mary, His mother. How her heart must have shattered into pieces—seeing Him broken and bleeding—and not even realizing the worst was yet to come. Even comprehending just a small amount of Jesus’ suffering for us, I cannot fathom Mary’s grief. As a mother, I would not be able to walk that path.

Jesus’ heart broke for his mother, but it broke for us as well.

The Fifth Station: Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross

“A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.”  (Mark 15:21) The cross has become so heavy, and Jesus is so weakened, the soldiers have no choice but to draft someone. That someone was Simon. I wonder what was going through his mind. Chosen randomly out of the crowd, did he know it was Jesus? Did he feel Jesus’ love for him, even as he assisted in the ultimate end?

Would we have accepted the assignment, knowing the outcome?

The Sixth Station: Jesus’ Face Wiped

As Jesus continues through the streets with Simon helping Him, a woman leaves her home and meets Him as He passes by. She offers Him her veil to wipe His face of the sweat and blood that continues to trickle down from His head. When Jesus returns the veil to her, His face is imprinted on her veil.

How compassionate, how courageous this woman was, risking the wrath of the Roman soldiers as she offered her veil to Jesus.

The Seventh Station: Jesus Falls the Second Time

Although Simon continues to help him, Jesus falls a second time. The exhaustion is bone-deep and He experiences the disability, aging and disease that is experienced by humans down through the ages.

Not only did Jesus bear our sins, but also our diseases and our disabilities.

The Eighth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem 


The Daughters of Jerusalem, as they are named in the Bible, come to see Him, mourning and crying. But Jesus tells them not to weep for Him; rather weep for themselves. He knew that the days and months ahead would be harder than those in the past.

Just as Jesus loved the Daughters of Jerusalem, He loves us equally as much.

The Ninth Station: Jesus Falls the Third Time


The last time Jesus falls is the most injurious of all. He can go no further for He has no strength left. Only the strength of God will see Him up the hill. I pause here to wonder what was going through the onlookers’ minds. Were they afraid to help Him? Afraid of the soldiers’ retaliation against them? His friends and supporters had abandoned him – in fact, many had turned against Him. But how can any person with even an ounce of compassion watch this cruelty and not speak out? Had I been there, would I have spoken out? Would I have tried to assist my Lord? Or would I have abandoned Him? Denied that I knew Him?

Jesus unconditionally loves us, right where we are in our lives.

The Tenth Station: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments 


As if being publicly crucified wasn’t degrading enough, those to be put to death in this manner were also stripped of all but the most essential garments. What humiliation our Savior must have suffered. Not only is He stripped of His clothes, but also of His dignity. The wounds on His back that had begun to close were ripped open again as his clothes were ripped from His back.

Jesus understands our pain, our sorrow, our humiliation because He bore all of that and more on the cross. And He did that because He loves us, without reservation.

The Eleventh Station: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross


The cross is laid on the ground and Jesus is made to lay on it. Soldiers grab each arm and stretch them across the wood. They line his feet up. And the terrible noise of hammers hitting spikes begins. BAM! WHOOSH! BAM! WHOOSH! With every hit of the hammer against the spike, the ears of the bystanders ring. As the hammer is lifted, one can hear it fly through the air as the soldier raises it high, only to bring it back down to drive the spike further into His hands and feet. When the sounds finally stop, sobbing can be heard throughout the crowd. The soldiers take long white strips of cloth, wrap it around the cross, raise it, and drop it into the prepared hole. With every jerk of the cross as it is being lifted, the nails bite into Jesus’ flesh a little more. I cannot imagine the agony that flowed through His body.

Even in the midst of pain and agony, WE were on His mind. He bore all of this because of His great love for us.

The Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross 


Jesus was crucified between two criminals. Before dying, He pardons the sins of one. He sees His mother standing at the foot of the cross and John standing close by. He gives John the task of taking care of His mother. With His earthly responsibilities discharged, He breathes His last breath. Imagine how Mary must have felt. Grief that her Son was no longer on earth, but relief that He was no longer suffering.

Jesus did this because He loves you, just like you are, no strings attached.

The Thirteenth Station: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross 

Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Accompanied by Nicodemus, the two men lovingly wrapped Jesus’ body in strips of white linen and herbs – aloe and myrrh. Some of their tears of grief mixed with the aloe and myrrh. What an act of service and love and sacrifice. Just like Jesus.

Jesus sacrificed His all for us because of His great love for us.

The Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

Jesus is laid in a tomb that Joseph and Nicodemus thought would be His final resting place. The huge stone that was rolled in front of the tomb, sealing it off completely, was the final sign of Jesus’ death.

This not-so-final station was part of God’s plan all along. Jesus was crucified, bearing the sins of you, me – all of humanity, so that we will have eternal life with Him. This is part of His plan of salvation.

(Romans 5:6-11) “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7) Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9) Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10) For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11) Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (emphasis mine)

Re-read verse eight – over and over again. Knowing we were sinners, knowing we deserved only death because of our sin, God STILL sent His Son to die in our place. And He did it because He LOVES us – unconditionally, extravagantly, recklessly, beyond our comprehension!

If you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, may this Easter season be the time you become His child. If you do know Him, take this season to deepen your relationship with Him.

God is not angry with you. He has not forsaken you. He has forgiven you. He loves you.

Uncategorized

Book Review: Morning Star

In Kristen Terrette’s third book, “Morning Star”, of the Moanna Island Series, she ramps up the romance, the danger and excitement.

Sparks fly, although at first, they’re more sparks of irritation than attraction when Shane Armstrong and Addie McHenry meet. Shane has come home to his grandmother’s house to recover from a tragic job-site accident, knowing he will have peace and quiet there. It’s anything but that when he pulls onto his grandmother’s street and can’t get into her driveway.

Addie McHenry has taken over the house next to Shane’s grandmother’s to remodel it for a TV home-makeover reality show. Cars, vans, and trucks are parked up and down the street and even a camper is parked in the driveway of the house being renovated. The noise level is about to break the sound barrier. So much for peace and quiet!

This book has all the great qualities of a good Christian romance. God plays a major role in this story, but there’s also plenty of heart-pounding romance and edge-of-your-seat danger.

i give this book my highest recommendation and a rating of 10 out 0f 10.

I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is strictly my own.

Uncategorized

Book Review: Bruised But Not Broken

Sheryl Beck-Nelson’s book, Bruised But Not Broken – The Journey from Heartache to Healing, is a candid look at her life beginning on February 26, 2012, the day her husband, Rich, had chest pains, through the hours and hours of his heart surgery, through the many hours of watching and waiting, until February 28, 2012, when he went to be with the Lord. She walks the reader through her grief, through decisions that had to be made, from planning the memorial service to where she and her son, Mathew, would stay. She does all of this in the first 21 pages of the book. The remainder of the book covers the healing process she went through – how God walked with her through that period, the blessings He bestowed upon her, and the things she learned.

This book is one of the most inspiring and motivating books I’ve ever read. Based completely on Biblical teachings, Ms. Beck-Nelson shares what she learned during this time, and she urges the readers to apply the lessons she learned to their lives. She encourages us to dream big and extravagantly, to discover the purpose God has for our lives and to follow Him.

This book will certainly help someone who has suffered a great loss, as Ms. Beck-Nelson did. But the book’s reach is far greater as it will benefit everyone who reads it.

Uncategorized

Book Review: Portrait by JoAnn Durgin

Best selling author, JoAnn Durgin has begun a new series, but fans of the Lewis Legacy Series (LLS) have no need to worry! There will be occasional glimpses of our beloved TeamWork members. This new series, The Grantham-Michaels Series (GMS), promises to be just as good, if not better, than the Lewis Legacy Series. Now, before all of you LLS fans, of which I am one, start throwing things at me, let me tell you that the GMS series is totally different from LLS. In the first book of the GMS, Portrait,  Ms. Durgin included fascinating information on fine art, painting portraits, collectors’ items and even shipping, adding a realistic background to the story.

Of course, there is the beautiful love story of Evan and Lianna. Captivated by each other at first glance, Ms. Durgin, develops the love story, using the faith of Evan and Lianna to build each other up and to witness to those around them. With grace and finesse, she shows that Christians can be faced with temptation, but stand strong in their beliefs.

There are wonderful secondary characters–Evan’s brother, Dylan, who has been in and out of prison for years, Lianna’s best friend and roommate, Sunnye, The Granthams’, Evan’s “family” and business associates, and the precocious, hurting Samantha, the nine-year old daughter of the Granthams, who is highly intelligent, frequently tries to act like an adult, but still is a child.

Portrait is a fresh, new writing from Ms. Durgin and I look foward to reading the next book in the series.

I did not receive any compensation for this review. The opinion expressed here is solely mine.

Uncategorized

It Really Is Just a Number

When I was in my twenties, I never thought about what my life would be like when I reached my fifties. Heck, I never thought about what my life would be like in my forties. Certainly, I never even broached the subject of turning sixty! Horrors!

When I reached my early fifties, I considered my sixties but only for a nanosecond. After all, that was lightyears away.

In my mid-fifties, I began to have the occasional ache here, a little pain there. Still nothing to be concerned about, I reassured myself.

Then I was no longer in my mid-fifties, I had reached my late fifties. Suddenly, without any warning (or any to which I paid attention) I was staring sixty in the face. I convinced myself that sixty is just a number and I kept on going.

The other day, an envelope arrived in the mail. The return address was the Department of Health and Welfare. My first thought was, “What do they want with me?” I ripped open the envelope and peeked inside. There was a card there. A red, white and blue card. Across the top was printed “Medicare.” And I knew I had almost arrived.

Yesterday, I reached the mid-point of the sixties. The BIG one. 65. WOW.

I’ve been reflecting about all the things I’ve done in these first sixty-five years of my life. Here are some that mean so much to me: 1) I’ve taught many classes in church, and I’ve counseled more people than I can count on ten fingers and ten toes. I hope and pray that God spoke through me to help each person. 2) Some people would probably disagree, but this is my story, so I’ll say that I believe I’ve achieved success in my professional career in my chosen field of administration. I’ve worked for Fortune 500 companies, privately-owned companies, a non-profit organization and three—count ‘em—three churches. 3) I am a writer. I’ve written articles for websites, church newsletters and over 600 blogs on this site. And, under a pen name, I’ve written and published a book. I’m working on two books now.

My greatest achievements are named Kim and Kyle, my two children. We went through some very difficult years—years they should not have had to go through. But by God’s grace and mercy, we survived, and we thrived. Today, both are happily married. Kim has one son, Mack, and her husband, Steven, has a daughter and son, Danielle and Owen. Kyle, and his wife Angela, have one son, Maverick, who turned one year old yesterday. Yep, born on my birthday.

Now, I begin looking ahead to what God has in store for me, and my wonderful husband and soul mate, Dave, in the next 65 years.

Robert Browning wrote: “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in His hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!”

It really is just a number!

God's love, Uncategorized

Book Review: “Chasing Abigail”

When I first began to read “Chasing Abigail” I must admit that I was a little overwhelmed by the number of characters in the book. At that time, I did not realize that this book is the second book in The Restoration Series. Yes, you can read this book as a stand-alone and you will enjoy it. I would recommend that if you can get a copy of Book one in the series, Leann’s Victory, do so and read it.

Still, I persevered and a few chapters into the book I had the characters fixed in my mind. In all fairness to the author, Renee Kinlaw, the characters and their roles were listed in the front of the book–I didn’t see that page until I was finished reading the book.

This book centered around Abigail Reese and Michael Jennings. Abigail is a young woman who ran every morning as a form of exercise, but who had also run away from love, commitment and relationships most of her life. Michael is Pastor Michael Jennings, the single pastor of Palm Island Baptist Church. Jennings has been praying, asking God to send him the woman that he has selected for him. God shows him that woman is Abigail. Michael is captivated by Abigail’s beauty and even by her wounded spirit. And so, the “chasing” of Abigail begins.

Michael and Abigail’s story is a beautiful love story, but more importantly, God and Abigail’s story is a moving story of the love of the Father for His daughter. It tells us that God stands at the door of our hearts, knocking, patiently waiting for us to let Him enter. It reminds all of us just how far our Father God will go to prove His love for us. It reminds us of how his love for us is unconditional, extravagant, reckless, no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done. 

Ms. Kinlaw did a masterful job in writing this book, without being pushy or “preachy.” This is a book that you will want to put on top of the stack of books by your bedside that you’ve yet to read. And you will want to read it more than once – it’s just that enjoyable.

I give this book a 10 on a rating scale of 1-10 and if I could rate it higher, I would.