The season of hope is upon us! Here is the first of today’s messages concerning Holy Week!
The season of hope is upon us! Here is the first of today’s messages concerning Holy Week!
This is the continuation of Jerome’s story after the lights went out. If you missed the last edition or any before they can be accessed here or on “The Stories” Page:
Today Oliver picks up where Jerome left off.
The Good Shepherd Pt. 5
I remember sitting beside Poppie in his last wheezes. Nannie had dropped dead two days before in the kitchen. There was no one to call. No one would come anyway. So I managed to drag her body into the bedroom and close the door. I cried a thousand tears that night, but even my little girl wailing couldn’t cover over Poppie’s labored breathing from the other room. Without his oxygen he could do little more than sit and stare at the candle I kept lit on the mantle-piece in place of the television. He still thumbed his Bible pretending to read in the dark.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:…
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:…
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:…
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross….
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:…
That at the name of Jesus…”
He gasped between the quotations and always finished with “He’s comin’ soon little girl. Don’t give up.”
I stayed until I couldn’t stand the smell anymore. Three days maybe four.
Poppie had taught me the woods. I had a pack and a little tent. I knew I wasn’t going to survive in the city. So I walked straight out along the edges of 101 until it met with 68 then over towards the old 32.
I met Jolly’s boys (I never called them Bone Brothers, what a dumb name) one day while I was fishing the hollows with a hook and string and a bit of bread. The first thieving we did was for hunting and fishing supplies. I wanted a hunting pack but when Jolly realized it was quicker to steal food than hunting gear I ended up with a juvy chain gang. Still Poppie always said “You work with what you got.”
When the Good Shepherd came I pretty much thought it was God giving me a break. When the cops came and killed all my friends and arrested the only man who ever tried to help us I realized it was a punishment… just slow like God usually works.
I watched between the roots where the good shepherd had hidden me. I watched them strip off his clothes and march him off towards town barefoot and naked. When they’d gone I went and gathered my stuff. My tent was all covered with bits of brains and bones. The cops had taken all the food. But my pack inside my tent was safe. My boots were still inside.
I thought about heading deeper into the woods, but the key Jerome had given me was burning in my pocket. I headed towards town keeping well off the roads. He never told me which church it was I was supposed to hide in. Most of that first night I hunkered in shadows and ran between beams of moonlight. I tried three church doors before I found the right building.
I wandered through the deserted building. Something made me take my shoes off at the sanctuary door. I remembered the story of Moses and holy ground. Thinking maybe if I played it right God would let my people go, bring Jolly and the others back and let the Good Shepherd go.
I walked up to the altar steps feeling the plush carpet smoosh between my bare toes and I knelt down. “Jesus I’m sorry about what I let the boys do. I guess we deserved what we got, but Jerome… you sent him. Now he’s in trouble all because of us. Help him.”
That’s when I saw the dress in the box under the cross. It had blue flowers on a white background and a pin on the lapel that read, “helps committee”. It even fit. I found a matching pair of shoes in the bottom of the box. It was God’s plan and my choice.
I started visiting the jailhouse the next day. I introduced myself as Virginia, but no one cares what your name is when your pretty. They just trust your eyelashes. A few bats of the baby blues and I was in like Flynn. I had brought extra blankets the first day. The second day I brought a thermos of tea. The third I brewed up some coffee for Jerome and an extra thermos for the deputies.
“You all work so hard.” I cooed “It’s just not right that I bring coffee for the pastor and not for you fine men in blue.”
Word circulated that the pastor was going to be tried for treason against the town council on Monday next. The deputies told me that under martial law the penalty for helping the Bone Brothers would be death for the Good Shepherd.
On Sunday I brewed two thermoses of coffee and went for my usual visit. I had also sawed half way through my right heel. The guard smiled at me as I walked into the station holding up the thermos of coffee for the deputies.
“We just love it when you visit us Virginia!” the crew chief smiled.
I screamed as my heel came unglued. Hot coffee splattered the protective glass as the thermoses smashed against the walls where I flung them. I made sure to cushion my fall with the powdered creamer I had taken from the church. Fine white powder exploded beneath my left hip mixing with the puddles of hot brown liquid congealing around my dress.
He didn’t notice when I lifted his keys from the belt. I made sure I lamented loudly about my only good shoes as he mopped up the floor with towels from the back. He insisted I go in and visit while he cleaned up. I unlocked Jerome’s cell. I put paper in the latch of the doorway into the cell block. Then I put the deputy’s keys back on his desk.
“I’m just too upset to visit today deputy. I’ll come back tomorrow.” I hobbled out of the station.
It was midnight when Jerome knocked softly on the church door. I was packed and ready to go. It’s time someone else was told about Tyson and his martial law in Winchendon.
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” John 13:1-9
Today is the day within Holy Week on which we remember the last supper of Jesus. I can easily find three sermons just in this passage alone and Maundy Thursday takes us all the way through the Olivet Discourse in John 16. This is one of the richest passages in all of Scripture; So I won’t even try in 300 words to take you into the deeps of Maundy Thursday teaching. Allow me to just leave you with a question.
Jesus’ washing of the disciples feet was His act of service to His disciples. Peter wanted to refuse because he thought himself unworthy to receive Jesus’ service. Is there any area in your life where you are not allowing Jesus to come with His power to serve you because you feel you don’t deserve it?
For Solomon had made a brasen scaffold, of five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court: and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven. II Chron. 6:13 KJV
Many years ago I was serving as choir director and youth leader in my grandparents church. A few of us in the choir came to the traditional Federated church from a Pentecostal/ Charismatic background complete with our Pentecostal/ Charismatic worship styles. While for the most part we kept the glossolalia (speaking in tongues) under wraps, some of what we considered the less controversial forms of worship, bled through into our services. This included the raising of hands in worship.
I remember my grandmother complaining about one of the ladies in our choir who would raise her hands in worship. She thought it rather ostentatious. The “hand-raising lady” gave me an opportunity to explain the roots and origins of this worship form to Gramma. Our Scripture today gives me the same opportunity. So let’s have a little pastoral chat shall we?
Why do we raise our hands in worship?
First because the Bible says we should:
Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord
who minister by night in the house of the Lord.
2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
and praise the Lord.
3 May the Lord bless you from Zion,
he who is the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 134 NIV
To you, Lord, I call;
you are my Rock,
do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you remain silent,
I will be like those who go down to the pit.
2 Hear my cry for mercy
as I call to you for help,
as I lift up my hands
toward your Most Holy Place. Psalm 28: 1,2
Raising of the hands is a symbolic gesture of worship, adoration or prayer. It is no different from kneeling in prayer. Lifting your hands is a physical symbol of surrender to a power higher than you (as when a child throws out his arms to his father asking to be picked up and carried) or it is a symbol of celebrating a victory (as when you lift your arms to cheer at the big game because your team has just scored the winning goal).
Raising the hands has a specific purpose in worship (surrender and celebration).All the forms have a specific function. Using the forms correctly is a way to create a deeper worship experience. So this Sunday lift your hands along with your prayer need ( it says the same thing as kneeling down to pray) or if you have something to celebrate lift up your hands as you sing ( it means the same thing as cheering). Hope this helps.
What is your favorite method of worshipping God?
Solomon wrote, Prov. 13:34 (Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin [is] a reproach to any people.) years before the civil war that split his kingdom in two. Yet his words proved to be not only true but prophetic. The Northern half of Solomon’s kingdom continued to call themselves Israel , Prince of God, even as their wickedness led them further and further away from God into a blindness and folly that would become their ultimate undoing. I Kings 16 and 17 mark the ascension of Israel’s most infamous royal family culminating in the rule of King Ahab and his nefarious Queen, Jezebel.
Here is what I see in today’s chapters:
I Kings chapter 16 sermon topics/ titles:
1. Folly Will Take You From Dust To Dogs: I Kings 16: 1-10
2. How To Assure Short-Lived Glory: I Kings 16: 9-20
3. Defiance And Division Bring Only Destruction: I Kings 16: 21-34
I Kings chapter 17 sermon topics/ titles:
1. God’s Roadkill Blessings I Kings 17: 1-7
2. A Banqueting Table In the Presence of Mine Enemies: I Kings 17: 9-16
3. God’s Goodness Challenged: I Kings 17: 17-24
Now tell me what you see! 🙂
Write your own chapter charts post on I Kings 16 and 17 and link back to mine! It’s easy just come up with three life lessons from each chapter and boil them down into topic statements or titles like I have.
This year C.cada (our church artist community) is making an effort to journey out of our four walls into the greater artistic community beyond. This month a number of us chose to attend the GALA Art Show in our neighboring community of Gardner.
Two artists from our church were involved in the show so we went to support them and the GALA (Gardner Area League of Artists) art community.
Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.
The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.
I am sure none of you noticed but I took yesterday off from writing. On Thursday I started my day at 8 A.M. and finished off around 9:30 P.M. with only 1 hour off for lunch and 1 hour for supper. Friday and Saturday were both 8 A.M. to 8 P.M. days and Sunday… well it was a Sunday. Usually when I realize I am coming up on a weekend like this I write myself ahead and just schedule posts, but we lost an office day to winter storm Ukko, so a lot of my writing time ended up under drifts of snow.
I thought I would catch myself up yesterday. Then I opened my queue and realized I had acquired 624 new e-mails over the weekend. I still have five pages to go through but at least I can see the cyber-light of day. So I thought I would stop and write a few quick posts.
The chapter charts are meant to be an interactive Bible study. With each post two chapters of the Bible are read and studied. If you would like to participate here’s how.
1.Read the two chapters being studied.
2. Come up with three truths from each chapter that explain what the chapter meant to you.
3. Distill those three truths down into titles or topics.
4. write those titles or topics (include the verse numbers from which you got the truth) in the comment section below or write your own chapter charts post and link back to my sight.
5. Give the chapter charts a shout out on your blog so that others can join in the fun.
Today we are studying I Kings 14 and 15. Here is what I see:
I Kings chapter 14 sermon topics/ titles:
1. Trying To Trick the Blessing Out Of God: I Kings 14: 1-8
2. When the Good Die Young: I Kings 14: 10-13
3. Playing the World’s Part: I Kings 14: 22-31
I Kings chapter 15 sermon topics/ titles:
1. Where Does Your Blessing Come From? I Kings 15: 1-7
2. Breaking the Generational Curse: I Kings 15: 9-16
3. Where Does Your Curse Come From? I Kings 15: 27-34
Now tell me what you see? 🙂
“Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the
Holy Spirit who lives in us.” 2 Tim. 1:14
It’s the last day of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week! We made it!
As I sought God this morning He sent me off with this warning from 2 Timothy. Every lesson, every experience is an opportunity for increased authority. Not every experience is good but if we love God and follow His purposes for our lives, He will work everything for our good. As we walk with God and as our authority increases we have to be careful not to lose that authority through careless living or careless relationships.
I have learned much on this journey. I know there is an enemy out to steal what I have gained. There is an enemy out to steal what you have gained to. Let’s agree today to guard this grace we have been given.
Praise the LORD, the God of Israel, who made the heavens and the earth! He has
given King David a wise son, gifted with skill and understanding, who will build
a Temple for the LORD and a royal palace for himself. 2 Chron. 2:12
When we look into the night sky it is the glory of the Lord we behold. The majesty of the Grand Canyon, the depth of the sea, the beauty of Earth’s tropical jungles all express the grandeur of God. That God would share this creativity, this beauty with any man in the form of wisdom, skill or understanding is such an awesome thought. But Scripture says it is not just certain special people who He chooses to share His gifts with. The Word tells us that He has shared His creative power with every single believer.
so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to
each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So
if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you Rom. 12:5,6
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use
them well to serve one another I Pet. 4:10
You are gifted with a gift from the Maker of all things. What are you doing with your gift?
We are coming to the wind down of the Lenten fast. Holy week begins in just two days! I am very excited for this set of holidays. I feel like we are launching into a great deep of Holy Spirit power. I sense the lessons of this fast have equipped me for what lies ahead.
Lent Day 29- This day’s questions were: What are three of your core values? Is there any part of your life that is conflict with these values? What can you do about that?
“Core values are traits or qualities that you consider not just worthwhile, they represent an individual’s or organization’s highest priorities, deeply held beliefs, and core, fundamental driving forces. Core values define what your organization believes and how you want your organization resonating with and appealing to employees and the external world.
Core values are also called guiding principles because they form a solid core of who you are, what you believe, and who you are and want to be going forward.” Susan Heathfield
Lent Day 30-
John Maxwell writes, “No matter how hard you try you cannot consistently behave in a way that is inconsistent with how you see yourself.”
Who am I? is the question of the day but maybe that is a little too broad to be answered easily. So let me narrow the parameters for you a bit:
What five words would you use to describe yourself (* you cannot use words that define what you do such as contractor, nurse, or parent)?
Lent Day 31-
Today’s question for meditation concerns integrity. John Maxwell writes, “When values, thoughts, feelings and actions are in alignment, a person becomes focused and his character is strengthened.
Integrity is defined by dictionary. com as-
My biggest takeaway here is from day 30. Who am I? My five words are: Accepted, Able, Creative, Contented, Victorious. This is how the word defines me. It’s not always how I see myself. So I have some work to do to build faith in my identity in Christ.
What’s your biggest take away?