Mar 29, 2016

His Perfect Gift of Love


   Easter is past...and with it all the excitement, celebration, and chocolate bunnies that anyone could ever wish for!

     But I have a question for you.  Did you waste your Easter?  It might seem like an odd thing to ask.  But really, did you celebrate what is truly important on Easter?  Perhaps during all the organized chaos and colorful eggs you lost sight of what really matters.  If that's you, then maybe this will help you get back on track.  Even though Easter is past, you can celebrate the Gift of Easter all year long!
 



     Most people like being popular. Most people like being the center of attention. And most people like when others praise them.  Everyone likes compliments.   It makes us feel good.

     But imagine those very same people. Your peers. Imagine them looking at you in the face.  Imagine them spitting on you. Mocking you. Hating you.

     That is what happened to Jesus. He let them do it to Him. For us.

     As Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time, crowds of people surrounded Him. They were yelling, singing, and praising Him. They exclaimed, “Hosanna!” which means “Glory to God who saves us!” They added, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!” (John 12:13)

     The crowds of celebrators wanted Jesus as their King. They laid down branches to honor Him as such. If He had given the word, hundreds of people would have stormed the city to present Him on the throne of Israel. After all, it was His rightful throne anyway, wasn’t it?

    Imagine how Jesus felt. He ruled the whole earth.  He had created the earth!  This honor must have felt good, after thirty years of living as a regular person, in a human form. Why didn’t He give the word? Why didn’t He let them crown Him King? It was His rightful place.

    Instead, Jesus honored His Father. Days later, the same people who had been singing His name were now hitting Him with sticks. They mocked Him. They spat on His face. They tormented Him. They tore His back open with whips. And they led Him away to face the cruelest death—nailed to a cross.

    I am not going to get into detail. But you probably already know the story. Jesus was hung on a cross, the worst possible death. A death for traitors, murderers, and the likes.  Do you know what Jesus said right before He took His last breath?

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

    Jesus’ heart was so full of tender mercy, that He could look down on His accusers and forgive them. He loved them that much.

    He loved US that much!  Jesus willingly laid down His life obeying His Father's will. He did it for us. He did it because He loved us that much. That love is impossible for us to imagine. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

   That is not exactly what He did for us though. Jesus lay down His life, not for His friends but  for His enemies. He died for those who hated Him. He saved us from an eternal death separated from God.  He could have stopped it.   If you remember, He had complete control over death, even raising someone from the dead! But He didn’t. He died because of Love.

    When was the last time you thanked Jesus for His perfect gift of Love?



How did you celebrate your Easter in a Christ-centered way?  Comment below!
 

Mar 25, 2016

God is _____? Part 3


A follow up to my post God is _____? Part 2


 


   "Love...does not envy..."  1 Corinthians 13:4


   In this series, we have already gone through two descriptions of God.  God is patient.  And God is kind.  But now we come upon something that God is not.  God does not envy.

   I think "envy" is a word that we don't use a lot in the 21st century.  Maybe it would help if you mentally replace it with "God is not jealous".  Jealousy and enviousness are basically the same thing.  They both involve looking at something or someone and wishing that you were more like him/her. 

   According to one dictionary, envy is... a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, etc.

   How much do you struggle with being jealous?  Perhaps you are jealous about someone else's gift.  Perhaps you are jealous about someone else's popularity.  Perhaps you are jealous about someone else's physical beauty.  Whatever it is, it is wrong.  Why?  Because God says so!  (See Mark 7:22, James 3:16, or 1 Peter 2:1)

   There are several notable stories in the Bible about people who were jealous...and how it led to their downfall.  Remember Cain and Abel?  Cain's jealousy led to the murder of his own brother!  Or Rachel and Leah?  Their relationship was destroyed by their jealousy of each other.  Or King David and Bathsheba?  Their son died because of their sin together!

   It's easy to see that bad things happen because of envy in people's lives.  But what causes jealousy?  According to Fran├žois de la Rochefoucauld: "In jealousy there is more self-love than love."  

   Jealousy, or envy, is caused by loving yourself more than others.  By wanting your way.  By wanting your desires above others.

   So how can we get rid of envy in our lives?  I think it's by having the opposite of envy in our life.  What is the opposite?  Contentment.  Peace.  Love.  Generosity.

   Why don't we try (and ask God's help!) to have love for others instead of envy.  When you see someone with something that you wantpopularity, intelligence, material possessions, talentswhy don't you try to replace the envy?  Consider the other person as more important than yourself.  Become a servant like Jesus.  Instead of getting jealous, complement them.  Be glad for them.  Tell them that you admire their talent, gift, etc.  Show Jesus' love!  Get rid of envy and replace it with something worthwhile.  Something that won't tear people down.  Something that can make a difference.


   What are your thoughts about "Love Does Not Envy"?  How can we replace envy with love in our daily lives?  What is the hardest thing for you to not be envious about?  Comment below!

Mar 22, 2016

"Bruchko" review






The Astonishing True Story Of A Nineteen-Year-Old's Capture By The Stone-Age Motilone Indians And The Impact He Had Living Out The Gospel Among Them (International Adventures)

What happens when a nineteen-year-old boy and heads into the jungles to evangelize a murderous tribe of South American Indians? For Bruce Olson it meant capture and torture, but what he discovered revolutionized the world of missions.


My Review:


   Bruchko is the amazing story of how a 19-year-old American gave up his life for Jesus. Bruce Olson left everything--his home, his easy life, his common language--for a mission that changed his life and the lives of others forever. He went into the jungle in places that were "impossible" to survive in. He reached out to South American Indians that killed any white man they met. Olson did the impossible because God was with him.

   Bruce Olson's story is amazing! His dangerous life, his love for Jesus, and his testimony of how he first learned that God was more than religion, is all wound up perfectly in this book! It is a story that shows what happens when God takes the steering wheel of your life. I loved meeting Bobarishora (Bobby) and the other native Indians in this book.

   Though the story is fascinating, the ending is very, very sad. Yet, I loved how Olson glorified God even when everything was falling apart around him.  I would recommend this book to everyone, but I want to warn that there are several parts that are a little gruesome. For instance when he gets wounded by an arrow it goes in depth on the wound and how it got infected.  Other than parts like that, I enjoyed this book and was amazed by Bruchko's faith!


About the Author:




Bruce Olson, born in Minnesota and now a citizen of Colombia, is a linguist and graduate of the University of Caracas, Venezuela. He has won the friendship of four Colombian presidents and appeared before the United Nations. His first book, Bruchko, has sold more than 300,000 copies worldwide. He lives in the jungle on the border of Colombia and Venezuela. 


Have you read Bruchko or any other pieces about life among South American Indians?  Comment below!

Mar 15, 2016

How Vast the Love of God Above


Hello Readers!

Maybe you didn't know this, but I love writing poems!  Sometimes I just feel the urge to sit down and write poetry...

Because I have tried writing several different kinds of poems, I enjoy finding new rhyming patterns to use.  Thus, today I am posting my first attempt at an Ode!  I hope I did it correctly, because it's hard to find the exact pattern.

Here is the rhyming pattern I used, for any eager poets out there:

A B A B C D E C D E






How vast the love of God above
The One who calls the stars by name
That He should look on us with love
As He forgives us from our shame
Not one is free from trespass here
We lie and thieve—brimming with pride
Searching for pleasure far from God
When life goes wrong we hide in fear
Yet He yearns for us—thus He died
He bled for us—we who are flawed

Oh God—the One whom angels bow
Who formed life with a single word
Who taught the cat to say her meow
Who heard the kitten as she purred
The One who set the moon in place
And put the warmth inside the sun
Who gently carved the pure newborn
He molds them perfectly with grace
His gift is free to everyone
The hurt, the lost, and the forlorn

A suckling babe—God sent His Son
He came and lived as we do now
He learned to play, to leap, to run
And felt the sweat upon His brow
Yet in one way, different He stood
He never sinned, had pride or lust
He gave up His blood, pure from guilt
For all of us—not one is good
He rose again, now we must trust
Our lives are His, our freedom built


Are you a poet?  What rhyming schemes do you like to use?  Any poem recommendations?  Comment below!