Kindness. My Gift to Christ.

This afternoon I spent some time listening to Christmas music and wrapping Christmas gifts, and this year there were many.

 As I did this almost mindless work, my mind wandered to the journey I have undertaken in my Christian walk.  It has been a long, arduous journey, but I can envision the joy and fruit it has brought to my life.  But what have I ever really done for Christ?  Gifts from Christ keep coming, with every breath I take.  How can I ever repay the treasure I so lovingly enjoy in my daily life?

I thought about the cross.  For too many years I aligned myself with a traditional religion that can hardly wait to get Jesus Christ nailed up on the cross and experience death.  I sadly admit that at one time I relished the thought of the death of my Savior.

 But no more.  We read in Matthew where, on the cross Jesus cries out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”  The English translation of this quote is said to be, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? “

 Well, in the first place, the author of Matthew goes on to say that the people in earshot of Jesus thought that the phrase meant that He was calling out to Elijah.  I can only think of one other instance in the New Testament where translators use a foreign tongue to make a point, and that is where we are to call out to Abba, God, as our Father.  The use by the translators of “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”  Seems a little “fishy.”

Even if the phrase is translated, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me,” who is the word “you” relating to, God, or the people of the Earth who would put God’s Son to death?

 Forsake?  The God I have come to know in my long journey does not forsake anyone, let alone His only true Son, Jesus.  We read in Deuteronomy 31:6, when Moses is speaking to those entrusted to do God’s work, and again in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave nor forsake you.”  Wouldn’t God’s only Son be included in this promise?  Or is the God taught in so many of our brick and mortar churches a hypocrite?  I don’t think so.

Today, as I wrapped gifts and thought about Christ, I pledged to be kind to Jesus.  Let’s not be quick to nail him to the cross!  Let us enjoy the sacrifice Jesus made by coming to Earth to heal us and teach us of our home with God.  My gift is that I am finally satisfied knowing that God loves His people enough not to leave or forsake us.  Have faith!

 Wendy S.


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God Does Not Want Your Bull!

Today I have been studying the Christian Old Testament book of Leviticus. Specifically, I have been studying the laws regarding sacrifice of animals. While reading, I come to the conclusion that there is a missing link. Something that may or may not be implied is implicit in the text.

If I have learned anything during my lifetime, I have learned that there is no “fast answer.” No one is going to “pedal my bike for me.” I stand before God with all my sins and imperfections. It is up to me to repent, to learn from my mistakes, and hopefully clean myself up and make myself presentable before God and the community.

I assert that the animal to be sacrificed was a gift as a pledge to God that the offender would do better. The offender was to take a bull, or a sheep, or a goat that was without blemish to the Lord–something of true earthly value. The offender would offer this perfect specimen to God as a promise and pledge to repent.

The priest would be there to witness the pledge, and, maybe in an Iron Age sort of way, offer encouragement to the person in need of change. This is the only answer regarding the sacrifice of animals that makes any sense to me. God could not eat an animal, nor taste of the aroma of the burnt offering. What God might do is sense the attitude and desire to repent. This may truly have been a sweet aroma to the Lord.

Fast forwarding to the time of Jesus, Our Savior, perhaps the only reason Jesus was willing to endure life on earth and death by crucifixion was to be OUR pledge—in the hope that We would repent and clean ourselves up, making our lives more presentable to God and the community.

In this spirit, the bulls and goats sacrificed during the Iron Age were not wasted. Neither was the sacrifice made by Jesus Himself, coming so long after, and continuing to this very age. Have faith.

Wendy S.

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Disciple Peter’s Sad Legacy

Picture for a moment the Disciple Peter:

– When Jesus asked Peter to follow Him, Peter responded immediately, leaving the familiar life he knew to become a follower of Jesus.

– Peter was a close companion to Jesus, encouraging and supporting Him in His ministry here on Earth.

– Peter defended Jesus at Gethsemane.

– Peter expressed that he was willing to die for Jesus.

– Peter rallied the first Christians on the steps of the Temple after Jesus was crucified, facilitating the spread of the early Church.

– Peter spent a good portion of his adult life spreading the Gospel and encouraging the growth of the Christian movement.

– Peter was imprisoned for Jesus’ sake.

– Peter was crucified, upside down, because he did not deem himself worthy to die as Jesus did.

I assert that on this Earthly plane, in an Earthly, human way, Peter sacrificed as much as Jesus. Peter was humble, devoted and driven toward the goal of teaching the known world about Jesus Christ and His impact.

Yet, in thousands of Christian churches Peter is branded as a coward because he denied knowing Jesus just prior to His crucifixion.

If you read in the Bible the account of the passion of Christ, yes, Peter denied Jesus.

However, I assert that Peter was obeying Jesus’ command to deny Him.

God needed Peter here on Earth following the physical departure of Christ.

Had Peter been crucified along with Jesus, who knows what the state of Christianity would be to this very age?

Also, we would have had two dead heroes. How would this have played out historically through the ages? Something to think about. Have faith.

Wendy S.

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You Were Either a Greaser or a Duper

This afternoon I took a sentimental trip back in time to my old Chicago area high school. In particular, I reminisced about the division of Greasers and Dupers during the turbulent 1960’s.

The Greasers wore the trendiest styles, lots of black and iridescence. The girls teased their hair, and the boys styled their hair with lots of grease. The Dupers, on the other hand, wore lots of denim and plaid, and their hair was as straight as they could get it to go. Back in high school, this was SERIOUS business!

Then, one day the faculty put up signs above all drinking fountains—“Greasers Only.” This ploy was to call attention to the emerging problems with race relations, especially blacks versus whites. There were no black students where I attended high school. This imaginary division was the closest any of us would come to race awareness for a couple more years.

Greasers/Dupers; Blacks/Whites; Christian/Non-Christian. H-m-m-m-m.

When I read about the Sermon on the Mount, I am struck by the fact that everyone was allowed in. There were as many as 5,000 people in attendance. The disciples didn’t card anyone, even when the bread and fish were being distributed. There was no velvet rope. All seemed welcome and all shared in the miraculous feast.

Elsewhere we read where Jesus offered living water to a Samaritan woman, and He healed the daughter of a Canaanite. Just like the bread and fish, there seemed to be plenty of love to go around.

It irks me when I hear someone speak ill of anyone who does not believe exactly as they believe. Some wear the mantle, “Born Again Christian” with superiority airs.

We are all people who came into this world in the same way. Some people are introduced to Christ at a very early age, and some much later on. It does not matter. God is simply waiting, with much patience, to offer His peace.

Christians are the lucky ones on this planet. We have Jesus to look up to as our supreme Role Model and Guide. This does not make any one else inferior to us. God awaits us all.

God is working with each and every human being on our world with His soft, still, beaconing voice. If we hear His voice, we know that we are all the same, under God’s eternal protection. Have faith.

Wendy S.

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Should God Get Voicemail?

I visited a new non-denominational church last Sunday. As we entered, each worshipper took a bulletin that informed us of church activities and the order of worship for the day.

Included in the bulletin was a long list of prayer requests. I counted 28. All prayer requests were on behalf of a loved one, or someone needing spiritual guidance. I read only one request for guidance for the person actually making the request. Virtually none of the requests were asking for material objects, or even for financial help. I feel that the nature of the requests and the abundance spoke of the true nature of the congregation.

As I read the prayer requests, my thoughts drifted to some of my own requests of God. Some of my requests were in the form of actual, word-inspired prayer, and some were prayers of the heart, which literally everyone makes, whether we are conscious of this or not.

God certainly has His work cut out for Him–hearing billions of requests each and every day from the inhabitants of Earth, and perhaps elsewhere in the universe. How does God keep it all straight? Sue is asking for this, and Jack is asking for that, multiplied at least a billion times each day, every hour, every minute, every second.

Yet, we have a personal and caring God who hears each request, and responds according to His will. Those of us who have lived on Earth for some time know that His answer may not be immediate, may be a different answer than we are expecting, and may, and I assert, usually is, indirect.

I also visited this non-denominational church’s Wednesday evening Bible class. Wouldn’t you know it, that evening’s study was about God’s answering prayer. We studied 1 John, 5:14-15. The verses speak for themselves, but I will make it easy and copy the verses here from my Amplified Bible:

“And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us.

And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the request made of Him.”

I have nothing else to add to this beautiful scripture. Have faith.

Wendy S.

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For Our Children’s Children . . .

Most Americans learned in school about Nathan Hale. He is said to have been a spy for George Washington’s Continental Army. Nathan Hale was hanged by the British during the waning days of the Revolutionary War. Nathan Hale is remembered for his famous quote, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” He helped blaze the trail to independence, but was prevented from enjoying the fruits of his labor.

Then, there was Moses. He led our ancestors in Christ out of bondage in Egypt, paving a way to the Promised Land. Moses was prevented from enjoying entry to the Promised Land.

An important aspect of our Christian heritage is Christian martyrdom. From the days of ancient Roman oppression to the modern days of violence against Christians, those who have been willing to stand up for Christ under the most severe conditions have done so with faith–and a hope that those who come after will enjoy a taste of that “Promised Land.”

A few days ago I completed reading the Christian Bible New Testament cover to cover for the fourth time in my lifetime. It has been several years since my last reading, and apparently, I have matured in my Christian walk and in life in general.

The pervasive theme that beaconed to me again and again was the theme of not being satisfied with just the bare knowledge, but how important it is to put my faith to work. That is what the Bible is about. Germinating the seeds that Jesus has sown is our hearts, and patiently experiencing the outpouring of blessings that come as these seeds flourish–truly becoming new creatures in Christ Jesus.

As I have grown in Christ over the years, I hope that I have been an influence on my family, friends and all others with whom I come in contact. I believe I have tried to truly reflect Christ’s mission on Earth.

There is much turmoil in our modern world, everything from terrorism, to earthquakes, to blizzards and floods. But through it all, Christ will prevail. Let us reflect His love and His strength.

The New Testament is not so much about our “behavior,” as it is about the internal growth that can change our behavior, helping to make us true influencers in this world.

We may not fully enjoy this movement toward the “Promised Land” in our own lifetimes, but perhaps, if we have grown and matured in Christ, those around us, and especially those we love will enjoy further progression toward the goal of a Christ-centered world.

Many people working in the mental health field have advised that if an individual is depressed, he ought to try to act like he is not depressed, perhaps learning to discard some of the depression.

It is the same with Christianity. If we currently do not feel the strength of Christ in our lives, perhaps we should act as though we do, teaching ourselves how to connect with God through Christ. (This is not dishonest. Our thoughts and behaviors can have a profound effect on releasing the barriers between ourselves and God.)

Have I been a little preachy? Perhaps, but while I try to avoid preaching, this is what came to mind today, and I figured I would just go ahead with it. Have faith.

Wendy S.

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