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Stand and Behold…But Don’t Forget To Look and Listen For the New…Too!

Christ On The Cross by Andrea MategnaPain, sorrow, grief, agony – They are part of life! But what do we do with them? It would seem Easter is the perfect time to contemplate these deep emotions! I know I have! I’ve taken the time to consider how much pain, sorrow, grief, and agony Mary, the mother of Jesus endured as she stood by the cross, looking up at her Son as He was cruelly crucified with stakes driven through His hands and feet after being maliciously mocked and brutally beaten. The pain and agony He experienced is incomprehensible while Mary’s emotions must have been off the charts as well!

Understanding how Mary endured this onslaught of grief might just help us endure whatever circumstances we face today! We CAN and should identify with Mary because we’ve all been given the great capacity to love. In fact, the love of God IN us is limitless because His love FOR us has no limits!

We read in John 19:25-27 “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.”

basketball-courtI can relate in a MUCH smaller degree to Mom Mary. Our son was a talented and successful basketball player in high school and college, entertaining to watch though his opponents didn’t enjoy watching him as much as we did. It was common for them to undercut him when he went high in the air, landing him on his back in excruciating pain. I guess the fouls they accrued were worth it to them.

Every time this happened, I instinctively covered my eyes, bowing over in my own anguish, then looked back to see if he got up. I wanted to save him, protect him; tell him to stop playing, stop jumping; please…make it all STOP! I moved quickly from pain to anger, wanting to hurt the boy who hurt my boy JUST because he was alive and on the basketball court. I wonder if that’s how Mary felt. Please…just let it be over; Stop the madness; Stop the rejection, the humiliation, and the beatings. Stop hurting my Son just because He is alive and on the earth.

Its-OverWhen my son’s final basketball season was over, I felt relief. Sure! I would have enjoyed watching him play forever. He was extraordinary. But I was tired of seeing him get hurt; tired of watching him get treatments on his back so he could get back out on the court only to be hurt again; tired of watching him be strong on the outside when inside he was breaking. I was glad when it was finally over.

I imagine when Jesus’ earthly life came to an end Mary felt relief. Sure, she would have enjoyed watching Him continue His ministry forever. He was extraordinary. But she also must have been tired of seeing Him be rejected, hated, mocked, whipped and beaten; tired of watching Him be strong on the outside while His heart broke inwardly; glad when it was finally over.

Many people came to watch the basketball games to be entertained but honestly, none of them were more invested than the parents and loved ones of those men on the court. Think of the many people who stood by, watching this crucifixion! All of them were inconsequential in comparison to those who loved Jesus and stood by His cross as He hung in pain; His mom, her sister, two other “Mary” friends, and His beloved friend, John who stood close by.

Holding handsThank God Mary had significant, special people to get her through this seeming nightmare. I imagine as she stood by the cross she reached out to her friends; holding on to them for dear life; letting their strength seep into her as they held her up!

When my son would get hurt and there wasn’t anything I could do, I grabbed hold of my husband, daughters, in-laws, or friends nearby. I reached out knowing I could rely on them because they shared similar thoughts and feelings as me. Sure…we all experienced it differently but the love binding us together, love for a son, a grandson, a brother, a friend, or a friend’s son helped me as I stood and watched.

Jesus meets MaryFriends, all of us have times in life when there is nothing we can do but stand by and watch. What DO you do when there is nothing you can do? Let me suggest reaching out to touch someone and let them touch you too! The love and strength of a friend’s touch can be a source of strength coming from our source of strength, Father God. A friend’s touch can seep through our bodies and spirits to bring renewed strength to stand. Touch is something we can all do! AND, there’s something else; eye contact!

Platon-Varquez-Son-Behold-Your-Mother-16x20-Oil-1996While Mary stood by watching, Jesus looked down at her from the cross and their eyes met. Mother and Son! I think if Mary wasn’t already hanging on to her friends for dear life, she did, the moment she made eye contact with her Boy. The helplessness she must have felt at that moment is haunting. Perhaps she was tempted to look away from His pain but she couldn’t. Did she cry, scream, shout, or attack the attackers? Did she plead with the guards to take her Boy off the cross? What message did she convey with her eyes as she gazed into His eyes; the Boy she birthed, nursed, raised, loved, and watched grow to manhood? When their eyes met, what depth of love did they communicate to one another?

One time the athletic trainer called us down from the stands because our son was hurt badly. When I walked into the training room and saw him in the throes of severe pain, my heart broke. When his eyes met mine I saw desperation. He didn’t speak but I imagined only two words…HELP ME! And there I stood…helpless! My touch wouldn’t still the pain…my comfort wouldn’t ease the torment…my prayers though welcomed wouldn’t end the torture he was experiencing…my sympathy was useless…and at that moment…my love felt like nothing for him.

How many of you reading this have beloveds in your life who are in pain; physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual? Your touch doesn’t still their agony. Your comfort doesn’t ease the torment. Your prayers, though welcome, don’t stop the torture. Your sympathy is useless and your love, though deep and passionate does nothing to stop the insanity.

What DO you do when your eyes meet the eyes of loved ones in these situations? What depth of love is communicated as your eyes meet? What DO you do when you can’t help them? When you can’t take away pain from a child, parent, or friend? When there are no words to still the hurt?

6a00d8341fd10e53ef0167636db06c970bI want to do what Mary did…she stood! She watched! She looked into her Son’s eyes. And then…she listened to Him. In the throes of pain and agony Jesus did the unthinkable; He declared a new love relationship! He glanced at John and then at His mom. “He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!'” Jesus He gave His mother a son, and his beloved friend a mother.

Mary and John had a decision to make. They had to take their eyes OFF Jesus and behold one another! Look away from what “was” and look at what now WAS. They looked into each other’s eyes as mother and son! Wow! If I were Mary I might have screamed, “NO, I don’t want John. I want YOU Jesus!” But Mary, in the midst of sorrow, looked into the eyes of her Son; she heard His heart, she heard His words, and then she looked away to behold the new!

Take time today to consider how Jesus gave up His mom to do His Father’s will. He was always thinking of others so He made sure His mom had a son to carry on with. And Mary? She is quite amazing too! She gave up her Son to do her Father’s will. She was also thinking of others so she went home with John to be his mom…AND she let him be her son. Pretty special…Pretty healing!

Whatever you’re facing today…whatever loved ones in your life are facing today… give them up to your heavenly Father to do His will. Know God has a plan and He gives us friends and loved ones to stand with, to touch, to look into each other’s eyes, to behold, and to embrace the new, whatever that might be!

 

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Is it Another Day of Seeing the Same Old, Same Old Or…

downloadA kindergarten teacher was walking around her classroom while her students drew pictures. One little girl was scribbling so intently the teacher asked what she was drawing. The little girl replied, “I’m drawing a picture of Jesus.” The teacher said, “Oh honey, nobody really knows for sure what Jesus looked like.” Without missing a beat, the little girl said, “They will in a minute.”

Today, are you more like the teacher or the little girl? Really…take a moment and think about that question. I think many of us “get old” in our thinking and because we don’t really know for sure what Jesus “looked” like, we don’t give any thought to what He “looks” like. We’d rather stick with the “facts” than search for the “truth”. We’d rather be “real” than let our spirits soar and our imaginations take us to new heights.

1John29That’s what I think about when reading the BIble. Have I gotten old in my thinking and seeing? For example, John 1:29-31, 35-36 “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.” … Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”

How do you read that? As some blasé statement like “Oh, look, there He is, blah, blah, blah!” OR do you read it with excitement and urgency something like this; “LOOK! LOOK! EVERYBODY LOOK! THERE HE IS! THE LAMB OF GOD! He forgives the sins of the WHOLE world! THIS IS THE guy I’ve been talking about! I know! You didn’t understand me when I said He is the One who comes after me but is really ahead of me. I didn’t even KNOW Him until I really saw Him! All this time I’ve been washing away your sins so you can start new with God but NOW… now that I see Him, whoa, I KNOW He’s the ONE! And it gets even better…I saw the Spirit flying down out of the sky like a dove, landing right on Him and then it stayed. God, who commanded me to baptize with water told me when I saw this, I would know! And, I’m here to tell you, now I know because THIS is Him…the Son of God, the real deal!”

imagesIf we hear and read God’s Word like this, I think we, like John would get pretty excited when Jesus comes walking toward us, right into our lives! See, every day, we are given the great privilege of experiencing His presence in a very real and tangible way! But, like John, we’ve got to be busy doing our Father’s work, and then, in child-like faith, we’ll look to see Jesus AND He will show Himself to us! Then something marvelous happens in us because Someone magnificent appears! Our spirits soar and confidence rises! Like the little girl in her quiet confidence we can’t wait to show Him to people so THEY know what He looks like too. Like John in his excitement, we exuberantly exclaim “Look, He’s RIGHT here! The One who takes away sin. Come here! You’ve GOT to meet Him!”

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It is true Christians walk by faith not by sight; it is equally true our faith is not blind faith! Seeing the object of our faith, Jesus, with our spiritual eyes compels us to walk confidently IN faith because we “know that we know” this is the One we know! See…John believed in Jesus before he saw Him with his own eyes! He had faith and it wasn’t blind. It was faith coming from knowing Almighty God. So, when he saw Jesus, his faith soared to a new level!

 

Is your faith soaring today? Have you seen Jesus recently? I’m not talking about near death experiences, visions of heaven or of Jesus as though these “prove” His existence. I’m talking about the ability to see Him spiritually! Do you see Him vividly? Does seeing Him make you feel alive? Is your faith invigorated by seeing Him and you can’t keep Him to yourself?

images (1)Whether your answers are yes, no, sometimes, maybe, I don’t think so, or I don’t know, pick up your Bible today and read John 1 with an open, surrendered heart. Let Holy Spirit show you the One who opens the eyes of the blind and lets us “see” in faith. Then, like the little girl, watch out because you’ll likely exude with confidence knowing people will see the Jesus you see. Excitement will ooze out as you tell people, “Look, here HE is. Jesus! The One who takes away the sins of the whole world.”

Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us eyes to see Your Son, Jesus! Thank You for stirring our hearts today in faith, creating a longing to see our Savior Jesus, remembering He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the whole world! That is more magnificent and humbling than words can express. Thank You for cleaning us up and sending us out. Thank You for giving us new vision with fresh faith each day we live here on earth! May we honor You in everything we see, say and do this day and always. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2014 in Faith & Worship, Uncategorized

 

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The Upper Room…Closings…and Jesus!

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Our home was referred to as a starter home; so with four kids plus other people occasionally living with us we were “cozy”. We often talked about adding a room to the house but it wasn’t until after an auto accident that we finally got serious about it and my husband built a four-season porch. However, it was never really “just” a four season porch – it was our “Upper Room” – a place for me to go and be alone; to pray and heal. It was a place with lots of sunlight and breeze where I could hear God without all the “noise” of this world. As God healed me physically, I also grew spiritually; learning to praise and worship in the midst of suffering and much of my discovery happened in the Upper Room.

It became a favorite place for others as well; the atmosphere catering to great conversation, laughter and enjoyment of life! Thus, besides being the room where I studied the Bible, worshipped, praised, prayed, and poured my heart to God in writing, it began to serve other purposes; family gatherings, women’s bible studies, worship, praise, and prayer meetings, holidays, home school; dining room, playroom, and nap room among them. Though we were smack dab in the middle of the city with neighbors on three sides and the constant rumble of traffic, the Upper Room gave the ambiance of partaking in a small tidbit of country life!

For nearly a decade of the seventeen years we lived in our home, we enjoyed the Upper Room. But the time came for us to move on. To be honest, we never intended to stay so long. We thought it was a transition house of two to three years; just long enough for us to find and afford something in the country. But just like that…seventeen years had come and gone and God said “Now” – move on!

As silly as it might sound, leaving the Upper Room behind and moving on was difficult for me. It was the place God’s presence was tangible and His healing touch concrete! Naturally I “knew” it was just a room; God is present everywhere I go so I knew I was in good hands! But still…the memories, good and bad, seemed to haunt me! I remembered the emotional pain of not being able to help my husband build the Upper Room because I was in too much physical pain. I remembered the intimacy I experienced with God and others in the Upper Room; the healing and deliverance God did in the Upper Room; the laughter and tears collected as family and friends gathered and enjoyed God’s presence in the Upper Room; the peace, the celebrations, and other special times spent in the Upper Room! How could God top that? How could I leave such a special place He created for me? Would I ever have an Upper Room like this again?

The morning we were selling our home, I did one final walk-through before leaving for the closings. The myriad of emotions were incredibly powerful and I welcomed them all. That is, until I reached the entrance to the Upper Room! There I felt paralyzed and unable to go in! For just a split second, the sense of loss was overwhelming! The tears came; I let them! Then I left the house without going into the Upper Room one last time; the same room I had walked into every morning for nearly a decade; the same room where I experienced a splash of freshness every time I entered.

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I cried sweet, cleansing tears as I drove to the closings; a funny, ironic term for selling and buying! The Realty company we were with had a motto they ended all their correspondence with; “Consider it closed”. While driving I thought about this slogan, realizing how true it rang in my spirit. Very soon, the door to the Upper Room on Garner Avenue would be closed to me forever and I could “Consider it closed”! I was also aware of a new door opening on Guarani Street; I just didn’t know if that door opened to another “Upper Room”! The closings went smoothly though I must say it is strange to hand keys to a home you invested so much in to people you just met…AND receive keys in return from people who invested much of their life into their home. One minute we loved and owned a home and the next minute we owned a home we would soon love!

Within hours of closing, all our belongings were unloaded at our new “old” home and thus began a new chapter of life! We moved on a Monday and three days later it was the fourth of July. Family and friends were coming out to celebrate our nation’s independence. It was the perfect opportunity to take a break from unpacking, cleaning, arranging, and rearranging. We had been going non-stop for weeks packing up our home and preparing for our daughter’s wedding (she got married one day before we loaded the trucks and two days before closing).

From the day our offer was accepted on our new home to our actual relocation I had occasional thoughts about where my special place would be in the new house. Would I have an Upper Room or was my old Upper Room a “once in a lifetime” deal? But once I “considered it closed” I determined to stop thinking about the old Upper Room. After all,  mulling it over just kept the door open! So, here I was the morning of the 4th of July, wandering around the house deciding where to sit and write. I settled in the loft where our bedroom “suite” is located! (I’m still in awe we have a suite)! It felt great to sit and write as I was accustomed to doing nearly every morning in our old home!

I was writing about not being in a hurry to discover God’s surprises because then we might miss them, but rather be content to wait and let God reveal them to us in His time! Suddenly Holy Spirit whispered, “Julie, stop and listen!” I did! Then He said, “Look out your window!” I did! Then I heard a favorite song in my mind: “Look out your window, see what you can see; Silence is broken by opening your door. Look out your window, see if you can see; all the wonders of life you’ve never seen before.”

Loft-Windows

When we moved in three days earlier, a friend told me being in the loft was like being in a tree house. When I looked out my window I had to agree with her. I really WAS in a tree house; all I saw was sky and the upper third of trees! But more than that, I heard the effects of the wind blowing through the trees; a beautiful, soothing sound. It was one of those moments when time stands still! Then I heard Holy Spirit say, “This is your new upper room. The old was for healing, restoration, and celebration. This one will be just as special but has new purposes to be unveiled over time.” As I spilled a few tears of joy over experiencing this unexpected visitation, I continued to look, listen, feel, absorb, ponder, and smile at what God was doing!

Now, let me also tell you the “climb” to our master suite is steep! I had just mentioned the day before to my husband how much of a workout I get in each day climbing all the steps. I suspect most people our age are looking to live on one-level yet here we were moving to a three level home; with steep steps no less! The beauty of it was exposed that morning!

To get “high up” takes some effort; it means we need to climb! I now have an “Upper room” in every sense and I know whatever God has in store for us is very good! My earlier questions “How could the Lord ever top what He had given me in the former upper room? How could I leave such a special place He created for me? Would I ever have an Upper Room like this again?” were answered in an instant even though I wasn’t looking for answers.

We read in Luke 22 how Jesus instructed the disciples to go to a large, furnished upper room to prepare for the Passover, ultimately in preparation for His suffering and death! Upper Rooms are places we prepare! They are real and important places available to every person who loves the Lord and is called according to His purposes. (Romans 8:28) Wherever you live I pray you find your Upper Room with Jesus and spend time preparing for true life with Him.

Perhaps today, you need to “consider it closed” when it comes to some things in your life! Just remember; silence is broken by opening new doors! Looking out and up gives a new perspective to see all the wonders we wouldn’t see by always looking inward. Just look out your window and see what you can see (literally and spiritually)! We all see something different because we are all uniquely designed by the Creator of the Universe! (Psalm 139:13) Look out your window and see the wonders of life!

 
 

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