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jesus_nailed_to_the_cross

Today, thousands of pilgrims are walking the Via Dolorosa.  This is the processional route in the Old City of Jerusalem, that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion.  The path to the cross was difficult and he was weak with suffering.  It is marked by nine Stations of the Cross; with the remaining five stations being inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The week that started with people waving palms and singing as Jesus entered the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem ends in a kangaroo court sending Jesus into Roman hands for crucifixion.  Many want to blame the Pharisees for Jesus dying on the cross.  Others lay the blame on Pontius Pilate for making the final decision.  This perspective forgets Jesus instructing Peter to put his sword away.  Jesus reminds Peter that he could call down 12 legions of angels from heaven to stop his capture.  Instead, Jesus lays his own life down for us.

In his captivity, Jesus is jailed, beaten, spat upon, tortured, marched to Golgotha, and crucified next to criminals.  From the cross, Jesus makes provision for the care of his mother, cries out to God, forgives his killers, and shares with the penitent thief that those who believe in him will have a place in heaven.

When the soldiers confirm that Jesus is dead, his body is taken to a tomb.  It is sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers.  It seems that all is lost.  The disciples are scattered.  The promises of Jesus ring in their ears, but seem to fall silent.  It will take time for all to see, but this will be the weekend that changes the world.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

The Light of the World

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Today is Christmas Eve. Our day is focused on completing tasks, chores, and jobs before families and friends gather together. We are quick to make our homes ready. But there is an older Christian practice of making our hearts ready.

As the world waits to proclaim that Jesus is the Light of the World, let us prepare our hearts to receive the message of Jesus again. Though you have heard the songs and scripture verses before, let the truth and joy of the message change you. Hear the promise of God’s Messiah arriving on earth and let it change you. Imagine a gracious Savior coming to earth for you to be redeemed and let it change you.

Christians are called to be changed people. We are called to live in a way different than the world. But change only comes when we experience Jesus. Those who have experienced Him are no longer the same. We are called to be transformed and to be children of light. People who now live in the love that they have received from Christ. We are called to be this group. One who puts off the old self and puts on the new. A person transformed by the grace of Jesus. Someone who can never be the same because of Jesus.

Precious God, allow us to make our hearts ready. May we hear the message of Christmas and feel the joy and love of Jesus in our hearts. We were once in darkness. Now we live in the light. Allow us to be transformed people who follow after Jesus, the Light of the World.

vet day 18

Hero is a word that our society uses too easily. It is often used to describe sports figures or actors from Hollywood. It should instead be used to describe a person who performed courageous acts. Acts of service. Honorable deeds that inspire us.

I believe that Veterans Day is the best time for us to talk about heroes. The Armed Forces is full of volunteers. Folks who believe in our nation and our ideals. These people are not tricked into military service, they sign up knowing full well what is required of them. Every man and woman takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Every enlistment represents a person willing to sacrifice for the sake of others. Every warrior understands how donning the uniform will require time away from those they love.

This calling is unique. Their service is demanding. These people never waver. This is why we call the American veteran a hero. They represent the best in us and the ardent desire to protect our nation. They are willing to stand and fight for people who cannot fight on their own.  They are willing to go and sacrifice so that others don’t have to.

Pray for our heroes. Remember the service that they give our country. Honor the calling and the path that they have chosen. Remember the families that are separated during times of conflict and strife. They bear the burden of hurt just like the hero who is absent from home.

 

Army birthday

It is humbling to consider that there are people who are willing to serve in uniform. Before there was an America, there was an Army. In 1775, the Continental Congress put out a call to arms. People arose and answered the call. They left factories, fields, and the comforts of life to protect people around them. There was a desire to defend home, neighbors, and eventually a new nation.

That spirit of service is still alive today. It is seen every time a young man or woman raises their hand to take the oath of enlistment. It is seen in the dedication and sacrifice of our Army.  It can be seen here and in foreign lands across the sea.

Today, we celebrate the Army’s birthday. It is not a memorial for those who have gone, but a celebration that there are people who are still willing to answer the call. . . the call of service.

foot washing

Maundy Thursday is celebrated many different ways in the Christian church. Tonight people will gather this evening to remember Jesus going into the Upper Room, washing the feet of His disciples, sharing the Passover feast, and instituting the Lord’s Supper. After singing Psalms and celebrating the faithfulness of God in delivering the Jewish people from bondage, Jesus goes to the Garden of Gethsemane. Here Jesus prays for strength and is arrested as a common criminal. Ultimately, Jesus journeys to the cross. The story of deliverance changes. This time He will deliver the world from sin.

God didn’t just say that He loves you, He demonstrated it. Romans 5:8 shares, “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

As we enter a time of worship this day, do so remembering that we are loved.

Graham

Billy Graham, America’s pastor, died today. He became an ordained minister at the age of 21 in 1939. Across his career, Dr. Graham preached at racially integrated churches in the 1950s and 1960s. He took bold stands for truth and justice. He delivered countless crusades in stadiums across the world to share the message of Jesus Christ.

Billy Graham avoided sexual and financial scandals that ended the ministry of many pastors and televangelists. It is said that he spoke to over 200 million people across the span of his 99 years on earth.

A favorite quote shares that, “It is God’s job to judge, the Spirit’s job to convict, and our job to love.”

May we all strive toward the finish line and be faithful stewards of Christ like the late Dr. Billy Graham.

Celebrate Kansas Day

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January 29th is when we celebrate Kansas Day. It is when the 34th star was added to the American flag. Prior to these actions pioneers were required to blaze a trail across the prairie. Settlers were required to tame the land and make homes among hard conditions.

Soldiers were required to protect wagon trains moving across the prairie. Later, they left these new homes to fight for freedom and equality across our nation.

Due to hardships, difficulties, and harsh conditions Kansas made a people who can face tough times. Kansas continues to make strong people for the challenges of today and tomorrow.

As we focus on Kansas Day let us remember our motto, Ad Astra Per Aspera – to the stars through difficulties.

 

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