Listening to Easter: UP!

Hear the bells ringing
They’re singing that you can be born again
Hear the bells ringing
They’re singing Christ is risen from the dead

The angel up on the tombstone
Said He has risen, just as He said
Quickly now, go tell his disciples
That Jesus Christ is no longer dead

Joy to the world, He has risen, hallelujah
He’s risen, hallelujah
He’s risen, hallelujah

Hear the bells ringing
They’re singing that you can be healed right now
Hear the bells ringing, they’re singing
Christ, He will reveal it now

The angels, they all surround us
And they are ministering Jesus’ power
Quickly now, reach out and receive it
For this could be your glorious hour

Joy to the world, He has risen, hallelujah
He’s risen, hallelujah
He’s risen, hallelujah, hallelujah

The angel up on the tombstone
Said He has risen, just as He said
Quickly now, go tell his disciples
That Jesus Christ is no longer dead

Joy to the world, He has risen, hallelujah
He’s risen, hallelujah
He’s risen, hallelujah
Hallelujah
~Keith Green

 

“Let Him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east.”
― Gerard Manley Hopkins

Too often, the bright light of Easter morning dims over time
as we return to our daily routines.
In mere days,
the humdrum replaces the extraordinary,
tragedy overcomes festivity,
darkness overwhelms dawn.

The world encourages this,
we don’t muster enough resistance.
we climb right back into the tomb of our sin,
move the huge stone securely back in place,
and lie there waiting for rot to settle in.

We are not alone. We have plenty of company with us behind the stone.

The stone is pushed aside,
the burden shouldered,
the debt completely paid.

How can we allow the light to dim?

He is risen.

We are eastered beyond imagining.

 

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Listening Through Lent: O Come and Mourn with Me Awhile

I must confess, sometimes I struggle with the Good Friday service and the heaviness of Lenten traditions. Sometimes I wonder why we clothe ourselves in sadness for what happened on the cross when we already know that the story doesn’t end with Friday. We live with feet placed in two worlds, in the frustrating tension that comes with knowing the joyful end of the story, the other part of us still caught waiting in the midst of much ugliness yet to be cleared away. I find this tension to be a bottomless ache; I feel it keenly when I see the brokenness of the natural world around me, be it one of the many injured animals in my neighborhood, or the endless mounds of garbage clogging up the waterways: a cycle that hurts people and creatures over and over again. How our earth aches for all things to be healed from the brokenness brought on by the sin of the first man.

There is only one route that will fully heal our hurting world, and there is only one who can walk it: God, the true first man, the Second and better Adam. And so this hymn walks us to the hill where he died, and invites us to feel the heavy darkness of Good Friday. If anyone knew abuse and injustice, was it not Jesus? If anyone has known the wrenching pain of sin and tasted its consequences, was it not Jesus? He endured silence from heaven as he chose to bear the “guilty” status in our place. He knew the ultimate of loneliness and isolation.

The final lyric of this hymn points to the ending we already know in part and await in full. In the ring: our sin and God’s love, facing off for a final time. But there is no contest—our sin has no endurance for such a cosmic fight. Our sin, though it has crushed us and our world in many ways, cannot stand against Christ. His love for us has overpowered sin. The victory is his, and always will be.
~Breanna Randall
(Yangon, Myanmar)

O come and mourn with me awhile;

O come ye to the Savior’s side

O come, together let us mourn;

Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

 

Seven times He spoke, seven words of love;

And all three hours His silence cried

For mercy on the souls of men;

Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

 

O break, O break, hard heart of mine!

Thy weak self-love and guilty pride

His Pilate and His Judas were:

Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

 

A broken heart, a fount of tears,

Ask, and they will not be denied;

A broken heart love’s cradle is:

Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

 

O love of God! O sin of man!

In this dread act Your strength is tried;

And victory remains with love;

For Thou our Lord, art crucified!

 ~Frederick W. Faber

 

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength,
and honor, and glory, and blessing.
… Blessing and honor, and glory and power,
be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne,
and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
Revelation 5:12-13

Many of you have heard Handel’s Messiah presented live – at least parts of it.  The full work has fifty-two pieces, and takes about two and a half hours to perform.  As glorious and inspiring as it is, let me assure you (as a member of the chorus) it is also exhausting.  Yet, we come to these final words – this big finish – and we give it our all, a sacrifice of praise, because He is worthy.  He needs nothing – He is complete and perfect in Himself.  But this one thing we can give Him – our praise.
~Julie Garrett

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess His name.
Hebrews 13:15

God Is For Us

If God be for us, who can be against us? 
Romans 8: 31
I learned that the word, “If,” in this passage can be translated to “Since.”  What a comforting thought; it’s an assurance of God’s love and protecting care of us.  With the persecution and killing of Christians throughout the world, it is reassuring to know that God is for us. In China, where Christian churches are forced to register with the government (which seeks to monitor what is preached), the church is growing most rapidly.
This verse doesn’t only apply to persecution, it also applies to our struggle with sin.  God graciously gives us his Spirit to work in us. Every day God gives us help in our spiritual struggles.  He has power over the devil, as shown in the book of Job.  Satan had to bow in submission to God. “And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.’ ” Job 2.6
God is for us.
~Hans Tamminga (age 13)

Made Alive By His Love

“Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:55-52

 

In my favorite scene from The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams, the Skin Horse and the Rabbit are lying strewn about after a playful afternoon, having a conversation about nursery magic…

 

                  “What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit… “Does it mean having things buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

                  “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become REAL.”

                  “Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

                  “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are real you don’t mind being hurt.”

                  “Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

                  “It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

 

I know it may seem like little more than a silly children’s story, but to me, this nursery magic feels oddly reminiscent of a deep truth in the Christian life. The Skin Horse is tattered, worn, used up and washed out, but there is no sadness in his condition; he doesn’t mourn for his former glory or angst over his decrepit state. Rather, the Skin Horse has passed beyond such corporeal concerns, to a place where he cannot be harmed or wrecked by anything tangible. He sees with eyes focused beyond the physical, to the heart of a thing, for he has been made Real by love.

 

So too should we train our eyes to the truth beyond the here and now. We will suffer disappointments, hurt, frustration, pain, anguish, anxiety, illness, suffering, and ultimately death, but in light of God’s great love for us, all of these sufferings are powerless. The beatings and blows of this life cannot damage our souls. When we become truly alive in Christ, such that our hearts will His will, there is no sting in death. Christ has conquered the grave, and by his grace and mercy we can rejoice with him in His victory over the death. The closer we walk with Him, the deeper we know that nothing can harm us, for we are His beloved and He is our God. May we learn to become Real by relinquishing the things of this world and grabbing hold of the Kingdom, where we will eternally rejoice in His resurrection and all things shall be made new.

~Norma Hilary Mulhern

First Fruits

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

1 Corinthians 15:20-22 (NIV)

 

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FIRST SUN OF THE DAY!

Contemplate with me if you would please the number of firsts since time began….
I can’t even imagine the number….
the figure is to the moon and back several times of more, I’m sure!

The number of firsts in a day….. 147,000,000 results according to Google

SO….let’s talk about a few  firsts!

…this morning….the first slug of the year!

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….my time in the fire service.

Some big changes and firsts:

Women in the fire service…..it was no longer a MALE clubhouse.

Computers….we could now track everything.

My first Big fire….$10.5 million…..Uniflite boat builders

….my time on the farm.

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We had cows and horses.

So I understand FIRST BORN and FIRST MILK!…. also having an animal die every now and then.

Some  of the biggest joys here on the farm happen in the spring….

The first frogs croaking…normally it happens in February….just before the pussywillows bloom….frogs from all around…. the orchestra and choir of frogs….making music and praise to God!

The barn swallows….this year I saw the first barn swallows on March 22…every year they return plus or minus only a day or two in that range on the calendar.

In the spring all our fruit trees bloom….it’s special….very special and glorious  ….apples….pears….plums…..prunes….cherries… peaches….nectarines…..Asian pears…..I like to rate them as GOOD-BETTER-BEST!

SO……let’s talk about these verses.

In the fall of the year we get fruit…. As the fruit ripens the first fruit ripe is called firstfruit

The fruit is no different in the Bible…..firstfruit.

the Lord came to earth….was born of the virgin Mary …. was tortured …died on the cross….was buried…. The third day he arose from the dead….FIRSTFRUIT ….. he was and is firstfruit!…the first human to die and arise from the dead …. And taken home to be with his father GOD.

By his death he paid for our sins….by asking for forgiveness and believing in him we too can be picked as fruit from the tree of life to be taken home to heaven at the second coming of Christ!

On a daily basis I am grateful to be here on earth sharing time and space with each of you… praying and thanking the Lord for being FIRSTFRUIT for me.

“Be the person God made you to be and you will set the world on fire”

~Harry Rodenberger from 3R Farms

midnight2

Midnight is a great listener, and even the trees in the background
seem to be talking to each other, and are good listeners!

 

We Will See God

I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed
yet in my flesh I will see God.
Job 19: 25-26

 

The word redeemer appears many times in the Old Testament books of Ruth, Isaiah, Psalm, and Job. All of them refer to the Lord our redeemer, except in the book of Ruth. Ruth’s reference is to Boaz.

When studying the book of Ruth under Pastor Bert several years ago, he explained to us the concept of the kinsman redeemer. Kinsman is a male family member. A redeemer is one who purchases – or redeems – another out of slavery. At the time, Boaz was Ruth’s kinsman redeemer. He bought her out of slavery.

Boaz acts as an early and simple example of what our redeemer will do for us. Boaz was the kinsman redeemer for one, Ruth. Christ is the redeemer for all. Boaz made Ruth his wife, just as the church is the bride of Christ. Comparatively, Boaz made very little sacrifice to redeem Ruth. Christ suffered, died, and overcame sin in order to redeem us. Boaz, was the father of Obed, who was the father Jesse, who was the father of David (Ruth 4:21-22). Joseph, father of Jesus, belonged to the house and line of David (Luke 2:4). Boaz has long since passed away. Christ lives. Our Redeemer lives!

He not only lives, but is coming back. “He will stand on earth.”

This is strong language from Job. Jesus had not appeared yet as a baby in a manger or our Savior on the cross. He hadn’t yet appeared to his disciples after his resurrection. However, Job didn’t say, “I hear my redeemer might live,” or “I suspect he’ll stand on the earth.” Job had absolute faith and confidence in God. “I know that my redeemer lives.” “He will stand on earth.”

Job not only had a complete trust in God, he knew that his earthly body was wasting away, just like ours. He knew that earthly relief may not come to him, just like it doesn’t always come to us. He knew that God was his redeemer, though. Job knew that permanent and eternal relief was promised and guaranteed by God. His hope wasn’t in a doctor healing him. He knew his earthly suffering would not end until he saw God. And he knew that God, his redeemer, would walk on the earth.

What’s not part of the Messiah text is the next verse of Job, verse 27: “I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”

Job also knew that he would see God, not as a dream or figment or in some supernatural way, but in reality. He would see God with his eyes, like we see shoes on our feet and a car drive by.

We will see God. After years and years of striving, longing, wondering, and hoping, we will reap our reward. We will see God! It won’t be others telling us their version of a spiritual encounter. It won’t be our sister, saying her friend’s cousin thinks she saw him once on at hike at Mt. Baker. WE WILL SEE GOD!

~Nicole Moore