The Cost of Bringing Life into the World

When I began my labor to give birth to Hannah, my second child, I confess that I panicked.

At the first pang, my mind went wild. Oh no! Wait a minute! I remember this! This is pain like no other. This is agony. This is hours ahead of loss of control and body-ripping pain! What was I thinking? I can’t do this! I change my mind.

Of course, the only way through that was through it and when I held her in my arms, she was worth every moment. Continue Reading →

Did He or Didn’t He? The Question We ALL Have to Answer.

I once heard a sermon from a minister who was trying to please everyone (never a good idea).

This minister was preaching about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and said “There is some controversy over whether or not Jesus ACTUALLY rose from the dead but in the end, it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that we have ‘resurrection hope’ in our lives, that’s the real message of Easter.”

What? Yeah, I don’t think so. Some helium filled “resurrection hope” balloon is not going to get this soul’s basket too far off the field. I need a real resurrection or I’m not playing.

I was born in the sixties and came up through the expose seventies and eighties. I’ve seen Kool-Aid cults, impeached presidents and Batman without the suit. I don’t follow blindly.

My karate instructor must actually be able to kick butt (He can!). My writing mentor must know how to write (Her Scottish Crown series is amazing). If I marry a guy he’d best be up for “until death do us part” (he is), and if I worship a guy, He’d better be able to walk on water.

So if Jesus didn’t come back from the dead, it all falls apart.

He’s not a good teacher or a wise guide if he said He would rise again and then remained in the ground like every other prophet before him. That makes him deluded or deceitful and, no thank you, I won’t walk the straight and narrow for a crazy man or a liar.

There are many books written by worldly, once skeptical men that explore the facts and the arguments for believing the Bible and its account of Jesus’ life. One that is very readable is “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel who began as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. Buy it. Read it.

But there are two simple defenses for the resurrection that fortify me every time.

First of all, in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, (that’s the whole list of men who begat other men), he makes mention of four women besides Mary, the mother of Jesus: Rahab (a prostitute), Tamar (who pretended to be a prostitute to trick her father-in-law into impregnating her), Ruth (a Moabitess – a non-Jew – a Gentile) and Bathsheba (who committed adultery with King David who subsequently had her Hittite husband, Uriah killed).

Now anyone will tell you, that if you’re making a case that your guy is King of the Jews, you avoid mentioning that his family tree includes hookers, adulterers and Gentiles. It’s certainly not the lead story in your gospel. So Matthew’s genealogy is fairly strong evidence that the disciples didn’t just decide to invent a religion. Before turning apostle, Matthew was a tax collector – that’s a Jew who was in collusion with the Romans. This is guy who understood politics and spin. He’d never start a fake defense of his guy with such scandalous material unless it was the truth.

The disciples themselves are evidence that Jesus’ rose from the dead.

Do you remember these guys in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested? First of all, they couldn’t stay awake with Him and support Him on a night when He was in agony. Second of all, when the law arrived, these guys were out of there – one even ran off without his clothes he was in such a hurry. They had seen Jesus heal people, raise them from the dead, walk on water and turn Dasani into Chianti. And yet, when the soldiers marched in, the disciples scurried out like rats on a sinking ship. End Act I

Fast forward to life after the resurrection.

These same men are out preaching in the streets, taking blows and beatings rather than heeding the warnings to cease and desist and announcing Jesus Christ to Roman Guards and Jewish authorities without fear, without falter, without flinching in the face of certain death. Most of the twelve eventually were martyred themselves rather than renounce Christ (it is believed that John died a natural death in his old age). This is compelling evidence to me that Jesus actually walked out of that tomb alive. Men don’t change.

As comparison, the conspirators in the Watergate scandal fell apart with their stories in little over two weeks of pressure and they didn’t fear for their lives, just their livelihoods, jail time and finances. They turned on each other in a heartbeat and the whole thing unraveled like Grandma’s ball of yarn.

For men to change from ship rats to martyrs there had to be a catalyst – and there was. Jesus was dead on Friday and alive on Sunday. Alone in a tomb, wrapped in grave cloths, under heavy Roman guard, after having been beaten, crucified and speared in the side – he did not “revive” and force a massive piece of granite out of the way and overwhelm men with swords. No one hid his body and decided to start a false religion that would cost them their lives.

Jesus rose from the dead. Every human must deal with this historical fact.

Jesus rose from the dead. You must deal with this fact.

Jesus rose from the dead. I must deal with this fact.

Jesus rose from the dead. This is our only resurrection hope – Jesus rose from the dead.

Don’t worship a guy just because he tells a good story and can do amazing tricks with fish and chips. But if He gets up out of His grave, OK, that’s the power of God.
 
(This is a repost from last Easter because the Truth is unchanged since then! Have a blessed Easter!)

Everything Can Fall Apart Just Like That

Today I’m thinking about how quickly things can come apart, how little it takes to unravel something it took ages to create, how with one little click we can delete the work of a lifetime, how one bad choice can undo the good of many right ones.

I’m thinking about how fragile the cord is that binds me to the place I now live even though it was my home for the first twenty-some years of life and has been again for two. Every day, I drive past the local fire station and my father’s fire chief car is there. One morning last week it wasn’t there and it struck me that there will come a day when it won’t ever be there again and then the fire station – a place I have entered freely as “one of my places” for almost forty-nine years of life will no longer be “one of my places.” Just like that.

And I could envision myself untethered from this place, knowing the only cord left then to bind me to this town will be my mother. A mighty cord, indeed, but when that one has been broken I could float away from here. Like a child’s grasp on a red balloon. Released. Just like that.

And then it won’t matter where I live or where I live will be determined by some other cord, another tie, my husband, my children, my work perhaps.

Over the week-end I read a book by Phil Vischer, creator and founder of VeggieTales. Me, Myself & Bob is the story of how VeggieTales came to be and then how it wasn’t. It’s about how the man who was the founder of Big Idea lost it all in a heartbeat, a breath, a single gasp. Mr. Vischer tells the story as from a distance but he is honest about the pain the loss of his company caused to those who believed in it.

One day, there were creators, animators, artists, businesspeople, sales reps and support staff who believed in a cause, were part of a vital team and felt God had called them to a particular work. The next day, they received pink slips and it was all over. The Big Idea was suddenly just a scrap of paper blowing around the courtyard of the mall while a man in a lawsuit sat on a park bench looking a bit dazed and confused. It was gone. Just like that.

And maybe I’m thinking about all of this because I’ve been reading Mark chapter 14 where Mark captures, better than the other gospels, the breakneck speed at which the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ came to a bone-splintering, blood-spilling halt. Just like that.

One minute, the disciples (a tight committed passionate team) are enjoying the Passover meal with the man they know is the Messiah. They’ve seen miracles, witnessed the growth of the crowds, heard the truth and clung to the promise of the Kingdom come. But suddenly, on this night, Jesus starts talking about betrayal and denial. Then He’s more distraught than they’ve ever seen Him – He can’t sleep and He’s irritated with them because they can. And then men come with swords and one of them is not who they thought he was and it all gets very real very fast and they abandon Jesus so quickly that one of them runs out of the garden naked.

And just like that, Jesus is alone before the authorities. And just like that, Peter denies Him. And just like that, lies and false testimony rule the day. And just like that, an innocent man is condemned to die and there is no one with Him when the guards beat Him and mock Him and spit on Him. At the start of the week, they hailed Him as the coming King and now He is beneath their boots – just like that.

There’s a commercial out now for an insurance company – the slogan is “Life Comes at You Fast.” The intention of the commercial is obviously to play on your fears and insecurities to the point where you will rush to their website and pay whatever they ask for their coverage and the peace of mind their insurance will bring.

It is true that life comes at us fast. It’s true that there is much we cannot control. It’s true that everything can unravel in a moment. It’s true that we need security, peace of mind and coverage but it’s not the kind you can purchase with the click of a mouse. We need something real for when life gets real.

I’ve survived some big things coming undone, some major unraveling. Upheaval in my birth family. The loss of my health. The loss of friends. The destruction of a ministry and then another. Disaster in my husband’s health. Change of jobs. Change of churches. Change of life plans. Change of mind. Unraveled dreams. Disappointments. Broken cords.

There is one scarlet cord that keeps me tethered to the heart that is my eternal home – Jesus Christ.

Nothing will sever that cord. Nothing can unravel that work. No click will undo what He has done in my life. No bad choice will overcome His work within me. No loss will be greater than the gain of knowing Him. I know this by faith and I know it by experience.

Jesus was not defeated when His earthly ministry was broken – in fact – the brokenness was part of the plan.

We can face the brokenness of our lives and know that the same Spirit that was in Him – the same Spirit that restored Him to life, resurrected the Messiah and Coming King – that same Spirit lives and works within us. And one day, the brokenness and the unraveling and the bad choices and the loss and the death will all be over –

Just like that.