Good Friday (which some believe was originally called God Friday) is a day that we are given to reflect on Jesus and His death on the cross. Some folks think this is gruesome and depressing. After all, Jesus was hideously beaten and abused, betrayed and cruelly ridiculed, and put to an ugly death for sins He did not commit. It's not a pretty picture or a lovely thing to think on.
Unless of course, you look at it in a little different light. The light of Jesus. The heart of a Savior who loved us so much that giving His life to bring us into right accord with the Father was worth the pain - the lies told about Him - the ridicule and shame.
Today, you have an opportunity to spend a little time in relection on the love Jesus showed us on the cross. Some folks fast and pray, others meditate on the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) - in particular the seven last statements of Jesus on the cross.
The First Word Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing.
The Second Word I assure you, today you will be with me in Paradise.
The Third Word Dear woman, here is your son.
The Fourth Word My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
The Fifth Word I am thirsty.
The Sixth Word It is finished.
The Seventh Word Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
I hope you'll take the opportunity to get away to a quiet place and spend a little time with God. Remember what was done for you - years and years before you were ever born. Cherish what is yet to come - the empty tomb - the resurrected Lord - the end of suffereing and pain. Rest in the reconcilation that Jesus made possible.
Last week I was at the Women of Faith event in Billings, Montana. It was, as I expected, incredible!
Patsy Claremont was an absolute delight. She had us laughing so hard most of the time that we couldn't help but feel the joy of the Lord.
Andy Andrews also spoke and he was fantastic. He had so many tidbits of wisdom to share and one in particular really touched a nerve.
He said, "Our choices need to reflect what we say our priorities are."
I think a lot of time it's easy to say that God or family or health or "fill-in-the-blank" is our priority and yet our choices often show something else. I know I've been guilty of that and it really caused me to take a hard look at what I say are priorities in my life.
Mandissa's singing was sooooo encouraging and inspiring. She had everyone, even those over 70, on their feet rockin' to the beat. The worship team was fantastic and offered such a wonderful time of praise. Selah gave an exceptional performance and really blessed us offering a mix of the new and old.
Last but not least, Sandi Patty sang for us and encouraged us to sing with her, so now I can say that Sandi Patty and I sang together. When she sang WE SHALL BEHOLD HIM there wasn't a dry eye in the place. I encourage you to take a listen.
To me, it's always amazing that you can find such intimacy with God in an arena of thousands, but that's exactly what we had in Billings last week. I hope you get a chance to attend a Women of Faith conference soon.
By the time you read this, I will be in Billings, Montana attending my fourth or is it fifth? Women of Faith Conference. I love these things. I always enjoying attending with the gals from my church, and I love being in an arena full of women who are seeking to be closer to God. You can check out Women of Faith events at www.womenoffaith.com
This year's line up includes: Patsy Clairmont
and Sandi Patty,
and music from Mandisa and Selah.
There have been some amazing things that have happened to me at Women of Faith. The very first one I attended, was the very first Women of Faith Conference. Surprisingly enough it came to Topeka, KS. Because our church was heavily involved and because I was already writing, I was appointed to be the assistant to Gloria Gaither's trio of friends - one of whom included Sue Buchanan. Sue and I became friends from this setting and over the years I've laughed and cried at the wonderful stories she tells of how God met her in difficult or amusing times.
I attended one Women of Faith conference in Lincoln, NE and from that had an experience that really deepened my walk with God and helped me to get deeper into the Word.
I've attended several in Billings, MT and among those was one that led me to attend a NEW LIFE MINISTRIES weekend in Denver. What a blessing that turned out to be. I was so blessed by listening to Steven Arterburn and highly recommend this retreat if you want to get away and work on personal issues.
At another one of these conferences, I found a real key to problems in my past and it sparked a study that helped me to overcome some painful wounds.
So, when you read this, I know God and I will be working hard together. I'm excited to see what He wants to show me this time. In fact - I can hardly wait!
I've been reading and watching a bunch of different books and movies of late. A few I wanted to recommend.
HEAVEN IS FOR REAL is a book by Todd Burpo
and deals with a 4 year old's experience with a near death experience. It's a quick read that offers a picture of heaven. During the book they mention a wonderful artist Akiane Kramarik. Her portrait of Jesus was painted at the age of eight. I couldn't help but include it here. It absolutely blows my mind that this was painted by an eight year old.
Another great read is Liz Curtis Higgs', MINE IS THE NIGHT.
Set in Scotland, Liz offers a wonderful story of love and faith. Her research in Scotish history is phenomenal and I loved the way she used what she learned to flavor the story. This is a companion book to HERE BURNS MY CANDLE and I highly recommend both.
On the movie front I saw a 2009 movie called AGORA.
This movie is set in 391 A.D. Alexandria and shows some of the interesting conflict between Romans and Greeks, Christians and Jews. It was well done with some gore and a couple of brief nudity shots but nothing too heavy-duty. The movie caused me to take a deeper look at the early church and world history at the time. The historic details seem quite well done and the computer graphics showing ancient Alexandia are amazing.
Lastly, I've started writing a new book and would appreciate prayers. I feel strongly that God has his hand on this project and know that it's important to have the support of prayer warriors.