Saturday, April 25, 2020
Saturday, April 18, 2020
Friday, April 10, 2020
Holidays, particularly religious ones, carry with them a lot of memories that invoke various emotional responses.
Easter reminds me of decorating Easter eggs with my mother using the PAAZ egg dye kit. I remember seeing my grandparents every Easter at their house. We enjoyed egg hunts and Easter baskets. I have very fond church memories from various Easters. I received my first real Bible from my parents one Easter - a bright yellow "Good News" one, which still sits on my shelf today. I was baptized by my pastor on Easter Sunday, 1982. I remember big Easter musicals the weekend of Palm Sunday, singing hymns like Christ the Lord is Risen Today, and always having a new Sunday-best outfit to wear. I especially liked a green sports coat I was given when I was in about the 5th grade. Hamricks was usually the place to shop! Our church had a cross outside each year, and on Easter Sunday we would all bring fresh flowers to fill it up with color! And I recall every year ABC playing Charlton Heston's The Ten Commandments from 7pm-11pm.
My family now has some of our own holiday practices, many of them similar to those of my boyhood. We have never done the Easter Bunny with our children. We weren't terribly opposed to it, but church jobs always required one of us to be out of the house early Sunday morning before children awoke, so we made it our habit to give our children Easter baskets from us on the Saturday before Easter. We chuckled then and still do now thinking about when our then 5-year old came home from church one Easter and said, The children in Sunday School were talking about some bunny coming to their house this morning! What are they talking about?
Easter offers wonderful opportunities, whatever your practices, to talk with your children about the essence of the Christian message - that God loved a sinful world so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we could have a forever-relationship with Him.
Don't underestimate what children can absorb. One of the church-misnomers of our time is how we send middle and high school students to school where they learn algebra, chemistry, history, and foreign languages, yet we bring them to church and think that all we should do is play games with them thinking that they can't yet absorb the great truths of the Bible.
And don't miss opportunities with your own family members and other people in the community to share biblical truths about the gospel message.
The church of my youth never did sunrise services, but we did do Easter musicals. Perhaps my most vivid memory of an Easter season was when I was in the third grade. Our church did a musical called Hosanna the weekend of Palm Sunday. I still have the cassette tape from that performance. My grandparents came to attend with us, and I sat directly next to my grandfather. I will never forget that when they came to the scene where Jesus was dying on the cross, my grandfather began quietly sobbing. Tears streamed down his face. At that moment, in my little nine-year old thinking and feeling, I was deeply struck with the fact that this stuff is real to him. This matters to him. His life has been changed by the cross. He loves and respects God. I remember that moment like it happened last week. And I doubt I will ever forget it.
Don't underestimate how your faith and your love for Jesus, shown in your own unique way, can deeply impact the life of another person - even a child. Thirty years from now they may be remembering you this Easter.
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
At the same time a wide crack appeared in the altar, and the ashes poured out, just as the man of God had predicted in his message from the Lord. 1 Kings 13:5 NLT
One of my best friends from high school used to tell us a funny childhood story. When she was a little girl, she thought her body was incorrectly fashioned. She was afraid she was the only person in the world that had a crack in her bottom! How relieved she was one day to discover that her father, too, shared the same physical quality. She was not alone!
Wide cracks can appear anywhere. In our last house, one slowly grew as the foundation continued settling. Skin can crack when it gets too dry, sidewalks crack when weeds push their way through, and if you crack a peanut, you get a tasty treat. But whatever you do, don’t smoke crack!
In today’s text, God punished the king with a wide crack appearing in the altar. And it was like, snap, crackle, and pop! The Lord had enough. If Jeroboam, who misused the altar, was not going to do things the right way, God would back up His message by splitting the altar and having its ashes pour on the ground. And the Lord’s prophet spoke a strong word, and it was crack-a-lacking good! So, like my friend, we don’t have to be afraid of cracks, unless of course, the altar splits. You can split your pants, just don’t live in a way so God splits the altar.
Picture used by permission from Pixabay.