What Was Jesus Thinking?

While reflecting on the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ death, I wondered what was going through His mind.

When accusations flew at Him,
He remained silent.

When mocked and beaten by soldiers,
He remained silent.

When forced to carry His cross, and then enduring the nails, He remained silent.

During all this, what was He thinking? Was He praying? I think so considering the life of prayer He led. I believe in His suffering, His prayers and thoughts were of me—and you. He loved people so much that He willingly went through the humility and agonizing pain of the cross for them, for us.

He took His suffering and undue punishment quietly because He could see the big picture.

When we suffer through hard things, we should remember His love, and we too should think of the big picture. There’s more to come, and what we endure now through the power of the Holy Spirit will be redeemed and rewarded.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17

Light or Dark. It’s Your Choice.

img_2132Light and dark—these are common metaphors for good and evil, and very real in the spiritual world. We have a choice to turn toward light or into the shadows of darkness in any given circumstance. Being aware of this choice and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide every moment is crucial. He desires to walk with us into the light. My daily devotional put it this way, “[He] seeks to guide us into the light with every thought, emotion, action, and decision.”

In even a little thing like a thought, the dark lures us. We must choose to take every thought captive before it manifests into emotion or action, and allow the Holy Spirit’s power to work within us. When we do, we resist the dark. Make wise choices as filtered through James 3:17.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Are your choices:

  • pure?
  • peace-loving?
  • considerate?
  • submissive?
  • full of mercy and good fruit?
  • impartial?
  • sincere?

If so, then they are wise choices.

In the final days before the 2016 presidential election, questions abound. What will our nation look like in the next year? It already feels chaotic and without a moral compass. Can it get worse? My prayer is for hearts to open to God’s love and truth. I pray Ephesians 5:14:

…’Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’

We desperately need the light of Christ to turn back the darkness.

I also pray Matthew 4:16, that before we fall into even greater darkness, the people of our nation will see a great light. On we who dwell in the shadow of death, the greatest light will dawn.

In God We Trust.

God’s Transforming Power: From Pumpkin to Jack-o-Lantern?

If we allow it, God will transform our hearts and lives. We hear analogies of the potter and the clay, sweeping away the dust and dirt, or renovating our hearts, knocking down walls. However, for some reason, I thought of the analogy of transforming a pumpkin to a jack-o-lantern. Of course, most of the time jack-o-lanterns display scary or even grotesque faces. Well, some people do amazing and artistic carvings without the gore and horror. The pretty ones are what I have in mind…

Flowers-3To make a Jack-o-Lantern, slice through the thick outer shell to create an opening to reach the inside. Scoop out the messy goop and slimy seeds, scraping the walls clean. Using a variety of tools, carefully puncture, cut, and scrape out a unique carving. Sometimes it’s tricky and delicate work. Ignite a fire to place inside. The burning light shines through the design into the darkness, lighting the way for others.

pumpkin-carving-ideas-8God uses many means to penetrate our tough exterior. It might be through friends, difficult circumstances, or emotions. Once we let Him in, he begins to clean out the ugliness within us – the things that keep us from enjoying a real relationship with Him. There’s a lot there to do away with, both the big and obvious things and also the small things that stick to the edges. As He works, He begins revealing a beautiful design. The cuts and scrapes might cause pain, but through the process, He forms in us the unique characteristics He intended for us before we were born. His Spirit then ignites within us, guiding our actions, so we live a life of purpose and light.

Photos:
http://www.hudsonvalley.org/events/blaze;  http://www.cathkidston.com/fcs/blog/8-ways-to-carve-your-pumpkin-this-halloween/;  http://www.rugusavay.com/different-pumpkin-carving-ideas/

Film Touches the Heart of Women

Tabeth's church. Pastor is the woman wearing green.Maybe you’ve heard of the Jesus Film and its impact on lives around the world. But, do you know about the Magdalena Movie, which shares the gospel to women in a special way? Born out of the compassion of one South African man, this film reaches into the emptiness of the hearts of women and teaches that they matter to Jesus.

Willie E. and his wife Marie were working in Afghanistan. Willie saw first-hand how the women were ill-treated, worse than dogs. While distributing aid in a room of about twenty burka-clad women, most holding babies, a large bearded man stood at the door with a stick. When the women talked, he beat them over the head with the stick. They cowered. One lady tried to shield with her arm, yet he continued beating her. Willie could feel her pain, even though he couldn’t see her face. After this experience, he told Marie they had to do something to teach these ladies about Jesus. How would they learn? They can’t go out, can’t read, can’t get a Bible, and can’t communicate with strangers. After much prayer, the Magdalena project began in 2002.

One of Tabeth's 10 churches

The Magdalena film depicts biblical accounts of Jesus’ loving, grace-filled interactions with women. One evangelistic strategy trains women to tell these stories orally, so they can share with anyone, anywhere. Marie has been instrumental in these trainings. Storytelling training equips women not to just memorize a story, but to tell it in a way that reflects the women’s personal reactions to the movie and their unique life experiences. After crafting a story, women learn to use it for evangelism. They watch clips on a battery operated projector because many places have no electricity. They discuss the clips, using the movie like a Bible study while learning to tell the stories.

Marie tells of Tabetha session in Madagascar when after crafting two stories, they sent the women out to practice using them to evangelize. The women came back within an hour and had led 72 people to Christ! When the women see this method working, they get excited and want to learn more and more. Another woman from Zimbabwe, Tabeth (at right), learned the storytelling technique and used it to plant ten churches, five of which were planted within a six-month time period. One of these churches appears in the photos above.

God is using this film to show defeated and degraded women their immense value. From the first Afghan version in the Dari language to the subsequent 170 translations, women weep as they watch because they learn the joy of knowing Jesus. Marie says,“In the end, it’s God that gets the glory for everything that gets done, because without him, we could have done nothing.”

*Photos courtesy of Marie E. of Cru.