Easter Teaches Us of New and Better Life

Several years ago, we got word that a lady in our former church had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She had been one of the merriest people I’d ever known. When we went back to that town for a visit, it was hard to see her in the church lobby looking confused and suspicious.

When our former pastor announced he had pancreatic cancer a few years ago, I was stunned that God would take someone in his prime with an active ministry and love for people who was doing so much good. Our pastor admitted he was going to have to take by faith that what God had for him in heaven was going to be so much better, because what he had on earth up til that time was pretty good.

I wondered why God would let one of His beloved children end up in pain or confusion.

But then I remembered this was not their end. Alzheimer’s and cancer were just stopping places in their long journey home. God promised that their sufferings would produce and eternal weight of glory.

 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

We get so caught up in the things we have to and want to do, our families, our ambitions, that we forget this world isn’t all there is.

We look forward to heaven . . . some day. But when we get there, we’ll probably wish we could have come sooner.

C. S. Lewis wrote to a friend of the unpleasant effects of aging: “the growing realisation that there were a great many things one wd. never have time to do,” studies one could never take up, facing retirement and “the infernal nuisance (to put it no higher) of patching up some sort of new life somewhere,” and so on. “I am therefore (with some help from the weather and rheumatism!) trying to profit by this new realisation of my mortality. To begin to die, to loosen a few of the tentacles which the octopus world has fastened on one.” He acknowledged that a good night’s sleep or a pleasant day would likely dispel his gloomy mood. But, he went on to say:

One ought not to need gloomy moments of life for beginning detachment, nor be reentangled by the bright ones. One ought to be able to enjoy the bright ones to the full and at that very moment have the perfect readiness to leave them, confident that what calls one away is better. . . (Letters of C. S. Lewis, October 15, 1949).

It was said of those in the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11 that they desired “a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (verse 16).

I admit I am too caught up in the bright moments of this life. God kindly breaks in and turns my attention up and away to that world to come. “Eternal glories gleam afar . . .”

I’ve found a Friend, O such a friend! All pow’r to Him is given,
To guard me on my onward course, and bring me safe to heaven.
The eternal glories gleam afar, to nerve my faint endeavor;
So now to watch, to work, to war, and then to rest forever.

James G. Small, “I’ve Found a Friend, O Such a Friend

Easter speaks to me of many things—redemption, forgiveness, new life, and more. But this year it reminds me that this world and its pleasures and problems are temporary. We’re going to spend a lot more time in eternity than we did here. Are we ready?

Jesus came to earth as the Son of God, God in flesh. He lived a perfect life in our place because we never could. He died to take on the punishment for our sin so we wouldn’t have to. When we repent of our sin and believe on Him as Lord and Savior, His righteousness goes on our account: God sees Him instead of us.

Forgiveness of sin, His presence, His peace, his help, His grace—and heaven too!

Do you know Him? Are you ready for eternity?

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Hearth and Soul, Scripture and a Snapshot, Senior Salon, Tell His Story, InstaEncouragements, Recharge Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee, Share a Link Wednesday, Heart Encouragement, Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire)

Book Review: The Women of Easter

Women of Easter book The Women of Easter: Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth, and Mary Magdalene by Liz Curtis Higgs, as the title suggests, tells the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection through the eyes of these three Marys.

Liz lays out the narrative in eight chapters. I chose to read one a week most of the weeks leading up to Easter.

We learn about each of the the Marys. Mary of Bethany and the famous incident with her sister, Martha, the death and resurrection of her brother, Lazarus, and her anointing the feet of Jesus with expensive ointment, wiping them with her hair. Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus. Mary Magdalene, out of whom Jesus cast seven demons (Luke 8:2) (and who is never called a harlot or prostitute in the Bible, though movie writers like to depict her that way).

Liz seamlessly weaves their stories in with the last several days Jesus spent on earth, using multitudes of Scripture references in different translations and snippets from commentaries. I can’t imagine all the study she did before writing this book.

Here are just a few quotes:

When Jesus “no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea” (John 11:54) because people were after Him:

Jesus was neither afraid of them nor avoiding them. He was simply acting according to His Father’s will. Whenever my prayers are answered with a firm directive to wait, I remind myself that even Jesus had times of waiting, and more than once He did so in a desolate place.

Of Mary of Bethany’s wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair:

This devout follower, this beloved sister, used her long hair to dry a man’s feet—the “lowest job for the lowliest servant.” … Her perfume wasn’t the only thing she sacrificed. Mary laid her whole being before Him: her pride, her reputation, her social standing, her clean hands, her pure heart. She asked nothing of Him, sought no sign of approval, begged for no favors. Confident of His love and acceptance, she simply gave, expecting nothing in return.

When the disciples (not just Judas) rebuked Mary for her extravagance:

They didn’t just wag their fingers at her. They “scolded” (CEB) and “criticized” (GNT); they “censured and reproved” (AMPC). With no concern for her feelings, “they told the woman what a bad thing she had done” (ERV). Poor Mary of Bethany! To share something holy and then to be treated cruelly, not by strangers, but by those who knew her and claimed to know Christ.

Jesus offered a rebuke of His own, aimed not at Mary but at the disciples. “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. John 12: 7

During the triumphal entry (Palm Sunday):

Worship isn’t a task. Worship is a response.

In preparation for the Passover:

Part of trusting God is letting go of our need to know and refusing to fret over the who, what, when, where, and why. When the time comes, the Lord will inform us, just as He did His disciples.

In a passage about Jesus being beaten:

During Lent it’s tempting to hurry toward Easter morning, eager to declare, “He is risen!” Yes, He certainly is. But reminding ourselves what came before His glorious victory over death is how we remain humbled by His sacrifice and grateful for His mercy. We were “bought at a price.” This was the cost.

On the way to the cross …

Jesus stopped to speak to the women. He sees us, beloved. He values us. He cherishes us. On that day He spoke a word of prophecy to these daughters, preparing them for even harder days to come.

When Jesus was buried:

“The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it.” Luke 23:55. Really, have you ever seen such perseverance? They stayed and they stayed and they stayed. This is one of the most important lessons these women teach us. Wherever He leads, follow Jesus. Whatever pain you are enduring, keep your eyes on Jesus. Even when hope seems gone, stay close to Jesus.

After the resurrection:

Woman. The first word spoken by the risen Christ, meant for all His daughters throughout eternity. Woman. An assurance that we matter to Him, that we count for His kingdom. Woman. A term of respect. The very word He used when addressing His beloved mother from the cross. Woman.

There were just a couple of places where I put a question mark, not sure if her observation or comment was exactly right. But I don’t recall that those points were anything major.

This book was a great way to prepare for Easter week. I’m sure I will use it again in the future. But, of course, it’s good reading year round since Christ’s death and resurrection affect us every day.

(Sharing with InstaEncouragement, Worth Beyond Rubies, Let’s Have Coffee,
Grace and Truth, Global Blogging, Senior Salon, Hearth and Soul, Happy Now,
InstaEncouragement, Carole’s Books You Loved, Booknificent Thursday)

Laudable Linkage

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I used to share good reads found online only a couple of times a month. But I’ve found enough lately to post them every week. Here are the latest:

Easter Week in Real Time, HT to True Woman. A synthesis of the gospel accounts of what happened the week of the crucifixion and resurrection.

Locked Down Alone. Words of advice from those in other countries who went into lockdown due to the virus, especially for those who live alone.

Confined to Quarters. Written two years ago, but timely now. “Most of us in our lives will experience a season of confinement. But God has His way. Confinement may liberate us for service that we otherwise would not do. Or God may place us strategically where a Christian testimony is most needed. Confinement may also simply be God’s way of sanctifying us and weaning us from this world to look with greater longing for our heavenly home.”

Weapons for Fearful Times. “God didn’t leave us without options, weapons if you will. Instead of a fearful spirit, what did he give us?”

Loose Lips Sink Families. “For both men and women, our words have tremendous power. They can motivate others to live more like Christ or be exactly the push they need to make choices that are less than God-honoring.”

Sorting Through Our COVID Anxieties, HT to Challies. “Replace ‘what if’ with ‘even if’ and identify the relevant attributes of God that would be relevant. For example, instead of thinking, ‘What if I lose my job’ replace that with, ‘Even if I lose my job God will still be faithful and has given me a church family to walk through those times.'”

Helping Children with Scary News, HT to Story Warren.

Remember the Grandladies. I loved this!

I Love You from Over Here, HT to Challies. “Maybe instead of just saying ‘we miss you’ we can say to our friends ‘I love you from over here.'” Good suggestions of ways to show love from afar.

I know some of you are fond of castles. Since it would be too expensive to reconstruct the damaged ones, someone has Digitally Reconstructed Medieval Castles to show what they’d look like. HT to Challies.

Perhaps, like me, you are old enough to remember Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean’s beauitful ice dancing routine to Ravel’s Bolero, for which they won a gold medal and broke records in the 1984 Olympics. Or perhaps you’ve seen the video since then. Someone organized a mass reenactment with people from many occupations, ethnicities, shapes, and ages. It’s pretty cool to watch.  HT to The Story Warren.

Sing the Psalms. Like This. This paraphrase of Psalm 46 from Joe Tyrpak and Church Works Media is beautiful, timely, and encouraging. They’re offering it as a free download here.