Drama

71o0W6ZZf-L._AC_UL436_[1]                                                                                            The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

Most of us like a bit of drama…without it life becomes boring. There is drama all around us, most of which comes in the form of emotional outbursts used to get  our attention. But if you like drama, you will love the real actual drama that took place the night of the last supper. 

Jesus gathered his disciples around Him and instituted a New Covenant.  He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, saying, “This is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” He then took a cup of wine, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood which is shed for you.” Christians around the world continue to repeat this ceremony when they celebrate the Sacrament of Communion. 

Immediately after this, Jesus spoke these shocking words, “My betrayer is with me at the table.” This is drama indeed. One of His twelve disciples, who had walked with Him for three and a half years would betray Him. This is the scene depicted in Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting, “The Last Supper.” The Scripture says, “Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing.” 

Judas Iscariot is the villain in this scene. We know it because we have read the rest of the story. We look down on him and feel self-righteous. Peter also felt self-righteous when Jesus told him that he would be tested. He told Jesus he was ready to go to prison and even die for Him. Jesus told him that he would deny him three times before the cock crowed the next morning.

When we look at this painting or read this story in the gospels, we should not feel so self-righteous. We are all guilty of betraying the Lord and denying Him. Every time we harbor hatred in our heart, we are betraying him and everything He stood for. Every time we choose the world over Christ, we are denying Him. When we examine ourselves, we find that we are guilty, too. We realize how far short we have fallen in following Christ.

You want drama…real drama? We should put ourselves in the scene and realize our own shortcomings. That should engage us emotionally and enhance the drama of the scene that was enacted two thousand years ago. 

The Crux of Christianity

christ-of-saint-john-of-the-cross[1]                                                                                 Painting by Salvador Dali.

Today begins Holy Week, the most sacred week in Christianity, the week that Christians remember the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. So what is Christianity about, what do Christians believe?

1. Christians believe that man is lost in sin. He cannot by his own merits enter heaven when he dies. (For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23)

2. God in his mercy sent his son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us and pay the penalty for our sin. (For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16)

3. That if we come to God and confess our sins, He will forgive them. (If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9)

4. That we must be born again. (Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3)

5. We must ask God for this new life and that He will give us the gift of His Holy Spirit. (And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins ;and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”)

6. It is a free gift for all who will ask Him. (For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9)

This week, especially, we think of Jesus and we meditate on the price He paid for our sins. We are thankful for what He did for us and that is why Friday is called Good Friday; his death on the cross was good for the world. Sunday, the day known as Easter Sunday, is the day He rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples. We can live in victory and hope because of his victory over death, hell and the grave. This is the crux of Christianity.

May you all have a blessed Holy Week!

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

wolf-in-sheeps-clothing-2577813_640Courtesy of SarahPickertArt.

Have you ever seen a wolf in sheep’s clothing? If you have, you know that when you first see one something seems “off,” something is not quite right. Initially it is hard to identify what it is but sooner or later you are able to put your finger on it.

Not a week goes by that we don’t read in the news of a wolf that has taken advantage of a sheep, someone more innocent and unsuspecting than they are. It could be that the wolf is a parent, relative, pastor, priest, teacher, coach or boss. The wolf has one goal in mind and that is to take advantage of an unsuspecting individual.

Young people must be taught to be on the lookout for wolves. Parents must also recognize the signs and signals these wolves give off in order to take advantage of their prey. Here are a few signs that I have seen:

1. Overly Friendly – the wolf is usually overly friendly with the child or teenager. He or she wants to be the young person’s “friend.” It should strike us as odd that an adult would want or need a younger person as a close personal friend.

2. Gift Giving – the wolf will use gifts to lure the young person into their sphere and will continue to lavish gifts on them and their family in order to keep them there. As adults, we must not be taken in by this materialistic hook that is used to hold our children captive in an unhealthy relationship.

3. Flattery – the wolf will use flattery on the adult in order to disarm their sense of danger and allow them to have access to the young person they are interested in.

4. Trips and Travel – the wolf will want to get the young person off away from their parents and will offer to take them on special trips or travel with them to out-of-town destinations in order to be alone with them for several hours or overnight.

Sometimes we don’t recognize the wolf until it is too late and they have damaged our child. We look back and we see the signs and signals that we didn’t pay attention to and we regret that we were not more aware at the time. We may also have turned off our warning system because of one of the ploys the wolf was using to distract us from the natural sense of danger we have when we were around the wolf.

Jesus Himself gave us some good advice regarding wolves in sheep’s clothing. It would be good to listen to it and think about it the next time we are tempted to be seduced by a wolf:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. THEREFORE, BY THEIR FRUITS YOU WILL KNOW THEM.” Matthew 7: 15-20

If we suspect that our children have been seduced by a wolf into an unhealthy relationship, what can we do? The first thing we must do is Talk to our children. We must get them talking and tell us what is really going on in the relationship. We need to provide an atmosphere of safety and security for them to open up and trust us with what is happening to them.

Next we must Pull Back. It is never too late to pull back from this kind of relationship. We must use whatever means necessary to break off the relationship with the wolf. We must hold a hard line and not allow our children to have further contact with the wolf.

Finally, we must Tell Someone. If the wolf has violated our child sexually we must alert the authorities about what has gone on. It will do not good to protect the wolf from the legal consequences of his or her actions. If we do, the wolf will just go off and find another unsuspecting sheep to lure into a relationship with them.

Wolves in sheep’s clothing…they are everywhere. Let’s be on the lookout for them and not allow ourselves or our children to become their next prey. 

Do-Overs

Don’t ya just love do-overs? Do-overs come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Sometimes they involve people, other times they don’t.

chance-3385168_640Image by geralt. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Let’s say we broke one of our favorite items; we don’t know if we will be able to replace it and then…voila! We find it in a second hand store or online somewhere for a great price. We feel like we have been given a second chance at owning that particular item. This kind of a do-over is a gift but doesn’t usually involve another person (unless another person purchases the item for us).

Do-overs that involve others usually have one thing in common. Someone decides to show us mercy. Perhaps it is a spouse or family member we have spoken sharply to. When we apologize, they forgive us, and we are given a second chance at being kind to them that day. This type of do-over is a normal part of life. It happens often and is essential for keeping the relationships we are in healthy. 

What about a do-over that involves a police officer? Many of us have gotten a warning from a police officer when we should have gotten a ticket for speeding. The police officer shows us mercy and we in turn make an honest attempt to drive the speed limit. We are always grateful for this kind of a do-over. We feel we have been spared the punishment we deserve and know we have been spared a fine of several hundred dollars.

How about those do-overs that happened at school? We flunked a test and after we spoke to the teacher, the test was thrown out. We were able to either retake the test or study for another test and prove we could do better.  We know we have been spared a bad grade, one we rightfully deserved, and we have been given a second chance to make a better grade.

Sometimes in life though, there are no chances for a do-over. We made a mistake and we cannot go back and fix it. It is just there in front of us…we got fired from a job…we broke a relationship…we stole something and now we are doing time behind bars. What do we do then and who do we go to? Is there anyone who cares enough to help us in our situation? Will anyone show us mercy?

There is. He is the God of Second Chances and His name is Jesus. He came to earth to help us and give us a second chance at living a full life, wherever we find ourselves. He wants to show us mercy if we will just ask Him. In His wisdom, He knows how to work out even the most difficult of situations. Perhaps we will not get that job back, that partner back, or our freedom back at the moment but He has a way of helping us get our lives back. And isn’t that what we want in our most desperate of moments? We want our lives back and we want a second chance to make things right again.

Are you in one of those desperate situations right now? Then ask. He will be there to show you mercy and meet you right where you are. He can and will give you a do-over..one that will last a lifetime and beyond. 

Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 KJV

Fear, Shame and Remorse – Breaking the Bonds

 

woman in maroon shirt with black chain on her body

Photo by Markus Spiske freeforcommercialuse.net on Pexels.com

Have you ever been held captive by one of the big three…Fear, Shame or Remorse? I spent years in captivity by these three. People can look at us and never see the invisible chains that are holding us back, refusing to allow us to go free. 

I think for me the worst of the three was Fear. I left my ex-husband and took my six week old baby with me. He wanted us back and threatened me. I lived for years with the fear that at any time he would come and take me or my son. Finally, several years later, when he remarried the fear began to subside, but it still wasn’t gone.

If carrying around the chains of Fear wasn’t bad enough, I was also shackled by Shame. I had been raised in a small conservative town and after college moved in with my boyfriend…soon to be husband. It was at a time when that just wasn’t done and gossip flooded the town and I was at the center of the deluge. At the time, it didn’t really bother me, but several years later when I came back with my baby in tow, I felt the scourge of that Shame.

Add Remorse to the equation and you have a girl who was in bondage. I was really sorry for what I had done, but I could not change it. There was no magic time machine that would take me back and undo my bad decisions.

So there I was, full of Fear, Guilt and Shame and there was nothing I could do about it. I did not have the power to break the bonds that were shackling me…and then I met the Bondage Breaker – The one Person, the God-man-Jesus, who sacrificed his life for someone like me; someone broken and held in bondage by her own bad decisions. What a day that was for me. He walked into my invisible prison and unlocked the door and broke the chains that were holding me.

freedom-2053281_1280

It was a great feeling…He had set me free. But was that all that needed to be done? Was there something I was supposed to do? Yes, yes, there was. I had to make the decision to get up and leave the chains behind and walk out of the prison. 

Was it easy? No. Every day I had to choose to believe that I was free and I had to rely on the truths in his word. Truths like…”For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”( 2 Timothy 1:7) when I would start to feel afraid. When Shame started to hem me in, I knew that I needed to focus on “For you will forget the shame of your youth” (Isaiah 54:4).  When Remorse started to overwhelm me, I needed to focus on Romans 8: 28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” I had to believe that I was forgiven and nothing could change God’s love and mercy towards me.

Set free…Yes, by the Bondage Breaker…once and for all. Learning to walk free…that was another matter…step by step, day by day, until I could truly say, “I am free!”  

 

Sharing this again for those that might be struggling with these issues!

An MIT Professor Meets the Author of All Knowledge | Christianity Today — Reasoned Cases for Christ

This repost is a once over lightly testimony from Rosalind Picard, who is the founder and director of the Affective Computing Research Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For some reason a lot of people seem to think that believing in God and believing in the Bible basically means that you must be in […]

via An MIT Professor Meets the Author of All Knowledge | Christianity Today — Reasoned Cases for Christ