Who Will Roll Away the Stone?

I finally made it to the last chapter of the book of Mark. I’ve been reading through it in a prayerful, meditative way known as lectio divina. The day after the crucifixion of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Salome head out to the tomb to annoint His body. On the way there, they begin saying to one another,

“Who will roll away the stone for us at the entrance of the tomb.?” Mark 16:3

This stood out for me for a couple of reasons. Years ago, our pastor preached an Easter sermon around this text. I don’t remember much about that sermon, but the title stuck with me ,probably because it reminds me of myself and my own anxious over- planning — trying to figure out what might happen and how I can deal with it. If I had been one of that group of women, I definitely would be worrying and wondering. That stone was huge and heavy! How on earth would we be able to move it and get on with our task?

Of course, we know the end of the story, and they didn’t have to worry at all. The stone was already removed. They were focusing on a problem that didn’t exist any longer.

Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t plan ahead. What I am saying is that sometimes we get ahead of ourselves and fret about things that haven’t yet happened. Often when we are called to do something for Jesus, we just need to step out in faith and trust Him to roll away the stones we envision standing in our way. I need to remember this — so do you!

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

For more study of the book of Mark see:

A Beautiful Thing

The Lord Has Need of It

And He Said This Plainly

Competing Spectacles by Tony Reinke–Book Review

“…. never satisfied are the eyes of man.”  Proverbs 27:20

Here’s how author Tony Reinke defines spectacle:

“…a moment of time, of varying length, in which collective gaze is fixed on some specific image, event or moment.  A spectacle is something that captures human attention, an instant when our eyes and brains focus and fixate on something projected at us.”

Humankind is always seeking a spectacle.  There were the gladiators of Rome, the Greek games, the Victorian theater, the shows of  military might in modern times.  In today’s world we have raised the spectacle to an art form, one that continually engages our attention by way of readily available technology.  We have turned politics, consumer goods, entertainment, tragedy and even ourselves into a constant stream of images that distract and distance us from what is taking place around us.  We have turned these “spectacles” into modern day idols that have taken the place of God.  For Christians, the true spectacle, the one we should focus our mind and attention upon, is the crucifixion of Christ.  This is not a spectacle we have seen, but a “spectacle of the ears.”  All of the other “competing spectacles” are vain attempts to fill the void within us caused by our hunger for God.

This book addresses so many topics, it’s impossible to cover in one review.  Topics range from Paul’s preaching of Christ crucified in Colossians, to the views of the Puritans on entertainment and theater, to avatars, gaming and our shrinking attention span.  Is the church a spectacle-maker?  To what extent is it okay for Christians to watch films and entertainment that depict sinful activity?  At what point has worship been reduced to entertainment?  Are we using our technology to create an alternate existence, one in which we have perfected the image of ourselves that we want others to see?

The questions are not easily answered.  Reinke says,

“This book is a theology of visual culture, …. It will not help you prioritize your TV options…..It will not help you watch pop films through a gospel lens….Nor will it help you untangle the narrative threads of a thoughtful film…. More intentionally (it) … is a companion for Christians walking through digital detoxes, the now necessary periods of our lives when we voluntarily unplug from pop media, news media, and social media in order to de-screen our eyes and reorder our priorities.”

If you read this book be prepared to think hard about the many spectacles that vie for your attention every day.

VERDICT:  4 Stars.  Good, but dense, and it got a bit repetitive.

If you would like to purchase this book, follow the link below:

https://www.crossway.org/books/competing-spectacles-tpb/

he Lutheran Ladies received a free e-copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR part 255,

For more about the effects of modern technology see these posts:

Modern Parents Vintage Values by Sissy Goff and Melissa Trevathan–Book Review

You Are What You Do by Daniel Im–Book Review

Kids Today

 

 

The Story Isn’t Over ….

I was thinking recently about the fact that many stories in the Bible look pretty grim at some points.  For example:

Naomi’s husband and sons all die, leaving her alone and unprotected.  She returns to her home town, Bethlehem with nobody except her foreign daughter-in-law, Ruth to support her but ….. the story isn’t over yet.

Haman, a cruel advisor, manipulates King Ahasuerus into signing a decree that will lead to the destruction of the Jews.  Queen Esther’s only hope of saving her people is to go unannounced into the King’s presence — an offense punishable by death.  There is no way to know if she will succeed but …. the story isn’t over yet.

The boy, Joseph, annoys his older brothers so badly that they sell him into slavery in Egypt.  Things go well there for a while, until he is accused of rape and thrown into prison for years, but …. the story isn’t over yet.

Jesus is beaten and crucified on the cross.  His disciples scatter and hide in fear, but …. the story isn’t over yet.

God’s Word, the Bible, is full of stories that give hope to the hopeless.  That’s because the plan of God is to use even the bad things in our lives for good:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

The coronavirus has been causing havoc around the world.  People are sick, some have died.  Others are afraid or depressed.  Jobs have been lost and economies damaged.  Shortages and hoarding have become normal.  Things are reopening, but we still don’t know what’s coming next.  We only know that the story isn’t over yet.

Maybe right now things are not looking good for you.  This could be because of the pandemic, or something completely unrelated.  If that’s the case, take heart …. your story, and God’s story aren’t over yet!

 

Son of God — Movie Review

I just finished watching Son of God which was produced by Roma Downey (she also produced the mini-series, The Bible) and Mark Burnett.  This film follows the life of Jesus from His birth through His crucifixion.

I thought the first section, which included many of His miracles, His teaching, and calling the disciples seemed choppy and disjointed.  Many scenes were incomplete and not in the correct sequence.  Of course, one problem is, if you are quite familiar with the Bible, you quickly notice everything that seems different, or not quoted exactly right. Of course, in fairness, it is difficult to boil down several years into an hour.  I understand that, and nothing was misrepresented.

I found the portion from the Passover, including the Last Supper and Crucifixion much better and closer to the Biblical text.  Many of the scenes were moving and realistic (yes, I shed a few tears).  The resurrection and things that took place for the following 40 days, were once again compressed with some things being left out.

The acting was excellent, especially Diogo Morgado as Jesus and Greg Hicks as Pilate.

VERDICT:  I would give it 4 stars.  It would be a good choice to watch during Lent, reminding us of the suffering and sacrifice Christ endured for us.

Were You There?

If you belong to a liturgical church, you’re led through the important days and seasons of the church year with songs that become both familiar and beloved.  It’s Good Friday, so I can’t keep myself from posting this hymn, which my granddaughter says is one of her favorites.  It’s an American spiritual that was first printed in 1899.  It was most likely composed by African-American slaves.  The title is “Were You There?”  Put yourself in the scene of the crucifixion, and meditate on the fact that Christ died for you.

 

Wash One Another’s Feet??

 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.
 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.
 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:12-17
Since today is Maundy Thursday, it seemed like the right time to post about washing one another’s feet. Have you ever, literally, washed someone else’s feet?  Well, if you’re a parent you probably have. I did.   Also, when my mother was elderly, I would go to her house once a week to help her shower, and yes, I would wash her feet.  Washing feet is a humbling job, and one we’re not usually willing to do unless we love someone who cannot take care of that chore themselves.  In Bible times, feet got really dirty (walking on dusty roads in sandals) and foot washing was a job for servants.  Any way you look at it, washing feet is nobody’s favorite task.  It can be messy and unpleasant, something to avoid if possible.
But guess what?  Jesus not only washed the feet of our disciples, he washed our feet!the   Are you asking how?  Well, here’s what happened….
“… being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 4:8
In other words, Jesus chose to do what we could not do for ourselves — He made us clean, or righteous, in the eyes of God.  He couldn’t do this job without getting dirty.  He had to become human.  He had to live with all the aches and pains and sorrows that go with human life.  Then he had to die — and a peaceful death surrounded by friends, either.  He was beaten, tortured, deserted and held up to ridicule.  He died the death of a common criminal.  There’s only one reason why God would do that.  Can you guess?  He loved us!  He loved us that much.  More than we love our children or parents or spouse, when we willingly wash their feet!  Washing our feet cost Him so much more.
If He did this for us, how can we refuse to follow His example and sacrifice for others?  Many times, it just means giving our time, risking some rejection or loss of dignity.  Is this so important when people are dying without knowing Christ?  Shouldn’t we love others enough to wash their feet?

Is it a joke?

It’s April Fool’s Day and I just got back from seeing the movie, Risen.  It makes me think about how for over 2000 years people have been saying the Resurrection is just a joke;  an elaborate trick played on gullible people who didn’t want to believe Jesus had died.

Even today some (even some who call themselves Christian) will tell you that Jesus was a wise teacher, a prophet, maybe even a man specially chosen and touched by God.  However, they just can’t bring themselves to believe he was actually raised from the dead.  Maybe Jesus was taken from the cross before he was dead;  maybe his followers stole the body and started a wild rumor;  maybe the entire life of Jesus as reported in the Bible is just a myth, meant to symbolize certain truths, but not really THE TRUTH.

Here’s what the Apostle Paul had to say about that:

“…if Christ has not been raised then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”  1 Cor. 15:14

In other words, everything hinges on the resurrection.  We need to be able to say on Easter morning, and every morning, “He is risen.  He is risen, indeed.”

He is Risen

The title pretty much sums up what today is.   It isn’t the chocolate bunnies, marshmallow peeps, ham or any of the other rituals we call Easter.  The only additional thing I would like to add is – Thank you Jesus for taking my sins and washing me in your blood to be reborn and clean.

 

Celebrate for He is Risen indeed.

 

GLYASDI

Michele Edgel

The Sacrifice of Separation

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?  Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” Psalm 22:1

At our Good Friday service last night we looked at the bare wood of an altar that had been stripped of all the usual ornamentation, and we heard about the special sacrifice Jesus made for us.  One we don’t think about very often.  When Jesus took the sins of the world upon himself, he was temporarily separated from the Father and the Holy Spirit.  He was stripped of the companionship that He had enjoyed since birth.  He became in one final way like us:  separated from God.  He was utterly alone.

Although I have often heard about the physical sufferings Christ endured on the cross,  I  don’t think I had contemplated this deep emotional pain before.  Think about it.  Even when the earthly friends of Jesus did not understand Him, or deserted Him, He had his union with the other two persons of the trinity to comfort and sustain Him.  Now he lost that, too.

I’ve been married for 44 years, so I have become accustomed to this union with my husband.  When we are separated for just a few days, I feel uncomfortable.  I want to talk with him and I can’t;  I need some help and he is not there;  I long for a hug and he is out of reach.  If my husband were to die, I would experience deep grief and pain. Probably greater than any other pain I can imagine.  Multiply that many, many times and it still doesn’t come close to how Jesus felt. His union was perfect and continual.  Jesus knew this would happen.  He contemplated it in the garden. Yet He still submitted to His Father’s will.  He made this sacrifice for me and for you.  How does this make you feel?  What are you willing to give up for the one who sacrificed so much for you?

“Although He was a son, he learned obedience through what he had suffered.  And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, …” Hebrews 5:8-9″

 

 

 

 

Why

Catchy title isn’t it?  So the question is – Why did Jesus Christ have to die?  I want you to take a minute and get the visual picture of our Lord on a rough, splintered cross; he has been severely beaten, lashed with a whip, and NAILED to a cross.  Do you have the visual yet?  Why? Because we are bad period.  We are full of sin and without the sacrifice of the ONLY totally sin free person to walk the earth we would DIE.  Sounds harsh, doesn’t it.  Well as they say the truth hurts, but thanks to the ETERNAL love of God we have the perfect sacrifice so we have eternal life.  All month we have blogged about sacrifice but today just a few days before the recognition of Christ’s sacrifice (Good Friday), it came to me that I haven’t given the credit to the one responsible for my eternal life in a fitting manner.  So let me delve into this subject a little bit.

The church I attend is currently studying the Book of Romans and recently we reviewed the 5th chapter and the following verse has been following me around all day, I saw it in a devotional I read & heard it on a radio broadcast I was listening to)

 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:6-8

This verse is pretty powerful – He died because we are UNGODLY – it doesn’t say a little bit bad it says UNGODLY.  Wow – if we are honest with ourselves (we rarely are) we would admit that we are totally corrupted by sin.  It affects everything we do, and I mean everything.  I will give you a recent situation that involves me personally:

I wrote an article for our church’s newsletter in January (Posted here as Love Thy Neighbor) and one of my fellow congregants came up to me to tell me that they enjoyed it and it made them think a lot about how they treat others.  I thought – that’s great, what a good thing I did – Oh well it may have been good but now I tainted it with sin – Pride is a sin and I was proud of the reaction I got.

How can we combat this inclination we have?  I don’t know if we can, we are human and unfortunately sin seems to permeate everything we do, if it wasn’t for God’s redeeming grace, I fear that I would get a one way ticket to the great down under.  But fortunately, I thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice, I am headed on a one way ticket to Heaven.  Wow I got a first class ticket to eternal life and I didn’t do anything to deserve it, NOT ONE THING.  How great is the love of our Father.

Not that any of this means we stop doing the good things, just that we understand how even our good is tainted.

Remember that it is by Grace thru Faith for Works that we live.

Thank you Jesus for giving your life for me, a sin infested, ungodly miscreant who did not deserve it.

So I know this blog was a little harsh, but I want YOUR feedback – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Let me know.

Remember God Loves You And So Do I

Michele Edgel