What is Good Friday?
It is the day Christians remember Christ’s work on the cross.
On Good Friday, Jesus was led to his execution. He was sentenced to a death so horrendous that it was reserved only for non-citizens of the Roman Empire. Not even the worst Roman citizen would have to endure this. And Jesus was sentenced for one reason:
Because he claimed to be God.
He wasn’t killed for being a good person, for being a wise teacher, for hanging out with tax collectors and prostitutes. He was killed because the Jewish leaders of his day found his claims of deity to be blasphemous. They did not believe he was the promised Messiah. And they understood – rightly – that that is exactly who he was saying he was.
But Jesus was the Messiah. He was God in the flesh, come to earth. He lived a sinless life, qualifying him to be the only one who could pay the penalty for our sins.
Sins separate us from God. But God loves us, and he doesn’t want us separated from him. And so he sent his son to die the death that we deserve so we can have eternal life with him.
This Friday is remembered as Good, not just because Jesus paid the penalty we deserve, but because three days later, He rose from the dead – proving once and for all He is God and has power over sin and death. He is the victor. And through Him, we, too, are victorious. In the words of a beautiful old hymn,
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know who hold the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives
Earlier this week, I led a caravan of students from our church to a bible study at the youth pastor’s house. I had five girls in the van with me, and there were three other cars following me.
I’d been to the house before. I thought I remembered how to get there.
I was wrong. I didn’t know where I was going (I rarely do – my sense of direction is almost as bad as my culinary abilities).
So I kept driving. And driving. When I realized I had gone way too far and we finally pulled over, one of the boys following us said, “I knew we passed the street. But I thought maybe you knew another way.”
He shouldn’t have kept following me! He should have pulled beside me and made a “what are you thinking?” face and told me to me stop. But he was raised to respect his elders (a good thing), so he just kept on.
When I finally pulled over, he volunteered to lead the caravan, and within minutes, we were in the front of the youth pastor’s house, laughing at my error.
As I drove away, I thought of how easy is it to follow the wrong leader when it comes to our spiritual lives. We all follow someone. Even people who think they are “doing their own thing” aren’t – their ideas are informed by the ideas/philosophies/teachings of others. As Solomon so wisely said, “There is nothing new under the sun.”
So how do we know which leader is true? As I have said so many times before, I base my beliefs on the Word of God. I believe man’s wisdom, apart from God, will fail us EVERY time. But the Word of God never fails. It has proven itself to be true over the centuries – through scholarly analysis and through the hearts of those changed by its words.
I follow the God of the Bible. I follow Him because He created me, He knows my future, He has plans that I want to follow. He knows the “right way.” And though He clearly states there is One Way, He makes that way available to everyone. We can choose to follow Him, make Him our leader, or we can choose another leader and find ourselves off the path. Lost.
It is our choice.
This week, as we celebrate the death and resurrection of the Savior, I pray you follow Him. Don’t get behind someone who doesn’t know where she is going! Stand behind the one who has known you since before you were born, the one who loves you more than you can possibly imagine.
I recently read that, prior to the 1920s, most women had mirrors that were tarnished. The view they received in those mirrors, then, was fuzzy, imperfect. Like a super-filter on Instagram. All the time.
As mirrors improved, women were shocked at what they saw: blemishes, wrinkles, dark spots, under-eye bags, crow’s feet, red blotches – no more filter.
Beauty products suddenly became a booming business.
As I read this, I thought about these verses…
“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (James 1:23-25)
James says the Word of God is a mirror – a clear mirror that shows us our imperfections. A mirror that, at times, can make us uncomfortable. But a mirror that reflects reality so we can know exactly what needs to be fixed. When we remember that image – those ugly imperfections – we can focus on asking for help to overcome them (info on that in James, too!).
But I think many of us today have the same problem women prior to the 1920s had: we’re not looking in good mirrors. Instead of peering into the Word of God for our “how do I look?” check, we look at other people and other books, even blogs like mine. Nothing is wrong with reading this blog (I’m so glad you do!), but it is meant as an encouragement, not a replacement for time spent in God’s Word. Devotionals are great, Christian books are great, talks with other believers are great, but none of those are as beneficial to your “spiritual beauty” as DAILY time spent in the Word of God.
So maybe it’s time for a mirror check – where are you looking to determine how you truly look? If it’s been a while since you’ve looked in the mirror of God’s word, then open it up, dive back in. Don’t be content with a “filter” on your spiritual mirror.
My daughters were not allowed to play with Barbie’s until they were 4 and 6 years old. I know, I know. But this is what parents do. Especially with the first child. We are deathly afraid of scarring them for life – and we see “scar potential” in everything.
So until the fateful “Barbie ban” was lifted, our daughters – especially Emma (the oldest) – coveted the curvy toy. They played with them in secret when they went to friends’ houses. Emma, on a trip to my grandmother’s, spent an entire day in Barbie heaven when a fellow grandma gave her a huge box-o-Barbie’s to play with.
They would beg and plead for Barbie’s. When we were at Target or Wal-Mart, they would stare at the Barbie displays, longing spilling from every pore. Our friends and family joined them in the cause. How could we deny our daughters this American icon?
So we finally gave in. Emma and Ellie were thrilled. Our family was thrilled. Within weeks, they had a dozen Barbie’s with several changes of clothes, a carriage and horses, accessories, and dresses that matched their favorite Barbie’s. They were thrilled.
For a couple months.
Then they were done.
In a relatively short period of time, the “I can’t live without them” Barbie’s were collecting dust, and the girls had moved on. There were other toys they wanted more, other items they longed for in the toy store. The Barbie’s were fun for a while, but they weren’t as amazing as the girls thought they would be.
Isn’t that how it is, though, in life? The things we are SO sure we can’t live without are really only great when they’re unattainable. We only want what we can’t have.
My daughters did this with Barbie’s. I do this, too. If I could just buy that dress, that house, not have to move, sell more books…I could go on. The elusive “if onlys” can plague all of us.
Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, tells the believers that he has learned the secret to being content whether he has a lot or a little. And he tells us the secret: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)
ALL things. Including living with the fact we can’t get everything we want. Learning to adjust our dreams to fit reality. Letting go of certain dreams because we trust God’s plans are far better than anything we can plan for ourselves.
Some of us are sure if we can just get __________, we’ll be happy. But like my daughters learned with their Barbie’s, happiness cannot be bought. But joy can be given. We can be content with a little or a lot if we learn to focus on the Giver and not the gifts.
Thanks to all of you who entered the giveaway! I truly wish I could give each of you an advanced copy of REVOLUTIONARY. Sadly, I just have one. And that one goes to…
I was so impressed with your tenacity. You really want to read this book. That makes me so happy! And to answer your question – yes, it is hard to keep all those secrets. I’m happy to be able to send the book off and know one more person knows how this series ends
There will be more giveaways closer to the release date (July 15), including a blog tour. I’ll post details about that when it gets closer.
Until then, I’ll keep posting about life, Jesus, and writing – so stick around. I love hearing from you all, and I am SO grateful for you!
I am giving away my last ARC of Revolutionary. There’s just one catch to enter:
You have to have read Anomaly and Luminary. No offense to those who like to wait until all three books are out to read a trilogy, those who don’t have time, or those who just love to enter giveaways, but this giveaway is for those of you who have read the first two books and are dying to know what happens next.
Comment below – you can just leave your name or, if you want, leave a prediction for how you think it should end. Feel free to comment more than once.
The deadline to enter is midnight Wednesday. I’ll announce the winner Thursday morning.
Am I anti-science? Do I think the Christian faith and science cannot coexist? Do I think all scientists are evil?
I’m getting these questions from readers of the Anomaly trilogy because the antagonist is a scientist (though, if you’ve read Luminary, you know there are good-guy scientists as well). The short answer to those questions is “no.” I have a great deal of respect for science and scientists.
I do, however, have a problem with naturalism. And I respectfully, but wholeheartedly, disagree with people whose worldview is based on naturalism, whose science is based on naturalism.
Merriam-Webster defines naturalism as “a theory denying that an event or object has a supernatural significance; specifically : the doctrine that scientific laws are adequate to account for all phenomena.”
The current basis for much scientific thought is firmly based in naturalism. These scientists start with the theory that the universe was created at random, from matter that exploded or melted or was carried in on some other type of matter (where did the initial matter come from?? No one seems to have an answer for that). And from there, life developed very slowly over billions of years with no help whatsoever from any kind of Intelligent Designer. All scientific study, all research, all hypotheses with this idea as its basis is classified as “theory” (see the definition above).
But that is not how those ideas are presented. They are presented as fact. And anyone who suggests they aren’t fact is ridiculed by many within the “scientific” community.
I believe the basis for ALL truth is the Bible. So I believe the origin of all life is revealed in Genesis 1 – I believe that God – who is eternal – created this universe and all others. Some may think that is crazy, that it is just “faith” and faith has no business in scientific discussion. But I would argue that naturalism is also faith-based. Naturalists are believing in an origin they cannot prove, just as they argue we are doing.
The “bad guys” in my books aren’t bad because they are scientists. They are bad because they take naturalism to its logical conclusion – life evolves, the fittest survive, the weak are destroyed, and mankind becomes better as a result. They are simply trying to make the world better. It makes perfect sense, if you really believe what naturalism argues.
But I don’t.
I believe we are all created in the image of a loving, powerful, infinite God. We are surviving not by chance but by divine Choice. I believe the fittest are called to help the weak, not destroy them. I believe Christians must take a stand for the Designer, that we must not allow ourselves to be silenced or marginalized. I believe science is good thing, but naturalism is not. And I believe we need to make sure the former is not confused for the latter.
Emotions can cause all kinds of problems. Especially when those emotions are negative. Negative feelings are often deceptive combinations of fatigue, insecurities, and misunderstandings. But we still have them, still battle them. I don’t think we are ever free from the wars that rage in our minds and hearts. Though we all have different battles, the Enemy’s tactics are the same – bring up old hurts, old angers, past events that we thought we’ve moved beyond but discover bits and pieces of them linger. “Forgive and forget” is possible only for God. Humanity suffers from an abhorrent ability to recall all things negative and, too often, to forget the good.
I know this. Even as a fairly even-tempered person, I have my moments of losing control. Moments of anger or tears or extreme frustration. And I have been around long enough to know those emotions fade. They are replaced by happiness, humor, calm. Emotions are like waves in the ocean, rising and falling, guaranteed to change, but never disappear.
What God reminds me every time I face the emotional waves that threaten to drown me is that I don’t have to go under. I don’t need to let those waves toss me around and beat me up. They can only control me if I give them control. The Psalms teach us that our God is a refuge, an ever-present help in times of trouble. A port in the storm. I can cling to Him when my feelings crash in on me. He doesn’t always lift me out of those waves – Jesus Himself had to suffer through emotions far worse than any I will ever face – but He will provide me with the strength to withstand them. He will help me keep my head above water until the worst of it passes.
Maybe you’re feeling like your drowning right now. First, know you’re not alone. Second, know you don’t have to let those feelings win. Cling to the Rock, seek shelter in His arms. “This, too, shall pass.”
People are messy. I don’t mean unhygienic or leaves-the-dishes-in-the-sink messy (though, yeah, there are those…). I’m talking personal messes, stuff that people do over and over again – hurting our feelings, frustrating us, driving us crazy – messes that we feel like we are constantly walking over or cleaning up or drowning in. Messes that make us wonder if the relationship is even worth all that work, all that clean-up, all that forgiveness.
So how do we deal with the messes people bring?
Before I answer that, let me show you a picture. My son, Thomas (age 10), was told to make his bed. About 30 seconds later, he announced that task was accomplished…
Yep – those lumps are the sheet and two blankets he sleeps under every night (I know we live in Florida, but Thomas can’t sleep without a fan in his face, causing him to freeze, thus requiring four layers). He just threw his comforter over the mess underneath and “done.” Back to the XBox.
My husband called me in to take this picture (“this would make for a great blog post,” he said), and laugh. Were we laughing at Thomas’ laziness or his rush-through-the-chore-so-I-can-play-Madden2013 attitude? No. We laughed because we love Thomas. We know him, we know where his areas of weakness are. We don’t think laziness is funny, and we don’t want Thomas to grow up thinking rushing through chores is acceptable, but even as we train him and teach him and discipline, we love him. He is ours.
But here’s the reality – I HATE that trait in others. When I interact with someone I didn’t give birth to who does this, I get angry! That student who wrote his essay the class before mine instead of taking it home and really working on it?? That is a huge pet peeve. And what about the coworker who leaves it to the rest of us to accomplish a “group” task? Annoying!!
But I am reminded of a couple things. 1) Things that annoy me about others are usually areas of “mess” in my own life: I can be quite lazy if a task doesn’t appeal to me. 2) God is constantly putting up with #1 and forgiving me, training, teaching, and disciplining me, all the while loving me unconditionally.
And God loves EVERYONE like that. Even the student who always procrastinates his work or the coworker who shirks her responsibilities. And what about the REALLY messy people? The ones who say terrible things about us, the ones who hurt us, the ones who hurt those we love? God loves them, too. They are his beloved children. God wants to help clean up their messes as much as he wants to help clean up ours.
So how do we deal with messy people? 1) Recognize we are one of them 2) Recognize God loves them as much as He loves us.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17b-19
“Why are my parents so overprotective?”
Teens I know (my own included) ask this all the time, with a roll of their eyes, arms folded across their chest. They are annoyed, frustrated, feel like their parents don’t trust them.
So why do parents today tend to “overprotect” their kids? Is is because we don’t trust you? We want to make your life miserable? We want to do all we can to make your teen years as dull as possible?
Believe it or not – no. None of the above.
Some of you reading this may babysit. When you do, are you careful with that child? Do you let her run around with scissors or hop up to the stove and fry up a burger? No way! you know you are responsible for her. And you know you won’t get paid – or asked to babysit again – if you’re irresponsible.
That’s how parents feel. But times a thousand. We are responsible before God for you. It’s scary! And we want to do a good job. Sometimes, we get carried away. Sometimes we drive you crazy. But it really is done out of love for you because you are precious and we don’t want anything bad to happen to you.
I know that when you’re a teenager, life sometimes seems to go in slow motion. But for your parents, it is in fast forward. Yesterday, you were a baby. A few hours ago, you were losing your first tooth. We know that, when we blink, you’ll be leaving for college. We want to hold on to you as long as we can because the 18 years we get with you are far too short.
So try to let the overprotectiveness be something that makes you smile instead of something that makes you cringe. We mean well. We really do.