Friday, April 28, 2006

“Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9

In Hebrew the word peace is Shalom. It never means only the absence of trouble; in Hebrew peace always means everything which makes for a man’s highest good.

It is also important to remember that the blessing is upon the peace-makers not necessarily the peace-lovers.

For instance some people will stay out of conflict at all costs even when they know they should stand up for what is right. “The peace which the Bible calls blessed does not come from the evasion of issues; it comes from facing them, dealing with them, and conquering them. What this beatitude demands is not the passive acceptance of things because we are afraid of the trouble of doing anything about them, but the active facing of things, and the making of peace, even when the way to peace is through struggle.” William Barclay

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3

Thursday, April 27, 2006

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." Matthew 5:7

All through the New Testament teachings we see that to be forgiven we must forgive others. And as we look at this verse we could think that we have grasped the whole meaning of this beatitude. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe that it is important for us to be forgiving towards others, because God is serious when He talks about it.

I think to better understand we need to go back to the original language. The word for mercy is “Chesedh”. It means the ability to get right inside the other person’s skin until we can see things with their eyes, think things with their mind, and feel things with their feelings.

This is much more than feeling sorry for someone. I have often thought the greatest gift you can give someone is to try to understand them and than to accept them as they are. This is difficult because we often judge people by how we would handle situations. We measure everyone by our standards and that is not fair, they will never measure up.

Have you ever been judged by someone and you know that they find you lacking? I will never forget when I was on my internship the Pastor told me He was going to a workshop on how to work with difficult people. He showed me the literature and I was excited because I saw that it was learning to work with different personalities. I knew in my heart that we were very different in how we handled things and I often felt judged and condemned because I was not like him. I wanted to be the person that God created me to be. After years of struggling with being shy and finally figuring out who I was in Christ, I was beginning to feel content.

The Pastor came back from his workshop and had me take this test to discover my personality type. I was the exact opposite of him. Again, I thought finally we can learn how to work together. My eagerness in feeling that I would finally be understood were crushed and demolished in a matter of minutes. He took every single one of my traits and told me why I was not going to be a good church worker. I was devastated. He was supposed to be my teacher and he took this opportunity and destroyed it.

It took me a longtime to get over what happened that day but through God’s love and mercy and the love of my family and friends, I was once again okay with who I was in Jesus. And because of God grace and love, I was able to forgive my Pastor.

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not hall have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all of the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to us.” Romans 12:3-6

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

“Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

If we look to the Aramaic language, the word poor, refers to “ptochos” which describes absolute poverty. The person has nothing; no influence, no power, no earthly resources to depend on.

There are many ways to look at this verse; but I think it means that we need to realize on our own we are helpless. We need to put our whole trust in God, there is nothing else. We realize that God alone can fill all of our needs, and we become less attached to the material things, because they can be taken way. God will never leave us or forsake us; He is always right beside us. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

When I was on my Internship many years ago, I had just returned home from a youth gathering. I had only been at my church for about a month. When I got to my apartment there was a note for me to call my Pastor right away. I thought that was a bit unusual, but I called anyways and he was not at home. So I decided to call my Mom and Dad to tell them about my first big youth event. My sister answered the phone and immediately I knew that something was wrong. My eyes welled up with tears because I knew that my sister was supposed to be away at camp. Something was terribly wrong for her to be at home. I asked what was going on and she soon realized that I had not talked to my Pastor. I was almost hysterical because in my heart I knew something wasn’t right and I was afraid of what I might hear. My fears were confirmed as my sister shared with me that our best friend’s Dad had been killed in a plane accident. We had spent many fun-filled hours with our friend’s family and we loved being around her Dad. I was in shock and I was all alone in my apartment and in a place where I hardly knew anyone. The Pastor knocked on my door as I was on the phone and I told my family that I would call them back after I talked to him. He was very kind but he really did not know me that well and he certainly did not know my friend’s family.

I was distraught and so I proceeded to call family and friends, until I knew that I would not be able to afford my phone bill. This was long before cell-phones and free minutes. My heart was filled with grief and an anxiousness that would not go away. I finally cried myself to sleep.

I awoke at 3:00 a.m. and I had never felt so alone. I knew that I could call home if I had too but the reality of the cost and knowing that I could not constantly be on the phone sunk in. I knelt beside my bed and I cried out in anguish to God. I asked Him to fill me with His peace. I felt His presence and I began to read my Bible. Suddenly, I knew that I wasn’t really alone, that God had been there all along waiting for me to give my burden to Him. I discovered Psalm 62:1 that night, “My soul finds rest in God alone.”

God blesses us with the precious gift of our family and friends. But the truth, my friends, is that we can only find our peace in Him. I pray that you will find rest and peace in our Savior’s loving arms.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I’m going to spend some time on the beatitudes which are found in the 5th Chapter of Matthew. Before we look at the beatitudes it is important to understand the language, (Aramaic, which is the kind of Hebrew people spoke in that time) it says things differently than the English translation. In the English we start each of the Beatitudes with “Blessed are….” In Aramaic it starts “Oh the blessedness of…..”

“That is most important, for it means that the beatitudes are not hopes of what will be; they are not the foretelling of some future bliss; they are congratulations on what is. The blessedness which belongs to the Christian is not a blessedness which is postponed to some future world of glory; it is a blessedness which exists here and now. It is not something into which the Christian will enter; it is something into which they have entered.” William Barclay

The word blessed which is used in each of the beatitudes, is the Greek word Makarios. In Christianity it means a “godlike joy.” It is the joy that cannot be taken away even during our times of deepest sorrow, pain, or the most difficult and challenging times in our life. It comes from God and can only be found in Him. It is that peace that surpasses our human understanding, and it is what helps us to stand against the adversities of life. Nothing can take this joy away from us because it is God that gives it to us, even in our darkest of hours it is still there. “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope; Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, the Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.” Lamentations: 19 – 24.

As many of you know I have started sharing my writings through this blog. My focus is to encourage people in their faith walk by sharing the peace that I have found in God’s word. I will do this by sharing stories and studying scripture with those who come to visit “Ripples of Peace.” My hope is to write devotionals and magazine articles that will eventually be published. I am waiting on God to open the doors for me. If I am able to have thing published than my hope is to someday write a book. I’m also hoping to start a speaking and teaching ministry if God opens the right doors for me. I don’t ever want this to be about me, but about what God had done for me and the people that I know. I want God to be glorified in all that I say and write.

Your comments and feedback are very valuable to me and so I encourage you to let me know what you think. I’m open to all suggestions on how I can improve and serve the Lord through what I do.

Please feel free to share “Ripples of Peace” with your family and friends, if it is something that you think they might enjoy.

In His service,

Monday, April 24, 2006

On Saturday night I was having a difficult time falling asleep and just as I was starting to drift off to sleep, my cell phone started to ring. I had been thinking about a dear friend of mine who is dying from cancer. It was my friend; and she had called to say good-bye because it appeared that the end was drawing near. Her voice was weak and filled with exhaustion and the weariness that come from battling a debilitating disease. I told her that I loved her and that God did too.

The sorrow in my heart filled my eyes with unrestrained tears and I mourned for my friend and my soul was filled with grief because she will leave behind her precious son.

My friend knows God and I know that she will soon be resting in her Savior’s arms. It is comforting to know that and I know that God will fill those who mourn with His peace and hope.

The scripture that comes to mind: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 In the Greek the word that is used for “mourn” it is the strongest word used for mourning. It is the word used for mourning for the dead, or one who is lamenting over a lost love.

When things are going well in our life we can live on the surface and glide along. But when sorrow comes into our life it brings us to the deep thing is life, what really matters. It puts life into perspective to show us what is most important.

In closing there is a little verse that I would like to share; I have yet to discover the author of these words of wisdom.

“I walked a mile with Pleasure,
She chattered all the way,
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she,
But, oh, the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me!”
On Saturday night I was having a difficult time falling asleep and just as I was starting to drift off to sleep, my cell phone started to ring. I had been thinking about a dear friend of mine who is dying from cancer. It was my friend; and she had called to say good-bye because it appeared that the end was drawing near. Her voice was weak and filled with exhaustion and the weariness that come from battling a debilitating disease. I told her that I loved her and that God did too.

The sorrow in my heart filled my eyes with unrestrained tears and I mourned for my friend and my soul was filled with grief because she will leave behind her precious son.

My friend knows God and I know that she will soon be resting in her Savior’s arms. It is comforting to know that and I know that God will fill those who mourn with His peace and hope.

The scripture that comes to mind: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 In the Greek the word that is used for “mourn” it is the strongest word used for mourning. It is the word used for mourning for the dead, or one who is lamenting over a lost love.

When things are going well in our life we can live on the surface and glide along. But when sorrow comes into our life it brings us to the deep thing is life, what really matters. It puts life into perspective to show us what is most important.

In closing there is a little verse that I would like to share; I have yet to discover the author of these words of wisdom.

“I walked a mile with Pleasure,
She chattered all the way,
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she,
But, oh, the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me!”

Saturday, April 22, 2006

I thought I would let you know t hat I will be posting on my blog Monday - Fridays for now. Have a blessed week-end; I will look forward to sharing a writing with you on Monday!


Friday, April 21, 2006

"Building Character"

I woke up one morning for an early morning Bible Study that met at a restaurant at 6:30 a.m. My mind was still foggy from sleep and I was having problems focusing my eyes. The thought of sleeping for another two hours was a temptation to me and I gave in as I laid my head back down on the pillow. All of sudden I was not feeling quite so sleepy. A thought kept running through my mind, you will miss the message that God has for you this morning. I was going through an extremely difficult time in my life and I knew that I needed to hear God’s word of encouragement.

We were studying the book of James and we focused on this verse for most of the study:
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12

We also focused on Romans 5:2-5, “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”

At that moment in my life I was involved in a situation that was spinning out of control. I don’t feel that it would be appropriate for me to share all of details because of the other people involved. It was related to my job and I was blindsided by what happened. The circumstances were grievous and unreasonable. I was wounded emotionally and spiritually.

That morning I needed to hear God tell me that He would help me through this time in my life and even at that point, I could see God’s grace through the emotional pain that engulfed me.

I found hope that morning as God embraced me and empowered me to meet each challenge as it arose.

As I look back I now realize how God used this painful time in my life to help me grow in my faith and to build my character. What happened all of those years ago has helped to mold me into the person that I am today.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

"Pure Joy"

There once was a woman who was out shopping and she ran into a good friend of hers at the grocery store. Her friend inquired, “How are you doing today?” The woman replied gloomily, “I’m okay, under the circumstances.” Her friend with a gentle smile asked, “What are you doing under there?”

I share this story not to make light of the heartaches and challenges that we face from time to time. But to take a serious look at how do we handle the hard things of life. I don’t know about you but there are some days where I would love to shut the whole world out and just go back to bed. Of course when you have two little boys, life does not slow down or stop because you have a difficult day.

Whenever I face trials or tribulations I remember the verses that I studied in James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

At first glance you wonder what does James mean by “pure joy”, how can anyone have that when they have a troubled heart?

I think we often confuse joy and happiness with each other. Happiness is dependent upon the circumstances in my life and how I respond to whether they are good or bad. Happiness is a feeling. Joy is a sense of well-being, it is the condition my heart and soul; that comes only from knowing Jesus as my friend and my savior. When my Grandmother died I experienced the kind of pain where it hurts to breathe because my heart was heavy with grief. But at the same time I experienced joy because I knew that my Grandma was now resting in the arms of Jesus.

Perseverance means to go through the severe things of life. We can go through those things with joy in our heart because we know that Jesus walks with us. We are never alone in our sorrows, He is right there holding our hand and bringing peace to our wounded hearts and souls.
Breakfast with Jesus
In John 21 we read about the third time Jesus appears to the disciples. I find it interesting that they were out fishing. Why would they go out and fish? Were they still wondering about whether Jesus would want to be around them again?

I’m going to tell the story in my own words and add some comments as I go along. It was early in the morning and they had been out fishing all-night and their lack of success was obvious by the way their nets hung limp against the boat. Jesus was walking along the shore and the disciples did not realize it was him at this point. He calls out to them asking them if they have any fish. They tell him that they do not and he encourages them to try the other side of the boat. They cast their nets to the other side of the boat and suddenly their nets are straining with fish, so much so that they cannot haul the net into the boat.

Suddenly John realizes that it is the Lord. Did his memory bring him back to the first time they had met Jesus and how their nets had been filled with an overabundance of fish. Peter in all of his enthusiasm jumps out of the boat so he can swim to shore to be with his Savior and Friend. They were only about a 100 yards away from shore and yet Peter could not wait!

The disciples come to shore towing their fish and as they come they notice a fire of burning coals there with fish and bread on it. Can you smell the “fragrance of grace” in the air? Jesus tells the disciples to come and have breakfast and He serves them.

Once again Jesus shows them grace, love, acceptance, and He takes care of them.

Someday we will stand before our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I don’t know about you but I have a lot of sin in my life. I know that my sins nailed Jesus to the cross. And I know that when I see my Lord face-to-face, I will feel a joy beyond my understanding. But at the same time I will remember my sins as well and remember the price that Jesus paid. Sometimes I think we sit in to harsh of judgment on the disciples and how they acted the night Jesus was betrayed. The cold hard truth, my friends, is that we are no different than them.

When the time comes for us to stand before our Savior, and we look into His eyes, they will be filled with an unconditional love that will move us to tears. We will know that all has been forgiven; Jesus does not keep a record of our sins. They have been removed as far as the east is from the west. Jesus will look at you and at me, and I believe He will say, “Come and have breakfast.” Can’t you just smell the “Fragrance of Grace?”

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you!’ As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”
John 20: 19-23

What do you think the disciples were thinking about as they sat together in a locked room? They were afraid of the Jewish authorities because they had been accused of stealing the body of Jesus to make it look like He has risen from the dead. They had heard from Mary that she had seen Jesus, but yet they had not seen Him.

Do you think they were wondering if their teacher and friend would even want to see them? Do you think they were remembering how they had run away when Jesus was arrested? I can imagine that each one of them were lost in their own personal thoughts about what they did and did not do. I’m sure that their thoughts were heavy with remorse and that a deep sorrow pierced their hearts in a way that they could not begin to understand or explain.

Suddenly, Jesus appears… He does not give them a long lecture or a long list of their grievances against Him. Instead He speaks words of healing to them; Peace be with you. Instantly their hearts which were troubled are now filled with joy. They were in the presence of their Lord and Savior.

Where do we go when our hearts are troubled? Jesus is right there offering you the same peace that he offered the disciples. Find comfort in His word, that is His love letter written to you. Find rest as you pour out your heart to Him in prayer. In Him you will find a peace that is beyond our human understanding.

Monday, April 17, 2006

We have special people in our lives that help to mold and fashion us into the person that God created us to be. I have been blessed to have many such people in my life but I would like to share with you about my Grandma.

A Mother’s love is sent from God above. What do you do when your heart has broken, and your dreams have shattered? Many people give up and choose a path of destruction. That was not the case of my Grandmother. Her husband left her and their young children to fend for themselves. It was during a time when divorce was not the norm, and people would whisper about families who had suffered from divorce… like they had a black mark against them.

Grandma chose to raise her children to work hard and to never give up. They survived on little and how they managed to stretch the meager dollars that my Grandma earned is a miracle from God that is for sure.

Grandma also chose to forgive her husband and to not be bitter. She chose the higher path, the road less traveled. Forgiveness is never easy, especially when you have been hurt so deeply. God gave her a forgiving heart and helped her to press on. A Mother’s love raised two wonderful children, who went on to marry and have children of their own.

A Mother’s love brought Grandma to different family gatherings in which we would have to be in the same room with the man who betrayed and hurt her so deeply. She was kind and because we were so young we did not understand how much that meant to our own Mother. How easy it would have been to stay away or to say angry and bitter things. Our family gatherings were peaceful; we were able to experience the love from both of our Grandparents.

My Grandma had a difficult life but she brought joy to many people. She did not dwell on the things that she could not change. My Grandma could not change what Grandpa did to their family. She realized she could make the best of a difficult situation. She did not want her children or her grandchildren to feel like they had to choose between the two of them.

I learned a lot about forgiveness from my Grandma and the way she lived her life. As I have gotten older I have realized that one of the greatest gifts that I can give my children to is live in peace with family and friends. Life is too precious to spend it living with bitterness.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Alleluia! Christ has Risen! He has Risen Indeed! The tomb is empty! Despite the plans of men, God did not fail; Jesus rose victoriously from the grave! Our lives have changed forever.

One of my favorite Easter memories is from the first Easter I spent in Peoria. Because I was involved in the worship service I was part of the processional. The processional Cross was covered with a black hood and the cross on the altar was covered in black as well from the “Good Friday” service. As we started to walk into the sanctuary you could hear the brass boldly and triumphantly playing and as we proceeded down the aisle the black was removed from both of the crosses. It was a representation of the veil of sin and death being removed forever. Jesus had gone to the Father on our behalf and now we too could come before God. It was one of those holy and sacred moments that I will remember forever.

A little later on in the service we were singing “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” and we were singing the fourth verse, “He lives, my kind, wise, heavenly friend; He lives and loves me to the end; He lives, and while He lives, I’ll sing; He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King!” At that moment I looked up at the beautiful statue they have of Jesus on the altar- and for the very first time I noticed the nail scars on His hands. I could not finish the rest of the hymn because I was so overwhelmed with emotion. Jesus, the King of all creation, died for my sins. I put those nail scars on His hands. I knew that I had been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus, even though I did nothing to deserve it. I couldn’t sing the words with my mouth, but I was singing them in my heart.

Can you imagine the joy that Mary felt on that first Easter morning when Jesus first said her name? That Joy is ours because Jesus is calling us by name. He is saying, “(your name) come and walk with me. I have won the victory over sin, death, and the devil for you; your life will never be the same. You will never have to be separated from your heavenly Father; I have made that sacrifice on your behalf. Come and discover all that I have to offer you, come and rest in the Joy, Hope, Love, and Peace that you can only find through me.”

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Alleluia! Christ has Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

As I was reading this passage, I was once again amazed by these verses: “On the next day, which is the day after the Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came to Pilate in a body. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that, while He was still alive, that deceiver (Jesus) said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Give orders, therefore, that the tomb should be kept secure until the three days are ended, in case His disciples come and steal him and say to the people, ‘He has been raised from among the dead.’ If that happens, the final deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said, “Take a guard, and make it secure as you can.” They went and secured the tomb by setting a seal upon it as well as placing a guard.” Matthew 27:62-66

The irony of all of this is that the Pharisees, who had so many times accused Jesus of breaking the Jewish law, of nothing is to be done on the Sabbath. They themselves, in an effort to make sure that Jesus’ body could never be removed from His tomb, broke one of their sacred laws. This only goes to show the lengths they were willing to take to make sure that Jesus would not cause anymore problems for them.

I wonder: Do you think they were remembering how Jesus had raised people from the dead? Do you think they were maybe a little fearful after they had heard Jesus’ final cry on the cross? Do you suppose this was their feeble human attempt to stop God from fulfilling His plan?

We know the ending of this beloved story. We know that there is not a tomb in the world that could hold the risen, victorious Christ. Their scheming and planning could not hold Him in the grave. We know that anybody who seeks to put limits on Jesus Christ is on a hopeless mission.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Today we remember that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Sometimes I think we say that phrase without remembering what it really means. The word crucifixion comes from the word “excruciating.” To be crucified is the most horrific and painful death a person can suffer. We can only begin to imagine the physical pain that Jesus suffered. Jesus also suffered spiritually and emotionally in a way that we never will. When He cried out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” it was because at that moment, Jesus was separated from God. Now how could Jesus, who is also God, be separated from God? That has always been a great mystery – even to the greatest of theologians... He, who was without sin, became sin for us all and suffered separation from God. That is the only way we could be saved. Jesus knew what would happen and yet the night before He told His Father, “Not my will, but your will.” Our sins nailed Him to the cross, but His amazing love for you and for me held Him there.

If we would have been standing there that day we would have also heard Jesus say, “It is finished.” Jesus did not only say this, He shouted it out. “It is finished,” is three words in English; but in Greek it is one “Tetelestai” as it would be in Aramaic. And “Tetelestai” is the victor’s shout; it is the cry of a person who has won through the struggle; it is the cry of a person who has come out of the dark into the glory of light, and who has grasped the crown. So, then, Jesus died a victor with a shout of triumph on His lips.

“Here is the precious thing. Jesus passed through the uttermost abyss, and then the light broke. If we, too, cling to God even there seems to be no God, desperately and invincibly clutching the remnants of our faith, quite certainly the dawn will break and we will win through. The victor is the person who refuses to believe that God has forgotten them, even when every fiber of their being feels they are forsaken. The victor is the person who will never lot go of their faith, even when they feel that its last grounds are gone. The victor is the person who has been beaten to the depths and still hold on to God, for that is what Jesus did.” (William Barclay)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed Him. On reaching the place, He said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’ He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When He rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, He found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. ‘Why are you sleeping?’ He asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.’” Luke 22:39-46

Did you notice in the beginning of this scripture passage that it says, “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives?” I was curious about that and so I looked at my footnotes and it said to look at Luke 21:37 “Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple and each evening He went out to spend the night on the Mount of Olives.” Every night starting with the Triumphal Entry to the night in which Jesus was betrayed, He went out to pray.

Jesus was preparing Himself for the “Battle of all- time” that would change history and our lives forever. He made himself ready by praying and spending time with His Father. Jesus knew what He had to do and He was struggling with it and so He would pour out His heart to His Father.

We cannot even begin to imagine what Jesus went through that night, but I would venture to guess that we have all wrestled in understanding God’s will for our lives. Have you ever struggled with something until you are completely worn out? My husband and I right after we were married had to make one of the most difficult decisions we have ever made. We decided to leave the church where I was serving as Minister of Youth and Christian Education, and where my husband had served as a volunteer in their youth ministry programs for over 13 years. We had just celebrated our wedding their a few short weeks before that time. Our hearts broke into a million pieces and we felt like part of us had died. At that time there was not another choice for us, we had tried everything that we knew how to do in order to stay. Even though we were stricken with grief and overwhelming sorrow we felt a peace with our decision because we knew that was what God wanted us to do at that time. Since then, God has brought us back home, and we have felt great joy in seeing how God’s hand was at work the whole time for us.

Jesus knew what God’s will was and how it had to be fulfilled so that we could be saved from our Sins. God sent an angel to minister to Him to give Him strength, so that He could do what would need to be done.
On this Maundy Thursday, my prayer for each of you is that you would always come before God with your joys and your sorrows. He wants to carry your burdens for you; you are not alone in your struggles. May you find the peace, joy, hope, and love that can only come from knowing our Redeemer, Savior, and friend, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

In the book of John there are words of great encouragement that Jesus gives to the disciples because He is preparing them for what is going to come. One of my favorites is from 15th chapter of John: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his masters business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command; Love each other.”

“Love each other” Easy to say but really hard too do. Jesus is not talking about those that we love easily like our family and friends. Jesus is talking about those who are hard for us to love. Maybe someone has gossiped about you and told stories untrue. It might be that person who is always difficult to be around the negativity seems to ooze from their pores. It just might be someone who you feel that you can never measure up too; you can never do anything right in their eyes. For some it might be parents who have hurt them and broke their tender hearts so long ago. The pain is real and it runs so deep.

Why is it so hard to love these people? I think it is because if we love someone we have to forgive them and many of us do not want too. I think sometimes we have the wrong ideas about forgiveness. If you forgive someone it doesn’t mean that what they did is now okay. What they have done to you is now being released into Gods’ hands for Him to take care of. God requires us to forgive, so that we can be forgiven.

Forgiveness is not based upon our feelings, we may feel the hurt and pain for many years, but we can forgive because it is an act of our will.

We are never alone in our forgiveness, Jesus is right there beside us giving the strength to forgive, even if the one we are forgiving doesn’t care or want our forgiveness.Forgiveness frees us up to live and love as God created us to do.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

“It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who where in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His Love.
“The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father has put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him…….
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, you 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. I tell you the truth, 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: 1-5, 12-17
Jesus the King of the Universe and God the Son does the unthinkable. He washes the smelly and dusty feet of His disciples. This was a task that was reserved for the lowliest of slaves and yet He does it out of love for His disciples and for us.
If you have ever gone through the “Crossways” Bible study there is a saying that humbles me each time I hear it. “My King does feet.”

Jesus knew that Judas would betray,
My King does feet.
Jesus knew that Peter would deny,
My King does feet.
Jesus knew that for the sins of the world He must die,
My King does feet.
Pilate washes His hands, to rid himself from guilt
My King does feet.
Jesus is beaten tell His flesh is peeled away,
My King does feet.
A crown of thorns is all he gets,
My King does feet.
Jesus is beaten, stripped, kicked, and spit upon. He Forgives.
My King does feet.
Jesus it hurts to forgive, they’ve betrayed and broken my trust,
My King does feet.
My Child forgive as I have forgiven and died for you.
My King does feet.
I hang my head in shame, I too have denied and betrayed.
My King does feet.
I look into His gentle eyes and I see amazing grace and love divine.
My King does feet.
Jesus is calling you and me to serve Him, and do feet.

Monday, April 10, 2006

About 10 years ago at a Good Friday service we had the opportunity to come forward at our church and pound a nail into a huge wooden cross. As we were pounding the nail, we were to say, “Jesus, it was my sins that nailed you to the cross.”

This was a new experience for all of us and many of us needed a little time to think about it. We didn’t want to be the only one going up to the front of the church. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed our Pastor’s son moving towards the cross. He was in a wheelchair and when he got close enough he came down out of his wheel chair and crawled to the cross. I held my breathe in anticipation as I watched him get ready to pound his nail into the cross. As he raised the hammer and struck the first blow, it was a horrible sound that echoed through the sanctuary and pierced my heart. I felt distraught as the realization came home to me in a profound and meaningful way. My sins had nailed Jesus to the cross.

My eyes became filled with tears as I hung my head in shame. I thought about how I didn’t know if I wanted to be the only one up there and yet I knew that if I was the only one on earth, Jesus would have died for my sins. I got up from my seat and walked to the front of the church. I could hardly see as the tears filled up my eyes and spilled down my cheeks. I didn’t care at that moment if anyone saw me; this was a sacred moment between my Savior and me. I stooped down to pick up the hammer and the nail; I could barely say the words because my throat was tight with grief. I didn’t want to pound that nail into the cross because I didn’t want to admit that my sins had nailed Jesus to the cross.

I rose up and I somehow managed to walk back to my seat. I felt a sorrow so great that my heart hurt as it hung heavy with grief. I couldn’t help but think of the words from the hymn Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted:
“Ye who think of sin but lightly
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the Sacrifice appointed,
See who bears the awful load;
'Tis the Word, the Lord's Anointed,
Son of Man and Son of God.”

As I sat there in the silence and thinking about my sins, my heart began to fill with peace. I knew that Jesus loved me and had forgiven me. The fourth verse of the hymn brought even more comfort to me.
“Here we have a firm foundation,
Here the refuge of the lost;
Christ's the Rock of our salvation,
His the name of which we boast.
Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on him their hope have built.”

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy week. “The disciples went out and did what Jesus had instructed of them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna, in the highest!’” Matthew 21:6-9
Have you ever wondered as to what the word “Hosanna” means? It is a shout of fervent and worshipful praise. It is a cry of praise or adoration to God. When they say Hosanna in the highest, it means let all who are in heave praise you as well.
How could the very voices that are now raised in praise and adoration, become filled with hatred and cruelty on Friday when they shout “Crucify him”.
At the very same time that Jesus is making His triumphal entry into Jerusalem the Passover lambs were coming in through the sheep gate of the city. It is also interesting to note that all of the Passover lambs were born and raised in Bethlehem. The Lambs were being led into the city for the Passover Sacrifice. The “Lamb of God”, the perfect one was also being led in to Jerusalem and He would make the ultimate and final sacrifice for our sins.
As we begin this Holy week, let us walk with Jesus the lonely road to Calvary. As we walk we will remember our Savior’s love for each one of us.
My Dad is a very simple and humble man. In the eyes of the world I’m sure that he would be considered ordinary. In the eyes of his family he is extraordinary! Why would there be such a contrast? The difference comes from the faith that my Dad has in His Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. My Dad trusts in the Lord above all things. He believes in the word of God and lives by the examples that Jesus has taught us in His word.

Dad’s heart listened to God and from him I would hear wisdom from above. My Dad has shared God’s wisdom with me for as long as I can remember. I would like to share about one time in particular that changed my life forever.

I had always struggled in school. There were classes that I excelled in and others that I could not grasp. I did not enjoy school and most of the time I felt like I was just trying to survive one more day. My high school guidance counselor had told me that I was not college material and I readily believed him.

I had decided that I would join the Air Force. I could travel the world and learn valuable skills. It was my senior year in high school and I had made the necessary contacts with the Air Force I was waiting to hear from the recruiter the finalized plans for the physical that I would have to have before I could join. The recruiter called and told me that he had one more question that he had forgotten to ask me. Did I have any lung disorders? I told him that I had asthma but that it was really not a problem. He then told me, “I’m sorry but we cannot accept your application because of your asthma.”

I was devastated. I was a senior in high school and now I did not have any plans. I felt like a big failure. I cried a lot. One day my Dad came downstairs to my room and said, “You cannot sit and cry for the rest of your life.” He looked at me and said, “Have you ever thought that God wanted you to do something different with your life?” I sat back and realized that I had not thought about what God had wanted for me. My Dad told me that he wanted me to go to our community college for one year. I told him that I didn’t feel smart enough. My Dad said, “Your Mom and I believe that you are smart enough and that with God’s help you can accomplish anything.”

I was scared but with my parents encouragement I went to college and I loved it. That first year I made the Dean’s list every quarter! I decided to transfer to Concordia University in St. Paul, MN. When I graduated from college I had two majors, Director of Christian Education and Elementary Education. I served in different churches for about 10 years as a Youth Minister before I was married. I never forgot the words of wisdom and perspective that my Dad shared with me. I was able to encourage many youth in school, because I knew what it was like to struggle. But I also knew what it was like to have someone believe in you. Most importantly I knew that “All things are possible with God.” Matthew 19:26

Friday, April 07, 2006

As a Camp Counselor I would like to choose one morning during that week where my cabin of girls would wake up early to go and watch the sunrise.

We would wake from our slumber and stumble to get our clothes on and quietly go out the door. We did not want awake the other cabins that were close by.

We would quietly follow one other down the trail to the beach. As we walked we could hear the humming of the mosquitoes and soulful song of the morning dove. We would gather on “The Point” it was a beautiful place with water on either side and right on the tip there were three wooden crosses.

On this one particular morning the silence took our breath away, as we gazed across the water that was as smooth as silk waiting for the first colors of the day to appear. As we captured our first glimpse of the orange and yellows that reflected upon the glassy water. We were amazed at what we saw through the early morning mist, there she was an elegant mother loon gliding gracefully across the lake with her babies and one of them was riding on her back. We listened to her haunting melody as it came across the lake.

It was a sacred and precious moment that will be etched upon my mind forever. We knew were standing on holy ground because we could see the beauty and majesty of God’s creation right in front of us.

Our scripture verse that morning was “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

I would encourage you to find that sacred place where you can spend time with the One who created you and loves you more than you can possibly imagine. Find rest and peace in our Savior’s arms.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Troy and I were good friends before we started dating, but his Grandmother had passed away before our official first date, so I never had the privilege to meet her. Shortly before this Troy had moved into his own home, so as the family sorted through his grandmother’s house, he inherited quite a few things - a tall grandfather clock, dining room table, a hutch and a buffet. He received the Grandfather clock because he always helped Grandma Louise take care of it and made sure that it was set and worked properly.

I remember the first time I saw his home after he had received all of these treasures from his Grandmother. The dining room set was beautiful, and his mother had the chairs reupholstered as a Birthday present for him. It impressed me that a bachelor had a beautiful dining room set. As I stood admiring the room, out of the corner of my eye I caught some unusual colors. I looked up and there perched on top this beautiful hutch was an arrangement of elephant mugs. They did not fit in with Troy’s decor at all, so I asked him about them. He told me that they had belonged to his Grandmother. She was a Republican and had bought these mugs for every year that I Republican had been president. Troy told me that his Grandmother had arranged them like that and that he wanted to do the same.

After we were married the elephant mugs continued to stay on top of the hutch. We had many dinner guests ask questions and sent many guests happily away with an elephant mug that was special to them because of the year it represented. It seemed that no matter how many mugs were sent home with guests there were always mugs left.

We made a move after we had been married for a year. As we were putting things in their places Troy put the mugs up on the hutch again. I never said anything and we had more guests who were delighted to receive one of the mugs.

We just recently moved again and when it came time to put things in their place I noticed that the elephant mugs were not around. I asked Troy if he wanted to put them on top the hutch. He looked at me and said "No, I'm ready to let that go."

I realized that there are those treasures that please the eye and than there are the most precious ones -those "treasures of the heart”-that are hardest to let go.

We all know people who are “Treasures of the heart” to us, some of them are still with us and others are now resting in our Savior’s arms. Today’s writing is dedicated and in honor of all of the people who have been precious gifts from God to me.

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with the power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all of the saints, 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.

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work with in us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

It was a beautiful spring day and we were ready for an adventure. We decided to go walking through the woods to see what we could discover. We saw beautiful pink and yellow lady slippers that stood eloquently amongst the green of the forest. The chipmunks and squirrels amused us with their antics.

I was looking up at a beautiful and majestic pine tree that had a nest in it. I noticed the baby birds peeking out into the world and waiting for the nourishment that their mother would soon bring them. I tripped and I fell in a big heap on the forest floor. My friends were laughing at me and than all of sudden we saw it…. It glittered in the afternoon sunlight. The glimmer of gold specks caught our eye and we were silent for a moment as we weighed the possibility in our mind that we had stumbled upon this rare treasure. At that moment we knew that we had discovered gold and that our lives would never again be the same.

We lugged the precious gem back to our house, we took turns carrying it. The excitement and anticipation of showing Mom and Dad what we had found in the forest filled us with the giddiness that only fifth grade girls can produce.

Dad and Mom tried ever so gently to tell us that our precious find might be fool’s gold but we were convinced that it was the real thing. Dad knew someone who could perform a test on our rock for us and he agreed to have that done as soon as possible.

We dreamed about all of the things that we could buy and do with the gold that we knew we had found….. Our dreams of fortune quickly faded when Dad came home to tell us that our rock was fool’s gold.

I chuckle as I remember my adventure from long ago. I have since discovered that there are things more important than finding gold. My life has been filled with precious moments that are now priceless memories.

I know that even though I did not find gold that day, I have the most "rare treasure" in my life. You see long ago, my parents knew the best gift that they could give me was to make sure that I knew Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I thank and praise the Lord everyday for the loving Christian parents that He gave me.

My prayer this day and always is that you have this gift that is worth far more than diamonds or gold. God is calling you, He has loved you long before you were even born. “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:1-2

God’s greatest joy would be for you to walk with Him each day, and when you do your life will never again be the same.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

“For I know the plans that I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future.”

It was in the fall of my last year of college. I was really struggling with some major changes that were going on in my life. My twin sister had taken her first call as a Director of Christian Education eleven hours away from me and I was missing her terribly. I had also realized that the guy that I had loved for a long time would end up only being my friend. Even though I knew deep in my heart that it was for the best, I was devastated.

I poured my heart out to the Lord, and while I was crying out to Him, I started to write. The following is what I wrote during my time of prayer.

Dear Lord, my heart feels like it is breaking into a million pieces. I want to hold onto this chapter in my life. It hurts way too much to let it go."My dear child” said the Lord, "Unless you let go you will not have be able to grow. Your life is laid out as chapters in a book. In order to finish the book you have to finish each chapter and move on to the next. I know what is coming and I will never leave you or allow anything to happen to you, that you and I will not be able to handle together.

I still do not understand my Father, why it has to hurt so much? "My Beloved child, do you not understand that whenever you grow it can sometimes be as painful as the growing pains you experienced as an adolescent. Whenever changes take place it can be very painful. But in the end my precious one, you will come forth as pure as gold, because I will have molded you into the person that I have created you to be. In order to do this you must continue with the chapters of your life and at times experience growing pains. Always remember to trust in me and I shall make your paths straight."

Fast forward to the present time and I have a different perspective on what I felt all those years ago. Those feelings were very real, but I did not know back then how my life would change. My twin sister is now only 2 ½ hours away from me and we have shared many precious moments together.

I am married to my soul-mate. Troy is perfect for me. The chapters of my life have turned out better than I could have ever possibly imagined. I learned a long time ago that God always knows what is best; we just need to trust Him.

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all of your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:4-6

Monday, April 03, 2006

Welcome to Ripples of Peace, I'm so glad that you decided to stop by. I have created this blog as a way to share my writings with family and friends. I chose the name Ripples of Peace because of the love that I have for being out on the water. Growing up in Northern Minnesota gave me plenty of time to spend enjoying God's beautiful creation. One of my favorite things was to be out in the water either in a boat or a canoe just soaking in the warm rays of the sun. I loved sitting there feeling the wind whisper across my skin, I could feel the presence and peace of God.

I loved watching the water and the ripples that were created. How did they start and how far did they go? Life is a lot like the ripples in the water. All of us face challenges on a daily basis and it has a ripple effect on our lives and those around us.

How do you deal with the trials of life? I have learned that we can only meet the difficulties of life by having our Savior at our side. There have been so many times where I would try and fix things on my own and I would end up with a bigger mess. I knew that only my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, would be able to help me through those troubled times.

God comforts me and gives me His peace on a daily basis. It is my hope that when you come and visit that I can share with you the Peace and encouragement that God has given me.

"The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the Word that sustains the weary. He awakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears. " Isaiah 50: 4-5