The Grand Finale


     “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.”  Matthew 26:2

     People attempt to rationalize God in human terms, causing them to sway from what God expects them to utilize in wisdom.  God intended for us to remember the time when Jesus was crucified.  Why?  That was the turning point in the war between good and evil.  It was a significant part that was God’s plan, to show Satan that he cannot defeat God’s plan.  In His death, Jesus gained a great victory over Satan, canceling our debt and rendering the corrupt rulers and authorities powerless (Colossians 2:14-15).  All they succeeded in was destroying a body, a physical form.  It released Jesus from His human limits, having already fulfilled the necessity of taking a human form.  Having understood what it meant to be a human (Heb. 5:7-9) He was fulfilling the one ultimate purpose: to become our Salvation (Heb. 2:9, Matt. 26:26-28, 1 John 3:8, Matt. 20:28).  Clearly, throughout the scriptures, God promised salvation, a second chance.
     Jesus is remembered for the many wondrous works that He performed, while on Earth.  He healed many, converted new believers, and taught valuable lessons.  Again, His legacy was not to come, until the end.  All of these were a prelude to His one, true purpose:  Defeat Satan and show us the pathway to Heaven.  This is why we are allowed to understand when it took place.  As important as it is for us to remember every day, God gave us the opportunity to mark the time that it actually took place.  We know that His arrest, trial, and crucifixion happened in the days leading to the Passover (Matt. 26:2, Mark 14:1, Luke 22:1, John 18:39).  In our calendar, Jesus died on the preparation of the Sabbath, a Friday.  The Friday before Passover.  Passover is marked as the 15th day of the second month; late April by today’s calendar.  The bible also states that He died at approximately 3:00pm; the equivalent to the Julian calendar’s ninth hour of the day (Matt. 27:45-50, Mark 15:33-37).  This was God’s crucial moment to burn into the memory of the people.
     Now, let’s look at the date of Jesus’s birth.  Anyone?  Anyone?  Jesus was born on…anyone?  Anyone?  Of course, the room should be silent because, there is no answer.  Yes, we have a holiday (my favorite) that people use to celebrate His birth.  Where did they come up with that date?  Not the bible.  Why?  We were not meant to know the time of His birth.  God put His Son on this earth to fulfill the promise of salvation.  That happened at the end of Jesus’s earthly life, not the beginning.  Human nature causes people to try to solve or declare the time our Savior was born.  Truthfully speaking, God doesn’t want that information in my head.  He never intended for me to celebrate His Son’s birthday.  He intended for me to follow His teachings and put to good use the purpose of His suffering. 
     When it comes right down to it, what should we be reminded of?  I believe that the scriptures remind me that I have an opportunity for Jesus to intervene on my behalf.  I have the choice to live as God has commanded, so that Jesus will stand in front of me, at the day of my judgement, hiding my flawed spirit and showing only His purity to the Father. 
     Amen anyone?

Parenthood: Then & Now

     “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Proverbs 22:6

     I will admit, I don’t necessarily agree with most parenting tactics in today’s world.  It has changed a lot.  It is common for a child not to say “Yes sir” or “Yes ma’am” in the manner that my generation and generations before were brought up to say.  If I had ever responded to my parents with a “Yeah”, I might not have been here today to right this article.  Ok, my parents wouldn’t have been that severe but, many of you can relate to what I am saying.  I witness kids being allowed to speak to adults as if they were on the same level.  They are allowed to address other adults by their first name.  The only way that I could have addressed adults that way was by placing “Mr.” or “Mrs.” In front of it.  Kids are allowed to think that it is acceptable to interrupt conversations, whenever they feel like it, or "demand" things from their parents. 
     I have witnessed parents trying to act more like their child’s buddy than a parent.  Instead of showing a finality in direction, some parents resort to light-hearted jestering.  Many times, I've noticed that while some parents do not have the proper control over their own kids, another adult can quickly get that same child to mind them.  How is a child expected to show respect to that sort of parental authority?  We wonder why there is a lack of good parental skills when we start changing some essential child-raising skills.  
     I’m not saying that an individual is a bad parent because of this.  It’s the collective whole that I am referring to.  I think many parents do it because it’s what everybody else does.  Hmmm.  I guess that I would prefer that my child stands out a little, from the crowd.  It would make me proud knowing that others view my child(ren) as having more courteous mannerisms.  In general, I’d love to see more of these directions taught to the children of today.  It shows that to gain respect you must be willing to give respect.  It also continues to establish the adults as the authority figure. I believe that, while these small things, in themselves, do not seem to be problematic; they can connect to form larger problems.
     Children have their peers.  They talk, respond, and think in a particular way with their peers.  It is the same with adults.  Our behaviorisms are different when responding to our peers than they are with the younger crowd, as it should be.  Again, it establishes a continual growth process.  I won’t understand many things as my grandparents did until, at the very least, I have lived the long, full lives that they have.  Only then can I view the world in a way that is level to how they have seen it, in their last years.
     Being a former teacher, I have witnessed a truth in much research regarding what children really want.  They want a structured, disciplined life.  They long for established rules and consistency in following them.  They long for being giving consequences for doing what is right, and consequences for doing something wrong.  If we aren’t setting these rules and structures for them while they are young, how can we expect them to learn it when we pass the torch over to them?  If they are to fail as adults, we would only have ourselves to blame.  Our kids deserve better than that, don’t you think?
     Do what you know is right, in your heart and in the sight of God, when it comes to the raising of your kiddos.  God’s opinion matters most, not the norm of the crowd.

Pitfalls: Life’s Continuous Arcade Game

     “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not worth much more than they?”  Matthew 6:25-26
     Raiders of the Lost Ark.  At this moment, you are no doubt hearing John Miller’s composition of the classic, upbeat theme song.  Think about that opening scene.  Scholar and adventurer, Henry “Indiana” Jones, inside a deep cave within the jungle.  Preparing to remove a precious artifact, he evaluates the situation and prepares a counterweight to replace the artifact.  The thinking is sound.  He makes the switch.  Perfect!  Unfortunately, the booby trap works differently than perceived.  An enormous boulder is let loose set to squash any who dared to breach this sacred chamber, resorting in Indiana Jones making like a bread truck and hauling buns out of there!
     The moral in this scene is quite simple: while you can try to prepare for everything that you may be able to foresee, you cannot be prepared for all that is ambiguous.  It’s too much!  How does this relate to the classic arcade game Pitfall?  No matter how high you leap, or how far you jump, or how graceful the swinging vine is, sometimes you just miss the landing spot and DOWN YOU GO!  That is the moment when we lose that perfect plan and the wrench gets thrown into the well-oiled machine.  A majority of people do not handle this well, at all.  Others fall into the pit and accept that things didn’t go according to plan and plot out the next move to get out of the pit. 
     God wants us to be prepared as much as possible.  Matthew, chapter 24, tells us to be prepared for the coming of Jesus, even though we will not know when that will happen (vs. 42, 44).  He doesn’t want us to be idle, just waiting for things to drop in our laps.  However, as He states in Matthew 6, He tells us not to be in constant worry.  While being excited about some event that happens in our lives, we do not want anxiety to overcome us.  That is a difficult concept that everyone has, to a certain degree.  It is also one of the easiest ways for Satan to infiltrate our thoughts.  The more we allow our anxieties to take over our thoughts, the more we allow Satan to poison our thoughts, pulling our trust away from the Lord.  No Bueno, my friends!
     Peter tells us, in his letter to the exiled Christians in the regions of Asia Minor, to cast our anxieties to the Father, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).  What I really love is that God also tells us, “You are blessed when you are feeling your most vulnerable to the events of life.  That is the time that you need me the most.”  As Matthew 5:3 puts it: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”
     When we acknowledge the fact that, no matter how mapped out we try to make things, a trap will eventually snare us.  Do we go into panic mode in attempt to get control over those traps?  You can, but the results will still be the same.  A trip.  A stumble.  A change of plans.  A revision.  God wants us to dust ourselves off and keep moving.  These aren’t setbacks.  If anything, they are delays.  If Indiana Jones could keep his level-headedness to overcome a situation that went a little south, I think that we can overcome so much more with allowing God to get us through those pitfalls.