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March 26, 2018

Let the Celebration Begin

Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”…

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!”

John 20: 11-18 (NIV)

Hope would be an appropriate attitude as we begin to look ahead this week toward the events which will eventually lead to and surround the celebration of our risen Christ on Easter Sunday.

But I got an additional and unexpected boost of joy, when I learned that our two precious granddaughters would be staying with us for the evening and overnight. It was a surprise announcement in the midst of an otherwise normal day. Many of you understand how that works; the rest of you perhaps will one day.

Let the celebration begin.

It reminds me of a scene in a cemetery many years ago—the last place you would expect a celebration to occur. It’s recorded in the passage of Scripture above. Mary was there at the tomb early on Sunday morning looking for her Lord. She wanted to anoint His body with spices. But all she could remember was the cross.

The image of three days earlier is still seared in her memory. She could still hear the religious leaders screaming for His blood. She could see the Roman whip flying through the air and landing to rip still more skin off His already bloody back. She winces, remembering the thorns cutting His forehead, and she cries, remembering His lifeless body hanging on the cross. (more…)

Posted by: Scott Whitaker at 6:00 am
Filed under: Thoughts

March 19, 2018

Triumphal Love

Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…

There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided the property between them… [and] the younger son…set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living…

When he came to his senses, he said…I will…go back to my father and say…‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son…But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him…” Luke 15: 11-13, 17-20 (NIV)

It’s a long verse but a short story. I suspect that Jesus was smiling as He told it—knowing the punch line that was coming. You have to admit He really had a way with parables—our Jesus. A way to make a point with His tone, expression and words that would last longer than that younger son’s inheritance.

And the central moment of this parable is a theme that is woven throughout the Old and New Testaments—from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. Simply and clearly a poignant reminder of God’s continual presence in our lives and His never-ending love for us—no matter what pigpens we find ourselves wallowing in.

Maybe we can’t identify with that young son. Maybe some of you have never been there. Maybe you’ve never felt as low as that young man, with the filth caked on his clothes and pig slop staining the edges of his lips betraying where he had eaten his last meal.

Maybe you can’t identify with that story. (more…)

Posted by: Scott Whitaker at 6:00 am
Filed under: Thoughts

March 12, 2018

Always Look Deeper

Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…

Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it was written, ‘Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.’”

John 12: 14, 15 (NIV)

A few years ago, our younger Granddaughter, Ellie Kate, had peaked my interest in a movie she announced she had recently seen. And so while traveling with Lynda after that, I watched Ellie Kate’s recommended movie “Bolt”. It is the animated tale of an endearing little puppy who played a role as a super-hero dog in the movies.

At some point in all of those adventures he discovered that—in his real-life—he really wasn’t the super-hero dog he portrayed for the television cameras each week; a dog stronger than a locomotive, who could run faster than a speeding bullet, and leap tall buildings with single bound. He learned—under some difficult circumstances—that things aren’t always what they appear to be when he finally left the television production set after a number of years of broadcasts.

And most importantly he learned that the little girl in the movies loved him just as he was.

I remember, a few years ago, while sitting in a hotel room with a panoramic view through the open doors of our balcony across the vast expanse of Pacific Ocean in the distance, that all seemed calm and serene as the sunlight glistened on the quiet surface broken occasionally by the blow of a visiting whale. But I suspect beneath that peaceful appearance there is a world below teeming with activity.

Things aren’t always what they appear to be. (more…)

Posted by: Scott Whitaker at 6:00 am
Filed under: Thoughts

March 5, 2018

He Gets It!

Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT)

So, how is the day going for you? What was on your mind as you woke up this morning? Did you wake with some concerns, a bit of expectancy, a bit of uncertainty? Maybe you had some excitement about some plans that were about to unfold, or some doubt about something coming up later in the week and how it may unfold?

Whatever it was, here’s what you and I need to remember, and believe. Jesus knows how we feel. He lived among as a man. He understands where we are and what we’re going through.

He knows where you are right now and He knows what occupies your thoughts. He knows your hopes and dreams, your concerns and fears. He knows the burdens you are carrying. He knows that you are often not understood. He knows the expectations that others have of you, which pull incessantly and often mercilessly at you.

He knows how you are feeling right now, and somehow He wants to make sure that you know that you are precious to Him. So precious that He became like you and me over two thousand years ago, with the hope that we would come to Him, always. (more…)

Posted by: Scott Whitaker at 6:00 am
Filed under: Thoughts
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