Saturday, March 30, 2013

Resurrection Doubt? No, He's Alive!

Christ the Lord has risen! He's alive! Do we believe this? The disciples spent three years with Jesus, living and learning from Him. They saw the healings and miracles and knew He was the Messiah. But they didn't expect Him to die. They witnessed His arrest, trial, and crucifixion, though some ran away and hid. Some helped bury Him. Then they hid together and grieved.

Three days later they saw Him! Can you grasp the surprise, amazement, and yet belief in their voices?
Mary said, "I have seen the Lord! (John 20:18) She knew it was Him!     
The two men on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Him until He broke the bread and revealed Himself to them. They said, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:32) Their hearts burned within them even before they recognized Him. Does your heart burn within you in His presence?  
Thomas wouldn't believe the reports of the other disciples until he saw Jesus a week later. Then he said, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28) I imagine he said this with a hushed and humble voice. He may have even bowed before him. Wouldn't you? Do you now?
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most essential doctrine of the church. Any who don't believe this truth are denying Jesus, Christianity and Scripture.     
He said He was the Son of God. (Luke 22:70) He said He would rise from the dead. (Luke 18:33) And He did. He said He would return and He will. (Matthew 24:30) What a marvelous faith we have.  
Blessings in the Risen Christ, Dottie

This article originally appeared a year ago on my Faith Notes blog.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Easter Script for Families

Our family used the script below to read the Easter story with our kids and grand kids with each person reading a part. Try it – it brought the Easter message alive for all of us. Assign the color coded roles ahead of time with a narrator reading the black sections.

John 20: 1-18 NIV Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said,

Mary - "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!"
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

Then the disciples went back to their homes, but 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,
Angels - "Why are you crying?"

Mary - "They have taken my Lord away, 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. 
Jesus"Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?"

Thinking he was the gardener, she said,
Mary - "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."
 Jesus said to her, "Mary."

 She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).

 Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' "

 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news:
Mary - "I have seen the Lord!"

That evening
John 20:19-20 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,

 Jesus  - "Peace be with you!"  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Luke 24:13
Now that same day, two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them,

Jesus  - "What are you discussing together as you walk along?"

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him,
Cleopas - "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?"

 Jesus  - "What things?" he asked.
 Cleopas - "About Jesus of Nazareth," he replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see."

He said to them,
 Jesus  - "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?"

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly,

Disciples -"Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other,

Disciples - "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, 

Disciples - "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon."

Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them,

 Jesus  - "Peace be with you."
They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them,

 Jesus  - "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself!  Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."

 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.  He said to them,

 Jesus  - "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."

He appears to Thomas John 20:24
 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, 
Disciples -"We have seen the Lord!"   But he said to them, 

Thomas - "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."

One week after Easter                                                                                                     
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

 Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."  Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Blessings in Christ, Dottie

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Gethsemane, Arrest and Trial, Crucifixion and Burial

Today I’m listing the Holy Week Scripture from Thursday night to Friday. Ponder the meaning of these events. Jesus, the son of God died for us.

Gethsemane – In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus sweat blood and tears. Matt. 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:40-46 He prayed “Let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.”

Arrest and Trial – Matthew 26:47-27:26, Mark 14:43-15:15, Luke 22:47-23:25, John 18:2-19:16. Pilate said, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” Luke 23:4

Crucifixion – Matt. 27:27-56, Mark 15:16-41, Luke 23:26-49, John 19:17-37.
Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

Burial – Matt. 27:57-66, Mark 15:42-47, Luke 23:50-56, John 19:38-42
Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and asked for Jesus body. “Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock.” Luke 23:53

In Christ, Dottie

This article originally appeared a year ago on my Faith Notes blog.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Holy Week and an Old Rugged Cross

This is the most holy week of the Christian calendar. Most churches will have special services this week to recount the events of the first Holy week, to commemorate the Last Supper, to honor our Lord's agony in Gethsemane, His betrayal and arrest and His suffering and death on the cross to redeem us. And three days later his resurrection!

Let the meaning of this week sink in to your soul in a deeper way than ever before. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you the amazing significance of this event in history. Wrap your mind and heart around the fact that Jesus, God in the flesh, the son of God, lived a sinless life, taught profound lessons in love, showed us God's unchanging character, and voluntarily died to save you and me. And He rose again. He's alive.

We can't stand in God's presence in eternity without Christ's blood covering our sins. Here's what scripture says about the effect of Jesus sacrificial death on those who are in Christ:

God has forgiven you all your sins: Christ has utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over His own head on the cross. And then, having disarmed all the powers ranged against us, He exposed them - shattered, empty, and defeated-in His final glorious triumphant act! Colossians 2:13b-15

             On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
            the emblem of suffering and shame,
            and I love the old cross where the dearest and best
            for a world of lost sinners was slain.
            So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
            till my trophies at last I lay down;
            I will cling to the old rugged cross
            and exchange it some day for a crown.

In Christ,


This article originally appeared a year ago on my Faith Notes blog.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Events of Holy Week in Scripture

We will be blessed this holy week if we read, study, meditate and pray on the events of this week as recorded in Scripture. Today I’m listing Sunday through Thursday. Meditate on His life as you read through these events.

Sunday: Jesus “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem occurred on Sunday with Jesus riding on a donkey fulfilling Zechariah 9:9’s prophesy. “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See your king comes to you, righteous and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” See Matt 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:29-44, John 12:12-19.

Monday: Jesus is anointed (for burial) at Bethany (John 12:1-9) and he clears the temple of the money changers. (Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-18, Luke 19:45-48)

Tuesday: His authority is questioned. Matt. 21:23-27, Mark 11:27-33, Luke 20:1-8. And Jesus teaches in the temple. Matt. 21:28-23:39, Mark 12:1-44, Luke 20:9-21:4.

Wednesday: Judas plots against Jesus. Matt. 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11, Luke 22:3-6

Thursday: Jesus and His disciples eat the Passover meal, the Last Supper, the first Communion. Matt. 26:17-29, Mark 14:12-25, Luke 22:7-38, John 13:1-38. Jesus says to his disciples “This is my body, broken for you, do this in remembrance of me.” In John 14:1-16:33, He comforts the disciples, and in John 17:1-26 He gives His high priestly prayer, praying for them and for us – for our unity in Him.

This is a holy week with much to ponder about Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Blessings In Christ, Dottie

This article originally appeared a year ago on my Faith Notes blog .

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Palm Sunday Baptism

Early in the morning Dot lay in bed thinking about the special Palm Sunday ahead. She glanced out her window enjoying the sunshine, then noticed snow on a tree limb. She jumped out of bed and ran to the window. Snow covered everything in sight. Who ever heard of it snowing on Palm Sunday?

Dot and her parents and younger sister walked to church through a foot and a half of snow. So much snow had fallen that the streets hadn't been cleared. Dot enjoyed Sunday school and worship and, though attendance was low, she knew it would be an extra special day.
That night Dot and her family walked to church again through the snow. Dot's heart beat a little faster than usual now, in anticipation. She remembered the minister’s description of Palm Sunday with Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a little mule. The people had strewn palm branches in his path and shouted with praise and joy, "Hosanna to the King!" The minister said they should do everything with love and joy and praise for Jesus in their hearts and shout "Hosanna to the King."

When they arrived at church Dot went to a little room next to the sanctuary. Her friends were already there and women from the church helped them get dressed. Dot slipped into her white robe and just then the organist began playing the prelude. Dot's heart beat a little faster, because she knew this was such a special moment in her life - one she would always remember. Dot was going to be baptized that night.

The service began. Dot's best girl friend, Kitty, went first and came out dripping wet, but smiling. One of the boys went, and then her turn came. She stepped into the water slowly and confidently. The minister took her hands. He talked about the meaning of baptism and asked her if she loved Jesus and wanted Him as her Lord and Savior. Dot replied, "Yes" in a low whisper, but her heart was beating a loud and joyous "Yes" within her.

Dot didn't fully understand all that baptism meant, but she knew Jesus was the Son of God and died for her and rose again. She knew baptism meant she would try to do whatever Jesus wanted her to do and she would be different because Jesus would live in her heart.

The minister said, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost" as he gently let her down into the water. As she came up out of the water she heard the congregation singing "My Jesus I love Thee, I know Thou art mine" and she knew for the first time what that song meant.

After church she heard people say, "What a shame it had to snow on Palm Sunday." But Dot didn't feel that way. She knew this day couldn't be hurt by outward things like snow. That night she had proclaimed to all the members of her church that she wanted Jesus to be the King of her life - just as the people the first Palm Sunday had proclaimed him King. Dot wanted to do as the minister had said they should that morning and live with a song of love and joy and praise for Jesus in her heart always.

"Bless the King who comes in the name of the Lord!" Luke 19:38 NLT



This article originally appeared in 2012 my FaithNotes blog.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Presence of God

Are we sensing the presence of God as we journey through this Lenten season? Are we seeking His presence more? 

Does the Presence of God dwell in your church? Do you sense His Presence during times of corporate prayer? 

The Presence is most likely to show up when we pray together. When, we, the church body unite in prayer and worship, praising him, humbling ourselves before him - His Presence comes.   

Terry Teykl, pastor and author of The Presence Based Church says:  

"As the body of Christ, we desperately need the Presence of God. We are nothing without it. His Presence, unrivaled in any aspect of beauty, power, fame or majesty, is our provision and glory. It should be the thing that holds us up and sets us apart. One moment in the Presence can do more than a lifetime of church services without it."

Do we believe this? Do we then, seek His face? Is worship a top priority? We won't sense His presence if our hearts are closed to Him or if we're holding a grudge against someone. We must prepare for worship, let go of unforgiveness, repent of our own sin or wrong doing - then we will be open to His Spirit.
Scriptures on the Presence of God
"One thing I have asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

"In thy presence there is fullness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures forever more. (Psalm 16:11)

In my book, Changing Churches, I write:
"Worship connects us with the Presence of God. True worship, opening our hearts to God and praising Him, is fearful and astonishing. It changes us. Worship is as vital to our faith as breathing is to our bodies. We bow in adoration, devotion, respect, and awe. God is holy and eternal. We are finite. We humble ourselves in this holy encounter. We meet God weekly in corporate worship, as a church body. The fragrant aroma of His Presence in us and in the church increases in proportion to our prayer and worship."

Time in His Presence changes us. Perhaps this is why we don't seek Him. He changes us when we draw near to Him. Our flesh resists change. Change is scary. But it is worth it. Knowing Him personally is worth everything.

Terkyl says:  
"I love the local church. It is God's hope for transformation of lives, the expression of His glory in the earth, and His chosen bride for the Son. If someone today wants to sense and experience the real and manifested Presence of God, he shouldn't have to go any further than the local church...."

Is your church seeking God's Presence? Are you?

Blessings, Dottie

Monday, March 11, 2013

Journaling Psalm 51 Part 6

Psalm 51 is David’s repentance for his many sins including adultery and murder. He was a man after God’s own heart yet a sinner – saved by grace.

Psalm 51:16-17
You would not be pleased with sacrifices or I would bring them.
If I brought you a burnt offering you would not accept it.
The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit.
A broken and repentant heart you will not despise

You would not be pleased with sacrifices or I would bring them. If I brought you a burnt offering you would not accept it. I’m not sure why David wrote this since the Jewish people still did atone for sin by bringing you sacrifices. I know you don’t want empty rituals without genuine repentance. I know, too, that Jesus paid the price for me, redeemed me with his sacrifice. I give you my all. I’m not holding back – at least right now. I want to do so consistently. Yet I fail at times and take back control. I’m learning to listen to you for guidance and obey. Whenever I recognize you wanting me to give or give up something - doing so results in gain for me – rather than loss. 

Dear Father,
The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart you will not despise. I give you the sacrifice you want – a broken spirit, a broken and repentant heart. Forgive me for my blindness to my own sins and keep showing them to me. Only you can break my spirit – which I’m inviting you to do. My “bad attitudes” consume me at times - self-pity, hurt, anger, fear and blame of others. Help me change, Lord. Help me have your mind in me. I lay my sins at the cross and all my neediness. I know you forgive me and I accept your forgiveness. Help me learn to abide in you more and more on this Lenten journey.

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Journaling Psalm 51 Part 5

Psalm 51 is David’s repentance for his many sins including adultery and murder. He was a man after God’s own heart yet a sinner – saved by grace. Join me on this solemn and blessed journey of prayer, confession and repentance.

Psalm 51:12- 15
Restore to me again the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
Then I will teach your ways to sinners,
And they will return to you.
Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves.
Then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
Unseal my lips, O Lord, that I may praise you.
Dear Father,
Restore to me again the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.
You have restored to me the joy of my salvation! Thank you for welcoming me back. I marvel at my return to you and the journey we have been on ever since. And I marvel at M also coming to you. We’ve grown in knowing you and your Word. Thank you for all the dear pastors, leaders and friends you put in our path just when we needed them and their wisdom and friendship. I’ve learned so much about trusting you and obeying your call. I can rely on you and I’m not in control. Teach my heart and soul (the deep unconscious spaces in me) to know this so I will be more and more like you. Keep stretching me and drawing me even closer to you. 

 “Make me willing to obey you.” Obeying is difficult. It also has been a path that has blessed me. I obeyed about leading a marriage group, and it led me on an adventure that stretched and grew me. More recently I obeyed you in writing Changing Churches which led me to all these internet connections and adventures. Both of these stretched me and forced me to lean on you and trust you more.

Then I will teach your ways to sinners, and they will return to you. I want to be used by you to teach unbelievers—all those people who are separated from you. You used me to save someone’s life. You showed me years ago that I saved a life by getting a pregnant woman to a doctor. He discovered that her baby was dead and if she hadn’t come in when she did she would have died. To help save someone for Eternal life – even better! I know when I obey you (listen to you) others will see you in me and be drawn to you. Help me remember this and do this. Guide me in what to pray, let your Holy Spirit give me the words. Remind me it’s not about me so I’ll be a channel for you and your power.

Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves.  I know my sins are responsible for shedding Christ’s blood. I know this in my head, it’s hard to accept it in my heart – it’s so mysterious and upsetting to think I shed my Lord and Savior’s blood and that the same blood now covers all my sins that caused this. Forgive me, Lord. I haven’t literally killed anyone though I have had "murder" (terrible anger) in my heart at times. I hope I haven’t “killed” anyone’s spirit. Forgive me, Lord and teach me what I need to learn about my anger and hurtful words. I know you forgive all these sins and I thank you for this and accept your forgiveness. You are the God who saves.

Dear, Father,
I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that I may praise you.
I joyfully sing of your forgiveness. "Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound..." I am amazed at your forgiveness. I thank you for forgiving me daily as I become more aware of current and recurrent sins. I thank you for my new life in Christ and that my heart often burns within me with your love.

I pray you will unseal my lips that I may praise you. When I am abiding in you my lips are unsealed. I want to praise you from the house tops then! Singing your praises draws me to you. I praise you for the ways you’re cleaning my heart and giving me a new heart. I praise you that you make all things new.

Blessings, Dottie

Friday, March 1, 2013

Journaling Psalm 51 Part 4

Psalm 51 is David’s repentance for his many sins including adultery and murder. He was a man after God’s own heart yet a sinner – saved by grace. Join me on this solemn and blessed journey of prayer, confession and repentance.

Psalm 51:10-11
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a right Spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
And don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right Spirit within me. I do desire a new heart (soft, loving and pliable in your hands) and a clean heart (pure and washed free of all the sins that separate me from you). Thank you for the revelation you gave me this morning from Oswald Chambers – lust is “I must have it at once.” I haven’t out grown my childhood self-centeredness. I was aware of this when  M and I filled out a necessary form together. I complained throughout about how much I hate paper work. Grumble, grumble, grumble. Thinking back to last week when I got so upset I suspect that was due to “wanting what I wanted when I wanted it.” I felt pressure about all the tasks ahead – rather than taking one day at a time and trusting you. Forgive me for all these sins.

Only you can change me – but I know you can and have already done this. I accept your forgiveness and need your help in turning away from these sins that are so ingrained in me. I accidentally wrote new heart above (instead of clean). This led me to Ezekiel 36:26-27. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. I claim this promise, Lord.

Renew a right spirit within me. You have done this in amazing ways. My spiritual birthday is this month – the day we returned to church 23 years ago. The turn around in my life, heart, mind and spirit is amazing. You have said you make all things new. You have made me a new creation. Not that I have arrived. Help me walk in your Light and in your Spirit consistently. Erase my edginess, irritation, self-will and frustration. Help me see the positive and focus only on that and center my life on you.

Do not banish me from your presence, And don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
I wonder if you ever do banish us from your presence. I think you withhold our awareness of your presence to increase our faith or for our own good. Also, we are unable to pray or connect with you when we are angry, rebellious or self-centered. I believe you are always with us as Jesus said. I thank you for this assurance and for all I’m learning through your Word. Help me remain and abide in you and walk in your Light. Show me when I stray even one step away.

I can’t imagine you taking your Holy Spirit from me. I guess David felt you had done this. Due to his sins he must have felt separated from the closeness to you he’d known. Though I ignored you for so many, many years (and your Holy Spirit and your Son) – I know now you were with me and in me – keeping me from straying too far, wooing me back. If you hadn’t been – I don’t think I would have choked up singing “Fairest Lord Jesus” – that first Sunday back in church. Help me continue to abide in you. Help me to sense your Holy Spirit abiding in me and filling me.

Blessings, Dottie