Pictures of Jesus

by Mary Reigart
 
Certain pictures and scriptures about Jesus flash into my mind…
 
He was playful. There is a scene in the movie, ”Passion of the Christ”—one of the few that did not make me close my eyes. It was a scene between Jesus and Mary. They were splashing each other with water, laughing, teasing. It was a wonderful demonstration of a mother/son relationship. So often I think of Jesus as a baby at Christmas or in his thirties during his ministry. But I love to imagine him as a son, a sibling, a friend. Fully God and fully Man. Only our God.
 
He was responsible. So many of my contemporaries are struggling with care for aging parents. I marvel when I think of Christ on the cross, very near his death, talking to John about caring for the same mother who had cared for him. “She is your mother.“ (John 19:27) He honored his mother from his first miracle at the wedding in Canaan to the cross. Do you honor your parents?
 
Does he still feel the pain? I try not to, but my mind wanders to the cross. Pain at its worst, bullying at its best. I am reminded of an old song by Ray Boltz. “Does he still feel the pain every time I fail?” Or do we continue to doubt him like Thomas? Or deny him like Peter? I never want to hurt him but I have to wonder…
 
He so knows what we need. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) My life would be so different if I could just remember that He is God and I am not. And that we are to pray rather than worry. I repeat this scripture, use it as a password and let go, surrender until I read the prayer chain or my phone beeps.
 
The last thing on my mind. Jesus prays to the Father, to forgive those who had done this to Him. Can you imagine? Who do you need to forgive? Is there anyone for whom you keep a scorecard of wrongs? Forgiveness is for us and yet we can hold on so tightly. Scripture is clear.

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Train Them Up

by Mike Enslen This spring marks my sixth year as a youth baseball coach. As a former player and lifelong fan of the game, the role of coach fits me. I love teaching the fundamentals and complexities of baseball and seeing players progress through each season. But I found early on that my role on the field is more than just showing the kids how to field, hit and pitch. The most important lessons I try to teach them on the field include how to communicate properly with their teammates, be disciplined, show respect to coaches, umpires and other players, and recover from a missed play or strikeout. I also like to explain to them how the game is much more fun when you understand how to win with integrity, or more importantly, lose with integrity.
 
I only have these kids on my team for a few short months, which does not leave much time to make an impact. But the truth is, after the season ends I am still “coach” to this whole group of kids that I’ve worked with over the years, and I need to remain a positive example to them. They should see the lessons I have taught them being lived out in my life, no matter when or where I may cross paths with them. If I’ve done my job right, they will not just be better ballplayers and learn important life lessons, but they will see the teachings of Jesus Christ being lived out in my life!
 
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
 
This idea of “training up” is not reserved for coaches (or teachers, or church leaders, or parents…). We all have an opportunity to impact others in our daily walk. Who are you coaching in YOUR life? Maybe you’re impacting someone and you don’t even know it. It’s not easy to be “on” 100% of the time, not knowing what someone will hear you say or see you do. But what a gift we can give to others, especially those who look to us for direction, that when they look at us they see Jesus’ love and encouragement staring back at them.
 
Heavenly Father, I thank you for the opportunity to be an example for others and I pray that you would guide what I say and do as I live a life for You. Amen.

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On the Way to Today: Lesson Learned from a Model A

Ephesians 2:1-10
 
A few years ago, after much negotiating, I purchased a 1931 Model A Ford coupe. It spent some 15 years in a warehouse covered up by a canvas tarp. The motor was seized up and would need to be replaced. The Lord had led me to a recently rebuilt motor some months before this. I really enjoyed this “Do It Yourself” project. I bought tools and several books and went to work.
 
After many days of tugging, prying, fussing and smiling, the day of truth came. Old motor out, rebuilt motor in; now, would it run?
One of the best sounds I can remember was the sound of that motor coming to life. The life for which it was created. I might hasten to add that this sound was only topped by the sounds of that first cry for each of our four daughters.
 
I tell you this story to reflect on my life in Christ. For many years I was hiding my life and the gifts the Lord has given me under a “canvas”. When I came out from under that “canvas” and began using these gifts that God has given me, I found a new purpose in life: the life that God has intended me to live for Him. I have tried to share this story with all who will listen. The Old is gone and the New is before me and I am living it in the Risen Christ. May God bless you as you share your story with all the Lord brings into your circle of friendship.
 
Lord, it is my prayer that each one that reads this will be encouraged to share his or her testimony with others. Amen.

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People are Watching You

by Deb Seibert
Within this past year, Jeff and I have encountered a few God-given times where He has proved this to be true. An edifying situation was shared by our daughter-in-law. Her unsaved father was diagnosed with cancer and when he was asked by a pastor what he knew about Jesus, he replied that he really didn’t know much but he felt “something was different” when Jeff prayed to God. In our hearts we thanked God, realizing people really can see Jesus in our lives. The second situation was convicting. We were babysitting grandchildren in their home and I was attempting to clean a light fixture, needing Jeff’s help, but we both displayed impatience with one another. About 20 minutes later, our five year-old granddaughter said, “I really don’t think you should treat each other that way!” It was a great teaching time to share that she was absolutely right, we should be showing love, just as Jesus did.
 
People are watching you! But the important question is, are you watching Jesus? If our eyes are truly fixed on Him, we will be reading His word daily, praying, and allowing His Spirit to lead us (Romans 8:14, “Those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God.”) Jesus is our example to follow: He fixed His eyes on His Father, He memorized God’s Word, He was led by the Spirit, and He did only what His Father told Him to do. This is how Jesus obtained victory. If we have Jesus in our hearts, we should be showing the world this same victory!
 
Speaking of victory, I love the story in John 18:4-6, where Judas and the mob show up at the garden with weapons to detain Jesus. He didn’t run or flee, he STEPPED FORWARD. He didn’t ask them what they wanted or why they were there, but He asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I AM HE” Jesus said. And when Jesus said, “I AM HE,” they drew back and fell to the ground. Jesus used His own weapon, “I AM” (Jehovah) or “I AM” (God). Why did they fall? It was the power of His words; He is always the victor! And by His help we can be victors too. We have the same power that rose Jesus from the dead living in us (Romans 8:11) and we have the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11) to put on daily. He supplies everything we need—He is everything we need!
 
People certainly watched Jesus and, if you are a Christian, they are watching you, too! What is the world seeing in your life?
Dear Jesus, we know that Your love is the greatest gift of all. And we know that this is a gift that must go forward. You have put us in the world at just this time, at just this place, to share You and Your love. Yes, Lord, our lives should reflect to others that we know You. But we also ask Your Spirit to lead us with Your words to share Your great love with others. Thank you, Lord!

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No Reason to Fear

by Devon Brogan
(I heard a similar story to this on the radio one morning on the way to work; I added some details.)
 
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it. (Isaiah 30:21)
 
A father and son woke one sunny morning and decided to go for a hike in the woods. As they were walking, the little boy, with stick sword in hand, was engaged in the most epic imaginary battle. Swinging his sword at the imaginary beasts, the little boy was having the best time.
 
The father called out to his son, “Hey! Do you know where we are?”
 
“Nope!” the little boy replied, with a swipe and a jab of his sword at an ominous looking bush.
 
“Do you know how to get back to where we came from?” the father asked, a bit of concern in his voice.
 
“Naw, Dad!” the boy replied while jumping off a big rock, sword pointing into the air in triumph.
 
The father called out, “Do you know where we are going?”
 
“Not really…it’s okay!”
 
The father called the boy over to him, knelt down, and looking in the boy’s eyes he asked, “Aren’t you scared that you don’t know where you are, how to get back home, or where you are heading? Doesn’t it frighten you that you may be lost?”
 
“No, Dad! I’m not scared because you are with me!” the boy replied and ran off to continue his epic adventure.
 
We have no need to be afraid or nervous of where we are or where we are going because our Father is with us always. He will never leave us alone. He wants us to be as children and live with joy and not with worry. I trust in the Lord that He will point the way for me and I will do the work He wants me to do. I rely not on myself but on the Lord for protection and guidance. As long as the Lord is with me, I have no reason to fear and I will never be lost. I love this story because it is also something each child can relate to and understand.
 
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

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Choices

by Christina Hice
Many mornings I wake up a few minutes before my alarm goes off. My mind instantly is flooded with thoughts—and worries. I think of the day ahead, of kids’ appointments (Neurologist? Pulmonologist? Haircut?) or what is needed for school (did I write that last check for the Band trip? Is it a bake sale day?). I think of school assignments (big papers, projects), tests (midterms that could use an extra prayer), and my kids’ social and emotional well-being. My mind brings up worries for my children, my family, my friends. I think of friendships and broken relationships. I mentally look through my to-do list for home and for work and try to anticipate who may need something today so I can prioritize. By the time I get to the kitchen to start the coffee (let Willowby out on the way…is his hip doing better? Why is the cat staring at me? What did I forget for her?!) my mind is already going 100 mph in 80 different directions. And I have yet to have one sip of caffeinated clarity.
 
Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
 
I often need to remind myself to be still. I would like to think that I don’t need to be reminded that He is God, but when I look at all the things I think I am responsible for, maybe I need that reminder, too. I choose to take all those thoughts and worries and boldly go to the throne of grace and lay them down. And I choose to trust, trust in the One who knows me better than I know myself, to work all things out in His perfect will. I choose to be grateful for a God who has already been working on all the crazy details of my life and the lives of those I love. I choose to rejoice in a loving and gracious and merciful Father. And then I choose to breathe, just breathe, and be thankful for those mercies that are new every morning, and let thankfulness and trust in Him be my guides for this day.
 
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24)
 
Good morning, Lord. Thank you for today. Please still my racing mind, fill me with your peace and your purpose for today. May what I do be done in joy and to bring you honor. Thank you for caring for all the details of my life, and for providing for all my needs. Increase my faith and let my words and deeds be a witness to You. Amen.

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