"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"

Luke 15:4-6

April 8, 2009

Have a Blessed Easter


There have been times throughout my life when I have felt like God really doesn't understand how I feel or what I'm going through. He feels so far away and I think, "How can God possibly know or understand?" There have also been times when I've prayed and prayed about something, and after a while it seems as if God is turning a deaf ear towards me and isn't listening. I begin to feel like He doesn't care, and what I'm praying about isn't important to Him.

This past Friday morning I was having one of those pity party prayer sessions. There has been a matter that Jon and I have been praying about for quite some time. Both of us have prayed and prayed regarding the resolution and completion of this, but seemingly nothing happens. I feel like I truly believe that God can fix this, but there are days when I begin to question my faith. That's when I have to stop and realize that God has been with us and is constantly watching over us, although we haven't received the answer that we are seeking. He is with us every minute of every day and never takes His eyes off us, but hasn't yet worked things out as we desire them to be.

As I was praying and considering this, my mind turned to this week's newsletter. I knew that Easter was coming up on Sunday, so was thinking about what to write. Needing inspiration, I turned to the passage of scriptures in Matthew that told about the trial, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus. As I started reading, I realized that God truly does understand us humans. During this time in Jesus' life, He endured more hardship and pain than any one of us will ever experience. While reading these chapters, I was once again made aware of the fact that anything I may go through in my life, is but a drop in the bucket compared to what Jesus went through.

Hebrews 4:15 says, "For we do not have a High Priest (Jesus) who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin."

During those moments before and during the crucifixion, Jesus had times of wanting to avoid what He knew was coming, and feeling forsaken by His Father (God). He had two of His closest earthly friends betray and deny Him (Judas betrayed Him, and Peter denied Him). Mobs of people, probably even many whom had heard Him preach and saw Him perform miracles, mocked and ridiculed Him. Yet through it all, in Jesus' greatest time of weakness, He endured it all without sinning.

Judas had been one of the twelve who had been hand-picked by Jesus to be His disciples. He had traveled along-side Jesus, had been there to witness all the miracles, heard all the teachings of Jesus, and more than likely had preached and prayed for people himself. I truly believe that in the beginning, Judas loved Jesus and had a heart for ministry. He was willing to leave home and family and travel from town to town with Jesus. I don't know what happened to cause Judas to get his eyes off Jesus and helping others, and onto himself. Perhaps he became jealous of the popularity of Jesus and wanted that for himself. Perhaps he felt like Peter and some of the other disciples were loved by Jesus more then he was, and got more attention. He may have gotten tired of living hand to mouth, and had been contemplating ways of making money to better care for himself and his family. Perhaps he heard Jesus speak of dying and being resurrected after three days, and Satan planted the seed in his mind that by betraying Jesus, this would get him notoriety and some extra money. When that seed was first planted in his thoughts, he may have thought that there was no way he could do that. But after thinking on it more and more, Judas may have convinced himself that since Jesus was supposed to rise from the dead after three days, that he really wasn't hurting anyone; and perhaps was even being a vital part of bringing scripture to fulfillment. Satan may have convinced Judas that he would finally get the recognition he deserved, have money to live on and care for his family after Jesus left and returned to heaven, and would be an important part of history. Whatever was behind Judas' thinking, he gave into temptation and betrayed Jesus. His temptation led to action, which resulted in committing a great sin.

During the last supper, Jesus knew what Judas had done, and how He had been betrayed by a man who had been his close friend. Matthew 26:21 says, "Now as they sat eating, He said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me." The disciples were all exceedingly sorrowful and began asking, "Lord, is it I?" Finally Judas said, "Rabbi (teacher), is it I?" Jesus said to him, "You have said it."

Later, Jesus and the disciples went to the Mount of Olives, to a place called Gethsemane, and He told them, "Sit here while I go and pray over there."

During his prayer time, He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. He fell on His face and praying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." A second time he prayed, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass from Me unless I drink of it, Your will be done."

Jesus knew that what He was about to endure would be horrible, and He prayed that God would please let this cup pass. But even though His flesh was rebelling at what He was about to endure, He was willing to follow through with it, if it be His Father's will.

There are times when our flesh becomes weak and we beg God, "Please don't make me go through this" or "Please open another door or make a way around this, because it's too hard" or "It's not fair, I can't do this!" The situation we're looking at seems too hard or too painful, and we don't want to have to go through it. We want God to deal with the problem so we don't have to. We will plead and cry and try to manipulate God to make it all go away and make our life easy. One of the hardest prayers to pray in difficult circumstances is, "If possible, take this from me; nevertheless, not my will, but Your will be done." To pray that goes against everything within our flesh. We want God to wipe the difficulties away, not give us the strength to endure them.

Judas arrived at Gethsemane with a great multitude, from the chief priests to the elders, with swords and clubs. He had told them whomever he kissed, that would be a sign that he was the one whom they should seize.

Later, after Jesus had been on trial and was condemned, Judas was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. He declared to them, "I have betrayed innocent blood." He threw down the money in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.

Pilate gave the people the choice between whom to release; Jesus or Barabbas, who was a notorious prisoner. The people yelled, "Barabbas!" They then cried out to let Jesus be crucified. Jesus was flogged, then sent to be crucified.

The governor's soldiers gathered around Jesus, stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. They twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a reed in His hand. Then they all bowed down and mocked Him saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They spat upon Him and hit Him on the head. Afterwards, they put His clothes back on Him and took Him to be crucified. They gave Him sour wine to drink, which He refused. Then He was nailed to a cross; after being stripped of all His clothes. Standing at the foot of the cross the soldiers began casting lots for who got His clothes.

Two robbers were crucified on either side of Him. People would pass by and blaspheme Him, while wagging their heads. Likewise, the chief priests, scribes, and elders were mocking Him saying, "He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said 'I am the Son of God.'"

Jesus' cried out right before His death, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"

In that moment of time, Jesus felt like His Father had forsaken Him. He felt like He had been abandoned by God. In that one day, Jesus had been betrayed by one of His disciples, denied three times by another, put on trial by both Pilate and Herod, heard people cry out for a notorious prisoner to be released instead of Him, was ridiculed and mocked, beaten, had a crown of thorns smashed into His scalp, was spit upon, given sour wine when He was thirsty, was stripped of all His clothes and crucified naked upon a cross. While He hung there in pain and humiliation, soldiers stood to the side gambling for His clothes, while the chief priests, scribes, elders, and people from the mob walked by mocking and ridiculing Him.

Why did Jesus endure all that pain and suffering? He did it out of His deep, heartfelt love for you and for me, and for every man and woman who have ever walked upon the face of this earth. He did it because He had compassion and mercy for us, and knew that we couldn't pay the price for redemption for ourselves. He did it because He wanted there to be a way that we could receive forgiveness of our sins. Jesus knew this was the one and only way that we could ever be reconciled to God. There was a sacrifice that had to be given in exchange for our sins, and He loved us so much, that He was willing to give His life for us. Jesus was willing to endure the cross so that we could have the promise of salvation and eternal life.

In comparison to what Jesus endured for me, my problems and difficult circumstances seem extremely small. When I feel the most overwhelmed, is when I need to take the most time and read the Word of God and pray, and remember the price that was paid for my salvation. Just as God never deserted Jesus during His time of torture and suffering, He will never forsake or leave us. Sometimes we need to stop relying on our feelings. How our flesh feels is not always accurate. There have been times when I've had to say, "Okay God, I don't feel that You're listening to me, I don't feel that You care, I don't feel that You understand, I don't feel that You're here with me; nevertheless, I choose, by faith, to love You and to believe that You love me and are here with me." Sometimes we need to look beyond our feelings, and have faith to believe.

May none of us look at Easter as just being another holiday. May it not be just a time to get together with family, or dress in our Sunday best, or have an egg hunt for the kids. But may we all take to heart the true message of what Easter really means, and celebrate the ultimate gift given to us by Jesus.

When you are feeling weak or overwhelmed, remember that Jesus truly does understand what you're going through. He knows how and what we feel. The love that Jesus has for us is unconditional and unwavering. At times when I'm feeling forsaken or overlooked by God, I remember the words to a children's song. It's a song that most of us, more than likely, know and is simple in it's message; but it's a good reminder for us each and every day.

"Yes Jesus loves me. Yes Jesus loves me. Yes Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so."


Christmas is always celebrated with enthusiasm and excitement. But Easter seems much more solemn. I can understand that, since Easter comes so soon after Good Friday. But I don't agree with it. Sure, Christmas celebrates Christ coming to this mortal world to save us. But Easter celebrates His return from the grave. Without Easter, Christmas wouldn't be that important.

I don't mean that Christmas isn't a great holiday to celebrate. I just think that Easter is more important.

But the Bible tells us how the first Easter was celebrated (true, it spanned a few days). The disciples who were still able came together, spoke with Jesus, and celebrated. I don't imagine there was anything solemn about it. Their Savior who was dead to them was alive and well. He had defeated death, and was able to offer them salvation and eternal life. Of course they celebrated with enthusiasm and excitement.


Mexican Surprise Cake

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 tsp. Baking soda

2 eggs

2 tsp. Vanilla

1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple with juice

1 cut chopped nuts

Mix ingredients together. Bake in 9x13 pan on 350 for 35 minutes.


1 stick butter -- softened

1 pkg. Cream cheese -- softened

1 tsp. Vanilla

1 cups powdered sugar

Mix ingredients together until smooth. Spread on top of cooled cake.


Growing up, Mama always made sure that we girls had a new dress to wear for Easter. When I was young, she would always sew them for us. We usually always got a new pair of shoes to wear with it. Easter Sunday was a day when everyone would dress up and come to church looking all "spit and polished".

When my sister, Janie, was probably around age twelve, she was at that age between wanting to still be a kid and participate in the egg hunt after church, but yet wanting to look grown up. She wore her first pair of thigh-high hose that Easter Sunday. After church she had her basket and was planning on taking part in the egg hunt. But she found out that thigh-high's weren't made for chubby legs. As she began walking around outside and bending over to pick up eggs, her hose began sliding down her legs. There were steps in back of the church that consisted of boards lying across cement blocks. She made her way over to them and sat down. One of the men in the church, who had hid the eggs, thought she was sitting down there to look for the golden egg. He kept telling her, "You're getting hot, you're getting hot;" meaning that she was right next to the golden egg. Her thigh-high hose had already fallen down to her knees and she knew if she stood up, that they would fall down around her ankles. She told him that she decided that she didn't want to hunt eggs anymore. He kept trying to get her to get up and look for the golden egg; knowing that she was practically sitting on top of it. That was the last time she ever wore thigh-high hose; and the last time she ever hunted Easter eggs.


One Bible in the hand is worth more than two on the shelf. - (seen on a church sign)


We love you!

Loretta & Jon