More than Bunnies and Baskets

“Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified’”—John 12:23 (NIV).

Writing this, I’m distracted by the view outside my office window. A cardinal is enjoying my bird bath while a red-headed woodpecker is gorging at the suet feeder. The difference in these two is a reminder of God’s amazing grace. He didn’t have to create such diverse beauty. But He did.

As we enter Holy Week, I’m reminded of another thing God didn’t have to do. But He did. He sent His only Son to die for our sins. How amazing is His grace!

In an article by writer Cheryl Magness, she offers eight simple Holy Week observances to prepare us for Easter.  She says, “Easter is about more than bunnies and baskets. Here’s how you can transcend the commercial, and spend more time reverently preparing for Easter Sunday.”

  1. Observe Palm Sunday by attending church. Palm Sunday was a turning point in Jesus’ ministry and life. Riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus was hailed as a King. His followers waved and then threw down palm branches in His path. Five days later, they deserted Him.
  2. During Holy Week, listen to sacred music.
  3. Read the narration of the story of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection by reading through one of the gospels. Magness suggests the gospel of Luke.
  4. Attend other Holy Week services. Says Magness, “Holy Week is framed by Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, but what happens between is what makes the Sundays make sense. Many churches offer other Holy Week services.” Those days include Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil. While not all churches observe these, try to find one that does.
  5. Observe a Mini-Lenten if you didn’t get around to participating in a Lenten discipline. Magness suggests engaging in an act of sacrifice or devotion beginning Palm Sunday and carrying through Easter Sunday. Give up something for that week or commit to a daily activity, like a Bible reading plan, to help your mind focus on Holy Week.
  6. Participate in a mini-fast, either full or modified starting from the end of Good Friday worship through sundown on Saturday. Magness says, “You don’t have to give up all sustenance to reap the spiritual benefit of fasting.” You might simply eat less, eat more simply or even skip a meal to draw you closer to the Lord.
  7. Unplug your TV, shut down the computer and cell phone and sign off social media. Doing one or more could also be one of your Holy Week disciplines to stay tuned in to God’s amazing story.
  8. If you do decide to stay plugged in, use your social media to proclaim the week’s events through Bible passages and links to articles about God’s mercy and promises to redeem His creation.

“The list above is not meant to be a burden but a blessing,” she adds. God’s not keeping score. But don’t miss church on Easter Sunday where you’ll hear of God’s unconditional love for you.

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We Are His Marvelous Works

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well”—Psalm 139:14 (NKJV).

Sharing the Good News and encouraging others in their faith walk is my passion. My other passion is my grandchildren. In May, we will welcome grandchild number seven, a girl.

For Christmas, I received a journal from my future granddaughter, courtesy of her mother. Inscribed in ink on the inside cover is the following: “Nana, Please use this journal to write your favorite scriptures, recipes and stories just for me!”

Her parents have chosen the name Ruby for granddaughter number three. When my daughter-in-law mentioned the name to my son, she wasn’t aware that Ruby was my mother’s name.

As Ruby’s grandmother, I want to impart how “fearfully and wonderfully made” she is by a loving Heavenly Father. Her older siblings and her cousins will be a wonderful example.  I continually remind them of the importance of “living for Jesus” because He is what matters most in life.

In a Noisy World

In today’s noisy world, it’s often difficult to stay focused on Jesus. For today’s generation, the opportunities to become distracted are more prevalent than ever before.

When I grew up in the 50s and 60s, we didn’t have the myriad options available today. Nature was our playground, where God’s creation spoke to us of His marvelous works.

Good news: 13-year-old donates toys to hospital

For six years, a 13-year-old Columbus, Ohio, boy has been raising money to buy toys to give away at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. This year, Caleb Silvia raised $5,000 to buy 500 toys for those who are hospitalized at Christmas.

Caleb, who founded Caleb Cares 4 Kids, which is an Ohio nonprofit LLC,  knows what it’s like to experience hospital smells and lie in a hospital bed. For Caleb, his fundraising and helping others is personal.

When Caleb was 2-years-old, he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder called Kawasaki Disease and spent time at Nationwide where he recalls the toy cart. Although he’s been free of the disease for years now, he recalls what it’s like to be in the hospital.

At 8 years of age, Caleb decided to donate some toys to the children in the hospital at Christmas. Now, his efforts have grown. Recently, Caleb and his family brought two vans overflowing with toys. They were met at the door by hospital employees who helped load up the carts and distribute the toys.

Says Caleb, “The ability to give back to a place close to my heart … it’s just something I feel passionate about.”


What does the Lord Require of You?

“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?”—Micah 6:8 (NASB).

During a 911 response last month, Kentucky police officer John Nissen went beyond the call of duty. On July 24, the veteran cop of more than 17 years, and his partner-in-training, received a dispatch call concerning a distressed female motorist, according to Fox News. Barbie Henderson had pulled over on the side of a Hillview, Kentucky highway.

“All we knew from the dispatch,” says Nissen, “was there was a crying woman who needed help in her car.”

When the officers approached Henderson’s vehicle, she opened the door for them. “We could see she was visibly upset,” said Nissen. “She told us her sister had passed away.”

Henderson said she was “upset, screaming and hollering” upon receiving the news of her sister’s passing while she was driving. “My first reaction was to call 911,” she explains.

After talking to Henderson, Nissen asked if he could sit with her. “I wanted to talk to her and see if I could get her cooled down a bit,” he said. “I turned the air vents towards her—it was over 90 degrees that day—held her hand, and she cried on my shoulder. I also had her take sips of water.”