A wooden cross with the words "He has risen" spelled out with rustic alphabet blocks.  Isolated on white.

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. Mark 16:4


Nelson Mandela was a South African political activist who spent over two decades in prison for his opposition to “apartheid,” or “separateness.” From the end of World War II until 1994, the government in South Africa curtailed the rights, associations and movements of the black inhabitants and other ethnic groups, while white minority rule was maintained. in 1990 President Frederik Willem de Klerk began negotiations to end apartheid. When Mandela was released from prison later that year, he said, “As I walked…toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” In a multi-racial election held in 1994, Nelson Mandela won the presidency of South Africa by a landslide. He was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.


As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, let us consider whether we need to be “freed” from some of life’s burdens. Do we need to roll away the stones from our own “tombs” in order to be truly free? Are those burdens unbelief or confusion? Perhaps doubt or apprehension plaques us. Shame or guilt, bitterness or hated may hinder us from moving forward and living life more fully. And that old standby used by the enemy, fear, may paralyze us and render us incapable in devoting our lives to Christ.


I spent years following a brutal assault wondering if I could stay sane another minute. The very act of moving through a normal day brought terror and anxiety. But through the years, God continued to show me the beauty of His creation and the kindness of the good people in the world. Miracles, large and small, showed me God’s boundless power and love. The phrase “do not be afraid” appears in the Bible 365 times, one for each new day that awaits us. That’s a daily reminder from God to live every day fearlessly. Christ conquered death by rolling the stone away from His grave and proving that He had come back to life. He can roll those stones away for us as well. Arise! His power awaits us.


What wondrous Love is this, that my Savior died for me and for my shortcomings, fears, and limitations! Thank You, Lord, for Your unspeakable gift. Amen




BarabbasSo Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will. Luke 23:24


The Bible doesn’t say much about Barabbas. All we know is that he was a prisoner of the Romans, most likely arrested for taking place in an “insurrection” against the government, possibly committing murder in the process. On the surface, it appears Barabbas was at the right place at the right time. The Judean governor, Pontius Pilate, exercised a Passover custom of commuting one prisoner’s death sentence at the request of the Jewish people. It would appear that Pilate was actually trying to manipulate the people into allowing him to release Jesus, since the governor was not convinced of the Lord’s culpability. “But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed” (Matthew 27:20).


Some scholars believe that Barabbas was part of a very active revolt, and he must have had followers in the crowd to speak up on his behalf. Curiously, Barabbas means “son of the father,” and in older versions of the Bible, Barabbas’ first name is recorded as “Jesus,” a common Jewish name in that time. But the fact that both men were called, in essence, “Jesus, son of the father,” does not close the gap between their vastly different personalities.


I have always wondered if Barabbas had any idea Who had just taken the fall for him. After his release, did Barabbas skip town and lay low, reveling in his good fortune to be the one commuted prisoner for that year’s Passover? Or did he, as some academics believe, follow Jesus the true Son of God to Calvary and watch Him hang from the cross? I’d like to believe that Barabbas was transformed following his timely pardon and release, that he—like us—had a total change of heart and accepted Jesus as the Divine Man He was. In my ending of the story, Barabbas would have been given yet another chance: to fall at the feet of the Master, confess his sin, and be washed in the cleansing blood of the Man on that cross.


Redeeming Lord, You are the Lamb sacrificed for all of our sins, once for all. And one day, ever knee will bow and every tongue confess that You alone are Lord. Amen


Jesus_crippled_womanHe replied, “Go tell that fox [Herod}, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’” Luke 13:32


I love this passage! After Jesus heals a crippled woman, He asks the people this question: “What is the kingdom of God like?” He likens it to the tiny mustard seed growing into a huge shrub, and to yeast making all the dough rise, not just some of it. He wants people to understand the transformative power of God’s love that takes place when we believe in Jesus the Son of the Most High God, the Lord and Savior of our lives. Jesus tells the crowd, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door,” to learn and live according to God’s wonderful precepts.


Then “some Pharisees” come to warn Him that Herod seeks to kill Him. But our Lord has a most unusual reaction. He tells the men to tell Herod—“that fox”—to go fly a kite! Well, not exactly, but in so many words. Jesus plans to go right on “doing His thing,” healing the sick and driving out demons “today and tomorrow, and on the third day (He) will reach (His) goal.” He isn’t afraid of Herod because Jesus knows His death will come not by Herod’s calendar, but in God’s timing alone. Then Jesus gives us the most precious word picture of Himself sheltering His people like a mother hen guards her chicks. And no “fox” will be getting into His hen house!


During this Lenten season, we all know what’s coming: a last meal on Maundy Thursday, a Friday that is anything but “good,” and an Easter morning rolling away of the stone of separation, revealing our living Lord, safe and well and still in love with every one of us. Jesus’ divinity allows Him the clarity of purpose to laugh in Herod’s face because our Lord knows the battle has long since been won. Let’s turn our eyes and look into His loving countenance as we once again celebrate Jesus’ victory over our sin and our death. We will soon be home with Him in paradise.


Jesus, You “outfoxed” Herod and all those who refused to believe in You. Hear our chorus of praises to Your holy Name. Amen


PremieJesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14


Several weeks ago, an urgent prayer chain message circulated among the members of our church. A baby had been born several weeks premature, weighing less than two pounds. She was the size of a dollar bill. Our congregation prayed fervently as this tiny child fought for her life, hooked up to more tubes and machines than seemed possible for her little body to handle. So many medical concerns threatened her every breath. Then, word came that she was beginning to thrive, to gain weight. She and her parents still had a long and difficult road ahead of them. But the prayer warriors in our church could pray differently, with confidence, that this child would make it.


Last Saturday, my first great-granddaughter, Scarlett, was born to my twenty-year-old granddaughter. Scarlett came into this world easily, with no complications whatsoever. Her mom, my twenty-year-old granddaughter Jenna, was in labor less than two hours. She required no drugs of any kind; the birth was completely natural. Scarlett’s daddy, Jack, was in attendance, as were all the other family members except me. I was home sick in bed. It was nearly a week until I was well enough to visit this new little addition to our family.


In spite of the fact that I missed the “big event,” it struck me how very different these two births were. They were literally at the opposite ends of the spectrum on how births should go. Thankfully, the little preemie was ushered in with astounding medical advances that would not have been available a handful of years ago. Although my great-granddaughter’s debut was much less spectacular, both births are miracles. Both births were in the hands of a God Who loves these babies and cares for each hair on their tiny heads. Both families were grateful for these new little lives.


Jesus rebuked the disciples for shooing the children away from Him. He knew how important it was that these little ones be ushered into His presence at an early age. Praise His holy Name for the precious gift of babies!


Gracious Father, I am overjoyed that these two babies have come into Your world. Keep them safe from harm and allow them to grow in Your image. Amen