Tag Archives: Resurrection

Strong Women

VW FamilyWhen they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. Luke 24:9-12 (NIV)

I am married to a very strong, intelligent woman. I have raised two very strong, capable daughters, and a very capable sister-in-law is living with us now. I’m surrounded by strong women and have been for many years. If there is even a hint of misogyny in the air, I’ve learned to recognize it because I’ve learned over time what sets the ladies of the VW household off.

Let me tell you that my misogyny detector was going off loud and clear when I read this morning’s chapter. The women who had been strong followers of Jesus (and, at least in the case of Joanna, most certainly a financial supporter) come running back from the empty tomb sharing what they witnessed. The response of the men:

But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.

BEEP * BEEP * BEEP * BEEP * BEEP

Mistake. These were not flighty women. They had been companions and supporters of the cause for a long time. This was not one raving lunatic, it was several people all saying the same thing. The men, however, dismiss the ladies and their account. Only Peter and John had enough of a shred of faith to make a personal investigation of their claims.

Today, I’m thankful for strong women in my life, and I’m grateful for the life lessons they have taught me. I have had to learn a thing or two along my journey about my own prejudices of gender and the subtle misogynistic notions that I’ve held. I love that Jesus cared deeply for women and honored them in sharp contrast to the deeply misogynistic culture of His day. I like to try and follow that example.

New Life Emerges Out of Death

celtic cross tatHe who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5 (NIV)

A decade ago, this verse from Revelation was about to take on tremendous meaning for me. Upon hearing and digesting my story, I’ll never forget the word picture my therapist gave for my troubled, seventeen year marriage:

It seems to me that you and your wife have been standing over the casket of your dead marriage for many years, but neither of you have been willing to acknowledge its death.”

Ugh. Divorce was not a snap decision. It was not what I had intended. Yet, there I was standing at a place on life’s road I had never intended on ending up. It was painful. It was hard. It is never pleasant walking through valley of death’s shadow no matter what it is that has died.

In those days I learned to cling to hope that at the other end of the valley of the shadow of death lies the house of the Lord. God redeems broken things. Easter, after all, is about resurrection. New life emerges from that which is dead. Behold, God makes all things new. I even had the Rev 21:5 referenced in the crux of the Celtic cross tattooed on my back during that particular stretch of my journey (it was my first tat).

I am glad to look back across a decade. I have experienced much, learned much, grown much, and I see things with greater clarity than when I was in the chaos of those stressful moments. This Sunday, as Wendy, Taylor, Suzanna and I celebrate Easter together, I have a deeper and more profound understanding of resurrection. I have experienced a kind of death and resurrection which at once provides me evidence of Easter Sunday and foreshadowing of today’s chapter.

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Chapter-a-Day John 20

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. John 20:19 (NLT)

The religious leaders of Jerusalem had conspired and in less than 24 hours they had apprehended, tried and executed Jesus. If they were so intent on killing their master, it would make sense for them to go after Jesus’ core disciples as well. They could make a clean sweep and be rid of this pesky sect that had caused so many headaches for them.

It is not surprising that Jesus’ followers were shut up behind locked doors fearing for their lives. They had nothing with which to defend themselves. They were uneducated men from the rural Galilee region in the north. They had no money, no political power, and they were in grief over the death of their master. They had alway depended on Jesus to lead them and tell them where they were going and what they should do. Now, they were distraught, afraid, leaderless and utterly without direction or hope.

So, what happened over the course of the following six weeks that changed this fearful, directionless, uneducated lot into a fearless, impassioned, articulate group of men boldly standing up in public to proclaim that Jesus was alive? In fact, all twelve would eventually spread out around the known world to experience persecution, torture and death in order to share with others the story of Jesus, His death and His resurrection.

Today I’m thinking about the fact that following Jesus and experiencing a relationship with Him results in changed lives. Death becomes life. Hate becomes love. Bitterness becomes forgiveness. Selfishness becomes selflessness. Prejudice becomes grace. I see that change in the story and testimony of Jesus’ first followers. I’ve seen it in countless others. I’ve experienced it in my own life, and I pray to experience increasingly more each day.

Day 21: Something You Can’t Seem to Get Over

尖沙咀K11購物藝術館商場 Category:Deborah Butterfield - C...
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30 Day Blogging Challenge Day 21: Something you can’t seem to get over.

I’ve come to learn that there are some events in life that you never truly “get over,” nor do I believe you should. They become a part of your journey. Some events, whether positive or negative, become a waypoint; they are a demarkation point of your life. They were a factor in determining your course, they become a part of your story, and a part of who you are.

When I was going through divorce I had a dear friend who’d been there before tell me that the day her divorce was official “was the worst day and the best day of my life.” I’ve never forgotten the words and have learned the truth of them. Friday, May 13, 2005 was a huge waypoint in the journey from which the course is forever altered. There are feelings of sorrow and pangs of failure that are forever attached to the event. And, yet, God is a God of resurrection and redemption specializing in creating new life out of things which have withered and died. I look at the present abundance of life and joy I daily experience and marvel at how the Creator never ceases His artistic pursuits of using broken, dead things to create new expressions of life.

 Resurrection comes with the prerequisite of death. There’s no getting over it.

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Chapter-a-Day Numbers 17

Aaron's rod
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Moses walked into the Tent of Testimony the next day and saw that Aaron’s staff, the staff of the tribe of Levi, had in fact sprouted—buds, blossoms, and even ripe almonds! Numbers 17:8 (MSG)

God is a God of life. God is a God of redemption. God is a God of resurrection.

In God, old and dead things sprout new life.
A barren staff bears fruit.
Nothing is impossible.

Today, I’m comforted in this reminder.

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Chapter-a-Day Jeremiah 30

“This is God’s Message:

   “‘You’re a burned-out case,
   as good as dead.
Everyone has given up on you.
   You’re hopeless. Jeremiah 30:12 (MSG)

The road rises and falls on this journey through life. There are peaks, and always there are very deep valleys – shadow of death valleys. And the experience of clawing your way out of those valleys leaves marks. Sometimes physical, often emotional, always spiritual – they forever remind us that we were or are (perhaps we are once more) a “burned out case, as good as dead.”

Divorce, abuse, addiction, abandonment, affliction, handicap, depression, disorder, disease, imprisonment, sin, stupidity…the list could go on. We all have our crosses to bear. The valley of death’s shadow is part of the journey to Life. God is a God of resurrection and you can’t be resurrected unless you are dead. You can’t be redeemed if you have not been lost and sold over that from which you need redemption.

Jesus had scars too. The nail holes were still there when he rose from the grave, as was the hole in his side from the spear that ripped his heart apart. He showed them off. He let his friends see them and touch them. His scars were a landmark, pointing to the most critical and necessary part of his journey – his death. If he hadn’t of died there would be no resurrection, no redemption, no hope, no life, no ascension.

Chill for a second. We all walk through the valley of the shadow of death. It’s on the path that leads to dwelling in the house of the lord forever. Without going through it, well, “you can’t get there from here.”  Don’t worry about your scars. We all have them. Don’t hide them. Acknowledge them. They are an important part of your journey.

Press on.

Chapter-a-Day Romans 10

The Resurrection from Grünewald's Isenheim Alt...
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Say the welcoming word to God—”Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. Romans 10:9-10 (MSG)

I’m often intimidated by do-it-yourself projects. Convinced that it’s got to be infinitely complex, and further convinced I’m in no way good enough or qualified to do it, I shy away from starting the project in the first place. When I finally take the step of faith to launch into the project, I usually find that it was a lot simpler than I believed.

I find others response to God is a similar thing. Convinced that getting their lives right with God is a terribly complex process frought with all sorts of personal hardship, self-sacrifice and a religious to-do list for which they are not good enough – they simply avoid the issue altogether.

But, God’s Message makes it clear. Salvation is as simple as taking the step of faith to say “Jesus is my Lord & Master,” and believing in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead.

 Painting by Mattias Grunwald (part of the Isenheim Altarpiece)
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