The Sun of Righteousness Arose

“Ay, but when we go down, down, down, is it not a blessed thing that Jesus Christ of the seed of David died, and was raised from the dead? If I sink right down among the dead men yet will I hold to this blessed hope, that as Jesus rose again from the dead, so also shall my joy, my usefulness, my hope, my spirit rise.” -Charles Spurgeon

I walk down to the dock just after 6 a.m. on Easter to find a thin blanket of fog shrouding the lake.

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All is calm. No wind. No waves. The water is a glassy mirror, a perfect reflection of the sky above.

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The only movements are the ripples the ducks make gliding across the water.

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A red-winged blackbird perches atop a new birdhouse built for the wood ducks. He stands tall and attentively, singing his happy, trilling song. Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing in praise right along with him.

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But in the stillness, in the waiting for a glimpse of glory, I catch a whiff of something downright rotten. Floating among the cattails are dozens of dead carp — fish that didn’t survive being down, down, down below the thick ice of this deeply frozen lake.

Up they have come now with the thaw, and this stench of death is foul. Charles Wesley’s words keep coming to mind.

“His blood can make the foulest clean, His blood availed for me.”

I was once dead in my sins and stinking something awful, worse even than the rotten stench of these dead fish.

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4 

Oh, the triumphs of His grace this Easter morning!

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The light fog starts to lift a bit. And the sun rises, and all I can think of is the glory of how the Son rises, too. The Son rises, too. The Light of the World.

I see all the glory of it above me and the perfect reflection of that glory here below.

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“On this glad day the glorious Sun of Righteousness arose…”

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“Glory to God, and praise and love be ever, ever given, by saints below and saints above, the church in earth and heaven.” Charles Wesley 

Whiter than Snow

Reposting from the deep down in the archives… Happy Good Friday and Happy Easter!

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Except for a few small patches, nearly all of the snow that had been covering our lawn since Dec. 1, 2007, melted earlier this week. We all rejoiced to be finally rid of that old snow; it had turned ugly and gray over the last three months.

On Wednesday Linnea was able to ride her bicycle and play outside all afternoon. Laurel blew bubbles and scooted around on her trike. Neighbors we hadn’t seen in months came up the street to chat. The hope of spring that had sustained us through this long, bitter winter was finally becoming a reality!

But today it’s a different story. It’s Good Friday and the first full day of spring according to the calendar. But just like Jesus’ disciples felt on Good Friday, we’re feeling confused and discouraged. It’s snowing. Actually, it’s blizzarding. We must have nearly six inches of fluffy white stuff out there right now, and it’s still piling up! We’ve lost a little hope.

So what does snow have to do with Good Friday? After David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, the prophet Nathan came to him and encouraged him to repent of his sins. David wrote Psalm 51, and in verse 7 he says to God, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”

Likewise, Isaiah 1:18 says “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”

All week I’ve been reminding Linnea and Laurel that Easter isn’t about brightly colored eggs or tasty chocolate bunnies. It’s about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. It’s about Jesus paying the blood sacrifice so that we, like David, can be made whiter than snow.

So even in the midst of a March blizzard, we still have hope. We have hope that spring will arrive and the rain will wash away our snow. The grass will reappear and turn green. The birds will return. The trees will bud and the flowers will bloom.

Though our hope for spring may come and go, our hope in Jesus will continue. He cleanses us and gives us a fresh new beginning. He will not disappoint us. He is risen indeed!

Hymns for the Next Generation

In our home library we have a lovely set of books that we use off and on for teaching hymns during our family devotions. The “Hymns for a Kid’s Heart” series by Bobbie Wolgemuth and Joni Eareckson Tada is truly a treasure.

Each book comes with a full-length music CD, which is produced quite well and features very pleasant children’s voices. For each hymn they include about five to six pages. Two pages focus on the hymn story, usually about the life of the hymn’s author. There’s also a one-page devotion, one sheet of music, words of all the verses, a corresponding scripture, and a prayer. In the back of each book is a glossary of words that may be unfamiliar for children, like “bulwark” and “wretch.” The books also include beautiful illustrations in color.

This four-volume series would be excellent to incorporate into your homeschool curriculum or as a regular part of your church’s Sunday School program. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all children could belt out a few classic hymns?

With Easter just a few weeks away, Passion Hymns for a Kid’s Heart would be a fantastic book to start your own collection of this series. It features stories to help kids understand more about God’s character and the meaning of the Cross.

Happy reading and singing!

Show Me Something Glorious

Today is Good Friday. The calendar also says it is Earth Day. 

So shall we cry “Save the Earth!” or will we proclaim “Jesus Saves!” — that’s really the question.

Whom will we worship today? Will we worship the Creator of the universe? Or will we worship the creation?

Don’t misunderstand me. I marvel at God’s creation and feel strongly about being a good steward of it. When I slow down to accept and enjoy what God has created, I learn so much about His character. 

“Show me something glorious and I’ll show you the Maker of it all.”

-“Something Glorious” by Revive

Romans 1 talks about how God’s creation makes plain to all men God’s eternal power and divine nature. Looking all around us, seeing what God has made, we are without excuse for believing in God! He is the One behind it all.

Yet mankind is foolish. We fail to see Him. We fail to glorify God, we fail to give Him thanks, and we exchange “the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” (verse 23) We worship false gods.

Oh, Father, forgive us. Forgive me.

How many times have I exchanged the truth of God for a lie? How often have I worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator? (verse 25) 

In “A Christian Response to Earth Day,” Doug Phillips at VisionForum says:

…man’s problems will never be solved through the elevation of human reason, the power of science, or the interventions of the state. Nor will rescuing the biosphere of planet earth save man or ensure him a future on this planet. You cannot save the earth. But human beings can be saved. And the only hope of salvation is found in Jesus Christ — the Creator! It is this Creator through whom we live and breathe and who by the very power of His word holds the worlds together. He will someday establish a new heaven and a new earth and will bring all of His people into Glory.”

And in “Why God Created the Universe — for Good Friday, Pastor John Piper explains:

The universe was created for the glorification of God’s grace at Calvary.”

With the shedding of Jesus’ blood on Calvary, our sins have been forgiven. As David Crowder sings, there is grace enough for us and the whole human race! Oh, happiness! And oh happy day! He has washed our sins away!

So let’s thank God! Let’s rise up and dance our shoes off!

Easter Thoughts

I’m knee-deep into a feature story I’m writing this week before Holy Week, but my brain needs a quick break from all things beef-retail-related. So I thought I’d escape by sharing some random thoughts about Easter.

I love Easter, and one tradition we added a few years ago is telling the passion story with the help of resurrection eggs from ChristianBook.com. (With a little work, you can also make your own.) Our daughters really look forward to opening each egg. I took the eggs to church last year and opened them with my Pre-K/K Sunday School class, and they also were captivated by what was inside.

A few weeks ago I purchased a new Easter book called The Sparrow’s Easter Song, which we’ve already read a few times. It’s a wonderfully written and illustrated story about a sparrow who witnesses Jesus’s death and resurrection and tells all the other animals about it.

Another favorite Easter book just for kids is The Parable of the Lily  by Liz Curtiz Higgs. It paints a beautiful picture of forgiveness and is especially fitting for little girls.

Linnea, Laurel and I are working through a book/music CD called Passion Hymns for a Kid’s Heart to help them learn some of my favorite Easter hymns. This week they’ve been learning “Up From the Grave He Arose,” which has such a lively tune. Hearing it brings me right back to the pews of the Methodist church where I grew up.

I also have a new favorite Easter hymn, one I just learned last year. It’s “Jesus Paid It All,” and I absolutely love this version of it by Kristian Stanfill. You will, too! (Side note: This hymn is not one of those included in the book Passion Hymns for a Kid’s Heart.)

Also, just for fun, check out my cute little snow bunnies in the Good Friday post I wrote two years ago: Whiter Than Snow. They’ve grown so much even since last Easter!