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Monday, March 27, 2017

Willing Savior Pt 2



There in the garden, they had Him surrounded. The betrayer did the dirty deed through an intimate kiss. Now they closed ranks to seize Him.

The peaceful garden of Gethsemane broke loose in chaos. Swords flashed, blood flowed, and then His words stop everyone. The words still stop our hearts. 

 Put your sword back. People who live by the sword die by the sword. Surely you realize that if I called on My Father, He would send 12 legions of messengers to rescue Me. But if I were to do that, I would be thwarting the scriptural story, wouldn’t I? And we must allow the story of God’s kingdom to unfold. 

Why did you bring these weapons, these clubs and bats? Did you think I would fight you? That I would try to dodge and escape like a common criminal? You could have arrested Me any day when I was teaching in the temple, but you didn’t.

This scene has come together just so, so that the prophecies in the sacred Scripture could be fulfilled. Matthew 26:52-56 The Voice Bible

Get ready...hold on to your seats! Because this is a powerful life changing truth. Jesus wasn’t forced to die. He could have stopped it. He could have called down armies of angels to clean house. 

He did it willingly. The Almighty God allowed Himself to be betrayed, led away and killed. He was a willing, suffering Savior. Jesus entered my hot mess of a life. He dove deep in my pain and suffering; Felt. it. all.

So this begs the question...if He was willing to suffer and die for me, then how much more is He willing to transform my life? And how willing is He to love me? 

And that is where it gets difficult sometimes. Because to be honest I don’t feel worthy to be loved like that. I am well aware of how unlovely I can be. The enemy of my soul hisses in my ear that I am not worth it. He could never love me. Ugly thoughts harass and torment me. But that’s not the truth is it?

The life changing truth is that we’re not talking about mere human love. This is God’s love. His love isn’t a “soft”, “mushy”, “fickle” kind of love. His love is fiery, passionate, and righteous. 

He never began to love you. He has always loved you. And He will never stop loving you. “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3 

I think Charles Spurgeon says it so beautifully: 

He loved you without beginning, before years and centuries and millenniums can be counted, your name was on His heart. Eternal thoughts of love have been in God’s bosom towards you. He has loved you without pause. There was never a minute in which He did not love you. Your name once engraved on the palm of His hands has never been erased. Nor will He ever blot it out of the book of life. 

Since you have been in this world He has loved you most patiently. You have often provoked Him. You have rebelled against Him times without number, yet He has never stopped the outflow of His heart towards you. And, blessed be His name, He never will! You are His and you always shall be His. Jesus says, "Because I live, you shall live also." God's love to you is without boundary. He could not love you more, for He loves you like a God—and He never will love you less. All His heart belongs to you. "As the Father has loved Me," says Jesus, "even so have I loved you."

This transforming, powerful love changed my life forever. I don’t understand it. I even question it at times. Nevertheless, He has my heart. This is what you and I were created for. No other will fill our emptiness. 


He’s wooing you now. He’ll never stop drawing you. Even to death’s door He will call to you. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Willing Savior Pt 1


We all have our own unique cross to bear. We each have burdens, sufferings, and painful situations. Most of the time we don’t have a choice. We can’t avoid it. We just shoulder it and go on. 

But if you were to give me a choice? Would I choose to suffer? To go through pain? No thank you. I would never choose to do so. I want to avoid it if I can. 

But what about carrying someone else’s cross? Shouldering someone else’s burdens and pain? Well, I can help a little. But no matter how much I love them, and want to help, I’m only human. I can only do so much. 

But if I could do it, would I do it willingly? That’s a tough question. I don’t know if I would, to be honest. Sometimes with the ones I love the best, I may feel like I would. I don’t like to see them suffer. Or anyone for that matter. But what about someone who deserves punishment? 

Would I take someone else’s punishment for a crime I didn’t commit? I may feel like a noble, good person, but deep down...I just don’t know if I would do that. After all, sometimes they just plain deserve it. 

Well.....I deserved punishment. I am guilty of sin. I was Simon Peter who fell at Jesus feet and cried, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” Luke 5:8  I was Judas who betrayed Him for coin. I was much worse. 

I was born into sin. Nobody had to teach me how to sin, I just did it. It was my nature. It rose up within me, like a underground spring. You can’t cap this. So what’s the answer? 

Do all the good works I can to gain God’s favor? Follow all the rules to a T? Go to church every time the door opens? Give all my money to charity? Or just turn a cold shoulder to God and pretend I don’t care? 

I so love Paul’s vulnerability when he shares the his struggle with the sin problem; But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help!

 I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. Romans 6:17-25 The Message Bible

Yes, thank God, Jesus Christ can and does! Paul goes on to share this gospel, (good news) in the next few verses:

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that. Romans 8:1-4 The Message Bible

Dear friend, let this soak in your spirit. Drink it in. It stirs my spirit. Jesus entered my hot mess of a life and took my punishment. He dove deep in my pain and suffering; Felt. it. all. He set me free. I now have a spring of life, bubbling up within me. Wholeness, joy and peace. 


It’s a gift, a free gift. Yet bought with a price by a willing, suffering Savior. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Rambling Thursdays



Winter is winding down and I’m beginning to plan my garden. When it gets into March, I get restless for Spring. Yet I have done a little work outside. I’ve pruned bushes and the peach trees. Tulips, daffodils, and grape hyacinths are peeking out of the ground. 

I’m primarily a flower gardener, yet I love my vegetable garden as well. Flowers are my passion. I’m willing to try new species. I’ve had some fail miserably and others prove a lovely surprise. I keep track of these successes and failures in a journal I’ve kept for about five years now. 

The journal is great for collecting pictures, store tags, and any useful information. I even have a section for garden quotes. I highly recommend it. In today’s Rambling Thursday’s edition, I thought I would share some ideas for your garden this summer. 

Elderberry: This is something new I planted a couple of years ago. It’s a small shrub that I planted at the back of a border. It exceeded my expectations. It has beautiful lacy foliage with pink flowers. It almost looks like a Japanese maple. Very easy to grow. Plant in the sun or partial shade. You may have to prune it every year. Other than that, not much work at all to maintain. 

Anise hyssop: This is my favorite flower. The flowers are pretty lavender spires. Other colors may be available. Very easy to grow, in fact, it thrives just about anywhere. I’ve transplanted a few plants from one flower. 

It can get a bit tall, so it’s a good back of the border plant. The leaves smell like licorice. Another plus...the butterflies and bees adore it. 

Heliopsis.  Another very easy flower to grow. Almost like miniature sunflowers. It’s thrives in the sun. As long as you dead head the spent flowers, it will bloom till fall. 

It can get a bit tall and fill out quite well. So give it plenty of room. It transplants well also. 

I’m sure you are seeing a pattern by now. Easy to grow, transplants well. That’s how I roll! I’ve done all the work, so learn from me. 

Butterfly resting on a Pholx


Coral Bells: I’ve grown to love these plants. They are similar to Hostas, only smaller and more colorful. Beautiful foliage and some have delicate flowers. They grow in partial to full shade. Easy to grow. They are small, squat plants, so you’ll have to put them in front. There are many varieties and colors. 

Catmint: I discovered this flower a few years ago. Fragrant leaves and purple spires. You can’t go wrong with this one. Very easy to grow. Loves full sun, but probably partial shade will be fine. It will bloom until fall. It’s a small plant, but will widen, so give it room. Butterflies and bees love it. 

Butterfly Bush: If you love lilacs, you’ll love Butterfly bushes. It’s a woody plant that produces small lilac like flowers. Once planted, they will establish themselves for years in your garden. They will get tall and wide. Full sun is needed. If you deadhead the spent flowers, it will continue to bloom into late summer/early fall. You will need to prune it back at the end of the season. Hummingbirds, butterflies and bees love this plant. 

Tiger Lily 


Baptista Bush: This is another similar bush that has become a favorite. My neighbor gave me a start off hers. It has beautiful purple spire flowers and pretty cool foliage. It almost reminds me of a pea vine. It blooms in early summer, but the bush is pretty enough on it’s own. 

Once planted, it will establish itself for many years. So plan on not moving it. 

Hydrangea: I’ve kind of flirted with the idea for years about getting these beautiful shrubs, but have frankly been intimidated. How fussy are they? Is it worth it? I bought a couple and loved them. They love morning sun and afternoon shade. So I found a perfect place to plant them. 

There are a few different kinds, so I would do my research online before you buy. They are beginning to show signs of growth now, so they aren’t exactly delicate in our Indiana winters. I don’t regret planting them. They are beautiful. 

Peony: Of course you must have Peonies! What would spring be without their beautiful, mop head flowers? And wow, so fragrant! They don’t like to be moved about, so make sure to plant them in an well established spot. But once you planted them, that’s about all the work you’ll have to do. 
Just pruning them down after blooming is all the work required here. 

Coneflowers: I love these daisy like flowers. Again, very easy to grow, transplants well, and blooms till fall. Many different colors to choose from. I have many and can’t resist another pretty face when I see one at my local greenhouse. You can’t go wrong with a coneflower. 

All the flowers I’ve listed above are Perennials. They will come back year after year. They’ve been my proven favorites through the years. Start a bed with these in it and you’ll have a great flower garden. Don’t be afraid to try new ones though. Do your research first and go for it. 


Happy gardening!