Money Spent

The prompts that Mama Kat has are so easy. Every week I get the email with the new prompts for the Thursday link up and there is always one that stands out. One that I have something that I know I can write about.

I know…. I know… you’re thinking, ‘well if they’re that easy why don’t you ever write?’ Good question and my answer is that I’m lazy. I’ve let blogging fall to the wayside and I’ve spent my time doing other things (getting my life in order more or less). Sometimes I’ve done nothing at all too, which is also pretty nice.

So the prompt I picked…. The most exciting thing you purchased this month….

Brass M - University of Michigan

The brass M marks the center of campus

Well, hands down I would have to say that the deposit to the University of Michigan where my daughter will be attending this fall! 

University of Michigan Union

Cait in front of the U of M union

It really was exciting to spend the better part of the day at U of M walking around the campus, taking in everything that was going on, listening to my daughter tell me about all the buildings and some of the history behind them (she’s been there on a few tours so she knows a lot).

Even in the middle of a Michigan spring where it’s a bit chilly, a little rainy, and lacking in leaves swaying in the breeze it was a beautiful campus. I can only imagine what it will look like come summer or even fall. The campus is right in the middle of Ann Arbor, nestled in a little valley, and is full of old trees, gorgeous architecture, and something new around every corner to explore.

University of Michigan law quad

University of Michigan law quad

I can’t wait to see the law quad when all the trees are full of fall color! I think that it’ll look even more like Hogworts then!

There is something exciting about putting down that deposit and not just for my daughter but for me as well. It’s a new chapter in our lives…. a little exciting, a little scary, and at times challenging.

High school has been a long road and it’s coming to an end for her and when fall comes she’ll be off to a place that she absolutely loves. Knowing that she loves it there makes it a little easier for me… also that it’s less than 2 hours away helps too.

So tell me…  what is the most exciting thing you’ve purchased this month? Can you top the U of M deposit?

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Why we celebrate this week – Day 7

 Well, we have made it to the end of the series from Vicki on why we celebrate this Holy week. I really do hope that those of you who have read through the series have enjoyed it and most importantly learned something from it. 

Was something moved in your heart?

Did you understand something in a different way?

 The last few entries have been dark, heavy, burdensome and even hopeless… BUT all of those things are removed because of the events of Day Seven! Following the Jewish Sabbath—the last day of their week—a new day and a new week dawned. Mary Magdalene, a devoted disciple of Jesus, carried a basket filled with the spices needed to anoint and prepare her beloved Jesus’ body for proper burial. As she approached the tomb where she had watched Jesus laid, she likely wondered how she would ever remove the rock covering its entrance. No need to wonder… for THE STONE WAS ROLLED AWAY and THE TOMB WAS EMPTY!Mary thought the Jews had taken Jesus’ body away. Angels told her not to ”…seek the LIVING among the dead… for He has RISEN!” Mary ran to tell the others. John ran to the tomb to see with his own eyes that his best friend was indeed alive. Peter ran to the tomb in hope that this might afford him a chance to be reconciled to the One he had denied. Everyone ran… but where was Jesus? Where was His body? After that initial period of excitement, Jesus’ followers locked themselves in a room together—still afraid of the men who hated Jesus enough to kill Him. As they gathered and talked about the events of the week, the horror of the crucifixion, the empty tomb and all Jesus had said to them while He was still alive… He appeared in the room among them! He comforted them and encouraged them. Imagine the initial fear, the multitude of questions, the need to touch Him and see that He was real, that He was RESURRECTED though He had been dead—imagine also the regrets, the shame, the relief…Over a period of forty days Jesus appeared alive to over 500 eyewitnesses! He explained that everything from the Creation in Genesis to the final prophecy in Malachi painted a picture of Him. He was the ‘…seed of the woman come to defeat Satan… the fulfillment of the Law of Moses… the furnishings of the tabernacle… the Redeemer… the Intercessor… the Leader… the Hope of Israel… the son of Abraham… the King from David… the suffering servant… and most of all, the Messiah!’ He assured them, commissioned them to go and make disciples from all nations and told them to Love God with everything in them and to Love their neighbors as they loved themselves.

They Jewish leaders and local Roman authority thought they had successfully silenced this early church movement they called The Way (named that because of Jesus saying He alone was the Way, the Truth and the Life). What they had no way of knowing is that God’s plan was not foiled but had been instead perfectly set in place. Persecution would scatter the church and the Gospel message of Jesus taking sin with Him upon that cross spread like wildfire throughout Israel and the surrounding nations. Victory to the Father; and Defeat to the Enemy!

But, what about Peter? What about that reconciliation he so desperately needed? In His absolute mercy and grace… Jesus brought that about too. In John’s 21st chapter we find the apostles doing what they knew before Jesus called them to follow Him. As they fished on the Sea of Galilee, they watched a man cooking fish on the seashore. The haul from the night was disappointing and they were preparing to row ashore. The man shouted for them to ‘cast the net on the other side of the boat’ for a better catch. Peter, discouraged and frustrated, did just that… and the net filled with fish! John—remembering this same thing happening before—told Peter that the man on the seashore ‘was the Lord!’

Instead of waiting for the boat to be rowed to shore, Peter dove over the side and swam to Jesus. No condemnation. No criticism. No humiliation. Restoration! Jesus challenged him three times (the same as the number of denials) to ‘tend His sheep and shepherd His flock’. Peter, the denier was restored not only personally to Jesus but restored to a position of authority in the early Christian church. That final act of kindness elevated Peter to be a passionate and outspoken evangelist and to actually give the first public sermon after Jesus had ascended into heaven—returning to His Father.

That is why we Celebrate this Week!
Because of the Empty Tomb…

• Sinners are Restored to their Creator
• Death is Crushed and Eternal Life is Ours
• Fear is Gone and We have Jesus’ Blood to Cover Us
• We are Free—Free to Serve as Jesus’ Hands and Feet
• The Story from Genesis to the Cross is Completed

SCRIPTURE: “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3

Note: I realize that most of you who read these entries are fellow believers who already know part of or most of this story. If, however, anyone has read these and for the first time you realize that Easter isn’t about eggs, jelly beans, chocolate bunnies or baskets… please message or email me. I want to talk to you more about the implications of the Resurrection and what Jesus did for you! God’s richest blessings on each of you as His Word has come alive in your heart.

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Why we celebrate this week – Day 6

We’re getting so close to the end of the Holy Week series! Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday is tomorrow and we will celebrate  something so wonderful… so amazing that there is nothing we can ever do in return other than give thanks. 

Please take a few moments to visit my good friend Vicki’s site and check out some of the wonderful books that she has written. 

After Jesus’ affirmed death on the cross (I say affirmed because many falsely believe He didn’t really die there—the ‘swoon’ theory—and others believe someone was substituted for Him on the cross—the ‘substitution’ theory); Jesus was removed from the cross before the eyes of many witnesses. Two men—who secretly believed He was the Messiah, yet were afraid to openly proclaim their faith before Jewish leaders—took His battered body and laid it in a garden tomb because the Sabbath was fast approaching. He was wrapped in linen grave-cloths but a complete preparation of the body wasn’t done due to Sabbath laws and time constraints. Witnesses watched as a stone was rolled into place and a seal was set to assure that no one tampered with Jesus’ body. That happened on the same day as the crucifixion—on Good Friday.

Imagine the impact the events of that day made upon the people in Jesus’ life. His mother, Mary, had watched her beloved son humiliated, belittled, falsely accused, beaten, scourged and crucified unto death. The Apostle John, Mary Magdalene and other faithful believers watched as Jesus suffered but also watched the horror of Mary’s darkest day. What about the remaining apostles and disciples of Jesus? In His time of greatest testing… they scattered in fear, hiding and hoping that what was happening to Him wouldn’t happen to them because they had walked beside Him!

Judas Iscariot was dead… but Peter must have felt just as dead inside. He—the attention-seeking boaster who would ‘go to death with Jesus’—had instead denied Him three times during His sham trial. And what about that ‘look’ that passed between Peter and Jesus at the moment of the third denial? How would Peter ever erase that from his mind? That day of entombment must have seemed to stretch on forever for each of these groups of people. Because it was the Sabbath no work or preparations for a proper burial could be done. Can you feel the fear? Can you feel the sorrow? Can you feel the shame? Can you feel the utter hopelessness?

As they faced the future of life without their Messiah… the Jewish leaders gloried in their victory! Jesus was dead! The head of the insurrectionist snake was cut off! Like other trouble-making groups before—the ‘Christians’ would fade away without their leader! V-I-C-T-O-R-Y was theirs… as long as there were no claims of a resurrection from His death. Repeatedly, as they had watched and listened for grounds to accuse Jesus, He had talked about ‘leaving… going where they could not go… returning for them… preparing a place for them.’ They had no idea what those words meant but set guards at the tomb to insure His disciples wouldn’t remove His body and lie about a resurrection. Witnesses watched.

I have talked about ‘witnesses’ throughout this passage and there is an important reason for that. From the time of Jesus’ birth until the dark days of His death, there were always people watching, seeing and observing His life. The shepherds witnessed Him wrapped in swaddling clothes… and told others. His disciples witnessed Him multiply one boy’s lunch to feed thousands… and told others. The Samaritan woman who had an encounter with Jesus at the well… told others. Those who watched His trial, His death on that cross and His burial… told others. Why are eyewitnesses vital to this story? Eyewitnesses attest to the truth of an event.

Eyewitnesses wrote down the events they observed throughout history…that is how we know George Washington was the first President of the United States and Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth. That is how we know Hitler existed and killed six million Jews. Eyewitnesses have documented the wars in our history, revolutionary medical advances, and transportation changes with railroads, steamships and automobiles. Today, eyewitnesses help the police make an assessment of a crime scene helping law enforcement to find the perpetrator. Eyewitness accounts are absolutely necessary to corroborate or prove a story.

And this story is no different! John witnessed! Matthew witnessed! Jesus’ brothers witnessed! Witnesses gave Luke an account of Jesus’ life! Witnesses would have refuted untruths because their eyes would have seen truths. We can trust this account—and many other non-Biblical accounts of these events—because they were witnessed and written down. In order to dismiss the historical account of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection we have to dismiss every other historical account ever written!

Today, as we picture the events of the end of the Holy Week, let us remember that Jesus willingly walked the journey we have been on with Him. He took our lashes. He became our sin. He substituted Himself for us. This is GRACE: favor we do not deserve and cannot buy. He gave Himself for us. This is MERCY: we don’t get what we deserve; because Jesus took our blows. Hopefully, you fully understand why Holy Week is the consummate celebration of the Christian.

SCRIPTURE: “And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.”
Luke 22:59-62

Why we celebrate this week – Day 5

Today is day 5 of the Holy week and Good Friday. I hope that you’re enjoying the series and hope even more that you’re getting something out of it. 

Please welcome Vicki back as she takes us through what Good Friday is and what it’s all about to Christians around the world.

On this day which Christians call Good Friday, let us look at the events between the dinner Jesus shared with His disciples and His crucifixion. After Jesus sent Judas Iscariot on his way and the Passover meal was completed, the remaining group made their way to the Garden of Gethsemane—where they often met together according to John 18:2. That is significant because Judas was going to the Jewish leaders, collecting his 30-pieces-of-silver for betraying Jesus and then telling them where ‘the Troublemaker’ could be found because of a pattern He established for praying there.

As Jesus prayed alone and at a distance from even John, James and Peter—His inner circle—He asked His Father if there was any other way for the redemption of the human race to come about. Drops of sweat-blood, which poured from His head, punctuated each prayer. As a man, Jesus felt every panic and fear you and I would feel in the same situation. He earnestly prayed for another way but followed that prayer with these words: “…if this cannot pass away unless I drink it (the cup of God’s wrath on sinful man), Thy will be done.” Jesus had perfectly fulfilled every mission God sent Him on… but now; this final step enveloped Him in abject terror. Nevertheless… the journey, which began at His birth in Bethlehem, would end in His death.

Judas along with Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers arrived in the evening darkness at Gethsemane; and according to a pre-determined sign, the traitor walked to Jesus, kissed Him and betrayed Him into enemy hands. Jesus had taught every day in the public square, and if guilty of a crime could have been arrested in daylight. Instead, fearing the growing number of disciples of Christ, they arrested Him in darkness and thought to deal quickly and cleanly with His trial before His followers knew what had taken place. Jesus was brought and tried in a ‘kangaroo court’ with false accusers giving testimony, horrible beatings, painful humiliations and a sentence of death.

During those agonizing hours, Peter denied Jesus three times (as prophesied), the apostles scattered in fear and Judas regretted his betrayal and attempted to return the money he had been paid. When his evil couldn’t be undone, Judas Iscariot went and hanged himself—leaving no hope of reconciliation between betrayer and the betrayed. The people who had worshipped and shouted, “Hosanna!” as Jesus entered into Jerusalem just days before… now began to join in the chant of the Jewish leadership. “Hosanna” changed to “Crucify Him!” as Jesus continued on His journey to reconcile undeserving man to his Creator. Beaten beyond recognition, Jesus began the long walk through the streets of Jerusalem to Golgotha where He was to be crucified.

The information regarding the crucifixion—and the physical manifestations of what this barbaric Roman form of torture and death involved—are too many for me to write here. I will leave you to do your own research on the horrors of crucifixion but will say that arms and feet were nailed in place on the crosspiece and upright of the cross. Gravity pulled the body down below the arms and the crucified had to push up on those nail pierced feet, take a breath and continue to do so until they suffocated. Those who didn’t die within a matter of hours had their knees broken to stop the pushing-up process. No one survived crucifixion; and the convicted often didn’t make it to the actual nailing because they died from the unrelenting beatings and dehydration before that point. Read Psalm 22 for just a glimpse of what Jesus suffered—on a day we call Good Friday!

From the cross and through that nightmare Jesus did what He always did… He ministered to the needs of others. Seeing the Apostle John near His grieving and horrified mother, Jesus encouraged them to care for one another. One of the men crucified at His side confessed that he was a sinner deserving the punishment he was receiving for all the evil of his life. He also could see that Jesus was indeed a man falsely accused and undeserving of His sentence. Jesus, hearing repentance and faith—promised that man eternity with Him. The Centurion (Roman soldier in charge of 100 men) watched the events—as he likely had watched many crucifixions before. Yet this time was different. Jesus didn’t shout out or curse at His killers. He refused gall to deaden His pain. He quietly listened to His detractors. That Centurion was left to understand that Jesus was “…indeed a righteous man.”

Jesus died that day after saying, “IT IS FINISHED!” What did those words mean? Every single thing God sent Him to do was done. He became the final sacrifice for our sins. He did what lambs, rams and bulls could never do. He offered man-flesh and man-blood for man-sin! Jesus took every sin ever committed before His birth and after His birth upon His body. He took the lashes we deserve. He received what we justly merited punishment for. Jesus tore apart the heavy impenetrable veil separating a Holy God from Sinful Man. Jesus became the Substitutionary-Atonement for us. What a gift! What a blessing! What love!

And that is why we call this day, Good Friday!

SCRIPTURE: “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (Written by the Prophet 700 years before Jesus’ birth.)

Why we celebrate this week – Day 4

Thursday, day 4 of Holy week. Have you learned something new? Have you read these posts and remembered something that you may have forgotten? Have they sparked something in you?  I hope so.

Every time I read and re-read a piece of scripture I learn something. I pull a little bit of information out of it than I did the previous time I read it. There are AH-HA moments as well as times of confusion. 

I hope that you’re enjoying these posts as much as I have and take a moment to stop by Vicki’s website too. She is a wonderful speaker and teacher and a force to be reckoned with!

During the week of what we call ‘Easter’ another holiday (Jewish feast) was held. That holiday is called the Feast of Unleavened Bread or more commonly the Passover and was a time of remembrance for God’s provision and deliverance of His children in the days of Moses. (Learn more by reading Exodus 12) Many people forget that Jesus was a Jew. He was raised in all the Jewish traditions and celebrated the mandatory feasts and festivals just like His Jewish brethren. John 13 opens with preparations being made for Jesus to celebrate the Passover with His disciples.
Jesus added teaching, some new customs and His special prayers to the traditional events being celebrated throughout the Jewish world. The first variation came when He arose from the table, girded Himself with a towel and began to wash the feet of His apostles. Peter—always ready with a comment—tried to stop the Lord from performing the work of the lowliest household servant on his feet. Jesus made it clear that this was more than simply an act of cleansing dirty feet but was a word-picture of unhindered service to the needs of others. Jesus wasn’t ashamed to wash their feet… and they mustn’t be afraid to be servants after He was gone.

Adding more depth to this story is the fact that Jesus washed the feet of ALL of His apostles—and that included the feet of Judas Iscariot who would in a matter of hours betray Him to Jewish leaders in exchange for the price of a common household slave. Just as He was fully aware of His quickly approaching suffering… He was aware of Judas’ part in it. Jesus chose Judas knowing full well he would betray Him. God’s plan was set in place and nothing would stop it from coming to completion. During the Passover meal Jesus began to explain more carefully what the events of the coming days would hold for Him as well as for them. When Judas stood from the table and departed from the gathering, none of the apostles knew what he was about to do… betray the Man who moments before had washed his feet!

Jesus then proceeded to make the most of every last moment He had with His friends. Some of the topics of their conversations (John 14-16) included:
• Jesus was about to leave them for a place where they could not travel with Him. (They didn’t understand that.)
• He made the very exclusionary statement that He was THE WAY, THE TRUTH and THE LIFE and the only way for them to ever enter His heavenly realm was through faith in Him. (The world still doesn’t understand or accept that.)
• He then promised them a ‘Gift’ He would send to them. He was referring to the Holy Spirit to guide, lead, teach, give revelation and cause them to remember His words. (They didn’t understand that part either.)
• He showed them they were Branches coming off of Him the Vine. Those Branches drew all nourishment from the Vine and would die apart from it. This was a warning that they could try forever to be ‘holy in their own power’ but that apart from Him their works would be fruitless. (They didn’t understand… and most of us don’t either.)
• He chastised boastful Peter who was willing to ‘lay down his life for Jesus’ by telling him in actuality, he would soon deny him three times. (Peter didn’t understand that; but later would be haunted by Jesus’ words… and his three denials.)
• He spoke of coming persecution for the church. (They didn’t understand then… but ten of the twelve apostles would become martyrs for Christianity!)

That very eventful evening held two more important moments between the Lord and His dearest friends. Jesus shared the bread and the wine with them in a way they had never witnessed before. He broke the bread—and told them it represented His body—soon to be broken for them. He then shared the cup of wine with them—telling them it represented His blood—about to be poured out for them. Jesus told them that whenever men gathered and shared these elements together they would remember what He had done for His children. Today, we call this event Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper and celebrate it as a rite within the Church called by His Name.

Finally, Jesus prayed for His disciples in a deep, heartfelt, loving and reverent way. John 17 contains what is called the High Priestly Prayer. Jesus stated that all the Father had given Him to do… He had done. He prayed for the apostles, disciples and future church—wishing He could take them with Him out of this evil world—but entrusting them into the Father’s hands. He prayed they could be ‘in’ the world but that they not be ‘of’ the world. Sobering isn’t it? He prayed for unity in the church, strength in the face of tribulation and a saturation of them from the Word of God.

Jesus, as always, focused on others just hours before He would be arrested, tried, crucified, buried and resurrected. No Wonder We Celebrate This Week…

SCRIPTURE: “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
–John 17:25-26

Check out Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 too!

Why we celebrate this week – Day 3

Okay, so by now you have noticed that I have 4 posts all on the same day. Well, that’s because the idea to share Vicki’s posts with you came about on Wednesday of this week so I am playing catch up. 

All of this information is wonderfully valuable from both the Christian and historical perspectives, I think.  No matter what your walk in faith is, it is always good to try to understand other peoples feelings and beliefs even if we do not agree with them. Learning to get along with others in this world is vitally important, especially this day in age. 

We have looked at the events of Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem and the reasons for why the Jewish leadership wanted to remove His influence from their midst. Let’s look today at events early in the week of His death and Resurrection. I am taking these accounts from the Gospels of Matthew and John and will give you Scripture references so you can read them on your own. 

Even though Jesus had walked with His apostles for the better part of three years, they didn’t yet fully understand some of the cryptic words He spoke about His death, return to heaven and even His divinity. (John 12:23-50) Jesus purposed to do everything, say everything and act fully in accordance to God’s plan to redeem His lost children. 

Many did not believe His words and attributed His signs and miracles to Satan. Note how Jesus defined Satan in verse 31: ‘…the ruler of this world.’ The events we are studying are part of the consummate battle between good and evil—a battle, which began in the Garden of Eden when Satan challenged Eve by questioning what God had really commanded the first couple to not do. It is important to note that Satan still works the same way today. “Did God really say _________________ is wrong?”

Imagine Jesus striving to teach, encourage, alleviate fear, prepare and equip His apostles and disciples. He had walked with them for three years but would soon be gone; and they would be left to carry the Gospel message without Him.

In Matthew 21 Jesus was found entering the temple in the Holy City and in righteous indignation, overturning the moneychangers’ and dove sellers’ tables. God’s holy temple was no longer a place of worship and honor; but instead was treated as a marketplace to line the pockets of those who should have been protecting it. Jesus—knowing His end was near—spent precious time healing the sick, teaching parables (word picture stories with moral applications) to His disciples and challenging the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees—the two denominations of Jewish leadership.

Add to all those things the very serious warnings Jesus made to His people about coming events and times of testing. In Matthew 24 alone he warns of these things:
• The coming of False Prophets and False Messiah’s claiming to be Him.
• Divided kingdoms, wars, famines, earthquakes and heavenly changes.
• Family division and betrayal over faith issues.
• Arrests, trials, persecution, lawlessness and false accusations.
• A general apostasy—falling away by those who paid lip service but would abandon their faith in the face of tribulation.
• A sense of hopeless, which only in God’s mercy would come to an end.

Jesus also explained that He would return for His people and take them to the heavenly home He was preparing for them. One final caution was that God’s people had to be ready, prepared for these events and Jesus’ return and not caught sleeping or drifting at that moment. When asked for more specific signs or dates of His return, Jesus told His apostles no one but the Father knew that exact day.

Think about the urgency of those last days. How amazing it is that instead of dwelling upon His coming suffering Jesus tended others’ needs, prepared for their futures, gave glory to His Father and set an example for all to see. Jesus came as a Servant, lived as a Servant and would die as a Servant… as He assumed the sin of undeserving man upon His flesh. A Servant such as that is worth our unhindered worship. That is why we celebrate this Holy Week.

SCRIPTURE: ‘And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.’ MATTHEW 24:4-5

If you missed Day 1 and Day 2 be sure to check them out.

Why we celebrate this week – Day 2

Welcome back!

I am new in my faith. For so long I had believed that there was more out there something bigger than me but I never truly believed in the Christian God. I believed that Jesus was a real person and that he walked the earth as you and I do now and that he did some incredible things in his life.

Something in me changed. I began to read and study and learn. My eyes and heart were opened and I finally understood things in a different light.

I still read almost every day and work with people to help me understand and grow in my faith. Vicki is one of those people and I am thankful to have her in my life.

In yesterday’s entry, it was mentioned that ‘the Jewish leaders were threatened’ by Jesus and His teaching. Because this is part of the Holy Week story, today we will try to understand why they had such disregard and even hate for Jesus and those who followed Him. 
There is comfort in rituals and in maintaining the status quo in most situations. Few of us like drastic change or being shaken from the sameness and routine of our life habits. The Jewish people were no different. For thousands of years their way of life had not changed. They performed religious rituals, worshipped in the same ways, ran the nation of Israel with the same laws and were ‘comfortable’ in their routine. They had control and certainly did not want to loosen their grasp on it.

Jesus came into Judea and immediately began to challenge what He saw as hypocrisy among the Jewish leadership. Their practices had become routine habits producing no real passion or worship. They taught their young to follow in their footsteps. They were filled with pride and believed a cursory obedience to laws made them more righteous than anyone else. Position and education meant everything… and those who had neither one were rendered of no value.

Jesus… born to a humble Jewish virgin and raised in the workshop of His earthly father, Joseph, was insignificant in their eyes…. That is until He began His short ministry in earnest. Jesus knew that the religious leaders put on a great show but were often hypocrites in their real lives. He challenged their manipulation of the laws of God. For example, they conducted their false sense of righteousness in not committing the physical act of adultery; and Jesus told them heart lust was still adultery. They had disdain for the poor woman who gave her last two small coins into the temple treasury; and Jesus commended her for giving all she had.

One day they brought a woman ‘caught in the very act of adultery’ and cast her at Jesus’ feet—hoping He would do something they could accuse Him of—like show her mercy. Jesus knew that Jewish law said both parties to adultery were to be stoned. Hypocrisy permeated the air in that they only brought the woman to Christ. She was merely a tool they could use to accuse Him of breaking either Jewish or Roman law. Jesus distracted them, took their eyes off of her, bent and wrote in the dirt and challenged them. He said simply—“He who is without sin should cast the first stone.” Suddenly they were left shamed and humiliated as they dropped their stones and turned and walked away. Every one of them was led to self-examination and came to the realization that his own sin rendered him unworthy to judge hers. Jesus—in love and not ignoring her sin—told her He didn’t judge her but that she was to go and sin no more.

As you can see, the Jewish leadership was desperate to remove Jesus and His ministry from their midst. He was like a rapidly growing cancer tumor, which was threatening the body of control they held. Throughout His three-year ministry, they constantly watched for grounds to accuse Him in their attempt to cut out the cancer, which was having a great impact in Judea. Their part in the Holy Week story cannot be ignored.

SCRIPTURE: “And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse Him.” Matthew 12:10

You can find Day 1 here in case you missed it.

Why we celebrate this week – Day 1

This week I am going to share a few posts with all of you from a dear friend, Vicki Bryant. I met Vicki through another dear friend and church. Lately Vicki has been posting on her personal Facebook page the message why we as Christians celebrate this week, Holy week. The week leading up to Easter. 

I felt that it was important to share this message.

Will I lose followers because of this? Probably. 

Does it matter? Not really.

Jesus left the glory of heaven at a predetermined time to enter history and make reconciliation between the Creator and His highest creation, man. That reconciliation was necessary because sin by our first father and mother (Adam and Eve) broke the perfect fellowship between them and the Creator. Death (as opposed to eternal life) entered the world; and man became an enemy to God. 

Later, God gave His people a set of Laws to identify sin and bring man into obedience. No man was able to perfectly fulfill every Moral, Civil and Ceremonial law. Because sin was still reigning in man’s heart, a series of ‘sacrifices’ was put into effect in which animals—bulls, lambs, rams, goats and birds—were offered in exchange for man’s sins. Someone or something had to pay the price for sin; and the animals became a shed-blood substitute to pay that price. The sacrificial system never changed the hearts of man though. The cycle of sin, sacrifice, sin, sacrifice, sin, sacrifice continued for thousands of years. 

At the predetermined time mentioned above, God became flesh and dwelt among His creation in the form of Jesus. Jesus alone lived his earthly life without sin and in full obedience to the Laws God had set before His children. Jesus called men to Himself, taught them, healed the sick, resurrected the dead and revealed the true character of God to man. As He did these things, the Jewish leaders were threatened by His teachings and His very real abilities to perform these signs and wonders. They could feel their control and power slipping away.

As we look at the events of this Holy Week, we need to understand the implications of our holy God dwelling among sinful men—in order to bring reconciliation between Creator and creation. Jesus (God in the flesh) came for one reason and one reason only—to Redeem Lost Sinners and to Reconcile them to their Heavenly Creator.

On Palm Sunday (the Sunday before the Resurrection), Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey with His eyes focused fully on His coming death on Calvary’s cross. He rode into the city He loved to shouts of “Hosanna!” and celebration. The people laid palm fronds upon the street before Him and waved them at Him. Meanwhile, the Jewish leaders who despised Him were planning His demise. Jesus came into Jerusalem knowing this was the last week of His earthly life…

SCRIPTURE: And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— Colossians 1:21-22

Have a HoneyBaked Easter!

Disclosure: I received a gift card to purchase a HoneyBaked ham for this post. All thoughts & opinions are my own.

Easter hasn’t always been one of my favorite holidays for one reason or another. But what I do like about it is that it’s the one meal where we always have delicious ham and scalloped potatoes. It’s so warm & comforting and I could eat it at least once a week.

Of course we will have ham this Easter, but I didn’t save my amazing HoneyBaked ham for the upcoming holiday. Instead, I decided that I would I served it at my daughter’s 12th birthday party.  Our birthday parties always include lots of family in addition to a few of the kids friends and instead of the traditional birthday dinner of pizza or sloppy joes I decided to change things up a bit.

HoneyBaked Ham - In the bag

I went all out and served a HoneyBaked ham, potato salad, fruit salad,  and baked beans this year. Everyone loved it! Even the kids. It really was a simple (I’m all about making things easy and simple) meal to prepare since the ham is already cooked and sliced for me. The hardest part was keeping all the fingers from grabbing ham as I was putting on a platter for the party. “Mmm… ham”, was often heard when my kids snuck a piece.

HoneyBaked Ham

I think that it made my daughter’s birthday party a little extra special this year too.

I’m not sure what makes HoneyBaked ham so special. Maybe it’s the crunchy glaze that it on top of it, or the delicate sweetness of the ham, or it could be the ease in which you can easily grab a slice and eat it on the go. What I do know is that it makes the simplest birthday parties extra special as well as an amazing part of any holiday meal.

HoneyBaked Ham - Up Close

Look at that crispy glaze!

The HoneyBaked hams (and smoked turkeys) are perfect for sandwiches too! I know that we’ve made an entire dinner out of leftover ham sandwiches alone and they were great.

I also highly recommend the cinnamon walnut coffee cake… I’d share a pic of the one we had but my family ate it so fast that I barely had time to grab a piece for myself.

If you’re looking to make your Easter super simple this year keep HoneyBaked in mind. They have a lot of great deals going on right now with in-store specials.

  • $54.99 Easter Ham & Turkey Combo – Pair a Turkey Breast (approx. 3 lbs.) with your choice of a Boneless Ham (approx. 3.5 lbs.) or Quarter Ham (approx. 4.5 lbs.)
  • $22.99 Turkey Breast (with any Half or Whole Ham purchase)
  • $24.99 Easter Brunch Bundle – Cinnamon Walnut Coffee Cake and Honey-Spice Bacon<
  • Heat & Share Sides: Two for $13.99, three for $19.99

OR one of these great coupon deals!

  • $5 OFF Half Ham (Bone-in) or Become a HoneyBaked VIP at (Save an extra $1 when you sign up to become a HoneyBaked VIP at $6 OFF )
  • $3 OFF Boneless Ham or Quarter Ham

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St. Patrick

Welcome to St. Patrick’s Day! I heard on the radio this morning that this is the day that people consume the most alcohol! I was surprised to say the least… of course the dj went on to share several other tid bits of information (which I can only imagine being half true).

English: Saint Patrick stained glass window fr...

English: Saint Patrick stained glass window from Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland, CA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I continued my drive I was pondering St. Patrick’s Day and its meaning. Who was St. Patrick and what did he really do?

Well, first of all he did not drive the snakes out of Ireland. That is purely an exaggerated story from hundreds of years of storytelling and there is even speculation as to whether he was truly Irish or not.  Truth be told he was a fourth century Christian missionary who traveled teaching and spreading the word of the gospel after being kidnapped by Irish raiders. Patrick was held captive during this time and while there he worked as a shepherd in the hills of Ireland, alone. He spent much time in prayer and eventually was able to escape and return home.

After his return home he began training to become a priest and then traveled back to Ireland to minister to the Christians there. He continued to do this throughout his life, becoming a bishop and then eventually a Saint. March 17th is the day that Saint Patrick died and it is a day of both a solemnity and a holy day of obligation in the dioceses of Ireland.

In the early 17th century St. Patrick’s Day was made an official feast day by the church to commemorate Christianity being brought to Ireland as well as Irish heritage and culture. The day is celebrated with parades, festivals, and church services throughout the world.

Here in the States… well, it’s a bit of a different story where many if not most do not now the true story of St. Patrick and what he really did.