Beloved Betrayer

I’m back after two weeks.  I hope you have missed me as much as I have missed you.

“Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi,’ and kissed him.” (Matt 26:49)

A school “friend” invited me to sleep over. His friend joined us to build a hay maze in the barn. I worked toward the left end; they worked toward the right end. When finished, they sent me right; they went left. Every tunnel I came to was a dead end. I prayed, Lord give me strength to push. I pushed hard and bales and I tumbled to the floor. The betrayal was not the blocked maze, but the deception that he wanted to be my friend.
When Judas came into the garden to betray Jesus, he pretended to love Jesus. Judas embraced him, “Greetings, Rabbi,” which means “my master,” and kissed him on the cheek, a gesture reserved for close and intimate relationships.
Jesus showed his love when he replied, “Friend, do what you came to do.” It was not the usual casual greeting, “comrade.” Judas pretended to love Jesus; Jesus genuinely loved Judas, his betrayer.
Jesus had chosen Judas Iscariot as one of the twelve apostles, had entrusted him with the money, he, along with the 70 disciples, had been given miraculous powers to heal and cast out demons, and Jesus had washed his feet at the last supper.
One of the most touching scenes in the Bible, Jesus reaching out to Judas in friendship while Judas is about to betray him for thirty silver pieces, the price of a slave.
Jesus didn’t need words to demonstrate his forgiveness to his enemy. It all came bundled in “Friend.” A powerful lesson for 21st century Christians to imitate. Others need to see Jesus’ love in us, the love shown to Judas, his beloved betrayer, as we rub shoulders in the workplace, the streets, and our conversation.

Prayer: Tender Jesus, forgive me for my lack of love for my enemies as you had for Judas who knew first-hand your love for him. Teach me to call them friends and see them as you saw Judas, beloved betrayer. Amen

Haiku Images

I thought you might appreciate reading through the Haiku Cluster that the judges thought were worthy of first place winner in the competition. All of the haiku spring from the Scriptures related as listed.

Appropriate for the Easter season is “To say ‘I love you’ God sent a cross.” The truth that we are co-heirs with the eternal Godhead is incomprehensible, but the Scriptures certainly remind us how rich we are in Christ.

If a haiku or two moves you and you would like to share your thoughts, I would love to meditate on them with you.
A HAIKU CLUSTER
I bequeath to you,                                                                   Romans 8:17a
every sunrise I’ve painted,
all originals. -God

Adam, while you slept,                                                           Genesis 2:21-22
God slipped Eve into your bed,
then he left, smiling.

To say “I love you,”                                                                  John 19:17-18
we send flowers or a card,
but God sent a cross.

Five little fingers                                                                       Luke 2:7
squeeze young Mary’s nose and face
as God lies on straw.

Often mothers ’ prayers                                                         I Samuel 1:27
mend the broken jars of clay
they molded from birth.

Silent, by a grave,                                                                   II Corinthians 1:4
arm around a friend, healing
a hole in the heart.

Before life’s bookends                                                         Amos 4:12b
squeeze away your last-held breath,
prepare for closure.

Post-Christmas Reflections

 

 

 

Now that credit cards are maxed out, gifts exchanged and/or returned, resolutions vowed to spend less next Christmas on gifts, rethinking the real purpose for exchanging gifts, and shredding Santa’s wish lists, can I take the liberty to share a gift idea?

When faced with a gift for my wife, I asked what can I give she can’t wear, she can’t eat, and she can’t set around the house as a trinket? I awoke one night with The Twelve Days of Christmas on my mind, a song my wife really likes.

Bingo! Why not a play on those words with The Twelve PRAYERS of Christmas?

So I started writing down some of her needs and wants and eventually had a list of twenty. I prayed for wisdom as I reduced them to twelve prayers. I hope you enjoy reading three of them as much as I enjoyed composing them.

On the First Day of Christmas my true love prayed for “more meaningful occasions to fulfil my music needs.” On the Sixth Day of Christmas my true love prayed for “me to find more opportunities to socialize and fellowship with my sisters in the Lord,” and On the Ninth Day of Christmas my true love prayed for “me to strengthen my holy habit of daily, personal Bible study.”

I have written this devotional to “stir up in my brothers and sisters in the Lord to love and good works.” It’s something I wanted to share. Maybe it challenges you to come up with a special idea for your loving spouse. Anyway, just enjoy something different from me.

God’s Grip

Elena and Dan holding hands0001My 7-year-old great granddaughter burst into my study, grabbed my hand, and asked, “Papa, “What’s your favorite chapter in the Bible? ”

“John 10 about Jesus being the Good Shepherd.”

“I know that one,” she said. I reached my arm around her waist and drew her to me.

“And Papa, what’s your favorite verse?”

“That I may know Christ and the power of his resurrection.”

She hesitated, then answered thoughtfully,“I don’t think I know that one.”

As I took her hand and placed her other hand into it, I said, “Another favorite is John 10, verse 28.” I folded her little fingers around her hand, and continued, “ ‘No one can grab your hand out of my grip,’ Jesus said.”

“Really, they can’t?”

I took those two little cupped hands into my hand. “Nope, no one.”

Her eyes twinkled as she looked up at me. “I do remember hearing that verse.”

“You’re so smart. Do you also remember when you were two years old and your grandfather held your hand to lead you to the party?

“No,” she replied. “But when Pappy takes my hand in his big hand, I feel safe and happy.”

I looked into those big eyes and thought, Oh, to be like that child!

“Wouldn’t it warm our Heavenly Father’s heart, as He grips our hand to make us feel secure, if we gripped His hand back?”

Next time someone holds your hand, let it remind you of the comfort, security and joy when Creator Father, gripping our human hand, leads us where we need to go.

Cheers for Cheerios

Sometimes I don’t understand my country–United States of America. So would you help me out!

An America company shoots a warm family ad about expecting a new baby soon and it’s targeted for racist comments. The company deserves praise and accolades, not criticism. At least, it wasn’t a dysfunctional family or feuding family environment. What really impressed me, the husband and wife are freely accepting a wanted child, not discussing the pros and cons of an abortion.

For a healthy change, the story line’s about warm family relationships, love, and connection, and implied family breakfast together. And it’s an adorable family. It’s true. The daughter pushes in a puppy as part of the deal. It’s still,“Hats off to the creators!”

So it’s interracial. What’s the beef? God is color blind, so let’s be color blind with Him! We’re all God’s children. Recall the Sunday School song we as children sang: “Red and yellow black and white, we are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.

The Bible says in Genesis 1:28, “God blessed the male and female he created and said to them ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.’” This interracial family is following God’s mandate. So bravo!

Cheerios may not be your breakfast choice, but let’s all grab a big bowl of Cheerios to munch on as we watch the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos battle it out for the trophy in the Super Bowl this weekend.

You Lost What?

That’s right. The engagement ring was lost. When Alan came in from baseball practice, he couldn’t find it. He looked in his locker where he always put it, but it wasn’t there. He rummaged through his gym bag. No ring.

When he told his fiancee, she exploded. “I paid good money for that ring, Alan. How could you be so careless? It’s not some cheap ring, you know.”

As he listened to her spit out her anger, he realized for the first time that things meant a lot to her. She seemed, at this point, more concerned about the expensive ring than her love for him.

The ring, he reminded her, symbolizes unity, harmony, and peace within a relationship. He apologized over and over for his carelessness, but words failed to calm her down.

He assured her that the insurance company would replace the ring, but that didn’t satisfy her either. She snapped at him: “It won’t be the same ring; besides, this may sh0w h0w careless you’ll be with other  things.” Alan hoped in time she’d forgive him.

Later, that night as he nursed his guilt feelings, he read what the apostle Paul said about possessions. “Give your heart to heavenly things, heavenly values and possessions, not to earthly things.” Col. 3:2 Losing the ring taught him a painful, but necessary lesson: a relationship with others and the Lord is more important than things, even an engagement ring. 

After they were married,  he prayed that with the Holy Spirit’s strength in time he and his wife would learn together the priority of where things belong in their life.

Honestly, what do you treasure the most?