That’s Just Wrong!

That’s just wrong! You have probably expressed that sentiment many times and heard others do the same. Think about Passion Week. There were so many things that happened that were wrong. Let’s look at a few.

  1. Judas, one of Jesus’ very own disciples who had been a part of His ministry for three years, betrayed Jesus—for a small amount of money and with a kiss.  That’s just wrong!
  2. Following a period of intense prayer seeking the Father’s will, Jesus was arrested and treated like a hardened criminal in the Garden of Gethsemane.  That’s just wrong!
  3. Jesus was tried before a secret meeting of the Sanhedrin at night and at the palace of Caiaphas, the High Priest—a clear violation of the Jewish law.  That’s just wrong!
  4. Jesus was misquoted and charged with blasphemy by the members of the Sanhedrin.  That’s just wrong!
  5. Afterwards, the religious leaders and respected men of the community who comprised the Sanhedrin, high-fived each other and rejoiced over their verdict.  Not only that, they slapped, spit upon, and ridiculed Jesus.  That’s just wrong!
  6. The next morning, the court reconvened to make the proceedings of the night before appear to be legal.  That’s just wrong!
  7. Afterwards a delegation from the Sanhedrin took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor, demanding that he impose the death penalty on Jesus.  That’s just wrong!
  8. Because the Jews did not have the power to execute they pressed charges against Jesus that were political in nature.  Blasphemy was never mentioned.  Instead, the religious leaders painted Jesus to be a revolutionary who promoted anti-Roman sentiment—all lies.  That’s just wrong!
  9. Pilate knew Jesus was innocent and was being framed by the Jewish religious leaders, but he would not decisively dismiss the case right off the bat.  That’s just wrong!
  10. Although Pilate tried to use the custom of releasing a criminal during the Feast of Unleavened Bread to negotiate with the crowd they demanded the release of Barabbas, a robber and a murderer, instead.  That’s just wrong!
  11. Hoping to satisfy the crowd’s demand and avoid crucifying Jesus, Pilate ordered the soldiers to flog Him.  That’s just wrong!
  12. Finally, the straw that broke the camel’s back was when the Jewish religious leaders threatened Pilate by saying, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar.  Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar” (John 19:12).  Pilate buckled under the pressure and sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion.  That’s just wrong!
  13. The Roman soldiers took Jesus to Golgotha, a very public, visible place, and nailed Him to a cross.  That’s just wrong!
  14. Then the soldiers gambled for His clothes.  That’s just wrong!
  15. As Jesus suffered for our sins on the cross He was the object of scorn and ridicule.  The soldiers mocked Him.  The passersby mocked Him.  The religious leaders mocked Him.  Even one of the criminals being crucified with Jesus mocked Him.  That’s just wrong!

These are just fifteen of the many things that were wrong during the Passion Week. But we serve an amazing God who refuses to be deterred by evil. In fact, He can take evil and use it for good (Romans 8:28). He often repurposes actions that people intend for harm and uses them to accomplish His will (Genesis 50:20).

The cross was intended for evil, but God meant it for good. It was the Father’s will because “without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22b). Just as a lamb had to die at the first Passover for the first-born in every household to live, so Jesus had to die that we might live. Paul said, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him, we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

And that, my friend, is right!

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for dying on the cross for me, because of me, and instead of me-the ultimate act of love. You are “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29b). I praise You because You rose from the grave and are coming again. In our Resurrected Lord’s Name, Amen.

No Whining

martha no whining“Budden budden budden budden budden,” hummed the little fourth-grade boy’s imaginary motorboat as he sat in his desk during recess. In close proximity to him sat a classmate who was stretching a rubber band in and out, nonstop. While they were busy doing their favorite things, I worked at my desk.

After several minutes, I heard a knock at the door and in walked the principal. “This should be interesting,” I thought to myself as I said, “Good morning, Mrs. Cefalu.” Very amused and quite puzzled, she looked at both students and then at me waiting for an explanation. Knowing I didn’t need to keep her in suspense, I spoke rather nonchalantly, “Oh, don’t mind these students, Mrs. Cefalu. They’re just doing what they love to do. One enjoys making motorboat sounds and the other gets a kick out of playing with rubber bands.” Continue reading

Technical Difficulties

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You Know Your Kid Was Born In Louisiana When…

Here’s what happened. Anna, ourfirst born, had taken her two boys to the dermatologist early one morning before school. As usual, she had to fill out new patient paperwork. After completing eight-year-old Chase’s and setting it aside she worked on twelve-year-old Jake’s. Amazingly, Chase put down his iPod Touch—that’s the amazing part–picked up his paperwork, and began to check out what his mom had written about him. Never being one to stifle any thoughts, he questioned why the form asked how much coffee or tea he drinks each day. Then he proceeded to inform his mom that she had made a mistake. Pointing at the sheet he stated, “But mom, I HAVE used tobacco!”

“No, you haven’t, Chase,” Anna said adamantly as her heart skipped a beat.

“Yes, I HAVE!” Chase protested. “You know, that one time?”

Looking around the waiting room to see who was witnessing this conversation about tobacco use by her eight-year old son, Anna tried not to panic. Just before she launched into a full blown interrogation, older brother Jake came to the rescue. Rolling his preteen eyes at his little brother’s confusion and knowing the potential repercussions for this little dude—that Chase would be forever grounded from his iPod Touch—Jake said, “Mom—Chase means TABASCO!”

“Chase, do you mean the red stuff you put on your food?” Anna asked hopefully.

“Yes, that’s what I said—TOBACCO!”

I never heard the rest of that story but I would be willing to bet that Chase’s mom had either a field trip to the refrigerator or the local grocery store planned when he got home from school that afternoon. Trust me, that kid will never get tobacco and Tabasco mixed up again.

When Anna told me this story I laughed and said, “You know your kid was born in Louisiana when he can get tobacco and Tabasco mixed up.”

I would say that words are pretty important, wouldn’t you? It’s amazing how much difference one little vowel and one little consonant can make. Have you like many of us been humbled by autocorrect on your smart phone or by just plain careless typing? For some reason it’s hard for me to type the letter o on my phone. Invariably I hit the letter i instead. My texts often say, “I live you,” when I’m trying to say, “I love you.” But it’s okay because the girls now know how to translate my texts.

Now, I know what you are thinking—if that’s the worst typo you’ve made, sister, consider yourself lucky! Right? Well, let me assure you I have sent my share of goofy communications.  It’s easy to text or email something pretty stupid or even obscene with the substitution of a few vowels or consonants by autocorrect or carelessness.

Quite often we use our words whether spoken or written rather flippantly never stopping to think about their potential impact. That’s why the Bible has so much advice for us regarding our speech. Not always but for the most part we choose how our words affect others. Solomon reminded us, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing,” (Proverbs 12:18). I’m sure you like I have been the recipient of careless words or just plain mean ones. They hurt!

But have you like I been the dispenser of careless words or words that were deliberately designed to wound? Jesus said that’s a heart problem because “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34b). Just as we know a tree is an apple tree because of its fruit, Christians are known by the fruit of their lips (v. 35). Solomon said that “a wise man’s heart guides his mouth” (Proverbs 16:23a).

Jesus made it clear that we are stewards of our words. He warned, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (vv. 36-37).

While young children born and raised in Louisiana may innocently get tobacco and Tabasco mixed up, may the children of God not use their words irresponsibly. Today, let’s silence our machete mouths and refrain from leaving wounded victims in our paths. Instead, let’s choose loving, encouraging words that bring healing.

I would say that words are pretty important, wouldn’t you?

Dear Lord, help me to be a good steward of my words today. Remind me to choose kind words that heal rather than reckless words that pierce like a sword. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). In Jesus’ Name, Amen.