Palm Sunday

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Honestly, I hate palm trees.

As a native Floridian, I know that may sound sacrilegious but I really find them to be ugly, messy trees. They just don’t have the beauty of the willowy drake elm or fine spread of a wide oak tree. However, in Jesus’ time the palm branch symbolized triumph and victory. I get it.

So this week, I’m all about the palms. It’s Palm Sunday tomorrow and a day to remember something special. It was a great day when people cheered Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Every day I welcome Jesus into my heart and home. I love Him so. I pray, read, study and discuss the Bible with friends. I talk about Jesus grace and love for me. I worship Him.

But, I also know that I don’t live up to my Christian calling. I make mistakes, big mistakes, and I am not the person God has called me to be. It’s not for lack of trying; it is simply the failings of the flesh and the sinful nature of my soul. I don’t want to sin, I just do.

So while I know that I would have almost certainly be in the crowd praising Jesus’ arrival, I wonder if I wouldn’t have also been one to stand at the cross. Would I have denied him three times or would I have carried His cross?

I know what I would hope to do. I know how much I love Jesus. But I also know that God knows all of this and loves me just the same. Grace, grace, God’s grace – grace that is greater than my sin.

In my heart, I’m waving my palm branch! Hosanna!

Herding Black Sheep

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I think black sheep get a bad rap. Let’s be honest, we are all black sheep…there is not a spotless lamb among us. 

I become exasperated when I hear anyone say they don’t attend church because it is consumed by hypocrites, liars and thieves. That’s just an excuse. If anyone thinks the church is perfect and blameless then they are ignorant. Any church that claims to be so should be ashamed.

To be honest, the church isn’t the problem – I compare the modern church to a hospital for those who have the incurable illness we also call sin. This world won’t fix them – only God can do so. The church just puts a sturdy band-aid on the problem.

To dismiss organized religion under the excuse of avoiding sinners is the absolute height of hypocrisy. I don’t know about you…but the plank in my eye is so large and sin so great that I wouldn’t dare to condemn anyone else of wrong-doing. I’m working too hard on my own issues.

Church is exactly where sinners should be. A fellowship of believers who strive for “more” is a good thing. It’s where we belong. 

In this world, the church is a safe haven for sinners until we reach glory where we will be washed white as snow by the only One who remains blameless and free of sin.

The good Shepherd awaits.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6

Crossed wires at the Cross…

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Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8

We had the most unusual thing occur in church today. The wireless microphone system crossed wires with something or someone outside the church and for the longest and most annoying length of time, we heard a rather jarring conversation during the sermon and service.

As I watched the priests scramble frantically to find the offending noise, it dawned on me that this is exactly how things have been going for me lately.

I have not done my part to be still, pray and listen for God’s sweet voice in my ear. I have let the distractions of this world drag me down and disappoint me. I have not listened to the one person who can make my day better. I have been totally distracted.

Sin has a way of doing that. It takes me out of the present and away from God. I don’t like it but I find myself in that wasteland more than I care to admit.

The Dean finally explained that a movie crew was filming close-by and once alerted, changed frequencies so the service could continue uninterrupted. I think I heard an audible sigh of relief from all in attendance (no pun intended).

I ask God, here and now, to remind me to turn off distractions and turn to Him. Life is so much better when we don’t walk it alone.

What a relief.

Blemishes

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For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23

Each morning when I wake, the first thing upon which I gaze is the blemished corner of my bedside dresser.

It is just a little blemish but it’s familiar to me. It starts my awakening to a new day. It reminds me I am alive.

The mark serves as a daily reminder that we live blemished lives. It is simply unavoidable. It doesn’t mean we can’t strive for more, it doesn’t mean we can’t try to live a righteous life, and it doesn’t mean we can excuse our wrongdoings. We can never do that.

We follow a Savior who has washed away our sins. We worship a God who gave up His only unblemished Son for us. We carry on with the spirit of love.

Blemishes remind us and they guide us

to

glory.