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Archive for the ‘Pondering Biblical Truth’ Category

Faith rockThere are surely no coincidences with the Lord!

Well over a month ago, my pastor asked me to teach Sunday school April 23. “I’d like you to look at the issues around Thomas and his doubting,” Pastor Jay said.

Okay. I could do that. What I didn’t know was how much I needed to do that.

It’s taken the better part of today to pull together my thoughts. A good bit of that time I spent online watching videos of the events surrounding Jesus’ death and Resurrection. I felt the disciples’ pain when Jesus said He was leaving and their despair when He died.

Suddenly Jesus stood among them — alive! But Thomas wasn’t there. Despite the exuberant witness of his friends, Thomas insisted that he would not believe until he saw Jesus face-to-face — until he touched His wounds.

Why did Thomas doubt? I suspect he was too afraid to believe. What if his friends were mistaken? The risk of facing the Deadly Ds that had already threatened to destroy him was just too great. The pain of more disappointment, discouragement, and disillusionment was more than he could handle. It was easier to doubt than to believe.

Scripture assures us:

Those who believe in Christ will never be disappointed.
Romans 10:11 TLB

But do we believe it, really believe it?

Doubts are my frequent companion as I struggle to stay on top of the countless details of directing not one but two Christian writers conferences. I feel inadequate and fearful that I won’t be able to get everything done in time. Despite His faithfulness the past 33 years I’ve directed the Philly conference and the 20 years I’ve directed Colorado, I doubt not Him but myself.

Then once again I’m reminded of the first words I ever felt Him speak to my spirit:

Child, I never promised it would be easy to follow Me,
but I have promised always to be with you.

There are days I long to escape to a place where I have everything under control. But there really is no such place — at least not if I’m to follow where He leads. And such a place would be devoid of the joy of knowing His enabling to do what I can never do in my own strength. So I choose to keep on keeping on, fixing my eyes on Jesus my leader and instructor who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.

What about you? Will you give Him your doubts and step out in faith to do what He is calling you to do?

Lord, when doubts fill my mind,
when my heart is in turmoil,
quiet me and give me renewed hope & cheer.
Psalm 94:19 TLB

P.S. Tradition says that Thomas travelled to India where he established churches and was martyred for his faith. Click here for several powerful scenes from The Life of Jesus, The Gospel of John.

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They had believed He was the Messiah.
Leaving everything behind,cross-1448946__180
they followed Him.
The Kingdom of God
had seemed so real, so near.
He healed the sick,
fed the hungry,
calmed the storm at sea –
and in their hearts.
His words had given them life
and hope and purpose.
But now He was dead.
How could they have been
so mistaken, so misled?

Hiding in the room
where He had broken the bread
and passed the cup,
hopelessness and despair
closed in around them.
They laughed –
a cold, hard, bitter laugh –
when Mary said she had seen Him.
People didn’t come back to life
after dying on a cross.

Suddenly the darkness shattered
Jesus and Thomasat the sound of the familiar voice.
“Peace be with you.”
Jesus stood before them
not dead – but alive!
Light filled the room
and the darkness in their hearts.
Everything He had taught them
was true.
He was and is and shall be
alive – forevermore!

Christ is risen.
He is risen, indeed!

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Only Love

Jesus on cross

Despised and rejected.
Forsaken – it seemed,
even by His Father
who turned His face away,
Jesus writhed in agony,
His hands and His feet
nailed to a tree.

“They’re not worth it,”
Satan must have taunted.
“Come down from the cross.
Give them what they deserve.
Death – now
and for eternity!”

All of heaven’s armies
stood on alert – ready
to obey the Son’s command.
Would Jesus choose
to save Himself – or men?
Would He endure to the end?

Only love kept Jesus on the cross
knowing only His blood
could set men free.
“It is finished!” He shouted.
Sin and death no longer reign.
Christ has won the victory!

Marlene Bagnull

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No Other Way

Jesus in Gethsemane

But Father,

is there no other way?

I can go to the Cross,

yet there is no guarantee

My sacrifice will make

any difference.

Even though I pay the price for sin,

and offer the gift of eternal life,

men are reticent to change.

They may reject the gift I offer.

I may suffer in vain.

And yet, Father, if there is but one

who will come to You

as a result of My shed blood . . .

Father, I give myself to Your plan

for the redemption of mankind.

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Today we remember how Jesus rode into Jerusalem as the crowds cheered, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Yet less than a week later they shouted “Crucify him!”

Jesus entering Jerusalem

None of this caught Jesus by surprise. Indeed, we’re told in Hebrews 12:2 (TLB) that “He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards.”

Have you stopped to consider that you are the reason for His joy?

Years ago my pastor’s wife told me that if I was the only person on this earth, Jesus still would have come and died just for me.

We know that He is coming again but that He tarries because He does not want even one to be lost. And so He is calling you, He is calling me, to “Get His Word Out.”

An outline of this message – really a Bible study that I’ve given several times as a keynote – is available online. I hope you’ll download it and make time to prayerfully consider the passages. This week as you focus on Jesus’ passion, ask Him how He wants to use you to share His love with those who do not yet know He loved them enough to go to the cross.

Our story – One of the most powerful ways to reach those who do not yet know Jesus as Savior and Lord is through stories of our encounter with Him. If you live in the Lancaster, PA, area I encourage you to come this Tuesday morning to the workshop I’m teaching on “Writing the Personal Experience Story.” It’s also available on CD.

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Reminder 
– The price for the May 17-20 Colorado Christian Writers Conference increases April 16. I know the Lord will meet us on the mountain and encourage and equip us to “write His answer.”

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Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, July 26-29
 – 
I am rejoicing for the 52 agents, editors, and authors that Father has called to serve on the faculty. I’m beginning the process of updating the website and hope to open online registration April 17.

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blessed

“Blessed is He
who comes in the name of the Lord!”
The crowd cheered and sang praises.
They waved palm branches
and threw their cloaks before Him.
But Jesus was solemn as He traveled that road –
that road to the cross.

As God incarnate He knew all that was to come.
He saw not just His own death on the cross,
but the persecution of His followers
and the destruction of Jerusalem.
He saw nation rising against nation –
the madness of yet-to-be-born rulers.
And Jesus wept.

He would be wounded and bruised for our sins,
chastised that we might have peace,
lashed that we might be healed;
yet few would accept His gift of life.
The darkness of evil would continue to reign,
but the light of His love
would not be extinguished.

Entrusted to us,
His light will grow brighter.
A cloud of witnesses are cheering us on,
to daily take up our own cross
and follow Him closely.
Blessed is He who is coming – again!

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My constant boast is God.
I can never thank you enough!”
Psalm 44:8 TLB

“How was your week?” a friend asked me at church last Sunday.

“Awful,” I said as I began sharing the details of my stressful week.

He interrupted me. “Well, did anything good happen? Isn’t there anything you’re thankful for?”

Ouch! It had been a tough week – a week where I’d been focused on the problems rather than on the Lord and the many, many reasons I had to be thankful. This week hasn’t been any easier. But then Jesus never said it would be easy to follow Him. What He has promised is always to be with us.

His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”
Psalm 91:4 NLT

  • Thank You, Father, for Your promises.
  • Thank You for the problems (yes, I know it’s better to call them “challenges”) that cause me to need to rely upon You.
  • Help me to thank You for my computer especially when it exasperates me. It enables me to do so much more than the manual typewriter I used years ago.
  • Thank You for the opportunity to teach the “Grow Your Writing Ministry” day-long seminar in New Jersey March 25 even though the prep is taking far more time than I anticipated. Click here for more info and to register.

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  • Thank You that I live in a nation where I am still free to live and to write Your answer.

What about you, friends? Have you remembered to say “thank You”?

Hallelujah! Thank GOD! Pray to him by name!
Tell everyone you meet what he has done!”
Psalm 105:1 MSG

New WHA cover
    Are problems (challenges) discouraging you? Are you battling self-doubts, writer’s block, rejection slips, procrastination? My book, Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers, has 33 chapters of answers I found during my journey of publishing 9 books and making over 1,000 sales to Christian periodicals. And to my amazement it’s been in print for 25 years! Click here for excerpts and ordering info.
    Yes, planning not one but two conferences is stressful, but thank You, Father, for all You are doing and will do.

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