The morning light was beginning to break through the sides of the truck partly covered with canvas. It had been our cabin for the night of camping by the Tennessee River. I looked out of the rear flap that had been folded back to let in the morning sun and smelled the aroma of bacon being cooked, coffee perking, and smoke from the fires of each moving across our campground. I saw my dad bending over the fire tending to the bacon and looking now and then across the still fog cover river. I was about nine when this warm and wonderful memory was carved into my soul. It had been a great weekend with dad and some of his friends and their sons and now we would share a campfire breakfast together. I could see some of the fish caught the night before prepared for the fire and a couple of the other fathers gathering to stretch, get a cup of coffee, and maybe cast a line for an early morning bite by the fish of their dreams. My father was cooking, I was delighted. It would become one of my best mornings. So it must have been on the sea when the fishermen heard the call of Christ to cast on the other side and then to bring some of their catch and have breakfast with Him. The risen Christ had arrived early, prepared breakfast for his friends and now waited for them to join Him. What a moment! What a morning! Try breakfast with Jesus and do it soon.
At our home on 246 South Lindsey Street my dad had built a large work shop out back. It was both a wood working shop as well as a place for dad to show his collection of Indian artifacts. I still remember a winter when I was about six that it snowed really deep. Of course to a six year old boy who was very small for his age five or six inches seemed like a couple of feet. I was thrilled with the white covering of our Lindsey Street world and had spent the day outside playing in its beauty. After supper dad decided to go out to his shop and I decided to follow him. Since my boots were wet and put away to dry I only had on my school shoes and did not wish to get them wet so I devised a great plan; I jumped from footprint to footprint that my father had left in his walk to the shop. To my joy I arrived at the shop with shoes clean and dry. I learned something that late afternoon, follow your Fathers steps and you have a great path. Later as a father I learned to leave footprints that would allow your children to follow you anywhere without going astray.
Part of the Problem
We all know that our nation has a problem, our local communities and even our own families; in the deep of our hearts we know that things have slipped, and ugly has taken the place of decency and beauty. I think I may have hit on some to the examples of our problem. I went shopping yesterday in Nashville, now I do very little shopping and I know that I am very spoiled for living for the most part in Byrdstown I am treated really great when I go into one of our stores, they all seem to be glad to see me and happy that I have dropped in even if I spend very little. Mr. Scott at the Farm Supply answers the dumbest questions I ask. But yesterday I went in a big box store, you know the one, they sell lots of thing guys like, I went back to the area where they sell garden supplies and asked the lady if they had any ‘river rock’ in bags, she said she was too busy to help me, that she had too many other people to take care of; so I left, I had $200 I wanted to spend but decided that I would go to the other big box store, they sell most of the same stuff, there when I asked for ‘river rock’ I was told by a man that he was sure they did but there was no one in that department and he did not know anything about it; well I needed a couple of other things and picked up one that I found on my own, since I had only one item and they have a self check out lane I decide to do the work myself, well it didn’t seem to go well, a young lady walked over, pushed in some buttons, and begin to assist me; now I like to talk to people so I asked what I had done wrong and if she could explain it to me so that I could use it next time, she never spoke a word, she handed me my card, the receipt, and item, I told her that they needed someone in the rock area, she looked at me put her finger over her mouth with the universal sign for don’t talk; I told her I was sorry that she could not speak, it was then that her voice came back; I am talking to another employee over this, pointing to an ear piece, I asked if she expected to be able to talk to me soon, she shook her head no, pointed back to the earpiece, I excused myself, thanked her and said I hoped she had a nice day, as I was leaving the employee she was talking with came up and they continued to talk over their head sets, wow, I think maybe the store was on fire for it must have been very important, yet they did not run, they just laughed and enjoyed their topic of conversation. I went down from our house about a mile to Ace, spent my $200 and got all the help and assistance I needed, maybe we need to get back to wanting a job, needing a job, and doing a job.
Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Luke 24:5
Jesus died that afternoon there on the hill called Calvary and the sun begin to fall beneath the horizon. Jewish law said that a body could not hang exposed overnight; Roman law said that a kinsman could claim it; otherwise it would remain until the birds devoured it or someone threw it in the dump. Those who loved him had no place in Jerusalem to place the body of Jesus. So darkness began to claim it. Joseph of Arimathea came to Pilate and asked for the body, then he and the once bashful, secret follower Nicodemus took the body of Christ down and place it in the tomb Joseph had prepared for himself. These two men shy and cowardly in life, both members of the Sanhedrin, now did what Jesus had said would be done. “If I be lifted up I will draw all men to me.” They were drawn without fear to care for the fallen body of Jesus. Rome made the tomb secure with the seal of government and guards stood watch over it so that no thief could rob the grave. But then came Sunday and when the light of the Eastern sky begin to remove the darkness those who loved him came on that first day of the week that they might complete the ritual of burial of their beloved Jesus. He was not in that tomb His use of the cave had been short lived and not even the royal guards nor the seal of the Empire could hold back the opening of the tomb. Jesus was Alive and Jesus is Alive. Joseph has his tomb returned for it was not kept. And we have a Living, Risen Lord.
The spit of the guards ran down his beard, his back bled with the crimson red of his blood and his body exposed to the world could barely stand, It was Good Friday. The crown of thorns placed on his head pained with every move, the people cheered, called him names and called for his death, It was Good Friday. The nails forever marked his hands and feet, these scars would be carried even into eternity, his friend denied knowing him, his mother wept at the foot of the now raised cross, It was Good Friday. The sun grew dark, the earth shook, the holy veil of the temple was torn, the Father’s face was hid, and he cried in pain, It was Good Friday. The debt He did not owe was paid, my debt which I could not pay was forgiven, It was Good Friday.
It Was Thursday
It was Thursday, the meal had been prepared and Jesus and all of His disciples stood around the table dressed, ready to travel, and ate the meal, it was the custom of the day, for they would remember how their people had been saved the night the angel of death passed over the doors marked by the blood of the Lamb, though most would not realized it; this was the last Passover, never again would such a meal be required for now they stood in the presence of The Lamb, tomorrow would see the Lamb slain, the blood spilled, and sin forever paid for, it was Thursday. They hurried for a seat at the table, all wanted to be as near to Jesus as they could be, but He, He was wrapped in a towel, caring a bowl of water washing their feet; God of the universe, maker of Heaven and Earth, bowing before them, washing their feet. It was Thursday.
He took the bread and blessed it, reminded them that it would be his body which would be given for them and they ate; He took the cup and spoke of His blood which would be shed for their sins, they drink from it; It Was Thursday.
Never again would a lamb have to die to remind them of forgiveness, never again would the post of the door be required to be marked by the blood, the Passover was over, It was Thursday and tomorrow He would pay it all.
The Unknown Story
He knew there was something about the man, something very special, he had done a lot of wonderful things and as he had watched for three years he still did not know the trick that he must have used to do those deeds. Sure the people liked the miracles, blind men seeing, lame men walking, dead man coming out of a grave, he never could get close to figuring that one out, of course he had told them that he was God’s son, but it just didn’t add up, the Romans were still in charge and now he was talking about going to Jerusalem but not to lead the people in battle but to die, the son of God doesn’t die, why would he?
Then he let that woman take that very expensive perfume and pour it on him, how unlike a Jewish leader, he didn’t know of one Rabbi who would have let a woman like her touch him, why she did not belong in the room, that was wrong, no good Rabbi would have allowed it. Besides he could have put the value of that perfume to some really good use, it would have gone a long way in his old age fund. Something had to happen, it was time, the people gathered in Jerusalem were ready for a good fight; they needed a leader, a real leader, not a teacher but a doer.
He had watched the people worship him, bow before him, sing about him, now was the time. If the Priest arrested him the people would step in and the Romans would respond and he could rally the people, he was a doer, a real leader, he could do it, he could; besides if it didn’t work out he would still have the thirty pieces of silver.
The Unknown Story because I just made it up, but I promise you there are a lot of people who even after Jesus came out of that grave do not believe in Him and there are thousands, even millions who would trade him for some greenbacks. Ivan
He heard the people as they came shouting down the road, the Teacher is coming, the Teacher is coming; his mother told him to bring the knife and to cut leaves from the palm trees and spread them on the road, There were so many people that he had to climb a tree to see the man they were all shouting about; He was on a donkey, followed by a group of men and the people lining the road where shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’, the boy called to his mother, ‘Who is this?’ but she never heard or never answered. He had never seen so many people, never heard such a cry from the people as they seemed to worship the man on the donkey. ‘I wonder who He is’, the boy thought as the people came by and He entered the city, ‘I wonder who He is?’
A few days later his mother pulled him along as they followed the mass of people, again they were more than he had seen before, so many people and now they were shouting, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him” The boy could not understand, was this not the same man that he had cup palm leaves for, the same man whom they had bowed to and called, Hosanna to? What had happened, what had changed; he looked at his mother and her face was laced with terror but her shouts were, Crucify Him, Crucify Him. He pulled at her arm and with tears streaming said ‘Mother, mother is this not the same man as the Hosanna man just a few days ago?’ She looked at him in terror and shouted and screamed louder, Crucify Him.
I Worry – A Lot
Now I know what you are thinking; I thought you were a minister, preacher, and pastor of a church, how can you worry? Well let me tell you how; just wake-up, that is all it will take, maybe turn on the news just to get the weather and hear all that is taking place around you; worried yet? Hey I went to the doctor on Wednesday, he was busy so I had some time to kill; he has these great medical books, wow, I found four new diseases that I have that I did not even know about, cures, medicine, all sorts of things in that office; you are going to worry.
I start worrying on Sunday night about what I am going to preach on Wednesday night and the next Sunday; I love to get ahead. I know I hear you; as a preacher how can you worry about your sermons? Easy, just think I am going to say here is what God wants me to share with you; is that not a proper subject to worry about? I really have to listen close, pray, study, think and yes worry a bit, I really do need to get that one right. Then there is my age; just think I am going to die sooner than most of you, what if no one comes to the funeral, what if people say; glad that is over? Don’t get ahead of me, I do not worry about where I am going, that is not the problem; it is the getting there, now don’t you worry just a bit? Of course this could go on for a long time; was I a good person, good husband, father, friend, pastor, yep we could be here for a long time. Just think about the people who have no hope for the future, the list is for all eternity.
But that which troubles me the most, grinds at my heart, places shadows over the future is my concern for my nation. I love America but it breaks my heart and brings worry to my soul what we are doing to the greatest nation in all of history. God has placed us in this wonderful land and we have so misused it, abused it, and allowed freedom to mean anything to all that is wrong and nothing to all that God holds dear. We act like we hate anyone and everyone who dares to hold a different view; we know better, views we can oppose, dislike, but people; people should be treasured, loved, and given the hope in God that we have found.
A Friend Not Remembered
Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking the rooster crowed. Luke 22:60
I saw them gathered outside the church door, all the preachers who had just left the meeting. As I approached I noticed that they were all joining in on a – Rip your fellow minister apart – party. They were just spreading more gossip and enjoying all of it. They asked me what I thought and I paused a moment and said, “Have you ever heard him pray?” With that I watched as they begin to break up and move toward their own cars. I was sure that two of the men knew exactly what I was saying; they had to remember when the friend they were destroying had prayed for them and held their hands in a time of personal hardship. The accused man had been one of only two of us who had attended the funeral of one of the preacher’s new born son. Another was about to loose his church when this ‘friend’ he now forgot had helped him pull it together. It is so easy for us to climb onto the trash building over another, it makes us seem so much taller, but in truth we are not, we are just standing on garbage and we have just forgotten a friend. The rumors were flying through the Low Country and in time would cost the man they were stabbing to lose his job and his heart. Years later the truth would be known and all of them were wrong, but that is not the point, the point was they had a Friend Not Remembered. Be careful when you find others guilty; remember Jesus is a friend who will never forget you.