Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Bride Price

In 1998, I picked up a book that has changed the way I understand the crucifixion, Jesus’ sacrifice and God’s power. I like to reread it around Easter (Resurrection Sunday) because of the affect it has on me.

Though this is a little out there, I cannot deny the response my heart has as I read it. I’m drawn closer to Jesus. In fact, I remember excitedly reporting to my pastor twelve years ago the effects of reading this book and adding a disclaimer, “Whether it’s legit or not, I’m closer to Jesus and celebrating His power and His sacrifice, so nothing’s been lost.” The point wasn’t an argument about the authenticity of the book’s subject, but rather how God used it to draw me to Him. Curious?

You probably immediately recognized the picture in this post. It’s from the Shroud of Turin. And the book I’m referring to is Unlocking the Secrets of the Shroud by Gilbert R. Lavoie (now out of print). First, this scientist shows the evidence that the shroud is legitimate and supernatural—there is no paint present on or in the fibers, but there is blood present. He breaks down the scientific and medical evidence from true scientists who’ve studied the shroud, some not even Christians (i.e. no stake in proving this is Jesus’ burial shroud).

The fact that the image is a negative (think photography) is phenomenal. When you photograph the shroud’s image and develop it, the “negative” will produce a positive image. But either way (the final negative image, or the negative’s positive image), the image is three dimensional.

What astonishes me is the image is created from light “flashing” from the inside of the body (my interpretation from reading the book). (Again, think photography.) Life. And, the feet are in the “dangling above the ground” position when this light hits and creates the image. Power.

Get this: This body was lifted up, suspended upright (hair is not splayed around the head as if lying down) above the ground, infused powerfully with life and light and healed before the shroud fell away and the body stood again. Before the eyes opened, this body experienced a powerful infusion of light bursting forth from the inside while denying gravity. Extraordinary.

The image also depicts the pain Jesus suffered for us. The 100 scourge marks along his entire body, front and back. The nail holes in ankles and wrists. The blood around the head from thorns. The side wound. (There were many males crucified by Roman soldiers. How many were 1) scourged first (probably many); 2) wore a crown of thorns (rarer); 3) had blood flow from their sides (without broken legs)?

So, okay, you caught me. I do believe this is the burial shroud of Jesus and that God gave us an amazing piece of evidence which has survived a fire, as well as water damage and two millennia. (linen can last this long)

It’s the power depicted that captures me every time I read this book.

It’s the love depicted that makes me worship Jesus anew.

It’s the sacrifice that brings me to thanksgiving and helps me celebrate Resurrection Sunday with a fresh perspective.

It’s Jesus’ bride price, what He paid for us to know God and be forgiven, that woos me.

What a Bridegroom! He paid for His bride with His life, then offered that life to her. To us. Hallelujah!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Called Away

Do you hear that? Your name on a whisper. (What a personal God--He calls us by name.)

Does your schedule permit personal time with God?

In the mornings, I sit down with my Bible, journal and a pencil box full of crayons, actually. I like to highlight and date Scriptures as they stand out to me. Every penciled-in date is a milestone, a memorial (as God has revealed to me) of a time spent with Him.

But I have an option during that devotional time. I can read, pray and get on with my day, or I can savor His Word, view the passage through the lens of bridal affection (me as the bride, Christ as the Groom) and lavish in His loving attention.

Some mornings limited time keeps me from pursuing His manifest presence. Sometimes it's doubt, or unbelief. Other times it's interruptions or distractions. (Things get kinda hectic around here.)

But what if there were no excuses?

What if I chased after God's manifest presence every single day, achieved that contact, and let Him minister to me while I worship, read, pray or journal? What if I abandoned myself to the truth that He delights in me every day? What if nothing stood in the way of fully encountering Him, not sickness, or interruptions or doubts? In the midst of a busy life, with multiple roles, is it even possible?

Sure. If I prioritize. If His grace pours out on me like rain. If I ask.

So I tell you to ask and you will receive,
search and you will find,

knock and the door will be opened for you.

~ Jesus (Luke 11:9, CEV)

One more verse as food for thought:

O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret places of the cliff,

Let me see your face, Let me hear your voice;

For your voice is sweet, And your face is lovely.

~ the Bridegroom God (Song of Songs 2:14, NKJV)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Lean into His Touch

This morning, I was studying “comfort” verses, where God comforts His people (Isaiah 40:1; 66:13). Later, God showed me I can lean into His touch and be comforted.

What does that mean?

I can let my guards down with God.

I can let Him see just how much I need Him.

I can fully indulge in God’s goodness as He interacts with me.

I don’t have to worry about making a good impression, holding myself together, or any other such “stuff.”

I can just be.

Lean into God’s touch today and know that as a born-again believer, you are accepted in the Beloved. (Eph. 1:6)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Just His Name

This morning, while out for a walk in our lovely spring weather, I noticed an RV with tiny lettering under the RV's make. Those letters, meant to catch the eye of the discerning reader spelled out: Y E S H U A.

My heart stirred.

His name.

Do you know Jesus as Yeshua? That is His Hebrew name, and likely the name people called Him as He was growing up. It's very personal to me. So, even while out for a walk, the Name seemed whispered in the air as I read it, and my heart awakened.

Like a secret, the Name hid there on the parked RV (which I've passed at least thirty times in recent years) called to me, beckoned me to connect again with the One who is always with me. The Bridegroom.

My Bridegroom.