Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes, and General Mental Mayhem


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Resurrection

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I’ve been thinking about an Easter post all week. What would I say? What point would I make? How do I stress it enough? It’s sort of the Christian Super Bowl so I wanted to give it the weight it deserves.

Honestly, in the end, it just came down to the fact that anything I say would pale in comparison with the text in the Bible. Those of us that grew up in the church easily become dull to Scripture, sadly, because it’s nothing new and it can be repetitive week after week. Like everything else, we can desensitize ourselves to its glory. Living text can become black and white (and red) words on a page. And though those are certainly phases and spiritual plateaus we are sure to experience, I would urge you to see something new this week. I would encourage you to look at it with fresh eyes. I would challenge you to wait in anticipation of God to speak new truths into your life. It’s the Good News. And it’s ALWAYS going to be the Good News. Find something good to hold on to. Dig in until excitement takes hold. Remind yourself that though much emphasis is often given to the cross, and deservedly so, that’s not the end of the story. There was a third day. And the third day is miraculous. It was, and is, freedom. And freedom, friends, is good indeed.

Free someone else with the power of this Good News. None of us deserves it, but that is certainly the point.

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John 20:1-31 (NLT version)

THE RESURRECTION

“Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. 10 Then they went home.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.

“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

16 “Mary!” Jesus said.

She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

17 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus Appears to Thomas

24 One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. 25 They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

Purpose of the Book

30 The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.”


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Yet

I am currently reading through Psalms. I gotta say, it’s not my favorite. I know many people enjoy reading Psalms and Proverbs for their comfort, insight and wisdom. But I really have a hard time getting through them, and always have. I think it is because there is no real narrative. Lots of people feel that way about some of the other books of the Old Testament, but for me, I’d rather read through something like Lamentations because at least there is a story flowing through the book.

Anyway, the other night I read Psalms 22 and it struck me in such a profound way. I’ve read it before, but I guess that’s one of the beautiful things about the Bible…you can read through it over and over, and still find new insights. It speaks to me differently depending on where I am in life.

Psalm 22

New Living Translation (NLT)

1 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
2 Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.

3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 Our ancestors trusted in you,
and you rescued them.
5 They cried out to you and were saved.
They trusted in you and were never disgraced.

6 But I am a worm and not a man.
I am scorned and despised by all!
7 Everyone who sees me mocks me.
They sneer and shake their heads, saying,
8 “Is this the one who relies on the LORD?
Then let the LORD save him!
If the LORD loves him so much,
let the LORD rescue him!”

9 Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb
and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.
10 I was thrust into your arms at my birth.
You have been my God from the moment I was born.

11 Do not stay so far from me,
for trouble is near,
and no one else can help me.
12 My enemies surround me like a herd of bulls;
fierce bulls of Bashan have hemmed me in!
13 Like lions they open their jaws against me,
roaring and tearing into their prey.
14 My life is poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart is like wax,
melting within me.
15 My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay.
My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.
16 My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs;
an evil gang closes in on me.
They have pierced my hands and feet.
17 I can count all my bones.
My enemies stare at me and gloat.
18 They divide my garments among themselves
and throw dicefor my clothing.

19 O LORD, do not stay far away!
You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!
20 Save me from the sword;
spare my precious life from these dogs.
21 Snatch me from the lion’s jaws
and from the horns of these wild oxen.

22 I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.
I will praise you among your assembled people.
23 Praise the LORD, all you who fear him!
Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob!
Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.
He has not turned his back on them,
but has listened to their cries for help.

25 I will praise you in the great assembly.
I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied.
All who seek the LORD will praise him.
Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.
27 The whole earth will acknowledge the LORD and return to him.
All the families of the nations will bow down before him.
28 For royal power belongs to the LORD.
He rules all the nations.

29 Let the rich of the earth feast and worship.
Bow before him, all who are mortal,
all whose lives will end as dust.
30 Our children will also serve him.
Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord.
31 His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born.
They will hear about everything he has done.

I’d like to draw your attention to the “yet” at the beginning of verses three and nine. One of the things I’ve always loved about David, as the supposed writer of Psalms or at least many of them, is that he was a bit bipolar. He is loving life in one verse and cursing it in the next. I like to think it’s the artist in him. We are a sensitive bunch. I have no proof, but I suspect we are way more likely to experience things like depression than the concrete thinkers. So, in always being led by my heart and forever a drama geek, I appreciate a good show of dramatic flair.

And as I started this Psalm, I smiled at myself as I could see David heading for one of those hairpin turns. But then I got to verse three and I stopped. I reread it. I pondered. I kept reading. I saw it again in verse nine. I reread it. I pondered. I finished the Psalm.

It dawned on me.

David seemed to be having a pretty bad day. Like Jack Bauer 24 bad from the sound of it. But in the midst of it, he was able to have perspective. He got outside his circumstance to recognize God for who He was and is. I thought that was pretty remarkable. After all, we get pretty selfish (or at least I do) when everything seems to be against us. We (I) tend to draw inward and be consumed with our (my) own hardships. It’s easy to play the victim or remember all the other times things went badly. Especially if this has been a recent trend. And we know from reading any five, random Psalms that David had his share of bad days.

I admire, though, that he took time to talk himself through it. He stepped back and took a deep breath. The beginning of the Psalm has such a different tone than the end. At first he laments the things that are going wrong. Then he takes the time to recognize that God is still good, even when things are bad. He wavers a bit after that, but devotes the remainder of the verses to how he will still love and serve the Lord in spite of his circumstance.

I guess it’s easy to see in times like these why David was a man after God’s own heart. He was honest with God. He loved God. He shared his life with God. He even did a lot of complaining to God. He composed music and poetry for God. The foundation of it all came back to the fact that he desired a relationship with God. It’s a beautiful example of both God and David’s character.

Bad times will always be a part of life on this earth, yet God and His promises remain the same. There’s a time for eternal laughter, singing, joy and happiness…but not yet.