As Easter weekend approaches, I have been thinking about the final week of Jesus' life. One of the stories that is recorded during that final week is of Jesus crying for the city of Jerusalem. If he cried over the city of Jerusalem, can you imagine how he is crying over the world today?
When I was growing up I attended a small church in Fort Lupton, Colorado with my family. The small church shared a pastor with another church. Sometimes when the pastor wasn't there for the mid week prayer service those in attendance would take turns reciting a favorite text. Being somewhat of a smart aleck, I thought it was amusing to say that my favorite verse was John 11:35 – “Jesus wept”.
As I have been studying recently, it has actually become a favorite verse of mine. I believe the simple words, “Jesus wept,” may reveal as much about Jesus as any other words ever said about him.
I’m sure that you remember the story of Lazarus. When he became ill, his sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, the one you love is very sick.” Jesus chose to wait until Lazarus had died before he came. We read the story in John 11:33-35. “When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, he was moved with indignation and was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept”.
Let me ask you a question. Why did Jesus cry? Was it because of his love for Lazarus? He knew Lazarus would be alive in a few minutes. Jesus was crying because of the grief of his friends. He was moved by their sorrow. Jesus is painfully aware of your suffering. When you cry He is aware. Psalms 56:8 tells us, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
There is one other place in the Bible where it tells us that Jesus cried. We find it in Luke 19:41 - “But as they came closer to Jerusalem and Jesus saw the city ahead, he began to cry”.
Why was Jesus crying? Was he crying for a city? I think that Luke 13:34 gives us some insight into this story. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!
Jesus was crying for the people of Jerusalem. He had come to save them, but most were not willing to be saved. Even though they had rejected him and his salvation, he had compassion on them.
As Christians our example is Jesus. If we are to follow the example of Jesus, how should we relate to sinners? We should have compassion. It seems to me that many Christians have lost their compassion. As I look around I don’t always see Christians dealing with others with compassion. I am more apt to see hate than compassion.
I don’t want to meddle, but maybe I will just a little bit. Just think about a few of the hot button topics of our day and see what your response is toward the following groups. Gays, Muslims, Adulterers, Abortionists, Thieves, Drug Dealers, Prostitutes, Atheists, etc.
Do you have compassion on them, or is your response something different? Can you hate someone when you are praying for their salvation? Should we hate someone that Jesus loves and was willing to die for.
Following the example of Jesus and having compassion on sinners is very liberating. It allows us to leave the judging up to God while we practice the self-sacrificing love He demonstrated on the cross. It allows us to hold ourselves to a high moral standard without feeling that we must hate those who do not see things the way we do.
Daniel Darling states, "we must not allow our protest against values with which we disagree to overshadow our responsibility to show Christ's love for the world. It may very well be the person who offends us the most whom God is in the process of saving. And our gracious response might be the bridge that the Spirit uses to usher him from death to life".
A very popular catch phrase in Christianity is,"What Would Jesus Do?". WWJD is found on jewelry, emblazoned on bumper stickers and has made it's way into popular culture. The only way to determine what Jesus would do is by learning what Jesus did.
Jesus cried for a city of sinners who rejected him. He asked his Father to forgive those who tortured and killed him. We should love the "sinner" as Christ loved us sinners and, by our own conduct and words, model a better way. When we uplift the right and the good, sin will appear in its true colors. However, if we do not model the love of Christ and give no evidence of His power in our lives, no amount of argument will induce the "sinner" to give up his sin. Holding a sign that says “God Hates You” is not an effective way to witness to sinners.
Let’s follow the example of Jesus and love sinners and hate the sin in our own lives. John, the disciple that Jesus loved, tells us in 1 John 4:8 “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love”.
My entry for this weeks ABC Wednesday Meme is a picture of my granddaughter Autumn, taken a few years ago, looking into a large kettle at Houmas House.
Houmas House is a restored plantation home on the Mississippi River in Louisiana. The first owners of the plantation were the indigenous Houmas Indians, who were given a land grant to occupy the fertile plain between the Mississippi and Lake Maurepas to the north.
The Houmas sold the land to Maurice Conway and Alexander Latil in the mid 1700's. The original French Provincial house that Latil erected on the property in is situated directly behind the Mansion, adjoined by a carriageway to the grand home described during its antebellum heyday as "The Sugar Palace." The original home was later used as living quarters for the staff that served the great house.
By the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the plantation was established and producing sugar.
In 1810, Revolutionary War hero Gen. Wade Hampton of Virginia purchased the property and shortly thereafter began construction on the Mansion. However, it was not until 1825 when Hampton's daughter, Caroline, and her husband, Col. John Preston, took over the property that the grand house truly began to take shape.
Construction on the Mansion was completed in 1828. At the same time, Houmas House began to build its sugar production and continued to increase its land holdings, which ultimately grew to 300,000 acres.
Here are some more pictures of Autumn taken at Houmas House.
March 26th is Purple Day. Purple is the color associated with Relay For Life. I have been a Relay For Life volunteer for 7 years. But Purple Day is not associated with Relay For Life. Purple Day is the global day of epilepsy awareness. People around the world are asked to wear purple on March 26 and encourage others to do the same.
Epilepsy affects over 50 million people worldwide. That's more than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson's disease combined.
When I was a boy I suffered from a mild form of epilepsy. I had episodes called petit mals. A petit mal seizure is the term commonly given to a staring spell, most commonly called an "absence seizure." It is a brief (usually less than 15 seconds) disturbance of brain function due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain. I had no idea that other people did not experience them. I could feel them coming on and knew to sit down or hold on to something for a few seconds.
MY SCHOOL PHOTO CIRCA 1967
The first time that my Mother witnessed one of my petit mals she was very scared. I guess that my eyes rolled back in my head. I knew that for those few seconds that I could not see, but did not know that my eyes rolled back. I didn't think that it was a big deal, but my Mom said I had to see the doctor as soon as possible. The doctors were able to control the petit mals with medication, and told me that I would most likely outgrow them by the time I was 20. Fortunately I did, and was taken off of the medication by the time I was 18 or 19.
Epilepsy is a medical condition that produces seizures affecting a variety of mental and physical functions. It’s also called a seizure disorder. When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they are considered to have epilepsy.
A seizure happens when a brief, strong surge of electrical activity affects part or all of the brain. One in 10 adults will have a seizure sometime during their life.
Seizures can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. They can have many symptoms, from convulsions and loss of consciousness to some that are not always recognized as seizures by the person experiencing them or by health care professionals: blank staring, lip smacking, or jerking movements of arms and legs.
Please take the time to learn more about this condition that affects over 50 million people worldwide. Based on recent surveys, The Center For Disease Control estimates that nearly 2.5 million people in the United States have epilepsy, with 150,000 developing the condition each year.
One way to get involved is to participate in Purple Day. Purple Day was started in 2008, by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada. It is an international grassroots effort dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy worldwide. On March 26, people from around the globe are asked to wear purple and spread the word about epilepsy. You can learn more about Purple Day by going here.
Tomorrow I am scheduled to arrive at our local hospital early in the morning for a colonoscopy. March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Over the past few decades, more people have been surviving colon cancer, and fewer people have been dying from it. This is thanks to improvements in colon cancer screening. Screening can find colon cancer early before symptoms develop, when it’s easier to treat. Screening can also find growths called polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.
For the past 7 years I have been a volunteer for the American Cancer Society. One of the things that ACS talks a lot about is early detection. Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States among men and women, and is expected to cause about 50,000 deaths during 2013. The fact is that colon cancer is highly treatable. If it’s found and treated early, the 5-year survival rate is about 90%. Because many people are not getting tested, only about 4 out of 10 are diagnosed at this early stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.
The American Cancer Society recommends regular colon cancer screening for most people starting at age 50. People with a family history of the disease or other risk factors should talk with their doctor about beginning screening at a younger age. Regular screening is one of the most powerful weapons for preventing colon cancer. If polyps are found during colon screening, they can usually be removed before they have the chance to turn into cancer. Screening can also result in finding cancer early, when it is easier to treat and more likely to be curable.
When I went to my family doctor for a physical earlier this year he told me that I should think about a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is one of those things that no one want to think about. I decided that I had to practice what I preach about screening and early detection. I found it a bit ironic that I scheduled a colonoscopy during Colon Cancer Awareness Month.
According to the American Cancer Society, your lifestyle choices affect your colon cancer risk. You can lower your risk by eating more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and less red meat (beef, lamb, or pork) and less processed meat (hot dogs and luncheon meat). You should limit alcohol to no more than than 1 drink a day. You can help lower your risk for colon cancer by getting more exercise and staying at a healthy weight. Smoking also increases the risk,so if you smoke, try to kick the habit.
I am at a higher risk for colon cancer than the general population because of my family history. My Uncle Delbert lost his battle with colon cancer several years ago. I lost not only an uncle, but a friend and someone who was willing to help anytime. I will never know if his outcome would have been different if he had been screened for colon cancer. By the time his cancer was found it was in advanced stages. I feel certain that screening would have prolonged his life. Along with my uncle, the majority of Americans do not receive the American Cancer Society recommended colon cancer screening. How many lives would be saved if more people were screened?
If you haven't been screened for colon cancer please talk to your doctor. If you think that a colonoscopy will be unpleasant, just talk to someone who had colon cancer. Go ahead and do it. If I can do it anyone can. The life you save may be your own.
One of life’s biggest questions is our origins. Where did we come from? Genealogy searches have become very popular in recent years as the internet has made historical records more accessible. The TV program, Who Do You Think You Are, shows people learning about their roots. I have really enjoyed watching the program. During each episode, a celebrity is taken on a quest into his or her family history.
Why are people interested in genealogy? They understand that their heritage is part of who they are today. I have been researching my family tree and have traced the Lawry name back to Joseph Laurie who was born in Scotland in 1770. So far the most interesting ancestor I have found is my great great great great grandfather, James Vowels.
According to a document that I found, James Vowels was a soldier in the Army of the Revolution. James was born in Virginia in 1738. He enlisted in 1776 under Captain George Slaughter of the 8th Virginia Regiment. He fought in the Battles of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, Germantown on October 4, 1777 and several others. He wintered with his regiment at Valley Forge and served out the time of his enlistment faithfully.
When his enlistment was up, he came home to Virginia and married Anne Fields in April 1781. After the wedding he again joined the Army and was at the siege of Yorktown. After the surrender of Cornwallis on October 19 1781, he returned home to Culpepper County Virginia where he lived until his death on April 17, 1815.
My great great great great grandfather was a part of some of the most important events in American history. He experienced the hardships if Valley Forge. He was part of the Army that forced the English General Cornwallis to surrender and end the war. He helped America gain its independence. He was a true patriot. I’m proud to be a descendant of James Vowels.
As much fun as it is researching your genealogy, finally you reach a dead end and you can’t trace your family tree back any farther. You are still left with the question, but where did I come from in the beginning?
Who do you think you are? The answer determines how we live our lives. If we are here by an accident of forces our existence is meaningless. If we are here because of God, our life has great worth, purpose, and a promised future beyond death.
In the Bible’s account of human history we read “In the beginning God.” God said, “Let us make man in our image.” Who do you think you are? God says that he made you in his image and likeness. Satan lies and says you were a cosmic accident.
Who do you think you are? You don’t have to determine what your identity is because God has already revealed it. God has told us that He created us. So many people are searching for their identity because they don’t believe that God created them.
Anytime we try to establish our identity and we do not understand it biblically, it results in problems. One problem is when people think too much of themselves and believe they are God-like; that there is divinity within them. New age philosophy teaches that God is in us. That everything is universally connected through God. A similar belief is found in Pantheism. Pantheism is the belief that that nature is identical with divinity. As a part of nature each person is in fact God.
Who do you think you are? If you think you are God, there is nothing to control your behavior.
Another identity that many people assume is that of a highly evolved animal. They say that we’re just lucky animals with thumbs; that really all we are is just highly evolved animals.
Who do you think you are? If you think you are just a highly evolved animal, there is nothing to control your behavior.
The question should not be, who do you think you are, but who does God say you are. The Bible tells us in 1 John 3:1, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” God says that we are his children!
Because we are all God’s children, you are not more valuable than anyone else and you are not less valuable than anyone else. All people equally bear the image and likeness of God; Male and female, young and old, black and white, rich and poor. Some people are richer, some people are smarter, some people are more competent, capable, and able, but all are made in the image and likeness of God. All have dignity, value, and worth. One of the greatest lies is that some people are more valuable than others.
That is why I don’t believe in the survival of the fittest. I don’t believe in Darwinian evolution that says those who are strong survive and those who are weak are worth less. Adolph Hitler’s plan for the Aryan race was based on his study of Darwin’s theory. Christians shouldn't believe in racism, and sexism, because all are equally made in the image and likeness of God.
Who do you think you are? Your answer will profoundly affect your life, your actions, and your salvation.
International World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a way of focusing on how important freshwater is to humanity.
We all need water. For most people in the world, it's not as easy as turning a tap. It takes 5 gallons of water for all of our daily needs—basic hygiene, household chores, and what we consume! Most people around the world do not have access to 5 gallons of freshwater a day, yet the average American uses over 70 gallons per day. I looked at my last water bill, and with the two of us we each used 90 gallons per day.
I never think very much about our water except when I pay the bill. I found some statistics that made me realize how fortunate I am. Over one billion people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. 85% of the world population lives in the driest half of the planet. I need to be reminded how lucky I am.
Even in places that have clean water, a lot of peoples time is spent in carrying water. I'm sure that I wouldn't be using nearly 100 gallons of water a day if I had to carry it several miles. Look at the photos below, and then remember how lucky you are the next time you get a drink of water, use the toilet, wash your hands, or take a shower.
Spend a few moments to watch this short video, and then think about what much of the world has to go through just to have water.
I first met Judith in the spring of 2004 when a group from my church traveled to San Pedro Belize to help build a church. Gina and I made friends with her and her family. Gina never lets me forget that I once told her that Judith was the most beautiful woman in San Pedro.
JUDITH IN 2004
Every time we have visited in Belize we make sure that we get to spend some time with Judith and her kids. She has a lovely family.
JUDITH AND HER CHILDREN
On one trip to Belize we were able to bring Judith's son Andrew a nebulizer which he needed for his asthma. The machines are very expensive in Belize, but we were able to get one at wholesale through a friend who was the administrator of a nursing home. Another friend had 144 doses of the medicine that was needed for use in the nebulizer because of a mistaken shipment that the company would not take back. Before we went through customs in Belize we said a prayer and asked that God would help us get through without paying duty. The one suitcase they opened was the one with the nebulizer and medicine. They asked what it was , and Gina told them it was for asthma. They wanted to know how much medicine was there. Gina told them I hope enough. They let us go through.
ANDREW AT SCHOOL
Judith is active in her church. The Belizeans have a tradition that during the church service, two deacons stand at the front of the church just in front of the pulpit on either side. One church service a year is designated as Womens' Service, and the women are in charge. We happened to be visiting that week, and the women in the church asked Gina to speak. Judith was one of the deaconesses that stood in front of the church during the service. Her daughter wanted to stand with her.
Gina and I love to visit in Judith's home and see her kids. We always try to bring some clothes with us that will fit her kids. They love to try on the clothes and have a little fashion show. When Wal-Mart is having end of summer clearance, we buy clothes and save them for our next trip to Belize.
JUDITH AT HOME
GINA IN JUDITH'S STORE
The last time that we were in Belize, Judith and her daughter walked over a mile from her house to our motel to see us off as we were leaving. I am humbled and amazed by the kindness and friendliness of the Belizean people, and am proud that Judith counts me a a friend.
JUDITH VISITING IN OUR MOTEL
One day as I was reading the San Pedro Sun Blog, there in the first picture of the blog was Judith with two of her kids. What a pleasant surprise. It made me want to see her and all of our other friends in Belize.
Click on the photo above to purchase my latest book, In the Fog, for $3.58. The Kindle version is only $0.99.
I was born in 1956 in Madison, Tennessee, while my parents were attending Madison College. I grew up along the Front Range in Colorado, attending schools in Longmont, Brighton, Boulder and Loveland, Colorado. Two years after graduating from Campion Academy, I married my sweetheart, Regina. We lived in Loveland, Colorado for six years before moving to Mena in western Arkansas.
I love the people of Mena and the friendly easy going way of life here. I have owned and operated my own business since moving to Mena. I enjoy the natural beauty of western Arkansas and being out of doors.
My newspaper column in The Mena Star, An Arkie’s Faith, premiered on January 7, 2016. In March 2017, I published my first book, titled The Little Things - Devotionals from a small town, using articles from the column. I published the second book in the Devotionals from a small town series, titled In the Fog, in December 2017.