Good Friday or Bad?

Today, many of us celebrate what we call, Good Friday. The day Christ died on the cross with the promise of rising in three days. The day the earth shook, the sun darkened, the veil was torn, and the believers were scattered with their dreams of majesty shattered. The day the Holy Lamb of God was beaten, bruised, pierced by those who hated Him and forsaken by the very Father God who claimed to love Him.

So, if all this bad happened on this day, how can we call it Good Friday? How can we join together to celebrate such a horrific, gruesome, unimaginable death? How can anything good be taken from such a terrible day that is forever written in the annals of time?

If you don’t know Him, I can understand why you’d wonder. If you’ve never realized His love for you, I can believe your confusion and doubt. If you’ve only heard of Him in storybooks and seen Him portrayed as “just a man” in cults and Hollywood box office hits, I can comprehend your skepticism, ridicule and even rejection.

But for me, I know Him on a personal level…

He was there before I even took a breath. He was there when I was in my mother’s womb, and her guidance counselor tried to convince her to “get rid of the dilemma,” because, after all, she was just 16. He was there when I was born six weeks (8 wks to today’s standards) too early and fought for life for those 10 days in that tiny incubator.

He was there when I was six months old, and my alcoholic parents split up. He was there when my four year old self waited by the door with packed bags for a father who never showed up. He was there when my twelve year old self received a “new daddy” who took us away from a comfortable, small town to a great big city with so many unknowns.

He was there when I met the man of my dreams and said, “I do.” He was there when our first child never grew in the womb, and we buried him under those great big oaks at my childhood home. He was there when our firstborn aspirated meconium, and we were told by a young nurse that it could be fatal. He was there when our second son fell off the changing table onto a tile floor while being babysat. He was there when I lost my precious grandfather to cancer, the man who had protected me, loved me and cherished me, the man who been my “Daddy” for so many years. He was there through all of the grief and sorrow.

The stories could go on and on with so much more detail, but I won’t bore you with my life story. I can just say, with 100% confidence, He was there. In my darkest days and in my happiest hours, in my finest moments and in those times that I wish to never be repeated, He was there.

He has always been there.

So, I call it Good Friday, because I know He was there hanging on the cross pouring out His blood for me for redemption. I call it Good Friday, because I know He rose just a few days later with the promise of victory, and heaven and eternity for my soul if I just believe. I call it Good Friday, because I am a witness to all that has come from His sacrifice, His love and His grace just in my own life.

I call it Good Friday, because often times, out of the bad, the horrific, the most unimaginable things comes such beauty and goodness and promise that you can’t call it anything but GOOD!

Watch and listen…

https://youtu.be/Is6weMrenls

Counted Worthy

Acts 5:41-42 “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.  Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.”

…rejoicing because of ridicule and persecution?? Who does that?? I don’t see many in today’s society who get excited over verbal attacks, much less, physical attacks! You can pick up today’s paper or turn on the nightly news and see accounts of those who are angry at any intolerance, any mocking or even the slightest implication of ridicule for their given faith, lifestyle or even choice of words. These men, here in the Scripture, were thrown in prison, mocked, accused, about to receive a death sentence, and ended up simply being flogged (for anyone wondering, that means “to be beat with a whip or stick”), and yet, they left rejoicing, because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 

This Scripture is so challenging to me. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m not crazy about suffering, and especially, about being beat with a whip or stick. Honestly, that’s not quite my vision of a “fun day!” Yet, these men loved God so much that they were willing to go through all of this just so they could testify of His Name. They rejoiced that the suffering came their way, because it enables them to preach more boldly to others of His glory, and they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news from that day forward!

With the news headlines of all the Christians around the world being killed by ISIS, and so many other happenings in our own nation, this scenario is coming so close to being a reality within our own Land of the Free and The Brave. Growing up, I never thought this could happen here; yet, now, as an adult, I’m not so naive nor idealistic. I know it can happen in the blink of an eye, and to be honest, it does give me pause. 

I read books like Jesus Freak and Fox’s Book of Martyrs, and my faith is challenged by their boldness in the face of persecution. My petty little worries of friendships, light bills and “Are my children doing their homework today?” vanish into thin air in the light of their martyrdom. I pray I can be found this faithful. I pray I can be found this encouraging and this bold to share my testimony with others even if I am staring death in the face. 

It’s so easy to boldly proclaim your allegiance when no one is threatening you. It’s so easy to declare your faithfulness when you don’t have a gun aimed at your head, or your children are lined up at the stake, but as I read Jesus Freaks, I truly wonder if I could keep my bold faith when looking down the barrel of a semi-automatic or my children’s very lives are being threatened.

I pray I am found faithful and true. I pray I can remain steadfast and committed to the One who saved me, forgave me and gave me new life. I pray that, if I am found worthy of suffering disgrace for His sweet Name, I am able to stand, rejoicing, proclaiming His goodness and grace for everyone to see. 

How about you? What do you see? What would you do?