Posts

When-Good-Friday-doesnt-feel-so-good

When Good Friday doesn’t seem so good

For most of my life, Good Friday primarily served as a heads-up for a nice candy-gorge. I glossed over what it really represented, anticipating instead the large egg-hunts with my cousins around my grandparents’ farm on Easter Sunday.

It was only a few years ago that I gained a painful understanding of the true significance of Good Friday. That happened when one of my closest friends from middle school, Erica, died suddenly in a car accident. All throughout late elementary and middle school, Erica and I had been joined at the hip. We attended summer camps together, were pairs for science-class projects, and even had our 15 minutes of fame at a statewide jump rope competition (yes, you read correctly: jump rope).

We communicated less as we went through college and pursued separate ways after graduating, but we never lost our mutual respect and affection. I had planned to contact her after the Easter holiday to reconnect before she moved overseas for missions work.

But in the late night hours of Good Friday, I learned that Erica had died in a car accident while driving home that day. It was inconceivable. In the wake of her death, I was confronted with the reality of how wrong and intrusive death could feel.

Yes, death is wrong. We weren’t designed to experience the sudden separation of death. But because of the Fall of man, death became part and parcel of life. Suddenly, I had a glimpse of the confusion, anger, and sadness that the disciples of Jesus experienced when He died.

But then, I also saw hope. The day I had previously ignored—Good Friday—commemorates two things. One, the torture and wrongful murder of the one who claimed to be the world’s Savior; two, the “good” result His death achieved: a way out of death for us! His resurrection three days later, which we commemorate on Easter Sunday, gives us hope for a lasting solution to death.

Thanks to what was accomplished that first Easter, I could rest in the fact of Erica experiencing paradise right now even as I grieved her unfathomable death and the depth of our earthly separation.

What has been of immense encouragement to me are the words that Jesus gave His disciples in John 16:33 before His crucifixion, which summarize the incomparably low moments of Good Friday and the unsurpassed high of Easter. Jesus told them, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Today, we still experience effects of the fall. The emotions and pain that Jesus’ disciples felt still exist in this life. But even when we experience these extreme lows, we have the truth of Easter to hold on to. Jesus has already overcome the wrong by taking our place on the cross, and, accrediting His righteousness to us, declared, “it is finished” (John 19:30).

Knowing that Erica had fully accepted Jesus as her Savior, I look forward to seeing her again one day. And hey, for old time’s sake, maybe we’ll go ahead and earn another ribbon with our old jump rope routine!

06---Boy-is-sitting-among-icons,-books-and-signs

In Remembrance of Me

Title: In Remembrance of Me
Materials: Photography
Description: 
Peer Pressure. Opposition. Fleshly Desires. Despair. Uncertainty.
We’re all too familiar with these struggles.
So was He.

Thankfully, it doesn’t end here.
Because He died, we have hope.
Because He arose, we have life.
Because He’s coming back again, we can face tomorrow.

Painted by: Galih Reza Suseno, Indonesia
Written by: Reuben Teo, Singapore

 

01-In-remembrance-of-me

Voices scream and coax and wail; my righteousness is a broken scale.
Pressured, pressed, I embrace the dark, and fully scorn the light.
But I cast my mind to the One I serve, the One whose standards never fail.
I’ll stand up and face my foes, and take a stand for what is right!

 


 

02-In-remembrance-of-me

Pulled down, shoved to the dust,
Burdened by those I thought my friends.
Yet I look up and remember He who was crushed
For me and them, for us His life He spent.

 


 

03-In-remembrance-of-me

I stumble on the road of life, my baggage weighs me down,
What once was thought as worth now only makes me frown.
Throw them aside, the hopes, the fears, throw away my sins,
Deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Him.


 

04-In-remembrance-of-me

I’ve never felt so low before, I feel like I should end it all
My mistakes hold me down, can’t pull myself out at all.
Yet there’s One, who went through this all and came out even stronger.
So maybe I should shove it all aside and stand up even taller.


05-In-remembrance-of-me

One life to live once, I live on the edge.
One life to live once, jump off every ledge.
One life to live once, and then death comes for me.
One death to die once, but then eternity.


06-In-remembrance-of-me

So many beliefs, but what to believe?
The wisdom of the ancients, or the wisdom of my Lord?
Only one can I choose, wisdom of man or God.
So which is better, the temporal or the eternal?


07-In-remembrance-of-me

A rich man sits in a lavish home, a poor man sits on the street;
One has everything, the other nothing
Yet this too shall pass and only one thing matters when with Jesus we meet–
The crown of glory surpasses any earthly thing.

Experiencing-Lent-for-the-First-Time

Experiencing Lent for the First Time

Written By Hannah Spaulding, USA

This year marks the first time I’m actively participating in the season of Lent.

Apart from it being an annual liturgical season, I originally had little idea what Lent was about.  However, a few weeks before Lent rolled around, I found myself being asked by many fellow students at my small, Christian college what I was giving up for Lent. Initially surprised at the question, I would usually flip it back to the one who asked, to avoid having to respond to it myself.

I was intrigued to hear that many of my friends were giving up things like chocolate, sweets, or other unhealthy practices. It seemed to me that Lent was simply a second attempt at a failed New Year’s resolution; a time for Christians to pledge themselves to being healthier, exercising more, and giving up unhealthy habits.

With this initial skepticism, I almost didn’t go to the Ash Wednesday service being held in my school’s chapel that Wednesday morning.  Like a typical college student, I was also exhausted, and wondering if my morning chapel break would be better spent napping on the couches in the library.  However, curiosity got the better of me, so I went.

Lent, as it was explained during the service, is a time of self-denial that helps us remember the suffering of Jesus and prepare our hearts to commemorate His death on Good Friday, and His resurrection on Easter Sunday.  Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent, the forty day period prior to Good Friday.

Lent was starting to make sense to me; after all, giving up chocolate for 40 days certainly ranked as suffering in my book. As the service went on, however, I began to realize that Lent had a much deeper meaning than merely giving up a daily comfort. It is not so much about giving up something as it is about starting something new; it is about denying ourselves in order to become closer to Christ.

The time came for the receiving of the ashes at the end of the service.  During a traditional Ash Wednesday service, there is a point in the service where the participant has the opportunity to have their forehead marked with a cross of ash.  The ash symbolizes grief at our sin and grief at the suffering Jesus undertook to redeem us from the eternal consequences of our sin.  The practice of giving up something from our lives, and then standing up to receive the ashes, encapsulates the Lenten experience in a symbolic gesture of penance and remembrance of the crucifixion and resurrection.

I still felt unsure if I should participate though; I had never been to an Ash Wednesday service before and I didn’t have something in mind to let go of yet. However, the risk of being the only one still seated prompted me to get up like the others to receive the ashes. When I reached the elder holding the basket of ashes, I bowed my head towards him and waited. “Because of your sins you will die, but because of Jesus Christ you will live,” the elder proclaimed over my bent head as he painted the symbol of the cross on my forehead.

Later that day, I sat down to reflect on my Ash Wednesday experience. It made me want to participate in the Lenten experience of suffering with Christ. I wanted to grow closer to God through denying myself of something harmful in my life, something that hindered my relationship with God. I was reminded of the verse in Hebrews 12:1, “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”

In the end, the decision was clear to me. Earlier that week, I had read through an article on Facebook about things to give up for Lent other than chocolate. Based on some of the ideas from that post, I decided to give up . . . worrying. I know that doesn’t sound like denying myself of something special or enjoyable. However, God has been working in my heart since the beginning of this year to surrender my worry to Him and trust in Him. I have come to realize that excessive worrying, while not exactly nice, is in reality a self-indulgent practice. God was calling me to give up feeling sorry for myself and taking a twisted attitude of pride in being more stressed-out than others. He was calling me to put those actions and attitudes aside, and to trust in Him.

Giving up worrying has been especially relevant in this Lenten season as changes in my family and school situation have led to a lot of uncertainty for the coming year. Now, more so than ever, I’m tempted to fill my days with worrying over the future and being stressed about what is to come. However, when I reflect on Jesus’ coming and resurrection, I am reminded that because He lives, I don’t have to worry. I am loved by a God who cares for me beyond what I can ever imagine and I know that I can trust Him with my future.

03-Redemption-(final)

Grace & Mercy At The Cross

Title: Grace & Mercy At The Cross
Materials: Digital Illustration
Description: 
At the cross, Jesus disregarded all his rights.
At the cross, Jesus showed grace to his enemies.
At the cross, Jesus showed mercy to a sinner.
Because of the cross, we are saved.
Now, would you bear the cross for His sake?

 

01-Forgive-(final)

02-Paradise-(final)

03-Redemption-(final)

04-Open-access-(final)