Finding Jesus and His Resurrection in the Passover Seder

April 19, 2019

The Resurrection plays no part in Easter today. We decorate eggs and dress up rabbits, but chickens lay eggs.

During Easter, believers celebrate the resurrection, which is the most important holiday in Christendom.  

People asked Jesus for a sign that he came from God, and he gave them the sign of the resurrection.

That is, Jonah spend three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, and Christ promised he’d spend three days in the tomb but then rise again.

He proved who he claimed to be when he rose from the dead. Lots of people have claimed to be a prophet or even a messiah, however, if you back up your claim with a miracle, it sticks.

On the first day of the week, the disciples found Jesus’s tomb empty. Later over 500 people saw him alive.

I Corinthians 15 explains the necessity of the resurrection.

14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 

15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 

16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 

17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.

 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 

19 If in Christ we have hope[a] in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Because of the importance of the resurrection, my husband and I chose to do a Passover Seder every Easter.

Early Jewish Christians left lots of clues about Jesus in the Seder.

This week, my husband, Ray Simmons is my guest. He is a teaching-elder at Grace Community Church and will explain the resurrection symbolism in the Seder.


How to Manage Regret with Forgiveness

April 12, 2019

We’ve all done things we regret, and we must live with less-than-perfect.

Lately I’ve been having those odd dreams where I get out in public without being fully dressed.

In one dream, I was supposed to dress up as a character for a party. The only outfit I liked had a sparkly lace bodice and a full fluffy skirt. However, the lace had a very wide grid so you could see everything underneath. But I bought it. Regret!

That’s a problem. I’m a very private person, and I was miserable. I knew people could see my upper body and my underwear.

Finally, I found strips of paper towel and put it behind the bodice. At that point, I had to hold it in place, which wasn’t easy. The whole thing was a nightmare. Regret.

And as a child, I regretted my actions too. How often I wanted to go back in time and reverse my choice, especially if I hurt someone.

However, many of our choices can’t be changed, and we have to put up with the decisions our friends make. There’s a verse in the OT written by the prophet Joel to Israel:

“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
The crawling locust, Joel 2:25

That means God can take the awful and turn it around.

The Old Testament says, “Give the repentant nation larger harvests than they would naturally yield.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great preacher from the Victorian era, explained that verse: First the person must throw himself on the mercy of God and ask for forgiveness, or in this case, the nation.

As we approach Easter, we remember Christ’s sacrifice for our sins:

Isaiah 53 says:

But he was wounded for our transgressions;
    he was bruised for our iniquities;
the chastisement of our peace was upon him,
    and with his wounds we are healed.

My guest today is Linda Rondeau. Linda wrote Hosea’s Heart, and the main character must deal with regret.


Embracing the Gift of Hospitality

April 5, 2019

I thought hospitality would come easily for me. Mom entertained often, and I watch what she did. Often I helped.

However, Mom made the job appear easy. When I got married and moved two hundred miles away from home, I found myself making mistakes.

When we first married, hospitality meant having couples for dinner.

For instance, once when I had guests, which happened to be family, I intended to make iced tea and Kool-aide. However, I talked while I worked because I thought talking was entertaining, I poured the two drinks together. That make me feel like a crazy person.

My husband loved having people over, but I had to do all the work.

First, I had to plan the meal, worrying about whether it was good enough. In fact, in those early years out budget was so tight I couldn’t afford to do it often because I spent more on the meal.

Second, I’d scour the apartment, worrying about what our guests would think about my decorating and my organization.

Last, I would have to wash all the dishes afterwards, which was a bigger mess since I had done more work than usual. Because I wanted everything to be perfect, I stopped having people for dinner.

Hospitality was huge in the early church because they met in homes. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, and fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and prayer.” Acts 2:42

Hospitality is also included in the qualifications for elders, so God wants us to open our homes.

Today my guest is Michelle Lazurek who wrote, An Invitation to the Table, Embracing the Gift of Hospitality. She shares how it changed her life.


Welcome April

April 1, 2019

Whether you’re a mom of a preschooler, a homeschool mom, a mystery reader at heart, or a very tired mamma or empty nester, let’s choose to welcome April with open arms. It’s the month we commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it’s the month where we happily cheer at the sight of blooming flowers, but growl at its yellow dust, it’s another month for new beginnings and resolutions. What will you resolve this month?

To kick-off April, let’s pray together: 

Dear Father, This month we celebrate Your death for our sins and your resurrection. As we ponder the sacrifice You made for us, we pray for a deeper understanding of Your love. You conquered death so that we have nothing to fear. Let gratitude fill our hearts. Enable us to praise You more and more. In Jesus Name we pray. Amen.

The Art of Living is #OthersCentered Calendar-April 2019-Cynthia L. Simmons

To download the April 2019 Calendar Challenge, click here.


Guidelines on Forgiveness for Yourself and Others

March 29, 2019

Forgiving can be the hardest thing you do, especially when you must forgive yourself.

When I was in high school, I got a job as a waitress. I don’t think I was a very good one. Looking back, I realize I was very young, and I didn’t know how to handle stress, and that’s what you face as a waitress.

I made mistakes. Tons. A busy night everything went wrong with one table. A lady in the party complained about having too much salad dressing on her salad. I took it to the back and asked for another one, but the everyone felt overwhelmed by the crowds. And he was helping others.

The manager made her another one, but he didn’t hear me say to put the dressing on the side, and I was too shy to tell him he did it wrong. So I took the new salad to her and that made even more angry.

For some reason, they didn’t have certain pieces of silverware, which made no sense because I always took a packet of utensils first. However, they still weren’t happy when I delivered them. 

When they left the hostess called me up the register and scolded me again in front of the clients for doing a terrible job. I didn’t really need that because they had already screamed at me enough, but I was almost ready to cry by the time the hostess finished with me.

Once I mess up, I have a hard time letting go of my own emotions. They nag me, and I only feel worse as the day wears on. I’m sure the hostess spoke out of concern for the restaurant’s reputation, but I could hardly drag myself out of the pit that day. I couldn’t offer myself forgiveness.

When we hurt someone’s feelings, it creates a debt of sort. That other person wants the wrong corrected by replacing what they lost and or and apology.

In a family someone can hurt us over and over, which makes forgiveness really hard. Because we know they will probably do it again.

Today I have Lindsey Brackett, and she wrote a book called Still Waters, where forgiveness is a very big theme.


How to Teach Your Children About Death

March 22, 2019

Death. Bring up death around adults and you can stop a conversation. Not a fun topic. But your kids might not understand.

For example, when I was about five, my great-aunt died. I had seen her at the nursing home and recall a gray-headed lady who wore a bun and had a huge mole on her neck.

After she died, my parents took me to the funeral home. I vividly recall standing at the casket, staring into her face. She didn’t breath and that made me feel like I was going to choke.

I attempted to walk away, but my dad grabbed my shoulders and made me stand there. Maybe I misunderstood what he was trying to do, but I couldn’t leave. That upset me.

Combine that with death-bed stories I heard from the pulpit, and I became afraid of death. Now I know I have mild-intermittent asthma. Whenever death became a topic, I felt out of breath.

Mom and Dad must have told our preacher, because when he arrived at the funeral home, he came to talk to me. A huge man with a booming voice, I hated being singled out for attention. Sheer terror filled my heart.

He told me he didn’t like going where death had been, but he went anyway.

My parents probably thought the pastor would help me. Nope. I wanted to escape.

My grandmother died later, and I refused to go. I recall seeing Mom and Dad exchange serious looks whenever the topic of death came up.

At six, I accepted Jesus as my savior because I didn’t want to go to hell, but that didn’t erase my fear of death. And I had no intentions of talking about how I felt.

Today Ginger Sanders came to share about her book, Firefly, which talks about how to explain death to children. She will give us tips on how to avoid what I experienced.


Suicide: Recovery for Families and Prevention for Victims

March 15, 2019

Suicide. It destroys a life but hurts everyone.

About ten years ago, a brilliant young lady attended our church. She had a charismatic personality, and people liked her.

For some reason, she had an obsession with suicide. She talked and wrote about it even though she came from a loving family and didn’t display signs of depression. Our youth pastor often talked to her about the topic and made her promise never to do it.

My husband and I went to a theater one night that young people attended. That night they had a open mike, and this young gal read a poem on suicide. It alarmed us, and my husband went to talk to her father. His dad already knew her tendency and shrugged it off.

However, one morning her parents found a suicide note. Shortly afterward, police found her body. Dead.

The mother and father were devastated. I remember the funeral. My husband felt guilty that he hadn’t been more adamant in his conversation with the father.

For weeks afterward various church members talked about the suicide. People that hardly knew her wished they had said something or done something to prevent her actions. In essence, the whole church grieved and experienced guilt.  That surprised me. But it was such a tragedy and we all regretted it.

God gives life, and he restores life. Sin brings death. And it’s Satan’s lie that death is better than life.

Heb 2:14 says

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.

Christina Rose is my guest today, and she shares from her family’s experiences.


Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue

March 8, 2019

You can guard your heart by guiding your mind so that you grace your tongue.

Here’s an example.

One day I made a birthday cake and left it sitting on the counter. When I entered the kitchen an hour later, I saw my son sticking his finger in the icing.

His actions messed up the icing and potentially spread bacteria for anyone who ate a piece of cake

I doubt he thought before he did that, but that was very typical of his life. Impulsive, doing what felt good. That can create problems. We must guard our hearts.

I love history, and at one point when I was reading about an individual who lived in England. He said, “Nations don’t think. They feel.”

Right now I think that describes most people in our nation. Our emotions drive us. We give in when those feelings scream loudly enough.

Is that wise? That can lead us to getting drunk, eating poorly and clogging our veins with cholesterol, and being so rude we destroy relationships. So what’s the answer?

I believe the Bible tells us that. I Peter 2:11

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.

This verse actually says we can’t follow our urges. A dog has to bark, but God gives us the ability to choose something better because Jesus is our Lord.

Today I have Carol McLeod, and she has just completed. Guide your mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue.


Guidance for Moms Who Have Addicted Children

March 1, 2019

Addiction. What an ugly word. Yet our nation has more addiction than ever before. No one wants the problem.

But some of us face that nightmare anyway.

We mothers love our children and spend much of our lives raising them, and teaching, even to the point of organizing our lives around their activities. It’s a huge disappointment when one becomes difficult or strays. Addiction creates so much pain for everyone.

All of us know a youngster can disobey, but you can set up boundaries and discipline.

However, when a child passes that magic spot called majority, it’s a different story. You have no control over an adult. And that can be very frustrating, especially if your child becomes addicted. Heartbreaking!

A mother once said, “If I had left him on the streets after he was born, I wouldn’t be so upset. But I worked day and night. And this is what I get. If I had to do it over, I would raise dogs.”

Now understand that’s a very unhappy mother. But you understand the sorry and the helplessness she felt.

So what is a mother to do?

For those of us who don’t have a child like this, we want to minister to them as a vital part of the body of Christ.

Today I have Sharron Cosby. Her son battled addiction for years. She wrote Praying for Your Addicted Loved One 90/90.


Welcome March 2019

March 1, 2019

As the month of March presses on, we are excited for what is to come in 2019. May the below Others Centered Calendar Challenge be an encouragement to you and those around you. My team and I pray these prompts get you one step closer toward our God, the Ultimate Father. And of course, let’s pray together to welcome March…

Dear Father, I am distressed when the world exalts evil and wicked schemes succeed. I pray for your righteousness to prevail instead, and for men to return to Truth. Make me light in darkness. Keep reminding me that you are faithful and your justice will succeed. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

The Art of Living is #OthersCentered Calendar-March 2019-Cynthia L. Simmons

To download the March 2019 Calendar Challenge, click here.

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