Miss an April minute message? Here they are!
Very soon our southern Indiana hills will explode in the colors of spring. Only God could paint such a glorious scene.
When the dogwood blooms, I’m always reminded of the folk tale that surrounds this gnarled little tree. Legend has it that the dogwood was once strong and straight, and its timber was used for the cross of Jesus. Following Christ’s death, however, the dogwood was so ashamed that God made it spindly and crooked, so that it could never again be used for such a dishonorable purpose. While the legend is not true, the story of the crucifixion is seen in each blossom. Four white petals form a cross with a notch in each petal like a nail print. Each indentation contains a reddish-brown spot as if to mark Christ’s blood from his head, hands and feet. And in the center of the blossom one can see what appears to be the crown of thorns. But the story doesn’t end there. Because the blossom itself is alive, it reminds us of Christ’s resurrection. Even in the humble dogwood we discover anew the greatest story ever told!
Author C.S. Lewis wrote, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive.”
Forgiveness – everyone wants it, yet very few sincerely extend it. You’ve heard it quoted many times, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” The power of that statement is realized in the truth that we are never more like God than when we forgive. The historical events of this week – the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus – tell the story of man’s incredible need for forgiveness and God’s incredible sacrifice to provide it. One cannot over-estimate the power of forgiveness to transform a life. Marghanita Laski was a well-known twentieth-century novelist and literary critic. In a television interview not long before her death, she made this comment, “What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me.” The grand hope of Easter is this – the burden of our guilt can be forgiven in Christ. And once we have experienced that amazing freedom, then we can reflect God’s grace as we forgive. Learning to forgive is a magnificent way to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection!
“Cleanliness is next to godliness.” No, it’s not a quote from the Bible, but it is a good reminder of the importance of being clean.
We think nothing of putting on clean clothes every day, but it hasn’t always been that way. In the seventeenth century clothes were washed only four or five times a year. By the eighteenth-century wash day came around every six weeks although some garments were never washed because they were made of satin, brocade, silk or velvet. From rocks in the creek to scrub boards and wringers, laundry day slowly improved. Then in 1874 Hoosier Bill Blackstone put six pegs in the bottom of a washtub, with a rotating handle-and-gear mechanism and invented the first washing machine. He gave it to his wife for her birthday which proves men’s gift giving ability has not improve with time.
No matter how often they are washed, our clothes don’t stay clean for long. However, when God cleanses the soul it lasts forever. The prophet Isaiah tells us he washes us as white as snow. And that’s a cleanliness that really is next to godliness.
It has been said, “Ability without ambition is like kindling wood without the spark.”
Eighteenth-century composer Beethoven was a musical genius. His first symphony was performed in Vienna, Austria before he was 30 years old. In a few short years, however, he was deaf, and the darkness of despair settled over him. No one would have thought him a failure had he stepped away from composing and directing, but Beethoven wrote some of his most powerful music when he could only hear it in his mind. His ambition was the spark that ignited his musical ability in the most adverse of circumstances.
Theodore Roosevelt was awarded a Nobel Prize and the Medal of Honor for his courage at San Juan Hill. He was the force behind the Panama Canal, a conservationist of America’s natural beauty and at 42 the youngest US president. And yet, he was a sickly, frail child who suffered with terrible eyesight and asthma attacks. But his ambition was the spark that ignited his ability to lead with greatness.
God not only gives us abilities, he gives us ambition to make a difference. Let His spark ignite your greatest potential.