Posted in Bible Studies, The Native

The Native: The Three Wisemen Of Calvary

The following is a message I was privileged to preach at Point Of Mercy in Nashville, Tennessee.  I’ve added it to The Native Bible Study because I feel it fits into the theme of the study. 

John 19:38-39

38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.

Among the many interesting things about the Burial of Our Lord is these two men. Jesus needed no help to die, or to rise again, but of necessity someone would carry His body to the tomb. He was carried in, but He would walk out of His own accord.

I believe that every event in The Bible has a specific purpose, so I believe that these men’s involvement was no accident. The Lord and these two men went together into the tomb. They were hand selected for the job, they were wise men, and friends. I mention they were all wise men, so today lets call them The Wisemen Of Calvary.

You must start with Jesus, who was so much more than a man. His resurrection would write not just a new law, but a new covenant. This wasn’t just anyone, this was The Savior.

His entire mission was about relationship. It was more than only the forgiveness of sins, it was about a life of working together. Jesus’ goal was to wash away our sins, and to walk with us through the highways and byways as we reach others.

1 Peter 2:5-6
5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

That’s why I love about this part of that day. It is the unique aspect of Calvary, Jesus knew that not just any men could do the job. They were doing more than burying a body, they were laying The Spiritual Cornerstone of the Church. The men that carried His body had to meet certain requirements, the first goes back to a conversation Jesus had with one of them in John 3.

John 3:16
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

They had to be believers. They didn’t have to understand everything going on. They could be like us, they could have fears, and questions about certain things, but they had to be believers. Nicodemus first words in John 3:22 to Jesus confessed his belief, and our text reflects Joseph’s belief as well. Their faith in Him was the very reason they had volunteered for this task.

Our Savior doesn’t expect us to get everything, just to trust Him. If you have questions, ask with the right attitude. He will answer the relevant ones. When He doesn’t answer the others, trust that His Grace is sufficient. I didn’t know what I was facing this week, when I got the call about Mom’s heart attack, but I trusted that no matter what, God was in control. I was terrified, but I knew He wasn’t, and that was enough.

If you’re going to do anything for Jesus, you must believe the words of our Pastor’s (Pastor Denny Livingston) song, that “He is Greater Than The Need, and Bigger Than The Problem.” They didn’t understand why this had happened, they couldn’t predict the events of Sunday, but through it all, they had a firm grip on The Lord Jesus. In one sense, they were carrying Him, but their love for Him, was carrying them through this.

If you’re going through something, if the events of your life are shaking you, grasp The Savior a little tighter. He will carry you from the sorrow of your heartache to the shouts of an empty tomb. You see, these men had a relationship with Jesus, and that will produce life out of death, joy out of sorrow, and hope in a hopeless situation.

The second man was Joseph of Arimathea. Both he and Nicodemus were rulers of the Jews, members of the Sanhedrin, which was like a religious senate of the Jews. They were secret disciples, but the events of Calvary converted their silence into action.

It was Joseph’s tomb, he had it built for himself. Like many do, he placed a garden outside of it. They say men would do this so they could go there, and remind themselves of their own mortality. David said, teach me to know my end, so he would know how frail he was.

Here is the thing that always puzzled me, why Calvary for a graveyard? The Scriptures say that His burial place was in the same area as His Death. The way I read John 19, this was a place that had been used as a execution place before. Why there?

I understand that it fulfilled prophecy, let’s not forget, we view things on this side of Calvary, but on that side, what was Joseph’s thinking originally? Was it to remind this successful man that we all enter and exit this world in the same manner?

Did he realize there was a reason that he didn’t understand, but knew there was a higher purpose? If so, even without knowing everything he listened. Be sensitive to God’s leading in your life, and if you’re uncertain, seek council. Pray about it, talk to the Man Of God that He has placed to watch for our souls. God placed Pastors in my life and yours because they know where God wants to take us.

God had a plan for the piece of land Joseph had. Matthew said that Joseph had built the tomb for himself, and John said it was in the same place where Jesus was crucified.

Joseph built the tomb, and had the garden planted, and cultivated. God will plant, and cultivate things in you before its ever time to harvest. Joseph’s tomb and garden had a great future, but they started with rock, dirt, and seed. You’ll have some hard knocks, and some things will have to be dug out, but He has a wonderful future ahead.

Perhaps it was an inherited piece of land? Maybe an ancestor had been assigned it in the day of Joshua’s, and the family had reclaimed it after the return from Babylon. After all, who would want a place like this. Scholars say it is probable that the reason it was called the place of the skull was that it was famous for the skulls of condemned prisoners beheaded there.

Can you imagine that being your inheritance? The place of anguish and sorrow, and your family handing you the deed? It’s yours now, good luck, it was my problem first, now it’s yours. How many have hand me down horrors you inherited?

Jesus forever transformed the way we view Calvary. Now we look at it, not as a place of execution, but exoneration! No matter what you’ve inherited, He can make you new. He can transform whatever your situation and give you a much better inheritance!

The last man was Nicodemus. I wonder if the memory of that first meeting with Jesus echoed through his mind the way the outside light bounced off the sides of the cave? As he wrapped the body of Jesus with myrrh and aloes, did He remember The Master saying “You must be born again?”

As they entered the cave did he think about his own question, “How can a man enter the second time into his mother’s womb?” As he wrapped the side of Jesus with clothes covered in myrrh and aloes, did he remember the words of Jesus?

John 3:5
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

When the Roman soldier had pierced Jesus’ side, out ran blood and water. This pointed back to the night time conversation, and ahead to Baptism and the Infilling Of The Spirit. Did verses fourteen and fifteen of John 3 dance through his thoughts?

Jesus hinted at Nicodemus’ conversion conversation about the last time we would see Nicodemus in Scripture. He was essentially saying “Nic, you’ll carry me in, but I’ll bring you out!” Nicodemus and Joseph both refused to follow their colleagues when they plotted against Jesus. They knew the Jews had it in for Jesus. Perhaps they even tried to warn Jesus, not that He didn’t already know. When He went to raise Lazarus, the disciples said Master the Jews recently sought to kill you. I’m sure it wasn’t hard to figure out, but maybe Joseph and Nicodemus had told them.

Either way, Nicodemus had a 100 pound combination of myrrh and aloes ready. There was no Jerusalem mart, or with same day delivery. When it was time for it, He was equipped to complete the task. When God calls you, He will equip you with what you need, when you need it.

This whole message has brought us to these three points. First, (1) your journey should reflect your conversion. As a Christian, we must never get too far from our first trip to the altar. That was Christ’s whole message to the seven Churches of Revelation, when you meet Me here, I’ll keep you there, as long as wherever you are, you stay connected to here.

The second event we see Nicodemus at in Scripture was in John 7. The Pharisees were attacking Jesus verbally, Nicodemus defended Him. The second point of the Message is, (2) Your commitment will compel you to action. Pastor preached a masterpiece of a message about the Three Tables Of The Church, and I believe that all of us can serve the needs of others.

These Sanhedrin members essentially became grave diggers for their love of Jesus. Jesus reputation was attacked, Nicodemus’ commitment compelled him to act then, and at Calvary. On the day of the preparation for eating the Passover, when no one wanted to touch a dead body, because of being considered unclean, these men were committed to Christ.

That brings us to the third and final point, (3) From conversion to completion, it will result in caring for Christ’s body. That wasn’t just the physical earthly body of The Savior they were carrying, it was symbolic of The Church.

These men aren’t remembered for their riches, their power, or their importance. They were remembered for ministering to the need of The Savior. Jesus said when you do for others, you’re doing for Me. He will never forget what those men did for Him, or what you do for others, because He views it as what you’ve done for Him.

Jesus’ name means Jehovah Is Salvation, Joseph means He adds, and Nicodemus means Victory of the people. That day, God brought into the tomb of death, Salvation, addition, and victory. He washed our sins away. Jesus added an exit from death into an abundant life, and provided victory for all people.

He did this so we would have the opportunity to be converted. Knowing that our commitment to Him would compel us to action. An the end result would be caring for the body of Christ. When you carry a love for Jesus, it will change you, the place you’re in, and everything thing you touch. That relationship with Jesus, that love and commitment will make us all witnesses and Wisemen, thanks to Calvary.

Posted in Alaskan Silver, Serials

Alaskan Silver Old Friends New Wounds

St Louis looked at her, she had come a long way since they were kids. He had heard the story of the Secret Service Agent she had saved. It didn’t surprise him, Harriet always had a sense of adventure about her. The question was, why did someone want her dead?

“Lucas, it’s good to see you.” “I’m glad to see you too. I just wish it were under better circumstances. I don’t like being sent to kill anyone, especially old friends.”

Harriet looked at the now tall, nicely dressed man. She remembered the little boy that always ended up with torn pants from playing too hard. Edward had told her he was actually an agent, so his statement didn’t surprise her.

“My guess is that it’s too upset the Mayor. They’ve tried before, but that’s not what worries me.” St Louis nodded. “Me too. The big problem is, was us knowing each other a coincidence, or is my cover blown?”

While St Louis and Harriet were trying to answer these questions, another was being asked. It too was life or death, between a scared young man, and his attacker. It was simply this, would Edward Mallory survive the knife wounds that he had just suffered?

Posted in Inspirational Collections, Uncategorized

Job Interview 

I have a job interview this morning, it’s for a new HR position.  These interviews, while very important, are not my favorite thing.  I don’t feel that I do them well, even though I do my best.  How many things do you do, that while necessary, you feel are in your weak areas?

I believe in playing to your strengths, but there are some have to things that don’t fit that description.  I have three recommendations for these situations. These are items that help me, and have for over eighteen years. 

First, ask for help.  As a Christian, prayer is my first stop, and I believe in it more strongly today than when I started. After this, I talk to my Pastor, my Dad, and other people with experience.  I learn from them all I can to make my decisions, and to plot my course.

Second, I research whatever it is, even familiar subjects.  This refreshes your mind, and opens up new possibilities.  Most importantly, it causes you to go from auto pilot to active. Routine is wonderful, but even with it, you must force yourself to be present in whatever you do.  If you want something new out of it, you have to focus on it.

Third, I approach it from the perspective of a student. That doesn’t mean you don’t know anything, you may even be an expert, but all of us can learn something new about everything.  As long as we commit to the fact that we can still learn.  Whether it’s a mechanic, an artist, or a surgeon, there is always something that is new to us, if not new altogether.

Well, I’m going to go get ready for my interview.  I hope these recommendations will help you in something you’re facing today.  Remember, anything is possible, with the right counsel, information, and preparation.

Posted in Gallery, Uncategorized, Watercolors

Watercolor Ocean Cliff

This is a traditional watercolor called “Ocean Cliff”. Traditional watercolor are, in my opinion, the hardest medium to master.  While I love acrylics, watercolors fascinate me.  This is a rough watercolor at best, but I love the crest of the left mountain, I hope you will too.  

Mountains in Scripture are so significant, they represent hope, comfort, and salvation.  The Psalmist David said”I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”  They gave him hope.

They also gave him comfort.  Psalms 125:2 says, “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.”  God was letting us know, through David, that He surrounds us with His protection.

Finally, The Root and Offspring of David brought us salvation on a hill called Mount Calvary.  I love the tops of the mountain, and The God that gives me strength to climb higher each day!

Posted in Alaskan Silver, Serials

Alaskan Silver The Prize

Hinkle fired three times, he was sure at least one of his bullets had found his target. Sanders said not to get to close, so he couldn’t do anymore. He had to trust Larkin to get it, so Hinkle ran.

Larkin had used the excuse of a delivery to get into the house. Sanders had thought of everything. They would know the box was empty later, but not before Larkin retrieved the prize. The Frenchman had betrayed Sanders, now Sanders was going to make him pay through the nose.

Larkin grabbed the deed, while pretending to check the Frenchman’s pulse. He was still alive, and Strand was back in play. Larkin started whimpering as if he was upset, then quietly bolted for the door before the bodyguards saw what was missing.

Later that night, he presented the trophy to Sanders. “The Frenchman thought he could double cross me, and use this to blackmail Strand. If he lives, he’ll learn better. Now, Hinkle, take this letter of mine to Strand. Tell him I’m willing to negotiate, for a price.”

Hinkle was let in by a servant. Strand was glad to be back home. He was back in pleasant surroundings, even if things were complicated right now. He showed no expression to the man that had shot him, intending to have him killed as soon as the opportunity occurred.

“So your boss wants to blackmail me does he? I expected as much when they carted The Frenchman off to my special doctor. Tell Sands he had better hope the man doesn’t recover quickly. He’s a big and angry man.”

“Also, tell him, I’m not. I’ll pay his price, have him wait a week. It’ll take that long to gather the first installment. Hinkle, come back then and get the first payment.”

Hinkle left, and Strand smashed a vase. He wasn’t angry, he was seething. “No one is going to mess up my plans. Not that overgrown convict, or Sands. I’ll take care of them both.”

“Right now, I have to play along, it will take a week to set everything in motion. Then I’ll pay them all, starting with Hinkle, but I set the price, and it won’t be the currency they expect.”

He stared at a portrait of his Grandfather. “You couldn’t have used an assumed name could you Grandfather? It would have been so much tidier. No matter, Aunt Minerva and I will correct your mistakes. We’ll finish what you started, and in the end, bank roll an empire.”

Posted in Inspirational Collections

A Gentle God

A gentle God stands in a turbulent world, fighting for His children. He is a warrior, with strong hands, and a tender heart. With the power to shout commands, He kindly whispers reassurances to us.

This life is filled with complications, troubles we don’t expect, or understand. We get so caught up in comprehending them, that we fail to look to Him. The Savior who loved to the cross and back, through Death, Burial, and Resurrection for us. Instead of pondering the blackness of this world, let us seek His light.

Jesus is reaching through His Church to the hurting. He is loving, lifting, and leading. In a blackened world of chaos, Calvary is more clarifying than ever. There is hope for today, healing for yesterday, and a home for tomorrow.

Whatever your need, whatever your situation, Jesus is still current, and relevant, in the twenty first century. He is present to comfort your heart, walk with you through your battle, and supply the victory. Don’t allow the fear of what you’re facing to be your focus. Turn your attention to Jesus, and allow Him to renew your heart, body, and soul.

Posted in Alaskan Silver, Serials

Alaskan Silver Two Hit Men

St Louis read the note again. It wasn’t the name he had expected, so his plans had to change. His cover as a Hit man was still in tact, now St Louis had to walk the tightrope. He had to appear to either murder the man, or attempt to, as his contacts saved the person. St Louis had to make sure everyone was kept safe, but the name on the note would make that much harder.

Meanwhile a woman who thought she would never laugh again, was setting in a hospital wheel chair as three wolves played at her feet. Estelle was laughing at Pin telling her about the three still acting like puppies at home. When she laughed, Pin found himself happier than he had been in a long time.

In the back of each of their minds, they shared the same thought. ‘How can I tell this person who I really am without them losing that smile?’ Soon, the question would be taken out of their hands.

Harriet stood at the window washing dishes. She was a little preoccupied herself. The visitor that morning had sidetracked her. This new information was startling, but she knew what she had to do.

Edward Mallory was wrestling a man in an alley. He wasn’t a fighter, but the fear of dying gave him strength he didn’t know he had. The man wore a mask, but asked for no money. Edward landed a punch, and ripped the bandanna off of his attacker.

Ralph was serving Minerva coffee. They were on a train to Florida. Both planned to end their association there, each in a very different way. Minerva was angry at herself, she had grown fond of the boy. It wouldn’t change her plan, but it irritated her.

Somewhere a bullet left the barrel. It was a fast and powerful weapon. The victim hadn’t suspected a thing. They felt the blood as it poured out.

As the victim slumped over, the object fell out of their hand. The shooter couldn’t get to it yet, it was too risky. They were determined to get it, this was the whole purpose for the hit. In fact, it was the secret behind the whole thing.

Find out who the victim is in next week’s Alaskan Silver.

Posted in Inspirational Collections, Uncategorized

The Equipment Of Life

Drilling for oil, mining for gold, or diving for pearls all involve much more than a pay off. Perseverance, hard work, and equipment are needed to harvest precious things from the earth. This isn’t a blog just about being tenacious and committed, it’s about the tools we use. I mentioned three areas that involve specialized materials to perform a task. I’d like to share three ways we can use them to bring good out of trials.

The first is our Faith. Hardship, bad days, and curve balls irritate me, but it’s in those moments that we have the greatest opportunity to make a difference. To do this, we must keep our perspective on the goal of it all.

I must always remember that God will carry us through any adversity. My Pastor, Denny Livingston, taught me in whatever I face, to look just beyond the battle to the benefits of victory. If we will do the work of today, we will reap the rewards of tomorrow.

This couples with the second of the three tools, purpose. I don’t have to know the reason for the battle, as long as I keep in mind that my life has purpose. Every trial isn’t necessarily building me, but I am being built through every trial. Some things that happen are just life, some are lessons, but everything we go through is part of our journey.

We can learn something in every incident that happens. We don’t have to always know the why, just The Who that is leading us. Our faith in Him, and knowing that He has a purpose for our lives, will give us the strength to go on.

Thirdly, is about investment in others. Your experiences can benefit someone else, your successes and your failures. What you did right, and what you regretted, are lessons that you can share with those who haven’t walked that path yet.

As God invested in us, we should pour into those around us. It’s in how we do this that we plant better futures for all of us. Those that I love, encourage, and stand with empower me to do the same for someone else. As people poured into me, I want to pour into them.

Oil pipes, shovels, and air tanks, may not seem glamorous, until you see their results. Everything precious was dug out, mined, or harvested. It’s hard work, but once it’s cleaned up and polished, isn’t it beautiful? So is your life, you are God’s treasure, share it with others!