The Passion of Christ

Each year at Easter, I anticipate Passion Week, especially Good Friday. If the sky isn’t dark and rainy between noon and 3 pm, I feel cheated. I expect nature to reflect the deep spiritual meaning of this day. In my soul, I want to drink deeply of the scriptures, worshiping at the foot of the cross of my Saviour. I want:

  • to again be humble before Him, to endeavor to understand the depths of His sufferings and their meaning of freedom for me as a believer;
  • to take communion with a deeper perspective than the previous year;
  • to commune deeply with Jesus and feel His Holy Spirit within me;
  • to listen to what the Holy Spirit would speak to me on this holiest of Holy Days; and
  • to be still and know that He is God, my Saviour, and my Redeemer.

Here are some scriptures from Luke 22 and Luke 23 for further reflection.

May the Lord touch you as we continue worshiping with “Oh The Blood” by Kari Jobe with Gateway Worship.

The Passion of Christ

Dread in the Garden of Gethsemane

What do you dread?

  • The first day of school?
  • Beginning a diet?
  • Facing a new job?
  • Speaking in front of a group?

No matter our circumstances, we all can plug in a memory that makes our palms sweat and our stomachs knot, where we’re forced to tiptoe through a tunnel laced with fear of the unknown.

Do you think Jesus felt dread on Thursday night following the Passover meal? Unlike us, He knew the future because He was God as well as man. As He entered the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples, as was His custom, He encouraged them to pray that they not enter into temptation.

Dread in the Garden of Gethsemane by Karen Jurgens

And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground ~ Luke 22:41-44, NASB.

Can you imagine drops of sweat turning into blood? I researched that condition and found that it’s indeed possible. Blood vessels clustered near the sweat glands can burst under extreme stress, producing bloody sweat. (To read more about drops of sweat turning into blood, follow this link.)

Luke, a physician, is the only apostle who includes this detail about Jesus. It lends understanding about the tremendous dread our Lord must have felt as He prepared to suffer and surrender His life for the sins of all mankind—past, present and future. God even sent an angel to minister strength to Him in that hour.

On this Maundy Thursday, let’s reverently give humble thanks to our precious Lord who willfully pressed through the dread of the coming Cross. There He would bear our sins, knowing He would face temporary separation from the Father—the price He willingly paid to redeem us at Calvary.

The precious blood of the Lamb sets us free from sin and death. My prayer is for all to find salvation in Jesus, God’s perfect Passover Lamb. These verses tell how:

…if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED” ~ Romans 10:9-13, NASB.

May God richly bless you this Easter season as together we worship our Lord and Saviour, Christ Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace in the Midst of the Storm

Peace in the storm

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!” ~ 2 Thessalonians 16:33 NASB.

Two am. The dark silence of sleeping night explodes with a piercing siren from my phone.

Tornado warning. Take cover immediately.

I stumble out of bed, reach for my robe, and peer through a shutter. In the highlight of garage spotlights, driving rain pelts sideways through the shadows. Trees bend sideways, their new leaves shaking violently as they cling madly to their branches. A city siren screams warnings over the howling wind to take cover. I fumble down the stairs in the dark, aiming for the safety of the tornado closet, praying that God spares our home and our lives from destruction.

The next morning, the sun shines golden bright. The sky is clear blue, washed so clean that it sparkles. Trees lift their leaves upward, as though casually sunbathing at the beach. All is calm, all recent violence forgotten. Trails of downed leaves and debris lay scattered on the roads—the only sign left of those early whirlwinds.

Driving through it jogs my memory of a dream about a tornado I had a few years ago. Like an etched vision, it doesn’t fade with the passage of time, probably because it represents a paradox.

Here’s the dream:

I was standing in a house, looking through a huge picture window on the second floor. Flatland circled the property, and I could see only ground and sky in the far distance. Then the wind kicked up, and storm clouds colored the horizon. A purple funnel appeared, barreling toward the house. I yelled to my family to head down to the basement to take cover, but I was glued at the window, watching the violent twister approach.

Just yards away from striking the house, the funnel cloud suddenly changed into a giant man. He looked directly at me through the window as he walked toward me, holding out his hands as if to help. What struck me most was the deep compassion on his face. He appeared extremely concerned for my safety and well-being, and I sensed that he was my protection from the storm.

But at the same time, he was the storm.

That’s the paradox.

My interpretation is that God abides camouflaged within our storms of life. What brings destruction also results in cleansing and newness. Although we fear the roaring whirlwinds around us, Jesus is in control and will protect us, His children, from harm.

Where does Scripture reflect this principle? One example is the story of Jesus and His disciples sailing across the Sea of Galilee.

Peace in the storm 1

“And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”” ~ Matthew 8:24-27 NASB.

I’m left with a picture of the awe-struck disciples on their knees, worshiping Jesus who stands before them. I envision the same outstretched hands and compassionate eyes like the man in my dream, whom I believe to be the Lord.

Are you caught up in a tornado, a storm of life?

Don’t fear.

Jesus is at the center of your storm.

He is your peace.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” ~ John 16:33 NASB.

 

Peace in the Storm 2

 

Even so, Come Lord Jesus

Join me in worshiping the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Those who are weary from the cares of life and whose souls thirst for rest, for peace. Look up and focus on Him.

It’s close to His divine appearing, His rapture of the Saints. Don’t miss out.

He’s coming soon. Church, get ready to meet your groom! Jesus is coming soon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw5Fq-svvQ8

 

 

 

The Light of the World

light-of-the-world-by-karen-jurgens

Let’s soak in the words of Jesus today.

You are the light of the world.

A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;

nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand,

and it gives light to all who are in the house.

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works,

and glorify your Father who is in heaven” ~ Matthew 5: 14-16, NASB.

Today, be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and let your light shine out as a witness to all the world. Lord, may you bring glory unto your holy Name!

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Tending Hearts in Single Motherhood

http://www.christinelindsay.org/2017/02/tending-hearts-in-single-motherhood-by.html

Shared from http://www.ChristineLindsay.org

TENDING HEARTS IN SINGLE MOTHERHOOD–by Guest Author Karen Jurgens

Guest Author Karen Jurgens
with her daughters after her divorce

Let’s be honest—going through a divorce isn’t easy. But no matter how difficult, don’t forget that your children may be suffering. To minister as the parental caregiver, it’s crucial to remember to first care for yourself. Just as on a flight where adults secure their oxygen masks before helping children, it’s the same after divorce.

Here are some points to help you along that journey.

Step One: Tend your spiritual life.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4, NASB).
Guest Author Karen Jurgens
When I catapulted into a new life of singlehood, a personal relationship with Jesus became my lifeline. He was more than my Redeemer and Friend—He became my spiritual husband. My car was a prayer chapel to and from work where I discussed everything with Him, just as though He were sitting next to me. When I fell into bed exhausted at the end of a long day, He talked to me out of His Word, speaking from passages wherever my bible fell open. I meditated on those scriptures and memorized them. He filled me with His strength, giving me hope for tomorrow. Each day brightened a shade, and I began to climb out of my deep well of grief.

Step Two: Surround yourself with adults who can offer support.

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4:10, NASB).
Karen’s daughters with Nana.
When my stay-at-home status changed overnight, I dusted off my teaching certificate after a nine-year absence. Securing a support system at home so I could handle a new job was a key ingredient, while keeping my children stable in their world. Fortunately, my parents lived nearby, so I was blessed to recruit them. I am forever grateful for their provision of stability and love for the girls, in addition to my peace of mind.

Step Three: Begin a new life.

A joyful heart is good medicine… (Proverbs 17:22a).
  • Playing school with Papa, Karen Jurgens’s
    father.
    Looking back, I can see how having a job was a blessing in disguise. Although I felt overwhelmed at the time, God used it as part of my healing process. Teaching, grading papers, and learning computer software programs kept my mind busy from the moment I awoke until I fell asleep. Little time was left over to feel sorry for myself—no time left to attend pity parties at the Broken Hearts Club.
  • Making a new set of friends also provided comfort. Singles groups in my church supplied opportunities for meeting new people and attending social activities. Laughter and pleasant adult company helped heal my heart.
  • But what about the kids? In a single family, ministering to them is worth every bit of effort it takes. Providing a feeling of security and love is of paramount importance.

Step Four: Communication.

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6, NASB).
  • Karen Jurgens’s daughters at church.
    Regular church attendance and bedtime prayers were the most important routines I established. Every night we would gather on my bed to read the bible. We prayed aloud for each other and memorized scriptures together. These activities formed the foundation of the girls’ relationship and walk with Jesus. Any time one of them started to wander during their teenage years, their training in the Word always brought them back on the path of righteousness.
  • Keep communication lines open by helping with homework, attending school and community activities, or playing a board or card game your child enjoys. Regular dinner time around the table is also a great opportunity for sharing about everyone’s day to celebrate the good things as well as to console any hurts.

Step Five:  Create a safe and secure environment.

My dad’s favorite saying: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
  • Karen Jurgens’s daughters in 2017
    Encourage positive words for little ears.No criticizing the other parent! Just pleasant, wholesome words that will nurture love for both parents.
  • Create a safe bridge of custodial visitation your child can cross in both directions. It’s not easy to live in two homes with two different sets of rules and expectations. Reassure children by continuing familiar routines with comforting belongings at both places, thus minimizing confusion and upset.
  • Pet adoption is a good way to bring comfort to a child’s heart. Loving and caring for our poodle Babette filled our hearts with love, comforting our entire family, and it taught the girls responsibility.
A road with fresh adventures and new relationships await you with every sunrise.May you and your children be blessed on this journey with good health, peace, and the joy of the Lord.
 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

ABOUT AUTHOR KAREN JURGENS

Karen Jurgens, a Cincinnati native, has been a Texan transplant for thirty years and counting. Since retiring from teaching, she has begun a new career as an author, blogger, and speaker within the context of Christian ministry. She blogs about scriptural answers to life’s trials at Touched by Him Ministries.

LINKS FOR KAREN JURGENS:

Blogs:
Touched by Him Ministries
Writing Prompts blog
Heartwings Blog
Twitter
Facebook Author page
Amazon Author page
Desire’s Promise Link to Purchase

Remembering God’s Love for Valentine’s Day

First published on Heart”wings” Blog

gods-love-by-karen-jurgens

Who is the author of love?

On Valentine’s Day, the world may claim it’s Cupid. But as Christians, we know who is the real author is—the Lord God.

What are the characteristics of love? cupid

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things  1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NASB.

With Valentine’s Day literally around the corner, most of us have someone special on our minds. Tomorrow lends a unique opportunity to express our appreciation in a way that demonstrates value to our loved ones.

What about exchanging valentines with God?

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God sent us His valentine when He sent Jesus into the world.

16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him John 3:16-17 NASB.

Jesus signed his valentine in red from the Cross.

valentines-cross

8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us Romans 5:8 NASB.

How much does He love us?

15 Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. 16 Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands  Isaiah 49:15-16 NASB.

valentines-palms-1

On Valentine’s Day as we celebrate, let’s also remember celebrate God’s love for us. Tell Him you love Him. Do something special for Jesus. Thank Him for His overwhelming, perfect love.

With Jesus, every day is Valentine’s Day. Let’s remember to always rejoice in His love.

gods-love-2-by-karen-jurgens

 

Be Shrewd as Serpents and Innocent as Doves

Be shrewd as serpents and innocent s doves by Karen Jurgens

We live in a day of great deception sweeping the earth. Jesus warned the disciples, Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves’ (Matthew 10:15, NASB). Prophecy tells us that great deception will sweep the earth in these last days, and unless those days were shortened, even the very elect would be led astray.

May I tell you a true story? Let’s travel back to the early eighties. At the time, I was a young, single teacher in a small town out West.

One Sunday, as I was sitting in my singles’ class, a stranger joined us. This man claimed he was driving through town when the Lord had told him to stop at our church. Not only was he from out-of-town, but also from a different state.

Afterward, he joined us for the church service. At the end of the sermon, he went down to the altar where he collapsed, sobbing. The ministers laid hands on his shoulders and prayed with him a long time. We all wondered what was wrong, and a few days later, we heard his story through the grapevine.

Just a few months earlier, his wife and two young children had been on their way to church for a Wednesday evening service. As their car crested to the top of a hill,  a tractor-trailer met them. The head-on collision was unavoidable, killing all three passengers in the car. Ever since, this father and husband had suffered from bereavement, unable to face life without his precious family.

That catalyst set his wanderings in motion. He had traveled through several states, seeking the Lord’s will for his inconsolable grief. Certain that he had heard God’s voice, he obeyed and stopped at our small-town church. Not knowing why, he decided to simply be obedient and throw himself into the arms of the congregation. Perhaps here he could find solace and begin a new life.

As good Christians, the congregation opened their hearts to this poor man. No one could fathom the pain he must have suffered from such a cruel turn of fate. As he had no job or place to live, Good Samaritans opened their spare bedrooms and kitchens, feeling dutiful to heap compassion on him.

Sunday after Sunday, he cried at the altar, but on weekdays he offered free roofing skills. He aimed his labor of love at elderly women and widows, volunteering to check their roofs for damage. Sure enough, every lady seemed to own a house in need of major repairs, so he did the job. Without pay.

However, those sweet Christian ladies wouldn’t hear of his refusing payment. Not only did they feed him three meals a day, but they paid at least three times what the job was worth. With tears in their eyes, they forced him to take their money. Although he initially balked, he always gave in, humbly pocketing the cash as he wiped away his own tears. After a hug and a peck on the cheek, he moved on to the next widow’s house.

Time passed. One weekend, he joined our group for a weekend trip of snow-skiing. That evening, we went to dinner at a local restaurant where we waited to be seated. I happened to stand next to him, so we struck up a conversation for the first time.

My spiritual senses were keen, like a bloodhound, and I sensed something amiss about this man. What was it? I asked him questions about his wife and kids, careful to be sensitive. With a blank stare in his eyes, he answered everything with a lifeless tone.

After several minutes of probing, I summed up my opinion about details of his story that made no sense to me.  “Either you’re still in so much shock that your emotions are numbed, or else” … I laughed as though I couldn’t believe it myself … “this story just isn’t true.”

My words had captured his full attention. His eyes widened, but he said nothing. No reaction except for that odd stare. He moved far away from me, and we never conversed again.

The next day on our way home, our group stopped at a mountain resort for brunch—a pricey buffet. When the check came, we prepared to pay individually, but he stopped us.

“No, put your money away. This is my treat.”

Our mouths dropped. How could he possibly afford to pay for the entire group? The amount was well over one hundred dollars back then, and we all protested at his generosity. Instead, he whipped out a credit card and sent the bill off with a server. All we could do was thank him over and over.

Be shrewd as serpents but innocent as doves.Be shrewd as serpents and innocent s doves by Karen Jurgens

In the eyes of the church leadership and members, this man could do no wrong. Everyone bent over backward to help him every way possible.

Except me. I remembered his odd reaction at the restaurant and still had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right, so I followed my instincts and observed from a distance. I had confided my doubts to several friends, but they disagreed with me, seeing no good reason to doubt his story.

Then, one day, our visitor suddenly disappeared, and everyone in the church was surprised and concerned. Why, he hadn’t even said goodbye. No one could understand it. Where had he gone?

A couple days later, I heard that one of the guys in our group had also become suspicious about this stranger’s excessive spending on different credit cards and had checked him out. Good thing he did.

Turned out our visitor was a criminal wanted in several states for fraud, bounced checks, and stolen credit cards. He traveled from state-to-state, stopping at small churches in sleepy towns where he bet on the people being gullible.

And the story about losing his family? All phony. He was divorced from his wife, and all three were alive and well, residing in a different state.

And the roofs he had fixed? He had done little to no repairs, just sat on top of the houses, occasionally banging a hammer enough times to sound like he was working. Those poor elderly women on a fixed income had been robbed by a con man.

Deception means being tricked into believing a lie. That is Satan’s purpose, which explains why Jesus calls him the father of lies. Remember Eve? She has her own story in Genesis, and we’re still living under the consequences of it today.

How easy it is to be deceived. We may be sincere … but sincerely wrong. The only way to be sure we’re not deceived is to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, who lives inside every Christian believer. He will nudge our hearts and show us truth as we pray. He speaks through God’s word and sometimes through dreams, teaching us how to discern wisdom and truth.

Be shrewd as serpents and innocent s doves by Karen Jurgens

I may have escaped falling into deception that round, but other tests were soon to come down my road of life. How I wish I could say I have never been deceived—but that would be a lie. Haven’t we all been, at one time or another?

Be shrewd as serpents but innocent as doves.

In Matthew 7:15, Jesus warns us toBeware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves’ (NASB).

Think about it—could there be a person in your life right now who might be deceiving you?

Be shrewd as serpents and innocent s doves by Karen Jurgens

 

Welcome to the Best Year Yet: 2017

Can you believe it’s already New Year’s Day? If you’re like me, the events of 2016 seem to have flown by at a record rate of speed.

I recall when I used to dread January the most—all the bitter cold weather, the snow and ice, the dark days with little sunlight—and worst of all, it lasted for an eternal thirty-one days. But last year, I noticed how quickly it passed for the first time. Perhaps the blustery winter winds will also hurry the days along to February, one of my favorite months.

How are you going to begin this New Year? I have participated in fasting and prayer for many years, and my 2017 will begin the same way. I like to do a Daniel Fast for the first twenty-one days. This year I’m adding a juice fast for part of the time, making it more challenging. An article on fasting in Charisma Magazine is helpful because it describes the different kinds of fasts and what you eat for different lengths of time.

And the benefits? Not only is your physical body cleansed, but your spirit is also renewed. God can speak to you through prayer, His word, dreams, and visions. God renews your relationship with Him and will set your feet on a new path for 2017.  As you seek God’s will, fasting and prayer will lead you to find those answers.

I also want to thank you so much for following my blog. I plan to share what the Lord shows me this year, which I hope will be a blessing to your life.

Wishing you all the most blessed and happiest of New Years! May 2017 be the best yet!

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