Why do we call this Friday “Good?”

She asked me why we call it “Good Friday.”  Why “good?”

Why “Happy Easter” or “Happy Resurrection Day?”

What makes this so “happy?”

How could we celebrate this death, this sacrifice, this sadness?  We should be so much more serious and sad, she tells me.1corinthians11

Like the disciples who mourned, like Mary Magdalene crying beside the tomb, surely we should remember this day with tears.

This she asks in confusion.

On Thursday, we ate the bread and drank the cup.

That’s what Jesus said that night in the upper room with disciples scattered around:

This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19 NIV).

So, we remember.

She is thinking of grape juice and crackers, a snack when you’re hungry, but I tell her it’s more than that.

And she asks, why do this?  Why talk about blood–so gross, so morbid and earthy?

It’s too corporeal for holiness and for the sacred places, the striking red against the purity of the righteous life.

Why Mom?

That’s yucky.

I think today about the remembrance of it all and why it matters.

Today is Good Friday.

Last year, Good Friday was also the eight-year anniversary of my dad’s death.

So I sat with my daughter brushing her hair and telling her about my dad: little remembrances here and there and what makes that day special.

Then what makes this a day holy and set apart from other days?  Why Good Friday?1peter2

Because there’s beauty in the remembrance.  There’s honor and power in recollection.

I think this about my dad.  Talking about him makes his life real here and now after death.  It makes it more tangible, relevant.

These daughters of mine who never knew him and only see the pictures in a photo album, mostly after he was sick and didn’t look like the dad I remember, what other way for them to know than for me to tell?

And you just don’t want the anniversary of his death to slip by forgotten because it would be forgetting him.

Is it any different remembering our Savior in this season?

In German, they don’t call this day Good.  They call it Mourning Friday.

But isn’t that the beauty of this day?  That even as we remember Christ’s death, even as we talk about the cross and give it true attention, even as we drink the cup so apt to stain white and we eat the bread broken, even as we tell our children the stories and we say:

This is what He did for us.  Not some pristine ritual, not something pure and clean.  It was bloody and painful.  It was death.  It was hard.  And sacrifice like that was suffering. 

It wasn’t pushed on Him because He was too weak.  Jesus “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:7-8 NIV).

This is what He chose to do for us because of love so great. 

Love so good.  Love so amazing, so divine…

Even as we say this and tell this to our children, the beauty of remembering the cross isn’t just the Mourning of our Savior, it’s the Good News that the resurrection came.

Why Good?

Why Happy?

I tell her remembering is how we worship, how we give thanks, how we honor His gift to us.

And that gift wasn’t just a trinket wrapped in a package with a bow.

It was good.  Truly good.  The greatest gift at the highest price.

And the resurrection; that’s our joy.  What better reason to be happy than to know the cross was not the end and the tomb didn’t destroy our hope?

Because of this, we have life everlasting.

And because of that day, we can see any crisis as an opportunity for Him to shine with resurrection power, to resurrect the dead, to defy all expectations and trample all over the circumstantial evidence by doing the impossible.

Yes, this remembering is good.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

How Pioneer Women Were Superheroes and Why I’m Baking Bread

I measure out the honey, heap it onto the tablespoon and let it drip slowly (as honey does) into the warm milk.

I could have grabbed a loaf off the grocery store shelf.  One loaf in a plastic bag, pre-sliced, and BAM–bread.

Not this time.

I pour in the bread flour.  One cup, now two, now three.

Why not just keep this simple?  Why not a box of crackers from the store?  A bag of pita bread?

I can’t explain it exactly, but I want to push elbow deep into the dough and knead it with my own two weak hands.

Surely I’ve been kneading for 10 minutes already.

It’s been two minutes exactly.

I think maybe my clock is broken.

Those pioneer women were superheroes, performing muscular feats of miraculous strength everyday at the kitchen table.  Maybe not leaping over skyscrapers and flying through space, but baking that daily loaf of bread, that takes power.bethmoore

I’m a modern-day wimp, so this pounding out the dough and stretching it and pounding some more is breathless work.

But it gives me time to think about this:

In the Tabernacle that Moses and the Israelites packed up and toted around the wilderness, God set His Presence right in the midst of His people.

He told them how to craft the Holy objects, the washbasin, the altar.

And He told them to place fresh bread on the table once a week, the shewbread.  But I read in my Bible its other name: “the bread of the Presence (Exodus 39:36).

The priests placed that bread on the table and there it sat every single day, not in the Most Holy Place where the High Priest entered once a year.

No, in the Holy Place, where the priests came in day after day to worship before God.

They walked in that sacred space and there was the bread.  There it was.  There it always was.

The moment it started to crackle with staleness, they brought in fresh, warm bread, baked new and placed it once again, a daily reminder of the daily presence of our God.

This bread is to be set out before the Lord regularly, Sabbath after Sabbath, on behalf of the Israelites, as a lasting covenant (Leviticus 24:5-8 NIV)

I set my own bread dough on the oven to rise and sit down to my Bible study book and cup of tea.  That’s when I read it… Beth Moore tells me in her study on David:

The Hebrew term for presence is paneh, which means ‘countenance, presence, or face.’  The everlasting covenant symbolized by the bread of the Presence was a reminder of the pledge of God’s presence to His people.

That bread on that altar reminded God’s people that He was with them, yes, even there in the wilderness.

Even there with David as he ran from Saul, hiding in caves, feigning madness, running for his life.  He used that same Hebrew word–paneh—when he wrote:

For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help (Psalm 22:4 NIV).

My bread is in the oven now, giving the whole house a domestic smell, a fresh and warm aroma.

As it bakes, I consider Christ, because He’s the Bread of Life—God in the flesh, God in our midst, the touchable and tangible sign of God’s presence, the way we could see the face of God.

And Jesus, when He broke that bread and passed that cup around the Passover table, said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Every single time you eat the bread and you drink the cup, you remember Christ’s death.  But also His presence. 

“Christ is the bread of God’s presence to us” (Beth Moore, David).

Steven Furtick asks if this Communion we take could “also be an invitation to constant communion with Christ?  For each of us, everywhere, each day?”  (Crash the Chatterbox, p. 152).

So, if I’m feeling the staleness, the crusty or even moldy sign of old bread, then what I need to do is remember. 

I need to renew the Bread of His Presence right here in my life.

I slice off a piece of this warm, newly baked bread.

I pour out the grape juice in my tiny tea cup.

There I pray,  My Lord, I remember what You have done for me.  I am so thankful.  So unworthy.  Will You cleanse my heart?  Will You remind me of Your Presence here in my life?

Communion, this sacred act, becomes personal, a way for the holy to invade my daily: this home, this kitchen, this kitchen table.

God’s presence in this place.

How do you pray before taking Communion?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

What Makes this Good?

She asked me why we call it “Good Friday.”  Why “good?”

Why “Happy Easter” or “Happy Resurrection Day?”

What makes this so “happy?”

How could we celebrate this death, this sacrifice, this sadness?  We should be so much more serious and sad, she tells me.P1040320

Like the disciples who mourned, like Mary Magdalene crying beside the tomb, surely we should remember this day with tears.

This she asks in confusion.

On Thursday, we ate the bread and drank the cup.

That’s what Jesus said that night in the upper room with disciples scattered around:  “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19 NIV).

So, we remember.

She is thinking of grape juice and crackers, a snack when you’re hungry, but I tell her it’s more than that.

And she asks, why do this?  Why talk about blood–so gross, so morbid and earthy?

It’s too corporeal for holiness and for the sacred places, the striking red against the purity of the righteous life.

Why Mom?

That’s yucky.

I think today about the remembrance of it all and why it matters.

Today is Good Friday.

It’s also the eight-year anniversary of my dad’s death.

This morning, I sat with my daughter brushing her hair and telling her about my dad: little remembrances here and there and what makes today special.

So, what makes this a day holy and set apart from other days?  Why Good Friday?

Because there’s beauty in the remembrance.  There’s honor and power in recollection.

I think this about my dad today.  Talking about him makes his life real here and now after death.  It makes it more tangible, relevant.

These daughters of mine who never knew him and only see the pictures in a photo album, mostly after he was sick and didn’t look like the dad I remember, what other way for them to know than for me to tell?

And you just don’t want this day to slip by forgotten because it would be forgetting him.

Is it any different remembering our Savior in this season?

In German, they don’t call this day Good.  They call it Mourning Friday.

But isn’t that the beauty of this day?  That even as we remember Christ’s death, even as we talk about the cross and give it true attention, even as we drink the cup so apt to stain white and we eat the bread broken, even as we tell our children the stories and we say:

This is what He did for us.  Not some pristine ritual, not something pure and clean.  It was bloody and painful.  It was death.  It was hard.  And sacrifice like that was suffering. 

It wasn’t pushed on Him because He was too weak.  Jesus “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:7-8 NIV).

This is what He chose to do for us because of love so great. 

Love so good.  Love so amazing, so divine…

Even as we say this and tell this to our children, the beauty of remembering the cross isn’t just the Mourning of our Savior, it’s the Good News that the resurrection came.

Why Good?

Why Happy?

I tell her remembering is how we worship, how we give thanks, how we honor His gift to us.

And that gift wasn’t just a trinket wrapped in a package with a bow.

It was good.  Truly good.  The greatest gift at the highest price.

And the resurrection; that’s our joy.  What better reason to be happy than to know the cross was not the end and the tomb didn’t destroy our hope?

Because of this, we have life everlasting.

And because of that day, we can see any crisis as an opportunity for Him to shine with resurrection power, to resurrect the dead, to defy all expectations and trample all over the circumstantial evidence by doing the impossible.

Yes, this remembering is good.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Remembering or Not Forgetting

The first time I ever voted was in a presidential election just a few months after my eighteenth birthday.  At the time, my polling place was my old elementary school, which I hadn’t visited in about seven years.

In the grand scheme of life, seven years isn’t a long time to wait before returning to an old haunting place.  I was young, though, and those seven years were nearly half my life at the time, so I waxed a little nostalgic when I remembered “the old days.”

I walked through the once-confusing halls where we used to form lines only on the blue square tiles and never on the white.

Then I stepped into the cafeteria where I had once been utterly overwhelmed by long lunch lines that never went fast enough.  There was always so much noise and chaos and teachers flickering the lights to signal us to quiet down.

That gym was also the frightening place where I had failed at rope-climbing and gymnastics and kickball.

My memories of elementary school were of general bewilderment.

Not really knowing where I was going.

Missing the bus once because I’d gotten lost walking to my brother’s classroom to pick up his homework.

Navigating tricky relationships with girls who were cooler than me and who all, unlike me, had a favorite singer in New Kids on the Block.  They even had boy band buttons and sweaters, notebooks, and necklaces.

When I returned as a voting adult, it all seemed so much smaller than I had remembered.  The halls and rooms that had loomed so large weren’t so big after all.

Not just that, but I had some emotional re-sizing to do.  All of the elementary school crises that had stressed me out in fourth and fifth grade were put in perspective.

Did it matter that I was the only girl (yes, the only one!) who hadn’t rocked out to New Kids on the Block tunes at my friends’ birthday parties?

Had I been stunted and set for a life of failure all because of my elementary P.E. hopelessness?

I suppose the biggest lesson for me that day was that memory is a faulty thing, rarely accurate, mostly relative and generally a slave to the emotional filter we’re using at the time.

After all, the size of that school building hadn’t changed an inch.  I had grown.  I had changed.  Now I saw that same campus differently.

We have a way sometimes of relying on our own memories too much.  We think, “God gave me this miracle!  I’ll never forget it!”

Yet, within a month we’re stressing out over another need, totally forgetting that God has delivered us before and He could do it again.

We look back on the past and think, “Things were so much better then!  If only I could get back to such happiness, such simplicity, such ease!”

That’s when we sound most like the Israelites on their way out of Egypt, who turned 400 years of slavery into their own version of “Those Good Old Days.”

They whined (weren’t they always whining?):

 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic (Numbers 11:5).

At no cost?  It seems to me their fish and salad diet came at a great cost, the loss of freedom and harsh labor conditions, the murder of their sons, and restrictions on their worship.

In that moment, though, wandering in the wilderness, facing opposition and obstacles, they were willing to trade their freedom for the old salad bars of Egypt.  Why?  Not because they remembered.

It was because they forgot.

And that’s what we do so much of the time.  We forget what God has done for us.  We forget where we came from and all that He’s brought us through.  We forget what it was really like.

Remembering the truth—that takes work—and the telling and re-telling of our life stories.

God tells us when we drink the cup and eat the bread and Scripture says, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

We tell ourselves when we write out prayer journals and gratitude lists to remember what God has done.

We tell each other when, like Paul, we proclaim “the testimony about God” (1 Corinthians 2:1).

We tell our children by talking “about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:7).

Through telling, we remember, maybe not perfectly, maybe not flawlessly.  But at least we don’t forget.

How do you remember what God has done for you?

You can read more about this topic here:

Today’s post is part of the August topic ‘Memory’ by the ChristianWriters.com Blog Chain. You can click on the links on the right side of this page to read more articles in this series.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Walk, 03/31/2012

Hiding the Word:

It’s the first full day of Spring Break for us and my kids were up early.  My oldest daughter announced that one of her friends plans to “sleep all day” for spring break.  “How boring!” she said.

My kids plan to pack in as much activity as possible.

So, it wasn’t even 8 a.m. yet when one of my girls was inspired to start singing.  She pulled out a travel CD of Bible songs that Grammy gave them a few Christmases ago and popped it into the CD player in her bedroom.  I started hearing the chorus of “Deep and Wide” emanate through the house . . . loudly.  This daughter of mine always sings with passion.

Inspired, my baby girl ran into the playroom and pulled out the entire plastic drum of instruments.  The harmonica was humming, the cymbals crashing, the sleigh bells jingling, the clackers clacking, the triangle jingling.  Yes, even the kazoo was buzzing.

It was an early morning symphony of praise in my tiny house and it may have sounded like pots and pans at times down here.  To God, though, it’s spontaneity and passion must have sounded beautiful.

We are preparing to enter the Passion Week, the time when we remember Good Friday when Christ died for us and Resurrection Day when He conquered death and the grave.  When Jesus entered Jerusalem for that final week, the people filled the air with waving palm branches and shouted, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:13).

They shouted praise to Him because of false expectations and misplaced excitement.  They didn’t praise Him for being a Savior, for laying down His own life to provide redemption for their sins.

No, they hailed Him as a conqueror, rebel, and over-thrower of the earthly kingdoms.  When they realized that’s not what He was doing, they mostly abandoned Him. The palm branches stopped waving.  The people stopped shouting “Hosanna” and started shouting “Crucify Him.”

My praise can be tainted by misplaced expectations also.

So, this week, I am meditating on a verse that reminds me to praise God when He behaves the way I expect and when He doesn’t.  It’s my hope to sing praise to God with the passionate simplicity of children crooning with their Bible songs CD and clanging together toy instruments.

It seems appropriate to prepare for the Passion Week with praise:

I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!  (Psalm 34:1-3 ESV)

Weekend Rerun:

Am I the One, Lord?
Originally posted on April 5, 2011

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.”  2 Cor. 13:15

Twelve disciples, one Savior, reclined and relaxed, celebrating Passover together in an Upper Room.  Thirteen share in a meal of remembrance that they would always remember and that we continue to remember.   The Last Supper.  Communion.  “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Together they have eaten and laughed, declared “For His mercy endures forever” and sung hymns in worship.  They are jovial, anticipatory, expecting Christ’s triumph in Jerusalem.

Jesus leans in, “While they were eating, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me’ (Matthew 26:21, NLT).

Silence.  Stillness.  Seriousness.

If Jesus said this at the end of a church service today and the pianist played the quiet first notes of the closing hymn, many of us would be nudging our neighbor or making concerted efforts NOT to stare at the person across the room.  (Or, perhaps, making lunch plans and quieting the rumbles in our stomachs.)  It’s you, it’s you, it’s you—we might think.  That sermon is for you!  That heaviness of the Holy Spirit—it’s for you!  I’ve seen your sin.   I know your need to repent.

And yet, 12 disciples, “greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, ‘Am I the one, Lord?’” (Matthew 26:22, NLT).

Am I the one, Lord?

This seeking is our salvation.  We ask the dangerous question and we allow the Holy Spirit to turn over our hearts and reveal our own true need to be at the altar and lay it down.  Or the Holy Spirit searches, finds purity of heart, and invites us to pray for those around us still struggling.

It’s our complacency and satisfaction with our spiritual dwelling place that leads to our downfall.  It’s when we stake our claim to land and decide we’ve traveled enough in this road to Christ that we edge our way to danger.  I’m pure enough.  Good enough.  I’m not lukewarm.  I’ve conquered the “big” sins.  I read my Bible.  I pray.  I’m close to God.  I have a strong ministry.

I’m good.  Right here, in this place, I’m good here.

But this journey to Christ is ongoing.  As long as we are alive on this planet, we are imperfect creatures in need of an ever-closer intimacy with our Savior.

This moving to Christ requires moving away from something else.  It’s a necessity of the road.   In order to go forward, we must leave something behind.

That was true for Israel.  God called them to Canaan when He beckoned Abram out of Mesopotamia and its many gods and idols.  God called them back to the Promised Land when He led them out of Egypt and they left slavery for freedom.

They walked towards promise, but it involved rejection—rejecting the old definition of “normal.”  It was “normal” for those in Abram’s home town to pray to statues and worship bits of stone and wood.  It was “normal” in Egypt for male babies to be slaughtered simply for population control.

It’s “normal” for us to be too busy for God, to lose it with our kids, to be selfish, to feel jealousy, to cheat, to lie, to overindulge , to worry, to rebel, to gossip. . .  We think these sins are acceptable because everyone does them and no one can be perfect.

Yet, God calls us out of “normal” and into radical.  He doesn’t ask us the hard questions to shame us or humiliate us.  He does it to draw us close to Him so that we are “being transformed . . .from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NKJV).

Eugene Peterson wrote, “Repentance, the first word in Christian immigration, sets us on the way to traveling in the light.  It is a rejection that is also an acceptance, a leaving that develops into an arriving, a no to the world that is a yes to God.”

Peter sat at that Passover table and asked the dangerous question, “Am I the one, Lord?”  He allowed the searching of his heart.  It wasn’t him.  Eleven of those at the table endured their souls being turned over and could say that they were innocent of this betrayal.

Yet, then they stopped asking.  That’s our weakness, too.   When we stop asking the Holy Spirit to search us, when we become complacent and self-assured, it’s when we will betray.

Like Peter.  Jesus predicted Peter would deny Him.  “Peter answered and said to Him, ‘Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.’  Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crowd, you will deny Me three times.’  Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’  And so said all the disciples” (Matthew 26:33-35, NKJV).

But, he was wrong.  Jesus arrested.  Jesus taken away in chains.  Jesus bullied, beaten, spat on, and mocked.  Peter in the courtyard answering the questioning accusations of others by the fire.  “I never knew the fellow.  I wasn’t one of his disciples.  I didn’t follow Him.”

He stumbled into betrayal because he was complacent.  Peter thought he knew what was in his heart, that he was right with God and strong in his faith.  So, he stopped asking, “Am I the one, Lord?” and started saying, “Not I.”

And so we must ask and keep on asking, “Search my heart, search my soul.  There is nothing else that I want more.  Shine Your light and show Your face.  In my life, Lord, have Your way, have Your way” (Hillsong United).

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King