Holy Saturday, April 20th, 2019

“Early in the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary
Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said,“They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him.” Peter and the other disciple left to go to the tomb. They were running together, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and was the first to arrive at the tomb.”

The story of the empty tomb in John shares some interesting details. First, I think it is unusual to include all of the running. These disciples hear of an empty tomb and want so badly to see and believe. Walking just will not get them there. They must run!
In addition, what is there to know about this unnamed disciple? Throughout the book of John (13:21-30 and 19:26-27), there is one disciple who is nameless except for the fact that he loved Jesus. Traditionally we call him the “beloved disciple.” Scholars debate who this might actually be. Is the disciple Lazarus or even Mary Magdalene? Some think it is possibly the author himself, John.
One thing we do know: this disciple was known not by his own identity, but instead by his relationship with Jesus. Now there is something to consider! This disciple was simply known for his love of the Lord. Lent is a time to remove things from our lives in order to better know Jesus. This includes setting down whatever might bring us our individual identity over our identity with

God. “He must increase and I must decrease” (John 3:30). We want to be known for Christ’s accomplishments and not our own.
So let’s keep running. Let’s run away from our personal significance and sprint towards the resurrected one –Jesus Christ.

Prayer:
God of us all, may my life reflect total love for You. May my life connect to the power of Your resurrection. Help me to set aside the personal desires and needs weighing me down so that might more swiftly run to You. Help me be known only by my love for You. Amen.

Contributed by Pastor Alan McGrath



Day: Good Friday, April 19th, 2019

“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’”
Good Friday. For me, this is one of those “thin” places each year, when God feels so near, when the world seems drenched with the sacred, and when this whole story we find ourselves in becomes especially powerful.

Good Friday causes us to reflect on things that we’d much rather avoid thinking about. Pain and suffering, human violence, scapegoating of the innocent, cycles of revenge and retaliation, and our own participation in or allowance of such things. Humanity still suffers from the same afflictions it did in Jesus’ time. The beauty of Good Friday, for me, is that Jesus’ life and example on the cross shows us the pathway out of those destructive cycles.

Shane Claiborne says it so beautifully: “On the cross, we see what love looks like when it stares evil in the face.”
Jesus’ prayer, “Forgive them,” was given freely, not contingent on an apology. I believe he included all of us in that prayer. That unconditional, surprising, unwarranted love is what changes our hearts and turns us to God.

Jesus’ enemy-love is still the most powerful force in the world. Even on nights like tonight, when love seems trampled and buried by the world’s violence and hate, we know the truth—His life and love is like any seed, which, when buried, is not dead, but is the promise of new life.

How can we grow in our capacity to love in this way? While we may not experience such dramatic trials, all of us will be wronged at some time. All of us will be misunderstood or betrayed. Sometimes new boundaries are needed. But we do not have to return hate for hate. There is a prayer guide which Richard Rohr often includes in his daily meditations which helps me remember to extend love beyond my comfort zone. I will share it in case it helps you as it has helped me:

Begin by focusing your thoughts on a loved one–a friend or family member whom you find it easy to love. Say a prayer for that person. Give thanks for their divine spark. Pray for them to experience peace, wholeness, and love.

Next…bring to mind an acquaintance for whom you have no strong feelings. Pray the same good things for them.
Gradually, widen your compassion to pray this same prayer for someone who disagrees with you, who has been less than kind to you, or someone who has hurt you.

 

Prayer:
Thank You, Jesus, for teaching us to love our enemies. Help us to follow you! Amen.

Contributed by Traci McGrath



Day 44: Maundy Thursday, April 18th, 2019

Today is Maundy Thursday. What does that mean? The word “Maundy” is derives from the Latin “mandatum,” which means “commandment.” Jesus and His disciples were sharing their “last supper” when Jesus told them this new
commandment—after He the ‘Master’ had washed their feet.

I’m more of a “Martha” person—meaning I’m the one serving, but to be served is to humbly experience God’s love and grace.
My grandparent and parents were loving examples of serving others. Living in a rural area they were always helping neighbors in whatever way they could—food, sitting with the sick, helping build barns, and taking care of animals.

My grandfather’s favorite gospel hymn, written by William Golden in 1918, said it simply, and today this is my prayer.

A Beautiful Life
Each day I’ll do a golden deed
By helping those who are in need
My life on earth is but a span
And so I’ll do the best I can

To be a child of God each day
My light must shine along the way
I’ll sing His praise while ages roll
And strive to help some troubled soul

The only life that will endure
Is one that’s kind and good and pure
And so for God I’ll take my stand
Each day I’ll lend a helping hand

I’ll help someone in time of need
And journey on with rapid speed
I’ll help the sick and poor and weak
And words of kindness to them speak

While going down life’s weary road
I’ll try to lift some trav’ler’s load
I’ll try to turn the night to day
Make flowers bloom along the way

Life’s evening sun is sinking low
A few more days and I must go
To meet the deeds that I have done
Where there will be no setting sun

 

Contributed by Debra Friddle



Day 43: Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

And I will follow Jesus.

This date for this year’s Lenten Devotional booklet is significant for me personally
because April 17 is the birthday of our oldest son, Mark Andrew Honchul. In the scripture, verse 1, “Stand fast in the Lord.” We had a previous pregnancy loss, but I believed with faith and perseverance in the will of God, and His will did prevail.
As we continue reading in this scripture in verse 4, “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.” With military moves and three other lost pregnancies, we rejoiced 4 ½ years later to welcome Daris Melissa (Missy) Honchul. We THOUGHT our family was complete. Reading in verse 9, “Keep on doing the things that you have learned and heard and seen and the God of peace will be with you” was oh so true.

We continued with military moves and were foster parents in Panama for the Army Community Services and in Killeen for the Methodist Homes in Waco and San Antonio. After 10 years more, we adopted Chris from Waco and Deana from San Antonio. Yes, in verse 13, “We can do all things through Christ which strengthens us.”

Prayer:
Dear God and Father of all, May we continue faithful to the Word and believe to have joy and be thankful for all You bestow on us. Amen.

Contributed by Roz Honchul



Day 42: Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

“28Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

As Pastor Alan was preaching the sermon from this scripture several Sundays ago, I remembered the Sundays we spent as a family at Mother and Daddy’s when my children and my siblings’ children were young. We attended the worship service at Topsey Methodist Church every Sunday, then went to the ranch for lunch.

After lunch was finished and all the dishes were done, the kids went outside. They had 100 acres to roam and be free. There wasn’t a katydid or squirrel safe within that 100 acres. They took their BB guns and shot at anything that moved. We, as their parents, didn’t have to worry about traffic, strangers, or their getting into trouble. Inside the house, the adults played cards and dominoes or sat around watching whatever sport was on television at the time. When the time came for us to go home, no one was ready. My parents were sad to see us go as well, but they knew we would be back next Sunday.

Pastor Alan said, “Time is a gift.” He was absolutely right. We spent time cooking
together, being together, and connecting with family. It was a centering time for all of us, both individually and with family. God granted us those years together to just relax and enjoy being together. That created a closeness in us that is still with the few of us who are left. That time, those years were such a precious gift.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, Thank You for the time You give us to be together as a family and celebrate just being with one another. We need to center ourselves by just being quiet and giving ourselves a moment to find and be with You. In Your name, Amen.

Contributed by Phyllis Wheeler



Day 41: Monday, April 15th, 2019

“Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

Even though the word LIGHT is mentioned in the Bible many times and I have memorized several verses about light, there was one night when I was very thankful for the light from a 40-watt bulb.

My husband and I enjoyed watching the sun set over the Grand Canyon early one March without any thought about how quickly dark would come. By the time we boarded the last bus for the ride back to the bus terminal, it was pitch black. Being the visual person that I am, I was completely disorientated with no light to guide us. The moon was visible occasionally, but the tall pine trees and the cloud cover prevented it from being much help. We were totally alone with no idea how to get back to the
parking lot where we had parked hours earlier. We walked hand in hand trying many paths, only to realize we were in the wrong parking lot since no car lights came on when we clicked the key fob. After what seemed like an eternity, in the distance I spotted that bare bulb at a concession stand we had passed as we entered the area where we could catch the tourist bus. We walked carefully as if the next step could be yet another wrong path; we finally found the place where we had parked. The above verse came to mind when we eventually found our car…the only one left in the parking lot!

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for sending us Your only begotten son to be our light not only that night at the Grand Canyon but throughout our lives. May we follow Your only son all the days of our lives and not walk in darkness. We know that You will guide or footsteps as we seek to follow You. Amen.

Contributed by Mary Pinson



Day 40: Palm Sunday, April 14th, 2019

12Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. 13And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, 14that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 15For, At just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. 16He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen.

Is there really such a thing as a good fight? I grew up hearing and seeing many fights, none of which I would consider good. I was in one or two fights myself, but never did I walk away saying, “That was a good fight,” not even when I was boxing.
But think about what Paul is calling Timothy and other disciples to do; there is such a thing as a good fight. If you have trusted God, asked Jesus Christ to be your Savior, and you are truly seeking to follow Christ, then you can expect and should plan for a fight.

Ray Stedman, an evangelical pastor, said it this way, “The good fight of faith recognizes the true nature of the Christian life: it is a battleground, and you will never be given much of a breather. Many people have trouble there. They are always hoping that the battle will end, that the enemy will give up and go home, and they can begin to enjoy life without any troubles.”
There will be haters, non-believers, “quiet” believers, but in the end our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8 NIV). In Ephesians 6:12, 13, 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

The pressure for us to fit in with others may be strong, but Jesus faced death. His very life would be taken for not compromising. We may face some ridicule and scorn from unbelievers, friends or even family, but we can find strength, realizing that Jesus is the example for us to follow in the face of opposition. As we fight the good fight of faith, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Josh 1:9).

Prayer:
Father, wrap me in your armor to fight the good fight of faith for your glory and honor. Amen.

Contributed by Colleen Smith-Fey



Day 39: Saturday, April 13th, 2019

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. “

Chet Frisch was a leader in our church who had the vision of reaching out into the community and bringing God’s love to all he served. He began the Feeding our Neighbors program at our church in downtown Killeen. He wanted to reach out and bring the love of Christ to all around him. When we moved our church to this new location, he looked down from our new church on the hilltop, to a piece of land considered worthless. It was in the flood plain. Chet Frisch had a vision. Once again, he said, “Here I am, Lord.” Could we turn this worthless land into an outreach to continue to show the community Christ’s love? “Who will help me build this village?” he asked. “I will,” said Gary. “I will,” said Paul. “I will,” said Marvin. The village began. The village grew. Challenges, in the form of illness, loss, floods and time came. Chet Frisch’s vision persevered. “Who will help continue the village?” “I will,” said Mike. “I will,” said Sonny. “I will,” said Ken. The village continued to grow. Crosses were added to the hilltop. A prayer trail was built. Bridges connecting both sides of the park were constructed. Young men like Patrick, Nathan, and Brandon learned from the men working in the park. Chet’s vision of serving the community and bringing all to Christ continues with the work he began.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, Thank You for men like Chet Frisch who have the vision to serve. Thank You for men and women who continue Chet’s vision by extending the word of Christ to all they meet. Thank You for reminding us that we can all serve our Lord in some way. Help us to find the ways You want us to serve and help us extend Christ’s love to all around us! In Your Service, Amen.

Contributed by Jerry Dugger



Day 38: Friday, April 12th, 2019

Such great power exists in reflecting on the Passion of Jesus Christ and realizing thathe experienc ed real pain, real despair, and true human emotions. Our God has such profound love for us that He would seek to walk among us and take part in the full
human experience. Our God knows our pain. Our God is not one who rests in a fara-way place unconnected to His creation. He is the one born in a manger and then crucified by those He would seek to save. He is then and now Emmanuel: God with us!
Take some time for personal reflection and ponder this question:
When I face trials in this life, am I truly aware of a God who loves me and understands what I am going through?


Day 37: Thursday, April 11th, 2019

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…..”

Last June I traveled with my daughter-in-law and two granddaughters to England, Scotland, and Wales. This was their first trip abroad. Having been there several times, I had the pleasure of seeing the sites again through the eyes of “my girls.”
Near the end of our tour I asked them to choose one thing about the trip that they enjoyed the most. Immediately Amber, a Texas A&M meteorology student, said “Stonehenge.” Lisa, a Salado eighth grader, said “shopping.” Becky, their mother, thought for a moment and then said, “Everything is so old and so beautiful.” She explained that seeing the castles and thatched roofs in the countryside as well as sites such as Westminster, Buckingham Palace, and Edinburgh Castle “opened her mind’s eye” to the literature and history of Great Britain she has always loved.

As we watch, listen, and learn for ourselves, the wonders of our world open up to us with new and exciting meaning. We can use these same tools to give our journey of faith a new and much deeper meaning. Through observing our fellow Christians in their walks with Jesus and their service to others while engaging in our own daily search for God’s Word, we can grow in faith, knowing that all the while our Heavenly Father is with us to guide and protect us. The “light” of Christ is ever present no matter how bumpy the path may be.

At Easter and always, we remember one of our favorite Bible verses. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…..” By dying for us on the cross, Jesus gave to each of us the promise of eternal life if only we choose to follow Him.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, Give us the strength and courage to choose the path you have chosen for us that we may spend eternity in Heaven with You, in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Contributed by Alice Schlessiger