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Re: [FavoriteStories] The Empty Cross - The Vacant Tomb

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  • Pande532@aol.com
    Thank you for these. They are so beautiful. I sent them on instead of fn Easter card, as these are much better than any card could be. God bless you and
    Message 1 of 9 , Apr 11, 2006
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      Thank you for these.  They are so beautiful.  I sent them on instead of fn Easter card, as these are much better than any card could be.  God bless you and yours.
    • Stephen J. Hall
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTES FROM THE VALLEY April 1, 2007 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil
      Message 2 of 9 , Apr 2, 2007
      • 0 Attachment
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        NOTES FROM THE VALLEY
        April 1, 2007

        "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
        I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        Today is Palm Sunday, marking the beginning of Easter Week and our
        remembrances of the all that Jesus did for us in Jerusalem so long
        ago. When I was growing up, Easter was chocolate bunny rabbits,
        Easter egg hunts, dressing up for church and a big meal featuring one
        of my favorite food combinations ever - baked ham and cheddar cheese
        au gratin potatoes. Even now, my mouth waters at the thought of that
        meal. And there were the bright colors of springtime, green grass to
        roll in, butterflies and fireflies to catch, the bright sun above and
        a much needed vacation from school. Life just couldn't get any
        better.

        From what little I can remember, the sermons on those Easter Sundays
        were pretty much filled with the same sunshine and spirit of joyous
        celebration. For whatever reason, our church just seemed to focus on
        the positives of that day. I can't remember hearing much about the
        details of the cross or the three days in the grave preceding that
        glorious Easter morning. That's pretty much where my focus stayed
        through childhood until my Dad was killed by a drunk driver and my
        Mom died of a broken heart from losing him. My bright, sunshine
        filled, sugar coated faith wasn't equipped to deal with the pain of
        losing Mom and Dad so suddenly and so senselessly. So I got mad.
        Real mad. Yelling at the stars, "don't talk to me about a God that
        could do something this cruel" kind of mad. And I turned my back on
        Him, the church, and my faith. Thank God, He didn't turn His back on
        me. He just waited until I messed my life up so bad that I had no
        place else to turn but back to Him. And when I did, He was right
        there waiting for me. And finally made that turn thanks to a loving
        friend named Richard.

        Richard was one of the kindest, gentlest men I've ever known. He had
        the misfortune of being assigned to my staff at the Navy's computer
        support activity outside Virginia Beach. Ignoring my rank and the
        risk to his career if he incurred my anger, Richard stood up to
        my "Christian bashing" and didn't pull any punches with me when it
        came to God. He showed me with almost brutal clarity just how much
        Jesus suffered for my salvation. And then asked me how a God that
        loved me so much He could ask His Son to do that for me - could ever
        do the kind of things I'd accused Him of doing against me? Deep in
        my heart I knew he couldn't.

        With Richard's encouragement, that Easter, I went to a passion play
        that depicted the full Easter story. I will never forget that
        night. The words written in the Gospels came to life before me. My
        Savior, the Word that became flesh, suffered the cruelest pain that
        men could inflict upon that flesh. The scourging and humiliation
        brought tears to my eyes. The injustices infuriated me. By the time
        the hammer was raised to drive the first spike into my Savior's hand,
        I felt like screaming, "Nooooo!" And for the first time, I KNEW deep
        in my spirit that what was being done to Him was meant for me. No
        longer just head knowledge of what He'd done, but heart knowledge.
        Those were my spikes. That was my cross. The pain and agony He was
        suffering belonged to me. Each ringing blow of the hammer pounded
        that message into my heart, over and over again. I knew that it was
        my sin that put Him on that cross. How much love must there have
        been to keep Him there for me. How I loved Him for it.

        As horrible as the cross was, that was only part of the price Jesus
        paid. The Narrator continued. The suffering of the cross was the
        physical price paid for my sin. But there was a spiritual price to
        be paid as well. Death and the grave. Three days separated from the
        Father. Three seemingly endless days. Each second holding a
        lifetime of agony. No wonder He begged the Father to find another
        way. No wonder His torment in the Garden as He contemplated what was
        to come that day. What a wonder - His complete obedience to the
        Father. What a wonder - His Father's immeasurable grace toward
        someone as undeserving as me.

        This Easter, children will romp, eggs will be found, and families
        will gather to share special, lovingly prepared meals. Joyous
        messages of celebration will be preached. And I don't, for one
        minute, suggest that any of that is wrong. I treasure those memories
        with special affection. Simpler, happier times I will never forget.
        But let us take a moment this Easter to stop and quietly, prayerfully
        reflect on the cross and the grave as well. Let the magnitude of the
        sacrifice made, the enormity of the debt that was paid, enrich our
        celebration and give deeper meaning to our worship - to our faith.
        Maybe this weekend there is someone you know who needs to see the
        movie "The Passion of Christ." Maybe you can be the Richard that
        shares it with them. As Christians, we are Children of the Most High
        God and joint heirs with Jesus. For us, the cross will be forever
        empty and the tomb unoccupied. It's part of our inheritance. It's
        the message we are called to share with a lost and hurting world this
        Easter.

        I remain as always sheltered under His wing and overwhelmed by His
        love,
        Steve


        THE EGG
        (Harry Pritchett, Jr., The St. Luke's Journal of Theology)

        Jeremy was born with a twisted body and a slow mind. At the age of 12
        he was still in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His
        teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would
        squirm in his seat, drool, and make grunting noises. At other times,
        he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated
        the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy just
        irritated his teacher.

        One day she called his parents and asked them to come in for a
        consultation. As the Forresters entered the empty classroom, Doris
        said to them, "Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn't
        fair to him to be with younger children who don't have learning
        problems. Why, there is a five year gap between his age and that of
        the other students." Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue,
        while her husband spoke. "Miss Miller," he said, "there is no school
        of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we
        had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here."

        Doris sat for a long time after they had left, staring at the snow
        outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She
        wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child
        had a terminal illness. But it wasn't fair to keep him in her class.
        She had 18 other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy was a distraction.
        Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write. Why waste any
        more time trying?

        As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. Here I am
        complaining when my problems are nothing compared to that poor
        family, she thought. Lord, please help me to be more patient with
        Jeremy. From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy's noises
        and his blank stares. Then one day, he limped to her desk, dragging
        his bad leg behind him. "I love you, Miss Miller," he exclaimed, loud
        enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and
        Doris' face turned red.

        She stammered, "Wh-why that's very nice, Jeremy. N-now, please take
        your seat."

        Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of
        Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the
        idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a
        large plastic egg. "Now," she said to them, "I want you to take this
        home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new
        life. Do you understand?"

        "Yes, Miss Miller," the children responded enthusiastically, all
        except for Jeremy. He listened intently; his eyes never left her
        face. He did not even make his usual noises. Had he understood what
        she had said about Jesus' death and resurrection? Did he understand
        the assignment? Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the
        project to them. That evening, Doris' kitchen sink stopped up. She
        called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog
        it. After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse,
        and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot
        about phoning Jeremy's parents.

        The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as
        they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller's
        desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open
        the eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. "Oh yes life," she
        said. "When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is
        here." A small girl in the first row waved her arm. "That's my egg,
        Miss Miller," she called out.

        The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real.
        Doris held it up. "We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows
        into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that's new life, too." Little Judy
        smiled proudly and said, "Miss Miller, that one is mine."

        Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss,
        too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom, "My
        daddy helped me," he beamed.

        Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty.
        Surely it must be Jeremy's she thought, and of course, he did not
        understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone
        his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly
        set the egg aside and reached for another. Suddenly, Jeremy spoke
        up. "Miss Miller, aren't you going to talk about my egg?"

        Flustered, Doris replied, "But Jeremy, your egg is empty."

        He looked into her eyes and said softly, "Yes, because Jesus' tomb is
        empty, too."

        Time stopped. When she could speak again, Doris asked him, "Do you
        know why the tomb was empty?"

        "Oh, yes," Jeremy said, "Jesus was killed and put in there. Then His
        Father raised Him up."

        The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the
        school yard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.

        Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the
        mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of
        them empty.

        He is truly "ALIVE!"



        THE MESSAGE OF EASTER
        (Author - Paul Hovey)

        The simplest meaning of Easter is that we are living in a world in
        which God has the last word. On Friday night it appeared as if evil
        were the master of life. The holiest and most lovable One who had
        ever lived was dead and in His tomb, crucified by the order of a
        tyrant without either scruples or regrets. He who had raised the
        highest hopes among men had died by the most shameful means. A cross,
        three nails, a jeering mob of debauched souls, and a quick thrust of
        a spear had ended it all.

        Those hours when His voice was stilled and His hands were quiet were
        the blackest through which the human race has ever lived. If Caesar
        could put an end to Jesus, then no man could ever dare aspire or hope
        again. Hope, in such a world, could be nothing better than a
        mockery.

        Then came Easter morning and the glorious word: "He is risen!" And
        evil's triumph was at an end. Since that hour when Mary in the garden
        first discovered the staggering fact of victory, no man whose heart
        was pure and whose labors were honest has ever had reason to fear or
        despair if he believed in the Resurrection.

        ______________________________________________________________________
        __________________

        Copyright © 1998 - 2007 by Stephen J. Hall - Notes from the Valley
        and Humor from the Valley are meant to brighten your day and
        encourage you along the way. If you are blessed by them, please feel
        free to make copies and pass them along to others. If you have
        something you'd like to contribute to a future edition or would like
        to ask us a question or make a comment, please contact us at:
        steveh.rbis@...
        ______________________________________________________________
        __________________________

        Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling
        everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of
        your love . . . (Psalm 89:1-2 The Message)
      • Stephen J. Hall
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTES FROM THE VALLEY March 23, 2008 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil
        Message 3 of 9 , Mar 23, 2008
        • 0 Attachment
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          NOTES FROM THE VALLEY
          March 23, 2008

          "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
          I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          The Empty Cross - The Vacant Tomb

          When I was growing up, Easter was chocolate bunny rabbits, Easter egg
          hunts, dressing up for church and a big meal featuring one of my
          favorite food combinations ever - baked ham and cheddar cheese au
          gratin potatoes. Even now, my mouth waters at the thought of that
          meal. And there were the bright colors of springtime, green grass to
          roll in, butterflies and fireflies to catch, the bright sun above and
          a much needed vacation from school. Life just couldn't get any
          better.

          From what little I can remember, the sermons on those Easter Sundays
          were pretty much filled with the same sunshine and spirit of joyous
          celebration. For whatever reason, our church just seemed to focus on
          the positives of that day. I can't remember hearing much about the
          details of the cross or the three days in the grave preceding that
          glorious Easter morning. That's pretty much where my focus stayed
          through childhood until my Dad was killed in a traffic accident and
          my Mom died of a broken heart from losing him. My bright, sunshine
          filled, sugar coated faith wasn't equipped to deal with the pain of
          losing Mom and Dad so suddenly and so senselessly. So I got mad.
          Real mad. Yelling at the stars, "don't talk to me about a God that
          could do something this cruel" kind of mad. And I turned my back on
          Him, the church, and my faith. Thank God, He didn't turn His back on
          me. He just followed right after me until I messed my life up so bad
          that I was ready to turn back to Him again. And finally I did,
          thanks to a loving friend named Richard Hastings.

          Richard was one of the kindest, gentlest men I've ever known. But he
          didn't pull any punches with me when it came to God. He took the
          sugar coating off my faith and showed me with almost brutal clarity
          how foolish I had been. He showed me just how much my Savior and
          Lord suffered for my salvation. And then asked me how a God that
          loved me that much could ever do the kind of things I'd accused Him
          of doing? Deep in my heart I knew he couldn't, With Richard's
          encouragement, that Easter, I went to a passion play that depicted
          the full Easter story. I will never forget that night. The words
          written in the Gospels came to life before me. My Savior, the Word
          that became flesh, suffered the cruelest pain that men could inflict
          upon that flesh. The scourging and humiliation brought tears to my
          eyes. The injustices infuriated me. By the time the hammer was
          raised to drive the first spike into my Savior's hand, I felt like
          screaming, "Nooooo! And for the first time, I KNEW deep in my spirit
          that what was being done to Him was meant for me. No longer just
          head knowledge of what He'd done, but heart knowledge. Those were my
          spikes. That was my cross. The pain and agony He was suffering
          belonged to me. Each ringing blow of the hammer pounded that message
          into my heart, over and over again. I knew that it was my sin that
          put Him on that cross. How much love must there have been to keep
          Him there for me. How I loved Him for it.

          As horrible as the cross was, that was only part of the price my
          Savior paid. The Narrator continued. The suffering of the cross was
          the physical price paid for my sin. But there was a spiritual price
          to be paid as well. Death and the grave. Three days separated from
          the Father. Three seemingly endless days. Each second holding a
          lifetime of agony. No wonder He begged the Father to find another
          way. No wonder His torment in the Garden as He contemplated what was
          to come that day. What a wonder - His complete obedience to the
          Father. What a wonder - His Father's immeasurable grace towards us.

          This Easter, children will romp, eggs will be found, and families
          will gather to share special, lovingly prepared meals. Joyous
          messages of celebration will be preached. And I don't, for one
          minute, suggest that any of that is wrong. I treasure those memories
          with special affection. Simpler, happier times I will never forget.
          But let us take a moment this Easter to stop and quietly, prayerfully
          reflect on the cross and the grave as well. Let the magnitude of the
          sacrifice made, the enormity of the debt that was paid, enrich our
          celebration and give deeper meaning to our worship - to our faith.
          Maybe this weekend there is someone you know who needs to hear the
          full Easter story. Maybe you can be the Richard that shares it with
          them. As Christians, we are Children of the Most High God and joint
          heirs with Jesus. For us, the cross will be forever empty and the
          tomb unoccupied. It's part of our inheritance. It's the message we
          are called to share with a lost and hurting world this Easter.

          I remain as always sheltered under His wing and overwhelmed by His
          love,
          Steve



          THE EGG
          (Harry Pritchett, Jr., The St. Luke's Journal of Theology)

          Jeremy was born with a twisted body and a slow mind. At the age of 12
          he was still in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His
          teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would
          squirm in his seat, drool, and make grunting noises. At other times,
          he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated
          the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy just
          irritated his teacher.

          One day she called his parents and asked them to come in for a
          consultation. As the Forresters entered the empty classroom, Doris
          said to them, "Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn't
          fair to him to be with younger children who don't have learning
          problems. Why, there is a five year gap between his age and that of
          the other students."

          Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue, while her husband
          spoke. "Miss Miller," he said, "there is no school of that kind
          nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him
          out of this school. We know he really likes it here."

          Doris sat for a long time after they had left, staring at the snow
          outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She
          wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child
          had a terminal illness. But it wasn't fair to keep him in her class.
          She had 18 other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy was a distraction.
          Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write. Why waste any
          more time trying?

          As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. Here I am
          complaining when my problems are nothing compared to that poor
          family, she thought. Lord, please help me to be more patient with
          Jeremy. From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy's noises
          and his blank stares. Then one day, he limped to her desk, dragging
          his bad leg behind him. "I love you, Miss Miller," he exclaimed, loud
          enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and
          Doris' face turned red.

          She stammered, "Wh-why that's very nice, Jeremy. N-now, please take
          your seat."

          Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of
          Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the
          idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a
          large plastic egg. "Now," she said to them, "I want you to take this
          home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new
          life. Do you understand?"

          "Yes, Miss Miller," the children responded enthusiastically, all
          except for Jeremy. He listened intently; his eyes never left her
          face. He did not even make his usual noises. Had he understood what
          she had said about Jesus' death and resurrection? Did he understand
          the assignment? Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the
          project to them. That evening, Doris' kitchen sink stopped up. She
          called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog
          it. After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse,
          and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot
          about phoning Jeremy's parents.

          The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as
          they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller's
          desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open
          the eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. "Oh yes life," she
          said. "When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is
          here." A small girl in the first row waved her arm. "That's my egg,
          Miss Miller," she called out.

          The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real.
          Doris held it up. "We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows
          into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that's new life, too." Little Judy
          smiled proudly and said, "Miss Miller, that one is mine."

          Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss,
          too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom, "My
          daddy helped me," he beamed.

          Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty.
          Surely it must be Jeremy's she thought, and of course, he did not
          understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone
          his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly
          set the egg aside and reached for another. Suddenly, Jeremy spoke
          up. "Miss Miller, aren't you going to talk about my egg?"

          Flustered, Doris replied, "But Jeremy, your egg is empty."

          He looked into her eyes and said softly, "Yes, because Jesus' tomb is
          empty, too."

          Time stopped. When she could speak again, Doris asked him, "Do you
          know why the tomb was empty?"

          "Oh, yes," Jeremy said, "Jesus was killed and put in there. Then His
          Father raised Him up."

          The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the
          school yard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.

          Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the
          mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of
          them empty.

          He is truly "ALIVE!"


          ________________________________________________________________

          Copyright © 1998 - 2008 by Stephen J. Hall - Notes from the Valley
          and Humor from the Valley are meant to brighten your day and
          encourage you along the way. If you are blessed by them, please feel
          free to make copies and pass them along to others. If you have
          something you'd like to contribute to a future edition or would like
          to ask us a question or make a comment, please contact us at:
          sossteve@...
          _________________________________________________________________


          "Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling
          everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of
          your love . . ."
          (Psalm 89:1-2 The Message)
        • Stephen J. Hall
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTES FROM THE VALLEY April 7, 2009 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil
          Message 4 of 9 , Apr 7, 2009
          • 0 Attachment
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            NOTES FROM THE VALLEY
            April 7, 2009

            "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
            I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.

            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


            THE EMPTY CROSS - THE VACANT TOMB


            Last Sunday was Palm Sunday, marking the beginning of Easter Week and our remembrances of the all that Jesus did for us in Jerusalem so long ago. As has become our tradition, Cathy and I will be traveling to San Diego in the RV to spend Easter with two of our grandchildren (and their parents too, of course). So I'm posting this Easter edition of Notes early.

            When I was growing up, Easter was chocolate bunny rabbits, Easter egg hunts, dressing up for church and a big meal featuring one of my favorite food combinations ever - baked ham and cheddar cheese au gratin potatoes. Even now, my mouth waters at the thought of that meal. And there were the bright colors of springtime, green grass to roll in, butterflies and fireflies to catch, the bright sun above and a much needed vacation from school. Life just couldn't get any better.

            From what little I can remember, the sermons on those Easter Sundays were pretty much filled with the same sunshine and spirit of joyous celebration. For whatever reason, our church just seemed to focus on the positives of that day. I can't remember hearing much about the details of the cross or the three days in the grave preceding that glorious Easter morning. That's pretty much where my focus stayed through childhood until my Dad was killed in a traffic accident with a drunk driver and my Mom died of a broken heart from losing him. My bright, sunshine filled, sugar coated faith wasn't equipped to deal with the pain of losing Mom and Dad so suddenly and so senselessly. So I got mad. Real mad. Yelling at the stars, "don't talk to me about a God that could do something this cruel" kind of mad. And I turned my back on Him, the church, and my faith. Thank God, He didn't turn His back on me. He just followed right after me until I messed my life up so bad that I was ready to turn back to Him again. And finally I did, thanks to a loving friend named Richard.

            Richard was one of the kindest, gentlest men I've ever known. But he didn't pull any punches with me when it came to God. He took the sugar coating off my faith and showed me with almost brutal clarity how foolish I had been. He showed me just how much my Savior and Lord suffered for my salvation. And then asked me how a God that loved me that much could ever do the kind of things I'd accused Him of doing? Deep in my heart I knew He couldn't, With Richard's encouragement, that Easter, I went to a passion play that depicted the full Easter story. I will never forget that night. The words written in the Gospels came to life before me. My Savior, the Word that became flesh, suffered the cruelest pain that men could inflict upon that flesh. The scourging and humiliation brought tears to my eyes. The injustices infuriated me. By the time the hammer was raised to drive the first spike into my Savior's hand, I felt like screaming, "Nooooo!" And for the first time, I KNEW deep in my spirit that what was being done to Him was meant for me. No longer just head knowledge of what He'd done, but heart knowledge. Those were my spikes. That was my cross. The pain and agony He was suffering belonged to me. Each ringing blow of the hammer pounded that message into my heart. I knew that it was my sin that put Him on that cross. How much love must there have been to keep Him there for me. How I loved Him for it.

            As horrible as the cross was, that was only part of the price my Savior paid. The Narrator continued. The suffering of the cross was the physical price paid for my sin. But there was a spiritual price to be paid as well. Death and the grave. Three days separated from the Father. Three seemingly endless days. Each second holding a lifetime of agony. No wonder He begged the Father to find another way. No wonder His torment in the Garden as He contemplated what was to come that day. What a wonder - His complete obedience to the Father. What a wonder - His Father's immeasurable grace towards us.

            This Easter, children will romp, eggs will be found, and families will gather to share special, lovingly prepared meals. Joyous messages of celebration will be preached. And I don't, for one minute, suggest that any of that is wrong. I treasure those memories with special affection. Simpler, happier times I will never forget. But let us take a moment this Easter to stop and quietly, prayerfully reflect on the cross and the grave as well. Let the magnitude of the sacrifice made, the enormity of the debt that was paid, enrich our celebration and give deeper meaning to our worship - to our faith. Maybe this weekend there is someone you know who needs to hear the full Gospel story. Maybe you can be the Richard that shares it with them. As Christians, we are Children of the Most High God and joint heirs with Jesus. For us, the cross will be forever empty and the tomb eternally unoccupied. It's part of our inheritance. It's the message we are called to share with a lost and hurting world this Easter.

            I remain as always sheltered under His wing and overwhelmed by His love,
            Steve


            JEREMY'S EGG
            (Harry Pritchett, Jr., The St. Luke's Journal of Theology)

            Jeremy was born with a twisted body and a slow mind. At the age of 12 he was still in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool, and make grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy just irritated his teacher.

            One day she called his parents and asked them to come in for a consultation. As the Forresters entered the empty classroom, Doris said to them, "Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn't fair to him to be with younger children who don't have learning problems. Why, there is a five year gap between his age and that of the other students." Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke. "Miss Miller," he said, "there is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here."

            Doris sat for a long time after they had left, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness. But it wasn't fair to keep him in her class. She had 18 other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write. Why waste any more time trying?

            As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. Here I am complaining when my problems are nothing compared to that poor family, she thought. Lord, please help me to be more patient with Jeremy. From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy's noises and his blank stares. Then one day, he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. "I love you, Miss Miller," he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and Doris' face turned red.

            She stammered, "Wh-why that's very nice, Jeremy. N-now, please take your seat."

            Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. "Now," she said to them, "I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?"

            "Yes, Miss Miller," the children responded enthusiastically, all except for Jeremy. He listened intently; his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. Had he understood what she had said about Jesus' death and resurrection? Did he understand the assignment? Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them. That evening, Doris' kitchen sink stopped up. She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it. After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse, and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy's parents.

            The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller's desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. "Oh yes life," she said. "When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here." A small girl in the first row waved her arm. "That's my egg, Miss Miller," she called out.

            The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. "We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that's new life, too." Little Judy smiled proudly and said, "Miss Miller, that one is mine."

            Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom, "My daddy helped me," he beamed.

            Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty. Surely it must be Jeremy's she thought, and of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another. Suddenly, Jeremy spoke up. "Miss Miller, aren't you going to talk about my egg?"

            Flustered, Doris replied, "But Jeremy, your egg is empty."

            He looked into her eyes and said softly, "Yes, because Jesus' tomb is empty, too."

            Time stopped. When she could speak again, Doris asked him, "Do you know why the tomb was empty?"

            "Oh, yes," Jeremy said, "Jesus was killed and put in there. Then His Father raised Him up."

            The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the school yard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.

            Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of them empty.

            He is truly "ALIVE!"



            THE MESSAGE OF EASTER
            (Author - Paul Hovey)

            The simplest meaning of Easter is that we are living in a world in which God has the last word. On Friday night it appeared as if evil were the master of life. The holiest and most lovable One who had ever lived was dead and in His tomb, crucified by the order of a tyrant without either scruples or regrets. He who had raised the highest hopes among men had died by the most shameful means. A cross, three nails, a jeering mob of debauched souls, and a quick thrust of a spear had ended it all.

            Those hours when His voice was stilled and His hands were quiet were the blackest through which the human race has ever lived. If Caesar could put an end to Jesus, then no man could ever dare aspire or hope again. Hope, in such a world, could be nothing better than a mockery.

            Then came Easter morning and the glorious word: "He is risen!" And evil's triumph was at an end. Since that hour when Mary in the garden first discovered the staggering fact of victory, no man whose heart was pure and whose labors were honest has ever had reason to fear or despair if he believed in the Resurrection.

            __________________________________________________

            Copyright © 1998 - 2009 by Stephen J. Hall - Notes from the Valley and Humor from the Valley are meant to brighten your day and encourage you along the way. If you are blessed by them, please feel free to make copies and pass them along to others. If you have something you'd like to contribute to a future edition, would like to ask a question or make a comment, please contact us at: steveh.rbis@...
            __________________________________________________

            Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of your love . . . (Psalm 89:1-2 The Message)
          • sossteve2005
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTES FROM THE VALLEY April 4, 2010 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil
            Message 5 of 9 , Apr 2, 2010
            • 0 Attachment
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              NOTES FROM THE VALLEY
              April 4, 2010

              "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
              I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

              THE EMPTY CROSS - THE VACANT TOMB

              Last Sunday was Palm Sunday, marking the beginning of Easter Week and our remembrances of the all that Jesus did for us in Jerusalem so long ago.

              When I was growing up, Easter was chocolate bunny rabbits, Easter egg hunts, dressing up for church and a big meal featuring one of my favorite food combinations ever - baked ham and cheddar cheese au gratin potatoes. Even now, my mouth waters at the thought of that meal. And there were the bright colors of springtime, green grass to roll in, butterflies and fireflies to catch, the bright sun above and a much needed vacation from school. Life just couldn't get any better.

              From what little I can remember, the sermons on those Easter Sundays were pretty much filled with the same sunshine and spirit of joyous celebration. For whatever reason, our church just seemed to focus on the positives of that day. I can't remember hearing much about the details of the cross or the three days in the grave preceding that glorious Easter morning. That's pretty much where my focus stayed through childhood until my Dad was killed in a traffic accident with a drunk driver and my Mom died of a broken heart from losing him a few years later. My bright, sunshine filled, sugar coated faith wasn't equipped to deal with the pain of losing Mom and Dad so suddenly and so senselessly. So I got mad. Real mad. Yelling at the stars, "don't talk to me about a God that could do something this cruel" kind of mad. And I turned my back on Him, the church, and my faith. Thank God, He didn't turn His back on me. He just followed right after me until I messed my life up so bad that I was ready to turn back to Him again. And finally I did, thanks to a loving friend named Richard.

              Richard was one of the kindest, gentlest men I've ever known. But he didn't pull any punches with me when it came to God. He took the sugar coating off my faith and showed me with almost brutal clarity how foolish I had been. He showed me just how much my Savior and Lord suffered for my salvation. And then asked me how a God that loved me that much could ever do the kind of things I'd accused Him of doing? Deep in my heart I knew He couldn't, With Richard's encouragement, that Easter, I went to a passion play that depicted the full Easter story. I will never forget that night. The words written in the Gospels came to life before me. My Savior, the Word that became flesh, suffered the cruelest pain that men could inflict upon that flesh. The scourging and humiliation brought tears to my eyes. The injustices infuriated me. By the time the hammer was raised to drive the first spike into my Savior's hand, I felt like screaming, "Nooooo!"

              And for the first time, I KNEW deep in my own spirit that what was being done to Him was meant for me. No longer just head knowledge of what He'd done, but heart knowledge as well. Those were my spikes. That was my cross. The pain and agony He was suffering belonged to me. Each ringing blow of the hammer pounded that message deep into my heart. I knew that it was my sin that put Him on that cross. How much love must there have been to keep Him there for me. How I loved Him for it.

              As horrible as the cross was, that was only part of the price my Savior paid. The Narrator continued. The suffering of the cross was the physical price paid for my sin. But there was a spiritual price to be paid as well. Death and the grave. Three days separated from the Father. Three seemingly endless days. Each second holding a lifetime of agony. No wonder He begged the Father to find another way. No wonder His torment in the Garden as He contemplated what was to come that day. What a wonder - His complete obedience to the Father. What a wonder - His Father's immeasurable grace towards us.

              This Easter, children will romp, eggs will be found, and families will gather to share special, lovingly prepared meals. Joyous messages of celebration will be preached. And I don't, for one minute, suggest that any of that is wrong. I treasure those memories with special affection. Simpler, happier times I will never forget. But let us take a moment this Easter to stop and quietly, prayerfully reflect on the cross and the grave as well. Let the magnitude of the sacrifice made, the enormity of the debt that was paid, enrich our celebration and give deeper meaning to our worship - to our faith. Maybe this weekend there is someone you know who needs to hear the full Gospel story. Maybe you can be the Richard that shares it with them. As Christians, we are Children of the Most High God and joint heirs with Jesus. For us, the cross will be forever empty and the tomb eternally unoccupied. It's part of our inheritance. It's the message we're called to share with a lost and hurting world.

              I remain as always sheltered under His wing and overwhelmed by His love,
              Steve



              The Egg
              (Harry Pritchett, Jr., The St. Luke's Journal of Theology)

              Jeremy was born with a twisted body and a slow mind. At the age of 12 he was still in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool, and make grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy just irritated his teacher.

              One day she called his parents and asked them to come in for a consultation. As the Forresters entered the empty classroom, Doris said to them, "Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn't fair to him to be with younger children who don't have learning problems. Why, there is a five year gap between his age and that of the other students." Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke. "Miss Miller," he said, "there is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here."

              Doris sat for a long time after they had left, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness. But it wasn't fair to keep him in her class. She had 18 other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write. Why waste any more time trying?

              As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. Here I am complaining when my problems are nothing compared to that poor family, she thought. Lord, please help me to be more patient with Jeremy. From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy's noises and his blank stares. Then one day, he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. "I love you, Miss Miller," he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and Doris' face turned red.

              She stammered, "Wh-why that's very nice, Jeremy. N-now, please take your seat."

              Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. "Now," she said to them, "I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?"

              "Yes, Miss Miller," the children responded enthusiastically, all except for Jeremy. He listened intently; his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. Had he understood what she had said about Jesus' death and resurrection? Did he understand the assignment? Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them. That evening, Doris' kitchen sink stopped up. She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it. After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse, and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy's parents.

              The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller's desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. "Oh yes life," she said. "When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here." A small girl in the first row waved her arm. "That's my egg, Miss Miller," she called out.

              The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. "We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that's new life, too." Little Judy smiled proudly and said, "Miss Miller, that one is mine."

              Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom, "My daddy helped me," he beamed.

              Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty. Surely it must be Jeremy's she thought, and of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another. Suddenly, Jeremy spoke up. "Miss Miller, aren't you going to talk about my egg?"

              Flustered, Doris replied, "But Jeremy, your egg is empty."

              He looked into her eyes and said softly, "Yes, because Jesus' tomb is empty, too."

              Time stopped. When she could speak again, Doris asked him, "Do you know why the tomb was empty?"

              "Oh, yes," Jeremy said, "Jesus was killed and put in there. Then His Father raised Him up."

              The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the school yard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.

              Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of them empty.

              He is truly "ALIVE!"



              The Message of Easter
              (Author - Paul Hovey)

              The simplest meaning of Easter is that we are living in a world in which God has the last word. On Friday night it appeared as if evil were the master of life. The holiest and most lovable One who had ever lived was dead and in His tomb, crucified by the order of a tyrant without either scruples or regrets. He who had raised the highest hopes among men had died by the most shameful means. A cross, three nails, a jeering mob of debauched souls, and a quick thrust of a spear had ended it all.

              Those hours when His voice was stilled and His hands were quiet were the blackest through which the human race has ever lived. If Caesar could put an end to Jesus, then no man could ever dare aspire or hope again. Hope, in such a world, could be nothing better than a mockery.

              Then came Easter morning and the glorious word: "He is risen!" And evil's triumph was at an end. Since that hour when Mary in the garden first discovered the staggering fact of victory, no man whose heart was pure and whose labors were honest has ever had reason to fear or despair if he believed in the Resurrection.

              __________________________________________________________________________________________

              Copyright © 1998 - 2010 by Stephen J. Hall - Notes from the Valley and Humor from the Valley are meant to brighten your day and encourage you along the way. If you are blessed by them, please feel free to make copies and pass them along to others. If you have something you'd like to contribute to a future edition, would like to ask a question or make a comment, please contact us at: steveh.rbis@...
              __________________________________________________________________________________________

              Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of your love . . . (Psalm 89:1-2 The Message)
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