Lorri Dudley

Be moved. Be changed. Love because you are loved.

Category: Easter

Architect, designer, and builder meeting over blueprints

The Rebuild Starts Today

Architect, designer, and builder meeting over blueprints

“The rebuild starts today” is the attitude my husband has taken for his businesses. It may be a bit early, but it changes the mindset to start planning for how we’re going to come out of this pandemic. For two weeks, it feels like we’ve been ostriches sticking our heads in the sand. Perhaps it’s time to raise our heads. It’s never too early to strategize about available options and develop a foundation to rebuild, maybe with a new perspective.

Ostrich

How often before March 15th, when asked, “How are you?” did we respond, “busy”?  The world was running, running, running, and then abruptly stopped. In An Echo in the Darkness part of the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers (one of my favorite series), the mother of the hero has a stroke and can no longer talk. Her life changes overnight. No longer a prominent matriarch of Roman society, God reaches her through this suffering and uses it as an opportunity to redirect her focus to pray for the spiritual salvation of her misguided daughter.

It’s time for us to raise our heads and see the opportunities God is creating for us. Maybe we should acknowledge the new shift in priorities. How are we using the extra family time we didn’t have before the pandemic? Or if living alone and can’t see friends, maybe God is giving us a chance to pray more or read our Bible.

Many of us have been glued to the news channels, following what’s going to happen next, which only tends to be bad news, followed by more bad news. In Philippians 4:8, the Bible tells us to dwell on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Easter changes the direction of focus from death to new life. The stone was rolled away. The tomb lay empty. Jesus rose from the dead. This is our opportunity to also rise from the monotony of our deadened mindsets. We hold a chance to be renewed with life.

three crosses at sunset

Let me back up a bit to Philippians 4:1. Paul reminds us to stand firm in the Lord. Not relax, sit, or lie, but to stand firm. In Philippians 4:2, he begs for unity—to be of the same mind in the Lord—not turning on each other, bickering, or nitpicking, but let your gentleness be evident to all (Philippians 4:5).

In 4:4, Paul tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord always.” But then he makes it a point to repeat himself to drive it home, “I will say it again, rejoice.” At Easter, we have so much for which to be joyful. The world may shake with fright, but we know Jesus has risen from the dead, and the grave no longer has a hold over us.

We have hope because we have a good God. We don’t need to fear because we have a great God.

In Philippians 4:6, it says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” We don’t need to worry. Because God commands it, we can toss anxiety away like that moldy leftover smelling up the fridge. Instead, through prayer and praise, we can tell God what has been on our minds, and in Philippians 4:7 God promises that His peace, “which transcends all understanding,” will guard our hearts and minds.

So, rise and rejoice, Easter is here!

Happy Easter and flowers

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Crocuses blooming

A Change Will Do Us Good

Crocuses blooming

Spring is my favorite time of the year. It holds the promise of warmer weather. Our dead yellow grass springs up in a verdant green. Buds on trees burst into flowery white clouds, and bulbs open their colorful faces to the sun. The cold drabness of winter comes alive and new again.

The same thing happened to me after I started going to church. My husband and I, up until that point, had put our heads down and poured everything into growing a company and savings. Then, 9/11 happened and brought the world to a standstill. That horrific day stirred up questions I hadn’t wanted to face. Is this life all there is? Is there truly evil in this world? Do I serve a purpose?

I’d like to say we started attending church that Sunday, but no. It took me five months of stifling those niggling questions before the aching need, for something I didn’t yet understand, overrode my excuses for why I should stay in bed. My husband and I warily strolled into church. In my mind, I was just going to give it a try.

I left changed.

There wasn’t a bolt of lightning. I didn’t break free from my cocoon and morph into a butterfly during that service. I remember being greeted by a man named Donny who smiled and welcomed us. I recall pausing to look at my husband during worship to see if the live band overwhelmed his instilled Catholic mindset. (He now is the electric guitarist in that band – go figure.) I had laughed and smiled all through the sermon about parenting, and a woman named Laura hugged me on the way out.

Butterfly emerged from cocoon

We drove back to our same home, in the same car, but I wasn’t the same. My heart held hope. I remember feeling lighter, excited. The earth hadn’t fallen off its axis. For everyone else, the day had been a day just like any other, but the dead shell of my old self had cracked open, and a small sprig of the changed me started to grow.

Easter reminds us of Jesus’s love and the ultimate sacrifice made for us, yet we still go about our week normal. Shouldn’t Easter renew the same feelings of hope and excitement? After being reminded about the cross, how are we not left changed?

Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr said, “The more things change, the more things stay the same.” Two thousand plus years after Jesus’s death, the world has changed a great deal, but I beg to differ with Monsieur Karr. We are not the same. Jesus’s resurrection allowed the Holy Spirit to come into the world. It emboldened the disciples and changed hearts. An encounter with the Holy Spirit helps you see others differently and find love where there was none. It prompts you to be moved, be changed, and to love because you are loved. 

Don’t remain unchanged. 

Let the truth about Jesus’s sacrificial love sink into your heart. Steep in the hope it brings and gets excited about the promise of everlasting life with a Lord who’d give everything to have you by His side for all eternity. Realize there is more to life than wake, work, eat, sleep, and repeat. You have a purpose. Become grateful for what God has done for you, in you, and is going to do through you.

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” Romans 1:20 NLT

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Crown of Bavaria

Kings Aren’t for Everyone

Crown of Bavaria

My family rented Aquaman over the weekend. One line in the movie stuck with me and instilled a new perspective on kings. Here’s the dialogue:

Mera: Atlantis has always had a king, now it needs something more.
Aquaman: What could be greater than a king?
Atlanna: A hero. A king fights only for its nation, but you fight for everyone.

Okay, so maybe a king isn’t for everyone?

Atlanna was right. Throughout history, kings have fought mostly to defend or expand their nations. European Kings rose to power due to their ability to conquer and maintain their holdings. After William the Conquer seized power in 1066 A.D., he established a feudal system in England where land was granted to Barons, who in return, offered their fidelity and service to protect the king and his country. After that, it became rare for a king to ride into battle himself. Kings sent their best warriors to fight on their behalf.

Should we hold out for a hero, instead? 

Boy dressed as superhero

We are fascinated with superheroes. Marvel Studios, the maker of the Avengers films and others, has proven our obsession regarding people with superpowers by grossing nearly 11 billion dollars in sales. Little boys dress up in capes and pretend to save the day. They dream about catching the bad guys and fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. 

What if saving the day isn’t enough?

In college, I took a world religions class. I was fascinated by all the similarities and differences between the religions. As the professor taught from a non-biased perspective, part of me wanted to stand up and yell, Don’t you see? In all these other religions, humans desperately work to sacrifice to their god or gods. They seek to earn favor, but Christianity is different. Jesus not only freely offers his love to anyone who’ll believe, but He sacrificed Himself for us, not the other way around.

A hero may save the day, but a Savior saves us for all eternity.

God didn’t send his best warriors out to fight the battle. He came himself. He assumed our fallible human form and laid down his life as a sacrifice. Out of His unfathomable love for us, he allowed himself to be beaten, mocked, and crucified during a time when the most brutal means of torture possible was used to extend the torment. He did this for us knowing our past sins, the filth of our present sins, and willful acts of sin we’d commit in the future. He bore them all and chose to die because He loves us.

Jesus stepped down from his throne, took off his superhero cape, and allowed nails to be driven into his hands.

All hail our Savior! 

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Jesus and Superheroes. Jesus says, "And that's how I saved the world."

Superman Vs. Jesus

Superman was gone. The world was lost without its hero. Crime increased, citizens of the world fumbled around going through their daily routines in a daze, lost, without hope.DC Justice League movie poster

All I could think was: Superman is not the answer.

With three boys, I watch a lot of superhero movies. I’ve always been an action-flick-kind-of-gal, so I enjoy it as much as they do, but as we watched the Justice League, I couldn’t help but think how the band of superheroes may be able to do justice, but the world needs something more. They are desperate for a savior. Superman is supposed to fill this void — give them hope and life – but he doesn’t quite fit the bill.

I know it’s a fictional world, but Superman is like putting a Band-Aid on a knife wound. Superman’s greatest ability is merely strength (and laser vision, oh, and don’t forget mind reading. He gets a couple more points for those). But, he can’t truly save people, not from themselves, not from their sins, and not from death (although he may get another point for temporarily postponing it).

They need a savior. We all do.

At Easter, we get to remember what a true superhuman superhero can do. For fun, and because I like lists, I figured I’d do a compare and contrast:

SUPERMANJESUS CHRIST
Saves the daySaves the world
Lives among humansBecame human
Helps peopleHelped the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the sick heal, and the dead rise again.
Never liedNever sinned
Takes hard hits from the bad guysWas brutally tortured, mocked, and murdered
Puts himself in harm’s wayWillingly sacrificed his life
Fights for truth, justice, and the American way

 

Fights to save us from our sins which lead to death
Saves lives temporarily from deathSaves our souls for all eternity
Is superhumanIs the one and only true God

Jesus was born in a lowly manger part human, part God with a massive weight on his shoulders— to save the world from its sin. The disgusting, ugly sin that kept us apart from our Holy Creator. Religious leaders, disturbed by Jesus’s popularity with the people, did their best to trip him up and catch him sinning. They attacked him with words, and when that didn’t work, they had him arrested, beaten and hung on a cross. Jesus knew exactly the agonizing death he would undergo, but he willingly accepted it because it was the only way he could take our past sins, our present sins, and our future sins upon himself and have them die with him on the cross so that we can be made holy. In the most amazing comeback story ever written, Jesus stole the keys of death from Satan and rose on the third day from the grave. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right-hand of the Father so that all who believe in him shall share in eternal life.

Our lives may seem like we need a superhero, but what we really need is a savior. And, the best part is, he’s already come. All you have to do is pray and ask him into your heart. He will take it from there.

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Jesus and Superheroes. Jesus says, "And that's how I saved the world."

 

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