What Kind of Dog for Easter?

We don’t understand a world of suicide bombers and casual murders. Why does God allow it? For the same reason a dog owner gets to choose between a collie and a dachshund, or a Great Dane and a Scottie. God gives us freedom of choice. Murder is a matter of heart. God gives every individual the freedom to choose between good and evil.

It’s easy to rail against God when tragedies stalk our world. It’s easy to shake a fist at God over unanswered prayers; when someone we prayed for remains unhealed, when someone we love dies, when a fierce storm ruins our homes and possessions. It’s natural to blame God when He allows something bad to enter our lives. And, yet…if God intervened to the point of taking away our freedom of choice, how would we feel when we selected a golden retriever from the pet shelter and the manager said, “No, God put you down for a beagle.”

Jesus had unanswered prayers. On the night before He died, Jesus prayed three times and asked God, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me, nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done.”

Jesus didn’t want to suffer. He didn’t want to be tortured. He didn’t want to hang on the cross. He didn’t want to die. But His prayer to be spared agony went unanswered because His death on the cross for our sins was the only way the gates of Heaven could be opened wide enough for all of us to enter. Even after allowing His Son to die on the cross for our sins, God did not strip our freedom of choice. We can still get that golden retriever….or walk with evil as a companion and allow cruelty and murder to control our hearts.

When Jesus died on Good Friday it seemed like an unbearable sorrow and tragedy to His followers. The One who had opened blind eyes, healed the lame, cast out demons, turned water into wine, raised the dead, calmed the storm, and walked on water had died just like other people.

Easter Sunday proved what Jesus’ disciples did not know at the time: “All things work together to good to those who love the Lord.” (Romans 8:28) Jesus rose from the dead! Because He lives, we can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because He lives, we can follow Him to Heaven where there is no illness, death, sorrow, tears, or parting. Alive forever in new bodies singing praises because of Jesus’ power to transform the worst day in world history into the best.

Because Jesus lives, I can live forever. The choice is up to me. I’m going for the Man Who paints the seasons with brilliance and draws human hearts toward good. I’m going with God.

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“Smite Them, LORD!”

It’s been a “Smite them, LORD!” kind of week.

I think the Lord is testing me on my most recent book, “Killer Conversations,” which is real, edgy, gritty, and addresses topics that can’t be turned into something sparkling and palatable like Jell-O. How can child abuse, child sexual abuse, rape and a serial killer be turned into comfort food? Nevertheless, Killer Conversations indisputably contains a strong Christian message…of not judging others.

The world celebrates Good Friday today. Jesus, who had never done anything wrong, was falsely accused. Jesus was whipped until His back was raw; had a crown of thorns pounded into His head; had His beard plucked out, and was spit upon, mocked and ridiculed. He was subjected to a bogus trial, found guilty, and nailed to a cross where He suffered horrendous agony before He died. Through it all, Jesus never fought back, never turned angry words against His tormenters. As He hung on the cross, Jesus said, “Forgive them, Father. They know not what they do.”

Wow!

So after departing from my usual bouncy, fun, entertaining Miz Mike mystery-romance-suspense books (Bridge to Nowhere & Bridge Beyond Betrayal) to pen a book like “Killer Conversations,” it would seem that God decided to test me and see if I really believed and was willing to live the premise of the book: “There but for the grace of God go I.” Instead of saying that this week, I have wanted to say, “Smite them, Lord! They’ve been mean!”

We all face human-spun ugliness at times in our lives that make us lust for revenge. When that happens, we need to remember Jesus, our example. He could have called legions of angels to war against His enemies and save Him from death on the cross. Instead, He bowed down His head and died that our sins might be forgiven and we might live forever.

So my Good Friday message to myself is: “Forgive them, Lord. They know not what they do.”

Message to self: no more departure books like Killer Conversations. Go back to funny Miz Mike. Laughter is good for the soul. Besides; the testing is a lot easier!

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