www.bethvice.com. It will include all my writing and speaking news, regular blog entries, and free downloads to help you grow in the Lord and do fun stuff.
I apologize for my lapse in posting. I have been very busy keeping things afloat while my husband and I add a huge addition to our vacation rental in Central Oregon. He has been driving back and forth (four hours each way) every weekend for almost nine months now to get the work done. We're nearing the end and we will be so happy when life gets back to normal. At least as normal as it ever gets for us.
I've also taken on a new staff position with Oregon Christian Writers as the In-Person Critique Group Coordinator and the response of our members has been astounding. So exciting when writers want to get together for regular work sessions!
Even with all that's going on, I have missed writing to you and hearing what God is doing in your lives as well. It won't be long until I can post more often.
As a special perk, when you sign up as a follower on my new website, I will send you a FREE download: "When You Can't See a Way Out."
Watch for more news in the very near future.
Saturday, April 20, 2019
The old hymn keeps running through my head this week:
The blood that Jesus shed for me
Way back on Calvary,
The blood that gives me strength from day to day—
It will never lose its power.
It reaches to the highest mountain.
It flows to the lowest valley.
The blood that gives me strength from day to day—It will never lose its power.
Why is blood so powerful? Can Jesus’ blood really give us eternal life or is it just a grisly throwback from ancient tradition?
We know blood is essential both for what it brings in and what it takes away. As it travels throughout our body it brings life-giving oxygen and nutrients to every cell. On its way back to the heart, our blood carries away waste products that would poison us if not for this miraculous internal cleansing process.
The practice of bloodletting in order to “balance the humors” began in Egypt, then spread to Greece, Rome, Asia, and Europe and continued even into the 19th century. This dangerous medical practice drastically weakens patients, reduces their ability to fight infection and disease, and has killed many who might otherwise have survived.
We know blood is essential to our physical bodies. You can watch a person’s life ebb away when they lose too much blood. Everything was going fine when I gave birth to my oldest daughter at home, until the placenta refused to disengage. It had embedded too deeply into my uterine wall and wouldn’t detach. I lost more and more blood in my efforts to deliver. Our midwife urged my husband to get me to the hospital quickly before I got any weaker. I think he ran every red light on the way in his panic. (Thankfully it was in the middle of the night so there wasn’t much traffic.)
Many colloquialisms come from the importance blood plays in our lives
- we show commitment and loyalty by making a pact with a “blood brother"
- we say “blood is thicker than water” regarding family relationships
- someone with murderous intent is “after blood”
- we hold “blood drives” to save lives with donations
We find references to blood all through the Bible.
The life is in the blood: God told Moses, “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” (Leviticus 17:11).
There is no forgiveness without blood: “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).
The sacrifice has to be pure; only the blood of Jesus will do: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:18-21).
With all we know about the importance of blood, hearing Jesus’ blood can cleanse us spiritually doesn’t seem all that far-fetched. Asking Him to be our Lord and Savior is like asking for a blood-transfusion. He replaces our sin-infected blood with His pure and sinless blood. He carried away our sins when He gave himself as our sacrifice on the cross, and fills us with life-giving Spirit-oxygenated blood. Jesus’ blood covers and transforms into His likeness those who put their trust in Him, so when they stand before God they appear spotless and sin-free. What an amazing process!
Today, if you have shied away from all the blood-talk of Christianity, I challenge you to think again. Search your heart. Examine nature. Ask God to show you the truth and trust His love for you. You can be reborn today and celebrate Easter for the very first time as part of the family of God—blood kin.
#lifeinblood #bloodsacrifice #cleansefromsin #forgivenesssblood #bloodspower
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
|courtesy of pro-church media, unsplash|
When I think of crowns, I think of kings, queens...and Jesus. Words from Handel’s Messiah spring to life, “Who is this King of glory?” That was what came to mind when Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem—symbolizing a king coming in peace. They said, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 19).
So I thought it strange when most references to crowns in scripture are not about Jesus, but about us! Only two were direct references to Christ—His crown of suffering and His crown of glory. The rest are an amazing mixture of gifts and promises.
There’s the crown of rescue:
“Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.” Psalm 103:1-6, emphasis added.
A victor’s crown:
“For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds.” Psalm 149:4-5, emphasis added.
From grief and loss to joy and beauty:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:1-3, emphasis added.
The transformation from the shame of sin...
“Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning. The crown has fallen from our head. Woe to us, for we have sinned!” Lamentations 5:15-16, emphasis added.
...to being jewels in our King’s crown:
“The Lord their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. How attractive and beautiful they will be!” Zechariah 9:16-17, emphasis added.
Why should we get all these crowns? It is Jesus Christ who deserves them. Yet man mocked His right to rule:
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.“Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king.’
“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ And they slapped him in the face…When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’” John 18:37; 19:1-3, 5
But Jesus’ willingness to endure shame and suffering for us, gave us the chance to become royalty:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” 1 Cor. 9:24-25
We can even be a crown for our spiritual mentors:
“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown…!” Philippians 4:1. “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20.
Our crowns are the reward for faithfulness to Christ’s teaching and example:
“No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.” 2 Timothy 2:4-5.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12.
Diligent and humble leaders get crowns that last forever:
“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” 1 Peter 5:2-4.
And Jesus promised rewards for those who endure persecution: “‘Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.’” Revelation 2:10.
‘“Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.’” Revelation 3:10-11.
The funny thing is, as soon as we get to heaven and receive our crowns, one look at Jesus and we give them all away!
“The twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, or you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Revelation 4:10-11.
There, finally, Jesus will finally wear the crown He deserves, and not just one, but many crowns, because He is sovereign over all the kingdoms of the earth.
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.” Revelation 19:11-12.
Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon the throne!
#Jesuscrown #crownofthorns #manycrowns #crownofglory #crownofvictory #crownofbeauty
Monday, April 15, 2019
Have you noticed that babies cry a lot? If you have a new baby at home you’re probably rolling your eyes, or bobbing your head in zombie-fashion for lack of sleep. Jesus cried. He got hungry like other babies, needed his diaper changed, and needed comforting. He experienced pain and hunger. He was fully man and fully God. He came to testify to the truth (John 18:37) and was willing to become one of us so we would believe what He said is true.
If I was God, I would have hesitated to send my Son to a planet infected with sin, sickness, temptation, and heartache. But He did it so Jesus could conquer Satan’s power over us. “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
Jesus also shed tears. The shortest verse of the Bible is, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). His dear friend Lazarus had died. Maybe He cried because death was not God’s plan for us; it came because of sin. Or He was grieved for His friend and family’s suffering, as well as His own. Even though Jesus was there to raise Lazarus from the dead, He experienced the pain of death first.
When Jesus arrived at Jerusalem not long after that, He was again overwhelmed with sorrow. This time in longing. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34).
God wants to gather, cover, and protect us like a mother hen with her brood, but since the first sin in the Garden of Eden, we’ve rebelled against His care. Jesus was about to feel this rejection in an even more personal way.
Before He was arrested, He prayed for release from this assignment. I’m sure He shed tears. “‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:42-44).
He accepted the plan laid out since the beginning of time. Jesus was arrested, stripped, beaten, mocked, and nailed to a cross. The moment His Father turned away from the sin heaped on Him there, Jesus cried in a depth of anguish we cannot begin to understand, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:27:46). A moment like no other in history when the Godhead split.
After His final breath, Jesus was taken from the cross and wrapped in seventy pounds of spices then laid in a borrowed tomb. It was sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers.
When Jesus rose from the dead three days later, the only tears shed by His followers were happy ones of shock and relief. He spent forty days appearing to them, explaining how this had been the plan from the beginning and the fulfillment of prophecy. Then He told them to tell the world about His offer of forgiveness!
The next time we see Jesus will either be the happiest of days or the worst--depending on what we have done with His offer. When He comes to take all who have believed in Him and walked in His ways to heaven “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
That makes me so happy that I want to cry. But instead maybe I will say, “Halleluia! Come Lord Jesus.”
#didJesuscry #Eastertears #whydidJesusweep #nomoretears
Tuesday, April 9, 2019
I saw her on the corner of a busy road in a bright red bathrobe with large, white polka dots. She repeatedly brought her fingertips together like a silent clap as she looked vacantly around. Her frazzled white hair blew gently in the wind. I was glad her remaining ensemble included green and blue plaid pajamas and black slippers since it was chilly out. The 911 dispatcher promised me the police would do a welfare check and get her safely home.
A robe can mean many things—comfort, warmth, royalty, a cover-up. In these last weeks before Easter, I’d like to explore four elements of Jesus’ story: The Robe, The Tears, The Crown, and The Blood. Each tells us more about Him and why Jesus Christ is vital to the celebration of Easter.
Jesus’ robe was a far cry from the old woman’s housecoat. Like other men and women of His time, Jesus wore a linen tunic under a longer robe with sleeves. A man who went out in just a tunic would be considered naked. Stripping prisoners before crucifying them added shame to their pain. The soldiers gleefully taunted Jesus like schoolyard bullies.
After His arrest, “They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him....They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ they said....After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him” (Matthew 27:28-31).
The Jews had expected a Messiah to rescue them from Rome’s oppression. They rejected Jesus because He came as Savior and King for all mankind. We make the same mistake when we assume He comes to rule to our advantage. Christ is not a piece of Easter décor like bunnies and eggs, or someone we acknowledge only once a year. He is our King and deserving of worship every day.
Something else Jesus’ robe exposed is greed. Imagine what went through His mind as the soldiers gambled for His clothes while He bled on the cross for them. “When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. ‘Let’s not tear it,’ they said to one another. ‘Let’s decide by lot who will get it’” (John 19:23-24).
I hate to think I'm guilty of greed, but some of my prayers sound more like a wish list for Santa than an outpouring of gratitude to my Savior and Lord.
Our robes (spirits) are stained by the thoughts, attitudes and works of sin. But Jesus’ death on the cross made a way for our cleansing. “‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18). Exchanging our filth for His purity is as simple as believing Jesus Christ is who He said He is, and asking Him to take away our sin. In exchange, He makes us clean (Isaiah 61:10).
No more wandering in slippers filthy from street walking. No more garments of hypocrisy, bitterness, or rage. No more fretting on the corner, lost and afraid in a red polka dot robe. Jesus gives us new clothes, not just for Easter, but for every day.
Finally, there will come a time when we will see Jesus in His robe of glory. He will come to reign as King over all “dressed in a robe dipped in blood…On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords” (Revelation 19:13, 16).
Who do you think Jesus is? On what have you based your decision? Was He confused and delusional, or is He seated now at the right hand of God reigning in glory?
#Eastermessage #Jesusrobe #whoisJesus #Saviorordelusion #mockorworship