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1 Corinthians 15:55-58 “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

Is Paul talking about life? more succinctly, life eternal? What does he mean “the sting of death is sin”, and “the power of sin is the law”? Christ died on a cross, in shame and humility so that we might have eternal life. The unbelievable, inconceivable (at least to us) act that took place on this day over 2000 years ago was brutal. It was ghastly. It was a glimpse of the worst of humanity, it was death. And yet, the whole event, no matter how bloody, pointed to eternal LIFE!

Through no work of your own, Christ has offered you and me the gift of eternal life. The ONLY thing to stop us from accepting it is ourselves. The sting of death IS sin. Satan holds our sins over our heads every day like a 3 ton boulder that could fall any moment and crush our very existence. “You aren’t good enough for Christ’s gift.”, “Do you really think He will accept you in light of all your sin?”, “You disgust Christ.”. These are statements that the evil one throws at us like poison daggers every day of our lives. The sad truth is that often, these daggers find their mark. The remarks drive home the fact that we are incapable of being holy, that we will always be ‘human’. Ironically, the remarks drive us further and further away from the Grace that Christ offers us. Grace that He KNOWS we need because we are in fact incapable of being holy on our own.

The power of sin IS the law. The law reminds us every day what we SHOULD do and what we SHOULD’NT do. The law is a “plum” line if you will, showing us what our lives SHOULD look like. But Satan uses that model not as a guideline, but as a wall that is so high and unattainable. A wall that discourages instead of encourages.

Christ’s act of selflessness on the cross was not a split second decision. “Oh well, this is the only way I can help these poor, detested humans.” No, it was a well planned and executed mission. Probably the greatest strategical move ever known. He love us SO much… John 3:16 says it best. When the poison daggers start flying, stand tall on the knowledge that Christ suffered and died for you before you EVER committed the sin that’s being held over your head. When Satan tells you that you aren’t good enough, smile and praise our Father above and just remind Satan that you don’t have to be good enough because Christ was better than you ever could be. In doing so, you turn that wall back into a plum line. Every sin, every time God’s grace is extended towards you, let it propel you closer to Him. Let it spur you on to be more LIKE Him. As Paul said in Phillippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

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1 January fell like a rock off a mountain top and kept rolling faster and faster towards the valley. Robin finished up radiation, the Jeep was in pieces in the garage, Old man winter was in full swing, I was sick 3 weeks out of the month. I barely had time to catch my breath, much less get caught up on things. But, all beginnings eventually develop ends; Robin had her PET scan to determine if all the chemo, surgery, and radiation worked. The Jeep got put back together, I got better, and Spring is coming on with a vengeance.

Robin’s doctor was very calm when we went to get the results of the PET scan. He looked at Robin and asked if she had any questions. She asked about blood, diet, thyroids, etc. He gave the typical answers, then kept asking if she had any more questions. She finally said, “WHAT ARE MY RESULTS?”. He smiled and did the obligatory login to the computer in front of him and then turned to Robin and smiled and said, “Your scan came back clean. You are normal.”. If there were ever words that had the power to relieve stress, provide hope, those words were it. Robin smiled and started tearing up. She will tell you the Dr. only confirmed what she already knew. God has been so succinct in His plan for Robin this past year, the outcome was no surprise for her, for us. We still celebrated His faithfulness. We still rejoiced in Robin’s healing. God told me last year that His plan was the best plan. I know that, I trusted in that, and to watch His plan unfold in Robin’s life has been nothing short of an amazing, faith building miracle in my life.

I believe Mother Teresa was the one who said, “You will never know that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.” He truly is all we need.

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We had a great day of snow, snow, and more snow! The total only ended up being about 7.5″ but it was great to watch it come down. Taz enjoyed playing in it, that’s for sure!snowday It figures that the biggest snow of the new year, my Jeep would be in pieces in the garage. I hope to get the transmission put back together this weekend and get it in the Jeep. I’m looking forward to driving my vehicle with no squeals, screeches, or whines (and that’s not from my passengers) :)

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The “Good News” is HOPE. The “Gospel” is the crux of our faith. John 3:16 puts it SO plainly, that even little children can understand, (paraphrasing) “For God loved the world (you and me) SO much, that He gave His Son (Jesus) as a sacrifice, so that if we  believe that Jesus died in our place on the cross, we will not perish, but have everlasting life!” This message is re-iterated throughout the New Testament, with each iteration bringing more clarity, more enlightenment to that extraordinary act of Love. In Galatians 2:20, Paul adds even more clarity to the implications of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I
who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by
faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Paul wrote this at a time where he was refuting Peter’s stance on Gentiles and Jews being equal as believers. Peter was leaning toward the Jewish law concerning Gentiles, which led Paul to make the point that we are no longer under the law. The law had been washed away as it were with the blood from Jesus’ death. When we acknowledge / associate ourselves with Jesus’ act on the cross, we allow our “Self” to suffer the same fate as Jesus: death. In doing so, a transaction takes place where “self” is exchanged for Christ. Self is no longer our center- Jesus is. The implications of this concept is enormous!  Instead of having the confines of the law of Moses dictating how we live, we now have freedom to TRULY live because Christ now lives in us!

As my dad used to put it so eloquently, “What does this have to do with the price of tea in China?”

 Associate yourself with Christ. Accept Him as your Lord and Savior. In doing so, you effectively kill your self, your ego, on the very same cross that Jesus died on. What do you get in return? EVERLASTING life, because the One who conquered death is LIVING in you! Your spirit is reborn under the new covenant, not the old. In 2 Corinthians chapter 3:6-11, Paul talks about the difference between the old covenant and the new covenant:

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the
face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?
If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!
10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

Death is replaced with Life, Temporary is replaced with Permanence, Condemnation is replaced with Righteousness, and Law is replaced with Love. I want permanence in God’s kingdom, I want His  righteousness to replace my condemnation, and most of all, I want to spend eternity with the One who loves me SO much, that He gave Himself up for me.

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God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High.  God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. -Psalms 46