Thursday, April 26, 2012


"One thing have i asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after;
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD 
all the days of my life;
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple."
Psalm 27:4

I’ve been pondering this for some time now, and my heart is heavy. I’m going to try to approach this topic as gently as I know how, but this is, honestly, something I have spent time praying and crying about, so I’m not trying to gin up controversy or be a jerk or call anyone out or be hyper-critical or anything. These are the kinds of posts I always post with shaking fingers and some nervousness, but here it is.
There is a....I don’t want to call it movement, but I’m not sure what else to call it.... among the evangelical circles in which I run, in real life and online, toward a kind of ‘Christian’ contemplative type of prayer. It’s a subtle thing, and in many cases the ideas I’m struggling with are not introduced with any malicious intent or intent to deviate from truth. They are introduced with the best of intentions. However, good intentions aren’t the standard. Uzzah had good intentions when he reached out his hand to stop the Ark of the Covenant from falling from a moving ox cart, and you can read what happened in 2 Samuel 6. 
Here is my heartbreak: I am afraid that in desiring a more consistent or deeper prayer life, we too often get distracted looking for an intense experience with God and seeking some kind of emotional experience with Him and we deviate from hungering for and seeking God. Scripture tells us over and over to seek God, but doesn’t focus on seeking an experience or some emotional, highly personalized, mystical or romanticized feeling, or a certain kind of mood that we are so prone to seek, but we’re told to seek to know Him. There is a difference. I’m not sure I am expressing myself well, but there is a difference. 
I think, sometimes, that well-meaning Christians are getting tripped up by subtle word usage. To contemplate isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if by it you mean to think about God’s word, to study it, to learn the meaning and implications of what you are reading, to learn to think carefully about how to apply it to your life and to repent when the Holy Spirit, through the Word, opens your eyes to areas where you are not living in accordance with His Word and to obey it as one who loves God. That kind of contemplation, if you will, is good.
However, there’s something called ‘contemplative prayer’ that has other connotations and baggage that aren’t so much good. Start searching around the internet for ‘contemplative prayer’  or ‘centering prayer’ and you find that it’s a whole different kind of contemplating being encouraged. It’s way beyond the scope of this post to get into all the ways it is rooted in ‘New Age’ thought and Eastern mysticism, but that in itself ought to give us serious pause. If you do a search, there’s lots of good and bad information about that. What I wanted to focus on here is a more narrow scope, mostly focusing how a sincere attempt to become a better pray-er, for lack of a better term, can sometimes get off track if we fall into the ditch of being too desirous of a certain mood or emotion or experience. 
I sincerely believe that it is a good desire to want to be more committed to prayer and to want to see your church become more of a praying church. We need to pray. As believers it’s so important to have a vital prayer life, privately and corporately. I get a little frustrated with some of the discussion I hear about prayer, though. Why do we have such a hard time grasping prayer? We either reduce it to a time of listing all the ailments that we know about from close friends and family to far distant people and spend the whole time praying people out of heaven, so-to-speak (I’m not saying we aren’t supposed to pray for sick people, just that this is not ALL we’re to pray about), or, in the genuine spark of recognition that this is not really all prayer is meant to be, we get creative and try to incorporate all the senses in an experiential, highly personal, ultimately too inwardly focused exercise. Another movement I see in the evangelical camp is one that seems enthralled with ‘creativity’, but unfortunately there’s not a lot of discernment coming alongside it. (This website is chock full of the kind of stuff that I’m talking about but definitely not endorsing, if you want some context.) Both extremes end up shallow and empty and devoid of the power we say we seek in prayer...and miss the mark, I would argue.
The thing is, in order to worship God, we ought to be focused on who God is, His attributes, and what He has done. Worship means to ascribe worth to someone or something, to acknowledge the worthiness of the object of our worship to be worshipped. It’s about God, not about us and what we can get out of it or experience in it.
Of course, rightly informed worship, grounded in God’s word and focused on His attributes and marvelous grace will ultimately cause emotions to well up in us as our affections are stirred to love and glorify God. I’m not against emotions or a mood that is affected by true worship. I’m often very emotional while worshiping. It’s not that we worship coldly in a vacuum. What I’m disheartened by is an attempt, no matter how well-meaning, to manipulate emotions or generate a certain mood through overly creative experiences and too much focus on ourselves and our senses and how we feel.
I think in our desire to seek an experience, we get too inwardly focused, too focused on me and how I feel and my supposed ‘worth’ and what this means to me, and then we begin to pray in a way that, ultimately, is more about us than it is about God. We begin to focus on the wonder that is us, rather than taking our focus off of ourselves and turning in wonder, awe and praise to the One who has saved us, redeemed us, reconciled us to Himself, turning in worship to the One who has lavished such grace in not consuming us in our sin but in cleansing us from our sin by bearing the wrath that we deserve. I am convinced that we do not think often enough and deeply enough about the fact that we deserve wrath. We were wretched, poor, blind and hopeless....But God, in mercy and grace, sent Jesus to bear the wrath we deserve in our place and in grace and mercy to clothe those who in repentant faith place their hope in Him in His righteousness to worship Him and honor Him forever more. And we dare to sit in contemplative introspection and think about the wonder that is us? 
I think sometimes we are too willing to take poetic license with how we write and sing and talk and think about God. I’m not saying creativity and poetry are wrong, and I know some people are just artsier than I am and more in tune with their creative side. But. We have been given God’s word, and we need to make sure our creativity and poetic license don’t violate it or point our affections at ourselves rather than Him. 
When Jesus gave us the model prayer, He didn’t instruct us to ponder how gifted we are or how we feel about things or how we can forgive ourselves. Take a look at that prayer again, and think about it, if you will. (Matthew 6:8-12) Where is the focus? How we feel? How gifted/talented/creative we are? No.
When Isaiah saw God, he did not then contemplate how wonderful or gifted he (Isaiah) was. He did not then sit and contemplate the amazing creation that was himself. No. He saw himself for the wretch he was before Holy God. “And I said, ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!’” (Isaiah 6:5) And when we rightly think about it, this is what we know ourselves to be. Not a wonder, but a wretch. And, friends, this makes God’s grace all the more amazing, as we contemplate it. When you really start to think about how awesome the gospel is, how incredible Jesus’ statement from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” you can’t help but be moved emotionally, and you can’t help but be moved to worship HIM rather than sit there taking in deeply how wonderful you are. He loves us not because we are wonderfully lovable, but while we were yet sinners He loved us in all of our wretchedness and died on the cross and bore the wrath that we deserve, and by the grace of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, through faith in Christ alone, declares us righteous. That is how He has demonstrated His love for us. Because Jesus bore my wretchedness on the cross, bore the wrath I deserve, I stand before Him, clean and righteous and holy. Think long and hard about that, and I am convinced you will begin to pray.
The more I think about this and look at prayers in the Bible, the more I’m convinced that the prayers God will hear are not those that focus on how lovable we are. The prayers we need to be seeking to pray are those that focus on our awesome, incredible God and that ask for things that would bring honor and glory to Him. We desperately need to turn our focus from ‘What am I getting out of this? What is my blessing?’ to ‘What pleases my God?’ 
Then we can be freed from the tyrannical discontent of seeking a romanticized, highly personalized, heightened emotional mystical feeling and freed to seek our God, through the precious and glorious grace He has offered us in His Son. We are freed to rest in His forgiveness and grace. We are freed to feast on His word and have our prayers informed by rightly dividing the Word of God and to know Him, and that we may learn to pray rightly for others - fellow believers and the lost - that our love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment; so that we may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 2:9-11)
Friends, we don’t find that by looking inward and being awed by the wonder that is us. We find that by denying ourselves and looking up at our Savior and savoring the grace that He has so richly lavished on us while we were yet sinners, and savoring the blessing that through Jesus Christ we are declared righteous and able to stand in His presence and boldly approach the throne of grace. Let's not open the door to deception. Let’s not settle for the cheap imitation of manipulated emotion and self-focused, romanticized notions of worship. Let’s dig into His word, and with renewed minds fixed on Jesus Christ, pray from a heart that is regenerated and transformed by the power of Him who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject all things to Himself. (Philippians 3:21)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What's On Your Nightstand - April 2012

It’s What’s on Your Nightstand time again over at 5 Minutes for Books, and I thought I’d share a post this month to try to limp my blog along for another day. As to what I’m reading these days, I’ve once again gotten myself into the position of juggling several books at once. I’ll start with recently finished on my list here:
Recently finished:
The House at Riverton (F) - Kate Morton. I believe I may have mentioned once or a lot how much I enjoy the Downton Abbey series. This book takes place in the same time period and has much the same ‘feel’ as Downton Abbey. I enjoyed it very much and look forward to checking out other books by this author.
Levi’s Will (F) - W. Dale Cramer. After my recent post complaining about Christian books that I find frustrating and dangerous, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention I’d stumbled across this one that I  enjoyed. I read somewhere that, though the book is fiction, it is similar to the author’s father’s experiences having grown up Old Order Amish and left that life behind. I enjoyed this book, and, again, look forward to exploring more titles from this author.
Radical (NF) - David Platt. This was a challenging book, but very gospel-centered. I appreciate how it encouraged me to think about the evangelical Christianity in America and evaluate whether my thinking and living is biblical or whether it is more informed by the ‘American Dream’. Like I said, challenging, but a needed challenge, I believe.
Currently reading:
V is for Vengence (F) - Sue Grafton.  I’ve followed private detective Kinsey Millhone through Grafton’s alphabet series for years and still like the books. Caution for some language, however.
Worship (NF) - John MacArthur. Taking my time reading through this book, and appreciating it very much. Also challenging.
The Transforming Power of the Gospel (NF) - Jerry Bridges. This was being offered free for Kindle not too long ago, and I got it for the Kindle app I have on my phone. I am also appreciating this. I really am thankful for the many gospel-affirming books and resources available and I don’t think I can ever get enough encouragement to think through how the gospel affects all areas of life. It has been very helpful to me in my walk to keep filling my mind with these exhortations to know the gospel and to grow in Christ. 
Speaking of resources for learning to apply the gospel and saturate your mind with it, I found a resource I’ve been really enjoying listening to lately, and this is as good a time as any to mention it and put in a plug for it. It’s ‘Wretched Radio’ with Todd Friel. Really liking the daily radio program. Check it out at  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Okay, back to reading.....I believe I mentioned somewhere along the way how much I enjoyed The Hunger Games trilogy and enjoyed the discussions it has sparked with my boys.  Here is an excellent review I read this morning, and I found myself nodding in agreement as I read. I especially liked his points #1, 6, and 7, but I agreed with the whole post. I think it is true that an engaged and thoughtful parent can read and have fruitful discussion with his/her kids as they read books together - even if the books don’t have a Christian worldview. My boys and I discussed the very same things he mentions in that post and it was a good thing. 
Anyway, that’s what I’m reading around here these days. Please visit 5 Minutes for Books to join in and see what other participants are reading. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012


My husband has been in Washington, D.C. for an Army training class since January 2 of this year. That's basically four months away from home except for three short weekend visits.

But it's a good day today. He's finished and on his way home. And this time he doesn't have to leave again at the end of the weekend. Woot!

After four months of parking in the middle of the garage, I had the boys clean out his side of the garage and made sure to park way over on my side. Leaving room for him in the garage and in my heart. :-)

Praying for his safe travels tonight.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Some Things I've Been Thinking About Recently

I don’t even know where to start with this post. I have several issues I’ve been mulling over to address, but I suspect it will be much too long a post, and I’ve never been very good about breaking these things down into a blog series. This is a potentially touchy subject and lots of potential for misunderstanding and y'all know I don't like to drum up controversy or step on toes or stir up hornets' nests or make people mad at me, but, I've had this stuff rolling around in my head for a long time now and just need to work out my thoughts, so here we go.
Here’s the thing. I am becoming completely disillusioned with the evangelical subculture. Don’t hear that wrong, okay? Hear the rest of what I’m saying before jumping to a wrong conclusion.
The thing is, the more I grow in my walk with Jesus, the more I appreciate the depth and breadth and scope of the amazing gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the more I realize just how holy and awesome our God is, the less I like what the subculture of evangicalism has done with watering down the gospel and trivializing it and becoming so much like the world that the world either can’t see any difference or thinks we’re sort of a shallow wanna-be of the world’s coolness, or on the other hand sees us as mostly a political lobbying group. 
That sounds harsh. It is. That sounds judgmental. You better believe it. I am being judgmental. With a capital J. I’m examining the subculture in which I have been steeped for most of my life and I’m finding that it is wanting at best and dangerous at worst. And I am not being snide, snarky, or gleeful with this. I am writing this post with a profound amount of sadness. Because this is the culture and subculture in which I am raising my own children, and I find it so hard to find that sometimes I have to shelter them even more from things within the fold than from things without. I wish you could see how much sadness these thoughts bring me, my friends.
Let me give you a little bit of context for where I’m coming from today. I grew up in the church, was saved at a young age, and as I look back over the years and some of the influences that surrounded me and pulled at me from various sides, I am speechless at the mercy and grace God showed me in sparing me and/or rescuing me from all kinds of ditches, pitfalls, and error that so easily could have taken hold on my thinking. Only by His grace do I have the love for His word and hunger to know Him and His word and hunger for righteousness and truth that I have today. And looking back, I can say that I was blessed with a lot of good teaching, but there was a lot there that wasn’t good along the way, too. Thank God He has spared me from error and is still leading me through the mine field that evangelicalism has become. 
I just finished reading the book, Radical, by David Platt. I had heard a lot of good things about that book and seen that quite a few bloggers I appreciate had spoken well of the book, but until our Sunday school group decided to read it together, I had never before seen the subtitle, which is, “Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream.” Intriguing, yes? Challenging book. I am still processing it and I sent it back with my husband to read when he was home this weekend. I want us to begin praying about our own blind spots in this area. Though I had begun thinking along these lines already, I found that I had many blind spots where I’ve bought into the American Dream and not even realizing where my thinking was actually detrimental to a committed Christian walk that surprised and grieved me as I read. In fact, I would have agreed that the seeker mentality all the rage in our churches is too self-centered and would have self-righteously patted myself on the back about that, without seeing how very self-centered so much of my  thinking still is. I find that I am hungering for a gospel-saturated, Jesus-exalting worldview. I find that it is good to examine ourselves to be sure we are in the faith and to search the scriptures and know what is true. I recommend the book, highly, by the way.
So, back to what I was already processing before I read the book. I read this post a while back. You’ll need to read that post to understand this next paragraph. Here’s what I’ve been pondering since I learned about the fictional “Becky” target market, and what I wish the marketeers would get. I used to be ‘Becky’ until I got so sated with the shallowness that was Christian radio that I finally just turned it off. I’d rather listen to secular music than stupid songs about lost car keys being the stuff that drives me crazy. Honestly, that sappy love song to Jesus stuff may be what the fictional Becky ‘wants’, but you know what she (and I) need? Music that takes our minds off of us and our self-centered little selves and points us to Someone better and higher. We need the gospel. We need to have our appetites whetted for the majesty of who God is, and, yes, reminded that sin is offensive to Him. I need to be reminded of His holiness and love and grace, not in songs that sound like a teenager mooning in a lovesick way, but in the depth of true worship.  Those are the songs that really feed our souls. Because if you want the honest, heart-wrenching truth, I am so self-centered all on my own, I don’t need happy, clappy, shallow junk. I can be shallow all on my own. I need something to point me away from me. And you know what else? Life, real life, isn’t happy, slappy, clappy romantic pie-in-the-sky all the time. That just doesn’t hold up when life happens. That doesn’t hold up when life happens and I'm feeling like I'm drowning and I’ve hit the wall and want to scream. What I need is the gospel, and lots and lots of it. I don’t need to be encouraged in my self-centeredness. I need to focus on who God is. But, you Christian radio people go right on marketing to that fictional Becky who doesn’t want any of that theology stuff, and I’ll just steer way clear of your stations. 
Told you this would be a long post.
That’s what I’ve been pondering writing about for a while, but here’s what got me grieved enough to finally get the post written. I went into a Christian bookstore the other day. I may have mentioned this before, but I have been growing more and more frustrated with Christian books in the past few years. It isn’t that there are no good ones. It’s just that you have to wade through so much that isn’t good to find it. 
So, anyway, I was wandering through, kind of mindlessly browsing the shelves when I stumbled upon the Young Adult section. And had to take a picture. Here are a few pictures, and you tell me if at first glance, if I had not told you where I was, would you have assumed these were Christian books?

Now, I guess in a way I’m doing what I got frustrated with someone else for doing when I heard them criticize The Hunger Games in a way that, in my opinion, missed it because he admitted he hadn’t read the book but was speaking from a review he had read, that also, in my opinion, got it wrong, because I am pretty much judging these books by their covers and what I read when I looked them up online later. I haven’t read any of these books, so take what I’m saying for what it’s worth. Maybe I've just been burned by being too trusting before and maybe they aren't what they look like at face value, but from appearance, I'm very wary. But at least let me finish the point I wanted to make, please.
Here’s my quibble. Some of those books even looked kind of interesting, while some looked downright awful (horrifying) when I read about them. BUT. Remember that I was standing in a Christian bookstore. Just by the fact that this is where they are, there is an implied stamp of approval plastered on those books that they are A-okay for a Christian kid to read. I mean, as a mom, I want to think that if my kid picks a book from the shelf of the Christian bookstore, should be a wholesome thing for him to read, right? Well, when I went and read about some of those titles, I thought, I don’t even want to fill my head with that creepy stuff, I sure won’t let my kids read them. (Hmmm....Twilight is all the rage, guess we probably can't write about vampires, what to do, oh....let's make our immortal characters angels! That should make it okay! SERIOUSLY?) (And Tim Challies has a good review of the original book that last picture is based on.)
Full disclosure, I and my kids read all the Harry Potter books and all three of The Hunger Games books and liked them and found much to discuss about while reading them. I’m not usually a knee-jerk kind of parent.  But I'd have a problem with them being on the shelf in a Christian bookstore, too. 

I am not even saying I wouldn’t let them read ANY of the books in my picture, nor am I saying anything about the fact that they are out there at all. I'm also not saying that Christian fiction books have to have a formula gospel or can't deal with heavy topics, but a lot of these had eerie, spooky, occult, or paranormal type elements that I think are unwise to be focusing on. I’m not even saying no one should ever read any of these books. I am saying if you read them, don’t assume they are something Christians should read without any discernment or without concern. And a couple of them, maybe I am saying it would be better not to be reading them, at least, if what I read about them is an accurate portrayal. What I take issue with is, why from Christian publishers? I purposely haven't mentioned the name of the bookstore, because, honestly, I think the problem lies with the parent company and the fact that I really wish Christian publishers would give more good stuff to the bookstores to work with than with the individual store I visited.And I looked, these books are published by Christian publishing companies, so I can see why the bookstore might think they're okay.  Why do our YA shelves look just as dark and disturbing as the local secular bookstore or public library YA bookshelves when we should have something SO MUCH better to offer? Shouldn't we look different? My kids heard what I said to my husband about the books, and later we were at the public library. My middle son came to me and said, "Mom, you know how you said all the books at the store were all dark and stuff? Well, it's the same kind of stuff here in my section." Shouldn't it bother us a little bit that our shelves look just like the world? Aren't we supposed to be the people of light, not darkness? Shouldn't we look different? To be honest, when I read about a couple of those books, I thought, “And I’m a bad Christian mom for letting my kids read The Hunger Games?? Really?? This is more dangerous than what they encountered in that.” 
At least with Harry Potter and The Hunger Games and other books we’ve read together, I knew what the issues were we’d need to address. Honestly, I believe it is better for my kids to read those things with me and have the discussions we’ve had than to read a bunch of creepy stuff that’s got a Christian label on it and could do a lot more to damage their thinking because you assume if it’s “Christian” it’s okay. I’d rather they read secular stuff and learn to discern as they read than to confuse themselves with really bad theology in “Christian” books. It is HARD to write Christian fiction without running into some ditch or other. There is so much bad theology I find in a lot of "Christian" books it makes my head hurt. And it makes me weep. 

I am not saying this just to be overly critical or shrewish. I am saying this because I am deeply, profoundly SAD. I am sad that, though I grew up in the evangelical subculture and really was saved at a young age, I am not sure I really apprehended the depth or richness of the gospel until fairly recently, and I wish we, as a movement, would get back to being passionate about the truth and not so interested in following the world's fads. I am extremely thankful that for some reason God, in His mercy, chose to make me dissatisfied with the steady diet of shallow and error-prone stuff that makes up so much of evangelicalism and led me to good teaching amid the rubble. 
I don’t know if this made any sense, and sometimes I feel like maybe I’m just too picky or that I am just completely out of sync with, well, just about everyone. I get so frustrated when Christians knee-jerk about things like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games (or worse, try to' redeem' them by forcing a Christian reading onto them that was never intended rather than learning how to read intelligently), but stuff that is, seems to me, way more dangerous gets not a word said, not a notice or blip on the radar screen. I know not everyone who reads this will agree with me. But I weep when I see how much harder it is getting to find the meat amid the bones. So many, many bones to spit out these days among things that identify as “Christian”. 

And I didn't even show you the pictures I took of the devotional books for girls.......

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Resurrection Sunday

Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed!

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Joy unspeakable, and life everlasting!

Forever I am changed, because He is risen and I am set free!

Every knee will bow before Him and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!

Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

All praise, all glory, all honor are His!

Let my voice join today and always with the great Hallelujah chorus of praise to the King.

Colossians 2:13-15
"13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him having forgiven us all our trespasses,  14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him." 

Friday, April 06, 2012

Good Friday

Luke 23:32-34
“32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.” 
2 Corinthians 5:21
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
John 1:9-13
“9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Good Friday is good because we are not. Good Friday is good precisely because we are wretched. Completely and utterly wretched.
I find that the longer I walk with Jesus, the more aware of just how offensive my sin is and just how much I have not previously fully comprehended it. Even when asking forgiveness with broken heart, so often I don’t fully, even then, appreciate the depth of the offense of the very sin I’ve allowed to entangle me as I run the race and seek to follow Christ. But even that sin, even my ignorance and imperfect confession of it, Jesus died to pay the penalty of it, and I stand before Him a new creation, clothed not in a righteousness of my own that can never measure up, but in His perfect righteousness through the redemption purchased by His precious blood and applied to my account. It is finished. The debt is paid. I am bought with a price and I am His. That is enough to take my breath away in awe and bring me to my knees with fresh tears of gratitude when I ponder it. Every so often, as I ponder the gospel, I’m struck again by the depth and breadth and sweep of the amazing grace, mercy, forgiveness, love and hope we are shown in the cross and Jesus’ resurrection. 
I’ve been thinking recently on how incredible it is that as Jesus was dying on the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I’ve been thinking about it from several angles. First of all, the mercy of His compassion for the very ones who mocked and crucified Him. This staggers me the more I think about it. The love He pours out on us, when we are so pridefully ignorant. Yet He loved us, not because we were good, but in order to show His grace toward us in all of our wretchedness. He came to save sinners. And then I think of the sheer immensity of the fact that Immanuel, God With Us, condescended to the shame of being spit upon and mocked by the very ones He created and whose very breath is a gift from His hand. Scandalous. Shocking. And I’m struck by the fact that it is not only the people there at that moment who bear the weight of the sheer audacity of the guilt of hating their God. I bear that weight, too. As does everyone who walks and has walked this earth. We are rebels and sinners at heart, far from God. All we like sheep have gone astray, everyone seeks his own way and is a rebel to the very God who made us. None of us have clean hands. 
But God....some of the most beautiful words in the entire Bible!.....but God, in His mercy, while we were yet sinners and rebels and far from God, sent His only begotten Son to fulfill all of the law and to die on the cross in our place. He took the wrath that I deserve, and now I can stand in His presence, declared righteous, forgiven, reconciled to God. Because to everyone who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. The most amazing good news that ever was. 
This Good Friday, may we ponder the gospel, the greatest news that ever was told. May we ponder what it means that to everyone who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Him. And He will not cast out those who come to Him in repentant faith and rest all their hope in Christ alone.
This is why Good Friday is good.