Archives For March 2013

Step by Step: Following Jesus from the Palms Parade to the Resurrection

EasterDay 8: Easter Sunday, March 31
The Resurrection (Matthew 28:1-10)

They held him by the feet, Scripture says, of the faithful women who first came to the tomb after the Sabbath to tend the body of Jesus. Finding him alive, as the angel on duty had announced, they fell at his feet, those feet still bloodied, still pierced by the great nails from the cross.

In moments, the reality of Jesus’ resurrection from death would take over, and there would be much running and telling, weeping and fearing, hugging and shouting, doubting and cheering.

But for this moment, they held on.

Lord, rekindle in us the sheer joy of finding you alive this morning and every morning. May we always be moved by the sight of your pierced feet and hold tightly to you.

Devotion by Eric Reed, artwork by Kerry Jackson


Step by Step: Following Jesus from the Palms Parade to the Resurrection

EasterDay 7: Saturday, March 30
Waiting (Matthew 27:62-66; Hebrews 10:11-14)

This is a universal truth: no one likes waiting. And yet, in Passion Week, Saturday is for waiting. Little is said of the events of the day, other than the conspiracies of religious leaders to keep their victim under wraps and their deed from coming undone. We can see the guards posted to their first shifts outside the tomb, but we are left to wonder about the disciples in fearful hiding. Robbed of their master’s funeral by sunset and Sabbath obligation, it’s a long wait. As long as the time any of us experience between the death of a loved one and the final goodbye. Long, immeasurable hours in grief.

Yet, for Jesus, there is relief. Like the temple priest after a long day at the butcher block, our High Priest sat down. At the right hand of God, resting in his mission accomplished on our behalf, he is waiting…to prop up his feet.

Lord, help us to wait. While we do, build in us anticipation as again we celebrate your breaking open the tomb and emerging from the darkness, radiant.

Devotion by Eric Reed, artwork by Kerry Jackson


Step by Step: Following Jesus from the Palms Parade to the Resurrection

EasterDay 6: Good Friday, March 29
The Crucifixion (Matthew 27:32-54)

For the first moment in all eternity, Jesus finds himself alone. He has enjoyed the community of his Father and the Holy Spirit always. But here, after six hours being tortured to death for our sin, Jesus feels fully how sin separates defiled humans from the holy God. Darkness covers the bald hillside of his execution, and he cries out, Why have you forsaken me?

His words, mistaken for a plea to Elijah, are actually the first verse of Psalm 22. With these few words, Jesus invokes the entire Psalm whose 31 verses perfectly describe his death: “I am poured out like water…They pierced my hands and my feet…for my clothing they cast lots.”

At Calvary, Jesus, alone, bears our sins. Until our sins kill him.

Father, we would be alone to die for our sins, were it not for the self-sacrifice of your Son, Jesus. Thank you that because of his death in our place, you are not forced to turn away from us.

Devotion by Eric Reed, artwork by Kerry Jackson


Step by Step: Following Jesus from the Palms Parade to the Resurrection

EasterDay 5: Maundy Thursday, March 28
The long road home (Matthew 26:36-46)

So many things happened this day and night: Jesus reinterprets the Passover meal, declaring the bread his body and the wine his blood. He gives lengthy instruction to his followers on how to carry on his ministry (John 14-17). Jesus is picked from a line-up of a dozen men by a kiss from a friend. He is betrayed, tried, convicted, denied (Matt. 26:47-75).

But it is in the olive press of Gethsemane that we see Jesus, the Man, crushed. The weight of the sin of all people of all time would soon be laid on him. That he who had never sinned would become sin seems more than one man could bear. Even a perfect God-man.

And in the darkness of the garden he asked, Must I?

What would compel him to bear the unbearable? Duty? Demand? No. It is Love.

And from the ground at Gethsemane Jesus would stand and begin his determined journey up the Road of Suffering to Golgotha – taking us with him.

Lord, help us watch and pray and accept your will. Thank you for Jesus’ journey on our behalf that ultimately takes us home. 

Devotion by Eric Reed, artwork by Kerry Jackson


Step by Step: Following Jesus from the Palms Parade to the Resurrection

EasterDay 4: Silent Wednesday, March 27
Time for contemplation (Matthew 24:1-14, 36-44)

What were the disciples doing at mid-week? This day is noteworthy for the absence of events assigned to it by Scripture. But after Jesus’ bold prophecies the day before, the disciples must have been asking themselves why their teacher was talking about the destruction of the temple and the end of the world.

His end-times sermon on Olive mountain was framed with memorable illustrations:  the greening fig tree, the procrastinating butler, the silly bridesmaids, and the fortune stuffed in the mattress.

But nestled among these parables were the reasons for his lessons on urgency: every people will hear the Gospel (v. 14) and then the Lord will return (v. 42).

Would the disciples live accordingly? Will we?

Lord, help us share the Gospel before time runs out. We want our neighbors and family – and ourselves – to be ready for your return.

Devotion by Eric Reed, artwork by Kerry Jackson


Step by Step: Following Jesus from the Palms Parade to the Resurrection

EasterDay 3: Tuesday, March 26
The confrontations (Matthew 21:23-32, 22:34-46; 26:6-16)

The Tuesday accounts read like a boxing match: The elders question his authority; Jesus tells them harlots will enter the kingdom before unbelieving religious leaders.

The priests and lawyers try to trip him up with trick questions; Jesus confounds them with amazing answers.

Ultimately, he silences the tricksters. The match goes to Jesus. But the confrontations leave Jesus weeping over the sorry spiritual state of the city where Israel should meet and worship God (Matt. 23:27).

Later Jesus pulls his disciples aside for deep teaching on the end times. And from the Mount of Olives they retreat at evening to Bethany, where a woman causes a squabble when she anoints Jesus for his burial. “Love the Lord your God with all…” he taught earlier that day, and she did.

Having seen her offering, Judas made a different – and fatal – choice.

Lord, at various times we behave like all the people you encountered. Prevent us from argumentative debate and traitorous bargaining. We want to give you our very best.

Devotion by Eric Reed, artwork by Kerry Jackson

EasterStep by Step: Following Jesus from the Palms Parade to the Resurrection

Day 2: Monday, March 24
Spring cleaning (Matthew 21:12-22)

Jesus created such a commotion that every pilgrim in Jerusalem must have been talking about it. Who would disrupt the holy transactions? Weren’t the bank tellers swapping Caesar’s money for acceptable temple coins to give their offerings? Weren’t the sellers offering animals for sacrifice? “We couldn’t come all this way with lambs under our arms?” some travelers might mutter.

“Who does he think he is!” the tongues likely wagged.

After the ruckus, Jesus and the disciples overnighted a few miles away in Bethany, possibly at home of the resurrected Lazarus.

Returning to Jerusalem the next day, Jesus cursed the fig tree. At first it seems unfair to the tree, but this action says it all: even good things become bad when they are unfruitful. Rituals are offensive when they replace the faith they are intended to aid. Anything that robs God of worship must be driven out.

Lord, we all could use some spring cleaning now. Examine me, Lord, and wipe away anything that prevents me from worshiping you.

Devotion by Eric Reed, artwork by Kerry Jackson

EasterStep by Step: Following Jesus from the Palms Parade to the Resurrection

Day 1: Palm Sunday, March 24
The pre-Easter parade (Matthew 21:1-11)

Crowds are fickle. One day they’re cheering, another they’re calling for execution. Such was the crowd that greeted Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem less than a week before His death.

At the time of Passover, up to 2 million people crowded into Jerusalem for the annual celebration of their ancestors’ deliverance from slavery. They greeted Jesus and his entourage as they would a king, making for him the red carpet of the times.

The parade goers declared him a King in the line of Israel’s great king David, answering the city’s question, “Who is this?” And they called out a Hebrew word meaning “save us now” to the One who would soon deliver their salvation. Yet, these shouts of “Hosanna!” would turn to “Crucify him!” before week’s end.

How can we explain their faltering commitment? Or ours?

Lord, open our eyes to see who you really are. Help us to hold you as our true King, and to never turn on you or away from you.

Devotion by Eric Reed, artwork by Kerry Jackson

Serena_McDonaldsCOMMENTARY | Serena Butler

When our small mission team arrived in New Orleans, we planned to roof houses for a week. We had packed hammers, squares and other tools, but when we arrived, we were asked to hang insulation instead.

The experience took me back to a time several years earlier, when I started my first dream job – working at McDonald’s. I was 16. With great excitement, I put on my new uniform and my mom drove me to my first shift. Little did I know that much of what I would learn over the next 7½ years would be utilized as I served on mission teams.

Like flexibility. Some days I would be at the grill all day. Others, I worked the counter for a few hours and then switched to fries. Still other days I would learn a new skill. One night, ten minutes before closing time, four buses pulled into the parking lot. Even when you’re tired from a long day, put a smile on your face and serve with graciousness.

That particular lesson has certainly come in handy on mission trips. In New Orleans, we quickly shifted gears and accepted our new assignment graciously. We gathered utility knives, staplers, work gloves and masks and started to work. And we gave individual assignments to each team member so we could operate more efficiently. Some cut the lengths of insulation while others stuffed it in the walls and ceiling before stapling it into place. Others made sure the area was clean of debris. When someone needed a break from their assignment, we rotated.

Being flexible often means relying on your team, because you realize pretty quickly you can’t do everything on your own. My first assignment at McDonald’s was toasting and dressing Big Mac buns. It was fairly simple, but had to be done in exactly 2 minutes and 30 seconds. On command from the manager, place the buns in the toaster. When the buzzer sounded, remove the buns and put on the right amount of sauce, onions, lettuce, cheese, and pickles. When I fell behind, the whole grill team (and our customers) suffered.

Similarly, as we installed insulation that week in New Orleans, we knew we had to finish our task, because a drywall team was coming in behind us.

Each time I go anywhere on mission, I try to remember these hard-earned lessons from my time at the Golden Arches. When I clock in, I want to be ready to do whatever task I am asked to do that day, and play my part on the team.

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

<p><a href=”″>CMD 2013 recap</a> from <a href=””>IL Baptist State Association</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

A story is told every year around this time, about a little girl from an IBSA church who knocked on the door of a crisis pregnancy center one Saturday in March. She wasn’t alone; bolstered by several others her age, she answered the question, “Who is it?” with a bold proclamation:

“We’re missionaries!”

It was Children’s Ministry Day, and the young missionary was delivering handmade blankets to mothers and babies in need.

Hundreds of kid took up her rallying cry in mid-March, as the third annual IBSA Children’s Ministry Day sent 900 volunteers into five communities. At the Mt. Vernon site, IBSA’s Rex Alexander told the story to help motivate more than 200 kids who gathered at Park Avenue Baptist Church before scattering to their ministry sites.

“The church is often guilty of overlooking children when it comes to mission action,” Alexander said later. “We send youth and adults on mission trips, but we limit mission involvement with children to teaching ‘about’ missions.

“Our kids are very capable of serving the Lord outside the walls of their church and having an impact on their world.”

Children’s Ministry Day is an Illinois expression of a nationwide initiative created by Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU). Mark Emerson, IBSA’s associate executive director for missions, has let the statewide project from the beginning, when it started in 2011 with several projects in the Springfield area. Children’s Ministry Day expanded to three last year, and this year, host associations coordinated various projects in five cities – Bourbonnais, Carbondale, Mt. Vernon, Springfield and Troy.

A total of 903 volunteers, including kids, their leaders and host site helpers, served at the most recent event, a 25% increase over last year. The number of churches represented also increased, from 50 to 64.

For more about Children’s Ministry Day, see the upcoming issue of the Illinois Baptist, online Friday at

Other news:

Alabama cop turns over badge
But Montgomery Police Chief Kevin Murphy did so willingly. While speaking at First Baptist Church as part of the 13th Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage to Alabama, Murphy (right in photo) gave his badge to U.S. Rep. John Lewis (left) and apologized to him on behalf of the police department, Baptist Press reports. The Georgia Congressman and long-time Civil Rights activist was beaten along with other Freedom Riders at a Montgomery bus station in 1961, while Montgomery police stood down. “He us my hero,” Murphy said of Lewis. Read the full story at

NAMB sends Bibles to every church
The North American Mission Board will send this spring a case of New Testaments to every Southern Baptist and Canadian National Baptist church. “If your church hasn’t been out in your community sharing Christ in a while, we think these Bibles are a great tool for outreach,” said NAMB President Kevin Ezell. The New Testaments are part of NAMB’s vision to see every Christian sharing the Gospel by 2020, and should arrive in churches by early April. Read more at

Tomlin gives spotlight to God
On any given Sunday, worship artist Chris Tomlin’s songs are sung in at least 60,000 churches. And it could be as many as 120,000, estimates Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI). In a recent CNN interview, Tomlin said he likes stepping back from the microphone during his concerts so he can listen to others worship. “It’s about a greater name than my name,” he told CNN. “My name is on the ticket, but this is about a greater name.” Read more at CNN’s belief blog.