My Never-to-be-a-Best-Selling Book

Photo 136153806 / Easter © Udra11 | Dreamstime.com

In April of 2019, I wrote Bite-sized Theology for Little Bits, a series of theological concepts on the lower shelf for younger readers. 

My first topic? Sin. Hence, the never-to-be-a-best-seller blog title. 

But God put His fingerprints all over it. He even woke me up at 2 am to work on it.

So, what better time to address sin than April? At Eastertime. 

SIN: Bite-Sized Theology for Little Bits

By Gayle Veitenheimer

Sin. Bad. God. Good.

Sin. Stains. God. Spotless.

What is sin? It’s inside. It’s outside.

A thought. A word. 

An act. A me first. A you never.  

How did we get sin? The first man sinned. And brought sin to us all.

We can’t escape. We’re stuck. 

Can’t wash it off. Can’t work it away. Can’t reach the One who can. 

Stuck.

But God. 

God can wash us. God did the work. God can reach us.

How? A trade.

Our sin for His holiness. Our faith for His grace. Our heart for His Spirit.

But the old parts, the mind, the body, need training to match the new heart.

So, we battle.

When we lose, we confess, and God forgives.

But more and more, 

we win. 

There is a ridiculous amount of biblically based theology in this little piece. Theologians endlessly debate man’s level of depravity and the effects of God’s grace. 

For me, apart from Jesus, I am one selfish, prideful person who looks out for number one. Apart from Jesus, I not only remember your trespasses, but I also resent them and hold a grudge. 

But with Jesus?

I am changed. My story reads differently.

The fruit of the Spirit grows, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, though in a variety of stages. 

When we understand the extent of our depravity and our inability to fix it, Easter gains depth. 

The painful, bloody sacrifice Jesus made drives us to our knees in thanks, then lifts us to our feet with victory on our lips.

Let’s be intentional about what we’re celebrating. 

This is bigger than bunnies and baskets. 

Sin. Death. Evil. 

Conquered.

For eternity.

Starting here and now with you and me.

Because God loves lost and broken people enough to make a way home through the shed blood of His perfect Son. 

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.

Family Activities:

1. Construct a simple cross. List your sins. Past and present. Include the shameful ones that haunt you. Nail them to the cross. I mean it. Get the hammer. Pound the nails. And leave that sin where it belongs. On the cross.

2. Talk about the elements required for God to forgive sin. What did sin cost for both sinner and Savior?

3. Watch The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or The Passion of the Christ, depending on the age of your crowd.

4. Please enjoy making baskets and hunting eggs too. Glenys Nellist, Josie Siler, and Laura Sassi, just to name a few, have great Easter books to fill your baskets.

5. Here are some activities for Passion Week.

Submission: More Than a Conqueror

One of the strangest scenes in Scripture occurs in the Easter story. My trusty NIV reads:

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. John 18:1-3 NIV

The study notes don’t add much. Sounds like the Pharisees dragged along a handful of soldiers just to make the group look official.

However, the NASB says:

When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, in which He entered with His disciples. Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place, for Jesus had often met there with His disciples. Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 

A cohort was a battalion of six hundred men. Six hundred! At Gethsemane! And the commanding officer (v. 12) referred to a chiliarch who commanded one thousand troops. But wait—it gets better. Here are verses 4-6:

So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 

They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” 

He said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. So when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

God’s power stretches way beyond the borders of my comprehension. The Red Sea parting, David’s defeat of Goliath, Daniel’s protection from the lions—all boggle my mind. But this? Jesus simply speaks. Three words. Knees buckle, weapons clatter to the ground, and six hundred Roman soldiers faceplant in the Judean dirt as the power of Almighty God ripped through Gethsemane like a tidal wave.

And then He submitted to them. For you and for me. 

To the phony trials. 

To Herod’s antics.

To Pilate’s politics.

To the scourging.

To the mockery of a thorny crown and a purple robe.

To the rejection of His people.

To the curse of sin. 

He didn’t have to. He told Pilate as much. He chose to. For you and for me. 

Celebrate His submission this Easter, and let’s practice some submission of our own. For in submission, we too are more than conquerors. 

Crowded: Easter Sunday

Crowded: Easter Sunday

The crowd at the tomb. Not a crowd really, but a small gathering. A bevy of ladies. A group of gals. A mass of Marys. Between the Gospel writers, we compile this list: 

  • Mary Magdalene
  • Joanna the wife of Cuza who managed Herod’s household 
  • Mary the mother of James and Joses 
  • Salome the wife of Zebedee and mother of James and John 
  • Others with them, possibly Mary’s sister/Jesus’ aunt, and Mary the wife of Clopas. Luke (8:3) also mentions Susanna and others who helped financially support Jesus and the disciples during His ministry from their own means. 

The women brought finishing touches to Joseph and Nicodemus’ work from Friday. The men had performed a hasty burial as they fought the setting sun for time: seventy-five pounds of myrrh and aloes and strip after strip of linen. 

Matthew records the event (emphasis mine):

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.

The women came at dark-thirty Easter morning, looking for a corpse. 

They left having seen angels and a risen Savior. 

Why these ladies first? Why not John? Or Peter? Or even Jesus’ mother? 

Because Jesus made room for women. 

In His public ministry. 

At Lazarus’ house. 

At the empty tomb. 

He’s made room for you too. 

Workout of the Week: Crowded: Easter Sunday

Memory Verse: “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. ‘Greetings’ he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.” (Matthew 28:8-9)

Meditation Passage: Matthew 28:1-9

Do It: Make room for Him.

The Outpouring

The Outpouring

Mary held the bottle with trembling hands. She’d planned this for weeks. Martha saw her, smiled, and nodded. Deep voices bantered over sweet figs and salty cheese. Mary slipped into the room and knelt behind Jesus. The men reclining at the table gave her little more than a nod.

Until she broke the flask.

The fragrance of the nard overpowered everything in the room. The roasted lamb. The lamp oil. The body odor. The silence threatened to suffocate Mary as every eye bore down on her.

Jesus never flinched as a thin stream of perfume kissed his head, slid down his dark curls, and dampened his tunic. She moved to his feet. Flies buzzed around the figs but no one stirred. She drizzled his feet with the ointment and wiped them, not with a towel, but with her hair.

The first rebuke hit her like a slap in the face. Others followed, a verbal stoning. Her eyes scanned the room and caught Martha’s shocked face, Lazarus’ flashing eyes. These were their friends. Judas. James. Thaddeus. Guests in their home. Anger and shame battled within Mary. Their words rattled her.

A waste?

She looked at Jesus as tears threatened to join the nard.

Never!

 

The passage of Mary’s anointing of Jesus scares me. Scares me because Jesus’ twelve disciples as well as other followers condemn a dear friend’s extravagant act of worship. Honor, approval, and reverence for the gift given to the Master, I could understand. Perhaps even a spontaneous time of worship.

Instead, I see harshness and judgment.

From the insiders.

The intimates.

Over worship.

Over placing God ahead of need.

Over giving thanks instead of charity.

It scares me because I’ve been harsh and judgmental too.

They called it a waste.

Somehow they missed that God is into outpouring.

  • Jesus’ Blood: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28 NIV)
  • Holy Spirit: “Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.” (Acts 2:33)
  • God’s Love: “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)
  • Grace: “The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 1:14)

A waste? Never!

As Passion Week progressed, the aroma of Mary’s perfume lingered. Its fragrance drifted through the Temple court as Jesus overturned the tables. It mingled with the roasted lamb during Passover. It blended with His blood in Gethsemane and scented the thorny crown on the cross. A hint of it rose from the cloth folded neatly in the tomb. And those same disciples, minus Judas, smelled just a touch in the upper room when the resurrected Jesus appeared.

We serve an extravagant God. A God of outpouring.

Does He not deserve such outpouring from us?

A waste? Never!

Workout for the Week: The Outpouring

Memory Verse: Choose one of the verses above.

Meditation Passage: Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12: 1-7

Just Do It: Pour out for someone this week.

Covered By The Lamb

Covered by the Lamb

Flocks of lambs frolic, bleat, and bleed their way through Scripture.

Old Testament fathers paint the doorframes with the blood of the first Passover lambs. Priests butcher lambs, following Moses’ instructions to the letter for sacrificial atonement.

Fast forward to the New Testament. A roughly clad figure in need of a haircut points a grubby finger at an unassuming man in his thirties, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

That same Lamb, bloody and beaten to a pulp, offers Himself on a splintered, Roman cross.

Time travel to the Book of Revelation. The same Lamb breaks seals and puts an end to the evil one.

But let’s flash back. To the beginning. As creation still shudders from the quake of the Fall, we read, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them” (Gen 3:21NIV).

Because God clothes Adam and Eve’s children the same way today:

  • Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.(Romans 13:14)
  • “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:26-27)
  • “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)
  • “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’” (1 Peter 5:5)

He covered us. Traded His innocence for our guilt. His righteousness for our unrighteousness.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.(Romans 8:1-3)

No condemnation. You’re covered.

Workout of the Week: Covered By The Lamb

Memory Verse: “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them” Genesis 3:21NIV

Meditation Passage: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.”   Romans 8:1-3

Just Do It: Clothe yourself with the Lamb.