Chocolate, Bunnies, Eggs and Jesus

216123_10150227693931098_1587212_nI was in Wal-Mart yesterday and there was this giant section marked EASTER, and in it were aisles and aisles of candy, chocolate, bunnies, baskets and egg decorating supplies.  They had bags of candy for baskets, candy for dishes, candy for kids, candy for adults, lollipops, M&M’s, peeps, bunnies and jelly beans in every flavor you could possible imagine including popcorn and cotton candy.  It was truly amazing, and as someone who really enjoys chocolate, almost more than even I could fathom.  There was chocolate in every variety, shape and size, even a giant solid chocolate bunny, at least two feet tall!

But as I walked up and down the aisles, I saw no sign of Jesus.

Somehow, the story of our Savior’s death on a cross and subsequent most amazing, most wonderful, rising from the grave three days later, has turned into a story of a big white bunny that brings baskets of colored eggs and candy to kids. But sometimes he doesn’t fill the baskets but rather hides eggs filled with candy all around yards and the kids have to go in search of the eggs.  And it becomes this amazing adventure to see who can get the biggest basket of eggs and little kids actually beat each other up trying to get the most eggs in their basket.

As much as I enjoy bunnies, they are soft and cuddly, they don’t lay eggs.  They have nothing to do with eggs.  Chickens lay eggs.  If you want to be technically correct on this whole egg deal, there should be an Easter Chicken.  At least that would be a little more realistic. A chicken should be delivering these eggs.  And no one loves chocolate more than I do but where does it really fit into this whole bunny – egg scenario?

Today at church I gave away chocolate in little colored eggs, I don’t have a problem with candy or eggs, but we didn’t go to church today to eat candy or hunt eggs.  We went to church to celebrate our Risen Savior, Jesus.

This is the real story behind Easter:  God wanted us to know how much he loved us.  So he sent his son, Jesus, to the earth, to live as a man, to teach us about God, to help us understand God’s great love for us.  But some of the people didn’t like Jesus; they didn’t believe he was the Son of God.  And they beat him to a pulp and nailed him to a cross.  And Jesus died, but on the third day, he rose from the grave.

We celebrate the fact that Jesus overcame death, and in doing so, gave everyone the same opportunity. If we believe in him, if we surrender our lives to him, we will live forever with him. For me, that is cause for celebration!

So, I don’t want you to think I have anything against chocolate or bunnies or eggs, because I don’t.  But as you pop another little chocolate egg into your mouth, remember who really is the reason for this amazing celebration!

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.   – John 3:16,17

 

 

 

The In Between

in betweenToday is the day in between.  In between the death and resurrection of Jesus.  We observe Good Friday as the day Jesus died on the cross for us.  We celebrate Resurrection Sunday (Easter) as the day he rose from the dead.  But what happened in between?

In the in between, Jesus was overcoming death.  In the in between He was very busy on our behalf.  I really don’t know the logistics of how.  And honestly, I don’t need to know right now.  Someday I will know.  The Apostle Paul tells us:  For we know in part and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.  (I Corinthians 13:9-10)

But what I do know is that even when it seemed to His disciples that nothing was happening, he was working behind the scenes for their (our) behalf.

Sometimes we are in the death day.  Sometimes we are in the life day.  And sometimes we are in the in between.  And it seems like nothing is happening.  But know that Jesus is always working behind the scenes on your behalf!

 

Introduction

If God is So Good Official Picture (663x1024)I was telling a couple of friends the other day the title of this book, and it reminded me of a story. I shared it with them, and they encouraged me to share it with you, so  here goes.

Several years ago, on Valentine’s Day, I gave birth to my stillborn son, Chance Daniel Schneider. It broke my heart and my spirit, and even though I loved Jesus, my heart just couldn’t bear the pain.

I tried to believe all the good Christian statements that people told me: “God has a plan” and “God knows best.” But truthfully, at the time, all I could see or feel was pain.

And I didn’t like it. I wanted to escape it. I had prescriptions for Valium and sleeping pills, and I took them faithfully. And the pain was a bit numbed. But I had a history with substance abuse and addictions, and I knew if I continued taking the pills, I would. And things would not go well in my life. But I really didn’t care. The pain was too deep.

But one day, God told me to throw away the pills, that it was time to heal, not escape. I didn’t want to, but I obeyed him. And I started healing. But as in all healing processes, if you pick the scab, the healing will be hindered, and I picked my scab. All the time.

I just couldn’t quit thinking about Chance, and I couldn’t release  the  pain  to  God. And  one  day, I  decided  I  didn’t want to. I wanted the pain because I wanted to feel my baby, and it was all I had left.

I had been in a counseling session one morning, but nothing was clicking in my mind, and I left that day, headed straight to refill my prescriptions. I knew where this path would take me, but I just didn’t care. I was too consumed with my pain to think clearly or rationally. A friend tried to convince me that “only God…” But I wasn’t listening or receiving.

At the grocery store, there was a long line at the pharmacy, and I didn’t feel like standing still, so I headed over to the deli counter with the intention of picking up some sandwich meat and then getting the scripts filled.

There was a line at the deli as well, so as I took my number, and as I looked around, I saw a book rack nearby. One of the books caught my eye, If God Is so Good, Why Do I Hurt So Bad? Boy, isn’t that the truth? I thought. I picked up the book and started reading. And the words on those pages were like a salve to my broken heart. I could not put that book down, and fifteen minutes later, when my purchase was handed to me, I put the book in my cart and walked past the pharmacy and headed home.

I read every page in that book that day, and God used the words to comfort and heal my broken heart. I never refilled those medications. I never went back to numbing the pain away. I allowed God to work; I allowed him to heal me.

I sat down that day and wrote how I was feeling, and in the writing, the pain was released. Those pages went on   to become part of my first book, Chili and Chocolate Cake,  a book that has helped so many through the pain of loss through abortions, miscarriage, or stillbirths.

When I was thinking about the title of this book, God brought that book back to my memory and gave me this, If God is so Good, Why is My Life Such a Mess? title. God is really good, but for so long, my life was really a mess! Why? And if that is my story, how many others share the same story? And how many others will find healing and hope through these pages?

So this is my prayer: that the title of this book caught your eye and you picked it up and in reading it, God is healing your hurting heart and helping you to be whole and complete, through his great love!

Excerpt from If God Is So Good, Why Is My Life Such A Mess?  by Joyce Schneider 

Click here to purchase from Amazon.com

Biting The Hand That Feeds You

If God is So Good Official Picture (663x1024)God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  —John 3:17

I remember a couple of years ago, it was the last day of school and there was an air of excitement as we headed to the school bus. Beginning of summer vacation is always a special time, and the boys were wound for sound. My plan was to put them on the bus and then head off to work, hoping to be done early to spend the afternoon with them. Things went really well up to the point where the boys got on the bus, and I was heading back to my truck. But then I took a detour from my usual routine and, as they say, best laid plans.

I noticed that the other school bus mom was leaning over the drainage ditch looking at something. She called me over, and I discovered a kitty trapped down under the steel grate. We tried to lift the grate up so the cat could escape, but it was pretty heavy. At one point, she had it up and I was trying to grab the kitty, and it ran from me and fell into the cesspool that was in the back of the ditch. The poor thing was squealing and crying and drowning, and we were desperate to save it. It finally found its way out of the murk and was crouched on the edge of the pool.

We found a big stone to wedge under the grate, and once more, I attempted to dislodge the kitty. My hand was the only one that fit in the opening hence I was elected to grab the cat. I reached for it again, and this time, I got a hold on it by the back of the neck and lifted it out. I was wondering what I was going to do with it when all of a sud- den I got my answer. It flipped its head around, grabbed my finger, and bit me very hard in my knuckle, scratching and clawing me in the process. And I did what came naturally: I dropped that cat and grabbed my finger. But the damage was done. Blood was gushing everywhere, and the cat had disappeared into the woods.

As I saw it running off, it occurred to me that I had not rescued someone’s pet but rather a wild cat, and immedi- ately, the thought of rabies ran across my mind. Oh my. There I stood, on the street corner, with my finger bleeding terribly and the cat gone and the other mom looked at me and said I better get my finger looked at, then she left me there to fend for myself.

I’m not so good with blood, and I figured I’d probably faint, so I knew I had to get home. I jumped in my truck and dashed home, running up the stairs and into the kitchen to run water over my wound. One look at the blood pouring out, and my head got all woozy, and I made it to the couch just in time to make a quick call to my neighbor for help,   and then I passed   out.

My  neighbor  came  over  and  doctored  me  up;  then I decided that I best go see the real doctor. I kept having visions of that scrawny little kitten biting me and the question “What if it had rabies?” just wouldn’t leave my mind. It was not a house pet, it lived in the woods, and who knew what disease it might carry? I needed to get my finger checked  out.

The good news: no rabies shots. The doctor did want me to go on an antibiotic; cats carry a lot of bacteria, and infection is prevalent in their bites. My finger hurt for a long time. The cat had got me right in my knuckle, but no infection, no rabies came from it.

I couldn’t help but think how I had saved that little kit- ty’s life, and then it had turned around and bit me. And if it had given me a chance, I probably would have brought it home and taken care of it. I wasn’t going to leave it in the street. I had wanted to make sure it was okay. But it hadn’t given me the opportunity. It had turned on me and attacked me.

And at first I was really annoyed. That cat had really put a damper on my day. Instead of heading off to work, I had to go to the doctor’s. Instead of excitement for the day ahead, I was concerned about the damage the cat had done to my finger, praying that there would be no long- term consequences.

But then I started thinking about the way I treat Jesus.

He died on the cross for me. So that I could have life eternal with him. And no, I didn’t physically bite him, but I hurt him worse with my rejection. I would not acknowledge him or let him into my life. He had so much for me, but I ran away from him.

I was just like that kitty, ungrateful to my Savior.

I’ve forgiven the cat. I’m so thankful Jesus forgave me.

Excerpt from If God is So Good, Why Is My Life Such A Mess?  by Joyce Schneider 

Available on Amazon.com  

 

 

Killer Snakes

If God is So Good Official Picture (663x1024)

Isaiah 43:1–3 says, “But now, this is what the lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have sum- moned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through   the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not  set you ablaze. For I am the lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.’”

Life will have struggles. We will pass through trials. But with our hope in Jesus, the trials will not overcome us; we will pass through them.

There is a story in Numbers 21. Moses was leading the children of Israel  through  the  wilderness. And  they  were so much like we are today. Some days they would be really faithful and follow God, but other times, they wanted to do their  own thing.

The people were constantly grumbling and complaining against God. They would not listen to Moses. And God needed to get their attention. So he sent venomous snakes into the land, and many of the people died.

But God loves us so much he always provides a way out of sin and death. The people repented for their wicked ways. And God had Moses make a bronze snake that was erected on a pole. And anyone who was bitten could look at the bronze snake, and they would live. They looked to the stick, and they lived!

We are just like the Israelites; we have snakes in our  lives. They can be drugs, lust, depression, infidelity, financial issues—the list goes on and on. You know what your snake is, but God provided a stick to save you! He sent his one and only son for you, to die on the cross, so that you can live! If you look to the cross, if you believe and receive Jesus, you too can live!   (Excerpt from If God is So Good, Why is My Life Such a Mess!)  

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Blessed

blessed areI hear many people talk about being blessed.  They usually are referring to their family, their finances or their health. And yes, there are many blessings that God bestows upon us.  But today I was reading a story in Matthew about how Jesus referred to being blessed.  It was a little different.  He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad,because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:3-12)

 

Poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungry and thirsty for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, persecuted for being righteous, being insulted, and treated wrongly.

That is quite a different list of blessings.

The Jesus Way is always the opposite of the world’s way.  I want to be blessed.  I will endure whatever it takes.   Help me to see life through your eyes Jesus!

He Said / She Said – Who Are You Listening To?

He Said – She Said – Who Are You Listening To?

he_said_she_said_banner_v2In I Chronicles 19, the king of the Ammonites died. King David had a good relationship with him, so he decided to send some of his men to the King’s son, to express his sympathy for the father’s passing. But the son’s advisers put ideas in the son’s head, that the men were coming to see him to do harm to him and his country. So when David’s men arrived, the Ammonites treated them very disrespectfully and embarrassed them greatly. When David heard of this, he sent his soldiers to attack the Ammonites and they ended up defeated by David’s army. They lost their freedom, their homes, their families. And it could have all been avoided, had the King’s son not listened to his friends, but simply spoke to David’s men to see their intentions himself.

So many times, we listen to the wrong people and we get the wrong information and we make decisions based on untruths. And those lies destroy. They destroy families and they destroy friendships. They destroy jobs and finances. They destroy lives.

The Word says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 14:6).
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life! I want to listen to Him! I want to be free!