Sunday, April 20, 2014

And He will raise you up...

Happy Easter!! Also, good morning. It is early and almost bright here in Southern Florida on this beautiful Easter morning! We will be going to Mass in one hour in order to praise the Lord on this holy day :) Lucky me! Easter Sunday mass is always more crowded than the rest of the year. I think it is both a glorious thing but also a little bit sad too. It is beyond wonderful that so many people get to hear the Gospel message in a morning but if everyone realized the extreme importance and meaning of Easter in Christianity than they would be there every single week singing and praising the Lord. Easter is wonderful! Jesus died for us and He overcame death so we could live with Him for eternity.

Ever since I started studying my faith over the past year ("my journey") I've come to learn so many awesome things about Jesus and scripture that I just should have known. For a long time I would be sitting in Mass counting down the minutes until Mass was over. Going to church on Sunday seemed to be more of a chore than anything. Unfortunately and sadly through my fallen state, my sinful state, and my selfish state I would have rather done something "fun" or sleep in. It's really sad, but obviously my heart was not in the right place. However, one of the really awesome things about God is that no matter how far you stray He will continue to tug on your heart strings and call you back to Him. We are His lost sheep and He is not going to stop guiding us in back to Himself. That's what is so great about His love and His mercy. We are sinners and He hates sin. Sin is offending God. It is us choosing something, anything over loving God. Even though we are fallen and we may pull away and we sin, even though we may stray from the path or lose hope in times of trials or tribulations, God is constant and His love is constant. We sin but He doesn't love us any less. That is why Easter is so important because the past few days, the past week have magnified how great His love is for us. He knows His plans and He knew humanity needed a savior that's why He sent Jesus. Jesus died as a sacrifice to save us from our sins and He rose from the dead in a defeat over death, over sin.

Not only did He die and rise from the dead but the way He did so fulfilled scripture. In my new found studies, I have learned a lot from people much more versed in theology and the Bible than myself. A few awesome tidbits I have learned about Jesus and Christianity (some I did know, others I had not connected).

1. Jesus is the lamb. At the Last Supper, Jesus was celebrating the Passover with His disciples. The sacrifice at the Passover was a lamb. Lamb's blood was placed over the door of the Jewish families in Egypt so that their house would be passed over and their first born son would not die under God's wrath. Jesus was celebrating this day with His disciples and just as the lamb was the sacrifice that saved them from death (physical), Christ's sacrifice saved us from death (spiritual). He gave His body and His blood so we could live anew.
(I knew this one!)

2. Jesus' sacrifice started in the upper room with the disciples and did not end until He surrendered His soul on the cross. Like I said before, Jesus was celebrating the Passover with His disciples the night before His death. During the Passover celebration, there are four cups that are drunk at the feast. The first cup is the cup of sanctification based on God's promise to deliver them from the burdens of the Egyptians. Next is the cup of deliverance representing God's promise to deliver His people from Egypt's slavery. Third is the cup of redemption which is for God's promise to redeem them with outstretched arms. After the third cup is passed around a hymn is sung.  At the last supper, before the hymn is sung, Jesus proclaims, "I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29) Therefore, not all four cups were drunk at the last supper. In fact, Jesus does not drink the fourth cup until right before He surrenders His soul on the cross when He is given the sponge soaked in wine. The fourth cup of the Passover celebration is the cup or praise or restoration based on God's statement "I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God." 

The way Christ fulfills scripture is profound and incredible. 

Last one! 3. Jesus on the cross says "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me." In the words that seem to be ones of despair He is actually reciting scripture! Psalm 22 in fact! I won't spoil it, but go read it! (Matthew 26-27 and Psalm 22)

It is amazing to me how Jesus fulfills what is prophesied in the Old Testament.

He is amazing and Easter is amazing! It is a great day to spread the joy of Christ's death and resurrection. It is a great day to really be an example of His love and mercy (everyday is good to do that).

I started this post in the morning and didn't get to complete it until this evening since we went to Mass and celebrated. The church was decorated beautifully the way that St. Thomas More always is on holidays.

They were giving a free book out at Church which adds to my collection. I'll be starting a library soon :) It will be full of books on Christianity, Paleo, and wedding planning.

I've only gotten four new books in the past two weeks. I was given this book on Church History from a Greek Orthodox perspective this weekend as well.

My current book line up is the two marriage books my fiance and I have to read (The Five Love Languages and The Meaning of Marriage). I am also reading Theology of the Body and The Confessions of St. Augustine right now.

After I finish enriching my mind and soul with those in my truth-seeking, I'm going to be looking at Church history through multiple vantage points. I'll be getting at least three books on church history: one from a Catholic perspective, one from a Protestant perspective, and one from a Greek Orthodox perspective. I have one out of the three thanks to my grandpa and my mother :). I'm excited to start this so I can see how Christianity has evolved and changed from the time of Jesus, through the major splits in Christianity, through the sexual revolution (contraception and abortion are just harmful to society and to our souls), and to today. Since these are the three big splits, it will hopefully really show how and why we all ended up where we are today.

I cannot wait. I also cannot express how blessed I am! I got a wonderful surprise this weekend. On Friday evening I was told I was picking my father up at the airport from a business trip. Once I got to the airport, though, there was the best surprise ever! My fiance flew down for the weekend to celebrate Easter with me and to do wedding planning.

We tasted delicious cakes.

We planned a wedding dinner menu.
We played mini-golf, wits and wagers, and multiple rounds of nickle and dime poker ($2  is pretty low stakes) with the family.
We made homemade, paleo approved! guacamole and deviled eggs (with homemade paleo mayo)

We celebrated Jesus!
It was a wonderful, blessed weekend.
I am so excited for the wedding. There are 139 days left and then there will be no more good-byes.

I really am so thankful for everything the past year has brought. There have been challenges and there will be challenges in the future. It's good. No. It's amazing to know how much joy can be found if we put our trust and our hope in our Savior. If we trust God with our lives and with our hearts He will guide us to what is best for us. He will lead us to Him. He will catch us when we fall. He will give us strength when we are weak. He will give us hope when we are despairing. He will teach us how to love because if we love like Jesus there is no better way to share that joy with a soul than to proclaim Christ through our love and our actions. When we love, we glorify the father.

At mass today, people clapped after the homily message. Almost immediately, Father Vargas gave all the credit to Jesus. He said "for Jesus". He is a true example of humility. I wish I could be more humble. I pray that I become more humble because in the end it really all is for Jesus. It all belongs to God just as we do and our hearts yearn to be home with Him in heaven for eternity. Make your life count for the important things. Love like Christ. Live like Christ.

I pray for his continued help in all my weakness and I ask everyday that He helps me overcome my struggles and my sins. I know I'm weak and need a savior which is why Easter is so important because I know I have a savior. I ask that God bless you on this joyous day and everyday. I pray that you let God change your heart and mine towards Him and His plans. I pray that you seek and find truth and that you understand that you are loved by the best person who knows how to love you. I hope you know that no love can ever compare to God's love for us but it doesn't mean you should strive any less to love others like He does.

I hope you pray for me because I am weak and impatient and sometimes have a shorter fuse than I'd like. I hope you know that whenever I write about sin (specifically contraception and abortion) I want you, reader, whoever you may be to know that I am never judging you. Ever. I sin. Every. Single. Day. All sin is equally shameful in God's eyes. My sin is no better or worse than your sin. I want to write what I believe to be true and I want you to remember that God forgives. This doesn't mean keep sinning. We need Him to change our hearts away from sin. God understands our human nature (remember that guy Jesus? He was fully human and fully divine). Look up always. Open your heart and remember that we all sin differently because we all have different struggles and temptations. None of us are less loved by God and His kingdom is open to us who look to our Savior who died and rose to save us all.

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