by John Doyle
by John Doyle
by Graham Mol
When it comes to Easter there is certainly no shortage of worship songs that focus on the message of the Cross and the Resurrection. This is with good reason too. Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection is the heart of the Gospel message. Countless song writers have been inspired by the depth of Christ’s love, the cost of forgiveness and the power and glory of the resurrection.
In light of this fact I have decided to put together a short playlist (a bit under an hour’s worth) of songs that tell and reflect upon the story of Easter. I pray that as you listen to these songs in the days leading up to Easter, they would help you appreciate the depth of Christ’s love and sacrifice, and the joy and exultation of His victory over death and the grave as He rose.
Beginning with the cries of Hosanna! that welcomed Jesus into the city of Jerusalem, the songs move from Christ’s obedience to the will of God to the passion of His love displayed on the Cross and ends with the upbeat rhythms of joy in declaring “Hallelujah, Jesus is alive!”
You can listen to the playlist on YouTube
Or on Spotify
by Caryl Moll
We have a beautiful, 30-year-old White Stinkwood tree in our garden. It’s very tall now, and its branches stretch out in lavish celebration of the role it plays in our lives. Not only does it provide shade, but it is home to a myriad of visiting birds, including a pair of nesting Starlings. In the summer time, Rameron pigeons leisurely scout its upper branches for seasonal berries. Some nights, I wonder out into the garden with a torch to take in the beauty of this tree and also to spot the variety of birds that seek shelter in its branches. I love our tree.
Our tree has been through a lot over the years, including a re-planting when it was very young (to make space for our swimming pool). Since then, it has survived many seasons and many storms. About five years ago, it fell victim to one of Johannesburg’s notorious and furious thunderstorms. As the storm raged, we heard a mighty “C-RACK!” coming from the garden. It left us all shivering. When things had finally settled down, we ventured out to see what had happened. What a sight!
Half of our tree was lying across the boundary wall. Effectively, the tree had been split in half by the storm and its large stem and branches had rearranged my neighbour’s garden and driveway. I couldn’t believe how big it was and the damage its mass had caused. We had to call in tree fellers to clear up the mess. It took a few truck loads.
But what were we to do with the remaining half of the tree? It looked fairly secure. In the end we decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and left it to heal…
Today, our tree occupies centre stage in our garden. It’s a wonderful specimen and continues to bless us with vibrancy and interesting occupants.
A couple of days ago I ventured out to spend some time in its shade. It has grown so big again. Really flourishing! I decided to give it a ‘hug’ to see how wide its girth had grown, but it’s now too big for my arms to fit around. Instead, I got to study it from all angles. And this led me to an incredible discovery…
Although the tree has healed up nicely, its scar is still very evident. But I also discovered a long, steel rod trapped inside its base. (My gardener must have left it there at some stage over the past five years.) To my amazement, the tree has made a plan to deal with the rod. … It has literally embraced the rod and grown its stem around it. The tree’s silent strength is evident in the fact that the rod is now bent at an amazing angle. It has literally crushed it into place and there’s no way to detach it. I can’t believe how a STEEL rod can be bent by the slow growth of one of God’s incredible life forms…our tree! How had I missed this marvel?
So today, I think that our tree has a lesson for us all. So often we can be hindered in our goals by what we consider to be a ‘thorn in our own flesh”. We forget that it is possible to flourish even with these “thorns of life”. We can even embrace our ‘thorns’ and live abundantly. Even the Bible reminds us of this fact. In 1 Corinthians 12:8-9, Paul enlightens us:
“… I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
We can all try to remember that, no matter what we are going through, or facing in our lives, that GOD’s grace is sufficient for us. Indeed, it is made perfect in weakness.
If our tree can embrace its own ‘thorn in its flesh’, I am sure we can too.
With love, in Christ
by Luke Kincaid
I have been going through a spiritually dry time. It has been a challenge and I feel as if I am struggling to communicate with and hear from God. If you have ever been through this before you will know that it is really difficult and something that you don’t wish to experience. Yesterday, while at home, I walked outside and came across this beautiful sight:
And in that moment, I just stopped what I was doing and stared at this beautiful creation of God. I instantly felt connected to my Father in heaven as I was reminded of His covenant with Noah and all living creatures:
9 “Understand that I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you—birds, livestock, and all wildlife of the earth that are with you—all the animals of the earth that came out of the ark. 11 I establish my covenant with you that never again will every creature be wiped out by floodwaters; there will never again be a flood to destroy the earth. 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all future generations: 13 I have placed my bow in the clouds, and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I form clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all the living creatures: water will never again become a flood to destroy every creature. 16 The bow will be in the clouds, and I will look at it and remember the permanent covenant between God and all the living creatures on earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and every creature on earth.” – Genesis 9:9-17
While thinking about this promise of God I shared a quiet moment in prayer with my Father and was reminded that even though God might seem far away from me, this couldn’t be further from the truth as He is always available to me – even when I don’t feel it. And while thinking through the promises of God I came across an article online entitled: 11 Promises from Scripture God Wants You to Know (and Why) on ibelieve.com. I want to share a few of these promises with you along with scripture references so that you can be reminded of these truths regardless of what you are going through right now in this moment:
God Loves You Unconditionally (Romans 8:38-39)
You Are Never Alone (Deuteronomy 31:6 & Matthew 28:19-20)
God Formed You with Intention and Knows You Intimately (Psalm 121 & Ephesians 2:10)