Ghost of Easter Past
Fifteen years ago, on Good Friday, while watching Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, the Holy Ghost made a special visit. He drilled deep into my soul, causing me to be overcome with sorrow for my part in the death of Jesus. It was the beginning of a renewal of my Christian faith.
Raised in an authentic Christian home by two godly parents, I had met Jesus when I was a little girl. I embraced him fully, with the faith that only a young child can possess.
“But Jesus called the children to him and said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.'” ~ Luke 18:16-17
I was baptized at First Free Will Baptist Church in Hazel Park, a few blocks from where I lived. I vaguely remember Pastor Floyd plunging me under the water of the baptismal, but not much else from that day. I knew I made a public proclamation that Jesus is Messiah, he lived, was unjustly killed, paying the penalty for my sin, rose from the dead on the third day and I wanted to live for him and tell others to do the same. I knew then, as I know now, one day he is coming back the same way he went up into the heavens and I will have to stand before God to account for every careless word spoken.
Life went on. And on. And on. I grew in my faith and in wisdom, made many mistakes, and continued to regularly go to the Father for forgiveness. I met a godly man, married, finished my formal education, worked a few years outside the home, then we began a family and I committed to full-time parenting.
Four children later, the most recent a preschooler and the eldest on the cusp of teenager, God decided to mix things up a bit for me. He used Mel Gibson and a good high school friend to get the ball rolling. I'm not sure which happened first, but watching The Passion of the Christ and wondering at Jesus' words in Matthew 5:17-19, sent me on a years-long path of discovery.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:17-19
I'll continue to share more of this story in future posts. A little teaser, the year of this personal earthquake, a couple months after watching The Passion I ended up going by myself to a non-Messianic synagogue on Shavuot/Pentecost. I began to hang out with religious Jews, wondering, "Why don't YOU believe Jesus is Messiah?" Which led me to ask, "IS Jesus really the Messiah?"
Though we received a basket with special chocolates and themed gifts, my parents made sure their three children knew the true reason for Easter, Jesus--God's one and only son, who was crucified and on the third day, resurrected so that all who trust in him can have abundant and eternal life. Above, candid photos of me from 1971 - 1974 in the Shellnut home, Hazel Park, Michigan.
Mothers and Daughters: Three Sisters, Three Cousins
Last month I had the good pleasure of traveling to Florida with my mom and cousin to visit two dear aunts, an uncle and some more cousins. We had a wonderful time! The weather was beautiful and the time spent with family was decadent. We sat long and talked much. We ate well. We sunned often. We visited gorgeous sites of natural beauty, indulging in the glory of God's creation and engaging in the joy of physical activities therein.
From left, Mary, Dawn, Deborah, Margaret, Bonnie and Shawn, three mothers/sisters and three daughters/cousins - March 2023, Summerfield, Florida
From left, my dear mom, Bonnie, with her sisters, Mary and Margaret, two of my dear aunties!
Kayaking the crystal clear fresh waterways of central Florida with my two sweet cousins. Left, Deborah and I at Silver Glen Springs. Right, Dawn, Deborah and I at Rainbow Springs. Deborah and I found this small alligator, below, sunning itself in a small alcove at Silver Glen Springs. Super cool!
Below, clockwise from top left: cousins David, Dawn and Uncle Doug with me; Aunt Mary; Deborah; Aunt Margaret. Dawn and Deborah have many fond memories of helping their Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Bennie care for their three young children: me, my brother Jeremy and sister Heather. They recall folding lots of diapers, making peanut-butter chocolate no-bake cookies and playing with their baby cousins. I have a lifetime of fond memories of being with them and my Aunt Mary and Aunt Margaret. I was adopted into a wonderful family! Thank you, LORD!
Message to the Body of Messiah & Pastors: Will You Join Us?
Metro Detroit is home to about half of the state's abortion mills...
Twenty-eight thousand, four hundred and nine tiny humans died from abortion in Michigan in 2021. Wayne County lost the most: 11,617 (7,257 in Detroit; 4,360 outside Detroit.) Macomb County lost 3,139 children and Oakland County, 3,409 (vitalstats.michigan.gov/osr/abortion/AbortionNos.asp). See also Black Abortions By The Number here.
For perspective, this one year loss of life is equivalent to the catastrophic loss that would be experienced if everyone seated in Little Caesar's Arena and the pavilion of Pine Knob died instantaneously. Can you imagine the horror if this occurred? This is what is happening annually to Michigan's most helpless.
Women stream into these killing centers six days a week. Many distraught. Most determined. Some resolute. Some desperate. When they hire an abortionist, these women hope she/he will solve their problem. But the baby is not the problem. The problem is fear or anger. Abortionists sell false hope, along with a chemical or surgical extraction of the baby.
Christian Brothers and Sisters, when these women pursue this terrible lie, we ought to be there waiting for them outside the abortion mill doors, greeting them before they go in--warmly and genuinely--with a warning and an offer of true hope: loving emotional, physical and spiritual help.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
If all we have to offer are emotional support and physical resources, we fall short:
“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” ~ Mark 8:36
BUT, if we can offer those emotional and physical resources ALONG with THE ONLY HOPE for abundant life and true peace, we have met this mother's and father's true existential needs wholisitically.
Responding properly to the bad news of the gospel will drive us to our knees in repentance. And then the good news of the gospel will lift us to heights we could never even begin to imagine on our own.
“That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.'” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:9
As the Body of Christ, let's band together to send fully-funded, full-time missionaries in front of every Michigan abortion mill, lovingly calling out to women and men in their time of need, offering real hope and help.
There is a movement among Christian churches happening now to do just this. Let us love our neighbors--the moms, dads and babies entering and departing abortion mills. Please, join us in sending and supporting these missionaries! To get involved, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” ~ Matthew 25:40