29 April 2014

BSF 2013-2014: Matthew 28

Last week, we left Jesus in the tomb after His crucifixion. But He didn’t stay there long!

Jesus was crucified on Friday. On Sunday (after the Passover), some of Jesus’ female followers go to Jesus’ tomb with the intention of anointing Jesus for His burial. There is a violent earthquake. Two angels come down from heaven. They are as bright as lightning, and their clothes are as white as snow. The Roman guards charged with watching over the tomb fall down like dead men.

The women are afraid. Mary Magdalene runs away to tell Peter and John. The angels tell the women to come and see the empty tomb and then go and tell others.

Later Mary Magdalene is crying outside the tomb. Jesus approaches her and calls her by name. She recognizes her risen Savior. Jesus also appears to the other women who were at the tomb. They fall down at His feet and worship Him. Jesus instructs the women to tell his brothers (the disciples) to meet Him in Galilee.

Jesus’ resurrection:
  • proves He is the Son of God.
  • verifies the truth of Scripture.
  • assures us of our future resurrection.
  • is proof of a future judgment.
  • is the basis for Christ’s heavenly priesthood.
  • gives us power for Christian living.
  • ensures our future inheritance.
  • proves the power of God.
Because Jesus resurrected from death, sin no longer has victory over believers. Because Jesus lives, all believers will live forever. The same power that resurrected Jesus from the dead is the same power that lives in every believer.

Because of Jesus’ resurrection:
  • I can face tomorrow.
  • I have a future.
  • I have the Holy Spirit.
  • I have a living hope.
  • I have an inheritance.
  • I can live by faith.
  • I am secure in Christ.
  • I will live eternally with my Savior and other believers.
  • I can know Jesus Himself and participate in His sufferings.
  • I can set my heart and my mind on eternal things.
  • Jesus lives forever to intercede on my behalf.
The guards were eyewitnesses who could prove that Jesus resurrected. They share their story with the religious leaders. But instead of believing in Jesus’ resurrection, the religious leaders concoct a false story, claiming that the disciples stole Jesus’ body. The religious leaders also offer a bribe to the guards to share this false story. The guards accept the money and agree to spread the lie.

The disciples themselves doubted Jesus’ resurrection, so why would they have stolen Jesus’ body?!

Next Jesus meets two of His followers on the road to Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. As the two men discuss everything that had happened over the last three days, Jesus joins them on the road. His identity is hidden from the men.

Jesus explains all of the Scriptures to them and how He had fulfilled all of the prophecies. Then while eating dinner together, Jesus opens the men’s eyes so they could recognize Him.

One week later, Jesus appears to the disciples in the upper room. Thomas puts his fingers in the nail prints in Jesus’ hands and his hand in the hole in Jesus’ side. Jesus appears to more than 500 people over 40 days.

After 40 days, Jesus takes His disciples to a mountain in Galilee. Jesus tells them to go and make disciples of all nations. Jesus promises to be with them always. This is called the Great Commission.

There are five parts to the Great Commission:
  • Go – Obey Jesus’ command as you go about your everyday life.
  • Make disciples – A disciple is a lifelong learner, someone who accepts the teachings of Christ.
  • Baptize – This is an outward confession of an inward decision to follow Christ.
  • Teach – Jesus said His disciples should teach all that He commanded.
  • The promise – Jesus will be with us as we do these things.
Jesus didn’t give the Great Commission just to His 11 apostles. He also gave us the Great Commission. Christians today are called to be solid, truthful, faithful witnesses for Christ.

And just like that, our BSF year is over! I’ll give one final recap of my personal study next week.

Things to Think About
  • Resurrection is the passing from existence in a fallen, decaying human body to existence in an eternal, glorified body.
  • Jesus’ death paid the price of sin for me. His resurrection gives me power over sin. Sin no longer has control over me. Am I claiming this power to defeat sin in my life?
  • Am I listening to what people say about Jesus, or am I discovering the truth for myself?
  • Am I obeying the Great Commission?

26 April 2014

30-week appointment

I finally had a normal and easy OB appointment yesterday.

Two weeks ago was the big appointment with the ultrasound, the one-hour glucose test and a visit with the doctor. The following week, my doctor's nurse called and notified me that I failed the one-hour glucose test. That meant I had to take the three-hour version. I did that test this past Monday. I passed that one! So I don't have gestational diabetes

At my appointment yesterday, Pez's heartbeat was in the 130s. I couldn't get an exact figure from the doctor because Pez was kicking me swiftly as she was measuring his heartbeat!

The doctor and I discussed my glucose test results. She said failing the first test might indicate that my blood sugar levels are increased at certain times of the day. She suggested that I watch my carbohydrate and sugar intakes just in case. But this girl loves breads and pastas!

We also discussed the minor swelling I've noticed lately in my hands and feet. It's only going to get worse as the weather heats up. She said the ultimate solution for the swelling is to deliver the baby! But in the meantime, I should be sure to drink plenty of water and not to eat too much salt.

It's hard to believe that we have just 10 weeks until Pez is due to arrive!

25 April 2014

5-year doctor's appointment

Earlier this week, Avery had her 5-year check-up. Over the last several weeks, we have been preparing her for receiving her kindergarten shots at this appointment. She was fine with this until we got to the doctor's office. She refused to let go of my hand and was noticeably tense.

When we got to the exam room, she started to tear up. Then she calmed down as we went through the exam. The shots were the last thing. She was sad that her favorite nurse (and Sunday School teacher) wasn't giving the shots, but she accepted it. The nurse asked her to lie down on the exam table. Avery held my hand and Chris' hand. The nurse injected three quick shots, and it was over. Avery never flinched and didn't even squeeze our hands like she said she would. And not one tear fell on her cheeks. We were so proud of the way she handled it all! And the nurse said Avery was the bravest patient they had all day.

She'll need a second dose of one of the shots in six months, but no more after that until she enters sixth grade. That seems like a long time from now!

We also talked to the doctor about a few things related to Pez and his upcoming arrival.

Here are Avery's latest stats:

Weight – 34 pounds, 6 ounces (25th percentile, same as last year)
Height – 40.25 inches (10th percentile, same as last year)

Based on her height and weight, it's just about time to move her to a booster car seat.

According to her doctor, Avery is right on track with weight, height and developmental milestones for kids her age. There are two things we need to teach her over the next year – reading (she is so close to doing this!) and tying her shoes (except none of her shoes have laces!).

We're so proud of the way our girl is growing – physically, socially, mentally and spiritually!

24 April 2014

22 April 2014

BSF 2013-2014: Matthew 27:32-66

We are reaching the climax of the book of Matthew. We will end this lesson at what seems to be a low point but just wait for next week!

In our lesson last week, Jesus was condemned to die by crucifixion. After this death sentence, He is taken to Golgotha, a hill just outside the city of Jerusalem. This fulfilled the law that the sin offering had to be made outside the city. Jesus is our sin offering.

Criminals who were being crucified had to carry their own crosses. But Jesus couldn’t carry His cross the whole journey. When He can’t carry the cross anymore, the soldiers pull Simon of Cyrene from the crowd and force him to carry Jesus’ cross. Simon carries the cross and follows behind Jesus as He walks to the place where He will be crucified.

Jesus is nailed to the cross at 9 a.m. The soldiers watching the crucifixion offer Jesus wine mixed with gall, which was a narcotic. It would have dulled Jesus’ pain and suffering on the cross. Jesus refuses the drink. He wants to remain clear minded and in control.

Many people mock and insult Jesus while He is on the cross. Jesus speaks to God and says, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.” Many others call on Him to save Himself from the cross. The chief priests claim they will believe if Jesus saves Himself. Jesus knows that no miraculous sign would change their minds.

Two criminals are crucified next to Jesus. One insults Jesus, but the other rebukes the first criminal. In the midst of His suffering, Jesus forgives the second criminal and promises him eternal life.

A few friends and disciples remained with Jesus at the cross, including His mother and the disciple John. But many of His other followers are scattered and nowhere to be seen.

Through all of this, Jesus remained faithful to God’s will. He willingly suffered on the cross for us. Jesus’ death on the cross saves us from the guilt and power of sin.

While Jesus is on the cross, there is darkness from noon to 3 p.m. Around 3 p.m., Jesus cries out, “It is finished!” He was proclaiming that the wrath of God was paid in full. Then Jesus dies. When Jesus dies, there is an earthquake, there is a resurrection of some dead saints and the curtain of the temple is torn in two. This act is a symbol that the barrier between God and man is forever removed. Because of Jesus’ death, all people can approach God directly through faith in Jesus.

Jesus’ death demands a response. The earth responded. The righteous people in their tombs responded. The temple responded. The centurion responded by proclaiming Jesus was the Son of God. What is your response?

After Jesus dies, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus ask Pilate for Jesus’ body. They risked everything (lives, reputations, income, etc.) to step out and demonstrate their faith. They lovingly remove Jesus’ body from the cross, wrap it in burial cloths and cover it in 75 pounds of spices. Then they place Jesus’ body in the tomb Joseph had prepared for his own burial.

The religious leaders tell Pilate that Jesus said He would rise again. They ask Pilate to guard the tomb to be sure the disciples cannot steal Jesus’ body. The religious leaders seal the tomb and post guards in front. As if that could stop Jesus from rising again!

Things to Think About

  • Jesus forgave one of the criminals because he demonstrated his faith in God. Even near the end of his life, the criminal showed he believed in God. There is no wickedness that God will not forgive if you go to Him for forgiveness.
  • The people watching Jesus’ crucifixion may have thought His life was out of control. But that wasn’t true. Even when things in your life seem out of control, God is still in control. Jesus never went off course. He remained faithful to His Father and never questioned His Father’s will.
  • Do I believe God is in control of all things? Do I act like I believe it?
  • If I believe that Jesus fully was in control at all times during His death on the cross, do I trust Him with my family? With my career? With my church? With my life? Will I surrender all to Jesus?
  • Christ became sin for us and paid the penalty of death for us. When God looked at Jesus, He didn’t see Jesus but our sins. God turned away from Jesus because He couldn’t look at our sins on Jesus.
  • How can we love the sins in our lives that caused Jesus such great suffering?

17 April 2014

10 years

Who is this young, skinny couple? Recently, Chris and I were marveling that we shouldn't be old enough to be married 10 years. "Actually," I told him, "we're old enough to be married 15 years. We just haven't known each other that long."

Chris, in the past 10 years we have:

shared countless hugs and kisses
sold and bought houses and cars
enjoyed several fun vacations
encouraged each other through trials, failures and disappointments
celebrated successes and milestones

attended multiple sporting events together
upheld each other through the deaths of loved ones
welcomed a beautiful little girl into our lives
prepared for a new little boy to join our family

And all the while we've grown closer to each other and closer to God.

I love you with all of my heart. Thank you for sharing your life with me.

15 April 2014

BSF 2013-2014: Matthew 26:47-27:31

When we finished our lesson last week, Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. After Jesus finishes praying, Judas arrives with “a large crowd armed with swords and clubs.” Judas kisses Jesus, the sign of his betrayal.

The previously sleeping disciples are startled by the situation. Peter wants to defend Jesus, so Peter draws a sword and cuts off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus immediately stops Peter and heals the servant’s ear. All of the disciples flee. Throughout His terrifying arrest, Jesus continues to submit to God’s will.

Next the religious leaders put Jesus on trial three times. But here are six reasons why these trials were unfair and illegal:
  • The religious leaders condemned Jesus before they put Him on trial. Their goal was to put Him to death.
  • They sought false witnesses instead of true, reliable witnesses.
  • Jesus had no defense. He stood alone.
  • The trials took place at night. By Jewish law, it was illegal to conduct a trial at night.
  • Jesus was put under oath and then was condemned for what He said under oath.
  • The trials should have taken place in the Sanhedrin’s regular meeting place not in the palace.
Jesus first went to Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest, Caiaphas. The religious leaders present false witnesses about Jesus’ words and actions. Jesus remains silent. The leaders ask Jesus if He is the Son of God. He said it is true, and He references a prophecy from Daniel.

Then the leaders condemn Jesus to death. They spit at Jesus and mocked and insulted Him. Jesus still remained silent.

During this trial, Peter watches from the courtyard. Two servant girls and a crowd accuse Peter of being one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter denies knowing Jesus three times. This happens just as Jesus predicted earlier that night. Peter realizes his sin and weeps bitterly because of his failure.

Judas also is there watching the trial. He also realizes his sin. He approaches the priests and confesses his sin against Jesus. But Judas never asks Jesus for forgiveness. Instead he hangs himself.

Peter repented; Judas regretted. Peter was broken; Judas was sorry. Peter was restored; Judas died in bondage to his sin.

Both Peter and Jesus were questioned about their identities. Peter caved under pressure, but Jesus stood firm. Peter reacted impulsively, but Jesus responded after being in prayer. Jesus was ready for His trials -- literally and figuratively -- because He had been in prayer; Peter was not ready for his trials because he had not been in prayer.

While the Jewish religious leaders want to punish Jesus with death, they cannot condemn someone to death. Only the Roman government can do that. So the religious leaders create a charge against Jesus that would affect the Roman government. They accuse Jesus of opposing payment to Caesar and of being a king.

Pilate almost ignores the first accusation and latches on to the fact that Jesus claimed to be a king. Pilate asks Jesus if He is the King of the Jews. Jesus says it is true. The religious leaders present their accusations to Pilate, but Jesus remains silent.

Pilate finds that Jesus is innocent. But when Pilate learns that Jesus is from Galilee, Pilate sends Jesus to Herod, the ruler over Galilee.

Herod isn’t interested in justice. He only wants Jesus to perform a sign. But once again, Jesus remains silent. Herod has Jesus beaten and ridiculed and then sent back to Pilate.

Once again, Pilate finds no reason to condemn Jesus. Even Pilate’s wife fights for the innocent Jesus. At Passover, Pilate traditionally releases one prisoner. He offers to release Jesus or Barabbas, a revolutionary who led riots against the government. The crowd asks for Barabbas and shouts, “Crucify him [Jesus]!”

Because Pilate does not want to lose his position or his authority over the people, he releases Barabbas and condemns Jesus to death. Pilate washes his hands and says he is innocent in Jesus’ death.

Jesus is flogged, mocked and stripped of His clothes. A crown of thorns is placed on His head, and a scarlet robe is placed over His shoulders. The soldiers spit on Him and finally lead Him away to be crucified.

Do you see yourself in these verses? Jesus endured this suffering so you can be reconciled to God and be set free from the bondage of sin. As He suffered all of this, He was thinking of you! What is your response to Jesus’ humble, willing sacrifice for you?

Things to Think About
  • How do I act toward Christ with other people? Do I represent Him? Do I betray Him? Do I flee when I should stand?
  • How do I handle the treason of my heart? Do I ignore it? Am I crushed by it? Do I turn to Jesus, seeking restoration and forgiveness?

11 April 2014

My placenta and Pez

Today was my 28-week appointment. It was a full appointment because it included the one-hour glucose screening test, an ultrasound and a visit with the doctor.

First I drank the glucola liquid. I've heard a lot of women complain about this part of pregnancy, but I don't mind it at all. We'll get the results next week...no news is good news!

Then we moved on to the ultrasound. The ultimate goal was to check on the placenta and be sure it moved north. But we also were hoping to get some new pictures of Pez.

First off, the technician showed us Pez's arm, leg, spine, heartbeat and skull. Avery loved watching the monitor and seeing the technician point out everything. Then she gave us the greatest news of all -- the placenta has moved to a better position. No more placenta previa! And we don't need to worry about it in the future. Apparently, the placenta is always moving north, so it never should drop down to a dangerous position again.

Next the technician tried to get some good face shots. But Pez was lying face down the entire time! She said she loves doing later ultrasounds because the baby looks more like a baby instead of an alien. But Pez was very uncooperative and wouldn't show his face...the little stinker!

So here are the only two pictures we got.

Pez weighs about 2 lbs., 14 oz. This is in the 88th percentile, but we certainly don't need to worry about having a big baby yet. His heartrate was in the 140s. I am measuring 29 weeks, which is fine for a second pregnancy.

Now we start having appointments every two or three weeks. Then they will be weekly until Pez arrives. I guess this means we'd better work on the nursery since that's the only thing left to do before we meet our precious boy!

10 April 2014

09 April 2014

2014 brackets: Championship update

And another tournament is over. After two of his most hated teams ended up in the final game, Chris said he wasn't going to watch it. I didn't believe him...Chris Clark not watch a championship game? Unthinkable! Until he proved it. He really didn't watch the game on Monday! But he still DVRed it so he could watch One Shining Moment, the signal of the end of the college basketball season.

Here are the final rankings (in order of ESPN points standing):

Jon (Grandpa Hromada)
0-3 in Final Four
41-30 overall
The trophy will remain in Grandpa's trophy case for another year.

0-3 in Final Four
40-31 overall
I was so close to beating my dad! At least I beat Chris! :o)

Shirley (Grandma Hromada)
0-3 in Final Four
37-34 overall
If Florida had won on Saturday, Grandma would have taken possession of the trophy.

1-2 in Final Four
27-44 overall
You read that right. Avery jumped from last place to fourth place! Here is Grandpa Hromada's comment on Avery's performance this year: "Avery had Connecticut in the final game and if she had pick them to win that game, instead of her obsession with Saint Louis, she would have that trophy in her room today and I suspect that the Bracket Challenge would be a thing of the past." I think he's right about that last part! I'm convinced one day she will figure this whole thing out and beat Chris...and maybe the rest of us.

0-3 in Final Four
37-34 overall
Chris had a rough year. He asked, "Who's idea was this anyway?!"

0-3 in Final Four
35-36 overall
Karen used to gauge her performance based on where she ranked compared to Avery. Well, there's always next year, Sis.

08 April 2014

BSF 2013-2014: Matthew 26:1-46

In our study, we have reached the evening before Jesus’ crucifixion. He still is teaching His disciples and preparing them for what is to come.

At the beginning of Matthew chapter 26, we see Jesus enjoying a meal at a home in Bethany. He was surrounded by a beloved family -- Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

Mary breaks an alabaster jar of expensive perfume, pours it over Jesus’ feet and wipes His feet with her hair. Mary always was willing to listen to Jesus’ teachings. And this act shows that she understands Jesus was the Messiah and that He was leaving, though she may not understand the horrible death and suffering He was facing. Whether or not she knows it, Mary is preparing Jesus for His death and burial.

Mary gives Jesus the most valuable thing she has. She gives it all, and she gives it in an extravagant way. She is not ashamed of her sacrifice.

Judas responds to Mary’s sacrifice. Even after spending three years alongside the Messiah, Judas loves money more than Jesus. Judas complains that Mary has wasted her gift, which could be used to help the poor. Jesus commends Mary and tells Judas to leave her alone.

Now Judas is ready to betray Jesus. This event causes Judas to go to the religious leaders and plan for Jesus’ arrest.

Next Jesus leads the disciples in the Last Supper. At this meal, Jesus celebrates the Passover Feast with his followers. Passover first occurred in Egypt. The final plague on Pharaoh and the Egyptians was killing the firstborn in every family. But God protected the Israelites from this plague.

God told the Israelites to kill a perfect lamb for each family, to eat the meat of the lamb for strength on the upcoming journey and to use the lamb’s blood to paint over the doorposts of their homes. The angel of death passed over the Israelites’ homes.

Jesus fulfilled the true meaning of the Passover Feast. Jesus was the Perfect Lamb, killed to save each of us. We must eat the meat of His Word to get strength on the Christian journey. When God looks at us and sees that our sins are covered in Jesus’ blood, God’s eternal judgment passes over us.

We don’t celebrate Passover today. Instead, we use the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion to remind us of what Jesus did on the cross and to remind us that one day soon He will return to take us to Heaven.

After the Last Supper, Jesus predicts that all of the disciples will fall away on this night. Peter claims he will not fall away. Jesus then predicts that Peter will deny Him three times that very night.

Jesus takes His disciples to the Mount of Olives to pray. He leaves eight of them and goes a little farther with Peter, James and John. Then he leaves Peter, James and John and prays by Himself. He asks God if it’s possible for Him to remove the suffering and death Jesus is facing. Jesus made this request, but when He realizes that God’s answer is no, Jesus surrenders from His will to God’s will. Then He prays for comfort and strength to face His suffering and death.

Next week, we will see Judas betray Jesus who then endures several trials and sufferings.

Things to Think About
  • Any gift to Jesus is not wasted. Don’t be afraid to go overboard for Him.
  • Am I willing to give my most precious possession to God?
  • Mary and Judas both acted on what they believed. We also have a choice to believe the truths of God.
  • Am I willing to say, “Thy will be done” no matter the circumstances I am facing?

03 April 2014