Meditating on the Commands of Christ (37): Going to Hell in a Handbasket

Excuse this offensive expression, but today’s passage is actually all about offenses: “And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:30). The expression “going to hell in a handbasket” is American slang for someone deteriorating morally without resisting sin, the way a handbasket is carried along without any protest (by the handbasket). Looking deeper into the expression’s murky past, it conjures up images from the days of the French Revolution, when there were mass executions using guillotines and the heads were hauled off in baskets. We also use the word picture “sliding down the slippery slope” to give a graphic description of a similar state, where someone is falling quickly into ruin and self-destruction. Hard question, but does this describe you or someone you love?

Cutting to the heart, Jesus’ command is about purity. Jesus says it is better to cut off our hand if it causes us to offend rather than to be cast into hell. What does he mean? To “offend” (according to Merriam-Webster) means “To transgress the moral or divine law: Sin.” It can also mean “to violate a law or rule: do wrong;” “to cause difficulty, discomfort, or injury;” or “to cause dislike, anger, or vexation.” I think all of these definitions will come into play as we study this passage.

Interestingly enough, Christians don’t chop off anyone’s hand if they break the law, and we feel horrified (and offended in the sense of causing “dislike, anger, or vexation”) when we read reports of other religious groups using this form of punishment for failing to keep their moral codes. As we discussed last Sunday, Jesus was speaking spiritually, not physically. Like our eyes, our hands are physical, morally neutral, instruments that we (as moral souls) use to perform our wills. The problem is not with our hands, but our hearts: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22).

So, our hand . . . or our heart? If we’re going to do any chopping, it needs to be chopping out our hearts, not our hands! Thankfully, God has made a provision for us if we will sanctify him in our lives (understand that He is holy and live accordingly): “I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 36:23-28).

So, we have the potential solution to our quandary, if (and this is a BIG “IF”) we are willing to accept it. Jesus warns us to stop sinning, to “cut off our hand” if we are using it to perpetrate sinful behavior. If we will allow God to search our hearts, he will reveal our sins to us: “If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god; Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:20-21).

The trick is, once we’re enslaved to a particular sin, we don’t really want to acknowledge it as sinful, because we don’t want to have to stop. So, rather than “sanctifying” the Lord in our eyes—acknowledging His holiness, His person, and His Word as the only true purity—we go about trying to justify our actions as “okay too.” I’m okay, and you’re okay. Everybody has the right to do whatever seems right to them. Don’t judge me, and I won’t judge you. Quit being such a legalistic pharisee! The Old Testament law is no longer in effect, and the New Testament commands and observances were for a 2,000-year-old culture that are no longer applicable today. Just love everybody and don’t try to tell me what’s right.

Sound familiar? I think Jesus was addressing those who feel this way. To those who think they can go about establishing their own righteousness, Jesus gives this oh, so unpopular warning! But many people are unwilling to acknowledge that their actions are sinful and offensive. Instead, they find this command from Jesus offensive! Many hide behind the currently popular deception that since Jesus died to make salvation available to “whosoever will,” then everybody “will” be saved regardless of what they believe or do!

Be careful, my friends! Jesus gave us some very severe warnings! Jesus taught, “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:41-42). How did the people respond? “And they were offended in him” (Matthew 13:57).

Do you find yourself offended by what I’ve written? You can take issue with anything I say, and I invite you to respond, but please don’t be offended by the words of Jesus. “Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (spoken by Jesus in Matthew 11:6). When Jesus taught the parable about the sower (speaking of those who share the word of God), he warned about those who “Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended” (Matthew 13:21). There is offense in the Gospel, and that comes from God being righteous and our being sinful, and in need of a Savior who will change us and conform us to true holiness and righteousness. Please don’t be offended by the gospel. Rather: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). If you need a transplant, let God give you a new heart. Don’t take the risk of being cast into hell because you refuse to sanctify God in your heart or cut off your sinful actions! Ultimately, it’s a choice between being offended with Jesus or offended with our own offenses.

Text for today: Matthew 5:27-30 “And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Bad Surprises

Do you like surprises? Recently, I sat with some friends in the hospital waiting room, discussing whether or not we liked surprises. We were awaiting (rather anxiously) to hear the report from my friend’s exploratory surgery. (I will call her Carissa, although that’s not her real name.) Carissa’s daughter said she thought the only people who really love surprises are children who are about five and under looking forward to their birthday or Christmas. We shared stories of surprise birthday parties that we’d enjoyed (or not) over the years.

One of the ladies recounted a tale of a surprise 50th birthday party that went awry when she showed up without any makeup on a bad hair day, and about 60 friends were there to greet her! She was so dismayed that her college-aged daughter (who had gone to great pains to organize the party) ended up in tears and hasn’t tried to surprise her since. (This occurred about 25 years ago!) We decided that we only like “GOOD” surprises, where we love the unexpected event and it comes at a time that doesn’t distract us from what we think we “ought” to be doing . . . especially if we’re somehow appropriately dressed for the occasion. 🙂

Well, that afternoon, we got a very BAD surprise. After about five hours of surgery, the surgeon had a private conference with Carissa’s husband and daughter. The longer they were gone, the more we worried and prayed. Carissa and her husband had just celebrated their 50th anniversary. Carissa is one of these super bubbly, sunshiny souls who has been like a rock to her husband, who’s been struggling for several years with very serious cancer himself. We were all shocked and devastated when she started experiencing severe pain recently and was diagnosed with cancer. I think we all assumed Carissa would be at her husband’s bedside to the very end.

However, when they opened Carissa, they found that her situation was much worse than feared and basically inoperable. Her husband and children were faced with a decision: Attempt a heroic surgery that might not work (but if it did, it would prolong her life, although leaving her disabled), or give up on the surgery in hopes of a more normal lifestyle, but with a shorter life expectancy.

What a horrible decision to have to make! What would you choose? (If you are married, this would be a great discussion to have with your mate JUST IN CASE. I had this discussion with my husband after I came home. Quality versus quantity. Which??) Carissa’s husband and daughter—tearfully trying to choose what Carissa would choose—opted for quality.

Carissa has a deep, joyful faith. She has taken everything like a trooper so far, and I think she will overcome this terrible shock too, but I find myself praying and pondering a lot every day. I always tell my husband that I’d like to die of a heart attack or something quick with a very short illness. Like Carissa, I am ready to go to heaven and be with Jesus, even though it would (will) be terribly hard to leave all my loved ones. How about you? Are you ready to meet God? Is He your Father? Have you trusted Jesus as your Savior? God is waiting for you with his arms out, wanting you to become his child and come to be with him in heaven when you die.

If you are not sure what will happen to you after you die, may I share a couple of passages from the Bible that explain who Jesus is and how to become a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ? “In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.The same was in the beginning with God.All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.In him was life; and the life was the light of men.And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (John 1:1-18)

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:14-18)

P.S.—If you would like more information about how to become a Christian or how to prepare for death, please click on the link at the top of this page that says “Coming to Christ.” It will walk you through the steps to become a child of God and become secure in knowing you will go to heaven when you die. God bless you~

Contrasting Two Groups of Rebels

Last weekend—perhaps because we unconsciously had Memorial Day, war, and death on our hearts—we watched two movies that, as it turned out, had more in common than I ever could have imagined! Both are based on true events, both involved teams of men who believed they were being heroes, and both groups were on highly illegal missions. However, the outcomes of their actions were as different as night and day!

If you’re like me, you probably have vivid memories of the second event (which occurred just 18 years ago and has changed our country forever), but you’ve probably never even heard of the other (which occurred secretly in 1948). A Wing and a Prayer is a 2015 documentary making public the rogue heroism of a team of ex-World War 2 vets who risked (some gave) their lives to prevent a second holocaust from occurring in Israel when the Brits left the freshly-minted Jewish nation without any weapons to defend their new-found freedom from the planned attacks of neighboring nations.

In contrast, United 93 is a 2006 portrayal of what happened on September 11, 2001, when 13 Islamic terrorists hijacked four commercial jets, killing 2,996 people, injuring over 6,000 others, and causing some $10 billion in damages. It will always be remembered as “9-11.”

Three of the aircraft reached their targets that fateful morning: Two crashing into the heart of the World Trade Center and a third dive-bombing the Pentagon, but because of the heroism of the passengers aboard United 93, that flight never reached its target.

Instead, United’s flight 93 plunged into a field in Pennsylvania, where all the passengers were killed instantly.

Think of the contrasts between these two events! In A Wing and a Prayer, about 13 men (many of whom were not even Jewish but were motivated by compassion) acted in opposition to the law in order to protect the lives of a beleaguered people still grieving the terrible exterminations and terrors they experienced during World War 2.

These young pilots weren’t terrorists, they were trying to protect foreign people from being terrorized. Many of them were not particularly religious; this was not a “holy war.” However, the men took a moral stand against the American government, who was refusing to aid the Israelis for fear of alienating Middle Eastern leaders with whom we were involved in commercial (oil) enterprise. Their punishment: $10,000 in fines per person and the loss of their civil rights.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed after capture. Wiki. Public Domain

In contrast, the 13 al-Qaeda terrorists were on a mission, not to protect foreigners but to terrorize them. Not to preserve but to destroy. They were not taking a moral stand against wrong; they thought murder and terror was “right!” Their hope of reward? Suicidal death leading to immediate transportation to paradise. No fines, no imprisonment, no punishment, no loss of privileges. But, tragically, the loss of their lives along with those of thousands of others.

I highly recommend your watching the one-hour documentary on A Wing and a Prayer. However, I confused United 93 with Flight 93, which I saw 13 years ago and definitely prefer. Flight 93 has a PG-13 rating and tells much the same story without the terrible language or quite as much blood. So, I guess that’s yet another contrast between two movies!

Last thought, but I’d also like to contrast the Christian and Muslim views on heaven and how to get there. Muslims believe in a sensual paradise filled with pure rivers of water, milk, honey, and wine, where men can take pleasure in beautiful women every day (among other things). Christians believe in a physical paradise but with a spiritual purpose: Worship and fellowship with God and fellow human beings. Jesus taught that in paradise people would not marry but would be like the angels in heaven. The emphasis is not on personal sensual gratification, but on love in its highest and most transcendent forms.

What about how to get to heaven? Muslims believe you can only be assured of going straight to paradise by dying for Allah. Christians believe you can only be assured of going straight to paradise by believing in Jesus, the God who died for us! Muslims hope to get to paradise by being good. Christians know they’ll never be “good enough” to get to heaven, but they trust in Jesus, who was perfect, and who died for each and every one of us, so that we can be reconciled to God by repenting of our sins and putting our faith in the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf.

Want to be assured of heaven when you die? You don’t need to become a suicidal terrorist! Believe in Jesus, and embrace him as your Savior!

Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

“His D Card Got Spidered”

Memorial Day Weekend wasn’t as much fun for one of our sons as he’d expected! His older brother bought him tickets to visit their family in Europe, but when my son got to the ticket counter, they turned him away. Why? Well, as my grandson Paly reported when asked, “‘Cause his D card got spidered.”

Chicago, here we come . . . or not! 😦

Sad, but true (sort of). Belgium has a law that you cannot enter their country unless your passport is good for 3 months after your return date. So, his uncle’s I.D. card (passport) was going to get spidered (expire) in June . . . after the trip, but not long enough after the trip that he could get through Belgian security. Thankfully, a merciful United Airlines supervisor took my son’s plight to heart and allowed him to exchange his ticket for passage at the end of summer, after he’ll have a chance to renew his passport. That was very gracious of them, because the airline was in no way at fault, and his ticket was non-refundable. Thank you, United Airlines!

Just a question, but do you have a valid passport? If you’re going to travel anytime, please make sure your passport will be valid long enough after the trip so that you won’t get stopped at the ticket counter. (For instance, for my upcoming trip, my passport has to be valid for six months after my return date.)

(Okay, so maybe we’re not really dead in this photo,
but i-phones have lots of tricks!)

Just another question, but do you think you have a valid passport for heaven? Most people imagine they’ll go to heaven after they die if their good works outweigh their bad works, and (of course) most of us think since we’ve always tried to be good (at least, most of the time), our good works will (hopefully) outweigh our bad works. However, like my son’s present passport, good works (valid passport that makes passage in this life seem fine) won’t work for heaven. God has a requirement that we need to heed, lest we get turned away at the ticket counter (death)!

The good news is that anybody can get a valid passport simply by asking! Jesus died in our place so that we can have forgiveness for our sins. All we have to do is humble ourselves, admit that we sin, and ask God to forgive us based on Jesus’ s sacrificial death for us. This “transaction” (also known as “salvation” or “rebirth”) with the government of heaven (so to speak), will give us a valid stamp on our passport. We become permanent “citizens of heaven” with no need for a foreign passport. In effect, we are saved by Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit for safe transmission to heaven. If we had a passport, it would read something like this: “All sins are covered by the blood of Christ. This passport is good forever. No expiration date!”

Please don’t think you’re okay because you’re as innocent as a babe. I mean, really? Anybody who has a baby knows they are only angelic while they’re sleeping. Lovable? Absolutely! Sinless? Not by any stretch of the imagination, and I’ve never been accused of being perfect, either. Have you?

So, unless you’re okay with missing out on all the action (be it over Memorial Day, or all the joys of heaven that could be yours), please believe Jesus when he taught that He alone can promise us eternal life. Sign up with God today for your free Passport for Life!

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40). ” I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

Calling Versus Being Allured

Walking on the water

Sometimes You call us;
Sometimes we are lured away.
Always—You’ll rescue!

Last Sunday our church commissioned a young female surgeon who is heading off the Africa as a missionary. To me, that’s nothing short of asking her to walk on water, and yet I know it’s possible that she will do just fine, since during the Ebola epidemic a few years back, another young female surgeon with tremendous courage left the safety of Grand Rapids to help out with the epidemic in Africa . . . and lived to tell about it.

Probably more often than not, people are lured over their heads by temptation rather than calling, but I know God loves us and is willing to help us regardless. Whether we break through the ice accidentally, like John Smith, or we’re drawn to some addictive idol and find ourselves drowning, or we’re called to walk through oceans of difficulty with Jesus, He will rescue us if we’re willing to turn to him for help.

But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” ( Isaiah 43:1-3).


“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” (by Hillsong United)

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
And You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour

Oh, Jesus, you’re my God!

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

(The two beautiful paintings are used by permission of Yongsung Kim. I will share more about him next week! Thank you!! To see more of his work, click here! https://images.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=AwrCwLB8IqZce2cAeQ0PxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTByMjB0aG5zBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw–?p=yongsung+kim+paintings&fr=yhs-SGMedia-sgmedia_maps&hspart=SGMedia&hsimp=yhs-sgmedia_maps#id=83&iurl=https%3A%2F%2Fmelaniejeanjuneau.files.wordpress.com%2F2014%2F07%2F4ecee8ce284d4b49e0b89f77132b6122.jpg%3Fw%3D452%26h%3D539&action=click )

Life Without Easter?

For Good Friday, I’d like to share a meditation by my friend, Cynthia Wedge:

Have you ever thought about what life might be like without Easter? I was thinking about that the other day as Easter is drawing close. Below are my reflections.

There would be no purpose to life. The thing, actually person, who gives me purpose and meaning to life is Christ. My purpose is to bring honor and glory to Him in all that I do and say. Even though I don’t do that perfectly nor all the time, that is what I desire to do and what makes my daily life meaningful. Along with that is sharing Him with others as I have opportunity, helping them to obtain meaning to their life.

There would be no hope for the future, life after death. Because of Easter, Christ’s death AND resurrection, and putting my faith in His work, I know when I die I will immediately be in the presence of my Savior. This assured hope helps me persevere through the difficult circumstances of life.

There would no forgiveness. Without God’s forgiveness of our sins, how can we forgive people the wrongs they have done to us? It is God’s example of forgiveness and only because of His enabling, that we are able to “forgive our neighbor”. Without forgiveness, anger and bitterness would run rampant in the world. Forgiveness melts our anger and dissolves our bitterness toward those who have wronged us. None of us would have even an ounce of forgiveness within us apart from Christ’s sacrificial death and forgiveness of our failures and sin.

There would be no love. It is because God loved us that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to come to earth and take on our sin. God is the source of love, for He is Love. Without His love in us, we would not love our fellow man, our spouse, our children, etc. A world without love? I don’t even want to think what a world without love would be like. When I see the hate and anger being expressed in our society today, it is just the tip of the iceberg of what people would do to each other without love.

I could probably go on and name more things, but these are enough for me to be thankful for Easter. Thankful that God loved the whole world enough to make it possible to have our sins forgiven and to have a personal relationship with Him. To know God loves me, even when I fail Him so miserably, He continues to love me infinitely. This is beyond my comprehension, but I am oh, so grateful.

Grateful that Christ, God’s Son, was obedient to His Father, even though He prayed “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but Yours be done.” He knew how much He would have to suffer as a man, the pain of the thorns, the whipping, the nails, the sword. Just as any of us would shrink from such pain, so did Christ, yet because of His love for mankind and His obedience to His Father, He submitted Himself to die a cruel death on a cross. While on the cross, He took the sin of the whole world upon Himself, for you and for me. Because God is holy, He had to turn His back on His Son, causing Christ to cry out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Never before, in all of eternity past had they been separated!

I could probably go on and name more things, but these are enough for me to be thankful for Easter. Thankful that God loved the whole world enough to make it possible to have our sins forgiven and to have a personal relationship with Him. To know God loves me, even when I fail Him so miserably, He continues to love me infinitely. This is beyond my comprehension, but I am oh, so grateful. Grateful that Christ, God’s Son, was obedient to His Father, even though He prayed “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but Yours be done.” He knew how much He would have to suffer as a man, the pain of the thorns, the whipping, the nails, the sword. Just as any of us would shrink from such pain, so did Christ, yet because of His love for mankind and His obedience to His Father, He submitted Himself to die a cruel death on a cross. While on the cross, He took the sin of the whole world upon Himself, for you and for me. Because God is holy, He had to turn His back on His Son, causing Christ to cry out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Never before, in all of eternity past had they been separated!

My prayer is that you experience and know the love of God and the forgiveness of your sin, because of Easter!

© Cynthia Wedge April, 2019

Cathédrale Notre-Dame: The Broken Heart of Paris


Built through centuries;
Burnt in hours. We cry, “Dear God,
Please restore your Church!”

“He restoreth my soul;
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).

We stayed under the shadow of Notre-Dame last time we were in Paris and visited twice.

We sat in solemn resonance through a service.

We climbed the 387 steps to the bell tower.

We breathed in the ethereal air above the Parisian landscape.

And, we gazed in rapture at the dazzling stained glass windows. But, it never once crossed my mind that it might be the last time I would ever have such a rare privilege.

Yesterday, in a matter of twelve hours, a fire destroyed two-thirds of the roof and enveloped the interior of this iconic 856-year-old bastion of our Christian faith, which is home to more than half a million parishioners.

As of yet, the extent of the damage is unknown, although there have been reports that heat melted the lead holding the panes of some of the stained glass windows, and France’s largest pipe organ, with its 8,000 pipes, has suffered damage.

Nearly 400 fire-fighters battled heroically to save the twin bell towers,

although the cathedral’s spire has collapsed.

The stone exterior of the building has been saved, but so much of the interior was made from wood that there are questions about the basic integrity of the cathedral. Is enough intact for it to withstand rebuilding?

Beyond structural issues, Notre-Dame cathedral was filled with irreplaceable treasures, including seventy-six paintings dating back to the 1600-1700s, along with many other relics, statues, and carvings, some of which have been saved, but many which could not.

This morning, a team will be assessing the damage, and I find myself holding my breath as I await further news.

France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, has promised the world that France will rebuild Notre-Dame, and two french billionaires have already pledged $339 million towards the restoration. A call has gone out for the those who are artistically gifted throughout the Christian world to offer their help in the restoration. But, will it ever be the same?

The answer, of course, is that it will not! In the Gospel of John, Jesus forewarns his disciples that life will be full of sorrow and troubles, but that we can find comfort, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Even though we suffer great disappointments in this world that change our lives forever, that doesn’t end God’s goodness or his constant work within us.

God will make something new for us, just like He will make us new! As He promised in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. ” I believe God will help the world rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral, just as I believe God will give new life to all who put their trust in him!

God is THE God of love and mercy. He is always up to something good, even in the midst of apparent evil: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Our responsibility is to believe in God and do what He’s asked us to do: to accept forgiveness for our sins through faith in the sacrifice of Christ for us, and to surrender our hearts to Jesus as our Lord and Savior. He can make something new from the ashes of our lives, just as I believe He will make something new from the devastating loss of Notre-Dame.

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21:1-7).

*I took all the above photos on our last trip to Notre-Dame, in May of 2016. If you’re looking for even more photos and information, I wrote an earlier post here: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2016/06/27/the-glory-that-is-paris-cathedrale-notre-dame/