Music To Stir The Soul -
Why Good Friday?

Pipe Organ at Notre Dame - Paris

Today is Good Friday, the day when Christians all over
the world recall Jesus' Passion: the suffering that procured
our salvation.

Given the centrality of the Passion to the Christian faith—
and Christianity's role in shaping Western civilization—
it is no surprise that the Passion has inspired some of
the West's greatest art, including the music of Johann
Sebastian Bach.

Between 1724 and 1731, Bach set at least three, and
possibly all four, of the Gospels' accounts of the Lord's
Passion to music.

Unfortunately, only two of these survive in their entirety,
but what we have are among Western civilization's greatest
achievements—music that should inspire our gratitude on
several levels.


Please note Bach's Joy of Man's Desiring playing on this blog.
Johann Sebastian Bach was named by Time Magazine as the
greatest composer of the millennium.


Professor Howdy said...

Two years ago on Easter I spent the day as I always do, preaching the Gospel in prison. Afterward I visited those in solitary, including a man I will call Richard, who would face his execution in just five short days.

There is something a bit surreal about talking face to face with a man who knows he is going to die. There is a heaviness about the room and, in this case, also a very palpable sense of evil. In fact, I have never felt the assault of evil as strongly as I did in that place.

I shared the Gospel and my own testimony with Richard, but found him very resistant. Every time Richard would throw out an objection, I would knock it down. Intellectually astute, Richard had reasoned himself into a fortress that barred faith as even a possibility. It was as hard as I had ever worked to persuade someone, and I left feeling drained and discouraged.

But God was not finished. As a result of that visit, the warden allowed something highly unprecedented: He allowed a fellow inmate, Mickey, to visit Richard and speak with him before his execution.

Mickey faced a life sentence but had discovered in prison a freedom through the Gospel of Christ that Richard had not yet experienced.

Taking a seat across a table, Mickey looked into Richard’s eyes. Richard’s face was emotionless. Mickey breathed a prayer and began by sharing the simple facts of the Gospel and how it had changed his life. But Richard remained stoic. Talking with Richard “felt like beating my head against a wall,” recalls Mickey.

At a loss, Mickey offered one final thought: “Richard, I wish I could take your place on Friday.”

For the first time since their conversation began, the stoicism on Richard’s face melted. In its place, a look of shock swept over him.

Mickey continued, “You see, Richard, I know where my soul’s going when I leave this world. You don’t yet have that assurance of salvation. I wish I could give you just a little more time.”

Once Mickey was back in his own cell, he cried. He felt like he had let God down. But soon Mickey heard God’s gentle reassurance that he had done exactly what he had been asked to do.

What Mickey said to Richard strikes a real chord with me, because more than thirty years ago, I myself stood condemned and imprisoned. I will never forget when my friend and then-congressman Al Quie sincerely offered to take my place in prison. Imagine my reaction!

But then, imagine the astonishment of a prisoner at Auschwitz named Franciszek. Chosen by the Nazi camp commandant to die in the death chamber, Franciszek was spared when a Polish priest named Maximilian Kolbe offered to take his place. Father Kolbe willingly laid down his life so that another might live.

In Congressman Quie’s offer, as in Father Kolbe’s martyrdom and in Mickey’s wish for Richard, I hear the echo of the first Good Friday: Christ taking our place on the cross, laying down His life so that a condemned people might live.

May Christ’s love, displayed on the cross, continue to astonish us. And may His sacrifice inspire us to follow in His footsteps.

Chuck Colson

Professor Howdy said...

Many years ago a Kentucky grandmother gave a new bride
the following recipe for washing clothes....

1. Bilt fire in backyard to heat kettle of rain water.
2. Set tubs so smoke wont blow in eyes if wind is pert.
3. Shave one hole cake of lie soap in bilin water.
4. Sort things, make 3 piles. 1 pile white, 1 pile colored, 1
pile work britches and rags.
5. To make starch, stir flour in cool water to smooth, then
thin down with bilin water.
6. Take white things, rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard,
and then bile. Rub colored, don't bile, just rinch and starch.
7. Take things out of kettle with broomstick handle, then
rinch, and starch.
8. Hang old rags on fence.
9. Spread tea towels on grass.
10. Pore rinch water in flower bed.
11. Scrub porch with hot soapy water.
12. Turn tubs upside down.
13. Go put on clean dress, smooth hair with hair combs. Brew
cup of tea, sit and rock a spell and count your blessings.

Hang this above your Automatic Washer, and when things look
bleak, read it again, and count YOUR blessings!

Anonymous said...


This is hilarious - no wonder some people were offended!)

This is the message that the Pacific Palisades High School ( California )
staff voted unanimously to record on their school telephone answering
machine. This is the actual answering machine message for the school. This
came about because they implemented a policy requiring students and parents
to be responsible for their children's absences and missing homework.

The school and teachers are being sued by parents who want their children's
failing grades changed to passing grades - even though those children were
absent 15-30 times during the semester and did not complete enough
schoolwork to pass their classes.

The outgoing message:

"Hello! You have reached the automated answering service of your school.
In order to assist you in connecting to the right staff member, please
listen to all the options before making a selection:

To lie about why your child is absent - Press 1

To make excuses for why your child did not do his work- Press 2

To complain about what we do - Press 3

To swear at staff members - Press 4

To ask why you didn't get information that was already enclosed in your
newsletter and several flyers mailed to you - Press 5

If you want us to raise your child - Press 6

If you want to reach out and touch, slap or hit someone -Press 7

To request another teacher, for the third time this year -Press 8

To complain about bus transportation - Press 9

To complain about school lunches - Press 0

If you realize this is the real world and your child must be accountable
and responsible for his/her own behavior, class work, homework and that it's
not the teachers' fault for your child's lack of effort: Hang up and have a
nice day!

If you want this in another language, you must be in the wrong country.

Professor Howdy said...

Several years ago, Andy was sentenced to prison.
During his stay, he got along well with the guards
and all his fellow inmates. The warden saw that
deep down, Andy was a good person and made arrangements
for Andy to learn a trade while doing his time. After
three years, Andy was recognized as one of the best
carpenters in the local area. Often he would be given
a weekend pass to do odd jobs for the citizens of the community, and he
always reported back to prison before Sunday night was over.

The warden was thinking of remodeling his kitchen and
in fact had done much of the work himself. But he lacked
the skills to build a set of kitchen cupboards and a
large countertop which he had promised his wife. So
he called Andy into his office and asked him to complete
the job for him.

But, alas, Andy refused. He told the warden, "Wow, I'd
really like to help you but counter fitting is what got
me into prison in the first place."

Anonymous said...

Dear Howdy,

During my surgical residency I was called out of a sound sleep to the
emergency room. Unshaven and with tousled hair, I showed up with an
equally unpresentable medical student. In the ER we encountered the
on-call medical resident and his student, both neatly attired in clean
white lab coats. The resident said to his student, "You can always tell
the surgeons by their absolute disregard for appearance." Two evenings
later, I was at a banquet when called to the ER to suture a minor
laceration. I was stitching away -- wearing a tuxedo --
when I encountered that same medical resident.
He looked at me, then said to his student, "Sure is sensitive to
criticism, isn't he?"

Dr. Williams

Professor Howdy said...

It's a summer holiday weekend, and a man walks into a
butcher shop that has a sign in the window saying, "Ground
Sirloin: 29 cents per pound."

The man says, "I'm having a cookout this weekend. I'd like
five pounds of your ground sirloin, please."

The butcher shakes his head and says, "Sorry. I'm all out."

The man, disappointed, goes down the street to another
butcher shop and asks, "How much is your ground sirloin?"

The proprietor replies, "It's $3.29 per pound."

"Three twenty nine!?!" exclaims the customer. "Just up the
street, the butcher sells it for 29 cents!"

The butcher smiles calmly at the gentleman and asks, "Does
he have any?"

"No. He's out of it right now."

"Well," says the butcher, "when I don't have any, I can sell
it for 19 cents per pound!"

Professor Howdy said...

Remember Me
Jill Carattini

There is something comforting about the many lives in Scripture of which we
know very little. There was more to the story of the woman who knew that
if she could just touch the fringe of Jesus's robe she would get well.
There was more to tell about the woman who anointed Jesus with a jar of
perfume, or the thief who hung beside Jesus on the cross. Yet, we are
told only that they will be remembered. And they are. However
insignificant their lives were to society, they have been captured in the
pages of history as people worth remembering, people who had a role in the
story of God on earth--people remembered by God when multitudes wished them
forgotten. It is to me a tender reminder that our fleeting lives are yet
infinitely significant because we are remembered by the one who sees our
hearts and hears our prayers long before others notice and long after they
have stopped listening.

We know very little about the man named Simeon, but we know he was in the
temple when he realized that God had remembered him. Reaching for the
baby in the arms of a young girl, Simeon was moved to praise. As his
wrinkled hands cradled the infant, Simeon sang to God:

"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation" (Luke 2:29-30).

Simeon uses the language of a slave that has been freed. There is a sense
of immediacy and relief, as if a great iron door has been unlocked and he
is now free to go through it. God had remembered his promise even as He
remembered the aging Simeon. The Lord had promised he would not die
before he saw the Lord's salvation. Now seeing and holding the child
named Jesus, Simeon knew he was dismissed to death in peace.

Marveling at the bold reaction of a stranger, Mary and Joseph stood in
awe. Upon laying eyes on their child, a man unknown to them pronounced he
could now die in peace! They were well aware of God's hand upon Jesus; yet
here they seem to discover that the arm of God, which is not too short to
save, extends far beyond anything they imagined.

Simeon's blessing and words to Mary only furthered this certainty: "This
child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and
to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many
hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too" (Luke
2:34-35). To these words as well, Mary and Joseph stood in awe.

On this Good Friday we recall the symbol of the Cross, the sword that
pierced a mother's heart, and the passion of the one who continues to be
spoken against. An old man in the temple hundreds of years ago, through a
fraction of a scene in his life, reminds us still today that to look at
Jesus is to look at the salvation of God. Whether peering at the child in
the manger or the man on the Cross, the human heart is yet revealed in its
response to him. This is, in fact, our most memorable feature. Though
our sins put him on the Cross, it is our response to Christ that God has
chosen to remember.

Perhaps the small excerpts of the many fleeting lives we find in Scripture
were meant to capture exactly this sentiment. As the thief peered into the
bruised eyes of Jesus, like Simeon, he saw the salvation of God. May our
response to the one on the Cross echo this man's words: "Jesus, remember
me when you come into your kingdom" (Luke 23:42). And it was so.

Jill Carattini is senior associate writer at Ravi Zacharias
International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)
"A Slice of Infinity" is aimed at reaching into the culture with words of
challenge, words of truth, and words of hope. If you know of others who
would enjoy receiving "A Slice of Infinity" in their email box each day,
tell them they can sign up on our website at If they do not have access to the
World Wide Web, please call 1-877-88SLICE (1-877-887-5423).

Professor Howdy said...

"I still can't help wondering how we can explain away what to me is the greatest miracle of all and which is recorded in history. No one denies there was such a man, that he lived and that he was put to death by crucifixion. the miracle I spoke of? Well consider this and let your imagination translate the story into our own time -- possibly to your own home town.

A young man whose father is a carpenter grows up working in his father's shop.
One day he puts down his tools and walks out of his father's shop. He starts preaching on street corners and in the nearby countryside, walking from place to place, preaching all the while, even though he is not an ordained minister.

He never gets farther than an area perhaps 100 miles wide at the most. He does this for three years.

Then he is arrested, tried and convicted.

There is no court of appeal, so he is executed at age 33 along with two common thieves.

Those in charge of his execution roll dice to see who gets his clothing -- the only possessions he has.

His family cannot afford a burial place for him so he is interred in a borrowed tomb.

End of story? No, this uneducated, property-less young man has, for 2,000 years, had a greater effect on the world than all the rulers, kings, emperors; all the conquerors, generals and admirals, all the scholars, scientists and philosophers who have ever lived -- all of them put together.

How do we explain that -- unless He really was who He said He was?"

Page by Mary Jones

Words By Ronald Reagan

Acts 1:10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." (NIV)

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