A Cross, Not a Stone Because Jesus Came to Set Us Free, Not Be Set Free

Easter Tuesday ~ Everything could've been different, but God required a Cross, Not a Stone ~ Jesus Came to Set us Free, Not to be Set Free (Featuring "Freedom" by Michael W. Smith)

A Cross or a Stone?

Everything could’ve been different—horribly tragically different—if God hadn’t intervened. 


One of the first lessons we learn in church is that Jesus came to set us free from sin and He accomplished it through His death on the cross. 

But did you know God chose the time, place and manner of Jesus’ death before the foundations of the world? 

And that man tried to change it with some stones?

For years, I never stopped to think about all the complex orchestration and maneuvering Christ’s crucifixion required. 

As man moved, God moved because He required a cross, not a stone, and Jesus came to set us free, not to be set free. 

Let’s consider just a few of the main events God had to coordinate.

But first, for your listening pleasure, hit the play button on Michael W. Smith’s song “Freedom” from his Freedom album. It could be the soundtrack to Jesus’ life.

The Red Thread of Jesus via JeanWilund.com

The Red Thread of Jesus via JeanWilund.comStone Him!

A short time before the week leading up to the cross, Christ enraged the Jewish leaders.

He claimed equality with God. 

Them’s fightin’ words by Jewish law. Stoning words, to be exact. 

“anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them…”
~ Leviticus 24:16a

The Jewish leaders declared utmost loyalty to the Law of Moses. Moses was The Man to them.

But even with their devotion to God’s laws passed down to Moses, the hardness of their hearts blinded them to the truth standing before them.

They refused to see Jesus, the Christ, for who He really is—God in the flesh. Messiah, come to save them from sin.

Thus, those loyal leaders faced Jesus and bowed low to the ground—but not to worship—to pick up stones. 

“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
~ John 10:33

But God Required a Cross, Not a Stone

God had already predetermined that Jesus would be crucified on the cross, even before Roman crucifixion was a thing. Even before being Roman was a thing. 

Long ago, through their hero Moses, God had pointed to Christ on the cross. 

“The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”
~ Numbers 21:8 

The Red Thread of Jesus via JeanWilund.com

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;”
~ John 3:14

Through the prophet Zechariah, God had revealed how Christ would die.

“…they will look on Me whom they have pierced…”
~ Zechariah 12:10

The leaders picked up stones and set out to kill Jesus, but fortunately, God is not hindered by man’s plans.

“…they tried to seize Him, but He escaped their grasp.”
~ John 10:39

Not even a crowd can hold onto one man if that one man is the Son of Man. 

Two other times Jesus slipped away from those who wanted to kill Him before His appointed time, place, and manner. (John 7:30, Luke 4:30)

No one could lay a hand on Jesus at that time because God required a cross, not a stone.

Jesus Came to Set Us Free, Not Be Set Free

The Jewish leaders had tried to kill Jesus before His hour had come. 

The Roman Governor, Pilate, tried to do the opposite. He tried to set Jesus free.

So Pilate said to Him [Jesus], “You do not speak to me?
Do You not know that I have authority to release You,
and I have authority to crucify You?”

The Red Thread of Jesus via JeanWilund.com

Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me,
unless it had been given you from above . . .”
As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him . . .
~ John 19:10-12a

Jesus’ words transformed Pilate from speaking with boldness and arrogance about his great authority to quaking in his Roman sandals.

Pilate had set out to put Jesus in His place. Jesus showed Pilate that His place is above all earthly rulers.

It seems Pilate grasped this truth enough to make “efforts to release Him.” 

When you’re one of the heads of the government in Jerusalem, that shouldn’t be too difficult, unless the Head over All intervenes.

God moved because Jesus came to set us free, not to be set free. 

Christ Had an Appointment With The Cross He Couldn’t Miss

God wouldn’t allow Pilate to cancel Jesus’ appointment with the cross even though Pilate was right. Jesus wasn’t guilty of any wrong.

Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.”
~ Luke 23:4

The Red Thread of Jesus via JeanWilund.com

And Pilate summoned the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him.
~ Luke 23:14

The Red Thread of Jesus via JeanWilund.com

And he [Pilate] said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; therefore I will punish Him and release Him.”
~ Luke 23:22

All through the last week of Christ’s life, God moved each of the players into place so our relationship with Him could be restored. 

If Jesus had been killed before the appointed time, place, or manner, or if He’d been set free and not crucified, we’d be lost today.

Everything would be different.

We’d be without our Savior, and we’d have a God who wasn’t able to save us. 

We’d be without hope. 

But God is able, and we do have a Savior—a crucified and risen Savior.

We’ve been set free because Jesus wasn’t.

for truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place.
~ Acts 4:27-28

If God Can Orchestrate Christ’s Life, He Can Orchestrate Yours

At times, it looked like God’s plan was falling apart. But He never lost control.

God worked all things out perfectly for our good and His glory.

But sometimes even God’s perfect plan involves pain and heartache for a good purpose that we, unfortunately, don’t always get to understand this side of heaven.

Let’s not lose heart when we feel like the plan for our life must be falling apart.

Pray and trust God to work in His time.

Look to Him for your next step.

God never fails. 

The Red Thread of Jesus via JeanWilund.com

Share this post with your friends and family and join me tomorrow as we move through Easter week to Resurrection Day. 

God required a #cross, not a stone, & Jesus came to set us free, not to be set free. #Easter Click To Tweet

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Just When We Thought We Were In Control, The Ants Came: “Cast My Cares” by Finding Favour (Monday Music)

Just When We Thought We Were In Control, The Ants Came (What I Learned About Letting Go of Control and Casting My Cares on God from a Horde of Ants) Featuring "Cast My Cares" by Finding Favour via @JeanWilund.com

Melissa wanted control.

But then the ants came.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Let me back up.

My sister is moving from a large home overflowing with three generations of furniture and memorabilia to another state (my state — yay!) all by herself.

I drove down to offer what little help I could this week. I arrived to chaos.

Even the best of moves create chaos before order can be restored.

Melissa likes order.

A lot.

In her desperate attempt to control some aspects of this move, she ordered two oversized wooden storage crates delivered to her driveway.

She meticulously sealed boxes of clothing, comforters and blankets with strong packing tape and transferred them out of the cluttered house and into the crates.

There’s nothing like neat rows of boxes lined up in a storage container to make you feel like you’re gaining control.

The crates stood in her driveway as a testament to her small corner of sovereignty in this overwhelming move. 

Have you ever noticed that God has a way of reminding us that we’re not really in control as much as we think?

The storage crates turned out not to be as useful for her move as we’d hoped for various reasons. We now needed to transfer the boxes out of the crates and back to the house.

I lifted one of the boxes and was greeted by a flood of massive, black ants pouring out of the smallest possible opening in the box — the box that I was holding.

Most of the ants were hauling huge, white egg sacs. All were in a panic, scurrying towards the fastest route to the ground — me

It felt a little like a horror film.

This was an ultimate “Are you kidding me?” moment.

At these times, my friends and I love to say, “We can laugh, or we can cry.” 

I discovered a third option that day. We can scream.

Or, in Melissa’s and my case, we can do all three.

The whole episode was horrifying, sad and yet, actually a bit hilarious.

It was mostly horrifying. Ants everywhere!

The worst part was that the ants had destroyed some of her heirloom clothing.

“But I sealed every box so carefully!” Melissa said, as we unpacked each ant-infested box.

I could see the extreme disappointment etched on Melissa’s face. My heart broke for her.

All her hard work had been for nothing.

All her careful planning had been thwarted by a horde of ants.

And then the rains came.

Yes, the skies opened up on us. Now we were ant-infested and wet.

Is it really too much to ask to be allowed to control even just a small part of our lives?

I don’t think God wants us to give up planning or organizing. God is a God of order, and I believe He wants us to be orgainzed, too.

But I also believe He knows us and knows when we need to be reminded that He — not we — are in control.

Sometimes we need to be reminded because we’re acting as though we’re the Great I AM instead of Him. We need a serious reality check.

Other times, like in my sister’s case, it may be because the cares of this world are crashing in around us. God wants us to stop grasping for control and cast our cares on Him instead.

Click to watch the music video "Cast My Cares" by Finding Favour via www.JeanWilund.comGod is overseeing everything that concerns us. 

When we let God be God and handle all our cares, our cares have nothing to feed on. They stop growing.

In fact, the longer we cast our cares on God, the smaller our cares become until they eventually disappear. 

When ants march in, we don’t have to panic. We can trust in God that He’s working everything out for our good and His glory, and then we grab a blower. 

You’d be surprised how much wind an ant can endure before they lose their grip and blow off into the woods, but eventually, like our cares cast onto God, they disappear.

Melissa had lost control, but in the end, she was laughing and reminded that God is in control — not her, nor the ants, thankfully.

Let’s cast all our cares on God.

Let’s not allow a single one back into our hearts.

If we leave any, they may build a new nest and before we know it, another horde of cares is overwhelming us.

Are you grasping for control over even a small corner of your life? 

Has God allowed something to disrupt what little control you had? 

Are your cares taking over like a swarm of ants fouling up the peace in your heart?

Care your cares upon God. He cares for you. He’ll never let you down.

The band Finding Favour captures this beautiful truth in their song, Cast My Cares.

Trade your troubles for God’s peace in your soul today. Cast your cares upon God!

“Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.”
~ I Peter 5:7 (KJV 2000)

If this song encouraged you, I hope you’ll share it.

And if you’ve ever had one of those moments God reminded you that you’re not the one in control, I’d love to hear from you. What’s your God story?

Click to TweetCast your cares upon God! Listen to “Cast My Cares” by Finding Favour

Surrendering to God: The “Want to Want to” Dilemma (Part Three – The Surrender Series)

Surrender to God: "The Want to Want to" Dilemma  (Part 3 in Surrender Series via www.JeanWilund.com)

Surrendering to God: The “Want to Want to” Dilemma (Part Three in the Surrender Series)


“Everyone is leaping off the cliff into the soft sand. I really want to do it, too, but I can’t.”

Really? I really want to?

Unless my legs don’t work, no one is believing my claim of I really want to.

“I know I need to forgive her, and I really want to, but I can’t.” 

Really? Is it physically impossible to forgive her?

“Officer, I really wanted to obey the speed limit, but I just couldn’t.”

Wow! Unless the car drove itself, he’s not buying that one either.

Of course, what I really mean is, I can, but I don’t want to leap, forgive, or obey the speed limit.

But I sure wish I wanted to.

It’s what I call the “Want to Want to” Dilemma.

The basis for this principle is: 

Man will always do
whatever he wants to do
as long as he’s physically capable
of doing it. 

No matter how much I think or declare that I want to do something, the truth is, I don’t, or else I would, if I physically could.

The only thing holding us back from surrendering to God, then, is our lack of want to.

Our true desires determine our ultimate choice. 

If we haven’t surrendered to God, it’s because we don’t want to. 

We only want to want to. 

That’s the “Want to Want to” Dilemma.

As long as we only wish we wanted to surrender, we won’t. 

We must pass from wanting to want to surrender to God to wanting to surrender to Him.

Then nothing will stop us. 

It’s a simple principle. 

I want to fly like Peter Pan, but that’s physically impossible, so I can’t. 

But, if I had a wingsuit, I’d be physically able.

I could leap off a cliff and soar through the air like Peter Pan.

Since I say I want to fly like him, would I jump with a wingsuit?

No way! I’m terrified of heights, and wingsuits require leaps off ridiculous heights.

As Peter Pan, I was only planning on flying five feet off the ground. 

But I want to want to jump off a cliff in a wingsuit. Those guys are having the time of their lives.

Sadly, I hate the feeling of falling — especially the out-of-control and smashing into the ground type of falling that I’d be doing.

My want to is too weak to leap.

A weak want to also makes it impossible to forgive someone we don’t want to forgive.

We can say the words, but the forgiveness is not truly in our hearts, unless the want to is also there.

True surrender is a matter of the heart.

We can push a person off a cliff, but we can’t push them into surrender.

We can’t even push ourselves.

We can walk and serve in obedience to God, but it’s not surrender if the heart has not joined our hands and feet.

Surrendering to God should be as easy as saying yes to chocolate mousse. [Tweet this]

It’s moving out of the “Want to Want to” Dilemma and into the “Want To” that’s hard.

To move out of the “Want to Want to” Dilemma
into a pure “Want To,” we must:

1. Accept the fact that we only want to want to.

2. Face the hard truth of why we don’t really want to.

3. Resolve the issue(s) by believing the truth of God that overcomes our objections.

The steps are simple, but not necessarily easy.

We’ll have to face some hard truths about ourselves we may not want to face.

The first truth is that we don’t really want to surrender to God after all.

Then we must look for the root of why we don’t want to surrender. (See my post: My Top Ten List of Why I Don’t Want to Surrender to God.)

Once we’ve faced the hard truths, we must humble ourselves and resolve the issues. We must reject the lies we’re believing that are holding us back and accept God’s truth.

Only when we accept God’s truth, will we move into a place of pure want to

In the video below, Jeb Corliss displays a pure want to when it comes to flying.

He does something I could never do because I’ll never want to.

He Peter Pans off a tall cliff and sails through the air in nothing but a wingsuit.

My favorite moment comes at 1:40 seconds into the video.

We get a surprising realization of how fast he’s really flying. Yikes!

Like flying in a wingsuit, surrendering to God is a leap of faith that can feel more like a free fall.

But unlike a wingsuit, we’re not surrendering to something we must control.

We’re surrendering to a God who’s able to control our entire lives.

Our job is to stay surrendered, or we’ll likely crash.

Only God knows what’s around the next corner. It’s best to let Him lead.

It may be dangerous and scary at times. But for those who are willing, it’s the purest thrill.


If you don’t understand what surrendering to God really means, this Surrender Series is designed to help. I hope you’ll follow along. Subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss a single post.

Can you identify the different “Want to Want to” Dilemmas in your life?

What difference will this make to you today?

I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment.

And remember, sharing is caring, so please share. Thanks!!


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Three Things You Need To Pave Over the Pitfalls of Change

Change isn't just coming for us! It's here! We can laugh or we can cry -- we choose to laugh!

Change isn’t just coming for us! It’s here! But we’re enjoying the ride!

If you read my post, Monday Music ~ We Won’t Be Shaken, then you know change isn’t just coming for Larry and I — it’s here!

It’s in our face! We might as well enjoy it.

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go ahead and read it now.)

As Larry and I have been adjusting to this big change in our life, we’ve been uncharacteristically calm.

Ok, let’s be real. I’ve been uncharacteristically calm.

If Larry were uncharacteristically calm, I’d be writing this from the hospital because it’d mean he’d gone into a coma.

In every life, a big change will bring a suitcase of emotions with it. Some of us just wear our emotions in brighter, showier colors, but we all feel them. We all face them.

Hopefully by now you’ve figured out that emotions often lie. We absolutely, positively can’t depend on them. They can manipulate us and convince us of things that just aren’t real.

Destructive emotions like anxietyfear, anger, depression, and a host of others that scream for attention, are a very real pitfall of change.

Positive emotions like excitement, anticipation, and relief can even be a pitfalls when they interfere with our ability to focus and get the job done.

No matter what kind of pitfalls we encounter, there’s a way to avoid smacking into them full force and ending up with a flat tire.


We can’t avoid pitfalls — or at least I can’t — but when we see them, we can pave over them with these three things: Prayer, Faith, and the Promises of God


1. Prayer

Listen to what Martin Luther said:

“I have so much to do that
I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” 

~ Martin Luther

Martin Luther towers above most men in history because God made him great.

God could make him great, because Luther spent much time in prayer asking God to have His way with him.

Of course, we should continually have an attitude of conversing with God throughout the day. However, if all we ever do is pray on the go, we won’t go very far. 

Prayer that changes us requires an investment of time — time that you can’t afford to skip. 

If we could sit for an hour with someone who is already in life where we wanted to be, we’d grab it. Yet, we feel too busy to sit and listen to God for an hour.

If God is able to do exceedingly abundant above all that we could ask or imagine according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20) — and He is — why would we not take the time to sit and listen to Him?

Martin Luther listened and then moved with boldness where God led. I think we’ll all agree, he went pretty far.

2. Faith

Listen to these words of Jesus on faith:

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus.
“Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said,
“I do believe; help my unbelief.””

~ Mark 9:23-24

In another incident, a Roman centurion absolutely believed. He had faith that Jesus could heal his paralyzed servant from anywhere with just a word (Matthew 8:5-13).

He was right.

Another Roman official had faith more like the father in the Mark 9 passage above — he believed, but . . .

When the official came to Jesus, he begged Him to come to his home and heal his son (John 4:46-54). He had faith that Jesus could heal his son if Jesus were in his son’s presence.

Jesus healed the official’s son with just a word even though his faith wasn’t as deep as the centurion’s. 

Regardless of how much faith the two men had, they both came to Jesus with the faith they had — and that’s what matters.  

Jesus can take whatever faith we have and do staggering things with it and through it, if we’ll just come to Him. 

As we keep coming to Christ, our faith will grow and strengthen.

3. The Promises of God

Here’s a compelling statement:

“If we consider the unblushing promises of reward … promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
~ CS Lewis

Too many of us are like Esau in the book of Genesis. We’d rather have a bowl of stew now than a promise of God later.

Waiting on God’s promises to be fulfilled in our lives can feel like torture. At times, it’s clear to us that our life is falling apart, when in reality, it’s falling into place. You have to break a lot of glass to make a mosaic window.

Larry and I have recently had the incredible pleasure to meet a man who knows about life falling apart.

Charles Livingston was released from prison on September 3rd after spending 33 years of a life sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. 

Charles would be the first to tell you that going to prison for a crime he didn’t commit was a nightmare, but no matter how it felt at times, God remained faithful to His Promises and to Charles — even before Charles knew Him.

Charles came to know and trust in Christ in prison. At first he struggled to believe God’s promises, but through his devotion to studying God’s Word, he came not only to know His promises, but rest and rejoice in them.

Because he believed God’s promises, Charles was freer in prison than most are outside prison walls. 

Every time Charles sat before the parole board and they denied him again, he rested in the assurance that God would release him when it was time. When he wasn’t released, He willingly accepted that God had more for him to do where he was.

Thankfully, the time was finally fulfilled — His independence day finally came.

God opened floodgates of support for Charles’ release. Even the prosecutor, who had once declared that Charles would never walk the streets of Columbia again, wrote a letter to the parole board in support for his release, stating Charles was not involved in the crime.

Only God could have done that, and He did it in His perfect timing.

Charles would probably rather not have had to go to prison, but the nice, simple life Charles was living at the time may have far too easily pleased him — to use CS Lewis’ words above — and he would have missed out on the real life: life in Christ. 

The only reason we fret and worry in the midst of change is because we either don’t know the promises of God, or we don’t believe them.

The only way we’ll know the powerful promises God has for us is to spend time in His Word consistently — and if you’ve read my blog for long, you know I’m talking about spending time in His Word every day.

The more time we spend studying and loving His Word, the more it begins to change us from the inside out and hold us strong in the midst of change. 

Get Paving

Change is coming in each of our lives, and sometimes it comes so hard and fast that we need those around us to pave some of those pitfalls for us. We all need a little help from time to time.

Get paving.

Pave your own pitfalls with prayer, faith, and the promises of God, and be there for others who need help paving their own pitfalls.

The pavement will smooth your road out so you can enjoy the ride — for a little bit.

Another storm will come and pound new pitfalls into your life.

You’re gonna need more pavement.

An exciting adventure will arrive that will take you off the main road onto unchartered territory. 

You’re gonna need pavement for this, too.

Wherever God takes you, never stop paving. Prayer, Faith, and the Promises of God will take you exactly where He wants you to go.


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you’ll share it with others. Use the share buttons on the bottom of my post on my website — it’s not in the email.

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Monday Music — We Won’t Be Shaken (Building 429)

Click photo to view video: Music Monday: "We Won't Be Shaken!" by Building 429 ~    "Like a tree planted by the water . . . " ~ Jeremiah 17:7-8

Click photo to view video at bottom of the post: Music Monday: “We Won’t Be Shaken!” by Building 429 ~ “Like a tree planted by the water . . . ” ~ Jeremiah 17:7-8


Has your mountain risen higher?

Does your way seem unclear?

These two thoughts have crossed my mind lately since my husband resigned from the partnership of his firm.

Nevertheless, we won’t be shaken.

Chapter Two of Larry’s career was supposed to be retirement, not uncertainty.

Who just walks away during times like these? We have two in college — next year we’ll have three.

But when God calls, you go.

We will trust in You. 

It was clear to us that God was calling Larry to resign, but so unclear what God is calling him to do next.

But we won’t forget that You go with us, so we won’t fear.

Whatever comes our way, our eyes are on the Lord, and therefore, we won’t be shaken.

No matter where God calls us, we’re safer in the center of His will than we could be anywhere else in the world.

We will trust in Him.

What are you facing today? 

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in Him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
~ Jeremiah 17:7-8

Powerful verses!

Who could doubt God after reading those words of truth?

But look at the next verse!

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?”
~ Jeremiah 17:9


Trust God, but don’t you dare trust your feelings.

Maybe your feelings will align with truth, but more likely, they won’t.

If you’re feeling afraid, anxious, or despairing — if you’re feeling shaken — your feelings are failing you and ignoring the truth in God’s Word.

The heart is such a tricky thing — a deceitful thing. There’s no cure for the deceit, but there is an answer.

We can’t make the sun rise in the middle of the night, but we can turn on a light.

Christ is the light that shines into the darkness. He goes before us, behind us, and beside us, and therefore…

Whatever comes our way, we won’t be shaken.

Christ will never lead you some place only to abandon you.

He may lead you into a fiery furnace or the pouring rain, but if He does, He’ll keep you safe and bring you out without even the smell of smoke on you — and then you’ll have the coolest story to tell.

Am I really not afraid in these uncertain times?

Yes, I’m really not afraid. I’m actually excited to see where God’s taking us!

Thank you, Building 429! This song is a powerful anthem for all of us who have no idea where God is taking us next.

But we won’t be shaken!  


If you’ve faced an uncertain time in your life, how did God strengthen you and/or guide you? Please share in the comments. I’d really love to hear from you. 

If Building 429’s song encouraged you, I hope you’ll share it with others so they can be encouraged too. (Use the handy share buttons.)

And if you feel led to pray, Larry and I would greatly appreciate your prayers for clear guidance from the Lord as we move forward in Chapter Two of his career. Thanks!

Are you currently going through uncertain times of your own? How can we pray for you? Share in the comments. 🙂


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Click to Tweet: Whatever may come my way, I won’t be shaken! Listen Now: Monday Music — We Won’t Be Shaken (Building 429)