God’s Perfection – Me!

Life isn’t about finding yourself.  Life is about CREATING yourself.  -George Bernard Shaw

Who Am I?

Maybe I have been trying to find myself for too long, and now I finally realize that I should have been creating myself.  So, if I want to create myself then I must look deeply at who I am.  So who am I?

I Am A Christian

First and foremost, I am a Christian.  I am not a perfect Christian because I fall short of God’ glory each and every day and seek his forgiveness and mercy in my daily life.  I believe in and love the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior.  Sometimes, I forget what an important piece this is in my life and that nothing else that I do is more important than my life as a Christian.  I am reminded by John 3:16 ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  This famous verse in the core of my faith.  God has provided an opportunity for me to show the world how God has saved and blessed me.    Recently, My husband and I were given the chance to share his grace with a neighbor.  We did not have a sit down and discuss, but just modeled his love and blessings in our lives and tried to help her refocus all her anger and bitterness on the positive.  She has just let life get the best of her like so many of us and learning to lean on Christ in both the good and the bad is what should truly define our lives.  I pray that I continue to CREATE myself as a Christian so that others will always see Christ as Matthew 7:16 reads, “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”  I pray I bear his fruits.

I Am A Wife And Mother

As I really look at the life I am creating, I see the blessings I have from a loving husband of 28 years and two beautiful adult daughters.  I know that as a mother I failed them both many times, but I hope that above all they knew I loved them and Christ.  Psalms 127:3 brings me joy, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”  I hope that somehow I showed them how to love those that God will place in their lives both now and in the future.  Being a mother never really stops as I continue to pray for their futures, their lives, and that they will be blessed.  I could not have been a loving mother without a loving husband by my side.  He is my greatest blessing from God.  Ephesians 4:32 defines my marriage blessing, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  My heart hurts when I think about how I have let him down, but the life that he has given me is one of laughter, fun, and dreams lived.  He helps me see the future so that I can believe in my own dreams.  Each day and each year just gets better and I can’t wait for the future with him.  He is the gift God gave me so that I could CREATE the real person that I truly am.

I Am An Educator

God has given me the great opportunity to work with so many children in my career.  I get excited when I bring a child and learning together.  I love the sparkle in their eyes when the learning means something to them deep inside.  I know that this comes from the Lord because Jesus has a special place in his heart for children, Matthew 19:14 reads, “But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.””  Over the last twenty years, I have been a school librarian and this has changed my life.  Working with both students and teachers in this role has allowed me so many opportunities to see not just the success in the classroom but around the world.  Proverbs 8:10 clarifies this purpose, “Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold,”  I hope that my future somehow holds a piece of this in it because I truly love this part of me, but I know that it is not the definition of who I am or who I want to be.  It is just a piece of me, but a piece that I love.

I CREATING Myself To Be Free

What I have learned about myself is that I want to live a life as free as the life Christ has established for me.    What does that mean? Psalm 119: 105 explains it this way, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  I look for the path where I feel free and I find that is when I am on the sand and near the water.  This is when I feel free.  I want a simple life that is what is deep down inside.  I want to CREATE that person who needs less, loves more, and explores the beauty of God’s creation all around me – (but especially those areas near a beach and the water!)  Digging deeper into myself has allowed me to really see what I have been created to love and to be.  I am ready to start CREATING a new part of me!  “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11

Closing Verse:  Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

Challenge:  Stop trying to find yourself and look deep inside so you can CREATE who God planned for you to be.

 

Perfection

Blue Angels Fly

After a weekend celebrating the birth of this great country, what better way to capitalize on this celebratory time then to experience the Blue Angels.  This past weekend my husband and I had the honor of watching the Blue Angels perform.  This was our first experience watching them fly and it was sweeter because we were in their home base of Pensacola, Florida.  The Blue Angels are heroes here, and I was continuously reminded the ultimate hero in my life.  As I watched each performance of perfection,  I thought of Christ perfection and his call for such precision in our lives.  Christ’s life is an example of the perfection we seek as we walk through this life.  Such perfection is hard to attain, but watching the Blue Angels fly is as close an example of human perfection one maybe able to find on this earth.  These navy pilots can not risk imperfection because it will and has cost a life.  They must be exact in their precision of moves while in flight or the results will cost them theirs.  This precision causes many especially at their home base look upon them with awe.  This is the same awe we should wake each morning with as we focus on our Savior.  We must also train like the Blues so that we can walk with precision through our daily lives.  2 Timothy 3:16 provides the way, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”

Aspiring for Perfection

Watching the Blues really had me focusing on Christ’s life and how he provided the perfect model for us all to follow, but knowing we would fail he open the door for us all be becoming the perfect sacrifice for our sins.  I look at my life and I want to see someone aspiring for perfection, but usually I just find a sinner who desperately needs her savior.  I know that my life is a work in progress, and that I must always be striving to attain the perfection that Christ showed us all when he walked this earth.  It seems so simple to think, say, and write, but I believe we all know it is extremely difficult to even come close to Christ.  Knowing this struggle, I am thankful for the sacrifice the Lord made in sending his son and that Christ himself was willing to hang on that cross so many years ago to wash away the sins of my imperfection.  My comfort is found in 1John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”  I long for the day that I stand cleansed before the Lord.

Christ’s Perfection

Christ walked on this earth to show us all the perfection of the Lord and the provide us with the greatest gift of all.  This gift of sacrificing his only Son so that we might all live forever in His Glory.  I am thankful for the vivid reminder of Christ’s perfection and sacrifice.  Hebrews 10:14 reads, ”

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”   This scripture,  refocuses me to strive to live a life for Christ.  He asked very little of sinners in return, but to follow him.  Follow him I will as Matthew 10:38 commands, “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

Closing Verse: John 3:16, ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Challenge:  Are you walking toward the cross today?

 

Choosing Freedom

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Freedom!

July 4th celebration is a reminder of our freedoms here in America, and that these privileges that we have came at a cost.  The price that so many paid by sacrificing their lives so that this country could stand as it does today.  These sacrifices can never be forgotten.  There will always be sacrifices that will have to be made for the United States to continue to stand strong in the world.  This week is when we stop and remember.  These freedoms and sacrifices should also cause us all to pause and remember the ultimate sacrifice that was made for us so long ago by Jesus Christ.  “Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.” Acts 13: 38-39

Freedom through Sacrifice

Freedom was purchased for us by Christ as he sacrificed himself for our freedom from sin.  Christ’s sacrifice may even have been a model by which revolutionaries and patriots chose to fight and raise up this country so many years ago.  Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  These words were not just words that the first signers used without regard to their true meaning.  The signers were purposeful in choosing these words for our country to stand strong for 241 years now.   These words are significant not just to our country but our faith.  Galatians 5:13 reminds us, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  We must love our neighbor just as we would love ourselves.  Sometimes we maybe called to sacrifice.  Now, I must use the freedoms given to me to use for good as 1 Peter 2:16 reads, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”

Christ’s Sacrifice

I began my focus on Freedom before the July 4th holiday after reading a devotion that focused on this verse.  (I am sharing two versions as I prefer the NLT translation.)

Psalm 119:45, “ I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments” (NLT)

 “and I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.” (ESV)

As I read this verse, I could not help but make the connection from the sacrifices made for America and the sacrifice made by Christ for our souls.  Christians of different sects come together to create a country that would be accepting of different beliefs but allows for the compassion and tolerance that Christ modeled in his life.  Christ sacrifice brought Hebrews and Gentiles together into one family through his love and sacrifice for all our sins.  The Patriots chose to build a country that brought many together through their own blood and sacrifice. 

Christ is a Firework

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While watching fireworks explode across the water, I saw the beauty even though it was brief.  What a powerful symbol not just to celebrate our country, but as a symbol of Christ’s short life.  Although he only walked on this earth for around 30 years, his impact is still felt today.  He is like a firework exploding in the sky.  These are quick and beautiful and we remember that beauty until we get to see some again.  I cling to Christ’s beauty until I am able to behold him with my own eyes.   John 8:36 confirms my freedom through the Son, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Closing Verse: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32 

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Challenge:  Be thankful each day for the sacrifices made for both your country and your soul.

Finding God in my Mirror

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Constantly, I battle within myself over my outward appearance, and this ultimately effects my inner self.  My blessing has come with age as I am able to accept who I am both inside and out.  Yet, from time to time I drift back into my negativity which affects those close to me.  Although verses of scripture tells my heart that God is with me and loves me for who I am, I always find a way back down that dark path.  One of my favorite scriptures that I open often is found in Matthew 6: 26, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”  I know God is there in my mirror, but sometimes I just fail to see him loving and caring for me.

Last week was one of those weeks, when I just could not find the good in myself.  I just looked in the mirror and saw this person that I did not want to see looking back at me.  Instead of heeding 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”  I cast my negative doubts on others like my husband.  He carries the burden of not being able to help me through the valley because this is not his valley.  But, I drag him down into it with me anyway each time I go down this dark path.  He is a loving husband who always has the right words that I just fail to hear.  His constant love and devotion always brings me out of the valley and reminds me of Proverbs 16:24, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”  I must hear his words which are from the Lord in order to heal my body and my soul.

As I ponder the reflection in the mirror this week after I have found my way out of the valley, I realize that God does not really look at me the way others do and the way mirror reflects.

1 Samuel 16:7 reads, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Knowing now that God looks at my heart, I need to stop pursuing the mirror and focus harder on my heart for the Lord using the words from Proverbs 23:12, “Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.”  This scripture causes me to reflect how focusing more on my heart might help my view in the mirror.  Can I and will I find God in the mirror?

I spend more time reflecting now on who I really am and the gifts that God has given me.  This is the only way I can focus myself away from the dark path.  I make peace with the spirit God has given me.  1 Peter 3:4 reads,  “But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”  I grasp for this verse and the message it writes on my heart.  I am precious in his sight.  Once again, I can stand on the mountain top and look in the mirror and see the gift that Christ has given me.  I see my new self given to me through Christ sacrifice on the Cross.  “And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”  Scripture from Colossians 3:10 brings this comfort to my heart and the image I see in the mirror.  I am blessed!

Closing Verse:   “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10

Challenge:  Are you finding God in the mirror?  Are you focusing on your heart so it will shine through on the outside?

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God’s Protection

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The past several weeks have been both a busy and exciting time for our youngest daughter, but also one that has taught my husband and I to lean on God and know that he is holding her in his hands.  She finished her internship, another blessing from God, gave all her possessions to her Dad and jumped on a plane to travel across Europe for two weeks.  What does this means for me?  Lots of prayer.  Giving her to God, giving all my worries to God, and praying for his protection and guidance for her.  Scripture has become a comfort as I read with purpose to diminish my anxiety and worry, and look for God’s Grace.

By choosing to turn to scripture, I receive great comfort and God’s grace is easily found in his word.  My husband and I have told our daughter over and over go and do what you want now before your life fills up with responsibilities that will make it harder, so it should not be unexpected that she is doing just as she was told!  These different choices that she is making in her life leads me back to God for comfort.  I want her to live the words of Jeremiah 29: 11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” and as she now is striving to live these words from scripture, I pray she waits always on the Lord.  Isaiah 40:31 is a reminder of God’ timing and that we should follow his will, ” But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  I long to see her mount up with wings like an eagle and soar.

When searching for scriptures on protection, I found so many that compares the Lord to a mother eagle.  As I read these, I identify with my over protective self just as God can be over protective of me, yet he allows me to make mistakes, make choices, and celebrates in my successes.  I have to be like the mother eagle who is protective but wants her babies to fly.  She is willing to allow her babies to take risk so they will spread their wings and soar.  The mother eagle’s pride comes from their soaring away from her not clinging to her.

What does scriptures say about protection compared to an eagle?  Here are a few of my favorite from Psalms that I have been cherishing over the last week.

  • “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.”  Psalm 36:7
  • “Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah.” Psalm 61:4
  • “He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.” Psalm 91:4

Although, they don’t refer directly to an eagle, I picture a great eagle.  When wings are spread for me to take shelter or protection under I see an eagle wing.  An eagle is a majestic bird and my simple brain can only draw that comparison.  In reality, I know that God’s protection and wings are nothing that I can truly comprehend or know until I am in his presence in heaven one day, but until then I will visualize the mother eagle spreading her wings over her eaglets.

As I must now remove my wings and let her fall under God’s wings, I realize that he is now in control of her path.  I must heed 1Peter 5:7, “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”  Scripture tells me to give my worries to God and he will care for me.  As I receive strength from scripture, I am reminded that he cares for her and will direct her path.  The Lord assures me in Psalm 25: 4-5, “Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day.” that if she knows him and his ways he will direct her towards salvation.  So my prayer for her is found in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.”  I pray God’s word will light her path and he will keep her in the shadow of his wings just as Psalm 17:8 reads, “Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.”

As I pray for her journey across Europe, I find myself praying for her path in life and that God will direct her and she will seek his word and guidance as she grows and prepares for her future.

Closing Verse: “For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.”  Psalm 31:3

Challenge Verse:  “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Psalm 22:6.  Know that if you have planted the seed of the Lord in your children that God will cultivate those seeds one day.

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Did I Do The Right Thing?

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The past week in our house there has been a focus on the Dove House and their annual fundraiser.  My husband and I became involved 3 years ago with the Dove House and each year we feel our hearts pulled more and more to become involved with this organization.  This year I spent the week really looking over myself again and the decision I made or really didn’t make many years ago.  Many people know that my husband was a victim of a sexual predator.  When he was in the 4th grade, his teacher earned his trust and that of his parents and changed his life forever.  He wasn’t his only victim there were many others, little did we know how many till it all came out.  As he grappled with realizing the truth of what happened as he matured and believing that no one would believe him, as the teacher had earned so much trust from his parents and the community,  he hid this secret away.

One day while we were dating and soon to be married a door opened where he had the opportunity and chose to give me some insight into this part of his past.  Just a little piece of what had happened to him.  I chose to listen, question little, and to also never bring it up again.  Did I do the right thing?  Even with this decision I know God answers prayers, because I have spent our entire marriage not just praying for our marriage, or just for him, but praying for God to heal him.  Deep down I always knew that he was suffering and prayed for God to heal this pain.  Over those 22 years of pain, I was blessed to watch a slow healing process that prepared him for the time when he would really heal and get the opportunity to tell his story, face his abuser, and feel the relief of a conviction.  This alone does not end his healing or my prayers, but God has answered my prayers in helping him find healing.  As always I pray knowing that God answers prayers his way as Isaiah 55:8 reads, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.”  This verse brings me comfort that God was working in my decision.

Now as I look back, I have to ask myself did I do the right thing?  Did I make the right choice?  Should I have prodded for more back when he first confided in me?  Although the answer is yes every time I ask myself, I am thankful that God is in control and in his timing was able to provide my husband with the healing even so many years later in his life.  His blessings in our lives reminds me that I am not in control and that he is as Romans 8:28 states, ” And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” and for this I am thankful.  I believe that the Lord has been fighting for him all these years even while he was silent.

His silence struck me again this past week while listening to the radio when I heard the song “Still“.  The singer, Hillary Scott, spoke about how she wrote this song about the verse Exodus 14:14, “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” As I was driving to work, tears just welled up in my eyes, I immediately thought of how my husband had been silent, but then was reminded that the Lord had been fighting for him all these years.  He had prepared him for this time.  The Lord has been fighting for me as well in my silence.  God is Good!

Although, God has blessed us through this healing process by putting great friends around us, new friends who have suffered and understand his pain, and the great people of the Dove House, my heart tells me that I should have done more.  I feel it every time I have to tell his story and then my role and feel the guilt for not helping him sooner.  I feel the guilt that I know my husband has carried all these years for not speaking up sooner to protect other future victims.  I feel it when I think about the demons that have tormented him for so many years.  I feel it when I look in his eyes and see a new man now that has been freed of this terrible secret.  God gave him a voice at the time appointed, and he would want me to tell you that as he went through this process of court, jury selection, and sharing his story with strangers; he has been struck and moved by how many victims of child sexual abuse have been silently hurting.  He shares his story now empowered by God to bring darkness to light and let others know they are not alone.

Our blessing now from God is that forgiveness is real.  The promise of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  is God’s provision through the sacrifice of his Son that causes us to realize that we not only have to forgive easily each other but those who hurt us.  It seems so hard, but it is so fulfilling to release the pain and hurt to God and let him be the final judge.

Moving forward we support the Dove House because they do the work that is so desperately needed in our community and so many communities.  They support children as they move through the court system and finally recovery.  They make it safe to tell the truth and stop the abuse.  They save children.  I read this verse this week and it reminded me of the Dove House, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13.  The Dove House watches over, stands firm and is strong for those who aren’t.  May God continue to bless their work as they help others heal.

My constant prayer now is that God continues to heal those affected by child sexual abuse and, as my husband reminds me, there are many layers of victims even those that don’t think they are victims.   Family and others in the community today still do not believe that his abuser was guilty and he continues to have their trust.  May God show us the best way to use the truth to help others now that this secret is finally free, and that we will learn to be still while God is fighting.

Closing Verse: Romans 8:38-39 – “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Challenge: Romans 12:12 – “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”  Be constant in prayer for God is always fighting and working for your good.

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Listening to God

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Funny how God works on you sometimes, preparing you for the future that is to come.  I can look back now and see God at work for months in my life of my family.  I am the person who thinks I have it all worked out for everyone and then God comes along and turns my world upside down.  I have worked on this post before only to be moved to write something else, but now I am here again writing as God has spoken and now I am finally listening.  I have been mentally making plans for the future for one of my daughters.  I really believed that I had it all worked out for her.  I mean the Lord showed me closed doors and everything. Although, I knew the passion in her heart and what she wanted, and I did pray for the right doors to open that would show her the way.  Yet, I never expected that her persistence and prayers would be answered as they have been and my world rocked.  I am listening now God.  I know that I have not been.  Now, I can see how I did not stop to listen to your answers Lord because I was sure of mine.  I turn my ears back to you and to scripture.  James 1:1 reminds me, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;”.

These are powerful words that we forget in our daily lives especially – “quick to hear”.  As I strive to be a better listener to the students I work with, the adults who are my colleagues, and the world around me, I have to be reminded that it is most important to listen to God and hear him when he speaks even if those words are coming from the mouth of my own child.   Scripture is a keen reminder to me of how God’s people have chosen not to listen to him.  So many of these times his people failed to listen and suffered the consequences of failure to be “quick to hear”.  Did I fail his test?  Was he or is he testing me?  “you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” are words from Deuteronomy 13:3.  These words are a solemn reminder to me that I have to trust the Lord with all my heart and soul.

About a month ago this quote from Kyle Chandler showed up on my daily calendar, I am not sure why at the time I took a picture of the quote, but as God rocked my world this last week my thoughts went back to this quote.  Not for me but for the persistence of my daughter to get what she wanted for her future.  Now that I have been forced to listen to God and allow my daughter to walk her own path and not the one path that I was choosing for her,  I turn to God in constant prayer that will cause me to listen more intently to his words as he prepares not just her future but also mine.  It is important to me now that I have had my world rocked to stop and see the plans that God is laying for my family and that includes me.  I pray that the Lord hears my prayers as Psalm 61:1 states, ” Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer;”, and I constantly humble myself as Romans 12:12 reads, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”  I humble myself and pray and listen so that my prayers might be heard as John 9:31 reminds me, “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.” I am listening now Lord in order to do your will.

Closing Verse: ‘But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge,’  Acts 4:19

Challenge:  Are you listening to God or making your own way?  My challenge to you is to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” and find comfort in God’s plan.

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A Christian New Year: Meeting Jesus During Holy Week.

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“He is not here, but has risen.” (Luke 24:6)

Looking back over the Lent Season and more specifically Holy Week, I am reflecting on my relationship with Jesus.  This time of year is a like the new year, I realize that I need to tend to my relationship with Christ in order to grow stronger like the mustard seed in Jesus’s parable found in Luke 13:19, “It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”.  How did I tend my garden during Holy Week.

Holy Week began with Palm Sunday the reminder that Christ humbly entered into a week of suffering both knowing and understanding what the end would bring.  Jesus entered Jerusalem as a humble King but left crucified on a cross.  How should we as Christians reflect on this week and apply it to our lives?  Palm Sunday was a day I spent in reflection of the beauty around me, my family, and the life that God has blessed me with.  I was reminded of Christ as my King and Savior.  Also, sadly on this past Palm Sunday I was reminded of the violence that so many Christians suffer around the world just as Christ suffered to bring us to salvation.  The violence around the world and especially Palm Sunday must cause God to grieve for his people and his people must wonder what the future will bring as we move through Holy Week during such a volatile time in our world.  Palm Sunday reminds us that Jesus is peaceful and bring peace to our lives even in the midst of chaos.  As Holy Week begins my focus for the week even in my busy life is the walk with Jesus through this week.  I read his entry to Jerusalem and paused at Mark 11: 7-8, “And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.”  Palm Sunday for me was a day of reflection with little distraction from tending my garden.

Each day since Palm Sunday, I tried to understand Christ’s walk to the cross, and the lessons he taught the disciples and left for me during these last days.  He was preparing them for what they were going to witness in order to share the Gospel moving forward after the crucifixion, and he was preparing his people for a future with a resurrected Savior.

Monday, as I worked, I remembered that on this day Jesus entered the Temple in Jerusalem to find practices that where not for a house of the Lord.  Jesus drove out those who bought and sold in the Temple by overturning the tables.  He spoke in Matthew 21: 13, ‘He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”  Jesus did not show anger according to the disciples, yet spoke the truth of what he saw happening in the Temple.  He protected God’s house.  As I worked this day, I remembered Jesus and this frustration and walked through the day with Jesus as my focus.  Hold your tongue, speak truth, show love is my focus for this Monday of Holy Week.

The next day, Tuesday,  Jesus was met the Temple leaders who tried to question his authority.  Christ spoke and taught this day in parables as he spoke to the leaders and prepared his disciples for his coming death and resurrection.  As I read the lessons Jesus taught on this Tuesday before his death, I search for the lessons these parables can teach me today.  One parable is the parable of the Two Son’s (Matthew 21: 28-32) which illustrates Jesus rejection by his own people.  The lesson that Jesus has taught me today is to be careful and remember to humble myself before God and ask for forgiveness of my sins.  I tell students that their character is what they do when no one is looking, but I must remember that God is always watching and Jesus has reminded me of that today while reading the parables he taught on this Tuesday before his death.

On Wednesday, Judas conspires to betray of Jesus, yet in the evening Judas rebuked Christ for allowing Mary to wash his feet.  I try to get inside of Judas’s mind.  What was he thinking?  Did he love Jesus?  Was the money worth this betrayal?  Was he considering backing out?  I have never heard the term “Spy Wednesday”, but as I researched some of this Wednesday of Holy Week, I found this reference to this day.  Matthew 26: 14-16 clearly speaks of Judas’s betrayal, ” Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.”  This makes Wednesday a strange day to walk through.  Knowing what Christ knew about his future, about Judas, yet continuing to love through the pain he must have been bearing this week.  I find myself in prayer and thankful for the sacrifice Jesus has made for me.

Maundy Thursday has arrived and Jesus is preparing for his Last Supper and the final directions for his disciples.  He breaks bread and washes their feet showing his servant example to prepare the way for their ministry. John 13:5 shares Christ service to this disciples, “Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”  He poured out his love on his disciples knowing the outcome he faced within hours.  This Thursday I find myself focussing on God’ beauty around me.  The world he has created for me, yet his greatest gift he sacrificed for me.  I don’t stop and focus on Christ enough and show his love to others.  I fail to wash the feet of those around me as the example Jesus left for me.

Good Friday or “Black” Friday is here.  Why is it Good because Jesus suffered the unthinkable death and descended into hell to wash us clean.  He suffered so that we might not.  Jesus brought the “Good” back to his chosen.  He chose to suffer so that we would not have to even though we are more  deserving of this death.  I am humbled at his gracious love for me.  I can not get enough of the beauty around me and the handiwork of God.  As I watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico, I know he painted a beautiful picture for me that I did not deserve.  I am extremely humbled by his mercy.  So many years ago this Friday ended as described in Matthew 27:51, ” And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.”

The darkness of Saturday has fallen as Jesus death is real. His final words still ring in their ears and as I read them this morning they linger in my thoughts all day.  ‘When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.’  John 19:30.  It is hard today to really imagine the pain those close to Christ must have endured this day and the separation that Christ endured for us from his Father.  But the pain for his mother is something I can not imagine.  What she must have suffered watching him die on a cross before her eyes?  Even though Mary knew he was special and in God’s hands, the pain must have been crushing for her.  Saturday must have been a dark day for Mary as she grieved the loss of her first son.  This Holy Sabbath for the Jews must have seemed empty for many.  I know I feel the emptiness of this day, but long for the Glory Easter morning will bring.  A sense of renewal once again is coming.

Easter morning is here and I wake to a sense of peace and rest.  I walk through the day thinking of his sacrifice and glory.  I am indeed saved because Matthew 28:6 tells me, “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.  Come, see the place where he lay.”

Closing Verse:   “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Challenge:  Have you stopped to humble yourself before the Cross?  The cross which bore your savior so many years ago.  Even though Holy Week has passed don’t forget to stop and tend your garden.

Please share if lead…

#Redemption

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If you were following the NCAA tournament you could not have missed the redemption tour message from the Carolina Tarheel Basketball Team.  After the final game with the Redemption tour was complete, I started thinking about what the word redemption means.  What did it really mean to those twelve young men playing basketball.  Redemption is defined in two ways  the action of regaining or gaining possession of something or clearing a debt and the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.  Both apply to this years National Champions, but how does it apply to our lives?

During the Lent season, many Christians have turned their hearts toward Jesus and his sacrifice and humiliation to provide “the way” to our Father and everlasting life.  Hebrews 9:12 defines Christ’s redemption of us, ” he entered once and for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”  As I focus on discipline and sacrifice during Lent,  I compare my life to the redemption tour.  I reflect on the ups and downs of my life -both the joy and sin.  I see my failures and the hurt this causes those I love and most importantly Christ, yet in the end I know my debt is paid and I have been saved by Christ and one day I will live with him in heaven.

One part of the redemption definition focuses on being saved from sin.  This Easter season we remember the sacrifice that God made by providing his only son, Jesus, as a living sacrifice in order that our sin might be washed clean.  1 John 4:19, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”   With Christ partitioning for me before the throne, my sins are not forgotten but heaped upon Christ in order that I might be presented as a bride in her white gown.  Much like the team that has made numerous mistakes and their coach graciously and humbly accepted as his fault in order to put forth a complete team the next time they hit the court.  This sacrifice brought them to glory and a National Championship.  I long for my championship and my home in heaven with Christ.

The redemption definition also includes regaining or gaining possession of something or clearing a debt.  Christ as clearly paid our debt with his blood, his redemption for us.  We are reminded in Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” By paying this debt he has allowed me to gain possession of a heavenly home with him one day, my championship. As the Tarheels watched the clock tick down to zero, they could feel their redemption for all that had been lost in the last championship game, but this loss had now been regained.  Just as we were once lost we now are found in Christ, our shepherd, so that we might gain his glory through his redemption for us.  This gift is defined in Romans 3:24, “and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”.

Closing Verse:  “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” Ephesians 1:7

Challenge:  Have you stopped to discipline yourself and reflect on the sacrifice of Christ this Lent season.  As Holy Week comes to an end turn your focus to Christ’s gift of salvation through the cross.

Please share if so lead.

 

Come As You Are…

Come out of sadness
From wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted
Let rescue begin

My husband and I work the sound and presentation for Sunday mornings at our church once a month.  Recently, The song Come As You Are by David Crowder was sung at our church.  I listened to it during practice several times and then during worship.  For some reason every time I heard the words, tears filled my eyes and began praying for the Lord’s rescue in our lives.  I sometimes forget that when the mountain seems so high and the task so daunting that God is there.  I strive to have David’s faith as he met the Goliath.  In Samuel 17: 37, ‘And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!” ‘

Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face

Maybe it is due to the recent tears and pain in the life of my family that caused me to pause.  The words remind me of God’s love and that the pain here on earth will one day be healed in heaven.  This gives me great comfort in times of deep sorrow.  Deep sorrow of the depth of human sin and the lack of compassion and love we can have for one another.  We all choose to stand so strong on our beliefs that sometimes we don’t even try to understand, love, have compassion for our neighbor.  I sometimes just want to cry out to God to fix all this brokenness as David did in Psalm 57:2-3, “(2)I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. (3) He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me.  God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!”
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

There’s hope for the hopeless
And all those who’ve strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace

Bringing our sins and troubles to the Lord on humbled knees will provide a sense of comfort and grace in our lives.  As sinners when we lay all our brokenness before the Lord and lift our eyes for his mercy then our lives can find hope and love and peace.  This song reminds me to turn to his loving arms for comfort during these trials.  I must have the faith of David.  I will turn to my Father in heaven because my earthly life will fail me over and over.  The people in my life will fail me over and over.  The only constant is my Lord, as 2 Timothy 2:13 comforts me, “if we are faithless, He remains faithful – for He cannot deny Himself”
There’s rest for the weary
Rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t cure

There’s joy for the morning
Oh sinner be still
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal

My prayer is for the joy in the morning.  I know it may not come soon, but I will continue to pray for the  joy in the morning to arrive so the light of Jesus will shine on the darkness.  Until God brings joy from all this pain.  I Chronicles 16:33, “Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.”

David Crowder – Come As You Are Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Closing Verse:  John 9:5, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Challenge:  How can you help others walk through the darkness until they find the joy in the morning?