Forsaken

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying…”my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!”’

Why would the Father forsake His son?

This verse is listed twice in both Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 which only adds to its significance.

On the surface, we find that it is a reference to David’s Psalm 22. Here he is lamenting over his enemies mocking him and even dividing/casting lots for his clothing (sound familiar?).

The Jews who were there as Jesus cried out would have caught the reference and its meaning; our human dependency or desperation for God and the acknowledgment of that dependency. This inner longing for our Abba (father) to rescue us.

Of course there is a lot more that can be said about this scripture. But one thing stood out above the rest for me. And that is that Jesus knows what it means to be fully man.

He took on the full weight of our sin in that moment, and in doing so this cut him off from God (His source). In that moment, I believe the Holy Spirit within him grew quiet and Jesus felt what sin had severed; our relationship with God.

How far we have come from the Garden. That we no longer remembered what it was our soul craves. Walking with our Father in the cool of the day…complete and blameless before Him.

Jesus felt that separation for our sake. That he could destroy sin’s death grip on us, abridging the gap between mankind and God, and so that he could speak on our behalf. He became our intercessor, the one who knows what it’s like to be human, and to face our weaknesses.

He was killed as a criminal, the scapegoat for our sin, even though he had never sinned…

He faced hell (as in essence—the core attribute of hell is separation from God’s presence), and set the captives free.

Now, we may not be in the garden. But it exists within us. The Holy Spirit. The most misunderstood of the trinity, resides within us. And we don’t know exactly what that means or what to do with it. Jesus was our example of what a spirit-led life looks like.

“(Jesus speaking) Nevertheless, I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” —John 16:7

I pray that this Easter, you would read the story or watch an accurate depiction of the story of Christ, His death, and resurrection. That you would rediscover what it means to carry His Spirit within us and to release it to move through us in the Earth.

For now, I leave you with this:

If you were the only one on Earth, Jesus would still have died for you. He was a conduit of the Father’s great love for us and there is nothing so great a sin that His love didn’t cover.

God bless you all.

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A Reason To Sing

My husband, Aaron, leading worship in the face of a Covid outbreak at a neighboring church.

These past couple years have hurt. Deeply. Everywhere I turn it’s the same story, like a broken record. Pain—loss—fear. It’s more rampant than ever, and Hope? More scarce than ever.

The church (as a whole) made a grave error. Many turned their backs during a time when the world needed them most. In a lot of ways we collectively said, “Jesus isn’t enough,” and the world heard the message. And a bleak hopelessness set in…

We all carry scars now that we were never meant to carry, particularly alone. The devil has done what he set out to do, and now that Christmas is drawing near—he’s ever more dedicated to his cause. Is not Christmas and the coming Easter worth our final stand?

The two months that bring us Hope and remind us of the giver of Hope are under attack in ways we do not realize. I have friends who have turned from church and God, those who have lost so much these past years…and what kind of Hope can I give them?

Have I lost my Hope as well?

I’ve tasted depression and the void of loneliness that only comes in the absence of God in my life. There, my friends, is where you discover what hell is like. You see, we have a tendency to pull away from what would heal us when we are hurting. As “progressed” as we like to think of ourselves we are far from it!

Without God, we cease to have purpose and therefore begin to die. We can’t fully live without Him—we can’t go against the grain of our destinies.

Last night I read the story of Jonah and how he tried to flee from God and his destiny. As you know, he wasn’t given the choice to back down. After a fierce storm and time in the belly of a fish God had prepared to both discipline and protect him, he finally accepted his call to warn the people of Nineveh.

What happened after that? The people of Nineveh repented at Jonah’s warning and the city was saved. But Jonah again needed a lesson from God to remind him how valued each and every soul is to Him.

It reminded me of our own destinies. The church may have turned its back like Jonah on God’s call to save—but I believe, that also—like Jonah, they will be reminded of that call and either will repent and see a revival or completely fall away from their faith (pruned away like a rotting branch from the vine).

Those who turn from God will not find rest or Hope, they won’t even find contentment and wholeness because they’ve denied who they are and why they were created.

But those who heed the call and cling fast to Jesus during this time of trials, will find everything they need and more to withstand the storm yes, but also to heal and mend those who are hurting and point them to salvation. A gift that cannot be taken from you (unless you give it away).

And so I urge you brothers and sisters to turn your eyes back to God. It is very easy to get caught up in the things of this world but we can’t afford to lose sight of what matters most and sink beneath the waves like Peter. There is a reality that is unseen, that is more “real” than this plane of existence. Those who perish do not truly die, those who suffer now do so temporarily and are allowed to do so so that the love of Jesus can be demonstrated on this Earth.

We’re ambassadors from another place, representing the most High God in our words and by our actions.

This Christmas Eve, remember Jesus. Born in a disgusting manger, hiding from King Herod and his men. God on Earth—come to die at our hands, so that we could be with Him forever.

And that…is a reason to sing!

Not Covid, nor death, nor persecution, nor suffering, nor what powers govern our world—NOTHING can take this from you!

He is my reason to sing. Always and forever.

Even when I don’t feel joyful in the moment, or when I’m mourning…More of God is always the answer—not less.

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Who He Is

Way Maker

I’ve had this song on my heart this year, and I really believe it was written for such a time as this to remind us of who God is.

The devil is trying is best to make us forget and believe all that God isn’t. In all the fear and uncertainty surrounding us, we must be sure of this one thing—God is Good—and He is a way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper, and light in the darkness (hope) to this hurting world.

I want to break down this chorus phrase by phrase and back up these titles with biblical truth. Please feel free to listen to Way Maker while you read.

You are…

Way Maker

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19)

“…God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)


“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
(John 14:6)


“Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters.” (Isaiah 43:16)

Miracle Worker

“You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.” (Psalm 77:14)

“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”’ (Mark 10:27)

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24)

“The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book.” (John 20:30)

Promise Keeper

“Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.” (Joshua 21:45)

“For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20)

“…Who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions…” (Hebrews 11:33)

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

Light in the Darkness

“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)

“His radiance is like the sunlight;
He has rays flashing from His hand,
And there is the hiding of His power.”
(Habakkuk 3:4)

“From the brightness before Him
Coals of fire were kindled.”
(2 Samuel 22:13)

“And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.” (Matthew 28:3)

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)


“For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness.”
(Psalm 18:28)

My God, that is who you are…

After Easter

This Easter was the very first I spent at home.

I can’t even remember a time when I missed both Good Friday and Easter service! But there I lay in misery (very sick with a sinus infection), as my husband took our baby to church without me.

I knew the church would be packed, the kids ministry filled. And that America at large would be handing their children Easter baskets filled with toys, eggs, bunnies, and chocolate. After attending church (possibly for the first and only time this year).

Being stuck at home gave me pause to contemplate Easter. As a new mother I’ve come to think more deeply about matters I once overlooked. I want my son to hold Easter and Christmas sacred. I don’t want him to get swept into a sugar rushed frenzy thinking, “what’s in it for me?”

I’m not saying that Easter baskets are bad, or egg hunts and other games. So long as when you ask your child what Easter is about they don’t answer, “getting gifts, eating candy, bunnies and eggs…” etc.

I know it’s hard to grasp what Jesus did for mankind. It was bloody, it was unselfish, but it was the only way to cleanse us.

We protect children (and should!) from the dark horrors of evil. But sometimes I think we shield them too much or even unnecessarily.

Working with children I’ve learned that many of them are very aware of this world. They see it on the news, on the computer, through video games, and even from their parents and life situations.

They need tangible real truth in order to find a real hope that never leaves them, and that they never outgrow. The truth can be messy but there is a way to get the point across without going into every detail.

I mean making your kids watch the movie, The Passion of the Christ, probably isn’t a good idea. But showing them a crown of thorns and explaining that what Jesus did wasn’t joyful for him like what their coloring pages represent, but quite painful and hard.

Making them aware that evil does exist and we truly needed a savior to save us. That the devil is real and he is defeated. But he does still roam the earth seeking to destroy God’s people in many ways.

Teach your children not to fear but to put on the full armor of God. That they are powerful and have authority that makes demons flee because of the Holy Spirit within them.

As time passes, year by year, this world only darkens. And our walls of protection around our children are crumbling in its wake. It’s so vital that they don’t crumble with them. Unprepared for what’s out there.

Would you rather the world teach them what is right and wrong? Why things are what they are? Who the enemy is?

As my son went to church I cried.

You see I know a little about the pain of letting go. He’s never really been apart from me for more than 4 hours or so, and not with his dad, at church.

It might sound silly, but as a first time mother you go through this a lot. Every time you let go of your child you are letting go of control. You are letting go of your heart and believing and trusting it to come back to you.

Someday my little man will be a man, and I’ll still be feeling this weight as he walks out the door and gets behind a wheel. As he faces this world and its many temptations and fleshly desires. It’s lies and persuasions masquerading as truth and goodness. I’ll have to trust him and know that I did my best to prepare him for it all.

I titled this post After Easter because every day we should thank Jesus and remember His great sacrifice for us. Every day we live in the “after” days, the new covenant. And that is something to celebrate! Jesus is alive!

And now I get to feel an even greater depth of this sacrifice as I hold my son. Jesus died for him before I ever knew him, before his first heartbeat, his first cry…his first sin. God paid for it all.

May God bless you all, as you continue to remember Jesus and as you bring up the next generation in truth. May the Holy Spirit guide you in all things and fill your hearts and homes with peace that passes understanding. Amen.

Unstoppable Love

When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” -Matthew 8:1-4

I used to believe that every miracle Jesus did was to demonstrate to the world that He was the Messiah. That each act of power had a purpose in mind. To spread His ministry, challenge the Pharisees, or even propel Him toward the cross.

I guess I never really realized that many of Jesus’s first miracles were done in secret. Often we see him telling those He healed to keep quiet about Him. He even shuts the mouths of demons who knew He is the Christ. Mary even gets the “it’s not the right time, mom!” treatment for asking Him to do something at the wedding they were attending.

And yet, despite all of this, Jesus still healed everyone who asked for healing. He still turned water into wine at the wedding so that the celebration could continue. And He still cast out demons, knowing they would recognize Him.

The Leper who was healed in the passage above didn’t do what Jesus asked and instead told about Him all over town. This hindered Jesus’s impact in the city and He had to continue healing people outside its walls.

And so why did he risk it? Why did He heal people, like Peter’s mother-in-law who had a fever, or the paralyzed man by the pool of Bethesda? Surely, He could’ve waited and healed them when the time was right instead.

“Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.” (Matthew 20:34)

“I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come from a great distance.” (Mark 8:2-3)

“When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14)

“Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,He said. Be healed!”’ (Mark 1:41)

Jesus carried the all-consuming love of God inside Him. It was this great love that drove Him to heal and help whenever opportunities presented themselves. It was a selfless love that cared not what would happen so long as people were completely restored.

He didn’t heal from afar but got right down in the muck with people. The leper is a great example of this because lepers were considered the “untouchables” of society. They even had to yell, “unclean!” If people came within six feet of them unawares.

Six foot distancing sound familiar? Jesus didn’t just reach out toward the man, He took those six feet toward him and touched him! Can you imagine? Living for years with the identity of being unclean and never feeling the warmth of another human’s touch?

We’re to be moved by that same compassion toward today’s “untouchables.” Because we are God’s hands and feet in the world. How else will people know His love if we fail to demonstrate it? You may just be the only Jesus someone ever meets!

Notice also how Jesus never once went down the healing line like, “you’re healed, you’re healed, you can wait because God wants to teach you something through your illness.” Or “you can be healed, but to you I’ll give cancer to so that I receive some future glory from it.” Is that love? Does that sound like Jesus? And yet, these kind of beliefs are in our churches today.

The truth is in the Word. And in the Word we see the heart of God which holds nothing back and doesn’t hesitate to pour out love and healing upon us. Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the true heart of God on the earth.

If ever you find yourself doubting, turn to Him, read Matthew/Mark/Luke/John and place yourself in the story. You are the leper, the tax collector, the paralyzed man, the bleeding woman, the adulterer, etc.

Jesus wants to climb over your walls, and into your pit, into your pain. And pull you out. He has compassion for you, so much that He would’ve died just for you.

Never forget that.

Love Came Down

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“Jesus was God and man in one person, that God and man might be happy together again.”

-George Whitefield

Did everyone have a great Christmas this year? For me, it went very quickly and I found myself, for the first time, with very little to give in return for everyone else’s kindness. It’s a strange feeling, one of undeservedness as well as gratitude. Perhaps I’m still learning how to receive, and I honestly believe that as Christians we must learn this!

When you first bowed your head and surrendered your life to Christ, you received a gift you could never be worthy of, and yet, Christ made you worthy. We cannot give until we have first received. And what have we received? Why did Christ come and why did he have to die?

In my last post, we established God’s agape (unearned) love for us. Now, we take a step further into that great abyss of love, and hopefully, find ourselves falling even more madly in love with the one who brought us into being.

Many will try and sway you to believe in a God who would never bend, would never turn His eyes to man and sacrifice for him. They will say that God orchestrated this whole reality, and free-will is but an illusion. And to those arguments, I charge this question, “why Jesus?” Surely, something needed fixing, surely God could’ve started over instead of sacrificing His Son, or in essence “Himself.” That doesn’t sound like a distant uncaring God, but one who cares greatly about what occurs on this tiny spec of a world–the only one with life as we know it in an ever greater universe. The more I study it the more I realize we are the jewel, the very heart of God in all creation.

So, back to my question, why Jesus? I have recently had the privilege to read C. S. Lewis’s novel, Mere Christianity, which I highly suggest to anyone struggling with doubts of any kind regarding God’s existence, goodness, and ultimately His purpose. What I tell you today I repeat from this great book, and most likely inadequately so. C. S. Lewis is a great writer and Christian, but at one point in time, he too was lost and struggling with the meaning of life. He offers an insight that I am unable to offer myself since I grew up in church and in a believing home, a riper soil for spiritual growth.

However, despite this, I still found this book to be enlightening and faith-building. And so, I will share with you his take on why Jesus came, or more specifically, why God came down in the form of a man.

Upon wrapping up his discussion about God being good and completely righteous (He cannot deny Himself), and us falling away from unity with Him. We see that, even in the Bible, the rest of our story is built upon restoring what has been lost. The Old Testament demonstrates our great need for Christ in that we cannot wash ourselves clean and restore our relationship with God regardless of our striving attempts at righteousness. The law can’t be followed perfectly because we are imperfect.

In the coming of Christ, we see that God has a plan, an answer to our weakness. C. S. Lewis said that the only way we are cleansed is through repentance, and yet, he goes further:

“Repentance is much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing a part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death. In fact, it needs a good man to repent. And here comes the catch. Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person—and he would not need it.”   (pg. 57)

We were incapable of true and complete repentance. No amount of blood shed by animals was enough to cover our great transgression, that we sought to become like God. Pride entered our hearts the day Eve listened to the serpent and Adam stood watching. That day, satan pulled man into the very same transgression he was guilty of. Pride was his downfall, and will always be. He chose willingly what we chose naively.

The most interesting thing we are overlooking here is that God in His nature has never needed to repent. So how could He teach us, help us, to do that which He has never done?

God can’t surrender, suffer, submit, or die….man, however, can.

“But supposing God became a man—suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God’s nature in one person—then that person could help us. He could surrender His will, and suffer and die, because He was man; and He could do it perfectly because He was God. ” (pg. 58)

We can repent today because God is in us. He does it through us and that would not be possible if it wasn’t for Jesus. Lewis continues:

“Our attempts at this dying (repentance) will succeed only if we men share in God’s dying, just as our thinking can succeed only because it is a drop out of the ocean of His intelligence: but we cannot share God’s dying unless God dies; and He cannot die except by being a man. That is the sense in which He pays our debt, and suffers for us what He Himself need not suffer at all.”

Jesus was the only way.

The trinity still holds great mystery to us, and yet like God we are 3 parts as well. Body, Soul, and Spirit. The body is alive, the soul is alive, and the Spirit (Holy Spirit) is very much alive. We do not understand it, nor are we really aware of it all the time, and yet it gives us a slight insight into God’s makeup of Father, Son, and Spirit. The greatest difference is that He is well aware of the connection and this awareness makes Him complete. Also, I’m inclined to believe that each aspect or being of God is infinite and unique in that they can be identified by their own characteristics, but let us not confuse the fact that they are still very much “one.”

Love is a consuming fire. Agape love, to me, is the most furious and all-consuming fire of  God. It is that love that brought Him to such great lengths to save us. It is that love that endured more pain and suffering than we could ever imagine on the cross. That believed our free-will to be worthy of such pain and sacrifice….why?

Could you really love a robot, programmed to love you, more than a child who loves you by his/her own choice? God isn’t about slaves or servants…He is all about family and friendship…the very same He shares within the trinity is what he longs to pour out upon us. He is a Father longing to grow His family. Remember…love is a consuming fire. When you love, you share that love, and can’t help but do so.

Aaron and I are getting a new look at this kind of love as we await the arrival of our baby. I can only imagine how great our love will be when the product of that love is in our midst. Not only will our love for each other grow, but also will it stretch and pour out into our child. And In my heart, I feel that is what love is made to do.

May God bless you all, regardless of doubts and short-comings…you are all a reflection of God’s heart and I pray that your hearts will grow and be filled this new year with His great love and in the many years to come. Amen! ❤

 

The Sacrifice

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“So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” -John 19:30

Last night we had our first service in the newly remodeled sanctuary. I can’t imagine a more fitting time to reveal its completion than Easter. Our building remodeling is not yet complete, there’s still a lot of work to be done, and yet, walking into that sanctuary, it’s once yellow walls now white as snow, reminds us all of rebirth. That our old sinful selves have died, nailed to the cross that day when Jesus took the full weight of our punishment upon Himself. Now, just like the church walls, we are white as snow, and this idea of renewal, bringing dry bones to life, is at the very heart of what we are called to do.

We have been commissioned to change the world, one soul at a time.

And so, on Good Friday we all gathered together to remember what our Lord did for us, worshiping and reading the last words Jesus spoke before He died.

One thing stood out to me that I had never thought of before, though I knew in my heart that it was true. Jesus gave up his spirit. Just as we read earlier when Jesus was being tempted, He had the power, at any time, to call angels down from heaven to rescue Him (Matthew 4:6). Even when He was arrested and beaten, that power remained in Him, and finally, as He was nailed to the cross, and the people taunted Him saying, “if you are the Son of God, come down from the cross and save yourself!”(Mark 15:30), Jesus chose to remain there.

His final words that He called out for all to hear, profoundly demonstrated that THEY couldn’t kill Him, He CHOSE to die, to surrender His spirit and endure their punishment. In that way, Jesus became a true sacrifice.

Jesus was fully man and fully God, and so He suffered the cross as any man would, enduring pain we can’t even fathom, feeling alone and separated from His Father, and even turning down a drink of medicated wine (Matthew 27:34) that would have at least taken the edge off His suffering when He was so badly beaten He could barely stand let alone carry the cross.

Our Lord endured the worst suffering imaginable…and didn’t once change His mind, didn’t once hate the men and women who spat in His face, who beat Him and cursed Him, laughing at the sight of Him. That is love like we have never seen before, would you do that for a stranger? For your enemies?

This Easter, remember Jesus’ sacrifice, take a moment aside from family and friends to truly be alone with God, alone with Jesus. Read the story for yourself, watch The Passion of the Christ or Son of God movie. Let your heart be moved, your passion awakened, and the truth of the good news really sink in.

God bless you all this Easter and always.

 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

-John 3:16

 

Psalm 23: Sermon Notes

Jesus fighting wolves

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

-Psalm 23:4

Sunday, Sept. 30 I had the privilege of leading a short 5-minute sermon at church. I was one of 6 people who spoke on Psalm 23. My assigned verse is listed above.

Each chapter in the Bible has so much to offer us, during my pre-sermon studies I discovered that God’s Word will teach you something new every time you read it, even if it’s one verse!

My Sermon Notes:

When I read (Psalm 23:4) the first thing God highlighted to me was, the shadow of death.” That is all death is, just a shadow we will all someday pass under, but thanks to Jesus, death will never have the final say, it will never have substance, as 1 Corinthians 15:55 says

“Where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting?”

The next line, “I will fear no evil” is the assurance that God is enough and that satan stands defeated even while we walk this valley of death. The battle over satan and death is already decided. The battle is not God vs. satan but man vs. satan. We can share in God’s victory!

“You are with me.” God doesn’t trail behind you, He doesn’t begrudgingly walk with you, I believe that He walks in stride with you, hand in hand. Just like He did in the garden of Eden, in the cool of the day with Adam and Eve. “you are with me” implies that God stands beside us, and has a close relationship with us. There is a bond, an agreeance in mind, will, and heart.

Here’s something you can do, next time you are alone with God doing devotions ask God to show you where He was standing in a particular moment in your life when you felt afraid or alone. I believe He will show you and you will be amazed to see that He wasn’t far away but right at your side.

You see, in the moment when you are afraid it’s hard to see or feel God. And that is because fear is imagining a future without Him. It blinds us to the truth and can cripple us spiritually, mentally and physically because we weren’t created to ever feel alone or separated from God’s presence.

Lastly, we read the phrase, “Your rod and staff, they comfort me.”

rod and staff

As a shepherd, you carried roughly two tools, a rod and a staff. The curved handle of the staff was used to pull sheep in when they started to stray off. The rod was used to drive the sheep or discipline them. And either tool worked well against fighting wolves.

Like a father in the wilderness with his child, he will discipline and he will protect, he will guide and he will comfort, and he will walk hand in hand with you because he loves you!

Who here loves discipline? It can hurt! Here’s something I didn’t want to hear when I researched a shepherd’s rod. If a certain lamb strayed off too many times, endangering itself, the shepherd would use the rod to break one or two of its legs. This way the lamb wouldn’t be able to leave and would learn the hard way never to stray too far from the protection of the shepherd. Ouch! We are to find comfort in that? Yes.

(After the sermon a dear friend of mine mentioned that the shepherd most likely carried the lamb over his shoulders with him wherever he went, building trust and dependency)

I’m not saying God will break your legs, but if we ever find ourselves turning from Him, ignoring his call, or not heeding his warnings, we had better hope He will save us from total destruction, that He will remind us that we need Him more than anything and anyone. God doesn’t cause horrible things to happen, but often He works through those times to bring us closer to Him.

I knew someone who never settled down, they were so busy all the time, never stopping. They didn’t listen to God when He warned, “slow down, I didn’t create you to work like this!” Pretty soon that person had an accident that kept them bedridden for months, they were forced to go slow. But they didn’t wallow in self-pity, their faith was renewed and their focus shifted toward God and they were restored in more ways than one.

God cares more about the heart of an individual than the body of an individual. Our body, though important, is only a shell concealing our Spirit, the core of our being. The body will fail us someday, but our hearts will remain. And so, give praise to God during times of discipline, understand that it doesn’t bring him joy to discipline you, but He loves you so much that He would rather you break your leg then be killed by a pack of wolves.

Proverbs 13:24

“He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”

 

#1 Fan

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It’s that time of year again, when families crowd around a tv screen with Football jerseys and chicken wings, cheering and shouting as their favorite team scores. At the stadium people become even more excited, with painted faces (or stomachs), waving #1 fan signs and screaming until their voices grow hoarse.

It’s a good time, but I’ve often discovered that it can also be an obsession. Just say the phrase, “It’s just a game,” and see what kind of response you get. I’m not saying that it is wrong to be competitive or momentarily caught up in the joy of seeing your favorite team win, but what does concern me is how often and how easily we become #1 fans of things that ultimately don’t matter.

Let me put it this way, lately, Aaron and I have been trying the Keto diet, and the results have been great! We have easily become #1 fans of this diet, so much so that we end up talking about it to everyone. It’s exciting and fulfilling sharing the “good news” of Keto, and it’s very easy. Aaron and I have enough knowledge under our belt that we are ready with a reply to any question someone asks, and by the end of the conversation, we have most people convinced or converted to the Keto way.

Does this scenario sound uncomfortably familiar? Good, it did to me also. I was sitting at a restaurant, listening to Aaron talk about Keto with our church friends and realized that it was too natural. He spoke with passion and excitement, just like I do when I talk about Star Trek. Have we really forgotten what it’s like to be #1 fans of Jesus? Shouldn’t we be sharing that good news a bit more often? Shouldn’t we be excited to share our faith and find it natural, with replies ready on our lips to any question?

Maybe I am being harsh, or maybe not. At least, I feel convicted by how often we talk and think about things that aren’t God-centered. There’s nothing wrong with interests or hobbies, things that we enjoy and love. The problem occurs when those things take precedence over God. There is only one throne room in our heart, and if He isn’t sitting there then something else always is. We are creatures of worship, fashioned in such a way to give glory and praise to God. And it is an easy pitfall for us to worship other things, look how often it happened in the Bible. Idol worship back then makes us cringe, and yet it is just as common today, among Christians!

I merely wanted this post to be a wake-up call, for myself and for anyone else who feels the same. There’s no condemnation here, just a realization that we are imperfect beings always in need of correction and guidance. And ever always in need of God and His abounding grace.

Lord, I want to be your #1 fan before anything else, you are what I desire and long for. You alone deserve all the praise, honor, and glory. Keep my heart pure and set on the right things, and protect me from satan’s pitfalls and traps, so that I am not led astray. My heart is yours always, thank you for your gift of grace, Amen. 

Small Town, Big Dreams

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Things are beginning to change in my small town. Hope is being stirred up and I believe that God is about to do something big.

But these things take time. After so many years of broken dreams, it takes time for people to believe and hope again. However, God is moving quickly, businesses are opening up, people are rallying together to rebuild and clean up our town.

It takes big dreams. Big leaps of faith.

Sometimes it’s hard to dream, and so much easier to doubt, to stop hoping and wishing because it hurts when doors close. After a while, we start believing those doors will never open. We stop knocking. Letting go of the doorknob with a sigh…

Growing up in this small town has molded me. I remember dreaming big as a child, I wanted to be everything, to do everything, and go everywhere in this life. As I grew those passions narrowed, some extinguished altogether. Others flickered dimly, clinging to hope.

For a while, I felt hopeless, trapped. Even now, I sometimes feel trapped by society. I have looked back on my life and thought, “what have I done, really?”

God looked back with me…and saw something else. I’ve fulfilled dreams I never knew I had. I may not have been a zookeeper or a famous singer, but I have had the privilege to worship God himself almost every Sunday on stage since I was little.

I would rather sing to Him, than to a crowd.

I have had the honor to serve others and to help them accomplish their dreams. To spread hope in the name of Jesus. To pray and witness God move.

I realized my dream to be a wife, more particularly, to be a wife to Aaron. My husband and best friend. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better match, or companion in this life. Who shares my faith and walks beside me down this ever-winding path towards God.

Now, I dream of being a mother. I dream of seeing their dreams come true.

Yes, some doors in my life have closed, some dreams have slipped past, and some have seemed too big to dream for. But that isn’t the end of my story, and though I may have stopped knocking, I will continue to look over my shoulder at those closed doors, always hoping that they will open, if only a crack.

Meanwhile, there are dreams that I am living, doors that are opening, and just as my small town is moving forward, so am I.

To you, I say this, the greatest dream there is…would not be half as so, without Jesus. Dream with him, take a leap of faith..and watch what happens next.

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

-Jeremiah 29:11