Friday, April 18, 2014
I am alive and thankful. Grace saved me from the judgement I deserve. It is in the heart of a grateful person where the greatest joy is found. I live and breathe life because I am FREE. Many deny Jesus today. Many denied Jesus while He hung on a cross. As for me, once I discovered truth...there was no more denying. He died to take my place. He died to take your place.
Yes, that time you lied. That time you cheated. That time you stole (yup, even office supplies). That time you hated so deeply you wished someone dead. That time you broke the law (darn those speed limit signs!). That time you envied. That time you disrespected your parents. That time you swore a promise...and then you broke it. The affair with a married man. Your vulgar language. That time you drank so much you don't remember how you got home and did it again the next weekend...for six years. All your addictions, including the ones popular culture says "doesn't hurt anyone". The baby whose life you ended. Every day you let pass without actively pursuing the dream God has placed on your heart. Yes, even wasted time because of laziness is considered failure -- sin.
Can you add to the list? Because that list is mine. I own it.
Thankfully, it does not own me.
Because of the Cross.
Today I review every item on my list and nail it to the Cross. Not because I've been held prisoner to it and have never been forgiven but as a reminder. As a human being I forget. Things go well. Life moves on and I forget. We wouldn't need reminders on our smart phones and calenders and phone calls from the doctor's office if we weren't such a forgetful bunch. So today I remind myself. I remember.
I read the words in Scripture. I picture it in my mind. I imagine the brutality until I feel the remorse. Until my eyes swell with repentance and I rush to nail my list to the Cross, including the new ones I've had to add. Yes, the ones I keep going back to. I beg for forgiveness. I beg for Jesus to be taken down from the Cross.
"Please! No more! He doesn't deserve to die for what I did. Not Jesus. He didn't do anything wrong!"
I try to imagine the confusion. I try to imagine what it must have felt like for Peter, James, Matthew, Thomas...Judas. They were His friends. They breathed in every moment with Jesus for three years. Now He was taken from them and hanging on a Cross. This is not how it was supposed to end!
I imagine Mary, His mother. Her son brutalized and hanging, naked on a Roman execution Cross. But God said her son was the Chosen One. She felt Him move during her pregnancy. She birthed Him. Nursed and clothed Him. She even lost Him once. Joseph died and left her as a widow. What would he say to her if he saw the Child he adopted hanging by nails, flesh dripping? How does a mother grieve when death has not yet snatched life but waits? Does she remember the words Simeon spoke to her at the temple when Jesus was days old?
"...And a sword will pierce your own soul too"
I imagine John when Jesus entrusts His mother to his care. I imagine the Roman soldiers and the Centurion. Perhaps the same government official whose son was cured was also the one standing at the foot of the Cross, wondering how this could be?
I imagine the Pharisees mocking. And I remember a time I did as well.
I imagine the moment the skies grow dark and the earth shakes and the words "It is finished" echos through hearts as tears form rivers from those who loved Jesus. I feel my own. My heart rips in two as I imagine the curtain in the temple did.
Jesus has died. He died because of the collective me.
What now? Has hope also died? What about the promise? The prophecies? Jesus' words? His miracles? His teachings? His laughter? His presence? His friendship? Agonizing grief of a loved one gone settles in. What now?
I let myself absorb. I remind my heart because it is in the reminding that the forgotten becomes real again, fresh. Today I remember the sacrifice. Today I remember the agony. Today I remember the why. Today I remember death. Today I remember a sealed tomb. Today I remember the hiding and the weeping. Today I remember the anguish.
Today I remember my sins nailed Jesus to the Cross.
Today is Friday...but Sunday's a coming.
Friday, January 10, 2014
Imagine if you will...
Early in the morning hours while a husband gets ready for his work day, he discovers schools will have a two hour delay. He proceeds to lovingly turn off all the alarms in the house so his wife and children can sleep in. "Oh, if only I could too" he says to himself.
This husband decides not to send a text or wake his wife to inform her, fearing she may be unable to fall back asleep. "She'll check the news when she wakes" he says and softly kisses his sleeping wife goodbye.
Minutes tick off the clock. The darkness and the rain have kept the sleeping wife and children tucked snugged in their beds a little longer than on a normal school day. The house is quiet and peaceful until the wife wakes to find twenty-seven minutes left on the clock before she would need to get the children to school. Panic dashes through the house only because nobody is aware of the delay. The children blame mischievous alarm clocks for never...alarming.
"What the heck?", grumbles the boy who is notorious for waking before any alarm.
"This is the second time my alarm didn't turn on!", explains the girl with a tone of annoyance.
"I'm so sorry! I just woke up too. Let's just get our things done quickly.", directs the wife.
Thankfully, the wife's social media addiction draws her to her phone as she sees a notification from her church "How has the 2 hour delay affected your day?"
"Delay?" she says. Only seconds later does she discover the school has indeed delayed the start time by two hours because of freezing rain. Relief floods in immediately but as with any flood, there is also debris.
Exhausted from the night before the wife begins to speculate her husband had turned off the alarms and remarks, "I woke the children for nothing? And I could've been sleeping too? At least he could've left me a note, a text, anything!"
The love and gentleness her husband had shown by turning off the nuisance of a morning alarm became cloudy and muddy with the debris of negative emotions and words. She was unable to see his good intentions and instead found fault. As he called to say good morning, she rebukes him "What have you done!"
"I didn't want to wake you. I thought for sure you would have checked the news first thing." he replies apologetically.
"And panic is better? Thanks but no thanks.", she retorts.
And so the morning began. While their children laughed and played with the slow down of the morning, the wife reflected on her husband's actions. "If only I could have slept in" she says as she drifts back off to sleep.
Yes, it's not a pretty one but it is mine. Actually the only part that isn't true is when I rebuked my husband by saying "What have you done!". We had a normal conversation and ended it with our I love you's. But that is not the point...nor the lesson of this story.
Even though we were civil towards each other, I am confident to say my husband probably felt rebuked and disrespected for his decision. From his perspective, he acted on information he received and made a loving gesture only for it to be received without a thank you. Regardless of whether he should have sent a text or even left a note, the fact remains that words can bring life...or bring someone down.
It might have been more challenging to say "Thank you honey for turning off those alarms. It was a big help and I do appreciate it. Maybe next time you could also leave me a note in the bathroom?".
Wouldn't I have rather received those words instead of what I did say or didn't say?
That is our daily challenge, isn't it? Words we say or don't say. Think on it. Is there someone you've been meaning to thank? Give them a call or send them a text. Or really blow their minds and send them a handwritten note.
A small gesture of kindness, no matter how difficult or trivial, can breathe life into a person.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
According to Merriam-Webster, the word FEAR is defined as follows: to be afraid of (something or someone); to expect or worry about (something bad or unpleasant); to be afraid and worried.
According to the fabulous Merriam, the word INSECURE is defined as follows: not confident about yourself or your ability to do things well; nervous and uncomfortable; not certain to continue or be successful for a long time; not locked or well protected.
These are two words I often use to describe me when I'm challenged to do something new, to step out of my comfort zone. But when I took a good long look at these words and their definitions, I felt they didn't describe me at all! They might describe how I may feel with the unfamiliar but they certainly don't define me. In that moment I realized a critical truth -- those words are poison.
"Words kill, words give life;Words which tear down don't have to be spoken and directed towards another human being to be lethal. Words you speak to yourself, whether a new habit or words you've heard since childhood, can be either life giving or life ending.
they’re either poison or fruit—you choose." (Pr 18:21 Msg)
Want to know what words I'm savoring now?
CHOSEN: one who is the object of choice or of divine favor; an elect person
FAVORED: given special advantages over others; preferred over others; considered most likely to win.
As a woman who follows Jesus and trusts His Word, I believe what Scripture says when it reads I am CHOSEN, called out of darkness into light (1Peter2:9). I was selected, elected. I have divine favor. How? Through baptism in Christ, I chose to leave the old life behind and go the direction of new. I was given a spirit of power and love, not fear and timidity (2Tim 1:7).
I have chosen Jesus and believe what He accomplished with His death on the Cross was for me...and you. And because I believe in His Resurrection, I can confidently say nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). I believe when I choose to battle the chains of bondage of poisonous words, I am FAVORED to win.
You are too. Let us choose our words wisely.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I just finished watching our president at a press conference and I couldn't help but get upset. Although I did not vote for President Obama, I do respect the position immensely. I cannot imagine the difficulty and challenges he faces every single day. What upset me was not the talking heads we elect, but us.
We live in a nation where (in general) we salute pro athletes for being "brave" and coming out yet we forget the sacrifices of military spouses who are left here to raise a family on their own. We push for reform so that "at least one child is saved" yet we turn a blind eye to Preemies being allowed to die in the hands of abortionists like Gosnell. The president scolds congress for not passing gun control laws but ignores Benghazi. This is the same country that is trying to teach tolerance when it comes to Muslims so they don't hate us and try to kill our citizens YET we leave American pastor Saeed in an Iranian jail to be beat and tortured for his faith.
How did we get it so backwards?
With regards to racism, Attorney General Eric Holder said recently that we must protect innocent ethnic groups from misguided acts of retaliation. If that is true for Americans on this blessed soil, then shouldn't it be true for those Americans abroad as well? Why do we still not know the truth about Benghazi? Why does Iran feel the US won't do anything about Pastor Saeed and can keep him in solitary confinement in a prison that is known for torture? Where is the press? Why aren't we as citizens outraged?
Eric Holder's statement can also be used as the same argument for this nation's unborn. An overwhelming and alarming number of abortions end the lives of African American and Hispanic babies every day. These innocents are suffering "from misguided acts of retaliation" by their uninformed mothers. A woman is faced with a scary and difficult choice to terminate the life of her fetus and all she hears is screams of "it's her right!" or she should "have kept her legs closed!"
Where did we go so wrong?
Government is not our moral compass. It never has been nor should it be, even though it would be great to witness. The fact is that our government is made up of fallible men and women. Sometimes I believe that many in this country hide behind the excuse of powerlessness simply because our government says this, that and the other is legal or illegal.
History shows us that early Christians were under immense pressure and persecution from a pagan government and world. Practically everything they held true and pure and good were challenged and mocked or they were even killed by their contemporaries. However, when there was a need for the outcast like the sick, dying, orphaned, hungry and the unwanted, these very pagans brought them to the doorsteps of early Christians. Why? Because even though this rising group of "radical" Jesus followers were hated by the norm, they were seen as different. They fed the poor. They tended to the sick. They took in widows and orphans. They cared for the dying. They knew the unwanted were valued by the God they worshipped.
Yes I know that in between then and now the Church has had many marks against them. They too are not immune from fallible men and women. I hear the chants of hypocrisy all the time but that doesn't give you or I a pass from our very own hypocrisy.
But what does that mean?
It means we need to be quick to listen rather than judge. It means understanding that the woman mourning her abortion has the right to do so. Don't chastise her sorrow and tell her she did the right thing when every fiber of her being reminds her of emptiness. She and her husband really wanted that baby but it was the doctor who told them "there is no hope".
It means understanding that the young girl was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong guy. She really did believe him when he said he loved her. Don't yell at her and tell her she should have "kept her legs closed" because the fact is she is very scared. Tell her you'll be there for her and get her to people that can help. Pray for her. She might be thinking adoption and she may need you to be strong while she is very courageous.
It means listening to a gay man and understanding why he wants to marry. You may not agree with him but the thing he needs more than anything else is to know that the God who created him loves him. No amount of screaming "abomination!" will ever get that point across. We all need to wrestle with God to understand what "go sin no more" means. I know God loves me but I still wrestle. Don't you?
So how did we get it all so backwards? I don't know. Our own human nature I suppose.
The reality is that if you and I call ourselves Jesus followers, then we have to be all in. It means we can't hide behind government and insist they feed the poor. We must be part of the solution. It means that if we are going to be outraged by the statistics of abortion, we cannot give the self-righteous glare of indignation to an unwed teen mom. We must be part of the solution. It means that if we are going to show other nations how well we treat their emigrants through immigration reform and tolerance, then we must also demand equal care for our citizens abroad. I know it's easier said than done but I said it already once - Pastor Saeed is in an Iranian jail. His family fears for his life. The media has said nothing. We have to be part of the solution.
We are not given a spirit of timidity, we are called to be strong and courageous. We should be ready for such a time as this by simply looking at the hated early Christians. They were seen as different because they were. In a time when nothing else mattered but self preservation, they gave everything and changed the world.
Isn't it time we did too?
Friday, February 22, 2013
So for the many more: