it is finished

good friday

We had kind of a different Good Friday service today. I must admit I was a little sceptical when I heard they would be putting together the tabernacle during the service. I was thinking, really? we are spending Good Friday talking about something besides the death of Christ? So it caught me by surprise when we were singing Before the Throne and kids dressed as priests started bringing up the Ark of the Covenant that I had to fight back emotion.

They put up the curtain separating the Holy of Holies and the visual of what He took the place of was really quite breathtaking.

I kept thinking – “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…” Matthew 27:51. We used to be separated from God but the veil was torn once and for all. In Christ we can now come before God.

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus – Romans 8:1

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shout hosannah

hosannah Last night I was at worship practice, blessedly childless for one of the rare times, and as the others discussed chord preferences and other random bits my mind was wondering to Sunday morning, Palm Sunday.

As we went on to sing I was thinking about the people lining the street so many years ago with no idea what was coming. They were shouting “hosannah!” and praising God with no idea who was in front of them riding on that donkey, or that everything was about to change forever or that. They had no idea that some of them would change their tune complete and shout “crucify him” in a few days.

They watches the creator rode past them close enough to touch and they were clueless – only hoping He would overthrow Rome missing the fact that Rome wasn’t what He came to overthrow.

It is easy to judge them, to call them blind or cowards and think that I would have been  the one person who knew or didn’t flee or betray, but I am a fool if I think that. Not  one person really knew, not even his closest friends. Not one person stayed with him. They didn’t know what we know, they didn’t have the Holy Spirit yet or the Word of God to look back at like we do – and yet we make the same mistakes they did so often. How often do we act the part – shouting “hosannah!” with the crowd while inside our minds are on anything but God. So often.

Here we are today, a week from the anniversary of they day that changed everything forever. Are we even now taking that for granted? Stop and think for a second – God, who make everything, came as a poor person, lived, served  and died all for me and you. If we are completely honest every one of us has taken that for granted at one time or another. We have done the  “hosannah, praise God!” show for others but, just like those lining the streets with palm branches so long ago, our hearts were not in it.

Take some time today and tomorrow to consider what palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter really mean, don’t wait until Sunday morning. When you sing your praises on Sunday and next weekend make sure you sing with your whole heart and that you know who you are praising and why.

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Photo Credit  for the unedited picture

in fire

fiery trials This past week I have spent some time sitting by a fire watching sap boil away in a large vintage pot. Sap has to boil down to about one 40th of what it started out as before it becomes sweet syrup. Without the fire it is basically just water, water that will give you an upset stomach if you drink too much of it. It isn’t useful (to anyone but the tree), it isn’t delicious, it isn’t syrup.

I watched the surface boil away and the harsh bubbles made me think of the burning heat of suffering and how painful that heat is, not for the sap because the sap has no actual feelings, obviously, but in our lives that heat is sometimes unbearable.

I can look back at times of boiling down in my life, times when I felt that the pain was just too much to bear and just wanted it to end. It is interesting however to look back on those times now and see how crucial they were to my story. Without those times of pain I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I wouldn’t have some of the passions I have today and I wouldn’t be able to cry with friends (and complete strangers) who are going through similar things.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad wen his glory is revealed.  1 Peter 4:12-13

Count it all joy, my brothers [sisters], when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.  James 1:2-4

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

No one likes to suffer so it is hard to understand these verses sometimes. How do we rejoice in suffering? How do we count it as joy when it just feels like hurt. It is hard to look at the the present moment and see the big picture, especially if the present moment is painful. We only have finite little minds right now so we tend to see things pretty clearly when we look back but not necessarily right now.

Just before Jesus went to the cross he told his disciples that he was going away and they couldn’t go with him. He told them that painful changes were going to happen. I am guessing that they weren’t too impressed, thinking about it from their perspective I can completely understand. They must have been thinking about all the amazing things they had seen and all that they had learned and had hopes for more of this. They couldn’t imagine anything being better for them that walking with Jesus every day and listening to him teach. Jesus knew though that if he didn’t leave them and cause them this pain they would never become what he wanted them to be.

Without the pain they went through watching their friend go to the cross the Holy Spirit would have never come to them and they would still be the doubting, betraying, cowardly men they were.

Pain isn’t fun and suffering is definitely not pleasant but without it our lives would be pretty meaningless. Without it we would just remain like the maple sap that isn’t in the tree and hasn’t been boiled down, not useful for anything really.  But when we accept the fire and continue to look to Jesus in our pain we bring him so much glory and we can be used in ways we never imagined.

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sin or syndrome

sinorsyndrome

I am irrationally angry for no reason. Everything annoys me today and I just want to be left alone, but then – why are you ignoring me! That is hurting my feelings!

Hormones, they wreak complete havoc on our lives, there is PMS, pregnancy hormones, postpartum hormones, and then the glorious menopause, but where is the line between sin and syndrome?

Sure our hormones aren’t under our control and we can’t really help the feelings but does that make it ok to be grumpy and snappy and harm the people who are closest to us with our words or looks? Obvious we all know (should know) that the answer is NO, but how do I  practically (in the moment) control that look or those words or that tone of voice? I don’t want to be the mom/wife who is always having to apologize for being a jerk. I don’t want my kids to remember me snapping at them for no reason.

When Jesus left earth to go back to heaven after the resurrection he promised us a helper (the Holy Spirit). I sometimes think that we women must give him a real run for his money with our hormones and catty tendencies. ;) I know he can more than handle it though.

Maybe it is about stopping in the moment when you first start to wonder “why am I getting so upset about this?” and asking the Holy Spirit for extra help. That is easy to say but hard in those moments when you are just so upset and then angry at yourself for being upset. If we ask though he will never deny us.

Actually I think maybe the first think I need to do is ask Him to remind me in those moments to ask Him for help…..

I think the sooner I REALLY learn this lesson, not just in my heads but really learn to do it, the better off I (and those around me) will be. I have a couple friends going through menopause right now and I know I certainly don’t want to walk through that until I master this lesson. (luckily I should have a decade or two to practice because I am a slow learner with this kind of stuff)

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PS It is really hard for me to say “syndrome” right now, Gideon has been obsessed with “The Incredibles” for the last couple weeks so when I say “syndrome” I keep thinking “I’m Syndrome! Your nemesis!” which in actually fits pretty well when the syndrome we are talking about is PMS! definitely our nemesis. LOL

photo credit for unedited photo flickr creative commons

he loved him to the end

lovedthem

He loved them to the end.

That is the last part of verse 1 of John 13. It says that about Jesus right before he chose to use some of his last moments before dying to humble himself like a servant and wash the stinky gross feet of his friends, even the stinky feet of the friend who was about to betray him in the worst way possible.

I wonder if this was one of his last pleas to his dear friend. He knew that Judas betraying him would also lead to Judas’ own death and not a nice death. It would also lead to him going down in history as one of the worst villains.

For the first time I am reading this story and feeling so much sorrow for Judas that I want to cry. He let himself get so blinded by money that he missed out on the most important thing – God walking beside him in the flesh for 3 years. In person loving on him and sharing food with him and laughing with him and encouraging him when he was own. He traded the Saviour for the money that would buy his place of death. It breaks my heart.

If it is breaking my heart I can’t imagine how much this must have killed Jesus. He loved Judas and loved him so much he wanted to die for him. I can’t imagine spending those moments which someone I cared about so much and wanted to die for knowing that he was going to betray me and desperately hoping that somehow he would chose what was right, not for my own sake – Jesus knew that his death was crucial – but for Judas’ sake!

Sometimes we read these stories, especially the ones we have all read so many times and we forget that these were all real people with real relationships. Judas was a real man who had parents and brothers and sisters and 12 close friends, he may have had a wife and children like Peter did and it is likely some of the other 12 did to.  Yes, he made a horrible choice proceeding many other bad choices (stealing money from Jesus and the other disciples on a regular basis) but he was a person and Jesus loved him. The real villain in this story isn’t really him it is me and you! Jesus came here to die because payment had to be made for my sins, for your sins, for everyone’s sins. It is our stupid choices and all the bad things we do that nailed him to the cross.   Yes, Judas’ sin as well but I am just as guilty. I put other things ahead of Him all the time.

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PS There is a lot of debate about if Judas was ever a believer or if he lost his salvation (which is IMPOSSIBLE or we ALL would lose it because every single one of us sucks) or if he was never saved and was just kind of along for the ride for 3 years. I don’t know what is the truth. I do hope that he was a believer because hell is a horrible horrible place and we all deserve it just as much as he does but I know that Jesus didn’t want him to end up there. That is after all why he came here to die.

Photo credit : the original, unaltered photo can be found here

a messy blind story

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We go through hard times and often we ask why. I know I certainly have asked why more than once. We gripe and whine and ask “WHY GOD?! “instead of stopping to realize that sometimes we suffer so that God can be glorified. In John 9 there is a blind man who was ostracized his whole life, the religious leaders assumed that he had either sin horribly or his parents had -because – why else would God let him suffer. He was reduced to begging, which is probably way worse than most of the suffering in our lives.  Then Jesus healed him. He spit on the ground, made some mud and put it on the man’s eyes. The man went and washed and then could see after a lifetime of not seeing. 

The culmination of this man’s whole life all of this suffering was so that one day Jesus could heal him and be glorified through his life.

Jesus could have just spoken and healed this man, He did it for so many others. For Jairus’ daughter he wasn’t even anywhere near her but instead he chose to touch this man. This man was an outcast, it sounds like he may have lived on the streets, he was dirty and yet Jesus touched him.

It is kind of gross that he made mud from His spit but this is maybe just showing us a second time in one story that sometimes healing is messy and sometimes helping others is going to be messy. It is ok to get messy sometimes.

I have some minor OCD tendencies…one of them is an obsession with being clean. (I shower at least twice a day no matter what – even the days I gave birth to my children. In the summer it is more like 3 or more showers) For me the idea of messy isn’t really a pleasant one but life is messy. sometimes to really love the way Jesus loved we have to touch dirty people. We have to roll up our sleeves and sort through actual dirt and emotional dirt and sometimes it is uncomfortable but it is always worth it.

I guess the blind man could have said something like “um…who just spit? what is going on? Don’t touch me with that!” but he didn’t and for him it was life changing. Being the one doing the touching is often equally life changing. So go ahead and get a little dirty and I will try to do the same and maybe we can be a little more like Jesus

*the original unaltered photo is from Flickr Creative Commons by Kelly B

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PS I have a giveaway coming soon so stay tuned!

 

Chalkboard Crosses

Just wanted to pass on this great sale to you all! These super cute wooden chalkboard crosses are on sale today and tomorrow at DaySpring. You have to use the link below to get the sale prince. I know I want to order one!!

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Chalkboard Crosses Sale

*I am an affiliate member of DaySpring so I get a commission from sales through my site

 

 

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after all I have seen…

doubt

I have been thinking a lot about Thomas for the last week or so. I guess it started when I was reading the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

Before Lazarus died word came to Jesus and his disciples that he was very sick and was dying and that Jesus needed to come right away. As is typical of God He had a different plan than everyone expected and he chose to just hang around and kill some time before going. The people in Judea were plotting to kill him (and had tried already several times by this point) and his disciples knew this and were worried about it. When Jesus finally decided to go and told them that Lazarus had died Thomas’ response was “Let us go then that we may die with him.” (John 11)

I imagine this was a pretty sarcastic comment, I can just hear him now and see the look on his face. He was probably thinking “Ya Jesus, good idea! Let’s go back where they are trying to kill you and probably us to since we are with you! Good plan! Maybe if you had gone while our friend was still alive, but now he is dead, what good it is to go now when they are just going to kill us to!” I imagine that he was using what we in our house like to call the “stupid voice” (you know, the voice you use when you are quoting someone who you think being dumb)

Thomas was freaked out and he had good reason humanly speaking.

A little while later Thomas was going to show off his doubt again when Jesus rose from the dead.  All of the disciples and several women had seen Jesus but Thomas wasn’t with them when it happened and no matter what they told him he didn’t believe it. After all rising from the dead is impossible right?  (John 20)

I find that as I look back on my life I can really relate to Thomas. It is really easy to be like “come on Thomas! look back on your life! You were with Jesus for so many miracles! You even watched him raise Lazarus from the dead and you couldn’t believe that he could raise himself?!

Then I look at my own life, I have the Bible telling me not only about the miracles that Thomas witnessed but all the other ones. Heck, I know what is going to happen in the end that hasn’t happened yet! It is all at my fingertips. Not only that, I have seen so many miracles in my own life! I have seen God come through and provide financially when it seemed impossible. I have seen him heal people who were dying. I have heard story after story from friends and strangers about the things he is doing in the foreign mission fields and here, stories of the impossible happening so that it could ONLY be God and yet I doubt. I don’t just doubt of the big stuff, I doubt about the little stuff! The stupid stuff that doesn’t even really matter. I am SO much like Thomas sometimes with even less excuse.

It is easy to judge someone but when I stop to think, usually I can relate and really am in no place to judge them at all. I am very thankful that Jesus chose screw ups like me to be his disciples.

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Photo Credit: original unaltered photo is from Flickr Creative Commons by David J 

In a whisper — Guest Post

Remember Aleeda? The little girl we all prayed for for so long. We prayed for a new heart and for healing as she waiting in the hospital for over a year and then we praised the Lord with many tears and lots of jumping up and down as the news came in that she was getting a new heart and then more as she finally went home.

Her beautiful mother Tania has been an amazing encouragement to all the other moms at Sick Kids and I assume many more she has met.

She wrote this post on facebook today and I asked for her permission to post it here so you can all be blessed by it to:

This morning I was doing some reading, like I try to do every morning before my girls wake up. And I stumbled upon a story I have not read in a while. One I forgot about. After the prophet Elijah challenged the priests of Baal and after God had made fools of all 450 of them, Elijah fled. He fled to a cave, he was scared and tired and felt like he could do God’s will no longer. Then God said he was going to appear to Elijah, He was going to reveal Himself to this tired, and depressed, and lonely man. First there was a wind so strong, so powerful, it tore the mountains apart. Think about that, a wind stronger than anything we know, ripping through something as solid as a mountain, making confetting of rock. Then God sent an earthquake. Then fire. God sent the most destructive forces known to people of that time. He decimated a landscape. But God did not reveal himself to Elijah in any of these magnificent displays of power. After these three mighty shows, there was a gentle whisper. God was in the whisper. So often we think that our God, the God of power and might should always act with strength and large displays. But He chose not to do that with Elijah. He took this man, a man at the end of his rope, a man who felt oppressed by all that he had done at God’s call, and revealed Himself in a calm and gentle way. How amazing. God understood that after all the miracles He had performed through Elijah, a large display of His strength and power was not what this man needed. In His infinite wisdom, God used a whisper. It struck me this morning, it brought me back to a time when I thought that my faith must not be big enough for God to keep denying me a miracle for my baby. I wanted the mountains to be torn apart and for my child to be made whole. But God saw me, saw where I was and knew what I needed. So He gave me a whisper. A gentle reminder of His existence because He knew that a miracle would not grow or change my faith. He gave me a whisper because He knew my soul was weary, He knew that I was broken, He knew that I was lost. It is so easy to see our God of miracles and think that He should give us one. But God doesnt give us what we want, He gives us what we need.  Miracles throughout the bible were never enough to change people on a soul level until Christ gave himself for us. In focussing on and praying for the landscape altering miracle we risk missing the intimate and revealing whisper of God. I can say with confidence that the small whispers of God’s faithfulness are what had the biggest impact on me. Instead of a miracle, a large display that comes and goes in an instant, I was blessed with constant reminders of God’s faithfulness and love in my time of despair. I was challenged to see God in all things, even the bad ones. And it worked. I learned so much in that time. I learned that God gives us more than we can bear so that we learn to lean on His strength. I learned that heartfelt prayer is a constant conversation with a God who meets us where we are. I learned that His plan is so much greater than anything I thought I wanted for myself. God is a God of miracles, but the whispered lessons can change us in much bigger ways.

1 Kings 19:9-13

 

separate from the culture

I have been trying to figure out how to live in this culture and not be a part of this culture.

I hear it often “in the world but not of the world”, “this world is not our home”, “we are just passing through” and “if we blend in to the culture around us then something is wrong”…Yes, I know all of that, but how do I practically live that out?

I find that at some moments these principles are easy. Some days money holds no power over me and I spurn the comforts of this world and want only to serve and be used no matter the cost.  I will be honest, other times (like when I am shopping at Target or wherever or just lose my focus) things creep in.

That new “whatever” that I want/need or the fun new clothes or decorations or gadget or whatever…It is all around me all the time. Some of it is stuff that we do legitimately need but often the lines are blurred and that is what makes it so hard. Sometimes I think the Christian life would be easier to live out in a culture of poverty. If we really did have to rely on God for our food and the one or two things we have to wear. If we could really be thankful for those things and not be dragged down by the need in our culture for so many other “necessities”

Jesus told the rich young man that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a wealthy person to enter His kingdom. We are so wealthy. Our wealth is SO seductive. Even if we tithe our full (or more) 10% off the top it can so easily seduce us.

In a country and culture where having new things is normal and deemed necessary how do we really separate ourselves? How can we live so that we are giving up for the sake of the gospel? I know that the answers are not going to be the same for me and they are for you and I guess that is part of what makes it SO hard to figure out!

These are the things I am trying to think through and work out in my own life. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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