Archive for Scripture

Finding God in the Chaos

A couple weeks ago, someone asked me a question; I was unable to put the answer into words. They asked me why God would allow so much chaos in the world. They asked me why God would let their child go into cardiac arrest. And as I walked them through CPR over the phone, I didn’t have an answer. And yet, in some ways I still don’t have an answer.

The community that I have been journeying with has started the process of reading through the entirety of the Bible (a journey together called Halak, but you can find out more about that here), and over the past week or so, we have been going through the book of Job. In it, Job asks God the same question.

Why? He asks why these things happened to him. Why did his belongings get taken from him? Why did his seven sons and three daughters perish when the wind swept in and collapsed the house on top of them? Why was he afflicted with terrible sores and blisters? He cried out and questioned why.

His wife tells him to “Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9). And then for the next 36 chapters, his friends are unable to console him, to answer his questions of “Why is this happening to me?!” He never looses his integrity, he never sins or turns his back against God, but his answers are unanswered until God speaks.

And yet, God speaks from the storm.

Imagine yourself in Job’s position. Your children had been crushed beneath their home when a mighty wind swept in and struck the four corners (Job 1:19), and now your God speaks to you from a storm. Many translate it as the whirlwind. This is your chance to curse God to his face. But then He begins to ask you questions.

God asks Job a series of questions.

  1. Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? (Job 38:2)
  2. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? (v.4)
  3. Who marked off its dimensions? (v.5)
  4. Who stretched a measuring line across it? (v.5)
  5. On what were its footings set? (v.6)
  6. Who laid its cornerstone? (v.6)
  7. Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt”? (v.8-11)
  8. Have you ever given orders to the morning? (v.12)
  9. Or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? (v.12-13)
  10. Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea? (v.16)
  11. Or walked in the recesses of the deep? (v.16)
  12. Have the gates of death been shown to you? (v. 17)
  13. Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness? (v.17)
  14. Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? (v. 18)
  15. What is the way to abode of light? (v.19)
  16. And where does darkness reside? (v.19)
  17. Can you take them to their places? (v.20)
  18. D you know the paths to their dwellings? (v.20)
  19. Have you entered the storehouses of the snow? (v.22)
  20. Or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? (v.22-23)
  21. What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed? (v.24)
  22. Or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? (v.24)
  23. Who cut a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no one lives, an uninhabited desert, to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? (v.25-27)
  24. Does the rain have a father? (v.28)
  25. Who fathers the drops of dew? (v.28)
  26. From whose womb comes the ice? (v.29)
  27. Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen? (v. 29-30)
  28. Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? (v.31)
  29. Can you loosen Orion’s belt? (v.31)
  30. Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons? (v.32)
  31. Or lead out the Bear with its cubs? (v.32)
  32. Do you know the laws of the heavens? (v.33)
  33. Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth? (v.33)
  34. Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? (v.34)
  35. Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? (v.35)
  36. Do they report to you, “Here we are”? (v.35)
  37. Who gives the ibis wisdom about the flooding of the Nile? (v.36)
  38. Or gives the rooster understanding of when to crow? (v.36)
  39. Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? (v.37)
  40. Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together? (v.37-38)
  41. Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of lions when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in a thicket? (v.39-40)
  42. Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food? (v.41)
  43. Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? (39:1)
  44. Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn? (v.1)
  45. Do you count the months till they bear? (v.2)
  46. Do you know the time they give birth? (v.2)
  47. Who let the wild donkey go free? (v.5)
  48. Who untied its ropes? (v.5)
  49. Will the wild ox consent to serve you? (v.9)
  50. Will it stay by your manger at night? (v.9)
  51. Can you hold it to the furrow with a harness? (v.10)
  52. Will it till the valleys behind you? (v.10)
  53. Will you rely on it for its great strength? (v.11)
  54. Will you leave your heavy work to it? (v.11)
  55. Can you trust it to haul in your grain and bring it to your threshing floor? (v.12)
  56. Do you give the horse its strength? (v.19)
  57. Or clothe its neck with flowing mane? (v.19)
  58. Do you make it leap like a locust, striking terror with its proud snorting? (v.20)
  59. Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread its wings towards the south? (v.26)
  60. Does the eagle soar at your command and build its nest on high? (v.27)
  61. Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? (40:1)

At this point, Job responds: “I am unworthy – how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I will say no more.” (Job 40:4-5) But God continues:

62. Would you discredit my justice? (v.8)
63. Would you condemn me to justify yourself? (v.8)
64. Do you have an arm like God’s? (v.9)
65. And can your voice thunder like his? (v.9)
66. Can anyone capture it (the behemoth) by the eyes? (v.24)
67. Or trap it and piece its nose? (v.24)
68. Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook? (41:1)
69. Or tie down its tongue with a rope? (v.1)
70. Can you put a cord through its nose? (v.2)
71. Or pierce its jaw with a hook? (v.2)
72. Will it keep begging you for mercy? (v.3)
73. Will it speak to you with gentle words? (v.3)
74. Will it make an agreement with you for you to take it as your slave for life? (v.4)
75. Can you make a pet of it like a bird? (v.5)
76. Or put it on a leash for the young women in your house? (v.5)
77. Will traders barter for it? (v.6)
78. Will they divide it up among the merchants? (v.6)
79. Can you fill its hide with harpoons? (v.7)
80. Or its head with fishing spears? (v.7)
81: Who then is able to stand against me? (v.10)
82. Who has a claim against me that I must pay? (v.11)
83. Who can strip off its (the leviathan’s) outer coat? (v.13)
84. Who can penetrate its double coat of armor? (v.13)
85. Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth? (v.14)

Job’s reply has struck me as something very beautiful: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You ask, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” (Job 42:2-3)

It hit me as I sat in the Gathering as these questions filled the screen before us; we are not in the position to ask God “Why?”

None of us can provide an answer to the questions that were asked of Job. We never have been, and we never will.

All we can do is to keep out integrity before God and stand firm in our faith.

Instead of asking God “Why?” when I’m walking a parent through CPR on their child or when I’m on the line with a child who is hiding while their parents fight in the other room, the question is “How do I show your love?”

Instead of cursing God and giving up, even if for the briefest of moments, we must refrain our lives so that our response is to accept that this chaos is part of a larger picture that is His plan.

I hope my ramblings made sense…

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The Child Born

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
– Luke 1:30-33

While they were there (in Bethlehem), the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
– Luke 2:6-7

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. …

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decisions or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
– John 1:1-5, 9-14

Just over a week ago, we celebrated Christmas. The celebration of the birth of Jesus and the coming of God as a child into this world. Over the years I have tended not to like this season of the year, the commercialization of the society in which we find ourselves surrounded by things. I’ve often wondered if we fail to truly comprehend what the birth of this child really means to us. To our faith.

I consider myself a Christian. A follower of Jesus Christ. A disciple. A student. Someone who is still trying to find the words to say what this means.

The child that was wrapped in cloths and placed in a manger was so much more than just a new-born infant. He was the Son of God. Fully human, yet fully God. He was the promise that was made to the people of God. He was born the Savior and the King. He was the Word.

At that time, the people of Israel were expecting something so different. They had expectations of a savior and king who would come down and free them from the reign of Rome. They expected a military leader like David. A messiah who would establish a physical kingdom.

But yet, God humbled himself to be born into the world as a small child who had to flee his home and live in Egypt as a refugee while the current king of Jerusalem, Herod, tried to have him killed.

This was a child who grew up with a father who made his living as a carpenter. A mother who knew who he was, because the angel Gabriel told her who he would be. Mary knew that the son she gave birth to was also the Son of God, but she could never comprehend what that would entail once he grew and began his ministry and teaching his followers.

One of the only Christmas songs that I like is “Mary, Did You Know?” and I feel that most of us can relate. Do we ever really know what God is going to do in our lives?

This child that was born had come to die for us. He came, free of sin, to be put to death in our place, so that we may once again be the children of God.

And while the official holiday season seems to be behind us, followers of Jesus celebrate every day because we have received another day to live a life of praise. We celebrate because we are in a relationship with Abba, our Father in Heaven, who is our Lord and King over every breath we breathe. We celebrate because the Son of God came to forgive our sins and shed his blood so that we may once again be in the presence of God. Because our savior not only died for all our sins, the ones we have committed and have yet to commit, but defeated death and rose again so that we may have eternal life.

This is the child who was born that day. This is the child that the shepherds found in the manger. This is the child whose birth we continue to celebrate by living the life he has called us to live.

Trickle of Water

This past Sunday, we celebrated Pentecost. You know, those events that happened in Acts 2, where tongues of fire came down on the Disciples as they gathered together and they began their journey of changing the world? Fifty days after the death and resurrection of the Son of God, the man we know as Jesus Christ.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language. … we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”

Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
– Acts 2:1-8, 11-13

On Sunday, I joined the Radius community for the weekly gathering and they made some connections that makes this event much more beautiful. You see, this is more than a single act in the larger story, but the start of something so much bigger than we could imagine.

One of the things I’ve realized is that God rarely shows us the larger picture in one go; it’s a story of discovery and a trail of small pieces that lead us to something so much more.

Ten days before Pentecost, just before He ascended into heaven, Jesus dropped another little piece of the story.

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
– Acts 1:4-5, 7-8

Jesus tells his followers to wait. Something was coming that would fill them with power and the ability to change the world. He sets them up to be in place for something better. To be filled with the waters of eternal life.

And as his followers were gathered in the Temple and received the Holy Spirit, they become a trickle of water from that spring of life. And our entire relationship with God changes.

Before Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world, he tried to explain what would happen to a Samaritan Woman at the well. (See John 4:1-26)

You see, so many of us think exactly like this woman. She came day after day to Jacob’s well, a specific spot on the edge of the Samaritan town of Sychar, to fetch water. This is everything she knew. And sometimes we see our relationship to God in the same way: we must find Him in specific locations, like in the church pews.

When Jesus tells her that he will provide living water, she still doesn’t understand that he is no longer talking about water that we drink, but water that sustains eternal life.

“Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
– John 4:19-24

Jesus is telling this woman that the relationship that we had with the Father was about to change. He tells her that the location of our worship will change forever. No longer will worship be centered in the Temple. No longer will the priests be the only ones to enter the Holy of Holies, because the presence of God will be within each of us. Jesus tells her of the Holy Spirit that will come.

There is one more nugget of this story that was hidden from me for so long. It is a prophecy that is still in the works, but started that day in the Temple when tongues of fire carried the Holy Spirit down to the chosen few and began a movement of believers that continues to move us today:

The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side.

As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led e through water that was up to the waste. He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in – a river that no one could cross. He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”

Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so whee the river flows everything will live.
– Ezekiel 47:1-9

Do you see it yet? That moment in the temple? When tongues of flame came down? This was the trickle that was foretold. And soon this flood of water will flow into the deadest areas of our world and fill it with life.

There is so much more that I could dive into, how sometimes we must wait or go back to the beginning of the story, but for now, I’ll just leave it at this; the story of Pentecost.

Stand Your Ground

In the Christian circles, we often talk about this idea of spiritual warfare in an abstract sort of way. Where prayer is used as a weapon and we charge in a barbarian wave shouting battle cries taken from the latest praise and worship album. We think of the kingdom of Satan as a fortress with vast walls and gates, and so often we hear the saying, “storming the gates of hell.” I am guilty of using this language, but I have come to realize that this is a dangerous way of thinking, and it goes against how God is using us to fight as warriors in this battle.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your fellow believers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering.
– 1 Peter 5:8-9

The early Church knew that, while the Kingdom of God is at hand, the Kingdom of Satan still exists here in this world, and will remain until the Son of God returns once again. They did not see the Kingdom of Satan as a fortress to be stormed, but something to be feared. A lion waiting to attack.

I have come to the realization that God does not call us to storm the gates of hell. He calls us to a more dangerous task: to stand firm.

We are not called to attack, but to stand our ground. To make our stance known in this world and in the spiritual realms. To stand in the light and be a beacon of hope and strength for others whose strength is wavering. To support one another. To defend ourselves and those who stand shoulder to shoulder beside us.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take our stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
– Ephesians 6:10-13

As believers, God has equipped us to make our stand. To fight a personal battle against the demons that attack us every day and that have worked their way into our scars that life has brought us.

We are called to stand our ground. And after all the battles are done, to stand.

Our battle is not one where physical prowess or weapons have the advantage, but it is battle where peace and love are our greatest weapons, and hope and faith are our armor. It is a battle where angels and demons fight unseen around us, and how we live every moment of our lives is proof of the tide of battle for our souls.

A Glimpse of a Bigger God

In my travels around the world, I have seen some amazing things. I have seen thousands of sunsets and hundreds of sunrises, each one a reminder of how beautiful creation is, as God paints the sky in vibrant color. I have experienced the miracle of life and the mystery of death, celebrating in each moment. I have seen the smiles of those our society considers poor and saw the richness of their pure, unending joy. I have felt God move in my heart, drawing me towards the path He has placed at my feet and have heard the gentle whisper calling my name.

I have rejoiced in the blessings that I have witnessed and taken part in. My path has allowed me to live and discover joy in each and every moment. But my path has not always been on the mountain tops.

There have been times in my journey that have dropped down the the lowest of lows and have been shrouded in darkness.

It’s easy to fall into the belief that everything good comes from God and everything bad is the product of the Deceiver. For a long time, I was convinced that this was the truth. But recently, my mind was blown when one of the gentlemen from the body of Christ challenged this belief. He opened up his Bible (actually, he pulled it up on his smart phone) and revealed the following:

I am the LORD, and there is no other;
apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
though you have not acknowledged me,
so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the LORD, do all these things
– Isaiah 45:5-7

Another translation states “I send good times and bad times.” Another, “I make well-being and create calamity.” “I make peace and create evil.”

Now there is something that should shake the foundation of who you think God is.

I was sharing these words with another brother in Christ, and he shook his head and stated that this changes everything he ever thought about God. It widens the frame.

You see, God is bigger than just being “good.” Yes, He sends prosperity, well-being, peace, and good times our way. We can easily see Him working in those moments. So often these are the things we associate with God. But He is so much bigger than that.

He not only formed light, He created darkness.

This changes everything.

I’ve had so many people ask me how God could allow bad things to happen. I’ve had people ask how God could allow us to suffer and to die terrible deaths if He truly loves us.  I never had an answer because I don’t know the extent of God. He has always been (and will continue to be) bigger and more complex than anything I could wrap my head around.

But I know this: God created both the light and the dark. He gave us, His children made in His image, the option to choose. He allows us to decide between the two. He could have easily made us as robots, and directed our every moment in this life, but He gave us the choice to live because He wants us to experience life and love to its fullest.

We have the choice to follow the light or dive into the darkness. And when we begin to understand that God has created everything, even the moments of intense pain, death, and suffering, we have the opportunity to open our eyes to see Him in those moments as well.

Looking back, I understand that God was there every step of the way, even in those darkest moments where part of me thought He had abandoned us. He allowed me to be resent when He chose to bring home a child as she slipped from this life before my eyes. He revealed to my heart the value of life and the gentle blessing of death. He allowed me to hear a mothers cry of anguish and sorrow so that I would be reminded of the lessons He gave me.

After Job looses his oxen and donkeys in the fields, after flames fell from the sky and devoured his sheep, after his camels and servants are put to the sword, after every son and daughter were buried beneath the ruins, he fell to the ground and worshiped God (Job 1:13-20).

Naked I came form my mother’s womb,
and naked I will return.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.
– Job 1:21

And after all this, after he is afflicted with painful sores over his entire body, when his wife tells him “Curse God and die!” He replies:

You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?
– Job 2:10

You see, God creates good and evil. Light and darkness. He provides good times and bad. And He is always present in it.

This is something that was revealed to me, and I continue to process it. I am still yet to comprehend what it all means, but it is part of the larger picture of faith.

Until next time…

Children of God

I’m what church people would consider a “bad Christian.”  I don’t do daily devotionals. I don’t read the Bible as much as I ‘should.’ I don’t have a home church. I am not currently active in a set community of believers that meets up once a week or so to discuss faith.

I church hop.  I travel around too much to consider a single church home. I’ve participated in Catholic Mass, a Baptist service, and a Non-Denominational sunrise service.  All in the past couple months. I was born and raised in the Roman Catholic Church. Went to Catholic Heart Work Camp several summers in a row. Was active in my church Youth Group and Youth Choir, and was part of Young Life at the same time.  I lead middle school youth through Wyld Life.  I served at Summer Camps, did missions trips, and went to a Southern Baptist university. I consider myself non-affiliated to any single denomination.  And yet, sometimes I feel like I have deserved the title of “Bad Christian.”

Yesterday morning, while sitting on the steps outside the office waiting on the rest of my team to arrive to head out on project, I pulled out my Bible and turned to a random page, and began reading.  And this is what I read:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
– John 1:1-13

I reread it. Several times.

I read it again this morning.

You see, I’m not a “good” Catholic. I’m not a “good” Christian. All I am is a child of God.

A child that was reborn through the waters of baptism in Lake Heartwell, in front of a beautiful group of friends. A community. A family of believers.

I noticed two things today. Two things that never really registered, but were always there.

First: I have nothing. I have no light of my own. No love. No waters of life.

You and I are like the moon. Everything we have is a reflection of God. We are each a light in the darkness because of the light of love that God pours out in our lives. All the love I share, all the hope that pours forth, is from God. I am just a vessel, a witness of his works in this world.

And I have been blessed to be part of the story.

Second: No matter how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ I am, I will always be a child of God.

I recently became an uncle once again. My sister and brother-in-law are adopting a beautiful, little baby boy. He is part of our family. I know this not because of blood, but because the love that pours forth from his parents, his mother and father who have brought in into their lives.

I see this. And I know this is only a fraction, a reflection of the love that God pours out onto each one of us. He is our Abba. Our Father in Heaven. I am His adopted son. We are His children. Sons and daughters.

It took watching the joy in my sisters smile, the love in her voice, for me to realize how powerful, how beautiful it is to be adopted into the family of God.

It doesn’t matter if I’m a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ Christian. God loves me just the same.

And He loves you too.

The Defeat of Death

Today, Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Christ our King, Jesus.  Resurrection Sunday.  Easter.  A time to remember when the tomb stood empty.  The man who was killed for the sins of the world, rose once again, defeating death and washing us clean through the blood spilt on the cross.  We remember because, through His sacrifice and resurrection, we can now rejoice in eternal life with the Abba, Father.

Imagine what it would be like for the men and women who walked with Jesus and watched Him die.  They did not understand His death.  They could not see what was to come.  They were scared. Afraid. Lost without their shepherd.

What would it be like to see the angel of God come down and roll away the stone, opening the tomb once again?

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
– Matthew 28:2-4

There is a power unknown to man.  A power that we could never know.  I could spend the rest of my life trying to understand it, but I could never comprehend what happened in those three days.  All I know is that our King died for us, for me.  He took our place on that cross and died for our sins.  His blood was spilt for us, washing us clean of our sins.  He was buried, wrapped in linens and placed in a borrowed tomb that was sealed and placed under guard.  And on the morning of the third day, the tomb stood empty.

We may never know what happened in those days between His death and the discovery of the empty tomb in which He was lain. My faith tells me that He descended into death, and death could not hold Him.  The sacrificial lamb, unblemished by sin, rose to be in communion with God, the Father.  Abba.

Faith tells us that His blood was shed for us.  His blood washed us clean. So that when our time on Earth is over, we too can be in communion with God.

You see, death has been defeated.

It holds no power over us.

So, this Easter, as we gorge ourselves on chocolate, sweets, and the love that overflows from family and friends, know that death has been defeated, our King has risen, and that we have been washed clean of our sins, so that we can live in the presence of God, both here in this life and in eternity to come.

When God Made Girls

Recently, every time a certain song comes on, the women in the trucks immediately demand that the station be changed. As a result, some of the guys refuse. And what little peace was present is broken for the time being. Actually, I think the only reason some of the guys like this song is because the girls are so adamantly opposed to it.

The song in question: God Made Girls, by Rae Lynn.

Honestly, I’ve never really paid attention to the song. I think it’s kind of a joke. And I don’t think it was ever meant to have the impact that it does on the Feminist movement.

This being said, I do think this is a funny song due to the reactions it receives each time it is played on the radio.

No, I don’t think girls (women) were made by God to wear skirts, flirt, and give us (men) reasons to do things. God made girls to be the companion that man needed to be in communion.

You see, God made girls for a reason: to live as the equal, opposite, and other half of man. God made girls to that both boys and girls would know what it means to love. To fight for someone. To live together as one. God made girls so that mankind (both male and female) would be in His image.

So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
– Genesis 1:27

When God made man, something was missing.  He needed a helper (Gen. 2:18).  And after all the wild animals of the fields and the birds of the sky failed, God took a side of man that he did not know that he possessed and made woman.  And when he was her, he knew in an instant what it was to live in communion with someone.  He saw her, and his heart was filled with love, joy, and all the unspeakable emotions of pure bliss.

You see without girls, boys would not know how to truly live.  God knew what He was doing.

So we can laugh and smile about a song that irritates the [edit] out of people, but we know that God made both man and woman for a purpose: to live together as one.  To live together in communion with one another, and the world around them.

Mary Did You Know?

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in clothes and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
– Luke 2:8-20

Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  Did she know?  Oh, how could she know the glory that had come into her life!

We celebrate the birth of Christ, giving gifts to one another, and singing songs that remind us of the Christmas Story (shepherds, Angels, wise men, and the manger).  We post images of Santa and elves.  And we question if we, as Christians should wage war against the saying “Happy Holidays” because we all want to “Keep Christ in Christmas.”

And as we begin to argue, we realize we have already lost sight of what truly matters.

My sister wrote a beautiful piece on why and how she still includes Santa in Christmas.  You see, Christmas is about family.  Look at the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.  It is about receiving gifts that you do not necessarily deserve.  The Magi.  God coming down to earth to save all of us from our sins.

Do I think that Christmas has become bigger and that society has lost sight of all of this?  Maybe.  But I know too many people who do not celebrate the birth of Christ, and if I raise a fuss and shout about how they need to focus on something that they do not believe, how is that showing them love?  If I tell them how they should live, that isn’t love.

Christmas is about love.  Unconditional love.  A love that none of us could ever deserve.

Like Mary, we treasure these things, holding them in our hearts.  I know that God has a plan.  It may not be the one that I have envisioned, but I know that it is far greater.  Mary held a glimpse of God’s plan, but how could she ever know the miracles that Jesus would perform?  If you are asking if she knew, take a look at Luke 2:41-52 and John 2:1-12 (young Jesus in the temple and the wedding feast, respectively).  Oh, she knew her son was the Son of God.

The gift of love is evident in how we live.  If we do not love, we cannot claim to be followers of Christ.  So, this holiday season, smile and share that love that you treasure and hold in your heart.  Your life may be the only Gospel that someone may see.

 

At the Foot of the Cross

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple who he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”
– John 19:25-27a

Today is Good Friday, the day that Christians and followers of Christ reflect on the crucifixion and death of Jesus.  There was a darkness that fell over the land and as Jesus breathed his last breath, the temple curtain was torn in two, from the top down.  Jesus’s death was a sacrifice for us all, whether we accept it or not.

We all know the Easter story, when the women found the empty grave on the third day.  But that is a reflection for a different day.

Lets look back at the cross.  Religion focuses a lot on the pain and suffering of Christ our King.  I cringe each time I think of it, but look closely.  Who is standing there at the foot of the cross?

Some women were watching from a distance.  Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome.  In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs.  Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
– Mark 15:40-41

But those that knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
– Luke 23:49

They were watching from a distance.  Nobody but the guards mocking him were at the foot of the cross.

Why?  Where were his disciples?  His chosen few who followed him everywhere?  Why, in all the Gospel accounts was it only mentioned in one that a single disciple of his was within speaking distance?  Were they afraid?  Did they all run and hide?

Like them, many times we find ourselves running away from God.  Be it shame.  Misunderstandings.  Fear.  Or persecution.  We have found ourselves no longer at the foot of the cross, but hiding in the upper room.  We are just like His disciples.

And God does funny things when we run from Him.  Look at Jonah and the whale.  Look at what happened to the disciples.

We may feel as if God abandoned us.  We no longer have a physical being here beside us, guiding our hands and feet.  But God sent the greatest gift to the terrified hearts of those who followed him.  Tongues of flame.  The Advisor.  The Spirit of God settled upon them.  And He has made His dwelling in each of us.

Even though we have run away, He still accepts us.  Even though we have sinned.  Even though we still sin.  He has called us His own.

Jesus told his disciple that His mother was now part of his family, we are brothers and sisters through faith.  We are a family because we have each been accepted by our Father.  He takes us as we are, where we are, and makes us precious in His sight.

We are washed by the blood that flowed forth on that cross, and for that I am thankful.

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