Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Celebrating the One who sees

Whether you're a mother or not, there are some sweet truths in this video. When Hagar encountered God as she sat by a spring in the desert after fleeing Sarai, she identified Him as El Roi - the God who sees. (See Genesis 16 for the full story.) Nothing we do is invisible to Christ!

(By the way, I'm one of those who HATES watching videos on the computer. I'm not sure why, but it's just not my thing. However, please trust me when I say that this one is worth the five minutes and forty-seven seconds.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spring roller coaster...

Where we live, the temperatures have taken us on a roller coaster ride. One day it's nearly 80 and the next, we're pulling out jackets to try to keep from freezing. Evening temperatures dip into the frost range and daytime highs struggle to break into the 50's.

And then there are the winds and the rains. The tornado watches and the severe thunderstorm warnings. Hot and cold, it seems, do no coexist very peacefully.

When you think of it, God's Word lets us know hot and cold mixed together isn't a good thing, either. Remember the admonition to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3?

14 "To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

For the longest time I thought hot or cold meant either on fire for the Lord or lost. But when I was in a Bible study on Revelation a couple of years ago, there was another explanation. If the people were cold, they would be like the proverbial drink of cold water... refreshing. If they were hot, they would be like therapeutic hot springs, bringing healing. But they were neither. Just lukewarm. Bleh!

What about you? As you celebrate Spring and go about your daily life, are you a cool refreshing moment in someone's day? Or are you a hot friend who leaves others able to move through life with less pain? Or are you neither?

Spend a little time asking the Lord to make you what you need to be today for His glory.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Keeping Easter in Our Hearts

As the grass turns greener, the skies turn bluer and sunnier, and the pretty tree in our front yard bursts into its full purpleness I am reminded of what Easter means and am stunned and thankful once again at the majesty of my Risen Lord. The birds are singing their hearts out in our cul-de-sac and I am minded of the verses in Luke 19:35-40:

They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. 37When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
38"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"
40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out."

How appropriate, considering that this past Sunday was Palm Sunday.

To me, Christmas and Easter have always been inseparable. One makes no sense without the other. As I read the story of the crucifixion in Luke and think about the triumphal entry and the subsequent events of the week, I have to look back at the beginning of the book of Luke and remember how the whole story starts: with God becoming a baby. I look at my sweet 5 month old daughter and am humbled by the sacrifice that God made on my behalf. To send His only Son to die for the very ones who hated Him - what a thought! And how for granted I take that sacrifice on a daily basis. She is so helpless, so totally dependent upon us adults for her every need... and THAT is what God became. He came to earth as a baby. Clothed himself in the frailest of human flesh. Could not feed himself, could not walk or talk or communicate in any way. Jesus wasn't born able to look around and say, "Hey Mom, wow... why are we in a barn? Couldn't you have told the inn-keeper that it was an emergency?" He was born and he cried and he slept a lot - that's what babies do. And God the Father sent this precious, tiny bundle to the world knowing that His Son would ultimately be killed in order to save the world. How completely selfless and awe-inspiring. As I look into my daughter's sleeping face, or smile at her and delight in seeing her smile back real big, I know deep in my heart that I would die for her if necessary. It would be easy. I wouldn't think twice. But to let her die for someone else? I would kick and scream and do everything in my power to prevent it, to keep her safe. Funny how I've never thought about that part of Christ's sacrifice before, never understood that it was important. It wasn't just Christ who made a sacrifice, God the Father also made a sacrifice, one that must have torn His heart in two, and all because He loved us THAT much. John 3:16, the most memorized verse of the Bible, the verse I have known longer than any other, and yet this year it has come alive again to me in a way I never thought about before.

"For God so LOVED the world that He GAVE his ONLY begotten Son, that whosever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

What an amazing thing.

And what hope! Here is the part I love the most about Easter Sunday: we serve a RISEN LORD. Death could not hold Him, sin could not defeat Him, the tomb could not keep Him, our enemy - in what he must have believed was his moment of triumph - was defeated once and for all and forever because God could not, would not, and did not stay in the grave. And because of that - the grave itself holds no fear for those of us who believe. Death itself cannot deafeat or hold us because of Christ's victory over it. "Hallelujah, what a Savior!"

And so - what fear should grip me? In the face of knowing that by His victory I also have victory over death, what else should cause me to tremble? The economy? Politics? Money? Whether or not my husband will have a job tomorrow? Not feeling like I have enough time to get everything done? The muffler falling off one car and then popping a hole in the tire of another car in the same week? I am not saying that these concerns are not valid, but knowing that I serve the One who defeated death itself can I not believe He can overcome these things as well? Do I choose only to believe parts of what He said? Can I believe that he conquered the grave and not believe that He will do as he promises in Matthew 6:25-34?

25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

What a box I often place God in! That is why I love Easter so much - it reminds me that God sprang out of every box, opened every door, defeated every enemy. It reminds me of His power, His majesty, and that in taking care of the big things, He is also a God who cares about the little things, the everyday things. What a comfort. What a blessing. What a promise to hold onto, not just this coming Sunday, but all year long. It is said that we should keep Christmas in our hearts all year long - but what about Easter? This year, I would love to hold on to Easter all year long. How about you, dear reader?

What is your favorite thing about Easter?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New Life...

Can you think of a time more bursting with new life than Spring? I can't -- especially this year.

I have several friends who have either just had babies (and by "just" I mean this week) or are imminently expecting the arrival of a little one. I don't see how anyone can look at a newborn without breaking out in worship. Only God can create and sustain life. He is, after all, the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Grab a Bible and flip to Revelation 4:11. I dare you to memorize it and meditate on it over the next week.

Somehow we get the idea that we have a hand in the creation thing. True, there are certain acts that perpetuate God's creation for which we have to be present, but don't think for one moment that one single life gets created apart from God's divine purposes and plans.

I didn't always think that way. When we first started trying to have a family of our own, I thought making babies was the easiest, most guaranteed thing in the world. After a year of trying, we realized... hummm... we're doing everything we're supposed to do, but hummm... no baby.

Infertility is a bear. If you have been through it or are in the midst of it, you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's heartbreaking to want something so badly, following all the steps - tests, timing, trying, testing, tears, treatments, tests, timing, trying, tests, tears, treatments... Depending on God's plan, it can go on and on and on. Then people starts to look at you "that way" and you feel awkward for making them feel awkward. And you want to be so content and so full of faith that it doesn't matter on the timing of when you have a baby or even if you ever have a baby, but your heart hurts so much you ache all over. Yep. I've been there.

I learned many things during our season of infertility. Probably the biggest lesson I learned was that God alone is the Giver of life. We pretty much exhausted what humans have been able to figure out about infertility. Nothing we could do, nothing the doctors could do made a baby for us until God's timing was fulfilled on that one. I am fully convinced that not one single human being is here by accident. That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. No... considering the odds of any humans being here at all, there is only one explanation for every baby who is ever born: God, Creator and Sustainer, ordained it. What a blessing we receive when we welcome the lives He creates.

...All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
~Psalm 139:16

I pray you'll take a few minutes to read over Revelation 4 and Psalm 139, and spend a little time worshiping the One Who sent His only Son so that we can celebrate life for all eternity.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Resurrection Eggs...

One of the sweetest craft projects any of my kids has ever made came home with my daughter in first grade. They made a set of Resurrection Eggs. I sent in an empty cardboard egg carton and a dozen plastic eggs. What came home was a treasure.

If you don't have your own set of Resurrection Eggs, consider making one. I know you can buy them in any Christian (or even many secular) bookstore, but there's something special about making them yourself.

Here are three neat websites with instructions for making Resurrection Eggs:

Have a blessed Easter season!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wondrous new life

The picture below didn't come out very clearly since I had to take it from inside through a (admittedly dirty) window and screen, but it is our momma dove (whose tail you can see sticking up on the right) camped out in her nest, also known as my hanging basket! Her eggs recently hatched and I think she and her little ones have moved out to another nest, probably because she wasn’t expecting to have her quiet home disturbed a few times a day by our family going in and out the door a couple feet from her home! I was sad to see her go because it was truly glorious to watch new life emerge just outside our front door.

It gave me a daily reminder to praise God for being the author and creator of all life. I’ve had a lot of those reminders lately: not one but two births in my circle of friends this month, the blooming daffodils in my backyard (that sadly died with the snow!), the white blossoms adorning our Bradford pear tree (which my daughter mistook for snow when she first saw them!) in our front yard, the new skin that’s regenerating where my recent staph infection was on my leg, and the little boy kicking inside me who we should be blessed to meet in less than a month! So much new life to celebrate!

As spring officially begins later this week, I encourage you to look for the new life that God is creating around you and use it as a reminder to praise Him! And, of course, the new life that I’m most thankful for is that which He created inside me when I became His child and the promise held for me in His resurrection that we will be celebrating on April 10th this year.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! ~2 Corinthians 5:17

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. ~Romans 6:4-5

(If this “new life” thing seems strange or foreign to you, my friend, please email us at We would love to explain it in more detail and share with you about the new life God has created in our hearts and lives!)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Celebrating Lent!

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. –Psalm 73:25-26

When Lent officially began a couple weeks ago, it might have passed without much notice on your part or you might have been at church getting ashes placed on your forehead, depending on your church and denomination. The church season of Lent, leading from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, the Saturday before Easter, is meant to be a season of preparation for Easter. Whether you typically celebrate Lent or not, it is wise for each of us as believers to prepare our hearts to celebrate Christ and His resurrection at Easter and every day.

Traditionally, the 40 days of Lent represent the 40 days during which Jesus was in the wilderness and tempted by Satan, found in Mark 1, Matthew 4, and Luke 4. During that time, Jesus fasted, which is why it’s common to give something up, or fast from something, during Lent. Earlier this week I read an article in the paper about the recent popularity of people giving up technology in various forms, such as Facebook, ipods, or even email, during Lent. While I usually think of fasting as going without food, as Jesus did in the passages listed above, the true purpose of the practice is to take our focus off earthly things (like food or Facebook) and to instead focus on God.

So what is your focus right now? In other words, can you truly and honestly repeat the words of the psalmist above: “And earth has nothing I desire besides Christ.” If you can’t, why not? Is there something you ought to fast from?

Here’s an example. About a year ago, I found myself saying one thing with my mouth but doing something else with my actions. I said I wanted to start the day in God’s Word and in prayer. I often started the day with the newspaper instead. You see, I’m a newspaper junkie. I don’t feel like my day is complete until I’ve read the paper from cover to cover. This habit started when I was 11 (yes, I was a nerd!). There’s nothing wrong with reading the paper daily … but my actions were conflicting with my intentions and in essence saying, “And earth has nothing I desire besides Christ … and my daily dose of the news.” Now I hold myself accountable to spending time reading Scripture and talking to God before I take the paper out of its blue rubber band or plastic covering. While this isn't a true fast since I still read my paper daily, it is a shift in focus from the earthly (my newspaper) to the eternal (God and His Word), so it holds true to the purpose of fasting.

In John 3:30, after John’s followers have called it to his attention that this Jesus guy is stealing away some of his disciples, John says, “He must increase; I must decrease.” During this season of Lent (and during every season of your life), pray for God to show you what it is that you desire besides Him and ask Him to reveal any area of fasting that might benefit you, so that by changing your desires and actions you can decrease and He can increase. I pray that Christ and His resurrection will be truly magnified in your life during this Lenten season and beyond!