Psalm 73:21-16 “When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
During our engagement my husband and I endured a messy and painful departure from our church. Conflict seemed to be on every side, but we happily found a new church to call home, and were largely consumed by the thrill of anticipating our coming marriage. It was a difficult season, but the purposes of God seemed clear, and His faithfulness to us was apparent.
One year into our marriage I found myself in a very different place. My career put me in a physically threatening environment, and I was overrun with anxiety. Others seemed to handle it with relative ease, while I was feeling affected by it even on my days off. Then there was the pain- constant and especially bad whenever I tried to sit still or lie in bed. It began from out of nowhere on our honeymoon, and continued to worsen relentlessly without explanation. I had developed intense insomnia, to the degree that several nights of the week I did not sleep at all. At one point I had gone 72 hours without a minute’s rest, and bear in mind, that meant not a one minute break from the pain. All this despite the prescription sleeping pills and painkillers, that I was frustratingly becoming addicted to. Continue reading
2 Peter 2:20-21 “For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”
How often have you considered that the manner in which Jesus Christ suffered and died has been recorded that you might follow His example? The cross is the apex of everything. It is humility pressed to the farthest extreme. Selflessness poured out in blood. Forgiveness in the face of false accusations, ridicule, and torture. Trust in God even when His presence is not felt, even when it feels He has turned His back. Resistance against all temptations to escape the Father’s will when it is tremendously costly. It is love, with every stumble beneath the weight of a cross, with every pounding of the nails, with all that He fulfilled like a lamb lead to the slaughter who did not open up His mouth(Isaiah 53:7). It is the pinnacle of obedience and faith; You will not find a better example. “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6).” Where do we turn when we feel like the cost is too high? When we want to give up? We look “to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2).” We “consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that (we) may not grow weary or fainthearted (Hebrews 12:3).” Continue reading
I didn’t grow up in a Christian family or in church and I still managed to ask Jesus in my heart three times by the age of 15. As a kid, it was kind of like fire insurance, something to tag on in case Hell was real. As a teenager, it was because I was invited to church and the preacher told me I had a God shaped hole in my heart only He could fill, and that resonated with me. Tears running down my face I raised my hand to accept Jesus. Christian kids from school smiled and got teary and gave me hugs. I went home with a One Minute Daily Devotional and felt pretty certain that now I was headed for Heaven.
Soon after, I went to the local Christian book store. I found a Teen Study Bible and bought the only poster available that didn’t look like it was for pansies. It was black with scrawled writing and a bloody cross, and I thought it looked pretty hardcore. Not only that but it had some pretty profound words- words that truly did speak to me and testify to my soul as being true: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matthew 16:24-25).” Continue reading
Like most people in today’s fast pace information age, I like to keep my mind occupied. As a Christian, I generally occupy my mind with “Christian” stuff. I read Christian articles and books, listen to worship music or sermons during mundane tasks, write this blog, and study my bible. Philippians 4:8 says “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Using these activities as ways to turn my thoughts towards these things is good and helpful.
But lately, as I fold my laundry while listening to worship music, or dutifully read the latest popular Christian article (in place of the newspaper I guess), there’s been a nudging thought trying to push its way to the front of my mind. It’s this- with all this constant input, and all the noise (even though its good noise), how often am I sitting in silence to pray? Continue reading
I’m going to share three stories with you from my pre-conversion high school days.
I was at a local punk rock show, throwing my fists aimlessly and thrashing in a blur of spiked bracelets and colored mohawks. It was circulating that someone I didn’t know wanted to fight me because they heard I had a black belt in karate. I found that to be enormously entertaining, so at the break I wandered outside to find this person. When someone pointed me her direction I approached her asking “So I hear you want to fight me?” I didn’t know that she was drunk. Within seconds her and her two friends were on me, dragging me around the parking lot by my hair and kicking me. There was nothing I could do, and I was laughing.
I love my 2 year old to pieces. We laugh, dance, tickle, sing, and read together every single day. We take slow walks, picking up rocks and sticks, sitting on logs and calling them boats, petting puppies and finding a world full of treasure in a puddle (you know like nut shells and dead leaves, that kind of thing). We also have melt downs- or near melt downs- every single day. That’s one of the parts of parenting I could do without. Continue reading
Perhaps today, more than ever, we revolve ourselves around our own identity. Social media makes it easier, and more public than ever, to almost develop a “brand” for ourselves. We shoot messages and photographs through the air, building up an image for ourselves, trying to display that we are a person worth knowing, or even admiring. We want to believe and to display that we have worthy thoughts, worthy talents, worthy goals, worthy jobs, worthy parenting, worthy marriages, and the list goes on. It seems we are in a race to impress- though isn’t it true that flattery pleases for mere seconds? If we live for the praises of men we will return to the treadmill for praise in a rush- rarely satisfied, barely catching a breath. Continue reading
The book of Job shocks its reader at almost every point. We avoid it, we are confused by it, terrified by it, scandalized by it, and certainly if we’re honest- we want no part in it. Who would? These are nice lessons for Job- nice lessons to read about- but keep it far away from my tent.
Some may sympathize with Job, others, shake their head in disbelief that a man God called “blameless” would desire to die and accuse God of taking pleasure in his pain. We might flatter ourselves, think Job a fool. Continue reading
“Skin for skin,” said that heartless snake
“Though land and kin his God may take,
But Job replies ‘Blessed be God’
Face down upon the tear soaked sod
‘He gave and He may take away’
Touch flesh! Will he respond that way? Continue reading
In full dependence there he lie
The Son of God
Sent from on high,
Now man, a boy, a babe
A King, with stars at his command
Now swaddled meekly on the hay.