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A “re”newed view

Isaiah 53:5 – “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

I teach the teenagers on Wednesday night at church. These last few weeks we have been going through the student version of “A Case for Christ”. And let me tell you, tonight’s lesson is going to be tough. I debated skipping it but I feel that as tough as it will be, my kids need to hear it. All of it. So instead of trying to determine a witty presentation of the subject matter, I’m just going to read it. 

I have to. There is nothing witty or clever about the transgressions committed against my Jesus. 

In our society, we are okay with watching movies that are gruesome and horrible. We read books that give us nightmares. We watch videos on social media that terrify us. But to careful consider the torment and brutality of what Jesus went through for us, well, that’s another story. We can’t take it. It hurts too much. 

I think that when we stop and look into history about the torture methods and ways  a death sentence was carried out in the Roman culture, we can’t help but feel burdened and grateful and incredibly sad. We hear periodically about Jesus being “wounded” for our transgressions. I don’t think that begins to scratch the surface. 

Jesus was brutally tortured for my sin. Jesus was beaten beyond recognition for my sin. Jesus was humiliated on the cross for my sin. Jesus felt the weight of His own body through the nails piercing His hands/wrists for my sin. Jesus endured what can only be described as suffocation and His organs shutting down very slowly for my sin. And I know that if I was the only person in history that would ever accept His sacrifice, He would still have done it – for me. 

And that is powerful. 

With each touch of the whip, He thought of all those through time that would choose Him as their Savior. With each agonizing moment on that cross, He thought about each life that would be drastically changed because of His act of selfless love. 

Do you think about that? Do you consider that when work piles up? Do you think about that while your folding laundry for the ump-teenth time this week? Do you consider His sacrifice and love for each and every one of us when that nut monkey cuts you off in traffic?

Probably not. I know I don’t. But I should. I believe that if we would live our life redeemed and grateful for His sacrifice, our world would change. Fear would leave. Doubt would run and hide. Compassion would be as common place as anything you can think of. 

But it’s so much easier to turn our thoughts away from Him. It’s so much easier to forget. 

I want to encourage you today to take a moment and read about His suffering. I want you to think about His sacrifice. I want you to say “thank you” and mean it from a place in your heart that is torn and burdened. 

Out of the hole

Isaiah 40:29 – “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.”

It’s been a long week – and it’s only Wednesday. I’m playing the role of one man taxi driver for a household. My heart goes out to single parents. It’s rough to not have another hand to reach out to!

Yesterday I spent 2 and a half hours driving, non-stop. We were 45 minutes from home and 1 mile away from the soccer field when they cancelled practice because of rain and lightning. Ugh! 

On the way home, my son, bless his sweet little heart, did his best to try and cheer me up. But God love him, I was so sick of driving and hangry (that’s hungry AND upset) that it was mission impossible. 

But as I sat outside the dance studio waiting for my daughter to complete her class with my belly full and my work done, the clouds started to break and a tiny bit of light blue sky could be seen. The rain was over.  People were beginning to come out of their shelter from the much needed rain and things began to look better. Yes, I was STILL in the car but hope was on the horizon. 

You know, some days we feel we get jipped in the needs department. Our “poor little me” attitude comes out for a pity party and we gladly welcome it in. 

But then you come across this verse. It reminds me that when I try and do things myself and rely upon my own strength, that “pity party” me comes out to play. And she’s not very much fun. When I rely upon solely upon the strength from my Savior, He lifts me up. He makes the clouds break and encourages me to come out of my hole. 

So let me encourage you today to draw your strength solely from Jesus. He’s the only One who can keep you from fainting at life. 

HE IS STILL IN CONTROL

Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Matthew 6:34 – “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Isaiah 14:24 – “The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand”

So for the last few days, everyone has asked me, “What do you think about the election?” My response has been, “God is still in control.” A few people have come back with a “Really?” But yesterday, one lady, who is through her lineage a Jew, said to me, “You really believe He is still in control? I’m not so sure.”

I. Was. Heartbroken. I don’t understand how anyone could question whether or not God is in control. But when someone who professes to be a Jew and knowing their heritage and all that God has done for them says to me “Really?”, I am troubled. 

Whether or not you are happy or sad or burdened or depressed or concerned about the way things are going right now, God is in control. He always has been and He always will be. Crazy people may rule the land. (They have been, right?)   Fanatics may be throwing temper tantrums in the street. Extremist may be marching around trying to intimidate everyone. But GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL!  

I think the most troubling thing about some of the discussions where people question whether or not He is still in control is this – where is their hope? I HAVE to believe that He is still in control. Otherwise, I think in would curl up in a ball in the corner and wait out the rapture. He is my hope. Knowing that He is in control gets me out of bed and gets me through dealing with crazy people. It is what puts one foot in front of the other. 

My hope, my trust, my comfort is solely in Jesus Christ my Savior. As the old song goes, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust a sweeter strain but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”

Proclaiming on purposeĀ 

Isaiah 55:11 – “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

It has been revival week this week. And man, have we been challenged! 

In my heart and mind, our speaker has been really focusing on sharing the Gospel with others. God is really wanting to get that ball rolling. 

I fail at this. I try to live my life so that others will see Him. I read my Bible trying to listen to what He says. I pray and talk to Him about so many things. But I don’t share Him with others like I’m supposed to. And I’ve touched on this before – it is because of fear. I know that if I would just share Him one time, the next time would be easier. It’s just taking that first step. 

I don’t know what I’m afraid of – God said that His word would not return void. He can use all of my bumbling and fear and turn it into something marvelous if I would just take the first step. 

Look at moving day – you plan for it, you prepare for it, you psyche yourself up for it and then you have to do it. There is no choice when the van arrives – you have to do it. 

Sometimes I wish sharing the Gospel was like that – when the opportunity arises, you just have to do it, there’s no way to get out of it. But it’s not. You have to chose to proclaim Him. You have to do it on purpose. 

We have been encouraged this week to talk to the person at the gas pump about Jesus. Holy man! That scares me like nothing else! There can be some creepy people at the gas pump. And we hear all about weirdos that say and do things that are questionable. Want more excuses? I have a bucket full of them. But being “creepy” and a “weirdo” is my perception of them. God sees someone who needs Him. And God sees me needing to be obedient. 

Like everything else, it is a choice. It is a choice to be obedient. It is a choice to take that first scary step. It is a choice to proclaim on purpose. It is a choice to see others like Jesus sees them. 

Proclaiming on purpose. It is a challenge we all need to accept in our life. This world has loads of people needing to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. They are hurting and scared and needing Someone to hold onto. They need Jesus. They need me to proclaim Him on purpose. 

Lose the shoes

Isaiah 40:31 – “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

We went to the movies this weekend. In one of the new movies coming out, there is a girl that wears these large, heavy shoes. When she removes them, she levitates. (I know. Weird. But roll with me for a minute.)

It made me think – we all walk around with these big, bulky, heavy shoes. We call these shoes sin. These shoes are dirty and nasty and they hold us down. They keep us from mounting up on eagles wings. 

These shoes are made out of lies that we tell ourself. Lies like we aren’t good enough. Lies like “you might offend someone.” Lies like “no one cares.” 

They are also made out of anger. Anger that keeps us from mending fences. Anger that makes us spout off hurtful words. 

They are also made out of pride. Pride that keeps us from admitting when we have made a bad choice. Pride that says we are better than someone else. 

They are made out of many more things that keep us tied to this earth and drag us through the mud. Those shoes are hurtful and unattractive, yet we wear them around like we have no other choice. 

But we do. We have the opportunity to break free of those pesky shoes and fly. Now, we can’t be perfect and sinless, at least not yet, but we can be holy and righteous. Jesus told us that if we would follow after Him and obey His commandments that we can live right before Him. That is soaring. That is real living. 

But we cannot take off the shoes on our own. For some reason, we inherently like them way too much. Jesus is the only One that can remove the shoes. When He humbled Himself at Calvary, He loosened the shoes from our feet. He broke the bondage they create. He gave us the opportunity to soar with Him. 

We all have the shoes (Romans 3:23 – ” For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”). No one can escape it on their own (Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”). It is a gift that Jesus loosens the shoes. You can’t earn it. You can’t buy it. All you can do is accept the free gift that is offered. It is the ONLY thing in life that is truly free. 

My challenge to you this week is to accept the gift and let Him loosen your shoes. They are ugly and yucky and will ever help you soar. Jesus wants you to fly. He wants you mount up on wings with eagles. But to do that, you have to lose the shoes.  

A Whole New Level of Peace

Isaiah 32:16-17 – “Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”

My son left Monday for a 10 day trip to the United Kingdom to play soccer with his team. We took him to the airport and left him in the hands of his coach and several parents. 

And I’m not worried. I’m grateful. 

Now, true, I didn’t sleep much Monday night knowing that he was flying across the ocean, but deep down, I knew he would be fine. 

This whole experience has been interesting to say the least. I have learned a whole new level of trust and peace. I have let my 14 year old son go to a foreign country without me. People would look at me like I’m crazy when I told them he was going. 

“How can you let him go without you?” “Aren’t you worried something could happen to him?”

My answer is this – He is an amazing young man. I trust him to make good choices. And if the Lord wants him, He can get him just as easily at home as He can in the UK. My son knows Jesus Christ as his Savior. He loves and follows Him. He trusts Him. 

New level of peace and assurance. 

This is what God wants – us to be continually growing. He wants us to stretch our limits. He wants us to trust Him more and more. He wants us to find our assurances in Him. He wants us to depend upon Him and not upon ourself. 

What I am feeling now is prayerful. I’m not necessarily worried; I’m just feeling the need for constant communication on behalf of my son. I pray for his safety. I pray that he will have an amazing time. I pray that he will soak in all the knowledge and experience that he can. But most of all, I pray that he will be the example of Jesus that he needs to be for the boys around him. 

School is just around the corner. For some, this is a really big deal. This is a super challenge. For some parents, they need a new level of trust in Jesus and in their children. We need to pray for all those involved. Our children are bombarded with yuck on a daily basis. They need peace. They need assurances. Jesus can offer them both. Let’s begin praying for these kids and these parents and these teachers and these administrators. Let’s pray that they find a whole new level of peace. 

The Box – Revisit

I’m revisiting this post today. Hope you enjoy it!

Isaiah 9:6 – “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Christmas is just three short days away. Decorations are up. Presents are nearly all purchased. Food had been listed and purchased for all the festivities. Excitement is on the rise.

Have you let all the commercialism and worldly lusts take you away from the manger? Life has a tendency to do that sometimes. We get so caught up in the “stuff” of the world that we forget the most important thing.

But just as my pastor was speaking about yesterday, it doesn’t stop at the manger. Jesus was so much more than a baby. Although, I can hardly wrap my brain around Mary kissing the face of God when she kissed baby Jesus. That thought makes me want to cry.
Although we don’t read much about the in-between years of Jesus’s life, I know a lot went on during those years. The next time we see Him is when He starts His ministry. And then, that goes way too quickly.
When Easter comes around, we will all be focused on the cross. The cross is very important. Without it, we would never have the opportunity for forgiveness from God. But it doesn’t stop there.

You see, we like to have things neat and tied up with a ribbon on top. We like things to be predictable. We like things to go just as we expect them to. We put Jesus in a box. We want Him to be predictable. We want Him to do exactly what we think He should do.
When most people read this verse around Christmastime, they focus on the beginning – the focus on the baby. Yet, when I read this verse yesterday, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed at the end – “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Just pick one. There is no way that all that that the one Name is could possible be tied up in a nice, neat package with a bow on top. He is just way more!

Ephesians 3:20 – “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…”
When most people read this verse, they stop considering it at “ask”. But when you read on, you see “or think”. How many dreams and imaginations do you have inside you head? I have more than I know to express. Jesus is bigger than that! He is able to do “exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or imagine”. Just wrap your brain around that one for a minute.

Christmas is when we remember and appreciate the birth of our Savior – and rightly so. But don’t leave Him there. And then when Easter rolls around, don’t leave Him at the cross or in the tomb. Remember, He arose. But also remember that He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

My challenge to you today, princess, is to let Jesus out of the box. Don’t hold Him back from creating within you a wondrous act. Jesus loves to make ordinary people extraordinary. You just have to let Him out of your box, get out of the way and get ready to be amazed.