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Church family

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 – “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.”

When my family and I started going to our church, we were a bit puzzled. Everyone was identified as aunt or uncle so-and-so. How could all these people possibly be related? True, it has been around for 120+ years and dating someone in our church requires a careful analysis of both people’s family tree, but still..all of them related?

We quickly learned that these were terms of endearment. 

My church is far from perfect. We have problems. We have challenges. But above it all, we have love. 

And there is no better place to see love than at a funeral. Now, I know, that seems weird. But hear me out. 

One of our ladies passed away this week. She had fought long and hard against an illness that rarely gives up – cancer. It was sad. And it was a blessing. She had been ill for so long and endured so much. She was ready to see Jesus. 

And as we sat and listened to the pastor give his words of encouragement, the common theme was “amen”. He talked about her faith; her dedication when she was ill; her love for her family and her Jesus. Amen. She isn’t hurting. Amen. She wants her family to share in her joy. Amen. Her family was not only flesh and blood but also the blood of Jesus Christ. 

I have a plaque in my home that was given to us by one of our church family. It says “Friends are the family you choose.” 

And no truer words can be spoken when I think about my church family. 

I love my family dearly, blood of my relatives and blood of my Jesus. They are all precious to me. And yesterday, as we laid to rest one of our own, my heart was sad for the ones left behind but happy for her. It was bittersweet. 

So I would encourage you to go home to your church family this weekend. They would love to see you. They would love to hug you. They would love to tell you how much they have missed you, because they have. Don’t let the devil steal away the family that God has given you. Treasure it and thrive within it. 

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. 

Good Monday morning

Psalm 23:4 – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

Good Monday morning. 

I just returned home from visiting family this last week. We had a long drive yesterday and I really didn’t get much sleep while traveling. So, this morning I was stumbling around my kitchen trying to remember how to make coffee and put away a few things, when I dropped a can of root beer. It goes to spewing all over their floor. I tried to put my finger over the hole enough to get it to the sink. This worked somewhat but not enough to save me from having to spot mop the floor. 

Good Monday morning. 

What does this have to do with walking through the shadow of death you might ask? Perspective and attitude. Surprisingly, I handled the situation quite well. No harsh words uttered. No bad thoughts passing through my brain. Just “well, I have to clean this up.” Maybe it’s because I’m so tired that I can’t muster up the energy to get mad. Maybe though, God used this moment to remind me that it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is how I choose to respond to it. And I feel like I chose well. “Very good, young patawon!” (I told you I’m not quite all here this morning!)

Good Monday morning. 

Let me encourage you today to let it roll. Let perspective and attitude be what keeps you afloat today. Don’t let Satan drag you down with mishaps and upsets. Show him that God is on your side by choosing to walk through the valley of the shadow of death with no fear. 

Mighty Man of Valour

Joshua 10:7-10 – “So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour. And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee. Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night. And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah.”

Happy Memorial Day from Kauai!

I just finished my morning perusal of Facebook and was admiring all the posts relating to this day. All the pictures of the soldiers. All the pictures of the families crying next to their loved one’s tombstone. It makes me so sad. I think about all those families who have lost loved ones and who have loved ones on the front lines. I appreciate all those people who willingly put their lives on the line for me every single day. Their sacrifice amazes and encourages me. 

And I know this day is a day we set aside to remember our military and their sacrifice, but I also want to remember the military of the past – the long ago past, say, Biblical times. 

Joshua was a warrior. He was devoted to the Lord and he was devoted to Moses. He was one of the scouts to the Promised Land that said, “Come boys! We got this!” when all the others said “No way!”. He was a “mighty man of valour”. 

I want you to take a close look at this passage. You see, Joshua went up to fight these guys. But I want you to look at Who went up before them – the LORD. Now, when you see “LORD”, the writer is talking about Yaweh. This is the Most Holy Name of God. This name is not used frequently. When the writer wrote it, they had a very specific ritual they had to go through just to write it. 

But my point is this – Joshua was not a mighty man of valour on his own. What made him so was his firm belief and confidence in God. He knew that God + him equals more than any one person or army could conquer. He knew that with God on his side that nothing was impossible. He diligently asked God what He wanted him to do. He determined in his heart to follow after God no matter how crazy or ridiculous the plan sounded (remember Jericho?).  This was a true mighty man of valour. 

So to all our military personnel and their families, I salute you and I encourage you to seek out the One who makes you a true hero – Jesus Christ. He is the one who can make you mighty man of valour as well. And remember, you don’t have to be in the military to be this mighty man of valour. You can be a mighty princess of valour too! All it takes is a firm determination to seek out Christ in all that you do and follow Him no matter what. 

Dealing with it 

Luke 23:49,55,56 – “And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.”

God made women to deal with things differently. We see things differently. We hear things differently. We understand things differently.  We deal with things differently. And in amongst the differences between a man and a woman are the individual differences. Different, different, different. 

It’s Good Friday, which when you think about it, what’s “good” about it? Whether you believe that Jesus died today or if you believe that He died yesterday or even Wednesday, this is the day He would have been in the tomb. Now, I realize that this part is “good” because He had to do so to fulfill the sin debt that we all are guilty of. I get that. But “good”…….

Anyway, what I want to point out here is what the women were doing. They saw all that Jesus went through. They saw the torturous look on His face. They saw Him being offered the vinegar to drink. They saw Him speak to people from the cross. They saw the natural wonders that happened during and just after His death. They saw Him choose to give up the ghost. They saw the people scoffing at Him. They saw it all. I cannot imagine what it was like for them to be there and see all of this and hear all of this and experience all of this and not be completely and totally torn up. 

These were emotional people at their core anyway. They hired mourners for funerals. They were big into show. But, no mourners were hired for Jesus. No big hooplah encurred. No plans had been made as to where to lay Him. Someone had to step up and fill that need. 

The women knew that the men had done their best to prepare Jesus’s body, but they knew that there was probably a little more that needed to be done to lay Him to rest properly. So, they went home and prepared some spices and balms to use when they went back to the tomb on the first day of the week. Some may wonder if their preparation of the necessary items showed a lack of faith in His resurrection. I don’t think so. I think that this was their way of dealing with the horrible grief they were under. Remember, we ladies have a way of dealing with things. When my dad passed away from a car accident, the funeral home people asked us how he combed his hair. My dad wore his hair the same way every day for most of his life. We thought it would just do its thing and all would be fine. But it wasn’t. When we went in to view his body, his hair was all wrong. I mean horribly wrong. My grandma did not handle that sight very well. And understandably so, he didn’t look like himself that way. So, somewhere in the depth of me, I was able to muster the gumption to request water and a comb to fix my daddy’s hair in the casket. We women have the ability to muster strength and deal with things that seem impossible. And the women that went through this with Jesus were no different. 

My point in today’s little blog is this, to quote Christopher Robin from Winnie the Pooh: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” Now, I know that this is not Scriptual, but still, it describes these women to a “T”.  These women did not wake up on the morning of Jesus’s crucifixition thinking that they could handle His death. These women woke up thinking they would go about their day as usual. But by the end of the day, they were completely and totally changed. Their whole belief system was turned upside down and they dealt with it the best way they could. But you know what? Through all of this, they were never out of the Father’s care. He still had His loving eye upon them. They didn’t have the Holy Spirit yet, which is probably a reason that the hurt was so raw. But He never took His hand from them. 

No matter what you are facing today, know this – He is with you, always. When you think you can’t handle it, you can with Him. When you don’t know how you will walk down this path, He will go with you. When the decisions in life are overwhelming, He’s there to help. Remember, He never left the women present at His death and will never leave you. 

The Warning

Matthew 25:13 – “ Watch thereforefor ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”

We are finishing up a long hard winter for some people. So much snow and ice and severely cold weather. Yuck! Yet, we have a pretty amazing weather prediction system. The meteorologist can predict weather fairly accurately. They don’t always get it right, but they are pretty close most of the time. 

We hear that a storm is coming, like a snow storm or a hurricane, and what do we do? We go out and stock up on water, can goods, and bread. We make sure that the batteries are working in our flashlights and that we have blankets if we need them. We make sure that we have extra cash, extra medicine and that Fido has extra food. We take every precaution that we can think of. We call our friends and family to make sure that they are prepared. 

But when it comes to our spiritual life, are we so prepared? When people hear that a storm will be passing through their area, they prepare for that short event and the quickly passing consequences. But do we warn others of the eternal consequences of the upcoming storm caused by sin? A day is coming when Jesus will return and the day of repentance will be over. You will warn your friend of the upcoming tornado but would you warn them of the consequences of sin by rejecting Jesus as their Savior? 

I am guilty. I let social pressures get to me. I don’t want people not to like me because I ask them about their eternal future. I like to be liked. But guess what? That won’t show people how to get to heaven. I try very hard to allow God to work through my life and I try very hard to acknowledge Him in all things. And that is good. But what I really need to do is say to people “hey, do you know Jesus?” Yet, those words are elusive to my vocabulary. I fail. 

But there is hope. Today is a new day with new opportunities. I need to be more brave. I need to be more concerned about a person’s spiritual wellbeing than my own popularity. 

That’s my challenge for you today, Princess. Be brave. You would share a weather warning. Make sure you care enough to give out the warning that God has left for us in the Bible – Jesus will return. Are you ready?

The Game

Psalm 27:1-3 – “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.”

My son plays soccer at school. He loves soccer. And though he plays for a Christian school sometimes they face opponents that are not followers of Christ. That can be difficult at times.

Yesterday, they faced an opponent who has been known to play in a very unsportsmanlike manner. We had heard about several of the previous games against other schools in which this team received several yellow cards for not playing the game properly. We had also been told that the parents were not friendly to their opponents. All in all, our team was a bit fearful of a negative and harsh game.

I don’t know about the rest of the parents but when I get into a position where I feel threatened or my child is threatened (and I know this ahead of time), I pray. I pray a lot. I pray for everyone involved. I pray that God will intervene and smooth out the path. I talked to my son about playing with integrity and not letting your anger get the best of you.

You see, high school soccer is a great life lesson not only for the players but also for the spectators. The players learn to be aware of their opponents and their playing style. They learn how to perform under pressure. They learn to control their emotions so that they can play as a team. The spectators learn to support success – no matter whose success it is. They learn that you don’t have to be in the middle of things in order to be helpful – sometimes your presence means more than any action you can take.

We are all going to have times in our life when we come up against some nasty foes, and we need to know to whom we need to turn for help – Jesus. Israel faced all kinds of foes that wanted to destroy them, that did not play fair. They had people trying to get into their heads with all kinds of crazy ideas. They had people who tried to destroy them from the inside out. Do you think your life is any different? Do you believe that on a daily basis that there are forces set to destroy you and all that you believe in?

Unfortunately, we all have battles in one form or another each and every day. We all have foes that don’t play fair, who try to get into our head with crazy ideas and who would love nothing more than to tear us to pieces.

Ok, Debbie Downer is done because here is the kicker to it all – WE WIN! If you have Jesus Christ leading you in the battle, you win every single time. It might feel like you have lost, but if you learn something to makes you grow closer to Him, you win. You see, it is so much about your attitude and perspective that it is not even funny. Maybe your foes are tearing out the bad stuff so that Jesus can grow the good stuff. Maybe you need to learn how to be strong mentally. You have to know what you believe and why you believe it to grow in that direction. So, you need someone to challenge you.

God can work in any situation. And He can grow us if we are willing to let Him. He can protect us, if we follow Him down the right path.

Yesterday was a win for our boys soccer team. They won not only because they scored more goals than their opponents but also because they didn’t let the other team bully them or get into their heads. They were physically and mentally strong. And most importantly, they showed pretty good sportsmanship – it wasn’t perfect, but really, none of us are. And us spectators had the opportunity to support the athletes of both teams in their successes and failures. It was a good game.

So let me encourage you today, princess, to be on guard and know when to run to the Refuge. Don’t let the devil get into your head. You got this. Play like you mean it.