Sunday, April 29, 2012
Sunday, April 22, 2012
- God created us.
- God loved us more than we can possibly imagine.
- We wanted to become our own authority, so we walked away from God.
- We screwed up.
- Having chosen imperfection, rebellion, and disease, we can never attain the perfect love of God.
- God has pursued us ever since the day we walked away.
- We really screwed up.
- Since we are now fatally flawed and completely incapable of restoring a relationship with God, he provided a way back.
- Jesus is God’s way back. Jesus came and earned what he did not need to attain (redemption and unity with God), and attained what he did not earn (death for our rebellion).
- Jesus demonstrated by his life of flawless obedience, his death for crimes he did not commit, and his resurrection from the dead, that he is indeed holy, God, and the world's way to restoration.
- Jesus freely gives what only he has earned to all who will accept.
- God re-creates us in Christ.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
This morning I woke up in a charming apartment in Savannah, Georgia. My husband, Jeff, and I met our daughter, Brittany, and son-in-law, Josh, for a little mini-vacation. As our kids were preparing for the day’s adventures and I was doing a quick check of my e-mail, Jeff took a book and went outside to read. The apartment we rented is on Crawford Square, one of the lovely community squares common in Historical Savannah, and Jeff chose a shaded bench to enjoy the cool morning.
As Jeff sat reading, he heard a distressed cry in the distance. The cries came closer, and soon he saw a young woman coming around the corner trying desperately to stop the horse that was pulling her carriage. Jeff said the poor woman was screaming, “Stop, Harrison! You have to stop!” but Harrison the horse seemed completely oblivious to her pleading and trotted along on his merry way.
Now you have to understand something about my husband. He grew up in the country and knows how to handle a horse. Needless to say, his cowboy instincts kicked in, and realizing the direction Harrison was taking the carriage, he ran into the street, grabbed the horse by the bridle, and using all his strength on this massive animal, was able to turn his head to the side until he came to a complete stop.
After taking a quick look at the horse, Jeff realized that, when hooking up his harness that morning, someone had failed to attach the horse’s reins to his bit. Harrison was simply following the route he was used to, oblivious to the fact that he was in any kind of danger by careening through the intersections on his way. He was having a good time, picking up speed, and since he never felt the familiar pull on his bit, he thought he was in good shape.
Needless to say, I was pretty impressed with my husband – as were Brittany and Josh. Had it been any of the three of us, the poor woman would have continued her wild ride through the streets of Savannah. This experience made me consider several things in my own life.
First of all, I’m very thankful that God has blessed each one of us with unique talents, and I hope I am as attentive and aware as Jeff was when the opportunity to use these gifts is presented.
Secondly, the woman whose rescue my husband came to was overwhelmingly relieved. However, as grateful as she was, she had nothing to offer my husband but a handshake of gratitude, and Jeff wouldn’t have accepted anything anyway. I have a Savior who has stepped in and saved me from certain destruction. He did this because he loves me, knowing I have nothing to offer in return.
Finally, the one in this story I most closely relate to is Harrison. There are so many times that I neglect getting properly “hooked up” to the One I count on to guide me. I careen through my life, oblivious to the very real dangers that I am unprepared to face alone. I am so thankful for those people and situations God puts in my path to help me realize how desperately I need that connection. Today my reminder came through a runaway horse . . . thank you, Harrison!
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Last year, I had the pleasure of attending my first Tenebrae service. Tenebrae is a service typically held on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. It's a dark service with mournful songs, readings, and the gradual extinction of candles as the betrayal and death of Christ is described. That is how the service ended – in darkness, in silence, in contemplation. There were no joyous songs of the resurrection; those would come on Easter Sunday. The service ended with the mournful sadness that was Friday.
In our Western culture, we're not very fond of pain and sadness. We have lots of medication specifically designed to fight those feelings. We like quick fixes as much as we like fast food. When someone is going through a very difficult time, they are told to accept that God has a plan (a not so subtle attempt to shut up their sadness). However, this Tenebrae service reminded me of the value of mourning.
You cannot appreciate the joy of Easter Sunday without the pain and sadness of Good Friday. The power is found in the juxtaposition of the two. If you really want to celebrate the resurrection, you must feel the sadness of the crucifixion. Sit there in the mourning, the shattered dreams, the brokenness. Dwell in the sadness. Remember that the disciples didn't know that Jesus was going to rise again on Sunday. Only then can you feel the joy that the disciples felt on Easter Sunday.
We live our lives in the period of Good Friday. We have pain and heartache and sadness. We have the hope that Sunday is coming. We know that one day God will make everything right. But we can't see it. For now, we still live in the brokenness. Let yourself feel the pain of Friday, and rest in the hope that Sunday is coming.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Living in Orlando has lots of perks, one of them being the fact that lots of people come to visit. We were told by many locals that people would be coming all the time to visit. I’ve heard that before living close to Chicago, living in Kansas City, and living at Andrews University, but nothing has really prepared me for how much people actually come to visit Orlando! I’ve probably seen more people in the last few months than ever came to visit me at any of the other places I’ve lived combined!
Lots of people come for the attractions. SeaWorld, Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens, and a host of others bring in loads of people, but the weather plays a big part of that as well. Sunny skies and ocean beaches are definitely inviting when you’ve been shoveling snow and fighting blizzards for the last few months.
Vacation. Whether it’s the attractions or the weather, family or friends, people come here to decompress, to vacation, and to experience something out of the ordinary. In pondering all the great people that I’ve seen and their reasons for visiting, I wondered, if my personality was a physical address, would I be a destination location?
It seems like a silly thought, but I think it’s one we should all ponder. Do our demeanors look like sunny beaches, or do they resemble cold and icy snow banks? Are we a reprieve for people, or do they need a vacation from our climate? Does our experience with Jesus offer something out of the ordinary?
The real estate mantra is “location, location, location.” So again I ask, if your personality were a physical address, would it be a desirable location? Would people come to visit? Would they leave refreshed? Would they want to come back?