For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. —Romans 15:4

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Fear is a Liar!

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:13:
For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

I stood on the platform wearing a harness attached to a long, heavy cord. All I had to do was step off, and fly through the air. Across the lake, my daughter, Hannah, and husband, Tim, waited for me to glide across the zip line and meet them on the other side. I'd cheered Tim on as he took the trip just moments before. But for some reason I couldn't take the leap. It wasn't like I'd never zipped. I'd taken this same line a year or so before. And I loved it. But this time, instead of embracing the excitement, fear gripped me. My anxiety peaked. I couldn't let go. Much to my disappointment, Hannah's friend and co-worker, Rachel, had to help me out of the harness. I climbed down the steps and trudged around the lake to meet my family.

I'd been defeated by fear, one of the most frustrating feelings in the world. Sad thing is, the fear wasn't real. I'd ridden the zip line before and had no problems at all. How many times do we create fear in our minds. When this happens the story gets bigger and bigger. Most of the time the very thing we fear is never realized. Have you heard the song Fear is a Liar? How the liar wants to stop us from moving forward. He wants us to doubt God. He wants us to be paralyzed in our tracks unable to follow God's lead. But guess what! God doesn't want to let that happen. If we turn our fears over to him through prayer, he will walk us through every single fear.

I flew to Hannah's last month and yes, I had some fear. Not so much of the flight itself, but more the whole layover, getting on a different plane idea. My fear came to fruition, I missed my flight from Philly to Greenville, through no fault of my own. I admit, I panicked, cried and wanted to crumple. But guess what. God had my hand. He led me to a lovely young lady who got me on another flight and even gave me a much needed hug.
God knew my fear and he lifted me up. Whatever you're afraid of, turn it over to God. He's just waiting for you to ask.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Can We Have a Happy Place?

Job 12:7-10
"But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
    or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
    or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
    that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
    and the breath of all mankind."

When was the last time you...
  • stopped to watch a monarch sip nectar from an azalea? 
  • spotted a yellow finch twitter about the purple thistle as it seeks out food? 
  • dipped your toes into the waves that carry in shells and sand?
  • rested in the shade of the maple or oak and enjoyed the comfort of the breeze?
  • gazed at the stars as they twinkled in the sky?
  • listened to the robin trill his song?

Every walk in the woods, hike up a trail, and visit to a beach shows me Jehovah— God the Creator of all things. Even the television shows and books that explain "how things work" in nature amaze and humble me before God.

Why? Because nature is my "happy place." Please don't take the term "happy place" lightly. In all serious, I love that I have a relationship with God that's enriched by his creation. A place where I commune with my Lord and Savior without the noise of this crazy world. The natural world he made with his hands reminds me of God's wisdom, and grace, but most of all his love.

Maybe your personal bond with God comes through music, or working outside. Maybe it's writing or playing with children. Maybe you sit in a quiet place and reflect. If you haven't found your connection, begin with prayer. Talk to God—ask him to show you your place of peace and joy. Read the Bible. Seek out God's wisdom in his word.
God created each of us to be in relationship with him. Because he loves us.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Alive? What Do You Mean He's Alive?

Luke 24:1-6
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.  

They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! 

In mid-March, South Carolina beckoned me. I flew down to spend a few days with my youngest daughter. I left gray skies and the possibility of snow in Ohio. On Monday, Hannah and I headed to Falls Park. I love standing on Liberty Bridge that overlooks the Reedy River and waterfall, the centerpiece of the park. Along the walkways, tulips and pansies blew in the breeze. Redbuds bloomed and the grass had greened up. New LIFE surrounded us. And I loved it! There's something about the freshness of spring that reminds me of the new life I have in Jesus.

Early in the morning—on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and her friends walked to Jesus' tomb. She expected to find his body there. Instead she found hope. Amazing, refreshing, exciting new hope! I can't begin to imagine how Mary's mind must have reeled. "Alive? What do you mean he's alive?" She had to have asked. Two men in gleaming clothing stood before her and told her, "He is not here; he has risen!"

Just as Jesus said he would.

He died for our sins. God brought him back to life...for us! Yes-for all of us! Jesus loves us so much more than we can fathom.

On this Easter, thank God for his son and the beautiful grace covered path he paved for us to heaven.

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” John 20:18

Saturday, March 24, 2018

He Breathed His Last Breath

Luke 23:44-46
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

My daughter and I drove to Sullivan's Island to visit the ocean. Being from Ohio, I don't get to listen to the crashing waves and feel the wind off the water often. When we arrived we set up our spot on the sand then walked toward the salty water. Along the way, we spotted a sandy graveyard of jellyfish. They rested all along one area of the beach. I researched later and found out this phenomenon tends to happen in the spring when the cold waves roll in. A natural process for the sea.

After Jesus dragged his cross to the top of the hill, the soldiers nailed his hands and feet to the wood, then dropped the cross into a hole in the ground. With a thud, they planted him there. With a thief on either side, Jesus waited to die. Unlike the jellyfish, this was not a natural process. He was murdered by the people who despised him. Sad as he was about it, he knew his Father's plan for his life and understood his place in the story of salvation. After humiliation, frustration, and pain, Jesus committed his spirit to God and breathed his last breath. He knew his role, he knew the sacrifice involved. Jesus died because he loves us. He died to set us free.
Isaiah 53:5
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Friday, March 16, 2018

For Us

John 19:16-17
Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).

In southern Ohio, we've had a taste of winter again before it blows out of here and welcomes spring. A few snow flurries sticking to the trees, then gone with the wind. Temperatures that dip enough to drag out the heavy coat, one more time. But we know at the end of this cold, grey season—spring arrives with color, brightness and hope. I love winter, but by this time in the season, I look forward to spring and the beauty that blooms and flutters.

With the thoughts of new life, I've been pondering the new life Jesus gives. But like winter, there was a dark time before the light. Jesus, accused of wrong doing, took up his cross and dragged it through the streets to the place where he knew he would die. The accusations flung at Jesus were false, yet he carried his cross. Literally, as he bled from a flogging, he carried his cross. Along with the heavy wooden burden, he carried our sins. Yours and mine. He carried the cross for us. Not for himself. He had no sin. But we do, and he understood he'd be the one sacrificed for us.

For us.

And that's just the beginning of the Easter story. Jesus sacrifice and pain.

For us.

How could he love us so much? I have a hard time comprehending his love. But Jesus does love us, enough to suffer this world, then die in our place. Praise God for his obedient and compassionate son.
Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth;he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.