“M” is For…

In an effort to be fully transparent, I must admit that I am struggling to find the words to share with you today.  I have been sitting with my computer for the last two hours, moving from location to location around my home, in hopes that a change of scenery will bring fresh inspiration to mind and breathe new life into my fingers.  Unfortunately, the only thing that the move from the couch to the table to the bed to the other table and back to the chair has brought me is more frustration and even less inspiration!

If you know me at all, you know the one thing I am never short on is words! However, there is a first for everything… I guess.  But, maybe today, instead of sharing with you a thousand or two, carefully crafted words of mine, maybe you are like me and maybe today, just one word will suffice.

It is more than just a word, it is a name. A name that carries with it so many meanings and personifies the words Love, Strength, Selflessness, Encouragement, Sacrifice, Giving, & Grace (to just name a few).  This name evokes deep emotions that sometimes words fail to sufficiently capture and sometimes the mere attempt is in vain.  This name has very few letters and is simple to say; yet, nothing about the responsibilities, privileges, joys or sorrows that come along with this title are easy.  The journey associated with this name carries with it volumes of sacred moments; Mt. Kilimanjaro highs and personal hell lows, that stir your soul, crush your heart, delight your mind, infuse your heart with an indescribable joy and will challenge you in ways that you could never imagine possible.

Have you been able to guess the one word…the name…the title…?

Today, that one special word for me is MOM.

I humbly come to you today with few words, no real wisdom or necessary life application.  Rather, I approach you today with a simple invitation and a very personal prayer request.  On January 26, 2014 at the young and vibrant age of 57, my Mom was diagnosed with one of the deadliest and most aggressive forms of brain cancer called a Glioblastoma brain tumor. Our world changed in an instant.  From the very beginning we had a choice; to live each day, fight like our lives depended on it (and they literally did) and not let “cancer” define our story or we could cower down in fear and merely just survive for whatever time remained.

As a family, we chose life in Christ.

We chose moments over minutes, we chose to live, not merely just survive.  We chose love over fear, purpose over pain.  We chose HOPE over despair and we chose to put our faith in the Lord, who is the Author and the Perfector of our life and faith.  We were not going to be defined by the medical statistics.  We were going to run the race set before us with HOPE, purpose and endurance.

Forty months later, by the miraculous healing and grace of our Lord and Savior, my Mom is still able to be my mom and Nannie to my two children.

In honor of Mother’s Day and National Brain Tumor Awareness Month, would you join me in praying for my Mom, Debbie, and all of the other mothers out there who are either personally battling brain cancer or who is caregiver to someone fighting this monster disease.  As a daughter, mother and caregiver myself, I can personally attest to the power and saving grace of prayer.  I cannot think of a better way to honor and celebrate the special women in your life this Mother’s Day than with a commitment to fervently lifting them up to our Lord in daily prayer.

Instead of spending dollars on the perfect store bought gift, spend your time creating moments with the women you love.  Rather than picking out the most eloquently written Hallmark card on the shelves, pick up a piece of paper and something to write with and pen the words of your own heart and echoes of your soul. Give the gift of prayer, time, encouragement, affirmation and love this month and make this Mother’s Day a treasured moment in your life legacy and those of the women you love.

LeRyiah Arant

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Does God’s Goodness Always Feel Good?

I want the goodness of God to always feel good, but is this realistic?

I want the goodness of God to always feel good, but is this realistic?

When loss is the uninvited guest of our home, we feel something about it. The loss seems to invite feelings of grief, mourning, aching that crush the core of the one living in the loss. It seems to be in these times we ache for answers to help us understand the purpose of the pain. “How can God be good when this is so painful?”, we say aloud or keep it tucked away in the secret parts of our heart so no one knows you are questioning the goodness of God.

God created us to have feelings and it doesn’t make us weak to express them. We hurt so we cry. We are excited so we laugh. We are happy so we smile. We are tired so we sleep (or are grumpy all day… if you’re anything like me). We are stressed so we drink wine. We lose a loved one so we grieve.

Yet when feelings become the dictator of our life, we can quickly lose heart. How do you respond when met with all of these feelings? Do you cast your cares on the Lord (Psalm 55:22 NIV)? Do you trust the Lord with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5 NIV)? Do you let God’s love drive out your fear (1 John 4:18)? How you respond in the face of your feelings can be the regluing or undoing of you.

God’s goodness does not always feel good. The book of Job clearly exposes this reality. I wonder how many people walk around feeling wounded by God because they have allowed their feelings to be the dictator of their life.

Ten years ago, I would have confidently exclaimed God’s goodness and it would have felt good to say. I would even provide you with evidence of his goodness in my life, but the reality is this evidence was based on circumstances that felt good. My feelings dictated my belief about God’s goodness.

On June 24, 2011, my feelings became the most unreliable source of truth for me. I was met with the devastation that would forever change how I did
life with the Lord. What appeared to be evidence of God’s abandonment was just the beginning of the stripping of a belief system that was faulty. He was soon going to cloth me with one that was true from the source of truth, my Jesus.

God’s goodness has not always felt good but, I can firmly say, He has always worked the pain for my good. It has been the saving of my soul that has been worth it all. With an aching in my gut and a tears welling in my eyes, I can testify that He has been worth it. It’s been through the tragedies- that resulted from June 24- I have been gifted with some of the most intimate times with God, in turn deepening my faith.

Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV) This Scripture does not say, “And we know that all things are good for us.” We can trust that He is going to work all things for our good even when it is not good for us.

Death is not good for us! Dear one, if death was good for us there would be no need for Jesus to come and die and be resurrected to save us from death. He died on that cross because death is not good for us. Death is terrible and excruciatingly painful and not what God intended when he created this world (Genesis 1-3 NIV). If you are walking the road of losing a loved one, lean into Jesus. He knows this is not what is good for you but he will work it for your good. Abide in Him and you will produce lasting fruit and much of it, even though you feel as if you might die from grief (John 15).

If you are walking alongside someone who is grieving, will you share this truth with them? This may be the breath of fresh air they are longing for. This may be their break from the idealism of the well meaning that is suffocating them. They just may need someone to come and sit with them and say, “this is terrible”. Your friend can be in excruciating pain and still trust God is going to work this out for her good. I’m so grateful for the testimony of Katherine and Jay Wolf in their book Hope Heals,

No amount of catharsis or perspective finding will change the fact that our situation is terribly sad and deeply broken. I can give God the glory, and it can still hurt. I used to cry myself to sleep every night. But I have learned, above all other lessons, that healing for each person is spiritual.
We will be fully restored in heaven, but we are actually healed on earth right now. My experience has caused me to redefine healing and to discover a hope that heals the most broken places: our souls (page 18).

Are you struggling because you desperately want God’s goodness to always feel good?

I did too.

It feels like a crushing blow when this truth is met with your inescapable reality that life- no matter how many years pass, new life that grows, exciting experiences that arise- is now filtered through the lens of loss. But this is where hope comes in, dear one. We can look forward with the hope that someday God’s goodness will always feel good because all will be made right (Revelation 21 NIV). As you wait expectantly for that day, you can experience healing of the most broken place right now: your soul.

Maria Bowersock

If this post resonated with you, journey over to Newness through the Pain.

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For the Record, Please Include an Upbeat Hymn

I have never been involved in a group-funeral-planning-session with the person whose funeral was being planned. Until that day.

I have never been involved in a group-funeral-planning-session with the person whose funeral was being planned. Until that day.

There I was, seated in a cozy living room…the kind of room where you actually have uninterrupted visits and maybe even engage in profound conversations of life-changing proportions, because there is no television to act as the central attraction, or to detract from what the actual central feature should be in living rooms: people.

I listened mostly, because that is my nature. When it comes to spoken conversation, I have always taken time to process the previous dialogue and reply with measured responses. And this was one of those days when more listening than talking on my part seemed appropriate.

Questions were asked about what main message she wanted preached, which scriptures she wanted shared, and which songs she desired to be sung.

“She” was my aunt. A woman dearly loved by her family and friends. A woman who was admired and adored by all she encountered.

She was clear about wanting the message of having a relationship with Jesus Christ and allowing God to be in charge of judging others, not us, to be at the core of the pastor’s sermon. The scripture she chose coordinated with that message well. And after the funeral, there was agreement that her wishes had been carried out in a way that honored the life she lived and her God.

The music she chose was comforting and touching. During the planning, a question of whether one of the songs was too upbeat was voiced. She is the one who raised that question if I remember correctly. The consensus was that a funeral of someone who served God and was looking forward to spending eternity with Him is a perfect setting for a triumphant, upbeat song to be sung.

I know that expected funeral decorum is that of reverence and respect, but I believe funerals are an opportune time for reminding the living of what our eternal future holds as well. If we accept Jesus’ offer of forgiveness and relationship, our eternal future will certainly be a place of victory and celebration. Upbeat songs work well in that capacity.

I have a God who loves me beyond description in spite of my doubts, my sin, and my anxiety problem that turns me into a complete mess from time to time. He loves you beyond description too. He sees the potential in us. He placed it there. When we accept Him as our savior, new life in us begins, because His love compels us to want to become more like Him. When my time here is nearing an end, if I am able to be a part of planning the funeral, that is the message I will want communicated to those who gather to remember me. My aunt felt this message was something to sing about. I wholeheartedly agree.

For the record, please include an upbeat song at my funeral.

Gwen Thielges

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Ready For Some Character Development?

Who is building my character?

Have you ever become interested in a television series after it has already aired for a season or two? And have you then gone back to see the earlier seasons and noticed how different some of the characters seem?

I recently stumbled on an old episode of the television series J.A.G. which originally introduced the NCIS character Abby.  I mention this because I was fascinated to see how much Abby has changed since this introductory episode.  Even if you are not a fan of the show, hang in here with me for a few minutes.

In this original episode she is almost normal, leaning towards Goth, fairly calm, happy, savvy, and sarcastic. She dresses in dark clothes, wears a large necklace, and listens to music while working in her lab. In current episodes of NCIS, Abby is Goth, hyperactive, happy, gullible, and trusts virtually no one outside the immediate team. She dresses primarily in black, wears a spiked dog collar and bracelet, and listens to extremely loud heavy metal music.

What happened? Character development. The scriptwriters wanted to more clearly define this character, so over time Abby changed. Episode by episode, season by season, the actress, the writers, and the directors built her character.

It makes me wonder –

Am I any different today than I was two years ago?

Who is building my character?

2 Peter 1:5-8  is all about character building. “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”   When I look back even a few months I can see the difference in myself.  Day by day, step by step, season by season, I am making every effort to allow the Lord to use His Word and the situations in my life to change and build my character.

Pauly Perrette, the actress playing Abby, could have resisted efforts to change her character and remained the cute but rather dull person in that original episode.  But instead she embraced the challenges of each new script and quickly became a pillar of the show.

I do not want to resist the work God is trying to do on my character. I don’t want to stay the same, I long to grow! I want to be more knowledgeable, more persevering, more loving today than I was yesterday. And it will take new situations and trials to bring that out in me. As well as time spent in His Word. So I choose to embrace the challenge.

What about you? Care to join me in some productive character development?

Shellynne Wucher

Read more from Shellynne at: light4mysteps.wordpress.com

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5 Ways to Wreck Fear

Fear has left its mark on me.

Fear has left its mark on me.

It was how I did life. Most of my decisions were based on fear—not fear of God— but fear of everything. Will anyone be upset if I do this? Will so-and-so be mad at me if I do that? What will my neighbors/friends/relatives think if I do this? Worse yet, what will THEY think? THEY is a very powerful group. THEY have been making life miserable for the rest of us for many years. We need to vote THEY out of power. Why? Because THEY will  keep us from following HIM.

Peter did it.

He finally beat THEY and took back his power.

I’ve been thinking about Peter.

How did he go from a three-Pete denier to the man who stood and preached like his heart was a-fire? Poured-out, filled-up, all-in man of God. I want that.

Let’s look at what happened to Peter in the book of Acts.

Jesus and Peter are having a conversation. Peter declares he is ready to go the mat for Jesus, but Jesus knows better.

31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me. […]

58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly. Luke 22

Peter was all talk and no walk. He couldn’t deliver. I have been Peter—fired up at the conference and fast burn on the drive home. But, Peter changed.

How did it happen? How did God wreck fear?

Let’s look at God’s Peter Transformation Plan: From Fearful to Fearless

  1. Spend time weeping. Go back and read Acts 3:62. Just admit it and be done with it. Tell God you have failed, and you need Him to break your heart and put it back together again so it beats only for Him. Ask Him to do whatever it takes so you will fear only Him.
  2. Spend time with Jesus. A lot of time. Peter spent 3 years doing daily life with Jesus. How many hours do we spend each day with Jesus? Perhaps the more accurate question is, How many minutes do we spend each day with Jesus?  If you are serious about change, you’ll be spending serious time with Jesus. Luke 5:11
  3. Spend time in prayer. In the time between the Ascension and Pentecost, Peter and the rest of Jesus’ disciples spent their time in the Upper Room in prayer. God used extended prayer to change Peter’s heart. Acts 1:14, Acts 4:31
  4. Spend time in fellowship.  Peter did not become fearless by hunkering down by himself in his house.  Effective outspoken Christians are not loners. We need others to encourage, confront and hold us accountable as we walk with Jesus. Acts 1:14, Acts 4:31
  5. Spend time in Scripture. Start at Acts 2:14 and read Peter’s speech to the crowd. How did he know what to say? Hours in the word of God. An Acts 2:14 kind of witness requires time, effort, perseverance and faith.

I have added one more element to this list: fasting. For this Lenten season, I have given up my favorite: Jason’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. Yep. It hurts. But God honors my sacrifice. By the way, I don’t expect to not ever feel fear again. I want to act in faith despite the fear. That’s what I’m talking about.

There we have it. The perfect recipe to wreck fear: prayer, repentance, scripture, fellowship and Jesus. Join me on this journey to wreck fear. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Leave me a comment on our Facebook page about your journey of faith. I’d love to chat with you.

Mary Kane

Read more from Mary at: onlybyprayer.com

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Start Living For God Today

We should stop pretending to love Jesus while inwardly craving other desires.

If God really is who He says He is and heaven and hell actually exist, would you live any differently? Would any of your priorities get rearranged? Would you start seeing this world from a different lens? Would you tell others about Jesus…instead of hemming and hawing around? I often contemplate such questions as I struggle to pull myself from my comfortable, safe, little world.

We should stop pretending to love Jesus while inwardly craving other desires.

Religion apart from God is dead; it is merely an effort to clean our outer shell. Possibly without realization, we are trying to make ourselves look good and fit in with the crowd. Possibly without personal reckoning, we are hoping to feel good about who we are.

God sees through the superfluous and cuts right through to our heart. He is not concerned about fancy new toys or the Who’s Who List of your city.

God is after you.

During the time of Jesus, there were some superficial believers…their names are the Pharisees and Sadducees. They spent their time combating Jesus and playing games as “Goody Two Shoers.” They thought they had all the right answers, convincingly laying down arguments. Jesus sees right through their camaraderie and points out their issue with pride.

This sect of the Jews seemingly were seeking after God, but in reality were self-seeking. They didn’t see their problem with sin, and likewise, didn’t admit their need for a Savior. They thought they knew God because they could rattle off facts. They were full to the brim with head knowledge. We must be careful not to fall

We must be careful not to fall into the same trap…God wants to transform us completely.

A stern warning is given to those who dilly-dally with God. Those who talk the talk, but don’t come close to walking the walk. Those who say they love God, but their lives don’t come close to showing it. In Isaiah 29:13, God says, “This people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me.”

Church, I think it is time for us to stop pretending.

And church, I think it is time for us to really know God.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

Abraham was “fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” Romans 4:21

To live a surrendered life requires obedience.

To live by faith and fixate our eyes on the heavenly realm requires prayer.  To live this way, I must ___________________________ (fill in the blank). Ask yourself, are you willing to pray, “Father, glorify your name” (John 12:28)?

Start afresh today by making your relationship with God your top priority. Place Him at the center of your life. Honor Him in all that you do. Allow Him to mold and shape you. Living for God means putting ourselves in the passenger seat and allowing God full access to our lives.

Sue Allen

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Pondering before Expressing: “Cross-Trained” before Cultured Trained

Jesus' death requires a personal response and there has to be depth beyond social media.

If you visit social media any time soon, you will be met with scenes of the cross, memes of Jesus’ death on that cross, Scripture verses, church sermons and more … I’m thankful for these times I can log on to social media to be met with posts filled up with Truth, aren’t you?

“He died.” This reality of Jesus’ death as a human being keeps playing in my mind. It is a thought I can not seem to pause so instead I continue to ponder. My pondering leads me down a road of personal experiences with death and how instinctive it is to grieve when death becomes the face of someone we love.

Though everyone grieves differently there seems to be some components of it we all share; the taunting and gut wrenching agony of losing the one we loved, the haunting darkness that encompasses that season of life, the knowing the trajectory of our life will never be what it once was. We grieve in this way because we loved them deeply. This type of grief naturally causes the grieving one to ponder up, in their hearts, the significance of that relationship.

Jesus was a human being, a person. We often talk on his love for us and our love for him. Have we pondered up, in our hearts, his death? “Jesus died on the cross to take away the sins of this world” is a truth painted all throughout the Gospels, but do we feel something about it? His death requires a personal response and there has to be depth beyond social media.

Our intimacy with our Savior has to be more than a Facebook status producing a number of “likes”. This man is the Savior and a relationship with him has to pierce our souls to produce everlasting fruit (John 15). It is like being handed a glass of water when you are parched. Instead of taking the water and gulping it down to quench your thirst, you instead walk around showing everyone you have a glass of water. All the while people are looking at you curious and confused, wondering why on earth you aren’t drinking it then!

Our souls are parched and the quenching happens when this grand narrative of Scripture makes a personal collide with our souls. How is this collide going to start kicking up some dust if we are not taking back our right to ponder things up in our hearts before we express them over social media? Furthermore, how do we even know what to express before we have pondered?

Christians dont worship the Bible by any means, but we believe there is tremendous power in it. We believe it is the revelation of God. We read the Bible because we need an encounter with God; we need to hear His words. These days we are always reading words-scrolling Twitter, reading emails, text messages, and the pretty Instagram quotes. We want quick inspiration. Reading Scripture, however, is slower, quieter work. It takes time, patience, and attention, but if were looking to nourish our souls, nothing can compete with it. (Melissa Moore, Entrusted Bible Study by Beth Moore)

If you don’t mind, I’d like to leave you with a charge. Pondering up Scripture is your right, privilege and responsibility as a Christian. You are entrusted with this right to ponder up Jesus’ death on the cross and I can’t help but ask, have you?

I’m going to borrow a term Beth Moore likes to use here  and that’s being “cross-trained”. As Christians, we have to be cross-trained every time we are culture trained. Culture is training us up to share our thoughts long before we have pondered them up, so what does “cross-training” look like for you this Easter season?

Ponder: to weigh in the mind :  appraise. pondered their chances of success, to think about :  reflect on pondered the events of the day, to think or consider especially quietly, soberly, and deeply

 

pondering with you,

Maria Bowersock

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Waiting in Harmony

f there is one thing we all have in common, it’s that we hate waiting. We despise it. In our fast-paced digital world, waiting is a monotonous waste of time.

If there is one thing we all have in common, it’s that we hate waiting. We despise it. In our fast-paced digital world, waiting is a monotonous waste of time.

And yet right before Jesus ascended to heaven, He told the disciples to stay in town and wait on the Holy Spirit. (See Luke 24:49.) He didn’t tell them exactly where to stay, how long they would be there, or what they should do with their time. Nor did He explain what it would be like when the Holy Spirit came.

He just told them to wait. And then He left His followers behind.

The Waiting

Fifty days. That’s the amount of time between Acts 1 and Acts 2. It doesn’t seem like a long time, but it must have felt like forever to the 120 people who put their lives on hold to wait for the Holy Spirit.

But they didn’t wait passively. During those seven weeks, they

  • prayed continuously
  • ministered to one another
  • shared what they had with those in need
  • loved and prayed for one another
  • told stories of Jesus’ life
  • mourned Jesus’ death and
  • celebrated Jesus’ resurrection.

The Harmony

“These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer…” (Acts 1:14 NAS). The KJV states, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication….”

That’s 120 people repeatedly gathering in one room for 50 days. Not fighting. Not panicking. Not seeking their own interests.

They were waiting in “one accord.” The Greek word for this phrase means “with one mind, one accord, one passion.” The expression combines two thoughts, “to rush along” and “in unison.” This creates a musical image, reminding us that a number of different notes must be combined to create a unique harmony.

All of Jesus’ followers were regular people. They had their own backgrounds, emotions, and beliefs about what God was doing. They didn’t check their individuality at the door when they walked into the upper room. But through prayer, they surrendered their own desires and wills to that of Jesus. As they submitted to Him, they were able to live and worship together, in true harmony.

The Results

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1 KJV).

When the big day came….when God showed up in full force…when thousands were gathered together outside… Jesus’ followers were ready! Because a small group of believers chose to be obedient and wait on the Lord, three thousand people were saved that day. And thus the gospel began to spread across the world.

Our Turn

As Christians, we still wait on the Lord. Individually, we wait for Him to give us guidance, for healing, and for loved ones to be saved. As a Church body, we wait for fresh movements, revival, and for the second coming of our King.

The great news is that we now have the unlimited power of the Holy Spirit within us! If we will allow Him to move in our lives and within the Church, He will direct us to Jesus—with one mind, in one accord, and in complete harmony.

If 120 people could start the Christian movement, imagine what the Church can do today!

Holy Spirit, help us to focus on Jesus. As we set our sights on Him, help us to live in harmony with You and with one another.

Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

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A Great Resource

If this topic interests you, I highly recommend the The Centurion’s Wife. This is an excellent fiction book set within the fifty days that occurred between Jesus’ resurrection and the day of Pentecost. It’s the first in the Acts of Faith series by Janette Oke and Davis Bunn.

Making Monday Matter

After all the holiday traditions and celebrations have ceased, will the Resurrection continue into the “Monday after” or will it be put up on the Easter shelf in the attic to collect dust until next year?

Over the last 40 days leading up to Easter, we journeyed and labored towards the Cross with Jesus, looking deep within the dark caverns of our soul, begging the Lord to painstakingly search us for every sin stained thought, word and action; constantly reminding ourselves of our desperate need for a Savior. The emotional rollercoaster of Lent prepared our hearts and minds for the spiritual high and victorious triumph that we would finally experience on Easter Sunday when Jesus would conquer sin and death for good! Truly, it is FINISHED!

Hard to beat that kind of emotional experience, right?

Now that the sun has set on Easter Sunday, what will Monday morning bring?

All the Easter eggs have been colored, Easter baskets have been emptied, the egg hunts have ended, the loot has been counted and the candy comas have ensued; while the last of the Easter grass has been swept up and thrown away.  After all the holiday traditions and celebrations have ceased, will the Resurrection continue into the “Monday after” or will it be put up on the Easter shelf in the attic to collect dust until next year?

In our world today, it seems like we can talk about catastrophes and atrocities for hours on end, we can debate politics and slander leaders for countless hours on our Facebook feeds and we can celebrate our national championships with fist bumps and victory dances all day long, without tiring.  But, when it comes to the Easter miracle that would literally save humanity from eternal damnation, we are quick to put the conversation to bed after the last Peep has been enjoyed.

As Believers in Christ’s death and resurrection, “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you”(Romans 8:11, NIV). I don’t know about you but I think that is definitely something to celebrate and continue the conversation about! We idolize celebrities and professional athletes for their “super power” capabilities yet we forget and all too often marginalize the fact that we have the gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us and that the living Christ has infused us with the same Resurrection power that emptied the tomb on Easter Sunday! I’m not sure there are enough “hearts,” emoticons, “likes,” tweets or shares to do this truth justice.

In 1 Peter it is written, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the death, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5, NIV).

We have the responsibility as Christ’s church to go far beyond confessing with our mouths that we believe.  It is not enough to give the saving power, transformative nature and hope of the Gospel, lip service.  As followers and ambassadors of Jesus Christ, we are required to put feet to our faith and live in the fullness of Christ’s resurrection!

Resurrection, Rebirth, Rejuvenation, Restoration, Transformation, HOPE!

These words are not limited to Lent and Easter Sunday.  These themes should penetrate every fabric of our being, they should flood every circumstance we face and should determine every decision we have to make.

Christ’s victory on Easter Sunday does NOT end at sunset on Sunday.  Jesus defeated death! Jesus conquered the grave!  Forever. Period. Amen!

We cannot crawl back into our own tombs; enslaved by fear, shackled to complacency and married to the bondage of this world! We serve a living God who has called us to be vessels of a LIVING HOPE, conduits to a broken world who so desperately needs to know of our LIVING SAVIOR whose body was broken on a rugged cross, whose precious blood was shed to cover all of our sins, past, present and future, who breathed his last to unlock our tombs that would allow us to live freely and fearlessly as a result of his resurrection power over eternal death.

Jesus’ last breath on the cross was our first breath into a newly resurrected life in Christ.

So, how can we make Monday matter?

My prayer for you and for me as we begin our post Easter journeys on this Monday morning.

“Heavenly Father, keep the precious blood of your son’s broken body on the cross, fresh in our minds and raw on our hearts; allowing it to permeate into every part of our lives and to drench our souls.  Lord, help us to fully embrace our newly resurrected lives in Christ and make us bold ambassadors of the Gospel, in thought, word and deed.  Precious Jesus, strengthen us with your resurrection power, use our lives for Kingdom work and let our callings be fresh and our purposes be renewed with each new breath.  We pray Father that our Lenten transformations will take flight beyond the temporary of this world.  We pray that our hearts will remain on fire for you and that we will share the Good News with all that we come in contact with and set their souls ablaze for you and your Kingdom. 

Risen Jesus, wake us up!  Do not allow Monday to lull our spirits to sleep! Keep us alert, refresh our weary souls with your living Word and infuse our spirits with the power of your resurrection so we can minister to those in this world who desperately need to experience reconciliation and resurrection.  Father, we are called to take up our cross daily and by dying to self, we will gain our lives in You.  Please give us more of you and less of ourselves.  Help us live in reckless obedience to our Father in Heaven and live a fully reconciled and resurrected life in submission to your Son Jesus.  Make our next steps be all about you Jesus and your Father’s Kingdom work. 

Help us make Monday matter.

Precious blood of Jesus, continue to crucify our sinful nature so we may live cruciformed in your name each and every day.  Saturate our days with Resurrection and show us how to take Easter off of the attic shelf and incorporate its TRUTH into the very air we breathe.  We love you Jesus, we thank you for saving our wretched, unworthy souls and covering us in your grace and showering us with your unending mercies.  It is in your Son’s most precious name Jesus, we pray”

AMEN.

LeRyiah Arant

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Does the Resurrection really matter?

Does the resurrection really matter?

Trust me, this isn’t a lecture about why you should attend church on Easter Sunday or why you should attend church the other 51 days during the year.

The question is: why does the resurrection matter in your regular life? Does it make any difference in your every day, drag-yourself-to-work kind of day that involves paying bills, eating, fighting colds, and visiting the in-laws?

This is the question that will change the destiny of your life, in the temporal sense, as well as the eternal. So let’s get the eternal out of the way right now. That’s easy. Easter is coming, and you’ve got eggs to dye and bunny cookies to make.

The discussion of the resurrection begins with the person who marks the end of B.C. (“before Christ”) and the onset of A.D. Anno Domini (“in the year of our Lord”).

History itself revolves around Jesus, the only human to cheat death of his own free will and power. This is the resurrection everyone must confront at some point in his life–the historical data that there lived a perfect man (who was God’s Son), who died and raised himself to life and returned to heaven.

Mohammed, Ghandi, Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul III, Martin Luther, and Martin Luther King Jr. were all spiritual leaders. But they are all dead. They have tombs where their bodies are rotting, and they have remained powerless to stop the process. Jesus’ tomb, however, sits empty. His resurrection power gives resurrection power to everything else in my life (yes, even in my normal non-Easter life).

Belief in Jesus’ resurrection spearheads all other possible resurrections in our temporal life. You do believe in those, even if you don’t believe in Him. Let me explain.

The sun comes up every morning, inspiring us to productivity, yet sets every night, under the equally important light of the moon, which ushers rest into our hurried lives. We couldn’t stop the power of our solar system, even if we tried. We count on it.

Seeds die so new life can grow. Each spring, flowers burst forth anew, trees re-bud and bear fruit, year after year. The food cycle continues, the animal kingdom functions, all in tandem, all in natural rejuvenation. Nature renews itself without our help.

In every family, the elderly pass away, and the young bring new babies into the world, all pink and innocent and full of wonder. Incredibly, new life follows on the heels of death.

Tragedy brings tears, yet laughter brings joy; even midst heartache, a laugh or a smile can chase away pain. How does this phenomenon work?

And let’s not forget the resurrection of the human spirit–the daring challenge of starting over when all seems lost:  the battered wife who breaks free, the broken marriage that repairs itself, the addict who accepts accountability, the slave who escapes, the abused who disarms the power of the abuser. These are resurrections, and they are the resurrections that defeat God’s enemy, just as His resurrection defeated his enemy 2,000 years ago.

A lifestyle of resurrection chooses change when the status quo would be easier. It believes in the unexplainable without embarrassment because it has lived the transformation. It gives when it feels empty. It loves when it feels hated. It confesses when it sins. It believes when life seems hopeless.

This is the power of the resurrection, every day, from now till eternity. And then it begins again.

John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'”

Sue Schlesman

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