Tag Archives: salvation

Intentional May – Connecting May Flowers to the Bible, Week 3

 

Connecting May Flowers to the Bible

In May, I am picking a relevant scripture each week to focus on. My conversations with my kids will be about the verses, and bonus! – I’ve picked a craft to help us (and you!) talk through spiritual things.

Don’t forget – you’re the primary influencer in your kids’ lives, so be intentional about sharing God’s truths with them! I’d love to hear if you have success with these. Share in the comments!

Week 3

This week the craft is the life cycle of a flower. We created the life cycle below (inspired by this post). The kids get to be hands on with this one!

Flower Life Cycle

  1. glue seeds (I used watermelon seeds from my garden stash.
  2. Brown paint for dirt
  3. Use a cotton ball for a cloud (which will bring the rain)
  4. blue paint fingerprinted on for rain
  5. sun picture to glue or draw – we used a yellow pom pom and colored the rays
  6. picture or drawing of flower – we had some real flowers from her recital that were dry and a flower stamp.

The important point I will make is that for there to be seeds, the flower has to die. Living things have an ending. People also have an eternal ending unless we trust Jesus as our Savior. God doesn’t end, and our verse teaches that neither does His word!

The Bible verse this week is

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever. Isaiah 40:8, NIV

 

Getting the Zing Back in Your Relationship with Christ

You know, this thing happens when you’ve been a follower of Christ for awhile. The ZING from salvation feels like it’s wearing off (sort of being choked out by the weeds – Mark 4).

So how do we return to desiring God? How do we reset our focus back to our first love?

There are many answers to that question, but I noticed one while reading Mark 5.

In this chapter, there is a man who is so possessed by demons that he cannot even be chained up (or he will rip through the chains). So the people just cast him out to some desolate land where he can live like only a crazy man can.

Until Jesus. The God Man gets out of a boat on His way to more healing and preaching.

And it says this demon possessed man “when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him” (v. 6).

Watch what he said:

 “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!”

He:

  1. Recognized Jesus’ deity.
  2. Pled for mercy.
  3. Asked what he was called to do.

Now, there are three big lessons right there!!!

But on the story goes – the demons are released from the man, and he goes to town where everyone is in awe of the change in his life.

As Jesus is leaving the town, the man begs to go with him. But Jesus has plans for Him to go tell his story instead (Mark 5:18-20).

The way Jesus wanted this man to serve was by sharing the testimony – his encounter with Christ! That’s the zing we’ve lost, ol’ believer.

Relive that moment. Relive it yourself and praise the Lord. Relive it with your friends and family members. Remember it like you would a joyous wedding or birth. Because it is a new birth.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)

Hallelujah!

How God Sees My Ugly

Today I put on a wrinkly shirt.

You see, my maternity clothes were all stored in Space Bags – you know, those gigantic ziploc bags with a hole for your vacuum cleaner? If you have kids, you must get these for storing clothes and soft kids’ things. I also keep comforters and … old maternity clothes in them!

Now that I actually need to wear the beloved collection (90% of which came from craigslist – woohoo!), I realized that I just hung everything up from the Space Bags and never thought twice about it. Most clothes are polyester blends so wrinkling isn’t an issue.

But oh T-shirts.

Now, I did notice that the shirt was wrinkled before I put it on today, but I just shrugged it off because I was working from home and wearing my maternity favorite – a TRACK SUIT! (Hit the Facebook Like button at the bottom of this post if you LOVE track suits like I do!)

But I’ve seen my babysitter, who had a former career at Talbots and always looks impeccable; a cabinet man; a counter man; my husband (poor guy!); and friends in our community group.

All in my wrinkly shirt.

Oh… maybe I forgot to mention that the wrinkles are those deep kind and they are all over this T-shirt! Even where my track suit is not zipped!

Sheesh! I look like I just rolled out of bed. I get a pass because I’m pregnant, right?

(And did I bother changing clothes? No….. 🙂 )

I had a contemplative moment today when I realized how many people were witnessing my wrinkly shirt – this wrinkled mess is really much better and much more beautiful than how I look on the inside sometimes. Most times.

Maybe some of the witnesses saw my wrinkly shirt and didn’t think twice about it; maybe they thought, “Poor thing -she’s really losing it!”

But not my God.

The Bible says that when God looks at me, He doesn’t see the wrinkled, disheveled mess that I am. Because of His pursuit of me and His sacrifice on the cross, God only sees the perfection of Jesus.

We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to be proud of us, so that you may be able to answer those who take pride in outward appearance and not in what is in the heart. For if we are out of our minds, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, since we have concluded this, that Christ died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised. So then from now on we acknowledge no one from an outward human point of view. Even though we have known Christ from such a human point of view,  now we do not know him in that way any longer. So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away– look, what is new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:12-17, NETBible, bolding mine)

The word “look” at the end there is also translated as “behold” – It’s like saying Who cares about that old wrinkly, disheveled inside – LOOK AT THE GLORY OF JESUS!
Friend, stop trying to cover up the ugly inside with beauty outside! When you embrace Jesus as the leader of your life, you are not only nice to look at – you are breathtaking.
How does it help you to have a glimpse of God’s view of you through Jesus? Who is in your life that needs to hear this message? Notice that this passage continues to say that God saved us through Jesus so that we can share this salvation with others! Read it here: 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

Is Good Friday Really Good?

It’s hard for me to think of this as “Good Friday.” Really? I’m supposed to think of the day that my Lord, the one and only 100% man/100% God, was tortured and killed as “good”?

Yes – because Good Friday (also called Holy Friday and Great Friday) is not just about Friday. It’s good because of the passion of Christ on Friday, followed by the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday.

Soak in this today:

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Hebrews 1:3, NIV)

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—  and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:14-18, NIV)

“The radiance of God’s glory.” “The exact representation of his being.” Make no mistake about it, friends. Jesus is fully God.

“Fully human in every way.” Make no mistake about this, too. Jesus is fully man.

You see, when I picture it in my mind, Good Friday is about death. The death of Jesus. The passion of Jesus. But that’s a very limited and earthly view of Good Friday. As we see above, Good Friday is about “purification for sins”, “break[ing] the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil”, “free[ing] those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death”, and making “atonement for the sins of the people.”

We are, in our very essence, broken. Sinful. RebelliousSeparate from God.

And our deeds,  no matter how great, could never ever make up for our ruined hearts. That’s why Good Friday happened. Because the perfect lamb, the blameless God-Man was the only sacrifice worthy of acceptance by God.

Good Friday is because of me. And for me. And for you.

But it’s incomplete at Jesus’ death. After all, how powerful is a god who is dead? The resurrection shows us that our God conquers even death! That He reigns today!

We can only see Good Friday if we see Easter, the day we celebrate the resurrection of the God-Man, Jesus, who “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

The suffering, the passion, the death – the resurrection – all for me? It’s hard to concieve of love that deep! For it is only the kind of love that we can see from God Himself.

Praise you Lord – the RISEN KING!

By the way, if you struggle with believeing in the resurrection of Christ, The Resurgence posted a fantastic article on the validity of Christianity’s claim of a risen Jesus.

Beautiful Mistress: Beauty, Part 2

To see Part 1 of my beauty story, click here.

You see, growing up, I had a beauty-complex. I thought beauty would get you any and everything. And I was told that I was beautiful. A LOT. I won dozens of beauty pageants, maybe hundreds. I know we had hundreds of trophies and crowns. I modeled as a pre-teen. I thought all of these things meant something. That I was better. That I would “make it.”

But in the real world, it didn’t mean anything. In middle school and high school, being pretty didn’t stop people from being cruel, it didn’t get me the lead in any plays, and it didn’t get me the boyfriends I wanted. Let alone girlfriends. I was confused – I thought this was the ticket.

Once I realized beauty was just a one-way street to loving yourself and only yourself for the rest of your life, I gave up trying to be pretty. I dressed like a boy; I cut all of my hair off. I didn’t wear makeup. Instead, I adopted a chain wallet and cut-off t-shirts. I was jaded, you see. At 19, I felt like the whole world could end, and I wouldn’t care.

But then I met Jesus. Or, He came and got me. He loved me. He told me He made me exactly as I am on purpose. I didn’t need to try to be pretty, and I didn’t need to try to not be pretty. I just needed Him.

Oh how I wish I would have believed him 100%. I saw it, but I wasn’t ready to give up on the world. I still pursued what I thought beauty could buy: popularity, love, friends, guys.

But all it bought was hurt. Pain. The consequences of sin.

I continued my flirtation with the world while holding fast to Jesus’ hand, saying Please don’t let me go as I hang off this ledge!

He didn’t.

Stay tuned – my Beauty story continues on Monday.

Stop Trying and Start Trusting

I am a doer. By nature, my first instinct – for almost anything – is just to jump in and do. Even in college, as a mathematics major, I would just plunge into the problem head-first, using brute force first. This is the worst idea ever – you should always think through how you’re going to tackle a problem before jumping in! I used quite a few erasers up, let me just say.

As a follower of Jesus, I believe I am saved (from my sinful nature that separates me from God) by faith, not by anything that I do.

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them. (NETBible, Ephesians 2:8-9)

But my doer-ness attempts to usurp this free gift all the time. I try to do for God’s favor rather than realizing that he sees me through the lens of Jesus’s work on the cross.

I started this blog because God was teaching me things that I couldn’t keep to myself. I share some of these things with some of you occasionally IRL (in real life), but I felt like writing was a good venue to share these teachings with people I will never get to meet IRL.

Little did I know how much God was going to use this blog to change me. Instead of doing, I get to listen to Him, contemplate His word, put those thoughts down.

Once I started, though, I found this wonderful blogging community online! Amazing people sharing amazing things through blogs. And I wanted to be a part of the club. Right now. Yesterday would be better.

I first heard about The Relevant Conference on Blogging With Amy. When I read their mission statement, I was floored and thought – I MUST go! But that was only a month ago, and the conference is this week. So I researched other blog conferences and started making plans in my mind and – well – started doing.

Some of this doing was beneficial, but some of it started getting in the way of my listening.

And then last week, I was studying the feeding of the five-thousand (Mark 6). The apostles asked Jesus if they could send the crowd away for supper or, on prompting from Jesus, if they should go to the grocery to buy food for everyone. They felt the need to do. It was all they thought of – like me – they went head first into brute force. And Jesus proceeded to blow them thoroughly away by miraculously spreading around five loaves and two fish to everyone (not to mention the doggy bags).

I felt like God was saying Stop trying and start trusting.

Please do not hear that I am saying we are not supposed to take action; we are. But at this time, I needed to stop the action and just let God lead me back to the floor by his feet.

Imagine my utter shock, then, when a very innocent little Twitter party contest for a Relevant Conference ticket (hosted by Amy Bayliss and Jolanthe) led to MY WINNING! YES! Thursday, I will be traveling to Pennsylvania for the conference!! I can’t believe how he worked out so many little details to get me there. And he is still working out little details, like free business cards by Kaira!

Did God need to do this to be glorified? No! Not at all. But He did it anyway, and I know that I did not.

My Father, as Laura reminded me today – You love me! And you wanted to show me in this way! Thank you most of all for the reminder that you call me to YOU, not to blogging. I love you and trust you.