Jesus

Sunday Best or Brokeness?

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As I scrolled through social media today I couldn’t help but notice all the beautiful photos of the children and families in their fashionable Easter Sunday best. Gorgeous! The portraits will no doubt flood our Facebook feeds all day, come Sunday. A fabulous array of perfectly matching colors will parade into church sanctuaries world-wide in just a few short days. Starched shirts, fancy shoes, flowing dresses, handsome bow ties, and quite possibly even an Easter bonnet or two. It will be a sight to see. I’ve been thinking about what to wear for weeks now. Truly I’ve been staring in my own version of “What Not To Wear.”

“Nope, not that. I wore that last year.”

“Uh-uh (shaking head) that’s black. You cant wear black on Easter.”

“Never. They will kick me out for good if I just wear pants. I’m a girl for Pete’s sake and girls wear dressses on Easter Sunday, right?”

“Oh, I’ll go and get a new Easter dress! That will be fabulous! Everyone gets a new Easter outfit! Grrrrr, but then I’ll have to get new matching shoes.”

“I love hats. I want to bring back the Easter bonnet, and even better, the fabulous headpieces like Rose wore on Titanic! Yes! Ahhhhh, but I wear an alb on Sunday mornings and I can’t wear a hat with my alb. Filddlesticks.”

I’m exasperated, and still not 100% certain of what I should wear, and I can only imagine if you have a family and an entourage of little people to dress. The “What Not To Wear: Sunday” episode must surely be never ending.

So what will you wear on Easter Sunday? Do you know?

In general, I believe that most people are going to break out their Sunday best for this special occasion, and why shouldn’t they? Doesn’t Jesus deserve our best?

ABSOLUTELY, HE DOES!

Jesus, our Savior, deserves our absolute best, but after experiencing our Maundy Thursday and Good Friday Services the past two days, I am starting to question why we spend so much time contemplating what to wear on Easter Sunday and the future Sunday’s beyond?

What if instead we ran breathless into our churches, not dressed in our best, but rather what if we came tattered and torn, dirty and broken, empty and lost knowing that in the presence of Jesus IS the only place we should be? What if we were honest about our raggedness and disappointments, our anger and our sin-filled hearts?

I wonder how many people might just be staying away this Easter Sunday because they feel they have to pull it all together and be “red-carpet” ready for this joyful Eastertide?

Surely, Jesus deserves our best, and by golly dress up for Easter if you want, but know with certainty that our Lord and Savior, Jesus comes for us when we are at our worst. And the WORST thing you could do is stay away on Sundays.

Romans 5:6-11 “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”

Listen, if you are trying to discern  between your Sunday best or your brokenness, I beg you to just come cracked!

COME TO WORSHIP THIS EASTER SUNDAY weak and ragged with nothing left to give! Come crawling and bawling if you have to because together, we will gather at the foot of the empty cross to worship our Savior, who took upon Himself the filth of our sinful hearts. He was betrayed, denied, left alone, beaten, flogged, tortured, nailed to the cross, died and rose again, all for YOU, and He will pick up that dirty mess of you, dust you off, wipe your tears, mend your broken pieces, hold you close, call you by name, and send you back into the world better than you came.

So, leave the “Sunday best” to our Savior, this Easter Sunday and instead…

Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine! ‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side. If we’re honest. If we’re honest. (Franscesca Battistelli)

If We’re Honest (by Francesca Battistelli)

 

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My Heart Weeps :(

I am sitting here on my couch, in almost a fog, but it a “Spirit-filled” fog!!!! Praise the Lord!

My mind and heart continues to be in Worship…Oh what a privilege to be in God’s presence, worshiping Him above all things and hearing His amazing, life-changing Word this morning!! I am so thankful for my Mom and Dad who brought me to church, gave me a Bible, took me to confirmation and Bible Classes and encouraged me to learn more about my Savior, Jesus, a pastor who brought me to youth events that told me about Jesus love, and the need for DCE’s in the church. Camp Luther, Wisconsin and its amazing counselors and Junior Counselors who had a love for Jesus so powerful and so contagious that is changed my whole life (and I still dream about taking a sabbatical and being a counselor there for a whole summer – yes even at 38 years old) and the leader of our DCE program at Concordia University, St. Paul who taught me about servant-hood, and the joy of leading people in the Word and teaching them the Hope we have only in Jesus. ALL of those things, I did FREELY without ever a worry in my heart that I would ever be persecuted for my faith. I never had to fear. The words of our speaker from this morning “What will you do with this gift? (ie: The Word of God)” are ringing through me ears and weaving through my heart. What a powerful message that is sitting with me hours later. I am praying for our persecuted church all over the world, but I am especially praying for the people in our own United States of America, the Golden Triangle and my small town in Texas where WE ARE FREE to worship and study God’s Word, yet we so often let other things come first. What am I kidding, we let EVERYTHING come before our God. 😦 I’m also a guilty party here. God’s Word is changing lives and people are risking their lives just to hear God’s Word and have a relationship with Him, yet, we don’t care. We are satisfied going about our busy lives and putting Jesus, our best friend, our Savior, our Creator, in the back seat…wait, no, in the in trash hoping He will go far away and stop knocking on our doors and bothering our busy lives. We shove Him aside without batting an eye. We are soooooooooo busy. It hurts my heart. And again, I am talking to myself here. My heart weeps.

If you were not actually able to be with us this morning at Holy Cross, I am actually beyond sorry that you weren’t. I am sincerely sad that you and yours weren’t here this morning, (and I know that is really bold to say), but its because I am really, really sad that you weren’t able to hear what I heard. The message, the experience, was THAT incredibly life-changing and there will never be another exact moment like it. I know there are others that felt the same.

I want to know Jesus. I want to know Jesus more intimately than anyone I’ve every known, and I desire to recognize His every Word. I also have a mission to tell you about this greatest gift, God’s Word, that we are FREE to read, cherish and live out every day without fear. We need to be in God’s Word, in God’s house, in devotions together as a family, in prayer talking to God who hears our every word and promise to answer. People are dying to hear God’s Word, and yet we ourselves are truly dying because we don’t.

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YOU are in my prayers today, ladies and gentlemen! I’m praying that you would know the incredible love of our Savior, Jesus, which we know from The Bible – HIS LIFE-CHANGING Word! Know you are loved! Thank you, Jesus!

How to Celebrate Lent in New Ways!

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With Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent, approaching in just three days, I wanted to share the following link to an article called “How to Celebrate Lent in New Ways.” (By Tony Myles, eHow Contributor). THIS ARTICLE  IS AWESOME and provides EXTREMELY CREATIVE WAYS TO HONOR LENT!

 Are you unsure about what Lent is?

Are you interested in making this year’s Lent more meaningful?  

I encourage you to read THIS article!  You will be blessed.  Also, you may find the information on my page called “Prayer Warriors” helpful to you during this “quiet” season.  God’s blessings!

I have been busy, busy, busy!

So, the race was three days ago. I have refrained from training for two of those days and have a monster bruise to show for the fabulous fall on my bike on race day.  But the last few days have been extremely busy both personally and professionally. Refraining from training does not mean I have been “resting on my laurels.”  NO, NO! I have been busy, busy, busy. For some reason, I don’t believe God intended for the Advent Season to be so ridiculously busy.  I am interested to know how many nights a week during the month of December each of you has had an event, concert, or Christmas Party?  I anticipate the results would be astounding.

Even though I don’t have my own children, I feel like I have been overwhelmingly busy and can’t help but wonder how a mother or father with children is feeling right about now?  I am praying for all of you, because I imagine you are as exhausted as I am.  In Luke 10:38-42,  we learn about Mary and Martha.  “Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”  mary-heart

In the book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World,  author Joanna Weaver says, “I wonder if God understands when we’re too busy to attend to His presence in our lives.  Or too tired. Or too embarrassed to admit we’ve done something he would disprove of. Make no mistake. Satan enjoys using our hectic schedules, stressed bodies, and emotional upsets in his efforts to put up barriers to our intimacy with God. That’s why we need to take a close look at any thought, feeling, or activities that diminishes our appetite for intimacy with God.”  I was kind of smacked in the face with this reality this week.  Has anything been the cause of a limited appetite for God? I have been so busy that I haven’t done my lessons for the  Women’t Bible study I attend, and to make matters worse, I have been running (literally) around like a chicken with my head cut off,  not sitting at the foot of Jesus, like Mary did.  I want to be more like Mary the rest of this month.  I want to remember what the season of Advent and Christmas is all about.  It’s about the Savior, Jesus, being born.  Won’t you join me in taking time at the feet of Jesus?  It might mean not going to yet another party, or refraining from shopping for the last of the 100 gifts you “need” to buy, but what will be more rewarding? I think we all know the answer to that question.  With that said, I did take time tonight to walk.  I walked for 35 minutes in the quietness of the night.  It was great listening to music and talking with God.  There were indeed times when I thought “I need to just go home and complete my ridiculously long to do list,” but I stayed the course and walked and talked with God and sung His praises, all as part of the journey to healthy living and spiritual growth.

We are called to plant seeds, NOT pull weeds.

Tonight I am reflecting on a profoundly simple, yet revolutionary truth about Matthew 13:36-43 (The Parable of the Weeds) – Have you ever found yourself pointing fingers, “this person is a Christian,” “that person is SO not a Christian,” or “they couldn’t possibly have a relationship with Jesus” or “they are such a wonderful person of God, they couldn’t have possibly done that.” Guess what?  It is not our place.  In the parable of the weeds we learn that “we are called to plant seeds, NOT pull weeds.”  It is not our place to judge a person’s heart.  No matter how “convinced” we might be that someone else is not walking the walk, it is not our place to “pull the weeds” or point that finger, or put ourselves on the pedestal. It is our job to “plant the seeds.”  It is our responsibility to share the incredible love of Christ. We are never going to be able to know a person’s heart.  If we are truly honest, haven’t we all found ourselves pompously taking on the role of the “weed whacker,” rather than the “peaceful planter?” Lord, forgive us for striving to “be You,” the all-knowing God. Forgive us for desiring to “yank out those weeds” rather than loving, praying for, and considering the God-given potential of that person.  Help us, Lord, to be “peaceful planters” in this world so each one would know You as their incredible and forgiving, Lord and Savior. In Jesus Name. Amen.

“Say Something, I’m Giving Up on You.”

So I confess that I have been obsessing over the duet “Say Something” by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera.  Have you heard this song?  You must.  I first heard it on The Voice a few weeks ago, and I can’t stop listening to it.  Something is to be said about a song that has extraordinary harmony and the fact (no pun intended) that it actually “says something” in a remarkably beautiful and unforgettable way.  You can feel the passion and the angst as the song writer’s words reach out and tug your heart strings.  My question to you on this First Sunday in Advent, is has this song ever been your lament to God? “Say something, I’m giving up on you.” Listen to the song again.  Seriously, do it right now.

I know that the writer didn’t write the song with this in mind, but I can’t help but think that we have all had times in our life when this song was our cry.  Maybe it is your song right now?  There are periods in our lives when God seems silent or non-existent, even, which gives us all the more reason to say, God, “I’m giving up on you.” Doesn’t it? Did you realize that the people of Israel went through a period where God was silent for 400 years. The prophet Malachi was the last to hear anything from God until John, the Baptist. God was silent for 400 years before he spoke to them again?  How long has it been since you heard God speak to you?  There are times He is silent, but hear me out: He has never left!  God continues to speak to us daily through His Word (The Bible) and the Sacraments (Communion and Baptism) yet, please know this, even if you don’t “feel” His presence He is there!  Though He was silent for 400 years, our all-powerful, almighty God WAS still there!  Moving on, the lyrics continue, “And I will stumble and fall. I’m still learning to love. Just starting to crawl.” Isn’t that all of us? Well, really that shouldn’t be a question. That IS all of us. We are sinners who stumble and fall and who are learning to love like Jesus’ loves.  We fail miserably. We are sinners who need a Savior, even though we demand that God “say, something,” because “I’m giving up on you.” There are many giving up on God.  The church is dying.  Many people, possibly even you, believe with all that is in you, that God has given up on you.  Maybe you messed up one too many times, your son has just been diagnosed with cancer, you feel lost and afraid, you are completely alone, you want a divorce, you are overcome and can’t take this crap anymore, you buried your child, you haven’t had a job in over a year, you can’t get off the streets, or you did the unthinkable. Is your heart begging God to, “Say something, I’m giving up on you?” If so, I am so, so, sorry.  My heart aches for you.  God sheds tears for you.  If we are honest, we have been there.  Certainly we may not be as deeply wounded as you are, but we have been there. No, more than that, Jesus has been there.  He understands your pain. The Savior came and is coming again for you. “The angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto YOU is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)

Before I finish, I want to say something – God is NOT giving up on you, and He never will.

Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

Mark 10:27, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  

Isaiah 9:6 He is our, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.