Thursday, April 29, 2010

busted bubbles

Life distracts me. Cheesy fingertips need wiping. Exercise beckons my name. Dirty laundry crawls down the stairs on a mission for water, and maybe some soap. Superman band aids heal the inevitable scrapes and bruises. Life.

But outside of my mostly-comfortable bubble, hopelessness enslaves millions of hurting, misused people. And we can do something. You and me. Even from behind the walls of our suburban homes.

The task feels daunting. Let me rephrase. The task is daunting--impossible--if done in our own strength. But in the power of the Almighty, strongholds are broken. And God has called His children to defend the fatherless and intercede against injustice.

So today I am joining the Abolition! team in praying--warring against principalities of darkness. Specifically I am praying for the Third World Market that will be held at Westover Church this Sunday. "Father,
  • Raise awareness in the hearts of many--including myself.
  • Challenge us to give and act beyond our own capabilities.
  • Use us--use me--to set the captives free!
  • Glorify Yourself!"

We serve a very big God. He is moved with compassion. His graces reaches and lavishes those who seek after Him. Prayer moves the heavenly space.

You can borrow my pin. Go ahead and bust your bubble.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Seeds of Hope

These aren't just wildflowers at our mailbox. This patch of color rejoices in the faithfulness of our God. You see, a year ago I sowed these as tiny little seeds of hope--hope of promises to come.

But to truly appreciate God's handiwork, you have to understand a touch of our story. Last Spring, my husband and I reached new places in our marriage--places in which glimmers of light began shining where darkness once relentlessly resided. For months God had taken the pieces of our shattered home and slowly began mending them together, one-by-one. He then whispered promise into my ear.

My hands buried those seeds under the soil by faith. And God beautifully brought forth the harvest...just like He continues to do in our home. He absolutely amazes me.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

when all else fails...laugh.

I returned home yesterday from my weekend of retreating. As I pulled into the driveway three little pairs of feet scampered to the car, along with my brave man somewhat wearied from my absence. Well, he didn't scamper, but he did greet me with a smile before my bags were out of the trunk. And he deserves "mad props" for doing such an amazing job while I was away!

Now, before my daily tasks steal away my weekend memories, I just have to share one thing that happened. Though I had set aside Thursday as a day of quiet before my Lord, on Friday ninety other women arrived at the beach for our church's annual women's retreat. This year's focus was "Something Better," based upon the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10:38-41.

My job on Friday night was fairly simple. The coordinator had asked me to write an introduction to the weekend as if I were Martha. So I did. But then I decided that the monologue would flow much better if I memorized this seven minute piece. For days I recited. I spent any free moment slipping into the mind of Martha and quoting the words that the Lord had laid upon my heart.

The time came for me to go on stage. The first two paragraphs seeped from my lips with natural ease. I was Martha. But then paragraph three approached the microphone, and I saw a friend in the audience. "Hi Shana," I thought subconsciously. It was as if a stray yellow fish went swimming against the tide through a school of pink; and my mind went blank. I followed the yellow fish and found myself in deep, black, unknown waters. And I had no idea what to say next. Nothing.

I paused as if contemplating the depths of God's character, inwardly praying for a word. Then I looked out into the audience hoping for...anything. But after a few brief moments I said with honest confession, "I have no idea what my next line is." My mind had gone completely blank and I busted with laughter. Then ninety sweet, gracious ladies joined me in the amusement.

Our worship leader came to my rescue as she pulled my monologue from her folder of notes. And God redeemed what my mommy-brain lost. After the final song and the closing prayer, woman after woman approached me with commendation. Apparently, the reality of "distraction" hit a cord.

In the end I learned two things. First, always bring my notes! I truly believe that my kids have strategically sucked my brain cells out of my brain. Memorization proves impossible at this stage of life. And second, laughter is a great response to mistakes. Everyone can relate. We all trip on the bricks and run into doors. Just laugh at yourself and move on.

Well, I missed you guys these past few days. I'll be talking to you.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

what would you choose?

For the past 24 hours, my husband and my mom have tag teamed my "mommy responsibilities." And that will continue for the next three days!

But this morning as I awoke to the rise of the sun over the ocean, I missed those little voices. I missed those first hugs from three kids with sleepy eyes and crazy hair. This is the point my man would say, "So does that mean you are coming home early?" And to that my answer is a gentle but unhesitating, "no."

Being a mom is a strange mix for me. In one moment I can sense the glory of it all--the blessings innumerable. I love dancing with them in the living room and deciphering my 2 year old's speech. I love their "artwork" and their laughter. Yet in the very next moment I can feel uncertain and unknown. I can get lost in the laundry and the meal planning and picking my battles. By the time I have a moment all to myself--which is rare--it takes me a minute to really remember who I am without the label of "mommy" in my hands. Strange.

As the condo door closed yesterday I realized that I could do anything I wanted to do. So I thought I would share a few of the things I chose:

  1. I chose to leave the sliding door open.
  2. I chose to take only one small bag and a chair to the shore.
  3. I chose to bury my feet in the warm sand.
  4. I chose to write.
  5. I chose to listen to jazz on Pandora, then David Crowder.
  6. I chose to pray for my family and friends.
  7. I chose to nap.
  8. I chose to write some more.
  9. I chose to nix the bath idea since there were bugs in the tub.
  10. I chose to be thankful for the many blessings in my life.
  11. I chose to leave the TV off.
  12. I chose to rest in this gift of a silent moment.

And no, I didn't choose to sleep in. I can't. I have issues.

So, what would you choose if all responsibilities were taken away for a day?

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Word of Warning

One last moment with king Jehoshaphat...

War approached. Fear arose. Jehoshaphat responded in faith. God answered with victory. Jehoshaphat led the people into the wilderness. He encouraged belief among them and appointed some to sing songs of praise. Then they watched as God battled their enemies to absolute destruction. And "the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around." (20:30)

The Lord prospered this man of faith on many levels. But there was one weakness--one place that proved detrimental to his descendants.

The text describes Jehoshaphat as one who did not turn from "doing what was right in the sight of the Lord." (20:32) We see that he loved his Lord. He believed his Lord. He sought after wisdom from on high and desired to be led by the Almighty. "Nevertheless..."

Even though Jehoshaphat truly loved the Lord, one red flag waved desperate from his heart. He periodically "held hands" with enemies of God. (see 2 Chronicles 18 and 20:35-37) We are not told why. We are never given full insight into his personal heart-struggle. But if I were to venture a guess, I would say that greed and people-pleasing vied for his affections. And consequences followed.

"Nevertheless the high places were not taken away, for as yet the people had not directed their hearts to the God of their fathers." (20:33) The phrase "high places" refers to sites of idol worship. And apparently Jehoshaphat did not tear those down.

Here's the point. If we allow things to dwell "in our land" that directly oppose the Lord, then strongholds will slowly creep through the unprotected space. Sadly, Jehoshaphat's son worked evil in the midst of God's people. And not one person mourned his death. Consequences.

Father, reveal the high places and empower us to tear them down.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Words Cannot Express

I don't know your name, but I have seen your heart. And all I can say with tears in my eyes is "Thank you! Thank you!" We pray that God lavishes His blessing upon you and yours, until it is overflowing and uncontainable. Amazing.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wilderness Praise

Yes, I am back in the same text today, gleaning again from the life of Jehoshaphat. (I can now type his name without pause.) Like I mentioned Sunday, 2 Chronicles 20 is rich with insight. And I love what happened next.

Remember: A multitude approached. Fear arose. Jehoshaphat sought the Lord. And his God faithfully answered with a word of victory. But that is not the end of the story.

Jehoshaphat responded with worship, then rose early and led the people out into the Wilderness where he instructed them, "Believe...believe...and you shall prosper." (20:20)

Believe the promises of the Lord.

"And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army." (20:21)

Are you with me?

They had a promise of deliverance--a promise of victory. Yet they still had to walk by faith into the wilderness. And there in the desolate, they believed and sang songs of praise--their voices echoing in the midst of nothingness.

"Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against (those coming to attack)." (20:22) And the enemies of God killed one another!

OK. I'm getting a little fired up.

Friend, if your feet are on desert ground, without a hint of spring flowers or flowing rivers, then shout songs of praise. Turn your eyes onto the One who loves you beyond reason and worship Him with everything you've got. You might not feel it. You might not want it. But will it. And let Him fight this thing for you.

The joy and power of wilderness praise...

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Not Mine

Fear weighed down. Jehoshaphat bowed the knee. God faithfully answered. And He intends for His words to this ancient king to bury themselves deep into our 21st century hearts. He wants to affect us today, wherever our feet may dwell.

"Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's." (2 Chronicles 20:15)

A word of hope for the hopeless.

Press into Him by faith with all you've got. Let Him fight this thing for you. The battle can be His if we trust Him with the sword.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

It may be a knockout

Fear. Its potential to invade arises with change. When either something unwanted walks onto our fairly predictable path or when something we know and love is stripped away, fear stands as if an invited guest.

Second Chronicles 17-20 has caught my attention the past two mornings. And if you are tempted to believe that ancient writings have no place in modern culture, I pray you reconsider after meeting Jehoshaphat. That's right, Je-hosh'a-phat. A name that has never graced the popularity lists for babies--at least not in the States--but one that carries a legacy of faith.

After my time in this text, I regretted not having a platform this Sunday to preach--uhhh, I mean teach. Chapter 20 is rich with lessons of faith. But for today I will give us one upon which to meditate.

Jehoshaphat reigned as king of Judah--the southern kingdom of God's people at this time. And he loved the Lord and made strides to reform the people towards faith. Then it happened that a "great multitude" marched to attack. And when Jehoshaphat heard of the imminent battle, fear took up residence in his heart.

And his response reflected his faith.

He "set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah...and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord." (20:3) Fear propelled him into the arms of his heavenly Father--the only place of ultimate refuge.

As his prayer of intercession came to an end, his final words could easily serve as our own when war appears to be on the horizon, "For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You." (20:12)

Read that verse again...out-loud.

War is coming. A multitude approaches. It has the potential to crush me. It towers over me. And I hold hands with fear. But that is not the will of my Father. He instructs me to fear not. Why? Because He is with me and will never forsake me. Fear not. So. Though I have no power against this Goliath, my eyes are upon the One that does. Be my strength, o Lord. And empower my feeble hands with Your unmeasurable might.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Invasion of the Scars

A moment of bitter reflection hit my heart like a freight train this morning. I tried to identify the reason for its invasion; and I've come to think that my post from yesterday lingered in my mind.

My history left marks--scars--on my soul. If I allow myself to wander down its trail of humiliation and hurt, tears of shame quickly blur my vision. I pained so many, betrayed so many, and left damage upon so many.

But God.

That's all there is to truly say.

God has worked this thing in me that human reason cannot comprehend. He breathed life into broken, hardened places and captured my existence--an existence that without Him breeds continual ache.

There is no explanation, but God.

As the feeling of nausea crept in, and I processed some unwanted memories, His reality flooded my spirit--and my ears--through the song Thank You for Hearing Me by the David Crowder Band.

God hears. He loves. He redeems. He cleanses. He forgives. He renews. He wipes clean. He removes all shame. Regardless of where you are or where you have been, there is a God who desires that you come to Him--handing over your filthy rags so that He can replace them with garments of splendor.

Thank you, Lord. Your grace amazes me.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Culture blindsided my parents. I was a preacher's daughter. And yes, I fully lived up to the stereotype. But I honestly think that my parent's were blindsided by the growing rebellions of this world.

The Internet did not exist. Texting was foreign. Flat screens were of the imagination. Even cell phones came zipped in a huge leather bag and weighed a good five pounds. But media still seeped into our home and the culture at large affected my mindset.

I wanted to fit-in. I desired the latest jelly shoes and the "loudest" jams--do you remember those things? My heart longed to be filled and I searched for things in this physical world to fill it--always to no avail.

It makes me think, how will I be blindsided with my own kids? How will the changing times penetrate the safety of our four walls when I am not looking--when I don't even know where to look?

Ultimately, regardless of the cultural trends, I guess our role as parents remains: point our kids to the only One who can give their seeking hearts lasting joy and immeasurable love, regardless of the daily demands.

But to point them to the Ultimate Reality, we ourselves must trust fully in Him. We have to know where to lead them--know the path to their Creator. Thankfully He is never blindsided.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Kind King

Kindness marks His character. Have you ever wondered? Have you ever looked at the circumstances of your day and questioned, "Is this God truly kind?"

We all have moments of doubt--the nature of man begs for proof. But rest and victory over the moment come when we stand on His revelation regardless of what our physical eyes may see.

This kindness thing hit me this morning from the text I read in 2 Samuel 9--an encouraging read describing David's lavish expression of God's kindness upon his dear friend Jonathan's lame son.

He is kind.
He is kind.
He is kind.

When He works in the life of His child--when He ordains things that appear on the outset as detrimental--He is kind. A life of abundance and freedom remains priority in His purpose towards His own--for His glory and our good. And freedom comes when the chains are broken.

Today is all we have. So wherever you find yourself this day, rest upon the nature of the most High. Kindness marks His character.

Thank you, Lord.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Stacked Odds

"It may be that the Lord will work for us. For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few."--the words of Jonathan found in 1 Samuel 14:6b.

Jonathan believed God. He knew that the God of the universe was able. He was willing to go and fight the enemy, not with a great army of men behind him, rather alone with just his armor bearer at his side.

I love that.

The odds didn't sway him. The seeming irrationality didn't lead him. Statistics were irrelevant. His eyes were set on the God able to save by many or by few.

And though it may sound impulsive at first glance, he wasn't walking foolish. After taking those first steps of faith, Jonathan and his armor bearer reached the edge of enemy camp, and he sought the Lord's will. And his God confirmed the victory--fueling the fire in Jonathan's soul.

The God of all eternity showed up. He responded to the faith of his child--one who believed that He indeed was able, regardless of how things may appear to the physical eye. In fact the Lord confused the enemy so that they began fighting one another. (1 Samuel 14:20)

This kind of thing is not just an ancient story to be set aside with a quick, "how special" comment. This is revelation of the character of our most-high God. And it encourages me.

I desire my life to shout declarations of faith--that regardless of how things may look, my God is able. I want to run forth in belief, ready to charge when He gives the word. The seeming odds are irrelevant with God behind the wheel. Nothing is impossible for Him. He is God. If He said it then it will come to pass.

He is worthy of our belief.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

For Our Next Act

If you come into our home for any length of time--by any length of time I mean more than approximately 12 minutes--then you are probably going to be asked to watch a show. My kids love to dress up and perform, with my daughter leading the pack.

It is almost a daily occurrence for her to pillage through her bin o' sequins and come downstairs decked out from head to toe. Her brothers now follow suit--at times with high heels and tiaras worn proud. They set up the playroom with chairs and lights--I have said "no" to the fog machine--and invite all willing participants to be their audience. And yes we have it videotaped for future enjoyment.

Watching is both absolutely precious with a hint of painful as she expresses herself through dance--oh dear, did I teach her that move?! Her brother imitates her every gyration--facial expressions and all--while the audience cheers for more. Priceless.

I just didn't want to forget.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Full Life

Let me lay the disclaimer right out there so I can hopefully avoid any hate mail. I do believe there are instances where a physical malady causing emotional or psychological distresses requires the attention of prescription drugs. There. I said it. Now the big "however."

In my opinion, all too often we as humans--myself included--seek someone or something to give us a joy "quick-fix." When a spirit of heaviness weighs down, our American hands quickly dial a doctor for some help, lust for what is not ours, or sip a drink to ease the burden, all the while the ultimate Physician has granted His children the power to overcome.

Joy is an aspect of Spirit-filled living. (see Galatians 5) When we as believers walk through our moments filled with the Spirit of the living God, joy erupts in our depths--the joy of the Lord. But when our eyes scan the physical realm for security, peace, or fulfillment, disappointment will eventually flood our soul and seeming joy will vanish as if it never was. Nothing created can maintain lasting joy. Nothing.

The key to victory rests in the words of Christ, "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me." (Matthew 10:38) True life is found when we crucify the self-life and follow after Christ...daily. It sounds foolish to those who have rejected Him; but when one has tasted the life found in Christ--in all of its abundance--dying to self proves to be the only route paved with blessing.

So. How to we die to self?

Well, I am convinced--though I do not fully understand--that physical fasting aids in crucifying self. As we choose to say both with our mouths and with our actions, "I desire nothing besides You, o Lord. You are my food. Your promises are my life. I pour my self out and submit to Your filling," strongholds begin to crumble. Truly, "man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord." (Deuteronomy 8:3b) (*If you are not familiar with fasting, I would encourage you to search the scriptures and ask God for His wisdom regarding this discipline for your own life.)

A second way we lay our self-life down and submit by faith to His filling is through meditating upon His Word--remembering in the moments that there is only One who is our Source of lasting joy and peace, regardless of circumstance. Search His Word--asking Him to speak intimately to your heart--and then proclaim those promises out-loud when the temptations of life arise.

A third way to die to self--a way that can seep into every tick of the clock--is through continual dialogue with the One who loves us immeasurably. He desires that our days reflect a life of power. He is God. He is able. He can invade any situation and pour Himself all over it. He can meet us in the midst of seeming chaos and lavish us with peace. He empowers His child to love and forgive when the world screams revenge. But we have to have eyes to see. We gain His vision as we look at Him, talk to Him, stand firm on His promises, and expect Him to move.

He. Is. Faithful.

I am not just talking here. This is me. This is my life. These are things He is working in and through me--things He is teaching me. At times I fail. I set my eyes on earthly things and physical people with whom I rub shoulders, desiring that they fill me--desiring that they be my Source of joy and comfort. But He so faithfully leads me back to Himself. My Creator is Life.

His will is Spirit-filled living--singing songs of praise even behind the physical bars of prison, as in the case of Paul; or even when goldfish crackers are flying past my head, as in the case of me. May we reflect Him in all His might, regardless of where our path may lead this day. May we experience His joy unspeakable in spite of circumstance.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Preach it, Piper

I about held church at the gym today. I have taken up the habit of listening to John Piper's sermons while exercising and today I about "went on up." So, if you have 38 minutes to spare for some really good soul food--some truth to feast upon--then follow this link for the audio version of The Immeasurable Greatness of His Power Toward Us.

After listening to his message I followed it up with a fresh drink of bluegrass from the David Crowder Band with their rendition of "I saw the Light"--a different realm than my usual Lecrae. It was all I could do not to break out in dance right there among the weights. Well, I did bust a little move when no one was looking.

Be blessed.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

mere (wo)man

My kids have a way of pulling my weaknesses out of the casket that I thought was buried deep. It's uncanny. Things putt along smoothly, then wham! my flesh stands its ground as if it has rights in this life of one supposedly dead to self. And I am once again awed at the astounding grace of God.

Hence the reason Paul's words continue to swim in my mind, leading me to my knees. He wrote to the church at Corinth, "For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?" (1 Corinthians 3:3b) Mere men, or woman in my case specific.

If we take Scripture as truth, then those under the blood of Christ, having believed, are sealed with the Spirit of the Almighty. (Ephesians 1:13-14) "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The Holy Spirit of God indwells believers as a foretaste of the glory to come. Change is birthed. He breathes life into our very being. He breaks the power of sin. We now have choice as to whom or to what our hearts will bow. Amazing.

So why the struggle? Why the battle with the attitudes I thought were dead?

Because sin still lives in this mortal body. It no longer has us bound as slaves--praise Him!--but we must make the conscious choice--moment by moment--to submit to the filling of the God that has us sealed. And it is done by faith.

I behave like a mere woman at times--many times--as if having momentary amnesia to my true state; as if I haven't tasted the savory love of my Father. Oh He is so good to forgive. He is so patient to cleanse...again.

May we walk worthy of our calling. In Him alone is victory.

Practically speaking: When that flesh starts to rise up, speak scripture out-loud. For example, "'The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.' (Galatians 5:22) Father, I am obviously not walking in Your Spirit at this moment. Fill me Lord. Fill me Lord."

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Sunday, April 4, 2010


I imagine that the cool, morning air lightened their grieving hearts. The sun was rising for the third time since their Lord had taken His final breath. But on that day, the Son arose.

Death couldn't keep Him in the tomb. A stone couldn't keep Him locked away. A seal couldn't keep Him under government control. The Son arose.

Do we grasp the effects? He broke the power that sin has on mankind. He defeated death. His feet walked over it and stood on it, as the victor of a war. The Son arose.

By faith in Him, we enter into His resurrection. Sin only suffocates to the point that we allow. He gives us choice. He gives us spiritual weapons to fight the battles for our souls. The Son arose.

He promises life abundant--peace when storms brew, joy springing up from ashes, love beyond human comprehension. In Him we are raised from our slumber. The Son arose.

He desires we live a life of power, a life that affects, a life that experiences His ways. No circumstance can trump Him. No created thing can overpower Him. The Son arose.

Today is Easter and we rejoice. Because He lives, I am made alive.

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Symphony of Love

Offensively gruesome. Overtly radical. A plan that baffles the heart yet empowers the soul. A death that turned the pages of history and set its seal upon time. A freedom that crosses national lines and eradicates social agenda. A love that bled on a Roman cross with rusty nails.

Upon the answer to "why?" hinges the hope of the gospel. Why did Jesus have to die?

Our Creator planned with precision, down to the very hour in all eternity.

The Father instituted the sacrificial system--the shedding of innocent blood for the remission of sins--at the beginning. For hundreds of years His own people performed yearly sacrifices while prophesying of the final Lamb--the One who would bear the weight of all sin for all time.

Jesus is that One.

He was the God-man--ultimate Truth wrapped in fleshly skin. His blood--perfectly pure. His power--restrained for the salvation of many. His heart--beating a symphony of love.

Today is Good Friday and we remember Jesus with arms outstretched upon that tree--for you and for me.

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Knees That Bend

He broke the unleavened bread and poured the crimson wine, knowing the burden quickly approached. It was the Passover meal--a meal of which His disciples had partaken since childhood, now to be transformed beyond their finite comprehension.

In mere hours the love of Jesus would lead Him to a bloody death.

I imagine these moments with were precious.

Though the Father had instituted the meal itself centuries prior as a remembrance of His deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, ultimate deliverance rested on the heals of His Son. He would be named "our Passover" for He announced freedom to every soul who called out, "Lord, forgive and redeem me."

"Freedom?" Freedom. Abundance. Life as designed by our Creator--for His glory and our fulfillment.

Freedom to love.
Freedom to thrive.
Freedom to rejoice...regardless.

After they ate, He girded Himself and dropped His knees to the dusty ground. With the feet of His friends resting one-by-one in the palms of His calloused, carpenter hands, He took the towel and washed their feet--even the feet of His betrayer. Even the feet of His betrayer. Let that sink.

Today is Maundy Thursday. And we remember.

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