Learning to Walk - Again

Change: learning new behaviors and attitudes is difficult. We create patterns that we have done so many times we don’t even realize we are doing them. Take, for example, how to walk, there is a proper way and an improper way to walk. I, for one, have not been walking properly for years, at least not for a decade or more.

I didn’t realize that I was doing anything wrong, and it took having both of my knees replaced before it was pointed out. The first time the physical therapist had me up and walking with my walker, she noticed that my right knee did not bend, and I swung my leg out to the side. At that moment, I knew that I had been walking this way to overcompensate for the pain and discomfort of my knee problems. What I didn’t realize was that doing it my own way, walking so that I didn’t feel the pain in my knees, was causing pain and problems in other areas of my body.

So, at 38 years of age I had to learn how to walk again. And let me tell you, it was not easy, nor was it pretty. Now that I am walking much closer to “normal”, many of the aches and pains I had are gone. I no longer have the waddle that I had come to detest. I find myself wondering, had it been pointed out to me 10 or more years ago when I first began to walk improperly, would I have made the changes, or would I have continued doing what I was doing because it was more comfortable?

Isn’t that very much the same as our lives? Sometimes we walk the way Jesus did, but often times we don’t, because it hurts, or is uncomfortable. So, we pick up bad habits, dragging our feet or limping instead of taking the rock out of our shoe. This, in reality, is the same as doing it our way instead of His way. We ignore the Holy Spirit when He brings to our attention things that need change, because it’s more comfortable and it is easier.

I, for one, want to walk properly. I am being challenged and changed every day, and occasionally, it’s painful and uncomfortable. I admit that some days I drag my feet, wanting to walk the way I have become accustom to, but then I am reminded that just because my way seems better for the moment, it can and will cause problems in other areas of my life. So I am embracing this change that is before me, changing the patterns of the past and allowing the Lord to teach me to walk – His way.

...by Paulette Toews

...by Paulette Toews

Sticks and Stones

Do you remember being teased as a child and your mom telling you the old adage, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words can never hurt me?” What a bunch of hooey that is. God reminds me of some interesting things when we talk. I was told many things as a kid, by different people, including myself, and I was told things just these past few weeks by different people.

I’ve never broken a bone, but have experienced much pain with my bones, having both knees replaced, and two toes intentionally broken to correct them. It was painful, I won’t lie to you, but I have been healed of the pain. Each and every day it was a little less until one day I woke up and the pain was no longer there. But the pain that I have experienced at the expense of words… well that is a much different, much deeper pain, with long lasting effects, if we are not careful.

As I was talking with my Jesus this morning, what He spoke to my heart was “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, Paulette. Yes, their words were hurtful. Yes, they cut you deep, but focus on My words. Focus on My love. Focus on Me! Instead of hitting the rewind button in your mind and replaying them over and over, record over it with My words of love and encouragement. Replay My truth over and over again until the truth of those words completely wipes out the hurtful ones.”

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

 “But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” Psalm 59:16

Their words hurt me deeply; they cut to the very depth of my heart. But I have spent the days trying to be renewed by the transformation of my mind, by allowing the Holy Spirit to have His way and change my heart. And now, like my bones have healed, my heart is in the process of healing as well.

Sticks and stone will break the bones, and the words will hurt as well. But it doesn’t have to stay that way! Will you allow God access to your heart and mind, will you be…

… transformed by the renewing of your mind!

...by Paulette Toews

...by Paulette Toews

East to West

A few years ago I was blessed with an invite to spend a night at Martha’s Vineyard with some girlfriends. As I was enjoying the ferry ride over to the island, I was reminded just how far away from home I was. I am originally from the West Coast, and now live about 3000 miles from there on the East Coast. The two oceans are different. The color is not the same. One is warmer than the other and to me, they just look different. As I was thinking about this, I realized just how from home I was, and it dawned on me that I have literally moved from one ocean to the other, from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Wow, I moved clear across the country, and on top of that, I moved from the Canadian West Coast to the American East Coast. I am a long way from home.

While I was chewing on the distance between me and my childhood memories, the Lord gently whispered in my ear “as far as the East is from the West, that’s how far I have moved your mistakes from Me.” At that moment the distance became even greater.

I don’t know how many times I have heard the verse in Psalm 103:12 that says “as far as the East is from the West, so far has He moved our transgression from us”, and to be honest I’ve never really thought much about it. I know that the East and West are opposites and that there is much space between them. But did you know that the distance between North and South is finite, while the distance between East and West is infinite? Think about it.

Picture a globe. If you were to travel north, you could only go so far and then you would be traveling south. The same thing if you were going south, you would eventually be going north. But, if you were to head east or west, you could keep going in that direction forever. There is no end. It is a distance that cannot be measured.

That is how far God has moved our transgressions from us.

...by Paulette Toews

...by Paulette Toews

Not Enough. Literally.

As humans, I think there is always a sense of "not enough" in us. Derived from our childhood or past, every day mistakes, lack of performance in certain areas, etc - all make us "feel" this uncomfortable feeling of not measuring up.

Then there are these seasons where you examine areas of your life, and you can clearly point to the lack. Places where you know better, and yet just don't keep up with what is necessary. The "not enough" feeling becomes more than an inadequacy battle and becomes reality. I am in this season.

In my personal health and wellness (body, soul, and spirit), in my work, in my parenting, being a wife, and probably every other area.

I am frustrated-even discouraged at my inability to keep up. I know what I need for health and wellness, and I am not implementing those things well. I need silence and solitude on a regular basis, and it is mostly nonexistent. I need water o plenty, fruits (yeah I am supposed to say veggies, but for now, I will stick with my daily banana), vitamins, way less eating out, and some form of regular light exercise. For my emotional health, I need to be writing, processing regularly, and confronting difficult feelings. Spiritually, I must have time with God, focused study, extended prayer times, and more.

Don't get me wrong, I am never fully and perfectly hitting all of those. However, in this season, my tank is empty, and my health is taking a hit. I wake up every morning with a list of things I am behind in, with personal frustration in regards to my lack.

And before you begin to offer platitudes to help me feel better, because you think - oh my goodness, we can't have Christan down in the dumps - let me stop you. 

I am all about the "He's enough for you". "You don't have to be enough, because He is enough". "You will never be enough, but He is". That's great and everything. All about that grace. 

But, let's get serious. Sometimes it's just literally not enough, because you are not making good choices or because you don't have the capacity or because you just don't have it in you. And so it's not the proverbial "I'm not enough". It's the, "no, like seriously, I know better and I'm not cutting it". Maybe it's just me who's been there? But I doubt it. 

Shame is the ugly monster that drives me to perform better, harder, and faster. Shame in its ugliness whispers you just need to do things right and then all will be well. And, yet, it never turns out that way. When we try to make things better on our own without relying on our Savior, we inevitably cycle through the failure again. 

But here is the thing, every day and many moments in the day-I hear a still small voice that gently whispers-"I've got you." So, I kick and scream and want to punch in walls because I am a hot mess in this season and I don't like it. But He says, even in the seasons of emptiness and "not enough" - I've got you. My love doesn't change and shift with the seasons of your life. It doesn't increase or decrease depending on how well you are doing or not doing. Always. In every season. I've got you. 

Thank God His love covers a multitude of sin and failure. Thank God His love is whole even when I feel so broken. 

It helps me be okay with own my brokenness. It helps me breathe deeply and say, it's okay. It's permission giving to just simply be "not enough" in the worst kind of way. 

It's His loving kindness that draws me to humble repentance. When I have faltered and failed, I know He is waiting with open arms. There may be frustration and disappointment that I can't seem to keep up, that I'm an emotional wreck, and that I'm battling a boiling temper. Yet there is no shame.

There is no shame, because I know to whom I belong. And, I am okay not being okay in this season. Why? Not because I don't care, but because He's got me and He's got this. I am not alone. 

Are you okay with not being okay sometimes? Do you believe God's love covers you every moment in every season? Does shame sit close trying desperately to drag you under?

When we hesitate to draw near to Him in these "empty" and "not enough" seasons, we can almost always point to shame as a culprit. 

Shame creates self-contempt, it causes distraction, and makes us lose perspective. Shame colors our ability to see God in His grace and mercy, and rather than draw towards Him we draw away from Him. There's no place or need for shame as children of God. 

If you are in a season where you just can't seem to keep up with the necessary, can I invite you to lean into His grace and mercy today? He's got you, friend. He will cover your multitude of faults and failures. And He will fill in the gaps until you are on your feet again. 

...by Christan Causey

...by Christan Causey

I Wander as I Wander

I don't know what it is about that sweet disciple, Peter, that causes me to identify with Him so much.

Maybe it is the undying faith in his Savior. Or better yet, it's the stubborn pride that actually might be underlying fear that causes him to deny his Lord.

We are alike, Peter and I. "Prone to wander, God I feel it, prone to leave the God I love." I have a picture in my home that states the old famous thought, "Bind my wandering heart to thee".

The wandering for me does not really come so much in the external. It's this internal wandering away. Where I dwell or overthink a situation so much that my eyes are no longer on my Father. They are fixed on the situation and all the potential obstacles, challenges, and more that can come with it.

I will forever be battling my mind.

What about you?

We can be quite exemplary in our following of Christ on the external. The ever faithful servant, the kindhearted neighbor, and the dutiful reader of God's Word. And, yet, internally we stray. Our thought life and heart can be far from the God we worship. And when this might occur, we become discouraged, distrusting, and even dismayed over the challenges of this life.

Much like Peter who sees Christ, His friend and teacher.  Christ Jesus calls for him to boldly come near, to step out into the water. Peter so faithfully following Jesus shouts, yes! If it's you, Lord! Of course, I will come.

As soon as he steps out, though, he starts getting distracted. His steps of obedience were in the right direction. His willingness was to be applauded. Nonetheless, his mind and heart began to wander and so did his eyes. He faltered, he became afraid and then stumbled.

It's not so much that we will never be afraid. In fact, in this life with all of the challenges that storm through, we will know fear. Rather we must realize it is not enough for us to put on faithfulness wearing it like badge of honor. It's not enough to take the steps of obedience if our heart and mind doesn't follow. Because, inevitably, we will become distracted and take our eyes off of our Father-putting them on the world around us. And, that will be enough to cause us to stumble. Or, at the very least, wander away from communion with Him.

Are you fully engaged in the Savior? Or has your journey found itself making the hard steps of faithful obedience, and yet internally the rest of you wanders?

I get it. In fact, through this season of church planting and new leadership roles, there have been many times I have gotten my eyes off of Jesus Christ. My eyes and mind become fixated on the challenges that are ever before me, and it causes the fear to swell. In my feelings of being overwhelmed, my heart will turn away. But, God faithfully and gently says, come near. Eyes on me. Don't look anywhere but me. Walk in faith, but walk in boldness and courage.

My dear pastoral mentor and counselor has encouraged me more than once to remember that one of the beautiful qualities of God the Father is nurturer. In the midst of challenges, He longs to simply nurture and care for us - not measure us against a self induced standard. With this in mind, we should be drawn to Him not away from Him.

Here is my point. Many times we walk, but we walk in fear and uncertainty. We are willing to continue to move forward in faith or face the challenge He brings our way - but what is our posture? Is it a posture of confidence and wholehearted trust?

In our faithful following of Christ, we must also follow wholeheartedly. When there is pain and unknown, we must boldly embrace it and come. When the fear threatens to stop us in our tracks, we must call on the name of our God who is mighty to save and bring peace. When the anger of not enough starts to undo us and we long to turn back-we must take rest in the arms of a God who is so big and gracious - He can hold us in our anger.

It's not enough to follow Christ, and yet shield our heart from being fully engaged. It's won't be enough to boldly step out of the boat or into the storm if we are not continually wholeheartedly fixed on our Savior.

This is wholehearted obedience, soul and spirit. All of our mind fixed on Him. Not just pretentious steps of obedience, but everything all in.

When we are all in, we can jump out of the boat into the storm and waves, walk on the water fully surrendered no matter what occur around us.

We must reflect and ask ourselves, in what ways am I withholding my heart, soul, and mind from being fully engaged and fixed on God before me?

There's an old song that comes to mind, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of this world will go strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace." The storm ceases to distract, the pain becomes worth it, and a stillness of trust causes us to just...breath...and rest.

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By: Christan Causey

Embracing the Hallmark Holiday

Let's just be okay with who we are, and where God has us. The good, the bad, and the imperfect. My dad died first (I was 24yrs old at the time) and I used to hate Father's Day. I felt bitter towards Hallmark and the church that forced us to celebrate it. My poor husband, even when he became a father, did not receive the celebration he deserved. I would soon rather forget it.

Then my mom died (I was 28 yrs old at the time). I was already a mother at the time, yet even in the celebration of my own motherhood on Mother's Day, came the painful reminders of my lack.

I am very sensitive and empathetic to those that do not have a mother to celebrate, or to those that have lost children, or to those that are barren on this Hallmark holiday. Mother's Day tends to cause even the most peaceful to fight a raging storm of pain.

Really, though, when you have experienced some sort of loss - all "special occasions" are like that. They bring bittersweet memories or remind you of the memories you lack and others have. If this is the case, are we to rage war against all special occasions and holidays? Pull them off our calendars, turn our heads, and let others celebrate the madness.

A little while ago in my life, I would have been tempted to shout a resounding, "yes"! As someone in full time ministry, I felt strongly the church should not recognize Mother's and Father's Day, because it isolated those who could not participate or celebrate for one reason or another. I have downplayed every special occasion (holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, baby dedications, special celebrations and ceremonies) to the point of not truly celebrating them, isolating myself from those who did or would desire to celebrate with me.

I did this as recent as this last month when we had Havyn's baby dedication and Paxton's birthday. But as God has begun to restore and heal, I realize that this is not the way it should be. Whether it is the celebration of life or it's a culture induced holiday - if I have something to celebrate, I should celebrate. It doesn't mean the painful memories flee. It doesn't mean that I won't cringe when I sit here currently getting a pedicure, and I see an adult mother and daughter sharing conversation and laughter. I do cringe. I breathe deeply for a moment, and remember my own sweet mother. Asking myself what it would have been like to celebrate her this year on Mother's Day.

But here's the thing, I refuse to run from this Hallmark holiday, because really in running from the holiday, I am only running from the pain that the holiday creates. And after a year of focused healing and renewal, I have learned it is best for me to embrace the pain. For in the embracing of the pain, joy and deep faith is found. Please understand, I don't want the pain and I would certainly run from the sadness - I have - yet I know better now. To accept the pain and to feel the loss that has occurred is the first step to healing and joy.

And the pain is something that will occur on these special occasions like Mother's Day. But I have made a choice to celebrate who I am, and celebrate what I have. And in celebrating what I have, I am mourning what I don't have. And...there is peace and joy there. In essence, refusing to acknowledge or celebrate holidays is no longer something I do. Because, I feel, in doing so I will miss the joy and blessings I receive when recognizing and celebrating through pain.

Living in this place of peace and joy despite the pain of my loss is the sweet result of grace. Precious grace. That in my weakness, by His grace, I am made strong. Strong even in the midst of difficult days of celebration. I am truly learning the heart of this passage in 1 Corinthians 6:10

Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

So, I celebrate all Mothers today. For none of us would exist, if it were not for a mom. Whether they were good or bad moms, we must be thankful for the choice our moms made to give us life. They gave us the chance to choose faith, life, joy, and more.

I celebrate the ladies in my life who are like moms to me. Showing me your care, concern, support, and love on a regular basis. You know who you are.

I celebrate my grandma in heaven who was my closest friend as a child.

I celebrate my grandma who is still with me. She has been a gift in the loss of my parents. She has persevered in many life and health struggles. She is a champion of faith. And her trust in God is unwavering.

I celebrate my mother-in-law who is caring, loving, and supportive of me and my family. Who regularly shows love and care to her grandchildren. Being a wonderful MiMi to them.

I celebrate the imperfectness of my own motherhood to my three beautiful children. I thank God for His grace. Grace given each day to guide, love, and care for them. Grace given to accept who I am, and realize that I am imperfect - but I love my children and would give my life for them. And, that my friends, is something beautiful with which my God can work.

I celebrate my own precious mom, who is no longer here. A mom who in her own imperfectness, left a beautiful legacy and handprint on my life. Mom- I wish you were here to celebrate with. I wish I could squeeze you and say, "I love you". And I so wish you could see your two new beautiful grandchildren. And you could see how smart, handsome, and big your chunky monkey is getting. It hurts. But I celebrate you today!

Happy Mother's Day, friends. I pray you find joy and celebration, even in the midst of possible sadness.

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By: Christan Causey

The Lack on Mother's Day

We live in a culture that is, often times, in direct opposition to God's way and God's Word. It is a culture and world that is focused on all the wrong things. Finding happiness and contentment in fleeting earthly pleasures rather than things eternal. It's our nature really. This flesh. Paul said it best when he said we know better, yet we still want the wrong things, long for the wrong things, and do the wrong things.

And, here's thing, God wants us to enjoy life. He desires that we should receive His good gifts with grateful hearts, soaking in the pleasure that comes from them. His Word says that He desires to give good gifts to His children. He desires that we live full lives.

Yet, He also desires for us to live life in surrender to Him. He desires that we understand that an abundant joy-filled life does not come from having an easy, put together, all the right things kind of life.

Rather, it is a heart that says, I understand I am most blessed when I am broken before God. I am most blessed when I mourn and grieve over the sin that fills my heart, and - through grace- strive to live in a way that honors Him. I am most happy and content when I humble myself and my position - when I serve and give generously to others around me. Blessed am I when "my hope is found in nothing else, but Jesus Christ".

These Hallmark holidays like Mother's Day and others challenge this in so many ways. Is there anything that so perfectly speaks to this beast inside of us? The beast that says to be happy, to celebrate, to fit in - I must be like you and you must be like me. And may nothing ostracize us from the other.

Mother's Day, while having a good purpose, can create pain for many. As much as it is, for many, a reminder of the joy and graciousness of God in our lives - it is, for many, a reminder of loss, sorrow, and even shame. And, for many (like myself) it is a reminder of deep pain, yet great joy. A reminder of loss, yet God's miraculous redemption and restoration. Which is wonderful. But overall, for me, it is bittersweet. It's hard to feel these deep varying emotions.

I am simply saying we just need to be aware, be sensitive.

We need to give care and understanding.

With good intentions-our church's are the worst. We should know better. We expect the schools, the stores, and Hollywood to fall prey to this obsession of a cultural holiday that celebrates only what you have-and forces the mourning of what you do not. It saddens me that we could possibly cause pain in our church services, because we insist on celebrating and recognizing a holiday that has nothing to do with the core of the Gospel. Sure, Christ said to honor your parents. And we should-each day-respect, love, and honor our parents. But that really doesn't have much to do with our corporate worship. Recognizing the moms in our congregation is not really necessary to our worship to God on Sunday morning. It's just a thing we do. And if this thing that we just do out of tradition and sentimentality could potentially hurt or cause pain - I am not sure it is worth it. Please understand I say this - not out of judgement - just out of an awareness of my own experiences and the awareness of the raw emotional pain of many dear friends and family. If your church, as mine did, recognized Mother's Day...there is no need to be ashamed or to criticize. I am sure for most, as mine was, it was done with grace and sensitivity. At least I hope so. These are just some things to reflect on.

Are we feeding the cultural lie that we must have to not lack?

How many of us fight envy and bitterness, because we do not have what everyone is saying we should have on this special day? How many of us feel a little less than simply because we cannot celebrate with joy a day like Mother's Day?

How many of us have learned not to have any expectations on a day like today-lest we be disappointed and hurt again?

How many of us are tempted to stay home, to downplay any celebrations because what is missing is too noticeable and too big to face?

Peter Scazzero (author of "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality") suggests that we often create illusions and pretense that blind us to the limits of earthly pleasures. And, that's what it really comes down to doesn't it?

On a day like Mother's Day, we forget the limits of earthly pleasures, and fall prey to the illusion that we are or our lives are less than if we only have reason to grieve rather than celebrate. That somehow we are less fortunate, less blessed, and just less.

If you have reason to celebrate, then by all means, celebrate the gifts you have. Embrace it fully. Let it soak in. But, please, remember that our true joy and contentment-our unwavering hope is found in Christ alone. And that has nothing to do with Mother's Day.

If on Mother's Day, you have reason to grieve - if it is bittersweet because of the loss that the day represents - than know that God sees you, He knows you, and is with you in your pain. He longs for you to know His hope and joy. He wraps arms of comfort around you. For in our deepest sense of loss and pain, true healing is found. And no matter what this day or any other day brings, we are more than blessed by the blood and grace that covers all lack.

God, remind us always - in your grace - that true contentment, hope, celebration, joy, and more is found in you alone.

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By: Christan Causey

Now What?

Beautiful Easter has come and gone. The Resurrection Sunday celebration is now a memory. There are a few lingering pieces of chocolate in the candy dish in my kitchen, but I’m sure they won’t be there much longer! And then what? Is that all? A special service or two, flowers galore, ham and sweet potatoes, beautifully colored eggs, and chocolate? Well, now what? Is Easter more than that? Does it have an effect for more than just one Sunday out of the year? I do hope it means more than all of that to you, and that you carry its hope with you in many areas of your life.

Jesus came to give you abundant life (John 10:10). “Abundant” means beyond what is anticipated, exceeding expectation, over and above, or more than is necessary. Here are three arenas where we can experience this more-than-enough life.

Mining for Treasure

How’s your time in the Word of God? Does it seem dry, dull, and boring, or do you frequently find new nuggets of wisdom and application? The first step is to go back and look at your expectations. What are you anticipating when you open your Bible? Do you ask God for fresh insight for where you are right now, or do you just kind of hope something jumps out at you?

Revelation 19:11-13 describes John’s vision of Jesus:

“Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God (NLT).

Whoa! Jesus Himself is the Word of God! Hebrews 4:12 also tells us, “For the Word of God is alive and powerful” (NLT). If your Bible time seems a bit on the dead side, the problem isn’t with what you’re reading, my friend! Ask God to resurrect your love for His Word, and then expect new life to abound in your interaction with it.

Moving Mountains

What about your prayer life? Do you expect answers from God with a faith that can move mountains, or are your prayers just rote requests hoping that perhaps God might hear you? Perhaps it’s time to remember what God has said.

  • He hears youThen if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NLT).
  • He is able “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37 NLT), and “I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me” (Jeremiah 32:27)?  Jesus said, “Anything is possible if a person believes” (Mark 9:23 NLT).

Are you struggling with trusting Him? Ask Jesus to resurrect your faith, and to make it more abundant than ever.  Ask like the father in Mark 9, who said, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 NLT)

Joyful Jewels

Jesus wants you to have joy! “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:11 NLT) Overflowing joy sounds like an abundance to me!

Is your joy lacking? I’m sure you’ve guessed it…you can ask Jesus to resurrect that, too! Psalm 51:12 says, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you” (NLT). Growing in your relationship with God will produce joy as a natural by-product. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…” (Galatians 5:22 NLT).

When joy is growing in your heart and life, you begin to see many blessings around you that you weren’t even aware of before! Those jewels of joy come in many shapes and sizes, and can often be quite surprising. Let His joy overtake you, and be amazed at what you discover!

Finding treasures in the Word of God, praying with bold faith, and discovering jewels of joy are only three of many areas that Jesus can breathe new life into. Ask Him for His resurrection power in every arena of your life...He came for you to live abundantly!

Written by: Lauri Hawley

Written by: Lauri Hawley

Our Christian Paradox

Paradox. Something that seems contradictory but includes a latent truth.

“I can resist anything but temptation!” said Oscar Wilde. A literary paradox.

“Start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and then end with something so complex that no one will believe it.”  A philosophical paradox. 

“They must go to war to make peace.”  A historical paradox.

But surely the greatest of all paradoxes is the Cross!  The clearest picture of hate is also the greatest picture of love.  

Death for Life.  HIS death for MY life.        

Amazing love, how can it be … that YOU, my King, would die for me?      

Born and raised a Hindu Brahmin, the idea of incarnation did not particularly captivate me.  The Hindu deity Krishna is said to be an incarnation.  God becoming human to vanquish evil? Again, Hindu mythology is replete with story after story of the godhead – as man – triumphing over the enemy.  But God – THE One True God – incarnating as Man just so He could become the enemy?  2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that Jesus who knew no sin became sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him!

A God who willingly and obediently and humbly sacrificed Himself in the most horrific and gruesome way possible – all on my behalf.  MY behalf? Why? Because the enemy that had to be conquered was sin – mine and yours!  He could have effortlessly destroyed the enemy – He is God, after all.  But the enemy was me.  And so instead of destroying me, He delivered me.  He took my place – and yours.  His death for our lives. It doesn’t make sense!  But wait, there’s more.

It's Sunday.  Resurrection Sunday. The Day that Death Died – Hallelujah! For unlike all the other incarnations I knew growing up, this is not only a God who died for us, but this is also the only God who has defeated death! His death for my life.  But now His Life … for my death.  My death to self.  His Resurrection gives me – and you - new life so we too can declare with Paul (Galatians 2:20): “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”   Wait, what? How can it be? A spiritual paradox.  It doesn’t seem to make sense, does it? But that doesn’t make it any less true. 

The King who was a servant. 

The Cross which satisfied the Wrath of God and the Love of God.

The death that brought life to us, and now our death for His life through us.

The surrender so we can live victorious.

Our Christian paradox.

Nailed to the Cross

Somber reflection, a solitude of sacredness is necessary - imperative in this Holy Week. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He became a man that would feel and suffer pain in the same way you and I suffer. Imagine the most horrific, soul breaking pain. This is the pain that held Him to a cross he chose to bear.

He died a gruesome death for my every moment - for your every moment. Each moment of this day that I have failed, that I have stumbled. And for those victorious moments where I joyfully overcome. He died that more and more of my moments would become victorious.

When we surrender our life to Christ, we are no longer slaves, we are children of God (Gal. 4:7). We are no longer bound to sin and destruction, we have freedom. We have been ransomed by a gracious and merciful Father.

The mercy of God is unrestrained. He delights in showing, giving, and pouring mercy over us.

Through the cross of Jesus Christ, God planned a way of escape - a path to freedom. My sin, my fears, my anxious thoughts do not have a stronghold on me.

Everything I choose to surrender and give will be nailed to the cross. It can be left there to be covered by His blood that flowed out.

I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, Phil. 3:10.

Do I want to know Christ? Deeply and completely know the Savior who gave his life for me? And if I desire to know Christ will I be willing to become like him in his death, suffering and dying to my own will. Would I become like Him in His death and pray always in every situation, in every joy, and in every sorrow - “not my will, but yours be done”? Is this truly the desire of my soul?

We often offer ourselves in pieces - giving him this, but not offering that. We desire the grace and the mercy, but not the draw to repentance. We desire the joy, yet not the sorrow that will lead us to joy. We desire deliverance rather than redemption. We seek good gifts rather than unwavering contentment.

Yet, you see, God offers Himself to us wholly and completely. And He desires that we offer ourselves wholly and completely. Even if all that we have is broken and shattered pieces - if we offer ALL of them - through the power of the blood stained cross He takes them and makes them whole.

It’s one simple, yet incomprehensibly difficult statement - always, every moment - “not my will, but yours be done”. As I surrender each part of my will, as I place each broken piece on the cross - life and freedom begins to flow. He delights in our surrender.

Oh, what love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God, because that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)

He lifts my bowed head, he takes my clenched hands and loosens them, he gently and tenderly takes the arms folded tightly and spreads them wide. He pulls me out of the valley of dark and places me in a field of light. This is Christ in me. He sets me free.

Try it…pull a piece of paper out, draw a cross, and begin to write…what do you need leave at the cross this Easter season?

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