Chaos & Peace

Guest Post from Mindy Evans Leaving the house is not a simple task any more.  It hasn’t been for quite awhile.  I watch my parents leave the house.  My dad gets his keys.  My mom gets her purse.  They put their shoes on.  And they leave.  It seems so, I don’t know, simple.  When we leave the house there is so much involved, it’s almost as if I should hire an events coordinator.

We begin by determining when we need to leave.  Even this is tricky.  For example, if we have to be somewhere at 6:30, and it takes 20 minutes to get there, normal people can leave at 6:10, or 6:00 if they’d like to be a bit early.  In order for us to leave at 6:10, we have to leave at 5:55.  I need to calculate when we need to leave in order to leave when we need to leave.  Are you confused yet?  Because you should be.

chaos

After determining the time to leave, I call all the kids down from the family room.  This is when things really start to get unstable.  Little kids run to our cubby hole area.  You know, the area we had specially made so that the coats and shoes and backpacks of each kid would have their own special space and the area would remain neat and organized.  (Feel free to stop now with me in my story so that we can all laugh together.  Let us find the amusement in these unfulfilled dreams parents sometimes have when we get really good ideas for managing our family but forget to factor in that the people we are managing still use their shirts as napkins, eat food off the floor, and wear the same underwear at camp all week.)

Things are suddenly loud and chaotic.  Kids can’t find shoes.  Kids that can find shoes are sitting on the shoes of the kids who can’t find their shoes.  Other kids say they found their shoes but upon further examination, they have on sandals and its 20 degrees outside or they have on boots and 90.  I stop to call for the teenagers.  They yell, “Coming!”  Someone is tattling and someone is crying.  I notice the TV and the lights are still on upstairs.  So, I send up a kid to turn them off.  I help tie shoes and find shoes and reassign weather appropriate shoes.  The baby is crawling now and tries to make a break for the door every time someone leaves to go out to the van.  He must be closely monitored.  As all the littler kids head out the door, I call for the teenagers.  They say, “Coming!”  (Let’s all stop to laugh together again.  We know they probably are not, in fact, “coming.”)

As we actually head out the door, the baby spits up on my shirt and someone says, “Sullivan pooped!”  Back in we go.  My shirt is salvageable with a wet cloth and the diaper gets changed.  I call for the teenagers.  They say, “Coming!”  (It’s not funny anymore.)  When I get back out to the van, the kids are getting in, but someone has tripped and needs a band aid.  Back in I go.  I come back out, and we all load in.  The teenagers have surfaced and are getting in the van.  Time for a head count.  We’re missing one.  Channing (5).  She is the one I sent upstairs to turn off the lights and the TV.  Back in I go.  She’s sitting quietly on the floor watching the TV she was supposed to be turning off.  I just have to smile.  And part of me really just wants to join her.  I’ve just been smacked in the heart with that feeling of how blessed I really am.

But I wasn’t always this way.  Years ago, as a younger mom, the word “smack” would have shown up in my story in a much different way.

When I had my fifth baby, it was a difficult time.  He was a very needy little fella and I was beginning to question my abilities as a parent to many children.  This is not to say that I didn’t have moments at four, or three, or two, or even one, when I wondered what in the world I had gotten myself into.  But, when we had our fifth, it was the beginning of a big decision for my husband and I to have a large family.  I was standing in the kitchen, trying to console the inconsolable eight week old and praying, “I just don‘t think I can do this. Please, please give me more patience and strength to deal with all this.”  I was overwhelmed and tired and questioning whether God really knew what He was doing when He spoke to my heart and then to my husband’s heart about growing our family.  And then, I sat back and waited for God to reach down out of the sky and bop me on the head with his magic Strength and Patience Wand.  And, so I waited.  And waited.  But, it didn’t exactly happen that way.

God spoke to my heart over the next few weeks as I continued to whine and groan.  He reminded me that He has already given me all I need to do all the things He has called me to do.  I’ve heard the fruit of the spirit described in a way such that you are given a seed, or an amount, as soon as you are saved.  After that, you must cultivate it to get it to grow. Good fruit doesn’t just pop up on a tree or vine the day after it’s planted.  I needed to start accessing and taking care of what I was already given before He would give me more.

I needed to start behaving like the parent God already saw me to be.  

In the parable of the talents, the man gave his servants a certain amount.  They had to show themselves worthy of that amount before he gave them more.  But, this is my favorite part.  In Matthew 25: 15, it says that the master gave each one, “according to his own ability.”  POW!  Guess what.  I am able.  The almighty God of the entire universe already believes I am able, and He has given to me accordingly.

Now, please understand, no part of me believes I am able on my own.  Every ounce of ability that I have to do anything at all comes from Him, and I am in constant need of His resources.  I just need do my part.  I must partner with Him to get anything worthwhile done. Philippians 2:13 reminds me of this.  It is God who works in me.

So, while I still have my moments of feeling overwhelmed and tired and unworthy and let’s face it, slightly unhinged, I wasn’t always able to smile and have peace in the middle of chaos.  I’ve grown tremendously.  The bop on the head never came.  I believe God can bop you on the head.  (There are times I wish He would bop people on the head.  But not necessarily in a holy way.  And for this, I ask forgiveness.)  But, He usually doesn’t work that way.  Spiritual matters take time, and along the road mistakes are made.  Returning to the parable of the talents, we should consider the possibility that the servants who came back to their master with a return, may also have messed up and been discouraged along the way.  Maybe the one with five took a chance with three, lost them, but was wise with the last two and ended up with ten.  Maybe he learned lessons and prayed to be a good steward and it all worked out in the end.  Who knows.  But, I’d sure like to think it.

Luke 12:48 says that because I’ve been given much, much is required of me.  I think we can agree, if you’ve been given many kids, you’ve been given much.  But, listen good to me when I say, if you’ve been given just one, one little image bearer, one little precious gift, you, too, have been given much.  Much is required, but partnered with Him, I promise, you are able.

Making Memories

Guest post from Jennifer Deshler. I was planning to write a post about Proverbs 14:1 today.  But I’m not feeling much like a wise woman at the moment. Parenting is hard, ya’ll. #justkeepingitreal

Knowing I’m not the only mama who probably needs to shake it off today instead of reading about how to build the perfect home, let’s talk about having FUN.

memories

I didn’t grow up in a fun home—it was loud, but not a fun kind of loud. In my early elementary years, I remember daydreaming about things I’d do with my kids when I was a parent. Experiences that would tell my little ones I loved them in fun ways.

Have you noticed that humor and levity are often traits we most enjoy in our friends? When we think about the people we want to spend time with, it’s the ones who are easy to get along with. They smile, they laugh, and they have adventurous spirits.

Often we have to fight to make space for fun in our homes.  We’re nursing babies, changing dirty diapers, separating siblings when they fight, navigating the choppy waters of teen hormones, and being a rock when hearts get broken. And there are lunches to pack and dinners to make, laundry to wash, and stories to be read. My muscles tense just thinking about it all.

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength- Nehemiah 8:10

Our kids won’t remember the dishes or the laundry or the errands we run. But they will remember that we made them laugh. They’ll hold tight to every late night Dairy Queen run and each spontaneous game of Go Fish, and those after-dinner contests to catch the most fireflies. Because, no doubt, in every one of those memories, we’re smiling. And more concerned with creating a special moment than cleaning the house.

A happy heart is like good medicine. But a broken spirit drains your strength. Prov. 17:22

The best part about making space for laughter and joy in our homes? We all reap the benefits. There’s less tension. We’re willing to offer more grace to each other. And those giggles and smiles raise our serotonin levels (how awesome is God that He created a chemical reaction inside us that makes us feel better when we smile?!) Fun offsets the hard work of parenting.

If you’re having a tough time with motherhood, just leave the dishes and ignore the to-do list, and go have some fun with your family. Listen for deep, happy belly laughs from your kids—tuck those away for the tough days. Pause at a stoplight and cherish the fact that every kid in the car is asleep after long hours of playing together. Let your family see the silly side of you, and remind yourself she’s still in there.

Here are some of our favorite ideas for making fun memories:

Having a hooky day from school for no reason. Eating ice cream for dinner. Announcing surprise vacations upon arrival at the airport. Using an accent at the grocery store to see how people react when they walk by.

What about you? Share your ideas in the comments below!

He Believes

Guest Post from Mary Kelso A couple of years ago, there was a busy morning of getting two of my boys ready for school and my pre-schooler, Aron, dressed to ride along.   I laid Aron's clothes out for him in the living room. He was still eating breakfast in the kitchen and we were running late.  Instead of making him run upstairs to find clothes I decided to bring them down and let him dress in a corner behind the couch (they all love to do this) once he was finished.

In the process of disrobing he suddenly felt the urgent need to go to the bathroom so he ran for it. I didn't see him take off, as my back was turned, but I did see him return. In my peripheral vision I saw a little flesh colored streak jump through the air and land beside the pile of clothes he still needed to put on.

He was trying to be sneaky, so I wouldn't see him running around nearly naked. Sneaky and fast. He shouted to me, "mom, did you see me?"

I knew he wanted to hear that I didn't. I couldn't lie, but I could exaggerate a bit.

"Barely" I said. "All I saw was a flash and then boom, there you were. You were SO fast."

He smiled proudly and finished getting ready to leave.

Later that afternoon he was talking to his big brother and said, "Ivan, guess what? I ran to the bathroom in my underwear and I didn't want mom to see me. I was so fast all she could see was a flash when I ran back!"

He believed it. He believed he was fast, like a flash of lightning. He believed it because that's what I said.

Which made me feel responsible. And careful.

Because wouldn't it stand to reason that he would believe other things I could say about him?

My mother warned me about this, about names and words we call people, especially children, and though I heeded her warning I didn't see how important it was until I saw how easily he took my words to be his. To be him.

What if I had told him he's an idiot?

What if I had told him I didn't care?

What if I had told him to SHUT-UP?

What if I had called him a little jerk? A little brat? A nuisance? What about Stupid? Fool? Devil?

What would he believe about himself then?

Oh, be careful little ears what you hear...maybe your mommy doesn't mean it.

How important are they? The little nouns and adjectives we use?

When he dumps his cereal for the third time that week.

When she gets into your make-up again.

When he pees down the side of the toilet.

When she uses your scissors and can’t seem to find them.

When he leaves his dirty socks between the cushions of the couch for the third afternoon in a row.

When you don't have time or energy to answer her question for the 10th, 11th, or 12th time.

Every time you find yourself placed between him and what his actions make you feel, remember, no matter what you say...He believes.

Interview with Amy Carroll

I am excited for you to meet Amy Carroll.  First meeting her you knew she was amazing gal.  Her smile is contagious and her passion for women is honest and true. Amy Carroll is a speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries’, the author of Breaking Up with Perfect, and the director and coach of Next Step Speaker Services.  She lives in NC with her 3 favorite guys and a little, red dachshund.  You can find her on any given day typing at her computer, reading a book, or trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner. Today, we talk about what the world says versus what God says motherhood is to look like.  How many of us are just exhausted pursuing perfection? We talk a little about that too.

**You don’t want to miss the incredible offer that Amy gives to all our listeners at the end of the message!!

So grab a cup a coffee, your favorite chair and lean into this encouraging word from Amy!

IN THIS EPISODE

  • Her brand new book – Breaking Up with Perfect
  • Lessons learned from failures
  • The world vs. God about motherhood
  • God created us to reflect His image
  • Living in God’s image
  • Pursuing perfection is exhausting
  • Seeking a mentor mom
  • Where are you turning?

PERSPECTIVE

We have a creative God that loves diversity - Amy Carroll

LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Proverbs 31 Ministries

Next Step Speaker Services

Breaking Up with Perfect book

Amy Carroll website

On Facebook

On Twitter

ENCOURAGING VERSE

Psalm 18:32 “the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.”

Interview with Linda Seidler

I love this woman and I am so excited for you to meet her.  We are one of those friends that met over social media. In 2013, we finally met in real life over Thai here in Nashville.

My beautiful friend, Linda Seidler, will be giving her perspective  about ministry, raising “PK’s”, and marriage. I promise you will love her and her heart. When you are ever in Ohio, make a stop at the Experience Church, where her and her husband, Tim, are Senior Pastors.

She is passionate about seeing people become followers of Jesus and to rise up strong and make a difference in this world.   Linda uses her voice to speak encouragement and confidence into people’s lives by using biblical truths and inspires them to be strong and capable of becoming all that they can be.

Linda is a catalyst for inner change and a champion of today’s women and has spent the last decade energizing women to be confident in who they are and equipping them to lead and serve from wherever they are. She is a messenger of encouragement and hope and helps others emerge and believe that anything is possible.

I can’t wait for you to hear her love for women in ministry. I promise you will not be disappointed!

IN THIS EPISODE

  • Four core family values
  • How to make your kids open up to you.
  • How to balance the kids schedule, church, ministry, extra-curricular activities, etc.
  • How to teach your kids to keep their commitments.
  • The price we pay in ministry
  • How to keep mom and dad time a priority
  • Recognize when you have a marriage breakdown
  • How to resolve conflict in marriage
  • Using prayer and scripture to give you strength to get you through

PERSPECTIVE

Three things you can do when you feel overwhelmed in ministry.

LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Game – Highs and Lows

Leading & Loving It – For pastors’ wives and women in ministry

Senior Pastor with her husband Tim at The Experience Church

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Instagram

ENCOURAGING VERSE

Philippians 4:13  “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

MY FAVORITE TAKE AWAY

[clickToTweet tweet="If the enemy can't defeat us, he will distract us. - Linda Seidler" quote="If the enemy can't defeat us, he will distract us. - Linda Seidler"]

CONVERSATION

What part of the interview, if any, changed your perspective? Do you struggle with keeping a balanced life? Share with us what changes you might make after hearing Linda. I’d love to hear your perspective on ministry, marriage, and family.

Interview with Toni Birdsong

*The video might be long, but I promise you it is worth every minute. Toni has graciously given us a FREE seminar about technology and our kids.. Sometimes God puts people in our lives to encourage and equip us for greater things ahead. My friend, Toni Birdsong, is that for me when it comes to all things technology.

One of her goals is to help us moms raise digital savvy kids to become critical thinkers instead of impulsive clickers.  I promise you will not leave here disappointed. Toni admits that technology is some of the hardest we will understand as a parent, but gives us tools to become preparers instead of protectors.

She is a Family Safety Evangelist for Intel Security. She is an author, speaker, and cyber savvy mom of two teenagers (much to their dismay). As a family safety evangelist for Intel Security, she focuses on online safety and often speaks to educators, parents, and teens about dodging the dangers online.

Get a pen and paper, because you will leave here with a lot of information!

I promise it will be worth every minute.

IN THIS EPISODE

  • Raising wise kids that are prepared for this digital world
  • The warning signs to Cyber-bullying
  • How to put your teenager on a “list” on Twitter
  • 3 Apps we need to pay attention to
  • Tips for monitoring your child and technology
  • How to go from Protector to Preparer
  • Toni gives an in-depth perspective on technology and its future

PERSPECTIVE

What to do when you want to give up and not be the “monitor” anymore.

LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

LiveStream

Periscope

Meerkat

YouNow

Flinch

MacAfee.blogcentral.com

Toni’s Website

On Facebook

On Twitter

ENCOURAGING VERSE

Galatians 6:9  “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

MY FAVORITE TAKE AWAY

[clickToTweet tweet="Likes, clicks, thumbs up, followers, is how they get their affirmation. That has to change. - Toni Birdsong" quote="Likes, clicks, thumbs up, followers, is how they get their affirmation. That has to change. - Toni Birdsong"]

CONVERSATION

What part of the interview, if any, changed your perspective? Do you struggle with keeping a balanced life? Share with us what changes you might make after hearing Linda. I’d love to hear your perspective on ministry, marriage, and family.

Interview with Gabby Shumate

She may be our Pastors daughter, but she truly has been a great friend. When I think of the word joy I think of Gabby Shumate.  She is one of the funniest women I have ever met and is always one that never leaves any details out when telling a story. Gabby is a brand new mom to twin boys, Harry and Davis. She has begun to write on her new blog, MrsGoldbergSays.com.

I can’t wait for you to meet her.

It’s going to be fun (and maybe a little gross)!

IN THIS EPISODE

  • Miscarriage
  • How she lived in fear during her pregnancy
  • Delivering NICU twin babies.
  • Pregnancy is not as glamorous as she thought
  • Raising two different personalities
  • Asking her dad, “will Harry ever come home?”
  • We must speak into our kids’ lives
  • Bullying
  • Motherhood can have you feeling alone
  • Moms need grace

PERSPECTIVE

Motherhood is what she thought it would be

LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Gabby’s Website

ENCOURAGING VERSE

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

MY FAVORITE TAKE AWAY

We must speak into our kids’ lives.

CONVERSATION

What part of the interview, if any, changed your perspective? Did you have a hard pregnancy? Tell us about it. As a new mom, what is your biggest concern as a parent?

Fear of Belonging

I am at this conference about how to connect with others in a digital world. It’s in Franklin, TN, so of course, I stop in for breakfast at Merridee’s before it starts and have their egg and cheese croissant and a cup of coffee.  Observing the room, I overhear the table next to me, full of retired men; tell their “corporate” war stories. Around them are young and ambitious men and women with their MacBook’s, ready to take on the world. To think two different generations, two different ways of doing business, and two different ways of communication, sat in that restaurant.  I get up from my table and head over to the conference.  Listening to a full day of incredible speakers, I heard words like:

  • Show the raw and authentic you
  • Every story has a purpose
  • Come from a place of Yes
  • Don’t try to be something you’re not
  • Be transparent
  • If it’s not your genius, it’s not your job.
  • Fear blocks who you are
  • We struggle with a fear of belonging

Oh, that last one grabbed my attention.

Yes!

I wanted to shout, YES!!

christian

I wanted to stand up and scream, me, me, I admit it, I struggle with that fear. I struggle with the fear of belonging, the fear of not being good enough!

Instead, I did what everybody else did, stayed in my seat internally shouting, AMEN!

Sure, I ashamedly admit to feeling rejected or inadequate. Not qualified enough or not wanted.  Feeling replaceable or insignificant.

Indulge me. I’m being transparent.

I bet Eve was content with what she had until that dumb ol’ devil had her comparing herself to someone who had more. Convinced her that something was missing in her life and that ‘apple’ would make her more “like God”.

A foolish comparison, but all comparisons are.

If we are honest with ourselves, we do it all the time.

If I only I was like her.

If only I had a husband like hers.

If only my children…

If only…

We need to understand comparison will always leave us feeling like we are lacking something. We try to do more and be more, but it’s never enough. Can I get an Amen?!?! I’m preaching to myself here, too!

Comparison leaves us feeling insecure and makes us ask ourselves, “I wonder what’s wrong with me?”

Hmmm, last I checked God’s word didn’t change.

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, - 1 Timothy 4:4

Here’s what needs to change – the way you think of yourself.

Stop believing the lies that the enemy wants you to believe.  If the devil can cast a shadow of doubt over God’s masterpiece-you-then he wins.

How?

By keeping our mouth shut. By watching everyone around us doing their “thing” while we sit quietly doing nothing.  We become master to our flaws instead of master to the One that made us flawless.

When God asked Adam and Eve, who had told them they were naked or in other words, “who told you that something was wrong with you?” God acknowledged that there was someone casting shame on them – and it wasn’t Him.

We have to stop believing the lies.

We are good enough. We are forgiven. We are beautiful.

Not only that, but…

We have work to do. Work only we are qualified to do. Work that God put in us for such a time as this.

And, you know what?

We are qualified to do it.

His Masterpiece

The other day I received a text message from one of my best friends. Her oldest graduated from high school and over the summer will be getting ready to move to Chattanooga where her daughter will attend college. I texted her back how excited I was, but I knew deep down she was sad to see her go. Then my cell phone rang.

No more texting. We needed our voices. We cried together and I made her promise that she would walk this very same road with me too, very soon.

It’s moments like these that you remember everything is for a season.

Continue reading at Perspectives: The Mom Experience - His Masterpiece

What God Asks Of Us

It’s morning and as usual I grab my cup of coffee, sit down at our dining room table and begin to read the devotion for the day. I like routine. I look at my collection of Oswald Chambers, Smith Wigglesworth, and Rick Renner, and ask myself, “I wonder which one will inspire me today.

Love God
Today, it’s Smith Wigglesworth.  It’s titled – To Be like Jesus.

I reread the title again, to…be…like…Jesus.

A thought rushes my mind of how difficult this is becoming in the world today. I think about my kids, who are all teenagers, and wonder what life will look like for them not in 20 years, but just in 5 short years.  Life changes quickly and somehow as mothers we feel we have to complete the manual of parenting before the timer goes off.

Wait. There’s a parent manual?

I dig into the devotion for the day and read Wigglesworth’s words:

“In Christ, we have encountered divine resurrection touches. In the greatest work God ever did on the face of the earth.”

I pause and think about those words “greatest work” and “ever did”.  I think about what would life look like during that time having to make a choice to follow a Savior down the Via Dolorosa or would He write words in the sand as I hold a stone in my hand.

Jesus died and rose again for you and for me. Despite how ugly things look around us, we must continue to rejoice in the greatest work He ever did.

I continue reading:

“Christ was raised from the dead by the operation of the power of God. As the resurrection of Christ operates in our hearts, it will dethrone wrong things and will build right things”.

Did you catch that?

We can wonder what our world is becoming, why our kids seem to fall into temptation, or why we feel like giving up in life. It’s not until we get a hold of Christ and exchange what the New Living Translation says, a stubborn heart to a responsive heart.

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. – Ezekiel 36:26

It’s a heart issue. Until the heart is right, wrong decisions that go against His Word and Resurrection, is what we will have to endure as long as we live in this world.

Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. – 1 Peter 5:9

He continues:

“Callousness will have to change; hardness will have to disappear; all evil thoughts will have to go. In the place of these will be lowliness of mind”.

When I exchanged my heart almost 35 years ago, I exchanged it for my sin.  Now don’t think in all those 35 years I never had to make another exchange.  Oh, no, this girl has a story.  The key was the final exchange. The moment when I said no to sin and yes to God.  When I did that I exchanged it for a place of lowliness of mind.

What’s lowliness of mind?

It’s a humbleness.  A humility of mind.  Not one that acts as a slave or is miserable because it stays quite amidst the sinful surroundings. To be humble does not mean that one has no abilities or achievements. It’s what the Bible says leads to honor.

The result of humility and the fear of Jehovah is riches and glory and life.” - Proverbs 22:4

Do I like where the world is going? No.

Do I like when the enemy wants to come and tempt my kids? No.

Do I like seeing people still live in their past continuing to make mistake after mistake? No.

But, I still love.  I just hate the sin.  I hate when we give room for an enemy to steal, kill, and destroy.

I don’t know, is there something wrong when we actually do what the Word says and love one another? (John 13:34)

I think about the women that have come to me in private and have told me horrendous life situations that have happened to them.  How they walk into a church and feel as though they are looked down upon. Feel like they are not good enough, not worthy enough of forgiveness.  Shame on us.

When we can’t be thankful for them taking the first step and praying that they would allow God to move into their heart condition, something is wrong.

When did we decide to play God and stop being love instead?

That’s all God asked of us – to love one another.

When we submit to love, we become useful to one another. And when we come to a place where we serve for pure love’s sake, we find the Master upon us and find out that we will never fail. Love never fails when it is appointed in us.

[clickToTweet tweet="Human love fails, but God’s love never fails." quote="Human love fails, but God’s love never fails."]

I challenge you to be lowly, be humble.

Be love instead.

You never know who God may bring your way to show love to.

Maybe we should add that to the parent manual.

Giving God Control

How many of you remember the ViewMaster?  If you were a child of the 70’s and 80’s you remember it being one of the coolest toys out there. You could see different places and stories coming to life, all in 3-D. To get to the next screen, all you had to do was pull that lever down and it would show you the next scene. Scene by scene, each one telling the story.

Every scene giving you a glimpse of what the future held and how the story would end.

view-master
We want our life like that. A life where we can go from scene to scene knowing what's going to happen next or being prepared for the good and the ugly. We want to see the house where we will live, if our bank accounts stay dry or are they finally “running over”?  We want to see what our kids end up doing in life. Do they end up being a Christ-follower or do all our prayers go in vain?

We anxiously want to pull the lever. We want to get to the next scene. We want to see what God has next for us, yet wanting the option to look ahead so we know if we are doing this thing called “life” correctly.

Oh, but by faith.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”. The one word we wrestle with the most is that word certain. Some of you reading this right now I am sure had plans for your life to go a certain way. Instead you got answers you were not hoping for or things didn't go the way you thought they would.

Here is my challenge to you today. If you want to have a faith that is certain, a faith that looks into the ViewMaster and only sees the scene in front of them, and a lever only God can pull, then here are five things we need to do to give God total control:

Giving God Control

Timing. God gives us hopes and dreams for certain things to happen in our lives, but He doesn't always allow us to see the exact timing of His plan. Although frustrating, not knowing the exact timing is often what keeps us in the program. There are times when we might give up if we knew how long it was going to take, but when we accept God's timing, we can learn to live in hope and enjoy our lives while God is working on our problems. When you look at Hebrews 11, you see familiar names, like, Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, Samson, and Rahab. What did they do? They became certain of one thing – God’s timing is always perfect.

Faith. We need to give God a 2 Corinthians 5:7 kind of faith – “We live by faith, not by sight”. All those times things didn’t go our way, know God’s plan is greater.  Know that He may have said no to what you long for and instead has something greater for you. Faith takes the limits off of what God can do.

Patience. Patience. Patience. Let’s not be like our kids and ask for things expecting them to happen now. We live in a now society. We want things now. We want our prayers answered now. We want to get out of debt now. We want to get healed now.  God doesn’t work in the now, He works in the waiting.

Trust. Trusting God is simply believing that He loves you, He’s good, He has the power to help you, He wants to help you, and He will help you. Christians are called believers, but many times, we are more like unbelieving believers. We trust our friends, the bank, the stock market or the government more than we trust God and His Word. In John 15:5, Jesus says that apart from Him, we can do nothing. We need to lean on Him for help with everything in our lives.

Pride. When we realize that we can’t fix a situation ourselves we begin to understand how little control we have over what happens to us in life. Humility must remove the prideful independence of our heart. Removing the worldly illusion that we are self-reliant, a master of our own destiny, and in total-control.

When life isn’t going the way we planned it, may it be a reminder that we are reliant on the Lord for all things. The truth is every breath we take is by the grace of God. Every good thing we have – our friends, the clothes on our back, the food on our plate, the money in the bank – is a gift from God.

Let Him surprise you in the next scene.

 

 

What Is Real Happiness

Lately, I’ve been asking myself this question, “What makes me happy?” Is it my relationship with God?

Assurance there is enough money in the bank?

Knowing that my kids are serving Christ?

Date nights with my husband?

My ministry, my work?

how to be happy
I’ve been reading The Happiness Project written by Gretchen Rubin.  She talks about being on a bus, and asking herself “What do I want from life, anyway?” She responded, “I want to be happy.”  She calls her “first commandment” – Be Gretchen.  It is simply taking your strengths and weaknesses, your likes and dislikes and being ok with your limitations.

You can read an excerpt here.

It is time for me to Be Michelle.

I’m not saying I don’t like who I am or what my life is about. I do simply not want to just pursue the future, but be me in the midst of it.

I want to Be Michelle.

Do I have dreams and aspirations? Yes. We all should no matter how old we get. We should never stop dreaming.

Where I think we get tired is when we pursue the dream over being.

Do I want to go to Spain, speak Spanish, and eat paella? Absolutely.

Will I ever? Maybe.

Do I want to travel the world and see God’s wonderful creation? Yes.

Will I get to? I don’t know.

Do I wish my bank account was full and I didn’t have to worry about the month or the year ahead, sometimes? Of course.

Will I get to? Don’t know.

But, what happens if we stop pursuing and just start being?

What happens if we just start being who God has created us to be?

Can you Be ____________? (insert your name)

Think of your childhood, what did you enjoy? What made you laugh, smile, or get excited? What made you happy?

As Christians, we call this the goodness of God.

A.W. Tozer in The Knowledge of the Holy writes, “By His nature He is inclined to bestow blessedness and He takes holy pleasure in the happiness of His people”.

God wants us to be happy. He wants us to have joy. He desires for us to be who He created us to be.

But, joy and happiness are two different things.

WORLD’S DEFINITION

The words happiness and joy are used interchangeably, and we often view them as having the same meanings.

Happiness: is defined as a state of well-being and contentment based on good fortune.

Joy: is defined as a vivid emotion of great delight or happiness.

GOD’S DEFINITION

According to the Bible, if we seek to know God and discover his plan for our lives, we will find the happiness that has eluded us for so long. In other words, happiness does not come from pursuing it, but from pursuing Him, because “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!” (Psalm 144:15 NKJV). God built us to turn to him and find our fulfillment, our contentment and our happiness in a relationship with Him.

“Happiness is dependent on outward circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is internal and constant. As believers, we have an unlimited source of joy through Jesus Christ. We shouldn’t be as concerned about happiness which is dependent on outward circumstances. We should have joy in the Lord based on an internal constant – our relationship with Him.” – Larry Jones

Be the internal you, so you can be the external hands and feet of Christ with a smile on your face and joy in your heart.

Be _____________.

Join The Launch Of Perspectives : The Mom Experience

Launch website
In April, I did some video interviews with 8 of my closest friends.  I had the idea of recording conversations with them as we talked about being a mom. Interviews of  a friend that just recently adopted, a friend that is in the midst of raising teenagers, a friend that is a pastor of a church, alongside her husband, and raising some incredible “PK’s”, and the list goes on.  The idea was to each day bring an interview on this website leading into Mother’s Day.  But, how many know God’s ideas are always bigger. On June 15, we will launch something that has been dear to my heart. As I have traveled to speak in different parts of the country, I have heard countless stories from mothers. Stories of tragedies and triumphs, stories of faith and perseverance either in a situation raising their toddler or of a circumstance they had no control over.

Hearing these stories changed my outlook. It changed the way I think, at times. It gave me a new perspective.

Just recently, a large church produced a video. They asked the question to several moms, “Describe yourself as a mother.” On screen, one by one, they said words like – perfectionist, doubts about my ability, struggle with my temper, I wish I knew how to, I wish I was more confident, and I want them to know how much I love them.

They asked the moms to come back, sit down and see what their kids had to say about them. With tears down these mothers’ eyes, they heard - my mom is - totally awesome, she’s fun to snuggle with, she’s pretty, funny, unique, and that’s why I love her so much. Words like she’s my heart because she’s the closest to me and my mommy’s my hero.

Perspectives will be a place that allows you to see things differently and the ability to learn from each other as we listen to what others have experienced.

Friends, I cannot tell you how excited I am about this.

Through story, my hope is we can give you a place that shapes your own perspective.  Sometimes the perspective we have over our own situation looks differently when we hear another’s perspective.

Either through a video interview, a podcast, or a blog post, you will hear story after story from real moms about a real God that makes Himself known in all of it.

Perspectives will be a place where stories will dare you to take the next step. Ever thought about adoption, but never knew the faith it entails? Maybe you’re raising teenagers and feel like everything the world says about them scares you or maybe you’re a brand new mom and doubt yourself.

But, what if there was a place where you could go that you could hear from other moms, real moms, which changed all that? A place where your everyday mom had fought a fight yet finished her race. What if real moms, with real stories came and shared what God did in their family, their finances, their whatever, yet you got excited and it grew your Faith in Christ because you left without a shadow of doubt knowing He could do it for you too.

This is the goal for Perspectives: The Mom Experience.

That you would leave differently than the mother you were before.  That you will feel dependent on Christ instead of yourself, because you have a confidence in Him.

The excitement is building because we want to bring you amazing stories of real moms – whether they are wives, professionals, celebrities, and everyday people – who have had life-changing encounters with God.

This is what Perspectives: The Mom Experience will be and it launches on June 15.

Sign up to be a part and get a sneak peek video interview featuring Lisa Whittle and be the first to know details about the launch.

We sometimes choose the most locked up, dark versions of the story, but what a good friend does is turn on the lights, open the window, and remind us that there are a whole lot of ways to tell the same story. – Shauna Niequist

[clickToTweet tweet="Join the launch and receive a sneak peak video interview from our experience raising teenagers." quote="Join the launch and receive a sneak peak video interview with our experience raising teenagers."]

Stop Asking God What To Do

Prayer
God, what am I supposed to do with my life? God, what have you called me to do?

God, what is my purpose?

Sound familiar?

I used to pray the same thing.

Over and over again.

It seemed like every day I would wonder what God had for my life.

Then I stopped.

In December of last year, I changed my prayer. I stopped asking God what it was He had for me, what His purpose was for my life, and I began to just say:

God, I have nothing to offer you, but me. I have no money, no title, and no position. I have no ministry, nothing.  I only have me to give you.

In His sweet Spirit He whispered, “That is all I ever wanted”.

From that moment, I have had the privilege to do some incredible things in the last 3-4 months since offering up myself to Him. Sure, I’ve had some amazing things happen throughout my life; missions, ministry, etc., but there is something about God clearly opening doors and shedding light on the paths that bring your eyes upon Him and Him alone.

I wonder how many of us are praying those same words - the “What Am I” prayers.

The ones that can leave us empty and wondering.

Unfulfilled and not at peace.

God wants us to live a full life. One that He can use. A life that is offered back to Him.

When we offer ourselves fully to Him with no agenda, no trades, just a true sacrifice of us; watch Him put you in places you would have never imagined. Watch God open doors that would never have been opened.

[clickToTweet tweet="Stop worrying about what you’re called to do and start worrying about what God needs you to do." quote="Stop worrying about what you’re called to do and start worrying about what God needs you to do."]

Stop counting yourself out as not good enough or not qualified enough.

Last I read God was for you and not against you. That you are the head and not the tail, above only and not beneath.

God doesn’t make mistakes. 

Well, don’t get me started. I may end up preaching!

The Thing That Has Me Afraid...

Can I get honest? I’m scared.

Maybe the right word is afraid.

I’m afraid.

I don’t have a perfect starting paragraph that is going to grab you. I’ve deleted it and started over several times already.

Here is what I am going to do; I’m just going to write.

Holy Spirit
I’m afraid we are missing the people in front of us. I’m not talking about the people that we live with, our kids and/or our spouses, if we don’t have that right then stop reading and make that right first.

I’m talking about our fellow Christian brothers and sisters. I’m talking about those that have heard about Jesus, but can’t decide if they want to get out of the boat and follow Him. These last few months after speaking at different events, I had the privilege of all sorts of women come to me and tell me they were going through some difficult times in their marriage, how they were struggling with addictions, or even how they feel like they are not good enough for God’s love.

Women that are dealing with their present moment or their past experiences and can’t seem to get free for the future.

And to tell you the truth I hate it!

I hate that women in our churches are feeling unloved and unwanted. I hate that women in our neighborhoods or at our schools are feeling not good enough or unqualified. I hate that women in our workplaces or even sitting next to us are feeling worthless and ashamed.

Here we have all the big lights, big platforms and big speakers. We see pictures of thousands of women that gather in one place and call it a Women’s Conference or Retreat. We see social media blow up with just the perfect words of inspiration that is worthy of a repost or a share.

Yet, we have a woman that has lost a child or another who has been through a heart-wrenching accident that leaves their child permanently altered. We have women that are in abusive homes. We have young girls struggling with sexual abuse from a father. We have death, and pain, and tears falling down eyes and yet, we see women gathering in thousands while God is seeing the very one that needs an encounter from Him.

So maybe this is just me, but I’m pledging.

I don’t want it.

I don’t want the lights, I don’t want the big platform, I just want God.

I am tired of seeing hurt where there shouldn’t be.

Yes, we live in this world, but we are not part of it.  We are separate from it.

I’m not saying we won’t go through difficult times. Lord, knows I’ve had my share.

But, I refuse to have this voice God has given me to bring attention on myself.  I want nothing to do with it if that is the case.  I want to walk into a room where women leave differently than when they came in.  They leave knowing who they are in Christ. They leave knowing that His promises over their life have and will not change. That He will not fail you. That He does Love You no matter what you have done. Having a confidence that you are who God says you are.

I want none of it. I want none of me and All of Him.

Let's start a revival. Who will join me?

From Runaways to High School

There is a love/hate relationship that this California girl has with Tennessee this time of year. It seems to have split personality when it comes to spring and summer. Where there never are enough 70 degree days before that god-awful humidity sets in. Can I make you a deal summer?

summer
Can you go a little slower this time?

There are these twins that came into our world and rocked it. Now it seems they only have four more years in those two full size beds upstairs.

image
It seems like yesterday when they told us, “you not only have one, but two babies”. Oh, the look on your daddy’s eyes. I’m still not sure if it was a look of joy or a look of dollar signs; how one turned into three suddenly.

Twins
twins
I wish time stood still. In a world-wind, we had your sister one year later.

Four little ones in two and half years.

family photo
As your momma, I wanted to savor each moment. Spend quality time with each one and listen intently to your coos and watch every dance you four danced to the Wiggles. At least that is what every book I read said I needed to do.

Twin
It seemed like yesterday, you two were running away from home at three years old. You, young lady, convincing your brother to run away. Having the neighbor see both of you in your diapers asking you where you are going. “We’re going to Grandma’s house”, you said. ”Ok, where is Grandma’s house?” and your sweet answer, “Colorado”. I’ll never forget the look on the neighbors face when she brought you guys back to me as I’m on the phone with your dad in the backyard that had no fence, screaming at him, “I lost the twins!”

Don’t forget that neighbor lived two and half blocks away.

All of this has happened so fast.

It seemed like yesterday you two were dancing, playing, acting silly, laughing like only a sweet two year old could and now here we are finishing up your last weeks of middle school.

daughter
fourth of july
High School.

These next four years are going to be filled with so many memories.

New and long-lasting friendships.

Drivers Permits.

Licenses.

Friday Night Football.

Meeting your friends at In-n-Out after the game.

Boy crushes.

Girl crushes.

Riding in your Jeep with the top down and heading to the beach with your friends.

Homecomings.

and Prom.

There will be times sweet girl where you hang out at the pool with your friends. Tropicana Oil SPF 4 on your skin and Sun-In in your hair just talking about who likes who and have “can you believe it” moments. Wait that was me.

For you sweet boy, as you play football and have all those girls wishing you would catch them and not the football sometimes, just let them know that they have to get permission from your momma.

middle school
These next four years will have its ups and downs.

Each of them a memory for the taking in your own photo album.

Memories that will last a lifetime.

Memories that will be wonderful and special.

Memories that will make time stand still.

That’s what mine does for me.

So, Summer, let’s make a deal?

Can you go a little slower this time and I’ll make you all the strawberry pies you want?

strawberry pie

Holy Week Day 8: He's Alive!

Jesus is Alive! He has Risen!

morning sky
The tomb is empty.

The blood that was shed for you and me was for this moment.

The moment where we are redeemed and fellowship between us and our Heavenly Father takes place.

He paid it all!

Jesus is alive

THE RESURRECTION

We hold so close to our hearts The cross where Jesus died But so much more than the blood-stained cross Is that Jesus came back to life

The stone's been rolled away The tomb lay open and bare They looked for Him, and then the angel said That He is no longer here

Oh what joy they must have felt To see Him just once more To eat with Him, to drink with Him To receive Him back as Lord

So much did He accomplish Through His death upon the cross And in His rising from the dead He reconciled us back to God

Nothing else could bridge the gap That sin had wrenched apart Now we can freely go to God And receive Christ in our hearts

By M.S.Lowndes

The Holy Week Series

Sunday Day One: The Hammer or The Branch

Monday Day Two: The Fig Tree

Tuesday Day Three: The Pharisees

Wednesday Day Four: The Betrayal

Thursday Day Five: The Upper Room

Friday Day Six: The Blood

Saturday Day Seven: The Secret Disciple

Holy Week Day 7: The Secret Disciple

“It is finished! It is finished!” The angels must have shouted with joy in Heaven knowing in that moment the whole world can now be saved!

The Son of God had the victory; He had died to make payment, and through Him all flesh might die and live eternally.

 As You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. {John 17:2}

The work was complete;  the world was saved!

Jesus died
But, let’s not leave Him on that Cross.

Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man and a member of the Sanhedrin, went boldly to Pilate and begged for Jesus’ body that he might bury it.  He was just a man, he was an honorable member of the council, yet what I find interesting is that here is Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all join in telling us the sacred act of Joseph.

These men, these disciples, left Jesus to suffer and as in an act of forgiveness and humility they pen words of possibly the agony they felt  knowing it was Joseph of Arimathea, the secret disciple, asking for the Lord’s body and not one of them. All His outspoken disciples suddenly had nothing to say and fled; all had forsaken Him, some had denied Him, and Judas betrayed Him; and it was left for Joseph of Arimathea to go to Pilate, and himself alone, surround our Savior.

It was the death of Jesus that brought out Joseph of Arimathea, the secret disciple.

May we never be secret Christians.

May we live for Him.

May we be an extension of His voice.

This is the least we can do.

Pilate gives orders to make sure that Jesus is dead.

Roman soldiers head towards Calvary and Joseph with some servants following behind them.

We see them standing at the Cross and a soldier just goes up and pierces the Son of God’s side with a spear, and the prophecy from Zechariah was settled:

In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness. {Zechariah 13:1}

The soldier drives it in, and His blood covers the spear.

Yes, Christ’s blood covered sin.

Yes, God, in mercy, covered sin.

Now, Joseph and Nicodemus take down His body and you see the act of Love take place.

Washing the blood from His head only to find a blood-stained cloth richly-soiled with grace.

They draw those nails out carefully from His hands – from His feet, and they take that mangled and bruised body down and wash it.

Wash Him. Every drop of blood removed. 

Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.{Isaiah 1:18}

At this moment the roaring wind, which had been going all evening, had nearly grabbed everyone's attention.

But know this, it is only the wind. 

The devil doesn't want you to hear this story of Jesus’ dying love for you; he doesn't want you to hear and be saved.

 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. {Romans 10:9}

Give attention to the scene before you.

The washing of blood from a broken body. 

The nails stained with blood.

A crown that has mangled flesh for hours.

Let the wind go, but the scene of the Cross stay.

We see them take the body down and wrap Him in fine linen.

We see Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, another secret disciple, anoint our Savior’s body with ointment, and then the procession to the tomb.

A stone cut from that rock, and there our Jesus lay that day.

We know Sunday is coming.  Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus only heard.

Is His dying for us enough?

Is it enough for us to say from the rooftops, “He died for you and for me!”

Is it enough to see the act of unending Love given freely to us and a grace that flows from it?

We know Sunday is coming.

But, was Friday enough for us in the silence of Saturday?

The Holy Week Series

Sunday Day One: The Hammer or The Branch

Monday Day Two: The Fig Tree

Tuesday Day Three: The Pharisees

Wednesday Day Four: The Betrayal

Thursday Day Five: The Upper Room

Friday Day Six: The Blood

 

Holy Week Day 6: The Blood

In the early hours as Peter, James and John are still sleeping and Jesus wrestling in prayer, a group of men come to the garden. Holding lanterns and torches to see through the fog, it was as if they were hunting for someone.

Blood of Jesus
Judas steps out from the group of men carrying out his betrayal.

He kissed Him.

But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" {Luke 22:48}

You wonder if He wanted to ask him other questions.

What have I done that you would betray me?

Was I ever unkind; have I ever lied or deceived you; have I ever betrayed you?

Why Judas do I receive this treatment from you?

The men seized Him and took those innocent hands that had raised to bless others, that had brought bread to the hungry, and touched the leper and made them clean, touched the blind and would see, touched the ears and the hearts so many could hear and feel His love – those innocent hands, they took them and bound them.

Jesus
He gave Himself up as a willing sacrifice and was obedient to their will.

As they entered the temple of the Sanhedrin. It was as though you could hear the drool from their mouths.

They were thirsty for His blood.

Standing trial, they accuse Him of hearing Him say, “He would tear down the temple and He could raise it up again in three days”.

It was enough to make the high priest, Caiaphas tremble.

I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!

Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” {Matthew 26:63-64}

The verdict – death

It was still Thursday night…it may have been midnight.

And Peter – he was there- would he be loyal?

Only a few days before he had promised to stand by his Lord…to the very end.

Why would Peter not be brave and have the courage to stand before the world and own Jesus as His Lord?

Would we?

That very night Jesus was in the Sanhedrin courts, Peter denied Him with a curse, and swore he never knew Him.

It seemed there was no hand to defend Him; no hand to help Him.

That night He was in the hands of His enemy.

And so was Judas, as he hung himself from the sting of his own guilt.

Friday has arrived.

Jesus must now go before Pilate.

“I find no fault with this man.”

The people kept screaming. Thirsty for His blood.

Poor Pilate! He hadn’t the moral courage to stand firm.

“Send Him to Herod.”

Oh, but Herod. The one that just had John killed, would gladly have a taste of the same blood.

Herod must have thought, “this is the King, John was talking about”.

They took Jesus and stripped his clothes and put a scarlet robe on Him.

Twisted a vine of thorns and placed it on the temples of His head.

CrownOfThorns
You could hear Herod’s soldiers' mocking…”Hail, King of the Jews!”

As they bring Him back to Pilate, not one of His disciples stood up for Him.  His friends that were shouting “Hosannah, to the Son of David,” now cried, “Crucify Him.”

Pilate wanted the release of Jesus. His conscience and his wife instructed him to.

Instead, he devised a plan… release a prisoner in exchange.

The crowd standing. They see the soldiers bringing out one with his hands dripping with blood of a murder, and another who had all His life healed the sick, given life, and done good.

We want Barabbas to be released the people screamed.

And then Pilate gave Jesus to be scourged.

“a whip or lash, especially for the infliction of punishment or torture– Websters Dictionary

His wrists bound and fasted to a post.

His back bare.

A nine lashes of cat o’ nine tails.

Thirty-nine sharp pieces of steel pulling from His flesh.

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. {Isaiah 53:5}

He was wounded for you and for me.

May this be our reality.

It was the God of Heaven that was beaten for us.

Jesus beaten

Blow after blow to that innocent body.

And after they beat Him, they didn’t take a first aid kit and stop the bleeding.

They didn’t take oil and ointment and pour it on His wounds.

Instead, they took the crown of thorns that were removed and put them back on His head.

The treatment the Son of God received!

And those wounds, they were made for us; He bore His stripes for you and for me.

You can see the blood trickle down that innocent head, down every crease along His face, and over His body. And all for us!

They remove that purple robe and replace it with His own garment, and they lift up His cross and lay it upon Him.

It’s not one of those shiny gold necklaces we see or a cross set with diamonds, this was a rugged, heavy cross made out of a tree.

They lay crosses on two thieves as if the devil wanted to blacken the name of Jesus. Placed between two thieves carrying their own crosses.

Then that moment happens, we see Jesus stumble and fall as though the sins of the world are too heavy to carry. They lay it upon Simon as the Lamb of God goes up to Calvary, like a sheep to His slaughter.

They’ve arrived – Golgotha.

With hammers and nails in their hands, they stretch His arms across that Cross. Those innocent hands pierced as you hear the hammer become one with the nail.

image
Longer spikes driven through both feet.

It was as though God our Father was nailed to that Cross.

As the cross was lifted, heaven and earth met.

Sure, He could have called all the angels of God against His murderers or called down fire out of heaven to consume every one of them. But no, instead He willed His flesh to hang there between them.

Then we hear the act of forgiveness given. Not the one that will be given freely, but the one that holds nothing against the other.

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do. {Luke 23:34}

One prisoner asks, “Lord, remember me when you come to your kingdom.”

As blood drips from His lips, love was spoken, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”

Jesus patiently endured.

We hear the cry from the Cross, “It is finished.”

The Holy Week Series

Sunday Day One: The Hammer or The Branch

Monday Day Two: The Fig Tree

Tuesday Day Three: The Pharisees

Wednesday Day Four: The Betrayal

Thursday Day Five: The Upper Room

Holy Week Day 5: The Upper Room

It’s Thursday afternoon, the upper room is being prepared and we see thirteen men coming down the street. Every eye is upon them. Men, women, and children are running out of their houses to see those men. What if we as strangers ask, “Who are these men?” and the people tell us, “Why, that’s the Galilean prophet and his apostles, from the city of Capernaum.”

We look upon them with amazement. We have heard how that man has given sight to the blind, how He has healed the lepers, given bread to the hungry, and even raised the dead.

Our curiosity takes us and we follow the tribe.

They go along the streets, and come to the home of that “certain man” and begin the flight of stairs to the upper room.

Let’s go up those stairs with them.

Upper Room
We find them there in a guest room, the Son of Man seated with His twelve.

He was soon to taste the bitter cup, to taste death for every man, to lay down His innocent life for sin.

His soul was troubled, and as He sits there at that table in the upper room He lets out the secret of His heart, and tells them that that night He is going to be betrayed by one of them. They look at one another, and one says, “Lord, is it I?” “No.” And another says, “Master, is it I?” “No,” and they one after another ask the question until it is Judas’ turn to answer.

The betrayal from the day before comes to a head at that moment, turns to Him as though it was the devil himself asking, “Is it I?

Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly. {John 13:27}

You could have heard a pin drop in that room. Judas’ time of repentance had come and instead he stood up and ran out.

You could hear him running down those stairs and into that dark night.

That night the Son of man was to be betrayed by a man.

He sold Him. Sold Him for the price of a slave as was promised.

But while Judas was finalizing the sale of his Master, Jesus was speaking tender words to His disciples.

You can feel the love He had for His disciples as He spent these last three years with them. They walked with Him and heard those beautiful parables; they had seen Him raise people from the dead, had seen Him cure the deaf and the blind. They had been in His presence for three years, and now they were about to be separated from Him.

It was at the moment Jesus whispered to them,

Let not your hearts be troubled… {John 14:1}

They started with 13 and finished with 12 in the upper chamber.

Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. {John 14:1-3}

There was our Savior in that bitter, dark hour, trying to cheer and comfort the tribe. Promising them a Helper that will be with them forever. {John 14:16}

And then He utters those beautiful words in prayer in John 17. He poured His heart out to God in prayer. He not only prayed for His disciples, that had stood firmly by His side, but prayed for His enemies.

John 17
He longed for our knowing of His Father and Him as His Son.

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. {John 17:3}

Closing it with, “the hour of my departure is at hand.”

And then He gathered the eleven around Him and they started back down the steps, out of the house and through the streets of Jerusalem.  As they continued through the Valley of Jehoshaphat and to the garden of Gethsemane.

You wonder in awe what was going on in the minds of His disciples as they were going through the Valley?

How many times do we give up in the valley with our trust, our faith, and even His purpose for our lives?

Yet, like Jesus, we can meet God in the garden.

And there He took Peter, James and John with Him and told them to wait here. He departed a short distance from them, fell on His knees and prayed.

The cold night has fallen this Thursday and you can hear Him in that garden; you can hear His shattering cry: “Father, let this cup pass from me if it be your will.”

It was as if you could hear the agony in His voice. The drops of sweat leaving His brow as great drops of blood as each one hit the ground.

You could hear the Son of God’s voice not only physically agonizing, but mentally, because the sins of the world lay on Him.

And God the Father turning His face away from Him because God could not look upon sin.

He was sin made flesh.

In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ {Colossians 2:11}

The Father could not take away the cup. He had to leave Him to drink the very filthiness of you and me.

And Peter, James, and John?

They are fast asleep as our Lord suffers for us and them.

 The Holy Week Series

Sunday Day One: The Hammer or The Branch

Monday Day Two: The Fig Tree

Tuesday Day Three: The Pharisees

Wednesday Day Four: The Betrayal