When my daughter was born, my mom told me to soak in every moment because one day I would wish I had them back. I started writing this poem that night and have added to it over the past two and a half years. Our son arrived two weeks ago and as I watch his big sister hold him and love on him, I can’t help but read back over this and remember the night I first became a mom.
Two and a half years ago when our daughter was born, it was like my world collapsed. I assumed the extreme highs and lows were just part of being a new mother, and I had no idea that I was suffering from postpartum depression.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.
– Romans 8:28
I have a tendency to look at verses like Romans 8:28 and see them as conditional: if I am called according to His purpose, then all things will work together for my good. My mind then immediately goes down the path of, “How do I know if I’m called? What if I’ve missed my calling and this verse no longer applies to me?”
Picture this: You’re watching someone prepare for a marathon. They are warming up, stretching, and maybe hopping from one foot to the other in anticipation. The atmosphere is electric. As they take one final deep breath, the gun goes off. Suddenly they bend their knees and leap as far as they can. After landing, they just squat down and jump again as other people run by them.
We would look ridiculous trying to leap our way through an entire marathon, so why do we assume that our faith journey should look that way? We want to experience these huge, defining leaps of faith without realizing that the small steps are just as important.
What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.
But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:50-57
Too often, our relationships sink under the weight of our expectations. We could spend hours talking about why this is the case, but there’s a simple explanation: There is only one who can love us the way we are created to be loved.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” – Jeremiah 31:3
No other love can reach the standard of God’s love. When we tie up our worth in the measure of anyone else’s love, we are selling ourselves short. Not only that, but we are putting a lot of pressure on someone who has no way of living up to who we need them to be.
Imagine a room filled with hundreds of people worshiping at God’s feet, with hands and voices raised in unison. As you watch, people begin vanishing one by one as though they were never there at all.
Several years ago, this was the vision God gave me to show what would happen if I wasn’t obedient to walk in the calling He had placed on my life. At the time, I didn’t fully understand the concept of ministry and I certainly didn’t see how I could be used to help bring people to Jesus. My life was messy and, even though I had been saved, I had no personal relationship with God besides waving hello on Sunday mornings.
All it takes is one glance at any of the news sites to know that our system doesn’t work and our policies need to change in regard to immigration.
My heart aches at the images of children being separated from their parents. I look at them and see my own little girl, who still clings to me when I drop her off at daycare. I can only imagine the fear and panic she would experience if she was forcibly taken away from us.
My heart breaks, but the rest of me is furious.
After my daughter was born, I worked hard for almost a year to get back in shape. I’m now seven months along in my second pregnancy and those abs are nowhere to be seen, touching my toes is a distant memory, shaving my legs is a terrifying mix between Helen Keller and Edward Scissorhands, and waddling is my main mode of transportation.
While it’s difficult to work hard at something only to watch it fade away, I have to remind myself what this season is going to produce: a sweet baby boy who will turn our family of three into a family of four.
One of my favorite ways to make scripture come alive is to put myself in someone’s place so I can try to imagine what they were feeling and experiencing.
In Exodus 3, the Lord says He has seen the suffering of His people and that He is sending Moses to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. All that Moses say in return is, “Who am I that I should go?” followed by, “But what if they ask who sent me?”
And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?”
– Matthew 26:19-22
These verses record the conversation at the Last Supper. I’ve always found it interesting that when Jesus announces one of His disciples is going to betray Him, none of them deny the betrayal or try to protect Him from it. These men had been following Jesus for years at this point, and yet not one of them could confidently say, “I would never betray you!”
Instead, they all asked: “Is it me?”
“Someone’s breakthrough is attached to the testimony you’re too ashamed to share.”
These words hit me like a bucket of ice water. I’m about to be very honest about something I have only told my husband. I love sharing parts of my testimony. I love talking about how God moved in my life when we were told we might not be able to have kids. I love opening up about how God built my faith by leading me through a struggle with postpartum depression, a fear of tithing, and several years of doubting my salvation.
But there’s one part of my testimony that I have always been ashamed of
The concept of “face to face” plays a large role in our culture’s definition of intimacy. Text messages or emails are great, but we still crave that personal interaction; we want to be able to discern the feelings revealed by the face. When we are face to face with someone, we can see love, tenderness, shame, or pain in their expressions—emotions that don’t always come through in other forms of communication.
So how can we have an intimate relationship with our Father when we can never see Him face to face?
Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by this message. I can’t count the number of sermons I’ve heard warning against the dangers of being a “bad” Christian and how it could land you in Hell. I would go so far as to say that this type of sermon was one of the main reasons I grew up doubting my salvation (something I talk about in depth here).
A tithe is typically regarded as the first 10% of your income. The first tithe occurred in Genesis 14 when Abram responded to God’s blessing by giving Melchizedek, the king of Salem, a tenth of his possessions.
“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”
– Genesis 14:18-20
I was recently challenged by something Pastor John Gray said in one of his sermons. It was only one sentence, but it was powerful:
“Everything in your life has a throne on it.”
Who are you putting on the throne in your life? It’s easy to say that God is on the throne, but what happens when you really break it down?
“So what you’re saying is…”
Early in our marriage, this quickly became my husband’s least favorite phrase. In the middle of an argument, he would tell me that I was misunderstanding what he was trying to say and I would respond with, “So what you’re saying is I’m stupid?”
Scripture is very clear that we should not fear, with over 350 verses urging us to be fearless. But how does God respond to fear when it springs up?
What does it mean to be a servant of God and a slave to righteousness? The idea sounds conflicting in nature to our understanding of freedom. Scripture tells us that we have been set free in Christ (Galatians 5:1) and that we are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:6). Yet Romans continues on in verse 18-22 to say that we are slaves to righteousness and willing slaves or servants to God.
So what does it mean? Have we been set free or are we servants?
It only took one sentence to break my heart. I don’t mean that it just made me incredibly sad, or that it hurt for a few minutes—I mean that it literally shattered my heart. It made me stop and re-evaluate all of the things I was taking for granted in my own life.
I work for a Christian international relief organization, and some of the work we do is in countries that are closed to the Gospel. In several of these countries, Christians aren’t allowed to gather, they’re not allowed to own Bibles, and they’re not allowed to speak the name of Jesus. We had a guest visiting from one of these countries, and for the first time he was invited to church. After the service, he had tears streaming down his face as he said, “This must be what Heaven is like.”