Sunday, May 19, 2013

Behold the Risen Christ

"Behold the risen Christ,
His grace and mercy free.
Once death, now glorious life.
Oh what joy, oh what joy! 
He found me."

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday

Happy Easter! I hope your day has been full of joy, for He is risen!

Today we celebrate, bringing glory to God and the miracles worked in Christ Jesus. Our church service this morning was the perfect picture of "a multitude keeping festival," and had I the presence of mind between singing and praying and celebrating, I'd have remembered to capture a moment of it for you. Instead, I offer you this -- one of my favourite passages of the New Testament.
"Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes."
This moment -- panic, loss, heartache. He had died, His spirit gone, and now they had lost even His body. For as yet, they did not understand.
"But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them,“They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her,“Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher)."
But then, this. This moment, with this woman. I hear the amused confusion of the angels, "Woman, why are you weeping?" They're asking her, why are you weeping when you should be laughing? Why are you weeping when you should be rejoicing? But she doesn't yet understand. And then the turn, and I can breathe aloud her exclamation at the moment of recognition with the same awestruck amazement. At "Rabboni!" I feel her heart swell, her hope return. At "Rabboni!" I feel life surge back into this moment. I hear His victory sounding, and death's demise. 

For He is risen indeed. Hallelujah!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Defining Christianity: rejoice

This post is part of a larger series called Defining Christianity. For an introduction to the topic, please click here. To see more posts in this series, click here.

"Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling." -- Psalm 2:11, ESV

"Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!" -- Psalm 32:11, ESV

"But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, "Great is the LORD!"" -- Psalm 40:16, ESV

"Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." -- Matthew 5:11-12, ESV

"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." -- Romans 12:12, ESV

"Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you." -- 2 Corinthians 13:11, ESV

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice." -- Philippians 4:4, ESV

Friday, January 18, 2013

Defining Christianity: hope

This post is part of a larger series called Defining Christianity. For an introduction to the topic, please click here. To see more posts in this series, click here.

"Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you." -- Psalm 33:22, ESV

"But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more." -- Psalm 71:14, ESV

"Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off." -- Proverbs 23:17-18, ESV

"...and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” -- Matthew 12:21, ESV

"Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." -- Romans 5:2-5, ESV

"For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." -- Romans 8:24-25, ESV

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." -- Romans 15:13, ESV

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful." -- Hebrews 10:23, ESV

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Defining Christianity: redeem

This post is part of a larger series called Defining Christianity. For an introduction to the topic, please click here. To see more posts in this series, click here

redeem (verb): to buy back; to recover by payment or other satisfaction; to free from captivity by payment of ransom; to liberate, rescue, save; the opposite of abandon

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer." -- Psalm 19:14, ESV

"Redeem me from man's oppression, that I may keep your precepts." -- Psalm 119:134, ESV

"For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth." -- Job 19:25, ESV

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works." -- Titus 2:11-14, ESV

Defining Christianity: Introduction

There's a special language, a subtle shift of our vocabulary, whenever we talk about our faith. We build a chosen list of our ill-fitting human words, aching to describe the indescribable... seeking words to glorify God, to tell His story, to praise and worship Him.

Does saying that tiny word -- 'awe' -- even begin to describe what we feel when we think of our God? Does 'redeem' do justice to explain what He has done for us? Can five letters hold the full meaning of 'grace' -- or 'mercy'?

Words, simple words, short words full of meaning. Why is our special language, our faith language, riddled with certain words and not others? Do we know what we mean when we use these words -- really know?

I've been seeking to understand these words, to write them on my heart, to sink into their meaning. God meets me there in the pages of my dictionary, opening my eyes in new ways. He leads me back to the pages of my bible where He authors another definition, and I come away amazed and humbled.

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." -- Matthew 7:7-8, ESV

To find more posts on this topic, click here.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I took a little time away from blogging to spend the holiday season with family. I'm re-energized and feeling great, and I'm ready for 2013. (Good thing, too, because it's here!)

I've never really been one for resolutions, but I did make one for this year. My 2013 resolution is to be more genuine. I found that so much of my stress and anxiety was caused by my fear of man, which was greater than my fear of God. I allowed myself to conform to the world instead of staying true to what's written on my heart, because the rejection I experienced through the last few months had hurt too much.

By reading verses such as Romans 8:15-39, I found comfort and was reminded that God is with me through my trials. He is eager for me to cast off my old ways and live the life He has called me to through his son, Christ Jesus. He knows that I will face insults on His account, but he reminds me that such insult is a blessing (1 Peter 4:14). My heart yearns to celebrate in my faith, but my anxieties have prevented me. I have stifled my own light under a basket, stealing glory from God so that I can be accepted again by man (Matthew 5:14-16).

I was a fool, but thanks be to God through Jesus for His grace and mercy! 

New Year's always feels like a fresh start, especially with everyone talking about resolutions, setting new life goals and starting new projects. Even though I know my fresh start came years ago when I rose from my baptism into newness of life with Christ (Romans 6:4), I'm glad for this little restart, and for His word that reminds me to be genuine again. I'm eager to see what God will bring into my life in 2013!