Archives for March 2013
Yes it does.
Even when …
fig trees are barren, and
merchants swindle pilgrims, and
the people who waved palm branches are the same ones who will cry out, “Crucify!”
the cornerstone is rejected, and
Caesar’s coin is held up as a test, and
a widow marrying her dead husband’s six brothers is some type of holy entrapment.
In the midst of …
unanswered questions, and
seven woes, and
the gathering gloom of the certain destruction of Jerusalem … O Jerusalem.
With the certainty of
wars and rumors of wars, and
tribulation, and putting to death, and
falling away, and
cold love, and
lawlessness, and lawlessness, and lawlessness.
blood dripping prayer.
stirred up testimony.
And “Prophesy!” and
a thrice crowing rooster.
Savior is bound,
the betrayer hangs, and
Pilate washes his hands.
Barabbas is freed, and
blood stains the people’s hands, and
the Savior is stripped, and
crowned with thorns.
gall mixes with wine, and
nails pierce hands, and
the hammer pounds hard, “This is Jesus, King of the Jews.”
“Come down from the cross!”
“Let God deliver him now!”
the sinless one filled up like a drink offering with sin, and sin, and sin.
Yours, and mine, and ours.
So very, very alone.
Lighting splits, and
“It is finished!” opens the way into the holiest, for always.
and a cold, hard tomb is sealed shut and guarded.
Yes it does.
Hope reigns when
and the angel descends,
and in joyful strength he rolls back the stone and takes a seat.
guards fall like dead men,
and women’s fear turns to joy,
and they fall to His feet and worship, and worship, and worship.
Yes it does.
Last week I received an email. One of my daughters was about to receive rejection notice. The sender wanted to let me know first so that I could decide how to best tell her. The email clearly stated that she was being rejected because of the unusually large number of applicants.
That’s nice, and all. But still … she wasn’t chosen.
I called my daughter to sit with me while the house was quiet and the coffee was brewing. I opened up my Bible and read to her:
We talked about her week. It had already been challenging. We talked about trusting in God, drawing strength from God, and even finding joy in God in times of famine.
And then I told her, “I have another challenge to bring to you.”
She looked in my eyes, and she knew. “I didn’t get in, did I.”
I shook my head. And her eyes pooled and spilled over. Mine did too. I drew her into my arms like a little girl, and just held her.
After a while, I asked, “Can you tell me what you’re thinking?”
Her answer cut deeply. “I just wonder why I’m not good enough.”
Every mother wants to refute this statement.
- “You ARE good enough.”
- “There has to be a mistake.”
- “I’ll call on Monday and fix it.”
But the fact is, she had been rejected. For reasons beyond me, they had not chosen my daughter.
Rather than run too quickly from the pain of the moment and the reality of the rejection, I said, “I understand. I have been rejected for so many things. And it hurts. It hurts deeply.”
We just settled into that for a little while.
And then I drew on my deep conviction that God is great, and God is good. I pointed her back to trust, and strength, and joy.
I believe God will use this closed door in her life for at least four purposes.
This closed door will help her gain perspective. The door he opens might not be “better” in the way that most people think of better. But it will be better because it’s his open door.
This pain will teach her how to draw more deeply into him , finding comfort from the one who truly rejoices over her with singing.
This message of rejection is part of her journey to discover who she is and whose she is. I couldn’t fix the situation. I couldn’t take away the sting of rejection. The only one who can do that is the one who says “I chose you.” He’s the one who calls her beautiful and accepted and mine.
The door God opens to her will shape her heart for the work he planned for her long ago. In faith, I believe that when she looks back on this situation, she will see that God said “No” to something that seemed right in order to prepare her his plans which will give her a hope and a future.
We’re still in the middle of this story. The rejection still feels a bit raw, and we don’t yet know what the open door is. But I do know that even when the fig tree doesn’t blossom, and there is no fruit on the vine, we can trust in God, rejoice in him, turn to him for strength, comfort, direction.
What about you? Are you feeling the sting of rejection? Or perhaps someone close to you is experiencing rejection. The pain of the moment is real, but will you trust that God could use the closed door for good? I’d love to hear from you! Comment, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with me on Facebook.
This is a guest post is by Amy Carroll. Amy is the director of Proverb 31 Ministries’ Next Step Speaker Services and a member of the ministry’s speaker team. She lives in NC with her 3 favorite guys and a little, red dachshund. You can find Amy on any given day typing at her computer, reading a book, or trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner. Visit Amy at www.amycarroll.org and find out more about the speaker service at www.nextstepspeakerservices.org.
The flight home from India was tough. I went with a heart full of dreams to reach women at our conferences, and I came home with a heart wound tightly with faces and names and stories.
Jesus is opening my heart to those who need to hear about His love, and in small, seemingly insignificant ways I’m trying to share His good news. I’m simply doing cleaning and organizing chores and praying for opportunity to talk about Jesus, the Master Servant. In the meantime, He’s changing me and capturing my heart more and more for Himself and the women for whom He loves and longs.
You may not be able to go to India, but there are women right in your community who you can bless. If your heart is stirred, I’d love to hear from you, and Amy would too. Pop on over to www.amycarrol.com, leave a message right here, or email me at email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you!
I was turning 35 and my sweet friend, Joan, showed up at our house bearing carrot cake and a beautiful orchid.
I was so surprised and felt so loved.
We passed out cake to all the kiddoes and lingered for a while over coffee. Joan prayed for me, as only Joan can pray, and then went on her way.
I basked in the love and admired my orchid. I had never had an orchid before, but I knew they were fragile. So, I googled orchid to find out exactly how to care for my orchid.
1. Find a spot with a little light, filtered is best, and leave it there.
2. Leave it there except when you’re watering it. Once a week flood it in the kitchen sink. Let it drain. And then return it to it’s spot.
3. Feed it weekly, but weakly. Not too much fertilizer.
I cared for my orchid so faithfully, and it was beautiful. I kept it blooming for months. Not a single bloom fell off. That should have been the first clue that something was off…
One day, little fingers, or teeth, I can’t remember which, got hold of one of the leaves. The leaf didn’t break off like normal leaves should. Rather, it just kind of bent. And then I got suspicious.
And then I investigated.
The orchid I had been nurturing for months was silk.
I had been watering and feeding a silk orchid!
This is funny and pitiful enough, but it gets funnier. I called Joan to tell her what I had been doing, and she totally thought she had given me a real orchid as well. And we just laughed and laughed.
For some of you, your faith may be a bit like my orchid. You may think it’s real. You may even try to nurture it by going through the motions of going to church, even reading your Bible a little, and praying.
But going to church, reading your Bible, praying … is just like watering a silk orchid, if you don’t have a REALationship with Jesus.
In my Young Life days, we’d ask the high school students, “Does sitting in a garage make you a car?”
Of course not. And sitting in church, or reading your Bible, or praying doesn’t make you a Christian.
Without a REALationship with Jesus, all that activity is just religious activity. You’re watering a silk orchid. It’s a fake. And at some point, crisis will hit and you’ll discover that your faith isn’t real.
A REALationship with Jesus is just what it sounds like. A relationship. Jesus was, and is a real person. He died on the cross, but he was raised from the dead, and is now reigning and ruling at the right hand of the Father.
Jesus is real. He’s alive. And he would love to have a REALationship with you.
If you’ve been watering a silk orchid with all your religious activity and you’re ready for a REALationship with Jesus, I’d love to come alongside you.
I had been “Queen of the Fakers” until I understood that being a Christian didn’t happen by default. I had thought I had a place in heaven because I was a pretty good girl, and I had a pastor for a grandfather. But then, crisis hit. And I had to face that fact that I wasn’t a good girl. Not at all. As painful as it was, God used crisis to show me that I needed more than religious activity. I needed a REALationship with Jesus.
I’d love to hear your story and walk alongside you. If you think you may have been watering a silk orchid and you’re ready for a REALationship with Jesus, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll set up a time to talk by phone. Or if you’re within driving distance of Raleigh, NC, I’d love to meet with you over a latte or lunch and hear your story.
Do you have a story like mine? Did it take crisis to help you stop watering a silk orchid and get into a REALationship with Jesus? Start the conversation by leaving a comment. Or I’d love to get an email from you or connect with you on Facebook or Twitter.
As much as possible, I joined in by web stream through the wonders of modern technology.
Now, I am a Beth Moore fan, but I’m not a Beth Moore groupie. However, I loved the message she brought to the 60,000+ young people gathered in Atlanta.
I loved the message because of the content, but also because of one of my favorite Finley Family Traditions.
In this message, Beth presents the Passover. She uses the elements of the Passover Feast – the cups, the matzoh, the bitter herbs, the haroset … to show how Jesus met every hope expressed in the Passover with his crucifixion and resurrection.
As I listened, I thought about Sara Maria listening. I could imagine her nodding along and saying “YES!” because she has experienced the Passover in our family year after year after year.
I also thought about the thousands of young people who were getting this for the very first time. And later when I talked with Sara Maria she told me that this talk opened up many conversations. Because she had learned the significance and the symbolism of the Passover through years of repetition, she was able to come alongside others as they tried to absorb the deep truths.
And so I listened and loved the truths of what Beth shared. And I prayed for the young people as they listened.
But when Beth got to 28:11, I was riveted. She got to the “Dayenu,” which means “It would have been enough.”
LEADER: If the Lord had merely rescued us, but had not punished the Egyptians…
ALL: It would have been enough!
LEADER: If He had only destroyed their gods, but had not parted the Red Sea…
ALL: It would have been enough!
LEADER: If He had only destroyed our enemies, but had not fed us His food in the desert …
ALL: It would have been enough!
LEADER: If He had only led us through the desert, but had not given us his holy day of rest …
ALL: It would have been enough!
LEADER: If He had only given us His Words and Commandments, but not a Promised Land forever …
ALL: It would have been enough!
All of this freedom, and rescue, and manna, and rest, and words … would not have been enough.
And even more,
If Jesus had been born of a virgin … it would not have been enough.
If He had healed the sick and raised the dead … it would not have been enough.
If He had been scorned, and mocked, spit upon, and bruised … it would not have been enough.
What would possibly be enough?
The Passover answers this question.
This year, our family will gather, as we always do one night during “Holy Week.” We’ll huddle up around our coffee table set with candles, and fancy plates, and fancy glasses. We’ll pass the bitter herbs, and salt water, and haroset. We’ll look for the matzoh, and answer the questions, and repeat “Dayenu,” knowing that it all points to Jesus. Because Jesus was the Passover Lamb who came to take away the sins of the world. Jesus was, and is, and always will be … enough.
If you’d like to begin this tradition with your family, here’s a link to our Simple Christian Passover Celebration. And if you’d like to join in with 60,000 young people and hear Beth’s talk, here’s a link.
Jesus is enough, for your life and mine. If you have questions or a thought to share about the Passover, please email me, email@example.com or leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!
Today I met a new friend for coffee. Our conversation was nothing less than synergistic. We share a passion to see people mobilized for impact in our world. We talked about all the amazing things we, as women after God’s heart, can be doing to bring his love and mercy to the world.
And then she told this story.
“Just the other day I was riding through town with my daughter. I saw a homeless man on the sidewalk. I keep a bunch of fleece blankets in my trunk. And so I pulled over, handed my daughter a $5 bill and got her one of the blankets. I said to my daughter, “Go take the money and the blanket to the man.”
This wasn’t the first time the mom and daughter had been “on mission” right in their community. Rather, it’s part of their lifestyle. The daughter has seen her mom caring for the “least.” She recognized that this man was an image-bearer. And so being the one to give him a warm blanket and a bit of money was natural for her. And, she knew her mom would be watching and would be by her side in an instant … if something went wrong.
But it didn’t. It went very right. My new friend mobilized her daughter for impact.
Do you want to mobilize your kids for impact? Here’s how …
1. Be on mission yourself.
Are you aware of the social justice and humanitarian needs in your own community? Do you know human trafficking statistics? Do you know the places in your town where someone can get a hot meal and a bed for the night? What about your neighborhood? Your children’s school? You honestly can’t take care of every need in your world, but most likely you can do something. Begin each day praying that God will show you what is on his heart in your corner of the world. And then commit to partnering with him to advance his kingdom. Be on mission yourself.
2. Invite your children to join you on mission.
I love the example my new friend set for her daughter. But she did more that set an example. It would have been easy for the mom to have all the fun, but she invited her daughter to come along. Invite your children to join you on mission.
3. Listen to your children when they begin to see the needs of the world around them.
When your children ask about the man by the side of the road, or the girl in their class whose shoes are falling apart, or the woman huddled under the overpass, answer them appropriately, but with honesty. And then consider what you can do to help. As your children become aware of the needs in the world around them, listen to them.
4. Provide resources to enable your children to live out compassion in the world.
I love that this mom has a blanket of fleece blankets at the ready! Here’s a DIY tutorial if you’d like to make some fleece blankets for your trunk. This would be a great Family Night activity. But you could also keep some bottled water, granola bars, coupons to local restaurants, in your trunk as well. Keep resources available to help those in need. Enable your children to live out compassion in the world.
5. Stand beside your children when their heart for the world seems crazy.
I was challenged to embrace the crazy missional heart of my children when my daughter, Sara Maria, asked me, “Can I really ask God for anything?” Be open to the possibility that God may be shaping your children’s hearts beyond what makes sense. Don’t hold back on risky situations. Instead rest in the confidence that the safest place to be is right in the center of God’s will. (Although I don’t think this means “safe”in the way we often think of safe. But that’s a post for another day.) Stand beside your children, even when their heart for the world seems crazy.
When my new friend finished sharing about her daughter and the fleece blankets, I gave her a high-five and said a bit too enthusiastically, right there in Panera, “That’s it!” She was doing what I believe we all should be doing. She was mobilizing her daughter for impact.
But I don’t think she’s the only one doing this. What are you doing to mobilize the kids in your life for impact? Please post your ideas below. I’d love to put together a resource list of your ideas! Of the ideas above, which ones are particularly meaningful to you? Do you have a story to tell or a question to ask? I’d love to hear from you!
But whether our failure is due to our own mistakes, or others… whether it’s because of our sin, the sin of others, or just the reality of living in a sinful world, failure can surely feel like the final word in our lives.
It doesn’t have to be.
The enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) intends for failure to be the final word in your life and mine. But it doesn’t have to be.
Here’s how …
1. Listen to God
Miriam didn’t put her fingers in her ears and sing “La-la-la-la-la.” She came out to the Tent of Meeting and she listened to what God had to say.
When we’re faced with personal failure, whether it’s because of sin or mistakes, we need to put ourselves in a position to listen to God.
For me, as I sat on the beach the week after She Speaks, it meant that as I dug my toes in the sand, I also dug into God’s word, prayed, journaled, cried a bit, and talked to Bill.
Listen to God.
2. Learn from God
But do more than listen, learn. God tells that his discipline is a mark of “sonship.” Many of us, when we hear the word “discipline,” we think of time-out, or doing extra chores, or even a spanking. But discipline is really “disciple-ing.”
When you’re facing failure of any kind, receive the consequences from God as his means of discipling you.
I’m guessing Miriam had plenty of time in her seven days outside the camp to consider how she ended up in this mess.
In my seven days at the beach (a much better alternative than being struck with leprosy and stuck out in the wilderness), I wrote out the lessons I learned while they were still fresh. And remembering the discipline and disciple are at their root one and the same, I rejoiced that my God truly disciples those he loves. (Hebrews 12:5-11)
Learn from God.
3. Look for blessing
I’m thinking about Peter on this one. He failed big-time on the night of Jesus’ trial. He had promised never-ending allegiance to Jesus.
“Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” (Luke 22:33)
But fear kicked in and Peter denied Jesus three times.
But then, on the morning that the earth shook and the stone rolled back, the women saw a young man, an angel, sitting by the place where Jesus had lain. “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. he has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” (Mark 16:1-7)
“Go tell his disciples and Peter.”
In spite of his failure, Peter got the shout-out. I think Jesus did this to let Peter know without a doubt that although he had messed up big-time, failure was not the final word in his life.
Look for blessings.
4. Leave the label
Peter did leave the label. Racing to the tomb, he saw the linen cloths for himself (Luke 24:12).
And then early one morning with the mystery of it all still hovering over them, Peter, John, and several of the other disciples went out fishing. As day was breaking they heard a voice from the shore, “Have you caught any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
“Cast your net on the other side and you’ll find some.”
I see the disciples looking at each other, shrugging their shoulders. “Couldn’t hurt.”
And when they tossed out their net, it filled with so many fish that they couldn’t even haul the net up into the boat.
“It’s the Lord!” shouted John.
Peter was out of that boat in a flash, swimming as only a Galilean fisherman can swim. As he pushed through the shallows onto the shore, he found Jesus stirring coals in the fire pit.
“Peter, get some of those fish you’ve caught. I’m cooking fish and chips for breakfast.” (John 21:1-14)
Peter left behind the label of “failure,” and received the new label Jesus was revealing to him. Leave the label.
5. Love God
This is the most important thing God has for any of us coming out of failure. Our tendency will be fight or flight. Some of us will fight the reality of failure with anger. We’ll blame others and have fifty reasons why it all went wrong. Some of us will handle failure with flight. We’ll bury the pain, smile and pretend it doesn’t matter. But, if we choose fight or flight, we’re missing the blessing of learning to love God more deeply.
Though the fig tree should not blossom,nor fruit be on the vines,the produce of the olive failand the fields yield no food,the flock be cut off from the foldand there be no herd in the stalls,yet I will rejoice in the Lord;I will take joy in the God of my salvation.God, the Lord, is my strength;he makes my feet like the deer’s;he makes me tread on my high places.
Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me””
“Yes, Lord. You know that I love you.”
Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?”
Finally, Peter says, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” (John 21:15-19)
I think in this question and answer, Peter learns that he really does love Jesus. Failure did not have the final word in his life. Love God.
If you have failure in your life, welcome to the club. We all do. Failure is simply part of life. But what the enemy intends for evil, God wants to use for good. (Genesis 50:20) For your good and for his glory. Will you let him?
Failure is not the final word…in your life or mine
I’d love to connect with you! Leave a comment, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me on Facebook or Twitter. And, if you’ve found this post helpful, I’d appreciate it if you’d link this post on your FB page or tweet something that was particularly significant for you. Thanks! ~Cindy
But when I left She Speaks with my homespun proposal in hand, it felt like it.
“Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted.The horse and rider he has thrown into the sea!” Exodus 15:20-21
But then it seems that jealousy and pride crept into Miriam’s heart. She began to talk with Aaron about Moses and his wife. “Hasn’t God also spoken through us?”
“When a prophet of the Lord is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions. I speak to him visions. I speak to him in dreams. But, this isn’t true of my servant Moses … With him I speak face to face … he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant, Moses.”
When the cloud lifts, Miriam is standing there, white with leprosy.
Aaron turns to his sister and he is horrified. He turns back to Moses, “Moses, don’t hold our sin against us! Don’t leave her this way!”
Moses cries out to God, “Please heal her!”
And God answers Moses. “For seven days she’s outside the camp. After that she can come back in.” Numbers 12:1-12
“I brought you up out Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery.I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam.” Micah 6:4
Come back on Monday and I’ll share with you steps to help you move out of failure and disappointment and shame.
for you or for me.