Author Archives: sixbrownbears

The next time the boxes open…


Couple walking at sunset, surrounded by crashing waves on a beach Nørre Vorupør, on the coast of the North Sea in the municipality of Thisted in Denmark. Photo by Slaunger

Good morning, friends,

Well, I took Christmas decorations down yesterday. I have a tradition of waiting until after the New Year to take everything down, but this year Joshua and I seemed ready to bring it all down early. Our space was much more cramped this year. My normal routine of having my quiet time each morning by the lit tree was hard with three couches, a tree, a chest and two side tables. I would walk in sit and get claustrophobic. So, next year, adjustments will need to be made.

Christmas, this year, for our family, just felt very, very different. Having Joshua gone until right before Christmas for a week was hard for us, but we gave him away freely to his family, to his beloved father. We have watched him over this month just wait. We know the word is coming from Florida, we dread it. Tears come at the most unexpected times for my man.

Christmas Eve brought the news that my parents (whom we normally spend Christmas) were sick with the flu. And so Christmas day was quiet. We walked through the day together, without much pomp or circumstance. There was an awareness of the beauty of the day. The Glorious touching our earth as an infant.

So, as I packed each ornament, I looked at each one remembering who gave us each one. Loving the memory, enjoying the moment, and closing the box brought an ache for my husband. The next time the boxes open…

Truly, the next time the boxes open, we really have no idea what our reality will hold. When we closed the boxes last year, we had no idea what this year would hold. I’m glad honestly. I’m glad I can’t read the future. I don’t want to know. I’m glad my future is in God’s hand. I don’t want to know.

Broken bones, surgeries, cancer, pain, yuck. On the other hand, this year has held beauty, reconciliation, joy, friendship and I look around and I am full. Life is like that. The Lord is in the midst of it all.

Thus says the Lord, Who makes a way through the sea and a path through the mighty waters, Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:16, 18-19AMP

So, maybe we do turn over a new year. Yep, 2015. For me, for my family, we hold onto our Joshua, walking with him on these mighty waters. We never expected this turn in the road. God did. He knew. So we reach out for the One who makes a way through the sea. We see death as an end. Of course, we do!

God does not. It is a beginning. He makes all things new. Joshua will see his dad again. This is not the end. This is not his final goodbye. However you close your boxes this year, you have no idea what your life will look like when they open again next Christmas. God does. He can be trusted with this life of yours.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jd4qtmDGIWQ

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Heaviness of trust


Frescos of dome and ceiling in Melk Abbey Church by Johann Michael Rottmayr (1716-22) Photo by Uoaei1

Good morning,

All my life I have been taken by these few verses. I cannot remember how I was introduced to them. I cannot remember why, as a small child, they were my favorite. Maybe it was this idea of mansions. Maybe it was that Jesus was talking. Maybe that it was the promise He was coming back to take me to them. He certainly doesn’t give us a TON of information about the mansions. I want details. If we can have almost 5 verses just on how fat and disgusting Ehud the king (look it up yourself in Judges 3), then I want the beautiful of heaven.

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.In My Father’s house are many mansions;[a] if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.[b] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14 NKJV

Let not your heart be troubled…we fight death. We fight the knowledge that each day brings us closer. We don’t want to leave family, friends. I follow heartbreaking blogs and posts of moms, children fighting cancer. Fighting to stay on this earth. Oh, friend, I get that. I don’t know when to suggest the fight to stop. Nor should we stop fighting. Or looking for cures, solutions. Death feels unfair, like a great schism has occurred. Death never was meant to be a part of the original plan. Yet, sin entered the world and here we are. Let not your heart be troubled. How can Jesus utter these words? He knew what He was about to face?

you believe in God, believe also in Me…Our belief. Bottom line, friends, hence, “to place confidence in, to trust,” signifies, in this sense of the word, reliance upon, not mere credence.(Vine’s,pisteuo). Our confidence cannot be in our circumstances ever.(Circumstance good? God is GOOD! Circumstances bad? Where is God?)  If we have learned nothing during our life as a Christian, then we face the death of a loved one or our own death, this truth will be lost. Jesus calls for us to trust what we cannot see. Faith. Place our trust in Him. As He has saved us, held us in life, He will hold us through.

In My Father’s house are many mansions…this very phrase has brought me many the daydream. I’ll admit it. When I sat with my grandma as she died, I thought about this verse so often. I brought my husband’s hymnal to her bedside and sang to her. Hymn by hymn I sang to her. We were both very agitated the first day as she no longer was able to get out of bed and lost the ability to speak. So, I brought the hymnal and began to sing. I’ll be honest. I don’t have the best voice. The words of the hymns took over.

Peace. And when came the time for Jesus to come for her, I’ll never forget the experience, friends. We fear what we do not understand. We fear because we do not know. I was reading Psalm 23 to her. Her breathing was becoming more and more irregular. Whether I knew a presence in the room because I knew Jesus was about to hold her hand and mine no longer, I’ll never know. The palpable presence of heaven touching earth was in that bedroom that afternoon. As I spoke each phrase of Psalm 23, I let her know, I told her, it was okay to go, that I loved her, I would miss her, but that we would be okay. I felt the heaviness of holiness in the room.

What puzzles me about those feelings, friends, is that He is with me all the time. His presence never leaves me. Never leaves you. So we fight and fight to put a pause button on death, as many of the authors of our Bible eloquently speak (however BRIEFLY) on heaven, Jesus calls us to not be troubled. To trust in God, trust also in Him. Your life, and your death, are in His most capable hands. Is there any better place for them to be?

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The Windmills of Consuegra (Castilla-La Mancha, Spain), seen at dusk in the image, were built in the first half of the 19th century and were proclaimed as Spanish Historical Site in 2008. Photo by Hugo Díaz-Regañón

Good morning,

The Temporal and the Eternal

We live between the two. Whether we want to think on this reality or ignore, when death comes to our door, it is a forced issue to ponder. Do we believe the words of Paul?

For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 2 Corinthians 5 NASB

As I drove my husband to the airport a week before Christmas to spend precious time with his dad, we reflected on the gift his parents had given him. Peace. His dad knows Jesus, loves Jesus, taught his kids to love Jesus.  His dad’s house is being torn down as I write. I watch my husband haunt his phone for word from his family down in Florida. I cannot speak for how Joshua’s dad feels, but as I watched my Grandma pass from this life to her heavenly home, she struggled because I knew she did not want to leave her beloveds here on earth. Yet, heaven was calling for her.

The groans of this life, the burdens feel so overwhelming to us. These last few days, watching my husband as he grieves, processes and moves through the stages of grief, I am so very relieved that he had the week with his dad, with his family. Tears fill his eyes.

Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.                  2 Corinthians 5 NASB

There is always hope when our loved ones know and love Jesus. Always. We can be of good courage. We can face the death of our beloved. Even our own death because, well, reread the quote above! On this earth, we walk by faith. But when we close our eyes for the last time, our faith shall be our sight. Oh, my. We shall be at home with the Lord. That is our real home.

That is not to say that the stages of grief and death are light or easy or pain-free. I am so very grateful for the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead, aren’t you? There is so much amazing about that story to all of us, isn’t there? However to me, today, one point I want to make.

33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and[h]was troubled, 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?”They *said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. John 11 NASB

Jesus knew He was about to raise Lazarus. He was deeply moved, troubled. He wept. He mourned with them. He knows we need this, He grieves with us. Even. though. HE. knows. the. end. of . the. story. Mercy, He is the end of the story! He sits with us in our grief and loves us through.

To you, my dear reader, wherever you are in the grief process. He holds your hand.

You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book? Psalm 56 NASB

To my husband, I love you. I’m sorry you walk this road. You do not walk alone. I’ll hold your hand the whole way.

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Peace


Roses after first snowfall Photo by 3268zauber

11 Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is ·Christ [the Messiah], the Lord. 12 This ·is how you will know him [will be the sign for you]: You will find a baby wrapped in ·pieces of cloth [cloths; T swaddling clothes] and lying in a ·feeding trough [T manger].”

13 ·Then [L And suddenly] a ·very large group [or great army] of angels from heaven ·joined [appeared with] the first angel, praising God and saying:

14 “Give glory to God in ·heaven [the highest place/heaven],
    and on earth let there be peace among the people ·who please God [or he favors; L of his pleasure/approval].” Luke 2:11-14 EXB

Let’s be honest. How many times have you heard these verses? They can become so commonplace. Oh, we can say, how lovely. How nice. Let’s just settle on these verses for a moment.

Today YOUR Savior. Your. Personal. Ownership. Each and every one of us has a part of this Savior. He isn’t meant to be held at arm’s length. He is yours. He is mine. How amazing.

He is Christ the Lord. When my daughter was young, she wondered if Jesus’ last name was Christ and if we needed to address Him as Mr. Christ. Laughing, we explained to her the names of Jesus (God saves) and Christ (the Messiah). The long awaited one, the anointed one…

This ·is how you will know him. I can’t imagine anyone expected this is how the Messiah to come. Enter the world, as a baby? Infant? So the God gave the shepherds a map.

lying in a ·feeding trough. Pause. Breathe. Wrinkle your nose. Think about the nice, clean, lovely crib you slept in your first night. And then, think about a feeding trough for the King of the world. Savior. Blessed Jesus. He lit up that stable with His beautiful presence. That feeding trough was all Mary had to hold her sweet baby.

Then a ·very large group [or great army] of angels from heaven ·joined the first angel, praising God. The shepherds were given a window into the worship of God by the angels. Giving honor to God!

“Give glory to God in ·heaven [the highest place/heaven],
    and on earth let there be peace among the people ·who please God [or he favors; L of his pleasure/approval].” On earth, let there be peace among the people who please God. Peace. Oh, how we long for peace. Each day this month has brought more distressing news. It hasn’t felt peaceful. It hasn’t felt like Christmas. It hasn’t felt magical. 

We watched A Christmas Story last night and yes, it is funny. Yes, it’s a classic. It’s also representative of a time when life seemed simple. Maybe it wasn’t, but as a child, life felt carefree. Now today, each day seems to bring more and more.

My husband flies home from Florida today. He says good bye to his dad who was recently diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. The family has spent the last week together, building memories, helping one another, talking, working. It’s been a good week for my husband that I know he will treasure for the rest of his life. If you would like to join us in praying Joshua’s dad, please visit his page: https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/qk17/harold-butch-bruinius-pancreatic-cancer/updates/105900?utm_source=facebook

The peace cannot be found in our circumstances. The peace can only be found in Jesus. We can only rest in Him. He is the one who can choose to calm the storms or calm the child in the midst of the storms.

And today, as the storms rage around us, remember this, my friend, He is our peace.

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Messenger


Shepherds Hear About Jesus

·That night [L At night], some shepherds were [living out] in the fields ·nearby [L in that region/place] watching their ·sheep [L flock]. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them. The glory of the Lord ·was shining around[surrounded] them, and they became very frightened. 10 The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. [L …for/because] I am bringing you good news that will ·be a [or bring] great joy to all the people. 11 Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is ·Christ [the Messiah], the Lord. Luke 2:8-11 EXB

God came to the shepherds. Do you notice they were living out in the fields? This wasn’t a part-time job. They lived out in the fields. Far away from the rest of humanity, keeping the smell and grime at a reasonable distance. Isn’t that interesting? They remove themselves from the people. And who does God choose to announce His Son’s birth?

God didn’t mind the smell. Or the noises. He brought the noises and the lights and the glory to them. He decided to rock their world. This story, we’ve become so accustomed to it, should explode our minds every time we read it. We formulate opinions about people, status, symbols, positions and God just blew through them. He went and shared His great news with shepherds.

We are His messengers. God shared showed us how to share. He didn’t look on the outside. He didn’t care where they rested their heads. He shared the news as if it were the greatest gift ever given or told (it was and is). The day had finally come. His Son was on the earth. He was so very proud.

We should be so proud. We hold in our hands the story. The greatest story.

That is what Christmas is all about. That is the story that needs to be shared. I’m not a very good gift giver. In fact, I really do not have that “gift”. I’ll be honest. I recognize though the greatest gift. And we won’t find it wrapped under any tree this Christmas. No, He’s alive. The grave could not hold Him. Death was could not defeat Him.

So, as I pack up my kids this morning and head to my Mom’s to make cookies, I am thankful. Thankful for the Gospel writers who gave us the story. We can imagine the story, piece it together, what happened on that most glorious night when the Messiah came to earth. Everything changed.

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Bells


We began this Christmas season on a beautiful note. Literally. The Village Church of Gurnee had their annual Christmas concert. As music filled the sanctuary, we settled in to listen and reflect. Our minds quieted and we stilled.

Or, that would have been the dream. The reality was our son was on crutches and needed to get up and down a couple dozen times through the performances knocking into the chairs in front of him. Another son had a terrific bloody nose which required husband and child to climb over the child on crutches who actually was sitting down at that moment. The third son decided he was exhausted and sought to remind me of this fact. every. moment. he. could. Our daughter sat with a friend in front of us. Joshua and I laughed as we watched her sing all the songs, dance in her chair and just be carefree.

It did not allow for much personal reflection on the season or the Christ child. Since my eyes spent most of the time rolled to the back of my head, and my hand to my forehead in a slap, I also knew our Bruinius family performance for the new Pastor and his wife who I chose to sit next to could not have gone unnoticed.

You know, this is my life. It’s crazy. It’s not dull. It’s all ours. I wouldn’t trade it for all the world. (sidenote)

Anyway, a song was played that penetrated the craziness of the blender moments, I Heard The Bells On Christmas Eve. I’m sorry to say I’ve never really paid much attention to this song. Never knew it’s history. Never knew the lyrics. Yet, on this night, the song spoke to me. Allow me to share some of the lyrics with you.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Take a moment and watch this beautiful video on the history of this carol: 

So, as you begin your Sunday, as you head out to church this morning to worship the God who is not dead. Nor does He sleep. He is our peace.

Enjoy Casting Crown’s version:

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Mild


As I was driving home from a Christmas party, the darkness of the night enveloped my car. I turned on Moody’s music through the night and the beloved carol, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, began.

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

On one hand, this song should be song with excitement and spunk. I agree. On the other, I miss these words as I quickly pass over them to move to the chorus.

Mild He lays His glory by…

Noah Webster defines mild as: Tender and gentle in temper or disposition; kind; compassionate; merciful; clement; indulgent; not severe or cruel.

Slow down. Peaceful. In the midst of all the craziness, the mess, the parties, the stress, whatever is on your plate and remember. Stop. He laid His glory by.

Why did He do it? Why did He give it all up?

Born that man no more may die...

We nearly kill ourselves to purchase the gifts, make the cookies, get to all the parties, all for a season. For a period of time. For Christmas. In talking with a friend recently, I realized how much pressure, emphasis we place on this season. Scroll through your Facebook feed. Do you feel lonely yet? Or as if you cannot measure up? Good luck. Your friend from college is exhausted from her 10 Christmas parties. Your friend from high school has 20 pictures of her children and their homemade Christmas cookies they made together and handed out to the neighbors and homeless. Your friend had a lovely party…your invite must have gotten lost in the mail.

It’s two days.

Do we even remember what we are doing here? That first Christmas? Looked nothing like this explosion of today. On my way home, I enjoy the sites of Christmas lights, blow up Santa with his pants down saying Happy Holidays. My children and I are mooned by Santa every time we drive home.

Back up the truck. Mild He lay His glory by. We have lost sight. Okay, maybe just me, but I doubt it. When was the last time, we pondered Philippians 2:

·Christ himself was like God in everything [L Who, being in the form of God].
    But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be ·used for his own benefit [or grasped; seized; held on to].
But he ·gave up his place with God and made himself nothing [L emptied himself].
    He ·became like [L took the form of] a ·servant [slave; bondservant]
    and was born ·as a man [L in the likeness of humanity/men].
And ·when he was living [L being found in appearance/likeness] as a ·man [human being],
    he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God,
    even ·when that caused his [to the point of] death—death on a cross.

He gave it all up. He did it for you. For me. He was born that man no more may die. We live rushing through life, rushing our families, our days, our schedules.

I purchased gifts for my family members this year, everyone except my husband. I never know what to get my favorite person in the world. The man who I love more than life itself…I just have no idea. Everyone else…no brainers. One of the greatest gifts I can give my Savior this year is the gift of remember. Pause. Stop. Jesus gave it all. Christmas means nothing if it is not celebrated in the shadow of the cross. Nothing. He isn’t meant to be celebrated as a baby.

He is to be worshiped as a King. A conqueror.

So God ·raised [exalted] him to the highest place.
    God ·made his name [or gave him the name] ·greater than [far above] every other name
10 so that every knee will bow to the name of Jesus—
    everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.
11 And ·everyone [L every tongue] will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
    and bring glory to God the Father.Philippians 2

When the shepherds visited the infant Jesus in the manger, they fell to the floor and worshiped. The angels transformed their night with news that changed their lives. They bowed their knees. They confessed Jesus as Lord. The dirty shepherds got the news before anyone else. Isn’t that grand? They were willing to listen.

Let’s not be too busy to listen this Christmas. Let’s find quiet this week. Let’s watch for his glory. And good grief, I need to avert my eyes. Santa, pull up your pants.

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Shoes


Good morning, friends,

2 Corinthians 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

I, Cara, have woken up this morning in a world of stress and worry. I put on the old shoes. Do you have a pair of old shoes? Shoes that, let’s be honest, have long since lost their value. The tread is worn. The holes are visible. Yet, we keep them. Even worse, we wear them. Maybe just around the house (we wouldn’t want friends to see these!). So, on they go, as the day wears on, we don’t even realize the damage they are doing to our bodies, do we? Our feet begin to ache. Our legs hurt. Our back, oy! Then, I don’t know about you, but I get a headache. Everything is out of alignment. All because I put on those shoes this morning.

Worry and fear are just like that. I wake up and oh, the stresses begin to weigh me down. I worry about my children. I worry about finances. I worry about making the wrong decision. I worry about…and then, not dealing with that WITH the Lord, confessing my need for Him, and arising in the strength of the Lord, I then greet my husband and children with this cloud over me. Then I begin the worry of the house not being clean, the schoolwork not being done…and I’m stressed and the family receives the brunt of my stress.

God talks in His word about feet. About beautiful feet. My feet, most certainly, this morning do not resemble these feet.

Isaiah 52:7 EXB ·How beautiful [or How beautiful on the mountains] ·is the person [L are the feet of him]
    who ·comes over the mountains to bring [or brings] good news,
who announces peace
    and brings good news,
    who announces salvation [Nah. 1:15]
and says to ·Jerusalem [L Zion; v. 1],
    “Your God ·is King [or reigns].”

I look at how I have begun my morning. When I greet the day remembering how blessed are those who bring good news. Good news. Peace. Salvation (deliverance). When I begin my day, remembering this is a fight, a battle, oh, my day can begin to turn. No excuses. No way. Instead…

Ephesians 6:10 EXB Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his ·great [strong; mighty] power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can fight against the devil’s ·evil tricks [schemes]12 [For] Our ·fight [conflict; struggle] is not against ·people on earth [L flesh and blood] but against the rulers and authorities and the ·powers [or cosmic powers/rulers] of this ·world’s darkness [L darkness], against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly ·world [realm; places]13 ·That is why you need to [L For this reason,]put on God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil [C persecution generally or end-time tribulation] you will be able to ·stand strong [keep your ground; resist the enemy]. And ·when you have finished the whole fight [L after you have done/accomplished everything], you will still be standing. 14 So stand ·strong [or ready], with the belt of truth tied around your waist and the ·body armor [breastplate] of ·right living [a righteous life; or God’s own righteousness/justice; L righteousness]15 On your feet wear the ·Good News [Gospel] of peace ·to help you stand strong [for firm footing; or to be fully prepared]16 And ·also [in addition to all this; or in all circumstances] use the shield of faith with which you can ·stop [extinguish] all the ·burning arrows [T fiery darts] of the Evil One. 17 ·Accept[Receive; or Take] the helmet of salvation, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the ·word[message] of God. 18 Pray ·in [or in dependence on] the Spirit at all times with all ·kinds of prayers[L prayers and requests], asking for everything you need. To do this you must always be ·ready [alert]·and never give up [L with all perseverance]. Always pray for all ·God’s people [T the saints].

So, instead of the old, worn out shoes of worry and fear, place the Good News of peace to stand strong. We can only be strong IN the Lord, IN His great power. I think of this prayer this morning…

The Prayer of St. Patrick

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation.


Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/Prayers/Catholic/Morning/The-Prayer-Of-St-Patrick.aspx#jBo1Bf9XgDkQTJZW.99

And you know what friends? This is NOT going to be a day where worry and fear win. This is a day where I remember nothing can separate me from the love of God. Christ is with me. With you. I put on the shoes of the Gospel of peace. The Good news…it’s all that I need. I need to start my day!

Blessings to you! Join me in throwing those shoes OUT!

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Amaze us


Lord,

If you could please heal my body…If you could please end my suffering, Please give this. Please give that. Have your/my quiet times dissolved into a laundry list of what you would like God to do? If it doesn’t happen on your timetable, where does your brain go? It’s not fair or God isn’t listening or why, God? or we descend into the pit of worry and fear. Worry that interrupts our sleep, our joy, our life!

A view of most of North America taken from a low orbit of about 826 km altitude. The whole hemisphere is not visible owing to the low orbit, and the horizon is at a distance of about 3,300 km, while the radius of the planet is 6,371 km. The diameter seen from this height is about 125 degrees. An image of the Earth taken from the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA’s Earth-observing research satellite, Suomi NPP.

We become so center-focused we lose sight of WHY we pray. WHY we spend time with the Lord. We were made for His pleasure. We were made to SERVE Him. How turned around we become when we don’t remember our place in this beautiful universe. Has God not provided for our every need? Ephesians 1:3 ·Praise be to [or Blessed is] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly ·world [realms; places]

This passage in John is a good example of the people just missing the point.

30 So ·the people [L they] asked, “What ·miracle will you do? If we see a miracle, we will believe you [L sign will you do that we might see and believe you?]. What ·will you do[work will you perform]31 Our ·ancestors [forefathers; L fathers] ate the manna [C a flaky breadlike food that God provided the Israelites in the wilderness; Ex. 16:13–36] in the ·desert [wilderness]. ·This is written in the Scriptures [L As it is written]: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat [compare Ex. 16:4Neh. 9:15Ps. 78:24].’

32 [L Therefore; So; Then] Jesus said to them, “·I tell you the truth [L Truly, truly I say to you], it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven; it is my Father who is giving you the true bread from heaven. 33 [L For] God’s bread is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 [L Therefore] ·the people [L they] said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35 Then Jesus said to them, “I am the ·bread that gives life [T bread of life]. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.36 But as I told you before, you have seen me and still don’t believe. John 6 EXB

The people were looking to Jesus to be their magician. Make something happen, Jesus. With arms crossed, the people said, Amaze us. Oh, my! They had the DEFINITION of amazing standing in front of them.

We forget so easily all the spiritual blessings found in Christ Jesus! We forget we have all we need in Christ.  We have Him, friends. We think we know what we need!

26 ·Also [or In the same way], the Spirit helps us ·with [or in] our weakness. We do not know ·how to pray as we should [or what we ought to pray for]. But the Spirit himself ·speaks to God for us [intercedes] with ·deep feelings [L groanings] ·that words cannot explain [or that are inexpressible; or that are unspoken; or too deep for words]27 ·God can see what is in people’s hearts and [L The one who searches hearts] knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit ·speaks to God [intercedes; appeals] for ·his people [or his holy people; T the saints] ·in the way God wants [or in harmony with God;L according to God]. Romans 8 EXB

Read that again. Did you see it? We do not know how to pray or what we ought to pray for. So, yes, let’s keep the conversation going. Keep praying, keep talking to Him, tell Him your needs, He knows them anyway, tell Him your hurts, your pains, your joys. Praise Him! He knows what is in your heart and guess what? He loves you anyway. How about that? We know where our minds can go. We know how sinful, how dusty a people we truly are. And HE LOVES US.

So this morning, as you begin our day, please, please don’t ask the King of Universe to amaze you. He already has…don’t ask Him if He loves you. You know the answer. He gave everything for you.

Pray on. pray on.

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Skogskyrkogården in Stockholm on a nice summer day Photo by Michael Caven from Stockholm, Sweden

 

45 Then Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He said to them, “It is written that the ·Christ [Messiah] would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day 47 and that ·a change of hearts and lives and [L repentance for the] forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all nations, starting at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. Luke 24 EXB

Good Friday.

I have to admit I’ve always cringed at this day’s title.  How can this be a good day? Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wondered. Today can be like every other day. We can go about our business, live our lives, work through our checklists OR we can stop, be present in the amazing good of this day.

PCG Great I Am

It changes everything.

I have a story to tell you. We are moving. We decided this about two months ago. Thus began a two month battle of the mind, everyday I would spend countless amounts of time (I hate to think how much) consumed with worry about the landlord’s response to how we have cared for their house. No matter how much my husband, parents, friends would try to reassure me…I stressed. I worried. What if we don’t get the deposit back? What if they won’t give us a recommendation? What if? What if? It’s been awful. I’ve brought it to Jesus only to take it back over and over.

It’s been rough.

Well, the landlord emailed us (mind you, we’ve never had a speck of trouble with her in the four years we’ve been here) earlier this week saying she would like to come assess the house. They are selling the house and would like to know what they need to do. Then she never emailed back until midnight last night. I didn’t get the email. I relaxed. So, all of a sudden, last night, at 5pm, my husband comes home and reminds me, she’s coming.

So here’s the first gift. I didn’t stress all day.

Second gift? My parents were here. So all of us pitched in and cleaned and cleaned and cleaned for the next hour and a half. It was amazing.

Third gift? She came and was very happy with the house. She was familiar with all the details of the house, walked through, it was good.

Fourth gift? We asked her if she would be willing to give us a recommendation. YES.

Fifth gift? The Lord’s grace and mercy as He showed me these past weeks how much I lost in worry which is, of course, sin. Yet as He showed me, He revealed. It was amazing.

Friend, is there worry in your life? Are you waking at night, cycling through the what ifs, what wills? God has such a better plan. And it was crucified on the cross 2000 years ago.

The verses today:

45 Then Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He said to them, “It is written that the ·Christ [Messiah] would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day 47 and that ·a change of hearts and lives and [L repentance for the] forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all nations, starting at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. Luke 24 EXB 

Jesus opened their minds. How cool this? The Word revealed the word.  What draws me is this idea…it all begins here. On Good Friday, all His suffering…that is our focus today. We approach the throne of grace today thankful. Thankful for this good day. This day that the Son of Man gave it all for you, for me.

So, stay in this day. Don’t become so preoccupied with your own “stuff” to forget Jesus today. Keep your eyes of Jesus.

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