Monday, April 25, 2011

Newness of Life

We celebrated Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection this weekend. You have heard it said probably 1,000 times “Jesus Saves”. Amen. He does. What comfort, hope, and joy those words, that truth, brings . . . Jesus saves.

I’m thinking about the implications His resurrection has for our life. Not just on Easter Sunday, but today, tomorrow, the rest of our life. The words from a pastor are ringing in my ear “Yes, Jesus saves. He doesn’t just save us from something, but He saves us to something.” He saves us from Hell. He also saves us to new life, eternal life, abundant life.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Are you walking in the newness of life? Are you enjoying life and life abundant (John 10:10)? The peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7)? There is hope for the future, yes. But do you know there is hope for the present too? He can redeem your past, present, and future. He is making ALL things new.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
(Isaiah 43:19)

Are you in a desert, a dry and weary land? He can be your refuge . . . now. You can drink from His river of delights today (Psalm 36:8). Your scars are the proof of death, burial, and resurrection. Arise . . . walk in the newness of life. Walk by faith, enjoy abundance. Live like you are a new creation.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
(Galatians 2:20)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Resurrection. The Coming King.

“He is not here, for he has risen . . .” (Matthew 28:6)

“Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred . . ." (1 Corinthians 15:3-6)

He is coming back.

"Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11)

“from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Matthew 26:64)

“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True . . . He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God . . . On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
(Revelation 19:11-16)

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. (Revelation 20:11)

“And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." (Revelation 21:5)

“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
(Revelation 22:7)

He Has Risen . . . He Will Rise Again.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Burial. Wondering, What Now?

"When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. (Matthew 27:57-61)

I keep thinking about the confusion, discouragement, and despair that Mary, Mary Magdalene, and the apostles were experiencing the day after His crucifixion. Their hope, their teacher, their friend, their Messiah, was just slain. Right before their eyes, He was buried, and they are left feeling empty.

I can’t help but think “isn’t this just how we feel when tragedy hits our lives? We wonder . . . what just happen? Where is He? Is this all true? How can I be sitting here, across from all that I knew and understood, only to have it shatter into pieces right before my eyes?

I imagine Mary and Mary Magdalene’s face as they sit across from Jesus tomb. I wonder if they looked at each other the way my sisters and I looked at each other when we got the shocking news of my father’s death. I wonder if they sit and stare, speechless, numb, the way husband and wife did when they buried their infant son.

I wonder . . . if they wondered “Where is Jesus? What just happened? Where is God in all of this?”

I am comforted that Mary and Mary Magdalene were in despair and confusion. They walked with Jesus every day, and still couldn’t understand His ways. Like us, tragedy strikes, pain hits, and we fall to our knees. We wonder.

Then we remember . . .

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” (Job 38:4)

God is working in a way we just can’t understand. His ways are beyond our comprehension. There is a resurrection coming. There is hope arriving. We just can’t see it in the present. We sit opposite Jesus tomb, broken, confused, in despair. We don’t know what God is doing in the meantime, the purpose for our pain and confusion. We like Mary and Mary Magdalene can only remain faithful, weep, press on, and hope.

We don’t realize that tomorrow is Sunday . . . resurrection awaits. His light will soon shine through the darkness.

“Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him” (Revelation 1:7)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Prophecy. The Deliverer is Coming . . .

Born of a virgin
"Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 1:19)

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)

The Deliverer
"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound"
(Isaiah 61:1)

On a Colt
"This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, "Say to the daughter of Zion,'Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden." (Matthew 21:4-5)

The Sacrifice without blemish.
Preparing The Offering. The blood of the Lamb.

"Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table . . . For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial." (Matthew 26:6, 11-12)

New Covenant
"Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is my body."And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:26-28)

Give thanks. For the worst and best day in all of history.
His death.

"Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand."
(Matthew 26:46)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Does God Require?

An offering.

“If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish . . . and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.” (Leviticus 1:3-4)

“If his gift for a burnt offering is from the flock, from the sheep or goats, he shall bring a male without blemish” (Leviticus 1:10)

"then he shall offer for the sin that he has committed a bull from the herd without blemish to the LORD for a sin offering. (Lev 4:3)

“If anyone commits a breach of faith and sins unintentionally in any of the holy things of the LORD, he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation, a ram without blemish out of the flock . . .” (Lev 5:15)

An offering made . . . without blemish. The wages of sin is death. The price that will redeem . . . innocent blood.

Without blemish.

The only offering, the only sacrifice that will rid us of guilt and free us from sin, is one without blemish. I am with blemish. You are with blemish. We all are with blemish.

"None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." (Romans 3:11-12)

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)

So then . . . how can we ever be saved? How can we be reconciled? Forgiven? Free?

A male seed . . . without blemish.

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.” (1 Peter 2:21-22)

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Fall and The HOPE

Two new characters enter the story in this chapter.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.” (Genesis 3:1)

The serpent. The one who deceives. The one who slightly distorts the truth. The one who plants doubt. The one who makes what is forbidden look delicious and exciting. The one who encourages us to take just a small bite.

She ate of the tree . . . the tree that God restricted her from. The ONE thing in the garden they were not to indulge in.

The serpent deceived.
She ate.
Adam hid.
The world changed.

We must understand Genesis 3 to fully understand John 3:16. Because of what happened in Genesis 3 the world will never be the same.

We suffer from sin, choosing independence from God. Believing He is not good, believing His ways are not right, and putting our self above Him. We see it with Adam and Eve and we see it in our own hearts today. We believe the lie, like Eve we eat the forbidden fruit-we do what we shouldn’t do (sin of commission), or like Adam we sit back and hide-we don’t do what we should do (sin of omission).

The wages of sin . . . death. Physical death. Spiritual death. Separation from the Father.

Now separated from God, a perfect relationship with Him. How do we get back, reconciled to what was Good and Perfect? How can we be in relationship with our Heavenly Father again?

The Hero enters.

"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." (Genesis 3:15)

The Protoevangelium. The first Gospel. The first glimpse of God’s plan to save us. A reference to what is to come. A male offspring that will suffer some harm, but will conquer in the end. Our Hope . . . our Savior . . . our Deliverer . . . Our Redeemer . . . Our Rescuer . . . He is coming.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Created in His Image

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Genesis 1:26-28)

Man was God’s prized possession at creation. We were the only part of creation created in His image, after His own kind, in His likeness. Created good, for good. To fill the earth, rule over the earth, and subdue it.

And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:8-9)

He breathed life into mankind, provided an abundance of beauty and nourishment.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:15-17)

He gave us responsibility, work to do in the garden. He gave us much, even choice. A choice to love and respond in obedience.

He gave us all but one thing . . . of this you shall not eat . . . the consequences are heavy Mankind. If you eat of it . . . you will die. He won’t force you to choose obedience, He won’t force you to love Him.

He will bless you with abundance and leave you with this choice.

A choice to trust in His provision and restriction, blessing and warning. Will you believe that He is good? His provision and restriction are for the best? To trust in His ways or will pursue your own? Oh the decision made in the garden that day . . . the decisions made in my heart every day . . .

In the beginning . . .


Created man in His image.

Provided abundance.

Provided a choice.

A choice that leads to a decision . . .

To believe a lie.

To fall.

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

In the Beginning . . .

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

We know this chapter in the bible, very familiar to us all. I start here in remembering the LORD, because apart from knowing God as our Creator, we can’t know him as our Savior.

This semester in our worldview class at Academy we read that “It has often been pointed out that if a person really believes Genesis 1:1, he will not find it difficult to believe anything else recorded in the Bible. That is, if God really created all things, then He controls all things and can do all things.” (Morris, Henry., The Genesis Record)

Today I remember that in the beginning, God . . .

Read those words slowly.




God . . .

He was and is and is to come. We are a part of His story, His creation, His plan. We are here because of Him. Our purpose, our identity, our life is in Him.

He is, therefore I am . . .

Thankful today to be grafted in to His kingdom, for life that He gives, that before Genesis 1:1 was ever written, He had me in His mind. Before Genesis 1:1 was written, he had the cross in mind. Before Genesis 1:1 was written, He had Revelation 22 in mind. He makes all things, and He will make all things new.

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Remember the LORD

Deuteronomy 8 tells the Israelites to remember the LORD, the tests and trials we go through to remind us of His faithfulness. He fulfills His promise . . .

“And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.” (Deut 8:2)

We ought to remember what He brought us through to cling to the HOPE of what He is bringing us to.

“For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. (Deut 8:7-10)

As I approach spring break, a week of rest and time to fill with fun activities, I want to be intentional about remembering the LORD. Remembering why we celebrate this Holy Week, the true meaning behind. So I’m going to remember the LORD daily here on this blog over the next week. I will remember Him, His life, His plan of redemption, His death, burial, resurrection, and His hope.

The journey of remembering will begin tomorrow in
Genesis 1. In the beginning . . . God.

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.” (Job 19:25)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thanksgiving in Spring

No, not the turkey and stuffing type of Thanksgiving, the lowercase “t” thanksgiving . . . as in gratitude.

My students have formed this awful habit where every time I ask them to do something (okay maybe not every time), they whine and complain. So, I decided to share this passage with one of my students:

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15)

As we were reading this verse, I felt terribly convicted over my own grumbling. I am called to do all things without grumbling or asking why as part of my witness to others, it’s how my light shines! I realized (again), here I am trying to teach my kids a lesson all the while God is using them to teach me.

It is one thing to go through trials; it’s a whole other thing to go through trials grumbling! Life happens, things get tough. Even in the midst of it all, my light is still supposed to shine.

BIG reality check, my attitude was not an “attitude of gratitude”, it was an attitude of grumbling. I realized that lately there was much more grumbling coming out of my mouth than thanksgiving. Here I am going through trials, praying about them, and then grumbling.

Do you notice a common word/theme in passages about prayer?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2)

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16)

So in these circumstances that have me on my knees in prayer, I am supposed to have an attitude of thanksgiving, not grumbling?

This was stirring in my heart and then I read the most inspiring blog about gratitude here {}.

Confirmed . . . tomorrow begins a new time of being intentional about giving thanks. A new season of Thanksgiving . . .

Thanksgiving in spring.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Live in Both

For some reason this weekend, I was thinking about these scriptures. At first glance they seem to contradict each other.

Be like a child . . .
“and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3-4)

Grow up . . .
“so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4:14)

One is saying be like a child, while the other is saying grow up so we are no longer children??? The beauty of God’s word is that these are both true and incredibly consistent with the Greatest Commandment . . .

“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

The LORD wants us to trust Him, have faith, like a child. Be easily willing to submit and follow the Father. Love Him with all of our HEART. However, he wants us to be wise and discerning so as to not be easily misled. Love Him with all of our MIND. To be deeply rooted, and yet deeply humbled. To worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.

Be like a child . . . love deeply, in humility, in willing submission AND grow up in our thinking, be wise and discerning, to stand strong against schemes of the enemy.

What a beautiful balance and tension to live in!

Live in both . . .

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Trusting Him

For those of you who may not have heard, I received a pink slip on March 15th. They cut 257 teaching positions in Fresno Unified because of the massive budget cuts. Things can change, those taxes can pass, but as of now, my job will end in June and I will wait to see what happens. Just another trial on the roller-coaster ride of teaching!

Some days shepherding children (and by children I mean a class full of 8-9 year olds) leaves me feeling, exhausted, overwhelmed, and emotional. Other days, it leaves me frustrated, devastated, and saddened. Then there are a few days when I actually feel excited, joyful, and rewarded!

Teaching is NOT easy. It is not at all what I expected it to be. It has made me well aware of the pressure kids are under to “perform”. It has made me realize all of the “wrongs” in our society that I want to help make “right”. It has shown me how I can teach the same thing over and over only to find out after an assessment they still haven’t learned! (Reminds me of my relationship with our Heavenly Father . . .)

There are times when I am “preaching” to my kids not to quit when things get hard, to have endurance and perseverance. All the while, standing there feeling so convicted because I need to be preaching that to myself! I have to push them, stretch them, nurture them, and discipline them. I can see the end and know the big picture but they don’t. It has given me such a perspective on how the LORD must see us. We whine and complain, we aren’t quick learners, we’re disobedient, inconsistent, difficult, we get off task, we check-out, sometimes we even run off!

SO much of what the LORD teaches me, so much of my sanctification, comes from lessons I’ve learned in my classroom. The LORD uses these children to purify me! ALL 5 years of my short teaching career have been a struggle. Not to say there haven’t been moments of JOY (there have), but it has definitely been a trial. It’s amazing how our trials and struggles teach us more than we can imagine! I am forever changed because of this profession, and these pages in my bible are worn out because of my experiences in the classroom.

These are some verses that have become an anchor for me during my journey as a teacher and shepherd. They have brought me so much encouragement after days when I get their test scores back and they don’t do well or when I have to make a CPS call, or when I feel like the worst teacher and can’t figure out why I’m even in a classroom!

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

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

I cling to these scriptures because so much about teaching is all about that “number”, their test scores. The LORD continues to remind me that I am in this classroom for much more than “test performance”. While learning to read is important, there are things “unseen” that are happening that He cares much more about. He wants me to be faithful in my job, but more than that He wants me to love these kiddos and shine my light for Him.

It’s hard to believe that I will be packing up my classroom again in just a couple of months. Part of me is so sad to leave. The other part of me feels relieved to have received a “pink slip”. Now maybe the stress and tears can end? Is He closing the door for me in this profession? Does He want me to have endurance and patience? Perhaps the LORD has another plan for me?

Who knows what the future holds . . . I do know that these last 5 years have not been wasted. I have learned SO much about the LORD, about teaching and shepherding, serving and encouraging, loving and ministering.

Trusting for what is to come . . . perhaps it’s just a new school and classroom? Perhaps it’s a whole new path? Perhaps it’s just a year to step back and reflect before continuing on? Whatever it is, He knows ME best and He knows WHAT’S best. He has prepared a path for me and I just want to stay on it, whatever it may be, I know where it’s leading to and so I press on . . . trusting Him.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act . . . Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him . . . (Psalm 34:5, 7)

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Friday, April 1, 2011


Recently our life group went to serve the families at The Fresno Rescue Mission. We served dinner, cleaned the kitchen, made a craft with the families, and then shared a message of hope at the end.

I love to open up the Word with women, I mean it is truly my favorite thing-to read Scripture and then share what we’ve learned and how it applies to our lives. I was SO excited at the thought of sharing a message of hope with these families. I decided to share this scripture:

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

I shared my story of how through the darkest, most trying time of my life (losing my father), I found the LORD. I shared how the LORD used this tragic circumstance to bring me into relationship with Him, to seek truth and find it. He used it to put my hope in Christ alone . . .

As I was sharing this, I felt so unqualified to speak. I mean as I started, I wanted to run out of the front door, terrified. I felt disorganized, unworthy, scattered, like a babbling fool. When it was all over, we played the song “In Christ Alone” and I literally tried to hide behind the piano to lower my head and hide in embarrassment.

When it was over, the women in my group and some from the shelter thanked me and told me that my story was inspirational. I realized on the way home that while I have courage to proclaim the excellencies of Him (1 Peter 2:9), I have absolutely NO confidence!

Confidence: full trust, assurance, reliance

I realized that I am NOT supposed to have confidence in myself! That is how the LORD intends it. He desires us to be obedient, which requires courage at times, but not confident in our self. When we are confident in our own abilities, we can’t be confident in Him. This scripture comes to mind:

“Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” (Proverbs 3:25-26)

I’m reminded again that the LORD continually wants me to rely on myself less, and on Him more. So through this obedience and fear, courage and unworthiness, I realized that is exactly where he wants me. Willing to say “Here I am LORD, use me . . . my mouth, your words”.

I still feel ridiculous about my message. Oh well! I’m trusting that the LORD will minister to those women through His word and my testimony, and confident that He is the only one who can grow the seeds that have been planted. What a growing experience for us all.

“For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3)

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)