10 Life-Giving Verses to Dwell on During Holy Week

 

Holy Week is a striking reminder of the risen Christ and the richness of God’s redemptive audacity and limitless love for us.

How did the world look through Jesus’ eyes in the days leading to the crucifixion? I cannot begin to fathom what He endured.

I can only savor the unwavering promises rendered to me in the wake of the Cross… and thank Him for fulfilling the plan His Father fashioned long before the foundation of the world…the plan through which I have become an eternal heir.

Hebrews 12:2– Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Isaiah 53:5– But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.

Psalm 93:1- The Lord reigns, He is robed in majesty; and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.

Acts 2:24- But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.

1 Peter 2:6- For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

2 Corinthians 5:15- And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.

2 Corinthians 13:4- For to be sure, He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in Him, yet by God’s power we will live with Him to serve you.

1 Corinthians 15:54– When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

Exodus 12:13- ‘The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

Hebrews 10:10– For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

Easter is so much more than a passing holiday…it is the cornerstone of our faith. We hold fast to the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.

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Living Scripture: Bear a Burden, Share a Burden

“Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

I am convinced that unless I am intentional about nurturing my willingness to be transparent and vulnerable with others, all of my relationships in this life will either stagnate or expire. Without intimate human connection,  I will, in many ways, remain a stranger to those God has placed in my path.

I am surprised by my capacity to keep secrets.

In the absence of personal disclosure, the vulnerable transparency that gives shape and depth to human connections is smothered. Though vulnerability is uncomfortable and most times undesirable to the flesh, it is the very fiber of relationship. Without it, one risks becoming a rigid fortress of solitude. With it, one becomes a humble oasis of comfort for others.

God’s heart for His people, as He has stated in today’s scripture, is reciprocal admission and relational mutuality. He says that this type of exchange fulfills his law.

Sadly, personal defenses instinctually rise in the presence of connecting encounters. It seems as though we are all equipped with many weapons to guard, defend and preserve our inner selves. The walls we construct are erected high and allowing them to fall or become unguarded is to literally risk invasion. Yes, defenses can actually be harmful; keeping me protected even from things that feed my soul.

Why am I so afraid to be invaded, anyway? Because there are parts of me, that for reasons I do not fully understand, I consider ugly, unlovable, unworthy…shameful. Parts of me that I dread exposing for fear of rejection and ridicule.

The truth in all of this is one that needs to permeate our beings: God sees me (you), dark, indecent places  and all. He accepts me, embraces me. I am enough. I do not need validation from others. Rejection by the world does not deem me unworthy. I do not need praise, popularity, credentials or success.

I just need to love God and be real. I just want you to love God and be you so that I don’t feel alone and inferior. Maybe we can meet somewhere below the surface.

We can bear one another’s burdens, enjoy life giving connection and thus fulfill the law of Christ.

Reflection question: Recall a time when you felt deeply connected to another person. What  was that like? What were you aware of and what holds you back from trying to recreate that connection with other fellow believers?

 

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It’s Time to Move On…

DSCF0415There’s a great song by Jason Upton on his Family Music Album called, “Time to Move On”. It’s written for little kids and has a fun, light melody.  It goes like this,

“It’s time to move on baby, it’s time to move on we’ve been too long in this house hunny, it’s time to move on. Hush now my darling, wipe all those tears from your eyes, tomorrow morning we will leave this old house far behind. It’s time to move on…”

Four years ago I put this song on in our minivan as we drove away from my family’s home in New York. I turned around in the passenger seat and sang to my son as he stared at me through glassy wet eyes. I eventually got the smile I sought.

It’s time to move on again, Makaio.

On May 16th, my husband is going to graduate from Moody Bible Institute with highest honors (sorry have to brag). And after that we are headed on our next big adventure.

More school…

This time though, both of us will be students.

Let me share the story:

After I graduated from college back in 2000, I knew I wanted to further my education. I wanted to earn a Master’s degree in Psychology.  It had always been a deep interest of mine and the idea of studying Psychology from a Christian perspective was fascinating. I had one problem though. I hadn’t earned the right credits during undergrad and was required to go back to a community college and take 4 more classes.

I got a waitressing job to pay my tuition and I enrolled. I was determined to attend Bible College in California.

I loved school and did well.

But…

In the meantime, a friend spoke to me about going on a mission trip. I felt God was tugging at my heart to go and so I did. I headed to Greece for a month to serve on an International Street Cleaning Team! Yes, I went to Greece and picked garbage up off the side of the road in the blazing hot summer sun!  Only God could speak through all that dirtiness and inspire me to serve him longer term overseas.  Shortly after that, I joined Operation Mobilization and lived onboard the Doulos for two years.

I was fulfilled and enjoying the world, traveling, working and serving the Lord while He poured His life into me.

On the ship, I met Wouter and right after our commitment ended, we got married.

I forgot about all those classes I took as my life went in a new direction.

Until recently.

Halfway through Wouter’s time at Moody, he felt led by the Lord to change his major from Theology to Pre-Counseling. It was an odd shift for him since he was very interested in pursuing Apologetics which can be very cerebral. Somehow though, he felt strongly that God wanted to do a work in him through the Counseling classes he would take. As he studied more and more, his passion for people began to flourish and his calling to Counseling was solidified.

Since his graduation was on the horizon, we began looking into Graduate schools where he could earn a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from a Christian perspective. While visiting a school in Florida, a lightbulb went on in my mind. I looked at the admissions counselor and asked her if it would be possible for me to apply for the program too even though I’ve been out of school for 15 years. I then asked her what prerequisites were required for admittance and, well, wouldn’t you know… I had already taken every single class needed to get in!

God had brought my husband and I together in an entirely new way.

I looked at Wouter and said, “Well, looks like we are going back to school together! Doesn’t that sound amazing!?!”

God led me to take those classes all those years ago. God put it on Wouter’s heart to change his major to Counseling and, we both believe that God is calling us to study together and eventually, minister together. We hope that our time at Denver Seminary will better equip us to reach out to hurting people.

Our passion is to see marriages and families thrive in this crazy world. We want to reach  young professionals and influence their life direction and inspire high school students to serve the Lord whole heartedly!  Anyone and everyone who needs a healing touch from the Master…

Our big adventure begins on June 15th as we pack up our little apartment and move to Denver. We will living on campus with many other families who are pursuing similar paths.

We are so excited! We walk by faith. We know that He who has called us will indeed provide for us in every way imaginable as He has for the last four years here at Moody and even before then!

We know there will be new challenges as we learn to be there for one another while balancing school and keeping our marriage and children number one. I’ll only be taking six credits to start. That way, I can still be with my little ones most of the time.

Please be a part of our prayer team. No need to sign up, just pray for us when we cross your minds. Also, pray for our kids, too! This will be a huge change for Makaio and Mikayla but we believe God is preparing their hearts already and will continue to bless them as we step out in faith and obedience to His will for us!

Our time in Chicago has been amazing; the friends we’ve made, the church we’ve grown to love, this crazy city…all of it has forever touched and shaped us. Sometimes it’s hard to say goodbye. Sometimes it’s hard to move on.

But it’s that time again.

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The Three Most Important Things I Tell My Kids…

Tell_Kids5Today I have the blessing of sharing an article on The Laundry Moms

I hope you enjoy it!

Ever sit in church and momentarily drift away to the sink full of dishes awaiting you at home, the pile of bills that need to be paid by tomorrow or, even to the happy couple whose children are sitting quietly beside them as they listen intently to the preacher?

 How do they get their kids to sit so still anyway?

Ever simply fall victim to ceaseless daydreaming while listening to something vitally important?

 I have.

Read More Here…

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Beyond the Bunny: The Real Magnificence of the Passover

430cba14651df25edb067ee942b3be63I left my apartment early Friday morning and headed over to the Dollar Tree. I wanted to grab a few things for Makaio and Mikayla’s Easter basket before they ran out of stock.

I walked up and down the rows of goodies, staring blankly at shiny plastic eggs, marshmallow chicks and chocolate crosses with awkward cartoon bunnies and yellow sunsets behind them.

I pictured myself eating a chocolate cross and perceived how little our society thinks of it.

The cross.

An instrument of death.

The symbol of Christianity in edible form on Resurrection Sunday.

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Home is Where Jesus is

9f3b4a6efbe2e9a892757ed19e976bdaI positioned my right foot on the edge of the lower bookshelf and grasped the rail of my upper bunk with my left hand. I hoisted myself up and flung forward, letting the momentum deliver me directly to the pillow. I nestled my cheek into its softness and pulled my blanket up to my nose. Curled up in a ball, I closed my eyes and began to drift. From the sound of the groans below me, I could tell my cabin mate was seasick too. All of this twisting and turning had most of the ship’s crew laid out in their cabins. On deck, it was a ghost town. Only the seasoned sea farers survived this kind of weather without succumbing to vile queasiness.

After a few months on board I became accustomed to the constant hum of the ship’s engines and the incline from stern to bow which made me feel like I was walking uphill all day. I was even used to the steady sway beneath my feet as small waves and currents brushed the ship’s side. But not this. This watery roller coaster with corkscrew twists and turns made me long for solid ground. Continue reading

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The Simple Things

272ed4054d35370eed43bbc6436b3cf9Four years ago I started my first blog: Walking by Faith. Like most of my endeavors, I started strong; long posts, countless unfinished drafts awaiting final words, endless hours of formatting as I attempted to tackle the huge learning curve involved in creating and maintaining a “hit” blog.

I spent hours talking to my husband about the name. I wanted something catchy, something that readers would remember. I wanted pictures and fun things to click on, links galore and guest contributors. I daydreamed aloud until my hubby finally said, “Jennifer, stop talking and just start writing. Worry about the bells and whistles later.”

Oh… but talking is just so much easier than writing and daydreaming is just so much easier than doing.

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