Hope of the World

Today we began decorating for Jesus Birthday. And can I just say, I really hate not getting to share pictures of all our current family members. 😩 It almost feels wrong picking over the photos of our cute little munchkins, like I’m leaving them out. But, rules are rules.

Little babies teensy little hand

Big babies chunky foot 🙂

This Advent season I am reading through John Piper’s devotional The Dawning of Indestructible Joy. You can download it for free from Desiring God’s website. Today’s devotional is entitled Why Christmas Happened and the scripture used is 1 John 3:5, 8 “And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him…..The Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.”

Before John Piper even goes on to tell me “Make this personal and love Him for it” I already am. Not only do I love Him for coming and taking away my sin but I love Him so much for destroying the works of the devil. Works like anger, hatred, addictions, abuse, rebellion, and specifically works like broken families and children in foster care. I have felt hopeless for our boys being reunited with healthy parents. I have felt concerned at the thought of them going to another family member. I have felt confused not knowing if, given the opportunity, we should adopt them. I have felt unsure about their stability in life.

And then He came.

“”Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations……And his name will be the hope of all the world.”” Matthew‬ ‭12:18, 21‬ ‭

His name will be the hope these boys need.

His name is the hope their parents need.

His name will be the hope of all the world.

I am so thankful for Christmas. Every year we get to take time to focus on and have our perspectives refreshed on why Jesus came and what that means for us.

For me this year it means I don’t need to feel hopeless for these two baby boys and their family. God has clearly intervened on their lives and allowed us to play a role and no matter what happens I can trust our time is not meaningless. Because Jesus came I have hope that God is at work even if I can’t see or understand from my limited perspective.

Jesus came to take away sin. My sin. Their sin. Your sin. 

I pray this Christmas this truth resonates deeper in our hearts than it did the last. I pray we would understand the magnitude of Jesus coming and that it would strengthen weak faith, give hope to the hopeless, bring light to those living in dark, call home those who have walked away, and bring people from death to life. I pray with the deepest gratitude in our hearts we would celebrate our Rescuer and King, the Hope of the world.

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:9-10‬


Sorrowful Saturday

They were human.

As we’ve been intentionally reflecting on Holy Week and the accounts of the days leading up to the Resurrection, I’m reminded once again of how human the disciples and Jesus are. They were real people with real feelings.

I went back to John this morning and read chapter sixteen verse sixteen through eighteen. It says, “Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.””

They didn’t know what was coming. And this is important to remember because on this day following Jesus death they would have been experiencing deep grief and utter confusion. “What just happened?”

Then there is Peter…. Facing the overwhelming despair that he denied he was a follower of Christ. Can you imagine? In your Saviors most painful hour you completely disassociate with Him and deny even knowing Him. “Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.” Luke 22:60-62

For several years now we have chosen to watch the Passion of the Christ on Good Friday. Jesus was fully God and fully Man. But let’s be honest, we tend to think that Him being fully God took away from the human side of Him. He was sinless, but he wasn’t a robot void of human emotions. He experienced sadness and pain. “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22:44 As The Passion gives us a visual for what Jesus went through physically and emotionally it is clear that he is very much human.

Obedience, grace and love.

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.” Isaiah‬ ‭42:1-4‬

“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews‬ ‭12:2‬B

Knowing exactly what He would endure He yielded Himself to the Fathers will. Not only that but in the midst of excruciating pain and suffering He extended grace and forgiveness to all those that denied and persecuted Him. To us. We are the persecutors and the Peter’s. And all you have to do is read the scriptures to see how gracious Jesus is to our unbelieving and disobedient hearts. He offers forgiveness. Luke 23:34 “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'”

Today I take in the death of Christ. The times I have denied him, betrayed him even. I weep bitterly along with Peter.

They were human just like me. Just like you.

But then….. tomorrow will come! His death will not be in vain.

“I assure you: You will weep and wail, but the world will rejoice. You will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy.” John‬ ‭16:20‬

Because of Jesus Christs indescribable, amazing love for us, our sins have been nailed to the cross.

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:24‬ ‭

May your sorrow turn to joy this Easter.

In His grace,

The Scrooge in me….

There are some of us that around Christmas time we feel a bit like a “Scrooge”. I was having a conversation with a friend about how excessive Christmas can seem in light of, not only the abundance we live in but also the real reason we celebrate. We struggle with buying more when everyone we know has enough. Every Christmas I fear we’re missing the point (again) because we are distracted by shopping, spending, wrapping, traveling, cooking, party hopping, gift exchanging, on and on and round and round the crazy Christmas carousel we go. “How do you stop the madness?!”, I wonder. The Scrooge in me wants to cry out “That’s it! No more presents! We don’t need one more item, one more gift card…..” (Quite frankly, I’m tired of storing and cleaning all this STUFF.) Yet the Spirit of God in me says, “Calm down dear daughter. I am the Giver and I delight in giving good gifts. It’s why I sent my Son.”

Here are a couple things the Lord has reminded me about gift giving around this time of year:

1.) Think about who you’re giving to and where they are at in their relationship with Christ. Do they even have relationship with Christ?
2.) Will not giving gifts to others represent Christ well? Will they understand where you are coming from? There is a place for moderating our giving but it may be reserved for those closest to us, in our home, who know our motives and are joined with us in them.
3.) It’s not about you. God may be impressing and revealing things to us that others are not able to see yet. Don’t let legalism creep in and snatch your opportunity to generously love someone closer to Christ.

With all that being said I want to share with you a couple ways that you can give gifts AND be intentional with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Consider them gifts with a greater purpose.

Christian books are always a great gift, in my book 😉 pun intended. Butter your reader up to their new literature with a 10 dollar Starbucks card. Can’t hurt 🙂 I highly recommend anything by Francis Chan, he spans generations with Crazy Love and Forgotten God and also has one specifically for married couples, You and Me Forever. I’ve read them all and they are solid. Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman is good, as is The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. I am in the middle of reading Radical by David Platt and plan to make it a Christmas gift myself. 🙂 If you are uncertain about a book ask someone who is mature in their faith that you can trust to point you in the right direction. Just because it’s in the Christian section of Barnes and Noble doesn’t mean it’s Christ exalting.

A good study Bible from Christianbook.com would be a most excellent gift for someone new in their faith journey. If in your budget have it imprinted with their name to make it extra special 🙂 I know Bibles can be expensive but honestly,….. can you even put a price on the Word of God? I don’t think so.

Katie Davis Majors is the author of Kisses from Katie and founder of Amazima ministries. You can learn more about her through the website. This *link* will take you to the store where you will find handmade items that benefit and empower women and children in Uganda through the ministry of Amazima. I recently purchased an Alice bracelet. Not only do the proceeds serve a greater purpose but consider the story behind the bracelet when it’s worn and how that in itself can point others to Jesus. Win Win 🙂 Not to mention it’s very cute!

You can find gift items at other places, Lifeway is one suggestion, where the proceeds benefit foreign missions or a specific cause. We just have to be intentional in finding these kinds of gifts.

So for those of us who struggle with the Scrooge complex…… let us overcome it with joyful, godly, prayerful and purposeful giving.

A living sacrifice in uncertain times

God has been laying a specific thought on me in relation to giving. Uncertainty. Or as Oswald Chambers puts it “Gracious uncertainty”.

God is so unexpected in how he operates. I was reminded by the timeless Christmas song “Mary did you know?” How much faith Jesus mother, Mary, had to exercise in so many moments of uncertainty. From the time she became, shockingly, pregnant with the Messiah. To the point at which she watched him be brutally murdered on a cross. And then consider the disciples… In Mark it says of Jesus “Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.” (Mark 6:7-8) They had to feel at least a little uncertain.. But Jesus wants us to grow in complete and utter dependence on him. So he WILL ask us or just put us in situations where we have no other choice but to rely on him alone.

When we give, whether it be time, energy, money, affections.. we are acknowledging that something is valuable and worth investing in. Often times though God calls us to invest in things we are uncertain about. He calls us to give to people, causes, and places that we have no idea if we will ever see a return on the investment. The challenge for us in giving is we want to be certain that what we gave was well spent. When we give we are confronted with the choice to either trust in ourselves, our knowledge, and our attempts to control or to trust in God, his knowledge and his control… Giving often places us in the vulnerable position of being uncertain. But remember, Mary and the disciples were not given any more foreknowledge then us. They simply had to trust.

In the words of Oswald Chambers: “We are not uncertain of God, but uncertain of what He is going to do next. ‘Believe also in Me,’ Jesus said. Not- ‘Believe certain things about Me.’ Leave the whole thing to Him. It is gloriously uncertain how He will come in, but He will come. Remain loyal to Him.”

Friends, be certain of God. We live in a world full of uncertainty but we have a God that we can trust completely. Stay faithful to Him.

“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 (Thessalonians‬ ‭1‬:‭11-12‬ NIV)

Thoughts of Thanksgiving

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

I am thankful for the freedom to worship Jesus Christ freely, whenever and wherever I want. I am thankful that I can leave open Bibles all over my house with no concern of someone coming into my home and turning me over to authorities or possibly killing me right there on the spot. I am thankful that I can read my Bible- no seriously, that I am literally capable of reading- and additionally I can do so and pray in public, a freedom that could soon be lost. I am thankful for the Creator, the God of the universe Who chose to create this world and all that inhabits it. Every breath we take is given to us by God. I love how David Leonard and Leslie Jordan, All Sons and Daughters, wrote in Great are You Lord: It’s Your breath, in our lungs, so we pour out our praise…

We all are living and breathing because we have a God that makes it so. Just think about that for a moment.Stop and consider God’s wonders. Job 37:14

I am thankful that in his mercy he allows us to have relationship with him, to be loved by him and to do good works for him. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians‬ ‭2‬:‭10‬ God’s children get the magnificent opportunity of being his hands and feet to a lost and broken world. And when you experience what that’s like- whether it’s providing a used baby crib to someone in need, ministering to orphans and widows in a foreign country, reaching out to a new friend for Bible study or serving chili on a Friday night to the homeless- God does something that only he can do. “You give life, You are love, You bring light to the darkness. You are hope, You restore, every heart that is broken…..”

“Great are you Lord…” God is the greatest GIVER of all. He gave/gives us life in every sense of the word. We rebel, some deny his very existence, and in response to our rebellion he GAVE his one and only Son as an atoning sacrifice to save us. We- a wicked, depraved, corrupt, sinful people- Jesus gives his very own life for. This is truly mind blowing to us so much to the point that some refuse to believe it. That’s because God is so much greater than us and we could never be so good, so GIVING-apart.from.him. Our only hope to be kind, loving, patient, generous and sacrificial people is directly related to our pursuit of a kind, loving, patient, generous, sacrificial God.

Thanksgiving is not just a holiday. It’s a lifestyle. It’s living in light of all that God has done, all that Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross. Thankfulness should be pouring out of us daily. No matter what our circumstance is, what we can’t understand, what we can’t change, we can be thankful that Jesus Christ is our hope and this world is not our home. We are just passing through and how we pass through does matter. When we encounter the saving grace of  holy God, thankfulness is the natural response of overwhelming gratitude to the King of Glory. ThanksGIVING is spending ourselves for our Savior and His Kingdom because He alone is worthy of all our energy, time, affections, and not to mention he first GAVE to us. For God so loved the world that.he.gave. His one and only Son.

Father may we remember to always be thankful. Thankful for your love and grace. And that this would be so evident in us as Believers that the resulting joyfulness would be an invitation to those around us to taste and see that the Lord is good. May we share this ongoing thanksgiving with everyone you bring to us. And all the praise, glory, and honor are to you Lord.image

Obedience and closure are what I’m after :)

Since I was a little girl I have always enjoyed writing. Even from an academic stand point writing to me was fun. I still find great joy in writing for pleasure but over the years I have learned that writing is much more than a hobby for me. God has actually gifted me with exhortation, the gift of encouragement. Apparently he gave me a thing for words. 🙂 I don’t know if this is twofold for everyone who possesses this spiritual gift but writing is extremely therapeutic for me as well. Over the last 5 years I have found great delight, rest, and release in writing on this little blog site. Not only has it allowed me to document precious memories but I’ve been able to connect with many of you, sharing in the faith, and mutually encouraging each other. It’s not always easy to blog though. Sometimes I find myself compelled to write on more sensitive subjects and in the aftermath questioning “Is this how God wants me to use what he has gifted me with?” Being confronted with the fact that I AM a sinful human being inevitably means I won’t always get it “(w)ri(te)ght.” Just because I type something up that I feel incredibly passionate about and tag on Jesus Name does not make it infallible. Only the Word of God possesses that quality. Every part of me wants every part of my life, even a blog, to represent Christ well. And I am fully aware that every single one of our words carries weight in matters of eternity.

Though imperfectly, when approaching this public avenue of writing I have tried to be very prayerful, reliant on the Holy Spirit, and at times accountable to more mature believers. I have sought to view this as a ministry of encouragement. I’ve shared about family memories, marriage fun and fails, the struggles and joys of parenting, and the delights of being an over-thinking melancholy, among other things. I have written things that are personal, embarrassing even, because I genuinely felt led by the Lord to be authentic and reveal how the power of His love moves us to repentance and turning from selfish ways.

Still, I find myself wondering, in a world where we have SO MANY people expressing themselves in public forums, could our exposure to such a wide range of lifestyles and opinions be polluting the ONE opinion that matters? We are even warned in scripture to be careful of those whose words we allow to persuade us. I was reminded this morning in Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

Ultimately I don’t want people to just listen to me. I have always wanted my writing to lead people to Christ, to study and listen to HIS Word. This blog isn’t meant to express “Look at how we do life. Mimic our way it’s the right way.” It’s supposed to be expressing “We’re trying to seek the Lord in each decision and moment. This is how he’s working in our life. We’re not perfect. Our way isn’t right but HIS WAY is.” I know. Not the most fluid caption. That’s why I chose the Ephesians verse instead. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Inadvertently I have taken several weeks off from posting here. I have been writing though. You just don’t even understand how necessary it is for me. 🙂 I mean a lot has happened in the last month! But lately I write and then something interesting occurs. I get a very strong sense, as if God is gently speaking over me “Just leave this one between you and me. It’s treasured and cared about here.” When this first happened I actually had to ask myself “Is this enough for you? Is it enough, that God, your Creator, and Heavenly Father, hears your hearts concerns, your joyful moments, your passionate beliefs? Or do you still need someone else to validate you?” It may sound like a small insignificant step but in faith I laid it at his feet actively answering the question that He is enough for me. He knows my thoughts and hears every prayer and that is absolutely all I need. So that was the first time. I didn’t really expect to have to do it again and again. But God knows me best and practice makes perfect right?

I believe God is leading me to step away from this blog for a season….. or all 4 seasons…. I’m not real sure how long. A lot of big changes, total God things, have happened in our life in the last 6 months. In fact a lot I haven’t even typed out here. :-/ Sorry if this seems vague it’s not you, it’s me. 😉 As we continue in what the Lord has laid before us and impressed on our hearts, His Spirit just keeps telling me to “Be personal, not virtual. Use your gifts in real time, real life, in the flesh. Trust Me. I’ll bring people in your life to speak truth to you. I’ll also lead to you those who need the truth and will listen and hear My voice.” I love in 2 John 12 how he writes “I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you in person and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.”

Of course I believe we can benefit from the outside perspectives of strong trusted Christians. It’s called being a disciple. We are called to it and to do it after the point of our conversion all the way till we get to Heaven. (Matthew 28:18-20 The Great Commission: Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”) Pretty sure Jesus expected us to do it like him. Most of discipleship is going to take place in person. 😉 We can’t stay home alone with our Bible and close our self off from allowing God to use PEOPLE in our life. Not at all. But we do need to be cautious of WHO we listen to. The fact is there’s a lot of misinterpretation of the Bible and misrepresentation of Christ out there. 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say whatever their itching ears want to hear.” I do read lots of Christian books and heed instruction from mature believers but I also take every word, belief, or idea back to scripture. I pray that we who call ourselves Christian would be vigilant, prayerful, and devoted students of the Word of God.

This really is as they say bittersweet. 🙂 Thank you for being so gracious with me. Many of you have let me “Work out my salvation with fear and trembling” here and have been extremely uplifting with your responses whether by comment, text, phone, or email. So… until I am I led to write again,…

Grace and peace be with you all.