The Grace of His Resurrection

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26

And do we believe it? That the same Jesus who Himself rose from the very grave that should have held us, will raise us to Life again too? Do we believe that all of our dead parts can be resurrected again in His name? Do we believe that He has conquered all darkness in being the Light of Life? Do we believe that He is alive? He is capable of creating and reviving Life in every form. Jesus was born a physical birth and died a physical death, that God might become man and save us in every physical and spiritual way. If you are looking for new life in the physical sense this Easter, know that God can do it. If you are looking for new life in the spiritual sense, know that Jesus has done it. There is no part of you that cannot be touched by the resurrection power of Easter morning and by the saving Love of Christ. When Jesus declared, “It is finished” He meant all of it. All of the darkness, all of the brokenness, all of it lost its power because Christ had the last word over death and He has the first word in the creation and restoration of our new Life in Him. O death where is your sting? O sin where is your victory? We know that the victory belongs to Christ. And because of that, we too walk forth from our tombs today and believe. He didn’t die for part of you, He died for all of you. That means Easter is for your spiritual, physical, personal, and emotional Life. He proved that as He hung on the cross, as He cared for His weeping mother as He Himself hung on a tree, as He healed the soul of a thief as he hung next to Him, as He physically healed the ear of one who sought to take Him captive in the Garden. Whatever dead part of your life is holding you captive, whether it be a relationship, an illness, infertility or loss, know that Jesus can restore your Life personally. Know that He came to save the whole world, but He also came specifically for you. So what about you, friend? He has Risen. Do you believe it? Will you let that truth Resurrect your Life?

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Lenten Grace

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of Christ. – Romans 8:38-39

Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter all come down to this. Christ loved us. As He washed the feet of His disciples, as He broke the bread and gave the wine, as He wept in the garden, as He carried the cross, as He gave up His life, as He rose from the grave…He had your name written in His heart. These moments of lent are incredibly personal. Together we know Him, individually we feel His presence in our lives. He died for those He loved and for those who didn’t love Him. He died for those who had not yet breathed the breath of life. That we might know Him and come Home. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe in those scar marked hands and feet, in a love they’ve felt deeper in their souls than anything else, in a Savior who made sure that even death wouldn’t separate us from Him.

Grace in the Resurrection

It’s a quiet, still, grey kind of Wednesday. Somehow it feels appropriate, this quiet before our Savior’s washing of feet and breaking of bread which we will remember tomorrow. I think very often we are afraid of these quiet reveries, these moments when our brokenness is most realized and when the magnitude of what our Savior did for us sinks down deep. Maybe it’s because we know the incredible Joy that follows these next few days. We know He didn’t stay in the darkness of His death, and we know we won’t stay in ours anymore either. We have life. And it is the fullest kind of Life. But it’s important to remember the broken days that came before Easter, and the broken days that we have endured too. We know the fullness of the Resurrection only because we are familiar with the brokenness of sin. Maybe this Easter there are dead places in your life calling out for resurrection. Maybe there is joy we have buried deep. Maybe there is cloth covering wounds that need to be exposed in order to be healed by Him. Whatever your brokenness this Easter, know that Christ breaks with you and for you. Know that brokenness no longer means a death sentence, but instead a deeper understanding and realization of the Resurrection only Jesus can bring. Maybe you feel like Lazarus, forgotten and placed in a tomb. But know this, we have a Savior who not only has risen from the dead Himself but who calls out to us to breathe again too, to walk in the light, to Live forever. Just as Jesus remembered Lazarus, He remembers you too. Tombs and dark places are no longer our prisons. Instead they are only waiting places until Jesus bursts in. He has more for you then your dark days. He has life, life to the fullest. Maybe you are like Mary, in the waiting. Not knowing that in three days her joy would be restored and her tears would be wiped dry. Know this, Jesus shows up. If you are in a season of darkness and waiting this Easter season know that Jesus is near, He has promised to be with us always. Nothing is too big for Him. No one is too small. The same Savior who conquered the grave and all sin has conquered your personal battles too. He is risen and so shall we.

The Return of Autumnal Grace: A Season of Home

Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace; streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise. – Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Robert Robinson

Last autumn I felt like everything was slowing down. It was as if for a brief moment time was standing still and I was caught up in the autumnal beauty of it all. Life felt hard, but standing beneath the towering trees with their aged wisdom and their twirling crowns of golden leaves swirling to the ground felt like peace.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under Heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

I feel God the strongest in these autumn months, and each year as September comes to a close I hear the refrain of Come Thou Fount reverberating in my head. Thanksgiving is coming, and the golden hue of the changing physical world around me reminds me of that.

October brings with it pumpkins, and cider, and cooler weather, and memories. I think it’s true that if you search the dorm rooms and the apartments and the houses of my sisters and me you will find warmth and a reflection of what our Mama used to create for us every fall, a safe home even when the world outside was crumbling.


And so when my kitchen suddenly begins to turn out pies and pumpkin seasoned everything, and the flannel sheets make their way to our beds, and the candles that smell like cinnamon and leaves begin to appear on our tables…it’s not so much a reflection of our consumerism as it is a reflection of what we know…a reflection of when we most felt at home.

When I stand beneath the towering trees of autumn, with their limbs spread out as strong arms carrying gifts of red and gold, I feel like I do in my Mama’s kitchen, at home. Except the home that I feel beneath those trees is something more spiritual. It’s where I can hear God’s voice again and it’s where all the hymns of Thanksgiving from my youth begin to pour from my heart.


For most, I think maybe January or maybe the spring season brings that feeling of starting over, but for me it always begins again in October. I grew up in a liturgical church and I often wonder if I feel this way because it is when the church calendar really begins to start up after the long break of summer. Our hearts are beginning to prepare for the season of Reformation, and then Thanksgiving, and then Advent. These are the seasons which breathe life into my bones, and when I think it feels most like Heaven will to me, my Spiritual Home.

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Corinthians 5: 1

I tell you this today because for me October means the chance to refocus myself on the presence of God, to be renewed in thankfulness, and to be reminded of His deep Grace for us and His overwhelming desire to be with us.

Every hard thing in our life is like a season, some lasting longer than others. Each of these seasons bring change, but each one also carries its own unique kind of beauty. By the end of this autumn you can be sure that I will feel anxious for those first flakes of snow to fall, to move on from what I thought I wanted to dwell in forever.

Oh to Grace, how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be! Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above. – Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Robert Robinson

Soak in what you can, what beauty and grace and what remnants of home each season in life offers. They will only last a little while, and if we’re not careful to slow down and see the moments of Grace we might miss them.

 

 

 

A Grace Note: Blessings and Grace 


Dear Reader, 

God gives us seasons of work and seasons of Rest, and both it seems, are good for our souls. I have this desire to be back at the cabin already so I can soak up some more of that Northern Wisconsin summer sun, and yet at the same time my heart is filled with the desire to get back to the work of everyday life so that we can be a tiny bit closer to bringing our baby home. His Rest is meant to carry us through the times that it would seem we don’t have time to soak in Rest of our own, and so I plan on carrying the blessings of the slow paced life of last week into the whirlwind that is sure to be this week ahead. “Praise Him from whom all blessings flow”. My husband and I speak often about holding more reverence for what is actually a blessing from God. Sometimes I label things such as vacation, or our home, or time off as blessings…but the truth is that God doesn’t just provide when the living is easy. The height of His goodness is evident when the living is hard. When we think everything is broken, or messed up, or destroyed…that is when God shows up with the blessing of His presence. And so I want to shift my language, I want to shift my thoughts about what is Good and what is hard, what is blessing and what is simply easy. Maybe when things get tough, that’s when we’re meant to speak about the blessings of God, because it is truly then that all the glory really does go to Him. An easy life doesn’t necessarily mean a blessed life, and a hard life does not mean the absence of blessing. I am striving to understand this better and to see more clearly the heart of our Father. For He is Good and all of His ways are Love. Blessings on your Sabbath Day, friends. May you feel the real Goodness of God today whether the road you walk or the life you live is hard or easy going. “For the Lord your God goes with you wherever you go.” 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

The Language of Thanksgiving: Day Nine

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

Our church is going through Colossians. Today during the sermon my eyes wandered ahead to this passage: “Let the Peace of Christ rule in your heart” I don’t think those are words we place together very often, “let peace rule”. 

I find myself fighting to rule my circumstances each day. I catch myself fighting for peace, struggling to let go of conflict and stress, and gripping hard my dreams and realities. But scripture tells us to let Peace rule…we don’t rule Christ’s peace. We don’t get to tell it what to do or when to show up or mold it to how we think it should fit in our lives. 

Did you know our hearts and souls were fought over? Did you know the kingdom of chaos and darkness and stress wanted you too? But our God, the God of light and peace and mercy stepped right down and broke our chains…because He wanted us more. And each day of our lives here on earth we stand at a crossroad of peace and chaos, of light and darkness. 

Freedom in Christ means that Peace gets control of our hearts. Isn’t that beautiful? And scripture pleads with us to let that Peace rule in our lives! Christ didn’t wage war against the enemy so that we would still be bound to its vices. He won the battle so you would be caught up in His love.

 Peace it would seem is a choice. It’s free in Christ. Will you take it? Will you let it rule? Will you speak of it? Will you let your heart be saturated with it?

 In our language of thankfulness to God there must be this underlying foundation…Christ’s Peace. When we take hold of this gift we’ve been given, Christ can unlock all our doors, open all of our closed minds, and release our hearts from the bondage that once held them. Christ is your Victor, His Peace is our prize. How will this change your language today? How will this change your life? 

The Language of Thanksgiving: Day 3 

“Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy” Exodus 20:8 

I met a little girl this week who is afraid of loud noises. And my heart skipped a beat because, aren’t we all? Aren’t we all afraid of the loud noises in this world, the ones that say we aren’t good enough or the ones that make us feel small and fragile?

 I was thinking today about how Jesus went to quiet places after being surrounded by the loud voices and the masses and the people reaching out to Him. He rested and He went to a place where the voices of the world were quiet enough that He could hear God.

“After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray.” Matthew 14:23

 I’m thankful today for our God who has always called us to rest, who has set that within His law and also His gospel, that we would be still and know Him, that we would just be with Him on the Sabbath for awhile. 

The loud language of this earth is that we work, and that we run, and that we climb ladders, and we dream bigger. But God is big enough for the both of us. Exhaustion is not what He has for us, but rather peace. Peace doesn’t mean an easy life. It doesn’t mean lazy. It simply means that we have found the balance between being in this world but being found in God. 

Quiet places often lead to the most powerful forms of Grace. If your life is loud today, take just a moment of stillness with Him. Listen to that worship song. Sit awhile with His word. Look out over His creation. Know that He loves you. I’m thankful that our ever powerful God has shown us beauty in the quiet and still places. That He revives us after we’ve come through the storm. That He leads us beside quiet waters and that He restores our souls. 

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 

Today let your language be that of rest, of peace, of Thanksgiving. Let the loud world fade to quiet for a moment. Let God’s voice in. 

A Sunday Grace Reflection: To the Top of the Tower

Holy Hill located in Wisconsin


Sometimes church steeples poke their heads out high above tall trees full of golden yellows and rich reds, almost as if to say “you’re not looking high enough, look higher still”. God’s ways are above our ways, and His light and His love shine down on us from even the highest heights. No depth can keep you from Him, you always only need look up…above the tree tops, above the steeples, above the clouds. Keep looking up to the God whose face shines brightly down back at you, and I think you will find that He can make you rise from ashes, He can make you rise from the lowest points of life.

 

Holy Hill located in Wisconsin

So yesterday we climbed to the top of the tower to maybe see if we could see the world as God sees it, and do you want to know what we found when we got to the top? That God was higher still. And while we couldn’t reach His height we found that He wasn’t out of reach. Because our God who is higher, loved us enough to come lower, and to live where we live and to breathe what we breathe and to suffer what we suffer and to carry our cross. Way up high is a kingdom we haven’t seen yet, and yet there is a God we have felt and who has felt our hearts. It doesn’t matter how high we climb, it matters how high we look. If we are always looking up to the one who is higher, it is in Him we will rise, and in this rising we will live.