Who do you say Jesus is?

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I’ve heard people say that Jesus was just a good man, a good teacher, but they deny that he is God. This is a travesty because the importance of Jesus’ death on the cross is rooted in the fact that he is fully God, and was also fully human.

As C.S. Lewis said, “Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord.” He cannot be just a good teacher, because he claimed to be the Son of God. If he made that claim and it was not true, then he was either completely insane or a liar. That type of person does not make a good teacher. He can’t be just a good teacher. That is not an option. And if he’s not a lunatic or a liar, then who is he?

Jesus is Lord. Lord of all. King of kings.

Jesus, as fully human, lived a completely sinless life on earth.

He then willingly chose to lay down his life to take the punishment that every single one of us deserve. He stood in our place and took every sin upon him as he suffered and died. Our sins held him there on that cross.

Satan thought he had won. But Jesus was still in control. No one took his life from him, he laid it down. He could have exercised his ultimate authority on all of creation and saved himself, but instead he chose to offer the gift of salvation to anyone who will believe.

3 days later, because he is God, he conquered death and rose from the grave. He is alive! We serve a risen Savior – the one, true God.

Today is Saturday. The day we remember Christ’s death and his time in the tomb. But thankfully, he is not in that tomb today. He is alive and seated at the right hand of our Heavenly Father waiting for the day he will return to this earth to gather his followers to live with him forever.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

Have you talked to God today?

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This morning, Facebook, Instagram and Messenger were all down for a couple hours or so. As I was having my quiet time with the Lord, I pondered something. I imagine a lot of people were uncomfortably shaken by the lack of contact with their friends, family, or even strangers that they follow online. But I wondered, do we get that uncomfortable when we start the day without God? When we rush into the day before we’ve taken time to pray and read his Word?

We should be uncomfortable if we rush into the day without connecting first with our Lord and Savior, who created us and is in complete control of our day. We should feel uncomfortable if we haven’t called to him and asked him for peace in the midst of all we have going on around us. We should feel uncomfortable if we rush ahead without first seeking his wisdom and guideance.

The great news is that his line of communication is always open. He is available to us 24/7, 365 days a year. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ when he died on the cross for our sins, we have access to our Heavenly Father anytime. We don’t have to wait for a certain time or day. We don’t have to go through another person in order to communicate with God. We can just talk to him directly anytime, and he promises us that if we seek him with our whole heart, he will be found by us. When we call out to him, he always listens. He is never too busy, too tired, or unavailable for us.

So before you rush off into your day, take time to meet with God. He knows your every need and he will take care of you. He loves you so much that he chose to create you and he desires to have a relationship with you. Call out to him and talk to him as you would a loving father, because that’s just who He is.

Waiting on the Army, While Trusting in God

One year ago today, Rob submitted his retirement packet to the Army. 365 days later, we are still waiting to find out if it will be approved or not. He has served 22 years, but the reality is the Army can deny a retirement request anytime before the person has served 30 years based on “needs of the Army”. We have been told not to expect an answer until May, so we are still waiting.

But we know we are not really waiting on the Army. We’re waiting on the Lord God. He already knows what is going to happen and he will reveal it to us when he is ready. Whatever his plan, and whichever direction he takes us, we will follow him and trust him.

The challenging part for me is the lack of planning.  I like to be able to plan ahead. I’d like to know where I will be this Fall. Which state will I be living in? As different events come up for later in the year, I wonder if I’ll be able to attend them. It’s often just the little things that remind me that I am not in control.

I have complete faith that God’s ways are best and I know that he will be with us in whatever he calls us to do. I’m not even worried at all, because we have seen God work in our lives so much that I have no doubt he will lead us and provide what we need wherever we go. Where I struggle is just sitting back and waiting for the plan to be revealed. I’m just curious and eager to know what’s coming next, and if I’m honest, just a little impatient. But I’m working on it.

I know from personal experience that his timing even in the revealing of the plan is always perfect. I know there have been times in my life that if he had shown me the plan ahead of time, I would have worried about how it was going to work out. Or I might have altered my behavior in an effort to try to change the plan. I might have even run the other way away from his plan because I was scared. I don’t want to do that because I truly want to follow him. He knows us best and he knows the right time to show us the next step he wants us to take. In the meantime, he wants us to be still and know that he is God. He wants us to trust him with the very lives he gave us.

And once he does reveal the plan, he’ll guide us through the steps we need to take as we go from “Hurry up & wait”, to “The wait is over, now hurry up!”.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

(Isaish 55:8-9)

Leap Day 2024 – Take a Leap of Faith

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Happy Leap Day! Have you taken a “leap of faith” lately? Maybe you are still standing back at a safe distance trying to decide if you will jump or not. Do you have that thing that you feel God is nudging you to do, but you are afraid to try? Maybe you are afraid it won’t work out, that you will fail, or that you will have wasted time. Maybe you are afraid of rejection, concerned about what others will think, or maybe you just feel inadequate for the task.

We read in Exodus how Moses went through this same challenge. God came to him and spoke to him directly (through a burning bush) telling him to go talk to Pharoh about letting God’s people go free. Moses actually heard God’s audible voice telling him what to do! You would think he would immediately obey after that, but he didn’t. Instead, he argued with God.

Moses started by saying, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘the Lord did not appear to you’?”. He was concerned that they might not believe that God had told him to do this task. Can you relate to that?

God then reminded Moses that he was in complete control as he turned Moses’ staff into a snake and back into a staff again. Then he covered Moses’ hand with leprosy and healed it again.  God told Moses that if they don’t believe the first sign, show them the second. If they still don’t believe the second sign, he had another one up his sleeve, so to speak. He told Moses to take some water from the Nile river and put it on the ground and it would turn into blood.

With those reminders that God can do anything, did Moses choose to obey?

No, he argued some more. He told God that he was not the guy for the job. Moses argued that he was not a good speaker, had never been eloquent and was slow in speech. Of course, God already knew his limitations. That was the point.

God reminded Moses that it was He who gave humans the ability to talk. He said, “Who gave humans their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord?”

Surely now Moses would choose to obey, after all, he’s talking directly with the Lord. There is no question who was giving him these orders.

But once again, Moses let his fear take over as he told God to get someone else for the job. He said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

At this point in the story, we are told that the Lord’s anger burned against Moses. However, what I also see here is his amazing grace. The Lord said he would send Moses’ brother Aaron with him since he could speak well. God said, “I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do.”

If you are not familiar with the story, Moses ends up going. You can read about it in Exodus starting in chapter 1. Moses’ birth is in chapter 2, and his encounter with the Lord and the burning bush is chapter 3.

God has incredible patience with us and extends us his grace even when we are slow to respond and obey. But oh, how we can be blessed and bless others when we choose to step out in faith and obey his calling. What is the Lord telling you to do? Whatever it is, our enemy the devil will try to keep you from doing it. The devil’s priority is to distract you, deceive you, delay you, discourage you and destroy you. Even if he knows he already lost your soul to Jesus, he wants to keep you from being effective for God’s kingdom here on earth. Don’t let him win! Take a leap of faith and trust that if God calls you to do something, he will prepare you and equip you to do it. He knows your limitations, and He wants to use you in spite of those limitations. God is all powerful and nothing is impossible with him, so he wants you to rely on his power, not your own.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Love is a gift from God

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Main image with verse

Sometimes the little things are really the big things. This morning, I enjoyed a delicious breakfast made by my husband and daughter. Sausage and sweet potato hash, soft-boiled eggs and homemade-from-scratch green chile & cheddar sourdough toast. I sat at the bar enjoying my morning cup of tea and watching them work in the kitchen together while we all chatted. Usually we try to abide by the motto of, “you cooked, so we’ll clean”, but this morning Rob insisted on doing all the cleanup too.

I love that I get to be married to my best friend! We laugh and play together regularly. We love and serve each other. We are a team in all we do. We enjoy sharing hobbies, playing games, or just chatting over a cup of tea. We enjoy the fun things together, and work well together in the lesser fun things. I love doing life with him knowing that he is seeking God with all his heart as he leads our family.

I’m also incredibly thankful for the relationship we have with Emily. When kids are little, you hope that you’ll get to be friends with them when they are adults. I’m so glad to say that’s exactly what we have with Emily now that she’s a young adult. She is someone we love to have deep conversations with as well as play silly games with. She blesses our family as she cooks, cleans, and cares for us in many ways. She’s a joy to be around and we truly love spending time with her.

It’s important for you to know this – the relationship that I have with both of them is no coincidence and is not of our own doing. It is a gift from God that has been nurtured over many years. God was there in the beginning of our relationship and every step along the way. He provided us with mentors, friends, marriage retreats, parenting classes and of course his Word to guide us and show us how to have the best relationships we possibly can. We had to open our hearts and minds to receive the teaching from God and from the many people he put in our life. We had to admit we couldn’t do it ourselves and seek out help. We had to choose to make God the center of our family since the day of our wedding. Because we all focus on loving him individually, we also love each other well.

This is what 1 Corinthians 13 says about LOVE.

Love is patient.

Love is kind.

Love does not envy.

Love does not boast.

Love is not proud.

Love does not dishonor others.

Love is not self-seeking.

Love is not easily angered.

Love keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.

Love always protects.

Love always trusts.

Love always hopes.

Love always perseveres.

Love never fails.

I’ve heard that a good way to see how we are doing in the area of love is to read that passage from 1 Corinthians and substitute our own name for the word love. For example, “Stacy is patient. Stacy is kind.” When we do that, we see how much we truly fall short. But we aren’t meant to do it on our own! In fact, we couldn’t do any of this without Jesus. Without him, we would be self-seeking, prideful, quick-tempered, easily offended, and entitled. But with Jesus as our Lord, as we lean on him and rely on his grace, then he equips us to better love others as he loves us.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (James 1:17)

Jesus is my defense

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Our family often watches the old show, Perry Mason. One consistent theme in the show is that not only does Perry always prove that his client is innocent, but he also brings to light who the real criminal is.  Another thing we see often is that Perry will agree to represent a client even when they can’t afford to pay. He once accepted $0.38 from a lady because that was all she had in her purse.

It reminds me of what Jesus did and continues to do, for me.

I was thinking about that this morning as I read in Psalm 27, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?”

Jesus is our defense, and he goes before the Judge (God) on our behalf. Our enemy, the devil, goes before the Father and accuses us, pointing out every flaw and sin that we have committed. But Jesus steps in and defends us because the penalty for those sins has already been paid. When Jesus died on the cross, he paid that penalty for us once and for all, so that we can be innocent in God’s eyes if we’ve accepted Jesus as our Savior.

Jesus did this for me, knowing that I could never repay him. He knew I had nothing of value to offer him, but he redeemed me anyway because he loves me that much. All I had to do, was accept his gift of salvation, give him my heart, and make him Lord of my life. I can never repay the debt I owe him for what he did. There is nothing I can do to earn his love or salvation. It’s a free gift.

Even though I can never repay him, what I can do is honor what he has done for me by loving Him, loving others, being a good steward, using my abilities to serve others, & telling others of what He has done in my life.

How do we find true JOY?

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A conversation I had recently got me thinking about JOY.

Where do we find our joy? What makes us feel joyful?

If we seek joy in the things that we accomplish or achieve, or in how well the day goes according to plan – we will always fall short. Plans will change and projects will fail. When we are relying on those things to bring us joy, we are so easily shaken! But if we seek true joy, it can only be found in the One who is completely unshakable – Jesus! We can only have true joy when Christ is the center of our life and of each day.

Sometimes in order to find that joy we are seeking, we have to be still and rest. It can be so hard to find it in the hustle and bustle of our days as we strive to get things done.

Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

Some versions translate that as Cease striving, and know that I am God”.

Cease striving. Stop trying so hard. Let it go.

Trust in Him. Let Him be in control. He’s got you and he’s got this.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.”

(Psalm 23:2-3)

Notice that he makes us lie down in green pastures. Have you ever pushed yourself so hard that you ended up sick and had to spend some days in bed healing? If we don’t take the time to rest in Him, he will often make us stop and rest, one way or another. It’s so much better when we can choose to take a rest day (or a few) and spend extra time letting the Lord restore our soul as we communicate with him.

Another example I love is about Elijah.

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah said, “God, I’ve had enough! I want to die!” so God let him take a nap and then gave him some food. Then he took another nap, and God told him to eat some more or else his journey would be too hard for him.

After 2 rounds of napping and eating, he had the strength & energy to do what he needed to do.

Never underestimate the value in a nap & a snack! God’s provision comes in many forms, and he will supply all of our needs!

Make some time to sit with God and let him refresh you. Read his word, listen to praise music, enjoy some time in nature, and talk to him. He knows your needs and he just wants you to come to him.  His joy is a gift waiting for you to choose to accept it. Choose to find your joy in the fact that God created you, loves you, chose you, and wants a relationship with you. You are a child of the one true King, and you are loved deeply, no matter what you accomplish or achieve. Find your joy in knowing that God is in control. There is nothing you can do apart from him, so cease striving and let him lead.

We cannot add a single hour to our life by worrying (Matt 6:27), and neither can we be more productive when we are stressed and exhausted. So, take time to rest and let his peace wash over you.

Happy New Year 2024

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Happy New Year! God’s mercies are new this morning, like each morning, as we start this new year. He is doing a new thing in each of our lives. I know our family has a lot of changes coming up this year – Rob is retiring from the Army this year, going back into the IT work field, and we will be moving back to North Carolina to settle down there. Those are just a few of the many changes going on. We are looking forward to many of these changes, while also dealing with many unknowns. But we know God’s hand is in every detail and he will lead us and reveal to us what we need to know when we need it.

As I think about the new year, and how it is a fresh start in many ways, I think about how God offers each of us a fresh start when we choose to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Jesus paid the penalty for my sins when he died on the cross and rose again, conquering death. This allows me to have a relationship with God where God no longer sees my sin because he looks at me through the blood of Jesus. Jesus stood in my place and received the punishment I deserve. God forgives my sins because of Jesus. Then he chooses to forget them and he sees me as a new creation – a brand new person. I am a completely different person than I was without Jesus, and I’m so thankful that he chose me, loves me, rescued me, redeemed me, and made me new.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“I was one way, and now I am completely different. And the thing that happened in between…was HIM. (One of my favorite quotes from The Chosen)

I look forward to this next year and seeing what God has in store for me as he grows me closer to him. He already knows what this year holds and nothing is a surprise to him. I will cling to him because he is good and faithful and I know he will guide us as we seek to follow his path. What will that look like? I don’t know yet. All I can do each day is choose to spend time seeking him and asking what he wants me to do that day. Then I will let him guide me one day at a time as I follow him.

What will you do with your time each day? Make the choice to spend time with Jesus. Read his word, and communicate with him through prayer. Seek him first, and he will direct your path.

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Be Alert!

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In 1 Peter 5:8, Peter tells us to “Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the devil is prowling like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.

But what does it mean to be alert? How do we do that practically? I was thinking about this as I was driving home last night and a light bulb went on in my brain.

When we are driving, staying alert is critical. To have the best chance at being safe on the road, I have to do a few things. I have to first secure my license to drive by passing a test.  I also need to know the laws of the road and choose to obey those laws.

But that’s not enough.

I also have to be defensive. I have to watch out for those that are close to me that might cause me harm or put me in danger.

If everyone that was driving not only knew the laws, but obeyed the laws, there would be a lot less danger on the road. If everyone that was driving was selfless and considerate, we would rarely have danger on the road. Sadly, this is not the case. So I have to be alert and ready to respond when someone near me breaks a law, or acts in a selfish, inconsiderate way.

And then, even if I’m driving according to the laws and being kind, and the cars all around be are doing the same, there can still be outside influences that affect us. A tire could blowout, or a deer could run into the road. So we have to be always watching, ready to respond to whatever comes our way. The more experienced we are as drivers, the better and more naturally we can handle these surprise situations.

We gain that experience by driving regularly over time and in different conditions. We learn to trust how our car handles, how quick to turn the wheel or how long it takes to stop when we hit the brake.

The same is true in our walk with Christ. We first have to secure our salvation by believing in Jesus and knowing that he died in our place to pay for our sins.  Then, we must not only know God’s commandments, but also choose to obey them. That’s a start.

Then, we have to choose to surround ourselves with people that are also walking with Christ and choosing to follow his commands. Our closest friends, our inner circle, needs to be people that are trying daily to live the way God wants them to live, and who will encourage us to do the same. If we surround ourselves with people who are living dangerously, that can also lead to negative consequences in our own lives.

And once we have secured our salvation, learned God’s laws, made the decision to obey them the best we can, surrounded ourselves with iron-sharpening people, then we still have to be alert. Because the devil is prowling seeking to destroy us, so we’ll have challenges in life that spring up when we least expect them. But the more experienced we are at walking with Christ, the more equipped we are to handle those situations when they come. The more natural it becomes to respond correctly.

We gain that experience by walking with Jesus over time. By being in communication with him daily, reading his word to learn more about him. And as much as we don’t like it, we gain that experience by going through trials and seeing him work, as our faith and our trust grow deeper each time. We learn through each situation to trust what we know – that He is always with us and will provide exactly what we need at just the time we need it in order to fulfill his plan.

Social Awkwardness & God’s Grace

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This post was written by my 18 year old (in a few days) daughter, Emily. Hopefully, we’ll see more of her writing on here in the future. I hope this blesses you as much as it did me.

I just wanted to share something that has been on my heart lately, as far too often, I come back from a social gathering and dwell on what I did wrong. I tend to think about what I should have said or not said, how some of my comments were probably not something Jesus would have said, and how I should have listened more, talked less, and spoke with the goal of building others up rather than just to be heard.  (James 1:19-20, Eph 4:29-32)

Anyone else? Just me?

But then I read Scripture, and while still acknowledging that I fall short of Jesus’ example, I also realize I shouldn’t feel guilt and only guilt. I should be able to admit my shortcomings and move forward in seeking to follow Jesus, asking him to help me to have the fruit of the Spirit. When we ask, the Spirit gives us his fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I’m currently working on these when communicating with others.

I’ve been a believer since I was a fairly young child, and as such, I’ve sinned more since coming to know Jesus than I did before I gave my life to him. A crazy thought, huh? I struggle with that one from time to time. No matter how much I know that my sin is paid for once and for all, sometimes when I fail to live up to his example, or when I mess up and realize my mistake too late to prevent or undo it, I feel guilt. But guilt doesn’t come from God.

Now bear with me, I’m not saying God doesn’t convict us, bring our sin to our attention, and tell us how once again we’ve fallen short of his glory. (Romans 3:23) That He does for sure. But that’s just it. He reminds us, both of our shortcomings and of his grace.

But overwhelming guilt? Focusing only on how we’ve messed up with no hope in sight?

That’s not from God.

What is from God is that feeling of disappointment, even grief over how we’ve given in to the flesh rather than resisting it and following Him. (Romans 7:24-25) God doesn’t just point out how we’ve failed, he shows us what to do. He reminds us to repent, which means to turn around and go the other direction. We should acknowledge our sin before him and those we have committed it against, if possible, then repent, turn around and make an effort to walk both away from sin and toward the Lord. (1 John 1:9, James 5:16)

Scripture tell us:

  • His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-24)
  • We cannot be taken from his hand no matter our mistake (John 10:27-30)
  • Even the greatest of the apostles failed at times while striving to follow God (Romans 7:15-23)

When we speak harshly to, or interrupt someone intending to make a point, get our own way, or just be heard – that’s sinful. But when we go to them in humility and repentance, acknowledge our mistake and apologize, then ideally they forgive us, right? Whether or not they do, we may still have to deal with some consequences depending on what we said.

Thankfully, God always forgives! No matter who we’ve have sinned against, we have sinned against God first and foremost by breaking his law (Psalm 51:1-4). But he is gracious and willing to forgive, love, and guide us in the right direction (Psalm 86:5, Psalm 37:23-24, Proverbs 3:5-8).

That is the best news to me by far!

Not only does Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection remove the debt of all my sin (past, present, and future), but he will help me to walk with him when I ask. He doesn’t just forgive and move on, he wants to be involved in our lives, helping us to deal with the aftermath of our sin, walk in new life, and rejoice in him. That’s practically the opposite of debilitating guilt, isn’t it?

In Philippians 4:4-7, Paul says:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

One of the reasons I like this passage is because it doesn’t apply only to situations where the stresses are out of our control. Sometimes the situation is of our own making, but that doesn’t mean that the Lord won’t comfort us when we ask for help.

The walk of a follower of Christ is not perfect by any means, only Christ himself can live up to that. Our lives will indeed be filled with stumbles and shortcomings. However, living in guilt rather than repentance and joy doesn’t exactly provide a good witness to others, now does it?

Can you imagine witnessing to someone and saying, “You should accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, because he can save you from your sins and give you eternal life with him. Oh, by the way, after you’re saved, you’ll still sin and feel awful about it.

No! That doesn’t sound like the gospel at all!

We say that Jesus saves us from sins past, present, and future, but do we really think about what that truly means? I know sometimes I forget about the present and future part far too often. It’s not just about being saved and forgiven, it’s about what we do after we are saved, as well.

After all, there’s a reason that believers are still on the earth, and it’s not to have a bunch of people stuck in the shame of their sin. God loves us, has saved us by his grace, and has created good works for us to do! (Ephesians 2:4-10) He wants us to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20) and proclaim the good news of salvation to others because of how it has changed our lives for the better! In Christ Jesus, we have been set free from the law of sin and death and should eagerly want to tell others about this new life we have. (Romans 8:1-2) The chains of sin and shame are no longer binding us!

I hope this post is a blessing to someone and encourages you today.

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,