From The Eyes of a Child

This week I was working in a local daycare (working on a school project) and the director asked me to go through the Resurrection Eggs with the kids. I hesitated for a brief moment since it really had nothing to do with my project – but then I knew without a doubt more important than a grade or a project, was the opportunity to share Jesus with these kids. I was also really excited because growing up my family used these eggs to tell the story of Easter.

eggs

So, out on the playground mulched ground, we gathered in a circle. I had a couple books and the eggs in my lap and the kids piled in around me. Trying to read through the story, we were interrupted by the animals in the books, kids pushing other kids to “get closer”, or because “I can’t see”, one child tried biting another and then one little girl was crying for no reason whatsoever. I’m trying to put out one fire after the next and stay on track with the story, all the while I can feel my mind racing because this isn’t going how I planned. In my mind, I picture a group of children sitting like little angels, listening in rapt attention and answering any questions I ask. I see them behaving nicely and taking turns….needless to say, that’s just a dream and not gonna happen with 12+ two to four year old children. Anyway, we finally make it through the stories and I decide to let each child take turns opening the eggs. I was hoping that it would help hold their attention AND be a positive motivator for better behavior. Bribery is not above me when it comes to working with children who aren’t my own! As we begin going through the eggs, I feel like they’re more excited about the pieces inside the eggs than actually listening to what they represent…until….

We get to the egg that’s holding the whip. It falls to the ground and the squeal because they think it’s a worm. I quickly tell them it’s not a worm and pick it up from the mulch. They look at it curiously and begin guessing string, rope and so on. I tell them it’s called a whip and it’s used to hurt people. One of the little girls looks up at me and quietly says “That’s not very nice”. I agree and we talked briefly about how Jesus was beaten for us. The next egg held the crown of thorns, so I explain how sometimes we’ll touch a rose thorn or a prickle bush in the grass and how it hurts, but this crown of thorns was much worse and it was beaten into Jesus’ brow. They watched with rapt attention at this point. The little girl just frowns and says “owww, that would hurt”. Her eyes are watching my every move. We open the next egg which contained three nails that made a cross. They knew what this one was and I explained how Jesus died on that cross after being beaten and hurt – just for us. I look up and the little girl looks at me with the saddest eyes that are filling with tears and she goes “that’s sad”. I agree with how sad and then talk about how Jesus died for us, and for three days He was dead. We move to the next egg that was holding a stone. This was symbolizing the rock that covered the tomb. The precious little girl is blinking her eyes and looking at me, just waiting to find out what happens. We talked about how Jesus was dead for three days and was gone. Moving to the next egg, the little boy had been patiently waiting through the 11 other eggs and was about to jump out of his seat when I told him it was his turn to open it. He grabbed the last egg from my hand and pried it open. He looked up at me shocked. It was empty. tomb All the kids looked at me and I smiled. The little girl looked up at me and was like “where’s the stuff?” I grinned bigger and held the egg open for all to see and told them “it’s empty because Jesus didn’t stay in that tomb, He came back to life for you and me. He didn’t stay dead, He’s coming back for us one day too!” The tears from her eyes fled, and wonder and excitement jumped into her gaze. They all cheered. One of the little boys who had caused a LOT of problems was like “I didn’t get to open an egg!” I knew I’d have a riot on my hands if he didn’t open something so I let him pick. He grabbed the first egg he could get his hands on and pried it open. It was the pair of praying hands. I asked the kids what it meant. They replied by folding their hands and looking at me…they were ready to pray. My heart was warmed as I asked them if they wanted to pray and they all eagerly nodded and closed their eyes. I asked God for some quick guidance on what to say that they would understand and started with “Dear Jesus”. I was blessed by those children as they began repeating word-for-word everything I said. I fought back tears at their childlike faith and wonder at the Easter story. The tears that so quickly swam to their eyes at the news of Jesus’ death and the pure wonder of His resurrection. I was encouraged to look deeply again at the resurrection story!

It’s easy when you grow up around Christians, in church or believing in Jesus to just go “yes, I know He died and rose again”. But His story is so rich in His love for us. He came to earth JUST FOR YOU. JUST FOR ME. Knowing that He would grow up, to suffer and die for me…to bridge the gap between my sinful heart and His holiness. Jesus created a way for us to have a relationship with Him for eternity. He opened the path to a promise of security, everlasting love and Lord Who would guide the way for us.

I’ll write more to come on the story from the Bible tomorrow…please come back for the 2nd part. I have been TRULY blessed in the last week. Looking forward to sharing with everyone!

The Things That Matter

First thought this morning, as I opened my puffy, swollen, tear-stained eyes…I can’t believe I have to get up and go to Knoxville today. In the car on the way there, the driver and passengers all complained about the bad driving of others, the absurdity of the lights the government is putting up. In training, heard co-workers fuss about the work of gathering needs assessments in our counties. Tonight, I heard raised voices complain about having to suffer through a cold shower…when another family member had been throwing up and took the same cold shower. The difference…the sick individual didn’t complain, just answered “I’m okay, just taking a cold shower” – the healthy one…was very upset about the injustice of having to take a cold shower. Now, let me just say…I don’t like taking a cold shower and as of late we’ve had more cold showers than not at my house. But with 8 people on one hot-water tank, you either space showers out…or shower cold.

But as I listened to the rant about having to shower in cold water, God hit me. I am so ungrateful. On a large scale, we…all of us…are so ungrateful. I got the news yesterday that a beautiful, vibrant, young woman breathed her last breath. Alongside her husband and little girl. In one moment, their lives were gone.

Molly, Nick and Harper...went to be with Jesus on May 16, 2015.

Molly, Nick and Harper…went to be with Jesus on May 16, 2015.

The family is left to pick up the pieces and move on with an ache in their heart. I cannot even begin to comprehend the agony they must be going through. I worked with Molly…never realized she was only a couple months older than I was…and in a moment, she is no longer with us on earth. It’s sad, but my heart can rejoice because the neat part – she and the loves of her life, all got to meet Jesus…hand in hand.

Tonight, it hit me. Why am I complaining?

Lord, I am THANKFUL to be able to open my eyes.  Thankful to have a job to go to. I am thankful to have to travel so far and see new places and experience new people. I am thankful to know the pain of life…it means I’m alive. I am thankful for the tears…it means I can feel. I am thankful for sickness – because it makes me depend on you. I am thankful for cold showers…I can be clean. I can feel the cold sting of the water as you gasp from the cold. I am alive. Thank you for life, Lord. I can talk to my Dad, I can hug my Mom, tell my siblings “I love you”. I can laugh with friends. I can drive with the windows down and feel the wind across my face. I can feel the rumble of the thunder, get soaked from the side-driving downpour. I can revel in the beauty of a double rainbow…God’s promises. All too often, Lord, I focus on the negative. Forgive me. I need to learn how to be thankful. Grateful. For there are some that may never experience that again. I need to be thankful. I have so much to be thankful for.

Life is truly but a moment…one minute here, the next we’re gone. So, be with the ones you’ve got and be thankful for them. Remember you may not be able to tell them you love them. Do we want our last interactions with someone to be angry, hollered words or words of affirmation and love? It doesn’t matter if we realize they love us…do they hear it? We never know when we’ll get our last words. Our last hug. Don’t wait for that one chance to say it someday. Hug them today. Be thankful for them today. Be thankful for life…today. Right now. You may not have it later. Don’t waste our precious time being unthankful for what we “don’t have”. Rejoice for what we do have. The life. The love. The friends. Be in the present and live each day, each moment as if it was truly your last.

More Than Conquerors

When studying the Bible, or talking about love, the infamous chapter is I Corinthians 13. This chapter is one of my favorites, one of these days, I’m planning to write a post (most likely it’ll be in parts or just very, very long!) about the things I learned about love from being in a relationship. Because let me tell you, being “in love”, bring to life the idea and imagery of what it may be like with God. Just imagine it a thousand times better with God – because He doesn’t have selfish motives, He doesn’t ever break His word and He loves us completely and fully ALL THE TIME.

Continuing in Romans, I rediscovered the promises and the wonder of Romans 8:35-39. But there’s also some great stuff earlier in the chapter! 🙂

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are  killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Isn’t that promise just beyond comforting? Troubles, persecution, lack of food, being naked, danger or death…just to name a few…none of these are going to come between the love God has for us. They cannot rip us from His hands or take us from His care. We may be, in the world’s eyes, easy prey. Many view Christians as weak, but if you look into the history of Christians – they are some of the strongest people you’ll ever meet. Nothing can overcome us, because we are in Christ and He has conquered death. Which means…we have overcome and conquered death. 🙂 Pretty cool, huh? Dying or living, spiritual beings, government, current circumstances or the “scary” unknown future…no matter how high or low you are, nothing can separate us from God’s love. It is always there. Always with us.

Always. That is such a beautiful word.

When we’re covered in Christ’s love, we have nothing to fear because we are more than conquerors in Him. Nothing can separate us from Him. Not what others do or say to/about us, not what sins we do, not how bad we think we are. He loves us, He has conquered everything and we can stand under His wings and find protection and love.

Say What!?

Sometimes I go to read something, am watching something on TV or listening to something on the radio and I find myself going “what did they just say?” I stop to think for just a moment, to process through what I thought was just said. Depending on the situation, I can figure it out…other times I’ll just miss it and tell myself to look positively and hope it was saying the proper thing.

I grabbed my Bible the other morning and curled up in a chair to read. Looking out the window, I saw a sight that I haven’t seen in…over 10 years. The ocean. There is such majesty and beauty in the ebb and flow of the water, the unending sound of the crashing waves, the cry of the seagulls and the smell of the salty air. It grips a piece of your heart that is very different than any other area on earth. I’m a mountain girl, give me mountains over city, flatlands or oceans any day. But when you are used to one topography, the change can be enlightening. I will say, seeing the ocean and watching the sun rise and set over the waters – it gives you a whole new appreciation for the wonderful world God created. I tore my eyes away from the beauty God created, the gift to His beloved (me…and you, if you’re a believer of God), to read the love letter He has recorded for generation to generation! How amazing to see the LOVE He has for us, that He has forever kept His words, His love to us recorded in written form.

I’ve been working through Romans, and this particular morning I was starting in Romans 6. What I’m going to do is write out the chapter and put my thoughts towards what I was reading in black, and the scripture in a blue ink. Crossing my fingers and hoping it comes out like it makes sense in my head! 🙂

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. I lose track of how many people are like “I’m saved, so now I just live however I want too.” Then they continue to use our Lord’s name in vain, they behave outrageously and then just say they can ask forgiveness and it’s all forgiven. How wrong is this mentality! I’m just as guilty in this area, but it’s unreal how we as children of God will abuse His unconditional love and His forgiveness by continually disobeying or living our own desires. It’s like in a parent-child situation…the child may be running after they were told to stop, and the running child charges the table and off topples the glass figurine. CRASH! The child is immediately sorry, and the loving parent forgives with an admonishment as to this is why we don’t run. The next day, the child is running again. Warning the child, the parent encourages them to slow down. But the child knows they were forgiven for breaking the glass, it’ll be okay to run…I mean, come on, running is SO much fun! But before you know it…CRASH…they run into their older sibling who was unloading the dishwasher and the plates they were putting the cabinet all drop to the floor in a shattering of glass. The child is immediately sorry, and the parent again forgives and uses the teachable moment to remind the child of why they don’t run. The next day comes around, and you guessed it…the child is running again…this continues day after day. Bruises occur, material possessions are broken, toes may be stubbed and discipline may take place. But no matter what happens to the child, they always gain the forgiveness for the mistakes. Maybe a week, maybe a month, maybe a year afterwards, the child may be running and this time it’s outside. They’re not paying attention, and they run into the road……the parent may forgive the driver, but there is no taking away their child’s bad decision. This child may die upon impact or may just be bodily injured with broken bones or paralysis. The point is, the child’s actions eventually caught up to them. They heard the warning of their parent, they knew they weren’t supposed to be running carelessly, but it was fun, it felt good, it was enjoyable…so they did whatever they wanted too,  knowing their parent would forgive them for disobeying their instructions. As a human, it is our privilege to “do what we want”, but we need to be wise about that as well! God gives us warnings about our actions, we can listen and follow His guidance to safety and success or we can throw caution to the wind, do whatever we want and while it may seem “ok” for the time, it will catch up to us…and sometimes be a warning, sometimes it will be life threatening and sometimes it may cost us everything. God will ALWAYS forgive you – doesn’t matter what you’ve done – but the point isn’t to try and see how many times you can get away with something before you’ve gone too far. God is looking out for our best interest. Trust Him and listen!! There are so many examples I could give of how this works out in life…both personal experience and from stories of others. Trust me, it’s not worth pushing the envelope. As you do, it may be enjoyable while you’re doing it…but when it goes south, the pain and regret that you’ll have to deal with aren’t worth the enjoyment you got out of the action. So…back to Romans! 🙂

How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Isn’t this a BEAUTIFUL picture!!! We have the choice, the freedom to serve God, to choose life, to choose joy…we don’t have to be a slave to our bad decisions, our sinful nature, the ways of the world…we can CHOOSE to have a better, more satisfying and glorifying life. One thing my Dad has taught us is that our life is going to be an example. It’s out decision as to what type of example – it’s either a warning to others of what not to do or an example of what to follow. We can make the decision as to which our life will be. Jesus took our sins, our mistakes, all the way to the cross with Him. We must realize that God nailed our mistakes to the cross and we don’t need to take them off again. When God turned away from Jesus on the cross, that was because of our sins. My sins. Your sins. Every lie we’ve told. Every bad action we’ve done. Every hurtful word spoken. These are the things that were killed on the cross. When we sought God’s forgiveness, and gained it…we’ve been buried and resurrected as a NEW and CLEAN being. We got a clean slate, this is the slate we need to write our story upon with God holding the pen! Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourself to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Just because we have grace, we have forgiveness doesn’t mean we have a free check to go and do whatever! Our actions still have consequences, we still have things we need to do and we still have good and bad decisions to make and avoid! Jesus came with grace over the law, but He never said “abandon the law because I’ll cover you with My grace”…nope, the law is there to show us the magnitude of God’s grace. The law is there to show us our sinful nature. The law is there to show us we can NEVER do it alone. We need God’s grace to be cleansed. No matter how good we strive to be, our goodness is never good enough to get us into eternity with God. ONLY being under His grace, will we find life with Him forever. Our good enough will get us straight to Hell, we need something more than ourselves to find the freedom we all crave. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. We’re all servants to something, we’re all in bondage to something. The question is are we going to be servants to ourselves, to Satan, to sin – which leads to bondage of fears, alcohol, pornography, theft, food, etc. etc. etc. If we choose to grasp onto the freedom Jesus gives us, the “bondage” we live in under Christ is so freeing. We find we don’t have to carry the weight of the world, we don’t have to worry about what everyone else thinks of us, we don’t have to worry about ever being alone. He is always there and He will always help us through every experience we go through.

Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. I just loved the picture image of this grouping of opposites is wonderful! We get to choose, again that distinction is made. Our actions, our beliefs…we get to decide. Someone can’t make us  be _____, or we aren’t born _____…we make the decision of “this is who I am, what I believe, what I will do”. While having that “power”, or responsibility as it is known in my family, comes great pressure to make sure we’re doing the right things. Being free from sin, we have the power to be holy and gain everlasting life. Now, here’s the thing…we will have eternal life, everyone will. Some will choose to spend it in Heaven, worshipping Christ, celebrating and being with other believers. Others who deny Christ and don’t accept His sacrifice for our souls, will spend it in Hell. The choice is ours – life or death, holiness or sin, Jesus Christ our Lord or ourselves? If you want additional passages, check out Romans 7:24-25! 🙂

I was reading a book (Completely His by Shannon Ethridge), the same morning as I was reading this chapter and this quote grabbed my attention. “The notion of God’s love coming to us free of charge, no string attached, seems to go against every instinct in humanity. The Buddhist eight-fold path, the Hindu doctrine of karma, the Jewish covenant, the Muslim code of law – each of these offers a way to earn approval. Only Christianity dares to make God’s love unconditional.”   – Philip Yancey in What’s So Amazing About Grace WOW! I just…wow. God makes it so easy to come to Him, to love Him, to know Him. We don’t have a check-list that gets us wishy-washy results. God tells us to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved! It’s truly that simple. We don’t have to wonder if it’ll stick…once we are a child of God, we are FOREVER a child of God and NOTHING you do or say will change that.  He loves you.

Oh my friend, when you hear the majesty of what God did for you, when we grasp just a fraction of how AWESOME He is…all you can be left saying is “Say what!?” and that’s where the richness of knowing Jesus begins! Dig deeper, the deeper and more intimately you know Christ the more and more you’ll want to seek clarification and more understanding on the richness and promises of being a Child of God!