What Makes Good Friday Good?!

To the lost world, celebrating Good Friday doesn’t make sense. Why would we celebrate the death of our God, they wonder?

Yet, what they don’t understand, what the lost just don’t get. Is that we don’t celebrate the death of our God. We celebrate the ransom He paid in full at the Cross. We celebrate the fact that at the cross Jesus blood made it possible for us to be forgiven. The cross gives hope. The cross gives life eternal.

Yet, to those here in Nepal, this makes little sense. To them Jesus is just another god, not the Son of God, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords.

But to me, He is this and so much more.

Because my belief in what Christ accomplished at the cross gives me redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of all my sins, an inheritance in Christ, and peace with God. (Ephesians 1 and 2).

No, Good Friday is not only good, it is great.

For it is only because of the death of Christ, we can have life. Only through the blood of Christ, we can be forgiven. Only through His sinless, perfect life we can be made righteous. Only through Christ!

We don’t serve a god who cares not for us, who can’t hear our prayers, see our needs. We serve the living God who paid the price we could never pay, who hears our prayers, sees our needs and cares for every detail of our lives.

In every other religion the believers seek to get to god. They do this by doing good works, offering sacrifices, following rituals.

But in Christianity, our God came to us. He came born as a helpless babe, becoming a bondslave, living a sinless life, so that He could accomplish the will of the Father. To die for our sins, so that we could have life. Our God accomplished it all, we must simply repent and believe!

Good Friday is good. A wonderful day because of all it represents, yet the best part is that the story only begins this day. For what the lost don’t understand is that my God did not stay dead, three days later He rose from the grave, defeating sin and death.

And He lives today!

Mountain tops, desserts and valleys…….

jesus-lover-of-my-soulI grew up in church, I can’t remember a time in my childhood when I wasn’t in church. We went three times a week, rain or shine. And it was a great church. I have such wonderful memories of this time. It was here that God began a work in me, a work He would be faithful to complete.

In college, like many teens, I drifted away from God. Beginning to do my own thing, and for the first time ever I wasn’t in church. I was living for me.

But God…

He wasn’t finished with me. He was not willing to let me go my own way. The Bible says that the one He loves, He disciplines. And God brought discipline into my life by taking from me people whom I loved, who meant the world to me.

And by doing this, He drew me back. He stirred the dying embers of my heart, and established in my heart, in my life an amazing love for Himself. Though alone, He was my best friend. My highlight of the day was my quiet time alone with Him. He was the lover of my soul.

Fast forward a few years and I was found in Seminary, training to serve the Lord overseas. Daily, I was able to sit in chapel, and hear God’s Word preached. Daily, I was able to sing praises to Him.

Then I graduated, got married,had a little boy, and off we went to serve our first church.

And life was not the same, not so easy.

The busyness of life seemed to interfere with my walk, with my passion for the Lord.

And through the years since this time, serving in other churches, living overseas. When I look back it seems my walk with the Lord, my passion for Him has been a roller coaster.

Sometimes, it has been high. When it seems the communion with the Lord is so close, so intimate. Then there have been times when it has been low, when the Lord has seemed so far removed, so far away. And there have certainly been times of plateau. Times when I was neither hot, nor cold, but lukewarm. Found to be doing what is expected, found to be going through the motions, and yet missing HIM.

This morning as I sat in church and sang, my heart was yearning for HIM. And I was reminded as I sat there of the times in my life when my walk with the Lord was closer, more intimate. And I longed for that now.

Having served the Lord full-time for about 17 years now, I know that there are mountain tops, there are desert times and there are valleys. I realize that we don’t live on the mountain tops, nor in the desert. But that most of that time we are in the valley.

Yet, I realize that even in the valley, no especially in the valley, God is still at work.

Though I’d love to experience the mountain tops more. I’m also aware of the fact that if I lived there, I would need Him less.  Though I’d rather avoid the desert, I know that without the desert I’d never learn to depend on Him. And I know that God uses the mountains and the dessert to prepare me to live daily in the valley.

Just as there are seasons in life, there are seasons in our walk with the Lord. Yet, that does not mean we must not seek Him. God puts that yearning in our hearts for those closer times, so that we will draw near to Him. He reminds us of the mountain tops, and invites us to come away with Him.

As I look back on my life, one thing is for certain, the work He began, He has been faithful to continue, and though He is not done with me yet,I know He will be faithful to complete what He started.

And the same is true of you…

Don’t let the business of life keep you from your true Love. Don’t let the rituals of worship keep you from the Lover of your Soul.

Seek Him, seek the things of Him, and watch as the things of this world become insignificant as you realize the significance of the One you serve. The One who loves you despite yourself, who died in your place, who paid your ransom, and who longs to be your greatest desire.

 

Prone to wonder Lord I feel it….

dusty kathmanduLiving in somewhat of a dust bowl, I sometimes wonder why I bother to clean.

I can sweep the house in the morning, but by evening, you can’t seem to tell.

The dust comes in under the doors, through the windows and falls off our clothes and shoes.

So why bother? Why not just let it go?

Well for one, I’d go a little more crazy, and for two, it wouldn’t be healthy for our family.

So rather than quit, I keep on sweeping.

Some times we as believers can ask similar questions.

Wondering why bother to read, pray, and do what is right?

When some days it seems like it does little to no good.

Some days we look around and see the “world” prospering.

While, we as Christians seem to be stuck with a world of problems, difficulties and trials.

I learned early on in my Christian walk that when I run hard after following the Lord, the enemy is quick on my heels. When I’m lethargic or apathetic… he seems to leave me be.

The enemy is all about discouraging us. He wants nothing more than to steal our joy and make us ineffective.

Some days I struggle to get motivated. I can think of numerous things I need to do, yet have little to no motivation to get after them.

This morning my husband preached a message from Proverbs 24:30 and onward which says,

I went past the field of a sluggard,
    past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
 thorns had come up everywhere,
    the ground was covered with weeds,
    and the stone wall was in ruins.
 I applied my heart to what I observed
    and learned a lesson from what I saw:
 A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest—
 and poverty will come on you like a thief
    and scarcity like an armed man.

And he said, it is easy as Christians and minister to start off good, but often along the way, we grow tired and weary and we begin to compromise, and before we know it if we aren’t careful, our vineyard is overgrown with weeds, our walls are in ruins, and when God looks on our life, our ministry He is displeased.

For none of us this is our goal. Yet, all too often this is the case. We lose sight of our prize, Jesus. We grow tired and weary in the race, and instead of running hard after the Lord, we start chasing after earthly pleasures. We sometimes even quit on God.

And the enemy is pleased, and he rejoices.

My husband shared that in the book of Proverbs, over and over again, we are told to search for, go after and seek wisdom and understanding. Like keeping the house clean, living in a dusty country, it is hard work. It doesn’t just happen, and it takes diligence.

Yet, if we are going to run the race well. If we are going to store up treasures in Heaven where neither moth nor rust can destroy. We must set our gaze on Christ. We must saturate our hearts and minds with God’s Word. We must encouraged others and be encouraged. We must diligently seek the Lord.

But here is the awesome truth. When we seek hard after Him, we will find Him. When we saturate our minds and hearts with God’s Word, we will see things as He sees them. We will think as He thinks. When we encourage others and are encouraged, we will have the strength needed to keep on keeping on.

The Christian walk isn’t easy. This is why Jesus said, broad is the way that leads to death and narrow is the way that leads to life.

It would be easy to quit, easy to live like the world. Easy to sleep and slumber, but rest assured, the thorns and thistles will quickly follow, and the walls will become broken.

Which is why we must be dressed in readiness, anticipating the real truth that even today, Christ could return. Will we be ready? Will our works on this earth have been of gold, silver and precious stones, or will they have been hay, and straw which will be consumed by the fire?

I want to encourage you today that though the Christian life can be hard. It is often met with challenges, trials and hardship. That it will be worth it all in the end.

And though continuing to run hard after Christ can sometimes feel futile. It is not.

Time spent drawing close to the Lord, seeking Him, and living for Him. Is time that is never wasted, but well spent.

Run hard after Jesus. Seek Him, and He will be found. Draw near to Him,and allow Him to cheer you along the way.

He is worth it!

Christmas on this side of the world…..

christmas around the worldThe other day as I was riding a local bus through the streets of Nepal, I started humming, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…” when suddenly I stopped and laughed.

Because as I looked out my window, there was nothing the least bit Christmassy to see.

Being overseas at Christmas is not the easiest thing, in fact at times it can be the hardest.

This time last year, we had only been abroad for a few months, when we got the news that my husband’s mom had passed away. Within the day, my husband was on a plane headed for the States, while the kids and I were left here to have our first Christmas in Nepal, on our own.

That was hard.

And though this year,  nothing as tragic as that has occurred, there is a difficult aspect of Christmas in a foreign land. Especially in a foreign land, where only the small percent of Christian believers do celebrate. In our country, the biggest Hindu festivals, have come and gone. And Christmas doesn’t make the list.

But God is good. Because though it would be easy to be depressed, He has put a joy,His joy in my heart.

Reminding me once again, that the purpose of Christmas is to worship Him.

Yes, I miss all the Christmas goodies, I miss the lights and decorations, I miss hearing Christmas carols playing on the radio and I miss being surrounded by our extended family. (Though I do play Christmas music on the computer, and I do have lights and decorations in our home, though the lights work only when the electric is on 🙂 )

But wherever you find yourself in the world, you can celebrate Jesus.

This past Sunday, my husband preached on how hard the Christian life can be. But He reminded us all that from the time Jesus was born, nothing was easy for Him either. He was born in a stable, because there was no room. He slept in a feeding trough, because there was no bed. He was known as the Carpenter’s son, because people didn’t understand. Jesus was hated by the Pharisees, mocked by the people He came to save. He was nailed to a cross, and buried in a borrowed tomb.

This Christmas wherever we may find ourselves, let us remember why we celebrate.

Let us allow God to fill us with His joy. Knowing that no matter where we are, what we have or don’t have.. He is enough!

And let us let His abiding light shine in and through us, so that the whole world may see, that JESUS is the Light of the World and the One true God.

Walking in Step with the Lord

Today after a year of living in Nepal, I finally went hiking. It always makes me laugh when friends back home think I mhiking nepalust have climbed Mt. Everest, because I live in Nepal. When the truth is, Mt. Everest is nowhere near where I live, nor could I climb it, even if it were… because I would seriously die first :-).

But today, I climbed five kilometers up a mountain. It took us a good two hours to get to the top, and included leeches attaching themselves to my feet. Then a little less than an hour to get back down. Somehow going down is always easier.

On the way up however, it seemed like there was no end. We climbed up and up. The stairs got steeper and steeper, and twisted their way up the mountain. If I looked ahead and saw how steep it was, how many more stairs it would take. If I looked too far ahead, I got discouraged. If I looked behind me, I would get light-headed as I realized how high we were (since I don’t like heights). So instead I looked right in front of me. Step by step I took, until finally we had arrived to the top.

As I was climbing and thinking on this, I was reminded of the story of Joshua. Joshua had been leading the Israelites, and the Lord had come and told him, that it was almost time to enter into the promised land. He told Joshua to stay close, not to get ahead, and not to get behind.

So often in our Christian journeys we want God to show us what He has planned three months from now, we want to know what next year will hold. Other times, we can’t seem to let go of our past, and have trouble living in the present. When just as the Israelites, we must be walking step by step with the Lord. Not getting ahead of what He has planned, nor getting too far behind.

I have learned in my own Christian walk, that God doesn’t usually let us in on what the tomorrows hold. He only shows us what we need to know for today.

If we look ahead and try to figure our the path the Lord will lead, we will get discouraged, just as I got discouraged as I looked ahead today. If we look behind, we reminisce on what once was, and we miss right now.

God’s plan for you is to live this day for His glory. His will for you is to be filled with His Spirit, to give thanks in all circumstances, to pray without ceasing.

Years ago, we arrived back in the US from Korea, and moved in with my family. If I looked ahead and tried to figure life out, I was a wreck. But, if I lived that day, and focused on it… I was good.

The same if true for now. The truth is, none of us know what our tomorrows will hold. Yet, we do know who holds these days in His hand.

The truth is, we can plan, we can scheme, we can try to figure things out… but most likely it will change. Because, we don’t see the whole picture. We dont’ see what God sees.

Let us then, draw near to God, staying close to Him, allowing the Lord to lead us each day.

And as we do, we will begin to see as He see’s. We will recognize what He desires.

No mater where you are in life right now… God is there with you.

He is leading you, He is guiding you, sometimes He is carrying you.

Yet, you never walk alone.

And you can trust Him with tomorrow.

You can trust that in His perfect way, His perfect time, He will show you your next step.

Until then, stay close to the Lord.

So you don’t miss out on a thing.

The Father truly does know best!

In His Presence

his presenceSaturday morning was a rush. I had hit snooze a few too many times. Rushed around crazily trying to get everyone dressed for church, and  get myself dressed.

I ran down stairs and made chocolate chip muffins for breakfast (because chocolate is always good, any time of day), and coffee…. lots of coffee.

After everyone had eaten, the dishes were washed, we got into the car, and headed to the church. Dodging, motorbikes, cars, people, and cows along the way.

I practiced with the children for our upcoming choir performance, and finally sat down for worship.

This was my husbands Saturday to preach. So for a change, I understood the message since it was in English, and God spoke to my heart. Reminding me of why He had sent us here. Reminding me that though some days are hard, it is all worth it.

And as we stood to sing and to pray, such amazing peace washed over my heart. Peace that truly passes all understanding.

It was then that I realized the beauty of being in His presence.

For it is in His presence we find joy. In His presence we find peace.

It is in His presence that all the rest of “life” slips away, and we are caught up in His amazing love.

It was a beautiful moment, but also a moment of conviction. For I realized that I had neglected His presence that morning in my rush to get to church. I understood the importance of being in His presence.

The Bible tells us to “Be still and know I am God, I will be exalted among the nations…” Just be still.

I’m learning that God doesn’t really need me. He can accomplish His works without my help.

But I’m finding that apart from Him, I truly can do nothing. It is me, who needs Him, every moment of every day.

The Lord is teaching me that in order to have joy, peace, love, strength… I must dwell in His presence.

As the service closed, and the business of the rest of the day loomed ahead, I had peace, I had joy. Both of which came from Him.

Sometimes living in such a different culture is hard. Many times, I lack understanding.

Yet, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Where are you today? Are you running on empty? Feeling frazzled, exhausted, worn. Believe me I know and I understand. I’ve been there.

But my advice to you and to myself is this…. Go, and get alone with the Lord. Dwell in His presence, draw your strength from Him. Allow Him to transform your mind, and fill your heart with peace.

Often we “think” we don’t have time to spend time with the Lord.

Yet, this is the lie of Satan. We dont’ have time, not to spend time with the Lord.

And we will run on empty, we will feel frazzled if we seek to live for Him and serve Him in our own strength, our own power.

Instead, we must go and sit at HIs feet. Draw near to Him and allow Him to draw near to us.

Only then will we find the joy, peace, love, hope, grace and strength for what lies ahead.

 

Because We aren’t Home Yet

not home yetIt seems when you turn on the news these days, it is just bad.

You see images of the fightings in Syria, Africa and the Middle East. You hear reports of ISIS, and persecution. But it isn’t all things happening far away. The news, shows events taking place in our own backyards. From church shootings, to churches being burned, to the supreme courts decision to “redefine” marriage.

It all looks and seems horrible, and it is.

And to be honest if we focus on all that is wrong, we will quickly become depressed. We will quickly lose hope.

For so long the persecution of believers has been what happened on the other side of the world, yet I believe now we will begin to see this taking place even in the US as believers seek to stand up for what they believe.

But should we be surprised by these events?

To be honest, no.

Jesus said before He returns, things will get bad. There will be war and rumors of war. There will be earthquakes and natural disasters. Children will turn on parents, and parents on children. It will get bad.

Jesus also told us not to be surprised when times of tribulation come, instead we should expect it.

Paul would tell us to embrace it, to in fact rejoice in it.

Believers in China would tell us that persecution is a good thing because it shows who is the real deal and who is not. It grows the faith of the followers of Christ.

No, we should not be surprised by the latest news events. Should these things grieve our hearts, yes. Should we fall on our knees to pray for God’s mercy and grace, absolutely.

But we should not lose heart.

Because I have good news.

God still wins in the end.

And even better, we are not home yet!

One day, this earth will all pass away, along with all the sin, death, and corruption.

One day we will be home.

But until then, we must endure. We must press on in Jesus name, knowing that His grace and His strength are prefect.

Until then, we must rest in the fact that though they can kill the body, they can not kill the soul (Mathew 10:28).

Friend, we are not home yet…

Let us then take each day the Lord entrust to us, and live it fully, and completely for His glory, honor and praise.

Yes, we may face persecution, we may be laughed at and ridiculed by our friends… but in light of eternity, it is a small price to pay.

Because this is not our home, but one day soon, we will be home with the Lord.