Marinate In Jesus

On a recent Sunday night, steak was on the menu for supper. Thinking that it was supposed to marinate over night instead of a just a couple hours, I prepped the ingredients and decided to set it all together in the fridge. But, at 5:00 p.m. Sunday evening, I realized a vitally important step was skipped. We got busy doing other things and I forgot to put the steaks in the marinade. Whoops.

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It wasn’t the end of the world, we’re used to eating late – no big deal. But it got me thinking. As those steaks just sat next to the marinade, they weren’t able to pick up any of the flavor prepared for them. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” (ESV) I may be taking this verse a little out of context, but it came popping into my mind. In order to be the salt, seasoned and flavorful, we have to get in the marinade! Soaking-in the Lord.

 

We can attend church all our life or go to conferences all over this country, but unless we really dive-in to God’s word and soak in His presence on our own – we’re just like those steaks, sitting next to the marinade. It’s hard to soak up the flavor of God’s love, if we’re just getting a “talking-to” once a week. And that spiritual-high from a conference, it doesn’t usually carry us all the way through the wilderness wanderings or fiery trials. What really carries us, is a personal relationship with our Creator. That is developed over time and personal commitment, spending time in prayer and worship, being devoted to His word for you. It’s being willing to change, be refined, and learn who God is.

The next part of that verse in Matthew 5 goes on to tell of a light under a bushel basket, and letting your light shine before others for the glory of God. (Matt. 5:14-16) Whatever we are flavored with, is what will shine through to others. Just like those steaks, the saltiness and seasoning in the marinade is what’s meant to come through. (I burned them on the grill by the way…it just wasn’t my day to fix steak.)

At 5:05 p.m., I put those steaks in to marinate, and closed the refrigerator door on them for nearly two hours. Matthew 6:6 encourages us, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (ESV)

In secret, that’s where some serious soaking can occur. Don’t mistake me, I love the cooperate church body, there is no substitute for a healthy body of believers working together. But there is also no substitute for that personal, secret time with Jesus.

What are you soaking in?

How do you “marinate” and soak-in God?

IMG_6068My guess is, that just like my marinade with various ingredients – that’s what it might look like for you. Worship + Scripture + Prayer + Fellowship for good measure. Whatever the recipe is, that’s between you and the Lord. But let’s not wait and then rush at the last minute, when the grill is fired up (testing & trials). My challenge to you, today, is to not let your relationship with our Creator be an afterthought. No time spent on the Lord is wasted, especially that secret time. He is the Redeemer of all.

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Consecration & Wonders

In my Bible study, Courageous Faith, there is a portion devoted to consecration – what it is and what it means. That word, consecration, tends to usher in silence and uneasiness. It can stir up negative or uncomfortable emotions, because it seems at first to be just that. But the truth is that it isn’t negative at all; however, that may be how we experience it.

What is consecration, other than sounding like a scary word? In simplest terms, it means to be set apart and holy, made clean. As a follower of Jesus, it’s something that has already been done, as well as a process. I am set apart and made holy because of Jesus. I am also in the process, of refining and growing as one who is holy and set apart for God. The first part of it being a done deal is important; it makes room for grace, in the process.

One of the things I learned while writing Courageous Faith, is that God often told the people of Israel to consecrate themselves, before He would do something miraculous. For example, Joshua 3:5 says, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” This command was given just before God parted the Jordan river, so that the people of Israel could cross over to their Promised Land, on dry ground. If waters like that being parted isn’t a miracle, I don’t know what is!

The consecration process was one of setting themselves apart for God, preparing themselves for Him and what was getting ready to take place. Consecration in the Old Testament took place in various ways. In this occasion, it may have been washing completely – body and clothes. As a follower of Jesus, how might I be consecrated? Scripture tells us that we are set apart for God through prayer and His word (1 Timothy 4:4-5). The renewing of our mind through prayer and God’s word can be seen part of the process of consecration.

The process can be uncomfortable, just like the word itself. However, did you catch what came after the consecration of the Israelites? Wonders. Something miraculous! While we may not see waters part in our lifetime, I’ve seen and experienced some pretty awesome stuff. Several years ago, I had a season of three months that I would never care to repeat. At the time, I didn’t see it as consecration, but more of a testing that felt like punishment. Life was just happening, and it was no fun. However, those three months of trials were followed up by one of my sweetest spiritual seasons to date. It was a season of growth and heavy-duty heavenly download. To me, it was wonder-filled.

One of things I learned through that hard season, was that I really did trust and believe God was who he said he was. I leaned on my faith in a way I never had before, in a very tangible way. That season made God so real. I was able to get angry with Him and be honest, yet know that He would never leave or forsake me, and he love me no matter what. I could call on His name, and know that he hears me.

Wounding was followed by wonder. That season brought out some of the doubts I had been harboring, it made me a little more “clean” in my faith. It was a step in the consecration process. Though I didn’t, and couldn’t, see it in the moment.

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I’m wondering if you’ve had the same experience. Where God brought you through a season, only to see and experience something wonderful afterwards?

Thankfulness can be a hard place to live from if you’re in a season of consecration. I want to challenge you to go to God, be real with him. Be grateful, and ask God to show you His glory in it all.  Love you!

 

 

Sukkot & Seasons

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 (ESV)

Although not completely raised in the church, I remember singing this verse in rounds during my formative years. It brings joy to my heart and mind, and I can’t help but start singing it quietly in my head. You may have too!

Sometimes we lose track of that verse, forgetting that this day – today – is His. I was reminded of this while reading Psalm 113-118 today. I really enjoy learning about the various feasts of the Old Testament, the significance and foreshadowing each one holds as a believer in Christ Jesus.

Today, October 5, 2017, marks the beginning of Sukkot, or The Feast of Tabernacles. It’s a joyful and festive week, lasting for seven days. In Exodus 23:16, God outlines this festival as a time to “gather in from the field the fruit of your labor.”

The joy during this occasion commemorates God’s goodness and provision in the past, during the wilderness wandering. It also marks the end of harvest and the beginning of the rainy season, so God’s goodness and provision for the present season. [i]

We all have seasons, not marked by days on the calendar, but rather events in our life and stirrings in our heart. Seasons that we don’t see coming, while some we do. Some are sweet and fulfilling, while others are filled with hurt and emptiness.

Presently, I’m coming out of one season, and transitioning into another. It’s a brief time of wandering, all be it not anything compared to the Israelites for 40 years. While the unknown of this season is not super comfortable, my creature comforts are met abundantly. It’s neither sweet or empty, it just is.

I say all this to set the stage. Because today, my thoughts took a wander in the desert – not focused on God’s provision, either past or present.

Several months ago, while reading through the book of Psalm, I got hooked on to Psalm 118:25 which is the verse which comes right after, “This is the day the Lord has made”. It’s part of the Hallel which is read during this particular feast week, Sukkot. The Hallel simply means the praise Psalms. [ii]  Verse 25 says, “Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success!” Out of curiosity, I looked up the Hebrew word ‘success’ in Strong’s to truly understand what was being asked of God, and journaled a little bit along the edge of my Bible. Much of the definition was what one would expect, but part of that definition says, ‘to push forward’.

img_6199.jpgToday, my wandering mind was gently nudged to joy, ‘pushed forward’ and reminded of this sweet season. Even though I’m a little uncomfortable with the unknown, it is sweet because I can trust God. This little doodle, done months ago, seems fitting considering my current season of the unknown. I was reminded of Sukkot and the celebration of God’s provision and goodness. I am choosing to be thankful in this season. Thankful for the provision he has given, and for that which is to come – no matter what form it takes, or what season I find myself in.

I want to challenge you to open God’s word this week and read the Hallel, Psalm 113-118. It’s a beautiful reminder of who God is. When we truly seek to know who He is, we will not be disappointed. Rejoice in Him!

[i] The Feasts of the Lord; Howard, Kevin; Rosenthal, Marvin; Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1997; pg.135-137

[ii] The Feasts of the Lord; Howard, Kevin; Rosenthal, Marvin; Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1997; pg.139

Let Go & Let Grow

I love being a mom. It’s hard, fun, beautiful, challenging – and so much more. One day this summer my daughter, Alex, begged to go for a bike ride down our gravel road. I complied and hopped on my bike. As she began to speed away, I shouted, “Now wait a minute! I thought this was a together kinda thing!” She was so far ahead and focused, my words were lost in her dust trail.

IMG_5311As I watched her race her older brother, and feel the wind in her hair, a feeling of pride and delight enveloped me. Her shins and elbows were bruised and battered, showing signs of playing hard, falling and getting back up – side effects of learning and growth. But now, now, she was flying. Flying away…from me.

It’s so much fun to watch my kiddos grow and learn; starting to fly on their own, and in their own way. It’s bitter sweet for a momma’s heart, but I also know that my job is to allow them to fly. But as I watched Alex ride away, my heart full of excitement, I wondered if that’s how God feels when his children “fly” with what he created them for. That moment when we see the freedom and wonder laid out before us.

Part of the desire in my mom-heart is for my kids to surpass me and do remarkable things! Just like Alex surpassing me on that bike ride, I want her to go farther and higher than I could ever imagine. I believe that we are designed to grow from glory to glory.

One lesson that God is teaching me right now is about surrender and letting go. The bigger the ‘thing’, the more I have to let go. We must let go, in order to let grow. When I hold on so tightly, it’s impossible for real growth to occur. Things get stunted.

God created this thing called man, it was a pretty big deal. But then, he had to let go (free will) in order to let us grow – no matter what form it took. In God’s perfectness, he also had a plan for relationship to occur amongst the bumps and bruises of growth. (Jesus)

When something big is taking place, it can be hard to let go and release control – surrendering to the growth and transformation. Surrendering to the unknown. Raising a child is kind of a big thing, but I must let go in order for them to transform and grow into capable adults. Honestly, I can’t and don’t want to control everything. Just like the Father, I must let go and allow them to find their own way.

I’m working on letting go and surrendering something thats kinda big (not kid-rearing), and I’m wondering if you have something to let go of too. Something where the desired result is growth, glory to glory, nothing stunted or held back. Released to the fullest potential of what God has intended and created. I’m challenging myself to make a conscious decision to remove my hands, so that God’s wonder and glory-filled ones might be revealed. Are you up for the challenge, too? I desire to let go, so that I can grow and see God’s glory.

 

“But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:16 (ESV)

Beauty in the Brokenness

This summer seems to have flown by. Just the other day during some prayer time I spoke to the Lord, “Well, August has come and gone. Help me to take this new month with thanksgiving as a fresh season.” And though we enjoy a new month, there’s a piece of me that takes some time to reflect.

One of the things that I’ve had rolling in my thoughts is a picture I took this summer while visiting Florida. It was during a time where I stole away for the afternoon to have some alone time, a peace-filled gift from God. I played in the water, picked up several shells for my kids, and scooped up sand.

As I sat and watched the waves, I looked over to a patch of sand that consisted of larger, pieces of broken shells. I thought to myself, “There are so few shells out here today. These are all broken!” But then a whisper in my soul, “There is beauty in the brokenness,” lyrics from a worship song, ‘Joy’ from Housefires II.

My experience of that little patch of beach turned from disappointment to one of beauty and wonder. Wonder at that fact that for miles, God had taken what seemed broken, and created beauty. He does that very thing for us.

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When things seem dark, broken and confusing – we can choose to trust Him with the broken pieces. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5, ESV) His ways are higher than ours. (Isaiah 55:11)

He is the star breather and creator of the universe! I am whole and complete, but I’m also asking God to make something beautiful from broken pieces around me. He is well able! And I’m excited, because whatever the Creator comes up with will be beautiful. Can you trust Him with the broken pieces?

Hope in the Heartache

Recently, I’ve been walking through some hard stuff with a dear friend. There have been so many tears, and just when I think they have ceased – it hits again. The other day, my friend quickly stopped by for an exchange of goods and we chatted in the driveway for a few, brief moments. As I divulged some hard, family things which I had held back for a few days, we looked at each other with a shared dis-belief and questioning. We hugged and I commented how it had been such a hard summer. Her response, “It’s been a hard three years.” I shook my head in agreement and drew a deep breath. Yes. Yes, it has.

Over the next few days, my thoughts visited that brief exchange and life over the past three to four years. But while planting some replacement blueberries in our u-pick field one morning shortly after, a sense of peace, hope and gratitude came over me. I was planting new blueberries in a variety that had really struggled, and experienced the greatest loss. Those first bushes were planted five years ago yesterday. They have a history. My husband and I have struggled with this group of plants, and their short, stunted growth reflects those challenges.  It seems like we haven’t seen any progress in them for five years. Instead of thriving and increasing, they just sit and sulk.

I was ready to tear the whole lot out, when something changed. The struggle and patience has started to bear fruit! Not physical fruit that we would eat today (that comes next year) – but growth. It’s been so exciting to see that amongst the weeds and bug riddled leaves, we have new and healthy canes coming along. And they are big! Out of the entire field, these runts have begun to take heart with new canes easily seen over their neighbors. It’s an answer to prayer.

My friend’s words rang in my ear, “It’s been a hard three years.” as I prayed. “It’s been a hard five years with these plants. So much life has taken place in this space of time. But God, you are faithful and good. There will be growth and new life that springs forth from these heartaches the past two months. God, you will bear good fruit from these scars and wounds. We may not see it, understand it, or feel it for a long time – but I trust in who you are. I trust that you will bring beauty from these ashes. These blueberries have struggled to thrive, but you will redeem the time which seems lost and make whole what seems broken. Do the same for my friend and her family.”

IMG_5885That new growth was encouraging. It is new and lush, healthy and whole. What a reward for patience and wrestling. It will bear new fruit next year. But for now, I am happy to bask in the thrill of HOPE for these plants and my friend.

“For whatever was written in the former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4 (ESV)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13 (ESV)

 

Where are you rooted?

Over the past few weeks, our pastor has been preaching about freedom and bondage, and that true freedom comes in being chained to the cross of Christ. It’s been a lot to think about. In my Connection Class (Sunday School), we’ve been talking about boundaries. Heavy stuff that I believe has been challenging all of us, and touching on some pretty soft spots.

I’m also reading this book called Wild & Free, by Hayley Morgan and Jess Connolly. It challenges the thoughts about how in the fullness of God available to His daughters, we often feel limited by two defining insecurities: “I am too much,” and “I am not enough.”[1] Today I read a portion about the children of Israel, and how in the hard parts of their desert wandering they desired to go back to captivity. “Anything kept in captivity can only grow as much as its cage will allow. If we aren’t walking out of our bondage, we’re missing out on the fullness and on the abundant life of Christ.”

These sentences sparked a thought and principle I’ve known for years in regards to my training in horticulture. When plants are kept in pots, some are perfectly fine while others struggle. They all thrive at first, germinating in a safe space with plenty of water and nutrients available within reach. But trees quickly lack enough depth for a strong tap root, forced to turn circles in the bottom of its container. Plants can also become stunted and chlorotic. That chlorosis is typically caused when leaves do not have enough nutrients to synthesize all the chlorophyll they need.[2] They’ve used up all the initial nutrients within the confines and bondage of their container.

Boundaries are good. I know, trust and understand that. But I can’t help but think about the artificial and false boundaries we institute around ourselves. The boundaries that stunt our growth and keep us from ever growing to the fullest design of who we are. Fear, anxiety, wanting acceptance – the list could go on. I often live within my self-proclaimed boundary of fear and the desire to be accepted by others, if I’m honest with myself, every day. That’s tough to admit.

For the past year, I’ve been working through some of this; however, the challenge and truth has increased as I move forward to the ‘next thing’ in a long process of learning and growth. I don’t want to be a stunted little oak tree. I desire to disciple women in Christ, to make a difference, to bear fruit not for my glory but for God’s. That’s hard to do when I’m stuck in a flower pot of comfort, slowly turning chlorotic. It will require me to break through my self-made, false boundaries which are confining, and move into the truth-filled boundaries proclaimed over me before the foundations of the earth. (Ephesians 1:4)

At some point, my desire to thrive in the ‘fullness and abundant life of Christ’ must be greater than all the other things. I trust that the boundaries from God, for my life, are good. It’s not a mediocre ‘good’ that we use to describe our day, but the awesome ‘good’ He used in Genesis 1 to describe the sun, moon and stars which He breathed into orbit. The ‘good’ He had in mind when we created the depths of the sea and the majestic heights of this land. The boundaries on our life are ‘good’ and pleasant (Psalm 16:6), and ones that we will stand in awe of.

IMG_5864Are you living in a flower pot of your own making? Perhaps it’s still a safe place, you’ve just germinated and need the safety and comfort provided. But maybe you’ve been there a while, and you’re going in circles or chlorotic. There’s so much more we could extrapolate on, but for now I’m challenging myself to really evaluate, “Where am I rooted, and where does God desire me to be?.” Would you join me?

“The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” Psalm 16:6 (ESV)

 

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Wild-Free-Hope-Filled-Anthem-Enough-ebook/dp/B010R2U5ZU

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorosis

Wax Hearts

My husband and I have several hives of bees. For the past couple of years, we’ve been loosely mentored in bee keeping (as our interest and time allow) by my dad. This year, we decided it was time to commit and take on the care of our hives, calling for help when necessary. This season, we managed to harvest nearly 100 lbs. of honey, and try our hand at rendering the wax from the comb capping’s.

Rendering wax is a multi-step process. The wax is melted, filtered and cooled – twice – being poured into a final mold after the second filtering. From there, the wax is melted a third time and made into candles, lip balm, etc.

As the final stage of filtered wax was poured into the molds, I watched these freshly melted wax hearts begin to harden and cool – taking shape of the form around them. The wax had first been scraped with a hot knife from the comb. Then left to drip of all the sweetness within. Gathered up, the wax was set in the hot sun to melt. Filtered from the slum gum (yucky stuff), the first glimpses of purity were seen. But again came the sun, hot and unyielding. Once again poured out, filtered and drained. This wax rendering was work; requiring patience, and careful handling as to not get burned.

Throughout the old and new Testament, scripture mentions hearts that are melted and hearts that are refined by fire.

The Psalmist, David, wrote about feeling forsaken by God and scorned by mankind. “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast.” (Psalm 22:14, ESV)

The testing and trials of life can be like that hot honey-knife, slicing away and exposing past hurts and pains, insecurities, strong holds, addictions, idols. Or maybe it’s walking through a desert-like season with the sun beating down and melting us into a hopeless puddle, like the melted wax heart within David’s chest in Psalm 22.

Melted and filtered.

Testing and trials.

Each step can be used to refine our heart, it’s work, just like the removal of the slum gum from the wax. What would it be like to accept those trials and desert seasons of life, when our heart feel melted, with gratitude for the refining like gold? “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right (steadfast) spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 (ESV) Would that change your perspective in times of trouble? Could you be brave and ask what is being refined?

I don’t believe that testing and trials are just for the fun of it. We live in a fallen world with hurts and heartaches…but Jesus. Take a look at these verses in 1 Peter.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

When the hot sun comes bearing down, and you feel like you’ve been thrown into a furnace, I want to challenge you to pick up your shield of faith (Eph. 6:16) and with a surrendered heart, trust the Refiner (God) through the fire. Ask Him to use the fire, refine your faith in Him. Through the flames, I want to challenge you to give God the glory with a heart of thanksgiving, accepting his abundant mercy and grace, allowing the ‘yuck’ to be worked through His filter. You and your faith are precious to the Lord.

IMG_5439Those refined wax hearts are ready to use. Ready to be transformed into something which can burn brightly or sooth chapped lips. Our refined hearts can burn brightly for the Lord and be used to offer a soothing balm to others who are hurting and chapped by this world.

Be encouraged, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)

Tide Changer

For the last year and a half, I’ve been studying the book of Joshua and writing a Bible study while teaching the material in Connection Class on Sunday mornings. While reviewing Joshua 11 for class and the day’s lesson about the ebb and flow of the Israelites’ claiming their Promised Land it hit me. God is our Tide Changer.

fullsizeoutput_ef3.jpegThere’s no Hebrew name for God in this fashion (that I’m aware of), but I truly believe it. God, Creator of the universe – moon, stars, oceans, the whole shebang – also created the tides. The ebb and flow, their shifting all over this blue-green globe.

Life tends to have an ebb and flow to it too, shifting seasons of fall and winter rest followed by the full force of spring and summer. And within that, each day and week have an ebb and flow, a rhythmic pattern of coming and going. A Sabbath rest followed by busy work days, and back again.

My life right now is in the full-force “flow” mode. It’s abundantly full to the point I’m not sure I can keep up. But He amazes me with just enough rest to catch my breath before the next wave hits. (Like this moment right now!) At times, it feels the waves won’t let up, but I know it won’t last forever.

Perhaps you’re in an “ebb” season, where drought and depression have engulfed you. No matter where you are, whether in the “ebb” or “flow” of life – trust that God is the Tide Changer. He can bring life rushing back with a fresh breath of the Holy Spirit, or shift the tide so that we can slow down and breathe.

What season are you in right now? No matter where you find yourself, God can and will always turn the tide for your good. Trust Him.

Jesus & the Road to Emmaus

I’ve been reading through the book of Luke since late April or early May. It’s been a little sporadic, but I finally finished today. To be completely honest, the last three chapters I had really been putting off – the betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus.

This morning, I asked God to help me finish the last two chapters of Luke. It would be more scripture than normally covered, but I wanted to finish. As I prayed, it occurred to me that this part is the greatest part of God’s love letter to us. It’s the greatest part of His love story. If my husband sacrificed his own life for that of someone else, it would be the talk of the town. A sacrificial love like no other. Why would I not want to read the greatest love story ever told?

With a fresh desire I made it through, and to the final chapter. I love the story of the two men on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. Cleopas and Simon are walking to Emmaus and come across a stranger who joins them. They tell this stranger about what has just taken place in Jerusalem – the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus (Good News travels fast). Then the stranger begins to interpret to them all the Scriptures. (Luke 24:27) They are wowed by the stranger’s understanding and urge him to stay with them, come for supper.

But as they sit to eat, the stranger breaks the bread and blesses it. Immediately, the two men’s eyes are opened and they realize that this “stranger” is the resurrected Jesus himself. (Talk about a good story!) As their eyes are opened to who they had spent so much time with that day, Jesus vanishes. I’m sure their opened eyes got a little wider.

“When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. Their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.” (Luke 24:30-31, ESV)

That verse reminded me of when I first saw Jesus. It was in the telling of the story of his crucifixion and resurrection. It was his body – blessed, broken and given to each one of us – just like the bread with Cleopas and Simon. It was an August night in 1994 at Windy Gap, a Young Life camp. The story of Jesus was graphically told that night, just like I read in Luke 23 this morning. It was the realization of how much the Lord our God loves us, has forgiven us, desires relationship with us, and prepared a way for eternal life for us, with Him.

Whatever road you are on right now, I want to encourage you to take 20-30 minutes, and read the gospel of Luke 23-24. I promise you, time spent in God’s Word is not wasted time. Allow Him to meet you, right where you are. Its about relationship, not perfection. I’m asking that God would open our eyes, just like Cleopas and Simon, to see Jesus. I’m asking for a fresh reminder of what first brought us to believe God and Jesus’ sacrifice. And I’m asking that God’s love would wash over us, afresh. Amen.