The Kingdom Building Call (Part Five)

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Week Five Study Overview: Today, we will discuss crisis and speak of how the fire in our bones can become a full-on blazing inferno.

Key Point of Struggle: Crisis! Why must we deal with it, and what do we do when it begins to shake our entire foundation, threatening to extinguish the fire in our bones?

Key Proof of Comfort: We are going to learn a powerful Holy Spirit declaration through John 16:13-15.

To recap, the last time we were with Jeremiah, he wanted to walk away from his calling but quickly recognized he couldn’t. He invited us into a small piece of his world when he revealed this:

Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.

-Jeremiah 20:9

Jeremiah dealt with crisis in the form of people beating him, chaining him, and making a mockery of his ministry. It was entirely possible that the crisis of dealing with flesh and blood, people who did not want to hear his words from the Lord, would also lead to a faith crisis. Jeremiah thought about walking away, but he couldn’t ignore the burning in his bones.

Have you ever felt like walking away?

I have.

I’ve been down roads paved thick with grief. I’ve stood all by myself with God and shaken my fists at an invisible figure. I’ve felt alone with a God who said He’s with me to deliver me but haven’t felt any deliverance whatsoever. And then after making peace with knowing that if I have no God then I have no life, I have once again felt the deep burning inside my bones. It’s how I know He’s there even when I can’t find resolve. I stand on promises and know that inside my bones there’s a kindling which cannot be contained. We live in a world full of sin. Crisis will come, but Jesus had a plan.

In John chapter 16, John shares with us the words our Savior spoke to His disciples. Jesus told them the Holy Spirit would come to be their Helper. I picture, in that moment, Jesus looking into the eyes of a bunch of wide-eyed men who grew more and more confused with every word He spoke. They hung onto each sentence for dear life but could not figure out what any of it meant.  And then crisis came. Their Beloved was captured and crucified. For three days the tomb was not empty, and the disciples were faced with a faith crisis. They had lived in a whirlwind of miracles and love so powerful it could restart hearts. It was a love that didn’t just feed mouths, but souls. They hadn’t known anything like it before and after experiencing it, knew they couldn’t live without it ever again. In my mind, I imagine John, who deemed himself the disciple Jesus loved, tearing through his memories working to solve an unsolvable mystery. I envision John remembering these particular words that Jesus spoke:

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”

-John 16:13-15

When it was all said and done and death hadn’t beaten them, after they saw with their own eyes an empty tomb and a resurrected Messiah caught up in the sky, they waited. They sat together in an upper room when the Helper showed up and filled up. The breath of God came in the form of wind that would fill every heart with His Holy Spirit Helper – the Helper of all who believes. And to this day, it’s that same Wind that keeps the fire in our bones burning bright.

“For He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” Those words from Jesus speak to me mightily.  I’ll tell you why:

Let’s talk for a brief moment about the word crisis. It comes from the Greek word Krisis, which means turning point from a disease. And that word Krisis comes from the word krinein which means to decide.

When we find ourselves in the middle of a diseased situation, it forces us to make some decisions. Crisis backs us into a corner and asks us what we’re going to do. And Jesus said, “He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”

Do you know what I need to hear in the midst of chaotic crisis? I need to hear the Holy Spirit’s declaration that I belong to Christ, that my identity is in Him and not in the situation that caused my crisis.

I am not grief!

I am not unforgiveness!

I am not a victim!

I am victorious in Christ, because I am the daughter of the living God!

Deep down in my heart of hearts, I know that when Jeremiah contemplated giving up his ministry, he heard the first words spoken to him by God. I believe they played on repeat and reignited the holy burn in his bones.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

-Jeremiah 1:5

Friend, if you’re in the middle of crisis, I want you to know that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live inside you and be your Helper. He wants to remind you that you were created intentionally for purpose, and that you’ve been set apart for a life only you can live. You are meant to bring Him glory. Your identity is found in Christ! You are His; the Holy Spirit wants to declare that to you. And you need to declare it out loud!

  • Who are you to God? Search scripture and write about it in your journal.
  • Psalm 143 is a beautiful psalm of David as he seeks wisdom and guidance in the middle of crisis. For deeper study, I encourage you to read the entire psalm, write 143:10 in your journal, and pray it over yourself every day this week.

 

Next week, we will be studying the widely known scripture in Jeremiah 29:11 as we close out our series on the faithful prophet Jeremiah.

When you learn to search the word, the word will come alive to you like never before. The fire in your bones will become an inferno. Don’t underestimate who God made you to become!

Love,

Jennifer

PS: I recently did an interview for Kimberly Taylor at Take Back Your Temple. If you’re interested, you can read it here.

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Why I WILL Drink From A Red Cup…

Image courtesy of Starbucks.com

Image courtesy of Starbucks.com

Disclaimer: This post is more controversial than I normally write, so please don’t be offended. Hear my heart. I also realize that Starbucks supports agendas I don’t agree with. However, This is about another issue.

Dear fellow Christians,

Isn’t it interesting how when December approaches everyone wants to rally for the words Merry Christmas? All of a sudden, there’s outrage based on what other people say or don’t say.

I have to tell you something: in a world where everything is off kilter and people are more concerned about red cups rather than their suffering neighbors, I feel hope.

I have hope shut up in my bones because the problem isn’t the red cup, it’s the lack of understanding for the meaning of Christmas every day of the year. Somehow, we’ve become disconnected with idea that Jesus is for every minute of every day.

Yes, the celebratory day of December 25th is important. Very important. But if you ask me, I think Jesus cares a whole lot more about how we act concerning His name all 365 days of the year, not just that one.

You see, it’s easy to be warm and tingly and love your scary neighbors when the weatherman says snow might fall and Silent Night is playing on every station. It’s easy to put a few cents in the Salvation Army’s shiny, red donation bucket outside the store when everyone else is doing it. But what about when everyone else isn’t? What about when the carols go silent?

So where does hope come into play?

Well, maybe hope will be found within this red cup debacle. Maybe people will become so disgusted that a crazy “evangelist’ wanted his 15 minutes of fame, that people will think about the person drinking the cup, not the cup itself.

I seem to remember a moment in the life of Jesus when He prayed that if it was possible the cup would be passed from Him. (See Mathew 26:38-40) Even though Jesus was willing and did what He had to for ALL of creation, it wasn’t easy. He was beaten, suffered, and died innocent for a guilty world deserving of death and hell. Thank you, Lord, for grace!

Now let’s relate the cup to us:

How often do we skip the prayer and pass the cup anyway? What about when kindness seems much too difficult to show the crazy lady or the mean old man behind the counter at the local grocery store? Do we pass the cup? Maybe we don’t want to give away hard-earned money to bless someone else. Do we pass the cup? Maybe we don’t want our co-worker to think we are one of those radical Christians when we invite them to church. Do we pass the cup? Are we guilty of doing nothing at all?

Too often, without a single prayer, we worry about our own will rather than His while quickly passing the cup as fast as humanly possible.

Christmas is about living every day for the rest of our lives holding our “cups” humbly and doing what God expects of us willingly.

We must show love.

Shouldn’t we let our cups overflow in hopes that we can help someone else fill theirs?

Friend, there will be many pressing events that happen in this world and most will not match up with Christianity. They will spark outrage and many of them should. However, it’s what we do with the spark that makes the difference. Will we use it as a light to love others? Or, will we try to burn those we don’t agree with? Jesus said ,”Love one another.” (See John 13:34-35) It’s as if we’ve decided to ignore that part. And ,worse yet, we do it in His name while blaming a red cup!

My bottom line for every controversial issue is this:

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath…

-James 1:19

If you’re worried about your expression of Merry Christmas, let me leave you with this:

Starbucks cannot take Christmas away from you and either can anyone else! Whether or not the woman in front of you at the grocery store agrees or disagrees with the birth of Christ, she cannot steal your faith. If you’ve accepted Christ as your savior, then Jesus lives in you, as well as all of His love. Pour into another person’s cup!

Every store from now until the end of my lifetime can ban their employees from wishing me Merry Christmas, that’s okay. I’m not overly concerned with them. I’m concerned with myself. I’m concerned with my words and my choice to show others love because Jesus was born for me, died for me, and rose again for me. I will say merry Christmas because the birth of Christ reconciled me to my eternal Father. I will decorate my home because every piece of the holy day of Christ’s birth matters to me.

And, get ready, I will drink from a red cup this season!!!

When I do, you can bet I’ll wish the barista Merry Christmas, and I’ll do it in love, because everyone needs it. It’s not cliché, it’s truth. Everyone needs love, and they need light. Let’s use it to make a difference, not to burn others. I have no agenda but to live a life pleasing to Christ.

You might not agree with Starbucks, but I hardly believe they are trying to steal the words Merry Christmas from you. Please don’t expect others to be the church. Start with yourself. You be the church! I will too!

When your joy comes from Jesus, no one can steal it but you…

He was born for you, died for you, and rose again for you!

Don’t become caught up in publicity stunts and the worry of our free speech. We still have it in this country. And anyway, actions speak louder than words. So speak! And not just at Christmastime, but every day of the year. Jesus lives all 365 days. He has from the beginning of time and He will forever.

Love,

Jennifer

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Because We All Need Friends

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The struggle to lead a still life is exactly that… a struggle. Because the truth is we’re all looking for peace in the midst of some type of turmoil. Grief from death, job losses, marriages, and even the way we feel about ourselves can easily lead us outside the landscape of a still life. We are all on a quest to maintain peace in the thick of a turbulent, fast moving world.

The only way any of us stand a chance is Jesus. He is our hope, salvation, and He makes everything new. He is a God of resurrection and fresh beginnings, and while we are here fighting the good fight, He often sends us help.

Help often comes in the form of wonderful people we call friends. People who share our joy and tears. The ones who care more about the cleanliness of our hearts rather than our houses, and even more importantly, they pray. They pray when circumstances are good and bad.

C.S. Lewis said this, “Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .””

We all need someone we can trust and confide in. Someone to help bear our burdens and lighten the weight of present circumstances. Someone who will make you feel better about life just because they exist!

Laughter and chocolate with a sweet friend will help bring stillness in the midst of the storm.

This is the day that the Lord has made, call a friend and rejoice in it!

Love,

Jennifer

PS: If you’ve missed any part of my October Series, The Struggle to Live a Still Life, click here and scroll down for links to previous posts.

The Day Fear Dropped Me Off in Crazy Town

"Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net"

“Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

I recently had the privilege of teaching some high school Bible classes. We talked a lot about worldview and absolute truth, and from there we went on a journey of Peter and discussed his personality, including how his shortcomings led to His strengths.

Anytime I speak or teach I like to mix things up with my own personal stories. Since I was talking to teenagers, I decided to travel back and pull out one of my least favorite memories from my adolescent years. Many of the students laughed hysterically. However, as I look back on this particular moment, I think of it as failing a test.

I decided to share this story because I was conveying to the class our responsibilities as living stones. We have the powerful ability to influence people with our actions.

When I was around the age of sixteen, my boyfriend, who is now my husband, took me skiing. He was a great skier and I… well, not so much. I liked to stay on the easy trails and after spending most of the time happily skiing the simple slopes, he was getting bored. He began communicating how he knew I was capable of skiing the black diamond run. I did NOT want to do it!

When my husband gets an idea in his head he can be relentless. As far as that’s concerned, nothing has changed since he was seventeen. He pulled out all the stops to convince me, and the next thing I knew I was riding a chairlift way up in the sky to the top of a mountain. And since we were night skiing, it was dark outside!

When we reached the top he gave me some instructions but fear got the best of me. And if I become overly afraid, I become angry. It’s not a quality I’m proud of possessing and when a person is sixteen, they usually don’t have a great time controlling these emotions that love to takeover.

I started down the hill, fell, rolled, was packed with snow, freezing cold, and mad as all get out! So of course out of maturity, I did the most sensible thing I could… I found my way to my feet and started to beat my boyfriend with my ski poles! (Thank God for layers, right?) I was screaming things like, “I trusted you!” and “I’m going to die up here!” He, being so patient as always, (another trait he has managed to keep over the years) just kept trying to softly calm me down.

And then came the really bad part…

I remember shouting that I wanted to ride the chairlift down the mountain when I heard a sweet little voice from a girl, who couldn’t have been more than eight years old, say, “You can’t ride the lift down, only up.” To which I promptly yelled back, “Shut up, little girl!”

I know, right?!?! Horrifying.

Yelling at a child is not, and never was, my personality. I had no idea I was capable of being so mean. Fear drove me to a place of anger and happily dropped me off in destination crazy town! If this moment was a test from God, then I failed. Big time!

I’m certain that no one who may have witnessed that out of control, angry, teenage girl would have considered her a living stone. And to this day, though it makes a funny story, I often pray for the child I yelled at. With one nasty sentence I’m sure I humiliated her, and even though there is no condemnation in Christ, I remember that moment to remind me of who I never want to be again – an overly angry person controlled by fear.

Fear, if allowed, becomes cancer. It infects us, causes anxiety, bitterness, and relationship struggles on every level. It destroys any hope of stillness.

I confessed this memory today only to communicate to you that to be still means letting go of fear that controls us and makes us who we were never meant to be.

We have a choice.

To be still in Christ means to put fear aside. “Do not fear” is a command stated to us in the Bible 365 times! That’s right, a reminder for every day of the year.

When Jesus looked upon Peter, he looked at him as not what he was, but who he was to become. That applies to us as well. However, we need to make proper choices along the way. Choose to let go of fear and allow yourself to experience stillness.

Love,

Jennifer

If you’ve missed any part of my October series, The Struggle to Live a Still Life, click here and scroll down for links to previous posts.

We Are All in Process…

Two Valid Points about Our gifts...Our timing often stands in the way of a still life. We’re usually desperate for what we lay at the throne of Christ, and we can be our own worst enemies in thinking that our way is the best way.

I remember being so desperate for a baby that I thought my life would fall to pieces if the pregnancy test read negative. It was disheartening as months turned into years and I felt stuck in the very same position where I started. But that wasn’t really the case at all, it’s just how I was choosing to see it.

In the middle of the deep and dark, God was working like a surgeon inside my heart and at the same time He was strengthening my foundation. I was becoming more rock solid in my spiritual life than I ever imagined. It was a process.

We are all in process.

There is a stirring that takes place in each one of us, and it eventually leads to a convergence of all we were born to become. It’s like a connection of puzzle pieces signifying all the difficulties we’ve faced, and then fitting them together with the beauty of Christ in our lives.

Our progression through brokenness is like a rite of passage. Through it, we gain experience that shapes us into who Christ knows we can become.

Jesus didn’t stand on the shore of Galilee and see Peter as merely a fisherman, He saw him as a fisher of men. He knew that Peter had a lot to endure and that his road wasn’t going to be easy. Jesus didn’t walk past him on that beach even though He knew Peter would eventually deny Him. Instead, He looked at what that process in Peter’s life would shape him into, and He chose to see that Peter – the one who would win souls and die for His Lord while building the kingdom.

Our God is a God of resurrection. He can take the worst of our lives and turn it into the best. He breathes life. This is why we have hope. And, friend, this is why it’s possible to live a still life.

We can find peace in the hope we have in a God who takes our worst and turns it to His best. We can move in stillness because we have a God who answers prayers and makes the crooked ways straight.

However, It’s in His timing.

Take it from someone who knows… trust His timing and let go of yours.

Love,

Jennifer

If you’ve missed any part of my October series, The Struggle to Live a Still Life, click here and scroll down for previous posts.

 

Confronting Brokenness Leads to Stillness

Confronting Brokenness Leads to StillnessWe’ve already established that God has a plan for each life. There is a calling and purpose for every one of us that leads to using our gifts and being confident in who we are in Jesus.

We also know that if we are alive and breathing, we have issues of brokenness. All of us will ultimately face something that will threaten our desire to move forward in all God has for us.

The danger of living inside brokenness is the possibility that we will trip over what hurts and never recover. But I have good news. It’s a choice.

The Lord gave each one of us freewill, and what we do with it is entirely up to us. It’s scary, isn’t it? How is it possible to face the trials and tribulations in life, and stand up in the middle of pain, pushing on through the brokenness of whatever it is we are facing? It’s only Jesus. Nothing is impossible with Him, and we have hope.

Hope stabilizes us. (Tweet that.)

It gives us the ability to not only stand up, but to walk and conquer victoriously in Christ.

However, to continue onward takes more than just moving our feet. It requires confrontation.

We must confront all the pain we have in order to walk through the process of restoration. And friend, the pathway of restoration leads to stillness of the soul. It takes us to a place of peace, regardless of the problem that continually stares us in the face. We are more than able, because Christ already conquered every dark place.

And so it’s time to turn on the light, because think about it…

Where does your light shine brightest? Among the darkness, that’s where.

Do not allow yourself to be subject to the dark, broken places. Allow the light of Christ to shine brightly that your pathway to restoration might be illuminated.

You must be healthy to move about freely in His will.

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.

-Psalm 34:18

When you are seeking Christ while dealing with the mountains you face, stillness is yours. Your pathway is already lit with His mercy.

Deal with what hurts you, cry out to Him, worship Him through it. He is near to you.

We will always deal with pain. We will all constantly have issues to confront because we are broken people living in a broken world, but we serve a whole God. And His wholeness wraps us up and binds every wound.

From your beginning He has been with you, and He will never leave.

Give every wound to Him and be free to move in stillness. Use your gifts to help bring healing to yourself and others. He will minister through your broken places.

Love,

Jennifer

If you’ve missed any part of my October Series, The Struggle to Live a Still Life, click here.

 

 

For Those Who are Trying to Find Their Place in Community

Hands #2 photoWhere is your place? Where do you fit? Or do you never seem to find it?

We search and press forward with fortitude, praying that when the night falls there will be peace within our weary bones. And that when the dawn comes, we will be refreshed and renewed, free of the chains that enslave us in to thinking we don’t belong.

Because God is doing everything to say, “You do belong. You belong to me.” (See Mark 9:41 NKJV)

So that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us…

-Acts 17:27

In the book of Acts, Luke writes about a time when Paul passes an altar that is marked with the inscription: To The Unknown God. He (Paul) speaks to the men of Athens and proceeds to tell them about the known God. The One and Only who created the universe and gave life through His Son.

I can’t help but apply the words in Acts 17:27 to all who are searching for their place. This isn’t just a problem for unbelievers. Believers also struggle with their purpose and place in community. They know who the real God is, but they can’t seem to get a grip on what He wants. They long to know the definition of their lives and where they stand in the kingdom.

They want specifics; God wants trust.

Trust in God is key, but the enemy would love to make us all feel as if we have no right to liberty in community. And worse, that we have no right to accepting love.

There are times I wonder where I belong, and exactly how my small piece of life fits into the grand puzzle of what is happening around me.

For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

-Jesus in Matthew 7:8

When I began this blog, I called it A Girl on the Doorstep. It seemed I was always on the doorstep of life just waiting for God to actually fling the door wide.

Sometimes, I sat on that doorstep using the power of prayer in hopes that alone would help. I believe prayer will put a key in the lock but sometimes there is more to be done. In my situation, I felt God speak in a familiar, quiet whisper to my soul and say, “Pray and do.”

For me, that meant I needed to pray without ceasing, but I also needed to rise up and believe in the promises He’s given. Standing on His truth and believing He has a purpose for me helped in the process of doors opening.

He’s given me gifts to use for His glory. He’s given friends that surround me like cheerleaders, who love and know of my desire to seek and serve the living God, that I might find Him.

Friend, when you start looking, you’ll quickly realize that you don’t have to look far. You only have to submit your heart and life, which will cause you to see that you must live brave. You must wildly go where He calls.

For some of us, it might be making a phone call to encourage someone, it could be attending an event where we don’t feel comfortable, and for others it could be a foreign mission field. Hey, maybe you are called to write and share your testimony! Whatever it is, the God who lives close in your heart will never leave you.

You have a place here and it’s gorgeous. It’s colored with love and freedom. And, friend, you can be sure of this: someone is waiting for you. They need you to rise up in community and walk in your calling.

So beat down the door and go for it! You fit in! You have a place!

Love,

Jennifer

I Told You Life Isn’t About Rainbows. I Was Wrong…

RedLetterWords Rainbow_nThere have been many instances when I’ve said that life isn’t about rainbows. Accepting Christ doesn’t mean everything is going to fall in place and morph into the fairytale we’ve dreamt about.

I was wrong.

On May 25th, I was sitting outside on my deck watching the twins play on their swing set. I grabbed my phone and decided to scroll through Facebook. The company RedLetterWords had just posted a picture. She photographed a rainbow behind her in the distance and used the side mirror of the car to capture the image. For some reason, words that all of us see every day, while driving, came alive to me. “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”

In Biblical history, We first see the rainbow, and its meaning, in Genesis chapter nine. It’s the Noahic covenant, which is an agreement between God and mankind. He promises to never again flood the earth and to continually remember his promise to us with the sign of the rainbow.

I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Genesis 9:13-17

If you pay close attention to the words all flesh in verse seventeen, you’ll see that the beauty inside this covenant is it stretches throughout all eternity for all flesh who choose to follow the will of God. The promise of the rainbow, and the covering which it provides, wasn’t just meant for Noah and his family, but for all future generations.

When I saw that facebook picture from RedLetterWords, it ignited something deeper in me. When I read the wording on the mirror, I couldn’t stop reeling about the fact that His promises are much closer than they appear.

In day-to-day life, we often look through the lens of whatever it is we are facing. I lost my stepfather, suddenly, last July to a heart attack, so for much of the past year I’ve been viewing life through a lens of grief. The colors in God’s promised rainbow seemed dull, if I could even see them at all. I felt defeated and destroyed.

And here is what the Holy Spirit has breathed deeply into me:

It says in the above passage, “I set My rainbow in the cloud… The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” You see, our ability to see the rainbow is a beautiful benefit, but God always sees it… even if we can’t.

I can’t speak for you, but in my own life I have had moments when I’ve thought that God had somehow forgotten about my small existence. Can you relate? However, the truth is, He won’t ever forget. He can’t. He sees the promise continually.

And here is the crazy, amazing part: I believe His promise to mankind is wrapped up in His glory.

In Ezekiel chapter one, the prophet Ezekiel describes his vision of God. Nearing the end of the chapter, he sees the throne and the glory of God. This is what he says:

And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. 27 Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. 28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.

Ezekiel 1:26-28

In Revelation, John also sees the throne…

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.

Ezekiel and John both mention a rainbow, which we know is a sign of God’s covenant to mankind. I love to think that His promises are wrapped in His glory right there at His throne causing the continual remembrance of His children.

We know that when God was leading Moses and the Children of Israel through the desert that His glory often came in the cloud. (See Exodus 16:10, Exodus 24:16, Exodus 40:34)

His rainbow is in the cloud, and, to me, that means His promises are wrapped up in His glory!

When we give Him glory with our lives, when we offer praise to Him and love to others with everything we do, when we make the goal of our time here on earth to give glory and honor to Him who sits on the throne, then He will cover us with His everlasting promise. The rainbow will shine bright over us and His glory will shine down. We don’t have to see it, we just have to believe it’s there.

In Revelation chapters two and three, Jesus is addressing the seven churches. Out of the seven churches only two were recognized without complaint. The other five were called out for their sins. However, all seven were given a promise. After each church is addressed, Jesus speaks a promise beginning with the words, “To him who overcomes…” One of my very favorite promises is given to the church of Laodicea, which most of us distinguish as the lukewarm church.

Jesus says the following in Revelation 3:21 – “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”

Let me explain why this touches my heart the way it does.

When I was a little girl, all the way into my thirties, my grandmother would rock me on her lap. I know it seems absurd that a married woman would visit her grandmother just to sit on her lap and be comforted, but the love I received through it was overwhelming.

My grandmother left this world to be with Jesus when I was thirty-four years old. Even when the cancer ravaged her body and she was too weak to bear my weight, she would reach for me to come close. In her hospital bed, I would wrap myself around her as much as I could while she spoke words that will never leave me, “Jennifer, I love you bushels and bushels full, and don’t you ever forget it.”

What I’ve come to realize is that God gives us beautiful gifts in the form of relationships that are pieces of Him and His love. He deserves the glory for all of it. My grandmother was one of those gifts in my life, and when I think of being wrapped in that kind of love by Jesus, it propels me to overcome all the obstacles I might face. I long to experience that kind of moment with my Savior.

I want to overcome and be granted to sit on the throne with Him, but in the most humble way possible. I picture myself to be rocked, cradled, and loved. I envision the rainbow of His glory covering me for all eternity.

Christ did the work on the cross so that we might have access to His throne. Is there anything more powerful than that? I think not.

From now on, when I look at a rainbow, I will remember that the glory of God is shining bright. It’s filled with promises for those who love Him. I will remember the gift of His Son and His longing to preserve mankind in a way that caused the shedding of holy blood in exchange for my future. And for your future, too!

I’m sorry if I ever said that life isn’t about rainbows, because, friend, life is ALL about rainbows. It is ONLY about rainbows.

When we sow seeds of overcoming, we will reap the promise of the glory surrounding His throne. We will reap life. Eternal life.

He knows your name, friend, and YOU are an overcomer!

To God be the glory.

love,

Jennifer

What the Gospel of John Taught Me…

JohnJust the other day I sat down in a dimly lit room full of silence and opened up the gospels. I was aware of the sound each worn, thin page made as my fingers opened up to where I knew I had to read.

I compared each story, sifting through the passion of each writer and then, as always, the word began to teach me fresh and new. It was as if I hadn’t studied those accounts hundreds of times before. They lit up colorfully right there in the quiet of my morning.

It was John’s testimony that made my soul shout in praise.

I love John. He stood under the cross. The disciple whom Jesus loved stood there and witnessed death become life for all.

For ALL.

Oh to be the eyes of John. My heart is so jealous for that moment.

I know it must have been excruciating to watch. I don’t envy the pain of that day. It’s the truth inside each tear – to watch death become life and sullied sin become clean. To feel the ground quake at the exhale of Jesus’ final breath. To know, firsthand, the power of truth. That is what I envy.

Even though John didn’t know what would happen next, I’m sure his soul felt mended to his Savior in a way only grief can bind us. And then Sunday came…

Three days after, Mary Magdalene ran to Peter and John. She told them the stone was rolled away and Peter and John went running to see with their own eyes. John outran Peter and when he approached the entrance of the tomb he stooped down and peered in. When Peter arrived He went inside and saw the linen cloths lying there.

“For as yet they did not know the scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.”

-John 20:9-10

Mary Magdalene just stood there weeping. Wide-eyed with a broken heart she stood strong in commitment to this Jesus whom she loved. And then the angels spoke to her and Jesus Himself appeared speaking these words which poured out far more grace than any of us deserve…

“Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father, but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'”

-John 20:17

Notice in the above scripture I made sure to bold the word your. After His death on the cross and resurrection three days later, we, through Jesus, were adopted in to the family of the living God.

In chapter one of his book, John tells us this…

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

-John 1:12-13

When Jesus says, “Hey, Mary, go tell them I’m going to not only see My Father but yours/theirs too, not only to My God but yours/theirs also…” That excited me in a way nothing else has before.

It makes the words on the pages more than just words. They are actions. He died on a cross, beat death, and awoke with fresh breath so that we can call Him Lord, and His Father our Father. He paid the price.

Friend, It never gets old for me. It continually becomes new. I don’t know how He does it, but He really does live inside those words. They repeatedly pierce my heart, soul, and mind. They teach, give hope, and birth new faith.

More than anything I want you to feel the same passion. I want you to be excited about a God who is our God because of His Son who paid for us all.

May you feel His presence today, and may joy overwhelm you. Be excited! You have a Father who loves you and calls you His own. You belong to Him!

Thank you, Jesus!

Happy Easter!

Love,

Jennifer

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Today is His Birthday… (My Letter to Dominic)

PicMonkey CollageToday is his birthday. It’s hard to believe that last year when we all had cake together and laughed over the blowing out of candles that it would be our last one. His last one.

This isn’t easy. Saying goodbye never is. He wasn’t sick and there wasn’t any time to prepare. I don’t know if that makes our situation easier or harder, I just know it hurts. However, I’m choosing to look at today through eyes of joy and precious memories. Who knows? I might even have a piece of cake in his honor. He loved cake!

So here it goes… my letter to him.

Dear Dominic,

I miss you. The way you made me laugh and smile was true joy. You didn’t walk through the door of my life until I was eighteen years old and yet it seems that I knew you since birth. You were a father to me. You never showed me anything but love. And when I would get upset about something happening in the family you would just look at me and say, “It’s all going to be okay.”

You weren’t a man of many words, but you knew how to show love better than anyone I’ve ever met. It was quiet and strong, gentle and merciful, filled with joy and life.

I will never forget all the times you bought me Chinese food from the little take-out place I loved. No matter how large or small our order was, the lady on the phone would always say in her cute accent, “That will be thirty dollar.” And then there was the time I came home to visit from California. You positioned yourself, at the airport, alongside the limo drivers holding a big sign that said, “Thirty dollar.” I laughed the whole way down the escalator.

I won’t share the bowling story publicly because I’m sure you would just shake your head if I did, but I will never stop laughing at that moment. I don’t think anything funnier will ever happen again in this life.

I miss the way you loved my kids. The adoration in your eyes every time Pauly walked through the door was the most precious gift you could have given. All the times you took him to the toy store when he was little, to the movies, and to eat. And then when he grew you would listen to every song he wrote over and over again. It didn’t matter how many times you heard the same melodies, tears would still form in your eyes. You were proud of him and it showed.

The way you would draw treasure maps and hide loose change in the yard every time you babysat the twins are memories that will never leave them. The way you would yell, “Check my pockets!” when coming over the house and having them practically tackle you for the candy you overflowed them with.

The way you loved my mother… there are no words.

I’ve been thinking about how if I end up living to be old, I will see myself in the mirror wrinkly and gray-haired while you will always live young in my memory. fifty-eight was much too young to leave, but because of where you are now, I’m sure you are thinking that fifty-eight years was much too long to stay.

I know with my whole soul that Jesus is real and heaven is real ,and I know you are there. You are young and worry-free, playing with my babies, seeing all those who have gone on before us, and most importantly, worshipping the living God forever and ever.

I also know that it won’t be long until we are reunited. Time goes fast this side of heaven.

I haven’t’ found my true smile again yet. Since you left it’s been hidden. But I will. I know we have to keep going and that this life stops for nothing. I will think of you always. Every day for the rest of my life I will miss your love.

And through all of this, I’ve learned that one of the ways God shows love is by gifting us with others who can freely give it . We are created in His image and that means if we choose to accept Him, we will be able to give great love to others because He is love.

You loved Him and it showed in all the love you gave us. Thank you.

Happy birthday, Papa Dom. You were, and always will be, the best!

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

-A.A. Milne

 

I love you, pal.

Jennifer