Father’s Day was two days ago. Did you shower blessing and honor upon your father? Did you express how much you love and appreciate your daddy?
Just as our earthly father likes to be called daddy, so also our heavenly Father longs to hear the word spring from our mouths. Just as the toddler runs full speed towards his daddy, so also God wants us to always run straight towards Him. Just as a child turns to her father for every need, want, and desire, so also God wants us to turn toward Him. He wants us to view Him with the same trust, feelings of safety, and love that we associate with our earthly daddy. So He gave Himself a new name.
That word easily tumbles out of the mouth of a toddler as he runs to greet his father with a bear hug or spills out in the delighted squeal of a little girl as her father relentlessly tickles her tummy. Whether it’s uttered in joyful abandon, frustrated anger, deep-hearted sorrow, unwavering trust, or warm affection from the lips of a child or adult, the connotation remains the same.
As we continue to march through the days of June and prepare for summer, I look outside and am astounded by the abundance of greenery and beauty that accompanies spring and early summer. The songbirds have returned from their winter migration and fill the skies with their graceful aerial acrobatics and complex melodies. The deer and other wildlife have little ones by their sides, and the trees are budding forth with new leaves. All these speak loudly to me of one thing: LIFE.
Yesterday, I shared an epiphany that occurred while standing before the traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It was a scene that opened my eyes to see each name and wrap my heart around each life that was given. However, there was an aspect of the story that I did not tell you, a part of my contemplations that I did not share.
This iconic image from World War II has come to represent the tenacity and loyalty of America and her comrades-in-arms. But it is also a representation of sacrifice.
Today, as we reflect on the victories that have made America the world power she is today, we must also remember the millions of lives sacrificed in the process. This is what Memorial Day is all about: remembering those fallen in combat.
Editor's Note: This is the testimony and life journey of a dear friend of mine and her personal experience in treasuring God's Word. Formerly a servant in the ministry of family discipleship, Stephanie Hills is now involved in the incredible work of Bible translation. This is the story of the journey God took her on to reach this point in her life and ministry. Though this isn't the style of posts I generally share, I felt that since So I Fix My Eyes... is centered around the Bible, this topic would be fitting. I pray that you are encouraged, inspired, and blessed by Stephanie Hills' story.
They live quiet, selfless lives. They’re always on call and never have time off. They don’t work for money nor do they expect praise or applause for their daily, moment-by-moment efforts. Their greatest delight and joy is to see their young protégées walking with the Lord, happy, healthy both in body and mind, and noteworthy citizens of society. From the sleepless nights of the infant stage through the rocky ride of the teen years, they work tirelessly to see that goal come to fruition.
After a painful good-bye with promises to keep in touch, I climbed into the car and drove away from their lives. For the first two months after we moved, there were video calls every week. After that, however, it turned to phone calls. But those, too, became less and less frequent. Until in a matter of months the only messages were texts from me, as I tried to keep up. At first they were answered, but that became less and less frequent as well. Eventually, I felt like I was nagging my beloved friends. I felt like my messages were just another thing they had to do, and I should maybe send less of those as well. Now, I might hear of their lives from other people, but they don’t really know me anymore.
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
~II Chronicles 7:14
We see this verse a lot. But what exactly are we asking when we quote this promise? Are we asking for a return to America’s former prosperity and season of blessing? When we think and pray this passage are we focused on the “then I will forgive their sin and heal their land” part of the equation? What are our motives? Do we just want the material, social, and political success of former eras? Or are we truly desiring the humbling of God’s people, repentance, and seeking of God?
The other night my family and I were discussing what Scripture meditation actually means, what it looks like, and it’s place in the Christian life. Personally, I believe that Scripture meditation is simply opening God’s Word, reading a passage of verses, and then being still before God. It’s a time when I ponder the meaning and significance of the passage in front of me, the biblical importance and background, and the personal application.
As a young adult, I often get questions like: “What are you doing with your life?” “Are you going to school?” “What are you interested in?” And so on. My response as of late tends to be “I’m interested in ministry and currently keep a devotional blog called So I Fix My Eyes…” However, after a recent conversation with my mom about future life goals and passions, I began pondering what ministry actually means.
Since a very young age, I have always been fascinated by the stained glass windows found within the states. The stories of Jesus show forth proudly as the new day sun shines through. Casting the dark reds, and deep blues upon the faces of the congregation as they eagerly listen to the words of their shepherd. Small children investigate the photos of Christ in His ministry on earth, remembering the tales of Christ that they so often hear from their parents: the feeding of the 5,000, Christ's birth, death and resurrection. Though it may seem childish, I still enjoy spending my time looking at stained glass windows and maybe the reason behind my love of them is knowing how much they show my own story.
A stone rolled away…an empty tomb...abandoned burial rags…a missing body…
These timeless reminders of Resurrection Sunday and the events that took place often lose their luster and become ordinary, expected, and predictable, especially if you’re like me and grew up in a Christian home. We become so familiar with these icons of Christianity that they lose their wonder, awe, and splendor in our eyes. But this should not be! We should never grow weary and calloused to the glory, awe, and miracle of the empty tomb, but must remind ourselves of what really took place and become re-amazed by the wonder of it all.
Two pieces of wood, one planted vertically and the other attached horizontally two-thirds up the first. Once a symbol of Roman cruelty and torture, now an emblem of divine love, the simple image of the cross holds much meaning and significance. Especially today, as we remember and hold sacred the sacrifice of Jesus’ blood poured out for us.
We make many assumptions. Too often we assume that as Christians, we don’t experience the same problems unbelievers face. It’s easy to think that once we are redeemed from our sins we don’t have as great a need of God’s grace as others do. We know that those who don’t trust Jesus for forgiveness have been blinded and hardened against the truth (John 12:40, Ephesians 4:18). However, when Jesus stilled the storm in Mark 6, the disciples were surprised at Jesus’ power because “their hearts were hardened” (Mark 6:52). This begs the question, “Can Christians have hard hearts as well as unbelievers?” Hebrews 3:14 indicates we certainly have the potential, so I don’t think we can remove ourselves from this dangerous category. Instead we should know what it means to be hard-hearted, what we can do to prevent it, and how we can be restored if we have sinned by having a hard heart.
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