The last two years have been rough for our world. First COVID brought a world-wide pandemic with multiple layers of shutdowns, mandates, and ever-changing rules. Fear and anxiety have wreaked havoc and unsettled so many. As a culture, we are more keenly aware that nothing is certain in life and that so much of our lives are outside of our control, and for many this is a terrifying revelation.
Now, as we begin to slowly climb out of the COVID mess, we are confronted with the ugliness of sin and war. The devastation and violence and darkness of sin can be greatly disturbing. Over the last week as I’ve been pondering all that has transpired in our world over the last two years, a passage in 2 Peter caught my eye.
by Lauren Watt
Editor's Note: I am so excited to have a new guest post by my dear friend, Lauren Watt. Lauren is a wonderful sister in Christ who has joyfully navigating some very difficult health challenges with grace and perseverance. Each day is a struggle that she keeps fighting through; however, she has beautifully trusted God throughout the process and her faith has been made stronger because of it. Therefore, I am honored and privileged to share a guest post she wrote for us on choosing joy in the midst of hardships. I hope you're blessed and encouraged.
I'm an artist.
When I took my first lesson in oil painting nearly a decade ago, my instructor told me that once I started painting I'd never look at anything the same way. And she was right.
When I look at the woods surrounding my family's home, I pay careful attention to the shadows on the trees. When I look at the colors of the sky, I am more aware of the gradation of dark to light blue. I even notice things like how light catches on dew drops in the grass.
I am aware of many little details that I overlooked before I began painting. The world has always felt like a more beautiful place since I first picked up my brush. However, none of my surroundings changed, only my perspective did.
Dear Faithful Reader,
I know that the blog has been strangely silent for many weeks. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten the blog or forgotten you! Life has many seasons and some prove to be more all-consuming than others. But God’s faithfulness, goodness, and love remains the same, and the encouragement and life-giving spiritual food we need is always readily available in His Word. So I hope and pray that even though I haven’t been sending out my regular devotional thoughts and words of encouragement you are still being encouraged and blessed through time in God’s Word.
We’ve come to the close of another year, completed another 356-day journey around the sun, and marched our way onto a new calendar. While the actual day marker of a new year is rather arbitrary since we are constantly in motion and heading towards the future each moment, as a society, we have collectively made January 1st a special day and time to celebrate. It has become a day to remember, reflect on, and learn from the past year and a moment to re-envision, reimagine, and make plans for the new one.
Sitting in the pre-dawn stillness of Christmas morning is both peaceful and relaxing. It gives time to pause and reflect on the true reason and meaning of Christmas. Time to ponder and savor the truths that shine brightest at Christmas.
Jesus came to earth as a helpless baby so that we might intimately know and receive a Savior. Divinity joined humanity. Creator became like His creation.
Christmas has become such a festive holiday. Lights, parties, cheery decorations, and upbeat music are all part of the American Christmas tradition. It is a season to be merry, a time to rejoice, and a month where good well, gift giving, and happiness seems to abound.
But what if you’re not feeling the Christmas spirit this year? What if your season is tinged by darkness? What if your celebration is overshadowed by grief or loss? What if you feel alone this season and the merriment and happiness of this time can’t seem to touch your soul?
Thanksgiving has come around yet again. It’s the season and week we as a culture have set aside to intentionally give thanks and celebrate the blessings we have received. While Thanksgiving can conjure unpleasant memories or expectations of family drama or reinforce the sorrow of losing a loved one, the intent and purpose of this celebration is to give thanks. It’s a time where we can stop our fast-paced lives and take a moment to reflect and be grateful for all that God has given us.
Today is a day to celebrate mothers. While not everyone gets to enjoy healthy relationships in families, we all came into the world through women. Moms who were not perfect but did give us one priceless treasure: life.
Happy Easter Sunday! Christ is risen; He is risen indeed! This is cause for great rejoicing among the saints. The grave is empty. Death has been defeated. Jesus Christ has won
For over two millennia, Christians around the world and from all walks of life have taken time to remember and reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice on this day—Good Friday. While Resurrection Sunday celebrates the ultimate victory and new life with the empty tomb and vacant cross, Good Friday comes first. This day can only be called good because through it our redemption was bought; however, for those present on that day it was far from good.
Today marks the start of Passion Week. A point on the calendar when Christians over the past couple millennia take time to remember and reflect on the final week of Jesus before His crucifixion. A lot took place in this monumental week, which was the pinnacle of Jesus’ three-year earthly ministry. From Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday, history was forever changed. In the course of one seven-day period, Jesus went from being the people’s favorite to their worst criminal to exalted, risen Son of God. Therefore, let us take some time this week to meditate, study, and remember the journey Jesus took to purchase our redemption—the sacrifices He made, the pain He suffered, and the glory He received when He conquered death.
The week began with a great start. The crowds loved Jesus. They followed Him faithfully and on that sunny day that has since become known as Palm Sunday, they seized the opportunity to tell the world exactly what they thought of Jesus.
Welcome to a new year! Christmas has passed and 2020 is behind us. Now, as we step forward into the future and possibilities of 2021, let us ground ourselves in God’s Word. As life slows back down after the excitement of the holidays, may we not forget to re-immerse ourselves in the truth of God’s Word. Therefore, as we start this new month and new year, I will be starting a new Bible study.
Happy New Year! Twenty-twenty is officially in the review mirror. The calendar has restarted. The page has been turned. Twenty-twenty-one has begun!
However, before we can archive 2020 and leave it to history, we must take some time to reflect and ponder what we have learned. For some of us, 2020 has been a year of building, growth, new horizons, wonderful opportunities, and great blessing. We have seen God work in powerful ways as He opened door after door and broadened our borders.
Christmas is over. The presents have been opened. The wrapping paper cleaned up and the gifts put away. The feast has been consumed and most of the goodies have disappeared. While Christmas is an amazing, awe-filled celebration and time of memory making and remembering, the post-Christmas season can be a bit of a letdown. After all the planning, anticipation, and eager expectation, post-Christmas can feel mundane, anti-climactic, and disappointing. While New Year’s is right around the corner, it does not carry the same joy, celebration, excitement, and magical moments that Christmas does.
The long awaited day is here. Christmas morning. A special time of celebration, reflection, and love. Gifts are exchanged and joy shared. Family is appreciated and celebrated, and memories are made. However, in the midst of the wrapping paper, delicious food, fun games, and family jokes, let’s not forget whose birthday we’re celebrating.
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