Suffering. It’s all around us. You see it on the faces of people you pass at the grocery store, see it in the stories posted on the news and social media, and see the pain it causes in the lives of those you know and love. We live in a broken world, but it can be hard to make sense of all the pain and suffering we see and experience. How can a good, loving Father allow us to go through hard times? As born-again believers, shouldn’t we be free from the ravages of a sinful world? If God is truly sovereign, why does He allow us to walk through suffering?
Reflection. Prayer. Repentance. Intercession. That’s what today is all about. It’s a day for the Church of Jesus Christ to gather and fill heaven with prayer and intercession. It’s a day of intentionality, as we make a point of coming before the Lord on behalf of our country. It’s a day of meditation, as we ponder and repent for the sins of our nation. It’s a day of action, as we humble ourselves and seek God’s face. Today is the National Day of Prayer in America.
Today is Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. It marks the beginning of Passion Week and all that is remembered and celebrated. However, let’s go back in time to the first Palm Sunday and remember what actually happened on that memorable day in Jerusalem.
“Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.’ This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”’ The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’”
~Matthew 21: 1a, 6-9
As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been doing a lot of inner reflection and prayerful pondering since 2019 began. Last year brought a lot of change in the lives of people around me and great spiritual growth in my own life. God has revealed and confirmed a spiritual gift in my life and grown in me a greater heart for ministry. But overall, I have to say that the biggest thing the Lord has given me this past year is a greater burden for people.
I’m a full time private music instructor. It’s my job to teach students the inner complexities of music and how to translate what’s written on a page to how to play it on an instrument. I teach students of all ages, but right now, I have quite a few little guys—ages 5-6. And while these youngsters can be a challenge, it is so rewarding to see the proverbial light bulb come on and watch them master each new lesson. Recently, as I was telling my family some of the funny things these little guys have said—I have quite a few stories!—God hit me with something big.
Children trust utterly, absolutely, and entirely. They don’t doubt what you tell them, but in fact, are willing to somewhat blindly trust you.
The Year of our Lord 2017 is now officially over. The New Year has begun. And while nothing feels different—the air is still chilly and life is still the same—it is the beginning of a new chapter in life. But before we look forward, let’s take a moment and look back over the past year.
Over on my Google Plus page* I’ve been sharing a few A.W. Tozer quotes which have encouraged and challenged me as I’ve been reading through Warren Wiersbe’s compilation titled “The Best of A.W. Tozer (Book One)”. One of the quotes I shared last week reads as follows:
“When God’s sheep are in danger, the shepherd must not gaze at the stars and meditate on ‘inspirational’ themes. He is morally obliged to grab his weapon and run to their defense. When the circumstances call for it, love can use the sword, though by her nature she would rather bind up the broken hearted and minister to the wounded. It is time for the prophet and seer to make themselves heard and felt again. For the last three decades timidity disguised as humility has crouched in her corner while the spiritual quality of the evangelical Christianity has become progressively worse year by year. How long, O Lord, how long?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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