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Jesus_Back_on_The_Cross

This Easter weekend, I’d like to introduce you to someone I’m most fond of. He may be the most misunderstood man who ever lived. But I love him for it, because he’s probably the only man who didn’t care one bit about any of that. And because he didn’t care about what others thought of him, he was unswerving in his life’s purpose.

He didn’t get in the way, like some religious people of his time, and block others from seeing God. He showed up in unlikely places—often with the unpopular—and pointed people to his father. Instead of harsh judgement and criticism, he honoured everyone: men, women, and children, and reached out to those on the outskirts of society who would have appeared unholy, unworthy, and labelled sinners by the “religious”. He showed great compassion and said they were the ones he came to call (see Luke 5:32). He offered healing, grace, love, hope, and peace to anyone who would listen and even offered his very life. He gave all, for all, until his last breath.

He was the most unselfish person the world has ever known. His life was lived for his father’s purposes for the sake of others. Every place he stepped, every action he took, every word he spoke was for another’s benefit. His mission was clear: to show God’s love in a myriad of ways so all could see, hear, and understand his father’s great mercy and love.

The beauty of his unfathomable life is that none of it was typical—nothing you’d expect of a king. That was part of the problem. People found his humanness and humility unfitting. It was difficult to take him seriously and hard to accept that he wouldn’t fit their preconceived idea of God. Those who had spent their whole lives waiting for him, missed him. Those who should have known better, crucified him.

This is how one man explained him:

“He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.”  ~ Isaiah 53:3

In the end, even his closest friends scattered. He died utterly alone, and it appeared his thirty-three years on the earth had amounted to nothing. But I adore the way looks are deceiving, and more than that, how his heart-wrenching obedience changed everything. Because he suffered the most horrific death known to humankind, I was offered a second crack at life—a chance to surrender the life I deemed so dear for a new one with him.

He once said: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30

And there it is, with him I live freely and lightly; the heaviness of all the things I wasn’t meant to carry handed over. My burdens lifted, my sins wiped out, and my mind renewed. All the former things fade in importance for the friendship found in him. And as the load is lifted, love fills the deadened creases of my life. This same love brings with it a breath of freedom and joy, and peace that ignites hope. You can’t describe his beauty. It’s something to behold.

He moves into our tired lives when we let go. But it’s not easy—the letting go. You see it at the cross, this refusal to release. Some hanging on tightly to their position or praise, others hanging on to disbelief, and others to the material things of this world, grasping at anything that seems too precious to leave behind. Because what is known feels safer than launching into the unknown, even if the known is mediocre at best. But all the praise, position, money, best behaviour, or good deeds count for nothing if I reject him.

His radical, life-altering offer is extended to all. No one left behind. No matter where you come from or what you’ve done, you aren’t excluded. His forgiveness is a free, unearned gift, and when you receive it—believe in and trust him—you’re renewed for today and preserved for eternity.

You’re beautifully and unconditionally accepted and adored by the creator of the universe, all because one Easter, over two thousand years ago, Jesus died for you.

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God loves you. There isn’t a thing you can do, or not do, to earn his love. With a simple prayer, you can receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life, and step into tomorrow with him.

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spring flowers

Life is full of disappointments, hurts and hardship. When our lives don’t unfold as planned, it’s easy to become discouraged. Below are a few thoughts to encourage you to not give up, to keep going, to persevere through whatever you are facing today.

I pray…

That you would always keep your joy and wonder.

That you would continue to dream big.

That you wouldn’t allow others to dilute your dreams,

Or let obstacles or disappointments crowd out those dreams—

Even when you must scale the mountain or take the long route around.

If some scoff at your goals—say it’s a long shot or that it can’t be done—smile, disregard their lack of faith, and keep going.

Someone needs to persevere. It may as well be you.

Nothing worthwhile comes without dogged effort. No effort is wasted.

Fight fear with faith.

Be brave; bring courage with you wherever you go.

Keep trying hard things.

If you fail, you’ve learned something priceless.

Love.

Be patient and kind to yourself and others.

Forgive quickly so you remain free.

Choose to remain positive—

Don’t allow the negative voices or treatment of others to detract from what you know to be true and good and right.

When hurt, embrace the hard work of healing.

Avoid comparison.

Use your unique skills, knowledge, intellect, voice, talents, and resources to help those around you, to influence and change the world for good, and to glorify God.

Keep your sense of humour. Don’t take yourself too seriously, but be serious about your intentions and integrity.

Remember life is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. Not everything will happen instantly.

Keep your eyes on the finish line, but enjoy the scenery on route—

Life is composed of all the moments made while you move forwards and reach your goals. Don’t miss or mistake these moments that matter for distractions;

The main event is never really the main event; it’s all the bits between.

Be thankful for everything. Even the hardships—they make you beautiful, strong, and mature.

God is your help and is cheering you on.

He has a plan.

Trust Him in everything.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

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  1. What discouragements are you struggling with today?
  2. Bring them to God, hand them over to him in prayer, and find his comfort, help, and peace in your time of need.

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Are you feeling a little stuck? Maybe your situation hasn’t shifted for so long you fear there’s a chance it never will. Well then, this might be just what you need to hear today…

You are not stuck. Though you may feel that way just now, don’t let feelings dictate truth. The truth is, God is on your side. You were made in his image and are full of passion, zeal, and creativity. You have this day ahead of you—a chance to change one thing. And one thing altered day after day adds up to a multitude. Start with your attitude.

You are not stuck. No need to waste your time wishing for what isn’t, or encumbered with the past. Instead—as the true fighter and go-getter that you are—take that fiery passion, refuse to be extinguished, and fan it into flame. Keep moving toward those big, audacious dreams. It’s not too late. As long as you have breath, it’s never too late.

You are not stuck. There is still time to try. If the door closes, that is some type of answer, but need not diminish your desire or take away from how God put you together. You may need to make course corrections, but those curves move you closer to where you are meant to be. Besides, you aren’t one to accept mediocrity or settle for just okay. You have lofty goals and prefer to keep moving toward them.

You are not stuck. There will be periods of waiting, times where you may need to learn something or have to try again. There will be hardship and heartache, but even then, you are not stuck. People get stuck in their own mind. They get stuck when they forget to be thankful, or when they pile self-made mountains before them, believe lies, maintain perpetual pity-parties, grow cynical, or forget to be hopeful. But that’s not you.

You are not stuck. It’s true that life will never turn out how you expect. You need to overcome that disappointment right now. How you live is a choice. The pauses, the waiting, the pain, the no’s all build character and prepare you for the yes’s. They make you a rich, compassionate person able to understand and grow and help others in need. Take this seemingly stuck time and use it as a springboard to launch you toward what is ahead. Live in hope instead.

You are not stuck. Things may not have worked out the way you expected, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t turning out. Disappointments and hurts are hard, sad, and sometimes brutal, and it’s natural to feel stuck—for a time. Be kind to yourself. Remember that nothing stays the same forever. You will heal, grow and overcome this hurdle. And you will become even stronger as a result.

You are not stuck. Even if your boots are several inches in the mud and won’t budge, there are always options. Pull your feet out, leave the boots behind and trudge barefoot. You may get dirty, you may need a hand, and it may take a pile of extra effort, but you’re only stuck if you choose to remain in the same place without moving forward. You can take the next step. And another after that.

You are not stuck. Refuse to get stuck in your head with small thinking. Because what you think, what you believe, dictates how you behave. You are braver than you think. You have something to offer this world no one else has. You are a dynamic force to be reckoned with and were not meant to sit back and let things happen. With that boldness, that uniqueness, you can influence change. Keep going. Keep moving forward.

You are not stuck, unless you chose to believe you are. There are things for you to do, that only you can do, in the way you do them. Keep going!

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

~ Isaiah 41:10

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

~ Romans 8:37

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

~2 Corinthians 10:5

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  1. In what ways do you feel stuck?
  2. Pray first. Then, as much as depends on you, and with God’s help, make necessary changes.

 

There are so many beautiful things in this life, each day bursting with beauty just waiting to be noticed and celebrated, all miraculous in their own way.

But sometimes I’ve missed the beauty—the holy moments—consumed by my own preoccupations. Sometimes I’ve failed to recognise that these simple moments strung together comprise my life—not a bit of which I prefer to miss. Beautiful things like a stranger’s smile, a tiny, chubby-handed wave, that first sip of morning coffee, the belly laugh of a child, and the birds’ chorus lifting in the air.

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So here’s my reflection of some other beautiful things I’m thankful for today:

latte art tirelessly created by the barista who smiles though the job has its not-so-nice bits

humans who are willing to give time, talent and resources to help others

the spectacular sun on my shoulders that gives life and warmth to our planet

my visionary husband, best-friend and biggest cheerleader, who I get to walk life alongside

my children, the great loves of my life, who have brought me untold joy and laughter and whose various talents I have the joy of celebrating

dear friends who crowd around to support and love me and who I get to love and encourage in return

the “prayer ladies” who have bolstered my faith and enriched my life

words to string together to create something from nothing

colours to mix and swirl together on a canvas

a quiet moment to reflect, chose thankfulness and make course corrections

beautiful books that challenge and change the world

flowers and plants to care for that add colour and texture my life’s canvas

the canopy of trees to offer comforting shade and life-giving oxygen

a body to move me to the places I’m meant to tread

arms to draw in another soul reminding them they are cherished

my next breath to inhale, providing another chance to live well

eyes to see all this terrific beauty

Christ’s love and sacrifice that changed everything.

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

~ Colossians 3:15-17 (The Message)
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What are some beautiful things you’re thankful for? I love to hear them!

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