Just moments ago I folded up an eight-page letter that my grandparents wrote to me almost 25 years ago. I found it when I was going through my parents’ basement. I was helping them prepare to move, so we opened dozens of boxes that had been tucked away for years. As we opened each box and unwrapped the contents, it felt like Christmas discovering old toys, out-grown dresses and dusty photo albums. I was a little sad as we separated out many things to give away, but it was also a precious time of reliving special memories.
As Easter draws closer, it’s important to remember what it’s really about—remembering.
You’re heard of The Last Supper, right? It was the last dinner Jesus shared with His disciples before His death and resurrection. You’ve also probably heard of Passover. But did you know that they are related? Did you know that the Last Supper and Passover are memorials?
Just like my grandparents’ letter helps me to remember them, and just like the boxes in my parents’ basement bring special memories to mind, these two meals were given by God to help us remember.
The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for almost 400 years. After a series of plagues designed to force Pharaoh to free His people, God sent one final punishment. In order to separate out His people, to mark them and keep them safe as those who believed in the One True God, the Israelites killed a lamb and painted their door frames with its blood. Then, they ate their final meal in Egypt quietly inside their homes. That meal consisted of the lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs. That final meal became a feast that the Israelites celebrated every year called The Passover.
Exodus 12:25b-27 says, “When you enter the land the LORD has promised to give you, you will continue to observe [Passover]. Then your children will ask, ‘What does this ceremony mean?’ And you will reply, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt. And though he struck the Egyptians, he spared our families.’”
Centuries later, in a quiet, upstairs room, Jesus and his disciples sat down to eat the Passover meal together and remember how God freed the Israelites. But, as Jesus broke the bread and poured the wine, He told the disciples something new:
“…and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’”
(1 Corinthians 11:24-25)
Jesus still wanted the Passover to help them remember, but now He wanted them, and us, to remember something different. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He became our Passover Lamb. Because He died, God now “passes over” us; He forgives us and we don’t have to pay for our sins. Those who do not believe in Jesus, just like the Egyptians did not believe in The One True God, will not be passed over and they will face punishment for their sins.
This Easter, when you sit down to a special meal, stop for just a minute. Bow your head and remember what Jesus did for you, for me and for everyone who believes in Him.
Given the nature of Predatory Lies, and heading into the New Year, it seems fitting to analyze the past year’s messages about our bodies. Prepare to be challenged, incensed and finally relieved and encouraged!
When we determine our heroes by their sex appeal…Don’t let someone with bad brows tell you about life
Finally, this one will bolster your heart and send you into the New Year with wind beneath your wings. The ever-profound and dearly loved: Ann Voskamp
It’s the holidays, brutal times for any family plagued by an eating disorder. This book will be an encouraging and enlightening read for anyone seeking understanding of this disorder and light at the end of the tunnel.
Click through to view it on Amazon. Below are a number of other ebook formats where you can purchase it.
Just before Thanksgiving, I signed on board with my SheLoves sisters to participate in Advent Acts of Kindness. We are each taking a day of this Advent season to share how God led us to practice kindness specifically and intentionally.
And as I told you yesterday, no one needs to tell us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I think I figured that out the first time I spent my own allowance on Christmas gifts for my sisters. The anticipation of giving is the best part. Once I’ve selected the perfect gift, it’s all I can think about until finally, I cave beneath the mounting pressure of a secret and unveil the spectacular surprise, long before I’ve wrapped it and sometimes even before the tree is decorated. So when Julie Fisk wrote the post encouraging us to, “Celebrate Advent in a way that serves Christ and others in a tangible, physical way,” true to form, I couldn’t wait until the designated time.
What follows is a slight expansion of what I shared with you yesterday; continued musings on the proper order of thanks and giving:
Believe it or not, fun as it may appear from one side of the counter, barista is often a thankless job. This year, I discovered that my go-to Starbucks, my home away from home, my third place, my pick-me-up, my happy spot, my daily dive, was going to be open on Thanksgiving Day and all…night…long. So my puppy, Brave, (who benefits from most every visit there, as well) packed an oversized, red and green gift bag.
We loaded it down with hand lotion, peppermint gum, granola bars and odds and ends and dropped it off Thanksgiving evening just as the Black Friday crowds encroached upon the covered portico.
Giving is contagious, in a better way than the stomach flu. Recipients are often supernaturally compelled to bestow blessings on the next person they meet, or to turn and heap graciousness right back on the lap of the giver.
And so it happened here. I haven’t been allowed to pay for my coffee once since Thanksgiving. So, the war is on. Last week, as I pulled up into the parking lot after a brisk dog trot along the river walk, I noticed, for what seemed like the first time, Chick-fil-a, only a stone’s throw from the Starbuck’s drive thru.
I’ve worked in food service before. In spite of being surrounded by sticky buns, soft pretzels, yummy wraps and cake pops, I’m pretty sure that my barista-friends seek any other option for their lunch break. I hustled into Chick-fil-a, postponing my coffee fix. Moments later, I stood at the coffee counter ordering my decaf-quad-grade-no-room Americano. When Ryan smiled at me and waved me past the register at no charge, I placed a Chick-fil-a gift card in his hand.
But there are other things I’m learning this season, things beyond thankful smiles and the warm-fuzzies of knowing I lifted another’s spirit. My mind keeps blinking like a crazed strand of Christmas lights. That’s because this giving thing feels so good – energizing in fact. But it’s got me thinking too, why don’t I do this more often?
Where does intentionality go most months of the year?
Why am I missing out on this feeling of explosive joy so much of the time?
Another thought that keeps sputtering in my subconscious: I am so painfully selfish.
If you could shine a flash light into the corners and cobwebs of my mind, I’d be squeamish. It’s the little things.
Things like only being intentional about kindness during Advent.
The amount of mental energy wasted on deciding if I should buy a new pair of pants, and then if I need new boots to go with them.
Then returning them because I feel guilty and feeling self-conscious next to the woman wearing super cute boots at church.
Searching for the least expensive version of the toys I promised for the toy drive at my church. Not wanting to send out Christmas cards because of the time and energy it requires.
The fact that it’s so easy to buy something tiny for myself when I’m out shopping for gifts for others.
These thoughts are blinking off and on. They’re real, they are conviction, concern and curiosity. And I’m not completely sure what to do with them yet. But I know the crux of this is my obsession with myself. Oh how I want to be so other-minded, so Christ-consumed that I see myself only as the shadow cast by the reflection of my Father’s joy and His children’s blessing.
On Wednesday we talked about holidays perspectives. I also told you early this month about my commitment to join the Advent Acts of Kindness.
I got an early start on this simply because Thanksgiving opened itself wide 0pen to me as we didn’t travel, visit or have company this year. Truthfully, it was one of the most fun Thanksgivings I’ve ever had.
Brave and I went up to The Medical Center to visit with patients on Thanksgiving afternoon. Honestly, the staff had made a concerted effort to discharge as many patients as possible before the special day. But when we got to the 7th floor, one of our favorite ladies was still patiently enduring the drip, drip, drip of an 80-hour chemo treatment.
Funny, I don’t even know her name, but it was the third time we’d seen her. Somehow, the formality of introductions never comes up, so quickly do we always launch into light hearted conversation. This time, she knew we were coming, because I’d promised her on Tuesday afternoon. Her father was sitting with her. As soon as we breached the doorway, she burst with happy tidings.
“Guess what, Brave,” she announced. “Papa brought you treats!”
Sure enough, the gentleman stretched, shook my hand and handed his daughter a plastic baggie full of dog biscuits. We stood and talked to them for nearly half an hour.
Brave and I enjoyed our visit so much and I dearly hope we brightened their holiday afternoon. But I was stymied by the joy and peace that emanated from that dreary hospital room even before we arrived. Obviously, this precious woman did not require much to experience gratitude.
Oh Father, let me know the impenetrable gratitude of a rescued heart. Let me overflow with thanksgiving despite all circumstances. Father, this Advent season, let my thankfulness begin with awe and appreciation for my Savior.
When we left the hospital, Brave and I broke one of our holiday “codes”. We did go shopping – just briefly. While he waited in the car, I darted into Walgreens and stuffed a red gift bag with candy, granola bars, cookies, hand lotion and peppermint gum. On the drive home we stopped at our favorite Starbucks and delivered the goodies to the most energetic and kind baristas we know.
When I was growing up, they told me, “It’s better to give than to receive”. Perhaps Thanksgiving is the perfect evidence of that. Watching gratitude blossom in a sick, tired or stranger’s face is the most exquisite feeling I have ever had.
When you lay your personal goals along side the holidays, what comes to mind? A lot of the chatter we hear is people bemoaning inevitable weight gain and plotting their New Year’s resolutions to undo all the over-doing.
Or, are you thinking about your personal goals for learning to enjoy the small things, indulge in relationships and overflow with gratitude for delicious food and generous friends and family?
I’ve collected a few links from around the worldwide web, interesting perspectives on the holidays. Enjoy!
“What are you going to do to burn off those Thanksgiving calories?” ‘health-related’ Facebook pages ask.
How about enjoy time with your family and don’t beat yourself up? Don’t see exercise as punishment for or salvation from eating delicious food. Go on with your normal workout routine because it makes you feel good. And eat healthy food next week because it nourishes your body and mind.” Rachel Mac
Not surprisingly, Kirstie Alley’s holiday perspective is completely centered around how to maintain an enviable figure. Is this really all we want to think about?
1. Move, move, move 2. Relish each mouthful and 3 more…
Obviously, food makes an easy gift. But I still wonder, as one recovering from an eating disorder and a ridiculous obsession with food, is there a way to move away from that? Do you give a lot of food gifts at Christmas? It’s a delicate balance for me, learn to celebrate food and also learn not to focus on it.
Are you tired of giving the same old holiday gifts – candy, cookies, stupid stocking stuffers? Me too! I would like my gifts to be meaningful, not too expensive, but promote health and vitality.
Well, here are a few of my favorite things… (I couldn’t resist!) ~Fresh Food Perspectives
A selfless perspective on the holidays:
I hope you’ll join me! For once let’s not just talk about decommercializing Christmas, and perhaps not even fight the hype. Instead, this project feels a little like turning the other cheek, to me. We’re not ranting about Santa, stores and stinginess. We’re not resolving, rejecting or reframing.
We are simply sharing the overflowing Love and Joy of Christ this Christmas, multiplying our giving, highlighting His generosity and loving others as He loves us.
P.S. I know you hardcore “No Christmas ’till after Thanksgiving” folks are wagging your finger at me. Believe, I’ve been you (still am to a degree). But this project requires just a tiny bit of planning, so I figured I’d give you a head start. Also, perhaps we wouldn’t get so bent out of shape about Christmas overshadowing Thanksgiving if we behaved as we believe: Jesus didn’t just come once to a stable, but that He lives here and NOW in our hearts.
Again, Merry Christmas!
One of the most contentious issues around Christmas is money. It’s not uncommon to hear people talk about digging themselves out of holiday debt come January. Retailers revel over the black in their checkbooks, while consumers cry over their bleeding bottom line.
For many Christians, the concept of debt is a touchy one. There are the pious few who shun credit cards, and a majority who long for the day when they can pay off all their plastic.
Recently, I heard a financial adviser speak on debt-proofing Christmas. She had tons of wonderful ideas for keeping Christmas traditions while eliminating or minimizing the cost. Wonderful ideas, good ideas, useful ideas.
However, following that interview, I got into a discussion on marital finances with my sisters. That prompted me to re-examine my perspective on money, debt, borrowers and lenders. What exactly does the Bible say?
Once when I was young, my dad loaned me money to purchase a bike. The plan was for me to earn my allowance and other funds to slowly pay off my debt. Truthfully, I don’t recall how many nights passed, but I couldn’t sleep. I lay awake thinking about how sinful, terrible and scary it was to owe someone something. One night, I climbed out bed, ran to my dad and begged him to let me take the money out of my savings account so that I could be free of this terrible debt.
Therein, I think, lies one of the Biblical cautions against debt. It invokes fear. There’s a feeling of inferiority to the person who holds the debt. That emotion, in and of itself is not Biblical. As children of God, we are not beneath or subservient to anyone. Neither should our lifestyle reflect that we are.
The problem with debt is that from either side, it is completely contrary to our personhood in Christ. We are called to be like our Father. Our God is beneath no one, in need of nothing and under no fear or condemnation. Neither are we. To live in a lifestyle of borrowing and owing is not to look like our Father.
In the relationship between a borrower and lender, Proverbs tell us the borrower is servant to the lender. (Proverbs 22:7) Consider these two roles. Both encourage an attitude that is un-Christ-like. The lien holder has the tendency to feel superior and to lord his influence and power over the borrower. The borrower is beholden, and legally bound to his benefactor.
Throughout the Old Testament, God laid out parameters for borrowing and lending. If to do either was sinful, God would not have explained how to do so honorably. God tells the Israelites to lend freely but never to be in debt to another nation. I believe God does this for the sake of His own name.
“The LORD will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.” (Duet. 28:12)
“And I prayed to the LORD, ‘O Lord GOD, do not destroy your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness or their sin,lest the land from which you brought us say, “Because the LORD was not able to bring them into the land that he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to put them to death in the wilderness.” (Duet 9:26-28)
For the glory of His own name, God protected and provided for His people. He does the same today. Essentially, borrowing displays a lack of trust in God’s faithful provision.
A final criteria for Christians to consider regarding debt, is motive. More often that not, debt is acquired by greed. There is an insatiable longing for something that God has not previously provided, so in self-sufficiency we run to our own means for satisfaction.
Finally, in the New Testament, Paul instructs his listeners to own no man anything but a debt of love. Think of how you feel when you owe someone money. It is usually a pressure, a frustration, a burden. However, when love has been given, to return it ten fold is a joy, a pleasure!
God longs for His people to reflect His nature. God longs for His people to trust his sufficiency. And God longs for His people to experience the joy of effusively giving love.
Can we apply this to our checkbooks?