Easter is for Remembering

communion-1-941675-mHow do you remember something? Do you tie a string around your finger? Make a note? Write it on your bathroom mirror or say it out loud to yourself over and over?

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.

 

Final Thoughts on a Final Recovery, and Wednesday’s Promise

(The following post is a summation of the 3 Things to Make Recovery Final series and includes the promise I made last Wednesday to tell you one really special way that God reveals Himself to us.)
Just a couple more thoughts, I think sometimes our “Christian” life and struggle to manufacture faith gets in the way of really having faith. A lot of times during recovery I thought, “If I just believed God enough. Why is it so hard to trust Him?”
The other day I was enamored by one of Steven Furtick’s sermons in the Crash the Chatterbox series. He referenced Moses at the burning bush. Furtick pointed out that in all his arguments with God and reasoning as to why he shouldn’t be the one to deliver Israel, Moses never once doubted God’s ability.
God showed him several miracles and Moses knew what God was capable of doing. Instead, he argued from a place of insecurity, basically saying over and over again, “You don’t really want to use me to do this God. You’re awesome and all, but I’m not smart enough, I’m not a good speaker, I don’t have many friends left in Egypt, no one will believe me…”.
God didn’t set Moses straight by fixing Moses, or suddenly, magically filling him with faith. Instead, God simply told Moses who HE was. He said, I AM.
Every time Moses said, “I am not…”, God’s effectual response was, “I AM…”. This gets really awesome when we get to the New Testament and realize how many times God says that He has give us His name. Because we bear His name, all of our arguments about failures, small faith and insufficiencies are answered in our new name, “I AM.”
(2 Chron. 7:14, Is. 43:7, 2 Peter 1:4, John 17:11-12)
The answer to stronger faith isn’t to grit our teeth and try to force it. It isn’t to work harder or do more. It is simply watching Jesus, seeing I AM.  (A few verses and commentary on this: www.abible.com.)
This is why Paul White’s sermons hit me so hard and sunk in so deeply.
I had tried for SO LONG to conjure up this faith that should have made me a “good Christian girl”, impervious to stupid struggles and battles and fears and anxiety. I was exhausted because I couldn’t come up with faith or make believing in Jesus “work for me”. But that’s the point. When we understand that “faith is substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen” we can start walking in faith without holding out for “proof” that this works.
You’ve heard it said, “To know Jesus is to love Him.” (Maybe that was said about something else, but it has never been more true than about Christ). We cannot make ourselves love Him or believe Him. But the more we KNOW Him the more irresistible He becomes, the better we understand His voice and freer we walk day by day.
Hangeth Thou in There 🙂
#3thingstomakerecoveryfinal

BUZZ word!! “Religion”

Bear with me, one more conversation with C.S. Lewis. (I never tire of this man.)

Recently, I wrote a brief word study on “religion” for Swagga4Christ Ministries. Wouldn’t you know, the very next day in my C.S. Lewis Daily devotional from Bible Gateway, the sage himself wrote on the topic. So I thought I’d share our perspectives. It’s a hot, controversial topic. I’d love for you to add your voice!

My words:

Bound by Freedom

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13

No one really knows where it came from. The word “religion” is kind of mysterious. For hundreds of years, scholars have debated its origin.
One opinion I stumbled upon bothered me at first. Modern scholars think it might have been derived from the Latin word ligo, meaning “bind or connect”.
I got hung up on the word “bind”. Many people today view religion that way. They feel that it binds them, constrains them to a certain list of rules. But Galatians 5:1 says that Christ set us free, so our faith must have nothing to do with being bound. However, there is a different kind of binding, of connecting. Colossians 3:14 says, “Most of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony.” The Christian faith is not merely a religion. Jesus came to bring us freedom from the law—a long list of do’s and dont’s. But it is also the love of Christ that creates harmony among believers. We must be diligent as we enjoy our freedom in Christ that we work for unity among our Christian brothers and sisters.

C.S. Lewis:

I remember once when I had been giving a talk to the R.A.F., an old, hard-bitten officer got up and said, ‘I’ve no use for all that stuff. But, mind you, I’m a religious man too. I know there’s a God. I’ve felt Him: out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that’s just why I don’t believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone who’s met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!’
Now in a sense I quite agreed with that man. I think he had probably had a real experience of God in the desert. And when he turned from that experience to the Christian creeds, I think he really was turning from something real to something less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper. But here comes the point. The map is admittedly only coloured paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a single glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.
From Mere Christianity
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis

What do you think?
Is religion the same as faith in Christ?
Do you need Jesus to get to Heaven?
How do you experience Christ?

Sacred Sustenance

Ah, I need more time to talk to you! I’ve tuned my ears on this journey of walking and hearing voices  such that I’m finding so many things to share with you. And the truth is, I’m gleaning so much wisdom from the sages I’ve chosen to “walk” with that there’s scarce enough time to fit a word in edgewise. So then, without further ado, listen to C.S. Lewis’ words:

By the bye, what are your views, now, on the question of sacraments? To me that is the most puzzling side of the whole thing. I need hardly say I feel none of the materialistic difficulties: but I feel strongly just the opposite ones—i.e., I see (or think I see) so well a sense in which all wine is the blood of God—or all matter, even, the body of God, that I stumble at the apparently special sense in which this is claimed for the Host when consecrated. George Macdonald observes that the good man should aim at reaching the state of mind in which all meals are sacraments. Now that is the sort of thing I can understand: but I find no connection between it and the explicit “sacrament” proprement dit [“properly so called”]. The Presbyterian method of sitting at tables munching actual slices of bread is clearly absurd under ordinary conditions: but one can conceive a state of society in which a real meal might be shared by a congregation in such a way as to be a sacrament without ceasing to be also their actual dinner for that day. Possibly this was so in the very early Church.
From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II
Compiled in Words to Live By

Maybe this doesn’t affect anyone as it does me. But as a former anorexic, the concept of all meals, taken in gratitude, being sacred arrests me. Food, that so-long-enemy, as a means to honor and embrace the Savior…

Letter to a Friend

Recently, a new friend admitted to me that she has struggled with an eating disorder for many years. As we shared pieces of our stories, she asked a question that launched a mini-sermon in me. Don’t worry, I’m preaching to myself really! But as I clicked “send”, I realized just how much of my response encapsulated all that I’m learning about my eating disorder and recovery in the process of prayer and writing.

I want to share my letter with you.

Dear Friend, 

You asked about the “why”. Funny, I have thought about that a lot lately as I penned my book and prayed and relived all those years of my own eating disorder. And yes, I’ve come to a conclusion. 

 
The treatment community spends an exorbitant amount of time trying to unearth our issues, figure out what made this happen. We say that we aren’t “blaming” anyone, but that family dynamics, abuse and a plethora of other things must have all combined to make this happen. Exactly as you said though, “Why not everyone?”
 
My sisters grew up in the same household and under the same parents that I did, in the same communities. Personally, I don’t have a history of abuse to blame my issues on. I have a fairly perfectionistic father (toward himself more than toward anyone else) and at time I believed he loved my sister, Jennifer, more than me. And, Jennifer was incredibly talented and smart so I was jealous of her for years. But really? I don’t have a good reason. 
 
The more that I’ve prayed about it, I think the common treatment modality, “figure out the root and fix the underlying issues”, does us a huge disservice. I have really, really come to believe that my anorexia was nothing more than addiction and idolatry on my part. No, I’m not blaming myself either. I don’t believe there’s a “why” to be found or blame to be placed, at least not in all situations. 
 
It’s really no different than any other sin. It’s the way you and I chose to react to the circumstances and catalysts within a fallen world. Because we believe in Jesus as our Savior, our sin does not banish us from God or cause Him to hate us. So, I’m not saying that as we struggle with an eating disorder God is upset with us. Quite the contrary – and this where I get so excited!! – The pain of living in my sin, the pain of struggling with body image constantly, or starving myself or brutal workouts, the mental anguish of an eating disorder DROVE me to Jesus. It’s His kindness that leads us to repentance. It’s because as I was falling apart, He didn’t turn away, but reached out to me and loved me anyway (while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me).
 
Anorexia was what drove me to my knees before a loving Father. I can honestly say that I would not know Him like I do if I had not struggled. He might have used another issue, but He chose this one for me that I might seek the only one who could save me – not just from anorexia but from sin altogether. Does that make any sense?
 
We are stubborn creatures as humans. We will not naturally admit our need for a savior, so in order to open our eyes, humble our hearts and cause us to seek Him, sometimes God allows us to intimately feel the savagery of a sinful world. It is then that we know how much we need Him.
 
I hope that helps. Kinda got on a soapbox there, but I get so excited! 🙂
 
I’m just figuring all this out.

Cause of Christ

I am contemplating causes.

Those things which clamor for commitment,

Constrain us to sacrifice for their worthiness.

 

Cancer has drafted the voices of millions.

Nearly everyone has a someone who has tasted of its dregs

And come up, if fortunate enough, forever changed by the bitterness of the disease.

It is broadcast from billboards and bumpers and tattooed on bodies.

It is touted from television and telethons.

It has been walked-for and Made-a-Wish for.

And millions declare this cause their anthem.

 

Cancer is a cause because it alters all that’s as it should be.

And we hate it for that.

Cancer is not greeting the sunrise with a steady stomach and

firm constitution.

Cancer is not combing swishy ponytails,

Not relishing long walks,

Not having a voice or controlling the bladder.

Cancer is not having conviction of tomorrow,

Not nursing a newborn.

Cancer is not caressing the smooth flesh of a lover’s breast.

Cancer is not life as it should be.

 

Causes are taken up for holiness of all that’s as it should be.

Causes are the human call for restoration of right.

Causes ought to be Christ.

 

How can I call Christ a cause?

How can He be all that should be, if He isn’t all that is?

How can I take up a cause for the establishment of

something that is not yet,

And how can I be sure that Christ, the consummation of that which is not seen

Is really as it should be?

 

Christ contains all that we do know as it should be

And scatters it through a kaleidoscope.

He takes all that really is, refracting and reflecting ordinary

Through the lens of Himself and like cancer

Creates what is not.

But unlike cancer, Christ creates

All that is bigger, radiant and full of glory.

 

In our world, Christ is a cause because

He makes martyrs who do not slay themselves.

He is the Book which has not settled in grooves

On dusty shelves.

After centuries, Jesus is not irrelevant

As is normal for all names attached to dust-men.

His years were pocked with things not as they should be,

Things which are not now –

Blind men seeing, dead men walking, un-hands reaching.

He is things not as are in the confines of human intellect –

Fishermen teaching, murderers weeping then preaching.

He is redwoods from seeds no larger than a cherry,

Wings from a sticky chrysalis.

He is hearts that beat insatiably through decades and disasters.

 

Christian!

Where is your voice for the Cause?

Where is your anthem for Christ?

 

For His cause, His utterly other worldly cause

Consumes death,

Unlike all things as they seem – confined by years.

Christian, your Cause consumes all others.

Your Cause constrains you to declare it

Not only on bumpers and billboards, or bodies

Not only on television, telethons

Walks and wishes,

 

But in action and deed,

In expression and smile.

In small hand and sweaty backs,

In silence and solidarity.

In doing all things unlike as they are,

But all things, as they should be

As the Christ, whose Cause you carry.

 

(This poem is in no way intended to minimize the valiant efforts of all who have taken up a cure for cancer as their personal cause. It is only meant to draw attention to the fact that as a whole, we make a greater deal about something that steals lives than about the One God who promises eternal life.)

Just Take it Already!

It’s a well worn passage. Matthew, Mark and Luke all record it. The memory must have been emblazoned on their minds. I imagine it was one of the few times Jesus raised his voice to the disciples.

“But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'” Luke 18:16

A couple weeks ago, the pastor at Cascade Hills Church, here in Columbus, GA, started on Mark’s version of this story. I almost rolled my eyes. Some things are just over done, right? I mean, not only does this verse parade through the halls of my Sunday school memories, but just recently I’ve studied this passage in my Good Morning Girls Bible study. I just read it in Matthew last week as part of my through-the-Bible-in-a-year program.

But, as I’m touring the halls of memory, I distinctly remember the insistence in my parents’ voices when they said, “If I told you once, I told you a thousand times!” That meant, You’re supposed to remember this. It’s important!

So, I shook myself a little, refocused on the pastor and dug past empty gum wrappers and loose bobby pins to find a pen. Then, my mind drifted again, filled with questions:

What did Jesus mean, “For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”? For some reason, I started thinking along the lines of gifts. Maybe that’s because another version phrases it, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” It’s also applicable because, after all, according to 2 Peter 1:3, the God of the Kingdom is a wonderful gift giver:

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

Romans 3:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

What is a child’s role in the gifting process? Simply receive. So, if we are the recipients of God’s good gifts, how should we receive? All Christians long for the joy of Heaven, and we know that the only way there is through the gift of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12)

So, just think with me, as His children (Gal. 4:6), how should we receive His good gifts of grace, mercy, eternal life, all that we need for life and godliness, the Holy Spirit and so much more?

1. A child never turns down a gift. Can you imagine?

2. A child will never offer to pay you back. But, as adults we spend most of our lives trying to pay God back for His kindness to us. “After all He’s done for me, it’s the least I can do for Jesus.”

3. A child is fully willing to ask for a gift. Most of us, as adults, pepper our prayers with, “Only if you want to, God. I’ll understand if you don’t.”
Or, we feel guilty after a particularly needy prayer. But Jesus says, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” John 16:24

Just some food for thought. I’d love to hear your comments. How do you receive a gift – for that matter, a compliment?

If you’re really honest, do you see yourself as working to pay God back for His goodness toward you?

Supporting Scriptures: Matt. 20:28, John 14:16, Matt. 11:28, John 14:27

 

Guest Poem by Heather Worrell

Could this be the Rosh Hashanah
My Lord returns for me?
Would surely be a splendid thing-
A happy day to see!
As faith turns into blessed sight
And human souls- set free!

But for those left behind-
Who failed to heed the call-
Overwhelming darkness
Surrounding one and all,
A mere twinge of regret
Of sins that did appall-

A spurning of God’s love
As each chose their own way,
Giving up the conscience
To follow sin’s death sway,
Rejecting of the sacrifice,
His life that down He lay.

And then a hardening
Of the heart,
A twisting of the mind-
No hope left to impart.
No turning back-
All reason to depart.

But here is the warning-
Hearts can still repent.
He is standing by-
Soon comes judgement.
Choose while you can-
Now is your moment…

Make sure your heart
Is truly ready;
You’ve kept the faith-
Held steady;
Your place reserved
Already.

Weary sojourners here
Waiting to be found-
Listening to the air
For a trumpet sound;
Refashioned bodies
To Heaven inbound!

-Heather Worrell 9-2-13