Monday, March 25, 2013

Holy Week

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it."  John 3: 16-17

Many Christians and non-Christians have heard the first part of the Scripture quoted above.  It's hard to watch a professional sporting event and not see John 3:16 somewhere in the crowd or even on the field.  I applaud this evangelism, getting the word out there, though I wonder how many non-Christians really look up the passage , ask a Christian friend, or know what John 3:16 means.  It's not for us to worry about, though.  God draws people to him; it is the purpose of His people to put the message out to everyone, to point the way to Him, and to remind the world about all He has done and is doing.  The next time you have the opportunity to share your faith, don't worry about how you or your message will be received.  Just put it out there, God will work in the hearts of those who seek Him.

I included the oft-forgotten verse 17.  It seems to me that when I talk to people who don't go to church, they have lots of reasons why, but the most frequent reason is that they feel like they are being judged, they are not good enough, that somehow one has to be good to go to church.  My response is usually a polite chuckle.  Then I tell them that's why I go to church, because I am not good enough, I'm a sinner in need of God's forgiveness!  I sin, therefore I go.  It is verse 17 that assures me that God wants to forgive us; everyone, regardless of how unworthy we think we are.  If we seek forgiveness, God will grant it.  So, I wonder... when people are reminded of John 3:16 do they continue to read, do they get the full message of Salvation?  The next time you see John 3:16 written on poster board or on the eye-black of an athlete or fan, remember verse 17, too "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it."  And if you are lucky enough to be asked about John 3:16, be sure to continue with the complete message of salvation.

Holy Week is a reminder of the reality of John 3:16-17.  The events are not metaphor, simile, folklore, allegory, or parable.  What happened during Holy Week is history - facts that have been written down, remembered, and celebrated for over two thousand years.  It is a yearly reminder of the events that happened in Jerusalem to Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus the Christ, The Son of Man, the only Begotten Son of God. 

On Palm Sunday we remember how the crowds cheered Jesus arrival. 
On Maundy Thursday we remember the Passover meal that Jesus ate with his disciples.  Many things happened in that upper room, including Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, the prediction of Judas Iscariot's betrayal & Peter's denials, and the words of Jesus that are repeated by Christians today when we take communion. 
Good Friday is a solemn remembrance of Jesus crucifixion and death. 
Saturday is often a day of Vigil - being the Jewish Sabbath, Jesus' friends could not attend his body, so they had to wait until Sunday.  As Christians remember this waiting period they pray, as I'm sure Jesus' followers & friends did. 
When they went to the tomb early Sunday morning they found it empty!  We celebrate Easter Sunday with the call and answer, "He is Risen!"  "He is Risen Indeed!" 

With all the things that the world and life throws at us daily, it is easy to forget:
to pray
to rely on God
to trust in God's promises
to remember that God loved us so much, he gave his only Son to die as a sacrifice for our sins.

As we go through Holy Week and have lots of things to do and prepare, let's not forget to remember why we celebrate. 

How will you remember and celebrate Holy Week?  Please share with us on the blog comments the ways you intend to do this, some of your favorite ways to celebrate the season, or a favorite memory of a past Lent and Easter season.

May the Peace of the Lord be with you!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Monday, March 18, 2013

Week 11 - INS Chapter 12 - Become a Recording Artist

"The woman left her water jar beside the well and went back to the village and told everyone, "Come and meet a man who told me everything I ever did! Can this be the Messiah?" So the people came streaming from the village to see him."  John 4:28-30

Did you ever slow down or stop reading a good book because you didn't want it to end?  I have!  I don't want to have to leave the world the author created or say good bye to characters I have come to like.  It seems silly, really, but I can get so into a story that I just don't want to finish it and at the same time, I tell all my friends & family about the great book I'm reading.

As I find myself at the end of It's No Secret, I am a little sad that this is the last chapter in the book.  I love Rachel's style of writing, her personal stories draw me in & help me connect.  But her message is always pointing me to a greater Book!  One that seems to never end - one that I never have to finish reading.  A Book whose characters come alive anew every time I read their stories.  And the world the author created: I live in it - all the time.  That world won't go away until the Author returns. 

Chapter 12 is a sort of benediction.  While revealing one last 'secret', Rachel also guides us to the idea that we are not to keep these secrets for ourselves.  We are blessed with the knowledge of these divine truths and should share them with others. Like a good book that we wouldn't hesitate to tell our friends & family about,(and maybe even lend them our copy or buy them a copy), we are challenged to do the same with our faith. 

"But how?", you ask.  First we start with remembering all that God does for us.  Rachel helps us to see how important this is to God.  I think God knew that we would forget to remember, so He made sure to tell us to over and over and over again!  Jesus even directs his disciples to "Do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19)We, as individuals and as the human race, have short memories.  It is helpful to have reminders!  The Bible serves as a reminder of what God has done for many, long ago.  You can devise your own memory keeper, so that you can share your faith with others.  The stories of the Bible are Fantastic!  But people of the 21st century want to also hear about how God works in the here and now.  Personal stories make real connections.

Savor this last chapter of It's No Secret !  I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have and perhaps even pass a copy on to someone who would love to know these divine truths!

If you'd like a schedule, here's what I suggest:

Day 1: Read chapter 12.  Think about someone (or two or three someones) you would like to share this message of Truth with.

Day 2: Complete questions # 1, 2, 3.  Come to the blog and share your reaction to this chapter.

Day 3: Complete questions #4 & 5.  Don't let the long list intimidate you!  It's only 15 verses.  If you're familiar with your Bible, it will be quick.  If not, this will help :)

Day 4: Accept the challenge of becoming a Yahweh Sister recording artist!  Come to the blog and share with us how you will do this!

I can't wait to read what you have to share!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Don't forget to join us for our new study, "My One Word" starting on April 5th and continuing for only 4 weeks!  For details on the book & study, see last week's post or follow the Redeemer Lutheran Church link on the sidebar to Small Groups.  I am so excited!!!  I am looking forward to you joining us, here on-line and/or in person on Friday mornings.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Week 10 - Chapter 11 - Diversify Your Portfolio

"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)

I cannot believe how quickly the weeks have flown by!  We have only two more chapters until the end of this study!  I have learned so much; my faith and understanding grow deeper every time I read this book, the Scriptures, and discuss them with you.  Thank you for being an amazing part of this fantastic journey!

Looking ahead, I hope you will join us for the next study, beginning on April 5th.  We will read "My One Word" by Mike Ashcraft & Rahcel Olsen.  If you are able to join us in person on Friday mornings, you will also see the video series that accompanies the book.  This is completely optional and if you cannot attend in person, you will still benefit greatly from the book alone.  Also, join us here on this blog and check out the webpage, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter for My One Word, .  Lots of support & resources for everyone's schedule!  Please purchase the book (and begin reading) before April 5th. Go to and follow the link at the bottom of the page to purchase the book through Redeemer Youth's portal. Thank You!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled chapter...

Wisdom - do you know a wise person?  What is the difference between Wise and Smart?  Can a person be wise without being smart?  And vice-versa, smart but not wise?  I think I'm about as smart as I'm going to get, but can I still attain wisdom?  HOW?

Rachel helps us discover the answer to that question in this chapter.  She highlights Scripture that talks about, explains, defines, and describes Wisdom.  Scripture tells us who has wisdom, just how to get it, and the rewards for following Wisdom. 
For additional reading about Wisdom, look at Proverbs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.  Scan these verses this week and notice how many times the words "wise" and "wisdom" are used. Do you get the idea that wisdom is important to God and important for us? 
Reading Proverbs is a great way to spend time in Scripture on a daily basis (see Question 5 at the end of the chapter.  I hope you try this.  I'd love to hear about it as you read through Proverbs!)

For this week:

Monday: Read chapter 11. Come to the blog and post your reaction to this chapter in the Comment section.  Post your favorite quote from the book and/or your favorite verse on Wisdom.

Tuesday: Read about Daniel and answer the questions for Question #1.

Wednesday: Do questions #2, #3, #4.  Enjoy these wisdom-filled, yet short, readings. These passages pack a lot of punch in their brevity.

Thursday: Review chapter 11 & chapter 10.  We'll talk about both on Friday morning.  Feel free to comment on both on the blog!  I am always excited to hear from you!

Your Partner in Ministry,


"Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.  For the Lord grants wisdom!  From his mouth come knowledge and understanding."  Proverbs 2: 2, 6


Monday, March 4, 2013

Week 9 - Chapter 10 - Crave a Clear Conscience

"Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!" Psalm 32:2

Before I get into this week's chapter, I'd like to say a few more things about chapter 9.  In our live meeting on Friday, we talked about waiting and being quiet before the Lord, listening for His voice.  I was inspired to blog about it and the wheels of my mind were turning when I decided to read a few e-mails before sitting down to blog.  I was shocked at what I found!  The e-mail I read from my Online Bible Study for another book reflected my thoughts!  I decided to include a link here so that you can read it :  Stephanie Clayton has some wise words and a challenge worth taking.  I hope you will!

Now, for Chapter 10 - a.k.a. Beauty Secrets!  I can totally identify with Rachel's battle with skin problems!  I think we women have all had something about ourselves that we didn't like and tried to change.  But then she goes deeper...  you've heard the saying beauty is more than skin deep.  God knows this and Jesus saw through people's 'perfect' exteriors during his time here on earth. 
Rachel points us to scripture in both the Old Testament and New Testament that addresses our sinful nature and the necessity of confession to God.  The idea of facing, naming, and admitting our sins can be uncomfortable (yea, just a bit!).  But, as David writes in Psalm 23:5 "Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them.  I said to myself, "I will confess my rebellion to the Lord." And you forgave me!  All my guilt is gone!"  Perhaps this is where the saying "Forgiveness is good for the soul" comes from.

And guess what, according to the latest research, it's not only good for the soul, it's also good for the body:

So yes, forgiveness is a Beauty Secret, for our insides and our outsides!
I'm a bit late this week with my blog post, so if you haven't read the chapter yet, read it today and post your reaction to the chapter on the blog in the Comment section.  Do the 6 questions over 2 days. 

Your Partner in Ministry,