The Chosen

I have been waiting for months for this to become available for months now and last night I sat down and watched the first four episodes of THE CHOSEN.  This is  a crowd-funded, Hollywood style TV show about the life of Jesus and the people closest to him.  It’s about seeing the disciples not through the light of sainthood, but as real people and walking with them through the journey they might have taken as they came to know and love Christ.

https://studios.vidangel.com/the-chosen/episode-one

I’m so happy to be able to share this with you and I hope that you love it as much as I do.  We need more shows like this.  Shows that put the light and love of Jesus into the world, and I can’t think of a more perfect time…this Easter season.

God bless,

Meredith

All you have to do is ask.

Today in my readings Paul talks about “…behaving decently, as in the daytime” Romans 13:13.  And I’m not going to say anything new here, but sometimes it bears repeating, it helps to be reminded.  How many of us exhibit behaviours in the privacy of our own homes, behind the closed doors of hotel rooms, or it the darkened anonymity of bars and night clubs, behaviours that we would never want our mothers, our children, our friends to see.  That’s what Paul is talking about. And he’s not just talking about our physical deeds, but our emotional ones as well, the ones we keep secret in our hearts, the jealousies, the coveting, the dissensions and grievances.

I will be the first one to admit that there are things I might say or do in my own house that I would never want other people to see or hear.  Losing my temper, slamming doors, speaking badly of someone.  I do them all.  I forget that someone is always watching.  That my actions never occur in a vacuum.  That’s why Paul’s words are so important.  In this letter to the Romans he is calling on them, on us, to “put aside the deeds of darkness, and put on the armor of light”.  Are you asking yourself how?  Or have you convinced yourself that your behaviours in those times were justified, or that they drove you to it.  That they deserved what they got or that’s just how you were made.

I won’t even tell you that those things aren’t true. But part of what Paul is telling us, part of the message of Jesus, and the reason he died for us and our sins is that we are called to be better.  To rise up against our own sinful nature, “the way we were made” and put aside the deeds of darkness.  If you’re like me, maybe you’ve tried this before, but feel as if you always slip back, you always fall down and maybe you’ve even reached the point of giving up. I can relate.  But today I’d like to tell you that we are supposed to fail, in fact we will fail every single time if we are trying to go it alone.  I have come to learn that the absolute only way I can be a different person is through Christ.  Time and time again the bible calls upon us to surrender ourselves to our Father in heaven.  But we are so stubborn, so determined to have our independence that we refuse, we protest the freedom and light that is offered to us freely.  But that’s okay.  Because our time here on earth is about that journey.  About gaining a gradual understanding of the power of the life and death and love of Jesus Christ and God our Father.

So if there is a darkness in your heart or a heaviness in your spirit, know that you don’t have to shine a light on it yourself, you don’t have to carry the burden, because there is someone greater than you who will happily do it for you.  Someone who wants to do it for you.  All you have to do is ask.

God bless,

Meredith

The Weight of the World.

We all have times in our lives when we feel anxiety and stress.  Times when the obligations and worries of the world, and our lives seem to pile up and become overwhelming.  Times when we feel as if we are not strong enough to carry the weight that is on our shoulders.  I’ve been feeling that way recently.  That there is so much to be done, and not enough of me to do it all.  There are people in my life for whom I have a great deal of fear and worry.  In the past, when I’ve had those feelings, I have often struggled to drag myself out from under the mental and emotional pressures I have placed upon myself.  I have felt like a failure.  I have railed against God and the challenges he has laid upon me and those I love.

What makes this time any different?  Trust.  In those times when I begin to feel my burdens pulling me under, I have a lifeline that I can reach out and grab.  Jesus.  Sometimes it’s all I can do to repeat “Jesus help me” over and over again.  Sometimes I  plead for a miracle, but trust that however God chooses to answer my prayer, he loves me and those whom I pray for, and this is all part of his plan.  And I remind myself that my Father in heaven has my back and he will not give me anything I can’t handle, as long as I take His hand and believe that he is with me.

Doing all those things doesn’t mean that the feelings of panic go away forever or completely, but they lessen. My relationship with God has grown to a point that I will not, can not help but turn to him in all times and in all places.   Even in my struggles, I see the blessings and joy his has given me.  He will walk through the valley with me, and when I know I am not strong enough, he is my strength and my shield.  He will carry me when I can not walk the path on my own.

Trust in the Lord, with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5.

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…” Deuteronomy 33:27.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7

God bless,

Meredith

Giving Of Yourself.

Giving generously of your wealth.  It’s talked about often in the bible; by Jesus and Paul, in the Old Testament and in the New.  But so often we assume that the giving is simply referring to our financial wealth.  Perhaps that’s because money and physical riches have become so important in our consumer driven society.

But in many ways, giving money is one of the easiest ways of giving.  Politicians are constantly throwing money at problems, because it gives the appearance of something happening.  But what if giving of our financial wealth isn’t really what Jesus was talking about?  What if he meant for us to give generously of our truth wealth; our time, our hearts, our talents?  I know for myself, that becomes a much bigger hill to climb.

It never feels as if there are enough hours in the day, days in the week or weeks in the year.  It’s hard to think about sacrificing the precious few minutes of peace I have.  It’s hard to think about giving more of myself than I already give to my family and friends.  But I think that is really what God is calling us to do.  Or what he is calling me to do.  Because giving generously is personal.  It’s about you finding the gift that God has given you that is hardest for you to share.  Maybe for you it is money.  Maybe it’s your time.  Maybe it’s your talent.  I think this is partly what Jesus meant when he said “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:24  And I’m pretty sure that when Jesus is speaks of taking care of the poor, he isn’t just referring to those who are poor of wallet, but those who are poor of heart, and mind and spirit.

Where is God calling you to give generously in your life?  Who are the poor he is calling on you to take care of ?

God bless,

Meredith

Don’t Be One Of The Nine.

Times of crisis; when everything seems lost…these are most often the times we reach out to a power greater than ourselves.  These are the times we find ourselves on our knees, we find ourselves making bargins, begging, willing to consider miracles possible, if only they can be for us.  I’ve been there myself.

Luke Chapter 17:11-19 tells the story of Jesus healing no less than ten leapers at one time on his way from Galilee to Jerusalem.  As part of the process He sends them to a priest to be cleansed.  In the end, only one comes back to thank him and give praise to God for this miracle.  Sounds familiar doesn’t it?  Because we are so often more like the nine who didn’t return, than the one who did.  We ask God to do something for us, we promise we will go back to church, start praying again, be better…but no sooner do we get what we want, then we are right back to our old ways.  We aren’t true to our word.  We take God’s gifts and we forget to say thank you.  We dull ourselves to the wonder of the miracle we have experienced.

Thankfully God is always faithful and he doesn’t hold a grudge.  He knows even as we say those words, as we make those promises and bargins if we are going to be true, and He is ever hopeful that we will choose Him.

For some people the only relationship they have with God is one of asking.  I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.  I think of it instead as simply a stop on their journey.  God would rather you ask him for things than have nothing to do with him.  And think about your children.  When they are young all they do is ask for things.  In fact when they are very young, when they are babies, they don’t just ask, they demand!  Sometimes loudly.  So if you are in a place where all you find yourself doing is asking God for things, that’s okay.  But as you grow in your relationship and your faith, you will find yourself more like a teenager or a young adult, able to give thanks, to appreciate your blessings.  And I think as you continue to grow you will eventually find yourself in a much more adult relationship, more like a parent or friend than a child.  Able to give and listen and wait upon the Lord. You will find yourself becoming a servant; grateful to be useful, wanting to be used.

Jesus says to the the one who returns, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Part of  faith is recognizing and giving thanks for our blessings, for the miracles God works in our lives.   I feel as if Natalie Grant sums up how we should approach this story and our faith perfectly in her song “More than Anything”  “Help me want the Healer more than the healing.  Help me want the Savior more than the saving.  Help me want the Giver more than the giving.  Help me want you Jesus more than anything.”

God bless,

Meredith

Drop Everything!

The calling of the disciples.  Have you ever given much thought to exactly what those twelve men were called to do?  I mean sure they got to walk beside Jesus and perform miracles, but they were also called to walk away from everything, EVERYTHING in their lives…we are foolish if we don’t count the cost of what they were asked to give up;  wives and children, homes and security.  Could you imagine yourself doing the same?  Honestly I don’t know if I could.

Of course I could walk away from my house, and most of my possessions, but what about that ring my beloved grandmother gave me?  And don’t even get me started on my kids.  I mean I know I’ll eventually have to give them up, but on my terms, when they are old enough to leave the house and go to college.  Except that’s not really true is it?  I could lose everything tomorrow, today even.  We live our lives with such an illusion of control.  We put our kids in travel sports, Kumon, music, etc. all because we are determined to make them into their best selves… except anyone who’s ever had more than one child knows that you really don’t have much control over how athletic they are, how smart they are, how friendly, kind, caring they are.  Our children are born with their own personalities and while we can sand off some of the sharp edges, and we can love them unconditionally and teach them values and principles, they will ultimately be who and what they are going to be.  No parent of a murderer thinks that they are going to raise a killer.

So when Jesus called on his disciples to give up everything, he wasn’t really asking them to give up anything that was really theirs to begin with.  There are a lot of people, my husband included, who believe that we are successful in life because we work hard.  I don’t discount that.  I absolutely believe that hard work matters. But, I also think it’s important to remember how much of your success was simply because of who you were born to be, because you were born with an aptitude for something, or a gift?  I was born with a love of books and an aptitude for writing.  That was a gift.  How I choose to develop it, or what I choose to do with it is entirely up to me, but in the end, it will always be a gift from God, not something of my own creation.

So the question we have to ask ourselves instead, is what are we willing to give up when Jesus calls us to be disciples?  Websters defines a disciple as one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: such as a Christianity.   In Luke 9:22-27 Jesus says “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.  What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”  I think that what he is calling on us to do here is give up the illusion of control and trust in him.

How many times have you found in your own life that the more you try to control a situation, the less control you actually have… the more you “lose” control?  When Jesus calls us to give up our families, to deny ourselves and to lose our lives to save them, he is calling on us to surrender our illusions, to trust in him completely. And it is in giving up our illusions that we find the peace and comfort and joy.  Today’s world is determined to convince you that you are in control, with your smart phone you can turn on your car, your lights, your furnace, all from across town.  But do those things really matter, or are they illusions to distract you from the fact that you aren’t really in control of anything important?  You can’t control if you are going to get cancer, or if you will be in a car accident, or even if your children will make it home safely from school today.  I guess if those things aren’t really under my control, then I find it a lot more comfortable knowing that they are under the control of the One who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow;  The Maker of the Heavens and the Earth.

What is Jesus calling you to do today?  To follow him?  To become a disciple? To give up your illusions?  I have personally found great comfort and peace giving up my life and family to Jesus.  I know he can and will do the same for you.  All you have to do is ask.

God bless,

Meredith

The Great I AM.

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you Lord have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10

So I’m trying something new today.  Memorizing bible verses is something I probably don’t do enough.  Or, let me instead admit that I’m always envious of those who have a library of verses at their fingertips for every situation.  So today I wrote this verse on the mirror in my main floor powder room.  I’ll admit to hoping this has a two-fold effect.  First, I’ll see it multiple times everyday and so I will naturally memorize it.  Second, other people in my household will also see it everyday and true maybe they won’t memorize it, but they will see it, and that’s important too.  (And let me tell you, taking a photo of a mirror without including yourself is not easy!)

My Lenten reading this week has been about Abraham and his faith, and how that faith resulted in God’s promise, a promise that we are all benefiting from.  It’s an incredible story when you really think about it.  The unwaivering faith of a single man changed the world, and our relationship with our creator forever.  Through Abraham God was able to demonstrate his power, and because of Abraham’s faith God made him a promise.  In Hebrews, Paul reminds us of that promise of hope, and it’s culmination in the life and death of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Today it really hit me WHAT we were promised; An eternity bathed in the warmth and glory of God, an eternity of unconditional love, free of anger, greed, jealousy and pain.  We were promised an eternity full of love and joy and happiness.  WOW!  I am so incredibly grateful that God has chosen to share this message of hope with me…with those I love…with you. It’s so easy to lose sight of God’s promises when we allow ourselves to become distracted by our always clamoring world.  But if we keep our hearts and minds on God and trust that he will NEVER forsake us, it makes even the dark times easier to bear.

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you Lord have never forsaken those who seek you.” 

Let’s keep seeking God even when it feels like everything around us is telling us our search is futile.  Let’s keep seeking God even when the world dangles fame and wealth and illusions of happiness in our faces. And let’s especially keep seeking God when we are bereft of hope and all seems lost.  Our God is Great and He has made us a promise that He will never go back on, we just have to trust.

There is a verse in this song that I can’t sing because my voice breaks every single time. “There is no power in hell or any who can stand before the power and presence of the great I AM.”

God bless,

Meredith