Easter Monday

It is Easter Monday. Tomorrow will be Easter Tuesday and then Easter Wednesday and then…. well, you get the point. For those who believe in and follow Jesus Christ, everyday is Easter Sunday. God’s power that resurrected Jesus on Sunday is still at work on Easter Monday.

Easter Monday, when the laundry piles too high.

Easter Monday, when the seven year old wakes up uncontrollably grouchy and you lose your temper, returning her bad attitude in kind.

Easter Monday, when you fought with your best friend of a husband the night before and you think, “Again? I thought we were over this!” And your heart hurts with the pattern on repeat.

Easter Monday morning, with a week full of appointments, meals to cook, counters to wipe, unbelievably sticky floors to mop, and hours of picking up and you think, “Is this what my day is about? It never seems to end.”

Easter Monday, when sticky floors make you angrier than they should.

Easter Monday, when Scripture reminds…

Control yourselves and be careful! The devil, your enemy, goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to eat. (1 Peter 5:8)

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:24-25)

At some point on Easter Monday, the reality sets in. Difficulties, frustrations, and trials were not crucified on Friday and a carefree life resurrected in it’s place on Sunday. On this, the day after Easter, the world looks like, well…. the world. Tedious work, tempers, illness, old temptations, encountering others whose hearts are bent on destroying. Even death happens on this Monday after Easter. You are tempted to believe the power and hope proclaimed on Sunday, is rendered ineffective and lifeless today.

Then Scripture reminds…

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 1:18-20)

morlandthelivesOn this Resurrection Monday, Jesus is seated in heaven, all accomplished. The fact that, yesterday, He conquered death means that today He can conquer my bad attitude. He can destroy those patterns of thinking and behaving and sinning that break relationship with those I love. Are the, seemingly, insurmountable obstacles on this Monday after Easter really greater than death itself? Simply, NO.

The God who raised His Son after three days in death’s chamber can be trusted to give joy and purpose in the most tedious of tasks.  Work that, when done unto Him, with a thankful heart turns beautiful in its rhythm. This God of Easter restores brokenness, redeems those things the world would like to destroy, and equips us to face life’s challenges each day. This God of Easter is not just for Easter Sunday.

His resurrection power gives new eyes to see the blessings alongside the trials. Outside, I see azaleas and dogwoods and a new bright green that almost burns my eyes after a long winter. From where does this beauty come?

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

Beside this weary world is the whisper of a Savior who crushed Satan’s head on the cross (Genesis 3:15). While, for a time, the world moves forward in it’s sinful, broken state, His resurrection power is still working, transforming, and creating alongside the stench of a dying world. He is working miracles. Often, these miracles are in the transformed hearts of those who follow Him. Thankfully, I am not the same person I was last Easter. He is progressively changing my heart of worry to a heart of trust.

Because Scripture reminds, I will …

fix my eyes on Jesus , the author and perfector of my faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. I will consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that I will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3

Every day is Easter for those who believe in and follow Jesus Christ. We are not yet allowed to see His physical resurrected body but, between Easter Sunday and the unknown future when He comes again, we are given His power, His joy, and His hope. We are called to transform and infuse this broken world with His goodness and grace. I will pray to do just that today, Easter Monday, even as I mop the dirty floor and fold the endless laundry. I will not lose heart.

As Scripture reminds…

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9)

Sarah, a native Texan, now lives in Birmingham AL with her husband and four children.  A licensed speech therapist, she now manages her home full-time.  With a cup of coffee by her side, Sarah writes about mothering, disability, and God’s good purpose in the lives of His children. You can follow her blog at www.morlandt.blogspot.com

I Got A Rock

by Kristen Torres

I love to watch the classic Peanut Gang movies every holiday. In “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, when Charlie Brown goes trick-or-treating with his friends wearing a ghost costume with a few too many holes, he has the same unenthusiastic response as he leaves each house, “I got a rock.”  Unlike Charlie Brown, I love collecting rocks! Whether it be a casual walk, a hike in the woods with family, a vacation spot, or simply a memorable moment, I love to find just the right rock for the occasion!

stagnantRecently, I had the opportunity to go on a staff retreat…a true retreat. While taking some personal time to reflect and practice the presence of God, I meandered through God’s glorious creation and, of course, collected a couple of rocks. One rock was found near a pool of stagnant water and the other one near a vibrant stream.

In Altar’d, we are reminded that “in the symbol language of Scripture, a rock is the symbol for Jesus and water is the Holy Spirit.” (p. 170) Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:37-38) flowing

On my walk and talk with the Lord, I listened…a lot. I thanked Him that His Spirit in me does not look like a stagnant and mucky pool of water (rock #1) and I recognized, once again, the precious gift of Living Water flowing through me (rock #2).

Near the end of the trail, when I found a patch of moss shaped like a heart, the Spirit led me to hum the hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”

Over time, I’ve found many rocks for my collection but none more precious than the Rock of Ages.

moss

Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace;

streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.

Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.

Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come;

and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God;

he, to rescue me from danger, interposed his precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!

Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;

here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

Box of Rocks

“Everyone has their own box of rocks,” my friend said. That stuck with me for the rest of the day and I woke up the next morning with that box of rocks still on my mind. What a great analogy for painful life experiences. Life beats us all up. No matter who you are, if you live very long, the rocks are coming. And they contribute significantly to who we become.

What are we to do with that box of rocks we have collected? marilynjohnsonphoto

Some of those who have been hurt by rocks hold them close to their chest and thrust those same rocks at anyone who comes near.

Some bury their head so far into their rocks they become almost unrecognizable. Their most glaring attribute is the markings of the rocks pressed into their face.

Some hold onto the rocks with a death grip. The rocks become a trophy that cannot be pried from their fist.

Still others don’t appear to have any rocks. Where is their box? What is the difference?

In Jeremiah 17:5-10, God gave us a comparison of two men who had the same rocks thrown at them. Both men faced heat and drought. However, one man is “like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth. He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows.” While the other is “like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers—Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.” (The Message)

Same rocks, different results. Why? One man trusted in himself. Because our rocks are so personal, we are sometimes deceived into thinking we have to deal with them ourselves. We let God “help” but ultimately we think it is our responsibility alone. Flesh delivers death.

“…flesh thinks only flesh can straighten flesh out, so flesh had better be vigilant.” (Altar’d, page 17)

The other man? I believe he had altar’d his flesh. Died to control. Died to self pity. Died to personal expectations. What we see in his life is the power of resurrection. Spirit gives life!

“When we read that He [Jesus] is able to help those who are being tempted because He Himself was tempted, I think it is not simply saying that now Jesus knows how it feels to be tempted, so He can cheer us on when we are tempted. I think it is saying that Jesus overcame sin and won the victory over temptation . . . Therefore, when we are facing temptation, we need only yield to His life and His power running through us. . . Don’t fight harder against the temptation; instead yield more fully to his life.” (Altar’d  page 117-118)

Jesus had rocks thrown at Him in every sense of the word. He took every one of those rocks and claimed victory over temptation. He did it for me and you.

Give Him your box of rocks and rest in His victory! Altar’d rocks! Oh what He could do with that!

Marilyn is a wife, mother of two married children, and Nana to six precious little boys and one baby girl. After retiring from teaching Math at Jacksonville State University, she and her husband now live in Birmingham, AL. She holds the Basic and Advanced Women’s Ministry Certificates from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She has a heart for ministering to women and a passion for teaching the Word of God.

Thirsty

thirsty Vincent has been in the garage for at least an hour.  He is bent over paper; paint and markers in hand at our new garage craft center.  His glasses slide down his nose so he peers over them like an old man, his hair sticking up in the back, paint smeared on his shirt and pants.  I check on him between loads of laundry and the unloading and loading of the dishwasher, between the refilling of Luisa’s straw cup.  Eventually, the back door slams.  He steps into the kitchen, creation in hand.

“Momma for you!”  He peers at me over his glasses with a big, proud smile.

I am struck speechless for a moment then exclaim, “I LOVE IT!”

I stare at the painting and the lesson hits deep in my heart.  You must grow weary with me, God.  Always having to be so obvious.  Having to send a child to bring home the point You’ve been whispering to my heart over the last few months.

In my son’s artwork I see streams running down from the cross.  Surely Vincent was not thinking of streams of Living Water as he painted his cross creation?

“Vincent, what is this a picture of?” I ask.

“Momma you know that place we go where we dress up?”

“Church?”  I reply.

“Yes.  This is church,” he states matter-of-factly.

I see the dome now and yet I ask him about the blue.

“That’s where we walk up,” he says.

He sees the blue going up, a sidewalk of sorts, and I see the blue flowing down.  I wonder if the brown paint ran out and blue was the next best thing?  Yet I know what God is trying to say to me through Vincent’s sweet creation.  Living Water.  Living Water.  Living Water.

“‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scriptures has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.” (John 7:37-39)

Grown people.  Tiny humans.  Relationships.  My inability to muster enough self-control and strength to live the holy life I am called to live.  These things make me thirsty.  At times, they make me weary.

Disease.  Sickness.  Current events.  They suck the life out of us, literally and figuratively.  We just might collapse under the weight of it all.

In these times we need to remember to drink of the Living Water found only in Jesus Christ.

As Jennifer Kennedy Dean reminds us on Day 14 of her book Altar’d:

You must decrease and He must increase.  Let your littleness be absorbed by His greatness.  Let your weakness be swept away by His strength.  Let your failure, your fear, your struggles, your bitterness…. let it all be flushed out by the powerful flow of His life in you.  Take your eyes off yourself.  Fix your eyes on Him.  Hide yourself in Him.

In my closet I have a place of prayer.  Pinned to the wall are prayer requests, quotes, scriptures, and one tiny painting.  An orange cross, a blue stream flowing down, a reminder to drink deeply of the Living Water offered me in Jesus Christ.

Sarah, a native Texan, now lives in Birmingham AL with her husband and four children.  A licensed speech therapist, she now manages her home full-time.  With a cup of coffee by her side, Sarah writes about mothering, disability, and God’s good purpose in the lives of His children. You can follow her blog at www.morlandt.blogspot.com

Running the Show…

cactus flowerWhen you come across people and circumstances that engage your flesh, you are at a crucifixion moment. Altar that anger, or offense, or fear, or defensiveness, or possessiveness. Right then, before flesh starts running the show. It’s there, but it’s altar’d. Flesh might show up, but it won’t take over. Altar it again and again until one day it doesn’t show up. The altar has done its crucifixion work and you are free of that particular flesh pattern.
(p. 61, Day 11, Altar’d, Jennifer Kennedy Dean)

My flesh seems the most determined to run the show in my marriage and in my mothering. I always thought of myself as a patient, loving, hold no grudge kind of person. Then I was married. Suddenly I found myself sharing a 550 square foot apartment with my new, highly organized, Type A husband. Being somewhat Type B and definitely not organized, I stubbornly refused to cooperate with systems that would make our tiny living quarters more manageable. Labels for our medicine cabinet? Well, no thank you; one large bucket with all the medications thrown in will do. Band-aids in the band-aid box? Nah, searching for translucent band-aids under a mountain of cold/flu bottles builds perseverance! Looking back now I see the flesh of self-centeredness and pride. At the time, I just wanted to win the battle.

Patience? Long-suffering? Wise and temperate words? They are hardly my go-tos in mothering. Flesh. Flesh wants to make its appearance first.

Then there are times God alters our neatly calculated plans for life, motherhood, children, or work and we find ourselves at a crossroads, an altar before us. Will we lay on the altar our expectations of how we thought our lives would be, trusting that God’s plan is eternally more significant and beautiful than anything we could imagine? During the last eight years of mothering I have altar’d my expectations time and time again. Yet it was not until my husband and I were given the privilege of stewarding a special needs child did my knees truly buckle at the altar before me. Total submission to His plan, whether or not I could see the good (Romans 8:28) was His requirement of me. This mothering of precious children, this coming alongside my husband, this caring for a beautiful but vulnerable daughter – this life journey will surely bring me to the altar day after day. May I take my eyes off what I am laying down and raise them instead to the holy God who makes no mistakes; to the God most worthy, most capable of running the show.

Heavenly Father,
You are Perfect Love, Awesome Provider, Righteous Judge
I ask today for the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Please convict me of those patterns of flesh trying to run the show in my work and in my relationships.
I ask today for the strength to submit to the circumstances You have sovereignly allowed in my life.
I open my hands and lay before you my disappointments, my broken dreams, my will.
Loving Father, fill my empty hands with You so that I might accomplish Your purposes for this day.

Amen

Sarah, a native Texan, now lives in Birmingham AL with her husband and four children. A licensed speech therapist, she now manages her home full-time. With a cup of coffee by her side Sarah writes about mothering, disability, and God’s good purpose in the lives of His children. You can follow her blog at www.morlandt.blogspot.com

Pretending Not To See

I was teaching at Jacksonville State University in a building with a huge, two story lobby and curved staircases on either side. I had taught my first class of the day and was going downstairs to clear my head. I was within three steps of the ground when something went terribly wrong. I’m still not sure what happened. The next thing I knew, I was on the floor and in a great deal of pain. I found out later that I had broken my leg.

The interesting thing is that I was smack dab in the middle of “young adult world.” I had fallen in a crowded lobby, full of college students at a time when much of their entertainment was derived at the expense of another’s discomfort. They, generally, laughed pretty hard at things like people falling. This time, no one laughed (whew). To cover their own discomfort,  they tried not to let me know that they had seen me. They were embarrassed for me.

Today, I am thinking about a couple of things … how to share Christ with those we come in contact with and our attitude to those who do not yet know Him. As believers, we would never laugh at them or make fun of them.  Sometimes, though, we see them and don’t want them to know we know they don’t share our hope. Maybe we feel really bad for them. Maybe we are embarrassed for them. Whatever the reason, too many times, we pass them with our eyes looking anywhere but directly at them and/or their situation so they won’t feel bad.

When I fell, I was hurt and could not get up until one of my students came to my rescue. SO MANY people in our paths every day that need to be rescued, maybe not from a physical injury, but from the life that holds no hope. Those of us who have already been rescued are the ones that have the eyes to truly see those around us.

Do we really believe they are in danger of dying without Christ or do we just kind of feel bad for them?

Are we willing to be inconvenienced or ridiculed to give them the greatest gift anyone could receive?

What difference could it make if we TRULY acted on what we say we believe?

One man did. Watch this and discover how his obedience made an impression on this self-proclaimed atheist…https://www.youtube.com/embed/6md638smQd8

What about you? Are you willing to see those people that need Jesus clearly?