Category Archives: A New Year in a New Place

Week 57 – Part II: One Day He’s Coming, O Glorious Day!

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming
One day the skies with His glories will shine
Wonderful day, my beloved one bringing
My Savior Jesus is mine

Living He loved me, dying He saved me
And buried He carried my sins far away
Rising He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming, oh, glorious day, oh, glorious day
Glorious day, oh, glorious day

We celebrated the resurrection just yesterday. He’s conquered the grave – He is mighty to save! Now, imagine with me the following:

One day He’s coming…O glorious day!

“Your Kingdom come” – part of the model prayer.  Isn’t this the way a Christian should live each day his life?

You know – in the constant anticipation of Jesus’ Christ’s return… If we lived every day as though it might be the last one before His return, what a difference it would make – at least in my life! 

Throughout the Bible it is written that God is going to bring His kingdom here to earth. Whether you believe that the church is going to be taken up (raptured) before, during, or after a 7-year tribulation is probably not relevant. God is going to bring His kingdom to earth and Christ, the King of Kings will reign. 

Any day now, the clouds could open up and God’s Son could step out to call believers to join Him in the place He is preparing for us?

Are you ready? 

Jesus paid our debt.

If Jesus is not your Lord here on earth, one day your knee will bend before His throne, and you will be sent to hell to pay for your sins all by yourself – for the rest of eternity. My Jesus is a loving and caring Lord and He wants you to come to Him in faith.  He thought enough of us to make a way.  Ask Him, He’s waiting for you.

Think of that day – what a glorious day that will be!

Week 57 – Part I: Rising He Justified

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose, over death He had conquered
Now He’s ascended, my Lord evermore

Death could not hold Him
The grave could not keep Him from rising again

Living He loved me, dying He saved me
And buried He carried my sins far away
Rising He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming, oh, glorious day, oh, glorious day
Glorious day

As we continue through the chorus of Glorious Day (found here), we come to the following line:

Rising He justified freely forever…

Rising, now that’s something. 

This act forever sets our Lord apart from all the “wannabees”.  You can run down the list –  Allah, Apollo, Atlas, Baal, Brahma, Buda, Gaia, Jupiter, Krishna, Osiris, Quetzalcoatl, Rama, Shiva, Si-Wang-Mu, Tyche, Thor, Vishnu, Venus, Xochiquetzal, Zeus or a thousand more “not quite’ gods.   

Jesus is the only one who ever came back to life after being dead!  This shows His power over death and sin.  He arose after three days in Joseph’s borrowed tomb. He again, set the example for us,  We, too will one day rise again to be with Him in heaven. 

Those who do not know Him and have not accepted His gift will be forever separated from Him. 

You can go to Israel and see a tomb, but there is no body there.  Today He sits at the right hand of the father.  He lived as a lowly servant but now He is highly exalted, interceding for us! 

He is risen! 

Praise Jesus for the empty tomb!

Week 56 – Part IV: Buried He Carried My Sins Far Away

Then Joseph . . . laid [the body] in a tomb . . . (v. 46)

There is something special about the old hymns. Many of them   carry a powerful message, a strong anointing, and a doorway into the praises of heaven—helping to carry our spirits to new heights of adoration and a deeper sense of the heart of God.

Today, I’d like to focus on the next line in the hymn One Day (Glorious Day by Casting Crowns). 

One day they led Him, up Calvary’s mountain
One day they nailed Him, to die on a tree
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He

Living He loved me, dying He saved me
Buried He carried my sins far away
Rising He justified, freely forever
One day He’s coming…

Oh, Glorious Day!

Buried He carried my sins far away…

The Apostles’ Creed tells us that Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried. I understand the crucified and died part, but why on earth do I need to confess that Jesus was buried? The answer given by the Heidelberg Catechism is as simple as it is brief: “to make it clear that He was really dead.” Jesus Christ really died on Good Friday so that He, and in turn we, could be really raised.

They lowered His dead body from that rugged cross and carried it to a borrowed tomb.  Our Savior knew this day would come.  He also knew that by His death, our sins’ debt would be paid – in full.  Nothing ever again would have to be done to purchase my/our forever.  Our Believer’s Baptism symbolizes the death of that old way of life.  Our new lives should be full of grace and good works because that sin nature has been removed.  Yes, we are going to fall into sin from time to time but He carried those sins far away.  I know, for me, it hurts when I think of how my new sins must hurt my Lord.

What does His burial mean to you?

Week 56 – Part III: Everything to Me

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1:13-14

Last night, we discussed what the resurrection meant to each of us. After pondering my own response for quite some time, I came to the realization that I didn’t have a solid answer and ended up thinking about it the rest of the night and woke up, praying about it this morning. While I agreed with everything the rest of our leadership said, I wanted to formulate what it meant for me personally but couldn’t, at the time.

What does the resurrection mean to me?

It’s the basis for every single thing I believe. It’s the foundation on which I live my life. It’s the common ground between God and me when it comes to my relationship with Him. Without it, there is nothing.

In thinking about that, I wondered what my life would look like without it.







With it – I have life to the full (just as Jesus said in John 10); a life that overflows in abundance; something rich. It’s an immense blessing to have been redeemed because of the resurrection; one that I may never fully understand until He comes again.

Have you experienced that? If not, Jesus invites you to draw near to Him; to believe in Him.

I’d like to leave you all with a song by Avalon: Everything to Me, one they did several years ago – I recall singing it at my younger brother’s confirmation. The lyrics themselves are, in a way, part of my own testimony. Enjoy!

He’s everything to me
He’s more than a story;
More than words on a page of history.
He’s the air that I breathe,
The water I thirst for,
And the ground beneath my feet
He’s everything…everything to me

Week 56 – Part II: Head Knowledge vs. Application

I’ve come to realize that head knowledge just doesn’t cut it anymore. It never does. Life is about applying God’s Word and other concepts/ideas centered on that truth to your life and actually living it out rather than filling up your head with this knowledge and letting it simply sit there.

I’ve experienced a lot of personal development in the last 12 months; since moving to Minneapolis. Exploration of this new city/life/location opened the floodgates on my creativity – I’ve been writing, sketching and painting more than ever. I’ve experienced massive spiritual growth (more than I thought I would), more so since the rest of the Vine’s leadership team arrived – then again, we all have. I now have another girlfriend/group of girls that I meet with regularly. We’re going through (as I’ve mentioned before) Beth Moore’s So Long Insecurity and boy, is it messing with me. The entire series is bringing certain portions of my past – actions that have affected how I live out my life (or rather how tied down I am because of them) and what I can do to get beyond that…all by the power of God. I’m also going through a new financial course and actually learning how to budget (something I think both parents and schools should be teaching their children, stating at a young age – more on that later). My prayer life has risen from its dormancy and breathes with new life and a vibrancy I’ve never experienced. I’ve been reading more – fiction, non-fiction, self-help, motivational…you name it! I’ve also rediscovered the freedom and power forgiveness has and the restoration that can bring to the table.

But it isn’t enough to simply read about these truths, filling up my head with knowledge, or to even return the book to the shelf the moment I feel convicted (believe me, I have!).

I’m called to work through that conviction; God’s Spirit telling me that this is something I need to do in order to have the close relationship I long for and can have with God. I’m called to live out those truths so that others may/will see Him in my life…not me; Him. What good is having the knowledge and wisdom of God’s Word and it never being seen in our lives?  What good is having the head-knowledge and not the heart knowledge?

It’s a call to change my way of thinking; to be made new in Christ. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17) I want to be who He calls me to be – a daughter of the Most High.

One cannot become a Christian on just head knowledge. I had to learn to believe with my heart. In the same manner, we have heard of the power of God, now it is time that we learn to live your life with the power of God by applying our head knowledge to heart application. Satan desires to create doubt but God desires that we clearly understand HIS will and that we live in HIS power on a daily basis. The only way we are going to overcome the doubt Satan is going to throw at we will be by drawing closer to God and learning to hear HIS still small voice. By faith we will overcome doubt.

None of this has been easy. Nothing worth gaining ever is. Will you rise to what God calls us to in your own life? Will you follow Him?

Verses for thought:

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror. James 1:22-23

Week 56 – Part I: Were You There

One ancient hymn has haunted me since I was a child. I remember standing in the pew next to my parents at Good Friday services and listening to the words as they sang to that eerie tune:

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?

Yes, it has haunted me – in a good way. I often find myself humming the tune of this song (found here – Selah’s version) at random and I’ve discovered that I now I have deep, deep love for that song.

And yes, I can heartily sing “Were You There?” and I “tremble, tremble, tremble,” when I think of the events in the last week of Jesus’ life on earth. But I quickly rejoice as I experience the power of his resurrection. God raised him from the dead and I eagerly quote the words that Jesus said to Martha, who was in grief about her brother Lazarus: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he die, he shall live” (John 11:25).

God’s Word helps me to remember that I was there. And I am still there as I walk through this life with the living Jesus in my heart! I proclaim that his promises are true, his love is authentic, his power is available and his peace is overwhelming. Were you there?

Week 55: Dying He Saved Me

Moving on to verse two of Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me) by Casting Crowns (found here), I can’t help but weep for my Savior. As I listened to those words the first time, I was deeply saddened by the fact that my sin, my sin, put Him on that tree; my sin pounded in those nails; my sin…He paid the penalty for my sin. What wretch am I that He would care enough to give Himself in my place?!!?

I couldn’t help the images from Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ flittering through my mind at the following words:

One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected
Bearing ours sins, my Redeemer is He
Hands that healed nations, stretched out on a tree
And took the nails for me

Living He loved me
Dying He saved me
Buried He carried my sins far away
Rising He justified
Freely forever
One day He’s coming – O glorious day!

The Master gave us a way out! Romans 5 reads: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life. (vs. 1, 6, 8, 10 ESV)

Faith – we are forgiven because of our faith in Him, we have access to Him because of this faith.  His shed blood and His dying on that cross paid our debt in full – before we were even born!  He loved us that much, knowing we would sin and in forethought, He provided the sin offering – himself.  When asked why I should be allowed to enter Heaven and be in His presence, the right answer will be “because of my faith in Jesus, my Master and His blood shed for me!”

Week 54 – Part II: Living He Loved Me

One of my favorite songs – an old hymn that’s been redone (found here) – debuted a little under three years ago. I remember ripping the packaging open on Casting Crowns’ newest album – Until the Whole World Hears, putting the disc in and, when it got to track number six, my heart hit the floor in awe and surrender. I couldn’t help hitting the repeat button. Just check out the lyrics, originally written by J. Wilbur Chapman in 1908:

One day when Heaven was filled with His praises
One day when sin was as black as could be
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin
Dwelt among men, my example is He
Word became flesh and the light shined among us
His glory revealed

Living He loved me
Dying He saved me
Buried He carried my sin far away
Rising He justified
Freely forever
One day He’s coming – O Glorious Day!

Being that Easter is less than a week away, I’m opting to focus on the life, death, resurrection and…get this…His triumphant return. What better time to set our hearts on Him? Why not now? Why not always?

May the words inspire you to live your life to the fullest that Christ has offered.

Living He loved me…

Philippians 2:1-11 from the ESV Bible reads:  “… but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

In the three short years of His earthly ministry, He poured out His heart and wisdom for us to have a model to follow.

He lived. And by doing so, He loved you; He loved me; He loved all of us.

Now He lives; loving us the same – yesterday, today, and forever.

The Power and Freedom of Forgiveness – Week 54, Part I

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you”. – Lewis B. Smedes

Forgiveness is not a feeling; it’s not forgetting; it’s not pretending you weren’t hurt; it’s not trusting the person again; it’s not even reconciliation. Forgiveness is a DECISION you make to obey God. No one, not even God can make you forgive someone. You must decide to give up your right to hurt the person back. I forgive those who hurt me because God has forgiven me for the hurts I have caused him. Forgiveness protects the forgiver from himself. Forgiveness cancels a debt like Christ cancelled our debt. God says, “I do the punishing; all I want you to do is the forgiving.” Forgiveness is a process, it takes time, but it is an act of grace that reflects God’s treatment to us. When I forgive, I release God to work directly on the other person.

That recently happened in my own life.

I can count on one hand the number of times individuals have approached me, requesting that forgiveness for some past wrong, hurt, action, etc. God has actually been messing with me majorly in this department…for the last four years (especially since I moved to Minneapolis). All through my childhood and continuing on through college, I both made choices and had the choices of others that affected me negatively. I wrestled with each and every single situation for years.

I refused to let it go; to forgive. I created a barrier between God and me; there were many dark days when I couldn’t even pray. When we don’t forgive we say that what that person did to us is more important than going on with God.

One day during my junior year, I started letting things go. God was opening my eyes to the fact that I won’t have to answer for the actions of others…just my own. Living my life bogged down by unnecessary baggage is no way to live. I was beginning to feel free.

Just before graduation, an old roommate approached me and asked if she could ask me something. I never thought I would hear the words; “Forgive me?” cross her lips. I paused before I answered; only to realize I already had.

Fast forward to today…my girlfriends and I have been trekking through So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore. We’ve each been on an emotional rollercoaster ride since we cracked the binding on the book in October. God has brought to the surface my own insecurities (some of which I wasn’t even aware) and He’s led me down the pathway of forgiveness.

In doing so, I’ve started to see restoration in the relationship I have with my dad; even in those of some old friends…people I haven’t talked to in a long time. I’ve found myself feeling more complete (in Him); freer.

This past weekend, I was able to get together with a woman who is near and dear to my heart. We discussed a plethora of items, including a series of incidents from my teenage years.

When you truly forgive, the love of God flows freely in everything you do. When your decisions are not controlled by the other person’s behavior, you have forgiven. When you’re free from the pain, anger and hatred towards that person and find yourself experiencing God’s peace, you have truly forgiven.

Forgiveness has the power to redeem; to renew; and to restore a person/relationship.

In looking back on it now, it’s not about the quantity of occurrences; it’s the quality of the relationship that was restored through the very act of forgiving.  

I’ve often heard the old adage “Forgive and forget,” and have found the latter to be quite impossible. While we can never truly forget (until the day the Kingdom returns) what has been done, we can choose to forgive, move past the bitterness and look for the growth experienced after having gone through it. And, if you happen to be blessed enough to receive forgiveness from someone you’ve hurt, bask in the freedom of it and praise God for your sense of newness, and (if not the relationship) that you can now be restored!

Week 53: Beyond Numbers

(The Lord said) “…I have called you by name; you are Mine!” Isaiah 43:1b

It’s officially been two years since Rick invited me to join them on this journey. It’s been one year since I packed up my life and moved 250 miles to a city I had up until then only visited. Now I call her home.

And yesterday marked the first service for the Vine. We had discussed some time ago (and again with the last week) that we didn’t want to be a church of numbers. We want to care for each and every single individual that walks through that door. We want to know them and be known in return. That’s how God created us…to be more than a number.

I once heard a story:

The census taker was in a hurry when he rushed up to the lady’s house.

He curtly asked the woman about the number of children in the home. She started out, “Well, let me think. There’s Janet, and Dewayne, and Ciara, and Sibyl.”

Immediately, the census taker interrupted, “Never mind the names. Please, lady, just give me the number of children you have!” It was the wrong thing to say. The mother indignantly replied, “My children aren’t numbers. My children all have names.”

That’s the way it is today. We are constantly bombarded with numbers. The date. The Mac mailing address at the office if anyone where to reach me. My employee ID is a number. I used to write out checks and the clerk would ask as for my driver’s license number. We fill out application after application for a number of things and they always ask for our social security numbers. Some would argue that you are identified by your credit score number. I go to the doctor and give my name, but all they want is the ID number on my insurance card. We use a number system to keep kids straight at daycares and children’s ministries across the nation (and for good reason).

But, aren’t you tired of just being a number?

There’s good news. The most important Person/Being in your life counts you more than a number. To the Lord, you’re a human being; you’re His son or daughter; you’re His.

We are real people. We all have real sins. And we are in desperate need of a real Savior. That Savior is Jesus Christ. He came into this world for you. He came for me. And He gave it all up to save you; to save me.

For that, He deserves unending praise, glory and thanks.