Lenten Devo 20: For Thine is the Kingdom

**We were tasked with writing some devotionals alongside Ruth for the Lenten season. Our theme for these 40 days is The Lord’s Prayer. This is about the phrase “For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever”. It fell on Day 37 of this series.**

Reading: Matthew 26:50-54
“For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

This is such a powerful phrase.  It makes me reflect on the power of the kingdom of God.  It makes me think about the glory of God.

I find myself thinking about the time in Matthew 26:50-54 there is this riveting scene which takes place just before Jesus surrenders himself up to be sacrificed on the cross for our sins.

The guards have come to arrest Jesus, and Peter the rock draws out his sword to defend his master.  Maybe it was the first time Peter had actually handled a sword, or maybe it was for a different reason, but Peter strikes a blow with that sword and chops off the ear of one of the high priests servants.  The servant was probably unarmed.  Jesus rebukes Peter, bends down to pick up the man’s bloody ear, and then reattaches it.  Let me say that again.  He reattached the man’s ear.  If this section of physical healing isn’t dripping with the power of heaven, then maybe what Jesus says next is.  Jesus says “Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

In a Roman legion there are 6,000 soldiers.  If Jesus could easily call 12 legions of 6,000 that would be 72,000 angels.  And Jesus makes that sound easy!

The day Jesus was born in a manger was the day that Heaven stopped threatening to break through, and began to overflow into this world.  Ever since that day the power of heaven has been shining through the Holy Spirit, and we should take comfort in the fact that God’s kingdom is one of power and glory!

Prayer Focus: Today let’s pray for those involved in bowls.

Lenten Devo 19: Deliver Us From Evil

**We were tasked with writing some devotionals alongside Ruth for the Lenten season. Our theme for these 40 days is The Lord’s Prayer. This is about the phrase “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. It fell on Day 35 of this series.**

Reading: 2 Corinthians 1:10

He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
When we pray The Lord’s Prayer, what does it mean when we ask for God to deliver us from evil?
First off, this line in the prayer shows us that there is indeed evil in this world. But before we get disheartened, let’s be encouraged because it also shows us that God has the power to deliver us from it!
To be delivered from something means to be saved, rescued, set free, liberated, released or redeemed.
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians that when Jesus died on the cross, we were delivered from our sins. Next he says that He will deliver us AGAIN. And if that doesn’t quell our fears, Paul states finally that God will CONTINUE to deliver us. We are reminded in this scripture that when we encounter evil or deadly peril in this world, we know that God will rescue us over and over again.
At district assembly this weekend, we were encouraged one evening to pray for what God has promised us. In the Bible, God has promised to set us free from our sins, so let’s pray for God to do that work in our lives.
AC

Prayer Focus: Join me today in lifting up all the Nazarene pastors and their families.

Lenten Devo 18: Temptation

**We were tasked with writing some devotionals alongside Ruth for the Lenten season. Our theme for these 40 days is The Lord’s Prayer. This is about the phrase “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. It fell on Day 34 of this series.**

Reading: Ephesians 6:11-20

It is important to understand a few aspects of temptation when we are saying the Lord’s prayer.  Oscar Wilde was on to something when he said,

“I can resist everything except temptation,”

Martin Luther also made a good point when he said,

“God delights in our temptations and yet hates them. He delights in them when they drive us to prayer; He hates them when they drive us to despair.”

As we face temptations everyday, they can be the catalyst that draws us deeper into the fold of God, or they can drive us to despair.  Let us become a people of prayer so that despair is not the natural reaction.  Let us become a people of prayer so that we naturally come before God when temptations arise.

Erwin Lutzer, who is the senior pastor at Moody Church in Chicago once wrote, “Temptation is not a sin; its a call to battle.” This is why Ephesians 6:11-20 is such an important scripture to know.

I remember the first time I was introduced to someone called a “prayer warrior”, it was this elderly woman who looked like the last person I would have called a “warrior”.  I found out later that she truly was a prayer warrior and that she would spend hours at a time on her knees in prayer.  It was mind-blowing to me how faithful she was in prayer.  So as we go into the battle of temptation, let us arm ourselves, and train as “prayer warriors”.

Today lets pray fervently for district assembly and those who are receiving their ordinations.

JC

Lenten Devo 17: Lead Us Not Into Temptation

**We were tasked with writing some devotionals alongside Ruth for the Lenten season. Our theme for these 40 days is The Lord’s Prayer. This is about the phrase “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. It fell on Day 32 of this series.**

Reading: James 1:13


“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

James 1:13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one”

It also says in in Matthew 4:1 that “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil”

So God does not do the tempting. God does not put evil desires in our hearts (for he can have no evil desires in his heart)—but he does bring us into the presence of many tests and temptations. “A man’s steps are from the Lord” (Proverbs 20:24).

So as we face these trials and temptations may we remember this illustration:

A great sculptor stood before a massive slab of marble.  He took out his biggest hammer and began to beat at the slab.  Then he took out a smaller hammer, and a chisel and began to take out more exact pieces of marble.  Over time a masterpiece began to emerge.  The sculptor finally took out a very fine brush and began to smooth away all the rough edges, and the lingering dust.

We are like the slab of marble, and as we begin to be shaped more like Jesus God uses different tools.  Sometimes the trials are like the big hammer and they may hurt, but more shaping is done during these times.  Sometimes they are like the fine brush, which have a very exact purpose.  Each one of these tools makes us look a little more like Jesus.

Lets hold on and trust that God knows what he is doing through all things!

Today join me in praying for Rod Green, missionary in Lebanon as he prepares to speak at District assembly today.

Lenten Devo 16: As We Forgive Our Debtors

**We were tasked with writing some devotionals alongside Ruth for the Lenten season. Our theme for these 40 days is The Lord’s Prayer. This is about the phrase “Forgive us or debts, as we forgive our debtors”. It fell on Day 30 of this series.**

Reading: Ephesians 4:32

Forgiveness can be really difficult. Sometimes it seems like it would just be easier to hold a grudge against someone rather than forgive them. Today I want to share an amazing story of forgiveness.
Corrie Ten Boom was a Christian woman who lived in Holland during World War II. This is when Nazi Germany persecuted and killed Jews as well as anyone who stood up for them. Corrie’s family owned and operated a longstanding watch shop and it had become a well-known fixture of their city. The Ten Boom family was known for their kindness and as the situation for Dutch Jews became desperate, their family shop became an underground hub for finding hiding places for their Jewish friends. After helping hundreds of Jews escape to safety, the Ten Booms were caught and taken to concentration camps. Even in the horrible conditions, Corrie was encouraged by her sister’s unshakable optimism and faith. They worked hard to bring the comforting Word of God to the women within the nightmarish camps. While in the camps, Corrie’s sister and father both died and then she herself was released due to a clerical error right before she was set to be executed.
She then devoted her life to spreading a message of love and forgiveness to both former prisoners and Nazi soldiers. The people who imprisoned her and her family never asked her for forgiveness, and yet she was able to offer it to them anyway. Corrie Ten Boom was the embodiment of forgiveness.

This story is so inspiring and challenges us to have a similar mentality of forgiveness.

Corrie was able to forgive, because she knew that Christ had first forgiven her.

AC

Prayer Focus: Join me in giving thanks to God for all He has done.

Lenten Devo 15: Forgive Us Our Debts

**We were tasked with writing some devotionals alongside Ruth for the Lenten season. Our theme for these 40 days is The Lord’s Prayer. This is about the phrase “Forgive us or debts, as we forgive our debtors”. It fell on Day 29 of this series.**

Reading: Matthew 6:14-15

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Easier said than done, am I right? Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Evidently forgiveness has more positive impacts than spiritual.  There is scientific proof that forgiveness is good for the body as well as the soul.

Forgiveness is good for your health. It’s a fact. It turns out that revenge or “getting even” is not nearly as good for you as you might have been led to believe. The evidence from the research studies is compelling about the benefits that forgiveness brings. Those who forgive have better physical health and better mental health too. They have better outcomes from diseases like cancer. Even their blood pressure is lower. To put it simply, their response to stress is less distressed and so they report higher levels of subjective happiness.

I remember I was once struggling with holding onto some hurt and anger against another person.  I asked my good friend if I needed to forgive right away, or if it would be possible to gradually forgive. I’ll never forget what he said, “The funny thing about forgiveness is that it comes from the Holy Spirit. The mark of a Christian, the thing that makes us different is that the Holy Spirit gives us the power to forgive right away.” That was a hard thing for me to hear, but the Lord has given me a great gift in the Holy Spirit. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Today, let’s pray, and meditate on each word of the Lord’s Prayer.

Peace

Lenten Devo 14: Forgiveness

**We were tasked with writing some devotionals alongside Ruth for the Lenten season. Our theme for these 40 days is The Lord’s Prayer. This is about the phrase “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”. It fell on Day 27 of this series.**

Reading: Psalm 103:12

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Psalm 103:12 says as far as the east is from the west, so far he has removed our transgressions from us

Lets rejoice at this! How wonderful that God has done this for us!

I recently read a piece by C.S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory, where he writes about the difference between forgiving and excusing:

Forgiveness says ‘Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.’ But excusing says, ‘I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it; you weren’t really to blame.’ If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive. In that sense, forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites.

This really got me thinking about how often I come to God and say I want “forgiveness”, but in my heart I am actually making excuses for the sin that I committed.  I am trying to justify it in some way. The problem is that if I am simply asking to be excused, then the parts that are inexcusable won’t go away.  Excuses are simply a way for me to feel better about my mistakes, a way for me to satisfy myself.  The only one who truly needs to be satisfied is God.

Let’s seek to be forgiven instead of excused.

Join me in praying for the areas of your life that need reconciliation.

Comfort Zones

When we tell people where we’ve been and where we want to go we almost ALWAYS get this question: “So what do you have against the U.S.?”

Sometimes I give a snarky response but generally I’m feeling kind and I say something sweet like, “Oh we just really like to travel and see other parts of the world.”

But the real answer is more complex. First of all, we have nothing against the U.S. We may not love certain aspects of life there, but we both grew up there and our family lives there. In daily conversations, it is “home”. We are so grateful for the freedoms given to us just because we can call ourselves “American”. Most of all, we love it because God chose to have us be born and grow up there! If we hate our country of origin, we doubt God’s plan for us.

The real answer is that I like to get out of my comfort zone. Being an introvert, this is hard for me to admit. The truth is that I feel God’s presence when I’m forced to rely on His guidance. When I wonder if I’m getting on the right bus or jumping in the right taxi? When I’m trying to find my way in a city that is not my home? When I wonder if I’ll get a warm shower this week? When I wonder if anyone will understand my American accent in their native tongue? When I see people who literally have to trust in Him for their daily bread? When I see brokenness all around me and then feel it for myself? In those times of struggle, I feel His presence more clearly than ever. And I love it.

I need to feel His presence or I start thinking, “What am I living for?”

When we get farther away from ourselves, we get closer to Him.

Change, and the uprooting that often occurs in our lives is a blessing. It allows us to rely on God and realize that WE are really not the ones in charge. What a relief!

I see God constantly in the newness of life. New jobs, new cities, a new country, new roles, new babies.

Have you ever said, “I have never heard God speak to me.” Or do you feel like God doesn’t show Himself to you? Maybe, like me, God is asking you to get out of your comfort zone a little and take a step away from yourself. I’m willing to bet He’s inviting you to see Him more clearly.

 

Kansas City airport, January 2015. Heading to Northern Ireland!

Kansas City airport, January 2015. Heading to Northern Ireland!

Our life, packed into these bags (turns out we brought way more than necessary anyway!)

Our life, packed into these bags (turns out we brought way more than necessary anyway!)

 

Easter Tuesday at Castlewellan Forest Park

It’s still “Easter week” here in Northern Ireland and that means many people are off work and school! This has been fun for us because we’ve been able to spend more quality time with friends. Yesterday we joined a convoy of cars driving to Castlewellan Forest Park in Castlewellan. Driving from Larne, it took us about an hour and a half to get there. It was an absolutely gorgeous day so we had a beautiful drive! We journeyed through Belfast to get there but also traveled on beautiful country roads. We saw green hills, mountains and sheep, and passed by lovely cottages.

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Once we parked (£5 per car), we walked down the hill and folded out our blankets on the huge stretch of green. We were right next to the lake and in view of the castle too. Such a gorgeous setting in the Mourne mountains! We were able to get one of the scattered picnic tables but we had blankets for the ground too. We didn’t go inside the castle but apparently you can stay there overnight in their dorm-like rooms. Various conferences and retreats are hosted there.

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My 2 year old loved watching the dogs run around and jump in the water, and sticking his own feet in the water too. There are a few steps down into the lake where you can sit and play in the water if you want. We saw several people kayaking in kayaks they had rented at the visitor centre. (I want to do that on our next visit!) My toddler also enjoyed flying our kite, kicking around a ball, and walking along the path to collect sticks! There’s a 1-mile trail around the lake and you can even rent bikes to cycle it. This portion is very buggy/bike-friendly!

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The Peace Maze, on the other hand, is not so buggy-friendly. People did have them but it’s a gravel path and very rocky. My 2 year old rode on my husband’s shoulders and I wore the wee man in my onya carrier. The sign said that most people get through the maze in about 40 minutes but we lucked out and finished it in 25! There is a peace bell at the end that my toddler enjoyed ringing. The maze was lovely and called the “Peace Maze” because it represents the path to a peaceful future for Northern Ireland.

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At the end of the maze there is a nice wooden playground that was filled with kids on this busy Easter Tuesday!

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There are toilets and changing facilities near the car park so use those before you head down to the lake/castle area. If you get hungry or thirsty there is a cafe on site too. We definitely want to visit again if we have another free day with beautiful weather!

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