Bekah's Heart, Books

Dinner with Jesus

Reading a book by Barbara Broncroft today, these words captured my heart:

“Being graciously received when we bring our sin to Christ strengthens our faith in the efficacy of the cross. We experience its powerful effects each time God welcomes us; we trust more deeply each time he responds with mercy and grace. As we experience his gracious welcome, we can hear Christ’s words to us without fear: 

“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:19–20). 

Welcome… Grace… Trust… Mercy…  These are  often the things that come first to mind when we realize we’ve messed up or are holding onto hurt and pain.  If you’re anything like me, at the first hint of darkness or sin, my default is to either ignore the feeling or try to justify it. We do this either by distracting ourselves or by looking at all the “truly evil” things around us in the news and world and “comfort” ourselves with the lie that “I’m not really that bad.”   But the reality for all of us is that we are MESSED UP!  A speaker I heard the other day said it this way:

“The problem of evil isn’t that it is so pervasive ‘out there’ but that it’s so deep in our hearts as well.” – Ravi Zacharias

Going back to the Scripture in the first quote, I’m pretty sure I had heard both of those verses before, but never thought about them in connection with each other.  The zealous repentance of verse 19 isn’t just there to make us feel awful about ourselves.  No, it’s an invitation into the deep, beautiful relationship with Jesus of verse 20. The author of the Bol I was reading continued:

The Spirit’s work to show us our sin and need for Christ is born out of love. He urges us to be zealous when our sin is revealed. In the vernacular, the Spirit urges us to hard-core repenting. He wants us to get busy so that when Christ knocks, we will be quick to open our doors to him instead of hiding in the closet. Jesus knocks on our doors because he desires to come in and sit with us for a meal—a most friendly, intimate, and satisfying encounter. Jesus offers us himself—he wants a relationship with us.” – Barbara Bancroft

As hard as it is to let pain, hurt, and sin be revealed in the Light of Christ, I don’t want to be found hiding in the closet.  

Jesus, come in, let’s have dinner. 

  

Lent

Put Jesus On Like a Wedding Dress

Last night at lifegroup we all found ourselves in awe of how well our passage for the night (James 4) tied in with Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. We talked about the desires that battle with in us (vs 1-3), submitting ourselves to God and resisting the devil (vs 7), about grieving our sins and being humble before God (vs 8-10), about being ourselves and not judging others (vs 11-12), and remembering that we really are nothing but God loves us anyway (vs 13-17).

My personal favorite moment of the night was when we got into a discussion based off of verses 4-6 about how God is a jealous God… how he wants ALL of us and doesn’t want (or deserve) to be second to ANYONE or ANYTHING.  It was hard for us to really grasp our minds around God’s jealousy because in our frame of reference, it’s hard to see a time when jealousy isn’t sin.  As we searched for answers we landed at one point in 2 Corinthians 11:2-4 where we are reminded that we, the church, are Christ’s bride… he our one husband.  Between these verses and the original passage in James calling us “adulterous” people, I remembered one of my favorite songs, “Wedding Dress” by Derek Webb.

As I pulled up the song and we listened to it last night, I was in awe again of how fitting this song is for Lent.  It talks about how we really have committed adultery with so many things around us, yet, God makes us knew again… white… like a wedding dress and invites us to run down the aisle to Him.   WARNING: This song does use a few words to describe us that are a bit stronger (yet very biblical) than “adulterous people”.   As blunt as he is in this song, the only offense I found myself taking was because it’s so true… we often sell ourselves out to things and people and forget our first love, Jesus.  It’s a great reminder of how big God’s grace is as verse 6 of James 4 states:

“But he gives us more grace…”

I invite you today to join me in listening to this song and remembering what awful, sinful people we are… and then, remembering that God gives more grace… grace bigger than any thing we could ever do… grace bigger than any thing we might avoid doing… grace bigger than ANYTHING.  It covers us, pure white, like a wedding dress.  And even when we go and get that wedding dress all dirty, he clothes us and cleans us again and again and again with a grace that is greater.

 

Uncategorized

Please… Don’t just say, “It’s Okay.”

“Sorry for the way I acted the other day.”
“Don’t worry about.”

 

“Sorry for not remembering your birthday.”
“No big deal.”

 

“Sorry for hurting you.”
”It’s okay.”

 

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So often if someone apologizes or asks for forgiveness we just simply say something like “It’s okay” or “Don’t worry about it.” 

“It’s no big deal!” we reply.  

 

Well, when we respond in that way, we’re right; it really is no big deal! 

 

But as I had a conversation with a friend tonight I began to wonder … what if it’s supposed to be a big deal? 

 

When we reply with the “Don’t worry about it” attitude, the action just slips by forgotten and maybe even just excused, allowing that person to do it again.  However, when we reply with the words, “I forgive you”, a beautiful thing happens… we offer grace. 

 

As strange as those three words may feel crossing our tongues, they are truly life-giving.  They don’t let the misdeed slip by, but they also don’t condemn and pour on guilt.  Instead, those three not-so-simple words say, “What happened was wrong, but there is grace.”  

 

I saw first hand tonight how hard it can be to replace our normal response of “it’s okay” with “I forgive you”, but I also saw first hand, from the giving and receiving side, what a beautiful thing it is when we do!

 

Sometimes it just seems simpler to forget an offence, but why just forget when we have a chance to forgive? It doesn’t fit in our culture.  It doesn’t seem natural, but oh it’s a beautiful thing!

 

I plan to try to do this more and more in my life.  Will you join me in trying this out too? 

Crossroads, Youth Ministry

Please Don’t Underestimate Them!

I read this yesterday as the Facebook status of a high school girl and got her permission to share it here: 

I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I’m a virgin. I’m in high school, and I will not lose my self-respect just to "fit in".

Wow.

And the world says there’s no hope for this generation?!? 

Well, I think this girl just chose to stand up and say to ‘the world’, "YOU’RE WRONG!"

The coolest part about this, is that I know this girl is not alone!  Whether others are boldly posting their stance as a Facebook status or not, they state it with their lives!

Don’t underestimate our teens.  PLEASE!

Instead, remind them that they are beautiful and wonderful and creative and talented… that they are worth loving… just the way they are. 

Encourage them to refuse to change themselves to fit a mold and rather to just be who God created them to be.  Love them when they make mistakes, because we all do, and offer forgiveness.  I invite you to join me in showing them the respect they deserve.

31 Days of Hope

Hope {day 29} – “Were” … a Hopeful word?

So, I was getting ready to write my blog post for today… Day 29.  But then I read the blog post of a friend and decided that instead of writing today, I’d link to his post.  While the original topic was about his class yesterday, he had some interesting thoughts about some scripture that may not seem full of hope at first, but in reality, is packed full with it!

 

Check out his post by clicking here:

A Snippet from School- Trying to be the best student that I can be

 

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Lord, we thank you that we WERE filled with sin and everything that separate us from you.  It sounds weird to say that, but it’s so true… You’ve made us new.. and for that we give you praise!  Help us to live new lives, free from guilt or shame of what we once WERE.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

Crossroads, First Trinity, Internship Highlights

Collision: Mend the Broken

Well we did it!  We survived the first “road trip” planned by Bekah. :)  As promised yesterday, I wanted to share a little bit about my experience this weekend at Acquire the Fire in Cleveland, OH with 16 teens and 2 other awesome adult leaders.  The theme this year for this conference was Mend the Broken.

 

DSCF7078 I guess I’ll just go through the weekend chronologically to give you an idea of what we experienced and learned.

 

The first session on Friday night started with worship led by a band called School Of WorshipThey led us in worship all weekend and it was always an amazing time to just enter into God’s presence and give him praise before hearing Mike Guzzardo share God’s Word with us.  FridayDSCF7088 night Mike shared with us that our lives are kind of like broken down cars that need refurbished.  First we have to let God take us out of the junkyard so that he can begin to take us a part and clean every little part of us…. it takes time and he has to get into every little deep place, but then, once we’re clean on the inside, he can begin to rebuild us in a way where we can think and live how he originally intended us. 

 

The night ended with a Newsboys Concert during which we got to be a part of the video recording for a music video.  They said they only use a live audience DSCF7060for a music video once every 2 or 3 years and they picked Acquire the Fire- Cleveland, OH to be that audience.  Watch for their video for the song “Miracles” coming out soon and see if you see any of First Trinity Crossroads group in  there!

 

After that we headed back to Lutheran High School West in Rocky Road, OH which was gracious enough to let us use their facilities to sleep and shower this weekend!  A youth group from Hosanna Lutheran Church nearby also joined us Friday night at Lutheran West.

Saturday morning started bright and early (for high schoolers) at 8:00 am and was broken into three sessions all including worship, a message, and part of a drama that continued all throughout the day. 

 

The first session Saturday tackled some difficult issues that teenagers (and all of us) face today regarding pornography, sex before marriage, same sex attraction and more. Teens were challenged to join “The Resistance” when they struggle with these or any sins in their lives committing to purity in heart, mind and body.  An organization called CovenantEyes.com also provided students with a 30-day trial of an internet filtering and accountability software that they produce.

 

The afternoon session was about failure and how we deal with it.  We were reminded that just because we’re Christians doesn’t mean we won’t fail (see Proverbs 24:15) it means that God helps us get up when we fail and that we don’t have to be defined by our failures. 

The afternoon also included 2 concerts, one by Young Joshua and the other by Jimmy Needham

 

After dinner we went back for the last session which was about how our world tries to get us to focus on The Me-World .. my problems, my stuff, my fun.   God calls us in our new refurbished  life to focus on the HE-World …. the things of God’s heart… whether that’s serving your neighbor next door or going overseas, we all can start now making changes in our lives to shift and “get away from ME”.

 

Our weekend wrapped up by attending St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Chesterfield, OH on our way back to NY.  They were very welcoming, had a beautiful sanctuary and there was some AMAZING scenery on our drive  between the high way and the church.  Think, curvy hilly roads with gorgeous houses lined with trees still dressed in autumn colors yet covered with snow.  BEAUTIFUL!  Definitely added meaning to the term “scenic route”. 

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Overall it was an AWESOME weekend filled with fun and, I pray, spiritual growth.  Those of you from First Trinity, take a chance to ask one of the kids about it… them sharing with you is one thing that can help continue the growth that began this weekend. Thanks again for your prayers and support!

 

 

 

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Here’s a video summary put out by the Acquire the Fire organization. (You can see some of our group members at around 1:42).

31 Days of Hope

Hope {Day 19} – Made New

I’ve heard the stories again and again.

Each one so distinct and unique, yet, so similar at the core.

Something happened-

Many things maybe.

Something so horrifying it rarely,

if ever,

gets any attention in conversation.

Yet, it gets all the attention in the heart.

 

Neglect.

Rape.

Abuse.

 

The death of a loved one.

The death of a marriage.

The death of a friendship.

 

An eating disorder.

Depression.

Self-injury.

 

A monstrous mistake.

A horrific memory.

A crippling fear.

 

“I’m not good enough.”

“Will I ever change?”

 

The shame is too much.

The guilt is too heavy.

 

Forgotten.

Alone.

Afraid.

 

Whether it was “their fault” or not, the pain obviously runs deep as the story eventually flows out. But it’s not just “them.” 

 

It’s me

and

it’s YOU. 

 

We all have had those secret things buried deep in our hearts… those times when we seriously wonder…

 

Is there any hope?

 

Can God REALLY do anything with this messed up life of mine?!? 

Through the darkness comes a marvelous Light responding:

“YES! THERE IS HOPE!  I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW!

No matter what mess you’ve gotten yourself into… no matter what anyone has done to you… no matter how much sin has messed up your life and messed up your heart, I can, and will, through Christ, make something BEAUTIFUL out of your life! 

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

 

Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

 

Isaiah 43:19 See I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Things
by Gungor

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll even find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

 

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new