Devotional

One Thing

You probably know the story pretty well.  Jesus shows up to his friends’ house for a visit.  Martha runs off and begins preparing the meal in the kitchen.  Mary goes and listens to Jesus.  Martha gets mad, and starts complaining to Jesus.  Instead of agreeing, Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better…” 

 

 

I think I’ve probably heard this story over a hundred times.  That’s not to mention times it’s come up in conversations such as, “Well, there goes ‘Martha’ again.”  Or, “I sure do wish I could be like Mary more and just sit at Jesus’ feet.”

 

 

So when I began to read this story this morning I almost just skimmed right though it thinking, “Been there, read that, keep on going.”  But something caught my attention.  A four word phrase:

one thing is needed”

 

 

“What is that one thing?” I wondered.

Well, Jesus of course. 

 

 

And I, again, went back to thinking about the many lessons/sermons I’ve heard, and books I’ve read talking about how we just need to sit at Jesus’ feet.

 

 

But today, I had a different train of thought with this story.  Go with me here for a minute.  So, it’s kind of obvious that the “one thing” is Jesus right.  So he’s saying, “I am the only thing you need.” 

 

 

I thought about it maybe as an invitation to Mary almost of saying, “Okay Mary, I’m all that’s needed to get everything done.  So, right come sit with me in the living room for a while so we can attend to what needs to happen here.  Then, when we’re done here, I’ll still the be the “One Thing” needed to help get everything done in the kitchen.  And then, when we finish there, the beds need to be made up, right.  Yes, even in making the beds, I’ll be the “One Thing” needed there as well.  Just follow me.  I’m all that’s needed and I’ll show you how you can help me accomplish the tasks before us.”

 

 

Yes, it seems that there are definitely good lessons to be learned about simply sitting at Jesus’ feet instead of being “worried” and “upset” about the many things to be done.  But maybe, just maybe, if we just realized that in the midst of those “many things,”  Jesus was more than enough, we wouldn’t be so worried and upset anyway. 

 

 

So as we head towards Christmas next week and the “many things” start to become “TOO many things” remember to pause and turn to the “One” who is more than enough for all our “things.”  Ask him what the next step is in today… and then the next… and then the next … and then the next.  And soon, we realize that the many things have been accomplished as we just focused on the One Thing most needed.

 

 

Only One thing is needed. 

Choose what is better. 

It will not be taken from you.

 

 

(I sure hope you were able to follow my thought process there.)

Blessing

Unable To Count That High

The leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and more fills the fridge.

Pies and cookies line the buffet table ready to be eaten as soon as our stomachs can hold another bit of food.

Bodies of friends lay asleep in the living room buried under blankets, pillows, and other remnants of last night’s sleepover.

 

I sit at my kitchen table…

overwhelmed…

in awe…

humbled…

grateful…

 

How gracious is our God!

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Awesome God, I can’t help but pause and bring you thanks and praise for this day. 

For a new day to be alive and live in you. 

For an amazing time of worship this morning with Your Family, focusing us as we began this day of giving thanks.

For beautiful friends to spend time with and celebrate with this week. 

For big meals… and small meals… reminders of your provision.

For a house and food and family.

For grace… freedom… life.

For the fact that as I begin to “count my blessings,” even just in today,… I suddenly realize, I can’t count that high!

I give you thanks.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Crossroads, First Trinity, Internship Highlights

Crossroads CONNECT – Fighting Satan’s Lies

Last week at Crossroads CONNECT (First Trinity’s Thursday Night Activity for High School Students) we talked about the lies Satan tells us. 

After playing a game of Jenga we connected the game with our lives.   The lies Satan tells us and the things he tempts us to do don’t seem like such a big deal… kind of like one block removed from the Jenga tower.  But, as Satan tells us lie afte lie after lie, we’re not who we were originally created to be.   And eventually, we’re so broken we crumble to pieces. 

 

 

 

Thankfully we have a God who sent his Son to dwell among us and build us back up the way he originally created us to be.

As part of our discussion last week the high school students identified common lies that Satan tells us or people who are struggling to believe in God, such as:

“You’re not good enough.”
“God could never forgive you for THAT sin!”
“God doesn’t love me.”

Then they wrote down the Truth about that situation, found Bible verses to support the truth, and wrote a prayer they could pray whenever they felt like Satan’s lie was actually real.

I thought I’d share just a few examples of what they came up with.  They really did an awesome job!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lie: God is just a thing of the past.
Truth: God is alive and present, with us TODAY!

  • Matthew 28:20 – “I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”
  • Psalm 46:1 – “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

 God, help me know that you are always with me, through everything I see every day.  In Your Name I pray, Amen.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 Lie: God is causing these bad things to happen in your life.
Truth:  God is good.  We may not understand what is happening in life, but He is good.

  • Genesis 50:20 – “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
  • Psalm 107:1 – “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His loving kindness is everlasting.”

Dear Lord, I don’t understand why bad things happen in life and why I struggle.  Remind me in these hard times of the simple truth that YOU ARE GOOD.   Even when that’s hard for me to believe, help me know it is true.  You can take the things people and Satan intend for harm in my life and make them into something good.  Be with me as I wait to see the good you have in these hard situation in my life right now. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lie: If you don’t have _______ (a boyfriend, a girlfriend, the newest clothes/ipod, etc.) something is wrong with you.
Truth: God has made you perfect just the way you are.  You are completely whole in Him.

  • Colossians 2:9-10 – “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ…”
  • Genesis 1:31 – “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good….”

Jesus, it’s hard for me to look around and see everyone around me that has ______ (a boy/girlfriend, the newest clothes/ipod, etc.).  Help me to see that you are more than enough for me… that you have made me perfect and whole just the way I am and that I can find who I am in You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

31 Days of Hope

Hope {Day 28} – My Hope by Matt Redman

A beautiful song by Matt Redman called My Hope. ENJOY!

 

 

My Hope by Matt Redman

Verse 1

My hope is built on nothing else
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly live on Jesus name

 

Chorus

When the mountains are falling
when the waters are rising
I shall be safe in you
Through the nations are quaking
Every kingdom be shaken
Still I will rest in you

 

Verse 2

When darkness seems to hide your face
I rest on Your unchanging grace
In every high and storming gate
My anchor holds within the veil

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”. 

 77112_1553872458087_1573456026_31318919_3166107_n

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!

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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 25} – Let Hope Arise!

Hello again!

Wow! What a great weekend it was with the First Trinity Crossroads Group at Acquire the Fire!  I hope to make a special post tomorrow about our adventures in addition to blogging about hope… so watch for that.

 

For today, I wanted to look quickly at one of the worship songs we sang many times this weekend.  The song is called “With Everything” by Hillsong and here are the words to the chorus:

Let hope rise,
And darkness tremble
In Your holy light,
And every eye will see
Jesus, our God,
Great and mighty to be praised.

When we first sang this song this weekend I was in such a state of awe.  These six lines describe my heart and my prayer… the very essence of what prompted me to even start blogging for 31 days about Hope…

 

I saw people that desperately needing hope.  And so I began to pray that hope would rise up in their lives.

As God shines light to the darkest places of our lives, it removes our need to fear and tremble because darkness itself is trembling in His holy light.

It can be a crazy thing to pour out your heart day after day onto a blog, but I feel as if when we’re able to share the things God is bringing to light in our lives, it gives other people the courage to let God shine light in their lives as well… they can see Jesus as he offers them hope.

 

So this is my prayer this week as I wrap up this 31 day adventure into the heart of Hope:

That true hope would arise in my own heart giving me the courage to share what You, God, are bringing to light from my darkness.  As I share, Lord, may all who read this words see Jesus.  In everything, may You get ALL the glory and the praise!

 

Let hope rise,
And darkness tremble
In Your holy light,
And every eye will see
Jesus, our God,
Great and mighty to be praised.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A thought to take with you: I’ve decided to blog for 31 days about hope… it what ways, big or small, can you help hand out some hope to people this week? 

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

Bekah's Heart, Devotional, Joy

Joyfullyblessed… with HOPE!

Hope.  We use this word so often that I think it has lost some of it’s meaning. 
“I hope it doesn’t rain today.”
“I hope ‘such-n-such’ sports team wins their game.”
”I hope I did okay on my test/work project/etc.”

 

But truly, hope is a much greater concept.   When we really look at hope, we realize that often it is all we have… and that is is more than enough… that is, when our hope is found in something bigger than if someone notices our new outfit or we succeed in whatever we do today.

 

To not have hope is truly a horrible thing… a scary thing… a DANGEROUS thing.  BUT to have true hope, is beautiful beyond words.

“God did this so that… we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. …” (Hebrews 6:18-19a)

An anchor.  Something stable.  Isn’t that what we all really want in life… isn’t that what we all really need.  HOPE.  And not just some flimsy half-hope as if wishing for something that probably won’t happen.  In this crazy, chaotic, painful, confusing world, we need hope that anchors us to the Unchangeable, Immovable, ROCK… Jesus.

“… [Hope] enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf….” (Hebrews 6:19b-20a) 

Just as an anchor on a ship holds the boat firm in the wind and the waves, this anchor, hope, settles in to the deep love of Jesus and holds us firm and secure no matter what life brings.  What a beautiful picture to know that we can set our hope in Jesus.

 

I could end here but my heart yearns to go further… what about those who have no hope or have tried to place that anchor in things other than Jesus.

 

Have you ever known such a person?  I have.  The darkness in their souls goes so deep.  Their pain becomes unbearable and hope is “lost”.  Maybe you not only know that person, maybe you ARE that person.  And I guess the question begs itself… how is hope restored?

 

And strangely enough, on this chilly October day, my thoughts shift to a well-known Christmas carol, “O Holy Night”:

Long lay the world In sin and error pining,
Til He appear’d And the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope The weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks A new and glorious morn.

Pining.  Longing.  Yearning. To hunger.  To ache.

 

I believe this really describes that person who has “lost” hope.  I believe this really describes each and every one of us at one point in time or another as we are caught in our “sin and error”… we’re left longing for more.

‘TIL HE APPEAR’D! 

 

That’s the key… THAT’S the transition… that’s… the HOPE!

 

Only when we see Jesus can our soul feel its worth.  “I’m worth something.”  That’s what the the hopeless soul needs to be reminded of.  Suddenly a thrill of hope appears and not just hope… but JOY as well… suddenly breaking through the deep shadows of a soul comes a newness… restoration… LIFE.

 

Hope is restored when we set our eyes back on Jesus… when we admit that we’re not in control… when we realize our weariness … when we recognize that self-effort just doesn’t cut it.

“Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives STRENGTH TO THE WEARY and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall;

but those who HOPE in the Lord will renew their strength.

  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

~ Isaiah 40:28-31 ~

 

DSCF6823