Haunting Words

Breath On Paper

A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger. –Proverbs 15:1

 Did you know your tongue is made up of many groups of muscles? But unlike certain organs, you can control your tongue. Unfortunately, there are no muscle groups that control the words we say with the help of our tongue. That is our responsibility.

Can you touch the roof of your mouth with your tongue? Can you stick out your tongue? Can you move your tongue from one cheek to the other? Sure you can. And I bet you didn’t even have to think about it. You just did it. I think that is how we are with our words. We don’t think about what we’re saying. We just say what “pops” into our head.

I believe our emotions and attitudes play a big part in the words we say. Our whole demeanor can…

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Gentleness

Breath On Paper

200173520-001Joni…Joni…Joni… Can you hear me calling you? Can you see me sitting so close here by you? Joni…Joni…Joni…

During my year in North Carolina from summer 2005–2006, I was miserable most of the time, and I don’t remember God ever being so close to me. He sustained me financially and with friends to assuage the persistent loneliness, but I could not receive his presence. I knew he was there, and other people who peered into my life saw him there next to me, too.

I remember one night being at a small group meeting. A friend sat beside me on the couch after the formalities were concluded. We were praying for each other, and she said she heard his voice like honey calling me, Joni…Joni…Joni.

I knew it was true! And in that moment I smiled and fell over on the couch groaning, like some guy that I…

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Watch Your Mouth

Breath On Paper

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

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What comes to mind when you hear the word gentleness? A hand stroking a baby’s soft, pudgy cheek? A cooling breeze on a hot summer day? Ocean waters lazily lapping onto a sandy shore? That’s what I think of. And I also think about the power behind the gentleness that can destroy. The hand becomes a fist. The breeze a tornado. The water a tsunami. That which was gentle becomes that which can destroy.

The Greek word for gentleness is the same as meekness which is defined as expressing power with reserve and gentleness. We all have the capacity for choosing to gentle our strength. To choose NOT to use our power. While that is certainly not evident in our culture these days, we do have the power to NOT engage in verbal warfare AND…

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Meekness – not to be Mistaken for Weakness

BLESSED ARE THE MEEK; FOR THEY SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH. Matthew 5:5

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As we continue to write our way through the fruit of the spirit, we make our way to meekness, an often misunderstood attribute. People tend to think of meekness as cowardly passivity or weakness. This however is not biblical meekness. Biblical meekness is an attitude of humility toward God and gentleness toward people. To be meek, one needs confidence, not in oneself but in the Lord. Meekness, rather, is the result of a person’s conscious choice to trust in God and lean on Him, as opposed to pushing for one’s own ways. Thus, meekness arises out of strength, not weakness.

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God’s Word teaches us that the meek trust in God. Matthew 5:5-8 They believe that God is for them. Meek people commit their ways to the Lord, believing that they are ill equipped to cope with life’s struggles and they trust that God is able and willing to sustain them. The meek wait patiently for God to work in their lives. They do not fear, because they trust that God is at work in their lives. John Piper Blessed are the Meek

As I have thought about this during the week, I tried to think of people who exemplified biblical meekness. Although several came to mind, what came to heart was a memory of my own behavior that revealed a heart condition completely lacking in meekness. It was not a pretty revelation.

We are a blended family and as wonderful as it is to have more people in your life to love….it can be challenging; very challenging. Conflict developed out of issues that I didn’t contemplate when I said “yes” to my sweet and charming beau that came with two bonus daughters. I thought I was handling these issues in a manner that would please God. I would pray about them and keep quiet, trying to be the peace maker (actually a peace-faker as I wrote about in a previous post). My heart would be at peace for a while, so I thought my heart was pure and full gentleness and humility, but I was mistaken.

One day something occurred that set off a reaction in me that was so ugly and so far from meekness or humility. Anger spewed from me in a volcanic eruption of sinful self absorbed pride. Although I was shocked at my own behavior, I was mostly confused about where all that ugliness came from. I felt terrible because I knew I  hurt my husband with my words and I was pretty certain he thought I may have  demon in me. I prayed about it and asked God to show me what was really in my heart. I began to understand that my anger in that instance had less to do with the family issue and more to do with me and insecurity that I had. I received something offensively that was not meant to be offensive and because I did not have meekness in my heart, I thought only of myself, my needs, my interests and my position. I realized that it was my hear that needed the adjustment. In that moment, it no longer mattered what had been done to cause my ugly reaction. What mattered was what was revealed about my heart. My reaction showed weakness and not the strength of biblical meekness and certainly not humility. I was not as spiritually mature as I thought.

My reaction revealed to me that I really did not trust God with our family issue. I was not able to patiently wait on God because my trust was lacking. I hadn’t truly given my concerns to God. I was still trying to force my will into the situation rather than waiting on God’s will and God’s timing. But God is faithful and when we earnestly pray with a pure heart, he hears us and changes us. He never leaves us in our sin when we come to him with a repentant heart. Prayer may not immediately change our circumstances, but it absolutely changes our perspective and our heart. I am thankful for our blended family and a husband who is kind, compassionate and forgiving. I am thankful for all the new love this blended family has brought me. Tracey

The Battle at the Garden of Gethsemane

Breath On Paper

 

Mark 14:32-42

According to a very reliable source (IMDb) it has been two years since Superman went up against Zod. The city of Metropolis was devastated by death and destruction. The wait is over. Superman returns to the big screen with another DC Comic legend in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Bruce Wayne is convinced that Superman is now a threat to mankind. Batman takes it upon himself to end Superman.  Ok. I have to admit sounds interesting enough.  But who doesn’t love a good fictional battle between good and evil? But what about the battle that takes place in our everyday life? The battle between God and Satan. The battle for our souls.

It had been Satan’s plan from the day Jesus was born to keep him from the cross at Calvary. Throughout the Bible we hear stories of Satan tempting Jesus. For example, at the age…

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Worthy Is The Lamb

Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 1 Corinthians 5:7

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The festival of the Passover has been celebrated by Jews for thousands of years. It is the retelling of the great story of how God redeemed the Jewish nation from enslavement in Egypt. The original celebration centered around the Passover lamb, which was sacrificed and its blood put over the doorposts as a sign of faith, so that the Lord passed over the houses of the Jews during the last plague poured out on the Egyptians – the killing of every firstborn.  Passover (Leviticus 23:5) – Pointed to the Messiah as our Passover lamb.              (1 Corinthians 5:7) whose blood would be shed for our sins. Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover at the same hour that the lambs were being slaughtered for the Passover meal that evening (John 19:14).

God’s Word is so full of prophecy and symbolism. Every single word is God inspired and penned for purpose. The magnitude of symbolism between Jesus’ last Passover and His crucifixion pierces my heart with awe, wonder and gratitude beyond comprehension. When I think of what it must have been like for Jesus, knowing His fate…knowing each and every detail down to the minutia and still choosing to save us. My heart almost can’t bear the weight of His love. I sometimes ask myself….how can I ever repay Jesus for His sacrifice? How can I ever thank Him enough? God only asks that we love others as He loves us

At this time in history, the Jewish people were under Roman rule and in desperate need of a King….a savior. Jesus came into the city of Jerusalem five days before the lamb was killed in the temple as the Passover sacrifice for the sins of the people of Israel. Five days before the lamb was to be sacrificed, it was chosen. Therefore, Jesus entered Jerusalem on lamb selection day as the lamb of God. Jesus came in on a donkey, which represented peace. He did not ride in on a war horse as many Kings would do in that day. Even Jesus’ entry had symbolic meaning. His entry told everyone what type of King He would be. The people greeted Him shouting “Hosanna” which means “save us, save now”. They laid palm leaves down, symbolizing blessing. Jesus Himself is the blessing; His atoning work of redemption, victory and freedom is our blessing!

The passover lamb was killed at 9:00 a.m. by the cutting of his throat. Also at 9:00 a.m. Jesus was nailed to the cross. At 3:00 p.m. the Passover lamb was placed in a stone oven for roasting. At 3:00 p.m. Jesus died. He was put in a stone tomb.

Christian symbolism in the Passover occurs early in the Seder (the Passover dinner). Three matzahs (bread) are put together (representing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The middle matzah is broken, wrapped in a white cloth, and hidden, representing the death and burial of Jesus. The matzah itself is designed to represent Jesus, since it is striped and pierced, which was prophesized by Isaiah (Isaiah 53:5),  David (Psalm 22:16), and Zechariah (Zechariah 12:10). Following the Seder meal, the “buried” matzah is “resurrected,” which was foretold in the prophecies of David.

At the very time that the Passover lambs were being killed, Jesus was being crucified (Matthew 27:46-50; Mark 15:34-37; Luke 23:44). While all of Jerusalem was busy preparing the Passover meal with the lambs that were being sacrificed, Jesus was uttering His last words, “It is finished” (John 19:30). What was finished was God’s plan for the salvation of all people through the death of His Son. All that the Passover represents had been fulfilled in Christ (1 Corinthians 5:7).   christ-on-cross.gif

Just as the blood of the Passover lamb saved the Israelites from the judgments of God and redeemed them from slavery, so does the blood of Christ save all who believe from the judgment of God and redeem them from slavery to sin (1 Peter 1:18-20). The blood of the Lamb cleanses us, gives us a brand new start and frees us from a guilty conscience (Hebrews 10:22).

This Easter lets celebrate Passover by settling in our hearts that we will purpose to gain for the lamb the reward of  His sacrifice.

Come share an Easter service with us at Church of the Highlands. It will be a life changing experience that will leave you refreshed and hungry for more of God!

 

Maundy Thursday – A New Command

Breath On Paper

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” John 13:34, 35 The Message

Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday, is the day before Christ’s crucifixion. It is the day of the Last Supper when Jesus washes his disciples feet and gives them the first communion. He reveals his betrayer that Thursday night, though the others don’t seem to notice.

the-last-supper-johnny-myers The Last Supper by Johnny Myers

No one, not even the very vocal Peter, told Judas to get lost. Clearly they didn’t understand Jesus’ meaning when he said the one I give the bread I dip in the bowl will betray me. I mean He dips and then gives the bread to Judas. They didn’t know, but Judas did. And…

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