When Easter is for you, too

This week.

I can’t help but be overcome by what it means. It is a day so immensely special, there are no words which could truly describe the impact of such an event that was catastrophic to all that is broken and fallen; an event that brought about the perfection of freedom. It is where the ashes of our messy lives could hope to find beauty and where all that was lost could now be reclaimed. We are on the cusp of a day where we will sacredly observe an act of obedience that was carried out, so perfect and true; an act which resulted in our penalty being taken on fully and in every aspect – pain, death, and separation. His blood for mine. This week…well, it a celebration of justification.

The other thing? Well, as if all the above was not enough…we also get to celebrate one more thing: Resurrection.

This day we celebrate what death could not hold; we celebrate an empty grave. The humble Christ Jesus, rising victorious as King over all and with the chains of death, broken, in His grasp. A day that holds the promise for newness and holds the promise of freedom.

This day means:

  • Every wayward son and daughter, now has a new hope. Their pasts and their hearts now have a place to shed their brokenness and their rebellion. Because of the cross and because of a risen Lord, they now can stand faultless…they are redeemed, they are new.
  • The hurt and ache of a broken marriage that is held firmly in sin’s grip of death, no longer needs to despair and mourn. The fallenness that wants to destroy and steal away what does not belong to it, has no bearing when given to the One who prevails over the fallen world. In and through Jesus, there is now hope and a future for any and all marriages. Ashes redeemed.
  • The tragedy that struck without permission…stealing and snuffing out all happiness…can be given to the One who can heal hearts and redeem sorrow for true and lasting joy.
  • The heart that is held captive by the yearning to please constantly, there is freedom in Christ. The selfish and vain nature which is found at the root of this bondage, can be given a security and wholeness through the One who is perfection.
  • The heart and body who experienced betrayal and shame from another person, maybe someone who had something stolen they could never get back, no longer has to bear all the pain and “dirtiness” they carry deep in their hearts anymore. Jesus took the full weight of that on the cross and His resurrection destroyed its hold. He can wash and make new. Freedom from another’s sin imposed on you.
  • Hearts that mourn and are broken…there is healing.
  • Frustration and anger, there is a calm reprieve. A place to cast off those feelings which control so uncontrollably. The one who controls the raging waves of the sea, has the power to control and calm the rage inside of you.
  • The one whose body craves the thing that it most wants to be rid of…there is hope. Jesus is stronger than any addiction. When eyes want to bleed over images, when throats want to be quenched by fire, when bodies shake for that next fix, when minds want to wander to those places where no one returns from unscathed…There is freedom found in a Redeemer who has conquered the slave-master of your heart. The death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, is your freedom-song.
  • Pride, jealousy, greed…all chains fall at the feet of Jesus.
  • The one who struggles with self-worth, Jesus pours His love into you. You are worthy and loved by the King and He has the power to wash away unworthiness from your heart and mind.

For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.

Luke 19:10

You are the lost. I am the lost. We are the lost. All was and became lost in that garden long ago. But, what was lost in the garden…was redeemed on the cross and restored because of an empty grave. What was unraveled, is knit together. What was stolen, is redeemed. What was broken and ruined, is restored.

All that He accomplished through death and resurrection is ours…free. GRACE.

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not from works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

A gift. A gift of rescue, free, through our faith that He can and will save us. His gift, to be free from works…for any other way would lead to further bondage and sins of the heart – so that no one can boast. It is through Christ alone.

I hope that this Easter season, this Holy week, will resonate strongly in your heart. I pray that the impact of what occurred, will flood you. I want you to be overwhelmed by the event that changed the course of this world forever.

“Our savior displayed on a criminal’s cross
Darkness rejoiced as though heaven had lost
But then Jesus arose with our freedom in hand
That’s when death was arrested and my life began”

“Death was Arrested” – North Point InsideOut

The Parenthood Files: Fourth of July

Today, we celebrate the birth of a nation and freedom. My children and I will read some poems, sing some songs and listen to stories about the reason as to why we celebrate. There is a rich and powerful history born out of this old land, one whose stories and past beg us to continue to pass down to each generation.

It is my duty to relate to my children that this day and what it signifies for them, is more than just a time to eat, swim and watch fireworks explode in the night sky. While celebrations are good and have their place, to help my children really know the reason this day is worth celebrating is imperative to their understanding of the cost in which we are allowed to celebrate at all. It was a heavy cost, one that (often), still requires a weighty payment.

There are many things I hope to teach my children about being an American.

For my children to know how this generous land was a place of refuge for family so near and dear, is an absolute. I hope for them to know all the stories behind how they came to call themselves, American. Some such stories, may have taken place many generations ago…some of these stories happened within the generation of those they know and love today. To understand this land, is to know these stories; To love it, is to take that which we have been blessed with and, in some sort of capacity, share it with others. For this is largely impart of what makes America, who she is – beautiful and great.

The New Colossus

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” – Emma Lazarus 

I want my children to deeply understand that this nation was founded on many things noble and good –  a lover of justice and an indwelling of mercy was rooted into her being. I also want them to know that this grand country has made her fair share of shameful and grievous mistakes, in the 240 years of her existence. I want them to see her imperfect state. She is one who is marked by years and years of sin’s brokenness upon her land, for she herself does not have the power to rescue and redeem. While she is a land to be loved and cherished, she is not one to be worshiped and placed on golden pedestal.

I hope that my children will not look back on this country and wish for what once was…no, that is not what I want at all. I hope that I can model the love of Christ well, so that my citizenship is defined as such — I want my children to see the grace and redemption of my eternal home reflected in how I act while here at my earthly home. I want my children to not desire for their country a reversal, but, rather, for a strong movement forward – One that takes the good decisions made and couples them with even better ones for the glory of God and for His kingdom. For America, is but a reflection of her people and the choices they make. My hope is for a generation to rise-up within this great land and do great things. May there be a pride in country that is found: in the way her people love and seek the wisdom of a good, good Father, may it come from the way her people love all people as Christ loved them, and may it come from the ways her people act justly, love mercy, and seek to walk humbly.

Today, as we celebrate freedom, I hope I can impart to my children the gift it is and what it really means for all people of this American land. I hope that my children will know that freedom is a God-given gift to all and true freedom is found and experienced through Christ alone. I hope that I can help my children appreciate that they live in a land which allows them to choose that freedom without fear of punishment or exile.

Today, I do pray for God to bless America — if it will be a blessing well stewarded, if it will be a blessing that can be extended to others, and  if, it will be used to glorify Him.