The big day has arrived…and we are ready!

Courtesy of IJM

I went over to Champaign yesterday afternoon and picked up our numbers and our shirts and we are as trained and ready and funded as we are going to get.

Tonight we run in the 5K….which seriously? Zach and Rachel have a friend that just ran the Boston Marathon in less time than it takes me to figure out what I am going to do with my day….but…hey…

it’s all good.

Thank you for those who donated to International Justice Mission for Russ and me to run <3

Stopped at the WBGL booth and Ryan Springer said thank  you too…honest he did.

If you have a heart for those who are victims of human trafficking, you can still make donations to IJM through WBGL here //www.imathlete.com/donate/WBGLsRacetoEndSlavery

Other agencies that we support in these efforts are:

<3 Our local crisis pregnancy center – yes…in each of your communities there are those who are trafficked and, often, they end up at centers like our New Life Pregnancy Center where they receive loving care. Here //www.newlifepregnancycenter.com/

<3 She is Safe a ministry that reaches underserved areas around the world rescuing and offering education and training for the least of these. Here //sheissafe.org/about/

<3 House of Grace in both Thailand and Ghana: ministries that were founded by Mark Rutland and rescues girls from being sold into sex trafficking. here //globalservants.org/index.php/ministries/house-of-grace

There are many others I am sure – but these are the ones we support.

Support with resources and prayers and tonight….

our hearts will literally beat for their freedom.

Thank you for joining us in prayer to finish well.

God bless you all with a good weekend and be thinking of us tonight!

See you on Monday <3

 

 

Living in the twixt and tween…

As I drove to work last Wednesday, I was following a car for several blocks that was sporting a bumper sticker advertising a website that promised me access to “Forbidden Information” if I visited the dotcom being offered.

I wasn’t interested.

At all.

Me…who googles EVERYTHING…had not even one single urge to jot down the address so I could check it out.

After a while, another car pulled out of a side street.

On this bumper was a bright and cheery “I love Jesus” sign.

The word “love” was represented by a red heart.

So there I was …. following these two messages until they reached an intersection with a left turn lane.

Forbidden merged left….Jesus fan merged right…and I went right up the middle between them.

My heart was racing as all three cars idled side by side.

Adrenaline pumped as I sat between these two vehicles that I am kind of thinking may have opposing world views.

And for all I know, I could be at complete polar opposites in doctrine, beliefs, theology…etc…etc…with either or both of these drivers if we got to talking.

I have lived long enough to know that a bumper sticker does not a brother, sister or enemy make.

It seems we are more and more wearing and looking for labels and wondering where people stand on issues as we seek some level of camaraderie in the chaos of our world.

The atmosphere rapidly escalates into shouting matches between “sides” and even our governing authorities seem more interested in agendas and media coverage and leveraging for their parties than in doing what is fair and just and right…

let alone righteous.

We try desperately to align our politics and civic duties up with our faith and it gets oh-so-messy.

So as I read through the passages recounting Jesus’ last days on earth, I was fascinated that in the midst of HIs walk to Calvary to deliver humanity from the death sentence which we deserved…

He took time to answer a question about paying taxes.

The Pharisees were attempting numerous times to trip Him up during the week and so they come to Him with a question about the legality of paying taxes to Caesar.

I think of how relevant such a question might be to us, as Christians, today.

Do we continue to pay taxes and do other things that support a government even when it seems to be working against or outside of or ignorant of God’s laws?

Do we still try to honor a country that dishonors us and all we hold to be true?

So I lean forward to hear what Jesus has to say and I find His response is to be somewhat irritated with the question.

From the description in my Bible, I can almost see Him roll His Holy eyes and then say,

with a bit of impatience….

“Hand me that gold coin in your hand, sir.”

I picture Him glancing at it, almost with disdain, and then flipping it back to the person and saying…

“Well…it has Caesar’s pic on it so it must belong to him”.

Makes me think of how my dad was fond of saying when he wanted you to know how little he had emotionally invested in something….“Whom cares?”

Or as Jesus put it….

Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.

That He took the time to answer the question is as interesting as the answer itself.

It seems to me that what He said and the way He said it was to be significant a teaching for those left behind to carry on His work.

Then and now.

As I have set aside this season of Lent by adding some things and removing some other things, I have begun to see that I spend far too much time focusing on how my faith plays out in the world I have to walk in….rather than on the One for whom I walk.

Much of what grabs my attention has the face of the Caesars of this world stamped on it.

And Caesars come and go.

I have to live peaceably within the laws of a government that leads a diverse population.

Unless I am forced to compromise my faith, I follow the rules and render unto “Caesar” that which belongs to him.

But God has set my heart on eternity and that is where my rendering needs some work.

Christ purchased me back from death and it is now He who lives within me and so I render unto Him all that I am.

For the choices I can make about where I spend the resources of time, money, energy and talents that He has given me…I sur-render all.

It would seem that God is far more interested in how I am doing in that area than how I am holding turf for Him out there in Caesar’s playground.

I pray God blesses us with wisdom and discernment as we ponder how to work out our salvation in the time and culture and government authority under which God has placed each one of us with our focus on Him and Him alone <3

I didn’t even ask her if I could use this…I hope she isn’t mad with me <3

This little mommy sent us a picture of this little dude….

how he made this necklace for her at school…

and how the teacher said since he couldn’t take it home they would take a picture and send it to his #1 girl so she could see it.

The smile on his face.

The smile I can imagine on her face.

The smile on our faces as we thanked God for such a thoughtful and kind gesture.

It took like, what?

Two minutes?

For this teacher to be nice.

And the return was…

multiplied.

It’s ugly out there people.

Be nice as often as you can today.

You have absolutely no idea the ripple effect it may have.

God bless you all  <3

Sometimes we just need to say it again

When I ran this morning I listened to a sermon from our friends the Embree’s church in Decatur TEXAS….from a great series Pastor Darren did on Four Days.

I recommend the whole series, but the one I happened to listen to this morning was by a guest speaker, Karl Martin //crossroadspeople.com/4days-crucifixion-karl-martin

It was about the crucifixion and I know we all just walked through Easter weekend but can we just replay this again.

One more time.

That Jesus Christ was the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the entire world.

He willingly and obediently was beaten to a bloody pulp, ridiculed, spit on, mocked, stripped and had a crown of thorns jammed on His head.

He died on a Roman cross like a common criminal.

He was buried in a tomb; wrapped lovingly, but hurriedly by two men who needed to get home for the Sabbath.

And the part we skim over is, He didn’t just lay there sleeping for the next few days.

He descended into Hell.

The Hell you and I and every other human being on earth deserves because we have gone our own way and decided that we are smarter than God and that we don’t need Him telling us what to do and how to live.

The Hell of eternal sickness and suffering and sorrow and grief.

The Hell of consequences and guilt and shame.

The Hell of brokeness and unforgiveness and regret.

The Hell of depravity and addiction and everything that would separate us from the God who made us.

And it says He preached the gospel and He brought back captives.

Oh, yes.

And also the keys.

The keys that got handed over when all Hell broke loose on earth.

The keys that mean all authority…ALL AUTHORITY…in heaven and earth and all of creation is back in His rightful hands.

Then…He arose.

Not from the slab He was laid on but from Hell itself.

He arose.

He conquered sin and He conquered death.

Once and for all.

It is finished.

And in Him…IN HIM…alone…we  have L.I.F.E.

 

 

 

What I did on my Easter Vacation…

I used to love to write those essays in school…yes, I am one of those who actually liked English class….

so without further ado…

I went to Texas to see this guy…

We ate some good food…

all healthy, of course…

and met our quota for carbs…

We visited Texas Hill Country…

and I praised God for the measure of healing He has given to him as I watched our son climb rocks and run and hike hills and scare the living daylights out of me again…

We checked out the downtown areas and the graffiti park…

and I praised God for a pretty little gal with a can of black and a can of gold spray paint who left her mark as I watched…

I rode shot gun in a golf cart on Easter Sunday as John served the parking lot ministry offering rides to members and guests at the late service of his church…

and I thanked God for fruits of the Spirit in this kid-that-we-miss-so-much (and who isn’t really a kid but you know how mom’s are)..kindness…goodness…gentleness..patience…joy…peace…all of ’em…and then I thanked God again.

We met up with a long-time friend from home who also moved to Austin…

celebrated the Resurrection…

had Texas BBQ…

and then it was time to head home ….

And as I flew over the most amazing clouds…because seriously…how can anything this beautiful just be moisture????

I watched the sun set…

and I thanked God <3

I hope you had a blessed Easter.

Now it’s off to catch up on laundry and work and Monday….I will see you tomorrow <3