loss

The Suffering Savior

“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ And they slapped him in the face.” – John 19:1-3 Having just celebrated Easter, the death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus is fresh on our minds. There’s no better time to remember the long and painful road our Savior endured to get to the cross. After three years of difficult public ministry that were no doubt physically, emotionally and spiritually draining, He was betrayed by one of His own disciples. He was turned over to Roman authorities, who, after pressure from the zealots among His people, agreed to have Him killed. As if the sentence of death by crucifixion wasn’t horrendous enough, He was beaten to

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The Opposites of Winter

“Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” – Hosea 6:3 Today, as we continue our examination of cold seasons, I’d like to point out that they can be lonely. Maybe you went from a position of leadership or connection to one of isolation, and you no longer feel connected to the people who used to bring you joy. Whether it was a move, the loss of a job, a funeral, or a disagreement with relatives, loneliness may plague you and distort your perspective on life and situations. For instance, a place or pastime that used to bring you joy can now serve as a painful reminder of what you’ve lost. It’s excruciating. Yosemite is one of my favorite locations

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Holy Healing

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” – John 12:24 Today, I’d like to share with you about the Paschal Mystery, an ancient Christian principle that we don’t often discuss, unless perhaps during Easter. In essence, to become Paschal is to become anti-fragile, and this occurs when we recognize that in our salvation, we were given the gift of redemption, not just of our souls, but also of all of our earthly circumstances. This means that whenever we are hurt, attacked, or have a dream die, if we respond in faith, fresh life will eventually emerge from the unpleasant experience. Things that die in Christ come back to life with even more strength! You were given death when you were baptized into Christ. Did you realize that?

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What You Can’t Pick and Choose

“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” – Psalm 42:7 Something I love about the Psalms is that they are raw and real. Most of them were written by King David, a man who minced no words regarding the depth of his feelings. In fact, if we have ears to hear and eyes to see, his ancient poems have something important to teach us about our human journey — something that’s been repeatedly backed by science: you can’t pick and choose your emotions. A song of hope and victory is often preceded by a song of lament and sorrow. Pain is a necessary part of the human experience, and unless we acknowledge this truth, we can never move fully into abundant life. Unfortunately, many people try to push down the yucky things that they feel and simply pretend

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For Your Good and His Glory

“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.” – Job 13:15 Many times, the enemy will try to harm us by using our misfortunes to fill us with shame and guilt. However, the wonderful thing about God is that He delights in turning seemingly dire and hopeless situations around for our good and His glory! There’s a story in the Old Testament about a guy named Job, who was an exceptional person. He loved God with all of his heart, and he was a hard-working, decent family man. However, out of the blue, tragedy struck him, and he lost everything he held dear — his livestock, his wife, his children, his friends, and his health. And while it seems his circumstances would have been enough to make any human being crumble, Job had a choice to make: he could

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Growing Closer to God Through Grief

“There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” – Luke 2:36,37 For the last couple of days, we’ve been talking about Simeon and how, as an old man, he was finally able to see his Messiah in the flesh. Interestingly, he had a female counterpart in the story of Jesus’ birth, and her name was Anna. The Bible calls her a prophet, and we learn in Luke 2 that she lost her husband after just seven years of marriage. Assuming she was married at the age of 15 or 16 (as most girls at that time would have been), she was probably only 22 or 23

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An Imperishable Hope

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, ‘All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’” – 1 Peter 1:23-25 Though it took him a while to understand and believe it, Peter ultimately realized that Jesus came to save everyone, including pagan Gentiles. So greatly did his thinking shift that he became pastor to the church in Rome. In fact, when he wrote the book of 1 Peter, he was sitting in a Roman prison cell — in chains for his faith and concerned about the ongoing persecution of his flock at the hands of the evil emperor Nero. Fabled in history and known as one of the most volatile and violent rulers

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Death Brings Greater Life

“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” – Philippians 3:10,11 Well, we made it to the last day of 2020. I’m almost certain that there has never been a greater sigh of relief among so many as the end of a year approaches. Last January, as we made our resolutions and reflected on the days behind us, none of us had any idea what was waiting just months down the road. We’ve all been challenged, stretched, and tested in the past 365 days, and some of us have endured loss that is throbbing and stinging even now. Nevertheless, I am confident that as hard and unconventional as things have been this year, there has been a gift in the experience. One of the most

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Born to Triumph

“Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’” – Revelation 5:5 Merry Christmas! Though it’s been an unprecedented and bumpy road that’s brought us to this December 25, today can be a milestone we’ll never forget, because when we walk through seasons of turmoil and loss, God brings our hearts closer to that which is eternal. While our focus in times gone by has been on entertaining, presents, and holiday “perfection,” this year has made it clear what’s most important. In 2020, none of us will take for granted good health, food on our table, a job that pays the bills, or the loved ones who surround us (even virtually). More importantly, we won’t forget the Guest of Honor at our Christmas

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