The Marvelous Cornerstone

standard April 12, 2017 2 responses

Last fall I sat on the Southern Steps in Jerusalem. These steps are remains of the Temple, God’s dwelling place on earth. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I had butterflies in my stomach, sensing the Lord’s presence, knowing that I truly was on holy ground.

(The Southern Steps leading up to where the Temple would have been.)

(Part of the original wall. The first layer is almost as tall as I am.)

(Ruins of the Temple.)

These were the same steps that Jesus and other Hebrew boys would have climbed as a child to sit under the teaching of a well-respected rabbi. They are the same steps where the Jewish Pilgrims would gather to sing the Song of Ascents, moving up step by step as their lips sang the praises of Psalms 120 through 134. And they are also the same steps that supported Jesus’ feet as His authority was challenged by the chief priests, scribes, and elders within days of His crucifixion and resurrection.

Jesus. God in flesh. The maker of heaven and earth who spoke creation into existence. This very same Jesus is now being disrespected on the steps of His very own Temple.

And in response Jesus tells a graphic story of a man who owned a vineyard. The man makes all the necessary preparations in order to have the vineyard succeed and he then leaves the vineyard in the hands of capable farmers. When the man sends one of his slaves to collect a portion of the harvest, the farmers beat him and send him away empty-handed. This happens again and again until eventually the farmers start killing the slaves until the man is left with only his beloved son to send. He thinks, “Surely they will respect my son.” But, of course, they didn’t. They killed him and threw him out of his own vineyard. Despised and rejected.

As you and I read this story from Mark 12, we have the hindsight to know that this exact thing will happen to Jesus just days later and we want to shout to the chief priests, “Don’t do it!! He’s the Messiah! He’s come to save you, His chosen people.” But the actual audience doesn’t get what Jesus is telling them. However, He knows just how to get their attention…by quoting Scripture. Jesus asks them point blank, “Have you not even read this Scripture:

‘The stone which the builders rejected,
This became the chief corner stone;
This came about from the Lord,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

And immediately the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders would have known that Jesus was quoting Psalm 118. It’s a Psalm that they would have known in its entirety. Listen to what it says and allow the magnitude of Jesus’ point to register within your spirit:

This is the gate of the Lord;
The righteous will enter through it.
I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me,
And You have become my salvation.
The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief corner stone.
This is from the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day which the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:20-24, emphasis mine)

How many times have we woken up to a beautiful day and said, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it,“? I know that I’ve used it thousands of times, especially when trying to wake up my children. And on another note, I’ve always wondered why Good Friday was called “good” when it was the day that our Savior was brutally killed and thrown out of His own creation. But I never thought to put the two together. How could the day that Jesus died on the cross be a day worthy of rejoicing?

Sitting there on those Southern Steps is when I finally realized that the day that the Lord has made, the day that was worth rejoicing over, was in fact Good Friday!! Yes, it was the day that the cornerstone was rejected, but it was also the day that salvation came for all people. And it was totally the Lord’s doing. This is so profound!

Jesus Christ alone is that cornerstone, the firm foundation on which we place our hope. The cornerstone should not be your parents, or your spouse, or your kids, or your friends, or your job, because Lord knows they will let you down and your foundation will crumble. There is only One who will never let you down and His name is Jesus. Don’t be like the chief priests and reject the very One who gives life. Put Him at the center of your life and build around Him.

As we prepare to celebrate our risen Lord this Easter weekend, I pray that we will remember the magnitude of the rejected stone who endured so much on that Good Friday. It truly was a day to rejoice and be glad.

Because that chief cornerstone was rejected, you and I have an opportunity to receive our salvation. Because His hands and feet were nailed to the cross, you and I are able to enter through the gate of the Lord. Because of the Lord’s doing, you and I have a reason to rejoice. And the cornerstone that is Jesus Christ is so very MARVELOUS in our eyes!

(A replica of a cornerstone in Jerusalem.)

No Greater Joy

standard March 25, 2017 3 responses

Today’s Reflecting Light is brought to you by my very special friend, Lesli Thomas. Lesli is an AMAZING wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, volunteer, and much more. She makes God’s Word a priority in her everyday life and it shows up in everything that she does, especially in raising her handsome boys. I know you will enjoy her wisdom!

Two years ago I chose to adopt a word for the year – JOY – to dig deep into and find out how God desired that in my life.  Joy means so much to me as I have seen it bless my life by the reality that it is a daily choice… sure there are times that someone blesses my life which brings joy but most days it is a choice to find joy in my circumstances.  Fast forward two years to 2017 and the word of the year became TRUTH.  Then this scripture jumped off the wall at me…   “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”  3 John 1:4

My husband and I have two little sports loving, outside playing, lego building, bayou fishing, dirt covered boys.  Most days as parents seem so full with school, sports, homework, playtime, laundry, cooking, baths, bedtime, repeat.  It’s easy to get trapped in the cycle of “life” and wake up days, months, or even years later and feel like what just happened?  How are they already 6 and 8 years old?

This verse speaks such life to me… and so much intentionality!  I desire to experience a life full of joy, don’t you?  And I desire even more for my children to “walk in the truth.”  Then this got me thinking about 2 things: 1) What is truth? And 2) How will my children know truth?

In an effort to answer the question of “what is truth,” here are a few truths found in God’s Word.

Truths about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit:

God is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in times of trouble.  Psalm 46:1

God is our strength and our shield, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.  Psalm 28:7-8

God is with us wherever we go.  Joshua 1:9

God is our deliverer from all fears.  Psalm 34:4

God is our consoler, the bringer of joy.  Psalm 94:19

God is my helper.  Hebrews 13:6

God cares for me and lifts me with His mighty hand.  1 Peter 5:6-7

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  John 14:6

Jesus is our advocate who speaks to God in our defense. 1 John 2:1

The Spirit of God gives us power, love, and self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7

The Holy Spirit comforts us, teaches us, and reminds us of Jesus’ teachings.  John 14:26

The Spirit guides us in all truth.  John 16:13

The Spirit helps us in our weakness, intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  Romans 8:26

Truths about us:

I along with my children must know Jesus Christ – the way, the truth, and the life – to come to the Father.  John 14:6

To have fellowship with one another and be purified from all sin by the blood of Jesus, we must walk in the light.  1 John 1:7

We must love God and love one another.  1 John 4:21

We are known as children of God when we do what is right, obey his commands, love one another, and bear fruit.  1 John 2:3-6, 3:1, 3:10

We are His hands and feet, the body of Christ.  1 Corinthians 12:27

We are children of the Most High.  Psalm 82:6

We are not our own; we were bought with a price.  1 Corinthians 6:20

We are adopted to the sonship.  Romans 8:15

We are strong and courageous.  1 Corinthians 16:13

We are the light of the world.  Matthew 5:14

We are created by the Lord, His masterpiece, to do good things.  Ephesians 2:10

We are redeemed, summoned by name, the Lords.  Isaiah 43:1

We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.  Philippians 4:13

We are given strength when we are weary and increased power when we are weak.  Isaiah 40:29

We are strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.   Ephesians 6:10

We will soar on wings of eagles, run and not grow weary.  We will walk and not be faint when we hope in the Lord.  Isaiah 40:31

We cannot be separated from the love of God in Jesus.  Romans 8:38-39

Truths about Salvation:

By the gospel you are saved… for what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and then appeared to many.  1 Corinthians 15:1-8

In an effort to answer the question of “how will my children know the truth,” here is where I as a parent find such conviction.  One of my God-given responsibilities as a parent is to teach my children His Word – the absolute truth.  Take a minute and soak that in… that is heavy!  I must be intentional!  I play a part in experiencing “no greater joy.” 

And if 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 holds true, then of first importance is that I teach my sons about Christ and the gospel that saves.  Judges 2:10 is a stark warning to us as parents.  It states that “after that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.”  The Israelites had been rescued out of 400 years of slavery in Egypt yet it only took ONE generation not teaching their children of what the Lord had done for them to not know the Lord.

So, let’s make this practical for our everyday lives.  How can we as moms do our part to make sure that our children know the truth and bless us with the greatest earthly joy?

  • We as moms must be in God’s Word… seeking His absolute truth so that we may know it, talk about it, teach it, answer questions about it, and be confident in His promises. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  Talk about God’s Word and promises around the dinner table, in the car driving to practice, when you tuck your kids into bed, and when you send them out the door to school.
  • Make God’s word tangible for your kids, your husband, yourself, and your house guests. Deuteronomy 6:8-9 states, “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”  Scatter the truth of the Lord around your home… notes on the bathroom mirrors, index cards by their beds, canvas scriptures on your walls… fill your hearts and minds with God’s Word.

If we are willing to seize this awesome opportunity to leave a legacy for our families by patterning a life lived in the light and truth of God, then we are raising up children who will walk in this truth that gives eternal life. There truly is no greater joy!

It’s Just a Season

standard January 27, 2016 Leave a response

Our family has a saying that we commonly use if things in our lives start to get crazy and we begin to feel overwhelmed:

“It’s just a season.”  

I have always loved this expression because it helps remind me to take a deep breath and remember that whatever I am going through is just for a season and this particular season won’t last forever.  My dad also says, “It’s not eternal,” which is essentially the same thing, but it helps put things in a spiritual perspective.

I wonder if you’re feeling like me today and you need the reminder that the season you are currently in is not eternal, even if it may feel that way at the moment.  Maybe you are a young woman waiting on Prince Charming to make his grand appearance into your life and you are beginning to think that he should learn how to stop and ask for directions based on how long it’s taking him to get to you (Been there!).  Or maybe you’ve just had your first baby and you now have firsthand knowledge of why sleep deprivation is used as a torture tactic to break down the minds of criminals in the prisons (Can I get a witness?!).  Or possibly you have a loved one serving overseas and you are counting down the days, hours, and minutes until he/she is safely home.  You tell yourself, “It’s just a season, right?”

That’s exactly right.  And thank the Lord, we are not alone in all this.  Solomon (as in the wisest man who ever lived) did some pondering of the seasons as well in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

For everything there is a season,
  a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
  A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
  A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
  A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
  A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
  A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
  A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
  A time for war and a time for peace.

The wonderful thing about these verses is that every “low” season has a counter “high” season. Part of living in a fallen world is dealing with hard or low seasons, but if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we are guaranteed victory.

Are you in a time of planting in your job or at home?  There’s good news! A harvest is coming.
Is God telling you to tightly hold on to something, or is it time to let it go?
Has your heart been torn apart by a severed relationship? Your God can tenderly mend it.
Are you rightfully grieving an unthinkable loss?  Take hold of the promise that you will dance again.

It’s true. For everything there is a season.

But here’s the best part!  Solomon goes on to tell us in verse 11, “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”  

Isn’t that the truth?  Even though we cannot see how this season will work itself out, God sees! And not only does He see, but He makes the result beautiful.

The takeaway from today’s Reflecting Light is this: should you find yourself in a challenging season of life, remember that God is in control. Take a deep breath in and release it slowly.  Close your eyes and repeat after me,  “It’s just a season.”  And then believe in your heart of hearts that everything is made beautiful in its own time. 

The Quest for Perfect Peace

standard October 28, 2015 1 response

What is your number one desire?  Is it healing, security, a husband, a baby, or maybe forgiveness for another? Do you wish that you had a peace concerning that desire?  Do you believe that a quietness in your spirit would make all the difference in the world?

Or are you in the middle of a raging storm and you are frantically looking for Jesus to quiet the wind and the waves by simply uttering the words, “Peace! Be still!”?  Maybe you are suffering from the loss of a loved one, a broken marriage, a wayward child, or perhaps bankruptcy. You have seen how others seem to have a peace in the middle of their storm and you want to know how to have it too.

I recently had the privilege of serving at a women’s retreat where I encountered many beautiful women who are actively seeking the Lord.  As I got to know these ladies, the overarching theme of the weekend seemed to be a quest for peace…a desire for peace in the broken areas of our lives and a realization of how peace was granted in others.

This reminded me of one of my most favorite Scriptures of all time found in Isaiah 26:3. It says,

“You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.”

The phrase “perfect peace” is actually shalom shalom in Hebrew, the same word repeated twice resulting in a beautiful picture of peace repeating itself.  Strong’s Concordance defines it as a “completeness” or “soundness.”

Wouldn’t you love to have a sense of completeness or soundness of mind for whatever desire or situation you are facing today?  Yes, of course every woman would like to have this kind of peace in her spirit, but how?

Isaiah says this perfect, complete peace is given to those who have their minds stayed on God, meaning that our mind is “supported, unflinching, or firm.”  A mind filled with the “soundness”of peace.  Still, how can this be achieved?  The answer is found in the next line: TRUST.

Funny how it all comes back to trust.  Trusting Him with our fears and failures, to pick us up when we fall down.  Trusting Him with our hopes and futures, to fulfill the work that He has started in us. Trusting Him with our marriage, our kids, our finances, our healing, or any other pressing need we have.  Trust.

You see, our trusting, believing heart allows our minds to stay firm on God and the result is a perfect, complete, repeating over and over again peace.  It all goes hand in hand.  So why not reach up your hand today to be held in His?  He is waiting with open arms for you to trust in Him.

O Lord, how I want this sense of completeness and soundness in my own life.  I want to be a woman who radiates peace in the midst of a storm. Please give me Your perfect peace because my mind is steadfast and I trust in You.  Amen.

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Now it’s your turn!  What is your favorite verse on peace?

(Today’s post was powered with Logos.)

JOY: A Choice, Not A Feeling

standard January 27, 2015 8 responses

Today’s blog post is written by Lesli Thomas. Lesli is a woman who walks an authentic life of faith. She has been married to Chris for 11 years and they have two adorable boys, Cooper (6) and Brody (4). Lesli loves her morning Dr. Pepper, Mexican food, painting, and organizing things.

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I recently debated if I was ready to claim a word for 2015 and the one that continued to rise to the surface was JOY. Admittedly, I kept pushing it back down really feeling like that would be quite an overwhelming task to grab ahold of… I mean JOY in and of itself is a wonderful state of mind that we all would love to live in, right? But when the going gets tough — JOY is A LOT! Then I was reading in Beth Moore’s Children of the Day study where she put into words just what I had been struggling with.  She says, “Joy in hardship is WEIRD… and weird means strange or extraordinary character… and to delight while walking through (life) one must be either delusional, detached, or engulfed by the Holy Spirit!”  Joy is a “sustainable quality that shows who we really are and to whom we belong!”

So, because JOY is my word for the year, I did some research on WHAT JOY IS:

1. Joy is Something we can BE full of JOY.

Be Joyful! Grow in Maturity. Encourage each other. Live in Peace. And the God of Love and Peace will be with you. ~ 2 Corinthians 13:11

2. Joy is an Action we Choose; not an Emotion we Feel.

Be Joyful Always, Pray continually, Give Thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

3. Joy is Something we have to Fight to Possess Sometimes.

The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the JOY that’s coming. ~ Romans 8:18

JOY comes in the morning! ~ Psalm 30:5

Be truly glad. There is wonderful JOY ahead. ~ 1 Peter 1:6

 4. Joy is an Inside Job that Bursts Forth.

A Joyful Heart is good medicine. ~ Proverbs 17:22

From where the sun rises to where it sets you inspire shouts of JOY! ~ Psalm 65:8

 5. Joy is not about us it’s about HIM.

For the JOY of the Lord is my strength. ~ Nehemiah 8:10

You have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for JOY! ~ Psalm 63:7

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought JOY to my soul. ~ Psalm 94:19

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with JOY. ~ Psalm 126:3

 

And because I’m a list-making planner, I listed some practical things we can do to function in a JOY-filled life:

1. Practice an attitude of gratitude. 

It is not joy that makes us grateful. It is gratitude that makes us joyful.

Choose to focus on the good and many blessings that surround us.

2. Don’t compare Just don’t!!

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Don’t let others “highlight reels” on Facebook steal your JOY as you live in the real-life, behind-the-scenes with your precious family.

3. Recognize that the source of your JOY is GOD.

Not your hubby, not your kids, not your job, not your stuff!

Knowing God is your source of Joy really takes the pressure off of you, your hubby, your kids, your friends. We will all let each other down from time to time, but GOD never will!

4. Find someone to sprinkle some JOY on today!

Share a cup of coffee and an ENCOURAGING chat.

Crank up an ENCOURAGING group text with some other women who are in the same season of life as you.

Drop off a SONIC drink to a new mom with an ENCOURAGING note.

I guarantee you will be filled with JOY and that your JOY will spread to them!

5. Say “no” to the good so you can say “yes” to the best.

As women it feels like we are being pulled in so many directions and we feel obligated to say yes ALL THE TIME. I promise the world won’t fall apart if you say “no” (from my experience the person asking you may look a little dumbfounded at the moment, but life goes on) and one “no” can empower you to the next “no” and the end result is the opportunity to say a really great “yes” to the best things!

6. Choose JOY in your reactions to what life throws at you.

Busy is a choice.

Stress is a choice.

Bitterness is a choice.

Thanksgiving is a choice.

JOY is a choice.

 

Today I choose JOY! Won’t you?

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Welcome to Reflecting Light

standard January 1, 2015 7 responses

Happy New Year! And welcome to the very first blog at Reflecting Light! I just know you’re going to love it.

Reflecting Light is a place for women to share how Christ’s light is being reflected to the world in their everyday life.

Are you a working woman who feels the pressure to meet stringent deadlines while producing excellent work?  Or are you a young woman trying to live out your faith to your classmates on a secular campus?  Maybe you are a single mom trying to juggle the constant demands thrown at you on a daily basis with very little help from anyone at all.  How about those stay-at-home moms of young children who are sleep deprived and living off of Diet Coke and their kid’s leftover PB&J? Whatever season of life you are currently experiencing, you will find encouragement here at Reflecting Light.

“Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
Romans 12:2 via The Message

Each of us has ordinary things that we do in our everyday life, but if we strive to live set-apart lives in the midst of worldly pressures, then we can glorify God and become mature women in the faith.

In the coming year we are also going to “talk” about all sorts of things that interest us as women: fashion, food, family and friends! That’s what reflecting light in our everyday lives is all about!

Furthermore, we all have a story to tell. Some are messier than others, some are simple, and some are in the middle of their stories. My hope is that you and other women across this world will share your stories of how Christ has changed you, how He has been faithful to you, and how you are able to reflect Christ’s light in your everyday life.  Here is my story, and I hope after reading it you will share yours.

Join me as we aim to live so that God would be glorified in this new year!