Thursday, March 28, 2013

What I'm Learning This Easter

As Tim and I are going through the Easter story this week with our kids, I’ve learned so much from its players. It is not possible to read the incredible accounts of Passion Week without examining our own relationship with the Messiah. Am I Mary? Or Peter? Or the Crowd? Or Judas, who was so close to the Messiah yet never knew Him. As a family, each day, we are reading the account in chronological order. There’s just something about following Christ through the week that makes those final three days all the more amazing. Every single year, my heart learns more truth about my Savior in our journey through His last week.

During the early part of the week, probably Wednesday, Mary breaks a jar of perfume worth an entire year’s wages and dumps the contents on the Messiah’s head. Then she washes His dirty feet with her hair. The men are appalled. What is incredible is that Mary seemed to be the only one who “got it.” But I appreciate the inclusion of her humanity in the midst of her great faith. Read the account of Lazarus in John 11. At first, she stayed away. Her sister ran to Him, but she was too hurt. Thank you. Thank you that I am not the only one who cowers at pain and hides from Him. Then she boldly approaches her Savior, asking “where were you when I needed you most?” She doesn’t suddenly have some experience of great faith. She just wants answers. She wants to know where He was. She wants to know why this happened. Secretly, we have all felt this way at some point. She had the audacity to admit her feelings of abandonment. She had the faith for her brother to be healed; that’s why she was so hurt. If He would have just come, her brother would have never died. But He didn’t. And he did. She was heartbroken, both by her loss and by her confusion. He had an even greater glory in store, but in that moment she could not see. She could not see that this pain would produce great joy. She could not see that this tragedy would result in a faith that she would desperately need just a few days down the road. She didn’t want down the road, she didn’t want to learn something. She just wanted her brother to be healed. She wanted to be released from this pain. We have much to learn from this incredible woman. This experience is what allowed her to saturate her Savior with her most sacred possession. The only moment of joy and worship Jesus experienced during His final week of life is from her. She saw the death and resurrection of her brother and finally understood: this is exactly what He did in my heart and this is exactly what He is about to do in my place. She wanted it all to stop and He wanted her to stop; stop to grasp the truth of her state and the purpose for His death.  He was giving her understanding for the events that were about to take place. He was preparing her to see beyond the pain of His death, declaring to her, “Something greater is coming, just trust Me.” So often I find myself just as Mary, asking the question, “Where were You?” My limited perspective causes doubt. Ultimately, her trust in Him triumphed over her confusion, resulting in the most incredible act of worship we see in Christ’ time on earth. What a Savior, that even though He knew what He was doing, He stepped into her pain. “Jesus wept.” He didn’t condemningly say, Good grief just trust Me. He didn’t rebuke her. He didn’t scold her for a lack of faith. He understood. Knowing the heart of a woman, I think that’s what led to such extravagant worship. Mary’s progression of faith begs the question, do I allow myself to move from that place of hurt and confusion and doubt to a place of such sacrificial worship? Ultimately, she simply trusted. And her eyes were opened. And she gained an insight that no other follower grasped.

I pray that during this Holy Week, you stop, as well. Stop to see your Savior. Stop to experience His resurrection. Allow yourself to understand that He allows pain, but it is always for a purpose. And it’s ok for you to ask why. And He will understand.

I decided to do an Easter Story Basket this year for our journey through Passion Week, using an element each day to tell the story that the kids place in the basket. I will post the Easter Basket Bible study I wrote, along with each day’s activities. It will be too late for you to use for this year, but perhaps it will spur you to create an intentional week of focus for next year. Blessings to you this Easter.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Prayer Through the Tabernacle

I wrote this prayer series for a New Year’s prayer emphasis that the women’s ministry of our church hosted. When preparing for the 4 week prayer study, my mind was going in one direction, but God was pulling me in another. After much struggle and stubbornness, God was finally able to get through to me. This came at a deeplyspiritually purging time in my own life; my heart and mind were at war with God’s peace. As a pastors' wife, satan often fights my husband through me. Satan and I were in a war, but God’s word proved, yet again, its truth: He has given me all I need for victory, I can stand by way of His armor. The choice to walk in His Spirit rather than my flesh or Satan’s lies had to be made. It was an exhausting week, but in my weakness He was made strong. A few months earlier, I had the joy of attending a ministers’ wives conference (praise the Lord there are times where we can be ministered to as we are constantly pouring out!) where the speaker led a prayer through the tabernacle. I was participating in the prayer, so I had nothing written down from the prayer time (I suppose that’s a good thing). I knew, however, that I was to begin this month of prayer for the women of our church with praying through the tabernacle. My husband had just preached through the Bible chronologically the previous year, thus we had read in Exodus the description of the tabernacle and then saw that come to life in Hebrews with Jesus as our High Priest. God’s timing was clear. So the study, research and writing began. How thankful I am that I did not miss this incredible opportunity to be taken to the throne of God Most High or sharing in this precious time with our women. As I was studying and listening and praying, God began to show me so many truths about our prayer relationship with Him. He created the design for the tabernacle in such an intentional way. Our prayer life is in desperate need for the same intentionality. I began to realize how this process through the tabernacle purifies my motives and prepares my heart to enter His presence. The depths of my soul began to grieve at how much I’ve missed in my relationship with God, how often I’ve attempted to enter His presence with my requests but have failed to recognize truly who He is or enjoy His peace or have so arrogantly failed to considered my motives. It is recognizing the reality of the gospel in my life, who He is and who I am, that my sinful state has been atoned, that I am now declared righteous by way of Christ in the presence of the Holy God. When we begin to realize the intentional process God created for this progression through the tabernacle, we begin to realize how crucial this process is for our personal prayer life. Prayer is our relationship with God, all else is the overflow. This process, when done from a heart seeking Him rather than merely following some steps, puts our hearts and minds in correct posture to enter His presence wholly, purely, longingly; no walls, no doubts, no restlessness, no fears, no pride. It is through this process that I am able to hear Him say, “Come and talk with me” and my heart is able to respond, “Lord, I am coming.”  He waits for you to come to Him so that He can show to you His love and compassion. And so let us enter His presence.


This prayer guide can be used as a personal devotion or done as a group study. I ask that you reproduce this document only for personal use.