Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hope has risen!

I was reminded at the Good Friday service that by sometimes we just don't get it.
Take the disciples for example, Jesus told them multiple times that He was going to be crucified, that He was not here the long haul, that He was not here to be the type of king they were expecting. Yet as the events of that dark day unfolded, they were shocked, saddened, and full of despair.
When the earth trembled and the curtain was torn, they were filled with terror because of their lack of understanding.
Makes me wonder how often that is true of me. Actually, it makes me think of our current battle for my niece and nephew. It is dark from where I am standing, the earth is trembling under my feet, I just don't get it! But that doesn't mean that God isn't working.
In fact, just a few days later the disciples visited with the Resurrected Jesus. A hopeless situation was suddenly filled with new hope.
So what situation are you having that is filled with despair? Don't give up, remember we serve a God that brings life where there was death, who brings hope where there was despair. Halleluiah!

Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.8

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter is...

I wrote this poem back in high school but I think it is still relevant:

Easter Is....
Colored eggs and candy
The Easter bunny too,
Are all a part of Easter
And what it means to you

But these aren't important
when you think about it all,
Christ up on the cross
To save us when we fall.

Imagine how it must have felt
To see that empty tomb,
The doubts they must have had
But what else could they assume?

Putting the pieces together
Seeing their mistakes,
The guilt they must have felt
Knowing Christ had died for all their sakes.

But now Easter is a happy time
To rejoice and for all to sing,
For Jesus Christ has risen
Our Eternal Lord and King!

Friday, April 15, 2011


Oh goodness it has been rough lately! My niece and nephew, who live in my home, have begun the process of returning to my brothers and my heart feels like it is breaking into a million shards of glass. Some days it is literally all I can do to drag myself out of bed and face the day. Today is one of those days. The kids have their first overnight with my brother, which is the first time they have ever been away from me for a night. To make matters worse, I am not convinced that they will be safe or well cared for while they are gone. My brother's track record is not so great. I had to leave for work today after peeling my niece off of me and telling her it was going to be okay. As I wiped her tears (and my own)and kissed her goodbye, it took every ounce of self control I had not to grab her and run.

With all of this going on, God and I have had quite a few conversations. Well in the mist of my latest fit, God reminded me that He has been where I stand. In fact, He had to send his son, Jesus, away from home too. He had to send him to a cruel, unsafe place. A place where He knew that his son would not be well taken care of. He had to hug and kiss Him goodbye and then go to work. I bet He wanted to grab Him and run the other way.

Instead, God sent his son to live amongst imperfect people. And not just to live amongst them, but to die a cruel and painful death FOR them. This Easter season, like never before, I understand the depth of that sacrifice, how hard it must have been for God to knowingly let go of Jesus.

My heart is breaking, but how much more did God's heart break? But in the well known words of John 3:16, "God so loved the world" (that is you and me, that is my niece and nephew....that is even my brother), "that He gave his only son" (an amazing sacrifice) "that who ever believes in him (Jesus) will have everlasting life." So God endured this heartbreaking pain so that you and I could live forever in Heaven with Him. This Easter season, don't miss that truth of that, don't let Jesus death be for nothing.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Splinters and Wounds

“Ouch!” Kate exclaimed out loud grabbing her forearm. “How many times have I told you not to climb that nasty old fence?” pointed out Kate’s mother who was trying to clean the wound on Kate’s arm in between having her daughter pull away.
“Would you stay still please?!” exclaimed Kate’s mom, but Kate didn’t think she could take her mother touching the sore spot one more time. “Okay mom that’s enough!” shrieked Kate exclaimed pulling away for the last time. “I don’t even have it all the way cleaned. I need to see it better than that, you need to let me see if there’s anything in there,” Kate’s mother objected. But Kate would have none of it. “It’s fine just leave it alone mom.” Kate’s mother threw up her hands. “Fine. You’re a big girl, but don’t come crying to me when it’s all infected.”
After a few days the wound healed up but the area still remained sore. She tried to put it out of her mind. After a week and a half the wound was still very sore. As Kate walked through the kitchen one day her mom stopped her surprised, “Your arm looks terrible. Does it still hurt?” Kate, reluctant to answer sheepishly replied, “I was hoping you wouldn’t see that.” “We need to get the Doctor to look at that,” her mother said picking up the phone.
Soon Kate was sitting in the doctor’s office. “That looks horribly painful, Dr. Harrison stated, What have you been doing to take care of it?” Doctor Harrison was well aware of Kate’s refusal to have her mom take care of the wound. He turned Kate’s arm over to see it. “It’s terribly infected Kate.” Dr. Harrison moved his face closer to the wound inspecting it thoroughly. “Kate, I think something’s in there.” He poked at the wound and Kate let out a yelp. “There sure is” said her mother looking over the family doctor’s shoulder. “We’re going to have to get that out of there.” said Dr. Harrison turning around to his cabinet. He began getting out some of the tools needed to take care of the wound. Then Kate saw a surgical knife. “What are you going to do with that!!” she said almost in a scream. “Well Kate, I’m going to have to cut that wound back open to get whatever’s in there out.” Kate was not happy with that at all. “Can’t you just leave it in there?” she objected. “Not if you want that to heal without your arm falling off first we can’t.” Kate knew the look in Dr. Harrison’s eye was serious.
As Dr. Harrison finished he carried a tray over to Kate’s mom. “That’s a pretty big chunk of that old fence that was in Kate’s arm.” He said holding the piece of wood with a pair of tweezers. Kate’s mother stared at her and said, “Next time you’ll listen to me won’t you?” Kate only nodded her head in embarrassment.

So many times in life we go through circumstances receiving wounds from people we love. Too many times we tend to brush off these wounds as not needing much attention or as being too painful to deal with. Maybe it is the splinters of anger or hurt? Maybe it is frustration, jealousy, or bitterness? Maybe it is resentment or some other splinter? When we leave these splinters in the wound that is created without properly dealing with them they leave us wounded. Then when we get “bumped into” by other circumstances or people the pain returns. Over time the “splinters” cause festering and infection until the pain is so great we begin to lash out because of our wounds. There are times in our lives where we need to “go to Dr. Harrison’s.” We need to, as painful as it is, get that splinter out of the wound so it can properly heal. Do you have this kind of wound? Have you had it properly taken care of? Jesus said in Matthew 5:23-24 and 18:15-17 that we need to deal with the problems between us. There are so many reasons for this. But first and foremost is the promotion of love that God desires. Are you nursing a wound with a splinter? Have you tried to reconcile it? Get help. You’ll be glad you did
- Jerry Graham (my hubbie)
Truth is we all have splinters. Maybe they are new and just need some quiet time and prayer to get them out? Or maybe they have been there for quite some time and will require a bit more attention before they can heal. Sometimes we don’t even realize we have a splinter until it gets bumped into by someone or something else. Whatever the case may be those splinters have to go. God’s word is filled with answers and healing ointment for these wounds. If you are struggling to find specific verses or have more questions please contact me. Another great source is a book entitled, Captivating, by John and Stasi Eldredge. Chapter six is particularly helpful!

Friday, April 1, 2011


Last time we took a look at hope and how sometimes life sends disappointments our way but that when we hope in the Lord we will never be disappointed.  This month I thought we could take a look at what I think is the opposite of hope~ anxiety.  You see if our hope is in the Lord and we remember to stay focused on that then nothing this world throws at us should shake us, right?  That being said, I would like to confess that I am one of the world’s biggest worriers.  I worry about school starting and sending my kids out into that lion’s den, I worry about teaching them healthy eating habits, about their teeth and health.  I worry about parent’s health, our finances, my nieces and nephews, whether I have been a good example of Christ in my words and actions.  Just in case that isn’t enough, I worry about my kid’s friends, my neighbor’s, hey I even worry about my neighbor’s cat, and as many of you know, I worry every time I drive across a bridge, so much so that I have actually practiced an escape drill with my kids, right here in central Illinois, miles away from any major bodies of water.  Of course after the Minnesota collapse that fear doesn’t seem quite so far fetched. 
Now some of you are probably guessing that I am going to refer to the passage in Matthew that warns us that worrying will not add one day to our lives, and indeed we know from Psalm 139 that God has already numbered our days.  Or maybe you are thinking I will refer to the part of that passage that says not to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow has enough worries of its own.  And of course that is true as well.  The verses that I want to look at though are found in Hebrews 10:35-36.  The passage says, “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you have need of endurance so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” 
The reason I chose this passage is because if we are believers in Christ then we do have a confidence that comes from knowing we are in His hands.  I love the strength of that word here.  It makes me think back to when I first accepted Christ into my heart.  The excitement and fervor of realizing what I had been seeking so desperately for was now clear to me.  The hope that washed away all the worries, heartaches and struggles I had faced up to that point was mine to share with the world.  Makes me think of the lyrics to a praise chorus, “Lord I feel like dancing, its foolishness I know…”  Believing came easy for me then.
Oh but the next word is endurance.  There is a different strength in that word.  The image that pops in my mind is my grandpa sitting in his rocking chair sharing stories about his days as a coal miner.  The things he endured were amazing and sometimes life threatening but it shaped him into who he became.  You didn’t know my grandpa, but how about Corey ten Boom or Mother Theresa, now those ladies knew what it meant to endure. Several songs pop into my mind with this one.  First an old praise chorus based on the Psalm, “We bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord…”  I once heard a worship leader scoff at this song and ask, “How can praise be a sacrifice?”  However, sometimes when life is tough it is a sacrifice to praise God rather than question Him.  A more recent song that points to endurance is from Casting Crowns, I Will Praise You In This Storm.  The lyrics remind us to endure, “I will praise you in this storm, and I will lift my hands…where does my help come from, my help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth…”  In the walk of a believer we have confidence in who we are and where we are headed but the road is pebbled with endurance.
No worries* though because next up is, promised.  The verse finishes out by reminding us, “when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.”  So we can have confidence that we are in God’s hand, we can know that hard times will come but God is our deliverer, but we can hope for heaven, it is what he promised!  Now I don’t know about you but that gets me excited!  “Lord I feel like dancing, it’s foolishness I know…”

*Pun intended!