In the Name of Jesus

 

Whenever evil is committed in the name of some religion, we’re told to conclude that all religions are essentially the same. Religion serves only to divide us and to spread messages of fear and hatred.

But the Gospel is GOOD news. It is life-giving. We see this in today’s first reading:

“Leaders of the people and elders:
If we are being examined today
about a good deed done to a cripple,
namely, by what means he was saved,
then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed. He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.

There is no salvation through anyone else,
nor is there any other name under heaven
given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

 

Jesus was murdered. He was killed in the name of pride masquerading as religious piety. The religious leaders were afraid to arrest Him in broad daylight because they were afraid they’d have an angry mob on their hands, so they did it under the cover of night. They were threatened by Jesus’ following, so they sought to stamp out this “Jesus thing” by killing Jesus and thereby silencing His followers once and for all. They put guards at the tomb because they were afraid His followers would try to pull one over on them.

But Jesus rose anyway.

He came back to life–can you imagine the civil war that could have sprung from this event? 

Yet the Apostles do not retaliate evil for evil. The Gospel is not spread through fear and intimidation. Jesus’ followers do not go around killing in His name.

They go about healing in the name of Jesus. They go about preaching a Gospel of LIFE.

And this wasn’t just some clever “PR-strategy,” by the way. The apostles weren’t going around preaching a gospel of “can’t we all just get along?” They were healing and preaching eternal life in the name of Jesus Christ. And for that last bit, they were threatened, tortured, and killed.

It’s a pretty hard sell actually, “Join our religion! Heal the blind! Make the lame walk! –And be killed for it!”

Yet they went about healing and spreading life anyway, because that is who our God is. That is who Jesus is. The apostles were compelled to tell the world that the God who created us calls us to newness of life.

It is Jesus who heals. It is Jesus who gives life.

There is no salvation through anyone else–that is not a threat, it is simply the truth. And it is GOOD NEWS!

 

 

Back My Husband’s Kickstarter!

You learn a lot about your spouse in the first few years of marriage.

We were just over a year into ours when my husband learned that I can’t hold onto a pair of sunglasses longer than a month. Being the entrepreneurial guy that he is, a startup was born.

Shades Republic exists to take the hassle out of buying and replacing sunglasses!

Click the image to check out the Kickstarter.

If you like it, back it, and share!

A Contemporary(ish) Playlist For Holy Week

I put together a playlist of some more contemporary(ish) songs to pray along with during this Holy Week! There is soo much out there to choose from so I obviously couldn’t include everything, but below is what I came up with.

Anything you’d add?

Hosanna – Hillsong

“I see His love and mercy washing over all our sin / The people sing, “Hosanna!”

Come As You Are – Crowder

“Come out of sadness from wherever you’ve been / Come broken hearted, let rescue begin / Come find your mercy, O sinner come near / Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal”

Jesus – Chris Tomlin

“There is one born for our salvation, Jesus”

Letting Go – Matt Maher

“I stand in awe of You, and everything You’ve done for me.”

Dry Bones – Gungor 

“My soul cries out for you … Jesus you’re the one who saves us / Constantly creates us…Surely our Messiah will make all things new”

Love Has Come – Matt Maher

“Love has come to show the way”

Lead Me To The Cross – Hillsong

“Lead me to the Cross, where your love poured out”

Cry Out To Jesus – Third Day

“There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary, and love for the broken heart / There is grace and forgiveness, mercy and healing / He’ll meet you wherever you are / Cry out to Jesus”

Watch The Lamb – Ray Boltz

“‘Daddy, Daddy, what will we see there? There’s so much that we don’t understand.’ So I told them of Moses and Father Abraham. And /i said, ‘Dear children, watch the Lamb'”

The Old Rugged Cross – Alan Jackson

“So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down / And I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown”

Thy Will – Hillary Scott

“Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is, ‘Thy Will Be Done’ “

Amazing Love – The Newsboys

“I’m forgiven because you were forsaken. / I’m accepted because you were condemned”

Were You There – feat. Andrea Thomas

“O, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”

 

My Baby, My Way

 

The 3 and 2 year olds are in the shopping cart–one in the seat, and one in the basket itself. The baby is strapped to me in a baby carrier. I cram groceries around the big kids and bounce the baby when she gets fussy.

You don’t have to tell me that I have my hands full. But you probably will, and I’ll smile back and laugh as I say, “I know, right?” as if this thought has never crossed my mind.

Having three so close together gets me a lot of comments when we’re out. The vast majority are totally polite, encouraging, and mean no harm. There’s an odd mixture of admiration and terror in their eyes that says, “Girl you’re crazy! I could NEVER do that!”

Oh but you could. And if you found yourself in my shoes, you would!

I get it. Kids– though hilarious at times– are no joke.

Still, it’s always somewhat astounding to me how radical and crazy others find it for my family to simply have babies on my body’s natural schedule.

For my husband and I, marriage means the possibility (and extreme probability, in our case) of babies. In fact my youngest is approaching the age at which we tend to conceive another baby. So, if we were to get pregnant again, it would be a bit of “Oh wow, FOUR!” but honestly not all that shocking to either myself or my husband (…right, babe??). This is natural. This is normal. It’s good, even.

Of course there is some level of parental responsibility that has to play into this. Is it the best time for another baby? Can we afford another baby? Can we mentally cope with another baby? All of these are questions we have to prayerfully consider and are discussions my husband and I have on a regular basis. When we discern that postponing pregnancy is something we think would be best for our family, we use NFP to do so (which is no fun for anyone, because NFP is hard). But for us, fertility is a good and healthy part of a marriage, and not something we want to suppress, or “fix” in any way.

When I was pregnant with our third, there was a birth control pamphlet in my OB’s office. There were a lot, actually, but this one in particular had a picture of a woman in her mid-to-late-twenties on the front of it. She was at a children’s playground happily pushing a baby swing, except in the swing where the baby ought to be, there was a video camera. The tagline read: “My career is my baby right now.”

When we lived in La Jolla, the buses that would run for UCSD had these big ads on the sides of them promoting UCSD’s hospital system (which is great, by the way). The ads were in all caps and said: YOUR BABY, YOUR WAY. 

As a woman I am supposed to feel empowered by all of this ON MY TERMS rhetoric around the baby decision, but if I’m being honest, the prevalence of birth control, and the whole, “your baby your way” mindset has come with enormous societal pressure.

I mean, can you imagine being pregnant (happily!) for the third time in three and a half years, in an office surrounded by birth control ads full of women who–thanks to birth control–are actually doing something with their lives?

Truthfully, having babies is a little scary sometimes. And I think one unintended, and truly unfortunate, consequence of birth control is that women now feel hesitant to express these totally normal and legitimate anxieties about motherhood. You wanted this, didn’t you? Of course having 4 kids is hard. Why did you do that to yourself?

Your Baby, Your Way.

Flip side: Your Decision, Your Fault.

And, by the way, it isn’t just us “Fertile Myrtles” who get the flack for being “weird.” In a world where everyone thinks fertility is as simple as taking or not taking a pill, those who struggle to conceive have to deal with judging eyes and yet another person asking, “So when are you guys going to have kids?” after over a year of trying.

It’s not always as simple as “My Baby, My Way.”

So, yes, I totally get that me out with my crew of three, three and under is somewhat crazy. Nobody understands this better than me, I assure you.

But I’m not crazy simply for having babies close together. I’m just a woman, no more or less than the woman who decides she would rather focus on her career than have babies. I’m just a woman, no more or less than the woman who’d love to have babies, but struggles to conceive. My children are neither trophies awarded to me for being good, nor are they punishments for my poor decision making.

Ain’t nothing wrong with a little planning and knowing your own limitations. But if you ask me, the sooner we all let go of this need to control each and every aspect of our lives, and the crazy nuts illusion of being able to control life itself, the better off we’ll all be.

And P.S. – No, I’m not pregnant.  😉

When Good Friday Comes

Why me? Why now? Why is this happening?!

That’s what we do when things go wrong. We ask, “Why?” We look for the reason. We search for answers to, “Why?” because we desperately hope that knowing the why will somehow help us begin to put things back the right way.

And sometimes we tell ourselves that if we just knew how things would turn out in the end, we would be able to relax a little bit. This struggle wouldn’t be so hard if we knew the outcome.

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” 

(Matthew 20:18-19)

It’s easy to forget that Jesus told the disciples exactly what was going to happen to Him, before it happened. Good Friday was laid out in clear terms: I will be handed over, mocked, scourged, and crucified.

I am going to be killed. Brutally tortured, in fact.

But—on the third day, I will rise.

And of course, it happens. The agony, the betrayal, the torture, the death.

The disciples witness Good Friday, just as Jesus promised. –And most of them run in terror.

Did they forget what Jesus said? Did they forget that this was all part of the plan? Did they forget that He would rise?

I seriously doubt it. When things go wrong, we ask, “Why?” Surely as Good Friday is happening each of the disciples remembered: Jesus told us this would happen.

So why did most of them run?

Well, we can’t say for sure. But I can venture a guess.

If I put myself in the disciples’ shoes, my reaction to Jesus’ prediction of the Passion is probably going to be like Peter’s: “Jesus, no! I won’t let this happen.”

No, Peter. You’re not thinking as God does. This is happening. And you’re not supposed to do anything about it.

Well that would certainly shut me up, and confuse me a bit. But upon learning that I’m not supposed to try and stop it, my personal reaction would probably be mostly to comfort myself with the fact that, when it was all over, Jesus said He would rise.

Pray that you will not enter into temptation.

Of course I’ll pray, Jesus. But at the end of this you’re still going to rise, right? I got this. I can hold strong for Sunday.

Stay up and pray with me. The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Sure, sure. I’ll pray. I’m praying, ok? Just gonna lay here and rest my eyes some while I pray.

My hour is at hand.

Good Friday came as Jesus promised. And, even though the disciples knew what was going to happen three days later, most of them still ran in terror.

They had the knowledge that this was all “part of the plan,” but when your friend and Savior and Lord is being tortured…who cares about the plan? Why is this part of the plan?! This is awful. Just awful. Make it stop.

…Sound familiar?

Good Friday is coming. {Maybe it’s already here.}

Yes, Jesus has conquered death and we can, and do, live in that victory. But Jesus promised that we would undergo trials and suffering, too.

This is all part of the plan.

“Do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you; But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly”

(1 Peter 4:12)

So, when you encounter the Cross, don’t run. It won’t make it go away.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are called to do something to fix it.

Pray. Cry. Sweat. Embrace. 

Victory will come. Indeed, victory has already come.

Take up your cross, and follow Him.