Choices

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If you know anything at all about history (def not my favorite subject!), you know that a hundred years ago or even 50 years ago, women didn’t have many choices about what to do with their lives. Young ladies’ goals were pretty much to find a husband, have babies, cook and clean.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do any of those things. I’ve wanted all of those – except for cleaning. Nobody wants to do that – except for maybe a few crazy people like my friend Lindsey. Ha! Ha!

But today, women have soooo many choices.

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Torn

Torn by Mary

It’s been accomplished!

Business as usual, that is, until 12:00 noon, when it got suddenly dark. That afternoon, a violent earthquake shook the ground. Then, dramatically, the massive curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was ripped in two by an unseen Hand, from top to bottom.

Let’s look back at the hours and history leading to this very moment.

Jesus was before Caiaphas the high priest and said…

“But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Caiaphas tore his robes and called it blasphemy, condemning Jesus to death. (Matthew 26:64-65)

This was a big deal!

If you refer to Exodus 28:31-32 and Leviticus 21:10-12 you will see that God gave Moses the command on how to make a seamless tunic for the high priest to wear and the instructions that the tunic should not be torn. Doing so would symbolize the end of his priesthood.

So when Caiaphas tore his robe! What a symbol that the man, who for years was responsible for presenting our sacrifice to atone for our sins was no longer suitable to do so.

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”
John 19:23-24 ESV

So to bring it all together… The high priest that was set apart as Holy to atone for our sins. Tore his tunic. Symbolizing the end of his priesthood.

Do not miss this!

Jesus, His garment intact.

Caiaphas, his tunic torn…ending his priesthood

While the Roman soldiers gambled for the tunic of Jesus, that was woven together just as God had instructed Moses. Seamlessly woven one piece from top to bottom. It remained intact.  Some believe that this very tunic is on display in Germany. Our new High Priest who came to sacrifice Himself for our sins his blood was spilled for us, His sacrifice is our atonement.

Back to the temple. The curtain that separated them from the dwelling place of God was torn. The place we were not suitable to enter, the place set apart for the Holy priesthood
(1 Kings 6:19-20)

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. Matthew 27:51 ESV

The curtain torn…there is now no separation between us and God.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

Thank you Jesus for what you have endured to set us free from our sin. We don’t deserve it, yet you love us so much you died for us. Lord God, thank you for allowing us to come to you directly through your Son. May we live every day in the love that transpired on that cross. Let your love for us shine through us and into the world to make you known. Thank you! In Jesus name I pray.

Mary

Mary BenderMary Bender and her husband Norman live in Greencastle, PA.  They have three energetic boys, and one adorable little girl.  Mary counts herself as being truly blessed to be saved by Christ, who equips her to be a stay at home mom to her four “littles.”  In addition to being a wife and mother, Mary uses her God-given gifts to serve in women’s ministry at her church, LCBC, and as a life group leader.  Mary also uses her passion for women’s ministry for serving on the board of directors for “The Connection.”  It is Mary’s desire to serve and encourage women to have genuine faith while building a home and raising her children.

Unfinished Business: A Good Friday Devotion

We’re excited to have Laura Acuna as a guest writer this week.   Laura’s message for Good Friday gets your mind thinking and heart pumping.  Take some time to read/listen.  Enjoy!

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Hello Girlfriends,

As promised, here is a short devotion for Good Friday. I hope you are able to settle in and not rush on to the Easter celebration. Today is a good day to reflect on what He has done and what our response will be to His sacrifice.

Continue reading “Unfinished Business: A Good Friday Devotion”

Shot from the Shadows

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The wicked are stringing their bows and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings.

They shoot from the shadows at those whose hearts are right. Psalm 11:2

When I read this my mind went right back to one of the most painful chapters of my life. The poisonous arrows came out of nowhere. Straight through my heart.

Someone pulled me aside and told me that I needed to apologize to someone for what I had done and they shared the story they had been told. That I had wronged someone. Badly. I’ll call her “Her”.

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Searching for a Church?

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Here’s what my family and I have been going through recently.

We moved two years ago. Two months after settling in, we decided to begin looking for a church to call home. We didn’t have any plan other than two churches that had been recommended and three which we Googled.

It was almost like the story of the three bears.

1st Church — Too big. Felt overwhelmed.

2nd Church — Too small. Too far away. Not many children. (we have three kids and at that time they were ages 3, 8 and 11)

3rd Church — Just right… Well, just right for my husband. As we walked out, he began saying, “I don’t know about you but this is where I am going from now on.”

And for what may have been the first time in our marriage…I didn’t object. Although, I felt the decision was rushed to call this church our home.

Continue reading “Searching for a Church?”

Simplify: Decluttering Our Faith

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Growing up, my family met downstairs for breakfast promptly at 6:15 am.  My dad would turn on the radio and adjust the dial to WTOP 1500, his favorite station for “up to the minute traffic and weather.”

If the dial wasn’t in the proper position, the voices of the announcers were difficult to decipher or we’d tune in to a different station entirely.  Occasionally we’d hear nothing but static, signaling the antennae was out of alignment.  My dad would manually move it left or right until the signal came in clear.

As a result of the morning traffic reports, my dad sometimes changed his route to work.  As a result of the weather report, we’d decide what to wear.  A day didn’t go by without us listening to that station.  It’s something I still remember, now twenty-five years later.

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Be Strong & Courageous

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Be strong and courageous.

That’s definitely not how I would describe myself.

Never.

I’m a play it safe kinda person. I’m more of a let’s-think-through-every-detail-and-make-multiple-plans-and-checklists-and-not-take-any-risks kinda person.

I’ve read the parable of the talents and thought, “But is the guy that protected what he was given so wrong?!?”

Apparently, because God says so.

Sigh.

At the beginning of this year, I spent some time reflecting on 2018 and what was ahead in 2019. Joshua 1:9 popped in my head.

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Alrighty. I’d be lying if I said that that didn’t make me a little nervous. You begin thinking about what’s to come and God gives you “don’t be afraid”. Afraid? Afraid of what?!? Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

I was reminded that multiple times in December, I “ran into” the phrase “be strong and courageous”. (Fun fact: that phrase is used 14 times in the Old Testament. Who knew?)

As you probably know, when you “run into” something (especially scripture) multiple times in a short period of time, God is trying to get your attention.

So… Now I’m bracing myself and thinking, “Okay God. I’ll try to be strong and courageous.”

That’s enough of that. I decide to move on with my day and start scrolling through Facebook. I stopped when I saw that Jessie Seneca had shared a blog post called, “Signs of a Successful Event”. I’m always up for learning how to improve on The Connection’s events. I begin reading her post.

Guess what scripture she referenced?!?!?!

Joshua 1:8-9. Yeah!

“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:8-9

Now God REALLY had my attention. I read this multiple times to be sure I wasn’t missing anything important. I saw so much more than just “don’t be afraid”. This time, I also noticed “for the Lord is with you wherever you go” at the end. Big sigh of relief inserted here! God is not just warning me that there are difficult times ahead but reminding me that I am not alone.

Continue reading “Be Strong & Courageous”

Grace Unfolded – Part 2

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…….Continued from Last Week…..

Being front row in the life of a family member who can’t seem to get their junk together may just be the place where God wants you. Front row to the show so that you can clearly see the need and to offer help, encouragement and a safe place for them to come and confide in you.

“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” 1 Peter 4:10

God has given gifts to all of His children. Encouragement isn’t everyone’s strong suit. He placed specific people on earth to be encouragers. If we know we are an encourager but don’t use that gift because we feel like we are owed it ourselves, we aren’t living the fullest to our God given potential.

Most of the time, we have no clue how much impact our positive words can have on each other. I, for one, can remember things that women have said to me over the years that have left an imprint on my heart and mind and have changed me for the good.

Like in any relationship, consistent communication and listening are key. Being still to listen in the midst of your spouse or friend and mostly, being still in the midst of God. God has an endless amount of grace for us. Be quiet and still and let him saturate you with it, He always has time for us.

Those toys that Aunt Sally keeps giving you that make you want to throw them out your window? Guess what Mommas? You can once she leaves. (or donating it would be more environmentally friendly, ha!) But showing her grace by accepting it and thanking her, may just make her day and give her a sense of purpose because maybe her love language is gift giving.

We all know the stress that can go into holiday dinner preparations. I am sure the food that you are trying not to throw up while maintaining a genuine smile and the occasional head bob was made with a whole heap full of those emotions baked right into it! (maybe that’s why it tastes so bad?)

We have no idea of the lives that are in all of those cars around us on the road every day. No idea of the day or week they just had. We can choose to react on the circumstantial evidence at hand, or we can politely and willingly pull to the side or over a lane or just simply smile and wave and let them be on their way. And hey, maybe the car in front of you IS feeding the 5,000, or serving the 50 people in their office by bringing them coffee or breakfast. Who knows!

I’m sure the parent whose child just threw up is feeling judged and embarrassed as it is. She doesn’t need your brash looks or passive aggressive comments. Next week it could be your child. Pray good health and safety over the class and children and leave it in God’s hands.

Then you have those young children who are constantly wearing their hearts on their sleeves and throwing temper tantrums every time they don’t get their way. Don’t we secretly wish we could act like that to sometimes? Ha! We need to be the mature parents ‒  training, correcting and disciplining our children for their bad behaviors. But, we should be doing all that with grace because we understand where they are coming from. And they have sin in them just as you and I have sin in us.

Continue reading “Grace Unfolded – Part 2”

Grace Unfolded – Part 1

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I’ve always heard of the word, grace.

Have grace.

Show grace.

Your grace is enough.

You are saved by grace.

God’s grace.

Grace. Grace. Grace.

It’s a pretty obvious and easy to understand grace as a noun. But I have never really dug deep and meditated and thought about it as a verb.

To give grace.

To show grace.

To extend grace.

To be someone’s grace.

Grace.

Dealing with your disobeying children…grace.

Loving your neighbor no matter how hard she has hurt you…grace.

Helping a neighbor when they rarely return the favor…grace.

When you call your grandma when you know she won’t even remember the conversation and will complain that you never call her…grace.

Submitting to your husbands decisions when you know they are going to blow up in his or your face…grace.

Respecting one another’s opinions and views when you think/know they are waaaaay out of place….grace.

Waiting on your family member to turn their life around when you see them making poor choice after poor choice….grace.

Encouraging your friends/sisters when you don’t feel encouraged by them or anyone…..grace.

Being still in the midst of God when you just want to run and be busy (we got things to do people!) …grace.

When your family member won’t stop buying your children annoying toys with the batteries still inside them….grace.

When the holiday dinner really isn’t all that good but you have to sit there and eat it with a smile….grace.

When a car cuts in front of you on the highway or is riding your tail end and you really want to laaaaaay on that horn or go a little bit slower and throw your hands up…grace.

When the car in front of you in the drive thru line at your favorite coffee shop or restaurant is ordering enough food to feed the 5,000…grace.

Continue reading “Grace Unfolded – Part 1”