A Living Hope: I am alive

Contrary to popular belief, we are not just pining away on earth until we finally get to heaven. We can experience the abundant life Jesus promised here, now, in this present life.

Because of the resurrection, eternal life starts now.

The fact that Jesus is alive is what makes the Good News so great. This means we can have fellowship with him today and experience the abundant life he promises for those who believe.

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A Living Hope: I am free

By nature, the word salvation implies that we are saved from something. 

The Gospel isn’t a self-improvement program. It is a liberation movement.

And liberation is only needed if I am a slave.

The truth is that all of humanity is enslaved to sin. The word sin means to “miss the mark”; we are by nature law-breakers and fail to meet God’s perfect moral standard.

“For all have sinned…everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin…for whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved” (Rom 3:23, John 8:34, 2 Pet 2:19).

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A Living Hope: I am secure

Life is unpredictable. In the span of three decades, I’ve already lost more than I care to lose: family, friends, a job, dreams and health.

When you’ve experienced recurring loss and grief, it can create a cycle of anxiety and fear over what else you could lose.

Salvation, for one.

Many times I have been gripped by the panic that I could lose my relationship with God. Or that Jesus will forget me when death darkens my door. Could I do something to jeopardize my eternity? Will my faith be enough?

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A Living Hope: I am forgiven

I know Jesus has forgiven me. But too often I live like this forgiveness isn’t full or free. I allow my past to define me. When I fail, I fear God will be mad at me. And though I don’t admit it, I’m still trying to prove my worth so that God will accept and approve of me.

But the resurrection proves I am forgiven.

The resurrection proved that Jesus died, not for his own sins, but ours alone. “For death has rightful claim only over sinners” but death had no hold over Jesus (Acts 2:24). The resurrection proved that Jesus had the authority to forgive sins and showed that God not only accepted Jesus’ sacrifice and payment for sin, but He declared Jesus innocent by raising him from the dead.

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A Living Hope: rediscover the power of Easter

I caught her gaze and she looked at me. She mustered a smile, but her eyes betrayed her. To others, she looked happy. But I knew better.

Her shoulders hunched from the shame she carried; that nagging guilt that told her she was useless, worthless, and a burden to others. The lines etched in her forehead revealed the anxiety and pain that plagued her on a daily basis. Fear of present and future circumstances hovered over her like a dark cloud.

She looked discouraged. Overwhelmed. Burdened. Weary.

Dejected, I tore my gaze away from the mirror. Continue reading

60 Ways Jesus Loves You Even If Others Don’t

For some, Valentine’s Day is not always a happy one. The pressure to fit a year’s worth of romance and love into one day comes with its own set of expectations and disappointments.

If you’ve been jaded by relationships, you may feel broken-hearted, embittered or let down by love.

But at the risk of sounding cliche, there is someone who will always love you well.

Jesus loves you. Perfectly. Always. Forever. Regardless.

Maybe you’ve heard it so often that its meaning and impact has faded over time. Perhaps your own wounds, experiences or relationships have tainted your view of God and His love for you. If others have rejected, despised, blamed, ridiculed or abused you, you may fear Jesus will do the same.

But Jesus loves you differently. The way He treats you and interacts with you is not the same way others do. Continue reading

3 Ways to Follow God When Your Path is Unclear

By the time we rolled into the sleepy town, dusk had turned to dark. We had joined our friends for a weekend getaway up north, where the only grocery store for miles around is named after ol’ man Jim.

We moseyed our way through the national forest, finally pulling to a stop in the middle of the woods. I peered out of the window in confusion. There was no cabin in sight.

Now, I knew our destination was completely off the grid. No electricity. No running water. The bathroom was an outhouse, for goodness sake. The only thing keeping my husband and I cozy that frozen night would be a wood-burning fireplace and heavy flannel blankets.

But no one, NOT ONE soul told me we would be hiking a mile through the woods with our gear strapped to our backs. In the pitch black of night.

Clutching my pillow, I reluctantly vacated the safety of the car. Snow crunched under my feet as the unusual noises of nature kicked my pulse up a notch. Continue reading

13 Mind-Blowing Facts about Jesus’ Birth You Might Not Know

Every year we celebrate the familiar story of Jesus’ birth with pageants, movies, carols and greeting cards. Manger scenes are decked out with all the proverbial characters, as baby Jesus smiles sweetly from the manger.

But if you think you know the Christmas story, you may want to think again.

Buried under years of tradition and translation, the historic and cultural details surrounding the events of the nativity are no longer common knowledge.

If you want a deeper understanding of the Bible that will blow your mind this Christmas, take a gander through these profound yet often missed details.

Here are 13 fun facts about Jesus’ birth you probably won’t hear from the pulpit this year! Continue reading