Day 2: Jesus Clears the Temple

Today, we continue tracing the footsteps of Jesus, as Monday morning he returned with his disciples to Jerusalem. Along the way, Jesus cursed a fig tree because it had failed to bear fruit. (Matthew 21:18-22)Some scholars believe this cursing of the fig tree represented God’s judgment on the spiritually dead religious leaders of Israel. Others believe the symbolism extended to all believers, demonstrating that genuine, living faith is more than just outward religiosity. True faith must bear spiritual fruit in a person’s life.

When Jesus arrived at the Temple he found the courts full of corrupt sales people.

He began flipping over their tables and clearing the Temple, saying, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” (Luke 19:46)

On Monday evening Jesus stayed in Bethany again, probably in the home of his friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

Matthew 21:12-17New International Version (NIV)

Jesus at the Temple

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.

“It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’[a] but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’[b]”

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.

But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,

“‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’[c]?”

And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

 Read more here- Mark 11:15–19, Luke 19:45-48, and John 2:13-17.

What I learned today…Jesus showed us His temper when He was frustrated with the people in the temple. I love that He did that. It helps when I feel righteous anger!
AND I need to make sure my house and temple stay holy, asking God to test MY heart in all I do.

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Who? Me?

Have you ever had one of those moments where you have walked in to a situation and thought, “What in the world am I doing here?”.

I do that at work, a LOT. I look at God incredulously a LOT and ask Him, “Do you REALLY think I belong here?”. You know, those days were you feel SO different.

Not smart enough. Not young enough. Not old enough. Not thin enough. Not “Holy” enough. Not male enough. Not female enough. Not “hip” enough. Not quiet enough. Not “soft” enough.

I do alllll the time. Now, I know you can say, we need to remember God created us all beautifully for a specific purpose! And I hear what you are saying because I get it. I just feel completely under-qualified 85% of the time. The other 15% of the time, I think I’ve got it.

Last night Chad and I were invited to a function. It felt like a hush-hush deal so I didn’t bring it up much at work. I felt privilege to have been afforded an invite. I was excited to see who would be there.

When we arrived, it was a small, narrow building and I saw some familiar faces right away. (Now remember, I am VERY socially awkward with small talk, even with people I love.)  I saw wonderful people from the worship and production teams and only a few others. People that I REALLY like and admire…but rarely have words to use around them in my awkwardness, so Chad and I were thankful to have a couple faces that we could connect with.

As the evening began, I was YET AGAIN in awe of the leader of our worship team. He truly has a heart for God. I am not close enough with his wife, but I can safely assume she does as well. As he started the evening, he took time to thank each and every person that had helped with the release of their first EP (“First” ironically is the name and you can click here to purchase it on Itunes now). As he walked through each name, you saw each person feel honored and hold their head a little higher because they were SEEN and Valued.

As I was looking around thinking, what am I doing here, I was praising God for such amazing people. We were in a room full of people that use their time, energy and gifts pouring their talents back out to the Lord who provided them all of those things.

And then, the leader said MY name. What?!?!? He said he was thankful for my support. Through the thick and thin they new I was always cheering for them and praying for them. Soooo, I teared up, because I couldn’t believe he’d point that out!!! Isn’t that what we are suppose to do? Love and support each other? Pray for each other? I felt like it was a privilege and honor to have a position where I can support and pray for them. Shouldn’t we all be doing that for each other?

So as I stood there praying my heart out, asking for God to show people His love and His mercy. I felt God strongly say there is someone here that NEEDS to know THEY ARE SEEN. I looked behind me and thought WOW, God must love her a LOT to be having me awkwardly step over and give her a big hug in the midst of it all. He wanted HER to know that she is KNOWN. Did I have a chance to truly explain that? Nope. But I am hoping she felt it through my look and hug. Sadly, she left before I could get to her again. I prayed God would stay with her.

Who in your life are you not SEEing? Who did He put in your life that you can support and pray for. Not in a big way, but in a way that says YOU MATTER.

What I learned today…Be thankful for those in your life. Acknowledge and honor the gifts God gave them. I need to always thank God for the opportunity to work for Him. And to constantly ask Him to show me who He needs me to tap on the shoulder, hug and let them know they are SEEN.

 

Old Friends, Rock’n Roll & My Big Butt

Saturday night we were invited to a party and a friend’s house and another friend’s band was playing their yearly St. Patty’s Day gig.

I would love to say I was having a hard time deciding which one to go to, but I wasn’t. My heart wanted to attend both and have fun like the “good ‘ole days”, but my mind was saying…NOOOOOOOOO! Have you seen your butt?!?!?

I have already written about my insecurity about my size. I have started the road to becoming healthier. I have NOT gotten my self-esteem on track with the issue. Did I REALLY want to go to two different parties and have a BLAST with old friends, catching up with them and their lives, hearing about their families? Of course I did. Was I going to allow myself to be stopped by my own insecurities? Of course.

That played in to the tantrum I wrote about yesterday as well.

We went to our church service, and as I walked in, I realize how much of our lives have changed. Do I miss going crazy and partying each weekend? To be honest, yes, sometimes. Do I miss hanging out watch friends get crazy and dance around? Yes, sometimes. But I realized, we were sitting in service with our best friends. They have been a constant for the last 3 years. They know the new redeemed and transformed Julie and Chad.

I sat there asking God if I would ever feel comfortable with my size. He reminded me I am working on it and with His help all things are possible. I told Him I was sad I wasn’t able to go see old friends perform…and then an old friend walked on to the stage. At church. To sing. I almost giggled out loud as my eyes welled with tears. emily b She sang a beautiful song that went straight to my heart. Even these lyrics that were on the screen as I took the picture… It reminded me, If God is with me, who can be against me?

I don’t have to worry about my big butt. Jesus loves me right where I am. He wants me to be healthy, but I shouldn’t stop going places and doing things because of how I look. I have nothing to prove. I can enjoy life knowing that I have no one to prove myself too.

What I learned today…My God loves me, unconditionally and will be with me wherever I go. I need to kick my insecurities to the curb and keep THAT fresh in my mind. No more excuses or big “buts”.

 

 

Pouting and Praise

Yesterday I threw a GINORMOUS tantrum. Yelling, guilt-throwing, crazy-lady tantrum. I was in an extreme pout mode. All I could think about was “What about me?”. I hadn’t been feeling good all week, but that is no excuse. I was tired, but that is no excuse. Felt behind on housework, school work and work work, but that is no excuse.

My frustration, when I boiled it down, came from my shame over the feeling I am a horrible mom. With one struggling in school, not enough time to really have  quality time with my boys, a house that is in constant disarray, meals that are generally take out, etc…etc… I, personally, was feeling down. What is the easiest thing to do? Lash out at those around me and point the fingers at everyone but myself.

Thankfully, after my husband reacted poorly to me reacting poorly, we were able to connect. It started with more finger pointing and tears, and all that goes along with these types of conversations. Thankfully, we have learned, over many successes and even more failures in communication, to KEEP talking.

After we started feeling that we were getting back on track to understanding each other, we were off to church. (Have you ever found that your craziest times are right before church?!?!)

When we arrived, I went in the row, with our friends following me, and then my husband capped the row off at the end. It was a strange feeling as usually we are always sitting together, but I blew it off.  I looked up to see an elderly couple walk it. I always love watching them come in as she is generally dressed beautifully and he is known to come in wearing sweats and flip-flops using his cane to help him keep up with her quick pace.

Last night, he had a bit of a hop in his step. He was wearing a black golfers hat and had dressed up a bit. As he walked, he was almost passing his cane in his hurry to sit down! At one point I though we’d have to pick him up if he fell!

The worship team started singing. Now worship is a bit different for me, as I am not very eloquent with my prayers, so I listen to the songs and sing them up to God. I happened to glance over to my favorite couple, and the man was doing every thing he could to praise God. He was immersed in the song, singing at the top of his lungs. That is when I noticed his hands. His right hand was holding his left hand as high as he could. It looked like his left hand won’t work on it’s own, so in order to praise God, he had to physically assist one side of his body. I know I am not describing the beauty of it in the right words. All I know is that I was bawling like a baby. I sang to Jesus at the top of my lungs captivated by this man. Thanking God for the opportunity to watch someone in a much worse physical predicament then me,praising God with all his heart!

It reminded me of where God has me now. Through the craziness of life, I need to continue to praise him in all circumstances. I need to be thankful for the intentional time I do get with my family, for the ability to work and go to school. For a house that is messy with items we have been allowed to buy to provide.

What I learned today…I shouldn’t concentrate on the past or the future. I should remember to constantly praise God through all circumstances and do the best I possibly can in each moment.

How To Read Your Bible

Okay, now that I am back in Seminary (after a short break) I’ll have to share with you a couple of the things I am learning, on occasion.

This week I learned a FANTASTIC way to read the Bible. You see, when I read it, I usually get stuck. I’ll read a couple of verses and freak out because there is so much in them to teach me. I usually will then tell the closest person around me how excited I am about those couple of verses and then move on.

What I learned this week…is I haven’t been letting God finish His thought! I haven’t been letting Him speak to me through the WHOLE chapter.

My new way of reading through the Bible will look like this –

  1. Read the whole chapter, straight through.
  2. Read the chapter again underlining the thoughts that the Holy Spirit is leading you to pay attention to.
  3. Read through it, again, reading all that you had underlined.

So far, I haven’t tried this BRILLIANT strategy. I keep just opening the Bible and asking the Lord to show me what He’d like me to read.

BUT, I will try it tomorrow. Because it sounds like a good way to really see what God has to tell me in a complete way.

Memorization Is Miserable

I don’t know about you, but I am HORRIBLE at memorization. From songs, to movie lines, to school work, my brain shuts off the second I reallllly want to memorize something.

I remember sitting in my cousin Tracey’s car, listening to Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana 100 times trying to get the words correct. She would just laugh and say, “Again?!?!”

The inability to capture information and make it stick is frustrating. I absolutely love hanging out with those of you can that remember a movie line to fit any situation or hear a couple of words and start belting out a song that used the same words. It is such a great gift to be able to do that. Share it with others! We are greatly entertained by it!

When it comes to memorizing the Bible, I have gotten really good at paraphrasing. I remember the “gist” of the verse, but not the exact words. I remember the point, but not the “address” of where it is located in the Bible. This all is fine when I first started out on my journey of faith, but at this point, I need to step up my game.

Quick example – I use the verse “Jesus wept” a lot when I am talking with others. I truly want them to see that Jesus was sad, too. It is okay to mourn the loss of a loved one. It is okay to mourn, period. Well, in using that verse, I could never answer the question, “Where is that in the Bible?”. I couldn’t for the life of me remember.

Than I heard how the enemy doesn’t want you to remember verses and/or where they fall in the Bible (we talked about it on an earlier post). Now, I am determined to know “Jesus wept” is found in John 11:35. Now, we have a verse written on my whiteboard to learn each week.

Well, it’s on my whiteboard, refridge, bathroom mirror, etc… to make SURE I memorize them.

Now YOU know, “Jesus wept” can be found where? John 11:35

And this week….

“We are not trying to please men, but GOD, who tests OUR hearts”. 1 Thess 2:4b

(I put in the caps as that is what I see when I read it, TODAY).

What I learned today…Keep studying. Don’t give the enemy a foothold. Learn as much of the Bible as I can so I can recall not only the verse, but the address and context as well.

Teenage Tantrums

Do you have wise people around you? Do you listen to them?

One of the wise people around me said something in a short 5 minute conversation that made me sad, mad and glad.

I was talking about a tough week I had had with one of my teens. His reply was, “Huh. It is great to watch God having you go through this with one of your kids right now, as you are going through the same thing with God.”

Sad – Oh, NO! I do tend to get upset and say, “God, what are you doing?! Don’t you know what will make me happy?” And then wait fairly impatiently for God to do what I want Him too.

Mad – WHAT?!?! I don’t throw tantrums like that! Well, okay, maybe I do. BUT I trust God’s path for me, don’t I? I push and talk to God about what I want, but I do lean on His direction.

Glad – I do. I do lean on God as He moves me through situations that will grow and stretch me. I don’t mind being uncomfortable for HIM.

As it stands, I’m glad someone pointed out the similarities. It helped me remember that God, my Father, has His hands full with me. I do go to Him with my fears and worries, and though it might take me awhile sometimes, I do walk the path He is putting in front of me.

What I learned today…I feel a change is coming. I don’t know what it is, but I know who is directing it. Whether I like it or not, the whole point of my life is to do what God is asking me to do…and pray I like it. 🙂

Teenagers…Always

I remember being one…but it wasn’t like it is now. I can’t begin to imagine the pressure our teens feel. Everything is at their fingertips. They truly have to guard their minds and hearts at all times.

Having a teenager is AWESOME. I currently have two and a “tweeny” (11yr old describes himself that way). They are fun, funny, active, caring, witty…just all around amazing. We were always told teens were difficult. No one told us how much fun they would be to hang out with!

That doesn’t mean we don’t have tough times. Through all the battles they go through, my heart breaks for them frequently. That doesn’t mean I will take the easy road. That would be difficult in the long run, for allll of us.

I was talking with one of them over a challenge he was facing. Now that he is getting older, he couldn’t understand why I won’t let him dictate his direction. It’s a bit negotiable, but I am still the mom.

This is how I described it to him…

When he was a toddler, he loved eating with his hands. He would giggle and get food everywhere. There came a point when I need him to start learning how to use a spoon and fork. That made him FURIOUS! He would scream and through the utensils, then scream and throw the food! His actions showed how made he was because I didn’t understand that he DIDN’T WANT TO follow my direction. It was so much easier to just use his hands!

Now, though he is old and wiser, there are times where he will still feel like he really knows the best way to go, the best choices for his future. I could let him do whatever he feels like, however there are times when, as a parent, we need to step in and provide direction. He will get VERY made and get frustrated and maybe even not like us in the moment. All I can do is pray and stay strong. I can remember that little boy that threw a tantrum when he couldn’t see the path ahead of him. He only knew what he wanted in the moment.

I am like that with God. I think I know what would be best for me, and pray and pray that God will answer my prayers. When He doesn’t, I throw a tantrum. I do. I get so frustrated and think he doesn’t understand that I REALLY wanted it!

I know I have to realize that He knows what is best for me. He sees all the things I can’t see. I have to trust in Him and though I don’t understand His direction, I have to know He truly wants the best for me.

Remember –

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not in your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight. Prov 3:5-6

What I learned today…I love my teens so very much. I have to remember, to parent them, even when it is hard. Each day I need to spend thanking God for being patient with me and constantly showing me mercy and pray I can do the same to those I love.

 

Highs and Lows

I don’t know about you, when I have a REALLY good day, I forget that all things are temporary. On the same note, when I have a REALLY bad day, I forget the same thing.

This weekend was pretty amazing. Sitting down with someone I didn’t know who was able to take my life and remind me of the truth of how God made me. Coming off the high from the weekend, I forgot that I generally hit a low soon after.

Personally, I believe we can be such a positive force for good that evil has to throw a wrench in wherever he can. If I am loving how God made me, and sharing how knowing what you are built for puts you even closer to doing what God has for you, of COURSE there will be opposition. Today, it felt a bit overwhelming.

Now, I have a choice to crumble under the pressure of 3 things that happened today, that each on their own could be debilitating. I did take moments throughout the day to cry out to God. AND, to be honest, physically cry whether it be in my office, a stairway, or in my car. After each release and pause, I turned my face up, wiped away the tears, and carried on.

Though my day could have crushed me, I choose to be joyful and ask God to show me all the blessings around. He reminded me of what my husband shared in our small group, “If there is breath in our lungs, we have a chance to rejoice. God gave us another day and another breath”.

Today had it’s highs and lows. I am CHOOSING to take a moment and pray about the lows, asking for direction, guidance, support and wisdom. I am choosing to put another step forward and rejoice, thanking God for always being faithful.

Today I learned…I cannot control my families thoughts or actions. I can pray and keep praying. I have to remind myself that God loves my family even more than I do, though I can’t understand that!

1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing”

Seminary Starts Back Up Today

I am one who THIRSTS for knowledge. I love learning from others, hearing opinions, reading how others have made things work, or how they haven’t. I rarely feel “filled” to the brim with all I would like to know. The only time I truly feel like my brain will explode is when I read the Bible. There is so much to learn.

Each time I read it, I learn something completely new, or it reminds me of something I have forgotten. Even if it’s a verse I have read 100 times, I’ll get something new from it and once again be in awe of how I see something new, depending on the season I’m in.

All of that being said, I am not built for being educated in a traditional way. It is very frustrating for me to have to cross t’s and dot i’s as I’m built for a fast, fluid and flexible mentality. There are a LOT of you who are built for education and that is FANTASTIC. I am just not one of them.

As I jump in to this next class on the Old Testament, I hope to be able to share with you all that God is showing me. Not because I HAVE to be in the class, but because I am choosing to.

Would LOVE your prayers!

What I learned today…it is OKAY for me to not like school. Some people aren’t built to.