Podcast 026 – “Let’s Talk About It: Race, White Privilege, BLM and More” with Vickie Hunter

What is white privilege and why do some white people struggle with the idea? Does saying and believing black lives matter mean you’re supporting or advocating for the BLM foundation or are anti-police? How can we engage in healthy conversation about racism and racial discrimination, and what are some steps we can take toward change and reconciliation?

In this episode of the Arise Ministries Collective Podcast, guest Vickie Hunter joins Lisa DaSilva to work through a few of the heavy topics surrounding race in America. We hope you’ll take time to quiet your heart, join in their conversation, and be part of gospel-centered healing.

 

Scripture References 

Micah 6:8

“He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?”

Colossians 2:8

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”

Luke 10:47

“And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Psalm 139:23-24

 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
  And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!”

Psalm 19:14 

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

Genesis 1:27

So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.”

Galatians 3:28

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

 

Noteworthy Quotes

“White privilege is a built in advantage because of the color of your skin…  It also means you’re exempt from certain disadvantages.”

“When we all win, we all win.”

Concerning giving up privilege: “Think about the gospel itself – It is such a paradox. How do we gain our life? We have to lose it. To truly live, we have to die. To really be strong in the Lord, we have to boast about our weakness…  You think you’re going to be losing something or give up something, and you’re really not.”

Concerning Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter: “You love your children, but if one falls and skins his knee, that’s the one you’re running to – To tend to them at that moment. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your other children. It just means that one is hurting at that moment and needs some help. We’re crying out that we need help.”

“If we have a friend, or a brother or a sister in Christ and they’re hurting, there are certain ways to respond. By denying their pain, ignoring their pain, or saying, ‘Well, I don’t feel pain,” doesn’t mean that they are not in pain.”

“God knows your heart more than you know your own heart.”

“When we love the way that we should, we all win.”

“I don’t know the person or people who founded the BLM organization. I do know that the saying Blacks lives matter is a Christian worldview though. Christians are not borrowing this slogan from the world. The world borrowed this truth from the Christian worldview.” – Preston Perry via Twitter

“Every man shows himself to be a skillful teacher of justice for his own advantage.” – John Calvin

 

Next Steps
  • Pray: Ask the Lord to reveal areas of blindness and to uncover biases. Take time to process with an open heart and mind.
  • Study Scripture: Use this resource as a launching point to understand justice and kindness from God’s perspective. The Bible is packed with stories about God’s response to justice and His expectation of ours. 
  • Investigate: Read and listen to a variety of perspectives concerning history, systemic racism, and the human experience. Talk to your black friends and be open to genuinely learning from their responses. Consider reading some of the books in our previously published article about justice and empathy.
  • Vote: Research candidates and platforms on your ballot. Judges, local constituents, city council members, and many others play a big role in influencing policy and change. Know who you’re voting for and what they stand for.
  • Talk About It: Regularly talk about race, biases, assumptions, injustice, and current events in your homes and with your children.
  • Arise: Ask, “How can I affect and influence systemic change?” and move into action. This may mean writing letters, signing petitions, participating in a peaceful protest, and supporting organizations that align with your Biblical worldview and work toward racial justice. The & Campaign is a great place to start.

 

About Our Guest: Vickie Hunter is a Jesus-loving empty nester and mama to one adult son. She has lived on Long Island, NY her entire life but loves to travel. Her last major trip was to Israel where she had the amazing opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Vickie has attended Island Christian Church for the past 25 years and has served as their Office Manager for the last 15. She is a mentor to many young women in her church and community who affectionately refer to her as “Auntie.”

Justice, Your Family & You: Thoughts and Resources to Help Foster Empathy and Understanding

The loud cry for justice rises against stark silence and turning away. Some seem consumed with raising issues and demanding action while others are contentedly blinded – unwilling to know because it might mandate some sort of pain, change, or response. Feelings and opinions divide communities and churches.

Phrases like social responsibility and social justice are rampant in current Western culture, but what do they mean for followers of Christ? Sons and daughters of the king? Parents determined to raise children with meaningful faith? Members of local neighborhoods, nations, and citizens of the world?

Looking Through Lenses

While I normally begin sorting through these types of questions by searching Scripture (always a great place to start), I wonder if an honest and heartfelt exploration of the self as it relates to both social justice and the Bible is an appropriate place to begin. 

Here’s what I mean.

Each of us has presuppositions – Deeply-rooted ideas and ideals about the world we may not even know are there. Understanding how we think and interact with others begins by posing questions about ourselves. Who are we, and why? What are the beliefs and values we cling to and how have they been shaped by past experiences, upbringing, family history, political affiliation, socioeconomic status, cultural background, trauma, relationships, ethnicity, country of origin, church, social circles, and/or theology? 

Our past experiences work together to create personalized lenses through which we see  – Like a pair of glasses we don’t know we have on. These lenses not only cause us to assess, evaluate and assume things about the world and people around us, but also affect the way we interpret Scripture. We can understand the Bible and the great God it speaks of when we better understand how our personal perceptions shape the way we approach its content. This is why studying Scripture to learn the intended audience, context, culture, history, and author of a particular passage is so important (read more about the Inductive Study Method here). Employing rigorous Bible study strategies and uncovering our own biases can help us better determine what Scripture actually says rather than what we want it to say.

Justice and the Human Story

Recognizing how our own story contributes to underlying assumptions not only helps us rightly handle God’s story in the Bible, but better prepares us to listen to and connect with someone else’s. Empathy (a key part of justice) is manifested when we willingly take off our lenses to see other people more clearly.

I believe stories are a doorway to justice and mercy. Hearing or reading about a person or people groups’ experience helps us understand and empathize. Taking time to immerse ourselves in a story about another’s plight, a justice/injustice themed event in history, a narrative that challenges pre-conceived ideas or yields an empathetic response are all valuable to understanding social justice as followers of Christ. Our goal in listening should not be to evaluate someone’s personal story and deem it right or wrong, nor to follow up with “but” or comparative statements. We read and listen to gain perspective. To understand. To begin to know the teller and value his or her experience, regardless of whether or not we can relate to it.

As a teacher by trade and reader by passion, I have a storehouse of books in my home and garage. While I regularly sift through them to get rid of ones we no longer read, those about social issues and human rights will likely remain with me forever. There are joy-inducing stories celebrating differences and the will to overcome, and others that pose questions about injustices in our world such as racial inequality, the Holocaust, Japanese Internment, our response to the poor, and refugees. There are stories that evoke empathy, and others that simply make me think, grieve and wonder. There are stories for young children, school-aged students, and young adults. Few of them are deemed “Christian” books by the publisher, but the nature of their content draws us to call on Biblical truth and initiate a response in both thought and action (scroll down to see some of my favorites).

I believe God thinks stories are a key way to understand His precepts, tug at our heart-strings, and reveal His plan. It’s why the Bible is so full of them – A glorious and inspired collection of stories about the character of God, His creation, Israel, and the Messiah.

Micah 6:7-8 is one of the most well-known scriptures about justice and kindness in the Old Testament. We’ll unpack it together in a moment, but I’ve included a printable download with more Scripture for further study and some suggestions to guide your investigation. You can access it here, or by clicking on the image below.

 
Do Justice, Love Kindness

6  “With what shall I come before the Lord,

      and bow myself before God on high?

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,

     with calves a year old?

7  Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

     with ten thousands of rivers of oil?

Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,

    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

8  He has told you, O man, what is good;

     and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

     and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:6-8, ESV)

 

Micah asks hypothetical questions on behalf of Israel: Lord what do you want from us? How can we please you? We’ll sacrifice. We’ll offer our firstborn children. Just tell us what you want.  So God answers through His prophet, Micah. He tells them there are three things He requires, and infers that they should already know what they are: 

To do justice

To love kindness

To walk humbly with God.

Semantics are important here. The Bible doesn’t say to love justice, or to consider just responses. It says to DO justice. It’s a practice. An action verb. We can’t simply think about it and call it good. We can’t cry a little and be done. We can’t post a few great images or catchy quotes to check a now-I-feel-better-about-it box.

Israel’s sacrifices and words meant nothing to God because they weren’t being just – upholding the laws of protection, dignity, and lawfulness made clear to them through Moses during the Exodus.

Other Old Testament prophets speak to this concept as well. Through Amos, for example, God absolutely rebukes Israel because of the way they treat their own people. They repeatedly subject them to poverty and oppression for their own gain (Amos 5:11-12, Amos 8:4-6). While Old Testament justice is often the simple act of upholding the law (being fair and not taking advantage of the poor), New Testament scripture takes this a step further. The apostle John implores that “if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth “ (1 John 3:17-18). James makes a similar claim: 

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2:14-17 

Our faith saves us, but the way we treat the poor, oppressed, needy and hungry is evidence of that faith. It gives proof of what we believe and who we serve.

Social Justice Vs. Biblical Justice

While social justice shows diligent concern for people, the earth, and doing what one deems “right” or moral, biblical justice takes this a step further. As followers of Christ, we are to study what God says about pertinent issues, then view each and every person involved as deeply loved and made in the very image of the God we serve (Genesis 1:27). 

We care for people because He cares for them. 

We extend grace and mercy because He has done the same for us. 

We come alongside the broken because we understand our own brokenness in light of our Father’s holiness.

We see others in the same way the Lord God has seen and found us – desperate for healing and in need of restoration.

We understand that He has justified by no merit of our own, so we serve for the justice of others – Even if we feel it’s underserved.  

We seek restitution.

We apologize with genuine humility and work hard to become part of a solution.

We actually have to do something, friends, and with love and empathy. We can’t blind ourselves and our children to the hurt and oppression in the world, and we can’t strive to protect ourselves without protecting others.

So what do we do? How do we respond? It’s a difficult question because there isn’t one answer. Each of us has been given different gifts, situations, strengths and resources that the Lord will ask us to use for His Kingdom purpose and glory. So have our children. It’s complicated and complex, but here are a few suggestions to begin the journey toward living with a Biblical justice mindset.

What Now? A Few First Steps
  1. Wipe off our lenses:  Do the hard work to uncover the biases and presuppositions that frame the way you see the world and justice issues. Review the questions outlined above and prayerfully surrender the process to the Lord.  Be patient. This will take time, effort, tears and struggle. 
  2. Know the needs: We can’t turn a blind eye to the suffering around us. It’s imperative to know and allow ourselves to feel. A great place to start is by reading and listening. Check a variety of news sources (they have biases, too) to determine what’s going on in your community and in the world. I like to read and listen to both local and international commentaries for a more well-rounded perspective. Books are a wonderful way to educate yourself and begin the discussion of local and global issues with your kids. Scroll down to get some of my personal recommendations.
  3. Study the Word: Use the attached resources to determine what God thinks about justice and kindness. The Scripture I’ve included in the link above is really just a launching point for your study. The Bible is packed with stories about God’s response to justice and His expectation of ours.   
  4. Engage: Get started! There are incredible organizations who have identified needs and are responsibly coming alongside fellow humans to provide for needs, freedom, justice, and empowerment. While we need to be mindful of ways we can actually hinder development and cause more harm than good (click here for helpful resources about this concept), step into empathetic, thoughtful action and relationship if/when you see a need around you. Teach your children that these can be as simple as asking personal questions and genuinely listening to the response, bringing a meal to someone, advocating for someone who is often teased or bullied, helping a friend with his or her homework, volunteering for a non-profit, walking in a march, or saving money to donate and assist a reputable organization. There are many needs, and many ways to make sacrifices and come alongside those either requiring or providing assistance.

Oh what a refreshing and glorious day it will be when, in the words of the Old Testament prophet Amos and quoted by Martin Luther King Jr. in his powerful I Have a Dream speech, we “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24).

 

With great expectation,

 

Recommended Resources & Stories

The following are books I’ve personally read and own. Not everyone will agree with the concepts expressed in each one, but I believe empathy begins with openness to anothers’ experiences and perspective. You can click on the image to order a book directly and support that author’s effort (we receive a small commission from Amazon and are grateful for that, too), but I’m happy to lend any of them out if you live near me and need to borrow one instead.

Children’s Books About Appreciating Differences

 

Children’s Books About Human Rights, Suffering & Oppression

Children’s Books About Refugees

Children’s Books to Promote Empathy, Understanding & Personal Potential

Youth / Young Adult Fiction

Books for Adults

 

About the Author: Lisa DaSilva is a wife, mom of two teenagers, teacher, and advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word.

Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.

 

 

Join Us Live Via Zoom For: “Standing Firm: A Four Week Inductive Study of Philippians”

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27

 

A Quick Note

Covid-19 has left many of us isolated and in need of encouragement. Our desire is to draw strength and guidance from the Truth of God’s Word – To let it shape us, change us, strengthen our faith, and advance the gospel for Christ’s glory.

Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi does exactly this. It is a letter full of instruction and exhortation that, when heeded, can transform the way we live in adversity.

This study uses the Inductive Bible Study Method to guide understanding. We hope you’ll join us beginning Monday, April 20th as we meet virtually from 7-8:30’ish for four weeks (ending Monday, May 11) to work through the text together. You’ll then use the strategies we’ve practiced to study a few verses independently at home, and return to our meetings having reviewed the previous week’s scripture. We’ll have a time of sharing and discussion before working through the following week’s text as a group. By the end ofthe four weeks, you’ll have studied the entire book Philippians and gained what we hope is a deep and transformative understanding. 

For more details on the structure of this study, please see the schedule and outline in the Philippians Study Guide. Click on the picture below, or link directly to it here.

We want you to know that you are welcome – Whoever you are and in whatever condition you come  – Whether you’re new at studying the Bible this way, a seasoned woman of the Word, have young children running around in the background, or are just trying to hold it together right now . Our prayer is that we join together as a sisterhood of believers – Putting aside worry and inhibition to fully engage in the Word during this time of trial.

We’re excited to learn alongside you and have you as a vital part of the Arise Collective. May this season of sacrifice and adversity be one that help us “stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).

 

Zoom Access Details

Due to current concerns over the lack of privacy on live platforms, we’ve decided to email the Zoom link to anyone that wants to join us. Please request the link via private message on Instagram, Facebook, by emailing us here at Arise, asking for it from a friend, or getting in touch with the Summit View Moms group. We’re sorry to add this extra level effort, but think you and your families are worth it.

 

Things to Bring

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for updates, and feel free to invite friends.

See you Monday, April 20th at 7pm!

 

Help Us Help Others: Coming Alongside Our Local Community During The Covid-19 Pandemic

Our mission at Arise is threefold: Equip, Encourage, Engage.

We believe that a deep understanding of the Bible compels us to action – That we can’t simply study the Word without DOING what it says.

That’s why we’re creating care packages and bringing them to women we know need them – Single moms who are worried about providing for their children, women who have lost their jobs and don’t know when their next paycheck will come, the elderly and the alone. We want to provide encouragement and sustenance for the glory of Christ! These bags may include gift cards to grocery stores and/or gas stations, easy recipes with accompanying grocery items, and beautiful scripture to enlighten and bring comfort.

Each bag is hand-painted and includes personal items and notes particularly chosen for the recipient’s
needs – A beautiful reminder that she is loved and valued during these difficult times.

We need your help! Consider joining us in one or more of the following ways:

  • Donate online through our website and let us know that you want your funds directed towards the “Engage” portion of our ministry.
  • Directly sponsor a bag for someone you know would benefit from one. Donate the amount you’d like to spend online, and message us with the details of your acquaintance. friend or family member. Someone from our team will get in touch with you to discuss the details and organize delivery. Bags have difference price points depending on what’s in them, the needs of the recipients, and contributions of the giver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve absolutely loved watching women of all ages work together to fund, create, and deliver the few care packages we’ve created already – Generously lending their time, treasure and talent to show others they are cared for.

Our heartfelt prayer is that this endeavor would draw women closer together and closer to the Lord during this season. We look forward to partnering with you as you help us help others 💗.

Donate using the link below. All contributions are tax deductible.





Passion Week: A Resurrection Sunday Reflection

Scripture for Today

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Matthew 28:5-9 (NIV)

Things to Think About

Psalm 22 foreshadows Jesus’ death. The suffering savior quotes David in some of his last words:  

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  

The psalmist goes on to ask, “Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?”   

As our Saturday gives way to Sunday the cries become a rhythm to our days. Yet, in the early morning of dawn, when the world seems to be it’s quietest and the sun begins to ask the night sky to back away, we read the rest of the Psalm:

“All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!”

I wonder whether Jesus’ words on the cross were meant to lead us to this passage written so many years before. 

I wonder if he knew we may feel an extent of his suffering, too – forsaken, neglected, isolated, alone.

Then the dawn awakens and our Lord points to the rest of the Psalm. Like a guide on a trail, he shows the way up the hill and leads us to these words. Reminding us, He has done it.  

He has done it.

He has risen from the dead and taken his place in the heavens.

He has conquered death and birthed everlasting life.

He has traded sorrow for joy, bondage for freedom, doubt for truth, fear for peace. 

With all the chaos in our hearts and uncertainties in our lives, we can rest. Not because it’s easy, but because the grave is empty and the body not there.

Just as he said.

Could we, this Easter, when our worlds feel unsettled, rejoice with the same passion and amazement as those who first learned of Jesus’ resurrection?

I wonder.

 

About the Co-authors

Marnee Alfson is an EMDR trained trauma specialist in private practice in Vancouver, WA.  Marnee received her training under the direction of leading author and developer of Story Informed Trauma Therapy (SITT), Byron Kehler, MS. She has worked with survivors of various traumas such as sexual and/or domestic assault, displacement, first responders, attachment in relationships, body image, life transitions and mood management.

She believes we gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience we choose to walk through.  Trauma recovery therapy is an important part of hope in helping other survivors live their lives free of the pain they have experienced.

 

Lisa Da Silva is a wife, mom of two teenagers, and advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word.  She writes, speaks, and teaches the Bible to anyone who will read or listen.

Lisa is a teacher by trade and passion, voice for the marginalized, recovering striver, and lover of simplicity, authenticity, and all things pretty. She enjoys thrift store shopping and often has to convince people she’s an introvert.  Just a loud one.

Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.

 

 

 

 

 

Passion Week: A Silent Saturday Reflection

Scripture for Today 

Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!  My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. Lamentations 3:19-24 ESV

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10 ESV

Things to Think About

There seems to be confusion everywhere on the correct path to take regarding this pandemic. Even between family and friends the information isn’t quite the same. What is the truth? What is real? Who do we believe?  

It feels oddly familiar to what we read in scripture around Holy Week.  On Palm Sunday they are shouting “Hosanna, Hosanna.” On Friday some of the same voices are heard yelling, “crucify him, crucify him”, and on Saturday, it’s silent.  The people are confused, the information is different between family and friends. What is the truth that just happened? What is real? Who do they believe?

We often don’t give space for the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  Never before has the concept of this silence of Saturday meant so much.  

Max Lucado writes: “On Saturday, Jesus is silent. So is God. He made himself heard on Friday.  He tore the curtains of the temple, opened the graves of the dead, rocked the earth, blocked the sun of the sky, and sacrificed the Son of Heaven. Earth heard much of God on Friday. Nothing on Saturday.  Jesus is silent.  God is silent.  Saturday is silent.”

To some, this experience of life right now, may seem like a Saturday that forgot to end.  Saturday’s silence torments us. God feels silent, Jesus feels silent and far away. We are stuck in the liminal space between what we knew before and wondering what is to come. For most of us there is a level of suffering we are experiencing – A sort of collective grieving in what has been lost.  Our way of life, graduations, weddings, a chance to gather to say final good-byes to loved ones. All is different.  All is unfamiliar and yet familiar. We are set still by the silence of our world around us. It’s unnerving. Our suffering is palatable and so we sit, waiting. Waiting for our Sunday to arrive.

 

About the Author: Marnee Alfson is an EMDR trained trauma specialist in private practice in Vancouver, WA.  Marnee received her training under the direction of leading author and developer of Story Informed Trauma Therapy (SITT), Byron Kehler, MS. She has worked with survivors of various traumas such as sexual and/or domestic assault, displacement, first responders, attachment in relationships, body image, life transitions and mood management.

She believes we gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience we choose to walk through.  Trauma recovery therapy is an important part of hope in helping other survivors live their lives free of the pain they have experienced.

Passion Week: A Good Friday Reflection

Scripture for Today

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”  Matthew 27:45-54 (ESV).

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:1-8 (ESV)

 

Things to Think About

Good Friday has long been my very favorite day of the year. That might sound strange, but I thrive at night amid the dark, quiet church services where light and shadow dance together on the sanctuary walls surrounding each waxy candle. The whole theme of the day is so reflective and real, and my melancholy heart is drawn to the familiar beauty of a wounded healer. A suffering savior.

This year, though, I find myself resisting the story altogether. It isn’t that I disbelieve or don’t find it meaningful, but it’s just so…heavy. Good Friday in the midst of a pandemic isn’t exactly a walk through the park (are those even allowed anymore?). I’m tired from reading daily stories about death and suffering. My heart feels spent from keeping up with the news cycle and worrying about the people I love: Wondering if we’ll all have food, if my friends can pay their rent, if the nurses will have masks. I sob imagining the lonely memorials as people bury their loved ones at a time when no one is allowed to come together; not allowed to hug or hold hands. There is so much pain all around us, and yet we are isolated. Tired. Reading the detailed account of one more death today feels like it just might break me. 

Maybe you feel the same. I don’t know where your heart is today, but I can bet it is heavy. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of our prayers sound a bit like Jesus’ prayer on the cross:

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” 

Oof. Take a deep breath as you read those words. Can you believe they were said by JESUS, the Messiah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the celebrated Christmas Babe… The Savior of the world? 

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

This haunting prayer was a quote from and a reference to Psalm 22, a Psalm of David, which Jesus and his onlookers would have known by heart. It is an aching hymn about physical and emotional, existential suffering, crying out to God in unflinching desperation. This is a song my own heart knows all too well, and I am shaken by the knowledge that Jesus understands. 

Reflecting on the details of the gory lynching of the 33 year old God-man, Jesus, might be too much for us today as we stumble our way through both the shared and solitary traumas of life during a pandemic. But maybe we can find comfort and rest for our worn-through souls by knowing that whatever the details of our own reality right now: God understands. 

Jesus showed us on the cross that he is not afraid of our violent terrors or hidden cries, because he cried them, too. He is not afraid of the darkness because he took darkness into himself, bearing the crushing weight of all the sin of all mankind. God is not afraid of our questions, confusion, or doubt. He is not disgusted by our shame, and he isn’t surprised or taken aback by the constant, gnawing frailty of our humanness.

In fact. He welcomes it all. He welcomes us.

The cross of Christ is an altar, a monument, a welcome sign. It is a testament of love and a dark symbol of a bright reality: Jesus came to be with us, no matter the cost us, and he understands the way we feel. 

Take another deep breath, my friends: 

Jesus understands, and God is near.

 

About the Author: Alyssa Zimmerman, like you, is incredibly loved by God. She anxiously offers up her cynicism, fear, and mustard-seed-faith in return. Constantly amazed by grace and relieved by redemption, Alyssa pursues truth, love, justice and Jesus in the midst of disabling chronic pain which has shaped the vast majority of her life and foiled her dreams for college, career, and a family. Instead, Alyssa became a high school dropout, living in poverty and pain, forced to spend most days in bed with an icepack. Nevertheless, she is committed to the great and messy work of therapy and mental health, wishing deep-down healing and wholeness for all.

At home among the trees, the mountains, and the drizzling rain, Alyssa is a PNW native. She is passionate about living vulnerably, wrestling with the hard questions of faith, and pushing beyond the confines of our modern western evangelical culture in the hope of better understanding the fullness of God’s love and more indiscriminately extending it to all. She is a great lover of wit and silence, watcher of documentaries, drinker of tea, and excessive taker of mediocre phone pics.

Passion Week: A Holy Thursday Reflection

Scripture for Today

“The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” Exodus 12:13

“Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”  Mathew 26:27-29

Things to Think About

As we reflect on Jesus’ last meal and betrayal this Holy Thursday, and anticipate his sacrifice and resurrection, may we also take into consideration the great significance of this day in the lives of God’s chosen people. As written in the book of Exodus, God delivered the Isrealites from captivity hundreds of years prior to Jesus’ coming. Not only was Jesus anticipating his own death on this night, he was also celebrating his father’s sovereignty and provision. 

We as Christians refer to Jesus’ last meal as The Last Supper, but for hundreds of years the Jewish people revered it and celebrated it as Passover. They practice Seder, a meal where each dish symbolically reflects the food the Isrealites ate while fleeing Egypt. The holiday takes place every year and is one of the single most important days of the Jewish calendar. It is referenced throughout the Bible and is notably referred to when young Jesus travels to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover with his family, gets lost, and is found in the temple talking theology with some religious leaders. But that’s a different story (albeit a great one).

The point is this: Passover was extremely important to the Jewish people, including Jesus and his disciples (who were also Jewish). 

Why is this significant? 

I think there are many reasons, but here are a few to think about:

    • The holiday symbolizes deliverance and celebrates God’s provision and sovereignty. It’s no coincidence that Jesus decides to publicly announce that he will sacrifice himself for the forgiveness of sins on Passover. God’s timing is always perfect. 
    • Jesus talking about the wine and bread on this night were normal and expected – They were significant parts of the traditional Passover meal. Where it starts to get weird is when Jesus goes off script and refers to them as the blood and body. The disciples were taken aback by Jesus’ additions to the traditional Passover language, but we often refer to them when taking communion or celebrating the Eucharist.
    • I used to wonder why the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus was about to die after he asked them to all get together for dinner to chat about God’s covenant, bread, and wine. It seemed obvious to me that this was his “farewell” meal. I now understand that this wasn’t a random get-together in an upper room to pour some wine and eat some bread. It was completely expected – Like a family gathering on Thanksgiving or Christmas.
    • God’s covenant and Old Testament scripture references were fresh in the minds of Jesus’ listening disciples. They knew what Jesus was talking about when he references God’s covenant to His people; on this night more than ever.
    • Jesus knew he was going to die the next day. He knew he would be betrayed by someone he loved that night. But he celebrated Passover and remembered God’s provision anyway. He praised God alongside his friends despite an internal knowledge of the future. He taught despite fear. He served despite suffering.

Today, let us do the same. Let us praise God for his deliverance and sovereignty despite our own fear, suffering, or struggles facing the world today. Let us remember God’s faithfulness on this Holy Thursday, just as Jesus did. Let us wonder about His perfect timing and trust that it will continue.

About the Author: Maya DaSilva is a high school sophomore who just got her driver’s license but rarely remembers where the keys are.

She enjoys wondering about how faith and culture intersect, and believes thinking leads to change – Even when we don’t have all the answers. 

She thinks quiet voices are still meant to be heard. 

Passion Week: A Palm Sunday Reflection

Scripture for Today

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you;righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9 (ESV)

“The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, ‘Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!’ His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.” John 12:12-18

 

Things to Think About

The prophet Zechariah foretold what was coming more than 500 years before Jesus entered Jerusalem. Branches waved and people cheered for the the man riding into town on a donkey. 

As much as Palm Sunday is supposed to be a celebration, I feel somewhat pained and contemplative when it comes each year.

The truth is, those same people who welcomed the king may have been the very ones who chanted to free Barabbas and ogle at Jesus’ death only days later. They called him “Hosanna” and blessed him upon arrival, but mocked him at his crucifixion.

Many of God’s people praised the man who’d just raised Lazarus from the dead, but completely missed their Messiah. 

And it makes me wonder what we’re missing, too – What we may misinterpret, misunderstand, and shout from the bandwagon just because it’s what others are doing. How may we, too, be misguided – Looking for the king of signs and wonders – the God of provision – but missing the miracle of His sacrifice and salvation?

So today, on Palm Sunday, let’s ask the tough questions. Let’s do the hard study. Let’s spend time with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as we seek to understand who He truly is.

Let’s know the King who rides into our lives asking that we give Him in His rightful place. 

May we be people who recognize the One who saves and submit our lives to His glory. 

 

About the Author: Lisa Da Silva is a wife, mom of two teenagers, and advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word.  She writes, speaks, and teaches the Bible to anyone who will read or listen.

Lisa is a teacher by trade and passion, voice for the marginalized, recovering striver, and lover of simplicity, authenticity, and all things pretty. She enjoys thrift store shopping and often has to convince people she’s an introvert.  Just a loud one.

Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.

 

 

Podcast 025 – “Soul Song Coffee: Fostering Empowerment Through Meaningful Work” with Ann Ordway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It began with a spark of hope and a few simple questions: “What if we could multiply a few dollars to keep giving back while we train young teens to start a business from the ground up? What if these young apprentices could explore various aspects of business structure and development and try their hand at developing usable skills? Most importantly, what if they could see the direct impact of their actions in the lives of others both here and across the globe? What if in this process we can help individuals find their soul’s song?”

This spark led the birth of Soul Song Coffee – A company rooted in the belief that meaningful work fosters empowerment, that young people have the ability to build a business, and that a local community can come together to actively practice Biblical truth in a way that demonstrates Christ’s love and promotes lasting change.

Listen to the podcast to learn more about Ann Ordway, the vision behind Soul Song Coffee, and how you, too, can find and live your soul song.

Be sure to visit the Soul Song Coffee website to read about the ways they empower local youth, come alongside ministries in Uganda and Haiti, and source beans from farms and companies that employ sustainable practice and embrace dignity.

Click here to support Soul Song by purchasing coffee directly from their website. I’m a monthly subscriber and genuinely look forward to receiving my beans each month!

May we all heed Ann’s encouragement from Isaiah 41, get on our bike, and start riding.

With great expectation,

Lisa

Soul Song Coffee’s young entrepreneurs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Our Guest: As the Founder of Soul Song Coffee, Ann Ordway wears quite a few hats, but her favorite jobs in the world are being wife to Jason and mama to four amazing kids whom she has the privilege of homeschooling.

Her greatest moments are spent discussing the finer points of life with friends, journaling in her morning prayer time, and capturing most everything in picture! She has an inquisitive spirit and a passion for developing young minds, which ultimately led to the development of Soul Song Coffee!
She dreamed of an opportunity where young teens could be exposed to different careers and aspects of business in a setting where they could immediately apply that learning to a real business, one that existed for the greater good. Not just an idea, an action.

 

Copyright © 2020 · Theme by 17th Avenue

Copyright © 2020 · Amelia on Genesis Framework · WordPress · Log in