God of Wonder by Julie Delamarter

I’ve never looked forward to a broken heart. Have you? Psalm 34:18 says “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.” If we saw our broken hearts, our trials, our tears as an opportunity for His nearness, would we view our trials differently? Would an opportunity to be near HIM in a different way change how we function in that trial?  I’d venture to say that when we witness the nearness of God when we are hurting, it changes everything.  

A Mother’s Heart 

It changes everything, especially as a mother. If you are a mother, chances are your heart has broken. It probably started the moment your son or daughter was born and you realized this “love” they talk about regarding a child is something that cannot be described; only experienced. I think from that moment on, our hearts break on different levels as we guide, direct, and ‘mother’ our kids through this life. The scraped knees morph into broken hearts over relationships, misunderstandings, not making a team, or even bigger losses. The tears over a ‘boo-boo’ somehow become harder to wipe away when it involves their hearts. As moms, we cry out to the Lord on behalf of our children.  Whether it be a friendship gone awry, issues with mental health, a diagnosis, a decision or string of decisions that you know is only leading down a dangerous path – The difficulty of toddlerhood somehow pales in comparison to the raising of future adults. 

In my 17 years of motherhood, I feel like I’ve had two choices: 

One – Believe that God is just a bystander in my life and the life of my kids and He steps in only when necessary.

Two – Believe that God is actively involved in every heartache, every loss, every surprising turn and He desires to be near in very tangible ways. 

I believe He desperately wants to give us ‘good gifts’ as we walk through this life as parents and as individuals. The pain that we experience as we watch our kids find their way is an invitation to see the tangible hand of God at every turn and be near Him. It only requires one thing: That we ask.  

“Ask? But I ask all the time,” you may be thinking. You pray, believe, and know that God is faithful. He is good like all the Bible stories say He is. In your own life, you know He is there, but out of fear of disappointment we may not ‘ask’ for specifics. I believe God does not want us passively waiting for Him to show up; He wants us LOOKING, asking, pleading.  We can ask boldly and wait in expectation for the God who wants desperately to give good gifts to those who ask (Matthew 7:11). Especially, when our hearts are broken.  

A Beet Salad

I remember the moment. We had just received news of a life altering diagnosis for our oldest son. At the time, it completely derailed all his hopes and dreams and quite literally put him on the sideline for the foreseeable future. Because the diagnosis is genetic, it reframed our whole family. We felt like we were being suffocated.  All that we knew had just been taken in a moment. I remember hearing of God’s tangible goodness in people’s life when walking through trials, but had never experienced it myself. The kind of undeniable, “Wow” moments that could only be described by a good God who orchestrates every detail. When we say “He is good.” What is our proof? So I decided to ask. I decided to ask for a tangible ‘gift’ not knowing if it would be in the form of a miracle in his health situation, a person on the street, or a shadow on the sidewalk that communicated something specific to me. 

I had specifically asked the Lord to show up in our brokenness that day. I said, “Lord, I need a gift to know you are near.” My husband and I met at a local restaurant to decompress and process after the trauma of the few days before. Not a minute later, a server came by and said, “Here is a beet salad. It is extra. It is a GIFT. Would you like it?” I looked at my husband and said, “Did you hear her? She said it’s a gift.  It’s from the Lord!” I think the Lord’s sense of humor was coming through when he gave me the beet salad and the server said, “It is a gift.” I think He was saying, “You want a gift, I’m going to give it to you.” I like beet salads, sure, but as a gift from the Lord? One could say that would be questionable. It didn’t matter what anyone thought, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God was meeting me in that moment in a big way. It was quite literally an opportunity to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8)! We laughed at the way God showed up that day but that simple moment was a catalyst to viewing God’s faithfulness actively in our lives rather than passively. I now refer to all the ways God shows up for me as my “beet salads.” 

The Wonder and Awe of His Nearness

The next few months were filled with doctor visits, tests, hospitals and all the things you don’t want to be doing with your child. I filled a journal with the big and little ways God showed up for us during that time and as my eyes shifted to the beauty of my God who loves us, the trial was filtered through a new lens of awe and wonder of God in the midst of our broken hearts. Our son’s diagnosis was not the end of trial in our lives. We’ve had countless opportunities to trust Him to be near in the years that have followed. What is different is when the waves come, we ask and expect Him to calm the storm with his nearness.

 Author Priscilla Shirer once shared, “Those who don’t expect to see God, won’t.”  We have to change our vantage point to see God’s fingerprints on what we are walking through.  When we shift our focus from the pain to the God who wants to do abundantly more than we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20), the trials we are walking through with our children or in our own lives become an opportunity to see God in exciting, awe-inspiring ways. Our trials become an opportunity to shout His glory from the rooftops because of how He has showed up. Job 5:9 tells us that God “performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” Our trials become our worship because we serve a God who always comes through when we ask. It may not be how we expect. It might even be through a beet salad, but however He speaks to you, it will be with wonder. Being near to God in His wonder, might just make that broken heart a miracle over a burden.    

Scripture to Ponder

Psalm 34:3 – “Proclaim the Lord’s greatness with me; let us exalt his name together.” 

Psalm 34:8 – “Taste and see that the Lord is good.  How happy is the person who takes refuge in him.”  

Psalm 34:18 – “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.”  

Psalm 33:20-22 – “We wait for the Lord; he is our help and shield. For our hearts rejoice in him because we trust in his holy name.  May your faithful love rest on us, Lord, for we put our hope in you.”  

 

About the Author – Julie Delamarter grew up in Southern California, met her husband who is from Pendleton, Oregon in college, moved to the PNW, and never looked back! She has been married for almost 20 years and has three amazing kids. She is a behavior therapist for kids with autism by day and a carpool driver by night! Some of her favorite things include country music, lots of sun, food, friends, and adventure. Passionate about many things including youth, the special needs community, and mental health. God has shown Himself real to her and she prays He will use her however He sees fit! 

 

You Are God’s Masterpiece

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” -Ephesians 2:8-10, (emphasis added)

 

 The greatest artist of all calls you His masterpiece. The very one who took a desolate void and created light, separated land from sea, and spoke abundant vegetation and livestock into being then stood back in pleasure (Genesis 1) looks at you with the same admiration.

Take a moment to let this sink in, sister. Close your eyes and imagine yourself just as you are—every mistake, every joy, every heartache, and every scar. Now picture God in all His glory and perfection stepping back to admire each bit of you as His newest and most beautiful creation. He is the artist and the potter. You are His canvas and clay.

But it doesn’t stop there.

The Apostle Paul exhorts the church in Ephesus to take action. Understanding that each was exquisitely formed in the womb (Psalm 139:13-16) then birthed into a new creation upon belief and surrender to Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 2:10) was just the beginning. These masterpieces were not meant to simply hang on a wall, be placed in a cabinet, or set on a shelf to be admired.

They are masterpieces with a purpose.

There are things God planned and ordained for them to do.

 And while the Ephesians were created in that space and time for particular purposes, so were you created for this time and for specific good works.

It is not a mistake that you are alive and living in this season. It is not a mistake that you bear particular burdens and scars. It is not a mistake that you are unique and sometimes feel different and out of place. It is not a mistake that you have the neighbors, sphere of influence, gifts, talents, circumstances, and experiences that you do. Our great God has purposed and ordained you for such a time as this. A masterpiece designed to do “good things he planned for us long ago (Ephesians 2:10).”

Take a moment to be silent before the Lord. Let images of past experiences, joys, traumas, or sorrows flood your mind and heart. As they do, lay them before your Father, and praise Him. Each and every one of those experiences has prepared you for the work He wants you to do right now. In this very moment. For His glory.

Ask our great God to reveal the specific role He has for you today and in the days to come. Wait quietly and listen to His voice. Make note of the people, places, and situations He brings to mind. Who needs to know Christ as their personal Savior? Where can you serve and bring the light of Jesus? How can you be the Church, and who can you invite to come alongside you? What do you need to say or do to bring glory to God and make His grace and truth known to others?

As you begin to process God’s particular purpose for you in this season, be assured that He is raising up your fellow sisters to do their own good works for the Kingdom. The author of Hebrews reminds us to “hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works (Hebrews 10:23-24, NLT, emphasis added).”

While Scripture is clear that we have the same Missio Dei—the mission of God to bring Him glory and make that glory known to the world (1 Corinthians 10:31, Matthew 28:16-20)—the way He uses us as individuals to manifest that calling will be different for each (1 Corinthians 12). We must rally around one another and spur one another on as we seek to love the lost, love the Church, and share the gospel.

Prayer and Worship

Close your time today by listening to this song. Use it as a prayer and resurrender your life for His Kingdom purpose. And then, sweet sister, take a step down from the shelf and let Him take you where He wants you to go. Start living as the unique masterpiece you are.

“Sails” by Pat Barrett

“Canvas & Clay” by Pat Barrett

About the Author – Lisa DaSilva is a wife, mom of two teenagers, a teacher, and an 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.

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 on 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 junior 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.

 

 

Guarding My Heart: A Sixteen Year Old’s Thoughts on Creating and Surrendering to Gatekeepers

A couple years ago I was a part of a very toxic friend group. They were very two-faced and deceptive. I started to realize this half way through my eighth-grade year and after seeing the signs it all went downhill. I didn’t want to do all the things they started doing, so they started saying nasty things about me. Instead of letting it get to my head, I decided to start reading a devotional. It helped me work through all the painful behaviors that were going on and walk away from this group.

Now one thing that I do every morning to guard my heart is read from a daily devotional. The one I really love is “Devotions for the Soul Surfer,” by Bethany Hamilton. It is super relatable and I just love the way she has written it. Like most devotionals, it includes scripture alongside stories of her past experiences. Many are stories from when she was a teenager that encourage and inspire me to stay on my path with God. Reading through a daily devotional really helps me get into a good mood for the day and refreshes my mind. I definitely see a difference in myself after I read Scripture – I just feel like a happier, better version of myself.

This time also gives me a positive perspective of the world around me. So many things we encounter are out of our control. I stay close to God through reading my Bible along with the devotional. Doing these things reminds me of His promise to give me hope and a future and keeps me grounded. It equips me to be quick to forgive and see the best in others. It is currently teaching me how to define healthy boundaries with individuals I am around regularly and to choose my friends carefully – Reminding me to spend time with those who are like-minded, positive and who desire to walk with God, that care about me and my future, as much as I care about theirs.

I also think it’s important to receive what God promises us now. I not only believe in His plan for my future, but spending time with Him daily reminds me that He cares about my present life as well. He wants me to have a good life, good friends, good experiences, as well as peace – Free from anxiousness, stress and unnecessary troubles. The Bible says there will always be trials and tribulation, but those of us who have Jesus should find peace in Him.

Last month, my mom shared her thoughts about guarding her children’s hearts on this website (link here). As a teenager, it’s not always easy to accept what she thinks is best for me. Some of the toughest times are when I would like to go somewhere and she and my dad wont’ let me. They do explain why, whether it is unsafe, unhealthy or they do not know whom I will be with, but it is still hard to accept. Having parents who have rules and boundaries is going to impact me for the better when I am an adult. They have put guidelines around me since I was young that have helped me develop trust in myself and in God. By obeying them, they see that I am able to make good decisions and am trustworthy. When I mess up, they are there to help me reflect on it and learn from my mistakes. They teach me to discern what is right in more mature situations to come.  

Even though some of their rules are frustrating right now, I’m going to be thankful for them keeping me from things and teaching me to recognize things that could take me down the wrong path and affect my future.

Resources I Recommend 
  • Who Do You Think You Are: A 21 Day Journal for Teens by Ardren’s mom, Jen Windus – Available to purchase by emailing Jen. Inquire here.
  • The Bible App

Scriptures That I Lean On

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17

“God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?” James 4:12

 

About The Author, Arden Windus:

I’m 16. I play soccer & love to ski, even though I hate the cold. I believe that life is short, so you do the things that you really love and be kind. My favorite colors are lavender and sage green. My absolute favorite place in the world is Hawaii!!

 

 

You Really Can Start Reading Your Bible: Tips and Testimony from a Middle Schooler

Saved from Near

As a just-turned 14 year old, I have been going to church my whole life.  However, I didn’t experience a relationship with God until I was in middle school, even though I was baptized at age 6. It was at my first church camp in 6th grade that I discovered that true joy comes from God and nothing else in the world. That’s when I truly started my faith walk and committed to following Him.

Testing of Faith

But having faith wasn’t always easy. I have had hard times and I know there will be hard times ahead. Through my difficult experiences, God showed me ways to encourage myself and others. I found a family in my church youth group, and was able to go early every week to help wherever I was needed. Serving others, seeing them smile and appreciate what I do, made me so happy. No matter what stress was in my mind at the time, I just felt loved. I also found so many friends at church who encourage me in everything. They have held my hand while I cry happy tears and sad tears. As I walked my walk of faith, the raw and vulnerable way, God gifted me with wise people, good family members who care for me, and challenging questions that have caused me to grow. He showed me how I needed to pray more and worry less, and prayer became my communication with God. Even with all of this, I just felt ready for more. I’d been feeling a little distant from my faith during online school, so on whim decided to start reading my Bible.

Knowing His Word

I had always viewed reading my Bible as insignificant or too hard to me. But as I committed to reading, it started to become a daily habit and I felt God spurring me on. I never really realized how much I would love it, and how much joy and peace it would bring to my life.

I totally understand how reading your Bible can feel like another item on your to-do list, but it’s not supposed to be a chore. Digging into the Word is a gift from God, and that time is meant to be cherished. Getting into a daily habit requires patience – It’s like getting strong in sports or learning a new skill. If you want to get good at it, you need to be willing to commit to actively making the effort to form a new habit.

Remember, through your journey, that reading your Bible doesn’t have to look one specific way. Everyone has different preferences and ways on how they get into the Bible. How you read, take notes, and learn will be different for everyone. That’s totally ok! It’s intimate and unique because it’s how God wants you to comprehend His love.

Here are some strategies and ideas I used to start reading and understanding the Word on my own.

Ways to Engage with the Word of God
How to Get Into Your Bible Idea #1

This is the strategy I use:

  • Open your Bible to the table of contents.

  • Then go through each book, writing down books that you want to read, names you recognize, or a title that sparks your interest. Don’t worry about getting all the books you want written down, just start with the first ones that catch your eye.

  • Choose one book that you wrote down and read the first chapter, or even a few sentences, just read at your own pace.

  • Highlight questions, add notes to the margins, or underline things or people that are familiar. But just read, annotate, and ask questions. Find a style of note-taking that works for you. Don’t be afraid to use a journal if that works better for notes, instead of writing in your actual Bible.

The way I do my study is to highlight wisdom or things that make sense, write questions and notes in the margins, and always read a chapter a day. The reason this works so well for me is because I get to choose what to read, what I note, and what to ask. Being a person who likes being able to choose how I spend time with God makes my time much more fruitful.

How to Get Into Your Bible Idea #2

Accountability is a huge part of reading your Bible. Here are some ways that help keep your attention in the word:

  • If you are in online school, and start later in the day, make the first piece of work you do reading your Bible.

  • Text a trustworthy friend, small group leader, or adult. Ask them to check in with you daily, asking if you have read your Bible.

  • Set a few alarms on your device. Try to keep yourself responsible to stay on schedule and read around the alarm time.

  • If you plan your days in any way, add Bible reading to your day. Pick a time to give your undivided attention to the Bible. I read my Bible either in the morning before the day gets busy or in the afternoon when I find some alone time.

Don’t beat yourself up if you have a hard time getting into a rhythm of actively and daily opening your Bible. Let yourself into it slowly and let God do the teaching.

How to Get Into Your Bible Idea #3

It’s ok not to know what to do, sometimes you have to let go of your need to have the answer and let God decide what you are going to read. This is hard, no doubt about it, but we all have to start somewhere.

  • Take time to pray. Ask God for help to give you a fruitful time. Wherever God wants you to be in the Bible, He will make it clear.

  • Open your Bible and begin reading the page wherever the first word pops out. Keep in mind that all Scripture is God breathed. Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Reflect on that verse.

If you happen upon a passage that doesn’t make much sense, pray. Ask to see if that is where you need to be, sometimes you need to read tricky things, but just ask for the guidance of God.

Finally, if you aren’t finding anything that interests you, open to Genesis 1:1 to learn about creation. If you love a good story open to Ruth 1:1. If you are looking for poetry and wisdom open to Proverbs 8:6-23. And if you are looking for answers about Jesus, look to Matthew 19:13-15.

The Benefit of Children’s Bibles

Have you ever read something in the Bible and thought, “Well, that was so confusing. I don’t think I’ll ever make sense of this book.” I know I definitely have. But I’ve found a hidden gem that has helped me understand the Bible incredibly, and it’s… a kids Bible. I have an Adventure Bible and HCSB Illustrated Study Bible for kids. They are so explanatory and have many underrated sources.

In my Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) there are colored maps, timelines, and pages that explain what a quiet time is and how different Bible verses can help with your different feelings. There are also charts that show how verses relate to different topics. This Bible helps me find things quickly and helps me learn how to really get the most from the Word.

My Adventure Bible has some helpful pages that help understanding the words on the page you’re reading. It has summaries of peoples’ lives, excerpts about what life was like in Bible times, tips for living out the Word, and highlighted sections with verses to treasure. I love this Bible because it explains and highlights the words right in front of you.

Both of these Bibles are simplified. If parts of my NIV don’t make sense, I gladly turn to my children’s Bible or my colored maps and timelines. They help me understand what I’m reading and learn what God needs me to know in that scripture.

My point is that kid’s Bibles have benefits for adults too! And any age for that matter! Don’t be afraid to look into a children’s Bible to seek an answer, simpler text, or new fact.

Kate’s Suggested Resources

 

About the Author, Kate Kesler:

I’m Kate, a creator at heart. I have a passion for baking, music, and Jesus.

 

Podcast 033: “Surrender, Trust, and Rest: Unexpected Lessons From an Unexpected Senior Year” with Molly Tuffnell

We’re approaching the one year anniversary of all things Covid-19, and we think that’s worth talking about. Coronavirus has left many experiencing genuine loss and heartache – Feelings that resonate deeply with young people like 18-year-old Molly Tuffnell. 

In this episode of Arise Online, Molly joins host Lisa DaSilva to talk about how she worked through the disappointment of what was supposed to be one of the most exciting years of her life. We hope you’ll take time to quiet your heart, listen to their conversation, and share this episode with other young men and women who might benefit from hearing Molly’s perspective.

Noteworthy Quotes

From Molly’s journal a month before the pandemic isolation:

“If I were to fully trust You… to realize that my sole purpose in life is to bring You glory… I wonder if I would be content no matter the circumstance in which you place me. Shouldn’t I be? If my sole purpose is to glorify You, and if I believe You are sovereign, I would simply have to rest, knowing that You are good and all of Your plans are good, even when I don’t think they are.”

“We follow a covenant keeping God who will not break His promises. The promise that One day He will come back for us. The promise that one day every tear will be wiped away. The promise that one day, all will be right and all will be well. We don’t have assurance that our plans will work out, but we do have assurance of who our God is, a covenant-making, promise-keeping God who sees His children and will be back for them soon. And I believe that knowing this makes all of the uncertainty and disappointment perfectly worth it.”

“We serve a Lord who aches with us in disappointment. He knew disappointment in ways far greater than we do. He sees us and He sympathizes with us. In the disappointment, we can be reminded that we follow a God who is faithful.”

Scripture to Help Surrender, Trust & Rest 

Psalm 13:5  –“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.”

Psalm 28:7 –“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”

Psalm 37:5 –“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”

Psalm 46:10 –“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 55:22 –“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

Psalm 112:7 –“He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.”

Psalm 143:8 –“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 –Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Proverbs 30:5 –“Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”

Isaiah 26:3 –“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

Matthew 11:28-29 –“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

John 14:27 –“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

Romans 15:13 –“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Hebrews 4:16 –“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Hebrews 13:6-8-“So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’ Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

 

About our Guest: Molly Tuffnell is a student in her freshman year at Biola University and is majoring in Biblical & Theological Studies. Some of her favourite things are waking up early to watch the sunrise, drinking a good cup of coffee over a deep convo with a friend, and having kitchen-clean-up-dance-parties with her sisters.

She also has a deep passion for studying the Word and engaging with others in learning more about the Lord! Over the past year she has come to more deeply know the goodness and faithfulness of her Father and has a desire for those around her to know the same through dependency on His Word.

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