women in the word

Summer Psalms to Help Us Praise ( & Printable Scripture Cards)

Too many followers of Christ feel bad for displaying any emotion besides peace, gratitude and contentment. Fear, anger, resentment, and even grief are hidden and remain unexpressed. But the psalmists exhibit a completely different approach. They lay their hearts on the line. They experience (and share) a full range of uninhibited emotion and pour it out to God. They question, beg, wonder, protest and mourn. They celebrate, exalt and praise. They proclaim the power, greatness and worth of God. They come to Him honestly and with humility.

A Little Background

Written over a number of centuries (probably between 1440 BC and 586 BC), the book of Psalms is composed of 150 sacred songs. Created by numerous authors, they became an integral part of Hebrew rituals and worship. Although many of these songs are cries of disdain and pleas for help, the traditional Hebrew title of the collection is tehillim, meaning “praises.” 

In their raw emotion, the psalmists remember God’s character. They recall his generosity, forgiveness and faithfulness. They ask Him for grace and vengeance. And as they do, their awe and fear of God grows and brings Him praise.

Our Response

We want to model the psalmist’s praise and come to our great God with anything and everything on our minds and in our hearts. We want to trust that He is listening, that He sees, and that He will guide us to His truth. We want to grow in our love for Him and be reminded of His goodness.

Our very own Nancy Tauzer has created printable Summer Psalms Scripture cards to help. Commit to reading and meditating on an entire Psalm, then use these poignant passages to remind you of what you’ve learned. Memorize them, frame them, or send them to friends. Tape them to a refrigerator, bedside table, bedroom mirror, or anywhere else you’ll see them every day. However you use them, remember this: “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens and His sovereignty rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). He already knows what you’re feeling and can handle your honesty. Trusting that He’s good enough to handle your emotions brings Him great praise.

With great expectation, 

Links I Love
  • Understand more about the history of the Psalms at The Bible Project and by clicking here
  • Pam Forster has a few simple studies that help unpack Psalm 37 and Psalm 103 using the inductive method. The title says they’re for “busy moms,” but I think they’re great for everyone and have learned a lot from them both.
  • I’m a huge fan of reading plans. They keep me organized, motivated, and are a great resource for studying alongside others. Try this 28 day plan. It doesn’t cover every Psalm, but I love the direct links to passages for easy access through the Summer. 
  • Psalm 34 is another great Psalm to Study! Use this resource to help, and read about my own experience with the Inductive Bible Study Method here. You can also download and print these GORGEOUS Psalm 34 Scripture cards from artist Anna deRoos.

 

About the Contributors

Lisa Da Silva – Author

I’m 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.

A teacher by trade and passion, recovering striver, and lover of simplicity, I enjoy thrift store shopping and often have to convince people I’m an introvert. Just a loud one.

Loving Jesus and making Him known really is my everything.

 

 

 

 

 

Nancy Tauzer – Scripture Card Creator

I am fond of trying new recipes and projects. I am a giver. Good listener. Softhearted. Loyal.

I’m a wife and momma of two boys who is probably drinking coffee and waiting for the laundry to fold itself. I enjoy hiking, dancing and organizing all things.

Growing up, I thought being a follower of Christ was only going to church on Sundays. Fast forward to today and I have an intimate relationship with God; continuing to grow in awe of his love for us.

 

 

Podcast 036 – “Trust, Passion & Perseverance” With 18-Year-Old Adventurer Lucy Westlake

 

 

Lucy Westlake has been climbing mountains since she could walk. With a deep love for the outdoors and a
the ability to push physical and mental limits to new heights, this 18-year-old adventurer has her sight set on breaking records for God’s glory. Join Lisa as she chats with Lucy about her quest to become the youngest female to complete the Explorers Grand Slam, her passion for making safe drinking water accessible to all, and how her faith in Christ is at the root of all her goals and accomplishments.

Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see how you can support Lucy as she heads to Everest this month. This is a story you won’t want to miss!

Noteworthy Quotes

“During my travels, I’ve seen first-hand how many people don’t have access to safe drinking water. My goal is to become the youngest female to complete the Explorers Grand Slam. And with that I hope to gather the support needed to make safe water more accessible to those who need it. Raising awareness is key.”

“As I watched the daily procession of my pen pal and other women and young girls in the community walk
two miles to a hole in the ground, wait among hundreds of people and animals for their turn to draw water, and then carry the heavy jerry can filled with contaminated water back to their village on their heads, my heart was burdened. I heard a cry from millions of thirsty mouths and dying children that resonated deeply in my heart. This cry echoed across many lands, many cultures, and many beliefs, and I knew right then that this was my calling: to help solve our world’s water and sanitation crisis.”

“I knew God had given me this gift, but I didn’t understand why… When I let go of the resentment of Denali’s failure and truly learned how to trust God in every aspect of my life, my longing for the mountains returned, but this time, not for the summit or breaking records, but for pushing my limits and relying on God. So now when I climb mountains, I continually remind myself, “Your ability is God’s gift to you, what you do with it is your gift back to God.” So when the moments get really hard and I get really weak, God grabs my hand and keeps me climbing.”

“When I reach what I perceive as the limits to my physical, mental, and spiritual being, I can feel God take control and fill me with His strength and power. My flesh is weak, but He is strong. Alone, I could never accomplish what I have, but with God anything is possible.”

 “It’s not about breaking records. It’s about pushing limits.”

“Don’t look at the whole mountain. Just look at one step at a time, and trust God for the next.”

“Maybe you can’t, but He can. You aren’t alone. I could never accomplish what I have through my own strength alone. Many times at the beginning of a day with a long hike ahead of me, I look down at my backpack and I feel so hopeless. It looks bigger than me and I think “how in the world am I going to lift this, let alone carry it on my back for 7-8 hours.” But don’t let those types of doubts and fears creep in – those are the devil’s attacks in your mind. Even when it seems impossible, I lift my backpack onto my back and start hiking, and each step He gives me the strength for another.”

Ways to Follow and Support Lucy

To read more about Lucy’s failure on her first attempt on Denali, read Katie Arnold’s article in Outside Online, “Lucy Westlake Is the Grittiest 13-Year-Old Mountain Climber We Know.”

To learn more about Lucy and follow her adventures, visit her website and Instagram (@Lucy.westlake.22)  

By purchasing a sweatshirt on Lucy’s Etsy shop, 100% of profits go directly towards safe water projects she is personally connected to in Uganda and Kenya.

To help Lucy fund her upcoming Everest trip, consider making a donation on her GoFundMe page. She committed to this trip on faith that God would provide the funds to cover it. 

 

You Really Can Lead a Bible Study: Tips and Resources to Get You Started

Do you wonder if you have what it takes to start or lead a small group Bible study? Are you willing to try? With a few vital but simple commitments, you can play an instrumental role in leading others through the Word of God. People are longing to learn and be part of a community. They may just need someone willing to guide, facilitate, be a humble example, and learn alongside them. Prayerfully read through the following suggestions and give it a try. Remember, there is a lot of grace as you model life-long learning, but skill and competency require practice. Your ability to facilitate a small group will only get better once you start!

Tips for Leading a Meaningful Small Group Bible Study

Pray – The most effective Bible study leader prays for guidance and asks the Holy Spirit to bring understanding. Submit to God and seek Him daily as you prepare and study. Commit to praying for all of the people in your group on a regular basis. 

Be prepared – Do your homework in advance and have a thorough grasp of the content. Review the discussion questions to see which ones best apply to whatever you studied that week. Participants will know if you’ve cut corners. I’ve found that a leader’s effectiveness is largely related to his or her integrity. While things come up and grace prevails, preparation shows participants that you’re committed to doing the hard work and learning alongside them. 

Keep in touch – Communicate with your group throughout the week. People love to know you’re thinking of them. Tell them you’re looking forward to seeing them and hearing about what they’ve learned. When someone knows you’re expecting them to show up, they often do! 

Start and end on time – Being prompt shows respect. Begin on time even if only one person is there. Participants will quickly learn that you honor their other commitments and will respond by honoring yours. Consider adding 30 minutes before or after the meeting as an optional social time. Your group may choose to gather from 9:30 to 11am, for example, but participants can come early for coffee at 9am if they want to visit and chat.

Share expectations – People want to know their small group is safe. Affirm that things shared within the group are not to be discussed with anyone else. Begin each meeting with this reminder, and consider asking participants for a verbal agreement. It’s also helpful to talk about group discussion dynamics. Encourage everyone to be sensitive to others and to ask themselves the following reflective questions: Do they dominate the discussion? Are they attentive to others and giving them a chance to share? Do they listen well? Are they taking risks and offering thoughts and ideas? Routinely sharing expectations for a healthy small group will save a great deal of time, energy, and possible hurt in the future.  

Be a good listener – Don’t do all of the talking. Leading a small group doesn’t mean you’re the expert. It simply means you’re engaging in the discussion, encouraging accountability, being reliable, and listening well. Model good listening by mirroring what’s been shared and validating others’ observations.

Ask great questions – Some Bible studies come with discussion questions to help guide your group time, but I’ve found that they’re not always helpful. While review questions are fine and may clarify content, I appreciate more open-ended questions that generate thoughtful observation, interpretation, and application of the Scripture (learn more about the inductive method here). The following are questions I filter into almost every Bible study discussion. I’ve also included a link to a printable PDF so you can download the style works best for your group. Consider printing your favorite (bookmark, full-page or half-page) for group members in advance. This will help them feel prepared, know what to look for when they’re studying, and be better equipped to use the questions in future small groups. Who knows? Maybe your Bible study is just what they needed to gain the experience and confidence to launch something new. Maybe your risk and obedience will impact many for God’s glory and the understanding of His Word.

5 Great Questions to Help Guide your Bible Study Discussion
  • Did you learn anything new or see something in a different light through your study today/this week? 
  • What does this passage reveal about the character of God? 
  • What biblical truths were revealed and how might these look in action today? In your own life? In your family? In your ministry? 
  • What do you need to do in light of your new understanding? Is there an action you need to take?
  • Is the Holy Spirit bringing any specific people, circumstances, conversations or sins to mind for prayer, repentance and reconciliation?  If so, take time to lay them before Him. Consider sharing and asking for prayer/accountability.

Consider using these questions and tips to guide a small group through our newest study, What the Lord Requires: A Six Week Study of Micah 6:6-8.  All proceeds from the sale of this book be used to support projects that combat modern day slavery and set women and children on the pathway to freedom. Use this study calendar if you hope to join us for the April 20th launch, and let us know if you’ve decided to start your own group. We’d love to cheer you on!

With great expectation –

 

 

 

While We Wait: An Advent Reflection

The Wait

Gifts are wrapped and stockings are stuffed. Lights twinkle on the tree and candles flicker in homes and church candlelight services across the country. It’s Christmas  – one of my favorite times of the year. I love seeing little ones giddy with excitement. They’ve been waiting since before Thanksgiving when store shelves abruptly traded turkeys and leaves for Santa and snowflakes, and hope the wait will be worth it.

As children of God, we’re waiting too. Every one of us.

It’s why we celebrate Advent through the Christmas season.

Since the fall of man, the faithful in the Old Testament waited for the promised Messiah. They were waiting for a King. Their savior. Because many had their own ideas and assumptions of who He would be and what He would do, they missed the blessing. They failed to see Jesus as the Savior of the world and are still waiting for His first appearance.

Now, as Christ-believers, we wait for our Savior to return and make all things new – forever bridging the gap between our sin and the glory of the Father. Oh, what a day that will be!

Because we live in a broken world until Christ’s second coming, we wait for earthly dreams or needs to be fulfilled as well.

As you read this, you’re likely waiting for something.

Waiting to feel known. Waiting for a wayward child. Waiting to experience love. Waiting to be forgiven. Waiting for healing. Waiting for the fulfillment of a promise. Waiting to be understood.

The list is endless. And exhausting.

Waiting tries my patience and throws me into dependence. I can’t control the outcome in a waiting season and, to be completely honest, that’s the part I like least. My fleshly desire is to meddle – to open closed doors and close the open ones. I rush through the wait to find answers and create quick solutions.  

But what if we entered our time of waiting with a sense of eagerness instead of animosity?  What if we leaned in with anticipation rather than anxiety? What if we waited with hope instead of despair?

What if we changed our perspective entirely, and began to see the wait as part of the promise instead of a means to the end?

What if we believed that God was up to something and that the result would be as good as He is?

If we trust that God is sovereign, we need to trust that the wait fulfills a purpose. It may not look the way we wanted or prayed for, but the process itself can draw us into a deeper relationship with Christ, grow our faith, and refine us into something more beautiful than we imagined.

5 Things To Do While We Wait

Honest truth? I often don’t feel like reading the Bible, praying, or worshipping God in my waiting season, but these are imperative disciplines to growing our faith and, ultimately, glorifying God. If we want the wait to be productive, we need to be proactive. Setting healthy patterns and habits in our lives will ensure we are ready for the wait when it comes.

Here are things we can do in both preparation for a waiting season AND when we’re smack dab in the middle of it.

Meditate on the Word – 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”  It’s ALL USEFUL. Read it, memorize it, meditate on it, sing it, study it.  It will teach you, rebuke you, correct you, and train you in righteousness. It will focus your attention on the truths of heaven rather than the things of earth.

Commit to a Bible Study in your church or with friends and keep “Study my Bible” at the top of your “To Do” list. If you need a place to start in your waiting season, try the book of James (be sure to look into what it means to have true joy when reading the first chapter) or an Old Testament book like Exodus or Daniel that speak of God’s sovereignty. Use one of our favorite Bible Study methods such as the Inductive Study to understand the incredible depth and truth of Scripture.

Pray – Seek God with your requests and be honest about your struggle through the wait (He really can handle it), but also ask Him for an open mind and heart as you wrestle through the uncertainty.  Be open to seeing things a different way and tell Him you trust Him with the process and the outcome.

Remember that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness – He hears our groans and intercedes for us when can’t find the words to speak (Romans 8:26). My favorite prayer of all time is known as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ and can be found in Matthew 6:9-13. It gives all glory and rightful dominion to God while asking for His Kingdom to come and will to be done. It gives me peace and security during a time of waiting.

Worship – It’s easy for me to worship and praise when things are going well – A whole lot harder when they’re not. Go ahead and blast that music in the car and let the tears fall. Praise Him anyway.

I have absolutely been that lady at the red light with hands raised high and snot pouring out of my nose in worship.  On one occasion I even rolled down my window to assure a concerned woman in a neighboring vehicle that I was indeed OK – Just praising God.

Here are some songs to sing during a time of waiting:

Talk to a Trusted Friend – Emphasis on the word trusted here. Choose people who are valiant prayer warriors and gifted secret keepers. Be candid about your wait and ask them to wage war with you. One word of caution, though – Be sure to meditate on the Word of God, spend time in prayer, and worship the Almighty God yourself instead of just asking others to do it for you. Preaching to myself here, friends. I’ve been guilty of calling or texting a friend to pray and then not even doing it myself.  I’ve welcomed encouraging scriptures from sisters before seeking truth in my own study of His Word. Let’s just be sure to be women of discipline in the waiting season instead of idle women of chatter… Just sayin’.

Reflect – Use a journal or quiet time to remember what God has done in the past. These can be personal stories of His faithfulness through other waiting seasons, or ones that resonate from Bible study and meditation. If you’re a regular journal-keeper, spend time looking over past prayers/entries and look for the ways God blessed you in times of waiting or difficulty. Keeping a journal can be a beautiful way of accounting for the things you’re learning and giving Glory to God for His ongoing faithfulness.

The End

Maybe you’ll wake up Christmas morning and find that everything you’ve been waiting for is right in front of you. But probably not.

And it’s OK. Transformative, even, if we allow the wait to mold us and make us into new creations for His great glory.

As followers of Christ, we can be assured that the wait will end.  

In great glory.

Revelation 21 testifies to the abundance we’ll receive after Jesus returns to make all things new:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

Until then, my friends, wait well. It will all be worth it in the end.

With great expectation,

Lisa

 

About the Author:

Lisa DaSilva 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. With an M.Ed in Curriculum Development and a teacher by trade and passion, she writes, speaks, and teaches the Bible to anyone who will read or listen. As the director of Arise Ministries Collective in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Lisa believes every woman has a voice. She longs for the day when they find freedom to use it for the glory of God and the furthering of His Kingdom. Lisa is a recovering striver, lover of simplicity and thrift store junkie. She often has to convince people she’s an introvert. Just a loud one. Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.

 

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 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. 

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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