Our Change the World Mentality

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Jalene and I follow cartoonist Nick Seluk and his masterful collection of comics called Heart and Brain, which, “follow[s] the inner dialogue between the cynical, society-influenced Brain and the impulsive, optimistic Heart.” It is common for us to share the latest strips between one another for a good laugh. The reason it resonates with us so much is that I (Adam) tend to depicted in the brain character, and Jalene tends to be depicted in the heart character. All in all it is a great laugh.

Jalene most recently tagged me on facebook with the following comic titled Caffeinated0929_Caffeinated

This comic struck me because of the deep truth that Seluk captures in it: “Our change the world mentality has dissolved into general anxiety.”

I know we don’t like to admit it, but Autumn is coming. Back to school shopping is aggressively taking place, organizations and churches are ramping up for the next season. We may not identify our frantic preparation as having an underlining drive of, “changing the world”, but below our running around and preparation Isn’t there a desire to experience the next season as being better than it was in the last? Isn’t there a desire that we will be people who work more change and make a more significant impact than we had in the las?.  It is a “pursuing change for the better” mentality, and on the surface it is well-meaning.

I am among those with these aspirations, planning, thinking, preparing, and in addition to this, often worrying and feeling pretty anxious. Like the cartoon Brain and Heart, I desire that my efforts in this next season of my life would have an impact, that they would make a difference for the better, that I would be a person that is remembered for positive influence. Yet when I look at the tasks I’ve placed before me, when I draft plans of all I think it will take, the anxiety sets in. The anxiety sets in because I’m worried I won’t be able to do it, I’ve thought up a task that is too big, a to-do list too long. So I reach for another cup of coffee.

Am I alone in this? Or are you also reaching for that cup of coffee? Do you desire great things? We desire to do good, to set our children up to do good, to inspire others to do good. Culturally it seems that the cost of making this happen is by pursuing a lifestyle conducive to worry and anxiety.

Isn’t it obvious though that the level we have taken our “change the world” to posture is simply wrong?

Jesus taught us an alternative, “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Simple, familiar words, we all know them… and he goes on to invite us away from a posture of worry and anxiety and to a posture of seeking, “… but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Don’t worry, don’t be anxious, instead seek, seek Jesus, seek his direction and guidance.

I believe whole heartedly that when we seek Jesus we will find him. Seeking Jesus instead of anxiously trying to change the world or even simply change our worlds is an act of trust. It is choosing to trust that Jesus’ way and plan is better than ours could ever be. And instead of labouring in trying to change our worlds, we choose to partner with Jesus in all that we do, trusting that he will do what needs to be done, that he will provide what’s needed, that he has got it.

So, for me, perhaps next time I reach for that cup of coffee I should slow down and see if there is an anxiousness in me that ignores Jesus and reflects me trying to work change in the world on my own. And if there is, I should slow down and seek him. As I seek him, I will find him, when I find him I can partner with him in bringing change, in being a father, in being a friend, and in everything else I find myself doing.

A Slow, Sweet Letting Go

I remember my mama telling me that once you have a child, their whole life is just a slow, sweet process of letting go. I would smile and nod my head as she tried to articulate a life time of emotion that comes with that kind of understanding, but I couldn’t fully comprehend what she was trying to tell me.

Yet this morning, as I sat  holding my 3 week old daughter to my chest, the tears came steadily and rolled silently down my cheeks. My moms words echoed in my mind and for the first time, I understood.

After miscarrying our first little one over four years ago now, I know the feeling of emptiness after losing a life – even one so small.  I can testify to the ache of an empty womb and a broken heart. And this emptiness and ache that we can feel in seasons of loss can have the power to harden even the most tender of hearts, and clench the fists of hands once open and able to receive the many gifts that life has to give, if we let it.

And in all transparency,  I did.

And then, four years later, after devastating diagnosis’ in doctors offices, many prayers said through bitter tears, and the toll of grieving month after month, we were gifted with the miracle of our sweet Elisabeth.
Ever since the night in December when I saw that positive sign on a pregnancy test, I was overwhelmed with the feeling of needing to close my hands tight around her and hold on with all that I am.  I was terrified of the feeling of emptiness that I had known before and feared I could not live through again. And for those first few months especially, every time my heart began to burst with joy, dread would creep in right alongside it and overtake the wonder and awe of my miracle girl with the fear based question to which I couldn’t bear the answer to.

“What if…?”

And Beloved, I know that there are a billion “what if…?” questions that seem logically worth asking.  For more than ever before, it feels like our world gives us a billion reasons to fear. And for those that have experienced loss or pain in one form or another, we know that those “what if” questions aren’t all just hypothetical. Some of those “what if” questions really do become reality, and the scariest piece of it all is that we often lack any control to prevent them from happening.
… and so the fists clench, hearts harden, and fear becomes the lens through which we see the world.

And for the immediate moment, our self-protection might serve us and protect our hearts in a time when we can’t allow ourselves to fully feel when it isn’t safe to process pain. But in the long-term? Our clenched hands and hard walls around our heart will not only keep us from feeling pain…but from feeling anything else.

I know that the what if…?” questions that sneak into our hearts are scary.
But what if we put “what if?” in perspective?
What if when we give fear even an inch it could steal from us a mile of joy?
What if when we allow our fists to clench tight, we actually rob ourselves of the ability to receive?
What if when we harden our hearts we lessen our ability to pour out love?
What if “what if’s?” don’t actually serve us at all?

Near the beginning of our pregnancy with Elisabeth, my dear husband, in all his wisdom, told me simply: “If we allow fear in now at 10 weeks, it will be there at 20 weeks, it will be there at her delivery, and as she turns 1, and 16, and 30.” In other words, once we choose to let it in and live by the question “what if?” fear is going to do its work over the long term within our hearts.

As I stared down at my sweet daughter this morning, with tears burning these tired eyes of mine,  I had hundreds of these “what if..?” questions running through my mind. And I thought of my own mama and the process of letting go that she described.

There is so much that we cannot control.
And not only can we not control what may or may not happen to people we love, to dreams that we have, or to circumstances in our lives – we also can’t always control the ways that those things will impact our hearts.
And sometimes that is the scariest part of it all.
… Because I think at the end of the day we all just want  need to know that it will be okay; that we will be okay.

 

 

And it is right there, in the midst of the lack of control and fear that a holy invitation lies.
The invitation to let go.
The invitation to trust.
The invitation to receive.

I can hear the echo of Jesus words to the people that surrounded Him two thousand years ago…the same words that He still speaks to us today.  “Come to Me.” (Matt 11:28)

Eugene Peterson paraphrases Jesus’  invitation beautifully in the Message:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  [Emphasis mine]

When we try to control, when we say yes to fear, when we live with clenched fists and hardened hearts… we live tired, worn out, and weary.
When we come and ‘let go’ – we begin to learn those unforced rhythms of grace.

Letting go does not mean distancing ourselves from people we love, or things that we are afraid to get hurt from out of self-protection.
Letting go instead invites us to entrust ourselves, all that we cling to and the questions that we fear the answers to,  into the hands of God whose hands are big enough to hold all the circumstances that we will face and who loves to hold the beautiful mess of our hearts.

This sweet, slow process of letting go  is a journey of learning to trust rather than allowing fear to rob all the joy out of living. It is a leap of faith that believes that God can handle all the unknowns, that Christ walks with us in the midst of it, and that if our hearts are wholly undone that even that can be holy. It is less about painfully giving up things and more about posturing ourselves to receive.

So, lets ask a different kind of what if question today.

What if  you traded in fear for trust?
What if you responded to the invitation to let go?
What if  you opened your hands to receive?
What if  your entire life could change because you focused on these “what if” questions?
… and the amazing thing about these  questions?
You can actually choose to do something about them AND God has already told us what the outcomes will be if we respond to His invitation!!

When we come to Him – He teaches us a new way to live. 
When we let go of our clenched fists and fears – He helps us live freely and lightly. 

So, what do you say?
Take a leap of faith with me on this one?

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Elisabeth Grace

It is with great joy that Adam and I welcome little Elisabeth Grace Buyer into our family! She was born 6pm August 3rd, weighing 7lbs 9oz.  Me and the baby are both doing really well. Thank you so much to all who have prayed for us during this journey. We are excited to see the ways this little life makes it into our writing and perspective of the world.

Elisabeth means “God’s promise”, and her arrival surely does feel like the fulfillment of promise. God is so faithful.

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Embracing Stillness this Summer

In the rush of the ‘daily grind’ we can find ourselves longing for time to slow and work to cease so that we can just “be.” With summer upon us, we often respond to the invitation that comes out of that longing to enjoy the beauty of this season.
We plan vacations.
We wait for weekends.
We anticipate moments.

But when they come?
Do we really take the time to breathe? To rest? To embrace the stillness away from the bustle and productivity of the everyday?

Right now I am sitting in one of my favourite coffee shops. The hum of conversation around me lingers throughout the building just above the sound of music in my headphones. As I watch people come and go, I can’t help but think about the stillness of my home that I left this morning. I could have stayed in and made coffee (not to mention saving $5) and taken the time to write from the comfort of my office.

And yet I chose to get into my car, drive 10 minutes away, and pay to sit in a crowded space to find some quiet and process my thoughts.

Maybe this is a bit of my extroverted side peeking out.
Or maybe true quiet just makes me feel uncomfortable.

 

Is it possible that this could resonate with you too?

With our little one making her arrival anytime in the next couple weeks, I have been face to face with more quiet than I have had in a long time. Work pressures have ceased, everything for baby is prepped, and I have taken my midwife’s advice to give myself permission to just relax as we wait for her to come.

Though I have been excited for the quietness of this season, some days it feels a little too quiet.
For it is in the quiet that I can start to feel the dull ache of a heart that has been pushed to the side too many times. It is in the quiet that hurts I have ignored, lies that I have believed, and insecurities I have wrestled with tend to seem louder than usual. When the necessary outward activity ceases, it becomes a lot harder to ignore the activity going on inside of us.

And lets be honest. It takes a lot of bravery to stand face to face with your own heart. 

So, when life slows down a bit this summer, whether  you are spending time hiking or camping, sitting in your backyard, taking a walk, or simply lying in bed and waiting to fall asleep and you feel that sense of things being too quiet? Rather than instinctively jumping into the next activity, conversation, or creating something else “to do” – why don’t you let the silence linger a little?

Allow yourself to feel uncomfortable with it. Observe your tendency to fill the silence. Take notice of your heart.

 

 

And there in the quiet? Thats where the gentle invitation of our Heavenly Father lingers. The invitation to enter into that quiet with Him. To know His presence that fills an aching heart, brings healing to hurt, and speaks Truth about who we are.

Psalm 131 says this:

Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp.
Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mothers milk.
Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O, put your hope in the Lord – now and always.

It is in the quiet, when we stop trying to figure everything out and get everything done that we can calm and quiet ourselves before God. And it is here that we can brave our hearts with all their need and bring them to Him.
And just like a weaned babe, maybe we can find ourselves satisfied, full, and contended too; at peace in the quiet rather than uncomfortable.

Because it is here that we can rest our hearts in the quiet presence of God.

Maybe this week, take some time to just be still.
Note how your heart responds to the quiet.
Maybe its welcomed? Needed? Calming ?
Maybe it makes you feel uncomfortable? Fearful? Uncertain?

However it feels to you – let it be an invitation to embrace the quietness rather than fill it, and to be present to your heart and God’s presence with you.

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You are Home to Me

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Home. A noun that that is rich with meaning, feelings, and images – bestowing the one who speaks or hears its single syllable with thoughts and emotions unique to them. Often we use this word metaphorically, not referring so much to a building with four walls and a roof, but to a feeling of security, peace, rest… home. We may say, “home is where the heart is”, “home is found in the company of friends”, or more romantically “I’m at home whenever I’m with you.”

Over the past several months I’ve been immersing myself in the latest collection of recordings by artist Jason Upton, titled, “A Table Full of Strangers pt 2.”. The song writing is masterful and is only strengthened by listening to the whole record from beginning to end (an art I hope is not destined to be lost). In this collection of songs there is one that has got me thinking – challenged me. Upton sings,

“You are home, home to me, you are patient and kind.
You are peace, peace to me, you are never failing.”

It is not hard for me to recollect seasons of my life when feeling out of sorts was the norm. Time felt as thought it passed unusually fast and much of what I would have liked to have under my control was untameable. I ached for things to slow down. I ached to be able to catch my breath. I ached to be able to rest my head – truly rest my head.
I longed for home.

Upton’s lyrics spurred on these thoughts for me: For those of us who follow Jesus, home is more than an abstract concept,  a concrete location and even a group of people. What Upton captures in his lyrics is an echo from the scriptures that our home, our rest, is available in our relationship with Jesus.

The gospel of John teaches us that Jesus sent the Helper, the one to be with us, to show us the way, to be our peace. In John 14:16,17 Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth… you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.”

There are great treasures to be mined in these verses. Home does not have to be limited to where the  heart is, or with the ones we love, or a place where we catch our breath and rest (as precious as each of these are). It does not have to be a place that requires us to travel to it, or a experience that hinges on us creating the perfect space or set of circumstances. Rather home can be found in our relationship with a God who longs to interact with us, who desires to give us rest, who desires to be our home. He lives with us, and is in us. We can go there whenever, wherever, and no matter our emotional state, by simply opening our eyes, our hearts to his presence.

Upton rightly characterizes our home in Jesus to being present with Jesus, who is patient, kind, and never-failing. This makes home much more than a location where we feel security, and much more than a place to rest our heads, because when we are at home with Jesus we are available to receive from one who gives richly, who not simply provides rest, but interacts with us so that we will find true rest, and much needed healing. In this truth we are freed from a dependence on the right circumstances, time, and location to feel and experience home. The feeling and experience of home only requires our  willingness to enter into being present with Jesus.

The temptation we face, that I often face, is to avoid this home. It isn’t uncommon to  feel a desire for home apart from the interaction, apart from this type of rest – apart from the healing. But Jesus is always there, waiting patiently, ready to receive us however we are.

This is a reminder I need, even today. Will you join me in choosing to find home first in Jesus?

Check out Jason Upton’s Record on iTunes

Letting our Hearts Live Held {Not Hostage}

Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise Him again – my Savior & my God!
— Psalm 43:5

This weekend I sat knee to knee with some of my nearest and dearest, giving testimony to the work God has done in my heart over this past season and praying intently for this new season that is coming quickly.
It is only a few short weeks now until we meet the baby that we have prayed for, for just over half a decade.

…The baby that doctors said would be nearly impossible to conceive.
…The little life that I whispered dreams for in the quiet of my heart with tears streaming down my cheeks.
…The baby that I never knew would ever come.

And yet, her continual kicks within my womb & my stretching body remind me that she is indeed on her way. And though there is deep joy in my heart, I also find myself asking the same questions the psalmist did.
“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?”

And I realize that for over 5 years I have positioned my heart for disappointment.
For over 5 years I have tried to ease the blow of negative lines on a pregnancy test every.single.month. I have practiced putting a smile on my face to support others in their excitement of a new baby on the way, all the while holding in the deep ache within me. I have put up walls around my heart – for fear of being completely overtaken by disappointment, uncertainty, and longing.

Have you been there?
Have you ever built up walls so high around your heart in fear of being enveloped by pain or disappointment that felt too much bear?

 

The hard thing about these walls, these walls erected to protect our hearts, is that in trying to protect them, they end up simply preserving them. Keeping them beating, but no longer feeling. Keeping them alive, but no longer able to live.
They may not be impacted as much by darts of disappointment, launched by circumstances that life will surely throw at us, but they are also unable to reach out and receive the good gifts that also come our way.

Let me tell you firsthand sweet friend – it is no way to live.
Those walls we put up – they become a prison.
And we will find that even when circumstances change, our hearts can still be locked away.

… the Truth is this. Even the disappointment, the fear, the anxious thoughts, the ache, and the longing – all of it can be a gift. (Not because the circumstances that caused those feelings are okay or should ever have happened, as many of these circumstances  are a result of the brokenness of our world, or other people, and we can be sure that God’s heart breaks with us that we have had to experience such things.) But they can be gift all the same because they can beckon us to the one place that our hearts – in all their broken glory – can find true rest and safety.

Instead of erecting walls to protect our hearts, we can entrust our hearts to the safe hands of our God. In His hands our hearts will find safe refuge.
He will not keep us from feeling pain, disappointment, or fear.
But He will hold us close with His nail scarred hands and we will know His love and His comfort in the midst of any brokenness we experience.

And when there are gifts of beauty and joy to receive?  We will not be stuck with just four stone hard walls to behold; we will be able to bask in them in all their wonder too.

The same psalmist who penned the words above, also said this:

” For You are God, my only safe haven… send out Your light and Truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me…to the place where You live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God – the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, My God!
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again – my Savior and my God!”
— Psalm 43: 2-5 NLT

So – how do we break down those walls that we have put up around our hearts?

We invite God to break them down.
We sit with Him and we bravely allow ourselves to feel the pain of the journey that we have walked, knowing that we don’t walk alone.
We allow Christ to be our comforter; to speak Truth to our hearts about who He is, where He is, and who we are.
And then we choose to entrust our hearts to Him.

Whether we are over our heads doing  “hard,” right now or we can breathe easy – we make up our minds to put our hope in Christ,  knowing that He is the source of all our joy.

Then when the kicks of my sweet little one wake me up at night, when I see Gods hand over the past years, or when I remember the comfort that He spoke to me in the darkest of nights, I can receive those gifts fully.
…Because my heart isn’t simply a hostage, preserved by walls that I built to keep pain out.  My heart is being held.

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When Winter has Overstayed its Welcome

According to my calendar, the first day of Spring was supposed to be 2 weeks and 3 days ago, and I am starting to think that it never got the memo.
I’m not sure what it has been about this winter, but it has felt like it has more than overstayed its welcome.

There has been multiple  days these past weeks where the sun has shone bright from behind the clouds and I have begun to anticipate the coming of buds on trees and the warmth of a new season. However, more than once,  I have been utterly  disappointed by my poor judgement as I have woken up to more snow that had fallen the night before, often leaving behind a grey & dreary sky in its wake.
This might sound a bit melodramatic – but seriously –  silent tears have been shed this winter as I smiled and wished friends and family well who have escaped to places like Mexico and Hawaii for some sort of reprieve.
I, on the other hand, have remained here – wearing a ridiculous amount of layers and  dreaming about someplace warm by looking up vacations-that-aren’t-going-to-happen on Google. *Sigh*

Maybe you can relate?

As I think of my deep longing for spring to finally arrive (and with it, the glory of green grass, bare feet, sunshine, and flip flops) I think about the ‘spiritual seasons’  that we go through in life and sometimes our longing for one season to end and the next one to begin.

This past autumn,  I ran into a sweet friend that I had made when I spoke and did music at a ladies retreat the previous year.  After a few moments of visiting and catching up – she shared a picture that was on her heart for me and described seeing my feet in the snow with snowshoes on. I remember her looking at me and saying, “I don’t know how long this winter season is going to last for you, but I sense that you have been trudging through deep snow and  I believe that God doesn’t mean for you to walk through the snow like that. I think He wants you to put on snowshoes so that you can walk on top of the snow for as long as you are in this season.”

Those  words that she spoke to me that day were extremely profound for my heart. In the Winter Seasons that we go through in life, we can often feel like we are trudging through deep snow, simply trying to get through and hold on until a new season is upon us. But what if God never calls us to “trudge?”

Isaiah 43:1-2 says this:

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
When you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
For I AM the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.

and Paul exhorts us in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9,11,16-18:

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh…. So we do not lose heart….For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.

Friends – the winter seasons of life are guaranteed to us by God – but we do not need to trudge through these seasons like ones without hope. Not only do we have the presence of God with us in these times, but we can hold fast to the reality that the Spirit of God is forming the life of Jesus in us because of these seasons.

Let’s be honest though – for some reason I will more often than not choose to trudge rather than putting on snow shoes; I will choose to  focus my eyes on the dreariness of winter instead of asking God to open my eyes to the work that He is doing in the winter seasons with the knowledge that Spring will indeed come in its proper time.

I don’t know how long our winter seasons might last for, but I do think its about time that we put on our snowshoes and start asking God to open our eyes to His presence, and give Him permission to work His life into our hearts in difficult seasons.

And you know what? Spring is indeed coming.

And as we wait in anticipation, we trust that there is much life that is being formed underneath the cold hard ground of winter; new life being formed in hearts that are weary in the waiting. For we have a God that has promised to complete what He has begun within us (Philippians 1:6). And when spring does come? May it be a time of sweet celebration as we see the work that God has done within our hearts.

… and sometimes God’s best work is done in the longest winters.

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Torn Open

I remember my birthday parties as a child and being mesmerized by the wrapped gifts which accompanied those who came. The wrapping paper filled me with wonder and expectation: “what was I going to get!? What is the paper hiding from me!?” Maybe for many of us wrapping paper still has this effect.

I anticipated tearing into the wrapping paper with full force, working within the expertise of my ability to rid my present of that which separated me from it: the wrapping paper. It was fun, almost as fun as playing with what it kept hidden.

I wonder how much my walk with Jesus is kept “wrapped up.” Much like an anticipated present  I can see it, appreciate its mystery, and even pull back the corners to take a look inside, but for some reason I don’t appreciate or anticipate the joy it will give me as I would a birthday present. I am not sure why, I know it will benefit me, I know there is great joy waiting, I know that God has “good things” in store, yet I leave it wrapped up, and don’t engage as I often know I should.

As you study the Bible you will inevitably find all sorts of cool literary tools that the authors used. The gospel of Mark is full of these and as you read it you will run into his heavy use of the word, “immediately”, and perhaps catch his use of chiastic structure1. I was reminded of one of these literary tools recently as I read Mark 15. Both at the beginning and conclusion of Marks gospel, we read very similar words, these words act as a type of bookends to the Mark’s gospel which bring emphasis to a big idea.

Mark 1:10-11 reads, “And when he [Jesus] came up out of the water, immediately he saw 

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the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voicecame from heaven, “You are my[God’s] beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Similarly in Mark 15:37-39 we read, “And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!””.

Do you see the similarity? Two things are torn, and two confessions are made of Jesus being the son of God.  So why is this significant? The first scene in Mark 1 highlights that Jesus coming to earth was truly an act of God coming to man, as if to say, “The heavens opened and God stepped down.” Jesus being God is affirmed by the Father, who affirms who Jesus is by confessing him to be His son. This makes for a strong introduction of Marks gospel, but it also makes Mark 15 that much more significant.

bright_holy_week_good_friday-title-3-Wide 16x9In the way that the barrier of heaven was torn and God stepped down to live among us in the person of Jesus, so too that which separated us from God, the curtain in the temple, was also torn which made a way for mankind to have unhindered access to God through the person of Jesus. This tearing is similarly accompanied by a confession of Jesus’ identity, as if to say that this tearing could only have been done by the son of God, and it has indeed been done!

These book ends in Mark serve as strong message that the barrier between us and God has been torn open because of what Jesus has done. Easter is a time to remember what Jesus has done, it is a time to remember the very thing that served as a barrier between us and God, much like wrapping paper canceling a gift, has been torn away.

So why do we hesitate? Why do I live as if the veil is still in place, or as if God is somehow far off? Why do I at times keep Jesus at a distance or ignore his invitations to engage in life under his leading and guide? Mark’s gospel strongly communicates to us that the things which we believed separated us from God, the heaven’s themselves or the veil in the temple, have been torn, and now we have every opportunity to walk boldly with Jesus. God is not wrapped up or far off, hidden or kept under lock and key. No. The veil that separated, the stone that covered the easter tomb are no more. Which means that the things that separate us are not put in place by him, rather they are things we put in place.

This Easter take time to examine your own life and see the many ways you may keep separation between yourself and Jesus. Are there areas of your life that you want to keep hidden from him? Are there hurts youfeel that you don’t want to invite him into? Whatever it is, remember that at Easter we celebrate the work of Jesus which has made it possible for us to engage in life WITH God, there is no need for more separation; that which separated us from him has been torn open.

The Truth about Fear [Identifying the ‘Mice’ in our Closets]

It was my day off from work and I was all set to have a productive day at home.
Laundry basket in arms,  I headed down our hallway towards the laundry room.

Thats when I heard it.
A rustling sound coming from my linen closet.
I nearly dropped the laundry basket full of clothes on the floor.

The evening before, our landlord had informed us that there were some mice found in the building and asked us to keep a look out for any more. This conversation came flooding back into my mind like a tidal wave and I froze.

You would have thought that I ran into a grizzly bear in my hallway with the way I put down the laundry basket and slowly backed away until I reached the safety of my kitchen table. I jumped atop of it to figure out a plan of action from a safe distance, all the while never taking my eyes off of the closet.

It’s not that mice are hideous, or dangerous, and I know that they are likely more afraid of me than I should be of them. But I can’t handle the way that they scurry and dart one way to the next. It gives me the heebie-jeebies.

The best plan that I could come up with was to roll up a towel and to block the crack at the bottom of the closet. If I could at least keep the mouse (or mice!) in one spot, then we might have a chance at catching them later. (And of course by “we”, I really mean Adam.) I executed my plan and darted back to my safe spot on the table, and proceeded to text my husband to let him know of the dire situation I found myself in. He matter of factly stated that he would not be coming home from work early to deal with my predicament. I was on my own.

So, I spent the rest of the day, doing what only made logical sense to me at the time.
I sat on my table.
And if I needed to move around my house, I brought a chair with me so that I would have a ‘safe place’ to get to if my towel plan didn’t work.
And I did this ALL day.
My hopes for a productive day were dashed, and my attention went continually to the closet.

As I look back on that day, I can’t help but think about fear and the posture that we allow ourselves to take when we yield to it. There are some things that we have legitimate reason to feel fear towards in our lives, but sometimes – we listen to the voice of fear when it holds very little merit at all and we live according to its whispers.

The worst … and most humbling ( & even slightly humorous)… part of that experience with my fear of mice that day?
There were no mice.
Let me say that again.
There were no. mice. at. all.
None. Nada. Zilch.

The rustling I heard was my powdered laundry detergent falling over and spilling down the wall, and my brain put together a story that kept me postured in fear for the next 8 hours. I must have looked ridiculous climbing upon chairs to get around my apartment, all the while my laundry basket sat in the middle of my hallway – still dirty.
And all because of fear.

I can’t help but wonder how often we live our lives in a way that is yielded to the fear of “what if?” We allow insecurity, anxiety, and uncertainty to write stories in our minds and we live according to them. Consequently we live our lives postured in unreality and we forfeit living in the confidence, hope, and fruit-bearing destinies that God has for us. All because our FOCUS is diverted from the TRUTH of who God is, who we are in Him, and the purpose that He has for our everyday.


So friends, can you take a moment to be honest with yourself?

•Do you have any ‘mice’ in a closet of your life?
•Is there an area of fear/anxiety/insecurity that diverts your attention from the Truth of God and robs you of purpose and living fruitfully?
• Have you so yielded to fear that it has begun to control the way you live?

If you answered yes to any of these questions – please know that you are not alone.
I have too.
I have yielded to anxiety for a long time and it has wreaked havoc on my heart and mind, in relationships, and in my day-to-day life. But I believe with my whole heart that we don’t need to keep living this way.

Usually there is a progression with fear. It doesn’t gain control in our lives automatically. If we look back at our own journeys with fear,  we have generally made a progression of choices to yield to it. It is this progression of agreeing to it that has allowed it to have such a strong impact in our lives. But – the beauty of that – is that we can also choose NOT to yield to it anymore. The grip that fear has had on our hearts will loosen as we yield instead to the Truth of who God is, who we are in Him, and the purposes that He has for our lives.

I didn’t wake up that morning with a plan to ditch my laundry and sit on my kitchen table all day. It started with something I heard. And then a thought. And then a conclusion that I came to based on that thought. Then, that thought turned into an action and I made choices the rest of that day based on the previous action that I had taken.

Even for those of us whose fears were planted by trauma and pain, we don’t have to remain victims. Our painful experiences may have begun the domino effect of unhealthy thought patterns and choices – but we do not have to continue to yield to the fear that was planted within us during those times. We still get to choose.

Isaiah 61:1 tells us that Jesus came to dwell with us, to live, to die, and to be raised to life again so that He might:
“bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for those who are prisoners.”

And boy oh boy, it can feel like we are prisoners when we are living with fear in the drivers seat. But through Christ, walking in step with His Spirit, and journeying with others – we don’t have to live yielded to fear any longer.

Because the Truth about Fear? 
…The only power it has over us is the power that we allow it to have in us. 

So, what are the first steps to dealing with fear?
We need to identify what it is. 
Then we need to recognize the way that we yield to it in the way that we think and in the choices that we make.
Finally, we need to invite the Holy Spirit to help us recognize His Truth in relation to that fear, and to choose to yield to it – renewing the way we think (Romans 12:2) and choosing to live accordingly.

If it took time to learn to yield to fear and allow it to have a strong hold upon our hearts, it might take some time to learn to stop yielding to fear and to begin yielding to the Truth of God’s Word and to choose to live abided in His deep love for us.

But the journey is well worth the effort.
” For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control”
{1 Timothy 1:7 ESV}

Walking with you,

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Who are you Following?

Jalene and I recently moved back to the city after having lived in the much smaller town of Three Hills. There are many differences between city and town, and perhaps my least favourite of them is the traffic. In the past several months I have found myself sitting in a line up of vehicles staring into the distance, able to see my destination, and being struck with the thought that it would be faster to walk than drive to my destination! My second consideration is that if I just pulled out of the line of traffic, if I just stopped following the masses, I could forge my own way ahead and reach my destination sooner (apparently I need to grow in patience), can you relate?

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We are often forced into following. We wait our turns in traffic, line ups, or follow the mechanical voice of Siri guiding us along freeways and boulevards so we can get to where we need to go. It is also common for us to follow without giving much or any  consideration to the fact that we are following.

In my observation, we live in a culture where we are constantly asked to follow. This invitation is often subtle, yet makes significant effects on how we live our lives. We are invited to follow the masses into obtaining what our culture calls, “the good life”: the realization of perfect outcomes. The perfect job with the perfect income; the perfect career highlighted by achieving perfect and significant results;  the perfect spouse and perfect children; the perfect house, and possessions; the perfect body and perfect health. And all of these are to be realized in a perfect state of bliss, happiness and contentment. The “good life”.

Have you realized this, “good life” yet? Have you found yourself following after it?

facebook-followingFollowing our North American culture’s idea of this “good life” can lead to fatigue, frustration, hurt, envy, strife… the list goes on (and includes depression, anxiety, and burn out), because one of many problems with this idea of the “good life”, is that it is inviting people to follow and to chase after something that can never be realized. This “good life” is built upon the reality that it is unachievable. There will always be more, there will always be an imperfection, a blemish, a relational conflict, a failure. Yet we run and follow after this as if it will somehow soon be realized and our hearts then satisfied. 

I was stuck this week as I studied Ephesians to read that the Apostle Paul characterizes the Christian walk as being one which is no longer following the culture. He writes in Ephesians 2, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world…” The invitation made in Ephesians, and throughout Scripture, is for us, all of us, to “unfollow” this world, and instead follow Christ. The invitation is to walk in a different way, and for the way of the world to be one in which we once walked but do not currently walk. 

Not a week goes by that I don’t hear the subtle invitation of culture, that I don’t feel in my heart a pull follow after “the good life”. But Jesus is also calling, Jesus is inviting me to to follow His way, to walk his way. Friends, if we believe that God is the author of life, if we believe that Jesus came to give us life and life to the full, we must realize that the longings inside of us can only be satisfied by the one who designed us to have them, that they can only be satisfied by God.

Our lives then become a journeying with God and following in HIS ways. Ephesians 2 goes on to say these familiar words, pexels-photo-346826.jpeg

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

When we follow his ways we recognize that we are his work (that he has designed us and has a plan and purpose for our existence, and has worked salvation for and in us), and that we get to participate in HIS GOOD WORK. This good work is the context by which we are to go to work, spend time with our families, shop at the grocery store, attend church, and rush about the endless to-do list. The work is no longer an end to the unachievable means of cultures “good life”, rather the work becomes (when engaging in it with God), participation in His good work. No matter our context we engage in our work as working for God, and in doing so we work with him, extending his grace, mercy, love, kindness, and character towards those around us.

So let us consider the way we are walking, let us consider what or who we are following. I pray that you will join with me in seeking to be one who has unfollowed this culture, and is following Jesus, participating in His good work.

-Adam Foster

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