Lent, Week 4: Peace

When I think of peace, I instantly think of the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” because of the first verse: When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul.

How confident are we in this peace that surpasses all understanding, that even when sorrows come in like sea billows we can still say it is well? Crises, trials, accidents, temptations, chaos… But the Bible says to focus on the Lord because He will give you peace, a calmness the world cannot provide. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” And Jesus said that in Him you will have peace (John 16:33): “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

The story goes that the writer of the hymn, Horatio Spafford, experienced great loss and pain during an overseas trip. He sent his wife and four daughters to England before himself, later learning that their ship had a collision and only his wife survived… that’s when he wrote the first verse. Wow.

Being able to say those words even through tragedy! That’s the kind of peace God gives us, brothers & sisters. As we trust in Him in the good times and the bad, with steadfast minds, we place our faith in Jesus Christ who is coming back.

We’re already about halfway to Easter but are you continuing to look to and trust in God at all times? Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

In this fourth week of Lent, whatever is troubling you, whatever is comforting you, whatever your lot (defined as fate, future, or destiny…), I hope we will be able to look to nothing else but the Lord who guards us and leads us by still waters.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

Reflection Song: You Are Greater


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Lent, Week 1: Dirty Foreheads (An Ash Wednesday Blog)

“…for dust you are and to dust you will return.” – Genesis 3:9

…a verse that we often hear on this day to remind us that we came from dust and will return to dust. Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and the day where we mark our foreheads with the ashes from burnt palms from last year’s Palm Sunday. It also marks the beginning of the 40 days of fasting many of us tackle each year – from junk food, to shopping, to the internet, to games… we usually fast something to imitate Jesus in the desert.

And though Ash Wednesday isn’t specifically mentioned in the Bible, we follow this tradition to reflect and prepare for Easter. You may or may not be attending a church service for it but as you think about the countless number of dirty foreheads going around the world today, consider the significance and meaning of it. In the shape of a cross, some may leave it on for a moment, and some may even leave it on all day as a public profession of faith.

And soon (about 40 days), we’ll contemplate the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for us. Let today be a reminder of that as you see the foreheads around you. We were once dirty but made clean because of Jesus, continually being made more like Him. And during this Lenten journey we will post weekly thoughts like last year so that we can prepare the way of the Lord together for Easter.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18

Reflection Song: Nothing But The Blood


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Temple Of Legos

We attended the first night of the Re:New Conference by the Luis Palau Association, here in Wayne, NJ. There were some great leaders leading the night such as Luis Palau, Francis Chan, and worship led by Kristian Stanfill and the Passion band. It was a great night of worship and prayer, as well as being fed by the Word and being inspired & informed of the things going on in our NJ/NY/CT region.

But during Francis Chan’s talk, the part about Jesus’ prayer from John 17 stood out in particular:

“…I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

That “oneness”… that “unity in the Trinity”, if you will, is what was the center of the night. Uniting all peoples of all races and of all denominations and backgrounds to be one. Francis Chan illustrated this by taking out a single Lego piece (and if you aren’t familiar with Legos, maybe Mega Bloks are more for you?) – saying that we, you & I, are like a Lego piece. On our own we are individual and separate but, like Legos, we are meant to be built together as the temple – attached to each other so that those attached will see the glory of the Lord.

Francis Chan
(Francis Chan holding up Legos)

And, mind you, that’s not the physical temple like what’s mentioned here in 2 Chronicles 7 because now we are the temple. And I love what he said next because it really drove it home: In 1 Corinthians 3:16 it says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

The “you” in that verse is actually plural like “y’all” but the “temple” is singular. We are to be one in the Spirit. What a massive idea! We may each be a Lego piece but each of us are part of the same temple – you may be a bottom piece, a middle piece, or a piece that goes on top, but we’re all singular… one.

So we need to function like the way Christ wanted us to function. By ourselves, Legos aren’t all that great… it’s when they come together that they build something more and something better. Right now you may feel alone and may be going through something or maybe it’s something as imminent as being anxious about Lent. But we need to be patient and continue to build this body, this community, this temple. We’ve been saying here that 2015 will be a big year – and we truly believe it. It’ll take time, but we pray that the church would be undivided and build up for something greater in the Kingdom of God!

Stay attached and stay united. Jesus is coming soon!

Reflection Song: Prepare The Way

Lent, Week 2: Focus

If you’ve given something up for Lent, you’ll see that it can be a great time to more fully appreciate the meaning of the cross. Hopefully you are treating it as a time to deepen your relationship with the Lord, rather than doing it “just because”. This Lenten season is meant to enrich our worship to God, growing in our intimacy with Him as we fast these things for 40 days.

But it’s so easy to get stuck in a routine, “Oh, no thanks. I can’t have sweets”, as if we are on a diet. So how can we make Lent less about us, and more about God? How can we focus on Him?

I was reflecting on Psalm 119:33-40, which says that we ought to turn our eyes away from worthless things and preserve our lives according to His word… because His laws are good and we find delight in Him… Fasting from something should help us take our eyes away from these distractions and focus more on the Lord as we live faithfully by His word, His commands, His statutes.

This past Sunday at our home church, we led songs about surrender and how (no matter what we gave up) Jesus is our supplier, provider, satisfier. It’s not easy living a life that shows it but we believe that this discipline can come from regularly spending extra time with God. Rather than dwelling on what you can’t do, use this time to center in on Jesus. Use that TV/internet/dessert/shopping time to regularly be in His word this Lenten season so that we can grow in God’s grace. It’s now Week 2, and we know that there’s great news coming! Rather than thinking we’re taking something away from our lives, let’s reconsider and think how we can add spiritual discipline to prepare for Easter this year.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Reflection Song: Christ Is


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