Top 10 Posts Of 2016

2016 was an interesting year, wasn’t it? It was full of ups & downs for entertainment, politics, and, I’m sure, for your personal lives as well. But it’s important to stay rooted in what helps you stay rooted in God. And so we thank you for joining us for another year of quick thoughts on our site. We hope to bring you new music in 2017, but in the meantime please enjoy our ten most visited entries of 2016:

1. Lent, Week 5: Prepare The Cross
2. Lent, Week 1: An Early 40 Days (Prepare Yourself)
3. Christ Is Risen!
4. Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart
5. Almost God
6. Good Friday?
7. Advent 3: JOY
8. Prepare The Way (Palm Sunday)
9. Lent, Week 6: Prepare Resurrection
10. Advent 4: PEACE

And here are our top posts from previous years. Thanks, everyone, and Happy New Year!

2015
2014
2013

Prepare The Way (Palm Sunday)

I think it’s great that today is both Palm Sunday and the first day of Spring. Something a lot of us do around this time is a little spring cleaning. Tidying up, making room for summer, preparing for a new season… And in a lot of ways, that’s what Palm Sunday is too.

The Bible accounts the crowds in Jerusalem making a way for Jesus. And even us today, we may have given some things up for Lent in order to make more room for Jesus in our lives. It’s our own version of spring cleaning. What better day to recognize how Jesus can enter than Palm Sunday!

Whether you’re at church or unable to attend, today marks the beginning of Holy Week, the final days leading up to Good Friday and Easter. But we all have obstacles in the way. Take a moment today to re-prioritize so that there’s nothing obstructive in our lives. Let’s start today off right and invite Jesus. Clean out the things we don’t need so that He can fill us instead, as the one who satisfies.

Reflection Song: Prepare The Way

Post-Easter Self-Control (Fruit Of The Spirit)

It’s the day after Easter and you’ve probably broken fast. Maybe you took that first sip of soda in weeks, or you finally got to checkout with your online cart full of things, or (like myself) you were able to dust off your Wii U and play it again. What’s different now, post-Easter?

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is made up of nine attributes: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The point of these attributes is to contrast acts that are not of the Spirit – things like idolatry, hatred, drunkenness, selfish ambition, etc. And if you’ve been following us since the beginning of Lent, you would have noticed that each week touched upon a different attribute.

Today as we consider self-control on this day after Easter, think about how Jesus has changed everything for us. The old has gone and the new is here! As easy as it may be to jump back into old habits that we gave up for 40 days, we should think about the good that God intends for us because as Galatians 5:1 says, we are free… a liberty that includes a freedom from sin.

Thanks to the Holy Spirit, we should have better discernment of good from bad – a self-control that will continue to help us be free. And though what we fasted may not be a clear-cut good vs. bad, I’d imagine that the things we gave up were put on hold for 40 days because we felt the effects of constantly being exposed to them. But even if you didn’t fast something, I’m sure a certain image comes to mind when you think of this topic.

Jesus died and rose again so that in this Christian life we can oppose the things that go against this new life given to us. So we just wanted to encourage you, brothers & sisters, to persevere with the self-control gifted to you so that you can overcome and live for the glory of the Lord. The Holy Spirit is at work within us, so let’s make the most of this post-Easter season… It’s a new day!

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin… – Romans 6:6

For more on the fruit of the Holy Spirit / posts for Lent:

Reflection Song: Only You

Lent, Week 6: Gentleness & Kindness (A Palm Sunday Blog)

In some translations of the Bible, gentleness & kindness are almost interchangeable. Today we celebrate this gentleness/kindness as Jesus, our King, enters Jerusalem humbly and gently on a donkey. As Palm Sunday, many of us might imagine the crowds, the masses, the shouts of “Hosanna!” (Matthew 21:9), and a mess of palm branches on the road. But this time we want to invite you to think of the calm & quiet nature in which Jesus arrived this Holy Week.

Gentleness and kindness could mean “meekness”, but not “weakness”. Jesus was a perfect example of this as He obeyed and submitted to the Father, yet carrying out an eternal plan. While many on this day expected a militant ruler, warrior, or conqueror, our Savior came in riding on a lowly colt! Zechariah 9:9 prophesied, “See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

On one hand, gentleness is humility, grace, obedience… and kindness is an uprightness, a caring, a kindness of heart. We aim for these two as we strive to be like Jesus, who displayed gentleness & kindness in His life and death. It is this gentleness and kindness that God showed as He offered salvation to us – the same characteristic that is at work within us through the Holy Spirit… that we would offer up our own lives as well, especially during this Lent season, as we think about the life and death of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.

Jesus has come today! As we embark on Holy Week, let’s think about the selfless sacrifice Jesus made for our salvation. He surrenders Himself to the Father’s will with gentleness (humility, grace, obedience) and kindness (uprightness, caring, gentleness) just as we should. For those who have given things up for Lent, how is that going? Do we allow the Spirit to guide us as we surrender ourselves so that all that we do is done with a spirit of gentleness & kindness?

In this final stretch, continue to be an example of Christ as He continues to be your guide in all things. May His gentleness and kindness carry over to you today.

Reflection Song: Prepare The Way


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Lent, Week 5: Love

We’re not talking about a worldly love but a Godly love – a love from the Father as we are of the Father, not of the world. Yet we often find ourselves loving things more than we should: food, shopping, games, March Madness… But Jesus says in 1 John 2:15-17:

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Instead, just as God loves us we too ought to love Him and others with a Godly love. In fact, God is love and He says that we should love one another: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35) But love is tough, isn’t it? We always revert to love the things we once did and hate the things we’ve always known hating. But because of Jesus Christ and the love He showed on the cross, we can put that behind us and strive to be more like Him who died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).

The old has gone away and the new has come. We no longer live because we have been crucified with Christ and He now lives in us only because of the love & faithfulness of God the Father and His one and only Son (Galatians 2:20). This changes everything! So while we continue to pave the way, keep at it! It may be tough and it won’t be easy but while earthly love is convenient and will be effortless to slip back into, it is not the true love that God set aside for us.

This week, remember that God is love and that He is with you so that you don’t have to love on your own as it’s portrayed in fairy tales, books, or movies. The love we give and show the world, as we become better disciples, is of the Father. It’s the kind of love that fills us even when other love fails us. God loves us & cares for us and as we draw closer to Holy Week, remember the massive love that will be displayed for us because He so loved the world.

Reflection Song: Because Of Your Love


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

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


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Lent, Week 6: Palm Sunday (Holy Week)

Today we look at Palm Sunday (or Passion Sunday), which kicks off Holy Week leading up to Jesus’ death. Who would have thought that the day Jesus triumphantly enters Jerusalem would be the same week of His betrayal and death on the cross? In Matthew 21:1-11, we see that the passage is titled “Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King”. Imagine you were there for that Palm Sunday, you hear there’s a Messiah among you, He’s a King, He’s the Lord of lords… The crowds are laying down their cloaks, waving these branches, saying hosanna in the highest! “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Many times throughout the Bible (Isaiah 40:3, Mark 1:3, Mark 3:3) it says “prepare the way”, which may remind us of what we read above when the crowds were laying down their cloaks and laying down branches. The crowds were preparing the way for Jesus, even on a colt! They didn’t know what He would do next, but they knew they had to make way.

So where does that leave us? I don’t think any of us are expecting to go outside right now and lay down our North Face or Burberry jackets on the ground. So how do we prepare the way? The Bible says to prepare the way of the Lord and make His paths straight. We should note that it’s not that the Lord doesn’t like winding or curved roads but we ought to clear the way of all obstructions or hindrances that could keep Him from doing His will in our lives.

If you have things you’ve given up for Lent, or things that are holding you back, it’s time to do some spring cleaning. Have you noticed that refraining from these things makes a better way for Jesus to come? Jesus gave everything up for us in order for our crimson sins to be washed as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). His triumphant entry into Jerusalem is so that we can have a victory in our salvation from the cross and resurrection of our living Lord & Savior. Make worthy to God all of your praise this Holy Week, this Easter season, and with these lives that we have in Him.

Ultimately, instead of being on a throne as King, Jesus humbly took His place on the cross for our sins. So let’s prepare the way, knowing what’s to come this coming Holy Week: our Lord Jesus Christ suffering for us, exemplifying a love that’s humble & beyond how we can love. This, in fact, is the definition of the word “passion“… as in “The Passion Of The Christ”. The love Jesus showed on the cross spans farther than we can imagine. So we begin Holy Week with the palms and end with the cross…

Reflection Song: Prepare The Way


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Lent, Week 1: Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the Lenten season. For the next 40 days of Lent, we reflect upon one of the most significant days of our faith… Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. With ashes made from the previous Palm Sunday, we mark a cross on our foreheads and have a repentant attitude, remembering that we came from dust and will return to dust.

This year, Pope Francis has chosen for his Lenten message a theme of “He became poor, so that by His poverty we might become rich”, which comes from 2 Corinthians 8:9.

So often we might give something up for Lent thinking it’ll also be good for us to do so (sweets, TV, games, etc.) but it’s very easy to forget that Christ died for totally unselfish reasons. It wasn’t just for your sins. It wasn’t just for my sins. It was for the sin of the world! (John 1:29) And though Lent was originally observed in the fourth century as a time of examination and denial of oneself, we may find ourselves treating it more like a countdown to Easter (“only x more days until I can eat/do _____ again!”).

In the coming weeks, we hope to reflect with you so that, whether or not you’re fasting something, we can prepare the way of the Lord together – not only giving things up, but also laying our lives down in surrender as we contemplate the price Jesus paid on the cross, that we might become rich in Him and have life to the fullest. Let’s set the tone for this season.

What are you giving up for Lent?

Reflection Song: Prepare The Way


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter