Sanctuary Battle Cry

Our Father

The congregation breathes in together

Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name

Another inhale as I repeat the prayer I’ve known all my life

Looking around at the hearts filling the pews

Some here to feel the Spirit, others just paying their dues

Energetic young children and wise elderly folk

Eager fires believing in the prayer, craving to be stoked

My eyes fall on the ones who have their eyes closed

Whispering the prayer as if they were home alone

Full surrender, Sanctuary

Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven

I watch the living body breathe together

Chests rising and falling, like a throbbing heart

Faces I’ve known all my life, others brand new

But my heart loves them all knowing they’ve been chosen too

Hungry for salvation, starving for love

Give us this day our daily bread

Some file into the back row wanting to be unseen

Broken and tired and wanting to come home, come clean

Wondering how God could love someone like them

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us

Scarred wrists, sunken red eyes, bones stretching skin

But surviving in His arms as the world erupts with sin

Lead us not into temptation

A woman sniffles to my right as I watch her husband comfort her

I’d seen her name on the prayer list, asking God for a cure

 But deliver us from evil

My family’s voices filling the room

Knowing that the King could come soon

Fighting for the truth and yearning for his voice

Coming together to sing and rejoice

For thine is the Kingdom

The Sanctuary looks more like a battlefield

Soldiers lined up with their weapons and shields

And the power

We are fighting together, for each other, for love

No soldier left behind, every sheep found

And the glory

The woman to my right raises up her hands to the cross

Believing even in her unbelief

Forever and Ever

One last breath

Inhale hope, exhale fear

Amen.

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Sacred Marriage


Let me preface this by saying that I know I’ve only been married for about two years. I’m still a youngin’. A lot of people would probably say we’re still in the “honeymoon” phase and haven’t really experienced the rough patches of marriage. And honestly, I think your honeymoon can last forever if you make the effort, some days being more exciting than others. We’ve both walked through our own valleys and learned how to help the other carry their cross. I’ve learned more of his flaws and he’s learned more of mine. I’ve also fallen in love with new parts of him that have changed over the past couple years. You probably won’t believe me but when I look at him like Jesus looks at us I fall in love with him more because of his flaws. I see how much of a fighter he is when he is at his lowest and I crave his joy when he is inspired by something small. When he sins my heart breaks right along with his and I remind him not to let the devil win. When I break down he makes me look him in the eyes and pour my heart out instead of keeping it to myself. I’ve practiced quick forgiveness and slow anger with him but even when I fail and take out my anger on him he forgives me soon after with those sweet eyes that love me despite my ugly parts. I feel like I have been able to put “living like Jesus” into action more in my marriage than ever before in my life. I am no expert of love but I am a follower of the creator of love Himself. Marriage has helped me to see and understand Jesus more clearly and has helped me to feel and accept a love that both breaks and grows my heart. I break when Sam breaks and my heart grows when I see him thrive. I love it all-the breaking and the blooming of my heart for my husband.

We are not perfect, but we have a perfect God who teaches us how to love each other. And how did Jesus love?

He paid attention to even the smallest of actions (Luke 8:45), He chose to stand beside a sinner caught in the act and defend her instead of throwing stones (John 8:7), He felt pain with the people he loved around him (John 11:35), He showed devotion and served his friends (John 13:5), He had beautiful plans even for the most ordinary of people (Ruth), He craved a deep relationship with his people that was alluring, rich and intimate (Hosea 2:14-20), He was obedient even when it hurt (Luke 22:42, John 3:16), He never leaves us (Matthew 28:20), last but not least; nothing could ever make Him stop loving us (Romans 8:38-39).

That is the kind of love that Sam and I need and want in our marriage and we fight for it every day. The way Sam loves me has helped me to feel the overwhelming love of God more in these past two years than ever in my life and I can’t wait to see how much it will grow in the years to come. Jesus showed us an unstoppable and undying love that is unconditional and selfless. When we take every story and life-changing moment when Jesus showed us the most perfect example of love and show that same love to our spouse, marriage will make you thrive and abide like never before.

If the love you’re trying to imitate towards each other is the same love that defeated the grave, your marriage will be the most beautiful and breathtaking gift that stands firm on holy ground.

Letting go of Envy

Somehow envy creeps into our lives when we least expect it. Whether it be envy towards the girl on the cover of Shape magazine or one of our closest friends, envy finds its way into our lives. Envy is something I’m familiar with but until recently it has never been something that I would say I “struggle” with. Sure, I’ve compared myself to my gorgeous older sister plenty of times and have taken off my cover up and jumped in the pool at lightning speed so I could to avoid showing my love handles for more seconds than necessary-but just within the past year envy has become the ugly voice that drags me down. And I know it’s different this time because instead of just comparing my physical appearance to other people, I’ve started to compare my entire life to others who seem to be more successful, wealthy, stress-free, etc. And I hate this feeling because I know with all of my heart how blessed I am with the life God has given me. But how do I believe it and then live like I believe it? How do we look at ourselves in the mirror and say “How the heck did I score a life this freaking awesome?” and really, truly believe it and live like it?

Theodore Roosevelt said that “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Jesus is the giver of joy. If we find ourselves envying worldly things of people around us-then that shows where our heart has wandered. If we crave the lives of people who are living for the world, then we’ve gotten off the path and let our minds drift from God. And true life is found only when you abide with God.

Here’s the moment that we can be reminded of when we were set free from the thief of joy-

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished”

-John 19:30

Let me remind you (and myself) what was finished that day.

“The race” to be good enough, the need to climb “the ladder”, having to look a certain way to be seen as beautiful, the need to do something grand to be seen as valuable, the need to have it all together, the pain of hopelessness, loneliness, guilt, the feeling that you constantly have to try to be better than that one person, the need to lose yourself to be accepted in the world.

All of that was finished a long time ago. When Love Himself took it all away for us. Removing the ugly parts of us so that we can be washed white as snow. And He did that for the world, for all of us. For the brother, sister, friend, stranger, celebrity that you envy. Christ has the same love for all of us so you don’t have to envy anyone. Because the greatest gift of life is the love of Christ and it’s free. You don’t have to be “good enough” to get that gift.

So, when envy strikes and we find ourselves dreaming of a different life that seems easier than our own, we are reminded that the most beautiful and perfect gift has already been given to us and everything else smalls in comparison. We have nothing to envy knowing that the King of the world finished it for us and we can abide with Him and be free.