Sunday, April 20, 2014

Insert the Gospel

Chances are, there's some area of your life that appears dead right now.  Perhaps a friendship has dissolved.  Perhaps a marriage is strained.  Perhaps a prognosis is grim, or a dream is unreached, or a longing is unfulfilled.  This situation -- whatever it is, whether it's large or small -- tugs at you.  It whispers that it will get the best of you, that it will win.

But today is a day when we celebrate resurrection.

During a powerful message that I heard a few weeks' ago, my church's youth pastor noted that even during painful or challenging circumstances, we can insert the gospel into the equation and rest.

The premise, of course, is that the gospel is power.  The gospel changes matters.  The gospel -- this good news of Jesus' all-sufficiency -- heals the lame, cleanses the leper, provides for the widow, comforts the afflicted, creates a way when there is no way, redeems from the pit, protects when we're surrounded, and brings dead things back to life.

Yes, indeed, we can insert the gospel into our circumstances and rest.  The gospel isn't trite comfort, a band aid being offered for a puncture wound, or a wad of chewing gum to plug a gaping hole when our ship is sinking.  Nor is the gospel an "easy" button; God is not genie in a bottle whose sole purpose is to make our problems disappear.

Instead, the gospel is infinite and powerful, holy and unrelenting, effective and essential. It's the nature of God who, although he sees us at our very worst, gave Jesus, his very best, so we could know him.

I took this picture of the sunset last night from my front porch.  We have a God who paints the sky, who causes every new day to dawn.  This God, he knows us. 

Wherever we are today -- whether numb with apathy, riddled with doubt, overcome with sadness, teeming with anger, full of faith, or just coasting along in neutral -- we can be real with God.  We can ask God to enter our equations.  Insert the gospel.  Rest.

On this day especially, we remember that God still is in the resurrection business.  We can dare to wait with expectation.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Reader Survey: The Lowdown on Peeps

Title: Reader Survey: The Lowdown on Peeps

Subtitle: What's your opinion of these nearly glow-in-the-dark confections?  Love them? Hate them? See them as an annual guilty pleasure?  Fess up and share: are Peeps Easter delights or edible frights?

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Friday, April 18, 2014

The Good in Good Friday

Growing up, I never liked the idea of Good Friday.  Perhaps it was due to the name, which didn't seem accurate.  What could be good about nail pierced hands, a crown of thorns, and a cross?  Was it even permissible to be happy on a day that commemorates a crucifixion?

I think about this day differently now.

Within the last 24 hours, Brooke colored on the kitchen table with a pen, leaving behind permanent scribble.  Reese's carelessness resulted in a Google search on how to remove gum from a microfiber couch and berber carpeting.  They've nagged.  They've bickered.  They've gotten under my skin.

Yet, even during their most annoying moments -- moments when behaviors are unacceptable and attitudes are deplorable, moments when they're deliberately disobeying, I wouldn't need to think twice if they were put in harm's way.  I'd step in willfully.  I'd risk my own well-being to save them from harm.

As a parent, you know this.  Deep in your heart, you've looked at your children and felt the brunt of this sobering realization: you'd die for them.

That's the heart of God.

God knew that we were in harm's way.  Our sin had separated us from him, and he willingly risked his own well-being for our good.  Knowing that the cross would serve as the bridge to connect us again with God, he chose death.

This is good news.  It's not pretty.  It's not budding tulips, fluffy chicks, and pastel eggs as we're apt to distill Easter, but it's good in every sense of the word.  A holy good.

Yes, the day is named accurately.
Originally posted April 22, 2011.  Resurrected for today.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On Cleaning, Growing Tulips, Getting Dirty, Eating Smores, Watching Golf, and the Birthday Season

Typical of weekends, the particular one we just experienced came to a close before I could get my bearings.  Yesterday morning I woke amazed (and a little distressed) to find that I've been flung into another new week. 

Let me take a moment to catch up and share some recent happenings with you, stream-of-consciousness style.

1) House Rental Season (spring edition) is upon us.  As I've written before, as homeowners in a university town, we periodically rent our house to alumni who are visiting for a special event, like graduation, or football games, or in the case of this past weekend, an exhibition football game where the team breaks in half to play itself while over 70K fans, all of whom have been deprived of football since the fall, come to watch. 

Preparing for a rental entails extensive cleaning, which ultimately means that my house was gleaming.  (Note the use of past tense here.  We're once again back in our house with our three children, which automatically implies that surfaces no longer gleam.)

2) Things are growing.  On Sunday afternoon I strolled the yard on my daily tulip hunt.  Yep, they're coming.

3) Days of sunshine make you realize what you're missing when it rains.  Friends, we were spoiled this weekend with two days that epitomized what spring should be about: beautiful blue skies, warm sun, and light breezes.  Once we returned from the rental, the girls played in the yard and made a happy mess of themselves, which solidified our decision that it was high time to start a campfire in our fire pit and roast marshmallows.

I've come to the conclusion that one should never bring clean children to a campfire -- only dirty children -- as it's inevitable that marshmallow will end up smeared on somebody's clothes.  And face.  And in their hair.  And, in the case of my five-year-old, inside their ear, which really seems to demonstrate a special talent.

4) I appreciate Smores more each time I eat them.  This sentiment can stand alone without further explanation.

5) I love watching golf on television.  Don't judge.  Don't tell me it's boring and slow.  I already know that it's slow, and sometimes I need boring.  This weekend was the Masters, and I loved listening to the hushed announcers with their pleasing British and Scottish accents.  I loved watching the innovative camera angles as we're flown in an aerial view over Augusta National.  The lush greenness!  The azaleas!  The fact that Bubba Watson won the green jacket again!

Oh, yes, I can handle this kind of boring as a backdrop to my Sunday afternoon and evening.

6) There are three more weeks of the semester.  Four, if you're including finals week.  Not that I'm counting, but I have roughly 300 more pages of student essays, 56 more speeches, 66 student blogs, 33 final projects, and 56 final exams left to go. 

But I'm not counting.

7) The Kramer family birthday season is upon us.  My oldest daughter turns nine today.  Nine years old!  Obviously, this has unfolded day by day, yet a part of me is surprised by the fact that I've been mothering this long.  Another part of me feels every day of it, all 3,285 of them.  What a ride it has been.  What a blessing!

By this time next month, we'll have celebrated the birthday of my husband and my other two daughters, which means that I'm going to hang a "Happy Birthday" sign and leave it up for the next four weeks to account for this massed influx of spring births.  (Once and done decorating, my friends.)

Wishing you a glorious day!

Augusta National Golf Course pictures compliments of Robert Du Bois and Torrey Wiley, respectively (

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

He's Not Overwhelmed

Several Sundays ago, the youth pastor at my church preached an amazing message.  I'm still mulling over his words, especially on this nugget, which I'll paraphrase for you: Jesus never got overwhelmed by anything he faced.  Instead, he overwhelmed it.

Such a difference!  How often do I let mountains in my life overwhelm me?  I cannot forget that Jesus wasn't overwhelmed by disease and sickness, or hardship and trials, or sin and death.  He overwhelmed those very things by his presence! 

If you're facing an overwhelming situation and feeling hard-pressed on all sides, remember that the Jesus who disrupted a funeral procession to return a son to his mother is the same Jesus who intercedes for us today.

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