Friday, March 29, 2013


I just want to share the song I’ve been singing this week as the church remembers the scandalous beauty of God’s love for us—Christ’s death and resurrection.  It is a song by Jeremy Riddle and it's called Acquitted. 

Blessings to you as you remember His death and celebrate His resurrection.


Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we receive this gift of love.

Jessica :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Enter Into the Ritual

It was two years ago, in the midst of a Lenten series, when I first heard the word—Haggadah. 

It was described to me as the means by which the Jewish people remember the Passover.  They enter not only into a celebration, but they enter into the ritual retelling of the story as the enslaved Israelites themselves.  They begin the evening as slaves.  They end the evening a free people. 

I was captured by this idea and began wondering what it might look like to consider our story in this way—from the Fall to the Resurrection. 

I sat down again today and picked up the idea where I left it in 2011 and drafted ‘An Easter Haggadah.’

Enter into the ritual...
as slaves
bound to lives serving a hard master
breaking backs, carrying heavy loads.

Enter into the ritual.
Each day
captive to the same hopeless task,
serving death.

Enter into the ritual.
Cry out.
Perhaps God will respond.
Perhaps He will save.

Enter into the ritual.
A leader
prepared and brought forward.
To lead.  To guide.  To save.

Enter into the ritual.
A Seder invitation—
eat His body,
drink His blood.

Enter into the ritual.
A Lamb
rejected and sacrificed to cover over sin,
an offering to purchase our freedom.

Enter into the ritual.
life restored to crown a King,
unexpected, yet true.

Enter into the ritual.
Be free.
A people proclaiming peace won for them,
A living body renewed.

Enter the ritual.  Remember.  Live it all anew.


Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we enter into Holy Week remembering.  May we take time to pause and enter into the story of Jesus in a new way.  May we find that as we do He meets us there and leads us to receive the gift He has for us—Himself.

Jessica :)

P.S.  Can I recommend an album to you as you spend time remembering this week?  Matt Maher’s Alive Again is still my very favorite album for Lent and Holy Week.  I would say it is an Easter Haggadah of song.  I never get tired of listening to the story as he tells it.  Grace and peace.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Wholly His, Holy Life

“John is seeing the holiness of God manifested in the life of the church as it lives in the world.”

When I read it in the Revelation study I’ve been working my way through something is stirred—a memory opens up. 

Didn’t I pen something like that—living holy and others seeing God?  I wonder as I run to the kitchen for an ice pack.

When I finish reading, I search through files of poetry from a few years back and find it—a few untitled lines, written in June 2011.

As I read them, I begin to remember something else.  These lines were inspired by Scripture and I was stirred enough to encourage my small group with the thoughts I had been thinking about. 

I wonder.  What was that Scripture?

I think I was reading through Hebrews or James about then.

I pull up my email and go searching through old sent mail.  After a few dead ends, I find it, a line of Scripture and a few wonderings.
“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many”  Hebrews 12:14-15

I wondered to my friends. 

Is it when we live life wholly His that we live holy lives?

And in living this way, wholly His, that through the things we say and the things we do, we pour forth the grace of God so “no one misses the grace of God”?

I read it and smile.

This.  This is the way we are meant to live in this world.  The more I read through Revelation, the more I become convinced of this.  When we live wholly His, we live manifesting the holiness of God to the world around us.

The words of Robert Mulholland, about the bowl imagery I’ve been reading through, come to my mind once again:
To be part of the community of God’s people means—to become part of God’s response to the rebellion; to be drawn into the very being and nature of God so as to be shaped in the image and likeness of God; to be thrust out in the midst of Fallen Babylon to participate in God’s costly, redemptive response to the rebellion.  The vision portrays this meaning in the bowls, which, on the one hand are the prayers of the saints that open them to the shaping presence of God, and, on the other hand, being filled with the presence of God, are then poured out into the life of the world(p.97)

I am struck by the way the lines I penned two years ago are in such alignment with what I’ve been reading about today, the bowls.  I would never have imagined it.

When I am wholly given to God
A life of grace pours forth—
Light, a shining beacon in this dark world
Mirror spilling out radiance
Present reminder of His glory.
A surrendered vessel
I live holy
And the world sees the Lord.

What a gift He has given to me by leading me back to these words of poetry today.

They are a gift He is reminding me to live--wholly His, a holy life-- as a surrendered vessel (a bowl filled with the presence of God and poured out) so others around me do not miss the grace of God.


Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we live wholly God’s.  In this may we find that we live holy—pouring out the grace of God on everyone we meet.  When they encounter us may others see the Lord.

Jessica :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Reaping

I have been reading through Revelation lately.  I have been working my way through the Journey through the Bible guide as I go.*  I have also spent time going over the text again to really think about it and let the message sink in a bit more.  Sometimes when I do this poetry is the way I process it all.  That is what happened for me this week.  Here is a bit of the journey I have been traveling in God's Word:

"I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.  Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”  So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.

Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle.  Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.”  The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them in to the great winepress of God’s wrath.  They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia."

The Reaping

The time for the reaping has come.
Sharp sickles gather in the crop—
A harvest of hearts
Ripe with what their lives have sown.

A crop that has died
To rise as stalks gathered close;
Having received the gift of the cross long ago,
Meeting the end that leads to life.

Another crop that has spent its time ripening
Connected to the wrong kind of vine.
These impressive clusters of dark red, collected in a bad bunch,
Now crushed in a wrathful winepress; in the end, the blood flows.


Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we realize that we will reap what our lives have sown.  May we find that as we trust Christ and lay our lives down to follow him that we live fully and abundantly.

Jessica :)

*I would definitely recommend this study resource.  It discusses Revelation in a way that is very applicable to life in the present. In this, I have found it challenging me to live as Christ has called me to live and drawing my attention to other lessons I feel like God has been teaching me in other areas of my life, especially the way I interact with the world around me.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Scripture Reads

It is an activity I have often led in leadership trainings and participated in while on retreats. 

Often it is called lectio divina. Yet, tonight as I sit at Last Wednesday, Chuck and Andrea don’t call it that.  Instead, they strip the practice down to its core and call it what it is—listening to God through His Word.

They teach.

He is always speaking through His Word. 

“For the word of God is alive and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12

As we read Scripture, Scripture is reading us, they say.

They challenge.

Do we take time to stop and listen to God in His Word?

They lead.

As an auditorium of many, we stop to practice. 

We read and listen for God to speak.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:23-25

As I read, it stands out to me like words bolded on the page, calling out to my heart: 

“Hold unswervingly to the hope” and “he who promised is faithful.”

In the minutes that follow I am invited to consider what God might be trying to say to me.  I read the passage again and the context provides the key to what I think God is trying to tell me.

I don’t really like it.  This is about my attitude, my bad attitude.  I can hold to it or I can hold unswervingly to my hope trusting that he who promises is faithful.

I sit in the midst of an unwelcome confrontation.  Will I receive what I think God is speaking to me?

At the moment, I think I am very happy with my bad attitude.  Will I let it go?

Chuck challenges us to “share what you think you heard with someone from your tribe and act on it” before we go to bed tonight.  He has already shared that it is often in sharing what we think we hear that we receive confirmation (“Yes that sounds like God based on His Word and character"), correction (“No that’s not God” or further insight), and encouragement.

I am not looking forward to this sharing, but I am determined to do it. 

On my way home, I try to brainstorm ways of avoiding this assignment altogether.  However, in the end, I realize I will either do it or not, with this task there is no half-way.

When Jason asks about Last Wednesday I dodge, preferring to listen to him share why he wasn’t able to come late like he hoped.

We carry on with what is left of our evening—comparing baby items online—until I finally work up the courage to share what I think I heard God say to me.

In this, I pour out what I’m ashamed to admit to him—my bad attitude spilling out real and ugly.  Somehow it seems even uglier when it is out in the open.  I think I’m beginning to recognize this attitude for what it really is—toxic.  When I think of this, I’m not quite so happy with it anymore.  

Still, I hold to it defiantly—waiting. 

I am waiting for the words of correction to painfully whip across my heart. 

Instead, my husband gracefully draws me close and speaks.  Far from stinging censure, his words are gentle, but pointed.  His words bring the perspective I need.  They help me see what I could not see before.  What he says changes everything.  

All at once, I am broken for the way I have been rigid, inflexible and critical.  I have been trying to control this situation and in doing so I have been everything but loving. 

After I take it all in, I turn toward Jason and apologize for how I have made things difficult for him.  The tears trickle as I tell him I want to be a helpful partner in the midst of this situation.  I tell him I want to respond compassionately and live trusting the Faithful One to work out all I hope for in the midst of something I am unable to control.

In the midst of this, he affirms me and gives me encouragement.

I look into his kind eyes and realize that my dread is gone.  The toxins have been drawn out.  I feel free somehow.  I find I am softened at heart and ready to respond to all that God has spoken to me.

I wonder at it all.

I walk upstairs to get ready for bed thankful and lifting up praise for the beginning of His transformation in me.


Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we listen to God—in His Word—seek counsel from our tribe, and follow where He leads.  May we find that He is good and works for ours.

Jessica :)