When Victory Looks Like Defeat: A Reflection on Christ’s Death

It is finished.  Those words must have haunted John, Mary, and the others at the foot of that cross. They must have been shaken to their core. What had they been waiting for? Did they understand what was happening? Were they waiting for another miracle? For the summoning of angel armies? Did they expect Christ to begin His reign on Earth with the triumphant defeat of the Romans who were crucifying Him? As they lamented at the feet of the Son of God, did their hearts collapse at these words? We have the benefit of torn veil. The Holy Spirit has been pressed into our hearts like a seal ascertaining the work of Christ and the promise of His return. They did not have this assurance. They just had faith. But maybe, just maybe, they lost their faith for a moment. The world we live in defines victory in very specific ways. Increases in income. Power to control other people. A group that’s devoted to you. It is not so in the Kingdom of God. His biggest victories have been counter-intuitive to the people watching. In fact, they looked an awful lot like defeat. No one expects that the greatest victory in the history of the world to look like the leader being mocked, tortured, humiliate, and executed by those He was saving. Throughout the Bible, throughout history, there are so many examples of victories that look an awful lot like defeat. But God’s ways are not out ways. Joseph was enslaved and falsely imprisoned. This looks like the fate of a man who had been completely abandoned by God. But it led to the salvation of the entire nation of Israel. When Christ came to Earth as the Messiah, sent to restore the relationship between God and Man, His victory was so horrific, we still want to turn our eyes away from any reminder. Instead of looking away, let’s fix our eyes on the cross today. Because the cross is the cost of our sin. It’s the cost of every little white lie, every lustful thought, every selfish deed, every broken moment that resulted in the ending of life, every time we tried to claim control over what God had already established, led to that moment. Our sin, it doesn’t preclude God’s victory in our lives. When we see the Son of God crucified, we see hope. We realize…

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God Proclaims, We Wait For His Promises

Yesterday, two days in Christian history were marked on the same day. Palm Sunday always heralds in Holy Week but, this year, it was on March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation. These days hold in my mind the proclamation of what is to come. We see it in the ushering in of Christ as proclaimed heir to David’s throne. We see it in Gabriel’s message to Mary that her Holy Son would sit on the throne of David. It has been proclaimed since the Garden of Eden when God proclaimed that a descendant of Eve would crush the snake. From the beginning, we see patterns of God proclaiming, and then the people waiting for the fulfillment. This is a tension we all feel.  Christ’s Kingdom has been proclaimed. We know a world is coming where every tear is dried, but yet, we wipe our cheeks. But the Bible is full of people who have waited. Abraham was 75 and childless when God promised to make him the father of a great nation. It was decades before that promise came to fruition. David was anointed the King of Israel but it was again, years, years filled with persecution and fleeing for his life, before he sat on the throne. When Christ ascended into Heaven, the angels promised that he’d return again in the same manner. But still, we wait, with eyes fixed on the sky, longing for our Messiah as the sun sets on each day of our waiting. There is a pattern throughout all of Scripture of God proclaiming His plans and us waiting impatiently for it to come to pass. Because His timetable is not our timetable. Our eyes are limited by the finite view of a lifetime. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11, ESV On this day, throughout this week of proclamations and remembrance, we need to focus on both the proclamation of what God has done and is going to do and the remembrance of the fulfillment of His promises. When we hold both of these things together, it gives us hope. We see the promises we are waiting anxiously to come to pass but we also see God’s faithfulness. Our lives are filled with waiting…

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Enter To Win The Encouraging Easter Basket Giveaway!

As Easter is rapidly approaching, I wanted to share some resources and encouragement to strengthen your faith during this celebratory season so I decided to host an Easter Basket Giveaway. Note: This post may contain affiliate links which means that I may receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you) to help fund The Thin Place. See the sidebar for my full disclosure.  This Easter basket is a compilation of several things from The Daily Grace Co. which is a wonderful source of encouragement for your faith throughout the entire year. The Freedom and Grace devotional on the book of Galatians is a powerful study of Christ’s work during Holy Week and what it means to our lives. It is a beautiful way to encourage your heart this Easter season. If you’re looking for a tangible reminder of where your heart needs to be focused, the “Abide” necklace is a beautiful way to prompt you throughout your day to keep your heart rooted in Jesus.   Finally, the “Grace and Goals” notepad keeps goals at the forefront of our mind while also keeping us rooted in the grace of God. Also included in the giveaway is a beautiful mug, spring-scented candle, temporary Scripture tattoos from Armed with Truth (Get $5 off your order by clicking here), and a rustic “Be Still” sign. This Easter, let’s fill our lives with things that revive our faith and point us to the truth of the Gospel. I hope that this giveaway is an encouragement and launching point that causes all of us to evaluate what we can do to celebrate this Easter season in a way that encourages spiritual growth. As my gift to everyone this Easter season, The Thin Place Resource Library also contains a free Holy Week Devotional to strengthen us all by centering our minds and hearts as we march towards Easter Sunday. Sign-up below for access and to enter the Easter Basket Giveaway! Please take a moment and share this giveaway with a friend who could use some encouragement!

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Are You Ready For Holy Week? Here’s Your Free Devotional

Holy Week is almost upon us. To the rest of the world, this is simply another week. For us, this is a special time, set apart from the rest of the year to remind us that we are set apart from the rest of the world. It is a quiet week, a time of reflection and of mourning. We grieve our sinful desires and lives and ache when we see the cost of all of our failure. We long for everything to be made new, for the victory of Easter Sunday, but we can’t ignore the pain and sorrow that this week displays. We can’t skip over Christ’s work on Calvary and simply celebrate His victory. They are deeply connected. I am sharing a devotional in The Thin Place Resource Library to encourage you to slow down and walk through each day of this week with intentionality. Instead of surrendering it to the world, let’s retrain our hearts and minds to insert our lives into the story of our salvation. This is not just another work week, this is the week when the true work was done. The Grave burst open and Death died but first, Jesus sweat blood and cried out, begging to God for His task to be taken from Him. We need to keep our eyes open to every part of the story, the struggle and the victory, this week. Because looking at Christ’s vulnerability and the struggle to carry out the task God had given Him, it gives me hope. When I see the betrayal of Judas, the frailty of the Disciplines in the Garden, the emotional uncertainty that Christ felt, my heart fills with hope. Because I see that even in the greatest story, humanness flooded the action. Friends may have betrayed Him, but that wasn’t because He was wrong. The Disciplines were broken, but they were used mightily. Jesus asked God to take away the task God had given Him, but He still moved forward in fearful obedience. I am hopeful because, even in my brokenness, even when I am begging God to take away the task before me, He can still use my obedient hands. We are not enough. We will falter. But we serve the one who did not falter when given the unbearable weight of the sins of the world. So let us contemplate that this Holy Week, then let us…

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Pride and Knowing Your Worth: 4 Questions Christians Must Consider

Pride has lost its place on the shelf of vices and has been invited to the table as a virtue. Carrying with us, pride for who we are, for what we’ve accomplished, has been deemed a crucial component of self-respect. Psychologists and counselors, well-intended though they may be, have encouraged us all in this. In many cases, even pastors have encouraged their congregates to embrace “healthy” pride without weighing this modern phenomenon against Scripture. But, like everything we come in contact with, we need to take this idea and run it through the filter of Scripture. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” – Proverbs 11:2, ESV Pride is a dangerous slope. And we would be wise to heed Paul’s words and to boast in nothing but Christ’s work, not our own skills. When we find ourselves slipping into prideful thoughts, we need to ask ourselves four questions. What Am I Above? What actions or avoidances are causing me to think highly of myself? Am I looking at a sin and saying, “I would never!” instead of, “but for the grace of God go I?” For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV When I experience pride in my life, it is often because I am making incorrect assumptions about myself and my ability to withstand sin. Instead of assuming that we would never succumb to temptation, we need to stop and consider that maybe I haven’t been in the situation other’s have been in. I assume superiority and mastery over sin instead of compassion on someone who is ensnared. When I remember that pride comes before a fall, I take the threat of sin more serioulsy and guard myself as I should. Who Am I Better Than?  Pride innately assumes that I am better than someone else. It is taking my good sense, my self-control, my ambition, and comparing myself to another person who presumably lacks these qualities. “Let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.” -Galatians 6:4 Our work needs to be tested against the only measuring stick we are provided with, the perfect Christ. When we compare ourselves…

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