Highlighting God’s Word. . .and God’s Word Highlighting Our Lives

Today’s post comes from Chris Cairo: 

highlighters-871282749297x9GvWhen I read books I like to highlight the good parts. No, not in fiction books like those written by Vince Flynn (a favorite author), but the business books, Christian books I read, and especially the Bible.

I almost always have my highlighter out when I read the bible. I tend to highlight the major verses, like John 3:16 (‘for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.’), and ones we often hear in church (like Numbers 6:24-26)).

Highlighted bible 2But invariably, no matter which book of the bible I am reading, there are certain words and verses that jump out at me…that make me pause…that I need to think about. So I highlight them.

And sometimes, as I am reading a particular section of the bible a second or third time (because I either (a) still don’t get it, or (b) need additional inspiration), I find myself highlighting verses I had ‘skipped’ over previously.

God speaks to me through His word…with the right words, at the right time.

This always reminds me of the bible verses the confirmands choose when they make their confirmation. Each of them chose a verse that spoke to them personally, and they were all different. God spoke to them.

I hope that He continually speaks to you as you read the bible, and that reading the bible is a part of your life.

Bring your highlighter, and let His word highlight your life.

 

Easter member Chris Cairo wrote the above reflection as part of his special ministry to college students and others, in which he writes to them on a monthly basis to encourage their faith to thrive in their daily lives. 

 

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California Dreaming

On an early fall morning in 1996, I stood with a dear friend, Suzanne, watching the antics of our neighborhood’s children when my 4 year-old son ran up to us with an important announcement. Poised wide-legged, chest puffed and wearing his new Ninja filename-1Turtle Halloween costume he proclaimed to the world, “When I grow up, I am going to be Ninja Turtle Michelangelo and I am going to stop all the bad guys!” Not requiring any sort of response or advice about his new career decision, he ran on.

Turning to Suzanne I asked, “When do I break his heart? When do I tell him he cannot be a superhero? When do I tell him he will probably grow up to be something practical – maybe an accountant like his Dad? ” Suzanne whispered, “Don’t tell him Jean. The world will tell him soon enough.” Quietly that morning I prayed that Mark would find work when he was grown that brought him joy and fulfillment as well as a means of support.

Several years later during a family vacation in California, we strolled through a park overlooking the ocean. Mark pursued the dozens of seagulls grouped along our path determined to catch one of them. His whole body squealed with delight each time the birds took flight. Catching his breath on a bench before returning to the hunt, Mark made another announcement. “Someday I want to live here! When I grow up I am moving to California!”

Now, 15 years later, Mark no longer wears a cape or carries a plastic sword but his desire to right the wrongs of this world did not fade. He involves himself in organizations and causes that raise people up and him in the process. He lives his life with kindness and fairness even when the world is not always kind or fair to him. In many ways I see him living the superhero life he dreamed of as a child though it looks very different than what either of us pictured.

I cannot help but grin as I tell you that Mark is a newly graduated accountant from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is preparing to start his first job in San Francisco next month. He knew business was a practical IMG_1078degree but had difficulty imagining his life as an accountant. His job opportunity in California is not a traditional accounting job path recommended by his school advisers but it unfolded magically and effortlessly for him. The expression, “It was meant to be” comes to mind. He is excited to get started. I am brimming with joy for him and the new life he is creating but also experiencing worry, sadness and grief at his leaving.

As I summon the courage to kiss my son good-bye before he boards the plane that will fly him to his future, I call on my faith to steady me. My faith over the years has grown into a solid platform from which I can stand firmly and look around. From that platform of faith I can see the happenings of life unfold without being bowled over by them. My body feels the multitude of physical and emotional pain that life brings, but my soul knows I can stand against the current. I have emotions, but I am not my emotion. I have a body, but I am not my body. I am a soul encased in a physical body, learning and experiencing this world but not overwhelmed by it. It is a source of inner strength that comes when I let go of expectations and simply have faith.

I have come to believe that God wants all of our dreams to come true. He hears the desires of our hearts and wants them to be realized. So many times this world derails us. Society often tells us we are not good enough or brave enough to achieve our dreams or face life’s challenges. What if we placed our hopes and dreams in God’s hands without attempting to imagine how those desires should come to be? It is not an easy or simple task but I believe that by putting the longings of our hearts into God’s hands without expectations, we exercise our faith in God and that faith forges the path for God to enter our lives in spectacular and unexpected ways.

Dear God,

Thank you for hearing and caring about the desires of my heart. Help me to let go of how I think my dreams should become reality. Please show me the path to follow and give me strength to bear the pain of the journey. Also dear Lord, please give me the clarity to recognize hopes and dreams realized even when they appear in unexpected ways. Thanks again – for everything!

Love, Jean

Jeremiah 32:27  “Behold, I am the LORD; the God of all flesh. Is anything too difficult for me?”

Better than Minnesota Summer?

Today’s reflection is written by Easter member Jamie Larson:

Summer flowers--Julie McCartySummer in Minnesota–the time to get out and explore the best of our great state! While out on a drive, I saw an open house sign welcoming visitors and produce market advertisements displaying choice food selections. State and county fairs likewise are promoting noteworthy grandstand acts. The radio names a recently chosen Olympic city where the best in their sports will meet in the future. I am alerted to the expanse of the sky by a low-flying plane overhead, forcing my gaze to the sunshiny blue sky. What a wonderfully beautiful day!

As great as it all is, it is hard to imagine it could be any better. Not to be unappreciative of the bounty God has provided to us here on Earth, but the residence to come in the next life transcends even the most picturesque island and most lavish hotel.

Yet, that has been laid out for us and our future. I think it is most eloquently stated in a favorite youth group song entitled “Big House” by Audio Adrenaline. For those unfamiliar, the song describes how wonderful Heaven will be and how it will not only meet but exceed every need we may have:

I don’t know where you lay your head / or where you call your home
I don’t know where you eat your meals / or where you talk on the phone
I don’t know if you got a cook / a butler or a maid
I don’t know if you got a yard / with a hammock in the shade

I don’t know if you got some shelter / say a place to hide
I don’t know if you live with friends /  in whom you can confide
I don’t know if you got a family / say a mom or dad
I don’t know if you feel love at all / but I bet you wish you had!

Come and go with me to my Father’s house …
Come and go with me to my Father’s house …

It’s a big, big house / with lots and lots a room
A big, big table / with lots and lots of food
A big, big yard / where we can play football
A big, big house / It’s my Father’s house

All I know is a big ole house / with rooms for everyone
All I know is lots a land / where we can play and run
All I know is you need love / and I’ve got a family
All I know is you’re all alone….so why not come with me?

Hear the song on YouTube:

 

YouTube link:  youtube.com/watch?v=M4WwQxmtb-s

I am proud to be part of Easter, where we are taking the impetus to invite others to “come along” and to be included. We are doing this with outdoor services, school partnerships, open community meals and outreach to Feed My Starving Children. We are a church organization, originally, but also really truly an integral partner with the community far beyond the expanses of our buildings–reminiscent of the song “We are The Church…”

The church is not a building, where people go to pray,
It’s not made out of sticks and stones, it’s not made out of clay…
The church it is people, living out their lives,
Called, enlightened, sanctified for the work of Jesus Christ
.

That’s US!   🙂

And I think God is excited and guiding us. Just as He knows each of us and our days and our directions better than our own, Easter too as a mission for his Word is being guided in its calling, empowered in its direction, and blessed to be a blessing to those around. Thanks be to God indeed.

Easter member Jamie Larson lives in Eagan and has a special love of dogs, eagles, and spending time with her family.

 

Held in Tight

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV

kalnik 044When my husband and I were first married he drove a small transportation bus. He really liked his job. He came home with all sorts of stories-most of which involved how tenacious people are. He brought people to work each day-people who could have easily decided that things were just too hard. He enjoyed his riders company.

My favorite story, once while parked and waiting for his next scheduled pick-up a group of clowns got on his bus. Yes—clowns, red rubber noses, floppy shoes, full clown make-up in either sad or happy faces, all of it. This group of developmentally delayed young adults were not on his schedule. While doing his best to explain that he wasn’t the driver they had been waiting for, and that he was sure another was on the way, one tearful young lady refused to get off. That’s all it took. Moments later he had a clown revolt on his hands. He had to call dispatch and explain that he had clowns on his bus, some angry, some sad, some who were painted happy but had now become sad, and nobody was getting off, and what was he supposed to do now? Not my point at all-but how do I keep the clown revolt story to myself?

Some things stay with me, with more profound reason.

He had just as many riders whose challenges were not developmental, but physical. He came home one evening haunted by an exchange he had earlier in the day. After strapping a quadriplegic man’s chair into the bus’s harness system, the man asked him if he had pulled the straps as tight as possible. He asked if he wouldn’t mind doing it once more, pulling each strap as tight as he could. The man looked at him apologetically, explaining that he had been thrown from a vehicle the day he became paralyzed. No ride had ever been the same since and now he needed to know that he was held in tight.

Sometimes we need to know.

My 13 year old daughter spent much of the past school year with her cell phone almost always in hand (sometimes I wish I could chuck that thing-or give it to a group of clowns). Somehow she even worked texting her friends into her already time pressed pre-school morning routine. One morning late Spring she received a text like none she had ever received before. It wasn’t about who was crushing on who, or what she should wear that day. This one was different. One of her friends had tragically woke to find her Mom lying on the floor. Just like that. She hadn’t been ill, she hadn’t hurt herself, she was just gone.

DSCN2610I drove home from work that evening anxious to see my girl and hold her tight. As I drove I thought about how things had shifted for my daughter a bit that day. She’s my oldest child, and here was a moment I couldn’t shield her from. This heartbreak was inside of her circle-not mine. I guess things had shifted for me a bit too.

I walked into the kitchen and put my arms around my girl, tight. With each moment my embrace intensified. I needed her to know she was held in tight. Sometimes we need to know. I closed my eyes and thought about the wheelchair bound man from so many years before.

We chatted about her day. We talked about how fragile life can be. We talked about how her friend’s life would never be quite the same again. We talked about the ways in which she could be a good friend. We talked about prayer.

This will likely stay with me too.

Let us hold onto one another ~ “Father please shower us with the capacity to hold on to one another in all that we face, knowing that the troubles of this world are indeed temporary, knowing You have overcome the world. In this give us peace. Amen.”


Mindy Lynn Hilo and her family have been members at Easter for ten years. She is a conformation mentor and a regular contributor to Easter Prays. “Held in Tight” was adapted from a post on her personal blog, embracingcharlie.com. Mindy’s book Embracing Charlie was honored with a Finalist Title in the Christian Inspirational Category of the 2014 USA Best Book Awards.