Resurrection and Life

click here In John 11, we read about the death of Jesus’ good friend, Lazarus.  By the time Jesus gets to Lazarus’ hometown, the man has been in the grave for 4 days.  Grief is the reality experienced by the family and friends.  

miglior sito per comprare viagra generico 25 mg spedizione veloce a Torino Jesus arrives at the tomb and speaks the unexpected command: “Remove the stone.”  Martha reminds Jesus that Lazarus has been dead for four days so there will be a stench.  Jesus is undaunted by her words or that reality.  After praying to his Father, he shouts these powerful words:  “Lazarus, come out!’  

follow site Lazarus walks out of the tomb, wrapped in his grave clothes.  The man who had been in the grave for 4 days has been set free.  In fact, Jesus commands the people watching to unbind Lazarus from those grave clothes. Prior to working this miracle, Jesus told Martha that Lazarus would be raised from the grave.  Martha believed Lazarus would be raised at the end of time.  Jesus explains that he is the Resurrection and the Life and that Martha did not have to wait until the end of time.  

enter site This is where this story applies powerfully to us.  We may hope that Jesus can resurrect all things at the end of time, but are we missing what He wants to do in us today?  Just as Jesus was not afraid of the stench of death, He is not afraid of the mess He finds in our lives.  Where we see death and defeat, Jesus sees the opportunity to work a miracle.  Calling a dead man out of the grave exemplifies the truth that there is nothing too difficult for God. 

siti sicuri per comprare viagra generico 50 mg pagamento online a Parma The question is will we come out of our graves?  As Beth Moore describes in her book GET OUT OF YOUR PIT, we often choose to stay in our grave, wrapped in our grave clothes.  Though our graves are miserable, they are also comfortable.  We know them, feel in control of them, have a sense of safety there.   

follow site Walking out of our graves is risky.  There is so much unknown out there.  Light shines brighter than darkness.  Light brings vulnerability.  Light also brings life.  And we were made for life, abundant life (John 10:10). Can we hear Jesus’s words to us today — “Brooke, come out”?  Will we come?  Will we allow Jesus to carefully unwrap us of those grave clothes that hold us?  Can we lay those things at His feet?  Scary?  Oh yes but also liberating, exciting, and life giving. Jesus speaks these words to us today:  “You don’t have to wait for the End.  I am, right now, Resurrection and Life.  The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live” (John 11:25-26, The Message).

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Walking Through the Door of Pain with Faith

fertility drugs clomid side effects Suffering, pain, disappointment, hurt, loss. These words describe life in a fallen world. What do we do with these feelings? Run, stuff, escape or enter into the painful process of feeling, working and healing.

We all have the hard stuff, and we all have a choice of what to do with it. Personally, the year has been filled with loss, disappointments, and challenges. Since being back from Florida, we have gone 14 days without air conditioning and now 15 days without electricity in part of the house.

Life doesn’t always go the way that I want it to go. I can choose faith or I can choose fear. Today, I want to choose faith. Here are words from Warren Wiersbe: “When you and I hurt deeply, what we really need is not an explanation from God but a revelation of God. We need to see how great God is; we need to recover our lost perspective on life. Things get out of proportion when we are suffering, and it takes a vision of something bigger than ourselves to get life’s dimensions adjusted again.” My challenges are definitely out of perspective (though hard).

Faith, hope, joy, fulfillment, laughter, connection. These words also describe life in a fallen world. These experiences often result from walking through the challenges with faith. Often, the greatest blessings are through the door of pain.

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Hard Things

I am a runner!  I don’t like hard things and can so quickly look for any escape to the pain of life.  Each and every coping mechanism you read about, I have tried it.  For so many years, I lived as a prisoner to pain.  It was all there trapped inside my mind, soul and body.  My goal was to keep the pain tucked away in its proper place so that I could keep pushing on with life.  Pain is terribly inconvenient!  Much to my relief, dealing with the pain and the healing that comes is liberating:  “And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

At the beginning of the month, I read Mary Beth Chapman’s book CHOOSING TO SEE, a book that I highly recommend. After the death of their daughter, there was no way for the Chapman family to escape pain.  Throughout the book, Mary Beth said:  “The Chapmans do hard things.”  They pulled together to work through their heartache and loss.

Unfortunately, the Lord has given me the opportunity to push through pain, not denying it or running from it but through feeling it, grieving it, pushing into Him and to my family.  It started with our family’s move to Houston and has continued throughout the year with 3 physical deaths and then the death of many dreams and expectations.  Just Sunday, I got to spend two days with Frontier airlines as they sought to move me from St. Louis to Orlando.  Instead of getting us there in the expected two and a half hours, I got to spend a sleepless night in the Atlanta airport and arrived in Orlando 22 hours later than I had expected.  I kept speaking Mary Beth’s words but applying them to me:  “Brooke does hard things.”

What I heard from top leaders at the Optavia convention is that obstacles are often the way.  Obstacles require us to develop vision, perseverance, patience and grace.  We certainly don’t overcome obstacles by ducking our heads and pretending they aren’t there.  This season of my life has been grueling.  It feels as if I could be completely undone as I continue to face the challenges, pains and disappointments of this life.  However, by God’s grace and power, I will keep pushing into the hard things; I will keep overcoming the obstacles; and I will run this race set before me repeating the words:  “Brooke does hard things.”

What hard things do you need to do today?  Are you able to say that the obstacle is the way?

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).

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Choose Life

This week in Holy Yoga classes, we are exploring Moses’ words from Deuteronomy 30.  For years, this has been one of my favorite passages in Scripture not because it is a feel good passage but because it is a soul-convicting passage.  Moses is nearing the end of his life.  He has reluctantly led the Israelites out of their Egyptian slavery; he has been like a father to them through all the trials and tribulations of 40 years in the wilderness.   In Deuteronomy 30, Moses writes boldly, passionately and prophetically.  His words call the Israelites to remember all that God has done, to remember His covenant, to remember His laws and the consequences of breaking the law:

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.  If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it” (Deut 30:15-16).  

Seems pretty clear, doesn’t it?  Obey God’s rules and be blessed in the promised land.  Nevertheless, we know the plight of the Israelites, the plight of us still today.  They forgot; they broke the covenant and worshipped other gods; they forsook the Lord and His commands and sought to do life their way.  It didn’t work well.  They did enter the promised land thanks to the courageous leadership of men like Joshua and Caleb, but they did not remain in God’s blessings due to their sin and rebellion.  

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there.  Just as God rescued His people out of slavery in Egypt, He will rescue them once again.  They are rescued by the merciful and mighty hand of God, but they still have the responsibility to make choices for life, abundant life in Him.  This responsibility is what I bear today; it is what makes this passage soul convicting.  Am I choosing to do life God’s way, trusting in His promised blessings or do I do things Brooke’s way?  What about you?  Today, will we choose “life and good”?

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Raining on the Inside

A conversation with a friend last night prompted to me to go back and listen to Amy Grant music (yes, I am old). Amy Grant’s music meant so much to me in my early years as a christian. Right now the song “Raining on the Inside” is playing. The words are powerful and remind me of a truth I have shared in some small group meetings this week.
We so often compare our insides with other people’s outsides. They look like they have it all together. However, we don’t see what is going on underneath the surface. There is often much hidden pain, fear, and insecurity.
With the recent public suicides, I am reminded of how fragile we humans truly are. I think God’s call for us is authenticity, allowing people to see that rain on the inside of us. Authenticity allows true community; it also allows for healing.
Change begins with one person being brave, allowing her insides to show and creating space for others to do the same.
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Breath of Life

Tonight I sat with my 91 year old neighbor while she breathed her last breaths. I got to talk to her of God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness. A couple of days ago, I saw a vision of my sweet neighbor, whom I affectionately called my 4th child, dancing with Jesus — what a precious thing to share with her. It was the most glorious dance. She was beautiful; Jesus was dazzling; the ballroom was breathtaking. She was fully healed and whole in His presence.
Each and every day, we are invited into this dance with Jesus. It doesn’t have to be at our last breath. Having lost two people whom I dearly love in the past couple of weeks, I am reminded of how precious life is. We have to choose life each and every day. We have to choose to love even when it hurts; we have to choose to forgive even when it costs us something; we have to choose to pursue the dreams God has put on our hearts.
The temptation is to play it safe, but there is no abundant life in safe. Each of us will breath our last breath. What will we do between now and then?
“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4).
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Honor Your Body But Don’t Worship It

“Don’t worship food. Honor the body that God gave you by eating sensible portions of sensible food” (Food, Fitness and Faith).
Today, it seems we gravitate between two extremes — obsession with the body and the appearance of the body and a sense of detachment from the body, even to the point of neglect. God calls us to care for our bodies. That care is not idolatry nor is it denial.
Our bodies do not define us. God defines us. We are worthy and lovely just as we are because we are made in His image. I wonder if we were able to rest in God’s perfect love and acceptance of us if we might be motivated to make life giving changes. Little changes add up quickly, changes such as drinking enough water; eating more vegetables and fruits; and incorporating exercise.
Nothing is worthy of worship but God. What does it look like for your to worship Him alone then ask Him to guide you in caring for your body?
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The God Who Sees

Moving from Lake Mary to Houston was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I experienced the  intense grief of leaving all that I knew and loved — family, close friendships, church, school, and a wonderful community.  As you can imagine, Houston, TX is quite different than Lake Mary, FL.  When they say everything is big in Texas, they are not kidding!  This little Florida girl was a bit overwhelmed to say the least.

That hardest transition for me in the move was going from a place where I was known and loved to a place where I was not known and not yet loved. I never saw a familiar face. Everything and everyone was new and unknown.  I felt unseen and very lonely.  After  being in a tight knit community for 16 years, this was quite a humbling experience for me.

This morning, my Scripture reading took me to Genesis 16. What a story! Actually, it reads more like a soap opera. Abram and Sarai are waiting and waiting and waiting on God for their promised child. In that waiting, Sarai grows impatient and comes up with a plan to help God — never a good thing by the way!

Sarai tells Abram to go to her servant Hagar so that they may conceive a child through her. Unlike Sarai, Hagar does conceive which sends Sarai into an outrage. It is hard to see others get what we so desperately long for.  Poor Abram! He had an outraged wife and a pregnant servant.  In his desperate attempt to bring some peace to the situation, Abram tells Sarai to do as she pleases with Hagar (a subject for another day).  Sarai mistreats Hagar resulting in Hagar’s desperate attempt to escape her mistress.

In the midst of Hagar’s escape, she has a divine encounter. An angel of the Lord meets her by a spring of water and asks Hagar where she has come from and where she is going. The angel instructs Hagar to return to Sarai then speaks God’s blessings over her: “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude” (16:10).

To say the least, Hagar was amazed at this encounter! I treasure Hagar’s exclamation after hearing this news: “So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing’, for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me’” (Gen. 16:13).

“The God of seeing” — God saw Hagar. Not only did He see her, but He went after her. He had a good plan for Hagar and for the child that she carried as well as the many offspring to come. How good to be seen and known!

Leaving Genesis and going back to Houston. God saw me too. He walked with me and taught me so much during my time of loneliness and feeling unknown and  unseen. I learned that God is enough for me.  God took me a little deeper into some old wounds and applied his healing grace.  Then, he blessed me with  many wonderful new friends. These days, more often than not, I recognize some faces in Houston. I am no longer the unknown here. In the great scheme of things, I never was the unknown. Not to Him.

I wonder, do you ever feel unseen—unseen by your spouse, your children, the people at work or at church? It is a painful place to be. Acknowledge that pain then take it to the Lord. Our God is a God of seeing. He sees you; He knows you; and He has an abundant plan for your life!

“O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways” (Psalm 139:1-3).

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The Joy Set Before Him

Bear with me as I may sound a bit crazy here, but I want to write honestly. I love yoga, and I hate yoga. Sounds crazy, right? Here is what I love about yoga: yoga clothes, the idea of going, seeing friends and teachers, child’s pose, happy baby, handstands and headstands, and most of all Shavasana. Here is what I hate about yoga — everything in the middle of those things. Class starts with joy, peace and expectation. Then it gets really, really hard. I get so hot that sweat is dripping all around me. There is the discomfort of the poses and the questions of how long do I have to hold this pose and how much longer is left in this class?

What I appreciate about yoga is that your practice in class is designed to empower you not only on your mat but off your mat. As I have written previously, yoga has taught me to breathe through the pain in my life and know that the pain will not kill me. It is okay to feel pain. It is a normal part of life. My hope and expectation is that the pain in yoga is not killing me but strengthening me. My hope and expectation is that God uses the pain in my life to strengthen me, to make me more like Jesus, to grow my compassion, my dependence on him and my love for him.

As we are celebrating Easter today, I think about Jesus and his past few days. He was handed over by a friend and sold for a small amount of money. He was disappointed by his closest friends who just couldn’t watch and pray as he asked. He was convicted for crimes he did not commit. He was abandoned, betrayed, spit upon, harassed, abused and physically taken to the very limit.

Jesus hung on a cross to die the most painful and shameful death. He had the ability to end it all. He could have refused to go to the cross. Why did he choose the pain? Hebrews 12:2 answers that question: “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” The joy that was set before him. That joy is you. It is me.

I love yoga. I hate yoga. I choose to practice regularly because of the hope that yoga is changing me in body, mind and spirit. I experience the Lord on my mat in such powerful ways. He is with me in the pain and so often reveals himself to me through amazing visions in Shavasana. I push through to the end of class because I know I can get to that resting place; it is my hope.

You are Christ’s hope. You are the reason he endured the pain of the cross. Today, can we look at the cross and fully acknowledge the pain that Christ endured then look to his resurrection and see why he endured? Jesus lived, died and rose again for the hope that we, too, would live and die in a restored relationship with the Father? Like Jesus, we are called to persevere through this life (and yoga class) with our eyes set on Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith”.

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Who Can Survive Adolescence?

Adolescence is just hard! It is hard for the kids as they go through it, for those with whom they interact and especially for their parents. Working in administration at a school for two years opened my eyes to just how challenging this time is for everyone. Even in the best school setting, we encountered bullying, hurtful words, children left out, social media issues, and lots and lots of hurt feelings.

This week, I got to be fully engaged in this struggle. My adolescent boy hurt his friend on Friday. Sadly, he hurt a very good friend. The friend felt betrayed, rejected, left out and disliked. Ouch! Even as an adult woman, those feelings are devastating to me. My boy was disappointed in himself and deeply regretted the pain he caused. Still, the damage was done. The best apologies can lead to reconciliation, but they don’t wipe out the pain. Nothing does that but time and the healing time can bring.

The beauty of the pain is that I have had some incredible heartfelt conversations with my son and with his friend’s parents. Acknowledging pain, feeling pain and working through pain can be oh so hard, but it is well worth it! Doing that hard work allows us to live authentically in relationships with others and with ourselves. True reconciliation cannot happen without the pain.

The timing of this situation is ideal. Yesterday was Good Friday. Jesus, the perfect Son of God, died the most painful and humiliating death so that we can live forgiven. Jesus died because he knew, despite our best intentions, you and I could never live a sinless life.

This morning, as I meditated on the cross and Jesus’ sacrifice there, I envisioned myself standing under the cross. I saw the blood of Jesus, the tears and the sweat. I saw Jesus look down at me, and I knew his sacrifice was for me, for my son, for all of us.  Jesus death allows for reconciliation with our heavenly Father and with each other.

Adolescence is just hard, but thank God for the cross and for the forgiveness that happens there. My son and I will make it. My son’s friend and his family will make it; in fact, the boys are out playing airsoft as I type. You will make it.  IF, we are willing to acknowledge the pain, feel the pain and work through the pain with our eyes on the cross.

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