Heart Renovations {Good Friday Reflections}

our kitchen in progress

We’re in the middle of a major renovating project in the new house we’re set to move into at the end of the month. With the help of very generous friends in our church, my parents, and my husband and his friends, the ugly 60s style carpet in our living and dining room has been ripped out. The kitchen tile has been smashed out and new hardwood floors will be installed soon.

As you can imagine, the downstairs is a wreck. And on this Good Friday while I have just a few minutes to reflect on it, I can’t help but take a look inside the condition of my soul, apart from Jesus.

Apart from Jesus, it’s an absolute disaster. There is nothing good that exists (I wish there was).

I’m a sinful being and my sin is so disgusting and offensive that a price had to be paid to cover it.

Jesus’ death on the cross paid the massive debt I owed. A debt which I could never actually pay on my own accord. On the cross, Jesus said “It is finished.” Wholly. Completely. Not in part- but in full. Because of the pain, suffering, and anguish he endured and the spilling of his blood, I’ve been set free from the chains of sin. And no one else could do it, but Jesus.

Because of his death, grace washes over all our sin. Amazing grace for you and for me. A most precious gift.

But the cross can’t be left by itself, displayed on a church building, or worn around our neck as pretty jewelry. The cross, which showed his great love for us, demands an answer from us. A choice that we must make. Will we accept Jesus’ gift of grace and surrender our lives to Him? Will we turn from our sin and cling to Him? Will we allow him to renovate the ugliest, shameful parts of our heart so we can be restored again?

He is more than willing if we let Him.

The beauty of the cross and his grace is that He removes the junk and debris. He changes us and makes us new. It is all an act of His grace- a profound mystery.

Today, let’s not forget just how awful our sin is and how disgraceful Jesus’ death on the cross was. But let us also not forget…

Sunday’s coming.

Check out this video.

Made to Make a Difference with Max Lucado

For the past few months, our creative team at Bluefish TV has been in the process of creating three video-driven youth Bible studies with Francis Chan, Max Lucado, and Doug Fields. In early August, the studies released and it’s been so neat to see the final outcome. I had a blast writing copy, editing, finding real-life stories, and networking with some really great people on this project.

Made to Make a Difference was the Bible study we worked on with Max Lucado and his daughter Jenna. This study in particular is so unique as it challenges students to get beyond themselves and to step out and make a difference in the lives of others.

Here is a 2 minute glimpse into the study. I get chills every time I watch it. I hope you’ll pass the info along to anyone you know involved in the lives of youth.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSvCA_wXTU8&feature=player_embedded]

Newest Bible Studies: Prodigal Perspectives, Keep Climbing, & Why Jesus?

One thing I love about being a writer for our Bluefish TV Bible studies is the faith journey I get to take in the process of writing. It’s often that I’m experiencing something on the topic I have to write about (crazy how that works out).

Prodigal Perspectives with Chris Seay is a study that blew me away in the process of writing. I had never truly studied the Parable of the Prodigal Son within its proper context and culture. I was amazed at how in my life, I have been both the elder son and the younger son and that I’m in desperate need of the Father and his grace. The dramatic monologues performed by actor Jason Hildebrand are so powerful. This study is my favorite this year. You’ll have to take a look at the trailer to see what I mean (click on the purple title).

Keep Climbing with Todd Phillips. In the time-frame I had to write the leader’s guide, I was going through a few mountains of my own in life: my Dad’s surgery on his brain tumor and the difficulties of being sleep deprived with a newborn baby while being heavily involved in full-time ministry, work, and my husband’s schooling. It was neat to see how God helped use what I was going through to write the study. I’m not so sure I could have written it the same without going through those trials.

Why Jesus? with David Nasser is a study that David himself wrote and that myself and our publisher Jackie edited. It was filmed on the streets of Israel and answers the tough questions people about Jesus and why they should follow him. I don’t really have words to describe this study because it’s just so amazing.

It’s rare that really any of our team knows the exact impact that our work has on people’s lives, but that’s probably a good thing. The impact is up to God. It’s his kingdom and his work. We just get to be a part of it. And that is what makes it all so awesome.

Why we need new Church plants in America

I found this video yesterday through my friend Jaime. She and her husband Mark are planting a new church in Arlington, VA. I found John Piper’s statements to be timely and right on the mark. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve ran into here in Dallas, Texas (aka “the Bible Belt”) who are un-churched, de-churched, or have been burned by the church.

I think it’s time for many of us to pray about planting new churches. Jeremiah and I are in that process as we finish out his degree in the next two years and pray about starting a new church (somewhere in America!) along with a core group of like-minded people.

Do any thoughts come to your mind about the state of churches in America today?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lzXuMCeleA]

10 things the Cross has saved me from

… continues to save me from:

anger, control, pride, fear, condemnation, envy, shame, bitterness, anxiety, lust.

The weight of my sin on the cross was great, but not greater than the One who took it upon his shoulders:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFvMzDlsmig]

Video: UCLA Student Undercover at Planned Parenthood

As followers of Christ, we’ve been called to help protect those who have a voice, but who are rarely heard.

Those who are Vulnerable. Weak. And Innocent.

We live in a deceived culture that says “Save the trees (Go green), but kill the children.”

Yesterday while searching for youth stories for an upcoming project we’re doing at work with Max Lucado and Thomas Nelson, I stumbled upon UCLA student, Lila Rose, who is fighting for truth through creative media. And I am so inspired by her boldness.

Lila Rose and her pro-life student group, Live Action, have been hard at work the past three years uncovering the medical lies and manipulative counseling offered at Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion chain.

The video above is the first in Live Action’s “Rosa Acuna Project,” a multi-state undercover audit documenting Planned Parenthood’s abortion counseling. This video was filmed with Lila while she was undercover in the clinic for the purpose of asking a few questions.

Take the time to watch the video above (it may need some time to load), share it with others, and support Lila and her team with your prayers as they continue their new media movement for life.

* You can check out more undercover videos on the Live Action site, including her appearance on the O’Reilly Factor.

the day my true love died

1212536_open_bibleJeremiah’s been reading through the book of John for one of his seminary classes. Last night, he was thrilled to tell me all about what he was learning while I was cleaning up the kitchen. And I love that I get to be the one to glean from it. He then blurts out, “I’ve gotta watch the Passion.”

It’s a little late. It’s like 2 hrs. long and it’s not one of those movies you can just pop in and play. It takes mental and emotional preparation… is what I’m thinking. I thought about doing my own thing and not watching it with him, but I decided to get on the couch and join him.

It was my third time watching it (with the exception of a few scenes) and some thoughts came to my mind that have encouraged me today:

  • Jesus’ humanity– even though he was God, he came down to earth as a man and lived in our shoes. He experienced rejection, suffering, hunger, thirst, laughter, tears, and alienation from those closest to him. He understands the pain I experience today.
  • Jesus’ love– he didn’t have to go to the cross for us, but he chose to because it was his father’s will. It was the only way for man to be saved from the penalty of sin. His shed blood on the cross makes us free and alive today. The cross is the ultimate proof of his love for me today.
  • Jesus’ perfectionJesus came as a man but he was holy and perfect in every way. YET, He took on our sins for us so that we didn’t have to pay the debt. No matter where we’re at today, he invites us to come to him in all our sin, brokenness, junk, hurts, habits, the whole 9 yards. What Jesus did 2000 years ago, requires a response from me every day that I live.

After getting my pride behind me, I was really thankful to be reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice and I know it will probably be a while until I watch the Passion again.

And I can’t help but think of Phil Wickham’s song True Love:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gU-ejQxEXk&feature=player_embedded]

Video: Kids Marshmellow Test

My pastor did a series on temptation called The Way of Escape. For one of his messages, one of our video guys put together a creative little illustration on the topic. It’s gone viral and was shown on The Today Show last Saturday.

Some of our friends’ kids are in the video and they are just too cute. Enjoy![youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWW1vpz1ybo]

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