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SMC Women's Ministry

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Posts tagged Cross
Before The Cross

One of my favorite parables has long been The Parable of the Lost Sheep. Sheep have an instinctive tendency to wander. I can personally relate… barely hanging on for dear life on the edge of a rugged cliff. During Holy Week, I am especially reminded how Jesus is on a search-and-rescue mission.

Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:3-7

First, the parable strikes at the heart of our value system and confronts us with the magnitude of God’s infinite mercy, forgiveness and love. It’s a simple point. Yet, looking closer, the parable hits home in unexpected ways. Specifically, what does this parable say about the nature of God; what does it say about us; and what does it say about our relationship to each other?

With God nothing is lost. That’s the first point, and the second is this: With God, we live in community with each other, so to talk about being lost is really to talk about being separated from each other. This is the community of the church. In other words, the sheep was lost because it was part of the flock to begin with. So often we give up too easily. When others fall through the cracks, we’re quick to write them off. Not in the kingdom of God. Isn’t this so encouraging? One is worth more than ninety-nine!

The lost sheep is loved because of the incredible grace of God that comes down to call each of us sons and daughters. None of us deserve it. We simply have it. We are valuable to Him and He will seek far and wide to bring us back home to him. When the one who was lost returns, the Good Shepherd receives him back with joy, and he does not rejoice alone!

Our heavenly Father loves you the same way. He wants you, no matter what you do or how you fall. This is the love He spoke over us when He sent His Son. Holy Week is a reminder where sacrifice, mercy and grace are poured out on the cross. Because of this love, we have become children of God. He asks you to give love as freely as you have received it… not just to those who deserve it but to everyone He puts in front of you.

Because of the Cross, I am being transformed from the inside out. I chose to be at peace, no matter what is going on. I know that my greatest challenge will strengthen me. I know how to stand up to the dark forces. I know I cannot take the easy way out. I must not allow grief to take over my life. My heart always knows what I need to know. Every concern I have is a concern of God’s. I am learning to swim through painful experiences.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:1-4

There is a place called home where we are always welcome. I was once lost, now I am found. Thank you, Jesus.

In Faith, Lynne Parr

Forgiveness Is A Gift To Your Heart

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing...” (Luke 23:34)

After our Lent and Easter blog series, I feel it’s appropriate to write about forgiveness. While Jesus suffered immensely on the cross, He asked God to forgive the ones who crucified Him. It was a very powerful request to our Heavenly Father, who does not forget the sinner, but He forgets the sin. We have such an amazing God!

Forgiveness is something we are reluctant to mention, offer it, or accept it. It’s complicated. It’s painful. We need to bring healing to a hopeless and wounded heart, which starts with forgiving someone or accepting someone’s forgiveness. By not forgiving someone, regardless of how recent or long ago, it will slowly steal your soul and chip away at the very core of a person. It is cruel making us feel as if our hearts are under the greatest of attacks.

Something unspeakable happened to me a couple of decades ago from a random act of violence, which I carried hatred, victimization, and a heavy burden in my heart for so many years. It took away my soul. One moment I was fine; the other moment, my life was in someone else’s hands. I consistently reminded myself of the defining moment I faced death. Instead of trying to focus on healing, I spent so much energy remembering the attack with such revenge, hatred and insecurity. I was filled with rage and hostility. Holding all of this pain, fear, and insecurity came very, very close in taking my own life. My life turned into a sea of fear that threatened to drown me…I felt crippled.

"Never be bitter, angry, or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil. Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other the same as God forgave you through Christ." (Ephesians 4:21-32)

Fast forwarding to the present, I recognized the desperate need to forgive. While becoming a Jesus follower over a decade ago, I was able to immediately distinguish the significance of forgiveness and needed to act on it! It brings peace. Your heart and soul become one. It definitely reminded me how Jesus forgave me of my sins…and still does! Sixteen years after the crime, I found it in my heart to forgive the man who stole my freedom, peace and security. Almost immediately, the emotional pain was gently and peacefully removed. Gone in an instant by just one simple act of forgiveness. That’s when my healing began. No amount of professional counseling sessions and anti-anxiety drugs could ever provide me with such overwhelming gratitude, hope and peace. It was from God.

Here are a few one-liners on forgiveness I’d like to share:

An apology is a good way to have the last word.

The only petition in the Lord’s Prayer that has a condition attached is the one on forgiveness.

It is far better to forgive and forget than resent and remember.

Love is asking to forgive what courtesy would have avoided.

Never has the human soul become so strong when it dares to forgive an injury.

Quarrels would not last long if there were not faults on both sides.

God forgives our sins, buries them in the sea of forgetfulness and puts up a sign: “No Fishing.”

Any area of our lives that lacks forgiveness lacks the breath of God. The Lord is the Creator of all pure hope, and He desires His children to live a life full of hope and joy. We can’t change what a person has said and done to hurt us, but we can learn to forgive them to set our hearts free. The adversary knows that if he can steal hope from God’s children, he can cripple the plans and purposes God has for our lives. Eventually we completely deviate from our God-given purpose and are left with a life void of hope.

"But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too." Mark 11:25

Forgiveness is the best form of love as it takes a strong person to say sorry and an even stronger person to forgive. Are you willing to free your wounded heart and accept someone’s forgiveness or extend forgiveness? The things in life you can’t forget are the ones you hadn’t planned for.

With Faith, Lynne

A Person Of The Cross

On the Wednesday before the Thursday where the bread was broken and the wine sipped, before the Friday when the world collapsed, before the Saturday when the world stayed still, before the Sunday when the world broke through, on that Wednesday, we do not have a record of what Jesus and his disciples did.

I have a feeling that Jesus was regrouping and gathering strength to complete this long arduous journey that had begun with a conversation between a young girl and an angel messenger in the hills outside of Bethlehem.

Wednesday, the day that Jesus may have been resting, praying, gathering himself in preparation of what he knew would take place.

And that is where I find myself in the year 2017. The Wednesday before Easter.

The journey began 6 weeks ago when many had a sooty cross of ashes drawn on their foreheads to remind them of their sinfulness and mortality and their need to repent.

This year I was in need to be reminded, daily, hourly, of my need for Christ in my life, so I added something.

When I saw the crosses drawn on Ash Wednesday, I saw it as a way of proclaiming themselves to be “people of the cross”. They were branding themselves, if only until they washed their face, that they belonged to Jesus.

I inked a cross on the inside of my arm. It isn’t permanent. I have to reapply the ink every few days as it is washed off, and every time I am brought back to my initial thought, “I am a person of the cross”.

I told no one and on one asked me about it.

Lent has been described as a journey to Jerusalem.

As I continue to walk that journey through the 40 days I find myself forgetting still, forgetting the degree of the sacrifice Christ made in the days preceding his crucifixion.

Forgetting that every day of this last week He was leading his disciples, as well as us, His followers, toward the cross.

Jesus was deliberately guiding the 12, and us, to understand the “why” of his last days.

I do not believe they understood, or if they caught a glimpse of where the journey would end, they could not believe that He would submit.

And I discovered that I am truly crucified with Christ, daily crucified.

And as I forget His crucifixion I also forget that I have been raised to resurrection life!

Resurrection life is what should be at the center of my life, but my human frailty keeps me living in the world.

2 Cor 4:8-10 speaks of crumbling when the walls of my little life come tumbling in, hard pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted, struck down BUT NOT in despair, not abandoned, not destroyed.

The words remind me that I always carry in my body the death of Christ, and in doing so, the life of Christ will be revealed.

I thought that observing Lent meant to give up something in order to create space for Jesus in my ordinary days, but this year I added something, a visual symbol of the death and the resurrection of Christ.

Gal 2:20 says to help me to remember that if I am truly crucified with Christ, I am also raised to resurrection life!

Help me Lord, to never forget that the purpose of crucified life is to walk in the power of Your resurrection with your life revealed in mine.

Amen and amen and amen.