Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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It Would’ve Been Enough: Celebrating Easter Weekend

simeon-muller-3505For a number of years, a group of friends and I celebrated a Christian Sedar meal in honor of Passover. It was such a special time, and I think about it every Easter. There were many highlights in being a part of that local church and ministry, and this was certainly one of them. A friend in the group grew up in Israel, and therefore, had a lot of knowledge and practice in participating in a Sedar meal, so he shared that with us.

If you aren’t familiar, Sedar is a meal that marks the beginning of Passover. The feast, which lasts several hours, tells the story of the Israelites journey out of Egypt toward freedom. It’s filled with narration, participation, imagery, and a lot of symbolism because the elements of the meal represent various portions of the text. It’s typically a multi-generational meal, in order to relay the story to children in a meaningful way, and a wonderful opportunity to give their faith more context.

Christians, however, know that the story doesn’t end there. So the Messianic version continues through to the sacrifice of Jesus. You can read the script and learn more about it on this website.

Perhaps my favorite part of the ritual came with the “Signing Dayenu,” when you are asked to give thanks and celebrate the salvation Jesus provides. “Dayenu” means “it would’ve been enough for us.”

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The version we used was longer than this one, but essentially, it continued building on all the things that were done for us, and repeating how each would’ve been enough. And then you shout it out at the end.

Unfortunately, many of us, myself included, fall into the trap of always wanting more than we have. Sometimes we focus on what is lacking, rather than what has already been given. This refrain is one that reminds me of my abundance, and I truly want to remember that each of my blessings would’ve been enough. And yet, He continues to give.

It’s Good Friday. We’re finishing up Holy Week with the culmination of the death and resurrection of Jesus. If the story had stopped with Friday’s crucifixion, it would’ve been enough. But, we are eternally grateful that it did not. Jesus was raised, and our salvation was made complete. And that was certainly enough.

Yet each day begins again, and we receive more love, more grace, and more purpose. He continues to amaze us.

Enjoy this weekend. Remember its purpose. Celebrate.

And on those days when you get caught up in the notion that you need more _________, repeat to yourself, “It would’ve been enough.”

Happy Easter!


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Wondering in the Wilderness This Easter

454435323The past few months I’ve been reading my favorite part of the Bible, Exodus through Joshua. I am slightly obsessed with the Israelites’ journey out of Egypt, to their wandering in the wilderness and then long-awaited entrance into the Promised Land. It’s been quite a comfort to me over the years, as I draw so many parallels to my own life. I am following a reading plan, but I find myself skipping days just to intentionally draw out my time with these books. I sort of drink them in, dragging through the Introductions, skimming through all the footnotes, and re-reading certain sections. It may seem strange, as most Christians are drawn to the New Testament with Jesus’ teaching and Paul’s great work. Maybe I’m just old school. 😉

In fact, a couple of young Jehovah’s Witness boys knocked on my door last summer, and tried to talk to me about Jesus. I told them I was a Christian and followed Jesus. I’m sure people use all sort of methods to cut the conversation short, including that one. But they persisted a bit, asking me my favorite book of the Bible. I don’t know if they were testing my resolve or just curious, but when I told them Exodus, they didn’t really know what to do next. They stood there for a minute and then said goodbye. True story.

But it’s true. I think it probably is my favorite book. Moses is my hero. He’s flawed and he’s perfect. I began reading that portion of the Bible during one of the hardest periods of my life, and I kept thinking of how much I was like the Israelites, quick to complain and in need of guidance. I found myself on a similar journey of both wondering and wandering, and completely dependent on the Lord for guidance and provision.

“When Pharoah finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, ‘If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.” (Exodus 13: 17-18a NLT)

There are so many ways God shows His love for me daily. But it was a revelation when I read that passage and really let it sink in. At that point in my life, and every time I’ve read it since, I realized how frustrated I can get with my own wondering.

I wonder when my time will come.

I wonder when my circumstance will change.

I wonder what’s next.

I wonder why someone has it better than me.

I wonder when it’ll get easier.

I wonder. I wonder. I wonder.

And in the process, I wander.

It is a clear demonstration of God’s patience and unfailing love for Him to lead me the roundabout way. It takes time. It takes sacrifice. It takes forgiveness—lots of forgiveness. And, knowing myself, I probably wouldn’t handle the shortest route all that well. I need time to be molded and shaped, as much as I love to jump in with both feet. So, once again, I realize that His timing is perfect despite my ability to see it at work most of the time.

When I stop to reflect and see how much I’ve changed over the years, I still feel sometimes that I am in the infant stages of development. I still see how far I have to go. I think, “Yes, exactly, how can I be ready for that? I’m not yet who I need to be.” And realistically, I know that will always be the case. I hope I never stop growing and learning. But it’s those times that put the wondering in perspective.

“The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and He provided light at night with a pillar of fire.” (Exodus 13: 21)

Goodness knows I wish I had a pillar. And I’ll admit to praying for neon signs. I’m just afraid sometimes I might miss the whisper. But that’s because I can sometimes forget that I do indeed have a pillar: Jesus. He is my guidepost. He is my light in the darkness. He goes ahead of me. I may not be able to speak face-to-face with Him, as Moses did with God, but His Word clearly communicates His character. As I wander, I have the time to discern His will. And I feel His love, through His people and the Bible.

We all have at least one Egypt. I have a bunch of them myself. I have those places and things that I’ve allowed to enslave me, despite the fact that I am a captive who has been set free. Some of them are a daily battle, some were left on the battlefield a long time ago. Some are yet to come. But I am not alone. I am never alone. He has promised to take this journey with me.

This Easter, as many others do, I reflect on Jesus and what He’s done for me. Every day I have the opportunity to open up the gifts of grace, mercy, love and salvation. They are my manna. They are what God provides to sustain me in my wandering. But there are some days that I feel more like a kid hunting for Easter eggs, not sure where to look but overjoyed in the discovery. And honestly, I’m thankful for both. One is ever-present and one is a genuine delight. Luckily, Jesus is so much more than one thing.

Right now, I’m in Deuteronomy, Moses’ last hurrah. He’s speaking to a new generation of Israelites, because the older died in the desert. So, he has to remind them of where they came from, tell them about where they’re going, and explain to them their lasting covenant with God. It reminds me of Easter. This weekend, from Good Friday to Resurrection Sunday, communicates all three of those things. The person of Jesus, the Son of God, is the culmination of those things.

And despite who He is and what He’s already done, He’s still willing to lead me the roundabout way. I matter. Little ol’ me. He saved the world. He saved generations. And He saves me daily.

I need to remember that what Easter symbolizes can’t be confined to a day, or even a weekend. It’s a life-long journey. And it’s my privilege.

So, if you’re looking for me, I’m taking the long way around. I wonder where it’ll take me next.


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Resurrection

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I’ve been thinking about an Easter post all week. What would I say? What point would I make? How do I stress it enough? It’s sort of the Christian Super Bowl so I wanted to give it the weight it deserves.

Honestly, in the end, it just came down to the fact that anything I say would pale in comparison with the text in the Bible. Those of us that grew up in the church easily become dull to Scripture, sadly, because it’s nothing new and it can be repetitive week after week. Like everything else, we can desensitize ourselves to its glory. Living text can become black and white (and red) words on a page. And though those are certainly phases and spiritual plateaus we are sure to experience, I would urge you to see something new this week. I would encourage you to look at it with fresh eyes. I would challenge you to wait in anticipation of God to speak new truths into your life. It’s the Good News. And it’s ALWAYS going to be the Good News. Find something good to hold on to. Dig in until excitement takes hold. Remind yourself that though much emphasis is often given to the cross, and deservedly so, that’s not the end of the story. There was a third day. And the third day is miraculous. It was, and is, freedom. And freedom, friends, is good indeed.

Free someone else with the power of this Good News. None of us deserves it, but that is certainly the point.

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John 20:1-31 (NLT version)

THE RESURRECTION

“Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. 10 Then they went home.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.

“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

16 “Mary!” Jesus said.

She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

17 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus Appears to Thomas

24 One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. 25 They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

Purpose of the Book

30 The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.”