Saturday, March 27, 2010

Redeemed (Part 4): Consummation

Part 1

So what about you? What's your redemption story? We each have one. Mine is up there at the top of the page, "God's Kindness: My Story". It's a work in progress. I'M a work in progress.

What part of your story are you in? Have you recognized the fact that your Creator delighted himself with making you?

Have you sensed your fallenness, your desire to live life your own way and be independent of God and His ways? Have you been broken?

Have you recognized your Redeemer's arrival on the scene yet? Known that he has been pursuing you with each step you have taken away from him? Not the stalking type of pursuit that frightens you and makes you want to run faster, but the gentle wooing that for a time even annoys you because he is irresistible--but you must try to resist a little longer?

Have you let him rescue you, and watched with amazement as he redeems you--showing you just how strong he can be in your weakness? Showing you your precious worth to him? Using you in ways you never dreamed possible?

Are you filled with anticipation, awaiting the fulfillment of the relationship that Christ bought back for you? The face to face encounter with the living God? Do you live with hope and joy as you wait, because you know the one who calls you is faithful?

This Easter, I pray that you know you are rescued, that you are living in the joy of a redeemed life. If not, I pray that you will turn back to the one who has given everything for you, and allow him to draw you near. May it be a celebration of knowing, your Redeemer lives. A celebration of the truth that His story is your story.

Christ is risen indeed!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Intermission Time

There's one more post coming to wrap up my series on redemption. But first, I need to write about a surprising turn of events here. I've had an unusual number of visitors to my blog lately, and it turns out that most of them have been sent here by Google when they searched for Benjamin's Box. (Welcome to The Journey if you're one of them!) I described the book experience in this post last year.

It's the Easter story, the ultimate story of redemption. It's a book, an activity and a family tradition all rolled into one. I love it. BUT...when we first started talking about Easter this year (at the beginning of Lent), Bethany almost immediately asked if we could NOT do Benjamin's Box this year. Yes, she did. Why? She doesn't like the thorns. See that teeny, tiny little twig there? It has thorns to remind us of the crown the crowd put on Jesus's head. The whole thing really bothers her. Enough that she would rather do without the fun egg hunt and everything. It's gotten me wondering if I need to take my own disclaimer closer to heart.

In my post last year I wrote about the fact that the crucifixion is no G-rated event. What can a young child really conclude about the events of the crucifixion? Anything beyond how terrible it was that the "bad guys" were so mean to Jesus? Is there any point in even talking about it before she is old enough to begin to understand that Jesus went willingly to the cross to take the punishment for our--MY--sin? And how old is that?

I don't have answers to those questions, but I have a daughter who is perhaps more closed to the discussion of the events of Easter than open, all because of some thorns. She loves Jesus. She's just not quite ready to know the nitty gritty of all he's done for her. I'm pretty sure he loves her enough to be OK with that. She has plenty of time to grow into those truths.

Holy week is upon us. May the Lord lavish his grace and mercy on you and your family as you walk with him to the cross. And may you know just how far is far enough to follow this year. One thing is certain, He'll meet you on the other side come Sunday.

Note...the rest of the story:  After I wrote this, Ben and Bethany wanted to have an Easter party for their friends.  About a dozen kids came over for an egg hunt, and in the end, both kids agreed it would be fun to share the Benjamin's Box experience with them.  Everyone including Bethany seemed to enjoy it.  One dad who stayed was amazed by how quiet and attentive the kids were. 

I've had some brilliant comments on this post. They should be a post unto themselves. They are well worth the read. Thanks so much, dear friends, for sharing your thoughts!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Happy "Buzz-day!"

My sweet husband had a birthday this week. He had his favorite German chocolate cake, made almost completely by Bethany, and designed and decorated by Ben with a most fitting Georgia Tech theme. (Buzz, of course, is the Yellow Jacket mascot.) I don't notice Lee aging much from year to year, but the kids are another story!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Celebrating Spring!

Spring weather makes me want to celebrate, and when I think of celebrating, I think of food. Makes sense, right? So I decided it's recipe time over here. I can't even remember the last recipe I posted. This one is so easy and so good, you just have to try it!

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® chocolate chip cookie mix
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® peanut butter cookie mix
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3 eggs
2 cups candy-coated milk chocolate candies

1. Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, stir all ingredients except candies until soft dough forms. Stir in candies.
2. On ungreased cookie sheets, place about 1/4 cupfuls dough about 3 inches apart. (Mine are not quite so big.)
3. Bake 12 to 13 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets. Cool completely. Store in covered container at room temperature.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Redeemed (Part 3): The Redeemer

Separation. Loneliness. Fear. Failure. Heartache. Desperation.

Just when desperation finally makes us look up, daring one last time to search for a rescuer, lest we perish, our Hero is on the horizon, riding in to save the day. He has come to redeem us. As Webster's defines it, to buy us back. We were his from creation, but there is now a price to be paid to restore the relationship severed by sin. He alone can pay it. Withholding it was never an option. So he pays.

Fee and Stuart put it this way:

"The genius of the biblical story is what it tells us about God himself: a God who sacrifices himself in death out of love for his enemies; a God who would rather experience the death we deserved than to be apart from the people he created for his pleasure; a God who himself bore our likeness, experienced our creatureliness, and carried our sins so that he might provide pardon and reconciliation; a God who would not let us go, but who would pursue us--all of us, even the worst of us--so that he might restore us into joyful fellowship with himself."

We are saved! Hallelujah!

"This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Romans 3:22-24

Thursday, March 18, 2010


My sweet girl was a little under the weather this week. She just hasn't been her perky self.

The weather, on the other hand, was gorgeous.

Bethany was sure she heard the park calling her name. There was no point in trying to talk her out of it.

Me: Do you think that every year of your life you will go to the park to say hello to spring?
Bethany: I guess it's just our tradition.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lost and found

This winter was interesting in the snow category. We had an early snow that stayed, hiding some things that normally get put away in late fall. Then we got totally socked in at Christmas, so that it made no sense whatsoever to try to dig out the buried lights and decorations. In the past week we have had some gorgeous spring-like weather, much earlier than usual, unearthing an interesting array of decor in the neighborhood. Amazing how fast three feet of snow can melt! But also amazing how fast the neighbors get out and clean up when it does. Here's what remained on our walk yesterday.

These people found their discarded Christmas tree.

These people found their driveway...a little too late.

Here, look closer:

These people live on the shady side of the street,
but even so they have managed to rediscover their patriotism.

And we were finally able to take the lights off our shrubs.

Welcome spring! We hope you are really here to stay.
But we'll believe it along about Memorial Day.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Redeemed (part 2): Our need

You know, when I started part 1 of what now is this series, I had no intention of more than one part. I was thinking about redemption, so I thought I would write about it. Simple enough.

Until I got to the part about aching for what we could be. Every redemption story seems to have a long ache. Now I realize why I don't read much fiction. I have a low tolerance for the ache! I MUST get to the fulfilled longing. I am utterly worthless for anything until I get there. (Just ask my family what I accomplished while reading all 468 pages of Redeeming Love over the course of a few days.)

I realized I couldn't write about redemption without allowing a little time for the ache to sink in. It is the key element. Humanity's age old question about the reason for suffering is so often answered in the ache. And then the fulfillment. The ache simply takes time to accomplish its purpose.

Just what is the ache?

I've been greatly helped in my understanding of redemption by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart, authors of How to Read the Bible Book by Book. In the introduction, they point out that understanding scripture depends on reading each individual book in relation to the whole, all of which is God's story. A story, according to Fee and Stuart, told in four parts: creation, the fall, redemption, and consummation.

We love the idea of redemption, but there would be no redemption if we didn't need it. The beginning of redemption is to see our need. And to become desperate enough to seek help. Unfortunately, we don't love the idea of needing redemption. But that doesn't change the reality.

I like the way Fee and Stuart describe the impact of the Fall, beginning with the account of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, and repeated throughout scripture, on pp. 15-16:

"They chose godlikeness over against mere creatureliness, with its dependent status. They chose independence from the Creator. But we were not intended to live so, and the result was a fall--a colossal and tragic fall."

"The calamity of our fallenness is threefold: First, we lost our vision of God with regard to his nature and character. Guilty and hostile ourselves, we projected that guilt and hostility onto God. God is to blame. (...) Second, the fall caused us to distort--and blur--the divine image in ourselves. Instead of being loving, generous, self-giving, thoughtful, merciful--as God is--we became miserly, selfish, unloving, unforgiving, spiteful. (...) The third consequence of the Fall was our loss of the divine presence, and with that our relationship--fellowship--with God. Under the tyranny of our sin, we found ourselves unwilling and unable to come to the living God for life and restoration. And in turn we passed on our brokenness in the form of every kind of broken relationship with one another."

And so we ache.

"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." Romans 3:23

Friday, March 12, 2010

Just rockin' and rollin'

There's been a lot of life as usual around here lately, which sort of adds up to no news is good news. A little basketball here. A little gymnastics there. Some work on the school yearbook. More Lent. A little sibling rivalry. Lots of sibling giggles. A few opportunities to pitch in and make a difference in somebody's day. A little rust on our van. New light fixtures. Winter melting away.

The other day I was at the dollar store, and saw the greatest guitar sunglasses. I couldn't think of any particular use for them, so I resisted. That day the kids brought home a little flyer saying that Friday was Rock Star Day. Of course I made a beeline back to the dollar store.

Bethany had to remind me that with rock stars there has to be a little drama. In her case, drama over what to wear (thank you Google for plenty of results under "how to dress like a rock star"), drama over how to wear your hair. I have to say, she was pretty good when I couldn't find the pink hairspray this morning. But someone needs to tell this girl that rock stars love to have their picture taken. She finally warmed up. Kind of.

My rock stars...
they crack me up.
Their future's so bright,
they've just gotta wear shades.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Note: I started writing this little series of posts about redemption several months ago. In the middle of it, I was overwhelmed by the triteness of my words compared to the magnitude and richness of the topic, so I never posted them. As I've been taking more time to reflect during Lent, I think that God's plan of redemption still deserves attention, even from one as weak as I am. May you be blessed by his greatness in the midst of feeble words.

Lately it seems that God is trying to get my attention. I am in awe that he invests the effort. I truly love him for that. This time what I'm noticing is that there are messages of redemption all around me. It's no coincidence.

A couple of years ago I decided to make a conscious effort to read more books. I've read a lot of reviews, and did a Facebook thingy where you list 15 books that have stuck with you and ask your friends to do theirs. Recently I have read these excellent books which came highly recommended by multiple friends:

You know what I've noticed? Redemption sells! I've found myself wondering why it's so universally appealing.

It occurs to me that the one place in life you see the word redeem is on a coupon.

"Redeemable for one free Whopper with the purchase of another."
"Redeemable for 30 cents off one box of Kellogg's Corn Flakes.

Other words on the coupon include:

"Not redeemable for cash."
"Valid only at participating locations."
"Coupon cannot be sold, transferred or duplicated."

I am not a huge coupon collector, but even so I have quite a few of them. You know what happens to most of them? Nothing. All these valuable coupons, now worthless. Why? Because I never redeemed them. How do you redeem them? You take them back to the one who issued them in the first place, or someone acting as their agent. Their value is absolutely, completely tied to the one who made and distributed them.

Why does redemption sell? We all want to know we have value. We were not made to be cast aside or thrown away. We have a maker. He is also a redeemer. He created us with infinite intrinsic worth, and gave us a longing to live as his children. Apart from him, whether we understand it or not, we ache for what we could be. We were born for redemption.

"...put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption." Psalm 130:7