{re}fresh

The Dark Day Before Resurrection

by Mindy Kiker

I call it “Somber Saturday” — one of my favorite days of the year nestled between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.  I relish the reflections that this day invites. In anguish, I imagine the confusion and sorrow that must have wrapped itself around Mary, the disciples and all those who loved the Rabbi from Nazareth.

Many believed He was the Son of God, come to save the Hebrew nation from the scourge of Roman rule. Little did they realize that this lofty hope was too small a calling, too small a mission for the one true Messiah.

Jesus’ followers did not yet comprehend the magnitude of what God planned to accomplish — the Lamb had come to earth, Jehovah made flesh, to rescue ALL people for ALL time from the scourge of sin, death, sickness, and every kind of evil.

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Divine Foolish Wisdom

by Mindy Kiker

I am searching for balance, simplicity, and peace. Along the way, I discover that God’s ways are counter intuitive to mine. Surprise!

In my human wisdom, I assumed that God would lead me to find peace by taking on fewer responsibilities and paring down my to-do list. But our God is unpredictable.

When my eldest son entered the local high school, I joined the PTSA in order to sow into the lives of those who are sowing into ours.  A deluge of volunteer opportunities rushed in via e-mail, all of which I systematically deleted from my in-box because I am trying to say “no” to the good and save my “yes” for the best.

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Strength through weakness

by Mindy Kiker

Eggshell by Johnathan Cohen
flickr.comphotosjonathancohen3989435608_CC BY-ND 2.0

Who wants to be a weakling? Most people I know want to be strong. So this shocking revelation from Paul is perplexing:

I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

I looked through the door cracked open to see an upside-down kingdom of God that functions on opposite principles to the world. The counter-intuitive advice found in Paul’s bold statement of humility challenges my orientation of self-sufficiency, self-confidence, self-promotion . . . self-everything! Paul was not trying to cultivate his own personal powers. Instead, he willingly divested himself of strength.

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Joy Ignited

by Mindy Kiker

Image by Jone Vasatis_Flickr.com_7962560356_374f90ea74__CC BY-ND 2.0

“My spirit rejoices in God my savior.” Luke 1:47

As we prepare our hearts for Christmas, we rejoice in God made flesh, our Savior Jesus Christ. An unusual “Christmas” verse comes to mind as I ponder rejoicing in my savior — a verse that takes us forward to the culmination of the Christmas story where we read of Jesus’ commitment to rescue us by choosing not only to be born of a woman but also to die on a cross:

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

How does Jesus find joy in a brutal and painful death? He keeps His eyes on the prize. He kicks Satan in the teeth and purchases our freedom once and for all. For that great prize, he is willing to sacrifice His own life and call it a joy. Praise be to God!

Mary too, is asked to endure a type of sacrifice. Everyone knew from the Scriptural prophesies that the Messiah would be born to a virgin, but think about what it would mean to be “that virgin” — the one with child before the wedding vows are spoken. Mary, a betrothed but not-yet-married young lady, has no business being pregnant. Read the rest of this entry »

Repentance: Feel the Love

by Mindy Kiker

Image by Jason Watson Flicker.com_deviantmonk_8khVEE-4P7_CC BY-ND 2.0

Image by Jason Watson
Flicker.com_deviantmonk_8khVEE-4P7_CC BY-ND 2.0

Love your enemies, do good to them….Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:35-36

Love is tough. It’s gritty and glorious. I struggle to love people when I’m disappointed in them, or in myself, or with life in general. Sometimes I come across less like a lover and more like an accuser. You don’t want to know me when I get into striving mode with a long to-do list and a tight time schedule with little margin. I inevitably start to feel the strain, but instead of dealing with my own heart before The Lord, I like to start first by blaming others:

It’s the kids’ problem–they’re so disobedient. Why did I have so many children?

It’s my husband’s problem–he’s not at all helpful. Why didn’t I stay single?

It’s my many obligations–why didn’t I say “No!”? What was I thinking?

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Love Demonstrated

by Mindy Kiker

Forgiven, Loved_Ben Husman
Flickr.com_2803463263_45751eacab_CC BY-ND 2.0

“But I don’t want to forgive him!” In coaching my children about forgiveness, the resistance I meet is familiar. Even I resist letting my offender off the hook with those three magic words, “I forgive you.” The reality is, unforgiveness feels powerful while forgiveness feels weak.

Experts agree that, while seeking healing for our broken hearts, what most commonly blocks our healing is unforgiveness. Saying it another way: the way to mend a broken heart is to forgive.

Do you recall the words of Christ on the cross? “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’” (Luke 23:24)

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A stronghold in times of trouble

by Mindy Kiker

Hiding Place by Kai Schreiber flickr.com_photosgenista_75511494__aa4aed1e74_CC BY-ND 2.0

The LORD also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, A stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9

When I face trouble, conflict, or chaos I look around for a safe place to hide, an escape. God is always there as a refuge or place of retreat, but unfortunately I’ve made a few hiding places of my own. These dwellings certainly are “strongholds” but only in the worst sense of the word.

One of my favorite strongholds is blame-shifting. This response to conflict helps me make trouble someone else’s fault. I frame all interactions into a win-lose paradigm and life becomes adversarial.

I can hear the voice of the accuser and it sounds an awful lot like . . . me! Read the rest of this entry »

Pure Gospel Grit

by Mindy Kiker

The Annunciation by Randy Williams
Flickr.com_/photos/realimagin/33945654273_CC BY NC 2.0

“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38 (AMP)

Who is this young woman who said, “Yes,” to God and served Him with a steadfast heart, even though life took her into unexpected territory? When I ponder the life of Mary, mother of Jesus, I am astounded by the strength of character that she exhibited at such a young age. Think about the confidence she exhibited in her conversation with the angel Gabriel who arrived out of nowhere to tell her that she was going to become pregnant and bear God’s Son. What?

That ranks up there with the most outrageous thing that happened to me today!

When I read the gospel account of Mary’s encounter with Gabriel, I put myself in Mary’s shoes with some difficulty – this is definitely a Cinderella-and-the-glass-slipper moment. As I try to squeeze my bulging foot into the dainty glass slipper, I have to admit that it is not a good fit.

Here’s the honest truth: when a Word of God conflicts directly with my current circumstances, my gut reaction is to disbelieve God. Of course, I have not yet encountered Gabriel — perhaps that makes it easier to believe a Word. However, I suspect that even if I encountered a brilliant angel, I would still doubt. Read the rest of this entry »

A Whip-Wielding Crusader

by Mindy Kiker

It can be tempting to believe that Jesus doesn’t shine in the places where we have been wounded, where arrows or lies have lodged in our hearts from the hurt we have experienced in life. The painful experiences create damaged pieces of our hearts that feel dark indeed. Our enemy strategizes to attack our identity, our gifting, and even our bodies in order to break and shatter who God made us to be, to shroud out the radiant light of His love, joy, and peace.

Image by Blew bird
Flicker.com/photos/blewbird33/8905407840_CC BY-ND 2.0

In our hearts there are places where God’s healing light has not yet reached. Jesus died to purchase our healing, our cleansing, our freedom, but He also stands at the door and knocks. Unfortunately, it can take many years for us to trust Him enough to open our wounded places to His light. He will never force the door open, but instead Jesus waits patiently for us to say, “Come to me, my Savior. I open the door of my heart and give you permission to heal my wounds and make me whole in these areas that have closed me off from your love and freedom.”

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Love: as simple as it gets

by Mindy Kiker

Simple Love by JLHopgood
Flickr.com_6816878933_eab6c660b1_CC BY-ND

Everything in the Christian life pivots on the events we celebrate this time of year. Jesus was born, lived a sinless life, and offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to set us free. Am I the only one who feels uncomfortable that Jesus had to suffer torture, scourging, mocking, and finally a slow, brutal death?

Why couldn’t He destroy the grip of sin and death with some fire power? I personally like Peter’s approach, when he hauled out his sword to defend his Messiah and cut off the soldier’s ear. All of me cries out, “Yeah, Baby, don’t let them take you without a fight!”

Can you tell that God’s ways are not my ways? If I were designing the redemption of humanity, I would have sent Jesus to earth to create His kingdom through a political revolution. Wouldn’t it have been impressive to lead a fiery revolt against all the other nations of the world and establish a physical kingdom for God’s chosen people?

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