{re}fresh

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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A Love-Sized Hole

by Mindy Kiker

Image by Jay Joslin
Flickr.1136261527_57561d94cb_CC BY NC ND 2.0

Love can be confusing–a powerful force responsible for the pleasure and pain of life. Loving means opening a doorway to the joy of belonging, but also to the agony of betrayal or loss. If you do not love, you will not hurt, nor will you truly be alive. At times, this deep urge that God has written into our hearts for connection and intimacy with others feels like a trap or a quandary. Read the rest of this entry »

The God of Hope

by Mindy Kiker

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

As we approach the Christmas season, we prepare our hearts to celebrate the gift of Immanuel, God with us.  Are you expectant that Jesus is coming, or are you burdened by all that has to be done between now and December 25th? We invite you to anticipate with us the arrival of Christ. We begin our anticipation by asking God to place in our hearts a glimmer of hope.

In Romans 15:13, we are promised that as we trust in God, He fills us to overflowing.  That’s not a few drops of hope, but a flood. The seasons, struggles and storms of life may leave us feeling parched and weary, but He gives us joy and peace more powerful than our circumstances. When Jesus arrives, His joy and peace arrive too.

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A Child of Joy

by Mindy Kiker

I was depressed. Trapped by hopelessness and despair, I could see no way out. My guilt intensified because a baby was growing within my body, a tiny person trapped inside, feeling my every emotion, floating in a noxious bath of misery.

Why did you send this baby to me, God, only for me to taint before he is even born?

I still talked to the Lord, but my mind rejected genuine prayer. I scorned the Word. My heart despised the church. My mouth refused to sing. Once beloved spiritual practices had vanished. What was I to do?

Startled by the phone, I answered in my false cheerful voice, surprised to find my mom’s good friend who has prayed for me since I was a little girl. She rarely phones me, but when she does, I know it is important.

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Live Carefree

by Mindy Kiker

Image by Jeremy
28363682838_d00ba1bef5
CC BY-ND 2.0

I was exhausted, depleted of joy and hope. I needed a break, to find rest in the midst of around-the-clock demands. Guilt and regret plagued my conscience. I said “yes” to a call from the Lord, but now it was a burden.

What was wrong with me?

Because God desires to help us look more like Jesus, He orchestrates circumstances in our lives to expose selfishness. When I became a mother, it was a journey designed to crucify my flesh. For you, it may be any number of pressures in life, such as caring for a parent, dealing with a chronic illness, coping with a disability, navigating a mental health issue, or any challenge that threatens joy.

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Carefree Days of Summer {Hurricanes}

by Mindy Kiker

Image by Nicholas_Gent
flickr.com_9270516978_59bbcaeebd_CC BY-ND 2.0

Summer vacation! Sounds like a relaxing change of pace, and yet the balmy days of summer also create the perfect conditions for hurricanes off the coast of Florida.

I recall last year, preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Irma who had already wrecked her devastation on our neighbors in the Caribbean and was pressing in on Florida. As I worked, I listened to The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. What a perfect backdrop to my thoughts swirling with the threat of disaster.

Here was a woman who experienced one of the most heinous epochs of human history, lost most of her family to despicable Nazi evil, and yet still believed in the goodness of God. Her story put into perspective my anxious hurricane preparations: we have a loving Father who has good plans for us, although our paths at times lead into dark and threatening places.

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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 »

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