Leigh



                               

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I’ve been spending time in the Gospel of Mark lately, keeping pace with Jesus’ march to the cross as our days press on toward Easter. One of the things that has stood out to me on this reading is the disciples’ failure. We see it throughout the gospels, but Mark accentuates the disciples’ shortcomings.

In Mark, the disciples consistently fail to grasp Jesus’ mission as the one who will suffer for our sins. They have moments of insight, but the recurrent theme is of their failure.

  • The disciples see the hungry people and overlook the Bread of Life—twice (Mark 6:37; 8:4).
  • They don’t understand Jesus’ teachings, and their hearts are hardened (Mark 6:52).
  • Jesus bluntly tells them about his death and resurrection, and the disciples rebuke him (Mark 5:32).
  • They fight among themselves and compete for position (Mark 9:33-34; 10:35-37).
  • Judas betrays him (Mark 14:10).
  • The disciples abandon him (Mark 14:50).
  • Peter denies him (Mark 14:66-72).
  • They flee in fear instead of sharing the good news of the resurrection (Mark 16:8).

The disciples failed. But God remained faithful.

The good news is that my failure does not annul God’s faithfulness. The gospel is the story of God’s faithfulness triumphing over our human failure. We denied Christ, but he did not deny us. We rebelled against him, but he called us friends. We abandoned him, but he died for us and rose triumphant over the grave.

We failed. But God remains faithful.

As we approach Easter, I am mindful of my own failures. My willingness to sing “Yes Lord!” on Sunday and squirm at the thought of sacrifice on Monday. My own selfishness, greed, and impatience. The times when I choose silence over boldness and accept cool politeness instead of true reconciliation.

Yes, I have failed him. But God remains faithful.

This Easter season, it is his faithfulness that we celebrate. It was God’s faithfulness that sent his son to show him the way. His faithfulness held Jesus to the cross, and God’s faithfulness raised him from the grave. The tide of his faithful love overwhelms my failure and washes me clean.

My God is faithful, and his faithfulness triumphs.



                               

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Love Defined

heart is in my hands from Flickr via Wylio© 2007 Shimelle Laine, Flickr | CC-BY  | via Wylio

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. Let’s face it: we buy up candy and cards and scour the internet for pin-worthy Valentine’s mailboxes because card companies tell us to. And for me, Valentine’s Day is never the greatest celebration of my husband’s and my love. The moments that resonate deep down in my core don’t have anything to do with candy hearts. Long talks. The bag of honeycrisp apples that weren’t on the grocery list but he brought home anyway. Fixing his favorite foods for supper instead of mine.

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New Year? Need Jesus.


Photo credit: dhester from morguefile.com

My New Year’s resolution to eat less sugar crashed and burned in the candy aisle at 7-11. We’d been on the road for 10 hours. I was tired, the kids were cranky, we had another hour of drive time left to go, and that candy bar was doing the cha-cha and calling my name. I had earned that chocolate.

It was January 2.

40% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions. 8% of us keep them. There’s something about the promise of a new year that makes us lift our heads and strain to catch a glimpse of something better.

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Don’t Settle for a Perfect Christmas

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I’m guessing the manger wasn’t on Mary’s birthplan.

We like to sanitize the nativity story in our imaginations.  Mary kneels calmly over the manger, with cattle lowing and Baby Jesus asleep on the hay.  Joseph leans on his staff in quiet awe while shepherds and peaceful sheep stare in wonder.  We forget the work of birth that comes in blood and sweat and tears. What was it like for Mary, that first Christmas night?  Did her mother go with them on that three-day journey to Bethlehem, or was she alone with this man she’d been married to for less than six months?

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How Thanksgiving Shapes Happiness

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Turns out the shape of happiness is a U.

According to an article in this month’s Atlantic, our happiness levels have a U shape over the course of our lives: higher in our twenties, lower during midlife, and rising again in our late 50’s and early 60’s. The What struck me as I read the article was story after story of people struggling with happiness in midlife because life hadn’t turned out like they thought it would. They hadn’t advanced in their careers or written the great American novel. They had divorced, their children were struggling, or they were caring for aging parents.

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When Fear Keeps You From Freedom

This sweet girl is Summer, our new fur baby.

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About two weeks ago we adopted Summer from a local shelter. Before we brought her home, the kids and I went to our local pet store to load up on treats, toys, food, and a new crate. We’ve got a lovely new bed for her, a stuffed duck that squeaks, an assortment of balls, and a toy raccoon. She’s not using any of those things, though.

Summer is afraid to come inside the house.

Before she came home with us, Summer had lived almost all of her life at the shelter. They were good to her, but she had no experience with things like tile floors, carpet, swinging screen doors, or noisy washing machines.

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City of Light

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Our small town lights shine at the end of the dark country road, letting me know home is just ahead. We don’t have an airport or supercenter; the brightest lights in town shine over the football field. Yet in the distance porch lights and streetlights are enough to light up the night.

Jesus said that we are the light of the world; “a city on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 6:14). I’ve often read this passage and thought of it in individual terms. I have my light and you have yours, and we all shine.

But I don’t think that’s exactly how Jesus meant it.

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Eat Better, Not Less

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I’ll admit to being fluffier than I used to be. Things like having babies, stress eating, and an honest love of chocolate haven’t helped my waistline. Over the last few months I’ve started noticing more articles from experts urging us to eat better, not less. In other words, the secret to health is not consuming less food but consuming better food. And they have a point. For most of us, moving away from the standard American diet of quick-fixes, drive-through meals, and prepackaged foods, for lean meats, produce, and whole grains results in a healthier diet and a trimmer body.

Does that same principle apply to us spiritually?

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