“The Lord builds up Jerusalem,
he gathers the outcasts
of Israel. He heals
the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.”
PSALM 121:1~2 ESV

Are you 100% real? Am I?  What does christian authenticity look like today? The christian aims to be, by definition, Christ-like. And Jesus Christ hasn’t changed since he walked the earth…so, it’s safe to say, the makings of christian authenticity haven’t either. So, the question is: How does the authentic christian relate to an everchanging world? To find the answer, we need to examine the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. How did He relate to the world? What did He do to impact society? In what ways did He minister to broken people? He pursued. He loved. He challenged. He forgave. He sacrificed. As followers of Christ, we are called to do just that: follow Christ.

 Echoes of Mercy:

\”Love Can Make You New\” by J.J. Heller

HOPE (when it’s all you have)

“I lift my eyes up to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.”
PSALM 121:1~2 ESV

Sometimes, its a long and weary road we walk. When you feel that you just can’t go on and you’ve come to the end of your rope, don’t hang on…let go. Lay down your burdens, the world will keep spinning even if you don’t carry it on your shoulders. Jealousy, resentment, and unforgiveness, can tie us up in knots if we let them. So, its okay to set down the need to be right. Stop running from the past, hurt and shame can’t reach you anymore…God’s given you a new name. And the pain that keeps you up at night, can be just a bad dream. Lift up your eyes to a new day dawning and hand over your troubles to the One who cares for you. Then arms wide open, embrace a new life with Christ, each day. Every day.
His mercies are new every morning.

 Echoes of Mercy:

\”I Lift My Hands\” by Chris Tomlin

HOPE (floats)

“For through the Spirit,
by faith, we ourselves
eagerly wait for the
hope of righteousness.”

Hope is like a harmonica. You just can’t help but smile. Hope is like a hammock. It cradles you, with blissful ease, from the worries of the world. Hope is like a hot air balloon. It carries you up over your current landscape, showing you a new horizon. Hope is like a dandelion seed. It drifts upward, finding a place to grow and flourish (even a dry, crack of pavement), and puts down roots. Hope is like the old swimming hole rope swing. You’ve just got to let go!
Hope floats.

 Echoes of Mercy:

\”Save Me\” by J.J. Heller

HOPE (the silver lining)

“God settles the solitary in a home;
he leads out the prisoner
to prosperity,
but the rebellious
dwell in a parched land.”

Did I grow deeper in faith, hope, and love today? This question was posed to our congregation during Sunday’s sermon, and it’s been on my mind ever since. How do my minute interactions with others reflect my true motives? Am I living intentionally for the cause of Christ? I think this question resonated so deeply with me, because I know the answer often-times is: NO. All of my carefully camouflaged character flaws become painfully open to examination, when I honestly answer this question. So, how can I grow stronger, and deeper, and truer in living a life of authethic, self-sacrifing love when I feel so far removed from the very qualities I strive to possess? But, then in that stark honesty, I find a silver-lining: I can’t do it. Not on my own, that is. My hope is found in nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

 Echoes of Mercy:

\”Love Is Here\” by Tenth Avenue North

CRY (of my ♥)

“I entreat your favor
with all my heart;
be gracious to me
according to your promise.”
PSALM 119:58 ESV

There’s a quickened pace, I can feel a change in the air. Come on, Friday, I’m running fast to you! I feel like this week I’ve been pulling a heavy cart up a steep hill, and now I’m nearly to the top. Soon, I’ll crest the hill and ride the momentum born on the wheels of  my rusty little cart. Just a few more steps. Just another kind word…an act of patience…a labor of love. If I can just give it my best, just for now. Better days are ahead. Whatever your struggle today, however far you have to go: you need only take that next step. God is never far…He’ll be there when you need Him.

 Echoes of Mercy:

\”Cry of my Heart\” Songs 4 Worship

CRY (freedom)

“The Lord is good,
a stronghold in
the day of trouble;
he knows those who
take refuge in him.”

Today…instead of peace of mind, I’m picking up the pieces. In the car, on the road. At home, with a day chock full o’chores. I’m just trying to hold it together. Ben has a lot of his plate this week, and all that responsibility takes a heavy toll. When he’s so busy with final exams, that leaves everything else on my shoulders.  And I feel like I have the world on my shoulders. So, the question is: When I can’t find my own peace of mind, how can I make a peaceful life for the ones I love? I know the answer: my peace cannot be found in my circumstances, but in the One who never changes. So, when trouble clouds my mind, and Life’s moving so fast I can’t catch a breath, I seek my refuge in the arms of God. It might be babysteps I’m taking, but I’m still walking. ~Phew!~ Only three more days ’til Saturday!

 Echoes of Mercy:

\”Hero\” by Abandon

CRY(ing on the inside)

“By his
he stilled
the sea.”
JOB 26:12a ESV

Storm brewing? We bunkered down yesterday: thunder, lightening, hail…this is August we’re talking about! My life feels like that this week. Too many miles on the road; paperwork to the ceiling. Oh, I almost forgot…Dinner (No, kids, it does not always come in a paper box!). I think my golden hour was when I sent my hardworkin’ hubby off with a sack of leftover deli-made seafood salad, and some crackers. Mmm, mmm, good! “Three squares and a place to rest your head,” wait…that describes prison not paradise. Right now, I’d settle for crash pad. Well, in spite of all the drama, I know that next week will bring with it a more serene schedule. Then it’s only a hop, skip, and a jump to a (whole) week off from classes! 

 Echoes of Mercy:

\”Let The Waters Rise\” by MIKESCHAIR

CRY (me a river)

“I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me
and heard my cry.
He drew me up
from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.”
PSALM 40:1~2 ESV

This verse describes my life in a nutshell…so does this song, actually. It amazes me that after years of struggling for acceptance, for success, for my own personal worth, that everything I strived so desperately for could only be found in letting go. Walking with Him, I have covered more ground than I ever could chasing after my dreams. And, in setting those dreams down, I am free to embrace my Heavenly Father and accept the blessings that He has waiting for me. Yes, I want a home to call my own. But having to wait, without knowing what the answer will be, has helped me to see His care for me even in the face of disapointment. Do I have regrets? I’ve had a few. But, I can appreciate the many shades that have colored my life, and know that I am that much more beautiful to Him, because I can seek Him in my brokenness. Every broken piece of my life and my heart, is a beautiful treasure to Him.

 Echoes of Mercy:

\”No Fight Left\” by J.J. Heller

LOVE (is all you need)

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution,
or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
No, in all these things we are more
than conquerers through him
who loves us.”
ROMANS 8:35, 37 ESV

LOVE HAS COME TO RESCUE US. There is so much more than the life that is staring us in the face today…or the hopes that we have for tomorrow…or the regrets that we carry from yesterday. Fear, guilt, and worry exact a steep toll from our lives, stealing our peace of mind. But, the debt has been repaid. Our lives are made new when we offer our hearts to the grace that waits for us in Jesus Christ. Every broken dream, and forgotten promise, and shattered life will be gently restored by the Hands that carried the cross. Mercy triumps at the cross. What a remarkable sacrifice made for all of humanity’s sake! I want every facet of my life to reflect the incredible freedom I find only in walking with Him. Not perfectly, but purposefully. My life, my hopes, and my dreams, are just that: mine. Thinly veiled attempts at personal gain. What truer gratitude than to offer them to the One who loves me more than life itself? And perhaps, I will find there is so much more to life than I could ever imagine. Let all the world know: JESUS SAVES!

 Echoes of Mercy:

\”Jesus Saves\” by Jeremy Camp

LOVE (won’t let go)

“with a strong hand
and an outretched arm,
for his steadfast love
endures forever.”

PSALM 136:12 ESV

I’m glad that I have Someone to look up to. Today, I just need someone to rely on, I don’t think I can make it through the carpools and checklists…not on my own, that is. Grace is such a beautiful thing, but how do I make room for it between groceries and garbage? Like a lost little girl standing in the candy aisle, I find myself easily distracted by a plethora of worldly ideals, with little thought of the consequences to my peace of mind. The rush of accomplishment (Goodbye, Laundry Mountain!), the thrill of conquest (Is ketchup considered a vegetable? Oh, well…). But if I measure my life by the checkmarks on my To-Do List, then the doldrums leave me woefully incomplete. I’ll never be able to hold a candle to June Cleaver, and that’s the meat of it: why chase after the sweetness of success (which leaves me always thirsting for more), when I can accept the blessing of faithfulness (which does not measure my accomplishments but my perseverance). A Mommy’s Guide to Grace: slow & steady wins the race! So, the next time I find myself standing in Life’s candy aisle looking for a quick success to bolster my self-worth, I need only turn to see my Father waiting for me, with an outstretched arm. His love is all I need.

 Echoes of Mercy:

\”Children of God\” by Third Day