Thursday, April 28, 2011


April 2011

Easter was amazing this year. My family played strings for the Good Friday services and I had the privilege of playing in a brass quartet on Easter at an area Catholic church. This was my first Easter since learning about God’s covenant in bible study and it was fresh and new again – Christ fulfilling the requirements of the law and establishing a forever covenant once and for all! The power of Good Friday and the shock of the Passover sacrifice and then the relief and awe of Easter and the resurrection gripped me.

In the midst of this, of course, was some personal drama – my spouse wanted to take a work promotion that would require family sacrifice. Now my spouse is a workaholic (hence the promotion offer) but we have just a couple years left with our youngest that I wanted us to maximize. Needless to say, things heated up and I caught a glimpse of our true relational status in the process. When we celebrated our 25th anniversary a few years back, I really thought the toughest times were over. It’s actually the next 25 that will be challenging!

So I grieved for my marriage this month, coming to God more often in my anguish, while awaiting my spouse’s decision. Of course other life drama was added to the pile (things never seem to happen singly) and harsh words were spoken – words that hung in the air between us. I became angry at these words even though I kept asking for help from God in forgiving and being forgiven.

While playing Easter Sunday, I felt God connect with me and my desire for Him. I had reached that place in my walk with Him (we just celebrated 25 years together too) where I desired to be off spiritual milk and be not just a child of His, but a full covenant partner too. As I groaned under the weight of my grief, seeking the hope of Easter, God took the weight from me and gave me this thought as I played trombone: He has written the music for all parts to be played together, with even the silence measured out; each part is essential and when one part is missing, the music isn’t complete nor as beautiful as He meant it to be.

The beauty of completeness - each person being fully available to God, to their family and their church family. God was asking me at this particular point to not only fully honor the covenant with my spouse (until death do us part) but to offer more than just leftovers - to wholeheartedly love, regardless. Yes, the Lord mentioned He too deals with a lot of leftovers. As of this Easter, I am determined to give God the first fruits He deserves: of my love, my time, my finances, my rest (Hebrews) and of my family. I'm determined to offer Him the best, not just the leftovers!

Monday, April 11, 2011



I was shocked, plain out horrified. Almost too surprised to string coherent thoughts and sentences together. With the shock came sorrow and tears, burning anger too. The emotions startled me, the rawness of the shock. It took me many days to be able to put words to it all, to be honest in the intensity of it. I finally started taking it to God, offering up the people and the situation. It was nothing I could control but I knew Christ was willing to make something with it (He’s quite good at that.)

At church, during music worship, God was gracious to connect some dots. I had learned that offering unconditional love in such circumstances was something God desired from me. What I didn’t know is that sin shocks Him. Whether it be my unloving attitude or harboring sin in my heart, it shocks Him! His righteousness is His essence, which is why He sent Christ into an unrighteous world. I'm reading through the book of Hebrews and it's filled with the call to righteousness, so that we may show Him how much we love Him as we choose to be like Him. It is a process and He lends us the strength to continue the journey of love and righteousness.

Saturday, March 19, 2011



I have struggled with feeling worthy often, part and parcel of a hard life in a sinful world. As a Christian these past 25 years, I still struggle with it. Yet in this study of covenant – God’s forever relationship with me – I’m finding hope for my hopelessness.

Every Biblical covenant involves blood and sacrifice (the cutting of flesh) from Adam to Abraham up until Christ. In Christ, He was the final sacrifice, giving His blood and having His body broken for us.

But we in the church are called the Body of Christ, observing His sacrifice through Communion. But we’re considered part of His body? I have not been able to wrap my mind around this. But during my time at the piano, worshipping Him in song, God clarified it. I hope I can do justice in explaining it.

Christ conquered death through obedience to His Father so that we would not taste death. His Father raised Him and seated Him at His right hand and sent His Spirit to us, effectively making us the other half of His body, left here on earth to continue the rescue. In Old Testamenttimes, it was the animal's body that was cut in two and the two parties passed through those pieces as a sign of covenant. It is His Spirit that involves us in the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In heaven, we will be fully united to Him and all will have been rescued!


To read more about covenant:

Adam & Eve: Genesis 3

Noah: Genesis 6-9

Abraham: Genesis 15-17

Moses: Exodus 24

Jesus: Matthew 26

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Desperate Rescue

I found this and am again amazed at how God gives me words and for how He healed me. At Advent, I hope you find time to glorify Him!


By T. Niels (as directed by God)


As a Christian of over 20 years, I too often find myself trapped by feelings of inadequacy that somehow chase me away from God. Why do I feel I have to “earn” His approval before coming close to Him? As I’ve faced my current challenge, chronic pain, I find myself wading through these same inadequacies. “I must deserve to suffer like this.” I am inadequate, this I know. But the God I know suffers with those who suffer. Then it hit me.

I was asking the age-old question of mankind. Did God love me before or after I made a commitment to Him? God rephrased that thought, that question: did He love me before or after He rescued me?

It was a desperate rescue, an all or nothing proposition. Lots of preparation and sacrifice involved and no expense spared. With one bite of the apple in Eden, God lost all mankind. To rescue them would be hard and not all of them would make it. It meant supreme obedience in the mission, where death was not just inevitable but necessary. It was the only way and so God sent His #1 man for the job, His son Jesus. He’d be booby-trapped with every kind of temptation but He leaned on God and got through them all. He’d be betrayed by everyone He met, with even God forsaking Him at the cross, yet still He went on with the mission. He was in hell for 3 days, taking every punishment, the worst being the absence of His Father. And His Father rescued Him and sent Him back to the disciples to reassure them. And took Him home to heaven, leaving His Spirit to continue to save every single person who wants to be rescued.

The answer to my question is profound – God loved me not only before my rescue but as He knit me together in my mother’s womb, knowing rescue would be inevitable. My pain has nothing to do with my failings. My pain has everything to do with leaning on Him to hold me and carry me, trusting He wouldn’t give me more than I could bear.

“Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either he will shield you from suffering or he will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations, and say continually: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart has trusted in Him and I am helped. He is not only with me…but in me… and I in Him.”” St. Francis de Sales

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Houseplant Commitment


During my covenant study time with the Kay Arthur workbook, I felt that I almost grasped what covenant meant. The covenant in the Old Testament was set up with a sacrifice, with both parties walking between the two pieces of flesh. The commitment to the covenant was such that the breaking of it meant death, symbolized by the sacrifice - a life sacrificed to keep it, death to break it. We see God dealing with the breaking of the covenant in the Old Testament. With Jesus Christ, His Son, we see the new covenant where Christ willingly becomes the sacrifice for us to be in covenant with God the Father. Our baptism into Christ's life starts our end of the covenant.

This is going to sound out there, but to me this covenant is like a houseplant. My actions determine whether it lives or dies even insomuch that inaction creates a choice. Every day, do I choose God, honoring His Son without whom I would perish? Do I examine myself and ask forgiveness so that I may avoid God's wrath ? Do I choose obedience to my Lord and Savior, choosing life rather death? Do I fully understand the conditions that breaking covenant would mean? I'm just beginning to understand...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Autumn Sunshine

I found this now that our brief winter sunshine has left and was reminded once again!

Told to TLC Niels


I love the autumn days, especially those filled with sunshine. Today I felt compelled to meet God at the hammock on this beautiful day. As I lay down, I realized only the tips of my toes were touched by the sun, the rest of me in shade. A little chilly for that, I thought. God asked me if I was content to lay there in partial shade. Of course not, I answered but I was recovering from the flu and didn’t move. God persisted asking why I wasn’t content and I responded that I wanted the full warmth of the sun. I could sense a smile and realized the spiritual impact of what I said. I was there for Him and the sunshine and I wasn’t content without either.

After getting up and wearily pushing the hammock completely out of the shade, I soaked in the warm rays. It was hard even in the dim autumn light to keep my face completely turned towards the sun and I kept having to turn my head. And I wondered, will I have the ability to face His Son fully in heaven, the full glory of Christ before me? By avoiding the shade and seeking Him daily, perhaps I have a chance…