A Lesson From Palm Sunday


Palm BranchYesterday was Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday commemorates the day of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, while the crowds were shouting, “Hosanna”, and “Blessed be the King!”

Jesus was coming into town as quite the celebrity. They knew of His miracles, they knew of the things He had done, and they knew of the words He had spoken about the Kingdom. The only issue is that they thought He was talking about establishing an earthly Kingdom. In their minds Jesus was coming to be their earthly king, to remove them from under the oppression of the Romans.

They were searching for a political Jesus.

And they were disappointed, because Jesus was not about establishing an earthly Kingdom. He didn’t desire to be a political powerhouse for their cause, but something greater.

And that hasn’t changed.

But that’s still what we are looking for- an earthly kingdom.

I am convinced that many American church people are seeking a political Jesus, one that will lead America back to “greatness.” It seems as thought many of the things Christians are pushing for are more American than Christian. Of issue would be that Jesus isn’t interested in setting up an earthly kingdom, but an eternal one.

Let us learn a lesson from this first Palm Sunday- we should celebrate Jesus as King, for indeed He is, but let us not try to establish Jesus as our political leader, to build our earthly kingdom.

He wasn’t about that, and He still isn’t.

Let’s live for His Kingdom, for His glory, for His name.

 

 

photo credit: Thomas Rousing via photopin cc

Cosmic Conflict


Modern Warfare

I love to teach. More than that, I love to teach about Jesus. Yesterday I had the honor of teaching at Crossroads Walton on the subject of Spiritual Warfare. I had a couple of people ask me for the link to listen to the sermon, so I wanted to do that, and also give the outline in the hopes that these words might speak to someone. I changed up the outline some to help make it more “readable” for you…hopefully it will be clear enough for you to follow along my line of thinking. 

I was excited to teach through this text and God used this text to speak into my life in large ways. I am prayerful that He will do the same for you. 

You can listen to the talk via our website, iTunes, etc. Here is the link for that: Cosmic Conflict Sermon

“Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.”

-Ephesians 6:10-13

Recognize the fight. 

If you are not aware of the fight going on around you, it doesn’t mean there is not a battle, it just means you are losing! Here are some verses that describe sufferings, fights, races, etc:

John 16:33

Hebrews12:1-2

2 Timothy 4:7

We were never promised an easy life, in fact Jesus promised just the opposite. He promised us that we would face tribulation for His name’s sake. He promised us that the world would hate us because of Him. (That doesn’t mean the world should hate us because we are jerks…but more on that later).

We should remember the type of battle that this is. It isn’t a battle for political office. It isn’t a battle over land, or kingdoms, but a battle for souls. It’s a battle that matters not for 5, 10, or even 100 years- but a battle that matters for eternity.

Realize your need.

Continuing our line of thinking about a soldier – what happens before a soldier goes to boot camp?

There are scores of assessments and tests to see their strengths and weaknesses right? It makes logical sense that there must be an assessment of what we bring to the table for the battle we are in. 

You know what positive benefit you bring to the table?

Nothing.

Ephesians 2:1-2

Romans 3:10-18

This is a significant issue. (And that’s a significant understatement).

You cannot manage the fight on your own. You need God’s strength. 

In this we see the beauty of the Gospel. That it is not our strength that we rely on, but rather His strength. 

2 Corinthians 12:9

It is His strength that allow you to fight.

No friendly fire.

Being a good soldier means that you don’t shoot those who are not your enemies. Friendly fire is extremely frowned upon in the armed services. We do not battle against flesh and blood. 

Christian people tend to get outraged easily. It doesn’t seem to take much for the Christian culture to get upset and start shooting  (and shouting) aimlessly.

A soldier wouldn’t last very long if they responded the way that many Christians do.

What does this mean? Your enemy is not politicians, World Vision, homosexuals, government, President Obama, Democrats, Republicans, rich people, poor people, or any other kinds of people.

If they’re not our enemy how should we treat them?

We should love them.

Matthew 22:36-40

We should lay down our lives for them.

1 John 3:16-19

Why is it so important?

John 13:35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

1 John 4:19-20 says that our love for God is proven by the love we have for our brothers.

Know your foe 

Our battle is against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against spiritual forces of evil. This foe is Satan.

He’s deadly: 1 Peter 5:8-9

He’s a liar: John 8:44

It’s a spiritual enemy we face, in a spiritual battle. Therefore, we must pay more attention to the spiritual aspects of our lives to have a chance of being victorious in the battle. We wouldn’t send out soldiers in to the battlefield without making sure they are prepared for battle- that would be utterly ridiculous. Why then do we think we have a chance of fighting a spiritual battle without any focus to our spiritual life?

Verse 13 wraps up this section by telling us this is why you must take up the FULL armor OF GOD. You must do it, you must be prepared so that you can stand against Satan.

Application

Some of you had no idea you were even in a battle. You need to wake up and engage.

Some of you have been trying to fight in your own strength. Let me tell you- that is EXHAUSTING and you will not make it. You need to come to the cross and start relying on His strength.

Some of you have been fighting the wrong people- you’ve been fighting the ones you need to be loving. You need to repent, and possibly seek out some people and ask their forgiveness. 

Some of you have not been giving any attention to your spiritual readiness, yet you wonder why you feel defeated. You need to get serious.

Sunshine

Feeling the Sunshine Love


SOARD LogoAs you guys know we spent a little time hanging out at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta recently (as our luck would have it we were there for Brandi’s birthday which was way more expensive than flying her to New York and staying at the Ritz, but that’s a story for another day).

On Friday (Brandi’s birthday) we had a couple of visitors- Valerie Alino and one of her friends, affectionately nicknamed “The Latino Rockstars”, stopped by to spread some love and cheer. We know Val and her friends through Sunshine On A Ranney Day (SOARD)- the world’s greatest charity who built a room for Karson on to our house. It was the greatest thing- they love all of the families they have done makeovers for- and consider them all family! Because of their love for the families they wanted to reach out to us while we were in the Hospital and love on us. They brought us some snacks and balloons, but most of all they brought us love. They reminded us that they don’t view their makeover families as “causes” to help, but family to love on.

We are blessed to know Pete and Holly, the founders of SOARD, and their amazing team of volunteers, but more importantly we are blessed to be part of the SOARD family!

photo credit: Hamed Saber via photopin cc

From a Mama’s Heart


medium_586305185There are so many things that have been running around in our heads over the past several days, some of which I plan on writing about in the coming days, but Brandi wanted to share something from her heart about Karson. Read on…

So, blogging isn’t really my strong suit which is why I generally leave it to Kristopher. However, I really wanted to share some things with you all.

I want to start by thanking all of you for your prayers, messages, groceries, meals, and help with the boys. I’m not sure how families go through a crisis like we experienced without family and friends to help support them. I’m grateful for each of you and the love that you have poured out on our family.

Another thing that I want to share with you is what I think you should expect to see from me in the near future. We are learning a new normal for Karson and our family and that is going to take time. I have been dealing with bouts of anxiety that at times are almost debilitating. Thankfully, I am surrounded by many who are continually speaking truth into my life. However, there are times that even discussing Karson and what happened with him causes me anxiety to the point that breathing is difficult. So, if you have questions and want specifics I ask that you go to Kristopher. I don’t mind you asking how he’s feeling but please don’t ask me for details about his seizures and hospital stay. I hope that this is something that in the future is better controlled but for now this is what I think is best. Please don’t ask the other boys about any of this either as they are each dealing in their own way and discussing it with someone other than Kristopher or I is not in their best interest.

Also, it is highly unlikely that I will be letting Karson leave my sight, aside from him being with Kristopher, for the very near future. Please don’t be offended but instead remember that this is a new normal for us and it is going to take me some time to adjust. Right now I need to be near him or I need to know that his daddy is right with him. This is as much for my peace of mind as it is to assure that Karson is comfortable while he is adjusting to his new medicine and way of life. This is very scary for all of us and I know that each of you understand that.

Lots of you have asked what you can do. My answer is to continue to cover us in prayer. This is not something we will be dealing with for a few days or even a few weeks. This is our new life. Pray for Kar, that he will continue to respond to the meds and that his body will continue to gain energy as he recoups from his hospital stay. Pray that Kristopher and I know what is the best for him and the other boys. And lastly, pray for the other 3 boys as they adjust to the new ways of life for us.

Finally, I want to share how God has worked in me through this. I was absolutely petrified when Karson had his seizure at home Thursday. However, God gave me the ability to handle the situation the best way I knew how and to keep it together until I could get the help we needed. Since that day the anxiety has been hanging like a dark cloud over me. Like I shared, at times it was debilitating to the point that me focusing on breathing was all I could handle. I shared this with a few of you and I know I have been covered in prayer specifically for peace and many of you have spoken truth to me. However, I was still battling extreme moments of anxiety up until yesterday afternoon. Kristopher took Kar to run some errands and Kristopher’s mom was watching the other boys so I could try and rest. I was laying down and the “what ifs” along with the anxiety attempted to take over. I asked God why He wouldn’t allow the peace in my life that I along with many of my friends were asking for. I reminded Him that I have been praying and searching scripture with no real results. Laying there He pushed back on me and told me that while I had done those things I had yet to CHOOSE peace. My first thought was to argue but after thinking for a minute I decided that maybe He was right. I asked for peace, I read scripture about peace but I didn’t choose peace. Choosing peace means relinquishing control. Control that I didn’t really have anyway. So, I decided to choose peace. I finished the day a little less anxious than the days before and I slept better last night than the nights before. Will I be anxious again? It’s very likely but I know now that peace is my choice. God provides it, I have to choose to rest in it.

Thank you for your prayers and thank you for the love you’ve shown my family. I am grateful to have you in our life as we walk this new road.

Brandi

photo credit: kudaker via photopin cc

An Update on my Kar


Hey Guys,

Many of you are aware that Karson is in the hospital following a seizure Thursday afternoon. You have been praying for him, and reaching out to us offering your prayers and support. We are so grateful for that love, and especially your prayers. We wanted to let you guys know what’s going on- and it was simply easiest and most efficient to do it here rather than try and text, message, call, each one of you.

Yesterday was a good day for Karson. After being on IV fluids overnight he was definitely more himself. We were able to get him to eat some applesauce, and then around dinner time he ate a good bit and actually drank some chocolate milk. He had an EEG yesterday afternoon to try and check what might be going on to cause his seizures. He was not himself during that- because he was super cooperative! (If you know Karson you know that he is not known for his cooperation). Here is a picture of him during the test- we were laughing at his personality showing as he was chewing on the straw…some of the time he was laughing and clapping too.IMG_6613 IMG_6614 IMG_6615

All things were pointing towards us being able to be discharged sometime today mid day (Saturday). However, we had a pretty rough night. Karson had two different seizures last night which was pretty scary for Bran and I. The hospital staff as always were amazing (have we mentioned how much we love Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta?) We have already met with one of the neurologists this morning and the charge nurse is Karson’s nurse for the day. They want him to be seizure free for 24 hours, not have any adverse reactions to the meds, and be “himself” before they’ll talk about us leaving. We are so grateful for their desire to pursue the cause of these seizures and to take the best care of Kar.

Brandi and I are good- worried, concerned, but good. The boys are being taken care of so they’re good as well. What we need most is your prayers. Please pray for wisdom and discernment for the doctors and other team members caring for Karson. Please pray for the meds to work to control his seizures. Please pray for the cause of his seizures to be found. Please pray for clarity of mind and wisdom for Brandi and I.

We love you and are grateful for you.

Here is the verses I have been dwelling on and constantly praying:

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
-Philippines 4:6-7

Living for His Glory

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