Do you want to know one of my favorite things about Easter? After celebrating my risen Savior, I love that Easter takes place (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere!) in the spring. The spring is a time of new growth, thawing out from the coldness of winter, cleaning, opening windows, welcoming longer days, spotting baby animals in the wild, and stepping into a sense of fresh beginnings. For me, spring walks hand-in-hand with Easter to represent the core of our faith: resurrection. Jesus rose from the dead to bring us new life.

But I love that God didn’t stop with just one resurrection. We serve a God who is in the business of resurrection.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my worship pastor say, “Church, lift up your hands!” Raising your hands to the Lord is an act of worship, respect, and surrender. It’s one way we can beautifully and intimately express our love to the Father. And outside of worship, I believe raising your hands to the Lord is a powerful declaration of faith over any situation in which we find ourselves.

Interestingly enough, one of the first mentions of raising hands as an act of faith in the Bible was about raising someone else’s hands.

The Gift Of Jesus

Dec 25, 2021

When we talk about the gift of Jesus, I think it’s so easy to talk about the gifts Jesus gives. And of course—that’s natural! We can’t physically see Him or feel the warmth of His hugs, so we do experience His love by reflecting on what He’s done for us. But the thought that has me challenged is that my love for Jesus and my longing for Jesus can’t come from what He does for me. It comes from searching the Scriptures to learn His heart. It comes from pausing to hear His still, small voice. It comes from the peace of simply sitting in His presence. It comes from the gift of knowing Jesus, Himself.

Gratitude. What a nuanced word. As we approach the holiday season, I think it becomes easier to remember gratitude: the smells of fall, pumpkin everything, family and friends gathering together, making travel plans. For me anyway, thankfulness tends to naturally rise up in my heart for those blessings that become a little more obvious during this season. But I do believe that gratitude is a nuanced word, meaning there are more levels to it than meets the eye. It’s easy to express gratitude when the season is intentionally reminding me to do so! And it’s easy to express it when the blessings are obvious. But what about a lifestyle of gratitude that arises from simply recognizing the blessings all around us?

I believe the Lord longs for relationship instead of religion. I think it’s easy to hear that statement and think, “Of course, I know that!” Yet so often, I find myself walking around carrying feelings of guilt that I didn’t sit down, open my Bible, read three chapters, journal a page and a half, and pray for 20 minutes before going about my day. You know what I mean? None of these acts are wrong in and of themselves! But if any of those acts are done out of a feeling of obligation instead of a desire to engage in relationship, I’ve crossed the line into religion, and my life begins to follow a rhythm of duty instead of freedom. I fully believe that God can do anything, meaning that He can still speak to me even when I’m engaging in religion out of a sense of obligation. But I also believe there is deeper intimacy, freedom, and pure rest that I get to experience when I put the rhythm of religion aside and do things to engage in a rhythm of relationship with the Father.