Friday, April 27, 2012

Beach Bound

I took off work today and I'm heading to the beach to meet up with some of my best friends.  These girls are awesome, and I've missed them so much!  It's been almost a year since I've seen any of them and I'm so looking forward to catching up.

 (Here's the gang minus one)



This is back when we all first met- My sophomore year in college. (Waiting outside of a Shane and Shane concert- love them!)  My how we have changed!  Married, babies, moved.... but so glad that we are getting to meet up. These ladies have encouraged me so much throughout the years and I'm blessed to call them friends.



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

God's Love



God's love is meteoric,

His loyalty astronomic,

His purpose titanic,

His verdicts oceanic.

Yet in his largeness

Nothing gets lost;

Not a man, not a mouse,

Slips through the cracks.


Psalms 36:5-6 Message Bible

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Living Room Update (Part 1)

We have updated our living room a little bit since I last showed you guys around.



This is what it looked like about six months ago...

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Not a huge difference but we've added some pictures to the walls, moved "Jezebel"- our big blue chair- from the office into the living room, and added a ruffle skirt to the ottoman.  We've been doing without the rug for the past two weeks.  I took it up while I was spring cleaning to wash it and just kinda liked the openness of not having the rug down.  I'd love to get a rug that is actually the right size for the space that has some blue in it.  I'm thinking something like this:

Pottery Barn Mia Persian Rug $1,029

Too bad this one is well over $1,000 via Pottery Barn :) 

I did see a few similar rugs at Home Goods for $199, so I'm thinking of saving for one of those. 


There is more to see on the other side of the room, but it wasn't totally clean when I took this picture, so that will have to wait to another day....Part 2 to come :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Our Bedroom Update

Our little bedroom has received a couple of updates since I gave you the official tour.


We have gotten curtains, a new Nest pillow from Pottery Barn (a Christmas gift), a DIY sheet music wreath, I moved the rug from the kitchen, and I scored that big picture frame on clearance for $5 at Big Lots.  


Here is what our bedroom looked like six months ago...

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Can you tell that #1- I had the duvet cover on and #2 - I had ironed the duvet cover for that picture?  :)  The cover is very heavy and has just gotten too hot now that the weather is warming up.  So we took it off and I've just been washing our comforter every couple weeks.

I think the new additions give the room a little more life!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Plates to Hang on Wall

I mentioned several months ago that I wanted to add a plate wall in our kitchen.  I've been slowly collecting plates, but I need several more to make it look full.  

Here's the plates I have so far...


So here's my question, should I go ahead and hang the plates I have now, and add more as I get them or should I wait to have as many plates I want and hang them at once?  Any opinions?

Also, I saw this on Pinterest and thought it was an interesting way to hang plates!  I may have to put this to the test.

How to make a plate hanger using a paper clip

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Element Easter and Helicopter Egg Drop

Our church did something a little out of the ordinary for our Easter service today.  It was located at the local minor league baseball stadium.  What a blessing to see it fill up!

We started with praise and worship and then our pastor gave a great message on the Hope of the Resurrection.




Our focus was on reaching people far from God.  Our vision at Element is to see people receive Christ as their Savior and to see lives changed and transformed by Him by developing reproducing disciples.  

We were talking yesterday at our volunteer meeting about what we as a church will do to see people come to Christ.  Our pastoral staff went to a retreat recently and heard it said it perfectly...anything short of sin.  

This year we rented out the baseball stadium and hired a helicopter to drop 12,000 Easter eggs onto the field after our worship service!  

We had the field divided into two sections for different age groups...


And then the helicopter flew over dropping out candy filled Easter eggs!


Our youth were awesome and volunteered to take out huge bags  and drop out additional Easter eggs- filling in any holes the helicopter left.





The kids were so excited to get out there!  



I wish I had pictures of the eggs out on the field but it was a mad rush and I didn't have time to snap a picture!

Some may ask if we were really focused on the Resurrection, on Christ, and on the true meaning of the Easter.  Absolutely.  Maybe not in the traditional way, but we were able to present the Gospel to people today who would have never walked into the doors of the church.  Praise be to God- 36 people accepted Christ as their Savior this morning during the service!  That makes it all worth the effort.

Sometimes we have to go outside of our comfort zone, and outside of tradition.  Jesus was radical, nonconforming, and went to those who were hurting and lost.  We are called to do the same.

What will we do to reach people far from God?  Anything short of sin- even dropping 12,000 Easter eggs out of a helicopter.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Good Friday-Easter: A Walk Through Holy Week



My husband, Jeremy, has graciously offered to write the final post for the "Walk Through Holy Week" series.  We have decided to combine Good Friday, Saturday, and Easter Sunday into one post.  It is a little different than the other posts in this series, but I know you will enjoy what Jeremy has to say!

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This past Wednesday at our youth group we finished a series based on Lent and the preparation of the heart for Easter, and the resurrection of Christ. When we were finished, on our way out one of my more curious students raised his hand and asked "If Good Friday is when Christ was killed, why is good Friday?". Now, when you take into consideration that my youth group is mostly made up middle schoolers who usually don't care about the boring theological discussions I beg them to have with me, I was overjoyed at the prospect of explaining the idealolgy behind Good Friday being "good". Despite this, there was one problem. Good Friday, standing alone, is NOT good. Good Friday is the day that Jesus' earthly ministry was interrupted by His trials and torture and death. How can we, on one hand, say that Jesus is our Lord and we love Him and then on the other say it was GOOD for Him to die?

The answer lies in hope.

I often use the example of what I like to call the "THX moment" to explain how Christ displayed His grace to the world.

When you and I go see a movie at the movie theater, we eagerly sit through the previews waiting to see the movie that we paid an outrageous $9 to see. We watch about 5 previews for movies we won't see, we're told to go buy snacks 20 times (also overpriced) and we sometimes forget that we even came to see a movie. Just as soon as we give up hope that the movie we have now spent $20 on (Cortney usually makes me buy popcorn), the theater goes dark. There is a slow rumble, and the letters "THX" come up on the screen. We are soon deaf and wonder why anyone in their right mind would do this to someone about to watch and listen to a movie. We then realize that all this THX company is doing is showing off how awesome their sound system is and letting us know the movie is about to start. The key lies in the fact that this jet engine taking off in front of you lets you know that you need to turn off your phones, take your seats and shut up because the main event is about to start.

Good Friday is our "THX moment". Good Friday, and the horrible pain and suffering that Christ took on OUR behalf is our wake up call to Him. It cries out to all listening that all the healings, prophecies and parables have been for this moment in time. The moment that the Son of God and the creator of the entire universe would died an ugly disgraceful death, so that you and I would not have to.

Good Friday is good because it screams at us to put away our phones, take our seats and shut up. The show is about to start.

That show takes place the moment Christ is put on that cross, hung for all to see and told He was the "King of the Jews". He was given three painful holes, a crown of thorns, lashes on his back and a spear in His side.He was killed, taken down from the cross, and laid in a tomb. The theater is black, and you don't think there is anyway that the movie will ever begin. You lose hope.

(picture of possible location of Golgotha)

Saturday was a very lonely day. Christ is in the tomb, and no one expects any different for Sunday. We begin to wonder if the law has been fulfilled, if there ever was supposed to be a Savior for the Jews. We begin to doubt that there was ever room for hope in our lives. The theater is darker than ever, and we contemplate the idea that the projector is possibly broken, and it may be time to go home.

Sunday. The greatest day in the history of man's existence begins the same way any other would. The sun comes up on a depraved and sinful world, and we all forget that there is a God that loves us. That is until He wakes us up with a deafening roar that lets us know that our world is not hopeless, and our depravity and sinfulness is not unbeatable. We are awoken by a Christ that is risen from the tomb in the most victorious fashion! He meets us with a message of hope and redemption that cannot be turned down. He shocks us into believing that the most perfect and holy God came to Earth to be with us, and took the punishment that sin gives us. He does this so that we may take the reward that Holiness gives instead. The theater shakes, the speakers show off their power and we are not given any reason to doubt anything anymore. The show is about to begin. For the Christian, that eagerly awaited show is the life that Christ gives us in His death. The life that leads to eternity in Heaven. A life of hope.

I once heard a story of a black Church (I hope you don't mind me calling it a black Church) that had a "preach off". Two men, who believed they could excite the congregation with their preaching decided to see who could do it best. The first preacher, a young man, stood up and gave a eloquent, Biblical sermon that made people think and smile, and even stand to their feet in praise. The second man was faced with a daunting task of "outdoing" his competitor. He stood up in the pulpit, looked in his audiences face and said one phrase. He repeated it, growing in his excitement, and the congregation responded in turn. By the end of the sermon, the entire Church was bursting with excitement, tears and praise. he had obviously won the competition, and in such a simple way. The phrase he used was "Today is Friday, but Sunday's comin!".

Our hope is built on nothing less. Friday and Saturday are so grim and resemble so much of our lives. Dark and scary, but we are given the promise that a sunrise is on it's way. We can rest assured that Christ, in His highest victory, will come back to life! Because of this, we can live our lives focused on Him, and sharing His love with the world. A risen Christ means a endless love that is free and can be accepted at any time. If you have never experienced an Easter celebration in your life, prepare your heart for tomorrow. Prepare your heart for the THX moment about to happen to you. Prepare your heart for the sunrise that breaks apart the darkness. Prepare for the Lord to completely change you in every possible way. Prepare for a love that cannot be taken away. Prepare your heart for the risen Christ.







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We pray that you will each have a blessed Easter and remember the true meaning of it all.
With love,

Jeremy and Cortney


Friday, April 6, 2012

Free Francis Chan E-Books

Today only you can get free Kindle E-Editions of Francis Chan's books, Crazy Love, Forgotten God, and Erasing Hell.

Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

Erasing Hell: What God Said about Eternity, and the Things We've Made Up

What a great deal!!  I have wanted to read these books for some time, and am excited to have the chance now!

Remember, you can download Kindle for PC/Mac for free if you don't have a Kindle reader.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Holy Tuesday- Wednesday

The Tuesday and Wednesday before Jesus died on the cross, He spent a lot of time in the temple teaching the people.  Yesterday we learned that He turned the tables of the money changers inside the temple and that He began teaching the people.

Below is a diagram of the temple mount at the time of Jesus.




Today the temple mount looks like this:





When Jesus returns to Jerusalem the next day (Tuesday), and again begins teaching the people, He is approached by the chief priests and scribes (Mark 11:27).  Yesterday we observed that they were displeased with His actions and now they begin to question Him regarding His authority to teach and do such things.  In classic Jesus fashion, He responds not with a straightforward answer but with other questions and begins speaking to them in parables (Mark 12:1).  He continues to teach in the temple on Wednesday as well.

He speaks about the parable of the tenants, paying taxes to Caesar, is asked about the Resurrection, and the great commandment.  The Sadducees and Pharisees were attempting to "trip up" Jesus, and  they beginning plotting to kill Jesus Wednesday night.

Some believe that Mary anoints Jesus with precious nard on Tuesday of Holy Week, although this is sometimes disputed.

It is important to read the things that Jesus is teaching during these final days of His earthly ministry.  He knows He only has a few more short days, and these are His "final words" of sorts to the people in the temple.  We can learn much by studying the text of these teachings!




Monday, April 2, 2012

Holy Monday

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There are two events that we know of from Scripture that occurred the Monday before Jesus rose from the grave:
1.  Jesus curses a fig tree 
2. Jesus cleanses the temple

Yesterday we left off with Jesus returning to Bethany for the night after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  Monday Jesus returns to the city of Jerusalem.  As He walks there with His disciples, they pass a fig tree.  Seeing that the fig tree had no fruit, He cursed it and the tree withered.

Mark 11:12-14 recounts:
"12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it."

 From a distance, Jesus could see that the tree was green with leaves. the appearance of green leaves in bloom would indicate that green figs were already growing. The tree had the appearance of bearing fruit, but didn't.  But when Jesus came to the tree and saw that it had no fruit, He cursed it.  This is symbolic of the hypocrisy of all who have the appearance that they are bearing fruit, but in fact are not.  Here it is specifically referring to the Jewish people who have turned away from God into empty rituals instead of showing true fruit of worship. (which would have no doubt have been clearly seen during this Passover week).  Jesus' cursing of the fig tree symbolizes the coming destruction of the city of Jerusalem and Israel.  

Jesus continues to make His way, with His disciples, to the temple.

Matthew 21:12-13 says, "And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.  And He said to them, It is written, 'MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER'; but you are making it a ROBBERS' DEN.".


In order to fully understand Jesus cleansing the temple, we first need to understand how the temple system worked.

First of all, taxes for the temple could not be paid in any currency other than the Jewish coinage (the shekel) Therefore, all Roman/other currency had to be exchanged for Jewish coins.  There would have been men sitting outside of the temple exchanging people's coins.  However, often the cost for exchanges was gauged and exchange rates were not equal in order for the money changers to increase profits for themselves.

Near this same area, there would have been areas of people selling animals to be sacrificed.  Only perfect animals could be sacrificed in the temple.  Perhaps a family could not bring a lamb with them the distance they had to travel to Jerusalem.  Or the priests didn't "approve" as perfect the animal they had brought from home.  People could buy  "pre-approved" lambs, doves, pigeons, etc. at the temple.  The prices for these animals could be exponentially greater than their worth.

This would have taken place in the Royal Stoa- the red roofed area in the picture below.


This is at the Southern entrance of the temple and this is the area where all "business" of the temple took place.  It was were money was exchanged, animals sold, and where the Sanhedrin met.

When we were in Israel we had the privilege of visiting the southern stairs, (the large, long staircase in the middle of the picture above).  There is little debate that it is from this staircase that Jesus entered the temple mount.

Here are some pictures of the southern stairs and a short video clip that I took while I was there.




video


As Jesus comes into the temple and sees the disgrace of these practices in His Father's dwelling place, He becomes angry at what is taking place, and takes action to show His disapproval.

Matthew 21:12-13 says, "And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.  And He said to them, It is written, 'MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER'; but you are making it a ROBBERS' DEN.".

The people around were grateful for what took place, children again began shouting "Hosanna" and the blind and lame came to Him to be healed.  (Matthew 21:14-16)  He began teaching them there in the temple.

But the religious teachers were obviously displeased with His actions and were indignant towards him.  However they were afraid to do anything at this point, because they feared a riot from the people.   (Mark 11:18)

Jesus later leaves the temple and returns to Bethany for the night.
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If you would like to study this information in greater detail, a great site that I found related to this topic is here

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday- A Walk Through Holy Week



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Today we celebrate Palm Sunday- the Sunday before Jesus arose from the dead.  This is the day that He entered the city of Jerusalem on a donkey and the people cried Hosanna.

Before entering into the city of Jerusalem, Jesus had been staying in the small village of Bethany, which was located about 2 miles from Jerusalem, on the eastern side of the Mount of Olives.  (The Mount of Olives directly faces the city of Jerusalem.  Below is an aeriel view of the modern day Mount of Olives and Jerusalem.  The temple mount, where the Dome of the Rock is located today, can be seen directly north of the Mt of Olives in the picture.



Jesus often stayed with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus while He was visiting Bethany. (Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-44; 12:1-3).  We know from Scripture that Mary anointed Jesus after He had arrived in Bethany on Friday or Saturday before His triumphal entry (John 12:2-8).  It is very plausible that Jesus and His disciples stayed with the family during this time.

According to John 12:12, large crowds had come to Israel for the Passover feast.  According to the Old Testament law, all males in Israel were required to travel to Jerusalem 3 times a year for feasts- the feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover), the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Booths.  (Deut. 16:16).  Because of this, there would have been a very large crowd in Jerusalem at the time of the events of Holy week. Men and families from all over the land were traveling to celebrate the Passover Feast in the Holy city.

Jesus traveled out of Bethany into the neighboring town of Bethphage, about one mile from the city of Jerusalem.  It is here that He instructs two disciples to go into the village, and that there they would find a donkey and a colt tied up.  The colt was to have never been ridden before.  They were to bring them to Jesus, telling anyone who asked that the Lord needed them.  The disciples did as they were instructed and Jesus mounted the colt and began to ride into the city.

It may seem strange that Jesus would request a donkey to enter the city on and why the crowds would react in such a triumphant fashion.  It is interesting to note that although the donkey was a domesticated animal during the time used for work purposes,  in the days of the Old Testament, the donkey was also considered a royal beast. According to rabbinic law, the king’s donkey should never been ridden by anyone else.  

In 1 Kings 1:32-40, David has Solomon ride on David’s own mule to announce and anoint Solomon as the new king of Israel.  In ancient Near Eastern text, we find similar examples of donkeys being used in ceremonial entries and as an act of kingship.  As Jesus enters into the city on the back of a donkey, He is announcing Himself as the Messiah, the Son of David, the eternal King.  Zechariah 9:9, is quoted in Matthew and John as having been fulfilled by Jesus’ entry into the city on a donkey.  The prophecy states, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt.”

Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is triumphal because of the implication it has.  He was announcing that He was the King- and the people, who had heard of His many miracles, were receiving Him as such by waving palm branches and laying their cloaks on the ground before Him.  The waving of palm branches was symbolic of victory over one’s enemies.  The laying down of their cloaks represented their submission to Him as King.  (2 Kings 9:13).  They shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David”.  Hosanna is a Hebrew word meaning “O Save or Save us”.  By using the term “Son of David”, they were recognizing Jesus as the promised Messiah who is called by the same name.  The crowds understood that Jesus was announcing Himself as king, but He wouldn’t be the king they were expecting or wanting.  The people wanted a warrior king, a Messiah who would save them from the Roman influence on the country, who would protect their nation.  Little did they know or understand that Jesus was the King of kings and the Savior of all mankind.  In just a few short days, these same people would no longer be crying out to their Messiah, but crying to crucify Him.

Below are some photos of the Palm Sunday road, the one on which Jesus rode into the city on the back of a donkey.

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In the picture below (not my picture), the wall that runs diagonally across is the Palm Sunday road.  This photo shows the road going down from the Mount of Olives into the Kidron Valley, and the road would then go up into the city of Jerusalem (where the photo is taken from).


Click on photo above for source


Luke 19:41 tells us that as Jesus drew near to the city, He wept over it.  He knew that there would come a day when the city would be destroyed.  Below is a picture of the city of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, where Jesus would have seen the city from.

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What love His tears show for this city and for His people.

After entering into the city, Jesus went into the temple and looked around at everything (Mark 11:11)  We do not know exactly what He did, but it was already getting late and He and His disciples went back to Bethany for the night.


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Tomorrow I will share about what Jesus did the following Monday after His triumphal entry.  I hope the description and pictures today helped you to more fully understand and appreciate the significance of Palm Sunday.  It is my prayer that you will continue to prepare your heart for Easter as we celebrate together the death, burial and resurrection of our Eternal King.


*The was originally posted in April 2011- see original post here
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