From my place in line, I watched the roller coaster slowly making its way to the top of the first drop. The many thrill seekers strapped in their seats were actually lying on their backs, their pale faces staring up at the stars.
From that angle, they couldn’t even see when the coaster crested the top, but they knew. Suddenly they were sitting up and, in a millisecond, face down, plummeting to the ground. If they lived through the first drop, there was more fun to be had.
What had I gotten myself into? Was there a way out of this line? I must be crazy. My stomach churned with nervous excitement. Part of me could hardly wait to get on. Another part of me wanted to run screaming from the line. [Read more…]
“When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was being baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you, I am well pleased.’” Luke 3: 21-22 (NIV)
The story of Jesus’ baptism in Luke 3:21-22 establishes a foundation of how He would serve, sacrifice and surrender to God in His ministry to come.
If we look around us, sacrifice isn’t hidden away. It’s there even in what we might see as insignificant moments. In the Gospel of Matthew, John the Baptist claims Jesus should be the one to baptize him instead of the other way around. But the King steps back to place Himself behind those who’d lined up for baptism- those ready to embrace a new beginning with God are put before God in the flesh.
Jesus obeys, laying down His will and surrendering His all, to be sacrificed for all. The reminder of sacrifice and surrender begs a question from all of us: What if our schedule, our time, responsibilities, needs- even our desires and dreams- what if they all took a backseat to our relationship with God?
What kingdoms am I willing to give up in order to make Him King of my life?
If we look at Luke 3:21-22 what stands out?
The act of sacrifice is to give of something we adore in this life- for a will and a purpose greater than our own. God sacrificed for us, giving the world His Son, and Jesus sacrificed for the world, surrendering His will and offering His life.
The Gospels document Jesus’ baptism, but Luke offers us the only clear indicator that the first thing Jesus did to embark upon ministry was to make Himself last. Instead of taking a step forward to lead and model obedience through being baptized FIRST, Jesus instead took a step back…to SACRIFICE and SURRENDER.
When we surrender to Jesus, we give back our lives- including the desire to hold onto the adored things of this life.
The word “when” in these verses indicated a place in time- meaning “just after”- establishing the foundation of faith through authentic sacrifice and surrender. Other translations of Luke 3:21-22 give the same indication that Jesus held back, placing himself last by allowing others to be baptized before Him.
So what can we take away from these verses?
Jesus was willing to sacrifice displaying what it means to put oneself last in servant leadership, he models surrender in baptism and He seeks God first with prayer at a pivotal moment.
To truly be set free from the enslavement of sin, we willingly make ourselves last. That means taking an authentic look at what we’re slaves to and what we are willing to lay down to find freedom in Christ. We SACRIFICE and SURRENDER- just as Jesus did for us.
What would it look like if we really needed the Word of God in a way that isn’t a chore but a gift with every new day, and we’re willing to sacrifice to do what it says?
KRISTY CAMBRON is an award-winning author of Christian fiction, including her bestselling debut The Butterfly and the Violin, and an author of Bible studies, including the Verse Mapping series. She’s a Women’s Ministry Leader at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY, and a passionate storyteller who travels to speak at ministry events across the country, encouraging women to experience a deeper life in the Word through verse mapping. Her work has been named to Publishers Weekly Religion & Spirituality TOP 10, Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books, RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, and received 2015 & 2017 INSPY Award nominations. Kristy holds a degree in Art History/Research Writing, and has 15 years of experience in education and leadership development for a Fortune-100 Corporation, working in partnership with such companies as the Disney Institute, IBM/Kenexa, and Gallup. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, and can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good read.
November is the month of Thanksgiving and a time to give thanks. This is a month when we concentrate on what we must be thankful for. So, what better time to look at a popular Thanksgiving song?
Come, Ye Thankful People, Come is a harvest hymn that was written in 1844. The song was written by Henry Alford.
In the days when most people survived off the land, they understood the importance of the harvest. There was an urgency to safely gather the harvest before the winter storms rolled in.
The first stanza is written to be an invitation to give thanks to God. The second and third stanzas are a commentary on the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, as recorded in the gospel of Matthew. The last stanza is a prayer for the Lord’s return.
Henry Alford was born on October 7, 1810, in London. At sixteen years of age, he felt the presence of God and gave his life to Christ. He followed in the footsteps of his ancestors and became a clergyman and was a prominent Greek scholar.
He was the author of forty-eight hymns, wrote many songs and published a hymnbook. At the age of 47, he was appointed Dean of Canterbury, a position he held until his death on January 12, 1871.
The lyrics were set to the tune, St. George’s, Windsor written by George J. Elvey. The tune first appeared with Alford’s text in the Anglican hymnal, Hymns Ancient, and Modern.
George Elvey was born on March 27, 1916, and served as organist at the Royal Chapel at Windsor Castle for 47 years. In 1871, he was knighted by Queen Victoria. He died on December 9, 1893.
My mama always told me . . . . you will have many friends in your life, but only a very few will be your friend for life. Now, my mama was not the most sophisticated, educated, or accomplished woman in the world. She was an ordinary, hard-working, heartbroken woman who grew up during the Great Depression and lived life right on the edge of destitution. She was oftentimes unkind and angry, and she frequently used words that were hurtful to a little girl’s heart. But I have learned over the years that her unhappiness was a result of having so many obstacles and challenges in her life. But she was right about a lot of things. Friendship is one of them.
I remember girl friends from my youth, girls I played with in the woods behind the little lake cottage where I grew up. I remember friends from high school, several of whom I remain in contact with even after all these years. I remember a few friends from my early college days, and I remember many friends from all of the years of being a young wife and mother, through the years of kids growing up, going to school, off to college, getting married, and having their own babies. And I remember friends from church, community, and neighborhood that God brings into our lives over the years. They are all treasured memories and I am so grateful for their presence in my life.
But life has changed in so many ways over the past 20 years, with the opportunities to connect with new people all over the world and the open door to discover new friends from all around the world via the technological “miracle” of the internet. This open door, in my life, has proven to be a gift that has led to some very special friends, most of whom I have never “met” in “real life,” with the very real possibility that I never will. The amazing thing about all of this (in my opinion) is that friendships can be discovered, nurtured, and maintained even across the miles, and across the years. This is one of the “miracles” that God has brought into my life.
Katherine is one of my dearest friends, even though we have never met in person. But we have talked on the phone many times over the years and we have been supportive and helpful to one another in many different situations. Right now is one of those times, and now you have the opportunity to discover the miracle of friendship, too. Please visit Katherine’s Corner and read her blog post “How to Make a Miracle by Writing a Blog Post,” and see how God can use YOU to be a blessing to others. Even when we are facing challenging times in our own lives, it is such an amazing opportunity to do something so small that means so much to another person. Small miracles are truly miracles, and this is no exception!
Perhaps you, too, are in a place where a word of encouragement, an act of kindness, or even just a simple, small gift could make a big difference to you. Is that where you are today? I know I’ve been there many times in my life, and God always brings someone along at just the right time to remind me that I am not alone. Let me know how God has given you an opportunity to reach out and touch the life of another pilgrim on this journey of life . . . . and also let me know if you need a word of encouragement today. Remember, we are all in this together and our love, support, and kindness for one another makes a HUGE difference. Friendship, no matter how God brings it into your life, truly is a miracle!