Freedom for the sons and daughters

Like the sun whose dawning brings in the light;

The Kings coming changes all history - 

bursting forth suddenly and lighting up the sky.

Jesus said of His people:

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden; neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on a stand and share the light with the entire house. In the same way: let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven."

Ignite the spark and fan the flame ...

for it is through the fire that we are made like pure gold.

 

I pray today: for freedom for the songs and daughters:

 

To sail like a wave upon the water

to run like the wind

to know the touch of our Holy Father

to trust again

 

to spin like the pure snow of winter

to dance and be free

to find the one that is closer than a brother

 

to see You for who You are:

our Holy, Righteous, and Mighty King who Reigns over all creation

Yet, You call us ... friend.

 

Yes, I ask for wisdom for the sons and daughters

 

Lord, give new revelation to us all.

 

For You are Holy ... Amen!

 

6 questions to help you understand Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday. We often notice that many religious events people do not understand. Amy and I both grew up not participating in Ash Wednesday services. Through our travels and time in different churches, we have learned that great beauty is found within this celebration and we wanted to shed some light into the beauty of Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. 

Question: Why do people receive the ashes?

Answer: Following the example of the Nine vites, who did penance in sackcloth and ashes, our foreheads are marked with ashes to humble our hearts and reminds us that life passes away on Earth. We remember this when we are told: ”Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.” Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.

The distribution of ashes comes from a ceremony of ages past. Christians who had committed grave faults performed public penance. On Ash Wednesday, the Bishop blessed the hair shirts which they were to wear during the forty days of penance, and sprinkled over them ashes made from the palms from the previous year. Then, while the faithful recited the Seven Penitential Psalms, the penitents were turned out of the church because of their sins -- just as Adam, the first man, was turned out of Paradise because of his disobedience. The penitents did not enter the church again until Maundy Thursday after having won reconciliation by the toil of forty days' penance and sacramental absolution. Later, all Christians, whether public or secret penitents, came to receive ashes out of devotion. In earlier times, the distribution of ashes was followed by a penitential procession.

Question: When is Ash Wednesday?

Answer: Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent in the Western Christian calendar, directly following Shrove (Fat) Tuesday. Occurring 46 days before Easter, it is a moveable feast that can fall as early as February 4 and as late as March 10. According to the canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus Christ spent 40 days fasting in the desert, where he endured temptation by Satan. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of this 40-day liturgical period of prayer and fasting or abstinence. Of the 46 days until Easter, six are Sundays. As the Christian designation of Sabbath, Sundays are not included in the fasting period and are instead "feast" days during Lent.

Question: Where does Ash Wednesday get it’s name? 

Answer: Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes (formally called The Imposition of Ashes) on the foreheads of adherents as a celebration and reminder of human mortality, and as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. The ashes used are typically gathered from the burning of the palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday.

Question: What is the History of Ash Wednesday?

Answer: During the time of early Church Father Tertullian, ashes and sackcloths were used as severe penance due to grave sin. Ashes, mixed with sackcloths represented a gruesome image of penance and humiliation; a form of penitence associated with those who violated Canon Law in the early church. Since this time, the public imposition of ashes sometime 40 days prior to Easter has been observed in the Roman Catholic Church later revised by the widespread granting of plenary indulgences. Accordingly, the Anglican Church also maintained the same pious Lenten custom since its inception. In addition, the Anglican faithful subscribe to their own Lenten daily devotional while Lutheran Christians after the Reformation temporarily refrained from the practice, and later reinstated the imposition of ashes in the mid-20th century. After the ecumenical dialogues ushered by the Second Vatican Council, the practice has also become a standard practice in the Methodist Church. In addition to these liturgical denominations, some Anabaptist and Reformed churches, which abandoned the practice after the Reformation, now also observe this day, which has become widespread in much of Christendom. 

The Pope, as the Bishop of Rome traditionally makes a trip via the processional route between the Church of Saint Anselm to the Basilica of Santa Sabina on this religious day. The Pontiff customarily does not receive marked ashes on his brow, rather have them sprinkled on his forehead as is a pious custom among Roman clerics and bishops.

Question: What do we do on Ash Wednesday?

Answer: Every church does things a little different. In the Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday is observed by fasting, abstinence from meat, and repentance—a day of contemplating one's transgressions. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer also designates Ash Wednesday as a day of fasting. In the medieval period, Ash Wednesday was the required annual day of penitential confession occurring after fasting and the remittance of the tithe. In other Christian denominations these practices are optional, with the main focus being on repentance. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 (whose health enables them to do so) are permitted to consume only one full meal, which may be supplemented by two smaller meals, which together should not equal the full meal. Some Catholics will go beyond the minimum obligations demanded by the Church and undertake a complete fast or a bread and water fast. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are also days of abstinence from meat (mammals and fowl), as are all Fridays during Lent. Some Catholics continue fasting throughout Lent, as was the Church's traditional requirement, concluding only after the celebration of the Easter Vigil. As the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday comes the day after Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), the last day of the Carnival season. Dutch tradition holds the custom to eat salted herring on Ash Wednesday to conclude the carnival in the Netherlands.

Question: Is Ash Wednesday Biblical?

Answer: Ashes were used in ancient times to express mourning. Dusting oneself with ashes was the penitent's way of expressing sorrow for sins and faults. An ancient example of one expressing one's penitence is found in Job 42:3–6. Job says to God: "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (vv. 5–6, KJV) The prophet Jeremiah, for example, calls for repentance this way: "O daughter of my people, gird on sackcloth, roll in the ashes" (Jer 6:26). The prophet Daniel recounted pleading to God this way: "I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes" (Daniel 9:3). Just prior to the New Testament period, the rebels fighting for Jewish independence, the Maccabees, prepared for battle using ashes: "That day they fasted and wore sackcloth; they sprinkled ashes on their heads and tore their clothes" (1 Maccabees 3:47; see also 4:39). Other examples are found in several other books of the Bible including, Numbers 19:9, 19:17, Jonah 3:6, Matthew 11:21, and Luke 10:13, and Hebrews 9:13. Ezekiel 9 also speaks of a linen-clad messenger marking the forehead of the city inhabitants that have sorrow over the sins of the people. All those without the mark are destroyed. It marks the start of a 43-day period which is an allusion to the separation of Jesus in the desert to fast and pray. During this time he was tempted. Matthew 4:1–11, Mark 1:12–13, and Luke 4:1–13.[31] While not specifically instituted in the Bible text, the 40-day period of repentance is also analogous to the 40 days during which Moses repented and fasted in response to the making of the Golden calf. (Jews today follow a 40-day period of repenting in preparation for and during the High Holy Days from Rosh Chodesh Elul to Yom Kippur.)

In Victorian England, theaters refrained from presenting costumed shows on Ash Wednesday, so they provided other entertainments.

How to Experience True Worship

Worship must be a lifestyle and everyone can experience it. It will easily be a part of your every day routine when you remember these four things.

1.Commit Your Life to Jesus Christ

The life of praise begins here, with the confession of your mouth that "Jesus is Lord." This is daily. You must profess that Jesus is Lord of your life. "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved" - Romans 10:9

2.Confess Sin and Repent
Sin, including prideful self-reliance, separates us from God and from His love and protection.

 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. - John 1:9

3.Praise God Anyway

Despite your present feelings, it is important to offer praise to God, what Hebrews 13:15 calls a “sacrifice" of praise. Despite our feelings or circumstances, God often asks us to take the first step, especially when He is trying to help us grow in our faith. This means that many times it will not be easy. Even David had to command himself to worship. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. - Hebrews 13:15

4.Join Together With Other Believers

Sharing your struggles with another brother or sister in Christ is not only a good idea (Ecclesiastes. 4:9-10), it is commanded (James 5:16). Uniting with other believers in regular worship is also a key to being able to praise God. "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. - Hebrews 10:24-25

I believe that as we pursue God that He will take delight in us and open His windows of mercy over us. He will show us more of Him as we dig deeper into our relationship with Him. Imagine if we as a people learned to accept our place in worshipping Christ. When we line up with our destiny we will see signs, miracles, and wonders... That is His promise and I choose to believe! Be Encouraged!

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-Jeremi Richardson 

Keeping Worship Beyond Sunday Morning!

Below is the first part of an article written by Jeremi. Worship with us!

Worship goes far beyond our circumstances. Our preferences and corporate settings are important but they are not worship, they are the medium that help to get us to that point in our spiritual journey. Worship is a relationship, a love language between us and God. It is intimate, exposed, vulnerable, and full of joy. Most of worship is done in private. We can not truly have deep worship if we rely on this interaction with Christ to only take place on a Sunday morning.

First and foremost, we must come to believe that we were created to praise God. C.S. Lewis once said, “In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.” As we learn to glorify God, we will experience joy in knowing and worshipping Him. There is joy in His presence. He "literally" completes us.

When approaching worship, we should always worship God for who He is and what He has done. We praise God because He is worthy of our praise. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is our Creator, Provider, Healer, Redeemer, Judge, Defender, and an infinite list of amazing attributes. 

(read full article here)

Our Praise is GOOD ENOUGH!

I was doing some work this week and reading Psalm 139 ... we are "fearfully" and "wonderfully" made.

How do these words make you feel? What first comes to mind when you hear them?

I've never stopped with great reverance to see what these word truly mean. Fearfully (fear of the Lord), means to have a respect and reverence for God. We were born with a need to acknowledge Him and His greatness. Wonderfully (distinct and unique) - this verse says that God made you special. God has a special purpose and plan for you. We are special and fashioned to serve and purpose and even greater to realize that it is not about us, we are for His greater purpose. 

Psalm 139:

"13-16 

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.

17-22 

Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
    God, I’ll never comprehend them!
I couldn’t even begin to count them—
    any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you…"

I am amazed at how degrading we (as a society) are, to the greatness of whom we were made to be. We are perfectly formed in the likeness of our Great Creator. No tear goes without purpose, no divine dream unfulfilled, no love without someone to receive. I have learned that our schemes often cloud the divine view that God wishes us to see.

So, be encouraged, your in-between and even the mundane has a purpose. You will see the dots connected and the picture that will lay before you could potentially be even greater than anything you could have ever imagined.

We are all of worth and our praise is GOOD ENOUGH!

 

Who is God? The Final Day

God is Elohim. (the final day)

This name means “Strength” or “Power.” 

He is transcendent, mighty, and strong. Elohim is the great name of God, signifying supreme power, sovereignty, and a covenant relationship that He is ever faithful to keep. 

7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

Genesis 17:7,8


Who is God? Day 29

God is Adonai.

This name means “Master” or “Lord.” 

God as Adonai calls all God’s people to acknowledge themselves as His servants, recognizing His right to command them as the Lord of their lives. 

18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? 
19 And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant's house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God! 
20 And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God!

2 Samuel 7:18-20

Who is God? Day 28

God is our intercessor. 
Knowing our temptations, God the Son intercedes for us. 
He opens the doors for us to boldly ask Him for mercy. 
Thus, God is both the starting point and ending point of true prayer. 
14 We need to hold on to our declaration of faith: We have a superior chief priest who has gone through the heavens. That person is Yeshua, the Son of God. 
15 We have a chief priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he didn’t sin. 
16 So we can go confidently to the throne of God’s kindness to receive mercy and find kindness, which will help us at the right time.
Hebrews 4:14-16

 

Who is God? Day 27

God is the Church’s head. 
God the Son, Jesus, is the head of the Church. The head—as the part of the body that sees, hears, thinks, and decides—gives the orders that the rest of the body lives by. 
22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 
23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Ephesians 1:22,23

 

Who is God? Day 26

God is Father. 

The Creator of the universe cares for each one of us as if we are the only child He has. 

Jesus taught us to pray, 

“Our Father” (Matthew 6:9). The Spirit of God taught us to cry, “Abba, Father,” as in the intimacy of the family. 

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 

16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 

17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:15-17

Who is God? Day 25

Who is God? (day 25)
God is El-Shaddai. 
This name means “God Almighty.” 
It is best understood as God who is all-sufficient and all-bountiful—the source of all blessings, fullness, and fruitfulness. 
22 “Joseph is a fruitful vine,
    a fruitful vine near a spring,
    whose branches climb over a wall.
23 With bitterness archers attacked him;
    they shot at him with hostility.
24 But his bow remained steady,
    his strong arms stayed limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
    because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25 because of your father’s God, who helps you,
    because of the Almighty, who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
    blessings of the deep springs below,
    blessings of the breast and womb.
26 Your father’s blessings are greater
    than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
    than the bounty of the age-old hills.
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
    on the brow of the prince among his brothers.
Genesis 49:22-26

Who is God? Day 24

God is our Comforter. 

Jesus called the Holy Spirit the “Comforter.” 

Paul writes that the Lord is “the God of all comfort.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 

who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

2 Corinthians 1:3,4

Who is God? Day 23

God is full of grace. 

Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines Him to grant merit where it is undeserved and to forgive debt that cannot be repaid

he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 

to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 

that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,

Ephesians 1:5-8

Who is God? Day 22

God is wrathful. 

God’s wrath is never capricious, self-indulgent, or irritable, as human anger often is.

Instead, it is a right and necessary reaction to objective moral evil. 

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
    the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.
The Lord takes vengeance on his foes
    and vents his wrath against his enemies.
The Lord is slow to anger but great in power;
    the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
    and clouds are the dust of his feet.
He rebukes the sea and dries it up;
    he makes all the rivers run dry.
Bashan and Carmel wither
    and the blossoms of Lebanon fade.
The mountains quake before him
    and the hills melt away.
The earth trembles at his presence,
    the world and all who live in it.
Who can withstand his indignation?
    Who can endure his fierce anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire;
    the rocks are shattered before him.

The Lord is good,
    a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,
    but with an overwhelming flood
he will make an end of Nineveh;
    he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.

Nahum 1:2-8

Who is God? Day 21

God is faithful. 

Our hope for the future rests upon God’s faithfulness.

Because He is faithful, His covenants will stand and His promises will be honored

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
    with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
    through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
    that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
    I have sworn to David my servant,
‘I will establish your line forever
    and make your throne firm through all generations.’”

The heavens praise your wonders, Lord,
    your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord?
    Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?
In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
    he is more awesome than all who surround him.
Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?
    You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.

Psalm 89:1-8

Who is God? Day 19

God is Jehovah-nissi. 

This name means “God our banner.” We may go from triumph to triumph and say, 

“Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” 

(1 Corinthians 15:57). 

The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua,“Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”

10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.”

15 Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner.

Exodus 17:8-15