Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Prisoners Next Door

My friend lives next door to a group of witches. They're white witches, which doesn't mean that it's "always winter and never Christmas"...  Instead, white witches claim they only use their magic to do "good".

Sometimes at night my friend can hear the witches engaging in voodoo practices. Their satanic ceremonial chants penetrate the wall that separates their townhouse from my friend's townhouse, sending eerie chants ricocheting throughout her living area.

Occasionally, these witches parade about, clad in white ceremonial garb as they make sacrifices to the spirits. Their pure white gowns and "good" intentions have blinded them to the fact that they are prisoners in the kingdom of darkness. They have no idea that Satan is prowling around like a lion, hoping to devour them.

Or maybe they do know.

Awhile ago one of the witches, a young mother, knocked on my friend's door late at night. Her white gown was torn and spotted with blood and she appeared to be intoxicated. In a trance-like state, she confided in my friend, spewing out the details of their Satan worship.

As she talked, she began to come out of her trance-like state and grew embarrassed. She picked herself up off her chair and hastily asked my friend if she would babysit her three kids later that week. "I know my family could watch my kids," the mother hesitantly motioned to the witches' house next door, "but I know in my heart my kids will be safe with you." Her eyes pleaded with my friend.

Does this young witch know she's a prisoner? Is she hoping someone will break her heavy chains and free her from the powers of darkness?  As she plunges herself into Satanic worship, does she worry about the destinies of her children?

Several weeks ago her family sacrificed a lamb in their garage to the spirits. That dead lamb will not free her from her bondage.

"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'" John 1:29

"You were rescued from the useless way of life that you learned from your ancestors. But you know that you were not rescued by such things as silver or gold that don't last forever. You were rescued by the precious blood of Christ, that spotless and innocent lamb. Christ was chosen even before the world was created, but because of you, he did not come until these last days."
1 Peter 1:18-20

Last week the white witches spent 6 consecutive hours chanting, calling upon the name of Satan.

"A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, 'It is finished.'" With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:21-30

"At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split." Matthew 27:31

When was the last time we spent 6 hours calling upon the name of Almighty God, praying for the salvation of people like the white witches?

"But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.  'Don't be alarmed,' he said. 'You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen!'" Mark 16:4-6

This week I keep picturing the white witches standing in a circle, looking down at at their dead and bloodied sacrificial lamb, hoping his cold corpse will appease the spirits, while the Risen Jesus stretches his scarred hands toward them and calls them by name, offering them Hope.

Will you join with me in praying that this young mother, her children, and her family members experience the power of the King of Light and entrust their lives to the Perfect Lamb?

 "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Colossians 1:14

Monday, February 16, 2009

Jesus, Lover of Our Souls

"He [Jesus] took Peter, James, and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.  'My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,' he said to them."
Mark 14:33-34

You know those times when your soul is so impregnated with pain it feels like it is about to burst?  In these moments you realize your body is unaccustomed to such pain and it's too finite and weak to deal with the sorrow.  Desperately, you try to release the pain, to let your soul somehow seep out of your body to a place where it can expand with the grief that overwhelms it.  But such attempts are futile.  Your body and your soul are inexplicably intertwined.  You cannot escape your pain.

Jesus knows how that feels.  

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Face to Face

You know those moments when a kernel of truth that has been forever imbedded in your brain wiggles its way down to your chest and penetrates the layers of your heart? These moments are always life-changing because those little kernels of truth have a way of turning tough, scaly hearts into liquid hearts that refresh the hearts of those around it.

Yesterday a kernel of truth finally made its way from my head to my heart.

I was wearing a tall black hat that I hoped looked sort of "priestly" and I spoke with my most authentic foreign accent. Standing at the front of my classroom, I did my best impression of Saint Valentine for my students. I talked about true love, the source of true love, and how we can love others truly. Then I had my students open to 1 Corinthians 13, the looove chapter.

I've read this chapter a million times. I can't count the number of mugs it has graced, songs it has inspired, or household toilets it has hung above. But yesterday I read something that took my breath away.

1 Corinthians 13:8-12 "Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

"Then we shall see face to face..."
Of course I've tried to envision what it will be like to see God face to face. I usually fall on my face somewhere between "J" and "esus!" But what will it be like to look at the people I love in heaven, where they will have no trace of sin, no soul scars or spiritual burdens, no sadness, no regrets or physical ailments? What will we be like when we are stripped of the sin that discolors and mars our essence? How glorious will it be when I can see the people I love as they should be, the way God wanted them to be at the dawn of time?

In a sliver of a second I thought about everyone that I love. I like to think I know these people's quirky tendencies and admirable strengths pretty well. My sister Rebecca will identify who is hurting or uneasy in any social situation, and my mom will always find humor in stressful situations. My brother Aaron plays the guitar as a therapeutic outlet, and my littlest brother Marc pulls his chin in when he's making an especially funny joke. And then there's my dad whose integrity is unwavering and who cooks a mean dish of chicken pasta. My roommate Megan squints her eyes right before she's about to laugh really hard, and Stacey's eyes light up whenever she talks about her most recent educational pursuits. My college roommate Rachel asks the most poignant questions, and Cara feels fully alive when she's dancing.

I know it's cliche, but I could write books and books about these people that I love so dearly. So, what will it be like to see them face to face? How glorious will they be when I see them in their, "true form" one day in heaven?

Geroge MacDonald speculated about what it will be like in heaven when we stand, for the first time, face to face with the people we love. I'm not sure what MacDonald is implying about the resurrection of our bodies in this quote, but I love his idea about knowing each other. "I think then we shall be able to pass into and through each other's very souls as we please, knowing each other's thoughts... and so being like God."

I reveled in my thoughts during this truth transfer. Then, with 20 pairs of curious eyes on me, I continued to read the latter part of 1 Corinthians 13:12, and I think the little kernel of truth grew roots and made itself a permanent fixture of my heart.

"Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."
I am known. When God sees me, he sees me in light of the cross, not in light of my sin. He sees me the way I should be. The way he intended for me to be, back in the Garden of Eden. I have once again been hit with the reality that as I continue to be united with Christ and his Body, I become more myself. I grow more like the Sarah Jackson God had in mind when he formed the foundations of the earth.

Fellow followers of Christ, today I feel so blessed to be able to watch you press into Jesus and begin to take on your true form. And I cannot wait until I see all of you face to face.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I think working with 21 tirelessly energetic third graders has finally caught up with me. All day I felt like I was wandering from activity to activity in a semi-comatose state. Naturally, I haven't had anything remarkable to blog about lately, with the exception of my comatose state thoughts. So, loyal reader, here's a glimpse at my brain-foggy day:

1. I am tired of picking up my students' dirty snot rags. I regularly find them lying in the most absurd places.

2. I have had the harmony from the worship song "Everlasting" stuck in my head since 7:30 am. My kids have heard me sing it at least 6 times today.

3. My classroom is beginning to smell like a hamster's cage.

4. I love flannel sheets.

5. Every time I've left my classroom to go outside today, I've gotten a pebble stuck in my shoe.

6. The pebbles kept reminding me of the movie "Ever After". Consequently, when I wasn't singing the harmony to "Everlasting" today, I walked around thinking, "How can you love a pebble in your shoe?" in a shrill British accent.

7. My kids were quietly and diligently working on their essays when I was suddenly overcome with an unstoppable urge to burst out singing, "A Mighty Fortress is our God" in a loud nasally voice. About halfway through the first line my students began to look sincerely unsettled.

8. I have eaten the same thing for lunch everyday for weeks.

9. I couldn't pronounce words with the /bl/ sound today.

10. Am I the the only one whose mind runs away without warning for indefinite periods of time?