It was the summer of 2014, and I was living in Poland for a few weeks. I was working alongside local missionaries and churches with a team for the summer, and we had decided to hike a mountain for pierogi. You heard me, pierogi. (In Poland, the plural for pierogi does not have an "s" and since living there I've adopted saying it that way.) Anyway, we decided to hike a mountain for pierogi.
A three hour hike would bring us to this little restaurant sitting on top of a mountain in Poland, and we were promised that the food and the views were well worth the hike. So hike we did. Only, I hate hiking... with other people that are faster than me. You see, I have little legs and a stout body, and that makes hiking difficult when people are more slender and athletic than me. I like to take my time, meander, and allow my heart and lungs time to catch up. But not everyone is like me. And so my little heart started this particular hike with a bitter, grumbling posture.
My friends were very kind in waiting for me, taking breaks, and walking slower so that I could keep up. And you know what, as we reached some of the view points and as we got closer to the top, my bitter, grumbling heart and attitude starting changing. The closer we were to the end, the greater perspective I had. When we finally reached the top, my attitude and bitterness were completely forgotten, and it was because the hike had been worth it. The views were spectacular. The food was amazing, and we had an all around good time.
You see, this hike taught me an important lesson about life. Sometimes you have to endure hard things if you want to get to the good thing. You have to endure the hard hike if you want to get to the views and the pierogi. Something that I have been reminded of recently is that the same is actually true when it comes to our spiritual life: we do not get resurrected life apart from dying.
The Bible has a lot to say about the resurrection of the dead. In fact, the core of Christianity is wrapped up in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus' resurrected body is what convinced the early Christians to give their lives to sharing about Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and this message cost them their lives. But you see, their hope was in their own future resurrection with Christ. Because Christ died and rose from the dead, they knew that they would rise with him as well.
But in order for Christ to rise from the dead, death was inevitable. And the same goes for Christians. In order to get the resurrected life and life everlasting, we have to die first.
I'm eager to experience the resurrection of the dead one day and meet my Maker face-to-face, in a new body, with no brokenness, evil or sin. What else could a girl ask for? But in order to resurrect, I will one day have to die first, and that will not be pleasant. But what awaits on the other side makes it so much easier to endure.
I've been thinking about this today as I remember my time in Poland and the lessons that it taught me. One lesson I will never forget is the lesson I learned on that mountain and how it pointed my heart to the hope of the resurrection and the life everlasting. Amen.
If you would like to learn more about my trip to Poland and the things that God taught me through that trip, you can see and read all of the posts here.
This post is part of a series called Longing For Home. You can read some or all of the other posts from this series here as well.
One of the things that I enjoy doing here on the blog is sharing about edifying and encouraging content that I've stumbled upon. One of the joys of the interwebs is that it connects us to a myriad of other people.
When I was a sophomore in college, I stumbled upon Emily P. Freeman's blog. At that time, it was called Chatting At The Sky. Since then, she has written several books and released a podcast.
While I don't know Emily personally, I have found a kindred spirit in her writings and creative pursuits.
A year ago she released the first episode of a Podcast called The Next Right Thing. It's a podcast for anyone and everyone in the midst of the regular decisions of life.
While Brandon and I've had a number of different life decisions over this past year, sometimes I just listened to her podcast to listen to the ways that she tells and weaves stories about life.
If you're in the midst of a big life decision or just looking for a podcast that will encourage, inspire, and wake you up gently in the morning, this one is for you!
It's Simply Tuesday - my book review of one of Emily's books.
I waited several months for Jen Wilkin's new book In His Image to release, and it did not disappoint. I devoured it over the past few days, but I'm still taking time to savor it and think through its implications for my life.
Simply, In His Image is a book about the attributes of God that mankind has the privilege of imaging. In fact, when we image God's character in our daily lives, we live out our truest identity as image bearers. I have more to write and share about this along with a review of In His Image. But for now, there is something that Jen Wilkin wrote in this new book that I felt compelled to write and share about.
It comes from the chapter titled "God Most Patient". You can see where this is going.
This paragraph describes my struggles with being impatient and trusting God's timing. Does it describe your struggles as well?
We live in an Amazon culture - where we expect and demand that things happen on our timeline, but God is not Amazon and his timeline is often different from ours.
Instead of frustrating us, God's patient control over our lives should humble us. If we serve the God of the Bible, we serve a God not made with human hands. He does not play by our rules nor bend to our will, but instead he calls us to live, breathe, play by, and bend to his rules and his timeline.
We're all waiting for something, and I hope that this encourages you today as God calls you to patiently wait where ever you are. God is not Amazon, and he is infinitely greater at providing good things on his delivery schedule.
Even though God is not Amazon, if you wish to read the book In His Image, you can visit Amazon via the link above to order it. Any purchase made through that link will provide this blog with a small commission at no additional cost to yourself. Your purchase enables me to buy more books to review and share. Thank you for supporting the fun labors of She Laughs Without Fear.
Two months ago my husband, a dear friend, and I made the trek down to Florida. It was a spur of the moment few days away in the midst of a Pennsylvanian winter. We returned home to a snow storm that left us without power for six days, but the week that we spent in Florida was a much needed rest and retreat in the midst of winter.
I've been learning a lot about rest over the past year, and something I keep thinking about is how vacation and rest are actually good for the soul and help us to flourish in the work we are made to do. Work is not a bad thing. Our souls and bodies were actually made for fruitful work and labor, but we often work to the point of burn out and exhaustion and we lose sight of the joy and blessing of fruitful work. Taking time to rest actually helps us to be refreshed and gives us a fresh perspective on our work.
In my case, taking time to rest gave me the refreshment I needed to continue discipling students and leading Bible studies in the midst of a busy semester. Sometimes a good rest is needed.
In celebration of rest, here are some photos from our recent trip to Florida and our time at Disney and Universal Studios. (These are primarily for you, my family!)
Last week I wrote an article called When Spring Comes. It was a week before Easter and the sun was shining and the hope of warmer weather looked to be ahead. Today is the second day of April, a day after Easter and Resurrection Sunday, and this morning there was six inches of snow on the ground. Sometimes in waiting for spring, we get more snow.
I was reading a blog post last week by Lore Ferguson Wilbert (an excellent writer) titled We're Sunday People, But Sometimes We're Saturday People Too. I would highly recommend reading it. Something that struck me from this post is the idea that even though Christians are Sunday people (meaning we live in the hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ), sometimes we're Saturday people too (meaning we don't live like Jesus rose from the dead).
I did not know how to process through this idea until walking through Good Friday and Easter of 2018. I was reminded throughout the weekend that while we celebrate the resurrection happening and what it means for the lives of Christians, we're still dealing with the affects of sin and a broken world. We're Sunday people, but sometimes we're Saturday people too.
This reality hit home even more so this morning. I've been looking forward to the arrival of spring, and yet the snow returned. But it didn't last long. By the afternoon the sun was shining and the snow melted, and I didn't even have to wear a coat by evening. Even with the snow, spring is still coming. It's inevitable. The seasons will change. The same goes with the spiritual. Jesus rose from the dead. He is coming back, and eternal life is ahead from Christians.
Sometimes it looks like we're still living in Saturday when it's actually Sunday. But Sunday is past. Jesus rose from the dead. Spring is coming, even if the weather or the circumstances of our lives say something completely different. All we have to do is wait for spring.
This post is in connection to a 31 day series called Longing For Home. If heaven is a topic that you're interested in, you can read more from the series.
February and March have been quite full for me this year. February seems to come and go faster than I have time to enjoy it, and March tends to be the second winter for the area in which my husband and I live. This year, we've experienced more snowstorms that I can count or remember, and now it seems that spring is finally awakening in the northern parts of Pennsylvania. It is a reminder for me that life bursts forth from death.
It is timely that Christians celebrate Easter in the beginning of the fullness of spring, because Easter is the reminder of the ultimate Life that burst forth from death. As the world celebrates the arrival of spring, Christians celebrate the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This resurrection is the heartbeat of Christianity, and it is the hope in the midst of the winters of life.
It always amazes me how God gave us earthly realities and seasons to help us visually understand spiritual realities. Spring is a season of renewal and growth and life, and the resurrection of Jesus leads to such in the life of the Christian, only it is a renewal, growth, and life that hopes and points to the eternal.
I was talking with a new friend the other day, and she was asking about how Christians view heaven. And something we started talking about in connection to heaven was death. Now, death is not something most people often allow themselves to think about, but when we do, the thoughts often come as the result of the death of someone we know and love. We are sad and we mourn, and in our hearts we know that death is not how things are supposed to be.
We know this in our hearts, and the Bible even talks about this in Ecclesiastes, "He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so he cannot find out what God has done from beginning to the end." (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
God has placed eternity into man's heart - into our hearts. Death was not a part of the original design, but rather a result of the curse on mankind as a result of sin. No wonder death feels out of place! But death is not the end. God has placed eternity into man's heart - our hearts. Whether we realize it or not, we long for eternity. We long for spring to come, and for life to burst forth from death and for the end of troubles in this earthly life we are living.
Our hearts are longing for the hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because if Jesus truly rose from the dead, then life defeated death. His life defeated the curse of sin and the grave, and if we believe in him, we will have that resurrected life as well.
This week the Church will celebrate and remember Holy Week, the week before Jesus' death and resurrection. In a week, we will celebrate Easter and the greatest event in history - the resurrection of Jesus Christ. My prayer for us today is that the resurrection would give us hope, and remind us that spring is coming, but it is an eternal spring in Jesus Christ.
This post is in connection to a 31 day series called Longing For Home. If heaven is a topic that you're interested in, you can read more from the series.
As a married woman, I know that some decisions have the power to change everything about our lives. When I married my husband Brandon, my life changed dramatically. My name changed. My address changed. My priorities changed, and my heart changed. My seemingly independent living as a single adult gave way to a new reality as two people became one in marriage. While there were hard things with the initial change, it is a change that is a blessing in more ways that one. Marriage changed a lot about my life, but it did not change everything the way that following Jesus changed everything.
The gospel of Jesus Christ radically changes and transforms every area of our lives: relationships, time, church, and spiritual growth. Jaquelle Crowe discusses this in detail in the book This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years. Written by a teenager for teenagers, Jaquelle offers a helpful perspective for teenagers on following Jesus in a world where the gospel is anything but trendy and "lit". While this book is written for specifically for teenagers, the content is for readers of all ages.
Jaquelle's main point in writing this book is that if we are truly followers of Jesus Christ, then the gospel (the good news of Jesus Christ) should transform and change everything about our lives. Following Jesus should not be something just reserved for Sunday, but something that impacts every area and facet of our lives. In this, Jaquelle reminds her readers of the gospel and calls them to live a life shaped by the gospel. With each chapter, she explores an area of life that the gospel affects, how it has applied to her life, and what it might look like for the gospel to impact that same area of our lives.
If there is a teenager in your life looking for encouragement as he or she walks with Jesus in an ever changing culture, I would highly recommend this book to them. If you're looking for a book to be reminded of the gospel and the ways that it impacts your life, this might be a book for you as well. I would even recommend giving this book away to new Christians.
My hope in sharing this book title with you is that it might equip you on the journey. If you're interested in other recommended reads, there is a book review archive for this purpose (book archive). I hope it blesses you.
(I received a free copy of This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years in exchange for an honest review from Crossway Books)
If you've been looking for the rest of the heaven series, you might have noticed that I have not posted in a few weeks. Due to a number of other life and ministry responsibilities, I have not had time yet to work on and finish the series, but it is one that I hope to finish in the next few weeks and months.
For now though, I need to pause the series in order to focus on other priorities. This does not mean that I will not be writing or sharing new posts here, but I do not have the mental bandwidth and focus needed to finish the series right now.
Thank you for those of you that have faithfully been reading it, and I hope it has been a blessing to you in this season. My hope is that our hearts are continually set on things above, and that was the goal of this series.
Look forward to more posts, but we'll be taking a pause on the Longing For Home for the time being.
I hope that you're enjoying this 31 day series. I'm writing it a little slower than I thought, but I'm thankful for those of you that are patiently bearing with me through it. I thought I would share a few resources for further reading about heaven while we continue this series. Here are some books and blogs for the journey.
Heaven by Randy Alcorn - an encyclopedia of sorts about heaven. Alcorn points to specific Scriptures as he answers common questions about heaven.
Home: How Heaven and the New Earth Satisfy Our Deepest Longings by Elyse Fitzpatrick - a wonderful little book about heaven and how it satisfies our deepest longings.
Coming Home: Essays on the New Heaven and New Earth - precisely what the title says - a set of essays written by theologians about the new heaven and new earth.
Eternal Perspectives Ministries Blog - Randy Alcorn's blog focused on having a perspective on life focused on eternity with the Lord.
One of the things that I look forward to the most in heaven, will be entering God's rest. An eternity of restful work and play. Can you imagine? Have you ever had a day that was full and fulfilling and yet felt restful? God's rest will be far better than we could ever imagine.
In the Old Testament, after God delivers the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, he promises to bring them to the long awaited Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. However, due to Israel's sin, the wander the wilderness for forty years before the Lord delivers them to the Promised Land, and as Joshua leads them in entering the Promised Land, they enter a land of rest. It is a land where they are no longer slaves, and they are free to live and worship God.
But this Promised Land was not the land of forever rest. Israel's sin and disobedience of God's commands led to a history of struggle within this land.
This Promised Land foreshadows a better land and a better rest to come:
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:8-11)
There remains a Sabbath-rest for God's people.
A rest from our works just as God rested from his works.
It is a rest that is to come, but it is a rest that we must make every effort to enter and we enter it by resting in God's grace.
Israel celebrated a weekly Sabbath - it was a time when they rested from work and gathered together to worship the Lord.
A greater Sabbath-rest is coming for God's people, a rest that we will be a rest from works. But the thing is we can experience glimpses of this Sabbath-rest now when we rest on God's grace through Jesus Christ instead of our works.
Even though we may have glimpses of this future rest now, we should make every effort to enter this future Sabbath-rest.
Welcome! I'm Madi, a laughter-loving, movie-going, spontaneous-dancing, follower of Christ. Join me as I seek glimpses of God's grace in the ordinary and everyday.
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She Laughs Without Fear