The Great Exchange: Sorrow for Joy

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4)

By taking our sin, Jesus faced the unimaginable sorrow of absorbing the Father’s righteous, just wrath. At the cross, Jesus was rejected for us so that we might be accepted in him. There was also the pain of being betrayed, not just by the creatures he made, or even his own people, but also by one of his disciples. But the Bible (and Isaiah 53:4) also connects the grief and sorrow of Jesus specifically to the sin he bore for us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” And then Galatians 3:13, Paul adds, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.”

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Holy Week Reading Plan & Resources

Today begins what the Church has called Holy Week or Passion Week. The time from Palm Sunday to Easter (Resurrection) Sunday has provided Christians with a week to give special attention to the person and work of Christ. It interrupts our normal rhythms and intentionally puts Jesus before us so we can reflect on the events leading up to and including his sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection. Below is a reading plan for the week, as well as activities and resources to help you leverage this significant week in the Church Calendar.

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The Father’s Love in Adoption

This post continues a series on The Love of the Father. Below are the prior posts.
Reasons We Struggle to Experience God’s Love
Seven Features of God’s Fatherly Love
God’s Love in Revealing Himself
The Father’s Love in Sending His Son

I’m thankful for the forgiveness of sin, the removal of condemnation and punishment, and the promise of eternal life in a resurrected body. I’m thankful I don’t have to carry guilt and shame because Christ took it away. But of all the blessings we have in Christ, there is none greater than being adopted by God so that we become his beloved sons and daughters. J. I. Packer states that adoption is “the highest privilege that the gospel offers: higher even than justification…. Adoption is higher, because of the richer relationship with God that it involves.”[1]

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The Father’s Love in Sending His Son

This post continues a series on The Love of the Father. Below are the prior posts.
Reasons We Struggle to Experience God’s Love
Seven Features of God’s Fatherly Love
God’s Love in Revealing Himself

There are many proofs of God’s love scattered throughout the pages of Scripture. We notice further testimony of God’s loving kindness in his mercy and gifts both in creation around us and in our lives every single day. But there is no greater demonstration of God’s love than in the Father sending his only Son to save us. If the evidences of God’s love were a mountain, with new discoveries and greater examples of his love unfolding as we climb higher and higher in the knowledge of God, at the very top would still be the costliest, most needed, and most valuable of all gifts ever given: Jesus. The gift of Jesus includes not just that he was sent (incarnation) but that he was sent with the mission of a dying on the cross in our place, taking the punishment we deserved.

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God’s Love in Revealing Himself

This post continues a series on The Love of the Father. Below are the first two posts.
Reasons We Struggle to Experience God’s Love
Seven Features of God’s Fatherly Love


One of my favorite things to do with my four-year-old daughter is enjoy a dessert together—or get a treat, as she calls it. Whether it’s ice-cream, a good cookie, or a donut, we bond as we talk, laugh, and savor the sweets. She’s recently been asking me to tell her stories about myself. It’s partly because she just likes to hear stories, and it’s partly because she gets to know me by the things I share. Whether it’s through these stories, in everyday conversation, or over the course of time as she sees what I’m like she desires to know me. All children desire this.

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Seven Features of God’s Fatherly Love

Before discussing what God’s love looks like—and I’m looking specifically at how God loves us with as our father—I want to briefly consider a few reasons why “love” might lack clarity or even be unhelpful today.

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Reasons We Struggle to Experience God’s Love

It can be difficult to grasp God’s love for us. For many, the love of Jesus comes through loud and clear, but God the Father often seems distant or looming.  God’s attributes—including love—aren’t like human traits that strengthen or weaken nor are they like moods that come and go. God is all of his attributes perfectly, all the time. And yet, we still struggle to believe it can be true, that this great God can love us messy and stumbling sinners. Sometimes we don’t feel his love on a day-to-day basis like we desire, so walls of doubt begin to shut him out. Other times we unwittingly read the Word not through the lens of his love and grace to us in Christ, but through tinted lens of condemnation and guilt.

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What is Lent?

“Each year the season of Lent asks us to embrace a spiritual gravity, a downward movement of soul, a turning from our soul-sufficiency and sinfulness. In such quiet turning, we are humbled and thus made ready to receive from God a fresh and joyous grace.” Bobby Gross[1]

Lent, not to be confused with lint (that fluffy stuff in your dryer vent or jean pockets), is a season within the Church calendar preparing our hearts for Easter. Similar to how Advent each December allows us to meditate on the incarnation leading up to Christmas Day, Lent gives us six weeks to consider Christ’s humility in the wilderness temptation and his human trials as we move towards Good Friday and Easter. During this season, the Christian follows Jesus by pursuing humility in our own life, believing he must come before us. As John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

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Disciples or Pharisees: The Beatitudes vs the Woes of Jesus in Matthew

Jesus’ Beatitudes in Matthew 5 describe the kind of life he calls his followers into. It’s not what the religious people of his day or our day expect. What Jesus calls a “blessed” or “flourishing” life isn’t the kind of stuff that will make on the #blessed pics on Instagram. This picture of true vs false disciples becomes even more clear—and scary—when we read it alongside of his woes against the Pharisees in Matthew 23. While Matthew 5 paints a picture of true religion, Matthew 23 exposes false religion for what it is. We need to read both the beatitudes and the woes of Jesus to see the kind of disciples Jesus does and doesn’t want us to be. Together, these passages clue us in to what costly, compassionate, and Christ-honoring discipleship truly looks like.

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Disney & Pixar’s Soul: A Celebration of Life

Try to guess what movie I watched this Christmas. The story’s protagonist is a middle-aged man caught in a job keeping him from pursuing his dreams. Life feels mundane, maybe even meaningless. But when the man undergoes a death-like experience that grants him a new perspective, he realizes he had a good life all along. He’s adamant that he wants to live again. And thankfully, he gets a second chance, now with a renewed sense of how wonderful and significant life is. What movie did I watch?

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