Last week of Lent

This is the last week of lent. How was the Lord’s prayer this past week?


Each day this week we’ll focus on a Beatitude…walking us to the Passion week. I also wanted to add something to our times with the Lord this week. I don’t know about you, but spring has totally come up and arrived. With the adjustment to daylight savings under our belt (was it hard for you as well to loose that hour?! man!) our evenings are lighter and just inviting an after dinner walk. This is a perfect time to also experience the Lord as you are walking. Take in the shades of the scenery around you – in the light of the sunset. It’s by far the best lighting of the day. Take pictures on your walk-either mental, or photographed, or if your draw-take a moment to sketch a moment of your walk – slow down and enter into this last week of Lent. Take your walk time to go through the beatitude of the day. Talk through it with your kids as you walk…take the time to memorize it.


Begin each day before your feet even hit the floor and end each day before your light turns off with the Lord’s prayer. Just slowly pray it and allow it to begin and end your day. Journal about your time in the beatitude.


Blessings to you as you walk with Jesus this week. May the peace and grace of our Lord and Savior be with you as you journey with him.


Here is a map for the week-this is only a suggestion. You can spend the time in the Beatitudes however you want.


Monday: verse 3-4

Tuesday: verse 5-6

Wednesday: verse 7-8

Thursday: verse 9-10

Friday: verse 11


Sunday: 8-11


Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes

He said:


3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Lent Days 27-32

  • We are 1/2 way into the Lent season. For those of you who gave something up, how has it been? Has the longing for the object/activity you gave up drawn you towards Christ and prayer? I have to say honestly that some days for me, yes-yes it has. And other days, no, I’ve just sort of gone on with my day. I gave up nighttime television. I have found that at times I’ve replaced it with working on the computer. However, the grace of the Lord has moved me towards Him as I’ve been on the computer. Just a little nudge to say, “remember why you gave up TV?” It’s not that I’ve needed to be in solitude and prayer every night once the kiddos go down for bed. But, even in light of the sermon this past Sunday on Spiritual Warfare, I am very reminded of how even the little things like pinterest (yikes, that’s addicting!) can replace what I’ve given up to move towards the Lord in prayer.


    What better way to re-introduce prayer to our life than entering into the Lord’s prayer. This week read in the morning and in the evening the Lord’s prayer. Read it once. Then take a moment-30 seconds…a minute… and re-read it again. Allow the words of Christ to slowly take over the space in your mind that is occupied by lists, homework, groceries, laundry (can you tell what’s on my list?!?). Don’t rush the re-reading time. Especially if you have time, you can slowly enter into the prayer and really soak it up. Let the words and the pace guide your time. Re-read it about three times. As you read it each time think about a word or phrase of the prayer that comes to mind or stand out to you. Don’t over think that word or phrase. Even write it down in your journal or on a note next to you. Then, return to the prayer.


    Once you have read it a few times, go back to the word or phrase that stood out to you. Read and re-read that phrase. Don’t over think that either. Just repeat that word or phrase. Spend about a minute or so here. If you have a lot of time, you can spend a while in each step. This time isn’t to examine why that particular word or phrase came up-it’s just to sit quietly with the Lord and allow his Word to occupy the space in your mind that is usually occupied by the things of your day. This meditation of Scripture is to slow your pace down and to practice just being with the Lord.


    Now that you have your word or phrase sufficiently repeated and occupying your mind, now you can go to the Lord and ask gently, “why was it that this particular word or phrase stood out? What would You like me to learn from this? Or what would You like to say to me through Your prayer, word or phrase of the prayer?” Just journal, sit and dialogue with the Lord. Perhaps the word or phrase that came up is something you already know you needed to talk to Him about-or perhaps is a new conversation with Him-where ever it leads, go to the Lord with it.


    Lastly-pray that the Lord would throughout your day today, remind you of that word or phrase that came up. In the moments that you are drawn to the thing you gave up for Lent, ask Him to use this word or phrase in that moment to recall to your mind the conversations and prayers you had together about this very thing. Conclude your time by praying the prayer again.


    As each day goes on, a new word or phrase may come up. Repeat this practice of praying through Scripture each day and see what the Lord brings up for you. Read the prayer in a different version (you can go to biblegateway.com for all different versions of scripture).


    May the Lord bring grace and peace to you as you meditate on his Word.


    The Lord’s Prayer. NIV Version.


    9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

    “‘Our Father in heaven,

    hallowed be your name,

    10 your kingdom come,

    your will be done,

    on earth as it is in heaven.

    11 Give us today our daily bread.

    12 And forgive us our debts,

    as we also have forgiven our debtors.

    13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]

    but deliver us from the evil one.[b]'

Lent Days 23-26

Good morning.

The next few days as we move towards the cross, this reading from “Letters to Marc about Jesus” from Henri Houwen and the passages we were reading this week really have ministered to me as well as this song, which is always amazing. I pray it ministers to you and brings you a longing towards moving forward to the always forgiving, inexhaustible love of Christ that was given to us on the cross.



Jesus challenges us to move in a totally new direction. He asks for conversion-that is to say, a complete interior turn-around, a transformation…Everything within us seems set against this way. And yet-every time we take a few steps along it, we become aware that something new is happening within us and experience a desire to try yet another step forward. And so, step by step, we come closer to the heart of God, which is the heart of an undiscriminating, always-forgiving, inexhaustible love.


How can you take steps forward towards Christ-away from your manner of life-your way of doing things-and towards His path for you?


What keeps you from moving forward? Have you talked to him about this? Go to God with these concerns…


Ask the Lord for grace as you move towards him if there is resistance.


If there isn’t resistance, ask him for the grace to see what needs to be surrendered in order to continue the steps towards his Love.


Lead me to the Cross – Brooke Fraser



Lent Days 20-23

  • We are half way through the Lenten season today. In just 20 more days we will walk a road with Jesus that is full of triumph and then the weight of defeat, despair, humiliation…then victory and freedom! 

    This week let’s begin to journey to the cross with Christ. This journey begins with a passage back from the Old Testament that is a foreshadowing of Easter through Abraham and Issac. Here is the passage. Read this passage for the next few days. Enter into the passage-who are you in the scene? Is it hard for you to be in the scene? What emotions come up for you as you read and re-read the passage each day? Are you angry? Scared? Anxious? Anticipatory? Relieved? Rejoicing?…Take each emotion that comes up in you as you read the passage each day and go to God with it. Talk to him about it and journal your responses, your reactions and prayers.


    Then close the day by reading this Psalm. It’s a hard Psalm to read and pray about, trust me-I’ve often avoided it! But as you read Genesis 22, begin to see how this is just a picture of what the next 20 days will be in the life of our Savior-and what God sent His Son to do on our behalf…I honestly am left stunned…amazing…humbled…I can feel my defenses coming down…walls being removed…a desire to go to my Lord-my Lord who bore the weight of my sin and conquered it and to trust Him to search my heart. When I think about that-then this Psalm doesn’t feel so daunting, it’s an invitation to trust…surrender…obey.


Lent – Day 8

I can't believe it's already noon and I've not posted!  I had the post all ready to put on and then work got crazy!!


Today, as I was watching the sunrise, I was so grateful.  Grateful for the beauty.  It got me thinking that I often find myself very narrow minded and focused on tasks that I forget to look up.  So, if you see any of my recent posts on Facebook lately, you know that I'm in that mode, hard at work starting to make our home beautiful.  This is my creative outlet.  It's also an expensive one.  So, I've really held off for a while because I knew that I just couldn't do what I wanted to do.  Then we received some amazing gift cards from you all, which began my creative juices flowing!  But then it all stopped.  I didn't know what to do-which paint to choose-what hardware to choose for the kitchen-should I do the kitchen or paint the rooms-should I keep the walls white like an art gallery to let the color come from other things or should I paint the walls-if I paint the kitchen will it start a downward spiral to other things that I want to do but can't afford………so on and so forth…do you ever spiral like that with things in your mind?  Projects around the house?  Work or friendship issues that need to be resolved or addressed, but you just sort of stay stuck in your seat unable to move forward?


I find that when I get into this place that I also loose sight of the beauty that Christ has given me in even the littlest things.  I actually feel like I'm in a pit…stuck…and can't get out.  I know that might seem severe, but it's true.  I actually can't see the forest for the trees.  The subtle thing in the forest like the scent of the pine or the color of the redwood is something I miss.  The Lord created all the beauty around me for so many purposes, but I wonder if one purpose is for us to see it and marvel at Him, his handiwork, his care that he could have made our world functional, but also made it beautiful.  And he did make it so beautiful!! So full of life that each sensory capacity we have can interact with creation-to move towards our creator.   Now, this doesn't give me free reign on my house beautification project! But even as I enter into this process of painting, screwing in handles, hanging pictures…having a mindset that this project is a beauty project of sorts.  When I say that I mean that as I paint, sand, labor, arrange…that I enter into this with the Lord.  I allow him to be apart of the process as He is the one who has gifted us with you, who gifted us with gift cards to do projects around our house.  I can rejoice, give thanks to the Lord for his care in placing us at SNC and ask for his care over you as I paint.  I can look at my kitchen knowing that you provided this all for us.  He is using you to bless our home and bring beauty in it.  (Thank you!!! Beyond measure, thank you!)


Today as you continue on in your day and evening, ask the Lord to open your eyes to see his beauty all around you.  Take it in-through each sensory capacity he has given you.  How can you give thanks to the Lord today for each little thing he's given you? Perhaps it's many things.  Perhaps you are in a place where you can only really see one thing.  That's okay.  It's a discipline-to open your eyes to see his work around you-for you-pursuing you.  Orient your mind towards this and give him praise today.

Lent – Day 7 by Alyssa Low

How was your long weekend? How was contemplating that soon and very soon, our Savior is coming? What thoughts came up for you during this time?


Today’s devotional is from “Lent & Easter, Henri Nouwen” Day 7.


Abandonment To God’s Will


This morning during my hour of prayer, I tried to come to some level of abandonment to my heavenly Father. It was a hard struggle since so much in me wants to do my will, realize my plans, organize my future, and make my decisions. Still, I know that true joy comes from letting God love me the way God wants, whether it is through illness or health, failure or success, poverty or wealth, rejection or praise. It is hard for me to say, ” I shall gratefully accept everything, Lord, that pleases you. Let your will be done. ” But I know that when I truly believe my Father is pure love, it will become increasingly possible to say these words from the heart.


Abide in God’s will – Scripture Meditation


Beloved…Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world – the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride of riches – comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and it’s desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.


I John 2:7, 15-17



by Charles de Foucauld


I abandon myself into your hands;

do with me what you will.

Whatever you may do, I thank you;

I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me

and in all your creatures.

I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul;

I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,

for I love you, Lord,

and so need to give myself into your hands,

without reserve and with boundless confidence

For you are my Father. Amen.




Instead of refusing to accept God’s will, especially when it is harsh, say, “Thy will be done!” Give yourself over to unbounded acceptance of the plan that has been mapped out for you by God.


Worship song for your day:

Fernando Ortega – Jesus Paid it All



Lent – Day 3 by Alyssa Low

Good morning. What a beautiful sunrise we had!!


I know that the last couple of days the devotionals have been on the contemplative, focusing on sacrifice, surrender, looking inward at our “almosts”. This morning I want to focus on the beauty of this season of Lent. It is a hard, difficult and solemn season indeed. I know that as I focus on my sin, the almosts in my life, where we could be if I had only…we had only…what if we had made that decision instead of the that one…I can begin to spiral down into shame. Christ sent his Son to bring us freedom from shame & guilt. I know you have heard me say this before-but I’ll say it again because I know I always need to be reminded of this. His love is never ending…nothing we can do can separate us from him and his love for us. I am astounded by this. This is what I want to focus on today and this weekend (i’ll post again on Monday).


Read, re-read, journal, re-read, journal…(get the idea for your weekend?!) Then re-read at night…Romans ch. 8. Allow Paul’s words to us to wash away the voice, “I almost…” and watch how the Lord comes in and says, “But then God did this….God showed up here…” Write about, pray about where God has come in and turned your almosts into dust and revealed his never ending love for you.


Then, whenever you feel led, or perhaps in the evening as you settle into bed, listen to this song by Hillsong United. Our Savior is here, he has come, but soon and very soon he’ll be robbed of his dignity…but then God shows up…and we’ll be with the one we love for all eternity because he came, took the weight of the world, the weight of sin on his shoulders…and conquered death. Soon and very soon our King is coming…our sin and shame erased by his blood.


Peace to you this weekend.


Romans 8.


Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life [a]in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, [b]weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of [c]sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is [d]alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies [e]through His Spirit who dwells in you.

12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you [f]must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery [g]leading to fear again, but you have received [h]a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, [i]in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

Our Victory in Christ

26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the [j]saints according to the will of God.

28 And we know that [k]God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was [l]raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of [m]Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,


“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;

We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.



Soon, Brooke Fraser – Hillsong United




Soon and very soon

My King is coming

Robed in righteousness

And crowned with love

When I see Him

I shall be made like Him

Soon and very soon


Soon and very soon

I’ll be going To the place

He has prepared for me

There my sin erased

My shame forgotten

Soon and very soon


I will be with the One I love

With unveiled face I’ll see Him

There my soul will be satisfied

Soon and very soon


Soon and very soon

See the procession

The angels and the elders

‘Round the throne At His feet I

‘ll lay my crowns My worship

Soon and very soon


Though I have not seen Him

My heart knows Him well

Jesus Christ the Lamb

The Lord of heaven

Lent – Day 2 by Alyssa Low

This morning I read the first couple pages of Henri Nouwen's books, “With Open Hands” and it just hit me how it really applies to Ryan's sermon and our journey together for Lent.


The resistance to praying is like the resistance of tightly clinched fists.  This image shows a tension, a desire to cling tightly to yourself, a greediness which betrays fear.  A story about an elderly woman brought to a psychiatric center exemplifies this attitude.  She was wild, swinging at everything in sight, and frightening everyone so much that the doctors had to take everything away from her.  But there was one small coin that she gripped in her fist and would not give up.  In fact it took two people to pry open that clenched hand.  It was as though she would lose her very self along with that coin.  If they deprived her of that last possession, she would have nothing more and be nothing more.  That was her fear. 


When you are invited to pray, you are asked to open your tightly clenched fist and give up your last coin.  But who wants to do that?  A first prayer, therefore, is often a painful prayer because you discover you don't want to let go.  You hold fast to what is familiar even if you aren't proud of it.  You find yourself saying, “That's just how it is with me.  I would like it to be different, but it can't be now.  That's just the way it is and this is the way I'll have to leave it. “ once you talk like that, you've already given up believing that your life might be otherwise.  You've already let the hope for a new life float by…You feel it's safer to cling to the past than to trust in a new future.  So you fill your hands with small, clammy coins, which you don't want to surrender. 


I know first hand what it is like to hold onto a clammy coin, trying to make my life work when hearing God so plainly that it's as if he's right in front of me, asking me to release my hand and hand over the coin-hand over my control and trust.  Surrender.  Obey.


This excerpt from Henri Nouwen's books, “With Open Hands” gives us a picture that also corresponds to what the Lord said through Ryan this past Sunday.  I almost gave up my coin, but I gave up everything else but that coin.  I almost trusted…I almost surrendered…


On this second day of Lent, you might be feeling the loss of what you are going to be giving up for these 40 days.  Let that hunger that you have to grasp at that desired activity or object move you towards Christ.  Ask yourself the questions Ryan asked this past weekend.  Re-listen to the sermon and consider what it will look like for you to enter into a posture of surrender.  If you can't do it on your own, ask a trusted friend to join you.  Let us spur one another onto love and good deeds (Heb 10:24) and move together towards a life of surrender.


Here is a link to Ryan’s 2nd Look with the questions and thoughts that go well with Nouwen’s words.



Lent – Day 1 by Alyssa Low

Lent.  As Ryan said yesterday in his email to you all, it's a sobering time.  Why is it sobering?  We are preparing our hearts to witness first hand our sin before us.  The purpose of seeing our sin before us, examining it, contemplating it with the Lord is to then release it to him.  That it is forgiven and forgotten.  My sin is a very sobering thought when I sit and really enter into my habits, my hiddenness, my capacity to lie, cheat, steal, destroy…but what is more sobering and yet incredibly hope filled is that this is also the time that God shows us that even though our sin is ever present, He has sent his Son to bring us freedom.  What Christ walks through in these next 40 days, the road to the cross and his resurrection, is what brings us freedom! What would we do without this freedom?!?   Entering into your sin is not to put distance between you and the Lord,  or to be a time to invite punishment on youself-it's to bring you together, to move towards the One who says, “Come to me, those who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.   Together, let's walk this road.


Prayer.  Prayer is the first part of the journey.  Pause would be another word as well.  This isn't just a time to think about something you should give up like TV, coffee, meat, thrifting (that's more for me than you all I suspect!)…fasting is a part of lent.  But there is a purpose behind fasting.  That is the pause and prayer part.  Pause and take inventory of your life.  What is something that keeps you from Christ?  Ryan talked this weekend about barriers in our life, what barriers are keeping you from experiencing the Freedom that Christ gives to you, to me?  That barrier might be the thing to fast.  Because when you are drawn to that particular thing, to enter into that activity, that is when you have a choice-do I break the covenant with Christ I have during these 40 days and enter into this activity, or do I use that hunger that I have for said activity and move towards prayer?  Ceasing participation in what you give up is not a punishment or even suppose to be something relatively easy where you wouldn't miss it.  Another layer to consider is this-it's also a very small token of sacrifice as you see, taste, sense, experience in a very small way, the sacrifice Christ is about to make on our behalf.  What was that even like for him?  To give up his life?!  What would it be like for us to sacrifice and fast some small, yet significant thing in our life for 40 days to allow us to journey with Christ towards freedom?  So, pause.  pray.  Think about something to sacrifice that would move you towards Christ in prayer during these 40 days.


What a blessing it will be to journey these 40 days together.   Peace to you.

Ash Wednesday

Hi everyone – one quick note.  Today is Ash Wednesday- the beginning of Lent.  What is Lent?  Isn’t that a Catholic thing?  Well yes; many Catholics do practice Lent- but so do many Protestants.  So what is it?  This is a great question.  About.com gives us a good definition.  You can check out this link here:
Basically put- Lent is a way to prepare yourself on a different level for Easter.  It is a sobering time.  A time to devote yourself to prayer.  For me- Lent involves fasting something.  What is fasting?  It is the process of setting something aside in your life- for a prescribed amount of time and using the time you would use to do that thing- to devote yourself to prayer- or to be reminded of something about God.  For Lent, many people will give up something during the forty days as an act of fasting.  Some might give up TV; or soda; or fast food; or all food; or sex; or smoking; or cursing; or something else..  From there when they are tempted to use these things; they use that as a time to pray; or to be reminded of Christ’s great sacrifice for them.  So the fasting serves as a conduit for prayer and to be brought back to God.  
Lent has been a powerful season for me in my journey as a Christian.  It serves to bring me back to the incredible sacrifice Jesus made for me!  It adds dimension to this Easter season- and reminds me of the power of the fact that Jesus was resurrected!!! Hallelujah, He is Risen indeed! 
So I’d like to invite you to consider joining me and my wife for this season of Lent.  Below is some suggestions to families for how to celebrate lent as a family; and a few other web resources to help you understand this ancient practice more clearly.
The biggest hope is that you see Jesus more clearly during this time of celebration because Jesus is Alive- and we have hope eternal!
Have a blessed week everyone!
Pastor Ryan