The Spring of Eternal Life

This month we’ve been talking about spring and what spring means, and one of the most obvious things it means is new life. There’s a kind of life that we would be remiss if we did not talk about when talking about new life this month: that of eternal life. What happens after death is something that has been pondered since the beginning of time. Each civilization, group of people, culture, part of the world and span of time has their own ideas on what comes next, some that are similar and others that are vastly different. What most people groups can agree on is that there definitely is something “next,” whether it’s reincarnation, the afterlife, purgatory, hell or eternal life, this life isn’t the end.

What is awesome about the Christian belief of Eternal Life is that not only is there something after this life, it’s something better, and that something better is possible because of love. How cool is that?! I mean there’s so much talk about how commercialized love is and how it’s thrown around too much and not truly valued, but if you want proof of value here it is!

As we dive into this Holy Week of 2016 not only is it an opportunity to reaffirm our faith in Jesus and our belief that He is The Way, The Truth and The Life, it’s also an opportunity to share some love with those in our communities and our churches. Easter is one of the biggest attendance days for the Church so not only are the C&E (Christmas and Easter) people present, you’ve got people who have a feeling that they want something more out of their life and figure that because the church will be so crowded they can just slip in unnoticed. As you go to various church activities in the next week I encourage you greet those you don’t recognize. But don’t do it in a way that will embarrass them or make them feel guilty for being there, but to let them know they’re welcome and you’re genuinely glad to see them. If they seem like they want to chat offer to treat them to coffee (no, not the coffee that will be served after the service) and get to know them better. It could be your opportunity to share about the gift of Eternal Life with them.

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.”  1 John 4:9

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Waiting for Spring

Spring always makes me think about hope.  With everything coming to life there’s just something so invigorating to us even though we’re not getting a new set of leaves or flowers. Of course we do have the ability to have “springs” in our live at any point in time we don’t have to wait for the right months to show up like the plants do.  But when you think about hope there’s the other side to consider that we usually don’t think about when talking about hope, that not all of life is hopeful, sometimes it’s just not good or lasting, and eventually death happens.

But the thing I love about hope is that it doesn’t promise perfection, it just promises a better tomorrow.  Maybe that tomorrow does include death which means the suffering will be over.  Maybe that tomorrow includes a new challenge that will finally free you from the frustrations of the past.  Maybe that tomorrow has the break you’ve been waiting for.  Or maybe that tomorrow just includes a friend who will let you cry on their shoulder and be a support to you.

Don’t let your bad or tough day today ruin tomorrow or the rest of your life.  Just as the spring shows up every year, know that things will turn around for you.  You have to be open to moving into that hope though, I know that the negative spiral is more than willing to keep spiraling with you trapped in it.  Will you choose to welcome hope into your life this spring?

“Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.” Robert H. Schuller

Spring Forward

Welcome to a new month! This month I’m excited about our theme, it’s hopefully going to remain very relevant as we move through the month; our theme is spring! As I was thinking about this theme I decided to check out what the dictionary says about it:

1. to rise, leap, move, or act suddenly and swiftly, as by a sudden dart or thrust forward or outward, or being suddenly released from a coiled or constrained position: to spring into the air.
2. to be released from a constrained position, as by resilient or elastic force or from the action of a spring
3. to issue forth suddenly, as water, blood, sparks, fire, etc. (often followed by forth, out, or up).
4. to come into being, rise, or arise within a short time (usually followed by up)
5. to come into being by growth, as from a seed or germ, bulb, root, etc.; grow, as plants.

This month we’ll be touching on all of those definitions of spring. I want to encourage you to let this be a month of new starts for you, of beginning days well, of meeting people who will make your life better, of new beginnings, of finally getting things off the ground, of making progress, of seeing results and growth, of starting fresh, of taking action, of trying new things, of accepting the changes that have happened and moving forward, and of being excited for what the future holds.

I know for many people spring is the season they look forward to because it comes after the harsh, cold and limiting winter. While that winter hasn’t really happened where I live this year, I still believe that sometimes what we need is a spring of life. Be open to the changes that are happening in your life and meet them with the same excitement that the bulbs and creatures greet the bright spring sun each year.

The Necessity of Spring

Every day I see a few more signs of spring, this week there were tons even though on this first day of spring we’ve got snow coming down. I can’t wait until we’re all free to just leave the house and take a walk without considering how many layers we need, if it’s going to snow or where we’ll walk because there’s snow all over the roads.  I’m thankful that I live in an area of the world that has spring, I can’t imagine what I would do if I lived where there was mostly snow or only summer because spring has a very important role to play in our lives.

I do love summer, it’s one of my favorite seasons.  Summer is associated with warm temperatures and fresh produce.  It’s a great time to get out and go places as well as a time to grow things because of longer hours and warmer weather.  Because summer reminds us to grow it’s an important season.

Fall is a time of change, which is an important season for us because our lives change too. Change isn’t a topic we’re all comfortable with but it’s a fact of life, just like fall is associated with cooler temperature and changing leaves. I like fall because it reminds us that things have to change, very few things stay the same.

Winter is associated with warm fires and more time spent at home.  It’s the one season that you can really see the impact of the weather as the snow falls from the sky and fills the ground.  You can’t see the sun do that and you can’t see the direct impact of the rain usually.  But winter reminds us that sometimes we need a break and need to take time to rest and reflect.

But spring is an explosion of life.  Maybe it’s because there’s such a drastic difference between winter’s snows and spring’s life. Maybe it’s because there’s so much activity after so little. Maybe it’s the multitude of colors from white and grey. For these reasons and more spring is a time to celebrate.  Spring does something very important: it celebrates life.  I always remind my clients of how important it is to celebrate the victories, big and small, in their lives and work.  It’s not always about the finished races, big financial goals or meeting that special someone, the journey itself should be celebrated.

So today on this first day of spring, I invite you to share the things that you’re celebrating today big or little in the comments below.

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!”” Robin Williams

Freedom to Fail

I love spring because it embraces our topic for this year: freedom. Some years it feels like spring doesn’t even send a heads-up message, it just explodes onto the scene and we’re shocked to turn around one morning to find ourselves knee-deep in flowers, sweet smelling green grass and little creatures. It always amazes me that we can go from the bleak world of winter into the passion that is spring, that despite how cold or snowy it was spring is just waiting for the right time to flourish.

In many ways I envy spring: it’s not waiting for more money to show up in the bank account, our partner to sign the divorce papers, to find the love of our life, our kids to head to college or the world to accept us for who we are. No, spring just says “HERE I AM!!” and expects the whole world to join in on its celebration. And many of us do; we dance around the may pole, we buy flowers, we clean things up, and it seems like we start living again. We don’t have to wait for spring to be free though. No, we can choose to try something new, make a change, do something different or live just because today is a great day to be alive.

The challenge comes in knowing that we won’t get it right like spring does every time. We might fail or make a bad judgment call or not fully get there. This is where the challenge of fully embracing freedom comes in. If you’re truly free, if you’re truly embracing freedom in your life you have to embrace that it won’t all be perfect. Spring always seems to get it right, because there has to be rain with the spring or the flowers can’t grow, there won’t be any buds for summer foods and the earth won’t be green. Spring gets it right because it’s open to everything not being sunny days and beautiful blooms.

As we enter into spring this weekend I encourage you to embrace both spring and freedom, all of it, not just the nice parts. You’ll be a stronger person because you did and you’ll find freedom as well.

“Liberty is the possibility of doubting, of making a mistake… of searching and experimenting…” Ignazio Silone

The Hope of Spring

I’m really excited that spring is beginning to peek out from beneath the snow! I’m always ready for warmer weather and more sunshine. But I’m also ready for what spring stands for: spring is the time when God renews the world and brings it back to life. We’re all experiencing our own challenges, life’s journey is full of them, and Jesus was no stranger to them. During his time on earth He experienced many challenges, challenges that made him an impressive leader, a promise keeper, a bringer of hope, a friend to many and a miracle worker, but they also made him humiliated, hated and hurt. I know that as awesome as spring is in my mind, there will be plenty of people who will be too busy talking about their sneezes or grumbling about the rain or hating on the flowers to realize the miracle that’s around them. The same was true for Jesus’ day: people were so worked up over what He was doing that went against their rules and knowledge that they totally missed how awesome and amazing it really was.

Spring is a time of potential. It’s time for us to get out of our igloos and start living again. It’s time for us to get out in nature with friends and family and find reason to enjoy living again. Time for us to lift up our heads and see the world we’re living in. Time for us to clear out the old and welcome the new. Time for us to stop limiting ourselves because it’s what we think others want to hear and start embracing all that life can be.

We will never be totally free of the evil in the world, not until Jesus comes back. But that does not mean that we have to live with the world as it is. We can choose to move on and start living life with the principles of spring and being willing to see life as more than an individual season but as one that changes, adapts, adjusts and is full of potential. Sure you can view the world as lost, hopeless and worthless as another winter storm in Boston or Capracotta, Italy, but I prefer to see the world through Jesus’ eyes: with hope.  How will you view the world today?

“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.” Virgil A. Kraft

Spring Starts

“Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen.  You, too, must be patient.” James 5:7b-8a

Spring is one of my favorite seasons!  I love the excitement, the feeling of fresh starts and all of the new life that appears.  Spring in nature is much like seasons of spring in our lives.  With spring we don’t immediately see the results of the showers, the clearing of snow and warming of temperatures.  We have to wait for the cherry blossoms, long sunny days and baby animals.

For farmers and other growers they go through this change of seasons and waiting every year with more anticipation than most of us.  For them if the season doesn’t go well they have a poor harvest that year.  You’ve probably seen the effects of the crazy weather we’ve had at your local grocery store.

The thing about spring that we haven’t learned yet is that its better to be patient and wait for the seasons to develop themselves than to force things to happen.  When we try to rush through things or rush people or plants, we can get in the way of the natural order of things.  I like being able to pick freshly grown vegetables and fruits at the store rather than waiting for mine to grow, but all of the modifications and chemicals we use to make things grow bigger and faster aren’t the best for our bodies.

We’ve tried to rush our lives and learning too.  But what I’m learning is that some things can’t be rushed.  Sometimes we have to try things out and wait for things to develop.  While we’re waiting we’re not supposed to do nothing however.  Like farmers who weed while the plants grow, we’re supposed to keep learning and working and making step-by-step progress.

What is God trying to teach you in this spring season of your life?  Are you open to the lessons He’s trying to show you or pushing as hard as you can to get through?