My Anchor within the Veil

chain_2152701I love the metaphor of Jesus as an anchor. Sometimes I can almost physically feel it. On days when it seems as though the world is falling down around me, I remember Him as my anchor and I feel a certain strength through my core; a grounding in my feet.

About a year ago, I was introduced to the song Cornerstone by Hillsong United. (You can listen to it here)

One of the lines of the song says ‘My anchor holds within the veil.’ Had it not been explained to me, I don’t think I would have grasped the significance of the lyric.

In Jewish history, before the time of Christ, a veil separated the Holy of Holies (the dwelling place of God) from the rest of the temple. Only the high priest was allowed to go there to sprinkle the blood of atonement on behalf of the people.

Significantly, at the very time that Jesus died on the cross, that veil was supernaturally torn in two.  No longer was it a priest who had to represent the people, but Jesus, our Great High Priest, made a way for each of us to ‘boldly come before the Throne of Grace.’

Jesus is our anchor, holding fast our access beyond the veil. He gives us a constant, grounded connection to that most holy place. He is an anchor that cannot be moved. He is our security that we, when faced with a Holy God, will stand.

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You Couldn’t Handle the Guilt.

Photo Credit: Mare-of-Night

Painting Credit: Mare-of-Night

Growing up in a Christian home meant that while I always knew I was a sinner, my ‘good little Christian girl’ behavior often made it hard for me to really see myself that way.

As I grew older, and my understanding of both myself and the gospel deepened, I came to understand that while I was good at avoiding the obvious, visible sins, in my heart, I was no better than anyone else. I understood this, but I often struggled to really feel it; instead of wrestling with guilt, I’ve wrestled with not feeling guilty enough.

I’ve prayed through this many times, grappling with the paradoxical desire to fully comprehend my sinfulness (which would hopefully enable me to more completely experience God’s graciousness) while at the same time recognizing that the cross has done away with my sin and I am clothed with the righteousness of Christ.

I was struggling with this once again on the weekend; struggling with my lack of guilt and my apathy towards my sinfulness, when I sensed the voice of God say to me ‘Sarah, you couldn’t handle the guilt.’

I know that I’m a sinner, and I know that I’ve trusted Jesus with my sin, so instead of wrestling with not feeling it enough, I need to rejoice in God’s grace. He knows that I could not stand under the weight of my own guilt, and He has not asked me to. Jesus paid for that too.

Jesus beside the Cross

torn-cross_21293264This weekend I visited the young adults’ camp for my church. While I was there our pastor spoke about having no confidence in the flesh or the law, but rather trusting fully in the person of Jesus Christ for both our salvation and sanctification. Even as he was speaking, I found myself wresting with my need to feel more repentant; to work harder to know Jesus, to somehow maneuver myself into the right frame of mind.

I closed my eyes and took my insecurities, fears and sins to the cross. But instead of laying them there and walking away, I wrestled with them. I wanted to do it right; I wanted to feel genuine; I wanted to know that I was truly repentant.

In my mind’s eye I saw the cross: empty, with blood running down across the muddy ground beneath my knees, and as I struggled with myself at the foot of the cross, I saw the face of Jesus, standing to the side. He looked on me in love and compassion, and gently reminded me ‘Sarah, it is finished.’

When people come to the cross, attempting by human effort to make some form of restitution for their own sins, they will not find Jesus hanging there. Instead He stands beside it, to remind them that ‘It is finished.’ There is nothing we can add to the cross. Jesus paid it all, and then it was finished, for now and forever.

When I’m the Worst Version of Myself

840879_woman_prayingI had a bit of a “bleh” day the other day. Nothing happened in particular, but I just felt like I’d been the worst version of myself.

God felt like a distant pen-pal whom I’d forgotten to write to for a while and, as I reflected on the day, I saw a lot more of ‘me’ in me, than Christ in me.

Blessedly, I knew the antidote. I went into the lounge room with a cup of tea, a blanket (the dreaded winter is upon us) and my Bible.

I opened to where I’ve been reading. Galatians 3. “…did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? … After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”

What a great reminder. On those days when we are the worst version of ourselves, grace still covers us.

I am saved by grace, through faith, not by works, and there is now no condemnation!138261

The point is, I fail. I screw up. I don’t represent myself well, let alone Christ, but, (praise God) my salvation and sanctification was never dependant on my efforts.

When I am the worst version of myself, He is still the best version of Himself.

Be Brave Little Piglet!

Winnie-the-Pooh-and-the-Blustery-Day-winnie-the-pooh-2021477-1280-960

As kids, we had the book Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. At some point in the book, little Piglet is swept away by the wind. Pooh cries out to him: “Be brave little Piglet!” as Piglet finds himself alone, high in the sky.

When we were young, mum often used this phrase on us as we were facing something we were afraid of. ‘Be brave little Piglet,’she’d say to us as we walked, with trepidation into the unknown.

The phrase stuck in my mind, and I found myself repeating it, even as an adult, during some of the most difficult times of my life. But, somehow, it didn’t help. Instead of feeling brave, I felt lost and small; a little Piglet in the midst of a storm.

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It was during a particularly rough time a couple of years ago that the problem with this mantra suddenly became clear. If I was seeing myself as a ‘little Piglet,’ I would feel lost, and small, like a child wanting to run back to the safety of their mummy.

What I needed to focus on was the truth of who I was. In Christ I was more like a warrior Princess than a small, weak piglet. I could be brave, because I had Christ in me; His power; His armour.

So now, when I face battles, I face them as a warrior, not as a defenceless Piglet. And the cry to ‘be brave,’ is much more achievable.

The Case for Christ – Lee Strobel

Photo Credit: Book depository

Having completed a self-imposed challenge to read 52 books last year, I’ve slowed down a lot this year and hardly read any. I have, however, finally got around to reading this one.

As a high school teacher in a Christian school I often get teenagers asking me questions about faith – and they’re not stupid either. Some of the deepest questions I ever hear come from students amidst the flurry of essays, lessons and lunch-breaks.

While I may ‘know whom I have believed,’ these kids have genuine questions that need genuine answers. And I believe that this book gives them. From the historical and scientific accuracy of the Bible, to the legitimacy of the claims of Christ, to the medical, historic and circumstantial evidence of the resurrection, legal journalist Lee Strobel takes us on the journey that he took as an atheist attempting to discover if there was any legitimacy to this man who has changed the world.

It’s easy to read, academically and scientifically thorough, and builds an indisputable case that not only did the man Jesus live, but that He was exactly who He claimed to be, and that He still lives today.

Definitely worth a read, no matter what your faith-stance is.

Among other places, this book can be purchased at http://www.bookdepository.com

What if Christians actually acted like Jesus?

seek_truth_by_beautifullyevilI found this discussion topic on another blog that I follow (jonlilley.com) and it really got me thinking.

How often do we hear or read something that sounds good, and automatically agree with it without even thinking about whether it’s true?

The following quote is by Mahatma Gandhi:

If all Christians acted like Christ, the whole world would be Christian.

Sounds good, sounds challenging. But is it true ?

What are your thoughts?

Am I a career woman?

I think from a young age, I thought that there were two types of women in the world. The wife/mummies, and the career women.

I’d always imagined I’d be the former. So what happened when I reached my late twenties and I was neither wife nor mummy? It may seem strange, but on occasion the thought crossed my mind: ‘ I guess I’ll have to be a career woman.’ This didn’t seem all ba???????????????????????????????????d. I liked my job, and the idea of being strong, independent and well dressed (all part of the career woman profile), but really, a career-focused life just wasn’t me. But what alternative did I have?

Recently I was walking through the city to do some shopping. I was dressed up; I felt good; free, independent and happy, and unwittingly, the idea flicked through my mind, ‘maybe I could be a career woman after all.’

For the first time, the absurdity of the thought registered. Since when were there only two options? Since when was I defined by my marital status or career success? ‘But’ I wondered, ‘if I am neither, then what am I?’ the response was obvious. I was called to be a servant of Christ.

So, I am neither wife, mother, nor career woman. I am a servant of Christ. And no matter which of these things He brings into my life, they are not there to define me, they are there to be a means by which I serve and glorify Him.