Happy Mother’s Day

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I want to live to see Mother’s Day 2020, so I will not include a picture of my mom! I often joked, “my mom gave me life and she will take it back” when I did things that she found less than humorous! While I know that Mother’s Day can be filled with joy and celebration, it can be a day of loss and heartache. I want to celebrate women today. Whether you are married or single, have children or not, you precious woman, have impacted children and people at large in your sphere of influence.

For those of you who are waiting for God to do a mighty miracle in your family or if you think that restoration and reconciliation is not possible, I assure you that it is. My mom and I are as close as we are today because we are relationship tried by fire. I was horrible to my mom for most (if not all of my childhood). I did not understand why she did the things she did nor did she understand me. My mom walked through hell and back, facing my rejection and scorn.

When I first came to Christ, I was amazed and overwhelmed by mom’s forgiveness, mercy and grace toward me! I confess I can be quick to anger and quick to speak. A few years ago, I went off on my mom because I was frustrated. The look of hurt on her face brings me to tears even as I type this. I have asked God to burn that memory in my mind  because I do not EVER want to cause that look on anyone’s face, especially my mom. I am not a mother and I can honestly say that I do not and cannot understand a mother’s love. Knowing my personality and temperament, I highly doubt I would be as kind and merciful. I love you Mom and I am thankful to call you both “mom and friend!”

My mom’s forgiveness, grace and mercy humbles me that our Heavenly Father has forgiven even more. Precious reader, while I do not know what today looks like for you, what I do know is that you have a heavenly Father who is waiting for you (Luke 15:11-32). While your familial relationships may be difficult and challenging, God has given you family in Christ Jesus. May you celebrate the women in your life. May you reflect on how God has used you for His glory and His Kingdom purposes. As God has worked in me and through me, please know that He will also work in and through you.

Father God, thank You for the women that You have placed in our lives! Lord God, may we reflect on the godly  influence that women have had and are having in our lives. Jesus, thank You for elevating women; thank You for calling us to be Your disciples. Lord, fill this reader with Your grace and mercy. Where there is hurt and loss today, I ask for Your comfort. Lord, I thank You for this precious reader. For the men who read this, may they celebrate all the women in their midst. For the women who read this may they receive Your love and the love and thanksgiving from others. For those whose parents and/or children are no longer with us, may they reflect in a manner that brings them closer to You. Father, for those who are struggling with not being a mother, I ask Lord that You will help their heart. Meet them in their desire and pain. Thank You Lord for the gift of community so that we do not have to go through life alone. Make us sensitive and aware of those around us. Lord God, I humbly ask that You will remind each woman today of her love and worth to You and to me. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

Hello, May!

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Father God, thank You for this new month! Thank You Lord for warmer temperatures and longer days for those of us in the North. Lord God, prepare us for this new month of May. Lord, help us to hold on where we want to give up. Help us to embrace the monotony of consistency when what we desire is something new and exciting. Help us to live by faith and trust as we partner with doing Your work in this new month.

Lord, prepare us to celebrate Mother’s Day. Lord, I know for some of us, it is a day filled with hurt, loss, longing and unmet expectations. Lord, may we be mindful to celebrate all the women whom You have allowed us to cross paths with and share our lives with.

Lord God, thank You for this reader! I ask Lord, that You will meet this reader right where they are! Lord, may this reader meet with You in different settings. May their heart be filled with gratitude knowing that You are with them! Lord, whether this reader is coming out of a trial, in the midst of a trial, or about to go through a trial, may they be filled with faith, trust and obedience.  Lord, may we keep our hearts, minds and eyes focused on You and who we are in Christ as this world becomes an ever darker place.

Lord, thank You that Your light shines bright in the darkness. May we be vessels of love, hope and healing to this dark and hurting world. Lord, give us ears to hear, eyes to see and mouths to speak Your Truth. Thank You Lord that time is going somewhere. Thank You that You have a purpose and plan for our lives. Lord, may we love You and love others in a manner that brings You glory. Thank You Lord that each of us is unique and yet part of one body. Lord God, may we serve You and each other well. May we be known for our love, even when it is difficult. Lord God, may this reader know they are loved by You and by me. In Jesus’s Mighty and Holy Name I pray, Amen.

Happy Easter!

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“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is NOT here, he is risen!” (Luke 24:5-6 NIV, emphasis mine).

Happy Easter! May the empty tomb encourage you today! May you be reminded that Jesus has defeated death, pain, sickness, disease, loneliness, isolation and fear. Jesus Christ is our Resurrected, Overcoming and Soon Returning King! Celebrate today! Make a joyful noise to the Lord for what He has done for you, for us! Praise the King, he has Risen! Jesus Christ is alive! Death and the grave could not hold Him nor contain Him. The plan of God that is foolish to this world is life to those who believe. Oh dear reader, praising God for you and celebrating with you today!

Father God, thank You for Jesus! Jesus, thank You for Your Victory over death and disease! Thank You that we are free in You. Thank You that we have victory in Your Name and life from the shedding of Your blood! This world is dark without You Jesus. Thank You Triune God for the Resurrection. Holy Spirit, lead us to worship in Spirit and in Truth today. May the Resurrection be very real to this precious reader today! May they cling to Christ as they await their breakthrough. Thank You Jesus that You are alive! May we look for You amongst the living, not the dead! May we tear off our grave clothes and live in the light and freedom of Your grace and mercy! Oh Precious Savior, Beautiful Jesus thank You that NOTHING can separate us from Your love. Thank You Lord that You are preparing us now to live with You in eternity! What an awesome and amazing God You are! When we hear today that “Christ is risen” may we respond in bold confidence, “He is risen indeed!” Thank You Jesus for all that You have done, are doing and will do! We love You Jesus and it is in Your Name we pray, Amen!

Happy Easter (Resurrection Day) to you and your family!

With Love Always,

Amanda L. Sweigart-Quinn

(Mandy aka Blue Collar Theologian)

Holy Saturday

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I find it interesting that the leading priests and Pharisees remembered that Jesus said, “After three days He will rise from the dead” (Matt 27:63 NLT). The leading priests and Pharisees went to great length to keep Jesus in the grave by having Pilate seal and guard Jesus’s tomb (27:65-66). They were afraid Jesus’s followers would steal His body and “tell everyone He was raised from the dead!” (27:64). [The allegation that Christ’s disciples stole his body thus holds the dubious honor of being the oldest alternative to faith in the risen Christ as a response to the fact of the empty tomb (Blomberg, Matthew, 1992, p. 424)].

While the disciples forgot Jesus said He would rise on the third day, I cannot condemn them or look down on them. I cannot condemn them for their confusion, hopelessness, shock and despair. I cannot blame them for thinking that all was lost after Jesus’s crucifixion, death and burial. I cannot fault the disciples for allowing the circumstances that they witnessed to overshadow Jesus’s Words that He would rise again in three days. I cannot condemn the disciples for being human and I also cannot condemn them because I would be a hypocrite. I too am guilty of giving into sorrow and despair when I cannot reconcile or make sense of the circumstances that are surrounding me. I too am guilty of giving into darkness rather than living in the light of the Resurrection. I am so thankful that even though darkness surrounds us, it does not have the final word.

May we take some time today to reflect on how dark this world is without Christ. May we pray for our family and friends who do not know Christ to come to faith in Him. I am so thankful that tomorrow Christ turns our mourning into dancing!

Father God, may we take time today to reflect on what it may have been like for the disciples and for all those who witnessed the events of Good Friday. Lord God, may we not forget that even when things are at their darkest and bleakest, Your light and love penetrates the darkness. Even when we cannot sense Your presence or know Your specific will, Lord may we never forget that You are Emmanuel, God with us. Lord, may we not twist what Jesus says like the leading priests and Pharisees. Lord God, may we mourn over our sin, may we mourn over how often we fall short. Prepare us Lord to celebrate Jesus’s Resurrection. Lord God, none of us are anything or have anything without You! Lord God, remind us that we live this life for You and not for ourselves. May we live in the light, freedom and victory of the Resurrection; yet, never forgetting the darkness of Jesus’s shed blood on the Cross that purchased our redemption. Thank You Jesus for what You have done for us and it is in Your Name I pray, Amen.

Maundy Thursday: Servant Leadership

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“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them'” (John 13:12-17 ESV).

Many churches who have a Maundy Thursday service include a “ceremonial foot washing, in imitation of Christ’s washing the feet of the disciples (John 13:5-11)” (Grissom, HIBD, p. 775). I had a professor a few years ago who was adamant that foot washing was the believer’s baptism and should be practiced along with communion.

Regardless of one’s thoughts and feelings on washing feet, what strikes me is Jesus’s servant leadership. Repeatedly Jesus says, ” [He] did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt 20:28; Mark 10:45). The Apostle Paul describes Jesus’s mind and attitude stating, “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8 NLT).

There are consequences for failing to practice servant leadership. After Solomon died, Jeroboam and other men from Israel came to speak to Rehoboam about lightening the heavy load and taxes that Solomon demanded (1 Kings 12:1-4). Rehoboam rejected the wise counsel from the older men that if he serves the people, they will serve him and always be his loyal subjects. (12:7). Instead, Rehoboam listens to the counsel of his young men who advise that he treats the people harshly (12:8). Rehoboam and his young advisers’ “theory is that servant leadership will not work. Only a bully can handle a diverse kingdom. As Nelson observes, ‘Rehoboam chooses slogans over wisdom, machismo over servanthood’” (House, 1, 2 Kings, 1995, p. 182). The consequence of Rehoboam’s ruling was that his authority was rejected and the nation divided (12:16-20).

Idolatry is insidious, whenever a Christian leader rejects servant leadership they are headed toward idolatry and so are their followers. It is my heartfelt prayer that we do not forget that Jesus’s walk equaled His talk. Christ exemplified servant leadership and His people should follow and lead in the same manner. As Christ obeyed the Father, so we should obey Christ. When we practice serving with humility, Jesus’s “new commandment” will be lived out. We will be known for our love for God and others.

Triune God, may we follow You and not idols! May we follow Jesus’s example regardless of the cost. Lord, may we place Your will and glory above all forms of pride and selfish ambition. Thank You Jesus for Your example! Father God as we reflect on the Crucifixion and celebrate Jesus’s Resurrection, may we respond by living in greater devotion and service to You and to each other. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

 

 

Righteous Anger

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Traditionally, Holy Monday (day after Palm Sunday) is the day Jesus cleansed the Temple. “And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, ‘It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers'” (Matt 21:12-13 ESV).

What amazes me about this is that Jesus’s anger or “holy indignation was neither a weakness or a sin” (Greig, BEB, 1985). I know anger all to well and when I perceive that an injustice has occurred, I respond in anger which is anything but righteous or holy.

I am challenged this week to step back and reflect on all that Jesus said and did leading up to His Crucifixion. Today I am asking God to search my heart when it comes to anger. I am asking God to reveal to me how I am treating His “House.” Ultimately, I am asking God to help me to see Him for who He is, what He has done and to respond in accordance to His will and character. I pray that you will join me.

Father God, prepare us to celebrate Easter. Lord God, work on our hearts and minds to see and focus on You and not on ourselves. Lord God, so much of our time is spent on looking at ourselves, changing ourselves, when we should be looking to You. Lord, may we respond with righteous/holy anger when it comes to injustice. May we meet the needs we see and not ask for You to send someone else to do it. Lord God, for the believer this is the week that we base our life and future on, may we live with our hearts and minds bent toward you. Thank You Father, reveal the sin that so easily trips us up, so that we may serve You more fiathfully and grow in Your likeness. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

 

 

Color

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Sunrise April 4, 2019. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

After watching the sunrise this morning, I am compelled to share that I LOVE color! I am in awe by the colors in a sunrise, sunset, flowers. I love how colors reflect light off water. I love funky colored sneakers and shirts. I love looking at art and I even collect paint samples from Home Depot and Lowes just because I like to look at the pretty colors. In all honesty, I just LOVE color. I know this sounds cliché and corny, but I am excited to see the colors of the New Heaven and New Earth. I cannot imagine how wonderful it will be!

I am also sensitive to those who are visually impaired, colorblind, blind. I do NOT ever want to take it for granted that God has given me the ability of physical sight. I have family members who are blind, so I am sensitive to how much this truly is a seeing world. As much as I love color, I am a terrible, terrible drawer, painter, sculptor. Even staying inside the lines of a coloring book can be a challenge! I do my best to use words to describe what I see, but really, that only goes so far.

Truth be told, Biblical Hebrew did not have a very verbose color vocabulary. The Bible also does not speak much on the “aesthetic experience” of color; however, when it does, “it is in its more awe-inspiring aspects, as fitting reflection of its Creator” (The New Bible Dictionary, 1996, p. 217). God is colorful. God has created color for our enjoyment and to point people to Himself. As much as I love color, I know that it is a gift. It is my heartfelt plea that regardless of where you are, or what is happening around you, take some time to enjoy God’s Creation today. Maybe for you that is a painting or something in nature, maybe it is a song, whatever it is, I pray that you will meet with God today and marvel at His works! “It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High” (Psalm 92:1 ESV).

Father God, thank You for color, thank You for light and sounds. Lord, may Your Name be praised! Thank You that You are greater than us! Thank You that You reveal Yourself to us through Your Creation, Spirit and Word. Lord God, I ask for Your grace and mercy on this precious reader. Lord, may we take the time to marvel at what You have done. May we draw close to You and may we have increased awareness of Your grandness. Lord, may those of us who have visual sight not take this gift for granted. Help us to be the eyes to those who around us who cannot see. Lord, make us sensitive to Your promptings and workings in all areas of our lives. Thank You Lord for new mercies each day. As the Son shines on us, may we shine Your Son on others. May we never take for granted who You are and what You have done for us. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

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Sunrise April 4, 2019. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn