Happy Easter(?)

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I’m not that big on religious Holidays.  Not that I’ll protest them or even really express any particular dislike for them, but they’re just not a huge deal to me.  If anything, the day after them is really when everything sets in.  How many people will talk about Jesus’ birth the day after Christmas?  In this case, how many of the multitudes will study the Bible the week after their yearly “return to church” on Easter Sunday?  I don’t mean to be cynical, if anything I want to solicit a reaction.  Will you study the Bible, or will you just let this pass by like another event?

Romans 6:3-4 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Even though Easter is celebrated as Resurrection Day, I’m continually grateful for the great joy I’ve had to share in His resurrection through baptism. Yesterday, countless people who never set foot in a church the rest of the year attended, many people who never speak of God posted scriptures on their social networks and talked about how grateful they are for the cross. However, in this time of hypocritical spirituality, very few are willing to truly study the Bible out and change their lives.

I’ve reflected on what the cross means to me, and it drives me to work harder everyday.  As the new churches are preparing to be planted and the Bible studies are picking up, I couldn’t be more grateful for the life I’ve been given.  If you’re interested in what I’ve been up to, an update is coming soon.  However, I would love to hear from you.  Make a comment, send me an email or even give me a call if you want to know more or just want to catch up.  Hope to hear from you soon.

~Tori Lynn

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Light and Momentary Troubles

That Sunrise

2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

If you’re anything like me, perhaps you thought that this would mean that our troubles would always feel small, and we would be unfazed.  And if that’s the case, like myself, you’re in store for a very rude awakening.  In the very same passage, the life of a disciple is painted through words like “hard pressed” and “struck down” paired with hopes of not being destroyed.  However, as Jesus stated very plainly in John 16:33, we WILL have trouble.

Now, there is a clear difference between trouble we get ourselves into by sinning and trouble that disciples face for being disciples, but I won’t delve into that right now.

I suppose what I really want to say is that I’ve learned a lot about fighting the fight, and I’ve been struck, but not knocked down as well.  Depression has been a battle of mine for as long as I can remember, I just didn’t quite know what to call it.  Since I was small, there would be days where it was just hard to get up, where I didn’t feel motivated to eat, move, talk, and essentially live.  When I became a disciple, I fooled myself into thinking that this struggle was finally over.  Yay, no more depression!

But I was wrong.

Though it’s still a battle, it’s on an entirely different field.  Not only has God given me the grace of His help, but He’s surrounded me with people that are here to help me.  The struggle sometimes, though, is asking for help.  Pride is killer, and we aren’t meant to fight alone.  There will be months when I can easily forget about ever being depressed, through wonderful Bible studies and grand adventures, the journey seems to remain in the peaks of the mountains for a time.  And while the summits are beautiful, I wouldn’t learn very much if I remained up there.  Even Jesus himself had to suffer to be made perfect;

Hebrews 5:8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered

So don’t lose heart, and if you feel like you aren’t really fighting, maybe it’s time to start.  If you want to study the Bible more, get deeper into the heart of it all and find the hope that drives us heavenward, contact me, I’d love to study with you.  Though these troubles are light and momentary compared to the hope that we have, without that hope, they can kill.  Believe me, there’s a huge difference in fighting them with the hope I have now.

Don’t give up, keep fighting, the Son is coming.

~Tori Lynn

Iscariot

As the new year approaches and the pagan holiday turned Christian (whatever that means) aka Christmas has passed, a lot of sentiment is passed around.

I digress.

Why Iscariot?  Perhaps because for me, the picture of Judas Iscariot is most appropriate for this time of year.  It’s a rather graphic image, not for the faint of heart or certainly not for the heart that craves comfort, it challenges anyone with their eyes truly open.

The name known synonymously for betrayal.  The man no one wants to admit they’ve related to, or even felt sorry for.

I’ve been reading a wondrous work of historical fiction based around his life.  It’s rather uncomfortable to imagine Judas whole heartedly pledging his life to the long awaited Messiah.  I’ll be honest, it’s rather difficult to read for the same reason most historical accounts are- I already know the end.  Rather, his end.

Why is it so uncomfortable?

Perhaps the same reason we find comfort in the regular Christmas traditions.  They’re a bit glossed over, it’s not pleasing to talk about the real story, it’s not cozy and there are certainly no warm feelings attached to Judas splayed on the ground after his suicide.  In all truth and honesty, it’s painful.  It’s comfortable to remember baby Jesus, but don’t talk too much about him being spat on and beaten, not right now anyway.

But why?  Why is it painful to think of a man who lived and died thousands of years ago?  Perhaps that’s just it.

Living and dying isn’t that great a feat, after all.  All of us do it, or will.  That’s what makes Jesus so wonderful, isn’t it?

2 Timothy 1:10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

But there’s someone who didn’t overcome death, and that is Judas.  In the darkest hour, he gave in.

Will you be faithful to the end?  Maybe that’s the real question.  Judas was considered a faithful disciple, and when I read the account of his calling, as given flesh in the fictional history novel written by Tosca Lee, it brought me to tears.  To think that Judas Iscariot was once given the call, the very same call extended to us and many after our time,

“Come, follow me.”

To realize he also had a life to leave behind, doubts to overcome, and the very remorse of his betrayal that led to committing suicide in the end, it’s not comfortable at all.  The love God extends is unconditional, and to imagine Jesus’ pain in calling him friend, in teaching Judas and training him, knowing the end result is an example far above our own love.

The parallel of Peter’s denial at the same time shines hope, though he also betrayed Jesus verbally and abandoned him with the rest of the disciples, he returned and spoke boldly until his death of the One who called him.

And so I say again, will you be faithful to the end?

Matthew 27:3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders.

Matthew 26:75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus has spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

I share the thoughts of the author of this particular version of Judas’ life, to realize that humans rarely set on a course intending to betray or go down in history as a villain, perhaps he felt justified, or he thought he was doing what was best.  Sin is a blinding trap that almost always seems right, keep your eyes open and check your heart.

2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

I pray this can serve as an example, for there is certainly hope.

Happy New Year.

~Tori Lynn

What is Most Important to You?

What is it, then?

What will change your mind?

What will hold you back?

What will drive on on?

Is it relationships; to keep people around, to never be alone and always have another human to turn to?

Is it stability; to not have to think about your next meal or where your head will rest each night?

Is it power; to continue growing larger in an area, surpassing others and proving them wrong?

Is it rebellion; standing against the flow, moving simply to be different and refusing to submit?

I’ve asked myself such a question, and I intend to everyday.
Checking motives keeps me growing, keeps pride out of the way.
It’s easy to say “I’m following God,” or “In this place I’ll stay.”
The truth is, though, I haven’t always, which honesty must say.

What is it then, what drives you on?
What will make you change your way?
Is it feelings, opinions, or a certain someone?
What do you live for everyday?

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,

~Tori Lynn

One

Ephesians 4:3-6 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;  one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

While there is much to say about all of this- my focus is on the body.  A sick day provides much time to think, pray and read.  While studying out relationships, I’ve stumbled over a principle I can’t recall ever not knowing.  However, for the first time I think I really connected with the idea.

Romans 12:5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Honestly, it brings me back to the days I used to self-harm.  When I was a child and teenager, I frequently cut my skin to supposedly relieve or justify the pain in my heart.  While it brought my heart relief, I deeply injured my skin, leaving some scars to this day.  Looking back, it pains me to imagine that others are still doing this.  A friend helped me see the true uselessness of it, but we still miss it everyday in the body of Christ.

As my hands acted on behalf of my heart and hurt other parts of my body, so we often lash out on other brothers and sisters because of our own pain, or the pain of others.  My heart is cut, this is not the way we should act, but as those chosen and dearly loved.

1 Corinthians 12:26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

We don’t have to injure one another in order to understand, but let us love one another deeply from the heart.  Now, I strive to do just this.

What are we, if we are not one?

~Tori Lynn

Flux & Flow

Flux: Continuous change

Change.  The ultimate shifts that cause us to become different.  However, do things ever really stop changing?  I’ve come to discover that change is simply part of the flow of things.  Without change, we become stagnate, annoying and essentially purposeless.

Psalm 66:10 For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.

It is by this ever-moving process of change that we are refined.  Through the intensity of heat in these moments, we find our sins being drawn the the surface and melting off.  Never will running from the fire produce this kind of repentance.  In it, though, there’s this element of unknown.  I’ve oft found the next step to be fuzzy when I didn’t see this one coming, but I’m learning that it’s no excuse.

Flow: a steady, continuous stream of something

Never-ending.  The calling to move onward against any and all odds.  Not to be stopped by obstacles or confusion, but pushing forward without ceasing.  But in this flow, do things really stay the same?  As a stream flows down a mountain, the land changes, the wildflowers are different, it has to bend around the land to continue, as do we.

James 1:2-3 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

In this ever-changing process of movement, we grow.  Through these trails we become who we were made to be.  The elements of trials and opposition are much like the pain it takes to build muscle.  As we run against the waves, they don’t seem so large and intimidating anymore.  Though, as you push on towards deeper waters, the waves will still get taller.  Take heart, though, for we are also growing stronger as we continue to push through.

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember in all of this is the reason behind it.  If we begin to fight the waves or stand through the fire for our own personal gain, we will lose sight and we will sink.

~Tori Lynn

Illumination

Ephesians 5:13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible- and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

When touched by the light, everything is exposed.  Either you run from it and remain in the dark, stumbling over yourself and everything around you, or you also become a light.

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Shine bright, shine like the stars and spread your light forward.  Expose the dark, flee from it and embrace the light.  This is what has touched my heart, and having been illuminated, the dark hurts.  Seek exposure, seek the light.

Ephesians 5:14 This is why it is said
“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Become a light, wake up.  Then you can help to wake up others as well.

~Tori Lynn