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Hope

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O The Pain

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Our son Caleb’s would be 26th birthday is drawing near... and here it comes again... the pain.

O that horrid pain.

I guess in some ways I’m glad because I genuinely miss him, and since I can’t see or touch him, the pain reminds me that my love for him is still alive and well.

But pain has this weird way of making us feel broken, un - whole, shattered... un - beautiful.

The mysterious thing about brokenness is what our broken Savior can do with all those fragments...

Perhaps you’ve seen a vase or picture, or some other gorgeous art form that is made up of a bunch of fragmented pieces. Each raged edged shard alone seems pointless... yet put together with a bunch of other misfit pieces, it forms a stunning mosaic.

Mosaic = mixture – conglomerate – complicated – convoluted – tangled – involved – intricate – multi faceted creation.

Isn’t that the story of our one beautiful life?

A gazillion broken pieces that come together to create something staggeringly magnificent for the world to see and receive hope from.

We don’t see or feel it, but others do. Perhaps God made it that way.

I’ve read many times that mother Theresa, in her latter years, whether from tiredness, the enemy’s schemes, or just a super keen awareness of her own sinful nature… Often wondered if she was even worthy of entering heaven. How could that be after all the faith filled prayers she prayed – after all the pain and poverty she brought healing and provision to?

She felt lost – others saw one of the most admirable, selfless lovers of humanity... A beautiful mosaic.

Then there’s Jesus.

I love Ann Voskamps description of a mosaic-type painting of those final moments in Jesus’ life: “In the semi – abstract painting, there's no tidy pattern, just light and dark bleeding into this subtle suggestion of Jesus hanging on the cross. He was hoarse with the begging, for himself, for us: God, why have you abandoned me? Yet he surfaces in the patches of color, the broken brush strokes, the silhouette of him visible in the chaos – Christ entering all this chaos.”

Even Jesus, in his darkest hour of brokenness, wondered where God was... yet depicted the most glorious mosaic of all time.

I would never in a million years assume to have felt the same sacrificial pain Jesus experienced, but I do know the disturbing allurement of pains grip. Each birthday, anniversary or any random moment, when I feel the gut wrenching sorrow of no more todays spent with Caleb in this earth life... hopelessness creeps in, my brokenness becomes more pronounced and I wonder how in Heavens name I can ever be a beacon of light or hope or anything good for anyone to see.

Then I surrender to God’s perfect peace - his soothing presence - and remember HIS ability to take the broken places, the scars and shattered pieces, mixed with his divine touch... and I trust again that...

He will make all things beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Maybe you can relate to feeling broken, ugly, useless... may the Holy Spirit remind you that while you may only feel & see scattered devastated parts & pieces, others really do see God and goodness in the grand, panoramic, mosaic of your life.

Heavenly Father, please take every fractured place, mend the pain – full spaces, and do your thing in such a way that YOU shine through the cracks and crevices for others to have hope that they can also become a mosaic of your resplendent beauty.

-Laura

 

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Crowned Victorious

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In life it seems like we are always running on parallel tracks of good and difficult. We experience highs and at the same time, lows. Peaks and valleys seem to go hand in hand. Don’t you wish we weren’t always facing some kind of a battle? And when we get to the place where we get past one battle, it seems another is looming right around the next curve. If only life could be all rainbows and sunshine! Yet something beautiful unfolds in our lives and hearts each time we overcome a difficulty.

With every storm we endure we learn and grow more about the character of God and his faithfulness.

We serve a God who is bigger than every battle! A God who wants to lead us in one perpetual victory parade.

In the Bible, King David definitely knew what it was to face battles. He was anointed king at a young age, even as his father didn’t think him worthy enough to be considered when the prophet Samuel came to his house to anoint one of his eight sons (1 Samuel 16:11-13). After all seven older brothers were crossed off the list of potential candidates by Samuel, David was brought in. As he stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he brought with him and anointed David. And the Bible says the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on.

David was anointed. In the Jewish culture anointing is interchangeable with the word crowning. David was literally crowned victorious here. In the physical, Saul was still King. But spiritually, David was crowned victorious.

In 1 Samuel 17, just after being anointed, we read about David facing Goliath. Goliath wasn't just a giant, he was a champion. He had a record of victory. Yet David wasn’t afraid to fight him because he knew God was on his side. God had already worked in and through him to defeat a lion and a bear. He used this past experience to convince King Saul to allow him to fight this looming giant.  And he was victorious was just a slingshot and a few rocks. It only took one well aimed shot to send the giant to the ground. David won that battle.

I imagine you might be fighting a Goliath sized battle. Whatever it is you are facing likely popped into your mind before you even made it past the first paragraph. Maybe you feel like throwing in the towel.

Maybe you are wondering if God has forgotten you.

Perhaps you are confused and unsure of what your next steps should be.  If this is you, let me remind you today, beloved, that you are fighting from a place of victory, not for victory. You are crowned victorious. So hold your head up high and fight to the finish, knowing God is with you and for you and he is fighting on your behalf. And on the other side, he has a crown with your name on – a crown for overcoming – your crown of victory!

For further reflection:

1.     What battles are you facing right now?

2.     How has God and is God moving in the midst of your circumstances?

3.     As we look at David’s story, we see he drew courage from his past victories. If you are feeling discouraged in your current battles, list out a few past victories God has brought you to. How does remembering how he moved then give you the courage to keep going now?

Verses for reflection:

Psalm 18:35 - You have also given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand upholds me; and your gentleness makes me great.

1 Corinthians 15:57 - but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:14 - But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.

Psalm 20:7-8 - Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God. They have bowed down and fallen, but we have risen and stood upright.

1 Samuel 17:45-47 - Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. “This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD'S and He will give you into our hands."

Proverbs 2:7 - He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,

Romans 8:28 - And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

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A Letter to My Pastors

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I want to take a moment to say what I am sure we have all been thinking.

Thank you. Thank you Pastors Rob and Laura for making the sacrifice 30 years ago. Thank you for stepping out in faith when you had no idea what you were doing. Thank you for saying yes to the call of God. Thank you for not quitting when you felt like it. Thank you for believing in the next generation, and then again in the generation after that and now in a new generation. Thank you for paving the way and marking the trail.

As someone who wasn’t even born when Shoreline first began, I can’t imagine a world without it.

In preparing for the celebration of 30 years of ministry in Austin I was looking through some old pictures and I couldn’t help but notice the consistency in the pictures from the last 3 decades. Yes, there have been different buildings, yes there have been different people, yes there have been different styles and haircuts, but one thing stayed the same. The heart. I saw a picture from the late 80s that said “Christian Faith Center, an oasis of love” I saw another picture from the early 90s and on the wall was a banner that read “…because people matter to God” and then I think about what is said every single week here at Shoreline in our creed “I am loved by God”.

For the last 3 decades Shoreline has been a beacon of hope, a community of joy and a place where people meet face to face with the love of God. The faithfulness and consistency of the leaders of Shoreline Church does not go unnoticed.

So many people have their own story about how Pastor Rob and Laura and Shoreline has changed their life, on behalf of us all, I want to say…

THANK YOU!

 

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Come Away With Me

Song of Solomon 2: 8-10 (NLT) - "Ah, I hear my lover coming! He is leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills. My lover is like a swift gazelle or a young stag. Look, there he is behind the wall, looking through the window, peering into the room. My lover said to me, “Rise up, my darling! Come away with me, my fair one!" 

This scripture is about the intimacy found between two lovers and their pursuit for one another. It kind of reminds me of the love that Rob and I experience! Just the other day, after having been away from each other for 10 days, I came into the room and Rob grabbed me and held me close and tenderly whispered in my ear, "I'm so glad we won't be apart for the next 3 months!" What sweetness filled my soul. 

These verses are also a beautiful illustration of the love that God has for us - His beloved! God is always pursuing us with His immeasurable love! 

I remember just after our son Caleb relocated to Heaven, I had all kinds of emotions and questions about Gods love for me. But a dear friend sent me these verses and I read them over and over again so that I could remind myself that regardless of what I am going through, God is pursuing me with his love!

Maybe you are questioning Gods love for you because of a tragedy, a difficult circumstance or some sort of failure in your life. Let me assure you that there is no place internally or externally where you can hide from God and as long as you live, He will PURSUE you and encourage you to come away with Him, so He can love, heal & free you, bringing you hope, strength and wholeness!! 

This week leading up to Easter Sunday, I pray you will embrace the constant pursuit of Gods amazing grace and love each and every moment! 

-Laura