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Ezra Reads the Law: Celebrating in the wake of sin

It’s been a hard couple of months for me spiritually. I feel like one of those wind-up toys relentlessly marching away with my head against a corner, moving but going nowhere. I know that God is calling me to rise above the distractions and seek him first but to my embarrassment, I consistently choose Netflix over the King of Kings and I have prioritized scrolling over the creator of the universe. It’s such a silly thing really and utterly frustrating that I continue to worship the created over the creator. This battle of the will has left me spiritually dry and utterly devastated.  I can’t declare another social media fast only to break it, so at times I just stop trying. I let the sin of misappropriation encompass me and try to tell myself that I enjoy the feeling, that I may as well stay here rather than fail again.

Lying to yourself is an exhausting practice. When I get weak enough to reach out for God’s redemptive hand I almost shy away from it because I hate my sin and I don’t want him to see it. I mourn it and an I grieve it and I keep it close.

Ezra was the liturgical scribe in the day of the great restoration of Jerusalem under the instruction of Nehemiah. It was a time of revival and change as the people had returned to their homeland after a period of exile. Their exile was the result of God’s judgment and they knew it. In exile, they had time to wallow in their sins and think about the price of letting down the all mighty God. But just because God is always this good, he allowed the sun to peek out from behind the clouds and began drawing his people back to their first love. As they picked up the wreckage of their physical and spiritual lives they ran back to the only thing that had unwavering staying power: the very word of God.

“So on the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men and women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.” Nehemiah 8:2-3

Imagine holding an ice cold coke on a hottest of days? Not the one in the can, but the real deal, the glass bottle with its curved silhouette appears to have been made just for your hand. There is something about the desperation and joy  you experience as you hear the sound of that fresh fizzle rising to the top. I’d imagine this is the scene of anticipation unfolding as God’s people had returned from a spiritual drought only to find God’s word pouring out like a fountain head in the middle of the desert. They sat and the drank up the sweetness of God’s word, fulfilling a need they had almost forgotten.

Yet its possible for sweetness to turn sour in one’s mouth before one has even had the chance to savor it. When the devastation of your disparity sets in and you realize how trivial your own lustful desires have been in light of our Great God. All of a sudden the exhilaration of drinking from the fountain of living water turns to shame. This is exactly what happened to the Israelites that day as the measured themselves up and realized just how low they had fallen .

“Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, ‘This day is sacred to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.’ For all the people had been weeping and they listened to the words of the Law. Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  Nehemiah 8:9-10

Have you ever observed the exact moment when you have broken someone’s trust? It’s a gradual change that begins with their eye and slowly takes over their entire body. It’s as if someone turned on a switch of sadness, or rather they turned off a switch of joy. What was once sacred becomes broken, what was once delightful becomes scorned and your relationship is left hanging in the balance. It’s a gut wrenching and devastating feeling. And it’s the feeling we all bare when the Holy God looks upon our sins.

But this is what blows my mind about the grace of our God.  In a time of mourning and despair, as the Israelite come to terms with what they have down,  in walks the Lord, full of grace,he lavishes on us mercy as he gives us chance after chance after chance. He doesn’t tire of our failure and in the midst of the Israelite’s grief  the Lord speaks through his prophet, ” Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  Do not grieve! not only that, but in the wake of your sin, celebrate and throw a party! Eat choice foods and sweet drinks! Can you feel the tension of their fear and dread breaking? In the midst of their chastening the people respond to God appropriately by grieving their sin and The Lord steps in as a Father scoops up their crying child, and says no, don’t cry, celebrate.

We serve a good God, one who is long suffering, and ever so patient. One who is full of good gifts that we don’t deserve and one who would rather anoint our wounds and rejoice in our dependence on him, then brandish the punishment we so justly deserve.

The Lord is telling us in light of our brokenness, in light of our sadness, in light of us having fallen short that we are not to grieve, because he cloaks us in his own joy to strengthen us. “Do not grieve…For the joy of the Lord is your strength.” The joy of the Lord, as in the joy that belongs to the Lord, is the substance in which we find the wherewithal to look at our sin bearer in the face, knowing full well that we have disappointed our savior, yet we dare to dance instead of grieve we dare to worship instead of weep and we dare to be strengthened rather than defeated.

I walked in service last night with my tail between my legs as the old folks would say. Weary of my own lack of desire to align myself with the Lord and aware of the triviality of my sins I waited expecting to mourn, yet the Lord lifted my head and said, no, here take my joy be strengthened by it and savor it because when a sinner returns home we slaughter the fated calf, we pull out choice drink and we celebrate!

 

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Racial Divide and Disney on Bible.org

 

moana

On June 16, 2017, the world learned of the verdict, not guilty, in the Philando Castile case. My social media was a cascading uproar of comments hurled from both sides of the issue. While my job is not to persuade you concerning the facts of this case or many others like it, I believe it’s fair for me to say that you could understand the overwhelming helplessness that beset me amidst all of this. Once I finally got my bearings, I came up to take a breath yet another swell of water broke over my shoulders. I watched as an unarmed man was punched in the face and kicked to the ground on a routine stop. He was just a teenager. I let the water consume me until things went dark…

Read the rest by clicking the link below

http://blogs.bible.org/engage/christen_jacobs/racial_divide_and_disneys_moana

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Racial Divide and Disney on Bible.org

 

moana

On June 16, 2017, the world learned of the verdict, not guilty, in the Philando Castile case. My social media was a cascading uproar of comments hurled from both sides of the issue. While my job is not to persuade you concerning the facts of this case or many others like it, I believe it’s fair for me to say that you could understand the overwhelming helplessness that beset me amidst all of this. Once I finally got my bearings, I came up to take a breath yet another swell of water broke over my shoulders. I watched as an unarmed man was punched in the face and kicked to the ground on a routine stop. He was just a teenager. I let the water consume me until things went dark…

Read the rest by clicking the link below

http://blogs.bible.org/engage/christen_jacobs/racial_divide_and_disneys_moana

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Should your Women’s Ministry drop the self-esteem talk- featured on bible.org

I hate opening up about stuff that’s embarrassing but when it may bless someone else I am down 🙂 share, like comment here is a quote from the article- “My search for value also created a  deep divide between my sisters in Christ; instead of assets to my personal walk, I saw other women as benchmarks that either challenged my worth or affirmed it because I personally devalued theirs. ”

Click link below to view full article

 

http://blogs.bible.org/engage/christen_jacobs/should_your_womens_ministry_drop_the_self-esteem_talk

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Marriage: Jumping with both feet on Bible.org

Hey there! It’s been far too long!  Here is a post about marriage straight from my heart. It may challenge your conventional thought but I thought it was worth a second look.  Click below to read the article and let me know your thoughts.

http://blogs.bible.org/engage/christen_jacobs/marriage_jumping_with_both_feet

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A day in the life of…

So I decided to do some picture journaling to show the different facets of my life. I am a Believer, a Wife, a mom of 3 under three a Minister and the list goes on. Don’t get my wrong I don’t think that droves of people are biting their nails waiting to see what I fed my children today, but I always get questions about how in the world I manage to raise these kids work full time support my husband and write on the side with a smile on my face. So I figured I would chronicle the reality of a day in my life. Granted I don’t think it makes for life changing journalism but I do have some pretty cute kids and some life hacks you may find helpful soooooo drum roll please here we go… enjoy

6:00am- the hubs is getting ready for work I’m off today since I worked Saturday and Sunday (#ministrylife) I am faced with the choice to send the kids to pre school or keep them with me to redeem some quality time that I’ve spent chasing down ministry partners to give them commemorative pens.

The verdict is in I’m keeping all three today!!!! So we feast on cookies bananas and peanut butter in my queen sized bed and watch far too many episodes of Ninjago!


This is Lily 2 years old 20 pounds and a force of nature! This pic pretty much sums up the tude she’s been giving me all morning.


Meet Jude 3 years old and he thinks he is a Sithlord he walked around like this saying “look mommy I’m a Star Wars” this boy is silly and brilliant and refused to follow directions!

Ok it’s about 11:00 I’m feeling pretty good about myself by now. Why not start dinner #crockpotlife as a busy mom family 5 on a budget I cook  a lot to save money and I enjoy it. But I’m not going to lie gone are the days of roasting a rack of lamb with mint jelly all while wearing pearls. I do have my go to meals; I try to make them all quick or fix and forget so my crock pot gets a lot of mileage. Today I was super lazy about it and didn’t want to make gravy which I usually pour over he chuck roast while in the slow cooker. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best

Dishes done (check) stare at the rest of the house and pretend I’m going to clean it (check) Note to self why are there so many toys! Like way too many!



My kids are not veggie eaters so I’m always looking for ways to hide them in their food. I made this homemade tomato soup a week or so ago with lots of pureed carrots. I make it in bulk, pre seasoned with onions and portion it out in freezer bags. I throw it in my spaghetti for added veggies or defrost it for the kids’ lunch like I did today. I’ve got lots of little baggies of what nots in the freezer and none of them are labeled so actually putting this practice to good use is like a fun game of hide and go seek! It’s like my Pinterest side meets the real me and we all just close our eyes and hope for the best!!!! 

Enter stage left my newest addition Joey! He’s adorable and cuddly and honestly I am self conscious about how much time he spends in this rocker. Managing everything else in this life I find myself wondering if I’m short changing the youngest I only hope I don’t mess him up and that my friends are real mommy thoughts unscripted. (Yes my carpet is terribly stained! Between potty training spot cleaning, spilled apple juice and water bottles I think I may have given up)


Ahhh Mommy’s gotta eat too!!! I made myself a grilled cheese on the side figured the kids had enough carbs that day. Lol really I had enough carbs too but something special just for me gives me moments to hold onto where I feel like an adult. (Yes that’s a kid’s spoon don’t judge me)


I try to take time to enjoy the little things. My soon started meticulously staking his toys in the dinning room I would typically tell him to stop but both he and Lily were captivated by their new task. (New rule never interrupt a captivated toddler) this random pile of things including my shoe and a war tank my son called a birthday present for me! He was so proud so I took the bait and paused to enjoy him a bit.


One huge poopie 2 baths and three breast feedings later we find ourselves on an adventure to the doctor. All three kids and myself have been suffering the wrath of winter colds. After doing everything I’ve been told to do I figured I better just take them in to the doc to be sure. I’m worried they will see this mom of three as a newbie and wonder why I brought them in for a viral cold. Why do I even care about their opinions anyway (By the way #teampetty came out during our drive, this is a pic of a new QT which was built recently my husband and I argued about if the new gas station was a QT he said no I said yes I win! What what lol real life marriage goals include rubbing things in your spouse’s face)


At the doc with the three littles is it just me or does everyone stare at us wherever we go. Maybe I’m just making it up out people look at me with half pity and half elation. BTW this was before they got the flu shoot, notice the smiles 🙂


Cup number 3 of coffee today this time in ice form. Honestly I didn’t feel like I would make the drive home the exhaustion is slowly encapsulating me.


Overall the kids do a pretty good job while I’m out. This is not a coincidence but it’s the result of intense prep. First we have a come to Jesus meeting in the car before we get out about how they will be on their best behavior and not embarrass me. I come fully stocked with medium sized toys not small ones! I repeat not small ones! They will be every where. And most importantly I try to communicate with them about where we are going and what will happen next. A lot of acting out by toddlers is caused by not being able to control their environment every moment is filled with surprises and new discoveries so I try to cut down on over stimulation by over communicating. In this case I kept going over why they were getting flu shots what would happen 1st 2nd and 3rd and it worked like a charm!


3 sick kids 2 shots and 2.5 hours later we shut it down! Parking lot of the doctor’s office is empty!

7:30 a little late for dinner time guess the lazy gravy I made was a hit as you can see clean plates. Although we did bribe Jude to eat his food with the promise of a cookie they say you’re not supposed to do that… I say who ever made this rule is clearly not trying to feed a toddler on a regular basis

My hubs makes bomb homemade cookies it’s a simple joy and probably one of the reasons I have yet to loose the baby weight! lol I grab two after dinner I have now lost count of how many I’ve had I’m headed to sit down and relax for one of the first times in hours while the hubs preps the kids for bed and folds laundry.


Getting in some time with the lord is tough with three littles but a pre bed praise break with the kids gets my focus back on Christ! This is Jude praising as we watch CCM videos on YouTube.


Screen shot of article I scrolled through during my sit down break. This one caught my eye because I’m always wondering if my relentless coffee addiction is ruining my liver! Turns out according to this article which may or may not be a reasonable source, it’s not!!!! What what via le cafe!


Bae makes the kids fly before bed!

Hubs brushes their teeth I nurse the baby, he gets them in their pjs, we pray we sing or goodnight song, and Tuck them in bed.

The Hubs and I go from kissing each other tickling and whispering about the night time events to transpire to being a little bitter at each other because I thought he insulted my cleaning (which by the way I haven’t been doing very well-but hey don’t you dare say something about it lol) he says he wasn’t. We are still a little distant he goes to bed I plop down besides him and nurse to the office a moment of peace and quite in the dark after a busy day