When I Don’t Know What Else to Do: Praying The Names of God

The Bible says that “The Name of the LORD is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are saved.”  (Proverbs 18:10)

Clearly that does NOT mean that every person who calls on the Name of the LORD will be kept physically whole.

Many, many believers have suffered and died while the name of Christ is on their lips.  

But I do believe that in a very real, very meaningful way, calling on the Name of the LORD has saved me.  

Read the rest here: When I Don’t Know What to Pray: Praying the Names of God

You Are God’s Treasure

Grief tells lies.  

And one of the biggest lies grief whispers is, “You are worthless.”

That is simply not true.

Read the rest here: You are a Treasure

A Few Random Sunday Thoughts

Sometimes church is hard for me.  

Not because I am angry with God, His people or His Word. 

But because my experience is an outlier for Western “Sunshine” Christianity.  

I don’t fit in with the folks who smile and wave and pretend that they have all they ever wanted, heaven is a nice place to look forward to, and they are “living their best life now”.  

Read the rest here: Random Sunday Thoughts

Holy Week 2022: Resurrection: Reality and Reassurance

“The worst conceivable thing has happened, and it has been mended…All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” ~Julian of Norwich

I’m not sure when I first read this quote, but it came to my mind that awful morning.   And I played it over and over in my head, reassuring my broken heart that indeed, the worst had already happened, and been mended.

Death had died.

Christ was risen-the firstfruits of many brethren.

Read the rest here: Resurrection: Reality and Reassurance

Lenten Reflections: Choosing Reckless Love

I love, love, love the song “Reckless Love” but I have friends who find even the title offensive.

I tend not to get into debates with folks over things like that but this is one gauntlet I’m happy to bend down and pick up.

Because the word “reckless” has more than one meaning.

In this instance the lyrics don’t refer to crazy, undisciplined, random action but instead to abundant, overwhelming, extravagant action unrestrained by concern it may be rewarded in any way.

This is the love of God in Christ demonstrated by the cross and resurrection.

It was also the love shown by Joseph of Arimathea when he boldly petitioned Pilate for Jesus’ body, prepared it according to Jewish burial customs and placed it in his own (costly and newly hewn) tomb. By doing so he was declaring Jesus’ death an honorable one-an act that was akin to blasphemy or treason since Jesus had been labelled an enemy of God and of the Roman state.

It was totally reckless.

Joseph risked his reputation and possible his freedom to honor a dead man…Joseph of Arimathea gave Jesus his resting place. It was a treasured, costly space reserved for himself, but Joseph gifted it to Jesus. Further, Joseph gave this risk-laden treasure to Jesus at a time when Jesus could not-from Joseph’s perspective-do anything else for him.

Alicia Britt Chole

I’m ashamed to say that I often withhold love, help and encouragement from others because I deem them unworthy or I fear being taken advantage of. What if they can’t return the investment?

Without getting into a theological debate, Jesus’ sacrifice was and is sufficient for ALL sin. His blood was poured out without regard to merit (because for whom would He have then died?). His love IS reckless-abundant, overwhelming, extravagant-without concern for whether or not it will be reciprocated.

And this same love is poured out on me and can be poured out through me if I respond to the Spirit’s call.

So today’s fast is withholding.

What part of my heart or life am I withholding from the One who died to save me?

What gift has He extravagantly given that I am hoarding?

Where am I damming up His goodness, mercy, grace and love instead of pouring it out on others?

Joseph’s actions stir something within me: an ache possible too deep for words….Whatever part of me I have reserved for me-for my self-I long to give it away to Jesus. When we offer to Jesus the place we have reserved for ourselves, He surprises us by filling that space with His resurrected life. By offering his resting place to Jesus, Joseph transformed a tomb from a place of death for himself into a place of victory for his God.

Alicia Britt Chole

Lenten Reflections: Fasting “Adding” To The Sufficiency of Christ’s Sacrifice

I remember vividly the first time I read through the passage in Exodus 12 describing God’s instructions to the Israelites for the initial Passover.

The Lord impressed on my spirit that while the blood was necessary (sacrifice had to be made) it was obedience of each person to place themselves under that blood that saved them from the death angel.

They were spared because they believed and acted according to that belief, trusting God to do what He said He would do.

It’s the same with the blood of Christ-He is the sufficient Sacrifice and the full payment for sin.

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

1 Peter 1:18-19

It can be hard to believe that over the long years life may include. It can be difficult to refrain from adding something else to the abundant gift of peace and victory over death Jesus offers.

His easy yoke and light burden are often weighed down by earthly desires and worries I’m not made to carry.

This whole season has been about laying things aside-attitudes, habits, incorrect theology.

Today’s fast is about taming desire and choosing simplicity (in some form or fashion). Try not to buy anything today (or even shop for something).

Jesus is enough. His shed blood was sufficient for our salvation. Adding to Him only distracts us….Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light. (Matthew 11:29-30). Our additions are not.

Alicia Britt Chole

Try not to add anything to the perfect grace and mercy of our Lord.

Receive the fullness of a life lived like the sparrows-just today, only today.

The precious flow began before, not on, the cross. Jesus’ blood was shed at every point of rejection. Through fists and staffs and whips, Jesus’ blood fell in Caiaphas’s house and Pilate’s palace and every point in between.

Alicia Britt Chole

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**

Lenten Reflections: Fasting Fear, Believing Jesus

There is SO much meat in today’s devotion/reflection/challenge.

Once Jesus had wrestled His own will to the ground, submitted fully to the Father’s will and accepted that He would have to drink the bitter cup, and firmly faced cross-ward, He was safe from intimidation.

As Chole points out “Fear is intimidation’s oxygen”.

My enemies-spiritual or physical-can exploit whatever I fear and leverage it to intimidate me.

Jesus was totally free.

Safe and secure in the center of the Father’s will He was free from manipulation and intimidation. He was NOT safe and secure from pain or sorrow or trauma (He did not escape any of those things) but He chose to rest in the promise that no matter what man did to Him, His Father was in control.

Oh, how I long to be completely free of fear and thus free from the power of others to intimidate and manipulate me!

It’s so hard when I know precisely how painful the worst IS to resist the enemy of my soul’s taunts. Satan will tempt me (like he did Jesus in the wilderness) to test God and try to escape pain by whatever means are possible, even if they are outside the will of the Lord.

So I remind myself that Jesus (because He was fully God) KNEW what was coming, could feel what was coming (because He was fully man) and yet clung to His Father’s good, good character and love.

Fear is a liar and a bully.

But God’s perfect love casts it out when I listen to His song over my heart.

What do you fear? Being misunderstood or misrepresented? Being unwanted or unneeded? Illness or injury? Today, seek to fast intimidation by not letting fear bully you.

Alicia Britt Chole

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**

Lenten Reflections: Fasting Formulas

Listen carefully to Chole’s words here (read them aloud once or twice):

The church is both afflicted and exhausted by the dizzying notion that God-given power should be exercised in every God-given moment. Jesus makes it clear, however, that [can does not equal should]. Jesus’ voice flattened armed soldiers, yet He permitted these self-declared enemies to stand up again. Jesus had angels at His disposal, yet declined to dispatch them. We dare not mistake these choices for passivity, resignation, or weakness. This dimension of strength was the fruit of power fully submitted to love.

Alicia Britt Chole

Jesus voluntarily chose to drink the cup of sorrow, pain and sacrifice.

It was not a foregone conclusion.

It was a genuine struggle during which He submitted His will to the will of the Father for the sake of love-love of His Father and love for us.

Let Christ himself be your example as to what your attitude should be. For he, who had always been God by nature, did not cling to his prerogatives as God’s equal, but stripped himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born as mortal man. And, having become man, he humbled himself by living a life of utter obedience, even to the extent of dying, and the death he died was the death of a common criminal. That is why God has now lifted him so high, and has given him the name beyond all names, so that at the name of Jesus “every knee shall bow”, whether in Heaven or earth or under the earth. And that is why, in the end, “every tongue shall confess” that Jesus Christ” is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11 J. B. Phillips Translation

There are times when power and authority given by God should be exercised. There are times when laying down that same power and authority is the surest way to further Christ’s Kingdom.

There’s no “one size fits all” formula that I can apply to every situation.

I must, in love, submit my way and will to the Father and, through prayer, discern the course of action He desires.

Demanding my “rights” and “standing up for what I believe in” may or may not be the testimony for this moment or this movement.

I’m afraid that a great deal of the church’s time is spent campaigning in the public square in an attempt to protect itself.

It may be that our Shepherd would call us instead to live lives of humble submission to the Father’s will even when it becomes uncomfortable, or worse.

Restricted freedom can come in a wide variety of forms: physical limitations, emotional challenges, dysfunction in those near us, decisions of those over us, laws that limit religious freedom, and economic downturns that affect our budgets and seem to threaten our dreams. Today consider the restrictions you are experiencing…Fast formulas and instead spend time in prayerful discernment asking God to show you His way.

Alicia Britt Chole

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**

Lenten Reflections: Fasting Neutrality-Living and Dying For the Name of Jesus

When I read the account of Holy Week, I like to think I wouldn’t have denied or deserted Jesus.

But truth is, I deny and desert Him in much less treacherous or troublesome moments nearly every day.

When friends or family challenge my faith or raise issues I’d rather not discuss or present me with challenging moral quandaries I can’t quite pigeon hole into easy black and white resolutions, I will often retreat or remain silent or simply prevaricate.

I’m sometimes unwilling to put my (unimportant) reputation on the line much less my life!

And yet, that’s precisely what Jesus has called me to do.

Deny self or deny Jesus: this is the crux. Remaining neutral is not an option. We have to choose a side….In the small, undocumented details of life, choose Jesus over self and recommit to living cross-ward.

Alicia Britt Chole

He demands my absolute loyalty even while He understands I’m unlikely to give it at all times in all places.

Thank God for abundant and overwhelming grace!

But that does not absolve me of the call.

It does not diminish the obligation.

So for at least today, I’m going to fast neutrality.

I’m going to live twenty-four hours without shirking or hiding or slinking away when life demands I choose.

I will recklessly abandon self-preservation and embrace wholeheartedly the passionate life of a devoted disciple of my Shepherd King.

Lenten Reflections: Letting Go of Premature Resolution and Learning Obedience

Obedience is not a moment: it is a process connected by countless moments. Jesus neither started nor finished obeying in John 12. Thanks to the Holy Spirit’s inspiration and John’s pen, what we witness in John 12 is a deeply significant (but not stand alone) moment in Jesus’ journey of becoming ‘obedient to death-even death on a cross’ (Philippians 2:8).

Alicia Britt Chole

One of the things I regret most in life is when I’ve had the opportunity to be honest about my own struggles but refused to share because I thought it was “holier” to act like I never had a hard time taking hold of God’s promises or living out my faith.

Holy is hard.

Being set apart for the purposes and glory of God is going to involve some real wrestling.

But it’s the every day habit of leaning in, taking hold and choosing obedience (along with the Holy Spirit’s enabling power) that will ultimately give me strength to obey and follow even when the path is dark.

Someone said, “Faith is a long obedience in the same direction”.

I love that.

Each day, sometimes each moment, I must choose obedience. It doesn’t come naturally.

I can’t rush it though. I have to bring my confusion, my hurt, my questions to Jesus and allow Him to guide my heart toward understanding (or if not understanding, trust IN SPITE of doubt).

If I try to fake it (prematurely “resolve” the issue) then I’m doomed.

Doubt and fear will surface again and sweep me off the path of obedience if I don’t acknowledge them and deal with them.

So for today, think about what doubts, fears, questions and concerns you’ve been sweeping under the rug.

Drag them into the light and allow the Lord to help you deal with them.

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**

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