When We Hear of Another Mass Shooting…

Vegas. In the middle of the dry and the desolate, man has crafted a place where lights and golden-gilding cover luxurious arch ways ushering people into glossy portrayals of Dante’s nine circles.

In timeless, windowless, oxygen-infused casinos where multisensory stimulation waits around every corner, it is easy to forget both sun and moon, and just keep going, eyes wide, watching the continuous show. Until the sins everybody thought would stay there creep too close. On the night of October 1st, 2017 evil preformed its deadly dance and shot across the sky stealing the breath of over 50 people.

500+ injured.

Thousands traumatized.

Another mass shooting.

I want to ask “When will it stop?”But I find that to be an unanswerable question. For I have learned this truth—I live in a fallen world.

image2I was a senior in high school the year the Columbine Tragedy shocked the nation and infected people with a new brand of fear. It was like nothing I had seen before. I remember sitting by the television, still, shaken, and unsure. What? How? Why? I went to school the next day, finding myself cowering from the group that wore trench coats, and looking at my classmates with suspicion. It hadn’t required courage to walk into class the day before; this day it did. Still numb, I listened to my favorite teacher as she lamented the tragedy with tears and placed her hands protectively over her pregnant belly. She had to be asking herself, would she be willing to die for us?

Ten years later, I stepped up in front of my first class as a student-teacher, and I had to ask myself the same question. By this time, running students through lockdown drills was common practice, so I instructed them on how to hide in case of a gunman. I remember assessing how many students my body could shield. I am not naturally morbid, but as a teacher I needed to know how I would protect the students entrusted to me? Whether this is asked of our teachers or not, many consider this part of their job.

Before Columbine, it seemed that gang members were the gun carriers to be afraid of, terrorists seemed far away in other countries, and schools, churches, and movie theaters felt safe. And now, we risk developing a callous on society’s collective heart as we accept the mass shootings as an unavoidable reality. We clutch our chests, breathe out a helpless, “Again?!” Then we move on, because we just can’t handle the depth of the carnage of innocents gunned down.

The secluded white male young adult has become the face to fear, and he is everywhere. But again, in this label, I think we have it wrong. The problem isn’t a group, racism, or a religion. Nor is it gun control, mental health, or bad parents. There is chaos created by these things, but they are just symptoms of the deeper problem: evil. A problem too big for humans to address. This is why we feel so helpless to make it stop.

I hope for legislation that might actually be productive, but I won’t be writing laws anytime soon. I will vote, but I will also do my best to make the most of my time. I am determined stand against evil in whatever way it presents before me.

If Christians are to be lights in a dark world, we must stop fighting against each other, and every little piece of culture that threatens our comfort. We need to be who we are through Christ—righteous, more than conquerors, and carriers of the good news that offers a choice of who we will serve.

A good God or an evil world? On which side will we stand?

image1 (1)There is a war going on: For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.-Ephesians 6:12

When we forget that this unseen battle is being waged for souls, the works of those submitted to wickedness stuns us. When we are forced to remember that evil is real, let it remind us to fight harder, love deeper, and pray continually. I have no answer for “When will it stop?” I trust that victory will come, but I do not know when. In the mean time, I pray for those mourning, I refuse to harden my heart, and from the depth of my being I cry out “Have mercy Lord Jesus.”


chara-donahue-head-shotChara Donahue can often be found with her nose in a book and coffee in hand. She enjoys freelance writing, biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is a regular contributor at iBelieve and her words have appeared at Christianity Today’s Women Leaders,(in)courage, Patheos, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara at One Anchored Voice, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

This post was adapted from and earlier version first published at Venn Magazine
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September Printable: Rest

Fall is officially here and Sarah Dohman has designed a beautiful fall printable to celebrate the crisp air and changing of leaves. As seasons shift we can feel the hustle of life tug at our souls, but Jesus is always there to give us peace. Go to Him. He awaits your weary heart with rest and revival.

Click Here to Get Your Free Printable

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August Printable: My Strong Fortress

As the summer days begin to wane, schedules fill and life begins to find familiar rhythms. If this shift in seasons feels overwhelming,  Psalm 18:2 is a good place for your thoughts to rest. Sarah Dohman has provided this free printable for you, so that you can have a visual reminder of where true refuge lies.

Psalm 18 2

Click here to download your free printable!

Victorious Rest

Author: Kate Franken

Stress and Anxiety. The world is filled with them both, and they torment me.  Stomach pain, tension headaches, and sleepless nights have all followed in their wake. They have weakened my immune system, making me more susceptible to colds and viruses, pneumonia, and even shingles. I never invited them in, and I detest that they linger. They take residence and hide in the places I feel empty, depleting me all the more.

rest Kate FrankenBut I am my own worst enemy, being the sinner that I am. They exist because of the war going on inside me. They are outworkings of the side that believes “I am strong” and “I am enough”. The culture that surrounds me bolsters this notion. My people-pleasing ways only perpetuate irrational thinking.  And all of this mess, this chaos, it reeks of sin. Annihilation is its fate.

As I am being sanctified, greater victories are being claimed by the side that believes “I am weak and He is strong” and “He is enough”. Rest is the outworking of the holy overcoming. In this rest, all striving ceases. I hold to Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God”. A practice in which I experience the fullness of Christ. Peace and contentment envelop me, as He prevails over the war within.

As followers of Christ, rest is ours. For we are slaves no more and now walk in the freedom of Christ. No longer are we running the rat race encumbered by proving something of ourselves. Our tight grip on things of this world is released in the surrendering of our lives to a Sovereign God. We can let out a sigh of relief as all order is restored with God seated on the throne.

Kate Franken RESTRegrettably, this isn’t the state we remain in constantly. Without warning, we find ourselves trapped, falling back to the lure of old, less godly, ways. We are no different than the Israelites—tempted to distrust God and think we know best. We take the steps that lead to our own desert-like wanderings.

In these times, we need to remember the manna, the pillar of cloud, the pillar of fire, the provisions of water, and the undeserved grace that sustained the Israelites. They speak to the goodness and faithfulness of our God. If He has done it once, He can do it again. He is true and everlasting and as we feast daily on the Word of God, meditating on who God is, our ability to trust in Him strengthens. Our assurance increases as we surround ourselves with a community of believers and witness God move in the lives of others and have them speak truth into our own lives. Finally, when we release our need for control and seek God in prayer for all the worries that try to plague our faith, we see that though the battle rages we will come out victorious.


kate-squareKate Franken is a 4th grade teacher and a volunteer coordinator at her church in Oregon. She enjoys indulging in raw conversation whilst savoring a cup or more of coffee. Her hunt for good books and podcasts is endless. She finds refuge surrounded by trees, on hiking trails, with her two dogs in tow. She is especially fond of mountaintop views, wit, “best teacher ever” love letters, breakfast, a painted sky, and Jesus. She has a heart for connecting people to His church and encouraging others into relationship with Him.

Glory Day

Author: Kimberley Mulder

The day was almost sabotaged. It arrived sandwiched between National Blueberry Day and another week of packing with three kids suffering summer doldrums. We sat in moving mess, random socks, treasured Turkish bowls, and Christmas lights were stepped over as we popped fresh blueberries into our mouths.

In an effort to keep life enjoyable and remotely summer-ish, we kept to our tradition of picking blueberries though boxes begged to be packed and the to-do list called. Those first exploding sweet-tart tastes led to excited exclamations, but the heat and fatigue of the weeks wisped away the wonder within quick minutes. We foraged on, determined to make good on our tradition, but in the end our moods nearly spoiled the joy of fresh fruit.

Today,God says, -rest.-Today is what we call glory day, our day of rest among the chaos. Blueberry day lies behind me along with the half checked-off moving list with twenty more added items, scores of mediating moments as siblings lock horns again and again. Ahead of me lies two weeks that look nearly blank on my Google calendar – a picture perfect, relaxing summer vacay–except that it simply doesn’t record the hours of packing, organizing, and sorting, the time it takes to mediate moments, the impromptu play dates, and the legion of other moving preparations.

Today, God says, “Rest.” If I were not in the habit of resting on the Sabbath, I would not slow today. The pressure of so many decisions to be made and things to be done would fuel my activity. I am so thankful that this is a habit that the Lord has given me, as He has you. He commanded us, knowingly, mercifully, to rest, just as He did (Gen. 2:2-3). This literal break from whatever work I have in that particular season, this breath of a day meant to enjoy Him and savor His presence–it leads me to Him and resuscitates my body and soul weekly.

Today He is taking the lesson deeper. I am a peace-glutton, responsibility-taker, rule-follower, recovering perfectionist, people-pleaser, leader, Mom, busy home-maker, and micro-manager. This combination, under the pressure of a tight timeline for major life change, is the perfect storm to turn me into a barking, harsh, commander who makes the lives of everyone around miserable with the quick winds of unrealistic expectation.

Kimberley Mulder RestI foresee a squabble and pre-empt it through lecture or separation. I get bent out of shape when my timeline for the day is warped by not finding a child’s shoes where they should be (how many times have I told you to put it where it belongs…!). I accuse people of being inconsiderate for taking too long to say goodnight. You get the picture.

To me God says “Rest”. Take a break from the plans, the details, and the must-do’s. Lay down your management of relationships, your pursuit of perfection, your penchant for peace and allow His right relation, His perfection, allow His peacemaking to shine through. I must enjoy Jesus’ offering to befriend me in my imperfections; accept His invitation to give me His peace that transcends the sum of my circumstances. I let the wrinkles remain in the sheets today, it’s not the day to fix them. I make room in the disorganized space for the kids to sort things out themselves, for Jesus is with them too. I allow this day to shine in its given glory.


2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and records the reflections and connections Jesus gives her to share with others.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

Sacred Mundane: A Book Excerpt from Kari Patterson

For our July book recommendation Anchored Voices is honored to be able to share a book excerpt from Kari Patterson’s new book Sacred Mundane now available at Amazon.

How Will You Run the Last Leg? 

Several years ago I ran in the world’s longest relay race, Hood-to-Coast. Our team was named “Girls and Guys with Aching Thighs,” and this was an apt description! It was an incredible experience, spending thirty hours in a van with six other sweaty runners, sleeping on the ground, running in the middle of the night, becoming fast friends in that surprisingly immediate way that only really uncomfortable circumstance can bring.

Sacred Mundane SidebarThere were twelve of us who ran three legs each, and I had the joy of being the last runner. This meant I ran the final stretch of the entire 200-mile race, stepping off pavement and onto sand, through the finish line.

I’ll never forget the feeling of finishing well, and the key was, I knew when the end of the race was near.

See, each leg of the race had a map, complete with elevation and course description. I had studied my legs. I knew that last one—how it would climb for a straight mile, then drop steeply at the end, then wind through the city of Seaside, then end up on the beach.

When I reached the steep descent, I knew it was time to pour it all out. My quads hurt so bad. Our team name wasn’t cute then—this was killin’ me! But there was no use holding back, no reason to save strength for later. I knew I’d never regret giving it my all. I ran as hard as I could.

When I saw the ocean, I can’t describe the joy in my heart. The view would have been breathtaking, but my breath was already taken. Thousands of people crowded on the beach, congratulating each other, an overwhelming celebration. What a glorious end!

My team was there too, my beloved friends, cheering me on through those final strides off the sidewalk and onto the sand and through the finish line. I was tired but overjoyed. I was so glad I had given it my all.

So glad I’d poured out.

Friends, we’re on the last leg.

Friends, Jesus is returning. Like, soon.

Now believe me, I am the furthest thing from an eschatology-obsessed, reading-Revelation-over-and-over, stockpiling-supplies-for-Armageddon kind of girl. Okay? I have zero interest in end-times arguments and pre-trib or post-trib camps.

This isn’t the time to huddle together under banners Jesus didn’t wave.

Jesus did give us some pretty specific instruction, however, and one of the most repeated was simply this: know the signs of the times.

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus exhorts us, “Stay awake.” He warns us that just as in the days of Noah, the end will come upon many when they least expect it. He gives us many clues to help discern when his return is near, a course map so to speak, and although no one knows the day, we do know the season.

We have a pretty clear description of the last leg. And Jesus says explicitly, “When these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).

Friends, our full redemption is drawing near. As I have been praying about this chapter, asking specifically what God wanted me to say, I heard this simple phrase over and over in my heart: “Tell them I’m coming soon.”

sacred mundane instaSo there. Jesus is coming soon. I have no definition of what “soon” is, but there is no way I’m ignoring this sense in my spirit, and I have seen dozens of things lining up in times recently that convince me our time here is coming to a close. I’ve seen the course description of this final stretch.

There’s a steep descent upon us, and it’s moments before the ocean opens up before us and we see the finish line.

These are the days for pouring out.

In the book of James, God gives a harsh indictment of the rich because they hoarded their resources instead of pouring them out for others. Specifically, James writes, “You have laid up treasure in the last days” (James 5:3). In other words, this is the time to pour out, not store up. Now is not the time to lay up treasures here on earth. Now is not the time to hold back, saving some for later.

These are the last days, a time for all to pour out, and our glorious God is going first.

We are seeing unprecedented outpouring of his Spirit on this earth in prophecy and signs, in miracles and movements. And we are also seeing darkness. We are seeing the chasm grow wide and the gradual separation between opposing kingdoms.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to live lukewarm, and the fence won’t hold us up any longer. We have to pick a side. Those who choose Christ are given a precious and great promise: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people . . . and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:17, 21).

He’s been calling us to bear fruit, and it’s almost harvest time.

Now, let’s bring this full circle. My desire is that we would let our days transform our lives. That we’d dip down into our ordinary days in such a way that we are radically transformed from the inside out. That our mindsets change, our habits change, our marriages change, our budgets change, our lives change. Why? So we can bear fruit that nourishes those near and far and displays God’s glory for all to see. This is how we prepare for every ordinary Tuesday, and this is how we prepare for the glorious return of Christ. Jesus already promised he will commend those who were faithful with little, so our simple aim is to live our sacred mundane in a way that pleases him.

 


Kari PattersonExcerpt from Sacred Mundane: How to find freedom, purpose, and joy, available through Amazon or directly through www.karipatterson.com. Kari reaches thousands of women worldwide through speaking events and her popular blog, Sacred Mundane. She’s a pastor’s wife, homeschool mom, Bible teacher, mentor, and passionate seeker of truth. All royalties from the sale of this book will benefit World Vision’s work with women and children in need.

 

 

Driving Free

Author: Kate Franken

I couldn’t breathe. Every muscle tensed. My face turned hot and clammy. I could see myself driving off the bridge. I wanted to slam the brakes and runaway. And then, in my head, I saw all the cars hitting me from behind.

I wrestled against what I felt, despite its intensity, and steered myself off to the side of the highway, once I gradually made it over the bridge. And there I sat paralyzed with fear, trying to breathe. I eventually pushed myself back out onto the highway, knowing people were expecting me. I drove with trepidation, fearful of another panic attack.

Kate Franken Driving freeThis moment is so vivid for me, the feelings of having no control pulsed strong. It, among other panic attacks, sit locked in my memory, ready to haunt me whenever I drive bridges, busy highways, and always the freeway.

When this anxiety first surfaced a little over two years ago, I immediately tried to make sense of it. I however couldn’t make sense of it on my own. I didn’t understand people that had panic attacks. I didn’t understand how I could go from a fearless to a fearful driver almost overnight for no obvious reason.

Fortunately, over time, I made my hidden pain known, despite the overwhelming sense of shame the anxiety invoked. A friend with a biblical counseling repertoire and a brother pursuing a medical doctorate degree, have helped me piece together the root of this affliction. The year prior to the start of the panic attacks, I experienced a number of (small) incidents on the road in which control felt stripped from me. One was a near accident, in which the van in front of me hit ice and swung wildly over both lanes of the highway on a narrow overpass. I had to press forward and pray the van stayed in the other lane as I passed.

Twice, I was in a car that was rear-ended. Another accident occurred when a motorcyclist hit my rear tire as I pulled out from a store parking lot one night. I had looked both ways and had seen nothing. From my perception, the motorcyclist had come out from nowhere. It was questioned post-scene-of-the-accident, whether the motorcyclist had a headlight because none could be found in the pictures of the wrecked motorcycle. These occurrences combined have potentially given me a bit of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Enemy ruthlessly attacked me in my weakness. I sought to get rid of the Devil’s foothold. I attempted the remedies for driving anxiety a Google search had rendered and the suggestions put forth by friends to no avail.

After a solid year of pushing myself to combat my fear, I gave up. I was tired of the panic attacks. They showed no sign of leaving. Back roads became my main means of going anywhere distant. I resigned to the belief that this affliction was my thorn. Like Paul, I had to accept that it wasn’t going to go away.

This mindset crippled me all the more. I’m certain the Enemy was wearing his evil grin as he saw me sink deeper into despair. But this is not where this story ends, for the Author of Freedom would not just let me be. He’s been faithful as I’ve endured this trial, using it for good. Great is my gratitude for all that He has shed light on as I’ve reached for freedom.

Driving free Kate FrankenI learned that fear and anxiety come about when we don’t trust that God is good. We are not living in obedience to God when fear and anxiety have a hold on us. For a professed believer, this can create feelings of shame, and thus the natural inclination is to believe a lie, to believe I can have both fear and anxiety and believe that God is good. But fear and anxiety will never loose its grip until you’re honest about your lack of trust in God. It’s when we are honest, that the Holy Spirit can then address the root issue.

My natural inclination to be self-sufficient and strong hinders me. When we are weak, He is strong. We need to lay down our fear and anxiety, and give it to the Lord. We can walk in the light when we stop pretending we’re not scared.

I  was impacted dramatically with the wisdom Apostle Paul imparts in Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

When I resigned to my anxiety being my thorn forevermore, I had quit hoping. But it’s only with a hope in God that we can prevail against the Enemy’s schemes. It is only when we hope in Him that the best stories of freedom are written.

For too long, I wanted to ignore my affliction, thus I wasn’t praying about it. We need to be relentless in our communing with Our Lord, to have greater truth spoken over our lives. Each time we get on our knees and seek Him, our world is reoriented as it should be, with Him at the center.

The freedom I now experience allows me to travel over bridges and busy highways fairly painlessly. I’m steadily regaining my ability to drive on the freeway, after a year’s absence. Knowing where I’ve been and where I am now, only God could have freed me from these chains. He is the one to seek if we long to be free.

 


kate-squareKate Franken is a 4th grade teacher and a volunteer coordinator at her church in Oregon. She enjoys indulging in raw conversation whilst savoring a cup or more of coffee. Her hunt for good books and podcasts is endless. She finds refuge surrounded by trees, on hiking trails, with her two dogs in tow. She is especially fond of mountaintop views, wit, “best teacher ever” love letters, breakfast, a painted sky, and Jesus. She has a heart for connecting people to His church and encouraging others into relationship with Him.

July Printable: A Watered Garden

Here in the middle of summer people can begin to feel emotionally parched, but the Lord can satisfy. Sarah Dohman wanted to remind us of where the water for our souls come from with this month’s free printable.

“The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58:11

May the word of God water your roots so that you may bloom into whatever comes next.

Click Here to Grab Your Free Printable!

Isaiah 58-11 Printable Preview.jpg

Friendship Takes Two

Author: Kate Franken

There was a time when I rarely opened my Bible, never once did I read a book in its entirety. I would pray a stream of words that flowed from my mind and not my heart. With little understanding of what the words within my memorized prayers actually meant, I prayed to the saints and to Mary, in attempts to better reach God.

It was a time when I knew some things about God, but I didn’t know God.

I was thirsty. I sought to quench my thirst with an inordinate number of things of this world like a farm animal that repeatedly gets its head stuck in the fence due to its pursuit to be satisfied. I persisted in chasing after fleeting desire, despite experience teaching me to do otherwise. I was chasing after the wind.

One hot summer’s day, a group of friends and I were embarking on a three hour drive to a northern coast town; we were given the choice of two cars. One of the two friends driving shared that she planned to listen to a sermon on the way up, knowing that would influence some people’s decisions. While the majority packed themselves in the other car, I opted to join her and her sister. 

As we rolled down stretches of country roads, my interest in what the pastor had to say about God grew. One sermon became two. Two became three and so on. And most beautifully, for the first time, we talked deeply about the things of God as dear friends.

After that day, I continued to listen to that same pastor. His teachings helped me see God with new eyes. He awakened me to God’s invitation to have a personal relationship with Him. He helped me see that God wanted my heart, not my works. He erased the hoops I had thought I must jump to reach God, and allowed me to see that God was close. The pastor captivated me with his words, as he broadened my understanding of who God is. 

One of the most mind-blowing things I learned in those podcast sermons was that God calls us friend.

Kate Franken FriendshipJohn 15:12-17 states, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”

There is no greater love than Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, laying down His life for us. He is listening as we seek him. God loves us in a way no other friend can. With God, we are known—fully, truly, and still He loves us. He chooses us. He qualifies us to do Kingdom work. He showers us in mercy and incomprehensibly calls us friend.

God simply asks that we love. We love one another. We love Him.

As our friend, He wants to hear from us. He wants our prayers, for us to seek Him always. He values authenticity and constancy, just as we do. The more honest we are with God, the deeper our friendship becomes with Him.

Friendship is a two-way street. Just as He wants us to talk to Him, He wants us to listen to Him. He speaks to us through the Bible, so we must regularly be in the Word to hear His voice. His Word is alive and active and we ought not to dismiss its power and authority.

Friendship requires that both friends prioritize one another. It’s when this doesn’t occur, that friendships fall apart. We need to be asking ourselves routinely Am I prioritizing God? If not, we must reorient.

Friendship Kate FrankenForging a friendship with God has forever changed me. He has my heart and is all I’ll ever need. I lean greatly on the truth of His Word and the intimacy of prayer to walk the hills and valleys before me. It’s a fierce and beautiful friendship that has brought peace to what tomorrow holds. The peace comes about from knowing God—knowing he can be trusted eternally.

May this be an encouragement for you to incline your heart towards Him, seek His face, and lessen the gap. Open your Bible. Pray vulnerable words. Drink from the cup where you’ll thirst no more, forge and keep your friendship alive with the Truest of Friends.


kate-squareKate Franken is a 4th grade teacher and a volunteer coordinator at her church in Oregon. She enjoys indulging in raw conversation whilst savoring a cup or more of coffee. Her hunt for good books and podcasts is endless. She finds refuge surrounded by trees, on hiking trails, with her two dogs in tow. She is especially fond of mountaintop views, wit, “best teacher ever” love letters, breakfast, a painted sky, and Jesus. She has a heart for connecting people to His church and encouraging others into relationship with Him.

June Printable: Worry Not

Dear Readers,

As those who belong to Jesus, worry will not steal from us anymore! Sarah Dohman has created this beautiful printable to remind you that you are cared for by the God who knitted the universe together.  May these words from Corrie Ten Boom, who was a courageous survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, on your wall, desk, or wherever you like to put your printables remind you that you can trust God to be who He says He is!

Download this beautiful printable here!

CTB Worry Quote