Resurrection Sunday Evening

On the evening that Jesus arose from the dead he came and stood among the disciples. The first thing he said? “Peace be with you.” Jesus didn’t want his disciples living in fear, and he doesn’t want that for us now. His cross, the empty tomb, and his presence are meant to bring us peace.
Then, Jesus showed the disciples the wounds in his hands and his side. The 2nd thing he said? Again, “Peace be with you” but then he added “As the father has sent me, I am sending you.” Jesus had a plan to send his disciples to make him known. That’s his plan for us too.
I’d like to encourage us to live sent. I know yesterday was a big church day for a lot of us, and that’s a good thing. There’s lots of encouragement in crowds of people worshipping God. But how many people didn’t worship yesterday? My point is that so many people in this world desperately need the peace that only Jesus can bring. Jesus is sending us to share his love and message. Maybe today, remembering what we celebrated this past weekend, we can make a commitment to have a gospel conversation with someone. Something beyond the surface, taking a spiritual interest in the people around us and looking for an opportunity to share with them how Jesus has brought peace to us. In those gospel conversations we’re never alone, the Spirit leads and the power of Christ is experienced in a unique way.
Have a good day, friends. And as Jesus would say, “Peace be with you.”

**John 20:19-21

Thursday of Holy Week

Thursday of Holy Week — Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane. Our Savior, knowing the cross was before him, in a dark garden of trees, prayed “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt 26:39)

Gethsemane means garden of the olive press. Olives were vitally important to 1st century Jewish life. Their oil was used for food, medicine, perfume, cosmetics, fuel for lamps, and making soap. You probably know this, olives have to crushed under the weight of a huge stone before their value is realized. Jesus was crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5) by the wrath of God and 3 days later he rose again. The value of his sacrifice continues to be realized.

Thank you Jesus for your obedience to the Father and having the unwavering courage to face the cross for us. We love you Lord. We are thankful. Let us have an ever increasing appreciation. In your name we pray, amen.

Wednesday of Holy Week — Judas

Wednesday of Holy Week — Judas agrees to sellout Jesus. The account of Judas is heartbreaking, chilling, and perplexing. How could he be that close to Jesus for so long and still reject him? If we are honest tho, we see echos of Judas in our own life, every time we seek the approval of others over God’s, when we choose our glory over His, when we desire anything more than we desire Him. Among the many things we can learn from the tragedy that is Judas’s life — it never goes well when we turn our back on Jesus. Jesus is ALWAYS better than the world’s best thing.

Lord, keep us close. We need you. We love you. We are thankful. In Jesus name, amen.

Passion Week Timeline

Passion Week or Holy Week as it is also referred to records the last week of Jesus life on earth. It’s not an understatement to say that it’s the most important week of the most important person who ever lived. The gospel narratives reflect the importance of the week. About 25% of the gospel according to Matthew records the last week of his life. For followers of Christ, this week should be a time of focused reflection. Please make use of this Passion Week Timeline and follow the events of Jesus life in his last days on earth as we approach Resurrection Sunday. Each day read a corresponding passage and try and see the event with your mind’s eye, think about it’s significance, pray and seek God for how you might live differently based on what it’s showing us.

Who is your king?

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the day when Jesus Christ made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when he was praised and hailed as King, just days before he was crucified for our sins. As we reflect on Palm Sunday, this is a great time to ask: Who is my king? Who’s the one I trust the most? Who do I most want to be like? Who’s the biggest influence in my life? These are questions that can reveal our true allegiance to a king. We NEED a king. And no politician or religious guru or anything this world has to offer will do. Only Jesus. He’s the one true King. He’s the only King who knows all, sees all, loves us enough to die in our place, and is powerful enough to overcome death to save us. 

He’s the King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s. Is He your King?

Parenting teens is HAAARD…

Parenting is hard. Parenting teens is HAAAARD 🥴I love teenagers and have a heart for their parents. There are few things worse than seeing people who love each other so much, not get along. Sadly, that’s a lot of parents and teens. Every teen is unique but some needs are consistent across the board. Here’s 5 things EVERY teenager needs:

1. Affirmation – Typically we encourage the mess out of kids during adolescence and then when they get to be teens we take more of a “Hey, grow up!” approach. I get it. And there’s some wisdom in that. But no one ever outgrows the need for encouragement. Parents of teens need to be good at saying “I believe in you”, “You can do this” and “I’m so proud of you.”

2. Discipline – They’re not too big to be disciplined. Help them understand the connection between their actions and consequences while they’re still under your roof. Yes, they’ll get mad. Then, they’ll get over it, and eventually they’ll thank you for it. 😉

3. Grace – They’re going to make mistakes. Big ones. A lot of them. Forgive, keep on forgiving and commit to loving them through it. Don’t hold their past against them. Like a good referee, call a foul when you need to, assess the penalty, and then move on. **And whatever you do, don’t give a thought to how their actions “make you look” 🙄 People are gonna talk bad about you (and your kids) because they’re the type of people who talk bad about people. Let ‘em. 🤷🏻‍♂️ Just stick with your kiddo, give Grace, and help them grow however you can.

4. Instruction – Teens may come off like prideful know it alls but they’re typically just really nervous, trying to find their way and looking for answers. Share everything you can about your faith, your values, and practical living. Hint*- when they look like they’re least attentive, might be when they’re listening the most.

5. Affection – They’re not too cool! Hug your teens often. They may bristle against it, don’t be deterred. They need it. If it’s a boy you might need to go from a headlock into a hug. That counts. My girls? I keep an arm around ‘em, hold their hand, give ‘em a kiss every chance I get. Does it embarrass them? Maybe, but it’s way down the list of things I do that embarrass them 😂 What fun is parenting if you can’t embarrass your kids! Ha.

Affirmation, discipline, grace, instruction, affection. There are many more, I’m sure. But parents, I hope you found these encouraging and helpful.

I’ve got 5 kiddos, 4 in double digits, my oldest will be 22 tomorrow 👴🏻 and one thing I’ve learned is that I’m STILL learning. 😅 It’s a journey and we’re not alone. We need the Lord every step of the way, and we need each other. ✊🏼

FOR not FROM…

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. – Jeremiah 29:7

Applies so well for followers of Christ today! This isn’t our home, Heaven is. But we’re here for a purpose! To love the people of our communities. Seek good for them. Pray to God for them. And then, in striving for the good of others? We’ll find good for ourselves as well.

🔑 Seek good things FOR others not FROM others. That’s a major shift from the way our (my) hearts typically operate. But according to God’s Word we won’t find the good we desire in trying to take. We’ll find it in striving to give.

Lord, train our hearts to think about what want FOR others, not FROM others. Help us to trust You to provide as we set our sights on being faithful. We love you, Lord. We are thankful. In Jesus name, Amen. 🙏🏼

He’s the God of Bethel…

“I am the God of Bethel” (Gen 31:13)

Bethel means “House of God.” It was the name that Jacob gave the place where he’d encountered God at his lowest point—when he was on the run, suffering the consequences of his actions, alone, seperated from family, out in the desert, using a rock for a pillow. But a desolate place became a joyful glorious place of worship when Jacob realized the presense of God and said “Surely the Lord was in this place and I did not know it.” (Gen 28:16)

Then, many years later, God comes to Jacob in a dream, urging him to step out in faith and says “I am the God of Bethel.” With just 6 words God reminded Jacob of his power, goodness, and faithfulness, and gave him courage to move ahead in faith.

God still calls us back to instances of his faithfulness to call us forward in faith. Mainly, he points us to the cross to remember his love for us(Rom 5:8). But he may also remind you of a time when you thought there was no way out and He made a way. Or maybe you remember how God saved you. That sweet moment when you made a decision to follow Jesus, no turning back. Like he did for Jacob, God wants to remind us of his faithfulness and have us carry it with us into whatever He has called us to next.

Charles Spurgeon said “You remember, some of you, perhaps, the first time when pardoning love was revealed to you — when you were brought to see the love of God in the great atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Well, to-night, the Lord says to you, ‘I am the same God as you have ever found me. I have not changed. I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed, even as your father Jacob was not consumed; for I was even to him the selfsame God.’”

The same God that saved you will sustain you, friends. Step out and follow Him with boldness. He’s not done with you. He’s the God of Bethel.

BIG NEWS – LUKA JAMES LAYMAN

🚨 BIG NEWS 🚨

Rebecca Egger took this picture for us back in November. But today we share it as an official family picture because today Luka James Layman was adopted as an official member of our family. There are a lot of glorious details to the story but I’ll keep it short — God is good and He knew that this was our son before we did. He saw fit for this to be a reality and we are beyond thankful.

We named him Luka James Layman.

•Luka — I first affectionately called him “Luka the boy wonder” within the first few days he was born. His little infant body had miraculously overcome A LOT and I very naturally equated that to the young Dallas Mavs superstar, Luka Doncic 🐴 🏀 😂 I later learned that Luka is derived from the Latin word “lux” which means LIGHT. And this little man has brought SO MUCH LIGHT to our lives. ‘Luka’ — it’s even more appropriate than I’d originally thought.

•James — The middle name of his older brother Q, and comes from Casey’s dad’s first name, James Vineyard, who was a willing and joyful dad to Casey, when he didn’t have to be. Again, so appropriate.

•Layman — our family name. Which, ironically means “a person who is not a member of the clergy (professional ministry)” It’s a name for a common, informal, untrained person. Man that is us! 🙂 Our prayer is that in joining our family, Luka James is joining the ranks of a group of nobodies who live to tell everyone about the one true Somebody, Jesus Christ. All glory to HIM!

We love y’all and thank you so much for all your support! We’re not done fostering either 😳😜

Foster parent guidelines ask that we not share pictures of kids. You’ve seen some pics of the back of Lukas head, some of him in sunglasses, and a few side profiles, but we have an entire year + of pictures of him with us. We put together a 7 min video. I know it’s long, but we’re making up for whole year! 😆 We had to put the video to music because we love music and each of the songs are significant to us and his life. I’m not sure how long the video will

be up because **we don’t own the rights to any of the music** So while you can, if you’d like, click the link below.

https://vimeo.com/515931889

Praying for Fort Worth

Such a horrible heartbreaking incident on I35W in Fort Worth this morning. 100 cars involved and 5 fatalities. Hardworking people took out early this morning to get to their jobs, to do their part, and provide for their families and tragically lost their life. Others are barely hanging on to life right now and many are dealing with life changing injuries. Family members of those involved are grieving and sorting through how to deal with the magnitude of it all. It must seem like a bad dream for them.
No doubt the police, firefighters and medics are shook to their core over this. Their job is hard every day, but most haven’t ever dealt with anything like this.

Friends, let’s pray for these people!

Father in Heaven, these folks need your hand of healing and your peace that goes beyond understanding right now. Please bring healing to those who are physically hurt and guard the hearts of all affected. Be with every person dealing with the loss of a loved one or with serious injury.
Lord please comfort the emergency workers. Please speak to their spirit that they did all they could. We thank you for their faithfulness. Help all of us to love each other well, both prayerful and practically. Show us ways to help where we can and remind us to take time to feel the weight of this tragedy and go to our knees on behalf of those impacted.
Lord Jesus, I pray that all would turn to you during something like this. We don’t know why something like this happens. But the cross reminds us that you love us, and the empty tomb reminds us that you’re powerful. Let all involved feel your love and power.
We love you, Lord.
In Jesus name, Amen.