DEAR Chapel Springs Family,

As we continue the journey of shaping our lives around the Christian Calendar, we come upon a
season known as Lent. A seven-week period, Lent serves to bring our whole lives back to God—to recognize and turn from the voices that have led us away from God, so we can hear and turn toward His voice that beckons us to Him. Although Lent is a time of abstaining, our emphasis should be less on “what am I fasting from” and more on “what am I feasting on?” Fasting simply creates space during Lent to feast more on God and less on the world around us.

Lent positions us to once again lay down our lives and follow Jesus in the way of the Cross. As early as the second century, the Church observed Lent in some form, which comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word that means “spring”—the season of new birth. During Lent, the old dies through the power of the Cross so the new can spring forth through the power of the Resurrection. In other words, Lent prepares us for the coming Easter season.


Genesis 2:7
Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.


Centuries ago in a small European monastery, faithful Christian monks arose every morning, took a spoon, and walked to the graveyard to dig one spoonful of dirt for what would eventually become their graves. This served to remind the men of their mortality. Digging your grave one day at a time would definitely put into perspective your daily decisions and actions.

Ash Wednesday ushers in Lent with the same admonition: “Dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19). On this day, some churches practice the tradition of receiving ashes on the forehead from burned palm branches to remind them of their mortality. Even if you don’t participate in such a tradition, spend time this week pondering your mortality. Our society finds endless ways to turn our attention away from the reality of death. Lent brings us back to the fact that we will physically die, so we must wisely make the most of our lives by following Jesus in dying to self and living our days in Him. Only after dying to our ways can we fully live the Resurrection life that Easter Sunday celebrates.

What voices do you hear on a regular basis that try to help you forget your mortality? (Think about TV ads, the products you purchase, the messages you see and hear on social media, etc.)


Genesis 3:17-19
To Adam he [God] said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”


From dust we’ve come and dust we are and shall return
Be still my soul and let it go, just let it go

Glory to God
Glory to God in the highest

Naked we came and shall return into the grave
Be still my soul and let it go, just let it go

Glory to God
Glory to God in the highest

Be still my soul, Lord make me whole, Lord make me whole
Be still my soul, Lord make me whole, Lord make me whole, Lord make me whole
Be still my soul, Lord make me whole, Lord make me whole

Sit with God and talk with Him about what you need to let go of during this Lenten season to make more room for him. 

PSALM 103:13-18
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

During this season of life, where do you feel and see your human limits? How do you feel and see God’s compassion?

Holy God, giver of all hope, guide me on this Lenten journey so I may truly live as a follower of Jesus in all I do. Remind me that my days are numbered so I may live them fully alive in You. Amen.

Job 42:1-6
Then Job replied to the LORD:
“I know that you can do all things;
     no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
    Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
    but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
    and repent in dust and ashes.”


What questions are you currently wrestling with in life? How do they reveal your limited experience and knowledge as a human made of dust? How do they reveal God’s limitlessness?

Almighty Creator, thank you for the questions that are birthed from my limited understanding. May they serve to remind me that I am not You. May I find solace in knowing that I do not know all but that You do. I entrust the unknowns to You. Amen.



Watch this week’s sermon.

What was your big takeaway from this message?

How does God want you to apply this message this week?

In one or two sentences, write a simple prayer in response to this message.


In many Christian traditions, prayer and fasting is essential to embracing the season of Lent, linking it to Jesus’ 40-day fast in the wilderness. After His baptism, Jesus detached himself from the world to attend to God in prayer. Fasting from food, Jesus came face-to-face with the cravings of the human heart and the false attachments common to the human condition. The voice of temptation beckoned Him to satisfy the human appetite for pleasure, wealth, and power apart from God. However, this time also became a means of feasting on God, depending on the only One who could sustain. Jesus demonstrated the path to true and complete freedom from false attachments is found in denying self and depending on God. In freedom, Jesus began His public ministry, a journey that led Him to sacrifice His own life on the cross.

Like Jesus, fasting provides an opportunity to relinquish normal necessities to intentionally attend to the voice of God. We fast from in order to feast on. We lay down an appetite for food, media, habits, and comforts in an act of self-denial to make more room for God in our lives. As Adele Calhoun explains, “Fasting exposes how we try to keep empty hunger at bay and gain a sense of well-being by devouring creature comforts. Through self-denial we begin to recognize what controls us.” Prayer and fasting creates an occasion to deal with our false attachments and experience the great paradox of discipleship: we lay down our life to find it in God. By shunning the voice that tempts us to satisfy our appetites in our own way, we open ourselves to encounter Jesus, the living Word, who alone satisfies our soul’s deepest longings!

-Devotional Writer: Dawn Barbee

You can practice fasting in many ways. Fast from a food or drink, such as meat, desserts, or coffee. Possibly fast from shopping, TV, computer games, or social media—spend the time you now have with God. What will you fast during this Lenten season so you can feast more on God?


Fast from the swelling darkness,
Feast on the power of his light
Fast from discontentment,
Feast on the joy that he brings

Sustainer, Protector, the Well of Life
My Helper, My comfort, the bread of life
is you, is you

Fast from the fear that haunts us,
Feast on the power of his might
Fast from the trap of judgment,
Feast on all that’s been redeemed

Sustainer, Protector, the Well of Life
My Helper, My comfort, the bread of life
is you, is you

From the sorrow’s shadow to perfect light!
From the darkness of our doubt to a cleansing white
From the sorrow’s shadow to perfect light
From the blindness of our sin to healing sight Sustainer, Protector,
the Well of Life My Helper,
My comfort, the bread of life

Sustainer, Protector, the Well of Life
My Helper, My comfort, the bread of life
is you, is you

What part of this song stood out to you? What might God be speaking to you through it?


Deuteronomy 8:2-5
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.


Jesus “feasted on food made of words, baked in the mouth of God.” How has the voice of God spoken to you this week through His Word?

In your fasting, how have you been tempted to “fill the hunger”? (what do you find yourself reaching for instead of God?)

Your Word tells me in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that you will provide a way of escape from temptation. Please, Lord, give me the wisdom to walk away when I am tempted, and the clarity to see the way out that you will provide. Thank you, God, that you are a faithful deliverer and that I can count on your help in my time of need.

Galatians 5:16-17
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

Breathe on me, breath of God
Fill me with life anew
That I may love and love what thou dost do
Breathe on me, breath of God
Until my heart is pure

Breathe on me, breath of God
Align my soul with Thine
And to your loving heart will thy bind

Breathe on me, breath of God
Until my heart is pure
Breathe on me, breath of God
Until my heart is pure


Father, You know the temptations that I am facing today. I need your help. My flesh is weak, so I need your help and the power of your Holy Spirit to fill me with strength. Your Word promises that I will not be tempted beyond what I can bear. I ask for your strength to stand up against temptation every time I encounter it. In the name of Jesus, Amen.


1 John 2:15-17
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.


“Years ago I read a quotation from Mary Lyon that recurs to me again and again: ‘Nine-tenths of our suffering is caused by others not thinking so much of us as we think they ought.’ If you want to know where pride nestles and festers in most of us, that is right where it is; and it is not the opposition of others, but our own pride, which causes us the deepest hurt. I never read a word that penetrated more deeply into the sin of pride from which all of us suffer, nor one which opens up more surgically our places
of unforgiveness.” –Samuel Moor Shoemaker

Pride is a temptation whose voice whispers to each one of us. Where
have you heard pride in your heart this week? Is pride keeping you from
forgiving someone? From serving someone?

O God, who resists the proud and gives grace to the humble: grant me the virtue of true humility, as Your only-begotten son, Jesus, showed us. Through meekness may I receive the riches of Your grace. Amen.

Psalm 42:1-2
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?


“Fasting puts us in touch with our deepest hungers and points us toward the only One who can satisfy them. Lenten fasts are meant to bring us face-to-face with our soul’s emptiness. In a divine paradox, as we seek to be filled by him, we’re freed to be used by him to pour out his love on his hungry, thirsty world.” – Michelle Van Loon

Where have you seen the hunger and thirst of the world around you this week? Where have you seen and felt it within you?

How have you been tempted to feast on self-centeredness instead of emptying yourself out for others?

Help me stay awake so that temptation won’t catch me by surprise. I want to keep on praying so that I won’t be dragged away by evil desires. Help me keep my spirit well fed with your Holy Word so that I always remember that greater are you, Almighty God, who is living in me than any power of darkness and sin that is in the world.




Watch this week’s sermon.

What was your big takeaway from this message?

How does God want you to apply this message this week?

In one or two sentences, write a simple prayer in response to this message.


Few of us take the time to intentionally examine our daily or weekly life. We move about at such a quick pace, cramming as much as possible into our days and schedules that we don’t even think of giving space to consider what did and did not happen.

There is an ancient spiritual discipline called “the examen” that Christians have practiced for centuries to examine their lives in partnership with the Holy Spirit. Adele Calhoun explains that “the examen provides a way of noticing where God shows up in our day. It is a practice that attends to what we might otherwise miss in the press of duties and busyness.” During the examen, like David we ask, “Search me, God, and know my heart … See if there is any offensive way in me” (Psalm 139).

We can practice the examen in various ways. This week focus on examining where you received and gave justice or injustice in your life.

Devotional Writer: Pastor Stephanie Nance

1. Quiet yourself before God. Remind yourself that you are in the presence of God. Invite the Holy Spirit, who is living in you, to help you examine your day.

2. Give Thanks: Spend a few moments in gratitude, thanking God for one or two of the blessings, big and small, that you’ve received today.

3. Review the Day: Guided by the Holy Spirit, look back on the day. Specifically look back on where you saw justice abound in you, through you, and around you.

4. Face Your Sin: Face up to where you sinned. Specifically allow the Spirit to show you where you refused justice, supported an unjust system, or ignored the voice of injustice around you. Ask for forgiveness.

5. Look Toward the Day to Come: Prayerfully imagine tomorrow, asking yourself, “How will I allow Jesus to speak and act justly through me in my community. Imagine specific things you will do or say that will bring life and justice to others.

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” -Teresa of Avila

Ephesians 1:22-23
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him [Jesus] to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.



After the death and resurrection of Jesus, He ascended to the heavenly realm where He intercedes for us. Because of His love for us, the Father sent the Holy Spirit to empower us—His Body—to live like Jesus on the earth. This means we should ask daily how we will live like Jesus in our family, our neighborhood, our workplace, and our community. How will you allow God to use you this week to speak and live out the love, mercy, and forgiveness of the crucified Jesus on the earth?

Holy God, today I ask for the courage to do what is right and pleasing in Your sight and for the strength to execute justice wherever necessary. I pray that all injustice everywhere might be brought into check and that all who presently practice injustice might refrain from such practices and be transformed by the blood of Jesus. Give me the grace to be just and true in all I do. Help me to be kind and fair to all men and women.

I ask for prejudice, envy, hatred, malice, bitterness, and anger to be eradicated since all these act as a catalyst to engage in acts of injustice. Replace them, Lord, with your love, joy, and peace so that I can be a beacon of hope to others experiencing injustice. Amen.


Hebrews 9:11-14
But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!


How does the blood of Jesus speak justice to the injustices you’ve experienced in life?

How might God want to position your life to speak to those injustices in a redemptive way?

Father, I pray not only for myself but for everyone
who is personally affected by injustice.
Forgive us, Lord, if we unwittingly share in the conditions
or in a system that perpetuates injustice.
Show us how we can serve your children
and make your love practical by serving them.

 Micah 6:8
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

What is one way you can act justly today?

How can you show mercy today?

What will it look like for you to walk humbly with God today?

Give us, O Lord, an eye for injustice.
For it is only when we can recognize injustice and feel its awful sting
that we will be moved to make things right.

Give us, O Lord, a tender heart.
Sometimes we are too hard-hearted to recognize when we have been uncaring, unfeeling, or unkind.

Grant us, O Lord, the ability to view life from the dust.
All of our lives we have been taught to make others proud, to be proud of ourselves, to hold our heads high—all the while missing the virtues of being poor in spirit.
Teach us dear Lord, to do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with you.

Luke 10:25-37
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”


In a nation of extreme individualism, we tend to walk by and ignore people who are different from us, who we are uncomfortable around, and who we aren’t responsible for. We’d rather keep to our own family and those like us. How is the blood of Jesus speaking to you, asking you to be your brother’s keeper in your own neighborhood and community?

Father, let us be peacemakers. Help us to call people friends not enemies. Help us to love and not to hate. Help us to care and not to turn away. Let us be more like Jesus. Amen.

Luke 4:14-19
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”


Take at least ten minutes to practice the examen at the end of your day. Follow the steps from Monday’s explanation of the examen, asking yourself these questions: Where did I follow Jesus and live out justice this week as a disciple? Where was there an absence of justice in my life this week as a disciple?



Watch this week’s sermon.

What was your big takeaway from this message?

How does God want you to apply this message this week?

In one or two sentences, write a simple prayer in response to this message.



“Josh… Josh… Joshua… Are you listening?!”

I’ve “heard” this statement several times this morning from my wife—and I’m not even out of bed yet. With Bluetooth headphones in, catching up on the latest ESPN personality trash talk, I tend to lend an ear to the most convenient voices of my choosing to start the day.

With a dash of irritation because my selective world was pierced again, I reply, “What?!” Glancing up from my iPhone, I realize that she was in a dire situation juggling my son, getting dressed, and needing to have some real talk with her husband before I went about my day.

Selective hearing is the ability to focus on a specific sound. It’s the ability to sit in a loud room, yet still focus on the conversation before us. However, in a world full of noise we tend to select the stimuli that best suits us.

1 Samuel 3 speaks of a young prophet learning to hear God’s voice. Misunderstanding the Voice for that of Eli, his mentor, Samuel ran to the familiar. Eli recognized the moment and counseled him in selective hearing: “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’”

Eli taught Samuel the discipline of listening—how to position himself to allow the Spirit of God to become the Voice in his life. He learned how to respond in listening. He learned how to obey in responding

-Devotional Writer: Pastor Joshua Wesley

Be a student. Reposition your heart to learn from the Eli’s of your world as they turn you toward God’s voice. We need wise mentors speaking into our lives.

Create space in your life to hear God’s voice. Recognize and resist the moments that distract you from your God encounter.

God, I know you still speak today. Attune my ears and eyes to recognize your communication to me. Open my heart to receive your word and empower my life to live in response to it. Amen.



Proverbs 3:5-8
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.

How have you positioned your life daily and weekly to hear the voice of God? What spiritual practices open your heart and ears to the voice of God? Why do you think it’s folly to be “wise in your own eyes”?

Spend time with a friend, life group, or spouse talking about how you’ve heard God over the last six months. Share about the times you’ve struggled to know His voice. Listening to other people can open you to wisdom and help expose folly.

Father, I tend to hear what I want to hear
Teach me to listen for the unexpected
For the unheard and the ignored
Open my ears to the voiceless.
Teach me to respond to both sound and silence
May I come to recognize Your voice speaking to me through others.


Take time to list the various sounds and voices you hear during a normal week. Then with guidance by the Holy Spirit, identify if these sounds and voices offer wisdom or folly. Do you spend more time listening to the voices of wisdom or folly?

Heavenly Father, I come before you today to ask for wisdom. I know You know everything, so I submit my thoughts and understanding to You. 

I am your disciple, help me to transform my understandings to
Your perspective.

Your Word says that if we ask for wisdom You will give it freely and without limit (James 1:5). I understand that even in my wisest moment, it is nothing compared to Your most foolish thought (1 Corinthians 1:25, Proverbs 3:7). My perspective has only gone as far as I could see. Jesus, You have opened my eyes to see from Your perspective.

Father, I respect You above all else and desire for You to teach me Your ways, which is wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). I know that Your wisdom is always pure, peace loving, considerate, full of mercy, and impartial. I ask Holy Spirit to teach my mind to always think in those ways because I know that is how wise people think (James 3:17).

I also ask that You bring wise people into my life and help me listen to them and accept their correction as I absorb their wisdom (Proverbs 19:20).

In the end Lord, I know that wisdom is just thinking like You think, and I want to be just like You. Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.


Several times during the day, prompt yourself to take sixty seconds to reflect. Ask, “What am I feeling about the day so far?” “Where do I sense there is something for me to see or hear or do that seems to come from God?” “What have I heard in the last hour of my day?” “What interruption might have been from God?” How do I need to respond to what I have heard?

Matthew 6:25-33
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

The voice of folly calls to us through worry. Jesus’ disciples sought Him for wisdom and Jesus warned them against the folly of worry. Where do you hear worry calling for you this week? How is God asking you to listen to wisdom and walk in trust?

Gracious God, in your loving mercy and for the sake of your glory, help me each day to notice more accurately those desires, thoughts, words, and actions that are leading me toward you and those that are leading me away from you, and grant me the grace to act on or reject them accordingly. Amen.


1 Corinthians 1:20-25
Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Reflect on your life. What are three or four key choices you made in the past that affect your present life? As you consider these pivotal choices in your life, would you describe them as following Wisdom or Folly?

What kind of decisions are you facing at this point in your life? What would it mean to listen to the voice of Wisdom?

That you will let yourself be lost
from time to time
in the labyrinth of the Word.
That you may, for a while,
empty yourself of all the words you know.
That Christ the living Word
will find you
and fill you
with His wisdom.
That He will write himself anew
across the pages of your life.
-Jan L. Richardson




Watch this week’s sermon.

What was your big takeaway from this message?

How does God want you to apply this message this week?

In one or two sentences, write a simple prayer in response to this message.



A few years ago, God called our family to leave a comfortable Northern Virginia lifestyle to live in one of the largest cities in the world. We would trade golf course views for views of a mosque and a pile of rubble, birds singing for the sound of traffic and the Muslim call to prayer five times a day, the smell of flowers in the spring for cigarette smoke and exhaust, and three and a half baths for one.

I thought I knew what it meant to submit to God when I said “Yes.” I thought that was the act of submission. God has taught me more about submission in the last two months than I ever knew. Submission is every day, letting go of my will and following His will. One way we submit to God is by submitting to others (Ephesians 5), which takes on different appearances.

For me, practicing submission is:

· Placing the best interest of my husband and children at heart and serving them when I’m tired or discouraged.

· Being mentored and led by a young adult twenty years my junior.

· Placing myself in the position of a virtual one-year-old in a country where I know few language and cultural norms.

· Serving people around me in a place that is often so dark and unreceptive of my Savior that it hurts.

Submission is difficult, humiliating, painful and honestly, FREEING—not oppressive or abusive. When we allow our own will to die to the will and kingdom purposes of Christ, we will truly find LIFE (Romans 8). This is what it means to Live Dead, which is a daily practice and process.

Submission allows God to guide and direct every aspect of my life and frees me from the need to control and the stress that comes with it. I become teachable and pliable. Rebellion and anger melt away as obedience, honor, and gentleness toward others grow. Deeper relationships with God and others

blossom. All of the things I traded in this earthly world fades away, and all that matters is the glory of God and His eternal Kingdom.

-Devotional Writer: Heather B.(Eurasia)



There will be times when it feels as if God has “let us down.” However, when we are submitted to Him, our commitment is to His kingdom and not to ours. Although God loves us and desires good for us, at times it will appear as if He has let us down because He didn’t submit to our kingdom. Remember the bigger picture of His Kingdom—your story is told in light of His story, not the other way around.

Are there some disappointments with God that stem from Him not meeting all your wants, or even perhaps your perceived needs? If so, what are they?

In what ways have you heard yourself (whether in voice or action) reject Jesus as your King today, this week, or this past year?

Sit with God for a few minutes in silence and solitude. Allow the Holy Spirit to examine you, bringing to light anything not under God’s authority. Spent time talking to Him about those disappointments and entrusting yourself and your desires to Him as your King.

Lord, forgive me for my rebellious spirit. Teach me to be submissive to You and to those you’ve placed in authority over me. Help me be a light in our dark world; let Christ shine through me. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear those around me who need Jesus and to submit to you in how I respond to them. Thank You for Your great love and tender mercy toward me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Excerpt from The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster

The touchstone for the biblical understanding of submission is Jesus’ astonishing statement, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). Almost instinctively we draw back from these words. We are much more comfortable with words like “self-fulfillment” and “self-actualization” than we are with the thought of “self-denial.” (In reality, Jesus’ teaching on self-denial is the only thing that will bring genuine self-fulfillment and self-actualization.) Self-denial conjures up in our minds all sorts of images of groveling and self-hatred. We imagine that it most certainly means the rejection of our individuality and will probably lead to various forms of self-mortification.

On the contrary, Jesus calls us to self-denial without self-hatred. Self-denial is simply a way of coming to understand that we do not have to have our own way. Our happiness is not dependent upon getting what we want.

Self-denial does not mean the loss of our identity as some suppose. Without our identity we could not even be subject to each other. Did Jesus lose his identity when he set his face toward Golgotha? Did Peter lose his identity when he responded to Jesus’ cross-bearing command, “Follow me” (John 21:19) Did Paul lose his identity when he committed himself to the One who had said, “I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:16) of course not. We know that the opposite was true. They found their identity in the act of self-denial.

I abandon myself into Your hands;
Do with me what You will.
Whatever You may do, I thank You:
I am ready for all; I accept all.
Let only Your will be done in me,
And in all your creatures—
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

(Prayer of Charles De Foucauld)

Luke 9:23-25
Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?


In the past, what has God specifically asked you to surrender or die to in your life for the sake of His Kingdom?

What is God asking you to die to in this season of life? How do you hear your own voice trying to reject this?

Matthew 22:35-40
One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, ‘If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.’ … Idolatry is not just a failure to obey God, it is a setting of the whole heart on something besides God. -Timothy Keller

Our rejection of God often comes through the human tendency to worship idols. Idols come in many forms: money, success, family, sports, sex, education, talent, material goods, technology, power, etc. The difficult part of identifying idols is that they tend to be good things to which we’ve given wrong priority.

Sit with the Holy Spirit and ask Him to examine your life. What is operating in the place of Jesus as your Savior and King?

Although humbling, schedule a time to sit with a trusted friend, mentor, or spouse. Ask them if they see an idol in your life more than they see Jesus. Listen to what they say without defensiveness.

One and only God, I ask that You search my heart and cleanse me of any idols You find there. Anything that takes me away from You needs to be removed. Anything I spend too much time, effort or money on. Anyone I lean on more than You.

I ask for Your cleansing and that You reveal to me any idol in my heart. I want my heart to be wholly Yours, dear LORD, and not another’s. Cleanse me, Father, and may I be sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Set me free in Jesus’ name.

Save us, O LORD, from idolatry and help Your people to submit to and worship only You, in Spirit and in Truth. In the wonderful, precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Every hour a kingdom is coming in your heart, in your home, in the world near you, be it a kingdom of darkness or a kingdom of light. – Henry Drummond

Joshua 24:14-15
Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.

Sit down with others who live in your house. Talk about what it would look like for you to say as an individual or family, “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD”. What specific habits and practices that spiritually shape you and your family do you want to commit to?

Do a prayer walk through your house with your family. If you live alone, ask a friend or life group to come pray with you.

Entire house
· Pray that your home be built on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:24-27, 1 Corinthians 3:11).
· Pray for your family to serve God (Joshua 24:15) and glorify Him in all you do (Psalm 115:1).

Kitchen and Dining Room
· Thank God for His provision (Matthew 6:31-32).
· Pray that your family’s true nourishment comes from God (Matthew 4:4).

· Pray the Armor of God over each family member (Ephesians 6:10-18).
· Pray that your family finds rest in God (Matthew 11:28-30).
· Pray for each family member to exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Living room
· Pray for peace between within your family and those around you (Romans 12:18).
· Pray for your home to be a welcoming place where you can host and serve others in the name of the Lord (Hebrews 13:2, 1 Peter 4:9-10).

· Pray that you work as if for God and not for humans (Colossians 3:23-24).
· Pray for hearts of financial stewardship and giving that glorify God (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Main Doorway
· Pray for protection from evil and its influences (2 Thessalonians 3:3, James 4:7).
· Pray for a peaceful home full of God’s presence that all who enter may come to know Him (Hebrews 12:14, Philippians 4:6-7)



Watch this week’s sermon.

What was your big takeaway from this message?

How does God want you to apply this message this week?

In one or two sentences, write a simple prayer in response to this message.



“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” James 5:16. How often had I read these words? I had taught from this text, even preached it, yet I had not obeyed its command.

Many years ago, I had sinned a great sin. I knew I was wrong, but justified my own selfish disobedience to God and His word. When the Holy Spirit’s conviction came (as it always does), I repented, with bitter tears of sorrow and regret. God, in his mercy, forgave my sin and renewed his relationship with me. Yet, I was plagued by remorseful memories and lived in private shame. No matter how hard I prayed or how long I served or how much I sacrificed, I could not get free from the nagging condemnation with which I lived. I readily identified with King David, when he said, “I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me” Psalm 51:3.

Several years later, during a season of prayer and fasting, I knew it was time to confront my past head-on. I called a godly friend and asked if he would hear my confession. We met in a prayer chapel, and for the first time in my life I openly and honestly shared the shameful details of my sin. He listened with great compassion as I confessed. He read Scripture, anointed me with oil and prayed for me. Then, standing on the authority of John 20:23, he said, “I forgive you, in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Instantly, I was healed; the self-inflicted wounds of my past were transformed from mourning into joy and I was free. The guilt, shame and reproach I had carried for years was gone . . . and it has remained gone to this very day! The Apostle John was right: “If we confess our sins, [Jesus] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9.

-Devotional Writer: Pastor Doug Chapman

What sin might God be asking you to turn away from and to confess before a trusted brother or sister in Christ? 

“Every time we confess how we have missed the mark of God’s love and truth, we open ourselves up to the mending work of the cross. Jesus’ wounds hold true life-changing power. This is the shocking reality that confession can open up to us. Through confession and forgiveness we live into the truth of being God’s new creation! The old is gone. The new has come.” -Adele Calhoun

Ezekiel 36:26-28
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my degrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.


Confession opens us up to live a different way of life. How will you allow God to open you up this week to prepare you for a new way of life? What is dragging your life down that you need to give up to prepare for more Resurrection life?

Matthew 4:17
… Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Jesus used His voice to call for repentance, not only when he walked the earth but today as well as His Spirit continues to call for repentance. We are called to turn away from (to repent) in order to turn toward something. According to Jesus, to turn away from sin is to turn toward His kingdom.

Does your confession tend to be along the lines of “Forgive my sins, dear Lord” rather than specifically naming your sins before God? How might the lack of specific confession hinder your ability to live in the kingdom?

Imagine the kind of person you would like to become in the kingdom. Look at your life and assess if the way you live now is preparing you to become this person. Confess where you need to change. Ask God and the community of faith for help.

Psalm 51
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed,
O God, you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Spend time meditating on the words below, making it your prayer to God for today.

You are good beyond all thought,
but I am vile, wretched, miserable, blind;
My lips are ready to confess,
but my heart is slow to feel,
and my ways reluctant to amend,
I bring my soul to you;
break it, wound it, bend it, mold it.
Unmask to me sin’s deformity,
that I may hate it, abhor it, flee from it.
My faculties have been a weapon of revolt against you;
as a rebel I have misused my strength,
and served the foul adversary of your kingdom.
Give me grace to bewail my insensate folly,
Grant me to know that the way of transgressors is hard,
that evil paths are wretched paths,
that to depart from you is to lose all good.
I have seen the purity and beauty of your perfect law,
the happiness of those in whose heart it reigns,
the calm dignity of the walk to which it calls,
yet I violate and contemn its precepts.
Your loving Spirit strives within me,
brings me Scripture warnings,
Speaks in startling providences,
Allures by secret whispers,
yet I choose devices and desires to my own hurt,
Impiously resent, grieve, and provoke him to abandon me.
All these sins I mourn, lament, and for them cry pardon.
Work in me more profound and abiding repentance;
Give me the fullness of a godly grief
that trembles and fears,
yet ever trusts and loves,
which is ever powerful, and ever confident;
Grant that through the tears of repentance
I may see more clearly the brightness and glories of the saving cross
(From “The Valley of Vision”)

1 John 1:8-9
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”


“The Discipline of confession brings an end to pretense. God is calling into being a Church that can openly confess its frail humanity and know the forgiving and empowering graces of Christ. Honesty leads to confession, and confession leads to change. May God give grace to the Church once again to recover the discipline of confession.” -Richard Foster

Ask some of your family and close friends to help you see your blind spots. Ask questions like, What do I do that hurts you? How could I better love you? What is it like to be with me? Do I show interest in others or talk mostly about myself? Let their answers guide you in a time of confession.

Lord God, our loving Father, you know all my sins and failures, my weaknesses and temptations. I come to you with deep sorrow in my heart for the wrong I have done and for the good I have failed to do. Forgive me, accept me, strengthen me, now and always. Amen.



Watch this week’s sermon.

What was your big takeaway from this message?

How does God want you to apply this message this week?

In one or two sentences, write a simple prayer in response to this message.



“Historically the West has tended to throw its chief emphasis upon doing and the East upon being … . Were human nature perfect there would be no discrepancy between being and doing. … His actions would be the true expression of their inner being.” -A. Z. Tozer

In our fast-paced, 24/7 digital world, we have perfected the art of reaction and forgotten the way of contemplation. We tend to “do” from what we see and not from the core of who we are. For a true voice of praise to arise from within our being, we—God’s people—must go against the grain of contemporary culture, slow down, and contemplate the realities of the Cross, for there is much to internalize so we can respond with a life of devotion and praise.

For several years, the seminary I attended observed Holy Week with daily chapel services. Every year it was as if time slowed down as I pulled myself away from my daily studies for prayer, sitting with God, and hearing the Word related to the final hours of Jesus. It forced me to observe and contemplate on the sufferings of Christ at a depth and pace I had never experienced.

Theologian Ronald Rolheiser explains, “Contemplation is about waking up. To be contemplative is to experience an event fully, in all its aspects.” That is what we desire for Holy Week—a waking up to the passion of Christ.

We will not be able to share fully in our Lord’s Resurrection unless we first unite ourselves with Him in His suffering and death. Make space this week—Holy Week—to contemplate. Walk through this week slowly. Embrace the horror of it. Consider the scandal of it. Imagine your part in it. Adore the One at the center of it.

Devotional Writer: Pastor Stephanie Nance

Loving God, as we contemplate the sacrifice of Christ this Holy Week, may we realize that we are empowered by your mercy to leave behind every weight that might cause us to stumble and to live faithfully as your children. In the name of Jesus, Amen.


One way to contemplate Holy Week is through contemplative prayer, which is a prayer done in silence. The basis of contemplative prayer is Christ within (John 14:23), whom by faith I behold in my heart. This can be compared to the High Priest entering the Holy of Holies in the Temple on the Day of Atonement. The High Priest could only do this once a year, but we can behold God every day in our heart because the Lord Jesus Christ dwells in us and made a way (Hebrews 10:19-20).

In contemplative prayer, “being” is more important than “doing.” Hand in hand with God I experience a “transforming friendship.” Contemplative prayer goes beyond words. As I hold myself in God’s presence in loving adoration, I become like Mary of Bethany sitting at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:38-42).

As we approach God, He makes us aware of His presence. What God desires from us is faith and intention. We approach God by faith, believing that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

1. Read Luke 10:38-42 slowly and intentionally.
2. Quiet yourself and center on God through a prayer that is as short as a breath. For example, exhale “I love you, Lord” (our worship). Inhale “I receive Your love” (our desire).
3. By faith, recognize that God’s Spirit dwells within you.
4. Hold yourself there in a place of loving adoration, both giving love and receiving love from God.
5. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back with a simple prayer, or by saying “Jesus” or “Father.”
6. Don’t judge this time by your feelings or ability to keep focus. What matters is faith and intention. By faith you believe God lives within, and your intention is to love Him.

-Pete Hohmann

Matthew 26:1-16
When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

On this day we contemplate both the betrayal and the worship Jesus experienced during Holy Week. The Western Church tradition calls this Spy Wednesday, which focuses on Judas betraying Jesus. The Eastern Orthodox Church tradition observes Holy Wednesday with a focus on the sacrificial and extravagant worship of the woman with the alabaster jar.

Consider your current life stage and season. What would it mean for you to betray Jesus? What would it look like to offer Jesus sacrificial, extravagant worship?


Lord Jesus Christ, don’t let me lie when I say that I love you…and protect me, for today I could betray you. Amen. (Prayer of Augustine of Hippo)

Maundy Thursday focuses on the final evening Jesus spent with His disciples. “Maundy” comes from Latin, meaning “commandment.” On His final evening with His disciples, Jesus shared a Passover meal with them, washing their feet and commanding them to love one another by serving. (John 13:1-20)

John 13:21-27
… He [Jesus] became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.” The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking. There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. So Simon Peter gestured to him, and said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking.” He, leaning back thus on Jesus’ bosom, said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus then answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.  After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” (NASB)

Both John and Judas sat in proximity to Jesus at the table. However, only John followed Jesus to His cross. Judas would end his life in the early morning hours. This should warn us that attending events and showing up in Jesus’ presence doesn’t guarantee we will follow Him in the way of the cross. Over the centuries, Church tradition has recognized John’s contemplative way of abiding with Jesus upon His chest, pointing out that John heard the heartbeat of God. Do we?

On your Lenten journey, how have you heard God’s love for you as you’ve spent more time with Him? How have you heard God’s love for the world? How will you respond to this love as you move from the Lenten season into the Easter season?

Intentionally place yourself in the presence of God. Express to God your intention to rest in His love. Picture yourself leaning against Jesus as John did. Simply be with Him. Remember, when you get distracted (as we all do), simply return to Jesus’ presence by saying His name. Use the practice of contemplative prayer from Tuesday to help you.

Most merciful God, we Your Church confess that often our spirit has not been that of Christ. Where we have failed to love one another as He loves us, where we have pledged loyalty to Him with our lips and then betrayed, deserted or denied Him, forgive us; and by Your Spirit make us faithful in every time of trial. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

“The grieving of Lent moves us toward this most solemn day of the entire Christian year. It seems anything but good if viewed as a single, tragic event. But Good Friday is the day in which a good God worked out his divine plan of redemption for his broken, beloved creation.” -Michelle Van Loon

What was your big takeaway from this message?

How does God want you to apply this message in your life?

In one or two sentences, write a simple prayer in response to this Good Friday message.


Matthew 12:38-40
Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Holy Saturday is a day of silence. It’s a time of waiting—intentional waiting. For in the waiting we keep watch. We mourn what has died, but we anticipate what will rise. What part of your life seems dead and void of the life and voice of God? What part of our world seems dead and void of the life and voice of God? How can you keep watch over those places in hope of what God will do?

Remember, even in the silence of this day, God was at work to make all things new.

My Lord, today all is silent. You have given Your precious life for the salvation of the world. You died a horrific death, poured out all mercy from Your wounded heart, and now You rest in the tomb as the soldiers keep vigil.

Lord, may I also keep vigil with You today. Unlike those first disciples, I know that this day will lead to Your glorious triumph—Your victory over sin and death. But for now, I sit quietly mourning Your death and my part in Your execution.

As I keep vigil, awaiting Your unknown ways, fill me with hope. I entrust my whole being to You, dear Lord, even in the areas where I feel lifeless and You seem silent and still. May Your rest transform the brokenness of my own soul, my weaknesses, my sin, and my frailty. I trust in Your power to do all things, and I entrust my life to You, Jesus. Amen.

Good Friday Service