Advent Reflections: True Peace

You ….
Our Creator God
The One who weaves together
sound & silence
land & sea
flesh & spirit
Our Father God
The One who is
Provision and
Our All-Knowing, Ever-Present God
The One who sees & hears all things

will keep…
Hold steady
Preserve and give longevity to
Protect from alteration or deterioration

in perfect
Especially suitable
Ideal fit
Complete – lacking nothing essential

Peace …
A state of friendship
At rest
Quietness of spirit
A deep knowing that all will be well
The emotion of faith

those …
Men & Women
Boys & Girls
Children of God

whose minds
thoughts &memories
patterns of thinking
words & actions
feelings & desires

are steadfast,
firm and unwavering
in purpose, loyalty or resolve

because they trust in
Rely on...
Surety of
Live in confident expectation toward

Our Mighty Fortress
A safe place in the midst of life’s storms
Our Bridegroom
The One who sees us as who we are becoming –
and not as who we once were
Our Soon-Returning Victorious King
The One who has overcome
Sin & death
And conquered the enemy
You Are.
God with us
The Prince of Peace
You ARE our Peace

Isaiah 26:3

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You!

Original Writing by Rachel Leonard
for 20Twenty/Evangel Temple Advent Series


On Timing & the Time Warp of Transition

Right now, I should be writing something else... in fact, I should have already written it a month ago... but my heart is so full of emotion at this moment. All I can think about is writing this.

Transition. It is coming. In some ways, it can't come soon enough. But in most ways, it is coming way too soon. The only thing consistent in life is that it changes. As I ponder the many transitions in my near future, I find it ironic that life doesn't just stop and then start again in a new place with new opportunities and new people. No, once all of the decisions necessary for change have been made,,, I enter a time warp... a season called transition. Within this space, I begin saying goodbye a little bit every day until I finally say goodbye for the last time.

Then, I drive away. Car full of all the stuff acquired in one season... tears streaming down my face... singing and praying at the top of my lungs... and I drive. The drive - in and of itself - is a transition. Somehow a car full of memories and the open road in front of me become my escort to the next place.

When I arrive, I begin saying hello. Hello to people, places and dreams that I've been pursuing. The excitement that helped me make the decision to say goodbye returns and gives me the courage to say hello... and hello...and hello....until the new place is no longer new.

Transition is no stranger to me. In fact, part of me relishes the feeling of transition. It is part of my calling.. to sojourn.. to start new things... to prepare soil and plant seeds. But tonight... oh tonight, my heart aches. Truly. It aches deep down inside and I can't seem to get to the bottom of the ache. I love this place. I LOVE THESE PEOPLE. I have deeply loved this season. I have grown. I have been challenged. I have overcome. I have failed. I have begun again. I have found the contentment of staying... and staying ... and staying. I want to stay. And, yet, I know that staying will only be delayed obedience... or prolonged disobedience?

Somehow in the time warp of transition, new things begin. And why shouldn't they? Life goes on. It's a phenomenon that I continually forget about until I am reminded. Just because I move on, does not mean everyone else stays the same. Perhaps, that is the ache I feel in this moment? The ache of letting go... walking away...

I am good at closing doors when I leave. It's easier that way. A closed door does not beckon me to return like an open door does. Yet, this time, it seems that my Father knows best... and He is opening doors as I leave. When I try to close them, His hand gently holds them open - and He whispers... let it be.

I don't like unresolved ... anything. It's like a dissonant chord. I can't stand unresolved feelings... unresolved situations... unresolved relationships... I like the closure. I like the false feeling of bein in control. I'd rather know that something is over... than face the uncertainty of what it could become... or the pain of what may die. But, of course, the lesson of this season has been learning to embrace the mystery of God... to trust Him... to embrace His timing... and to be vulnerable. I hate that word. I hate the angst that it creates in my soul. And yet, somewhere deep inside of me... I long to live free and vulnerable... to embrace life fully... to embrace people fully... without fear. And, thankfully, His Spirit enables me to be vulnerable. Yet, perhaps, this is why I like closed doors. An open door means that I face the possibility of being rejected or forgotten. An open door means someone or something else can close it on me.

So, here I am... staring at this lovely little space I call mine, wet-cheeked, enjoying the lights on my Christmas tree and the stillness of this moment.  And I am making a choice - I will savor this season. I will embrace the time warp that is...transition. I will trust that when I say my final goodbye and my first hello... Immanuel, God with me, will still be with me just like He has always promised. I will trust that the doors He leaves open will be OK. And that the ones He closes will be fine too. I will expect great things and know that in it all... He is good. He is faithful and He is strong.

Bless the Lord, oh my soul, find rest in Him.


Initial Reflections from Madrid

Me, standing outside of ancient Toledo

Many of you know I just returned from a 10 day trip to Spain. MANY thanks to those who supported and prayed for me on this trip!! Every time someone asks me about how my trip went, I find myself bombarded with 1000 memories, so many different emotions and thoughts – and then all I can say is, “It was great.”

Spain is a beautiful country – rich in history and diverse in culture. My breath caught with each turn through the streets of its cities – an architectural feast for the eyes. The streets of Madrid billow with savory scents and the metro resonates with languages from over 80 nations. The world lives in Spain!

Spain is ancient. It was ruled by the Visigoths, the Romans, the Ottoman Empire and then the Catholic kings. The apostle Paul mentioned Spain (Rom 15:24, 28) as one of his hopeful destinations. Although the Roman Catholic Church claims he did, there is no historic evidence that he ever made it to Spain. And, it is one of the only nations in Europe without a documented revival.  “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue…” and Spain sanctioned his journey. In the same year 200,000 Jews were expelled from the country.
Mint Tea & Arabic Lessons

Today, it has a population of 47.27 million people – 80 nations are represented within its populace, including over 600,000 North African immigrants. Most people are agnostic or atheist – there is also an ever-increasing population of Muslim believers. Only 1% of the population identifies itself as knowing Jesus. One percent. You could spend all day wandering through Madrid and not pass one person who knows Christ! This knowledge made me feel like I was running a marathon through molasses.

I met some incredible people. A young Moroccan mother of two left a deep impact on my heart. She was always warm and friendly – greeting me in Spanish (both of our second language) and kissing my cheeks three times (the traditional Moroccan greeting). One day, she taught our team some basic Arabic and made us some Moroccan mint tea… she also shared her faith with us. She is a devout woman with true conviction and a desire to please Allah. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Cornelius (Acts 10). My prayer for my new friend is that in her desire to serve God, she will find a relationship with Jesus.

Throughout my entire trip the Lord continually led me to this one passage – Matthew 9:35-38. For the first few days of the trip, verse 36 kept coming to mind “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” On our third day, we spent some time in a prayer room overlooking La Puerta del Sol, one of Madrid’s busiest plazas, and as I looked out over the plaza – I saw hundreds of people wandering in different directions – and I began to weep. In verse 37-38, Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” This was the resounding message of this trip for me…

Jesus, the world lives here… but where is Your Light?
Awaken the hearts of Your People, send more laborers to Spain.

La Puerta Del Sol - "Sheep without a shepherd"

Outdoor mall in Madrid