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Celebrate a Christian Passover Dinner

April 1st, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle
I shouldn’t have been surprised when the questions came, all these questions rushing like a river searching….

God knew.

He knew how all the kids would ask questions.




All the kids asking questions — wasn’t that the prophesy?

“When your children ask their fathers in the time to come…’” (Joshua 4:21).

And He prophesied our answers to all their questions: “And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, ‘This is done because of what the LORD did for me… (Exodus 13:8).

Come an eve in early spring, when the trees are budding and the birds nesting high, all the rivers running higher, Jewish children gather around feast tables and they ask the same four age-old questions; questions that answer everything.

Our children ring the old oak farm table and take up the tradition of the quartet of questions.

Keeping “this ordinance in its season from year to year,” (Exodus 13:10), I lay the Passover emblems out on the table in the early twilight.

The matzah lies under a linen cloth.

Goblets of juice of the vine flicker in the candle light, sprigs of lush green parsley circle a tray, water drops jewelling leaf tips.

Off to the side, behind the crystal bowls heaped with mashed potatoes and glazed baby carrots, a dish of ground horseradish sits beside a dark, heavy shank bone of lamb. Not our usual fare for a spring evening meal.

Weary and worn from the all-day effort, I have my own questions: Is all this business of keeping Passover unnecessary burden?

Have we knotted the holy day up in redundant encumbrances?

Does this old covenant really have bearing on new covenant living?

Slipping my hand through my husband’s, I find answers.



Children pressing in now, anxious for just this, this tradition, this meal before candles, this sipping of goblets.

“This, this is the best Easter dinner ever! Passover!” a son smiles down the table at me — “No — this is my favorite meal of the whole year!

And the questions now trickle, the same four questions that have come rippling down from one generation, to the next, for centuries; from the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob….to our children.

Levi, his young voice pitched high but gentle, asks the first of the three-thousand-year-old queries:

“Why are we eating unleavened bread, or matzah, tonight?”

I pick up the matzah, a flat cracker of bread, striped with narrow lines, and pierced with small holes.

And I answer in the only way I know how, “Because tonight we remember Jesus. By whose stripes we are healed. Yeast leavens, or puffs up, as pride and sin inflates our hearts. Tonight we eat unleavened bread, bread without yeast, to remember Jesus who was without sin.”

I break the matzah in half and whisper, “Just like He was broken for us.”

These are questions to know where we come from.

Hope comes next, slender fingers reaching out towards the horseradish, face contorted in slight grimace,

“Why are we eating bitter herbs?”

Lifting a small, silver spoonful of horseradish, I trace time’s prints back.

For on that long ago night, that night of Passover for the children of Israel, God said that ‘bitter herbs they shall eat’ (Ex. 12:8) and so we do too. To remember the bitterness of the cruel slavery of the Israelites to Pharaoh, to recall the bitterness of our ugly bondage to sin.”

My husband breaks off a corner of the matzah, topping it with the spoonful of horseradish and offers it to Hope.

But we eat the bitter herbs with the matzah to remember how Jesus, our Bread of Life, has paid the price and absorbed our bitter sins.”

This is the telling of the story that answers the human heart’s pleas… and prayers.

Joshua, he’s got his question memorized, him joining with children around the world, asking the third question on this night of four questions,

“Why tonight do we dip our herbs twice?”

Picking up the evergreen parsley, I close my eyes to see the answer. My husband speaks quiet. “Our fathers dipped hyssop branches into the blood of the Passover lamb and marked their doorposts.” It’s tradition now, to pass down this story.

He dips a parsley sprig into the salt water and continues. “As they wept salty tears for their life of slavery, they painted the door lintels with the blood, that the Angel of Death may pass over. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.”

He dips the parsley again, this time into a small glass dish of apple and raisins.

But now we have hope. Because of the blood shed by the thorns piercing Jesus’ brow. Because of the blood from the wounds of the nails, that we, in faith, mark on the door of our hearts. Now we wipe away our tears, for we have new life in Christ. We have been rebirthed into His hope.”

All around the table, you can see it in their eyes — this relief. I can feel my own.

Caleb, pensive eldest, leans his head on his hand and serves the crowning question:

“Why are we eating this meal reclining?”

I lean into the climax of the story and the traditional answer, it never gets old.


“Because our Passover Lamb has bought our freedom.”

“Tonight we remember that we are no longer slaves, but children of the very King of Kings. Free men, royalty, recline while eating. So, as Jesus who reclined at the Last Supper, we too lean back this night, for we are free to come before God who is upon the Throne.”

We raise glasses and toast. And there’s the answer as to why we keep Passover.

Keeping Passover isn’t about keeping laws and regulations.

Keeping Passover isn’t about keeping our burdens.

Keeping Passover isn’t about keeping some empty, meaningless customs.

On the night of four questions, the answer murmur clear in the stream of time: Keeping Passover is about keeping our way on The Way.

Passover is about keeping something worth preserving: emblems pregnant with the fulfillment of the New Covenant.

Passover is about the questions that keep time to the beat of our children’s heart:
Why am I here?
What does all of this living really mean?
Where am I headed?
When will I be all that I am to be?

And this story, His story, His three-thousand-year-old Passover story has answers, told on a quiet evening in spring when the trees are budding under nesting birds.
When all the rivers run alive and swift and on forever, free…

To Set a Table for a Christian Passover:

1. matzah (or Wholewheat Unleavened Bread)

2. juice of the vine (wine, grape juice, non-alcoholic wine)

3. sprigs of lush green parsley

4. horseradish (bitter herbs)

5. chopped apples and raisins (called haroset)

6. heavy shank bone of lamb

7. boiled egg

8. small dish of salted water


Roast Leg of Lamb with Rosemary

Balsamic Roasted Red Potatoes

Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce

Haroset (Chopped Apples & Raisins) for Passover

Wholewheat Unleavened Bread

Baby carrots

And for dessert: New Life

Including Menu, Passover Table Setting List and Program with Four Questions with Life Answers {A Messianic Seder}

Sample Pages:


{Click here to Print Complete Document (6 pages)}

A Whole Family Christian Easter Activity : Make a Grace Garden
Free Easter Devotional with Easter Tree {Because Easter’s as Significant as Christmas}

I AM – Messianic Passover Seder Plate & Booklet
I AM – Communion / Passover Cup

I AM – Passover / Communion Candle Holders

What are your Easter plans? How are you heart ready?

ann voskamp

ann voskamp

Farmer’s wife, mama to 6 & author of NYTimes Bestseller One Thousand Gifts, Ann blogs wild grace @ A Holy Experience. When the kids and the washing machine sleep, she washes her real dirt down with words and The Word. Some of her words find themselves in an award-winning series for curious kids, A Childs Geography, of which all profits are donated to Compassion. Other words can be found at Laity Lodge’s High Calling where she serves as acontributing editor and other words advocate for the poor as she is a blogger traveling with Compassion. The only words that really matter are the ones she lives. This convicts her. She has a background in education from York University and the University of Waterloo, home educates their six farm kids, and makes a mess of things every day. She clings to grace. She’s more of a rare peeper than a regular tweeter, but everyday in the fringe hours, early and late, she blogs about the mess and the grace and the everyday wonder at a Holy Experience.

A Friend in Need

April 1st, 2014 | 1 Comment | Posted in Advice and Tips
DavidSince David’s birth we have had many hospital stays, surgeries and difficult times. And during those times, we’ve had friends who have walked beside us and loved us well. I’m not sure I would have known how to love someone well, before experiencing such intense pain, sadness and stress firsthand.  It’s hard to be in need. I’d much rather be the one to encourage and bless, rather than receive. Wouldn’t you? But being needy means someone else gets to serve—and that’s a beautiful thing!We just completed a short hospital stay and I was reminded of how small acts of kindness can carry such great meaning. I’d love to share some of the simple ways that others have encouraged us during difficult times.

  1. david_2Pray. I can’t tell you how important this is to us. Covering us in prayer is the most meaningful thing someone can give to me and my family. I believe in the power of prayer. Pray for healing, pray for peace, pray for energy and encouragement. Pray specifically and tell your friend what you’re praying over them.
  2. Send a card. When David was born, we were flooded with mail. Every day when I checked the mailbox there were notes of encouragement and love. expired domains . One friend sent me a card every single day for a month. I loved it.
  3. Serve and be specific. When we’re in an intense time, I find I have a hard time making simple decisions and I’m pretty much focused on the moment we’re in. expired domains . web whois Telling someone how you’re going to serve them can help tremendously. whois . Examples might be, “I’m going to Target. What can I get for you?” Or, “I’m bringing you dinner tomorrow night, is lasagna, okay?”
  4. Just listen. It can be so tempting to give advice or want to make things better. During times of crisis, this can feel like someone is trying to minimize your pain. The best thing to do is just listen and tell your friend you love them. Remind them that you are journeying beside them, no matter what.
  5. Have no expectations. Make dinners, send cards and texts, babysit kids, give love and don’t expect anything in return. web archive . I know there are people who did things for us and never even got a thank you. They did it because they wanted to show us love and expected nothing in return. When I’m in crisis there are times I’m so focused on what’s happening that even a simple ‘thank-you’ doesn’t cross my mind.

Have you gone through a difficult time? What made you feel loved and encouraged?

lisa leonard

Lisa Leonard

Lisa Leonard is mom to two boys, David, 11 and Matthias, 10 and wife to Steve. In between school and work they spend their time playing outdoors on the central coast of California, eating chocolate chip pancakes, tapping tunes on the piano (David) and choreographing elaborate light saber duels (Matthias). Lisa also creates handmade jewelry and plays at photography. You’re invited to visit Lisa Leonard online and get to know her!

Who is Bob Goff?

April 1st, 2014 | 1 Comment | Posted in CHRI
love_does_1My sister returns from the Leadership Summit: “Ashley you have to find out who Bob Goff is, he’s the coolest”.  A friend tells me, “You must read Love Does by Bob Goff, I read it twice in one week”! Another friend shares, “Guys, guess who just called me?  Bob Goff! He’s seriously my hero.”  Okay, now I really do need to find out who this Bob Goff character is.Last month I had the opportunity to take a mini-break from the never ending Ottawa winter and head down to sunny Barbados with my friend, Amy.  We took in the waves, sunshine and local flying-fish sandwiches.  In the shade of my blue umbrella I picked up the book that so many had told me about “Love Does” by Bob Goff. My mind was pushed to ponder, wonder and dream.  Bob Goff does not simply live life he LOVES life.  He actively chooses to see the good in others & fights for others to LOVE life with him.  He believes God is relational, that God works through us and is eager to partner with us to accomplish big and small moments in our lives.bob_goff“Living a life fully engaged and full of whimsy and the kind of things that love does is something most people plan to do, but along the way they just kind of forget… [We need to] just land the plane on our plans to make a difference by getting to the “do” part of faith. That’s because love is never stationary. In the end, love doesn’t just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it. Simply put: love does.”Bob Goff shares simple, yet not at all simple stories from his adventure filled life.  The stories will inspire you, challenge you but most of all they will lift you to believe life can still be full of excitement and wonder!

Bob doesn’t over-spiritualize life, he does do things as a gimmick rather he encourages us to be open to every opportunity, to not over think every moment but to seize and simply go. This may sound like an ordinary Christian book but there is nothing ordinary about Bob Goff.  Nothing typical about the man who allowed his 3 children to take a year off of elementary school to travel the globe to meet with World Leaders simply to ask the leaders what they secretly, truly hope for.  Or the man who every morning, gets up before his wife, sneaks into their garden to find a fresh rose, and leaves it for her somewhere as a surprise.  Or the man who schedules important meetings at Disneyland, and when possible, chauffeur associates in the sidecar of his old-fashioned motorcycle. what is a cloud . It’s why he’s made spontaneous snow angels with diplomats who’ve forgotten how to laugh and sent flowers to the lady who totaled his jeep. expired domains It’s the reason he helped sneak a dying friend out of the hospital in a seaplane—tubes and all—to surprise the grieving family at their favorite retreat.  Nothing is simple or ordinary about Bob Goff.

According to Goff, the ultimate purpose is to “leak Jesus”—and to do it without getting caught up in receiving the credit or wondering who noticed. “He’s the one really making things happen, anyway.”

And about that phone call my friend received, Bob promises to be approachable & available to everyone who encounters his work.  In order to stay true to his word, he’s published his cell number at the end of the book. You could be his next call!

Find out more at

ashleyBy Ashley Elliott

Ashley Elliott is a passionate activist in the fight against human trafficking.  She loves to share stories from her travels, with a goal of helping shed light on the issue of modern day slavery.  She is most often found, iPhone in hand, connecting with the world via social media.  Ashley is the Promotions Coordinator at Family Radio CHRI in Ottawa, Canada.  Follow Ashley @ashleylelliott

What the Music You Love Says About You and How it Can Improve Your Life

April 1st, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Music
(**Disclaimer: not a Christian music study)
shutterstock_17208712Ever been a bit judgey when you hear someone’s taste in music? Of course you have.And you were right — music tells you a lot about someone’s personality.

Research has learned a great deal about the power of music:

  1. Your musical taste does accurately tell me about you, including your politics.
  2. Your musical taste is influenced by your parents.
  3. You love your favorite song because it’s associated with an intense emotional experience in your life.
  4. The music you enjoyed when you were 20 you will probably love for the rest of your life.
  5. And, yes, rockstars really do live fast and die young.

But enough trivia. It also turns out music affects your behavior — and much more than you might think.

Studies show music can lead you to drink morespendmore, be kind, or even act unethically.

No, rock and heavy metal don’t lead people to commit suicide — but it’s possible that country music might:

The results of a multiple regression analysis of 49 metropolitan areas show that the greater the airtime devoted to country music, the greater the white suicide rate.

Music is so powerful it’s even possible to become addicted to music.

But can we really use scientific research on music to improve our lives? Absolutely.

Here are 9 ways:

1) Music Helps You Relax

Yes, research shows music is relaxing.

I know, I know, obvious, right? But what you might not know is the type of music that helps people relax best.

Need to chill out? Skip the pop and jazz and head for the classical.

Via Richard Wiseman’s excellent book 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute:

Blood pressure readings revealed that listening to pop or jazz music had the same restorative effect as total silence. In contrast, those who listened to Pachelbel and Vivaldi relaxed much more quickly, and so their blood pressure dropped back to the normal level in far less time.

2) Angry Music Improves Your Performance

We usually think of anger as something that’s just universally bad. But the emotion has positive uses too.

Anger focuses attention on rewards, increases persistence, makes us feel in control and more optimistic about achieving our goals.

When test subjects listened to angry music while playing video games, they got higher scores.

Via The Science of Sin: The Psychology of the Seven Deadlies (and Why They Are So Good For You):

What Tamir and her colleagues found was that people preferred to listen to the angry music before playing Soldier of Fortune. Faced with a task in which anger might serve a useful function, facilitating the shooting of enemies, participants opted for an anger boost. What’s more, listening to the angry music actually improved performance…

3) Music Reduces Pain

When ibuprofen isn’t doing the job, might be time to put on your favorite song.

Research shows it can reduce pain:

Preferred music was found to significantly increase tolerance and perceived control over the painful stimulus and to decrease anxiety compared with both the visual distraction and silence conditions.

4) Music Can Give You A Better Workout

What’s the best thing to have on your iPod at the gym?

The weight room is no place to try new genres. Playing your favorites can boost performance:

The performance under Preferred Music (9.8 +/- 4.6 km) was greater than under Nonpreferred Music (7.1 +/- 3.5 km) conditions. Therefore, listening to Preferred Music during continuous cycling exercise at high intensity can increase the exercise distance, and individuals listening to Nonpreferred Music can perceive more discomfort caused by the exercise.

5) Music Can Help You Find Love

Want to get the interest of that special someone? Put on the romantic music.

Women were more likely to give their number to men after hearing love songs:

…the male confederate asked the participant for her phone number. It was found that women previously exposed to romantic lyrics complied with the request more readily than women exposed to the neutral ones.

6) Music Can Save A Life

Do you know the proper way to give CPR chest compressions? Turns out timing is key.

And how can you best remember that timing during an emergency?

Sing “Stayin’ Alive” by the BeeGees. Yes, I’m serious:

…Dr. John Hafner of the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria had 15 physicians and med students perform the 100-compression procedure (on mannequins) while listening to the Bee Gees classic “Stayin’ Alive.” As Hafner reports in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, their mean compression rate was an excellent 109.1. Five weeks later, they repeated the exercise while singing the song to themselves as a “musical memory aid.” Their mean rate increased to 113.2. The medical professionals reported that the “mental metronome” improved both “their technical ability and confidence in providing CPR.”

7) Music Can Improve Your Work — Sometimes

Does music at the office make you work better or just distract you? It’s a much debated issue and the answer is not black and white.

For the most part, it seems music decreases work performance – but makes you happier while you work:

…a comparison of studies that examined background music compared to no music indicates that background music disturbs the reading process, has some small detrimental effects on memory, but has a positive impact on emotional reactions…

That said, a little bit of music can make you more creative. If you have ADHD, noise helps you focus:

Noise exerted a positive effect on cognitive performance for the ADHD group and deteriorated performance for the control group, indicating that ADHD subjects need more noise than controls for optimal cognitive performance.

And music with positive lyrics makes you more helpful and collaborative.

8) Use Music To Make You Smarter

There is a ton of evidence that music lessons improve IQ.

But there’s even research that says listening to classical music might boost brainpower as well:

Within 15 minutes of hearing the lecture, all the students took a multiple-choice quiz featuring questions based on the lecture material. The results: the students who heard the music-enhanced lecture scored significantly higher on the quiz than those who heard the music-free version.

9) Music Can Make You A Better Person

Need to soften someone’s heart? Maybe even your own?

Playing music can make you more compassionate:

In a year-long program focused on group music-making, 8- to 11-year old children became markedly more compassionate, according to a just-published study from the University of Cambridge. The finding suggests kids who make music together aren’t just having fun: they’re absorbing a key component of emotional intelligence.

Venezuela made music lessons mandatory. What happened? Crime went down and fewer kids dropped out of school:

A simple cost-benefit framework is used to estimate substantive social benefits associated with a universal music training program in Venezuela (B/C ratio of 1.68). Those social benefits accrue from both reduced school drop-out and declining community victimization. This evidence of important social benefits adds to the abundant evidence of individual gains reported by the developmental psychology literature.

Sum Up

So music not only says a lot about you, it provides a myriad of easy ways to make your life better:

  1. Music Can Help You Relax
  2. Angry Music Improves Your Performance
  3. Music Reduces Pain
  4. Music Can Give You A Better Workout
  5. Music Can Help You Find Love
  6. Music Can Save A Life
  7. Music Can Improve Your Work — Sometimes
  8. Use Music To Make You Smarter
  9. Music Can Make You A Better Person

Most importantly: Music makes us feel good, and in the end, that’s worth a lot.

Speaking of music that makes you feel good, ever wondered what English sounds like to people who don’t speak it?

Then you’ll love this song.

“An Italian singer wrote this song with gibberish to sound like English. If you’ve ever wondered what other people think Americans sound like, this is it.”

By: Eric Barker


10 Mister Rogers Quotes to Remember on Bad Days

April 1st, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle
Some days, you just need a friendly face to motivate your good intentions.Consider Mister Rogers your neighborhood pick-me-up. The children’s television star and cardigan connoisseur spent 50 years spreading inspiration and kindness. Rogers often spoke of loving people despite their faults and striving to improve yourself from the inside out, sometimes in song and other times in soft-spoken words.Fred Rogers passed away in 2003 at age 74, but his words continue to inspire.



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Grace for the Working Mother and her Guilt

April 1st, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Encouragement
shutterstock_182053358This post is not about whether mothers should work or should stay home.This post is not about whether it’s better to home school or go the public, or Montessori or other route.This post is not about whether it’s harder to work at home or out of the home.

This post is simply a whispered, “I know,” to the Sunday night, getting ready for work tomorrow, mamas.

The ones who are right now wiping down the counters, packing up the lunch boxes, sorting the socks, going through the mental gymnastics of gearing up for another week of good-byes. The ones preparing themselves for the waves of weekend homesickness that will hit when 5am comes early and preschool or daycare drop offs come inevitably.

This post is for the brave moms who know the ache of early good-byes.

For the ones who will commute hours before the rest of us get up because that’s what it takes to keep home a place of food and warmth and security. For the courage it takes to trust your children to someone else’s care. For the ones who beat themselves up harder, longer, more ruthlessly than the rest of us could possibly imagine.

This post is for the women who are short on grace for themselves.

I hear you. I know you. I lived in your shoes for long years and it is hard. And there are voices that can make us feel small. Make us feel achey breaky in our bones. Voices that lie about the quality of our mothering and try to steal the joy of time spent with our children by making us worry about the time spent apart.

My Sunday night sisters, I have listened to the crackly static of a nagging voice that whispers, deserter, and hear me when I tell you that that voice is a liar.

I know that going to work when you want to be home can feel like being trapped. It can make you want to beat your head on the wall. It makes you shrink next to those who point out what you should be, especially when it’s what you want to be. web whois . It can be an endless cycle of self beratement.

But for those of us in that place and season, we lift up our eyes to the hills and help comes. The Holy Spirit ministers tenderly, bandaging wounded hearts and restoring what the deceiver has tried to destroy. We need grace from others because goodness knows we rarely get it from ourselves.

And when the crackly static of the nagging dies down there is another voice and He whispers, provider.

He sings over you.

He is waiting for you in the morning as you struggle to wake up. When the glare of the bathroom lights blind and tired eyes fight the lenses they need to face the day, He is there.

He sings,

She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family.

Proverbs 31:15

You are no less and no more than the mothers who get to stay home. God did not give them a pass and you a punishment. You do not need to apologize for the fact that you work. electric cloud . You do not need to be embarrassed.

We practice dying to our own desires every day with each good-bye, each desperate hug, each meal prepared and left to be eaten in our absence. We walk the hard path of trust. Trusting that the God who built our kids will parent them in our absence, will grow them in courage, and teach them over time that this is what love looks like.

Gritty, committed, and determined to do what is necessary.

And drenched in grace, friends. Drenched in grace.


lisa-jo bakerLisa-Jo Baker

Lisa-Jo lives in between countries, callings & kids, believes motherhood should come with its own superhero cape, and as the Community Manager for (in)courage loves dreaming up ways to serve you all. South African by birth and American by marriage, she and her husband have two young sons who color their lives and complicate their frequent travel. After a decade in international development work, Lisa-Jo is convinced that no matter what the zip code, God is intimately interested in who we are, where we’re headed, and loves us beyond time zones, cultures or insecurities. She welcomes you to follow her on twitter as @lisajobaker.


He Is Risen

April 1st, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Videos

He Is Risen

By Paul Baloche & Graham Kendrick

Early morning break of dawn
Stumbling to the tomb
Standing awestruck wondering who
Rolled away the stone
And as the sun came up
Amazed they looked inside
A voice, an angel clothed in light
Don’t be afraid, He is alive!

He is risen 
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Christ is risen
Let the whole world sing
Christ is risen 
Christ is risen from the dead

Sing, with all creation sing
Of a world made new
In His life we too may live
Bursting from the tomb
And looking up we see
Our King enthroned on high
His wounds of love now glorified
Rejoice, for soon He’ll burst the skies

Watch Paul lead the song live:

What songs are you planning to use this Easter at your church?

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