Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Show, Don't Tell

Mark 1:34, 44, 3:12

"Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.” Mark 1:44

I have always wondered why Jesus didn't want those who were healed to tell anyone--and why was it bad when evil spirits knew who he was and tried shouting it out? It was true, so why not let them spill the beans?!

If it were me (and we can all be thankful that it's not!!!) I'd be letting everyone and anyone tell people who I was and what I'd done for them. I don't like this about myself and I'm constantly asking God to help me. But seriously, why wouldn't Jesus want people to know who he was and what he was doing for those who had been suffering for so long? I think I may be beginning to understand it...

My husband is a great storyteller. He is very patient, slow and methodical. All the things I am not! But I believe those things make him a great story teller. We've been married for over 35 years, and he still gets me sometimes when he tells jokes, because he doesn't crack a smile, doesn't let on that it's not true. He patiently weaves his stories with twists and turns and keeps me hanging on every word. Finally, he drops the punchline on me and I end up ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing, for you non-texters). I, on the other hand, can't wait to get to the punchline! I can't tell jokes, because I often get them backwards and give the punchline first! I can't play practical jokes because I just can't hold it in. It's hard to look "innocent" when you're jumping up and down, bubbling over with excitement at the thought of what's about to happen!

Jesus was also a good storyteller. He was patient. He was never in a hurry to boast about himself and who he was. He was also methodical. He had a plan about how he would reveal himself and to whom. Timing is everything. Communicating the right thing at the wrong time or in the wrong way can ruin the message.

I did that just the other day. I was in a meeting, and I was so excited to share something God laid on my heart that I blurted it all out at once. Most of the members of the team looked at me like deer in headlights! It was too much too fast. They didn't get it. Not a good way to share a vision and get people on board with it.

Jesus understood that. Maybe I will get it someday too... only by the grace of God.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Law, The Lord, and Grace

Ephesians 6:1-4

Any righteousness that is in me comes from my relationship with the Lord... all the way down to how I treat my parents and children... how I act when I'm with family.

That's scary because it is often with the people I love most that I my behavior is at its worst! What does that say about my relationship with the Lord?

Isn't there something spiritual that happens when we get saved that changes us? The Word says we are a new creation... old things have gone, new things have come! I want more of the new and less of the old, but it sure seems that operate in the old an awful lot.

So, if a child has not truly accepted the Lord, can he be expected to honor his parents? And once a child has committed her life to the Lord, does it make her more capable of honoring them?

And will parents who have given their lives to the Lord automatically become better parents? Are these just more rules to follow in Ephesians 6? Because I seem to have a hard time following all the rules!

Maybe they're not so much rules to follow, but guidelines to show us wrong from right. Because if we're not believers, followers of the Lord, we might not know how important it is to honor our parents or discipline our children. It is a commandment, yes, but that's what the law is for--to show us right and wrong. So the law tells us what to do, but the Spirit enables us to do it, right? We need both. We can't obey the law without the Spirit.

But wait, some people are good who aren't necessarily Christians. Maybe that's because right and wrong have been obvious in a Christian nation. But the lines between right and wrong are becoming more blurred. So we need the law. We can't depend on the idea that accepted practices and behaviors will guide us in the right direction.

Yes, we need the law, and we need the Spirit--the regeneration that happens when we commit ourselves to God. Yet even with the Spirit, we still fail! Why?

Maybe it's because we need even more than the Law and the Spirit. We need grace! Maybe our constant failure has a purpose--to show us how desperate we are for grace. Even though the law lets us know what's right and wrong, and the Spirit gives us to power to do what's right, we still fail. And we fall on our faces before God as He pours His grace on us again and again. And we get back up and try again... and maybe we do a little better this time.

Maybe this is the process of sanctification. We are becoming holy, more like God through this process. But it IS a process. I want it to happen all at once--at the point of salvation--but that's not how it works. At the point of salvation, we receive the Law, the Spirit, and Grace. And those three things work in us, as much as we'll let them, to sanctify us, purify us, and make us Holy as the Lord is Holy.

So I continue walking this process... learning the law, seeing how I've failed, being empowered by the Spirit to succeed, failing again, allowing grace to wash over me, then trying again. And each time, I'm just a little purer... a little shinier... a tiny bit more reflective... until one day, the Almighty Refiner will look at me and see His own reflection... Oh, what a glorious day that will be!

People of This Kind

Overlooking the neighborhood surrounding the Dream Center in Los Angeles, facing my lack of compassion and love for the "people of this kind."
Mark 2:15-17

Jesus went to Levi's house and ate with many other tax collectors and other "disreputable sinners." What follows those words in parentheses in the NLT is what got my attention, "(There were many people of this kind among Jesus' followers.)"

I have spent my entire life trying so hard not to be a disreputable sinner. I have relished the fact that I "am a staff member of a church," (said very piously.) I have judged others who didn't behave as I thought a good Christian should. I took pride in my religious status. I have felt "above" others like those mentioned in this scripture. Oh, the stench of my self righteousness!

I think Jesus has a special place in his heart for disreputable sinners. I need to allow Him to give me the same heart. God has used loved ones in my life to help me see this utter stench of my self-righteous attitude. But I'm still not sure how someone like me can reach them. I'm not sure of my next step in this.

So I press in to Jesus--I press in to this special place in his heart for "disreputable sinners," and ask Him to make my heart more like his.

Monday, August 17, 2015

My Little Girl Got Baptised Yesterday

My little girl got baptized yesterday. I am praying that her decision to do that will be one that will influence her life for the rest of her days on earth and into eternity.

I'm so grateful for those who have influenced her little life for Jesus--family, friends, church servants, camp counselors.

Oh, how I prayed for her when I realized she was coming. I was so afraid for her. I never intended on being her mom--I was excited to be her grandma!

Then if became evident that we or someone else would need to raise her. I fearfully held her in my open hands to the Lord. I knew it would mean a completely different life for us than we had planned, but I couldn't bear the thought of not having her with us.

Oh, how I need your light, Lord. I want to live a people of the light. I denounce the anger and rage, the passive aggressive way I often react. Please forgive me, Lord.

Raise this little girl up into the person you dreamed of when you created her. Work in her life and in her heart. Fill the holes there where people are missing. Heal her little abandoned heart. Amen.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Master in Heaven Has No Favorites!

Ephesians 6:5-9

I have a bad habit (actually I have a lot of bad habits, but this one came to mind this morning.) Maybe you have it too. I hope not, and I wish I didn't either. I pray that, as I continue this sanctification process, I'll be delivered from this habit!

When I meet new people, or just see them in the grocery store, restaurant, or church, I tend to categorize them. Are they like me? Are they someone I'd like to hang out with? Or are they in one of the categories of people who make me uncomfortable, or who I don't feel I have time for? Ouch! I'm being brutally honest and transparent here. Don't judge me!

So, there are the people who are like me--or at least like I wish I could be! They're funny, smart, outgoing, personable. Then there are those who make me uncomfortable--the introverts. They can also be funny, smart and personable, but they intimidate me. I feel like they can see right into my soul. I can't hide behind my loudness and laughter with them. They don't say much, so they have time to be more discerning, and they can see right through my fake smile.

Then there are the really intelligent, confident people who catch me when I try to use terminology (big words!) to look smart too. But sometimes I use the wrong words, and end up showing my ignorance.

There are more categories of people I avoid: people of a different economic status from me, perfect parents, super spiritual, non-spiritual, needy people, the list could go on and on. Wow, am I ever limiting myself as far as knowing God's people. I'm limiting my exposure to ideas, truth and knowledge.

I'm so glad God doesn't play favorites... Remember, we all "have the same Master in Heaven, and He has no favorites." Ephesians 6:9

So, I guess clamoring to the front of the line to get to God doesn't really work, does it? Stepping on people to try and get God to notice me or what I've done would not be a good thing.

Oh, my soul, He sees you. He notices you. He knows you. He knows the good things about you as well as the bad, and He loves you anyway. You don't need to clamor for His attention, you've already got it. This is no popularity contest. You don't need to be in the "IN" crowd. Just submit yourself to Him and you're IN! There are no categories, only the "Loved by God" category. That's all of us--even me!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Ephesians 5:21-33

I'm so grateful for my husband, my head, my protector. I'm so grateful for my marriage. I'm thankful for a husband who loves me like Christ loves the church. He knows me like no one else in the world. We've been through things together that no couple should have to go through. We have survived things that many would not have survived--only by the grace of God.

I'm so thankful for the covering of my husband. He provides for us. He thinks of my daughter and me when he makes decisions. By providing for us, he provides for himself. We are a family unit--created by God. Imperfect but anointed. Fallible but filled with grace.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Little Violin

My daughter is learning to play the violin. In a month or so, when she starts school (3rd grade), she will be in the orchestra. The other day, when she didn't feel like practicing because "it's too hard and it doesn't sound good," I tried to encourage her. A day or so later, I read Ephesians 4:7-16, and I realized the lesson I was trying to teach her is also a lesson I need to learn myself.

It will be great when, one day, she can be a part of something much bigger than herself. There is something so rewarding about playing a small part in something really big.

Learning the violin is not easy. You start by plucking the strings--not even using the bow. When you do begin with the bow, you practice on a little block of rosin before you finally put the bow to the strings.

It's a little monotonous and, at this point, the sound is pretty excruciating. But this is the necessary beginning for my little violin player. One day, as she plays her little part, she will contribute to the violin section. And the violin section, along with the violas, cellos and bass, will form the string section, which will join with the woodwinds, brass and percussion to form a symphony orchestra, which will play magnificent works of art... something one little violin could never do alone.

And yet, the orchestra would not be complete without the little violin. She is a gift to the orchestra, as is every other instrument. The inspiration and message of each piece of music the orchestra plays would not be the same if any of the instruments were missing.

So, learn your instrument--even if you're still at the string plucking stage, or practicing with rosin, or learning to put the bow to the strings with lots of squeaks and painful noises. Keep playing, practicing, growing, because you are part of an intricate, multifaceted and mysterious plan that no human mind could conceive or facilitate. Never quit playing your part because you are a gift to the complex orchestra being directed by the Almighty, Eternal Conductor. Play your heart out for Him. Give your gift to Him. Be a gift to the orchestra, to the church, to the world. Play little violin, play!

Monday, August 3, 2015

God's Mysterious Plan

Ephesians 3:1-13

God's mysterious plan: Through Christ, everyone, Jews and Gentiles alike can come boldly into the presence of God.

Before, only the Jews had access to God, and that was only with much fear and trepidation. Only the designated priest, with bells on (so those waiting outside could tell if he was still moving), and a rope around his ankle could enter into the presence of God. Why the rope around his ankle? Because there was a very real chance that, by some hidden sin, some detail that was missed, something not done just right, that the priest could die in the presence of God. His presence is so glorious, so magnificent, that a mere human being could not just waltz in to say hello! If the priest did die in the presence of the Most Holy One, the rope around his ankle would be used to pull him out.

But at least the Jews had something! They had some access to God. The Gentiles had nothing! No access whatsoever!

But God... Oh God... and His mysterious plan! HE provided a way--He always provides a way! He provides a way out (of sin and temptation 1 Corinthians 10:13). And He provides a way in (to His presence). And not just a way in great fear and trepidation with bells on the hem of my garment and rope around my ankle! He provides a way for me to come into His presence with boldness and confidence! And He provides this way for anyone and everyone who chooses to accept it.

Jesus, through His death and resurrection is that Way. He is the mysterious plan. And that is my unswerving hope!