Friday, June 28, 2013

The Good Part

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."  And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her." ~ Luke 10:38-42 

*  Martha welcomed Jesus into her house. She was distracted with much serving. She approached Jesus, questioning Him and telling Him what to do. 
*  Mary sat at Jesus' feet and listened to Him.

Two people interacting with Jesus.  One chose the "good part."  Is Jesus opposed to serving? It depends.  Are we serving Him or serving idols of some sort?  Not all service is alike.  Is our serving like His serving or is our serving distracting us from loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; and from loving our neighbor?  Jesus came to serve and to give His life as a ransom (Mark 10:45).   He was always about His Father's business, submitting Himself even to the point of dying on a cross..."not My will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22:42). This kind of service requires us to listen, to sit at His feet.

Interestingly, the very next thing Luke records for us after telling us about Martha and  Mary is Jesus teaching His disciples to pray:
"Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven..."
We too are called to be about our Father's business...Jesus teaches us to pray in a way that positions us at His feet...His name be hallowed, His kingdom come, His will be done!  Do we have our own agenda's, welcoming Jesus in only to advise Him to help us with our plans?  Are we distracted with our "serving"? Or are we choosing what Jesus calls the "good part"...sitting at His feet and listening to Him so that all our serving will be about His name, His kingdom, His will?

Monday, June 24, 2013


"He made us accepted in the Beloved." ~ Eph 1:6b

How much of our lives are spent trying to earn acceptance in some fashion?
*  Are we doing the "right" diet?  Should we even be on a diet? 
*  Are we wearing the "right" clothes?
*  Are we using the "right" make up in "right" proportions?
*  Are we sporting the "right" haircut?
*  Are we engaged in the "right" kinds of activities?

My children come to me and ask things like "Does this look ok?  Do my clothes match? What do you think of this hairstyle?  Do you think I am fat?"  And on and on.  Some of that is just part of the learning curve of figuring out cultural appropriateness, but largely there is the unstated admission behind it that I want to fit in, I want to be accepted.  They have the honesty to ask out loud what many only think inwardly, but unless you are the exception, we all have insecurities and fear of man issues that require us to hear and trust God's gracious word to us, or remain enslaved. 

God tells us that if we are His, He has already made us accepted in the Beloved.  The jury is not still out...the verdict has been rendered.  He has made us accepted in the Beloved!  Let those words sink in.  And share them with your children if God has blessed you with them.  They need to hear as much as we do that they ARE loved, they don't have to earn it.  They ARE beautiful, made by God as His image bearers, gifted to bear good fruits.  Is this the message they hear from you?

Let's live out of response to God's goodness to us...His love already bestowed.  Put off these enslaving worries and all the associated fears of man, and walk as children of Light.  That doesn't mean that anything goes with food and clothes and activities...but it does mean that these things are no longer governed by worries over being accepted or gaining approval or getting noticed. 
*  Eat with thankfulness for God's glory from those things He provides.
*  Adorn your beautiful God-designed body with clothes and make up and hair cuts and jewelry that aim to reflect the beauty of the Lord to others because He already loves you, and you are already accepted in the Beloved (note that a simple observation of God's creation indicates that God enjoys variety..we do not all have to look alike). 
*  And as far as activity goes, if we really begin to embrace the heights and depths of God's great love for us, we will grow in our desires to be about our Father's business because we will be wanting to be doing what He is doing right alongside of Him...our choices of how we use the gift of time He gives will begin to reflect more and more the mission of our God.  

What a privilege we have been given.  Let's not spend our days trying to win approval of others for ourselves....let's know we are already approved by the One that matters most and truly live.  "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" ~ 1 John 3:1

Saturday, June 22, 2013

He crowns us with His lovingkindness

We have a saying at our house when the tensions begin to rise, and selfishness is the spirit in the air (those two things tend to go together in my experience).  We take our turns, being the not fully sanctified lovers of Jesus people that we are...turns at being selfish, and turns at being the one to speak our saying.  "Breathe in love, breathe out gratitude." 

When we are practicing selfishness, we tend to view what is lacking, what we think we deserve, how we think others ought to serve us and how dare they not?  When selfishness is our operating status, we tend to see our "self" as the center...we view other people as aids to getting us what we want or obstacles in our way, and we treat them accordingly.  Tensions rise when self isn't getting what self wants at the moment. Do as "I" want, and all is fine, but cross me and watch out!  Either way, really, that is a problem.  Our heart is not right if this is how we are living.  And the solution, in part, is to remember WHO the center of life really is...

Psalm 103 begins with "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!"  Bless who?  The LORD!  He is the center. This beautiful Psalm continues with: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things..."

"Breathe in love, breathe out gratitude." 

Remember the Lord, and forget not His benefits...when you breathe in His love, really and truly, how can you not begin to overflow with gratitude?

I suspect that at least most people who are raising kids hear the phrase "that's not fair."  Now occasionally, a true injustice may be occurring, but generally this is just a great big clue that the declaring child is revealing his or her own selfish heart.  I have heard this a lot lately, and I have begun to respond gently with something along the lines of  "you're right...hell would be fair, and instead you're getting get a nice soft bed and food to eat and parents who love you and correct you...breathe in love child, breathe out gratitude."  I also suspect that those of us raising up kids are guilty too...I know I am.  Father please forgive me, and cause me to breathe in Your love. 

Ps 103:10 "He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities."

He forgives us, heals us, crowns us with His tender mercies.  Oh may God open our eyes to Him, and replace our selfish hearts with hearts that are overflowing in praise to His Name.  May He make us more and more like Jesus, who did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Just a kiss?

An excerpt from Douglas Bond’s book: 
Fathers & Sons Stand Fast  (pg 135)

“What’s the big deal?  It’s just a kiss.” So says the postmodern world you live in.  Wiser minds through the centuries, however, have not agreed. 
Renaissance scholar Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1469-1536), in his colloquy The Wooer and the Maiden, exposed the sexual impatience of a young man attempting to woo Maria, a chaste young woman who liked him but was wisely cautious.

His advances frustrated, the young man asked, “Shan’t I have anything from you to take with me?”

Maria replied, “This scent ball, which may gladden your heart.”

“Add a kiss at least,” moaned the wooer.

Maria said, “I want to deliver to you a virginity whole and unimpaired.”

The wooer scoffed. “Does a kiss rob you of your virginity?”

Maria cleverly replied, “Then do you want me to bestow my kisses on others too?”

The wooer was indignant.  “Of course not.  I want your kisses kept for me.”

“I’ll keep them for you,” Maria replied, and for that reason, “I wouldn’t dare give away kisses just now.”  She offered him a handshake instead and concluded, “Meanwhile, I’ll pray Christ to bless and prosper us both in what we do.”