Sunday, November 15, 2015

Servant Living

Jesus knew that the Father had given Him authority over everything and that He had come from God and would return to God.  So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around His waist and poured water into a basin.  Then He began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel He had around Him.  John 17.3-5

Jesus knew who he was.  He knew where He had come from and where He was going.  This was God, the Creator of the universe, King Eternal, Yahweh washing the feet of the one’s He had created. 

For the disciples, this was a “shock and awe” moment!  No Rabbi or any person of significant status had ever washed another’s feet.  It just wasn’t done.  The job of foot washing was always relegated to the lowest of the low, the refuse of society.

But Jesus never let society dictate His behavior, He never let it deviate Him from His mission.  He had come to serve.  Just hours from this moment, Jesus would demonstrate His greatest act of service, His coup d'├ętat, the cross!  Overthrowing the norms, the status-quo and turning this self-driven, people pleasing society on its head.

After Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He told them, “Since, I your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.  I have given you an example to follow.  Do as I have done to you.”  (John 13.12-14)

Do what I do. Serve each other. 

Having the heart of a servant was a way of living for Jesus and it should be for those of us who are His followers.  It wasn’t one act of service, followed by a myriad of self-driven deeds.  It was a lifestyle of service.  Unconditional service.  No expectations.  Service born from a heart that loves.

Jesus’ greatest act of service, the cross, came from a heart propelled by love.  And so should our service derive from a heart of love for those He created.

Unconditional service is never easy.  Unconditional service always has a cost but it is a way of life for those who choose to follow.  It marks us as true followers of the One who first demonstrated His love for us!

Lord, we confess in this every-man-for himself world, we have lost sight of this servant way of living.  We have allowed the world and its ways to color our perspective and justify our self-centered choices.  Teach us to have the heart of a servant and to live each day, following the example you set for us.  Amen

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Thank You, Jesus

Thank you, Jesus . . . for rescuing me.

I was arrogant, self-seeking, and prideful.  I didn’t need You.  But You chose me and laid bare my depravity. A knife to my soul.  A necessary pain, to break away the old and form the new and I am forever grateful!  

For though He wounds, He also bandages.  He strikes but His hands also heal.  Job 5.18 

Thank you, Jesus . . . for giving me life.

A life everlasting.  A life that begins now! My old way of living was a meager existence, a barely-getting-by reality.  But now I’ve stepped into a new reality, a new way of living.  Embracing the journey You have for me, viewing my circumstance through a new lens, knowing You are shaping me with a future purpose in mind!   

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look God’s home is now among His people!  He will live with them, and they will be His people.  God Himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.  All these things are gone forever.”  And the One sitting on the throne said, “Look I am making everything new!”  Revelation 21.3-53

Thank you, Jesus . . . for making me Your beloved daughter.

No matter where I go, no matter what happens to me, no matter what someone says about me, I’m your child!  Nothing and no one (including me) will ever change that!  I am Your most precious possession.  You love me with an everlasting love. 

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!  1 John 3.1 

I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.  With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself. Jeremiah 31.3

Thank you, Jesus . . . for your faithfulness to me.

You never give up on me.  You never throw in the towel.  No matter what I do or say, you remain faithful.  You are the SAME, yesterday, today and forever!  Your love for me knows no end.  My behavior never changes who You are.    
               Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Hebrews 13.8 

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!  His mercies never cease.  Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.  Lamentations 3.22-23 

Thank you, Jesus . . . for knowing me.

You know me and yet you still love me!  You know my thoughts, intents and desires.  You know what’s best for me, what I need and what I don’t.  You are always for me. 

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.  You know when I sit down or stand up.  You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.  Psalm 139.1-2 

Thank you, Jesus . . . for allowing me to know You!

You have given me Your Word so that I may know You. This isn’t a casual relationship but an intimate, personal, all-consuming one!  You are the lover of my soul and You desire me to know You.  

This is what the Lord says:  Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches.  But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone:  That they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things.  I, the Lord, have spoken!  Jeremiah 9.24

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Soul Quiet


My soul quietly waits for the True God alone; my salvation comes from Him.  Psalm 62.1 

I confess, I am rarely quiet.  It is go, go, go.  Do, do, do.  And at the end of the day, it’s difficult to turn off my brain and rest.  I find it easy to take refuge in all I’ve accomplished and ignore the unsettled, restless feelings in my heart.  Focusing on the doing, rather than the being. 

Someone once told me, we aren’t human-doings, we’re human-beings.    

How true this is and yet how uncomfortable we find “being” to be. 

When am I ever “soul quiet”?  

We’re fixers . . .    

We don't need a Savior because we are our own savior.  We need money, we take out a loan.  We no longer feel in love with our spouse so we dump them for a newer model.  Our child is struggling with a teacher, we move them to a different class.  Our in-laws are driving us crazy, we cut them out of the picture.  We read self-help books, see counselor after counselor, and take matters into our own hands.  

Waiting is for those who are lazy.  Waiting wastes time.  Waiting never solves anything. 

We don’t need a Rescuer because we are our own rescuer. 

It’s easy to rationalize away this call for soul quiet waiting. 

Soul quiet is hard.  Soul quiet takes precious time.  Soul quiet takes perseverance and intentionality. 
Soul quiet causes us to let go of the list and focus on the being.  Soul quiet forces us to be still.  Soul quiet brings us face to face with who we are deep down inside. 

We will never pursue this life accidentally.  The voices of this world shout loud and long and unless we choose to remove our self from their continual barrage we will never learn to listen to the whispers of our Savior.   

Years ago I learned a soul quiet practice called “Contemplative Prayer”, also known as Lectio Divina (Sacred Reading).  I have found it to be a wonderful way of helping me learn to quiet my soul and wait on God.

Here’s how it works:

*Read aloud the passage of Scripture (should be only 2-3 verses).  Listen to the words and be still for 1-2 minutes. 

*Read aloud again and Reflect for another 1-2 minutes:  What in this passage touches my life today? 
*Read aloud again and Respond for another 1-2 minutes:  What is God inviting me to do
*Read aloud again and Rest for another 1-2 minutes:  Ask nothing, simply rest in the presence
of the Lord.

*Write down what God has spoken to you through His Word. 

I encourage you today to take Philippians 4.6-7 and begin your soul quiet practice.

God is calling all of us to the soul quiet way of living.  Resting in His presence.  Waiting on Him to rescue us.  Quieting our hearts before Him.   
It’s the way of Peace even when our worlds are turned upside down.  It’s the way of Joy even when there is tremendous pain.  It is the path of Life for those who choose to walk its way.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Outlandish Faith

What would cause someone to go against the tide of social influence?  What would make them stand up against a vast amount of their peers and refuse to go along with what they believe?  Peer pressure is a powerful force and few can stand against it!   

However, there were two men in the Bible who did just that . . .

Caleb and Joshua were chosen, along with ten other men, to explore the Promised Land and give a report to Moses and the people.  When they returned ten of the spies were against conquering the land.  This is what they said, “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there.  All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”  (Numbers 13:32-33 NLT)

Caleb and Joshua disagreed!  They wanted to go immediately and take the land.

“But all the people began to cry and weep.  Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron.”(Numbers 14:1-2 NLV)

 By this time, you would think Caleb and Joshua would have given in to this incredible amount of pressure but they didn’t.  Listen to what they said, “It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey.  Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!” (Number 14:7-9 NLV) 

When everyone else was trembling in fear, Caleb and Joshua were ready to march ahead.  Who does that?  Why would they believe when everyone else did not?

They knew who God was!  They had witnessed His constant faithfulness to them, time and time again and they believed!  They saw the Promised Land through a different lens.  They knew the God who created the Universe, who hung the stars in space and formed the land would stand with them, would go before them and they had nothing to fear!

They all had witnessed God’s faithfulness to them; when He provided manna, brought water from a rock and saved them from the Egyptians!  What caused Caleb and Joshua to believe and the Israelites to doubt? 

To the other Israelites, Caleb and Joshua had an outlandish faith!  It was completely illogical.  But this wild and crazy faith was rooted in an amazing, outlandish God who had proven Himself over and over to them. 

What kind of faith do you have?  How big is your God?  Do you trust Him when things seem impossible, when you can’t see what He is doing? 

The only way to develop this kind of faith is to KNOW your God.  

I encourage you to get into His Word and discover who He is.  He will not disappoint! 

This is what the Lord says:  “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches.  But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love . . .” (Jeremiah 9:23-24 NLV)


Friday, July 24, 2015

Welcome Home!

“Welcome home!”  The immigration officer said as he checked over my passport.  What wonderful words to hear after traveling half way around the globe.

My husband and I had just spent a fabulous eleven days in South Korea visiting our son.  For a few short moments we pretended to be Korean.  We became chopstick aficionados while sitting on the floor eating, enjoying pepper paste and kimchi. (I even braved a little octopus.)  We lived in a Korean home and took in all the sights, smells and sounds of this wonderful land.  It was fantastic!

As incredible as that time was, it didn’t change the fact that we were visitors in a foreign land.  We didn’t speak their language and we were awkward in our attempts to fit into the culture, in fact most of the time I wondered if I was offending them by my crazy American ways.
We were just travelers passing through, taking in all we could for a few short moments.  Then, we kissed our son goodbye and stepped back into the familiar. . .
Home.  A place where we belong, where we can be completely us, where we’re comfortable and things are familiar, like an old comfy sweater or a favorite pair of worn out tennis shoes. Where we speak the same language, know the customs and are a little less awkward.
As comfy and cozy as I am with my living situation here, this isn’t my true home!  This is just a stopping ground, a place to pitch my tent while I await my heavenly lodgings.  It’s why sometimes when I talk about God, I feel like I’m speaking a different language. It’s why “things” never satisfy and I just don’t seem to fit in.  I'm awkward.  And it’s why I always seem to have this vague longing deep in my soul for something more. 
This place isn’t my real home.  
The apostle Peter speaks about this residency issue in 1 Peter 2.11 (I love how the Message puts it), “Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it . . . “
One day we will take a different trip.  One day we’ll arrive at our true destination and the "immigration officer", our Savior will say with arms wide open, “Welcome HOME, beloved.  I've been waiting for you!” 
Oh what a day!  It takes my breath away and brings tears to my eyes.
Seriously, I can’t wait!!  Can you?

Heavenly Father, help me to never get too comfortable here that I forget where I truly belong, where my real home is.  Amen.