Thursday, May 29, 2014

He’ll just have to understand!

When I was a freshman in college, I endeavored to write a term paper about love, believe it or not.  I looked up a lot of terms and thought about different kinds of love, parent-child, husband-wife and wife -husband, and the kind of love where someone dies sacrificially for another…like a soldier. But I did not get a great grade on that paper! When I think about it today, I did not know a lot about love at 17. However, as I reflect on love today, I think I Corinthians 13 still says it all.

Love suffereth long and is kind. Love envieth not. Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, Seeketh not her own, Is not easily provoked, Thinketh no evil
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth, Beareth all things, Believeth all things, Hopeth all things, Endureth all things. Love never faileth. KJV
Love never gives up.  Love cares more for others than for self.  Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.  Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t a;ways  “Me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. Love never dies. The Message

In real life, it is a lot easier to say, or to agree to, or even to vow to love someone than to really live it out.  Our instinct is to look out first for our own self, for what we want, for what we think will make us happy, and that instinct is faulty! We will never be happy when we try to manipulate others or events to get what we think we want. This is where the ,"He'll just have to understand," comes in.  It usually follows a time when we have done something we know he does not like, and we count on his understanding, all the while knowing we probably have hurt him.

But real love finds joy and peace and satisfaction in loving others, practically, in deeds.  That means real love is most satisfied when it exerts itself for the good of others.  That requires consideration of what the other person(s) needs, what is best for them, what will bring them joy and safety and a greater understanding of Christ’s love.  After all, our love should be modeled after His sacrificial love. He, not only left heaven, but gave His life for us; that's a pretty high standard of sacrifice.

So instead of spending time daydreaming about what we want, spending time thinking about what we deserve, spending time thinking about how to get our way or our desires, we could devote that time to selflessly loving others, thinking about how we can show them our love.  Then we will know real joy as we put those words or pledge of love into acts of love.  Take it from a parent of many decades, there is nothing like the joy of seeing your child’s face light up because of something you have done for them or said to them.  There is nothing like seeing your spouse’s face light up when you have discovered a new way to please him or her….and I promise you, that joy is way better than the kind you get from winning an argument or getting your own way.

And if the latter is the way you find happiness, you might want to check up on who is influencing you.

Some thoughts hanging around after the wedding…

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I think I am still a little high...please don't misinterpret that.  This past weekend we celebrated the marriage of our son Jim's oldest daughter Ametheny to Austin Crawford, and even if she is our Ametheny, there could not have been a lovelier bride or wedding. God granted us a beautiful day in a beautiful setting with wonderful family and friends to share it with.  Grandpa King, my hubby, performed the ceremony and Grandpa Crawford blessed them in prayer at the end of the ceremony.

Yesterday we came home and today I am back at my routine, Bible study here in my home office, and I love how God speaks through our routine with Him.  That brings us to the words of Frederick Buechner below, part of this day's meditation.

“To worship God means to serve God.  Basically there are two ways to do it.  One way is to do things for God that God needs to have done – run errands for God, carry messages for God, fight on God’s side, feed God’s lambs, and so on.
The other way is to do things for God that you need to do—sing songs for God. Create beautiful things for God, give things up for God, tell God what’s on your mind and in your heart, in general rejoice and make a fool for yourself the way lovers have always made fools of themselves for the ones they love.” Frederick Buechner, Beyond Words                                                                                     

I am not saying that Ametheny and Austin or any of the rest of us made fools of our selves Sunday as we celebrated with them, but we sure did our share of rejoicing...and you could not wipe the smiles off from their faces.  I could not help thinking that's the way we ought to be feeling today and every day, so aware of God's love for us, and so loving Him back that you cannot alter our joy or our expressions of that joy.

I have to say here that it is true that even believers go through valleys of pain, but we do not go through them alone, and it  is the days of rejoicing that enable us to come back out into the light.

Paul wrote these words in Philippians 4: "...whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things....and the God of peace shall be with you."

I think this passage and the joy of the wedding and their love is an example, a picture of God's endless love and commitment to us, and I am encouraged...and maybe a little high this morning, if I can use that expression.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Back spams and perspective

Acts 3: 19 Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.  NASB
Now it’s time to change your ways!  Turn to face God so he can wipe away your sins, pour out showers of blessing to refresh you, The Message

Eugene Peterson puts it so clearly in The Message, change your ways and face God. God is not just interested in getting rid of the sins we have committed in the past because he knows there is so much more than our past.  He is interested in our future!  Sin never ends well, and sin – even forgiven – tends to hang around in our memory and has the potential to exert all kinds of destructive consequences.
God wants us to look at him, and in looking at him we will have the right perspective on life.  We will want to change our ways because we will understand better who he is, how much he loves us, what he has done and will do for us. Our problem is that it is too easy to go through the motions, confessing our sin, the ones we can remember easily, then go back to regular life, that place where we wade into sin without even realizing it.

He wants us to face him, to look into his eyes, getting his perspective on all that pertains to life as we know it.  I wonder if the way we are to change is not just this: looking at him instead of at people.  We are all too familiar with peer pressure, and too many of us succumb to the power of the crowd too naturally because that is where our gaze is.
And He wants to shower blessings on us; He wants us to experience times of refreshing.  I don’t know about you, but I could use more times of refreshing.  This week I was laid still with muscle spasms in my back, not a brand new malady, so I knew what to do.  Find the hot pad and secure it in my recliner (a smaller one) so I could rest against it.  Take muscle relaxers (usually for about a day and a half) and then pursue stillness.  I wonder, as I rehearse that, if God knew I needed a time of refreshing, and He was going to give it to me…since He knew I was not going there myself.  You know how it is with a family wedding this next weekend... all the things to do that make stillness so hard to attain.

If we could keep our eyes on him, I wonder if we would face fewer temptations, more quickly overcome the ones that are there, and savor the experience the blessings of his presence. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I’m not ready for this yet.

Tommy opened his birthday present, took one glance, figured out what it was there hiding under all the tissue and pronounced, “I’m not ready for this yet.”  Roller blades, that is what he got for his
sixth birthday and what was under the tissue.  The amazing thing is that within ten minutes he was skating, albeit very carefully, from one end of the family room to the other.
In Luke 25: 50-54 Luke records the scene of Christ’s ascension to heaven and His final blessing.  Then we see that immediately his disciples worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, worshipping Him and praising God.  Now, I am not so sure that I would not be a lot like Tommy.  I am not sure that worship would have come all that easily.  Instead, I probably would have said, “I’m not ready for this yet.”
I am still studying worship, and my definition today, note that I say today, is worship is acknowledging Who God is.  I also think that when you acknowledge God for Who He is, you would naturally be filled with a desire to give Him your praise and love and affection, and your life.
OK, again I am revealing my own weakness and being honest, I have gone to church many times and not worshipped, and through no fault of the pastor or worship team.  I have gone to church distracted, thinking about the chores ahead of me for the day or about someone I would see, or the news.  The point is I did not go into the worship service acknowledging Who God is, and Who He is to me.  I wasn’t ready yet for worship, and I should have been.

And I think this is the place to say that church is not the only place for worship.  My life ought to be filled with worship; everything I do ought to flow out of a constant and cultivated awareness of Who God is and how I am related to Him. Consider the difference it would make if we developed the practice of viewing all of life through the lens of the presence of God and His love for us. We would remember that we are loved, that we were so loved that Christ gave His life for us, to redeem us from our sin…and that would not be a well-worn cliché but a vital life-changing truth.
We would remember that He NEVER leaves us, nor forsakes us.  We would remember that there is no temptation  we might face that He has not already filtered making sure that we, God and me, would make it through is a way that would bring Him glory…and that would bring us joy.

All of that to say, I am sure there will be moments when I will say “I am not ready for that.” However, give me a few minutes, and I will remember that as I worship God, acknowledging Who He is and how we are related, I really am ready, or it would not be happening.
image from



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I have to admit, I thought Jesus was a little bit harsh!

I guess because I would have done the same thing, I always struggled with how Mary was the bad guy, bad woman if you will, in Luke 10:38-42.  Martha and Mary opened their home to Jesus, and Martha got busy making dinner.  I can see her in the kitchen, maybe separating a chicken from its head and doing all the other unpleasant chores necessary to prepare a company dinner. 

And all the while, Mary sits in the other room, right there at Jesus' feet hanging on His every word.  It never quite seemed fair to me that Jesus took Martha to task, pointing out how Mary made the right choice.  Just not fair!!  Didn't He want some dinner?  Isn't that why He stopped there?  And didn't someone have to do all that work?  I am afraid I would have been right there beside Martha, whining away.

Then this week, Dahlia Orth, one of my students made a presentation on this passage pointing out that the issue was not the wrong choice Martha made, but her motivation.  And Mary's motivation.  Dahlia suggested that Martha was motivated by fear.  What would people think of her if she did not put on a good table for Jesus of all people?  And to make sure that everything turned out well, to meet her standards, she needed help, Mary's help.

But Mary, what was her motivation for sitting at Jesus' feet?  I wonder if she was not motivated by love for Jesus.  She loved Him, and furthermore, she understood He loved her.  Martha, perhaps, was so accustomed to conditional love that she could not understand that Jesus did not care about a fancy dinner, that His love for her did not depend on savory chicken and the good dishes.  He only cared about giving them what He had for them, His love and His message.

One sister driven by a fear of a lack of appreciation and acceptance, the other fully confident of Jesus' love and loving Him back.  One found her identity in performance, the other in faith.  Finally, I got it, at least I think I did.  Finally it made sense to me.  And I have to admit, it is much easier for me to fall into the Martha trap that to just rest in His presence, to soak up His Word, His message and His love, to be a Mary.

So thanks Dahlia, for a thought-provoking presentation and challenge.