Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

“We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”
Bilbo Baggins

Cleaning this summer, I came across a few papers with notes that I had gotten from the Drama teacher at the school I work. She had used the notes as she was introducing The Hobbit play to our high school last spring.

I cannot remember exactly what it was about those notes, or her delivery of the introduction, that caught my imagination, only that they sparked an idea for a blog post. As I read them this summer, there was no particular line that jumped out, and yet, the entire message of black on white, was one that left me nodding in agreement as I read.

If you are familiar with The Hobbit, you will know about Bilbo Baggins, the middle aged hobbit who likes his life … comfortable … safe … predictable (I can relate). What Bilbo does not realize, in the beginning of the story, is that his comfortable, safe, predictable life have also created within him an acceptance of life without adventure, without risk, without … living.

The moment when Gandalf enters into the scene, the house, the life of Bilbo … it is then that Bilbo’s life begins to change, because it is then that Bilbo gets distracted from what he had wanted to do. For some (uncharacteristic for a hobbit) reason Bilbo invites Galdalf back for tea, and it is in the invitation that Bilbo’s adventure, and his life truly begin (even though he becomes late for dinner).

An adventure, is something people often speak of wanting, but not many venture beyond their comfortable, safe, predictable daily lives. To venture in such a way would be to choose change, and with it comes the possibility of discomfort, the unexpected, danger and rejection. To choose not to change has consequences as well … missing out on opportunities, on relationships, on learning … on life.

That one small act of opening the door was all it took for Bilbo to begin his great adventure and his really living.

Christ also comes to the door of each of our lives. Sometimes He seems to break the door down, but more often His knock is barely audible, except to the heart of the one whose door He is knocking. When Christ walks in, and we make that most adventurous decision to open the door and let him enter, it is then that our lives begin to change and we begin to live.

That living comes from being so distracted by the adventure designed for us that we forget what it was that we wanted to do. His purpose becomes our purpose, and it is then that we can live … really live life’s adventure.

So, is not being late for dinner worth not answering the door?

Or will not answering the door make you late for dinner?

 “Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you.”
Revelation 3:20

“It’s a dangerous business, walking out one’s front door”

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Cubes - 379 - INFLUENCE

Influence can be good or bad … lets consider the good.

Who has influenced you?

Who has changed your life?

What you do …

What you say …

How you think …

How you live …

There are many in my life who have influenced me for good. My parents, other family members, friends along the way, teachers, my hubby, my children.

One of the events, the other day, was that the youth pastor of our church was taking our son out for lunch, and it reminded me of a person who influenced me as a teen of about the same age as my son.

I did not grow up as a ‘church kid’ who was marinated in the things of that institution from conception onward. I went to Sunday School, and to the summer DVBS (Daily Vacation Bible School) programs, but I did not know the ins and the outs of church life (some days I see that as a blessing … after all, we church people are so very human).

What I did know about church came from my own observations … old women had VERY hairy legs, my grandmother sang like Lucille Ball, do NOT run in the sanctuary, and that church is a place where you get cookies and juice (truly, feeding my sugar-cravings was the way to ensure I came back).

The most important learning I received at church came from my Sunday School teacher when I was in middle school.

Beth was a lovely, loving lady. Not a nasty word was ever spoken from her mouth, and she greeted each of us with a warm, welcoming and sincere embrace. She was a wife of a pig farmer, and mother to two little boys. They did not have much money, yet her eyes glittered with more joy than any other person I knew. She loved us all equally, whether we were a ‘church kid’ or just some kid from the community who was brought faithfully to Sunday School each and every week.

In Beth’s presence I felt cared for, accepted, and loved far beyond what I expected from someone who was not family. It was the way that Beth loved me, loved all the girls in that class, that made me see the possibilities of a life with Jesus as the model. And, for me, Beth was that model of Christ’s love for me.

She shared of her life as a believer in Christ, she shared of her life as a wife, as a mom. She held nothing back when she shared of her own experiences in those roles.

She lived the life of being patient and kind, she did not envy, or boast, and was not proud. She did not dishonor others, and was not self-seeking, easily angered, and kept no record of wrongs. She did not delight in evil but rejoiced with the truth. She always protected, always trusted, always hoped, always persevered.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

In her Sunday School class, Beth taught … from the Bible. My most long lasting memory is a continuing lesson on faith, that was rooted in:

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

The teaching of that lesson … teaching about hope, teaching about faith influenced my life even until today. And she communicated love in the most consistent of ways.

I am thankful for this sister-in Christ, who influenced me so significantly.

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Why do I forget what I know?

Why do I overlook the obvious?

Why do I look for what I need in the wrong places?

Why do I look at all, when what I need is right in front of me?

“A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Proverbs 18:24

3cc4f3db908903d40e74834f0fc5823dWhen we experience disappointment, loss, loneliness, discouragement … and we all will … it is important to remember that we are never alone, and that all that this Earth and life offer (people and things) is dust in the light of what god offers.

We have all had hours, days, weeks, even years when it seems as though there is no hope at all in our life. The future, whether tomorrow of every tomorrow until our last breath, can appear to us to be void of any hope.

But we have it all wrong!

Our hope is not in ourselves or our abilities.

Our hope is not in our families.

Our hope is not in our job.

Our hope is in nothing but Christ.

He is always with us … “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

He is always for us … “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

He is our strength  … “I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

This song came on the radio one day, when hope seemed lost:

“You hear me when I call
You are my morning song
Though darkness fills the night
It can not hide the light
Whom shall I fear?”

Along with the fitting lyrics of that song, were the words I had written on My Loves page, Numero-Uno. It was a good reminder to me that my hope is not in anyone, but Christ.

The words of that page were written on a ‘good’ day, but they are true for every day!

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When I got married to my hubby, there were two people who wondered aloud about the life (as a pastor’s wife) that I was entering. But I was young, in love, and there was nothing that we could not survive, as long as we were together!

It did not take long to realize that this life had it challenges, but it also had amazing blessings. Our life is designed around the challenge of making the life of Christ one that others want to follow, in a deeper, more sincere way. Along with that, much of our mutual desire is to help those who have been hurt, deceived, or ignored by other Christ followers see that we are not all like that, and that the One we follow is not in the business of hurting, deceiving or ignoring.

Through the years we have added three kids to our family, and as our kids they were born into the title of Pastors Kids PKs). There were negatives like having a busy dad (who has made a commitment to not miss the important events of their lives) and a life where everyone in the church knows you (but often that has meant the blessing of many dear people who pray for them), but I really did not see PK as a negative stereotype for our kids.

Our kids, like their peers (and their parents), have moments when they blow it royally, but they do so not because they are PKs, but because they are fully human.

The reality of our life in the church means that they know things others in the church do not. Things that we sometimes do not want anyone exposed to, especially them. Things like times when their dad has been spoken of derogatorily, or when their mother has been hurt. They have experienced the social ‘shunning’ by peers whose parents do not support the work of their dad. Then there are the times when they have been the center of the negative conversation, and a ‘friend’ has relayed the conversation to them (without any mention of defending them at the time). They know the discouragement and disappointment that ‘serving’ God in ministry can mean.

God has given us such a beautiful life, and we have laid down our lives for the sake of this ministry. But God has given us the beautiful responsibility of introducing His love to two daughters and one son, and that is a responsibility I will never sacrifice.

So, I do what other mothers may shudder to consider. When our children reach high school, I sit them down and explain that I want them to know the freedom of Christ without the confines of the title they were born with. I tell them that we, their parents, have no expectation that they will choose our church as their church. And then, I encourage them to …

-to a church where they choose
-to a church where they are ‘just’ another believer
-to a church where they can serve simply because they feel compelled
-to a church where the style of worship encourages them to worship
-to a church where the delivery of the message feeds them

“go into the world, and tell everyone the Good News” (Mark 16:15).

That is the most important message I can give them … that, and wings so that they can choose to fly.

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I was saddened the other day to read the post of a fellow blogger, of her exposure to a Christian gentleman (I use the word gentleman VERY loosely).

This man, a customer at a restaurant, pleaded for ‘deals’ on numerous menu items. Then proceeded to ‘preach’ whenever he could get any of the restaurant employees attention. He he condemned many people groups for their beliefs and lifestyles. Then his daughter paid the bill (no mention of a tip either).

I was boiling! He makes me embarrassed to be called a Christian. To me, he defames the name of Christ!

This man lives in a bubble without the understanding that but by the grace of God … Instead, he lives in belief that he is where he is because of his ‘right’ behaviors. In his eagerness to tell others how not to live, he is forgetting that choosing the path of Christ is full of far more affirmations than denials.

This man makes representing my Savior to others so difficult, because he undermines my main hope-filled desire; that it is in following in the Creator-ordained steps of my Savior, people would see less of me and more of Him.

The Jesus I worship does not condemn the non-believer of anything except for unbelief.

This makes me think of the story from John (chapter 4), known as the woman at the well. Jesus comes to the well, and asks for a drink of water from not just a woman, but a Samaritan woman (a social faux pas, as he was a Jew), and not just a Samaritan woman but a woman who has had five husbands, and many more men in her life (enough said). Jesus does not condemn her bloodline nor her lifestyle, He simply offers her a quenching for her thirst that simple water could never do.

“This is way too much for just me
there are others,
brother, sister, lovers, haters,
the good and the bad
sinners and saints
who should hear what you told me
who should see what you showed me
who should taste what you gave me
who should feel how you forgave me
for to be known is to be loved
and to be loved is to be known
and they all need this too
we all do
need it for our own”

Because of the way Jesus loved her, she accepted the living water that He offered, and it is said that “many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39). And who would not come to believe if they first were loved as Jesus loves? And it is He, the Christ, who makes me unashamed to be called Christian.

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Confession time … I do not like the Little Drummer Boy Christmas song.  W A Y  back when I was a kid it was my favorite song, and favorite Christmas TV special. But, as I got older my fondness for it has waned dramatically … until now.

Last week (November 30) a young man from Winnipeg, Manitoba posted his version on Youtube which has gone viral (as of today it has just under two hundred thousand hits … only four days after being posted). This version is changing my perspectives towards the Little Drummer Boy song.

Sean Quigley, a sixteen year old high school student designed the arrangement. He directed, edited, recorded, and played instruments, as well as mixed it into what you can view above. WOW!

I have to say I totally love the rockier, modern version he has created. It is fun, and demands a response of toe tapping at the very least.

As I watched I was awed by his gifts, I was moved by his passion, and I was curious about his motivation. Did he know of what, and of who he was singing? Was it just a song? Or was he, like the little drummer boy he was belting out lyrics about, a poor boy with nothing to give but that which God put within him, in the form of his gifts and talents?

When an interviewer told Sean Quigley that Justin Bieber started this (Youtube) way, and asked if he dreams the same for himself, Sean responded this way:

“I wouldn’t say that being recognized is the dream. I just want people to remember what Christmas is about. It’s not about Santa, it’s not about presents, it’s about the birth of Christ, and that’s whats most important to me right now.”

YES! The message, and the messenger are in sync!

Somehow knowing that makes the validity, the power of his expression of his gifts all the more beautiful, knowing that he is acknowledging not just his gifts, but the giver of those same gifts, talents and abilities. And he is quite literally playing out the lyrics the song ends with.

“I played my drum for him,
I played my best for him,

Then he smiled at me, (Pa rum pum pum pum)
Me and my drum”

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