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A Woman's Perspective



Message from Dan: "I asked my wife to do the blogging for me, because I like the way she writes & I think you will, too!
Besides.... I'd rather be fishing!"


Monday, October 17, 2011

God Navigation

I was reading a Bible passage from the Book of John the other day when I was struck by Peter’s longing for Jesus and his responsive attempt to correct his own course.  He adjusted himself in the hope of coming into closer alignment with Jesus.  He was in the right place at the right time… he was actively engaged in the listening process… but what he couldn’t avoid was the affect of his own human reasoning on the communication process.  I found myself identifying with Peter as he swung his “reaction pendulum” in opposite directions attempting to relate to Jesus. 

John chapter 13 identifies the time and setting as the Passover Festival where Jesus is gathered with His disciples for the evening meal and He knows that His work on earth is nearly finished.  Verses 3 & 4 say “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.”  Jesus is acting with specific intent here.  Have you ever known anyone who was dying?  With their last spoken words they want to express what is most important to those whom they love.  They want their parting words to be meaningful… to impact lives…  so they measure them well.  Jesus knows this will be His last chance to personally interact with His disciples…  Verse 1 says that “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”  So this is his exit strategy.  They didn’t realize that they were about to receive a parting legacy from their Master.  In verse 7 Jesus says “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Whatever He was about to do would be meaningful & important to the future.  So Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciple’s feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.

Let me sidetrack a moment and describe something that happened to me when I was about 19 years old.  There was a family from church I used to hang out with.  I enjoyed many unique family dinners with them and they always had a lot of fun together.  I introduced a friend of mine to them, and on this particular afternoon she and I were invited over after church for dinner.  It soon became apparent that their son was attracted to my friend.  There was a visible spark between the two of them which became more obvious when after dinner the parents put on some music and proceeded to teach us a variety of dance steps including the Foxtrot, Tango, & Waltz.  It really was a blast, but I found myself hesitating to dance with the son even though he graciously asked me to.  My pride prevented me from accepting his invitation, because I knew that he favored my friend and my own heart was hurting from a recent breakup.  A year later, my friend and their son actually got married and are still married to this day.  But I have always regretted not dancing with him that afternoon.  I let the mists of my emotions and pride steer me off course, and I  missed out on the joy of the moment.

So there’s Peter, watching Jesus wash the feet of his fellow disciples, and he balks when it’s his turn.  Do you suppose it was because his hadn’t been the first feet to get washed?  No matter his internal motivations, even if he was thinking that he wasn’t worthy of such a gift, his pride was misplaced when he declared to Jesus “You shall never wash my feet!”  Jesus tries to steer him back by replying “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”  So here’s the 2nd pendulum swing for Peter.  He says “Then Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”  I laugh at this response, because I can totally see myself in the same place… one moment he’s standing on his laurels and the next he’s plunging forward with eager expectations.  I think Peter responded with an adamant course correction because his heart’s desire was to connect deeply to Jesus.

That’s been my heart’s desire as well, but I’ve had to make both major and minor course corrections along the way.  Sometimes we get blown off course by “life storms” and other times our pride causes subtle drifts in direction.  A verse that I’ve brought with me from my summer of faith with God is Hebrews 13:3-4 “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.”  The New Living Translation says,  “You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.  For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.”

Jesus told Peter that “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean.”  Because I’m trusting Jesus as my Savior, I’m spiritually clean, too; but, I need my feet washed on a regular basis.   That’s where being connected with other believers comes in to play.  We need to be doing life together with friends that we’re connected to who can encourage us, or warn us, and help keep our spiritual ships afloat!   We don’t need expensive computers and GPS or even the stars to navigate.  We just need each other!  In my Women’s Small Group we meet weekly and share our lives.  We encourage each other by listening, praying, sharing food.  It’s like a little oasis of time that I’ve come to treasure.

The John 13 passage says “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”  I think this is the kind of love, devotion and loyalty that Jesus demonstrated, and which He wants us to lavish upon one another.  The importance of the message is punctuated by the timing of its delivery on that final Passover meal.  It was Peter’s human processing and pride that caused his initial negative reaction, but it was his heart for God that helped him change his course.  I John 4:7-8 tell us that love comes from God; and it’s proof that we know God when we are actively engaged in the process of loving one another! Are you “washing the feet” in your life, or are you in need of a course correction? Are the mists of your pride obscuring your spiritual vision and getting in the way of experiencing all God has for you? Consider Proverbs 3:1-6 as a recipe for living and loving and experiencing God’s favor in your life...


“My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart. 
Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.
 
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.”

Monday, September 26, 2011

CONCERT BRINGS UNEXPECTED INSIGHTS

What a GREAT concert and celebration of 25 years of uplifting Music from The Joy FM.  Thank you for making encouraging Christian Music accessible to so many!  For us it was a festive night spent among friends and the amazing family of Joy FM Listeners.  We were all in for a quadruple treat and the artists delivered the goods!  I was particularly excited for the opportunity to enjoy the music of Audrey Assad in person since I have fallen in love with her LYRICS this year.  It was fun getting to meet her and tell her what a blessing her music has been.

 So the evening passed very enjoyably and finally Brandon Heath was introduced and came out to sing.  He ended up doing something that I wonder if he will do again in the future.  I think the outcome was a little unexpected and more than he bargained for.  For me it ended up illustrating Jesus in a surreal way.  So what Brandon did was invite all the kids to come down to the front.  They came as if the floodgates had been opened.  And it was sweet seeing them gathered in a big cluster watching Brandon sing.  They had cell phones and were photographing and videotaping him. 

But I was soon aware of a feeling of discomfort, because it quickly became apparent that the cloud cluster of kids was continuing to brew and surge forward until they were actually encroaching on the stage itself!  You could see the surprise on Brandon’s face while at the same time that he’s trying to sing; he’s saying, “keep a reasonable distance.”  Carmen's mother was sitting in front of me, and about that time she turned around and said under her breath (in a rich Olympia Dukakis voice from "Steel Magnolias"), "Well, let's see how she's gonna handle this."  Without really being aware of cycling through the thoughts, I realized I was beginning to feel a bit stern toward the children and thought to myself, “Okay you parents… you need to do something.” 

And almost in the same split second of that thought, ANOTHER thought slammed into my mind, “Let the little children come to me!”  Wow!  It was a weird kind of déjà vu feeling.  I was aware of being on the edge of my seat trying to process the scene as the children continued to invade and the very words of Jesus are swirling in my head!  “For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these!”  “What does this mean?” I was asking myself… “What do I need to understand here?” “What behavior do I need to replicate in my own life to become like one of these children?”

Another thought slipped in… “Give an inch and they take a mile!”  By this time I’m over the discomfort and am actually feeling a little fanciful, like I’ve stepped into an odd Christian Peter Pan movie set or something.  But then I realize, THAT’S exactly what Jesus liked about the children… their open eagerness… their uninhibited spontaneity… their lack of strategy…  They were just ready to respond and accept the gift that was being offered. 

It’s hard to explain how magical it was at that point.  I have to admit, I was sweating there for a moment, but the happy ending came.  Brandon finished the song and with a lot of kindness and grace told the kids he was going to sing a ballad next, so they needed to back up and sit down but that he wanted them to stay.  It was really a precious sight… like they were there to see Jesus. I think they got a pretty good representation of Him.  My hat’s off to Brandon Heath!  To "Steel" a line from the aforementioned movie... "He sounds like good people to me!"       

Friday, September 23, 2011

LUNCH & A BLOG


So… its been an emotional journey this week.  We have a good friend who passed over into heaven on Monday night.  She fought a long hard battle with breast cancer (no capital letters for that disease!).  So I’ve found myself needing some extra comfort this week.  My fall women’s small group met at my house on Tuesday night and I invited them into my kitchen and proceeded to make an apple pie from scratch.  We talked and laughed together until it went into the oven, and then we went over our lesson and had some worship and prayer time.  Then the oven timer went off and the pie was ready.  You already know our penchant for Blue Bell Ice Cream… in this case the flavor was Homemade Vanilla!  I think women are good at that comfort thing.  We just know what to do to make each other feel better.  Honestly, I know some men who are amazing at that, too, so I love my brothers and sisters who have those empathetic hearts and give good hugs! 

So… this morning I’m at the grocery store ‘cause I have to take a dessert to another event tonight; and I’m thinking to myself, “should I make SOPAPILLAS, or PECAN PRALINES, or HELLO DOLLY’S.”   Of course, I’m also on my cell phone talking to a friend.  I made this custom little shoulder purse to hold my phone so I can just insert an ear bud and talk without having to hold onto it.  So I’m getting more animated in my conversation and I realize that people are beginning to look at me and they think I’m talking to myself!!!  What a hoot! 

So… comfort comes in many forms.  There’s the FOOD form, and the FRIEND form, and even strangers at the grocery store can bring a smile to my face.  The girl who checked me out got excited when she saw the COCOA ALMONDS I was purchasing!  And on the way home, I passed by the Motorcycle Officer who pulled me over earlier in the summer and I wanted to roll down my window and tell him “I’m the one you pulled over back in June and you REALLY blessed my day!”  You’ll have to get Dan to tell you the rest of THAT story.    

So… I decided to comfort my family today with an impromptu lunch of broiled New York Strip Steaks, Baked Potatoes, and some tasty Steamed Vegi’s from the freezer section.  As I deliver my husband’s meal to The Joy FM, I make the decision to change the name of my Hello Dolly Recipe… kind of like building a MONUMENT to mark the faithfulness and love of God.   From this day forward, I’m calling them “HELLO DARYLs” because that’s what the Savior Jesus said to my friend this week in heaven! 

This is The Message version of Psalm 121.  The “moonstroke” reference made me smile.

            “I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, AND MOUNTAINS.  He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.  NOT ON YOUR LIFE!  Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep.  God’s your Guardian, right at your side to protect you—Shielding you from sunstroke, sheltering you from MOONSTROKE.  GOD GUARDS you from every evil, he guards your very life.  He guards you when you leave and when you return, he guards you NOW, he guards you ALWAYS.”  

Friday, January 14, 2011

Like A Little Child...

Have you ever noticed how quickly a little child gets back up when he's fallen down? He can be shocked and crying...even bleeding...and when his mom or dad picks him up and brushes him off and tells him he's okay, the tears instantly dry up and he's off again... right back in the game, engaging wholeheartedly, holding nothing back. It sort of puts a new spin on the Bible passage in Luke 18 that talks about needing to be like a little child. As adults of whatever age we are, life definitely knocks us around sometimes. But the problem with us is that we let life get to us. We process that if we get back up we're gonna just get knocked down again. It's not something that happens overnight... it's more like a gradual errosion of confidence and hope.

So what's the REAL ISSUE here? TRUST!!! The difference when you picked your child up and dusted him off and told him he was "good to go" was that HE BELIEVED YOU! What a precious gift that is...believing. Children are programmed instinctively to "believe". They just start over with totally refreshed minds and reengage life from a perspective of hope. So what does that mean for us? Psalm 9:10 says "Those who know your name will trust in You, for You Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you." Can you remember being a child and learning your parents first names, and explaining to your friends that not only does your mom and dad have another name, but your mom even had a different name before she married your dad? Expounding on this knowledge made you feel like you really "knew" something special about your parents. I remember thinking about the Irish origins of my mother's maiden name, Doherty, and feeling connected to something larger than myself. Somehow, increasing your knowledge of them made them even more trustworthy and safe. I think that's what the Psalmist is implying. As we seek to know and experience more of God, we will grow to trust Him more. God's very nature is eternal, unchanging, faithful... it makes sense to trust Him with our future.

From another perspective, why do we care so much about our children? Because 1) they belong to us, 2) we helped bring them into this world, and 3) we have a stake in their future success. We have a deep connection to them. It's the same with God's attitude toward us. Psalm 100 says "It is He who made us, and we are His, the sheep of his pasture." He is there for us, watching and attentive. He picks us up when we fall down; He finds us when we get lost. He's always very near; we have only to reach out for Him. Exodus 33:14 says "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

During one of my devotionals this week, I came across the thought that "no matter how steep or treacherous the path before you, the safest place to be is by His side." I admit that it's a hard thought to accept, but in my heart I know it's true. No one cares for us like Jesus. I believe His words when he said in John 10:10 "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." Who among us doesn't want abundant life? I hope we can recapture the essence of becoming like a child and making a point of running to our heavenly Father and giving Him the opportunity to hold us in His loving arms, gently brush us off, and set us firmly back on our feet again. May we be richly blessed as we put our trust and hope in the Lord for 2011!

Jeremiah chapter 17, verses 7-8 says:

"But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.

They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.

Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit."