Archives for November 2014

Giving Thanks, Breaking, Giving Away

Have you ever just read a verse you’ve read before, and was finally hit by its profound truth? On this Thanksgiving week, one such verse hit me. A simple verse, really.

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying “Take and eat; this is my body.'” –Matthew 26:26.

From the first Lord’s Supper to today’s Lord’s Supper, the same sentiment is expressed in each sacrament. Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it away.

Two points jump out at me.  1) Jesus took and gave thanks. 2) Jesus broke it and gave it away.

Point one: May we give thanks for everything we are given, for every person, every circumstance in our life. May we have an attitude of gratitude. It’s hard to grumble when you’re grateful. So often I/we complain over what we don’t have instead of thanking God for the many blessings we do have. I am so guilty of this. Forgive me.

Point two: Jesus broke the bread before He gave it away. Although Jesus could, He does not use anything or anyone unless the item or person is broken. The bread was/is broken, not whole. The wine came/comes from smushed, fermented grapes. Even His own body had to be broken on the cross to save all of us from our sins. He broke Himself in order to give Himself away. May it be so of us.

Jesus does not use us unless we are broken and available to Him. The only people in the Bible Jesus couldn’t stand were those people who acted like they had it all together—the Pharisees.  We are the most whole in Christ when we admit to our brokenness.

Thanks and Brokenness. Jesus both focused on gratitude and brokenness in life and in the sacrament of communion.

Side note. I love stained glass. Do you know why I love beautiful stained glass so much? Stained glass is simply broken shards of glass arranged in a pattern. It is only when Light shines through the brokenness that we can see the beautiful image and purpose. That’s us. That’s you. That’s me.

As we prepare to celebrate our national holiday of Thanksgiving, may we use Jesus’ example to take and give thanks.  May we then give ourselves away as broken and beautiful vessels. Happy Thanks-LIVING, friend.

Reflect:

  • How will you transform Thanksgiving into Thanks-Living?
  • For what, for whom are you thankful?

Renew:

  • “Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the Lord, for He comes to judge the earth.” –Psalm 98:7-9.
  • “Enter his gates with Thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” –Psalm 100:4.

Recharge:  

  • Please start a Gratitude Journal this week and  list at least three blessings daily. It could be a warm house, your health, laughter, cozy coats and boots. Keep going. You can do it.
  • Please let me know of some of your many blessings.

Resources:

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Bath Towel Theology

A few years back, hunter green towels hung in my bathroom on display. You know the ones. The ones you don’t really use but they hang for weeks at a time. Just don’t sniff them too closely. Then you realize they need washing.

Just the other day it struck me that there is some theology behind those towels. Dark-colored towels versus white ones. Theology?!?! Yes.

White towels hang on my bathroom towel racks today. And I use them. They aren’t just for show, for display. Every stain and soil, though,  can be easily detected. It seems I wash them every couple of days. Do you think that’s why hotels only display white towels? So all stains are detected? And so they can be bleached?

Back in the day, though, when I used dark-colored towels, nasty stains could pile up on those things, and no one could tell. I sure couldn’t tell without taking a close-up whiff. I’m embarrassed to tell you that I often forgot to wash my towels except every few weeks or so, possibly even after a month. Disgusting.

These towels remind me of our hearts, our lives, with and without Jesus. The dark towels remind me of my life before accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior. My common sin stains were rarely detected. They could pile on and didn’t get cleaned very often.

“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” –Psalm 51:7

When we accept to have our hearts are transformed by the Holy Spirit, our hearts become like a white towel. We can detect our sin stains so much easier (cussing, gossiping, pride, excessive spending or drinking, bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, and so many others–none fun for me to list).  When our hearts are truly transformed by Jesus, there is no way I wanna back to my nasty sin stained-heart from the past.

May you be encouraged today that Jesus washes our hearts so sweetly with His own blood–like bleach. Our hearts are transformed into luxurious white towels. Still getting soiled with sin, but so much easier to clean over and over.

This bath towel theology may seem pretty simple. Faith in Jesus is just that simple. Just that hard. Whatever color or shape our life’s “towels” are in, remember that Jesus loves you so much. He’s the only truly stainless One.

Reflect:

–Which towel describes your life right now?

–What will you do about it? Please comment.

Renew:

–“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” –Psalm 51:10

–“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” –2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

–“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” –Hebrews 10:22 NIV

Recharge:

–What will you do differently now that your heart is “whiter than snow?”

–To demonstrate this heart cleansing to a group of senior high students, I took a bottle of water and mixed it with purple Kool aid powder. Then I added one drop of bleach to the bottle of purple Kool-aid water. In one minute then entire bottle of water was miraculously clear. Please try it. It’s pretty cool way to show easily what Jesus does to our hearts.

 

 

 

 

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The Cost of Paying Attention

Last week’s yard raking brought on a much-needed life lesson for me.

My huge oak tree, affectionately named “The General,” sheds practically every leaf each fall and winter. At the base of this tall oak tree is a small dogwood tree. In the 13 years I’ve lived in my home, both the oak and dogwood have been there, coexisting sweetly in my front yard. I appreciate the oak’s shade and its majesty. I appreciate the dogwood’s beautiful white and bloodstain-tipped blossoms in the spring, right around Easter, reminding me of the blood sacrifice Jesus made for all of us.

Back to my story. So I was raking last week, just as I have raked for 13 years. I was soaking in the beautiful autumn blue sky, gentle breeze, crisp air. I looked down and saw a bright red berry in the grass. Where could a berry have come from in my front yard? I looked up and saw the dogwood. I squinted and noticed something different. Clusters of deep, red berries amidst the changing leaves of the dogwood!  Beautiful. The sight was beautiful!  Blood red berries, as deep as the red on the bloodstain-tipped blossoms in the spring. I was awestruck.

All these years, all these autumns. I missed it…until now. I paid attention.  Grabbing my phone, I captured this photo.

How have I never noticed the autumn berries on my dogwoods before now?

How have I never noticed the autumn berries on my dogwoods before now?

Why have I never noticed?  Why have I not paid more attention?

“Pay” attention. The verb we use before the word “attention” causes me to ponder. Pay. Like paying for an item in a store. There is a cost. There is value. There is sacrifice. Yes, I desire to pay more attention.

The Bible is full of passages about “paying” attention.

Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach.” –Proverbs 22:17 NIV

As Lysa TerKeurst writes in The Best Yes, “Unrush me.”

Forgive me, Lord. Forgive the blinders of my eyes and heart. Forgive my hurried pace. Please help me pay more attention.  Help me notice You, Lord. Help me pay attention to Your majesty, from the gorgeous full moon last week to the fresh morning dew in my front lawn to the bright red berries on my autumn dogwood leaves and branches. Beauty surrounds us if we look.  Paying attention is worth the cost, Lord. I pray to experience life through Your lens and Your timing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Reflect:

–How would you rank your life’s pace? Please comment.

–What intentional act will you do to unrush yourself? How?  Please comment.

Renew: 

–“The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your GOD that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.” –Deuteronomy 28:13 NIV

–“My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight.” –Proverbs 5:1 NIV

–“You have seen many things, but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing.” –Isaiah 42:20 NIV

–“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. –Hebrews 2:1 NIV

–“And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” –2 Peter 1:19 NIV

Recharge:

–Please enjoy at least one unrushed moment with your spouse, child, loved one today.

–Savoring a few minutes of prayer and quiet devotional time in the Bible sets a more unrushed pace and peace for the day.

Resource:

–www.thebestyes.com

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