Monday, December 23, 2019

Come to Jesus



Come to me all you who are weary and burdened

and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Just moments ago I read a message about the things God could have asked of us in order to secure our salvation.  It made me laugh because of course, the point was that grace is a gift. Grace is not something to be earned, thankfully, because none of us is capable of earning it.  It also made me laugh because of some experiences my husband and I have had at different churches.

          In our search for a church home we visited a few places. One stands out as we attended there for several months. We were considering becoming members even though we weren’t quite sure it was the place for us.  Very quickly we would find out that it was not, nope, not at all. We met with the pastor and he outlined the things we would need to do to “qualify” for membership.  There were several items on the list one of which was to be “rebaptized.” Excuse me? Apparently the baptism that my husband and I received wasn’t “good enough.” Given the many ways I’ve seen the Lord work in my husband, in me and in us as a couple, I know that I am his child. God has already accepted me, adopted me. I’m good enough for God but not for this particular church.

          Reading that message this morning I was reminded of that and of conversations with other believers who have left churches for similar reasons. Those churches have standards and some of us just don’t meet them.

          God, who could, as the message I read made very clear, ask anything of us before allowing us into his family, asks only one thing. He asks us to receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior. He asks us to accept a gift! There are no hoops, no strings, no dotted lines on which to sign. There is simply grace.

          Our pastor is fond of saying, “All means all, y’all.” (Yes, we live in the South.) He says it over and over because we need to hear it over and over. Yes, Jesus loves me and that person over there who makes me crazy. All means all and all are invited in by GRACE.  Father, Son and Holy Spirit require less of us than most churches.  As a pastor I once knew used to say, “Now that’s good news!”

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Losing My Head


 

 

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

 


The little lady in the picture is the true representative of what too many of us feel at Christmas time. Every single year for the past four or five years, she has lost her head. (I was going to include the picture of the headless body but that felt a little gruesome.)
Each year when I set up her beautiful town house she somehow falls or jumps to the floor, causing the loss of her head. She has friends on her little perch, a young boy and another woman. Neither of them has ever lost a head or any other body part. They remain serenely on the house while poor Sally crashes to the floor.

          I call her Sally because it goes with stress and she reminds me of stress. Sally Stressed is freaking out over all that needs to be done while Susie and Sammy Serene serenade the neighborhood. 

          Can you relate to Sally? I personally think she is the epitome, the poster child, of secular Christmas.  She should be happily caroling but as she tries to sing she’s thinking of the cookies, the presents, the out of town relatives impending visit and the teacher gifts.

          Rather than taking a few minutes each day to think about, read about or pray about the event that took place in Bethlehem, Sally is focused on the externals, the must haves and have tos. Sally has a huge family.  She is very involved at her job and her church. Her plate is full and rather than let a few things go, she runs and runs until she’s dizzy and exhausted and then….. Her head pops off! Sally is a Martha.

          If she had taken a few minutes in each of those busy days to sit with Jesus, to think about what his birth means in her life, she just might have avoided the repair bench in my hubby’s office. Which is the inanimate objects version of the doctor, the psychologist, the wine aisle or the pharmacy.

          Christmas is coming.  The anniversary of the birth of Jesus will occur and be celebrated whether we are ready or not. Too many of us will run around like Sally and become Fill in Your Name Stressed.  How many of us will have prepared our hearts so that we can keep our heads?

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Make Room


 

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her first born, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. Luke 2:6-7

 

No room available.  In reading an Advent devotional I came across this phrase, “Yet when the Son of God came into the world, there was no room for him.” Did you just gasp? I did.  My gasp was not based on events from thousands of years ago but on the state of the world today.  I think it is because of the way the sentence is written, “When the Son of God” (a name/title important enough to be capitalized) “came into the world” (a place in desperate need of help) “there was no room for him.” 

          No room for Jesus? Why? Who or what could be more important than Jesus? In defense of the inn keeper of Bethlehem, he didn’t know who he was turning away. Can we say the same? No, no we cannot.

          Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “I love Jesus. I make room for him.” Me too! Right up until I don’t…. In all things, all things, Jesus should come first. The crazy part is that some of the very things that supplant Jesus’ place in our lives can also be things he is calling us to do.  A prompt to spend some time in prayer or reading Scripture is pushed aside because we want to call a friend. No room… A prompt to call that same friend is pushed aside because I don’t feel like talking to her and I’d rather just watch TV/check social media/anything else. No room…..

          We read the story of the birth of Jesus and we think “Oh if that inn keeper had only known who was at his door!” Then Jesus knocks on our door. We know full well that it is him but we pretend we’re not home.

          We’re not bold or honest enough to say, “No room here. Sorry.”  We say, “Oh I just didn’t have time!”  “I was going to but something came up.” Translated, when the Son of God knocked on our door we said, “There’s no room here.”

          Make room! More and more lately I have stopped to make room, to choose the better over the lesser and to swing open my door.  It is so worth it! There is nothing that can compare to spending time with Jesus. Nothing! It’s also pretty amazing because when I set that time aside, when I open the door, when I say, “Of course I have room for you!” Jesus answers by filling me with joy, peace and energy. That task I was dreading is not so bad. That scary event goes off just fine. Sometimes I even feel like I have more time not less.

          I’ll say it once more… MAKE ROOM! (Yes, I understand that all capitals means I’m shouting.) You will never regret opening the door to Jesus.