16 April, 2017

Monday's Choice

Cross posted from Fortyfaithful.blogspot.com

The big day has come and gone.  Baby chicks, Easter eggs, chocolate, and the Easter festivities have once again passed.  It's on to graduations, vacations and summer days.  The 40 days of Lent are over and Easter is over, isn't it?  Are you different this Monday after Easter Sunday?

This next thought may shock some of you but I've often speculated that the formal church is too focused on the cross of Christ. That's a disturbing sentence, I know, but hear me out!  In our Christian culture, we are taught early in life about Jesus and his work on the cross.  His beautiful and complete grace that covers our sin and selfishness and gives those who believe in Him eternal life.  That is a Truth; for without His death we would be without hope, without life.  However...

...is that where many of us stop?  Do we stop our lives at Jesus' death on the cross?  Oh, we celebrate Easter Sunday in our finery and with our families but can we say we're living Easter on Monday?

Could it be that we are living only half of the Good News?  We call Friday of Holy week...Good Friday as it was good for us that Jesus gave His life so that we may live today and forever.  But I contend that we are stuck on Good Friday.  We are stuck in the pain and anguish of our own lives.  We know what happened on Easter Sunday in Jesus' life but for some reason we have chosen to remain in a 'Friday' lifestyle.  WHAT?

As Christ followers, we are invited to have our own Good Friday where our problems and our pain are put to death.  And, then experience an Easter Sunday in which we receive new life!  But we tend to stay in Friday and our pain from this world consumes our entire attention span.  And life does hurt.  It's hurts so badly to be rejected.  It hurts so badly to lose people to death, particularly death that is violent and random.  It hurts to see sickness and addiction in those we love.  It hurts to have no one to love or to be loved by no one.  It hurts to be lonely and isolated.  We have forgotten what Sunday offers us and our pain!
...they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen! Luke 24:2-6
He is not here!  He has risen.  That is the message the Bible teaches and that is the life we are offered...a way of real life and Joy in our Monday world.  Jesus' message was certainly one of redemption and salvation and life eternal.  AND, it was also a message of Joy, of overcoming, of living life to the fullest in the midst of earthly pain.  We say we love Him and believe in this message but are we living it?  Are we looking for the dead among the living?  Do I keep looking at my dead pain instead of looking at my alive Joy?  Easter is the day to celebrate that He has overcome our pain and loss.  And, Easter is also the day to wake up and live life to the fullest. Yes, there is pain in our world but He has overcome this pain.

This is the Monday choice.  No one can do this for me.  I can stay tied up in my Good Friday pain, hurt, disappointments and insecurity.  Or I can choose a new way....a way of living life to the fullest.  Choosing an Easter Monday does not mean that I forget my pain; it simply means I choose Jesus over my pain.  I choose to let Him use that pain so that I may help others.  I choose to let Him use that pain to grow me into who He dreamed.

Hallelujah, He is not among the dead.  He is alive!  Are we brave enough to let go of our 'identity of pain' and choose the Joy He offers.  He HAS overcome the world.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

09 April, 2017

Today, I am Hungry - 6th Sunday in Lent

Cross posted from Fortyfaithful.blogspot.com
Kale, Left-over fried chicken, coconut and Greek olives...you have 30 minutes to turn this into a wonderful entree for our judges.  Time starts NOW.  This is the Chopped kitchen which airs on the Food Network.  I'm obsessed with this show.  I love to cook and I look to eat and I love watching the chefs try and make something delicious out of ridiculous ingredients.

There are dozens of cooking shows on TV that teach us about new techniques and new foods as though we've become bored with our everyday food.  We don't just want daily food anymore, we want new food, something different, less calories/fat/sugar, etc.  Yes, more please.  Food is not just a daily necessity for us; it has become a hobby.  It's a planned event and for some it's a beautiful memory of home, family and a time of connection.  But today, I don't want to go down memory lane (I could...easily...because no one cooked like my mama and I miss her and her kitchen).  

But today, my thoughts lead me down a less traveled path. 

Give us this day our daily bread (Matthew 6:11)....
And this further Word,

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6:25-26)

I find it interesting that these two verses are found in the same chapter of the Bible.  They are found in Jesus' teaching after being asked the question, 'teach us to pray'.  He answers this one question with a long teaching session that covers many life issues.  But what we are focused on today is unique to me. I'm focused on these three phrases...Give us this day our daily bread...is not life more than food...look at the birds they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and YET your heavenly Father feeds them.

Have we forgotten this simple message?  Are we so obsessed with new, different and more? Do we really believe He can and will care for us as he does the birds?  Honestly, I'm a little more comfortable knowing I have money in the bank for food tomorrow and a savings account just in case my world turns upside down.  And as Scott mentioned, perhaps we've begun to believe that we are the ones providing ourselves with our food.  It's our hard work, our accomplishments and our paychecks that provide today and tomorrow's food for our tables.  
So who am I relying on?  It feels like the answer is 'me'.  And oh, how I hate that thought.  Please Lord, give us what we need not what we want.  Isn't that what 'daily bread' means?  In our fear and insecurity, do we strive for more and more....just in case tomorrow is a disaster?  I know me.  I know I am not enough and never will be enough.  However, my soul knows the truth...there is only one Gardener who provides and through the words 'daily bread' he's teaching us to trust only in Him for today's food, shelter and life.

I contend that as much food as we have in the world, many of us are still hungry and I don't mean those who are in the world and truly starving.  I mean those of us comfortable in our homes with full refrigerators and full everything else.

Proverbs offered an interesting word to me recently.  It reads like this:
“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
    do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
    give me neither poverty nor riches,
    but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’" Proverbs 30:7-9a

So, could 'Give us this day our daily bread', truly mean:  Lord, give me only what I need in this day otherwise, I may have too much and disown you...Otherwise, I may have too much and say 'Who is the Lord'?

In our North American wealth, has this happened to us?  Has this happened in you?  And yes, has this happened in me?  When I pray, give us this day our daily bread, I pray it is only enough to sustain me for fear that my selfishness will lead me to forget who HE is....my only provider, my only life source, my one and only, Bread of Life.

one day
one bird
one basket
one fish
one loaf
one prayer
one Lord
one pilgrim
one journey

more than enough
more than I can imagine
more than I expected
more than I can fathom
more than I hoped
more than others
more than most
more in one day

I need
I admit
I submit
I acknowledge
I thirst
I hunger 

Just today: I come, I bow, I ask, I eat, I'm filled
Tomorrow will care for itself
One bird, one life, one day

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