I’m Tellin’ Mom

I hear this way too much: “I’m tellin’ mom.”

There’s a structural error with the layout of my house, because sound waves travel directly from the playroom to my office door, but only when there’s a problem. Angry ruckus sound waves travel down the staircase, and inevitably I hear one of my children yell, “I’m tellin’ mom!”

Now on most occasions, this only serves to frustrate me because I know what’s about to happen next, but today when I heard those words I thought, Wow. My children hold me in high esteem. Apparently it’s a big deal to tell mom.

When Nehemiah and his band of workers were getting bullied, they told on the bullies directly to God. “Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads” (Nehemiah 4:4). When you have troubles in your relationships, to whom do you tattle? Your spouse, or a friend? Facebook? Go directly to the authority figure of the world, Almighty God, and tell Him the problem. Let Him intervene. He can handle it better than you can, or anyone else your tempted to tell. It’s a big deal to tell God. Our Father knows how to protect His children.

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The Cost of Following Jesus (part 3 of 3)

“Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, ‘Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.’ And Jesus said to Him, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’ Then another of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ but Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
(Matthew 9:19-22 NKJV)

Next, Jesus answers a disciple who wants to delay his commitment until he can bury his father. We don’t know from Scripture if the man’s father had just passed away, or if the man intended to care for his father’s needs until his death. Jesus’ answer is not a harsh mandate to abandon your family. Instead, Christ looks into the disciple’s motives and sees an unwillingness to surrender all to Him. When we tell God when we are going to begin serving Him, we are failing to relinquish control and also failing to realize that God is in complete control of every circumstance of our lives already!

Have you allowed a relationship or a circumstance to limit your surrender to serving Christ? Have you told God, “As soon as (blank) happens, I will (blank)”? As soon as I get my kids in school, as soon as I get these bills paid off, as soon as the summer is over, as soon as … you fill in the blank. God is a jealous God, and He tolerates no god, no problem, no circumstance, and no person to come before Him in our priorities.

I have often said, “If you’re comin’, come on.” Jesus says, If you want to serve Me, come on!

The Cost of Following Jesus (part 2 of 3)

“Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, ‘Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.’ And Jesus said to Him, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’ Then another of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ but Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
(Matthew 9:19-22 NKJV)

Jesus calls each one of us to be His follower. He carries us higher and higher to new stages of ministry, to venture into new territory in service to Him. Listen to Jesus count the cost of following Him.

First, there is no promise of financial gain. Jesus’ message is plain—do not seek or expect personal gain, whether it be money or prestige, or even “a place to lay your head,” from ministry in the name of the Lord. You will reap your rewards in Heaven (Col. 3:24), and we praise God for His trustworthiness in this great promise. Jesus said in Luke 10:7 that a minister is worth his gain, but the Scripture gives no assurance that Christian service will reap financial reward or even compensation. (Remember, Paul was also a tentmaker.) We know that God takes care of His children’s needs (Matthew 6:26-29), but that provision may not come directly from ministry performed.

Likewise, serving Jesus is not exactly glamorous in most cases. Jesus set the example by washing His disciples’ feet. Serve the Lord with a humble heart, knowing that God is pleased with a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4).

The Cost of Following Jesus (part 1 of 3)

“Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, ‘Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.’ And Jesus said to Him, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’ Then another of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ but Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
(Matthew 9:19-22 NKJV)

As a child, I always wanted to be a country-western singer. I never cared that much for the music, but I can still remember how I admired stars like Barbara and Dolly shining like stars up on stage. They would sway to the music, and their rhinestone jackets would glisten in the spotlights while the tassels on their sleeves would keep time with the music. And who wasn’t mesmerized by those gorgeous high-heeled cowboy boots and the suede hat that fit so beautifully atop big waves of hair daring not to move under the influence of a full can of hairspray. What a life of glamour! I never made it to the Grand ‘Ol Oprey, but you may catch me occasionally wearing a rhinestone jacket.

Appearances can be deceiving. Many jobs seem glamorous when we watch others do them, but we find out once we begin the work ourselves that the task is not so glamorous after all. Jesus wasn’t wearing fancy clothes, and he was never on stage in the spotlight, but He was admired by many and inspired them to want to serve Him. Jesus gladly welcomes loyal followers, but He is very upfront—serving Jesus was never intended to be glamorous.

More Tomato Plant Failure

If you’ve read my recent blogs, you know that I had a tomato plant get devoured by a deer. That poor plant never stood a chance, but the other plant survived the deer attack. I’ve been waiting all summer for that green stalk to give me a tomato. Now that we’ve arrived at late August, I’m going to accept the reality that it’s not going to happen.

I know what happened. I watered the plant and fed it, too, but I was doomed from the beginning because I potted the plant in a container that was too small. The plant had no room to spread out its roots and grow to its full capacity. I stunted its growth, and the result was no fruit.

Many Christians bear little to no fruit. Why is that? Perhaps for some, its simply that they insist on staying put on their small square, unwilling to grow, unwilling to venture out into God’s big world to serve God however and whenever and wherever He directs.

Are you hiding in a tiny pot? God’s got big plans for you! Let Him transplant you wherever He pleases, knowing that He’ll place you in the optimal place to bloom, grow, and bear much fruit.

“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” (John 15:16)

 

 

Fresh Crayons

You know the busiest aisle in the store this time of year: it’s the school supply aisle. Rows of notebooks, stacks of loose leaf paper, and piles of glue sticks beg to jump into my shopping cart, and I’ve got three children that are convinced we need two, perhaps even three of everything. I’m pretty cheap, so I checked our desk drawers before we went to the store, and I knew what we already had. No, I’m not buying everyone a new pair of scissors, and I’m not buying pencil pouches, so don’t even ask; the slightly used pouches from last year will do just fine, thank you very much. But crayons…crayons are a different story. We’ve got mounds of crayons in my house probably dating back to 2007 when my oldest child started kindergarten, but I can’t resist, I’m going to buy a new box. I love fresh crayons.

There’s something special about opening up a fresh box of crayons and enjoying the experience of coloring with that waxy stick with it’s perfectly rounded point. New crayons are symbolic of new beginnings, anticipation, and the hope of things to come.

Every once in awhile, we all need a new pack of crayons. And I mean spiritually. Sometimes we need to experience something new, something that feels like a fresh start with God. It might be a new Bible, or a new prayer partner, or maybe even a new ministry opportunity, whatever God would give us to awaken our senses and bring a sense of anticipation.

God makes all things new. Go ahead, ask Him for a fresh pack of crayons and start coloring your world.

Going After the One

How far should we go and how much trouble or expense should we go to in order to reach one person?

Acts 8:4-8 describes how Philip was successfully ministering in Samaria. The whole city was overjoyed, and Philip’s ministry was thriving. But now the Lord was telling Philip to leave Samaria to witness to one man alone, the Ethiopian Eunuch.

Philip obeyed, like the Good Shepherd who leaves the 99 to go after the one. Are you willing to leave the comfortable and successful to go where God sends you?

Speak the Truth

Since Jesus is the Truth and everything about Him is wrapped in truth, all those who oppose Christ have to use untruths to try to dispute Christ. If we are going to effectively communicate with others about Jesus Christ, we must take care to always speak the truth with the power and wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit.

Musings from the Amusement Park (part 3)

An amusement park is a buffet for each of the five senses.

Smells: turkey legs, popcorn, hot dogs, very recycled water ride water, perspiration

Sounds: children laughing hysterically, children whining hysterically, squealing from the loop-to-loops in the sky, teenagers with nametags at every corner trying to coax you into playing a $10 game to win a $3 prize

Sights: flashing lights, interesting wardrobe selections, lots of metal with tons of bolts to inspect while you’re standing in line to ride that roller coaster

Tastes: salty, slurpy, crunchy, shockingly fattening

Feel: stomach lurching, belly laughs, adrenalin, total exhaustion

The whole amusement park experience was sensation overload, but here’s my take-away: everywhere I looked I saw lost people. Some young, some old. Some having a hilarious time, others who are practically screaming for help through the way they carry themselves. People are walking around with hollow hearts, looking for hope.

As you go about your day today, even if you’re home watching TV, look carefully at the people before your eyes. What do you see? How will you respond?

 

 

Musings from the Amusement Park (part 2)

As I continue sharing the wisdom I gained from my amusement park adventure, I want to give two big thumbs up to something that I hope every parent and grandparent will be able to do: spend at least one day alone with one of your children.

With child #1 and child #2 at church camp, this provided a perfect opportunity for John Mark and I to be alone together. What a joy to hear just one little voice talking to me at a time, and I’m sure he appreciated that he didn’t have to take turns for my attention. We laughed over little inside jokes we created along the way, and we had great conversations about school, family, and his thoughts and questions about God. Sometimes we just enjoyed being quiet together. From sun up to sun down, I was able to give my full attention to my son, and every moment was like discovering a treasure.

I used to internally roll my eyes at people who would look at my babies in their strollers and say, “They grow up so fast!” Now I’m the one saying it, but what I really want to do is look deeply into the eyes of every mother and say, “Enjoy your children while you can!” In my house, little pitter-patters have turned into growing, clunky, hormone-induced smelly feet, and I hear those footsteps walking out the door into a great big world.

Children are a gift from the Lord. They are special little people with thoughts, questions, and a need for love and acceptance. They also make perfect companions at an amusement park.