No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. – … Continue reading
She was new to our group. A woman you could judge from the outside had not yet mastered the “church look” and our study group quickly realized had also not been trained in the “church talk.” We went around the table that morning sharing what God was doing in our lives as the result of the Bible study we were taking. Distracted minds or tired bodies seemed to lend to a sort of reluctance to speak up and share but our new friend came rearing to speak up. She shared how God had redeemed her life from drugs and addiction. She shared how she was trying hard to learn how to “fit in” at church and not speak out of turn or inappropriately. She had so much excitement she could hardly manage to stay in her chair as she bounced with her new found joy. She broke the ice and then our weekly attenders began to share. We talked about our tendency to judge others. We talked about our feelings of inadequacy as moms and the responsibility of raising kids. We discussed our difficulty in holding our tongues and loving others outside of our comfort zone.
You could sense her reluctance but the same energy that propelled her testimony seemed to spill out whilst introduced with an apology. “I know you ladies don’t know me very well but I just have to ask something……Why are you all so hard on yourselves?” Continue reading
Mealtime with the family has always been a highlight for me. Not necessarily the eating of food although I like it, but the fellowship taking place around the table is what I love. It’s an opportunity to hear what is going on in each other’s lives, talk about topics of interest, ask questions, laugh, discuss serious matters, but more than anything, it is a time to be together.
Reflecting on the final week of Jesus’ earthly life, I am reminded of the last meal that He partook of with His disciples. John 13 gives us a great picture of what took place around the table that night. Take a few minutes to read it.
Jesus knew that His hour had come and He would depart from this world to go be with His Father. Yet He loved those men that He had done life with for three years up close and personal. John records, “having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” Amazing!
Why is that so amazing? Remember who was in the room? If you guessed the disciples, you are right. But among the disciples were Judas (the one who would betray Him), Peter (the one who would deny Him) and the rest of the disciples (all would desert Jesus before the night was over). Wow! Imagine walking into the room being the only one who knew what was going to happen to you in the next few hours.
How would you have responded? My first inclination would have been, “no way am I going to eat with those guys, they are not true friends.” And yet Jesus’ response was to love them to the end.
Verse 3 offers a little insight “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God, and was going back to God,” Obviously Jesus could love freely because He knew where He had come from and where He was going. He was confident in His Sonship with the Father.
What about you? Are you confident in your relationship with Christ? Do you know how much He loves you? If life ended for you today, do you know where you would spend eternity? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:6) There is only one way to know our eternal destiny and that is through a personal relationship with Jesus.
During the middle of supper, Jesus got up, left the table, poured water in a bowl and began to wash the disciples feet. What a servant! I’m thinking if I knew what was ahead of me that evening I would have been curled up in a ball scared to death. Not Jesus! He spent time showing those He loved how much He loved them by serving them. Convicting indeed.
Jesus was always thinking of others. On this particular night, the night before His death, He was teaching them a great lesson in servant hood. Here are a few lessons I learned from His example:
- Sometimes we have to get up and leave the comfort of the table in order to serve. When was the last time you got out of your comfort zone to serve?
- Jesus washed their dirty feet! Ministering to others is not always nice and clean. Sometimes God asks us to do things that require getting dirty.
- Our friends might sometimes betray, desert, or leave us for a time; but that should not keep us from loving and serving them.
As we reflect on the death and burial of Jesus this week, ask Him to show you someone to whom you might express love through serving.
Yes I am one of “those” moms. The kind that have their kids passwords to social websites and check frequently to ensure that content is appropriate. But the other night on one of my checks I saw a message to my daughter that I didn’t expect. “I wish I had made a better first impression with your mom and that she liked me as much as she likes your other friend.” For the first time I felt a bit guilty that I had seen this private message.
For the last year, we have carpooled a young girl, after she received Christ. nearly every Sunday and Wednesday. And it was this ride home on Wednesday night that gave me the opportunity to talk to her about her Facebook message. I had prayed throughout the day about the conversation and felt lead by the Holy Spirit to share very specific things with her.
Here are a few things I shared. First she didn’t make a bad first impression. In fact, of all of my daughter’s friends, their friendship in many ways is the easiest. But easy relationships are not the only ones we should have. We shouldn’t shy away from those people that challenge us. That will confront us. That will push us even when it is uncomfortable. I explained that I didn’t have a favorite but that I recognized different girls had different strengths and that I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about what I saw as her strengths.
I wasn’t even slightly embellishing when I expressed I thought she may very well have the greatest impact in bringing people to church and Christ than any young girl I have ever met. She is one of those girls that people tell their secrets to. The kind that makes you feel so accepted that you don’t question being judged. Even in this last year she had asked me for help in talking to a few friends that had shared with her they were starting to experiment with drugs, and another that had told her he was planning to take his life.
I also knew that every time they are compelled to invite friends to church she doesn’t just invite a close friend that goes to another church…. she invites everyone. She invites every kid that dresses differently, has different family dynamics, different socioeconomic status, everyone! Every friend in her contacts list gets texted invitations and not just one. This girl is a future social media-marketing executive. She really goes aggressive. Her strength is LOVE.
But she isn’t strong in all areas, and coming home to a family that doesn’t support your walk with Christ makes it difficult for her to navigate a path to growth in Christ. That is where I expressed the “other friend” is strong. She is committed to Christ. She is committed to daily Bible reading and is in church every time the doors are open. She is structured and disciplined and really a “model” young person in many ways…. and yes I want my daughter to continue investing in that friendship as well.
I explained this to her. I talked to her about her calling and gift to reach out to students that were in really difficult situations. I shared a story to help her understand.
A few summers ago we were at a hotel that had a slide that emptied into the deeper end of the pool. Although Kendall could hold her own she over estimated her strength when she beckoned her little 2-year-old brother to come down the slide into her arms. “I can catch you she said.” Within seconds it was necessary for my husband to jump in and save them both. You see, she wasn’t strong enough to handle the weight of another person. I shared that if God was going to use her to reach some of the most difficult and broken young people in her school she would need to be strong enough to not be pulled under when they relied on her strength.
I shared that I prayed for a day when those in their school that love God would help each other in their areas of weakness. A day where the girl who found it easy to love would encourage those who quickly judge to love others outside of their circle. A day when those who had passion for God would share their habits and offer encouragement and accountability. (I know….idealism runs deeply through my veins but I am convinced I get it from my Abba Father.) OK, I know this is long and in that way is true to our conversation but I will wrap up my blow by blow story by mirroring what I did with her that evening…..a summation and prayer.
I was so thankful that the Holy Spirit directed the conversation and allowed me to know that she wasn’t feeling valued because she wasn’t the “perfect Christian girl with the perfect Christian family.” That feeling “safe” as a mom was not more important than being used to reach others. Trust me I am tempted to envy those who have kids who seem content to stay in a tight little boundary, and only invite others in that reflect their same highest standards and requirements. I have come to realize that is not my lot. My kids are going to reach out far beyond that box. And in so doing, they keep me on my knees. I am thankful that their hearts reflect Christ by reaching those who need Him. Because He came to seek and save the lost, not stroke the egos of those who claimed righteousness. So I guess when I have prayed to make my kids more like Christ, I shouldn’t be surprised that it will stretch me, put me on my knees, and look different from the safe picture I have been far too willing to paint.
Lord, thank You for continuing to reveal Yourself to me. For moving in my children. For stretching me. For being my faithful partner on this journey of parenting. Oh how I love You!