Archive | March 2014

Just like Judas

John 18:3 – “So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.”

I’ve been thinking about Judas lately. I have been wondering how someone who witnessed all that he did, who walked with Jesus and listened to Him speak could betray Him like he did. I have been wresting with it actually. I have been trying so hard to find something redemptive in his story but I can’t.

So as I deal with Judas’ story, I began to blame him and be frustrated with him. What was his deal? How could he do such a thing?

Then I go on vacation. Off to the beach for spring break with the family. It was fun. It was cold. It was wet.

All week my Bible set on the end table by the couch. No one touched it. Not me, not my family. No one. And we are all believers. We all have experienced Jesus in our life. I didn’t get into it once. Oh, I have a bucket of excuses why I didn’t look at it, but do you think they will mean anything when I stand before the Judgment Seat? Nope. A wasted and lost opportunity.

Just like Judas. Judas knew exactly where to find Jesus. I knew exactly where to find Jesus. Judas had the opportunity to do the right thing. I had the opportunity to do the right thing. He chose to reject Him. I chose to turn away.

So as I turn my repentant heart to the Savior and ask His forgiveness for my turning away, it is my prayer that if this post finds you on your first day of spring break or your first day of vacation, don’t squander the opportunity ahead of you. Today is a new day. A new opportunity for learning more about Him. A new time to repent and go another direction.

Revenge part 2

Matthew 5:43,44 – “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

Proverbs 25:21,22 – “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink; for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.”

This is no fun. No one likes to be nice to someone who is not nice to them. But this is precisely what God tells us to do.

I have written about Southernisms before. In fact I have written about this exact same thing before. But I feel that it is necessary to remember. We all need reminders that it is not okay to seek out revenge. That we have to sit back and let God take the lead on that one. And we all need reminders of how to handle mean and nasty people. Because until Jesus comes back for us, we are going to have to deal with these people, every day.

One of my favorite Southernisms is this: Kill them with kindness. And, judging by the above Scriptures, it is Biblical. And I like that. But here is the kicker – you can’t be nice to them to heap those coals on their heads for revenge. See, the attitude of your heart is key here. You have to keep that thing on a short leash. If you are being nice to get revenge, well, you have your reward. But if you are being nice because you know that is how Jesus would have you handle the situation, well, that makes Him happy and He is ready to reward you for your right attitude.

It is hard. I know. When someone is mean to you, you just have to learn to grind your teeth and smile. Be nice. It throws people for a loop. They know how to handle revenge and retribution, but you throw a “thank you” in the mix and their world turns upside down.

So today, princess, when you come into contact with Oscar the grouch, be nice. Don’t attempt retribution. Don’t attempt revenge. Just grit your teeth and smile and hand them a kind word. In showing them Christ’s love, you will “heal coals of fire upon his (or her) head”.

Revenge

Leviticus 19:18 – “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.”

Do you ever get ticked off at someone? I mean, do you have times when someone just gets under you skin and all you want to do it pick them off?

Revenge. Revenge is a terrible illness that is far too prevalent in our society. There are television shows based solely on the very idea of revenge. I tried watching one one time. I felt so dark inside when I watched it. The very thought of someone actually plotting to harm someone else just scares me. I don’t comprehend it.

Maybe I’m just too outspoken to plot. I stew but I don’t plot. Ask my husband. When I get mad, I clam up. And usually clean. Cleaning is my go-to release. So when my house is spotless, you know something is wrong!

Any way, you need a way to deal with anger and frustration without resorting to revenge. When we desire revenge, it clouds our thinking. We can’t see straight. We can’t handle revenge. Yet we think we can.

We are called to love.
Romans 10:19 – “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
So, put this verse together with the first verse and you have this: “don’t try to avenge yourself. You can’t handle it. Instead, love your neighbor as yourself.”
You don’t hate yourself, do you? O, you might get frustrated at yourself, but hate? Probably not. So, that being said, you may get frustrated with others, but hate? No. Hate is such a strong word. It implies death. You want to have something or someone no longer in existence. That is harsh. Think twice before you use that word. Mean what you say, sister.

So today, princess, let it go. (Are you singing yet?) Don’t let revenge have any place in your life. Choose to follow another path. Try loving your neighbor. (We will talk tomorrow on what consequences that will have.)

A thousand years from now….

John 11:11-14 – “These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleeps, he shall do well. Howbeit, Jesus spake of his death: but they thought he had spoken of taking a rest in sleep. Then Jesus said unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.”

Do you ever read God’s Word and think, man, these guys were ignorant? It is so easy for us, a thousand and some odd years later, to read about these people’s thoughts, words and actions and pass judgement upon them. I mean, for land’s sake, they just finished arguing with Jesus about going somewhere dangerous! Duh, this is God you are dealing with!

But aren’t we just as guilty? We argue with Him still. We question His instructions. We ignore His urgings. We think we have it all figured out. And then in comes the monkey wrench and we look like idiots. Oh my, if I had a nickel for every time I felt like an idiot because I just didn’t listen.

As I was reading my devotional this morning about these very verses, it made me think how glad I am that someone isn’t writing down my life for others to read in a thousand years. But what if they were? What would my story look like? Would it be a drama, a mystery or a comedy? Truthfully, I want my story to be one that people read and are encouraged by it and can learn from it. I want it to be a bit of all three genres listed above with a heavy dose of learning experience.

I want others to see me walking with Jesus. I want them to see me trusting Him. I want them to see me content with my current situation but always searching that I am in the right place at the right time. My husband always says that a person works best when they are on the right seat on the bus. That’s where I want to be.

So today princess, I want to encourage you to live your life like someone is going to read your story a thousand years from now. Do you want them to read it and say, “man, she was an idiot”? Or do you want them to read it and say, “I want to be just like her”? Sprinkle your story with a bit of mystery, drama and, please don’t forget, comedy. Dance a little, cry a little and live life with gusto.

Got to be true

Habakkuk 2:4 – “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright – but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness” (NIV)

We had a little old school Steven Curtis Chapman in the car yesterday. I love that my kids enjoy listening to “old” music.

Anyway, the song was “It’s got to be true”. Remember that one? The one with a spotlight on TobyMac? This was back when Toby was doing the DC Talk thing. It always cracks me up.

The chorus to the song is this:
It’s got to be true, I gotta be living what I say I believe
It’s got to be true, even when nobody but Jesus is watching me
It’s got to be true, every single minute of every day
If anybody’s ever gonna look at me and say, hey, it’s got to be true.

Unfortunately, there are actors in the world. And some people act for so long that they forget who they really are. They don’t know any more. It is why there will be church members in hell. They have played church for so long that they have forgotten why they are even there.

How about you? Are you being true to Jesus or are you just acting the part? Tough question, right? We don’t want to think that we are being insincere in what we are doing. But remember the verses in Matthew 7:21-23? Jesus reminds the people that just because you are doing all these wonderful things in His name, that doesn’t get you anything in eternity. What does count is when those things are done with Christ in your heart. You have got to be true. True to the fact that you have chosen Jesus as your Savior. That is the only way to Heaven. You won’t get there on good works, sweet words or spending lots of money. Salvation through Jesus Christ is the only way.

So today, princess, are you living true? Or are you living “puffed up”? Are you artificially inflated with your own “good deeds”? Or are you living flat and true? You gotta be plumb empty (to borrow a phrase from my grandma) before Jesus can fill you up. Be true. Every minute of every day.

Twelve years

Matthew 5:12 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Twelve years. It was 12 years ago today that my Daddy went home to be with Jesus. Twelve years. It is hard to believe.

My son was just 3 months old when I got the call. We had been helping my in-laws move into an apartment and left our phones at home. I try very hard never to make that mistake again. It was agonizing to my mom.

Death is a hard thing to deal with no matter when it comes. It is especially hard when it is sudden. You go from kissing your loved one on the cheek as they walk out the door to trying to figure out what happened to bring you to the funeral home.

But God’s grace is sufficient. Those first few days after Daddy passed are a fog in my mind. I just remember someone yanking my chain and telling me that I had to pick myself up for the sake of my son. We all need that tether to reality and he was ours.

But as I look back on my Dad’s life and recently on my uncle’s life, I see a common thread. Neither man was pushy about their walk with Christ. They both loved The Lord but they would rather show you Christ than corner you about Him.

They let their light shine. My Daddy would bend over backwards to help someone in need. I know right before he passed, he built a set of bunk beds for one of the people who worked for him. See, she was having to care for some children in her family and she had limited space in her home. She needed somewhere for the kids to sleep. And Daddy stepped in and built her some bunk beds. He was always doing things like that. Stepping in at the right time to help someone. Oh, he wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination but he did do one thing very well – he loved like Jesus.

So today, princess, let me encourage you to let your light shine. Love others like Jesus would. Show grace and mercy where grace and mercy are absent. Let others see your life and glorify God because of it. And for those of you who have been there and done that and still feel the ache in your heart at the sight of your loved one’s empty chair at the table, hold on. The time is drawing near when we will see them again. And best of all, we get to Jesus first and foremost!

Tag line

Romans 12:15 – “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”

It has been a long last few days. I have flown across the south and driven across the state. But it was worth it. We laid my uncle to rest this last week. His body couldn’t take it.

But let me tell you, the celebration of his graduation was awesome. Hundreds of people came out to show their support of my family. It was beautiful. My uncle had an amazing impact on people. He was the kind of man to show up at any and all times. He came to celebrate weddings, graduations and births. He came to pray during trials and tragedies. He was there to support during games and lessons. He gave of himself, his time and his love without thought.

My cousin spoke at my uncle’s funeral. He said that uncle was known for saying, “It’s just what we do.” That has stuck with me the last few days. “It’s just what we do.” We fly across the land to be with our loved one who is mourning. We spend hours in prayer for someone who is in the midst of a trial. We call or text our friend to let them know that they do not walk this path alone. We go to celebrations to encourage the celebrator to treasure the moment and learn from the experience. So many times we find ourselves doing for others. And for what reason? “It’s just what we do.”

Jesus encouraged us to love and support one another. To rejoice when other followers of Christ rejoice and to mourn when they mourn. We are on this journey together.

So today princess, show your love to someone. And don’t do it for recognition or fame. Do it because “it’s just what we do.” Uncle would be proud.