Thursday, March 13, 2014

Paula Deen, Homecoming 1993, and the love of Jesus

What do these three have in common?

What celebrities say or do can ruin their careers in an instant. Paula Deen, with her past use of the N-word. Miley Cyrus - we'll just leave it at that. Justin Beiber with pot, DUIs, etc. And so many more.

While what these people and many others did varied, the public eye is often unforgiving. It takes one quick mess-up, intentional or not, and that's what you are remembered for.

During the Paula Deen scandal, I remember feeling so bad for her. *Please know I'm not condoning her use of the word - I do not use that word, and don't want to hear anyone else using it, period.* But to see someone shamed by so many is hard to watch.

Homecoming 1993- tan, thin,
and able to wear sequins... Those
were the days...I just noticed my left
shoulder looks like it's being pulled
down, I'm guessing, by the 10-pound corsage
 that looks more like a floral decoration for a cast 
I remember saying not long ago that I am way glad I am not famous. There's a home video of my 1993 homecoming where I may or may not have flippantly used a derogatory word toward my date, one that I wouldn't even think of using now (if I even hear this particular word from a stranger now, I give a stern scowl). I didn't mean it literally at all, but I do regret saying it, big time. I feel terrible that I did. And all other reasons aside, that's one reason I will never be elected president.

*Other reasons include, but are not limited to, not knowing the difference between the Senate and the House of Representatives, not being able to locate Syria, Kuwait, and Crimea on a map (really all places outside of the US, and some inside the US, especially the square ones in the middle), and not knowing exactly how a bill becomes a law (somehow I didn't pay attention during that episode of Schoolhouse Rock).

But for me to feel like when I mess up, it is not as big of a deal as when  people who are famous do, is not okay. God said a whole bunch of times that it is not okay. One particular time is when God spoke to Joshua, as He was encouraging Joshua as the new leader of the Israelites, just after Moses' death.

In Joshua 1:7, He said, "Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant LMoses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go." 

While God was speaking directly to Joshua, I feel sure He wants us all to follow this advice. Believe me, we are not perfect. We are going to mess up. It is likely we are going to turn a little to the right one day, and maybe a little to the left another. But it's not okay to use that as an excuse to do whatever we feel like doing. Our goal is to stay on track. While our salvation is not because of how we act, if we really love God, we want to live in a way that pleases Him.

And while the whole world isn't keeping tabs on us through the internet or Entertainment Tonight, we each have our own set of people keeping an eye on us, even when we don't realize it. People in our separate corners of the world who are looking to see if the love of Jesus is really in us, and if that makes us different from anyone else. And it should. It might not make us perfect, but it does make us different. The love of Jesus showing in our lives makes all the difference. 

Whether it's our Facebook postings, how we interact with our family, or the attitude we have at work or church - let's make it our purpose to show that love, whether we think anyone is watching or not. Because they are, and even if they aren't, Jesus is, and what could be better than for Him to watch us and be proud of us?

For your amusement, and my education, here is a little something to watch :)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

You only had one job...

You only had one job to do...

you only had one job to do ..

...You only had one job...

You only had one job!

Houston, we have a problem

These Pinterest pictures crack me up! Given one job, how can someone mess it up so badly? But the pictures also hit home a little. I have a tendency to mess things up. I've noticed over the years that I lack some common sense, but thankfully married a guy who is full of it (Common sense, I mean, haha). 

In the past when I have messed things up, I've felt embarrassed, frustrated, and more sure that I can't get things right. But everyone makes mistakes, even the woman God trusted to raise Jesus, and if that doesn't make me feel better, what can? 

In Luke 2, Jesus is 12, the same age as my Noah. The relatives and friends of Jesus' family are all on their way home from Jerusalem after the Passover Feast. Comfortable that Jesus is safely nearby, Mary and Joseph travel for an entire day before they come to the conclusion that He is nowhere to be found.

Just pause here for a minute and imagine the panic. Yikes! Once I lost my mother-in-law's cat, and I cried my eyes out and nearly threw up. She lost Jesus!! Can you even imagine? No cell phones, no Amber Alerts, mind you. Just searching for him...

Thankfully, Jesus was found, teaching in the temple three days later. In verse 47, it says, "Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers." At 12 years old. Wow. Then on to verse 48, "When his parents saw him, they were astonished." I don't know if this astonished is the same as everyone's amazement in verse 47. I like to think so. But the Message translation says "But his parents were not impressed; they were upset and hurt." And finishing out verse 48, Mary begins to scold him a bit.

Naturally, she had been freaking out. Jesus was gone for days, and finally found. I can't even imagine the emotions she must have been feeling.

But I do know that after she simmered down, she saw the beauty of that moment, watching this child - whom she no-doubt had rocked to sleep, sang songs to, and gave soft kisses on his cheek as he drifted off to sleep - this child... now growing and maturing, teaching and leading. She was seeing more of the whole picture, and knew for a moment that she needed to take a mental snapshot of what had just happened. Verse 51 said, "But his mother treasured all these things in her heart."

By the way, I wish I could have known Mary. I think we could have been the best of friends.

There are so many times I mess up, and consequently want to give up. Do you ever feel like one mistake, one wrong, one sin, can ruin everything? We screw up, and can't imagine God can still love us. We can't imagine people can have faith in us again. We can't imagine we can be forgiven.

But we can.

God doesn't want us running from Him when we blow it. He wants us to keep going. He is there to love us through it, help us learn from it, but He will not give up on us. He loves us too much to do that.

Mary didn't give up. Mary treasured the good from that moment, and kept going. She continued to raise Jesus, loving Him, and pouring everything she had into the plan God had for her life.

And that is what we are to do. Don't quit. Don't give up. Acknowledge your mistake, ask God for forgiveness and help, and keep on going. We don't want to miss out on a second of what He has planned for us.

Onward and upward, dear friends.

"Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 3:13,14

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hungry, tired, and thirsty in the desert

Other than Jesus, David is probably one of the most famous people from the Bible. We heard about him as little kids, watching how brave he was to be the good-looking, littlest brother of the family, going up against a giant with 5 small stones and a whole bunch of faith in his big God.

We read some of his psalms, heard about him chosen by God as king, also about some sin along the way, including adultery and murder. We even heard God call him a man after His own heart! How cool would that be to hear?

There was also a time in his life when David was being hunted down by his own son who wanted to kill him. In 2 Samuel, chapter 17, David is being chased by Absalom, and thankfully, God intervenes and David and his people are able to escape. Absalom hears they are headed one direction, but friends of David tell them to go another way, so David and his people head to Mahanaim. 

Here is where I want us to focus. As they get to this town, three guys there start bringing them things - bedding, bowls, pottery, wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils, honey, curds, sheep and cheese, "... For they said, 'The people have become hungry and tired and thirsty in the desert,’" (verse 29).

How many times do we notice someone who is hungry, tired and thirsty in the desert? Maybe they aren't literally running for their lives, but just worn out? Could be a friend in a ministry that is just exhausted from the expectations and disappointments. Maybe a friend who is literally worn-out from an illness.  Or a mom who is frazzled from trying to please everyone all the time.

You can probably think of someone now. Someone who lately just doesn’t seem themselves and could use some encouragement.

There are times when I notice someone seems discouraged, depressed or defeated. And if I notice, I for sure will have intentions of helping, but sometimes that's as far as it goes. And that's not okay. My good intentions mean nothing if I don’t put some action behind it.

David had people seeing his need and meeting it, simply because they noticed, they cared, and they followed through. I want to be like these guys. I’ve had people be like these guys to me.

I have received flowers from some dear friends when the thrill of pregnancy turned into the disappointment and grief of a miscarriage. And other sweet friends who have experienced the same heartbreak let me talk to them for hours about how I was feeling during that time.

During the death of my father-in-law, a friend offered to watch Noah, who was a toddler at the time, during the funeral.

Other friends have sent encouraging notes just when I need them.

I have friends, even now, who I know are feeling like David. They are hungry, tired, and thirsty in their deserts, and I’m sure you do too. It’s our job to make sure we can give them what they need. Think of your person today, and what you can do to help.

If you have any ideas of what we can do to be an encouragement to someone, please share! Maybe it will make those of us with good intentions put them into action. :)