Monday, July 25, 2011

All's Grace

Two weeks ago, someone gave me the book, "One Thousand Gifts," by Ann Voskamp.
I dove into it.
Not realizing the "dare" it would contain that's already changing my life.

She talks about "thanks."
Not a favorite word.  I have to admit.  A word I've shunned lately.

Why be thankful when there seems to be nothing to be thankful for?
Why are we told to give thanks when the thing we're to be grateful for is the last thing on our list we want?

She argues that a list of the unwanted is the wrong list.
And can actually be transformed to a far different kind.

A list of gifts.

To live fully right where we are, a bitter heart must be exchanged for a thankful heart.

So she makes a suggestion.

List 1,000 things you're thankful for.

John 3:27 is hung at her kitchen window:  "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven."

We need open hands to receive His gifts.

Two nights ago, Ann Voskamp was the keynote speaker at the "She Speaks Conference."

She asked a probing question and made a statement I've not been able to shake off:
"Who can be bitter when giving thanks?"
"Fear is the notion that God's love ends, that it's going to run out, and He is finite.  But if His goodness ended, God would cease to exist."

So I've started my list of "1,000 Gifts."

For those of you who I met at "She Speaks," I was thinking of you when jotting these down:

#7 ~ Other believers in Christ in all walks of life
#8 ~ The love of Christ between us even when we hardly know anything else about each other
#9 ~ A smile from someone else
#10 ~ The chance to smile back
#11 ~ The medicine of laughter
#12 ~ People to laugh with

Have you started your list?

As Ann Voskamp wrote in my book . . . "All's Grace."  

(Photo by Kirsten Wilson.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Prayer for the Coming Week

Father, I know that all my life is portioned out for me.
The changes that are sure to come, I do not fear to see.
I ask thee for a present mind, intent on pleasing thee.

I would not have the restless will that hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do, or secret thing to know.
I would be treated as a child, and guided where I go.

I ask thee for the daily strength, to none that ask denied,
A mind to blend with outward life, while keeping at thy side.
Content to fill a little space, if thou be glorified.

In service which thy will appoints there are no bonds for me;
My secret heart is taught the truth that makes thy children free;
A life of self-renouncing love is one of liberty.

~ Anna L. Waring

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Love Works

Six days before the Passover (the day of His death), Jesus went to the village of those who loved Him most. 
It was His last Sabbath; the first day of His last week on this earth.
And He chose to spend it with those He loved.

Simon, the Leper (whom Jesus had healed) held a supper for Him there in His honor. 
Simon knew the threat that hung over Jesus’ head. 
He knew the command of the religious leaders that if anyone knew where He was, they were to report it. 
He knew the danger of numbering Himself with Jesus. 

But he expressed his love for Jesus anyway.
By honoring Him publicly. . .and boldly.

True to form, Martha served. 
But the words “Martha served” were a fitting addition to the description of this entire scene. 

She was serving the Lord for the two most important reasons:
Love for Christ.
And to Honor HIM.

Martha was loving Him with this pure, selfless service.

Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Him” -- a living example of the power of God.

We have no word of anything Lazarus said.
But we don’t need one.
His life was testimony enough.

He loved Christ by simply BEING. . . a man “who had been dead, whom [Jesus] raised from the dead.”

But Mary topped all the love in the room with a love that couldn’t be missed.
She anointed the Lord.
And the odor from the ointment filled the room.

Jesus called it a “good work.”

And, again, Mary had “chosen the good part.”

It wouldn’t have mattered if Jesus had been anointed for His burial at this point in the week.
It didn’t add anything to the ‘work’ HE was about to do.
The Lord didn’t need it.
And it had no meritorious nature in it for Mary.

But Jesus praised her work. . . because of the love that was behind it.

“God, needing nothing, considers in our works ONLY the love that accompanies them.” – Brother Lawrence

Mary received the praise of Jesus. . .because of the love that accompanied her ‘work.’

And her sacrificial act of love was recorded as a memorial to her.
And is still mentioned today.

4 people expressed their love for Jesus.
In their own unique way.
And without saying a word.

`               `               `               `               `
And what we’re to remember the most about these individuals is . . .

What they did to honor Him at that supper.

What they did to show their love and devotion to Him.

The same thing He wants people to remember about you and me.