Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thanks - seeing

I just finished reading “1,000 Gifts” by Ann Voskamp.
And I’m confessing now.  .  .I’ve only just recently crossed the 100-mark on my list of 1,000.
Not because the gifts aren’t there to count.
Or because counting gifts is that difficult.

It’s having eyes to see the gifts . . . and an open hand to receive them.

Counting gifts requires a different perspective.
Of the world.
Of Him.
And our lives.

It’s looking at the earth as “full of the goodness of the Lord.” (Psalm 33:5)

It’s giving thanks “. . .for He is good.” (Psalm 107:1)

It’s seeing our lives as He does. . . as His own GOOD work. (Phil. 1:6)

Counting gifts is receiving from His hand His gifts given in goodness.

It’s seeing all He gives as grace. 
Better than we deserve.

We don’t have to change what we see. Only the way we see.” – Ann Voskamp

So the list continues. . .
#117 – A summer sunset
#118 – A baby’s laugh
#119 – A description of yourself and your struggles in Scripture
#120 – The same solution today as it was 4,000 years ago
#121 – Our timeless God
#122 – An encouraging word
#123 – Christ-centered conversation

“Oh, give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good.” (Psalm 118:29)

What gift(s) can you give Him thanks for today?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Yesterday's Friendships

The Bible describes our lives as a shadow.  And a vapor.

And the years do seem like fleeting shadows.

And people we knew in the past seem like a vapor that appeared for a little time and then vanished away.
Just YESTERDAY’s friendships.

But some are allowed to re-emerge in our lives.  Put there again. . . by the Lord.
TODAY’s surprise.

These have been a few of His surprises to me lately. . . 

My "conversation buddy" for 2nd year Spanish (Junior year of college, 1997).
Lots of conversation (in English this time!); my "roomie" for "She Speaks" (2011).

Kimberly Rae Thigpen, Author of "Stolen Woman" (Had to put a plug in there for you, Kim!)

  The little girl who was allowed to have her ears pierced in the 4th grade!
        (Grade school classmate, the 80's)
  Now a favorite "e-mail friend."
  First time we'd seen each other in 17 years (August, 2011).

Stephenie and Nathan Gross

         Met when our high schools played basketball against each other (Senior year, 1994).
         Fast friends and friends since.
         A long-awaited re-united moment after 4 years; this time with her 5 children
                   (August, 2011).

Adam and Angela Peck, Laurel, Joanna, Justin, Abigail, and baby Felicity

Never underestimate the value of yesterday's friendships.

They just may show up as today's surprise.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Forgiveness Frees

She wasn’t asked to come.

Her known past.  Her present identity.   
Both were stamped on her like a scarlet “A”:  “Sinner. . . .from the city.”

But she wanted to see Jesus. 
So she came.
Welcome by no one. . .  but Him.

Sometime in the past, she’d been broken.  And received His forgiveness.
Now, in His presence, she couldn’t hold back the tears. . . or continue to stand behind Him.

She fell at His feet and wept.   Enough tears to wash His feet.
But she didn’t just wash His feet.  She wiped them with her hair.
With overwhelming emotion, she began kissing His feet. . . And didn’t stop.
THEN. . . she brought out her alabaster box and anointed His feet with a costly ointment.

This is what it looks like to be forgiven.

But her actions weren’t welcome by the host . . . a Pharisee. 
Known for distancing himself from sin.  Known as the religious elite. 
He thought he was on equal footing with Christ.

But he didn’t love Christ. 
He didn’t treat Him as a guest of honor in his own home. Or show the most common courtesies.
And he accused Him of ignorance.  Surely He didn’t know who was touching Him! 

But Jesus knew all about the woman.  He knew all about Simon, the Pharisee.
And He spoke a parable Simon wouldn’t forget.

Two debtors owed two different amounts. 

One was ten times the amount of the other. 
But neither could pay their debt. 

One debt was great and the other was small.
But neither had enough resources to pay.

So the creditor forgave them both.
They were both forgiven.
Freed from their debt.

Still having to be paid, the debt became his. 

And he paid it all.

The main lesson of the parable came from Simon’s own lips.  He who has been forgiven the most will love the most.

Suddenly, Jesus looked at the woman.
Still speaking to Simon, He pointed to the love this forgiven sinner had been showing to Him, in contrast to what Simon had failed to do.

Simon gave Him no water to wash His feet.  This woman had used her tears.
Simon gave Him no towel.  But she used her hair.
Simon hadn’t given Him a kiss out of common courtesy.  But she was still kissing His feet.
Simon hadn’t anointed His head with common oil.  But she had anointed His feet with a costly ointment.

This is what it looks like to be forgiven.

It frees.
It freed this woman from a debt that couldn’t be paid.
It could have freed Simon from hardness toward God and others.

And forgiveness gives freedom to love. . . .MUCH.

Simon had said it. . . .Those who are forgiven much will love much.

And all of us have enough need for forgiveness to make us individuals who can love Christ in a big way.

Do we love Him much. . . or just a little?

The measure of our love will be determined by the way we view our sin.

Whether it’s great or small . . .
NONE of us have enough resources to pay the debt we owe.
ALL of us needed Someone Else to pay it for us.

And He did.

Our sins are just the huge, great reason to love Him in a big way.