Family, Motherhood, Parenting

The Season of Exodus


“The Lord said to Moses, “Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give it.’ Exodus 33:1 (ESV)

When I was a little girl I dearly loved Christmas Day.  While all the events leading up to Christmas were exciting (the cookie baking, letters to Santa and gift wrapping, etc.), to me they were merely steps along the path leading to the ultimate destination – Christmas morning.  As soon as the weather turned cold in late November my longings for the arrival of December 25th started to churn.  I counted down the December days and cursed the slowness of the calendar. Periodically (when no one was around) I would vigilantly search the house for hidden gifts (to my parents’ extreme frustration). Every Christmas Eve I listened and watched for Santa (making it quite difficult for my parents to finish their last minute gift wrapping), and rejoiced with pure delight and relief when Christmas Day finally arrived and I could run downstairs to see what wondrous surprises were waiting for me under the tree.  On December 25th my joy became complete.

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I Must Become Less

feetOnScaleI know ’tis the season to be treadmilling, but this is not a post about weight loss.

It’s about self-loss.

In this post-Christmas season where we strive to rid ourselves of our caloric over-accumulations, it is more important to rid ourselves of…ourselves.

Ask any Christian which verse in the Bible best sums up the gospel message and they will most likely tell you it is John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”), and I would agree with that answer.

But what if someone asked which verse best sums up a Christian’s response to that gospel?  In other words, if we point to John 3:16 for God’s plan of salvation, what verse points to what we do next?

My answer would be John 3:30.

While John 3:16 is the head knowledge of the gospel, John 3:30 is the feet.

In John 3:30, John the Baptist, speaking to his followers, states, “He must become greater, I must become less.”  You see, John was baptizing people in Salim.  Jesus was baptizing people in a different region.  John’s disciples noticed that fewer people were coming to them to be purified and more people were going to Jesus.  Concerned about this shift, John’s disciples questioned him about it. Here is the exchange:

25 Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom.The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

In this passage John is saying, Look guys, there’s no need for concern.  This journey I am on is not about me, it’s about Him. Jesus’ arrival fills me with joy.  People leaving me to follow Him is just how it should be.  Take your eyes off what we are doing here and focus instead on Jesus.

So while John 3:16 succinctly explains God’s redemptive plan, John 3:30 succinctly explains how to live as Christians under that plan; by practicing self-loss.

But this is no easy task.

Just as I would rather be facing a plate of warm cookies than a cold treadmill, I often would rather do things under my direction than God’s.

I need to become less.

Lord, help me to get let go of my selfish ways.  Your ways are so much better, but my ways feel more comfortable and easy.  You are the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Help me to lose myself so that I may gain You.

Boys, Christianity, Fatherhood, Parenting

Well Then, Let’s Go

father & son working on car engineOver the weekend a group of teenage boys came to our home to join our son in a building project for school.  The project required the use of multiple power tools.

At one point in the afternoon a sander, a circular saw, overhead lighting, a speaker and a space heater were all running at the same time and…..

Can you guess what happened next?

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Family, Marriage, Motherhood, Parenting

Oxen In My Stalls


“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” Proverbs 14:4, ESV

Here is my translation of this verse:

When there are no relationships, life stays tidy, but abundant blessings come from being in relationship with one another.

People are messy.

As a mother you know this all too well.  You are in a constant state of cleaning.  I guarantee that, if you have children under your roof, at this very moment there are crumbs on your carpet, clothes on the floor, or stains on your linoleum (you probably don’t want me reminding you about them!)  And as you clean up one room, another room gets dirty.

In my house there are teenagers.  Oy Vey, are they messy!  They leave smelly socks lying about, unnecessary lights on, and dirty dishes in the sink.  They bring their teenage friends over and the messiness breeds.

Relationships are messy.  When a family lives together under the same roof there will be strife, and when you have close friends there will be conflict.  That’s because people get tired, hormones fluctuate, life gets overwhelming, selfishness presides over service and people get hurt.

And life is messy.  You get sick or the kids get sick, budgets get tighter, basements flood, and the kids need driven to yet another activity.

But this proverb is a wonderful reminder that within all this messiness there are abundant blessings to be had!

God has created us for deep relationships and for community.  God is the author of relationships and He wants us in communion with Him and with other people.

I like the New Living Translation of Ephesians 1:5 that says “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” It brings God pleasure to have us in His family even with our habits and hang-ups!  His love is steadfast.  He takes us as we are, even in our messiness.

David in Psalm 63:3 tells God, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.”  And just as God loves our messy selves steadfastly, being with messy people helps us to learn to love them steadfastly.

This proverb about the oxen challenges me to accept messiness in order to deepen relationships. I shouldn’t sweat the scratches on the woodwork or the nicks in the walls or the dirt on the floor, nor should I linger long over hurt feelings, selfish attitudes, or  harsh words because relationships – even messy ones – produce life abundant.

My children may be “messy” but they bring me joy unspeakable.  My husband and I may have days of strife in our relationship, but our deep love for each other is steadfast.  My friend and I may not always get along, but her friendship is like a balm for my soul.

Jesus, help me to today to see people as You see them – as abundant blessings.  Help me remember this proverb and to always proclaim, “Lord, let my stalls be full!”