Archive for November, 2019

Leave it There

Red-Cloth---Bible-2As the weather began to change this year (quite rapidly I must admit), I pulled my light jacket out of the closet and walked out the front door. I don’t fully remember what it was that I had to do that day, other than it was full of running from this place to another, maybe even a stop in a coffee shop for a little pick me up. However, it was in the middle of the craziness of the day that I reached into my left pocket and found something that I wasn’t expecting. It was a small piece of red cloth, cut in a strip. Now, to many, this will mean nothing. But for some, it will mean everything.

This piece of cloth represents those burdens, sins, and other things that I didn’t want to carry with me anymore. During a Palm Sunday celebration, I asked people to pick up a similar piece of cloth and nail it to a cross in the sanctuary. And then I proceeded to tell them that now that they have laid this at the foot of the cross, even nailing it to the cross, they should leave it there. Jesus has taken the burden and lightened the load. God has removed the sin as far as the East is to the West. It is all gone!

But now the hard part; leave it there. Don’t pick up that burden when you leave the cross. Don’t dwell on the sins of the past, God has forgiven them. It is so easy to pick up that feeling again and carry it around with you. Some of us treat it like a badge of honor, that we need to show others what we think defines us. So every year we make the journey to the cross, may our burdens down, and then pick them back up again. Sometimes we don’t even know that we are doing it.

When I reached into my pocket and pulled out that little reminder, I began to reflect on how many times I had unknowingly picked my burdens back up, only to find them when I least expected to. The past hurts were never too far away, which also means that they effected many of my everyday decisions. I wonder if that is also true for you. Are there some things you need to let go of? What needs to be left at the foot of the cross?

Will you commit to not picking it back up? Will you leave it there?

The “Trying” Christian

bee-1726659_1920Recently, someone asked a question about something they read. It presented the fact that if we are ‘trying’ to be a good Christian, that we didn’t know what it meant to really ‘be’ a christian. (This came from “The Road Back to You” by Cron and Stabile.) While this may seem a bit confusing for those living in this world, it holds some valuable truths.

We must accept that we live in a society that glorifies those who succeed, many times at great and painstaking work. It was from the ‘sweat of their brow’ they achieved the level of success they are. By the code of society, we are the ones who accomplish everything; we are self-reliant. I know as I lived into this for so many years. I worked long hours, devoted so much time to the success of the businesses that I was working for. I wanted to be accepted, valued, and praised for what I could accomplish. It was all about me and what I could do. Many of you might be in that same boat, trying to be the best employee, the best boss, the best parents, or the best whatever it may be for you.

Then we encounter Jesus and things shift, dramatically. However, our worldly minds kick in and we try to become the best Christian we can. We attend worship, join a small group, attend meetings, serve within the community, and do a host of other things, all in the name of trying to be the best Christian we can. But many times we forget the most important piece, allowing God to encourage, empower, and guide us in those actions. We can’t seem to get out of God’s way as we strive to serve God. We even enter into our prayer time and tell God just how good we’ve been. Do you see God, how we served that meal yesterday, how we volunteered to read scripture for worship, or how we visited 3 people last week in the hospital?

If we are quiet enough, I think we might hear God at times say “Yes, I saw that, but did you bring me with you? Did you let me give you wisdom in what to say or not say? Did you allow me to guide your footsteps?” God wants to be that integral part of your life, involved in everything. And we need God in our lives, otherwise we can’t do anything. Jesus tells us that He is the vine and we are the branches, apart from Him we can do nothing. So, why are we trying?

We can try to change our lives, but the One who can truly change us, is Jesus Christ. It is through the grace of God that we are transformed into the ‘best’ that we can become. And we must remember that God’s grace is not something that we earn or something we work towards. This grace is something that’s given to us as a gift. When we accept this grace, the change that we desire happens to us, through the love and grace of God.

We need God. Stop trying to be the best Christian, and allow God to transform you into the Christian you are meant to be. Allow the change to happen to you.

Caring Hands

Stephs HandsWe are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to this world. And I think we sometimes use this phrase flippantly. We mean well, but the depth of the statement doesn’t completely ring true. So what does it mean to be the hands of Jesus?

One of the ways we can think about this is how we are able to love and care for others. Jesus spent his ministry caring for those who couldn’t sometimes care for themselves. We hear it all the time, that Jesus ate with sinners, hung out with those who lived on the margins of society, and brought a sense of belonging to the lonely. He touched people that society said was untouchable, they were ‘unclean.’ To say the least, it was unpopular to associate with the people Jesus did. The leaders of the church and world around them would have just left them behind. But Jesus loved them, he cared for them, healed them, and said through words and actions, that they mattered. So much of this happened through physical touch. Rubbing mud in eyes, laying hands on ailing bodies, even through the unsuspecting touch from a woman who just wanted to touch his robe. Touch is important, which is why this phrase of being Jesus’ hands is so important.

How do you touch those around you? Or maybe it was you that received that important touch from someone else? Was it a moment when someone held your hand, put their arm around you, or held you with a welcome embrace? Healing comes in that touch. Connection happens in those moments. This is one way that we can be those hands of Jesus. Who can you touch with the love of God today?

Now, I have to be honest with you, and a bit braggadocios about the image that I have used in this post. It was truly the inspiration for this writing. The hands that you see are those of someone who I see as being those hands of Jesus everyday. You see, this woman works with many on the margins of this life. They are those who sometimes have been left behind, pushed to the side, and even abused by others and systems. They find themselves reaching the end of their lives, wondering if they have made a difference. I believe that she helps them to understand that they are loved, welcomed, and celebrated, not only for what they have done throughout their lives, but also for who they are, right now. She reaches out with those lovely hands and cares for them, loves them, and celebrates them.

These are the hands of my daughter Stephanie, and they are not only her hands. They are also Jesus’ hands. I wonder about what this world will look like when all hands are Jesus’ hands.

Love you Stephanie!