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Archive for April, 2011

Maundy Thursday

Today is Maundy Thursday.  I was an adult before I’d ever heard of it—even though  I was raised by Christian parents.  We celebrated Good Friday, and, of course Easter, but when I first heard of Maundy Thursday I was very curious.  With a little research I discovered that the word ‘Maundy’ was actually derived from the word ‘mandate’.  So…curiosity got the better of me and I decided to check out what ‘mandate’ was given on the day before the crucifixion.

I am no theologian, but it doesn’t take a theologian to read the poignant story of the eve of Christ’s crucifixion and discover His command.  Jesus had met with his closest friends, the disciples—the very ones to whom He entrusted the message of His life and His purpose—and Christ Himself knelt before each one to wash their road-weary feet.

Can you imagine the gentleness of His touch?  The love in His eyes as He looked into each dear face?  The weight in His heart as He anticipated His parting from them?

And so, one by one by one he washed the feet of each disciple.  When it was his turn, Peter, as usual misunderstanding, balked.  That was the job of a servant!  Someone lowly.  Definitely NOT the King of Glory, the Prince of Peace!  He would never allow the Lord Jesus to stoop to the floor at his feet and wash the dirt from the road from between his calloused toes!

This is where I love to close my eyes and envision Christ’s face.  His tender eyes as He looked lovingly at Peter and explained ever so gently (I feel quite certain with a gentle smile):  “Peter, you don’t understand.  If I don’t wash your feet, then you’re not part of me and you can’t be part of my ministry.”

And, as is typical for Peter, he replied, “Oh!  Well, then here…wash my feet, my hands, and shoot!  Wash me all over!”

Jesus’ reply showed the symbolism of what He was doing.  “No Peter, if I wash your feet, you’re clean all over.”

At the end of this little ceremony, Jesus asked them if they understood what He had just done.  In John 13:12 – 17 it reads like this:  “When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place.  ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them.  ‘You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (NIV)

He was taking on the form of a servant—serving in the most menial way by washing His friends’ feet.  In other words He was saying, ‘Don’t ever be too ‘big in the britches’ to serve others.’  And then He even told them the secret of such service: ‘You will be blessed if you do this.’

Now, serving so that we will gain something (recognition, returned favors, etc.) doesn’t count.  It won’t even work!  But, serving out of a pure heart of care and concern always is rewarded with blessing.  And amazingly, the server—or servant—is always more blessed than the one actually receiving the gift of service.

So…I say all that to say this:  The mandate we are given is not just to do the symbolic act of washing one another’s feet, but to serve one another in every opportunity that presents itself.  Not just on Maundy Thursday—although those worship services are meaningful and poignant, the true follower of Christ serves daily, in the trenches, where the rubber meets the road!  And believe me when I tell you that He spoke the truth when He said we’d be blessed.  Only God could turn a gift into an even greater present to the giver!

My challenge is to carry the heart of Maundy Thursday into the days and weeks and months that follow.  Serve one another as though you were serving Christ Himself.  Look for opportunities to serve all year.  And this I promise:  you will greatly enjoy the return on your investment!

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Home

This morning I had an early morning appointment, and as I drove toward home my heart sang with the joys of the beauty of this valley and I couldn’t help thinking how very much this place has become home for me.

When we moved here a few years ago, my heart held onto its love for the Midwest; for the wide open spaces, the flat terrain and the cornfields that stretch as far as the eye can see and the sweet vegetables grown in that black, rich soil!  For the winds, the sunsets and sunrises and rainbows and yes, even the tornadoes!  (Oh, how I always loved the smell of a tornado at dusk!)

It took a while for me to appreciate the beauty of the mountains and the Valley.  But sometime as I slept it crept into my heart and as spring awakens the Valley this year my heart pounds with the pure beauty and joy of it!  As I drove through the town I caught myself smiling at the gorgeous dogwoods and all the daffodils growing in the meridians, and I realized:  This is HOME!  I love it here!

I love the beauty of spring in the mountains now, as the trees awaken and begin to show their soft green leaf-tips like a fog of fertile color whispering around the black branches.  And the expressive sky above the mountaintops that wraps its loving arms around us to enfold us in its warm embrace.  How did this ever make me feel claustrophobic?  Why did it take me so long to stop missing the wide open spaces?  When did I start appreciating the near-sightedness of living in the Valley?

As I pondered this change in me, I suddenly realized that even though we have no plans of ever moving from the Valley, this is not my permanent Home.  There will come a day when I will be called to my permanent Home and I have to wonder, will my silly heart yearn for this Valley?  Will I be so foolish as to not appreciate my glorious new Home?  Or, will I finally awaken in that new Land and realize that I’ve finally reached the end of my journey?  That all the beauty of my past homes does not even compare?  Will I finally know how to simply be thankful?

When I think of the way God has worked in my life, I have to admit that each time He has wrenched something from my tight little fists, He has replaced it with SO much more!  How do I dare question Him?  He is SO good, and so patient.  And maybe someday, when I’m really Home, I’ll be able to simply say thank You!  And mean it with all my heart.

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The Peas are Up!

Yesterday the sun was shining and warming the spring air magically.  I had my Monday chores to do (I’m SUCH a schedule-oriented person) but convinced myself I could NOT hang the sheets on the clothesline above such long grass!  So…I gave in to my longing and went to the garage to get out the lawn mower.

With my husband’s used book business taking up most of the garage now, getting out the lawnmower was no easy pursuit.  But determination is a good tool sometimes and eventually, after moving stacks of heavy boxes of books I found my little lawn friend sitting quietly in its corner, waiting to be brushed off, gassed up, and turned on.

Oh, the smell of freshly mowed grass!  Oh, the green, velvet loveliness of it!  And…of course, as soon as I started mowing I noticed all the weeds in the edges of the lawn, so…pulling weeds had to happen first.  I pulled and pulled and pulled while the mower sat quietly in the driveway watching and waiting patiently for its turn.

During all this feverish gardening, I kept reminding myself of the laundry that was waiting and needing started, but…I just had to finish the lawn first.  And as I passed the vegetable gardens, I discovered my real gift of the day!  The peas are up!

The pea seeds that I’d planted several weeks ago have suddenly burst into life and are actually little plants already!  We had rain for three days last week and then the sun shone so brilliantly on Sunday and, voila!  We have pea plants!  Lots of them!  And they are several inches high already with more than just their original two leaves!  It’s like magic the way they appear to grow in the night – or whenever your head is turned away!

And so…my mouth watering, my arms aching, my face smiling, my back already tired, I began the laundry.  But somehow, those little peas gave me energy enough to get it all done.  And the anticipation of eating them…well…let’s just say I’m almost tasting them already!

By the end of the day, as I slipped between those clean, smooth, sweet-smelling sheets that had soaked up the sunshine as they dried outdoors, I smiled at my wonderful day, knowing sugar snap peas are in my not-too-distant-future.  God gives such wondrous gifts!  And to think peas could bring so much joy!

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The Word of God

I am a bit shaken today.  Satan (the devil) is alive and well and rearing his ugly head in such devious ways; in ways that seem holy and righteous—and I do think he uses the ignorance of all of us from time to time to get his digs in.  We must be vigilant my friend and always, always equipped and ready to fight.  (Eph. 6:10-18)

I’m shaken today by a comment made by a dear friend (and, actually relative) that a particular version of the Bible – God’s Holy Word – was errant.  Now, he was actually targeting the translators and not the Word of God, but still, the war was on!  The battle took place on today’s most famous battleground:  Facebook.  The sad part is that believers and unbelievers alike can see the comments there and, well…the disharmony!  Now I ask you, do we really need to give the devil his ammunition?

I freely confess to having my favorite version of the Bible, as you do I’m sure if you are among the children of God.  The important thing is that we study and learn and ask God to help us apply what we learn to our lives.  Ask Him to change us from the inside out.  The Bible is not just a set of rules—unless you are not a believer.  If you are not among the chosen, then not only is it boring and ominous and seemingly outdated, but a thing to be avoided and scoffed.  But friend, if you are in the ‘Inner Circle’ and know the Truth for yourself, if God speaks to you in those pages and if His Holy Spirit inhabits your heart and life, you will KNOW the Truth!  He will use whatever translation we have available to speak to us whether it is KJV, NIV, Russian or Spanish!  Each translation of God’s Word uses some differing words and phrases, but it is still the Word of God!  Who do we think we are to criticize?  How dare we demean even one phrase, let alone a whole version?  Do we think God has lost His power?

No, dear friend, let me assure you.  God is still on His throne!  And He loves us all—and for some reason we can’t understand in this life, He gave us each our differing opinions and tastes and preferences.  But of one thing we can be certain:  The Word of God will always stand, and the Truth will be known among mankind.  So, as long as it is the Holy Bible, well…pick a version that makes God’s message clear to you and enjoy!  Delve into the richness of those pages and ask the Holy Spirit to help you to apply it to your life.  God alone is the perfect translator, and HE makes no mistakes—whatever version you enjoy!

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