There’s really only a few things to do, and it’s not buying macaroni in bulk.
Love. Like, really well. Be patient. Kind. Tenderhearted, forgiving. Overlook offenses. Go out of your way to be good and kind.
Love more. To the people close to you- the ones you have to work with every day, the ones that ask the same stupid questions all the time, the ones that spill their cup every time you set it on the table. The ones that are always around you and you might forget to hug, or forget to be kind to, the ones that you are usually brisk and business-like with. Love them.
Love others. Especially the ones you don’t like. The ones that take from you- are rude to you. The ones that are unkind to you or threatening. Be bold and lay down your life for the ones you most disagree with. Go after the one who cuts off contact with you.
Love, really, love. Don’t win every argument or get the best of every deal- but instead- love. Don’t look out for number one, look out for others.
Guys, we have to love. Jesus said we would be known by our love. Not by our perfect theology or by our amazing prophetic insights. Nothing matters except that we know how to love, like Christ loved us. He died for us when we hated him. He literally said: “If you love me, you will keep my commands.” and then he said, “This is my command: that you love one another.” I know, I know, he also said the Greatest Commandment is to Love the Lord your God- but how do you love God? By obeying his commandment!
I feel like one of the worst things about this year has been how divisive everything has been. The church will NOT STAND if we can’t stand together! We have to major on the things we agree on, and stop letting the enemy point out and highlight the places where there is friction! We have to be known by our love, by the commitment we have to our brothers and sisters that says- I won’t let you go. I value you and relationship with you, even if it makes me uncomfortable.
Okay, I’m not immune to the pull to be offended. It’s easy to look at the other side of a political or even a church disagreement and say: “If they think like that, they’re obviously not real Christians. Therefore, I don’t have to fellowship with them.”
But guys! The mark of a real Christian is not that they have the right opinions! It’s that they love! So in that example, the very fact that I’m willing to withdraw love over a disagreement is a sign that I’m the one that’s not a real Christian.
Someone asked me this week how my “sugar thing” was going and I told them- “Good, bad, I would give myself a solid D+. Ha!
The truth is that I’m trying! I definitely making a lot of consistently better choices- whole grains, veggies, etc.
But I haven’t been perfect. I was gone for a family funeral for a week and I just sorta “paused,” and then when I got back I tried to pick it up again and it’s honestly, a lot of work and not a lot of fun! It’s hard to figure out what to eat! It’s hard to say no to a box of donuts that someone brings home. It’s hard. And I haven’t been that good at it.
But after I told my friend my “grade,” I went to the Lord to ask him- would he give me the same grade?
He told me he grades in pass/fail. He doesn’t give a score. It’s either- I’m coming after him or I’m not.
And honestly, I am. In fits and starts, like a little kid trying to walk but falling down, I’m coming. And you know what? I was feeling a bit ashamed about my “fits and starts” but the Lord is not a God of shame! He rejoices over my efforts and sees where I am, and how I long to walk in a way that pleases Him, and he encourages me- the way a Dad would encourage their baby to get up and walk again.
You guys, I have no idea why God is so good to me. Honestly, my whole life has been this pattern of- I fail, I feel ashamed, after a period of time I come back to the Lord- and He’s merciful and kind to me! And yet every single time I fail, I forget that for awhile and have this idea that… uh-oh. This is the time. This time God is going to really give it to me.
But he never does! He’s always gentle, reminding me that He doesn’t condemn me, dusting me off and cleaning me up and loving me- calling me ridiculously kind things like his child, beloved, and righteous. What!
With joy and gladness, he sets me back on my feet and says: “You can do this.”
So, it’s been a whole week! And I have done really well!
Truthfully, it was soooo nice having posted that, because so many people commented and messaged me for the first few days, it really kept me motivated! So if that was you, THANK YOU!
I did hit a mini crash about 3 days in- just felt irritable and hangry. But I managed to not kill anyone and we all survived.
Then about 5 days in, I was kinda bored of it- I mean, it’s no fun figuring out a different meal for yourself when the rest of the house is having spaghetti! But I didn’t go off plan!
Then on day 6, Giselle made fresh bread, and… ugh, it looked so good. I had been doing so well, and there weren’t many options in our house, and I… walked by it several hundred times. Then I cut a slice. And buttered it. And then I put some of our fancy honey on it.
And I looked at that warm, golden, glistening bit of yummy, and just…
Ugh. Knew. I KNEW it was a complete sin.
I mean okay! I’m not one that wants to heap rules on things! I have no intention of becoming Amish or orthodox!!! And I am NOT saying that piece of bread was inherently sinful and no one should eat carbs of gluten.
But you know that Romans chapter 14 talks about how we shouldn’t condemn other people for their faith choices- but we should each obey what the Spirit is prompting us. Well, I knew that the Lord had told me no, and I was just… disobeying. Because it looked so good. And the Lord is so merciful, right?
Well, I couldn’t do it. The Spirit was so present to me at that moment- I couldn’t. I walked over and handed it to Eric, and he vacuumed it up for me pretty quickly.
Maybe that’s the key. Maybe obedience is less about remembering and muscling through- than about having such an intimate relationship with God that you never feel like he’s far off. He’s right before you, and you love to please Him, and hate to grieve him.
I’m so thankful to have a whole week under my belt!! I’m so excited about what the Lord is going to do in the future! And already the Lord used last week’s blog post to connect me to several people in ways I didn’t expect! He truly does take what the enemy meant for evil, and uses it for my good!
This week, I have a prayer meeting at my house. If you have a prayer need, if you have something in your life that feels like a stronghold you want victory for, message me and I’ll be praying! I truly believe the message of the gospel is that we are meant to be free! Members of a kingdom where we are no longer slaves to sin! I want to walk in that, and I want that for everyone else, too!
Hi! Hey, okay. So. This is hard to post, but here goes! Everyone who has ever met me in person knows that I’ve wrestled my whole life with overeating! I’ve tried lots of different things and failed at them all.
It’s embarrassing, no one wants to be overweight. Also- I’m a Christian, if you know me you probably also know that I talk big talk about how God is good, and real, and how in Him, there’s hope for everything! Well, it has been consistently embarrassing that I’ve not been able to find a key or a… solution to this. It feels like, Okay, how can I encourage people that the Lord is their help for their BIG things, when my big thing obviously just goes unchanged? It’s not like I hadn’t gone to the Lord about it! But the years just went by, and nothing was different. Okay- about five or six years ago, when praying, the Lord asked me to give up two things: White flour and white sugar. I knew it was his leading. I resisted, or- tried, a little, for a few hours. But I just couldn’t do it! But over and over- whenever I would see a new diet plan or a new idea that might work for me- I would have this inner prick from the Holy Spirit- that I shouldn’t waste my time on any of those “new plans.” I should just obey what the Lord told me. You have no idea how many times I tried! I knew it was what I should do, but I just couldn’t do it!
Then in January 2017, I somehow made it through the whole day on New Years. And then January 2. and then January 3! And then it was a week! And then two!! The thing that kept me going was that I was posting regularly on a private Instagram account that a few people followed that kept me fairly accountable. After 40 days, I was feeling amazing. My energy was up- my whole diet had shifted a lot, just from eliminating those two things, and I had lost a lot! I mean, like 13 inches off my waist. It was CRAZY.
But I fell off the bandwagon. Like, I don’t know what happened right there- I tried to shift into “I can eat SOME white flour and white sugar,” and within a week I was just back to my old eating patterns, and regained it all.
The thing is- I really do think that for whatever reason, I have an addiction to sugar and there is this huge shift in me- when I’m putting sugar/white flour into my system, it triggers something in me so that I overeat EVERYTHING. But when I’m abstaining from it, somehow my appetite for the other foods fall into order. I don’t know why that is, and I don’t think it’s true for all people. But it seems to be true for me.
Anyway, since then I’ve been back to the same old, same old- always having a nagging feeling that I’m not doing it right, but yet not having the motivation to do something about it. Several times I’ve thought: I just need to do that again! But I try, for about 6 hours, and then cave.
In the last few months, I’ve been talking to the Lord about it more and more. I knew what he had said before- and I knew, in the back of my mind, that I should probably just do that again.
But I just couldn’t stick to it! No matter how many days I would go to bed saying that I would do it in the morning, I would get up and make it to maaaaaaybe 1pm. And then I’d give in and eat something sugary.
Anyway, I’ve been really frustrated about this. I mean, I’m almost 40! Was I ever going to get over this?
Okay, and then the last few days I was reading in 1 Chronicles 13-15. You know David? King David? He’s God’s favorite king. I mean, he’s this shepherd kid who God calls out of the sheep pen, makes into a warrior, and then gives him the Kingdom. He’s really amazing.
Well, one of the first things that happens when David becomes king is this:
There is this ark, it’s a gold box that is filled with holy things- and it belongs in the holiest place. It’s a symbol to all of Israel of God’s presence. Before David is king, there is another king- and he is basically an enemy of God in a lot of ways. THAT king fails in a battle, and the ark is stolen by the actual enemies of Israel.
Then, that king dies, and the Lord calls, anoints, trains, and installs David as HIS king. He gives David the power to defeat the enemies and push them back. And David, excitedly, throws a big party to celebrate the Lord- and to bring back the ark.
Okay, I know this is getting long, but hear me out.
David has a parade of people, singing God’s praise, saying: YES, LORD, WE LOVE YOU! WE WANT TO FOLLOW YOU!! And in this parade is a cart carrying this beautiful ark back to it’s special home.
BUT THEN. The oxen stumble, and the cart tips, and a man reaches out to steady the ark- and then this:
“And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God.”
1 Chronicles 13: 10, ESV
And then it says that David is really angry at the Lord, and he sticks the ark in some random place for awhile.
Two chapters later, in chapter 15, David has calmed down a little, and once again- he calls a party and a parade to bring the ark home. THIS time, he calls together the priests and tells them: “prepare yourself, get all ready in this special way, because you’re going to carry the ark home on poles on your shoulders.”
You see… David, in that in between time- somehow figured out that God had a specific way that He wanted his ark to be handled.
You guys- I feel like… For a long time the Lord has been teaching me about how good He is- how ridiculously, tenderly, unreasonably good. He has been so kind, so patient with me. So good.
But I got a glimpse here- just a little glimpse- of this: God is not someone to just… ignore. Disregard.
I mean, all this time I’ve been saying: Yes, Lord, I know you directed me to fast those two things- But I can’t! I don’t know what’s wrong with me! I’m just, I don’t know! A failure! Weak! Fix me!
And this yesterday I read this, and I’m like… ouch. It’s not a suggestion, is it, when the Lord leads you??
I’m not saying I think the Lord is going to strike me dead for eating a cookie. But I AM saying that I think the reason I don’t see wholeness in this area is directly related to the fact that I’m not obeying.
So I was like – HOW can I keep myself doing it?? When I fail every time!?
And then I realized: I’m ridiculously vain. hahahaha
Outside accountability really works for me. I mean, when I kept it up back a few years ago- It was that instagram account I was running!
So I decided to write this. To make it bold and public:
You guys. I’m not supposed to be eating white flour or sugar. I know it. If I’m doing it, and you’re around, I’m disobeying what I know the Lord has told me to do. I’m confessing right now that I’ve been avoiding obeying for a long time, and It was wrong, and I’m turning from it.
I realize that I believe the Lord has a whole, healthy life for me- but it takes obedience, and I want to walk in it! I want to see the Lord’s good will for me, not only because I want to be blessed, but because I want to be a testimony that He can work good for you, too!
I don’t fully understand all of this. I feel like I’m going to get all sorts of random responses and opinions about everything from good diet practices to “no new revelation.” I’m already dreading it.
But I’m just trying to be bold and die to my own pride so that maybe I can see some victory.
So, here I go. feel free to ask me how it’s going! Please! And I would like to try to update here, maybe every week for awhile.
The truth about God is evident. Look around at the world and the sky- everything made by the hand of God compels you, in your heart, that He is real- that He exists. You can clearly see that He is good, awesome, intelligent, he loves beauty. Look at the Universe. Look at the beautiful elements of nature. You know it, deep in your heart.
We all know it. But we refuse to humble ourselves and submit ourselves to the One who Made Us.
And because of that- our minds become dark and confused. We claim we are “enlightened” but we are actually becoming fools- because the further we turn from the Righteous, Good, Wise God, the more we turn to wicked, pale, vile things.
And what God does is this- He lets us go. When we turn away and reject Him, he lets us walk away. We trade the Truth for the lies that seem more attractive. We trade our safe place in his plan for our own sinful desires- and he lets us. Our punishment is that he lets us have our choice – we suffer sin and violence and wretchedness and sorrow because we, and all humanity around us, is choosing our own ways- and we reap the greed, the violence, the sorrow- from each other.
We are backstabbers, cheaters, gossipers, quarrelers. We envy, murder, abuse. We are proud, miserly, boastful. Heartless, merciless.
We feel bad about our own sins and so we look around at others and say their sin is worse. We point our fingers at “uglier” sins- looking for the worst to condemn so we can puff ourselves up. But we are all the same. We are all condemned, because none of us, not one of us, has walked in integrity and justice and mercy and goodness and love- none of us.
But God is not only a God of intelligence and beauty and awesome power. He is also a God of righteousness and judgment.
You ask- if he is righteous, if he gives judgement- where is God when bad things happen? Why does God not intervene and stop the suffering of the earth?
It is because now, for now, it is the time of man. We are living in the in-between – when the will of man is supreme. Men are allowed to choose and their choice is- well, as you see. Raping the earth, beating their neighbors, and excluding whomever they can. The young and the poor and the powerless reap the sins of the entitled and powerful. It is not right.
But the Lord is a God of justice. There will be a day of judgment. There will come a day when he will say, “Enough.” When he will no longer allow the wretchedness to continue. For now he is being ridiculously tolerant- far beyond what we deserve- because he knows that there are some, always, that will turn to him.
But there will be a day, and not very long from now, when his righteous judgment will come. He will judge everyone, everything. Every action will reap its reward. Every secret thing will be laid bare.
But listen! What can we do? We can only turn to Him now, and repent of our sinful ways. We can never repay- we can never do enough good to make up for our wickedness. The only thing we can do is to learn and know this: That the Son of God came and chose to bear our punishment in our place. Only by humbly accepting that his life was the ransom for yours can you find a robe of righteousness that will let you stand before the Great and Awesome Judge.
And then- what can we do? But live a life that shows that we are bought with a price. When you have repented and run from your own sinful ways, you live a life of gratitude- spent doing here on earth what Jesus would have done- speaking for justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with your God. Then you will have nothing to fear when the Day comes.
I hear a voice of refute that says- we are not so bad. We are not so wicked. There are altruistic and good people- and I am not as bad as some. But listen! There may be, out there. But I am talking to you. I am saying: When you hear the voice of conviction, don’t brush it away with modern talk about “false guilt.” If you hear the Voice of God pulling at you, be aware that you are blessed to be called! Don’t turn him away! He is a good Father, not willing that any would perish. He is the Lover of your Soul. He is the Perfect Friend, the One who knows you and Satisfies You- and you will find rest for your soul.
And that thing? That sinful thing that you are afraid to give up? You’ve heard that the bible doesn’t like it. You know that Christians condemn it. Let me tell you. Is it possible that you are just afraid that you can’t give it up? I have had that fear. I’ve thought to myself: If it depends on me to fix this, I’m doomed. And so it’s easier to believe that God, if there is a God, doesn’t need me to “fix it.” That he is cool with it.
But beloved, this is not the way of Truth. The truth is that the Lord wants good for us. Wholeness and healing and Life, and things that lead to life. When you go his way, you’ll have to lay down things you have treasured. Some of them he will give you back again. Others He will wash from your hands. But whichever it is, trash or treasure- it is safe in his hands.
And you won’t have to “do” it, you know. He is the Master Gardener, and you are the precious tender seedling. You have no need of pushing out a tomato or forcing a leaf to grow. You only dig your roots into the truth, and stretch your face towards the Son, and say, “Lord, not my will, but yours.”
I’ve been having this burning, pressing feeling inside me for a little while, and I need to let this out.
We need to get our affairs in order. The thing is- okay, we can all feel it: the season is changing. Something is right on the horizon, and things will never be the same.
I don’t know what it is- but I feel it. I know that for generations, for thousands of generations, people have been saying: look! It’s coming! Jesus is coming! or look! It’s coming! War is coming! The Messiah is coming! Justice is coming!
And to be honest, it seems risky to be doing that again, to step out on a limb like a crazy person and say: “It’s coming, guys!”
But I guess I’m just a crazy person!!
I hear the Lord saying to me that the time is short- to fill our lamps, to be KNOWN by the bridegroom because we don’t want to be outside that gate when it’s shut.
I hear the Lord telling me to tell YOU to get your affairs in order! To sell all you have for the sake of the kingdom, to live like it’s coming in the morning- you know where he says: “…make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings…” (Luke 16:9) It’s a confusing verse, in the parable of the shrewd manager, and it’s what the Lord is pulling out to me, right now… LISTEN!
None of us are righteous! None of us are ready, are we?? Are you pleased with your day, your heart, your life? Are you pleased with your giving??? Would you be thrilled to have your account pulled up, right now, before heaven??
John the Baptist said PREPARE THE WAY for the KING OF GLORY to come!! Make straight the paths!!
YOU GUYS I’M SAYING THE SAME THING! He’s on his way! The gates are swinging open and you do not want to be caught with your pants down!!
Do what you can, today, to drop your sinful, lazy ways and wash your filthy, bloody hands, because tomorrow is not guaranteed!!
Come on, I know you know I’m talking to myself- I’m preaching to myself. I’m one of you, I need to repent too. You know I know!
You know I love you, you know I know how GOOD God is- how forgiving and merciful and tender he is- how much he SPEAKS for injustice and the downtrodden, but I’m telling you! Those of us who KNOW this have to then LIVE like we’re his SERVANTS, LIVE OUR LIVES IN VIEW OF HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, not like the sinners we were, but like the people he has called us to be!!!
You are so beautiful. I know I’ve told you that, maybe you know it partially though I’m also sure that you have plenty of things about yourself that you don’t care for. It doesn’t matter. You are beautiful, you are so, so valuable and precious and a treasure. I can’t write this enough, if I were to spend the rest of this letter writing just that.
I want to say, before I go on, that I know I’m not perfect- I know I’m not close to perfect. I want you to know that as I write this, I’m not writing from a place of – “Follow me so you can be like me, I really have my life together and you can too!” I’m not even a little bit like that. The world seems full of people who have that message. So many webcourses, so many facebook ads full of women with workout plans and “hustle” plans and housecleaning plans, web seminars and coaching and all kinds of things where they claim that if you just take their 30 day course, or sign up for this introductory session, you too can be Just Like Them. Long haired, ship-lapped, big bootied and blessed.
I’m not saying that.
As I write this, I have a sink full of dishes and a porch floor covered in dried dirt. I am overweight and my bed is unmade. I have less than $1000 in my bank account, and my husband and I definitely bickered before bed. I’m not here to sell you my lifestyle- I’m not here to sell you me. I’m not writing this so that you can be impressed by me, and so that I can say- Hey! Here’s some advice! Are you hopeless? You don’t have to be, because I can give you the map to end up like me!
I’m not doing that. Because guess what? I already know you’re probably more put together than I am. You probably have a better workout regimen, better teeth hygiene, a bigger retirement account, and, to be honest, less irritability and laziness than I do. And I say that with utter, absolute honesty.
I’m not saying that to be… shocking. I’m saying it because I want you to know that I’m writing from a place that is not ME. I’m not writing about ME. I’m writing this about Him.
He loves you.
He looks at you, and loves you. I can’t say this enough, enough, enough. He loves you.
He doesn’t care if you’re a wreck, a screw up. If you’re behind on bills, soaked in debt.
He doesn’t ask you to fix yourself.
He just loves you.
He sees- I mean, he really, really sees. He sees where you’ve been abused and neglected and wounded- and he also knows the reasons you blame yourself, and where you’ve been horrible, and he loves you. LOVES YOU. He’s tender towards you, he really is.
I’m writing this to tell you that- I am no prize, I mean, I’m ordinary low-class, bad housekeeper, middle aged- and he treats me like I am his prized treasure, not because of who I am, but because of Who He Is. That is my God.
I’m writing this to you, today, to tell you that that is how He longs to be with you. He longs to love you, to caress your wounds, to heal your broken heart. He longs to fill your emptiness and satisfy your longings. He sees the dreams and the destiny and the gifts inside of you (-that HE put there, long ago-) and he doesn’t call them useless or wasted!! He rejoices in your future, and he doesn’t call it impossible or hopeless.
The thing is- I know you know. I mean, I know you think you know. I know you’ve been to church, you’ve heard about God, you think you know. I know that you have had some rotten experiences with people who say they are “God’s people.” I know. And I’m sorry.
But there is no difference in that, and the terrible gyms you’ve quit. Just because one gym was crappy doesn’t mean you give up exercising. The Lord is God, whether his people do what is right or not.
People aren’t perfect. But He is. I’m not perfect, but HE IS. You aren’t perfect… but God Is. His Son Is.
His perfect love casts out all sin. Casts out your sin. Throws it as far as the east is from the west. He doesn’t come to condemn you, he comes to pick you up, clean you up, fill you up, and set you up on the Rock where you were intended to live.
He doesn’t ask you to be perfect before you come to him. He doesn’t want you to “clean up” your life so that you can come to him. That’s the old way- that’s the old model. “Clean yourself up so God can talk to you.” That’s the old, religious mindset of the Old Testament. It had it’s place, it did- but there is a NEW Testament now. A NEW day- where God himself walks in the dust, and you, bloody and unclean, touch him, and instead of dying instantly of a lightning strike, he turns and looks at you with eternal eyes and says, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.”
He reaches down into the mud, and opens your eyes.
He kneels down in the sand, and writes a new name for you- a new future, where you are no longer ashamed, no longer full of fear, no longer a laundry list of things you’ve accomplished or failed at- You are Something New. You are a New Creation, born not of flesh but of Spirit!!!!
I’m writing this, dear, dear sister- beloved, chosen of God, daughter and friend… I’m writing this to tell you that if you’ve been longing to be filled, He is the source of life. If you’ve been hurting for love, he is the wellspring of hope. He calls you, beloved, to run on the heights. He calls you, beauty, to put away your amusements, your temporary fixes, and to take his hand, and climb towards Zion.
So don’t miss out! Don’t delay, don’t tell yourself you’ll do it this weekend or when this episode is over. If you can hear him, if you can feel the Spirit pulling at you as you read this then RUN to him! Turn off that tv, throw down your phone, and say “Speak, Lord, I’m listening!”
The days are short. There is so little time. Time is not eternal- it is finite, it is temporary. And there is only a little bit, like the tiny edge of the sun as it grows brighter before it is fully gone at twilight.
Come to me, come to me, all you who are weary. You’ve heard my voice in the night, you’ve heard me calling you. Don’t run away any longer. The days are short, the night is nigh, and you have only one chance left to hear my voice. Don’t turn away- run to me, run to the Father. I and my Father are calling you home, and there is so little time.
I used to wonder when the Lord would come back. I mean- what was taking so long? The early disciples thought it would happen in their lifetime, and every generation since then has probably thought the same.
But 2,000 years later, here we still are. Are we any closer to the end?
A while ago, I was praying about this, and I had a picture- a vision- that came to me that answered, at least a little, this question.
The people of the earth are like sheep grazing on a mountainside. Also on the mountain, there is a safe place- a shelter, in the fold of the Shepherd. It is enclosed by a gate, and the Shepherd himself stands in the doorway, calling.
On the horizon is a storm- a vast, black, thundering thing that is set to destroy.
And the Shepherd calls.
Any who hear His voice can come, and enter the fold, and find safety in his care. Many lift their heads at their names, but not all come.
But the Shepherd knows his sheep. He knows each one- who will come, and who will ignore him. He calls, and he watches as they come-
Two thousand years of coming.
And still the storm is coming- on the horizon now, just over the valley, and He is still calling-
Come, come, come…
And when the last sheep, the last one that will come DOES come, He closes the gate, and the storm breaks.
This is when the end will come- when the last sheep comes home.
Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
So where are you, today? Are you safely in the fold?
The King is coming. The earth will not last forever. Hear his voice today, and come to Him.
Here’s a story about something that happened once when I was teaching Sunday School that reveals how mean I am, and how good God is.
Let me set the stage for this story. We had a small class, only about 5 kids in lower elementary school. We started out with prayer and a snack, and after about 10 minutes, I would “get down to business” and start teaching.
Like anyone who teaches, I think that the whole point of this class is the lesson. I mean, the snack, the game, the craft- they’re just things to get through so we can do this important thing- to communicate this BIG TRUTH that is in the lesson!
Okay, so this particular week I made microwave popcorn. Nothing fancy. two bags for seven people. My husband was there, too, I should mention that we were in this together. I had also brought some juice. So I pass out this popcorn on napkins to each of the kids, and there is this one child- (I’m making some of this generic so I don’t embarrass anyone) there is is this one girl- I’ll call her Gracie- Gracie, okay, so, she asks me for a big pile. So I’m like, whatever, I don’t mind being generous, it’s popcorn, I pour the popcorn. I pour the juice, and by the time I’ve poured it all and passed it out to the other four, she has downed hers and asks for more.
I am, I admit it, irritated. Suddenly I’m facing these questions: Is it too sugary? Is one glass enough? Should she go get some water? I want to get to my lesson, do we have enough time? But I decide, again, to err on the side of generosity, and I pour her some more juice. We sit down to eat and talk.
As we have snack, I usually review our memory verses. When we are halfway through the second one, she finishes her popcorn, and asks for more. With a sigh, I pour her a little more.
Snack is slowing down, so I stand up to the board to start The Lesson.
The lesson this week is on the miracles of Jesus. The point of the lesson is that Jesus performed miracles because he loves us.
I know that all of these kids have been in church awhile, and they’ve heard all the stories of the miracles, and so one of the things I’m doing in the intro is trying to get them to list and tell me as many miracles as they can. They are doing well, raising their hands and joining in, and I’m making a list on the board.
The ones who are slower eaters are finishing, and mostly participating, and then there is Gracie.
She has already finished her second helping, and I see that she is giving her cup and napkin to my husband for thirds. He’s already poured the popcorn, but I intervene before she has more juice. (She’s had enough, I’m thinking. That’s enough sugary juice. She needs to pay attention, the lesson is more important than the snack. The snack is distracting her.)
I finish up the list exercise, and return to the table to do the next part of the lesson. Gracie asks to fill her cup with water in the bathroom, and I let her go. She comes back in a minute and still figits. I am almost boiling. Why can’t she just focus!?
We start the crafty part of the lesson, and I’m passing out papers, but she’s not interested in coloring. She’s quiet and not disturbing anyone, but she’s still packing in the popcorn. After a minute, as I’m listening to another child answer a question, she asks my husband for more. He starts to give it to her, but I put my hand on the bag.
I am full on irritated, so irritated. I mean, all I want her to do is HEAR the LESSON. JESUS LOVES HER, HE DID MIRACLES BECAUSE HE LOVES US.
“Snack time is over,” I say, as gently as I am physically able, which is not very gentle. “It’s time to pay attention.” And then I ask her the next question in the lesson, and to her credit, she answers it.
But as I move on to the next part of the lesson, I notice she just keeps staring at the popcorn. She is restless. Asks for more water, swings in her chair. figits, asks to use the bathroom. Whispers a question to my husband- can they have more popcorn after game time?
I am just a miserable wreck inside. Want to know my thoughts?
Why doesn’t this child know how to listen to a teacher? Why is she acting so entitled, rather than grateful that she already recieved? Why do I have to put up with this? I prepared a LESSON, an IMPORTANT LESSON, and she should be respectful to me and sit and listen! How dare she be uninterested, how dare she NOT CARE about what I have to say. Yep, I think all these things. I told you I’m not naturally nice. I don’t really NOTICE how nasty I am. I feel entirely justified and… well, righteous. After all, I’m there to teach them THAT JESUS LOVES THEM.
And then I am completely, one hundred percent rocked by the Holy Spirit.
You see, earlier that week, I felt really strongly that the Lord was leading me to read in James. I got to this part-
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
I had read this earlier in the week, and tried to search my heart- was I playing favorites in any way? I noticed a few things and situations that I could think of that might apply and tried to repent of them… Situations where I had favored someone I honored or respected or… envied.
But suddenly, this whole passage just SLAMS into my heart, and I realize something about Gracie.
I think she’s hungry.
“Hey,” I say impulsively, as she is eyeing the popcorn bag that I put away on the shelf. “What did you have for breakfast today?”
“Nothing,” she says, with her eyes glued to that bag. “We don’t get to eat on Sundays because my grandma picks us up early.”
My heart drops. It is almost eleven o clock. I, in my luxury, had made my family bagels and scrambled eggs that morning, had a mini-donut with my coffee in the foyer besides, and I’m already thinking about lunch.
I look back at the popcorn, and I feel like a total heel. Suddenly my whole lesson about Jesus and his miracles- feeding the 5,000, healing the lame and the lepers- raising the dead- Jesus doing miracles because he loves us- suddenly I realize that in these stories- I am the pharisee. I’m so hyper focused on my own goals, my own agenda- my own righteous LESSON- that I just about missed the miracle, the love, the thing that my Lord was walking around doing for 33 years.
I look at my husband and he nods. We are both very, very aware of what Jesus would do. We know what He wants here.
Feed my lambs.
All I have is popcorn, but I pick up the bag and pour the rest of it on to her napkin, let it spill over onto her blank coloring page, and her face lights up in surprise. I reach for her cup and fill it to the brim with the juice. Next week I’ll come prepared with milk and apples and raisins and peanut butter for crackers.
I think about this a lot when I’m with people at church. You never know who’s hungry. We come as teachers with an agenda- and a good one! We’re supposed to teach the Truth, preach the Gospel, disciple the nations.
But if a boy or girl is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
Thanks for listening to my confession- both of my own sin and of how good God is. I’m so thankful that he led me to read James, I’m so thankful that the Spirit opened my eyes to let me be a part of what He was doing with his children. I’m so thankful that he loves Gracie enough to feed her, and he loves me enough to put up with my “help.”
I write fiction, you guys! My newest release is called CinderLouise. It’s a Sunday-Afternoon read for people who would like a little fairy tale, a little romance, and a little encouragement in their lives. It’s available on Kindle and in paperback, and soon on Audible! I’d love if you’d leave a review for me on Amazon or Goodreads! <3<3<3