What does it mean to follow Jesus? It means to live in a way that reflects Jesus’s life of service and love to others. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”
As we prepare for Easter, here is a video from our friends at “Chuck Knows Church” about an act of humble service and love:
Today “bless” was transformed to “less” as we consider the Lenten word “poor.” There is also the addition of wildflowers and a bird…as we consider the following text about our worry for money:
“24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
(This is Matthew 6:24-24 New International Version, thanks to BibleGateway.com, emphasis added.)
I live in a culture that is consumed with consumerism – there is a pressure to wear the right clothes, live in the right house and to stress about how much money one makes. All of this worry serves as a distraction from honoring God with our whole heart and trusting in the God who provides for us.
A way to help free yourself from the trap of worrying about your stuff is to learn to love having less stuff. How would your life be more blessed by giving away something that you have? What can you give away today?
Be blessed to be a blessing,
Jesus, keep me near the cross.
When I go to worship at church, the music tends to be accompanied with drums, guitars and keyboards. The sound is fairly modern. Today I am sharing with you a very traditional sounding old hymn with a beautiful message, perfect to remind us of the purpose of the Lenten journey toward Easter.
The lyrics are below:
1.Jesus, keep me near the cross;
there a precious fountain,
free to all, a healing stream,
flows from Calvary’s mountain.
In the cross, in the cross,
be my glory ever,
till my raptured soul shall find
rest beyond the river.
2. Near the cross, a trembling soul,
love and mercy found me;
there the bright and morning star
sheds its beams around me.
3. Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
bring its scenes before me;
help me walk from day to day
with its shadow o’er me.
4. Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
hoping, trusting ever,
till I reach the golden strand
just beyond the river.
It’s easy in our church quest to be “contemporary” and “relevant” that neglect to consider the words and theology of traditional hymnody. No matter your personal taste in music, it is important to remember why we are here. While we walk this earth, let us remember to keep our hearts forever near the cross, reminded of a God who loves us and grants us mercy.
What does it mean to “bless”?
First, a definition (edited from my friends at Google).
Bless- 1. (of a priest) pronounce words in a religious rite, to confer or invoke divine favor upon; ask God to look favorably on. 2. consecrate (something) by a religious rite, action, or spoken formula. 3. express or feel gratitude to; thank. 4. used in expressions of surprise, endearment, gratitude, etc.
Synonyms include praise, worship, glorify, honor, magnify, thank, appreciate.
Antonyms include curse and rue.
While these are the official definitions, I asked my eight year old daughter for her definition. Her response was, “to love.” I think she is on to something. When we want to bless God with our best, we can do this by loving God, loving others and loving ourself. We can demonstrate this through the words we speak and the actions we take. Who has been a blessing to you? How can you be a blessing to others today?
By the way, I decided to start a new canvas this week for the Lent challenge…not sure where it will go but praying that each step of the process is a blessing to others. :)
This is a day to remember the warmth of sunshine and to celebrate the rise of flowers!
As we spend Lent rethinking the practice of church, let today be a day you celebrate with the body of believers. “The Church” is not a building, it is the people. We grow in our faith as we celebrate and pray together. See you at the church building!
How are you practicing church? How do you live in a way that reflects the Light and Warmth of God’s love?
“All hail the power of Jesus’ name! Let angels prostrate fall;
bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown him Lord of all. “
Today’s word is “Powers” and I am reminded that our God not only loves us tenderly, God also loves us with powers that are greater than our minds can imagine. God is all loving, all power.
A prayer for today:
Dear God, loving Parent, I pray that today you bring healing to the hurt, peace to the worried, and joy to the sorrowful. Help me to remember that your powers are available to us – Fill us and strengthen us!
In the name of the Almighty One, Source of power, Amen.
From Isaiah 40:31 (RSV):
“but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Waiting. What are you waiting for?
In my Pastoral Self-Care class Thursday, we spent five minutes doing absolutely nothing. We uncrossed our legs, sat still, concentrated on our own breathing. Just a few minutes of intentionally doing nothing.
I am reminded that, if we do not intentionally set aside the time to sit and wait, to listen for what God might have for us to hear, we will miss out. Not only will we miss out on what it is God is trying to speak into our lives, but we also miss out on the opportunity to renew our strength. By not taking the time to wait, we essentially sign up to our own weariness and faintness.
Waiting on God is hard. My first career was in sales and my favorite motivational speaker was Zig Ziglar. I can’t find the exact quote, but I remember him telling a story about someone being frustrated and his asking what the problem was. Essentially the problem was the same as it always is…”I’m in a hurry, and God’s not.” God’s sense of timing is different than ours. It’s helpful to remember that God often asks us to wait….I think it matters that we don’t fill our life and our schedules so much that we miss the answers because we are distracted by our own busy-ness.
Waiting. What are you waiting for?
Place. Where is your hiding place, your refuge in times of trouble?
From The Book of Psalms:
Of David. A maskil.
1 Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
6 Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
will not reach them.
7 You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
9 Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.
11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!
(Psalm 32 NIV from Biblegateway.com)
On my painting above, I put maps and a part of the hymn “God of the Earth, the Sky, the Sea” on this layer. Part of the layer is hiding the person on the painting – showing that the person is hiding from the things of this world. There are so many things going on in the world that one might want to hide from…violence, hatred, wars, sickness, and more.
The Good News is that God can meet us in those places where we feel afraid. God can be our refuge in our times of trouble. I pray you seek God and find comfort there today.
One of my favorite ways to refresh my spirit is through finding time to paint. The picture with this blogpost began as a 12×12 art canvas board that I was just using to practice techniques on. In the spirit of mixed media art, I am hoping to make time to build on it throughout Lent to echo the themes. The art, just like the artist, will evolve through the next few weeks as we journey to Easter.
Today’s theme word is “Remember.” When I hear that word in the context of church, the verse Luke 23:42 comes to mind:
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
These are the words of one of the criminals hanging beside Jesus during the crucifixion. I hear the words and I can hear in my mind the sound of a chorus of Texas Youth Academy youth and adults singing the phrase repeatedly during morning worship. We long to be remembered, there is a deep need within each of us to be remembered not only in Christ but in the hearts and minds of others.
Do you ever think about what your legacy will be? Who will remember you? What will they remember?
May the God who never forgets you, bless you and keep you today.
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”
One of may favorite images to paint is a path. As we each wander our way through life, we seem to be on a winding, glorious, sometimes messy journey. There are people who will enter into our paths, walk with us a while, and then move on. Some people will mean more to us than others, some we may even wish we never met. There will be times when we wait, times that are hard when we will want to stop, times when it’s really a struggle.
The real beauty is that we have both a journey and a destination to look forward to in the end. During Lent, we journey like Christ journeyed to His cross.
Things to think about:
As we go down this Lenten road together, are you walking or running? Which way are you facing? Toward the cross or away? Who or what do you need in your life to make this journey?