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eggs

I heard part of a sermon on marriage yesterday and something the man said, well, as my oldest daughter would say, “punched me in the face.” The preacher said, “Marriage provides the security to deny independence.”

As I drove on, I heard the concept of self-sufficiency come up three more times in different ways and I really felt that the Lord was pressing this idea upon my heart.

All I could think of was our culture’s obsession with individualism and independence.  Beyonce made a song about it a decade ago and I still cringe every time I hear it.  The message?  I do not need you, man.  I do not need anyone.  I can get it all on my own and I prefer to be that way.  Independence is power and I need nothing else.  Self-sufficiency and independence are not only idols, but gods of the majority in our culture today.

But what is the alternative?

Dependence.  Needing others.  Needing help.  Trusting another person with the deep things as well as the daily.  From finances to feelings, many marriages fall by bowing to the god of independence.  Dependence is not popular, at least not here in pull yourself up by your bootstraps, independent America.

It got me to thinking about not only my own marriage, but the fact that Christ chose the church to be his bride.  He chose marriage as the symbol of his relationship towards his people.  Dependence is a huge part of being a Christian.  Oops. There I go again saying things no one wants to hear.  The truth is that no one can be saved apart from total dependence on the work of Christ.  No one can live in line with the gospel apart from dependence on Christ.

I have two examples stirring in my mind to illustrate these realities: the insecure wife and the overprotective mom.

The Insecure Wife

I have never been a particularly good cook.  I’m not as bad as I used to be but, well, ok I suck at cooking for the most part.  I remember early in our marriage, my husband would often stop at his mom’s house to eat on the way home from work.  One could hardly blame him, and a lot of it was just part of transitioning from being a 19 year old at home to a 19 year old in his own home, but as a new wife it was very discouraging.  Often I would avoid cooking altogether because I did not want to risk rejection over it again.

As time went on and when I did cook, he would come into the kitchen and offer “suggestions.”  I am not sure if that was more or less worse than just not showing up, but it did not make for happy meals.  I would not take his advice because I was proud.  I would not take his advice because I was insecure.  Instead, I would get mad feeling like a failure and wondering why he just could not see my effort.

Now, when he walks into the kitchen and offers help, I pinch myself to see if I am dreaming.  I am grateful and welcoming his help.  I delegate as much as possible when my husband comes in to give me assistance.  When I place a meal in front of him – even if it is sub-par, he compliments and thanks me.

What changed?

The maturity level changed.  We stopped clinging to the independence and selfish rights we believed we had.  His suggestions transformed from condescension to servant-hood.  My focus changed from duty, obligation, and approval to how I can best please the one I love.

My error with cooking was one of inexperience, insecurity, and ignorance.  There is another way to err on the opposite side of this coin, though.  It is realized in trusting in self as well.  Have you ever seen a helicopter mom?

The Helicopter Mom

This is the overprotective mom who does absolutely everything for her (often only) child.  The child does not fail because mom never allows him to get that far on his own.  She does literally everything in order to “protect” him and create a facade of having a responsible child or, even, husband.

When a woman does this in her family, she frustrates and cripples her children.  She disrespects and emasculates her husband.  When she does this at work or in the church, she exacerbates those around her and they give up trying to contribute.  This woman does not understand that responsibility must be given in order to be learned.

There are many people who never get to maturity regarding dependence.  Both in marriage and in the church, we often get stuck in the “I need help but do not want it” martyrdom camp because of pride or insecurity or both.  We fail to realize that dependence is paramount.  It is never a matter of needing help vs. being able to do things individually as much as it is a matter of reflecting our dependence and need for Christ by recognizing our dependence and need for other people.  It is a rejection of the idol of self-sufficiency and an acceptance of a faith which requires humility.  Humility hears suggestions as help rather than hate or hurt.  This is counter-cultural.  No one is teaching their daughters to depend on a man these days – and perhaps for good reason.  No one is teaching women how to let their children fail for the greater good of learning responsibility anymore.  But the church must not forsake the practice of interdependence and learned responsibility based on cultural norms.

Maturity is often rooted in dependence.  The world will tell you just the opposite.  Dependence is often rooted in maturity.  The world will tell you just the opposite.  When we throw away the idols of insecurity, pride, approval, individualism, and self-centered thinking, our families – both church and home – will thrive.

flies2

The fourth plague God brings upon Egypt is swarms of flies.  Each plague becomes more unique and makes any thought of coincidence become more ridiculous.  The last could not be reproduced by the magicians and this one affects only the Egyptians.

Moses is commanded to go to to Pharaoh early in the morning and warn of the coming flies.  He also differentiates this time and tells Pharaoh that none of God’s people will be afflicted.  If there were any doubt before about whether this is an act of an Almighty God, now there is none.  He alone commands both nature and all creatures of his creation.

What must it have been like to be Moses in this whole thing?  No sleeping in for this guy.  First thing in the morning he had to go to the most most powerful, prideful guy he knew and…have breakfast?  No.  Brown-nose?  No.  Offer a gift?  No.  He had to challenge him.

Yes.  Challenge him.  Moses went first thing in the morning to give the big man on campus yet another ultimatum.

In today’s day and age God’s people often won’t even challenge false teaching in their own circle of friends and family from the comfort of their own home!  I guess it kind of shows us how far away from truth we’ve really come.  God’s people must not fear man over God.

So Moses does exactly what he is told.  Pharaoh begins to negotiate.  Rather than refusing, he offers Moses a “deal.”  He tells him that they can sacrifice to God but they cannot leave.  He tells them to do the sacrifice in Egypt rather than in the wilderness as God instructed.

Moses says no.  People of God cannot compromise when God has commanded them.  Moses knew the compromise was disobedience and that it would likely get God’s people killed in the process.  So Pharaoh offers another deal saying, “Go, but not too far.”  Moses agreed and prayed for God to remove the flies.

When Pharaoh felt relief, he reneged once again and did not keep his word.  He would not let God’s people go.

If we learn anything from these events it is that compromise is one of the Enemy’s favorite schemes against God’s people.  If he can just get us to agree a little bit, on his terms instead of God’s, he has won and he knows it.  As we see here, compromise leads to death.  Moses teaches us not to fall for it lest we die.

God is in control of all things.  Funny how when he commands flies they listen but when he commands men they don’t.

lice

In Exodus 8:16-19 we find Moses and Aaron bringing God’s third plague upon Egypt.  First they’d brought blood, then frogs, and now lice.  Lice covered both men and animals in all the land of Egypt.  These plagues affected both the Egyptians and the Israelites who were enslaved in Egypt at the time.

Consider the trouble and disgust of that reality for a moment.  Tiny bugs crawling all over you, your friends, everyone you know, and every animal.

Unlike the first two plagues, this time the magicians could not reproduce it.  This time even they acquiesced to the fact that this must be the working of God Almighty.  Still, as with the first two plagues, the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart remained.

Imagine what the Egyptians were thinking.  They had to have been starting to wonder about why all the bad luck was coming their way.  The people of Israel had to have been upset, too, wondering why they had to endure these pestilences when they weren’t the ones disobeying God.  Nevertheless, God worked it out for their good (freedom from slavery), his glory (proving his power over all of nature and humanity), and Egypt’s judgement (the loss of their firstborn and eventual loss of life in the waters).  Amazing how he does all three with the same events.

God is sovereign over all things that happen in this life.  Whether good or bad, he alone has control over all of them.  God creates unfavorable circumstances for many different reasons.  If you do not know or obey him, he uses them to call you to repentance.  That is mercy.  If you do know and obey him, he uses them to prove your faith genuine and show his glory through you in the world.  That is mercy, too.  God’s mercy does not always feel like mercy when we are in the situation he is providing in our lives.  This is how we learn to trust him more, though.

When going through unfavorable circumstances, look to God.  Examine yourself for sin and repent if need be.  If no sin is evident, rest knowing that whatever God is providing – no matter how good or bad it may be – is for your ultimate good.   This is what the plagues of Exodus show us about the ways of God.

Hero vs. Haters

authority

In John 11, Jesus raised a man from the dead.  Jesus raised a man FROM. THE. DEAD.  Just so we all get the magnitude of that, let’s consider it for just a moment before moving on to what followed.  Jesus raised a man, who was already dead for four days, back to living, breathing, walking, talking life status.

Ok.  So Lazarus had been dead for four days when Jesus called him out of his grave.  There could be no mistaking this act as a coincidence or a trick.  Everyone who had seen or heard about this act knew it was a miracle.  Yet in John 11:45-57, we find different reactions to the miracle.

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. ~John 11:45-47

 

Some Jews believed and followed Jesus.  Other Jews tattletaled to the religious leaders.  These men did not believe in Jesus or they would have been described along with the Jews “who believed.”  They believed Jesus could do miracles because they saw proof of Jesus’ resurrecting power right before their very eyes.  But these guys did not believe in or follow Jesus.

Just so we’re clear, here we have two groups of people.  Same ethnicity.  Same upbringing.  Same socioeconomic status.  Same town.  Same schooling.  Same family traditions.  Same religious background.  Same everything!  Yet two different groups.  Believers and unbelievers in Jesus rolled together into a big Jewish ball of people.  By all appearances these people “look” exactly the same.  But they are not.  These outwardly same people could not be more different.

Even the religious leaders owned the truth of Christ’s miracles (John 11:47) but that did not lead them to faith in him.  What did it lead them to?

48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. ~John 11:48-53

These guys were on a mission to stop Jesus.  Why?  Because he was better at being God’s representative than they were and they knew it.  Instead of following, listening, learning from, and becoming more like him for the sake of their own character and growth, they chose to hate and avoid him.  They were not concerned about people turning away from sin and knowing God.  They were concerned about people turning away from them and knowing them as the leaders.  They said they feared for their “place” and their “nation” and that because of Jesus, Rome would come take both.

The truth was that they feared that Jesus would take their place.  Rome had no contest or concern with a man doing good works and teaching people to love one another – they did.  They were not scared, they were jealous.  Jesus showed them up and exposed their gross ignorance and hypocrisy every time he came around.  Therefore, they pretended to be afraid for the good of the majority to cover up their own fear, jealousy, and hatred of Jesus.

So, they take their “concerns” before the highest ranking religious leader of their day – the high priest.  Caiaphas responds arrogantly.  With a matter of fact attitude, he wields his authority by imposing a death sentence by mere virtue of his authority.

 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. -John 11:53

Many people in authority are corrupt.  It was true then.  It is true now.  It has been true every day in between. Corrupt authority is never more heinous than when found in the church – the very place where truth, love, and justice are supposed to be the governing authorities.

Whenever a person in authority becomes more concerned with others turning from them and their ideas than turning from sin and its vices, that person is no longer qualified to be a leader or and authority in God’s church.

Many in authority use deceit to cover their own insecurities.  The Pharisees pretended fear to cover bitter jealousy against Jesus.  If they had really been afraid upon seeing Jesus’ miracles, they would have repented!

People in authority often believe that others ought to think them the wisest simply because they are in authority.  Though it ought to be so, it often is not so at all.  When pomp and pride take over, that leader is no longer fit for service to anyone but self.

Some people want the truth.  Others want power, places, positions, and their own preferments.  Jesus appears to both.  He calls the one and ignores the other.  What we never see is Jesus competing.  He does not have to because he is doing all of that which he Father has commanded him.  When they go so far as to kill him, he obliges.  Jesus was never unaware of who he was dealing with.  He knew all along who hated and envied him and it never stopped him or made him insecure.

When you represent God well, people who pretend to represent God will be bitterly jealous.  People who are bitterly jealous will seek to discredit God’s true representatives by pretending fear, blackening your reputation, and stirring up false scenarios against you.  When you expose hypocrisy by being genuine, people who are pretentious will hate you.  When unrepentant, under-qualified, unjust people are placed in positions of authority, they will use their position against God’s people for their own selfish agendas.  They will act as if they are entitled to respect solely based on their position and despite their lack of true respectability.

If you are using a position of authority as your identity, repent.  If you are using a position of authority to build your own kingdom and protect your own place and position, repent.  You will only find yourself fighting against God and injuring his people.

If you are being mistreated by authority because of your good works, rejoice.  If you are being falsely accused, purposefully misrepresented, or wholly discredited by corrupt authorities, rejoice.  You are walking the same road Christ walked and you can rest assured that he will vindicate you in due time.

A Joint Race

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Runners like to zone out.  Getting in the zone is especially important for difficult or distance running.  As with many sports or intense activities, that place referred to as “the zone” is often the key to success.  It may determine whether you win, lose, or even finish.  An off day can often be chalked up to a lack of focus and inability to stay in the game.

 I always joke and say I’m not allowed to talk to my husband when he drag races.  I have learned to speak as little as possible out of respect for his need to stay completely focused and on task.

Sometimes not being distracted is extremely important – like with drag racing.  Sometimes the distraction itself is extremely important – like with distance running.  When laboring with serious intent, on one hand we need autonomy.  That’s the leave me alone zone.  On the other hand we need a neutral plan of action meant to distract us from the pain and push us to persevere without it feeling like punishment.  We can choose to make this zone a leave me alone zone, too…or we can actually choose to lean on the thoughts, needs, words, or even worries of another to help us finish the task before us.

I competed in the Mt. Summit Challenge Race this past weekend.  Well, participated is probably a better word for me this year.  Anyway, it is a 3.5 mile race straight up the mountain.  It is not the first time I’ve run it by any means and it certainly isn’t the longest or most difficult race I’ve ever run.  But it ranks.  It ranks up there among the races requiring an in the zone mentality.  If you are not all in, you are probably still on the mountain somewhere right now.

I had run up the course four times before the race over the past month or so and I am happy to say I did beat the goal I was striving for.  Though ten minutes slower than previous years, I needed some slack for this I just had another baby year.  So I feel really good about my slow time of 48 minutes.  I did not make it up alone, though.  I didn’t realize my goal without help.  The leave me alone zone only worked until the really hard part.  That’s the part of the race where you’re tired, you drank too much wine and ate too much food last night, your music is played out, you’re almost certain the feeling in your chest is legit heart failure, and you’re still climbing.  I had to find a way to get my mind off the pain or I was soon to be a spectator rather than a participant.  I texted my drag racer because I knew he would be able to speed me up.  “Tell me a funny story” was my plea for help.

He began to tell me about a dirt farmer and a beautiful girl who planted seeds on his dirt.  He told me how they made big messes and how their Master helped them clean up.  And they grew pickles and eggs and omelets and babies.  He sent me a picture of my baby, Sonny, and told me that that “egg” grew sonny side up.  I corrected his grammar and he encouraged me with good words all the way to the finish line.  I found myself laughing during the most difficult part of my race and smiling where I hurt the most.

That was this weekend, though.  Last weekend that dragster needed some encouragement of his own.  Last weekend my husband wrecked his drag car going 170 mph at the drag strip.  The first thing he did after realizing that he was still alive was turn off all the switches to cut the power, unbuckle his five point safety harness, and crawl out the window.  Even after rolling the car several times, taking out at least 50 feet of guard rail, and, by a miracle of God, not getting hurt or losing consciousness in the process, he was still in the zone.  He knew he had to do what he could to keep the car from getting fuel and catching fire and get out as quickly as possible just in case.  Because he is so tuned in to detail, all of his safety equipment worked and the Lord spared his life for his own purpose through those details.

A family from church came and brought us dinner even though he had no injuries.  The wife sat and talked with me about how thankful she was that his life was spared and her husband went and mourned the wreckage of a car he’d been working on since the age of 15 – a car his father gave him.  Another man from church brought Tylenol, cookies, and ice cream for the kids.  The pastor asked how he was several times throughout the week and talked with him about what it might mean in the grand scheme.

A friend told me just the other day that the gym is her church.  I know why without her saying it.  The people there love her, encourage her, teach her, and help her.  That is what feels most like family, especially to those who have no family.

 When I file these realities next to what we’ve been discussing in church about questions like, “Why should we even go to church?” and “Why not stay at home and be a lone Christian?”  I find the answer is crystal clear.  It is not that we cannot make it though life alone.  It is not even that we cannot be a Christian alone.  We can and we can.  What we cannot do is smile and laugh through the pain that life inevitably brings to each and every one of us.  Without encouragement, togetherness, help, and, yes, others whose main task from the Master is to cheer for us and we for they, life does not work as well.  The one-anothering theme is unmitigated throughout the entire New Testament and the focus on doing life in community is littered through the entire Bible.

Getting out of the leave me alone zone is crucial for Christian people.  Whether it is sharing our struggles, confessing our sins, or inviting others into our every day lives, we need one another.  This is how we glory God.  We must learn to encourage as well as or better than the world does with its own.  When the “family” that the gym has created among its members looks, feels, and sometimes even proves more attractive than the church family, we are missing the mark.  If you are a Christian, get out of the leave me alone zone.  Go to church.  Get involved.  Invest in others’ lives.  Serve them.  Listen to them.  Encourage them.  Love them.  Tell them a silly story when they hurt.  Remind them you are glad that they are alive.  Bring Tylenol and cookies.  Ask how they are and contemplate the possibility of intergalactic purpose.

Life is an intense activity.  Get in the zone and run with endurance the race the Master has marked out for you.

heart

I am indecisive.

He tells me to write something.

 I ask why.

 He reminds me that I like to.

 I oblige.  The following is the fruit of that exchange.

Sometimes it helps me when I write.  But sometimes it is hard.  Sometimes I am at a loss for how to say what is on my heart.  Sometimes I know exactly how to say it but I do not want to.  Pouring out your heart and soul and dreams and fears and failures on the daily is scary.  You either have to resolve to not care how people read you or you have to care so much that you resolve to make your scribblings absolutely perfect with a willingness to correct them when they misinterpret you.  Sometimes it just feels like no one is really listening anyway.  Like those things that mean the very most to you, those things you’ve said and written and tried six ways from Sunday to express go wholly unnoticed and unheard.  Writing is like shouting out to all the world your deepest feelings only to let them float unabashedly through the air.  And you’re waiting.  Waiting for someone – anyone – to catch them; hear them; learn from them; know God through them; seek him…and know you; understand you; feel you.

So often those words don’t work, though.  It is like you are pouring yourself out all the time and the only thing that keeps you from becoming empty is to keep pouring out.  Even still, after all the words have floated away for days and months and years on end, you are left wondering whether you are yet altogether unknown; misunderstood; unaccomplished.  Who knows where the words have gone?  The writer prays for the somewheres where they might have fallen.

Sometimes I do not know myself as well as I would like to.  Writing helps me know myself better.  It helps me understand myself and who I am and why I am feeling happy or sad or frustrated or lost.  It helps me organize my thoughts on God, on life, and on who I really am and what I know as truth.

There is one thing writing does not do, though.  Writing does not talk back.  As much as I try to personify my notebook, she remains silent.  Writing does not talk back.  It only listens.  It is lonely.  I guess that’s why I write a lot about the Bible.  It is like God is talking and I am listening.  My writing is just me telling the world what I heard.

I am happy that God has given me this gift to write but sometimes I am sad that I cannot seem to say things audibly instead.  I feel so closed and unable to speak freely sometimes; many times.  I do not know why I am so afraid.  The fear I feel when I think about talking out loud about what is in my heart is often so strong that it makes me almost run away and hide.  I am so afraid.  I want to pray and tell God so many things but I am afraid to say them out loud.  Saying them makes them real and maybe I just wish they were not real.  So I often just pray about being able to pray.  I do not run away anymore.  I stop and I write it down instead.

I guess my biggest fear is rejection. That God or men will hear what is in my heart and what is most important to me and throw it away.  Or not care.  Or disregard it altogether.  Or hate me for saying it.  But why would I think that?

I think it because it is what happened to the most right and truthful one of us all:  Jesus.  It is what has been happening to me in many ways my entire life.  Because people reject truth and lack grace, I distrust and doubt the God who made them and somehow believe he will do that same thing.  Once I gave a man a paper with the gospel and he physically threw it down and trampled it in front of me.  But if I trust the God of the Bible I believe that even that kind of act – be it physical, relational, or otherwise – is a blessing working in my favor.

I digress.

Vulnerability is what the writer’s heart is made of.  Vulnerability is what God’s heart is made of.  He, too, chose written words to deliver his deepest messages to us.  He sent the One He loved most and watched him suffer in order to save.  And people throw his best efforts away.  We do not care about his words like we should; sometimes not at all.  We disregard Him altogether.  Some hate Him for saying  his best words and we even crucified his exact representation.  Yet, He spoke them still.  He speaks them still. He sent Him still.  He sends us still.

Maybe my written words will somehow send those same messages to someone.  The messages of love and forgiveness and grace and truth.  Maybe I will suffer long to find those just right words I have been called to write.  Maybe He will save through them; through Christ in me.  I dare to believe that hope every single day. It is the often only thought that keeps me from utter discouragement.  I lift my pen and let the words float away in greatest hope and terrible fear.  My prayer is ever, “God, please bless this trembling writer’s work once again.”

Seat Savers

fave

I’m not much of a seat saver.  Church people usually are, you know?  I will never forget the look I got early in my Christian life when I tried to sit where some pristine seats had been “saved.”  From that day on, I never wanted to be that person.  I never want to reject someone based on preference.  I never want to reject someone, period.  I know how it feels to be rejected.  My entire life up until that point felt like a string of grimacing faces telling me that those seats were “saved.”  People do not have to say it.  Partiality is something a person can feel without words ever being said.  Think of middle school.  You get me?  I refuse to participate in that sickness.

The Bible has a word for this.  It is termed “favoritism.”  Favoritism.  When my favorite things are more important than your salvation, your sanctification, you altogether, we have a problem, Houston.  Some see the passage about the gold ring vs. the man with shabby clothing and they say, “Oh I’m good. I help the poor; I love the poor…etc.”  But favoritism is so much more complicated than rich vs. poor.  Favoritism finds ways to sneak subtlety into many cliques and corners and creep around under a guise of good will in the church.

“You can’t sit here.  I’m saving these seats for someone special.  I’m saving my time for someone special.  I’m saving my words for someone special.   I’m saving my story for someone special.  I’m saving my Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for someone special.  I’m saving my sadness for someone special.  These parts of me are for strictly for the someones I want to sit next to; the someones I love.  And those someones are not you.”

No, this is not just about physical seats.  It is about making a place in our lives for others.  Others that are not our favorites.  Do we?  Do I?

I try.  Oh!  How I try!  I will be there if I can.  If it is humanly possible, I will be there for you.  So much so that I am often not there for me.  It is not because I need more friends.  I do not even want more friends.  God knows I cannot keep up with everything and everyone I am called to now.  But there is something I need.  I need you to know I am there for you.  I need you to know that I am someone you can count on.  I need you to know that I am in your corner.  I need you to know that what is important to you is important to me.  I need you not to know what it feels like to be me when I was told those seats were saved.  I was embraced so fully by the love and mercy of Christ that I want to always purpose my life around embracing others despite my skewed, selfish, sinful preferences.  I fail, too.  But this is the goal, and this is what Christ did for me.

Many times being chosen for those saved seats – whether it be friendship or service or help or acknowledgement or position, has little to do with gifting, experience, talent, or craft.  Most often it has to do with preference, comfort, self-interest, and safeness.

Jesus did not build his church on a premise of safeness.

Jesus did not build his church on a premise of safeness.  On the contrary, he built his church on his own pain, selflessness, sacrifice, and then, just to prove who was in charge, he chose the most volatile creatures of all to lead it – men like Peter who was a hothead full of pride, and Paul who was previously a murderous enemy.

I fear that we, as Christians today, have gone the way of our pagan neighbors and filled life full of favorites.  We have filled our lives so completely full of favorite things, people, activities, and selfish sedentary “stuff”that we simply have no margins.  We haven’t time or space for anything other than that and those which we already love.  In so doing, we have left our brothers and sisters no place to sit in our lives.  We are grimacing when they ask for a place at our table or invite us to theirs.  We are refusing based on preference, past, pride, and personal problems.

Furthermore, we are audaciously expecting those unfavorite people to come to us, to believe our ideas,  and to support and encourage our agendas.  We think that because we invite someone to some of our favorite things on our favorite terms, they will come.  We haven’t preached the gospel.  We have simply done the same as the world.  We are doing our favorite things with our favorite people and putting God’s name on it.

God is bigger than that.  He is bigger than our three friends and their ideas.  He is impartial.  He is fair.  He is inclusive.  He is unselfish.

Jesus sat in the least favorite seat with the least favorite people at the most inconvenient time.  He is there.  He shows up, not because he needs more friends, but because he values and loves people more than he loves himself, his comfort, his safeness, and his favorites.  He made himself poor so we could be rich.  He made himself nothing so that we could be something.

I guess that is why Jesus said take the lowest seat; the last place at the table.  Let the prideful revel in their “good” seats.  For they are not good.  Good seats often miss a good God when he moves because the heart is fixed on the self rather than the sacred.

Wait to be asked to move up.  With some it will never happen.  The fear that the enemy brings is that I will remain sitting at the last table, standing at the end of the line, and that I am utterly insignificant.  Jesus says that’s ok.  This is where Jesus stood.  He stands here still.  Despised, rejected, Jesus holds our hands and invites us to more, to what is most, to where he is from that place.  God will move or he will move you up by his authority and power.

Jesus was not a seat saver.  Jesus was a soul saver.  Be like him.

 

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