I’ve missed you, friends!
I’ve written so many blog posts in the recent months… in my head. I really have been writing quite a bit, but the content has been specifically for Our Daily Bread Ministries so I haven’t had the ability to post more here. (If you’re not familiar with Our Daily Bread, please do check it out as an accessible yet thought-provoking daily devotional. Whether you prefer to receive them in print or through social media, they’ve got options! My devotionals will begin appearing in March of 2017.) I do hope you’re following me on Instagram and Facebook, too; when the radio is silent on the blog, you can usually count on something on those sites (but I still don’t seem to be able to Tweet).
I wasn’t sure I wanted to “share.”
I knew the tears would well up in my eyes. (Insert cursory feminine joke about mascara here.) And I haven’t known these women for very long, so tipping my emotional cards felt (extra) risky. We were discussing hypocrisy in the Christian life and how our social masks put an intimacy barrier between us and others. My story was relevant to the topic and even illustrated the point, all while pressing on tender parts of my heart.
Nobody wants to be a doormat.
Who could aspire to such depths? Weak. Passive. Feeble. These aren’t desirable personality traits.
This summer I’m using IF:Equip as my Bible study (join in; it’s free!). We’re slowing inching our way through the Beatitudes with accompanying passages. This week is a deep-dive on Matthew 5:5.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (ESV)
Nobody has ever accused me of being meek. (Though StrengthsFinder does argue that I have a Harmony strength. What??!) I’m opinionated and vocal. Without a strong leader to counter-balance me, I’ll run away with any project, committee or meeting I’m part of. So, these words of Jesus usually cause me to discount myself from being blessed or inheriting the earth. I don’t even want to be meek. But Jesus says the meek are blessed.
So shouldn’t I want to be?
Sometimes my actions defy logic.
Any man reading this would probably attribute that statement to the absence of a Y chromosome. Ha!
Given that I’m a linear thinker who relies on logic to make decisions, allocate time and [try to] parent my children, ignoring logic seems foolish. And it usually is. I’ve recently been studying Gideon’s story in the book of Judges. This meek man’s time as God’s chosen warrior depicts beautifully that His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). It has caused me to re-examine the areas of weakness in my life, temperament and faith. I didn’t have to look far to find the most glaring of weaknesses: my need for control.
It’s hard for me to imagine the Messiah coming in any other fashion than Jesus’ bodily form.
I think that’s because it’s the only way I’ve ever heard, or known, the story. A baby. In a manger. But when I stop to consider that God put on human flesh, I really can’t imagine that either.
Seriously. God. In bodily form. The One Who caused “the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear” (Genesis 1:9) walked upon its very soil. He Who designed our bodies to need nourishment ate meals with family, friends, “sinners” and disciples. Our God — limitless in power — temporarily limited Himself to live in our circumstances and culture. Jesus was willing to release the equality He shared with God (Philippians 2:6) to serve us.
I’m not sure I’d apply for the job.
The Levitical preisthood, descended from Aaron among the tribe of Levi, had a job I’m not convinced I’d want. When I reflect on their duties, I have a mixed reaction. One part of me esteems their role highly: what a privilege to be chosen among the thousands for such important duties. They taught and blessed the people. They led them toward God and interceded on their behalves. They entered the Holy Place in the tabernacle (and temple) and burned fragrant incense.
Another part of me experiences revulsion at what their daily duties entailed: the bloody sacrifices of animals for guilt offerings. (Do you think the teenage Levites from Aaron’s line dreaded adulthood and having to go into the family business?)
As a kid, December moved at a glacial pace. Christmas just took forever to arrive.
(Cue the dramatic sensibilities of a nine-year-old girl.) Of course, as an adult, this month almost gives me whiplash, it goes by so quickly.
This week I revisited the promises made to Abraham about the Messiah. God told him that all the nations would be blessed by him in Genesis 12:3. The very first Messianic prophecy was spoken to the patriarch of the Jewish faith.
If you signed up to participate in the Advent Bible study but didn’t get questions on Monday, please reply to this email and I’ll make sure your profile is updated. And it’s not too late to join us; sign up here.
The wise men of the nativity story have much to teach us…
…despite their fairly brief appearance on the pages of scripture. Not the least of which is the reason for the name of our Bible study. (Pop over to Facebook for a video explanation on that.) A short reading of of Matthew 2 reveals much about these men, even though it leaves a good bit unsaid. Three things for us to learn:
Know the Word.
These men — and we don’t actually know how many there were, we know only the number of gifts — obviously knew the Old Testament prophecies well enough to set out on a long journey in response to them. Perhaps their knowledge was as a result of Daniel’s or Esther’s influence in Persia from long before? They arrived in Jerusalem looking for the King of the Jews (a logical, but errant, assumption to find Him in the Jewish capital). Matthew 2:2 reveals their knowledge. The chief priests, then, in 2:5, quote Micah’s prophecy directly (Micah 5:2). The Magi knew enough to respond; the priests knew the very words of the prophet. We, too, must know the Bible well enough that we can readily recognize truth, and act upon it.
And I’m not proud of it.
Nor am I proud of quoting a Britney Spears song. But that’s beside the point.
Today in Bible study we looked at Colossians 3:18-4:18. This is one of those passages. One of the submit passages that induce eye-rolling and consternation across female populations. Our discussion time was rich; we grappled with the text and our culture.
And then it was time for me to teach it.
A few minutes into the lecture one of the ladies stood up and walked out.
It was almost comedic. Our outlook biases are so mismatched.
There we sat in her living room. Stacks of paper sequestered neatly in manilla folders, alongside a laptop and coffee mugs. We met to discuss the Bible study we’ve written and our next steps with it. (I’ll tell you more about the study another time, I promise.)
After plotting a loose project map and timeline, our dialog turned to what might come of this study… how God could use it to reach into hearts of women. I wish you could have heard it. Listen in on some clips of our conversation: