Monday, December 27, 2010

The Cross...

      Well, in my search of Mary, the next place I found her is at the cross, so that is where I am today.  It makes sense to me when I think about it, that Mary would not be mentioned in other places because Jesus is grown up and not living with Mom and Dad anymore.  What a great example for us right?  Now, I know there are some valid reasons for people still living with their parents after they are adults, but I think that if you can work and live on your own then do it.  With that being said here is Mary at the cross...

John 19:25-27
      This passage is not very long, so I read some of the proceeding verses to get a good idea of what John had to say about the crucifixion.  What a painful and terrible thing it was.   I cannot imagine standing by to watch.  As a kid, we would often watch the "Jesus" movie (kids version) at Easter time.  I couldn't even watch the crucifixion scene in the movie.  I can't imagine what it would have been like to see it in person.  Then to think He did it for me.
       Then I think about Mary.  I am not a mother, so I do not claim to know exactly how Mary would have felt.  I think I can come close and as I think of some of the children I have babysat for and grown to love.  I would do anything to protect them.  I can't imagine watching one of them die and I'm not even their mother.  We don't hear anything from Mary, in this passage, but we do see the last words that Jesus said to her.  It was basically Jesus making sure that someone would take care of her after He was gone.  He said to Mary "woman behold your son" and to John "behold your mother."  And there Jesus goes again, setting an example for us.  I think that it is important that children make sure that their parents are taken care of and cared for as they get older.  My parents have been taking care of me for the last 21 years, and it continues to be that way until I get married in May.  Yes, I make most of my own decisions and basically live on my own, but they still check in on me and make sure I am cared for.  I think it is the least I can do to return the favor and care for them when they get older.
      I think too, that this was another way Jesus could show that he loved her.  When was the last time you told your parents you loved them? or maybe a better question is, Do you love your parents?  I know I do, and I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.

I love you mom and dad! :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A wedding, some wine, and a woman...

      Today I read the story of the wedding at Cana where Jesus turns water into wine. Sorry, to anyone who doesn't know the end of the story, I just spoiled it for you. :)  The wedding thing may not exactly go along with Christmas, but it is pretty appropriate for this point in my life! (Note to self: have enough to drink at the reception.) So here it is...

John 2:1-11
      The passage begins by telling us that there is a wedding in Cana and Mary is there.  Then the next verse says Jesus and his disciples are invited as well.  Then they ran out of wine. So what does Mary do?  The first thing she does is go tell Jesus.
      I think it is interesting that she doesn't exactly request anything, but just drops a subtle hint.  Isn't that such a woman thing to do?!?!  I laugh just thinking about it. But seriously, that is EXACTLY what we do.  Well, I know I do it.  Instead of "would you mind taking out the trash?",  we say it as a statement like, "The trash is full."  Other things I'm sure I've said are "the laundry is done", "Ice cream sounds really good", "My van really needs to be washed" or "My van needs gas."  The list goes on and on.  Jerrod tells me all the time that he doesn't get subtle hints, I should just tell him what I want him to do, but I just think it is part of being a woman.  I would rather hint than come right out and say it sometimes, maybe because I don't want to seem like I'm nagging or something.  I don't think it is a sin, necessarily, to subtly hint at things, but I know I do need to be careful of what my motives are behind the request
      If I want help, why don't I just ask for help?  Is it a pride thing? Do I want people to think I am a "big girl" and I can do it all by myself?  I think sometimes that is it.  In those cases I need to admit that I can't do it on my own and humbly ask for help.  The truth is that if I am trying to do little things by myself that means I am going to try to do big things by myself too.  Then I have a problem on my hands, because I am forgetting then, that I need God.  No matter how big or small a problem is, or if life is going great.  I still need Him.  The other motive I sometimes have is laziness.  I might be just plain tired and don't feel like doing it myself.  I think that this kind of attitude is wrong.  There is a difference between someone seeing how tired I am or whatever and offering to help, as opposed to me wanting to get out of work and asking someone else to do it for me. Now, sometimes I really am too tired (more like exhausted) to be able to do much, or too sore or in pain, but most of the time, I just don't feel like doing it.  I think that motive can be wrong.  Now there may be other motives that other people may see in their lives for this subtle hint thing, but these are what I see in my life.  Ok, back to the story...
      So Mary does her little subtle hint thing.  She doesn't ask Jesus to do anything, just states a fact as us, women like to do.   Jesus basically responds by asking what it has to do with him, and telling her that it is not time yet.  I think it's neat that Mary doesn't argue with Jesus, but she is not about to give up.  So she gives a warning to the servants.  I can just imagine the motherly look I'm sure she gave them that said they better listen to her or else.  Then she told the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them to do.  Call it womanly intuition or whatever you like, but I think that Mary had a feeling that Jesus would not just let the party go without wine.  He was going to have to do a miracle.  And He did.  He turned the water to wine, which I'm sure is a pretty easy thing for God to do.  This was Jesus' first miracle.
      Well, what can I learn from all this? First of all, I am going to try to watch what my motives are behind my subtle hinting.  What can I learn from the rest of the story.  One thing that hit me is that Mary didn't argue.  She didn't put up a fuss when Jesus didn't exactly give her the answer she was probably expecting.  Would I do the same thing? Do I?  Not always, I'm sure, but I would like to be able to say that I don't try to argue with God.  If I really think about it, He is going to win anyway, so why do I try to fight it?  I know His plan is best, but sometimes it is hard to really grasp that concept and let go of control.  But I know I need to do it.  That is definitely something I can work on.  The last thing I noticed is that it said in the last verse that the disciples believed in Him.  Do I believe in Him?  Ok, yes, I am saved and I believe in Jesus and what He did for me and all that, but do I really make that belief a reality in my life daily.  Do I live differently as a result of what I believe.  If I truly believe what I say I do, I think my life should change and be different.  So is it?

P.S. For those of you reading this, I hope it makes sense.  It is just my thoughts put down, and I know sometimes it seems like I am all over the place.  I think that when I go back and read it too!  Hopefully some of it makes sense.  :)  Merry Christmas! Remember: Don't leave the baby in the manger...

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Baby in the Manger

      During the Christmas Eve service at our church tonight, Pastor said something that really hit me.  He said, "This Christmas, don't leave the baby in the manger."  I stopped to think about that for a minute.  It's an amazing thought to me that Jesus, who is God, would be born as a baby, but so often I forget that there is so much more to the story.  Yes, it is an amazing thing that He would come as a baby, but even more amazing is what He did for me.  He died.  For me.  I think sometimes I forget how important it is, and what a terrible sinner I am, and how completely undeserving I am. I grew up in a Christian home and was saved at the age of seven; so, I wasn't saved out of a life of terrible sin.  None the less, the truth is that I am in need of a savior just as much as someone who has done those things I like to think of as really bad sins. ANY sin will keep us from heaven no matter how seemingly big or small.  
      So thinking of the big picture, Jesus came to earth as a baby so that 33 years later He could die for our sins.  Christmas is more than just Jesus as a baby. It is the beginning of the story about how our savior came to earth to die so that we could live.  What a story!  And it gets even better because He didn't stay dead.  He is alive!  And the gift of eternal life that he came to earth to pay for is FREE to us.  All we have to do is accept that gift. Just thinking that the birth of the baby that we will celebrate tomorrow is just the beginning of the story really helps to put it into perspective.  

Here is a video I found that kinda goes along with this.

Lost and Found...

Luke 2:41-52

      This is the passage where Jesus is a 12 year old boy and his parents leave him behind in Jerusalem.  I think it is interesting that it takes a whole day for them to realize that he is gone.  It is understandable since they were traveling with a group and he's a 12 year old boy.  What 12 year old boy wants to hang out with his parents all day, when he could be hanging out with his friends? No 12 year old boy I know would choose parents over friends.  So anyway, they realize he is gone and travel back, which takes a whole day.  This makes a total of 2 days that he has been "missing".  Then it says they found him in the temple after 3 days, which means they searched for 1 day before they found him in the temple to make a total of 3 days.  I can just imagine the panic Mary was going through.  
      I think it's funny because we know the end of the story.  I know that they find him in the temple teaching, and all of that.  But since I am studying Mary and trying to see things through her eyes, lets look at it from her perspective.  Mary realizes that Jesus is not with them. After going around to all their relatives she finds out that he is not traveling with them, and they've gone a whole day's journey.  I bet she did not get very much sleep that night.  I'm sure she was worried sick about him, and wondering how he was doing and if he had a safe place to sleep that night.  She was probably hoping no one had kidnapped him, and hoping he wasn't in any danger.  Then the whole next day is just them traveling back which probably was killing Mary.  She probably wanted to get back to Jerusalem as fast as possible.  Then when they get there it still takes them a whole day of looking before they find him in the temple.  Thinking about it that way, I can understand why she said the things she did to him.  
      Mary says to Jesus "Why have you treated us so?"  Which I think in modern english would be more like "What were you thinking?!?! Were you trying to give us a heart attack?!?!"  I think that is the idea of what Mary is trying to get across.  What mother wouldn't say something like that to her son who has been missing for 3 days? then she says "your father and I have been searching for you in great distress" which could be translated "We have been looking all over for you!"  I think that is exactly what I would say to my son if this happened to me.  Then he answers graciously, but it says that they did not understand.  But since Jesus was sinless, he did not argue with them. I am just trying to imagine a world where kids did not argue with their parents.  I am at home for Christmas break and being here with younger siblings still living at home, I remember are the ridiculous arguments that high school students can come up with to argue with their parents instead of just submitting to their authority.  That's what Jesus did. He was submissive and did not argue with his parents, but rather obediently followed their requests.  That is such a cool show of obedience.  and what an example to the rest of us.  It is not important to argue with our parents and make sure they understand our point of view on the situation.  Jesus didn't.  If anyone is going to have a good excuse for not doing what their parents said, it was Jesus, but he did not argue and demand answers.  He simply obeyed.  
      Then I like the second to last verse in the chapter.  It says once again that Mary treasured these things in her heart.  I just think it is so cool that even something as difficult as this was a moment and memory that Mary never wanted to forget so she treasured it in her heart.  

      What can I learn from all this... well, 1. I think it is important to remember that submission is a big deal to God.  Whether that means submitting to parents, husbands, or other authority figures,  submission is important.  It is even something that Jesus models for us, and if we truly do want to be more like him, then we will work hard to even be like him in the area of submission.  2. How often do I treasure things  in my heart?  and i don't mean like things I just want to remember, but things that God is doing.  The blessing I received from Carl yesterday was something I want to treasure in my heart for a long time.  There will come a time where I will have to face struggles, but I need to have some special God moments tucked away in my memory so that when those things happen, I have a time where I know God was faithful and I can look back to that. He really is a faithful God and he really is a great God to serve.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The beginning...

So, my goal here is just to share what God is doing in my life.  It is a way for me to organize and keep track of my thoughts.  Last week I started studying on Mary the mother of Jesus, and it has been really neat.  God is teaching me a lot.  Here is what I learned yesterday. It was so cool because after I wrote this, God gave me an opportunity to practice what I was preaching. So here is what I learned...

December 22, 2010
Luke 2:22-40

            This is the passage where Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple and they meet Simeon and Anna.  Verse 33 is where it talks about Joseph and Mary and it says “His father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.”  This verse comes right after Simeon’s dialog about Jesus to God.  I think it is interesting because they were new parents first of all, and not only that, but their child was God, the savior of the world.  I think I would be marveling too! 
            Then Simeon turns to Mary and says something just for her.  He tells her basically of what Jesus is going to do here on earth and the opposition he will face, and he says that she will also endure great sorrow.  Talk about an encouragement!  Simeon blesses God for letting him see the savior, and then turns to Mary and says “oh, by the way, your son is going to suffer and it is going to hurt you too.”  I think that would be very difficult to hear, but I’m sure Mary graciously listened and treasured it in her heart.  I’m sure she knew that being the Mother of the Messiah would not be easy.  I would guess that she was even more determined to enjoy and treasure these moments when he was young and she got to spend time with him and enjoy being with him. 
            Then Anna comes up and does the same thing.  The Bible doesn’t tell us what she said, but it does tell us some background on Anna.  It says that she was with her husband for 7 years before he died and then remained a widow until this point when she is 84 years old!  She spent her days worshiping and fasting in the temple.  She seems like quite the woman.  I can’t imagine marrying Jerrod and being with him for seven years then having him die. I would be a widow at 28 years old.  If things go according to plan we’d have one or two kids by then.  I would be a widow and single mother.  And then to remain single for the rest of my life and worship and fast all the time, I don’t know that I would be able to do that.   I know that it would be a very trying thing for me, but could I say that I would still be able to worship God and praise Him for that?  It would be hard, that’s for sure, but that is what Anna did.  She was rewarded for her faithfulness too and she got to see the Messiah first hand.  Then it says that she told everyone who was waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.  She told EVERYONE!  That’s how excited she was.  Do I get that excited about the things God does?  Do I share with everyone the blessings He gives to me?  I could turn this into a “do you share the gospel” speech, but I think that we get a lot of that.  Not that it is not good to be reminded that we need to share the gospel, because I know I am guilty of not doing it enough, but I think for now I am going to take a little different route. 
Anna was not only sharing that she saw the messiah, but she was sharing a blessing God had given to her.  When was the last time that I received a blessing from God? When was the last time I shared with someone the blessing I had received?  I think that there are two parts to this.  First of all do we recognize the things God is doing in our lives?  I know for me, that sometimes I just take those things for granted.  My dad just got a good report on his CAT scan.  That is a blessing from God that I can share.  No matter how big or small I think that there are things every day that God does for us, that we should recognize and be thankful for, but yet we are so selfish that we just expect God to do things like that for us and don’t give him credit.  What a selfish attitude to have. 
The second part is then sharing those blessings.  Once we are able to recognize the blessings he does for us, then we can and should share them with others.  I think that this is a great way to be a testimony to others of the things God has done for us.  Some people we come in contact with or know, are not open to hearing a gospel presentation.  Those people are the ones that need to see the gospel lived out in our lives.  Share with them what God is doing in your life! I say this for myself too.  I don’t always share with people around me what God is doing because I don’t want them to think I’m weird for giving God credit for something so simple or I’m being proud and wanting them to see all the great things God is doing in my life.  I need to remember that God knows how many hairs are on my head, so why would he not do little things in my life?  Those little things are obviously important to God.  I also need to remember that as long as I have the right attitude it is not pride when I share what God is doing in my life.  Sometimes I think that because I know that when other people share things God is doing I get jealous.  Why can’t God make my school bill disappear? Or why can’t my family get a really nice car given to them? Why? Why? Why?  That is jealousy and it’s wrong.  It is the wrong attitude.  The truth is that I should be happy for what God is doing in other people’s lives, not jealous and asking why he doesn’t do that for me.  In all honesty, I don’t want everyone else’s lives, I just want the same blessings and I want to play God.  That is wrong. “He’s God and I’m not.” It’s something Pastor Wingate says and I definitely need to hear it a lot.  I need to recognize God is bringing things into my life that are going to shape me into the woman he wants me to be. I asked for it!  I can share the blessings he is giving me with a humble heart and attitude and I can rejoice with others over what he is doing in their lives as well. 
So then we leave the temple as Mary, Joseph and Jesus head back to Nazareth, their hometown.  I guess my two main points for today are 1. Recognize the blessings in your life and 2. Tell others about those blessings.  Live out the gospel.  That is going to be something I will have to work on, but I know it will be neat once I do start to recognize the blessings God gives me.  

So after all this, I was loading up my van all morning so that I could drive home for Christmas after work.  I finished loading and was ready to leave for work and when I tried to turn on my van it wouldn't start.  I called several people trying to find someone still in town and available to help me and Carl came to my rescue.  He came a jumped my van (I think the battery died b/c I had the doors open all morning as I was packing) and as I was pulling out he noticed I was leaking transmission fluid.  So I drove to the auto parts store and he met me there.  I stayed out with the van and kept it running and he went in and got the stuff.  once everything was fixed and he said I was good to go I asked how much I owed him, because I was going to pay him back for whatever he spent on the stuff for my van.  When I asked that he said, "Nothing. I am not going to let a girl pay for stuff for her car." We said good bye and I got in my van and just thought "Wow, what a blessing."  It was so cool!  God gave me an opportunity to recognize a blessing in my life and was waiting to see me share it with others.  On my way to work then, I called my mom and Krisanna to tell them about my blessing.  Something as simple as that can be such a blessing, and I am so thankful God allowed me to see it as a blessing and share it with others!