Monday, September 30, 2013

Worshipping God

A little over a week ago Jon had the opportunity to preach on a Sunday night. He did a great job, but an unexpected lesson that has really stuck with me from that evening was something my four-year-old said. About halfway through the sermon, in typical four-year-old style, she leaned over and whisper shouted with great enthusiasm "Daddy is worshipping God!" I gave her a little smile and put my finger over my lips to remind her we weren't supposed to be talking.

But the comment stuck with me. So much so that I wrote it down at the bottom of my page so I wouldn't forget it later.

Over the years I have heard numerous pastors, teachers, and leaders remind their listeners that when we come to church, worship doesn't stop when the music ends. Corporate prayer is an act of worship. Giving our money is an act of worship. And, yes, the preaching and studying of God's Word is an act of worship. In fact, every aspect of our lives should be an act of worship.

Somehow, in that moment, my young child got that. She saw her daddy on stage, talking about the Bible and teaching what it says, and she felt compelled to tell me that daddy was worshipping. Perhaps to remind me that every aspect of my life should be worship too. Not just the moments when I'm listening to praise music in my van or talking to God in prayer. Not just the moments when I'm reading His Word or sharing His Truth with others. But every moment.

Standing in a long line with three energetic kids in a store should be an act of worship. Assisting someone who interrupts my planned schedule with a need or question should be an act of worship. Planning healthy meals and cooking for my family should be an act of worship. Even scrubbing spaghetti sauce off the wall behind my child's chair and scraping rock-hard cheerios off the floor should be an act of worship!  

Because worship isn't just a song on my lips or words from my mouth. Worship is a state of my heart. A heart that should be bowing down before our Mighty God who deserves more glory and honor and praise than our sin-prone lives could ever muster up. A heart that should recognize that caring for others and loving others is our calling and a way to show God we love Him.

Perhaps that's exactly what I need to remember this week. I was created to bring God glory and to worship Him with my life. And no matter what I'm doing, it should be an act of worship to my King.

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. AND WHATEVER YOU DO, WHETHER IN WORD OR DEED, DO IT ALL IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Col 3:16-17)

Lord, help me to do everything for Your glory. Help me to live each moment, especially the hard ones, as an act of worship to You. Help me to offer my entire self as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to You...may this be my spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1). 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Waiting on a Girl

A few weeks ago we found out this little one we're waiting on is a girl.
And this is what we've seen of her so far....

"Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these'." (Matthew 19:14)

We are praying that each of our children (including this one we have not yet met) will know and follow Christ for their entire lives, starting at an early age. Our goal is to be able to say with the Apostle John:

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (3 John 1:4)!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Serving Judas

We're trying to eat a healthier diet around here. And that means I'm doing a lot more cooking. But you know what I've learned? Cooking...real cooking, is hard work! It takes time and planning and lots more time.

And sometimes, people don't like what you slaved over! Early last week I made a dish that included artichoke heart. I won't tell you how long I stood in the grocery store looking for artichoke heart, but it got to the point that I actually called Jon and asked him to google "substitutes for artichoke" in case I never found it! Eventually I did find it, and I made the dish. One of my children asked if it was brain on her plate. Then I made a steak and onions dish, and someone asked if the cooked, sliced onions were squid. The next night I served a soup, painstakingly made with my own homemade chicken broth. The broth I had carefully seasoned with a variety of herbs and vegetables before it slow-cooked all night in my crock-pot. Of course, the kids questioned if there was grass in the soup the minute they saw the herbs. A few days later I gave them a smoothie with kale...more grass-related questions!  

Needless to say the kids did not like or appreciate much of my hard work! I gave them a long lecture about how I have never tried to feed them brain or squid or grass, and that its rude to make non-stop negative comments when someone has spent time cooking for you. Jon gave them a lecture about how they wouldn't be able to go places like Ethiopia with him if they weren't willing to try new things. They thought about that, let it soak in and replied with "its not the best meal you've ever made, but its not the worst either"! I mean, do you even say "thank you" to that?!?

But a few days ago, God impressed on me a very interesting point. Sometimes we are called to serve people who do not appreciate our work. I was studying through John 6 with a friend, and verse 64 really stuck out to me:
"For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him."

Jesus came to earth. He loved. He served. He taught. He sacrificed His time and His energy, and then He gave His very life. And very often His love, His time, His sacrifice was not (and still is not) appreciated. And I was reminded that Jesus served Judas. Jesus served one who was not only unappreciative, but would completely turn his back on Him and betray Him. 

Jesus knew what Judas would do, and yet he spent three years of His life in intimate friendship, patiently teaching and leading him. Jesus gently chastised Judas in John 12:7, and He lovingly washed Judas' feet along with the other disciples in John 13. When Jesus revealed that one of these twelve disciples would betray Him (John 13:22), those men had NO IDEA who He meant. Jesus had never treated Judas any different from the others. There was no clue in His demeanor, His attitude or His actions that He knew one of them was secretly plotting against Him.  

And I realized that I am also called to wash the feet of others (John 13:15). Not just serving those who appreciate and thank me, those who really want to learn and grow, or those who are easy to love. But Judas. I'm called to serve people who may be difficult. People who may not appreciate or want my service. People who may even turn against me.

After considering the weightiness of Jesus' ministry, betrayal and sacrifice -- all the way to the Cross -- it seems silly to return to a conversation about cooking. But sometimes its the little, seemingly silly circumstances in which it is most difficult to submit to the example of Christ. I must realize I'm not cooking for my family so that they'll love it or thank me or think I'm great at something. I'm cooking for my family because I'm called to follow the example of Christ; to love Him, bring Him glory, and model His character in every aspect of my life.   

And so, this weekend, when my kids asked if my whole-wheat, homemade pie crust was mud rolled out flat on the counter, I was able to smile, and think about Jesus...patiently serving even Judas.

Lord, help me to serve others today. Those I interact with in my home, neighborhood, work and community. Help me to love them with Christ's love, even if they're difficult, even if they complain, even if they seem like a Judas to me. Thank you that You loved, served and died EVEN FOR A SINNER LIKE ME! Help me to live like You.
"Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." (John 13:14-17)