Puttin On a Few Extra Pounds

Today is one of those days you just gotta love. You’re just reading along in your Bible, or a Bible, or your tablet or your app, or whatever it is you use and KAPOW! you see something you never saw before! Today that thing had to do with pounds! Now, thankfully they were not pounds as in the kind I tend to put on and take off on a continuous cycle. Nope, these were pounds of spices.

My New Testament readings have me strolling through the book of John, and I absotootinlutely love that I have hit the Easter story section right as we are moving into the Easter season!!! Although it seems as though most days my brain hasn’t really been learning any new facts, my heart has been learning a ton. But today, well, today, that’s all changed. Because today I saw something I had never noticed before. . . . .

SEVENTY FIVE POUNDS. . . OF SPICES

Yeah, seventy-five pounds, and some translations say one hundred!!! Either way, that’s a whole lot of spices! Nicodemas and Joseph of Arimathea were hauling them them to to the tomb after Jesus’ death. You might remember that J.O.A had been a secret disciple of Jesus, and ole Nick at Night, well he didn’t really want anyone knowing he had questions about all this born again stuff either. But here they were, the two of them, wth Pilate’s permission, using their own resources to take Jesus’ body, place it in a tomb and begin to prepare it for burial.

Now, no matter how you shake it, 75 pounds is a lot of anything to carry around. And yet, these once secret followers, are headed right out of town carrying the spices and cloths necessary to lay Jesus to rest–but this would be no permanent rest. We all know that He was just going to be resting for a few days before He would, in His mighty power, rise from the dead, folding up His dirty laundry and rollin that rock like it had never been rolled before.

And the interesting question is, “Why in the word did they need so many spices?” Well, they didn’t. Not really. Some experts believe that may have been enough spices to bury up to 200 people. But. . . .and this is a big but. . . .if you were somebody important, somebody special, somebody of royalty, like maybe a king, then you got a lot of spices. Sometimes 75-100 pounds of spices!!!! How cool is that?!

I love that they got it! Nick and Joe got it! They knew He was King. They knew He was the Messiah, and what’s more, they responded accordingly with their hearts, time and resources. Although they didn’t exactly know how, I believe they knew they would be seeing Him again. My prayer today from this 75 pound nugget of Scripture is that I would live my life, and that you would live yours, in the same manner. Like Joseph of Arimathea and the infamous Nicodemus, once we figure out for ourselves who Jesus is, that we would respond to that truth with all of our heart, our time and our resources every day until we see Him again.

Monster Cookies

Recently my friend, Heidi, was making a batch of monster cookies for me. We sort of got our wires crossed–not too hard to imagine for either Heidi or me–but as a result, the cookies got made just after I needed them. Not a big deal, it didn’t cause any problem for me and it has left Heidi with a great supply of monster cookies on hand for all kinds upcoming events like our church’s Great Day of Service and last night’s Monday Nights for Moms.

In preparing for our MnM’s I asked Heidi for the recipe so we could put it on these little cards we keep on hand for our moms to take home to save and savor for later. Well, needless to say, I wasn’t prepared for all that went into these cookies. Check it out:

1 lb of butter or margarine
4 cup of white sugar
1/4 cup of vanilla
1 T salt
2lb of brown sugar
1 dozen eggs
8 tsp baking soda
3 lb of peanut butter (1.5 lb creamy & 1.5 lb crunchy)
18 cups of oatmeal
1 pkg of milk choc. chips
2 pkg of M&M’s

No wonder they’re called Monster Cookies!! A dozen eggs, 2 pounds of brown sugar, 18 cups of oatmeal and 3 pounds of peanut butter. Plus 4 cups of regular sugar and a whopping 3 pounds of chocolate! Holy Cow! These suckers are packed with more goodness that a girl can (or should) take in at one time. Even though we don’t eat the whole batch at one time (although we could try!), we take in a little at a time, savoring all the goodness. Now, I can’t stop thinking about the fact that while I love these cookies, I never quite grasped how much it cost and what all it took to create these little babies.

When I asked Heidi what kind of bowl she used to make these, she replied with a smile, “A really big one!”

I’m not doubting her. Not one bit. And there is quite a bit of work that goes on in that big bowl. You get tired making these cookies, you might even get a little winded. There is hand mixing that has to be done here, now!! And once you get the mixing done, then you have to start the scooping, and then the baking, and baking, and baking. But in the end, when it’s all said and done. . . .you still have the dishes to do!!! Big dishes–cuz a big bowl is a big dish! We are talking dishes that don’t fit in the dishwasher, dishes.

But then, you have cookies!! Lots and lots of cookies! You have cookies overflowing. Cookies to share! Cookies to enjoy! Cookies to bless others with, and cookies to make a blog post about!

You see, I found myself thinking about those cookies today, and I realized that God’s Word is just a little like that monster cookie recipe. There’s just so much stuff that goes in there, and you can’t just look at the end result and appreciate it at all! There are so many different parts or ingredients, and they need to be sifted through, weighed out and blended together. Sometimes that can be a little tiring, a little wearing; sometimes it’s really sweet, but before it’s all said and done there’s going to be some clean up involved and it’s going to cost us something. But as we finish up a batch of whatever it is God has taught us or brought us through, we have plenty to share. We have a spiritual cookie jar filled with encouragement, wisdom, grace, mercy, experience and love overflowing from the One who created the recipe of our life with just the right ingredients added at just the right times so that we could share Him with those around us.

The main reason I asked Heidi to make the cookies for me is that I pretty much figured I would never make a monster cookie. It just cost too much. Too much time, too much effort, too much clean up, too much money, and besides she likes to make them and she would do it for me (I did offer to pay her, btw!). . .but then today I got to thinking that if I never make them, I’ll never share them. I’d never have my own monster cookie story, or monster cookie experiences or my own monster cookie giant mixing bowl!Those thoughts made me thankful that I didn’t rely on someone else to do my spiritual work for me, either, and that the time I have spent in God’s word has given me opportunities like this to bake up a batch of spiritual cookies and share them with those around me. This blog gives me the chance to share what God is producing in me, and I hope that you, in turn, will begin to seek out God’s recipe for your life and see what He has you mixing up to share with those around you. I bet He has some monstrously delicious and exciting, big things in store ahead for you and your life! Can’t wait to hear how you’ve gotten to share them.

The Voice

Recently I’ve watched a couple of episodes of “The Voice.” If you haven’t seen it yet, it follows the same concept as shows like “American Idol,” and “The X Factor.” People who want a career in music, or people who want to become famous as a result of a career in music are competing weekly, continually facing elimination, until a winner is declared. You’ve probably noticed, like I have, that there are a lot of these shows on, and they are on a lot. Ultimately, we are spending a lot of time listening to a lot of voices. While we spend hours listening to “the voices,” it would seem that we are not spending much time at all listening to “THE VOICE.”

THE VOICE, of course, is God’s voice, and it is crying out to those who will listen. He is calling out to us to hear and respond to His love, compassion, mercy and salvation. He longs for us to come back to Him, to reach out to others, to share His love with those around us, giving generously of our time, talents, and finances in His name. We have to be careful, in our busy lives, not to the let the voices of so many other things drown out THE VOICE that is calling our name.

The writer of Hebrews says it so well,

“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:12-15

We are entering into spring and the Easter season—a time of rebirth, renewal and resurrection. If we slow down, take notice, and listen carefully, we can hear THE VOICE calling us–THE VOICE belonging to the God who loved us enough that He sent His Son for us, a rebellious people so lost that we don’t even see our need to be saved. THE VOICE that continues calling out to us in spite of our rejection and rebellion. If you allow yourself to hear THE VOICE, respond to Him; don’t harden your heart. Instead, surrender to His heart, and the song it sings. Because THE VOICE of Jesus is THE VOICE of the name above all names, who walks in victory, reigns in glory, and will be returning in the twinkling of an eye for those who have chosen to follow Him, giving us something to sing about with no fear of elimination!

Stuff From My Car

In a couple of hours I will be speaking on the campus of Ozark Christian College in Joplin, MO, giving a late night devotional talk to a small group of some of the greatest young women around–the women who reside on the second floor of Dennis Hall! I have a great love for these girls! Earlier this year, I had the privilege of speaking to their entire dorm, but tonight we have chosen to take things to a slightly more personal level, and “tonight’s gonna be a good night. Yeah, tonight’s gonna be a good, good night.”

Although I’m writing this now, I won’t post until after I speak. Then there can be that element of surpise (maybe even for me), and I will still have time to process my thoughts one more time before they come out of my mouth–something I probably should do a little more often!! During my drive down to Joplin I was thinking about the things I felt that God was leading me to share with them. Things I wished someone would have said to me. Things that, if I had a daughter, I would want said to her–again and again and again–from someone other than her mother. Things that would sink down deep into her heart for all of her days. Things she would one day share with someone else’s daughter.

The last time I shared with the girls here, we talked about our baggage and our luggage–y’know that stuff we carry around instead of laying it down–and the importance of leaving it with the greatest baggage handler of all times–Jesus. As I thought about how we would move on in our journey tonight, I noticed in my car several things I was carrying with me that would help us to connect to things I wanted to say and maybe lighten the serious tone of the things we would be talking about. Things like:

A Worldless Book Cross Bracelet–This bracelet was made for me by a woman in our church. The beads reflect the light when I drive (at least on sunny days) and are anchored by a cross. As I looked up at that bracelet today, I know I want to remind them that we need to reflect The Light and that our security comes from being anchored in Christ and what He did on the cross.

Chapstick–Cherry to be exact! Oh yeah! We need to have coverage over our lips at all times. What comes through those babies comes directly from what is being stored up in our hearts. So if we are going to take care to have soft lips, we better take care to have a pure heart softened by the truth and love of God.

A Beanie Baby Bumble Bee–We will be taking a minute or two to talk about purity–like in matters involving the birds and the . . . .yeah, you guessed it. . .bees! But also in matters of the heart, the eyes, the ears, and as so many Pinterest Pinners put it, “my style.” There is a reason the guy from Cake wants a girl in a short skirt. . . .and we need to talk about that.

A Beanie Baby Lady Bug–Around here we don’t just have lady bugs, we have those annoying imposters, the Japanese beetles. They look like lady bugs, but they don’t act like lady bugs. They come in swarms, they take over everything around them and they stink. (I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this!) They may look cute, but they are not. A stinky disposition is something we need to mature out of because even if you try to cover it up, it doesn’t take long before people see the truth and want to stomp you out.

A Business Ccard and Hospital ID Badge–When we recognize our security is in Christ, and as we mature in Him, our identity becomes secure. Not only will we know who we are, but so will others, and our security will allow us clearance into their lives in order to help them know the One who can heal and help them.

An iphone–These little guy reminds us to keep listening to God. If we don’t we will become ruled by emotions, circustmances and reactions rather than truth and God’s direction. We need to be really careful what we’re takin in or we will be taken in by whatever comes our way.

Emory Board–This little tool helps us realize that our devotion to God will take some shaping up. There are some rough places we all need to let him smooth out, and even though it may hurt we won’t give up, give in, or give out. We will be women who keep our commitments, keep our promises, and keep our faith no matter what our emotions or insecurities may want to do. WAIT! What insecurities? There are being gently filed away and that baggage has been left with Jesus!

LOL!! I just wrote so much, all of which will probably take you longer to read than for me to say, but at the heart of all this stuff is the realization that through the years He has brought me to the place where I am seeking and seeing God in all things. Some of those things are so simple, like objects in my car, and others are so complex, like the giving and taking of life or the complexities of a solar system.

The things in my car helped to remind me of lessons I want to pass on to the women traveling the roads behind me–things like purity, maturity and security.

Proverbs 4:23-25 says:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only the ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left and keep your feet from evil.”

WE WILL NOW PAUSE FOR SOME COLLEGE GIRL CHOCOLATE EATING AND FUN TIME
This morning:
Last night these girls and I talked about our need for real purity in our lives, and the need to grow up, put away our fears, put our trust in God and gain control over those emotions that keep us from completely devoting ourselves to Christ.

As we talked about the virtues held in this Scripture, we talked about the lies in the promises we read on our Dove Chocolate wrappers, how Smokey Robinson may “Second That Emotion,” but we want to “second that devotion.” Strangely enough, we finished up chatting about Peyton Manning! This simple, yet extraordinary man, and the integrity and example he has shown, but not just as a quarterback. His life reminded us how great the need is for men, and women, to live lives that set that example, and we prayed to be or to become women of purity, maturity and security, ruled by devotion rather than emotion, living out Christ’s example whever the journey takes us.

And it was a good, good night!

It’s a Supergood Superstart

This past weekend I took my son to Superstart. For those of you unfamiliar with the event, Superstart is a Christian preteen event for 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. http://www.ciy.com/superstart So although it may seem a little weird that my son is currently 20, keep in mind that he is currently working towards a children and family ministry degree and had been invited by Superstart director Patrick Snow to come and check out what, why and how they do all they do at Superstart. I only got to tag along because Trevor and I are currently planning our church’s upcoming children’s revival, and we used the time to meet, learn, and plan together while enjoying a fabulous weekend. Plus I was old enough to reserve the hotel room!!!

During the weekend I was reminded of several things I thought worthy of sharing. Here are just a few.

1–Take, don’t just send, your kids to events like these–and don’t wait til they are 20!! Granted, Superstart didn’t exist when my boys were young, but we did other kinds of things together. Maybe you don’t have a Superstart in your area (I drove 4 hours to Bloomington-Normal), but if there is something in your area, find it and go. Don’t just leave this up to pastors and sponsors or don’t miss out if you don’t have others in your church going. Step out and grow together, serve together, minister together. It’s amazing how much more you have in common when you have experienced these things together.

2–Live out God’s purposes with your kids–This year’s Superstart theme was built around the concept of knowing our purpose. The three main points, God made me to be all about Him, God saved me to be all about Him, and God gave me what I have to be all about Him, were super. But if all we do with our kids is talk about these things, and we never put our faith into action we will remain purposeless. Today’s kids, like today’s adults, are looking for real purpose in their life. Real purpose which comes only from Jesus.

3–Never stop experiencing the wonder of God–Another awsome thing about this year’s Superstart was the science experiments they built into their themes. I had already attended a fall Superstart with the kids from my church, and so I had previously experienced the event, and Trevor had just attended the event in Tulsa the weekend before with the kids from the church he serves with, but that didn’t keep either of us, and even the Superstart crew from being excited about how all these chemical reactions worked and how awesome the God is who created all these things. Help your kids, and help yourself, by continuinally basking in the wonder of the complexity of all God has created.

4–Listen to great kid worship music with your kids–Big shout out to Yancy (check her out here at http://www.yancynotnancy.com ) for a fabulous job leading the preteens in worship. Learn, listen, bond worship with your kids through music. It was a blast, and a great encouragement to be backstage with my “man-son” singing together on Saturday, and then to come home on Sunday and sing with HiSkidZ at our church. Music doesn’t have to divide us because of age, instead let it unite us regardless of our age.

5–Treasure the Moments–I feel abundantly blessed to have spent this weekend with my son “doing ministry.” The grace of God has brought us to places I never imagined, and He brought us there step by step as our family did things together like attend church, go to camp, serve others, lead at VBS, attend youth events, meet with missionaries and pastors…things that confirmed our purpose in Christ and allowed us to live it out for His glory. I never want to take those moments for granted. Like Ebeneazor stones from the Bible, we are treasuring and remembering God’s goodness to us to be passed on to future generations.

So to the Superstart Team–Patrick, Samantha, Drew, Yancy, Aaron, Matt, Liz and your crews (btw, Adam and Zack, you guys did a great job filling in for Mark!)–thanks so much for all you do. Thanks for giving literally tens of thousands of preteens a Superstart in their faithwalk, and for allowing this mom and her son to see, experience learn and grow from all you do and are doing in living out your purposes for God. As we finish planning for our spring Children’s Revival, thanks for giving us a Supergood Superstart as well. God Bless.