LeBron, God and Me

Call me crazy (which someone did alot last week), but LeBron James just keeps giving me THE BEST examples for teaching Bible lessons. For example, back when he left Cleveland, and his Cavalier Fathead went on sale for the amazingly low price of $12, both my husband and my son bought one. Why???? I have no idea why they both thought they needed one, but when I was asked to teach to a group of 5th-6th graders at our local church camp I was sure glad they did. I decided to invite the infamous fat-headed Mr James (no offense, LeBron, that could be said of all of us sometimes, I suppose) to make an appearance at camp with me. Rolling out our spare, we talked about how LeBron could, in fact, be a great example to us. . .kind of. . . .Victorious living was his goal, he left the land of his family, headed towards the promised land, didn’t look back and didn’t care if people thought he was crazy. Now for sure, the whole announcement show on ESPN wasn’t exactly the greatest example of humility or grace ever exhibited, but the case can still be made that if we would be willing to leave everything in our world to follow Christ, no matter what anyone else said, we would be experiencing some stuff otherwise out of our grasp.

Then I put LeBron back into his mailing carton, where he has been sitting until now. The time has come to get him out of the garage and dust him off, because he has done it again. LeBron has, without even knowing it, given me not one, but two object lessons to be used in a lesson somewhere, someday soon. (Maybe today!)

Last week while the NBA championships were going on I was at church camp with another great group of kids, so I missed it all–every game. And I have to admit being a midwestern girl, I was pretty much going for Oklahoma! This morning, before church was the first time I’d had the chance to see any of the post game interviews. And in those couple of minutes, God spoke to me. You see LeBron talked about last year’s loss, and how in leaving for the promised land (my words, not his), things didn’t work out quite like he had planned and how losing didn’t seem at all like any kind of promised greatness. But he said that the trial made him better. It humbled him, it made him less selfish and helped to learn to be a better team mate, it gave him focus, helped him see who he really was, and it matured him. Much like the book of James, chapter 1 which says,

“Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds, for the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

God speaks. . . a lesson in itself.

But then it was his shirt that really got me. “Earned Not Given.” I completely understand the shirt for LeBron and the Heat. They did earn their championship; they earned their ring, and it wasn’t always easy. There were critics and doubters and haters in droves. But this morning, as I was getting ready and I saw that shirt, I could’t help but say to my husband, “Man, I want my shirt to say just the opposite. ‘Given not earned.’” Because that’s how it is with Jesus. There is nothing I could do to earn what He has given to me.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

I want the crown on my shirt. Keep the ring on there, too. I have a share in those things which rightfully belong to the King of Kings. I get them, not because I’ve earned them, but because He has given them to me as a part of His Kingdom. Let’s just switch up the letters and give the glory to the One who deserves it. Then let’s live like the champions we are, and let’s start sharing what we’ve been given. What a major praisallujah that we can claim the victory, when he fought the battle. . . against haters and doubters and critics and death.

Some people will say that LeBron isn’t the best example to use to teach Biblical truth. Maybe they’re right. I honestly have no idea where his spiritual allegiances lie. But I do know that if we are willing to open our eyes and SEE, God can reveal Himself in some of the most unlikely places. . . .maybe that’s in the life choices of a basketball giant, or the simple choices of an ordinary small town housewife turned kidmin leader. Either way, I hope we take every opportunity to see Jesus in all that is around us.

How are you seeing Jesus speaking in your life these days?

Tell Me the Story

“Honey, I’m home.” I arrived back early this morning from an amazing week of church camp ready to tell my husband all my stories about a week spent with a pretty special group of soon to be high school freshmen. During the week I had the privilege of helping them take a look at the stories of the Old Testament and how they (the kids and the stories) fit together as part of God’s whole amazing story of love, redemption, grace and reconciliation. We talked about how everything in the O.T. points to Jesus coming to save us in the N.T. and the N.T. points to Jesus coming again to get us for Eterni-T.

This year God had placed in on my heart that we needed to be talkin about the fact that we need to be knowin the story. As I have been reading through the book of Acts–one of the greatest books in the Bible, at least from an adventure standpoint (yeah, that’s just a personal opinion, lol, but I think it’s spot on)–anyway, I couldn’t help but SEE (our theme for the week) that in the book of Acts, while the church was growing like wild fire, that not only did people know the story, they were living the story, they were sharing the story, and God was moving, changing their lives and their stories because of THE STORY.

I mean, Luke obviously knew THE STORY. . . he wrote the book of Acts. Then Peter pipes up with THE STORY at Pentecost. Stephen knew THE STORY and while sharing it he lost his life and gained a new one at the same time. Philip knew THE STORY, he shared it with the people of Samaria, a sorcerer and a Eunich. Saul became Paul because of THE STORY, and he couldn’t stop telling THE STORY for the rest of his days on earth.

The problem lies in the fact that we are not doing a very good job with THE STORY. Even if we know the stories, or some of them, we often don’t understand them or what their importance is or what they mean in the big picture of God’s story, His-story. . .our story.

Romans 1:28-32 reveals to us the consequence of forgetting THE STORY,

“Furthermore, they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

When we know THE STORY, we know GOD because HE IS THE STORY. He and His love are woven into every event, every person’s life and breath and story recorded on the pages of His Word. This week I saw students with a hunger to know THE STORY and THE GOD who is responsible for it. Watching them learning, praying, praising, committing, asking, and seeking is a great encouragement–a hope that the story will continue to be passed on and passed down until the One who is writing it returns to take us home. And until that day we must continue to pray, and we must continue, like the men and women of the book of Acts, to know THE STORY, live THE STORY, and share THE STORY with a world who needs to know the love of the Creator and the heart of His Son who came that we might have life.

More Lettuce, Please

There’s been quite a bit a talk around my way about my last post and the “lettuces” in the Bible. So I decided to go back and find a few of my other favorites as a reminder of all the healthy goodness found planted in God’s garden. So this morning I’m leafing through some more tasty morsels to see what’s there. . . Like. . . .

Romans 13:12  Let us put away the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of ight.

Romans 14:13  Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

Romans 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

2 Corinthians 7:1  Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

Galations 5:25  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Galations 5:26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Galations 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galations 6:10  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

I Thessalonians 5:6  So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.

I Thessalonians 5:8  But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

I John 3:18  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

I John 4:7  Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Revelation 19:7 Let us rejoice and be glad  and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come,  and his bride has made herself ready.

As I looked a the end, I had to go back to the beginning:

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,  and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

And I see once again that from the very start God made us with His plan in mind that we would live as His, with Him and for Him and for the glory and good of His Name and His Kingdom. The bridegroom IS coming again, and we need to be ready. We have a great hope and a great anticipation. As we wait for the day to appear, let us not just read about what He would have us to be doing, but “lettuce” grow in love and faith and works and deeds as we share the good news with those around us.

Do you have a favorite “let us?” Feel free to share it here. . . .I feel like it may be time for me to go shopping for some tasty leaves in the pages of the Old Testament  to see what might “turn up” there!!!

How do you know God likes salad?

Because He put so much lettuce in the Bible!!! Bahahahaha. . . .oh well. . .

A few years back, the year our youngest son was graduating from high school, I was fortunate to have had the privilege of giving the graduate’s charge at our church’s service that Sunday. I remember bringing a head of lettuce and pealing back the leaves one at a time as we talked about the “lettuces” in the book of Hebrews.

Truth is there are enough leaves of lettuce in the Bible to make a salad of ginormous proportion. But today, I’ve been drawn back to the espcially tasty bites in Hebrews, especially chapter 10.

For example:

Hebrews 4:14 . . .let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 6:1 Let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity. . .
Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near to God with a sincere faith. . .
Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we professed, for He who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:24 Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds
Hebrews 10:25a Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but. . .
Hebrews 10:25b let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching

And just like a salad is rarely complete with just lettuce, the writer of Hebrews adds a little something to the mix beginning in verse 35:

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith, and if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.”

And then here comes the kicker, I LOVE this part, L-O-V-E it.

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”

We won’t shrink back, we won’t give up, we won’t give in, we won’t turn away. We will follow, we will love, we will give and forgive and help and serve and share and tell until He who is promised returns. And until that time, “lettuce” do these things with the confidence, peace, joy, grace, strength, energy, passion and commitment that comes only from Him.

I Can Only Imagine

The St. Louis City Museum is simply a rare treasure of a place, and I think it becomes even more so when you are blessed enough to spend the day there with some of your favorite 6th graders in the world. Just last week, my husband and I took some of our Cross Country students (cross country as in Jesus and the cross, not as in running long distances, something I am not prone to do) on a trip from our home church in Iowa to St Louis. It was a toss up between the zoo and the museum to be determined by the Lord’s determination of the day’s weather. We didn’t know until that day exactly what the weather would be, and so we waited with anticipation for what was to come. And when the Lord determined to bring rain, we determined to hit the museum.

It turned out to be a great choice since none of our kids had been there before, but even more so because at the heart of the St. Louis City Museum is the fact that everything in it once resided somewhere else. Most of it in St. Louis (hence the name). Everything had been recycled, reworked, retooled, repainted, etc. and the old became new again. It really is a work to see how they’ve intertwined all this stuff into something incredible, and somehow fitting it together in a glorious harmony–the slides, the caves, the crawling places, the sculpture, the bank vault, the . . .well you get the picture.

I usually like to do a little something “spiritual” on our trips, y’know a devotion, or a talk or something. But this trip, our last one before the kids moved up to jr high student ministry, was just a trip. Nothing spiritual planned, just a day to enjoy ourselves together–or so I thought. Because as we headed home, I couldn’t help but hear the Holy Spirit saying to me,

“You are just like the stuff in the museum. You had an old way of life, an old way of living, but the Father has taken you and restored you. He’s cleaned you up, polished your heart, and set you in place together with others who have surrendered themselves to His workmanship. He’s put you together for a greater purpose, individual yet intertwined and complete again when together with others who have been renewed.”

And I couldn’t help but smile. Because He was right. (Well, of course He was, He’s the Holy Spirit.) But He made it so simple to see. Each piece of the museum if left in its rusted, broken down original condition would have been worth little, but at the touch of the master’s hand, value was restored and something amazing created. And we are just like that, and for that I am thankful.Then I thought about “my” 6th graders. As He takes their lives into His hands, I can’t wait to see what He will do with them–how He will rework them, retool them, and carefully place them within His grand scheme for His glory to do the good works He has planned for them. I can only imagine. . . and wait with anticipation for the things that are to come.

And so it was a spiritual trip after all. Thank you, Jesus!

2 Corinthians 5:17 therefore if anyone is in Christ. He is a new creation. The old has gone. The new has come.