Monthly Archives: March 2013

Cross Training

cross-trainingUnbroken

The little donkey had no idea he would make history. As he trotted in the corral and ate his hay, he never fathomed he would fulfill prophecy. He was a youngster and still close to his mama. Unbroken to saddle,he entertained no thoughts of carrying a rider that day, much less a royal one.

I’m sure he was puzzled when two strangers untied him and led him away. Perhaps even more so when his master permitted it. As these strangers laid cloaks on his back, did he shy and put his ears back in warning? Was he nervous as his first rider approached?

I’m guessing as the donkey looked into the eyes of his Creator, his choice was simple. Submit and obey. His King required his service and the little donkey was willing.

Are we willing too?

Psalm 32: 9-10 (NIV) says:

“Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.”

If a stubborn little donkey who had never been ridden can submit to the King of kings, why won’t we?

If a simple farm animal recognizes the Ruler of the universe in a Nazarene carpenter, shouldn’t we see Him too?

What makes you dig in your heels and put your ears back in warning?

Let it go–and come.

Questions:

Why do you think Scripture records the detail of the donkey colt being unbroken?

Put yourself in the donkey’s horseshoes. What do you think the day was like for him?

Jesus bids us “Come.” What is your response? Fear, excitement, reservation, humility? Why?

Psalm 32: 10 reminds us the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds those who trust him. How does your level of trust compares to the donkey’s?

When have you trusted God and He came through? Choose one thing you will trust Him with today and come to Him.

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Cross Training

cross-trainingWho Are Your “Least of These”?

During the last week of Jesus’ life, Matthew records the teaching of the parable of the sheep and the goats. Take a look at Jesus’ words:

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” . . . “He will reply, ‘whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” (Matthew 25: 40, 45 NIV)

As we scan the globe, the needs overwhelm us: Africa, Haiti, tsunami victims, child trafficking, hunger, poverty, and sickness. Can one person really make a difference in the flood of human depravity and need?

The King says, “Yes.” Not only yes, but He counts such service as rendered to Him. Conversely, He reckons the lack of it as a personal neglect. Yikes. God appears to take our treatment of our brother (or lack of it) seriously. Maybe we should too.

So, who is your “least of these”?

As I began to pray about my “least,” God’s answer surprised me. He placed His hands on my shoulders and turned me, not towards Africa or Asia, but to my neighbors and my family. While we still send checks across the globe, God has called us to active service here.

Honestly–sending the check is easier.

Sometimes tears for the starving child in India come more easily than for the relative who has repeatedly hurt my feelings. Ouch. It appears I lean towards the goat side of things.

Lamb of God, make my heart like yours.

As we prepare for Easter this month, will you join me in asking God, “Who is my “least”?

Questions:

In the story of the sheep and the goats, what are some things Jesus lists that were done (or were neglected)?

Why does Jesus count the service (or lack of it) as done unto Him?

How does this story tie to the two greatest commandments: to love God and love your neighbor as yourself?

Do believers have a responsibility to address the needs of the world? Why?

Pray about your “least.’ Share your answers as a family.

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Cross Training

cross-trainingWasted

“While he (Jesus) was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Mark 14:3-9 NIV)

The idea of being wasted has always haunted me. I have a fear that, like Eowyn in The Lord of the Rings, I will be commanded to stay behind and miss the “real” action. The world only adds to this pull as its definition of waste clashes with God’s.

God’s definition of waste includes things like: Be still and know that I am God and seek first the Kingdom of heaven. He asks me to sit in His presence and get to know Him. First.

The world’s standard of waste screams at me. Do something. Be productive. It pushes me towards constant activity—go, go, go. I’m driven to make something of myself, to achieve no matter the cost.

And there is a cost.

Often, it’s our relationships. How many marriages, children, and decisions for eternity have been sacrificed on the altar of achievement? God tells us if we hold tightly to this life, we will lose it. If we release our grip for His sake, we will find it.

When the woman broke the bottle of perfume and “wasted” it on Jesus, she was intentional. She planned to be there. She risked her reputation and gave her most valued possession. Holding nothing back, she gave the greatest gift of all–herself.

But she was immediately condemned—by the disciples no less.

However, Jesus wasted no time in coming to her defense. In His eyes, her sacrifice was sacred. Precious. Priceless. Enough so to be recorded not once, not twice, but three times in the gospels.

Do we hear God’s still small voice asking us to waste ourselves on Him?

And to trust Him for the rest: the deadlines, the errands, and the laundry?

Will we schedule in the sacred?

She did what she could.

Will we?

Questions:

What do you do when common sense collides with Jesus?

Why is faith so scary sometimes?

As you have gotten to know God better, is it easier to trust Him? Share an example.

How do you change your thinking to line up with Scripture instead of culture?

What can you “waste” this week to draw closer to God? To your spouse or kids?

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Cross Training

cross-trainingU Turns

Have you ever taken the wrong exit? Today’s navigational systems make staying on course a little easier though Mapquest has led me astray a time or two. Then there is the GPS in my husband’s car that can’t seem to figure out Spanish street names and leaves us driving in circles while we fumble for our iPhones.

This month, I want to drive through the Holy Lands and tour the Easter story. Here, the camera is often focused on Jesus though we get snapshots of Pilate, Herod, Caiaphas, and the disciples. We see photos of the women at the tomb Easter morning. We see Jesus’ mother at the cross when he entrusts the disciple John with her care.

Missing from the family photo? Jesus’ brothers and sisters.

Matthew 13: 55-56 tells us of four brothers and an unknown number of sisters. Yet Mary sits at the cross alone. John 7:5 (NIV) records:

“For even his own brothers did not believe in him.”

However, as the book of Acts gets rolling, they make an appearance in the upper room.

“They (the disciples) all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” (Acts 1:14 NIV)

Two brothers, Jude and James, go on to write New Testament books. As we see in later passages of Acts and Galatians, James becomes one of the leaders of the Jerusalem church.

What happened?

What caused the eye-rolling, “prove it to me” younger brothers to make such a change?

Better yet, reflect on the grace that makes such U turns possible.

This week, thumb through the books of James and Jude and examine their themes: unbelief, a call to persevere, practical obedience, humility, prayer.

Can you picture the family reunion?

Questions:

When have you made a spiritual U turn?

What caused you to turn around?

What caused Jesus’ brothers to take the wrong exit?

Have you struggled with unbelief in an area?

How did you move past it?

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