Learning to be a Disciple

(April 7, 2014)

I broke my ankle two months ago. To say I’ve learned somethings is an understatement. I’ve watched as my five year old graddaughter, Arianna, mimics my movements. She holds one foot up and hops because I hold my foot up. She puts her foot on a pillow because I put my foot on a pillow. When I started doing exercises to strengthen my muscles she got down on the floor and did them with me. Saturday when my husband took us to town she insisted on wearing one boot and one shoe so she could be just like me.

I’ve started doing some walking without the crutches and I have a peculiar gait. Later in the day I noticed Arianna was walking just the same. The more we are together the more she acts like I act. She has become a disciple of how someone who has a broken ankle behaves. This behavior is not an outgrowth of duty, but of love.

That’s what a disciple does. They study the person who they want to emulate. They become like them, not so much from will power, but from simply being exposed to their manner of life and ways.

How else is Arianna acting like me?

  • It is my habit to study and read my Bible before I get out of bed in the morning. Arianna will often join me there with her own books in tow. (This is a good thing.)
  • I love chocolate. I have to limit how much is in the house or I would eat too much, too often. Arianna has that same love of chocolate. (Not such a good thing.)
  • It is my habit to thank the Lord before I eat. One day when I took a bite before praying Arianna in a disturbed voice scolded. “YOU NEED TO THANK THE LORD!” (Good thing)
  • I’m not always patient. When I hear Arianna say, “Oh, for stupid!” I know where she learned it. (Not a good thing)

I could go on, but don’t wish to incriminate myself any further.

Who am I acting like? What is coming out in my actions because of who or what I have been studying? Arianna’s watchful imitation reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 16:24 “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” It also reminds me of what Paul said in Colossians 3:3 “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

If I am a disciple of Jesus my life should be wrapped up in His. I should day by day look to His interests, not my own. Realizing that true life begins and ends with Christ. Knowing that there is no real life without Him and so there is no real sacrifice in living my life for Him. As I fix my gaze on Him He is transforming me into His image.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, jast as from the Lord, the Spirit.” II Corinthians 3:18

Baabaa’s Story

This post is dedicated to my oldest granddaughter, Ashlee. Too quickly you have grown from the little girl in this story to a beautiful young lady.

I firmly believe God gives us children and grandchildren, not so we can teach them, but so they can teach us. Ashlee, you are still one of my favorite people. Love, Grandma.

(First published January 2, 2014)

I know a rabbit named Baabaa. She had downy white fur with soft pink on the inside of her ears. Her eyes were bright and sparkling. She had an orange scarf around her neck. There was a zipper on her underside that opened to a little pocket that carried a tiny baby bunny.

Baabaa came to live with a little girl with red hair when she was just a baby and became her constant companion. When the little girl is tired or afraid she pulls Baabaa close to her face and whispers in the soft pink ears.

The scarf was lost long ago. The eyes are dull and scratched. The zipper is broken, and the tiny baby bunny has been put away for safe keeping. She has been washed so many times that her permanent color is grey. Her coat is matted and worn. The ears which once were so lovely are her roughest part. She has been held and dragged and kissed and loved until she is misshapen, stained and unrecognizable as a rabbit.

There was one horrible episode where she was lost in a store and the little girl spent the night crying… and worrying about where she was… and would she ever see her again. She was retrieved the next morning by the girl’s mother and quickly kissed and hugged and cried over with much relief. From that point on the little girl was more careful with her. She held her tighter when they ventured out.

What is Baabaa worth? Sadly, she would not fetch even 25 cents at a garage sale. Most people would throw her away if they found her, but to one little girl, with red hair, Baabaa’s price is far above rubies. Baabaa would be a very foolish rabbit indeed if she was proud and bragged about how valuable she was. Her value lies only in being loved by a little girl named Ashlee. Without Ashlee her value is less than nothing. There is nothing good or valuable in her.

We are like Baabaa. We are worn and bedraggled and misshapen. We have no worth, but there is someone who loves us and in that is our value. We would be foolish people indeed to brag about how good and valuable we are. No, our only value is in being loved by a good and merciful God. A God who chooses to use broken and weak people to do amazing things.

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.” I Corinthians 1:26-31

When God is Unkind

(First published 12-17-13)

Even though Joseph was from a dysfunctional family he lived a life of integrity. Several times in scripture it mentions “the Lord was with him”. His life was anything but smooth sailing, but the Lord was with him.

The Lord was with him when he was thrown into a pit by his brothers.

The Lord was with him when his brothers sold him into slavery.

The Lord was with Him when He worked in Potiphar’s house.

The Lord was with him when he was falsely accused, by Potiphar’s wife.

The Lord was with him when he was in jail.

The Lord was with him when he interpreted dreams while in jail.

The Lord was with him when he was forgotten by men.

The Lord was with him when he worked for Pharaoh.

He did nothing to deserve trouble. Yet, God was kind to Joseph by being unkind.

God was kind to Joseph’s family by saving them from the famine, through Joseph.

God was kind to the Egyptians by saving them from starvation, through Joseph.

God was kind to Joseph by allowing him to be part of God’s plan to bring deliverance.

There is no mention of Joseph doubting God’s goodness. There is no hint of bitterness. After the death of his father Joseph reassures his brothers by telling them. “…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20)

Sometimes trouble comes to my life or your life. I don’t know why most things happen, but…

I do know God is kind.

I do know that God is sovereign.

I do know that sometimes God is up to something I don’t understand.

I do know that God is with me.

That simply needs to be enough.

For Further Study:

Genesis 37:4, 18-20

Genesis 39:1-5, 19-23

Genesis 41:39-41

Genesis 50:15-20

Acts 7:9-14

Hebrews 11:22

Softball and Being Chosen

(Originally published 8-29-2013)

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Softball was my least favorite sport.

It had a lot to do with how the game started…choosing sides.

I was little and skinny and usually chosen last. As I grew my coordination became worse which made me even more undesirable as a teammate. The only time I wasn’t chosen last was if there was someone smaller and skinnier than I was. (It didn’t happen often.)

On rare occasions one of the captains happened to be my Dad. I can still hear him say,

“I choose Karen!”

Not with reluctance, but with love and confidence. He chose me, not because of my great athletic ability, but because he loved me and wanted me on his team.

That’s how it is with God. I Thessalonians 1:4 says

“knowing brethren beloved by God, His choice of you.”

God has picked me! I’m weak and sinful and mess up often, but He loves me and wants me on His team. How can I help but love and serve such a God?

For further study:

I Corinthians 1:27-28; Colossians 3:12; I Peter 2:9

Christmas Songs – 2021 (Part 1)

Years past I have posted a musical advent calendar to celebrate Christmas. This year I am putting up a few of my non-traditional favorites all together instead of one by one. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas week remembering God’s most gracious gift to us.

“When the Time is Right” – Ginny Owens

Do Not Be Afraid – Scott Krippayne

God with Us – Bob Bennett

Rejoice – Aaron Shust

Unto Us – Aaron Shust

Quit Talking About Sin

(First published December 12, 2013)

“And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins. Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying; BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD, AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL, which translated means, God with us.” Matthew 1:21-23

We don’t think of that verse as offensive, but more than likely it would have offended the religious leaders of the day. They were being oppressed by Rome. Their country was overrun by foreigners. They were being abused and mistreated at every turn. They wanted a Savior who could save them from the trouble around them. Shockingly Matthew points to the real problem. It wasn’t their circumstances it was their own hearts.

“…He will save His people from their sins.”

How dare he talk to persecuted people like that. How dare he not enter into their pain and ask them how they feel. How dare he accuse them of being sinners.

And so it is. The gospel is offensive. We think our life would be better if we just had different circumstances. If I just had a different wife, husband or different children. Maybe a different church or friends or job. Maybe if my past hurts weren’t so great. The list is endless.

Trouble is everywhere. You can find atrocities sprinkled throughout history. Your circumstances, however horrifying, are nothing new. The sooner we see the problem is within us instead of without us the sooner we are ready to hear the wonderful story of the gospel.

God became man. (Amazing)

God is with us (Incredible)

His purpose? …to save us from our sins. (Freedom at last)

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! II Corinthians 9:15

Jesus and Santa

(First published 12-19-2015)

“I can’t wait for Christmas!!!” My six-year-old granddaughter blurted out to the clerk restocking the shelves at the grocery store. The clerk responded with, “Have you been good this year so Santa will come?”

Arianna looked a little confused and then answered, “Santa’s not real, God’s real.” Now it was the clerk’s turn to be confused. Not knowing just what to say, I smiled, and we moved on down the aisle.

I thought about the conversation all the way home. I don’t think of Santa as evil, but Jesus is so much better.

Santa keeps a list of who is naughty or nice. The theory is he only visits those who have been good. We use it to motivate kids to cooperate with us those last weeks before Christmas, or those gifts aren’t going to show up.

Jesus, on the other hand, came knowing we weren’t nice. We needed a Savior who could save us from our sin. (Matthew 1:21) His coming depended on God’s goodness, not our goodness.

Santa supposedly leaves a lump of coal to those who don’t measure up. Jesus offers complete forgiveness and has taken the punishment we deserve by dying in our place.

Santa lives forever to keep track. Jesus now lives forever to intercede for us before God. (Romans 8:34)

Santa shows up one day a year. Jesus has promised to never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5b-6)

But the most important difference between Santa and Jesus is the one Arianna pointed out so simply. “Santa isn’t real …God is real!” It is fun to pretend, but my belief in God isn’t a fantasy. It is something I have staked my life on. So as you celebrate Christmas this year remember it is about a Savior, not a Santa.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Now that’s something to be excited about!