The One Thing

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Ever hear of the sisters, Mary and Martha?

They were friends of Jesus and also among those who followed Jesus and listened to his teaching. Biblical scholars believe that Martha was probably an affluent widow. She also practiced hospitality.

When she invited Jesus to her home – she had to be ready for a crowd – his entourage came with him.

The Bible says she was encumbered or stressed by serving.

Luke 10:38-42

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.

So she does what most of us women do when stressed – she complains.

She goes right to Jesus!

She attempts to get Jesus to agree with her – “I’m doing all the work – shouldn’t Mary help?

God does not necessarily agree with the cause of our distress – we might think it is –

  • My mother-in-law
  • My child who refuses to potty train
  • My boss who doesn’t seem to understand that I have children
  • My adult child who doesn’t call me
  • My messy house

Jesus does care – just not about the same thing that is bothering Martha.

Mary chose the “good part” – that was The one thing worth being concerned about – which certainly meant what Mary made her choice to do—sitting at Christ’s feet, to hear his word.

So, does Jesus not want to eat, you may ask? Don’t we have to attend to the needs of our families, especially when there are little ones that depend on our care for their very survival?

Of course. The Bible is clear in teaching that we have responsibilities to fulfill and it is godly to do so.

Yet, are we so busy that we neglect the “One Thing” that feeds our souls?

“Martha’s care and work were good in their proper season and place; but now she had something else to do, which was unspeakably more needful, and therefore should be done first, and most minded.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)

I had the privilege of participating this weekend in a women’s retreat sponsored by a local church, yet including ladies from various congregations. It was a precious time of fellowship, worship and teaching.

It was a time to focus on the One Thing – sitting at Jesus feet.

God was faithful to meet us and His presence was evident as we shared together.

I am so thankful that I was able to be like Mary this weekend  – sitting at Jesus feet.

 

 

Gathering Together

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“Make sure you invite Mrs. Woody, too.”

My friend Alice Marie called me to tell me about a gathering of woman which was going to take place the next evening. Her granddaughter, Lauren, had invited her and Lauren asked that she extend the invitation to me.

Well, when a former student made the effort to invite her old, retired teacher to something, I certainly wanted to go. Alice Marie and I made plans to meet and attend together.

What a blessing!

In a coffee shop next to the campus of Western Carolina University, close to 100 women of various ages gathered to fellowship, worship, hear testimonies, and just enjoy being together. There was nice food as well.

Several things blessed me about this gathering.

  • the variety of the ages of the women who came – too often we are segregated by age, which for certain activities is great. Yet, it was so refreshing to see women of various ages coming together to just enjoy each other AND the Lord’s presence.
  • the variety of the groups represented – there were many different campus groups, fellowships, churches, Bible studies, etc. represented. All came together to share the love of Jesus – something all have in common.
  • the atmosphere of love and grace present – there was no “hidden agenda”. There was no charge, no recruitment for membership, no pressure. The time of worship and sharing were just that – worship and sharing.
  • gifts were freely given – most everyone enjoys a present and the door prizes were lovely paintings reflecting the theme of the event – Jesus’ love.

I felt an overwhelming sense of love that evening. It was such a blessing seeing high school students who had invited their mothers and GRANDMOTHERS to share in this time together. College students invited their friends and neighbors and various community groups such as CrossFit invited ladies as well.

It was truly a gathering.

In John chapter 17 Jesus prays for us, His followers, all those who will ever believe in Jesus.

20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.

The world around us is going to believe that Jesus is God’s son, sent to redeem the world WHEN WE, HIS CHILDREN BECOME ONE –  UNIFIED IN HIS LOVE.

This gathering of women was a beautiful expression of the unity we share as God’s children. I pray that we all have opportunities to gather together and celebrate God’s love while at the same time sharing it with others.

Jesus prayed that we would be one as He and the Father are one. That should be our prayer as well.

If you live near enough, please come join the Gathering tonight, Monday, November 16th 7:00 pm at the Point Coffee Shop in Cullowhee. Prepare to be blessed!

Got Milk?

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Our new granddaughter is now 3 months old. She is starting to respond to her surroundings, especially her family.

Those first smiles make it all worth it, don’t they?

SO PRECIOUS!

She doesn’t cry much, which is a HUGE blessing since her 4 older brothers need a lot on supervision right now. They are at the “let me see what happens if I do this….” stage.

You will remember this stage if your children are older now because you found yourself saying things like:

  • What were you thinking?  … they weren’t thinking
  • Why did you do that?         ….there often is no reason
  • I can’t believe you did that! ….they can’t either
  • What is the matter with you?…they are children

Does God ever throw up His divine hands in exasperation? Knowing that His eye is on me… I’m sure He does.

But He never gives up!  Praise God!

Neither should we.

Back to our new granddaughter – she does let it be known when she is hungry. She is also quickly satisfied when she receives her mother’s milk. Babies are designed to crave the very things they need for healthy growth and development.

Peter has some words of instruction for us as we grow as Christians –

1 Peter 2: 1-3 (NLT)

2 So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. 2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, 3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.

We are encouraged to “cry out” for the nourishment we need from the Lord.

Notice that it says – “we must crave pure spiritual milk” so that we can grow into a full experience of salvation. It is an ongoing process.

I am also struck by the phrase “now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.”

It is the kindness of the Lord that leads us to repentance. Kind speech is the best way for us to reflect God’s kindness as we interact with our children, grandchildren, and each other.

Our challenge is to drink in that pure spiritual milk ….and let kindness pour out.

Harmony

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We have been blessed with a new granddaughter this week. She is adjusting well to life outside the quiet confines of the womb. Although, since babies hear inside the womb, having four brothers meant that maybe it wasn’t so quiet after all!

The blessing in this is that baby Rachel sleeps right through the busy play of her brothers – she is conditioned to the noise of active play.

The addition of this precious little one has given the impression that all the parts of this family form a coherent whole. Does that mean that if Rachel had been a boy, or another child had not been added to this family that it would not be complete?

Not at all.

It does mean that once a child is added to a family through birth or adoption it is hard to imagine the family without that child. Each member of the family has a part in the family that is unduplicated and special.

I remember when we found out I was pregnant with our 3rd child and her older sister was just 6 months old. I was overwhelmed and exhausted, yet here was another child growing inside me!

I cannot imagine our family without the presence of this child, now a mother herself.

In art, the definition of “harmony” is as follows –

“The arrangement of elements to give the viewer the feeling that all the parts of the piece form a coherent whole.”

Ephesians 4:3 Amplified Bible

3 Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of the Spirit in the binding power of peace.

 I love how the Amplified translation uses the phrase – “binding power of peace”.

What a beautiful image  – when we make the effort to keep harmony in our relationships, it will BIND us together in peace!

As an artist, I must be intentional about creating harmony in my art work. I cannot randomly add color or objects without a plan, otherwise the completed artwork will not be harmonious. I always sketch out my idea first on paper, even if I am planning to work in clay or make a handmade book. This way, I can see if the parts come together in harmony before I use valuable time and supplies. I can make needed adjustments in the sketch.

Romans 12:16 Amplified Bible

16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits.

Giving ourselves to humble tasks creates harmony.

My students often wanted to “just start painting – I know what I want to paint”. I required them to engage in the “humble” task of drawing first. It ALWAYS paid off.

Giving ourselves to humble tasks creates harmony in our relationships.

Changing diapers, cleaning the bathroom, planning meals ahead of time  – all these humble tasks create harmony. Instead of opening the refrigerator at 5:00 pm and seeing if there is anything for supper (my common practice when our children were small) planning meals ahead helps avoid stress when the family is hungry.

My friend Carol and I were sharing recently what a blessing it had been to have our mothers come and stay with us when our children were born. Both were wonderful examples of doing the humble tasks that helped create harmony in those days of adjustment after a new baby comes home.

Carol and I have both recently had the chance to do what our mothers did for us – now for our adult children. (Carol has had three new grandchildren this year!)

May we create harmony in our realtionships by binding ourselves together in peace and serving one another with humble tasks. What a blessing this will be to our families!

It’s All Who You Know

Who do I know/

Who do I know?

There was a LONG line outside the White House. It was so long that it snaked around the block farther than I could see. My father walked up to the gate and showed the official our passes.

“Go right in, Mr. Barker. Your guide is waiting for you.”

We went through the gate and met our guide for our special tour of the White House in Washington, DC. It was 1962, I was 11 years old and I still remember the impression it made on me to pass right in front of that long line, right on into the White House.

It‘s all who you know.

Our congressman, Elmer J. Hoffman, lived right across the street from us in Wheaton, Illinois where I grew up. He told my parents that if we ever visited Washington, DC to let him know. He could get us “Congressional passes” into the historic buildings with tours that allowed us to see more than the standard tour. These tours were all free, but there were long lines if you did not have a pass. My father figured we should take advantage of this generous offer – you never knew what might happen after an election!

It’s all who you know.

We sometimes try to apply this to our spiritual lives. We want to tell God that we deserve His favor because –

  • my grandmother was such a wonderful Christian
  • my father was a deacon in our church
  • my Sunday School teacher was Billy Graham’s wife
  • I’ve attended 5 Beth Moore Bible studies
  • I knew Third Day before they made it big
  • I’ve read all John Piper’s (Frances Chan’s , John McArthur’s, Francine River’s, C.S. Lewis’) books

We think it’s all about who we know.

It is.

But not the way our culture means it.
There is ONLY one we need to know – the One and Only. The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords.
Jesus.
Acts 4: 10-12
10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is ”the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.” 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Jesus is the One we need to know.

Are we concerned about knowing the “right” people? Do we want our children and grandchildren to know the “right people”?
Paul was an accomplished man who had every reason to pride himself in who he knew. He was a descendant of the tribe of Benjamin and had many impressive credentials.

Yet Paul makes it very plain – it was all MEANINGLESS compared to knowing Jesus.
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

It is all who you know.

It’s all about Jesus.

How Are You Doing?

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“How’s it going?” “How ya doin’?”

A common phrase we often greet one another with – but do we mean it?

If you are like my husband, you ask yourself – does this stranger really want to know how I am?

What would this person in the waiting room do if I told them that “my car is making a strange noise and I am planning a trip to see my mother and father – my father is 90 and they live in Wheaton, Illinois and it looks like they might have snow up there so I a bit concerned about driving all that way and especially if the car is making a strange noise…”

Get the picture?

It would be “random”, as my students say, if I told each person my life story. We have a phrase for that in our family – “like Aunt Cil”.

Phil’s Aunt Priscilla lived to be 90 and lived alone many of those years either in High Point, North Carolina or Moravian Falls, North Carolina. If people talked to her – she had a LOT to say in return. In any store, restaurant, or ANYPLACE we went where there were people – if anyone asked Aunt Cil “How are you?” she would tell them. Not only would she tell them how she was, she would also tell them about her family members that were with her. “This is my nephew, Phillip and his wife Gayle. They live in Cullowhee and have four children, two are in college, …”

Get the picture?

We certainly do NOT need to tell total strangers our life story. When most people say “How’s it going?” they are being congenial, they are not expecting more than “fine, or doing well.”

But what if things are not well? Should I lie?

In II Kings 4:25-26 a woman deals with just this issue. She has a LOT going on. Her precious son – her only child – has just died.

She had been promised this son, without asking – by the prophet Elisha. (see II Kings 4: 8-17)-NKJV

Now that son had died after a severe headache – possibly an aneurism – we don’t know – but we are told that the pain came on suddenly and the child died in her arms.

18 And the child grew. Now it happened one day that he went out to his father, to the reapers. 19 And he said to his father, “My head, my head!”

So he said to a servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 When he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. 21 And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut the door upon him, and went out. 22 Then she called to her husband, and said, “Please send me one of the young men and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God and come back.”

23 So he said, “Why are you going to him today? It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath.”

And she said, “It is well.” 24 Then she saddled a donkey, and said to her servant, “Drive, and go forward; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.” 25 And so she departed, and went to the man of God at Mount Carmel.

So it was, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to his servant Gehazi, “Look, the Shunammite woman! 26 Please run now to meet her, and say to her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?’”

And she answered, “It is well.” 27 Now when she came to the man of God at the hill, she caught him by the feet, but Gehazi came near to push her away. But the man of God said, “Let her alone; for her soul is in deep distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me, and has not told me.”

IT IS WELL? What?

Her son has just DIED!!!

“Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with your child?” Gehazi, Elisha’s servant asks in verse 26.

And she answered, “It is well.”

How could she say this? This woman of faith only wanted to talk to Elisha, the man of God who by his request to God had enabled her to have a son in the first place.

This Shunammite woman (we don’t know her name) could say “It is well” because her faith was in the God of Elisha.

II Kings 4:32-37 relates the healing of her son. She answered “It is well” BEFORE her son was healed. That is the attitude I should have – God is in control – it is well. No matter what happens – it is well.

She could TRUTHFULLY say “It is well” because she trusted God. If our faith and trust are in the God of the universe, no matter what we are facing OR the outcome, we say – because God is God –

“It is well”

 

 

In the Waiting Room

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Tomorrow my dear friend Carol is having knee replacement surgery. Carol is a nurse and you know what they say about nurses…

they make the worst patients!

(Carol’s husband tells about the birth of their 1st child and how what he experienced during labor and delivery was like wrestling a grizzly bear)

Why is this? Why do nurses make difficult patients?

Because they know too much.

They know all the little things that can go wrong and that could cause serious concerns during surgery. They have seen things happen that shouldn’t happen. They know that doctors and nurses are humans with feet of clay – just like the rest of us (only smarter). I know Carol will be an exemplary patient tomorrow. She has to be – these are her co-workers!

I visited Carol this evening to take her a little gift, but mostly because I wanted to pray with her. We have been friends since we were two years old and have shared ALL of life’s important events together. (well, almost all…) I wanted to pray that God would bless her tomorrow and give her PEACE.

Now she must wait. It is so hard to wait. Our vivid imaginations can run wild with scenarios of possible outcomes.

We as women are often called on to wait. We may have to wait

  • to get pregnant
  • to give birth
  • for ugly hair color to grow out
  • until “things to settle down”  (does that ever happen?)
  • for children after a practice or rehearsal
  • for children to be potty trained
  • for children to move out
  • for children to come back
  • for answered prayer

This list could go on and on. Life is full of waiting.

These times of waiting can either produce impatience and irritation in us, or peace and calm. The key is where our trust lies.

Romans 8:17-22  (NLT)

17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering     18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

We all, as God’s children, are in the waiting room of God’s kingdom. I believe that we have a faithful God who we can trust to fulfill His purposes in His time.

What are you waiting for?

Do you have peace, or are you impatient and irritable?

I have been impatient at times and at other times I have been full of faith and peace. When I feel that irritation and impatience, I need to “fix my eyes in Jesus” who is the source of hope and peace. (Hebrews 11)

Carol is trusting God.  She has many family and friend praying for her – we will all be in the “waiting room” eager to hear the outcome.

May we all have the attitude David expresses in –

Psalm 62:5 (NLT)

5 Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him.

Amen