An invitation to the table

My daughter says her friends call her the “Snack Queen.”

She always has snacks, she tells me.  Everyday, she’s handing out granola bars, breakfast bars, pretzels and mini-muffins.

I tell her that’s what my friend calls me:  “The Snack Queen.”  How can we have the same nickname?

So, she accepts  a downgrade.  “I’m the Snack Princess then.”

We laugh about it and I think the title fits.  After all, the Snack Princess has snacks with her to share because The Snack Queen gives them to her.

I like to pack little snacks wherever I go.  Little ones can sit through a lot if they have a cup of goldfish, and life seems a little less tragic to a tired three-year-old when they have fruit snacks to ease the pain of sharing or missing naptime.

Long days of errands and waiting rooms are so much easier with Cheerios.

Maybe I come by this honestly because Jesus seemed to serve up a lot of snacks, too.

In fact, Jesus perpetually invited those around Him to fellowship over food.  He invited them to feast.

Jesus began his ministry with the wedding party at Cana and went on his way, eating with sinners and tax collectors, having dinner at Matthew’s house and Peter’s house, Zaccheus’s house and in Bethany with Mary and Martha.

He multiplied lunches into picnic spreads that fed thousands and then served the disciples the bread and the wine on the night He was betrayed.

After His resurrection, He  cooked up breakfast over a fire by the side of the sea to feed the hungry disciples who had been out fishing.

I love this about Jesus, how He meets us right there in the nitty gritty of life, the eating and drinking and sleeping.  He doesn’t preach at us to be more spiritual or act like none of these physical realities around us are necessary or even good.

Other philosophies told people to deny the material world.  It didn’t exist.

Jesus told His followers to come, sit, and eat, not because the physical reality is better  or more important, but because it is part of living with Him.

He entered right in to humanity and broke down the dividing line–the spiritual, the physical.  It can be both and it can be good.

Our Jesus, who laid out feasts for  His followers and who told stories over meals, shows us this:

  • He PROVIDES:

He provides for our physical needs, handing out fish and loaves to  a crowd that had nothing.  But He does more.  He handed the disciples the Passover bread and the wine in the cup and He told them to remember.  This was His body.  This was His blood.

Jesus provides not just for physical needs, but for our deepest, desperate spiritual need for  a Savior, satisfying the greatest hunger we will ever have with the Bread of Life Himself.

  • WE’re welcomed in

There is a place at the table for us and He welcomes us in.  Pharisees and tax collectors, sinners and religious scribes all dined with Jesus. He is a God who invites.

That means the invitation is there for us to accept or decline, not just for a feast here and now, but for the marriage feast we can share with Him in heaven if we’ve followed Him as our Savior.

The angel declares:

Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9 ESV).

  • HE GIVES US REASON TO  CELEBRATE

Because we are so blessed, because we as Jesus-followers anticipate this great heavenly feast, we celebrate!  We raise the roof with our joy!

We should become people of invitation,  because we’ve also been invited.  We welcome, because we have been welcomed.

Jesus gave His very own self for us so that we could be saved and that is cause for rejoicing indeed!

Isaiah describes the wonderful sight:

On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.  Isaiah 25:6-8

This will be the ultimate joy, not just individual salvation, but redemption for this whole fallen physical world.

All that has been broken and destroyed by sin will be restored and made new. It will be made right as He lays out the table with the marriage feast, and we who believe Him and follow Him and love Him join Him at the table.

What My Monday Soul Needs to Know

My resolution for Monday:

1chronicles

Photo by just2shutter; 123rf.com

To breathe in and breathe out, deep taking in of peace and pushing out of contentment.  No catching my breath in anxiety, hyperventilating stress, and rushing to the point of breathless exhaustion.

Just breathe.  Move through the day without giving into the push, push, push of “faster, more, do, accomplish, check off the list, get it done.”  Walk as I vacuum, walk as I put away the clothes.  Make that phone call without simultaneously folding underwear and t-shirts.

And spend time with Jesus for relationship not for task-completion.

The temptation is there, of course.  It’s the curse of Monday.  All of the spillover from last week, the messages to read through and answer after taking a Sabbath from all of that “connection” over the weekend, and the new tasks ahead clamor at me for attention.

What was that email I needed to send?
Wasn’t there someone I needed to call?
Was I behind on my reading, my commitments?
Didn’t I need to print this for the week and pack that for tonight and fill out that form and mail back that letter?

It’s a million tiny things nipping at the heels of my Jesus-focused life, yipping and yapping until I turn my attention from Him.

And then when I do sit down to rest at His feet, dear Father, oh my Father, I am so thankful to be in Your presence ….

Still I fail.  Still I pop up every few minutes for the ding of the laundry and the starting of the meal, and the reminder of something else needing to be done.

My time with Him becomes stilted, becomes stale, becomes necessary without being the fresh oxygen in my soul I need for very survival and beyond that, the abundant life He promises.  Necessary only because it’s an assignment, like homework for school.

It’s more like: Read the assigned Bible reading.  Check.  Read the passage in the study for this week’s group discussion.  Check.  Complete the other Bible study . . . while interrupted and racing against the clock:

Must…..finish…..so…..I…..can….check….this….off…..my…..list….and……do…..other…..things.

I wonder if He’d prefer if I just skipped it all rather than flop down at this kitchen table half-hearted and thinking about 50 things clearly more important than He is to me in that moment.

This isn’t relationship.  This is business.

In his book, Prayer, Richard J. Foster wrote:

“Today the heart of God is an open wound of love.  He aches over our distance and preoccupation.  He mourns that we do not draw near to him.  He grieves that we have forgotten him.  He weeps over our obsession with muchness and manyness.  He longs for our presence…

We do not need to be shy.  He invites us into the living room of his heart, where we can put on old slippers and share freely.  he invites us into the kitchen of his friendship, where chatter and batter mix in good fun.  He invites us into the dining room of his strength, where we can feast to our heart’s delight….” (p. 1)

Maybe that’s my problem.  I’ve been barely acknowledging His presence at times at my kitchen table.  Perhaps I should take up His invitation to hang out in His kitchen.  To eat in His presence and share in good company and the intimacy of friendship, not on my terms, but at His offering.

At the Last Supper, the apostle John leaned against Jesus, drew in close and rested against the Savior, even while realizing that Jesus was about to be betrayed (John 13:25).

Why be more like Peter, who in shame and frustration, perhaps even anger at the destruction of his plans and agenda, certainly in fear…”followed him (Jesus) at a distance” (Matthew 26:58) after Christ’s arrest.

Sure, I’m always following, I’m a faithful kind of girl, trailing after God always.  But sometimes I’m just stepping into the imprint of His footsteps rather than walking by His side, following out of obedience only, mostly out of distracted busyness and duty.

This year, I’m pursuing the presence of Christ In August, that means I’m learning to say, ‘no.’  I’m saying it today: “No” to the stress of do and do.  “No” to hyperventilating heaviness of breathless rush.

Today I resolve to breathe in and breathe out, to linger here at the table with Jesus and lean into His presence.  No rushing up from the meal to pursue my own agenda.  No skimming through the page of Scripture to get to the end of the assigned reading.

Leaning into Jesus.  Breathing in and breathing out.  Then walking side by side with Him into my day, not tripping along behind: holding His hand and chatting along the journey.

Originally published October 15, 2012

Why do we call this Friday “Good?”

She asked me why we call it “Good Friday.”  Why “good?”

Why “Happy Easter” or “Happy Resurrection Day?”

What makes this so “happy?”

How could we celebrate this death, this sacrifice, this sadness?  We should be so much more serious and sad, she tells me.1corinthians11

Like the disciples who mourned, like Mary Magdalene crying beside the tomb, surely we should remember this day with tears.

This she asks in confusion.

On Thursday, we ate the bread and drank the cup.

That’s what Jesus said that night in the upper room with disciples scattered around:

This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19 NIV).

So, we remember.

She is thinking of grape juice and crackers, a snack when you’re hungry, but I tell her it’s more than that.

And she asks, why do this?  Why talk about blood–so gross, so morbid and earthy?

It’s too corporeal for holiness and for the sacred places, the striking red against the purity of the righteous life.

Why Mom?

That’s yucky.

I think today about the remembrance of it all and why it matters.

Today is Good Friday.

Last year, Good Friday was also the eight-year anniversary of my dad’s death.

So I sat with my daughter brushing her hair and telling her about my dad: little remembrances here and there and what makes that day special.

Then what makes this a day holy and set apart from other days?  Why Good Friday?1peter2

Because there’s beauty in the remembrance.  There’s honor and power in recollection.

I think this about my dad.  Talking about him makes his life real here and now after death.  It makes it more tangible, relevant.

These daughters of mine who never knew him and only see the pictures in a photo album, mostly after he was sick and didn’t look like the dad I remember, what other way for them to know than for me to tell?

And you just don’t want the anniversary of his death to slip by forgotten because it would be forgetting him.

Is it any different remembering our Savior in this season?

In German, they don’t call this day Good.  They call it Mourning Friday.

But isn’t that the beauty of this day?  That even as we remember Christ’s death, even as we talk about the cross and give it true attention, even as we drink the cup so apt to stain white and we eat the bread broken, even as we tell our children the stories and we say:

This is what He did for us.  Not some pristine ritual, not something pure and clean.  It was bloody and painful.  It was death.  It was hard.  And sacrifice like that was suffering. 

It wasn’t pushed on Him because He was too weak.  Jesus “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:7-8 NIV).

This is what He chose to do for us because of love so great. 

Love so good.  Love so amazing, so divine…

Even as we say this and tell this to our children, the beauty of remembering the cross isn’t just the Mourning of our Savior, it’s the Good News that the resurrection came.

Why Good?

Why Happy?

I tell her remembering is how we worship, how we give thanks, how we honor His gift to us.

And that gift wasn’t just a trinket wrapped in a package with a bow.

It was good.  Truly good.  The greatest gift at the highest price.

And the resurrection; that’s our joy.  What better reason to be happy than to know the cross was not the end and the tomb didn’t destroy our hope?

Because of this, we have life everlasting.

And because of that day, we can see any crisis as an opportunity for Him to shine with resurrection power, to resurrect the dead, to defy all expectations and trample all over the circumstantial evidence by doing the impossible.

Yes, this remembering is good.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

How Pioneer Women Were Superheroes and Why I’m Baking Bread

I measure out the honey, heap it onto the tablespoon and let it drip slowly (as honey does) into the warm milk.

I could have grabbed a loaf off the grocery store shelf.  One loaf in a plastic bag, pre-sliced, and BAM–bread.

Not this time.

I pour in the bread flour.  One cup, now two, now three.

Why not just keep this simple?  Why not a box of crackers from the store?  A bag of pita bread?

I can’t explain it exactly, but I want to push elbow deep into the dough and knead it with my own two weak hands.

Surely I’ve been kneading for 10 minutes already.

It’s been two minutes exactly.

I think maybe my clock is broken.

Those pioneer women were superheroes, performing muscular feats of miraculous strength everyday at the kitchen table.  Maybe not leaping over skyscrapers and flying through space, but baking that daily loaf of bread, that takes power.bethmoore

I’m a modern-day wimp, so this pounding out the dough and stretching it and pounding some more is breathless work.

But it gives me time to think about this:

In the Tabernacle that Moses and the Israelites packed up and toted around the wilderness, God set His Presence right in the midst of His people.

He told them how to craft the Holy objects, the washbasin, the altar.

And He told them to place fresh bread on the table once a week, the shewbread.  But I read in my Bible its other name: “the bread of the Presence (Exodus 39:36).

The priests placed that bread on the table and there it sat every single day, not in the Most Holy Place where the High Priest entered once a year.

No, in the Holy Place, where the priests came in day after day to worship before God.

They walked in that sacred space and there was the bread.  There it was.  There it always was.

The moment it started to crackle with staleness, they brought in fresh, warm bread, baked new and placed it once again, a daily reminder of the daily presence of our God.

This bread is to be set out before the Lord regularly, Sabbath after Sabbath, on behalf of the Israelites, as a lasting covenant (Leviticus 24:5-8 NIV)

I set my own bread dough on the oven to rise and sit down to my Bible study book and cup of tea.  That’s when I read it… Beth Moore tells me in her study on David:

The Hebrew term for presence is paneh, which means ‘countenance, presence, or face.’  The everlasting covenant symbolized by the bread of the Presence was a reminder of the pledge of God’s presence to His people.

That bread on that altar reminded God’s people that He was with them, yes, even there in the wilderness.

Even there with David as he ran from Saul, hiding in caves, feigning madness, running for his life.  He used that same Hebrew word–paneh—when he wrote:

For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help (Psalm 22:4 NIV).

My bread is in the oven now, giving the whole house a domestic smell, a fresh and warm aroma.

As it bakes, I consider Christ, because He’s the Bread of Life—God in the flesh, God in our midst, the touchable and tangible sign of God’s presence, the way we could see the face of God.

And Jesus, when He broke that bread and passed that cup around the Passover table, said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Every single time you eat the bread and you drink the cup, you remember Christ’s death.  But also His presence. 

“Christ is the bread of God’s presence to us” (Beth Moore, David).

Steven Furtick asks if this Communion we take could “also be an invitation to constant communion with Christ?  For each of us, everywhere, each day?”  (Crash the Chatterbox, p. 152).

So, if I’m feeling the staleness, the crusty or even moldy sign of old bread, then what I need to do is remember. 

I need to renew the Bread of His Presence right here in my life.

I slice off a piece of this warm, newly baked bread.

I pour out the grape juice in my tiny tea cup.

There I pray,  My Lord, I remember what You have done for me.  I am so thankful.  So unworthy.  Will You cleanse my heart?  Will You remind me of Your Presence here in my life?

Communion, this sacred act, becomes personal, a way for the holy to invade my daily: this home, this kitchen, this kitchen table.

God’s presence in this place.

How do you pray before taking Communion?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

Broken for you

I always break the cracker myself.

Always.

I can’t even quite remember when I started.  As a kid, I think, maybe even still in elementary school.Image credit: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/photo_16530775_taking-communion.html'>jordachelr / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

The deacons silently handed out the plate of crackers or bread or wafers or whatever they used for communion that day.

No matter how small it already was, when the pastor read the verse, “This is my body, broken for you.  Do this in remembrance of me…” I folded that tiny white sliver in half and then slipped it into my mouth with my eyes squeezed tight.

The King James says this, “Broken for you….”

My Bible now reads “Given for you….”

Scripture translation doesn’t impact how personal this is, how personally I should take it sitting there in my comfortably cushioned chair in a carpeted sanctuary.

Because Jesus’ brokenness wasn’t just for someone, for all of us, for mankind, for her, for him, for them, for those in the past…..

It was:

for you.

It was:

for me.

That’s why I smash that wafer into two with my own fingers and cradle the pieces in my own palm before we eat the bread together: because this was Christ’s sacrifice for me and it was because of me, because of my own sin in a world of sinners.

It’s too easy to feel rising self-righteousness, thinking that my redeemed self isn’t so bad, my sin not so ugly, my life not so messy.

And then that creeping lie of merit demolishes the truth of grace.  Even when I sing the words, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me,” I’m not meaning it.  Not truly.  I’m singing about other wretches maybe, but surely not me, surely not my own good-girl self.

Holding two slivers of a broken symbol of Christ’s sacrificial body, though, reminds me that He chose the brokenness.

And why?

Because I was hopelessly broken.

It’s not a romanticized brokenness, this need of mine for a Savior.  It’s not that I’m just slightly messy or flaky or flighty, scatter-brained, forgetful, overwhelmed, rushed, busy, or humorously real in a world that tends to pretend perfection.

Sure, we’re all human.  We don’t always keep our houses clean.  Sometimes we lose our temper with our kids.  There are bad days and mistakes.

But I’m not talking the kind of brokenness we laugh about in blog posts, where we confess not so much sin as just life in all its crazy reality.

I’m talking about the kind of brokenness where we drop to our knees in repentance, true repentance, where we face the fact that we’re sinners and that there is ugliness in us.

And we don’t just accept that with apathetic shrugs of our shoulders.

That’s just how I am.  That’s how everyone is.  That’s what is realistic.  That’s how God made me.  That’s just how people will have to accept me.  Nobody’s perfect.

Sometimes that’s what we say.  We commiserate with lost tempers and jealousy in small group conversations and we act as if it doesn’t matter.

But just because that’s normal, doesn’t mean it’s right.  Doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to God or holy or pure or righteous.

I never really choose brokenness myself. It’s not something I seek out or glorify or want.  Yet, God reveals the broken places not so I can connect with others with a funny story, but so I don’t forget that:

He is perfect; I am not.

He deserves glory; I don’t.

He paid the price for my salvation; I didn’t earn it.

He doesn’t use me because of my skills, abilities, training; He can use me in my weakness so that others see His strength.

The humbling makes us usable, makes us dependent on Him, makes us desire His work in us, the kind that doesn’t leave us broken and sin-invaded forever, but inspires us to intimacy with Him that brings life-revolutionary change.

And while I don’t usually choose this brokenness—more like I run away from it, hide from it, try to escape it and pretend it doesn’t exist–it’s beautiful the way He uses it, beautiful the way it’s transformed in His hands.

Beautiful the way I remember that while I avoid brokenness, Jesus chose it for me.

Here the King James version falls short.  Yes, his body was “broken for you”–but not because others were more powerful or Satan overcame Him or He wasn’t able to save Himself.  This wasn’t passive.

Instead, I read today in my Bible:

And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me (Luke 22:19 HCSB).

Jesus gave His body over to us.

This I remember.  This I bow my head and give humble thanks for.  This is why I break the bread with my own hands, because  He chose the brokenness and He chose it for me.

Heather King is a busy-but-blessed wife and mom, a Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

What Makes this Good?

She asked me why we call it “Good Friday.”  Why “good?”

Why “Happy Easter” or “Happy Resurrection Day?”

What makes this so “happy?”

How could we celebrate this death, this sacrifice, this sadness?  We should be so much more serious and sad, she tells me.P1040320

Like the disciples who mourned, like Mary Magdalene crying beside the tomb, surely we should remember this day with tears.

This she asks in confusion.

On Thursday, we ate the bread and drank the cup.

That’s what Jesus said that night in the upper room with disciples scattered around:  “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19 NIV).

So, we remember.

She is thinking of grape juice and crackers, a snack when you’re hungry, but I tell her it’s more than that.

And she asks, why do this?  Why talk about blood–so gross, so morbid and earthy?

It’s too corporeal for holiness and for the sacred places, the striking red against the purity of the righteous life.

Why Mom?

That’s yucky.

I think today about the remembrance of it all and why it matters.

Today is Good Friday.

It’s also the eight-year anniversary of my dad’s death.

This morning, I sat with my daughter brushing her hair and telling her about my dad: little remembrances here and there and what makes today special.

So, what makes this a day holy and set apart from other days?  Why Good Friday?

Because there’s beauty in the remembrance.  There’s honor and power in recollection.

I think this about my dad today.  Talking about him makes his life real here and now after death.  It makes it more tangible, relevant.

These daughters of mine who never knew him and only see the pictures in a photo album, mostly after he was sick and didn’t look like the dad I remember, what other way for them to know than for me to tell?

And you just don’t want this day to slip by forgotten because it would be forgetting him.

Is it any different remembering our Savior in this season?

In German, they don’t call this day Good.  They call it Mourning Friday.

But isn’t that the beauty of this day?  That even as we remember Christ’s death, even as we talk about the cross and give it true attention, even as we drink the cup so apt to stain white and we eat the bread broken, even as we tell our children the stories and we say:

This is what He did for us.  Not some pristine ritual, not something pure and clean.  It was bloody and painful.  It was death.  It was hard.  And sacrifice like that was suffering. 

It wasn’t pushed on Him because He was too weak.  Jesus “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:7-8 NIV).

This is what He chose to do for us because of love so great. 

Love so good.  Love so amazing, so divine…

Even as we say this and tell this to our children, the beauty of remembering the cross isn’t just the Mourning of our Savior, it’s the Good News that the resurrection came.

Why Good?

Why Happy?

I tell her remembering is how we worship, how we give thanks, how we honor His gift to us.

And that gift wasn’t just a trinket wrapped in a package with a bow.

It was good.  Truly good.  The greatest gift at the highest price.

And the resurrection; that’s our joy.  What better reason to be happy than to know the cross was not the end and the tomb didn’t destroy our hope?

Because of this, we have life everlasting.

And because of that day, we can see any crisis as an opportunity for Him to shine with resurrection power, to resurrect the dead, to defy all expectations and trample all over the circumstantial evidence by doing the impossible.

Yes, this remembering is good.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Transforming the To-Do List

Maybe it’s March, but I still felt a little sadness when my first and second grader stepped onto the school bus this morning. 007

It makes sense how I cried that first time my “babies” went off for a whole day of school or even how I miss them that first day after summer break.

But it’s three-quarters of the way through the year and still it hits me: how tall they are and how beautiful, how the school year is almost over and they are learning so much (“Mom, do you know some deserts receive as little as 1 inch of rainfall?”).

I’m so blessed by their school, so thankful that the teachers and staff bring out the best in them.  It’s just that time with these girls is so precious; sometimes I forget, today I remember.

Maybe it’s on my mind this morning because on Sunday I sat in a darkened auditorium, snuggled up to my daughters (this one in my arms, that one resting against my shoulder, another by my side).  We watched my husband portray a Confederate officer in 1860’s Virginia on the stage.

The actors told a story of a family in a war, men writing to mothers and wives, women writing to husbands and sons, and they were lonely, scared, confident, and worried about household things and the end of life as they knew it.

Somehow it was a story about a War that was really more about a family.

Then at the end of it all, in a southern drawl, my husband said: “May we never again take for granted all the blessings God has given us: the love of family and friends; the beauty of the work around us; the sanctity of life; and the endless opportunities we have each day to make things right” (When Peace Again Shall Smile, by Catherine Witty, adapted from letters from the Taliaferro family of Gloucester Virginia).

You learn these lessons when life is tragic and hard and you might lose everything.

But today, in the middle of the mundane and ordinary, I’m thinking about to-do lists and how they always tell us what we’re doing, but not who we’re doing it for. 

I’m thinking indeed about that love of family and friends, the beauty of the work, the holiness of the life.

I sweep through my house, scrubbing down the sinks, emptying trash cans, rinsing out cereal bowls and filling the dishwasher, stripping down the sheets for washing day.

And I think, “Oh, I need to clean that…” not “let me wash this for my daughters” or “this is a way to bless my husband.”

That’s never how a to-do list sounds, after all.  It would take all day just to write out a list like that.

Besides, what never makes it on the to-do list at all are sometimes the most important things.  Like a three-year-old running through the house scared in the early hours of the morning and snuggling up close for safety….or conversations on the ride home from school….or connect-the-dot-pages….or listening to piano practice.

Our to-do lists might be necessary beasts, helping us at least accomplish something and keeping ourselves slightly sane in the midst of it all.

Yet, today I’m thinking “off book,” and that maybe if I thought more about who I’m serving instead of just what I have to do, it’d keep all this life in perspective.

I do this in love.  These acts are showing I care.  This I wash, this I fold, this I pick up because I love and because I am loved.  I show grace because I just need so heaping much of it.

Didn’t God always keep the people in mind and not just the task?

He didn’t make the list: “Send a spokesperson to Pharaoh.  End slavery.  Lead nation across Red Sea.”

No, God, told Moses:

I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians….So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:7&10).

And Jesus, our Savior, didn’t come because theology made His to-d0 list, not doctrine, or the need to check off a box on a divine agenda.

He said it to the disciples crowded around a Passover table:

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me (Luke 22:19 NIV).

It was for them….it was for us.

This day remember all that you do is done for another—for a friend, for family, for others, for a Savior who gave so much to you.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Weekend Walk, 03/31/2012

Hiding the Word:

It’s the first full day of Spring Break for us and my kids were up early.  My oldest daughter announced that one of her friends plans to “sleep all day” for spring break.  “How boring!” she said.

My kids plan to pack in as much activity as possible.

So, it wasn’t even 8 a.m. yet when one of my girls was inspired to start singing.  She pulled out a travel CD of Bible songs that Grammy gave them a few Christmases ago and popped it into the CD player in her bedroom.  I started hearing the chorus of “Deep and Wide” emanate through the house . . . loudly.  This daughter of mine always sings with passion.

Inspired, my baby girl ran into the playroom and pulled out the entire plastic drum of instruments.  The harmonica was humming, the cymbals crashing, the sleigh bells jingling, the clackers clacking, the triangle jingling.  Yes, even the kazoo was buzzing.

It was an early morning symphony of praise in my tiny house and it may have sounded like pots and pans at times down here.  To God, though, it’s spontaneity and passion must have sounded beautiful.

We are preparing to enter the Passion Week, the time when we remember Good Friday when Christ died for us and Resurrection Day when He conquered death and the grave.  When Jesus entered Jerusalem for that final week, the people filled the air with waving palm branches and shouted, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:13).

They shouted praise to Him because of false expectations and misplaced excitement.  They didn’t praise Him for being a Savior, for laying down His own life to provide redemption for their sins.

No, they hailed Him as a conqueror, rebel, and over-thrower of the earthly kingdoms.  When they realized that’s not what He was doing, they mostly abandoned Him. The palm branches stopped waving.  The people stopped shouting “Hosanna” and started shouting “Crucify Him.”

My praise can be tainted by misplaced expectations also.

So, this week, I am meditating on a verse that reminds me to praise God when He behaves the way I expect and when He doesn’t.  It’s my hope to sing praise to God with the passionate simplicity of children crooning with their Bible songs CD and clanging together toy instruments.

It seems appropriate to prepare for the Passion Week with praise:

I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!  (Psalm 34:1-3 ESV)

Weekend Rerun:

Am I the One, Lord?
Originally posted on April 5, 2011

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.”  2 Cor. 13:15

Twelve disciples, one Savior, reclined and relaxed, celebrating Passover together in an Upper Room.  Thirteen share in a meal of remembrance that they would always remember and that we continue to remember.   The Last Supper.  Communion.  “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Together they have eaten and laughed, declared “For His mercy endures forever” and sung hymns in worship.  They are jovial, anticipatory, expecting Christ’s triumph in Jerusalem.

Jesus leans in, “While they were eating, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me’ (Matthew 26:21, NLT).

Silence.  Stillness.  Seriousness.

If Jesus said this at the end of a church service today and the pianist played the quiet first notes of the closing hymn, many of us would be nudging our neighbor or making concerted efforts NOT to stare at the person across the room.  (Or, perhaps, making lunch plans and quieting the rumbles in our stomachs.)  It’s you, it’s you, it’s you—we might think.  That sermon is for you!  That heaviness of the Holy Spirit—it’s for you!  I’ve seen your sin.   I know your need to repent.

And yet, 12 disciples, “greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, ‘Am I the one, Lord?’” (Matthew 26:22, NLT).

Am I the one, Lord?

This seeking is our salvation.  We ask the dangerous question and we allow the Holy Spirit to turn over our hearts and reveal our own true need to be at the altar and lay it down.  Or the Holy Spirit searches, finds purity of heart, and invites us to pray for those around us still struggling.

It’s our complacency and satisfaction with our spiritual dwelling place that leads to our downfall.  It’s when we stake our claim to land and decide we’ve traveled enough in this road to Christ that we edge our way to danger.  I’m pure enough.  Good enough.  I’m not lukewarm.  I’ve conquered the “big” sins.  I read my Bible.  I pray.  I’m close to God.  I have a strong ministry.

I’m good.  Right here, in this place, I’m good here.

But this journey to Christ is ongoing.  As long as we are alive on this planet, we are imperfect creatures in need of an ever-closer intimacy with our Savior.

This moving to Christ requires moving away from something else.  It’s a necessity of the road.   In order to go forward, we must leave something behind.

That was true for Israel.  God called them to Canaan when He beckoned Abram out of Mesopotamia and its many gods and idols.  God called them back to the Promised Land when He led them out of Egypt and they left slavery for freedom.

They walked towards promise, but it involved rejection—rejecting the old definition of “normal.”  It was “normal” for those in Abram’s home town to pray to statues and worship bits of stone and wood.  It was “normal” in Egypt for male babies to be slaughtered simply for population control.

It’s “normal” for us to be too busy for God, to lose it with our kids, to be selfish, to feel jealousy, to cheat, to lie, to overindulge , to worry, to rebel, to gossip. . .  We think these sins are acceptable because everyone does them and no one can be perfect.

Yet, God calls us out of “normal” and into radical.  He doesn’t ask us the hard questions to shame us or humiliate us.  He does it to draw us close to Him so that we are “being transformed . . .from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NKJV).

Eugene Peterson wrote, “Repentance, the first word in Christian immigration, sets us on the way to traveling in the light.  It is a rejection that is also an acceptance, a leaving that develops into an arriving, a no to the world that is a yes to God.”

Peter sat at that Passover table and asked the dangerous question, “Am I the one, Lord?”  He allowed the searching of his heart.  It wasn’t him.  Eleven of those at the table endured their souls being turned over and could say that they were innocent of this betrayal.

Yet, then they stopped asking.  That’s our weakness, too.   When we stop asking the Holy Spirit to search us, when we become complacent and self-assured, it’s when we will betray.

Like Peter.  Jesus predicted Peter would deny Him.  “Peter answered and said to Him, ‘Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.’  Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crowd, you will deny Me three times.’  Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’  And so said all the disciples” (Matthew 26:33-35, NKJV).

But, he was wrong.  Jesus arrested.  Jesus taken away in chains.  Jesus bullied, beaten, spat on, and mocked.  Peter in the courtyard answering the questioning accusations of others by the fire.  “I never knew the fellow.  I wasn’t one of his disciples.  I didn’t follow Him.”

He stumbled into betrayal because he was complacent.  Peter thought he knew what was in his heart, that he was right with God and strong in his faith.  So, he stopped asking, “Am I the one, Lord?” and started saying, “Not I.”

And so we must ask and keep on asking, “Search my heart, search my soul.  There is nothing else that I want more.  Shine Your light and show Your face.  In my life, Lord, have Your way, have Your way” (Hillsong United).

*******************************************************************************************************

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Am I the One, Lord?

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.”  2 Cor. 13:15

Twelve disciples, one Savior, reclined and relaxed, celebrating Passover together in an Upper Room.  Thirteen share in a meal of remembrance that they would always remember and that we continue to remember.   The Last Supper.  Communion.  “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Together they have eaten and laughed, declared “For His mercy endures forever” and sung hymns in worship.  They are jovial, anticipatory, expecting Christ’s triumph in Jerusalem.

Jesus leans in, “While they were eating, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me’ (Matthew 26:21, NLT).

Silence.  Stillness.  Seriousness.

If Jesus said this at the end of a church service today and the pianist played the quiet first notes of the closing hymn, many of us would be nudging our neighbor or making concerted efforts NOT to stare at the person across the room.  (Or, perhaps, making lunch plans and quieting the rumbles in our stomachs. )  It’s you, it’s you, it’s you—we might think.  That sermon is for you!  That heaviness of the Holy Spirit—it’s for you!  I’ve seen your sin.   I know your need to repent.

And yet, 12 disciples, “greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, ‘Am I the one, Lord?'” (Matthew 26:22, NLT).

Am I the one, Lord?

This seeking is our salvation.  We ask the dangerous question and we allow the Holy Spirit to turn over our hearts and reveal our own true need to be at the altar and lay it down.  Or the Holy Spirit searches, finds purity of heart, and invites us to pray for those around us still struggling.

It’s our complacency and satisfaction with our spiritual dwelling place that leads to our downfall.  It’s when we stake our claim to land and decide we’ve traveled enough in this road to Christ that we edge our way to danger.  I’m pure enough.  Good enough.  I’m not lukewarm.  I’ve conquered the “big” sins.  I read my Bible.  I pray.  I’m close to God.  I have a strong ministry.

I’m good.  Right here, in this place, I’m good here.

But this journey to Christ is ongoing.  As long as we are alive on this planet, we are imperfect creatures in need of an ever-closer intimacy with our Savior.

This moving to Christ requires moving away from something else.  It’s a necessity of the road.   In order to go forward, we must leave something behind.

That was true for Israel.  God called them to Canaan when He beckoned Abram out of Mesopotamia and its many gods and idols.  God called them back to the Promised Land when He led them out of Egypt and they left slavery for freedom.

They walked towards promise, but it involved rejection—rejecting the old definition of “normal.”  It was “normal” for those in Abram’s home town to pray to statues and worship bits of stone and wood.  It was “normal” in Egypt for male babies to be slaughtered simply for population control.

It’s “normal” for us to be too busy for God, to lose it with our kids, to be selfish, to feel jealousy, to cheat, to lie, to overindulge , to worry, to rebel, to gossip. . .  We think these sins are acceptable because everyone does them and no one can be perfect.

Yet, God calls us out of “normal” and into radical.  He doesn’t ask us the hard questions to shame us or humiliate us.  He does it to draw us close to Him so that we are “being transformed . . .from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NKJV).

Eugene Peterson wrote, “Repentance, the first word in Christian immigration, sets us on the way to traveling in the light.  It is a rejection that is also an acceptance, a leaving that develops into an arriving, a no to the world that is a yes to God.”

Peter sat at that Passover table and asked the dangerous question, “Am I the one, Lord?”  He allowed the searching of his heart.  It wasn’t him.  Eleven of those at the table endured their souls being turned over and could say that they were innocent of this betrayal.

Yet, then they stopped asking.  That’s our weakness, too.   When we stop asking the Holy Spirit to search us, when we become complacent and self-assured, it’s when we will betray.

Like Peter.  Jesus predicted Peter would deny Him.  “Peter answered and said to Him, ‘Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.’  Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crowd, you will deny Me three times.’  Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’  And so said all the disciples” (Matthew 26:33-35, NKJV).

But, he was wrong.  Jesus arrested.  Jesus taken away in chains.  Jesus bullied, beaten, spat on, and mocked.  Peter in the courtyard answering the questioning accusations of others by the fire.  “I never knew the fellow.  I wasn’t one of his disciples.  I didn’t follow Him.”

He stumbled into betrayal because he was complacent.  Peter thought he knew what was in his heart, that he was right with God and strong in his faith.  So, he stopped asking, “Am I the one, Lord?” and started saying, “Not I.”

And so we must ask and keep on asking, “Search my heart, search my soul.  There is nothing else that I want more.  Shine Your light and show Your face.  In my life, Lord, have Your way, have Your way” (Hillsong United).

*******************************************************************************************************

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King