Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Do Actions Speak Louder than Words?

Recently I wrote an article entitled, "Famous Last Words," where I say that we always hear or use the phrase "actions speak louder than words," but how some words are pretty poignant. In that article I talked of Jesus' last words on this earth and how powerful they were. In that time of study I was also struck by Jesus' "Famous Last Actions." All of Jesus' words were cutting to the heart, but His actions were too.

In the those last hours Jesus had with His disciples I'm sure He wanted to use that time as effectively as possible. What to tell them, how much to tell them, how to tell them. What were the biggest burden on His heart? What was most important to leave them with? What He wanted them most to remember? With that, and Jesus knowing everything, He knew too that actions do speak quite loudly. What actions did He make in those moments that were slipping away that would make an impression on them that will never fail. A visual, if you will, of the summation of all Jesus wants them to remember of Him.

In the upper room there are few things that happen that I think we all remember by the picture image or famous paintings of Jesus and the apostles time there.

1) "...so he (Jesus) got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him." (John 13:4-5) Here we see that there were no words.  Jesus didn't say a word. He just got up, got the towel, water, basin and began washing the apostles feet. The apostle Peter was so shocked because there had been no words, no preparation, no explanation of why Jesus was trying to wash his feet. Peter begins to argue with Jesus and that's when Jesus speaks. "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." (John 13:7) Jesus also says, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." (John 13:8) Jesus then takes the time, (which in my thinking He didn't have much of) and washes each of the apostles feet. To wash their feet shows how we are to serve one another. To consider others better than ourselves.

I remember back in 1991 when I met a woman, Mother Howard, as we called her, and how in awe I was for her complete love devotion she held for Jesus and how wisdom poured from her mouth whenever she spoke. Talking with her was so powerful that I found myself literally sitting at her feet. She would tell me to sit in a chair, but something about her humbled me to the floor. I understand or see myself washing another's feet, but having someone wash mine...Jesus washing mine...I'm brought to tears. The image of Jesus on the floor with a towel around His waist, basin of water and dirty feet...there are no words, but an imagine that says, "Serve as I have served."

I also am struck that He washes all twelve apostles feet~ even Judas. What does that say to us? To serve even our enemies. Serve those who hate us and betray us. The action of washing Judas' feet is more powerful to me than any words that have been spoken about how to love or forgive my enemies. Washing an enemies feet says it all. There is no discussion, no arguing, simply...serve even your enemies.

2) Whenever I think of the upper room I think of the 'Last Supper' meal. I can see in my mind Jesus sitting in the center of a long table with six apostles on each side of Him and Jesus, with arms raised, holding a piece of bread. Being raised in the Roman Catholic faith I took part in Communion every Sunday. The priest would hold up the bread and quote the scriptures, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." (Luke 22: 19) He would then break the bread and lay it down on a brass dish. Then the priest would take up a goblet filled with wine and quote the scriptures, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." (Luke 22:20) Then like the apostles, we would all take part eating the bread and drinking the wine. If you stop and think for a moment, we are still breaking bread and drinking wine as Jesus did 2,000 years later. We are doing what He did. How wild is that?! Jesus said to do lots of things, but here's one of Jesus' actions that we are still doing faithfully today.

3) I think hearing the 'cock crow' would have been devastating. Jesus told Peter that he would betray Jesus, but Peter didn't believe that would ever happen until he heard the rooster caw. And you may ask, "Why is this a significant 'action' to remember? Well, Jesus washed Peter's feet, broke bread with them, told them that He was going to give up His very life for them, knowing all the while that he was going to be betrayed by them all. We remember Peter's betrayal because of that 'cock crowing.' Peter remembered it too. What volumes does that speak? Jesus loves me when I sin...even when He knew I'd sin before I did. Forgiveness is offered for sin-even before the sin is committed. Jesus' heart loves us that much.

4) Jesus praying that night... We say to one another, "Pray in the tough times," and that's great advice, but there have been times where I was sooooo worried, scared, or frightened that I had no words for prayer. I couldn't settle my anxiety to pray. (I am by no means proud of the fact that I couldn't or didn't pray through some tough times, but that's the truth). Jesus' example of praying to the Father in a time of  more anxiety, and fear that I ever have known or will ever know speaks louder to me than any words. Jesus was going through such distress that He was sweating blood and still He prays, "...yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42b) The heart of complete surrender and complete trust in the Father's will...there are no words.

5) Jesus standing in front of Pilate and saying nothing. I remember the first time I saw the movie, "Jesus of Nazareth." The part where Pilate is asking question after question to Jesus and yet Jesus doesn't answer. I remember my heart racing and sitting on the edge of my seat because I knew what was going to happen. I could hardly stand it. I heard myself yell out, "Tell him!" I wanted Jesus to explain who He was, I wanted Jesus to show Pilate a miracle because I didn't want Jesus scourged. When they took Jesus away I cried. I thought, "It didn't have to happen~ had Jesus only explained to them, had He only spoke."  The action of not speaking. The action of silence. The ultimate surrender to the Father's will is screaming at us! Jesus could have spoken to Pilate and convinced him not to scourge or crucify him, but Jesus did not speak. 

6) The Cross. "...he now showed them the full extent of his love." (John 13:1b) The greatest action of love the whole world has ever known. "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34) I believe Jesus speaks those words to all of us, not just for those who were at the sight of the cross. Jesus spoke out forgiveness, His blood sacrifice, for all generations to come. The cross was for them, for us now and for those who are still to be born. Jesus, being God, could have told us that we were loved and forgiven by Him, but He showed us instead.

7) "After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said." (Matthew 28: 1-6) The empty tomb...a risen Savior...freedom for all.

All of Jesus's words speak loudly and so do His actions.
Oh Lord, Let that be said of me.

Lord, I pray that my life will reflect not only your teaching, but your actions too. Help me to serve my brothers, sisters in Christ, my neighbors, and my enemies. Help me to receive your love and forgiveness when I sin. Help me to be still and pray in the midst of the hardest trial. Help me to surrender my life, my will, completely to you. Help me to live a life, filled with Godly actions, worthy to be called your servant. Amen.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Famous Last Words

One day someone said to me, 'Famous last words,' and kept going. I shrugged off the comment, but starting thinking about last words. Some people say, "Actions speak louder than words," but I think that someone's lasts words might be pretty poignant too. 

I looked up the, "famous last words" from some famous people. The following is a list of what they said with their dying breath:   

"Thomas Jefferson--still survives..."
~~ John Adams, US President, d. July 4, 1826
(Actually, Jefferson had died earlier that same day.)

"This is the last of earth! I am content."
~~ John Quincy Adams, US President, d. February 21, 1848

"See in what peace a Christian can die."
~~ Joseph Addison, writer, d. June 17, 1719

"How were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden?"
~~ P. T. Barnum, entrepreneur, d. 1891

"I am ready to die for my Lord, that in my blood the Church may obtain liberty and peace."
~~ Thomas à Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, d.1170

"Friends applaud, the comedy is finished."
~~ Ludwig van Beethoven, composer, d. March 26, 1827

"I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis."
~~ Humphrey Bogart, actor, d. January 14, 1957

~~ Napoleon Bonaparte, French Emperor, May 5, 1821

"I am not the least afraid to die."
~~ Charles Darwin, d. April 19, 1882

"I am curious to see what happens in the next world to one who dies unshriven."
Giving his reasons for refusing to see a priest as he lay dying.
~~ Pietro Perugino, Italian painter, d. 1523

"Lord help my poor soul."
~~ Edgar Allan Poe, writer, d. October 7, 1849

"I love you Sarah. For all eternity, I love you."
Spoken to his wife.
~~ James K. Polk, US President, d. 1849

"I die hard but am not afraid to go."
~~ George Washington, US President, d. December 14, 1799

"I am ready."
~~ Woodrow Wilson, US President, d. 1924
~~William Wallace (1270-1305, Scottish Patriot) 
[Ascribed to him in the film "Braveheart"; his actual last words, before being hanged, disemboweled, drawn and quartered, are unknown.]

Some of the above "famous last words" were so sad to me, but f we really could choose our final words to those around us, what would it be? I think I would tell my husband that he is my truest love, my best friend-the first person who ever showed me the true love of Jesus. How his faith has been a steady and strong rock upon which I have needed to rest on many times. I would encourage him to keep, keeping his eyes on Jesus and to pass his faith onto our children.

I thought about what I might say to my children if I knew I was going to die. What words of wisdom would I leave with them? What would I say?  I think I would say, Follow after Jesus with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. I would tell them how much I love them. How proud I am of each one of them. How God has a plan for their life and although I may leave this earth, God is with you always.

But if I could only speak one sentence I hope it would be:
"Only, ever, just for my Jesus."

I know it may seem sad to even think about, but at around this same time I was working on my Bible study homework and as I read the story in the Gospels where Jesus and the apostles are in the upper room~ it hit me! Everything Jesus tells them in that room over dinner are His last words. His final words. His final teaching to them. Jesus' famous last words. I perked up my ears to hear what Jesus had to say to them.

While in the upper room with the apostles, during the Passover meal, Jesus says:

- "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:28) (Mark 14:24) (Luke 22:20) Jesus tells the apostles that He will be the final blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins for all mankind!

In the book of Luke we find:
"Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials, and I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Luke 22:25-32)

- "Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment." (Luke 22:37b)

In the Book of John we find:
- "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34:35)

- "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would not have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." (John 14:1-4)

- "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." (John 14:6-7)

- "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so the at the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." (John 14:12-14)

- "If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--the Spirit of truth." (John  14-15) (The rest of chapter 14 Jesus teaches the apostles about the Holy Spirit).

- Chapter 15:5 is when Jesus says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

- "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love." (John 15:9)

- "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:12-13)

- "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear." (John 16:12) Chapters 14, 15, and 16 are filled with some of my favorite teachings and verses from the whole Bible. Chapter 17 Jesus prays for Himself and chapter 18 Jesus prays for us. (He's so amazing).

In the garden after the supper was finished we find Jesus saying:

- "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matthew 26:39) (Mark 14:34)  (Luke 22:42)

For me, reading over Jesus' last words, knowing that they were in fact His last words before His death, the words that hit my heart the strongest are,  "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34:35)

Do you hear that? Love one another as I have loved you. How did Jesus love us? He lived a sacrificial life. He pursued no career so that He could spend His days teaching us -healing us. With no career- He had no job and slept outside. He had no house, no wife, no children, no bed, no pillow, no wardrobe- nothing to call His own. The only thing He called His own was us. We are all He wanted and still wants. He was bruised, beaten, crowned with thrones, crucified for us. His life was completely sacrificial. His love was completely sacrificial. and He says to us-go and do as I have done. Go and love as I have loved. Love one another with that same sacrificial love. No longer love one another as you love yourself. It's a higher calling. A much higher calling.

In Jesus' final hours He reminded them to serve, to listen for God's voice, accept Him as their Savior, work at remaining in His love, forgive others that betray you and pray for God's perfect will to be done in your life. Then He says, "Love one another as I have loved you." (That's so holy). Love as Jesus' has loved. Love one another to serve, to pray for another, to believe for healing for another, to die for another. To love others more than your very life. Jesus' famous last, last words were:

"It is finished."
-Jesus Christ.

If you have any doubt- Jesus tells us- HE has conquered death and sin!

Monday, March 19, 2012

I'm Nuttin' Special

I'm nothing special is something I've believed for most of my...correction~ all of my life. No matter what I've done, what I have accomplished, what goals I've reached I have truly believed that I am nothing special. I'm not trying to sound pitiful, really I'm not. It's just that when you grow up in a family where everyone is gifted or talented in one area or another you sorta see how 'unspecial' you yourself are.

I have a brother who is a genius. Everything he puts his mind or hands to he is able to accomplish. (His wife is just as amazing. When she gets an idea for a birthday gift, craft for kids, tea party theme~watch out! One day they are going to have their own store and show the world just how amazing they are). My eldest sister is an artist. Her paintings were mind blowing. (She painted a portrait of my niece once that took my breath away).  My second oldest sister was also a genius of sorts and was able to make anything. She taught herself how to sew, knit, and had endless amounts of creative ideas. My next sister was very good at interior design and my last sister was a dancer. She was truly something to see. And then there was me ~ nuttin' special.

I don't think anyone would be able to say that I have a special talent, that is like my family. Each member seems to have a unique gifting all to themselves. I'm not particularly good at any one thing. I'm just your average Joe. And to be perfectly honest with you I was okay with that because there is something else I believed about myself. I believed I was unlovable. In my mind I was completely convinced that I might be likable, that is, for a while, but was definitely not lovable. So there you have it, I was unlovable with no talent and what did it matter? An unlovable, untalented person wasn't going to become anything anyway.

I gotta say that following Jesus and believing I'm worthless has had it's challenges. How can I read the Scriptures and think I am unlovable? It's not possible. So, somewhere along my journey with Jesus, around 1991 and forward, I began to see that I was lovable ~ to Jesus. It was clear to me that He loved me, even adored me. But finding or believing that I am lovable to people, now that has been a real issue.

It is amazing to me how the words spoken over me as a kid have been laid like concrete in my mind. My sister told me, "People may love you now, but when they see you as your family sees you, they'll hate you as we do." Those words have been ringing in my ears since I'm a child. I have heard it time and time again as I make a new friend or hope for a new friend. Too soon I loose hope, I back a way, and lose the friendship I had dearly wanted. I can even look back and see where I automatically thought, "There is no way that 'so-in-so' will ever like me." And with that attitude and thoughts toward that person all I could see were the negative looks directed at me, comments, or even, (ridiculously enough), their body language. I convinced myself that I was right, that they didn't like me and walked away from what could have been a great friendship. (Sabotage!)

Well, recently, I confessed all this to a few ladies that I truly thought did not like me. On my own I tried battling the enemies lies, tried to convince myself that "Surely, they must like something about me," but by and by I fell into what I have always believed as truth and stuck with, "They'll never like me" attitude.  I told them because I thought that either I was going to find out that they didn't like me (there would be no surprise found there) or find out that they loved me, faced my fears and begin a healing in my life. I was hoping for the later, but was unsure.

I was told right away that I must know that what I have been believing was a lie and that I needed to fight against such lies. I agreed. Then these dear sweet friends gathered around me, held me and began praying for me. I was told that I was loved. That I was special. That in many ways I had ministered to them by my openness and honesty.  I cried like a little girl.

To live in fear is a dreadful state. To live believing that you are unlovable is a very lonely one. In knowing Jesus and reading how He faced the lies, fears, abandonment, and rejection has spurred me to the do the same. I want to face my fears and not cower behind them. I want to break down the lies rather than live in the safety of their walls. I want to live as God intended me to live ~ to live knowing I am loved by Him and those He has put in my life. To live without fear. To live freely accepting others love for me. To live according to the plan He has for me.

Psalm 18 has to be my absolutely favorite psalm. It shows the heart of the Father coming to the rescue of His child.
God has done it again.
Rescued me from the lies.
 Surrounded me in truth.
And loved on me in safety. 

Monday, March 12, 2012


Hey y'all, I've been advised to retract my children's book. Sorry.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Can I be a Woman of Integrity?

So many times I have heard the saying, "Be a man of integrity," and I say it to my boys all the time. I talk about what it means and how they can apply it to their everyday lives, but I have never heard the phrase, "Be a woman of integrity." I had never even used it with my own girls until recently.  It's been on my mind for a while now and so I began talking to my girls about what it means to be a "Woman of integrity."

It's funny how when the Lord begins working in my heart over something and then sure enough I find someone else in my family going through the very same lesson. My daughter is learning, in her Mpact Girls Club, what integrity means. The definition that she is learning on integrity is "A girl with integrity is a girl:
  • who can be trusted
  • always tells the truth
  • will always keep her promises  
  • A girl who does what she says she will do
  • will do her best even if no one is looking
  • a girl who makes a great friend
And that is essentially what I've been trying to teach my children, but you know you can't teach what you yourself are not doing. I've just been so convicted by this.

I gotta be honest here, growing up, well, I just wasn't a girl of integrity. I really thought there was a difference between a little white lie and I don't know, a little black lie?  I don't really even know what that means anymore, but I do know I said, "white lies" and used it as an excuse. I also remember lying whenever it was convenient. Like, if I knew my sister, or anyone in this case, would get angry with me I would say whatever I thought they wanted to hear just to keep from being yelled at. I lied to save my hide. (I just made that one up).  And once you get into lying and think of lying as no big deal well then exaggerating becomes easier. I would exaggerate and make up stories for attention like you wouldn't believe.  I'd feel alittle twang of wrongness about it or a feeling like, "Oh, no, what if so-in-so finds out that I didn't tell the whole truth?" But for the most part I was fine with lying and exaggerating and thought everyone lied and I was still a 'good person.'

Other areas of my life where I had been convicted are for example the times that I thought that, "well, I'm not being paid enough so it's okay if I take this box of paper clips home-it's my compensation for hard work." NO, it's not, it's stealing. I look back and see that my attitude was not one of serving. I felt overlooked, unappreciated, and I wanted to get what I deserved-albeit a paper clip. I felt justified. I felt vindicated. No one knew, but God did. He saw me steal the pen, paper, whatever. He saw my heart. He saw that I wanted justice. Wanted revenge. And He saw it was alllll wrong.

Then slowly the Lord started awakening in me- truth. And as time marches on I heard Joyce Meyers talk about being faithful in the little things and got even more convicted.

I am no longer a liar and I have stopped exaggerating-no small task! But there are other areas that need pruning. For instance, I'll get all excited about watching a movie, but if there is a dvd already in the player I find myself taking the dvd out of the player and leaving it out on top of the dvd player. I don't find the cover and put it away like I should. Or if I'm tired I don't put the cover back on the toothpaste-(and as we all know that makes it icky for the next person, my husband), I just leave it there. I have many of these little things that are, in my new convicted opinion, wrong.

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:23)

The Bible talks about being faithful in the little things- these are little things are they not? It is an attitude, a bad one, that has to change. An attitude of laziness. An attitude of  'I don't care how this effects anyone else.' Pretty bad. So, I recently started putting the toothpaste cover on, taking the two seconds to put the dvd in it's cover. And do these little acts of service really matter to God? I think, yes. And only yes because it's more about my attitude of NOT serving others than leaving a mess. My bad attitude hurts God. Not caring about what I'm leaving behind for another person. And simply, just not doing what is right- integrity.

It's interesting to me that another one of the lessons my daughter learned in her Mpact Girls class on integrity was that God blesses us when we are people of integrity. But my question is how can God really bless me when I'm not true to my word? When my attitude stinks? How can He trust or bless me with 'more' when I can't be trusted with so little? Isn't it sad? How can I expect my children to be people of integrity when there own mother isn't? How can I expect them to put dvd's away or put the toothpaste cover on when I don't even do it? I need to be the role model of integrity if they are to be people of integrity.

Change is never easy, but it always yields a good thing.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: "  who gave His life for us. (Philippians 2:3-5)

Jesus was a man of integrity.
I want to be a woman of integrity.
I want to be like Jesus.