Do We Recognize Jesus?

This week’s Gospel (Lk 24:13-35) features Jesus and two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Jesus walks with them and talks with them and still, they do not realize who is in their midst until he breaks bread with them.

One thing the Resurrection appearances of Jesus have in common is that those who first see Him did not immediately recognize him. His glorified body was somehow different. Those who knew him best were not able to know who He was until he spoke to them or performed some action or showed them His wounds. Then they knew; they understood.

As we go through our daily lives, we often fail to recognize Jesus in our midst. Matthew 25:31-46 tells us that whenever we care for our brothers and sisters in this world, we are caring for Jesus. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Yet, do we see it that way? When our children need our care, do we see Jesus? When our parents grow old and need our help, do we see Jesus? When our friends are hurting, do we see Jesus? When our neighbors are in need, do we see Jesus? When a homeless person begs on the street, do we see Jesus? When our enemies are suffering, do we see Jesus?

Jesus comes to us in all sorts of disguises and it can be very hard indeed into recognize Him. He can be rich or poor, clean or dirty, young or old, a person in our home, on our street, or a stranger on the other side of the world. He can be our best friend or the person who pushes all of our buttons the wrong way. He can be someone who we feel has it made or someone who we judge to have made all the wrong choices. Yes, Jesus comes hidden and we are called to serve. We are called to love.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is known for the service she gave to all those she met. She invited each of us to reach out in a personal way to those around us. She stated, “I believe in person to person. Every person is Christ for me, and since there is only one Jesus, that person is the one person in the world at that moment.” May we follow her example and reach out to Jesus in all His disguises in our world.

– Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur
http://spiritualwomanthoughts.blogspot.com

I Went With the Majority

I’m a big Survivor fan. I think I like the show so much because it’s about people and how they interact with one another and make choices. I’ve always enjoyed watching people and so this show fascinates me as I observe people making the same mistakes time and time again. It says a lot about human behavior.

I have noticed that when it’s time for the Survivor players to vote someone off, a lot of them write a name down and then make the comment that “I went with the majority” followed by, “I’m really sorry I had to vote you off.” To me, that is not a good excuse for writing someone’s name down or betraying someone. Have we no better mind of our own than to simply follow the majority?

Someone once made the comment that whether in the game of Survivor or in the real world her word was all she had and she was going to stand by it. She immediately became my favorite in that game because that is my theory in life as well. My word is all I have left sometimes and it means a lot to me. It says a lot about me.


I don’t ever want to simply become like a sheep following the pack without using the brain in my own head to decide if something is really what I want to do or not. I want to have integrity in all I do – whether it’s a game or not. Some people say that you can separate the two; I disagree. For you can never separate what is inside of someone. It will come out sooner or later.

We are what we are. Who I am means everything to me. I may not play this game of life perfectly. I will make mistakes, I will let people down at times, and I won’t be everyone’s favorite person. But I do plan on being true to myself and true to the One who made me. For me, that means living as honestly as I can, with as much integrity, compassion, and character as I can.

Whatever mistakes or mess-ups I make in my life – at least I will own them. They will be completely mine. And I will know that I didn’t make them because I simply went with the majority.

~ Dionna Sanchez
http://beautyinthestorm.blogspot.com

He Loves Me!

I’m very easily excited.  My family will attest to this with a resounding “yes” and a dramatic head-nod.

The smallest things delight my heart.  And to me, they’re not so small.

Like when God painted a breath-taking heart in the sky right after my 3 year old whispered “I’m so happy Jesus lives in my heart” {unprompted} from the back seat of the car…

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{isn’t that just crazy gorgeous?}

Like the fact that garlic grows curly for a while before it straightens up and forms a bulb.

Or like the fact that pretty green leaves turn a ravishing red year after year after year.

Leaf

And like the fact that crusty crabs from the bottom of the ocean that wash up daily, get devoured by the seagulls and get trampled on my unnoticing feet…

could be so phenomenally beautiful.

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{pay no attention to unmanicured, dirty nail}

I don’t know about you, but these seemingly trivial things simply point to one thing.

How deeply, thoroughly, and outrageously well we are loved by our Creator.

Think about it for a minute.

He could have chosen to paint this world in shades of gray.

But he chose vivid color instead.

He could have made one type of flower…one species of animal…one form of boring, tasteless nourishment for our bodies {think sludge through a straw}.

But no.

We get to enjoy a plethora of colors, shapes, sizes, a myriad of scents, flavors, and textures.

Why?  Because he loves us with a radical, passionate, extravagant love.  And because he created us to appreciated beautiful things.

Garlic.  Clouds.  Leaves.  Crabs.

Yup…they spell L-O-V-E to me.

 

{and I haven’t even touched on the whole baby Jesus, God incarnate, gift of life thing yet.  Wow.  Now that’s love.  Lavish, outlandish love.}

 

by Joy McMillan, Simply Bloom

Nip It!

They were the prefect baby shower favors.

I left happily clutching my little pots of rosemary and licorice basil; sweet {& tasty} reminders of the mommy-to-be’s blossoming belly and the promise of precious new life within.

Just two simple little sprigs sat in the small containers.

The rosemary I repotted in a cute little green planter on my deck.  Over the past  5 months, it has doubled in size.  Maybe.

The basil, however, I planted in the garden…and it has blown me away. A far cry from it’s meager beginning, it has taken full advantage of the ample space to grow and the nutrient-rich soil offered it by our accommodating vegetable garden, and has burst into the most fantastic display of greens and purples.

To say it is 100 times it’s original size would not be too lavish of an estimation.

Beside it sits my sage {on the right, below}, dwarfed by the shear enormity of it’s neighbor.

But there’s a problem in all this glamorous mega-growth.

You see, it needs to be pruned to be worth much as a basil plant.

Sure it’s pretty to look at, but the whole purpose of it’s placement in our garden was to provide a steady supply of lush basil leaves for our soups, sauces and salads…not just lavender-colored eye-candy.

I was diligent, in the beginning, about nipping the little blossoms off the tips of the deep purple stems as soon as they started to appear.  This practice redirects the nutrients from the {all-consuming task of} forming little florets back down to the leaves, allowing for fuller, more flavorful basil leaves.  And generally, a healthier plant.

But I had allowed distraction – with life, small children, and gleaning the more noticeable harvest from the garden {like tomatoes, zucchini and peppers} – to preoccupy my time, while my basil plant grew wild before my eyes.

Now when I want to add basil to something I’m cooking up in the kitchen, I have to cut 5 times as many sprigs to glean half of what I used to.

As I studied the plant from my deck the other day – a beautiful monstrosity of licorice-scented stalks – I was reminded how easily I get distracted in other areas of life and fail to “prune” my character.

I get stuck in the hamster-wheel of SuperMom pursuit and pretending to keep all the pretty balls up in the air, while failing to let the main thing be the main thing.

Think: basil leaves.

How easy it is to fall into the destructive habit of judging and criticizing, nit-picking and questioning those around us.  Especially as we navigate these turbulent, and sometimes scary, waters of motherhood.

We need each other desperately.  And yet we continue to allow small differences between us to tear down and destroy the common beauty we share – desiring to be the best mothers we can to our precious children.

I didn’t realize when I cut ties with the mommy mafia, just how relentless “their” pursuit of my heart would be.  It’s a constant decision to choose unity over comparison and conflict.

God is so faithful to nudge my heart.  To remind me to nip these attitudes in the bud.  And yet how easy it is to get caught up in the whirlwind of life – and the {seeming} instant gratification of pointing out someone else’s weakness in a feeble attempt to make ourselves feel better about our own inadequacies – and I neglect this essential “pruning” of my mind, my tongue, my heart.  I allow my energy and time – the necessary “nutrients” needed for survival – to fuel negativity, rather than “deadheading” it and diverting my {limited} resources to fresh growth: encouraging and uplifting those weary ones around me.

He nudges, yes.  But it is up to me to listen to that still, small voice… and to make the choice to pour myself into the building up of others.  The seeking out of the gold, rather than the pointing out of the dirt.

I don’t know about you, but my heart is in constant need of pruning.  While a lavish display of plumes may appear to be what the world demands from us, a steady supply of delicious, enhances-everything-you-put-it-in leaves are what I’m after and what blesses the heart of our Creator.

Here’s to basil…and the delicate art of pruning!

{Just nip it}

by Joy McMillan, Simply Bloom

A Piece of Me

I have a cupboard full of old Bible Study workbooks, conference notes, etc. I keep these not because I think I will use them again or go back and reread my notes (although I might).  No, I keep them because each one of those workbooks has become a part of me in some way. I learned something through each study. I gained ground. I grew in my faith, in my walk with the Lord, and I grew internally as a person.
 
Today, when I opened up that cupboard to put something away, I saw my small stack and I smiled. To some people those workbooks might be taking up valuable storage space. But to me, they are a piece of who I have become. They represent who God is molding me into and they hold many special memories. I shed tears over valuable lessons that God taught me, I stretched my mind to let God open it up to deeper things He wanted to show me, and I prayed over many, many things that I held closely to my heart.  Those workbooks are a piece of me. They are a piece of who I have become.
 
Each time I start a new Bible study or go to a new conference – I don’t sit there and think about how I will be changed. I just know that in some way (small or great) that I will be. And it excites me. Because I’m always up for bettering myself. I love diminishing the effect that the flaws and weaknesses in my life have on me. I love growing new strengths and feeling God’s strength flourish inside of me.  And for whatever it’s worth, I will hold on to those moments so that I don’t forget that HE doesn’t forget. He doesn’t forget me. He talks to me in a personal way each time I reach out to communicate and grow in Him.
 
So I will hold onto those Bible study books. No matter how worn, how sloppy my writing, or how much space they take up. They have made me who I am and for that I will be eternally grateful.
 
 

~ Dionna Sanchez is the Founder of the Emphasis On Moms Ministry. Visit the website at http://www.EmphasisOnMoms.com or email her at madetomom@yahoo.com

Holy Living

A long time ago when I lived in Las Vegas, I told a friend of mine that I wanted to be more “holy.” She remarked that she really admired me for that because she’d never known anyone who desired that. This friend was a new Christian.

I think somewhere along the way after we’ve received salvation, we’ve lost our way. We’ve lost our perspective. It’s so easy to do, really.

I think we try so hard to do the things deemed “acceptable” that we’ve forgotten how to truly live for the Lord. It’s more than going to Bible Study, attending church, and memorizing Scripture. It’s obeying it.

We lose our joy and wonder why. But we can’t straddle the line between “world” and “holiness” and wonder why God feels distant to us. We forget to take a good hard look at our own lives and see what might be holding us back, or weighing us down.

Living a righteous life is truly what brings us our joy. It doesn’t tell us in the Bible that we’re not supposed to watch that movie, listen to that music, yell at our families, starve ourselves in order to be skinny, or laugh at other people. But it does tell us to love others as ourselves, to guard our hearts, to remember that our body is a vessel of the Holy Spirit, and to watch what comes out of our mouths. We are going to lose our joy in the Lord if we don’t grow God’s fruit in our hearts and lives.

We are representatives of the Lord. How we live our lives, conduct ourselves, and what we do with our time – is all a representation of God. It should demonstrate holy living not worldly living. If things are right in our life then our lives will feel more joyful because there won’t be a lot of unholy character or living that will need to be refined out of us. We won’t need to be sifted as much.

We live in a world that is ready to be at war with us. Satan is ready (and willing) to take us down. The temptations may seem small at times, but with each one that wins with us, it pulls us down and away further from God.

I want to live a life above approach. I don’t. I’m not perfect. But I’m going to keep striving for that goal. I’m going to strive to love God more than I love the fun things of the world. I’m going to strive to live a holy life so that I don’t lose my perspective on things. I don’t want to be sucked into the world’s system but to always be able to see and take it for what it is.

I think Christians have lost the desire to live holy lives. We’ve lost the fight somewhere along the way. We look at little sins as simply “mistakes” and fail to repair those little cracks in our lives.

Let’s take back what God had in mind for us. We can live victorious lives by simply determining to live a holy life for our Lord. It just has to be important enough to us to want it.

~ Dionna Sanchez (http://beautyinthestorm.blogspot.com)

Investing Our Time

Needs. We all have them. Some have the need of transportation, or finances – others have the need of child care. What about those who have no husband or a husband who travels all of the time? They need someone to help them fix things up or help them with yard work. There is the mom who could use someone to fix meals for her once in awhile as she cares for a child with disabilities or the family who has no relatives nearby and just needs friendship and a support system.
 
What are your needs? Do you feel like they are being filled?
 
God tells us in Hebrews 10:24, 25  “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
 
To me that means being there for each other – being there – physically. Giving up of yourselves and your time.  It seems to me that it is so much easier for people these days to say, “I’ll pray for you” than it is for them to actually move to action themselves. It’s easier for them to talk to you and ask how it’s going than it is for them to give up their own valuable time to help in some way. And if there are people giving and making efforts; a lot of times it is for some big “cause.” The church can often make the mistake of looking outward to helping “others” rather than looking inward and helping its own.
 
I’ll give you an example.
 
When we first moved into our house we had A LOT of yard work to do. Living on an acre, we still do.  One day shortly after our move we asked some men and friends in our church to come and help us shovel some rock that we were having delivered. We offered to provide lunch for everyone. We must have invited over 20 men. Two came to help. 
 
We live in an area where the closest family members are five hours away. People who live near family don’t know what this is like. You have no one to count on for childcare, no one to help when you are sick and still have to manage to get your kiddos off to school or make their lunches, no one to help when your husband is out of the country and you are “manning” it up on your own – no one but the friendships you have made. So if those friends are busy with their own lives – that leaves… you guessed it – no one.
 
I’m coming to find out that giving up of your time is more valuable than almost any other resource you can give someone. It is one of the most unselfish, loving things you can do. To be there for those you love.  Make the efforts to invest in others. If someone is in town and it’s not a convenient time for you – so what! Let them come over and show them you value them and the desire they had to see you. If someone is celebrating a holiday all by themselves – invite them over or better yet – drive or go fly to be with them! Give up your time and finances to invest in them.  If someone is having a birthday and they live hundreds of miles away, figure out a way to show him or her how special they are by coming up with something clever that you can do over the miles. I have a friend who had everyone important to another friend of hers take their pictures with a heart and a birthday greeting. She put them all together and featured them on her blog as a birthday surprise for her friend. Now THAT is clever, and loving! Someone else I know flew in his wife’s parents for her birthday!
 
Time. Invest of yourself into others. We’re all busy. But maybe we’re so busy because we’re trying to do everything by ourselves and have no one to help us. Maybe if we all started leaning on each other and investing into each other we’d find things would go a little bit easier in our lives.
 
I’d like people to invest into me and my family a little bit more. I’d like to see my kids invest into others as they grow up. It brings out the richness of life.  Everyone wants to be loved – everyone has needs. What are you doing to help fill those needs in the lives of those around you?
 
~ God has been teaching Dionna how much He values her giving out of what He has given to her. She is the Editor/Founder of Emphasis On Moms – http://www.EmphasisOnMoms.com

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