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Talking Turkey

“In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin.” Psalm 36:2

Even though this is the week of Thanksgiving I wanted to start with a confession. Several years ago I decided to order a fresh, free-range turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.  When I arrived at Fiddlehead Farms on Wednesday I gave them my name and asked for the pre-ordered, fifteen-pound turkey.  However, after checking in the back room, the young man came back puzzled and embarrassed. He told me they did not have my turkey.  Of course I “explained” to them how much I was looking forward to this free-range turkey, etc.  They then generously offered me the only turkey they had left, a twenty-three pounder, for the same price as the much smaller turkey ordered.  I acquiesced.

Unfortunately, my family and visiting extended family got the whole story. While expressing that I was “Seriously disappointed”  as we sat around the dinner table together Wednesday evening, the phone rang.  The answering machine beeped  and a gentleman said, “Mrs. McKenna, this is Market Basket calling about the Turkey you ordered.  We just wondered if you were still going to pick it up or if we should sell it to someone else?”  (Imagine very loud, accusatory laughter.)   I ordered the turkey from the wrong grocery store!

Wow!  I thought I was right.  I knew I was right.  I would have bet my life that I was right.  Isn’t that the truth?  We ardently believe things that just aren’t true and they lead to humiliation, if not destruction.  It is sad  that I never considered that I could have been wrong.  Being the center of my universe , when turkey shopping at least, has never ended well.  Before I was a Christian my self absorption ended in isolation.  However, now it ends in humiliation.  Pride does come before a fall but thank God it does!

Hopefully, my attitude will not be so self-righteous should something like the turkey confusion happen again.  Only by God’s grace will that be true.  I no longer desire to be right when I’m wrong.  In fact, I’d rather be someone who gives others the benefit of the doubt, offering the same grace God shows to me everyday.  So, this Thanksgiving my prayer is for a spirit of humility that reflects Christ’s heart.  May God bless you and keep you humble this holiday.

Love, Obedience, Trust, Victory

Living in Victory

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” Romans 8:35-37 NLT

Living in New England, surrounded by avid sports fans and successful profession teams, it’s easy to live in victory when it comes to our regional identity.  But, I have to confess, most of the time I don’t care who wins or loses a sporting event. (Don’t hate me Patriot’s fans.) However, when one of my sons is playing I really want their team to win.  So, knowing that we are ALL on God’s Son’s team and that the victory is certain, I can also rest in my identity in Christ.  Jesus secured the victory and we now get to join Him by taking our place on the field day by day.  There is no condemnation if you drop the ball or strike out.  In the end, we are all going to celebrate.

Nevertheless, the empirical force unbelief sometimes has on me is crippling.  My fist holds tight to what I’ve experienced in the past when my heart longs to be free from the pain of living in a pool of insecurity.  Negative self talk from the enemy chokes creativity and convinces me not to try. “Why bother?  Nothing will come of it,” he hisses quietly.  “You aren’t that good so why would God use you?” or “You certainly don’t know what you’re doing.”  Then, to cinch paralysis, “You will be rejected, it will be painful and it’s not worth it.”  There it is, the crippling lie that “I’m unloveable” lurking under the feeling of inadequacy.

Having said this, I know, from experience, that my experiences do not define me.  Even still, I expect rejection and defeat because, growing up, that’s what I learned from  human relationships.  Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”  Because of this truth, the best weapon the enemy of our souls is armed with is the ability to convince us that we are not loved by God and He will not use us.  He first thrusts us to the edge of doubt before pushing us over the cliff of unbelief.  If we take the bait then we are taken captive by the enemy, bound by a fortress of lies.  The lies are effective because, in reality, we have blown it, experienced hardship and suffered rejection. The seen reality has told us we are unloved, worthless or unlovable.

But, God tells us clearly in His Word that He loves us so much He died for us.  He also tells us that He will never leave us, has good plans for us, has given us Himself and we have the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit within us to do whatever God calls us to do.  We shrug our saved shoulders and say, “Uh, okay?” This unbelief becomes a nagging injury that can only be healed by God’s truth.  God really will NEVER leave you or forsake you.  He really does, at all times and in all circumstances, whether you are cranky or having a bad hair day, deeply love you inside and out.  You are gifted and have a role to play, not on your merit but because Christ is in you and you were chosen.  If we could all live in the reality of the victory we have in Christ we would have complete freedom to love and be loved!  So, let’s believe in the unseen reality that we will never be cut from the team and play with confidence because our uniforms are red and white, a picture of the victory Christ secured for us all.

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Worried and Bothered

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

Whenever we plan an event at our house my default is “worried and bothered.”  On these occasions I can identify with Martha, although, on an ordinary day I am right there with Mary at Jesus’ feet as the dishes pile up in the sink.  But, like Martha,  I too struggle with feeling overwhelmed, abandoned and unloved!  I too accuse God of not caring and tell Him what to do!  However, the reality of Jesus’ love for Martha, as well as for you and me, is that it is endless and unconditional. He wants us to sit at His feet and trust Him for everything because He really does care for you and for me.  This is demonstrated in His words, “Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”  He’s not excluding or rejecting Martha but inviting her to join them!

Similarly, in Exodus 16 (the first account of God providing manna and quail for the Israelites in the desert) the Israelites also complained and told God what to do.  Even after witnessing God’s gracious provision they still didn’t believe Him.  Some even decided to do it their own way, gathering more manna than they needed for the day, and it “bred worms and became foul.”  Instead of trusting that God cared enough to provide for them the next day they lived by sight and ended up with rot. So too, when I refuse to live by faith the worms of fear and discontent are apparent.

Even now as I sit here writing I am distracted by the reality of selling our home.  I want to know what tomorrow brings instead of trusting that God cares for me and resting in His plan. Simply put, it is unbelief for the here and now.  In the same way a puppy automatically starts paddling when held over water (even though it’s being held securely) all of us tend to panic and start “paddling” when circumstances are out of our control.   In short, we fail to trust that God will keep holding on and tend to anticipate the worst when we choose to believe lies.  Can you hear the enemy whispering, “God doesn’t really care for you,” even though His Word says He does?

So, how do you and I live by faith and not by sight?  We choose to believe God, taking Him at His WORD and purpose to reject the lies.  Yes, living in the unseen reality means we need to fill our minds with God’s truth and believe Him even if it doesn’t make sense and especially when it goes against our natural inclinations. That is called faith.  As Martha focused on her circumstances she became worried and overwhelmed just like we do.  However, Jesus invited her into the unseen reality of a free spiritual life in Christ which is void of “have to’s” and full of “get to’s.”  We have the privilege of sitting at Jesus’ feet when we don’t have time and He miraculously stretches the minutes.  We get to tithe when it doesn’t make sense and He miraculously stretches the dollar.  We are free to drink His living water and He miraculously bears fruit in our lives.  His burden is light because He is outside of time and circumstance.   God tells us to “take My yoke upon you and I will give you rest.”  When I resist this I identify with Martha, the Israelites and also with Peter who heard God say, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” Matthew 17:5b