Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Help for the Holidays

Dealing with Difficult Relatives
by Max Lucado

Does Jesus have anything to say about dealing with difficult relatives? Is there an example of Jesus bringing peace to a painful family? Yes, there is.

His own.

It may surprise you to know that Jesus had a difficult family. If your family doesn’t appreciate you, take heart, neither did Jesus’.

“His family … went to get him because they thought he was out of his mind” (Mark 3:21).

Jesus’ siblings thought their brother was a lunatic. They weren’t proud—they were embarrassed!

It’s worth noting that he didn’t try to control his family’s behavior, nor did he let their behavior control his. He didn’t demand that they agree with him. He didn’t sulk when they insulted him. He didn’t make it his mission to try to please them.

Each of us has a fantasy that our family will be like the Waltons, an expectation that our dearest friends will be our next of kin. Jesus didn’t have that expectation. Look how he defined his family: “My true brother and sister and mother are those who do what God wants” (Mark 3:35).

When Jesus’ brothers didn’t share his convictions, he didn’t try to force them. He recognized that his spiritual family could provide what his physical family didn’t. If Jesus himself couldn’t force his family to share his convictions, what makes you think you can force yours?

Having your family’s approval is desirable but not necessary for happiness and not always possible. Jesus did not let the difficult dynamic of his family overshadow his call from God. And because he didn’t, this chapter has a happy ending.

What happened to Jesus’ family?

Mine with me a golden nugget hidden in a vein of the Book of Acts. “Then [the disciples] went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.… They all continued praying together with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus’ brothers” (Acts 1:12, 14, emphasis added).

What a change! The ones who mocked him now worship him. The ones who pitied him now pray for him. What if Jesus had disowned them? Or worse still, what if he’d suffocated his family with his demand for change?

He didn’t. He instead gave them space, time, and grace. And because he did, they changed. How much did they change? One brother became an apostle (Gal. 1:19) and others became missionaries (1 Cor. 9:5).

So don’t lose heart. God still changes families.

From He Still Moves Stones
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1999) Max Lucado

I truly am thankful for my family. I love each and every one of you!

Monday, November 16, 2009


"Kenneth passed away October 14,2009. This image is one of many that I will remember him in his last days."

This picture and caption is from a very very dear friend of mine. His brother Kenneth Maynard is the subject of this photo. Through his great talent my friend captured not only the last moments of his dying brother, but a glimpse of Heaven in the sky.

I love you Jack...What you do and how you do it...I see Jesus in you and your family.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Bible Study

Bible Study.

Those two word conjure up a myriad of thoughts and emotions in me. Going back to the beginning ('it's a very good place to start'...sorry, Julie Andrews popped up), I can remember when I took home a chart with my name on it, from my 3rd grade Bible Class. I was to write what scriptures I read, and if I read my Bible every day. Then when I brought it back, filled to the brim of scriptures I had 'read', I received great praise (and sometimes candy) on my 'Bible Study habits'. Proud of what I had done, I would do it again the next week and UNDERLINE all the scripture I read in my Bible. That way, during our class time, when the teacher asked us to open up our Bible to a certain verse, I could pause at the underlined verses and hope that the person next to me would notice how much of my Bible was underlined and think I was really spiritual.

The next phase I remember was the debate phase. In junior high and high school, I would actually STUDY a topic that was being discussed in class so I could interject my opinion about it. And, of course, support my opinion with my underlined scriptures that I hoped others would notice.

Then there was the 'fix-it' stage that came when I got married and had children. I would search the scriptures to 'fix' whatever problem I had with spouse or kid. The 'children obey your parents' scripture was not only underlined but highlighted, as was the 'husbands love your wife'. I had scriptures about who you should play with, your language (which was quoted with my hands on my hips), your attitude (a BIG one with teens), and, of course, the 'do nots'...steal, cheat, murder, or poke your sister with your pen.

Thank goodness this morphed into a real study. But the drawback was the comparison of what I was reading to what the church was doing. The legalism I had grown to love was shattered with the grace and mercy I read about. I was suddenly thrust onto the unstable ground of 'not having the answer for everything'. I had my checklist, and it didn't include giving grace to those that didn't deserve it! (I studied many other issues: prayer, worship, etc. that I won't go into detail. But trust me, there were ALOT!) My (legalistic) pride in my 'Bible Study' was, to say the least, angry. How could the church get it all WRONG? It took almost all of God's patience, I imagine, to get me to the point of realizing that all people, me included, have sinned, and fallen, and need His son's righteousness. That forgiveness on my part, is not an option, but a requirement.

Finally (for now), my Bible Study has led me to a place that excludes my over-abundant pride. As I sat this morning, reading some of my underlined verses :), I was reading with an overwhelming desire to know God better. Every verse was alive with His presence. His love was plastered on each page. His grace and mercy flowing through each sentence. When I learned something new I was excited, because I knew He was speaking life to me. His book is full of every study a university could offer: history, science, civics, government, psychology, sociology, literature...and I get a lifetime of study to have a deeper relationship with the God of the universe. It's all about Him...and me becoming more like Him: loving, grace-filled, and merciful.

Wow! What a Bible Study!