Lenten Devotional Week Four

This week you will need: 
Day Nineteen: Art supplies

Day Twenty: Foot washing supplies OR bubble bath supplies

Day Twenty-one: clear bottle or jar with lid, vegetable oil, food coloring, glitter(optional)

Day Twenty-two: pink square paper (for origami)

Day Twenty-three: fish & bread for dinner, construction paper, glue, and glitter

Day Twenty-four: blue Jello cups or mix, whip cream, teddy grahams


Day Nineteen: Monday: Boy Alive!

Read Luke 7:11-17

Discussion:

– What significance would it have been to the widow if her son had not been raised? Think about the culture at the time. Who would she have had to care for her?

– Would you have been afraid to see someone sit up out of a coffin?

Activity:

– Paint a picture of the story. Add this to your Lenten artwork.

Day Twenty: Tuesday: Alabaster Box

Read Luke 7:36-50

OR

Washed With Tears, p.280-285 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

Discussion:

– What did the story of the debtors have to do with the woman and the Pharisee?

– Was there significance in the act of washing Jesus’s feet?

– Who can forgive sins?

Activity:

– Foot Washin’! Gather your supplies. If you have one of those pedicure tubs, pull it out! Or just grab a basin and some water. Grab some oils, lotions, whatever you have. Spare no expense. Wash the feet of those in your family. You can either do all of them. Mom and Dad can wash all feet together. Or you can all take turns.

– Alternatively: Make a luxurious bubble bath for each member of the family. Go overboard on bubbles, lotions, and fabulous bath goodness. The goal is to make everyone feel loved through pampering.

Day Tweny-One: Wednesday: Calming A Storm

Read Mark 4:35-41

OR

The Captain of The Storm, p.236- 243 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

OR

Jesus Works Miracles: The Storm, p.178-179 in Jesus Calling Storybook Bible

Discussion:

– Have you ever said to God, “Do you not even care that I am perishing?”

– Do you find that faith calms your fears?

– Have you ever felt the awe the disciples felt in your walk with Jesus? That “who is this that the wind and sea obey him” kind of feeling?

Activities:

– Storm in A Bottle: You’ll need a clear bottler jar, water, vegetable oil, food coloring (blue is the most “sea” like, but you could do any color), glitter is optional.

Fill your water or jar half way with oil. Drop in a few drops of food coloring. Add glitter if you are adding it. Fill the rest of the way with water. Add lid. Shake it around to mix the water and food coloring. Now, you can make a storm in the bottle! Rock it back and forth to make waves. Spin it in circles to make whirlwinds.

Day Twenty-Two: Thursday: Demons Into Pigs

Read Matthew 8:28-34

Discussion:

– Do you find it interesting that the demons recognized Jesus as the Son of God?

– We see demon possession in the Bible, yet we don’t hear much about it today. Do you think this is still something that happens? Does this give a new real ness to the term “spiritual warfare”?

– Jesus did something good for these men. Why do the people in the city beg Jesus to leave?

Activity:

– Make an Origami Pig! Origami is paper folding. It may take some practice to get the shapes right, but I am sure you’ll get it with practice.


Day Twenty-Three: Friday: Jesus Feeds 5,000

Read Matthew 14:13-21

OR

Jesus Works Miracles: The Fishes & The Loaves, p.180-181 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

OR

Filled Full!, p.244-249 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

Discussion:

– Do you think Jesus was tempted to be mad that all these people were following Him when He was trying to be alone?

– How many people would you guess were really there?

– What do you think they did with the leftovers?

– Do you think anyone in the crowd said, “No thanks. I’m on a low carb, mercury free diet?”

Activity:

– What’s for Dinner? Fish & Bread! Yep. Put that one the menu for dinner tonight. See what they think.

– Fish and Loaves Craft: You will need construction paper, glue, and glitter. Each person will need to cut out 5 loaves of bread from brown construction paper. With another color construction paper, you’ll cut out two fish. Use the glue to draw some lovely scales on the fish. Sprinkle with glitter. Glue all to a backdrop piece of construction paper. Add to Lenten artwork!

Day Twenty-Four: Saturday: Walking on Water

Read Matthew 14: 22-33

OR

Jesus Works Miracles: Jesus Walks on Water p.182-183 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

Discussion:

– The disciples had seen many miracles, why would they think “ghost” before “Jesus”?

– Discuss the boldness of Peter to even think to step out of the boat.

– Why did none of the other disciples try to walk on water?

– Do you ever feel like you are sinking and need to focus your eyes back on Jesus?

Activity:

– Walking on Water Snack: You’ll need blue jello, whip cream (or cool whip), and teddy Grahams (or Annie Bunny, whatever you use in your house). Make everyone a cup of blue Jello. Let it sit. Before you serve, add whip cream to the top, prop up two teddy grahams on the top of the whip cream! Enjoy.

How Else Will They Know?

no neutral

My brother and I used to do these goofy plays. Don’t think Shakespeare in the living room. This was more like SNL. Anyway, the big ending to one of our plays was, “Somebody must tell them!” said very dramatically to the audience with great pause. (Then my brother would say, “The Meme!” which we thought was oh so hilarious, but no one else got, which was what made it so funny! Note, this was not yet a thing, since this was 1996. Nonsense was the name of our game. But that bit doesn’t pertain to this right now.) We find ourselves at a place in our culture where we all yell, “Somebody must tell them!” We neglect to see that *we* are telling *them* every single day with every single interaction.

Have you ever thought about the above quote? That you will either build someone up or tear them down in each exchange you have with them? That is some heavy weight. That burden is not feeling light about now. But you know you’ve been there.

Sitting in a waiting room trying to wrangle all six kids to be quiet, don’t touch the fake plants, do not tear out all the cards from the magazines, don’t put their feet on the couches, dear Lord stay off the ground! A woman looks over and says not to you, but to the air, “Some people should not have kids!” And just like that- pfft. Punched in the gut. All your air is gone. Your struggle just ended in defeat. You’ll question what you could have done better. Then your humiliation will turn to anger. And you’ll be mad at that idiot. Mad at the world. Mad at your culture.

Sitting in a waiting room trying to wrangle all six kids to be quiet, don’t touch the fake plants, do not tear out all the cards from the magazines, don’t put their feet on the couches, dear Lord stay off the ground! A woman looks over and says, “You are doing a good job. They are well behaved and lucky to have you to teach them.” And just like that- you feel lighter. All that work and someone noticed! She said you’re doing a good job! She knows you are trying. She sees the kids really are trying and doing a really great job considered how long you’ve all been sitting here. You are happy. You are doing this hard work well! What a great community to build one another up.

I have literally had both of those things happen to me. Not on the same day, mind you. Different days. Different people. Different waiting room. Same me. Same kids. Same eternal struggle. And there were some people who said nothing, but gave me that judgy look. That unhappy to be sharing the same space with you look. And others that give you the “been there, done that” smile and nod. They’re with you. They understand.

We all have this power. Every day. Every interaction. I can build this person up. I can make their day a little brighter. I can be a little bit of sunshine. OR I can tear them down. I can make their day a little darker. I can be the rain on their parade. That is a lot of power. A lot of power in the small things.

John 13:34-35 I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.

I have a funny t-shirt that I still wear that was The Pastor’s in college. It says, “They will know we are Christians by our t-shirts.” And it was funny tongue-in-cheek poking fun at the Christian culture of the day. Wear your Jesus shirt, slap an ichthus on your car, burn your secular CDs and we all know you love Jesus, right? I don’t know what our modern equivalent is. Maybe tell everyone how perfectly broken you are, Instagram your devo time, and talk about how authentic you are? Maybe that isn’t fair. The point is, the WAY to know we are Christians is by our LOVE for each other. So simple. We haven’t grown past this. This is basic. God loves us. He LOVES us. Like, love loves us. We are loved. And what do we do? We love!

This common courtesy is honey. It draws people in. It builds them up. It plants seeds in their life that will grow when the soil is ready.

“Healing becomes the opportunity to pass off to another human being what I have received from the Lord Jesus.” -Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God.

But WHY? I don’t have time. I am busy. Can’t I just ignore everyone and keep my head down and get through? (1) Where is the victory in that? (2) No. Sorry. This isn’t about you. If you are too busy to show some common courtesy, you need to reevaluate your calendar. If you are too busy to be kind, you need to evaluate your priorities. If you need more reason…

“According to that mysterious substitution of Christ for the Christian, what we do to one another we do to Jesus.” -Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God.

 Galatians 5:13 You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love.

“Lodged in your heart is the power to walk into somebody’s life and give him or her what the bright Paul Tillich called “the courage to be.” Can you fathom that? You have the power to give someone the courage to be simply by the touch of your affirmation.” – Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God.

I’d like to leave you with the following challenge. go in love

Affirm Their Worth

So, what is this common courtesy business? Well, I consider it a spiritual discipline. In fact, this spiritual discipline is more difficult for me than prayer, fasting, Scripture reading, hospitality- anything else. When God first started working on my heart about common grace, you could feel my soul yelling, “Anything but this!” Seriously. Some people find this sort of thing easy. I do not. A punk rock teen grew up to be a punk in adult’s clothing. Polite is almost the opposite of my core. To me, polite felt like a lie. It felt wrong. Chit-chat seemed like wasted meaningless words. A waste of the limited time we are given! Oh how wrong I was. I mean, I thought I was right. My logic made sense. But God has a way of taking those things we hold as true and exposing them to light, and we see that we only saw a shadow of the issue at hand.

“Once we get over our egocentric arrogance about the fact that people don’t really want to know how we are when they say “How are you?” we can see that it is just an American way of acknowledging our presence. We can wave and acknowledge their presence too without feeling the need to give a prognosis on our latest headache.” – Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

Did that hit you as it hit me? Honestly, that single concept took me years to master. Years. And I still think I struggle with it from time to time. My brutal and completely open honesty struggles with this concept.

“The specific acts will vary from culture to culture, but the purpose is always the same: to acknowledge others and affirm their worth.” -Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

You read that? Read it again. Let that sink in. Does my need for this ideal of brutal honesty mean more than the worth of the person in front of me? No. Does my internal punk screaming for truth matter more than this moment to affirm this person’s worth? No. In these seemingly small moments, we make people. We breathe into them that thing we find in our Great God- worth. We shine a light into their darkness and say, “Hey, you! You’re worth my time and my attention.”

Titus 3:2 (CEB) They shouldn’t speak disrespectfully about anyone, but they should be peaceful, kind, and show complete courtesy toward everyone.

pip handYears ago, the thought of someone touching my baby would have sent me into a tizzy. You’ve seen that Steve Harvey video? No, not the Miss Universe one, the one about the woman who didn’t want strangers touching her baby. (I linked that for ya, just in case you somehow haven’t seen it.) Well, that is the world’s wisdom. And years ago, I would have been the first person and the loudest person saying, “If you want to touch a baby, have your own baby!” But you know how God works in ways different than the world? And you know how God changes us sometimes, even those pieces we didn’t think needed to be changed? Well, that is what He did to me.

Not long ago, in a coffee shop, I had Pip all wrapped up snug. It wasn’t cold out, and his feet are so dang fat socks are just not an option unless he really might freeze without them. So, I am standing and waiting on my café au lait, and a woman approaches me. She says, “Oh! Those feet!” Now, the judgement police sirens are going off in my head. I am sure I am about to get a lecture about how he will certainly catch pneumonia and die in 70 degree weather. I smile and mention that his feet are too fat for socks. She says, “May I?” Nodding to his fat little foot poking out of the carrier. I say, “Sure.” The lady proceeds to just hold and rub Pip’s foot for a minute. She has this sad kind of smile while she does. Pip is just grinning at her, because that is what Pip does. She then says, “Thank you so much for sharing him with me today. You have no idea how much holding that fat foot meant to me.” And then she walks off.

Now, five years ago, I would have in no polite way told her that she may not touch his foot! I would have likely acted like I couldn’t hear her when she first spoke to me, since I assumed she was just being Judgy McJudgyPants. But God was working on me. And in this moment, I chose to just show simple kindness. We’re not talking about some incredible heroic act. I was simply kind and polite. I shared my baby’s foot with a stranger for a minute. I’ll never know what that woman was going through. And I will never know what that moment meant to her. But to me, it seems Pip and I were there as an act of grace to her that day. We simply acknowledged her, and somehow we brought a little light.

Common courtesy is a simple act of compassion. It is a small act of service. Are you like I was, unable to small talk because of your own ideals? Perhaps those assumptions of others are keeping you from the smallest kindness? Will you acknowledge others and affirm their worth? Will you pray for opportunities to practice small kindnesses to strangers?

Common Courtesy

Common courtesy. Small talk. A smile. Giving a little of your time to make the day of a stranger a little better. On the one hand, we gravitate toward stories of the small “random acts of kindness”. We post them on social media. They might bring a tear to our eye. But when it is us in a situation where we could use a little common courtesy, how often do we find ourselves showing that small grace?

IMGP2160

Usually our reasons to not be courteous seem valid.

We’re busy! We need to get home and get dinner started or we won’t have time to feed the kids before they need to be at the ball field. We have a ticking clock in our heads telling us there are not enough hours in the day to make our obligations. We certainly have no time for chit chat. We certainly have too much on our plate for patience.

We’re stressed! All those million things that jam pack our schedule full all fall on us my shoulders right this second. If the kids are late, my fault. If their homework isn’t done to perfection, my fault. If their dinner isn’t healthy & nutritious enough, my fault. It all falls on me and it is all bearing down every second of every day. Stressed seems too tame a word for what we feel!

We’re tired! Burning the candle at both ends, trying to make all of this work. Kids finally get in bed and we’ve still get a few hours worth of work before we can tuck in. And just as we do, someone is crying in the night needing us. We haven’t slept in a decade and that never seems to be ending soon!

We’re selfish! Let’s stop pretending. We don’t want to chit chat when we could be reading our e-mails or playing Candy Crush in a moment of zoned out peace. We like to talk about “me” time and try to sneak it any way we can.

We feel judged! Usually because we judge ourselves. We feel like every statement is somehow a commentary on our lives. We may find we are quick to judge others, and assume the same. And yes, sometimes this really is the truth, but so are all the other things I listed.

We’re oblivious! You might say, “Well, this belongs under selfish!” Stop judging me and let me talk! (Ha! JK) This is when the selfishness gets so engrained, that it literally doesn’t even occur to us to think of someone else. You might argue, but we’re parents, we are always thinking of others! Thinking of your kids and thinking of complete strangers are two completely different things. But too often we get so into our own lives that we are completely oblivious to the lives of others.

I have absolutely been there. God has been working on me with this issue for years. Honestly. You can ask some of my small group peoples. I don’t do common courtesy. Until this past year or so, that is. This anti-chit-chat girl has become friendly to strangers. It didn’t happen overnight. And I still have to actively force myself into this common courtesy business. But I think this is something we all need to hear. I think this is something God is calling us back to in our culture. I’m not talking about online. Redeeming social media is another discussion completely. I’m talking about real life. We’re talking about loving the neighbor right in front of you right now.

I’m breaking this down into smaller bites, because what I have to say may get long. And you may need time to digest each piece. I know I did. This is also written to Christians. I don’t expect the World to live like Christ. I expect that of Christians. So, my secular readers, read on if you find interest in the inner workings of Christian life, but know where I am coming from, The Cross.

Interrupted By God

bonhoeffer interrupted

I am so ridiculously over scheduled. I know it could be so much worse. I actively try to keep my commitments to a minimum. So, I know it could be so much worse. But I find myself with no time. Ever. No time to really stop and think about those around me. No time to really even see the person in front of me. It is popular to blame technology, but that really isn’t it at all. I’m just self absorbed. Period. Blame the phone. Blame Facebook. I can’t see those around me because of me. I’m over schedule because of me. The handwriting all over the calendar is mine. The schedule that keeps me from that theoretical ideal was created by me. I think it’d be easy to blame our technology centric culture or blame other parents who “make me feel” some certain way. But blaming everything but my own bent heart will get me nowhere. It won’t take the ink off the calendar. It won’t open my eyes to the struggles of those around me. It won’t free me for the work of God.

I’m trying to get free. Not free from Facebook, my smart phone, or any of the other bogey men we like to blame. I’m trying to really be free. Praying God will remove my blinders, turn my heart outward, and realign my priorities. I can waste my days focused on me- my schedule, my kids, my life. Or I can open myself up to being interrupted by God. Open myself up to being led instead of trying to blaze a new path each new day. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” – C.S. Lewis.

How about you? Want to actually leave the blame behind and allow yourself to be interrupted by God? Friend, I have no idea what that will look like. I make no promises or assumptions about a life where I am not the center. I just know it won’t look like this- with my calendar inked with all the “have to’s” that have no eternal significance. I just know my focus has to change. I need to stop thinking about being a better mom and focus on my children. I need to stop thinking about being a better wife and focus on my husband. I need to stop looking for what to DO for God and just seek His face. There is a lot of doing in the Kingdom, but His face is first. I’m going for it. I’m going to be ready for God to interrupt my life.