What you need to do today

nadim-merrikh-307897When I was young, more than anything else, I wanted to be a broadway dancer. I wanted dance lessons, but my parents gave me accordion lessons. Not quite the same skill set. I dreamed of dancing in the ensemble of a broadway show. I wasn’t interested in the lead, I loved the idea of teamwork and precision the line required. In theater, the production team sometimes issue a “cattle call,”  an open invitation for anyone who wants to audition to show up and give it their best shot.

Jesus issued a cattle call in Mark 8. It was an invitation to the whole crowd, not just his disciples. “Anybody want to come after me? Anyone?” All are invited to try out. Not just the spiritual (the disciples), but the crowd (those after Jesus’ works and wonders.) Doesn’t matter where you start on your journey of coming after Jesus. It is open to all, the protocol is the same:  Deny self, take up cross and follow. All can try out, but it is a tough regimen if you are going to make the line.

Be encouraged, Jesus calls you. You can start today, all over again, every morning his mercies are new. 

First comes denying self. Do I want Jesus more than anything else. If I am to deny myself, I must first identify what my self is after (other than Jesus.) To go after him, my agendas, my ambitions are not annexed into the assignment, but avoided altogether. Remember, somewhere else Jesus said, “Seek first my kingdom…etc etc.”

Jesus’ demands are not without reward. Seek him and the rest falls into line. All your worries will be addressed within the Kingdom of your loving Father. The promise is God’s joy over you, that’s worth it.

What are my “flesh’s” agendas and ambitions? A life of ease, satisfying my appetites, fame in my world. To avoid them I will need to take up my cross. This means I would: work and be busy with my assignments (in home and in heart), to eat healthily and economically; to offer with abandon the labors of my heart. All with eyes fixed on Jesus (source and goal of my faith.)

What are your “flesh’s” agendas and ambitions? What must you do to avoid them? 

Am I up for it? This morning’s Lectio Divina from Psalm 119 comes to mind as the only source of power if I am to make the line: Oh Lord, “give me life.” Both my power and plan come God’s power and plan.

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you that you see in me the potential for coming after you. Thank you that you give me clear cut definitions of what I am to do to follow you. Grant me the grace to rely on your generous power and your loving face to deny myself, take up my cross and follow. Thank you and amen.

 

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How to be honored by God

Thoughts on Mark 8:34-9:1

If I’m serious about following you, I will deny myself (so no to my ego and my sinful tendencies), commit myself to choose to die (carry with me the awareness and means of death) and then go where you go, do what you do, let you lead. If I hang on to my own wishes, my own ways, my own sense of control, my life will be dead to joy and purpose. What good will it do me to be physically alive, but numb and dead inside? Besides there is no guarantee that all my attempts to determine the fate and safety of my life will pay off. I can’t control the circumstances of my existence. Death/illness comes unexpectedly and/or eventually. Unless I honor you and your words in the midst of this crazy, life, you will not honor me in your glorious life. I want to taste the power of the Kingdom Now. Thank you and Amen.

A warning from Jesus

Thoughts on Mark 8:14-21

You were still musing over the exchange you had just finished with the Pharisees. And the disciples were worried about what they were going to eat. Your tone of voice sounds a bit snippy here, Jesus. Is it? Or am I projecting onto you what I expect to hear? Impatience, Irritation. hmm.

How often do I miss the chance to learn the deeper things of the spirit because I am consumed with the temporary, the workaday worries of this life?

Why do you spend so much mental energy thinking about what you’re going to eat? How you’re going to pay your bills? Have you ever gone hungry? Remember the time I gave you the down payment for your house? When I arranged to have your car fixed when you had no cash for it? Don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on the big picture. Get it?

Once again, Jesus, with you in the boat is where transformation takes place. You speak of profound spiritual truths and I fuss over what I’m going to eat for lunch. My assumption of your angry dismissal of me comes to the surface and I must dive beneath it. My life stance as being the source of impatience is now the “bread” I’m worrying over, it’s a distraction that pulls me away from hearing your truth. (Debby, take your eyes off yourself and listen to Jesus, he’s telling you something very important.) You are warning me about how something useful and good when used properly (leaven) can go bad and be harmful when not. What is the useful and good that I need to be cautious about? I’ll sit with you in the boat for a minute around that.

My time. It is one thing I have plenty of. Do I use it wisely or let it rot and spoil?

What about you? What good and useful thing in your life is Jesus warning you about?

 

When Jesus leaves…

Thoughts on Mark 8:11-13

Jesus you are often getting into your boat and going to the other side. Today the Pharisees are hounding you, out to pick a fight. They aren’t seeking you out of a desire to understand or know you, but to test you. They are looking for a reason to excommunicate you. They want a sign from heaven. My goodness, you’ve been healing people left and right, feeding thousands from a couple loaves of bread, what more sign could they need? What were they after? Prove yourself they challenged. Their hard hearted, demanding stance broke your heart. You sighed with grief. On the crowds you had compassion, they were like sheep without a shepherd. With the Pharisees, you ran out of patience. Enough, you said. You wouldn’t perform, you wouldn’t dance to their drummer. You got into your boat and left them.

This reminds me of the scripture “today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.” Oh my…do not keep demanding of God to prove himself or his love, do not continue to test him. There may come a time when, Jesus grieving over your stubbornness, leaves you. Ouch. Stop. Look at all God’s love has done for you. Don’t have a what have you done for me lately attitude. Ponder the wonder of creation; your creation and re-creation. Slow down, reorient yourself and let Jesus be sign enough.