Tag Archives: God’s Word

You Get Wise, You Get to Church!

community october

 

My husband loves to quote movies. Thus, the title of this post.  Can anyone tell me who said it? Or what movie it’s from?

We get lots of advice from people, don’t we?  Solicited, Unsolicited…it doesn’t matter, some people just like to advise.  Let’s be honest, we have all been given some bad advice over the years.  If we are really honest, we have to admit we’ve likely also offered some bad advice.

Someone told me once that you should be careful who you hang around with because you will start to become like the 5 people you spend the most time with. Hmmm…that got me thinking.

My husband and I are attending a class at church and one of the pastors explained it like this…We are all playing along, living our lives, grading ourselves on our holiness, assuming we are getting about a B.  If we are super prideful, we may actually believe we are getting an A.  We are following rules, we are “religious”, we are successful in the world’s eyes, we don’t see any overt sin in our lives (usually because we are avoiding seeing it).  We compare ourselves with others and we come out on top…”At least I’m not as bad as that guy!” We may give money to charitable causes and maybe we serve a little but out of duty.  Or maybe we do feel a passion to serve and we are doing and saying all the right things.  We go to church but we are not necessarily living transformed lives.  We look past that though and drift along, showing up in all the right places. We give ourselves high marks for things we think are “holy”.  We deem ourselves, “pretty good”, maybe a B- or a C plus.  Most of us know better than to say we are an A.  We may think it but we know we should be humble because we learned that in Sunday school, so we give ourselves a B while patting ourselves on the back for our humility.

Meanwhile, the Bible tells us that we are sinners in need of a Savior. The Bible says that keeping the law is not what’s important.  James 2:10 tells us “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” I don’t know about you but I know I’m not capable of keeping all of the Laws in the Bible.  I’m working on the Big 10.

So the pastor had written a bunch of grades on the board…A, B-, C…and then he put a slash through all of them and said, “Actually, we are all getting an F”. And there was a big red F on the board. Now for someone like me who is a rule follower, this does not sit well.  I have spent my life doing what I’m told, caring about rules, following God’s commandments, going to church, taking communion, praying, writing, speaking and yoga-ing for Jesus.  The sting of this truth revealed my heart.  I was trying to be “good enough” for God. I believed I was about a B. I was performing and striving and hoping and praying that my “works” would please Him.  Maybe you do this too? Maybe you’ve been fighting to be an A and when you feel like a C, despair sets in. Friends, that despair is not from the Lord.  The Lord offers hope.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

“For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.” – Romans 8:3

See, God knows us and loves us and sent His son to save us.  Picture that report card with an F on it.  When Jesus came, it miraculously changed into an A. He wiped our slate clean. This is the good news.  This is the Gospel.

The toughest part of this for some is not believing that Jesus came or that God loves us or that the sacrifice on the cross was for us…the toughest part for some of us is admitting that we cannot do it alone. We don’t believe the F.   It’s difficult to admit our own weakness and need for a Savior.  But it is necessary.  If you could do it alone, Jesus’s life and death would mean nothing.

Some people in our lives, some of our “teachers” will tell us we are a B, we are “doing great”, we should just work harder, do more, give more and then we will be enough. But the wise teachers will tell us about the one who hands out the A’s.  Our wise teachers will lead us the the only One who can give us a passing grade.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

I told someone once that I am a sinner saved by grace and she looked at me and said, “Yeah, right. What have you ever done wrong?”  Isn’t that just like us? We assume other people have it all together.  We look at our shortcomings but speculate that others have none. Y’all.  For real. We are all sinners. We can dress ourselves up and shellack the heck out of our lives but underneath, we all struggle with sin.

This is not fun to talk about.  That’s why we don’t. But once we get past this part…this conviction and repentance part…we get to grace.  Grace gives the A. Grace graduates us.

Surround yourself with truth tellers. People who will lead you to the Master Teacher.  People who will lovingly and tenderly call you out on your junk. Friends, we are all jacked up. You, me and all our neighbors, pastors, priests, teachers, politicians, leaders.  Don’t look to the right and left and think “they have no sin” or “I have no sin compared to them”. Jesus is the only one without sin.  As for us, we are all in the same boat…we are all castaways in need of rope.

Let Jesus be your teacher.  Spend time with Him.  Make Him the one you spend the most time with. As for your 5?  Hang around with people who point you to Him.

I look forward to seeing you all in our caps and gowns on graduation day…humbled and grateful for the way He handed out A’s.  All of us, incredulous at our good fortune, knowing the courses were tough and we could not have passed if not for Him.

©2015 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™, All Rights Reserved

Day 20: The Catholic Mass

 


massI went to a funeral today. 

It was beautiful.

I have to say, today…I’m thankful for the Catholic Mass.

Maybe it was because I was feeling emotional, maybe it was because I could actually see the priest, maybe it was because he was so genuine and engaged and passionate.  Whatever the reason, I sat there thinking the Mass is really beautiful.

The way the priest held up the body and blood of Christ and repeated the words that Jesus spoke, “Take this all of you and eat it, this is my body which has been given up for you…when the supper was ended he took the cup, again he gave thanks and praise, handing the cup to his disciples he said…” If you are Catholic, you are reading along with this and can continue to recite the whole thing.  It’s in our heads and in our hearts.

Sometimes, it’s just in our heads.

But today, it was in my heart.  I felt those words.  I felt Jesus saying them.  I felt that bread and wine being transformed.  I was there.  With him.  I felt his love.

I felt His love for me. I felt His love for my dear friend who lost her mom.  I felt His love for her mom.  I pictured her with Jesus at the table in heaven.  I felt Him loving all of us.  Sacrificing for all of us. Saving all of us.

The words we say at Mass aren’t just words.  They are real.  They are powerful. They transform.

So when we lose someone we love and we are sorrowful, we remember His promise that we will be with Him in heaven one day.  We remember the words from John 14:2-4,  “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Can you feel those words?  Can you see that place?  

Can you feel that He goes before us and prepares the way?   

He does.

The Mass ended with “How Great Thou Art” which was amazing.  I found a version on line I had to share.

I hope you can feel it. 

©2013 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big YES™  All Rights Reserved

Picture from someecards.com on Pinterest

And now we state the obvious…

 

i-like-big-books

I love books.

I’m grateful for books.  All of them.  Cook books, comic books, love stories, mysteries, self-help books, spiritual books, yoga books, little books, big books, poetry books, old crickety smelly books, shiny new hard cover hot off the presses books.

I love THE Book of course, the Holy Bible.  I LOVE IT because God speaks through it and lots of other reasons.  I love it because it’s not actually one book, it’s many books so it’s a library which I love because in libraries we can never be bored, or judged, or stuck.  We can soar in libraries and when we read the Bible too.  SOAR.

I love libraries because you walk in and just feel…”Ahhhhhhh….”.  The quietness and the smell and the BOOKS…it’s so good.   You can be TRANSPORTED all over the universe when you are just sitting in your chair.  LIVES CHANGE in libraries.  I’m grateful for libraries.

I imagine Heaven has lots of books…lots of libraries and cozy nooks filled with piles of books and comfy chairs and soft blankets and time.  Lots of time.  There’s no rush.  No hurry.  Just melt into that story and be well.

Let’s give a shout out to all the authors out there who bleed into the pages, who open their hearts and pour the contents out, who bravely enter the arena and fight, who can’t possibly know what their words will mean, what weight they will carry, whose lives they will change.  Yes, authors, we are grateful.

“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” 
― F. Scott Fitzgerald

I could go on and on but I want to have time to read.

God, thank you for books and authors and libraries.

God, Thank you for your WORD which gives life.

I am so grateful.

©2013 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big YES™  All Rights Reserved