It’s Not Mine

I set the case down next to the sink. No, it might get wet. I thought. I picked it up and put the strap on my shoulder, so the prized possession was resting on my back, safe from water. A woman walked by behind me in the public bathroom and knocked my purse, which knocked the case, pulling the strap from my shoulder as gravity pulled the valuable toward the ground. With Elasto-girl’s flexibility and Jack-Jack’s incredible speed, my hand moved swiftly to grab the strap to avoid the camera hitting, while my purse finished the descent to the dirty floor. Fortunately, it was only my purse and not the camera!

I need to shorten this camera strap, I thought, so it doesn’t fall off again. But wait, it is not mine, so I don’t want to adjust anything in case the owner likes it at that exact length.

I continued babying the camera for the three hours it was in my possession.camera baby

My 12-year-old daughter was in a talent competition, Actors, Models and Talent for Christ, and wanted an actual camera as a prop in one of her acting scenes. We borrowed one from a grandparent of another performer.

I was so nervous to hold the camera. I didn’t want anything to happen to it before it could be used for its purpose in the acting competition. Besides, I pretty much hate borrowing anything…almost ever…because I am afraid I will mess something up.  It is as though my pride can’t handle being the one to hurt something that is not mine.

I wish I treated my life as if it were Someone else’s!

To Whom Does This Belong?

How do I keep forgetting Whose life this is?

My pastor, Stephen Davey of Wisdom for the Heart,  did an illustration not long ago. He brought a man to the front of the church and asked him to give him his wallet. The man did. The pastor then took $20 out of the wallet and handed the man his wallet back – $20 short. The man said, “Thank you.” As we all would expect when someone gives you something back – even though:

  1. It belonged to the man to begin with
  2. The pastor was returning it with less value than it originally had.

His example was an illustration of tithing – how God gives us “a wallet of money” and we give a portion back (sometimes only 10%!), and then act like God should say “thank you,” when really it was 100% His to begin with!

Wallet of Twenty-Four hours

I liked the illustration, and for me, I applied it to my “wallet of time.” I have 24 hours in a walletOfTimeday that God has given me. I am embarrassed to say that sometimes I act like He should say “thank you” if I give “some” of it back, while I try to keep the rest of the time “for me”.

The fact is that all of the hours were His and still are. It is up to me to represent them that way.

It’s funny to me how much I like to compartmentalize life: This hour is for Bible time with God; this hour is for exercise; this hour is for motherhood; this hour is for my husband.  But God sees all the hours! All of the words, all of the thoughts, all of the actions,  all of my all is meant to be used by Him!

I guess I need to treat this life like the camera next to the sink – as a precious possession of Someone else’s- and protect every inch of it, so it is ready to be used when the time of its purpose arrives.

If I recalled Whose life this is, would I guard my brain’s intake more wisely? (Phil 4:8)  Would I use words purposefully (1Thess 5:11)? Would I rest more, eat better, and in general beat my body into submission to what I should be doing? (1Cor 9:27)

What if I took care of all of my possessions – as if they are gifts for His use and not mine? (because they are.) (1Chron 29:14)  What if I used my life as the gift He loaned….and used it for His purposes alone?

In reality, there is no-such thing as a compartmentalized Christian.

“Either you live your life for God’s glory, or you are living for yourself. There is no ground in-between.” – Chris Brady

May God keep us focused on living for His glory…with every hour He graciously puts in our “wallet”,

Terri

(note: Illustrations by my daughter, Christine Brady, age 12)

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Crucify Him! (the song)

Good Friday

Dear Lindsey,

blur CrucifyMusic somehow reaches the core of my being. A certain song will command movement and make a workout more intense; another tune will force a smile to overcome my countenance; yet other combinations of notes slow my pulse and restore me.

“I wrote this song yesterday; I think this is the piece we have needed for our Good Friday service,” Gary Hallquist, the pastor of music ministry of our church, said a little over a year ago. His music-writing amazes me.

Our Good Friday “Service of Shadows” is a choral and orchestral production centered around Scripture reading, depicting the last days of Christ before crucifixion. The lighting changes to darkness slowly throughout the musical evening, ending the service in complete darkness and silence, as if the Light of the World was extinguished. On Sunday morning, the service begins in the dark, and the lights come up – into full brightness to celebrate the Resurrection.

At the Service of Shadows, singing “There is a Fountain” or “Oh Precious Savior” leaves the listeners and singers in wonder and awe of Christ. But Gary’s song called, “Crucify Him!” stirs different emotions. I didn’t want to sing it.

overall crucifyThe orchestra leads the introduction with dissonance. Conflicting notes that don’t yield “happy” build on top of one another, creating suspense like the theme from “Jaws”. The listener is transported back in time to the day that Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, asked the crowd, “What do you want me to do with Jesus?”

“Crucify Him!” is almost shouted in bass tones in a syncopated rhythm that is woven throughout the piece. The shout begins on the first beat of the measure, but then it changes: beat two, or the second half of four – as if a crowd is sporadically shouting their opinions, yet so musical in chorus. The orchestra echoes the rhythm, with the bass instruments randomly repeating it while the choir is singing other melodies, like an underlying hatred in the world.

I hate singing, “Crucify Him!” The words pierce my heart, yet I know singing it creates the emotions for the service that must have been there the day the chief priests and officers were shouting it to the Roman prefect. (John 19:6)

The men sections come in full force, singing the words of Pilate in powerfully ominous bass tones: “Whom do you want me to release to you?”

Title CrucifyThe choir women answer as if they are the crowd of Jewish leaders in front of Pilate, “Give us Barabbas!”

“What do you want with Jesus your king?” Pilate (the choir men) asks.

The crowd (choir women) interrupts with the answer, “We have no king but Caesar; We want Him put to death! His blood be on us and our children!”

What… an… angry… crowd. I cannot imagine the emotional overcast that day.

Do I have to sing and pretend to be that?! I would NEVER scream, “Crucify Him!” If I were there, how could I possibly say that I would rather have Pilate release a prisoner and kill the Son of God instead? Barabbas was known for robbery, which in those days often meant terrorism and/or bloody insurrection. (Mark 15:7) I would NEVER have chosen to release him, knowing that with my words, I could have voted for Pilate to release Jesus, a man who never sinned, instead!

Do you ever have these thoughts?

  • “How could those leaders act like that? Wasn’t a crowd just yelling, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ last Sunday?” (John 12)
  • “How could Peter, one of the disciples, say he didn’t even know Jesus, when just hours before, Jesus had washed his very feet with His own hands?” (John 18:17)
  • What kind of man is Pilate, that he would allow a crowd to make the decision for his conviction.
  • “I would NEVER yell, ‘Crucify Him!’ I would never want to free a bad guy instead. I would NEVER say I didn’t know Jesus. I would never be like that.”

sync crucifyBut I can never say, “never.”

When I judgmentally thought, “That’s disgusting,” looking at someone dressed differently, adorned with things I would not have near my body, and walking in an unattractive way, I was not loving.

When I had to talk myself back into emotional control when the flight attendant gave me a hard time about “FAA regulations,” (which must not have existed on the 3 previous flights that day!) I was not seeing her as Jesus.

When I received a negative email, how much did I want to return the negative with a kiss of betrayal?

“Crucify Him!” I was shouting with each thought, each emotion, each lack of love.

If I am not for Him, I am against Him. (John 3:18) I shout “Hosanna!” in church, and by the time I am home at the end of the week, or sometimes even the day, I have denied Him three times.

I cannot say, “never.”

Barabbas was guilty.

Jesus was innocent.

Barabbas lived; and on that first “Good Friday,” Jesus died in his place.

I am guilty; Jesus died in my place.

Maybe Pilate represents all those men of power who lack the courage of their own convictions. He thought Jesus was innocent (John 18:38, 19:4,6), yet followed the crowd. I have been Pilate.

Peter may stand for those who have been there: felt their guilt, know their need for a Savior, and yet hide it under the pressure of the “in” crowd, a friend or spouse. I have been Peter.

Today, Good Friday, as we remember the day that Jesus was crucified, may we lay our own lives aside and live for Him. “Greater love has no one than this: than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Closing this letter is best done with the words of Dr. Ray Pritchard:

“Finally we are left with the question Pilate asked: “What shall I do then with Jesus?”

You can stand back and say, “I don’t care about him.”

You can push him away and say, “Leave me alone.”

You can open your heart and say, “Lord Jesus, I welcome you into my life.”

That is the best thing you can do. It is the safest thing you can do. Trust him. Run to the cross and lay hold of Jesus who loved you and died for you. What more could you do than what he has done for you?

Jesus or Barabbas. The choice is yours.”

May God give you grace to believe in Jesus and crown him as Savior and Lord today.

In love,

Terri

Suggested Reading: John, Chapters 17 -21

Related Post: Climb the Ladder

Below:  Video recording of the Service of Shadows (Crucify Him song is near the 40th minute, but feel free to enjoy its entirety for the real message.)

 

 

That’s not the Right Seat!

Dear Lindsey,

When my son was four, he sat quietly at a table and dumped the pieces to a puzzle, spreading them out to begin. He said to me, “Mom, pretty soon you are going to hear a big ‘TAH DAH!’ but first… there’s going to be a lot of work!”

I wonder if that is what God thinks when we first recognize our desire to follow Him.

As I continued my walk in my journey of pride diagnosis, I came to the next symptom:

Wanting to Correct

I don’t believe the Bible mentions the “gift of reproach” as one of the spiritual gifts, but girl, I think I lived much of my life thinking I had it! Maybe it was growing up with three brothers (who certainly had a lot to learn from me. Tongue-in-cheek.) or being blessed with talents, A’s and no cavities, but somehow along the way, I developed a critical eye: a sign of pride.

How do I tell her she needs to dress differently?

I need to write the school about that teacher.

How can a deacon of the church let his child do THAT on Sunday?

Galatians 6:2-5 says that we should bear one another’s burdens and every man bear his own burden.

If I am thinking of ways to correct someone, I am hardly carrying their burden. In fact, every minute I think about correcting someone is a minute I have not spent worshipping the Lord, or improving myself.  I love the saying that if 80% of the problem is my husband’s (or friend’s or teammate’s) and 20% of the problem is my own, then I need to spend 100% of my time working on the 20% that is my own! Every minute spent on stressing “rules” to someone else is often a deterrent from allowing them the “relationship” with God.

(note: The Bible does talk about reproof (James 5:20 for example), and there is a proper time; this “pride” about which I am talking is not Biblical reproof. The recommended reading below clarifies the difference.)

Each morning before school, I try to read to my children from a devotional book.  The following story comes from A Wisdom Retreat (book 1), by Stephen Davey.   On Day 19, entitled The Aisle Seat, Davey best describes someone who chose to worship God instead of correcting His people:

————-

“Rebecca Pippert, in her fascinating book entitled Out of the Salt Shaker and into the World told the story of her arrival in Portland, Oregon, where she met Bill, one of the students on the campus where she served. He was a brilliant young man with messy hair and, as she recalls, he was perpetually shoeless. From outward appearances he was a little strange, but inwardly he was inquisitive and incredibly bright.

One day Bill decided to attend a middle-class church that was across the street from the campus. He walked into this church of well-dressed people in his tattered jeans, tee shirt, and, of course, barefooted.  In truth, this was the first time he’d ever been inside a church sanctuary.

People looked a bit uncomfortable, but no one said anything as Bill walked down the aisle looking for a seat. The church was quite crowded that Sunday and as he came to the front pew he realized there were no seats left. So without any hesitation, he sat down on the carpet in the middle of the aisle, the same place he sat when his Christian friends invited him as they met for Bible study. He casually crossed his legs and waited for the service to begin.

The tension was palpable as people murmured, craning their necks to see the stranger in the aisle. Then one of the elderly deacons – a man who was well-respected in the church – began walking down the aisle toward the student. Rebecca’s friends who witnessed this scene told her that they whispered to each other, “Well, you can’t exactly blame him for scolding the guy…he is a disruption to the service!”

As the well-groomed deacon neared Bill, the church was deathly quiet. All eyes were glued front and center to see what would happen next. With some difficulty, the old man lowered himself to the floor and sat down next to Bill. He crossed his legs and shared his hymnal with the college-aged boy. The crowd was stunned.

That Sunday the deacon not only worshiped there on the floor, but he reminded the congregation how to worship.”

———–

C.S. Lewis says that the greatest enemy of Christianity’s growth is …Christians. What?! “The greatest enemy of Christianity’s growth is [sinful] Christians.” (OK, I added a word.) Well of course we are!  I bet I stunted the growth with my very own lips at times, correcting people for things that didn’t even matter to Jesus himself. Prideful people take the light off of the Lord and put it onto themselves.

God doesn’t need me; I need God. Anytime that role is changed, my pride is in the way and those around me suffer.  (Aside:  PLEASE, if you have been hurt by one of these “special people with the gift of correcting,” look beyond them, and rise above to forgive. God has a bigger plan for you! Christians are not perfect (not even your spouse!), or they would not need a Savior Who is!)  May we follow that deacon’s example and worship God instead of working on His people in our hearts and actions today.

In love,

Terri Brady

Psalm 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, o Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Recommended reading:

Instrument in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp

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