Friday, April 29, 2011

It's okay to be Second...

When I was a first grade teacher, asking the kids to "line up" at the door was always comical.  First graders cannot just walk to the door.  They *must* run as fast as possible, elbowing every other child out of the way as they race to be FIRST!!  No matter how many times I sent a kid to the rear of the line to be the "Leader of the Back," I could always count on the fact that the next time we lined up, that same kid would again smash his or her way to the front of the line.  The desperate need to be first rarely lessoned.

Kids ALWAYS want to be FIRST.... And when you think about it... grown-ups usually want to be first too:  the first to get the glory, the big paycheck, the best house.  "Keeping up with The Joneses" is a never-ending competition for some families.

For example, we have some great friends who once built a house.  All of the other houses in their neighborhood were also newly-built and just had dirt yards.  Everyone was just trying to grow grass.  But our friends had a plan... in the middle of one fall night, under the cloak of darkness, our friends snuck outside and planted 100 daffodil bulbs.  They were hoping that come spring, while everyone sat back looking at "just grass," their house would have this EXPLOSION of COLOR as all of the daffodils sprung up, seemingly out of nowhere.  They would actually BE "The Joneses" for that brief moment.  Everyone in the neighborhood would want the yard with all of the bright and happy daffodils.

It still makes me giggle... imagining them sneaking out to plant all of those bulbs at midnight...!  But the need to be "first," can actually take completely rational, educated adults... and turn them into crazy people.

This week, I took Jack and Luke to see the movie, Soul Surfer.  It's the story of 13-year old Bethany Hamilton who, in October 2003, had her left arm eaten off by a shark while she was surfing.  Do you remember being 13?  The peer pressure?  The social angst?  I know that when I was 13, if I wore the wrong clothes to school, I was a complete mess.  I cannot imagine having the fortitude to just shrug off the stares of other people and say, "Yup... I am missing my arm... let's move on."  (or something similar!).  

Bethany credits her faith in Jesus for her amazing attitude.  Instead of wallowing in the "WHY ME?!!!!!" stage, she grabs her surfboard and figures out a way to surf one armed... enough that she wins a national championship just 2 years after her shark attack.  Since then, she has used her fame/notoriety/infamy to show God's love to others.  She has figured out that God had a plan for her all along - that He never abandoned her - and that He has allowed her to do more with one arm than she ever could have done with two.

Can you imagine the sheer number of people - kids and grown-ups alike - who have been inspired by her story?  People who have suffered incredible hardships or pain?  I know that I'm feeling a little less inclined to complain about stupid stuff... I keep hearing Woody's voice from Toy Story, "Did you hear what I said? I AM MISSING MY ARM!!!"   My frustrations or problems seem a little bit dumb when you compare them to this.  And when you compare your own issues to the major pain and suffering that Jesus experienced through the crucifixion?  Well... it's much easier to accept that "I am second."  GOD is first... He is in control... and He has a plan... for each and every one of us.

Bethany Hamilton figured out that she doesn't have to be first either.  She's willing to sit second to God and let Him work miracles through her.  Want to hear it in her own words?  

Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One.
I was dead.  But look!  I am alive forever and ever!  And I hold the keys to Death and Hell.
Revelation 1:17 

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Matthew 20:16

:) Mags
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Plastic Jesus

I have an issue with "fake..."  Fake attitude, fake happiness, fake family, fake faith, fake Jesus.  I'm sure it's because I've met too many people in my life who completely false:  

  • They act nice to you... but talk nasty about you when you walk away.
  • They pretend to have it all together (making me feel like a dolt), but really they are falling apart... just like the rest of us.
  • They pretend to be "THE BEST" spouse, parent, friend, associate, leader, whatever... but really, they are beyond flawed and their relationships are a disaster.
  • They pretend to be a Christian... they talk big, but walk small.... clutching their "faith" in a tightly-held fist and waving it front of everybody.  But their faith is fake... plastic... like the little Plastic Jesus they grasp.

I've posted several videos by IgniterMedia on this blog - largely because they "get" everything I'm thinking.  This one about "Plastic Jesus" is no exception:

Stop pretending!!  You don't have to be the PERFECT person/spouse/friend/parent/child/etc.  You just have to be YOU... flawed, screwed-up, YOU.  Because believe me, all of your friends are flawed and screwed up too.

I am a HUGE Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanatic... as in I own all of the episodes, have action figures, posters, and other prop-replicas... scary, I know!  One of my favorite episodes is called Earshot.  In this, Buffy is tainted by a demon's blood and is suddenly able to hear everyone's thoughts... all of the time.  She overhears what she thinks is a plot to murder kids at school and finds herself in the school's bell tower with one of the school nerds who is brandishing a high-powered rifle.  This is an excerpt from her speech to him (before she disarms him):

Stop doing that!

Doing what?

Stop saying my name like we're friends.
We're not friends. You all think I'm an
idiot. A short idiot.

I don't.
I don't think about you much at all.
Most people here don't. Bugs you,
doesn't it? You've got all this pain,
all these feelings and nobody's
paying attention.

You think I just want attention?

No, I think you're in the bell tower
with a high powered rifle because you
want to blend in. Believe it or not, Jonathan,
I understand. About the pain.

Oh, right. 'Cause the burden of being
beautiful and athletic, that's a crippler.

I'm sorry, I was wrong. You are an idiot.
My life happens very occasionally to
suck beyond the telling of it. More than
I can stand sometimes. And not just me.
Every single person down there is
ignoring your pain because they're way
too busy with their own. The beautiful
ones, the popular ones, the guys that
pick on you... everyone.

If you could hear what they're feeling -
the confusion, the loneliness... It looks
quiet down there. It's not. It's deafening.

Everyone has struggles... Everyone has pain...  You don't have to pretend that "everything is perfect" when it's not.  Jesus was the only "perfect" one... and His life was full of hardships and pain!

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 
Psalm 9:9-10

Learn it... believe it... God is a refuge - a place of safety and comfort.  You don't have to pretend anymore.  He will help you.  He understands.  And if you really looked around, you'd see that all of your friends are also dealing with their own issues too.

Why settle for the illusion provided by the Plastic Jesus when you can have the real thing?

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Monday, April 25, 2011

If Jesus Had Twitter...

Igniter Media is one of my very favorite Christian video groups - their stuff is AMAZING!!  This Easter, they created a video called "Follow" that tells of the crucifiction as if Jesus was on Twitter.  I'm not as much of a Twitter fan as Facebook... but they're similar enough! ;)  Considering Facebook is my homepage (I'm a total FB junkie!), this video really spoke to me!! :)  I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did - and I hope your Easter was full of laughter and fun and a moment or two of gratitude for the sacrifice made by our Savior.  He is RISEN! :)

PS - This video has sound, so be sure to pause the music at the bottom of this blog so you can hear it!

:) Mags
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Friday, April 15, 2011

Rise Up, Congregation!!

Frankly, if your own church isn't doing something like this for Easter, I think you're missing out... LOL!

I would LOVE to be a part of something like this!!  How much fun are those people having!!  Reminds me of the joy I always felt when I was a part of my high school and college dance teams!

This Easter, I hope you get a chance to really feel the JOY of God's grace and sacrifice.  Because of Him, we have everlasting life... and if you don't get the chance to dance like this on earth, you can bet you're going to be able to dance like this in Heaven!!

He is RISEN!  And that's something to be joyful about!!

Wishing you and yours a blessed Easter,
:) Mags
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