Meet The Expectation
“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Matthew 10:40
In our fancy world of advertising, marketing and media promotion, we don’t always get what we expect. A young lady I know decided to order her prom dress online. In the pictures, the dress was lovely and the price was certainly appealing but when the gown arrived it was in a 5x7 envelope and she realized she hadn’t received exactly what she expected.
This verse from St. Matthew’s Gospel is all about our hospitality, discipleship and love of Christ. We are called to bring Christ to everyone we meet. Now, I can wear a crucifix or a Miraculous Medal and people might assume I am a Catholic, but when they receive me, do I offer them the real Jesus. When people receive me, they may not receive the Gospel message Jesus is asking me to live. All too often I’m afraid, I march around coming in and out of peoples lives and what they receive is my short temper, my snap judgements and my impatience, instead of the Father’s mercy and compassion.
The words of Jesus in this Gospel are crystal clear, whoever receives YOU, receives ME. This Gospel challenges us to live our lives as an ambassador for the one who sends us. If Jesus sends us out into the word, we need to realize it really is him we represent, so, if we can shift our focus to “less my way; more Gods way” then we’ll have a better chance of reflecting the one we really want others to receive. We don't want to be the prom gown shoved in an envelope that leaves people confused and disappointed. We want those God puts in our path to know the beauty of the Lord so they can receive the amazing mercy, love and grace he offers.
I suppose the way to really live this Gospel is to ask for help and become mindful. My request today will go like this,; Jesus, I ask you to bless me with the grace to be your hands and feet here on earth today. Be with me in every conversation and interaction with your sons and daughters so that they might receive your love and mercy through me.
A Seed to Plant: Just two questions to ask yourself; Are there people throughout your day that don’t truly receive Christ when they interact with you? How will you invite Christ into your heart so those interactions can change?
Blessings on your day!
Tell The Story
And from that time Jesus began to tell the people…Matthew 4:17
Can you think of something you loved to do as a child that you enjoy just as much today? One of the things on my list is listening to stories from my dad’s childhood. Even if I’ve heard some of the stories again and again I just love to listen to him. I really love it on the rare occasion when I get to sit down with my aunts and uncles and listen to them all chime in and laugh and add details the other might have forgotten. Sometimes I feel like I’m being catapulted right into the middle of the story myself. I can remember the names of people and places that were never a part of my life but their stories have been handed down with such detail and emotion I think I know. I wasn’t alive when WWII ended but I’ve heard my dad tell about that day when he was a little boy and Grandpa closed up the store so they could load up the car and drive around with a picnic lunch celebrating. I’ve never lived in the day of probation but I know stories about young men and their fast cars that carried bootleg whiskey across state lines. I’ve never known a life without indoor plumbing or electricity but the stories make me realize I’m both blessed by my abundance and absent of the simplicity and peacefulness of that time. Not all of the stories are fun, some are hard to tell and hard to hear but they are all a part of the story of my family and God’s fingerprint is so clear throughout. I’m always sad when the conversation ends. I just want to know every part of the story.
Jesus had a magnificent story, a story of heaven. He didn’t talk about it like a distant mystical place; He talked about it like it was home. His stories were rich with detail and hope. He had a way of drawing people in and they would sit at his feet and listen as long as he spoke. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to sit there and listen, to be inspired and amazed and encouraged.
A young person recently made me realize how important it is to share the stories of our life and our family and our faith. I came away from my conversation with her realizing we need to share the most important part of our story…the part that lets people know what God is doing in our lives. Some think faith is a private thing; a personal thing. What if Jesus had thought that very same thing? What if he’d kept the news of his Father private and personal and never shared the details and the emotion with his followers? What would have happened if the Apostles had kept the story of Jesus to themselves?
When you sit down to tell your stories, past and present…tell them the whole story. Tell them how God has been a part of your history, your life, your success and struggle? We can’t assume our others know about our Faith…we have to tell the story for the same reason Jesus did, to inspire, encourage and amaze.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list this week of the ten greatest ways God has been a part of your history. Share at least three of those before the month ends.
Blessings on your day!
Hearing The Footsteps
…“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:15
I’m getting old and my brain can’t always remember the three things I needed to run into the store and grab, but as a mom, there are some events that happened years and years ago that I remember like it was yesterday. One of those events happened on a snowy January afternoon LOTS of years ago. I had successfully gotten all three little Wohlfert’s down for a nap and I plunked into the chair with a cup of coffee to just enjoy a few minutes of peace and quiet before I started to tackle the kitchen, which looked somewhat like the aftermath of a tornado. About 15 minutes and one cup of coffee later, I began to feel guilty for just sitting around and I was mustering up the gumption to get to the kitchen when a loud, slow, steady sound began approaching. I remembered being startled and frozen with fear because I could not identify the sound. I kicked off the blanket, sat down my coffee cup and carefully walked toward the sound. As I peered around the corner I realized the noise was being made by my two year old son Jason. There he stood in the middle of the kitchen floor, wearing nothing but a diaper and his daddy’s new cowboy boots. The sound was him trying to walk in those boots which went nearly as high as his diaper. I’m still not sure how he even hiked his pudgy little legs into those boots and managed to walk at all. I also wondered where his clothes were and how he’d managed to get out of bed and sneak downstairs all the way into our bedroom closet and find the boots.
I’ve listened for the sound of my children’s footsteps for nearly twenty five years. I listened for footsteps to come into my room in the middle of the night to complain of a sick tummy or sore throat. I’ve listened for the sound of footsteps on Christmas and Easter morning creeping toward the living room to see what goodies might await them. I’ve listened for the sound of footsteps into the kitchen to ask for food or into the office to ask for help with homework. Probably the most prayerful waiting came at the stage of life when I waited for the sound of footsteps that carried teenagers safely into the house at curfew time. With each sound of footsteps there is emotion. Sometimes it’s excitement or anticipation, sometimes it’s joy and sometimes it’s flat-out sheer relief!
I read this verse in one of my morning prayer books last week and I’ve been pre-occupied with the sound of footsteps since then. I remember my mother-in-law (who is the mother of 10) talking about the distinct way each of her kids entered the house late at night. She could identify each of them without even being able to see who had just come home. I think our footsteps say a lot about us. Do we have an angry stomp or a lazy shuffle or are we so frazzled and rushed we nearly run everywhere we go? Sometimes we can even tell by the footsteps what a conversation is going to be like as a person approaches us.
I wonder what my footsteps sound like. I wonder what people expected to hear when they noticed my footsteps approaching. Do they expect good news or whining? Do they expect to be lifted up with something positive or drug down with something negative? I realize it’s a pretty silly little prayer but I found myself asking God to help me make sure my feet were the feet that brought good news! It’s been my challenge this week to make sure that if someone heard me coming they could expect to hear good news; God’s good news of love and compassion and truth.
A seed to plant: Listen to your footsteps. Make it your personal challenge to bring the Good News to three people in the next 24 hours. Ask God to put beauty in your footsteps each morning before your feet even hit the floor.
Blessings on your day!
Jesus said, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Mark 1:17
Growing up, Sunday was a great day. Mom and Dad made sure it was a day we slowed down. It was often the day we would take a drive and go visit my Grandmas or play games at the kitchen table. Winter Sundays were great but spring, summer and fall Sundays often involved a relaxing activity that I hated…fishing! Everyone in the family except me loved to go, so not wanting to spoil anyones fun, I never said anything but man I hated it when it was a fishing Sunday. To me, it was completely ant-social, totally uneventful and absolutely boring! You couldn’t talk or you’d scare the fish away, the hook began and ended with something wiggly and gross and if I actually ever sat still enough to catch something, the great prize was eating it. Since I don’t like fish, even the prize wasn’t a good deal. The only Sunday fishing trip I ever really enjoyed was the one where I convinced my mom that some boys at school told me Chocolate Chip Cookies were great fish bait. I told her that if I used those as bait, nobody would have to help me or listen to me complain about spearing a poor, little, slimy worm with a hook. It was a great day. I left my empty hook in the water all afternoon while I laid in the summer sun slowly nibbling on my two cookies and then announcing at the end of the afternoon that those boys had no idea what they were talking about! Any good fisherman will tell you, it’s all about the bait.
I love this verse from Mark’s gospel even if it does remind me of fishing Sundays. These words Jesus spoke two thousand years ago were not just meant for the disciples; they were for us in this place and this time as well. It’s one of those verses we read and think…oh no…he’s not talking to me! I’m not qualified to preach the Gospel or evangelize and lead others to the Lord. That’s for religiously smart, holy people who know lots of stuff about faith and the bible. If that’s what we’re thinking then we’re making a big mistake. Sharing the good news of Jesus’ love and mercy is a job that belongs to each of us. After all he’s done for us, he’s asking us to be willing to publicly “show him a little love!”
The most important part of this verse is the phrase “and I will make you”. Those five little words take all the pressure off of us. He's saying very clearly that he will give us what we need to do what he’s asking us to do. If we follow, he will arrange the situation and circumstances perfectly. He isn’t asking us to convert a continent or preach an eloquent sermon to thousands, he’s just asking us to take him with us wherever we go and share him with others. If you’ve ever asked someone to “put in a good word for you” then you understand what he’s asking. He’s asking us to make the introduction and he’s so amazing, he’ll even point out the folks he’d like us to introduce him to if we agree to follow and help him make a difference in peoples lives.
If we agree to let him make us fishers of men the best part is the bait! The bait he’s asking us to use as we “fish for men” is love. It isn’t knowledge or power or strength. We don’t have to buy any equipment or supplies, he’s given us everything we need to do this work. He has loved us abundantly and if we share that love with others, hearts will be changed, lives will be changed and the world will be changed. This is one fishing trip I can get excited about! The request is clear so pick up your pole, spend some time in prayer so you can load up on his love and then take that bait and tell a true fish story about the things you’ve seen him do when people grabbed onto the bait and let him change their life.
A Seed To Plant: Take this verse to prayer with you this week and ask the Father to show you where to take some of his famous bait!
Blessings on your day!
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