This I Know Wednesday: Jesus Loves Me

With school and sports and Bible study all kicking off over the last week, I’ve been contemplating the direction of this blog.  Doing series of posts has a certain appeal for me because it keeps me focused and accountable, but I also like having the flexibility of writing about whatever strikes me.  Hence I am pleased to report that I’ve struck a compromise with my inner factions: I plan to post consistently on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays.  Mondays will have a marriage focus, and I’ll explain more about that on this upcoming Marriage Monday, Wednesdays will be a more general This I Know, and Fridays will continue to be what they have long been, a fun way to capture moments from my very own Jackson Five.  So I hope you’ll click on over each Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The focus of my Bible study this year is the Gospel of John.  You may know that John had a very close relationship with Jesus.  He was the only one who stayed at the cross through the crucifixion, and he promised Jesus he would be the one to take care of his mother.  Of course,  I am most excited to study the person of Jesus –His undeniable claim to be God’s Son and His sinless life which we are called to emulate by the power of the Holy Spirit.  But I am also looking forward to having a greater appreciation for how John was able to become so close to Jesus.

And already I am being enriched by this study, both socially (such amazing women are a part of this group) and spiritually.  On Monday, while I was reading the first eleven chapters as part of an overview I was struck by the story of Jesus healing the man who was born blind (John 9).  The Pharisees were a little befuddled trying to explain away the miracle.  They interrogated the man, and then his parents, and then the newly-sighted man again.

And you can sense the man’s mounting frustration.  It’s almost as if he says, “guys, you are making this way too complicated, trying to get to the root of it all.  I can’t explain the mechanics, the physics or the why.  But this I know, I was blind and now I see.”

I was singing in the shower later that day.  Since I was home alone, I was belting out Jesus Loves Me like a rock star.  The song begins “Jesus loves me, this I know.”  This I know, just like the blind man.  It’s simple.  I can point you to God’s Word, I can tell you how God’s faithfulness has been proven in my life time and time again, I can tell you how Jesus is the answer to all my deepest questions, but if you want to know the mechanics, the physics or the why, then you are asking to understand Jesus without faith, and that, my friend, isn’t gonna happen.  Not today, not tomorrow, not in this lifetime.

If you want to know Jesus you have to have a tiny kernel of faith, but the Bible says that even a mustard seed is more than sufficient.  Jesus is pursuing you.  Do you have a speck of faith to listen, to answer the door where he is ever-faithful to knock?

I hope so.  I hope you too can sing your heart out in the shower, “Jesus Loves Me, THIS I KNOW!

Jackson Five Friday: “C’mon, People!”

A few summers ago I overheard my son, Sam, playing cars.  I think he was two at the time, and he was acting out a traffic jam — something a DC area child knows well.  At one point, one car yelled out, “C’mon, People!”  It was a funny nuance for a little guy to capture in play, but it also made me seriously consider the impatience that I obviously model in the car.  It was even worse that at the time we had been vacationing for almost two weeks in a place that has zero traffic and in which we spend very little time in the car.  It wasn’t like he was quoting me from that day, or even that week.  But these things sink in.  Sadly.

In fact, Sam had occasion to use “C’mon People!” again just a few days ago.  All summer I’ve been trying to get him to go off the diving boards at the pool.  He is a strong swimmer — he has no fear of being in the deep water, but somehow has been convinced that even the 1 meter board is “too high.”  We’ve offered bribes from ice cream to a trip to the Lego store.  He was just not doing it!

Until he was ready.  And it turns out he was ready last week.  He walked to the end of the board centimeter by centimeter, legs stiff with fear.  He stood at the end staring down, his tan little face, pale.  But then he jumped!  And when he came up he had the biggest  grin you’ve ever seen.  His beaming smile stayed there for the next thirty jumps, until finally we had to leave.

For the next few days he was obsessed with jumping off.  He tried a “flip” that was an utterly priceless and very audible flop.  He tried spinoramas and cannonballs.  Then Will and I were lying in chairs beside the pool, books open (well, he was reading, I’m not quite there yet.  I can read about six words before I feel the need to count, “one, two, three blond boys,” or at the very least eyeball Sam), and it was at that moment that we spotted Sam on the high dive!  He went off with timid legs the first time, but was running off fifteen minutes later.

Perhaps Sam realized he could’ve been doing this all summer and was trying to make up for it.  He was on a mission: jumping in, swimming over, climbing out, and back in line.  No stopping to chat, to eat, to drink.  The only thing that could stop him was the whistle for adult swim time.

But then Sam was behind my friend, “Mrs. Church.”  Yes, that’s her real name.  Mrs. Church is a great diver, her skinny limbs go straight in the water with no splash whatsoever.  Her diving wasn’t the issue.  It was her hair scrunchie.  She took the time to adjust it, when she was first in line, and Sam right behind her.

With her slight hesitation, Sam indignantly yelled out, “C’mon, People!”

Even though I got a very good laugh out of it — I am thinking this morning about how easy it is to discredit our ministry.  Obviously, we are all fallen, but it’s heartbreaking, and infuriating, when you witness someone who claims to be a follower of Jesus bring shame to His name.  I want my life to reflect Jesus.  I want to exude His love, His gentleness, His kindness, His mercy, His righteousness, His peace, His joy, and His patience.  Somehow “C’mon, People!” just doesn’t, does it?

Paul writes to the Corinthians, “put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.   Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;  in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;  in truthful speech and in the power of God” (2 Corinthians 6:3-7).

Praying this morning that when I stumble I’ll make it right, for His glory.  Yes, that added a few items to my to-do list this morning.  How about you, People?

Sunset Glory 2012

Each August I vacation on Lake Michigan and marvel at God’s creation.  I try to catch the sunset every single night, but sometimes I have to be sensitive that my family doesn’t quite share my affinity for sunsets.  Out of the thirteen nights we were there, four times I caved and didn’t mandate that our schedule conform to my obsession.

So many verses could apply to these pictures.  I’d love to hear what verse comes to mind for you in the comments section.  As for me, Romans 1:10 stands out: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

And also Psalm 148:13: “Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.”


That Don’t Befrund Me

 

Will, Nate and Me at the Concert

At the end of July I decided I’d go relatively unplugged for the month of August.  I didn’t look at Facebook nor my blog, and tried to stay out of the loop news-wise.  I intended to check email less, but this proved difficult with lots of email-dependent aspects to life – I had to use email to close on our house in Florida and determine the boys’ practice schedules and for lots of details in between.  And because of vacation and moving we had neither a working television nor the Internet for most of the month.  Of course, with a smart phone, not having Internet wasn’t very impactful.  Perhaps one day I’ll return from a truly unplugged vaca and be able to report back about the remarkable restoration of focus and peace.  Until then though, I’m excited to be writing and engaging with many I’ve missed.

Quite a lot has happened in the last month.  We moved out of one house, stored our belongings in PODS for three weeks, lived in a hotel for a few nights, then vacationed, closed on the sale of our house in Florida via the use of a notary in Michigan and Fed Ex, and then moved into our new place back in Virginia – which I have to say has more character and charm than anyplace I’ve ever lived.  The more we get settled, the more I love it.

And I have lots of things I’d like to share (and process more through writing about them), but perhaps this one thing illustrates, in a complete and yet summary way, what kind of month it has been.  The Jacksons have a new saying and it’s universal.  Certainly not a day, and sometimes not an hour, goes by when it does not apply in some way.  The saying:  That Don’t Befrund Me.

It’s beginning goes back to August 1st.  This was our first morning waking up in the hotel, and a family of five living in a regular-sized hotel room is less than ideal.  Certainly it is wise to spend as much time away from the room as is humanly possible.   Daddy Will was at work, and so after Will and Nate’s swim practice, I took the boys out to breakfast.  We sat down at the yummy Original Pancake House and all was well.  But then Sam started complaining that his tummy hurt.

I assured him that he was just hungry.

After his first bite of sausage Sam proved — in the most vivid way possible — that he was not just hungry.  I tried to salvage what was unscathed in to-go boxes, helped as much as I could to clean up, paid the bill, and we headed — Sam and me vomit-laden — back to our hotel.

An hour or two later Sam appeared to be healed.  Perfect.  Ready to Rock.  And Roll.  So that night we took him, and his brothers, to see George Thorogood.  We hadn’t been planning to take the boys along to the concert, but Will and I had tickets and the idea of having a babysitter in the hotel room, with a child who had vomited that day didn’t seem like a good plan either.  And so off we went, all five of us, to Wolf Trap.  Sam was even singing, “Who do you love?” as we found our place on the grass, and Thorogood ended up playing it!

That night was a mere foretaste though, because Thorogood became sort of the artist-of-the-month in the car, and we logged sufficient miles for the boys to memorize multiple songs.  Perhaps it’s not a bragging right that my boys know every word to “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” but that don’t befrund me, because that’s where our quote comes from.  If George adhered to the rules of English, he’d sing, “that doesn’t concern me.”  But George is anything but a conformist, so he sings the enigmatic “that don’t befrund me.”  (note: Urban dictionary has it as befund but it sounds more like befrund to us).  Anyway, you can see how listening to this statement, which appears multiple times in the song, has it’s way of working itself into your lexicon.

But aren’t inside jokes just a gift?  There is such a connection, a chemistry, a joy in making them.  Do we ever stop to think that our Creator gave us this ability, that it is an expression of His love for us?  That joy of laughing with your family or with your friends is life-giving, renewing.  It’s vital.   Job 8:21 is a reminder that it is God who fills our mouths with laughter and our lips with shouts of joy.

This morning I am thanking God for the many laughs I’ve had with my family in recent weeks.  I hope you can give thanks for many laughs too.