Extravagance. I have been thinking about this word a lot lately. What does extravagance mean to you? What comes to mind when you think of extravagance? The dictionary defines extravagance as "lack of restraint in spending money or use of resources." Lack of restraint…
I don't have restraint in many areas. Lack of restraint in how much chocolate I eat or how much t.v. I watch. Is that the same thing as the extravagance we talk about when discussing God's extravagant grace?
The Bible tells us many times that God freely gives us grace and extravagant grace. God's grace is lavished on us. This past weekend at the Women's Retreat, we discussed some of Jesus' miracles. He was feeding the 5000, turning water into wine, and raising Lazarus from the dead. What Jesus did is extravagant. Twelve leftover baskets of food, 180 gallons of wine, waiting until Lazarus was dead. As I began to reflect on this weekend, I began to remember more miracles and how those show extravagances as well. Catching so many fish that the nets broke, calming a storm with His voice. Why did Jesus have to offer such extravagance?
I don't know about you, but I get so wrapped up in my world sometimes that I often don't see what is going on all around me. I am beginning to wonder if Jesus using such extravagance was to show a point, or get people's attention. So many times the disciples would question Jesus. Maybe during these miracles, He was extravagant to show that He was the only One who could make those things happen.
God doesn't just give us grace but extravagantly gives us grace. So much grace that we don't know what to do. We continue to sin and fall short and mess up. We continue to turn our eyes from Him. God still lavishes us with His grace through all His wisdom and understanding.
Christian Education Coordinator
This past Sunday I thoroughly enjoyed and was moved by our children’s participation in the worship service. From one of our older elementary kids praying to our kids mimicking the hand motions during communion, it was a blessing to see them be part of leading the worship of Jesus. I was kept on my toes with their questions as well! I was blown away by their questions and the depth of insight that they led us into in our conversation. I’ll have to say, Stephanie Dunn, our Christian Education Coordinator had a great idea when she suggested this sermon of Q & A. Over and over again throughout the service, I heard Jesus’ words in Matthew, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these (Matthew 19:14),” in my head during the service.
In Jesus’ days, children were barely noticed. At times they were just considered property. And yet, Jesus opens the door for them to have a place of honor and privilege to sit at His feet. I imagine they were disruptive. Afterall some of the disciples tried to shoo them away. And, I imagine, they didn’t understand what was “proper” or “right.” Yet, what Jesus saw in them was the potential to know God and love God. He saw in them a hunger for knowledge, love, and community.
I witnessed the same on Sunday. I was captivated by the eye contact each child had as they asked questions, and I answered as part of the sermon. Many never diverted their attention from a word that was coming from my mouth. I saw a hunger in their eyes to hear words about God, to learn, and to be listened to. It was awe inspiring.
Jesus’ words have reverberated in my mind throughout the rest of this week. “Let the little children come unto me...” I’ve been thinking that a child may not just be one who is a certain age, but could be any person just entering into the life of faith. Jesus came to the hungry, the vulnerable, the sinful, the weary, and said, “You have a place.” As I’ve let those words sit with me, I’ve wondered what children have I prevented from coming to Jesus? Whether it’s my attitude, assumptions, selfishness, or more, I know at times I’ve not allowed some of God’s children (whether aged 3 or 33) to enter into His presence. I have to be a spiritual adult which means having the same mind as Christ Jesus. I have to be willing to imagine once again what it’s like to see a spiritual child walk into church for the first time or join us online for the first time. I have to realize there is a great hunger of God in those who’ve yet to step foot or just have stepped foot in our congregational life that may need feeding. Such may require me to move to the side and let them sit at Jesus’ feet. It may require hearing Jesus’ rebuke to not hinder them or require me to help them find Jesus. All this means the bearing of a cross to move my desires out of the way so that another’s spiritual need can be met.
This week I find myself grateful for the lesson our kids have taught me. Let the children come and may we assist in whatever way we can to help them find the joy we have uncovered in Jesus Christ.
When I leave home and do not take my trusted companion, Cooper, with me, this is what I return to. He patiently waits by the front door until I return and then greets me only as a loving pet can. Wagging his tail and wanting me to spend time scratching his neck or just touching him. I am amazed how he can sit for hours just waiting on my return. Waiting on his master.
You see, I find this patient waiting as something we all need to learn. I am not a patient person. I am a give me the ball and watch what happens personality. It is so hard to wait, it even seems impossible sometimes. Many of us make plans, we set goals, and we put a time frame for each item on our list and expect each thing to result in a positive outcome. Unfortunately, that’s not always how things turn out.
The honest truth is that when we create our goals and our lists, a lot of times we are leaving out the most important factor - and that factor is God, our Master. When we leave God out of our goals and lists, honestly, they may go nowhere. There are never any guarantees that it’s all going to work out the way we envision it.
It is important to note that God does not work according to OUR schedules or OUR lists; He works according to HIS timing and HIS will for us. When we fail to remember this fact, disappointment can set in, which ultimately can lead to anger and resentment; sometimes aimed towards God, and this is not a good place to be.
The Bible is full of scriptures about the importance of waiting on God. In fact, many of these scriptures even tell us what the result will be if we wait on Him. Isaiah 40:31 tells us exactly what the result of waiting on God is: “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
I want to point out something important…..as human beings, we see things only from our perspectives, but God sees everything from His perspective which is perfect because God is perfect. He knows exactly what is best for us and in fact, He has laid out everything for us already.
Think about it, if God already knows what’s best for us, then why is it so important for us to control every single thing in our lives? Why can’t we just let go and let God do what He does best? Luke 12:7 says “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” God knows every hair on our head, so how could He not know what is best for us?
So, to answer the question “should we really wait on God?” Yes…we should! We should all try being a Cooper instead of being a timeline driven person. Waiting on our Master may just change your life.
I cannot believe that the first day of Autumn (Fall) has arrived. Fall – to lose the old, to have its proper place. This is just part of the many definitions of what the dictionary says “fall” is. What is crazy is that the dictionary is talking about fall like ‘I fell down’, not fall like ‘the season’ and yet how appropriate the definition is.
I love Fall!! The color change, the weather change, the smell change…..its all about change. But to change means that something must go.
As I sit here looking out the window with massive trees all around my back yard, I visualize what will be happening in less than a month. Leaves falling. What was once trees deep in rich green, then trees with vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow, will soon become trees that will be empty. Nothing left but the branches. I guess our human side finds that sad, and we wish the color stayed. We think the only thing that makes the trees beautiful is the colorful leaves …why does it have to be so bare? But, that’s a sign of what is to come.
But for every beginning there is an end and for every ending there is a new beginning. What I find amazing is that those trees still stand. Those branches still reach out and upward. Not like my plants in the front of my house that have to be cut back and will re-grow from their roots next Spring. Those trees still stand. There is beauty in the strength of those branches.
This is a picture of what Jesus does in our lives. We go through all kinds of seasons. Some are seasons of hard times, some loneliness, seasons of loss or other things such as financial hardships. And those seasons change us. We have seasons that are bright and beautiful and rich in life. Then we have seasons God allows things in our life to enter so we don’t remain the same. But through all those seasons, He is telling us to let go and let Me. Let go and let Me show you what I can do. Let go and let Me show you what I can teach you… There is strength in your branches with Me. We have to let go, and grow a new perspective.
Is 43:18-19 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold I am doing a new thing: now it springs forth, do not perceive it? It will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the dessert.”
Welcoming the change of Christ,
Be Guinn, Youth Director
Our Great Granddaughter, Jaylee, spent the night last Saturday night. While football is not her thing, it was explained that the Arkansas/Texas football game would be the only action for all our Saturday evening. Close to the end of the game, Jaylee told Carolyn that she was getting tired, so Carolyn took Jaylee to the bedroom and laid down with her. They turned the TV on in the bedroom to finish the game. As most who watched the game saw, at the conclusion of the game, the fans swarmed the field in celebration with the football players. What a glorious sight to behold for most of us in our State.
On the way to Church Sunday morning, I asked Jaylee if she saw the crowds of people jump over the rail and swarm the field after the game. I further went on to explain that the fans wanted to win this game so much that they wanted to be with the players to celebrate the victory when we won. But when they jumped the rail to get close, they also broke the law. I then told her that the Arkansas football program would have to pay a hefty price for the people swarming onto the field. Jaylee looked puzzled and then questioned “why didn’t the people have to pay?” I tried to explain that the people should but wouldn’t be held accountable. While the football program shouldn’t have to pay because the people messed up, they would be fined and must pay anyway. She then told me, “Well that’s not fair, the people should pay.”
I told her that this is the way it is with God. Even though people mess up, God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to pay if we come to Him. John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but would have ever lasting life.
Even with this her thoughts were “The people should pay”. I cannot disagree with her totally but am grateful that is not the promise that God gave each of us when He gave us Jesus. Now the truly great question remains. With such a gift, why can’t we all get so excited about the victory of winning God’s big game, that each Sunday we jump the rails to get closer to Him?
Lay Servant JFUMC