If you invite Jesus to dinner will He show up??

 

“You can have your religious tradition, but COUNT ME OUT!”

My jaw hit the floor! What do I do?  What do I say?  DO I SAY?

Tradition? Religious?

For a first generation evangelical Christian, those words had been subtly burned into me as taboo.

“Its not about RELIGION! Its about RELATIONSHIP” we tell everyone.
To me, the words stir up a taste of everything empty, cold and legalistic.

Now, here they were coming out of the mouth of someone I respected and loved.
Someone who, too, loved God.

But  he’s sitting across from me firmly refusing to have any part of in mealtime grace.
How in the world do you not say a blessing over your meal?
My mind was reeling. How do I respond. Can I argue his attitude?

Apparently not, because after I gathered  my indignant and offended self together, I did what I usually did.
I quietly sulked away.

Maybe it was God, keeping my mouth shut.
I would like to think so.
I’m sure at the moment anything that would have fell out would have been the WRONG THING! But, my oh my, how I would have love to have had the right THING.

Over the next few days, my mind rehearsed the conversation with a quick and brilliant rebuttal that would leave him speechless and, of course, humbly repentant.
I would have explained, very nicely, of course, that I could certainly understand how one could see dinner prayers and blessings as religious.

After all, I use to think that too.

And of course, how tradition in itself is not a bad thing.

Certainly, I would agree, that cute little poems and songs sung over your meal, really means nothing if your heart is not sincere.
By all means, I could see where he was coming from.

But noooo, not my family! Not anymore.  We were much more evolved!

I would straighten my back, look him right in the eyes, and tell him that I have stood, humiliated, in line for too many food hampers to be ungrateful.
I have cried myself to sleep too many times, partitioning God for our “daily bread” for my babies to not give thanks.

Maybe I would even recite, Psalm 37:25
”I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread”
If that didn’t make his jaw quiver, I would remind him how God has brought me out of years of eating disorders, and how overwhelmed I am that I no longer look at my plate as an enemy.

Yes sir, I  planned it all out.

If I could do it all over again, I would have hit him with the good stuff.

Now, don’t get me wrong. All of it is good. All of it was sincere from the bottom of my heart.

Gathering around the table with the family, holding hands (yes, we even hold hands) and giving thanks is a beautiful thing.

Jesus gave thanks when He broke bread and that’s good enough for me.

It is one of those moments when we as a family we are focused, even for a minute, in the same direction.
Jesus said that when 2 or more are gathered in His name He shows up (Matt 18:20)
So, YES!! Lets open our mouths and give thanks, if we are thankful.

My muddle was not so much identifying my thoughts on this difference of opinion.
It was , first, how do I handle my original response of offense, and second, how do I respond to a dear brother in the Lord, who obviously sees things differently.

Truth be told,  it could have been another thing that nailed the proverbial coffin on our friendship. (we have a lot of different opinions)

I could have thrown my arms up in the air, said “to hell” with the friendship and walked away, one final time.

But I thank God, first for keeping my mouth shut and,  second, for the keys in BLESS.
The keys in BLESS come very quickly to me, at times. I have been walking it out for years.

But there are other times, like this, when I have to sit down and choose to make myself remember what I know to do.

Yes, I confess, I still have a very carnal side to me, that loves to rear its ugly head.
I’m working on it, but its still there.
(don’t be so hard on me, now, you have a nasty carnal side too!)

The real test is this… What do I do with that side of me when its rearing??
That’s where BLESS comes in.
When I sit alone that night, sit quietly before my Jesus, and put myself to the side, I walk through the keys in BLESS.
My heart can quickly change and respond to this man.

I know there is more for him.
I know God wants him thankful.
I know God has done so much for him to be thankful for.

But I also know there is something inside him that has that bound up.
Setting him free is not my job.
Loving him with the love of God is my job.

BLESS helped me do that.

I remember that he is my Father’s precious son, His pride and joy, and I walk thru each letter of BLESS in my heart until I can enjoy that brother for who he is, as he is right now.
Unconditional.

The rest will be up to God.
I do know this… this man will be set free.
This man will know what it’s like to sit at the table and have a tidal wave of thanks take over him.

Yes, Jesus will come to dinner that day.
It would be an honour to be there.

But for tonight, I am thankful that I walked out my test and didn’t let my mouth, my self righteousness, and pride get in the way and do more damage.

Lets really learn to love them as they are.

Lets meet them where they are and see them as He sees them.

Then we will be the ones being BLESSed.

Excerpts from CHAPTER 1

Excerpts from CHAPTER 1

There is a moment in John 21 when Jesus looked Peter in the eyes,
and asked him several times “Peter, do you love me?”
There has been many a moment when Jesus, has sat me down,
looked at me with those same big beautiful eyes and asked,
probably in a similar tone, “Joanne, do you believe me?”

Just like Peter, I would respond,
most likely with the same over confident tone… “Of course LORD!!!”
As with Peter, He’d graciously ask a second time,
looking more intently into me…”Joanne, do you believe me?”
Like Peter, I’d reply a second time,” course Lord,”

Oh how those words have haunted my soul so often.
It’s a question that I wonder if I can truly answer.
Do I?
Do I really believe Him?

Finally, like Peter, I answer, confidence fleeting, as the words cross my lips,
“Lord you know all things… you know I do”


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There are days, most days perhaps,
when the bombardment will be relentless.
Satan, the enemy, whose purpose is to kill steal and destroy, the Father of all lies,
will be sitting on your shoulder, shouting in your ear.
Don’t believe THAT. Don’t trust HIM!

More than anything Satan wants to disillusion your opinion of God’s word.
Satan’s biggest lie yet, to the world, is that God did not mean what He said,
and that God will not do what He said.

The only weapon he has against us is the lie and the strategy of deception.
We defeat lies with Truth.

There will be many; many moments when you own intellect
will give you an endless list of legitimate reasons.
Logic, and understanding, yours and of course others, will try to negate your faith.
Your eyes will see only this physical world.
There will be times when everything will rise up against that faith,
everything in your flesh will scream and writhe.
Your mind will reject it.
You will think of every reason that it is not possible.
“Not this time, Lord. Certainly, not for me…”

 

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The truth was, I could not take my eyes off of myself and place them on other people.
I needed to know that I was going to be ok.
Call it primal instinct, primitive self-preservation.
Whatever it was, I was guilty as charged.

My thoughts and motives, as shameful as it is to say, were all about me and mine.
I was so preoccupied with me and my world that no one else’s existed.
I tried just pushing it to the side.

I knew my attitude was wrong, but it just overwhelmed me,
my stuff was always foremost in my mind.
As hard as I tried, it would just weasel its way back into the front of my thinking.

To be able to look beyond myself, so I could see all the others in front of me.
I needed some solid guarantees.

To be free of this, I needed to know that there were answers to my worries and prayer.
And that my “stuff’ was going to be “just fine”.

If I had that, maybe, I could rest my poor fretting self.


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