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For our last class, we combined Chapters 11 and 12 (Balancing Work & Worship and Having a Mary Heart) along with a lovely meal (thank you everyone for making it a “great” potluck).

teeter-totter11Joanna Weaver uses the teeter-totter as her image for balancing work and work. We talked a little about our own teeter-totters and how one side sometimes gets heavier and out of balance. From scripture, we looked at the Samaritan story (Luke 10:25-37) and reviewed Weaver’s 3 keys to the story that the Samaritan “took notice,” “took action,” and “took responsibility.” Each one of these are important as we live and work in the world (in the kitchen).

From the Jesus’ teaching on prayer in Luke 11:1-13, we are reminded of our developing relationship with the Lord (the living room part) and how we must remember that for each one of “our parts” (asking, seeking, knocking), God will play is part (receiving, revealing, and opening the door).

This really goes back full circle to our first class when we talked about being both Mary and Martha. Both of these women are within us and we must nourish them both! We must serve and we must pray. As James 2:14-17 says, that faith without works is dead.

One specific side to the “living room” worship is the Sabbath. We also talked about the importance of a Sabbath rest (see Isaiah 58:13-14) for it is in the Sabbath that we can be renewed. Sometimes, that may mean “not” doing as we please or “going our own way.” Although we all appreciate the importance of this rest, we all confessed how we have allowed our culture and habits rob us of this blessing.

And one specific way of being on the “kitchen” side of worship is hospitality. How often do we block this blessing by worrying about our homes not being neat enough or nice enough to have company. As we talked about it, we realized that we have all admitted in previous classes that none of us are “neat-freaks” … so why worry? 🙂

Joanna Weaver says,

“The secret of balancing worship and work, devotion & service, love of God and love of people is maintaining our connection to Jesus Christ. Our relationship with his is the fulcrum, the anchor, the steadying point that makes balance possible in the first place. The deepter the relationship goes, the more stable the balance will be.”

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How often do we do something for someone else and have our actions misinterpreted? Certainly, when Mary poured out the nard on Jesus’ feet and dried them with her hair, her actions were probably both misterpreted and scandalous. Of all people who was most “appalled,” it was Judas.

Interestingly, Joanna Weaver, does a broad comparison of these two, Judas and Mary. Where Mary had a “heart of gratitude,” Judas had a heart of greed. Where Mary came to Jesus with abandonment, Judas came with a personal agenda. Where Mary heard and understood Jesus, Judas only heard what he wanted to hear. Where Mary held nothing back, Judas gave nothing up. We discussed where we have been on this continuum.

mary_washingAnother point of interest to me was that Jesus was the one to defend Mary’s actions. She said nothing. It was Jesus who commended her and Jesus who declared she would be remembered through the ages and her story would be told. I find this important because we must remember that it is the Lord who stands between us and those who misunderstand us. If we “witness” to another and we are rejected, we must allow the cross to stand between us and them. When we do some action like cleaning up our husband’s tools or our children’s rooms and they rant at us for doing it incorrectly, let Jesus stand between their harsh words, their disapproval, their vindictiveness and our hearts.

I also reminded everyone that the action that Mary did, the breaking of the vessel of nard was a one-time act. Nard was very valuable and often kept for a person’s burial rites. This particular type of vessel of nard could only be used by breaking it… one couldn’t just use a little and save the rest for later. It’s an “all or nothing” proposition. Mary’s gesture was an outward expression of her total surrender to her Lord.

What would sacrificial actions look like in our world? Mary did “what she could do.” What about us? This question nagged us I think and was not one easily answered. I am trusting that the Lord will keep this question in the back of our minds over the weeks and months to come.

Unlike Weaver, I do not find Judas’ actions to be motivated primarily by greed. In my opinion, he was an outsider from the beginning. Judas was educated and probably from a family of some wealth. I don’t believe he was comfortable with the poor. Also, he had a personal agenda: he actually believed Jesus was the Messiah… but for him, that meant Jesus would be the anointed King who would overthrow the oppressive Romans and establish a new “kingdom” in Israel. I believe Judas was motivated by a desire for fame and power. This desire overwhelmed his ability to hear Jesus’s true message. I believe Judas betrayed Jesus in an effort to “move things along.” I’m not sure he envisioned a crucifixion … instead, I believe he thought Jesus would “react” and overthrow them all with one great wave of power.

Lastly, we discussed Barclay’s quote, “Temptation comes through that for which wa are naturally fitted.” Just as Judas’ was naturally fitted to be tempted by power, we are also tempted in our own areas of weakness or secret desires. This is also a topic for personal reflection and prayer.

We ended the class with my own “outward expression” of Christ’s love by the washing of everyone’s feet. It was my honor to do it and I pray each woman there experienced the depth of the Lord’s love for each one of them.

Next week’s lesson will be in my home and we will be combining the last two chapters together.

This week’s lesson is definitely a call to all Martha/Marys! Take heed and listen to your heart!

We started with a fascinating trek through memory lane as we discussed who we were as teens and pre-teens in school. Were we high achievers, party girls, or “absent-though-present? The fascinating part was the discovery of how many of those teen characteristics have followed us into adulthood.

Then we discussed our “teachable” role models. Some of the key concepts out of that discussion were enthusiasm, open-mindedness, humility, receptiveness, curiousity, listener, and risk-taker as descriptors of someone with a teachable heart. When we took our own “teachable” questionnaire, we all came out with good scores, mid-range to high which is an encouragement … we are all on the path to being and growing a teachable heart and spirit.

Joanna Weaver speaks of three elements to a truly teachable heart:

  • Being willing to listen
  • Acting on what we hear
  • Responding to discipline

So, I had to ask, “How DOES God speak to you?” Most of the group’s focus was on that “Wow” factor that seems to pierce within; another example was the repetition of a particular idea, phrase, or picture in various ways or places; or, just a sense of His presence as we’re quietly praying or journaling. It was then that I added a kind of speaking that none of the group had heard of called “dark speech” which is a way for God to speak to us symbolically. I told the story of being at the Elijah House Ministries some years ago for counseling training and how a Coke can burst open when it dropped out of a soda machine and how the instructor showed me the possible “message” from such an unexpected or out of the ordinary event. The group was a little uncomfortable with the term “dark speech” but I reminded them of that well known scripture from I Cor 13 about “seeing through a glass darkly” … it’s the same idea.

We then discussed the second and third elements of a teachable heart, that is obedience and subsequently discipline if obedience is not forthcoming. We talked about Oswald Chambers’ insightful passage (October 10th) that identifies how powerful obedience is. If we truly hear God’s voice, in whatever way we do, then it is critical to respond. And, once we do respond, the next step will be revealed immediately. In other words, we see and hear more of God as a result of one obedience! Chambers added, “God will never reveal more truth about himself until you have obeyed what you know already.” I believe we sometimes spend too much looking for something new, moving from church to church, conference to conference, when, in reality we haven’t responded to the truths He has already given.

Horse and rider in harmonyJill gave us a beautiful word picture of obedience. She is a horsewoman and tells of the incredible power there is in working with a horse, particularly once the horse has grasped the relationship with the rider/master. Instead of having to use a crop or any other kind of harsh discipline, once the horse and rider are in sympathetic communication, the horse can respond to the smallest of leading maneuvers (even just a change in pressure from the rider’s hips) to know what to do. Jill called these moments a true dance! All I could imagine was how beautiful it would be to “dance” with Jesus through this kind of communication and obedience. How wonderful it would be to respond to His slightest suggestion in my heart or spirit. This would be the ultimiate “living room” intimacy for me.

Additional scriptures we read and discussed were Hebrews 12:5-11, Joshua 1:8, John 8:31-32, James 1:25, and Psalm 51:10-12. In particular the Psalm passage is one of pure hope for if God could forgive David in his sins with Bathsheba, then surely, God can still use us and transform us!