Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dress for the Job You Want

A mentor of mine used to tell me, "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have." I was a college student at the time, and would often just blow off this statement.  I would think, "but I'm not there yet, what is the point." I didn't really understand what she was trying to say to me.

Now that I'm in Divinity School, working toward a M.Div. degree, I'm starting to see the wisdom of her words.  Every semester we have a special chapel service at school to commission the new students as they begin their theological education.  It is a lovely service and definitely a time to wear your "Sunday best."  This year in particular it was special because we celebrated the 15th anniversary of the divinity school with an elegant and special lunch.  I went out and bought a new suit for the occasion.

 After lunch, however, I had just enough of a break to go home and change before my next class, so I took advantage of the opportunity.  When I arrived back on campus a little while later, in my black capris and my mickey mouse t-shirt, I felt suddenly completely out of place.  Most of my classmates had not had opportunity to change, and were still in their chapel clothes. Sitting there, the words of that wise mentor came back to me.  "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have."

As I was preparing to head for the church where I am currently working as an intern for part of my requirements, those words came back to me again.  I was prepared to lead in a women's ministry meeting, with a short Bible study and even a hand out with some things to be discussed.  I knew, as an intern, and the youngest woman at the table, and especially in the very relaxed setting of this church, that I could easily have gone in the casual outfit I was wearing, but I didn't.  I changed into the suit that I'd worn to chapel the day before, and I think it paid off.  The ladies noticed right away, and I think I gained a new level of respect, even as the youngest woman in the room.

In reflecting on this lesson learned for me, I could not help but think about the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 13:11-14.  In this passage Paul reminds us that we are to live as if we are already in "the day." He's talking about living as if we are already walking in the day of Christ's return, when He will establish His Kingdom with us.  He says to put off the darkness, and put on the light.  In essence, when Paul says, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh" (Rom. 13:14), he is really saying, "Dress for the job you want in the Kingdom, not for the temporary position you hold on this earth." What job do you want in the Kingdom?  Are you dressed properly for the One who has the power to grant that job to notice you?

Friday, September 2, 2011


As a child, I dreaded Vacation Bible School. I would always go for at least a couple of days at my grandmother's church and I always thought it was so boring.  There were no cool songs to sing, no decorations or theme, there were snacks I supposed, but not very creative ones, and the only crafts I remember making were homemade bookmarks.  We would spend forever in the sanctuary memorizing long passages of scripture and, to be honest, the only thing that I really can quote to this day from those Bible schools is this:

I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God's Holy Word, I will make it a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path, and I will hide its word in my heart that I might not sin against God.

These are wonderful words, and I know that some of them are taken from Scripture, but they are not exactly words that changed my heart and made me excited about Jesus.  In fact, I don't even remember having the Gospel presented to me at those Bible Schools, at least not in a way that I could understand.

It is amazing how much VBS has changed since then. Over this summer, my three children went to FIVE different Vacation Bible Schools, three of them with different themes, and all very different from the ones I grew up with.  Each church made every effort to transform the sanctuary and Bible study classrooms.  There are awesome songs that teach the Biblical truths and Scripture verses. The snacks and crafts are amazingly creative, and the games are a lot of fun. Most importantly, the VBS curriculums today teach leaders how to present the Gospel to children in age appropriate terms. Unlike when I was a child, these kids want to come.  They look forward every year to seeing what the next year's theme will be and they leave singing the songs and telling the Bible stories.  They are excited about Jesus.

What are your fondest VBS memories?  Are there any songs or Bible stories that you remember specifically? Maybe you accepted Christ as Savior because of VBS, or maybe you were like me, bored to tears and wishing you could be anywhere else on those beautiful summer days.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Reflections on Luke 10:38-42

When I was a teenager, my pastor initiated a new program in our church. It involved holding in-home, small group Bible studies. Of course, my parents were among the first to volunteer to host a study in our home, and, on Friday nights, three couples, each with a teenage daughter, gathered in our living room. This sent my mom into a frenzy of activity. She would clean and shop for a full day, always looking for a new recipe to try, then she would serve as hostess for the two or three hours they were there. After they left, she immediately started doing dishes and straitening up. Everything had to be just right for her guests. Imagine what it would have been like if the guest had been Jesus himself.

Martha didn't have to imagine. In Luke 10, Jesus and his disciple were the guests she was to entertain at her home in Bethany.  I imagine her running around, much like my mother when I was younger.  She made sure everything was spotless, the food looked as good as it smelled, and no one ever went with an empty cup. Maybe she caught a word, here or there, of Jesus' teaching and pondered it as she was doing dishes or preparing the meal, but perhaps her distractions were so great that she didn't even take the time to process the little nuggets of truth.  It was, after all, her duty as a woman to serve.

Mary took a different approach to Jesus' visit.  She sat, listening to his teachings.  I imagine her hanging on every word he said, letting them sink in to her heart and her mind.  Women were not supposed to learn in this way.  Most rabbis would have condemned her and sent her away to serve alongside her sister.  She was sitting as a disciple, among the disciples.

Martha, overwhelmed by all the work to be done, expected Jesus to follow the cultural norms and insist Mary do her duty.  After all, wasn't it important work to minister to the needs of one's guests? Later on Paul will even call this kind of service a spiritual gift ans some will even be set aside as "deacons" or literally servants.

Jesus' response to her is interesting.  He doesn't tell her not to serve at all, but he tells her only one thing is necessary.  He knew it was important to her to be helpful, bu he also did not need her to work herself into a frenzy.  Mary had chosen the better task, to spend time listening, letting his words abide within her.

As women, many of us find ourselves like Martha. We need to keep in mind the same thing Jesus tried to teach her.  We should not neglect serving those who Christ brings to us, but we also do not need to work ourselves to death. The most valuable thing we can do, for ourselves and for those God placed in our lives is to bring them to the feet of Jesus.  We need to learn with them there how to be more like him in every aspect of our lives.