Solid Food

Our nine-month-old twins are happily receiving solid foods. They are over the moon with this new adventure. Beets, kale, bananas, apples, avocados and more are now part of their diet, pureed into delightful combinations and consumed with great joy. The little girl twin loves solids so much, she bangs her palms on the tray of her highchair and squeals loud enough to cause her more thoughtful brother to rest his head on his tray and cry. He likes the food, too, but the noise coming from the next highchair … well, not so much.

Parents remember making that switch with their babies to solid foods. It is a growth milestone that is anticipated by tired mothers who have been serving as the only source of sustenance until that point finally arrives. It is a happy moment for dads, partners, and grandparents who can now take a turn at feeding the babies. And the baby food industry is a thriving, multi-million dollar concern whose happy employers and stockholders are glad that they can produce a much-needed product to the world’s families.

But we aren’t meant to stay in that milestone, just as we aren’t meant to consume milk for the rest of our lives. These things belong to babies.

Paul likened the church in Corinth to babies who had to drink milk because they weren’t ready for solid food. In his analogy, he accused them of spiritual infancy based on their infighting and divisions in the fellowship. It was a severe chastisement, and he made it clear to them that he was ashamed of their behavior:

1 Corinthians 3 (Common English Bible)

3 Brothers and sisters, I couldn’t talk to you like spiritual people but like unspiritual people, like babies in Christ. I gave you milk to drink instead of solid food, because you weren’t up to it yet. Now you are still not up to it because you are still unspiritual. When jealousy and fighting exist between you, aren’t you unspiritual and living by human standards? 

The church had divided along the lines of following the men who introduced them to the faith. They then pitted themselves against each other. Jealousy and fighting were traits of those living solely in the flesh, and Paul had a higher goal for his church. They were anointed by the spirit, and he demanded that they act like it.

When someone says, “I belong to Paul,” and someone else says, “I belong to Apollos,” aren’t you acting like people without the Spirit? After all, what is Apollos? What is Paul? They are servants who helped you to believe. Each one had a role given to them by the Lord: I planted, Apollos watered, but God made it grow. 

Their allegiance to these ordinary men offended Paul. It was God who made the church grow. Paul questioned their motives and accused them of being without the spirit. Instead, he encourages them to be planters and waterers, working together to bring forth a crop worthy of God’s attention. He makes the point that their fighting over these insignificant men would have an insignificant outcome. God is the master gardener here.

Because of this, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but the only one who is anything is God who makes it grow.The one who plants and the one who waters work together, but each one will receive their own reward for their own labor. We are God’s coworkers, and you are God’s field, God’s building.

When churches fight within themselves, growth stops. When divisions happen, the field goes fallow and the planting and watering ceases. When we stop working together, we are acting like babies.

But there are things we can do to set aside our divisions and work toward a common goal of making disciples of Jesus Christ. The first step is to do that “one thing” that Jesus commended Mary for understanding … we need to sit at Jesus’ feet and take in all of his teaching. When we focus on the one thing we are called to do, our differences fade in the light of his glory. Centered in the unity and peace of Christ, we can arise and build the kingdom together.

Are you causing dissension in your field? Stop, sit, and feast on his word. By keeping the main thing the main thing, we can plant, water, and grow together as coworkers in the field. God will sort out the rest.

Plant. Water. Grow. by Becca Ziegler

Stay on Course

It takes a certain kind of insanity to run a Half Marathon eleven years after you ran your first “one-and-done” Half. It seemed like a good idea last summer. A run was being planned in a town where my daughter lives, and I had the idea that if I signed up, I would not slack off on running like I normally do in the colder months. The starting line was a five-minute walk from the house, and it started at 7:00 am, which meant I didn’t have to get up terribly early … something I absolutely hate. Everything about the race sounded appealing. Then my friend and running partner decided to join me at the last minute, making it even better. Did I set any records? Nope. Did I finish without puking (my one and only goal)? Happily, yes. Did I stay in better shape, knowing the race was coming up at the end of January? Yes, until I broke my arm three days before Christmas. But for the most part, I was satisfied with how it all came out and thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. Especially the finish line. And not puking.

God has established a finish line for each one of us. He invites us to stay on the course he has set before us and urges us to not deviate from it. His is a road that leads to redemption. His is a road that leads to salvation. His is a road that leads to a future with hope. And you’re never alone.

Psalm 119 (The Message)

1-8 You’re blessed when you stay on course,
    walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You’re blessed when you follow his directions,
    doing your best to find him.
That’s right—you don’t go off on your own;
    you walk straight along the road he set.

There have been many times in my life when I went off on my own. How about you? I regret every step that took me away from God’s will and God’s way. Thank God, Jesus came to help us get back on track through the atonement of sin and the forgiveness he purchased on the cross on our behalf.

You, God, prescribed the right way to live;
    now you expect us to live it.
Oh, that my steps might be steady,
    keeping to the course you set;
Then I’d never have any regrets
    in comparing my life with your counsel.

Do you have regrets about your past? Do you grieve over your sins? Do you carry the heaviness of your misbehavior? Jesus walks along side of you and is able to shoulder every burden you are carrying, if you are willing to submit and yield to his instruction.

I thank you for speaking straight from your heart;
    I learn the pattern of your righteous ways.
I’m going to do what you tell me to do;
    don’t ever walk off and leave me.

God will never, ever walk off and leave you. Just as my running partner joined me for the race, Jesus is ready, able, and willing to run with you and teach you the pattern of his ways. You are never alone when you invite Jesus to run the race with you.

Steady on!

See Nana Run by Sarah Haas Callahan

Choose Life

I have had a few days to spend time with grandkids, whose ages range from 9 months to 7 years old. As we were moving through those days, I kept hearing their mothers encouraging them to make good choices as they were being instructed and sometimes disciplined. I noticed a very strong correlation between having their full attention and their ability to choose the better way. When they were focused in, they did well. When they weren’t paying attention to the warnings, they often went the wrong way with their actions.

Looking around at all the adults I see, it seems we never grow out of that behavior!

Today, we will dip our toes into Moses’ river of thought and join him as he is reviewing the Covenant with the people of Israel. His words are stark and matter of fact. He gives them two choices:

Obey and be blessed.

Turn away and die.

Well, alrighty then! Any questions?

One would think that with the clarity of that message, the people would instantly do a face-palm and say, “Oh! Now I get it!’ But have you ever tried to follow God’s instructions precisely and to the letter? Or do you waver, wander, and fall away the minute you are distracted and tempted to follow your own way? We’re like the three-year-old who took the cookie anyway.

Deuteronomy 30 (Common English Bible)

15 Look here! Today I’ve set before you life and what’s good versus death and what’s wrong. 16 If you obey the Lord your God’s commandments that I’m commanding you right now by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments, his regulations, and his case laws, then you will live and thrive, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 

The nation of Israel was invited to live in the Promised Land. It was all laid out before them, in all of its milk-and-honey glory. God himself had carved a path through the wilderness, across the Red Sea, turning away their enemies and foes and creating a new life for them. There was only one more thing needed: they were required to walk in God’s ways and keep his commandments.

17 But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and so are misled, worshipping other gods and serving them, 18 I’m telling you right now that you will definitely die. You will not prolong your life on the fertile land that you are crossing the Jordan River to enter and possess. 

Failing to live up to their part of the Covenant would result in death. They were warned about turning their hearts away from God and refusing to listen. They were warned about worshipping other gods and serving them. Their lives would be cut short for their disobedience.

19 I call heaven and earth as my witnesses against you right now: I have set life and death, blessing and curse before you. Now choose life—so that you and your descendants will live— 20 by loving the Lord your God, by obeying his voice, and by clinging to him. That’s how you will survive and live long on the fertile land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors: to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Choose life.

Moses’ woes and warnings turn into the sweetest enticement: Choose Life! In everything, in every way, we are called to choose life.

What are you doing right now that is killing your joy? Are there habits, behaviors, or addictions that are leading you to death? Are you in a job, a situation, or a relationship that causes you to be misled and turn your heart away from God?

What god are you worshipping?

Christ died so that you might choose life. Forgiveness and the atonement of sin are the hallmarks of the New Covenant. We stand on the precipice of the Jordan and have the same choice to make: we can choose disobedience, or we can choose what is good.

Choose the good.

River Crossing by Michelle Robertson


Think of someone you know who is truly generous. Someone who gives of their time, their talent, and their treasures. Is that person happy? My guess is that they are. There is a couple in my church who seem to just give away all that they have whenever a need arises. They have opened their home to family members, volunteer untold hours of time, and quietly finance ministry and missions every week. And they are always smiling. There is a kind of sweet joy that just oozes from their pores and people are naturally drawn to them.

Generosity is a common theme in the Scriptures. Jesus mentions this quality often (see Matthew 5) and we see it here in our passage today. Note how the psalmist lifts up generosity as a worthy ideal and a path to happiness.

Psalm 112 (Common English Bible)

Praise the Lord!
    Those who honor the Lord,
    who adore God’s commandments, are truly happy!
Their descendants will be strong throughout the land.
    The offspring of those who do right will be blessed;
    wealth and riches will be in their houses.
    Their righteousness stands forever.
They shine in the dark for others who do right.
    They are merciful, compassionate, and righteous.
Those who lend generously are good people—
    as are those who conduct their affairs with justice.

Merciful, compassionate, righteous, generous, and good. These are the qualities of the people who adore God’s commandments. These are the qualities of those who are truly happy. These are the qualities of Christ.

Yes, these sorts of people will never be shaken;
    the righteous will be remembered forever!
They won’t be frightened at bad news.
    Their hearts are steady, trusting in the Lord.

Verse 7 is an interesting take: “they won’t be frightened at bad news.” I don’t know that I have ever spotted that before. The psalmist is reminding us that when we are grounded in the commandments and honor God, we don’t have to fear bad things. There is no promise that bad things won’t happen, but an assurance that bad things don’t have to be frightening when you are centered in God’s will.

Their hearts are firm; they aren’t afraid.
    In the end, they will witness their enemies’ defeat.
They give freely to those in need.
    Their righteousness stands forever.
    Their strength increases gloriously.

A great way to respond to our reading today is to go out and be overly generous to someone. Leave a big tip, bring in your neighbor’s trash cans, let someone pull out in front of you when you’re driving, or pay for someone’s order in the drive-through behind you. Where is God calling you to be generous? I bet if you are, you will put a smile on that person’s face. And yours.

Blessings by Michelle Robertson

Being Salty

Table Salt.

Kosher Salt.

Pink Himalayan salt.

Sea Salt.

Celtic Grey Sea Salt.

Fleur De Sel

Flake Salt

Red Hawaiian Salt

… and the list goes on.

Cooking resources identify as many as 12 different types of salt and explain that each one has a specific purpose and should be used accordingly. That puts a lot of pressure on us amateur cooks! Who has time to master 12 salts when you’re just trying to think of what to have for dinner every night? Not this girl.

Back in Jesus’ day, there was only one kind of salt: salt.

Everyone knows and loves the way that salt makes things taste. Imagine pretzels or fresh tomatoes without salt. With its ability to flavor bland foods, preserve meats and fish, and make a really good foot scrub, salt is the hero of any kitchen.

Jesus tapped into people’s love and appreciation for this wonderful commodity in the 5th chapter in Matthew when he pays us the highest compliment by calling us salt:

Matthew 5 (The Message)

Salt and Light

13 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

Jesus is a little salty with his opening salvo. “If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?” There is so much truth in that one little sentence. We all know people who claim to follow Christ, but you would never know it by their actions, words, deeds, and social media posts. People like that have lost their usefulness for the kingdom. Think about your own behavior. Are you bringing out the God-flavors of this earth or are you repelling people from a life of discipleship? Hate speech, anger, prejudice, name-calling, berating those who don’t think like you … none of this entices the non-believer to come to the table for a taste.

14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Once I was driving my car to church and got passed by a woman in a Lexus who “flipped me off” as she sped past me. I noticed the ichthus on the back of her trunk as she peeled into a church parking lot about three blocks before my church. I wonder how many people on the road would follow her to Jesus. Not me.

How many would follow you?

Completing God’s Law

17-18 “Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.

19-20 “Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.

Jesus states his mission clearly. He came to complete the Law and the Prophecy that speaks of God’s unconditional love for all people. We are invited to honor that Law, live right, be a shining example of generosity, open ourselves to others, and invite them to sit with us at Christ’s table, where the salt is freely flowing.

What kind of invitation are you making with your life? You are the salt and the light. Go flavor your life in such a way that Jesus shines through every moment.

Salt and Light by Michelle Robertson

My Eyes Have Seen

We live in a cynical world. Many of us are so used to news and information turning out to be false and misleading that we don’t believe anything anymore, and rightfully so. Media outlets who are more interested in pay-by-views than good, honest investigative journalism have conditioned us to react to things this way. Long gone are the days of reliable information. Instead, we have infotainment, vitriol, hate speech, and inflammatory language.

Where is Walter Cronkite when you need him?

Let’s join a man named Simeon who delivers the good news of what his eyes have seen:

Luke 2 (Common English Bible)

25 A man named Simeon was in Jerusalem. He was righteous and devout. He eagerly anticipated the restoration of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 The Holy Spirit revealed to him that he wouldn’t die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 Led by the Spirit, he went into the temple area. Meanwhile, Jesus’ parents brought the child to the temple so that they could do what was customary under the Law. 28 Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God. He said,

29 “Now, master, let your servant go in peace according to your word,
30  because my eyes have seen your salvation.
31 You prepared this salvation in the presence of all peoples.
32 It’s a light for revelation to the Gentiles
    and a glory for your people Israel.”

His eyes truly did see the Lord’s Christ, but in baby form. But the eyes of his soul saw the prophesied salvation, the light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory for Israel. Simeon saw and then told.

33 His father and mother were amazed by what was said about him.34 Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “This boy is assigned to be the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that generates opposition 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your innermost being too.”

This last sentence is so hard to read. I think of Mary, cradling her sweet baby boy at his dedication, and hearing that she will be pierced in her innermost being. It pierces me, too. We will talk more about Mary as we move toward Lent, but already we see her heart breaking.

So often women’s stories are overlooked in the Bible, but here we see that there was a “female correspondent” on the scene as well. Anna is an inspiration to us all, as she devoted her life to worship in the temple and praying night and day. She was able to be a reporter for the truth whose name was Jesus:

Anna’s response to Jesus

36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, who belonged to the tribe of Asher. She was very old. After she married, she lived with her husband for seven years. 37 She was now an 84-year-old widow. She never left the temple area but worshipped God with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 She approached at that very moment and began to praise God and to speak about Jesus to everyone who was looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Did you notice how much attention is paid to her age? Luke writes that “she was very old” and that “she was now an 84-year-old widow”. Hmmm, no mention of Simeon’s age … but we’ll move on. One of the better aspects of this passage is to see a woman in her golden years find a new calling as the one who delivers the news that everyone had been waiting for … the redemption of Jerusalem had been born. This reminds us that it’s never too late to start a new thing.

She went out and spoke to everyone.

Jesus as a child in Nazareth

39 When Mary and Joseph had completed everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to their hometown, Nazareth in Galilee. 40 The child grew up and became strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him.

Simeon and Anna saw with their eyes what we can only see with our heart. But the urgency to report the truth of his good news is just as powerful today. Do you know Jesus? Can you see his glory revealed in Scripture? Do you hear his stories repeated often in worship? Do you teach them to your children? Do you spend time in prayer and behold him there?

God calls us to deliver the good news of what we have seen with the eyes of our hearts. Go, and tell.

Morning Glory by Michelle Robertson

Blow Your Horn

What is it with trumpets this week in the lectionary?

If you read the last devotional, you might have picked up on two trumpet references. (Like a Trumpet.) In the Message version of today’s scripture, we see another invitation to “blow a trumpet for God.” As a former bassoonist, I protest. We never see our instruments elevated like this! Flutes, lyres, harps, drums, and trumpets get all the glory in the Bible. But you will never read, “David lifted his bassoon and soothed Saul with his music.” Nope, not gonna happen.


In today’s reading, Paul wrote to the church in Corinth and laid out an argument against the arrogance of the Jews and Greeks who were proclaiming that the crucifixion and resurrection were utter nonsense. He built the case that God chose humble, ordinary folks like them to reverse the ideas of wisdom and stupidity, miracles and anti-miracles, strength and weakness, etc., and invited them to celebrate their “nobody” status:

1 Corinthians 1 (The Message)

18-21 The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It’s written,

I’ll turn conventional wisdom on its head,
I’ll expose so-called experts as shams.

So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered stupid —preaching, of all things! —to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation.

“God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered stupid — preaching, of all things! — to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation.” Amen, brother. Speaking for myself, sometimes my preaching is truly stupid, and surely all of us, laity and clergy alike, sound stupid to the non-believer when we preach forgiveness of sins, salvation through Christ, and the resurrection we all share with the Son of God himself. Stupid, indeed.

Stupid-smart, as it turns out.

22-25 While Jews clamor for miraculous demonstrations and Greeks go in for philosophical wisdom, we go right on proclaiming Christ, the Crucified. Jews treat this like an anti-miracle—and Greeks pass it off as absurd. But to us who are personally called by God himself—both Jews and Greeks—Christ is God’s ultimate miracle and wisdom all wrapped up in one. Human wisdom is so cheap, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s “weakness.”

Paul is exactly right. Human wisdom is cheap and impotent next to the absurdity of the cross.

26-31 Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”?

This is when being a nobody is the greatest thing in the world. Do you ever feel like a nobody? Never mind. You truly are somebody to God.

That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”

Everything we have comes from God through Jesus Christ our Lord. And Christ gave us his everything. His heart, his mind, his teaching, his healing, his life on the cross, and the promise of life abundant. He didn’t withhold a thing. Neither should we. Now that is something to blow a trumpet about!

Or even a bassoon.

Horn Blowers by Michelle Robertson

Like a Trumpet

I came across an interesting detail in our lectionary passage today. Matthew 5:1 says that Jesus “opened his mouth and taught.” The Greek word for “opened” here is translated as more of a loud and earnest proclamation than a quiet teaching. The famous commentator William Barclay said this: “In Greek, the word for “opened” is used of a solemn, grave and dignified utterance. It was used, for instance, of the saying of an oracle. It is the natural preface to a most weighty saying.” Charles Spurgeon pushes it a little farther: “Jesus Christ spoke like a man in earnest; he enunciated clearly and spoke loudly. He lifted up his voice like a trumpet, and published salvation far and wide, like a man who had something to say which he desired his audience to hear and feel.” (Learn more here.)

I had a flashback to a time years ago when I was chaperoning my daughters’ band at a football game. The cheerleaders came out after the first quarter and threw little footballs printed with the school’s name into the stands. A few minutes later, I noticed a little boy from my church frantically waving at me as he made his way over to the band bleachers. “Pastor Betsy, they won’t throw me a football and I want a football. Make them throw me a football!” he cried.

I chuckled a little and wanted to explain to him that while I had some authority to speak in our church and be heard, I had no authority here as a band mom to do as he asked. So, I did the next best thing. I turned to the trumpet section behind me, many of whom had caught a football, and asked if anyone would share with the little boy. One immediately tossed his ball to my little friend, and all was well.

I just love band kids.

Jesus is surrounded by “the multitudes” in his outdoor, makeshift church, and he “opened His mouth” with authority and power, and proclaimed the secret to good living to all who would hear:

Matthew 5:1-12 (New King James Version)

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

If we were to internalize the Beatitudes, we might just find the key to a great life. We would find comfort, inheritance, fulfillment, mercy, peace, and the promise that we can participate in the kingdom of heaven. With these words, we are invited to see God and the kingdom on earth that he desires for us.

What is important enough in your life for you to use your voice like a trumpet to help others? Would you encourage those who are poor in spirit and who mourn? Would you demand that the arrogant shut up and be meek? Would you seek righteousness in your own walk and invite others to follow? Would you shout a word of peace over the rebellious?

May we encourage one another today with mouths wide open to be the merciful and pure in heart, for then will we see God. Rejoice and be glad!

Blessed by Michelle Robertson


Worries and Distractions

Do you ever get up in the middle of the night just to worry?

It’s 4:00 in the morning and my mind is not at rest. There is something about the “witching hour” that catches up with me more nights than I would like to mention. I get awake and start the video replay of all the things I have to do, all the things I wish I had said, all the things I regret saying (!), and a multitude of other non-sensical items dance through my head. Sometimes it can take up to an hour to fall back asleep.

Yesterday, I preached a sermon on Mary and Martha as part of our Epiphany series on “Seeing God through different things.” My emphasis was on seeing God through sitting at Jesus’ feet (Bible study) in order to arise and serve, as Mary does in this passage. I didn’t spend too much time on what was happening to Martha, so let’s take a moment to unpack that. Watch for the words distracted and worried:

Luke 10 (New Revised Standard Version)

38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him.[k] 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at Jesus’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her, then, to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things, 42 but few things are needed—indeed only one. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Last night I was blessed to lead the youth group in a study on this passage, so naturally I focused on distractions and worries. Their responses were very telling! Everyone was able to name their distractions, and number one among the responses was “my phone.”

Are you constantly distracted by your phone? Do you find yourself in a live conversation with someone and you keep glancing down at your text messages? I was grateful that they could name it, and then five minutes later had to ask two of them to put their phones down.

Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she was worried. Who could blame her? Wouldn’t you worry if Jesus was coming to your house for dinner? I mean, what do you serve the Son of God if he came to dinner? I told my congregation that I would immediately call the church’s Care Team and request a meal to be brought over, preferably Rendy’s famous Chicken Pot Pie with a lot of side dishes. I would proudly serve that to Jesus. He’s probably never eaten as well as the Methodists do at a potluck supper! Casseroles galore over here!

We went on to talk about things we worry about, and a very lovely High School Senior said, “Disappointing other people.” She told a story about how she cried at her Spanish oral exam because she could tell that the teacher, whom she adores, appeared to be let down at how she was doing. The sting of disappointing someone hurt her heart.

I can completely relate and might even add that the FEAR of disappointing someone is often a “negative motivator” for me when I have to get something done. What a terrible burden we carry when we feel that way!

What distracts you? What are you worried about?

Now that we’ve acknowledged that we are all Martha, let’s see what Mary did. Mary instantly put her distractions and tasks aside the minute Jesus walked into the house and sat at his feet to listen to his teaching. And there is the answer for us when anxiety overwhelms us. We need to set down the worries we are focusing on and sit at Jesus’ feet and listen.

So, the next time you are awake at 4:00, open your Bible and listen. Get down on your knees and pray but be sure to listen. Take out your journal and list your worries, and then look at them again while you listen to God as he swoops in and gathers them to his bosom.

In a world full of worries and distractions, be a Mary.

Listen to the Dawn Arise by Michelle Robertson

In the Day of Trouble

Once upon a time there was a ginormous pig who escaped her yard and went on an escapade all over Kitty Hawk Village. Over the hills, through the woods, and onto the very curvy road she went. She startled me as I came around a bend on my way to my office, and I saw a pickup truck going too fast that almost hit her. In his defense, nobody would have expected a 300+ pound pig to be smack in the middle of the road. I quickly parked at the police station and jumped out of my van. From there I proceeded on foot in what we cops call “hot pursuit.” She seemed intrigued by my efforts and slowed down as I followed her in and out of people’s yards,. To be honest, she wasn’t moving very fast. So, I started to call, “Suuuu-EEE! Suuuu-EEE.” I don’t even know what that means. I might have thrown a little “here Piggy, Piggy” in for good measure.

Surprisingly, this lovely gentle giant turned and sauntered over to me, so I walked her back to the police station, stopping traffic on the busy road as we crossed it. What else was I going to do with a lost pig?

I opened the door and called into the receptionist that I was here to report a rogue pig. She probably thought I had just come from the Black Pelican bar and had been over-served. But when the pig snorted loudly behind me, she came out for a look. This pig was obviously well loved at home because she nuzzled us like a dog and enjoyed a good ear rub. As you can see, she even posed for pictures. What a ham!

An officer came out and said, “Caroline, what are you doing here? Did you take yourself for a walk again?” It turns out that Caroline lives in the big yard behind the police station and he was able to walk her home.

Not to sound like a hero or anything, but I did save her bacon that day.

Do you know that God wants to save you, too? In the day of trouble, God will pursue you as you are wandering away from him. He won’t let you out of his sight until you come home safely into the house of the Lord:

Psalm 27 (New International Version)

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple

For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.

Are you running away? Are you feeling unsafe and untethered? No matter what the reason is, whether the situation you are facing is a result of your bad choices or your enemies pursuing you, God offers the safety of his tent:

Then my head will be exalted
    above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
    I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Caroline was wise enough to come when she heard the voice of her rescuer. I pray that in your day of trouble, you will seek God’s face and listen to his voice. He will come, and he will be merciful.

Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
    do not turn your servant away in anger;
    you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
    God my Savior.

God is your Savior, and you will be saved. Thanks be to God!

I told you she was big!