True Faithfulness

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)

Think about it: when we are deeply hurt by someone – when we have been wronged or slandered or lied to or robbed or cheated… – what is our natural reaction?  Anger?  Vengeance?  At the very least perhaps we want to distance ourselves, no longer associating with them.

Whenever we sin, it is a mark of our faithlessness to God.  That may sound harsh but, remember, we all sin and fall short of God’s glory.  Sin can make faithfulness tough for we humans.

But God is faithful, always.

Even when we are not.

He loves us deeply because He is love.  He is faithful because that is part of God’s character.

Not only is God faithful despite our failings, He actually provides us a way out when we’re tempted.  

Do you think our sin surprises God?  He knows all.  And, in His loving faithfulness, He made a way of salvation for all of us through the shed blood of His Son Jesus.

Great is thy faithfulness!  He never changes.  He gives a fresh start each new day.  Sing His praise with joy and thanksgiving!  He will never leave you nor forsake.  He said so.  And He is lovingly, eternally faithful.  His Word is stronger than any promise you will ever receive on earth.

People will let you down.  But love never fails.  And God is love!

Hope at -11F

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. – Romans 15:13 (ESV)

The sun is rising a little earlier and staying with us a little longer each day.

Major League Baseball Spring Training is underway.

Spring is only 25 days away.  And while 3-1/2 weeks may seem like a long time – especially on a Monday morning when it is eleven below zero outside – that means we are 72% of the way through winter.

Spring will come.  It always does.  The flowers will bloom, the trees will leaf, the grass will grow and green.  The winter doldrums will pass, the snow will melt away.  The warmth of the sun will return.

Life passes in seasons.  This is true meteorologically.  This is true personally.

Nothing lasts forever.

Storms come and go.  Sometimes they dump a foot of snow that has to be shoveled away.  But the sun always comes back.  The sun melts the snow away and warms the frigid air.  The same wind that blows the storm in takes it out as well.

Life is never hopeless.

Hope is rooted in faith, and as long as our faith is rooted in Jesus, we have every reason to hope.  The answer we seek may not be before our eyes right now.  The need may still exist.  The problem may be there awhile.

But do not lose heart.  Seek the Lord first.  Know that there is a reason for what you are going through.  It may be painful.  You may feel as if you are at the end of your rope.  But, remember: nothing – nothing – is impossible with God.  There will be a day when you can see the blessing in the hardship.  Joy will burn away the pain.  The sorrow will ease, the winter will brighten.

Never let go of hope in Christ.  As Paul wrote (in Romans 12:12), “Rejoice in hope…”, because you do have hope no matter what you are facing when your trust is in Jesus Christ.  “Be patient in tribulation…”, knowing He is with you and is not going to allow your suffering to be in vain.  “Be constant in prayer”, keeping Him first and foremost in your heart and mind, seeking His peace and joy and strength, resting in the Lord and His might and goodness.

The sun will rise a little earlier today than it did yesterday, and stay with us a little longer.  We gain more sunshine each and every day.  Nothing lasts forever, except God and heaven and all of His promises and love.


Lord God, I crave more of You in my life. I want more of You.

I love You, Lord. Not nearly as much as I should.

I want You to move in my life.

I need You to move in my life.

Jesus, please remove the log from my eyes that I may see clearly.

Father, let my thoughts, my words, my actions, be yours,

Please remove any barriers that keep me from You, Lord.

Remove the selfishness.

Remove the doubt.

Remove the temptation.

Remove the fears.

Remove the feelings of inadequacy.

Be thou my vision.

Be my strength.

Be my Guide.

I need you, Lord.

Thank you that you are with me always.

Thank you that you are greater than anything I face.

Thank you that your grace is sufficient for me.

Father, I crave more of You, and less of me.

Father, I seek You first.

You are great, and greatly to be praised!

Thank You for your greatness.

Thank You for your patience.

Thank You for your mercy, your love, your grace.

Thank You that you love me so… far more than I can imagine.

I want to know You more.

I want to love You more.

I am the clay, Father, and You are the Potter.

I crave the experience of You, Lord.

Jesus my Savior, my strength, my Lord… I love You.

Help me please, for I cannot do it without You. And I know I never have to.

Thank You for your promise, Your guidance…

Thank You, Lord.

Thank You.

Let me never be satisfied by anything less than You, my God and my King.




The Courtney family are feeling the four walls beginning to close in, so we have escaped the quiet of our home for some time at Caribou Coffee. So it seems only apropos to do some blogging (seeing that this is the Bouville Diarist), while my wife works on her headache-inducing math homework and my son alleviates his boredom with a few rousing rounds of Mancala on Dad’s cell phone.

And it is amazing what a change of scenery can do for a person.

Even Jesus needed a change of scene at times, stepping away from the disciples to spend quiet time alone with His Father. It is refreshing to step away from the stress and familiarity of the same old scene and let the synapses snap as they experience some new walls, new sounds, different sights…

Engage with people.

Observe the world around you.

Take it all in… the sights and sounds and smells and feel of the variety of God’s creation. God has blessed us by allowing us to enjoy His creation, in all its beauty and wonder and diversity.

Maybe it’s the caffeine talking. But, right now, the ideas are starting the flow. Sitting in the comfort of my office earlier today, I felt very uninspired. Bored. Blah.

I read somewhere that one should never write when bored. Boy ain’t that the truth! It just wasn’t happening today.

But now… ministry thoughts are flowing. Writing ideas are flying. I am feeling energized, inspired… border line excited even!

So now it’s time to do some real planning. Real writing. And be real excited about it all!

All praise to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior! Have a blessed week and be a blessing!

Measure Twice, Buy Once, Pray First

We are in need of creative storage options in my home.  We live in a small townhouse and, if you have (or have had) a small home, you understand where I’m coming from.  I have even taken to scouring Pinterest for space and organizing ideas.  (Yes, men, I have a Pinterest account.  Go ahead and laugh it up…)

Yesterday I was at a local big department store and found a fantastic deal on a set of bookshelves.  Just what I need for my office!  The idea being to put the bookcase in the office closet to store some items that currently have to shuffle through old copier paper boxes to get to.

Great idea, right?

One problem.  The bookcase is too big.  Too tall by about three inches.  I didn’t bother to measure the available space before making my purchase.  I bought the bookcase on an impulse.  Twenty-two dollars was a great price.

Now, having bought and lugged this very heavy thing upstairs, I will most likely have to box it back up, lug it back downstairs and into the van and, in the sub-zero wind chill, lug it back into the local big department store and return it.  All because I didn’t measure.

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5, ESV).  I can see that.  Because of one less-than-thought-out impulse, my wallet is $22 lighter, and my office about 40 useless pounds heavier.

If we use theological terms to look at this situation, my Calvinist friends might tell me that God predestined that I would buy that bookcase.  And they might well be right.  And my Arminian friends would assure me that I’m just a careless moron who bought an oversized bookcase by his own freewill.  And they might be right.

Being firmly Calminian in my views, I can clearly see both sides.

The simple truth is this: I bought a bookcase.  A too-big, heavy bookcase.  I did not seek the Lord first in the situation.  Had I done so – had I stopped for just a moment to count the cost and seek His guidance – perhaps I wouldn’t be staring at the pile of shelving and cardboard littering my already cramped office.

I did not exercise wisdom.  Plain and simple.  And this is a very minor situation (extremely minor), so perhaps it is a good time to learn a little something from it before I make a big, impactful impulse decision that causes more than minor irritation and inconvenience.

1.: Count the cost.  Don’t go off half-cocked and end up shooting yourself in the foot.  We are called to seek first the kingdom of God, and part of that is seeking out His wisdom.  Had I done so, perhaps the Lord would have said, “Maybe you should measure the closet first, before you lug that thing out of the store, into the van, out of the van, into the house and up the stairs, and crack the box open.”  Make sure what you are doing fits first.  (Take that literally or metaphorically.)

2.: Maybe what you think is the answer isn’t really the answer.  I have certainly been wrong before.  In fact, if I could get rich off being wrong, I’d never have to go to work again.  In this case, perhaps the answer isn’t more shelving, but less stuff.  Simplify.  Clear out the clutter.  Reduce the management load.  Bless others who can use what you merely store.  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21, ESV).  (Again, equally applicable literally or metaphorically.)

3.: Don’t use theology to reign in God.  Maybe God did predestine that I would buy this bookcase.  Perhaps I have a neighbor or friend who needs it and this is His way of getting it to them.  Maybe God wants me to learn something from this experience.  (After all, all of life is a series of learning experiences.)  Or, maybe this is nothing more than an exercise of freewill and I am a foolish, impulsive oaf.  Either way, the end result is a win/win, because “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, ESV).  God works His will, even in our failings and goof-ups.

4.: Had I dug a little deeper on Pinterest, I probably would have found a way to create a storage solution with used pop bottles and ribbon, thus removing the (impulsively perceived) need to buy the bookcase in the first place.

The Positive Double Negative

5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” – Hebrews 13:5-6 (ESV)

It is easy to underestimate God.  Often it isn’t His ability that we question as much as His willingness.  “Yes, I know God can do anything.  Nothing is impossible for Him.  But will He help me in my situation?”

God is a God of promises. His Word is filled with them.  And He has never welched on any promise, never broken any covenant.  God is Truth and, as such, He fulfills His every promise.

One of His great promises is to ever present with His children.  Indeed, each believer has the Holy Spirit dwelling inside him/herself.  He is our Counselor, our Comforter.  The Lord is, truly and literally, always with us.

The phrase “I will never leave you nor forsake you” is beautiful in its promise.  The word “never” is translated from two Greek words (οὐ μή) which together form a double negative. In other words, the writer of Hebrews is emphasizing the fact that God will never ever leave us.  He will always be with us.

When God says “nor forsake you”, the word “nor” is another double-negative in the original Greek.  And “forsake” (ἐγκαταλείπω) means to abandon or desert.  Put it all together and we see that God will never ever leave us; there is absolutely no way He will leave us behind.  After all, He is the Good Shepherd Who leaves the flock to find one lost sheep.

Therefore, what have we to fear?  The Infinite Creator God is on our side.  Who shall we be afraid of?  Who is bigger than God?  Money and possessions may bring a certain amount of power and comfort, but they are chaff compared to the strength and might of the Lord.

Paul perhaps said it best:

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:31-39 (ESV)

Rest easy.  God knows what you are facing.  The trials may be fierce, the situation painful.

But not hopeless.  Never hopeless.

You have your Heavenly Father on your side.

You have Jesus interceding on your behalf.

You have the Holy Spirit living within you.

You have God’s grace, which is sufficient for all your needs.

You have God’s love, and you always will.

Nothing can separate you from God’s love.

Wait patiently on the Lord.  He knows what He is doing.  Trust in Him, even when it makes no logical sense.  Rest faithfully in His goodness and strength.  Pray.  Sing praises.  Rejoice!

Will God help you?  Chances are He already is!

Humbled by Grace

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)

Grace – the wondrous gift of unmerited favor from God – is, quite sadly, a theologically divisive subject.  People argue and debate about “cheap” grace and “free” grace and grace for this but not for that… It is as if so many want to deconstruct grace and use the materials to reconstruct a grace-built box in which to contain God Himself.

Perhaps the problem is that grace is such an unnatural state for we sinful humans.  Grace itself is an unearned – and unearnable – gift from our Eternal Heavenly Father.  If we could earn it, it would no longer be a gift.  It is by grace (through faith) that we are saved.  It is by grace that the painful things serve not to destroy us, but draw God’s children closer to Him.  It is by grace we are sustained.  It is by grace we are strengthened.

And all of us need God’s grace.




The problem comes when we try to discern who should be the recipient of God’s grace.  As if one person or group’s sins is any greater or more insidious than our own.  The minute we say, “These people are not welcome in our community because they are __________________” (fill in the blank with any sin), then we fail to extend God’s grace.  We fail to reach out in love.  We do not recognize the truth of their – or, more importantly, our own – situation because of the blindness caused by the log lodged in our own eye.

It seems to me more than a little hypocritical to feel so certain of our own salvation, the gift of grace extended to us that washes away the otherwise permanent stain of sin, while denying – or at least placing prerequisites upon – others whose sins seem so hideous to us.  Are we so good?  Are we so pure?  Would any of us have given a second thought to dining with Jesus, considering the prostitutes and societal outcasts He chose to be with?  Jesus never said, “Deal with your sin, then we’ll talk.”  He said, “Come to me, all who are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Our problem is universal: pride.  It is pride in our own imagined purity that causes us to look at someone else and level the charge of “sinner” upon them.  If that idea is offensive to you, perhaps now would be a good time to stop and reconsider some things.

When we judge another – especially when we excuse our judgment under the false pretense of discernment – we are choosing to be proud.  We forget from whence we came.  We fail to see the excremental unworthiness of our own pasts.  We place ourselves on some level above them.  But, remember this: we have no idea what someone has been through.  No idea of the hardships and pain that have led people – each of us included – to make some unwise life choices.  As we drive along our life’s path, each of us goes off into the ditch at some point.  To judge another is to abandon them in the ditch – the polar opposite action of the Good Shepherd Who leaves His flock to go find the one sheep who went astray.

None of us deserves God’s grace.  And yet:

…he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. 11  Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? – James 4:6-12 (ESV)

Sin is truly the great equalizer.  We have all fallen far short of the glory of God.  And we could all use a healthy dose of humility and, God willing, His grace.

The Situation is Not What it Seems

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18  as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)

Imagine yourself in 33AD Jerusalem, on a hill just outside the city walls.  Before you are three men being executed by crucifixion.  The men on the left and right are known criminals.  You would expect to see them.

But the man hanging from the center cross grabs your attention.  Everybody knows who this man is: Jesus of Nazareth.  What did he ever do to deserve this cruel fate?  Who did he hurt?  You have heard of his good deeds: blind men receiving sight, the lame regaining the ability to walk, illnesses healed, hungry masses fed, Lazarus risen from his grave… The only “crime” this man committed was boldly standing up against the Jewish leaders and speaking truth.

Yet, here he is.  Stripped naked, bloodied and beaten to a pulp, scourged and bleeding, weakened and thirsty.  Roman soldiers sit at his feet – not to hear his teaching, but to gamble for his clothing.  You hear Jesus, through his agony, ask His Father to forgive these men, because they are ignorant of their actions.  Further proof, to your mind, that this man is innocent and undeserving of this humiliating, inhumane end to his life.

Where is the fairness?  Where is the glory?  Didn’t this man claim to be the Son of God, the Messiah?  Look at him now.

If you were standing there on Golgotha that fateful Friday afternoon, or had been in the courtyard earlier and witnessed Simon Peter’s denial of any connection to this condemned man, you may well have come to the conclusion that this man was a charlatan, or just plain crazy.  If you had been one of his followers, your faith was most likely shaken (at the very least).

Today, we have the advantage of hindsight.  We know how this story ends, and the glory that came on the third day.  But, in the moment – in the midst of the horror of the crucifixion – all one could see was what appeared to be an ignoble end to great and miraculous promise.

When we are in the middle of a storm, all we tend to see is the maelstrom swirling around us.  Overwhelming feelings of fear and doubt sweep over us when we stare at the problem.  But, even in what appears to be the darkest defeat, there is hope.

Today you may be facing a hardship that seems insurmountable, a loss inconsolable.  You may feel cheated or victimized.  You may be facing a pain indescribable.  You may not be able to see a way out of your situation.

Today, I want you to know that you are not hopeless.  You are not helpless.  You are not alone.  Today – right now – I want you to look away from the storm.  Fix your gaze on Jesus.  Place your hope in Him, the One Who faced the horrors of Good Friday to bring about the death-defying glory of Easter morning.  Remember Peter, who stepped out of the boat on the choppy, storm churned sea to walk to Jesus.  Peter walked on water as long as his focus was on Christ.  As soon as he turned his eyes toward the storm, he began to drown.

And Jesus saved him.

Today, you can choose to be bitter.  You can decide to cry out, “Unfair.”  You can despair over your lot in life and feel despondent or angry or just want to give up.  We all have the choice to stew in our misery, if we so desire.  And, in the moment, that may actually feel good.  But, in the end, what does all that ick bring us?

Or we can choose faith.  Choose to forgive. Choose to be brave.  Choose to be confident in our Savior.  Choose to let peaceful joy and love reign in our lives.  Choose to see our situation as a life change, one that is not a loss, not a failure, but one that will ultimately be a blessing.  Choose to see how each of us can help others through what we – and they – are facing.

God can take any circumstance and turn it to His glory.  This moment will pass.  The sorrow will not last forever.  The hard time will lift.  Keep focused on God.  I truly believe that God never closes one door without opening another.  We just need to focus on Him with open eyes of faith.

Remember: we cannot see whole of our situations in life.  All we see is the limited information we have before us.  Do not assume the bad news is bad.  Do not accept defeat. Do not despair.  The situation is rarely – if ever – quite what it seems.

Anxious Pariah

14  Let all that you do be done in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:14 (ESV)

Please consider this a plea to you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, on behalf of we, your fellow believers – fellow parts of the body of Christ – who do not have it all together (so to speak).

Even if we appear that we do.

If you have never dealt with anxiety and depression, you cannot possibly have a firm understanding of how it feels to be in the midst of such hurt.  And it makes facing people with depression daunting and uncomfortable.  What does one say?  How should one act?

I want to help you understand.  You need to understand.   And I will tell you why.  According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, around 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety disorders.  That’s 1 in 18 people in the USA age 18 and over.  Statistically, if you attend a church of 200 people, 36 of your brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering from anxiety (statistically speaking).

So, I ask you, please… if you love those of us who suffer from anxiety and depression as much as you say (and, trust me, I truly believe you do… I wouldn’t write this if I didn’t…), take a few minutes and read this and try to understand.

1. We are not pariahs

Dealing with anxious and depressed thoughts and feelings will make a person feel very isolated.  Even in a crowd.  These feelings are only intensified when we feel shunned.  Please don’t let not knowing what to say or how to act stop you from interacting with someone who is dealing with very complex (like anxiety and depression).

2. You do not have to know all the right words to say

Just love us.  Hugs work wonders.  Even letting us cry on your shoulder (sometimes figuratively, others literally) can be very cathartic.  Listen.  Love.

3.  This is not necessarily the effect of some secret sin…

There are a lot of factors that contribute to anxiety and depression.  Sin is one of them.  However, there are also physiological contributors (such as one’s brain being unable to produce the proper amounts of serotonin or dopamine).  A huge contributor is stress: major life changes, overwork, troubles in life… Do not be so quick to play the “sin” card.  Judge not, friends…

4. Do NOT tell us to “get over it”

Nobody who deals with anxiety and/or depression enjoys it.  It is no fun.  In fact, it can be downright agonizing.  Personally, my low point was a hellish bout of fear that terrorized me for nearly a month.  I couldn’t sleep.  I was so exhausted I couldn’t think straight.  I had fits of anxiety that felt like lightning bolts surging through my body.  If overcoming anxiety and depression was as simple as simply bucking up and getting over it, I would have done it.  So would anyone else who can relate to what I’m writing.Again, just love.  If you can’t understand, that’s all right.  Just be there.  Just love.

5. Don’t give us grief about counseling and antidepressants

It has been said so many times before, but it is so true that I have to say it again.  You would not condemn a cancer patient for taking chemotherapy.  God created the medical profession for our benefit.  Just because we have a medicine that helps right our serotonin production and makes us feel and function better does not mean it is any less the work of God.  And as for counseling… we put too much on the plates of our pastors.  They are spiritual counselors, not mental health workers.  Sometimes the source and strength of one’s anxiety and depression is outside of our pastor’s wheel house.  We often expect too much from these already overloaded men of God.

I could go on, but I think I have hit the high points.  The main point I feel the need to stress is love.  Love one another. Understand this if nothing else.  If you don’t know what to say or how to act, just let love lead.  Say nothing more than “I love you brother / sister.  I’m here.”    Be supportive.  Be loving.  Be normal.

Just love.  With all that agape entails.  Don’t try to make things all right.  Just love.

Perfecting Martha

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosenthe good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)

God bless you Martha Stewart.  You have shown thousands – if not millions – of Americans how to host the perfect gathering for any and every occasion.  The right table settings, the right decorations, the right ambience, the right food… everything prepared to glorious perfection!  The apéritifs must be stunning (swirls of canned cheese heaped on crackers and celery won’t do for Martha, no matter how beautiful the layers).  The meal must be memorable, leaving a lasting impression on all who are invited to the soirée.

The gorgeous feast causes an audible gasp of delight (as well as plenty of “oohs” and “ahhs”) from the appreciative and hungry guests.  (Not too hungry, mind you.  The hors d’oeuvres should serve to curb any hunger pangs while whetting the appetite for the meal to come).

The Biblical Martha was, in some ways, like Martha Stewart (except for the whole insider trading prison sentence business).  Well… in one way.  The Biblical Martha was a perfectionist.  She had guests to feed.  She had Jesus in her home!  And everything had to be just right.

The napkins weren’t going to fold themselves.  The hand-rolled croissants still needed baking.  The beef bourguignon was in danger of overcooking and the quiche was going to fall if it wasn’t served soon.  (Boy, I really have overdone this French cooking theme, haven’t I?)

And where is her sister Mary?  She is sitting at the feet of the guest of honor, reveling in His company, soaking in His words.  Can you picture the scene?  Martha stomps into the room, hands on hips, hair disheveled, apron askew and flour-coated, face contorted with stress.  “I am in the kitchen, slaving away, and here you are, having a grand time!   Do you think the Tarte Normande is going to bake itself?  Come help me!  Jesus, tell her to get in here and give me a hand!”

Now picture Jesus, a slight smile on His face, calmly telling Martha that her serving is wonderful, a good thing, but something more important than food – no matter how fine the delicacy – is being served here tonight.

If you struggle with perfectionism, believing everything has to be just right or it will all be ruined, relax.  Don’t get stressed.  Don’t be anxious.  At the end of the evening, the meal will be devoured.  The bouillabaisse gone, the bowl that once contained the coq au vin now holding a mere carrot slice lying in a thin scrim of broth on the bottom.  The once perfectly folded linen napkins will be a stained crumpled mess.  All that is left will be a wonderful memory.  And the washing up.

It is far better to focus on real substance, and that is found at the feet of Jesus.  Put your focus on Him.  Not on being stunning.  Not on being perfect.  The real blessing comes from the presence of the Lord, not from the accoutrements that decorate the evening.

You don’t have to be perfect.  You don’t have to appear perfect.  Be authentic.  Relax.  All you have to do is love.  And put God first in all things.

Canned cheese squirted atop crackers on a paper plate will do just fine. Call it fromage dans une boîte sur un craquelin if you must.