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Young Lafe My father had the same first name as his father (Lafe). He was the oldest son in a family of seven kids. He grew up in the middle of his two older sisters, which provided hilarious stories of sibling pranks galore. He arrived on the scene of Lusk High School as a 6’2” junior from Rock Springs where many girls made their play for him. However, it was the freshman 5’2” Anita Jean who caught his eye.

Grandpa Lafe was on the draft board, so “junior” enlisted in the U.S Navy on his eighteenth birthday so there would be no recriminations toward his dad. After his two-year stint in the Navy, he returned to the University of Wyoming, but it wasn’t long until Lafe, Sr. called, asking if he would consider returning home and joining Culver & Sons, a Willys Jeep dealership and auto parts store. His books thudded to the floor as he shouted, “yes!” into the phone. Besides, he wanted to be close to Anita before someone else snatched her up. (My dad was a relentless romantic, writing poems and relishing any chance to celebrate Mama’s birthday, Valentine’s Day and almost 67 anniversaries.)

Dad’s interest in photography began to grow when he discovered Wyoming’s Wind River Range in 1949, hiking 14 miles in to Ross Lake. An avid outdoors-man, dad kept our home amply supplied with trout, deer, and antelope and elk meat. One day, when I was four, my mother asked if she could fix a nice beef pot roast. She was ‘sick and tired’ of wild meat. My response for her efforts? “What’s wrong with this meat? It tastes funny.” To this day, I would like to have a chance to prepare our version of hunter’s stew made with elk steak.

Our lives changed dramatically when my parents became Christians. I was only four years old, but I remember the night they were both baptized. A neighbor stayed with me and my parents came home with wet hair and ecstatic happiness. A year later, when Dad was 25, he made the decision to leave Culver & Sons in Lusk to enter a small Bible College in Iowa and become a preacher. He fought his calling – he was “not a desk man” after all! One of his favorite stories was telling what I said when he asked me what I thought. I said, “Daddy, if you don’t go, who will tell people about Jesus?” Dad was an excellent mechanic and he supported himself through college working under hoods and car bodies. The smell of oil and gasoline bring those memories into sharp focus.

Dad started preaching in a small rural Iowa church, twenty miles from school. Though he had been in school for less than six months, he discovered as a natural storyteller, L+A+C '58gradcomposing sermons and making spiritual applications from his beloved Wyoming and Navy days came easily. He ministered in several Iowa churches. He loved working for several weeks each summer in youth camps. He was sought after as an evangelist for revivals all over the United States to hold two-to-four week meetings in the summer.

He developed “nature talks” to tell wherever he went, including presenting those talks at an annual nationwide camp, where hundreds of young people hung on every word. Our three children also benefited from his sermons and nature stories at this same camp. They loved his punch line: “And I wonder how many thousands of years did it take for the (whatever animal, fish or bird) to figure that out!” Countless “young” people have said, “Brother Lafe was my favorite preacher.” Many considered my dad, their dad. I didn’t mind sharing him – most of the time – because I was there when he decided to go into the ministry.

He ministered for 53 years, not only as a preacher, but also as a Bible College professor for 22 years. At age 80 he had no other choice but to retire from being a paid staff member because his health was declining. After much trial and error he eventually received the diagnosis of vascular Parkinson’s disease. This once very active man now stutter stepped as he walked. He took it in stride, but the family was constantly freaked out he would fall. I was caught off guard by the grief that weighed me down upon his official retirement. My husband and our children could see the handwriting on the wall. Mom seemed to be in denial. I tried to adopt a “Grieve as You Go Plan” for the journey ahead.

The next seven years brought a steady decline in Dad’s ability to get around, but his perseverance and “I’m coping” approach was steadfast. Three years after his retirement, his hip broke. He had less lower back pain after his hip replacement! Even though dad was officially retired, that didn’t stop him from leading a home Bible study group and talking to folks about his Lord.

While Daddy was coping with physical challenges, my husband and I were coping with yet another layoff. We ended up moving six times in a twelve-year period and that is not includingE&C w:dad 11-13 two work apartments. Our most recent move brought us back to the east county Portland area on Christmas Eve of 2013. We had hoped for another 4-6 months with dad, but he “moved onto Heaven” just one month later.

I thought that my “Grieve As You Go Plan” would naturally subside. But that was not to be. The summer after we moved out of our short-term stay apartment into our house and unpacked all the boxes from storage, I sobbed while putting away books in “Daddy’s Bookcase.” This was the bookcase he built when he was going to Bible College. The bookcase served him well. And it has served us well for over 15 years. It represents so much of his view of life: building a simple bookcase out of pine, but with great attention to details like a indestructible backing, rounded corners on the top, complete with wood plugs and a mahogany stain.

As I unpacked each treasure he had given me over the years, such as an antique Hall Aladdin teapot for my Hall brand of teapots collection, an antique floor lamp he restored for me and a large Japanese glass float which he passed on to me I wept with each discovery.

My dad was not only my father figure, but my mentor as well. Here is what I consider the top ten things Daddy taught me.

#10)

Breakfast is the best meal of the day. As our family traveled across the country, we often slept in the Rambler station wagon and ate out of a cooler, but Dad always tried to make sure we had a hot breakfast. His love of a good breakfast outing continued until the very last weeks of his life.

#9)

There is a song for every occasion. There are songs for serenading loved ones, songs for getting up, songs for work, songs for play, songs for the road, songs of joy, songs of sadness. If he didn’t have a song for the occasion, he made one up or adapted some existing song.

One of my earliest memories is tagging along while dad sang in a gospel quartet. First, it was a funeral in Lusk and during Bible college years he regularly sang in a quartet.

#8)

Making memories is more important than the money required to make them. Dad loved commemorating small moments or large events with pictures, stories and side trips. One morning we woke up in the back of the Rambler wagon facing Jenny Lake in the Tetons. We got up, washed our faces and had – you guessed it – breakfast in Jenny Lake Lodge. After our first trip to Florida for a meeting we traveled back through New Orleans. Dad decided we should try the world famous Antoine’s Restaurant in the French Quarter for dinner. This was unheard of on our limited budget. Mom and I were also very concerned about our travel-weary and disheveled look. Not dad. He marched in to the restaurant and asked if we could have dinner there even though we weren’t dressed up! As a teenager, I was torn between the beautiful restaurant with its huge buffet of seafood with more shrimp an Iowa girl had ever seen, and the embarrassment of my wrinkled blouse and culottes.

#7)

There is a way to develop a spiritual application about almost anything and a fun way to teach it. My first memory verse was learned marching in rhythm around the kitchen table. By age six, I was required to remember the points of every sermon dad (or anyone else) preached and recount them later at home. To this day, I can develop a three-point lesson on any scripture or life experience.

#6)

Don’t take yourself too seriously. At one family reunion we were asked to write down answers to four questions then see if the family could guess whose sheet it was, solely based on the answers. The last question was, “What was your most embarrassing moment?” No one had any trouble identifying Dad’s answer: “I’ve never had one!” (He had no problem with others being embarrassed!)

I was privileged to share an office with my father for two years when he was on staff at a Portland, Oregon church. I was leading Women’s Ministries and preparing our quarterly magazine and other graphic design tasks. We had an associate pastor who was in charge of “40 Days of Purpose” and taking his leadership position very seriously. Each of us had a task and had an accounting to give at our weekly meetings. When Dad was asked if he had done his weekly task, Dad replied: “Forgive me, Reverend Mother, for I have sinned!” The associate was annoyed. Dad loved it, as did everyone else at the table.

#5)

Don’t be easily offended. An Iowa farmer told dad: “I was going to throw these potatoes to the hogs and then I thought of you!”

#4)

Attitude is key in character development. Dad could not abide self-centered behavior or pouting, moodiness or a “don’t care” attitude. At youth camps and retreats he was known for hollering “Attitude Check!” at any time. The response he expected? “Praise the Lord!”

#3

Perseverance isn’t just a character trait to talk about. In 1994, as our group rode out on Ross Lake’s steepest switch back trail, dad’s horse fell. In the fall down the embankment, dad broke his right ankle, a very severe break. What did he do? First, he rode another horse out the remaining twelve miles. When he couldn’t have surgery in Cheyenne due to the swelling, he drove (left-footed, by himself) to York, Nebraska. He stayed overnight in a handicapped room in a recliner and drove the next day to Des Moines to the Veterans hospital where they did surgery and inserted a steel pin in his ankle! What did he do after surgery? He immediately drove himself home ninety miles to Ottumwa. His perseverance manifested itself throughout his battle with Parkinson’s until he could no longer stand.

#2)

Showing deep feeling and emotion is okay. I can’t ever remember him apologizing in a sermon or class for tearing up or for his voice being choked with emotion. Dad was always passionate when he was trying to get a point across. In the words of Victor Knowles, “He came down hard as a hammer on sin but light as a feather on those who received God’s grace. One minute you were shaking in your boots, the next minute sobbing with relief, and then laughing with joy.”

And the #1 thing my dad taught me is…

Without faith in God, life has no real meaning or hope. He would say: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. If you feel God is far away, He’s not the one who has moved!” Dad was wonder-struck by God, as evidenced by his love of the outdoors and creation. He often recounted the incidents in his life where he felt the clear touch of God. In spite of disappointments, illness, challenges or sorrows, God was his Everything!

Thank you, Daddy, for these lessons and so many more!

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Like many others, my memories of Bill begin at Kamp Keomah in Iowa. Kamp Keomah is a cherished memory of a simpler and more innocent time. Children nine and under had one class each day and were allowed to run and play. If we could get away with it, we would climb the one mulberry tree on the grounds. Tell-tale berry stains gave us away. We forged friendships early on with other “Kampers” and especially the other preacher’s kids. We were blessed with many connections which continue to this day. It is the place where some of us first got to know our future husband or wife.

When I consider the effort required to stage a Kamp for those two weeks in early June, it is mind boggling! With only a small main lodge that had a kitchen and two bathrooms, we slept in large circus tents with cots. Extra tables and chairs were brought in to provide seating for outdoor classes. Our parents also brought their own lodging: more tents and gear often hauled in a Rambler station wagon. I believe we reached 70+ campers several times in the years just before moving to Sharon Bluff Bible Camp in 1965.

Our preacher dads, of which Bill was one, devoted 12 or more days to teaching classes, taking turns preaching and throwing themselves into afternoon recreation which included playing softball and volleyball with their “tribe.” During the so-called “Rest” period, student-faculty games would break out on either the softball field or volleyball court. Don’t forget: they also helped set-up and take down Kamp! Our mothers were the Kamp cooks, besides!

If that weren’t enough, they took turns getting up at 5 am to take us swimming in Lake Keomah. We loved getting a chance to ride in the back of Brother Dewey’s old blue pickup. We would return, victorious, singing “Rise and Shine” as loud as we could to wake up the rest of the Kamp. Additional trips to the lake would occur later in the day or night for baptisms.

The middle Sunday of the camp typically included a quick 24 hour jaunt home for our dads to preach and for our moms to do laundry. When we were old enough, we got to stay at Kamp without the watchful eye of our own parents! Later we heard the stories of how they would stay up after “Light’s Out & Tongues In!” to tell stories and pull a few pranks of their own!

Since it wasn’t kosher to be on my own dad’s tribe, Bill was one of those you hoped would choose you to be on his “tribe” as he was an inventive leader and encourager. You wanted a tribe leader who was creative and who would make Kamp even more memorable and fun. It didn’t hurt if he could sing, which Bill certainly could! He had special phrases or monikers for many of us. When we moved into boyfriend/girlfriend stage he loved teasing us. “I see you’re still cookin’ with Earl” was our particular phrase.

One of my most interesting memories happened with my buddy, Cheryl Cochran. I think we we had just completed 6th grade. Usually, our classes were pretty interesting. Unfortunately, this year there was a preacher/teacher who was a good man but not really cut out for teaching adolescents! We were bored to tears in his class one day and began passing a note back and forth. I’m not sure which of us had the note last, but we managed to misplace it!

I have no idea how Bill Payne got his hands on that note, but the next thing Cheryl and I knew, it was being read at lunch to the whole Kamp! It wasn’t long before the perpetrators were discovered and our parents were horrified! I think Cheryl got a stern talking-to from her dad, but my consequences were more serious. When Bill found out, he told me he would’ve never read the note if he would have known how much trouble I would get in. That action spoke volumes to me and is only one example of the grace-filled spirit he extended to so many.

Brother Payne you will be sorely missed by your wonderful family and all of us who knew you. I tremble just a little to think of you and Daddy in Heaven together. I suspect they’ve had to assign a special angel just to keep you two out of trouble!

No, it is not the Country Music Awards. C, M, and A happen to to be the initials of our three children: Girl—Boy—Girl. With Mother’s Day on the horizon, I have been particularly nostalgic, flooded with memories and overcome with gratitude for the blessing of these three. I can be in a slump and a call or visit from one of them brightens my day or whole week. I treasure their friendship and I am happy when they still need my input – if only a little.

CMA - LS.1

Our children are close in age. All three were born in less than a three and a half year period. We used to get kidded: “Don’t you think you should get a TV?” (That’s right, we didn’t have a TV. Actually, we think no TV made the kids more creative. We finally did get our first TV when the oldest was eight.) When my Columbia-born, Catholic obstetrician told me it would be very unwise for me to carry any more nine-pound babies to term, I took him at his word. Having never ascribed to the martyr-like notion of having children until your uterus is about to fall out, I complied. It was one of those, “Let’s take care of this or go ahead and stand in the middle of the highway waiting for the next accident.”

I’ll be honest. There were days when I looked ahead to what life would be like when they were all potty trained and could dress themselves. One house we lived in had 28 steps up from the street where we parked the car. At that time they were two, one and a new-born. The two oldest would climb the steps ahead of me as I carried the baby in her infant seat. Then I would go back down the stairs and get the groceries, leaving them in the house with stern instructions to stay in just one room until I returned. The laundry was in the basement. More stairs!

At early ages, they all sang on tune and showed innate ability for music. Vocal music became the catalyst — and sometimes the arguing point — for bonding and growth. Music requires discipline. For a family of five singing harmony, one will have to take a back seat unless we sang a call and response song or had some jazz chords. The joke was — and still is — “You’re on my part!” Music practice was good fodder for learning to put your ego on hold (and that sometimes included Mom or Dad, too) and working together as a team.

Church involvement and regular attendance was part of the fabric of our family life. By example, not coercion, they learned the value of community and friendships within a church fellowship. They had a few surrogate parents, too, as we were to other friends’ children. Since we were often involved in musical events and other areas of service, the children worked right along with us. This was excellent life skills training and laid the groundwork for success in interaction with adults and their future careers.

We put a significant emphasis on making memories. Yes, this meant shelling out the money to spend nearly every Thanksgiving weekend at the beach, which included renting a house, carting all of the food, the puzzles, crafts, etc. We had a mini-church service on Sundays which always included communion. What a great time of disconnecting with life stuff so we could re-connect with each other before each busy Holiday season! The whole family flew back to Iowa one Christmas season. Another time we rented a big motor home and drove from the Northwest to Colorado. Wish we’d had more money — to make more memories!

We are not a perfect family. We have endured our share of hiccups. As adults, our three children have faced a number of challenges and missteps. The most comforting aspect to the aftermath of these trials has been to watch them tackle their obstacles with integrity and grow in their faith, rather than abandon it.

My husband is very un-fond of saying “My this” or “My that” and prefers a team emphasis. We consider C, M, and A not ours but, of course, God’s. Some times I am simply amazed at how well our children turned out in spite of me! (Our children have a couple of stories they enjoy telling about “when Mom lost it!”)

We made a point of making sure our husband-wife relationship was in good shape in order to provide stability for them, even when the children were very young. (And yes… that meant spending some funds for at least one getaway alone each year). Words cannot express the gratitude I have for a wonderful husband and dad who was willing to put so much energy into his family. Although he has always been involved with church ministries, he gave up paid ministry to protect his children and me.

On this Mother’s Day, 2015 I am blessed beyond words to be mother to C,M, and A. “There are no perfect parents, and there are no perfect children, but there are plenty of perfect moments along the way.” – Dave Willis

Word Salad

Around our house we discuss words in a number of ways. We’ve been known to refer to a convoluted way of speaking or including three random thoughts in one rambling sentence as “word salad”.

Somehow one of the children started calling my husband  a “Word Nazi” because he remembers all the details about High School English. (Don’t get your gunders in a bunch; we use the term in the fondest way possible!) You know: don’t end a sentence with a preposition… don’t split an infinitive… don’t use descriptive words improperly.

One of the funniest improper uses of an adjective we heard from our daughter. She received a cover letter for a job opening saying: “Although I have been working in another field, I have an obscene number of transferable skills!” This applicant had no chance of getting the job, even though one of the supervisors set up an interview just to see what kind of person would use such a phrase!

Another word game my husband plays is tweaking the words in songs; such as substituting the word “arm” for the word “heart.” Think about your favorite love songs and how this game lessens the effectiveness.  “Help me, Rhonda – help, help me Rhonda – help me get her offa my arm.” Another one of his mishandled song phrase is: “Every time you go a-way… you take a piece of meat with you,”

I have to admit I don’t always hear the words of a song correctly. My sweetie had already mangled the R.E.M. song: “This one goes out to the one-eyed dove, this one goes out to the one I left behind.” For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what they were singing in the “I Ag Ya” part. Come to find out it isn’t “Vi-Ag-Ra” as I thought. It’s meant to be unintelligible! Bob Dylan and Fleetwood Mac: move over!

We can be thankful God’s Word is so understandable. No word salad there. Even if there are some passages we don’t understand, everything that is vital to knowing God and living for Jesus is crystal clear. Whether you’re reading one of the more modern translations or the King James Version, with its thee’s, thou’s and ye’s the meaning is not hidden.

Change my heart, O God…Be still and know that I am God… Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength… All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… One Lord, one faith, one baptism… Forgive as the Lord forgave you… Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… Do not let your hearts be troubled… Trust in God, trust also in me… I go to prepare a place for you.

From Psalms 119:

Oh, how I love your law! I think about it all day long. Your commands are my constant guide. Yes, I have more insight than my teachers, for I am always thinking of your decrees. How sweet are your words to my taste; they are sweeter than honey.

Your commandments give me understanding Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path Lord, accept my grateful thanks and teach me your laws.

Stress Sandwich

Have you heard of the “Sandwich Generation?” It is usually a reference to those in their late 40’s or early 50’s who are coping with children in the late teen to young adult years while also dealing with aging parents who have health concerns.

One time I heard a sportscaster refer to part of an NFL football team’s schedule as a “Stress Sandwich.” The previous week they had an emotional high by winning a game they were not expected to win. On this particular Sunday they were playing a game they were supposed to win; but they had nothing left from the week before. Next week’s game they HAD to win or the season would be in jeopardy.

Well, Mr. Sportscaster! Let me tell you what a REAL Stress Sandwich is! It is being a mom with four children who is trying to cope. Her husband has to close his business and a few short months later, he is told he has cancer or an inoperable condition.

A Stress Sandwich is a woman dealing with a chronic health problem, an aging mother, and financial struggles…… then her husband loses his job.

A Stress Sandwich is a young woman who has her first baby. Everything is going well and she has just gone back to work…… then she finds out her husband is entangled in sexual addiction.

A Stress Sandwich can be good and bad layered together: Like the divorce of a daughter, the wedding of a second daughter, and a miscarriage for a son and daughter-in-law.

A Stress Sandwich can even be a number of GOOD things that are requiring optimum responsibility and commitment from you.

I’m sure many of you have been or are right now in the middle of a Stress Sandwich, because that is the relentless reality of life. We are not insulated from Stress Sandwiches just because we are Christians. How then do we respond or react? How do we find peace in the middle of our peanut butter and JAM sandwich? How do we pull apart the squished bread and bologna and get a little air and breathing room?

First: Ask your friends to pray and pray and pray some more. I don’t know about you, but sometimes in the middle of a “too much mayo” crisis, about all I can muster is “HELP!”

Second: Spend a lot of time with King David because PSALMS CALMS. Hold on to Isaiah’s words: “You will keep him in Perfect Peace whose mind is stayed on you.” Find a quiet place to meditate and literally air out your mind.

Third: Ask the Father to give you grace and to increase your faith under pressure.

James 1:2-8, 12 (NLT)
Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.
If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do— ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer…
God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

The Bite of Criticism

Have you ever struggled with being criticized? Have you ever been critical of someone else? When it comes to criticism, all of us have been on one side or the other. In today’s slang: “it bites!”

In the third chapter of Philippians, we read how Paul was dogged by some hyper-critical legalists who were trying to deceive the Christians at Phillipi.
Verses 2, 3:
“Watch out for those dogs, those wicked men and their evil deeds, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship God in the Spirit are the only ones who are truly circumcised. We put no confidence in human effort. Instead, we boast about what Christ Jesus has done for us.”
When Paul used the term dogs to describe some religious busy bodies of the day. he was not referring to a friendly lap dog. It was not uncommon for stray dogs to roam cities, fighting and biting  each other, attacking passersby and eating street refuse.

Verses 4-6: He outlines his personal credentials as a Jew of Jews. Then he goes on to say that NONE of his pedigree was important.Paul is practically saying to his criticizers: “You don’t want to go there!”

Verses 7-9b:
I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless… yes, worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage so that I may have Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law.

The word garbage is more accurately translated as “dung,” or we might say: dog doo-doo. There’s the circle: barking dogs to dog logs.

This word picture plays out quite realistically with criticism. Have you ever been critical of someone and then it comes back to bite you? Have you ever noticed that parents of teenagers begin to curtail their criticism of other parents?

Let’s examine three things from this passage on how to conquer a critical spirit…

FIRST
1- Our confidence is NOT found in human effort  vs. 7
All of us are on similar journeys. No one is better than someone else.  None of us can wave our pedigree as a wife, sister, friend or mother. Those of us who lead must not give the impression of having attained or of being spiritual giants. We are far from perfect. We struggle with balance in every area of our lives.

SECOND:
2- Our confidence IS found in Christ alone  vs. 8, 9
Bury the urge to make comparisons. All of our stories are not written yet — regardless of our age or how long we’ve known the Lord. None of us know what tomorrow or the next year will bring. Rather than focusing on other things or other people, we must focus on Jesus. If we are the “criticizor” we need to look at Jesus. If we are the “criticizee” we need to see if there is any truth in the bite and then return our gaze to Jesus.

Verse 12:  I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved … or reached perfection. But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.
WOW – what a promise! Paul goes on to encourage the Philippians to stay focused. Don’t be distracted by barking, biting dogs. Don’t get waylaid by the doo-doo of this earthly life.

THIRD:
3- Our confidence in Jesus will be rewarded. vs. 14, 20, 21
I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize…  We are citizens of heaven. He will take these weak mortal bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same mighty power that he will use to conquer everything, everywhere.
Since we’re citizens of heaven, our conduct must match our citizenship.

When it comes to conquering a critical spirit, remember: we cannot do it in our own strength; we CAN overcome with Christ’s help and we WILL be rewarded.

Lay It Down

Even at an early age, Mitchell, our oldest grandson, took on some of the characteristics of being the first-born in the family. Somehow he came to the conclusion that it was his responsibility to make sure Mason didn’t leave a mark on the family name. His younger brother was not only a pest at times, but down right embarrassing.

One year, the church where they attended, decided to ask the children questions about Christmas and videotape the responses. Mitchell was sure he could answer ANY question about Christmas until Mason jumped in and answered a question for him. “Who was Jesus’ mother?” Mason hollered out: “Mommy!” Mitchell found this humiliating. “Mason! No!” and covered his face with his hands. In fact, he was so flustered he was unable to answer any more questions or sing his favorite Christmas song.

One day around Easter, Mitch was down on the floor, industriously drawing a very large cross on some butcher paper. He was just about finished, when Mason came in and decided this would be a good time to walk ON the cross, not around it. You would expect Mitchell to be upset with his brother for tromping on his artwork. But instead he said, “Mason! No! Crosses are not for walking on. They are for laying on!” Then he proceeded to show him how someone would lay on the cross.

We’ve heard the phrase: “Let it go.” Maybe the more appropriate phrase would be: “Lay it down.” We may be more apt to lay down our burdens. Can we lay down our self and our wilfulness?

What can I lay down today? Can I lay down my resentment? Can I lay down my expectations of friends and family?  Can I lay down my TV time? Can I lay down having to have things my way? Can I lay down the outcome of a particular situation? Maybe we need to say: “I can’t do this on my own any more. Jesus, I need your help!”

To become like Jesus, Paul tells us we need to have the mind of Christ. To be like Jesus, our self absorbtion has to die. What can I lay down at the cross today? I encourage you to write it down — maybe write it down now on a piece of paper and place it in your Bible.

Philippians 2:5-11

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of
highest honor and gave him the name above all other names,

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.