Monday, August 24, 2009

I LOVE a parade!

I got tickled reviewing my memory verse for the end of August...

"But thanks be to God,
who always leads us
in triumphal procession in Christ
and through us spreads everywhere
the fragrance of the knowledge of him."
2 Cor. 2:14

What had me laughing is the fact that I originally chose the verse because I was drawn to the idea of emanating the "fragrance of knowing Him." I still love that challenge. But somehow I kind of skimmed over the whole part about God leading us in "triumphal procession in Christ." How could I have ignored that?

I have always been a huge fan of parades - particularly when I get to be part of the "triumphal procession." Those who know me will not be surprised by this. Some of my fondest childhood memories involved our annual participation in Baton Rouge's downtown Christmas parade. My dad was an active Jaycee, the men's group that sponsored the parade, so we were always drafted to ride floats. (Me? The center of attention in a costume on a float riding before hundreds of people? Oh, twist my arm!)

Mom usually made costumes to coordinate with the theme of the float we were riding. One year we were dressed as ice skaters in little felt skirts on a float with a frozen "pond" and (inexplicably) a huge bell. It was freezing and rainy that night, so instead of gliding on the pretend icy pond in our cute skirts, we huddled for warmth beneath the bell - a good plan until a huge gust of wind blew the bell and showered us in icy cold water.

But my favorite parade was the year my dad was president of the Jaycees. He got to ride in a shiny convertible and his family accompanied him. I think my brother and sister thought it was boring, but I was thrilled! Mom made us girls matching capes - faux camel hair lined in faux leopard (like I have to specify "faux" anything!) I arranged mine just so, with the front folded back a touch so the leopard lining was showing. I'm pretty sure gloves were part of the ensemble, and we perched on the back of that navy blue convertible and I waved regally as though everyone was there to see me.

I was raised with no shortage of love and praise. Yet, I seemed to have an insatiable appetite for attention and admiration. Maybe I was just a dreamy little girl who longed to be a princess, or beauty queen or famous. As much as it hurts to admit it, I've spent much of my adult life in a struggle with that desire for fame and admiration - I just learned to cloak it beneath something more substantial than a faux fur cape.

In the past few years, God has been gently prodding me in this area - revealing that weakness of pride and giving me a growing distaste for anything false or pretentious in my own heart and mind. It hasn't always been pleasant, but it's been a necessary part of my journey toward Christlikeness - and Christ-centeredness. A few years ago, Isaiah 26:8 became my theme:

"Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws,
we wait for you;
your name and renown
are the desire of our hearts."

When HIS name, HIS fame become our desire, then HE will lead us in triumphal procession in Christ - so we can spread HIS fragrance. Now, that's a parade I want to be part of.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


"But thanks be to God,
who always leads us
in triumphal procession in Christ
and through us spreads everywhere
the fragrance of the knowledge of him."

2 Cor. 2:14

Is that a weird choice for a memory verse? For some reason, I feel called to "smell" more like Jesus. As I'm moving through the day, I wonder what kind of aroma surrounds me. Some days, I'm pretty sure I'm like Pig Pen, the old Peanuts character, with a cloud of dust (complaints, worries, anxiety) that threatens to overwhelm anyone in my path. Other days, I'm probably like an overly made-up old woman with a cloying, heavy scent of self-centeredness -- (eau de me, me, me!!!)

By definition, fragrance is "a pleasant, sweet smell." Those who belong to Christ should be redolent of love, mercy, compassion, joy -- the kind of scents that draw people closer and make them want to breathe deeply.

"...the fragrance of the knowledge of him..."

Mmmm. Can you smell it?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The wisdom that comes from heaven...

"But the wisdom that comes from heaven
is first of all pure;
then peace-loving, considerate, submissive,
full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."

James 3:17

This is the scripture I'm memorizing for the first two weeks of August. I don't know what it is with me and lists, but I've noticed a lot of the verses or passages I've chosen this year include lists - with lots of adjectives. I've always been a classic "over-writer" - very fond of layers of descriptive words. But I don't think God could be accused of "over-writing" anything, and He uses repetitive, descriptive words to get His point across. Maybe that's not a bad thing!

Anyway - I love this description of the wisdom that comes from heaven - wisdom we can only get from God, from walking in step with Him. The Amplified Bible offers even more layers of words:

"But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle). [It is willing to] yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is wholehearted and straightforward, impartial and unfeigned (free from doubts, wavering, and insincerity)."

I love the juxtaposition of peace-loving and considerate with wholehearted and straightforward. It's all about balance - with a healthy dose of purity and sincerity!

Here's The Message translation of verses 17 and 18:

"Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor."