Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Balancing Work and Worship - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 11]


Jesus was the most balanced individual the world has ever known. In fact, that is part of why he came - to show us how to manage the tricky balance between work and worship, between what we do and what we are. [pg. 176]

Every time I read this chapter, it settles deeper and deeper into my thinking.

Of all the chapters, I believe this is one of the most important because here Joanna discusses what having a Mary Heart in a Martha World might actually look like.... practically speaking.

She points out that although we may think this is achieved through a tricking balancing act - trying to hit that perfect but small target.....

The act of balancing work and worship is a constant back and forth. Our days should encompass both duty and devotion.


.....the balance between Living Room Service and Kitchen Service more often resembles the up-and-down, back-and-forth motion of the teeter totter than it does that fleeting moment of synchronicity. [pg. 181]

Some days it is hard to know which is up. A day can get started and before I know it, it is almost done.  There was no back and forth between work and worship, in fact I wonder if I was even on the teeter totter to begin with.

I really like the Balance Checklist Joanna includes on pg. 182 and 183. I have used that several times to assess which end of my teeter totter should be in the air.

But of all the things Joanna writes in this book, the most impactful thing for me was the section on Sabbath Rest.

Josh and I have been church goers our whole marriage. After reading Joanna's three aspects of Sabbath-keeping, I realized that although we went to church on Sundays - it had very little to do with the Sabbath.

First, the Sabbath needs to be different. [pg.185]

For us, Sundays weren't really different than any other day of the week.....except that they were more stressful.

We were not treating Sunday as a much needed day of rest - for us it was a catch up day.  Every weekend, we try to prepare so that Sundays can be restful.

It is still hard with our two boys to try and settle in to the day so that we can rest, but we know that in order for the remaining days of the week to have a chance at balanced work and worship - we must purposefully put this time aside.

One thing that is a daily choice for me is to hand it all over to Jesus - I work so hard to operate out of my own strength and wisdom......thankfully, there is grace.

The secret to balancing worship and work, devotion and service, love of God and love of people is maintaining our connection to Jesus Christ. [pg. 190]

This week we are called to once again to connect with Jesus through God's word and prayer - this time seeking His balance for our lives. Let's be intentional about stopping the balancing ACT and work toward moving back and forth between work and worship.


Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented, let us encourage each other.

What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Mary's Extravagant Love - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 10]


Something is wrong. And yet, somehow, Mary senses something so right. It goes against logic. She can see the Master's weariness. The men are clearly worried and befuddled. And yet Mary feels a tremor within, like a single strum upon a stringed instrument. Like hope...or is it joy? [pg. 156]

This is one of the best descriptions I have ever read of where circumstances meet the stirring of God.

Every cue from Mary's environment was laced with stress and intensity - except for Jesus. His steady eyes and secure hold on the Father struck something within her. It was a quiet stirring.

Mary seemed to understand, for only she seemed moved to take the appropriate action. [pg.157]

Could it be that she felt lead to act because she was truly listening and intent on knowing the heart of Jesus?

Jesus had been pouring and pouring and pouring Himself over those in his presence. He spoke about all of the events to come.......and still, all except one - missed it.

We today have the FULL STORY, the work has been done, the veil is torn and yet we still miss the heart and essence of the Lord.

By the time Jesus arrived on the scene, the Jewish people were desperate to hear, feel, receive any movement from the Lord. And as all His love was about to be poured out.....Heaven opening itself up to all who would believe - still Mary was the only one in tune.

Mary alone seemed to hear the echoes of that music. Only she seemed ready to respond to the extravagance of Jesus' love. [pg. 158]

The teachings I have received from the church have always isolated Mary's 'perfume story' as a lesson in giving generously - even from a small pocketbook.

Never, and I mean never until reading Joanna's book has it been pointed out to me that of all the people around Jesus during his final days - Mary of Bethany was the only one mentioned in the Bible who was moved to extravagant love merely by being in His presence.

Joanna also points to the story directly following Mary's giving at the banquet, Judas' betrayal.

One impending event (Jesus' death)...............two polar opposite reactions.
While the situation caused the evil dormant within Judas to rise to the surface, it was the same instance that brought something beautiful up from the depths of the maiden from Bethany. [pg. 163]
This quote from Joanna reminds me of one of my all time favorite quotes from Charles Spurgeon....

"The same sun which melts wax hardens clay. And the same Gospel which melts some persons to repentance hardens others in their sins" - Spurgeon 

Joanna writes about Judas' faith here...

Imagine spending three years of your life with the Messiah, yet walking away more or less the same - or even worse than when you started.  Judas did just that. [pg. 163-164]

Gulp!

Couldn't the same be true for those of us today who have lived out "Christian" lives claiming to know and love Jesus - yet after years and years we remain the same - immature and empty in our walk?

Joanna writes....

If we refuse to recognize the immensity of God's grace and its incredible cost on Jesus' part, sooner or later, we will take it for granted. [pg. 165]

God's word tells us...

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 
Romans 1:21

Lord, please give me eyes to see and ears to hear!!!!!

I want a heart bent toward generosity, a heart that see its wrongs and falls at the feet of Jesus....

....a heart that swells, weeps, and rejoices in thankfulness for the loving sacrifice of Jesus.

The later portion of this chapter Joanna tells of a time her life when she was called to leap into love and surrender to a walk of complete faith.

Conducting this book study here on my blog has been one of those moments for me....

For more than two years I have held back in sharing my whole faith because I knew what some might think.

Finally, I have acted. Finally, I am writing.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.   
1 John 3:1



Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented, let us encourage each other.

What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Martha's Teachable Heart - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 9]


Martha thought she had value because she was productive. Jesus wanted her to learn she had value simply because she was his. [pg. 138]


This truth is still sinking in for me. It is hard for me to get off of my hamster wheel.

I have value apart from what I do or have to offer.

I have value because I AM HIS.

Joanna pointed out in chapter 2 that Jesus loved Martha as she was, but in His love for her He pushed her to change.

He was not concerned with her comfort - He was concerned for her heart.


His goal is not to pamper us physically but to perfect us spiritually. 
- Paul W. Powell [pg. 138]

I live my life as if the Lord owes me something. There is no more proof of this than when I look at the prayers I write in my journal. Mostly, they are the ramblings of a little child whining for what she wants. Joanna's writing challenges my view of what I think the Lord desires for me. Unfortunately for this fleshy Martha, He is not concerned with my mood or my whims.

He is concerned with my heart. He is calling me to be teachable.

Those closest to me would probably qualify me as a defensive person.

I am.

I have a really, REALLY hard time receiving criticism or rebuke without taking it personally. Even when it is clearly not personal, I find a way to make it such.

Joanna encourages us to understand the root of why we take a defensive stance.


...When you're busy in the Kitchen, the rebuke sounds harsh and demanding, just one more duty to fulfill. But when you listen from the Living Room, you hear the love in God's voice and it sounds like life for your soul. [pg. 141]

When I live my life in a place of productivity and performance, my heart is brittle rather than malleable.

Two chapters ago, Joanna wrote about our choice when it comes to matters with God.

With God we always have a choice in whether we acknowledge Him or accept Him.

Jesus' relationship with Martha was no different. She also had a choice....


For when we are corrected, rebuked, or chastened, we have a choice. We can receive it, or we can refuse it. [pg. 141]

Thankfully, Martha said yes! Because of her decision we get to see a personality like hers become teachable before the Lord in the possibly the hardest time in her life.

It is possible!

There is hope for Martha, and there is hope for you and me.

This chapter is a wake up call.

I don't want to live in a defensive stance. I want to be able to receive rebuke from the Lord and know that ALL He has for me comes from His great love.

This week we are called to have a teachable heart.


Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below about all or just one of these items. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented, let us encourage each other.

1. Question 3 from the Study Guide asks - What did you discover about yourself when filling out the "Are You Teachable" questionnaire on page 139?

2. What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lessons from Lazarus - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 8]


There's no easy way to find out how the story ends.
We just have to hang on tight as the plot line unfolds. [pg. 117]

Even though sometimes we want one, there is no crystal ball or predictive test we can take that will tell us how our lives will turn out for the rest of our days.

Some parts of our lives will unfold for us to see in the coming months and years we have to live and other circumstances we face will not be resolved this side of heaven.

The Bible says there are things that even the angels in Heaven do not know - only God Himself.

Although much of life is a mystery, there is clear direction in God's word on His purpose for each of our days - regardless of the season.


The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him. [Psalm 37:23]
And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  [Romans 8:28]
- emphasis is mine. 

In this chapter, Joanna brings to light one of the strangest stories in the New Testament.

A man dies. This man happens to be the brother of Martha and Mary.

Before he dies, Mary and Martha summon Jesus to come and heal him.

They want nothing more than for Him to preform another great miracle but this time in their own family.

When Jesus gets word of Lazarus' condition, He does not come......He purposely waits.

Neither the sister's desire for Jesus to draw near nor their great faith in Jesus' power could save their brother.

Lazarus died and they had to wait four days for Jesus to arrive.

The greatness of Lazarus' story is not that he was given more life on earth by Jesus, that could have happened through the healing touch of Jesus days before he passed.

The greatness of Lazarus' story is that he died and in his death there was a lesson. There was intention from God to reveal Himself to us.


“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” [John 11:4]

Joanna writes.....

For tucked among the twists and turns of the everyday plot are valuable lessons about who God is and how he works and how we fit into the tale. [pg. 119]


But what about when life REALLY hurts?
When the answer to a prayer is 'no'.....
When the physical healing doesn't come......
When your husband leaves and doesn't return....
And the list goes on for the length of our days.

Kara Tippets poses these painful questions so beautifully when she writes about her loosing battle with cancer.


Imagine if he showed Himself in my hard, which He did, and what if the hard of my story is the beautiful redemption of my today? 
Could the suffering then take on a different hue? 
Could the coloring of the hard not be so dark, so hateful and gloomy?
If our hard is the absence of a good God, then how can anyone walk in faith? 
......
My hope is not in the absence of suffering and comfort returned. 
My hope is in the presence of the One who promises never to leave or forsake, the One who declares nothing "will be able to separate us from the love of God" (Romans 8:39) 
Nothing. 
The Hardest Peace ~


We all will face great trial and tragedy in our own way, but those hard parts of life are where the Lord most clearly reveals Himself.

His love for us is great through all circumstances.

His covenant of grace is steadfast - even through the deepest valleys.

But His grace abounds only to those who know Him.

I love Joanna's encouragement to us in this chapter......

If you are struggling to hang on in the midst of your difficult circumstances, let me remind you to go back to what you know about God. Open the Bible and find scriptures to cling to - scriptures that reveal the heart and faithfulness of God. 
Remind yourself that God is your strength. 
That he is the source of your comfort. [pg. 124-125]

What we will find in His word is a God who sent His son, Jesus.

And Jesus understands it all. All the pain and struggle, all the suffering.

This week we are called to get to know this suffering Savior and claim His victory in death for our own lives.



Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below about all or just one of these items. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented, let us encourage each other.

1. Joanna includes a list of verses on pg. 135 to help point us to Jesus' understanding and experience with trials within his own life. Which of these scripture references do you find most comforting?

2. What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.