Thursday, June 27, 2013

No Dead Ends With God!

photo credit: aopsan

Have you ever looked ahead and seen nothing but darkness, a bend in the road, or an obstacle across the path? Or, even worse, have you looked ahead and seen a brick wall, or a drop off straight into an abyss? Have you ever thought that there was simply no way to go forward and you may as well just sit down now and give up?

I have. More times than I want to count I have felt that horrible sense of hopelessness and simply wanted to quit. Most people have had these times at some point in their life, some more than others. 

But I'm so glad that God doesn't leave me in the place. Instead, as I choose to continue to walk forward with Him he shines His light into that darkness so that I can see which step to take next. He straightens the bends and removes the obstacles. And, when there was simply no way forward, when there seems to be a complete dead end and no way to turn around, He makes a way. The God Who created the universe and everything in it from nothing is completely capable of making a way forward where there was none before. Where there is no hope, no solution, no answers, He makes them when we trust in Him. He never fails us.

I am the way, the truth and the life. John 14:6

Isn't it amazing to walk with Him?

photo credit: twobee

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No Ordinary Blog Hop

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Bandwagons and Boxes and Leaving Them Behind

I mentioned awhile back on Facebook that I really really dislike bandwagons. And boxes. And that maybe we should pack all our bandwagons into boxes and . . . I don't remember what I said we should do with them then, but at the moment the nearest landfill sounds good to me. After I posted that I thought maybe instead of packing the bandwagons into boxes we should load the boxes on the bandwagons and drive them out of town.

Either way. They simply need to go.

Why do I dislike bandwagons and boxes so intensely? Because they are limiting! And I'm afraid they give us a false sense of doing something important when really we aren't. We're simply making a lot of noise and beating on our drums and sometimes our chests and  congratulating ourselves for our good works in the process. Or, even better, putting pretty little quotes (or sometimes not so pretty little quotes) on facebook, 140 character tweets on twitter and feeling like we've really done something special for "standing up for what's right." I have nothing against either facebook or twitter. I have accounts with both and use them regularly. But I do have a problem when they become just another way of promoting the bandwagons and boxes. 

What if instead of climbing on our bandwagons and making a lot of noise while stuffing a lot of people who we think are wrong for not joining us there into their respective boxes we would simply climb down and start loving people.

One by one. Loving. Like Jesus loved. There in the trenches where it's real - where the tears flow and the wounds bleed and it's messy and gritty. Where we cry the ugly cry, not just a few pious tears squeezed out while we wipe them away discreetly but the hard cry of a heart that is in pain for a world that hurts and needs Jesus. And not just cries for it but cries with it. One person at a time. One broken heart at a time. One depressed, angry, wounded, lost, confused, indifferent, lonely person at a time. Where decisions, sometimes hard decisions, are made and Jesus comes into hearts and resolves are strengthened and hearts are mended and spirits are set free and people begin to stand to their feet and and then they began to walk and to run and to fly. Why aren't we there? 

Some are there. And those who are there are seeing things they never thought they would see. And while, yes, it's messy and hard and not always where one wants to be at that moment, when we press in and pray like we mean it, because we DO mean it, there is beauty. There is healing, and hope and laughter and rising from despair and dancing in the freedom that comes from shackles broken. 


Because that is where Jesus is. Not on the bandwagon. Not in the box. In the trenches. With the people. And when we are where Jesus is, then we see, and we have, true life, and love, liberty, laughter and the longing to see more people set free. 

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 No Ordinary Blog Hop Wednesday - A Little R and R

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Don't Get Stuck in the Muck!

Don't get stuck in the muck!

Some days it's like a mantra, repeating itself all day long in my mind. 

Don't Get Stuck in the Muck!
Don't Get Stuck in the Muck!
Don't Get Stuck in the Muck!
Don't Get Stuck in the Muck!

It's so easy to find myself there, stuck in the muck that is sure to be there in this fallen world. It's easy to suddenly slip in without quite realizing how I get there. 

And what it this muck in which I do not want to be stuck? It's mostly little things - the temper tantrums of a two year old, the socks that apparently no one but me can pick up, the endless parade of dirty dishes, runny noses, dirty diapers, and skinned knees, the fatigue from a night of very interrupted sleep (I tend to lose count after about 8 interruptions, but some nights there are more although they are much less frequent than they used to be), deadlines, and oh yeah, don't forget the laundry or someone is not going to have clean jeans for tomorrow. Then there are the days when the muck seems a little worse - the vet calls to tell me my daughter's beloved cat has cancer and there's really nothing they can do about it, the basement floods after a few rainy days because the sump pump quit working, the school calls because a child had trouble during the day. It's muck and if I'm not very careful I can find myself stuck in it very quickly.

But, I'm learning, and it's become more real to me daily, that I do NOT have to be stuck here. Yes, there's the much and if that's what I really want to look at there's plenty there to see. But there's so much more than that. 

Because the muck is only a part, a fraction of this world we live in. We were created for beauty and love and joy and relationship and it's right there for us to find if we will look for it. If I remember to look and to be aware there are the multiple hugs I get each day from both little and big people, there are baby smiles, and sticky kisses, and "thank you mommy's" after band-aids have been placed on skinned knees. There are happy cat purrs, and sunshine after days of rain and the triumph of learning a lesson even though it was tough. There are fresh clean clothes and the scent of a candle burning and shiny clean dishes. There is conversation and laughter around the dinner table, and bedtime stories and prayers. 

And best of all, there is grace and growing and learning and loving and laughing together. 

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14

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Wednesday - A Little R and R

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Am I A "Radical" "Missional" Christian?

Being a “radical,” “missional,” Christian is slowly becoming the “new legalism.” We need more ordinary God and people lovers (Matt 22:36-40). This statement tweeted by Anthony Bradley caught my attention.

So I read the reference in Matthew. 

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

And I read this article "The New Legalism: Missional, Radical, Narcissistic and Shamed" that was inspired by responses to Anthony Bradley's statement on twitter. As I read I found myself nodding my head in agreement with some points, feeling a little puzzled about others, as well as shaking my head in disagreement at others. 

Then I read the comments. Not all of them, there are a LOT. Apparently this issue hits home for a lot of people. And there are many varying opinions on this whole subject of following Jesus in a "radical" or "missional" way and how exactly we're supposed to go about loving our neighbor. I read until my head started spinning and then I read a little more.

And then I walked away and thought about it awhile. 

And I had to wonder what Jesus really thought about this whole debate. I'm not sure that He would be against having this discussion. It's probably a good one to have, when carried on respectfully and without name calling. But, if He were standing here to give us His perspective I wonder what He would say. 

And I think maybe He would say that "radical" "missional" Christian living looks different for each one of us and for many of us it looks different at different times in our lives. Maybe He would say that we should not be too focused on what the trends are, or what one particular teacher, preacher or author is telling us but instead be listening to what He is telling us individually as walk with Him. 

I know personally, I've wondered about this issue, wondered if I'm doing enough, wondered if I am really living out God's plan for my life, wondered if I've missed something "great" I'm supposed to be doing. But over and over, He reminds me that as long as I'm following Him, spending time with Him daily, and by His grace carrying out what He's asking me to do in this moment, showing His love to those He places in my path, than I am living the life He wants me to live. It's up to me to follow, where He leads me is His choice.

And really, no matter how ordinary I am, if I am truly a God and people lover, my life is probably going to be pretty radical and missional whether others notice or not.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pursuing a Calling You Do Not Understand

I've read or heard Hebrews 11 so often that I sometimes find myself skimming over it or tuning out simply because I am so familiar both with this passage and with the stories mentioned in it. But as I read it one morning recently it suddenly became very vivid to me. These are some truly amazing things done through people of God because of their faith. And I'm talking about truly mind blowing.

The story of Noah is one of my favorite. I imagine him building day after day, even though he could not really comprehend what is was God was telling him, yet remaining faithful. There is a sign I often see in the little town I live in that says - "They laughed at Noah too - until it rained." Because of Noah's faith he was able to build an architectural marvel and to save the lives of his family. And through saving the life of his family he preserved the future of the human race - their continuance and the hope of their salvation.

 Never underestimate the power of obedience through faith to a calling you do not completely understand.    Click to Tweet

And Noah is just one person listed in this chapter -Abel, Enoch Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Gideon, David, Rahab, Joshua, Mary - and the list goes on and on. Every one of them ordinary people, people like you and me who could have just gone on being ordinary people, but instead chose to live by faith and choose the extraordinary.

I for one want to live in the extraordinary! How about you? I would love to hear from you in the comments.

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No Ordinary Blog Hop,  Wednesday - A Little R and R, Friday - Fellowship Fridays

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Pray Without Ceasing!

1 Thessalonians 5:17 

"The position of our text is very suggestive. Observe what it follows. It comes immediately after the precept, "Rejoice evermore;" as if that command had somewhat staggered the reader, and made him ask "How can I always rejoice?" and, therefore, the apostle appended as answer, "Always pray." The more praying the more rejoicing. Prayer gives a channel to the pent-up sorrows of the soul, they flow away, and in their stead streams of sacred delight pour into the heart. At the same time the more rejoicing the more praying; when the heart is in a quiet condition, and full of joy in the Lord, then also will it be sure to draw nigh unto the Lord in worship. Holy joy and prayer act and react upon each other."

Thursday, June 6, 2013

He Saw Jesus

It was a fairly typical weekday lunch time. The kids and I sat at the kitchen table eating and talking. The bird feeder just beyond the kitchen window was busy with a variety of birds and we were enjoying watching them and talking about the different kinds of birds we saw. Suddenly, in the middle of a sentence  Michael interrupted himself. "I saw Jesus!" he exclaimed, his eyes shining. Of course we all looked in the direction he was looking, but saw nothing unusual.  "Where?" one of the other kids asked, puzzled. "Oh He went up to Heaven" he replied casually as if seeing Jesus in our yard on His way to Heaven was an every day occurrence. He then went on with the previous conversation as if he had never changed the subject. The rest of us had a little trouble switching back so quickly, but within a few minutes the announcement seemed forgotten.

But I didn't forget quite so easily. In fact it was on my mind all day and I wondered what the meaning of this was or if there was any meaning to it. Was it just an overactive imagination? Did He really see something? Why didn't I get to see it? When I looked out the window I didn't see anything out the ordinary. And, while I don't have any solid answers to any of these questions it did lead me on some interesting paths of thought.

Michael has been very curious recently about where exactly Jesus is. "Where is Jesus?" is a question he has asked often. "Is He in Heaven?" I answer that yes, He is in Heaven, but He's also all around us and when we love Him He lives in our hearts as well. At this point he will sometimes look down toward his chest and say "Jesus, are You in there?" or "I love Jesus" One night after he had gone to bed I heard him talking to himself and peaked at him to see him and patting his arms, his legs, his stomach and saying "Jesus is in in here, and in here, and in here." Another time, while he was eating I heard him say "Jesus is in me, I'm feeding Jesus." And while this is cute and sweet and makes me smile indulgently I  realize that there is something I am learning from it as well. 

Because he is teaching me what it's like to truly seek to know and understand Jesus and to find Him and live in His Presence. While his is a very childlike searching, it is also a very real quest for him. And I believe that quest is being honored in his young life in ways that he sees and understands even if I don't. In Mark 10:14-15 Jesus  said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Jesus loved, and still loves the heart that searches for him with childlike faith, whether in a child or an adult. This is how I want to seek Him today and every day.

And I have to say I find it very comforting to think of Jesus walking through my yard on His way to Heaven. 

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No Ordinary Blog Hop 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

So Glad to Go the House of the Lord

I rejoiced with those who said to me,
"Let us go to the house of the Lord."
Psalm 122:1

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25

It is a beautiful thing to be able to go to the house of the Lord and worship Him with others. 

Not because everyone there is perfect. They're not. And if they were that would change the minute I walked in the door. 

Not because that is the only place God is. No, He can be found anywhere we seek Him. 

Not because those four walls make up the church. No, the church is made up of His people, whether inside a church building or not.

Not because the church I attend is the only church sharing truth and God's love. No, there are churches all across this country (and the world) that are doing the same.

Simply because it is a wonderful privilege to be able to come together and encourage each other in our worship of Him Who brings us all together with His love. It is an encouragement to hear the praises lifted to Him by those around us, knowing they too live in the day to day world each day and yet He is faithful to them as well as to us. It is a privilege to be able to encourage someone else through prayer, through praise, through sharing His Word, and to be encouraged ourselves through the same. 

Yes, I am glad this morning that I have the blessing of going to the house of the Lord.

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