Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Note: Today's post is kind of a "soap box" for me, if you will. Just some thoughts...random mostly. But definitely from the heart.
Tolerance is defined as a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own. I often think of this word when trying to reconcile differences between my spiritual perspective and the actions of others. Experience has shown me that most people expect Christians to tolerate anyone who is different. I am not opposed to that, in fact I would encourage it. For example, I love homosexuals. I don't agree with the lifestyle they've chosen because it is defined as sin in the bible. While I don't condone their actions, I sincerely accept and love them as people.
This tolerance is rarely, if never, reciprocated towards Christians. Instead, they are ridiculed and persecuted for being close minded. We're the only people who are not allowed to say "no, that's wrong, I don't agree with that." That is probably an extreme view but it's accurate based on my experiences.
I absolutely hate the fact that people (to be more specific, critics of the Christian faith) are always worried about people being offended. They don't want nativity scenes displayed around town. Christmas trees in department stores might even viewed as offensive if someone doesn't celebrate Christmas. On the other side of the coin though, I don't take offense if I see a menorah. I'm not offended when I drive past a muslim place of worship. Again, going back to that point from before, I may not agree with someone's beliefs but I am not going to force them through legislation to remove or hide all signs of their faith.
Christians are held to a different standard. We must tolerate everyone else, yet no one will consider tolerating us. I know I'm making extreme generalizations here, but honestly I wouldn't expect anything different. As Christians we are to expect persecution if we identify with Christ. But it's because of our identity in Christ that we can take joy in both the persecution that comes with it as well as the blessings.
I pray you take joy this holiday season in being intolerable. Relish what we have in common with Christ. Expect persecution and ridicule but remain confident that God will bless you as you perservere. Blessings to you on the Eve of Christmas! What joy we have because of the life that was given us in Christ Jesus.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
"...but you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into this marvelous light..."
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Happy Thanksgiving!! I am so thankful for the abundance from God's hand--family, friends, a great job and the ability to work. Enjoy your holiday and all its traditions!
(This article was originally published in 1983 in Arizona Highways.)
Nine times out of 10 Thanksgivings in northern Arizona will come nosing ahead of a storm like an old lead cow going to water.
A solid front of gray will move across the high plains driven by a northwest wind whipping and slashing at the drags. It will be a full-blown storm front, shivering with snow and sleet, a storm that does what it sets out to do - puts an end to autumn. Every year is a gamble to see how long the cattle can put on weight before that first storm hits and the feed loses its strength. Fifty years ago, northern Arizona ranchers rounded up cattle in October and sold them around the middle of November. Some still do.
When fall roundup is over and the cattle are shipped, there's more work to be done. Holes in the fences and watergaps are fixed, the shoes are jerked off the horses. Mother cows go off to their favorite canyons and cedar breaks to wait out the winter. The saddle horses, turned out on the open range, will have to make their own living until they're needed again unless they decide to come in for a handout. Then, if a person listens, the coyotes will tell him a storm is on the way. A strain of urgency, a high-pitched ululation breaks with dawn. Thanksgiving Day is near. In the old days a cowboy often let Thanksgiving get by him, as the work didn't stop for holidays. Even faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had little time for celebration. On Thursday, Nov. 29, 1894, Lucy Hannah White Flake wrote in her journal: "This is thanksgiving day [sic]. The wind is blowing. There was no school this afternoon so we washed. The men folks are all working on the reservoy."
Later on, when the country developed and roads improved, ranch neighbors often came together to celebrate Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving dinner on an Arizona ranch is likely to have scents and seasonings never dreamt of by the Pilgrims, but cattle people have just as much to be thankful for, maybe more. A ranch family is thankful if they all made it through branding and fall roundup and lived to tell about it. They are thankful for the rain that filled their dirt tanks and made winter feed. They are thankful for the calves and steer yearlings that paid the bills. They are thankful, too, for friends and neighbors who helped with the work. Most of all, they thank God for partnering with them another year.
Women raised on ranches are likely to serve recipes they inherited from mothers and grandmothers. With every bite of cornbread stuffing, carrot pudding, homemade noodles or mincemeat pie, memories ebb and flow - back to the smell of cedar wood firing up a cookstove on a frosty morning. Doing chores before school. Bacon, coffee, sourdough biscuits. The whang of a windmill pumping water into a steel storage tank. The ring of spurs and clomp of boots on a wooden porch. Cold mornings and fresh horses.
Memories waft from the kitchen. The summer garden greens up again with each bite of bottled peas or green beans. The orchard comes to life in peach preserves spread thick on homemade yeast rolls. It may be slim pickings part of the year, but at Thanksgiving there's plenty for all. Somehow, the ones who made it possible are always there at Thanksgiving time.
And if a winter storm is biting at the heels of dark clouds, listen. You can almost hear the pounding of a herd of range cattle and the far off cries of men bringing in the roundup. Coming home. Coming home.
Monday, November 17, 2008
"Those outside of rural America need to see what is in this book. They'll be astounded to find that those who are close to the land have a startling sense of where they belong in the universe. They love their lives, accept the inherent struggles, and are surprisingly at peace for those who confront so many daily challenges. Perhaps it is because they know what it is to grow things, have worked to understand and to accept the forces of nature."
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
A few things I'm so thankful for on this election day, regardless of the outcome:
*We live in a democracy where we have the right to a vote and a voice. We have the God-given responsibility to use both wisely and in the way that best reflects what God conveys through Scripture.
*God "works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will" and "according to the plan." Ephesians 1:11
*Not only does God work out everything in conformity with His will, He has promised to work out everything for the GOOD of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
*God sets up kings and deposes them and gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. Daniel 2:21
*We, the beautifully diverse family of God, are never - not at any time - powerless. Nor are we ever victims of a system. Believing prayer takes us through doors we'll never be invited to enter and into judges chambers we'll never grace. Take a look back at Genesis 18 once again with astonishment over the dialogue between God and His servant and friend, Abraham. Rejoice that God is ever mindful of a faithful remnant. The Judge of the Earth will always do right.
*Even if persecution should await believers in Christ or harrowing circumstances hound us, God will use hardship to bring unity and purity to a people who need it desperately. The best of circumstances do not always produce the best in the Bride of Christ.
*The living God is firmly established upon His Throne and there at His holy feet we can always find grace and mercy in our time of need.
*No matter what happens today, we are GOD'S elect. He has elected us to show His heart and to walk in His ways in the culture that surrounds us. We are called to walk in the challenging balance of grace and truth.
May we be filled with Christ's Spirit today and our mouths given to praise and to believing, receiving prayer. God IS faithful and He has us firmly in His hand. We will not fear. We will not doubt. We will not hate.
"Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders." Deuteronomy 33:12
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
“7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but no abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”
Looking back at verse seven, Paul speaks about a treasure held in jars of clay. Verses one through six indicate that this treasure is the gospel; as believers, we are the jars of clay. Why would God place something that is invaluable in something of so little value? Living out of our weaknesses illustrates God’s power in our lives. We shouldn’t think that God is incapable of using our weakness and frailty to adorn the halls of heaven—this very concept is illustrated in the following story.
Every day a servant placed a pole across his shoulders that carried two clay buckets. He walked to a stream that was several miles away, filled up the buckets and then painstakingly returned to his master’s home. The bucket on the left was without imperfection and always returned a full measure of water; the bucket on the right however was cracked and by the time the servant returned, this bucket was only half full every time. One day the cracked bucket cried out, feeling sorry about his deficiency; he didn’t understand why the servant continued to use the cracked bucket since it was incapable of completing the very task which it had been designed for. The servant gently asked if the bucket had ever taken notice of the path on the right side and the left as they returned from the stream. The very next day, the cracked bucket noticed that there was a path of beautiful wildflowers growing, all the way from the stream to the master’s house on the right side of the path; whereas the left side was without. The servant explained that he had known all along that the bucket had a crack, but he chose to sow flower seeds in its path cultivating beauty out of something that appeared to be purposeless and wasteful. The servant explained that the master’s table is adorned with the beautiful flowers all year long that grow because of the water that drips out of the cracked bucket. WE are the cracked bucket my friends—we see our weaknesses as something that are purposeless, and designed to simply frustrate us or trip us up. How dare we limit the power and purpose of God in our lives though. God is able to use our cracked and broken bodies to bring goodness to those around us. He has a purpose and a plan, and is far more capable than we’ll ever know of bringing goodness and beauty out of our “deficiencies.” Take heart my dear friends, for God is at work in our frailty.
Have you noticed the hope and endurance in Paul’s voice when you read verses eight through nine? He speaks of challenging times for the Corinthians where it seems they are attacked from every side; however they are never completely destroyed or ruined. God is going to allow challenging times in our lives. But it is in these challenging times that we have a huge opportunity to communicate that we are tied to the eternal anchor in heaven—God is not going to put us in a situation that is greater than us. He knows our limits and he will pull us through. The message that we communicate in these trails though should speak of the hope and endurance we know we have through Jesus Christ. Don’t lose heart in challenging times; be confident that God is at work in our experiences.
In verses 10 through 11, Paul speaks of Jesus’ death and life, but you will notice that His death always precedes His life. If we are to identify with Jesus, we have to embrace the dying of Christ in our lives by dying to ourselves each day (Luke 9:23). This is an active element in our lives, something that we have to consciously choose. This process of dying to ourselves and allowing Christ to be displayed in our lives is called sanctification; after accepting Christ, sanctification is the journey that we go through where God makes us more like Christ. This journey is life long and there will be many seasons of “death.”
If you haven’t had a dying season, you can expect it. When I speak of a dying season, I speak of a time where God puts you in a position that causes us to die to ourselves—we are forced to abandon hope that we have placed in things and rely on God’s strength and character. As we die to ourselves though, we can identify with the death that Jesus Christ chose, therefore allowing us to also identify with Him in life. As human beings our natural tendency isn’t to gravitate towards challenging situations that refine our spiritual character. Instead we choose the smoother, easier path that often times wouldn’t be rough enough to take calluses off our hands. God loves us enough though to place us in these situations to refine and purify us.
This point here struck me in the very core of my being as I listened to this sermon last week. If you read my most recent blog or you have spoken with me about my first year of teaching you know a little bit about the struggles that I went through last year. Last year felt like one of the longest periods of my life—it seemed to drag on and on and on. There was no end in sight, and it seemed that near the end things couldn’t get any worse. I kept telling myself that there was a purpose in all the adversity that I kept facing however it was like being blind and trying to trust the voice you hear guiding you through an adventure course. I knew the voice was there, however I lost confidence in the purpose of the adventure course. It was in the challenges of last year though that God was working to make me more like His son. I will readily and enthusiastically admit that I would have never placed myself in any of those situations last year just so that my spiritual character could be refined and so that individuals around me could see the wisdom and grace of God displayed in my life. I’ll admit it—I’m shallow and lazy, and I would prefer that life were easy. However, because of God’s love and purpose for me, he stuck me straight into the fire. I am thankful for this though because I learned sooo much and I am far more confident and aware of God’s purpose for my life and career as a teacher. I think the only thing that can help us endure the pain of our dying seasons is knowing that God will complete his perfect work in us until the day of His return (Philippians 1:6). Take heart in your season of dying—there’s nothing fun about it but you can be confident that God is at work in your sanctification.
Finally, you can have heart knowing God is at work in your influence. In verse 12, Paul says that while death is at work in us (our dying season), life is at work in you. We may be going through a death season, but this death will produce life in you. Your reaction in your death season will speak volumes about what and who you have hope and endurance in. Don’t under estimate the power and ability of God to use you in the lives of friends, family and complete strangers around you. May they be encouraged by your patient endurance. May they be strengthened by the hope that you display in the eternal God. Remember—someone is always watching. Make sure they glean God’s character from your life.
In closing, take heart in your journey as Christians. We have a faithful and all powerful provider who has the perfect plan for our lives. Don’t box him in. Don’t underestimate him. Simply be encouraged by what you read in God’s word, knowing that God wants to refine you, make you better and use you for the glory of His kingdom. It may be hard and uncomfortable but God will never abandon you. Trust in him. Have hope and endurance.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Over the course of the past year I experienced one of the most challenging periods of my life, which also happened to be one of the longest time periods that I remained challenged. There were many things that I was challenged with as a first year high school teacher, but in short, I was dealing with a very ungodly group of parents who consistently challenged my authority in and out of the classroom. I was astounded with the claims that they made against me and I was often left reeling after meetings with my administration trying to process the lies they had told about things that I had supposedly said or done. In addition to learning how to teach, I was now being forced to deal with a situation that I felt was very out of control and very unfair. I knew that God had a purpose in this situation but it wasn't clear which was very frustrating. In fact it wasn't clear until about eight weeks into my summer vacation. Through lots of prayer and reflection, as well as a series of conversations with a friend, it had become apparent that my difficulties with these parents were made even more difficult because I had allowed my job to become my god. Every decision I made, whether it be about spending my time or money, revolved around my commitment to my first year teaching job. This shift of focus from God to work compounded my feelings of being overwhelmed, dissatisfied and completely worn out. I had chosen to serve my job over serving my God.
It has been two months since God made me aware of my sin and my tendency to give everything over to my career. Since then God has helped me desire to lead a more balanced life that is centered on desiring and choosing God. This change in perspective has also reminded that my job is not my identity. I am once again confident that I am a daughter of the living God who has a purpose for every moment and situation of my life, no matter how challenging. I am thankful for this realization, as well as the changes that have accompanied it. It is my prayer now that I will live more consciencly in the reality of my relationship with Christ.
More to come later this week on not losing heart...
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Jephthah's story was my pastor's illustration of the striking difference between faith and knowledge. Jephthah had a deep, strong faith in God however along with the rest of the Israelites at the time he was lacking a thorough understanding of God. Jephthah acted on his faith, knowing that God would allow for His victory but he made a costly mistake in promising to sacrifice whatever came out his door first upon his return home. Had Jephthah better understood God and his revealed word, he would not have made this promise to sacrifice.
Think about your own faith--what is deeper/greater? Your faith or your knowledge? Or are they fairly balanced? Is it because of your knowledge which comes from hearing God's word (Romans 10:17) that your faith is greater than without hearing God's word? I know that I have struggled with this concept in my own life. I believe in God but sometimes I am fairly unable to describe why, which constitutes a lack of understanding of God's word. The more I study the bible the better able I become to make connections between my life and God's teaching. I pray that you will desire just as much knowledge about God as you do faith in Him--I leave you this analogy to encourage you to do so:
Think about the ocean: the sand between your toes, the ocean mist, the sound of waves lapping at the sand. The moist air, intense sunsets, and seagulls begging for food. Now, think about studying a map of the ocean. Which is more of an experience that you would desire: being at the ocean or studying a map of it? The answer is pretty obvious--being at the ocean. Now this experience is sufficient for those who desire to dabble in the ocean from the seashore, however if you were to navigate the ocean it would benefit you far more if you had studied and knew the map inside and out. The same is true of our relationship with God. If you desire to know God at the edge, then the exhilirating experiences you have on occasion are sufficient. However, if you plan on navigating the rough waters of life then it would be in your best interest to study God's map for your life--His word.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
God is love.
God is good all the time.
God offers salvation to everyone.
God will forgive 7 x 77.
God can move mountains and water.
God can do what He wants, when He wants with or without me.
With this knowledge I should be living my life with confidence knowing that God is in control and has a purpose for my life; I don’t do this though. Oftentimes I let my current circumstance or strongest emotion dictate my outlook and perspective each day. My inability to live life in light of God’s unchanging nature really struck me though when I read the following excerpt from Choosing God’s Best:
“(Max) Lucado tells about the time his two-year-old daughter fell into a swimming pool and almost drowned. Fortunately, a friend saw her and pulled her to safety. ‘The next morning in my prayer time’ he says, ‘I made a special effort to record my gratitude in my journal. I told God how wonderful He was for saving her. As clearly as if God Himself were speaking, this question came to mind: Would I be less wonderful if I had let her drown? Would I be any less a good God for calling her home? Would I still be receiving your praise this morning had I not saved her?’”
Wowsers, Max is right. Is God any less powerful when something doesn’t happen like we expect it to? Is God any less generous when we can’t keep up with the Jones’? Too often I find myself living up to worldly benchmarks. My standard for evaluating how good my day was if I was in a good mood all day or if I had to do anything difficult. Wow, when I type that it sure sounds really shallow. I am a daughter of the living God, and I know without a doubt that His character is not shaped or influenced by the world. He is good, awesome and powerful regardless of the day-to-day struggles and emotions I encounter. Why then do I allow myself to only live up to my worldly potential? I am limiting my life for God because I am so short sighted that I can’t even remember that God is good all the time regardless of what happens in the present.
I ask for God’s ever present spirit to shake me up today so that the first thing I think of is how consistent and good and present He is in my life. Having a good hair day, or not getting cut off in traffic don’t influence whether God is good or not. He does influence my reaction to events like these though and I can choose to have a godly outlook or a worldly outlook. I pray the same for you—remember that the world doesn’t affect God’s attributes. He is the same good, loving, and generous God in good times and in bad. I pray that I might choose to honor God’s will in my life even when I don’t understand why or how it is being enacted in my life knowing all the time that God is unchanging in His goodness, mercy and desire to mature me.
Monday, July 21, 2008
"True love is a decision that is consciously made. It is as much an act of the will as an emotion. Love is a sacrificial commitment...Christ showed ultimate love by His commitment to die on the cross. His choice to die was based on His love commitment, not a feeling. No feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity or even to last at all. That's why love isn't just a feeling but a deep unity maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit."
God's love for us is this--a conscious choice maintained by His will. If I were in God's position and my love were simply an emotion, I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't be loving my children as consistently and mercifully as He does--my emotion (love) would probably go out the window after the 45th time my children sinned the same way. Are you with me? I know we are not on the same level as God so comparisons like this aren't totally valid, but I wanted to put it in perspective.
Applying this concept of love to my life becomes eons easier when I can apply it in concrete terms of a choice that I can make. Emotions are so fleeting anyway--in my case my emotions tend to be delayed making it harder to consider them in any decision making process. What kind of "love choices" do I make on a daily basis? I often times choose to love myself above others even in the simplest of ways. My mind is often crowded with questions and insecurities that focus on my comfort and my security. I think love is illustrated in our lives when we put other's best interest before our own. Or maybe when we sacrifice something that we want for something someone else wants. These decisions can be quite simple and easy to maintain over time, especially considering that we get to make the choice.
I pray for God's help this day to make godly choices when it comes to loving others. Because my emotions are primarly self-centered and self-seeking, I ask for God's help in consciously choosing to serve others by loving them. I pray for God's help in making these choices a habit with my family, my friends, peers, strangers, students and yes, even the crazy parents that I have had to deal with this past year. Love can be manifested in simple ways in our lives and given both directly and indirectly to those around us. I pray that I remember that Jesus is more than enough for both of us, so I don't have to worry about "what about me?"
Sunday, July 20, 2008
I want so badly to be captivated by, in love with and consumed for my Lord Jesus; I can never seem to wrap my head around this concept though. I have this huge road block in my head that doesn’t allow me to make a clear connection between what these actions look like when manifested in my life. I know that when you’re in love with someone you’ll do crazy things that don’t make sense to other people and I guess the same would be true of being in love with Jesus so much that it makes you appear crazy to other people. Imagine how much this concept is magnified though when talking about God.
After an honest evaluation of my heart though, I know that I’m not living crazily for Christ. I guess you’d probably describe my lifestyle as more of a fondness or affinity for God. I actually don’t even know if that’s accurate. If you’re reading this, take a look at your own life be very honest with yourself. How often do you think about God in a day? Even better, how many times in a day do you deny yourself a selfish desire so that God’s will for your life may be honored? I know that our relationship with God doesn’t come down to numbers and statistics but I am trying to get you to look at your heart in an objective way rather than rationalizing your way out of this. I do the same thing—I’m not that bad of a person you know? I’m usually nice to people, even first thing in the morning, and I only gossip on occasion. See, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. I’m always letting myself off the hook because I place a cap on my ability to live for God based on worldly benchmarks. I hate that about myself. I know the only judgment that matters is God’s so I should only evaluate my heart in light of that knowledge.
After evaluating your heart, think about what you’re doing that might illustrate your passion and zeal for God. Is your life an unmistakable portrait of a God-centered life? Sometimes? Only on Sundays? Our lives aren't meant to be lived in a compartmentalized fashion where we only chase after God with abandon when it’s convenient. At the very core of who we are, we've been designed to live a pure life in pursuit of God’s purpose for our lives. I know that our lives are not about “doing” enough for God but on the other hand, think about how you are honoring God’s love and sacrifice that he patiently, persistently and consistently showers upon your life.
I pray for your passion, your heart and your unquenchable thirst for God’s living and breathing word. Run after him….even if you don’t know what it looks like. If you’ve even the slightest glance of God you’ll know that He’ll be tickled if you do because He knows your heart.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Tonight, I learned several things about this parable that I hadn't bothered to think about before. The rock can represent Christ or his word. The sand represents the world. The storm represents the ultimate test of our faith: judgement. So far these are parallels that I had made before, or something similar to them. But here's the new part for me--what do the men represent? First, let's look at what they have in common. Both men in this parable are building their houses, and since we're looking at symbolism, let's say these houses represent the lives they are building based on their relationship with Christ. Both men heard the same words from Christ. It can be assumed that both men built their houses (lives) in similar locations and experienced the same storm. Well, what's different then? The result!! When the storm came one house remained while one washed away.
When applying these parallels to our own lives there are several things we can learn. As Christians we are hearing the same Word of God. After hearing from God we all set out to build our lives based on God's teaching that reflects change, correct? But our lives look different and can be built on different foundations depending on our obedience and adherance to God's word. While our lives look similar from the outside, they may be stunningly different on the inside. This difference will allow varying results to occur in our lives as Christians same as it did with the houses in the storm. If we truly build our lives on God's word, then our lives should look different as we bear godly fruit and become more Christ like; when judgement comes we can stand confident knowing that our lives were different because of Christ. If we attempt to build our lives but choose to only have the shell of a Christian life, choosing a worldly foundation, then we too will find that our lives are washed away when judgement comes.
Now here's where I want to take this a step further--I think we have a responsibility to each other as Christians to make sure that we are all building on the right foundation. Sometimes it's easier to maintain a shell that makes it appear like honest change in our life has occurred and that we are bearing fruit for God. But how do we know that our friends, neighbors, colleagues and Sunday school peers are truly building their life on a godly foundation? This is where we have to dig deeper and build relationships by asking sincere questions and truly caring about those in our lives. It's really easy to come home at night and shut the garage door while your neighbor is shouting hello. Why don't we take the steps to build relationships, both with those we think are Christians and with those who are not? It's hard to discuss matters of the heart with people if you don't know the daily matters they struggle with. Make an effort-dig deeper so that you know what foundation your family and friends are building on.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
-Sunsets (in Arizona, Florida and anywhere in between)
-I selfishly enjoy the silence that envelops me when I wake before anyone else
-Working--indoors, outdoors, it doesn't matter; there's a lot to be said for something earned through your own sweat
-Food: eating it, talking about it , reading about it and even thinking about it
-Listening to my niece Gracie learn to talk
-Watching my nephew Pete run from the fridge to the couch in the living room (he learned this game from his elder siblings)
-Holding Jake on my lap when he reads to me
-Seeing Dylan smile her toothless smile
-The smell of a horse after a long day's work
-The smell of freshly cut grass
-The smell of sunblock--oh it brings back memories of my childhood
-Morning chats with my mom
-Cooking with Gretchen (my sister-in-law)
-Watching my mom and dad together now that all of us kids are grown and out of the house
-Receiving a letter from Martin, my Compassion kiddo
-Knowing I share my heart for God with someone
-Preparing food to serve others
-The intoxicating smell of coffee
-Watching Gator football and Wildcat basketball
-Eating hamburgers and sandwiches with one hand
-Those little cartons of milk that you got to drink out of in elementary school
-An unexpected hug from a student
“But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.”
1 Samuel 12:24
Monday, May 19, 2008
"That reminds me of a woman 2000 years ago who understood the value of leftovers. Her little daughter was demon-possessed, so ill she could not travel, but her mother had heard of someone who might be able to help, who even then was in hiding from the crowds on the border of her country. It took a lot for her to seek him out, first leaving her sick child in someone else’s care, then approaching this Jewish rabbi, a type who had either reviled or ignored her all her life; but a desperate mother will make any sacrifice to save her child.
"Sure enough, even though she addressed him by the Messianic title, “Son of David,” he answered her not a word, Mark 7:22,23. Still she persisted, and this time she was insulted—he called her a dog. Oh, he was nicer about it than most, using the Greek word for “little pet dog,” kunarion, rather than the epithet she usually heard from his kind—kuno, ownerless scavenging dogs that run wild in the streets, but still he made her inequality in his eyes obvious.
"This woman, though, was ready to accept his judgment of her, Even the dogs get the crumbs, sir. Moreover, she understood that was all she needed. This man, whose abilities she had heard of from afar, was more than just a man, and even the tiniest morsel of his power was enough to heal her child, even from a distance."
Do I have enough faith to believe that even a drop of God’s power and strength could change everything in an instant? I like to think so, but is it true? I’m doubtful that it is. I put God in these boxes that limit him based on my worldly tendencies and inclinations. Why? Because I am short sighted and weak. I do have short and very sweet glimpses of God’s hugeness and it’s those brief moments that keep me coming back for more.
Lately I have really been struggling with the purpose of my recent challenges and struggles with parents but this put it in perspective. Am I humble enough to accept God’s plan for my life, even if it’s not what I expect or want? I haven’t been. I’ve been saying that I know there’s a plan in all this but have really struggled to lay down my frustrations and confusions over everything. Have I approached God with contentment and confidence, knowing that if God wanted to and needed to He could change the circumstances in my life that seem to be a thorn in my side? Nope. I want to accept the circumstances of each moment with complete contentment knowing that God designed that moment for me. That it is his best for me.
I pray that you move through today with such confidence and hope in the same God that the desperate mother sought out.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
"Would you open up my eyes so I can see? Would you open up my ears so I can hear? Would you open up my mind so I can know? Would you open up my heart so I can love you more?
"I want to serve You, my God. I want to give you everything. I want to serve You my king, I want to serve you my Lord, I want to give you everything.
"Here I am with my arms open wide. Asking for You to come up, up inside. Won't you make me new? Won't you make me true? Jesus, Lord, won't you make me like you?"
I've really been wanting to want Jesus more--kind of funny, wanting to want. Sometimes I struggle with even having the desire to want Jesus more. Do you? When I really break that thought down and try to picture what wanting Jesus more looks like, it's then that I get stuck. (That's usually what happens when I try to figure God out.) But this song really put it in perspective for me. Yes, I can want to want but I need to seek God out to help me see him, hear him, know him and love him more.
From the inside out, from the roots up, I want to become more like Jesus. I know my actions, attitude and words don't always portray that (not by God's standards they don't) and that is why I praise God for his mercies that are new each day. For his patience that has no end in sight. For his desire for me. It blows my mind to know that God wants me.
Anyway, this post is a bit off. I pray you honestly want to be more open to having God in your life. Like the crazy K-Mart lady--don't you just want to kneel at Christ's feet begging him to open up to you? To pour himself into you? To make himself known to you? Ask him to open you up.
Monday, January 21, 2008
In all of our relationships, God demands that we live in an obedient manner to him. We are to be kind, no matter what. We are to forgive, no matter what. Bottom line, we are to consider others' needs before our own. We are to love, period. There is no "except when" statement in any of these. We often get in this pattern of thinking that asks "what about me then?" Or, "how long am I supposed to do this?" God's answer is a resounding, "FOREVER." We are to love, serve, forgive, and be kind forever. Regardless of the reaction or reciprocation of those around us, we are to live lives in pursuit of God all the time. God doesn't say, "I only want you to love this person as long as they are nice to you." God wants us to love forever, regardless of the actions of anyone around us.
A friend from church emailed this audio clip out from a marriage counseling session. The topic is obedience as it relates to marriage but the concept of obedience forever can be applied to every area of each of our lives. http://www.chris-bence.com/temp/Marriage.mp3
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
1st picture: The front view of my house.
2nd picture: This a picture of the big grassy space that served as runoff storage during a huge storm--the field sits just northeast of my house.
3rd picture: My kitchen...
4th picture: Just to the right of the kitchen sits my dining room...
5th picture: Still rotating to the right is the living room.
6th picture: My backyard--small jungle or what?? I am tackling this task this weekend with my shiny new lawn mower (thanks mom and dad)!