Thursday, December 11, 2008

Joy Accepted

Last Thursday night I did not sleep well. I went to bed around 1:00 a.m. and did not go to sleep till closer to 2:00 and then woke up at 7:30 and could not go back to sleep. This is a bigger deal than it might at first seem. I usually need 10 hrs of sleep and if I don't get them, then I have no energy for the next day.

I was hoping that I could survive the morning and be tired enough to take a nap, but no such luck. The entire day I had about as much energy as when you are trying to get over a cold. It was a hard day.

If it was just a cold then I probably wouldn't be writing about it, but try to imagine what it would be like, not to have a cold for an entire year, but to have a new cold every three days for a year. You're just pulling out of the old one, you're thinking about everything you want to get done now that you're getting better and WHAM! . . . you feel bad again.

After a while you buy into a couple of new fears, ones you thought you would never experience. Fears like, "If I go there I might catch a cold again; I think I'll stay home." "I would plan on that but I just don't know if I'll be feeling well enough to do it." "What if I think that I'm better and I go do too much and have to go through this all again?"

I know it sounds pitiful but this is a good sampling of what I've struggled with. Not often given in to, thank God, but definitely struggled with.

So, on Friday, I was feeling very down both physically and emotionally. I actually recovered from the loss of sleep pretty quickly; By Saturday, I was doing well again. My emotions did not bounce back as quickly. In fact they went from feeling down to feeling depressed.

I hate to use the word depressed, it sounds way too serious, but that is what I was. I was not feeling sorry for myself, I didn't have a bad attitude, my heart just seemed so heavy that there was a literal tightening in my chest.

I wondered if I should set aside time to talk to God about it, but I couldn't think of anything to talk about. I wasn't focused on something besides God. So, I waited it out. I was open to what God might be doing, but also trying not to take myself too seriously.

Sunday morning I wrote 'Peace Found', but Sunday evening I finally admitted to myself that I was depressed. Then I began to wonder, "Was I fooling myself about finding peace? Was I just trying to be spiritual to impress others?" The answers were a resounding "NO." I did have peace; I found peace and I still had peace.

I started trying to explain what was going on in my heart to a friend. As I explained it to her, it began to make more sense to me. The best way I could describe it was stored mourning. It seemed like everything emotional that had gone on in my life and in my heart the past few months had just built up. Now it was demanding attention when all the reasons to mourn appeared to be old.

I told her I wished I could just cry but I couldn't. Then, God gave me my wish. I started to laugh at something and my deep emotions caught a ride on the tail of my surface emotion. I cried, and cried, and cried.

Of course I was analyzing myself the whole time I was bawling my heart out. "Why am I crying? There is nothing to cry about. Get a grip on yourself. You're just having a pity party." But none of it was true.

The truth was there was a lot to cry about. I cried for the pain in my family. I cried for my own pain of being sick. I cried for the Christians who are getting slaughtered in India. I cried for a girl I know who is determined to try everything but God to soothe the ache in her heart. I cried because the pain of these things is real.

When I was done crying the quietness came that usually follows tears. Then I went to God, "Lord, I have peace, but I have pain, too. I have peace but I don't have joy." The thought came that I just wanted joy because it feels good. Then I thought of Nehemiah 8:10 " . . . the joy of the Lord is your strength." and Galatians 5:22 "The fruit of the Spirit is . . . joy." God said that I needed joy.

"Lord, how do I get joy?"
"How did you get any of the other gifts I gave you?"
"By faith; I accepted them. Lord, I accept joy."

I didn't feel any more joyful, but I've learned not to be worried when my feelings don't line up with God's word. These past days joy has been poured upon me.

I worried momentarily that I only had joy because my circumstances were more enjoyable, but if I had faith to accept joy when I didn't feel it, why should I not have faith that I received the true gift when I do feel it? Feelings come and feelings go, but I have accepted joy.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Peace Found

God spoke to me today. I didn't really like what He had to say but I always love the sound of His voice.

Someone was teaching about responding to God's call. How do we respond? Do we try to shirk it? Do we grudgingly accept it? Do we thank Him for it? Do we run from it?
So I started talking to God.

"Well, let's see. You called me to be a missionary and I thanked you for it. Man, I can't wait. You told me to buy a spinning wheel, I was a little less sure and enthusiastic but I did it and now I'm enjoying it. Can't wait to see what that's all about either."

"What about being sick?"

"Yeah, what about it?"

"How are you going to respond to that calling?"

"You called me to be sick? To be lonely? To feel worthless? To not be able to serve you? To barely escape 24/7 crankiness? To be a burden on my family?"

No answer. Just that feeling that He was looking at me and we both knew an answer wasn't needed.

"You did, didn't you? Okay, I accept Your calling on my life."

It wasn't grudgingly, I didn't thank Him for it. I just accepted it. I'll probably have to accept it again tomorrow. It reminded me of the last line in this poem by Amy Carmichael.

In Acceptance Lieth Peace
He said, "I will forget the dying faces;
The empty places,
They shall be filled again.
O voices moaning deep within me, cease.
"But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in forgetting lieth peace.

He said, "I will crowd action upon action
The strife of faction
Shall stir me and sustain;
O tears that drown the fire of Manhood cease.
"But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in endeavor lieth peace.

He said, "I will withdraw me and be quiet,
Why meddle in life's riot?
Shut be my door to pain.
Desire, thou dost befool me, thou shalt cease.
"But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in aloofness lieth peace.

He said, "I will submit;I am defeated.
God hath depleted
My life of its rich gain.
O futile murmuring, why will ye not cease?
"But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in submission lieth peace.

He said, "I will accept the breaking sorrow
Which God to-morrow
Will to His son explain.
"Then did the turmoil deep within him cease.
Not vain the word, not vain.
For in Acceptance lieth peace."
~Amy Carmichael

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Beginning of Wisdom

Proverbs 1:7 says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom . . ."

I have been unintentionally pondering this verse for a while now. It just seems to come up repeatedly. I don't know if my few faithful readers have caught on yet, but I have met with the grace of God in a life transforming way. I had always heard of the grace of God but I somehow only experienced or understood His judgment.

If you don't know me very well, and you listen to some of the things I say, you might get the idea that I believe that we should sin that grace may abound. I don't. If I remember rightly that verse concludes with, "God forbid!"

It is true that I no longer focus on sin or perhaps put much stock in it at all. What I mean is that my sin, as well as any thing I might be proud of, dims to very nearly nothing when I am focused on God.

Was the thief on the cross not being repentant enough because he had the boldness to ask Jesus to remember him? No, he wasn't focused on his sin at all. He was well aware of it, I think to be hanging on a cross you would have to be well aware of what got you there, but he was even more aware of who Jesus was.

But now I'm starting to get into deep water. Which brings me back to the verse I started with.

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom . . ."

I think that sometimes we Christians interpret this verse to say, "The fear of the Lord is wisdom." It isn't. If we are always stuck fearing God then the gospel wouldn't be as good a message as it is. But, if we do not have this foundation to wisdom we have nothing to build on.

Why was a revelation of God's grace so life changing for me? Because I was well schooled in the beginning of wisdom.

To many are afraid of the message of God's grace, afraid that we will forget that He is holy, righteous, and cannot tolerate sin. That we will no longer desire to be holy ourselves. That we will abuse freedom.

The truth is that grace is only grace if we first understand the law. Freedom is only understood when we have felt the bondage of sin. The love of God is even more precious and revered when we understand His anger against sin. These things go together. The fear of God should not be taught without grace to quickly follow it up. But grace isn't grace unless we recognize our peril.

If the fear of God is the foundation for our relationship with Him then He will build to staggering heights. If we insist that He continue to build with fear, then we will be stuck with a very sturdy concrete slab.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Skipping Tracks

I sat down to post a profound article. The only problem is that my brain is skipping tracks like an old CD player right now.

Track 1 Captives
I see people's pain. Like a person who is good in any field of work or interest recognizes another person who understands the same thing, I recognize people in pain. People who's hearts are broken, bitter, lost, confused. Funny thing is, the people who are in pain don't admit that there is anything else. They are captives who have never heard of freedom.

Track 2 Captivity
Just because someone is capable of giving freedom doesn't ensure the captives get set free. The captives first have to realize that they are captive, that there is something more. Second they have to be willing to walk out of the cage. I don't think there is anything more frustrating and heartbreaking than a captive who is afraid of freedom.

Track 3 A Glimpse of Freedom
God is a person who wants a relationship with us. We've all heard that before, but what does it mean? Think of the good relationships that you have. (Hopefully you have a few, they seem to be rare.) How did they happen? What are they comprised of? Relationship can only happen if two people are willing for the other to know them. The only way to know anyone is to be with them, experience life with them and speak/communicate with them. If you don't believe that God wants to communicate with you on a relationship level it's going to be real hard to get to know Him.

Which more or less brings me back to Track 1

I'm not sure why I'm posting the skipping tracks of my brain, but there they are for the rest of you who need some new tracks to skip on.

Friday, October 3, 2008

My Comforter

I just read a friend's post about God's severe mercy. I think we can all identify with 'severe mercy'. Why doesn't God ever work in a way that we expect, in a way that we understand? It all sounded too familiar and what I've been learning started to come together in an almost cohesive form. I'll start with a few excerpts from my journal.

September 21st, 2008
. . . I feel like life is to much to handle. I heard someone teaching that the idea that You never give us more than we can handle is a lie. I'm inclined to believe him. You're goal isn't for me to handle it, but to surrender, give it up, quit. Ah! How I hate to be a quitter! It isn't being a quitter to leave off a bad habit. I guess handling life is a bad habit.

I don't feel as though I've been trying to handle it. Have I? Have I been trying to deny the pain again? I suppose so. It is so 'normal' to be in pain. I can't be crying every day. . .

September 29th, 2008
. . . My heart is so dull. I try to think of something that would ease the pain but there isn't anything. Mom just suggested that I ask for a word from You, but I know better. You give words when You want to and just because I'm in pain doesn't mean that You will. So, I don't ask, because a denial would be worse than not asking. I can't take any more hope deferred.

That sounds so wrong. Am I bitter at You? I know that You are my comforter. Why am I not comforted? Or, do I take Your comfort for granted because it never goes away? What am I to do with my pain? I wish I could take it off like a heavy coat in fine weather.

Now I must qualify these excerpts. They are small blurbs that I chose to make my point. I don't live in the depths of despair, though I do usually journal somewhere near there. The pain that I mention in these is not physical. If you are living right now, I think you'll be able to identify in some measure. Life hurts.

In the excerpt where I wrote about being comforted and a word from God I felt as though even God couldn't say anything that I didn't already know. I didn't believe that He would or could give me comfort in that moment.

After these depressing outpourings I went and read some Psalms. (When I was little, I couldn't stand the Psalms. David is always in the depths of despair or in the heights of joy, often both in the same Psalm. I just wrote them off as dramatic and sappy. Be careful what you judge.) I was comforted. I can't tell you how. I can't say that I got a word from God. No particular verse seemed to apply, nothing even noteworthy.

When the day first got quiet enough for the pain to come to the foreground I had many options. I could have watched a movie, read a book, got on a computer, talked to a someone. These are all things that I have done in the past. The former few make me forget the pain for a little longer; God has used people to comfort me in the past. This time though, He called me to Himself.

First I was honest; I used to call it whining but God told me it was honesty. As I did, He started to speak to me. The phrase, "quitting a bad habit isn't being a quitter" the place where I say, "That sounds wrong" those weren't my ideas. Then, I didn't have anything else to say and He didn't seem to be saying anything either, so I went to the Bible.

As I read He kept using little phrases or words to make me think of things, that reminded me of things, that reminded me of Him. He redirected my focus when I couldn't see anything but pain.

Because of this, I go to God quicker and my expectations are healed. I no longer fear more crushed hope from the only one who can revive my hope. My heart now believes, as my head has for a long time, that when I come to God my needs will be filled. So what if I can't explain how? I no longer fear that He might not speak to me. I'm okay if He doesn't. He is satisfying. I will have to return again, but who ever complained that an enjoyable experience had to be repeated?

I hope this gives you as much hope as it does me.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

In Me

"All believers say in a general way 'God is Almighty', 'God can do this or that'. Only one in a thousand says, 'God is almighty in me' and 'God will do so and so through me'. Here lay the essence of Moses' controversy with God at the burning bush. God was saying, 'Come now, I will send thee, and thou wilt deliver My people'. Moses was replying, 'I believe You can and will do it, but not through me'. God's almightiness was not the point in question. It was Moses' appropriation and obedience of faith that hung in the balance. Thus when Moses did set forth to carry out the commission, the Holy Spirit rightly says it was done 'by faith'. The same difference in the quality of believing makes the dividing line between Elijah and the other 7,000 true believers who had not bowed the knee to Baal, and yet who had so little influence on the lives of their generation that Elijah did not know of their existence."

-Norman Grubb
Touching the Invisible

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I have been thinking a lot lately (surprising isn't it) about being. It seems like God's answer to all my questions lately are about being. What is it about us Human Beings that being is so foreign to us?

I saw a piece of flair that had a picture of a salt shaker and a light bulb with the statement, "Be these." It got me to thinking that I have always been puzzled as to what to do so that I am the salt of the earth and the light in the darkness. But, of course, it doesn't say do these, it says be these. I think this is just one instance of many that Christians in general don't understand. Here is the actual verse:

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men." Matthew 5:13

"You are the salt of the earth . . ." Not, "You are becoming . . ." or "Strive to act more like . . ." you either are salt or you're tasteless.

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. " Matthew 5:14-16

Again, you are. You are the light of the world, you are a city set on a hill, don't think that you can hide. He has lit His light in us and set us on a lampstand, we do give light to the whole house. So, let your light shine.

You may be thinking, "Yes, I've always known that, so what is your point?" But this is very important to me because I have not always known it. Of course I've always read that verse, probably heard it preached on, but I was always wondering how to become light, or how to become salt. In short, I wondered what God expected of me and why He wouldn't come out and say it.

If I sound like I'm repeating the same old thinking in every post it's because I am. I keep posting about the different areas that a totally new way of thinking have changed for me, on the faith that there is nothing new under the sun and I'm not the only person who has ever thought this way.

I now realize that these verses are not commands, they are blessings. Jesus is not telling me something to do, He is telling me who I am. I am not the dirt of the earth, I am the flavorful and (at that time) expensive salt of the earth.

Of course, being does culminate in acting. But, please get the being first.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Measuring Suffering

Today I was talking to God about a situation I don't like. Here are the facts:
1) I have very low energy 99% of the time.
2) I can't do much
3) I can't plan much because I probably won't be able to do it when it comes time to follow through on my plans.

If you have any imagination you can understand how frustrating this is, not just for me but for my family and anyone else who might be counting on me. Today I had to turn down another opportunity that I really wanted to accept, and it broke my heart. That may sound dramatic, but it was really the straw that broke the camel's back. I didn't fall into a puddle of tears, but I did go tell God what I thought about it.

I told Him that I wanted to be where He wanted me to be even if it meant in weakness and uncertainty. I told Him that I didn't like it, I really don't like it, but I want what He wants. Then He started talking to me about comparing suffering.

This is not the first situation that I have been in that I didn't like. But, not liking something sounds so petty, even selfish. I kept telling myself that it's really not that bad, that I should be grateful, that I should quit feeling sorry for myself. All of this is true, but it's only half of the story. The other half of the story is that my not liking it isn't sin, in fact what I'm going through is suffering.

"Suffering is having something you don't want,
or wanting something you don't have."
~Elizabeth Elliot

Can this be true? Suffering must be more complex. Surely, true suffering is more noble.

We are only human. When we stub our toe we call it pain. When a body is racked with cancer we call it pain. Greater pain and lesser pain we all agree, but pain none the less.

Another interesting fact about pain and suffering: they can only be measured by yourself in yourself. Only you can say that one pain is greater than another for you. No one else has felt what you feel. No one else can know like you do.

We always act as though it can be measured and compared. We measure our pain and suffering by one another. "My not having energy is not as great a suffering as your losing someone you love." True, no doubt. But I was going the next step. "My not having energy is not suffering because your suffering is worse."

Even as I write this it seems to make sense, but I know it is not true. We would not use this logic in any other area. It becomes preposterous.

"My feet aren't even really feet because yours are bigger." or, "Your black paper isn't really black because I have a black wall."
My black paper isn't as big as your black wall, but big or small, black remains black.

Strange as it may seem, when God gave me freedom to call my little problems suffering, my self-pity pretty much left. I am suffering. It is uncomfortable. I don't like it. I know it is for a purpose. I know it brings me closer to God. I know that God is in it. I do have joy.

"But when they measure themselves by one another
and compare themselves with one another,
they are without understanding."
~ II Corinthians 10:12 ESV

Monday, April 28, 2008

Life Preparation 101

I like to be prepared. I fluctuate between being a person who is over prepared or a person who did not prepare at all. But at my core, I like to be prepared. I also don't like to fail. I dread being put in a situation that I don't feel prepared for because I might fail.

Having been home schooled, I always wonder if I am as prepared as they are. I fluctuate between feeling silly pride that I am better schooled or prepared than the average joe, and abject terror that I am not at all schooled or prepared.

I have been graduated from high school for two years. Still the question looms. Am I prepared? What is being prepared? What am I preparing for? Am I too focused on the future to realize that my life is happening today? I am not in college, I don't know of anything that I want from college. Two years ago, I was terrified of college but I can honestly say that fear is not what kept me from going. I didn't, and don't believe that college is the way God would have me prepare.

In the past two years, I have alternately taken and lead a discipleship course. I have been at home on and off as well. I found out that my being able to sleep twelve to fourteen hours a day is not normal and was on bed rest for a month. My relationship with God has been rebuilt almost from square one. I had a part time job at a horse barn. I found out that I want to own sheep.

So, if college is not the way God lead me to prepare does that mean that the way He has lead me is preparation? I can tell you very specifically what I want to do with my life. Simply put, I want to be a mother to troubled children, but there are many more details that God has given me. He has given me a dream. In America, when you have a dream you make a to-do list of how you are going to accomplish your dream.

My dream is different. My dream is a gift from God, and as a gift He has told me that He will accomplish it. It is a lot like giving someone the picture of the gift you had in mind for them because it is still in the mail. You don't give someone a picture of the 'gift' and then tell them to buy it themselves with their own money.

As I was pondering this I found that it is a very biblical concept, this giving a dream as promise of a future gift. Joseph was told that he would rule over his family and he became a slave and was sent to jail. Moses was groomed to be an Egyptian prince and became a convict and a sheep herder before he became the leader of his nation. David was anointed as king and went right back to doing odd jobs at home.

I don't see anything in these stories that would be recognized as life preparation except by the eyes of faith. I happen to have a pair of Eyes of Faith and they tell me a surprising story. God uses day to day life as preparation. I've had a lot of daily days, and to believe by faith that I am prepared for tomorrow is relieving.
"If God is for us, who [and what] can be against us?" Romans 8:31

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Enemy . . . God's Errand Boy?

It is common among Christians or those familiar with Christianity to ask the question, "If God has won the battle forever, why is the fighting still going on?" I have spent more than my share of time pondering this question myself. I never came up with a satisfactory answer, I just believed both statements without being able to reconcile them. Lately, I have heard more than one person explain it rather well. So, I'm going to try, using my own words but their concepts.

First, God and Satan are not equal powers duking it out in the sky. God created Satan and keeps him in existence. If at any time God willed that he no longer be in existence *poof* that would be the end of him, no fighting or battle necessary at all.

So why does God allow him to keep hanging around!!!

Because God is the ultimate teacher and He knows humanity. He really knows humanity, with a kind of knowing that we only dream about.

If you think about how children learn perhaps you will catch on to why Satan is necessary. Children learn opposites. If you teach a child the color pink, without teaching it any other color then it will awake to the realization that everything is pink and be quite pleased with its knowledge.

None of our words would mean anything unless they had an opposite. Think about anything, color, temperature, emotions, taste, noises. Try to describe any of it without using the opposite or difference of another thing and you have nothing left. That, in itself, puts Satan and evil in a new perspective.

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7)

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. (Genesis 50:20)

Is it possible that just as Joseph's brothers plotted evil against him while God plotted the same thing for good, that Satan plots evil against us while God plots good? Is it possible that Satan is an unsuspecting tool that God uses to bring us to Himself?

"It doesn't matter, really, how great the pressure is; it only matters where the pressure lies. See that it never comes between you and the Lord--then the greater the pressure, the more it presses you to His breast." -Hudson Taylor

One last thought: The evil, or suffering that God divinely planned for our lives does not press only ourselves closer to God. I believe that as Joseph tells his brothers ". . .to preserve many people alive." So the suffering in our lives serves a dual purpose, to preserve many alive. As is prophecied in Revelations, "They overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony. And they did not love their soul until death." (Revelation 12:11)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Just for Fun

You're the perfect blend of caffeinated coffee and decaf. You're the happy medium between high-intensity focus and spaced-out daydreaming. Maybe you think you're indecisive, because you tend to choose the safe, middle ground in any debate, but other people appreciate your non-confrontational ways. You're easygoing and willing to compromise, so your friendships and relationships probably last a long time.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Always Copied, Never Duplicated

I saw this phrase on an advertisement a few months ago and it really struck me how this applies to Jesus' life. As Christians, we know that we are called to be like Jesus, but how? It is much more simple in word than in action.

When I first heard that I was supposed to be like Jesus and that He was going to help me, I was quite excited. I reasoned that, in a few years, when I finally became like Jesus then I would be happy. If you have ever tried to be like Jesus for yourself then you are probably laughing at my childishness. We find rather quickly that copying Jesus, although it is a good first step, is not enough. We can never duplicate Him and that is what we are called to do.

I have been reading C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity and he explains this mystery better than I could. He says, "In one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, 'You must do this. I can't.' "

That is the point when we realize that all our copying has not produced duplication. When we do despair of duplicating Christ's life then what recourse is left to us? We must recognize that He is His own Life that is in us. "God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery . . . which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27 NASB)

I turn to C. S. Lewis again: "Handing everything over to Christ does not, of course, mean that you stop trying to do all that He says. . . If you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you."

Truly it is an amazing mystery which only God can reveal to us. We can only copy; yet Christ duplicates Himself in us. If you find that what I write seems to be very important but you are not sure that you understand a word of it ask God for understanding. He will explain far more perfectly than I or even C. S. Lewis could. Much of what I read and hear I know that I need to understand but I don't. Most of my writing is not even so much to convince anyone but to think it out myself.

One more quote from Mere Christianity, "The Bible really seems to clinch the matter when it puts the two things together into one amazing sentence. The first half is, 'Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling'--which looks as if everything depended on us and our good actions: but the second half goes on, 'For it is God who worketh in you'--which looks as if God did everything and we nothing. . . I am puzzled but not surprised."

I do encourage you, if you have Mere Christianity in the house to read the second of the chapters entitled Faith. (Yes, two chapters have the same name.) If you do, tell me what you think.

Friday, March 21, 2008


I have always been told that I have a choice. Sometimes I didn't like either choice, sometimes the choice was obvious, sometimes I couldn't decide between the two choices, but there was always a choice.

My mother was the first person to make me aware of these choices. She would encourage me with statements like, "I can't make you choose to obey, but I can sure make you want to choose to obey." or "You have two choices: a) Clean your room with a good attitude or b) Get a spanking and then clean your room with a good attitude."

Good or bad, I knew that the choice was up to me. When I got older I was a lot better than some people at making good choices, because of the help my mother gave me in my very early years. Unfortunately, 'a lot better than some people' was not the standard that I was taught to live up to, I knew that only God is the standard.

Choices were getting bigger, more important, and harder. Encouragement was no longer enough. Sometimes I chose to do what was right, sometimes I chose to do what was wrong. When I chose right I was full of pride, when I chose wrong I was full of guilt.

I used to believe that the most important choice was between doing right or wrong. Now, instead of many choices between right and wrong actions, I believe only one choice is necessary. I must choose between believing God or believing a lie. Whom will I believe? Will I believe what I see and experience as reality or what God says is reality?
  • " But God . . . raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. . ." (Ephesians 2:4-6)
  • For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)
  • For he who has died is freed from sin. (Romans 6:7)
  • "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. . ." (Galatians 2:20)
  • Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
If I choose to believe whatever the Truth says, regardless of what I feel or see, will not right and wrong fall into place? Why is wrong attractive? Because we believe the lie that it will satisfy us or make us happy. Choosing to believe God will never lead me to sin but it will bring me back to God quicker if I do sin.

It is much more freeing to say, "I believe you." then it is to say, "I obey you." Used to, I obeyed God because I feared Him, and I said I believed Him because I had to obey Him. Now, I believe God because I trust Him, I obey Him because I believe Him.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Works of God

Therefore they said to Him, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?"(John 6:28)

When I understood and believed that Jesus, being the Son of God, died for my sins so that I might have life in heaven I asked this question too. I was eager to please and was quickly given an answer: read your Bible, pray, tell others this good news about Jesus, be nice to everyone, go to church every Sunday, find a ministry in the church. Just to name a few.

I tried that for about eleven years. At the end of ten years I was not as sure that Jesus was good news and at the end of the eleventh year I KNEW He was not good news. He had promised me joy and left me with guilt, promised acceptance and provided condemnation, promised peace and left me with torment that I could never do everything that He asked. I was angry, betrayed, and told God that He was a liar and a fraud.

I told Him I was not going to try any more. I could not sleep that night (yes, I could only stay that angry for most of one night.) I was between a rock and hard place. I could not go on as I had been, but I could not get rid of God either. In my very deepest being, in spite of the evidence, I knew that He was my only answer. That is when I realized that "I will never leave you nor forsake you." wasn't just a gushy, feel-good promise but somewhat of a threat.

There was a purpose for all my striving and trying to work the works of God. It was to come to the absolute certainty that only God can work the works of God. After I had initially believed Jesus, that He was the Son of God as He said He was, I accepted what other people told me that Jesus wanted of me. When I was fully burnt out, I was ready to be refocused on Jesus Himself and what He said He required of me, and not what others told me about Him.

Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent." (John 6:29) Now here is the "light burden and easy yoke" that I was promised. At first sight He says that our work is to believe Him. But, when you look closer He calls even that the work of God.

Is this too simplistic? Is this passivity? I really would like to know what you think. I think that it would be ridiculous for God to require something of us that we cannot do. Jesus plainly stated, "I can do nothing on My own. . ."(John 5:30) If He could do nothing on His own what do you think that we can do? My conclusion is that God both wills and works His good pleasure in an unexplainable mystery.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What to Do?

So often we ask God, "What do You want me to do with my life?" Then we expect the answer in a five to ten year detailed map of a very straight road that leads to God's goal for our life without any interruptions or changes of direction and all the loose ends tied up. Hmm.

Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go . . ." (Genesis 12:1) Just "Go?"

For a while, God and I had an ongoing conversation like this:
me: "What do You want me to do? A or B?"
God: "Go."
me: "Great! Do You want me to go A or B?"
God: "Go."
me: "Why won't You answer me?"

C. S. Lewis said, "There are only two times that God is concerned with, this moment and eternity. God did explain His answer to me. He asked me, "Do you know what I want you to do today?"
"Then I have told you everything you need."

Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go . . . to the land which I will show you . . ."(Genesis 12:1) I don't want to go to the land that God will show me, I want to go to the land that He has shown me. But, it is usually in the going that God reveals to us the land.

There is such pressure for us to have 'A Plan' for our lives. If someone asked Abraham, "What are you going to do with your life?" What would his response have been? "Well, I feel that God has called me to wander around the known world." Personally, I would much rather tell people that I'm going to be a marine biologist and save the whales.

God has revealed to me exactly what He wants me to do with my life, but it is hard to explain to those who ask. He has not given me a year plan, or even a month plan. I have a rough draft of the week's plan with the caution, "Subject to sudden and drastic change" as its headline. He has told me to go.

Today, I know that I should clean up the residue of our family vacation. Tomorrow, I will take the next step in starting my own sheep business. I'm not sure how a sheep business will further God's plan for my life, but it is something He has given me an interest in. I take the next step by faith, trusting that He is leading me where He wants to as I keep taking one step at a time.

Home Life

My AE girls went home from Dallas March 1st and I took Paige and Grace to my sister's farm in the booming town of Dodd City. I came home in time to vote on Tuesday and Grace and Paige then visited me Thursday and Friday. When they left on Friday afternoon my family and I left on a spring break trip. We got home yesterday around midnight.

Now that you are bored and updated with my schedule I'll talk about real Life. Life is much more real than schedules or even the situations that seem paramount to us.

Being home is very different than being in 'ministry'. People always seem to respect those who are not at home, whether it's for a career, college, or what is labeled ministry. "At least they are doing something" is the apparent feeling. I agree that it is good to do something, and all those things are good things to do. But isn't there more to the story?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

An Update From Dallas

I decided you all really deserve an update. I can not say that I haven't updated because I am madly busy. God has been teaching me that my worth does not lie in busyness, so I haven't had as much to do as I would like. At the same time, He is teaching Paige (Director of AE) to accept her limitations and let Grace and I do our job of supporting her, so I have more to do recently. He puts people together in the most amazing ways.

All three of us are totally new to these positions, Paige's training was minimum, mine was none, and I think Grace's was somewhere in between. None of us really knew what to expect work wise. We knew how it was supposed to look from a student's view but we weren't sure what our jobs would be to make it look like that. It has been an adventure.

I could fill you in on our schedule but frankly it's rather boring and mostly routine. I'd much rather fill you in on the hearts of the girls but I'm afraid I'm not really qualified to say what is in their hearts. Therefor, all that I'm left with is God and me.I'm not sure how qualified I am to put that into words either.

As I was planning on helping with AE I was not sure how wise it was to come because I was so tired at home that I was almost on complete bed rest. I came anyway because I felt like God wanted me to in spite of the 'logic' of the decision. When I got here I found that Paige was in the same situation. Between the three of us (when Paige delegates) there is just enough work to keep us busy and give Paige and I more time to rest than most people need. God is teaching both of us that our sleeping is for Him as much as our working is for Him. My heart is doing very well because God created it, He bought it, He wooed it, He loves it, and He keeps it.

It seems that God's theme for all of us this AE is that He is the Pursuer. So often we get into the mindset that God is, at worst, actively hiding from us or, at best, passively sitting on His throne waiting for us to stumble upon His exact location. I do not advise running from God just to see how long and hard He will pursue you. However, I do advise letting your pursuit of God be full of joy in the knowledge that every time you seek Him, He is there. He is not hiding from us, He is chasing us.

Everything here is going according to schedule; not always according to our schedule, but always according to His.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Leaving Again

In about an hour, I am going to Dallas again. This time I am serving as one of two assistant directors for the Advanced Excel program. There are eight girls in the class and three of us leaders.

Please pray for me and the other two leaders, Paige Advanced Excel director and Grace assistant director, as this is our first time to be in this role and we are still learning the ropes. Paige and Grace have been in Dallas the past week getting things in motion.

Pray for the girls who are coming to be discipled and will be going home to disciple. Pray that the subjects they will be learning will not be a distraction from God but a new place to meet God.

We will be keeping up a blog from Dallas if any of your are interested you can find it here.

I love you guys.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Another Chance to Trust

Lately I've been thinking a lot about church, not in the theological sense of the word but the church as America knows it. Particularly, I've been thinking about my church. I have gone to it for about eleven years now, and like the people you live with, its consistent failings were beginning to rankle however minor they might be.

A bad attitude, liberally sprinkled with pride, was right beneath my smiling exterior. I knew that my emotions were wrong. I knew that any other church, being full of people like myself, would have failings too. I knew that this was the place I had grown up in and loved. I didn't know how to accept its failings without either growing bitter about them or pretending they didn't exist.

After telling God how I felt and what I thought a couple of times, talking to my Mom repeatedly, and eventually talking to some well trusted friends, I still didn't have a fully satisfying answer. The question itself was less than half understood in my mind. I didn't know exactly what I was struggling with. I think that I trusted God to explain it to me; I know I was worried about how long He was going to take.

Yesterday, in adding up the ideas He had put in my mind through my talks with Him and the people I trust, He put the cherry on top and everything fell into place.

There are always going to be events and people that I disagree with or think are downright wrong. Many of them will affect me, all of them will affect someone, and most of them will be out of my control. There is only one right way for me to react to any of them: leave them to God and be alert to see His presence however it may arrive.

The faults of my church are not that bad, honestly. The lesson I learned because of them will hold me in good stead in situations that are much worse. If I can trust that any choice that any person makes is the will of God for me then I have nothing to be bitter or worry about. God only gives good gifts.