Sunday, May 29, 2011

Where is your devotion?

Life comes at us fast. We make choices every day that reveal our heart's first love. How are we spending our time? What are we spending our money to buy? Who are we spending time with? Where are we going? What are we thinking about? What do we worry about?
All of those things are an indication of the object of our devotion. Are we living each day in a posture of devotion to God? Are we processing the events of our lives through the lens of God's word? Are we thinking of Him each day, as we plan our schedule and start checking off our to-do lists? Have we checked in with God and asked HIm what is on His agenda for us to do today?
And what is most important in our lives today? Are we keeping the main thing the main thing? So often we do get preoccupied with important things to the detriment of the most important thing!
For example, I relate this to our homeschooling adventure. I am striving to have a God-focused agenda for our school days. I am praying to see all of my kids love God with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength. And to love others as they love themselves. And to become fishers of men. And to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with their God. To be a good friend. To help those who are hurting. To give to the poor. To serve the body of Christ. To reach out into the world and make a difference for the next generation in every land! These are lofty goals. And, I believe, godly goals. And along the way, as I teach them to follow Jesus, I hope they will learn to read, write and work math problems. I hope they will embrace all that we read of history as HIS story. I hope they capture the perspective of the Creator as we study all that He has made. And I hope they will appreciate all of the gifts that God has bestowed upon man as we appreciate art and music.
So often, the important things (learning to read) can drown out the more important things (learning to love). My desire is to see the atmosphere of our home, the routines of our daily life, and the relationships we have with one another, all come together to culminate in people who are truly Christ-followers.
Our worldly culture tells us otherwise. Weekly I have to drown out the opinions of the majority in order to hear the God who is near. He whispers the reminder, softly, gently, and with love: "Seek first my kingdom and my righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you as well." And so I rest.

the Good News

Ok, so I realize this might not be real news to many of us. But it has been revealed to me slowly after many years of relationships and people-watching, analyzing, processing their 'stuff.' Nobody has it all together. No one has the perfect life. The perfect spouse, parents, siblings, children, in-laws. They don't have the perfect neighborhood (no matter how fun, and friendly and wonderful it looks; nope, it's not perfect.) They don't have the perfect relationships. Mommy and Daddy are not really Barbie and Ken in real life. They are mostly more like Fred and Wilma or Lucy and Ricky. But not edited for family television. Most people have interactions in their home that they would like to rewind every day! Don't you? I do. For sure. Take back that look. Change that tone of voice. Not say more than needed to be said. Not to have yelled, threatened, freaked out crazy-mom style........Yes, many opportunities present themselves daily in which we show our true colors. What we are really like when the Pastor isn't over for dinner or the church friends aren't watching you 'discipline' your unruly children........Many opportunities to fall into sin and selfishness in our relationship with our spouse. Forgetting that we are called to put the other first. Forgetting we are commanded to love in relationship like Christ loves the Church! Forgetting that God ordained this marriage and we are HIS chosen vessels that He wants to use to accomplish His purposes on this earth! That's big stuff! But that's the good stuff! The bad news is, nobody is perfect. The good news is..............(drumroll please~~~~~~~~~~) WE HAVE A SAVIOR! We know a guy who can change everything. He can change us into the people he has planned for us to be. Don't get me wrong, we still might not look or act or think perfectly, but we will be in the process of becoming the kind of person that God wants us to be! We can seek to honor God in all of the interactions throughout our wildly busy days. Waking up. Getting up. That can even be hard for some of us! Taking care of our loved ones. Loving them well. For this, we must get down on our knees and ask for that supernatural infusion of holy grace-love-kindness good-stuff that will enable us to 'spill' love, hope, peace, goodness, faithfulness, self-control, when life tips us forward and back or we get bumped real hard. What oozes out of you when Life hits you hard? It's good to know we have a friend that will always be there for us. He never leaves. He is always fateful. He loves us enough to inspire our hearts to WANT to change. To WANT to be holy. To WANT to be kind in the face of meanness, to WANT to turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, take the worst spot or get to go last. He changes us when we stop looking at one another (and how perfectly perfect every piece of their life SEEMS to be) and LOOK TO JESUS for the picture of what perfect is! He is the goal. He is the prize. Why we live, laugh, love, work, play, learn, move, grow. He is all we need and he is all the inspiration we need to stop comparing ourselves and our lives to others and to commit to building up others in the body of Christ and loving them in their 'imperfections,' and also to keep hitting the ground with our knees, asking Jesus to change us, make us new, make us like Him so that we can do this LIFE His way! Because in the end, it's what HE thinks of our lives that matters!

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Real Deal

What does authenticity look like in our day and age?
What does it look like to live in abandon to Jesus Christ in May, 2011?
I think the real deal of life is finding out these answers. And we find freedom when we know what we are living for. Lets flesh this out a little bit. Jesus says to seek Him first. In all things. Not to worry. About anything. Not food. Not drink. Not clothes. Let alone laundry, vacation plans, relationships, sleep, money, weather. Nada. He wants us to bring it all to Him. And Seek Him first. Consider Him before we start to fret about whatever is on our plate today. Then, after we have put our problems in proper perspective, to go on with what we need to do, in freshness with renewed hope and joy. Because we can do anything by the power of His Sprit He gave us. As we seek to walk with Him in this relationship of faith, we grow daily through the exercise of depending on Him, submitting to Him, listening to Him, obeying Him. This is the abandon.
We leave self and our fleshly, worldly, temporal desires and we go to Jesus. We exchange our 'poor reflection' for the real deal. We are still being made into that beautiful person that God created us to be. We are changing from glory to glory to better reflect our Jesus to the world. But we cannot change if we are not submitting to God on a daily basis. We cannot change if we are living in our own strength, conquering our troubles with our own ingenuity. No, He has far better plans for us. When we depend on Him, we are free. We can enjoy whatever He brings our way, because we are with Him. We can do ANYTHING when He is with us. And we can't do anything (God-glorifying, of eternal worth) without Him. Let us seek Him today and ask Him to help us let go of our worries and instead, lean into Him, resting, trusting, knowing that nothing that comes our way is out of His control.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tethered to Jesus

"Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." Psalm 124:8

Do you need help? I do. And I know many others that do right now. Healing from pain. Recovery from illness. Restoration of energy. Renewing of mind. Cleansing of heart. Newness of spirit. Hope for tomorrow. Rest for weary ones. Encouragement for the downtrodden. Patience for the ones at the end of their fuse. We need Jesus. Yes, Help is in His NAME. JESUS. Come and help us.
Jesus is with us through all of our days. He is our help. Why don't we remember to ask Him to meet us in our moments of need? Even if the solution is slow in coming, Jesus brings peace when He meets us in our moment. He gives us new courage to face the next moment. And that's all we have to do. Face the next moment, holding the hand of Jesus. We can face anything when we are tethered to Him! Can we not?
Each day can throw new things our way. Sometimes we are startled and unprepared. The best way to respond is to take it to the One who Knows. The One who is There. Jesus. He knew the moment would happen before it happened. He is always before us, every step of the way. He knows our need before we ask. What do you need to ask Him for today? He is already making a way.

Remember the old hymn, 'oh what needs we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer."

Don't carry your burden alone today. Jesus is offering His shoulder. Why would you refuse?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Naked with Candy

We had a special guest speaker, Jill Baughan, for our Spring Event yesterday. She shared a very engaging lesson on the importance of seeing and savoring the moments that are in front of us each day! She titled her message, "Naked with Candy." Yes, let me explain!!! She encouraged us to seize the moment and take it for what it is worth. Pay attention to little moments. Be like a child, embracing each moment. She defined Naked: Free to be who you were created to be. And, Candy: anything that is sweet in your life today. Seize the moment and celebrate it! Be in the world, present and in awe....paying attention to what's in front of us. (For example, admiring the sunset, appreciating the neighbor's lawn, taking time to 'smell the roses.') Talk about the sweet things in your life, give them voice! This makes our experiences deeper and more real. Or, write it out......journal, email, text........write a letter ~ anything to share your candy!
She also encouraged us to celebrate moments. She suggested that we be generous with our compliments to others and about others. And, even putting our words on paper so that friends can cherish them forever! Another fun suggestion was to 'shoot it out!' meaning, to take pictures of moments a lot more and share them! For example, keep a photo diary; each day a photo of something good in my life. Take pictures of your day.....something good that happens even on the challenging days. Little things, like a license plate that says "Pray Big." Agree with a friend to take pics of your day and share them back and forth. Take fun pictures and put them in a prominent place, display them, put them in albums! We need to make these memories of moments concrete!

God is giving me moments today--(am I going to be too busy or too sad to enjoy them?)

Naked with Candy: Being free enough to celebrate whats on your table today!!

All of us have had broken hearts, but also many blessings and many longings. Life is a mixture of longing and abundance. We all wish some things were different, and we all have many things to be soooo thankful for! Sadness and sorrow are a part of life. JOY and sorrow walk side by side together through life---we just gotta learn to pull from the JOY!!!
Ecclesiastes 3 states that there is a time for everything....mourning to dancing. Even in hard times there are stellar moments when we are in Christ~there is always joy in that deep relationship with Him. It's time to resurrect it and pay attention! Think about your childhood, where you are today, and where God wants you to go in the future......Listen to your life and see it for the mystery that it is! All moments are key moments and Life itself is grace!!!