Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A World With No Savior

I ran across this in my inbox a few weeks ago and have thought about it a few times. It is a weekly message from James McDonald and it brings forth the idea of "Where Would We Be Without Jesus?"

I don't have a lot to add to what he says about it so I'll link to the article and let you read for yourself, but as hopeless as the world seems sometimes, can you imagine how much more despair we'd feel without the saving grace of Jesus. I mean, talk about hopeless. No light of the world. No comforter in the Holy Spirit. Nothing but judgement and law. No grace. Had Jesus not accepted the cup that was His to bear, our lives would still be...but they'd be much different. A timely message as we consider the birth of our Savior.

OK, I was going to link to it, but I can't find it! So I'll paste the text from, "The Weekly Walk" email I received below. To visit James McDonald's site to to walkintheword.com

Where Would We Be Without Jesus?
"And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?' And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, 'Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals.' " - Revelation 5:2–5

Revelation 5:3 says, "And no one in heaven (no angel) or on earth (no living human being) or under the earth (no dead human being, certainly not Satan) was able (worthy, had the weight) to open the scroll or to look into it." Now if Christmas had never happened, that would be the end of the story.

Take a minute and think about that. How dark would the darkness in this world be without the Light of Christ who is the Word of God? John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Jesus is the Living Word of God who tells about the written word of God. Try to imagine if Christ had never come. John 1:14 says, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth."

Back in Revelation 5, John says, "I began to weep" (v. 3). Not a child weeping; kids cry a lot. But an adult weeping at the prospect of being without the revealed Word of God, the Apostle John began to weep - loudly. The word refers to a very intense, bursting forth of unrestrained grief. That's what he felt when he considered the prospect that God's Word would not be known.
Revelation 5:5 “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered…” (has overcome; that’s a reference to His death and resurrection), so that He can open the scroll."

Jesus Christ, the Living Word of God is the only One who is worthy. Only He has the weight to bring the Word of God to us. Jesus Christ is the Revelation of God's Word to us.
That's why Isaiah 9:2 says this, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of deep darkness on them a light shined." Where would we be without Jesus? Just think of it. We would not have the Living Word. We would be without the Light! We would not have the written Word. How dark would be the darkness? Impenetrable. Instead, we have great news: "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (John 1:4–5).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Beating the Holiday Stress (or ANY stress for that matter)

Proverbs 3:5&6: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

I'm continuing to read Linda Dillow's book as I've referenced before, here and here and here. The current chapter I'm reading, "Bowing My Life," contains some comments the author included from other readers about turning everything over to God. Each set of comments pointed to partial submission, maybe 98%, but still mentioned that bit of control held in reserve should they need to "take care of things themselves".

I tried to examine my life. I'd like to think God has FULL control. I pray about decisions, even minor ones. I look for God's leading and the Holy Spirit to be evident in situations. So do I still hold a reserve of control? Are there still some keys to this life that I haven't turned over?

God is beginning to show me that there are. It isn't really my finances. They belong to Him. It isn't my job or decisions to be made in our home. They belong to Him. So what is it?

It isn't really as much a what, but a feeling. A situation will come along that affects me. Maybe I didn't see it coming and I really didn't cause it but it is there. And when I think about it, my neck gets tense. My mind whirrs (or as Thomas the Train would say, a thought flies into my funnel). I begin to stew, think, problem solve. (This is really hard to explain.) Sometimes I'm even determining how I will make this right, or in certain situations, how will I make the other person realize they are wrong. Yes, I do that sometimes.

But as the mind turns I feel it in my body. I'm taking over. I'm deciding the fate. I'm making the judgements and I'm deciding the outcome. I feel tense. I'm holding some of the keys that belong to God. Left unchecked or unrecognized, this feeling grows into actions - sins. I treat someone badly. I say hurtful things. I let an attitude steal my joy. I let my desires stear the will of God into the wrong direction. I'm beginning to see this.

So how can I fix it? Well, so far I haven't, but I am learning to recognize it. Feel it. And when I feel that tense feeling start in my neck, I stop. Stop thinking. Stop talking. Stop worrying. And I say three little words. ALL THE KEYS.

This is my declaration. This is my prayer to God. This is my stress relief. ALL THE KEYS. As in, all the keys are Yours. I give this situation to You. I release it to You. I will no longer try to weigh it myself. Immediately the tension is released. The mind is calmed just like the waves must have been when Jesus told them to be still. A peace is found.

Do I do it perfectly all the time? No. I let it go too far sometimes and I mourn for the joy I've lost. But I'm getting better at it. And I'm so enjoying the joy that comes from giving God all the keys to my life. Have a blessed Monday.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tornado Warnings and Sleepless Nights

I don't really have anything profound to add to the scripture I found last week, but it has spoken to me several times. It is itself profound in its message. It puts every other worry or issue to rest. It puts everything in God's hands. It is definitely a hard concept to accept for those of us who like to think we have some level of control, but we don't.

I guess I live according to the second half in some way. I've never bought a weather alert radio or stayed up glued to the tv during a storm. I always felt like God would let me know and if it was my time to go, and no hiding in the bathroom would change that :)

"Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves." Ps 127:1-2

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

God's Glory

To pretend I understand God's glory would be a lie. I read a lot about God's glory...that the heaven's declare it, it can so fill a room that people can't even see, it can leave a group of people, people can worship in it...it has many dimensions. I think in my existence I have probably never experienced God's full glory. Maybe no human can. I'd like to think I've seen or felt glimpses of it. I know that I want to feel, see, experience God's glory but that it requires that so much flesh dies that I fear I may never be able to get to that point.

I was listening this week to a song on the radio. It is a song I've heard a lot of times by a band I'm not really that fond of so I've never really thought a lot about the song. But this week a phrase in the lyric really grabbed my attention and I think it holds real meaning for me at least. The lyric goes, "When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory." Pretty simple line, but these words have become powerful for me.

First, can you imagine that being in God's glory, even a little bit of it, can totally eclipse (blot out, make you forget) all your afflictions? That is huge. Why? Because that is what holds most of us back. We spend so much time worrying, pondering, sulking, wallowing and otherwise focusing all our thoughts and efforts on fixing/dealing with our afflictions.

Then, what if everyday we entered into a moment of worship that brought us so close to God's glory that we could walk out into the day totally focused on God and not our afflictions. What a different group of Christians we could be. Maybe that is how the disciples were able to walk away from their businesses and families and follow Jesus. Most of us would have worried sick about everything going on at home, but I think they were so close to God's glory when they walked with Jesus, that their afflictions were totally eclipsed.

So how do we use this in our lives? Well for me, I've been trying to keep this lyric in my mind. When a situation (or a person as it often seems to happen) begins to put my mind in a place where I feel oppressed, stressed, afflicted or irritated I just remind myself that I would much rather have God's glory than feel this affliction. I remember how much greater it is to be in His presence than to be stressed out by this trivial thing. So far, that has given me much more grace in dealing with tough situations. I'm not saying I don't feel the weight of afflictions, but God's glory is beginning to make that weight feel much lighter. Give it a try.

*Disclaimer - I'm on the road and ran out of time to proofread. I hope there aren't too many typos!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Get This Book!

Ok, I've been reading the book referenced in the last post, "Satisfy My Thirsty Soul" by Linda Dillow and it is WONDERFUL! It is really targeted at women (based on a lot of the examples she gives) but there are quotes and stories from some of her male friends and basically everything in there applys to any child of God.

If you've been looking for a personal bible study or even just a book to read a few pages at a time before you go to sleep, I would definitely recommend it. If you are a women who just feels spiritually tapped and low on joy, this book is for you. If you can't even find five minutes in the course of a day to say a prayer to God, this book will give you some ideas. Check it out!

One of the things the author focuses on in the early chapters of the book is finding quiet time to worship the Lord and get face-to-face with Him. I have always tried to maintain a daily (ok, more like a few days a week probably if you average it out) personal quiet time in the Word and in prayer but I'll be honest, it is HARD TO DO. I don't know if anyone else has experienced this or not, but inevitably someone walks in, the phone rings, the baby is crying, the toddler is whining, the dryer is dinging, you name it and it tries to distract.

When I don't get my quiet time and I'm not able to spend time with the Father, I begin to dry up mentally and spiritually. I just feel like I'm empty and have nothing left to give. Sometimes I don't even want to speak to anyone I feel so devoid of any goodness from God at that point. I think the author of this book gets it. Even the title, "Satisfy My Thirsty Soul" hits is right on the head.

So how can we get filled up again? We've got to spend time alone with God. Praising Him for His goodness, listening for His voice and lingering in His Word. Finding this time is going to become a priority in my life - I can't live well without it. This may mean the baby has to stay at daycare 30 minutes longer, this may mean I have to take a half-day off from work once a month just to renew my spirit, this may mean I have to ask one of my friends from church to watch the baby.

Whatever it takes, this has to become priority. In my past I would have used these methods to find time to get my lawn mowed, go to the grocery or clean out my garage - but now those things are going to move to a lower priority. If I'm going to be a good wife, mother, worship leader, friend, Christian, believer - I have to get my priorities right. I have to move from the Martha mentality of service to God being #1 and become like Mary, putting the relationship with God #1. I'm declaring this to my blog reading friends and would encourage you to examine your relationship - is God your "one thing".

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A New Book

I've started reading a new book. It is called "Satisfy My Thirsty Soul for I Am Desperate for Your Presence" by Linda Dillow. So far it is very good and I'm excited to continue with it. It has a bible study guide in the back of the book too.

This book is teaching me how to look deeper into the way I worship to not only glorify God but to enter into a face-to-face intimacy with Him. Well, at least as face-to-face as you can get with the presence of God - we know that no one can look upon the face of God but we can still have those moments where we are so deep in His presence that we feel it is just the two of us and we are CLOSE.

The first chapter of the book talks about the author's quest to find what "intimacy" with God really looks like in the scriptures. She mentions Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus when He was in their home and how she was focused on Him and not all the other things that go on when the Saviour of the World stops by for dinner. She says Mary was focused on the "one thing". She also looks at Psalm 27:4 where David declares the "one thing" that he is searching for.

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

Probably the most profound statement the author has made so far comes from her realization that she had it backwards. She had spent her life as a worker for God like many of us have. Thinking that if we just give more time, more effort, more money then eventually that will lead us to a deeper relationship with Jesus. I have done this. I'm probably doing it now. I spend way more time being a worker in the kingdom than a lover of God. So how should it go?

The scriptures say the greatest commandment we have is to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. This is first. Not love him with our efforts, or our possessions but with our very hearts, minds, being. Are you in love with God? Does just working on your intimate relationship with Him occupy the most of your time and efforts? I can't say yes to this. I spend much more time trying to do things and fix things for the kingdom than I do getting to know the Father.

So how do we begin to find this intimacy? The author says that worship brings us to that place of communion with the Father. David probably shows this better than anyone through his many Psalms of worship. One technique revealed in the book so far is the ABC's of worship.

Begin with the letter A and worship with words in your quiet time that glorify God - "You are Almighty, Amazing and Always there for me" then to B, "You are Blessed and Beautiful to me. Better is one day in your presence than any others", then to C - You get the picture. It is actually a very interesting, and challenging way to worship. If is forcing me to think of the ways I describe God and the wonderful things He does for me. More to come from this book I think, but in the meantime, you might give the ABC's of Worship a try.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ups and Downs (Mountains and Valleys)

I've been reading in the Psalms for the past couple of months. I think I have read that entire book a couple of times before, but you know how the Word is living, right? And everytime you read it, you hear a new message. And each time the message is deeper and wider than it was before? I love that about the scriptures. It isn't like reading the same story over and over again (or in my case mostly, like watching the same movie over and over again). Every time you read it the story is fresh and new!

But anyway, I've been reading Psalms. Some of the other things I read about leading worship or being lead worshippers is that you should be reading in the Psalms - so I have been. When I read scripture, I try to put myself in the mindset of the author. A large portion of the Psalms was written by David.

Now besides being the youngest son of Jesse, slayer of the giant Philistine, king, musician and songwriter, he was a worshipper. Many of his passages and phrases are embedded in songs we probably sing every Sunday at church. Try these on...

Just from Ps. 8 alone comes "O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" heard in the song How Majestic Is Your Name. And this opening line from God With Us by MercyMe, "what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" from verse 4. I Will Call Upon the Lord has strong ties in the first verses of Ps 18. Ps 42 gives us "as the deer panteth for the water." So the Psalms are full of songs written by worshippers.

Obviously, David wrote Psalms like Chapter 18 when he was feeling very thankful and blessed. He says things like, "The Lord is my Rock" and "He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters...He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights." David is feeling very connected to God here I think. He feels like God has been there at every turn to show him the way and that he really trusts God will take care of him. I love this. I want this feeling.

But then you read some of the rest of the Psalms and you hear a very different song. Flip to Psalm Chapter 13 and David says, "How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?" Yikes, major change in perspective. David feels alone, empty, lost. He doesn't know where to go. He doesn't see the path. He feels like his enemies are pressing in on him.

And so David's song goes. A constant up and down. Sometimes he feels like he is on the right road and sometimes he feels like he's lost in the wilderness. Man I can identify with that. We want that constant contact with God but as we see, even with David who was "a man after God's own heart", there are going to be mountains and valleys. Times when God feels far from us. Why? I wish I knew. Maybe we let sin in. Maybe we are the ones walking away. Maybe like the parent who is teaching a child to ride a bike, God just has to take the training wheels off a bit and step back to see if we are going to fall or ride on this time. Whatever the reason, it is a stretching and preparing for something better, bigger. And just like in Psalms 42:5, we will yet praise again!

"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." Ps 42:5&6.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

7 Hebrew Words for Praise

I was at a conference in July and one of the speakers was Jeff Deyo. He is the former lead singer for SonicFlood and now he tours with his own band and is a fantastic worship leader (or lead worshiper as he would call it). In one of his sessions he commented on the fact that in Hebrew, from which much of the bible was translated, there are a lot of words that ultimately got translated into the word praise. Another way to explain it, the Hebrew had several words that dealt with what we might consider praise, but since we only had one word to translate them too, some of the detail got lost.

This is very interesting to me. As a worshiper and a worship leader, I struggle with what praise to God should/could/would look like. I hear all kinds of opinions - worship should be traditional like it has always been (which really means "always been in my memory"), people should praise in any way they feel comfortable (which usually means as long as I feel comfortable when they do it in my presence) and many more opinions.

I try to go to other churches and see how they praise. I see a huge spectrum of differences from church to church which really makes this idea that there is more than one way to define praise seem believable to me. I am no expert on this but I'm beginning to dig a little deeper into what the word "praise" should really be saying to me when I read it in scriptures.

Jeff Deyo has a couple of podcasts on this topic that are interesting. You can find them here. Here is a summary of the words he talks about:

1.BARAK – baw-rak – To kneel or to bow.
2.YADAH – yaw-daw – To worship with the extended hand.
3.TOWDAH – to-daw – To give worship agreeing with what has been done or will be.
4.ZAMAR – zaw-mar – To worship with instruments.
5.SHABACH – shaw-bakh – To address in a loud tone, a loud adoration, a shout!
6.HALAL – haw-lal – To make a show, to boast; and thus to be (clamorously) foolish; to rave; causatively, to celebrate.
7.TEHILLAH – teh-hil-law – A spontaneous new song. Singing from a melody in your heart by adding words to it.

So I guess when asked is praise raising hands, the answer is Yes. Is it kneeling? Yes. Can it be shouting? Yes. Can it be quiet and reverent? Yes. Can it be crazy and exciting? Yes. It opens up a whole new way to examine yourself and others as you worship. Definitely has me thinking...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

So long self.

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. It just seems like I haven't come across anything blog-worthy in the last few weeks. I wanted to share something I've been thinking about for a while.

Do you ever have those times when you handle a situation and then later in the day or later that night you think, "Man, if I'm really a Christian. If I really love God and His people, why didn't I handle that with more grace and love?" I can't seem to figure out why. I know what the book says and I know what God's heart is for His people, but sometimes I don't find myself having His heart when I have to deal with tough situations.

I've always liked this song by MercyMe. It is called So Long Self. It explains the abandon we need to fully realize John 3:30 that says:

"He must become greater; I must become less."

I've heard some translations that say, "He must increase, I must decrease." So to achieve the kind of Christ-likeness that helps us deal with situations like he would, I think we have to say, "so long self" and abandon our fleshly nature when we aren't in touch situations in hopes that it will bleed over during those tense times. Only when we fall out of love with ourselves can we love like the Father.

Enjoy the video.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Missional Living

The women who have been involved in our bible study over the past year will identify with this article. But it covers an area we didn't spend a lot of time on and that is sacrifice involved in missional ministry. This article brings up a common barrier. We want to do ministry in our community, but we want it to be convenient. We often lack believers who are willing to take on the full measure and responsibility of building a ministry out of the church. This is often seen as something the paid staff should champion and then we'll sign up for our turn to work. And while the paid staff do have ministry responsibilities, it doesn't make sense that all believers wouldn't/couldn't/shouldn't be equally involved in nurturing and growing ministry. You can read the full article here: http://members.worshiptraining.com/inspirit/?p=129

Monday, July 12, 2010


My daughter loves to watch the movie Cars where a little race car learns the lesson that people are more important than fame and that sometimes you must slow down to enjoy the good things in life. The first word spoken in the movie is, "Speed."

I'm reading a book now called "In Praise of Slowness." It isn't necessarily a Christian book but it does offer many ideas that appeal to the life of a Christian. The author is french, I believe. He says he got the idea for this book when he was waiting for a bus. He is the father of a toddler and writes that he was locked in the nightly tug-of-war over the reading of bedtime stories. His son wanted stories read at a meandering pace with attention to detail. Honore' (the author) would try to stear his son towards the shortest books and read them at a lightening pace in order to get this process finished up so he could return to email and other pressing things on his agenda.

Honore' was delighted to run across an article while waiting for the bus advertising a book called, "The One Minute Bedtime Story." A collection of traditional themes condensed to a 60 second format seemed like the perfect solution. He was about to hit the purchase button on Amazon when he says revelation hit, "Am I completely insane?"

It is this kind of reality that I'm beginning to find in my own life. My days have begun to resemble choreographed sets where if even one event or task is off by 5 minutes the entire schedule must be adjusted. Multiple changes of clothes must be packed in the car in the morning to accomodate the days events without a "wasted" trip home. Lunch hours are not spent as a break but as an opportunity to get one more thing done. Honore' sums it up well in his book when he describes:

"Tempted and titillated at every turn, we seek to cram in as much consumption and as many experiences as possible. As well as glittering careers, we want to take art courses, work out at the gym, read the newspaper and every book on the bestseller list, eat out with friends, go clubbing, play sports, watch hours of television, listen to music, spend time with the family, buy all the newest fashions and gadgets, go to the cinema, enjoy intimacy and great sex with our partners, holiday in far-flung locations and maybe even do some meaningful volunteer work. The result is a gnawing disconnect between what we want from life and what we can realistically have, which feeds the sense that there is never enough time."

Wow! That pretty much sums it up for me. And probably a lot of people I know. I could even take out some things like vacations, clubbing, sports, cinema and television and still feel like there isn't enough time. Speed is becoming an adiction for our society I think. I'll admit I've had a euphoric feeling of victory when I've conquered a hellish weekend full of activities that would make most cry without dropping the ball. There is a feeling of accomplishment, but at what cost?

At this break-neck speed what is being left behind? I'm not lazy. I'm not tired or burned-out. I'm not complaining about all the wonderful opportunities I have in my life. But I might be crazy. I might be deluding myself that just because I can do all things before me that I really should. Or that it really is a good thing for me or the ones I'm serving.

I guess what I'm looking at is quality. Or as Jesus would put it, fruit. John 15:16 says, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last." The fruit of a half-listening, over-stimulated, under-rested, overbooked, clock-watching Christian is probably not what He had in mind when He said, "fruit that will last." So how do we know what to do and what to leave? Seek God. Read Jesus' words. Pray to the Holy Spirit for direction. Wait. He will show us where the fruit needs to grow and He will cut out the things that bear no fruit.

My prayer lately has been, "Lord, shine a light in me. Find my dark places. Those things that I want that mean nothing to you." He will do this. He will show us the branches that bear no fruit. What freedom comes in the cutting off of dead wood! How much more room there is in our little clay pot (2 Corinth 4:7) for the filling of the Spirit when the dead fruit is removed.

I'll quit with one last thought from Honore's book, if you think you don't have enough hours in the day, check this out http://www.sleeplearning.com/
More info on Slowness at Honore's website http://www.carlhonore.com/?page_id=6

Monday, June 28, 2010

Waiting for the picture to clear up...

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)

I've known this scripture for years and I've heard it preached on for many years but I don't think I really understood what it means until now. (Actually, I probably still don't fully understand what it means. You'll see why in a minute).

As I've thought about how we wait on God and look for His plans, His direction, I realize that it is a difficult thing. I think we are used to a model that goes like this...I have a need. I pray for an answer. Then one of two things happens, I either don't recieve a quick answer and move on to other needs and stop praying for that one or I latch on to the first thing that comes along that might resemble an answer and I consider the case closed. Sounds about right, doesn't it.

Here is where I feel like the picture begins to get fuzzy. Recently in my own life I've seen some opportunities come along that looked very much like an answer to my prayer. They would have fulfilled the need I had at the time and they seem like very reasonable, good opportunities. So what is the problem, you might ask.

Well, even though my normal instinct would have been to jump on these opportunities like an ant on a cheese cracker, I felt something deep down that said, "Wait". I'm thinking to myself, are you crazy? Here is your answer. Here is your way out of this struggle. But I still felt that voice saying, "Wait." So I let that opportunity go by. This has happened 3 times now for the same need. I've seen a possible answer but it hasn't been God's answer. This is the first time in my life I have been presented with possible answers to prayers that I realized weren't God's answers. They were my answers. Man's answers.

I'm reminded of this scripture in Isaiah 30:19 & 21:

How gracious he will be when you cry for help!...Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

This gives me a promise to hang on to when I'm unsure about God's plan or His path. He will be like a voice behind me saying, "This is the way: walk in it."

Of course, now I'm really wondering how many times in the past I've gone down a path that wasn't really provided by God. I probably even gave Him credit for it and He's saying, "You came up with that one. You didn't wait on me. I had something even better planned for you. I had nothing to do with that."

So, where does the fuzzy picture play into all of this? Have you ever seen one of those optical illusions where in the middle of the page there is a small image, but as you widen your gaze you actually see that it is just a part of a larger image. Maybe you see a lion and then when you back out it is really a portrait of an old man? I tried to find one somewhere to illustrate but I didn't have any luck.

I think this is us as we are waiting. We finally get wised up and prayed up enough that we can see the smaller image. We see the lion and we think, "That is it. I've figured it out. I know God's plan." We accept that answer, good or bad, and then move on to other things. We are totally oblivious to the bigger picture - the bigger plan. Sometimes we need to wait a little longer. Pray a little longer. Be a little more sensative to hearing that voice from behind us telling us which way to go. We may never see the bigger picture.

The opening scripture said, "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror." We may not ever see the whole picture clearly until we are in the heavenlies with the Father. And I think that is why we have to try harder to wait on His plan. If we go off on our merry way with only the vision of the smaller picture to guide us, we may take the wrong opportunities. Only by waiting on that voice behind us can we know we are taking the right opportunities. Staying on God's plan.

Friday, June 25, 2010

While You're Waiting...

I still plan to post more on waiting soon...but you'll just have to wait :) I've had some new thoughts even in the last 24 hours that I want to share, but I ran across this today and thought I would share it. For our bible study group and those at church last Sunday for Tim's message, I think this ties together some things we've been discussing.

We've been talking about missional leadership in our bible study class based on a book by Ed Stetzer and Phillip Nation called Compelled by Love. It talks about taking the mission outside the church. And Tim made the comment last Sunday that just inviting people to church isn't enough. There is more to sharing the gospel. (shameless plug for his online sermons-click here )

A friend who pastors Trinity United Methodist Church in Paducah posted some info about what his church is doing to embrace missional ministry. He has some comments about their progress and a great video linked that explains a bit about missional living. Check it out here: http://ijoey.org/blog/?p=129 Good stuff.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


For the bible study group this will be a preview and extension of tonight's lesson.

Wait. This is a word I've been hearing from Jesus the last few weeks loud and clear. We hear these phrases all the time, "I'm just waiting on God" or "I'm waiting on an answer." Even a commonly quoted verse is Isaiah 40:31:

31Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

For a long time I would have said that I'm a person who "waits" on God. I pray about His plans for me. I try to discern through the Holy Spirit the right choices. I try to find His plan for me. Sometimes I've even followed the Holy Spirit into decisions I wouldn't have made on my own power or that maybe didn't seem logical to anyone else and I believe I was blessed for it. So why don't I feel like a seasoned "wait-er". Well, an assult on my thinking in the last few weeks has made me realize that I'm still missing a lot of what it means to wait. It is more than what we rationalize in our minds that waiting should be. So what does it mean to wait???

First, when I was exercising at the gym a couple of weeks ago I put on a podcast from James MacDonald. I love my smartphone btw. Having all these resources available when I have a little free time is very uplifting. But back to the topic, I started listening to a series called "Powered by the Holy Spirit" and it was a study of the chapter of Acts. In the first chapter, he was referencing verse 4 where Jesus tells the disciples to "wait" for the Holy Spirit (which they don't but that is another study).

Jesus says, "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about."

The gift He was talking about was the Holy Spirit.

In this study, James began to question what it means to wait. He gave the example that even though we are sitting at a red light in our car, we might not actually be waiting. One online definition of wait is To remain or rest in expectation.

I've been at a red light. I've seen others at red lights. How many of us, when the light changes, will give the car in front of us a little "honk" if they don't move within 6 seconds? Or maybe we are fussing and cussing to get moving because we are running late and the car in front of us isn't in the same hurry we are. Are we really "resting in expectation"? No way. We're planning, scheming, multi-tasking, fussing but we aren't really waiting.

So if we apply this to our time of "waiting on God" for answers, resources, directions, we probably aren't really waiting either. This is where my conviction began.

Maybe our lack of waiting doesn't look like the impatient driver at the red light but maybe it looks like this...

Scenerio: Your family is at the realization that you need or want a new vehicle. So you begin to look at cars online. You start driving through the parking lot looking. You ask all your friends and neighbors if they like their car. You decide what color you want. You decide what features you can't live without. You spend a lot of time on the car payment calculator. You decide how much you can pay. Now with all that decided you begin to pray, "Lord, if it be your will, please send me an '09 Ford Taurus with 20,000 miles in red or blue and it can't cost more than $250 per month. This is me. I've done this. Maybe not in so many words, but I've had all my plans laid out in my power and then asked God to bless it and say it is ok.

So what is the problem with this? Maybe nothing? Maybe we're just being good stewards in considering what is practical (this was always my reasoning)? Except, maybe we are missing what God really had planned. Maybe He really wanted to give you a raise at work to pay for a bigger car so you could help pick up your neighbor kids and take them to church too or because He plans to bless your family with another child. Maybe His plan was for something bigger and better but because we already decided on what we thought was possible, acceptable or desireable, we totally cut off His ability to provide for us. We didn't wait. We planned, we schemed, we decided and then we asked God to get on board. What if we did wait and started with prayer first? Who knows. Only God knows.

This is really hard. This goes against everything that comes natural to us. I'm so overwhelmed by this. I have so many thoughts on this. Too much for one post or one bible study lesson. I have so much to learn. I plan to share more on this subject soon. Be blessed.

Listen to James MacDonald at: http://www.walkintheword.com/Broadcast.aspx

Monday, June 14, 2010

My Tractor Don't Get No Traction...

When I was a kid, this was a lyric to a popular country song by Patty Loveless. The lyrics go something like this:

I can't get no consolation
I don't get no paid vacation
I can't get no satisfaction
And my tractor don't get no traction
Just doin' the best I can
Tryin' to make a stand
Laughin' and cryin'
Livin' and dyin' on down the line

Wow, as I look at these again I think how true. Have you ever been at that point where no matter what someone says or how many days off you take you still feel like your spinning your wheels? That certainly happens when I look at the state of my house. I sweep the floor and someone immediately tracks in. I do the dishes only to see a new pile the next morning. It never ends. But I've learned to deal with this in my domestic affairs.

What about our spiritual life? Have you ever come to the point where you feel like you can't even hear the right answer from God anymore? You are doing lots of "stuff" for the kingdom you think but it isn't really getting you anywhere; you've lost traction. You don't see the fruit from it.

I'm not saying I'm at a point like this in my life right now, but I've definitely been in this place. More than that, I've seen friends and church family there too. Struggling. Spinning their wheels.

So how did this random thought come about you might ask? Well, I've been reading a new book. I know. Me, read? Sounds incredible but it is happening. I stumbled across a blog by Anne Jackson (http://flowerdust.net) and she had some interesting things to say. She is a preacher's kid and a worker in the kingdom. She has written a book called, "Mad Church Disease." It focuses on overcoming the burnout epidemic we see often in churches and volunteers. Now don't everyone assume I'm burnt-out and this is my cry for help. I'm really in a good place myself right now, but I won't say I haven't probably been close before and I definitely know I've seen symptoms of it in others around me.

In Anne's book, she shares excerpts of interviews with pastors who have faced and recovered from burn-out. One of the pastors made this statement in his comments about how his life has changed since burn-out. "I run my life a bit more slowly these days, but I do it with far more traction." This spoke to me - I might be doing a little less, but I'm bearing much more fruit. What a concept! Seek out the things that are being laid on us by the Holy Ghost and cast the other things aside and it is a win-win. We find a more manageable pace and actually probably accomplish more for the kingdom in our doing.

I've heard the definition of insanity is repeating the same event and expecting a different outcome. Not much different would be thinking when we've already lost traction, that spinning our wheels faster would help. Sometimes we think doing more of the wrong thing will make it right because, man, we are really committed to sacrificing more and more so our wheels can spin faster and faster. What if we just sought Jesus. Worked at the things He's laid before us and promised to equip us for. Got some traction.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


One resource I stumbled upon a few years ago was the Walk in the Word website. I was actually trying to find a sermon I'd heard by John McArthur and not really remembering the name ended up searching and finding James MacDonald. After listening to some of his sermons I really like his teaching.

He has a newsletter you can subscribe to at http://www.walkintheword.com/. It is called the Weekly Walk. The topic this week was gratitude. James talks about 3 levels - elementary school thankfulness, high school thankfulness and. graduate school thankfulness. Sometimes I fear my prayers put me at the elementary level. I'm thankful for the weather, my health, food to eat, a house to live in. It is like a grocery list that contains the same staples each week with really no thought to it. I can kind of do it in my sleep. But hey, I was thankful, right.

When we graduate to high school we begin to look for deeper things to be thankful for. Maybe we grumble a bit but we decide we can be happy about something. I had this happen at Burger King. I was taking lunch to the field for my husban and his helpers. I placed my order ending it with an order of small fries for myself (even though the fries really didn't fit in with my diet plan). When I got away from the drive-thru, I had no fries and a chicken sandwich instead!

Now at my adolescent level of gratitude I immediately thought, "Now who could get chicken sandwich from small order of fries! So now I had no fries for myself and an extra sandwich that I didn't need. Plus the sandwich cost a couple dollars more than the fries! I order off the value menu to save money not spend more! I started to turn around but I know what a pain it is to take something back to the counter. You have to go in. Wait in line. Get the frustrated look from the already busy employee. Plus they never act like they could have made a mistake. So I decided to go on.

I got to the field and explained to the guys I had this extra sandwich and come to find out Tim's dad would have rather had a chicken sandwich anyway, or so he said. And you know, in the long run I really didn't need the fries. They are not a healthy choice so my body was better off(and besides I stole a few of Tim's anyway). Knowing all this after the fact, I could then be thankful for the sandwich that I didn't order. But this is still only high school thankfulness.

This then brings up the idea of graduate-level gratitude that James talked about in his newsletter. He says,

"Ephesians 5:18-20 says, "Giving thanks to God at all times for all things." No matter what's happening; no matter how dark the moment is, God is in control. He can be explicitly trusted. He's working out a purpose beyond what you can imagine. Some of it you'll see in this life; some of it you'll see in the life to come. Give thanks to God. Go for it. Give thanks to God for the hardest part of your life. Just say, "Thank You God for this. You are good!" Watch the blessing begin to flow your way."

Now wouldn't that have been something new. If I truly lived by Eph. 5:18 I would have immediately thanked God for the chicken sandwich, not knowing yet who might need it and for sparing me from artery clogging cholesterol that might lead to heart disease! If only I had realized that God might be working in my best interest (who doesn't want a happy father-in-law) my attitude would have been one of gratitude.

This is a lesson I'll have to work on. This requires discipline and slowness on our usual reactions. God is working out a purpose beyond what we can imagine. Wow.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A New Blog

I don't know if this is going to really be a blog or if it will be more of just a journal for me to keep up with what I'm thinking and what God is showing me each day, but it is what it is. I think lots of times when I hear part of a radio sermon or read part of someone else's blog, "Man, I wish I could remember this long enough to share it with someone else." Sometimes I have particular person or group in mind - sometimes I just think it makes so much sense that everyone should know.

Most of the time, if I can remember long enough, I share these things with the Wednesday night bible study group. They are a great bunch of women who love Jesus too and are hungry for wisdom. Sometimes I just run out of time to share everything I'm learning or there are great video/audio clips I think would be interesting so this is where I'm going to put those things. So until I have more joy to share...