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: 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:

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 ( 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 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...