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Thursday, December 31, 2009

My New Year's Resolution

As we wrap up this year and ring in a new one, I know we are all thinking about how to make life better and how to improve things.  Here's mine:
" For I RESOLVED  to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came  to you in in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. my message and preaching were not with wise and  persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on the Spirit's power." 1 corinthians 2:1-5.

Happy new year Everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

We need to change our message

We need to change our message. Not the subject of the message, who is Jesus. Not the message, which is the good news.  But, the inconsistency of the people who present it. I mean, we say in one breath we want to be more like Jesus, but we don't act like we do. We care more about the " little gods" of life like our rights, our money, our bottom line. We say we care about the sanctity of life, yet in the next breath say we want to blow the Iraqis to smithereens. Pastor Will Willamon  asked this question in one of his sermons : what churches do you know who had a vigil for Osama Bin Laden?  For those who hate the current government structure, who is on their knees praying for it? Fasting for it? Why aren't we living out what we believe? 

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Is This What We have Become?

" I think of religion as Paul Rudd. I see the appeal , and i wouldn't want to take it away from them, but I also wouldn't stand in line for it, either." I watched a rerun of a Community episode on NBC last night. Joel McHale said this to his Christian friend about why he was an agnostic. 
Is this really the voice of Christianity in our society today? How many people laughed at that as they watched from their barker loungers? 
In The Tangible Kingdom,  the authors call us to a new way of evangelism. 
Instead of " telling the people the truth" no matter what the cost,  how can we change our method or approach of the unchanging message of christ, which would allow others to prefer to know Christ above all else? 
Where is the obedience to Ephesians 4:29 which says " Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth but only what is useful for building others' up according to their needs, that they may benefit those that listen?" 
Has our message to the world been reduced to a comparison to a no name actor  who's biggest claims to fame are movies like "Clueless" and  other fluff that tells more about  our society than we realize? 
Is this what we have become?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Food for Thought

I came across a quote by a pastor, George Mueller, who pastored a church on england in the 19th century.  He said 
" I never remember... a period.... that I ever  sincerely and patiently sought to know the will of God by the teaching of the Holy Ghost,through the instrumentality of the Word of God , but I have a;ways been directed rightly. But if honesty of heart and uprightness before God were lacking,or if I did not patiently wait upon God for instruction., or if I preferred the counsel of my fellow men to the declarations of the Word of god, I have made great mistakes. "
Are you being directed rightly by God, or are you allowing a dishonest heart a lack of uprightness or the declarations of men guide you?

Friday, December 25, 2009

The True Joy of Giving

I wonder if God feels the same way when He gives gifts to His children as we do when we give to ours. I must say, although I had a great Christmas, the best part was watching my children get so excited over seeing the gifts under the tree.  My husband and i were discussing it and he said it is like you are reliving your own excitement as a little boy or girl approaching the tree with wonder and awe.  I know God " gives good gifts to His children", but I wonder how close we are to experiencing the joy and jubilation of heaven in little moments like this morning?
Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Where are we going?

"Where are we going?". My daughter just asked me that this morning as I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom mirror. I said to her. "No, why do we always have to be going somewhere?" I guess her question is more indicting than I originally realize. Do I always have to be going somewhere?
Why can't I just enjoy the moment that I am in, whether that be positive or negative? If it is negative, why don't I revel in the fact that God is refining me to become more like Him? If it is positive, why can't I be thankful and enjoy it before the dark days come again?  
As we approach Christmas this year, I pray that we will enjoy whatever moment we are in right now, with whomever that is important to you at this moment, wherever you are enjoying this moment. Let us all rejoice that we live in a country where we can celebrate with hope that this life is not the end of the story- it is the beginning of new things to come! Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

He grows an extra inch every year

I just got home from watching my son's Christmas program at his school. My husband and I watched in amazement as he did all the motions and sung with passion. We commented to each other that he has grown so much over the past year, we didn't really realize it until now.  It is like he grew an extra inch since last year, which is probably about right ( my son is a peanut- check his gene pool). 
As I think back in my journey with God, my vision or understanding has grown a little since last year. My thoughts about Him have become more accurate, my ideas have become more biblically- centered and my understanding of His reality in my life has grown an extra inch since last year.
My hope and prayer for you, dear reader, is that God " grows an extra inch every year" as you seek for Him to make His presence even more known in your life than last year. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

it's all about perception

One of the girls at my school told me that another girl said she thought I was mean. I spoke to the girl and we got it cleared up. The girl who told me said she thought I was because I  raised my voice at one of them to tell him to not run in the classroom.  Now, I have never raised my voice to the girl in question,ever. She is normally really good.  But, it is funny how 5 year olds perceive "yelling " as " mean."
The reality is that someone raises their voice to 1) take control of a situation, 2) be heard admidst the hub bub of whatever else is going on around them 3) the thing that he/ she is shouting about is more important than anything else at the time. 
Now, I will admit, I do , and have raised my voice to my children. Sometimes I'm angry, sometimes it's to gain control over a situation that I feel is out of control, sometimes it is to get their attention.  But, to say I'm mean when I do it implies I don't care about them, when on the contrary, I care about them enough to get them to stop what they are doing so they are not a danger to themselves or others. 
The mean one is the one who doesn't care about the welfare of others. The mean one is the one who puts his/her needs before the needs of others. The mean one is the one who treats others differently than the way they would like to be treated. The mean one is the one who sits idly by and does nothing for fear of making waves or cause confrontation (which is more about them than the other person).
The loving one confronts. The loving one acts. The loving one cares, even if it means raising a voice to do it.
I think the media, and the portrayal of "mean" characters on movies and tv skews our view of what is loving and what is unloving. 
But, it is all about perception. 

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Lament

We do what benefits us the most.
If we were honest, we would agree with that statement.
I know I do.
Not all the time.
But sometimes.
I wish I could say I don't ever.
But, I do.
Instead of being thankful for all of the blessings God has given me over the past year, I focus on the one thing that i DIDN'T get.
Nothing specific, but i get disappointed when a child excludes me from the gaggle of Christmas gifts he's giving to other teachers. 
or, when i have to get another gift when I had already planned on getting them what I wanted to get them( another honest confession).
Why do I focus on the silly things that don't matter?
Why don't I realize that I'm lucky to even be celebrating Christmas this year-
With a healthy family
And a loving husband
And presents under the tree
And a job
And a working car
And a computer that I'm using to type this blog post.
And a calling to write these posts.
And a God that I know and He knows Me.
I don't know.
I guess I need a heart adjustment.
I suppose we all do.
I suppose that's why we celebrate the birth of a Savior in 4 days.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The tree

I'm taking the day off and going to NYC to see the tree and the sights. Talk to you on Monday!

Looking at the World with Jesus' Eyes

I know it is hard around this time to see the world the way Jesus sees it.  People cutting you off while driving, pushing ahead in lines, etc. is enough to make anyone crazy! 
I am reflecting on a video I watched recently where a guy is going through the normal routine of life with some difficulty: getting cut off, long line at the coffee shop,, and then someone hands him a a pair of special glasses. He puts the glasses on and boom! he magically sees everyone with subtitles underneath. Like the guy who cut him off in line " is having trouble making ends meet", or the guy waiting on him at the coffee shop " has a fear of commitment." It makes the main character see people differently, the way Jesus would want him to look at the world. 
I was able to spread a little Christmas cheer yesterday by getting some shower gels from Bath and Body Works and i gave them to the consignment shop workers that work at the shop I frequently enter. I know it isn't much, but they were floored at the fact I thought of them that day. They have a thankless job ( much like me!) and get very little appreciation for what they do. I just wanted to show them I appreciate them for their hard work.  Just trying to spread a little cheer to people i meet.....
I encourage you to spread a little Christmas cheer this season, even to people who don't deserve it. After all, didn't our Savior do that for us?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Adopted as Sons

I am currently doing some research on our adopted as sons ( and daughters) into the family of God for my book.  I am amazed at how much God talks about that and how many people could use that refreshing take on their lives. How many of us really live our lives as if we are truly God's son or daughter?If we changed our perspective and viewed our lives that way, how much of our lives would have to be changed? 
How would we view the hardships we are going through right now as the refining God wants to do to make us more like Him? " “Endure hardship as discipline. God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined ( and everyone undergoes discipline) then you are illegitimate children and not true sons… No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have trained by it.”( Hebrews 12:7-12 NIV). Do we truly view our circumstances the way that the book of Hebrews states? 
Do you believe you  are adopted into the family of God?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

There is a hole in Our Christmas Tree!

That is what my son said to me just a few minutes ago. He was looking in between the branches to the gap in between two of them that overlooks the floor behind the tree. Only my son could see something like that- point out the one gap in between 2 branches.
But, isn't that the same with us? If we don't look at the intricacies of the Christmas season and what it is really all about, don't we find a hole in the middle? Doesn't the season just become hollow and meaningless, like there is a hole in people's hearts because they are relying on one day a year to fulfill their lives, as opposed to looking at the one who fulfills our lives everyday? 
My husband and I were driving with our children to Joe's parents house when we hit traffic at every exit from our church to there. There were some slushy, icy patches on the road, enough to cause accidents on every highway we tried. Upon realizing this, my husband slowed his speed to avoid this impending danger. The person behind him beeped loudly and then whirled by him , looking back in disgust! And I'm thinking, it is Christmas time ! Have we forgotten the season in which we run around putting unnecessary stress on ourselves? 86% of people believe in God, or so they claim. Why are we not living like the religion we affiliate ourselves with? If we can't get this right on the one day a year people expect good will toward men, then we have our work cut out for us.

Monday, December 14, 2009

When God Says " So What?"

I love the verse in John 28 where Jesus says to Peter, who was just told that he would be martyred for the faith and he is concerned with how John will die, " So What?" 
Ok,so not in those exact words, but  when he says " what is that to you?" he is basically saying to Peter, "so what" if I want John to die a different way than you. 
It is a great word for his people not to compare yourself with what God is doing in the lives of others. especially those of other believers. 
So, what is God saying " so what?" to you about?
Where are you comparing yourself to others ?
Why does it matter  what is he is doing on others' lives?
What is He doing in others' lives that He is not doing in yours?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tolerance is Intolerant

Why is ti that whenever someone is trying to  promote a mesaage of tolerance do Christians get portrayed as intolerant?  Why do Christians not receive the same tolerance as the other religions that emphasize it?  Why don't we have the right to celebrate and talk about religion, yet when we do we are seen as being pushy?
Take the show Community, for example. Ot the Office. Both claimed the christians of their group  were " pushing" beliefs on others. Yet, just 20 years ago, Merry Christmas was the natural greeting for this season, and Happy Holidays was unheard of. Aren't you preaching intolerance when you say Happy holidays, because you are not allowed to  state the religion you believe in?
Furthermore, why is it that people are so offended by saying Merry Christmas when it is just Santa that they are promoting? When is the last time you heard that Jesus was the focus of this holiday ?  And, where is my tolerance when I do want to teach my children, follow an advent calendar or say Merry Christmas?

Friday, December 11, 2009

What if WE did what we could?

So, first Elisa Morgan talks about what Mary did that made it "what she could" , then asks herself " what if I did what I could?" , then ends with " what if we all did what we could?"
So, what if WE all did what we could with the people God has put into our lives. Maybe if all of us helped the poor, prayed , met a need for someone everyday, what kind of impact would that have on the world as we know it? 
I mean, isn't that at the forefront of any charity event, environmental protest, or church pulpit? 
We can't all solve the problem of homelessness. Or war in Afghanistan.  Or the sex slave industry. The bible is clear " The poor will always be among you..." But, that doesn't mane we sit idly by and do nothing.  
The bible is also clear. We are to be the " hands and feet" of Christ. That's how we give him glory.  But, it can feel overwhelming at times.
This message by Morgan, however, is not.  If I just set out to meet one person's need everyday,  the  message of Christ will be spread more rapidly.
If the I, turns into we,  however, we could change the world. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What if i did what I could?

After Elisa Morgan describes WHAT  Mary did, she poses the question to the reader: what if I did what I could?  
Maybe we can't eliminate world hunger or restore peace to the Middle East, but who has God brought in my path to help or to give my best?  
Maybe it is writing a check to help someone pay for groceries. Maybe it is stooping down to pick up whatever it was the stranger next to you dropped and is having difficulty retaining.  Maybe it is hugging or praying for someone in need. 
What if I did what I could? Everyday? What if i were more aware of the needs of those around me , instead of focusing solely on myself? How much good could I do to change the world?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

She Did What she Could II

I am continuing today with a further explanation of Elisa Morgan's book She did What She Could.  Morgan continues with an explanation of  the significance of Mary's gesture.  Mary could have done anything to show Jesus she loved him. Yet, she took a very expensive jar of nard and poured it on his head. 
Mary got it. She did this to prepare Jesus for his burial.   Jesus knew this and exalted Mary for her deeds. 
Mary couldn't do a lot in society because she was a woman. But her bold move showed Jesus and the people that she cared more about Jesus than culture's dictated role for her. She loved Jesus, and she didn't let anything stop her. 
The point of it is that Mary gave her very best to Jesus.  She did " what she could" in 
that moment to someone else. 
Morgan poses a question to the reader in the next section. What if I, or in this case you, " did what you could" during  your ordinary day in your ordinary life? What difference would that make to the world?
We'll talk about this in my next post. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The packaging is Everything

I am attracted to shiny objects. I really am.   I can turn my head from a mile away if something catches my eye. It might be the phoniest item there, but if it is packaged right, it will grab my attention. In the same way, if we package Christ in a way that is condescending or arrogant, many people won't want to open the package. 
Now, I know what you are thinking. You're thinking " God is not something to be packaged or wrapped or any sort of gimmick  to get people to like Him."  That is true. However, we have spent all of our time showing the world what we are against, and not what we are for and we have made an unbelieving world turn their head in disgust. 
I realize the apostles preached and said what was on their heart and mind wherever and whenever God led them. I also realize that John The Baptist never watered down his message to get his point across. Then, dear reader, you must also realize the end to that story..... HE WAS BEHEADED!  
Not a very happy ending.   Bottom line is, we cannot preach the same way as the apostles.  Think we should? Then, perhaps we should bring back the whole stoning and crucifixion thing, too....
I have a friend who runs a food pantry. Her life exudes Christ and Him crucified. Why? Because she is living among the broken everyday. She meets their need, cares for them and  gives them a foundation of Christ that cannot be denied. People are attracted to her for the same reason.  Does she water down her message because she is not announcing with a microphone: " Repent , for the Kingdom of God is near?"
A life lived everyday in obedience to who God really is may never have to say a word about who He is. People will already know.
All because of the packaging. 

Monday, December 7, 2009

She did what she could

I have been reading a great book by Elisa Morgan called " She Did What she Could."  In it, she explains the passage in Mark 14:3-9 where Mary, the sister of martha, anoints Jesus' heard with an expensive jar of nard, or perfume.  Morgan camps on the five words in verse 9: " She did what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time." Jesus goes on the say that this deed will transcend time and wherever His name is mentioned people will remember Mary's deed to Jesus. Morgan then urges us, the reader to " do what we could" in our everyday lives. 
We cannot fix everything. We cannot solve world hunger in a blink of an eye or resolve the ever impending wars between countries. But, we can be the light of Jesus to the people that we have been put in contact with in our lives. Sometimes it means money. Sometimes it means time. Other times it may mean great sacrifice.  She urges the reader " What is your could?" 
So, I today, in turn, urge you, my readers  " What is your could?"

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Power of Action

I have the privilege of speaking at a church conference  in Feb.  and have been wrestling with my subject matter.  I have been reflecting on the idea that spiritual growth comes from action before knowledge, not the other way around. I know there are verses that talk about " being a well watered garden" after  exhibiting the desired attributes, but didn't quite know where else to go. I was in my chiropractor's office ( who is a Christian) and he had Colossians 1:9-10 as one of his daily verses on his desk: "For this reason, since the day we hear about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God  to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding . And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God ..."
I know as Christians we devour every Christian book, watch every movie, and listen to every speaker we can get our hands on in order to "grow" spiritually.  
The reality is, if you want to grow, you have to act.  You want to grow in kindness, be kind,. You want to grow in forgiveness, forgive. 
We know how to do it.   We just have to do it. 
Even when we don't  feel like it.
Especially when we don't feel like it. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Perfect love drives out all fear....

Perfect love drives out all fear.  That's what the Bible says. But, I never really understood that. Does it mean that if I love God the way He should be loved, that I will never have any fear? Can we achieve that in this lifetime? It is hard to fathom.
I thought all those butterflies I get when I have to confront someone in love, or make a presentation, or  talk about something embarrassing was just a part of " the anxieties of life."  Would we never have these if I love God with all my heart? Or, do those butterflies make me depend on God in my weakness? Just a topic of conversation on which  to comment to interact..... I appreciate your thoughts.... 

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Love is not a feeling II

There a lot of things I don't feel like doing. I don't feel like exercising. or being a good Christian. or eating right.  In fact, if I had it my way, I wouldn't get out of bed. But, I do. I get up and do it, even if i don't want to.  
That is life. And that is the Christian life. 
The bible talks about putting on the full armor of God. This means the word, my salvation , and above all, righteousness.  I don't want to. But, I should if I want to be on guard against the evil one. 
There are a lot of days when I don't feel like writing. I don't always know what to write about.  But, I made a promise to myself. and 14 years ago, I made a promise to God that i would live for Him. 
So, i write. And I live. And i do what is right. And I love.  Even if I don't want to.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

She Said Yes

She said yes.
That is the title of a book from Cassie Bernall, the girl who was shot in the head after confessing she believed in Christ during  the Columbine shootings over 10 years ago. 
For those of you who may not remember, Cassie Bernall was approached by one of the shooters and asked if she believed in God.
She said yes. 
You know the rest of the story.
I was having a conversation with someone recently who was struggling in her walk with God. " But sometimes I feel really connected with God, and sometimes I don't." I went on to explain to her that faith is not based on a feeling. It is based on a response.  I don't always feel like doing the right thing. Or exhibiting the fruits of the spirit.  Or even following God. sometimes i just want to crawl into a hole and be left alone, left to my own reasoning to figure out how life works.  But, that is not how God designed it.  God cares about our desire to know Him more.  He cares about our willingness to change and to be more like Him. 
For 14 years I have been a Christian. For 14 years  God has asked me to do things I don't want to do. Or feel like doing.  But, he has cared about my willingness to say yes.
She said yes. A whole country now knows of her bravery and will tell about it for years to come because of it.
She said yes.
Will you?