A New Season

I have entered a new season of my life.  A season of change, of rest, of restoration.  I am so grateful that God leads us with peace and He is a loving Father.  I am enjoying the times of refreshing in Him as I wait for His direction.

 

A couple of months ago, I received a gift in the mail.  First of all gifts rarely come for me and never in the mail.  It was something that I treasure above all else…A BOOK!  Two young friends of mine (very special to my heart) sent me a book they were reading,  I had asked about the title because it looked so enticing.  I opened the box and read the enclosed gift note (I love how those come in the box with the big smile)  The note said, “We hope that you enjoy this–it has been inspirational and challenging for us!”  So I began to thumb through the book, to feel the weight of the paper, to smell the pages. (okay that is just a shout out to my bookish self)  and I started to explore the pages.

It is titled The Live Dead Journal.  and it starts out by asking you to spend extravagant time with Jesus every day.  This means tithe your day and just spend time with Him.  I was so excited, felt so thrilled to start on this journey and then REALITY sank in.  My life had become like a vortex, my work had consumed most of the good pieces from my life and there literally wasn,t time for extravagant time.  I started the process of trying to find the time, but working 60+ hours a week and being away from home many days at a time, and sleeping 4 hours a night….you get the picture.  I could barely find the time to talk with my family, spend a few stolen moments in prayer and read my Bible as I crashed in exhaustion in yet another hotel room.  And in those  weeks as I realized that the time just wasn’t there….the winds  of change started to blow.  They were ever so gentle, peaceful, but they started to stir up in me the need for something different.

So here I am, choosing not to allow that job to consume the important things, choosing to spend extravgant time with Jesus and having a peace that confirms that the choice was the right one.

Off we go……Day One The Live Dead Journal

“But together we declare that above all else we value Jesus.  His person, His presence is everything to us, and we will demonstrate this by giving him extravagant time daily.”

In my Bible reading today I started in Isaiah and ran across this verse

“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord:  I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts;  and I delight not in the blood of bullocks or of lambs, or of he goats.”

It seems that God is tired of all the things that we bring to Him, all of the apologies and excuses…He is waiting for us——–

A few words from Star Wars for the road

“Do or do not.  there is no try.”

 

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If your gospel doesn’t offend, is it the gospel?

The church in America has gone through many changes through the years.  Some good, some not so good.  One of the common themes in churches is to present the gospel in a way that relates to people and that has relevance.  Jesus taught using parables and brought his message right where people lived.  So this must be how we should present the gospel.  But have we gone too far in trying to make people comfortable, have we created a gospel that doesn’t motivate people to change?  Jesus didn’t always make people comfortable…

6 And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him.

And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

But Jesus, said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.

And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. (Mark 6:1-5)

 

...in fact, at times they were downright offended.  In my private times lately with God, he has been challenging me that we (His church) often are astonished that He is big and mighty because we have been thinking of Him the same way we think of everyone else around us.  We say “hasn’t he always been here with us, don’t we know the songs we will sing and the order of the service.”  We have been in His House and not seen mighty works and now when he begins to say things that shake our normal patterns, we are offended.  

I don’t want to be that person who presents the gospel of an ordinary God and keeps people comfortable.  I want to present a gospel that does what Jesus’ teachings did……it offends.

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For just one night…..I was a millionaire

 

I know I am not the only one with lottery fantasies.  I was together with one hundred million of my closest friends as we dreamed of the powerball winnings.  I decided to not watch the results so i could sleep with my fantasy for  one whole night.

And then it was tomorrow…. and back to the ordinary in my life.  I actually like the ordinary and the simple.  I love just looking at my girls and holding them.  One glance and a whirlwind of emotion swirls up around me.  I can feel, hear, see, and smell every memory as I try to hold onto them for the small amount of time that they will be with me.  I am so proud of the women they are becoming.  They are both so smart and talented, both in very different ways.  I see how they handle friendships and relationships and I am grateful for their wise choices (most days)  and their honesty and problem solving when the original choices are not so wise.  They are the kind of friends that I always wanted in my life, thoughtful and caring.  There is lots of laughter when they are around and silliness and great depth in conversation

I often think back to the days when i didn’t know if we would ever have them……

Waking up to not being a lottery winner was not even a big deal, but waking up to not being a parent to these girls……that would be a nightmare.

What it means to finish the race….

Reading……..Hebrews 12:1,2………Philippians1:6,25; 3:12-14……….. II Timothy 4:7Anyone who has ever run a race understands that the start is exciting, exhilarating almost enchanting….. All of the dreams and anticipation and the hours of preparation are packaged up into a giant burst of energy. You have everything ahead of you, you can see the goal and you have all of the drive and intensity to reach it. The start is amazing but it can’t even compare to the FINISH…… Everything that you had dreamed about, and worked toward is yours…..you have finished the race…..But no one really wants to talk about the race…… The long stretches between the start and the finish, the spots where all of the excitement and energy is gone and the end is nowhere in sight. This is the place where we are weary, we may be uncomfortable, there is very little cheering (supporters also like to be at the start and the finish). This is the place where the real work is accomplished. It is not the work that gets recognized, not the work that feels important…..it is just the work that is necessary…..I am in a space like that right now…… Away from home for a month with 2 more weeks to go…… No end in sight….. Excitement and energy on empty…….but the work remains……So many times , we are in this place……clearly most of our life is spent in this place……it is the place that brings the dreams to life, the place that makes the finish a reality…..I love that Jesus promises to finish what he started in us…….he gently encourages us to run with patience…….this is not the place to give up, not the place to be discouraged…….this is the place to see your dreams come trueThere is only one way we can do it…..”looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,……” Hebrews 12:2a………..”but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and. Reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”. Philippians 3:13,14Let’s press on……

I know whom I have believed

Reading II Timothy chapters 1-4I Timothy 1:12b. “…for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able….”Hebrews 11:6. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”Paul’s heart cry throughout his ministry was “that I may know Him”. He obviously knew Him, served Him, preached about Him and lived and suffered for Him. That cry to know Him was about intimacy. It was speaking of a knowing that created assurance, that made answers predictable and that made the outcome guaranteed no matter the circumstance.This is the knowing that is required to enter a relationship with Jesus. We must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder…… If we don’t believe this, we could never accept the free gift of eternal life…… Because we would feel that it was too much. His nature is that of a rewarder. He wants to give us freely all things. But we have to know that…..It is never enough to just have knowledge of the character of God, we must know it intimately. This knowing requires time, energy, commitment and often sacrifice on our parts. He has to be a priority. We have to make time for Him….not because it is a requirement, but because without it we can’t live. Knowing Him has to be our oxygen! When we have this as our heart cry, we can face any circumstance that faces us and cry out like Paul. “for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able”

A few crazy days

I took a whirlwind trip home over the weekend…….I must be old because the traveling wears me out. I had driving time, lots of it, for thinking and praying. Now back to work for a four week stretch. Reading I Timothy chapters 1-6I Timothy 3:8-13″Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”The word deacons in this passage has been thrown around in our recent generations. It has become a title that represents power in our churches. Many denominations have “deacon boards” that run the church and leave little room for the pastor to follow the voice of God. In this chapter, Paul is telling us the qualifications of a deacon. (in Acts we were told that it was not good for the pastor to leave the word of God to serve tables so deacons were set in place). The most important role of the pastor is to spend time with God and in the Word of God so he has fresh revelation from God to teach and lead the people in his congregation. New Christians need someone to lead them, to teach them, to nourish them as they begin to grow in the faith. (as baby humans, we need someone to feed us, to care for us, to lead us; and so it is with baby Christians). If our churches are doing what Jesus expects, there should always be babies in our midst (God adding daily to our church). In order for our pastors to attend to the Word of God and prayer so they can do this most important task of leading, teaching, nurturing; it becomes necessary to have “deacons”. Here is where it gets tricky, that original Greek word for deacon is diakonos which is the root word for a better known Greek word diakoneo. This word is defined as (to run errands, an attendant, a waiter at tables or other menial duties…..a servant). It is translated in a literal translation as “one who serves”So deacons do not hold power positions, but they are servants……and the passage above outlines the expectations for those who serve. God is looking for a few good men (and women) who can serve well. It is never just enough to work for God or the church…..it is always about serving Him. His expectation is that we first know Him and love Him and grow in His Word…….then use that relationship to serve Him from a pure heart.

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Reading II Thessalonians chapter 1-3I Thessalonians 3:4…..”and we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you.”Paul is so very opposite of many preachers today. While he very clearly has expectations of living an appropriate Godly life; he admonishes all of His churches to live in word and deed the way that Jesus lived, he has expectations for their heart condition which reflects the heart of Jesus; he never puts the burden of that life change on the believer. He doesn’t preach a gospel of condemnation, but he has a high standard of conduct. He expects his churches to not allow behavior which is contrary to the word of God. In our age, Paul would not be considered politically correct. He calls sin sin, without any hesitation. He does not dilute the gospel by accepting behaviors that are clearly against the word of God, he doesn’t say that behavior is ok because it has become socially acceptable.The big difference in Paul’s preaching is in the matter of control…..he reminds all of his believers that the only way they can live this Christian life is by allowing the one who is able to have control of our life. Paul never has confidence in the flesh…..he has confidence in the Lord!! Jesus is able to make the changes in our lives that we need to live right. All we have to do is to be brave enough to trust him and let him have control.