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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Serious Obedience

Matthew 7:21-23 (The Message) ".....What is required is serious obedience...doing what my Father wills. I can see it now - at the final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, "Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking. And do you know what I am going to say? .......You don't impress me one bit......"

Here's my thought: I understand the obedience factor - that God lays out the best plan for life in his word and we must be obedient in order to have the best life possible. My problem is that I like to be obedient in certain areas of my life, and at certain seasons of my life. Understanding God's word, studying God's word, reading God's word is not what counts - the measure of righteousness is in the doing. It is in the doing that I have the biggest struggle with my flesh. My rebellious nature is difficult to tame and bring into submission. I can immediately think of several areas where I am not walking in full obedience to God's word.

The other thought: How many "God-sponsored projects" have I been a part of in my lifetime? In retrospect, there is a lot of "stuff" in church that we did with good intentions that had very little to do with increasing our intimate walk with Christ. I am mulling over in my head how much "stuff" we do in American church - is that helping or hindering us in growing closer to Christ? There is certainly a balance to be found - ministry is important - I just have wondered some lately about how corrupted my view of Christianity and Church might be because of my culture and background. It seems that maybe we have made a really big production out of something that God designed with simplicity. Don't have all the right answers on this one, just beginning to roll it around in my head.

One last thought - I hope the term "serious obedience" is meant to reflect the desire of our heart to be sincere and humble in obedience, not lacking a sense of humor. I have no desire to return to legalism after being set free.

Unrelated - tonight the family is sitting down at the supper table, alone. My children are confused by this. Why did we not invite anyone to come over tonight? What a change of mind-set from a few years ago when people ate with us on rare and special occasions. I like the changes in our family's life - that our children have come to expect hospitality and are now confused when there are no people at our home.

Friday, September 12, 2008

No Worries! and It's not my show!

It has been really interesting to start over in the New Testament in the Message Remix. Today I was reading in Matthew chapter 6 about a God-centered lifestyle. Here's some of the stuff that I noticed.

No worries:
Vs. 30-33, God's talking about the beauty of the flowers and then here's the application, "What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. .....don't worry about missing out."

I thought - OH! that's it! I am often so afraid of missing out on the "good life" that my friends are living that I find myself chasing after some of the same dreams instead of relaxing and living in God's grace and mercy. The more my focus shifts onto God and his giving and his other attributes, the less I can focus on getting.

It's not my show!
There was a lot of good stuff in this chapter. I love this phrasing of verse 5, "And when you come before God, don't turn that into theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayer, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat!" HAAAAA! Wow!!!!! Can I repeat that in traditional church? There is so much that we did to look spiritual or to keep up with other churches or for whatever reason. We have often treated God like he is a spectator at our show. Instead for the rest of my life, I want to be an actor in HIS SHOW! I am willing to play a minor role, as long as I get to work alongside the King of Kings. Please, don't ever let me be guilty again of putting on a show for others and expecting God to watch me from the sidelines.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thoughts from Brooke Waggoner

I just love Paste magazine. It's my favorite read. Mostly because I realize that I am not totally insane and other people have the strong emotions about music that I do. It's a great relief to know that it consumes other people as well. I loved this quote from an interview with up and coming artist Brooke Waggoner about her songs, "They're in my sleep. My dreams. My midnights. My mornings and afternoons. My weekends. My errands. Songs." She went on to talk about the responsibility of a songwriter. "They're now in the world and no longer contained in the privacy of my living room. I feel a sense of responsibility with that. Don't wanna waste people's time. What used to be written strictly for me is now meant for others..."

I thought she said it all so well. Better than me. I have to fight the music really hard to keep it from totally engulfing me. The music in my head literally becomes so loud that it is complicated for me to have rational thoughts and expressing those thoughts at times becomes impossible. I find myself stumbling and stuttering over simple sentences. I am glad that I am not the only weird chick on the planet. That's a pretty self-absorbed reason to enjoy a magazine, don't ya think?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Little Engine That Could

Total God moment in first grade today. I was reading a story to my class, "The Little Engine that Could." We were discussing positive thinking, etc. all the stuff that first grade classes talk about. Then God said - Look at that story again.

As I reread it to the class, God showed me some important lessons about life. So here's the scoop. There's a broken down toy train on the side of the road looking for an engine to help her get over the mountain to the other side. She seek help from a variety of sources. The first engine is too fancy and proud to stop and help - his awesomeness and busyness keeps him from getting involved. The second engine is too strong to take on small matters. He hauls big, heavy loads - a small load would not even be a challenge worthy of his time. Very task oriented. The third engine is old and tired and convinced of his uselessness. He repeats, "I can not." And will not even try. The engine of course that completes the task is the one that is small but says, "I think I can...."

I have always focused on the winning engine's positive thoughts and willingness to try. But today, God nudged me to look a little harder at the other engines.
Here's what he said, "Are you ever too full of yourself or too task oriented or too tired to do what I have called you to do?"
My response, "God, that's not comfortable to discuss with you in the middle of storytime."
God, "Are you ever too full of yourself or too task oriented or too tired to do what I have called you to do?"
Me, "OUCH!!!!!"
God, "What was the secret to the little engine's success?"
Me, "positive thinking and a willingness to try."
God, "Surrender and obedience to be used in the opportunity at hand even when others found it unimportant and insignificant."
Me, "What are you talking about? Is there an opportunity I'm missing? Is there a particular situation that I need to be more aware of?" (Now He's got my full attention while the students are crawling around aimlessly on the carpet wondering why I stopped in the middle of the story)

God, -----nothing------silence-------crickets chirping-----

So I don't know where God was headed with that conversation, but I don't want to miss anything on this exciting adventure.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Desperation and temptation

My quiet time this morning was in Matthew 4. I had an interesting thought after reading about Jesus' temptation in the wilderness. Satan tries hard to take advantage of us when we are tired, hungry, and alone. I've recognized this personally, and there it was in the account of Jesus' temptation. When I reach the bottom emotionally and physically, Satan's plans tend to sound pretty good, and I catch myself justifying temptation. I try to rationalize my way through the situation and examine my own thoughts and conscience - which of course is flawed by selfishness. Instead, Jesus just lays it all out against scripture. Scripture is always right. Anytime that my bright ideas are not lined out with scripture, that is not God's voice talking in my head. Sometimes I face temptation with desperation, and I panic. Jesus seemed to have a better plan.

Now - I don't know that any of that was new, but here's the new thought that I had. Sometimes I have been in situations where I am too tired, or drained, or whatever, to even think through or rationalize my actions. I wondered if that was where Jesus was emotionally on that day. Today when I read this account, I seemed to see some different emotions than I ever have before. Maybe Jesus quoted scripture because that was the only truth he could hang onto that day. I guess from Sunday School I always thought that Jesus had this temptation thing really well under control, (after all, He was God), but maybe, just maybe, there was more desperation in his voice than I ever heard before.

Rereading this, I'm not sure that I have done a good job explaining myself. But here's the bottom line. Rereading the account of Jesus' temptation made me think that he understands desperation in the face of temptation. And he handled it with the only truth that is certain. He did not trust even his own wisdom and understanding. He used scripture instead. If he needed to use scripture, maybe I should not feel so ashamed when I cannot rationalize my way out of temptation in my own strength. I guess it made me feel some relief that it was hard for Jesus, too.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


It was an awesome official launch for the Crossroads Community Church today. We had great worship, interesting preaching, and saw God move in incredible ways. Thanks for all your prayers over the last year. Please continue to pray for us as we begin meeting weekly and become a "real?" church. (Not sure what else to call it)

Many of my friends made it to the service today. It really meant a lot to me that they love me enough to want to be present on my "big day". I am richly blessed with great friends. Many times a day I take stock of my life and am amazed that God has brought me to this moment in time with the incredible people that he has surrounded me with. There might be better, more amazing people on the planet somewhere, but that is mighty hard for me to believe.

I'm not sure what ever happened to that kid who got picked last in P.E. I'm pretty sure that my coolness factor is still not that high, but I serve a God with the best coolness factor ever, and he deserves all the credit for the amazing relationships that I am blessed with.

It is overwhelming and humbling to try to fathom the greatness of God and the privilege to serve alongside him. I only want to have the courage and the faithfulness to stay on the big adventure with God - wherever that may take me in life. And I hope that God protects me from my own stupidity factor well enough that I don't screw it all up :)