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Friday, October 23, 2009

A running epiphany

Wednesday night I was running in the rain when all of a sudden God connected all of these scriptures in my head. It was like a bolt of lightening in my brain. I got so excited and stunned and "why did I not see that" that I completely forgot to run for a few minutes. I came to an abrupt standstill in the middle of the street, in the rain, as I contemplated this truth.

In Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus is asked what's the greatest commandment to which he replies, "love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and all your strength. And the second is LIKE UNTO it. Love your neighbor as yourself."

As I meditated through that verse, I contemplated all those instructions about loving God. Love- how could it be that complex? Then I began to wonder about ways to demonstrate love to deity. How do you express your love to a such a being? Definitely through worship, adoration, and praise, but it seemed like God was showing me more. After all my husband loves me with his words and with his touch, but he also loves me by paying the bills and doing laundry and hanging out for a cup of coffee. Love is a many layered thing.

Then I thought through "the second is LIKE UNTO it" hmmm...reminds me of the "least of these" verse in Matthew 25. When we love the "least of these" we love Jesus. So loving our neighbor IS loving God. Who is our neighbor? That reminded me of the story of the good Samaritan. A man who showed us ministry to "the least of these."

The story of the good Samaritan reminded me of Jesus' meeting with the woman at the well. That reminded me that Jesus spent his ministry loving broken people.

All of this then raised the question, "how do I love my neighbor?" "how do I love the least of these?" that reminded me of all of the "one anothers" in scripture. "Put up with one another, forgive one another, exhort one another, pray for one another..." (there's bunches)

The "one anothers" are practical guides for how to love others. So here's my bottom line: practicing the one anothers toward the "least of these" is a Biblical way to show love to God.

Don't know if this makes much sense to anybody else, but the light sure came on in my head.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

As you go

Mornings begin early these days at my house. My alarm goes off at 4:20, then I snooze for 9 minutes before hitting the shower. After my shower, I stumble into my kitchen and make coffee. If I'm lucky I don't forget to add water, or grounds, or a filter. (all happened this week).

I rouse James who always sits straight up in bed, startled, and yells, "what?" We finish getting ready, and the two of us leave the house no later than 5:30 (after I've sent him back at least twice to brush his teeth) to head to football practice. James normally dozes on the way and leaves me alone with my thoughts.

Our crazy schedule leaves us without time to disciple our children. I find that I am unable to create any type of structured quiet time with my kids. I have felt guilty about this for a long time, but on Monday morning God reminded me that he does not mandate a devotional Bible, or a special program for discipling children.

This is the verse that popped into my head:
Deut. 11:19, "Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road and when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.

Then God's voice - "Are you not on the road? So talk to your son about me."

So I did. I shared with him some cool stories about Sunday, some things I had noticed in James 1 at church (see monday morning update). He engaged in the dialogue with a depth that only happens without an audience.

I realized that those moments in the car with my children count for kingdom purposes - whether we are laughing or being silly or talking about life. I want to use those moments with more intention.

I love that God's plan for discipling our children is easy and natural. Do it every chance you have, naturally. Watch for kingdom moments - moments to share God's truth, confess your faults, and pray with your kids. That is doable. Too bad it's taken me nearly 13 years as a mom to finally "get it".

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Monday morning update 10.18.09

Today was an emotional day at The Crossroads. People were moved to tears of brokenness and astounding celebration during worship. God's Spirit was very visibly at work today.

Shawn preached another sermon in the encore presentation of "chasing the lion". He used a new technolgy in the sermon. He used youversion live. All of his sermon points and scriptures were online, with the capability for us to take our own notes and email back prayer requests. I liked being able to see a variety of translations of a scripture at the touch of a button. (the regular paper outlines were available as well)

James 1:4 struck me hard, especially when I read it from The Message. This is my paraphrase since I don't have it nearby -" don't try to get out of adversity prematurely. Allow it to do its job of shaping your character." I admit to frequently looking for shortcuts out of bad times. I do not spend time rejoicing over how those times are shaping my character.

I was also touched by James 1:1 "I James, a slave of God...." We introduce ourselves to strangers with labels. "Hi, I'm LaRissa, I teach first grade, or I'm the pastor's wife, or I play the keys, or I'm Katie's mom." I wish that I lived in such a way that I could honestly quote that introduction from James. And nobody laugh about hypocrisy.

As I mentioned earlier, God was really moving during worship today. It felt great to play again after being out last week. I will confess that I was very distracted by my pedal scooting around on the floor. It is amazing how something so minor can be so distracting. I enjoyed the morning,I was touched by others engaged in worship, but I was not awestruck in worship until Shawn and I were driving home.

As we talked through the day, I was touched by how hungry people at The Crossroads are for God. They sincerely want to be surrendered and obedient. They attend church looking for how God wants to change them. They expect to leave better people than when they arrived. I love how they are expressive and real about what God is doing in their lives. As Shawn and I talked, I was moved to worship because God allows me to be a piece of this beautiful thing. He allows me to watch Him work in big ways. I worshiped because I am not worthy, and yet I am used.

Thank you, God for using me for your kingdom. Help me to live so that I could say that I am your slave, without laughing because I know it's a stretch of the truth. Move in Anna. Draw people to your truth. Help us to want you desperately.

race for the cure

I've had a great weekend. The race for the cure 5k was amazing. Seeing 30,000 people come together to raise money for cancer research is a very real reminder that cancer affects us all. We have all lost someone we loved to the horrible disease.

As for running - well the sheer numbers made it nearly impossible. I did finally get out of the crowds by leaving the street and running through people's yards. Running on uneven ground and leaping over manhole covers left my feet a little sore.

I think next race I will arrive earlier and try to line up closer to the front. That way I could avoid some of the smooshing. I have a scrape on my side from the iPod my neighbor was holding. It was that crowded.

My favorite part of the race was seeing the signs on people's backs that told who they were running to honor or celebrate. I saw moms with pink survivor tags running alongside daughters, husbands with surviving wives, and even large extended families walking together. The saddest moment was when I was jogging down a sidewalk and passed a man in his forties running and crying. On the back of his shirt was a picture of his wife he had lost.

I entered the race to prove that I could run. I wanted motivation to work out. But what I found was one of the most touching and beautiful moments in my life as I saw people united around a single cause. Now I am looking for another race to run. I never dreamed that Shawn and I would be comparing calendars to see when I could schedule racing. How crazy life is sometimes!