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Showing posts from November, 2008

First Sunday of Advent

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In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.
Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD. Isaiah 2:2-5
Today is the first day of Advent, the season of anticipating our Deliverer. It is in this season that we become more aware of the darkness that encloses us. Despairing of the darkness of our own hearts, The heart is deceitful above all things, and despera…

MAYBE

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So, isn't that what our real answer is? Maybe.....

God, if this is really what you want, make the money appear and I will do it.

God, if this is really what you want, make it my spouse's idea.

God, if this is really what you want, [fill in your own condition].

This week in this class our church has called Starting Point (from North Point Ministries), the focus is on the promise God made to Abram, to make him a father of a great nation that would bless all nations. So, Abram accepts this promise, to an extent. When God was slow to fulfill it, Abram and Sarai time, they decided to just fulfill the promise on their own-Abram would sleep with Sarai's servant to bear an heir.

Isn't this so like us? God says, pray for the person sitting beside you with your friends. Your, ok, my response is, oh no, that couldn't be God. And He gets more forceful. My response: the professional pray-er is 2 seats down God-tell him. He doesn't let me off the hook. My response: I'll do i…

YES

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I have been thinking about the people who met God thru the Bible. Not the guys who met Him superficially. Many of the Pharisees did NOT meet Jesus tho they obviously could pick Him out of a line up.

I am thinking about Moses and God's relentless pursuit (Exodus 3 and 4), but I have talked plenty about him. What about Isaiah chapter 6? Meeting with the terrifying holiness of God, he became convicted of his sinfulness. Meeting God ruined him. He could no longer pretend. And after this meeting, God asks "Whom shall I send?" Isaiah didn't ask for specifics. He didn't ask about the terms of employment or the qualifications. He just said YES with all of his being because he say, truly saw, that doing God's work was more important, more real, more fulfilling than anything.
In John 4, a Samaritan woman meets Jesus. He knows her, everything about her, and she recognizes Him as the Messiah. He lovingly confronts her but also loves her just by breaching societal norms. S…

Thanksgiving

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You know, I am just so grateful for God in my life. And not just being in my life, but being in the lives of people I care about. I am so grateful that God continues in redeeming us. At the Turkeython was a woman I used to sponsor, came up from Virginia just to see us, who had relapsed and fallen apart 2 years ago. I wept over her. I felt so frustrated and lost myself when she "went out." Now, today, she was showing me pictures of her kids. I met her husband. She is smiling and happy. And I cried on the way home, thanking God for watching out for her when I had no choice but to place her in His care. She is so alive.

And thru the tears, I felt bad for God. As much relief as I felt tonight, I remember the worry and the tears and the prayers and the questions of those last nights that she was in my life. I only have a small group of women that God has placed in my care. You might pastor hundreds, teach 30, or mother 3. But God has all of us. Can you imagine how …

Say Yes

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A friend says, "Say "yes" and see what happens."

So I woke up today thinking of my yeses...

Yes, I will marry you, led me into a fun, fast wedding planning engagement.
Yes, I do, began a marriage that makes me crazy, challenges me to grow, reveals the worst in me but is never dull and still this husband and this union amaze me.
Yes, I need a new way to live, pruned my life of self destruction and gave me back hope.
Yes, I want to follow You, revived my spirit and created a new life.

But this other thing my friend speaks of is nebulous. Say yes...to what? There are two of us involved. My answer is always yes, but it is also always tempered by my husband's response. I make a lot of excuses like Moses, tho. I don't know that my answer is yes as much as my desire is to say yes.


Father, I give you all my excuses. I am laying them down here. You scare me. You ask for everything. You keep me on a "need to know basis." Please, continue to reveal Yourself and Yo…

Moses Part 2

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Here is the tension in the story, Moses hears God calling his name with the plan to send him to Pharaoh to rescue God's people. Moses, well, he isn't quite as open now.

Moses feels inadequate about himself, "Who am I?" Don't we all wonder that when God nudges us to offer to pray with someone or when we are asked to lead a group? I am just this knucklehead, I am just a woman, I am too new to the faith, I don't have a degree...
God reassures him, "I will be with you." And that is the answer, it is not our power. It is not me that does, but God. My life is in God, by God, thru God. My strength is from God. My gifts were bestowed by the Spirit. My salvation a grace obtained by the Son. I only need to lean into Him to find all the Power that I need.
Moses feels inadequate about his knowledge of God, "What should I tell them is the name of the God who sends me?" Have I had enough Bible college classes? Have I read thru the Bible enough times? I don…
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The flood of tears has stopped. Tho I was worried what I might see, I forced myself to peek and there was light, and color. Confession. Forgiveness. Mercy. Grace. Sounds like dance steps, and I suppose they are. Steps of the dance of fragile beings, of our relationships. A new day, a new hope, a new love.
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Question 5-What has God taught me through illness? I can relate this to the chronic pain I have. (BTW, Chris, are you still working on these questions?) God teaches me that I can rely on Him, that there is value in taking things slower, that He is still in control when I am not able to help Him. In my pain, I lean more into His strength. I spend more time in prayer, thanking Him for the pain because it means I am alive, that my body is working, that it allows me to rely on Him when my pride would so often leave Him as an after thought. The restrictions and limitations I run into make me sad sometimes as I feel like I am losing bits of me, but even if that is so, I find that I gain with God. I have been forced to pray and forced to learn to rely on Him. When my body is out of whack, my mind and spirit are still very active and I find I have these spiritual growth periods. Lastly, having pain now, I yearn all the more for the day that I will meet Dad.

Moses Part 1

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As I have been trying to discern my own burning bush, I have been studying Moses' call. Exodus 3 is the place I started for this. I think it is interesting that we worry about what God is calling us to do. Not that I think it is trivial, but I just always kind of figured Moses saw this talking, burning tree and was only worried about his speech impediment. It is really more like my own wrestling.

Like many of us, Moses knew he was a witness to something strange that was happening. There was this bush, looked like other bushes dotting this slope of the mountain, except flames lapped from it. Also, like many of us, Moses was curious so he went to investigate it. And, still like many of us, God called to him from within.

"Moses! Moses!" God called him distinctly, unmistakably. And Moses answered,

"Present."

He didn't ask who was it calling. He didn't try to figure out how he was being called. He didn't try to figure out what the call was. He just, like Mar…
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Question 4-What has God taught me through waiting?
So, I figured we would go back to the questions after the brief interruption of an emotional meltdown.
I don't wait well. God may be trying to teach me a lot...I ain't learning.
I want to problem solve. I want to strategically plan. I want to creatively resolve. I want to be in the thick of the process.
I do not want to wait.
When I know I am waiting, I am not waiting...I am thinking.
When I don't know that I am waiting, when I am just turning things over to God, I do a lot better. I can observe things around me, looking for God's touch. I can inhale joy. I can relax.
But waiting is filled with tension, angst, scanning, pouncing.
Maybe I need to not wait and turn the dang thing over to God immediately, huh?!
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I am not praying today. I can't. I think about it. I try, but then I end up with a "screw it, today sucks."

(How is that for "messing things up" Chris?)

Here I am, trying to focus my life on God and I am too tired, too empty. All I can do is sit. Everything is quiet within me. Day 3 of the squabble has sapped the last from me. I am tired of crying. I cannot apologize more. I am done. It is not in my hands anymore. (Was it ever?)

So I sit. I listen to the emptiness. I feel the broken edges. I cannot make a move toward God. I am utterly reliant on Him to care, to redeem, to forgive. There is no bargain, no dance, no joy, no sunshine. The storm has stopped raging, but it is not over. Not in my heart. I embrace him because He told me to. I cry because I cannot prevent it.

Maybe tomorrow the sun will come out.
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So, a reader emailed me to say they were in a bad space and didn't want to mess up the blog, LOL... This is a picture of me. Ok, the pearls are whack, and my hair is a bit darker, and-just imagine the picture of me to the right in the same pose!Grace makes it ok to be messy. Relationships, if we are real, are messy. With a mysterious God, with grumpy spouses, with goofy teenagers, with our own frustrating hearts. Grace is about letting the outside match the inside. If I am feeling crazy, it is ok to be a little crazy...but then I need (this is for me) to accept God's offer of grace and surrender to His care.Have you read my blog? I have fought with God, small group members, friends, God, husband, kid, God, work...I haven't been following Christ except by grace-from the beginning and for now.Left to my own, I curse out my husband, cry over my son, take control of everything, blame God...that is all before lunch. Now, I have another option. I can get honest with the godly fr…
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Question 3-What has God taught me from pain or sorrow or depression?
I don't know.
In fact, I really don't know.
Sorrow, well, that seems to be a place I have learned to lean into God more. I know His plans for me are good, so I trust Him with my heart and know He is with me in my grief.
Depression on the other hand is such a lonely place, a cold, dark place of abandon. I felt lost from God during those times. I trust Him, but I am bombarded by snickers and doubts. I try to follow Him, but it is as tho I am suddenly blind.
So, I don't know. Am I missing some great lesson? Maybe.
Help a sister out here....
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Question 2-What has God taught me from a lack of money?
Money...the love of which is the root of all evil, right?
This one is hard, Chris. I am not rich by any means. We usually live paycheck to paycheck. But I always have for what I need. Having grown up rather poor, money may not have the same value for me as it should. I think of myself as well off because I try to give money away. When I see someone in need, I want to be able to buy groceries. I can't do big stuff, but I would like to.
My husband's take on money is a bit different. He puts up with me asking to do stuff and buying food for the food bank, but having money to live comfortably is more his perspective.
Being a teenaged mom, things definitely were hard. I lived on handouts from charity and family. I disliked it so much I went to school to become a nurse so I would never have to rely on a dumb boy again for money. Now, I am paid pretty well as a nurse but I am also married to a dumb boy who provides for us as well.
C…
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I think Chris Z was trying to spur me on to blog when she sent me an email with a list of questions she was planning to meditate on this week.
So, I figured we could maybe use them as conversation starters here, or just to hear myself type, whichever happens.
Question 1-What has God taught me from failure?Have I failed? Oh yeah, in being the perfect (okay sometimes in just being the good) wife, in being a pleasant employee, in being a gracious follower of Christ...okay, I don't want to think further than that and get depressed before work. Just going to work today feels depressing.But in this God has taught me about humility-I am not supposed to be perfect or carry the world on my shoulders. I am a creation of God, not God. When I am humble, I remember this. When I am full of pride and ego, I forget. To me, being humble is being authentically and honestly who I am, nothing more or less.God has also taught me to lean into Him. I have a lot of junk, a lot of relationships, a lot of id…

Response to Grace

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This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. I know that should probably be something more impressive like parting of the red sea or even the Christmas story, which are both likable, but this story touches me.


The woman is nameless in the narrative, tho from the story we know everyone knew her name and couldn't believe she had the audacity to show up.


A Pharisee invited Jesus to have dinner with him, and Jesus went to his house and sat down to eat. In that town was a woman who lived a sinful life.



She was sinful, everyone knew that, too. Maybe she was the loose woman down the block or the town gossip or a spy for the Romans or just a mean nasty woman. Either way, she was out of place among the dinner guests, especially because she was the only one who was moved by grace.


She heard that Jesus was eating in the Pharisee's house, so she brought an alabaster jar full of perfume and stood behind Jesus, by his feet, crying and wetting his feet with her tears. Then she dried his fee…

Promise of Resurrection

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Die to self.

That is easier said than done, but it is also the beginning. I know that I cannot fix me...

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23,24

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5,6

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matt 11:28

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matt 10:39

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Cor 5:17

Well, you get the idea. I die to the fact that I am able to do any of this. Even as a child of God, I rely on God more, not less, to grow and become more like Jesus. God can see the deepest pla…

Help Me!

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This is how I feel today... tho thankfully I know better. I am living up to my neck today in character defects. I am so off my square. I am tired of myself.

But, the thing is, when I go back to the steps, step 3 tells me I can turn this all over to God...the temper tantrums, the squabbles, the nasty thoughts, the revenge plots, the fear of losing face, the insecurity, the sadness. I can turn my will and my life over to God. Anytime I choose.

And the Scripture calls out to me too:Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7) Of course the fact that Peter wrote that at all says we don't turn our worries over to God as a normative action. Otherwise, he needn't have wasted the time writing it, duh.

Why can't I leave all my worries and concerns to Him? If I did, might I not be more peaceful, less prone to act out on my defective (sinful) nature?

I hate those days when I know I know better and I can't do better! I just want to bang my head against a wall t…

Healing and Forgiveness

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I am in a 12 step group and I am a Christian. To me, there is no need to apologize for either thing. If you have a problem with it, well, it is YOUR problem.



But there are people who believe that 12 step groups are unnecessary for Christians. Who are we to tell Jesus how to heal someone?



I mean, think about it, some people Jesus healed by spitting on them. Some He just told to go home and somewhere along the way they realized a miracle had taken place. For others He proclaimed their sins to be forgiven. Jesus didn't treat everyone the same, tho the end result- forgiveness and wholeness thru humility, surrender, repentance, and faith was the same.

But, let's be honest, I can be guilty of the same bigotry. I can't understand how so and so could go to that church which is so "anything goes" as long as it is the "spirit" doing it. Baptists make me a little nervous, sorry Bill, since that was the first church I experienced as a child, before I knew Grace. Peopl…

Read this

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I don't even want to say anything today after reading Jon's entry. Just check it out: http://stufffchristianslike.blogspot.com/2008/11/433-something-god-never-says-to-us.html

Who am I?

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Isn't this the age old question?

Why do I answer a question with a question only to add another?

I am getting older. News flash, huh? But I have been struggling lately with the thought that I have not "done" enough. What is "enough," tho? When a friend from high school turned up in the obituary page having died unexpectedly, I wanted to quit my job, sell all my belongings and run off to some country to "make a difference." I had to actually restrain myself from resigning. Well, I knew my husband would have a cow, too.

The good thing about getting older is that I realize I am not ever, ever, ever going to fit into someone's cookie cutter idea of who I should be. And that isn't always about my rebellious streak or my weight :-) It is more about I am coming to terms with the woman that God is molding me into.

I am this loud, rowdy, belly laugh. Thankfully, I recognize this to be an attribute of my Father so I am ok with that. I am not demure and cont…

Election Day

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Yes, today is election day. On an overcast gloomy day I waited in a line outside in 45 degree weather for 45 minutes to vote. Why? My friend told me to.

LOL, well that is the most honest answer. I am not sure my vote counts anymore than my prayers do sometimes. I feel as impotent to affect government as I do to change God's mind. I believe I am a citizen of heaven and that I cannot expect too much out of this world. And yet, I voted.

It is your duty, she said. Ugh, the duty speech. Hate that one.

It is your right, she implored. Well, that's true as I look around the world at all the people suffering in countries where you are not participants, just victims, of the government.

It is your responsibility, she crossed her arms. Yes, that I understand.

It is a privilege, she spat, exasperated with me.

Hmm, is it a privilege to vote when my one little vote gets swallowed up in millions of others? Does anyone notice me and my vote, I wonder. How prideful. I don't want to be told what t…

Not much to say today

HANDY LITTLE CHART
God has a positive answer:

YOU SAY
GOD SAYS
BIBLE VERSES

You say: "It's impossible"
God says: All things are possible
(Luke 18:27)

You say: "I'm too tired"
God says: I will give you rest
(Matthew 11:28-30)

You say: "Nobody really loves me"
God says: I love you
(John 3:1 6 & John 3:34 )

You say: "I can't go on"
God says: My grace is sufficient
(II Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)

You say: "I can't figure things out"
God says: I will direct your steps
(Proverbs 3:5- 6)

You say: "I can't do it"
God says: You can do all things
(Philippians 4:13)

You say: "I'm not able"
God says: I am able
(II Corinthians 9:8)

You say: "It's not worth it"
God says: It will be worth it
(Roman 8:28 )

You say: "I can't forgive myself"
God says: I Forgive you
(I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)

You say: "I can't manage"
God says: I will supply all your needs
(Philippians 4:19)

You say: &quo…

For my Sisters

"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end….you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always...I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone." ~Thomas Merton

All Saints' Day

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As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses around us. So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. Hebrews 12:1 GNB
November 1st is the day set aside to commemorate all the saints and martyrs of our faith-known and unknown such as those martyred as a group. Altho it has been commemorated much longer, the day was made official by Pope Gregory IV in 837 A.D.

Before you freak out on me and scream something awful about papists, well, let's look at who are the saints. When we profess to follow Christ and are baptized into His death and raised into His life, we become part of the Communion of Saints. We are the saints to whom the Epistles are addressed. A saint is merely a person who earnestly tries to live out the Gospel and rely on Christ for their needs. Besides all these ideas were WAAAAYYYYY before the Reformation so just sit with it for a while. …