Monday, April 30, 2012

The Law of Love

Most of us don't have great associations with the word "Law".
Rules and boundaries, especially in our culture, aren't given a great deal of respect.

I have a theory on this.
I think if you submit to a "law" or rule for any reason other than Love, you have set yourself up for a trap to ultimately disrespect that law.

For me obeying the laws of the USA is an act of love. I love my country so I will obey it's laws because I want to see it prosper and the laws were designed to ensure that. Ultimately though, I obey God's laws first.
I obey God's laws for the same reason.


Now with a little investigation we can see many other reasons to obey laws, such as

the desire to look good in other people's eyes,

the desire to avoid punishment,

the desire to prevent others from harming me,

or the desire to believe that good actions make you a good person.

Any reason to obey a law other than love is laden with traps. Sparkly glinting bear trap teeth lie right under those ideas.

Take something as simple as lying.
For the Christian the bible clearly makes no exceptions on this- Do not lie.

The loving reason not to lie is that it hurts the God I love. He wants to love and protect me and all disobedience hurts Him, physically on the Cross and emotionally in His Spirit.

But what if my real motivation not to lie is I don't want people knowing I lie, I don't want to face trouble because of a lie, or I just don't want to think of myself as a liar?

Those reasons can keep me from lying for a time but eventually the opportunity will come up for a lie with no obvious consequences. A lie so innocent in appearance others will call it a White Lie. A kind lie. A lie that does good things.

Only love will keep me from making the choice to lie at that time.

Only the thought that my God, who knows more than I, will be directly hurt by a seemingly harmless choice.

Only that love will stop me from lying.

Only love can prevail over the "logic" of the moment.

Only Love can see what no human eye will ever see.
Only Love is there when we are totally alone.
Only Love can stand in the face of our innermost thoughts.
1 Corinthians 13:8 Love never fails
If you read that verse in context, Love is the support that forms the foundation of every other act of Christian life.

I don't know about you, but this really makes me think long and hard about why I make the choices I do.
Especially in the areas where I am struggling to make choices that honor God's law.

Do I not curse because I don't want my kids picking it up?

Or do I not curse because I love God and His word says:
Ephesians 5:4  Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
That and about 16 other verses put the kibbosh on the long list of curse words. Let's face it, under that definition, most curse words either describe something in a flilthy way or involve foolishly using words in places where they have no actual meaning.

To be truthful, I admit here and now it wasn't the Love of God that kept me from cursing, hence I occassionally curse when my kids aren't around.

BINGO- no love, no power.
No iron to the will.
No love and you get all bark and no bite.

God's Love made the Law and Christ's Love in us is what will keep it.
I can tell you, I will be asking God to help me love Him more in every area of my life.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Go Fly a Kite!

As goes the quote "The best laid plans of mice and me often go awry". Okay, it's "mice and men" but trust me, "me" is just as accurate.
Sunday was the visual aid on that quote.

I am a natural born planner. I enjoy planning. I like to picture how every detail will come together to make an experience great.

Unfortunately it's the perfect set up for disappointment, except for this Sunday.

Sunday, I cleaned the house as my husband prepared all the food, with the plan that after Church some friends of ours would come and eat with us. My daughter was so excited because she loves their daughter and has wanted her to come over for months.

At church we discovered our friends were home sick with various illnesses. We decided to ask another family to come for dinner but they too had other commitments.

"Well", we told ourselves, "It just was not meant to be".

For once I actually felt okay about my plans falling through. It was a beautiful day.

After a round of basketball with my daughter, we decided to try to fly a kite.

Truth is, I have never in 35 years of life been able to get a kite in the air for a long flight. Okay, at the beach but that is really cheating because the wind never stops there. I fully expected we would run around the field for a while, laugh and call it a day.

On the third try the kite took off.
Soon I had let out all the string.
I will not lie, my heart was racing.
My daughter brought me the string from another kite and we tied it on, and let it all out too.
It was exhilarating!
It must have been a football field of kite string up in the air, maybe more- it took forever to wind up all that string.

My plans did not account for that.
I did not even bring enough string.
If that's not a metaphor for the Christian life, there never was one.
Expect great unexpected things, act like they are going to happen, because by faith they will.

I think it was a very personal gift just for me from God.
He knew exactly what would impact me the most, comfort and refocus my heart.

I hope He snags you out of what ever rut you are in to day and plays that perfect note of a new song in your life.

Monday, April 16, 2012

2012 Snake odyssey

Don't let the following blog entry fool you, seeing a snake does make my heart race and yelping noises come out of my mouth, but....
I also go into action mode.

As my face book friends know last night, as I did the last walk of the day with our new puppy (an adorable Australian shepherd mix name Ginger) my eye caught something as soon as we stepped out the door.

On the brick path leading to our above ground pool.

A snake. It was probably a foot and a half long, brown with diamonds on it's back with a small head. It was dark and honestly I could not tell if it was poisonous.

I hustled the pup back into the house.

The snake seems to lounging on the walk, in no hurry to leave. This makes me rather unhappy.
Went back out and grabed a broken shovel handle that is propped up against our shed.
I was thinking to scare the snake off.

At this point,  it ain't scared.
I get pretty close and it is only slowly moving down the path.

That was the moment I decided it was going to die. I was tired. I still had to walk the dog. I still really did not know if it was poisonous. Done deal.

God must have been in it because the first whack seemed to be right on it's head. After several more wild mostly missing whacks it was obviously dead and bleeding on my walk way. I scooped it up with the stick and flung it into the woods, walked the dog and went to bed.

Honestly I was kind of proud to have handled it on my own and with out grievous injury to myself.

It made me think about the Spiritual gifts lesson from church last night.
I think God made me a serious focused snake killer.
I do really get this supernatural sense of focus when dangerous things happen.
A car pulls out in front of me- I am just going to swerve around it with out blinking. I will be nervous only later when I realize what happened.

Spiritually I am pretty much the same way.
I seem to recognize danger and deal with it swiftly.
No hesitation, no messing around, just do it.
Later on I will realize how much danger was really involved.

I am not really special in this aspect because, each one of us has a gift. Not all alike, but all important.

Why would God give us such gifts?
So we could all have something cool to blog about?
If you read 1 Corinthians Chapter 12-14, which a just great to read any way, it pretty clear why we have them.
God gave giftings to build up His church (ie. all the folks who call him Lord and mean it).

The encourager for time of stress.
The teacher for times of questioning.
The prophet for times where clarity is needed.
The wise for times where direction is needed.
The ones full of faith for times of doubt.
The servant heart for work God wills to be done.
The healer and miracle worker for when God wants to open blind eyes to His glory.

The pastor made a great point: We use the gifts we see in others as anchors to get us past times of need or crisis.

The person working the gift is not the point, but how it effects the bonded unified body of Christ on Earth is.
Does it make us better witnesses?
Does it make us stronger in our faith?
Does it give a wounded soul the push to move forward?
If yes, then mission accomplished.

In the back yard me being a snake killer only really means something if it actually keeps my Children and dog safer.
Truth is that was probably just a rat snake, who dilly dallied a little too long in my yard but if and when it's a life or death type snake issue I will know I can act.
Weirdly a giant king snake cruised the same path this morning when I was gardening and I did not feel the same rush to kill it. I knew what it was and I let it pass on by.
Hey, I have the gift of snake discernment ;).

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Answered Prayer

Thinking about prayer today.

I have strong feelings about prayer.
I think it is so powerful and yet so neglected.
I think it it so essential to knowing God, yet so difficult to understand.

I pray out of joy, fear, obedience, need, longing, etc...
I pray God will show me how to pray.
Sometimes I am afraid to pray.
Sometimes my prayers go unanswered and it hurts deeply.

I have a long history of answered prayers and when I get discouraged I think about those prayers.
Today I celebrate answered prayer and the trust it built in me.

  • At 16, I was very lonely, my BFF ;) had made other friends and I missed that deep connection. I thought I was destined to be a missionary and had come to terms with the idea that I would never marry, but I knew I needed friendship. I prayed deeply and sincerely for a best friend. Not six months later I met Michael. Never in a million years did I want expect the answer to my prayers to be my soul mate and now husband of 15 years. Trust me my high school was not a hotbed of men grounded in intregrity and honor.

  • My son was born with a kidney defect but after many prayers has never had one symptom of the illness.

  • Prayed 20 years for a dear friend to come to understand and know Christ as her saviour. Last year she did.

  • Laid hands on and prayed for a friend who could not have children. She had to stop all fertility treatments and was discouraged. I asked God to give her a baby she could see was directly from Him. Two months later she found out she was pregnant. Timing wise she got pregnant right around the day I prayed.

  • Had no vehicles, so hubby and I got on our knees in prayer and tears, within a day we had a truck. Within a month we had a car. We got them both debt free and were better off financially than before.

  • An answered prayer I did not even pray(this was a hearts desire I was too afraid to pray for)- out of the blue friends offer to keep my children so I could go on a week long mission trip to Mexico. It was my first mission trip. At the time I was praying deeply for our church to get a pastor and did not even dream this could happen.

  • During parenting struggles with my son prayed God would change his heart. A year later he has undergone a radical change and I take zero credit. I was consistent in my parenting but only the Holy Spirit could change a heart. (many prayer warriors prayed this prayer for me)

  • Several friends husbands needed jobs and with prayer they found ones that were very good fits for the families.

  • A friend's mother had a falling out with her and I prayed they could reconcile. Two weekends ago they did.
Some would quickly say luck, coincidence or fate were responsible for these events.
I can only say I walked in these feet and lived this life and no one is this lucky. Random chance bound by the laws of math has been defied in my life.

What these and thousands of other experiences have taught me were:
To pray boldly, God will show you if you are praying for something outside of His will.

To be expectant, look for God working it the situation.

And to trust God, he doesn't need direction from us, just share your concerns and trust Him with them.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easter Sunday

I hope, I really hope, you have been pondering just where you might go to worship on Easter Sunday Morning.
To be honest, I don't even really need to know why you want to go, just that you are tossing around the possibility. I would be thrilled to know you chose to go.

Worship is a very personal thing, and I believe that's why choosing a place to worship is so personal.

We all want a good fit.

If you are a person of Joy, you want a joyous service.
Similar for the quiet person, the reverent person, the irreverent person, the family centered person, the beauty loving person, etc... The list is as varied as we humans are.

I have my likes and dislike as any other person. For a long time these guided my satisfaction and dissatisfaction with worship.

Jesus, I am sure, had great patience with me, still does for that matter.

Ultimately because of the hardheaded goofball that I am, He had to break me to teach me what worship was about.


God (father, son, holy spirit).

Now that's not to say I begrudge any other reason that gets a person to service. If you came to "make Momma happy", great come on in, there's someone here who wants to meet you.

HIM, He's seeking after you. He always has been.

Worship is what can happen once you become close and dear friends. He, your savior, and you, the adopted member of the family, relishing your time together.

Sure the family is full of odd ones,
ones you can't relate to in one way or the other,
ones that are grumpy when they get stressed,
ones that forget to look out for the outsider,
ones that are a little to happy with the same old same old,

but deep down we ultimately discover we are all odd ones, un-relateable in some way,
but all worth His death on a cross.

Jesus wasn't looking for a church without oddity, He was and still is looking for a church whose devotion to Him overcomes sin. Sadly that's not always easy to find.

For the one who has discovered what worship is and your walk with Jesus is getting longer in length, He can even call you to a church that's not very good at any of the things Jesus taught. He may ask you to be his voice in that place for a season. That may or may not result in the revival you crave to see.

Either way obey his call.

Easter Sunday celebrate the choice of the Son to die to free all mankind from sin (failure), and the power of the Father to raise Him from the dead to give new life to all mankind (a fresh start of pure freedom).

Mercy, forgiveness, God's power, the very same things that make unity and worship in a church possible.