Friday, July 11, 2014

Needy- in the 1st world sense of the word

1 Thessalonians 4:11 Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. 12 Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.

I have really been thinking about this scripture this week. These are directions from a Christian shepherd. This was written down and passed to the early churches. Through years of trial and persecution this letter makes it into the first copy of the Christian Bible. Then it goes on to travel the centuries and the world.

It's no accident. 

God wished for us to hear these words. 

Now I must apply it to myself.

We live in a culture filled with needy people. No so much poverty stricken here in the US but needy for love, attention, validation, encouragement, etc....I often find myself as one of them.

When we come across someone who is not needy, it is quite a surprise. 

The person who seems to be anchored against the emotional hurricane that is our culture. How do they do it?

They know that Christ is all we need. They understand that for every need, of every kind, He is the answer. 

If you aren't a child of God this makes no sense, and even if you are you may still feel this is too simple a way to look at the world.

But do not discount this ROCK, this Eternal Foundation. 

I heard a song this week that said "What if all you understand could fit into the center of a hand? Then you found it wasn't you, who held the sum of everything you knew "

All the understanding I have, tiny as it may be, did not even come to me by my own strength. 

So when any thought pops up that indicates Christ and His word aren't enough, I must put it to this verse:

2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

and to this:

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

and to this:
Isaiah 66:2
“These are the ones I look on with favor:
    those who are humble and contrite in spirit,
    and who tremble at my word.

Friday, June 20, 2014

What is that to you?

21So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, "Lord, and what about this man?" 22Jesus said to him, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!" 23Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?"…

The old comparison game. 
It really started with the first mind that existed outside of God. Satan saying- "Hey, I want this divine being gig. Yeah what you got, that's for me". 
It almost seems like a law of nature, like magnetism, that we must look around us and questions why others do not have to walk the same road we do or seem to walk  a better one. 
That's what Peter is doing. 
He was just told he will have to walk a very hard road, leading ultimately to his death. 
The biggest downer prophetic speech in centuries and his first thought is "yeah but what about that guy, he's gonna have to die too right?"

I think this brings out two very good points:

1.) Real prophets speak hard things. Would Peter know spiritual abundance, prosperity of the task God asked of him? Yes, and Yes. He would be filled by Christ in wondrous ways but earthy hardship would be his companion as well. 


2.) We have stop looking intently in the lives of others for guidance or comparison. Yes, we can see and be inspired but ultimately we are all made for purposes so specific that only God's got the guidelines. Comparison ultimately places our knowledge on par with God's. There is no meter or scale of balance between me and another person. The scale, balance is between me and Christ and He chose to intentionally tip it in my favor on Calvary. No earthy trial or purpose compares to the work He has done in my favor. Nothing is too much to ask. Do I live this - no. Do I need to- yes. I pray that I would through His strength. 

Monday, May 5, 2014


Realized this weekend that hope is not just "wishful thinking". The kind of hope a Christian has is knowing something is as good as done. Our pastor put to words something I have been struggling with. 

I knew the key to overcoming sadness or loneliness was hope in Christ but I honestly did not know how wield hope in my life. You can actively use hope to fill the empty places in your heart. 

If my total forgiveness of sins is done, if my power for living free from sin is done, if my place as God's child is a done deal then I can have a heart full of hope for my future. 
If God hears my burdens and knows my needs then I can have a heart full of hope that He is actively working to equip me and fill me. 

To have filling hope like that you have to really trust Him.
I realize now my lack of joy and hope was actually doubt. 
Not doubt that God was God or that He was acting on my behalf but doubt that I could ever find joy in what He had planned. I wondered if sacrificial living and Christlike behavior would ever fill some of my more self centered hurts. I struggled with the idea that somehow He created me with a need that, His plans could not fill. 

Yeah, sometimes just putting something down in print, or admitting your thoughts helps you to see how broken they are. 

Trust restored, Hope renewed. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Midlife Crisis

I have reached that age where I really wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self a thing or two. 
Does that come with a certain age?

I guess you can probably feel that at 16 about your 14 year old self but there is something about nearing 40 that kicks this into high gear. 

I will be 38 this year and hubs is turning the big 40.

I would have sworn this would never happen to me. It was inconceivable that I would get flaky about getting older. Truth was I had no concept of what "getting old" actually meant. 

At 24 I was 5'8" and 125 lbs. My body could tackle any challenge without injury. I could read anything without glasses. My hair was free of grey strands. Yet, honestly I was wildly insecure and critical of myself. 

Now all I can think is, how dumb could I have been?
I want to shout at myself, "Wake up you fool, enjoy every minute, relish your health, take better care of it and for heaven's sake count your blessings."

Now, I find myself in a slump. Many pounds have crept on the old frame, I have a healing foot injury from my year of jogging and I had the eye doctor tell me at my visit two week ago "Wow, your eyes have gotten much worse for being still under 40". 

Grump, slump and grrr. I want to know I still got it, know what I mean?

I feel frumpy. I look at my pretty little daughter and realize soon she will be a million times prettier woman than I ever was at my best. Even as I write that I know it reveals how horribly vain I am. 

Then it hit me as I visited with a sweet older widow who will be 90 this year. She was describing someone she knew and she said, "She's a girl like you". She then giggled and apologized for calling me a girl, like as if she needed to. 

My thick as concrete brain finally got it- I am the 24 year old still. 

I am blind to what I have. 
To this 90 year old my age was a time of youth, joy and adventure. 
I have young children to watch grow, I have a husband who truly loves me (who still looks at me like I was that 24 year old), I can jog, I can afford reading glasses, I HAVE JESUS- daily teaching me to be present and accounted for in my own life. 

You know it's easy to discount the idea of counting your blessings.

"How naive", "How can I be made happy just because I am not suffering as badly as another person?".

It's not that you have to compare yourself to others, it's that sometimes you have to look around to see where you are.

It's the whole not seeing the forest for the trees idea. 

You can get lost in the ordinary, so much so that you might loose track of the fact that your ordinary has plenty of miracles in it. 

I only hope I live to be 80. I hope I do it with my eyes wide open. I hope I get out of my own head and really live. I pray that. I repent of being wrapped up in foolishness. To quote a famous group of theologians - *The Newsboys ;) - "faithfulness, not easy fixes". Time provides a true test of every heart.

* They also said "Whistles make for better mixes" which is equally true.
Check out the song: Secret Kingdom.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Affirmation vs. Compliments

Affirmation vs. Compliments
Maybe you did not know there was a difference.
I didn't think about it until I started reading "Practicing Affirmation" by Sam Crabtree.

This book brought to light how useless being nice can be. 
It's nice to say - You are pretty, cute, snazzy, have nice hair or some other surface claim that has nothing to do with a person's character.
That might give the person a little rush for the moment, it will not get them thinking about deeper character issues. Compliments will not stick or they can become an addiction which needs the next hit. 

I was guilty of tossing out compliments everywhere.

God centered affirmations are ones that point out the traits of God in a person. 

God made us in His own image.
Genesis 1:27
That means even the most hardened soul still has some traits of God in them. 

Crabtree points out that by looking for these and pointing them out, you can:
a) lift up that person's spirit
b.) encourage more of that character trait in them
c.) open the door for the gospel
d.) change how you see people around you to a more loving and godly light
e.) be praising God all day long since He gets credit for all these affirmations

So it sounds good but how?
How do you finds traits of God in us everyday people?

Learn the traits of God and look for them.
For example God is:
Gentle, loving, merciful, a good father, a loving teacher, a deep thinker, the inventor of organization, diligent in His work, etc... 
The Bible is full of examples, which means being in the Bible daily gives you a better chance of spotting these things. 

Then when you see one of these traits you simply say something like:
"God really made you a loving teacher".

That's it, that simple. Not something to be afraid of or worried about just something to make a priority. 

The book has so much more to offer than I can discuss here and I highly recommend it. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Surprising truth

I am not proud of the fact that I am a pouter, but it's the truth. 
I save this little gem of behavior mainly for my closest loved ones, the people who deserve it the least. 
Why am I a pouter?
I grew up under the instruction of movies, tv, magazines and books that instilled in me the idea that people meet my needs. A man meets my need to feel beautiful and special. Friends meet my needs to feel connected and encouraged. The list goes on and on. 

Obviously this idea that people are going to meet my needs leads to endless disappointment because low and behold the people around me have no idea they have been signed up for this job. 

Over the past few months I have been in some eye opening bible studies that have reminded me only one person actually signed up for the job of meeting my needs: God

I have been working on not having the same argument, the same pout sessions but keeping my mouth closed and praying about the needs I feel. 

30 years of wrong behavior has not gone away in a few months. 
Yesterday I was busy pouting about how someone had not met my needs and I resolved to pray about it. As I prayed I realized that the need I really had was to feel special and important to someone. 

So I prayed "God do something to help me feel special and important". 

Even as I prayed it, it dawned on me that He already done enough. 
He created me and all creation, even when He knew all the trouble I would be. He carried His love and millions of people through centuries of struggle and shaky faith. He came down here to the world of struggle and loved us purely.  He gave up everything for us. He rose again and gave us power over our own weakness. He gave us His own spirit to become one with us. He gave us the promise of eternal wholeness. He has babied me every day of my life. 

And much to my awe and amazement as I thought of this list, I could physically feel the pout fall away. I could feel the need being met in those moments. 

Crazy but constant- The truth will set you free. 

I no longer felt the urgent need to show that person how they had fallen down on their job. I no longer felt like a victim. 

I felt and knew I was complete in Him.

I am also ashamed to say it did surprise me for a moment how wonderfully well this kind of thinking works. 

I mean intellectually, I know hundreds of scriptures proclaim it. 
It was shocking how well magazines, movies, books, TV, the Internet, had me so convinced it would not work.