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Can You Hear Me Now?

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

There Was a Little Girl, Who Had a Little Curl...

“There are some times when the grace of God allows you to ENJOY God’s creation and there are some times when the grace of God allows you to E N D U R E…” This is another passage from “The Nature of God” recording I had mentioned some time ago. I’m still hoping to find out who the speaker is…

I woke up this morning in such a bad mood. I didn’t even realize it til I got to work and looked at a few of my co-workers and just felt disgust and internally rolled my eyes at my placement here.

I think people, women particularly because we’re so relational, should wear a little “mood indicator” on their clothes…so approaching “victims” would be aware of impending attack. During these times of intense internal struggle, I hold on to the hope of my salvation. I try very hard to keep my mouth closed and sometimes I even warn people. I pray that my transformed self would shine through and I would muzzle the animal growling within, trying to escape and devour.

I have NO reason to feel or act this way. I am healthy. My family is healthy. I have a job. I have family that loves me. I have things. I have Christ. I have a good church with an awesome Pastor. I have ability. I have wisdom. I have friends. I do not struggle financially or mentally or intellectually, beyond what is normal. Yet I am ‘feeling’ things I can’t explain, nor can I justify.

It doesn’t make it any better to admit it. It actually makes it worse, because in recognizing the potential of this ‘animal within’, I am now accountable to my own actions today. This is when the phrase “ignorance IS bliss” applies so readily. I would LOVE to claim ignorance to my actions and just lash out and bring verbal destruction through my “wit”. God won’t let me. I would love to let people know this truth…so they’d understand that I am HOLDING BACK my flesh intentions and maybe appreciate it some, again God won’t let me.

God is the kind of Father that wouldn’t write an excuse for my work or school if I mess up on my own accord. He will LET me experience the consequence of my “free will”. This is probably the BIGGEST downside to free will…I am free to DO or SAY anything….YAHOO!!!! but wait, there’s more….CONSEQUENCES to my actions, bummer dude!

I guess I’ve made my point, whatever it was and I’m hoping to endure through today (by the grace of God) and be of “good cheer” tomorrow. That is my prayer.

Do you Remember the title poem?
There was a little girl,
who had a little curl,
right in the middle of her forehead.

And when she was good,
she was very, very good,
and when she was bad,
she was HORRID!

Conversations That Make You Go: HUH?

My darling husband called me one day last week (like most every day) to “check in” and let me know he’s alive and just going back to school from work to his last class. He has JUST enough time to run by the “lab” and see if his latest “fix” will work on his project.

This is our brief conversation:

“I think I figured out how to make our circuit work.” He tells me.

“What circuit, honey?” I ask.

“Our project. The board has 8 holes and we’ve only filled 1, which leaves floaters that either aren’t being read or causing the problem because there is nothing to read.” He says in all calm.

“Oh, so you either have to fill the holes, or tell the circuit to SKIP them, right?” I query with pride.

“We have to fill them, with 1’s or 0’s.” he explains simply.

“Oh, of course, 1’s or 0’s. Everything is 1’s or 0’s.” I state.

He had already offered me the course review for his binary class. About the time I THOUGHT I understood it…he had me add some 1’s and 0’s and I messed up. It seems binary is not a universal language after all.

These are the conversations with the future Computer Engineering husband of mine. Thank GOD he understands this techno-talk, even better he actually enjoys the stuff! But I’ll tell you something else, if you ask my husband what his very favorite movie in the whole world is…he won’t be able to answer, or if he does it will be hours later, after much contemplation.

Just one more case in point that God has created each of us for a different purpose. In the words of a great teacher I once heard: “Same goal, different roles.”

Monday, February 27, 2006

Mind Molding 101: The Death of Creativity

Don’t color outside the lines…the grass is green…the sky is blue…the round peg goes in the round hole. These are the things we teach our children, just as we were taught as children, in an effort to comply with our truth, in adherence to our civilized society teachings. I almost fell for it myself. Thank GOD, I’m a rebel.

That seems a strange statement really, as someone who was always crying about “not fitting in”. I am ALMOST to the point where I can truly embrace my inner-rebel and rejoice that I am not a cookie-cutter mold of a woman. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with the cookie-cutter mold of a woman, it just isn’t what God has for me or what I believe he has for ANYONE.

I am so NOT going to define cookie-cutter mold of woman because having no first-hand experience it would all be observation and that lacks true experience, so I’ll leave it where it is; you have your own ideas about it anyway. It’s one of those things that could just get me into trouble for generalizing anyway.

Okay, so back to the subject at hand; creativity and its death. Why is it we feel so compelled to teach children the RIGHT way to color and to play? Is it just ‘spillover’ from teaching them the RIGHT way to act? Are we so concerned, as adults, that our children might be labeled non-conformists that we would rather break that independent, creative streak long before it asserts itself in adult circles.

I taught various levels of preschool while I was finishing college and let me tell you there is a marked difference in the creative outlet from the age of 2, to the age of 7. The 2 year olds are free to explore and invent their universe (within the confines of a space and time continuum of course). They can see, hear, and smell things most adults can’t. I believe they truly have spiritual senses, untainted by the expectations and reality of others. This quality is embraced by teachers and parents…until the child matures.

As the children mature, especially in a preschool environment, constrictions are placed on them with regards to the creative outlet. They are no longer so free to see, hear, and smell things in newness. They are EXPECTED to play “right” to color “right”, to behave “right”. The problem I’ve always had with this is; “who defines right?” Who first decided that the only RIGHT way to color, was in the lines? Who first decided the sky should always be blue, because that is a GOOD day? Who first decided that the round peg must enter the toy from the round hole? I can assure you, these round pegs can sometimes go in through the triangular holes too, not to mention the square holes.

By the time the children were older, and coming to preschool only after elementary school, they were becoming more and more alike in behavior and while it was predictable and ‘safe’ for us as teachers, it also lacked uniqueness and the creative edge we are each born with. The children went from becoming lost in their creative process, to desiring positive feedback for the “RIGHT” way to do things. Thus begins the judgment which sets the tone for our future in education and career experiences.

I am not an early childhood education specialist. I have spent some time reading and studying the subject due to my own self-awareness and my interest in Art Therapy. I do not claim to know the answers for every child. I DO know, however, that each child is truly unique. Each child is created by God, with a unique fingerprint fashioned to glorify the Father in the way He decides. I pray that parents would embrace the unique spirit God places within each of us and help to nurture this creative spirit so that a child learns at an early age: “God didn’t make you to fit in, He made you to stand out.”

This week, as we encounter children, maybe our own, maybe others, try to stop and see their unique fingerprint as God formed. Let them color outside the lines, and sit with them and color outside the lines alongside them. Then work that round peg into a new hole, just because you can!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Here are some awesome lyrics from a song that is speaking to me and I hope it speaks to you.

Todd Agnew “My Jesus”
From his new album: Reflections of Something

Which Jesus do you follow?
Which Jesus do you serve?
If Ephesians says to imitate Christ,
Why do you look so much like the world?

Cause my Jesus bled and died
He spent His time with thieves and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the arrogant
So which one do you want to be?

Blessed are the poor in spirit, do we pray to be blessed with the
Wealth of this land
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness
Do we ache for another taste of this world of shifting sand


And who is this that you follow
This picture of the American dream
If Jesus was here would you walk right by on the other side
Or fall down and worship at His holy feet

Pretty blue eyes, curly brown hair and a clear complexion
Is how you see Him as He dies for Your sins
But the Word says He was battered and scarred
Or did you miss that part
Sometimes I doubt we’d recognize Him


Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet might stain the carpet
But He reached for the hurting and despises the proud
I think He’d prefer Beal St. to the stained glass crowd
But I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud

I want to be like my Jesus
Can I be like You
I want to be like my Jesus


Lately I’ve read some really disturbing entries in this world of “blogdom”. I’ve read religious judgment and opinion and exclusion and prejudice and nothing short of ‘hate’ in the veiled, protected words of people. It makes me sad that this powerful tool we have; our words are being used to destroy others. It makes me sad that some people desire a platform to engage others in their own evil intentions.

It makes me sad that while we continue to evolve technologically, to the extent that we could survive and thrive without ever leaving our home, we have yet to evolve to maturity by Biblical standards. In our searching and seeking to find more and more and more in the land of excess, we have stepped on, stomped over, and pushed away anyone or anything that threatens our advances in the name of democracy and freedom of speech. We continue to give the enemy earthly victories and literally hand over souls to his efforts as we backstab each other with incredible ferocity.

I continue to hear un-churched and de-churched people deny or renounce Christian beliefs because of these things. Are we so self-serving that the very lives Christ was beaten, bled and died for are of no interest to us? WWJD is dead in our hearts. We’re almost completely immune to the pain of others in our selfish pursuits. Do we even recognize Jesus when He interacts with us? Can we even discern His voice among the crowds?

Some of you continue to pretend there is NO problem and will probably even comment that I’m exaggerating a few very minor incidents. Some of you would say this is all just done in fun. I challenge you to ask the un-churched and de-churched people in your community what they think of “Christians” and “Church”, then listen to the responses. We act NO different then them, yet we profess to be “changed”. We profess our RENEWAL in Christ, yet we walk in the same defeat, with the same “baggage” we had before we encountered Christ’s redemption. When we engage in the idiocy of some of these ‘posts’, we are not only picking up that old baggage, but we are handing it out to others in rapid succession. When we assign ourselves the judge of these posts, in the name of Christianity, we are doing even a greater disservice.

Our parents taught us to leave the beehive alone, because we will get stung…severely. Some of these ‘authors’ are nothing more then a hidden beehive waiting to ‘sting the victory’ right out of you. In the words of our parents, “get away from that, you’re going to get hurt!”

Ephesians 4:1-3 "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Friday, February 24, 2006

On The Bench

I played basketball in Junior high school, many, many years ago. I didn’t play in high school mostly because I didn’t want to be labeled a “jock” through these formative years, though as it turns out I was labeled “brain” which might have been worse. Another story…another time…

I was always freakishly tall compared to the other girls, though thankfully not terribly clumsy on my feet, so, by default, I was the better of two centers and started and played most all games. I was thinking about the times I had to sit the bench. Either I had fouled out, or was exhausted, had lost my hustle and needed rest, or God forbid, I was playing poorly. In my junior high school mind, sitting the bench for any reason was almost unbearable. It was like a sign of failure and defeat. Even in exhaustion, those who were sequestered to the bench knew the stigma associated with being a proverbial benchwarmer.

Even in my immaturity, from the bench, I could see the team’s weaknesses clearly. I could see, as our coach did, when someone wasn’t “covering their man”. I could see when the ‘hustle’ wasn’t there. I could see all of this, yet I was totally disabled from doing anything about it. Talk about frustrating. If ONLY I could get back in the game. If only I could get some play time. If only… The coach looks from the perspective of the whole team, in weakness and strength. The coach must rise above 'self' desire and need, and look to the big picture, the ultimate end, not just a sequence of moments, but the final outcome.

I’m thinking now about how often we spend our time ‘on the bench’ of life, not engaging in life, not PLAYING in life. I know sometimes we bench ourselves for reasons unknown to anyone but us…and God. As art imitates life, so does bench warming. When we willingly disengage from life and ‘bench’ ourselves, I believe sometimes it’s a self-defense kicking in for fear of rejection or failure.

In what I poetically call my “observant” years, I spent so much time on the “bench”, claiming it for growth and wisdom that I was almost incapacitated when it came time to “get in the game”. I’d have strong reactions to what I was seeing, yet I wouldn’t get back in the “game”. I felt powerless and insignificant in my own life experience. It was as though life was happened TO me. I couldn't HEAR the coach, because I wasn't even IN the game, I was on the sidelines.

I heard a pastor preach once about getting in the ‘game’ and how God desired us to get in the game and play fully. I think he forgot that the time of the bench can be healing time. I think he forgot that even in times we spend on the bench, we are still very much a part of the TEAM. From the bench I saw with a new perspective what I can and MUST do when I’m back “in the game”.

I also know sometimes GOD calls us to the “bench” to refresh, renew, protect, and prepare both a defense and an offense for our game. We’ve all spent time contemplating life and our next move and sometimes the best place to do this is from the ‘bench’ where we slow down and WATCH and LISTEN to the ultimate “Coach” about our next “play”. In times I am NOW called to the bench, I try to remember my "Coach" can see from a "team" perspective what I can only see from MY perspective. I pray that I would use my time on the bench for His purpose, not mine and that my time there would be rewarded with a fresh perspective and energy to be a part of the team of God.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

What To My Wandering Mind Should Appear...

No, NOT a miniature sleigh and 8 tiny reindeer…good grief, it’s WAY too early for that, isn’t it?

Lately I have had WAY too much time on my hands. Bad things can happen when I have TOO much time on my hands. I’m sure in this free-time I’ve been visiting areas of the mind that were not supposed to be found.

What happens to my mind when I have too much time? My mind begins to wander…I don’t complete thoughts without another thought coming to full view. Add to that, my incredible ability to envision something mentally and now I’ve got full-blown, movies rolling through my head of my own creation. Well, actually not movies, more like previews, because of all the jumping from story to story. It would be nice to be able to put it to paper and make it real, though I’m certain it would lose so much in the translation or end up like one of Salvador Dali’s paintings…melting away…

Why do I have so much free time? Without sounding too prideful, I’m a bright person, who has never had a job that required me to work at my potential…and I finish my 8 hours of work on average in about 2-3 hours. Add to that, weeks where one of the physicians is gone…and my workload is now reduced by 1/3. So after my 45 minutes of work, I sit here…thinking, thinking, thinking… I think sometimes, God placed me in this specific position to give me time to think.

It reminds me of some movie…I think…possibly even some “Twilight Zone” episode where a person is completely solitary and is forced to think and create his/her own existence. You’d think it would be euphoric and ideal, but actually it’s quite horrific. In solitude, our minds wander off to dark places, one very clear indicator why God made us relational people.

My mind then drifts to POW’s that were placed in solitary confinement for days, weeks, even years, sometimes without light…they were ‘messed up’ (for lack of a better term), when they were “rescued” or “released”. The mind took them places no person should ever go. They suffer from hallucinations? Or do they really see things we can’t in our state of consciousness?

Our reality is exactly that: OUR REALITY. Just because YOU didn’t see it, feel it, hear it; doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. By government standards; just because you DID see it, feel it, hear it, doesn’t mean it DID happen! Think; Roswell.

See what I mean…I’ve now traversed from the mind-numbing work I do all day with numbers and figures and phone calls and people and interactions and forms and checks and balances….to this HUGE cavernous space, full of uncertainty and unknown things.

When I put the “God-Spin” on it, I think it could be His way of reminding me that the world is bigger than I can see or imagine…that HE is bigger than the box I’ve so neatly placed Him in all these years. He’s splitting out the sides of the box and now like a sunrise, He’s reflecting to the whole world…and my box is destroyed. My safe, understood world is now blown to bits.

I thank GOD that He is willing to push me and prod me and let my mind wander freely and I pray that it ultimately always draws me back to Him as I seek to understand His love and His desire for me.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (New International Version)
8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.
9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts"

Testing, Testing...Ready Set, Endure!

I had a harrowing experience this morning. Don’t you love the word: HARROWING? According to Encarta Dictionary it means: upsetting, evoking feelings of fear, horror, or disgust. That word pretty much sums up what I felt this morning.

I know by now you are on the edge of you seat waiting, wondering; “what happened, what could have happened!”

Let me tell you what happened... Due to my random sleep patterns while I am healing from this cold (I toss and turn all night), when I get out of bed my hair looks something akin to Medusa on a bad day. I’m certain my husband would ALSO risk turning to stone should he make some comment about it, though thankfully he is far more intelligent than that, plus he was raised around only women!

So I head off to wet my hair (in the winter I shower at night and sleep with wet hair, which probably only adds to this ‘hair challenge’)…anyway…I head off to wet my hair and go to my ‘dressing room’ (translation: spare bedroom with vanity used to apply cosmetics and dress without husband and dogs disturbing and infesting with hair, in that order…I think).

I’m sitting at my vanity and apply my cosmetics. I’m a firm believer, less is more, so that whole application process takes maybe 3 minutes. I then plug in my hair dryer, flip the switch and it doesn’t do a thing. I then proceed to move it to the bottom plug and flip the magic switch…nothing…. I got nothing….

Okay, so as not to panic, I then move the dryer to a completely unrelated plug, somewhat far away from the vanity but still in view, even with my nearsightedness…contact….flip the switch…nothing….I’m not one to freak out…I’m honestly not even so vain as to not just put my hair UP and go with a wet head…though that look never really worked for me. I decide it’s probably something simple, like that little test switch…so I reset that switch…flip the power switch….nothing….by now I’m looking at my wet, gel covered hair, slicked back in a fashion similar to Elvis, not Skinny Elvis mind you, seeing as how this is not retro-dress day, I decide I better take more drastic measures.

Here are my choices: Remember while I am most productive in the morning, I’m least pleasant in the morning. Add to that, challenges like these…toxic mixtures.

Choice A. Go to Wal-Mart (they are 24 hours after all, prepared for just such a tragedy) and purchase a new dryer. I always get to work early anyway and probably have plenty of time.

Choice B. Just drop the dryer, search for hair pins or possibly even duct tape to put hair up and either develop a new fashion trend in duct taped hair, or risk the embarrassment of the ultimate “bad hair day”.

Choice C. Bang the dryer like mad against any hard surface and “fix it”.

Okay, so I’m a women immersed fully in a life of convenience…I select option C. It often works for my work computer monitor and I’ve seen this technique perfected by my father with the old TV’s that had to be slapped around a bit to work properly. Some dad’s teach their daughters how to change a tire…my dad taught me the art of “Appliance Compliance by Banging”.

I bang that sucker against the chair I had previously been primping in…and by now my husband, the perfect Phlegmatic, the engineer-in-training, enters said ‘dressing room’ with that look, only my husband can make that look… It’s the raised double eyebrow, eyes wide open, mouth agape, followed by this phrase: “what are you doing?”

Okay, so the ‘cynic’ in me starts brewing and fashioning an appropriate response, before my transformed temperament can take hold…

The cynic thinks of these responses:

A. Honey, this is always how I clear this dryer of the hair particles each morning.

B. I’m thinking of a song: “I don’t want to work, I just wanna bang on my blow-dryer all day!”

C. Doing what?

I always admired those women who could immediately ‘force’ tears in the presence of a man and get the man to take over…it’s just not in me…I’m a fix it myself kinda’ woman!

Soon enough, my transformed temperament tames my head and I simply explain that sometimes the best way to handle these mechanical devices is to bang them a couple of times…and lo and behold the thing starts. It stops again…I bang harder…It starts and stops again…well it does appear to be working…so I bang that sucker up and down about 7 times…and slap it upside the end just for good measure….wiggle the cord and flip the switch….it works! EUREKA, it works!

My husband exits the room while saying: “Sounds like a short or something. Someone ought to design one that works better.”

I didn’t throw the dryer at him because it had just started working and I had limited time before the gel on my head ‘set’ itself in the Fat Elvis “do”. There is a very short half life on hair gel, once activated, by the way.

The rest of my morning went off without a hitch. I started to put the dryer back in it’s storage place under the vanity, but decided…no, I’d better make a trip to Wal-Mart tonight and retire this one…maybe I’ll give it to my sister…teeheehee…

The lesson for today comes from James 1: 2-3 “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”

Endure, my friend, Endure!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

When I Am Weak...

I’m FINALLY feeling better. Isn’t it amazing how much we take the very basic things for granted when we feel GOOD! Since Sunday afternoon I have felt like crud! I can’t breathe through my nose, my eyes water and water and water, my ears are itchy, and not just from words I hear, and the only way my throat would feel better is if I could get a bottle brush down in there and scratch it. I have a common cold.

By themselves, the eyes, ears, nose, and throat don’t seem to carry much weight in the big picture of our whole body. We don’t ‘freak out’ over a cold or respiratory infection like we would say a heart murmur, or even a broken arm. Yet these seemingly unimportant parts of me, individually, have been wreaking havoc with me all week. We’ve all suffered from colds and have experienced the “energy zap” from this minor illness. It amazes me how my WHOLE body totally succumbs to a minor cold. I bet you know where I’m going with this already, don’t you.

One of my very favorite messages from the Bible comes from 1 Corinthians 12:12-26. This is the passage that speaks directly about the “BODY” and how important every single part of the body is. Paul even reminds us that the parts that seem least important are actually very important to the whole. Paul sums up beautifully with: “So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”

This is such a wonderful analogy and so easily applicable to our lives; to see, in Christ, all believers as a body. I used to joke that I was the ‘big toe’ of a very clumsy body. Everyone knows how bad it hurts to stub the big toe. I can joke about it now, but it really helped me understand this passage clearly. Think about the BIG TOE being stubbed, over and over again. You would be hobbling from the trauma and eventually you would be crippled to the point of being forced to sit or lie down no matter how strong the rest of the body seemed.

I thought about how weakness in our body, makes us much more vulnerable to attack. I know that while we focus on healing and on the pain and misery of the ‘illness’, we are less apt to see the enemy approaching and attacking us, we are less able to defend and protect our body. I also know from lying around, the muscles weaken; it takes more physical effort to get in a shower, much less prepare for anything exerting, like battle.

Another part of my experience is seeking instant relief from the symptoms. I went to the store yesterday and I bought: Ny-Quil, Day-Quil, Advil Sinus & Cold, Chloraseptic, and cough drops, all in an effort to relieve these symptoms. Ultimately, the methods that do work, are only short lived and before I face toxicity, I have to accept the fact that this illness needs time for healing. There is NO man-made medicine for a common cold.

This week as I rest and heal, I will remember to thank God for every part of the body. I will thank God for illness and suffering so that I can remember to recognize every part of the body as He does. I am praising God that my healing and wholeness is secured by His sacrifice, by His hand.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Call to Obey

Exactly 1 year, 15 days and a few hours ago I quit smoking. My last cigarette was on February 5, 2005. I can still remember how smoking made me feel. I can still remember the lightness in my head and the physical release of tension and stress. I can remember how much I looked forward to a cigarette after dessert or with coffee. I can remember I started when I was in my 20’s and was out at clubs. It was the “thing” to do, have a cigarette with your drink.

I don’t harp on people that do smoke. I pray and hope my friends that smoke would quit, but I don’t harp on them. Very few of the people I was around harped on me to quit and I remember that was important to me. I had tried to quit many times before but it just didn’t “take”. Every once in a while I still crave that feeling of light headedness that comes with smoking. I’m not going to start smoking again. I quit out of obedience to God.

It wasn’t pressure from people I went to church with, or people I hung out with that made me quit. They understood this was one of my vices and I would only give it up on my own accord. I remember when God asked me to quit smoking. I was really feeling pulled in a direction that was so uncomfortable to me. God was prompting me and pulling me to serve. He was calling me to walk the truth that I was proclaiming to others. God asked me to quit smoking only out of obedience to Him, not for any other reason. I can see how the cigarettes had become an idol to me. They symbolized release and “freedom” from stress, a position only God should hold in my life, through Christ.

The strangest thing happened when I accepted this challenge from God. I assumed it would be much like every other time I tried to quit, successful only for a short term period. This was different. The cravings for cigarettes immediately left. I didn’t go through the withdrawals I had previously. I didn’t crave the feeling or sneak out to 7-11 and get a pack of cigs…I just didn’t desire it anymore. Sure, occasionally I wanted to go back to that time, but it wasn’t the physical urge I used to experience, it was more out of anger with God, and just absolute disobedience that was pulling me. It was much like a spoiled child: “Fine God, if I can’t have MY way, I’ll just start smoking again…so there!”

Thankfully I haven’t succumbed to Satan’s temptations or to my own weak flesh. Plus, I am SO grateful He hasn’t asked me to give up Chocolate, that the cigarettes are sometimes a walk in the park.

There are some times when God’s desire for us to obey, result in only the act of love that is obedience. But sometimes the obedience results in the opening of a door of blessing on our lives. I would only ask you to listen to God and what He is asking you to do today. It may not be to quit smoking; it may be something relatively simple like opening a door for someone you don’t like. I would only ask that we all work to fine tune our ears to hear and fine tune our hearts to obey.

Monday, February 20, 2006

I'm not laughing AT you...I'm laughing WITH you...

First let me give you an updated weather report. Snow and ice have accumulated, only 2 to 2 ½ inches, yet having sequestered myself indoors all weekend (with only a short reprieve to my parents house), I was absolutely ready to return to work this week if for no other reason then to be outside the home. I woke up sick. I’m home today, only til noon…long enough to give the meds a chance to kick in, and the remaining ice to melt away.

I honestly don’t know how you stay-at-home parents do it. I mean, do you really stay at home? Do you get to go places and do things? I know how I am and after 6 hours in one places…I’m SO outta there. I need to…go…do…go…do. I’m from a long line of the “go-doers”. It doesn’t bother me, except when I can’t GO and the DO-ing is all DONE where I am.

The real POINT of this posting is about humor. One of my OLDEST and best friends read my entries and commented to me about my need to liven it up a bit with humor. He remembers me saying: “Life is too short to be taken so seriously.” I do believe this statement, depending, again, on the motivation of the heart.

I remember always having a sense of humor and desiring that quality in the people around me. If I didn’t FIND humor in people, I would CREATE humor THROUGH people. Maybe this friend never realized, my humor was largely a self-defense to the pain and hurt I was enduring. I know that part of the reason I don’t feel compelled to be ‘funny’ anymore, is that God has helped me find a peace about WHO I am in Him. I can joke and tease and play with the best of them, but I don’t NEED that to feel acceptance.

We’ve all met someone who uses humor in some cutting way and then quickly says: “I’m just kidding.” Well the truth of the matter is…usually we aren’t just kidding. In my own experience, being an observer as I previously shared, I found the weaknesses in others. I found vulnerabilities; through that, I found potential ‘jokes’. The minute I felt “attacked” I would joke. I would make some comment or crack some one-liner and make those around me laugh. I’m pretty sure most of the “victims” never even realized the seriousness of my ‘attacks’. I was using humor to alleviate or divert the pain lying dormant in my heart.

This pain resulted in such HUGE walls around me, that it literally took my husband years to catapult over them and get close enough to me to experience my true personae. It sounds much more dramatic then it was. I learned early on that my husband wasn’t going to hurt me intentionally. He proved his love over and over again. With other people, this isn’t the case. I remember my parents always saying: “You earn trust, it’s not free.”

This same adage applied to my interactions with others. If I feel constantly beat down by people; both peers and mentors or older adults, I begin to build a wall around myself in some sort of defense. The wall appears transparent because I begin to joke and laugh about every little thing. I honestly believe that most comediennes, probably should have been therapists or in therapy. I hear in their humor, the same cutting or self-debasing or audience-debasing that I use in my defense system.

Today I can laugh and joke and even play, probably more readily then most, but I find this space sacred. For right now: this is my space to pour out my heart. This is my space to be authentic. This is my space to cry. This is my space to heal.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Snow Day

I HATE winter. I TRY to focus on Ecclesiastes and the Scripture that says: “…there is a time to live and a time to die…” and trust me, in the cold of winter, I feel dead! Yet all I can think about when I look out and see the white blanket and wind lifting the flakes and shifting the landscape, is I HATE WINTER!

I long for summer and long, hot days of sunshine and swimming and even yard work. I may change my tone a bit by the end of September, with temperatures above 90-100 every day, but only in the hopes of a brief reprieve, not an all out assault on my sunshine and warmth.

Having lived in Alaska and Colorado and Maryland at different points in my life I thought I had wisely chosen to leave behind the winters of my youth. Instead, I find myself in Oklahoma, in February, amidst the pending ice-age. What happened to “global warming”? I don’t understand! Did I start to take for granted the unseasonable warmth of January, 2006?

I know there are those of you who laugh with glee at the site of snow and immediately run to the yard to make your “snow-angels” and snowmen and snow-ice-cream (Alaskan favorite). We all laugh, with glee, at the child in “A Christmas Story”; he gets completely dressed and OVERdressed to go outside in the cold…only to realize he has to use the restroom! I’m just saying: “I HATE WINTER!” No offense, but honestly, where’s the fun in driving down a road and sliding off this road? Yes, I realize that’s what many people try to do even on the CLEAREST days in their “racecar” dreams, but I shake and shudder with fear at each person flying by me, without thinking of anything but their slippery destination.

I realize much of my disdain relates to my desire to GO, GO, GO! I’m perfectly happy on weekday, SNOW DAYS! Hey, if I can get a day off work, even if it means enduring hours of mindless television programming, or try a new recipe while stranded…I’m all for it. But don’t steal my weekend.

I wonder if perhaps, in my bliss of GOING, if I am in fact, RUNNING from something I’m called to meditate on or study. What is God trying to teach me today? My immediate thoughts are of “Be still…..” Usually I flip the page there. We all know the ending; “…and KNOW that I am God.” If I don’t even stop and finish the teaching, I get to keep RE-LEARNING and re-testing on this aspect.

Today I will try to be still and KNOW that He is God. Today, I will TRY to not focus on my “escape” and the roads being cleared timely, instead I will TRY to focus on hearing what God wants to speak to me in silence, in quiet. I’ll let you know how that works out!

Friday, February 17, 2006

We Don't Need God

I finally figured it out! I had the ultimate epiphany this morning. We don’t NEED God!

I mean think about it. Everything you hear that God can do and has done…is old news in our post-modern society. God is cliché and a worn out excuse. God isn’t necessary. God is probably resting from all his eons of work anyway. God is some senile old, outdated, judge, that like many a Supreme Court Justice, needs a long term sabbatical.

Okay, so I’ll go as far as saying; “thank you God for creating the earth; and light and dark; and animals; and all the stuff you created; but I think we can take it from here.”

This seems to be the resounding ROAR from the masses. I see it everyday. I see and read of people who have taken matters into their own hands. We actually believe we can create our own destiny. This is the mindset that has formed a precedent in research and marketing for the past 20 years of advance.

Think about this:

We don't need God for CREATION anymore. If we want a baby and just can’t seem to produce one naturally. We either seek drugs and artificial insemination, or we hire a surrogate or we use any method necessary to achieve this GOAL, not short of taking what we want. In 2006, we’re on the verge, we just need a few more Congressmen signatures, and we’ll just clone someone we admire. In the midst of our ‘excessive’ culture I can picture now about 10,000,000 Brad Pitts and another 2,000,000 Bill Gates’ running around. I can imagine we’re only years away from a drop down menu on a computer screen to picking and choosing every quality we can name, to “create a baby”. I can actually already think of the marketing that would apply. If you doubt this, check out the "menu's" at a sperm bank.

We don’t need God for healing anymore. We have so much medical technology we can cure anything that DESERVES a cure. I’ve come to understand, from my more intelligent peers that some diseases exist that don’t deserve cures. While this screams genocide in my mind, it might be because I'm actually on that edge (1963) of the "Baby Boomer" generation who doesn't really understand everything the way the more enlightened society does. The purification of a society through medical and technological advances IS our reality today. If you aren’t offering something to the betterment of your society, you are outdated and need to be disposed of. Think: "Logan's Run".

We don’t need God for provision anymore. We have so much food we have to store or destroy it every day. As for those people supposedly starving in other nations…well their countries owe us money, so we can’t see giving them too much, because they don’t know what to do with it anyway and they’re used to being hungry.

We don’t need God for guidance anymore. We have books and great teachers and the media for this. Heck I don’t even have to make any decision about my life, it will just happen as I go with the flow.

We don’t need God for protection anymore. Many of us don’t even believe the whole Satan story we were taught as children. The people who are still unsure if there is some enemy; are certain they can defeat him with their guns, stashed safely in their closet so no one gets hurt; that doesn’t deserve it. Besides, if I have enough money, I can buy a lawyer and never face persecution for any wrongdoing anyway.

We don’t need God for love anymore. We have the internet for this. We can literally pick and choose our mates based on a “drop down menu” (see create-a-baby referenced above).

We don’t need God’s empty promises anymore. Anything we need, we will get, make, or steal ourselves.

We don’t need God’s sacrifice anymore. We are more evolved then this. Sacrifice is an outdated ritual that holds little meaning in our society today.

I hope you’re laughing or crying, and not sitting there nodding your head in agreement. These statements sound somewhat ludicrous to those of us who have seen both sides of this fence.

We ARE living in a postmodern society that is not only seemingly self-sufficient, but also self-pleasing. We have become our own god. It seems to me there were a few words spoken about other gods in that big old, outdated text some people carry around on Sundays.

I shared in an earlier post the quote: “Those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it.” My suggestion is read that big old book; perhaps start in the beginning with Adam and Eve and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It seems each one of us is destined to repeat a history, our very legacy, until we find the hope of our salvation.

Good luck on being your own god. How’s that working for you, anyway?

The Words That Go Before Me...

Sometimes when I’m writing in this space, I stop and think, and re-evaluate what I’m about to write. It’s interesting the self-editing that takes place when I THINK, POSSIBLY, someone that knows me only marginally, or not at all, may read something I write or read INTO something I don’t write and make judgments about me, my beliefs, ultimately my life. Even in writing, I’m concerned about my identity.

I’m not saying I should edit out the true meaning of something. I am saying I must remember words are tools; they either build up or destroy. If I choose to place writing in a space that is potentially viewed by others, I am making a choice to “publicize” something of importance to me; my opinion, my words.

As I’ve become familiar with the world of “BLOGS”, I’ve seen some completely inappropriate writing for public viewing. I believe in Freedom of Speech, yet I am still amazed at what some “Christian” blogs convey in writing, much less mainstream blogs with open access to the most vulnerable and immature minds. My only assumption is that these “writers” out of their own pain, only intend to hurt others by ranting mindlessly about inane and sometimes disturbing things.

Thankfully I have the ability to turn off my computer and turn away from the prose of idiocy. My question is: Do people even look at what they’re writing before they hit the “PUBLISH” key? Do people truly just want to SHOCK and HAUNT others? What is the motivation of the entry?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Life or Death?

My husband attends the University of Oklahoma. He is one of the few “mature” undergraduate students in his Engineering field. Fortunately, he has met and befriended one other “mature” student (translation: over 35). I know it has been nice for my husband to have someone to relate to and someone whose focus is not solely on weekend games and parties. This man is married, and extremely focused on succeeding and excelling in his field.

This friend recently experienced some dizziness and stroke-like symptoms. When he went to the doctor, after testing, he was immediately rushed to the medical center and they performed surgery on his brain to remove a brain tumor.

It turns out he has cancer of the brain; Glioblastoma. Not a very easy diagnosis to take. The online research I did quickly summed up the devastating reality; this man may have less than a year to live. We had gone to the hospital to visit him and his wife following the surgery. This was the first time I had met these people.

It may have been in efforts to be hospitable, but he was in such incredibly HIGH spirits. It was hard to even think about the meaning of his diagnosis. I’m not sure if it had sunk in, for him. I know it hadn’t sunk in for me. But lying before me, in a hospital bed, with his head half-shaven and a railroad of staples/stitches along the stubble of hair re-growth on his skull, is this man, this friend of my husbands. He is not old. He is not deserving of this diagnosis. He has a pre-teen son who needs a father. When I think that this son may not have a father through the most important transition of boy, to man…I cry.

I realize no one DESERVES this diagnosis. No one deserves a message of pending death, with little hope of long life in this physical world. I realize life is given and life is taken away and not on a whim, but with meaning and purpose. I try to remember, we really aren’t immortal in our flesh. I realized how meaningless the world must seem to someone who doesn’t have a hope for a future beyond this earth. I realized how empty and sad it could be to a person that honestly believes ‘this is it.” I realized how important our message of hope, as Christians, is to a lost and dying world.

We’re having dinner with this couple this weekend and while I’m looking forward to getting to know them on a deeper level, there is a part of me that has to leave that dinner with the certainty that these two people at least HEAR about the option of eternal life. If they have already heard, then maybe I can search for a peace about the possibility of losing this person from earth.

Sometimes Satan wins these little battles with me by trying to get me to focus on how 'goofy' and 'exclusive' some Christians appear via the media or unfortunately, sometimes, behind the pulpit. I am SO prayerful that this friend hasn't already formed a negative opinion about Christians in general. Somehow I doubt he has, because he is an intelligent person who is not easily swayed by mass opinion, rather by self-examination and scientific methodologies. He may in fact already have an assurance of a future hope through Christ, either way, it will be 'brought up' and discussed because my heart won't let me rest until I'm certain he has the option to choose his own destiny; life or death.

The Quick Fix

I’ve been on a physician directed weight loss plan since July, 2005, and have been fairly successful with this conservative approach. I am one of those people that have literally tried almost every weight loss “scheme” or plan marketed. I have realized, as with most areas of my life, the best approach is a slow shift of focus and more balance. I go from eating a LOT of the “bad” stuff and not much “good” stuff, to eating very little “bad” stuff and more balanced “good” stuff. This seems to be working for me.

On Valentine’s day our office had a few deliveries of “sweets” which is common in an office setting. We are being ‘wooed’ and ‘courted’ by therapy facilities and imaging center for business; via bagel and confection deliveries on a regular basis. Usually these things are gone within an hour of arrival. What can I say; being mostly women, think hormones, sweets, chocolate…enough said! This is a good thing from where I sit, trying to abstain from these temptations.

Unfortunately, the majority of the office has been trying this new “quick weight loss” plan that promotes losing 10 pounds in 3 days. I didn’t laugh directly in their face, because honestly, I don’t know. I haven’t tried this particular diet, but in most all diets of this type, the results are short lived and the long-term physical effect on the body from this yo-yo starvation type diet are sometimes irreversible. The long-term mental effects are also sometimes irreversible. I kept my mouth shut. I’m thinking of having a tally of the number of days these “treats” remain and posting it there in the breakroom.

The whole scenario got me thinking about our desire to problem-solve or deal with issues in this “FIX-IT-NOW” mentality. We all want a quick fix in life. This could be a quick fix to lose weight…a quick fix to make money….a quick fix to find a spouse…..a quick fix to home repair. The list goes on and on. I’ve even witnessed and personally attempted the quick fix to reach God.

I don’t know your story, but I do know mine. I know that the more I try to ‘duct tape’ my soul, the less long-term effect it has. I use duct tape as an example because my dad was one of those people. Pretty much everything can be repaired with a quick-fix of duct tape. The miracle of duct tape is that it will hold….for awhile. Unfortunately, the leak returns, the tape falls off…and now the leak seems a bit more persistent.

The same applies to my soul. I ‘tape’ it over with a 12 word Scripture and prayer of thanks to God and am actually surprised when the same issue, only BIGGER, is found hanging in my closet the following day, week, month; however long it takes. I sometimes even scream: “I thought I dealt with you! What are you doing back in here?”

The endurance and steadfast spirit come with time. The self-control comes with time. Just like in our physical bodies, my doctor reminds me regularly when I get frustrated about slow weight loss: “It took a lot of time to put this weight on, and it is going to take a lot of time to take it off.”
When the Great Physician healed my inner-dead spirit, I still had to go through rehabilitation. Don’t give up on the new life and new birth in Christ. It took time to develop the selfish you, and it will take time to develop the God-Spirit planted in your heart.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Revolutionary REVOLUTION

I can always tell when a day will be a challenge. This morning I received very clear indicators that today would be a challenge. I woke up in a bit of a fog and couldn’t really pull any unscrambled thoughts from my head. The one I did pull from the massive paperweight, called my brain, was that today was Thursday. Unfortunately my husband quickly ended that delusion. Then I got behind a HUGE truck on my commute to work in the first mile from home. When I started lamenting the truck in front of me….I stopped.

Okay, so we were just discussing “perspective” in our women’s Bible Study and how it can affect our whole experience. So I am going to CHOOSE to allow my perspective about this being WEDNESDAY and this giant TRUCK in front of me to be negative. Oh no you don’t Satan! Today is a gift from God and it holds treasures that I am not going to miss because I sit around pouting that it’s ONLY Wednesday. I decided the truck in front of me was carrying grace to someone who desperately needed it! It actually made me smile thinking how grateful I am that a whole new “truck full” of grace comes to me each morning.

I now sit here, preparing to start my work day and I was a bit concerned about being able to pull together my random thoughts into something decipherable…but I decided to share about this book I’m reading.

I LOVE to read. I especially love to read well-written books that make me think. Books that force me out of my comfort zone and spawn a need to dig deeper are my favorite. I am reading George Barna’s “Revolution”, and I’m telling you, not since “The Celestine Prophecy” has there been this personal need to dig deeper. It could be any number of things or just where I am in my own journey…but let me share a passage from my reading yesterday. Barna is speaking about a sub-nation of people who are called “Revolutionaries”:

“They have no use for churches that play religious games, whether those games are worship services that drone on without the presence of God or ministry programs that bear no spiritual fruit. Revolutionaries eschew ministries that compromise or soft sell our sinful nature to expand organizational turf. They refuse to follow people in ministry leadership positions who cast a personal vision rather than God’s, who seek popularity rather than the proclamation of truth in their public statements, or who are more concerned about their own legacy than that of Jesus Christ. They refuse to donate one more dollar to man-made monuments that mark their own achievements and guarantee their place in history. They are unimpressed by accredited degrees and endowed chairs in Christian colleges and seminaries that produce young people incapable of defending the Bible or unwilling to devote their lives to serving others. And Revolutionaries are embarrassed by language that promises Christian love and holiness but turns out to be all sizzle and no substance.”

WOW! Now, I’m not ready to DEFINE myself as a “Revolutionary” or be a part of any movement, but so much of that paragraph rang true in my head, based on my own church experiences over the years. I am thankful to be a part of a church, NOW, that while some of them they may struggle in trying to identify themselves with a denomination, their heart is about Jesus. They want to serve Jesus. They want to grow in their understanding and discernment.

My fear for all of us in this “formal” setting is that the passion would die. That the excitement of being in a new church, the excitement of helping and serving in so many areas, the excitement of a young, energetic, challenging pastor, would not be enough to push us out of our comfort zones into the very LIFESTYLE that the church is called to be in Acts. My fear is that the passion would be about all these things, instead of Jesus and His desire for us. My fear is that our focus on anything except Jesus is nothing more than idol-worship, or worse yet…complacent comfort!

I am not saying that being a part of a “church” is supposed to be uncomfortable. What I am saying is that based on Biblical teaching, we are so far from being a “church”, that if we ever did get close to the examples we have been given, it would be SO uncomfortable. Let’s be honest, our focus is on self! We are consumed with how we feel and how we are affected and how we are heard and blah, blah, blah! I’m guilty of it too! I hate that about myself. I hate that my inward focus crushes the very Spirit of God within me. I hate that every day it’s a physical struggle to choose to put others first.

I’m going to go to my ‘truck of grace’ now and try to recoup from this diatribe before I actually start any verbal communicating in a work setting, YIKES!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Where is John 3:16?

I was reading a post today from a well-known writer who stated he had only heard a sermon on the Scripture; John 3:16, twice in his life. It got me to thinking...I have NEVER heard a sermon specifically based on this well-know, first memory verse I can recall, Scripture.

Why? What have others experienced? Is there a reason pastors don't preach on it? What's that about?

Just a question....feel free to share you own insight, experience...

Ponderings From Life's Edge....

I was thinking about my 'history' the other timeline, if you will. I have been an observer of life more than an active participant, until the last 7 years or so. I think the point of transformation came when I realized the only way to affect change was to purposefully set out to facilitate the changes you desire. The difference between 7 years ago and the onset of this endeavor and NOW, is my heart.

My desires 7 years ago were self-seeking. I wanted to set out to prove how cruel people are. I wanted to PROVE how indecent we are to one another and find some solace in my own chosen separation from society as a whole. Even more than proving the cruelty of others, I wanted to give them the opportunity to hurt, as they hurt they hurt me.

Being an observer of life I also have an ability to "read" people. I can hear and see their verbal and non-verbal cues (psycho-babble for identifying actions, behaviors and body language). I used my mouth to hurt others. One thing I had learned in my observations is that mental anguish and pain from words is far more reaching and lasting then physical pain. I had lived in that for many years. My thoughts of conquering this were more of retribution then of releasing and forgiving.

I know that sounds totally like I'm some sort of 'victim', which I can assure you, I AM NOT! God has not only given me HIS Spirit, but the victory that comes with it! How can I be a victim, when I walk in the assurance of a GOD who loves me enough to never, ever give up on me.

Okay, enough preaching...where am I going with all this....well about 3 years ago I read a book called "The Heart Reader" by Terry Blackstock (I've attached a link to a study guide on this incredible book and journey)

If you haven't read it it's worth the half day time it takes to read it, just to see from a new perspective how God wants to use us. When I read it, I thought it would be so cool to be able to do the things these people did in this book. They had very specific abilities, which seemed supernatural, which they used to reach 'lost'.

I realized this past week, as I thought about my history, God DID give us this ability. I may not hear the exact utterances coming from someone's heart (as they did in the book) but I DO have, we ALL have, an ability to see and hear a person's heart through the Spirit of Christ within us. The more we draw closer to God, the more we become LIKE God. Yes, I realize I'm opening this up for dispute and comment, but frankly, people's words don't scare me; remember, I am an EXPERT at words and using them to hurt others. I just choose NOT to.

Where does all this rambling lead? I realized, some time ago, I could use this power for GOOD for GOD! It sounds a bit like some superhero chant doesn't it?

I truly believe each of us, through the gifts God has given us, do have SUPERPOWERS to some extent. We don't always use them for good. Like the inner struggle faced by Batman or the Punisher or all the other comic book superheros, sometimes we need to be reminded of the higher calling of these gifts.

If you're sitting there thinking; 'this is crazy, I don't have SUPERPOWERS.' I'm sorry for you. I believe you can choose not to use these abilities through blindness and inward-focus and sometimes, like me, you can't see beyond your own pain. But when you put your focus, your heart, on others, you will hear the still small voice of God calling you to use the power HE has placed within you. I made my choice, now the choice is yours; respond, or turn away.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

What Does It All Mean Anyway?

I was raised in upper-middle class America. I was raised attending church, albeit under false pretenses if anyone would have looked at our family through a microscope. My parents fought all the way to and from church. I hated Sundays for many years to come.

This entry is not about those experiences or the death of 'religion' for me, at a moment of my youth. It's about the lingo or language Christians use. My husband wasn't "saved" until we moved to Oklahoma in 2001. He would sometimes ask what a word meant or why I was using a specific word. I didn't even realize that there was a specific and often foreign language that I was using that was so out-of-touch and really bordering on exclusive with regards to the inability to reach the people that don't know about Jesus.

From my perspective, this is what I heard in church and what I 'grew up on', so it seemed only natural to mimic what I was hearing. I will admit that my salvation was more out of fear of 'fire' then in acceptance and understanding of the incredible LOVE Jesus has for me. I was also discouraged from asking questions in my childhood church, therefore to mimic was better than to question. What's troubling is the inability to truly define the things we mimic, or to fully understand them.

The small group I attend discussed one of these misconceptions this weekend. We were discussing what "discipling" meant and how it would look in the world today. I've got to be honest when I hear the word "DISCIPLE" I immediately think of the 12 with Jesus. I think of how they followed Jesus and sat and listened to Him and then took what He taught, out into the world. I never once thought about my own experience. In our discussion, it dawned on me that I don't have this kind of 'intimate' relationship with anyone, nor did I grow up with this understand of a disciple. It seemed very unattainable to me while sitting with these people, yet disciple is a word often "thrown-around" on Sunday or among Christians.

So my question is; how authentic is this word, if those of us who have been Christians for a long time have never experienced true discipleship? Who are the disciplers? Is there a online disciple matcher? Can I be a discipler without having been discipled? Is my experience skewed by my lack of experience? If "...go into all the world and make disciples..."is a part of our commission by Jesus, how do we make this 'real' in 2006, when many of us have never known or experienced discipling as Jesus teaches.

Other words I think about are: Fellowship, Agape' vs. Phileo Love, Body of Christ, Born-Again, Sabbath, Deliverance, Baptised in the Spirit, Eschatology, Evangelism, Gospel, Full-Gospel, Hermeneutics, Identity in Christ, Legalism, Rapture, Revival, Abraham's Bosom, Spiritual Warfare, and Tribulation....just to name a few. These words are thrown about in church and in Starbucks (especially in Oklahoma)...and yet how many of us could truly define these words and have a heartfelt understanding of what it means.

MY reality is; one of the people I work with had never heard about one of the basic stories in Genesis; I think it was Jacob and Esau. If our 'story' is not understood in the language we use, is it authentic enough to be carried out into a lost world? Another disturbing truth is when you read the Message Bible, it sometimes lacks the TRUE meaning in translation. How much was lost from the original text to just the KJV?

I sometimes think it's sad that the Bible never had "additions". The Bible is our history and our promise book, yet it sometimes feels very cold and sterile and VERY misunderstood and not a part of my experience. I am thankful that in MY experience I have the ability to learn from the Holy Spirit and His wisdom. I am thankful that through this wisdom, God has been able to help me understand the lessons He desires to teach me. I am hopeful that the teachers I have had have taught me lessons that I can pass on to others in an applicable, REAL way. I am hopeful that as Jesus brings people to me, to share with, that I would maintain and share His truth, with love, and that this truth would be REAL to the people I encounter.

Extra Ice, Please!

There are a few little pleasures in my life. Okay, honestly, maybe more than a few. My little pleasures are things like my favorite seats at the movie theater being open; a sunny, warm day in February; finding money in my laundry or in parking lots; picking the fastest line at the grocery store. One of the greatest little pleasures in my life is the ICE at Sonic. They have the greatest ice. In the summer, sometimes my niece and I will go to Sonic just for a cup of ice. I grew up on this. Part of these feelings may come from my youth and the memories that are stirred when I get this ice. Part of it is just my desire to have this cool refreshment, part of it is that it is something that feels "safe" and "comfortable" to me.

Last night, my husband and I went to our church small group, and I wanted to get a Sonic drink on the way over there but we didn't drive past a Sonic, and I decided I didn't want to search for one. Searching for a Sonic in Oklahoma is really not that difficult as they are in every 3 square miles.

My husband, unknown to me, had called our PASTOR and asked him to stop and bring a drink from Sonic. I would never even THINK to do that. If I don't do it myself, or my husband doesn't do it, it ain't happening. Why? Yep, it's back to that same old pride issue. "I can do it myself and I don't need help!"

How sad is that! My pastor totally didn't mind doing this, even with this being a totally extraneous request! Most of us wouldn't mind, if someone asked, to run some errand or just do a favor. My husband never hesitates to serve or to ASK for service. The difference for me, is that I didn't WANT to ask.

This can easily transfer into my life with Christ. If I don't, DAILY, confess to Him that I NEED Him and NEED His help, even with the small stuff, then I choose to walk alone. The "ice" in my life, the little blessings sometimes come without my asking, yet how much more would I know and see if only I'd ask and walk in the blessings I've requested each day.

I'm not speaking of Jesus as my personal "Santa". Rather, He is my Provider, who wants to bless me, yet He wants me to see where the blessings come from. Who is your provider? Where does your hope lie? These are questions I must daily seek.

Friday, February 10, 2006

More Than Meets the Eye

*This is a passage sent to me from a friend out of a book of Devotions (I don't have the title or author, but I was reviewing "encouragement" emails and this is HUGE to me and I wanted to put it out there). She sent this following the suicide of one of my sister's dear friends.

More Than Meets the Eye

"Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it."
~ Hebrews 11:1

Faith is trusting what the eye can't see.
Eyes see the prowling lion. Faith sees Daniel's angel.
Eyes see storms. Faith sees Noah's rainbow.
Eyes see giants. Faith sees Canaan.
Your eyes see your faults. Your faith sees your Savior.
Your eyes see your guilt. Your faith sees his blood.

Your eyes look in the mirror and see a sinner, a failure, a promise-breaker. But by faith you look in the mirror and see a robed prodigal bearing the ring of grace on your finger and the kiss of your Father on your face.~

Please be a conduit of love today...

Compassion and Grace 101

There’s no question I’m not in my “DREAM JOB”. Part of my current position requires me to speak to people about past due charges and try to create some resolution for them and my company. Our desires are obviously opposed. I desire payment, hopefully in full and today. They desire to leave without having to pay today (most of them). Occasionally I am called to the front on the "harder cases", to actually meet face to face with these people, I simply put on the face of business and deal with them in a business sense.

“You owe money, please pay it, or tell me when you’re going to pay it.”

Something has been churning in me for months now. Something I recognize as the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is not happy with my ‘collection attitude’. I found myself disbelieving every ‘sob-story’ people put before me. I no longer reacted to tears people produced when discussing this sensitive matter. I become almost agitated when they begin to share their financial difficulties. This is so contradictory to what God has placed in me.

Ironically, I too, struggled with debt and debt payments for years. I dealt with extremely aggressive collection people. I hid from them; changed numbers, moved, defaulted on debt, did everything I could but work out a payment plan with these people. It effected much of my early adulthood in a negative way. This all relates back to the WHY in God’s placement of me in this position, at this point in my life. I know this is in part, His dealing with my “pride”. He has been breaking pride off of me, day by day, since I came back to Oklahoma. Let’s be honest, moving to Oklahoma is, in and of itself, somewhat humbling (particularly for the fair gender).

Today, I interacted with a woman about her account. She wanted me to change information to ensure payment from a third party. I refused to do it and told her it would be fraudulent. She began crying and seemed so hopeless about how she would pay this bill. I gave her additional information, advised she speak to the physician directly and the doctor could notify me of his decision. I quickly departed back to my own safe office. My heart was ripping open at the stress I was “causing” this woman. I realized I have become so incredible insensitive to people and their struggles that I find myself lacking compassion and standing in judgment in response to the non-payment.

I’m not prepared to say that people shouldn’t pay their debts. What I am prepared to say is that while collecting these debts, a little compassion and grace goes a long, long way. Talk about “Jesus for Dummies”, in this course of Compassion and Grace 101. What dawns on me, even now, is that if I truly believe God has put a call on me to Pastor, aka SERVE, this is the ideal position for me to learn these life lessons. I've personally experienced leaders in ministry that react in the same "agitated" way with their "flock" and people in general. When I picture Jesus as the Shepherd, carrying the lamb on His shoulder and always seeking the lost sheep, I KNOW, His call is something greater than agitation.

I am the first to admit this is not how God “wired me”. This position is NOT my destiny…yet, for ‘such a time as this’, I am here…waiting, growing, learning, hopefully in wisdom, after all; ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ (George Santayana). Santayana also had these words that apply more and more in my own “journey”:

Our an omen of our destiny, and the more integrity we have and keep, the simpler and nobler that destiny is likely to be.
George Santayana, "The German Mind: A Philosophical Diagnosis"

Eyes Wide Open

Yesterday as I sat at my computer, updating core data for a program, I had an experience, a life lesson, about the Glory of God I spoke about a few days ago.

In my office I have two very large plate glass windows, probably 8’ tall and 6’ wide each. While it’s nice to have the natural light and be able to see any traffic snares on the highway outside, I don’t glance out a lot because I tend to lose myself in dreams and visions. So, I’m sitting concentrating on characters and entry and quick finger strokes and out of the corner of my eye I see through these giant windows in my office…birds. I don’t actually turn to look, because I have to focus on these numbers or I will miss-key. So I type on….

Then I see this white flash out of the corner of my eyes and these birds are all flying within 10 feet of my window. There are probably 150 of them. It’s this incredible image of synchronized flight. So I sit here thinking how these birds truly define a “Body”. You can always tell the ‘independent’ birds as they don’t stay in line and tend to appear distracted in their efforts.

I remember reading about how geese fly in that "V" formation and they take turns leading. If the leader gets tired, he/she will slow, circle behind and get into the formation and allow another goose to lead. Then if one becomes injured, or can no longer fly, he/she will drop out of the formation and two other geese will drop out with him/her and stay with him/her to make sure he/she is okay. They will all join another formation once they are well enough to fly. The original formation continues on and either picks up additional geese as they fly or not. It's such an incredible picture of God's PERFECT creation.

Even now, as I write this I see these birds flying in a formation. They are circling. Half of the birds are flying clockwise as they spiral down to the ground and half of the birds are flying counterclockwise. It’s amazing to see because one would think they would collide into each other. This is the Glory of God I am seeing this morning. My hope is that as this glory appears only in my peripheral vision that I would turn and SEE with my EYES WIDE OPEN - the full Glory of God.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

You Believe WHAT????

In my environment, my immediate surroundings, I sometimes make assumptions about people and their beliefs. I assume the people I live around or shop with or work with are ALL Christians, except of course, the doctors I work FOR (lol)! I live in a fairly civilized, moral-following community. The fact of the matter is, following morals and being civilized, or defined as civilized, does not equal salvation.

I take for granted that someone who treats me and others with respect and apparently scored high on the kindergarten report card entry: “plays nice with others”, is a Christian. I have fallen prey to Satan’s attempt to quiet me, and my reach for the lost. Often I don’t even ask people I KNOW if they are “saved” or not. I either assume they are a Christian or I write it off as not wanting to “butt in” or make someone uncomfortable with questions about their salvation. I just pacify myself thinking “My role is really more about discipling Christians”…or… “they’ll hear about it on Sunday or from someone else”. But by staying “safe” I’m also risking their lost souls.

What I’ve found recently is that there are SO MANY people in MY OWN immediate surroundings (work, homes, grocery store, etc.) that honestly believe, that as long as they live a good life and treat others well, they will get into heaven.

At first I couldn’t believe it. People surely don’t actually believe that, do they? While it would help ease our minds about serial killers not entering heaven, it isn’t grounded in truth…and that is a scary place to be. Most of these people have even HEARD about Jesus. But they have never experienced that process of confession, repentance, forgiveness and redemption to salvation through Him.

GOD DO SOMETHING! What can I do? What have I done? For starters I prayed and asked God for His guidance about how to approach these people He brings into my direct line. I pray for words. I pray for Scripture. I pray for strength. Slowly, I’ve started to share my own “story”. I share about encounters with God since becoming a Christian, just in casual conversation. I ask if I can pray for them about anything. I don’t ask straight out “If you were to die tonight where do you think you’d end up?”. Speaking as someone who has, and still does, ABHOR that ‘fire insurance’ theology, I can tell you for me, the more effective means is get to know me before you try to “heal my hurt”.

I DO look for opportunities to share, for doors that are opened through hurt and anger and pain. I know these things. We all know these things. The difference between hurt, anger, and pain without Christ, is they are all so defeating. With Christ, we have overcome! We will still walk through desert places, but we will never again walk alone!

One of the doctors I work with actually saw me reading my Bible during break one day and asked about the chapter I was reading. He asked about Peter, whom he had heard about. He was either patronizing me and knew all about Peter, or he truly didn’t know and God allowed me to share what I did know in a safe, non-threatening way. The irony of it is this is the same physician that often speaks to me as though I am a complete idiot without an original thought in your head, even about issues I was hired specifically to do.

It never gets “easy” for me to confront someone about salvation. Maybe it’s a character flaw or some fear issue I’ve yet to deal with. What I CAN do is just converse with someone and in the natural flow of things show and speak my heart, which is ALL about my relationship with God through Christ, and where He is leading me.

I love to hear how others do this? First of all, DO YOU share your faith? Then, how do you share your faith? And more specifically, how do you share your faith with non-believers?

Just one more thing to ponder….please chime in....

Black and White and Gray

I hate that as a woman my voice doesn’t always count.
I love that as a woman I am cherished.

I hate being the oldest in a group.
I love that I have wisdom from experience.

I hate that I can’t have what I want, when I want it.
I love that I have what I need, when I need it.

I hate that life on earth ends so soon.
I love that life in heaven is eternal.

I hate that someone else may have the same dreams I do.
I love that I don’t walk alone.

I hate that children go to bed hungry.
I love that they are alive another day.

I hate that I work in a dead end job.
I love that I have a job.

I hate ignorance.
I love seeking.

I hate that everything appears black and white.
I love that there is gray when the black and white collide.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Was I Born Too Early?

Every once in awhile, I begin to ponder how God created me and WHY He would place something in me that I was unable to use because of prejudice or misrepresenting of Scripture. Where am I going with this? I don't know, but I believe at this moment in time, my hands are ordained to write this. I'm believing that God will direct the flow of this passage and that my flesh will not scream out in frustration.

Okay, so first things first. I've been a "Christian" since age 13, though in all honesty, I didn't really understand, seek, or attempt to obey, until in my 30's. I had brief periods of obedience and attempting to seek God, but more out of an attempt to PROVE His existence (or lack thereof) and His love (or lack thereof) for me. I won't go down that road of destruction and deceit right now.

Unfortunately, current theologians and "Christians" in my community (Southwest America), have not truly embraced the idea of a WOMAN with not only a desire to serve God fully, but a WOMAN that was created to lead and "Pastor" people. Sure, I can attend a University or even a Seminary and learn from all kinds of MEN about God and the Bible and the applications of both. There may even be a woman or two teaching a course or at least "subbing" occasionally. Type in the words "women pastor" in a yahoo search bar and watch all the negating and arguments against this 'calling'.

I've heard the argument OVER and OVER and OVER again until I am almost ready to fling my Holy Bible (KJV) directly at their head. Women and Men alike have reminded me that according to Scripture; God made MEN to lead, to be pastors and to be ministers, NOT women. Well, according to Scripture, women aren't even supposed to speak in church, nor are they to have their heads uncovered during prayer and prophesy. I have inquired about the passage that says: "You are no longer men, nor women...." in Galatians and have read and been told that this instruction was not regarding leadership in church, rather the way we are seen "in Christ".

What happen's then to the desire and the assuredness within my heart, that I am to not only SERVE, but lead in a church. Do I simply find a place that will ALLOW me this opportunity? Do I force the issue? D0 I strike out and just do it on my own, believing God will bless anything He ordains? Do I conform to the beliefs before me?

What I've seen happen, is the more I try to suppress what God has placed in me, the more I feel the desire die.

I had the opportunity to speak to my sister-in-law (via email) about this, as she is an ordained minister through the Baptist Convention. She shared with me her own frustrations personally experienced on her road to destiny. She did pastor a church in Philadephia and while she faced some obstacles, she felt certain that was her call. She recommended I read about Lottie Moon, a true pioneer for all people, about SERVING and fulfilling God's destiny.

I have also asked people (pastors) I have encountered: "What about Paula White? or Joyce Meyer? or Beth Moore? or countless others? You can already imagine their responses....I won't go there. I also ask and ponder why SOME of the Bible has evolved to 'fit' our world and our behavior, BUT only what is 'acceptable' in our culture and in our mind. My mind immediately travels to two different time periods with two different "Luthers". I see the challenge of what was acceptable and the ultimate persecution of these two leaders.

For me, the bottom line remains: do I trust God to grow and bless a seed placed within me, or do I doubt and stumble and give in and quit before He even has a chance to do His work? In listening to "The Nature of God" on CD many mornings, I hear the speaker say: "God will not ask you to do the possible! He will ask you to do the absolute IMpossible. He will ask you to do something you could NEVER do without Him."

I have a choice. I can choose to continue on my journey and serve Him and wait for His leading to my destiny, or I can give up and give in and allow Satan this victory over my heart, my calling, my destiny. Today I will serve, and pray, and wait.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Show Me Your Glory

My husband gave me a daily calender this year from the book "Who Moved My Cheese". It's a very good book about change and motivation and purpose. Friday's entry asked the question: "Are you overanalyzing things?" I got to thinking that perhaps I do spend a bit too much time overanalyzing and not enough time seeing the GLORY of God. I try to write it off as "understanding fully" whatever it is I'm analyzing (including people), but really I'm trying to focus on the analyzing more than just enjoying the beauty of it. Some of this comes form a "school" background where we are taught to question things, and some of it is just how I'm "wired".

As I've mentioned in previous posts this quality is also very driven by temperament. There are some people "wired" in such a way that the analyzing part is a non-issue. They don't need to understand, nor do they want it explained to them...if it ain't broke, don't fix it... but the so-called 'pioneers' of our society, the 'inventors' and 'creators' are constantly analyzing every little thing.

If I spend all my time trying to figure it all out...God, His plan for me, why people do what they do, etc, etc, etc, don't I forgo some of the glory and splendor of it all? Isn't part of the GLORY, the fact that we don't now, nor will we ever FULLY understand? "His ways are not my ways".

If I could understand and recreate the beauty of a sunrise in New Mexico or Colorado, for example, wouldn't it take away from some of that beauty. The day we could proclaim that we can "clone" an animal, didn't part of the wonder and mystery of life cease to exist. I believe in all our efforts to "evolve" and MIMIC what God has already perfectly created, we not only lose the glory of it, but we also lose a part of our heart.

I'm striving to see God's Glory today and I hope that in this mission, I gain a deeper sense of the incredible love with which all things were created.

I'm in the middle of a book "Under the Overpass" by Mike Yankoski and while I'm not prepared to fully review it, I will say that it has pushed open the box in which I so often hold God and His glory and power. I will quote a passage from his time in Portland. Mike and Sam had encountered "Christians" or people speaking about Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit and all our "catch phrases" of Christianity, that had literally turned a blind eye to the homeless and hungry in the city.

Then they met a man, who while being a "junky" addicted to drugs and living on the streets and hustling for money, still had a relationship with Jesus and was willing to speak about that to everyone he encountered who was open to hearing. Mike says

"What's worse? To not do dope or to not love your brother? Why do we kick drug users out of the church while quietly ignoring those who aren't dealing with other, equally destructive sins? Why do we reject the loving, self-sacrificing, giving, encouraging, Jesus-pursuing drug addict but recruit the clean, self-interested, gossiping, loveless churchgoer?

Which one do you suppose Jesus would rather share a burrito with under a bridge?"

This is the question of the day? and I'll close with the lyrics to a great song about "God's Glory!"

From Third Day "Show Me Your Glory"

I caught a glimpse of Your splendor
In the corner of my eye
The most beautiful thing I've ever seen
And it was like a flash of lightning
Reflected off the sky
And I know I'll never be the same

Show me Your glory
Send down Your presence
I want to see Your face
Show me Your glory
Majesty shines about You
I can't go on without You, Lord

When I climb down the mountain
And get back to my life
I won't settle for ordinary things
I'm gonna follow You forever
And for all of my days
I won't rest 'til I see You again

Show me Your glory
Show me Your glory
I can't live without You

Seek and find the Glory of God and truly experience that today.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Innocence Lost

Lately I've been really lamenting the emptiness that comes with infertility. My husband and I have been married 8 years this September, yet becoming parents has been an enigma. We get all the same advice and instruction people seem compelled to disperse in jest and it's reached a point of utter frustration and even failure to my heart. I hadn't even realized how much of my heart was overtaken by this grief, until attending a women's study at my church, where parenting and childbirth are subjects occassionally discussed. It's very difficult not to get overtaken by grief and loss and a sense of "unfairness" at an unfulfilled desire of my heart. I try to rely on God's ultimate purpose for my husband and me. Sometimes I can and sometimes....I don't. Sometimes it's easy to be around "families" with children and sometimes I can't. This weekend the heart strings were tugged in so many ways through children, yet on some level I was able to confront the demons and gain some victory over the emotion of it all AND learn something in the process.

In all the "names" and roles of God...this past weekend...for me, He was the "Teacher". This weekend I had family in from out of town and out of state. My niece and nephew were in town and my brother and sister and their spouses were all here. My niece stayed at our house because of the "overcrowding" at my parent's house.

My niece is 15 and very much a child of her culture. She either has a cell phone or I-Pod attached to her head at all times, or she is soaking herself with incoming information while "surfing" the net.

My nephew is 9 and the most avid sports NUT I've ever had the pleasure of speaking with. I don't know how or when it happened, I just know he is now so passionate about Basketball and Football he can tell you pretty much any stat on any pro or college team in the US.

My pastor's daughter is 4, and is one of the most outgoing, friendly, sweet-spirited child on the planet. I had the pleasure of visiting with her during the Superbowl party at my church last night.

God was able to use each of these children, His teach me and show me something different in each case. With the pastor's daughter I saw and felt the freedom that comes in innocence. I have only visited with her a couple of times, yet she came up to where I was and sat down right next to me and leaned her head on me. The visual image is so stirring because this is such a SANGUINE child, with blonde, curly hair and a smile that goes on for days. You can look all the way into her heart and see pureness and an outpouring of love offered up to anyone who is willing to accept it. She chose me! I was in heaven. It rivaled the feeling of being chosen first in team sports in school. Hold that thought...

My nephew has always had a passion for learning and growing and excelling in all he does. What's happened at 9, in my vision, is a singular focus. His passion for sports has now overtaken his free-time, and even spilled over into his school work. While in church on Sunday, my nephew didn't sing the songs, and didn't even really pay attention to the message. That may seem normal, at 9, but as I have observed his childhood, this is "odd" for him. He was at 3,4,5,6,7 and even 8, an incredible worshipper. He was someone who not only listened to the message but could replay it for others. He could draw conclusions from it about his life. He would make prophetic statements about his world. At 9 he no longer does that. He is growing up. Hold that thought...

My niece, the 15 year old, spent so much of her time this weekend "plugged in" that I virtually had to force her to do homework or to come help at a workday at church. She has a servants heart, but she is also 15 and I can remember the shift to inward focus around 12 or 13, when the teenage angst sets in. So, she is right there on the brink of adulthood pondering her existence (in the way only a 15 year old girl can) and journaling this experience through poems and music. She is growing up.

Now...I remember the message Jesus gave us about coming to Him as a child and I've always taken that fairly literally. I felt it was important to hold onto the spirit of a child, open to everyone and everything, relying on our earthly and spiritual FATHER, to discern for us good and evil until we were older. To be as a 4 year old, that can come and sit by the strangest, stranger and share not only conversation, but whatever else they may have on their possession. what I learned, from the "TEACHER" is that unless I am willing to come to Him in this openness and innocence, I will miss His message.

I heard Jesus tell me to see the 4, 9, and 15 year old and to view and learn from this maturing in order to prevent the loss of spirit. The world will tell us to put blinders on our spiritual eyes, in the name of maturing. Jesus tells us to see with the spiritual eyes of a child. The world will tell us to "grow up", and will even go so far as to define what "grown up" should look like. Jesus is the only one that can mature us in a way that doesn't defeat or destroy us and still maintain the innocence placed in us when we first came to Him.

This weekend, the TEACHER taught me how innocence is lost.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Skeptic or Cynic, that is the question

So in a previous "post" I stated that I was a cynic about 'causes'...which in part is true. I WAS a cynic about many causes before Jesus pierced my heart. I am STILL cynical about causes rooted in ignorance or prejudice instead of passion and righteousness. Yes, I still believe passion and righteousness are a personal experience, meaning, what I am passionate about may be loathesome to you.

With that in mind, I was in Books-A-Million last night and while my niece hunted her newest "read", I did my routine of a quick trot through CLEARANCE (a bargain hunter at heart) and then into the category of "Christian Living" which always seems a bit dichotomous to me in title. Who and HOW are these categories named and books selected for these sections....another post....another day....Anyway, I picked up a few books to peruse and found one of their comfy easy chairs and started reviewing a number of books that had caught my eye. One that pulled my attention had something in the title about "Have you lost faith in the church, but not in Jesus?" I heard my heart weakly mumble: "Kim, just look at it." Who am I to question the mumbling of my heart? So, I picked it up.

The opening pages discussed the difference between a cynic and a skeptic. The author summarized this, as we should most "labels", with the question; what is the motivation of my heart? Is it to destroy and breakdown, as a cynic does; or is it in seeking to understand as a skeptic. Will I adopt this idea to my personal beliefs or simply learn from something I don't ecessarily embrace but do need to order not to walk in ignorance? Either way, "knowledge is power."

I have found that many prejudices (as I hinted at above) are rooted in ignorance or lack of knowledge. I didn't have to take a very deep look at the things and PEOPLE I "judged" to find that my judgment was based more in not knowing their "story" then in the self-named truth (i.e. label) I had assigned to their behavior. As with most of my story, it is a daily struggle internally not to jump on the judgment bandwagon. I may not be the one that judges poverty and illiteracy and other HUGE causes, rather I find myself judging churches, denominations, and self-proclaimed "CHRISTIANS" that walk in LIES. Careful, Kim, I feel some heartstrings being plucked.

I desire to see this change in myself so that I can be a conduit to truth, instead of judgment. I desire to see this change in others, that God has brought to the door of my story, so that their lives can and will be changed.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A Heart To Serve

This morning my husband, niece, and I are going to our church ( to a "work-day" to do some much needed asthetic work to the interior of the building. As I prepare my mind and heart for this much needed "work" I find myself struggling not to become overwhelmed by it all.

I am a HUGE believer in temperament and how we can more readily understand many of our actions (good and bad) by how God "wired us up". I ALSO believe God can and will transform our temperament as we strive to be more "Christ-like". With that said, I am 'choleric-melancholy'. More than anything else I am DRIVEN! I don't know if that conjures up negative or positive connotations for you, for me it's usually good unless I'm 'driving out of control'.

I try very hard not to use it as an excuse when I bulldoze over people or lack discipline about my words in my choleric-driven rants. Sometimes I am successful and other times I am not. I struggle to reign in my mouth when there is lack of leadership or lack of a plan. I am a natural "leader", no excuses, just truth, and with leadership, often comes pride. God has done so much work on me since returning to Oklahoma in this specific area, but it creeps in during times and it's a real physical struggle to do the work and not "rise to lead" out of pride. The other thing that is happening, even as I sit and draft this entry, is my mind begins to run in overdrive the 'things' I need to DO today. I need to get groceries...I need to do some Bible Study work....I need to call some friends....I need to visit my family....I need to clean the house and do the laundry and prepare stuff for tomorrow and AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH....that's when I know it is no longer God's desire....but my pride running the day.

It's a physical challenge for me to "be still...and KNOW that He is God...." I literally have to stop what I'm doing, pray, or ask my husband to pray over me and wait for a minute for my heart to stop racing, my pencil to stop scribbling the "to do" list, and HEAR what God has planned for my day. Sometimes I'm right on track...but usually I'm DOING more than HEARING and doing without futility.

I won't get into the melancholy list today. I will, however, encourage YOU to investigate the temperament theory as outlined by Francis Littauer or Tim LaHaye or any number of Christian authors. For me, it is easier to understand things people do that I don't WANT to make sense of, if I can see how God "wired them up".

Friday, February 03, 2006

MY "Great Commission"

Any of us that have attended a church of essentially ANY denomination or non-denomination, have heard the term "the great commission". I have heard sermon after sermon from Matthew, telling me to "go and make disciples of all nations...". I always felt either overwhelmed or
'excused' because I had already 'talked to God' about my lack of passion for going to Africa to live and witness. The thing that has always bothered me about the message from Matthew is how it doesn't line up word for word with the message in Mark and how it totally conflicts with my own heart's desires.

Mark 16:15-20 teaches: "Jesus said to his followers, 'Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved, but anyone who does not believe will be punished. And those who believe will be able to do these things as proof: They will use my name to force out demons. They will speak in new languages. They will pick up snakes and drink poison without being hurt. They will touch the sick, and the sick will be healed.'

After the Lord Jesus said these things to his followers, he was carried up into heaven, and he sat at the right side of God. The followers went everywhere in the world and told the Good News to people, and the Lord helped them. The Lord proved that the Good News they told was true by giving them power to work miracles."

Some denominations have left this last part out. I've even heard sermons that explain away these "abilities" Jesus speaks specifically about. I have heard preachers say emphatically that was only during that time and only a gift to the disciples of Christ. I have also heard preachers say we can not heal and cast out demons because we do not have that level of faith. I say "HOGWASH".

I believe this teaching, like so much Scripture, has been taken out and reworded and rephrased and redefined to the extent that we lose the rest of the picture. My LIFE acts as my witness. I am so NOT a 'perfect' Christ-like example that I WANT to be. I am way, way, way, off the mark. I have lots of excuses, but the bottom line is the thing that drives me is the passion I have for God and the desire I have to please God and to show my love for Him, as He has shown His love for us...for me.

I know realistically I will never reach the level of love that God did through Jesus Christ, but somewhere in the farthest reaches of my heart, I still want to try to get there. It could be my temperament, it could be my upbringing, but I would rather accept that as a child of God, a creation of God, I have HIS Spirit in my heart that is longing to bring me closer to Him. This is the thing that is missing for those that don't know Jesus. The heart condition. This is my commission. I would die tomorrow believing my life had purpose, if I could explain to each person God puts before me about this passion.

I don't have to go to Africa to find these people. I work with them. WE work with them. We eat with them. We get our hair cut by them. They are our checkers and greeters at Wal-Mart. We hang out with them. We used to be just like them. As a matter of fact, the only difference between us and "them", is we are forgiven. Don't ever forget when and how God brought you to Him. He was wooing you even before you glanced His way. He is still wooing you. It's more than a "life insurance policy", it's love like you have never known!

If I may be so bold as to use the words of one of the best ad campaigns ever: Get God!