New Background

Can You Hear Me Now?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Stripping Down to Nothing...

“Buck Naked Faith”: (Eric Sandras, Ph.D.)
Chapter II notes/thoughts

Here are just a few notes I jotted down while reading Chapter II. I hope they challenge you as they are me and again I would encourage you to actually read this book.

“What do I think about God?”
Honestly, I have often thought of GOD as a white-haired, white-robed JUDGE who has a stern look and furrowed brows. In my minds eye, He’s sort of a cross between an OLD hippie and an ancient judge (sans curls in his white wig). I have almost always thought of Him as angry and very strong physically and large (tall and big). I think of Him as straightforward. I think of Him as all-business. I can’t imagine God telling Knock-Knock jokes.

As I sit here this morning writing this, I feel much the same way. When I take it a step further and imagine Jesus…He’s like the younger, calmer version of God. He’s the more ‘reachable’ God. He’s the God I can look in the eye without fear. He’s the God I can hear without screams of wrath. He’s the God that is my friend.

By the way, my box (the one He’s kept in) is pink and lime green, with a lovely coordinating ribbon atop, tied in a perfect bow, of course! I’m trying to step outside the confines with which my mind sees God and the biggest barrier is not being able to truly wrap my mind and HEART around the incredible love with which we were EACH created. You see, my heart knows that God is not the white-robed harsh judge waiting to damn me with each infraction. God is the ultimate giver of love…how do I ever grasp what that means?

“What’s the story He has for your life?”
I’m beginning to think it’s like the push-me/pull-me in Dr. Doolittle
I realize this is the flesh/spirit conflict that exists and every single day is a battle of will and wit and sheer strength. I’m trying to stick with it (the story that is) and not give up and just live a life without purpose or passion…but some days…I feel certain I’ll find myself sitting in the living-color version of “The Shining” typing this message over and over again: .

Yes, it is a bit scary. These are the days I ask myself: What is it you feel passionate about? What do you want to do for the rest of your life? What is it you feel CALLED to do with your life?

I get confused here. I’m not confused about what I desire to do…what I feel PASSIONATE about…I get confused about God keeping me exactly where He has me; to continue to mold me and teach me and break me until I’m truly ready to move to the next chapter of my life: ‘Passion and Life Purpose’ by kpjara.

Am I here to learn more? Am I here to learn endurance? Am I here to learn contentment in ALL things? Am I here to learn to fully let it go? Am I here as a part of my own test or someone else’s test? Are there people I haven’t witnessed to here? Am I a part of someone else’s story right now? And if so, when will we de-collide and continue our individual journey?

“Ask Jesus to give you eyes to see something He is doing this week that you can be a part of. NO matter how large or small it appears, commit to be obedient. You may have to step out of your routine.”

Lord, Hear my prayer…let me see through your perfect eyes and help me to stay on YOUR track…no matter how large or small! Help me Lord!

Ironically enough, this week ALL church staff and “leaders” are out of town either at “Falls Creek, Youth Camp” or on vacation. How does this translate for me? First I volunteered to deliver the “visitor pack and cookies” to our new visitor from Sunday. Honest to goodness I stood outside her door praying she WASN’T home. Is that sad or what? It’s not as though I don’t LOVE my church, it’s just so outside my comfort zone to go visit with new people that I have to remind myself Sunday how would I feel if I came to visit a SMALL church like ours and NOT ONE PERSON came to me and said WELCOME! So I do it…on Sunday…but this during the week, evening visit thing…not so much!

Additionally, my husband and I are checking on one very sick young lady (whom I truly do love and care about), yet it still feels so uncomfortable in my skin to be this type of person and this is exactly the people I believe God wants us/ME to be. This is exactly the person Jesus lived to be on earth; the servant. So, with my husband we will go to them this weekend, pray with them, check on them and take some food (because that’s what we church people do…take food and pray). It’s in my heart; it’s just not in my skin yet.

God is teaching me so much about what it is to serve. It’s more than the Sunday morning coffee prep and donut time. It’s more than music and the words on a big screen TV. It’s even more than nursery schedules and air conditioning. Serving is a week to week, day to day, hour by hour call on each of us. It translates differently for each of us. But as I endeavor to be more like Jesus; I feel more and more everyday, a call on my own life to be His servant through each of the people (HIS people) He chooses to cross my path with. He has asked me to put my ‘mettle’ where my mouth is!

Activity versus progress: Stairmaster. “Am I measuring my success by the activity or the progress? Am I more like Jesus?”

Sandras talks about how a Stairmaster can get your heart rate up to aerobic level (and beyond in some cases) and simulate hills and flat walking surfaces. The Stairmaster leads to sweat (when you’re doing it right) and when it’s over…you feel as though you’ve walked miles. Look around! You are exactly where you started. You are more winded and tired and sweaty, but this is where you started!

If we’re not careful, our journey with Jesus can become like the Stairmaster. We work and work and work and the ACTIVITY is strenuous…but the progress…non-existent!
Unlike physical exercise, I believe with spiritual testing and ‘exercise’, Jesus has a goal in mind. We are stretched and pulled towards or away from something and it results in progress. It may not seem like much at the time, but we are steps away from where we started.

“How big is the gap between what you have learned and who you are in your daily living? Why does that gap exist?”

The gap sometimes feels like a small puddle and other times like the Grand Canyon! As I am totally honest about why the gap exists I have to question the activity/progress scenario above. It seems some things just “take” easily (like a bad perm) and other things take FOREVER for me to get (doctrine and Scripture context, Absolute Truth).

One positive note on that ‘forever’ timeline…is in my experience, the longer it took me to ‘get it’, the more quickly it returns when I’m faced with a similar test…challenge or temptation. God is faithful in His word to not put me through more than I can handle.

“Make a list of the spiritual disciplines you participate in during the week; prayer, Bible reading/study, church attendance. Is each one adding substance to your intimacy with Jesus, or just helping you maintain a façade? Are they more for activity, or progress? If you see a problem, is it the tool, or the way you’re using it?”

Spiritual Disciplines:
Bible Reading
Bible Study
Church Attendance
Church Service
Encouraging others
Evangelizing (at work)
Other disciplines as assigned (LOL)

Sometimes church attendance and service feel more driven by activity and less like progress but what I’ve found is TYPICALLY it’s not the tool, it’s ‘user error’.

In retrospect when I think about my list of spiritual disciplines I’m saddened I have fallen victim to this box. Even listing these disciplines is more activity focused. As I sit here this morning, I also realize the spiritual disciplines are not defined by some list (of activities), they are my love expressed; nothing else. My love for Jesus is because He first loved me and my life (spiritual disciplines included) are because I love Him…because He loves me…

There’s something to chew on a bit! Unlike the chicken and the egg…it’s clear…His love FOR me came first.


Shalee said...

You are right about everything we do needing to be a reflection of our love and gratitude that He did love us first, before the world was ever created. He knew the cost and still made us. That, my friend, is love to its utmost!

Oh, and I still say that God made the chicken first. If it were an egg, who would have sat on it?

sarah said...

I love the honesty and vulnerability you are showing in your recent posts. Thank you for opening up and showing us your heart - it is a treasure chest, and I am honored to be invited to take a peek inside.

I love the way you described your desire to serve, but the difficulty of walking that out: "It’s in my heart; it’s just not in my skin yet" I totally know the feeling.

GiBee said...

Hmmmm ... it almost sounds like you're trying to be something people "expect" when someone knocks on their door ... instead of just being yourself... as in ... "Hi! I just stopped by to drop some cookies off on behalf of The Greatest Church on Earth. We enjoyed having you visit, hope you come again, and I'll be praying for you!" Or something like that.

Just wondering if that might be the case???

Grafted Branch said...

But what came first: His love FOR you, or His knowledge OF you?

It's a nonsensical, not-even-rhetorical question that occured to me because of your chicken and the egg reference. lol.

This Walk can be too easily detoured, can't it? Such a relief that He is faithful; that He exalts the humble; that He is omniscient and sovereign -- that He is not the God of confusion. Surely something incredible is about to happen!

More to chew on. Loved this post. Very stirring.

MommaB said...

Lady, I fully expect someday to be putting a post in my blog someday saying, "You've got to read the lastest book by KP... it's so honest, forthright, and from the heart!" Wow! Not only are you a gifted writer, you reach into the very being of your heart and put it full front and center for everyone to review. And it is so obvious to me how you are seeking desparately to become who Christ wants you to be instead of who the world thinks you ought to be. Letting our minds envision our Master outside of the box we put Him in is so difficult because we as humans are unable to truly comprehend His full power and glory. Ah, but as the song says, "When all get to heaven... see Jesus... (fully in His glory and majesty)... oh, what a day of rejoicing that will be!"

I'll keep on praying for you! Thank you for allowing us to take this walk with you. He's using you!!!

Sally said...

I AM COMING TO BELIEVE THAT ONE OF THE MAJOR DISCIPLINES THAT GOD WANTS US TO DEVELOP IS THE ART OF BEING AND RESTING IN HIS PRESENCE... too often we rush into things and feel pressured by them, not being able to live up to our own spiritual to do list somehow feeling better if we can hit ourselves over the head with something for failing (again). God simply wants us to know we are love and to be free inhis love- then we can allow his love to compell us