Thursday, April 28, 2011

Confession 180: Gracious Giving

I'm posting over at Amy Sullivan's blog today, as well as Seeds of Faith.  It's been a busy day!! :-)

Blessings and Peace,

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Confession 179: Hope for the Journey

I have to be honest, I've been a bit down lately.  I'm entering into my second year without a contracted full-time job.  I interviewed for a job in which I thought God was opening a door only to find it wasn't so.  I've been surrendering and re-surrendering to God's plan but have no clear idea of what that plan might be.  I'm tired of pinching pennies and living paycheck to paycheck.  And, I miss shopping.  Materialistic?  Probably, but true.  And yet, I've learned a lot about myself and my priorities through this process.  I feel like God is teaching me some good lessons about what is important.  Furthermore, God has provided for all of our NEEDS.  He has been faithful, and I am trying to be so as well.  Although this season of my life is lasting a bit longer than I expected or desired, I know God's plan will be revealed in HIS time.  The pieces will all come together and I will look back and say, "Wow!  God is so cool!!"

And so, God led me this morning to an encouraging Word, more hope for this journey.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation...He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  Colossians 1: 15,17

Did you get that last part?  In HIM, all things hold together.  I don't know what you're facing in your life right now, but Paul is clear here that God's got it covered.  So if you're feeling tired, overwhelmed, defeated, or anxious--if it seems like life is falling apart--take heart!  God is holding it all together!!  And, unlike us, his hands are big enough to do it all!!  God is not going to drop the ball when it comes to yours and my life!  Where we see one big mess, one impossible hurdle to overcome, God sees a master plan coming together.  I love those t-shirts that say, "Work in Progress".  I think I need that phrase stamped on my forehead! :-)  God is constantly working in our lives.  So, I'm surrendering once again to God's will today and I am taking hope and comfort in the fact that HE is holding it all together.

Blessings and Peace,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Confession 178: The Sacrifice of Love

This past Sunday marked the beginning of what we in the Methodist church simply refer to as "Holy Week".  For us, it is the most sacred time of year, the week in which we walk with Jesus from his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, through the valley of the shadow of death, to emerge once again victorious in resurrection.  We mark the week with services on Thursday, Friday and Sunday in order to remember and commemorate the Last Supper, the Crucifixtion and the Resurrection.  It is so tempting to run from the celebration on Palm Sunday to the pure joy Easter morning brings.  However, when we do that, when we don't walk with Jesus through the valley, we miss the whole point of Easter.  Easter doesn't begin with the empty tomb (it doesn't end there either, for that matter).  Easter begins with Jesus' willing walk to the cross, through torture, humiliation and agonizing pain.  We need to bear witness to that part of the story, painful though it may be, to understand the full meaning of the sacrifice of love God made.  And, we need to understand that we, like those who lived two thousand years ago, are culprits in the crime.  We, like the soldiers, have mocked Jesus.  We, like Peter, have denied him.  We, like Judas, have betrayed him.  We, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, have failed to recognize him. (See Rev. Adam Hamilton's book, 24 Hours That Changed the World)

I would challenge you, as you continue through this most Holy of weeks, to spend some time in the valley with Jesus.  Walk through the darkness of Thursday and Friday.  See Jesus' anguish in Gethsemane.  Watch as he is beaten, humiliated and mocked.  And finally, bear witness to his death on the cross, realizing that it was because of us, and for us, that this sacrifice was made.  Then, and only then, can we rise on Sunday morning and sing with joy, "Because he lives, I can face tomorrow...."

Blessings and Peace,

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Confession 177: Surrender

One of the things I've been thinking about a lot lately is surrender.  You may have heard the old hymn, "I Surrender All"..."all to Jesus, I surrender, I surrender all."  About a week ago, I sang a new song.  I don't remember the name, but I wrote down a few lyrics that seemed to bore their way right into my heart.  In my journal I posed the following questions to myself:

1. Can you abandon your heart to God?
2. Can you truly say, "all I have is yours"?
3. Can you surrender all to God?

If I abandon my heart to God, if I freely give him all I have, if I completely surrender myself to his will, then that means all of the desires of my heart, all of the plans from my life, all of my hopes and dreams need to be left on the altar before him.  Everything I want to achieve needs to be let go of so that I may pick up and carry the desires of God's heart for me, the plans HE has for my life, the hopes and dreams HE has created for me when he knit me together in my mother's womb. 

"For I KNOW the plans I have for you...." God says through Jeremiah.  "...plans to give you hope and a FUTURE."  The problem for me comes when that future is not part of the future I had envisioned for myself. When God says no to my plans, it stings a bit.  And I stubbornly cling to what I want to achieve rather than open myself to what God would have me achieve.

We live in a culture that thrives on ambition and the desire to achieve.  Be the best.  Work hard. Gain wealth and status.  Compete.  Dominate.  Like anyone else, I want to be successful.  I want to have a thriving career, to be respected in my field, to accomplish things and to have some financial security.  Yet, interestingly enough, God seems to want something different.  I can't help but think back to Micah 6:8.  What does the Lord require of you?  To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.  Walk Humbly....Surrender All. I think the two are bound together.  To walk humbly with God is to accept the desires, plans, dreams he has for your life and to follow him, freely, wherever than may be.

Blessings and Peace,

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Confession 176: Fear What?

My oldest got a new bike this Christmas--a big boy bike with a helmet and training wheels.  He was hesitant at first, but got the hang of it quickly.  We rode as much as we could as weather permitted, and Garrett flew.  He was fearless.  It was exhilarating.  Then came "the fall".  On an uneven bit of pavement, Garrett toppled to the ground and skinned his bony little knee.  Enter fear.  Where was there was joy and freedom, now there is fear and frustration.  Garrett is convinced if he rides his bike he will fall and get hurt.  Nothing Chris or I say or do makes a difference.  He's stuck in a fear block.

It occurs to me that we, as adults, can run into the fear block when it comes to living out our lives.  Fear has got to be one of the greatest weapons Satan uses against us.  Fear immobilizes us, takes away our freedom and robs us of our joy.  It worms its way into our minds, telling us we can't, we're not good enough, we don't know how, we'll get hurt.  Satan uses fear to keep us from doing the work that God has for us to do.

Yet here's the truth I've found in my own life.  God asks us to take our fear head-on and plow through.  God tells us to get back up on that bike and keep going.  When Elijah was hiding out in a cave because Jezebel wanted his head (literally) God found him and told him to head back down the mountain.  God wants us to take a leap of faith so he can show us his power and his love.  God doesn't want us to live bound up in fear, but rather, to live a life of freedom in him.  And to live freely in him, we must learn to become fearless.

My memory verse for the week is from Exodus 14:13-14.  Priscilla Shirer used it in her "Going Beyond" event last week and I am taking it to heart.

"And Moses said to the people, 'Do not be afraid!  Stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord is bringing to you TODAY!  The Lord WILL fight for you; you need only to BE STILL!!'"

Blessings and Peace,

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Confession 175: Soccer and Psalm 42

Why, my soul, are you downcast?

Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,

For I will yet praise him!

My Family

My Family

My Family 2

My Family 2