Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Confession 232: Cranky Daze

May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance.  2 Thessalonians 3:5

 Yesterday was a cranky day.  I'm talking a beating my fists against our formica counter tops and screaming, "I hate my children!!!" cranky day.  Now, before you call the division of family services, you have to understand that I really don't hate my children.  In fact, after my tantrum I asked a prayer of forgiveness and assured God that I didn't really mean it, that I loved my children and really wanted to keep them around.  But, if he (God) could see fit to instill better listening skills within them and make them revel in clean-up rather than mess making, that would be really fantastic!!

In my defense, I had mopped water off the bathroom floor twice, given the children enough food to keep a prize steer fully satisfied, picked up about 500 Trio blocks, endured a 45 minute fit over fruit snacks, cleaned  most of a roll of toilet paper from the bathtub, broken up several fist/foot fights and gone grocery shopping where I tried to give my children to one of the store owners as free labor.  All of this was done to the ear splitting background noise of little boys playing superheroes and chipmunks.  Really, it could have made Mother Teresa have a mental breakdown.

Tired, unhappy with myself and my 4 year old who was still wide awake at 10 o'clock at night due to an unanticipated nap in the evening, I decided we would both go for a drive.  I strapped him into his car seat, turned on K-Love, and set off down our dark and quiet country roads.  For awhile, all I heard from the radio was "blah, blah, blah"...  And then God showed up.  Through the darkness of the middle of nowhere, God came through loud and clear in the form of David Crowder singing, "How He Loves Us."  

In those moments of quiet worship, God reminded me of all the little ways he had been with me through my cranky daze.  I saw his hand at work in the life of our family, felt how much he loves us, and was filled with the peace that only he can bring.  God helped me to let go of my crankiness and gave me the assurance that tomorrow, indeed, would be better.

And it is.  No, my children have not suddenly morphed into cherubs who, when not picking up and cleaning, sit quietly with their hands in their laps awaiting their next instructions.  But my attitude toward them has changed.  Instead of going into Medusa mode at the sight of breakfast cereal shoved into a cup of apple juice and then dumped onto the floor, I quietly cleaned up the mess and informed them that there would be no Spiderman cereal tomorrow morning.  As I was cleaning the kitchen and saw a cord being dragged from the bathroom to the living room, I stopped the snapping beast within and calmly held out my hand for the hair dryer which I replaced in its place of residence.  When hundreds of books were dumped from a bookshelf I politely informed the dumper that he would no longer play with his chipmunks today if Mommy didn't have some assistance in picking up the mess.  And, instead of seeing a living room cluttered with blocks and dominoes, I am able to smile at the creativity of my boys building a swimming pool for their Batman toys in the middle of the living room floor.

It is now 11:25 A.M.  I'm praying that the peace of Christ which transcends all understanding can last another 10 or so hours so that we will all be spared another cranky daze!!

Blessings and Peace,

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Confession 231: Bind Us Together

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 
Colossians 3:14

When I was a little girl, our Sunday night worship service always ended with the congregation gathering in a circle of joined hands around the sanctuary and singing the hymn, "Bind Us Together".  The words of the hymn come from Colossians 3:14 in which Paul exhorts the fellowship of believers to bear with one another, forgiving one another and loving one another completely, for it is love which holds all relationships together.

Our contemporary society has completely distorted the true meaning of love, replacing a heartfelt concern and compassion for others with materialistic extravagance and false promises.  Buy her diamonds, she'll love you forever.  Give the luxury of a new car and he'll forget all the time you don't spend together.  This is not what Paul had in mind when he spoke of the binding power love has to unite people.  And, it is certainly not the love Jesus spoke of to his disciples when he said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."  

The love shown on the cross, the love shown by Paul as he struggled from town to town, is a love that is both fierce and fearless.  It is a love no money can buy and that no one can give from themselves alone.  It is a love that seeks to lift others from their struggles, a love that seeks to conquer oppression and grief and desperation and despair.  It is a love born of hope, of the knowledge and understanding that there is more to this life than the demands of daily living alone.  It is a love born of the ultimate sacrifice, a price paid by our Creator that can never be paid back in full.  It is the bond that unites us, as fellow children of God, one to another.  "For ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!" Paul writes.  

As believers, we are equal partners in sin and we are equal partners in redemption.  Although we may not always agree on the details, we must stand united in our practice of love.  We must seek to build one another up, not tear one another down.  We must seek to encourage one another, to listen to one another, to console one another and to uphold one another.  We need to love one another as God loved us, and we need to care for one another as Jesus cared for those he ministered to on Earth.

"Bind us together, Lord, bind us together, Lord, bind us together with love."

Blessings and Peace,

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Confession 230: A Community of Life

All the believers were together and had everything in common.  They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.  And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.  Acts 2:44-47

"God recognizes our need for community and desires to meet the need through His church--the body of believers God organized to offer a community of life."  (from Paul:90 Days on His Journey of Faith, by Beth Moore)

I love going to church on Sunday mornings.  I love gathering with fellow believers and sharing in the experience of worshiping our God together.  I love being challenged through God's word and the message.  I love that children are allowed to sit on the communion rail during Children's Time.  It's a little thing, but it says a lot about our congregation.  And, of course, I love to sing.  Church is a safe haven for me.  I feel the joy of the Lord on Sunday mornings.  Yet, as I was reading through my devotional today, I wondered, "Is our church a community of life?"  In many ways, that answer is yes.  We are a welcoming and loving congregation.  We are a giving congregation.  We are generous with our building.  We seek to draw people into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  We are open to change.  But when I think about what it means to be a "community of life" through the context of Acts 2, it becomes clear to me that there is still more work to do.

What should a "community of life" look like?  Should it end after worship on Sunday afternoon?  Should it consist only of the occasional mission drives and collections?  Should we gather together in fellowship only on holidays or when the youth are hosting a fundraising dinner?  Should regular church attendance be relegated to two Sundays a month?  And should Bible study be held only once or twice a week?

When I think about a church as a place which offers a "community of life" I think of people being saved, literally.  I picture life rafts being thrown into a raging sea and drowning people being pulled safely to shore.  Offering a "community of life" means meeting people's needs everyday, however we can. 

It's people coming together like the early church and giving up what they have accumulated so that others may have what they need.  It's people engaging with one another regularly beyond the Sunday morning service to grow deeper in their faith and relationship with God.

A "community of life" involves fellowship time together where everyone who enters is welcomed and accepted and valued for who they are.  It is a place where hope is given freely and people are willing to see the potential in every new face seeking the Lord. 

Offering a "community of life" means living in a way that honors life, so that people who are lost and hurting and hopeless will say, "I want to be here.  I need to know this God!"

I LOVE my church.  And, more importantly, God LOVES my church.  He LOVES your church, too.  And he has commissioned us as believers to spread his message of love and hope and forgiveness and grace to those who have not yet heard, those who do not yet know.  And we do that by using our resources as a church, the Body of Christ, to offer our communities a "community of life."

Blessings and Peace,

Friday, June 15, 2012

Confession 229: 8 Viruses Later...

Well, almost 3 months, 8 viruses and $150 later I am finally back to writing!!  It's been a good little break, although I've lost my entire readership.  However, I'm determined to get back into the groove and work on doing those things which I feel God has called me to do.

I am currently in the midst of directing our fledgling community theater's first production which will be held this coming weekend.  As I have never directed a play before, it's been a really good challenge for me.  Luckily, my father is a 30 year theater director veteran, so I've had lots of help!!  I've learned a lot about leadership and that sometimes you just have to make a decision and go with it, regardless of its popularity. :-)  I've made mistakes and grown from them and have developed some skills I didn't even know I had.

I guess this is the process of life itself.  We move forward through experiences and challenges, growing and changing along the way.  We learn about ourselves, and others, and how we fit into this world.  We unlock hidden potential and see the gifts God has placed within us to further advance his kingdom.  We get frustrated and hurt, make mistakes (sometimes colossal) and grow in maturity through it all.  We "fix our eyes on the prize for which God called us heavenward through Christ Jesus", understanding that even though our life has not evolved in the way we imagined or envisioned when we first developed the script, it is a good and faithful production of what God has given us to do.  At the end of the journey the best we can hope to hear is, "Well done, good and faithful servant.  Welcome home!" 

Blessings and Peace,

My Family

My Family

My Family 2

My Family 2