Friday, August 29, 2008

Fairy Tale Endings....

Is there such a thing as a fairy-tale ending? I just finished watching Enchanted...a modern day princess fairy-tale. It got me to thinking. How many of us have hoped and dreamed that there was? How many of us have spent tons of time (or at least a fair amount of time) discontented because our lives have not been so fairy-tale like? Let's be honest, some (maybe quite a few) of our expectations have gone unmet. I sure have...I celebrated 18 years of marriage this week. I love my husband and I really wouldn't trade him for anyone or anything for him but the last 18 years are not what I would call a fairy-tale. Don't get me wrong, it hasn't been horrible or anything...just normal.

As a little girl and even into my twenties...I had dreamed that my life would become like a fairy-tale...or at least like "Leave it to Beaver." (yes, I'm dating myself!) But real, grown-up life was not like that. It was and is at times very difficult. Don't get me wrong, life is good and life in Christ is wonderful but somehow living in this world with my very,very strong flesh and constant misplaced expectations...well, real life is complicated. The Lord has redeemed so much of me, my marriage and my husband (he truly is a a wonderful, growing, Godly man) but my point isn't to talk about him and us but about my unrealistic expectations...that have stolen so much from my heart.

Do you ever feel the tearing between the two worlds? This physical life and the Life of the Spirit...the life that the Lord said was suppose to be abundant? What does that "abundant life" of John 10 really look like? Let's connect the dots from a Scriptural standpoint, look for a moment at John 10:1-18 and see its context...the context of sheep, thieves, robbers, other shepherds and a Good Shepherd that was going to lay down His life for His Sheep. By the way, does that sound much like a fairy-tale ending? I don't think so. He is going to take His life up again, but the process of the laying down was not going to be pretty.

Please hear (OK, read) my heart...I'm not trying to blow the whole fairy-tale idea out of the water we ever build our expectations based on those fairy-tales? Honestly, I'm afraid, for me, that is true too. Maybe listening to my fairy-tale hopes is like my listening to the thief and robber...who are out to steal some of that "abundant Life" that is available from my Good Shepherd. Interesting...just me thinking. If I get devoted to the expectations of the "fairy-tale" life...then am I really listening to the Shepherd? Or am I just caught up in the voices of the world's fairy-tales and the thieves are climbing over to rob, steal and kill?

I need to constantly be learning and getting to know the voice of the Shepherd, so that I can follow His voice. Ending in a fairy-tale? No. But result is the "abundant life" and becoming a sheep who knows the Shepherd's voice and follows. By the way, as two sheep...the married ones, individually follow the Shepherd's voice, they will find a peaceful and unified ending. That is what this sheep is slowly finding...but it is only found by me, knowing and listening to the Good Shepherd and not listening to the world's version of the fairy-tale ending.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I think I'm spiritually ADD.

I think I might be spiritually ADD. Here's where I'm going. I have a wonderful child with ADD (Attention Deficient Disorder) ...he has trouble with concentration and focus...most of the time he struggles with completing tasks. If I send him upstairs with more than two tasks, he gets totally sidetracked. He is a wonderful boy, he has such a soft heart. But there is no way around it, his brain is wired differently and he struggles at home and at school. We're working on it (I just had to send him back to school to get a forgotten item) Now, my point is not to tell you all my issues with working with him BUT to see a spiritual parallel in me.

Sometimes, I think that totally looks like me- spiritually and even emotionally. I can be all over the board, can you relate? I can jump from thing to thing...task to task...ministry to ministry...emotion to emotion. I hardly finish a thought and I'm off to another. We're all busy doing our tasks-whether it is loving our husbands and children , working at our jobs or doing a ministry task...and then we're off to another thing. All the time dealing with the emotions of it all. Know what I mean?

In reality that is our lives...we are all so very ADD (all over the place spiritually and sometimes emotionally and we all have difficulty concentrating on the Lord) , so how does the Lord respond to us? I'm telling you right now...better than I respond to Tommy sometimes! I can get so frustrated, so overwhelmed...and just plain annoyed with how he is wired and what is required to help him.(I'm just being honest) Sometimes, I'm what I need to be which is patient, clear, scheduled and specific in my instruction and other times...AHHH.

Isn't is amazing how patient, clear, specific and yes...even scheduled (in His time) our God is ? All the time. Not just on good days. All of His days are Good Days!Psalm 103:13-14 says, " Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust." He knows us...and He is not surprised at our state. Praise His Name! I'm the one who gets stressed out by "my frame", He on the other hand, is totally up for the task...the task of completely transforming me.

Actually, I think we need to recognize just how ADD-like we all are, how much we need His patience, His structure, His guidance...His Supply and His Wisdom to sort out all our thoughts, emotions and tasks. No wonder He only gives us a few things to do at one time! He knows how side-tracked we can get on our way to the first task! Just some food for thought...from one Attention Deficiented (is that a word?) follower of Christ to another.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

If you're tired-out... raise your hand!

If you are tired-out... raise your hand!

OK, so I bet all 2 of you are raising your hands. (and 1 of you, is me) But seriously, don't we just get tired-out sometimes? Tired-out from our own busy, busy lives and the lives of other people too. Sometimes I feel like my life is one big stove top and I have all these pots simmering... you know, stir-pour-add-taste and so on. "Put that pot on the back burner for awhile, this one is about to boil over"! AHHHH. Tired-out, at times, that's me.

I'm reminded of the prophet Elijah, he was one worn-out dude. Make some time to check out 1 Kings 18-19 for the whole story. Love this bit of Israel's history. The 10 Northern tribes, Israel, is under King Ahab's rule and things are not going well at all. Ahab is a idol-worshipping king...with a major idol-worshipping wife and the land is undergoing a severe drought. Israel had run straight into more and more idolatry and their King was leading the pack -Did you know, there were no good kings in all of the Northern Kingdom of Israel's existence? None, not one followed the Lord...yet the Lord brought one of the greatest prophet to them. Elijah. Think on that one, would you consider that a good investment? Evidently, our great God did.

Elijah did a lot of things but one of his most famous moments was the fire from heaven...licking up the water all over the alter thing. (if you didn't read the history, you should, 1 Kings 18) Well, that caused quite a stir and even a bit of a revival of sorts with the people...but then Jezebel caught wind of it and she was beyond hopping mad. She told Elijah he was a dead man and he ran. He ran hard, fast and long. Imagine...he had really seen God "show-up" and do some really amazing things, he was on a "mountaintop" like experience...He was directly in the will of God and being used by God and now he was smack dab in the middle of the wilderness- worn out and ready to die.

So, I'm not ready to die (I might be tired out but not at that point!) but I can sure relate to seeing the Lord do great things and even being a small part of some cool things and the "wilderness" spiritually and emotionally, worn out and ready to quit all those things (sometimes motherhood is at the top of the list!) . Can you relate?

Well, an angel ministered to Elijah and he was strengthened to go on to the mountain of the Lord where he would hear from Him. Catch that, he was strengthened in order to go on to meet with the Lord. Interesting. Well, the Lord asked him why he was there and Elijah tells Him straight-up his perspective..."I'm all alone and everyone is against me" (Mandi paraphrase) . Please tell me you can relate to that feeling! The Lord proceeds to "show-up" to him, only He was not in the wind, He was not in the earthquake, He was not in fire. God did not "show-up" as might have been expected...not in the big show. He spoke to Elijah in the "sound of a gentle blowing." That is exactly where the Lord spoke to him. In the quiet. Do we ever slow down long enough to hear the quiet blowing? Are we ever just too tired-out to listen?

Here's the thing...Elijah once again, pours out his concern, "I can't do this anymore...I'm all alone and there is no hope." (Mandi paraphrase) How does the Lord respond? OK, in the first place, make sure you remember the Lord did respond and what does He say? "GO, and return on your way..." Love it! Love it! God tells him to go back to what he was doing! God doesn't change a thing...what He does do is equip him with what he needs to do his job. Do you realize that, if you are a Child of God, you are equipped with exactly what you need? You are not alone...there is hope! God proceeds to tell him that he is not alone...there are others and tells him to appoint a few others to help with his job.

My dear sisters, I hope that encourages you as you get tired-out in this greatly encourages me. We don't get to quit but we can get tired-out...we get to be strengthened so that we can hear from the Lord, He wants to speak to you in His Word...and He will call you to GO but He will equip you and give you exactly what you need. - He'll give you Himself, in the "gentle blowing." Are we listening?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cleanse.Fill.Pour. -What does it mean?

Cleanse. Fill. Pour.

Is it a water purifying system? Is it a method of doing the dishes? Is it? Well...the answer is no. Cleanse. Fill. Pour. is a way of life. Honestly, I believe it is what we as believers in Christ are called to do-daily, hourly or for me sometimes moment by moment.

I just got back from Chicago and I need to cleanse! Here's the thought-we all as parts of the Body of Christ, are all vessels of some sort. Vessels that the Lord has ordained to use (Ephesians 2:10 and 2 Timothy 2:20) What kind of vessels does He want to use? Cleansed. Clean. Holy. Not rocket science but you know what? We live in a "dirty" world...and I'm all flesh and blood. After my tense drive back and forth to O'hare and hours of waiting and roaming in a crazy airport. After a rather crabby security guy, I'm rather stinky...spiritually speaking. Annoyed would be another word. So, what do I do? I need to cleanse.

What I mean is: I need to acknowledge how stinky and sinful I really am. So that I can be clean. Cleansed. Why?...because we are all Pouring. For crying out loud, I'm a mother! What else do we do? Even if you are not a women, we are always pouring out, into something. Well, when we are dirty vessels, no matter what we fill up with...we pour out dirt with the pouring. Get the thought? Cleansing is a really, really important part of the process.

Filling is important too. What is the easiest thing for you to fill with when you are empty? Me? Definitely a good snack! Just kidding, although that may be true on a particularly crazy day (by the way, I did pass up the pretzel store at the airport!) What I do NEED is to be filled up with the Lord, His Spirit, filled with His Word....Filled with faith. So what do you fill with? Are you filled with what comes naturally, things like the stuff of life or busyness or fear? Or do you consider that you need to be filled with Him and His Word? Filled with the Spirit? (Ephesians 5:18)

Finally, the pour. I absolutely love how the Apostle Paul looks at his life of pouring. He poured out to others, yet he understood that his pouring was not about Him. It was about the One Who poured out first. Jesus. Check out Philippians 2:1-17 and connect the thoughts of Paul's exhortation. Verse 17, "but even if I am poured out as a drink offering". The "drink offering" is hardly even mentioned in the Old Testament...if I could simply sum it up, it was almost like a afterthought. (OK, nothing is an afterthought to God but it certainly wasn't a "big" offering) Anyway, Paul likens his service- his pouring out to other people's faith, he calls it a "drink offering" - an afterthought. WOW. That is some kind of perspective...from the Apostle Paul! I think he understood, it wasn't about him. It was all about HIM. Jesus.

Cleanse. Fill. Pour. a way of life for the disciple of Christ. What are you pouring your life into? Me? Honestly, at a good moment...Him and then I'm overwhelmed by life again. But I'm learning the cycle...cleanse early and often with Him and others...fill, not just in morning devotions but all day... and pour. Pour out to Him for His glory, what He has cleansed and filled me up with. It's all about Him and He has a work to do in you and in me.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Blogging? What is blogging? we are. Blogging. I just made a random comment to my husband John about it and "presto" here I am...blogging. Humph. SO, I'm in agreement...blogging is the way of the present/future. Posting thoughts, ideas, concepts for the whole wide cyber-world to see. So here's the deal, I'm not all that artistic or creative. I'm intentional. If I'm going to blog, there is going to be purpose and substance to it (well, at least what I call substance).

I'm a close to middle aged full-time ministry wife (my husband is full-time with Youth for Christ) and we have 3 children (ranging from 6-16) I currently teach and write women's Bible studies and in my spare time....well, there is no spare time!

I am passionate about my personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the Word of God. I deeply desire to see all people (but especially women) understand what the Bible says and what it means to their lives- to see His Word change them from the inside out...I deeply desire to see the Body of Christ healthy and be a true light in the that the Name of Jesus would be made great and lifted high.

Blogging...oh, by the way, I really like the (...) thing, so I'll use it a lot and I'm slightly dyslexic...So bear with me! The next time I post I'll explain the Cleanse.Fill.Pour. thing- by the way, it is not a water purifying system.