Sunday, May 29, 2011

Those broken pieces...

Let’s first acknowledge that I have problems. Okay. Wanna hear about three of them?

Lately, God has been dealing with me on three separate issues: trust, insecurity, and leadership.

I think trust is a hard one for any of us. I’d rather trust in my ability to work hard than to trust God to pay my bills. I’d rather trust my own creative talents than to allow God control of my classroom. But, I think God would call that disobedience. No, I know he would call that disobedience.

I started going to a new church that I love. As soon as the service is over, I RUN out the door. Why? I have no idea. I was calling it awkward. God called it insecurity. Then, He told me that by His stripes, I am healed. Which is absolutely awesome, and absolutely painful.

I’ve been thinking about leadership for awhile. I’ve been telling my kids that as Christians, we need to be leaders. We talk about leaders every day in the classroom. I point out kids who are being great leaders. I decided it was time I take my own advice. Also a tough pill to swallow. God is constantly showing me things that I should be doing, but more often, He’s showing me things that I should not be doing.

I was hoping that as I started writing this blog, I might find some catharsis in it. But, all I really found was the amount of work that I need to do before I can be considered Christ-like. I am so broken and human.

But, fortunately, God takes those broken pieces every single time and puts them back together and turns them into something so amazing. In me, in this jar of clay, I have the treasure of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Christ (II Corinthians 4). I have the capacity to be Christ-like because he made me in His image. He knows I’m broken. He doesn’t care. He gave me His everything and all He wants in return is those broken pieces.

That’s beautiful.

Monday, May 9, 2011

And, he dipped and he dipped and he dipped...

This week’s Bible story for the kiddo’s is Naaman. While I’m telling the story today, I realize I can’t remember if its Elijah or Elisha (cause who can, really?). So, I look it up. This is how I imagined this whole thing to go in my head:

Messenger (in bored, can’t believe this is my job voice…actually, similar to the one I use at the blockbuster): If you want to be healed of your leprosy, Elisha says you must wash yourself seven times in the Jordan river.

Naaman: WHAT!!!!??? Does he not know who I am? He is supposed to come out here, call down God, wave his hand over me and heal me! Now he wants me, ME, to wash in the nasty Jordan river SEVEN times! There are better rivers! Can’t I just wash in them!

(Then the ESV actually says he ‘turns away in a rage’.)

Servant: Ummm….did he really say wash and be healed? Wash and be healed, man!

I was struck by the simplicity of Elisha’s request and the level of Naaman’s rage. Wash. He told him to wash. And, Naaman, commander of the army of the King of Syria could not be bothered to dip in the Jordan river. That is, until, a humble servant pointed out his silliness.

Sometimes, I really do just open my Bible and read wherever it opens. Today, it fell open in James. Holy Moses! It is blowing my mind! I already read it twice today. But, James 5 caught my attention in particular, just because it so ties in with Naaman’s story. The chapter talks about how the rich have stored up their gold and silver, but these things have corroded. Their garments are moth eaten and their riches have rotted. Naaman had status and wealth. He had high favor because of all the victories he had won. But, Naaman was a leper. He was going to die. And, all of the status and wealth and favor were rotting, and still he couldn’t bring himself to dip in the Jordan River seven times. He was offended because he thought that his status and wealth and favor had earned him a personal audience with the prophet, where he would simply wave his hand over him and his leprosy would be gone.

As I’m reading this, I’m thinking ‘what arrogance! Get a little dirty and healed you crazy!’ How many times I have let myself believe that I didn’t have to obey? Because it wasn’t about the water, it was about obedience. I’ve let myself believe that because I have 27 years of church in me, I can skip a few weeks. Or, because my job is a ministry, I don’t have to be involved in a home church. Or, a little gossip can’t touch me, or a little lie won’t hurt anyone, or a little lapse in reading my Bible won’t hurt since I’ve got so much of it memorized. What arrogance! And, what disobedience!

What rotting wealth have I been clinging to? What vestige of status or moth eaten garments have I been hiding behind? James 5:3 says that this ‘corrosion will eat your flesh like fire.’ And then in verse 5, that these wealthy have fattened their hearts in a day of slaughter. Just like Naaman, I need to wash myself clean of this corrosion before I literally die from it. It is time to recognize that I am storing up this false wealth in a time when I should be humbling myself before God in a way that I never have before. My flesh has become fat, while my spirit cries out for slaughter. I just can’t ignore those cries anymore.

Slaughter sounds pretty painful though. I wonder if God will let me dip in a river instead?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Conviction in Quadruplicate

Let’s take a minute to celebrate my return to blogging. Is that crickets I hear? Whatever. You know you need my wisdom.

I’ve returned because I want to share what God has been doing in my life in the past week. It seemed like a big jumbly mess, but today, it seemed to come together. So, let me see if I can put it together for you.

I’ve embarked on the Great Church Search. I’ve been at it for a while now, mostly via the internet (cause I’m a socially awkward chicken. Back off!). I google churches in the area, look at their websites, listen to their podcasts. I have a strange checklist that must be completed before I’ll actually visit a church (no saint in the name, etc.). It has not been fun and I have not enjoyed it at all. I think finding a husband at a monastery would be an easier task. (And, let’s face it. I’ve looked everywhere else for him.)

Anyway, I’ve said all that to say this: In my search, I stumbled across this church. I was listening to a sermon on the podcast about putting new wine in old wine skins. I’ve heard the passage before. Jesus says He can’t put new wine in old wine skins or new fabric on old pants (I paraphrased a bit). I’ve been begging God for a change, a new work, refreshment, revival, whatever you want to call it. But, as I’m doing the dishes, listening to this man I’ve never met, I finally got it. God can’t put my new work into my old self. He can’t revive or refresh this old wine skin. But, he does want to give me a brand new pair of pants. But, just like when you buy a new pair of jeans, there’s going to be a breaking in process. It isn’t going to be fun. I’m not going to love it. But, He’s got a new work for me, if I’ll just step out of my old self. He’s been asking me to grow up. He’s been asking me for some time, I think.

I’ve been spring cleaning. I hate cleaning. And, because its just me, I have a tendency to let things build up. Mountains of laundry needing to be put away, closets begging to be organized, and carpets in desperate need of a good vacuuming and it all happened this week. I don’t know what spurred on the cleaning, but I’ve been doing it. And, doing it with a happy heart.

We’re covering obedience this month at school. So, every time I ask the kids to do something, I’ve just been using the word ‘obey’ and underlining the rules (i.e., ‘thank you so much for obeying me by putting away those toys.’). I don’t know if its helping them any, but it sure has had an impact on me. I’ve been blown away by the number of times I say ‘obey’ in one day and also, by the number of times I find myself NOT obeying.

Then, this morning, I had a fantastic dream. I’m not going into details, but it was such a simple dream. But, I’m telling you right now, I literally felt the embrace of God. I woke up without a doubt in my mind. And, I can remember details of the dreams vividly, but the only phrase I can remember is ‘see all the trouble I went to for you?’

Boom. Conviction.

See all the trouble He went to for me?

I stumbled upon the perfect podcast. He gave me my own parable (cleaning my apartment like I should be cleaning my heart). He taught me a lesson about obedience that I’m sure I’ll never stop learning. Then, he wrapped it all up with a hug.

I didn’t deserve one bit of it. Not one.

See all the trouble I went to for you?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Excuse me, but I think your humanity is showing.

Can we have bad self esteem days like we have bad hair days? What would you call it? A pity party? A crap day? What if it last longer than a day?

I feel like I am the most terrible teacher, the worst kind of sister, a horrible daughter, and a selfish friend.

And, worst of all, I feel like I am the most awful Christian.

I feel like everything I touch turns to crap. And, the more I search for someone or something to blame, the more I find that it is all my fault. And, the more I try to fix it, the worse it gets. And, I think therein lies my problem.

I keep trying to fix everything.

I have control issues, I know. And, I think lately, God has been asking me to let go of them. I've been fighting. Now, I'm just tired...and over emotional. And, all of these emotions are ugly. They are jealousy and selfishness, self doubt and pride, bitterness and maybe even a little bit of hatred.

Surely, this isn't what God wanted for my life. He didn't want me fighting for control and turning into one ugly mess with a life that is quickly spinning out of control.

Lately, I've just felt like if I can get one minute on solid ground, I'll be able to put all of this together. And, today, I realized that He's the solid ground I need. He's the one who can put me back together. He's the one who can take all of this ugliness and turn it into something beautiful. But, before He can do that, I have to relinquish control. I have to give him my entire life to work in...the whole thing.

So much easier said than done.

With all my knowing, how can I be so stupid as to think I can do a better job than He could? I think it's just my humanity showing. And, it's ugly. And, it's horrible. And, it's disgusting. Why can't I just let Him take it and make it into what He wants to? Guaranteed, it will be prettier than anything I could come up with...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I wish I had more time to blog. I wish I had more time to do a lot of things. In fact, I have a lot of things to say...but, for once, I'm not sure I have the words.

But, here is a picture that needs no words:

She's beautiful already.

(Okay, we don't know if she's a girl for sure, but this aunt is feeling a niece.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Great Friend...

I don't even have the words to express...

But, my sister's pain is at least twice mine...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Run with Endurance

I feel like its been ages since I've posted. And, that's not for lack of things to post. God has done so much in my life since I last blogged that I don't even know where to begin.

My job situation changed. It wasn't what I wanted, but I think it was right. But, in the process of trying to be obedient, I battled a lot of other unwelcome emotions: jealousy, bitterness, inadequacy, anger. I was overwhelmed. I was afraid that I wasn't going to make it. I thought I found some peace, and then I would cry on my way home from work. I would start to get excited and then, the bitterness would seep in. I literally cried for a week. Then, I was journaling/praying because they happen simultaneously for me. And, I realized I needed to ask for forgiveness. Imediately. So, I made the necessary phone call, my hands were shaking as I did it. But, as soon as I said those words, a weight lifted off my shoulders.

This verse was my salvation:

'Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely and run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and protector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now sitting at the right hand of the throne of God.' Hebrews 12:1

This verse immediately follows the 'Faith Hall of Fame' in Hebrews 11. So, this great cloud of witnesses is Abraham and Issac, Noah and Gideon, and so on. We are surrounded by the stories of men who made it. They lived on faith and received their promises. So, now, it's my turn to lay aside the weights and sins that slow me down and run. I have been given all the tools that these men were given. They were only men. But, they were men who chose to run with endurance. Were they scared? Sure. I'm postive that Abraham was shaking in his boots when he walked his son up to that altar. Did they have their doubts? Absolutely. You don't think Noah didn't wake up every day thinking, 'am I as crazy as everyone thinks I am?' You bet he did. Were they worried that they wouldn't be able to do what God had called them to do? Definitely. Moses told God that he was no speaker, and God said, 'I know. Carry on.'

But, they ran. They ran with endurance. They looked to God and only to God. And, now its my turn to run. God has set a race before me and He has given me the tools necessary to run the next leg. I just need to take his hand and run like the wind.

I'm still overwhelmed. I still have my doubts that I'm going to be able to do this. I'm still unsure of His plan for me. But, I'm running.