Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"My Call To Greatness"

I have a confession to make. I want to do something BIG. I want to make a BIG difference in this world for the kingdom of God. Don't get me wrong, I love my life and I know raising 4 boys is a huge, God given calling, but I have always wanted to do something grandiose for God. I am always waiting and looking for "that" big moment. Recently God has been working in my heart about this very thing and he has used a small shepherd boy to teach me some great lessons. David was the youngest of many brothers and he was a shepherd. He was a shepherd who God called to be a King. David knew at that point that he was called to greatness. God had set him apart and called him out to do something big. At this point in the story if I had been David, I would have requested my crown, a purple robe, some servants and the best food so I could be ready to rule and "make a difference." But guess where God sent David...not to a throne or to a day spa, He sent him back to the fields to tend the sheep. A King tending sheep? God sent him back to the fields, because He was not finished molding and shaping this young life. Yes he was called to a place of greatness, but he was not ready. God was preparing him as he served in the fields among the sheep. He had to govern, lead, protect and serve the sheep before he would ever be ready to serve the people. As Lysa Terkuerst puts it, "He was being trained in the fields of everyday life." We all have a training field and it is called "everyday life." Some of the greatest lessons God will ever teach us are learned in the most mundane chores of our everyday life. David killed a bear, he cleaned up after sheep and herded them all the while protecting them and making sure they were well fed in green pastures, drinking from quiet waters and free from pests. Sounds like my job some days. David did not seek greatness. David was not looking for a job opening for king. He was not advertising his talents or his accomplishments. He was just being obedient. I read a quote the other day by Jonathan Acuff that was a defining moment in my life. "David did not show up to fight Goliath. He brought lunch. Stop looking for dramatic and be great at the little things." Wow, how amazing is that? David was being obedient and doing what could have been considered one of the lowliest jobs, the job of a servant, he was delivering lunch. He was a delivery boy. How many delivery boys do you know that are sought out for the position of king? God recognized in David the heart of an obedient servant and he is referred to "as a man after God's own heart." God is looking for obedience. He is looking for servants. As we say in our house all the time "Jesus came to serve, not to be served." A man or woman after God's own heart serves. For some of us that means serving lunch like David did, and breakfast and supper and laundry and diapers and bathrooms and carpools and I could go on and on. Are those acts of service any less important to God than the acts of a King? Absolutely not, if that is what God has called you to do. The call to greatness is being obedient to the will of God for your life. I may not defeat a giant and save lives, but I may be raising children who will do that. I would love to have met David's mother. Raising all those boys, I'm sure she and I would have been friends. She did not defeat a giant, but she raised a son who did. She disciplined, trained and instructed a young man who became a "man after God's own heart." We can't go looking for greatness. Greatness finds us. Why? Because our finite minds cannot comprehend the greatness of God. What He considers great and what we consider great are two totally different things. For this reason, we obey today never knowing when greatness will be accomplished, but remembering that it is not about us. I believe that is why God waited to call David to face the giant when he showed up with the lunch. If he had been told ahead of time he might have run, he might have lived in fear and worry or he might have taken a class from me and become conceited and tried to work in his own strength thus grasping for the glory for himself instead of giving the glory to God. We always say, "David defeated Goliath." No he didn't! God defeated that giant. God is the only one able to accomplish such greatness. David was the obedient vessel. David held the sling shot and God provided the strength. God had prepared David way before that day. God is preparing me and you everyday, in the "fields of our everyday life." What are we being prepared for you ask? Whatever the will of God is for you and for me. We just have to be obedient. You never know when God might call you to fight a giant for His glory. A call to greatness can come by just delivering lunch.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"God Makes Me Love You"

Matt and I have been married for a little over 14 years. During our first year of marriage I looked at Matt and asked the question, "Why do you love me?" I guess I was looking for some romantic answer like...because of your love for Christ, you have beautiful eyes, you are beautiful, you are a wonderful wife and an awesome cook. The answer I got was NOT the one I was expecting. "Why do you love me?" "Because God makes me!" Because God makes me, what kind of answer was that. If memory serves me correctly that night ended in tears. I didn't have this highly developed sense of humor back then. 14 year later I still ask that question, but usually as a joke. I also answer many questions with "because God makes me" just to be funny and let him know that I haven't forgotten his answer. After 14 years of marriage I now take great comfort in his original answer. He was not being unromantic. He was trying to give me the assurance that his love for me and his commitment to our marriage was out of his obedience to God and that was NOT going to change. I know that in 14 years I have done things that have not been very lovable. I know that God has had to MAKE Matt love me through certain situations and attitudes in my life. What a great comfort it has been to be married to a man who seeks to be obedient to God above all things. If only I had realized what a romantic answer that was 14 years ago. On our 12th anniversary Matt sent me an e-mail remembering the day I asked "The question" and he gave me "The answer." On our 12th anniversary he sent me an e-mail with 12 reasons why he loved me. It was precious and sweet and very romantic, but totally unnecessary at that point. He shows me through his actions, his words and his eyes why he loves me everyday. I see in him a man that loves God ABOVE ALL. This confidence and the confidence in knowing that "God makes Him love me" is the only assurance I will ever need. Who needs romance when you have obedience? Life can't always be romantic, but the assurance of obedience is reassuring. I like to pick at Matt and remind him of that day, but I also remember how silly I acted and how that answer over the years has given me the greatest peace and comfort and assurance of his love for me. It's not about anything I do, say or what I look like. It is not about circumstances being good or bad or even if he feels like loving me. It is about obedience. "BECAUSE GOD MAKES ME!"

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Are We Allowed To Write In Our 'Diary'?"

As I was cleaning out my bedroom drawers Joshua found a notebook and decided to claim it as his 'diary." In his adorable, grown-up voice he said, "I am going to go write in my diary." To which Jacob replies, "Ooooohhh gross, we are not allowed to write in our diarrhea. Are we mommy?" The funniest part was that he said 'Are we mommy?' in such a way that he would have considered the possibility if he thought it would be ok. I began to think about diaries and the purposes behind them and realized that Jacob was not too far off. Most of the time diaries serve the purpose of being a book full of diarrhea of the heart. Don't get me wrong, I am not against journaling, but diaries are often used to vent or to record feeling and thoughts that are not Godly. For some reason we think if we write it instead of say it then it is ok to speak words of anger and untruth. I have been guilty of this. I use to have a "journal" and realized that it was not a prayer journal or a blessings book or even a record of life events, but it became an angry journal. Every time I was frustrated or ill with someone I would write in my "journal." Sometimes as a prayer and other times as an angry letter full of empty threats. I became convicted that just because I was angry it did not give me the right to pour forth every angry thought and feeling. God instructs us in scripture to "Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ." We are not to take the thoughts captive in a notebook with a lock and key. Just because they are under lock and key it does not mean they are obedient. We are to think the way Christ himself would have thought. Philippians 4:8 says "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things." What a wonderful guide of obedience for our thought life. Psalm 62:8 "Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." God wants us to pour out our hearts to Him. He wants to know and hear the deepest thoughts and desires of our heart. So often we take refuge in "feeling better" because we "got it off our chest" by writing it down. Just to be clear, I am not anti-journaling or anti-diary. I am just convicted that we should use them correctly. We should use them to encourage us in our walk with Christ and to draw us into His presence and into a place of thanksgiving. When I read back over journals I have kept in the past I am often taken back to those places and I become angry again and sinful thoughts and feelings resurface. God is a God of healing and forgiveness. When I lay it at His feet and walk away then I can leave it with Him and the healing process can begin. When I re-read it I re-live it and the healing process keeps getting re-infected. I have made a commitment to pour my heart out to the Lord and to use my journal as an avenue for praise, encouragement and a reminder of blessings. As I focus on Him and His greatness, I have no room for anger or self-pity. As I continue to focus on Him and His character I cannot live in discouragement or fear or even the anger of the past. He is an awesome God and we must praise Him. When I am gone and the journals of my life are stacked up for my loved ones to read and remember my life, I want them to see a life full of praise and encouragement. I want them to see a woman who loved the Lord Jesus Christ with all her heart. I do not want them to read volume after volume of diarrhea of the heart.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Your Dirt Is The Same As My Dirt"

It is no secret that I have a love for cleaning and cleaning supplies. I know it sounds strange, but I LOVE to clean. There is nothing quite like the feeling of seeing something that is really dirty, putting your heart and soul into it and then watching it sparkle and shine. I love clorox. I love magic erasers. I love pine sol. I love to pressure wash. Anything that can take that which was dirty and make it clean makes my heart leap for joy. I have always had an obsession with my house being spotless until recently. I have recently been doing some cleaning for some friends and the more I clean for others the less I work on my own dirt. Somehow my dirt doesn't seem as bad as others dirt, but guess what...dirt is dirt. As I looked around my disgusting home last night knowing it was time for a deep clean, but not really having a burden to see it done God revealed to me why I am not as passionate about my dirt anymore. Matthew 7:3-5 describes it so clearly. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank our of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." How often does our neighbor's dirt seem so much worse than our own dirt. We compare, we judge, we condemn all the while walking in sin ourselves. The more we focus on the dirt in someone else's life the less we notice or are disgusted with or own dirt. God says, (how dare you) you hypocrite...you have dirt too and dirt is dirt, so why does their dirt bother you, but your dirt does not? WOW, have you ever been guilty of this? If we were honest, we all have. The sins of others bother us so much, but we never stop to see that we ourselves have sins and sin bothers God! In His eyes sin is sin! "At least my bathrooms are cleaner than hers." Guess what...dirt is dirt...a little or a lot it is still called dirt. The more we focus on the dirt or sins of others the more we become desensitized to our own dirt and sin. In our eyes it just doesn't seem so bad. Guess what my friend? It still grieves the heart of a Holy and righteous God. We must pray that our hearts never become desensitized to sin, especially our own sin. Psalm 51:10 "Create in me a CLEAN heart Oh God and renew a right spirit within me." We must pray and ask the Lord to clean our hearts and to renew a right spirit within us. A spirit that is concerned about the things that our God is concerned about. A spirit that offers grace to others, not condemnation. I love that phrase "renew a right spirit within me." In other words when my heart was clean I had a right spirit, but I have become dirty and in doing so my spirit is no longer right. The psalmist is saying "I recognize that my heart is not pure and clean and that my spirit is not right, so Holy Spirit of God make my heart clean and renew that right spirit within me." So how do we allow God to make our hearts clean...clorox and a magic eraser ain't gonna cut this. I John 1:9 says "If we confess our sins He is faithful and just and forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." We have that promise that as we take or sins to Him and ask for forgiveness he will forgive us. James 5:16 says "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.. The prayer of a righteous man are powerful and effective." There is wisdom and healing in finding a Godly friend who you can confess to and pray with about your sins. I love that it says confess to each other, pray for each other and you will be healed. Healing is an awesome thing, especially healing from sin. As we confess, share and pray with others about our sin there is accountability and through the accountability healing can come. When you have others holding you accountable and asking you about your sin, it cannot become a secret sin that seeks to destroy. It is laid open for all to see and you can begin to clean it and get rid of it. HEALING!!! Physical healing is wonderful but it will never compare to spiritual healing. Physical healing is for a time, but spiritual healing is for eternity. At our house we have what we call clean-up day. That means everybody is cleaning everything. Declare today "clean-up day" in your own heart and life. Go before the Father and ask Him to... "Search me, O God and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24. Dirt is dirt and sin is sin! It is all disgusting and repulsive to God. Your dirt is the same as my dirt. GROSS!

Monday, July 12, 2010

"Tangled Up Like The Peppers"

First let me say that yes I know I have been a slacker where blogging is concerned, but I have been enjoying my boys and making lots of jelly. Thank you for the many inquiries, requests and threats concerning my blog. I will try to do better.

I walked out to my garden today not really expecting much of a harvest due to the heat and the fact that my cucumbers have decided to shrivel up and die. I was picking what little produce I could find and inspecting what is left of the so called garden when I noticed something strange about my pepper plant. My jalapenos looked thicker than usual and I was momentarily encouraged. I could see peppers and I could see blooms, but them I noticed a leaf that looked very different. That is when I realized that weeds were overtaking my pepper plant. Not only were weeds growing, but they were wrapped around each branch and stalk and were masquerading as part of the plant as the leaves peaked out of the top and had small yellow blooms. These weeds were taking on the characteristics of this pepper plant with such deception. My plant at first glance appeared thicker and healthier. As I tried to untangled the weeds I had trouble identifying the plant from the weeds because of the tight hold those vines had on my beautiful pepper plant. Any of this sound familiar? I began to think about sin and how it does the same thing in our lives. As first glance those "sins" seem to make our life more full, but the truth is the same. Those weeds (sins) are seeking to ultimately destroy us. Just as the weeds on the pepper plant, our sins become so entangled that sometimes it is hard to tell the truth from the lie. We become deceived as these sins take up root within our lives and produce temporary blooms of pleasure. Sometimes it is so hard to identify these sins because they become such an unfortunate natural part of our lives. After all we look better than the pepper plant growing beside us, but are we really? If I leave those weeds entangled around my pepper plant they will eventually choke the life out of my plant and it will not longer produce fruit, it will shrivel up and it will die. The same is true of the sins in our lives. As we become entangled and deceived we cease to bear fruit, we become dry and weary and eventually we will die. We have to learn how to identify those weeds (sins) and learn how to kill them from the root. We have to cut them out like a cancer and leave clean edges so that they do not return. It is not enough to just untangle them and keep them close by in the hope that they will not do any damage. God has called us to bear fruit, His fruit. We cannot do that if the sins of this life are choking out our source of nourishment. Scripture talks about "the sins that so easily entangle." It is spelled out that it is not hard to become entangled in sin. It is easy. Why is that? Because that is the sneaky, deceptive way that the devil works. Weeds can be appealing. They can look like a healthy plant. They can bloom and they can grow strong until they leech onto the true plant and suck the very life out of it. Sin does the same thing. It looks appealing. It offers the unfulfilling promise of pleasure and reward. It is so easy to welcome it in before ever realizing the damage it can cause. (Momentary pleasure) We must live aware and alert and rid our heart of sin daily. "Create in me a clean heart oh God and renew a right Spirit within me." As you awake each morning pray and ask the Holy Spirit to fill you to overflowing and pray for protection from head to toe. Pray for your mind, for your eyes, for your ears, for your mouth, for your heart, for your hands, for your feet. Pray and ask the Lord Jesus to guard you and to allow you to bring Him honor and glory in ALL things. Be ever mindful and watch and be aware so that you don't become tangled up like my pepper plant.