“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Are You Wavering In Your Faith Today?

Beelieving God

I'm in the process of coordinating a jog-a-thon at our school.  You need a lot of help to pull off a fund raiser... help from people you know... and help from people you don't know.  I don't hesitate handing off job assignments to those people who I am acquainted with... because I have worked with them in the past.  I have confidence that they will complete the assignment.  

But I have realized a very real hesitation when I consider handing off assignments to people I am not familiar with.  They may be completely and overwhelmingly capable of the assignment... and perhaps have even coordinated a jog-a-thon in the past, but if I don't know their abilities or accomplishments... I don't blindly assume they will or can get the job done... I have to get to know them. 
Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"
"From childhood," he answered. 
"It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. 
 But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.

 "'If you can'?" said Jesus. 
"Everything is possible for him who believes.

Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, 
"I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"
Mark 9:21-24
Ever wonder how you can overcome your unbelief in someone?  You get to know them.  The more you know them and the more you learn about them... about their willingness to promise and fulfill that promise.  That they speak and then they act.  You start to build up  a confidence in them.  You start to have faith in them.  You know what they have done... what they are capable of... and you trust them.

Ever wonder how you can overcome your unbelief in God?  Get to know Him.  The more you know about Him and the more you learn about Him... about his willingness to promise and fulfill that which He has promised.  That He speaks and then He acts.  You start to build up confidence in Him.  You start to have faith in Him.  You know what He has done... what He is capable of... and you trust Him.

God is not a man, that he should lie, 
nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act? 
Does he promise and not fulfill?
Numbers 23:19

Are you wavering in your faith today?  I have been.  But today, as I was working on my Bible Study, Breaking Free, I have been in the Word of God.  I have been learning more about God.  I have been reading of His faithfulness and it has been reminding me of His faithfulness in my life.  How I have seen in my own life that He is faithful.

My encouragement to you today is to get to know God better... and the benefit of that knowledge will be that your belief in Him will go from struggling... to certainty. 

...because I know whom I have believed, 
and am convinced that he is able 
to guard what I have entrusted to him 
for that day.  
2 Timothy 1:12

This post was inspired by Day 1 (The Obstacle of Unbelief) of Week 3 (Removing the Obstacles) of the Bible Study, Breaking Free.  It also took me back to Day 2 (Encounters with God Require Faith) of Unit 7 (The Crisis of Belief) of my summer Bible Study, Experiencing God.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Somewhere between.

I am hiding today.  The weather is beautiful.  I am sitting in my garden.  And I am working on my Breaking Free Bible Study.  And I have been studying about experiencing God's peace... and enjoying God's presence.  And today I need that.  Because I am somewhere between the dailiness of life... and the sacredness of life.  Somewhere between folding the laundry... and reading the Bible.  Somewhere between hanging on Facebook... and praying for a friend.  Somewhere between soaking in the sun... and raising money to build churches in Ethiopia.

Somewhere between.

I easily get frustrated with the daily life.  The routine of it all. Fretting over what to wear or how late I will be or why certain commercials are shown during sports programs or why someone didn't speak to me or my plants didn't ripen or when will this road construction end or who do I call to clean the gutters or will the Republicans win the House.

And I wonder how to balance it with the fact that a dear friend just had a stroke... or is struggling to quit smoking... or is wondering when her wayward husband will return... or is wondering when her husband will no longer be addicted to alcohol... or is wondering if she will ever be the love of her husband's life... or will she ever find a husband... or will she get through this depression... or survive this breast cancer...

Perspective.  Peace.  Presence.  All given by a Holy God. 
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and 
when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  
For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah 43:2-3
I admit that I more readily turn to God to grant me perspective, peace and presence in the circumstances that I cannot control.  I cannot heal someone... or free them from an addiction... or mend a broken relationship.  But I know He can.

Somewhere between.

But for those circumstances that He has allowed me to have some control over... "those far less strenuous circumstances" where I am "not as desperate" I find myself struggling without perspective, without peace or without sensing His presence.  Because I have not sought Him on these things.  And I struggle somewhere between my need to control a situation and my need to relinquish control over a situation I deem not overwhelming enough to hand over to a Holy God.

So, today... while I am hiding in His presence... and asking for peace and perspective on the things I cannot control... I have decided to ask for His peace and His perspective on things that I think I need to control.

That He would grant peace and perspective
for this and
for that and
for everything between.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Take Comfort in Rituals

Tall.  Pumpkin Spice Latte.  No Whip, Please.

Some companies know marketing.  Geico is one of them.  And then there is Starbucks. 

Take Comfort In Rituals. 
We were heading down the church aisle when a visitor asked if she could sit with me during service.
Sure, I said, but we sit in the front row.
~Really? Why?
No, not presents. Presence.
We used to sit in the third row... or even sometimes the second row, but never the front row.  But a few years back when our Senior Pastor took a position to oversee the Oregon District and our church numbers dwindled a bit...  Anthony and I took desperate measures.  We moved to the front row.  Anthony was a deacon at the time and we wanted our church family to know that we were staying... we were available... and we were very present.  We felt compelled to let our church family experience our presence. 

We have a new pastor now... (has it really been over two years?) and when Anthony's term as deacon ended back in March, we both had the same thought... Would we move back to the second row?  Should we move back to the second row?  Something that had a reason for a season had now become a ritual, so where would our place be now?  We struggled with the thoughts for only a week.  Because when Sunday came, we knew where we now found comfort.  In the front row.

Just wondering... Is there a ritual in your life that brings you comfort? 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

As of Late - September 21st, 2010

hydrangea: water vessel

Lately I have been planting hydrangea.  They like my back yard.  I think I may make it a hydrangea garden.

Lately I have been switching from Bloglines to Google Reader.

Lately I have been wondering about Kyron.  And still praying.

Lately I have been a witness to God's faithfulness.

Lately I have been confronted with a plank in my eye.

Lately I have realized that legalism is contagious.  I am a carrier.  Perhaps you should not stand so close.

Lately I have been learning more about worshiping God.  With my whole life.

Lately I have remembered how to say the word no.

And I’ve been wondering, what have you been up to as of late?

Feel free to link up or comment with what you’ve been loving, learning and listening to as of late.  Thanks to Kristen for hosting this meme.  Details can be found here.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

This Jar is Still Cracked, Again...

My study today of Breaking Free, (Week 1, Day 3)... reminded me of this post I wrote last year.

originally aired July 29, 2009
This Jar is Cracked

photography by Anthony

We now have this light
shining in our hearts,

but we ourselves are like
fragile clay jars
containing this great treasure

This makes it clear that
our great power is from God,
not from ourselves.
2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT

As I ponder my current memory verse... I marvel at the thought that God's light shines within me. And also through me... considering all the chips and cracks in this particular jar of clay. How easy it is to see God's great power when the gaps and crevices allow the light to shine through...

And so I was caught off guard when I came across this verse in Jeremiah.

"This is what the Lord Almighty,
the God of Israel, says:
Take these documents,
both the sealed and unsealed
copies of the deed of purchase,
and put them in a clay jar
so they will last a long time."
Jeremiah 32:14 NIV

The beauty of the Old Testament. The beauty of scripture interpreting scripture.

I had only ever considered Paul's inference towards the fragility of a clay jar. Not the durability of a clay jar.

Anthony took this picture when we were in Israel last year. These jars are similar in nature to the jars that housed the Dead Sea Scrolls when they were found in 1947. Jars of clay that protected ancient manuscripts for almost 2,000 years.

Although fragile in nature. They were used for preservation. Preservation of the word of God. Worthy of holding a treasure.

And that is me. And that is you.

"And what a awesome thought—
God has always put his eternal treasure
in fragile jars of clay,
and though the jars eventually break,
the treasure doesn’t,
but somehow makes the jars themselves eternal."
- Pastor Ray Noah

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

1st & 15th Scripture Memory 2010: Verse 18

The Oregon Garden
Silverton, Oregon

...to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and 
the day of vengeance of our God, 
to comfort all who mourn...
Isaiah 61:2 NIV

He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. 
Isaiah 61:2 NLT

God sent me to announce the year of his grace— 
a celebration of God's destruction of our enemies— 
and to comfort all who mourn...
Isaiah 61:2 The Message

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Before September 11, 2001

a photo of me taken by my sister 
from the top of the Empire State Building
November 1985

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. 
I do not give to you as the world gives. 
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  
John 14:27

What I remember...

Before September 11, 2001, Christopher and I used to go pick up Anthony at the airport and meet him as soon as he got off the plane .  Christopher would put his face up to the window and watch happily as the plane would pull right up to the gate.

Before September 11, 2001, I wouldn't flinch when a cashier at the supermarket would pull out a box cutter to clip my coupons. 

Before September 11, 2001, "Let's Roll!" was not the name of a book.

Before September 11, 2001, thick curtains were still pulled to separate First Class and Coach seating on planes.  And the cockpit door did not have a peep hole. 

Before September 11, 2001, I had never seen a plane crash into a building LIVE on TV.  Or watch a building implode... unintentionally.  And then another.

Before September 11, 2001, I had never ever ever seen people jump from a building... much less from a skyscraper.  Over and over and over, again.  As I would watch in horror... wondering what thoughts would make a person choose between a fiery ledge and a jump to their death.  What thoughts would cause someone to find solace in putting their fate into a fall.  

Before September 11, 2001, I thought America was invincible.  And I could rely on the government to protect me.  And that in my naive mind terrorism happened anywhere but IN the US.

Before September 11, 2001, I didn't think of September 11th as a day to be remembered.  I didn't think of it as a day to pray for those who lost a father or mother or son or daughter or husband or wife... their death caused by a major atrocity.

Before September 11, 2001, I didn't think that nine years later I would be sitting with my 11-year old son watching 9/11 documentaries and discussing why a person would choose to fly a suicide mission... killing themselves and innocent people.

What do you remember before September 11, 2001?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Season Is Quickly Coming To An End

It's been a short wet cold summer here in Portland.  More days without sunshine than usual.  And that is evident by looking at my garden.  I planted three different varieties of tomatoes this year.  Roma, Early Girl and Better Boy.  Three plants is all I normally need to have all the tomatoes we would consume in a summer.  But this year only the Roma plant is producing red ripe fruit.  Our summer is over and fall is here... and there have been no red ripe Early Girls (ha!) and no Better Boys (I had actually paid $9.98 on a larger plant so that it would produce fruit quicker!).

And I have to admit that I was a little frustrated as I stood looking at them on Saturday.  There were plenty of tomatoes just waiting to turn yellow then orange then red.  But they were green.  All of them. And my flesh was considering ripping the Early Girl and Better Boy plants out of the ground roots and all.  But I didn't. 

Instead, I focused on the Roma plant.  The plant that was producing fruit.  Red ripe fruit in abundance.  And I thought that I should make sure that it gets every last drop of sunshine this state could afford.  So I moved some of its branches around and then realized that the Early Girl and Better Boy plants were collecting some of the sunshine that could have gone to the Roma plant.  And, again, instead of ripping out the two non-producers, I cut them back.  I left some of their unripened fruit with some faint hint of hope they might actually surprise me.  But I knew for sure that the Roma would continue to produce, so it was getting all of my attention... and all of the sunshine it could possibly get.

I realized I was giving more sunshine to the producing plant and less sunshine to the non-producing plants.  The more was receiving more... and the less was receiving less.  Not because of any reason except that I knew the season was quickly coming to an end... and I knew the Roma would produce fruit... and lots of it.

More given more.  Less having even what it had taken from it.  I mean... we're talking sunshine here and tomato plants, right?  But my spirit was stirred and I started to think of the verses that Jesus spoke about this very thing...

Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.
Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.
Matthew 13:12

This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, 
showing yourselves to be my disciples. 
John 15:8

I am coming soon. 
Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
Revelation 3:11

Thursday, September 2, 2010

1st & 15th Scripture Memory 2010: Verse 17
Binding... Proclaiming... and Releasing

Newport, Oregon

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,  
because the LORD has anointed me  
to preach good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,  
to proclaim freedom for the captives  
and release from darkness for the prisoners...
Isaiah 61:1

In less than two weeks, I'll begin Beth Moore's Bible Study, Breaking Free:  The Journey, The Stories.  (Updated Edition.)  A majority of the scripture for this study is taken from Isaiah.  I have decided that I will memorize Isaiah 61:1-4 over the next eight weeks. 

I did the original study back in 2003.  Life-changing then... but I have a feeling that this time is really going to clear out some of the clutter I've been keeping in my closets.  I'm hoping you'll join me.  I think we all could use a little binding... proclaiming... and releasing... Well, I know I can.


PS Thank you for praying for Elaine.  You can find out her updated status on peace for the journey.