Friday, March 19, 2010

Humans take time

We spend a lot of time talking when we pray. We ask for this and that, we spend some time asking God to help others, and then we start asking things either for ourselves or for our own curiosity. Sometimes we ask God questions about what we should do in our lives or what decisions we should make. Sometimes we wait to ask until the decision really needs to be made and we expect God to answer right then! We say that we believe that everything happens in God's time and it certainly does, but when we wait until the decision absolutely needs to be made to ask God what to do, we are not giving Him or ourselves time. Now God does not need time to process things like we do. He always knows what's going to happen and what decision needs to be made, but the "His timing" part comes in with His timing on when to tell us and sometimes it takes longer because we don't listen! One would imagine that when we ask God a question, we would listen for His answer, but that's not always true. We ask questions and wait for the answer we want, not necessarily the answer we need and when we don't get the answer we want, we stop listening. So God has to bring people and circumstances and whatnot to bring us back around to His way of thinking.

Time, humans take time. We are slow and oftentimes stupid creatures and when we deny God time in our lives, we deny Him the power to change our lives. Ecclesiastes 3 says there is a time for everything. A time to be born, to die, to plant, to uproot, to kill, to live, to cry, to laugh, to mourn, to dance, to search, to give up searching.... to sit down and shut up. We hear in our churches to go out and do, to not be afraid, to learn, to grow, to teach, to blah blah blah and there is nothing wrong with any of those things. But when in all of our going and doing are we spending any time with God? When in our ministry are we intentionally communing with the One who sent us out? Jesus hand chose his disciples intentionally, He taught the lessons that He intentionally at each time and each place. He didn't just throw stuff out there hoping that someone in the crowd would get it. He knew each ear that would hear, each mind that would process, and each hand that would rise in action based on His words. We of course cannot know all these things, we're human. But God can and if we spend time with Him, He wants to tell us. To be prepared is to know the Spirit of God in any given situation. Sometimes we honestly do not have that kind of time and that's why God is God and we are not. But God wants to tell you what He's planning, if we will only sit still long enough to listen.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hypnogaja "Looking Glass"

There's a place where the garden can take you
Through the looking glass
Find a way with the plants - they can take you
To your path
Chase away all the funny pain
Down the rabbit hole
And another world awaits behind the little door

You can go ask Alice
Just why the hatter is mad

All are welcome in Wonderland
'Till the queen screams off with your head
And life will always get twisted
When you're living it through the looking glass

There's a that cat smiles like
The crescent moon
And the caterpillar that needs a light
On top of his mushroom

You can go ask Alice
Just why the hatter is mad

Next time you see the white rabbit run free
You might not want to follow
Lose your youth, cause beauty is truth
It's just harder to swallow

So go and ask Alice
Why the hatter is mad
She'll turn when you see her
And laugh

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Surrendered Life

March 8, 2010
The Surrendered Life
I have been crucified with Christ . . . —Galatians 2:20

To become one with Jesus Christ, a person must be willing not only to give up sin, but also to surrender his whole way of looking at things. Being born again by the Spirit of God means that we must first be willing to let go before we can grasp something else. The first thing we must surrender is all of our pretense or deceit. What our Lord wants us to present to Him is not our goodness, honesty, or our efforts to do better, but real solid sin. Actually, that is all He can take from us. And what He gives us in exchange for our sin is real solid righteousness. But we must surrender all pretense that we are anything, and give up all our claims of even being worthy of God’s consideration.

Once we have done that, the Spirit of God will show us what we need to surrender next. Along each step of this process, we will have to give up our claims to our rights to ourselves. Are we willing to surrender our grasp on all that we possess, our desires, and everything else in our lives? Are we ready to be identified with the death of Jesus Christ?

We will suffer a sharp painful disillusionment before we fully surrender. When people really see themselves as the Lord sees them, it is not the terribly offensive sins of the flesh that shock them, but the awful nature of the pride of their own hearts opposing Jesus Christ. When they see themselves in the light of the Lord, the shame, horror, and desperate conviction hit home for them.

If you are faced with the question of whether or not to surrender, make a determination to go on through the crisis, surrendering all that you have and all that you are to Him. And God will then equip you to do all that He requires of you.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Taking the Next Step

March 6, 2010
Taking the Next Step
. . . in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses —2 Corinthians 6:4

When you have no vision from God, no enthusiasm left in your life, and no one watching and encouraging you, it requires the grace of Almighty God to take the next step in your devotion to Him, in the reading and studying of His Word, in your family life, or in your duty to Him. It takes much more of the grace of God, and a much greater awareness of drawing upon Him, to take that next step, than it does to preach the gospel.

Every Christian must experience the essence of the incarnation by bringing the next step down into flesh-and-blood reality and by working it out with his hands. We lose interest and give up when we have no vision, no encouragement, and no improvement, but only experience our everyday life with its trivial tasks. The thing that really testifies for God and for the people of God in the long run is steady perseverance, even when the work cannot be seen by others. And the only way to live an undefeated life is to live looking to God. Ask God to keep the eyes of your spirit open to the risen Christ, and it will be impossible for drudgery to discourage you. Never allow yourself to think that some tasks are beneath your dignity or too insignificant for you to do, and remind yourself of the example of Christ in John 13:1-17 .

Friday, March 5, 2010

Spring is in the air (I refuse to believe otherwise)

I know that it's only the beginning of March, but I want spring to be in the air so badly that I refuse to believe that it's going to snow again before summer! Daylight savings time is in a week and I'm really really ready to have some spring in my life! I need the sun on my face, the warm breeze blowing through my hair, and flipflops on my feet! I love shoes of all kinds (I am a woman after all), but in the summer, I wear flipflops and sandals... I'm ready! Toenails are painted and ready to go!

Dear God, can it be spring now?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Her terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

John 8:1-11 (New International Version)

1But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

11"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

Craig preached on this tonight at Rhythm (12/10/09) and made some fantastic points, one of which is that this story is not about the woman, that she was just a tool that the Pharisees used to try to get Jesus. And he’s right. But nothing in Scripture is wasted and so I would like to take a minute or two and talk about the woman.

Have you ever had that horrible dream where you are in some very public place like church or school or work and you are completely naked? Not a stitch of clothing on you and there is nothing that you can do about it! Some people are shocked at the sight of you and turn their heads or cover their husband’s or child’s eyes. Some people are mortified for you and shoot you looks of pity as they pass by, but never offer you any assistance. Some people are insulted as if your nakedness is a personal assault on them. And some people just laugh. Well, this woman’s worst nightmare came true. But not just in front of any person, but instead in front of a large crowd of people, in front of the religious leaders of her day, and in front of Jesus Himself! And not only was her worst nightmare coming true, it was coming true to get at someone else! Her worst nightmare was being used as a tool to try to catch an innocent man! If this woman didn’t know what it felt like to be used before, she sure knew now. Did she even realize that she was being used? And if she did, did that compound the hurt? Show me a woman who claims to have never felt used in her whole life and I will show you a liar. We’ve all felt it at some point or other, even if sometimes we don’t realize it until after the fact.

As Craig preached, I started to wonder about this woman standing there. Was she even dressed? Did they drag her out of whoever’s bed she was in and not even let her get dressed or even drag a sheet with her? Was the humiliation of being caught in the act compounded by her being naked? I don’t know but for her sake I hope she was able to get some clothes on before they flung her in front of Jesus. The Bible says that they made her “stand” in front of the crowd. Was her head hung down? Was she wringing her hands? Was she trying to cover her nakedness? And what was she thinking? Was she bargaining with God? “God, if You get me out of this, I promise that I’ll live for You!” Or was she pleading with God to spare her with the only two words she could manage, “oh God oh God oh God oh God oh God oh God oh God oh God….” Were her arms wrapped around her middle as she slightly rocked back and forth, just waiting for the first stone to fly? Or did she just want to die and get it over with? After all, we don’t know why she was committing adultery. We assume it was her choice, but since this story isn’t really about her, we’re not told her whole story.

We know that she was humiliated and her life was on the line. The stones were ready to fly right at her to kill her. But wait, no one’s throwing anything. The men who are accusing her are all looking at this other man, waiting for Him to cast judgment on her, as if waiting for His signal to let the stones fly. But He’s just drawing in the sand….. What the heck?

This poor woman! I have had some pretty bad days, but nothing I could ever go through in my lifetime could equal her terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day on that day. But little did she know that from this humiliation would come her salvation. Yes, to stand naked in front of this large crowd, all the religious leaders, and God Himself would be the ultimate humiliation. But we stand naked before God all the time; He knows everything about us, about our lives, about our hopes and dreams, and about our failures. And yet, He loves us. Even with the full knowledge of every single one of our faults, He died for us. His grace is sufficient. It was sufficient for this woman then and it is sufficient for us now and always.

Today was my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day and I can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my life was NEVER on the line today. No one was trying to kill me and no one was trying to use me to get an innocent man.

When Jesus told to woman to go and leave her life of sin, I wonder if she cried… again… or more because I’m sure she had to have been crying the whole time she was standing there. I wonder if she was so relieved to still be alive that her knees gave away and she fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet. There are so many things I wonder about in this story, but one thing I do not wonder about and that is grace. It’s perfectly displayed here by Jesus.

“Grace. Grace. God’s grace. Grace that will pardon and cleanse within. Grace. Grace. God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all our sin.”