Monday, June 29, 2009

The Sanctification Gap

Are you hungry for more in your life along the Way? Do you have this confusing feeling that "by this time I thought I would be more Christlike" or "...over this sin problem" or "...showing more of the Fruit of the Spirit"? You are NOT ALONE! I know we have more in common than you might realize in longing for more of the abundant life Jesus has promised. Different faith traditions call this longing by different names, but the basic idea is spiritual growth. Let's explore how this happens together along the Way, shall we?

I had the privilege of attending a fabulous conference coordinated by the Renovare Institute last week. The title and theme of the conference was "The Jesus Way: recovering the lost content of discipleship". All the keynote speakers were amazing and there were too many wonderful workshop titles to choose from! I did come away feeling so full of hearing, experiencing, and learning that I was worn out.

I have been pondering what of all I heard would be the best place to begin to process with you. I decided the workshop that connected some dots for me between history and present day is the place to begin. The title of the workshop called out to me: "How we lost the Way: Learning from the Historical Neglect of Spiritual Formation" It was presented by a professor from Talbot Seminary who did a fabulous job filling in the gaps of my church history.

I won't take the time to re-teach the workshop but I want to say that there is huge benefit to understanding the path of the Church through history; the good, the bad, the distracting. Knowing history can help prevent the repetition of the mistakes of history. Knowing history also helps with perspective for modern day.

Today our churches look to fill the sanctification gap that we feel inside with programs that fill time but not the gap. Many of us decide we will work hard; get busy for Jesus! Get involved with ministry. Maybe this will fill the gap we feel inside. Others of us decide we will perfect ourselves through will power: "I simply won't behave that way, or think those thoughts." Problem there is we are going forth in our own strength and understanding. None of these things are getting us closer with Jesus though. In fact most are simply distractions from simply being with Him.

What is working for you these days? What ways do you find you experience abundance in Christ? Please share!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Fun!

Our cat loves our son, but most of all she likes cozy places. Arwen decided to crawl into the jeans on the floor, up into the pant leg and stay there! We had to take a photo of our crazy cat being cozy at bedtime....

Have a Fun Friday!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Conversations

I am privileged to be attending a conference in San Antonio this week hosted by the Renovare Institute. The title of the conference is The Jesus Way: conversations on how Jesus is the Way. I heard Max Lucado challenge us about fear last evening in his welcoming address. "Fear never accomplished anything" was a point he made. Think about it; fear paralyzes us from action. Fear makes us focus inward not toward others. Fear would be one of the most frequent things Jesus told us NOT to do or be!

I also heard Eugene Peterson speak last evening. His points were to challenge us to recognize that the name of Jesus and the metaphor of the Way are both personal and participatory. We meet Jesus personally and to follow Him as the Way we cannot be bystanders. We must get involved in the life He sets before us; not waiting for a better set of circumstances to come along, but getting into the lives of those who cross our path along the Way.

Won't you join me in being intentional in your relationships, knowing that our great Creator God has a plan in your life and through your life?

Blessings abound!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day to all you men blessed to have influence in your children's lives!

You know the saying "you don't know what you've got til it's gone".

Well, this is the second Father's Day without my dad, and this year more than before I have reflected on his solid influence in my life. My dad taught me to appreciate the details of creation: a sea shell in the mountains of Utah, the wonder of the structure of a leaf, the uniqueness of each sunrise over the desert as we drove up 395 to camp outside Bridgeport.

He was amazingly talented in working with his hands and understood the workings of an automobile engine by sound as well as sight. He could troubleshoot an odd sound in my car over the phone! He taught me to change the spark plugs in my VW as well as the oil and brakes. He didn't want his little girl to be taken advantage of!

My dad was a very introspective man and his thoughtful consideration of people and ideas has influenced my way of looking at things. He was also full of crazy sayings that were unique to his group of friends; men he went to Torrance High with and remained in weekly contact with until he died on March 10, 2008.

I miss my dad. Tell yours you love him and thank him for the things he has taught you so far.....



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Waves

Having grown up near the ocean in Southern California, I am well acquainted with waves. In my youth I body surfed but never mastered riding on a board on the waves. I have a great deal of respect for the power of the ocean's waves; I have a cousin who has been with Jesus many years due to drowning in a surfing accident.


In spite of that loss or maybe because of it, one of my favorite stories in Scripture is of Peter walking on the water. It's not just smooth like glass water. It was a storm with wind and waves; tossing the boat around like a cork. This photo is of a very calm nearly surfless shoreline, not at all what Peter encountered . Of course we marvel at the feat of walking on any water, but I believe part of what we have to learn from Peter's miraculous walk has to do with the conditions of the storm.

Our lives have difficult circumstances. Jesus told us that: "in the world you have tribulation; but take courage, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) We will experience loss of many kinds, difficulties and hardships that can literally overwhelm us. But look at Peter. For the moments he was focused on his Lord he was above his circumstances. Miraculously. In spite of the storm.

Oswald Chambers wrote: " we step right out with recognition of God in some things, then self-consideration enters our lives and down we go. If you are truly recognizing your Lord, you have no business being concerned about how and where He engineers your circumstances. The things surrounding you are real, but when you look at them you are immediately overwhelmed, and even unable to recognize Jesus."

I can so relate to this because of some of the tragic circumstances surrounding the deaths of both of my parents, just 9 months apart. Thankfully in my grieving, I didn't hear a rebuke from Jesus but rather a patient waiting for me to stop looking only at the circumstances and to turn to Him. It has been a sorrowful, painful journey, but one I would not change because of the closeness I have experienced with my Lord.

Chambers went on to say:" Let your actual circumstances be what they may, but keep recognizing Jesus, maintaining complete reliance upon Him."

Dear sisters and brothers, whatever you are in the middle of right now, Jesus sees and is waiting for you to look to Him. The storm didn't change when Peter had his eyes on Christ, but Peter was above the storm. In the same way our take away from this story can be that in the middle of our storm Jesus will enable us through His strength to rise above our circumstances to have His joy as we encounter our various trials.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Make Me!


I want you to say this phrase with different voice inflections: make me. You know the ones: attitude that says go ahead and try to...., or the attitude that says I am not going to do what you want...., or the one that says alright I guess I have to...

What attitude do you think the author had when he said this?

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

~St. Francis of Assisi

Can we join today with this attitude of setting aside our agenda, with wholeheartedly desiring to be the hands and feet of Jesus? How will that look in your day today?

I know for me I will have to set aside my to do list except for the absolutes: love God, love others.
Hmmm....

Monday, June 15, 2009

Something Fun for You to Do!


I have found many new blogs to read and people to follow through both Exemplify Online and A Woman Inspired. One significant contributor in both arenas is Kristen Schiffman, a very personable writer and lover of Jesus. Kristen loves cupcakes and books (her hubby and other fun!). She is hosting a Multi-blog Book Sale this coming Thursday - Saturday, June 18-20.

I am going to offer at least 20 books for sale. There will be other sellers as well that will link up through Kristen's site. All books, whether mine or others, will be God honoring. Paypal will be the online payment source and I already have an account (thanks to ebay purchases over the years!) Tomorrow and Wednesday I will post the photos of the book covers with their sale price and weight so you can figure out shipping costs. Those of you who live nearby will only have to come over to pick them up--coffee at the point of sale?

Let's move these books off my shelves and onto yours for your reading pleasure!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

To Live Is....

How do you finish this phrase: to live is....

To live is fun!
To live is work
To live is boring
To live is joyful
To live is painful
To live is ....

I wonder how you finish it? I have been pondering this phrase for a week and a half since our student ministries pastor challenged the high school students as they approached the last week and a half of school to consider what it means: to live is Christ....

How does that look? What does one do"to live is Christ"? It doesn't say to live as Christ.

Is. This is the conjugation of the verb "to be". Hmm. We are human BEings. Perhaps in this phrase to live is Christ, the act of living, then means "to be" like Christ?

You can't be like Christ you say. He was perfect and sinless and we are not those things. You are absolutely right. Does that mean we are off the hook? That we give up and then are to be like His enemy, living our own lives apart from God because we can't measure up?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Funny the Way it is

I heard a clip of a song on the radio yesterday morning taking my teenage son to school (8th grade with 4.5 days left but who's counting?) It caught my attention when the line ..."a soldier's last breath and a baby's being born" played. With a little research I found some info on it. The title of the song is the title of this post. It's by the Dave Matthews Band. Don't know enough about them to link up here with a clear conscience but this particular song intrigues me.

The song is all about the contrasts that are simultaneously occurring in the world. When we think about the perspective we have on a situation don't we assume everyone else has the same perspective? When we come across someone whose perspective is drastically different than ours we can get very upset. Isn't our perspective right? Thinking about the ideas in this song made me think of the poem Six Men of Indostan. It's a story of six blind men and an elephant. Do you know that one? It's a great illustration of perspective.

Here's my version: 6 blind men were walking and talking together. They came upon an elephant. Each man reached the elephant at a different point because of their position on the road. One of the men found the tail of the elephant, another the trunk, another a tusk, another a leg, another an ear, and the last man the elephant's side. Each man described the elephant from his perspective, asserting that what they could feel is what an elephant is like: a rope, a snake, a spear, a tree, a fan, and a wall.

So my point? How each of us views the world is due in large part to our perspective. Do we look at circumstances through the lens of our own perspective or do we view the world through the lens of God's perspective: GRACE? There are so many things going on in the world right now that are tragic or that we disagree strongly with or that we are ready to argue with people about; asserting that our perspective as the right one.

The only right perspective is God's perspective. He wants NONE to perish but all to come to repentance. If we are looking to Jesus as the author and perfecter of our faith then we will notice He was not angry with those living a life of sin. (Apart from God's Ways) Nope. Jesus was angry with the Religious people who were making it difficult for people to come to God. Now there's a stop you in your tracks thought: am I one of the self-righteous defenders of the Law of God not willing to show Love to those who need it but instead am really ready to judge them for their choices?

So as we go along the Way, let's examine our perspectives. Are we looking at the choices people make and judging them as if We are God? Or are we looking at them with the winsomeness of Christ and showing them grace (undeserved favor) in the middle of choices we disagree with?

Funny the way it is....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Excuses!

I've been considering all the ways I make excuses to not do things I know need to be done.  Do you ever catch yourself going down the excuse path?  I know we are all unique but we also have some similar traits and making excuses is one of them!

I hear myself saying, "I don't really have to do that right now, I can do that later."  Or "I don't feel like getting that done today.  I'll do it tomorrow."  Sounds like classic procrastination to me.

What is the point of procrastination?  I know some of you have studied the human condition far more than I have and can probably tell me all the deep seated psychological reasons one makes a habit of putting things off, but I have a feeling its origins are far deeper than early childhood!

Procrastination or shifting responsibility goes all the way back to Adam and Eve.    Think about them.  Eve: "The serpent told me...." Adam: "the woman You gave me"  Yep. We have a genetic predisposition to make excuses and shift blame.  Whew!  Aren't you glad to know you have an excuse?  Haha!

Truly though, since the Fall, humanity has been pointing fingers, shifting blame and making excuses to not take personal responsibility.  When I look at my procrastination in this light I realize I am living below my calling as a follower of Jesus.  Putting something off that can be done reasonably today doesn't honor God.  "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."  

So what have you made an excuse for today?  I am off to fold laundry and PUT IT AWAY!
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