Wednesday, July 29, 2009

All



Come to Me, all...

Who is included in this All?

Have you ever thought about this statement?


If all means all then I am in there and so are you. And so are these children in Sri Lanka. And the people in Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America...you get the point.

All.

Not fixed up, cleaned up or saved and sanctified.

Does this challenge you?

Come to Me, all....

Monday, July 27, 2009

Unforced yet Intentional

Somehow today is the right day to tell you a little more about me, so you understand where I am coming from when I present these big ideas like Unforced Rhythms of Grace! So please bear with me on a brief walk through memory lane..... I promise I will get to the blog post title eventually!

I don't know about you, but I was raised with quite a hodge podge of faith traditions. My grandparents on my dad's side were old school Methodists; deacon, adult Sunday school teachers, major donors to the church (found out at their passings). My grandparents on my mom's side were Southern Baptist--grampa not liking to go regularly, gramma wanting to be there when the doors were open. My parents, in my early years (up to jr. high school age) were good at getting us to the Methodist church 3 out of 4 Sundays.

It seems like about once a month I spent the night with my mom's parents and would go to church with them. I heard there the emphasis on "hell fire and damnation" which definitely put the FEAR of God in me as a youngster! The message I heard at the Methodist Church was the emphasis on service to those in need: soup kitchen, donations, making things to send to missionaries. If you are reading for what's missing in my upbringing it was GRACE.

Fast forward past the wandering years of my youth and young adult years (which thankfully the Lord has forgiven and forgotten and I want to forget!) to a woman who came to faith in Christ at 23; hungering for grace and to know Him fully. I did what I hope every new believer does: bought a study Bible, got into Bible study and involved in a church. Grew like crazy!

Zoom to the present, 29 years of life later, covering many change points full of joys and losses as life on this earth holds. Still wanting to fully know the Lord. Still wanting to fully get grace. Have been learning a lot along the Way, which is why I started this blog last April. So this is my very abbreviated testimony to let you know a bit about me why I want to explore with you what Jesus has been doing in our lives, and to discover what is really important to Him. Here it is:

Relationship. Unforced yet Intentional Relationship. With Him first and with others.

He was asked what the greatest commandment was. He said, "love God, love others." Relationship.

He told us how to deal with being overwhelmed: "Come to Me..."

Jesus didn't demand that we relate to Him. He invites us to relate to Him. But how do we, in 24/7 flesh and bones bodies, relate to an unseen Being?

Uniquely. He knows you perfectly. You have individual ways you respond to the world around you. You may be someone who loves to read. Or you may be someone who loves to garden. Or someone who loves to run. Or you may be surrounded by young children daily. My point is, Jesus wants us to come to Him in the middle of what we do during our daily life. He wants to be involved in our comings and goings, in our folding the laundry or washing dishes. In bathing the children and putting them to bed. Whatever fills our days, the Lord wants to relate with us there. He will not force us to talk with Him (that's prayer) but in order for us to experience fully His presence with us we have to be intentional in acknowledging His presence, inviting Him to be with us in what we are doing.

Come to Me....

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Unforced Rhythms of Grace

Yesterday I asked the question, "How do we develop our inner and outer life so that the two can become one?" It won't happen over night that is certain. Habits of mind, habits of action need to be changed to reflect an intentional awareness that we move in and toward.

My life is too busy. Full of doing. They are good things mind you, but full of busy-ness. What am I aware of? Weariness. Longing. Wanting to step out of the fast pace and into a slower rhythm. What is wrong? The margins in my day are too narrow. I need more margin and a slower rhythm.

"Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me--watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (Jesus: as paraphrased by Eugene Peterson in The Message)

I literally breathed more slowly when I finished reading this passage from Matthew 11 this morning. I want to learn the unforced rhythms of grace, don't you? Next week I want to explore what Jesus has in mind for us; how do we walk along the Way with him in this culture? in this nano-second measuring era? in the busy-ness of everyday life?

Join me?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Hurried, Unexamined Life

I haven't posted in a little over a week. Life is full more than usual right now; international company, new job outside the home, college son home for a few weeks, etc. No excuses, just my reality.

Through all of this busy-ness I have been pondering what life is going on under the fast current of my outward life. Have you ever thought about the difference between your below the surface existence and your outer evident existence? Can the two become one?

If we are too busy for Jesus we run the risk of developing a hurried, unexamined life. A life that lives from task to task, moment to moment and without depth. "An inch deep and a mile wide" is a phrase I heard again recently. With this kind of life, what do we have to offer those around us? No time, no peace, no grace.

It is apparent to me that it's crucial to make time for the development of the inner life; a life below the press of the everyday. How do we go about developing this inner life? What habits can we add? What habits do we need to change?

Short post, but a glimpse into my inner world....

How about yours? I'd really love to hear.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Everyday

So today is Tuesday. A regular day with meals, laundry, a little decluttering, and a job outside our home. Oh and a class to take for new skills. And a sick teen still running a fever. And a visitor from another country coming into town on the train tonight. Full for sure. The question percolating in my brain: how to walk in grace throughout my day?

My heart's desire is to glorify God in all I do. The reality of my life is steps and missteps. A pastor whose teaching I sat under for many years said "we don't live this life perfectly. But what are you characterized by?" That question stuck with me. Truly our evaluation of our day will be flawed; we don't see ourselves as accurately as an outside perspective and not as thoroughly as God sees us. So how do we move toward the goal: "whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God".

We learn to breathe.

Now I know that probably sounds a little ridiculous but bear with me. Let's follow this train of logic. If we are filled with the Spirit of God (which a believer in the atonement of Christ is) then we are empowered to live a life which is pleasing to God. If He has given us all that we need then we are equipped to live a life which is pleasing to God. So since we have both strength and tools our job is to apply them. That's where learning to breathe comes in.

I am not talking about our normal oxygen intake here; I am talking about learning to breathe prayer. For years I have legalistically struggled to apply Paul's writing in Thessalonians and continually come up short. Which then has given the enemy of my soul a place to lie to me about my faith. I hope you are not there, but if you are, take heart! Their is grace for us not condemnation!

Learning to breathe. Inhale slowly focusing on the presence of God; exhale slowly saying or thinking a phrase like "in Your strength" or "by Your grace". I first heard about this type of prayer from Jan Johnson a few years ago. Ancient tradition calls this centering prayer. The point is for us to refocus on God and not on our circumstances; for us to be like Peter when he first got out of the boat--looking at Jesus and not at the waves.

This day will be full; my to do list and God's divine appointments (interruptions!). I will only get through it by His grace and in His power. Breathe in, breathe out....

Let me know how your breathing is coming!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pray for Kate

I don't normally post on the weekends but this story needs attention. Please pray for Kate. Her story and situation are found here.

Join the chorus of believers lifting Kate to the throne of Grace, begging God for a miracle in her young life.

I don't know these people but found out about her need here.

Thank the Lord for how He is using the internet to connect His children for such a time as this.....

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Fun!


Happy Friday!

Here's where I will be today and some of this weekend. It is my favorite way to connect with the Lord; out in His creation.

Hope you make a time and place to be alone with God along the Way!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday Fun!

As we Americans get ready to celebrate the 233rd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain, I thought I'd give us a couple of things to ponder.

Have we so embraced the concept of independence as a right that we cannot see ourselves as subject to anyone? Of course I am thinking of our submitting our wills to the will of God in our lives. How can I be both independent physically and dependent spiritually? When there are two apparently opposing issues like these our pastor calls it "living with the tension".


So as you barbeque, picnic or however you celebrate, ponder how best
to celebrate your dependence on a good God who lavishly loves us and
desires our allegiance.

Have a fun Fourth! Have some pie and ice cream for me!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Conditions

Ever find yourself thinking "if I do this then I will reward myself with ...." The "this" might be cleaning or exercise or another load of laundry. Or it might be calling a list of people for volunteers at school or church. Or getting in touch with a not so favorite person. Do you put conditions on your behavior? I know I often do. I'd like to think it motivates me but I am not so sure sometimes.

I have found that my conditions can be really limiting as well. "I must do this before I do can..." doesn't sound bad necessarily but if my conditions keep me from responding to the still small voice whispering to me to call someone in need or bake that casserole for that family, my conditions have gotten in the way of my walk along the Way.

A quote from Oswald Chambers struck me today:
"But Jesus was always consistent in His relationship to God and a Christian must be consistent in his relationship to the life of the Son of God in him, not consistent to strict, unyielding doctrines. People pour themselves into their own doctrines and God has to blast them out of their preconceived ideas before they can become devoted to Jesus Christ."

Have you considered where you are putting conditions on your life with God instead of simply being with God through your day as you walk along the Way? I would love to hear what you are working through....
There was an error in this gadget