Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It's Never Easy to Do the Right Thing!

  Several months ago I began working a few shifts a week at a local bookstore (same company I worked at before, just a different location).  I'm not in charge of anything, I get to pretty much work all over the store and I'm only there a couple of hours a shift.  It's great!
  Unfortunately, I work with someone whom I am having a really hard time with.  I don't think she is a bad person, I just really struggle with her personality, work ethic and how she tends to come across.  Normally I can pretty much get along with everyone....even people I don't particularly like....but for some reason with her...I can't seem to do it!
  In fact the other day I was quite rude to her over a mess she left for me to deal with.  I knew I was being rude....I knew I should have just kept my mouth shut or tried to say something edifying in the moment of annoyance....but I didn't, because quite frankly I wanted her to feel my wrath!
  How wrong is that?!?!  Here I am....a Christian who is suppose to Love people, not judge them and not treat them as their "sins" deserve...and yet all I want to do (and quite honestly am doing) is make myself out to be better than her and thus cut her down to size!
  I was so convicted of this on Sunday as I listened to the sermon at church, that I decided the next time I saw her I would be the bigger person and apologize.  And yet...on Monday, when I had more than one chance to do so....I just found myself getting more and more annoyed with her and completely unwilling to say anything!
  Why is it so hard to do what's right sometimes?  I'm a sinner just like she is and I screw up and rub people the wrong way all the why can't I just see that and find a way to love her?!  Anyone else ever struggle with this?!?! 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Distracted Prayers....

  I do a lot of praying in my car.  It's one of the few quiet places in my life where I know I will spending a lot of time and where I won't be interrupted.  So... usually I get in my car, leave the radio off or lowly play some worship music and then spend most of my drives centering myself on God.  And it is glorious...just what I need!  This morning however.... my prayer drive was....RIDICULOUS...although it didn't start out that way! 
  I got in my car as usual and has I began to drive, opened up with my normal "Dear God please protect me in this car as we both know how "wonderful" my  driving skills are", and then proceeded to go thru my normal list of thanks, praise, confessions, and requests (although never said in that order or one by fact it's usually a mixed up mumbled mess of words that cascade out of my heart all at once).
  Before I even got to the highway...which mind you is within 5 minutes of my house...I realized I was no longer praying but rather singing Maroon 5's "One More Night" out loud.  How does that happen?!?!  How can I get so distracted from praying that I don't even realize I've moved on to doing something else when I'm suppose to be in the midst of prayer?!!
  Anyway, once I realized that God's not exactly "Stuck on my body like a tattoo", I moved back into praying and tried to really concentrate on what I was saying.  But once again I found myself lost in thought and not in prayer....and basically  using my prayer time to think about my day and where I would fit the few errands I need to do, into the short breaks I have between activities today. Not exactly Godly in that... my life and schedule should fit into His mission for the world and not the other way around! 
   Well, by the time I caught myself this time I was already at my first stop and put my "prayer" on hold until I dropped off my young companion whom I take to preschool.   The original plan was to pray in my head while driving with him (since I usually just pray out loud in my car), but the second  we got into the car we started talking about the storm we had last night and how cool it would be to have the power to control lighting...and well I never got back to that plan.
  I guess I should have picked up my prayers after dropping him off but honestly, once again I was distracted by the thought of how it would look if my interactions with my friends went like this morning prayer time was going!  I thought about how annoyed people would be with me if I started off sharing the story of my day with them, only to stop midway and break out into some top 100 radio hit that's completely unrelated.  Or how self-centered they might feel I am for interrupting their sharing with a list of all the things I need to do in my day that didn't include them!
  You'd think this would drive me immediately back to prayer.  That I would see how frustrating it might be for God never mind another person to have me so distracted  in my time with Him....but it didn't.  In fact I actually had to write all this down before I could push it out of my head enough to really concentrate on my prayers.
   The thing about praying is that some times it becomes so nonchalant for me that I forget I'm coming before a HOLY God.  It's like in trying to maintain my relationship with God, I make prayer so "normal" that I forget what it took for me to have the privilege to speak to God myself and not go through a priest. 
  I don't think prayers are suppose to be "stiff"...I don't think they are suppose to be structured and said in some sort of specific order, or otherwise they are not valid.  In fact I think prayer really is just talking to God. However, I never want to forget the implications of what that means...that I'm talking to GOD...and I never want treat my time with Him like it's of no value. 
   So this morning I repented...and I went back to my car and spent that time with God...thanking Him, Praise him, Confessing and laying my requests at His feet....and basically taking the time to make Him the center of my life.  And...once was just what I needed!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dangerous Prayers...

  In life there are a few prayers you can make that I would consider DANGEROUS.  Now what I mean by DANGEROUS is not that they are bad things to pray...but...rather they are the kind of things that when you pray them, God will answer and the consequences will not always be easy.
  One of those DANGEROUS prayers is the prayer for patience.  The second those words pass through your lips and up to God, it's like you've given Him permission to put you in situations that will test your patience (for it's only in stretching your patience that it will grow).  I made the "mistake" of praying this before....and boy did I learn my lesson.  Before I knew it everything in life seemed to be gnawing on that part of me that hates to wait.  And while I'm certainly not the most patient person in the world now,  my patience certainly grew....through lots and lots of moments of testing! 
  Another one of those DANGEROUS prayers is the "break my heart for the things that break yours" prayer.  Great prayer in theory.  In fact praying that prayer will change your life.  I guess the question is, are you really ready for your life to change.  When I first began praying that prayer I had no idea it would mean creating an uncontrollable ache and longing in my heart for the orphan....or a somewhat idealistic desire to stand up for those who can't speak for themselves...or even a willingness to sacrifice everything I've ever known in order to pursue something greater than myself.  That prayer alone has changed so many of the priorities in my life and flipped my perspective on what truly matters in this world.
   And now, just recently I've discovered another DANGEROUS prayer...the prayer to ask God to show you the depths of your own sin.  I don't know what possessed me to begin praying this.  I guess it started before Easter when I found myself face to face with the cross, knowing in my head what Christ did for me on it, but longing in the depths of my heart to understand it more fully.
  It seems every day since I began praying this, I've been confronted with my own self-centeredness or selfishness or need for approval.  I can't even make it through a quarter of my day before I realize I've fallen into a puddle of sin and spent, at the very minimum the last five minutes, wading in it.  It's not that every moment of the day I'm doing something fact I think a lot of my sin comes more from wrong motives than wrong actions....but it's the fact that I'm recognizing it more and more...and realizing every day, a little more fully, just how much of a wretch I am.
  Now like I said....just cause these are DANGEROUS prayers, doesn't make them bad prayers.  I think it's through prayers like this that God is given permission to transform us more and more into His image.  I certainly have a long way to go in this....and there's certainly a part of me that bucks against the "pain" of these types of changes.  But ultimately, my biggest prayer and probably the most DANGEROUS one I could ever pray... is for God to make me "just like Him", and with that comes the willingness to risk praying the DANGEROUS. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Want to WANT...

 I've been in this religious funk for a while now....okay so in my world...where  days stretch on like weeks and weeks can feel like months or even years..."a while" is probably just a week or two, but none the less I've been living in this....FUNK....for a while, and I hate it!
  For years now I've been saying that I don't WANT my relationship with God to be a list of "do's" and "don'ts".  I don't WANT to serve Him out of obligation, or make my ministry a "have to" and  I don't WANT to read my bible, go to church, pray or do any of those other "religious" things out of duty. 
  All those things....all the "stuff" that comes from serving God... are things I WANT to do because I WANT to do it.  I WANT my heart to WANT to WANT to do them.  I WANT to be so in love with God that these things are my automatic desire.  But I'm just not there...all the time...yet.
  The Bible says something like, no man can come to the Father unless God draws him.  And I know in my own life, if it weren't for God seeking me when I was doing everything in my power to hide from Him, I wouldn't be a Christian today.
  So is it possible that the "WANT" to WANT read your Bible, to pray, to worship, to serve God....has to come from God himself?  Can we really genuinely muster up within ourselves that WANT, or is it in fact something that God has to do in our hearts?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Hard Part of Old and New..

  My birthday was a week or so ago and for a present my parents got me a new laptop.  It's so nice and has all these great features (like a web cam and Microsoft 2013) that will come in handy in the future, but I have to admit the gift was a little bitter sweet. 
   You see my old laptop was basically falling apart....the screen was held together with medical tape and was connected to the keyboard with only  one screw...oh and it had to stay plugged in at all times when it was on because the battery had died.  But it was also my prized procession.  It was the first major purchase I ever made on my my brother in law helped pick it out for me (and by helped I mean did all the work and left just paying for me), so it's one of the few connections I still had with him. 
 And now, with getting ready to lay that old laptop to rest, it feels like I've come to the end of an era. I know that sounds totally over-dramatic and a bit cheesy...and it is, I'll admit it....but it's true....I'm going to miss that old laptop!
  The funny thing is, I am like this with a lot of things in life.  I hold onto everything until it's absolutely falling apart and can't possibly go on much longer.  My car's been on it's last leg for years, but I keep driving it.  My socks almost all have wholes in them somewhere, but I keep on wearing them. Some of my favorite board games are missing vital pieces, but instead of throwing them away I keep them just in case I find what's missing and can play it again.  Maybe it's separation anxiety...or maybe I'm just a hoarder...but I really hate getting rid of stuff, even if it's just to make room for the new.
  Am I the only one like this?  Do I need to check myself into a 12 step program and teach myself the importance of letting things go?  Or is this all just pretty normal for all of us in the world?