Thursday, May 23, 2013

Humbleness 101....

  The other night at my community group we were discussing worrying and the question was posed, "What are the worries that keep you up at night".   For most people it's money....and for some others it's lack of control....for me it's probably a little bit of both those things but also another....which I discovered last night.
  As some of you know I am planning on joining Operation Mobilization as a missionary to Ecuador sometime in the coming months.  Last night I received an email from them which involved me having to do a few more things before being sent to the field, after already being given the green light to prepare, and it basically felt a little like a step backwards for me.
  I sat in bed trying to fall asleep and just kept thinking it all over and over and over again and realized while I was not concerned about how things would work out or even about any of the extra work I had to do, I was very concerned about what others would think about me having to push back my leaving date.  I was worrying over whether people would understand, if people would still support me if I ended up having to leave later and if people would think bad of me for saying one thing and having another happen.
  I was up for hours stressing about how I could changed things and if I could make people understand without thinking bad of me.  And then in the midst of all my worry, it was like God asked me...."If you're really doing this for the glory of my name, then why are you so concerned about your own reputation"!!!  OUCH...
   I can't even begin to explain how dirty and sinful and wretched I felt in that moment when I discovered that here I was taking something so "of God" and making it all about me!  It's like 200x worse than that moment when you discover your fly is down after talking in front of a whole crowd, or finding a piece of food in your front tooth after talking to a really cute guy!  It's just mortifying!
  I felt undone standing before a Holy God, understanding in that one moment that I am more sinful then I could ever understand...and how I use the things of God for my own Glory instead of allowing God to use me for His!  And in that one moment I understood what Isaiah must have felt like when he said, "Woe is me.  I am undone"!
   I woke up this morning completely humbled....confident in God, but humbled that in spite of the fact that I seem to be more concerned about people thinking well of me than in trusting in God's plan, that He has still called me, chosen me and will use me!
  Thank you God that you don't treat me as my sins deserve and that you are not surprised by my failings!  Thank you that you see my willingness to serve you and never give up on me!  Thank you that every day you are showing me how much more I need you and for taking the time to conform me more and more into your image!  Continue your work Lord until all I am is truly yours.  Amen!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Meaning in the Midst of Meaninglessness....

  I am working my way through a bible reading plan that currently has me reading know, the book where "everything is meaningless".  I think if I was reading this book at any other point in my life I would walk away from it feeling completely what is the point of anything if God's only plan for man is a life of toil and then death.  But right this moment...I'm almost finding a sense of, really isn't about me and really is about God.
  I've mentioned before how I keep having these moments wherein all the clutter of the world seems to clear out of the way in my mind and for a brief second I get life!  For example, in those moments, I get that I was created to bring God glory and everything I do in this world should point to that.  Of course moments later that clarity gets swept away by my own self-righteousness or self-centeredness or even a need to be accepted.
  None-the-less I think King Solomon had it meaningless would it be to spend your whole life working for yourself and your own comfort and your own gain...only to die and have none of it mean a single thing!
  I don't know about you but I don't want to waste my life...I don't want to cling to the temporary or chase after that which I can't take with me to heaven.  And so I sit here tonight...praying, asking, pleading with God to open my eyes more fully to the reality of what He's doing in this world and what it looks like to live for Him in it.....and seeking for the strength to walk it out (Amen)!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Speaking of What Really Matters...

  Several years ago I heard this analogy on a podcast of a sermon by Tim Chaddick out of Reality LA.  He said that knowing God is like having the cure for cancer and more times than not instead of sharing that cure with the friends around us that are dying from the disease, we just place a bottle of the antidote on the table and hope they see it and ask us about it.
  I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and about how often times I only share my faith when people ask me about it.  I see my friends struggling and suffering and longing for hope...and I sit there offering my limited comfort instead of being forth right enough to tell them about the Savior. 
  I think this quite possibly makes me a bad friend.  I mean if I truly believe that Jesus is The way, The Truth and The life....and I truly Love my friends as much as I say I do....then wouldn't I want to share this truth with them?!?!  Wouldn't I want them to have the Love, Hope, Joy, Strength, etc that I've found in him?!?! 
  While this has been on my mind for a while now, I guess I started thinking  about it a lot more after church this past Sunday.  You see, my pastor had shared in his sermon a quote by CS Lewis that says... "just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: “Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?” The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about"...and while his point had to do with prayer, I couldn't help but think, why is it so easy to share my praise of so many other things in life with my friends, but yet I struggle to do so with things of faith if I know the other person doesn't believe?!
  Obviously the answer is cause I'm self-centered and approval seeking....and I care more about what my friends think about me then I do about them and their heart!  So I sit there celebrating with the cured that we have been cleansed from cancer....all the while allowing those in my life who need the cure the most to continue deteriorating with out saying a word.
  What really makes me a better friend....not trying to step on anyone's toes by mentioning God and thus living a life of "don't ask, don't tell"....or letting my relationship with God freely flow through my lips so that the people I care about most will know there is a God out there who sees, them and loves them and wants nothing more than for them to come to Him and find true freedom?!?!
   I think the answer is obvious!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Getting Real with Myself...

  I use to think that I was the type of person who expected more out of myself than out of others.  I have said things like....I'm just really hard on myself... and.... I just expect better of myself....and basically acted as if the standard by which I choose to live is so righteous that I am as close to perfect as a sinner can get and everyone else should just bow to my greatness ( I'm not that full-of-myself, but you get the point)!
  Lately though...I've been noticing the cracks in my own theory.  In the past week alone I've gotten angry, frustrate and annoyed at people in my life for doing the same things I have done myself and yet I've excused my behavior without offering that same excuse to others!  HYPOCRITE!
  I am the type of person who expects immediate forgiveness when I hurt people....and then drags my feet in forgiving people in return!  I am the type of person who talks out the issues I have with one person to everyone but that person... and then gets mad when that person doesn't approach just me when there are issues!  I am the type of person who gets frustrated when it feels like nobody is really listening to me...and yet when people ask for my listening ear, I am often so distracted I miss their main point!
  I act like everything is fine when it's not.  I throw people under the bus to protect myself.  I lie when I should be truthful.  I put my own interest above others.  I seek my own comfort first.  I think I'm right even when I know I am not.
  Basically...I am learning more and more... that I am a SINNER....just like everyone else!  THANK GOD for a savior!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

To Live in the Light...

  I use to struggle with sharing my sin.  Not that I enjoy it now....but...I guess I am starting to understand it better now.  I seem to be realizing more and more how bringing things into the light takes the power away from any situation or sin.  And I think in turn I'm growing up and maturing just a little bit more.
  I guess my biggest fears in sharing my sin have always been that people will judge me or call me out on both cases my reputation is the thing that is tarnished.  But lately I have been having these brief moments of clarity....these fleeting times where in the midst I am able to see life and myself clearly...and in that I find power to be who God says I am.
  I know that sounds funny (and maybe a bit confusing)....but the truth is...when I really think about it, I see the freedom in being a slave to Christ.  I use to see my religion as a list of do's and don'ts and I would find myself so frustrated at the end of the day because of how imperfect and far away from that goal I got on my own.  But lately I've been sensing this reality that it's okay to fail and not get it all right in my own fact maybe that's even the point...because it's only when I realize how much I sin and fall short, that I really take the time to seek God and call out to Him.
  My sin points out my need for a savior.  I see it in my interactions with people I can't seem to get a long with, even though I am called to love them.  I see it in the moments I care more about my own acceptance than the heart of my friends when I tell them what I know they want to hear instead of the truth.  And I see it when I get angry and frustrated because I didn't get my way or what I was expecting.
  When I admit these things about myself and speak of them's not that I am sucumming to them...I'm not giving up and saying oh well this is who I am.  Instead I think in sharing my struggles I'm allowing people to hold me to a standard of improvement and I am admitting that in order to change I need the grace of God.
  It's safer to say I'll make it on my own...I don't need anyone or anything....but I think it's in community and among friends that God can really open up our hearts and do the deep inner work in us.  When we stop hiding in the shadows and pretending like there is no problem, God can take his examining light and shine it in such a way that he can do the most intricate work in our lives.  And that...I think...are the exact moments he uses to make us more and more like Him.