Tuesday, December 30, 2008

End of Story

In this world of high tolerance, we are encouraged to find similarities with everyone. To "COEXIST", as the pretty bumper sticker says. I feel like I should say things like "Deep down all religions to lead to the same place" and other platitudes. But really, deep down, I don't believe that at all. I struggle with how to say the Bible is the final authority on what is right without saying directly that someone else's beliefs are wrong. Even if the Bible says they are. Yes, I just grimaced a little because, of course, my mom comes to mind.

One morning I was trying to find a way in my head to assimilate Christianity and Buddhism. I was thinking that maybe we both had pieces of the same puzzle but just can't see the whole picture yet. Maybe we both can be right. Then the phone rang. It was my husband calling from the car on his drive into work.

"Hey, honey, the car in front of me says John 14:6 on the license plate. What is that one?"


Asked and Answered.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Feel Like Sinning?

I originally posted this in December of 2008, but wanted to share it today.

 I've been thinking about sin, not necessarily about committing any particular sin, but about why I sin. I forget who I am. I forget who God is. I look to others to fill a hole that God is more than capable of filling. "And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:19

The song "Slow Fade" by Casting Crowns has been on the radio often, and each time, a different part of the song stands out to me.If you are not familiar with the song, it is about flirting with sin. You don't go from being Super Christian to embittered outsider in a day. It's a process of forgetting who you are. You can read all the lyrics here, but the line that stands out to me right now is "people never crumble in a day."

With every grudge that I choose to hold instead of forgive, I am fading.

With every unclean thought that I justify instead of taking captive, I am fading.

With every act of pride, I am fading.

With every audience I give to the voice that hisses in the corner of my mind, I am fading.

None of this happens overnight, that is the whole point. Each step away makes the next one easier. It has been a trying year, and I have allowed a root of bitterness to take root. I have let "the sun go down on my anger, making room for the devil." I know what pushes me to the edge in my life. Do you know what it is in your life that leaves the door to your soul open? Do you recognize the signs in your own life that you are slowly fading.

That is where close friends can be a help. Friends who are honest enough to point out your shortcomings but still love you anyway. Friends who try to lead you to a godly solution for a problem are truly a blessing. There are enough resources in the world to back up ungodly solutions, to egg you on in your quest of self-righteousness. "Take care, sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the Living God. But, exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today", so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 3:14.

There was a good devotion at Proverbs 31 today about temptation. You can check it out here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bible Plan, Too

I ordered my copy, and one for my daughter, of the Chronological Bible NLT version. According to Amazon I got the last two in stock, so I hope they get here before February. Anyway, my friend Luanne is also reading the Chronological Bible. I think it would be fun to make a list of everyone reading a Chronological Bible this year and post it on the side of my blog. Leave me a comment if you are reading it, even if you don't have a blog. You can check in by leaving a comment on someone else's blog. We'll be like a little online accountability group. "Hi, my name is so-and-so and I am committing to reading the Bible in it's entirety this year."

Ok, even if you are not reading a chronological Bible in particular, check in with us. It's a task that requires focus and commitment and we can all use all the prayer we can get, right? Let us pray for each other, no matter what style we choose, that God will reveal His Word in a practical, applicable, insightful way to each of us, and that others will be blessed through our efforts. Remember, one candle is all that is needed to break up the darkness.

I don't think I'm supposed to say Good Luck in your efforts, so I'll say Godspeed!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

This is what Christmas morning sounded like at my house. A drum set seemed like a good idea at the time...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Love Chosen

I'm reading a book I read every Christmas called One Incredible Moment by Max Lucado. Let me share what he wrote about us:

The Author makes a promise to these unborn: In my image, I will make you. You will be like me. You will laugh. You will create. You will never die. And you will write. They must, for each life is a book, not to be read, but rather a story to be written. The Author starts each life story, but each life will write his or her own ending. What a dangerous liberty. How much safer it would have been to finish the story for each Adam. To script every option. It would have been simpler. It would have been safer. But it would not have been love. Love is only love if chosen. So the Author decides to give each child a pen. "Write carefully," he whispers.

It makes me think of the Hallmark thought that all teenagers comfort themselves with when someone breaks up with them. If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, keep it and love it forever. When God made me, he set me free to do as I wish. When I choose to come back to the One who created me, He promises to keep me and love me forever.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Etiquette Lesson

Once again, I heard God's words being said in my voice. Probably not with the tone He would have used, but I still got the point. I was on the phone this morning leaving a message for someone when Connor immediately and impatiently needed my attention. When I didn't answer he just yelled louder. After I got off the phone, I said,"It's not that I couldn't hear you. I had something I needed to do first."

Next time I feel like my prayers aren't being answered I will remember this conversation. It's not that He can't hear me. He's got something else that needs to be done first. And just as much as my son needs to learn some manners and some patience, so do I.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Real Gift

My favorite version of Silent Night is the one by Mercy Me with Amy Grant. Imagine my surprise when I discovered there was a cd that I don't own. I almost ordered it online, but decided to wait til after Christmas since I wouldn't get it in time anyway. Tonight, running errands, I decided to stop in at the Garden of Readin' to see if by chance they had it. They didn't. The lady standing next to me joked "Ha, Ha, I have my copy in the car." We laughed and then I left to continue running errands.

About ten minutes later I was at Kohl's and I heard a voice say, "I am totally supposed to give you my cd." Yup. It was the bookstore lady. She said she had been feeling like a real heel for teasing me and that she should have offered me her copy back there since she has it on her Ipod anyway. She went out to her car and came back with Mercy Me's The Christmas Sessions. I couldn't believe it. Her name is Kristin and I may never see her again. But she totally touched my heart with her generosity.

When I look at the big cosmic picture here, I think about the big grin God must have been wearing on His face all evening, knowing how surprised and excited I was going to be. Like when you know you have something special for someone that they don't know about yet. A real gift.

Here is the song. Take a minute to enjoy it. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Light in the Darkness

As I mentioned maybe a month ago, my teenage son has been struggling. I was praying for guidance and to know how God wanted me to handle this somewhat unique situation. He lives with his dad, not with me, so sometimes I feel like the normal parent boundaries don't apply. More and more, I felt led to connect with his stepmom. Invite her to the Christmas luncheon, God told me. Truthfully, and selfishly, $40 is a lot of money at this time of year. But I listened. I invited her and she accepted. I kept praying for God to do a work in her life, and, consequently, in the life of my son.

After I invited her, and she accepted, this was the scripture in our Can We Talk study to pore and paraphrase:

"Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt."

"But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?"

"And He said, "Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain."Exodus 3:10-12

My paraphrase reads like this:
God: Debbie, go to their house so you may bring my people out of bondage.
Me: Who am I to do this? They have a lot going on over there, you know.
God: I will be with you and here is the sign: You will all worship together one day.

Here is what it boils down to:
1. God does not want His people in bondage to anything.
2. He will send a rescue party.
3. Sometimes it will be me, but I won't be alone.

When we came to this day in the study, I was overcome (not too strong a word here) with the implications of this scripture. I know that God gave me a promise personally, that one day we will all worship together.

The Christmas Luncheon was absolutely anointed by God. My friend and I felt the Spirit so strongly upon us. All I could do was hug her and think to myself, God is sooo good. Better than we deserve. A big thank you to all the ladies who made this day possible. You were used by God in a huge way.
After letting this post roll around in my mind for a few hours, I need to clarify something. This is not about me. This is entirely about how good God is. It is only because of His grace that I have been saved. It is only because of His grace that I am in a position to reach out to someone. Five or six years ago this would not have been possible. It is only through the goodness of my Savior that I am truly able to love others. I am so not worthy.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday Motivation

"But first, dress for work." Jeremiah 1:17. This was God's instruction to Jeremiah. It is also His instruction to me. Am I dressed for the work He wants me to do? Am I focused on the task at hand, or am I longing to be somewhere else, somewhere more worthy of my time and talents? Do I remember that He has created me for His purpose, not mine?

I know, that is a lot to think about so early in the morning. Mondays are busy days for me doing the most mundane yet most important of jobs. Babysitting. Changing diapers. Settling fights. Loving the children God, and parents, have placed in my care. Recognizing that I am doing more than physical care, but helping to build future warriors for the Kingdom.

So, I am dressed for it. Warm sweatpants and a snowman sweatshirt. Not clothes for ministering to an adult audience, with carefully applied makeup and almost every hair in place. Dressed for getting on the floor to build stuff, pants I can wipe my hands on, and only enough make-up to look convincingly awake. Can I do it? Absolutely, because He has equipped me for every good work that He sets before me. (2Timothy 3:17)
I just might have time for one more cup of coffee before the doorbell rings...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Cup of Hope

Hope. It sometimes sounds like a weak word. I hope...fill in the blank for what you wish would happen. Hope is actually an action verb. It demands activity. "Hope" means to wait expectantly. With your hands and heart open, ready for action.

"For surely I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

That is a promise from God. He has plans for us to give us hope. Sometimes He uses us to give others hope.

Hope. Tumaini: Swahili for hope. Children beyond number are hoping (there's that word again: waiting expectantly, with hands and hearts open) that help is in their future. My friend Chris has put feet to this hope. Her tea company, Christiani-tea, is donating part of the proceeds to Manna Worldwide, an agency committed to providing Hope. Tumaini. Check it out. Sit back, sip some hot tea, and know that you are making a difference.

Sweetest Day

Yesterday was a mountain top day for a lot of reasons. The Christmas Luncheon was completely orchestrated by God, and I promise to blog about that when the time is right. When I got home my husband was watching GAC, a country music video channel. He called to me, saying, "Come in here. Your song is on." This is the song that was on, "You're Everything", by Brad Paisley. Come on, say it with me, Awww!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

Did you ever get astounded by the obvious, like seeing something for the first time? This happened to me this week at Mom Time. Shelley was talking about the Bible being a mirror for us, with Christ modeling how we should act and treat each other. She said if we look in a real mirror and see food in our teeth, we fix it. We don't shrug and walk away. In the same way, if I am taught that a gentle turns away wrath, why do I keep yelling? If I am taught to fear not because God is with me, why am I still afraid? If I am taught to love unconditionally, why do I keep score?

I should be evaluating myself, and only myself, by the standards God has given us, and not walk away from what I see. Look at the reflection honestly. Definitely food for thought.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mean Kids

Today was a backwards step for Connor. He cried all morning before school that he was going to miss me today, which hasn't happened for a while. The drop-off went relatively ok, but there were tears in the classroom today. To top it off, some girls made fun of him for crying. This is really my first taste of Connor feeling like kids were mean to him. He even said , in his deep man voice, "Don't they know what was written on our wall, about mean words hurting like a knife, but nice words making you feel better?" Ok, so I must admit to being pleased that he is applying the scripture we have on the chalkboard in our living room, Proverbs 12:18.

We did get some good teaching and role playing out of it. We talked about different ways he could comfort someone who was sad. But, being Connor, he said he would have to wear "earmuffins" because he really hates the sound of loud crying kids. He also pointed out that the girls didn't do anything nice for him so why should he be nice to someone else. Connor hit upon one of the big problems in this world. If we are all busy waiting for someone to do the nice thing first, it might not ever happen.

As I'm sitting here feeling bad for the little guy, I'm wishing there were some rules of the road for kindergarteners. Really, though, it's the same rules of the road we use. The Bible. I will remind him of who he really is, a special little boy made by God, my special little boy, and remind him of everyone else who loves him. I will teach him how God wants us to love others, even if they don't love us first, or at all. I know that we are all given our kids, and our circumstances, to purge the unholiness out of us, to make us more Christlike. Watching Connor struggle today will remind me of how to act when the world isn't nice to me. Love them first.