Monday, February 27, 2012

A Call To All

Friends, those of you who know me in person or through my blog know I tend to get a little hepped up about Jesus. Truly, there is nothing the world can provide that will change your life like the power of the LIVING GOD. Nothing compares...He is Healer of the Broken...He gives sight to the blind...He raises the dead to life. I know, because He did it for me. Because I know, firsthand, the HOPE that HE IS, I want to tell the world.

The problem is that people don't always want to hear it, and I can't control that. What I can do, though, is live my life in a way that matters for eternity. I am blessed to have like-minded friends, and one of them wrote a letter that the world needs to read. Even if you don't live in my community, take this message to your own town. Live out loud for something bigger than yourself. You were created for it.

Here is my friend Karin's Letter. I hope it blesses, challenges, and encourages you.

"The year ahead holds both great promise as well as enormous challenge as our community stands at a crossroads; it could easily go in a number of directions. The very real possibility of a night time strip club coming to Waukesha in the guise of a day time “Spin Club” is in the works. Waukesha currently does not have a zoning code in place that would prevent such establishments from springing up. Please pray for several pressing issues concerning the City of Waukesha and Waukesha County. For unity among our churches, regardless of denomination to love one another, and for the members/attenders to effectively collaborate to minister to our children, families and community.
In the midst of all that, however, we see the glowing promise of what this city could become. The hugely successful “Friday Night Live” music venues have now become a staple in Waukesha County, growing our downtown businesses and bringing more families to our nationally award-winning library and parks. Our new “Gibson Guitar Town” is already drawing the attention of music-lovers around the region, some very vocal naysayers notwithstanding. A new state of the art Convention Center holds the potential to host internationally acclaimed speakers and artists, as well as conventions. Waukesha’s own Stuart and Jill Briscoe and their “Telling the Truth” ministry would be a huge draw right in the heart of our city. Talk of a new local K-Love Radio station in downtown Waukesha also affords great opportunity. Please pray for these.
I am witnessing the most wonderful things going on in our youth right now to the most horrifying of which I will only say have brought me to my knees. They need to know they are loved, that their lives matter and that there is hope. Our Waukesha County congregations have an opportunity to adopt local public schools through the new " Oneness School Initiative" ( to reach out and mentor our youth. Milwaukee Public Schools is starting this program in the fall; I pray we will have a more proactive approach in Waukesha.
In recent weeks, my heart has been deeply burdened with the strong sense that God is calling His people to come together in prayer in a way we have not yet experienced. This is our home. John 3:19-21 inspired me today to not let another day go by without asking, " What will you do? "
I will leave you with a few words sent to me by a friend. “Imagine a ragtag collection of surrendered and transformed people who love God and others. They are mesmerized by the idea that this is not about them, but all about Jesus.  They are transfixed by His story and His heart for their city.  They are seed-throwers and fire-starters, hope-peddlers and grace-givers, risk-takers and dreamers, young and old. They link arms with anyone who tells the story of Jesus.  They empower the poor, strengthen the weak, embrace the outcast, seek the lost. They serve together, pray together, worship together, live life together.  Their city will change because God sent them. They are us.”
So, anyone want to get together and see what we can do to change the face of our city? I have a few ideas...

The Finished Product

My son and I stared through the window in the oven door, waiting for the timer to go off. Finally, at the sound of the buzz, I opened the door and withdrew a piping hot, golden brown loaf of bread. Of course we didn't wait for it to cool, instead letting the butter melt all over as we sampled our creation.

"Mom, it's like we made bread," he said wide-eyed. "I didn't know people could do that."

I think he just assumed it falls from the sky in the red store wrapper and lands on the shelf, waiting for someone to buy it.

The following week, it was my husband's turn to stand wide-eyed in the kitchen, but it had nothing to do with my cooking. We are in the process of getting our kitchen remodeled; the contractor took out a wall, rebuilt part of it, patched up the holes left behind along with rewiring some electrical pathways, and is in the home stretch, watching drywall mud dry.  We are getting to the fun part now, adding a breakfast bar and choosing paint colors.

My husband looked around and said,"It's like he's building a room."

Again, because in our minds houses just fall out of the sky and land on their foundations.

In our society, we are used to seeing a finished product quickly, almost like instant gratification. We miss the process behind the product.

Young adults want the perks that come with maturity and financial stability, without going through the process, and wind up frustrated at best, and in a financial mess at worst.

We want our bodies to look a certain way, but are unwilling to commit to the process of working them out. Maybe that's just me...

I see a book cover with someone's name on it and wish it was mine, but right now I am not willing to commit the time to the project. I just want to skip to the finish line.

In the few projects I have done and completed, I can see the process as a gift. When I did get in shape once and complete a triathlon, the training I went through built strength, character, and endurance. I was definitely better for it.

I've taken cast-off furniture, stripped it down to bare wood, and done some different painting techniques. Each step taught me something different about the piece...what kind of wood it was, what else had been done to it in the past, and ultimately shaped the way I finished it myself.

I think we would do well not to not turn our noses up at the process that goes into a finished product. Do not become frustrated because you aren't there yet. Sometimes in life, the best part of reaching your destination is the journey it took to get you there.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Are You "Holy Available?"

"We will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony." Revelation 12:11

What kind of life do you want to live? Seems like a silly question, because most of us don't feel like we have a choice. I'm not asking do you want to be an astronaut when you grow up, or what you want your material situation to be like, but seriously, what kind of life do you want to live?

The choice is yours.

Do you want to be a spectator or a player? Do you prefer to complain about your circumstances, or challenge them? Are you doing the best you can not to make waves, but stay status quo? Are you just trying to get to the end of your life without too much disruption?

Is that really enough? Not for me.

By the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony, I will overcome.

I choose today not to live by my own strength, but to tap into the power of the Living, Ascended Christ that is His blood and the word of my testimony, doors will open and hearts will change.

We have been set in a world that is desperately in need of hope. Everywhere we look, there is an opportunity to point people to the One who saves, empowers, and conquers, if only we will share what we know. Where are you today? Chances are there is someone who needs hope. Will you share the word of your testimony and the blood of the Lamb, introduce them to the King? Tell them what Jesus has done for you.

I took Holy Available by Gary Thomas off my bookshelf last night. In his intro chapter, he writes,
"Your body will be a living, breathing center of purposeful passion, pointing toward the risen and reigning Christ, who works so powerfully within us. You will become 'holy available' to Him."

That is what I'm talking about. Holy Available to a purpose so much greater than me alone. How about you? What kind of life do you want to live?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Recognizing Glory

"Lord let Your glory fall today." Matt Redman
"Show me Your glory." Third Day
"And the glory of the Lord shone around them." Luke by way of Lynus from Charlie Brown.

We sing songs and praises to God, crying out to see His glory, but do we really know what we are asking for? Glory is derived from the Latin for fame or renown, and means the manifestation of God in the Christian tradition. We ask God to reveal His glory to us, but never imagine what that might look like.

I have a friend who prayed not to be lukewarm in her faith. She wanted to be on fire for God, and prayed that He would shower her with His glory. A few months later, her son was diagnosed with leukemia. She had to depend on God like never before, and the result was that she was on fire for God, as she had prayed. God revealed His glory to her in a way that got her attention, but not necessarily in the way she had planned on.

Another friend has been praying for her husband to be the leader in their house. Recently a decision came up involving a cross-country move for a new job, and she had a choice to make. Badger him into not taking the job because she is happy here, or pray for him as the head of their household, for God to give Him wisdom as he made the decision. She chose to pray for Him, and he has decided to take the job. While she got what she prayed for, a husband ready to seek God for wisdom, this was definitely not the way she thought it would look.

I pray to see God's glory in my life, to be used by Him as He sees fit. If you have been following the saga of getting my son into the same school as his brother, you know that God has been answering my prayer to be used by Him, but this isn't what I asked for. I wanted a tidy warm feeling, a flooding of my spirit by His, a peaceful acknowledgement that He knows me. He knows me alright, and has orchestrated events that blow me away.  People I shouldn't have met in a place I'm not supposed to be touching lives I never meant to intersect with...amazing and glory filled. And I get to be a part of it.

I can't help but wonder if we realize what we are asking for when we invite God's glory into our lives, and if we always recognize it when He shows up. Don't stop praying for it, because it is through His glory poured into our lives that we grow in Him. He will challenge you, stretch your limitations, and push you to the edge.

And it is in that place that you will see His glory.

Friday, February 3, 2012

When Life Hurts

"OK, honey. I'm leaving. I'll be back in a bit."

The words hung in the air as he continued to look at his paper. Thinking he may not have heard, she repeated her words.

"Fine. I heard you the first time," came the biting reply.

Tears stinging her eyes, she wonders why he has to be like that. Would it be so hard to just say good-bye like a normal person?

In another home, a similar drama plays out, but this one cuts deeper. She reaches for him, needing affection that only a husband should provide, and he pulls away, claiming to have too much on his mind. She wonders what is wrong with her, trying to be understanding even though rejection cuts deep. Over their ten year marriage, this scene has played itself out too many times to count.

Hurt feelings. We all get them. How we react is up to us. I went through a little phase recently where I was constantly having my feelings hurt. Hormonal tailspin or justified reaction really doesn't matter. Here are a few questions I've learned to ask myself:
  • Is pride at the root of my hurt? Do I feel like I deserve better? This is a hard question to ask, because sometimes the other person is clearly in the wrong, but that doesn't give us the right to stew. Dwelling on the injustice leads to bitterness and gives the devil a foothold in our thoughts. Don't make it easy for him.
  • What does God want me to learn from this situation? In the case of feeling rejected by someone, even when they are sinning against you, God is allowing that. What does He want you to gain, because He only brings you what is best for you. He promises to work all things together for good, remember (Romans 8:28)? His purpose for us is to glorify Him, and His plan for us is that we grow to become more Christlike. Are you letting your situation lead you in that direction?
  • How can I offer grace to someone? I am not perfect (insert surprised look here) and need to remember that as God gives grace to me, I can offer it. That doesn't mean in a co-dependent, make excuses and coddle someone way, but to continue to love them through their snarkiness. Speak the truth in love, and call them out on their behavior if you feel lead, but not in a judmental self-serving way. Our first concern needs to be seeing someone right with God for their good and His glory, not just to make our lives better.
  • What role have I played? Nothing exists in a vacuum, and each day often carries the weight of all the days that preceded it. Are there on-going dramas that need to be resolved? I know I tend to put this little self-protective martyr bubble around me, and I need to really examine myself and my behavior that lead up to a situation. Often I find that my own thoughtless comments or disrespect have thrown fuel on a fire that I didn't know was burning. Like Jesus says, don't look for the mite in another's eye with a plank sticking out of our own.
Hurt feelings stink. No one likes to feel slighted, ignored, or outright rejected. Through those experiences, though, I have grown closer to God. He alone is my refuge. He will give me the strength I need to endure any situation gracefully. He is sufficient to meet all my needs. No matter what the day brings, these truths never change; I can depend on God to be my firm foundation.

I am praying that you feel the arms of God wrapping around you, providing peace and comfort, and that you hear the whisper that He has for you when life hurts.