Wednesday, April 18, 2012

so i'm not superwoman?

I'll admit to being busy.  Too busy.  I'm looking at my life and thinking, "Ok, what to cut?". 

I think I have a hard time answering that question because, if I find myself with free time, I somehow feel guilty.  I automatically think that I could be using that free time to serve someone or to volunteer for something or to be doing something.  So what do I do?  I say yes.  Yes, yes, YES!  All the time.  I am beginning to think that "no" isn't even in my vocabulary.  Then what happens?  I become tired, overworked, and under-fortified with spiritual strength because suddenly all that I said yes to has stolen my time and captured my interest, holding it hostage until I say yes to the next thing.

I'm not silly enough to think that those asking for my time are the culprits here.  Unfortunately, I'm the one to blame :(  I'm the one that allows myself to say yes.  I'm the one who volunteers, raises a hand, feels compelled to help.  It's not a bad trait, to want to help, but it is bad when my attention is no longer first and foremost on the Thing that it should be. 

Once again I'm at a crossroads.  Do I continue on, spiraling out of control into the hectic-ness that is my life?  Or do I opt for change?  Do I ask God where He'd like to prune back my schedule?  I want to choose to accept His decision as the best for me and then, instead of wallowing in my new found free time, use my time more wisely!  To experience true rest in Him.  To breathe easy out of a life that is simplified. 

I guess I'm not superwoman, huh?  Could have fooled me with the way I've been going.

Lord, please give me guidance.  Show me where to cut back, where to be diligent, and where to stick it out.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

a life well lived

I've been thinking about Heaven today.  I just learned this morning that a dear friend and devoted member of our church, Mort, passed away yesterday.  It came as a shock because, though he was ill, one of our pastors had just had lunch with him and everything seemed to be going okay. 

When I think back on my time with Mort, I think of a strong man of faith who loved the Lord well.  Our staff occasionally had lunch with him, and every time we would get together he would make a point to let our server know he was a Christian and if there was anything they needed prayer about, he would love to pray for them.  He was always sincere, never pushy, and you can believe he came across as genuine. 

I remember one time at lunch when we were talking about cruses.  He loved to take them and was telling us all about them.  Somehow, we got on the subject of a friend of his attempting to "set him up" with one of her friends to take a cruse together.  Of course, lost of joking ensued, but he got serious for one moment and, in all apparent honesty said, "I wouldn't get married again, even if she looked like J-Lo!"  Needless to say, we all lost it for a good five minutes.  To hear an 80 something-year-old man admit that Jennifer Lopez is attractive but he still wouldn't marry her was hilarious!

I also think of his faithfulness to our church.  Every Sunday morning, usually 20 to 30 minutes before service, he would come in and sit in the front row and listen to the worship team practice.  He was always there for a friendly smile or a "good morning" when I walked by and I know he loved hearing the music. 

I will miss him.  I will miss his stories about the people had the chance to minster to.  I will miss his ever present form in the front row.  I will miss his grin as we joke with him at lunch.  And I will miss his dedication to the Lord, acting as a guide for us who are younger.  I am thankful I got to know him and thankful for the time the Lord allowed him to be on this earth.  I'm also excited for his reunion with his wife and, most of all, his union with Jesus!

This was Mort's favorite song - nearly every Sunday he would ask if we could sing it, and I post it here in his honor.

Take Me In...

Take me past the outer courts
Into the secret place,
Past the brazen altar,
Lord, I want to see Your  face.
Pass me by the crowds of people,
The priests who sing Your praise;
I hunger and thirst for Your righteousness
And it’s only found in one place.

Take me in to the Holy of Holies,
Take me in by the blood of the Lamb;
Take me in to the Holy of Holies,
Take the coal, cleanse my lips,
Here I am.
Take the coal, cleanse my lips,
Here I am.
 

Dave Browning 1986 Glory Alleluia Music
CCLI #19272

His faith is now sight.  I look forward to seeing you again someday, Mort.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter

As midnight rapidly approaches (as in, 40 minutes away...) I take a moment while my triple layer apple pie bakes to think about Easter.  I took part in a Messianic Passover Dinner last night with some good friends and then we watched The Passion of the Christ.  Talk about heavy stuff.  The dinner was really amazing (I've never celebrated one before) but the reality was a lot deeper than eating 'strange' things and drinking red wine.

The reality of it is... we wouldn't have hope without Easter.  Without Christ.

Actually, I think it's even more than that.  We wouldn't have hope without His resurrection. 

That's the main thing that separates us from any other religion.  Our God is a God who lives.  He not only died for our sins, He brought life back with Him.  I don't think that really hits me very often - or at least not often enough.  The separation that Jesus allowed, the excruciating pain of a tortured, human death is unimaginable...even down to the drops of blood that flowed freely from His body.  It's these things that cleanse us.  That free us.  That give us assurance.

Most people don't understand that.  Why would we celebrate blood?  Why would we be okay with suffering and condemnation from everyone when the easy way is just a few steps over?  But it's not about the easy way. Christ didn't take the easy way.

Tonight, I'm just in awe of my Savior.  I'm in amazement that He went to the cross "like a lamb led to the slaughter" (Isaiah 53:7).  I'm humbled that He chose to make a way for us.  I'm ashamed to think of all the times I've disobeyed, but encouraged to recognize that I have been shown grace.  And I'm hopeful.  Hopeful that He will use me in whatever way He wants, knowing that He is more than worthy of my trust. 

Happy Easter to you all!

My pie made it out just fine :)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

you can't have one without the other

I've been thinking a lot about love.  Real love.  True love.  Not just the fuzzy, pink-haloed 'love' Hollywood portrays where you're falling in love with a man you just met a a grocery store or something, but rather a deeper, more genuine love.  Do we even know that that is?  What that looks like?  What the requirements are for this type of love? 

I think we have lost sight of true love and instead have replaced it with a vision it was never created to be.  Love has now become tolerance.  People will say, "I'm different, you have to love me" but really what they want is acceptance.  Sure, they call it love, but I don't think it's the same thing. 

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek it's own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails...
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Genuine love is so much deeper than what we think we want from others.  Sure, it can feel great to have another person say they love you but if they let you down (which, eventually they will) it cheapens their love.  The only type of love that a person can fully be satisfied with is love from God.  He is the only one who could ever fulfill everything listed in 1 Corinthians. 

So, as I thought about love, I also thought about justice.  I was listening to a Tim Keller sermon the other day and he was explaining about love and justice.  He said (much more eloquently than I) that God shows true love by being both loving and just, that you can't have one with out the other.  If God truly is a loving Father, then he couldn't allow sin to go unpunished because that would be unloving.  The wrong could never be righted.  The injustice would never be avenged. 

It struck me how simple and yet how complex it was.  So many people I've talked to say that God is not loving because He allowed some consequence in someones life or because there is injustice in the world, but that is far from the truth.  That view also overlooks quite a few things.  Who were the first to disobey God?  Adam and Eve.  What did they do?  They ushered in sin and with it consequence into the world.  What did God do?  He forgave them, clothed them, and made a way for them to continue to be forgiven (because He knew they would sin again).  He didn't forsake them. It was their own sin that caused them to face painful consequences.

God shows His love to us in so many ways.  The hardest to understand is that He is loving because He allows consequences.  Even more than that though, He is loving because, despite all of our sin and our rejection of Him, He still chose to save us.  He made a specific way for us.

We were selfish from the start, our pride desiring only what we wanted.
Jesus, in his unselfishness, went to the cross for us.

Our unrighteousness deserved (and still does) death. 
Christ, in His righteousness, covered us by the blood He freely shed on the cross for us, redeeming us from death into true life.

Therefore  we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. 
Romans 6:4-7

Praise God that He made a way for us to be saved!  Through His death we have life.  And life in Him means we have an ability to love because He first loved us (1 John 4:7-21). 

Going back to my first point about love, I am saddened that people have the wrong perspective of what love is.  They compare it to having people accept them just as they are, the good and the bad.  True love is so much more than this!  It's having someone see just who you are (sin and all), die for you, and then promise you the strength to change so you are no longer in the sin that was ensnaring you. 

As Easter approaches, now is the best time to think (or start thinking) about what this means.  "For he who has died is freed from sin" - if we have aligned ourselves with Christ, we have taken part in His sacrifice, died to sin, and are freed from sin.  Freed!  That mean's we don't have to sin and every time we do, we chose to do so.  How amazing to realize that Christ has purchased our freedom out of love.  Now that is true love.