Thursday, November 15, 2012

The LIfe Model

I'm reading a book called, "The Essentials of Christian Living from The Life Model: Living from the heart Jesus Gave you." It's written by a whole list of people who are connected to a Ministry called, "Shepherd's House." I'm not sure I can yet explain much about the book, but one sentence caught my eye, " And while you are on that pathway (the pathway to maturity), try to avoid isolation.  You cannot overcome life's obstacles alone.  As your maturity progresses, you will be able to help others discover how to live from their hearts, too.  That is a fulfilling experience.  You can be incredibly proud of those you have helped in making progress with maturity, and that will give you increased confidence that your own journey is on its proper course.  You will find that others are growing as your are growing." (italics mine)

Sometimes life can be isolating.  I have health issues. I am reactive to perfume, cleaning products, paint, and traffic. I have bounced from one state to another for the last three years. My children are grown and gone (it's funny how much my children have defined who I connected with) Isolation is almost a given for me. How do you remain connected in the midst of such circumstances?  As I ponder that my mind wanders to others more isolated than I am. (oops -- had to stop here and call my 85 year old friend and see if she is feeling isolated today) Sometimes isolation is not a choice.  It is the season that you are in.  But on the flip side I believe it is also some kind of silent enemy that needs to be fought and conquered. Sometimes we need to fight against our isolation, sometimes we need to fight against the isolation of others.

I'm thinking that isolation is a sign of the times too.  In all my recent travels I have noticed that people now spend much more time on their ipods, computers and tablets and much less time talking to the guy sitting next to them.  It's awkward to strike up a conversation with a stranger and much easier to simply tune them out. 

Isolation doesn't always mean you are alone.  You can be in a crowd and be just as isolated.  The trick is to engage, to be relational, to make significant moments out of every moment. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Matthew 24:21-25 "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. "Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand."

How do we lose ourselves?  I am wondering, if we have a personal relationship with Jesus, how could we be deceived?  Ah, but then it says, "If possible"  Yeah, but it does say, "Unless the days were shortened, no flesh would be saved." hmmm.  Does that mean that we would all kill ourselves or be killed?  Or does that mean that we would all walk away from God? Which is more frightening?

I heard many explanations about this passage, "It's happening now", "It happened during Roman rule", "It was just a metaphor", "It is something that is in the future yet".  Ok, I'll buy that, perhaps all these explanations have truth in them.  The thing is, it lets me know that I can get lost.  I can be deceived. I'm not talking about salvation here. That's a discussion for another day.  I want to talk about the level of pain that would set us up to grasp for an unfamiliar christ.  Jesus says, "and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:3b-5.  What would it take for a sheep to follow a stranger?  

I'm thinking of a chicken I had once (ok, so you relate to sheep, I relate to chickens!) I bought this chicken at a wild game bird swap meet.  She cost me a quarter because her owners just wanted to get rid of her.  I'm quite sure she was too tough to eat.  She was a free range chicken that had had too much freedom.  I could not tame her.  She hid her eggs all over the yard. grabbed a bite of scratch when I wasn't in range and she never darkened the door of the coop where all my other chickens took refuge at night.  She slept alone in a tree outside.  So imagine my surprise when she came up to us one winter. There was snow on the ground.  She was hungry, sick, her leg withered and curled up underneath her. My husband, being a man of mercy scooped her up (something she allowed without any hint of a fight) and nursed her back to health. Within a few weeks she the same wild hen as before. In her desperation, she was willing to trust.  The question is, would she have trusted anyone at that point? 

More and more I believe that though the Bible is clear, it isn't intuitive to us.  In Christ the last shall be first, it is the weak that are strong, the blind that can see, the lesser that is the greater.  Everything is the opposite of what we think it. what is natural in this world. We keep looking for signs of great suffering as if it is physical suffering that is the hardest to survive.  I'm not convinced.  What about other forms of suffering?  I believe suffering can drive us to follow a different shepherd... or perhaps simply shy away from the shepherd that we have.

But tell me, what is suffering?  Is it limited to our flesh (hunger, physical pain, or thirst?)  I'm thinking of Job 19:2 where he says to his friends, "“How long will you torment my soul, And break me in pieces with words?" Job was a man who had everything, money, a great family, prestige.  He wasn't tormented with hunger or whips.  He was tormented with accusations, false prophesy and emotional cruelty.  Is the wealthy man's form of suffering less horrible?

I have been tormented with words before.  I can relate to Job's description of being broken into pieces with words.  Perhaps I still feel broken.  I know that today, I feel lost almost like the shepherd's voice is too far away to distinguish? I think there is a place in all suffering where we give up, quit fighting, settle and learn to believe, "this is my new normal" Perhaps, "this is all I've ever known" or "This is what I deserve" Perhaps we just kind of wander off...  perhaps the pain shuts up our ears so that we do not hear the call of our shepherd.  But this I know, even if I can not hear Him... he hears me.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I live in the north where the complaint is usually about rain.  No one waters their lawns here, there  is no need--usually.  But this year green has withered into brown and lifeless and I can't help wondering what is next.  I guess I never expected drought here where drinking water wells are dug down to only 60 feet. But it is a huge reminder how little (if anything)  we actually control. On many levels, that awareness frightens me.

I spent several years in a rural ranching town where drought continued for more than seven years. I enjoyed a small community church there. On some Sundays during that time I saw big, burly ranchers openly weep as one by one they lost their herds, some lost their homes and their livelihoods with them.  We prayed, wept, and sought the LORD for relief. But relief was slow in coming.

 I'm thinking of Deuteronomy 11:13-17  "And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled.“Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, lest the Lord’s anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you. 

And Isaiah 42:24 "Who gave Jacob for plunder, and Israel to the robbers? Was it not the Lord,
He against whom we have sinned? For they would not walk in His ways, Nor were they obedient to His law."

After raising a crop of children of my own, these passages have taken on new meaning. I don't believe these are punishment passages (If you don't do what I tell you I will squash you like a bug aargh!") but rather an explanation of boundaries and consequence. What exactly happens when we serve other gods? Who pays the price? There is no other "good god" you either follow the LORD or you turn your face towards evil and evil is dark, vicious and cruel.  It creates horrible consequences!

 I told my children, "If you walk into the middle of the street without looking both ways, you could be hit by a car and killed" There was a point where I expected them to obey without my constant reminder.  I trusted them to walk down the street safely outside of my view.  If they didn't, being hit by a car was not something I did to them but something that happened in consequence.

If my child were using a toy to pound the heads of their siblings.  I would be angry in defense of the innocent and take that toy away until the heart of the child was repentant and he was safe with it around the others. Does that make me a vengeful, mean, overbearing parent or a loving one? God will protect the disadvantaged.  He will defend the fatherless and the widow.  On the flip side, not only will he allow consequence but He will not force His protection on anyone. Without crossing boundaries and being controlling, (which is not kind) He can not protect those who reject His protection. My protection for my children from being killed by a car was not to remove all the cars from the road but to teach them how to navigate a road full of cars safely.  It was then their choice to obey or not.

This year in the North, nothing has been "In it's season" There were many warm days when it should have been snowing,  Then there was frost when it should have been warm. The fruit trees lost their buds, pickers lost their summer jobs, towns lost summer season renters and the tax revenue connected to it. Was that punishment, consequence or coincidence?

In the Northern plains half of the land meant to grow wheat is left fallow every year. It is given a whole season to rest.  It's left fallow because years of research has proven that God's commandments about letting fields rest is sound land management. Our dust bowl of the 1930s was a consequence of poor land management including the lack of crop rotation.  In other words drought and disobedience are linked like streets and cars. Many of God's commandments, which used to sound like meaningless rituals now make scientific sense like the ones that command people to wash their hands before they eat.  What you do or don't ...matters!

As I write all that I then feel a little powerless, powerless because so many around me are choosing to dash out in the street and get hit. My country no longer seeks to walk humbly before the LORD. What can one person do? Does it matter really? Prophets cried in the streets, "Thus says the LORD, "Consider your ways" but few did. What was the point? The end result frightens me.  But then again there were people like Daniel, Rahab, and David. They listened to the prophets and were protected in miraculous ways because they walked in integrity in terrible times.  God help me do the same.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Chickens and God's intervention

I have too many Chickens, really I do.  But just same 5 baby chicks jumped into my car when I was at the feed store this week.  I succumbed to the cries of the fuzzy little peeps because I had four broody hens at home that just would not leave their nest (yes singular nest, four hens, one pile, one nest!).  Broody hens are hens that have stopped laying eggs (the only reason to have chickens in the city) and have started trying to hatch their eggs instead.  I have four very dedicated brooders that will sit on invisible eggs for many days even after you have taken the real eggs away from them. I have tried many times to deter them from their quest to produce baby chicks out of thin air but to no avail.

When I brought my babies home and in the dark of night replaced my invisible eggs with 5 cute little chicks one hen in particular decided that these were her chicks.  She knew all along that if she sat on her invisible eggs long enough something would come of it. And low and behold... she was right!  Hmmmm

I wonder how many times God intervenes when we are caught in a similar loop, dutifully working at a fatally flawed task doomed to futility and yet... walah! Success! We have accomplished the impossible... Chicks out of thin air!  (smile)  I think it thrills God to no end when we finally understand the source of our success.(smile)

Monday, June 4, 2012


Kindness, I don't know of anything that touches my soul deeper than a true kindness.  It still marvels me when someone chooses to be kind to me.  I'm sure sometimes I don't notice.  I'm sure sometimes I'm too busy to see.  But still, kindness is a gift beyond words to me.

Sometimes kindness isn't what we think.  It's not always kind to give people what they are demanding.  Is it ever a kindness to give in to a demand?... sometimes. I'm thinking of a desperate father demanding aid for his mortally wounded son... sure sometimes kindness looks past the delivery of a request to the need behind it.  But sometimes I feel strangled when people feel entitled to my kindness... I think that is when I'm the farthest away from a kind response... hmmm. But sometimes kindness can only say, "No." Sometimes it is a great kindness to leave people in the hands of a loving God and get out of the way.

I want to be kind.  I want to think kindly.  I want to walk in love... and Jesus says, "Love is kind". Kindness isn't easy... somehow it has to be wise.  Some attempts at kindness can turn out to be cruel at best. Yesterday I watched as a man tried desperately to be kind to a disabled man who was not in need of his actions.  The end result only made the disabled man feel more awkward and... well disabled... sad...

I'm thinking that kindness is not as easy as it might seem.  It takes intentionality. It takes watching, learning, listening and feeling.  Somehow one becomes kind, you aren't really born that way. Perhaps we can't truly be kind without guidance.  1 Corinthians 13 gives a list of the attributes of love, one being kindness.

" Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not want what belongs to others. It does not brag. It is not proud. It is not rude. It does not look out for its own interests. It does not easily become angry. It does not keep track of other people's wrongs.
 Love is not happy with evil. But it is full of joy when the truth is spoken. It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It never gives up."

I think that 1 Corinthians 13  isn't a list of how we are to behave but a list of attributes we will pick up as we listen to the LORD and walk in that listening.  God help me to be kind.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The preacher and the mute

I have been intrigued by two contrasting stories in Mark chapter 5 In the first story Jesus heals a man who was possessed. He heals him by casting the demons out of him and into a herd of swine that then run into the sea and drown. This man was nuts! He ran around naked (Luke Chapter 8) in the graveyard and in the mountains cutting himself with stones and screaming.  He was so strong not even chains could hold him.  Mark says that no one was able to tame him.  Wow, he was a monster that no one wanted anything to do with.  Jesus cast a whole pack of demons out of him and in his gratitude the man begged Jesus to allow him to travel with him.  Jesus refused and told him to go and proclaim what the LORD had done for him.

What an unlikely preacher!  Here's a guy that everyone is afraid of. He wore no clothes. He must have had scars up and down his body from the times that he cut himself. He was the outcast big time.  Sound familiar? But Jesus sent him out to preach. He had his work cut out for him too because after the people saw what Jesus did for the man and what happened to the pigs they were so afraid that they begged Jesus to leave!

Now jump to the next story.  Here Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagogue, came and asked Jesus to save his terminally ill daughter. While Jesus was on his way to Jairus' house people came to tell him it was too late.  His daughter was already dead.  Jesus told him not to fear but to believe.  Once at the house Jesus took the girls mom and dad and three of his disciples into her room and raised her up from the dead. To her parents Jesus cautioned them not to say a word about what happened.  Can you imagine keeping your mouth shut?

More than that, here is a man on great influence.  One who knows all the right people and could validate Jesus' ministry.  Jairus was the perfect preacher but it says, "He commanded them strictly that no one should know it" What is the difference?  Why did God give one man the hard task of preaching to a terrified audience and another man the hard task of keeping his joy to himself?  

Just wondering... Then I wonder what hard task is He entrusting me with?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Prophetic gifting: Being truth based

I am at odds with the label "Prophetic".  It has been twisted for me to mean, "False Prophetic" which isn't cool! I'm thinking of 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 Which says, "Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil." 

The truth is, every spiritual gift is powerful.  Which means it is very dangerous and destructive when placed in the wrong hands.  That's where we come in.  If we choose to use our gifting for our purposes, no matter how noble they may seem, we do a lot of damage! Spiritual gifts are meant to be guided by the Holy Spirit... and when they are... awesome things happen.  Lives are changed.  Huge mountains are moved! It's the difference between a gifted surgeon with a scalpel and a careless, angry child with a butcher knife.

The damage goes both ways.  If we use our gifting uninspired it's like an atom bomb, no one close to the detonation point is spared damage, especially the one holding the bomb! I have learned that lesson perhaps too well. Sometimes I am afraid to open my mouth for fear of the potential for damage.  That doesn't work either.

Going back to the label, "Prophetic", I like to use "Truth based" instead. I believe prophetic people are only comfortable when people are being truthful, open and honest.  They are not very good at small talk because it often contradicts what they "see".  It's hard to explain, but speaking honestly especially about the huge ignored elephant in the room is the best gift you could offer someone who is prophetic.  Prophetic people are called to bring what is out of order into order.  They are called to tell the truth. 

Children who are created to be prophetic are often labeled precocious, disrespectful, perfectionists, haughty, too black and white, too judgmental, too serious or hot tempered. As adults, sometimes when we wield our gifts uninspired we become what we are accused of, too black and white, perfectionistic and judgmental.  It's easy to become angry when things are out of order and we seem powerless to put them back as they should be.  It all boils down to who is in control.  Relinquishing control into the hands of our only wise God is vital for everyone and every gift. But perhaps it is hardest for the prophetic who see so much that is out of order but who aren't given the go ahead from the Holy Spirit to respond.

Romans 12:5-6 says, " so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;

It is an adventure to live life as God intended.  It's a dance of listening and moving as led. It is dangerous, but also amazing.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Freedom- breaking the yoke

Isaiah 58:6 "Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?" What does that mean in 2012? (listening) I'm not sure about the rest of it but the part that is tugging at my heart today is the line, "To loose the bonds of wickedness" I don't know that I could define the word wickedness... oh I can say, "It means doing evil" but what does that mean?  I believe evil is much more subtle than we realize. How do you "loose the bonds of wickedness" ? Are we to get help people get free from their addictions, hangups and evil desires?  Or are we to free those who are trapped by the wickedness of others?  I suppose it could be both but the picture I have is of that trapped feeling I get when I'm out of options.  I'm thinking of domestic violence, or modern day slavery.  (listening) Hmmm can you sum up wickedness as power and control? I'm thinking that power is not wicked... it is a gift or a circumstance but the misuse of it is way wicked

I often feel trapped when I feel like I am given no voice. For instance, I feel trapped in our politics.  I live in an area that has one large population center and many small rural communities.  The rural communities vote one way, the big city votes another.   Because more people in the city, how they vote is how we then live for the next few years.  I feel impotent.  If the word oppressed were exchanged for trapped it has more meaning for me. (listening) Wow, how many people in our world feel trapped?  If I feel trapped in my circumstance, think of people in say, Syria or Somalia. The misuse of power is a great evil.  But how do we do anything about it? (listening) How can I let the oppressed go free?  (listening)

Interesting, the picture turned in my head to the passage in Romans 12:3 and beyond where it says to use the gifts that we have been given.  Hmmm, like freedom is both allowing those who are gifted to move in their gifting but also to walk free in your gifts because walking free in your gift, sets others free in theirs.  It is the opposite of power and control to walk free... like live free to free

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The gift of giving in the age of entitlement?

I have been thinking of the spiritual gift of giving.  Romans 12:5-8 says, "So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness." (Listening) I find it interesting that this is a plea for us to use our gifts.... "Having gifts let us USE them... if you have the gift of prophecy... they speak! If you are gifted to teach, teach! 

Wow, that may seem simplistic, but I believe that satan works hard to make us afraid of the very thing we were created to be so what a release from the LORD.  "Hey you, yeah, you... I know it's scary to teach, because you have had bad experiences but I built into you a gift of teaching.  Let it out child and lean on Me for the words and the message.  Teach for God sake!!!

I'm not just picking on the teaching gift.  I'm really kind of confused about the gift of sharing or giving.  Our world has come to expect rescue.  I cringe at the things said after hurricane Katrina.  People angry because they weren't rescued fast enough.  Say again? No one had the obligation, rescue was a gift, wasn't it?  How can you give with liberality when people expect you to give even more than you have?  It's twisty! (listening) Hmmm, the sense I have is a restating of how important it is to be listening and guided by the LORD in what we do.

Spiritual gifts are POWERFUL!!!!  If we wield them by our own power someone is going to get hurt! Giving to some is no gift at all and yet the right gift at the right time will send people to their knees in awe of the LORD.  Listening and obedience is the key.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

"Let these words sink down into your ears" Luke 9:44

Wow, how do you do that?  "Let these words sink down into your ears". Mark 4:9 says, "“He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Is He talking to me?  Am I not listening? Is He talking to someone else who has hold of my ears?  Dear God help me to let all your words sink down into my ears.  I think I need to spend the next few weeks reading the red words... The ones that are spoken by Jesus himself.  Dear Father, Let these words sink down into my ears so that I am really hearing!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Stepping away from God's protection

For years I questioned the integrity of God.  "How can you be good when" "How can you be good when my child was murdered?" "How can you be good when I am dying of cancer?" How can you be good when the world is falling apart?" My biggest hurdle was the question, "Where were you" in connection to my own encounters with evil.  "Where were you God, when I cried out for rescue?" Where were you when he beat me?"  "Where were you when the unthinkable happened?" "Where were you when my baby died?" I believe that He has answered me and His answer revealed a covering, a protection over my life.  Now instead of the constant question of why, where were you, there is a deep inner peace and knowledge that though I am not always protected from pain, I am protected from something far more debilitating... evil.

The Young's literal translation of the Bible translates the last part of the Lord's prayer in Matthew 6:13 this way "And mayest Thou not lead us to temptation, but deliver us from the evil, because Thine is the reign, and the power, and the glory -- to the ages. Amen." That's huge to me.  Yes, Lord yes! Deliver me from THE EVIL!  The evil is horrible!  Everything else reverberates from there.  Pain is not our enemy in fact it is our friend.  It tells us something is wrong but evil is very much our enemy and it inflicts a much deeper wound than pain.

Protection from evil is not always protection from death.  Isaiah 57:1 says,

"The righteous perishes,
And no man takes it to heart;
Merciful men are taken away,
While no one considers
That the righteous is taken away from evil."

But while questioning God's integrity I was looking at how I didn't feel protected.  How the world seems just "out there" receiving whatever blows our way.  What if we are protected.  What if we have a choice to be protected or not?  What if we can choose to seek God's protection or reject it? How did this earth become the perfect place for life as we know it?  We have so many rings of protection around our world it is amazing!  For instance the ionosphere that protects us from the harmful radiation of the sun.  It has there long before we knew about it and without it we would be hard pressed to survive.  How much of God's protect are we missing?  Satan (the true bringing of evil) calls God's integrity into question pointing out the many catastrophes humanity is facing, yet he is not the one we cry to saying, "enough!"

I wonder all that as I wonder if we are stepping out from under God's protection as a nation... Is it that God is so cruel or is it that without Him evil will come.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Forgiving and avenging...

(listening) Hmmm I am reading Psalm 99 in the New American Standard.  Verses 6 through 9 says, "Moses and Aaron were among His priests, And Samuel was among those who called on His name; They called upon the LORD and He answered them.  He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; They kept His testimonies, and the statute that He gave them. O LORD our God, Thou didst answer them; Thou wast a forgiving God to them, and yet an avenger to their evil deeds.  Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at His holy hill; for holy is the LORD our God." This passage feels full of balance.  Wow, what a statement, "Thou wast a forgiving God to them, and yet an avenger of their evil deeds." That statement gives me peace when thinking about people in my life who have been both kind and cruel to me.  I want God to reach past atrocities because we are all capable of terrible things... but I also want justice because without it kindness and forgiveness would mean nothing. And because if there was only forgiveness, there would be no end to the evil.  There must be consequence.  Without it evil will overwhelm every good. Justice brings as much or more life to my soul as does mercy.

Listen to this line, "They called upon the LORD and He answer them. Wow. I believe God listens and answers, not only these priests of the past but you... and me.   I also believe that He corrects and guides.  I'm thinking of that song by Garth Brooks called Unanswered Prayers.  In it Garth suggests that sometimes God's good gift is choosing not to give us what we have asked for.  I personally wouldn't call them unanswered prayers but prayers that were answered, "no" or "wait".

Sometimes, no matter how hard I want to do good, sometimes my behavior is harmful to others.  When I sin, others are sinned on and those that are sinned on need to know that God is their defender.  Even if He defends against me.  That also gives me peace.  It means that I can trust Him with the damage I am bound to cause. If I am living in reckless abandon in my walk with Him. I have to trust Him to avenge those I have hurt.  If I am ever going to trust Him to avenge those who have hurt me.  I want consequences because I want to become more than I am.  More gracious, more kind and understanding, more humble and pure.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Waiting................still waiting...... maybe listening?

Wait is a four letter word! I must say that waiting in NOT fun for me.  Grrrr! I don't get the attraction.  I'm not sure I get waiting at all. 

There are many passages in the Bible about the advantages of waiting.  Like Isaiah 40:31

"But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint."

Why is it so important to wait?   I feel like I have been in a holding pattern for a long time! Actually, the whole earth feels like it is in a holding pattern to me.  I'm thinking it has to do with timing.  

When I think of waiting on the Lord I have a picture of a small child having run way ahead of his Father but running into a fork in the road.  He doesn't know which way to go and so he waits until his Father catches up.

 The fact that I am waiting on the LORD sort of implies to me that I have run up ahead of Him... again.  Waiting for me is living in the future... wanting the present to catch up with my dreams.  But where does listening come in?  My picture of listening is more a child standing beside his Father... relating and listening as they go along.  If a child runs up ahead he is not getting much benefit from being with his Father.  So how do I get back to Him and listen when I have already run up ahead and am waiting there for him to tell me what is next?  I'm not sure but perhaps the fact that we have run ahead and are no longer beside the LORD is what makes waiting so uncomfortable? Then again maybe if we waited with Him rather than cut and run we would have renewed strength and run and not grow weary.  I know that I only have the strength to do what God intends for me to do when He intends for me to do it... which means if I wait for His release with it comes the strength and power to accomplish the task.  Hmmm

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Listening to God

I used to walk in a boldness that is escaping me right now.  I am wondering when the switch happened.  I believe in listening to those little nudges.  Years ago I read a book by Charlie Shedd called "The brush of Angel Wings" In the book Charlie talks about making a deal with God that he would give himself permission to blow off the first two nudges but if he was nudged three times about something he would do it... no matter what. 

That made sense to me.  I am not always sure I am feeling a nudge. Sometimes I wonder if I am just making stuff up.  But by the time I get that third nudge I'm pretty confident of it's origin.  The book is a bunch of stories about what happened when Charlie got a nudge and followed it.  Like the time he was nudged to go and visit a member of his church.  He was planning a romantic meal with his wife at the time and didn't want to go but on the third nudge he adjusted his plans and found himself being at the right place at the right time.  Just as he arrived a young wife was receiving the news that her husband was killed on the job.God does amazing things when we listen! I can remember the day I was nudged to call an old friend many miles away.  He picked up the phone and said, "I bet you have no idea why you called do you?" Well, I did have an idea, I felt nudged and told him so, my suicidal friend got off the phone feeling as if he mattered to God.  It was awesome!

So why do I hesitate?  Sometimes God is audacious and sometimes I don't want to be?  Did I just say that out loud? The living bible translates the first part of Joshua 1:6 like this "Be strong and courageous for you are the one..." God, I don't feel very strong or courageous right now. But I want to be... or at least I want to want to be strong and courageous. (listening)  I believe it is time for courage. (listening) Hmmm the picture I have is of Jesus in the garden and of the angel that comes to strengthen Him and of Stephen who was stoned to death because of his passion for Jesus.  While he was being stoned to death he sees heaven open and he is so geeked about what he sees that it's like he doesn't even notice the stones.  The picture I have is that courage is supernatural not something I have to make myself be more like something I can receive if I want to.

cool! God give me courage!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How can we make a difference: Part two

I am still pondering.  I supposed my post yesterday might have sounded bleak but that was not my intention.  I just want to be wise and put effort into something powerful and life changing instead of just doing something that makes me "feel" like I am doing something.  (if that makes any sense)

I know in other places it says, "Go and Preach" but in Matthew 28 it seems much more clear that,  "preaching" is a lifestyle, not a singular act.  Matthew 28:18-20 says, "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen." 

I wonder if much of what we do ministry wise is avoiding discipleship.  We swoop in and swoop out almost like a big game night.  I'm not talking about missionaries that work in the field but more the average folk... if there is such thing as average anything. How do we "make disciples"? What does discipleship mean anyway?  What would it mean in this age of entitlement?  Is it even possible?  I think discipleship is a much bigger commitment than our idea of "preaching".  It takes time.  It takes coming along side and walking beside.  I wonder how to without stepping outside of our culture.

Monday, February 13, 2012

How can we make a difference

I have had an amazing week.  There has been so much to consider.  It started by meeting a man who asked thought provoking questions.  He is a free spirit who has plenty and yet doesn't have much interest in money.  He wants to do something to make a difference in people's lives.  He started by building schools out of plastic pop bottles in small villages in South America.  No fooling, the whole community works hard to fill the bottles with trash and then they are used like bricks to build a school.  It's a great idea, not just because it is an inexpensive way to build a school but also because it requires a huge effort by those who will use the school. Who would mar a school that you build with your own sweat and blood?  By the end of the project, people also have the knowledge to build again if they want to. But, the question was asked, were these people really helped?  We teach reading, writing and science, all things that will get you ahead in our culture but what do people really need to know to thrive right where they are? Does it help people to thrive when we give them tools to be like us? 

I once went on a mission trip to build houses in Mexico.  We, the totally inexperienced Americans, built a two room home in three days.  I know that the people were grateful but I was saddened by the things we Americans arrogantly assumed.  We treated these people's poverty like a freak show.  We took pictures to stir pity in the hearts of those left behind like we were the benevolent "haves" and they were the pitiable "have nots".  I am not convinced.  We had money and time and the need to feel good about ourselves.  But the people we served seemed to have much more.  They were a loving family in a community that was cohesive and I think happy.  They knew how to laugh, and dance and sing.  We were not their betters.

There is a Church in Southern California, I have forgotten the name of the preacher but he writes a book called "Do Something!" I want to, but I don't want to do something worthless. I want to do something intelligent. inspired. So God, where do I start?  What will really make a difference?  I don't want to help people become like me.  I want to help people become like you.  What does it mean to "Go and make disciples?"  I believe that is a totally different cause altogether. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I just listened again to a lesson by Bob Hamp of Freedom Ministries. He talks about Matthew 6:33 where Jesus says "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." The idea I got was, if I focus on the problem--even for the purpose of solving the problem my focus is on something other than Jesus.  If I focus on Jesus, and take my cues from Him, my problem will resolve itself. 

So let's take money as an example (since money is a problem for me).  I hate money.  In my life growing up it was used as a manipulative tool.  Hmmm, is money always a manipulative tool?  That's the deal.  If I work to make money isn't it a manipulative tool?  And if I am focused on what that work will make me, money wise, where is my focus?  Why do we work? I do ministry for women who have been hurt.  I certainly don't do that for the money.  There is no money to be made working on the outside of the gate.  But, it takes money to eat... doesn't it? Where do you draw the line? When is money the focus of what we do and when is it the consequence? (listening) (still listening)

It is now tax season.  Every year I start out the year with great hopes that I will find new gifts of organization and keep everything together so tax season is a breeze.  Every year I fail at it miserably and I spend many hours sorting papers.  Each year I question why I am doing what I do in light of my chaos. But each year that paperwork comes together and I am ready to start again.There has to be something more.  I feel like I am becoming cynical, a wake up call in my mind! I have to admit I like that Jesus paid the taxes with money covered in fish drool *smile*. Hmmm (listening again)

So what does it mean, "Seek first the kingdom"? Funny I keep listening but I am not hearing much.  The only thing I hear is "listen" hmmm maybe that is the answer. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Looking back

It's been almost a year since I started my war against chaos. Well, really, my war started when I said yes to Jesus, but perhaps this year it has been a more concentrated effort? I'm not sure how to put words to the lessons I have struggled through this year. More and more I am understanding that the war is not against stuff or clutter.  It is against the enemy.  The author of Chaos. I believe God is a God of order.  He brings order into the lives of His people as we turn to Him.  But the battle rages between order and chaos. It feels like I have made so much progress that I can no longer tolerate the chaos that once was the norm in my life.  But I haven't grown to the point that I am able to eliminate chaos.  Wow, I can't even imagine I have learned that trauma, especially childhood trauma fills your brain with chaos.  It's not just an emotional block but a physical reality.  Physical/ Psychological trauma causes your brain to develop differently.  It;s like running backwards all the time.  I am in the process of packing up part of my house and sorting out other parts.It's beyond me right now.How do people know what is important and what is in the way of life? I am just taking one paper, one box, one drawer at a time. God must do the rest. I keep clinging to the passage the says, "in Him all things hold together. That is my brain.