Saturday, January 26, 2008

"Go Home"

It was dark and very late.

It was snowing and cold.

I was tired, so tired, and in the middle of nowhere.
I didn't know where I was.
I had no idea of where I was in relation to where I wanted to be.

So I climbed in the car and hit a button.
The button said "Go Home".

I wanted to be home.
But I didn't know how to get there.

Yet all I needed to do was to follow the steps on the GPS.
If I just did what it said I was certain that, after a while, I would be home; where I wanted to be

Even though I didn't know how to get there, I would get there.

It wasn't up to me to find my way home; I just had to want to go there.
When I asked to be lead back home, I was.

My ability to get home had nothing to do with my skills.
I got home because I knew I needed help and I knew to ask.

Sometimes we wander from home because we're chasing something and become so engrossed that we don't realize how far away we've gotten.
Sometimes we pack our bags in defiance and with rebellious steps set out to get as far away as quickly as possible.
I am always amazed how far from home you can get in a single day: how a scant twenty-four hours can have you thousands of miles away.

Intentional or not, when we find ourselves far from home and we want to go back, we just need to ask and then follow the directions.

You'll find the lights on, and your Father waiting with open arms.

"The LORD your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him." 2 Chronicles 30:9b

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What are you looking for?

What are you looking for?

My keys
My shoes
A better job
Happiness
Love
My purpose in life


What are you looking for?

“The following day (after the baptism of Jesus), John was again standing with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and then declared, ‘Look! There is the Lamb of God!’ Then John’s two disciples turned and followed Jesus.

Jesus looked around and saw them following. ‘What do you want?’ he asked them.” (John 1:35-39)

Older Bible versions ask “What seek ye?”

What are you looking for?

What are you looking for?

If you stopped right now – no seriously – if you stopped reading and answered that question in your own heart, where no one else would have to know your answer, what would you say?

What do you want?
What are you seeking?
What are you looking for?

Did you stop? Do you have an answer?

Stop.

Take a minute.
What do you want?

If you found a genie in a bottle and had three wishes…

but this is no fairy tale, this is the Creator of the universe, the Almighty God saying to you – What do you want?

These men were a bit flustered, this question was unexpected and no one actually responds quickly and honestly to questions like this.
So they ask the first thing that dawns on them, “Where are you staying?”

I know that as a teacher I was told to communicate to the students that there are no dumb questions but…there really are and this is one of them.

But… But the answer is the answer.

Whatever your answer to “What are you looking for?”.
This is the answer that will give you what you seek.

“And Jesus said, ‘Come and see’.”

What seek ye?
Come and see.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ministry

There are certain, shall I say, grandiose moments of ministry.

The symphonic choir anthem, the solo whose notes soar into the sanctuary and words into hearts, the well thought out and inspiring sermon, the perfectly planned and executed event, the challenging Bible study in which students leave anxious to learn out more.

Of course there are also the private moments - the desk of a pastor with tomes of knowledge, or windows of the Internet, opened as a sermon is prepared, the shuffle of music as a choir works through new pieces, the arrangement of chairs as the Sunday school room is readied, the plinking of piano keys as new music is learned and the tuning of guitar strings as a worship team prepares to practice.

And then there are those moments that seem most unlike what could be considered "ministry"...

This occurred to me as I was making a billion copies for Sunday school - okay, not a billion, more like a few hundred.

The morning found me in Saturday clothes, which are very unlike the "going to church clothes", kneeling on the floor of the church office collating booklets for Sunday's classes. Later that evening I was busy cutting up construction paper into circles and strips.

I've seen people emptying the buckets of water collected from the leaking roof, and mopping the floors after an event, sorting the paper plates and plastic silverware in preparation for a dinner, and one searching through graphics for just the right picture for a church publication, certainly these cannot be considered ministry.

If there was anyone who experienced the "grandiose" moments of ministry it was Christ. He raised the dead, healed of the diseased and lame, fed crowds of thousands; all spectacular moments of ministry bringing great honor to God in a very public way.

But it was also our Lord who knelt to wash the feet of his disciples: the lowliest, most unimpressive form of "ministry" ever. Their feet were the filthiest part of these men; caked with the mud and dung from the roads they'd traveled that day.
There was no glory in this action, no prestige; this was just work, duty, a job that must be done, a very lowly, and demeaning task.

Yet...
Yet, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Messiah, the Almighty took it upon himself to do this task - to minister in this way and in so doing exalted all the things we do with a heart to honor God, as service that pleases Him.

So as you and I go about the things we do because we love our Lord, as we seek to minister to his people and to bring others to know Him, know that if your service is public, or private, an influential event or a menial task, that the attitude of your heart is what brings the most honor to God, no matter how grandiose the service.

"Moreover it is required in stewards,
that a man be found faithful"
I Corinthians 4:2

"We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God,
who regards not the greatness of the work,
but the love with which it is performed."
Brother Lawence

Friday, January 11, 2008

Taste and see...

I was having lunch with a friend who, realizing she was famished, confessed she really hadn't eaten in the past few days. She went on to say that she didn't realize she was so hungry until she tasted the food.

I have a chiropractor who has explained that we get so accustomed to feeling bad with sore muscles or things out of joint that we forget what it feels like to be healthy.

I have it on authority, not my own unfortunately, that when you start to exercise consistently you have a new level of energy.

We are amazingly adaptable people, which is good, because life calls for many adaptations; but it's also bad because sometimes when we adapt to a lower level we forget how good it really can be.

Tasting is a powerful concept because it has the ability to open up whole new avenues for us.

My children have just seen a musical theater production for the first time: their world has a whole new desirable element in it.

I have just discovered a new musical group: I have many recordings now open for exploration.

I don't need to talk about the flip side of this: the taste of drugs, alcohol, or illegitimate sex - you already know that not all tastes need to be experienced or cultivated.

But perhaps there is a good taste you've once experienced that you haven't in a while. Psalms 34:8 says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good." It's easy to have a good faith-uplifting experience and then be drawn away by daily life, and forget that taste, lose that hunger.

Numerous verses abound in scripture about the sweetness of the Lord and his words.
You may be hungrier than you think:
so go ahead,
taste and see...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Just Put One Foot in Front of the Other

Before we get too far from Christmas, let's look back on this verse - in the Old King James Version of course because that is the way we first heard and probably memorized this story (and it's also the way Linus quotes it in A Charlie Brown Christmas...

"And so it was, that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered." (Luke 2:6)

I've been snared by that phrase "the days were accomplished." Having been pregnant myself, I know what it feels like waiting until the days are accomplished: near the end they s-l-o-w down and s-t-r-e-t-c-h way out. Apparently I'm not so good with "going the distance."

I became very aware of this during an unexpected adventure on a recent trip. I'd hiked down the Waimea Canyon about a 1/2 mile, and when I say down, I mean down into the canyon - it seemed there weren't three level steps together. And now it was time for the trip back up.

After a few minutes I realized that I was never going to make it - there was no way, after all that hiking down, that I had enough energy to hike up and out.

But I didn't have a choice; I had to keep putting one foot in front of, or above in some cases, the other and eventually get out. I had to keep going until I was at the end of the trail. There were no shortcuts, no other way out - it wouldn't be over until it was.

When I am in the midst of something, I want a way out, a shortcut, to hurry things up so that it's over. I've realized that sometimes it just won't be over until it is over - until the days or the purpose are accomplished. There's nothing I can do about the situation, or trial, or test, other than just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

As I was struggling once through a hardship, I was told, "you'll get through this." What a lousy piece of advice, I thought. What if I don't? I can't catch my breath and my heart is beating so hard it hurts, and I'm not strong enough! How can you blithely say "you'll get through this"?

Although at the time those words didn't bring me strength or comfort, they are true. You will get through this, at some point the days will be accomplished and this will be over.

It's not much, but there is much to be said for just continuing to put one foot in front of the other. That's how progress is made.

When's your birthday?

I am a birthday girl.
I love birthdays!

Not mine necessarily, but yours.
I love the fact that there is a day to celebrate you and all you are to me and a perfect opportunity to tell you how glad I am you are in this world and in my world.

What about your other birthday? The one I grew up hearing called your "spiritual birthday"? What about that day that you accepted Christ as your Lord and your Savior - have you celebrated that?

It's a different kind of celebration; very personal and very awe inspiring.
For it is to realize that the Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, reached down and whispered to your heart and invited you to be His child.

Whatever day it was, however long ago it was, that was the day that you heard God's voice. He chose to speak to you. And consequently God has given you permission to speak your heart to him and hear his voice all the days of your life left here on earth and then forever as you will be with him in heaven.

So when is your birthday? I happen to know the date, but that's not of the utmost importance. What is important is that you know that you are a child of the King and that you chose a day to celebrate that: to let your mind dwell for that period of time on the grace that has been bestowed upon you.

Celebrate the God who let you hear His voice.

"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice, and opens the door,
I will come in." Revelations 3:20

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Tough Stuff

This picture is a trail. Seriously. This is the path I have to take.

Do you see a path?
I didn’t.

What you can't see is just how steep this trail is, about a 45 degree angle...

All I saw were rocks, boulders if you will, and this “path” looked more like the channel for water running down the mountain than a pathway for people attempting to climb to the top.

I stood there looking at it, thinking about myself and how ill prepared I was to scale this. Other hikers had passed me who were well prepared. They had packs, hiking boots, hats, and special hiking sticks.

I, however, was adorned in a sundress covering a swimsuit with my normal “running around on errands” gym shoes.

Yeah.
So not prepared for this.

I thought I was just heading for the beach – a little sun, a little snorkeling … instead I’m standing on the beginning of the Na Pali coastline in a dress and muddied shoes and holding a branch ripped off a tree root for my hiking stick.

My only choice was to move forward.
As I did, I found little muddy spots between the rocks to plant a foot. Gripping those little spaces and leaning on my sturdy stick amazingly got me up that rocky trail.

Remember the Israelites when they fled from Egypt? Here they are, the Red Sea in front of them, the Egyptian army behind them: they were trapped.
But then... “Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles he does for his people! He made a dry path through the Red Sea and his people went across on foot.” Psalms 66:5,6

"Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters—a pathway no one knew was there!" Psalms 77:19
Don Moen has put this to music in his song:
“God will make a way, where there seems to be no way.
He works in ways we cannot see. He will make a way for me.
He will be my guide. Hold me closely to His side.
With love and grace for each new day.
He will make a way. He will make a way.”


I was not prepared. And the way I got up that rocky slide was not always pretty, but there was a way.

I face situations that look no different than the seemingly impassable path in this photo.
There is no way, and I do not have what I need to make it through this issue.

Yet God has promised.
He will make a way.

The Lord says,“I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you” Psalms 32:8

“ The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble they will not fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Psalms 37: 23,24

“Being confident of this very thing that He that has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6


“Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow” Psalms 25:4

“He will show them the path they should choose." Psalms 25:12

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:21

Okay then, if these are the promises that I'm taking with me, let’s go.