Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Living the Dream

I've borrowed the title and some of the content of this post from the sermon series Daniel Floyd is teaching at  (Lifepoint Church). 

I have been dusting off a dream that had been squashed under the "you can't do that!" of others. This week's sermon was about letting God's opinion of me matter more than the opinion of people. I've heard many talks about the subject and even have a few up my sleeve that I've offered to myself and others along the way. What was different this time? God spoke to my heart and called me out. He said I needed to LIVE the dream He planted in my heart rather than wait for people to approve of it. What a challenge!

What is your dream? Have you put it in a well-hidden part of your heart and left it there hoping one day it would be fulfilled in an instant? Have you dismissed it as too grand or too risky? Have you hoped God would come up with a different dream, one that is easier to do or achieve?

The world around you needs the dream God put in your heart - that God-sized, I-can-only-do-it-If-God-makes-a-way dream. What good and worthy things will happen if you go for it? What might be lost if you don't?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

If you only knew the Jesus I love

At a recent home group meeting, a man shared that his son believes lots of people want to know God, especially the God we love and serve who is kind, strong, good, full of love and much more. I was deeply impacted by the mindset with which this young man shares God with people. I think he's right. People really do want to know the God we find in the pages of the Bible (when taken as a whole, not randomly extracted in little bits), just not the small, petty, vindictive god often depicted by some.

Resolved: I will take more risks to tell people about the God I love and why my life is so much better WITH him in it!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Eagerness or Impatience

We have made it safely to Virginia from Alaska in the past month. Our temporary living arrangement is comfortable by many global standards, if not American ones. We have been blessed with the resources to shop for a nice home, an option far beyond the reach of many in this world. I wish I could say that I'm simply grateful for that and that my mind is at rest, but I'm simply not there yet!

I awoke this morning thinking about the big decisions ahead of me and wondered why I'm thinking so far ahead of the moment I am in. Am I impatient to get settled or eager to start on the next adventure? Am I worrying about the decisions or wisely pondering the options before us? The answer to both questions is, "Yes!" I am both impatient and eager, worried and wise. Perhaps living with that paradox and not striving for perfection of heart will bring rest to my soul. My head knows that God, who brought us through the past nine months of major changes, has not abandoned me and has good plans for me. I know that He works in ways far beyond my comprehension and that He orchestrates many details ahead of revealing my next step to me. As a recovering perfectionist, I long for these facts to rule my mind and heart yet I know that being aware of them is progress in a healthy direction.

I am not naturally drawn to adventure. I love watching and celebrating others' exciting treks from the comfort of a stable, comfortable place. Without adventure, life is routine and quiet and quite possibly dull!  I married a man drawn to adventure and eager to see what's around every next corner of life. I have traveled a good part of this huge world as a result and want to do more! Perhaps the application to eagerness, impatience, worry and wisdom, is that in community, we can embrace life with more courage and joy than we could ever manage on our own. May we each seek and engage in a community of people that embolden us to think more freely and do more adventurous things than we might ever do on our own!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Whole Earth Shakes

World events in recent weeks have sent tremors around the world politically,  economically, and physically. Through natural eyes, the world looks less secure and even fearful. Thoughtful people wrestle not only with the implications of these events on nations and individuals, but with the deep spiritual questions inevitable when revolution and tragedy strike.
It is natural to blame God for what happened and to ask why a good God lets such things happen. I used to get stuck on this thought. In recent years I've learned to hold certain facts about God and Satan up as a filter through which to view the world and it's harsh realities.

1. God is good, God is love, God is just and God is holy - everything done by God is motivated and flows out of those characteristics. There is great dichotomy in those qualities. There are not simple answers to complex crises.

2. Satan is the ruler (albeit temporarily) of this world and works to steal, kill and destroy. He does everything he can to turn our eyes off of God's love and kindness and works to get us to blame God for his evil deeds.

3. God is patient in ending Satan's reign on earth. He wants to give opportunity to as many as possible to turn to Him for hope and LIFE before He ends the world as we know it and puts Satan away forever. 

Until that day, we live in a world full of trouble and difficulty. Hope comes as we trust God's goodness and hold fast to faith in Him no matter what circumstance we face.

I don't pretend to understand God or His timing. I find such tragedies horrific and incomprehensible. I often feel small and helpless in the face of world events. I do know I serve a God who has power to make good out of what Satan means for evil in individual lives. 

Join me in asking for God's mercy on all affected by the crises in the Middle East and Japan in particular and in taking action to relieve suffering when the opportunity presents itself.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Celebrate or Grieve?

As we approach the end of 26 years spent in Alaska, I have reason to grieve many things. In this circumstance, grief is a choice on some level. A close friend who often gives me ideas worthy of reflection invited me to celebrate what we have experienced here and the people we love rather than wallow in grief over the changes to come. I took her counsel to heart and find that, so far, I am enjoying the time I have left here.  I know there will be moments of sadness and I will grieve the necessary changes of a move across a continent, but I choose to do that when the moments come, not anticipating their arrival and nursing their emotions into moments that don't deserve them.

It seems to me God encourages us to live in the moment, in the day we have rather than in the future. We are told each day has enough trouble of its own, so worry focused on what might happen tomorrow is a waste.

I'm also reminded that every good gift (including people) is from God. Choosing to enjoy those gifts as long as I have access to them is a delightful way to live these fleeting days.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hindsight Clarifies Present Vision

I find it interesting that looking back even a few months makes one see the present so clearly.

Today I realized that God's kindness back in August prepared us for this season of showing the house and preparing to move across the country in two short months. In August, because of what appeared to be certain circumstances of job loss, we prepared to move ourselves out of Alaska to a less expensive place. We cleaned out closets, repaired the little things in the house, made decisions about what furniture to sell and keep and what cars to sell. It was a lot of work, but the fruit of that labor is being harvested this month. I am free to recover from major surgery while the house is being shown because that work was done!

Of course, between August and January, there was more than enough uncertainty. Even things that seemed certain have changed. Living in the moment, giving and taking as much from each day as possible brings me to this day with few regrets.

These months have once again reinforced what I learned and internalized many years ago - God IS good and fully trustworthy.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Insights to Ponder

As I approach surgery this week I've come across a couple of interesting insights. 

A praying friend helped me see that my spiritual gift was actually causing me some challenges.  When presented with a problem, I see ahead to potential outcomes and sort through them for the best one. That gift has interfered with sleep some as I have attempted to develop strategies for unknowns. Now that I am aware of this, sleep has returned. I am not fighting the gift, rather I am realizing the impossibility of planning for unknowns and resting in God's goodness for the outcomes.  Spiritual gifts can be used to build up the body and encourage AND they can be used to cause pain and destruction. Using them with love while rooted in God's direction is the key to their use for good.

Praying for people is a good thing. Even better, tell them what you're asking God for. Lots of people are praying for me (and thank you for asking God to give a great result, by the way).  Some simply say they'll pray.  A few have offered to pray in person for me.  The latter is far better.  I am realizing I need to know what people are asking God for so my "faith tank" is filled. I am encouraged by specific requests more than by a general promise to pray. When you get the opportunity to pray for someone, tell them what you're asking God for and what God is promising for that person. Be specific, whether by email, phone or in person. Sometimes your words are what that person remembers in difficult moments.

May God put rich blessings in your life this year...deposits of Himself that you discover and internalize.