Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I am so in Love With...

Remember my "New Year's Resolutions"? 1.Do no harm, 2.do good and 3.stay in love with God. How do we stay in love with Him? There have been times in my life when I thought that God chose not to love me because of my sins and the direction my life was going. Like a petulant child, I would put space between us and give Him the silent treatment. Now that I am a more mature Christian (He ain't done with me yet) I know that He loves me no matter what challenges or choices I face in this life. I no longer think that He is punishing me. When Jesus died on the cross, my debt was paid. His grace is sufficient for me.

But how DO we stay in love with Him? John Wesley laid out these ordinances...public worship of God, the Lord's Supper (communion), private and family prayer, searching the Scriptures, Bible study and fasting as being essential to living a faithful life. Trust me, I haven't always done these things. There were a few years when I barely darkened the door of a church. I thought that God didn't care about me, so why bother? But guess who created the space between us? I did. God didn't move and thankfully He is a God of second chances. I've also NEVER read the Bible cover to cover. Sure, I've read the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament, but not from Genesis to Revelation. My church has started "The Bible in 90 Days" Bible study as of this week. It's exciting to me to read it and be able to discuss it with my husband at home and also in a group setting at church. The book of Genesis has enough juicy details to provide a soap opera a few years of material. Who knew? Ninety days from now I hope to be able to blog about the entirety of my experience and be able to tell the blog world that "I HAVE READ THE WHOLE BIBLE"!

Ok, sooooo...go to church, take communion, pray, read and study the Bible and fasting. Fasting? The only fasting I do is yearly at Lent (which is coming up, by the way). I have had a great experience with Lent and it really has helped me to focus more on Him and His presence in my life. I guess the reason that I don't fast more is because I didn't think I needed to. I am wrong. I think that if I practiced the spiritual discipline of fasting more often, I wouldn't think it was okay to make MY own decisions or plans instead of listening and waiting for what He has for me. In other words, fasting could help empty me of me and fill me with Him. I often pray for humility and that people would look at me and see Him shining through. Fasting helps me to focus my thoughts on Him to help me get through the next day, hour or minute of fasting. And relying on Him keeps my faith strong AND my love for Him growing. And THAT's where I want to remain...in love with the One who made me, who gave me life everlasting and whose love is constant all of the time.

"Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually." --Psalm 105:4 

If anyone is interested in following along and reading the Bible with us, you can click on this link for the reading schedule. We would love to have you!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fear, Faith and a Mustard Seed

Everybody has something that they are afraid of...heights, clowns, spiders. I am one of those people who is not too fond of heights. I had a very unpleasant experience as a young child stopped on the very top of a ferris wheel with one of my cousins who will remain nameless. To this day, I haven't gotten back on a ferris wheel. I wasn't scared because I was stuck or because the machine was broken or I was falling, I was scared because these things MIGHT happen. Fast forward several decades and the list of fears has grown. Fear of failure, rejection, loss, not being good enough, the future. Fear of change, of letting go of things that are comfortable to me.

What is fear? The Bible says that fear is a lack of faith (Mark 4:40). Do I not have faith? I consider myself a faithful person, wife, friend. I have faith in God. What I lack sometimes is faith in what God can and IS doing for me in my life. When things aren't going like I think they should, I worry. I doubt. I shed tears. I get angry. I get discouraged. Guess what? I am not in control. I like to be, but I'm not. In my quest to live a more disciplined life, I have made a lot of positive changes along the way. I've lost some weight, learned to like exercise, become more organized, but I've realized I haven't let go of all of my fears. Why do I want to lose weight? I want to feel better and be healthy. I want to honor God with the body He has given me. I want to walk into a store and not have to look for an XL. But I also have a shallow desire to be attractive/pretty. I don't want people to tell me I have a pretty face. When I hear that it screams "but she has an ugly body"! After 39 years, I have become comfortable with the way I look now. I have also become comfortable with food as my comforter. Even though I want to lose weight, it scares me sometimes. I am still scared of things that MIGHT happen. How will people perceive me and how will I react to them?  My insides must change for the better along with my outside.

Thinking about faith and fear made me think of a song I learned this fall. I don't know the name of it, but here are the lyrics...."Well there's nothing that I need that He won't provide and there's nothing that I need that He won't supply. Cause I believe, yes I believe. I will say to the mountain move. I will say to the mountain get out of my way. Cause I believe, yes I believe." This song led me to think about Matthew 17:20 which says, "Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there', and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." Do you know how big a mustard seed is? I had to squint to see it in the picture at the top of the blog. It is smaller than the BBs and the air rifle pellets that I sweep up off of my floor. It's smaller than legos, squinkies, or any Barbie parts lying around my house. It might be so small that you don't know that it is there. Now I know my mustard seed is there. I'm holding on to that thought throughout this journey. It won't be easy, but it WILL be worth it!

2 Timothy 1:7 God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self control.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

First Do No Harm...

 I wanted to write a bit more about my new resolutions, specifically #1. Do No Harm. This shouldn't be hard....after all, I am a nurse and in my professional life this is also one of the main concepts of care. It is not hard to "do no harm" to people, that is what I am already doing...right? Keep reading.

There I was having dinner with some of my friends and they began talking about someone we all knew. Has this ever happened to you? I KNOW I'm not the only one. It could be a friend, family member, or simply someone in the community that you all know. This person could have even wronged one of you, or ALL of you. They may not pay their bills, tithe to the church, they let their children run wild or they are just really annoyingly perfect. Is it okay to gossip about this person or this situation? You're not doing harm because the person isn't hearing what you are saying, right? WRONG. If I set out to purposefully "Do No Harm" then the climate I live in must change. I cannot "play around with" the facts of the situation to make myself look good. I cannot gossip about the conflict or speak about those involved in a harmful or disparaging manner (Yes, this rule also applies to FaceBook). If people disagree with me and my ideas and I wish to do no harm, I can't belittle them or make them feel less than me. Going further, I must honor them as a child of God. Suddenly, it isn't sounding so easy to "Do No Harm". When I disarm myself, I am able to consider the fact that God loves each of us equally, and that we all have some common ground with each other.

So why don't I all practice this principle in all of my affairs? Because according to Reuben P. Job, it requires me to have a radical trust in God's presence, power, wisdom and guidance and a radical obedience to God's leadership. Do I have these 2 things...no. Do I want these 2 things...YES! It is hard not to let "me" get in the way of HIS plans. Sometimes I think that my way is the best way, the best plan or the best opinion. Whether it is or isn't doesn't matter. How I act and conduct my affairs and treat others is what matters. It is scary to give up my own power and plans for His. The world might see me as weak, inconsequential or unimportant. What is He going to ask me to give up? Something or someone I love? Will He ask too much? It is so easy for me to judge others but overlook my own shortcomings. Why IS that? Listen to this quote from William C. Creasy, "A person who honestly examines his own behavior would never judge other people harshly." Double ouch. I'm ready to get radical...with trusting God, obeying God and following God. I'm ready to really SEE others as Jesus sees them. After all, we are all recipients of lavish, unmerited and unending love and mercy. I'm going to intentionally act like one, will you help me?

 "Be and example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity." 1 Timothy 4:12

Fitness Friday update...The only category that has really "changed" this week is that I exercised FOUR times last week and am making a conscious effort to eat healthier. Back on the wagon!!