Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What If?

What If?

I woke up this morning thinking about Abraham and Sarah, and all the life altering changes God called them to make. Here they were, living this comfortable life, surrounded by family, with servants and riches and a respected place in their community, later on in years, and God speaks to Abraham. “Get up and go, leave everything you know, and go somewhere. I’m not telling you where, just pack and go, and I’ll lead you.”

What if Abraham said no? Where would we be today? And Sarah, can you imagine how hard it would be if your husband came home and said, “Get packing honey, God told me…” Would it be hard to trust your husband, to trust God to make that move? To leave all you have ever known? What if Sarah said no? How hard was it, to believe God’s promise, and launch out into the unknown?

What if, when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, the son of promise, the child he had longed for, worked for, loved and cared for, what if Abraham had said no? Where would we be? Would God have been able to send Jesus? Would we even be here, the church in our day?

What if Mary had said no? Think of her shame, in the eyes of man, at bearing a child while she was unmarried. What if Jesus had said no, to coming to earth, to dying on the cross, to giving His all for us?

Throughout the years, God has asked the question, “Do you love me more than these?” These things, these people, these places, these plans you have for your life, yes, even your own reputation, your own life, your own family? Are we willing to follow Him, even in the hard things, even in the things we don’t understand, because He is asking us to, because we trust Him?

When Abraham and Sarah said yes, God birthed a nation. He gave them lands, a family, a future, a place of destiny, and an impact on millions of people yet unborn. By their obedience, God would populate heaven. By Mary’s obedience, by Jesus, by the disciples, by the words, “Yes Father”, the course of world history was changed.

Can we be like Abraham and leave our comfort zone? Can we be like Peter, and risk stepping out of the boat? Can we be willing to give up our Isaac, trusting God and loving Him more than our plans, our hopes, our dreams, our programs, and our creations? Is it possible to follow Him when He is pushing us out of the nest and teaching us to fly, when everything in us is screaming “No, I’m falling, it’s too dangerous, I don’t understand, ahhhhhhhhh!” and He is saying “I’ll bear you up on eagles’ wings and teach you to soar on the high places.” Can we trust Him even when we don’t understand the WHY and know it’s all part of His plan to bring us to an expected end?

What if we said yes?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Are you expecting?

What do you typically think of on a Monday morning? “Oh, no, back to the rat race.” Does life seem a lot like you are a hamster running on a wheel and getting nowhere? Does life seem like a big to do list for you? Or are you enjoying your life and living each day with purpose?

Today, being June 1, is a good day to start fresh and do some attitude checks. This morning, as I read Psalm 5, verse 3 jumped out at me.

“Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.”

Several things spoke to me here. “Each morning”. I can’t say I consistently come to Him at the beginning of my day. Sometimes I am just not feeling very awake at 5:30 AM. But it is something I want to do. Where do I get the idea that I am too busy to linger a little in the morning with my Bible and a cup of coffee? The dishes or the office paperwork aren’t that urgent that I have to start them at the crack of dawn. Sometimes it is easy to let doing FOR God get in the way of spending time WITH God.

The second part of the verse says “I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.” I think somewhere along the line the busy pace of life has squeezed out waiting expectantly. How wonderful that sounds, sitting at the Lord’s feet and waiting expectantly! That is the way to start any day, expecting Him to meet you there and expecting Him to walk with you through your day. Isn’t that what Mary was doing when Martha was bustling about? Why is it so easy for the Martha side of us to take over?

There is something that feels good about our Martha side. Can you picture her saying, “All of a sudden, 13 extra people showed up for dinner, with no notice, and I pulled it off! I got them all fed and saved the day!” There is a sense of accomplishment in being needed and coming through and filling apparent physical needs. It’s nice to have other people recognize you as reliable and helpful and someone they can count on. Sometimes this need for recognition or wanting to feel useful may cause us to take on things we shouldn’t. Just because we are capable of doing them, doesn’t mean we are the ones that should be doing them. God does not love us any more because we do more. He loves us because we are His. In our busy life, God is calling the Martha in us to sit down at His feet and get what she needs from Him!

That got me thinking. I wear a lot of hats. At the office, it seems that every time someone steps down from something, it has quite logically got handed over to me. The finances, the newsletter, the website, the secretarial tasks. And while I am quite capable of doing those, and have enjoyed them, some days it seems that repetitive busy work is sapping the joy out of my job. It seems I spend a lot of time with paperwork, and not enough time with people. I know that realizing this, God is preparing me for change. Not today, not next month, probably not in 2009, but I think He will have me laying down some hats in the year 2010, keeping the ones that suit me best, or maybe picking up some new ones. My heart cry is less paperwork and more people, less filing and more filling with His spirit.

As I have just finished my Associates Degree, people keep asking me “What now?” Let’s just say I am waiting expectantly….

Monday, March 16, 2009

The cry of those left behind..

This morning, as I checked my Facebook newsfeed, I was struck by an overwhelming sadness. What a sinking feeling it is to have confirmed that you have lost another church family to “somewhere else”. Over the years, we have seen it many times. People you loved, prayed for, cried with, worshipped with, attended their weddings or family funerals, rocked their babies, played volleyball with, and shared your heart with have slowly evaporated. They show up less and less, until members that have convenanted to be church members disappear without a goodbye. That leaves the rest of us in mourning. Was there something we could have done, some need we could have met, if you had but shared it? Was it something we did? Why have you left us, your church family, without so much as a goodbye, no explanation? Yes, I know that God sometimes calls us to make a church move for the growth of our family, but wouldn’t that same God want you to go to your old church family for their blessing and a release from membership? Wouldn’t He want you to say goodbye? Oh, it’s easier this way, you say as you just slowly slip away. Easier for who? For you. What about the rest of us, left feeling hurt, betrayed, confused and abandoned? Have we not invested enough of our hearts in your life to deserve a decent goodbye?

We see you at Walmart, and in politeness make pleasant conversation. Yet, inside, our heart cries out, “What have we done, why have you abandoned us?” Leaving a church is not like leaving a social club, it is leaving your family that has loved and cared for you. It’s like serving divorce papers without a chance for reconciliation, while one party has no clue there is a problem or an unmet need. Oh, dear Lord, how it hurts those left behind, like an unhealed wound that is poked again when we remember you are no longer sitting in your usual spot, or sharing your warm smile with us.

In a society rampant with divorce, people are divorcing their churches and skipping off to greener pastures. If God is really calling you to change churches, He will lead you to do it the RIGHT way, with due respect to those who have pastured you, and the people who have loved you all these years. How it must grieve God’s heart to see His children wounding their own family members by their actions. If you have ever left a church without going through the proper goodbyes, search your heart and ask God if there is a way to make that right with those you left behind. Please give us closure, a letter, a visit, a phone call, an explanation, an apology, or even a return? Leave your gift at the altar and make things right with your brothers and sisters.

Most days, I don’t even think about all those who have left, but today the overwhelming sense of loss came crashing down. To those of us left behind, may God bring healing to the wounds buried deep in our hearts. May He continue to enable us to love without fear of losing, and trust in His faithfulness to bring our church to fulfill its purposes in Him.

In His love,

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Traditionally, we think of January 1st as a good time to make resolutions and set our goals for the year. But this morning I woke up thinking February first is a good day to work on those good habits I’ve been meaning to get in order. I got myself out of bed, put the dog out, brought the paper in, started to woodstove, ran the dishwasher and made a sour cream apple cake and iced cappuccino for breakfast, muttering to myself about the state of the house (as in looking like Kansas after a tornado, and even the little dog too needed a haircut). I am not quite sure why nobody seems to notice the dishwasher is empty and the dirty dishes are overflowing the sink! But I digress….

Having done all that, I sat down to have my devotions, and opened to the book of James. I didn’t even make it through the first sentence before I needed a major attitude adjustment. “This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Ouch. A slave of God. I’m supposed to be working as unto the Lord, as my ministry to Him, not just to my family. And as busy as I am some days, I really can’t say I’m a SLAVE to my family or to God, or that I’m really serving all the time with a right attitude. OK, so not only do I have some ACTIONS that I need to get in order, I have some ATTITUDE to work on here. So let’s read on….

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way consider it an opportunity for great joy.” Hmmm, troubles come my way. Yea, I’d say so. Scott got laid off in September, the dishwasher broke once and the washing machine broke 3 times, the kids have had car troubles, and I’m in the middle of a major computer snaffoo at the office. I guess I qualify for this verse. Have I always considered it an opportunity for great joy? Nope. I’ve had some good days and some grumbling days. “For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” Oh my. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete lacking nothing.”

That’s a sermon all in itself. Let it grow. Don’t fight the circumstances that test our faith, let God use them as tools of growth in our life. Let it grow. Let our reliance on Him grow in every trouble, big and small. Consider trials an opportunity for great joy? There are days when I’ve cried over my troubles and days when I’ve laughed over them because its better than crying. But maybe I need to start asking God to help me find the GREAT JOY in the midst of them. Doesn’t that sound wonderful, having great joy when things go wrong, when life doesn’t flow smoothly and without problems like we think it should?

In verse 12, “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” Almost anyone can endure grudgingly, grumbling and complaining. But God is calling us to patiently endure, and even wants us to find GREAT JOY in the midst of it. DEAL OR NO DEAL? It’s your call….

God bless,