Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 31, 2011

I'm not an excellent baker. I barely squeak by as a Kraft-macaroni-preparer. Despite this, I am still spoken to when yeast is referenced in the Bible. From my (limited) understanding, yeast is a reactant used to cause rising in doughs. Yeast reproduces rapidly and dies upon baking. Dough containing yeast that is not carefully monitored has the potential to rise out of control. It came up this morning in Galatians 5:9- "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." The context of the verse is a letter of encouragement from Paul (because, to my knowledge, Paul pretty much only wrote letters of encouragement). In this portion, he is warning against lies and manipulations that are not in keeping with Christ's word. It takes a relatively small amount of yeast to produce a large reaction in a large batch. A small lie does not only affect its one department. A small lie gives your mind permission to manipulate truth, which can't NOT take effect on the whole person. Yeast is also mentioned from Jesus's mouth in Luke 13:20. In this passage, however, it's used to describe the Kingdom of God. The same interpretation of small agent produces large reaction fits here in a positive way, with so many facets. A small amount of Word produces such large life changes in its reader. A small act of love produces deeper trust in a relationship. A small amount of believers in the earth are responsible for filling such a large population. Believers are called to distribute ourselves amongst people and to be the reactive agents there. We are responsible for doing the work that causes rise around us. We are to be the yeast of God's earth. Romans 1:20 says that God's wonders can be understood by what He has made. It makes me wonder- Did Jesus and Paul coincidentally find these parallels about yeast, or did God design yeast to be inspired by His kingdom at work?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jew Dimaggio? Coco Christ?

I'm losing sight of my Christ lately because of the cultural gap that separates me from his walk on our earth. I want to appreciate who he is, I really do, I just can't see him today.
Therefore, I'm going outside the box to place Jesus in the culture I do see.
What would I think of Jesus if he hadn't been a carpenter 2000 years before my time?
What if Jesus had come to earth as a baseball player in the 21st century?
As a man without err, Jesus would have a 1.00 career batting average. The second-place holder in history books would be Ty Cobb, with a not-so-near .367.
Ed Walsh has the lowest ERA in man's history, allowing an average of 1.82 runs per game. That's 1.82 more than Jesus would have let through.
If you can remember the hype that electrifies our media when a star athlete is on the rise - Remember Tiger Woods? Remember Michael Jordan? Michael Phelps? The 1996 USA Women's Gymnastics team? The 1996 Chicago Bulls? The 1996 everything? (It was a good year for sports.) Take a minute to fathom the sensationalism that would surround a promising athlete who had never failed. Never taken second place. You know that energy that surrounds a pitcher who has yet to give up a hit in the 7th inning? Imagine a pitcher that never gave up a hit... ever. Our focus would become a magnet to this athlete. A great amount of media attention would be given to speculation and anticipation of the error we are sure is to come.

And then, what if it didn't? Would we continue to praise and support someone who never did fail? Would we get bored with the predictability? Would we make accusations that the athlete is using steroids or bribing officials, because we are just that uncomfortable with someone being that much better than us?

How easy it would be to capture my attention if Jesus were a baseball player. But, then again, how easy it would still be for me to take him for granted. How easy it would be for him to be persecuted again.

I'm praying this morning that I not take Christ for granted. I cannot fully appreciate the way he sacrificed his body (and not just in death, but in his lifestyle - regularly denying his flesh the ways of the world) until I am prepared to deny mine as well. I can deny my body its desires by waking up earlier than I would naturally to spend time in the Word. I can deny my body its desires by withholding dinner for an evening. I can deny my body its desires by making larger monetary contributions, when really all I want is to put every dime into remodeling our house.

I believe I am one person in three parts: body, soul, and spirit. My spirit is where the Holy Spirit is housed within me, as I am a saved believer. My soul is my mind+heart place where I interpret reality. I can choose to interpret reality using my body or my spirit. Body and spirit are polar opposites - to deny one is to accept the other. When I turn my back on my body's wants, by default I am running to the spirit. And guess who's there waiting.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Monday, January 18, 2011

Doing a study on the book of Mark, and I'm just coming up with too clear of understanding to not document.
Today's progress:

Mark 10:46-52
Jesus's choice of words in verse 52 interests me. Not "I have healed you," (although this would be a true statement), but "Your faith has healed you." Jesus seemed to have a way of making his ability known without directly demanding praise for himself. Jesus gives Bartimaeus sight not because of his own mercy or grace, but because of Bartimaeus's faith. What I gain from this is that our spiritual lives reflect a self-fulfilling prophecy. Jesus performs to the same degree we expect of him. Later on, in Mark 11:24, Jesus says, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
This leads me to: Why would the God-man share his glory with us? Why give us credit for faith when the true work being done is on his end? My best response is that he loves us and wants to encourages our faith. What could be more encouraging than to see results credited to your effort? I'll liken it to parenting- when Carson asks politely for a drink, I do not hand it to him and tell him, "I, O mighty mother, have provided this drink for you from self-sacrifice and love, and it is right that you ask politely because you are eternally indebted to me." I simply hand it over and say, "Thank you for asking nicely." Reinforcing good behavior never fails to elicit more good behavior.

Mark 12:13-17
Jesus is clarifying for the legalistic ones whether or not to pay taxes. After all, Jesus is a rebel who challenges the norms of culture. Jesus answers the question by looking at a coin of the day. It is stamped (engraved? chiseled? etched?) with the image of Caesar. Mark 12:17 "Then Jesus said to them, 'Give to Caeasar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." The coin bore the image of Caesar, but man bears the image of God.
Background info on the image of God:
God Himself is a trinity - Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
Man is a trinity - spirit, Soul, Body
No other living creation is a trinity. Dogs have bodies, and you could argue that dogs have souls (who hasn't seen a dog "cry" or pout?). But there is no question that dogs do not have spirits. The spirit (little s) is the vessel within a man that is capable of receiving the Holy Spirit (big S), should the man accept. Dogs do not know Jesus, and are not capable of carrying his Spirit within them.
Man alone bears God's image, because man alone is a trinity capable of carrying the Holy Spirit. (FYI, I believe angels are not trinities. They have spirit and soul, but no body.)
Back to Mark 12:17. The coin bears the image of Caesar, and thus belongs to Caesar. We bear the image of God, and thus belong to God.
Send the money away, Jesus says. Let Caesar collect the metal currency he so favors, this currency has no bearing in the Kingdom of God. Keep yourself reserved for the Lord, as this is the treasure He most seeks.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November 23, 2010

Thinking about forgiveness tonight, and how badly I struggle with bringing my heart to forget transgressions that haven't been atoned. I can forgive a person that's sorry. I can forgive a person that is ignorant. But I struggle a lot more with forgiving a person that is knowingly and intentionally hurting me on a regular basis without any showing of remorse. God commanded me to forgiveness today, and I responded with a "butbutbut" - How do I forgive someone that continues to offend? I find myself asking God to equip me with proper forgiveness to this person, so that I may speak the word forgiveness to him and let it ring true in my soul.

But that's not how it works.

It doesn't need to ring true in my soul, I don't need to "feel" it.
Forgiveness is truthfully a lot more like love- real, weathered love. Love is not something that I speak of and am magically filled with the feeling of. Love is something that I am privileged to speak of because I work for it.

Example: Carson is going through a crazy, trying stage right now (I've heard it's called "being 2"). I can't recall the last day that he didn't experience some kind of time-out. Before, during, and after every time-out I have ever given him, I affirm over and over, "I love you."
And it's not a lie.
I love him while I'm spanking him, I love him while I'm confining him to his bedroom, I love him while we're having serious talkings-to. I love him through the process, in spite of his behavior.

It is possible to love someone "through the process" of unloveable behavior.
So my logic says it must be possible to forgive someone through the process of hurtful behavior.

I don't speak it into existence, and it doesn't always feel peaceful in my soul, but so long as I am resolved to working through the process, I must be in a state of forgiveness.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Zach & I have always assumed that a dog would eventually be a part of our family. We spent some time searching for the perfect puppy last year, only to decide that we were too near our honeymoon to bring a dog in, move it out for a week to a kennel, and then bring it back in. So we decided to wait until we got home from Vegas. We got home from Vegas pregnant. Then we decided that I would probably be too exhausted while chasing three kids and in school to bother with training a puppy (and we were right. I was too exhausted). So we chose to hold off until Codie was no longer a newborn and our family was a little more settled. That time is now.

Call it an act of God (but it would really ruin the end of this story if you did), my sister found a stray dog Sunday night. He fits the description of last year's search for the Perfect Dog to a T. Short hair, non-shedding, Yorkie (with a bit of Schnauzer), over a year old, out of the chewing stage, previously owned and potty trained, great with kids, etc. It's such a perfect fit it hurts.

Here's why it really hurts - someone else in my family (namely, a precious 3-year-old) has also fallen in love with Perfect Dog (who, to protect her identity, shall be referred to as "Rhubarb" from here forward - the dog, not the child).
I spent a good amount of time last night and this morning mentally pitching the perfect argument as to why we've been wanting this dog before we even knew it was available, and why we deserve it more, etc. etc. It felt as though the Rhubarb of our dreams stumbled right into our lives, yet was being stolen from under our noses.
And then I changed my mind.
Knowing that I'd rather lose adding to Rhubarb to our family than lose a relationship with an existing member, God ordered me to let it go.

Amazing thing happens when you change your mind.
In my mind, Rhubarb went from being "stolen from under our noses" to a precious gift for a precious 3-year-old (who really does have too rampant of an imagination to NOT have a Rhubarb yet). Having something beloved stolen from you is painful, but giving something beloved to someone beloved is joyous.
Change your mind.

At house church a few weeks ago, we talked about repenting. A basic definition of repent is to change your mind.

I'm just now understanding what Sister Hazel meant in their great 90s song:
"If you want to be somebody else, change your mind."
Me of last night is a different somebody than the me of today.

Repent, change your mind, be somebody else - somebody willingly transformed in Christ.

Monday, August 2, 2010

August 2, 2010

Never expected to relate to an Adam Lambert song, but my theme today is "What do you want from me?"
I've had this notion for the past couple of weeks that I need to learn to speak Spanish. I feel that it would make me a much more valuable witness and volunteer (someday). I prayed on this Friday night and very clearly heard back, "Why learn to talk to them if you don't know how to speak to them?"
One of my signature strengths/weaknesses (because they are the same thing, after all) is that I am horribly uncomfortable around people unlike myself. I tend to take on the personality of my company and often end up misrepresenting myself. I can get away with this when the company I keep is similar enough to me, but it's the core reason why I'm scared to diversify my life. It's not that I fear other cultures, it's that I fear offending these people/making an idiot of myself by trying too hard to relate. Just think of Steve Carrell in... well, any role he's ever played. Remember the episode of The Office with Prison Mike? Exactly. He's at least taller than 5'1 to back up some of that facade.
So the point is, God needs me to not just learn the language. He needs me to learn to represent Him and myself strongly and without compromise. I decided that I'd put off learning the language until I'm in a stronger position. Then I passed a sign yesterday advertising free Spanish lessons on Saturday mornings.

How in the world do you decide if something is a sign from God, or a sign that you're looking too far into things?

I decided to go ahead and proceed with Spanish lessons. We get free Rosetta Stone (thank you, USAF) and I've talked to a lot of other people interested in learning. The idea here is to be fluent in communicating with other cultures before I become fluent in talking to Spanish-speakers.

How do you know God's on my side today? I babysat 6 kids aged 5 & under, wasn't tempted to beat any of them, and didn't even cry! Progress!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July 13, 2010

Guess who's back... Back again...

Alright, here's the thing - I'm burned out on formalities. I've been way too concerned with the formal text of these blogs, and way too concerned with having a new and relevant topic on a daily basis. This is not how God operates. I don't have a coin-operated God. He does not dispense wisdom on demand when I put a quarter in. He dispenses wisdom when my life experience brings me to my knees in the realization that I have no idea what I'm doing- that this world is not designed for me to sustain without Him.

That being said, how in the world can I command a daily revelation from the Lord? The pressure of forcing myself into "growth" every day, just for the sake of a blog, does nothing to glorify Him. The pressure of filling an hour of focused, moving prayer while not allowing the kids to kill themselves or each other does nothing to glorify God. Rather, in my personal life, it's disrespectful to Him. The Lord has put under my responsibility four children that deserve to see Him operating in love - not to be pacified and distracted by TV for an hour so I can have alone time. His will for me as a caretaker and mother simply does not coincide with my former will for me as an all-star contributor to the DNI team.

The point is, I am shedding structured expectations of my walk with my Father. We may spend 5 hours together some days, we may spend 5 minutes together others. Who can put a standard of time over the Creator of time? I may advance leaps and bounds with God some days (today), some days we may be lucky to tread water (the last month). Who can measure whether God is at work?

I'm so tired of attempting to live up to these self-imposed expectations of what God needs to be doing for me. I'm so tired of feeling like a failure when I haven't pushed Him enough. I'm so tired of forcing my life with Him, instead of just living it.

I have no idea when I'll update next. But I can guarantee that when I do, it'll finally be God speaking instead of me.