Sunday, December 1, 2013

For to us a child is born, 
to us a child is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.  
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
Isaiah 9:6

For most of us, December is a month of frenzied holiday hustle and bustle.  And all too often, December 26th arrives, and we are suddenly hit with the sinking reality that the Christmas season has passed us by, yet again, in the blink of an eye.  One moment we are joyfully celebrating the season with all our hearts, souls, and minds; only a moment later, Christmas is clearanced, as Valentines Day fills those void shelves.  If we put our hopes solely in this season, we will be let down every time.  Instead, this Christmas season, let us reflect on the reason for the season; the arrival of the Prince of Peace.  I know peace well, because I have been on the hunt for it for years.  Once upon a time, I greatly cherished my quiet, peaceful hours after work; they were a great treasure to me.  And then we decided to have a child or six.  When the kids were young, there were still a few peaceful hours to be had, at a glorious time also known as naptime.  But as the children grew, my dismay grew as naptime all but disappeared and I seemingly kissed any and all quiet, peaceful moments goodbye indefinately in a house of 6 very busy children, 4 of them all noise and dirt, also known as boys.  For many years, I was on this fruitless hunt for a peaceful and quiet moment that I couldn't will to exist, no matter how hard I tried; I couldn't wake up earlier then them, since they woke up at the first ray of sun in the sky, and by their bedtime, I was collapsing from exhaustion myself.  I was beaten; I realized my hunt for peace was futile.  And then mercifully, the Prince of Peace intervened and turned my thinking rightside up, as he taught me the truth about peace.  The peace He brings is not that in the midst of the most perfect of circumstances.  When news of the Messiah being born reached the people, a future of peace was celebrated.  When our King and Savior was revealed, most believed that chaos and strife would cease forever under His sovereign rule.  And what shock and disappointment followed when he died on the cross instead; it appeared that their chance of peace had slipped right out of their hands and died on that cross with Jesus.  But what no doubt was great commotion and grief actually became a finished work, as Jesus overcame death and the world.  The peace He has gifted us with is not the feeling we have on those Christmases of our lives; on the contrary, it is the peace we can and will find on those despairing clearanced-Christmas days that too quickly follow suit.  Life's troubles may take a holiday hiatus, but when they come back-and they a freight train, He promises us a peace that surpasses all understanding.   I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world, you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  John 16:33  This season and all seasons, praise God for sending us the Prince of Peace!  And praise Jesus for the gift of peace he has made complete; a  peace that coexists in the craziest of chaos; a peace found in even the most lowly of places; the peace of our hearts as they rest permanantly in the quiet place with Him.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Number One

(This is something God has been working on me in regards to my very busy schedule the last few years.  I want to do it all, and I love to somehow{madly} cram a ton of activities into a tight schedule.  The last few years have been a whirlwind-where I have felt like I was either coming or going.  And I found myself expressing to God my daily excuse of "I am just so busy and don't have time for Bible and is not my fault though"  Thankfully, God has given me a few swift kicks in the seat of my pants, as He has convicted me of some of these truths, while also helping me weed my schedule.)

Young adults are leaving Christianity, and not looking back, at an alarming rate.  One such article in Christianity today ( stated "Imagine a group photo of all the students who come to your church (or live within your community of believers) in a typical year. Take a big fat marker and cross out three out of every four faces. That's the probable toll of spiritual disengagement as students navigate through their faith during the next two decades."  Why is Christianity being hit so hard?  And what is the reason for it?  Perhaps a better question though may be where have these young adults put their faith?   Might they not be abandoning their faith, but instead following a faith that was much more faithfully taught in their homes?

Many Christians dutifully attend a weekly service at church.  Many others add a Wednesday Bible study to the mix.  God's glory is proudly proclaimed and Jesus' gift to us is highly revered. We pray prayers, we sing songs, and we listen as our pastor extrapolates easily digestible portions of scripture to us.  And an hour later, we leave with a warm, fuzzy feeling, sure that God loves us.  But what god are we truly following once we walk out those doors, the other 111 awake hours we have a week?  Who or what is true king in our lives?  Who or what gets the majority of our time and energy?

These days, kids' schedules are not just busy, they are absolutely crammed with every experience/activity to be had.  First, at an early age, it is assumed that we need to enroll our children in a smattering of this and that, until we can find their key interests and strengths.  And once our child excels at a sport or activity, it is assumed that we, as the parents, must now be willing to sacrifice anything and everything in order for our child to graduate to the next level of experiences.  Practices and games and classes and camps and recitals and lessons and scouts and clubs take a key place in our overwhelming schedules.  We do not want to deny our children; we want to give our children the very best the world has to offer for them.  And so we run from here to there, squeezing in every experience we possibly can into the times we have available.   It slowly but surely takes over our lives.  Our world revolves around these experiences.  Our childrens' world revolves around these experiences. 

Where does our Christianity fit into this hyperactive, overscheduled life of ours?  Where does Jesus get squeezed in?  Suddenly, without even knowing it, we are worshipping these activities instead of He who we owe our very lives to.  We are giving those 111 other awake hours to the created world instead of the Creator.  And ultimately, we are instilling in our childrens' hearts the only truth they might ever know; that we come first.  Our dreams.  Our goals.  Our aspirations.  Our experiences.  They are of the utmost of priorities; they are at the top tier.  And then God comes second...or third...or fourth....or fifth; basically wherever He can be snuck in.

Why are young adults fleeing from the church in droves?  Because they are chasing the after the only faith they really understand and appreciate--their faith in wordliness.  The one and true faith that has been stamped upon their hearts; the only faith that has brought them to times of pain, blood, sweat and tears; the faith that has called for great sacrifice in their lives; the faith that is their sole focus; the faith that they would lay down their lives for.

When we make it our life mission to give our children the very best of every opportunity, all the time hoping we are setting our children up for great worldly success, we are in retrospect setting them up for great spiritual failure.  They very plainly see that our words about God are merely lip service; for our faith is not what we say, but how we live.  And our lives certainly do not showcase God.  They are about success and winning and pride and goals and awards and achievement.   For one hour a week, we proclaim God's number one spot in our lives, to promptly run out the door and spend the rest of the week chasing the best of what the world has to offer us and our children.  Our children witness how we spend each and every one of those awake hours and where our loyalty falls, and their hearts align accordingly.  They begin to pursue the lived faith of their family.  And when all is said and done, an hour a week at church is not going to point them towards God, save them, nor will it transform them, and it certainly will not convince them they need to attend once they are out on their own.

Christianity is not an insurance policy we say yes to-to then be tucked safely away until its needed. Christianity is not a weekly check mark given for attending church service.  Christianity is not a daily Our Father and a blessing given at dinner time.  Christianity is a life changing, live giving, transformational, daily relationship with the One who created us.  But like all relationships, we need to dedicate time and work and effort to it.  It's a relationship that requires the kind of dedication we give to sports and dance and scouts and music.  A relationship we should be willing to sacrifice for.  A relationship that comes first and not last in our day to day priorities.  A relationship that Jesus was willing to shed blood for.

It is time to clear our schedules of the clutter and teach our kids Who has first place in our hearts; Who rightly sits in the throne of our lives.  We don't need to give up everything (our Father is not one who demands we sit home 24/7 with Bibles glued to our hands), but He does rightly desire the firstfruits of our day to day and not the leftovers.  He yearns for us to spend daily time in His word and in prayer, so that He can chip away at our worldliness, impart His true wisdom, and then send us off to walk the daily walk.  It is time to show our children that when we saunter out those church doors, our hearts and minds faithfully remain in Him the other 111 awake hours of the week and that we faithfully display to our children that nothing can take His place as the foundation of our lives.  Let us instill to our children that although their activities may be fun, they are not our number one priority, nor should they be theirs. Lord, let us live in a way that our thoughts, actions and words always showcase to our children, as well as the rest of the world, that You, and You alone, rightfully and reverently hold the Number One spot in our lives.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

12 New Living Translation (NLT)

Proverbs 14:12

12There is a path before each person that seems right,  but it ends in death.


Amplified Bible (AMP)

Colossians 3:2

And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.


New Living Translation (NLT)

1 John 2:15-17

15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.    

New blog

I am starting this blog as a way to organize my thoughts as to all the new things God/Jesus/Holy Spirit is teaching me day by day!   These are convictions about my life (and my weaknesses); God's work in my daily life.  I am flawed.  I am weak.  I am sinful.  I am a royal mess.    Yet He continues His great work in transforming me.   Slowly, painstakingly, he chips away at all my ugliness, replacing it with a life-giving beauty.  And slowly, but surely, it is out with the old and in with the new.  As He shines His light on the ugly little bits of my life, I will blog about it and hopefully these little bits of His wisdom can transform others as well.