Archive for May, 2010

Feed My Sheep

May 28, 2010

Jesus said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”… Peter said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:17

 Our recent move has led us on a search for a church home. My prayer today was from Song of Solomon 1:7 where the bride (who I pictured as myself), asked her groom (who I pictured as Jesus) where to go to be feed and shepherded (in my words meaning direct me to a new church home).

It’s important to find a church where a shepherd pastor provides good teaching about God, his word, and life principles. It’s just as important to remember that being fed is only part of our need. We need to be involved in a church where we can feed and nurture others. Growing up on a farm I’ve seen the dangers of bloated sheep. It’s not a pretty sight. This picture comes to mind when I hear people share their desire to leave a church claiming they are not being fed. Makes me question what responsibility we have to feed ourselves and how much these people are invested in feeding others.

Pastors definitely have a responsibility to spend time in the Bible and to listen to God for direction and strategies for instructing their congregations, but they are never to become our only source for food. For me, there’s nothing as satisfying, exciting, and intimate as hearing God speak to me directly as I spend time reading the Bible and listening to him speak to me through my reading. I consider my pastor to be a supplemental resource, not my central or single resource.

I believe God provided his word to transform us, not to simply inform us. If we are open to hearing, God’s words will penetrate our hearts and impact our actions. There’s life in his word and his life is experienced as we serve, nurture, and feed others.

This is why I am praying not only for a church where I can be fed, but for a church that I can feed and shepherd others. When we realize this and feed others, we won’t find bloated sheep in church pastures.

I’m Complete

May 26, 2010

“And in him you have been made complete.” Colossians 2:10 (NASB)

It is God, not others who complete us. Let this become my motto, “I am complete, I will not compete.” You alone, O God, complete me. You give me value, significance, and purpose. Help me not to look to a spouse, family, friends, or achievements to satisfy or fulfill me. This thinking misplaces you and places a heavy and unfair burden on others. It imprisons others with the responsibility of meeting my desires and whims. This is a form of slavery and you paid a heavy price for our freedom.

Although I’m complete in you, that doesn’t dismiss my need for others or make me a lone ranger. As a babe in a manager, you knew what it was like to need others. You valued relationships and paid a high price to restore them. Like you used others in Jesus’, life, you are using others to complete you plans and purposes in me. Help me not to dismiss others but to instead receive their words, insights, and to allow them to provide a picture of how my words, behaviors, and actions impact others.

Thank you that not only am I complete in you, but you’ve promised that you won’t stop working in my earthly life until your work in me is completed on the day that Christ Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6). That’s one incredible promise that I plan to hold onto even on those days when I question if anything valuable was completed.

Breath of Life

May 25, 2010

God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7

God, a master artist, picks up a handful of dirt as the first material in his creation. Nothing special about dirt, not an exciting substance with much value. It’s common, easily accessible, and seemingly insignificant. Yet, what happens next is life giving. God breaths his very own breath into the dirt, and humanity is born. We are God-breathed, created in God’s image, his image bearers. When God looks at us he immediately sees his reflection and image.

Somehow, since the fall in the Garden, we’ve lost our ability to see God’s very breath and likeness within us and others. How do I become free from the fallen nature and its faulty misperceptions? How do I flee from the deception Adam and Eve embraced in Eden and return to God’s view of myself and others as gemstones of creation, loved and adored children whose value was established and secured at Calvary. 

How does knowing I’m God’s craftsmanship on display help me fight the tendency to compare and measure my body with today’s cultural values and images? Why do I dislike these curvy hips that make pant shopping such a nightmare? A sales clerk recently observed my frustration and pointing to my hips said to me, “these are your curves, you need to love them.” Was there a message whispered from God to me in her words?

Father, continue to remind me that a common substance such as dirt, when made alive by your breath, reflects your image. Like Adam and Eve, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of looking to sources other than you to find beauty, satisfaction and value. As that deception fills my thoughts, let your truth redirect me to David’s words in Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful.”

Re-Examining Wrong

May 25, 2010

For years God has directed me to the Isaiah 30:15 verse that states, “In returning and rest shall ye be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” I knew this verse was an answer to my problem, but I never knew what it meant, that is until today.

While studying today I discovered that fearing God has nothing to do with being afraid, it simply means understanding that God’s intentions towards me are always loving and his actions towards me are always good. So whatever comes, God acts lovingly and works good in my life. This understanding helps me to redirect my initial opposition to undesired situations and to keep my heart resting because I’m confident that he is at work.

This is a breakthrough for me. I have this pattern of immediately judging situations that I dislike as wrong and needing to be fixed. This faulty thinking becomes a slippery and sinful descent into negativity and judgment. Accusations form in my mind and I become angry at individuals who haven’t acted in a way or manner that I personally like or approve.

Now I may not like the situations that arise, the choices people make, or the consequences that result, but God promises to work through whatever happens to produce good in me and in my life. So instead of wondering why God’s protective hand didn’t prevent this situation, I can instead look to see how God is working good in the midst of my undesired circumstances.

Nothing stops God from working. God responded to Adam and Eve’s sinful action in the Garden by putting his redemptive plan into place. Leave it to God not to need ideal circumstances, but to work his loving intentions and actions in the midst of the real and undesirable situations we face.

Prayer

Help me release my faulty misperceptions and demanding expectations of life, of others, and of myself. Teach me live in anticipation of the good you are doing in my life and in the world.

Love Came Down

May 20, 2010

He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:7 (NASB)

My husband’s new job drew us to CA. An exciting new adventure, surroundings, and increased warmth and sunshine awaited us. Reflecting back, I believe we needed a new life chapter. Some inner longing wasn’t satisfied and we believed a new environment would provide our wings a place to expand and grow.

Although the move became a downsize, two moving trucks carried our belongings to storage and we drove out with our car filled to the ceiling. I’ll be honest, my heart ached leaving behind 3 drop dead gorgeous French armoires, exquisite furnishings, and a floral painting that was a spectacular work of art.

I don’t want to dismiss my loss but I want to view life with a healthy and meaningful perspective. There’s nothing wrong with possessing things. You’re in trouble when they possess you. We are not to measure our value by things or accomplishments and instead are to measure our worth by Christ’s love and sacrifice for us.

When Christ left heaven he came empty of possession, no moving trucks preceded him.

He left a face-to-face relationship with his father to become an infant dependent upon the care of others for his daily survival. He released the opportunities and privileges of heaven to become a man. He surrendered the use of his abilities only to act at his father’s instruction and direction. This directed him to Calvary.

What motivated our move is not wrong, but I won’t claim pure motives. Yes, I downsized, but many possessions accompanied me. Nonetheless, I traveled here loved. Loved so much that Christ emptied himself of everything in order to pursue and possess a loving relationship with me.

I want to live in a fuller awareness of how much I’m loved.

Cost of Intimacy

May 18, 2010

You left your father and mother and your homeland…Ruth 2:11 (NIV)

I wonder if earth ever felt like home for Christ. Adjusting to a new environment is overwhelming and physically and emotionally exhausting. I used my GPS today to find a gas station where I could purchase a local map. Although my GPS got me to my location, I don’t feel like I know where I am.

 The journey to a new home helps me to catch glimpses into what Christ experienced in order to have an intimate relationship with me. Imagine leaving the ideal father and a picture perfect family environment. Physically separating yourself from their loving embraces in order to gather up and return estranged family members to their lost home.

The cost of what Christ left behind is multiplied by what he took on. Living on earth cost him the physical pain of Golgotha and the emotional pain of hatred, desertion, and abandonment.

I love that Christ never asks us to do anything that he hasn’t done. He willingly left home and family, endured the physical pain of abuse, and the devastating loss of a loved one. His pure and perfect intentions were questioned, doubted, and misunderstood. His sacrifice was publically mocked, mangled and massacred.

Remembering how much Christ paid to establish an intimate relationship with me, reminds me that my only true home is smack dab in the center of his will. Any journey that he leads is destined to bring me home.

New Life

May 14, 2010

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Isaiah 43:18

My friend Amy is six month’s pregnant. You can look at her and know immediately that new life is forming within her. Like Amy, God is birthing new life in me. The challenge is that in order for God to birth the new, he has to strip the old.

On our journey from Washington to California, I observed beautiful mountains. Seeing areas stripped of trees, I was initially filled with sadness. The forest appeared naked and exposed. That sadness was released when I realized the harvested trees now served a different purpose. Their time of growth concluded which allowed them to fill a need somewhere else. Their removal allowed the planting of new seedlings which now take root below ground in the sunshine and open space. These tender new plants never would have survived under the canopy of the earlier trees.

When I experience stripping of past securities, comforts, possessions, I need to not allow the longing for the beauty of the past to hinder the growth of the new.

  •  What dreams, people, or longings do you need to release?
  • Are you clinging to anything that hinders you from experiencing new life?

Rest

May 2, 2010

In returning and rest shall you be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be your strength. Isaiah 30:15

While visiting a dear friend and young mother, her youngest child woke early from an afternoon nap. She came into the room and made a beeline for her mother. She crawled into her mother’s lap and cuddled in. Her body melted into her mother’s embrace. I could see a state of quiet and calm wash over her.

Rest occurs in the heart and transcends the mind and body. This little girl’s rest is in the relationship she had with her mother. When I see myself held safely in my Father’s embrace and secure in his love, my heart finds rest.

Releasing to Trust

May 1, 2010

Oh my God, in You I trust. Psalm 25:2

Releasing the past to move forward is challenging. Our view of the future is always limited. When entering a journey of trust, there is more certainty of what one leaves behind than what lies ahead. Although it’s natural, even human, to desire and ask for clarity, there are times when God asks us to move forward, not with clarity, but in trust. The foundation of faith is a confidence in God, not in calculated plans and predicted outcomes.

Our challenge is determining whether we are stalling for clarity when we are to move forward in trust. Has clarity replaced trust and become a competitor to confidence in God? Are you living in trust or confident that our plans and calculation will be favorable and bring out the outcomes we desire?