Friday, March 30, 2012

Hopelessly Devoted to WHO?

1 Chronicles 28:9-13
New International Version (NIV)

 9 “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.”

Wholehearted devotion - completely and sincerely determined or enthusiastic; free of all reserve or hesitation; marked by complete earnest commitment.

Willing mind - inclined or favorably disposed in thought, intention, desire

Grease - A movie that touched a generation.  I was very young when Mom and Aunt Becky took me to the movies to see that film - due in large part to the "no babysitter" effect. I LOVED that movie.  I was the first sound track I ever purchased with my own money. I knew every word to every song.  I was gonna be that tall blond girl with the cool accent that fell in love with the cute bad boy, turned him to good and then wore amazing black leather pants as we sung to each other at the graduation carnival. I was in love with the idea of musical love.  Then came life. The cruelty of Jr. High.  The romantic roller coaster of high school.  I am lucky. I met my best friend  when I was 17 and we were married a few years later. Matt is amazing. He loves you so much God, and me and our kids. I am so glad that we came to understand early that our first love has to be you God.

But you first means...well you first. I want to offer wholehearted devotion.  I want to offer a willing mind.  Possible in my strength -never.  I hesitate. I am sometimes afraid.  I fret when I should pray.  I talk to myself instead of talking with and listening to you my Father. I get busy with bills, and work, and school, and kids, and friends, and church and life - sometimes I get so busy that you, King of Kings, go from first thought to no thought at all. You search my heart - that inner most part that makes me, well me.  And you understand my desires and my thoughts.  The good, the bad, the real junk that I try to keep away from others. You know how much I love you and how I really do want to be more like you and less like me.  Some days are better than others.  How cool to know that when I go looking for  you God, then you will make sure that I can find you . It's scary too though, to know that if I turn my back on you - well lets just say it won't be pretty. You have chosen me for - something.  I have not been called to build your temple, but what about building your kingdom. I know I wont change the world, but I can make a difference in one person's world.  For my kids, my husband, the people you put in my path.  I want to be strong and do the work. I wish you'd give me a plan. Well actually I wish you'd just give me the specific details of this plan. But if I had all the details I wouldn't need faith - and I know what a big fan of "faith" you are!

So even tho this was fatherly advice I will apply it to my life. Today. Right now.
Search my heart.
Reveal yourself.
Correct me, love me, inspire me. 
I love you.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Your Killing Me Philemon

Philemon 1:8-22   The Message
In line with all this I have a favor to ask of you. As Christ's ambassador and now a prisoner for him, I wouldn't hesitate to command this if I thought it necessary, but I'd rather make it a personal request. While here in jail, I've fathered a child, so to speak. And here he is, hand-carrying this letter—Onesimus! He was useless to you before; now he's useful to both of us. I'm sending him back to you, but it feels like I'm cutting off my right arm in doing so. I wanted in the worst way to keep him here as your stand-in to help out while I'm in jail for the Message. But I didn't want to do anything behind your back, make you do a good deed that you hadn't willingly agreed to. Maybe it's all for the best that you lost him for a while. You're getting him back now for good—and no mere slave this time, but a true Christian brother! That's what he was to me—he'll be even more than that to you. So if you still consider me a comrade-in-arms, welcome him back as you would me. If he damaged anything or owes you anything, chalk it up to my account. This is my personal signature—Paul—and I stand behind it. (I don't need to remind you, do I, that you owe your very life to me?) Do me this big favor, friend. You'll be doing it for Christ, but it will also do my heart good. I know you well enough to know you will. You'll probably go far beyond what I've written. And by the way, get a room ready for me. Because of your prayers, I fully expect to be your guest again.

So here's the deal.  There was an unproductive slave (that I have always thought to be lazy) who ran away.  His name was Onesimus and at some point he met up with Paul, heard the Gospel and was saved.  Onesimus attended to Paul's needs for a while and the two men became close friends. Then Paul sent Onesimus back to his owner - a guy named Philemon who was also Paul's friend. This letter makes me laugh...Paul says stuff like "I could order you but instead I am asking you", which is where I read "DON'T MAKE ME ORDER YOU". Paul says he will cover the mans debt and adds "I don't need to remind you about the debt you owe me do I"  and I read "YOU OWE ME TOO - I AM REMINDING YOU"  Is Paul using guilt in this letter to his friend?  I can just picture Onesimus showing up with this letter - probably nervous and rightfully so.  God had done mighty things in his life, but there was still the matter of the earthly consiquence for earthly actions prior to salvation.  I can also see Philemon reading this letter and shaking his head, maybe rolling his eyes a bit and straining a small smile - because that is exactly what I would do. 

The truth is I have an Onesimus in my life.  No. This person was not my slave, but they were in my life and they did prove "useless" to me. I have little patience for people who claim Christ and then spit in His face with an unchanged life and character that in no way speaks to the salvation they claim. This person was harmful to me and to my family.  They went out of their way to be ugly in my specific direction, excluding and cruel. Where my Onesimus stands with God right now I do not know. I don't wish them harm or hell, but I have wished that we would never have to share space again on this side of heaven. I also have someone in my life that in many ways is my Paul. I love her, I treasure her, she has invested in me and extended grace to me. She is friends with my Onesimus - though I have often wondered why! How would I feel and what would I do if my friend sent me this type of letter?  If my friend said to me, "Count their debt as my debt, I will cover their obligations; welcome them, embrace them, forgive them, love them" what would I do really?  Roll my eyes and shake my head - yeah that would probably happen.  But I would think about it, I would pray over it and I am guessing that in the end the Holy Spirit and I would agree that there was work still to be done and the work that is needed is in me.

So, do I wait for the letter from my "Paul", or do I simply apply the truth of the original and agree right now with what God is whispering in my ear?  What do you think?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Change Your Life Not Just Your Clothes

Joel 2: 12 - 13   The Message

But there's also this, it's not too late—
   God's personal Message!—
"Come back to me and really mean it!
   Come fasting and weeping, sorry for your sins!"
 13-14Change your life, not just your clothes.
   Come back to God, your God.
And here's why: God is kind and merciful.
   He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot,
This most patient God, extravagant in love,
   always ready to cancel catastrophe.

"Change your life not just your clothes"

How much time do I spend thinking about what I will wear each day?  The hair, the makeup, the outfit, the shoes, the necklace, the nailpolish - with spring time warmth comes the need for my toes to match! Who will I see, what will we be doing, how long will I be on my feet?  Professional or casual?  Short sleeves, long sleeves, flip flops or boots? Am I dressing for a few hours or for a busy day and evening.  Here's the truth...that's all about what people see and not at all about who I am.   I have heard it said that "Just 'cause you feel bad doesn't mean you need to look bad" and at an early age I began to buy into the idea that regardless of my inner status, what people saw was what mattered. That's all about the package and not at all about what's inside the box.   People can be fooled.

God is smarter than that.  God knows when I am "dressing for church" on Sundays.  God knows when I am doing the "church thing" with "church people".  God knows when I want His love, His forgiveness, and His blessing...but not His authority, His way, or His standard.  But the cool thing is that in spite of my fake face and my fake sorrow and my real disobedience God still loves me.  He is "kind and merciful.  He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot. This most patient God, extravagant in love is always ready to cancel caststrophe"  For me there isn't time to waste.  I don't know how many chances I will have. Today could be the day that God calls me home, or tomorrow, or the next day.  I wont risk my eternity on the chance that I may get a do over with God somewhere down the line.  So God help me today.  Continue to work your change in me.  You know who I'll meet today - help me to be the kind of Bible you would be proud to have them read.  I want your character to be more clear than my clothes.  I want your love to be the first thing I put on. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Have I Forgot

Have I Forgot

Psalms 106

But they soon forgot what He (God) had done and did not wait for His counsel.


They gave into their cravings, they grew envious, they exchanged God the creator for less than idols, they forgot God, and they despised the blessings God had provided.  They did not believe, did not obey, and joined themselves to less than holy things.  They provoked God and angered Him.  They united with the ungodly and adopted ungodly behaviors.  They elevated other things above God.  They mistreated their family and gave them up for things that were not of God. They harmed innocents. They dirtied and lessened themselves on purpose.  They were intentional in their sin and it only got worse and worse.


But He (God) took note of their distress when He heard their cry; for their sake He remembered His covenant and out of His great love He relented.


How many times have I been "soon to forget what God has done"? 

How many times have I willfully, sinfully chased after my cravings?

God requires that He is first.  I sacrifice that.  I sometimes grumble. I sometimes disobey.  I have united myself with things that are less than Gods best.  I have sacrificed my family for selfish tho at times "godly" endeavors.  While I have never worshiped Baal - my relationships with food, my credit card, the mall, my hobbies (as I write this we are in the throes of March Madness) and even my family and friends have at times usurped my relationship with my creator.  God wants to be first all of the time.  Family matters, work and friends are important too.  But make no mistake God gets mad, really mad, when I twist what was meant to be secondary and make it the most important thing in my life.  How do I know what’s important. I look at my schedule and at my bank statement.  If it matters to me I make the time for it, and I find the money for it.   Today I am thankful that "out of His great love He relented".  Today and everyday God please let my first word, my first thought, be with you...and keep me by your side all day.