Sunday, June 30, 2013

My Delight is in You

This morning at church we sang a song by the Passion Band called “My Delight is in You” (by the way, if you don’t know who Passion is I would fix that right away… amazing music!)  Anyway, we sang a song that we have sung before but this morning the lyrics seemed so close, if that makes any sense. 

I generally cannot sit still during worship.  I sway/move to the music and many times will raise my hands to the Lord.  When I do this it always feels like I am doing it to express honor/awe and give glory to my Jesus.  

However, this morning it felt completely different. 

We were in the middle of the song and I am singing with all of my heart.  As we get to the chorus I raise my arms and begin to sing the words, “here I am, open arms, draw me close to Your heart, You’re my life, You’re my refuge, my delight, my delight is in You, my delight is in You”.  In that moment I had the most surreal feeling.  I felt as though I was lifting my arms to my Daddy, the way my three year old lifts her arms to me.  It felt as though He was standing right in front of me and I lifted my arms and He picked me up and held me close.  I haven’t ever felt that way when praising God during musical worship.  I always feel, well, worshipful but this time I felt a deep loving and an intense feeling of being cherished. 

I know that one of my favorite things in the whole world is to pick my Bug after she has had her nap and get the first cuddle.  She will stand in her big girl bed and raise her arms up as high as she can.  I swoop down and gather her close, breathe in the scent of her and it feels like my heart joins with hers in those few moments.  The connection of that embrace is powerful.  

THIS is the feeling I had this morning. 

I wonder how often God waits for us to lift our arms to Him and call out for our Daddy.  Yes, if you have read other posts on my blog you know I feel that reverence of God is vital to a healthy walk with Him.  I am not saying to focus on just one side of His multi-faceted personality but I did experience a part of God’s Love in a way that I had not experienced before… and it was precious.  As I sang the rest of the song with tears in my eyes I fell a little more in love with Jesus. 

Have you ever experienced anything like this?  I would love to hear more in my comments…

The Lyrics to My Delight is in You by The Passion Band:

My delight is in You
On Your word I set my heart
You are peace, You are calm for my restless soul
You light my way through the dark

I want to know You even more
Holiness is my desire
Purify, burning me, come and make me clean
You refine me in Your fire

Here I am, open arms
Draw me close Your heart
You’re my life, You’re my refuge
My delight, my delight is in You
My delight is in You

My delight is in You, Lord
You’re the treasure I have found
You’re the rock where I stand
I will be moved
All my life is in Your hands

What I found is a new love
All about showing you Jesus
Oh I found You, spring up from who you are love
All our days left, all our days left, Lord

Find us far
My heart toward desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You my master
Ready to do for You

Here I am, open arms
Draw me close Your heart
You’re my life, You’re my refuge
My delight, my delight is in You
My delight is in You

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Response to The Idea that Missional Living is the New Legalism

A blog that was written for  Live58:.  Make sure you check out their site if you haven't been there!

This blog was written in response to an article by Anthony Bradley.  To see the original post with all the pretty pictures click here.

My 3-year-old, Hannah, tends to be the way that God teaches me the most about my relationship with Him and His desires for me. In the past week she has started to have her first consistent chore: emptying the dishwasher. 

She does it while I cook dinner, and it’s a huge blessing because it’s ready for me to load with our dirty dinner dishes when we are through eating. It is a joy for her to do it for me. Her excitement is so contagious I almost want to do it myself. Almost.

Just the other day I was thinking about the idea that the push to be radical and missional in life has become the "new legalism," and Hannah’s little chore came to mind.

What is it that makes my 3-year-old want to unload a dishwasher in the first place?

Is it because it’s the most fun that can be had in our home, or did she attend a convention where she learned that other 3-year-olds were doing it and she felt guilty because she wasn’t

No. She wants to do it because I do it. 
She wants to do it because it provides her more time with me. She wants to do it because I’m the biggest influence in her life. She didn’t wake up one day having never seen me touch the dishwasher and decide that she wanted to unload it. She watched and learned by spending time with me and then began doing it out of love and a desire to emulate me. 

This is how being radical or missional should work in our lives. It should be because our biggest influence is Jesus. He is the one we are trying to model, and He is the one we want to spend time with. 

Because we love Him, we try to live like He did. 

This isn’t about working for working’s sake, or suffering or sacrificing as some kind of penance to get into Heaven. This isn’t about guilt or shame or a works mentality. Salvation is a free gift, and Jesus Himself said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt 11:30). 

Just like for Hannah, emptying the dishwasher isn’t work—it’s an opportunity to be more like Mommy. One day emptying the dishwasher may feel like work to her, but that doesn’t mean that my expectation of her following through on her chore will change.  

Just like for me, some days it’s harder to be as radical. It’s easier to buy that pair of shoes that I’m drooling over even though I don’t need them than to remember that the $20 I’m about to spend could give life-saving water to someone in need on the other side of the globe. But even in those times, it doesn’t mean that I stop living a missional lifestyle—it means I look to Jesus. 

If I am going to err, I want to err on the side of following Christ’s words to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, cover the naked, visit the prisoner even on the days that I don’t “feel” it—not because it’s legalism but because He is still my standard.  

The argument in Anthony Bradley’s article is that the idea of “loving God and loving our neighbor” isn’t enough for the missional minded. I am here to say that loving God and loving our neighbor is the most missional, radical thing we can do with our lives when we truly walk out what it looks like to do it. Loving God looks like doing what He has asked us to do (Isaiah 58 and Matthew 25, just for starters).
And Jesus answered the question of who our neighbor is in the “Parable of the Good Samaritan” in Luke 10:30–37. The neighbor to the man that was wounded by the thieves was the man that took mercy on him even though he was the farthest example given of an actual neighbor. Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”  I believe this applies to our literal neighbors as well as our neighbors all over the world. 

The goal isn’t to guilt the average Christian but instead to spur each other on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). It’s to put our walk where our talk is and look different than the rest of the world because we have a different standard and He said we would be known by our fruit. It’s to truly love God and to love our neighbor in Jesus’ name.

It’s to empty the dishwasher because we love the cook.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Best Gift I Can Give My Daughter... a repost

I am so sorry I have been gone for the last month!!  I have still been writing just not on my blog.  I have included a post that was a blog post here and then updated to a post for an amazing website called Live58:.  Please check it out if you have never been there!

Original post on Live 58 can be seen here.

Sometimes you dream of a special moment in the future with a loved one. Sometimes your view of that moment can change quickly and drastically for the better.

I’m not talking about a hypothetical situation; I’m talking about a very specific moment I was excited to experience in the future.

When I was 15 my parents bought me a beautiful aquamarine ring for my birthday. It was during a time in my life when I was struggling with a number of things (being adopted and knowing I was loved was at the top of the list), so this small ring represented a daily, physical reminder of my deepest emotional needs at the time. It made me feel loved, wanted and beautiful. I wore that ring with pride for a number of years. 

Fast-forward 18 years. It had been a long time since I’d worn my aquamarine ring; instead it had been safely tucked away in my jewelry box, waiting. Waiting for my daughter, Hannah. Her birthday is also a blue-stone month birthday. I had been thinking about the special day in the future (she is only three) when I would give her this ring, talk to her about all of the love it represents and have it signify a covenant between us.

I had pictured her face when I would pull out this special ring and give it to her to wear and keep as her very own. What a special bonding moment for mother and daughter, the start of a new family tradition.

But now that isn't going to happen, at least not in the way I had originally thought. Together, Hannah and I have chosen a different moment to cherish: the moment we gave our ring to give another little girl fresh water. 

In Nov. 2012, I first learned about a ministry called With This Ring. The ministry began when Ali Eastburn felt God call her to sell her wedding ring and to donate the money toward drilling a well in Africa. My heart was immediately gripped.

I began volunteering with WTR in December and began praying over how I could support the ministry without giving my engagement ring (which I was and still am unable to do at this point in time). Over and over, I felt my mind being drawn back to this aquamarine ring. But its emotional significance and my desire to pass it on to my child did not make for a quick and easy decision. I felt like this ring was a part of my heart.

But when I pictured a mother holding her crying child—or worse, her dying child—because they didn’t have clean water, I realized I had the ability to do something about it. 

However, I didn’t feel like this ring was mine to give alone. 
Live58 BlogPostHeader1
So I sat Hannah down and showed her the ring. I put it in her hand. She put it on her thumb and ring finger. Sheooh’d and ahh’d over it. We talked about how pretty it was, and she said she liked it very much.

Then I told her there was a person that could use this ring to help others. She could sell it and give clean water to someone that didn't have anything safe to drink.

Hannah listened intently. Then she looked at me and, with maturity far beyond her years, said, "We should give it to them.” I held out my hand and she placed the ring in it. Later that day we went to the post office and put it in the mail.

This decision wasn't made quickly or lightly. After wrestling with the thoughts of giving this ring away versus keeping it for my daughter I realized there was a more important gift I could give Hannah than a beautiful ring to wear.

Instead, I could give her the gift of modeling and teaching her what it means to truly love someone. What it means to love Jesus and what it means to love our neighbor.  

I know she is only three and doesn't fully understand what we did, but I have to believe that a seed was planted deep inside that will bloom in His time.

I want Hannah to know that Jesus is a treasure so great that He is worth giving everything we have. I didn't want this beautiful ring to sit in a jewelry box for another 10 years when children just like mine are dying from a lack of clean water everyday. This ring, along with other gifts sent to the ministry, was able to make a life-saving difference for a village in India.

I am still looking forward to the day when Hannah is older, and together we will choose a ring for her to wear as a physical reminder that she is called to live a life that glorifies God with her heart, soul, mind and body.

Now I am also excited that in those special moments I can show her pictures of her perfect little hands holding this ring and tell her the story of giving it to Jesus together.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
Matthew 13:44

Monday, June 03, 2013

Being Boaz

I started reading through the New Testament last November/December.  I didn't have a goal for each day just time in the Word.  I could stop as many times as needed or reread a chapter if I felt like I needed to.  Instead of a Bible study which is topic based (not knocking those, I am a big fan) I felt like I needed to take the verses in groups.  I needed to read what Jesus said all together; to not just enjoy one verse but to see what led up to it and what came after it.  This was very eye opening and a huge builder of my faith.  Once I read all the way through I thought I would go to another part of the scriptures (Psalms, Genesis) but it didn't feel right, so here I am reading through the New Testament again.  I am craving the Words of Jesus.

This morning I began with Matthew 1 and as I was drawn to the fact that Boaz's mother was Rahab.  First, I love that she is included in the lineage of Jesus.  He didn't come from perfect people or the queen of the land.  He came through incredibly imperfect people who choose Him over everything else.  I also thought about what that must have been like for Boaz.  I am not going to pretend that because this happened hundreds of years ago that kids were any different.  I am sure that Boaz dealt with his fair share of meanness from other children that knew his mother's lifestyle before the fall of Jericho.  I am sure that just like it would be today, Boaz's elementary and middle school years could have had some bullying in them.  

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

See, Boaz always seemed like a Superman character to me, this grand man on his horse riding in to save the beautiful and desperate Ruth.  Now in my mind I see a man that knows what it means to belong somewhere but not feel like he belongs, to know the cruelty of people and the sting of rejection.  I see a man that rose above his possibly troubled youth to become a hard working, wealthy field owner.  This is the man that I see extend grace to Ruth.  The one to make sure that his workers watched over her and took care of her.  I wonder if he saw a younger version of his mother in her, a young woman doing all she could to provide for her family (in this case Naomi, her mother-in-law)?  I see him doing what 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, reaching out in the comfort that he has received to comfort another in their affliction.

I love that the verse says that we can use the comfort that we received from God in our personal affliction to comfort others in any affliction.  Maybe the thing that we are experiencing right now is going to be useful not only in our lives but in the lives of others that will need comfort.  

This week I am going to think about how I can be a Boaz to someone.    

Well, time for work.  Thanks for joining me for my Monday morning thoughts.  I hope you have a wonderful day!  

Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Weight of the World on my Finger

I need to talk about something.  I have to tell you I am struggling.

It all started about 7 months ago.  I came across a website that pretty much changed my life. If you have been on my blog before you have heard me share about it.  It challenged me to live for others instead of myself (something God had already been doing in my heart) and gave a radically practical way to do so.

I could donate my engagement ring and use it to drill a well for a village who doesn't have clean water.

I was ready.  I jumped in with both feet only to realize that, on this particular situation, I couldn't jump alone.  This jump required my partner, my husband, to be in the exact same place.

And we are rarely in the exact same place at the same time.

We are both busy and although we usually have dinner as a family we are so busy catching up on our work days and the Bugs latest activities that we do not have a chance to have the deep spiritual conversations.  Plus, God speaks to us in completely different ways and sometimes even the follow up actions from those God conversations look vastly different.  So, when I realized that I needed to speak with the Hubs about donating my ring I was immediately nervous.

Instead of waiting, praying and seeking God about how to approach him, I sat down and just blurted out what God was doing in me about radically giving.  The issue is that in the midst of my verbal vomit the heart behind my "why" got lost.  Oh, I have such regret over how I approached him.  It should have come as no surprise to me that the Hubs not only didn't get what I was talking about (seriously, I did a really bad job of explaining it) but I did such a terrible job that I actually made him feel like my ring was of no significance to me.

That couldn't be farther from the truth.

I absolutely love my engagement ring.  It tells the whole world that I am loved.  It is a beautiful ring and knowing that my sweet husband saved and worked hard to buy it and then that he went and picked out the stone and setting all by himself makes me feel like a queen.

It wasn't because I don't care about my ring that I wanted to give it, it is because I love it dearly that I wanted to give it.

The "why" of giving my ring goes back to Matthew 25:31-46 (that when the least are thirsty, it's really Jesus), Matt 19:16-22 (the rich young ruler, hung up on his stuff) and Matt 13:44 (the man that sold everything to buy the field with the treasure hidden in it).   It is a sacrifice that I can make and one that I feel I am called to make to my sweet Jesus who sacrificed everything for me.  Because Jesus is the one that is thirsty and I want to give Him water with my best.  It is because there are entire people groups in the world that are dying and going to Hell without knowledge of Jesus and when a well is built in their village it is an immediate, tangible way of showing them that they are loved.

I have heard from family and friends that what I want to do is crazy.  They get disturbed at the thought of me giving up such a precious item.  Heck, I even think that is valid.  It is disturbing to give up such a precious gift but do you know what is more disturbing?  The mother holding her child as he cries because he has contaminated water in his stomach or worse, the mother that just lost her child because of the lack of clean drinking water.  In light of those things, how can I not give it?

When I look at my finger, with the beautiful sparkling diamond on it, I no longer see the gift from my husband but instead I see faces of thirsty children, mothers without hope and fathers that cannot provide for their families.  I see half a village worth of people around the stone because that is what my ring could provide, about half a village worth of water and the eternally life saving knowledge that Jesus loves them.

So maybe I was being dramatic when I said that I had the weight of the world on my finger, maybe instead it is more like the weight of 125 lives.  As I look at the poverty and pain in this world I think about something that Francis Chan said once.  He said that people so often say that when they get to heaven they have questions for God about why He allowed such suffering and ugliness on this Earth.  Francis goes on to say that he thinks that in those moments that God will probably ask back why we let the poverty and pain happen.  That God left us on the Earth for a purpose and, at least for many of us in the US, we had the means and the ability to address it.  Why did we allow the suffering and not step in?  Why did we allow people to go hungry and thirsty and not step in?  Why did we allow the girls and boys to be trafficked and sold into slavery and not step in?

I am tired of not stepping in. 

I don't want to look back at my life and my possessions and wish I had made another choice.  My ring has signified many things over the years, first how much I was loved and the thoughtfulness of my husband, then when I couldn't give it, seeing the ring reminded me to live each day to the fullest in order to be able to reach out with God's love to the most people, but now, when I see it I mourn the lives it could have touched.

All I can do in this moment is respect my husband's current wishes and still act faithfully on the things that I have control over.  I look forward with great anticipation to the day we can give this together and I look back and see how God used these days and this struggle to bind us closer in the process.  I encourage you to listen and do the will of our Father.  He has the best gifts for us, even if it looks like giving away our finest Earthly possessions sometime.  His faithfulness is unfailing.

Thank you for listening.  Can I pray for you?  You can comment any requests to me and if you write "private" at the beginning I won't post to the website.