Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Help, I'm Captive and I Can't Break Free

Life has a funny way of taking the wind out of our sails, doesn't it?  As I sit here tonight at this computer, I feel a lot like the boat in the picture above.  Actually, truth be told, I feel a half sunken boat about ready to capsize completely.

Have you ever been there?  For me tonight, it is weariness from the day's challenges and a moral dilemma/pride issue that I am working through,  But do you know what makes me mad?  This whole things just sort of snuck up out of no a giant wave I didn't see coming.  I thought I was progressing fairly well in my walk with Christ.  He and I have really been working on a few issues, and if you had asked me two days ago, I would have told you all about the growth I have been walking through.

But, that was two days ago.  Tonight as I sit here blogging my thoughts, I feel like I have barely begun the journey to be made in His image. Today's trials bumped right into an old splinter I thought I had already removed.  Apparently, I missed a piece and today the saltiness of life's ocean of trouble has reminded me that though I am not where I use to be, I have yet to arrive at where I need to be.  Maybe Paul said it best in Ephesians chapter 2...

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

So for now, I am going to strap on my favorite life vest and rest (or at least try to) in the knowledge that I am God's handiwork.  After all, even the winds and the waves obey His voice, and tomorrow, maybe...just maybe I will be brave enough to walk on the water and then I won't need my sails!

Join me?

**Photos from an unknown source.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dead Sea, Dead Me?

The teacher in me just can't help but to give a little history lesson before today's blog, so bear with me ;)

The Dead Sea is located in the Jordan Valley and it is the lowest spot on earth.  In fact it is 1300 feet below sea level, and it is full to overflowing with salt and other minerals.  Actually, that is why it is called the Dead Sea, the minerals that fill it up do not allow the sea to sustain any life.

Do you know why it is so full of salt?  Well, it is the only body of water on the earth that has no outlet.  As you can see on the map above, it is fed by the Jordan River, which empties into it, but there is no outlet for the sea except evaporation.  And if you paid attention in Junior High science class, you will remember that evaporation leaves the minerals behind. 
You cannot, however, tell any of this by just looking at it.  This is a picture of what looks like any other sea or ocean, welcoming and beautiful!

Okay, okay, I am done!  But, I promise God has taught me something in all of this.

Maybe you know someone who reminds you of the Dead Sea.  Someone who is full of minerals (Bible knowledge)but has stopped contributing to the body of Christ long ago.  Someone who has become nothing more than a saturated body of saltiness, who cannot sustain life.  Often times, they look fine from on the outside because it is what is inside them that is bringing death.  It is not until they "spill out" that we realize there is something amiss.  Sadly, I would venture to say that there is at least one or two of this Salty Christians in every church.  May we never be that person! 

Or maybe, someone you know has allowed themselves to become a dumping ground for other people's minerals without finding an outlet?  I think Moms are often guilty of this.  We let our kids, or other people, evaporate all the good from us without refilling or we allow them to dump their junk without finding a healthy release for it?  Can you relate, or is it just me?

If you find yourself in either of these categories, let me remind you (and me) that Jesus came to bring life, not death.  John 10:10 says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  Let's not allow satan the victory here, lets chose today whom we will serve (Joshua 24:15), but as for me and my house?  We will serve the Lord!

Gotta go, need to dig a trench for that Dead Sea of mine...blessings friend! PS- I have an extra shovel if you need to borrow one! 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I Haven't Had My Jesus Today...

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love my coffee.  People often ask me how I handle all the challenges of being a momma to 7 kids and I always answer, "Coffee!"  I have even considered asking my doctor if there was a way we could start an IV drip of the delicious energy giving drink sometime around 4 am daily.  The only thing that has stopped me from asking is that I could not taste the coffee if it was given intravenously. 
A few summers ago my family and I spent a week camping.  Yes, it was the hottest week of the entire summer. Yes we were TENT camping, and yes we had tornado like winds that nearly carried all of our belongs away.  It was, after all, a Graham vacation!  
When we first arrived it was just the girls and I. We set up camp in the last twinkling minutes of daylight and just did the minimum.  The next morning came, way too early, and we ate a quick breakfast and set out enjoying all the nature around us.  Shortly before lunch time, one of my children looked at me and said, "Mom, you haven't had your coffee yet today have you?" 
Now I am not sure what made him think this, (I was my normal jovial self I am sure) but it must have been bad because he offered to go buy me a cup from the camp store with his own money!  
            I was thinking about this memory lately and it struck me, my kids, and probably others can tell when I haven't had my coffee, but can they tell when I haven't had my Jesus?  I have recently taken up the challenge by my friend and Speaker, Rhea Briscoe.  Her challenge comes out of the passage in Isaiah 50:4-5,
"The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.  He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.  The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away."  
After sharing that passage she challenged me to ask the Lord to wake me up every morning to spend time with him.  As a momma of 7, pastor’s wife, ministry leader, and now radio co-host, I really struggle with finding time for my quiet time with Jesus.  So I took Rhea up on her challenge, and do you know what the Lord did?  He woke me up?  No kidding, but me and my stubborn heart needed a bit more convincing.  You see, the first morning He woke me up at 5 am….I said out loud, “Oh you’ve got to be kidding me,” and then I put the pillow over my head and went back to bed. 
            Morning 2 was not much more successful, again at 5 am the Lord woke me, and this time I tried bargaining with Him, “Lord, do you remember all those kids you gave me?  Well they suck the life out of me and I am too tired to get up this early.”  You know what HE said?  “Come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest…” (Matthew 11:28) Just like Him to use scripture!  It is at this point that I would like to say that I got right up but shamefully I did not.  I am so glad that God does not give up on us, even though we are so stubborn. 

Morning 3, I at least managed to get out of bed, but promptly laid on the couch, offered up a few meager prayers and went back to sleep.  But hey by Morning 4, I was starting to realize that God was going to keep waking me up, so maybe He had a plan.  I got up, sat at the kitchen table this time, and had one of the best quiet times I have had in a long, long time.  And you know what?  Not one of my kids woke up until I was finished, or should I say until God was finished? 
            You know what else?  I am certain people saw Jesus in me that day and have in the days that have followed as I walked in obedience to my wake up call.  2 Corinthians 3:17-18 makes this promise,
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  

But, we cannot be transformed into His glory unless we spend time with Him.  I can always tell when my kids have been around certain people, because they begin to talk, and act just like them.  In fact, I have a friend who spent her early years in the south, down in Louisiana.  She came back here to Illinois when she was in grade school, and if you talked to her you might still be able to pick up a bit of her southern speech.  However, when she spends any amount of time down south, she comes back sounding like she never left!  We are a reflection of the people we spend time with.  I want to be a reflection of Christ, so I best be spending time with Him! Beth Moore puts it like this in her Bible study, Breaking Free, “We glorify God to the degree that we externalize the internal presence of the living Christ. A life that glorified God is not something we suddenly attain.”   We cannot show Christ on the outside if we do not have Christ on the inside!  So, as my friend Rhea says, “I hope I look more like Jesus today than I did the last time you saw me."
            As I wrap up, I want to challenge you to spend time with God, get in His word.  I promise He will show up if you do!  Hey, maybe you can even ask Him to wake you up?  Just be careful, because He is a God of His word, so if you ask, He will answer!  And the next time someone asks me how I handle being the momma of all these kids, I am going to say Jesus  instead of coffee!  But hey, maybe they won’t even ask because they will just see Jesus oozing out of me and know that He is the reason!?  Here’s hoping!