Thursday, May 27, 2010

Daily Bread

What a whirlwind these last two weeks have been -- what a journey of learning and back-tracking, re-learning, and - oh, the constant, constant praying.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.

I started out thinking that my heart was in a good place for this support-raising-business. Sending out the well-written, honest newsletter? Check. Calling up to set up face-to-face appeals? Check. Praying for our supporters? Check. Putting my trust in the Lord? Check - or, wait. I have take that back. Because my trust has been challenged, my distrust has been unveiled, and my humbling prayers for help have been re-made again and again.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Our daily bread. Amen and amen.
This has been my new prayer. The amount we need to raise each month seems impossible for me. And it is -- praise the Lord!

What I've learned is that sometimes my guise is trusting the Lord, but I'm really trusting a person. I have started some days in crushing disappointment because someone we thought would be a main supporter decided not to meet with us - not to support us - not even to sit and converse with us. Then the Lord reminds me, I see I was resting my security in the person, not the Godhead - in the mammon, not the Holy.

The money has not come in the way I expected. But this is good, friends, because the Lord is teaching me much, much more about my relationship to Him.

And I am learning to take each day one breath at a time.
Each meal at a time.
Each penny at a time.
Daily bread.

I have no idea in what creative way the Lord will decide to provide for us in this period of our lives, but I'll tell you -
it's going to be amazingly and poignantly awesome.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Differing Degrees of Complacency

It’s a common story.

Girl seeks God, God meets Girl, Girl decides to follow God.

Girl remains where she is.

The inner thoughts process is something like, Wow, this is so cool that I finally have an understanding of my Creator. I’m forgiven, and I’ve decided to live my life for Christ and in pursuit of the Father. I am so thankful for everything he’s done for me. I’m going to start going to church so I can worship God with people. But you know, I’m not really an outgoing person, so I’m not going to say hi to anyone. Maybe they’ll say hi to me. But I’m not going to stay after the service because I hate small talk. And I’m awkward. I also don’t think I’ll join a Bible study, because there really isn’t anyone my age. But I’ll go to church. At least once a month.

What I’ve noticed is that learning to know the Father takes effort.

Coming unto Him daily takes more than will power—it really needs to be a holistic experience. You have to bring your brain into it. Your love. Your pen and paper.

When you actually meet the Creator and are willing to be malleable before him, it’s exhausting.

It’s really just easier to remain where you are.

There are periods of change, but the times of challenge are few and far between. The gaps are filled with long stretches of plodding along.

Friends, those plodding times are so dangerous because we don’t even notice the destruction. But each day, little bits of holy are chipped away until our mindset does not mirror our Father’s. If we are not on guard for the comforting suffocation of complacency, we will fall prey to its subtle demise.

Let’s not, shall we?

Today, join with me in prayer that God will reveal where we are allowing ourselves to settle into a comfort that is destructive. Ask God for the willingness to be challenged, changed, and renewed.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In other news, another blog...

This week's focus has been support-raising, thus I've been distracted from down-time and blogging.

Please check out our ministry blog here to follow what we've been up to recently!

Tomorrow is my birthday, so I'm hoping for more rest time. Until then...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jumping into Foolishness

Sunday night begins our new life together.

We will leave behind the comfort of steady incomes and human rationality, and jump into the arms of our Father.

We know where our sustenance will come from, but we do not know how or when He will act.

Suddenly, I am not afraid. The Lord has cast fear from my heart and filled it with the peace that surpasses understanding (see 1 John 4:18 and Philippians 4:7). He has empowered us with the message of the cross—which, as you know, is foolishness to the world. But he takes that which is foolish to shame the proud.

It has indeed been foolish for me to leave a graduate program that was paying me to go there, to abandon my corporate job that more than paid the bills, and now to leave an easy position that provided amazing benefits. But. His ways are not human ways.

So here we go.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;

the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength."

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Running with the Lord

What is it that I find so difficult about spending time with God?
Why do I tend towards doing everything else first, or spend more time doing everything and anything else, rather than ask to enter into the presence of the Almighty?

I thought about this on my run today. Getting myself out the door today was difficult enough, and then I let myself relax into an easy run. I didn't push myself at all, and I still felt content with that. The reality is that if I continue to run this way, I will never advance. I won't gain stamina, nor will I run those 8:30 minute miles that I do so want to attain.

As I sauntered back to my block, I realized that this same lackadaisical attitude is the one I often have towards my walk with the Lord.
I am not happy to admit this.
I don't want to admit it. But I think it must be true.

When I am running, I think about everything I have personally accomplished-- I have a "look-where-I-am-now" attitude. I just ran a 10 mile race with 30,000 other people in 10 minute miles. Two years ago, I had to stop three times during my first 5K, and now I can run six miles without stopping once. Five years ago, I nearly passed out on the treadmill after running 1.75 miles at a jogging pace. With all I have accomplished,
why the need to push myself when it's so darned difficult in the moment?

When I think about spending time with God... Do I really think in a "look-what-I've-accomplished" way?? How awful-- to think that where I am today is at all attributed to my own efforts. The grace that has been shown to me--that has led me to where I am today, with the husband and friends and church and job surrounding me--is just that: GRACE. It is not my own efforts. It is the grace of the Lord.

But I do think about where I have come from-- "at least I'm not doing X, Y and Z"-- and I don't push myself. And I think I know what a true encounter with the Spirit entails-- true change. As a creature imbedded in my old behaviors and habits, I say I want to change, I tell the Lord I want to change, but I don't. At least, not if it's painful. And dying to self, friends, is always painful.

Yet there is hope, because dying to self means life in Christ.
And life in Christ is more fuller than we can imagine.
The life he gives is more true to who he made us to be.

It's worth it to push ourselves through the difficult moments, to run that last mile as if it is the last mile we will ever run.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Taking a Cue from the OT: Spending *Actual Time* With God

Did you ever consider how long it took to prepare sacrifices in the OT?

While reading my way through the Bible, I stumbled upon one of my favorite accounts about Gideon. Instead of a usual reading this time, his careful attention to sacrifices stood out to me. Even though I've been reading over and over again about people offering sacrifices to the Lord, suddenly I thought, "Wow. Those things took a LOT of time."

"Gideon went in, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meant in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak."
Judges 6:19

It's so tempting for me to read right over these type of passages. The writer could have just written, "And then Gideon went in and prepared an offering to sacrifice before the Lord." But the writer doesn't say that. Instead, there is a nice little detailed description about the exact offering given.

But besides what he put into the offering, just think about how long it took him to do so. It wasn't a ten-minute devotion, or a lofty half hour prayer. It probably wasn't even an hour of worship. I bet it took this guy the better part of his afternoon.


I tend to pat myself on the back for just getting up and spending maybe twenty minutes with God every day... and here these people are, back then in the OT, sacrificing not only their food and livelihoods, but also their time and energy. And I mean, lots of time and energy.

Later on in the chapter (and I recommend re-reading this account in Judges 6 if you have time), God asks him to tear down an Asherah pole. Gideon takes (read this) ten men and spends basically all night tearing it down, and then rebuilding an altar to the Lord.

I feel like I have lots to learn from this Gideon fellow.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

When it's no longer effortless...

Do you ever have those times when it’s just extremely difficult to focus on time with God?

I sit there, ready. Waiting. I try to silence my mind, my own thoughts, to allow God’s voice to enter in. I open the Word, I read, I attempt to pray. My mind wanders. I long for the periods of effortless devotion, immediate connection, and spiritual “awakeness.” Instead, today—yesterday—this past week—I come into this time and feel... lost. Like I don’t know where to start. Like I forgot everything. Like my mind wants to focus on everything else. Like I’ve forgotten how to pray—how to approach the throne.

What do you do in moments like these? I want desperately to commune with the Father, and yet I feel disconnected and scattered. How do I genuinely find the Lord—how do I get to know him more fully—when my insides feel restless and squirmy?

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