Monday, September 30, 2013

The Idol of Self in our All-Natural World

There have been quite a few health-related articles showing up on my facebook home page these days. Articles about how bad Subway is for you. Articles about the vaccination debate. Articles about how drinking Coke is one of the worst possible things you could do to your body. And to be honest? I'm quite tired of reading such articles.

While I have definite opinions about Subway, vaccinations and enjoying a Coke, this blog isn't the place to share such beliefs. But what I will share is this:
I'm worried that we've taken this whole healthy, natural living thing too far. 
Don't get me wrong: I'm all for eating healthy. Choosing fruits and veggies over Doritos and french fries. For substituting milk or water for pop. For exercising and taking care of our bodies. And if you're one of those who soaks your own grains, buys all organic and butchers your own cow: more power to ya. I wish I had your time, energy, and resources.

What worries me is, that in some ways, I think we've made idols of ourselves. Of our bodies. That we put more importance on what we put into our mouths and into our stomachs than on the One who knit our bodies together (Psalm 139:13-14, Matthew 15:10-11). That we're so concerned with making a better, longer life for ourselves that we forget the One who has our days written in His book (Psalm 139:16). That in the back of our minds, we think we can control outcomes and situations that are completely in His hands (Matthew 10:29-31).

Consider this:
  • Do we spend more time researching vaccinations and all-natural options than we do in the Word?
  • Do we spend more time arguing about the vaccination debate with others than we do sharing the Gospel with the lost?
  • Do we spend more time cooking healthy, natural dinners for our families than we do in service to those who are hungry? Both at home and abroad?
I'm not trying to say there's a right and a wrong. I'm just wondering where our hearts are in all of this. And that my friend, is between you and God alone. May our hearts always seek Him first in everything we do.

"'I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them nor serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am jealous God . . .'" - Exodus 20:1-5, NASB (emphasis mine)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Every Story

I was sitting in a rocking chair the other day, drinking tea, and listening to music, when my eyes landed on the tagline of the Jesus Storybook Bible. 

"Every Story Whispers His Name"

It made me stop and think. How does my story whisper His name? 

What about your story? 

How does your life point to God? He's involved in your story, your life... Do you realize it? Do you see the thread of His grace woven through your life? 

Sometimes, because of my busyness, or my lack of focus, I forget, that even my story whispers God's name. Because He is the Author of this life I'm living...His name is whispered.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Disconnected from the Vine

Can I be honest with you? I am completely exhausted. Our little boy had one of the worst nights of his healthy life last night. I have three piles of (unfolded) clothes and towels on the couch. There's probably at least two, if not three, more loads I should get done in the next couple of days. I feel in over my head serving on the MOPS leadership team. Did I mention I'm just plain sleep-deprived? So all of this seems so much worse than it actually is?

I'll also admit that, the past week and a half, I've neglected time in the Word. So my relationship with the Lord has been rather distant. And my heart hasn't been in the right place as a believer's should be. I've been selfish with my time. Jealous of my husband's time which has been so busy with ministry-related events. Not wanting to do anything for the sake of the Gospel.

But the other night, in exhaustion, I finally picked up my Bible. I randomly flipped open to a passage in Jeremiah. Interestingly, whenever I've just "randomly flipped" open my Bible the past couple of weeks, it's always landed on this passage. I never read it until last night, though.

"Thus says the LORD, 'Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD. For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant.  
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.'" - Jeremiah 17:5-8, NASB (emphasis mine)

I was struck by this passage for a number of reasons:

The reminder not to trust in my own strength to accomplish things, to not put my trust and hope in other people but in God alone.

The truth that, as a believer, heat and drought will come. Difficult times, difficult seasons where I always feel tired simply because I am a mom of a one year old. Times when I feel like I have nothing to give and frankly don't even want to replenish that supply.

Yet, in those difficult times, those difficult seasons -- I should be growing. I should be bearing fruit.

Not because it saves me. But because it's a testament to the One who is my Strength. Who is my Supply. Who is the Giver of Life.
"'Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.'" - Jesus, John 15:4-5, NASB (emphasis mine)
So what should the exhausted, fearful me do? Get some sleep. And never, ever pull away from the Vine.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Wasps and the Love of God

I know there's going to be many who don't like me for saying this, but truth is: I'm ready for a good, hard freeze.

It could have something to do with the fact that I have tomatoes coming out of my fingernails and toenails, and if it freezes, well, I guess we'll just have to be satisfied with the 30+ pints of salsa and 10+ pints of pizza sauce already made. It could have something to do with the near 100 degree heat last Friday and me feeling tired of feeling hot. Mostly, though, it has to do with bees and wasps and flies: it can freeze so they all die. (Harsh, I know.) But  one of my biggest summertime nightmares as a momma came true on Sunday: Ezekiel was stung by a wasp. Right on his temple.

Poor little guy.

I'm grateful that since it happened, it happened at a time when Jordan was home. While Zeke cried in pain and I cried because my baby was in pain, Jordan was the logical, level-headed one. And thankfully, nothing more happened to Zeke: no allergic reaction and within fifteen minutes he had stopped crying and began playing with his trucks like nothing had even happened.

All the while, I kept wishing that the stupid wasp had stung me instead. I would have gladly taken away that pain from my little sixteen-month old.

And then I started thinking about God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the pain bestowed upon Him on my behalf. 

God the Father allowed His Son to be beaten. To be humiliated. To be become sin. To die.

Because He loves me

What kind of love is that? 
"'For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.'" - John 3:16, NASB (emphasis mine)
"He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all . . . " - Romans 8:32, NASB (emphasis mine)
"But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." - Galatians 4:4-5, NASB (emphasis mine)
I'm grateful God loves us the way He does. Not the way I love. Because I would have protected my son. I wouldn't want to see him suffer. Praise God He loved us enough to let His Son suffer in our place so that we have a home with Him.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

We become...

... like those we interact with the most.

I've been realizing just how true this is in my own life.
As a Christian, it's easy for me to get caught up in trying to improve my own life through focusing on working harder on fixing the symptoms of problems in my life.

But, in doing this, all I end up doing, is spinning into a cycle of frustrated, constantly slipping, stunted growth. It doesn't last, and it often doesn't feel worth the effort.

Have you ever experienced this? Maybe you do regularly, like me....

Instead of focusing on the ill symptoms in our lives, what if we were to focus entirely on the one thing which can bestow on us lasting, peaceful, growth?

Any ideas what that could be?

Our relationship with Jesus! You see, it really is true, we become like those we interact with the most.

I've realized if I want true, deep growth, it can't come from my own effort or strength. It has to come as a result of Jesus' work, through the Holy Spirit, in my life.

And how does that come to be? How does that actually happen?!

Through spending time with Jesus. In His Word. In Community. In Worship. In Love. In Humility. In being preached to. In serving others.

All this can really be summed up in one word: RELATIONSHIP.

Deep, intimate, longsuffering, loving, relationship.

May Ephesians 3:14-21 become a reality in each of our lives, that God would be glorified!

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.