Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How to Really Live

I am not a baby person.  I prefer when I can reason with my kids so they will stop crying.  I like it when they can walk, so I don't have to carry them everywhere.  And, I like my sleep.  But when a friend of mine came over the other day with her little infant, I wasn't prepared for what God told me to do.  Six hours later, I realized what it means to "die to ourselves so we can live".

God made our hearts so that when we give of ourselves to others, He fills us with Himself.  I am learning that I would much rather be filled with God than with myself.  He doesn't get tired, doesn't get irritable, and is full of peace and joy.  Watching that little infant was awesome.  Mom got a break, my kids were thrilled (two of three), and I was able to experience the joy of living out of myself.

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it."  Luke 9:23-24  The Message translates it this way "Self-help is no help at all.  Self sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self."
There's a reason for this commandment from the One who made us - He knows what will bring us true joy, AND what will bring others to Him!  Seeing that (HIS) joy; and being recipients of that (HIS) love.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Ultimate Fashion Designer

I've been assigned to sitting on Genesis 3:21 for a week (by Belief Changers Int'l).  Wow!  Here's what is says, for those of you who haven't memorized the whole Bible yet - slackers:  "The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them."  Put in context, it's right after the fall.  Right after they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil; right after they received their curses for disobeying.  This baffled me.  It taught me how to parent, though.  After they receive their discipline, take care of them.  God actually made them clothing AND put it on them!  He knew fig leaves were lame and would never work.

But there's more.

And this is the part I missed; the even bigger part.
God had to kill an animal in order to make clothes for Adam and Eve.
Blood had to be shed in order to cover sin.
And it still does.  Every time.  God had this planned out all along.
Being clothed in Christ means using His blood to cover our sins.  Put Him on and accept His Robe of Righteousness - even for the sins we have yet to commit.
"God made them coats of skins:  large, strong, and durable, and fit for them; such is the righteousness of Christ." - Matthew Henry

I couldn't find a picture cool enough for this - you're gonna have to imagine what that looks like on you.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Don't Chase Bikes...

Moose walked right into a big snowbank today.  He has been known to walk into parked cars and fall off curbs because when he looks at other dogs or runners or bikers, his body tends to follow.  Sometimes I try to hold him back, but other times I just let him go (no not after people, into a snowbank) - hoping he'll learn his lesson (and, it's funny to watch).
Why does he do this?  He gets distracted - he thinks the biker would be more fun to run after, but doesn't realize he's going to work all day and would be pretty lonely.  He thinks the puny little dog would be fun to play with, but he doesn't know that all that dog does is bark and he would get a headache.

I think this is the way God is with us.
Because He gives us free will, like I sometimes do with Moose - we mess up when we don't follow Him and run into roadblocks when we allow ourselves to get distracted with other things.  He wants us to follow Him because we love Him, knowing His way better than ours.

God tells us often in Scripture that He will tell us where to go if we listen to Him.  He tells us not to "swerve to the right or the left"; guides His people with clouds and fire, and gives us His Holy Spirit that tells us "this is the way, walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21).

The road is still going to throw stuff at us, but our footing will be strong knowing our path is HIS.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SALT

After walking the other morning and almost falling more than once, my appreciation for salt grew.   I've been really into Sea Salt on my fajitas; but this was new...  I would rather walk on the street, knowing it is salted, than the safety of a sidewalk that you never know what you're gonna step on.  You have to take these teensy little steps to get anywhere safely, and I like taking big, certain ones.
The Bible says we are to be salt.  So that must mean, we are to be this for others.

Salt is for preserving food to counteract decay:  So that means we are to fight the decay of the culture...

Salt is also for adding flavor:  Matthew 5:13 says we are to "bring out the God-flavors in this world." (MSG).  That's a great translation - show others how awesome God is!

I really want to be salt for my kids.  I want to be a firm place for them to land.  I don't want them to have to take little, unsure steps around me.  I want them to be able to come to me and know that they will get support.
I want to help keep them from the decay going on all around us in the world.
I want to help the Gospel taste awesome to them; making sure I don't give it to them in huge doses so as to push them away, but in small, tasty, bites - so they want more!

And I don't ever want to lose my saltiness - because when salt gets wet and dries up all that is left is the white lines on a stinky old T-shirt.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Coffee and Holy Spirit

2011 was a year of dropping lots of unnecessary foods for me.  White sugar, white flour, dairy, alcohol and carbonated beverages.  But one thing I do not feel the urge to drop is coffee.  Everything I read says to stop drinking caffeine, but I don't really feel they're talking to me.  I like the way I'm eating and drinking and am not really feeling the need to listen to them (them, being the authorities).

One reason I am keeping my coffee for now is because it warms my body.  I can take Moose for walks early in the morning and not at all be affected by the cold temperatures because it's flowing in my blood.  I go out two hours later to take the girls to school and am freezing.  The walk goes by so quickly (and enjoyably) right after my coffee, but if I go in the afternoon, it seems to take forever, and my nose hairs freeze.
I think this is the way the Holy Spirit works in us.  He wants to fill us so much that we are unaware of the nasty stuff going on around us; unaffected by the evil - overflowing with a sense of "peace that passes understanding" (Phil. 4:7), something beyond which we can fathom!  That is an awesome gift, one that I need to remember that I have more often.  And be aware of throughout the entire day.

Another thing it does is wakes me up!  The Holy Spirit wants to do that for us, too.  Living life to the full is something we can do when we realize that, as His children, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is living in us!

I can only have coffee in the morning, otherwise I feel dehydrated.  Something very different from the Holy Spirit; we can be filled with Him all day long, and it only gets better...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jesus' Feet

The other night I had the weirdest dream - that I even remembered when I woke up; and actually got something out of.  First time for everything.
Apparently a friend of mine had just had a baby, and she came over with her husband at about 6am the very next morning to display the baby to me.  Literally, she held her out right at the front door on two open palms (the baby was sitting up, which is odd since she was born yesterday, but, remember, it's a dream).  My thoughts were - she's crazy, shouldn't she be home sleeping, or just cuddling with her brand new baby; or still in the hospital?  She needs to get out of the cold and hang out and just be with her.
Then I read about Mary of Bethany an hour later.
Every time she is seen in the Bible, it's at Jesus' feet.  When Martha is cooking and cleaning; when Lazarus had died; and when she is pouring perfume on them!
She found her strength and joy and peace at Jesus' feet.  He wants us to find the same thing there.
He asks us to follow Him, but how will we know where He is going if we aren't at His feet?
I have been trying to figure out what He wants me to do for Him, when He really just wants me at His feet.  And He will lead me the rest of the way.
Just like the crazy new mom who wanted to take her baby out right away; that's nuts.  Jesus wants us to just hang with Him sometimes; be alone; don't always try to do things for Him - spend time knowing Him.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Is it Really Discipline?

I love teaching Spinning in January.  There is so much energy in the class; lots of people, and it makes it way easier to teach in that environment.  I wish everyone would stay...          But I know they won't.

Christine Caine is someone I've been hearing about lately, and I checked out her website yesterday.  She wrote an article in the New Year about being a "Have To" person or a "Want To" person.  Which one are you?  I realize this is pretty general in that some things we are "have to" and others we are "want to".  But what if everything we did, and were supposed to do was from "wanting to"?

The ones in the gym now, who won't be there in a month, are going to the gym because they feel like they "have to".  The ones who are there in November "want to".

Then I saw an article entitled "The Myth of Discipline" by Charles Poliquin (a well known weight training coach).  In it, he brings in a very interesting word - love. Are love and discipline related?  Being a health nut; I can really relate to this.  He said discipline is really about what we love.  What we love determines what we choose to do.  Do we love being healthy or do we love Krispy Kremes?

If the decisions we make each day are a struggle - we need to check on what we really LOVE.  "Yet I hold this against you; You have forsaken your first love." (Rev 2:4)  It happens.
When we really love Jesus; we will "want to" make decisions bring Him honor and glory.  Love makes discipline unnecessary.  Love propels us forward to new and greater heights.  Love was first shown by God, and now He wants that love to overflow in abundance out of us!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Best Man or Bride?

I'm glad I was walking the dog while it was dark this morning because I was grinning ear to ear; then the grin just froze for the rest of the walk and people may have thought me to be a little loopy...    I wasn't - just  really happy with what I was imagining...

I'm reading through John for the first 21 days of the year, so today I'm on John 3.  I was planning on parking on 3:30 "He must become greater, I must become less" spoken by John the Baptist, for the day,  but as I re-read the context, a new thought came to mind.  The Message version does a pretty cool job of explaining this quote.  He talks about being the best man for the groom, Jesus.  Once the groom shows up; the best man's job is done and he quietly slides out of the picture.  So, I thought this is what I needed to do. BUT, the Bible doesn't refer to us as the Best Man - it refers to us as the Bride!!!  What?  I get to be bigger; all eyes on me?  "Cool" is an understatement.  I am to be radiant because of who is in love with me!  I CAN be, get to be - a beautiful bride because of who is in love with me.
I pictured my dad telling Jesus - "You better take good care of my daughter".  And Jesus replying - "You have no idea..."

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Lessons From a Nun

I had the pleasure of reading the book, Unveiled, by Cheryl Reed, while on vacation last week.  I am not Catholic, and have honestly not ever been intrigued by Nuns, probably just because of ignorance, but this book title looked really similar to "Unchained", so I pulled it out of the shelf at the library, saw the cover, and said - okay, let's see what these girls are really about.
After I got into it a little bit, living in a convent with a bunch of women who love Jesus seemed pretty appealing to me - it would be a nice break from the (sometimes) rat race here.  And I don't think I'm too attached to things I own, so the vow of poverty might not be too bad (easier said than done, I'm sure); and, celibacy - well, check that one.

The author took several years checking out different convents around the states, and learned a ton while doing so - like how amazingly different they all were.  My favorite of the group was Dawn Mills - she is actually the "Mother" of a group in Tucson, AZ.  Here are some of my favorite quotes of hers:

"None of this getting up at 3 in the morning; three o'clock is a fine way to end a beautiful evening  It is a lousy way to start a day.  And no vegetarian communities; I am not giving up meat and men in the same lifetime!"
Most sisters would go to bed early and get up at 2 to pray, then go back to bed for another early wake up.  They are also mostly vegetarian, from what I read.  She broke the mold, as a lot of them have.

"If you don't believe there's a Higher Power then this life is the biggest waste of time you can possibly imagine.  If there's a Divine Energy that runs through the universe, then it seems that somehow making contact, plugging into it, channeling, connecting with that energy and bringing it in contact with humans has value.... joining a monastery and taking on the vows is the ultimate self-sacrifice for God...  giving up everything the world claims to be important in order to badger the boss."
My argument was usually, don't we need to be out there  - to teach others about Jesus; rather than shutting ourselves off from others?  But I quickly learned from this book that prayer can be just as powerful, and these women have devoted their lives to it - so should I, whether in my home or out of it.

"If you really want to give up your will - have children!"
This one made me feel that I'm good where I am!  There will not be three little girls left to their own rearing because their mom ran off to a convent - I can be more in love with Jesus and talk to Him more right where I am - starting today!  A great New Year's Resolution.