Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Beyond Words

Yesterday I got an e-mail from a friend in distress. She wanted me to be aware of something going on in her life. She also mentioned that she would love to hear back from me regarding the situation, but after she had had an opportunity to spend some quiet time with the Lord herself.

I really appreciate her honesty and desire to hear God speak first into her situation.

For me, it was a display of who is her Source in her life. Sure, we all say, "God," but really, who do you and I go to first when we need some adivce, or when we need to talk?

It's so easy to pick up the phone and call a friend when life hurts or things for us are bad. It takes obedience and trust to go the Lord first. Maybe things wouldn't seem so bad if we would talk to the Lord first?

As women, we sometimes like to offer up advice so quickly when sometimes people just need for us to listen. I know I have often been convicted of doing that. One of my favorite quotes by Elisabeth Elliot is,

"Not everything has to be said, and not everything has to be said by me."

Boy, we sure feel like we need to say it all and that it needs to be said by us or people just won't "get it." How silly! We cannot play "Holy Spirit, Jr." for folk! I have learned I need to let the Holy Spirit do what He was designed to do, which was to minister and comfort believers. Sure, we are called to do that as well, but I want to be sure to allow the Holy Spirit room to do His thing first!

I'm studying Job right now and man, is it painful...and I'm only on chapter 2! At this point, he has already lost all of his possessions, his children, and has been struck with an illness from head to toe. His 3 friends come to console him, and upon approaching him, they did not even recognize him from the scars of his illness. Can you imagine? What would you say to your friend if that happened to him or her? Guess what his 3 friends said? Nothing.

"Then they sat down with him on the ground for seven days and seven nights, yet no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great."
Job 2:13

What a sad, but beautiful picture of freindship. Sometimes our silence is what we should offer our friends and loved ones in their time of pain, while the Holy Spirit ministers peace and comfort beyond words.

Friday, May 26, 2006

A Hot Mess

I believe summer is officially here in Texas! It has been almost 100 degrees everyday this week, and you can see the heat coming off the pavement! The bad thing about Texas heat is that there isn't even a slight cool breeze...the air is just thick with heat!

It's a hot mess...

As I was driving to work today, I noticed some people's yards are already starting to die from the heat. It's not even June yet! What makes matters worse is that we are on a water conservation plan, and can only water our yards 2 or 3 times a week.

As the temperature begins to rise, so do people's attitudes...including mine! It is a well known fact that crime in Dallas increases in the summer, which is believed to be a result of the heat.

Isn't that a hot mess?

What is it that makes people get short-tempered when it is hot? I mean, what about people in they just stay mad because it's always hot over there? Surely not.

Considering that it stays hot in Texas until about October, I think I better resolve to just accept that it is hot, and not subject others to the wrath of my hottness!! I was thinking about what makes me or others get ugly when the temperature rises, and honestly, there is a deeper issue there...

I think it's called lack of self-control.

I do believe that the Lord wants me, you, and every other believer to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5 says the fruit of the Spirit is: self-control. If I cannot control my attitude, regardless if it is 110 degrees outside, that is an area in my character where the fruit of self-control is a little...sour. We serve a God who will use anything to pull out, and showcase where you are not walking in the Spirit...even the Texas heat.

Now, that's a hot mess.

In the other 3 seasons of the year...I'm fine. It's jus something about the summer that does something to me. My friend Julie always says to me, "God is more concerned about your holiness than your happiness."

In relating that to life, God does not always allow the circumstances of our life to feel like a cool, spring day. Sometimes He turns up the heat in our lives to see how we will respond. For example, how do you respond when:

1. You get a flat tire
2. You lose your job.
3. You get stuck in traffic.
4. Your checking account is overdrawn.
5. You look at your life and things aren't where you thought they would be.

Well, I know how I respond to all of those things...I'm a hot mess! Hopefully, I will mature in this area. I've got the whole summer to work on it! In the meantime, I'm going to try to stay cool.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Out of the Mouths of Babes...

My friend Beth has a son, Trevor, who is four years old. He was running around one day and fell and hurt his hand, or as he likes to call it, he got a "boo boo." Taking the opportunity to make the ocassion a "teachable moment," Beth was consoling her son,

"Your'e ok, Jesus will take care of you, and make it feel better, and He will heal your hand."

Trevor looked up at her with his adorable brown eyes,

"Yeah, and He's gonna have a wooden spoon in His hand?"

Isn't it interesting that a four year old boy pictures Jesus with a wooden spoon in His hand? Of all the images, why that one? Sure, he's four years old, and we usually don't equate them being very theological, but after I thought about is an interesting statement.

You see, I don't think we as adults are much different than Trevor. I am not sure if we have a correct image of who Jesus is either. Whenever things are not going the way we want them to, sometimes we think, "God is punishing me." Or we may even have jacked up motives for serving God because we fear God will punish us if we don't perform up to His standard.

I think our image of God can be correlated with our experienc of God. Experience is great, and God invites us to "taste and see that the Lord is good." But there also must be some caution in this area, because God's character is not limited to our circumstances; it supercedes it.

Consider Job. In Job 1:1, he is described as "blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil." Yet, Job experienced tremendous suffering, all brought upon him from God. Yes, that is correct, God brought about Job's suffering...for His name sake.

I have come to a decision that either God is a liar or He's telling the truth. We get so used to hearing Romans 8:28 quoted, that sometimes it becomes a little mundane. But read it again, as if for the first time,

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

Praise God! God works all things together for our good, not for our punishment! Let's stop imagining our Heavenly Father as a punisher with a wooden spoon in His hand, ready to beat us! He is the Lamb, who was sacrifced in our place, so that we would not experience eternal punishment, but eternal life. I want to enjoy Jesus, not dread Him.

Don't you?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Highway of Rememberance

I am officially finished with my first year of seminary, and I am so glad I have the summer to look forward to. It was a great year and I learned so much, but I must say I am ready to relax for a little while. This time last year, I didn't know if I would make it through the whole year. I had no idea what this year would be like, nor did I have any idea how I would make it financially through the school year without a full time job.

I don't know why I am amazed at how God made repeated provisions for me through the year. I mean, He owns everything, yet I stand amazed at how my financial needs were met! I found myself once again on bended knee asking of the Lord to provide a summer job for me so that I can save up for fall tuition. For a minute there, I was starting to get worried.

I kept getting online, sending my resume out, e-mailing people, calling people, yet no one would call me back! I was really getting discouraged and fear was beginning to set in, until I stopped myself and began to pray. This is how my prayer went,

"Lord, I'm not going to worry about finding a job. I know you will provide for me. But, Lord, I am asking boldly that I find a job that I can begin on May 22nd, and that is not south of 6-35 (a highway in Dallas)."

After I prayed, I decided I was not going to worry. Well, later that day I received a phone call from a company I had inquired about in early April. They asked me to come in the next day to discuss the job.

I made my way over to the job site the next day, and as I drove up, I just had to chuckle at the Lord! From the office window I can see 6-35! The office is located north of the highway...10 yards from the highway!

So, not only did the Lord answer my prayer by providing for me a job, but each day when I drive up I will be able to say I don't work south of 6-35! That highway will serve as a rememberance for me that God listens to my prayers and cares for me! Isn't that funny?

Throughout the Old Testament the Israelites had many physical memorials to remember God's faithfulness and provision. Whether it be the Red Sea, the site of the Exodus, or Mt. Sinai, where God spoke to His people by the giving of the Ten Commandments, these sites and others were to call back to the attention of the Israelites the faithfulness of a God who was among them and cared deeply for them.

And for me, He gave 6-35. If that huge slab of concrete highway could speak for the voice of God, I believe it would say,

"Trust me."

What things has God given you to recall of His faithfulness? Think about those things and let them speak to you peace and rest of a Father who longs for His children to trust Him.

You may be saying, I don't have any physical thing I can recall God's faithfulness for. Yes, my friend, you do. An often quoted verse is John 3:16:

"For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son..."

If the Lord never gave me or you another thing on this earth, it would be enough because He gave His Son! Jesus Christ's life and His death on the Cross serve as a symbol of God's love for the world. Surely, the Cross cries out as well,

"Trust me."

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Downside of Seminary

Well, I cannot believe my first year of seminary is about to end. I have a final Tuesday and one on Wednesday and I will officially be finished...for four days until I begin a mini-mester course that will last for one week! I know, I am crazy!

Seminary has been amazing, and honestly, I never imagined I would enjoy it as much as I have. I have fallen in love with God's Word and I leave amazed after every class, as the Scriptures have come alive for me in a new way. I have learned that the Bible is not boring, it is not impossible to understand, but it does require dedication and thoughtful study. More importantly, the Holy Spirit's job of illuminating the Scriptures is does come to light for the believer.

However, there has been a downside to seminary. I want to be sure to say that I am not complaining, but there have been some things that have been bummers this year. The first downside has been the amount of time I have had to spend away from friends and family due to studying. There have been COUNTLESS times I have had to sacrifice away from friends in order to study.

Just this weekend I missed my friend's daughter's first birthday party. I was very disappointed to miss it, but I had to study for finals. I also had another friend who sang a solo at church on Sunday. I missed it, and I wanted so badly to be there to support her. I know everyone understands, but it has been hard to say "no" to so many things.

As a result, I have realized how lonely seminary can be. I think this is because it is so demanding, and requires a lot of solemn study, that it can become lonely. I have a deeper appreciation for community, and now I understand more why the Lord desires us to be in community with fellow believers.

We were created for companionship and for fellowship.

Consider Adam in the garden before Eve was created by God. Imagine how lonely he was as he walked through the garden with the animals, noticing that there was nothing similar to him. God said, "It is not good for man to be alone," and thankfully created a companion for him.

In the midst of it all though, God has met my need and been a companion, a friend to me. I have had some sweet fellowship with the Lord in my time of solace, which has been beneficial for me.

I realize now there are downsides to all aspects of life; in all and every season. Like my friend Priscilla says to me:

"The grass is not greener on the other side, just another shade."

How true! One season is not better than the other, each brings with it its ups and downs. I know this is where the Lord has appointed me to be in this season. So, I have been trying to seek His face and hear His voice even in the silence of my study room!

I sure am glad we serve a God who is able to work all things together for good...(Rmns 8:28); taking the downside of seminary and sweetening it with His presence and companionship.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Grateful for the Small Stuff...

During my morning walk in the neighborhood I discovered a new sound that brought a smile to my face and peace to my soul. It was the sound of the wind blowing through the huge oak trees in my neighborhood. As I listened, I noticed that it almost sounded identical to ocean waves brushing up on the shore.

How many times have I walked down the same street and heard the same sound but never noticed it; never appreciated it?

I think today was different because last night I was in a car accident that could have potentially been fatal. I was driving down the street and as I came to a major intersection, a truck, attempting to turn left on a yield hit me. The bumper came completely off and was on the other side of the road. Thankfully, no one was hurt...I only suffered a couple of cuts and welps on my arm from the air bag.

It's times like those that make you really appreciate life. From loved ones, to having mobility of your body, to the sound of the wind through the trees...
How easily we forget the small things of life that are a blessing. How quickly it can all be taken away.

What are the small things in life you enjoy?

What are the small things in life you take for granted?

I encourage you to find those things, enjoy them, thank God for them!