Breathing Room…What is That?!

Confession…I don’t do the money thing well at all!

I don’t really know what else to say because my sweet man and I are still processing a video we watched yesterday. Still, I can’t find words to articulate what is going on in our hearts. So, I will leave you with a link to the video. It is good stuff. I hope you take a moment to watch. I take that back. I hope you take 45 minutes.

Until another confession…

Breathing Room: Dollars and Sense

What Promise are You Believing?

Confession for the week: I have been struggling with this concept of faith. I have always struggled with the concept of faith.  I know I’m not alone in this struggle. I’ve listened to many of you talk of failing faith, floundering faith, faith that just doesn’t seem to work.  So it seems fitting that the Give Me Faith series at Revolution would be a challenge to MY traditional opinions of faith.

I realize that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).  But what is the thing hoped for?  What is the thing that is not seen? Yes, it is God but I wonder if it is even more specific than that.   As I read through Hebrews 11, I see a parade of folks who held onto a promise and had incredible faith. Noah believed a flood was coming; Abraham believed in a promised land and descendants to fill that land; Sarah, after laughing at God, believed she would give Abraham that child; Abraham believed God would intervene somehow when sacrificing Isaac; Moses believed God would use him to lead the Israelites to the promised land. I could go on and on, but my point is they had faith.  But I have to wonder if their faith was clear because they knew what they were promised and weren’t going to let go until they saw those promises fulfilled.  I suppose I struggle over the promises.  I believe I am unclear about what God has promised me?  There are so many promises in God’s Word…which ones are for me?  Now before you tell me they are all for me I want you to think first.  Which ones are the ones God is promising me and you specifically?  SIDEBAR: Don’t do the cliche Christian thing and tell me they are all for us and we should start claiming them all.  There are too many TV speakers who are telling me that all I have to do is believe and my life will be filled with money and conflict resolution and an easy life.  That isn’t biblical.  As a favorite speaker of mine says, You can’t claim to believe in a guy who was rejected by his family and village, was betrayed by one of his closes friends, was in essence poor, homeless, and eventually beaten and executed for his claims and then expect to live a life of ease and comfort.  I’m asking you and me to be a little more specific and take the effort to find out what God is saying about your life and my life.

I’ve embraced that God will never leave or forsake me (Genesis 28:15; Deuteronomy 31:6,8; Joshua 1:5). I also embrace that God’s grace is sufficient for me.  (2 Corinthians 12:9).  God won’t leave us alone.  He’s right here with us.  He’ll stick with us even though life is hard.  And God will be enough to get us through this period of our lives, but through to what?  What is the purpose? What will we get through to?  I don’t know.  I believe that is why I am struggling with my faith.  I don’t know what I’m believing for.  I’ve been in survival mode and just trying to get through.  Maybe what I need to do is get out of survival mode and start believing what God has promised me.  I need to find out what God has promised me.  That would probably be a great place to start.

Until another confession…

Grafting Pains

According to the University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture, grafting and budding are methods of asexual plant propagation that join plant parts so they will grow as one plant. These techniques are used to propagate cultivars that will not root well as cuttings or whose own root systems are inadequate. One or more new cultivars can be added to existing fruit and nut trees by grafting or budding. What I gather this means is they take two parts of two different plants and shove them together. The hope is the strengths from the two will combine and drive out the weaknesses to form a super plant.  What am I telling you this? James. The Give Me Faith series.

19Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. ~James 1:19-21

That word implanted is more accurately engrafted. I wanted to know what that meant if God was going to do it to me,  you know?  Yeah, it doesn’t sound so simple.  NO wonder this faith walk is so taxing. The area I’m being greatly challenged with this week is the idea that I am not the assessor of souls.  So, here’s my confession for the day: I have played the assessor of souls.  I have judged people based on their appearances.  I have deemed one worthy of my time and the other unworthy.  I have allowed one’s status in society to determine whether or not I will magnanimously dedicate time to said person.  What a pompous buffoon  I have been?!  As if I really were qualified to make that decision?!

As I find God’s Word en-grafted into my heart, I find there is little room for my pride and arrogance.  As He slices my heart open and places His love there, I find the first weakness in me to be attacked is the weakness of my own character.  I am a woman of many faults and I am not as mature as I once thought.  As he begins to sew up the graft site and secure His love in place, I find that the new addition is quite uncomfortable.  Love and disdain cannot occupy the same space where people are concerned.  As His love begins to grow in me, I find that my ideas of who is worthy and who is not worthy begin to change and transform as well.  As I look at the word “filthiness and rampant wickedness” it would be easy to bring to mind the murders, pedophiles, rapists, and injurers of the innocent.  But this letter was written to people in the church.  The audience was not primarily filled with such filth or wickedness, at least that’s my thinking. What if the “filthiness and rampant wickedness” were the words James was using to describe the arrogance, smugness, disdain, and scorn that was considered to be common with regard to those who were not only poor in material wealth but poor in spirit as well.  I’m guilty of those things.  I am guilty.  The grafting process is a painful process, but I can’t help but wonder if this may be the only way to get a regenerated heart.  If so, then bring on the pain.

Until another confession…

Desires and Good and Perfect Gifts

I shared a meal with a girlfriend this week and it was great time of flesh challenging and faith building.  Ladies, if you don’t have a friend that does that with you…CALL ME! You need that in your life.  We’ve been building this friendship for a while but recently it has become a iron sharpening iron kind of relationship.  It’s a godsend.

We spoke of motherhood and the dreams and ambitions we had for ourselves.  I laughed as I recalled mine to her.  Here’s my confession for the day: I was going to be the next Beth Moore or the next Joyce Meyer.  I was going to change the world in front of millions of people.  Now, that ambition, in itself, isn’t a bad ambition to have.  The motive behind my desire was wrong.  I’d like to tell you that it was so that God could get the glory and so that I could point millions of people back to God.  However, I’m not so sure that was it.

Detour, we’ll get back to the point, I promise.  The Revolutionaries are going through James.  This week’s reading has addressed the desires of our heart and how they lead us one way or another.  As I read today, a thought struck me and I must share it with you.  I’m sure you all got this idea a long time ago so bear with me. Today I reread two verses and realized I sin because of my desires.  My desire to be comfortable, my desire to be loved, my desire to be in control, my desire to have power.  In and of themselves those things are not wrong, but how they play out in my life can be the difference between sin and obedience.  James says this:

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.  ~Jame 1:14-15

I am enticed by my desire. STOP! I realize that in order to make the most out of this opportunity I’m going to have to examine my desire.  I’m going to have to find out a little more about this desire before I make my next move.  Which leads me to understand that my desires are for the most part pretty self-serving.  I desire to be comfortable, so I might choose to sit on the couch with a blanket and watch TV all day in search of my comfort.  I’m thinking after a couple of days of that…we might start getting into the sin region.  If I desire to be loved I might be willing to compromise my values and beliefs in pursuit of that love.  You see where I’m going with this.  So what am I supposed to do?!  The next verse speaks of this:

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth bythe word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.           ~James 1:16-18

God wants to give us good and perfect gifts. I wondered what kind of gifts God would want to give me and what it is that He desires for us.  What is it that HE wants for me.  And then a verse came to my memory.

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. ~Psalms 51:6

The word can be used as delight or desire.  This verse was written by David after his desire led him to murder Uriah and commit adultery with Bathsheba, actually it was the other way around.  He knew he was wrong, but he also knew that God desired truth from David about his sin.  Psalms 51 is his confession of that sin.  Which led me to think that maybe TRUTH is the answer.  God desires truth for us.  He desires us to be honest with Him about who we are.  He already knows, but what a difference it makes when we know it. Truth in the inward being.  Truth about the core of who I am, as flawed as that may be.

So back to my point, as I embarked on my journey as a mother, I realized it was hard work and there was no glory in it.  Being a mother isn’t glamorous.  Being a wife isn’t glamorous.  My desire to be a great speaker to millions of people was born out a desire to be noticed.  It was born out of a desire to have people stand in amazement at how far I had come.  I wanted people to marvel at how brave, strong, and godly I was.  There was nothing in me that wanted God to get famous out of the situation.  As I’ve settled into my role as a mother, I realize I have nothing to say that is new.   However, the gift of motherhood and wifedom has brought about good and perfecting things in my life.  I am pursuing truth in my inward parts and discovering who I am and how flawed I am and that has brought about a peace about my current roles.  As I embrace that truth I am gaining wisdom.  I don’t know what the future holds for this crazy girl from the hood but I know that I can rest assured that whatever it is, will be a good and perfect gift from God.

 

The Idols of MY Heart

As we Revolutionaries go through the book of James with the Pastor Man, we’re being challenged on way too many things for my liking.  Am I wrong? No, I’m not.  Our current series is called “Give Me Faith“.  The talks are titles as follows, Storms of Life, Doubt, Pursuits, and Fighting Temptations. Yes, one right after the other.  WOW! It’s been a heavy series for sure.  I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much, as I’m gaining some valuable truth from these talks.  It is practical and relevant truth that will serve to make me a better person…so I will count it pure joy to learn these truths.  If you’re interested in hearing the talks click on the link above and it will take you to the pages.  But seeing as how this is supposed to be confession time, I should get on with it.

Confession, my idols are as follows comfort, approval, control, and power.  Some would have chosen one, but I know they all play a part in my twisted phyche so I’m confessing to them all.  I gave them to you in the order of importance because  as looked at the different “Idols of the Heart” the pastor man references in the talks recently, I realize I value comfort.  Blah! My comfort zone is my most valued possession.  I have sacrificed much to maintain it.  I have given up friendships, people I love, opportunities, just to stay in my comfort zone.  How embarrassing to admit this truth! It plays right into my idol for approval.  Even as I confess my idol I immediately feel the urge to delete for fear of what you will think of me.  Which goes right in to my need to control because I want to control what you think of me. I want to control my image and the way I portray myself.  THEN I will have the power to make you love me…there’s a little more of the acceptance drama playing there.  SHEESH! No wonder I’m tired all of the time.  I’m busy running around trying to maintain my idols and in the famous words of Janet, Miss Jackson if you’re nasty, (sorry I got sidetracked) WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY! My idols do nothing for me, but wear me out! I would be better served by following Jesus’ advice in Matthew 11:28 – 30

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The point that sticks with me most from Saturday nights talk is this: We plan our steps into sin.  We must plan our steps our of sin.  What is sin you might be asking?  Sin is simply this: You separating yourself from God. You can debate me if you want and you can have a different definition, but for me, this makes the most sense.  I’ve got to make a plan to get out of my patterns and habits that lead me back into the arms of my idols.  I’ve got to stop separating myself from the God I choose to believe in.  It’s not going to be easy but I’m looking forward to the journey.  How about you?

Until another confession…

Count It ALL Joy? Easy For You To Say.

My confession…I do not count it joy when I meet trials of various kinds.

The pastor man is taking Revolution Church through the book of James in a series titled Give Me Faith.

Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds James 1:2.

I must be honest, I have not always counted my trials as joy.  I have complained and whined and moaned and groaned about my trials.  I typically try to ignore them.  Maybe if I do that they’ll go away.  Just a note, that never happens.  If I’m honest, and of course I’m going to be, I would rather just pass on the trial.  Another confession…I would rather leave the maturing and growing and developing to someone else.  It would be easier for me.  Of course, it would not be in the best interest of my family or my community, and so I continue to make the effort.

It is easy after You’ve gone through a trial to count the lesson learned or the end of the trial as a blessing.  It’s easy to look at certain aspects of a trial and find some high points, usually there aren’t many, but there are one or two.  However, I’m getting the feeling that James is emphasizing here that the whole trial is occasion to have joy.  The pain you feel is occasion for joy. The tears you cry are occasion for joy.  The heart that rends is an occasion for joy.  Why? How else would you feel the wholeness of health after pain?  How else would you feel the sweetness of laughter after tears? How else would you know the restoration of a broken heart?  They are all a part of the lesson.  The failures we experience in life before we taste success are all of a part of the trial. Count it ALL joy!

Some of you know I lost a friend last Thursday night.  Lou Vukovich.  He was a godly man who loved God’s people.  That loss has broken my heart in ways that I didn’t anticipate.  I’ve shared this loss with friends and I can see that some want to ease this pain for me and my husband.  I appreciate the depth of their love for us, but we knew that we had to go through the breaking for a purpose.  The heart wrenching knowledge that we waited to long to tell him what he meant to us has tenderized our hearts in a way that only brings about change.   We are making efforts to seize the moments placed before us.  We are purposing not to procrastinate on the things that are important.  We are purposing to be more deliberate in telling those we love how important their presence is in our lives.  We have struggled to count this trial as joy.  However, if James is right, we’re going to keep on counting.  We know he has finished his race and is able to rest.  Yay Louie! You did it man! And now my prayer is, that this trial will test our faith and produce steadfastness in us.

Until another confession…

Rejoice in the Lord Always

I read this yesterday in the Revolution study guide I’m going through as we read through Philippians.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.      ~Philippains 4:4

I grew up attending a private school and we sang songs that were basically scriptures put to music. This one sticks in my head from time to time.  I don’t know that I fully grasped what that meant.  So, as I read it yesterday I asked God to give me the eyes to see and the ears to hear what it meant.  I’d like to share what I’ve been pondering.

Rejoice in the Lord always may seem that you’re always happy and subscribing to a Pollyanna type mentality, but I don’t think that’s what it means.  God knows that life is hard and that we get beat down sometimes with the details of our days.  Mortgages, bills, illness, broken relationships, troubled childhoods, and the list could go on and on. To rejoice means to be glad; to take delight.  This indicates to me that it is a choice rather than an occurrence.  You don’t just get rejoicing by accident, you rejoice on purpose.  “Why would I want to do that” you may be wondering.  You may thinking, “I have nothing to rejoice about”.   Yes you do.  As you rejoice and find joy in the circumstance, Paul promises us that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.  I don’t know about you, but my mind gets pretty wacky sometimes.  My thoughts of insecurity and doubt are enough to paralyze me if I let them.  You can’t tell me you don’t have the same problems.  If you do then I need to come to your house and learn from you instead of Paul.  Let’s not even start talking about the different ways my heart gets hurt on a daily basis.  No we won’t go there.

“Fine.” You may be saying, “How do I rejoice?”  This is what I’m thinking.  We have two ways to look at situations.

1. This situation sucks and I want out of it now. Can someone show me the exit please?”

OR

2. What can I learn from this situation?  What is God trying to develop in me? How can I come out of this situation more mature?

Start to look at the situation and find where you can grow and learn.  Start to get excited that you’re going to develop discipline in an area of your life that you’ve probably allowed to get out of control. Start to be happy that you’re not going to leave this situation the same way you entered.  Isn’t that enough to get you excited?! I’m getting excited just typing it.  So….

REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS…not sometimes, or when you feel like it, or if you have time…ALWAYS…and just in case you forget and wonder what it was you were supposed to do…AND AGAIN I SAY REJOICE!