Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Revolution Begins with You

When I was a high school senior, I had a unique English class. We read books, and we wrote essays, but it wasn’t a boring English class. (you can tell it’s not my favorite subject.) I don’t know what aspects of English as an academic subject I learned. We met in the theatre since my teacher also taught drama. So there was no board to write on, no spelling words, etc. But I learned something valuable in that class. I learned how to think critically. I would say our academic year in that class had a theme. If I had to put it into one word: revolution. Although I don’t think that accurately describes the whole of our discussions. We discussed human nature, and read books such as Lord of the Flies. From there we talked about conformity how one brings about change (revolution) and read books such as Brave New World and Animal Farm. There was one instance I remember clearly. We had a substitute and were supposed to watch Lord of Flies movie. Someone had Independence Day with him and convinced the sub to let us watch that instead. The next day the teacher wasn’t happy about it, and seemed just as upset/disappointed with the students in the class who knew better but didn’t say anything. I could have sworn she was talking to me. That instance fit so well into the theme it seemed, but it spoke to me about who I am. Yes I am quiet (especially at that time), but I am seen as someone who can take leadership and make a change. In my yearbook, my teacher wrote: “remember, the revolution begins with you.” Now I always thought about that as something spiritual.
Why am I saying all this? That was a lot about something that happened fourteen years ago. Because I believe that God gives us experiences to prepare us for our future. He is always setting us up for something greater. I believe that God wants me to be someone who is changing my world. There are times that I have tried this, but became discouraged. However, as I have maturated spiritually, I understand more and more how it is God working through me that his will is accomplished. I am coming to believe that it is possible to create change and not lose heart. (and when I say believe, I mean not theoretical belief, but living it out kind of belief.) When I read about BSSM this morning, this memory about my English class came to mind. I believe that God is going to use that to springboard me into a “revolutionary” life. I know God can use and change us wherever we are. And I don’t expect him to wait until I am there to work in my life. I know he has a lot to do with me, even in preparation for the school. When I think about what BSSM will require: financially, with my time, my commitment, etc., it is scary. It will stretch me, but following God with all my life is worth it. I will lay down my fishing net to become fishers of men.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

My crazy mind

This has been a rough week at work. It is one of those seasons when I wished I didn't work here. I love my boss, but we have both been under the microscope lately, as well as underappreciated for what we know and can do. What happens to me occasionally is that I get so focused and excited about God and serving him directly (because working at a Christian university is serving him indirectly) that I lose interest in my job. I have been very excited about God recently and want to soak up as much as I can from him, and learn more about him. When I get to this place where my desires are ministry-purpose centered, I see less purpose in my job. And when I don't feel appreciated and don't feel that there is eternal purpose in my job, I want to be here even less. It's a terrible slippery slope.
(One would think that at a Christian university people would be gracious. Instead it seems that they hold others unwaveringly to a high standard and will not deviate from the law. I get wanting to have integrity, but it is often past that, as the human aspect is overlooked. Well, ... I don't want to rant about that now, but did want to explain a little of what is bothering me.)
So today I read my friend's blog about their church. It was about how the church is the people, not the building, and not a service with a rigid program and sermon. Oh, how I want to go there. Being in this place of struggling contentment, I just want to quit and move. (which is how I felt yesterday, even before I read this.) I have been thinking a lot of how I am tired of living the way I am. I don’t know exactly what this means, and perhaps it’s the devil misconstruing my perspective of my life. I know God can use me where ever I am and I am praying he will use me where I am and I do see areas where he is using me. But I want more. The thing is, and this is what further confuses me, he has taught me so much over this past year about how loving him is superior to serving him, and that serving him doesn't have to be through a program at church, or a big project (i.e. foster child. I know that was right and learned a lot from it, but I know I don't have to do something that monumental.) So I want to serve God with my whole life, but I don’t what that looks like.
Being part of a body of believers who are passionate about loving God is important. I haven’t served in the church for over a year. I was on the worship team and in children’s ministry. I quit children’s ministry and never got invited back to the worship team. I haven’t attended a small group in some time. I feel very disconnected. I have signed up to work in a different part of the children’s ministry, so I am making steps. I like my church, but am not excited about it. I was to be just as excited about the body of believers I am part of as I am about God.
I don’t know where this leaves me. From the steps I have taken trying to see if God will open doors, I have seen closed doors. I wasn’t considered for another position and didn’t get accepted to a master’s program. So I don’t see my future heading farther into my current career (which actually makes me happy). The only thing I see as a positive for the 'right now' is a likely (and overdue) raise. So it seems God has me here for a while. If this is even for only one year, it is difficult. And more so thinking I won’t be around long and in expectation of something better. I guess all this is just to say where I am and prayers are appreciated.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Romans 8:1

There is a difference being feeling guilty and feeling convicted. Perfection does not come overnight. We cannot live life to its fullest if we are constantly focusing on our mistakes. We need to live in the freedom that Jesus has given us through his blood. We need to ask God what he has to teach us, listen to Him, and obey what He says. A runner cannot jump hurdles until he has learned how to run. Let us not condemn ourselves or each other for not jumping hurdles when we are still learning to run.

Romans 8:1 "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Jesus didn't die so we can live good lives

(this is a bit ramble-y, but I should be working, so oh well. I just have to get my thoughts out.)
I had a really good discussion the other day which lead to this revelation in the shower. I felt the need to share it then. Jesus did not come to earth and die for our sins so that we can live a "good Christian life." The majority of Christians will say that leading a morally good life is the most important thing of being a Christian. (I read this in UnChristian, a book put out by the Barna Research group.) Wow! We as Christians are really missing the point. If that was the reason Jesus suffered and died, then it was in vain. The Pharisees had good living down. But Jesus chastised them, and told them they were missing the point. (Now he never told them living clean was wrong, but...) Jesus said it is about relationship. We need to reach out to those who are not loved, and love them! But before that we need accept God's love for ourselves- what would our lives look like if we really understood God's love for us? I have had just tastes of this and I know that is not the way so many of us strive to live (including myself). We would not be focused on the right and wrong. We would not be calculating how much time we spend in the Bible, and how many verses we read. I read a book from the Bible 2 weeks ago and I am still processing that! We so often look at quantity. If we can read one verse and be challenged or encouraged, then let's take time to mediate on that one verse. Anything we try to do out of our own power is going to fail. We need to focus on God, receiving his love, and let our lives flow from that. When I am focused on God, I am not concerned about every little detail, but paradoxically he is influencing every little detail - so much more than I would be able to do on my own.
On a related strain, I was thinking about how this would affect the way we teach our children. (speaking generally here as I do not have children) What if I did not teach my child that one thing is right and another is wrong? Don't freak out! Hear me out. What if instead, I taught them what is loving; what is God's character? We attended a message on how people often view right and wrong as determined by the Bible, but he (Josh McDowell) taught instead that right and wrong is determined because what is wrong is against God's character. So I was thinking how would this shape the way we teach children? I think with this approach, we could end up some amazing children, who love God and others throughout their entire life. If a child understood God's love from the beginning, then he or she would naturally share that. That's the way children are. And so we would have children blessing other children and adults like crazy. When they grew up, instead of rebelling against the rules, having understood God's love, they would be lights in their lives, loving and caring for everyone around them. What an impact that would have on the world. I get so excited to think about it.

Wood and Gold

So often when I think of what is expected by the Christian church, and even as perceived from those outside, is a misunderstood humility. An extreme example are those who live a monastic life. God does not call us to live without, but he calls us not to be dependent on our physical belongings. When Jesus told the rich man to give up his wealth, he was asking the man to put God before his possessions. This was not a requirement to be without, but an example of where our priorities should lie.
I feel that who I am supposed to be "as a Christian" is also influenced at times by this mis-perception: that as a Christian, many people feel I should not want earthly possessions, and if I do, then I need to pray about that. It is okay to want things, but the deeper desires, those for God should overpower the smaller earthly desires. And I would say this is true of myself. Yesterday I said, "I would like to have a nice home with nice furnishings, but relationship is more important to me; I would give up the nice stuff to be able to be with those I love and to be in a place where I can minister." (on a side note, I used to think I had to have a nice place to minister. Now I know it doesn't matter where I am.)
So all this to get to a verse I read in 2 Timothy. It says that we are like a home containing wood and gold items, and God wants to remove the wood. This caught me off guard. Personally I feel there is so much emphasis on being low, that I would have thought we would be all wood. But instead God wants to make us into something precious and pure. All this is to say that I often miss this point. Humility is not something that should be self-degrading, but it should be honest. As my example given above, I do think I need to pray about my perception of "stuff." I often mess up when it comes to (what I mistakenly see as) my things. Humility is admitting that, and glorifying God for the times when my perspective is not messed up. I need to see myself the way God sees me, as redeemed through Jesus' blood, and an heir to his kingdom. God values me and wants me to be someone of value.

2 Timothy 20-21: 20In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Before the dive

I know what I am going to dive into, but I can't wait for it. I want to know God's presence now; I want to experience him on a daily - moment by moment - basis now. So God is coming to meet me where I am.
I am still standing on the edge of that cliff, reading to dive into the ocean of God's presence, but the fog is thick, the wind is blowing, and the waves are crashing, and I am wet - wet and becoming saturated with God's presence. Because I am near him. I want to be as close as I can. But it's not time to jump yet; it's not safe.

These last couple weeks have been amazing. The trip Jerry and I took to Colorado was so much more than a vacation. It was a time to step back from the daily routine and life and refocus on God. We have always been able to talk to each other about stuff, but there we were able to talk more easily. That freedom is continuing back in San Diego, as we continue to seek God, keep focused on him, and trust in him. It is an exciting time of unknown.
We are embracing the dreams God has given us, and stepping out to prepare for those dreams. And as I say that, I know God is also preparing in ways that we don't even know. We look forward to the time when we are immersed in God's presence, and although some of what we want to do is learn to take that with us wherever we go, even now God is giving us a taste of what that will be like.
Praise God!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

On the edge

Last night I was trying to describe my recent prayers on ministry. I have had this anticipation and expectation of being used by God, but I could not describe it. I literally had no words. Some of this was due to the unknown details, another part was being uncertain if my dreams were from God. What I did understand was I felt God had put in my heart this understanding/belief that he was going to work individually in my life, in the lives of those closest to me, and corporately as well. Today I was finally able to get the right words to put together what I have been feeling/thinking.
I feel that we (myself and those closest to me) are on the edge of something big. That God is going to work, and not in a small way, and this time is imminent. So many people I know and they know long for something deeper, a relationship with another person where they can bare their hearts and work toward healing. It is so easy for fear to keep us from being real with others in the places where we are hurting; we fear that the other person will not recognize the hurt in his or her own life and judge us for our struggles. What I have been learning – learning as in understanding with my life, not my mind – is that we are on a journey. The Bible even says that we are running a race; we define sanctification as the process of becoming holy. Yet so often the corporate church, and myself, focus on being perfect – the end goal, and don’t appreciate or acknowledge that getting there is a difficult journey with struggles of many kinds. So what we long for, what we need, is a community where we can come together and support each other along this journey. I believe this is what God wants for his children.
What are we waiting for? What is holding us back from this? First, I believe everything in God’s time. Our desire and anticipation is growing for this, and when we proceed, it will not be half hearted. What results is going to be life altering. I am not supposing that some new wave or trend will start in the church; that is not the focus of this. At least not the organized church. We are looking at our lives and the people we touch. This focus on community is very personal. Secondly, we need to do this as a community and have everyone necessary in place. My friend noted that others need to come along on their own and not be pushed off the edge. This is very true. Certain relationships will force others along, and we don’t need to be causing harm in the pursuit of love. So now we gather and wait in anticipation on the edge of a cliff, to dive deep into the relationships and community that God has orchestrated.

Monday, March 8, 2010

the end of journaling?

I wrote in my journal last week. I hadn't written since November. I have found someone to talk to. He wants to hear what's going on in my head and my heart. He's always happy to talk, even if there are other things to be done. I haven't felt I needed to write my thoughts down as much since I've had someone to talk with. That's really nice.