Thursday, June 30, 2011

Romans 12:11

Romans 12:11 "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord."

I love this verse, but have always struggled with understanding it 100%. As I am learning more about our relationship with God and the difference between being a servant and being a friend it is strangely clearer.
God first calls us servants, and although he still desires obedience out of us, he wants to be more than our master, he wants to be our friend. I like this idea of progression, and it helps me to more clearly see how I am seen by God and how all those verses of who we are fit together.

The thing that always got me hung up on Romans 12:11 was that I was seeing serving as a draining activity, not something that would increase my excitement and give me zeal. Yes, I have enjoyed doing things for God, but as we heard at church this last weekend, those activities are the fruit of our relationship with God. It is the relationship part that is exciting - but as the verse suggests, it isn't enough in and of itself to keep zeal. It is when we share that relationship with others that we are doing God's will and serving him and that excitement is what keeps the fire alive.
At least that is what I am finding for my life.

So here is my excitement that I want to share. When I got married I gained 4 brothers and 4 sisters. (that's a lot more than the one brother Jerry gained) They grew up in the church, but it was the kind all about rules. (Well actually some of them are still there) Jerry didn't understand why Jesus died until he was in his late 20's since he never saw grace demonstrated in his family. He didn't know what it was like to have relationship with God. So now he has a big heart to reach his family so they can experience God too. This week I caught some of this passion. I did not realize that they had no understanding of being in relationship with God. No conversations with him. No idea even on how to spend time with God. Wow! There are so many times when I have felt alone in my life and only had God to turn to. I couldn't imagine what it would be like not to have that. (and especially being a Christian.) I see how much they are missing out on.

Well the youngest sister, who recently turned 17, broke her ankle. I know God doesn't cause his kids harm, but oh how he makes the best of our situations. She is always so busy, and now with no school and no physical activities she is spending a lot of time with "what to do?" Like I said, she's a teenager - so she is on facebook A LOT. We had her over last week and watched a video on how much God loves us. Then she posted something that sounded like her heart was needing some care. So I spent Saturday with her. I shared some of my heart journey with her and gave her the opportunity to do the same. She said she couldn't talk about it with out crying and was not comfortable crying in front of others. She eagerly went to church with me that night and found it enjoyable as it kept her attention! So that night I emailed her and asked her about her heart and fears - making an opening for her to share without my seeing the tears. We wrote back and forth a few times, and it was through this that my eyes were opened to what she was missing out on. Both Jerry and I ministered to her, and she ate it up. We shared worship music and she loved it. Then even had her over again this week for another video on God's love. In just this week I have seen such a change in her.

She had been having trouble sleeping. Now she doesn't go to bed without spending time in the Word, and has been sleeping through the night for days in a row. God has given her an opportunity to share the gospel with a friend she has known all her life, but who hasn't know God. I love reading her posts on facebook and it just excites me with the verses and the words of encouragement and worship songs. She is so hungry for God and it is exciting to see and be part of. I can't share everything, but I know God is using us in this way, and we have been praying for that for a long time.

So this is the service that brings zeal. Keep it coming God. Let's bring more of this family to knowing you personally. Woohoo!

I'm going to leave you with a recent facebook status from my little sister:
... okay two... here is the latest "People keep asking me what made me change. The answer: I just finally decided to live for Christ instead of myself."
... and the one I was looking for:
"so, I'm bored. I have nothing to do and no one to talk I thought for a split second. Then I realized, who better to hang out with than the one guy who is always with me no matter what?! I think I'm going to go spend some time with Jesus for a while. I like Him! He is definitely my FAVORITE!! =)"
Isn't that the best I'm bored response from a teenager?!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Accountability and Introspection

As promised - here are my thoughts on accountability.

When my hubby Jerry and I were getting to know each other, we had a lot of wonderful discussions that centered around our understanding of the Christian life. One of them was on the topic of accountability. After a while, I realized that we were talking about different things. My definition of accountability was not the same as his.
Jenn's thoughts: You talk to your close friends about the struggles you are dealing with. A lot of my experience is making sure that you are doing devotions, reading the Bible. Accountability is what kept me in the habit of quiet time.
Jerry's thoughts: Accountability is something you have with close friends to encourage each other to make the right decisions. You admit when you slip up and the other person helps you to forgive yourself and make the right decision the next time. Accountability is not to shame you into doing to the right thing, but to build up and give strength. It is not focused on discipline, but on life and grace.
While both definitions include something about struggles, one is more about the tally of success and failure and the other is about working through the failures to have more successes.
I don't know how much sense that makes, it is certainly not eloquent. But it was a fresh perspective of grace on a daily basis for me. Which leads me to my second topic. Introspection. I thought it was a good thing - to examine how one is doing on the way towards leading a godly life. But what often happens is that we spend our time focusing on ourselves instead of focusing on God. If we focus on God and pursue him, then we may stumble, but instead of stopping and staring what tripped us us, we move on. We go on, closer to God and the next opportunity to follow his direction. I am learning that the Christian life is not about doing good things and that when we focus on doing what is "right" then we miss the point. (Linda, your blog entry on being a good parent fits right into this.)

I was listening to this song earlier and the words in the verse hit me. This was the same idea - that his love is greater than what we are going through. And when we focus on God and his love, everything else fades away.

"When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affections are for me. "

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Oh, where do I begin?

Two (and a half) years ago I began blogging about the things God was teaching me and doing in my life. I had a lot on my heart and used this outlet to share. One of the first entries was on this verse: "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."
This week I have begun listening to a sermon series entitled "Dreaming with God." The second disc (covers so much, and) talks about this same Bible verse. The pastor makes the case that this verse, while often interpreted to mean that our dreams will come alongside of God's, is talking about much more than that. There are so many things that surround this idea, I can't explain it here. But the end result is that some dreams are our own, and not necessarily God's implants. That he allows encourages us to dream and choose our path. The simplest example is that the pastor advices someone to teach because that is what the student wants to do, and wait for God to change direction.
So as I was listening to this it made me wonder what I had said about this verse. In summary, what I had learned is that this verse is something that is continual. I had too often thought of it as a "someday" that would never come. These fit well together.

Prior to reading that, I read some of my last posts over the year. I haven't blogged as often as I used to, and it seems that when I do it is because I have learned something wonderful that I can't wait to share. (That's what got me started. I wanted to write about accountability. - coming soon to a blog near you! lol) And what was the most exciting to me about reading past blog entries is that I see God is continuing to deepen and expand my understanding. It was not the same as reading old journals when my struggles seemed to cycle. (coming soon - a new thought about introspection.)