Thursday, December 9, 2010

What do I value?

"Seek peace and pursue it.  Set your face like flint to find that place of peace that goes beyond what you see or understand naturally. Allow Me to elevate you above the things of the world, above your circumstances, and above your disappointments to a place of absolute freedom in the Spirit.  Release yourself from all that keeps you from receiving all that I have promised, says the Lord."
 

I was just thinking about this very thing and then opened this from Marsha Burns and there it was. What do I value above everything? Peace and the ability to be myself without putting on a mask of fear or rebellion or frustration. I value earthly people with whom I can be myself (without makeup). I value people who are real with me. Funny thing, these can be peaceful people but they do not have to be. Sometimes peaceful people are the least real. The peaceful mask is covering up who they really are. 

I value messed up people because they are real.  I value people who will yell and stomp their feet and rail against injustices in their lives and the lives of those around them.  I value those people who yell  their prayers at God and scream for mercy. It’s those people who recognize God’s grace in their lives when it comes.

I value people who can laugh at life and with whom I can laugh. I value those with whom I can tell my deepest, darkest mess up and they will laugh with me.  They help me not take myself so seriously.

I value people who will challenge me to be better and live better.  Those who hold me accountable or who I allow to hold me accountable are very few.  To me there is no greater gift than someone who cares enough about me to ask how things are going in the areas I am struggling with.  Sometimes it comes out in humor but always I know they have my back and I value that.

I value elderly people and their wisdom.  Far too often in this world, we relegate the elderly to some corner of a facility. We tell them what to do when. Their lives, though, have value to us and to the world.  I thank God for who they are.

I value children who climb up in your lap even when you don’t invite them.  Who talk to you like you are the only person in the world. Because at that moment in time, you are the only person in the world to them.  What a gift they are and they don’t even know it!  All they want is the attention of someone older and larger than their tiny world.

I value God's presence of peace in my life. For me that only comes when I'm in constant communication with him and listening to His still, small voice.  I value God’s constant presence going before me and behind me, hemming me in, surrounding me, sending His angels to minister to me, pick me up when I’ve fallen, comfort me when I’m down, rejoice when I’m obedient.

No matter who you are or where you are in your navigation through this world, I value you. Being human is not easy.  It is sometimes lonely and depressing and frustrating and overwhelming.  What would the great times in life be without the difficulties? How would we be overcomers without something to overcome? So, celebrate today if for no other reason than the fact you are alive.  Think about the positives in your life.  And, as it says below Jesus will have your back.  He'll stand guard over the most vulnerable places in you.  Things may seek to hurt you, mess with your emotions, frustrate your mind, but when you are focusing on Him, He promises to stand guard.  To me, that's a WOW! I hope it is for you as well, because you are valuable just as you are.

  Philippians 4:6-8  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things.

Monday, December 6, 2010

God directs moving objects...

There are many reasons to sit on the sidelines of life.  Some people want their experience to be prefect.  They want their home to be perfect at Christmas, all nice and clean, perfectly decorated.  I'll take mine almost decorated and partially clean. If that happens I will be so happy, even without my perfectionistic tendencies. 

It is a known fact, however, that it won't get perfectly clean if someone doesn't clean it. And yes, I hire an awesome cleaning crew who does a top to bottom once a month but in between the floors get dirty, dishes have to be washed and laundry put away.  We can wish things were different, but that just doesn't work, take it from me.  

What I've learned is that God directs moving objects. You have to be doing something for him to direct you.  I love Isaiah 30:21, "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, This is the way: walk in it."  When  you get to that place where you're just not sure of the next step, pray for guidance and take a step. Listen with your whole heart, soul and body for that gentle nudge from the Spirit. He won't let you go wrong.  


Recently, God nudged me about something I was writing or wanting to write and said, "Be still and know that I am God."  The word I was emphasized strongly. I thought it didn't fit with this moniker that I'd had for awhile saying God directs you when you are moving. That day, I learned stillness is moving.  It's moving closer to God.  That movement brings more clarity and focus that an entire month of going here and there and asking, is this it?  Is this it?  


I came upon some road construction today on a road I use a lot every day. As a matter of fact I went up and down it three times today. Each time, the trucks had moved to a different place. Just when you thought you knew where they'd be, the next time they'd moved. I figured it was just God keeping me on my toes, seeing if I were paying attention and not texting as I drive, like I had promised Oprah.  


I think you can see a beautiful possibility here, God is directing us to move. If we are all moving, things are getting accomplished. Road work is getting done. I'm getting my errands done.  Down the way someone may be going to visit a sick friend at the very moment a doctor is discovering a cure for her illness. I would be very concerned about this world if no one was moving or only a few were moving or everyone was waiting for someone else to move.


There is a song by Switchfoot that speaks to this. The lyrics say:

"Welcome to the planet, Welcome to existence, Everyone's here, Everyone's here, Everybody's watching you now, Everybody waits for you now, What happens next? What happens next?

"Welcome to the fallout, Welcome to resistance,The tension is here, The tension is here, Between who you are and who you could be, Between how it is and how it should be.

"I dare you to move, I dare you to move, I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor, I dare you to move, I dare you to move, Like today never happened, Today never happened before."

It's not about laying on the floor waiting for someone to discover you and help you up.  Sorry, I'd help you up if I knew you were down there, it's just sometimes hard to know that you're hurting that bad, especially when you're on the floor.  It's not about forcing God to tell you something. It's not about being perfect. It's about moving somewhere, doing something to make a difference. And as you move, it's about desiring to be directed, moving out cautiously and listening with your whole being.   If you find yourself stuck, it's about getting unstuck.  If you find yourself defeated, it's about finding something to be victorious about.  IF you find yourself overwhelmed, it's about finding someone else who is more overwhelmed than you and sitting beside them for awhile.

Take a step in a direction, any direction. I dare you. I dare you to move and then listen for that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, the Refiner, refining your steps into boundless, limitless possibilities. And then, let me know how it went.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Living in Abundance: A Tale of Two Farmers

This is a tale of two farmers.

The first farmer didn’t have any money. He lived in a small wooden shack with dirt floors. The house was owned by his employer a rather wealthy farmer. Each day the farmer went out and worked hard for his employer, plowing fields, harvesting crops and taking care of livestock. This farmer was very poor.

The very poor farmer had six children. He rarely saw his children because he worked from sunup to sundown. When he came home at night, he wanted the children in bed so he did not have to hear them crying, complaining or whooping and hollering in play. The children all learned very quickly to stay out of their father’s way. If they did not, they might get the end of switch or worse, yet, they might witness their father giving their mother a similar treatment.

Every Friday, the very poor farmer would get $10 pay for his work and a little bit of whatever the wealthy farmer had left over. He would give whatever leftovers the farmer had given him to his wife to feed the family for the next week. His wife would then tell him what she needed from the grocery store in town to help round out the family meals for the week and a list of other needed items.

With the $10 in hand, the very poor farmer would begin his five-mile walk to town. This week, as he walked he repeated to himself what things he needed to purchase from the store. About a mile from home, though, other thoughts seemed to creep into his mind. “I toil all week long, why should I have to spend all the money I make on these things? I really deserve something more for working all week than bringing back this list of wants to my wife. Who does she think she is anyway, telling me what to do with my money?” By the final mile, the thoughts were overwhelming. “I could just buy myself one thing couldn’t I? I deserve that much don’t I?”

And so by the time he got to the tavern on the edge of town, his thoughts governed his actions. He turned, entered the door, sat down at the bar and gave the bartender a sad look as he set the usual in front of him. The very poor farmer slowly pulled the $10 bill from the pocket of his worn overalls, which were poorly patched and torn. He laid the money on the counter never to see it again.

And that day, for lack of a dream, a family began to die.

The second farmer also did not have any money. He lived in a small wooden house with dirt floors. The house was owned by his employer, a rather wealthy farmer.
Each day the farmer went out and worked hard for his employer, plowing fields, harvesting crops and taking care of livestock. This farmer was very rich.

The very rich farmer had two children. He rushed home each evening as soon as his work was done to be able to spend time talking and playing with his children. There were smiles between the very rich farmer and his wife and laughter throughout the house.

Every Friday, the very rich farmer would get $10 pay for his work and a little bit of whatever the wealthy farmer had left over. He would give whatever leftovers the farmer had given him to his wife to feed the family for the next week. His wife would then tell him what she needed from the grocery store in town to help round out the family meals for the week and a list of other needed items.

With the $10 in hand, the very rich farmer would ride his employer’s horse to town. This week, as he rode he repeated to himself the list of things he needed to purchase from the store. About a mile from home, though, other thoughts crept into his mind. “I toil all week long in the fields and taking care of the farmer’s livestock, but my wife works hard taking care of our children. I want to do more for them. I want to give them a farm that one day they can inherit.. I wonder how I could purchase a farm so that I could work for my family and myself rather than just for my employer?” By the final mile and the thoughts were overwhelming. “This is a dream I must share with my wife and children and together we will work hard to make it happen. We will own our own farm. We will build our own home. We will make this dream come true.”

And so, when the very rich farmer got to town, he went to the dry goods store and the grocery store and bought the items his family needed. He was very careful in his shopping to get quality items at the best price. He was very pleased at the end of his shopping to have half the money he started with left.

Excited, he galloped home where the very rich farmer was greeted at the door by his wife and children. After hugs, he told them all he had a very big surprise. The very rich farmer slowly pulled the $5 from the pocket of his worn overalls, which had been meticulously patched so that it would difficult to see where the tears had been. He laid the money on the kitchen table and declared to his family, “This is a down payment on our own farm.”

And that day, because of a dream, a family began to live.

This is a tale of two farmers. Both were my grandfathers. One died before I knew him. One lived to pass a dream on to my family, which is very much alive today. I thank God for the very rich farmer.