Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Pressing in for the Good Stuff

When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. (Matthew 5:1-2)

Maybe you know what happens next…Jesus gives one of the greatest sermons of all-time, The Beatitudes. These words are written everywhere, crocheted on wall hangings, gracing church bulletins. Even many people who do not subscribe to Jesus’ teaching at least are familiar with the words.

But this wasn’t a sermon delivered to thousands. This was a teaching shared with the few that were committed enough to follow Him beyond the crowds. Anyone can sit in church week after week being spoon fed by their pastor. How many will go after the meat that so few seek to eat from the hand of Jesus Himself?

Lord, I want to press in for more of You – for deeper revelation of who You are, and of who I am in You. I want to know what’s on Your heart to share with me.

This is what he said:
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world – your mind and heart – put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drive you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
“Not only that – count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What is means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable…”
(Matthew 5:3-11, The Message)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Moses Meets His Match

Joy of him finally being matched...Hope for a good life together...Sadness of never seeing him again...Wonderment of the pup who was so fiesty actually leading a blind person safely...It's difficult for me to put into words the mix of emotions I am experiencing this morning as I think about the meeting I had with Eric, the man that Moses will guide for the next several years.

Moses has been in training since December of 2005. When I dropped him off at Leader Dog, he still looked like a lanky puppy with the goofy face. Last night, before me was the serious face of a grown up dog. He leaped and pawed at me, giving me a little consolation that he, too, remembered our year together.

A couple answers to prayer...Eric loves dogs. That was my hope that Moses would guide someone that would also desire his companionship as well as his work. Eric is a Christian also. I would raise a pup for anyone, ofcourse. But how delightful to hear that Moses will be attending church! In Eric's words, "I got me a holy dog!"

The meeting brought the experience of raising Moses full circle. So now is the time of truly letting go...of finishing the scrapbook...of letting go of hope (and dread!) of him not making the cut...of filing him under "Dogs I have loved."

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Changing Seasons

The leaves have not yet begun to change, but the cool undercurrents in today’s breeze betray Fall’s stealthy approach.

I am ready. Having lived in a four-season climate my entire life, my body, mind and spirit cooperate in eagerly anticipating the next season. I am sick of my summer wardrobe and am looking forward to turtleneck sweaters and bulky scarves. I am tired of the hot sun and even ready to let my tan fade into winter-white chicken skin. I am ready for flannel sheets and apple pie.

Oh, for the day when my spirit is as discerning and anticipating the next season of God for my life! The writer of Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” (3:1). There clearly are many seasons in our lives. Looking back we can chronicle them in photo albums and journals. We pass the stories over holiday meals.

But how do we know the next spiritual season is coming…and how do we prepare?

As strongly as I sense the imminence of Fall’s approach, so, too, do I sense a new spiritual season is around the corner. I’m ready because I know God is preparing me for it, even in ways I have yet to see. Until I see it with my eyes, I will rest in You and move faithfully day by day, according to Your Spirit, Lord. For in You I live and move and have my being.

My destination is sure,
The journey, exciting.
I will enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

35 never felt so fast!

This is Mike, my son. We kid a lot, and he lets me use him in many illustrations (see previous blog posts), because he tells people our stories as well.

So, my Mike story for the day :) I picked him up from the movies last night - 9:30ish - and let him drive home to get some night driving experience. First let me say, that whoever thought letting 16 year old boys drive was a good idea was probably well advanced in years and didn't remember their own child being 16. This has been an interesting experience for me as a parent, one I have yet to grow used to.

We took all surface streets as opposed to the expressways, thinking that a safer option. Besides, I knew he couldn't go faster than 35 - surely my heart could take that! Thirty-five mph never felt so fast - it's dark, I'm tired, there's more traffic than I have ever seen!

But in all honesty, Mike did great his first stint at night. Bless his heart!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Holy Spirit Parenting

My eyes opened and I was wide awake instantly. My heart raced. The room was dark and quiet. What woke me, I wondered? In a moment I heard the back door close as if someone was trying to close it gently, but the frame squeaked as it had swelled with the humidity of the night.

Then I remembered – a basement full of teenage boys. Something must be rotten in the state of Denmark!

I walked quietly to the window of our bedroom overlooking the driveway, where I captured a perfect view of a “crime” playing out below. The boys were concocting a homemade bomb!

“No, no and no,” I said firmly enough to stop them without yelling and thereby scaring them into throwing the contents on the ground. My nephew, the instigator, looked up and with the fear of God overshadowing him, whispered, “Aunt Amy,” as if the good Lord Himself had spoken to him. If my adrenaline hadn’t been full throttle by this point, I would have laughed.

My husband and I had prayed before going to bed that night to keep the boys safe while they had fun at my son’s 16th birthday party. I didn’t know exactly what to pray for – who knew they would be trying to set off homemade bombs at 4 am? But, the Holy Spirit knew exactly what to do.

…God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer our of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
Romans 8:26-28, The Message

The good that came out of the situation? I had the opportunity to “hold it together” (not overreact as I am often prone to do), and Mike had the opportunity to see the importance of pausing to think about consequences. Good growth lessons for both of us – and we are the better for it.

Will my teenage son make any more bone-headed choices? Probably. We expect them; it’s part of growing up. But I’m learning that while I cannot always be there to make the decision for him, I can trust the Holy Spirit to alert me when we need to step in – even in the middle of the night.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Book Review - The Barbarian Way

Think a moment about the cross…what happened the months, weeks and days leading to the moment when Jesus hung by His hands, taking His last breath? What do you think carried Him to that moment?

Love, Compassion, Conviction, Sacrifice – Radical living because of the Hope set before Him!

But is this what our church looks like today – untamed faith that settles for nothing less than capturing the heart of the Lord and Savior? Unfortunately, we, the church, have become downright civilized, domesticated, religious and ordered. We have fallen from our First Love.

These are not the days to bemoan the powerlessness pervasive in our pews! No, it’s time to rise and acknowledge the awesome inheritance we have, the powerful position we have in Christ and the Kingdom of which we are citizens!

Erwin Raphael McManus, in his latest book, The Barbarian Way, does a fabulous job of pointing God’s people back to the path of radical discipleship that Jesus’ first-called exhibited. He challenges all followers to leave the civilized life of safe Christianity and to take up the cross with Jesus the barbarian way – choosing passion over lukewarm religious practices.

The Barbarian Way may offend some Christians who think they have all the answers, or are satisfied with their "fire insurance." This book is not for them. Instead, this book is for the adventurer at heart, who fell madly in love with Jesus, picked up their cross without hesitation to follow Him, but somehow got “tamed” along the way. If you’re longing for your First Love and the life of adventure, McManus’ The Barbarian Way is sure to spark your faith.

Buy this book for less from a Christian-owned store - urfree2fly.com

Monday, August 21, 2006

Call My Name

When he calls me Mom, my attention snaps to whatever he is saying.

When she calls me Mimi, my heart melts into puddles of love.

The more I study the Bible, the more I am aware of the significance of names. People intentionally chose names for their children based on their circumstances or based on the kind of person they wanted their child to become. God gave people new names after encounters with Him. Our name resonates in our bodies every time we hear someone say it – whether in love or anger.

My own name means “beloved.” I never thought much about the meaning until the times in my 20s when I didn’t feel much loved. But I would imagine my parents sitting on the couch late at night, my Dad’s hand on my Mom’s big belly, a baby (me) bursting at the seams to enter the world, and them picking my name with love on their minds and with love flowing between their hearts to mine.

What I’ve been thinking about lately is how our names and, therefore identities, are added to as we become parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. These are the names that grab my heart and pull them toward Heaven.

I remember the first time Mike called me Mom, and for every day thereafter. Because he was 14 and made a conscious choice to give the gift of mom to me, I hope I never take the title for granted. I hope hearing him call “Mom” always stops me in my tracks with the wonder of God’s plan for our family.

I think with great melting of heart the way “Mimi” (what my grandkids call me) sounds in the voice of a 2 and 3 year old. Just today, Natalie (almost 2 years old) and I spent some time together swinging, playing airplane, throwing pebbles (don’t tell her mom) and just being alive together. I can hear the softness of her toddler voice with hope and trust calling me Mimi.

I smile to think I am an Aunt to two boys. Perhaps the title with the least amount of responsibility, but with the greatest capacity for fun. I love talking with Hunter, who has a better vocabulary than many people with whom I went to college. And while they live too far away, I love that they are my nephews, and that we will spend fun times together, crazy times.

What’s in a name?

A prism of all that we are and more.