Monthly Archives: March 2014

Clanging bells, screwdrivers and Monday

 

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, BUT DO NOT HAVE LOVE, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1 NIV
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, BUT DO NOT HAVE LOVE, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1 NIV

Our church is doing a series on marriage.

Each Sunday I have left with copious notes, a deep sense of gratitude for God’s grace in giving me Russ for my husband, and deep conviction for the greater applications of the lessons taught in regard to other relationships in my life.

Yesterday was particularly painful as the speaker (Matt Loehr/Dare to be Different) explained how we can use “tools” to try and fix people. He pulled out a variety of typical items found in a tool belt and gave a great description of each.

On some, I felt pretty smug. But the screwdriver of manipulation…ok…that one got me.

He pointed out that choosing to withdraw when we are hurt is actually a form of manipulation. I think it kind of stinks that something I learned as a defense mechanism is actually sin, but I am convicted and I am going with it.

I am so thankful when God pulls some more scales off of these blurry eyes.

He challenged me to choose, when wounded or hurt by someone I love, to love more. Instead of pulling back and withholding love, to extend love;  love I am not necessarily feeling. Love I choose to give.

And in this way, I model the love Christ extended to me.

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As the service ended, I wrote a prayer of confession and I asked God to help me lay down that screwdriver once and for all. It doesn’t fix them. It doesn’t fix me. I felt a bit lighter leaving the sanctuary without it.

Heavenly Father of my Precious Lord, Jesus Christ, I confess to using the fleshly screwdriver of manipulation in that I want to withdraw from showing and extending love when I am hurt and wounded. When I feel rejected or ignored or misunderstood, I want to pull away and in this I am rejecting Your light, Your life and Your truth. I acknowledge that when I withdraw love, I am sinning because I am doubting and rejecting YOU; Your power, Your Word over us; Your life within us. I ask for and receive Your forgiveness and Your help to repent and to walk away from the sin of lovelessness towards those who wound me. In Jesus’ Name <3

Expecting the unexpected

 

Cactus in a teapot Taken at the Hummingbird Cafe San Juan Capistrano CA
Cactus in a teapot
Taken at the Hummingbird Cafe San Juan Capistrano CA

My meditation this morning centered around Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding in Cana.

You know the story, yes? Jesus and his mother and several disciples are attending a wedding celebration and the wine runs out. Mary comes to Jesus and tells him he needs to do something. And so he has the servants fill empty vessels with plain water and then dip some out and it is wine. Not just any wine, but wine that is so outstanding that the “master of the feast” comments on it to the bridegroom. He says this is most unusual to save the best wine for later in the celebration. (John 2:1-12)

Well, yes it was very unusual considering it started out as water.

There are other times that Jesus seems to turn things upside down – like the tables in the Temple; or turning the other cheek; or forgiving sins when someone was asking to be able to walk.

Jesus just did the unexpected.

Is this what sets us apart?

When circumstances are out of control, do we remain calm and trusting?

When we are treated wrongly and unfairly, do we refuse retaliation and seek instead to bless our persecutor?

When we have little, do we give everything?

Do our reactions reflect the norm or are they as different as a cactus in a teapot?

Gracious me

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Can you feel Spring coming? It is. I just know it….and if there is any hint of snow in the forecast, please keep me blissfully ignorant!

At work this week during the lull at the end of the day, the other associate and I were straightening and chatting. At one point she asked me if I had given any thought to when I might retire. Retire. Me.

Ok, so she’s 17 years old and I guess I look like someone who might be pondering her retirement years. Small problem, you can’t really retire from a part time job that you have only done a few years. I think in the business world, they just call that quitting.

As we continued to work, I struggled a little with the idea that my years of being a part of the work force are being viewed by the younger gals as coming to a close. Well, to be honest, it just kind of stung a little.

But as I pondered it, I was reminded of a few gaffs of my own young years. Like the time I told an older woman at our church that I hoped I would be as beautiful as she when I reached her age. I was newly 30. She was …. most likely….the age I am now….

Are you cringing for me? Or do I cringe alone?

I will never forget the perplexed look on her face as she stammered a thank you. God bless her. I had no idea that as you grow older, you don’t actually feel older. Until some younger person, in ignorance, makes what they think is a sweet and thoughtful comment.

How many times do we speak out of the best of intentions, not realizing the impact on those who are just a little further down the road? Or a little further behind? Or right along side us, but in different circumstances?

And how often have we received grace?

Oh how I pray for God to restrain my tongue, slow my reactions and be someone who extends grace. To be one who extends grace for all the grace I have received. God is described in Scripture as “gracious” – disposed to forgive offenses and impart unmerited blessing.

Yes. I have definitely been the recipient of graciousness from both God and mankind. I pray today to be more like Him. More gracious.
God bless each of you today as you receive and extend grace <3

By the way…..P.S. on the Hymns comment

If you could only hear the thoughts that go on and on after I teach, or post, or converse. Because the words I speak and the words you responded with roll over and over and suddenly I want to correct something or clarify or expand or further explore with you….

Oh just imagine living with me. Ask Russ. Or our kids. It’s a treasure….

So, yesterday I talked about our introduction to praise choruses printed on half sheets of paper. But if I gave the impression that I was dissing the hymns, I erred in my writing.

I love the hymns.

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See that red binder?

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Yes, that one.

That’s where I am recording the words I don’t want to forget that rise up from years spent in pews and around camp fires and in the car. Singing the old hymns, the new hymns, the praises of God written by men and women who loved Him dearly and honestly.

When I am reading in the mornings and fragments of a song come to mind, I dig out the hymnal or google the lyrics. I write them down so I have them in one place. And yes, I sit and try to sing them. And I thank God that He receives a “joyful noise” when talent is lacking.

This singing of hymns and spiritual songs is a part of our worship – corporate AND private.

This morning the song Blessed Assurance accompanied the readings from Romans 3-5 in my mind. By faith we belong to the seed of Abraham. By faith we have been grafted in. Blessed assurance.

As I read, I heard the strains of the song by Fanny Crosby and I dug out my red book to see if I had copied it yet. No.

So now it’s in there. Along with songs by Chris Tomlin, Hillsong, Martin Luther….

And the phrase that grabbed me and will play over and over…..echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Songs through the ages, penned by saints who loved the Lord and knew He loved them. Saints who struggled and knew the strong Hand that held them.

Their voices expressing our timeless challenge to walk by faith and not by sight.

What song are you singing today?

The wisdom of wisdom

I started a 40 day prayer circle (as in The Circle Maker/Mark Batterson) last August. For Lent, I pulled the small notebook I used to journal Scripture and prayers for that season out and have been visiting that prayer journey.

It’s pretty fancy….

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And slightly complicated….

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But I think you can probably figure it out….

One of the nuggets of wisdom God laid on my heart to teach me how to pray comes from September 13th entry….Day 22.

I made a list of statements based on the passages found in Proverbs chapters 1 – 3. Because the circle of prayer I draw is around our family and around those I love, these statements lead me in my prayers, giving me God’s perspective on what He wants for each of us.

1. God, complete us all.

2. To join the company of good men and women.

3. To raise up divine appointments and interrupt the plans that would destroy us.

4. To earn a reputation for living well in God’s eyes and in the eyes of the people.

5. Hold tight to God’s wisdom.

6. Guard clear thinking and common sense with your life; don’t for a minute lose sight of them.

7. Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.

Simple prayers based on solid wisdom.

It matters. Much is at stake.

There is a generation following us. Are we leading them to follow Him?

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